Mathers and the Secret Chiefs
by Jean-Pascal Ruggiu & Nicolas Tereshchenko
Excerpt from the Historical introduction of the Ahathoor N° 7 Temple of Paris
The Mathers left London in 1892 to be established in Paris, where they lived until the death of S.L.MacGregor Mathers in 1918. Several reasons had encouraged Mathers to settle in France:
- Firstly, the material reasons: indeed, following an argument with Annie Horniman's father, Mathers had in 1891 lost his position as Conservative of the Horniman Museum, and consequently his house in Stent Lodge, Forest Hill.
- Secondly, the personal and family reasons: Moïna wished to continue her artistic career in Paris and to join her brother, doctor of philosophy Henri Bergson, whom she perhaps expected a certain help from.
- Thirdly, the financial reasons: as specified by Moïna in one of her letters, the life in Paris was less expensive than in London at that time.
- Fourthly, the esoteric reasons: Paris was at that beautiful time the capital of Occultism. Moïna besides that stated that her husband had received orders from his Masters to transfer his occult activities to Paris (foreword to the fourth edition of "The Kabbalah Unveiled" of S.L.Mathers, July 1926).
This last point raises obviously the problem of the identity of the famous "Secret Chiefs of the Third Order" to which Mathers constantly referred.
At the time of a first voyage to Paris in July 1891, Mathers wrote to Westcott that "he had been in contact with Frater Lux Ex Tenebris and other (secret) Chiefs". Mathers always claimed that he had received Lessons and Rituals from one of the Inner Orders of Rosae Rubeae & Aureae Crucis in France in the Autumn 1891, on behalf of a Member whom he designated under the title of Frater Lux Ex Tenebris. About 1900, the Members of the G.D. believed that this famous Frater Lux Ex Tenebris was a certain Dr. Thiessen, a Belgian living in Liege who was a high grade member of the Martinist Order.
According to our research, it is possible that Dr. Thiessen would have been the descendent of Antoine Thys, a theologian in Antwerpen who would have been a member of the Rosicrucian Chapter de Cassel, founded by the count Maurice de Hesse-Cassel in 1615, at least if one believes the work of Belgian historian Charles Rahlenbeck. This work was presented at the time of the International Conference of Rose+Croix Masons in Brussels in 1888. However, Mathers and Westcott, in their capacity as Masons and high grade members of Societas Rosicruciana In Anglia, were to know the work of this famous International Conference of Rose+Croix which, curiously, took place in 1888, date of the foundation not only of the G.D., but also of the Martinist Order and the Kabbalistique Order of Rose+Croix in France. This date of 1888 was certainly not chosen by chance, because it corresponds to the cycle of 111 years of the Fraternity of Golden Rosy+Cross , whose system of grades had been reorganized in 1777 (grades that the S.R.I.A. and the G.D. adopted).
Although many authors have questioned the assertions of Mathers concerning his contacts with the famous Secret Chiefs of the Third Order, we discovered the proof that he had received an initiatoric transmission coming from the Golden Rosy+Cross. Indeed, a certain number of rituals of the R.R.&.A.C. (such as for example the Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross, the Middle Pillar Ritual and the Consecration Rituals of the Magical Weapons of Adeptus Minor) take as a starting point an extremely secret document from the Golden Rosy+Cross: it is about an esoteric comment of VIIème Livre of Moïse which differs completely from those which have been published until now. This document is entitled " Das VII Buch Mosis " (Wittenberg, Anno 1505).
