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The Western Esoteric TraditionsA Historical Introduction$

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320992

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320992.001.0001

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High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

(p.131) 7 High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century
The Western Esoteric Traditions

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines 18th-century Freemasonry and illuminism and its influence on the history of Western esotericism. After Rosicrucianism supplied the myth of a secret society cultivating hermetic sciences, Freemasonry provided a vehicle for the historical transmission of theosophical and alchemical traditions. The Illuminist societies were high-grade varieties of Freemasonry and they were overtly esoteric in their ideas and practices.

Keywords:   Western esotericism, Freemasonry, Illuminism, Rosicrucianism, theosophy, alchemy

If Rosicrucianism supplied the myth of a secret society cultivating hermetic sciences, Freemasonry would later provide a vehicle for the historical transmission of theosophical and alchemical traditions. Opinion is divided as to whether Freemasonry was originally esoteric in inspiration or only later became involved with esoteric themes. The traditional accounts of Freemasonry trace its roots to the “free-stone” masons who joined a medieval guild of skilled craftsmen who built and decorated the great cathedrals of Europe. As their employment was itinerant, unusual in settled medieval society, the guild offered a supportive network of “lodges” at building sites. Modern accounts qualify this idea of Freemasonry’s lineal descent from such “operative lodges” with the idea of nondenominational social clubs emerging in the early modern period. At some stage in the seventeenth century middle-class professionals and other tradesmen supposedly began joining existing “operative lodges” or founded new “speculative lodges” for the purposes of conviviality, philosophical discussion, and a special form of ritual activity based on the Bible and symbols from the masonic craft. Hence Freemasonry’s cryptic designation as the Craft.1 Some theories of Freemasonry’s development, which bear closely on our topic, seek the origins of Freemasonry in Hermetic traditions and Rosicrucianism, or in Scotland, or in the crusading order of the Knights Templar. These latter legends about medieval or Renaissance origins contain certain elements of supporting evidence, but their chief impulse lies in the construction (p.132) of myths about Freemasonry, which all date from the eighteenth century and reflect its esoteric alliances.

The traditional origin of speculative, nonoperative Freemasonry is typically dated to the founding in 1717 of the Grand Lodge at London by an amalgamation of four already existing lodges. James Anderson published the first Constitutions in 1723, outlining English Freemasonry’s history and its relationship with God and religion. This version supplied a largely legendary history of the builder’s craft from Adam in the Garden of Eden down to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England. As John Hamill has commented, his history was “an apologia constructed from legend, folklore and tradition” to give a relatively new institution an honorable descent.2 In his second 1738 edition, Anderson supplied a much more detailed history, implying an unbroken lineage of Freemasonry through early medieval English kings and other notable figures, to claim that Freemasonry was not so much a new organization but a revival of an ancient institution recently fallen into decay through the neglect of its Grand Master, Sir Christopher Wren. According to these accounts, Freemasonry was formalized in England, initially as a two-degree system, a third degree of Master being subsequently added. The three-degree system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason would in due course become the hallmark of Freemasonry governed by the United Grand Lodge of England. In this form, Freemasonry was not originally esoteric, but the subsequent diffusion of Freemasonry on the Continent and the elaboration of higher grades led to its widespread involvement with esotericism.

“Scottish” and Chivalric Freemasonry

The introduction of Freemasonry to France provides the first stage in an Anglo-Scottish dispute over its origins and the preconditions for the eventual elaboration of chivalric and high-grade masonry. Following the deposition of the Stuart dynasty in 1688, King James II and many Scottish peers and knights took refuge in France. In support of their claim upon the British throne, the pretender and his successors rallied Jacobite circles on the Continent, which became hotbeds of conspiracy and political intrigue. Freemasonry was formally established as an English import in France between 1725 and 1730. It grew rapidly, partly due to a fashionable interest in English institutions among the French educated classes. Although the Parisian Grand Lodge dominated French Masonry in the 1730s, more exotic forms of Masonry began to proliferate across the nation, with courtiers developing a Masonry different from the English and using such expressions as chevalier, chevalerie, and chapître.

(p.133) The recurrent theme of early French Freemasonry is that of a Jacobite connection. The claim that Freemasonry was brought to France by Scottish Jacobites gave rise to the idea that there was a senior tradition and affiliation opposed to the later introduction deriving from the London Grand Lodge.3 While the exiled Stuart court in Paris provided a pageant of lords and knights from an ancient northern kingdom, new fashions and tastes in the Counter-Enlightenment would foster a neomedieval, chivalric, and Christian association of Freemasonry in France and Germany. The key figure in this encouragement of “Scottish,” chivalric, and mystical Masonry (which actually originated in France), was Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686–1743). Born in Scotland, Ramsay attended Edinburgh University and worked in London, where he joined the Philadelphians, a sect of English devotees of Jacob Boehme’s theosophy. He subsequently moved to France, studying with François Fénelon (1651–1715), the French philosopher and archbishop of Cambrai, who defended the Jansenists and the Quietist mystic Madame Guyon. By 1720, Ramsay had himself become affiliated to the Jacobite cause and briefly tutored Charles Edward Stuart the Young Pretender.

On 26 December 1736, Ramsay gave a famous oration in which he related the heritage and internationalism of Freemasonry to that of the Crusades. Ramsay’s new legend suggested that the traditional Masonic access to ancient wisdom, partly biblical in origin but also reflecting Egyptian and Greek mysteries, was purified by transmission through Christian Crusaders. While alluding to the traditional ancestry of Masonry in Solomon’s Temple, he identified the Crusades as a time of Masonic revival in which Masonry formed a union with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. To complete his historical legend, Ramsay traced a supposed history of the lodges during the Middle Ages. Kings and princes founded lodges when they returned home from the Crusades, but all these lodges died out save those in England and Scotland. Here Ramsay explained the British provenance of Freemasonry but also suggested that it was coming home to France, a Catholic and Crusader kingdom. Because Anderson’s Constitutions had effectively de-Christianized the Craft in England, Ramsay’s restored form of Christian Freemasonry was highly attractive in France. Ramsay also encouraged the tradition of “Scottish” Masonry in France by asserting the greater antiquity of the Scottish lodges and the role of Scotsmen in Masonry after the Crusades. Ramsay’s influence was such that the accretion of a legendary Scottish origin became almost commonplace among Masonic innovations.4

While the original three craft degrees were identified as the operational legacy of the working stonemasons, Ramsay’s suggestion that there had been Mason-Knights led to the introduction in French Freemasonry of “higher” degrees. These grades were reckoned superior to the mundane craft degrees; they were assigned knightly titles involving references to Scotland, chivalry, and the (p.134) Crusades, and their holders were possessed of esoteric knowledge. This form of “Scottish” or Écossais Freemasonry spread rapidly through French chivalric lodges—called chapters, directories, lodges of perfection—with activity in Bordeaux, Arras, Toulouse, Lille, and Marseille by 1750.

High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

Figure 7.1. Chart reproduced by kind permission of Fra. Timothy Edwards, from “Proto Scottish Rite Freemasonry,” paper presented at 29th Convocation of Ontario College of Societas Rosicruciana in Canada, 19 September 2005.

It is easy to see how chivalric Masonry appealed to notions of hierarchy and social order, thereby reflecting the absolutist ancien régime. Although Free-masonry’s brotherhood of equals enabled commoners and nobles to mix on equal terms, the introduction of higher degrees enabled the partial restoration of class consciousness within the lodge. Nobles could retain their superior status in the lodge, and some commoners could fulfill their desire for noble status by paying for the privilege.

German Templar Freemasonry

As Scottish Freemasonry spread in France in the mid-eighteenth century, it also gained a foothold in Germany and Scandinavia, and it was in Germany (p.135) that Ramsay’s chivalric Freemasonry first assumed Templar form. Germany’s petty absolutist states and its concern with rank and hierarchy prompted a demand for a Masonic tradition compatible with conservative and neo- medieval tastes. The first rite to be practiced owed its origin to a French nobleman. Marquis Gabriel de Lernay, a French officer captured during the Seven Years’ War, established a military lodge in Berlin in 1758 with the help of two Germans: the Baron de Printzen, a Mason who was master of the Three Globes Lodge at Berlin, and Philipp Samuel Rosa, a disgraced former pastor. Their system, known as the Chapter of Clermont, consisted of four higher degrees: Scottish Master, Elect Master or Knight of the Eagle, Illustrious Knight or Templar, and Sublime Knight or Knight of God. Rosa provided a legendary history of the order, together with an account of its far-flung legations across Asia and Europe. This complicated history began with God’s alliance with his favorites after Adam, passed through the Order of Noachites, Nemrod, the brothers’ dispersal after Babel, the reign of Solomon, decadence under Herod and revival by Christ, and later support of Emperor Constantine for the order at Jerusalem. Leaving the holy city at the time of the Saracen conquest, the brothers returned with the Crusades, at which point the brethren under the leadership of Hugo de Payen became known as the Order of the Temple.5

However, the most successful form of Templar Freemasonry was the Order of Strict Observance, founded by Karl Gotthelf von Hund (1722–1776), who was the hereditary lord of Lipse in Upper Lusatia and a wealthy landowner in Electoral Saxony. After attending Leipzig University and traveling extensively on the Continent, Hund became chamberlain to the elector of Cologne, attending the election of Emperor Charles VII at Frankfurt, where he first became a Freemason. From December 1742 to September 1743, he stayed in Paris, where he frequented Masonic lodges. Hund later spoke of an initiation into Jacobite Masonry at Paris in 1742 by an “Unknown Superior” whom he believed to be the Young Pretender. Six years after his return home, Hund established in 1749 the Lodge of Three Columns on his estate at Unwuerde in association with the brothers of the neighboring Lodge of Three Hammers at Naumburg. Together the two lodges formed an “Orient or Interior Order” based on the Templar-Jacobite legend.6

Between 1751 and 1755, Hund and his associates initially called their system “rectified masonry,” basing it on the original Order of the Temple. Their “Red Book” initially provided for six grades, while the revived institution called itself the VII Province, defined by Grand Master Sylvester von Grumbach in 1301 as those Templar territories on the Elbe and the Oder. The terminology, rituals and emblems of the symbolic grades were adapted to the Templar affiliation. Its history recapitulated the Templar heritage adding a survival myth. (p.136) When the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was executed on 11 March 1313, the succession was ensured by the flight of numerous Templars into northern countries, including Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and Scotland. Disguised as Masons, Pierre d’Aumont (the Provincial Master of Auvergne), Sylvester von Grumbach (Wildgraf von Salm), and seven knights escaped to Scotland together. The fugitive Templars adopted the name, costume, and customs of the Masons, and their secret history documented twenty-one successive grand masters up to the present.7

High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

Figure 7.2. Portrait of Karl Gotthelf Freiherr von Hund, in Lajos Abafi, Geschichte der Freimaurerei in Oesterreich-Ungarn, 5 vols. (Budapest, 1890–1899), vol. 1, 192.


Hund’s Rite of Strict Observance grew swiftly. By 1768, it counted some forty lodges. Firmly established in Silesia and Saxony, it was affiliated with lodges throughout northern Germany, especially in the large centers of Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, and Stettin. It had swarmed across the Rhineland and founded colonies in Copenhagen, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, and even in Hungary and Switzerland. The new Templars were attracted not only to the social exclusivity of noble Freemasonry but also to its promise of theosophical knowledge and alchemical secrets. The Strict Observance now faced a rival in the German pastor Johann Augustus Starck (1741–1816), who had been admitted to various Scottish degrees while in Paris. Claiming secret directors in St. Petersburg, Starck’s system claimed a lineal descent not from the Knights Templar but from the clerics of that order, the true custodians of its secrets and alchemical lore. The Strict Observance continued to spread, reaching France, England, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, and Russia. In terms of its hierarchy, princes and grandees were the directors of the Strict Observance; but in terms of its culture, Starck’s ideas had redirected the order toward the Hermetic and esoteric.8 Starck and his followers seceded at the Convent of Wolfenbüttel in 1777, and the Convent of Wilhelmsbad in 1782 witnessed the abandonment of the Templar heritage in favor of the Rectified Scottish Rite and the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte, representing the Martinist influences associated with Jean-Baptiste Willermoz of Lyon.

