Monday 5 February 2024

Samuel MacGregor Mathers Comte de Glenstrae, Forgotten wargamers 2.

In an effort to lighten the mood after the loss of poor Graham I thought I would do a little piece on this gent, who was certainly different from most wargamers and he never carried a rucksack.                 


                                      Samuel Macregor Mathers Comte de Glenstrae

 In Achtung Schweinhund Harry Pearson mentions Samuel Macregor Mathers who apparantly had twenty five thousand figures which he used to fight battles, using rules of his own devising. He had two passions throughout his life, magic [ not Dynamo type of magic] and the theory of war.   While one couldnt really describe him as a unsung hero of Wargaming, it is clear he created his own wargames, using flats, lots of them and his own rules.
 Wargaming has actually had a few members who could be described as possessing either dubious morals or simply were a little untrustworthy. Mathers I think can be best described as a very, very bright man with some strange ideas attached.
  Mathers was born in January 1854 in Hackney London but although his father died a year later his family had sufficient money to allow him to attend  Bedford School. He later came back to London after the death of his mother in 1885. He published his first book, a translation of a French military manual after he returned.
 Always interested in alchemy he was introduced into Freemasonary in 1877 by a fellow alchemist and joined the appropriately named Hengist Lodge in 1877. He worked hard and subsequently became a Master Mason in 1878, but he took more interest in the fringe Masonic degrees and in 1882 he was admitted to the Societas Rosicruciana, lecturing on the Kaabbalah to the Theosophical Society, an early forerunner of the Society of Ancients. 
  Mathers spoke an impressive number of languages,English, French, Latin. Greek, Hebrew, Gaelic,Coptic and amazingly Research Group English, a most difficult language to master.
  Due to his abilities he was able to translate The Book of Abramelin, The Kabbalah Unveiled, the Grimoire of Armadel and Research Groups 7th edition ancient rules.
   Mathers was an exponant of Dr John Dee's Enochian magic system. Dee was Elizabeth the First's alchemist, a must for all rulers apparantly. 
In 1891 he became the leader of the Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn and moved to France with is wife in 1892. He was expelled from the Golden Dawn in 1900 [apparantly for using loaded dice] and formed his own group called Alpha et Omega. He took the title Archon Basilieus and based his new club, sorry group at a place called the Ahathoor Temple.
He was forced from the orders in 1903 after failing to repay funds he had 'borrowed' from the Societas. [apparantly there had been a sale in Nuremberg of flats ]   

                                      Mathers as his alter ego, Archon Basilieus.

The Comte married the sister of the philosopher Henri Bergson and in an attempt to sound more Scottish Mina became Moina [ as opposed to major to minor] For his sins he was also a prectising vegetarian and anti vivisectionist. These foibles made him very unpopular with the other members of his group, and Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast always referred to him as Johnny Fart Pants, behind his back. Some say this was the cause of their great falling out, when Crowley and Mathers would regularly send conjured demons to each other to inhabit their dreams. 
   Crowley described how Mathers would often play chess matches against various pagan gods. He would set up his chess board, sit behind the white pieces facing an empty chair and after making a move, would carefully shade his eyes and peer towards the empty chair waiting for the pagan god to signal their move.He would then move the black piece accordingly.
 It is not certain whether he did the same with his wargame armies although Mathers apparantly had to expell one pagan God after they were caught nudging their units forward using their celestial elbow when Mathers wasnt looking.

  Mathers showing off his wand, which he won in the first national solo wargames competition beating the God Baal with a pseudo Babylonian army. 
 The Comte died in 1918 in Paris. The manner of his death was a mystery and his death certificate lists no cause of death. 
The question I kept asking is what happened to his 25,000 figures and his wargame rule set? Did Dave Ryan buy them? Can we expect the set to be published in the near future?





6 comments:

  1. Excellent! I doubt he was ever stuck for an opponent. He could just conjure one up.

    Lots of interesting folk in The Golden Dawn, WB Yeats, Annie Bessant from the Match Girls Strike.

    General Fuller, historian and Tank enthusiast joined Crowley's A.A. after the big fall out.

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    1. Ive done a bit of reading around Crowley and his associates, it made for an interesting experience.

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  2. An excellent read, fair lifted my spirits on a very wet, dark Monday. An interesting character that;s for sure!!

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    1. Oh the Golden Dawn was full of interesting characters, some famous, some infamous.

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  3. A brilliant read and it certainly made me chuckle at many points:)! Even AI is unable to translate Barkerese into simple and understandable English;)

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    1. I must admit all the WRG books seemed to struggle with plain English.

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating