Mathers, Samuel L. MacGregor (January 8, 1854—November 20, 1918) - Witchcraft Hall of Fame

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Mathers, Samuel L. MacGregor (January 8, 1854—November 20, 1918)
Witchcraft Hall of Fame

Samuel L. “MacGregor” Mathers was perhaps the most important member of the Golden Dawn, responsible for the creation of most of their rituals. He was the first to translate various occult texts into English.

Samuel Liddel Mathers was born in London; he claimed to be of Highland Scottish ancestry, a member of Clan MacGregor, and hence his eventual adoption of that name. He is most popularly called MacGregor Mathers. He was very devoted to his Scottish heritage and frequently dressed in Highland garb complete with kilt.

(He liked to dress as an Egyptian priest too.) He was a fervid vegetarian and anti-vivisectionist, a non-smoker at a time when it was customary for men to smoke. He was a strong believer in women’s rights and equality and insisted that women be equal partners and participants in all facets of the Golden Dawn.

Mathers insisted that the order respect the truths of all religions. He created a flexible system of magic that could be used in various ways. He was a self-taught scholar with a sound knowledge of French, Greek, and Latin as well as some Coptic, Gaelic, and Hebrew.

Mathers’ major intent and goal was the translation and publication of key magical documents that might otherwise languish in obscurity in museum and library archives. He dedicated his life to the study of the Western Mystery Tradition.

He was initiated into Masonry in 1877. Within 18 months he became a Master Mason although he later resigned in order to devote himself to the new order, The Golden Dawn.

Mathers made the first English translation of Christian Knorr von Rosenroth’s, Kabbalah Unveiled in 1887. His mentor was Anna Kingsford (see page 744) to whom he dedicated the work. In 1892, Mathers moved to Paris with his wife, Moina (see page 748), where he began translating the classical grimoires into English, including The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

He was Chief of the Second Order of the Golden Dawn and author of almost all the Golden Dawn documents and teachings. Mathers introduced the Egyptian pantheon into the Golden Dawn.

He returned to London in 1910 to engage in litigation with Aleister Crowley over Golden Dawn secrets that Crowley had published in his magazine Equinox. Mathers was unsuccessful, however, and returned to Paris in 1912.

Moina Mathers felt her husband eventually died of exhaustion caused by the accumulated effects of his profound metaphysical work. Dion Fortune stated that he died of Spanish Influenza but no cause of death is listed on his death certificate. It is unknown where he is buried.

Among his many works are The Tarot: A Short Treatise on Reading Cards, Egyptian Symbolism, The Grimoire of Armadel, The Tarot, Its Occult Significance and Methods of Play, The Key of Solomon the King: Clavicula Solomonis, The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, and Astral Projection, Ritual Magic and Alchemy.