The Counter-Enlightenment: Theosophical Sects and Illuminist Societies

The prodigious growth of secret societies operating in Germany and in France belies the image of the eighteenth century as a time of dry rationalism and secularism, an Age of Reason dominated by the Aufklärung (Enlightenment). Historians who have observed the proliferation of Pietism, high-grade Freemasonry, and neo-Rosicrucianism in Germany in this period have in the main tended to see the latter two movements especially as “anti-Aufklärung,” constituting an obscurantist Counter-Enlightenment: nostalgic, traditionalist, even repressive. Isaiah Berlin was the first to coin the term “Counter-Enlightenment” to describe currents of thought perpetrated by such thinkers as Giambattista Vico, Johann Georg Hamann, and Johann Gottfried Herder that opposed the rationalist and liberal ideals of the Enlightenment.9

John Roberts has described the rise of the secret societies against the background of three well-known currents of eighteenth-century thought. The first was itself the Enlightenment, characterized by a rationalizing, secularizing (p.138) tendency and an advocacy of new modes of thinking and analysis above tradition and authority. The second was a new political trend, often known as “enlightened despotism,” in which an absolute state challenged custom, legal privileges, and ecclesiastical immunities on utilitarian and rational grounds of efficient administration and state power. These interventions were often opposed by conservative and popular forces, which found support in those forms of Masonry that emphasized ancient nobility or the transmission of wisdom. Roberts suggests that a third trend, the growth of irrationalism, was intimately linked to this reaction against practical reforming rationalism and the Enlightenment. This found expression in a revaluation of emotional, intuitive, and spiritual experience. Its expressions were widespread, ranging from the rediscovery of medieval forms (chivalry, ballads, Gothic architecture), the pre-Romantic interest in ancient folk poetry and customs, to a Gothic literature cultivating the sublime, terror, and the supernatural. There were also continuities involving the Hermetic tradition, the spread of Jacob Boehme’s theosophy, pietism, alchemy, and Rosicrucianism. Alongside the Enlightenment, there flourished an extensive counterculture of sects and secret societies devoted to these interests.10

These societies were overtly esoteric in their ideas and practices and developed a symbiotic relationship with Masonic lodges, whose members were themselves steeped in myths of legendary origin and Hermetic lore. Once Continental Freemasonry absorbed these esoteric ideas, its higher grades typically reflected chivalric, theosophical, Rosicrucian, and alchemical themes. High-grade Freemasonry interacted directly with these sects and secret societies devoted to mysteries, theosophy, and esoteric traditions, creating a form of Masonic theosophy. High-grade Freemasons, already impressed by initiations and secrets, were susceptible to “higher” secrets, while the sects themselves saw Freemasonry as a kindred subculture sharing similar inspiration, symbolism, and hierarchical orders. This interaction between high-grade Freemasonry and theosophical sects is well illustrated by the examples of Martinès de Pasqually, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, Count Alessandro Cagliostro, and Swedenborgian Freemasonry.

Martinès de Pasqually and the Elect Coëns

Interacting with high-grade Freemasonry in France was a variety of esoteric movements representing theosophy, magic, and mysticism. The current known as Martinism, originally begun by Martinès de Pasqually, continued by Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, and promoted in a high-grade Masonic context by (p.139) Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, provides an outstanding example of the growth of Masonic theosophy in the eighteenth century. Martinès de Pasqually (1709–1774) was a Spanish Jew who had converted to Roman Catholicism or been reared in a semi-Marrano Catholic family. His first experiment in high-grade Masonry was the Chapître des Juges Ecossais founded by him at Montpellier in 1754. In 1762, he settled in Bordeaux, setting up his own system, the Ordre des Chevaliers (p.140) Maçons Elus Coëns de l’Univers around 1766. Martinès de Pasqually claimed occult powers and created a rite with a sacramental nature. His chivalric order invited “men of aspiration” to participate in the practice of a divine religion and a theurgic rite, involving invocations (called “operations”) that sometimes resulted in a divine “manifestation” from the higher planes. This procedure was aimed at establishing communication with unseen intelligences by the practice of ceremonial magic. His doctrine was based on the idea that man and all animated (p.141) things can be restored to their pristine state before the Fall by means of codified practices.11

High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

Figure 7.3. Portrait of Martinès de Pasqually given in Dr. Bataille, Le Diable au XIXe siècle (Paris, 1896) and reproduced in A. E. Waite, The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry (London, 1911).

High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

Figure 7.4. Diagram of Elus Coëns ritual in René Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie occultiste au XVIIIe siècle & l’ordre des Élus Coens (Paris, 1928), p. 83.

Martinès de Pasqually elaborated his doctrine in his Traité sur la réintégration des êtres dans leur première propriété, vertu et puissance spirituelle divine (ca. 1771) as a highly complex form of Judeo-Christian theosophy and gnosis with a hint of Kabbalah based on the notion that the Eternal ceaselessly creates a hierarchy of spiritual beings into a “divine immensity” or “divine court.” This divine immensity was perfect, but a fall occurred with the prevarication of rebellious spirits, which strove to become first cause like the Eternal rather than secondary causes. This created a catastrophe, inasmuch as the Eternal ordered the loyal minor ternary spirits to create the temporal material universe as a place to imprison the prevaricating spirits. While the divine denary spirits remained in the “divine immensity,” other spirits were delegated to act and operate in the three divisions of the created universe, the supercelestial, celestial, and the terrestrial. This emancipation (as Martinès called it) into time and matter of the spirits led the Eternal to produce a new “minor quaternary spiritual,” namely man, an emanation directly from the Eternal and not a secondary material being. Man was then the object of a double emancipation into the supercelestial, and also into the celestial, where he was known as Adam or Réau. Left to his own free will, Adam also rebelled in imitation of the perverse spirits, whereupon he found himself the prisoner of the material world.12 Martinès de Pasqually’s gnosis aimed at the redemption of mankind from this separation from God. Its cult practiced a form of theurgy that was intended to activate man’s divine energies. The will is the only divine faculty that humans have retained in their fallen state, and this must be deployed to break their enslavement by the rebellious spirits in the “universal creation.”

