Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Secrets
British National Association of Spiritualists : A society formed in 1873, mainly through the instrumentality of Mr. Dawson Rogers, to promote the interests of spiritualism in Great Britain. It numbered among its original vice-presidents and members of council the most prominent spiritualists of the day, Benjamin Coleman, Mrs. Macdougall Gregory, Sir Charles Isham, Messrs. Jacken, Dawson Rogers, and Morell Theobald, Drs. Wyld, Stanhope Speer, Mrs. Carter, and many others-while many eminent people of other lands joined the association as corresponding members. The B.N.A.S. in 1882 decided to change its name to " The Central Association of Spiritualists." Among its committees was one for systematic research into the phenomena of spiritualism, in which connection some interesting scientific experiments were made in 1878. Early in 1882 conferences were held at the Association's rooms, presided over by Professor Barrett, which resulted in the formation of the Society for Psychical Research. Many members of the latter society were recruited from the council of the B.N.A.S., such as the Rev. Stainton Moses, Dr. George Wyld, Messrs. Dawson Rogers, and Morell Theobald. The B.N.A.S. was at first associated with the Spiritualist, edited by W. H. Harrison, but in 1879 the reports of its proceedings were transferred to Spiritual Notes, a paper which founded in the previous year, came to an end in 1881, as did also the Spiritualist. In the latter year Dawson Rogers founded Light, with which the society was henceforth associated. From the beginning of its career, the B.N.A.S. has he'd itself apart from religious and philosophical dogmatism, and has included among its members spiritualists of all sects and opinions.
Broceliande: A magic forest in Brittany, which figures in the Arthurian legend. It was in this place that Merlin was enchanted by Nimue or Viviana, Lady of the Lake, and imprisoned beneath a huge stone. The name Broceliande is often employed as symbolic of the dim unreality of legendary scenery.
Brothers of Purity: association of Arabs and philosophers in the 10th century studied later by Spanish Jews.
Bruillant: One of the actors mentioned in the Grand Saint Gyaal. He it was who discovered the Grail Sword in Solomon's ship, and with it slew Lambor. For this use of the holy sword, however, the whole of Britain suffered, for no wheat grew, the fruit trees bare no fruit, and there was no fish in the sea. Bruillant himself was punished with death.
Cagliostro : one of the greatest occult figures of all time. It was the fashion during the latter half of the XIXth century to regard Cagliostro as a charlatan and impostor, and this point of view was greatly aided by the savage attack perpetrated on his memory by Carlyle, who alluded to him as the " Prince of Quacks." Recent researches, however, and especially those made by Mr. W. R. H. Trowbridge in his Cagliostro: the Splendour and Misery of a Master of Magic, go to show that if Cagliostro was not a man of unimpeachable honour, he was by no means the quack and scoundrel that so many have made him out to be. In the first place it will be well to give a brief outline of his life as known to us before Mr. Trowbridge's examination of the whole question placed Cagliostro's circumstances in a different light, and then to check the details of his career in view of what may be termed Mr. Trowbridge's discoveries.
We find that Carlyle possessed a strong prejudice in regard to Cagliostro, and that he made no allowance for the flagrant mendacity of the documentary evidence regarding the so - called magician; and this leads up to the fact that although documents and books relating to Cagliostro abound, they possess little or no value. An account compiled from all these sources would present the following features:
Cagliostro's father whose name is alleged to have been Peter Balsamo, a person of humble origin, died young, and his mother, unable to support him, was glad to receive assistance for this purpose from one of her brothers; but from infancy he showed himself averse to proper courses, and when placed in an religious seminary at Palermo, he more than once ran away from it, usually to be recaptured in undesirable company. Sent next to a Benedictine convent, where he was under the care of a Father Superior, who quickly discovered his natural aptitude, he became the assistant of an apothecary attached to the convent, from whom he learned the principles of chemistry and medicine; but even then his desire was more to discover surprising and astonishing chemical combinations than to gain more useful knowledge. Tiring of the life at last, he succeeded in escaping from the convent, and betook himself to Palermo where he associated with rascals and vagabonds. He was constantly in the hands of the police, and his kind uncle who tried to assist him was rewarded by being robbed of a considerable sum. Engaged in every description of rascality, he was even said to have assisted in the assassination of a wealthy canon. At this time it is asserted that he was only fourteen years of age, but, later, becoming tired of lesser villainies he resolved upon a grand stroke, upon which to lay the foundations of his fortunes.
