Comte de Saint-Germain

(1690? - 1784?)

A mysterious figure whose dates of birth and death are in some dispute, with more esoteric students of history believing that he is somehow deathless. He may have been the son of Racoczi II, a ruler of Transylvania, which suggesting interesting speculations about his immortality. An acquaintance claimed to have met him in 1710 under a different name (as a Marquis) and said he seemed to be in his 40s, which would set his birth around 1670, and would mean that he was 114 years old at his putative death.

Saint-Germain became known in the 1750s as an associate of Louis XV and his mistress who spent soirees with the Comte engaged in esoteric, artistic and political conversation. He was also known as an alchemist and lapidary expert -- supposedly able to increase the size of gems and possessed of the age-old, much-ballyhooed secret of transmuting base metals into gold. All this makes him seem to us to be something of a confidence-trickster and master of illusion, which, to be frank, has always been a large part of "magic" in the public eye, and a part practiced expertly by every successful magus we know of -- including Edward Kelly, Cagliostro, Mathers, and of course Aleister Crowley.

Saint-Germain's closeness to the King naturally bought him the envy of other courtiers and ministers who ceaselessly plotted against him, and eventually he had to flee to England until the heat died down. It was in England that he may have met a kindred spirit, Cagliostro, or the latter may have met him. He was not to return to France for over a decade. From England, our Count went off to Russia and may have been involved in a conspiracy to place Catherine the Great on the throne.

He returned to France in 1774 to attempt to get into the good graces of the yet-un-decapitated Louis XVI and his cake-loving mistress Marie Antoinette. He associated with the usual esoteric suspects and perhaps became engaged in revolutionary activity with them, or else spied on them on behalf of the King, or (most likely) played both sides of the game board, cashing in each way, not unlike Aleister Crowley during World War One.

Saint-Germain eventually gained a reputation as an Adept based upon his innate knowledge and years of study and travel; thus he became known as a Rosicrucian in spirit if not in name, and readily associated with the Freemasons of Paris and elsewhere. Though he was a contemporary of Adam Weishaupt, it is not known for sure whether or not he had any involvement with the Illuminati, though it is doubtful such a group could have escaped the Count's attention.

At the end of his life (?) Saint-Germain was living in Germany, again working at the court of a prince as a sort of in-house alchemist. It was here that he is believed to have died in 1784. Thus it is all the more unusual that he was reported present at a meeting of Parisian Freemasons in 1785, and reason is altogether strained to the breaking point to give any account to sightings of him in Vienna in 1821 (aged 130) and even later. Annie Besant claimed to have met him in 1896, perhaps in Vision, perhaps in some sort of eldritch, deathless flesh; and by this point, over two hundred years after his reputed birth, he was clearly a Master, either of the Ascended or some other variety. His shade continues to inspire esotericists and occultists of all stripes, including some in the precincts of the Golden Dawn.


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