The Order of the Elect Coëns was organized in ten degrees to achieve these spiritual goals. The first three degrees comprised the three regular Masonic degrees of Apprentice, Companion, and Master. These were profane degrees “outside the temple,” and only Master Masons could proceed to the higher Coën degrees, which were seven in number:

  1. A. a transitional degree, Elect Master or Perfect Elect Master

  2. B. the “porch” class, comprising Apprentice-Coën, Fellow-Coën, and Master-Coën

  3. C. the “temple” class, including Grand Master of the Temple, Knight of the East

  4. D. Réau-Croix13

Since the order was sacerdotal, receptions into the various degrees were “ordinations” rather than Masonic “initiations.” The spirits confer on the candidate the (p.142) reality of his ordination. Through them, the Coën is put in communion with one of the Chosen Ones of the Eternal, these being Adam, Abraham, Moses, Zorababel, or Jesus Christ, who presides over the particular circle in the “divine immensity” to which he is being admitted. This Chosen One is then linked through angelic mediation to the Coën in the ceremonial operations. This cooperation is the explanation of the so-called “passes” or “luminous glyphs,” which sometimes appeared to Coëns during the ceremonies. A collection of some 2,400 diagrams and as many Hebrew names of angels enabled the celebrant to identify the angels who are at work from the appearance of its corresponding glyph. Members of the order were expected to say regular prayers modeled on the offices of the monastic hours, adhere to dietary rules and fasts, and practice other forms of moral and mental asceticism.14

Louis Claude de Saint-Martin

Martinès organized his order at Bordeaux from 1767 to 1772. His members were largely drawn from the officers serving in the army regiments garrisoned in the city and about a dozen temples, numbering a hundred members, were established during its peak activity. Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (1743–1803) was born into a pious family of minor French nobility. After studying and briefly practicing law, he embarked on a military career. Saint-Martin was introduced to the Elect Coëns around September 1768 and rose quickly through its grades. From 1768 to 1771, he worked at Bordeaux as secretary to Martinès de Pasqually, acquiring detailed knowledge of the order’s practice. His duties brought him into contact with Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, the leader of the lodge of Elect Coëns at Lyon. In 1771, he resigned his army commission to devote himself to the study and spread of theosophy. Saint-Martin’s first book Des erreurs et de la vérité (1775) set out a theosophical system in which Martinès’ ideas are developed within a critique of secular Enlightenment reason. Here Saint-Martin rejects reductionistic and rationalist explanations of human institutions by arguing that the true cause of religion, social institutions, natural laws, and human nature is an active intelligent being. In his second book, Tableau naturel des rapports qui existent entre Dieu, l’homme, et l’univers (1782), Saint-Martin explains the physical world in relation to humans and God. As a result of the Fall, spiritual things assumed material forms. However, by reviving our will by aspiration (désir) and by virtue of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the regeneration of both man and nature to their original condition can be attained. Saint-Martin regarded himself as a “cleanser of the temple of truth,” opposing both Enlightenment rationalism and orthodox Christianity.

(p.143) Saint-Martin articulated a high-flown form of theosophy based on Martinès de Pasqually’s concept of reintegration. Extending Martinès’ notion of prevarication, Saint-Martin sees man as cut off from his divine and immortal patrimony in union with God by the thick veil of matter, which casts all nature as well as man into a state of somnambulism. Man is even imprisoned in a physical body. However, man knows that he is meant for higher things: “We are in darkness since we seek for the light, in delusion since we yearn for reality; but the fact that we desire both shows that we were made for both, and that in our present environment we are remote from the purpose of our being.”15 Like Martinès, Saint-Martin saw the origin of evil in the degeneration of the will. Will is more than a power to resist evil. It is no less than the true transcendent instrument: “Divine union is a work which can be accomplished only by the strong and constant resolution of those who desire it; that there is no other means to this end but the persevering use of a pure will.”16

Saint-Martin was a devout Christian, and his theology was correspondingly transcendental. Saint-Martin distinguishes the First Cause, the impenetrable Deity, from an Active and Intelligent Cause, which together with two inferior principles sustains the course of nature and the order of the universe. Saint-Martin identified the Active and Intelligent Cause with the Repairer, his term for Christ, who enables the restoration of man to his original state.17 This cause is also identical with the Word as understood by St. John. According to him, the Word once resided in man, but it was lost at the Fall. Hence the Divine Word had to intervene to sustain the universe, which is still in loss and sorrow. The recovery of the lost Word is man’s first duty towards himself and nature. The way of this recovery is in the union of man with the restoring and repairing Word that has replaced him.18

Saint-Martin’s mystical works, published pseudonymously under the name “le philosophe inconnu,” found a widespread response among the French educated classes, many of whom who distrusted the rationalist tenor of the Enlightenment. Saint-Martin became interested in Mesmerism, joining its lodgelike Society of Harmony in Paris in 1784.19 Mesmerism provided direct contact with the spiritual world, in which original man had once reigned and into which he needed to be reintegrated. He met William Law, the English theosopher on a trip to London in 1787, and resided from 1788 to 1791 at Strasbourg, where he met Baron Karl Göran Silfverhjelm, the nephew of Emanuel Swedenborg. It was also at Strasbourg that he encountered the works of Jacob Boehme through his friends Frédéric-Rodolphe Saltzmann, a Masonic theosopher, and Madame de Boecklin. Henceforth Saint-Martin regarded Boehme as a major inspiration; he learned German and translated Boehme into French (L’aurore naissante, 1800; Les Trois Principes de l’Essence Divine, 1802; De la Triple Vie de (p.144) l’Homme, 1809; Quarante Questions sur l’âme, 1807). Henceforth, Saint-Martin’s own works were clearly influenced by Boehme’s own ideas yet still very much his own, witness l’Homme de Désir (1790) and Le Ministère de l’homme-esprit (1802). In 1792, Saint-Martin began corresponding with the Swiss theosopher, Niklaus Anton Kirchberger von Liebisdorf. Their regular correspondence introduced Saint-Martin to the writings of many other theosophers, including Karl von Eckartshausen, Heinrich Jung-Stilling, Jane Leade, John Pordage, Thomas Bromley, and Johann Georg Gichtel.

Martinesism, Martinism, and Willermozism

Although Saint-Martin had rapidly progressed within Martinès de Pasqually’s Order of Elect Coëns, he gradually moved away from its theurgical practice to his inner mystical path. Such a development might have been predicted from the beginning; Saint-Martin had once asked Martinès de Pasqually, “Can all this be needed to find God?”20 His lack of interest in ceremonial magic, ritual, and grade initiations was a certain factor in his relationship with Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (1730–1824), a wealthy textile manufacturer of Lyon, who was admitted to the Order of the Elect Coëns personally by Martinès de Pasqually in 1767. Willermoz had been initiated into Freemasonry as early as 1750, and in 1760 he helped form the Grande Loge des Maîtres Réguliers de Lyon. Holding high office there, Willermoz became an avid collector and student of Masonic rites. In 1763, he founded a chapter of a chivalric rite, Chevaliers de l’Aigle Noir et Rose-Croix, whose presidency he entrusted to his brother. Shortly after his admission to the Elect Coëns, Willermoz was nominated the leader of its Lyon lodge, and he was admitted to the Réau-Croix in May 1768. His first contact with Saint-Martin dates from the period when the latter was Martinès’ secretary in Bordeaux. In 1771, Saint-Martin was living with Willermoz at Lyon, while writing his first book. In 1772, Willermoz’s curiosity led him to correspond with the Strasbourg lodge of the Strict Observance. The next year he joined this order, and the year after that he set up its Lyon lodge, La Bienfaisance and became chancellor of its new province, the directory of Auvergne. The introduction of Templar Freemasonry into France aroused a certain suspicion owing to its German origins, and this was compounded by Willermoz’s own imperial ambition to make the Rite of Strict Observance the dominant form of Freemasonry in France.

Willermoz continued to practice the theurgical rite of the Elect Coëns and furthermore sought to cast them in a Masonic form. At the national Convention of Lyon in 1778, Willermoz introduced the Régime Ecossais Rectifié (Rectified Scottish Rite), which combined Templar Freemasonry with the religious (p.145) ceremonial of the Elect Coëns. The Rectified Scottish Rite possessed a concentric structure of four circles. The first two were the “ostensible classes” of the rite: (1) the symbolic class or Masonic Order with its four degrees of Apprentice, Companion, Master, and Scottish Master; (2) the inner order, which was chivalric, with two higher degrees, Ecuyer Novice, and Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte; (3) a secret class, with its two higher degrees of “Profession” and “Grande Profession.” Only these three classes constitute the Rectified Scottish Rite proper. However, there was a fourth class, namely the Order of the Elect Coëns, veiled in mystery. Although the first three classes had no theurgical, Kabbalistic, or alchemical practices, they shared with the Elect Coëns the Martinesian doctrine of reintegration: the original pristine state of humanity, the Fall, and the reintegration into the primal state with the intercession of the Repairer (Christ). The Convention of Wilhelmsbad in 1782 not only confirmed this innovation but signaled the predominance of this theosophical, Martinesian Masonry over its older Templar forms for the following decade or more.21

Because the leading French occultist Papus (Gérard Encausse, 1865–1916) claimed to “refound” the Martinist Order in 1891, based on an alleged apostolic succession dating back from his colleagues Henri Delaage and Augustin Chaboseau to Saint-Martin himself, the idea arose that Saint-Martin had originally founded his own order in succession to the Order of the Elect Coëns. But there is no evidence that he founded a Martinist order himself, nor that he initiated persons into a cult. In contrast to Willermoz and his preference for collective activities, Masonic orders, and theurgic rituals, Saint-Martin generally inclined to an individual mystical path. He felt ambiguity about belonging to the Rectified Scottish Rite, and in July 1790 he resigned from its chivalric inner order and asked Willermoz for his name to be removed from all Masonic registers. The two remained friends, but their paths were clearly different. Willermoz possessed a genius for high-grade Freemasonry and theurgical operations—the active, extrovert aspect of French Illuminism—while Saint-Martin’s theosophy, as expressed in his numerous books, brought him wide renown and a dedicated following throughout Europe. In this sense, there were many Martinists in the Illuminist subculture of France, Germany and Russia, but no actual Martinist order until Papus’ own foundation (‘revival’) at the end of the nineteenth century.

As John Roberts has observed, Willermoz’s Masonic creation “embodies in a particularly explicit and avowed form that mysticizing, antimaterialist, anti-Enlightenment trend which runs through the so much of…eighteenth-century culture.”22 Ultimately, the French Revolution led to the disintegration of his rite; a residual form has reportedly survived within the ranks of the Scottish Rectified Rite of France and Switzerland.

(p.146) The Illuminés of Avignon

A further example of the complex interaction and mingling influences of high-grade Freemasonry and Illuminism is offered by Joseph-Antoine Pernéty (1716–1796), another theosopher and theurgist of the period. Pernéty discovered the subject of alchemy while a young Benedictine monk in France, and he later wrote two major works, Fables égyptiennes et grecques dévoilées et réduites au même principe and Dictionnaire mytho-hermétique (both 1758), in which he interpreted all mythological stories as coded descriptions of the Great Work, the preparation of the philosopher’s stone. The interpretation of classical myths as a code for alchemy was a Renaissance tradition begun by Michael Maier’s Arcana arcanissima (1614). Later, Pernety published a work on physiognomy and became enthusiastic about the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, which influenced him toward Illuminism. He translated from Latin into French Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell (1782) and Divine Love and Wisdom (1786).23

Appointed librarian to King Frederick the Great, Pernéty moved to Berlin in 1767, where he continued an interest in Freemasonry that had apparently originated much earlier in France. In 1779, Pernéty became one of the first members of an esoteric society at Berlin that was later described as the Illuminés of Avignon. This group included Prince Heinrich of Prussia, his librarian Guyton de Morveau (known as Brumore), who acted as a medium, Pernéty’s older brother, and the Polish Count Thaddeus Grabianka. They were interested in alchemy and its practice, and in the consultation of a mysterious Kabbalistic oracle called “la Sainte Parole” that directed the members to follow Swedenborg’s teachings.24 This oracle was in fact Johann Daniel Müller, a radical Pietist, Swedenborgian, alchemist, Kabbalist, and millenarian prophet who regarded himself as the “Elias Artista” first predicted by Paracelsus. Prompted by the invisible oracle, the Illuminés evolved from an informal group into an initiatic society. The group was organized in two classes superior to the symbolic Masonic degrees: Novices or Minors, and the Illuminés, at their head the Magus, also known as Pontiff or Patriarch. The group performed consecrations over nine consecutive days on a hill near Berlin, where each candidate had to prepare an “altar of power” made of turf in the center of a circle of stones. In 1780, the oracle began to advise the group to leave Berlin to establish elsewhere the foundations of a new Sion.

