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Entries from the Theosophical Glossary
A very learned man, a mystic and occultist. Born about 1700, in Portugal. He travelled extensively, acquiring knowledge wherever he could in the East, in Turkey, Palestine, Arabia, and Central Asia. He was a great Kabbalist. He was the teacher of the Initiator of the Marquis de St. Martin, who founded the mystical Martinistic School and Lodges. Paschalis is reported to have died in St. Domingo about 1779, leaving several excellent works behind him.
Brothers of Light
This is what the great authority on secret societies, Brother Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie IX., says of this Brotherhood. “A mystic order, Fratres Lucis, established in Florence in 1498. Among the members of this order were Pasqualis, Cagliostro, Swedenborg, St. Martin, Eliphaz Lévi, and many other eminent mystics. Its members were very much persecuted by the Inquisition. It is a small but compact body, the members being spread all over the world.”
Louis Claude de Saint Martin
Born in France (Amboise), in 1743. A great mystic and writer, who pursued his philosophical and theosophical studies at Paris, during the Revolution. He was an ardent disciple of Jacob Boehme, and studied under Martinez Paschalis, finally founding a mystical semi-Masonic Lodge, “the Rectified Rite of St. Martin ”, with seven degrees. He was a true Theosophist. At the present moment some ambitious charlatans in Paris are caricaturing him and passing themselves off as initiated Martinists, and thus dishonouring the name of the late Adept.
A Society in France, founded by a great mystic called the Marquis de St. Martin, a disciple of Martinez Pasqualis. It was first established at Lyons as a kind of occult Masonic Society, its members believing in the possibility of communicating with Planetary Spirits and minor Gods and genii of the ultramundane Spheres. Louis Claude de St. Martin, born in 1743, had commenced life as a brilliant officer in the army, but left it to devote himself to study and the belles lettres, ending his career by becoming an ardent Theosophist and a disciple of Jacob Boehmen. He tried to bring back Masonry to its primeval character of Occultism and Theurgy, but failed. He first made his “Rectified Rite” to consist of ten degrees, but these were brought down owing to the study of the original Masonic orders—to seven. Masons complain that he introduced certain ideas and adopted rites “at variance with the archæological history of Masonry”; but so did Cagliostro and St Germain before him, as all those who knew well the origin of Free masonry.
Friedrich Anton Mesmer
The famous physician who rediscovered and applied practically that magnetic fluid in man which was called animal magnetism and since then Mesmerism. He was born in Schwaben, in 1734 and died in 1815. He was an initiated member of the Brotherhoods of the Fratres Lucis and of Lukshoor (or Luxor), or the Egyptian Branch of’ the latter. It was the Council of “Luxor” which selected him—according to the orders of the “Great Brotherhood”—to act in the XVIIIth century as their usual pioneer, sent in the last quarter of every century to enlighten a small portion of the Western nations in occult lore. It was St. Germain who supervised the development of events in this case; and later Cagliostro was commissioned to help, but having made a series of mistakes, more or less fatal, he was recalled. Of these three men who were at first regarded as quacks, Mesmer is already vindicated. The justification of the two others will follow in the next century. Mesmer founded the “Order of Universal Harmony” in 1783, in which presumably only animal magnetism was taught, but which in reality expounded the tenets of Hippocrates, the methods of the ancient Asclepieia, the Temples of Healing, and many other occult sciences.
A Force in nature and in man. When it is the former, it is an agent which gives rise to the various phenomena of attraction, of polarity, etc. When the latter, it becomes “animal” magnetism, in contradistinction to cosmic, and terrestrial magnetism.
While official science calls it a “supposed” agent, and utterly rejects its actuality, the teeming millions of antiquity and of the now living Asiatic nations, Occultists, Theosophists, Spiritualists, and Mystics of every kind and description proclaim it as a well established fact. Animal magnetism is a fluid, an emanation. Some people can emit it for curative purposes through their eyes and the tips of their fingers, while the rest of all creatures, mankind, animals and even every inanimate object, emanate it either as an aura, or a varying light, and that whether consciously or not. When acted upon by Contact: with a patient or by the will of a human operator it is called “Mesmerism” (q.v.).
A famous Adept, whose real name is claimed (by his enemies) to have been Joseph Balsamo. He was a native of Palermo, and studied under some mysterious foreigner of whom little has been ascertained. His accepted history is too well known to need repetition, and his real history has never been told. His fate was that of every human being who proves that he knows more than do his fellow- creatures; he was “stoned to death” by persecutions, lies, and infamous accusations, and yet he was the friend and adviser of the highest and mightiest of every land he visited. He was finally tried and sentenced in Rome as a heretic, and was said to have died during his confinement in a State prison.
(See “ Mesmer”.) Yet his end was not utterly undeserved, as he had been untrue to his vows in some respects, had fallen from his state of chastity and yielded to ambition and selfishness.
The Count of St. Germain
Referred to as an enigmatical personage by modern writers. Frederic II., King of Prussia, used to say of him that he was a man whom no one had ever been able make out. Many are his “biographies”, and each is wilder than the other. By some he was regarded as an incarnate god, by others as a clever Alsatian Jew. One thing is certain, Count de St. Germain—whatever his real patronymic may have been—had a right to his name and title, for he had bought a property called San Germano, in the Italian Tyrol, and paid the Pope for the title. He was uncommonly handsome, and his enormous erudition and linguistic capacities are undeniable, for he spoke English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Swedish, Danish, and many Slavonian and Oriental languages, with equal facility with a native. He was extremely wealthy, never received a sou from anyone—in fact never accepted a glass of water or broke bread with anyone made most extravagant presents of superb jewellery to all his friends, even to the royal families of Europe. His proficiency in music was marvellous; he played on every instrument, the violin being his favourite. “St. Germain rivalled Paganini himself”, was said of him by an octogenarian Belgian in 1835, after hearing the “Genoese maestro”. “It is St. Germain resurrected who plays the violin in the body of an Italian skeleton ”, exclaimed a Lithuanian baron who had heard both.
He never laid claim to spiritual powers, but proved to have a right to such claim. He used to pass into a dead trance from thirty-seven to forty-nine hours without awakening, and then knew all he had to know, and demonstrated the fact by prophesying futurity and never making a mistake. It is he who prophesied before the Kings Louis XV. and XVI., and the unfortunate Marie Antoinette. Many were the still living witnesses in the first quarter of this century who testified to his marvellous memory; he could read a paper in the morning and, though hardly glancing at it, could repeat its contents without missing one word days afterwards; he could write with two hands at once, the right hand writing a piece of poetry, the left a diplomatic paper of the greatest importance. He read sealed letters without touching them, while still in the hand of those who brought them to him. He was the greatest adept in transmuting metals, making gold and the most marvellous diamonds, an art, he said, he had learned from certain Brahmans in India, who taught him the artificial crystallisation (“quickening”) of pure carbon. As our Brother Kenneth Mackenzie has it :—“ In 1780, when on a visit to the French Ambassador to the Hague, he broke to pieces with a hammer a superb diamond of his own manufacture, the counterpart of which, also manufactured by himself, he had just before sold to a jeweller for 5500 louis d’or”. He was the friend and confidant of Count Orloff in 1772 at Vienna, whom he had helped and saved in St. Petersburg in 1762, when concerned in the famous political conspiracies of that time; he also became intimate with Frederick the Great of Prussia. As a matter of course, he had numerous enemies, and therefore it is not to be wondered at if all the gossip invented about him is now attributed to his own confessions: e.g., that he was over five hundred years old; also, that he claimed personal intimacy “with the Saviour and his twelve Apostles, and that he had reproved Peter for his bad temper ”—the latter clashing somewhat in point of time with the former, if he had really claimed to be only five hundred years old. if he said that “he had been born in Chaldea and professed to possess the secrets of the Egyptian magicians and sages ”, he may have spoken truth without making any miraculous claim. There are Initiates, and not the highest either, who are placed in a condition to remember more than one of their past lives. But we have good reason to know that St. Germain could never have claimed “personal intimacy ” with the Saviour. How ever that may be, Count St. Germain was certainly the greatest Oriental Adept Europe has seen during the last centuries. But Europe knew him not. Perchance some may recognise him at the next Terreur which will affect all Europe when it comes, and not one country alone.
J. M. Ragon
A French Mason, a distinguished writer and great symbologist, who tried to bring Masonry back to its pristine purity. He was born at Bruges in 1789, was received when quite a boy into the Lodge and Chapter of the “Vrais Amis”, and upon removing to Paris founded the Society of the Trinosophes. it is rumoured that he was the possessor of a number of papers given to him by the famous Count de St. Germain, from which he had all his remarkable knowledge upon early Masonry. He died at Paris in 1866, leaving a quantity of books written by himself and masses of MSS., which were bequeathed by him to the “Grand Orient”. Of the mass of his published works very few are obtainable, while others have entirely disappeared. This is due to mysterious persons (Jesuits, it is believed) who hastened to buy up every edition they could find after his death. In short, his works are now extremely rare.
The wonderful Seer, who predicted the beheading of several royal personages and his own decapitation, at a gay supper some time before the first Revolution in France. He was born at Dijon in 1720, and studied mystic philosophy in the school of Martinez Pasqualis at Lyons. On the 11th of September 1791, he was arrested and condemned to death by the president of the revolutionary government, a man who, shameful to state, had been his fellow-student and a member of the Mystic Lodge of Pasqualis at Lyons. Cazotte was executed on the 25th of September on the Place du Carrousel.
Caїn Chenul Falk
A Kabbalistic Jew, reputed to have worked “miracles”. Kenneth Mackenzie quotes in regard to him from the German annalist Archenoiz’ work on England (1788) :—“ There exists in London an extraordinary man who for thirty years has been celebrated in Kabbalistic records. He is named Caїn Chenul Falk. A certain Count de Rautzow, lately dead in the service of France, with the rank of Field-Marshal, certifies that he has seen this Falk in Brunswick, and that evocations of spirits took place in the presence of credible witnesses.” These “spirits” were Elementals, whom Falk brought into view by the conjurations used by every Kabbalist. His son, Johann Friedrich Falk, likewise a Jew, was also a Kabbalist of repute, and was once the head of a Kabbalistic college in London. His occupation was that of a jeweller and appraiser of diamonds, and he was a wealthy man. To this day the mystic writings and rare Kabbalistic works bequeathed by him to a trustee may be perused in a certain half-public library in London, by every genuine student of Occultism. Falk’s own writings are all still in MS., and some in cypher.
[Falk, Caїn Chenul (aka “Rabbi Dr Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk”, aka “Doctor Falkon”, aka “the Baal Shem of London”)]
The great Swedish seer and mystic. He was born on the 29th January, 1688, and was the son of Dr. Jasper Swedberg, bishop of Skara, in West Gothland; and died in London, in Great Bath Street, Clerkenwell, on March 29th, 1772. Of all mystics, Swedenborg has certainly influenced “Theosophy” the most, yet he left a far more profound impress on official science. For while as an astronomer, mathematician, physiologist, naturalist, and philosopher he had no rival, in psychology and metaphysics he was certainly behind his time. When forty-six years of age, he became a “Theosophist”, and a “seer”; but, although his life had been at all times blameless and respectable, he was never a true philanthropist or an ascetic. His clairvoyant powers, however, were very remarkable; but they did not go beyond this plane of matter; all that he says of subjective worlds and spiritual beings is evidently far more the outcome of his exuberant fancy, than of his spiritual insight. He left behind him numerous works, which are sadly misinterpreted by his followers.
This is the name given to an art, or the exhibition of a power to act upon others and the facility to be acted upon, which long antedate the days of Anton Mesmer. Another name for some of its phenomena is Hypnotism, and still another is Magnetism. The last title was given because sometimes the person operated on was seen to follow the hand of the operator, as if drawn like iron filings to a magnet. These are all used today by various operators, but by many different appellations it has been known; fascination is one, and psychologizing is another, but the number of them is so great it is useless to go over the list.
Anton Mesmer, who gave greater publicity in the Western world to the subject than any other person, and whose name is still attached to it, was born in 1734, and some few years before 1783, or about 1775, obtained great prominence in Europe in connection with his experiments and cures; but, as H. P. Blavatsky says in her Theosophical Glossary, he was only a rediscoverer. The whole subject had been explored long before his time – indeed many centuries anterior to the rise of civilization in Europe – and all the great fraternities of the East were always in full possession of secrets concerning its practice which remain still unknown. Mesmer came out with his discoveries as agent, in fact – though, perhaps, without disclosing those behind him – of certain brotherhoods to which he belonged. His promulgations were in the last quarter of the century, just as those of the Theosophical Society were begun in 1875, and what he did was all that could be done at that time.
But in 1639, one hundred years before Mesmer, a book was published in Europe upon the use of mesmerism in the cure of wounds, and bore the title, The Sympathetical Powder of Edricius Mohynus of Eburo. These cures, it was said, could be effected at a distance from the wound by reason of the virtue or directive faculty between that and the wound. This is exactly one of the phases of both hypnotism and mesmerism. And along the same line were the writings of a monk named Uldericus Balk, who said diseases could be similarly cured, in a book concerning the lamp of life in 1611. In these works, of course, there is much superstition, but they treat of mesmerism underneath all the folly.
After the French Academy committee, including Benjamin Franklin, passed sentence on the subject, condemning it in substance, mesmerism fell into disrepute, but was revived in America by many persons who adopted different names for their work and wrote books on it. One of them named Dods obtained a good deal of celebrity, and was invited during the life of Daniel Webster to lecture on it before a number of United States senators. He called his system “psychology,” but it was mesmerism exactly, even to details regarding nerves and the like. And in England also a good deal of attention was given to it by numbers of people who were not of scientific repute. They gave it no better reputation than it had before, and the press and public generally looked on them as charlatans and upon mesmerism as a delusion. Such was the state of things until the researches into what is now known as hypnotism brought that phase of the subject once more forward, and subsequently to 1875 the popular mind gave more and more attention to the possibilites in the fields of clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance, apparitions, and the like. Even physicians and others, who previously scouted all such investigations, began to take them up for consideration, and are still engaged thereon. And it seems quite certain that, by whatever name designated, mesmerism is sure to have more and more attention paid to it. For it is impossible to proceed very far with hypnotic experiments without meeting mesmeric phenomena, and being compelled, as it were, to proceed with an enquiry into those as well.
The hypnotists unjustifiably claim the merit of discoveries, for even the uneducated so-called charlatans of the above-mentioned periods cited the very fact appropriated by hypnotists, that many persons were normally – for them – in a hypnotized state, or, as they called it, in a psychologized condition, or negative one, and so forth, according to the particular system employed.
In France Baron Du Potet astonished every one with his feats in mesmerism, bringing about as great changes in subjects as the hypnotizers do now. After a time and after reading old books, he adopted a number of queer symbols that he said had the most extraordinary effect on the subject, and refused to give these out to any except pledged persons. This rule was violated, and his instructions and figures were printed not many years ago for sale with a pretense of secrecy consisting in a lock to the book. I have read these and find they are of no moment at all, having their force simply from the will of the person who uses them. The Baron was a man of very strong natural mesmeric force, and made his subjects do things that few others could bring about. He died without causing the scientific world to pay much attention to the matter.
The great question mooted is whether there is or is not any actual fluid thrown off by the mesmerizer. Many deny it, and nearly all hypnotizers refuse to admit it. H. P. Blavatsky declares there is such a fluid, and those who can see into the plane to which it belongs assert its existence as a subtle form of matter. This is, I think, true, and is not at all inconsistent with the experiments in hypnotism, for the fluid can have its own existence at the same time that people may be self-hypnotized by merely inverting their eyes while looking at some bright object. This fluid is composed in part of the astral substance around every one, and in part of the physical atoms in a finely divided state. By some this astral substance is called the aura. But that word is indefinite, as there are many sorts of aura and many degrees of its expression. These will not be known, even to Theosophists of the most willing mind, until the race as a whole has developed up to that point. So the word will remain in use for the present.
This aura, then, is thrown off by the mesmerizer upon his subject, and is received by the latter in a department of his inner constitution, never described by any Western experimenters, because they know nothing of it. It wakes up certain inner and non-physical divisions of the person operated on, causing a change of relation between the various and numerous sheaths surrounding the inner man, and making possible different degrees of intelligence and of clairvoyance and the like. It has no influence whatsoever on the Higher Self, which it is impossible to reach by such means. Many persons are deluded into supposing that the Higher Self is the responder, or that some spirit or what not is present, but it is only one of the many inner persons, so to say, who is talking or rather causing the organs of speech to do their office. And it is just here that the Theosophist and the non-Theosophist are at fault, since the words spoken are sometimes far above the ordinary intelligence or power of the subject in waking state. I therefore propose to give in the rough the theory of what actually does take place, as has been known for ages to those who see with the inner eye, and as will one day be discovered and admitted by science.
When the hypnotic or mesmerized state is complete – and often when it is partial – there is an immediate paralyzing of the power of the body to throw its impressions, and thus modify the conceptions of the inner being. In ordinary waking life every one, without being able to disentangle himself, is subject to the impressions from the whole organism; that is to say, every cell in the body, to the most minute, has its own series of impressions and recollections, all of which continue to impinge on the great register, the brain, until the impression remaining in the cell is fully exhausted. And that exhaustion takes a long time. Further, as we are adding continually to them, the period of disappearance of impression is indefinitely postponed. Thus the inner person is not able to make itself felt. But, in the right subject, those bodily impressions are by mesmerism neutralized for the time, and at once another effect follows, which is equivalent to cutting the general off from his army and compelling him to seek other means of expression.
The brain – in cases where the subject talks – is left free sufficiently to permit it to obey the commands of the mesmerizer and compel the organs of speech to respond. So much in general.
We have now come to another part of the nature of man which is a land unknown to the Western world and its scientists. By mesmerism other organs are set to work disconnected from the body, but which in normal state funcion with and through the latter. These are not admitted by the world, but they exist, and are as real as the body is – in fact some who know say they are more real and less subject to decay, for they remain almost unchanged from birth to death. These organs have their own currents, circulation if you will, and methods of receiving and storing impressions. They are those which in a second of time seize and keep the faintest trace of any object or word coming before the waking man. They not only keep them but very often give them out, and when the person is mesmerized their exit is untrammelled by the body.
They are divided into many classes and grades, and each one of them has a whole series of ideas and facts peculiar to itself, as well as centres in the ethereal body to which they relate. Instead now of the brain’s dealing with the sensations of the body, it deals with something quite different, and reports what these inner organs see in any part of space to which they are directed. And in place of your having waked up the Higher Self, you have merely uncovered one of the many sets of impressions and experiences of which the inner man is composed, and who is himself a long distance from the Higher Self. These varied pictures, thus seized from every quarter, are normally overborne by the great roar of the physical life, which is the sum total of possible expression of a normal being on the physical plane whereon we move. They show themselves usually only by glimpses when we have sudden ideas or recollections, or in dreams when our sleeping may be crowded with fancies for which we cannot find a basis in daily life. Yet the basis exists, and is always some one or other of the million small impressions of the day passed unnoticed by the physical brain, but caught unerringly by means of other sensoriums belonging to our astral double. For this astral body, or double, permeates the physical one as colour does the bowl of water. And although to the materialistic conceptions of the present day such a misty shadow is not admitted to have parts, powers, and organs, it nevertheless has all of these with a surprising power and grasp. Although perhaps a mist, it can exert under proper conditions a force equal to the viewless wind when it levels to earth the proud constructions of puny man.
In the astral body, then, is the place to look for the explanation of mesmerism and hypnotism. The Higher Self will explain the flights we seldom make into the realm of spirit, and is the God – the Father – within who guides His children up the long steep road to perfection. Let not the idea of it be degraded by chaining it to the low floor of mesmeric phenomena, which any healthy man or woman can bring about if they will only try. The grosser the operator the better, for thus there is more of the mesmeric force, and if it be the Higher Self that is affected, then the meaning of it would be that gross matter can with ease affect and deflect the high spirit – and this is against the testimony of the ages.
A Paramahansa of the Himâlayas has put in print the following words: “Theosophy is that branch of Masonry which shows the Universe in the form of an egg.” Putting on one side the germinal spot in the egg, we have left five other main divisions: The fluid, the yolk, the skin of the yolk, the inner skin of the shell, and the hard shell. The shell and the inner skin may be taken as one. That leaves us four, corresponding to the old divisions of fire, air, earth, and water. Man, roughly speaking, is divided in the same manner, and from these main divisions spring all his manifold experiences on the outer and the introspective planes. The human structure has its skin, its blood, its earthy matter – called bones for the moment, its flesh, and lastly the great germ which is insulated somewhere in the brain by means of a complete coat of fatty matter.
The skin includes the mucous, all membranes in the body, the arterial coats, and so on. The flesh takes in the nerves, the animal cells so-called, and the muscles. The bones stand alone. The blood has its cells, the corpuscles, and the fluid they float in. The organs, such as the liver, the spleen, the lungs, include skin, blood, and mucous. Each of these divisions and all of their subdivisions have their own peculiar impressions and recollections, and all, together with the coördinator the brain, make up the man as he is on the visible plane.
These all have to do with the phenomena of mesmerism, although there are those who may think it not possible that mucous membrane or skin can give us any knowledge. But it is nevertheless the fact, for the sensations of every part of the body affect each cognition, and when the experiences of the skin cells, or any other, are most prominent before the brain of the subject, all his reports to the operator will be drawn from that, unknown to both, and put into language for the brain’s use so long as the next condition is not reached. This is the Esoteric Doctrine, and will at last be found true. For man is made up of millions of lives, and from these, unable of themselves to act rationally or independently, he gains ideas, and as the master of all puts those ideas, together with others from higher planes, into thought, word, and act. Hence at the very first step in mesmerism this factor has to be remembered, but nowadays people do not know it and cannot recognize its presence, but are carried away by the strangeness of the phenomena.
The very best of subjects are mixed in their reports, because the things they do see are varied and distorted by the several experiences of the parts of their nature I have mentioned, all of which are constantly clamouring for a hearing. And every operator is sure to be misled by them unless he is himself a trained seer.
The next step takes us into the region of the inner man, not the spiritual being, but the astral one who is the model on which the outer visible form is built. The inner person is the mediator between mind and matter. Hearing the commands of mind, he causes the physical nerves to act and thus the whole body. All the senses have their seat in this person, and every one of them is a thousand-fold more extensive in range than their outer representatives, for those outer eyes and ears, and sense of touch, taste, and smell, are only gross organs which the inner ones use, but which of themselves can do nothing.
This can be seen when we cut off the nerve connection, say from the eye, for then the inner eye cannot connect with physical nature and is unable to see an object placed before the retina, although feeling or hearing may in their way apprehend the object if those are not also cut off.
These inner senses can perceive under certain conditions to any distance regardless of position or obstacle. But they cannot see everything, nor are they always able to properly understand the nature of everything they do see. For sometimes that appears to them with which they are not familiar. And further, they will often report having seen what they are desired by the operator to see, when in fact they are giving unreliable information. For, as the astral senses of any person are the direct inheritance of his own prior incarnations, and are not the product of family heredity, they cannot transcend their own experience, and hence their cognitions are limited by it, no matter how wonderful their action appears to him who is using only the physical sense-organs. In the ordinary healthy person these astral senses are inextricably linked with the body and limited by the apparatus which it furnishes during the waking state. And only when one falls asleep, or into a mesmerized state, or trance, or under the most severe training, can they act in a somewhat independent manner. This they do in sleep, when they live another life than that compelled by the force and the necessities of the waking organism. And when there is a paralyzation of the body by the mesmeric fluid they can act, because the impressions from the physical cells are inhibited.
The mesmeric fluid brings this paralyzing about by flowing from the operator and creeping steadily over the whole body of the subject, changing the polarity of the cells in every part and thus disconnecting the outer from the inner man. As the whole system of physical nerves is sympathetic in all its ramifications, when certain major sets of nerves are affected others by sympathy follow into the same condition. So it often happens with mesmerized subjects that the arms or legs are suddenly paralyzed without being directly operated on, or, as frequently, the sensation due to the fluid is felt first in the fore-arm, although the head was the only place touched.
There are many secrets about this part of the process, but they will not be given out, as it is easy enough for all proper purposes to mesmerize a subject by following what is already publicly known. By means of certain nerve points located near the skin the whole system of nerves may be altered in an instant, even by a slight breath from the mouth at a distance of eight feet from the subject. But modern books do not point this out.
When the paralyzing and change of polarity of the cells are complete the astral man is almost disconnected from the body. has he any structure? What mexmerizer knows? How many probably will deny that he has any structure at all? Is he only a mist, an idea? And yet, again, how many subjects are trained so as to be able to analyze their own astral anatomy?
But the structure of the inner astral man is definite and coherent. it cannot be fully dealth with in a magazine article, but may be roughly set forth, leaving readers to fill in the details.
Just as the outer body has a spine which is the column whereon the being sustains itself with the brain at the top, so the astral body has its spine and brain. It is material, for it is made of matter, however finely divided, and is not of the nature of the spirit.
After the maturity of the child before birth this form is fixed, coherent, and lasting, undergoing but small alteration from that day until death. And so also as to its brain; that remains unchanged until the body is given up, and does not, like the outer brain, give up cells to be replaced by others from hour to hour. These inner parts are thus more permanent than the outer correspondents to them. Our material organs, bones, and tissues are undergoing change each instant. They are suffering always what the ancients called “the constant momentary dissolution of minor units of matter,” and hence within each month there is a perceptible change by way of diminution or accretion. This is not the case with the inner form. It alters only from life to life, being constructed at the time of reincarntion to last for a whole period of existence. For it is the model fixed by the present evolutionary proportions for the outer body. It is the collector, as it were, of the visible atoms which make us as we outwardly appear. So at birth it is potentially of a certain size, and when that limit is reached it stops the further extension of the body, making possible what are known today as average weights and average sizes. At the same time the outer body is kept in shape by the inner one until the period of decay. And this decay, followed by death, is not due to bodily disintegration per se, but to the fact that the term of the astral body is reached, when it is no longer able to hold the outer frame intact. Its power to resist the impact and war of the material molecules being exhausted, the sleep of death supervenes.
Now, as in our physical form the brain and spine are the centres for nerves, so in the other there are the nerves which ramify from the inner brain and spine all over the structure. All of these are related to every organ in the outer visible body. They are more in the nature of currents than nerves, as we understand the word, and may be called astro-nerves. They move in relation to such great centres in the body outside, as the heart, the pit of the throat, umbilical centre, spleen, and sacral plexus. And here, in passing, it may be asked of the Western mesmerizers what do they know of the use and power, if any, of the umbilical centre? They will probably say it has no use in particular after the accomplishment of birth. But the true science of mesmerism says there is much yet to be learned even on that one point; and there is no scarcity, in the proper quarters, of records as to experiments on, and use of, this centre.
The astro-spinal column has three great nerves of the same sort of matter. They may be called ways or channels, up and down which the forces play, that enable man inside and outside to stand erect, to move, to feel, and to act. In description they answer exactly to the magnetic fluids, that is, they are respectively positive, negative, and neutral, their regular balance being essential to sanity. When the astral spine reaches the inner brain the nerves alter and become more complex, having a final great outlet in the skull. Then, with these two great parts of the inner person are the other manifold sets of nerves of similar nature related to the various planes of sensation in the visible and invisible worlds. These all then constitute the personal actor within, and in these is the place to seek for the solution of the problems presented by mesmerism and hypnotism.
Disjoin this being from the outer body with which he is linked, and the divorce deprives him of freedom temporarily, making him the slave of the operator. But mesmerizers know very well that the subject can and does often escape from control, puzzling them often, and often giving them fright. This is testified to by all the best writers in the Western schools.
Now this inner man is not by any means omniscient. he has an understanding that is limited by his own experience, as said before. Therefore, error creeps in if we rely on what he says in the mesmeric trance as to anything that requires philosophical knowledge, except with rare cases that are so infrequent as not to need consideration now. For neither the limit of the subject’s power to know, nor the effect of the operator on the inner sensoriums described above, is known to operators in general, and especially not by those who do not accept the ancient division of the inner nature of man. The effect of the operator is almost always to colour the reports made by the subject.
Take an instance: A. was a mesmerizer of C., a very sensitive woman, who had never made philosophy a study. A. had his mind made up to a certain course of procedure concerning other persons and requiring argument. But before action he consulted the sensitive, having in his possession a letter from X., who is a very definite thinker and very positive; while A., on the other hand, was not definite in idea although a good physical mesmerizer. The result was that the sensitive, after falling into the trance and being asked on the question debated, gave the views of X., whom she had not known, and so strongly that A. changed his plan although not his conviction, not knowing that it was the influence of the ideas of X. then in his mind, that had deflected the understanding of the sensitive. The thoughts of X., being very sharply cut, were enough to entirely change any previous views the subject had. What reliance, then, can be placed on untrained seers? And all the mesmeric subjects we have are wholly untrained, in the sense that the word bears with with the school of ancient mesmerism of which I have been speaking.
The processes used in mesmeric experiment need not be gone into here. There are many books declaring them, but after studying the matter for the past twenty-two years, I do not find that they do other than copy one another, and that the entire set of directions can, for all practical purposes, be written on a single sheet of paper. But there are many other methods of still greater efficiency anciently taught, that may be left for another occasion.
— William Q. Judge, Lucifer, May, 1892
Mesmerism was from the philosophical standpoint the most pregnant of all discoveries, even though for the moment it propounded more riddles than it solved. — SCHOPENHAUER.
As Mesmerism is the most important branch of Magic, it cannot be considered apart from its parent stem. The ancients considered Magic as a sacred science, inseparable from religion. Porphyry and Cicero described it as the divina sapentia, and Plato associated it with the “gods,” these being but the occult powers and potencies of nature, the attributes of that unknown and nameless Principle to which he gave the name of Deity.
Magic is as old as man. It is mentioned in the two oldest documents known at the present day — the Vedas and the older Laws of Manu. It was taught in the Mystery Schools of Greece, in the Neoplatonic School of Alexandria, and was carried safely through the Dark Ages by solitary students who had been initiated in the secret sciences. It was taught by Paracelsus in the sixteenth century, by Mesmer in the eighteenth, and H.P.B. summarized its scope and practical application in Isis Unveiled (II, 587).
The science of Magic is based upon the postulate that one Vital Principle pervades the entire universe. This Principle is the One Life of our solar system, the one Force underlying all the various forces of nature. Magnetism is one of the manifestations of this Vital Principle, and when human magnetism is directed by the will it is known as Mesmerism.
Anton Mesmer, the rediscoverer of the practical uses of this most important branch of Magic, was born in a little town on Lake Constance on May 23, 1734. At the age of nine he entered a monastery school and at fifteen won a scholarship at Dillingen. In his eighteenth year he entered the University of Ingolstadt, where he studied the writings of Paracelsus and obtained the degree of doctor of philosophy. He studied law for a while in Vienna, but his interest in Paracelsus fired him with a determination to become a doctor and he took up the study of medicine under Dr. van Swieten, one of the foremost physicians of the day.
On May 27, 1766, Mesmer received his medical degree. His thesis, based on the writings of Paracelsus, was called “The Influence of the Planets on the Human Body.” Two years later he married a widow ten years his senior, and building a beautiful house on the Landstrasse in Vienna, settled in a neighborhood which was the center of Rosicrucian activities. His home was palatial, a miniature Versailles, with gardens laid out in rococo style, surrounding a charming little theater. Dr. Mesmer was deeply fond of music, playing with skill the piano and cello. His home was soon the meeting place of the music lovers of Vienna, Haydn and Mozart becoming daily visitors. When the Director of the Imperial Opera refused to present an opera by Mozart on the ground that he (then twelve years old) was too young to compose an opera, Dr. Mesmer took pity on the young artist and presented Mozart’s first work to the public in his own garden theater. Mozart acknowledged this service by inserting a complimentary reference to Dr. Mesmer in his Cosi fan Tutte.
Dr. Mesmer divided his time between his musical friends and his philosophical and scientific study, a pleasant life in the Landstrasse which continued for six years — from 1768 to 1774. In 1774 a distinguished foreigner and his wife arrived in Vienna. The lady was taken ill and her husband asked the famous astronomer, Dr. Maximilian Heil, to prepare a magnet for her. Hearing of the experiment, Mesmer watched the lady’s improvements with interest. He decided to use magnets with his own patients. He magnetized the water they drank and bathed in, their clothing and bedding.
News of the cures he effected by these methods spread like wildfire and within a year Dr. Mesmer’s name was known throughout Austria. The Bavarian Academy of Science invited him to membership and the Augsburg Academy officially reported that “Dr. Mesmer had discovered one of nature’s most mysterious motive energies.”
In 1776 an important event occurred in Dr. Mesmer’s life. One day a stranger appeared at his door, introducing himself as the Count de St. Germain. “You must be the gentleman whose anonymous letter I received yesterday,” Dr. Mesmer remarked as he took his caller into his study. “Yes,” St. Germain replied, “I am he.” “You wish to speak with me on the subject of magnetism?” Dr. Mesmer inquired. “I do,” St. Germain replied. “That is why I came to Vienna.” Dr. Mesmer then told his guest of his magnetic experiments, confessing that he was still confused about the higher aspects of magnetism. “Who can enlighten me?” he asked. “I can,” said the Count, with the assurance, “it is my duty to do so.” The conversation which took place on that memorable afternoon lasted for several hours, and, as both men were representatives of the Theosophical Movement, it probably concerned other subjects than that of magnetism alone.
The scientific standing of Dr. Mesmer is admitted by all his biographers. His occult standing is not so generally known. Dr. Mesmer was not only a Mason, but was also an initiated member of two powerful occult Fraternities, the Fratres Lucis and the Brotherhood of Luxor. The latter was the Egyptian branch of the Brotherhood of Lookshoor in Beluchistan, one of the oldest and most powerful of the Eastern Fraternities. Under the order of the “Great Brotherhood” (of which H.P.B. was a member), the Council of Luxor selected Dr. Mesmer to act as their eighteenth century pioneer, later appointing Cagliostro as a helper, with the Count de St. Germain to supervise the development of events.
From that day on, Dr. Mesmer’s methods changed. Up to that time he had been using magnetized objects. Henceforth he used direct vital transmission, which he called “animal magnetism.”
“Animal magnetism” is a fluid, a correlation of atoms on metaphysical planes, which exudes from every human being in a greater or less degree. Some people have the power to emit this fluid consciously, through their eyes and fingertips, and most of the healing “miracles” of history are based upon this psycho-physical power in man.
Following his conversation with the Count de St. Germain, Dr. Mesmer gave up his entire time to healing the sick. The house on the Landstrasse no longer echoed to the strains of Haydn and Mozart. It was now a hospital through which a steady stream of patients flowed from morn to night. However, while Dr. Mesmer’s fame grew among his patients, it decreased among his colleagues. A physician who used visible magnets was one thing; but one who made cures with an invisible “fluid” was quite another. After Dr. Mesmer had restored the sight of a young girl who had been blind from her babyhood, the president of the Medical Council appealed to the Empress of Austria to “put an end to this humbug.” Denounced as an impostor, Mesmer left Vienna and went to Paris, arriving there in February, 1778.
At first the move seemed to be auspicious. Marie Antoinette promised him her patronage and many of the Austrian nobility came to him as patients. But the Academies of Science and Medicine, to whom he immediately addressed himself, refused to respect his theories. In 1779 Dr. Mesmer published his French Report on Animal Magnetism, declaring that “it is not a secret remedy, but a scientific fact, whose causes and effects can be studied.” He frankly admitted that he wished to gain the support of some government courageous enough to give his methods a fair trial and inaugurate a “house where the sick may be treated, and the claims I have made for animal magnetism be tested to the full.”
The publication of this Report caused a sensation. The Clergy attributed his astonishing cures to the Devil. The orthodox physicians denounced him as a charlatan. But the aristocracy of Paris were excited to the verge of madness by his phenomenal cures. Dr. d’Eslon, physician to the Comte d’Artois, promptly rallied to his support. A lady-in-waiting who had been cured of paralysis appealed to the Queen for her public recognition of Dr. Mesmer’s methods. The Princess de Lamballe, the Duc de Bourbon, the Prince de Condé, and even the popular idol of the day, the young Marquis de Lafayette — all gave him their ardent patronage. At the Queen’s request the government entered into direct communication with Dr. Mesmer in order to keep him in France, and Maurepas, one of the King’s ministers, offered him a pension. From 1780 to 1784 Dr. Mesmer was the rage of Paris. He took a house in the Place Vendôme, but this was soon too small to accommodate his patients. He then made a hospital of the Hôtel Bouillon in the rue Montmartre, where he treated the poor free of charge.
Although the Queen of France honored Dr. Mesmer with her patronage, Louis looked upon his cures with suspicion. In March, 1784, the King ordered an investigation of Mesmer’s methods by a committee chosen from among the members of the Academies of Science and Medicine. Among those elected to serve on this committee were Benjamin Franklin, Bailly the astronomer, Lavoisier, the discoverer of oxygen, and the celebrated botanist, Dr. Jussieu.
At this time the French Academy was enjoying a period of unprecedented popularity. Arrogant with success, this youthful embodiment of Science showed all the characteristics of an adolescent. How could there be merit in treatments which savants could not understand? In the report of the Committee handed to the King on August 11, 1784, the members honestly admitted the efficacy of Dr. Mesmer’s cures. Some power was at work, they said, but what was the nature of that power? Could it be perceived by any of the physical senses? It could not. Therefore they concluded that “where nothing is to be seen, felt, tasted or smelled, there nothing can exist.” Hence the amazing cures which they had witnessed must be due entirely to “the imagination of the patients themselves.” Furthermore, these weighty minds affirmed, since
…the commission has found that the fluid of animal magnetism cannot be perceived by any of man’s senses, the commission has come to the conclusion that there is nothing to show that the fluid of animal magnetism exists, and that, consequently, this non-existing fluid can serve no useful purpose. Therefore, to proceed with these methods in the presence of others cannot fail in the long run to be unwholesome.
Thus in 1784 Dr. Mesmer was denounced as an impostor by the French, as he had been denounced in Austria a few years before. In the following year, four of the agents of the Theosophical Movement met in the Masonic convention which took place in Paris. Dr. Mesmer had already failed to obtain recognition for his mission. In 1785 Cagliostro saw the beginning of his downfall. But there were still some hopeful signs in England. Wilkins had just published the first English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Thomas Paine was preparing to go to England with some of his inventions. The eyes of the Marquis de St. Martin and the Count de St. Germain were also focused upon English shores.
The storm which broke over Mesmer’s head in 1784 was soon forgotten in the mightier tempest which engulfed the whole of France in 1791. At the beginning of the Revolution he found himself alone in Paris, his fame and fortune gone, his friends concerned with keeping their own heads from the guillotine. Not a French citizen and having no interest himself in politics, Mesmer left Paris and went to Frauenfeld, a little village about twenty miles from Zurich. There he continued his research work and gave free treatments to his humble peasant neighbors who had never even heard of the famous Dr. Mesmer. He never spoke to them of his past glory, never complained about his reversals of fortune, but steadily maintained that attitude of patience and resignation which is a common characteristic of all agents of the Theosophical Movement.
In 1803 Dr. Mesmer was invited to return to Paris, and in 1812 letters from Germany assured him that the King of Prussia, the German Academy and the German people were prepared to give the honor which France had denied him. Both of these invitations were refused. All that he wanted was a place where he could carry on his work and make it permanently useful to those who would follow him. He went to Meersburg, a little village near the place where he was born, and in spite of his eighty years he continued to work among the poor. A pleasant respite from his labors was the weekly concert at the home of his friend Prince Dalberg, which he never missed.
On the morning of March 15, 1815, a young musician of his acquaintance came to call upon him. Dr. Mesmer showed his young friend the set of musical glasses which always accompanied him on his travels and which were copies of the musical glasses made by Athanasius Kircher in the sixteenth century, by which Kircher tried to cure diseases with the power of sound. Dr. Mesmer stroked his glasses with loving fingers. “Mozart and Haydn often played on them when they came to see me in the Landstrasse!” he murmured. “Mozart was so impressed with them that he composed a special quintet for them!” He led his young friend to the piano. “Play something for me, my son! I am very weary!”
Softly the opening theme of Mozart’s A major Sonata tinkled from the keys. The old man’s eyes closed, his hands relaxed, and on the gentle stream of soft-flowing music the great soul of Anton Mesmer went to its own place.
Mesmer’s great work was denounced during his life, but after his death his doctrines continued to spread through the efforts of Lavater, Puysegur and Deluze. In 1820 the German Government and the Royal Society of Paris offered a prize of 300 ducats for the best treatise on mesmerism. Between 1830 and 1846 it again came to public notice through the experiments of the Baron du Potet, who later became an Honorary Member of the Theosophical Society, and who was described by H.P.B. as “the greatest Adept of Mesmerism in this century.” But although Science denounced Mesmerism, it plunged headlong into Hypnotism, which differs from Mesmerism as black differs from white.
In Hypnotism the operator paralyzes that channel in the brain through which the subject, as Ego, operates and controls that organ. This action prevents the subject from receiving any other impressions than those suggested by the operator. This practice has always been named Black Magic by the true adepts because it is an interference with the free-will of the Ego. Any person, therefore, who practices hypnotism is well on the road to becoming a Black Magician. Hypnotism acts upon the capillary veins and nerves from without, as a repression. But in Mesmerism the case is reversed. Here the effect is produced from within without — an opening up instead of a repression and contraction. In Mesmerism the operator does not interfere with the free-will of his patient, and the subject continues to move in accordance with his own nature and qualities.
The present experiments in Hypnotism, which are becoming more prevalent every day, are the most dangerous of practices. The action and reaction of ideas on the lower inner Ego are not yet understood for the simple reason that the Ego itself is still terra incognita. When physicians begin to study the complex nature of man and discover the occult axiom that the will of man must not be controlled by another, they will not only have begun the study of Magic, but will have taken the first step toward Adeptship. For, as a Teacher has said,
The degrees of an Adept’s initiation mark the seven stages at which he discovers the secret of the sevenfold principles in nature and man and awakens his dormant powers.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 10, August, 1938
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin
The little town of Amboise in Touraine is redolent with memories. There, in the fourth century, Saint Martin, patron of Tours, overthrew an ancient pyramidal temple and established Christianity in that part of France. There too Clovis and Alaric held their famous meeting in 496. The Chateau on the hill has housed many notables — Louis XI, Charles VIII, Francis I and the lovely Marguerite de Valois, Catherine de Medici and Mary Stuart. A short distance from the Chateau is the Gothic edifice where Leonardo da Vinci died.
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, the “unknown philosopher” of the eighteenth century, was born in Amboise on January 18, 1743. (It is interesting that when the boy was fifteen years old the Count de St. Germain was living in the Chateau of Chambord, only a few miles away.) Out of respect for the wish of his father, who expected him to enter the legal profession, the young Saint-Martin studied law for a while. But after practicing for six months he found himself unable to distinguish between the rights of the plaintiff and the defendant, and asked his father’s permission to enter the army, not that he was fond of fighting, but that he might have more time to study philosophy. His father appealed to the Duc de Choiseul, Prime Minister of France, who gave the young man a lieutenancy in the Régiment de Foix, then in garrison in Bordeaux. It was there that he met Martinez Paschalis and became a member of his school.
Paschalis was a Portuguese gentleman who had travelled extensively in the East and was known as a Kabalist and Rosicrucian Initiate. Particularly interested in Masonry, he founded a Masonic Order in Paris. Arriving in Bordeaux in 1767, he established a School of Occultism where theosophical principles were taught and a high code of ethics was maintained. The psychic side of Occultism, however, was emphasized in this school, and the majority of the pupils were concerned with the development of occult powers. Paschalis left Bordeaux in 1773 and Saint-Martin assumed charge of his school. In the following year Saint-Martin went to Lyons, where he established a semi-occult Masonic rite known as the “Rectified Rite of Saint-Martin,” through which he endeavored to restore to Masonry its primeval character of Eastern Occultism. From this attempt was born an organization known as the Martinists, composed mainly of Paschalis’ pupils. Like their former teacher, the Martinists were chiefly interested in “powers.” Although Saint-Martin was fully aware of the elemental forces in nature and the occult powers in man, he told the Martinists that “moral development is the true basis of Occultism,” warning them that occult powers without an underlying moral background are dangerous weapons. Writing to a friend a few years later he said:
I will not conceal from you that formerly I walked in this external way. Nevertheless I at all times felt so strong an inclination to the intimate secret way, that the external way never further seduced me, even in my youth; for at the age of 23 I had been initiated in all these things.
In 1775 Saint-Martin published his first book, Des Erreurs et de la Vérité, par un Philosophe Inconnu. The Masons in France and Germany hailed it as a treasure of Masonic science. J. G. Findel declares that Saint-Martin gave “the key to all the allegories and mystical fables of the ancients, the source of all religions and political institutions, and a model of the laws which should regulate the universe as well as single persons, and without which no real science could exist.” Although the book was immediately attacked by Voltaire and his party, it drew to Saint-Martin many new friends and supporters, who hailed him as the coming apostle of spiritual truth.
After travelling in Italy for three years, Saint-Martin settled in Versailles in 1778, the year that Dr. Mesmer arrived in Paris. In 1782, when Mesmer was the rage of Paris and Cagliostro was busy establishing his Egyptian Rite in Bordeaux and Lyons, Saint-Martin published his second book, in which he traced the correspondences between man and nature, painted a glowing picture of man’s divinity, and showed that the whole purpose of the evolutionary scheme is to bring man to a realization of his god-like nature. In 1784 the Philalethians (a branch of the Loge des Amis Réunis) invited both Saint-Martin and Cagliostro to membership. Saint-Martin refused because of their interest in psychic phenomena. Cagliostro accepted, hoping to purify the society through his own knowledge. Although the organization of the Philalethians offered no common meeting ground for the Theosophical representatives of the eighteenth century, four of them were members of the Fratres Lucis or “Brothers of Light,” and with the fifth, Thomas Paine, all were Masons. In 1782 Saint-Martin, St. Germain, Mesmer and Cagliostro met at the great Masonic convention in Wilhelmsbad. In 1785 they met again at the Paris convention.
Immediately afterward Saint-Martin departed for England to meet Jane Lead, in whose mystical writings he had become interested. In London he associated with a colony of Russians who were members of Cagliostro’s “Northern School.” After a short trip to Rome with Prince Galatzin, Saint-Martin went to Strasbourg, where Cagliostro had become famous as a magnetic healer a few years before. There he studied the writings of Swedenborg and wrote his Nouvel Homme in collaboration with Swedenborg’s nephew. This was followed by his Ecce Homo, in which he warned the world against the dangers of spiritualism. In Strasbourg he also became acquainted with the writings of Jacob Boehme, and from that time spoke of himself as a humble disciple of the great German mystic.
At the beginning of the French Revolution Saint-Martin was living as an honored guest in the hôtel of the Duchesse de Bourbon, who was herself a Mason, the Grand Mistress of the Adoptive Rite in France. In letters written to the Baron von Liebistorf during that period Saint-Martin frequently refers to the battles which took place in the very street in which he lived, even to the execution of Marie Antoinette. Although Saint-Martin took no active part in the uprising other than serving in the Garde Nationale and becoming one of the guards of the unhappy little Dauphin, it was the sacred Ternary of the Martinists — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity — which was adopted as the special motto of the Revolution.
In 1794 Saint-Martin was banished from Paris with the other aristocrats and returned to his native city of Amboise. Shortly afterward he returned to Paris as the Amboise representative to the newly formed Ecole Normale. He welcomed this appointment as an opportunity to work for educational reform, and installed himself in the Maison de la Fraternité in the Rue de Tournon. But his hopes were soon dashed to pieces against the impenetrable materialism of the Encyclopaedists. He then turned his attention to the subject of Numbers. “Numbers,” he said, “are the only sensible expression of the different properties of beings, which all proceed from the one and only essence.” He declared that the number seven is the ruling number of the manifested universe, and that “it is by multiplying this number that we find its fruits.” One of his last statements was an expression of regret that he had to die leaving the mystery of Numbers still unsolved.
When Saint-Martin was fifty-five years old, one of his books was condemned by the Inquisition. Realizing that his incarnation was drawing to a close, he determined to give mankind — for which he had labored from his early youth — a final summary of those fundamental principles which he considered the true basis of philosophy. It was just one year before his death, in 1802, that he published his last work, Le Ministère de l’Homme-Esprit. This book is the final cry of a noble soul who lived with but one thought — to benefit mankind. “A zeal for the repose of the whole human family masters and consumes me,” he confessed in the introduction. “I can neither evade nor resist it. It torments me continually.”
“How can I make men listen to me?” he sighed.
Principles are all I have to offer them. I would animate them with a glorious desire to renew their alliance with Universal Unity. But they are in arms against that Unity, and seem as if they wished to efface its very existence!
Saint-Martin predicted that the time was not far off when the people of Europe would eagerly search for things they had formerly treated with contempt. “The literary wealth of Asia will come to their aid,” he prophesied. “When they see the treasures which Indian literature begins to open, when they have studied the Mahabharata and the Vedas, they will be struck with the similarity between the thought of the East and the West.” His prophecy had already come true, for in 1785 Wilkins published the first English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, and scholars were pondering over the soul-inspiring dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. But Saint-Martin warned his readers that not even the “theosophic wealth of India” would give them the peace they were seeking, since “the radical development of our intimate essence alone can lead us to active spirituality.”
Saint-Martin’s philosophy was founded upon the time-honored propositions of the ancient Wisdom-Religion. “How could any order of things subsist if there were not a Substance of Life disseminated everywhere?” he inquired. There must be a living Essence behind the manifested universe, a Life-Substance which is the ground-work of existence, One Actuality which every man perceives as himself.
The manifested universe, he affirmed, rests upon two fundamental bases which express themselves as light and darkness, cause and effect, and “we can follow this principle through the whole chain of beings.” Observing the action of this law on the moral plane, he declared that “there must be a perfect analogy between the punishment and the fault, for the punishment and the crime must be founded the one upon the other.”
He warned his readers not to regard their sufferings as misfortunes, but as blessings. “If we confess that nothing can happen to us but what are our dues, we will find that, instead of complaining, we ought to be thankful.” He advised men to observe carefully the nature of their own particular form of suffering, as containing the clue to the original offence. “The next step must be to walk backward along the line of the offence, to arrive at the principle.” Man’s first duty, Saint-Martin affirmed, is to cease complaining. His second duty is to go straight ahead, without turning to the left or the right, as “this alone will bring us back to that life from which the offence, or lapse, separated us.”
Although the doctrine of Karma runs like a golden thread throughout this book, the word “reincarnation” does not appear. Saint-Martin, however, was acquainted with the doctrine, as it was taught in Cagliostro’s “Northern School” and commonly accepted by the occult students in Versailles. Furthermore his letters to the Baron von Liebistorf show that he accepted it as a fundamental truth.
The one thought around which the life of Saint-Martin revolved was Man: compassion for his suffering, faith in his ultimate destiny, and a burning desire to lead his fellows back to their spiritual source and restore the peace which they had forfeited. He cautioned his readers to look within themselves in their search for God, for “man is the only true witness and positive sign by which the Supreme Universal Source may be known.” Man should sound the depths of his own being, and affirm the sublimity of his own essence, if he would demonstrate the Divine Essence, “for there is nothing else in the world that can do it, directly.”
Why does man suffer? Because he has identified himself with the external universe. “If man would only for a moment take a more correct view of the matter, he would recognize the dignity of his being and his superiority over the external order.” The lower kingdoms express the laws of nature. The animal can use those laws. “But the Spirit-Man has at once the effect, the use and the free direction of those laws.” The lower Mysteries deal with the laws of the physical universe, but the higher Mysteries are concerned with man’s real being and its relation to its Divine Principle. The final intent of the higher Mysteries is to arouse Compassion and show man his responsibility to the lower kingdoms.
Saint-Martin was a devotee of the Heart-Doctrine. He pictured the universe as lying upon a bed of anguish, all due to man’s inhumanity. He visioned the earth as a suffering beast, imploring man for a balm to heal its wounds. “The universe would not have passed its days in agony if you had yourself remained in that throne of glory in which you were originally seated!” “Come, then,” he implored, “and ask its forgiveness, for you are the cause of its pain. Inject quickly the elixir of life into all its channels, for it is for you to bring it to life again!”
Man, therefore, has a threefold task. First he must regenerate himself; next he must regenerate nature, which he has polluted; finally he must rise and become a steward of eternal riches. Man’s self-regeneration begins by undergoing pain. If we lose an arm or a leg by amputation, we still feel pain in the member lost. The first evidence of our spiritual regeneration is to feel pain in the spiritual members we have lost. This requires the cultivation of the spiritual will. “Beware of departing, even for an instant, from the radical central fire on which you rest. Remain constantly in this central spiritual fire as an infant remains in its mother’s womb.”
When man begins to regenerate himself, he becomes aware of his great responsibility to the rest of nature. “Man cannot produce a thought, a word, an act, which is not imprinted on the eternal mirror on which everything is engraved, and from which nothing is ever effaced.”
Every physical action has its everlasting moral effect, being transmitted upward through the intermediary sheaths to the Soul itself. What a power, therefore, resides in speech! By indulging in harmful or unnecessary speech, we fritter away our soul forces. But on the other hand, as Mr. Judge says, “Meditation on tone, as expressed in the Sanscrit word OM, will lead us to a knowledge of the Secret Doctrine.” Saint-Martin says the same:
When we penetrate to the very ground of our being, we find that we can unite ourselves by our word with the ineffable source of truth; but that we can also, by its criminal use, unite ourselves with the awful abyss of lies and darkness.
Then, in a few simple rules, Saint-Martin lays down the essential laws of speech. We should regard human intelligence so highly that nothing unworthy should be presented to it. We should approach our listeners as certain high personages in the East are approached — by offering them an intellectual gift through our words. We should strive to add to the light and virtue of those with whom we converse. We should make our conversation center around spiritual truths, and should distribute our words with moderation and discrimination. Above all we should remember that “speech, or the Word, is the light of infinity, which should constantly increase.”
The control of speech is one of the prime requisites of the spiritual life. As our speech becomes deliberate, instigated and controlled by the God within, an inner alchemy is worked whereby passion is transmuted into compassion, lust into love, antipathy into sympathy. Saint-Martin gives us a simple standard of life which, if faithfully followed, will bring about our regeneration and restore to us the human dignity we have lost.
Not a desire, but in obedience.
Not an idea which is not a sacred communication.
Not a word which is not a sovereign decree.
Not an act which is not a development and extension of the vivifying power of the Word.
“Lose not a moment,” he warns us, “in reviving within you all these measures, if you have allowed them to die. Make these powers, each in its class, always advance. For this is the way of Justice!”
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 11, September, 1938
Jane Lead: A Correction
In the study of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin published in the September issue (Vol. XXVI, p. 484), it was erroneously stated that after the Masonic convention held in Paris in 1785, Saint-Martin went to England “to meet Jane Lead.” Jane Lead died in 1704, and it was rather the desire to study her writings that drew the French adept across the channel. Mrs. Lead was a member of the mystic sect of Philadelphians founded in London in 1651 by Dr. John Pordage, an English preacher of Cromwell’s time. It had at the beginning some twenty members, but soon grew to a hundred, known as the “Angelic Brethren.” Soon after the establishment of the Society the members began to experience ecstatic visions — a circumstance not remarkable in view of the mid-century cycle of psychic phenomena. On one occasion all present at a meeting of the Philadelphians passed into transports and saw hosts of “spirits,” good and evil. This continued daily at their meetings, both day and night, for nearly a month. As Pordage reported the experiences, “when we closed our eyes, we saw just as well as when they were open. Thus we saw everything, both inward with the eyes of the mind, and outwardly with the eyes of the body.” He explained it thus: “The true original ground of this seeing was in the opening of the inward eye of the mind; and thus it proceeded farther, in a magical manner, from the inward through the outward organ, through the most intimate union of the internal and external sight.” (See Mr. Judge’s description of the “three modes of sight,” The Ocean of Theosophy, p. 145.)
For 150 years Alessandro Cagliostro has been defamed as the arch-impostor of the eighteenth century. Why? Because it is claimed that Cagliostro was one of the many aliases assumed by the notorious adventurer Giuseppe Balsamo. This claim is based, first, upon the lies of Theveneau de Morande, a French spy and blackmailer who, in the words of a brilliant study by M. Paul Robiquet, was “from the day of his birth to the day of his death utterly without scruple”; and, second, upon a Life of Balsamo published anonymously in 1791 under the auspices of the Inquisition.
In 1890 H. P. Blavatsky boldly took issue with these two “authorities” by declaring that “whoever Cagliostro’s parents may have been, their name was not Balsamo.” In 1910 W. R. H. Trowbridge, in his book on Cagliostro, asserted that the statement that Cagliostro and Balsamo were the same person “would appear to be directly contrary to recorded fact.” As Cagliostro gave out his own story through his advocate, Thirolier, common justice demands that some attention be paid to his words.
In these Memoirs, Cagliostro frankly admitted that he knew neither the name of his parents nor the place of his birth. He had been told that his parents were Christians of noble birth who had left him an orphan at the age of three months. He believed that he had been born on the Island of Malta. His earliest recollections took him back to the holy city of Medina in Arabia, where he was called Acharat and where he lived in the palace of the Muphti Salahaym. Four persons were attached to his service, the chief of whom was an Eastern Adept named Althotas who instructed him in the various sciences and made him proficient in several Oriental languages. Although both teacher and pupil outwardly conformed to the religion of Islam, Cagliostro later wrote, “the true religion was imprinted in our hearts.”
When the boy was twelve years old, he and Althotas began their travels. The first stopping place was Mecca, where they lived for three years in the palace of the Cherif. On the day of their departure the aged Cherif pressed the boy to his bosom and exclaimed: “Nature’s unfortunate child, adieu!”
In Egypt they “inspected those celebrated Pyramids which to the eye of the superficial observer appear as enormous masses of granite,” but which, to the Adept-eye of Althotas, were holy fanes of initiation. Certain Temple-priests of that ancient land took the boy into “such palaces as no ordinary traveller has ever entered before.” Finally, after wandering through Asia and Africa for three years, the two reached the Island of Malta, where they were entertained in the palace of Pinto, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. There Althotas donned the insignia of the Order, and the young wanderer assumed European dress for the first time and received from his teacher the name of Cagliostro.
Althotas died in Malta, and Cagliostro, accompanied by the Chevalier d’Acquino, then visited Sicily and the Isles of Greece, stopped for a while in Naples, and finally reached Rome, where he made the acquaintance of Cardinal Orsini and the Pope. It was in Rome, when Cagliostro was twenty-two years old, that he met and married Lorenza Feliciani, who proved to be a tool of the Jesuits and the chief cause of his troubles.
In 1776 the Count and Countess Cagliostro were occupying apartments in Whitcombe Street, Leicester Fields, London. Cagliostro, now a man of twenty-eight, spent most of his time in his chemical laboratory, while his attractive wife amused herself with her new-found friends. Cagliostro’s extreme good nature and the blind confidence which he placed in his friends made him their easy victim, and when he left London eighteen months later he sadly confessed that they had swindled him of 3,000 guineas.
On April 12, 1777, Cagliostro became a Freemason. His life in Egypt, his association with the Temple-priests, and his probable initiation into some of the Egyptian mysteries had fired him with a determination to found an Egyptian Rite in Masonry based upon these Mysteries, the aim of which was the moral and spiritual regeneration of mankind. The Masonic authority, Kenneth Mackenzie, says:
His system of Masonry was not founded on shadows. Many of the doctrines he enunciated may be found in the Book of the Dead and other important documents of ancient Egypt. And though he may have committed the fatal error of matching himself with the policy of Rome and getting the worst of it, I have not yet been able to find one iota of evidence that he was guilty of anything more reprehensible than an error of judgment during his various journeys. (Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, p. 100.)
Baron von Gleichen, a man of irreproachable integrity and wide experience, declared that “Cagliostro’s Egyptian Masonry was worth the lot of them, for he tried to render it not only more wonderful, but more honorable than any other Masonic Order in Europe.”
Although Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite was open to both sexes, his was by no means the first attempt to give women a standing in Masonry. The Grand Orient of France established a “Rite of Adoption” in 1774. The Duchesse de Bourbon was Grand Mistress of the Rite in 1775, and in 1805 the Empress Josephine acted in the same capacity.
Cagliostro made his first speech on Egyptian Masonry in The Hague, where a Lodge was formed in accordance with the Rite. In Nürnberg, when Cagliostro was asked for his secret sign, he replied by drawing the picture of a serpent biting its own tail. This symbol was the “Circle of Necessity” of the ancient Egyptians, and it is also found on the seal of the Theosophical Society. After establishing his Egyptian Rite in other German cities, Cagliostro arrived in Mittau, capital of the Duchy of Courland, in March 1779. The Masonic Lodge in Mittau was composed principally of noblemen, most of whom were interested in some branch of the occult sciences. The head of this Lodge, the Marshal von Medem, had been a student of alchemy from his early youth, and he welcomed his new brother with open arms. Cagliostro was immediately invited to give an exhibition of his occult powers. He refused, declaring that such powers should never be displayed for the gratification of idle curiosity. Later, after much persuasion, he consented. As a result, some of his new friends began to look upon him as a supernatural being, while others denounced him as a charlatan.
Cagliostro then proceeded to St. Petersburg, where he appeared for the first time as a magnetic healer. In May, 1780, he arrived in Warsaw, then a great stronghold of both Masonry and Occultism. There he was entertained by Prince Poninski, whose initiation into the Egyptian Rite gained the adherence of a large number of the Polish nobility. The King of Poland heard of Cagliostro’s occult powers through a prediction he made to a young lady of the Court. “I do not know,” writes Laborde, “what confidence the King and the young lady placed in these predictions, but I do know that they were all fulfilled.”
In September, 1780, Cagliostro reached Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace. On the morning of his arrival crowds of people gathered on both banks of the Rhine to catch a glimpse of the mysterious stranger whose fame as a magnetic healer and friend of humanity had preceded him. From the day of his arrival in Strasbourg Cagliostro gave up his entire time to altruistic service. No sick or needy person appealed to him in vain. Every day he visited the unfortunate, whose distress he relieved not only with money, but, as Baron von Gleichen says, “with manifestations of a sympathy that went to the hearts of the sufferers and doubled the value of the actions.” He refused all compensation for his services, and if a present were given to him, he repaid it with a counter present of double value. He supported his poor patients for months at a time, often lodging them in his own house and feeding them at his own table. Like Mesmer, Cagliostro treated his patients magnetically, applying the force directly without the aid of magnetized objects. When he left Strasbourg 15,000 people claimed to have been helped by him.
Shortly after Cagliostro’s arrival in Strasbourg he was summoned to the palace of the Prince Cardinal de Rohan, who was deeply interested in the occult sciences and possessed one of the finest alchemical libraries in Europe. When Cagliostro was invited to live in the Cardinal’s palace, malicious tongues began to wag, and the rumor spread that His Holiness was spending a fortune upon his new friend. The Baronesse d’Oberkirch repeated the gossip to the Cardinal, who vehemently asserted that “Cagliostro is a most extraordinary, a most sublime man, whose knowledge is equalled only by his goodness. What alms he gives! What good he does! I can assure you that he has never asked for nor received anything from me!”
After leaving Strasbourg, Cagliostro went to Bordeaux and Lyons, where Saint-Martin had formerly lived. These cities welcomed him as a new prophet, and many influential men and women were initiated into his Egyptian Rite. In Lyons his Rite was so highly acclaimed that a special Temple was built for its observance, which later became the Mother Lodge of Egyptian Masonry.
Cagliostro settled in Paris in 1785, and his house on the Rue St. Claude became the talk of the town. The entrance hall was adorned with a black marble slab upon which was engraved Pope’s Universal Prayer. Statuettes of Isis, Anubis and Apis stood along the walls, which were covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the two lackeys were clothed like Egyptian slaves as they appear on the monuments of Thebes. Cagliostro received his guests in a black silk robe and an Arabian turban made of cloth of gold and sparkling with jewels. He had a striking countenance with “eyes of fire which burned to the bottom of the soul.” Cardinal de Rohan confessed that when he first saw Cagliostro he found a dignity so imposing that he was penetrated with awe. According to Georgel, Cagliostro “lived in the greatest affluence, giving much to the needy and seeking no favors from the rich,” although no one seemed to know the source of his income. His friends addressed him as “Grand Master,” and busts of le divin Cagliostro adorned the salons of his admirers.
Shortly after Cagliostro’s arrival in Paris he was invited to membership in the Philalethès, a Rite founded in 1773 in the Loge des Amis Réunis. The Mother Lodge was a Theosophical organization founded by Savalette des Langes, whose manuscripts, after his death, passed to the Philosophical Scottish Rite. Cagliostro joined the Philalethians hoping to infuse some Theosophical principles into their Rite. There are many landmarks in Cagliostro’s biographies showing that he taught the doctrine of the “principles” in man and the presence of the indwelling God, and there seems to be no doubt that he served the Masters of a Fraternity he would not — could not — name. This fact is admitted by Kenneth Mackenzie:
It is a rule recognized amongst adepts — in fact, a stringent obligation — that they shall not reveal the identity of their preceptors and initiators; and if that rule was applicable in times before Cagliostro, so it was in his own time. He was sent, in accordance with occult discipline, to rove about Europe, and we have before seen him under the protection of the Knights and Order of Malta; he completes his course by going to Paris and London, and there he was initiated into Masonry. (Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, p. 99.)
In Cagliostro’s letter to the Philalethians he assured them that the “unknown Grand Master of true Masonry” had cast his eyes upon them, as he wished to prove to them “the original dignity of man, his powers and destiny . . . of which true Masonry gives the symbols and indicates the real road.” When the Philalethians refused his help, Cagliostro replied: “We have offered you the truth; you have disdained it. We have offered it for the sake of itself, and you have refused it in consequence of your love of forms.” Cagliostro’s own Egyptian Rite, however, flourished from the moment he reached Paris. One of the first persons to be initiated was the young Marquis de Lafayette, already a high Mason and the leader of the pre-Revolutionary period in France. Cagliostro also acted as delegate to the two great Masonic conventions which took place in Wilhelmsbad and Paris in 1782 and 1785.
On August 23, 1785, Cagliostro was accused of complicity in the “Diamond Necklace Affair” and sent to the Bastille. After being imprisoned for nine months he was honorably acquitted, but at the same time (as the Queen was implicated in the scandal) he was asked to leave France. Upon his arrival in England he was accused by the French spy Morande of being the notorious Giuseppe Balsamo. Cagliostro refuted Morande’s accusation in an Open Letter to the English People. Morande was forced to retract his statements and apologize to his readers. Nevertheless for the past 150 years historians have continued to confound Cagliostro with Giuseppe Balsamo.
Broken-hearted by the loss of his good name, Cagliostro left England. After years of wandering he arrived in Rome in the spring of 1789. Making one last desperate effort to revive his Egyptian Rite, he was prevailed upon to initiate two men, who proved to be spies of the Inquisition. On the evening of December 27, 1789, he was arrested and thrown into a dungeon in the Castle of St. Angelo. Shortly afterward he was sentenced to death, the sole charge against him being that he was a Mason, and therefore engaged in unlawful studies. As an instance of the hatred of the Papal government for Freemasonry, part of Cagliostro’s sentence, issued on March 21, 1791, is worth quoting:
Giuseppe Balsamo, convicted of many crimes, and of having incurred the censures and penalties pronounced against heretics, has been found guilty and condemned to the said censures and penalties as decreed by the Apostolic laws of Clement XII and Benedict XIV, against all persons who in any manner whatever favor or form societies and conventicles of Freemasonry, as well as by the edict of the Council of State against all persons convicted of this crime in Rome or in any other place in the dominions of the Pope.
During his imprisonment Cagliostro’s private papers, family relics, diplomas from foreign Courts, his Masonic regalia and even his manuscript on Egyptian Masonry were publicly burned in the Piazza della Minerva. While the condemned Occultist was awaiting his fate, a mysterious stranger demanded an audience with the Pope. He was received, and immediately thereafter Cagliostro’s death sentence was changed to life imprisonment in the Castle of St. Leo, located on the frontiers of Tuscany. This Castle stands on the summit of an enormous rock with almost perpendicular sides. Cagliostro was pulled up the side of the mountain in a basket and incarcerated in a dungeon. Here he languished for three years, writing a sentence every day on the walls of his living tomb. The last entry bears the date of March 6, 1795. Exactly seven months later, on October 6, the Paris Moniteur contained a small paragraph announcing that “it is reported in Rome that the famous Cagliostro is dead.”
If this statement was true, and Cagliostro actually did die in the Castle of St. Leo, why are tourists shown the little square hole in the Castle of St. Angelo in Rome where he is said to have expired? After his supposed death it was whispered that Cagliostro had escaped from his dungeon in some miraculous manner, thus forcing his jailers to spread the news of his death. H.P.B. says that “having made a series of mistakes, more or less fatal, he was recalled.” His downfall, she declared, was due to his weakness for an unworthy woman and to his possession of certain secrets of nature which he refused to divulge to the Church.
A century and a half have passed since then, and modern Masons, although describing Cagliostro as “a Masonic martyr” (a change of heart due principally, it seems, to the influence of Trowbridge’s book), also write of him as a “medium” who perhaps resorted to trickery and employed the devices of a mountebank. (See The New Age, XXVII, Nos. 5 and 6.) How long will thoughtless people continue to defame the good names of the living and mar the memory of the dead by repeating slanders and calumnies? H.P.B. declared that Cagliostro’s justification must take place in this century — a task in which Theosophists can do their part.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 12, October, 1938
Was Cagliostro a 'Charlatan'?
Was Cagliostro a “Charlatan”?
To send the injured
How great soe’er the
offender, and the wrong’d
Howe’er obscure, is
wicked, weak and vile—
Degrades, defiles, and
should dethrone a king.
The mention of Cagliostro’s name produces a two-fold effect. With the one party, a whole sequence of marvellous events emerges from the shadowy past; with others the modern progeny of a too realistic age, the name of Alexander, Count Cagliostro, provokes wonder, if not contempt. People are unable to understand that this “enchanter and magician” (read “Charlatan”) could ever legitimately produce such an impression as he did on his contemporaries. This gives the key to the posthumous reputation of the Sicilian known as Joseph Balsamo, that reputation which made a believer in him, a brother Mason, say, that (like Prince Bismarck and some Theosophists) “Cagliostro might well be said to be the best abused and most hated man in Europe.” Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the fashion of loading him with opprobrious names, none should forget that Schiller and Goethe were among his great admirers, and remained so to their deaths. Goethe while travelling in Sicily devoted much labour and time to collecting information about “Giuseppe Balsamo” in his supposed native land; and it was from these copious notes that the author of Faust wrote his play “The Great Kophta.”
Why this wonderful man is receiving so little honour in England, is due to Carlyle. The most fearlessly truthful historian of his age—he, who abominated falsehood under whatever appearance—has stamped with the imprimatur of his honest and famous name, and thus sanctified the most iniquitous of historical injustices ever perpetrated by prejudice and bigotry. This owing to false reports which almost to the last emanated from a class he disliked no less than he hated untruth, namely the Jesuits, or—lie incarnate.
The very name of Giuseppe Balsamo, which, when rendered by cabalistic methods, means “He who was sent,” or “The Given,” also “Lord of the Sun,” shows that such was not his real patronymic. As Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, F.T.S., remarks, toward the end of the last century it became the fashion with certain theosophical professors of the time to transliterate into Oriental form every name provided by Occult Fraternities for disciples destined to work in the world. Whosoever then, may have been Cagliostro’s parents, their name was not “Balsamo.” So much is certain, at any rate. Moreover, as all know that in his youth he lived with, and was instructed by, a man named, as is supposed, Althotas, “a great Hermetic Eastern Sage” or in other words an Adept, it is not difficult to accept the tradition that it was the latter who gave him his symbolical name. But that which is known with still more certainty is the extreme esteem in which he was held by some of the most scientific and honoured men of his day. In France we find Cagliostro—having before served as a confidential friend and assistant chemist in the laboratory of Pinto, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta—becoming the friend and protégé of the Prince Cardinal de Rohan. A high born Sicilian Prince honoured him with his support and friendship, as did many other noblemen. “Is it possible, then,” pertinently asks Mackenzie, “that a man of such engaging manners could have been the lying impostor his enemies endeavoured to prove him?”
The chief cause of his life-troubles was his marriage with Lorenza Feliciani, a tool of the Jesuits; and two minor causes his extreme good nature, and the blind confidence he placed in his friends—some of whom became traitors and his bitterest enemies. Neither of the crimes of which he is unjustly accused could lead to the destruction of his honour and posthumous reputation; but all was due to his weakness for an unworthy woman, and the possession of certain secrets of nature, which he would not divulge to the Church. Being a native of Sicily, Cagliostro was naturally born in a family of Roman Catholics, no matter what their name, and was brought up by monks of the “Good Brotherhood of Castiglione,” as his biographers tell us; thus, for the sake of dear life he had to outwardly profess belief in and respect for a Church, whose traditional policy has ever been, “he who is not with us is against us,” and forthwith to crush the enemy in the bud. And yet, just for this, is Cagliostro even to-day accused of having served the Jesuits as their spy; and this by Masons who ought to be the last to bring such a charge against a learned Brother who was persecuted by the Vatican even more as a Mason than as an Occultist. Had it been so, would these same Jesuits even to this day vilify his name? Had he served them, would he not have proved himself useful to their ends, as a man of such undeniable intellectual gifts could not have blundered or disregarded the orders of those whom he served. But instead of this, what do we see? Cagliostro charged with being the most cunning and successful impostor and charlatan of his age; accused of belonging to the Jesuit Chapter of Clermont in France; of appearing (as a proof of his affiliation to the Jesuits) in clerical dress at Rome. Yet, this “cunning impostor” is tried and condemned—by the exertions of those same Jesuits—to an ignominious death, which was changed only subsequently to life-long imprisonment, owing to a mysterious interference or influence brought to bear on the Pope!
Would it not be more charitable and consistent with truth to say that it was his connection with Eastern Occult Science, his knowledge of many secrets—deadly to the Church of Rome—that brought upon Cagliostro first the persecution of the Jesuits, and finally the rigour of the Church? It was his own honesty, which’ blinded him to the defects of those whom he cared for, and led him to trust two such rascals as the Marquis Agliato and Ottavio Nicastro, that is at the bottom of all the accusations of fraud and imposture now lavished upon him. And it is the sins of these two worthies—subsequently executed for gigantic swindles and murder—which are now made to fall on Cagliostro. Nevertheless it is known that he and his wife (in 1770) were both left destitute by the flight of Agliato with all their funds, so that they had to beg their way through Piedmont and Geneva. Kenneth Mackenzie has well proven that Cagliostro had never mixed himself up with political intrigue—the very soul of the activities of the Jesuits. “He was most certainly unknown in that capacity to those who have jealously guarded the preparatory archives of the Revolution, and his appearance as an advocate of revolutionary principles has no basis in fact.” He was simply an Occultist and a Mason, and as such he was allowed to suffer at the hands of those who, adding insult to injury, first tried to kill him by life-long imprisonment and then spread the rumour that he had been their ignoble agent. This cunning device was in its infernal craft well worthy of its primal originators.
There are many landmarks in Cagliostro’s biographies to show that he taught the Eastern doctrine of the “principles” in man, of “God” dwelling in man—as a potentiality in actu (the “Higher Self”)—and in every living thing and even atom—as a potentiality in posse, and that he served the Masters of a Fraternity he would not name because on account of his pledge he could not. His letter to the new mystical but rather motley Brotherhood the (Lodge of) Philalethes, is a proof in point. The Philalethes, as all Masons know, was a rite founded in Paris in 1773 in the Loge des Amis Réunis, based on the principles of Martinism,* and whose members made a special study of the Occult Sciences. The Mother Lodge was a philosophical and theosophical Lodge, and therefore Cagliostro was right in desiring to purify its progeny, the Lodge of Philalethes. This is what the Royal Masonic Cyclopædia says on the subject:
On the 15 February 1785 the Lodge of Philalethes in solemn Section, with Lavalette de Langes. royal treasurer; Tassin, the banker; and Tassin, an officer in the royal service; opened a Fraternal Convention, at Paris . . . Princes (Russian, Austrian, and others). fathers of the Church, councillors, knights, financiers, barristers, barons, Theosophists, canons. colonels, professors of Magic, engineers, literary men, doctors, merchants, postmasters, dukes, ambassadors, surgeons, teachers of languages, receivers-general. and notably two London names—Boosie, a merchant, and Brooks of London—compose this Convention. to whom may be added M. le Count de Cagliostro, and Mesmer “the inventor” as Thory describes him (Acta Latomorum, vol. ii. p. 95), “of the doctrine of magnetism!” Surely such an able set of men to set the world to rights, as France never saw before or since!
* The Martinists were Mystics and Theosophists who claimed to have the secret of communicating with (Elemental and Planetary) Spirits of the ultramundane Spheres. Some of them were practical Occultists.
The grievance of the Lodge was that Cagliostro, who had first promised to take charge of it, withdrew his offers, as the “Convention would not adopt the Constitutions of the Egyptian Rite, nor would the Philalethes consent to have its archives consigned to the flames, which were his conditions sine qua non. It is strange that his answer to that Lodge should be regarded by Brother R. H. Mackenzie and other Masons as emanating “from a Jesuit source.” The very style is Oriental, and no European Mason—least of all a Jesuit—would write in such a manner. This is how the answer runs:
. . . The unknown grand Master of true Masonry has cast his eyes upon the Philaletheans. . . . Touched by the sincere avowal of their desires, he deigns to extend his hand over them, and consents to give a ray of light into the darkness of their temple. It is the wish of the Unknown Great Master, to prove to them the existence of one God—the basis of their faith; the original dignity of man; his powers and destiny. . . . It is by deeds and facts, by the testimony of the senses, that they will know GOD, MAN and the intermediary spiritual beings (principles) existing between them; of which true Masonry gives the symbols and indicates the real road. Let then, the Philalethes embrace the doctrines of this real Masonry, submit to the rules of its supreme chief, and adopt its constitutions. But above all let the Sanctuary be purified, let the Philalethes know that light can only descend into the Temple of Faith (based on knowledge), not into that of Scepticism. Let them devote to the flames that vain accumulation of their archives; for it is only on the ruins of the Tower of Confusion that the Temple of Truth can be erected.
n the Occult phraseology of certain Occultists “Father, Son and Angels” stood for the compound symbol of physical, and astro-Spiritual MAN.* John G. Gichtel (end of XVIIth cent.), the ardent lover of Boehme, the Seer of whom St. Martin relates that he was married “to the heavenly Sophia,” the Divine Wisdom—made use of this term. Therefore, it is easy to see what Cagliostro meant by proving to the Philalethes on the testimony of their “senses,” “God, man and the intermediary Spiritual beings,” that exist between God (Atma), and Man (the Ego). Nor is it more difficult to understand his true meaning when he reproaches the Brethren in his parting letter which says: “We have offered you the truth; you have disdained it. We have offered it for the sake of itself, and you have refused it in consequence of a love forms. . . Can you elevate yourselves to (your) God and the knowledge of yourselves by the assistance of a Secretary and a Convocation?” etc. †
* See the Three Principles and the Seven Forms of Nature by Boehme and fathom their Occult significance, to assure yourself of this.
† The statement on the authority of Beswick that Cagliostro was connected with The Loge des Amis Réunis under the name of Count Grabionka is not proven. There was a Polish Count of that name at that time in France, a mystic mentioned Madame de Krüdner’s letters which are with the writer’s family, and one who belonged, as Beswick says, together with Mesmer and Count St. Germain, to the Lodge of the Philalethes. Where are Lavalette de Langes’ Manuscripts and documents by him after his death to the Philosophic Scottish Rite? Lost?
Many are the absurd and entirely contradictory statements about Joseph Balsamo, Count de Cagliostro, so-called, several of which were incorporated by Alexander Dumas in his Mémoires d’un Medicin, with those prolific variations of truth and fact which so characterize Dumas pére’s romances. But though the world is in possession of a most miscellaneous and varied mass of information concerning that remarkable and unfortunate man during most of his life, yet of the last ten years and of his death, nothing certain is known, save only the legend that he died in the prison of the Inquisition. True, some fragments published recently by the Italian savant, Giovanni Sforza, from the private correspondence of Lorenzo Prospero Bottini, the Roman ambassador of the Republic of Lucca at the end of the last century, have somewhat filled this wide gap. This correspondence with Pietro Calandrini, the Great Chancellor of the said Republic, begins from 1784, but the really interesting information commences only in 1789, in a letter dated June 6, of that year, and even then we do not learn much.
It speaks of the “celebrated Count di Cagliostro, who has recently arrived with his wife from Trent viâ Turin to Rome. People say he is a native of Sicily and extremely wealthy, but no one knows whence that wealth. He has a letter of introduction from the Bishop of Trent to Albani. . . . So far his daily walk in life as well as his private and public status are above reproach. Many are those seeking an interview with him, to hear from his own lips the corroboration of what is being said of him.” From another letter we learn that Rome had proven an ungrateful soil for Cagliostro. He had the intention of settling at Naples, but the plan could not be realised. The Vatican authorities who had hitherto left the Count undisturbed, suddenly laid their heavy hand upon him. In a letter dated 2 January, 1790, just a year after Cagliostro’s arrival, it is stated that: “last Sunday secret and extraordinary debates in council took place at the Vatican.” It (the council) consisted of the State Secretary and Antonelli, Pillotta and Campanelli, Monsignor Figgerenti performing the duty of Secretary. The object of that Secret Council remains unknown, but public rumour asserts that it was called forth owing to the sudden arrest on the night between Saturday and Sunday, of the Count di Cagliostro, his wife, and a Capuchin, Fra Giuseppe Maurijio. The Count is incarcerated in Fort St. Angelo, the Countess in the Convent of St. Apollonia, and the monk in the prison of Araceli. That monk, who calls himself “Father Swizzero,” is regarded as a confederate of the famous magician. In the number of the crimes he is accused of is included that of the circulation of a book by an unknown author, condemned to public burning and entitled, “The Three Sisters.” The object of this work is “to pulverize certain three high-born individuals.”
The real meaning of this most extraordinary misinterpretation is easy to guess. It was a work on Alchemy; the “three sisters” standing symbolically for the three “Principles” in their duplex symbolism. On the plane of occult chemistry they “pulverize” the triple ingredient used in the process of the transmutation d metals; on the plane- of Spirituality they reduce to a state of pulverization the three “lower” personal “principles” in man, an explanation that every Theosophist is bound to understand.
The trial of Cagliostro lasted for a long time. In a letter of March the 17th, Bottini writes to his Lucca correspondent that the famous “wizard” has finally appeared before the Holy Inquisition. The real cause of the slowness of the proceedings was that the Inquisition, with all its dexterity at fabricating proofs could find no weighty evidence to prove the guilt of Cagliostro Nevertheless, on April the 7th, 1791, he was condemned to death He was accused of various and many crimes, the chiefest of which were his being a Mason and an “Illuminate,” an “Enchanter’ occupied with unlawful studies; he was also accused of deriding the holy Faith, of doing harm to society, of possessing himself by means unknown of large sums of money, and of inciting others, sex, age and social standing notwithstanding, to do the same. In short, we find the unfortunate Occultist condemned to an ignominious death for deeds committed, the like of which are daily and publicly committed now-a-days, by more than one Grand Master of the Masons, as also by hundreds of thousands of Kabbalists and Masons, mystically inclined. After this verdict the “arch heretic’s” documents, diplomas from foreign Courts and Societies, Masonic regalias and family relics were solemnly burned by the public hangmen in the Piazza della Minerva, before enormous crowds of people. First his books and instruments were consumed. Among these was the MS. on the Maçonnerie Egyptienne which thus can no longer serve as a witness in favour of the reviled man. And now the condemned Occultist had to be passed over to the hands of the civil Tribunal, when a mysterious event happened.
A stranger, never seen by any one before or after in the Vatican appeared and demanded a private audience of the Pope, sending him by the Cardinal Secretary a word instead of a name. He was immediately received, but only stopped with the Pope for a few minutes. No sooner was he gone than his Holiness gave orders to commute the death sentence of the Count to that of imprisonment for life, in the fortress called the Castle of St. Leo, and that the whole transaction should be conducted in great secrecy. The monk Swizzero was condemned to ten years’ imprisonment; and the Countess Cagliostro was set at liberty, but only to be confined on a new charge of heresy in a convent.
But what was the Castle of St. Leo? It now stands on the frontiers of Tuscany and was then in the Papal States, in the Duchy of Urbino. It is built on the top of an enormous rock, almost perpendicular on all sides; to get into the “Castle” in those days, one had to enter a kind of open basket which was hoisted up by ropes and pulleys. As to the criminal, he was placed in a special box, after which the jailors pulled him up “with the rapidity of the wind.” On April 23rd, 1792, Giuseppe Balsamo—if so we must call him—ascended heavenward in the criminal’s box, incarcerated in that living tomb for life. Giuseppe Balsamo is mentioned for the last time in the Bottini correspondence in a letter dated March 10th, 1792. The ambassador speaks of a marvel produced by Cagliostro in his prison during his leisure hours. A long rusty nail taken by the prisoner out of the floor was transformed by him without the help of any instrument into a sharp triangular stiletto, as smooth, brilliant and sharp as if it were made of the finest steel. It was recognized for an old nail only by its head, left by the prisoner to serve as a handle. The State Secretary gave orders to have it taken away from Cagliostro, and brought to Rome, and to double the watch over him.
And now comes the last kick of the jackass at the dying or dead lion. Luiggi Angiolini, a Tuscan diplomat, writes as follows: “At last, that same Cagliostro, who made so many believe that he had been a contemporary of Julius Cæsar, who reached such fame and so many friends, died from apoplexy, August 26, 1795. Semironi had him buried in a wood-barn below, whence peasants used to pilfer constantly the crown property. The crafty chaplain reckoned very justly that the man who had inspired the world with such superstitious fear while living, would inspire people with the same feelings after his death, and thus keep the thieves at bay . . . . . .”
But yet—a query! Was Cagliostro dead and buried indeed in 1792, at St. Leo? And if so, why should the custodians at the Castle of St. Angelo, of Rome show innocent tourists the little square hole in which Cagliostro is said to have been confined and “died’? Why such uncertainty or—imposition, and such disagreement in the legend? Then there are Masons who to this day tell strange stories in Italy. Some say that Cagliostro escaped in an unaccountable way from his aerial prison, and thus forced his jailors to spread the news of his death and burial. Others maintain that he not only escaped, but, thanks to the Elixir of Life, still lives on, though over twice three score and ten years old!
“Why,” asks Bottini, “if he really possessed the powers claimed, has he not indeed vanished from his jailors, and thus escaped the degrading punishment altogether?”
We have heard of another prisoner, greater in every respect than Cagliostro ever claimed to be. Of that prisoner too, it was said in mocking tones, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. . . . let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe. . . .”
How long shall charitable people build the biographies of living and ruin the reputations of the dead, with such incomparable unconcern, by means of idle and often entirely false gossip of people, and these generally the slaves of prejudice!
So long, we are forced to think, as they remain ignorant the Law of Karma and its iron justice.
— H.P.B., Lucifer, January, 1890
The Count de St. Germain
The Count de St. Germain
One of the most mysterious characters in modern history is the famous Count de St. Germain, described by his friend Prince Karl von Hesse as “one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived, the friend of humanity, whose heart was concerned only with the happiness of others.” Intimate and counselor of Kings and Princes, nemesis of deceptive ministers, Rosicrucian, Mason, accredited Messenger of the Masters of Wisdom — the Count de St. Germain worked in Europe for more than a century, faithfully performing the difficult task which had been entrusted to him.
The amazing and inscrutable personality in which the Adept known as St. Germain clothed himself was the outstanding topic of conversation among the nobility of the eighteenth century. During the 112 years that he is said to have lived in Europe, he always presented the appearance of a man about forty-five years of age. He was of medium height, with a slender, graceful figure, a captivating smile, and eyes of peculiar beauty. “Oh, what eyes!” sighed the Countess d’Adhémar. “I have never seen their equal!” He was an extraordinary linguist, speaking French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Swedish without the slightest trace of an accent, and his knowledge of Sanscrit, Chinese and Arabic showed that he was well acquainted with the East. His proficiency in music was equally remarkable. As a violinist he is said to have rivalled Paganini, while his performances on the harpsichord called forth enthusiastic applause from Frederick the Great. His ability to improvise made a great impression on Rameau, who met him in Venice in 1710. St. Germain was also a composer. One of his musical compositions was given to Tchaikowski, Prince Ferdinand von Lobkowitz inherited a second, while two others, bearing the dates 1745 and 1760, are the property of the British Museum.
The Count de St. Germain was also a painter of rare ability, famed for his power to reproduce the original brilliance of precious stones on canvas. Although he refused to betray his secret, it was commonly supposed that he produced the effect by mixing powdered mother-of-pearl with his pigments. He was highly esteemed as an art critic and was frequently consulted in regard to the authenticity of paintings.
The prodigious memory of the Count de St. Germain was a constant source of amazement to his friends. He would merely glance at a paper, and days afterward repeat its contents without missing a word. He was ambidextrous, and could write a poem with one hand while he framed a diplomatic paper with the other. He frequently read sealed letters without touching them and was known to answer questions before they had been put into words.
Many of St. Germain’s friends had practical proof of his alchemical knowledge. Casanova relates that one day while visiting St. Germain in his laboratory, the latter asked for a silver coin. In a few moments it was returned to Casanova as pure gold. St. Germain also possessed the secret of melting several small diamonds into one large stone, an art learned in India, he said. While visiting the French Ambassador to The Hague, he broke up a superb diamond of his own manufacture, the duplicate of which he had recently sold for 5500 louis d’or. On another occasion he removed a flaw from a diamond belonging to Louis XV, increasing the value of the stone by 4000 livres. On gala occasions he appeared with a diamond ring on every finger and with shoe-buckles estimated to be worth at least 200,000 francs.
The charming personality of the Count de St. Germain made him a welcome guest in the homes of the nobility of every land. But while he often sat at table with his friends, his own food was specially prepared for him in his own apartments. He ate no meat and drank no wine, his favorite beverage being a tea which he prepared from certain herbs, and which he frequently presented to his friends. His extraordinary popularity was due to his prowess as a raconteur, to his well known intimacy with the greatest men and women of the day, to his familiarity with occult subjects, and especially to the mystery of his birth and nationality, which he consistently refused to reveal. He spoke with feeling of things which had happened hundreds of years in the past, giving the impression that he himself had been present. One evening, while he was recounting an event which had happened many centuries before, he turned to his butler and asked if any important details had been omitted. “Monsieur le Comte forgets,” his butler replied, “that I have been with him only five hundred years. I could not, therefore, have been present at that occurrence. It must have been my predecessor.” If, as many claimed, St. Germain affirmed that he had lived in Chaldea and possessed the secrets of the Egyptian sages, he may have spoken the truth without making any miraculous claim. There are Initiates, and not necessarily of the highest, who are able to recall many of their past lives. This may have been St. Germain’s way of calling attention of his friends to the doctrine of reincarnation. Or perhaps he knew the secret of “the Elixir of Life.”
Although no one knew when the Count de St. Germain was born, his life from 1710 to 1822 is a matter of history. Both Rameau and the Countess de Georgy met him in Venice in 1710. Fifty years later the aged Countess met him in Madame Pompadour’s house and asked him if his father had been in Venice in that year. “No, Madame,” the Count replied, “but I myself was living in Venice at the end of the last and the beginning of this century. I had the honor to pay you court then, and you were kind enough to admire a little Barcarolle of my composing.” The Countess could not believe her ears. “But if that is true,” she gasped, “you must be at least a hundred years old!” The Count smiled. “That, Madame, is not impossible!”
In 1723 the Count showed his mother’s portrait, which he always wore on his arm, to the mother of the future Countess de Genlis. It was a miniature of an exceptionally beautiful woman, dressed in a costume unfamiliar to the Countess. “To what period does this costume belong?” the Countess inquired. The Count merely smiled and changed the subject.
From 1737 to 1742 the Count de St. Germain was living in the Court of the Shah of Persia, occupied with alchemical research. On his return from Persia he settled in Versailles and became an intimate friend of Louis XV and Madame Pompadour. In the following year he was caught in the Jacobite Revolution in England. From there he went to Vienna, and afterward visited Frederick the Great in his castle of Sans-Souci in Potsdam, where Voltaire was also an honored guest. Although Voltaire was opposed to St. Germain’s fellow-Theosophist Saint-Martin, his admiration for St. Germain was unbounded. In a letter to Frederick, Voltaire expressed his opinion that “the Count de St. Germain is a man who was never born, who will never die, and who knows everything.”
In 1755 the Count de St. Germain accompanied General Clive to India. On his return to France Louis XV gave him a suite of apartments in the Royal Chateau of Chambord, in Touraine. Here he often entertained the King and members of the Court in the alchemical laboratory which the King had provided for him.
In 1760 Louis sent the Count de St. Germain on a delicate diplomatic mission to The Hague and London. At that time he discovered that the Duc de Choiseul, who up to that time had been implicitly trusted by the King, was playing a double game. Although St. Germain confided this fact to the King, the former was determined that the Peace Treaty between England and France should be signed, no matter who received the credit. So one evening in May, 1761, St. Germain called upon the Duc de Choiseul and remained closeted with him the whole night. This conference resulted in the celebrated alliance known as the Family Compact. This in its turn was the forerunner of the Treaty of Paris, which brought the colonial war between England and France to a close.
In the following year St. Germain was called to St. Petersburg, where he played an important part in the revolution which placed Catherine the Great upon the throne of Russia. He left the country in the uniform of a Russian general, with full credentials to which the imperial seal of Russia was affixed. Shortly afterward he appeared in Tunis and Leghorn while the Russian fleet was there, again in Russian uniform, and known under the name of Graf Saltikoff.
After the death of Louis XV in 1774, St. Germain spent several years travelling in Germany and Austria. Among the Kings, Princes, Ambassadors and scholars who met him during those years, how many suspected that the soul of a great Adept looked out through the eyes of the Count de St. Germain? How many realized that they were conversing with an emissary of that Great Fraternity of Perfected Men who stand behind the scenes of all the great world-dramas, one who was directing not only the minor currents of European history, but some of the major currents as well? How many were aware of St. Germain’s real mission, part of which was the introduction of Theosophical principles into the various occult fraternities of the day?
The Rosicrucian organizations were certainly helped by him. While Christian Rosencreuz, the founder of the Order, transmitted his teachings orally, St. Germain recorded the doctrines in figures, and one of his enciphered manuscripts became the property of his staunch friend, Prince Karl von Hesse. H.P.B. mentions this manuscript in The Secret Doctrine (II, 202) and quotes at length from another (II, 582). While St. Germain was living in Vienna he spent much of his time in the Rosicrucian laboratory on the Landstrasse, and at one time lived in the room which Leibniz occupied in 1713. St. Germain also worked with the Fratres Lucis, and with the “Knights and Brothers of Asia” who studied Rosicrucian and Hermetic science and made the “philosopher’s stone” one of the objects of their research.
Although an effort has been made to eliminate St. Germain’s name from modern Masonic literature, careful research into Masonic archives will prove that he occupied a prominent position in eighteenth century Masonry. He acted as a delegate to the Wilhelmsbad Convention in 1782 and to the great Paris Convention of 1785. Cadet de Gassicourt described him as a travelling member of the Knights Templar, and Deschamps says that Cagliostro was initiated into that Order by St. Germain.
The Count de St. Germain is said to have died on February 27, 1784, and the Church Register of Eckernförde in Danish Holstein contains the record of his death and burial. But as it happens, some of St. Germain’s most important work was done after that date. This fact is brought out in the Souvenirs de Marie-Antoinette, written by one of her ladies-in-waiting, the Countess d’Adhémar. This diary was started in 1760 and ended in 1821, one year before the death of the Countess, and a large part of it is concerned with St. Germain’s efforts to avert the horrors of the French Revolution.
Early one Sunday morning in 1788 the Countess was surprised to receive a visit from the Count de St. Germain, whom she had not seen in several years. He warned her that a giant conspiracy was under foot, in which the Encyclopaedists would use the Duc de Chartres in an effort to overthrow the monarchy, and asked her to take him to the Queen. When Madame d’Adhémar reported the conversation to Marie-Antoinette, the Queen confessed that she also had received another communication from this mysterious stranger who had protected her with warnings from the day of her arrival in France. On the following day St. Germain was admitted into the private apartments of the Queen. “Madame,” he said to her, “for twenty years I was on intimate terms with the late King, who deigned to listen to me with kindness. He made use of my poor abilities on several occasions, and I do not think he regretted giving me his confidence.” After warning her of the serious condition of France, he asked her to communicate his message to the King and to request the King not to consult with Maurepas. But the King ignored the warning, and went directly to Maurepas, who immediately called upon Madame d’Adhémar. In the midst of the conversation St. Germain appeared. He confronted Maurepas with his treachery and said to him: “In opposing yourself to my seeing the monarch, you are losing the monarchy, for I have but a limited time to give to France. This time over, I shall not be seen here again, until after three successive generations have gone down to the grave,”
The second warning from St. Germain came on July 14, 1789, when the Queen was saying farewell to the Duchesse de Polignac. She opened the letter and read: “My words have fallen on your ears in vain, and you have reached the period of which I informed you. All the Polignacs and their friends are doomed to death. The Comte d’Artois will perish.”
His farewell letter, addressed to Madame d’Adhémar, arrived on October 5, 1789. “All is lost, Countess!” he wrote. “This sun is the last which will set on the monarchy. Tomorrow it will exist no more. My advice has been scorned. Now it is too late. . . .” In that letter he asked the Countess to meet him early the next morning. In that conversation the Count de St. Germain informed her that the time when he could have helped France was past. “I can do nothing now. My hands are tied by one stronger than myself. The hour of repose is past, and the decrees of Providence must be fulfilled.” He foretold the death of the Queen, the complete ruin of the Bourbons, the rise of Napoleon. “And you yourself?” the Countess asked. “I must go to Sweden,” he answered. “A great crime is brewing there, and I am going to try to prevent it. His Majesty Gustavus III interests me. He is worth more than his renown.” The Countess inquired if she would see him again. “Five times more,” he answered. “Do not wish for the sixth.”