At Palermo resided an avaricious goldsmith named Marano, a stupid, superstitious man who believed devotedly in the efficacy of magic. He became attracted to Cagliostro, who at the age of seventeen posed as being deeply versed in occultism, and had been seen evoking spirits. Marano made his acquaintance and confided to him that he had spent a great deal of money upon quack alchemists; but that he was convinced that in meeting him (Cagliostro) he had at last chanced upon a real master of magic. Cagliostro willingly ministered to the man's superstitions, and told him as a profound secret that in a field at no great distance from Palermo lay a buried treasure which, by the aid of magic ceremonies he could absolutely locate, But the operation necessitated some expensive preliminaries - at least to 10 oz. of gold would be required in connection with it. To this very considerable sum Marano demurred, and Cagliostro coolly asserted that he would enjoy the vast treasure alone. But the credulity of Marano was too strong for his better sense, and at length he agreed to furnish the necessary funds.
At midnight they Sought the field where it was supposed the treasure was hid. Cagliostro proceeded with his incantations and Marano, terrified at their dreadful nature, fell prostrate on his face, in which position he was unmercifully belaboured by a number of scoundrels whom Cagliostro had collected for that purpose. Palermo rang with the affair, but Cagliostro managed to escape to Messina, where he adopted the title of " Count."
It was in this town that he first met with the mysterious Althotas. He was walking one day in the vicinity of the harbour when he encountered a person of singular dress and countenance. This man, apparently about fifty years of age, was dressed as an oriental, with caftan and robes, and was accompanied by an Albanian greyhound. Attracted by his appearance Cogliostro saluted him, and after some conversation the stranger offered to tell the pseudocount the story of his past, and to reveal what was actually passing in his mind at that moment. Cagliostro was interested and made arrangements for visiting the stranger, who pointed out to him the house in which he resided, requesting him to call a little before midnight, and to rap twice on the knocker, then three times more slowly, when he would be admitted. At the time appointed Cagliostro duly appeared and was conducted along a narrow passage lit. by a single lamp in a niche of the wall. At the end of this was a spacious apartment illuminated by wax candies, and furnished with everything necessary for the practice of alchemy. Althotas expressed himself as a believer in the mutability of physical law rather than of magic, which, he regarded as a science having fixed laws discoverable and reducible to reason. He proposed to depart for Egypt, and to carry Cagliostro thither with him - a proposal which the latter joyfully accepted. Althotas acquainted him with the fact that he possessed no funds, and upon Cagliostro's expressing some annoyance at this circumstance laughed at him, telling him that it was an easy matter for him to make sufficient gold to pay the expenses of their voyage. Authorities differ greatly regarding the personality of Althotas; but we will leave this part of the Cagliostro mystery for the moment.
Embarking upon a Genoese ship they duly came to Alexandria where Althotas told his comrade that he was absolutely ignorant regarding his birth and parentage, and Said that he was much older than he appeared to be, but that he was in possession of certain secrets for the preservation of strength and health. " No - thing he said " astonishes me; nothing grieves me, save the evils which I am powerless to prevent; and I trust to reach in peace the term of my protracted existence." His early years had been passed near Tunis on the coast of Barbary, where he had been the slave of a wealthy Mussulman pirate. At twelve years of age he spoke Arabic fluently, studied botany, and read the Koran to his master, who died when Althotas was sixteen. Althotas now found himself free, and master of a very considerable sum which had been bequeathed him by his late owner.
Accompanied by Cagliostro he penetrated into Africa and the heart of Egypt, visiting the Pyramids, making the acquaintance of the priests of different temples, and receiving from them much hidden knowledge. (The slightest acquaintance with Egyptian history would have saved the author of this statement from making such an absurd anachronism). Following upon their Egyptian tour, however, they visited the principal kingdoms of Africa and Asia, and they are subsequently discovered at Rhodes pursuing alchemical operations. At Malta they assisted the Grand - master Pinto, who was infatuated with alchemical experiments, and from that moment Althotas completely disappears - the memoir of Cagliostro merely stating that during their residence in Malta he passed away.
Cagliostro on the death of his comrade repaired to Naples. He was in funds, for Pinto had well provided him before he left Malta. In Naples he met with a Sicilian prince, who conceived a strong predilection for his society, and invited him to his castle near Palermo. This was dangerous ground but Cagliostro was nothing if not courageous, and besides he was curious to revisit the haunts of his youth. He had not been long in Palermo when one day he traveled to Messina where he encountered by chance one of his confederates in the affair of Marano the goldsmith. This man warned him strongly not to enter the town of Palermo, and finally persuaded him to return to Naples to open a gambling - house for the plucking wealthy foreigners. This scheme the pair carried on but the Neapolitan authorities regarded them wit grave suspicion that they betook themselves to the States. Here they parted company, and regarding this time the alleged memoir of Cagliostro is not very clear. It however leads us to believe that the so - called Count had no lack of dupes, and from this obscurity he emerges at Rome where we find him established as an empiric, retailing specifics for all the diseases that flesh is heir to. Money flowed in upon him, and he lived in considerable luxury.
It was at this time that he met the young and beautiful, Lorenza Feliciani, to whom he proposed marriage; her father dazzled by Cagliostro's apparent wealth and importance consented, and the marriage took place with some ceremony. All biographers of Cagliostro agree in stating that Lorenza was a thoroughly good woman, honest, devoted and modest. The most dreadful accusations have been made concerning the manner in which Cagliostro treated his wife, and it has been alleged that he thoroughly ruined her character and corrupted her mind. But we shall discover later that this account has been coloured by the unscrupulous imagination of the Jesuitical writers of the Roman Inquisition. All biographers agree that Cagliostro hastened his wife's ruin, but it is difficult to know how they came by their data; and in any case they disagree substantially in their details. Cagliostro's residence now became the resort of card - sharpers and other undesirables, and it is said that he himself assumed the title and uniform of a Prussian colonel; but he and his confederates quarreled and with his wife he was forced to quit Rome with a so - called Marquis D'Agriata. They took the road to Venice, and reached Bergamo, which through their rogueries they had speedily to leave. They then made the best of their way through Sardinia and Genoa, and indeed spent several years in wandering through Southern Europe. At last they arrived in Spain by way of Barcelona, where they tarried for six months, proceeding afterwards to Madrid and Lisbon. From Lisbon they sailed to England, where Cagliostro lived upon his wits, duping certain foreigners. An English life of Cagliostro gives an account of his adventures in London, and tells how he was robbed of a large sum in plate, jewels and money; how he hired apartments in Whitcomb Street, where he spent most of his time in studying chemistry and physics, giving away much money and comporting himself generously and decently on all sides.
In 1772 he returned to France with his wife and a certain Duplaisir. At this time it is said that Duplaisir eloped with Lorenza, and that Cagliostro obtaining an order for her arrest, she was imprisoned in a penitentiary, where she was detained for several months. On her release, it is alleged, an immediate reconciliation occurred between husband and wife. At this time Cagliostro had attracted much attention in Paris by his alchemical successes. It was the period of mystic enthusiasm in Europe, when princes, bishops, and the nobility generally were keen to probe the secrets of nature, and when alchemy and the allied sciences were the pursuits and hobbies of the great. But according to his Italian biographer Cagliostro went too far and raised such hopes in the breasts of his dupes that at last they entertained suspicions of his honesty, so that he was forced to flee to Brussels, whence he made his way to his native town of Palermo, where he was speedily arrested by the goldsmith Marano. A certain nobleman, however, interested himself on his behalf, and procured his release, and he embarked with his wife who had accompanied him, for Malta. From that island they soon retired to Naples, and from there to Marseilles and Barcelona. Their progress was marked by considerable state, and having cheated a certain alchemist of 100,000 crowns under the pretence of achieving some alchemical secret, they hurried to England.
It was during his second visit to London that the Count was initiated into Masonry, and conceived his great idea of employing that system for his own behalf. With this grand object in view he incessantly visited the various London Lodges, and ingratiated himself with their principals and officials. At this period he is said to have picked up in an obscure London bookstall a curious manuscript which is said to have belonged to a certain George Gaston, concerning whom nothing is known. This document dealt with the mysteries of Egyptian Masonry, and abounded in magical and mystical references. It was from this, it is alleged, that Cagliostro gathered his occult inspirations. He studied it closely and laid his plans carefully. After another and somewhat harassed tour through Holland, Italy and Germany, he paid a visit to the celebrated Count do St. Germain. In his usual eccentric manner, St. Germain arranged their meeting for the hour of two in the morning, at which time Cagliostro and his wife, robed in white garments, and cinctured by girdles of rose colour, presented themselves before the Count's temple of mystery. The drawbridge was lowered, and a man of exceptional height led them into a dimly lighted apartment where folded doors sprang suddenly open, and they behold a temple illuminated by hundreds of wax lights. The Count of St. Germain sat upon the altar, and at his feet two acolytes swung golden censers. In the Lives of the Alchemystical Philosophers this interview is thus detailed. " The divinity bore upon his breast a diamond pentagram of almost intolerable radiance. A majestic statue, white and diaphanous, upheld on the steps of the altar a vase inscribed, ' Elixir of Immortality, ' while a vast mirror was on the wall, and before it a living being, majestic as the statue, walked to and fro. Above the mirror were these singular words - ' Store House of Wandering Souls.' The most solemn silence prevailed in this sacred retreat, but at length a voice, which seemed hardly a voice, pronounced these words - ' Who are you ? Whence come you ? What would you ?' Then the Count and Countess Cagliostro prostrated themselves, and the former answered after a long pause, ' I come to invoke the God of the faithful, the Son of Nature, the Sire of Truth. I come to demand of him one of the fourteen thousand seven hundred secrets which are treasured in his breast, I come to proclaim myself his slave, his apostle his martyr.'
" The divinity did not respond, but after a long silence, the same voice asked “What does the partner of thy long wanderings intend”
' To obey and to serve, ' answered Lorenza.
Simultaneously with her words, profound darkness succeeded the glare of light, uproar followed on tranquillity, terror on trust, and a sharp and menacing voice cried loudly: ' Woe to those who cannot stand the tests .'
" Husband and wife were immediately separated to undergo their respective trials, which they endured with exemplary fortitude, and which are detailed in the text of their memoirs. When the romantic mummery was over, the two postulants were led back into the temple with the promise of admission to the divine mysteries. There a man mysteriously draped in a long mantle cried out to them: - ' Know ye that the arcanum of our great art is the government of mankind, and that the one means to rule them is never to tell them the truth. Do not foolishly regulate your actions according to the - rules of common sense; rather outrage reason and courageously maintain every unbelievable absurdity. Remember that reproduction is the palmary active power in nature, politics and society alike; that it is a mania with mortals to be immortal, to know the future without understanding the present, and to be spiritual while all that surrounds them is material.'
" After this harangue the orator genuflected devoutly before the divinity of the temple and retired. At the same moment a man of gigantic stature led the countess to the feet of the immortal Count de St. Germain who thus spoke
“ Elected from my tenderest youth to the things of greatness, I employed myself in ascertaining the nature of veritable glory. Politics appeared to me nothing but the science of deception, tactics the art of assassination, philosophy the ambitious imbecility of complete irrationality; physics fine fancies about Nature and the continual mistakes of persons suddenly transplanted into a country which is utterly unknown to them; theology the science of the misery which results from human pride; history the melancholy spectacle of perpetual perfidy and blundering. Thence I concluded that the statesman was a skilful liar, the hero an illustrious idiot, the philosopher an eccentric creature, the physician a pitiable and blind man, the theologian analytical pedagogue, and the historian a word - monger. Then did I hear of the divinity of this temple. I cast my cares upon him, with my in certitudes and aspirations. When he took possession of my soul he caused me to perceive all objects in a new light; I began to read futurity. This universe so limited, so narrow, so desert, was now enlarged. I abode not only with those who are, but with those who were. He united me to the loveliest women of antiquity. I found it eminently delectable to know all without studying anything, to dispose of the treasures of the earth without the solicitations of monarchs, to rule the c'ernents rather than men. Heaven made me liberal; I have sufficient to satisfy my taste; all that surrounds me is rich, loving, predestinated. -
When the service was finished the costume of ordinary life was resumed. A superb repast terminated the ceremony. During the course of the banquet the two guests were informed that the Elixir of Immortality was merely Tokay coloured green or red according to the necessities ~of the case. Several essential precepts were enjoined upon them, among others that they must detest, avoid, and calumniate men of understanding, but flatter, foster, and blind fools, that they must spread abroad with much mystery the intelligence that the Count de St. Germain was five hundred years old, and that they must make gold, before all."
There is no good authority for this singular interview, but if it really occurred it only probably served to confirm Cagliostro in the projects he had mapped out for himself.
Travelling into Courland, he and his wife succeeded in establishing several Masonic Lodges according to the rite of what he called Egyptian Freemasonry. Persons, of high rank flocked around the couple, and it is even said that he plotted for the sovereignty of the Grand Duchy. Be this as it may, it is alleged that he collected a very large treasure of presents and money, and set out for St. Petersburg, where he established himself as a physician.
A large number of cures have been credited to Cagliostro throughout his career, and his methods have been the subject of considerable controversy. But there is little doubt that the basis of them was a species of mesmeric influence. It has been said that he trusted simply to the laying on of hands; that he charged nothing for his services; that most of his time was occupied in treating the poor, among whom he distributed vast amounts of money. The source of this wealth was said to have been derived from the Masonic Lodges, with whose assistance and countenance he had undertaken this work.
Returning to Germany he was received in most of the towns through which he passed as a benefactor of the human race. Some regarded his cures as miracles, other as sorceries, while he himself asserted that they were effected by celestial aid.
For three years Cagliostro remained at Strasburg, feted and lauded by all. He formed a strong friendship with the famous Cardinal - archbishop, the Prince de Rohan who was fired by the idea of achieving alchemical successes. Rohan was extremely credulous, and leaned greatly to the marvellous. Cagliostro accomplished supposed transmutations under his eyes, and the Prince delighted with the seeming successes lavished immense praise upon the Count. He even believed that the elixir of life was known to Cagliostro and built a small house in which he was to undergo a physical regeneration. When he had sucked the Prince almost dry, Cagliostro repaired to Bordeaux, proceeding afterwards to Lyons, where he occupied himself with the foundation of headquarters for his Egyptian Masonic rite. He now betook himself to Paris, where he assumed the role of a master of practical magic, and where it is said he evoked phantoms which he caused to appear at the wish of the enquirer in a vase of clear water, or mirror. Mr. Waite thinks in this connection that fraud was an impossibility, and appears to lean to the theory that the visions evoked by Cagliostro were such as occur in crystal - gazing, and that no one was more astonished than the Count himself at the results he obtained. Paris rang with his name and he won the appellation of the " Divine Cagliostro." Introduced to the Court of Louis XVI. he succeeded in evoking apparitions in mirrors before many spectators - these including many deceased persons specially selected by those present. His residence was isolated and surrounded by gardens, and where he established a laboratory. His wife affected great privacy, and only appeared in a diaphanous costume at certain hours, before a very select company. This heightened the mystery surrounding them, and the elite of Parisian society vied with one another to be present at their magic suppers, at which the evocation of the illustrious dead was the principal amusement. It is even stated that deceased statesmen, authors and nobles took their seats at Cagliostro's supper - table.
