Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers was an English occultist and cofounder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and was born in London in 1854. Dr. William Wynn Westcott, a London coroner and Freemason, approached Mathers to develop magical rituals and teaching documents for his proposed "elementary branch of the Rosicrucian Order in England", resulting in the founding of the Golden Dawn by the two men in 1888. Through extensive research at the British Museum, Mathers produced a remarkable and revolutionary fusion of Western magical traditions. Previously, magical orders had tended to concentrate on specific areas or traditions, but Mathers' teachings were diverse, including Ceremonial Magic, Kabbalah, inner alchemy, Tarot, Enochian Magic, astrology, divination, and Egyptian Magic - all with the aim of performing the Great Work of self-realization.
Mathers married the sister of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941), and they moved to Paris around 1890-91, living initially in penury. With his wife, Moina, he set up a temple, Ahathoor, and as the power struggle within the Golden Dawn intensified, Mathers used letters and envoys in an attempt to control the London group. He considered himself the sole chief of the Order, and claimed that he was in contact with Secret Chiefs who had proclaimed him the "Visible Head of the Order". Mathers engineered the resignation of Westcott by claiming that he had forged a document used to give the Golden Dawn some legitimizing lineage, and he sent a young protégé of his to take possession of the Order's papers in London. This was Aleister Crowley, described by William Butler Yeats as a "mad person whom we had refused to initiate", who had to be ejected by a constable.
Mathers' published works include "The Kabbalah Unveiled" (1887) (a translation of Knorr Von Rosenroth's "Kabbala Denudata"), "The Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Salomonis)" (1888) and "The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage". He also founded his own magical order, the Alpha et Omega, and added "MacGregor" to his name to demonstrate Celtic sympathies. Mathers died in Paris on November 20, 1918.
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