St. Germain's other book
THE RAREST OF
The mysterious Comte is known to have possessed at one time a copy of the Vatican manuscript of the Cabbala, a work of extraordinary profundity setting forth the doctrines of the Luciferians, Lucianiasts and the Gnostics. The second volume of The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky (pp. 582-83 of the original edition) contains two quotations from a manuscript "supposed to be by the Comte St.-Germain". The parts of the paragraphs attributed to the Hungarian adept are not clearly indicated, but as the entire text deals with the significance of numbers, it is reasonable to infer that
his commentaries are mystical interpretations of the numerals 4 and 5. Both paragraphs are in substance similar to the Puissance des nombres d’après Pythagore by Jean Marie Ragon. The Mahatma Koot Hoomi mentions a "ciphered MS." by St.-Germain which remained with his staunch friend and patron the benevolent Prince Charles of Hesse-Cassel (See Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett). Comparatively unimportant references to St.-Germain, and wild speculations concerning his origin and the purpose of his European activities, are available in abundance, but the most exhaustive search of the work of eighteenth century memoir writers for information regarding the Masonic and metaphysical doctrines which he promulgated has proved fruitless. So far as it has been possible to ascertain, the present translation and publication of La Très Sainte Trinosophie affords the first opportunity to possess a work setting forth . . . in the usual veiled and symbolic manner . . . the esoteric doctrines of St.-Germain, and his associates.
La Très Sainte Trinosophie is MS. No. 2400 in the French Library at Troyes. The work is of no great length, consisting of ninety-six leaves written upon one side only. The calligraphy is excellent. Although somewhat irregular in spelling and accenting, the French is scholarly and dramatic, and the text is embellished with numerous figures, well drawn and brilliantly colored. In addition to the full-page drawings there are small symbols at the beginning and end of each of the sections. Throughout the French text there are scattered letters, words, and phrases in several ancient languages . . There are also magical symbols, figures resembling Egyptian hieroglyphics, and a few words in characters resembling cuneiform. At the end of the manuscript are a number of leaves written in arbitrary ciphers, possibly the code used by St.-Germain’s secret society. The work was probably executed in the latter part of the eighteenth century, though most of the material belongs to a considerably earlier period.
As to the history of this remarkable manuscript, too little, unfortunately, is known. The illustrious Freemasonic martyr, the Comte Allesandro Cagliostro, carried this book amongst others with him on his ill-fated journey to Rome. After Cagliostro’s incarceration in the Castle San Leo, all trace of the manuscript was temporarily lost. Eventually Cagliostro’s literary effects came into the possession of a general in Napoleon’s army, and upon this officer’s death La Très Sainte Trinosophie was bought at a nominal price by the Bibliothèque de Troyes. In his Musée des Sorciers, Grillot de Givry adds somewhat to the meager notes concerning the manuscript. He states that the volume was bought at the sale of Messena’s effects; that in the front of the book is a note by a philosopher who signs himself
[paragraph continues] "I.B.C. Philotaume" who states that the manuscript belonged to him and is the sole existing copy of the famous Trinosophie of the Comte de St.-Germain, the original of which the Comte himself destroyed on one of his journeys.The note then adds that Cagliostro had owned the volume, but that the Inquisition had seized it in Rome when he was arrested at the end of 1789. (It should be remembered that Cagliostro and his wife had visited St.-Germain at a castle in Holstein.) De Givry sums up the contents of La Très Sainte Trinosophie as "Cabbalized alchemy" and describes St.-Germain as "one of the enigmatic personages of the eighteenth century . . . an alchemist and man of the world who passed through the drawing rooms of all Europe and ended by falling into the dungeons of the Inquisition at Rome, if the manuscript is to be believed".
The title of the manuscript, La Très Sainte Trinosophie, translated into English means "The Most Holy Trinisophia" or "The Most Holy Three-fold Wisdom". The title itself opens a considerable field of speculation. Is there any connection between La Très Sainte Trinosophie and the Masonic brotherhood of Les Trinosophists which was founded in 1805 by the distinguished Belgian Freemason and mystic Jean Marie Ragon, already referred to? The knowledge of occultism possessed by Ragon is mentioned in terms of the highest respect by H. P. Blavatsky who says of him that "for fifty years he studied the ancient mysteries wherever he could find accounts of them". Is it not possible that Ragon as a young man either knew St.-Germain or contacted his secret society? Ragon was termed by his contemporaries "the most learned Mason of the nineteenth century". In 1818, before the Lodge of Les Trinosophists, he delivered a course of lectures on ancient and modern initiation which he repeated at the request of that lodge in 1841. These lectures were published under the title Cours Philosophique et Interprétatif des Initiations Anciennes et Modernes. In 1853 Ragon published his most important work Orthodoxie Maçonnique. Ragon died in Paris about 1866 and two years later his unfinished manuscripts were purchased from his heirs by the Grand Orient of France for one thousand francs. A high Mason told Madam Blavatsky that Ragon had corresponded for years with two Orientalists in Syria and Egypt, one of whom was a Copt gentleman.
Ragon defined the Lodge of the Trinosophists as "those who study three sciences". Madame Blavatsky writes: "It is on the occult properties of the three equal lines or sides of the Triangle that Ragon based his studies and founded the famous Masonic Society of the Trinosophists". Ragon describes the symbolism of the triangle in substance as follows: The first side or line represents the
mineral kingdom which is the proper study for Apprentices; the second line represents the vegetable kingdom which the Companions should learn to understand because in this kingdom generation of bodies begins; the third line represents the animal kingdom from the exploration of which the Master Mason must complete his education. It has been said of the Lodge of the Trinosophists that "it was at one time the most intelligent society of Freemasons ever known. It adhered to the ancient Landmarks but gave clearer and more satisfactory interpretations to the symbols of Freemasonry than are afforded in the symbolical Lodges". It practiced five degrees. In the Third, candidates for initiation received a philosophic and astronomic explanation of the Hiramic Legend.
The Egyptianized interpretation of Freemasonic symbolism which is so evident in the writings of Ragon and other French Masonic scholars of the same period (such as Court de Gabelin and Alexandre Lenoir) is also present in the figures and text of the St.-Germain manuscript. In his comments on the Rite of Misraim, called the Egyptian Rite, Ragon distinguishes 90 degrees of Masonic Mysteries. The Ist to 33rd degrees he terms symbolic; the 34th to 66th degrees, philosophic; the 67th to 77th, mystic; and the 78th to 90th, Cabbalistic. The Egyptian Freemasonry of Cagliostro may also have been derived from St.-Germain or from some common body of Illuminists of whom St.-Germain was the moving spirit. Cagliostro’s memoirs contain a direct statement of his initiation into the Order of Knights Templars at the hands of St.-Germain. De Luchet gives what a modern writer on Cagliostro calls a fantastic account of the visit paid by Allesandro and his wife the Comtesse Felicitas to St.-Germain in Germany, and their subsequent initiation by him into the sect of the Rosicrucians—of which he was the Grand Master or chief. There is nothing improbable in the assumption that Cagliostro secured La Très Sainte Trinosophie from St.-Germain and that the manuscript is in every respect an authentic ritual of this society.
The word Trinosophie quite properly infers a triple meaning to the contents of the book, in other words that its meaning should be interpreted with the aid of three keys. From the symbolism it seems that one of these keys is alchemy, or soul-chemistry; another Essenian Cabbalism; and the third Alexandrian Hermetism, the mysticism of the later Egyptians. From such fragments of the Rosicrucian lore as now exists, it is evident that the Brethren of the Rose Cross were especially addicted to these three forms of the ancient wisdom, and chose the symbols of these schools as the vehicles of their ideas.
The technical task of decoding the hieroglyphics occurring
throughout La Très Sainte Trinosophie was assigned to Dr. Edward C. Getsinger, an eminent authority on ancient alphabets and languages, who is now engaged in the decoding of the primitive ciphers in the Book of Genesis. A few words from his notes will give an idea of the difficulties involved in decoding:
"Archaic writings are usually in one system of letters or characters, but those among the ancients who were in possession of the sacred mysteries of life and certain secret astronomical cycles never trusted this knowledge to ordinary writing, but devised secret codes by which they concealed their wisdom from the unworthy. Each of these communities or brotherhoods of the enlightened devised its own code. About 3000 B. C. only the Initiates and their scribes could read and write. At that period the simpler methods of concealment were in vogue, one of which was to drop certain letters from words in such a manner that the remaining letters still formed a word which, however, conveyed an entirely different sense. As ages progressed other systems were invented, until human ingenuity was taxed to the utmost in an endeavor to conceal and yet perpetuate sacred knowledge.
"In order to decipher ancient writings of a religious or philisophic nature, it is first necessary to discover the code or method of concealment used by the scribe. In all my twenty years of experience as a reader of archaic writings I have never encountered such ingenious codes and methods of concealment as are found in this manuscript. In only a few instances are complete phrases written in the same alphabet; usually two or three forms of writing are employed, with letters written upside down, reversed, or with the text written backwards. Vowels are often omitted, and at times several letters are missing with merely dots to indicate their number. Every combination of hieroglyphics seemed hopeless at the beginning, yet, after hours of alphabetic dissection, one familiar word would appear. This gave a clue as to the language used, and established a place where word combination might begin, and then a sentence would gra dually unfold.
"The various texts are written in Chaldean Hebrew, Ionic Greek, Arabic, Syriac, cuneiform, Greek hieroglyphics, and ideographs. The keynote throughout this material is that of the approach of the age when the Leg of the Grand Man and the Waterman of the Zodiac shall meet in conjunction at the equinox and end a grand 400,000-year cycle. This points to a culmination of eons, as mentioned in the Apocalypse: "Behold! I make a new heaven and a new earth," meaning a series of new cycles and a new humanity.
"The personage who gathered the material in this manuscript was
indeed one whose spiritual understanding might be envied. He found these various texts in different parts of Europe, no doubt, and that he had a true knowledge of their import is proved by the fact that he attempted to conceal some forty fragmentary ancient texts by scattering them within the lines of his own writing. Yet his own text does not appear to have any connection with these ancient writings. If a decipherer were to be guided by what this eminent scholar wrote he would never decipher the mystery concealed within the cryptic words. There is a marvelous spiritual story written by this savant, and a more wonderful one he interwove within the pattern of his own narrative. The result is a story within a story."
In the reprinting of the Freneh text of the Trinosophia, the spelling and punctuation is according to the original. It has been impossible, however, to reproduce certain peculiarities of the calligraphy. In some cases the punctuation is obscure, accents are omitted, and dashes of varying lengths are inserted to fill out lines. The present manuscript is undoubtedly a copy, as "Philotaume" stated. The archaic characters and the hieroglyphics reveal minor imperfections of formation due to the copyist being unfamiliar with the alphabets employed.
The considerable extent of the notes and commentaries has made it advisable to place them together at the end of the work rather than break up the continuity of the text by over-frequent interpolations.
La Très Sainte Trinosophie is not a manuscript for the tyro. Only deep study and consideration will unravel the complicated skein of its symbolism.Although the text matter is treated with the utmost simplicity, every line is a profound enigma. Careful perusal of the book, and meditation upon its contents, will convince the scholar that it has been well designated "the most precious known manuscript of occultism."
St. Germain's Alchemy
Against the background of dogmatic ignorance and purposeless pedantry stands out sharply and clearly the luminous personality of the Comte de St.-Germain. Master of the old wisdom, wise in forgotten truths, proficient in all the curious arts of antiquity, learned beyond any other man of the modern world, the mysterious Comte personified in his own incredible achievements the metaphysical traditions of fifty centuries. A thousand times the questions have been asked: where did St.-Germain secure his astonishing knowledge of natural law? How did he perpetuate himself from century to century, defying the natural corruption which brings prince, priest, and pauper alike to a common end? St.-Germain was the mouthpiece and representative of the brotherhood of philosophers which had descended in an unbroken line from the hierophants of Greece and Egypt. He had received the Logos. By his wisdom he confounded the elders. The life of this one man puts to naught the scholastic smugness of two thousand years.
La Très Sainte Trinosophie is supremely significant in that it sets forth the spiritual processes which finally result in adeptship. It is the diary of the soul’s coming of age. It may well be the actual record of St.-Germain’s own acceptance into the mystical brotherhood of which he finally became the Grand Master. As the purpose of the manuscript was the instruction of disciples already familiar with the secret terminology, the whole account is set forth symbolically in fragments of ritual and allegory derived from the ceremonials of the classical era. Though the first reading may serve only to perplex, a deep and careful analysis of the text will gradually enlighten. Each will discover in the writing that which he himself knows, he will interpret it according to that which he himself is, and he will apply it according to that which he himself desires. Symbols are all things to all men, yet beneath the wide diversity of interpretations of which they are susceptible is a wisdom simple and inevitable which can be comprehended only by the truly wise. Opinions, theories, and beliefs fall away; at the root of every emblem is a fact. Our manuscript is rich in these veiled facts and we are reminded by the author that no part of it is without hidden significance.
The Comte de St. Germain
It is rather remarkable that in the history of alchemy the Comte de St. Germain has not been mentioned. There is no doubt that he was an expert in the art, but of the many stories related about this remarkable man, his achievements in this particular sphere seem to play no part.
St. Germain was a baffling personality. As far as can be ascertained he was the son of Prince Racozy of Transylvania, but, in any case, there can be no doubt that he was of noble birth, a man of great culture and refinement. His history as far as it is known is well worth reading, but does not come within the scope of this book, which is solely concerned with his interest in the alchemic art. To those of my readers interested in dietetics, it may be a point of interest that most of his biographers have noted his habits with regard to food. It was diet, he declared, combined with his marvellous elixir, which constituted the true secret of his longevity, for it may be remembered that records of St. Germain’s various appearances in Europe extend over a period of 110 years, during which time his appearance never altered. Always he appeared as a well-preserved man of middle age. Madame la Comtesse d’Adhemar, for example, in ‘Souvenirs de Marie Antoinette,’ gives an excellent description of the Comte, whom Frederick the Great referred to as ‘the man who does not die,’ and Mrs. Cooper Oakley in her monograph, ‘The Comte de St. Germain, the Secret of Kings,’ traces him under his various names between the years 1710 and 1822.
The Italian adventurer, Jacques de Casanova de Seingalt, grudgingly admits that the Comte was an adept of the magical arts and a skilled chemist. Upon his telling St. Germain that he was suffering from an acute disease, the Comte invited Casanova to remain for treatment, saying that he would prepare fifteen pills which in three days would restore him to perfect health.
Of St. Germain’s athoeter Casanova writes:
Casanova further records an incident in which St. Germain changed a twelve sous piece into a pure gold coin. There is other evidence that the celebrated Count possessed the alchemical powder by which it is possible to transmute base metals into gold. He actually performed this feat on at least two occasions as stated by the writings of contemporaries. The Marquis de Valbelle, visiting St. Germain in his laboratory, found the alchemist busy with his furnaces. He asked the Marquis for a silver six-franc piece, and covering it with a black substance, exposed it to the heat of a small flame or furnace. M. de Valbelle saw the coin change colour until it became a bright red. Some minutes after, when it had cooled a little, the adept took it out of the cooling vessel and returned it to the Marquis. The piece was no longer silver but of the purest gold. Transmutation had been complete. The Comtesse d’Adhemar had possession of this coin until 1766, when it was stolen from her secretary.
One author tells us that St. Germain always attributed his knowledge of occult chemistry to his sojourn in Asia. In 1755 he went to the East for the second time, and writing to Count von Lamberg he said: ‘I am indebted for my knowledge of melting jewels to my second journey to India.’
There are too many authentic cases of metallic transmutations to condemn St. Germain as a charlatan for such a feat. The Leopold Hoffman medal, still in the possession of that family, is the most outstanding example of the transmutation of metals ever recorded. Two-thirds of this medal was transformed into gold by the monk Wenzel-Sei1er, leaving the balance silver, which was its original state. In the circumstances fraud was impossible as there was but one copy of the medal extant.
For these notes on incidents in St. Germain’s life I am indebted to Mr. Manly Hall's introductory material and commentary to the ‘Most Holy Trinosophia’ (Cornte de St. Germain).
The ‘Most Holy Trinosophia,’ or ‘The Most Holy Threefold Wisdom,’ is composed of twelve sections. It is at the same time a picture of the process of Initiation and an Alchemical treatise, a fact which careful perusal will establish. Let me quote from Section XII:
Here is a picture of the pelican in its sand bath, the process of the sublimation of the contents, and the change of colour which takes place in one of the laboratory processes in the preparation of the Philosophers’ Stone. That this preparation is a physical process carried out in a laboratory with water, retorts, sandbath, and furnaces, there is no doubt. That alchemy is purely a psychic and spiritual science has no basis in fact. A science to be a science must be capable of —“manifestation on every plane of consciousness; in other words it must be capable of demonstrating the axiom ‘as above, so below.’ Alchemy can withstand this test, for it is, physically, spiritually, and psychically, a science manifesting throughout all form and all life.
The various foregoing records should in some measure bear testimony to the claim of alchemy to be a physical science based on an inner knowledge of the properties of metals. Casanova’s description of St. Germain alone is evidence that as recently as the latter part of the eighteenth century, at any rate, a method of preparing a physical ‘Stone,’ capable of transmuting metals and curing disease was in practice.
Modern science knows of no substance that can change lead or quicksilver into the likeness of solid gold by the mere addition of a grain of red powder, and may therefore choose to scoff at the alchemists’ assertions as products of a too-fertile imagination, at their writings as ‘gibberish.’ But the fact must be borne in mind that the ‘assertions’ were corroborated by impartial observers, and that the ‘gibberish’ of the Hermetic tracts is scarcely less intelligible to the layman than is modern chemical phraseology.