[Vetting report on Samuel L. Mathers by Mr. Eck]


Samuel Liddell Mathers

Mason, 33'; G.D. 5'=6' ['S Rioghail Mo Dhream (Royal is my tribe)] and 7'=4' [Deo Duce Comite Ferro (With God as my leader and the sword as my companion)]
Son of William M. Mathers, a commercial clerk; his mother was a Miss Collins. He was born at 11 De Beauvoir Place, Hackney, on January 8, 1854. His father died early and he lived for some years with his widowed mother at Bournemouth until her death in 1885. On the death of his mother he was left in very poor circumstances, and removed to London where he lives in modest lodgings in Great Percy Street, King's Cross, enjoying the hospitality of Dr. Westcott.
Initiated in the Hengist Lodge, Bournemouth, on 4 October, 1877, and became a Master Mason 30 January, 1878, but never became a Lodge Master. While at Bournemouth his studies were directed to occult ideas by his acquaintance with Frederick Holland, a surprisingly well-respected (considering his knowledge) enthusiast of the occult.

Admitted to the S.R.I.A. (Societas Rosicruciana In Anglia) in 1882, taking the motto 'S Rioghal Mo Dhream, and so became associated with Dr. Robert Woodman and Dr. William Wynn Westcott.

Mr. Mathers has been involved with the Theosophical Society for some years, although it is unclear exactly when he joined, having previously become interested in Mrs. Anna B. Kingsford's ideas.

He is of course one of the three founding members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in which he holds the 7'=4' (Adeptus Exemptus) grade. It is unclear why he should also be listed as continuing to hold the 5'=6' grade (Adeptus Minor, two levels less advanced), and also why he should not be listed as having attained the 6'=5' grade (Adeptus Major), but this is also true of Drs. Woodman and Westcott.

On the basis of several lengthy, informal conversations, and the opinions of the many people who know Mathers, I would describe him as intelligent, charismatic, arrogant, rather wilful, and in some ways charming. Women seem to find him irresistible, but there is no suggestion that he ever takes liberties. Men often find him obnoxious or difficult, but has a commanding presence which enables him generally to win out in arguments.

I suspect that he would take orders badly, unless they were quite complex, as for example if he were set a task rather than given an order. If he sets his mind to a goal, there is no telling what he might be willing to suffer in order to achieve his end; if he is not interested, he would not take it up in the first place. On the positive side of this, I suspect that he would make it very clear if he did not intend to take up a task.

I think that he would need some strong evidence that we know what we are about before he would surrender his overweening pride. He is not a fool, he only appears that way when around Westcott, whose bumptiousness overflows onto everything around him. I suspect that he seized upon the G.D. as a means to have control in an occult organization, and I doubt very much that he believes Westcott's ridiculous stories about secret ciphers. To be fair, however, Mathers has been turning the G.D. into the most knowledgeable and (in my opinion) genuine occult society of modern times, largely by force of personality and his own willingness to study. I think that he is more concerned with learning occult secrets than with sharing them, but I also believe that his desire for G.D. members to be expert in occult matters is genuine. He is very strict about examinations, but I cannot say that he has failed anyone out of pique or spite; instead he has been accused of such by persons who cannot be bothered to learn what they ought and are angered by the notion that the G.D. should, unlike all other such organizations, have standards.

He has taught himself a modicum of Hebrew to join his Latin and Greek, and of course he also has good French.

I suspect that Mathers would be an excellent agent of this society. He would need to be kept in check a fair bit, and it might perhaps be necessary to set him more stringent rules than usual, but I do not think he would break rules lightly. On the contrary, I think that he would ignore his own health, safety, and reputation in order to achieve goals set for him; it might be necessary to tell him such apparently obvious things as that he must not break any laws, must not endanger himself beyond the abilities of self-medication, etc. I think he would be an excellent secret-keeper, but might occasionally extend that secrecy to his own controllers. My suspicion is that he would respond positively to being on the inside of a real conspiracy, and would not feel the need to run it, but this is hard to predict.

Report of 23/3/89, A.E.