In October 1784, the oracle told the group that it should move to Avignon, at that time a territory of the papal states. Two members of the original group, Brumore and Grabianka, who had been pursuing alchemy in Poland, met at Avignon. Pernéty had left Berlin at the command of the oracle in 1783, and after (p.147) some wandering took up residence at a house he called Tabor not far from Avignon provided by a disciple, Marquis Vernety de Vaucroze. There Pernéty set up a temple, a laboratory, and a meeting room, where he received such leading Illuminists as Gombault, the Englishman William Bousie, and Baron de Staël-Holstein, the Swedish ambassador, and the Duchess of Württemberg, whose own regular guests at her chateau in Montbéliard included Saint-Martin and the Swiss founder of esoteric physiognomy Johann Kaspar Lavater. After Brumore’s death in 1786, the Illuminés split into several parties: Pernéty continued with a society of the same name, still pursuing the original ritual and alchemical practices. Inspired by a new oracle, l’Homme-Roi (Ottavio Cappelli), discovered at Rome, Count Grabianka led his own group, the New Israel, based on his fourfold theology with a cruciform temple containing four altars for God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary; the group’s confidence was damaged by Cappelli’s arrest during the Inquisition and his recantation in 1790. A third group, the Filial Piety, was led by the Marquis of Montpezat. The Illuminés of Avignon finally dispersed when it was suppressed by law in 1793.25

Count Cagliostro and Egyptian Freemasonry

The colorful career of Count Cagliostro (1743–1795), the Italian adventurer and magus, is rich in acquaintance and incident; it also offers an outstanding example of the mystification of Freemasonry. Born in Palermo, Guiseppe Balsamo was a novice monk at a seminary, where he acquired an early interest in alchemy, the conjuring of spirits, and religious ritual. Following his expulsion from the seminary, he lived off his wits traveling to North Africa, the Levant, and around the Mediterranean. From 1765 to 1767 he was employed by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in Malta, and there he acquired a knowledge of medical alchemy. Adopting the title of count and name Alessandro Cagliostro, Balsamo traveled throughout Europe for more than a decade performing magical wonders of clairvoyance and prediction, achieving alchemical transmutations, and healing the poor. It was, however, his encounter with Freemasonry that gave a future theme and purpose to his career. While staying in London, Cagliostro was admitted as a Freemason of the Esperance Lodge, No. 289 in Gerrard Street, Soho, on 12 April 1776. This lodge was incorporated within the Rite of Strict Observance, and it offered sumptuous ceremonial, Templar legends, and the promise of the order’s revival combined with vengeance against the church establishment.26

High-Grade Freemasonry and Illuminism in the Eighteenth Century

Figure 7.5. Count Cagliostro. Courtesy of Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

As Iain McCalman has written, “Entry into the secret world of Strict Observance Freemasonry at last gave Cagliostro a framework for his remarkable (p.148) intelligence and ambition. Masonry became the crucible of his genius.”27 His experience with the theology, ritual, and organization of monastic Catholicism could find free expression in a secular church full of pageant, theater, and arcane symbolism. On leaving London in December 1777, Cagliostro and his wife proceeded to The Hague, to great acclaim in the Strict Observance Lodge of Perfect Equality. Over the next two years, Cagliostro promoted himself as the representative of the Great Cophta, an ancient Egyptian Unknown Superior at Strict Observance lodges in Nuremberg, Berlin, Leipzig, Danzig, and Königsberg. Thus recommended from lodge to lodge, he next traveled in February 1779 to Mitau, the capital of the Duchy of Courland on the Baltic coast, where he was welcomed with great expectation by the leading nobles. Count Johann von Medem and Landmarschall Otto von Medem, both high-ranking Masons, (p.149) had studied in Germany, where they came into contact with alchemical and mystical groups. They had since led Masonic lodges in Mitau and presently presided over a Strict Observance lodge. Here Cagliostro fascinated the leading families with his powers of clairvoyance, promises to detect hidden treasure, and séances. After brief adventures with limited success in St. Petersburg and Warsaw, Cagliostro made his way in September 1780 to Strasbourg, then a hotbed of high-grade Masonic lodges.

Here Cagliostro devoted himself to healing the sick with his cures and remedies, especially among the poor, from whom he took no payment. His reputation as a healer and alchemist spread fast, and Prince Cardinal Rohan lost no time in seeking his acquaintance. Soon Cagliostro and his wife were enjoying the use of the archbishop’s palace at Saverne. At this time, Cagliostro began to think of his own rite of Egyptian Freemasonry, for its first definite mention dates from September 1781. He may have taken the idea from one of two contemporary works that derived Freemasonry from the Egyptian mysteries. A second edition of the first work, Sethos by Abbé Terrasson, had appeared in 1767, while the second work, Crata Pepoa oder Einweihungen in der alten geheimen Gesellschaft der egyptischen Priester by the Masons von Koeppen and von Hymnen, had appeared in successive editions in 1777, 1778, and 1782.28 In 1783, Cagliostro left Strasbourg and traveled to Bordeaux, where he spent eleven months before going on to Lyon in October 1784. He soon sought, unsuccessfully, Willermoz’s help in establishing a lodge of his rite, but still he was able to found the mother lodge La Sagesse Triomphante of his rite of Egyptian Freemasonry at Lyon on 24 December of that year.

At the end of January 1785, Cagliostro went to Paris in response to the entreaties of Cardinal Rohan, who wanted to continue their collaboration. There Cagliostro swiftly established two lodges of his Rite of Egyptian Freemasonry, and they became the height of fashion. At his grand house, provided by Rohan, Cagliostro held court in a mysterious séance room with sumptuous Oriental décor. Statuettes of Isis, Anubis, and the ox Apis stood beside a stuffed ibis, an embalmed crocodile, the traditional symbol of the alchemist, hung from the ceiling, and the walls were covered with hieroglyphics. Lackeys dressed like Egyptian slaves as seen on the monuments of Thebes stood in attendance. The Great Cophta himself appeared in a robe of black silk embroidered with red hieroglyphics, his head covered with a gold cloth turban ornamented with jewels.

Egyptian Freemasonry admitted both men and women, although their lodges and rituals were different. Candidates could profess any religion, but they had to believe in the existence of a supreme being and the immortality of the soul. Male candidates should have already achieved the degree of Master (p.150) Mason in a symbolic craft lodge. The order thus comprised the three higher grades of (Egyptian) Apprentice, Companion, and Master, similar to symbolic Masonry, and it used much of the same symbolism, including the legends of King Solomon and Hiram, king of Tyre, supplemented by Egyptian symbolism and elements of alchemy, astrology, and magic. Despite the Egyptian staging and décor, Cagliostro’s ritual actually suggested Judeo-Christian theurgy; it included references to Jehovah and invocations to the seven angels Anaël, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Zobiachel, and Hanachiel. The ritual for the third degree of Egyptian Master taught that man was created in the image of God, and as long as he preserved his innocence, he commanded all living beings, angels and other intermediaries. Once man abused his power, God deprived him of this superiority, made him mortal, and denied him communication with spiritual beings. This gift was then placed in the custody of a few elect beings, including Enoch, Elias, Moses, David, Solomon, and the king of Tyre. The goal of man’s initiation into the Egyptian Rite was the restoration of his original purity and power by entering the world of the spirits. This degree has been described as virtually a séance of ceremonial magic in which a young boy (pupille) or girl (colombe) portraying the Dove of the Rite acted as a medium between the spiritual and physical worlds by scrying in a carafe of water. The rituals described three stages of restoration: spiritual, intellectual, and physical. Thrice restored, the initiate was capable of extraordinary acts of theurgy and healing.

The concept of the fall from grace of human beings, originally spiritual in nature, into the darkness of the material world, and the need for restoration certainly recalls the mystical doctrines of reintegration among the Elect Coëns and the Chevaliers Bienfaisants. It is possible that these notions were suggested to him already in 1781 by Barbier de Tinan, the prefect of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants at Strasbourg, and Baron de Lutzelbourg and Laurent Blessig, other knights of this rite at Strasbourg.29 Another theory suggests that Cagliostro had encountered Martinesian ideas much earlier. According to John Yarker, Cagliostro discovered a manuscript by George Cofton on the Egyptian origins of Freemasonry on a bookstall in Leicester Square following his enthusiastic initiation as a Freemason at London in 1776. Cofton was believed to be a former Irish Catholic priest influenced by the doctrines of Martinès de Pasqually.30

The theurgical and alchemical aspects of Cagliostro’s system are particularly evident in his prescription of two “quarantines” or magical retreats. The first of forty days involved rituals and prayers, leading to the theurgical evocation of the seven angels through talismans, seals, and pentagons. In the second retreat of forty days, directed toward physical rejuvenation and the attainment of immortality, the alchemical principle is foremost. Here the rituals prescribed (p.151) involved fasting, bloodletting, and the ingestion of certain white drops, successive grains of materia prima. At the second grain (thirty-third day), the retreatant loses his skin, hair, and teeth, but on taking the last grain on the thirty-sixth day, the hair, skin, and teeth grow back and the subject is restored to pristine health. These wonders may be considered among the most arcane secrets encountered within esoteric Freemasonry.

The Illuminist societies and many high-grade varieties of Freemasonry were overtly esoteric in their ideas and practices. In many cases, they drew on a common pool of membership and otherwise developed a symbiotic relationship with Masonic lodges, whose members were themselves steeped in myths of legendary origin and hermetic lore. We recall that French Freemasonry early distinguished itself from the secularizing, de-Christianizing, even democratic tendency of English Grand Lodge Freemasonry (witness James Anderson’s Constitutions) by stressing Christian, medieval, chivalric, and aristocratic forms. Once these higher grades and an implicit hierarchy were established, it was possible to associate higher grades with esoteric knowledge. The accretion of esoteric, Hermetic, theosophical, alchemical, and Rosicrucian notions is a complex process, having its roots in the survival of theosophy and pietism into the eighteenth century and their renewed assertion in the Counter-Enlightenment against the modernizing impact of rationalism and absolutist power. High-grade Freemasonry interacted directly with sects and secret societies devoted to mysteries, ancient traditions, and alchemy, creating a form of Masonic theosophy.

The Masonic career of Jean-Baptiste Willermoz illustrates how Freemasonry went “in search of its own meaning.”31 Disappointed with the banality and frivolity of his earlier Masonic affiliations, he remained convinced that Masonry veiled “rare and important truths,” and he tried to reform Freemasonry in such a way that its adepts would understand these higher meanings. Like Willermoz, many high-grade Freemasons, already impressed by initiations and occult lore, were susceptible to “higher” secrets, while the sects themselves saw Freemasonry as a kindred subculture sharing similar inspiration, symbolism, and hierarchical orders. By combining high grades with esoteric themes, Continental Freemasonry was able to serve as a powerful vehicle for the transmission and dissemination of the Western esoteric traditions throughout the eighteenth century.

Further Reading

Bibliography references:

Isaiah Berlin, “The Counter-Enlightenment,” in The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1997).

(p.152) Robert Darnton, Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968).

Robert Freke Gould, The Concise History of Freemasonry (1903, 1920; Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2007).

John Hamill, The History of English Freemasonry (Addlestone: Lewis Masonic, 1994).

Marc Haven, Le Maître Inconnu Cagliostro: Étude historique et critique sur la haute magie (1912; Paris: Dervy, 1995).

René Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie occultiste au XVIIIe siècle et l’Ordre des Élus Coens (1928; Paris: La Table d’Emeraude, 1987).

———, La Franc-Maçonnerie templière et occultiste aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, 3rd ed. (Milan: Arche, 2003).

Albert Gallatin Mackie, The History of Freemasonry: Its Legendary Origins (1898–1906; New York: Gramercy Books, 1996).

Edmond Mazet, “Freemasonry and Esotericism,” in Modern Esoteric Spirituality, edited by Antoine Faivre and Jacob Needleman (London: SCM Press, 1993), pp. 248–276.

Iain McCalman, The Last Alchemist: Count Cagliostro, Master of Magic in the Age of Reason (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).

Micheline Meillassoux-Le Cerf, Dom Pernety et les Illuminés d’Avignon (Milan: Arche, 1992).