Although this secret version of VIIème Livre of Moïse is dated back to 1505, it was certainly altered about 1785 by the Asiatic Brethren, because it was obviously influenced by the Qabalistic School of Shabattaï Zevi. Indeed, the Fraternity of the Asiatic Brethren had the characteristic to be the Qabalistic branch of Germany's Rosy+Cross, because it accepted among its members Jews which were attached to the Polish Qabalistic School of Shabattaï Zévi. As opposed to what many historians have believed until now, we discovered the proof that Asiatic Brethren did not disappear about 1800, but that they survived within the Masonic Order of l'Aurore Naissante ("the Nascent Dawn") in Frankfurt-am-Main, a Lodge which was recognized by the Grand Lodge in England in 1817. Kenneth MacKenzie (the writer of the Cipher Manuscripts of the G.D.) certainly knew about the existence of the Order l'Aurore Naissante since he claimed to be initiated in his youth into the Rosy+Cross in Vienna, Austria, in the entourage of the Count Apponyi who was an ambassador from Austria in Paris. Vienna had for a long time been the seat of the Fraternity of Rosy+Cross of Austria; but at the time when MacKenzie lived in Vienna, about 1840, the only branch of the Rosy+Cross Order which had survived was that of the Asiatic Brethren which had found refuge in the center of the Masonic Order of l'Aurore Naissante in Frankfurt-am-Main. Besides, it is in this city that the Reform of the grades and rituals of the Rosy+Cross Order of the Old System had taken place in 1777.
MacKenzie took as a starting point the Qabalistic lessons of the Asiatic Brethren to create the G.D. rituals. Indeed, there exists many common points between the qabalistic system of the G.D., that of the Asiatic Brethren, and that indicated in VIIème Livre of Moïse. However, the secret comment of this book reveals part of the Theurgy Rituals applied to the Grade of Magister Templi by the original Fraternity of Rosy+Cross. As these rituals always have been secret and that they can only be obtained by initiatory transmission together with the authorization of the Inner Order of the Rosy+Cross, even still currently, we estimate that that constitutes the formal proof that Mathers had received this transmission. We know that he also had alchemical manuscripts coming from the Germany Rosy+Cross, since we have a copy of these transcribed and translated documents in his own hand (for example "Sigillum Secretorum Magnalia Dei Optimi Maximi"). It is not at all impossible that he received the communication of the secret qabalistic comment of VIIème Livre of Moïse on behalf of a member of the Martinist Order, because the Chiefs of the l'Aurore Naissante (all members of Synédrion of the Asiatic Brethren) like Hirschfeld and Joseph Molitor were in contact with the very first Martinist generation, like Louis Claude of Saint Martin and Rodolphe de Salzmann in Strasbourg by the intermediary of the Order of the Rectified Scottish Rite.
We must also stress that the secrecy which surrounds this qabalistic comment of VIIème Livre of Moïse is explained by the fact that it contains "tantric" or sexual rituals which comes from the Qabalistic School of Sabathaï Zévi. However, we know, by certain allusions contained in the correspondence between the American Temples and the Mother Order of Alpha Omega, that Mathers had communicated to the members of the Grade of Adeptus Exemptus lessons of this nature (also called "Internal Alchemy"), which had caused their resignation; indeed, the majority of these members also belonged to the prude Theosophical Society and had been shocked, even scandalized by lessons which they considered "impure". These facts prove in all cases that Mathers had received most of the Corpus Hermeticum of the grade of Magister Templi of the Brothers of the Rosy+Cross or Asiatic Brethren, including part of the Alchemical Corpus (External and Internal), but not, however, the integrality of this corpus. Indeed, only the members of the grade of Magus possessed the complete alchemical and theurgical corpus, the contents of a secret document called the "Thesaurus Thesaurorum A Fraternitate Rosae Et Aureae Crucis Testamento" (1580).
In short, what we know in an unquestionable way is that the documents and the rituals of one of the Inner Orders of Rosae Rubeae & Aureae Crucis came mainly from very secret documents of the grade of Magister Templi of the German Fraternity of Rosy+Cross. We have the proof of this assertion; however, being given the extremely secret nature of these documents (which were communicated to us under the seal of the oath by the Inner College of Rosy+Cross), we cannot publish them. However, we have the authorization to communicate them (under our responsibility) to the members of the Grade of Adeptus Exemptus 7°= 4° of the R.R.&.A.C. Until now, we have transmitted them only to one initiate of this grade in the U.S.A., who is holding part of the American affiliations of Alpha Omega.
Mathers also claimed that one of his Secret Masters was a French initiate, of Scottish origin, alive in Paris, whom he indicated under the mystical title of "Frater Lux Ex Septentriones". This initiate was perhaps related with the Stuart family, of which there is still descendent in France. Besides, Mathers belonged to a secret Jacobite society called "The White Rose Society".