Comte Saint-Germain

A Man Beyond His Time

Many average, reasonable men can conceive wisdom only under the boring form of a sermon and think of the sage only in the semblance of a clergyman. For such men prudery, hypocrisy, and the most abject enslavement to ritual habit and prejudice must be the everyday virtues. When therefore it happens that a genuine sage, by way of amusing himself, mystifies his contemporaries, follows a woman, or lightheartedly raises his glass, he is condemned eternally by the army of short-sighted people whose judgment forms posterity.

That is what happened in the case of the Comte de Saint-Germain. He had a love of jewels in an extreme form, and he ostentatiously showed off those he possessed. He kept a great quantity of them in a casket, which he carried about everywhere with him. The importance he attached to jewels was so great that in the pictures painted by him, which were in themselves remarkable, the figures were covered with jewels; and his colors were so vivid and strange that faces looked pale and insignificant by contrast. Jewels cast their reflection on him and threw a distorting light on the whole of his life.

His contemporaries did not forgive him this weakness. Nor did they forgive him for keeping for an entire century the physical appearance of a man of between forty and fifty years old. Apparently a man cannot be taken seriously if he does not conform strictly to the laws of nature, and he was called a charlatan because he possessed a secret which allowed him to prolong his life beyond known human limits.

A Man Who Never Dies

“A man who knows everything and who never dies,” said Voltaire of the Comte de Saint-Germain. He might have added that he was a man whose origin was unknown and who disappeared without leaving a trace. In vain his contemporaries tried to penetrate the mystery, and in vain the chiefs of police and the ministers of the various countries whose inhabitants he puzzled, flattered themselves that they had solved the riddle of his birth.

Louis XV must have known who he was, for he extended to him a friendship that aroused the jealousy of his court. He allotted him rooms in the Chateau of Chambord. He shut himself up with Saint-Germain and Madam de Pompadour for whole evenings; and the pleasure he derived from his conversation and the admiration he no doubt felt for the range of his knowledge cannot explain the consideration, almost the deference, he had for him. Madam du Housset says in her memoirs that the king spoke of Saint-Germain as a personage of illustrious birth. Count Charles of Hesse Cassel, with whom he lived during the last years in which history is able to follow his career, must also have possessed the secret of his birth. He worked at alchemy with him, and Saint-Germain treated him as an equal. It was to him that Saint-Germain entrusted his papers just before his supposed death in 1784. However, neither Louis XV nor the Count of Hesse Cassel ever revealed anything about the birth of Saint-Germain. The count even went so far as invariably to withhold the smallest detail bearing on the life of his mysterious friend. This is a very remarkable fact, since Saint-Germain was an extremely well known figure.

In those days, when the aristocracy immersed itself in the occult sciences, secret societies and magic, this man, who was said to possess the elixir of life and to be able to make gold at will, was the subject of interminable talk. An inner force that is irresistibly strong compels men to talk. It makes no difference whether a man is a king or a count; all alike are subject to this force, and increasingly subject to it in proportion as they spend their time with women. For Louis XV and the count to have held out against the curiosity of beloved mistresses we must presume in them either a strength of mind that they certainly did not possess or else some imperious motive which we cannot determine.

 

The Alchemist

By far the greatest obvious talents of the Comte de Saint-Germain were connected with his knowledge of alchemy. Yet if Saint-Germain he knew how to make gold, he was wise enough to say nothing about it. Nothing but the possession of this secret could perhaps account for the enormous wealth at his command, though he was not known to have money on deposit at any banker’s. What he does seem to have admitted, at least ambiguously, is that he could make a big diamond out of several small stones. The diamonds that he wore in his shoes and garters were believed to be worth more than 200,000 francs. He asserted also that he could increase the size of pearls at will, and some of the pearls in his possession certainly were of astonishing size.

If all that he said on this subject was mere bragging, it was expensive, for he supported it by magnificent gifts. Madam du Hausset tells us that one day when he was showing the queen some jewels in her presence, she commented on the beauty of a cross of white and green stones. Saint-Germain nonchalantly made her a present of it. Madam du Hausset refused, but the queen, thinking the stones were false, signed to her that she might accept. Madam du Hausset subsequently had the stones valued, and they turned out to be genuine and extremely valuable.

 

His Prophecies

It was about this period, the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI, that Saint-Germain returned to France and saw Marie Antoinette. The Comtesse d’Adhemar has left a detailed account of the interview. It was to her that he turned to obtain access to the queen. Since his flight to England, he had not reappeared in France, but the memory of him had become a legend, and Louis XV’s friendship for him was well known. It was easy, therefore, for the Comtesse d’Adhemar to arrange a meeting with Marie Antoinette, who immediately asked Saint-Germain if he was going to settle in Paris again. “A century will pass,” was his reply, “before I come here again.”

In the presence of the queen he spoke in a grave voice and foretold events that would take place fifteen years later. “The queen in her wisdom will weigh that which I am about to tell her in confidence. The Encyclopedist party desires power, which it will obtain only by the complete fall of the clergy. In order to bring about this result, it will upset the monarchy. The Encyclopedists, who are seeking a chief among the members of the royal family, have cast their eyes on the Duke de Chartres. The duke will become the instrument of men who will sacrifice him when he has ceased to be useful to them. He will come to the scaffold instead of to the throne. Not for long will the laws remain the protection of the good and the terror of the wicked. The wicked will seize power with bloodstained hands. They will do away with the Catholic religion, the nobility, and the magistracy.”

“So that only royalty will be left,” the queen interrupted impatiently.

“Not even royalty. There will be a bloodthirsty republic, whose scepter will be the executioner’s knife.”

It is quite plain from these words that Saint-Germain’s ideas were entirely different from those ascribed to him by the majority of historical authors of this period, nearly all of whom see in him an active instrument of the revolutionary movement. His terrible and amazing predictions filled Marie Antoinette with foreboding and agitation. Saint-Germain asked to see the King, in order to make even more serious revelations, but he asked to see him without his minister, Maurepas, being told of it.

“He is my enemy,” he said, “and I count him among those who will contribute to the ruin of the kingdom, not from malice but from incapacity.”

The king did not possess sufficient authority to have an interview with anybody without the presence of his minister. He informed Maurepas of the interview that Saint-Germain had had with the queen, and Maurepas thought it would be wisest to imprison in the Bastille a man who had so gloomy a vision of the future.

Out of courtesy to the Comtesse d’Adhemar, Maurepas visited her in order to acquaint her with this decision. She received him in her room.

“I know the scoundrel better than you do,” he said. “He will be exposed. Our police officials have a very keen scent. Only one thing surprises me. The years have not spared me, whereas the queen declares that the Comte de Saint-Germain looks like a man of forty.”

At this moment the attention of both of them was distracted by the sound of a door being shut. The comtesse uttered a cry. The expression on Maurepas’ face changed. Saint-Germain stood before them.

“The king has called on you to give him good counsel,” he said; “and in refusing to allow me to see him you think only of maintaining your authority. You are destroying the monarchy, for I have only a limited time to give to France, and when that time has passed I shall be seen again only after three generations. I shall not be to blame when anarchy with all its horrors devastates France. You will not see these calamities, but the fact that you paved the way for them will be enough to blacken your memory.”

Having uttered this in one breath, he walked to the door, shut it behind him and disappeared. All efforts to find him proved useless. The keen scent of Maurepas’ police officials was not keen enough, either during the days immediately following or later. They never discovered what had happened to the Comte de Saint-Germain.

As had been foretold to him, Maurepas did not see the calamities for which he had helped to pave the way. He died in 1781. In 1784 a rumor was current in Paris that the Comte de Saint-Germain had just died in the Duchy of Schleswig, at the castle of the Count Charles of Hesse Cassel. For biographers and historians this date seems likely to remain the official date of his death. From that day forward, the mystery in which the Comte de Saint-Germain was shrouded grew deeper than ever.

His “Death”

Secluded at Eckenforn in the count’s castle, Saint-Germain announced that he was tired of fife. He seemed careworn and melancholy. He said he felt feeble, but he refused to see a doctor and was tended only by women. No details exist of his death, or rather of his supposed death. No tombstone at Eckenforn bore his name. It was known that he had left all his papers and certain documents relating to Freemasonry to the Count of Hesse Cassel. The count for his part asserted that he had lost a very dear friend. But his attitude was highly equivocal. He refused to give any information about his friend or his last moments, and turned the conversation if anyone spoke of him. His whole behavior gives color to the supposition that he was the accomplice of a pretended death.

Although, on the evidence of reliable witnesses, he must have been at least a hundred years old in 1784, his death in that year cannot have been genuine. The official documents of Freemasonry say that in 1785 the French masons chose him as their representative at the great convention that took place in that year, with Mesmer, Saint-Martin, and Cagliostro present. In the following year Saint-Germain was received by the Empress of Russia. Finally, the Comtesse d’Adhemar reports at great length a conversation she had with him in 1789 in the Church of the Recollets, after the taking of the Bastille. His face looked no older than it had looked thirty years earlier. He said he had come from China and Japan. “There is nothing so strange out there,” he said, “as that which is happening here. But I can do nothing. My hands are tied by someone who is stronger than I. There are times when it is possible to draw back; others at which the decree must be carried out as soon as he has pronounced it.”

And he told her in broad outlines all the events, not excepting the death of the queen, that were to take place in the years that followed. “The French will play with titles and honors and ribbons like children. They will regard everything as a plaything, even the equipment of the Garde Nationale. There is today a deficit of some forty millions, which is the nominal cause of the Revolution. Well, under the dictatorship of philanthropists and orators the national debt will reach thousands of millions.”

“I have seen Saint-Germain again,” wrote Comtesse d’Adhemar in 1821, “each time to my amazement. I saw him when the queen was murdered, on the 18th of Brumaire, on the day following the death of the Duke d’Enghien, in January, 1815, and on the eve of the murder of the Duke de Berry.”

Mademoiselle de Genlis asserts that she met the Comte de Saint-Germain in 1821 during the negotiations for the Treaty of Vienna; and the Comte de Chalons, who was ambassador in Venice, said he spoke to him there soon afterwards in the Piazza di San Marco. There is other evidence, though less conclusive, of his survival. The Englishman Grosley said he saw him in 1798 in a revolutionary prison; and someone else wrote that he was one of the crowd surrounding the tribunal at which the Princess de Lamballe appeared before her execution.

It seems quite certain that the Comte de Saint-Germain did not die at the place and on the date that history has fixed. He continued an unknown career, of whose end we are ignorant and whose duration seems so long that one’s imagination hesitates to admit it.

Secret Societies

Many writers who have studied the French Revolution do not believe in the influence exerted by the Comte de Saint-Germain. It is true that he set up no landmarks for posterity, and even obliterated the traces he had made. He left no arrogant memorial of himself such as a book. He worked for humanity, not for himself. He was modest, the rarest quality in men of intelligence. His only foibles were the harm less affectation of appearing a great deal younger than his age and the pleasure he took in making a ring sparkle. But men are judged only by their own statements and by the merits they attribute to themselves. Only his age and his jewels attracted notice.

Yet the part he played in the spiritual sphere was considerable. He was the architect who drew the plans for a work that is as yet only on the stocks. But he was an architect betrayed by the workmen. He had dreamed of a high tower that should enable man to communicate with heaven, and the workmen preferred to build houses for eating and sleeping.

He influenced Freemasonry and the secret societies, though many modem masons have denied this and have even omitted to mention him as a great source of inspiration. In Vienna he took part in the foundation of the Society of Asiatic Brothers and of the Knights of Light, who studied alchemy; and it was he who gave Mesmer his fundamental ideas on personal magnetism and hypnotism. It is said that he initiated Cagliostro, who visited him on several occasions in Holstein to receive directions from him, though there is no direct evidence for this. The two men were to be far separated from one another by opposite currents and a different fate.

The Comtesse d’Adhemar quotes a letter she received from Saint-Germain in which he says, speaking of his journey to Paris in 1789, “I wished to see the work that that demon of hell, Cagliostro, has prepared.” It seems that Cagliostro took part in the preparation of the revolutionary movement, which Saint-Germain tried to check by developing mystical ideas among the most advanced men of the period. He had foreseen the chaos of the last years of the eighteenth century and hoped to give it a turn in the direction of peace by spreading among its future promoters a philosophy that might change them. But he reckoned without the slowness with which the soul of man develops and without the aversion that man brings to the task. And he left out of his calculations the powerful reactions of hatred.

All over the country secret societies sprang up. The new spirit manifested itself in the form of associations. Neither the nobility nor the clergy escaped what had become a fashion. There were even formed lodges for women, and the Princesse de Lamballe became grand mistress of one of them. In Germany there were the Illuminati and the Knights of Strict Observance, and Frederick II, when he came to the throne, founded the sect of the Architects of Africa. In France, the Order of the Templars was reconstituted, and Freemasonry, whose grand master was the Duke de Chartres, increased the number of its lodges in every town. Martinez de Pasqually taught his philosophy at Marseilles, Bordeaux and Toulouse; and Savalette de Lange, with mystics such as Court de Gebelin and Saint-Martin, founded the lodge of the Friends Assembled.

The initiates of these sects understood that they were the depositories of a heritage that they did not know, but whose boundless value they guessed; it was to be found somewhere, perhaps in traditions, perhaps in a book written by a master, perhaps in themselves. They spoke of this revealing word, this hidden treasure it was said to be in the hands of “unknown superiors of these sects, who would one day disclose the wealth which gives freedom and immortality.”

It was this immortality of the spirit that Saint-Germain tried to bring to a small group of chosen initiates. He believed that this minority, once it was developed itself, would, in its turn, help to develop another small number, and that a vast spiritual radiation would gradually descend, in beneficent waves, towards the more ignorant masses. It was a sage’s dream, which was never to be realized.

Legend of the Eternal Master

Napoleon III, puzzled and interested by what he had heard about the mysterious life of the Comte de Saint-Germain, instructed one of his librarians to search for and collect all that could be found about him in archives and documents of the latter part of the eighteenth century. This was done, and a great number of papers, forming an enormous dossier, was deposited in the library of the prefecture of police. Unfortunately, the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune supervened, and the part of the building in which the dossier was kept was burnt. Thus once again a synchronous accident upheld the ancient law that decrees that the life of the adept must always be surrounded with mystery.

What happened to the Comte de Saint-Germain after 1821, in which year there is evidence that he was still alive? An Englishman, Albert Vandam, in his memoirs, which he calls An Englishman in Paris, speaks of a certain person whom he knew towards the end of Louis Philippe’s reign and whose way of life bore a curious resemblance to that of the Comte de Saint-Germain. “He called himself Major Fraser, wrote Vandam, “lived alone and never alluded to his family. Moreover he was lavish with money, though the source of his fortune remained a mystery to everyone. He possessed a marvelous knowledge of all the countries in Europe at all periods. His memory was absolutely incredible and, curiously enough, he often gave his hearers to understand that he had acquired his learning elsewhere than from books. Many is the time he has told me, with a strange smile, that he was certain he had known Nero, had spoken with Dante, and so on.”

Like Saint-Germain, Major Fraser had the appearance of a man of between forty and fifty, of middle height and strongly built. The rumor was current that he was the illegitimate son of a Spanish prince. After having been, also like Saint-Germain, a cause of astonishment to Parisian society for a considerable time, he disappeared without leaving a trace. Was it the same Major Fraser who, in 1820, published an account of his journey in the Himalayas, in which he said he had reached Gangotri, the source of the most sacred branch of the Ganges River, and bathed in the source of the Jumna River?

It was at the end of the nineteenth century that the legend of Saint-Germain grew so inordinately. By reason of his knowledge, of the integrity of his life, of his wealth and of the mystery that surrounded him, he might reasonably have been taken for an heir of the first Rosicrucians, for a possessor of the Philosopher’s Stone. But the theosophists and a great many occultists regarded him as a master of the great White Lodge of the Himalayas. The legend of these masters is well known. According to it there live in inaccessible lamaseries in Tibet certain wise men who possess the ancient secrets of the lost civilization of Atlantis. Sometimes they send to their imperfect brothers, who are blinded by passions and ignorance, sublime messengers to teach and guide them. Krishna, the Buddha, and Jesus were the greatest of these. But there were many other more obscure messengers, of whom Saint-Germain has been considered to be one.

“This pupil of Hindu and Egyptian hierophants, this holder of the secret knowledge of the East,” theosophist Madam Blavatsky says of him, “was not appreciated for who he was. The stupid world has always treated in this way men who, like Saint-Germain, have returned to it after long years of seclusion devoted to study with their hands full of the treasure of esoteric wisdom and with the hope of making the world better, wiser and happier.” Between 1880 and 1900 it was admitted among all theosophists, who at that time had become very numerous, particularly in England and America, that the Comte de Saint-Germain was still alive, that he was still engaged in the spiritual development of the West, and that those who sincerely took part in this development had the possibility of meeting him.

The brotherhood of Khe-lan was famous throughout Tibet, and one of their most famous brothers was an Englishman who had arrived one day during the early part of the twentieth century from the West. He spoke every language, including the Tibetan, and knew every art and science, says the tradition. His sanctity and the phenomena produced by him caused him to be proclaimed a Shaberon Master after a residence of but a few years. His memory lives to the present day among the Tibetans, but his real name is a secret with the Shaberons alone. Might not this mysterious traveler be the Comte de Saint-Germain?

But even if he has never come back, even if he is no longer alive and we must relegate to legend the idea that the great Hermetic nobleman is still wandering about the world with his sparkling jewels, his senna tea, and his taste for princesses and queens even so it can be said that he has gained the immortality he sought. For a great number of imaginative and sincere men the Comte de Saint-Germain is more alive than he has ever been. There are men who, when they hear a step on the staircase, think it may perhaps be he, coming to give them advice, to bring them some unexpected philosophical idea. They do not jump up to open the door to their guest, for material barriers do not exist for him. There are men who, when they go to sleep, are pervaded by genuine happiness because they are certain that their spirit, when freed from the body, will be able to hold converse with the master in the luminous haze of the astral world.

The Comte de Saint-Germain is always present with us. There will always be, as there were in the eighteenth century, mysterious doctors, enigmatic travelers, bringers of occult secrets, to perpetuate him. Some will have bathed in the sources of the Ganges, and others will show a talisman found in the pyramids. But they are not necessary. They diminish the range of the mystery by giving it everyday, material form. The Comte de Saint-Germain is immortal, as he always dreamed of being.

Excerpted from the article by Reginald Merton

 

 

Jacob Bohmen

 

Jacob Bohmen, thought he could discover the secret of the transmutation of metals in the Bible, and who invented a strange heterogeneous doctrine of mingled alchemy and religion, and founded upon it the sect of the Aurea-crucians.

He was born at Gorlitz, in Upper Lusatia, in 1575; and followed, till his thirtieth year, the occupation of a shoemaker. In this obscurity he remained, with the character of a visionary and a man of unsettled mind, until the promulgation of the Rosicrucian philosophy in his part of Germany, toward the year 1607 or 1608.

From that time he began to neglect his leather, and buried his brain under the rubbish of metaphysics.

The works of Paracelsus fell into his hands; and these, with the reveries of the Rosicrucians, so completely engrossed his attention that be abandoned his trade altogether, sinking, at the same time, from a state of comparative independence into poverty and destitution.

But he was nothing daunted by the miseries and privations of the flesh; his mind was fixed upon the beings of another sphere, and in thought he was already the new apostle of the human race. In the year 1612, after a meditation of four years, he published his first work, entitled “Aurora; or, The Rising of the Sun;” embodying the ridiculous notions of Paracelsus, and worse confounding the confusion of that writer.

The philosopher’s stone might, he contended, be discovered by a diligent search of the Old and New Testaments, and more especially of the Apocalypse, which alone contained all the secrets of alchymy.

He contended that the Divine Grace operated by the same rules, and followed the same methods, that the Divine Providence observed in the natural world; and that the minds of men were purged from their vices and corruptions in the very same manner that metals were purified from their dross, namely, by fire.

Besides the sylphs, gnomes, undines, and salamanders, he acknowledged various ranks and orders of demons. He pretended to invisibility and absolute chastity. He also said that, if it pleased him, he could abstain for years from meat and drink, and all the necessities of the body.

It is needless, however, to pursue his follies any further. He was reprimanded for writing this work by the magistrates of Gorlitz, and commanded to leave the pen alone and stick to his wax, that his family might not become chargeable to the parish. He neglected this good advice, and continued his studies; burning minerals and purifying metals one day, and mystifying the Word of God on the next.

He afterwards wrote three other works, as sublimely ridiculous as the first.

The one was entitled Metallurgia, and has the slight merit of being the least obscure of his compositions. Another was called The Temporal Mirror of Eternity and the last his Theosophy Revealed, full of allegories and metaphors.

Many of them became, during the seventeenth century, as distinguished for absurdity as their master; amongst whom may be mentioned Gifftheil, Wendenhagen, John Jacob Zimmermann, and Abraham Frankenberg. Their heresy rendered them obnoxious to the Church of Rome; and many of them suffered long imprisonment and torture for their faith. One, named Kuhlmann, was burned alive at Moscow, in 1684, on a charge of sorcery.

Bohmen’s works were translated into English, and published, many years afterwards by an enthusiast, named William Law.

Bohmen died in 1624, leaving behind him a considerable number of admiring disciples.

Arnold of Villanova

Arnold of Villanova was born in the year 1240, and studied medicine with great success in the University of Paris.

He afterwards travelled for twenty years in Italy and Germany, where he made acquaintance with Pietro d’Apone; a man of a character akin to his own, and addicted to the same pursuits.

As a physician, he was thought, in his own lifetime, to be the most able the world had ever seen. Like all the learned men of that day, he dabbled in astrology and alchemy, and was thought to have made immense quantities of gold from lead and copper.

When Pietro d’Apone was arrested in Italy, and brought to trial as a sorcerer, a similar accusation was made against Arnold; but he managed to leave the country in time and escape the fate of his unfortunate friend. He lost some credit by predicting the end of the world, but afterwards regained it.

The time of his death is not exactly known; but it must have been prior to the year 1311, when Pope Clement V. wrote a circular letter to all the clergy of Europe who lived under his obedience, praying them to use their utmost efforts to discover the famous treatise by Villanova on The Practice of Medicine. The author had promised, during his lifetime, to make a present of the work to the Holy See, but died without fulfilling it.

In a very curious work by Monsieur Longeville Harcouet, entitled “The History of the Persons who have lived several centuries, and then grown young again,” there is a receipt, said to have been given by Arnold de Villeneuve, by means of which any one might prolong his life for a few hundred years or so.

In the first place, say Arnold and Monsieur Harcouet, “the person intending so to prolong his life must rub himself well, two or three times a week, with the juice or marrow of cassia (moelle de la casse).

Every night, upon going to bed, he must put upon his heart a plaster, composed of a certain quantity of Oriental saffron, red rose-leaves, sandal-wood, aloes, and amber, liquified in oil of roses and the best white wax.

In the morning, he must take it off, and enclose it carefully in a leaden box till the next night, when it must be again applied. If he be of a sanguine temperament, he shall take sixteen chickens — if phlegmatic, twenty-five — and if melancholy, thirty, which he shall put into a yard where the air and the water are pure.

Upon these he is to feed, eating one a day; but previously the chickens are to be fattened by a peculiar method, which will impregnate their flesh with the qualities that are to produce longevity in the eater.

Being deprived of all other nourishment till they are almost dying of hunger, they are to be fed upon broth made of serpents and vinegar, which broth is to be thickened with wheat and bran.”

Various ceremonies are to be performed in the cooking of this mess, which those may see in the book of M. Harcouet, who are at all interested in the matter; and the chickens are to be fed upon it for two months.

They are then fit for table, and are to be washed down with moderate quantities of good white wine or claret.

This regimen is to be followed regularly every seven years, and any one may live to be as old as Methuselah!

It is right to state, that M. Harcouet has but little authority for attributing this precious composition to Arnold of Villeneuve.

It is not to be found in the collected works of that philosopher; but was first brought to light by a M. Poirier, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, who asserted that he had discovered it in MS. in the undoubted writing of Arnold.

Basil Valentine

 

Records of the life of Basilius Valentinus, the Benedictine monk who for his achievements in the chemical sphere has been given the title of Father of Modern Chemistry, are a mass of conflicting evidence. Many and varied are the accounts of his life, and historians seem quite unable to agree as to his exact identity, or even as to the century in which he lived. It is generally believed, however, that 1394 was the year of his birth, and that he did actually join the Benedictine Brotherhood, eventually becoming Canon of the Priory of St. Peter at Erfurt, near Strasburg, although even these facts cannot be proved.

Whatever his identity, Basil Valentine was undoubtedly a great chemist, and the originator of many chemical preparations of the first importance. Amongst these are the preparation of spirit of salt, or hydrochloric acid from marine salt and oil of vitriol (sulphuric acid) the extraction of copper from its pyrites (sulphur) by transforming it firstly into copper sulphate, and then plunging a bar of iron in the watery dissolution of this product: the method of producing sulpho-ether by the distillation of a mixture of spirit of wine and oil of vitriol: the method of obtaining brandy by the distillation of wine and beer, rectifying the distillation on carbonate of potassium.

In his writings he has placed on record many valuable facts, and whether Basil Valentine is the correct name of the author or an assumed one matters little, since it detracts nothing from the value of his works, or the calibre of his practical experiments. From his writings one gathers that he was indeed a monk, and also the possessor of a mind and understanding superior to that of the average thinker of his day. The ultimate intent and aim of his studies was undoubtedly to prove that perfect health in the human body is attainable, and that the perfection of all metallic substance is also possible. He believed that the physician should regard his calling in the nature of a sacred trust, and was appalled by the ignorance of the medical faculty of the day whose members pursued their appointed way in smug complacency, showing little concern for the fate of their patients once they had prescribed their pet panacea.

On the subject of the perfection of metallic bodies, as in his reference to the Spagyric Art, the Grand Magi-strum, the Universal Medicine, the Tinctures to transmute metals and other mysteries of the alchemist’s art, he has completely mystified not only the lay reader, but the learned chemists of his own and later times. In all his works the important key to a laboratory process is apparently omitted. Actually, however, such a key is invariably to be found in some other part of the writings, probably in the midst of one of the mysterious theological discourses which he was wont to insert among his practical instructions, so that it is only by intensive study that the mystery can be unravelled.

His most famous work is his Currus Triumphalis AntimoniiThe Triumphal Chariot of Antimony.

It has been translated into German, French, and English, and has done more to establish his reputation as a chemist than any other. The best edition is undoubtedly that published at Amsterdam in 1671 with a commentary by Theodorus Kerckringius. In his preface Kerckringius states that he had actually spoken with Valentine besides studying his works. He speaks of Basil as ‘the prince of all chemists’, and the most learned, upright, and lucid of all alchemistic writers. He tells the careful student everything that can be known in alchemy; of this I can most positively assure you.’

A perusal of this book makes it quite evident that Valentine had investigated very thoroughly the properties of antimony, and the findings on his experimental work with this metal have.been brought forward as recent discoveries by chemists of our day.

His other works are The Twelve KeysThe Medicine of MetalsOf Things Natural and SupernaturalOf the First Tincture, Root and Spirit of Metals – and his Last Will and Testament.

It is alleged that this last work remained concealed for a number of years within the High Altar of the church belonging to the Priory. Such a story is quite feasible, since alchemists both before and after this era, deeming their works unfit for the age in which they were written, are known to have buried or otherwise secreted their writings for the discovery and benefit, as they doubtless hoped, of a more deserving and more enlightened age. Such manuscripts would very often not be discovered for several generations after the death of the author.

In view of his other outstanding achievements as a chemist of great ability, it seems not illogical to suppose that Valentine’s Universal Method of Medicine should be capable of achieving as great a measure of success as his other somewhat more prosaic discoveries.

*Image Info: “Visita Interiora Terra Rectificanto Inveniens Occultum Lapidem”
L’Azoth des Philosophes, Basil Valentine, Paris, 1659.

The Teutonic Order

 

Becasue of its mention in a previous post. Here is some background infomation on what the Teutonic Order is.

A medieval military order modelled on the Hospitallers of St. John, which changed its residence as often as the latter. These residences, marking as many stages in its development, are: (1) Accon (Acre), its cradle in Palestine (1190-1309); (2) Marienburg, Prussia, the centre of its temporal domination as a military principality (1309-1525); (3) Mergentheim in Franconia, which inherited its diminished possessions after the loss of Prussia (1524-1805); (4) finally, Vienna in Austria, where the order has gathered the remains of its revenues and survives as a purely hospital order. A Protestant branch likewise subsists in Holland.

(1) There was already a Teutonic hospital for pilgrims from Germany in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, with a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, who is still the patroness of the order and after whom the name Mariani is sometimes given to its members. But this establishment, which was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Master of St. John, was broken up at the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin (1187). During the Third Crusade German pilgrims from Bremen and Lübeck with the Duke of Holstein established a temporary hospital under the besieged walls of Acre; this was a large tent, constructed from the sails of their ships, in which the sick of their country were received (1190). After the capture of Acre this hospital was permanently established in the city with the co-operation of Frederick of Suabia, leader of the German crusade, and at the same time religious knights were attached to it for the defence of pilgrims. The Order of Teutonic Knights was founded and took its place beside the other two orders of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers and the Templars. As early as 1192 they were endowed by Celestine III with the same privileges as the Order of St. John, whose hospital rule they adopted, and as the Order of the Temple, from which they borrowed their military organization. Innocent III in 1205 granted them the use of the white habit with a black cross. The emperors of the House of Suabia heaped favours upon them. Moreover, they took sides with Frederick II even after he had broken with the papacy and in opposition to the other two military orders. During the Fourth Crusade, when the gates of Jerusalem were for the last time opened to Christians, under the command of this emperor, the Teutonic Knights were able to take possession of their first house, St. Mary of the Germans (1229). But it was not for long and before the end of the century they left Palestine, which had again fallen under the yoke of Islam (1291).

(2) A new career was already open to their warlike and religious zeal, in Eastern Europe, against the pagans of Prussia. This coast of the Baltic, difficult of access, had hitherto resisted the efforts of the missionaries, many of whom had there laid down their lives. To avenge these Christians a crusade had been preached; a military order founded with this object, the Sword-bearers (see MILITARY ORDERS, THE), had not been very successful, when a Polish duke, Conrad of Massovia, determined to ask the assistance of the Teutonic Knights, offering them in return the territory of Culm with whatever they could wrest from the infidels. Hermann of Salza, fourth Grand Master of the order, was authorized to make this change by Honorius III and the Emperor Frederick II, who, moreover, raised him to the rank of prince of the empire (1230). The knight Hermann Balk, appointed Provincial of Prussia, with twenty-eight of his brother knights and a whole army of crusaders from Germany began this struggle which lasted twenty-five years and was followed by colonization. Owing to the privileges assured to German colonists, new towns arose on all sides and eventually Germanized a country of which the natives belonged to the Letto-Slavic race. Thenceforth the history of this military principality is identified with that of Prussia. In 1309 the fifteenth Grand Master, Sigfried of Feuchtwangen, transferred his residence from Venice, where at that time the knights had their chief house, to the Castle of Marienburg, which they made a formidable fortress.

The number of knights never exceeded a thousand, but the whole country was organized in a military manner, and with the constant arrival of new crusaders the order was able to hold its own among its neighbours, especially the inhabitants of Lithuania, who were of the same race as the natives of Prussia and, like them, pagans. In the battle of Rudau (1307) the Lithuanians were driven back, and they were converted only some years later, with their grand duke, Jagellon, who embraced Christianity when he married the heiress of the Kingdom of Poland (1386). With this event, which put an end to paganism in that section of Europe, the Teutonic Knights lost their raison d’être. Thenceforth their history consists of incessant conflicts with the kings of Poland. Jagellon inflicted on them the defeat of Tannenberg (1410), which cost them 600 knights and ruined their finances, in order to repair which the order was obliged to have recourse to exactions, which aroused the native nobility and the towns and provided the Poles with an opportunity to interfere against the order. A fresh war cost the order half its territory and the remaining half was only held under the suzerainty of the King of Poland (Treaty of Thorn, 1466). The loss of Marienburg caused the transfer of the Grand Master’s residence to Königsberg, which is still the capital of Prussia properly so-called. To maintain itself against the kings of Poland the order had to rely on Germany and to confide the office of Grand Master to German princes. But the second of these, Albert of Brandenburg (1511), abused his position to secularize Prussia, at the same time embracing Lutheranism (1525). He made Prussia an hereditary fief of his house under the suzerainty of the Crown of Poland.

(3) Nevertheless, the dignitaries of the order in the remainder of Germany faithfully preserved its possessions, and having broken with the apostate chose a new Grand Master, Walter of Cronenberg, who fixed his residence at Mergentheim in Franconia (1526). After the loss of Prussia the order still retained in Germany twelve bailiwicks, which they lost one by one. The secession of Utrecht (1580) meant the loss of the bailiwick of that name in the Low Countries. Louis XIV secularized its possessions in France. The Treaty of Lunéville (1801) took away its possessions on the left bank of the Rhine and in 1809 Napoleon abandoned its possessions on the right bank to his allies of the Confederation of the Rhine. The Teutonics retained only the bailiwick in the Tyrol and that in the Austrian States.

(4) Thus the order became purely Austrian, under the supreme authority of the Emperor of Austria, who reserves the dignity of Grand Master for an archduke of his house. Since 1894 it has been held by Archduke Eugene. There are at present 20 professed knights who are bound to celibacy while they enjoy a benefice of the order, and 30 knights of honour who are not bound to this observance, but who must furnish an entrance fee of 1500 florins and an annual contribution of 100 florins. Moreover, their admission exacts a nobility of sixteen quarterings. The revenues of the order are now devoted to religious works; it has charge of 50 parishes, 17 schools, and 9 hospitals, for which object it supports 2 congregations of priests and 4 of sisters. Moreover, it performs ambulance service in time of war; it pays the cost of the ambulance, while lay Marians are engaged as ambulance bearers. Thus, after various vicissitudes the Teutonic Knights are restored to their original character of hospitallers. Besides this Catholic branch in Austria the order has a Protestant branch in the ancient bailiwick of Utrecht, the possessions of which have been preserved for the benefit of the nobility of the country. The members, who are chosen by the chapter of knights, must give proof of four quarterings of nobility and profess the Calvinistic religion, but are dispensed from celibacy. When Napoleon took possession of Holland in 1811 he suppressed the institution, but as early as 1815 the first King of the Low Countries, William I of Orange, re-established it, declaring himself its protector. The present order comprises 10 commanders, Jonkheeren, and aspirants (expectanten), who pay an entrance fee of 525 florins and have the right to wear in their buttonhole a small cross of the order.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Published 1912. New York

Adam Weishaupt

 

Adam Weishaupt was born in 1748 of Jewish parents but grew up in the Catholic faith. When his father, George Weishaupt, died in 1754, young Adam was turned over to be raised by the Jesuits by his godfather, Baron Ickstatt, who was curator of the university of Ingolstadt in Bavaria. He converted to protestantism when studying law at Ingolstadt. He had also studied classic religion and theology and the Eleusian and Mithrian mysteries, and also the works of Pythagoras. We don´t know much about his childhood or his early life, and even his name itself is somewhat of a mystery.

Adam means “the first man“, “Weis” means “to know” and “haupt” means “leader”, which makes Adam Weishaupts name mean “the first man to lead those who know”. He graduated from the Universty of Ingolstadt in 1768, and was made a tutor and catechist. In 1772 he was made a professor of Law. He was initiated as a Freemason in 1774 in either Hannover or Munich, but found that no one in his order truly understood the occult significance of the cermonies. He decided to found his own organisation, which he did on the first of May 1776. This organisation was first known as “The Order of Perfectibilists” but became famous as the “Ordo Illuminati Bavarensis“, or the Illuminati for short. Only five people were present at the first meeting of the order, but it grew rapidly and only a few years later it had chapterhouses all over Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Hungaria and Switzerland. Weishaupt and his co-conspirators, notably Baron Knigge and a lawyer named Zwack, had soon established a network of agents around Europe that infiltrated courts and other places of power and rapported back useful gossip and information to Weishaupt. The Illuminatis true goals were shrouded in mystery. Because of Weishaupt´s strong anti-clerical and anti-royalistic views, some have assumed that the Illuminati were some sort of proto-communistic organisation dedicated to bringing about a proletarian revoulution. Others have seen them as anarchists, or descendants of the Cathars, or the Knights Templar and the Assassains of Hassan En Sabbah, the “Old Man on the Mountain”, with whom the Knights Templar were rumored to be in contact with. Yet others have seen them as Satanic agents dedicated to nothing less than the domination of the planet and the bringing about of the Kingdom of Satan on Earth. It is true that Weishaupt´s plans certainly was hostile to the Church of Rome and the monarchies of Europe, and that he seemed to harbor what would today be called “socialistic” leanings, but Weishaupt wasn´t an atheist or agnostic. There is little doubt that Weishaupt was a deeply religious man in his own way. Weishaupt said in a speech held shortly before the French revolution;

“Salvation does not lie where strong thrones are defended by swords, where the smoke of censers ascend to heaven or where thousands of strong men pace the rich fields of harvest. The revolution which is about to break will be sterile if it is not complete.”

This statement has often been taken as to mean that Weishapt was in fact a sort of communist, and in a sense perhaps he was. One could think the above qoute a statement by Troytski. However, as the Illuminati´s true goals has always been disputed it is difficult to find out what exactly was the political, if such a dirty word may be used, or ideological raison d´etre of the order. Of course, the easiest way to be able to make an educated guess is to study the actions of the order, as we will here. In the year 1784 the Illuminati attempted a coup against the Hapsburgs, but the plot was revealed by police-spies that had infiltrated the order on orders from the king. This led to the total ban of all secret societies in Bavaria, and membership was punishable by death. This edict was signed in June 1784. Weishaupt was forced to flee to a neighboring province in February 1785 and in March another edict was passed, this one specifically outlawing the Illuminati. The Illluminati was forced to go underground in Bavaria and had to move its revolutionary efforts elsewhere. Disaster again struck for the order when in July 1785 lightning struck an Illuminati courier, a man named Lanz, and killed him and the horse he was riding. It is said that both Lanz and the horse was charred to coal, but the saddlebags were almost intact. In them was found extensive documents that outlined the Illuminati´s plans for world domination and revolution, and also named several high ranking Illuminati members, among them Zwack and Weishaupt. Zwack was arrested and his home raided in October 1786. Weishaupts activites after 1790 are disputed, several different versions of his life after 1790 exists. In Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea´s famous trilogy Illuminatus! , for instance, it is suggested that Weishaupt traveled to America and assumed the role of George Washington. Others claim that Weishaupt died in obscurity in 1830. I have chosen to continue to try and trace the alleged influence of the Illuminati in the following years as it is possible, however unlikely it may seem to those who take a conventional view of history, that Weishaupt was directing things from behind the scenes. The French revolution of 1789 has been widely attributed to the machinations of the Illuminati, and it´s role has been described as everything from “negligible” to “sole cause”. Both statements are an exaggeration, but it cannot be denied that several persons who were intensively involved in the revolution was active members, among others the Comte de Mirabeau, famous author, orator, Freemason and arch-enemy of the Marquis de Sade. Mirabeau is reported to have said in a speech at the international Freemanson convention in Wilhelmsbad in 1782 that he was a member of an organisation that was influenced by the Knights Templar, and that their goal was to destroy the Church and the monarchy so that the “Religion of Love” could be established in France. Of course, the Illuminati was not the only secret revolutionary conspiracy around. There were plenty of others in these turbulent years just before the revolution. For instance, the Marquis de Luchet, who were opposed to the Illuminati but supportive of the revolution, said in a speech;

“There exists a conspiracy in favour of depotism, against liberty, of incapacity against talent, of vice against virtue, of ignorance against enlightenment. This society aims to govern the world.”

These inner conflicts among those who supported the revolution was also seen in other secret societies in France during this period. By the year 1788 almost every lodge of Freemasons in Europe, as well as all courts, been infiltrated by the agents of the Illuminati. Despite this many of the established lodges in France remained loyal to the king, and only a few took part in the revolution. It is interesting to note that the very first time anyone saw revolutionaries wearing the Phryigan cap, supposed symbol of the Illuminati and the Phrygian mysteries, was at the forced interrruption of a theathrical performance of Le Suborneur by the Marquis de Sade on monday the 5th of March 1792. Oddly enough, no-one (except for a brief passage in Wilgus´ Illuminoids) has to my knowledge suggested that the infamous Marquis was a member of the Illuminati. Sometimes it seems that every famous person throughout history has been pointed out as a member. It is like Ambrose Bierce wrote about the Freemasons in his The Devil´s Dictionary;

“An order with secret rites, grotesque cermonies and fantastic costumes, which orginating in the regin of Charles II, among working artisans of London, has beeen joined sucessivly by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of Chaos and the Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucius, Tothmes and Buddha. Its emblems and symbols have been found in the Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the Egyptian Pyramids -always by a Freemason.”

The history of the Illuminati, or it´s supposed history as traced by various people, is much like Bierces´ satirical comment.
Ludvig XVI, the French king, wasn´t unaware of the revolutionary activities and general displeasure among the populance. In June 1789 he tried to introduce some social reforms that he hoped would calm the populance. The king´s greatest mistake was when he demanded that the monarchy would be preserved and that the nobles were to retain the right of veto in all future reforms. This led to minor rebellions that spread and finally culminated in the taking of the Bastille. Mirabeau said in a speech shortly thereafter;

“The idolatry of the monarchy has has recived a death blow from the sons and daughters of the Order of the Templars.”

This statement suggests that the Illuminati had ties to both the Cathars and the Knights Templar. Under the later period of the revolution the influence of the Illuminati becomes marked. The red Phrygian caps are used as symbol of the revolutionaries, the symbol of the Illuminati, the eye in the triangle, is present on many revolutionary documents printed in these days. Two years after Ludvig XVI failed escape attempt, on the 21st of January 1793, he was executed, and it is said that when the kings head fell an old man cried from the crowd; “De Molay, thou art avenged!” De Molay was the leader of the Knights Templar who was burned at the stake for witchcraft in March 1314 by the machinations of Philip the Fair and Pope Clement V. It should perhaps be mentioned that before his execution De Molay was held prisoner in the Bastille, the first “victim” of the Revolution. After the French revolution the Illuminati faced new difficulties, partly because of the confused political and social situation in France, and partly because the rest of the royal houses of Europe panicked when they realised what had happened in France and banned all secret societies. Persecutions of Freemasons and Rosecrucians began, and in 1792 an ex-grandmaster of a Knights Templar inspired organisation was lynched in Versailles by an angry mob. Suspicion of all secret societies was widespread, and increased when Robinson´s Proofs of a Conspiracy was released in 1798. This volume contained an outline of the orders supposed survival after it´s supression as the German Union, and how it had engineered the Revolution. The book caused widespread fear in Europe and New England, and was one of the main reasons for the ban against secret societies in most of Europe. After the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte the days of the Illuminati in France were numbered. Most of the existing Lodges of Freemasons and other secret societies were infiltrated by the agents of Napoleon, who made sure to remove all possible subversive organisations in order to consolidate his power. Most conventional historians will argue that the Illuminati, if it survived at all after the events of 1785-86, now was utterly crushed. Historians of the more unconventional kind have argued that the Illuminati continues to thrive and influence the world even today.

Johannes Trithemius

 

A famous scholar and Benedictine abbot, b. at Trittenheim on the Moselle, 1 February, 1462; d. at Würzburg, 13 December, 1516. The abbot himself, in his “Nepiachus”, gives an account of his youth, which was a time of hard suffering owing to the harsh treatment of his selfish stepfather, who allowed the talented boy to grow up in complete ignorance till the age of fifteen, when he learned reading and writing as well as the rudiments of Latin in a remarkably short time. But as his persecution at home did not cease, he ran away, and after a painful journey succeeded in reaching Würzburg, where the well-known humanist, Jacob Wimpheling, was teaching; here the ambitious youth pursued his classical studies till 1482. In order to revisit his home he determined to make an excursion to the neighbourhood of Trèves accompanied by a comrade; it was January and the young men travelled afoot. A short visit to the monastery of Sponheim was to prove of decisive importance for the young Trithemius; hardly had the travellers taken leave of the monks when a snowstorm obliged them to return to the monastery. At the invitation of the prior, Henry of Holzhausen, who had quickly discerned the talents of his young guest, Trithemius remained in Sponheim; eight days later he received the habit of the order and made his vows in the same year, 8 December. His life in the monastery was exemplary; he commanded the respect of his brethren, and the love of his superiors. The proof of the respect in which he was held by all was the fact that although he was the youngest member of the community, and had not yet been ordained, he was elected abbot at the age of twenty-two, during the second year of his life in the order. His election was a great blessing for Sponheim. With youthful vigour and a firm hand he undertook the direction of the much-neglected monastery. He first turned his attention to the material needs of his community, then set himself to the much more difficult task of restoring its discipline. Above all, his own example, not only in the conscientious observance of the rules of the order, but also in the tireless pursuit of scientific studies, brought about the happiest results.

In order to promote effectively scientific research, he procured a rich collection of books which comprised the most important works in all branches of human knowledge; in this way he built up the world-renowned library of Sponheim for the enriching of which he laboured unceasingly for twenty-three years till the collection numbered about 2000 volumes. This library, unique in those days, made Sponheim known throughout the entire world of learning. The attractive personality of the abbot also helped to spread the fame of the monastery. Among his friends he numbered, not only the most learned men of his time, such as Celtes, Reuchlin, and John of Dalberg, but also many princes — including the Emperor Maximilian, who held him in great esteem. But the farther his reputation extended in the world the greater became the number of malcontents in the monastery who opposed the abbot’s discipline. Finally he resigned as head of his beloved abbey, which he had ruled for twenty-three years, and which he had brought to a most flourishing condition; after his departure the monastery sank into its former insignificance. The Emperor Maximilian desired to bring the famous scholar to his Court, and to make him the historiographer of the Imperial House with a life-long pension; he was also promised rich abbeys. But Trithemius sought the quiet and peace of a more retired life, and this he found as abbot of the Scottish monastery of St. Jacob, at Würzburg (1506). Here he found only three monks, so he had ample opportunity to display the same activity he had shown at Sponheim. He spent the last ten years of his life in the production of many important writings. Only once did he leave his monastery (1508) for a short stay at the imperial Court. He died at fifty-five years of age and was buried in the Scottish church at Würzburg.

The Order of St. Benedict was indebted to this energetic abbot for his zealous promotion of the Bursfeld Congregation, for his encouragement of learning in the order, and for his earnest furtherance of monastic discipline. “The great abbot“, says one of his biographers, “was equally worthy of respect as a man, as a religious, and as a writer.” Of his more than eighty works only part have appeared in print. The greater number of these are ascetical writings which treat of the religious life and were published by John Busaeus, S.J., under the title “Joannis Trithemii opera pia et spiritualia” (Mainz, 1604); they are among the best works of devotional literature produced at the time. Marquard Freher published a part of his historical works as “Joannis Trithemii opera historica” (Frankfort, 1601). This collection, however, did not include the two famous folio volumes, published in 1690 under the title of “Annales Hirsaugiensis”. Trithemius also wrote interesting contributions on points of natural science, then much debated, and on classical literature. The question whether he, by citing two otherwise unknown authorities (Megiahard and Kunibald), was guilty of intentional forgery, is still under debate by some critics. Surely the inscription on his tomb testifies to the truth:

Hanc meruit statuam Germanae gloria gentis Abbas Trithemius, quem tegit ista domus (The Abbot Trithemius, the glory of the German race, whom this house covers, merited this statue).

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

Trithemius’ Work and Thought

The major works of Trithemius include Steganographia written circa 1499, Polygraphiae, a cryptographic work and De Septum Secundeis, a history of the World based on astrology, both of which were published in 1508.
 

Steganographia is primarily concerned with the sending of secret messages by angels, though it also touches on cryptography and a system of rapid learning. Trithemius sets forth a hierarchy of angels and spirits ruling over regions of the Earth as well as days and hours. Ultimately these angels are subject to the seven planetary angels, also set forth in De Septum Secundeis.
 

Trithemius instructs that one who wishes to send a secret message should determine the appropriate angel, write a cover message and conjure the spirit. The cover message is then sent by courier to the receiver who then also conjures the appropriate spirit and receives the secret message from the angel.
 

Trithemius is an excellent example of the Renaissance fusion of Christianity, Hermetic Philosophy and its attendant sciences of magic, astrology and alchemy and Cabbala. His magical system depends on the sympathy and harmony between the three worlds of the material, celestial and angelic/Ideal.
 

What is true of all of the Renaissance Magi, with the possible exception of Giordano Bruno, is their adherence to Christianity, albeit of a rather heterodox nature. This insistence on the consonance between magic and Christianity is particularly pronounced in Trithemius, a Benedictine Abbot. Trithemius says, “The word magic is the Persian term for what in Latin is called wisdom, on which account magicians are called wise men, just as were those three wise men who, according to the Gospel, journeyed from the East to adore, in his crib, the infant who was the Son of God in the flesh.” Nepiachus, cited in Braun, Trithemius and Magical Theology (SUNY 1999) page 115.
 

Trithemius’ work had considerable influence on later Renaissance writings on magic, particularly on Cornelius Agrippa. In his Three Books of Occult Philosophy Agrippa states that he conferred with Trithemius, “…of divers things concerning chemistry, magic and Cabalie, and of other things, which as yet lie hidden in secret sciences and arts…” Preface, (Tyson ed.) page liii.

Michael Scott the Wizard

 

Michael Scott or Scot was an important philosopher at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor, whose writings and translations were valued around Europe in the 13th century. His involvement in alchemy, astrology and astronomy gave him a reputation for being a “wizard” which entered the mythology of Scotland, particularly in the Border area. Sir Walter Scott enhanced his reputation when he wrote about him in his ballad “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”. Read on for more facts – and fiction.

Where Was Michael Born?

We have to admit that Michael may not have been born in Scotland, even though he became such a well known “character” here. There are suggestions that he was born in Durham in England, of Borders parentage. But others argue that he was from Fife. The Folk Museum at Ceres in Fife claims firmly that he was from Balwearie near Kirkcaldy. His date of birth is also unknown but as he arrived at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor around 1220, a qualified scholar, he must have been born in the late 12th century. It is not known for certain that his surname was in fact “Scott” or “Scot” as this may have been appended later as he travelled round Europe.

Education and Working Life

Michael Scott is believed to have studied at Oxford and Paris Universities. Graduates often went on cultural tours to other centres of learning (a kind of early PhD). After arriving in Toledo in Spain in the first decade of the 13th century he gained sufficient knowledge of Arabic to translate works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle from Arabic into Latin. The translation was passed to Oxford and other universities where it was new to them as they had been lost for centuries.

He then went to Sicily and became known in papal circles. He worked for both Honorious III and Gregory IX. One of them offered him a “non-resident church living” in Cashel in Ireland. Michael declined on the basis that he did not speak the local language!

His scholarly works eventually reached Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor who invited him to his court. While working for Frederick II he produced a “Guide for the Perplexed” which had been written in Arabic and translated into Hebrew which Michael (with the help of Jewish and Arabic scholars) then translated into Latin. Frederick was seeking a “detailed description of the universe” and posed a series of questions which Michael attempted to answer – sometimes with a bit of a smoke screen – “If it is asked where resides the god of Gods and Lord of the rulers of the universe of earth and heaven, we reply that, although He is everywhere potentially, yet He is substantially in the intellectual heaven”.

His Reputation

By this time Michael had a reputation not just for translations but also in astrology, alchemy and medicine. He was able to cure some of the Emperor’s illnesses and his theories of astrology were of great interest to Frederick II. Michael studied the subject for many years but, to his credit, was somewhat dubious about its reliability, saying that there were too many variables. But he did use astrology to successfully predict the outcome of the Lombard war.

On one occasion, the Emperor asked the Scot to measure the distance between the top of a church tower and Heaven – a task which was duly accomplished. The Emperor then secretly removed a few inches from the top of the tower and asked for another measurement. Michael obviously deduced what was going on and commented afterwards that either Heaven had drawn further away from the earth – or somehow the tower had grown smaller.

Michael had a reputation for being vain about his work and proudly proclaimed that he had witnessed the transformation of copper into silver. Although Michael Scott’s fame rests on his scholarly works and his invaluable translations which added to the store of knowledge in his day and later, his skills in astrology and alchemy later earned him the title “wizard”.

Where Did Michael Die?

According to Italian traditions, Michael died in Italy at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor (supposedly from being hit by a piece of masonry falling from a church). But there are also strong beliefs that he returned to Scotland for the last few years of his life, died in the Scottish Borders and was buried in Melrose Abbey (pictured here) – a story which Sir Walter Scott later embellished.

Sir Walter Scott’s Contribution

Michael Scott’s reputation as a “wizard” entered into the myths and legends of Europe and especially in the Scottish Borders. Writers such as Dante and James Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd) added to his fame by embellishing the few facts known about him and perpetuating the “wizard” element of his reputation. Never one to pass over a good local legend when he saw one, Sir Walter Scott also picked up on the stories and wrote extensively about him in the “Lay of the Last Minstrel”. It was Sir Walter who wrote that Michael “cleft the Eildon hills in three and bridled the river Tweed with a curb of stone”. The “Scott’s View” of the Eildon Hills is named after Sir Walter Scott rather than his wizard namesake. Sir Walter also describes in graphic detail in his poem that Michael Scott and his book of wizardry were buried “on a night of woe and dread” in Melrose Abbey – and who would dare argue?

Saint-Germain

 

Many average, reasonable men can conceive wisdom only under the boring form of a sermon and think of the sage only in the semblance of a clergyman. For such men prudery, hypocrisy, and the most abject enslavement to ritual habit and prejudice must be the everyday virtues. When therefore it happens that a genuine sage, by way of amusing himself, mystifies his contemporaries, follows a woman, or lightheartedly raises his glass, he is condemned eternally by the army of short-sighted people whose judgment forms posterity.

That is what happened in the case of the Comte de Saint-Germain. He had a love of jewels in an extreme form, and he ostentatiously showed off those he possessed. He kept a great quantity of them in a casket, which he carried about everywhere with him. The importance he attached to jewels was so great that in the pictures painted by him, which were in themselves remarkable, the figures were covered with jewels; and his colors were so vivid and strange that faces looked pale and insignificant by contrast. Jewels cast their reflection on him and threw a distorting light on the whole of his life.

His contemporaries did not forgive him this weakness. Nor did they forgive him for keeping for an entire century the physical appearance of a man of between forty and fifty years old. Apparently a man cannot be taken seriously if he does not conform strictly to the laws of nature, and he was called a charlatan because he possessed a secret which allowed him to prolong his life beyond known human limits.

His Lifestyle

Saint-Germain seems also to have been free personally from the solemnity in which men of religion and philosophers wrap themselves. He enjoyed and sought the company of the pretty women of his day. Though he never ate any food in public, he liked dining out because of the people he met and the conversation he heard. He was an aristocrat who lived with princes and even with kings almost on a footing of an equal. He gave recipes for removing wrinkles and dyeing hair. He had an immense stock of amusing stories with which he regaled society. It appears from the memoirs of Baron von Gleichen that when Saint-Germain was in Paris he became the lover of Mademoiselle Lambert, daughter of the Chevalier Lambert, who lived in the house in which he lodged. And it appears from Grosley’s memoirs that in Holland he became the lover of a woman as rich and mysterious as himself.

At first sight all this is incompatible with the high mission with which he was invested, with the part he played in the Hermetic societies of Germany and France. But the contradiction is perhaps only apparent. His outward appearance of a man of the world was necessary in the first place for the purposes of the secret diplomacy in which Louis XV often employed him. Moreover, we often have an erroneous conception of the activities of a master. The possession of an “opal of monstrous size, of a white sapphire as big as an egg, of the treasures of Aladdin’s lamp,” is a harmless pleasure if these treasures have been inherited or have been made through the help of miraculous knowledge. It is no great eccentricity in a man to pull down his cuffs in order to show the sparkle of the rubies in his links. And if Mademoiselle Lambert had the ideas of her time on the subject of gallantry, the Comte de Saint-Germain can hardly be reproached for lingering one night in her room in order to open in her presence the mysterious jewelcasket and invite her to choose one of those diamonds that were the admiration of Madam de Pompadour.

For pleasure in life drags a man down only when it is carried to excess. It may be that there exists a way by which a man may attain the highest spirituality and yet keep this pleasure. Moreover, on a certain plane, the chain of the senses no longer exists and kisses cease to burn; a man can no longer harm either himself or others by virtue of the power that the transformation has wrought in him.

A Man Who Never Dies

“A man who knows everything and who never dies,” said Voltaire of the Comte de Saint-Germain. He might have added that he was a man whose origin was unknown and who disappeared without leaving a trace. In vain his contemporaries tried to penetrate the mystery, and in vain the chiefs of police and the ministers of the various countries whose inhabitants he puzzled, flattered themselves that they had solved the riddle of his birth.

Louis XV must have known who he was, for he extended to him a friendship that aroused the jealousy of his court. He allotted him rooms in the Chateau of Chambord. He shut himself up with Saint-Germain and Madam de Pompadour for whole evenings; and the pleasure he derived from his conversation and the admiration he no doubt felt for the range of his knowledge cannot explain the consideration, almost the deference, he had for him. Madam du Housset says in her memoirs that the king spoke of Saint-Germain as a personage of illustrious birth. Count Charles of Hesse Cassel, with whom he lived during the last years in which history is able to follow his career, must also have possessed the secret of his birth. He worked at alchemy with him, and Saint-Germain treated him as an equal. It was to him that Saint-Germain entrusted his papers just before his supposed death in 1784. However, neither Louis XV nor the Count of Hesse Cassel ever revealed anything about the birth of Saint-Germain. The count even went so far as invariably to withhold the smallest detail bearing on the life of his mysterious friend. This is a very remarkable fact, since Saint-Germain was an extremely well known figure.

In those days, when the aristocracy immersed itself in the occult sciences, secret societies and magic, this man, who was said to possess the elixir of life and to be able to make gold at will, was the subject of interminable talk. An inner force that is irresistibly strong compels men to talk. It makes no difference whether a man is a king or a count; all alike are subject to this force, and increasingly subject to it in proportion as they spend their time with women. For Louis XV and the count to have held out against the curiosity of beloved mistresses we must presume in them either a strength of mind that they certainly did not possess or else some imperious motive which we cannot determine.

His Origins

The commonest hypothesis about his birth is that Saint-Germain was the natural son of the widow of Charles II of Spain and a certain Comte (Count) Adanero, whom she knew at Bayonne. This Spanish queen was Marie de Neubourg, whom Victor Hugo took as the heroine of his Ruy Blas. Those who disliked Saint-Germain said that he was the son of a Portuguese Jew named Aymar, while those who hated him said, in the effort to add to his discredit, that he was the son of an Alsatian Jew named Wolff. Fairly recently a new genealogy of Saint-Germain has been put forward, which seems the most probable of all. It is the work of the theosophists and Annie Besant, who has frequently made the statement that the Comte de Saint-Germain was one of the sons of Francis Racoczi II, Prince of Transylvania. The children of Francis Racoczi were brought up by the Emperor of Austria, but one of them was withdrawn from his guardianship. The story was put about that he was dead, but actually he was given into the charge of the last descendant of the Medici family, who brought him up in Italy. He took the name of Saint-Germain from the little town of San Germano, where he had spent some years during his childhood and where his father had estates. This would give an air of probability to the memories of southern lands and sunny palaces which Saint-Germain liked to call up as the setting of his childhood. And it would help to account for the consideration that Louis XV showed him. The impenetrable silence kept by him and by those to whom he entrusted his secret would in this event be due to fear of the Emperor of Austria and possible vengeance on his part. The belief that Saint-Germain and the descendant of the Racoczis are one and the same is firmly held by many people, who regard him as a genuine adept and even think he may still be living.

The Comte de Saint-Germain was a man “of middle height, strongly built, and dressed with superb simplicity.” He spoke with an entire lack of ceremony to the most highly placed personages and was fully conscious of his superiority. Said Gleichen of the first time he met Saint-Germain: “He threw down his hat and sword, sat down in an armchair near the fire and interrupted the conversation by saying to the man who was speaking: ‘You do not know what you are saying! I am the only person who is competent to speak on this subject, and I have exhausted it. It was the same with music, which I gave up when I found I had no more to learn.'”

Indeed, many people who heard him play the violin said of him that he equaled or even surpassed the greatest virtuosos of the period, and he seems to have justified his remark that he had reached the extreme limit possible in the art of music.

Saint-Germain was also an accomplished artist. One day he took Gleichen to his house and said to him: ” I am pleased with you, and you have earned my showing you a few paintings of mine.” “And he very effectively kept his word,” said Gleichen, “for the paintings he showed me all bore a stamp of singularity or perfection which made them more interesting than many works of art of the highest order.”

However, he seems not to have excelled as a poet. There survive of his an indifferent sonnet and a letter addressed to Marie Antoinette (quoted by the Comtesse d’Adhemar) that contains predictions in doggerel verse. At the request of Madam de Pompadour he also wrote a rather poor outline of a comedy.

The Alchemist

By far the greatest obvious talents of the Comte de Saint-Germain were connected with his knowledge of alchemy. Yet if Saint-Germain he knew how to make gold, he was wise enough to say nothing about it. Nothing but the possession of this secret could perhaps account for the enormous wealth at his command, though he was not known to have money on deposit at any banker’s. What he does seem to have admitted, at least ambiguously, is that he could make a big diamond out of several small stones. The diamonds that he wore in his shoes and garters were believed to be worth more than 200,000 francs. He asserted also that he could increase the size of pearls at will, and some of the pearls in his possession certainly were of astonishing size.

If all that he said on this subject was mere bragging, it was expensive, for he supported it by magnificent gifts. Madam du Hausset tells us that one day when he was showing the queen some jewels in her presence, she commented on the beauty of a cross of white and green stones. Saint-Germain nonchalantly made her a present of it. Madam du Hausset refused, but the queen, thinking the stones were false, signed to her that she might accept. Madam du Hausset subsequently had the stones valued, and they turned out to be genuine and extremely valuable.

His Amazing Youthfulness

But the feature in Saint-Germain’s personage that is hardest to believe is his astounding longevity. The musician Rameau and Madam de Gergy (with the latter of whom, according to the memoirs of Casanova, he was still dining about 1775) both assert that they met him at Venice in 1710, under the name of the Marquis de Montferrat. Both of them agree that he then had the appearance of a man of between forty and fifty years old. If their recollection is accurate this evidence destroys the hypotheses according to which Saint-Germain was the son of Marie de Neubourg or the son of Francis Racoczi II, for if he had been, he would not have been more than about twenty in 1710. Later, Madam de Gergy told Madam de Pompadour that she had received from Saint-Germain at Venice an elixir that enabled her to preserve, for a long time and without the smallest change, the appearance of a woman of twenty-five. A gift as precious as this could not be forgotten! It is also true, however, that Saint-Germain, when questioned by Madam de Pompadour on the subject of his meeting with Madam de Gergy fifty years earlier and of the marvelous elixir he was supposed to have given to her, replied with a smile: “It is not impossible; but I confess it is likely that this lady, for whom I have the greatest respect, is talking nonsense.

We can compare with this the offer he made to Mademoiselle de Genlis when she was a child: “When you are seventeen or eighteen will you be happy to remain at that age, at least for a great many years?’ She answered that she should indeed be charmed. “Very well,” he said very gravely; “I promise you that you shall.” And he at once spoke of something else.

The period of his great celebrity in Paris extended from 1750 to 1760. Everyone agreed then that, in appearance, he was a man of between forty and fifty. He disappeared for fifteen years, and when the Comtesse d’Adhemar saw him again in 1775, she declared that she found him younger than ever. And when she saw him again twelve years later he still looked the same. While he deliberately allowed his hearers to believe that his life had lasted inconceivably long, he never actually said so. He proceeded by veiled allusions.

“He diluted the strength of the marvelous in his stories,” said his friend Gleichen, “according to the receptivity of his hearer. When he was telling a fool some event of the time of Charles V, he informed him quite crudely that he had been present. But when he spoke to somebody less credulous, he contented himself with describing the smallest circumstances, the faces and gestures of the speakers, the room and the part of it they were in, with such vivacity and in such detail that his hearers received the impression that he had actually been present at the scene. ‘These fools of Parisians,’ he said to me one day, ‘believe that I am five hundred years old. I confirm them in this idea because I see that it gives them much pleasure — not that I am not infinitely older than I appear.'”

Tradition has related that he said he had known Jesus and been present at the Council of Nicea. But he did not go so far as this in his contempt for the men with whom he associated and in his derision of their credulity. This tradition originates from the fact that Lord Gower, who was a practical joker, gave imitations at his house of well-known men of his time. When he came to Saint-Germain, he imitated his manner and voice in an imaginary conversation that Saint-Germain was supposed to have had with the founder of Christianity, of whom Lord Gower made him say: “He was the best man imaginable, but romantic and thoughtless.”

