Saint-Germain, comte de (c. 1710–1784) A mysterious gentlemen believed by many to be an Ascended Master of the Great White Brotherhood and one of the greatest occult adepts that ever lived. He allegedly possessed the alchemical secrets of transmutation, was a Rosicrucian and Freemason, gave the appearance of surviving without food or drink, and played a role in 18th-century European politics. Saint-Germain was reincarnated as several famous historical men over the centuries; some said he was immortal.
Lives and Times
Very little of what has been written about the comte can be verified. According to lore, Saint-Germain’s first appearance occurred about 50,000 years ago in a paradise that today is the Sahara. As high priest of the Violet Flame Temple, he led his enlightened people along the path of cosmic consciousness. Unfortunately, some of his followers succumbed to worldly pleasures, and he left them to their fates. In 1050 B.C.E., Saint-Germain returned as the Old Testament prophet Samuel. He anointed Saul as king of the Israelites but denied him when Saul disobeyed the Lord, choosing David to be king instead and establishing the lineage of the Messiah. Saint-Germain himself returned as Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and human father to the infant Jesus.
In the third century C.E., Saint-Germain appeared again, this time as Saint Alban, the first Christian martyr in Britain. Converted to Christianity by the monk Amphibalus, Saint Alban hid the holy man during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. When the saint refused to renounce his faith or reveal Amphibalus’s sanctuary, he was beheaded in 303. In a happier role, Saint-Germain served as Proclus (410–485), the head of Plato’s Academy in Athens. And in perhaps his most magical incarnation, Saint-Germain returned to Britain in the late fifth century as the wizard Merlin, counsellor to King Arthur of Camelot.
Saint-Germain next appeared as ROGER BACON (1214– 94), a scientist, alchemist, and contemporary of Saint Albertus Magnus, reputedly the greatest mind of his age. Bacon believed so fiercely in the existence of the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir OF LIFE—and their alchemical potential—that others followed his example based solely on his passionate and learned arguments. His Franciscan brothers did not always share his enthusiasm, however, and kept him in confinement for 14 years as punishment for his heresies. Bacon predicted that India could be reached by sailing west from Spain; Saint-Germain, as Christopher Columbus, fulfilled that prophecy in 1492. Saint-Germain knew Paracelsus (1493–1541), who studied his secret elixir composed of 777 ingredients.
In the 16th century, Saint-Germain returned as Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), English essayist, philosopher, statesman, and occultist. Reportedly a Freemason and a Rosicrucian, Sir Francis pursued alchemical transmutation as well as scientific experiment. Some scholars identified him as the real author of Shakespearean dramas. Saint-Germain also allegedly befriended JOHN DEE and Edward Kelly, assisting them in their work with ANGEL communications.
Accounts of Saint-Germain’s life reported that the adept’s incarnation as Sir Francis was to have been his last, ascending as Master on May 1, 1684. But desiring one last go-round, Saint-Germain arrived in Paris in the 1700s as the comte (Count) de Saint-Germain: alchemist, Rosicrucian, lover of jewels, politician, diplomat, and fascinating dinner guest.
The Historical Comte de Saint-Germain
Regardless of whether the comte really lived in earlier times, he is best known for his 18th-century identity as a historical figure, the comte de Saint-Germain. Some accounts say he was the third son of Prince Ferenc (Francis) Rokoczy II of Hungary and was under the guardianship of the emperor of Austria but was brought up by the Medicis in Italy. Others attribute his parentage to a Portuguese Jew from Bordeaux. To those most convinced of his immortality, his Semitic features identified him as the legendary Wandering Jew. No record exists of his first name; in a letter dated 1735 he signed himself as “P. M. de St. Germaine.”
Although not handsome, he dressed well and wore jewels on every finger, cutting quite a figure at court. He was small and slight and always wore black satin and velvet, diamond studs, and the finest-quality linens and laces. He kept his hair powdered and tied in the back with a black ribbon. The comte claimed that his initiation into the Rosicrucian mysteries gave him the ability to call up diamonds, pearls, and other gems at will. He often carried a small casket of jewels when he called on ladies at court and was generous with his treasures.
Quite learned, the comte was an accomplished painter and musician, able to play both the harpsichord and the violin. He spoke and wrote Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, English, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish fluently and without accent, making him invaluable as a diplomat and a statesman. King Louis XV of France trusted him implicitly—even allowing the comte to see his mistress, Madame du Pompadour, in her rooms— but the comte was no doubt spying for Frederick the Great of Prussia at the same time. Horace Walpole wrote that the comte lived in London until he was arrested as a Jacobite in 1743 but that he was seen dining and entertaining in Paris during that same period. He loved being a dinner guest but never ate or drank anything in public. In 1762 he reportedly helped Catherine the Great become empress of Russia. Tragically, his warnings to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette about the coming revolution were ignored.
