To London yesterday for an evening at Treadwell’s dedicated to Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum, aka Moina Mathers. Twenty seven people were crammed into the downstairs meeting room to hear three speakers give their take on this very important figure in the history of the Golden Dawn.
Moina (née Mina Bergson, 28 February 1865 – 25 July 1928) was an artist by training, joining the Slade School in 1880. She always expressed an interest in getting back to her artistic career, but her involvement with magic, her husband S L Macgregor Mathers and poverty (arising therefrom) meant she never quite made it. As a magician, she is noted for the facts that she was a very talented clairvoyant, and helped channel a lot of the Golden Dawn’s inner order material. Moreover, however, she was instrumental in creating (with her husband) the “Rites Of Isis” – and therefore became one of the first modern Isian Priestess.
Christine, one of the speakers, had managed to translate two accounts written by contemporary French journalists of the Mathers’ “Rites of Isis” – and they appeared to be very impressive ceremonies. One journalist, André Gauché, seemed to be happy embroider his account with a certain amount of lurid fiction, although it did correspond in large parts with another account of a public ceremony staged at the Great Paris Exhibition of 1890. Mathers’ husband claimed that he and his wife were genuine Isis worshippers and also pantheists.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the Golden Dawn was pioneering in insisting on admitting men and women on terms of perfect equality, because history of the time was written by men, there was a lot of focus on the Order’s male founders and not so much on its female members, such as Moina. Consequently there is not so much actually written about her comparatively speaking. Regarding details of her later life, she became ill in 1927, and passed on in 1928. What personal effects she had she left to her younger brother Paul Bergson. However her most important legacy – what she contributed to the Golden Dawn and subsequent Alpha Et Omega, suffered in 1939 when the then head of the AO burned the Order’s possessions, including a lot of furniture and papers which were painted or created by Moina.