Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who invented the R.R. et A.C. color scales?


Did Moina Mathers invent our system of colors? Some modern Adepts speculate that it was actually her who did the ground work, saying that the knowledge of color theory required for such an undertaking must have come from an artist. It is possible or even probable that she did create them, for as the saying goes, behind every good magical Order or best-selling tarot deck is a woman artist who didn't get paid very well for her efforts. Even so, it doesn't take an expert artist to figure these colors out. I mean we were all able to learn these scales, and after the ZAM training is finished, every Adept is a color expert, but not every Adept is an artist! The first thing I noticed (when when I was in grade 10 art class and studying GD instead of doing my math homework), was that the twelve colors stem from the six primaries and secondaries, and how well that fits with Astrology and Hebrew on the Complete Symbol of the Rose Cross. In the ideal world of color theory the angles of the astrological aspects work together exactly the same way as paint is mixed. Of course most of our paint pigments don't behave perfectly, and in the execution of our magical work is really where artistic ability in mixing comes in.

I think Mr. Mathers, with his possibly near-schizophrenic level of synthetic genius could have easily picked up a color wheel his wife left laying around and holding it up to an astrological chart put two and two together. At any rate, we all know she was a huge contibutor, and whether she invented it the system of color or not, there is no doubt in my mind that she did most of the hard work painting everything just right.

The artist of this painting of Moina Mathers is Linda Macfarlane. A prolific artist, her specialty is painting portraits of magical women. She did a beautiful rendition of Levi's Baphomet, who by his or her hermaphroditic nature slipped under her female-only criteria. For years it hung in our local downtown temple at the turn of the millennium.

Linda and her ex husband Peter were the people behind the original 93 Publishing in Montreal, Quebec, printing the first new editions of many of Crowley`s works for North America. Undoubtedly a knowledgeable and powerful woman in her own right, I have had great conversations with her about her time in Kenneth Grant's OTO, which she had the privilege of being excommunicated from back in the days before it was even called Typhonian. She also has a keen interest in Voodoo, Tantric Hinduism and of course the history and practice of Thelema. Linda has also had the dubious and distinguished honor of being the first magician to introduce H.B. to the Book of the Law. Apparently she picked him up hitch-hiking when he was but a backpacking teenager. Friendly and relatively solitary, I first heard this story not from the relatively ego-less Linda, but from our mutual friends who love to brag about her at parties.

More of her excellent work can be found at:


  1. I think it's more than likely Moina from where the colour theory comes from, but we can't be certain.

    I love the painting of Moina. Very beautiful and evocative.


  2. Yeah, I think is is prob her as well, but not because she is an artist. I think she was part of the color schemes because she did most of the grunt work painting and it was normal for guys back then to get all the credit.


  3. these colors in context come from egyptian temples and systems ? the golden dawn seems to be the first modern order to apply them in magick. printing techniques of that time and before did not allow for much tone to tell the images but im sure books did note what was what in them. so moina might have been the person that color traditions into art synthesis for us as we know them now

  4. The senior 5=6 members of the GD did not know definitely where or how the Colour Scales originated- Allan Bennett told Florence Farr that Moina Mathers received them in vision. However Westcott disputes this in one of his private diaries, claiming that "The Scales are not Vestigia's clairvoyance or anybody else's. I have come across many little signs & evidences that Mathers did no more than hand on that which he definitely received from the same person or persons in the flesh or from M.S. discovered..." Westcott is not always to be trusted in his comments which are often written with a personal agenda, but we can at least conclude from this that the Colour Scales were received from Mathers, irrespective of where Mathers obtained them.