Moina Mathers was born Mina Bergson on 28 February1865 in Geneva. She was the fourth of seven children in a family of Irish Jews who migrated from Dublin to Paris and then to London before moving to Switzerland. One of her brothers, Henri Bergson, became a famous philsopher; Mina was drawn to study art. She met MacGregor Mathers in the British Museum in 1888 and the pair quickly found common interests in Egyptian antiquities and mysticism. They were married in 1890, and Mina changed her name to the more Scots-sounding "Moina" in deference to Samuel's love for all things Scottish.
The couple's talents complemented each other. The Golden Dawn as we know it today would likely never have existed were it not for the combined talents of Moina and Samuel Mathers. It seems safe to assume that Moina was somewhat more "grounded" and practical a person than Samuel (as is often the case in such marriages) and may have given him the needed stability to concretize his mystical phantasies.
Moina's artistic temperament was well-suited in the Order; she helped produce the first furnishings in the London and Paris temples as well as all the various tools and symbols and diagrams for the different Grades. In addition to this practical artistic talent, Moina also possessed psychic skills; she worked in tandem with Samuel during extensive divinatory sessions through which much astral knowledge was channelled to the Order. This parallels the work that Aleister Crowley performed with his wife Rose Kelly in receiving "The Book of the Law" in 1904.
Moina Mathers was fluent in French and German and, it is said by those who knew her, she radiated a certain presence and aura of genteel power which served her well in her performances as High Priestess. In the mystical sense she may be said to have incarnated Isis during these ritual moments, and no doubt the Goddess made good use of Moina as a vessel.
She moved with her husband to Paris in 1892, obeying what they felt to be the guidance of the Secret Chiefs, and founded the Ahathoor Temple in 1894. As it happened, their distancing of themselves from the London temple (Isis-Urania) accelerated a latent dissention into outright schism. Conditions for the Mathers in Paris did not improve either spiritually or financially.
For a time Samuel Mathers was allied with Aleister Crowley, for Crowley (twenty years Mathers' junior) looked upon the elder magician as a mentor of sorts; yet this alliance was not fated to last. Moina remained in Paris to watch over the temple while Samuel returned briefly to London to settle some affairs; with legal battles brewing, and lawsuits flying over Crowley's publication of Order rituals, life was anything but peaceful for Moina at this time.
Samuel MacGregor Mathers died in 1918 of unknown causes; Moina was convinced that his many years of intense astral interaction with the Secret Chiefs finally drained him of all energy. With characteristic endurance she worked on, eventually returning to London and founding the Alpha et Omega Lodge which she ran for several years until her death in 1928.
BACK TO BIO INDEX