True to his word, the Count de St. Germain appeared to the Countess d’Adhémar on five different occasions: at the beheading of the Queen; on the 18th Brumaire; the day following the death of the Duc d’Enghien in 1804; in January, 1813; on the eve of the assassination of the Duc de Berri in 1820. Presumably, the sixth time was on the day of her death, in 1822.
What happened to the Count de St. Germain after that date? Did he, as Andrew Lang asks, “die in the palace of Prince Karl von Hesse about 1780-85? Did he, on the other hand, escape from the French prison where Grosley thought he saw him, during the French Revolution? Was he known to Lord Lytton about 1860? Who knows?” Who, indeed. One of the Masters spoke of the “benevolent German Prince from whose house, and in whose presence he (St. Germain) made his last exit — home.”
In the last decade of the eighteenth century St. Germain confided his future plans to his Austrian friend, Franz Graeffer, saying,
Tomorrow night I am off. I am much needed in Constantinople, then in England, there to prepare two new inventions which you will have in the next century — trains and steamboats. Toward the end of this century I shall disappear out of Europe, and betake myself to the region of the Himalayas. I will rest; I must rest. Exactly in 85 years will people again set eyes on me. Farewell. (Kleine Wiener Memorien.)
These words were spoken in 1790. Eighty-five years from that date brings us to 1875. What part did St. Germain play in the Theosophical Movement of last century? What part is he going to play in the present century? H.P.B. gave a cryptic suggestion of the time when he would again appear:
The Count de St. Germain was certainly the greatest Oriental Adept Europe had seen during the last centuries. But Europe knew him not. Perchance some may recognize him at the next Terreur, which will affect all Europe when it comes, and not one country alone.
Was the event of which she spoke the last great War, or does the real Terreur still lie before us
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 27, No. 1, November, 1938
On January 29, 1737, a son was born to Joseph Paine, a humble staymaker living in Thetford, England. A great soul had come into incarnation; one who in the coming years would help call the American nation into being and draft a Bill of Rights for the yet unborn French Republic; who would suffer ignominy and imprisonment, be denounced for a century, and finally rise triumphant as one of the emancipators of the human race. Such was the destiny of Thomas Paine, and today three great nations claim him as a distinguished citizen and refer with pride to his achievements.
From his earliest childhood Thomas Paine rebelled against man’s inhumanity to man, as he saw it demonstrated in the stocks, pillory and gallows which he passed every morning on his way to school. The first pamphlet he ever wrote was a plea to the British Parliament in behalf of the overworked and underpaid excisemen whose lot he shared. This compassionate spirit made his mind host to two classes of thoughts — those he produced in himself by reflection and the act of thinking, and “those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.” He called the latter his “voluntary visitors” and admitted that he was indebted to them for all the knowledge he had.
Were these thoughts injected into Paine’s mind by certain Adepts who were concerned with the awakening of freedom destined to take place in the last quarter of the eighteenth century? Knowing that a new order of ages was due to commence, they sought a mind through which the needed reaction in America might be produced, and found it in Thomas Paine. They presented these ideas to Paine in the form of a vision. As he described it:
I saw, or at least I thought I saw, a vast scene opening itself to the world in the affairs of America, and it appeared to me that unless the Americans changed the plan they were pursuing with respect to the government of England, and declared themselves independent, they would shut out the prospect that was then offering itself to mankind through their means.
This vision made such an impression upon Thomas Paine that he left England and came to America. This visit resulted in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the birth of the American nation.
Evidence that the founding of the American Republic was sponsored by Adepts is seen in the Great Seal of the United States. On the reverse side of this Seal is a pyramid with the capstone removed, its space occupied by a blazing eye set in a triangle. At the top of the Seal appear the words “The heavens approve,” while at the bottom is the prophetic sentence, “A new order of ages.”
Thomas Paine arrived in America on November 30, 1774. He went at once to Philadelphia, and shortly afterward became the editor of the Pennsylvania Journal. He found the country greatly upset by oppression and unrest. One of his first articles in the Journal was written in defense of the negro slaves, urging their emancipation. Had his warning been heeded, the Civil War would not have occurred. This was followed by a protest against cruelty to animals and by the first plea for women’s rights ever published in America.
In 1775 the American Colonies were still acting as separate units and with no thought of secession from Great Britain. George Washington was still a loyal British subject, faithful to the Crown. The earliest anticipation of the Declaration of Independence came from the hand of Thomas Paine. It consisted of an article called “A Serious Thought” printed in the Pennsylvania Journal of October 18, 1775, in which Paine condemned the “horrid cruelties exercised by Britain” and prophesied the ultimate secession of the Colonies. This article was the forerunner of Common Sense, which Paine published anonymously on January 10, 1776. Half a million copies were soon in the hands of the people, and edition after edition poured from the press. Paine refused to accept a penny from the sale of this book, thus depriving himself of quite a considerable fortune. Six months later, the Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed. Many people are convinced that Paine himself wrote the Declaration, although the several drafts were in the handwriting of Thomas Jefferson. But, as William Cobbett said, “Whoever wrote the Declaration, Thomas Paine was its author.”
The influence of those Adepts who sponsored the formation of the American Republic and guided the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is seen in the fact that dogmatic religion plays no part in either of these documents. In the Declaration, nature and nature’s god are specified, the natural rights of man (such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) are defended, the King is described as the head of a civilized rather than a “Christian” nation, and the appeal is made to the native justice and magnanimity of the British. In the Constitution of 1787 it is stated that no religious test shall be required as qualification for office, and the first Amendment to Article VI prohibits the establishment of religion or the restraint of its free exercise. It is wrong, therefore, to describe the United States as a “Christian” country.
In Common Sense Paine outlined his plan for a representative government of the people, for the people and by the people, thus originating the form known as the modern democratic republic. In his Rights of Man he declared that “the government of America, which is wholly on the system of representation, is the only real Republic in character and in practice that now exists.”
Believing that “those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it,” Paine at once volunteered for service in the patriot army, and shortly afterward wrote the first of his thirteen pamphlets on the American Crisis. This pamphlet, beginning with the famous words “These are times which try men’s souls,” was read to every regiment by Washington’s orders, and the courage it inspired in the soldiers resulted in their winning the Battle of Trenton.
In 1777 Paine was elected Secretary of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and two years later became Clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly. At once an act for the abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania was introduced, which was adopted in the following year. In 1781 Paine went to France to obtain help for the Continental Congress. The King loaded him with favors, and sent him back with a quarter of a million livres in silver and a convoy ship laden with supplies. This timely help from France enabled the young nation to continue the campaign to victory.
After the war was over, Paine bought a little house in Bordentown, New Jersey, and turned his energies toward perfecting those inventions for which he afterward became famous. His most important invention was that of an iron bridge, the forerunner of our modern steel bridges. He also evolved the principle employed for the propulsion of the modern automobile and invented a smokeless candle which embodied the principle now known as the “central draught burner.” Paine was also one of the inventors of the steamboat, and Sir Richard Phillips, who assisted Robert Fulton in his experiments on the Thames, openly declared that Thomas Paine had the idea of applying steam to navigation before Robert Fulton, although the latter received all the credit. As the Count de St. Germain told his friend Franz Graeffer that he had to go to London in 1790, “to prepare two new inventions which you will have in the next century — trains and steamboats,” it is highly probable that it was he who gave Paine his ideas on the subject. Paine was in England most of that year, having returned to Europe in 1787.
In the spring of 1790 Paine visited Paris. He found the French people still rejoicing over the fall of the Bastille. Lafayette assured him that its overthrow was due entirely to the transfer of American principles to France, and presented him with the key to the old fortress. On the first of May Paine returned to London and sent the key to General Washington. It now rests in Washington’s old home at Mount Vernon.
In the autumn of 1790 Edmund Burke’s book in defense of monarchy appeared. Paine replied by writing the first part of his Rights of Man, which he dedicated to Washington. Early in 1791 he returned to Paris, where he founded the first republican club in France and wrote his famous Republican Manifesto. He returned to London in July and wrote the second part of his Rights of Man, which he dedicated to Lafayette. Three months later he was summoned to appear before the Court of the King’s Bench, and was denounced in the House of Commons for having “reviled what was most sacred in the Constitution, destroyed every principle of subordination, and established nothing in their room.” William Blake advised him to leave England at once. Twenty minutes after his boat left Dover an order appeared for his arrest.
Paine’s dearest hopes were now centered in the success of the French Revolution and the new Republic. He installed himself in the house at Number 63 Faubourg St. Denis, which had formerly been the home of Madame Pompadour, and where the Count de St. Germain had been a frequent visitor. There he gathered his little republican circle around him and discussed ways and means of helping the French people. In 1792 four different departments of France elected him a member of the French National Convention, and the National Assembly made him a citizen of the French Republic. A year later he began writing his last book, The Age of Reason. On the day the first volume was finished Paine was arrested as a foreigner and sent to the Luxembourg prison, where he languished for ten months. After his release he spent eighteen months with James Munroe, in whose home he finished the second part.
The Age of Reason, which probably has been more maligned and misrepresented than any other book of its kind, was written with the desire of divesting religion of its superstitions. Although Paine was brought up as a Quaker, he confessed that from the time he was capable of conceiving an idea and acting upon it, he “either doubted the Christian system or felt it to be a strange affair.” Paine’s idea of religion was one which would bind all men together in one great brotherhood. In 1797 he founded in Paris an ethical society which promulgated a “religion of humanity” forty years before Auguste Comte used the phrase. It was called the society of Theophilanthropists, meaning, as he explained in a letter, “God, Love, and Man.” He rendered the word, Lovers of God and Man, or Adorers of God and Friends of Man. Paine argued for the existence of God as a “Superior Cause,” affirming that the eternal motion of matter is not an inherent property of matter, but must be derived from a superior source. The Theophilanthropists regarded Nature as the only reliable “book” on Theology. At their meetings they sang humanitarian hymns and read from the ethical teachings of the Bible and from Chinese, Hindu, and Greek authors. For a time the movement prospered, the members gathering in parish churches assigned to them by the Directory, but this privilege was withdrawn by Napoleon as a concession to Pius VII, and the Society lost its strength.
Paine knew that Christianity was not a new or unique religion, and declared that if Jesus had intended to found a new religion he would have written the system himself. He was willing to admit that Jesus might have been an actual character, although he had found no historical corroboration of the fact. When he compared the conflicting accounts of the genealogy of Jesus by Matthew and Luke, their discrepancies convinced him that this genealogy, instead of being a solemn truth, “is not even a reasonable lie.” If these two Apostles started the history of Jesus with a palpable falsehood, “what authority is there for believing the strange things they tell us afterwards?” As for the four Gospels, he was convinced that they were not written by the persons to whom they are ascribed, as not even the names of their authors were known at the time the New Testament was assembled.
Thomas Paine was also a deep student of astronomy. When he considered the immensity of space and the vast number of worlds and solar systems encompassed therein, he failed to understand how “the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependent upon His protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten one apple.” Although he was unable to accept the Jewish or Christian concept of God, he still called himself a Deist. But the God he worshipped was the “First Cause eternally existing, of a nature totally different to any material existence we know of, and by the power of which all things exist.” As Space is beginningless and endless, could God be less than Space? As Time is beginningless and endless, could God be less than Time? The Christian faith, in which God is presented as a limited Being, seemed to him to be a “species of Atheism — a sort of religious denial of God.”
Thomas Paine believed that this Universe is governed by immutable Law. A miracle, therefore, was inconceivable. “Unless we know the whole extent of nature’s laws,” he argued, “we are not able to judge whether anything that may appear miraculous to us be within, or contrary to her natural power of acting.” Hence the “miraculous birth” of Jesus appeared to him as an “obscene humbug,” and he decried the sort of faith built upon such a premise.
Thomas Paine’s own faith was centered in the belief of a First Cause eternally existing and of a Universe governed by Law, while his religion was summarized in his famous sentence: My country is the world, and my religion is to do good. As his religion transcended the formal professions of any cult or sect, he refused to accept the creed of any Church. “My mind is my church,” he said, “and churches are but human inventions, set up to enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit.”
The expression of such thoughts as these caused Thomas Paine to be called an infidel. Christian writers have claimed that he died a drunkard, that on his death-bed he confessed his error in attacking religious dogma, but these lies have long since been disproved. A splendid vindication of Paine as a temperate man to the day of his death, and as one who maintained his philosophic convictions to the last, is to be found in the works of Robert G. Ingersoll. Paine maintained that infidelity “does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving.” It consists in professing to believe what one does not actually believe. Paine showed from history the record of the Christian Church and boldly asserted that “however unwilling the partisans of the Christian system may be to believe or acknowledge it, it is nevertheless true that the age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system. There was more knowledge in the world before that period than for many centuries afterward.”
Thomas Paine returned to America in 1802, and for the next seven years he lived in poverty and isolation. The great and fearless soul of Thomas Paine went to its own place on June 8, 1809, the year that Abraham Lincoln was born.
The founding of the American Republic, which obviously formed part of the work of the Theosophical Movement, was an attempt to prepare a place where thought might be free from dogmatic religious prejudice and bigotry. From the moment of its conception, the United States has had a leading role in the great drama of human evolution. Washington and Paine were the creators of this Republic, Abraham Lincoln its preserver. Americans of the present and coming generation will be either its regenerators or its destroyers.
The “moment of choice” for this country will, from all indications, end in 1975. Between now and then the American people must decide whether their country will go forward or backward. In her Five Messages to the American Theosophists H.P.B. told us that our Karma as a nation had brought Theosophy home to us. In the Fourth Message, written just before her death, she gave us the method by which this country might be saved.
Be Theosophists, work for Theosophy! Theosophy first and Theosophy last; for its practical realization alone can save the Western world from that selfish and unbrotherly feeling that now divides race from race, one nation from the other; and from that hatred of class and social considerations that are the curse and disgrace of so-called Christian peoples. Theosophy alone can save it from sinking entirely into that mere luxurious materialism in which it will decay and putrefy as civilizations have done. In your hands, brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century; and great as is the trust, so great also is the responsibility.
— THEOSOPHY, Vol. 27, No. 2, December, 1938