Rioghal Mo Dhream

Rioghal Mo Dhream Cover One of the most obscure entries on the A A reading list of "suggestive materials" is a book with a seemingly familiar title. But James Grant's The Adventures of Rob Roy (1864) is different from the well-known novel Rob Roy (1818) by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), despite the fact that another Scott novel, Redgauntlet (1824), confusingly appears on the list immediately preceding this entry. Walter Scott, who made such a great success with his invention of the historical novel in the "Waverley" series of heroic stories from the British past, remained enormously popular throughout the nineteenth century. In his wake, especially in the many periodical magazines in which most Victorian fiction originally appeared, there was a huge publishing market for historically instructive adventure romances. The Scottish writer James Grant (1822-1887), who knew how to spice his storytelling with Gaelic phrases and tales from folklore, and to provide a maximum of violence and excitement for his (presumably young) readers, has nearly faded from the reference books by now. Publishers in his own time considered him a significant and substantial novelist, and over a long mid-Victorian career Grant produced dozens of "knock-off" books inspired by Sir Walter Scott, for readers who somehow couldn't seem to get enough of these tales.
Grant's The Adventures of Rob Roy is a very readable blood-and-thunder romance of the Scottish Highlands in the early eighteenth century, and might easily have been a boyhood favorite of Crowley's. He might have thought of it again later during his association with the Golden Dawn (mid-1898 to early 1900), and while working with the leader and principal magical theorist of that group. Born Samuel Liddell Mathers on 8 January 1854, this seminal occult figure had grown up fatherless, fascinated by mysticism, indulging in fantasies of a secret heritage, and at an early age became an active freemason, scholar, and qaballist. Even in 1878, while still living with his mother, he was calling himself the Comte de Glenstrae when he could get away with it, or sometimes the Comte MacGregor, and claiming a suppressed Jacobite ancestry from the outlawed Highland clan of the MacGregors of Glenstrae. Crowley might even have included Grant's novel on the A A list partially out of spite, because Mathers had obviously studied the book, and may even have derived a substantial portion of his personal mythology from it. Edward Alexander Crowley had also changed his name as a teenager, however, and the unusual spelling of his adopted forename likewise figures prominently in Grant's book. Like Mathers and many others, Aleister Crowley was an Englishman unable to resist the "Celtic Revival" styles of the late nineteenth century, and he enjoyed representing himself at various times as Irish or Scottish.
Join Caitlin and the Section Two Reading Group at Oz House on Monday evening 19th January at 8:00 for a discussion of this book, illustrated with readings of selected passages. We begin by following the MacAleister and the MacGregor as they scrutinize the landscape for omens in their journey over the heath in search of vengeance for the outrages suffered by their outlawed clan. The MacGregor finds frequent occasion to call out their motto "'S Rioghal mo dhream!" to remind them of their secret royal blood, even as they are forced to pass themselves off as common folk. . . .

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