But the grand object of Cagliostro appears to have been the spread of his Egyptian Masonic rite. The lodges which he founded were androgynous, that is they admitted both men and women; the ladies being instructed by the Master's wife, who figured as the Grand Mistress of the Order - her husband adopting the title of Grand Copt. There is little doubt that a good deal of money was subscribed by the neophytes of the various lodges: the ladies who joined, each sacrificing on the altar of mysticism no less than 100 louis; and Cagliostro's immense wealth, which has never been doubted by any authority on his life, in the strictest probability found its source in the numerous gifts which showered in upon him from the powerful and wealthy for the. purpose of furthering his masonic schemes.
But although he lived in considerable magnificence, Cagliostro by no means led a life of abandoned luxury; for there is the best evidence that he gave away vast sums to the poor and needy, that he attended the sick hand and foot, and in short played the part of healer and reformer at one and the same time.
A great deal of mystery surrounded the doings of the Egyptian Masonry in its headquarters in the Faubourg Saint Honore, and the seances for initiation took place at midnight. Figuier and the Marquis de Luchet have both given striking accounts of what occurred during the female initiations:
" On entering the first apartment, " says Figuier, "the ladies were obliged to disrobe and assume a white garment, with a girdle of various colours. They were divided into six groups, distinguished by the tint of their cinctures. A large veil was also provided, and they were caused to enter a temple lighted from the roof, and furnished with thirty six armchairs covered with black satin, Lorenza clothed in white, was seated on a species of throne, supported by two tall figures, so habited that their sex could not be determined. The light was lowered by degrees till surrounding objects could scarcely be distinguished, when the Grand Mistress commanded the ladies to uncover their left legs as far as the thigh, and raising the right arm to rest it on a neighbouring pillar. Two young women then entered sword in hand, and with silk ropes bound all the ladies together by the arms and legs. Then after period of impressive silence, Lorenza pronounced an oration, which is given at length, but on doubtful authority, by several biographers, and which preached fervidly the emancipation of womankind from the shameful bonds imposed on them by the lords of creation.
" These bonds were symbolized by the silken ropes from which the fair initiates were released at the end of the harangue, when they were conducted into separate apartments, each opening on the Garden, where they had the most unheard - of experiences. Some were pursued by men who unmercifully persecuted, them with barbarous solicitations; others encountered less dreadful admirers, who sighed in the most languishing postures at their feet. More than one discovered the counterpart of her own love but the oath they had all taken necessitated the most inexorable inhumanity, and all faithfully fulfilled what was required of them. The new spirit infused into regenerated woman triumphed along the whole line of the six and thirty initiates, who with intact and immaculate symbols reentered triumphant and palpitating, the twilight of the vaulted temple to receive the congratulations of the sovereign priestess.
" When they had breathed a little after their trials, the vaulted roof opened suddenly, and, on a vast sphere of gold, there descended a man, naked as the unfallen Adam, holding a serpent in his hand, and having a burning star upon his head.
" The Grand Mistress announced that this was the genius of Truth, the immortal, the divine Cagliostro, issued without procreation from the bosom of our father Abraham, and the depositary of all that hath been, is, or shall be known on the universal earth. He was there to initiate them into the secrets of which they had been fraudulently deprived. The Grand Copt thereupon commanded them to dispense with the profanity of clothing, for if they would receive truth they must be as naked as itself. The sovereign priestess setting the example unbound her girdle and permitted her drapery to fall to the ground, and the fair initiates following her example exposed themselves in all the nudity of their charms to the magnetic glances of the celestial genius, who then commenced his revelations.