But to the European intelligentsia, hungry to learn anything remotely esoteric, the comte’s apparent knowledge of alchemy and the occult were more impressive than his political maneuvers. He seemed to have extensive financial means, but if they were obtained through alchemical transmutation, he wisely kept quiet. Before coming to France, the comte had made a small fortune selling bottles of age-defying elixir; one of his customers, the marechal de Belle-Isle, was so captivated with the solution that he convinced the comte to go to Paris. The comte gave the impression that he, too, had drunk the potion, allowing him to seem ageless. He described his meetings with King Henry VIII of England, Emperor Charles V, or other royal luminaries as if he had actually known them intimately.
In 1760 the London Mercury, an English newspaper, reported in all seriousness that the comte had given a vial of his elixir to a lady of his acquaintance who was concerned that she was aging too soon. The lady put the precious vial in a drawer, where it was accidentally discovered by her maid. The maid, not knowing the elixir’s true nature, thought it was a purgative and drank some of the liquid. When the lady called for her maid’s assistance, a young girl answered the summons.
Little is known of the comte’s romantic life, save tales that he was charismatic to women. By some accounts, he was married more than once. He had a son by one unknown wife; Casanova reportedly poisoned him to death. Saint-Germain married a woman he met in Venice, Angioletta Bartolomeo, the daughter of a gondolier. He introduced her to King Louis XV as his sister. Later, she committed suicide following an affair with Casanova.
The comte’s most famous students were COUNT CAGLIOSTRO and his wife, whom Saint-Germain personally initiated into the Lodge of Illuminists at his castle at Holstein in 1785. The ceremony was resplendent with thousands of candles, acolytes carrying perfumes, and countless diamonds and jewels. During the Initiation, Cagliostro’s future was read from a mysterious book: he would be persecuted, tried, dishonoured, and imprisoned. Cagliostro introduced Egyptian rites of Freemasonry to France, although he was eventually discredited and charged with heresy, spending his last days imprisoned in solitary confinement in Italy.
Occult manuscripts are attributed to the comte, but some exist only in legend. Helena P. Blavatsky quoted Saint-Germain on the occult powers of Numbers but cited no reference. A manuscript owned by Cagliostro and confiscated by the Inquisition, La Tres Sainte Trinosophie, apparently was written by the comte; MANLY PALMER HALL translated it in 1933. Hall owned another Saint-Germain manuscript, Ancien Membre du Conseil de Direction de la Societe Theosophique du France.
A rare cipher manuscript called La Magie Sainte is attributed to Saint-Germain, who wrote it for an unknown person. The manuscript, printed on triangular paper around 1750, contains sacred Egyptian magic passed to Moses and is based on the GRIMOIRE the Key of Solomon. It provides instructions for preparing a Magic CIRCLE, consecrating magical Tools, and making PRAYERS to spirits.
Death and Resurrection
In 1784 the comte reportedly died at the castle of Count Karl of Hesse-Cassel in the duchy of Schleswig. While residing with Count Karl, the comte complained of feeling feeble, careworn, and melancholy. Although records indicated the count inherited all of the comte’s secret Freemason papers and alchemical instructions, Count Karl provided no details about his friend’s death. According to some reports, the comte was in excellent health until his passing; other stories tell of a lingering illness and severe melancholy that preceded his death. In either case, there are no funeral or burial records—remarkable for such an esteemed and important man.
But did Saint-Germain actually die? In 1785, in the presence of Count Cagliostro, Franz Anton Mesmer, and other Adepts, the French Freemasons elected him as their representative to that year’s convention. He supposedly travelled to Russia in 1786. And the comtesse d’Adhémar swore she had talked with the comte at the Church of the Recollets in the summer of 1789 after the taking of the Bastille. She claimed she saw him again in 1815 and 1821.
His last official appearance was in 1822 when, according to occult lore, he retired to the Himalayas, secret home of the Ascended Masters. From there he reportedly helped Madame Helena Blavatsky found the Theosophical Society in 1875, aided by Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi. The comte administered the Seventh Ray in the theosophical universe, responsible for ceremony and ritual. Mysterious sightings continued, with rumoured appearances in Paris in 1835 and Milan in 1867. Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky’s student, claimed she met the comte in 1896, while Theosophist C. W. Leadbeater swore he met the elusive comte in Rome in 1926.
Perhaps even stranger were the claims of Guy Ballard, who with his wife and son founded the “I AM” Religious Activity Movement in the 1930s. Ballard claimed that the comte had introduced him to visitors from Venus, which Ballard later channelled. More recently, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, co-founder with her late husband Mark of the Church Universal and Triumphant, embraced the comte as an Ascended Master and teacher of what each person must accomplish to bring about the Seventh Golden Age on Earth. The comte guides a variety of New Age organizations through psychics and channelers.
- Hall, Manly P. Sages and Seers. Los Angeles: The Philosophical Research Society, 1959.
- Hall, Manly P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages. 1928. Reprint, Los Angeles: The Philosophic Research Society, 1977.
- Mackay, Charles, L. L. D. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1932.
- Merton, Reginald. “Comte Saint-Germain: The Immortal German Alchemist.” Available online. URL: www. alchemylab.com/count_saint_germain.htm. Downloaded July 8, 2004.
- Seligmann, Kurt. The History of Magic and the Occult. New York: Pantheon Books, 1948.