Michelle Nahon, “Élus Coëns,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter Hanegraaff, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 1, pp. 332–334.

Papus, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin: Sa Vie—Sa Voie Théurgique—Ses Ouvrages—Son Œuvre—Ses Disciples suivi de la publication de 50 lettres inédites (1902; Paris: Demeter, 1988).

———, Martines de Pasqually: Sa Vie—Ses Pratiques Magiques—Son Œuvre—Ses Disciples suivis des Catéchismes des Élus Coens; Martinésisme, Willermosisme, Martinisme et Franc-Maçonnerie (1895, 1899; Paris: Télètes, 2005).

Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians: The Templars and Their Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).

Martinès de Pasqually, Traité sur la réintégration des êtres dans leur première propriété, vertu et puissance spirituelle divine, edited by Robert Amadou (1899; Le Tremblay: Diffusion rosicrucienne, 1995).

John Roberts, The Mythology of the Secret Societies (London: Secker & Warburg, 1972).

Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, Theosophic Correspondence 1792–1797, translated and with a preface by Edward Burton Penny (Exeter: William Roberts, 1863; repr. Pasadena, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1991).

Jan Snoek, “Dom Antoine-Joseph Pernety,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 940–942.

———, “Illuminés d’Avignon,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 597–600.

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century, 1590–1710 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

(p.153) W. R. H. Trowbridge, Cagliostro, 2nd ed. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1926).

Jean-François Var, “Martinès de Pasqually,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter Hanegraaff, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 930–936.

———, “Willermoz,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter Hanegraaff, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 1170–1174.

Arthur Edward Waite, Saint-Martin, the French Mystic and the Story of Modern Martinism (London: Rider, 1922).

———, The Unknown Philosopher: The Life of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin and the Substance of His Transcendental Doctrine, 3rd ed. (Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolf Steiner, 1970; 1st ed., 1901).

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(1) . A convenient summary of the major theories on the origins of Freemasonry is contained in Albert Gallatin Mackie, The History of Freemasonry: Its Legendary Origins (1898–1906; New York: Gramercy Books, 1996). A very convenient overview of Freemasonry, its history, traditions and usage, is Robert Freke Gould, The Concise History of Freemasonry, revised by Frederick J. W. Crowe (1903; Mineoloa, New York: Dover Publications, 2007).

(2) . John Hamill, The History of English Freemasonry (Addlestone: Lewis Masonic, 1994), p. 20.

(3) . John M. Roberts, The Mythology of the Secret Societies (London: Secker & Warburg, 1972), p. 32.

(4) . Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians: The Templars and Their Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 103–106.

(5) . René Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie templière et occultiste aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, 3rd ed. (Milan: Arche, 2003), pp. 87–91.

(6) . Ibid., pp. 107–111.

(7) . Ibid., pp. 113–117.

(8) . J. Roberts, Mythology of the Secret Societies, pp. 108–109.

(9) . Isaiah Berlin, “The Counter-Enlightenment,” in The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1997).

(10) . J. Roberts, Mythology of the Secret Societies, pp. 90–94.

(11) . Useful background for this section can be found in two entries of Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter Hanegraaff (Leiden: Brill, 2005): Jean-François Var, “Martinès de Pasqually,” Vol. 2, pp. 930–936; and Michelle Nahon, “Élus Coëns,” Vol. 1, pp. 332–334.

(12) . Martinès de Pasqually, Traité sur la réintégration des êtres dans leur première propriété, vertu et puissance spirituelle divine, edited by Robert Amadou (Le Tremblay: Diffusion rosicrucienne, 1995), pp. 175–190.

(13) . Var, “Martinès de Pasqually,” 934.

(14) . A full account of the Elect Coëns and their rituals is provided by René Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie occultiste au XVIIIe siècle et l’Ordre des Élus Coens (1928; Paris: La Table d’Emeraude, 1987).

(15) . Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, Des Erreurs et de la Vérité, Part I, pp. 38–40, cited in Arthur Edward Waite, The Unknown Philosopher: The Life of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (p.266) and the Substance of His Transcendental Doctrine, 3rd ed. (Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1970), p. 126.

(16) . Saint-Martin, Theosophic Correspondence 1792–1797, translated and with a preface by Edward Burton Penny (Exeter: William Roberts, 1863; repr. Pasadena, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1991), Letter 110 (19.06.1797), p. 306.

(17) . Ibid., Letter 19 (6.03.1793), p. 62.

(18) . Waite, Unknown Philosopher, p. 230.

(19) . Robert Darnton, Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968), pp. 68–69.

(20) . Saint-Martin, Theosophic Correspondence 1792–1797, Letter 4 (12.07.1792), p. 13.

(21) . Jean-François Var, “Willermoz,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter Hanegraaff (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 1170–1174; Alice Joly, Un mystique lyonnais et les secrets de la Franc-Maçonnerie, 1730–1824 (Mâcon: Prostat, 1938; repr. Paris: Demeter, 1986). Cf. Waite, Unknown Philosopher, pp. 67–70; and J. Roberts, Mythology of the Secret Societies, p. 115.

(22) . J. Roberts, Mythology of the Secret Societies, pp. 111f.

(23) . Jan Snoek, “Dom Antoine-Joseph Pernety,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 940–942.

(24) . A full account of the Illuminés of Avignon is provided by Micheline Meillassoux-Le Cerf, Dom Pernety et les Illuminés d’Avignon (Milan: Archè, 1992).

(25) . René Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie templière et occultiste, pp. 877–881; Jan Snoek, “Illuminés d’Avignon,” in Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Leiden: Brill, 2005), Vol. 2, pp. 597–600.

(26) . W. R. H. Trowbridge, Cagliostro, 2nd ed. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1926), p. 111.

(27) . Iain McCalman, The Last Alchemist: Count Cagliostro, Master of Magic in the Age of Reason (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), p. 40.

(28) . René Le Forestier, La Franc-Maçonnerie templière et occultiste, pp. 768.

(29) . Ibid., pp. 768–769.

(30) . Ibid., p. 993; McCalman, Last Alchemist, p. 41.

(31) . Edmond Mazet, “Freemasonry and Esotericism,” in Modern Esoteric Spirituality, edited by Antoine Faivre and Jacob Needleman (London: SCM Press, 1993), p. 265.