About 1760, an English newspaper, the London Mercury, quite seriously published the following story: “The Comte de Saint-Germain presented a lady of his acquaintance, who was concerned at growing old, with a vial of his famous elixir of long life. The lady put the vial into a drawer. One of her servants, a middle-aged woman, thought the vial contained a harmless purge and drank the contents. When the lady summoned her servant next day, there appeared before her a young girl, almost a child. It was the effect of the elixir. A few drops more and I have no doubt the servant would have answered her mistress with infantile screams!”

“Has anyone ever seen me eat or drink?” said Saint-Germain, as he was passing through Vienna, to a Herr Graeffer who offered him some Tokay. Everyone who knew him agreed in saying that though he liked sitting down to table with a numerous company, he never touched the dishes. He was fond of offering his intimate friends the recipe of a purge made of senna pods. His principal food, which he prepared himself, was a mixture of oatmeal.

But is it really so surprising that the authors of memoirs depict Saint-Germain as retaining the same physical appearance during a whole century? Human life may have a duration infinitely longer than that ordinarily attributed to it. It is the activity of our nerves, the flame of our desire, the acid of our fears, which daily consume our organism. He who succeeds in raising himself above his emotions, in suppressing in himself anger and the fear of illness, is capable of overcoming the attrition of the years and attaining an age at least double that at which men now die of old age. If the face of a man who is not tormented by his emotions should retain its youth, it would be no miracle. Not long ago a London medical periodical reported the case of a woman who at seventy-four had preserved ” the features and expression of a girl of twenty, without a wrinkle or a white hair. She had become insane as the result of an unhappy love affair, and her insanity consisted in the perpetual reliving of her last separation from her lover.” From her conviction that she was young she had remained young. It may be that a subjective conception of time, and the suppression of impatience and expectation, enable a highly developed man to reduce to a minimum the normal wear and tear of the body. The Comte de Saint-Germain asserted also that he had the capacity of stopping the mechanism of the human clock during sleep. He thus almost entirely stopped the physical wastage that proceeds, without our knowing it, from breathing and the beating of the heart.

His Careers

Saint-Germain’s activity and the diversity of his occupations were very great. He was interested in the preparation of dyes and even started a factory in Germany for the manufacture of felt hats. But his principal role was that of a secret agent in international politics in the service of France. He became Louis XV’s confidential and intimate counselor and was entrusted by him with various secret missions. This drew on him the enmity of many important men, including, notably, that of the Duke de Choiseul, the minister for foreign affairs. It was this enmity which compelled him to leave hurriedly for England in order to escape imprisonment in the Bastille.

Louis XV did not agree with his minister’s policy with regard to Austria and tried to negotiate peace behind his back by using Holland as an intermediary. Saint-Germain was sent to The Hague to negotiate there with Prince Louis of Brunswick. Monsieur d’Affry, the French minister in Holland, was informed of this step, and complained bitterly to his minister for foreign affairs that France was carrying on negotiations that did not pass through his hands. The Duke de Choiseul seized his opportunity. He sent d’Affry orders demanding the extradition of Saint-Germain and have him arrested by the Dutch Government and sent to Paris. This decision was communicated to the king in the presence of his ministers in council, and Louis, not daring to admit his participation in the affair, blamed it all on his emissary. But Saint-Germain received warning just before his arrest. He had time to escape and take ship for England. The adventurer Casanova gives us some details of this escape; he happened to be in a hotel near that in which Saint-Germain was staying, and found himself mixed up in a complicated story of jewels, swindlers, duped fathers and girls madly in love with him — a story, in fact, that was typical of the ordinary course of Saint-Germain’s life.

According to Horace Walpole’s letters, Saint-Germain had been arrested in London some years previously on account of his mysterious life. He had been set free because there was nothing against him. Walpole, a true Englishman, came to the conclusion that “he was not a gentleman” because he used to say with a laugh that he was taken for a spy. He was not arrested a second time in England. Not long after this, he was found in Russia, where he was to play an important but hidden part in the revolution of 1762. Count Alexis Orloff met him some years later in Italy and said of him: “Here is a man who played an important part in our revolution.” Alexis’ brother, Gregory Orloff, handed over to Saint-Germain of his own free will 20,000 sequins, an uncommon action, seeing that Saint-Germain had not rendered him any particular service. At that time he wore the uniform of a Russian general and called himself Soltikov.

His Prophecies

It was about this period, the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI, that Saint-Germain returned to France and saw Marie Antoinette. The Comtesse d’Adhemar has left a detailed account of the interview. It was to her that he turned to obtain access to the queen. Since his flight to England, he had not reappeared in France, but the memory of him had become a legend, and Louis XV’s friendship for him was well known. It was easy, therefore, for the Comtesse d’Adhemar to arrange a meeting with Marie Antoinette, who immediately asked Saint-Germain if he was going to settle in Paris again. “A century will pass,” was his reply, “before I come here again.”

In the presence of the queen he spoke in a grave voice and foretold events that would take place fifteen years later. “The queen in her wisdom will weigh that which I am about to tell her in confidence. The Encyclopedist party desires power, which it will obtain only by the complete fall of the clergy. In order to bring about this result, it will upset the monarchy. The Encyclopedists, who are seeking a chief among the members of the royal family, have cast their eyes on the Duke de Chartres. The duke will become the instrument of men who will sacrifice him when he has ceased to be useful to them. He will come to the scaffold instead of to the throne. Not for long will the laws remain the protection of the good and the terror of the wicked. The wicked will seize power with bloodstained hands. They will do away with the Catholic religion, the nobility, and the magistracy.”

“So that only royalty will be left,” the queen interrupted impatiently.

“Not even royalty. There will be a bloodthirsty republic, whose scepter will be the executioner’s knife.”

It is quite plain from these words that Saint-Germain’s ideas were entirely different from those ascribed to him by the majority of historical authors of this period, nearly all of whom see in him an active instrument of the revolutionary movement. His terrible and amazing predictions filled Marie Antoinette with foreboding and agitation. Saint-Germain asked to see the King, in order to make even more serious revelations, but he asked to see him without his minister, Maurepas, being told of it.

“He is my enemy,” he said, “and I count him among those who will contribute to the ruin of the kingdom, not from malice but from incapacity.”

The king did not possess sufficient authority to have an interview with anybody without the presence of his minister. He informed Maurepas of the interview that Saint-Germain had had with the queen, and Maurepas thought it would be wisest to imprison in the Bastille a man who had so gloomy a vision of the future.

Out of courtesy to the Comtesse d’Adhemar, Maurepas visited her in order to acquaint her with this decision. She received him in her room.

“I know the scoundrel better than you do,” he said. “He will be exposed. Our police officials have a very keen scent. Only one thing surprises me. The years have not spared me, whereas the queen declares that the Comte de Saint-Germain looks like a man of forty.”

At this moment the attention of both of them was distracted by the sound of a door being shut. The comtesse uttered a cry. The expression on Maurepas’ face changed. Saint-Germain stood before them.

“The king has called on you to give him good counsel,” he said; “and in refusing to allow me to see him you think only of maintaining your authority. You are destroying the monarchy, for I have only a limited time to give to France, and when that time has passed I shall be seen again only after three generations. I shall not be to blame when anarchy with all its horrors devastates France. You will not see these calamities, but the fact that you paved the way for them will be enough to blacken your memory.”

Having uttered this in one breath, he walked to the door, shut it behind him and disappeared. All efforts to find him proved useless. The keen scent of Maurepas’ police officials was not keen enough, either during the days immediately following or later. They never discovered what had happened to the Comte de Saint-Germain.

As had been foretold to him, Maurepas did not see the calamities for which he had helped to pave the way. He died in 1781. In 1784 a rumor was current in Paris that the Comte de Saint-Germain had just died in the Duchy of Schleswig, at the castle of the Count Charles of Hesse Cassel. For biographers and historians this date seems likely to remain the official date of his death. From that day forward, the mystery in which the Comte de Saint-Germain was shrouded grew deeper than ever.

His “Death”

Secluded at Eckenforn in the count’s castle, Saint-Germain announced that he was tired of fife. He seemed careworn and melancholy. He said he felt feeble, but he refused to see a doctor and was tended only by women. No details exist of his death, or rather of his supposed death. No tombstone at Eckenforn bore his name. It was known that he had left all his papers and certain documents relating to Freemasonry to the Count of Hesse Cassel. The count for his part asserted that he had lost a very dear friend. But his attitude was highly equivocal. He refused to give any information about his friend or his last moments, and turned the conversation if anyone spoke of him. His whole behavior gives color to the supposition that he was the accomplice of a pretended death.

Although, on the evidence of reliable witnesses, he must have been at least a hundred years old in 1784, his death in that year cannot have been genuine. The official documents of Freemasonry say that in 1785 the French masons chose him as their representative at the great convention that took place in that year, with Mesmer, Saint-Martin, and Cagliostro present. In the following year Saint-Germain was received by the Empress of Russia. Finally, the Comtesse d’Adhemar reports at great length a conversation she had with him in 1789 in the Church of the Recollets, after the taking of the Bastille. His face looked no older than it had looked thirty years earlier. He said he had come from China and Japan. “There is nothing so strange out there,” he said, “as that which is happening here. But I can do nothing. My hands are tied by someone who is stronger than I. There are times when it is possible to draw back; others at which the decree must be carried out as soon as he has pronounced it.”

And he told her in broad outlines all the events, not excepting the death of the queen, that were to take place in the years that followed. “The French will play with titles and honors and ribbons like children. They will regard everything as a plaything, even the equipment of the Garde Nationale. There is today a deficit of some forty millions, which is the nominal cause of the Revolution. Well, under the dictatorship of philanthropists and orators the national debt will reach thousands of millions.”

“I have seen Saint-Germain again,” wrote Comtesse d’Adhemar in 1821, “each time to my amazement. I saw him when the queen was murdered, on the 18th of Brumaire, on the day following the death of the Duke d’Enghien, in January, 1815, and on the eve of the murder of the Duke de Berry.”

Mademoiselle de Genlis asserts that she met the Comte de Saint-Germain in 1821 during the negotiations for the Treaty of Vienna; and the Comte de Chalons, who was ambassador in Venice, said he spoke to him there soon afterwards in the Piazza di San Marco. There is other evidence, though less conclusive, of his survival. The Englishman Grosley said he saw him in 1798 in a revolutionary prison; and someone else wrote that he was one of the crowd surrounding the tribunal at which the Princess de Lamballe appeared before her execution.

It seems quite certain that the Comte de Saint-Germain did not die at the place and on the date that history has fixed. He continued an unknown career, of whose end we are ignorant and whose duration seems so long that one’s imagination hesitates to admit it.

Secret Societies

Many writers who have studied the French Revolution do not believe in the influence exerted by the Comte de Saint-Germain. It is true that he set up no landmarks for posterity, and even obliterated the traces he had made. He left no arrogant memorial of himself such as a book. He worked for humanity, not for himself. He was modest, the rarest quality in men of intelligence. His only foibles were the harm less affectation of appearing a great deal younger than his age and the pleasure he took in making a ring sparkle. But men are judged only by their own statements and by the merits they attribute to themselves. Only his age and his jewels attracted notice.

