Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
|Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers|
|Born||Samuel Liddell Mathers
8 or 11 January 1854
Hackney, London, England
|Died||5 or 20 November 1918 (aged 64)
|Residence||Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk|
|Alma mater||Bedford School|
|Known for||Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn|
|Parents||William M. Mathers|
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"Three Parts of the Wisdom of the Whole Universe"
Samuel Liddell (or Liddel) MacGregor Mathers (8 or 11 January 1854 – 5 or 20 November 1918), born Samuel Liddell Mathers, was a British occultist. He is primarily known as one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a ceremonial magic order of which offshoots still exist today.
Mathers was born on 8 or 11 January 1854 in Hackney, London, England. His father, William M. Mathers, died while he was still a boy. His mother, whose maiden name was Collins, died in 1885. He attended Bedford School, subsequently working in Bournemouth, Dorset, as a clerk, before moving to London following the death of his mother.
Mathers was an eccentric whose chosen lifestyle was unusual in its time. He added the "MacGregor" surname as a claim to Highland Scottish heritage, although there is little evidence of such in his family background. He was a practising vegetarian, or (according to some accounts) vegan, an outspoken anti-vivisectionist, and a non-smoker. It is known that his main interests were magic and the theory of war, his first book being a translation of a French military manual.
Mathers was introduced to Freemasonry by a neighbour, alchemist Frederick Holland, and was initiated into Hengist Lodge No.195 on 4 October 1877. He was raised as a Master Mason on 30 January 1878. In 1882, the same year he resigned from Masonry, he was admitted to the Metropolitan College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia as well as a number of fringe Masonic degrees. Working hard both for and in the SRIA he was awarded an honorary 8th Degree in 1886. He became Celebrant of Metropolitan College in 1891 and was appointed as Junior Substitute Magus of the SRIA in 1892, in which capacity he served until 1900. He left the order in 1903, having failed to repay money which he had borrowed.
Mathers was a polyglot; among the languages he had studied were English, French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Gaelic and Coptic, though he had a greater command of some languages than of others. His translations of such books as The Book of Abramelin (14thC.), Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's The Kabbalah Unveiled (1684), Key of Solomon (anonymous 14thC.), The Lesser Key of Solomon (anonymous 17thC.), and the Grimoire of Armadel (17thC.), while probably justly criticized with respect to quality, were responsible for making what had been obscure and inaccessible material widely available to the non-academic English speaking world. They have had considerable influence on the development of occult and esoteric thought since their publication, as has his consolidation of the Enochian magical system of John Dee and Edward Kelley.
In addition to many supporters, he had many enemies and critics. One of his most notable enemies was one time friend and pupil Aleister Crowley, who portrayed Mathers as a villain named SRMD in his 1929 novel Moonchild. According to Crowley's memoirs, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Mathers was in the habit of ostensibly playing chess matches against various pagan gods. Mathers would set up the chessboard and seat himself behind the white pieces, with an empty chair opposite him. After making a move for himself, Mathers would then shade his eyes and peer towards the empty chair, waiting for his opponent to signal a move. Mathers would then move a black piece accordingly, then make his next move as white, and so forth. Crowley did not record who won.
Earlier, Crowley wrote in his diary that “As far as I was concerned, Mathers was my only link with the Secret Chiefs to whom I was pledged. I wrote to him offering to place myself and my fortune unreservedly at his disposal; if that meant giving up the Abra-Melin Operation for the present, all right.”
Mathers died on 5 or 20 November 1918. The manner of his death is unknown; his death certificate lists no cause of death. Violet Firth claimed his death was the result of the Spanish influenza of 1918. As few facts are known about Mathers's private life, verification of such claims is difficult.
- The Book of Abramelin
- Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
- List of occultists
- Mathers table
- William Robert Woodman
- Biography from Kheper.net
- Biography from the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn
- Biography from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc.
- The Truth about S.L. MacGregor Mathers
Works at the Internet Sacred Text Archive
- The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage
- The Kabbalah Unveiled
- The Key of Solomon The King
- The Lesser Key of Solomon
- The Tarot
Works in Spanish
- (Spanish) Upasika Library