Yet the part he played in the spiritual sphere was considerable. He was the architect who drew the plans for a work that is as yet only on the stocks. But he was an architect betrayed by the workmen. He had dreamed of a high tower that should enable man to communicate with heaven, and the workmen preferred to build houses for eating and sleeping.

He influenced Freemasonry and the secret societies, though many modem masons have denied this and have even omitted to mention him as a great source of inspiration. In Vienna he took part in the foundation of the Society of Asiatic Brothers and of the Knights of Light, who studied alchemy; and it was he who gave Mesmer his fundamental ideas on personal magnetism and hypnotism. It is said that he initiated Cagliostro, who visited him on several occasions in Holstein to receive directions from him, though there is no direct evidence for this. The two men were to be far separated from one another by opposite currents and a different fate.

The Comtesse d’Adhemar quotes a letter she received from Saint-Germain in which he says, speaking of his journey to Paris in 1789, “I wished to see the work that that demon of hell, Cagliostro, has prepared.” It seems that Cagliostro took part in the preparation of the revolutionary movement, which Saint-Germain tried to check by developing mystical ideas among the most advanced men of the period. He had foreseen the chaos of the last years of the eighteenth century and hoped to give it a turn in the direction of peace by spreading among its future promoters a philosophy that might change them. But he reckoned without the slowness with which the soul of man develops and without the aversion that man brings to the task. And he left out of his calculations the powerful reactions of hatred.

All over the country secret societies sprang up. The new spirit manifested itself in the form of associations. Neither the nobility nor the clergy escaped what had become a fashion. There were even formed lodges for women, and the Princesse de Lamballe became grand mistress of one of them. In Germany there were the Illuminati and the Knights of Strict Observance, and Frederick II, when he came to the throne, founded the sect of the Architects of Africa. In France, the Order of the Templars was reconstituted, and Freemasonry, whose grand master was the Duke de Chartres, increased the number of its lodges in every town. Martinez de Pasqually taught his philosophy at Marseilles, Bordeaux and Toulouse; and Savalette de Lange, with mystics such as Court de Gebelin and Saint-Martin, founded the lodge of the Friends Assembled.

The initiates of these sects understood that they were the depositories of a heritage that they did not know, but whose boundless value they guessed; it was to be found somewhere, perhaps in traditions, perhaps in a book written by a master, perhaps in themselves. They spoke of this revealing word, this hidden treasure it was said to be in the hands of “unknown superiors of these sects, who would one day disclose the wealth which gives freedom and immortality.”

It was this immortality of the spirit that Saint-Germain tried to bring to a small group of chosen initiates. He believed that this minority, once it was developed itself, would, in its turn, help to develop another small number, and that a vast spiritual radiation would gradually descend, in beneficent waves, towards the more ignorant masses. It was a sage’s dream, which was never to be realized.

Saint-Germain’s Philosophy

With the co-operation of Savalette de Lange, who was the nominal head, he founded the group of Philalethes, or truth-lovers, which was recruited from the cream of the Friends Assembled. The Prince of Hesse, Condorcet, and Cagliostro were all members of this group. Saint-Germain expounded his philosophy at Ermenonville and in Paris, in the rue Platriere. It was a Platonic Christianity, which combined Swedenborg’s visions with Martinez de Pasqually’s theory of reintegration. There were to be found in it Plotinus’ emanations and the hierarchy of successive planes described by Hermeticists and modem theosophists. He taught that man has in him infinite possibilities and that, from the practical point of view, he must strive unceasingly to free himself of matter in order to enter into communication with the world of higher intelligences.

He was understood by some. In two great successive assemblies, at which every Masonic lodge in France was represented, the Philalethes attempted the reform of Freemasonry. If they had attained their aim, if they had succeeded in directing the great force of Freemasonry by the prestige of their philosophy, which was sublime and disinterested, it may be that the course of events would have been altered, that the old dream of a world guided by philosopher-initiates would have been realized.

But matters were to turn out differently. Old causes, created by accumulated injustices had paved the way for terrible effects. These effects were in their turn to create the causes of future evil. The chain of evil, linked firmly together by men’s egoism and hatred, was not to be broken. The light kindled by a few wise visionaries, a few faithful watchers over the well being of their brothers, was extinguished almost as soon as it was kindled.

Legend of the Eternal Master

Napoleon III, puzzled and interested by what he had heard about the mysterious life of the Comte de Saint-Germain, instructed one of his librarians to search for and collect all that could be found about him in archives and documents of the latter part of the eighteenth century. This was done, and a great number of papers, forming an enormous dossier, was deposited in the library of the prefecture of police. Unfortunately, the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune supervened, and the part of the building in which the dossier was kept was burnt. Thus once again a synchronous accident upheld the ancient law that decrees that the life of the adept must always be surrounded with mystery.

What happened to the Comte de Saint-Germain after 1821, in which year there is evidence that he was still alive? An Englishman, Albert Vandam, in his memoirs, which he calls An Englishman in Paris, speaks of a certain person whom he knew towards the end of Louis Philippe’s reign and whose way of life bore a curious resemblance to that of the Comte de Saint-Germain. “He called himself Major Fraser, wrote Vandam, “lived alone and never alluded to his family. Moreover he was lavish with money, though the source of his fortune remained a mystery to everyone. He possessed a marvelous knowledge of all the countries in Europe at all periods. His memory was absolutely incredible and, curiously enough, he often gave his hearers to understand that he had acquired his learning elsewhere than from books. Many is the time he has told me, with a strange smile, that he was certain he had known Nero, had spoken with Dante, and so on.”

Like Saint-Germain, Major Fraser had the appearance of a man of between forty and fifty, of middle height and strongly built. The rumor was current that he was the illegitimate son of a Spanish prince. After having been, also like Saint-Germain, a cause of astonishment to Parisian society for a considerable time, he disappeared without leaving a trace. Was it the same Major Fraser who, in 1820, published an account of his journey in the Himalayas, in which he said he had reached Gangotri, the source of the most sacred branch of the Ganges River, and bathed in the source of the Jumna River?

It was at the end of the nineteenth century that the legend of Saint-Germain grew so inordinately. By reason of his knowledge, of the integrity of his life, of his wealth and of the mystery that surrounded him, he might reasonably have been taken for an heir of the first Rosicrucians, for a possessor of the Philosopher’s Stone. But the theosophists and a great many occultists regarded him as a master of the great White Lodge of the Himalayas. The legend of these masters is well known. According to it there live in inaccessible lamaseries in Tibet certain wise men who possess the ancient secrets of the lost civilization of Atlantis. Sometimes they send to their imperfect brothers, who are blinded by passions and ignorance, sublime messengers to teach and guide them. Krishna, the Buddha, and Jesus were the greatest of these. But there were many other more obscure messengers, of whom Saint-Germain has been considered to be one.

“This pupil of Hindu and Egyptian hierophants, this holder of the secret knowledge of the East,” theosophist Madam Blavatsky says of him, “was not appreciated for who he was. The stupid world has always treated in this way men who, like Saint-Germain, have returned to it after long years of seclusion devoted to study with their hands full of the treasure of esoteric wisdom and with the hope of making the world better, wiser and happier.” Between 1880 and 1900 it was admitted among all theosophists, who at that time had become very numerous, particularly in England and America, that the Comte de Saint-Germain was still alive, that he was still engaged in the spiritual development of the West, and that those who sincerely took part in this development had the possibility of meeting him.

The brotherhood of Khe-lan was famous throughout Tibet, and one of their most famous brothers was an Englishman who had arrived one day during the early part of the twentieth century from the West. He spoke every language, including the Tibetan, and knew every art and science, says the tradition. His sanctity and the phenomena produced by him caused him to be proclaimed a Shaberon Master after a residence of but a few years. His memory lives to the present day among the Tibetans, but his real name is a secret with the Shaberons alone. Might not this mysterious traveler be the Comte de Saint-Germain?

But even if he has never come back, even if he is no longer alive and we must relegate to legend the idea that the great Hermetic nobleman is still wandering about the world with his sparkling jewels, his senna tea, and his taste for princesses and queens even so it can be said that he has gained the immortality he sought. For a great number of imaginative and sincere men the Comte de Saint-Germain is more alive than he has ever been. There are men who, when they hear a step on the staircase, think it may perhaps be he, coming to give them advice, to bring them some unexpected philosophical idea. They do not jump up to open the door to their guest, for material barriers do not exist for him. There are men who, when they go to sleep, are pervaded by genuine happiness because they are certain that their spirit, when freed from the body, will be able to hold converse with the master in the luminous haze of the astral world.

The Comte de Saint-Germain is always present with us. There will always be, as there were in the eighteenth century, mysterious doctors, enigmatic travelers, bringers of occult secrets, to perpetuate him. Some will have bathed in the sources of the Ganges, and others will show a talisman found in the pyramids. But they are not necessary. They diminish the range of the mystery by giving it everyday, material form. The Comte de Saint-Germain is immortal, as he always dreamed of being.

George Ripley

 

George Ripley [1415?-1490] was one of the most important of English alchemists. Little is known about him, but it is supposed that he was a Canon at the Priory of St Augustine at Bridlington in Yorkshire during the latter part of the 15th century, where he devoted himself to the study of the physical sciences and especially alchemy. To acquire fuller knowledge he travelled in France, Germany and Italy, and lived for some time in Rome, and there in 1477 was made a chamberlain by Pope Innocent VIII. In 1478 he returned to England in possession of the secret of transmutation. He pursued his alchemical work, and is reputed to have given vast sums to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at Rhodes to defend them from the Turks. But his labours becoming irksome to the abbot and other canons, he was released from the order, and joined the Carmelites at Boston, where he died in 1490.

His name is attached to as many as five and twenty different works, most of which remain in manuscript. Whether or not they are all by him may be doubted, and it has been asserted that what is called the ‘Vision‘ is not by him but is the work of an anonymous writer of the following century. Tanner has enumerated his books and manuscript with the libraries of Oxford and elsewhere, where they are preserved.
Ripley adopted an allegorical approach to alchemy, and his most important writings are his Compound of Alchemy in verse which describes the alchemical process as undergoing twelve stages or ‘Gates’, and his emblematic ‘Ripley Scrowle’.
The Compound of Alchymy, was one of the most popular on the subject. it circulated widely in manuscript. It was first printed at London :
The title has a woodcut border; there is an ornamental capital E containing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, to whom the book is dedicated, and there is an engraved diagram called Ripley’s Wheel. Ashmole reprinted it in the Theatrum Britannicum and added a note upon the author. He also printed several other pieces by Ripley: ‘Verses belonging to his Scrowle’, ‘The Mistery of Alchymists’, ‘the Preface to his Medulla, which he wrote Ann. Dom. 1476, and dedicated to Geo. Nevell then Archbishop of Yorke’, and another ‘Shorte Worke’. All of these, like the ‘Compound of Alchymy’, are in verse.