" He informed his daughters that the much abused magical art was the secret of doing good to humanity. It was initiation into the mysteries of Nature, and the power to make use of her occult forces. The visions which they had beheld in the Garden where so many had seen and recognised those who were dearest to their hearts, proved the reality of hermetic operations. They had shewn themselves worthy to know the truth; he undertook to instruct them by gradations therein. It was enough at the outset to inform them that the sublime end of that Egyptian Freemasonry which he had brought from the very heart of the Orient was the happiness of mankind. This happiness was illimitable in its nature, including material enjoyments as much as spiritual peace, and the pleasures of the understanding.
The Grand Copt at the end of this harangue once more seated himself upon the sphere of gold and was borne away through the roof; and the proceedings ended, rather absurdly in a ball. This sort of thing was of course as the breath of his nostrils to Cagliostro, who could not have existed without the atmosphere of theatrical mysticism, in which he perfectly reveled.
It was at this period that Cagliostro became implicated in the extraordinary affair of the Diamond Necklace. He had been on terms of great intimacy with the Cardinal de Rohan. A certain Countess de Lamotte had petitioned that prince for a pension on account of long aristocratic descent. De Rohan was greatly ambitious to become First Minister of the Throne, but Marie Antoinette, the Queen, disliked him and stood in the way of such an honour. Mme Lamotte soon discovered this, and for purposes of her own told the Cardinal that the Queen favoured his ambitions, and either forged, or procured someone else to forge, letters to the Cardinal purporting to come from the Queen, some of which begged for money for a poor family in - which her Majesty was interested. The letters continued of the begging description, and Rohan, who was himself heavily in debt, and had misappropriated the funds of various institutions, was driven into the hands of money - lenders. The wretched Countess de Lamotte met by chance a poor woman whose resemblance to the Queen was exceedingly marked. This person she trained to represent Marie Antoinette, and arranged nightly meetings between her and Rohan, in which the disguised woman made all sorts of promises to the Cardinal.
Between them the adventuresses milked the unfortunate prelate of immense sums. Meanwhile a certain Bohmer, a jeweller, was very desirous of selling a wonderful diamond necklace in which, for over ten years he had locked up his whole fortune. Hearing that Mme. de Lamotte had great influence 'with the Queen, he approached her for the purpose of getting her to induce Marie Antoinette to purchase it. She at once corresponded with De Rohan on the matter, who came post haste to Paris, to be told by Mme. de Lamotte that the Queen wished him to be security for the purchase of the necklace, for which she had agreed to pay 1,600,000 livres, in four half - yearly instalments. He was naturally staggered at the suggestion but however, affixed his signature to the agreement, and Mme. de Lamotte became the possessor of the necklace. She speedily broke it up, picking the jewels from their setting with an ordinary penknife. Matters went smoothly enough until the date when the first instalment Of 400, 000 livres became due. De Rohan, never dreaming that the Queen would not meet it, could not lay his hands on such a sum, and Bohmer noting his anxiety mentioned the matter to one of the Queen's ladies in - waiting, who retorted that he must be mad, as the Queen had never purchased the necklace at all. He went at once to Mme. de Lamotte who laughed at him, said he was being fooled, that it had nothing to do with her, and told him to go to the Cardinal. The terrified jeweller did not however take her advice, but went to the King.
The amazed Louis XVI. listened to the story quietly enough, and then turned to the Queen who was present, who at once broke forth in a tempest of indignation. As a matter of fact Bohmer had for years pestered her to buy the necklace, but the crowning indignity was that Do Rohan, whom she cordially detested, should have been made the medium for such a scandalous disgrace in connection with her name, and she at once gave directions that the Cardinal should be arrested. The King acquiesced in this, and shortly afterwards the Countess de Lamotte, Cagliostro and his wife, and others, followed him to the Bastille.
The trial which followed was one of the most sensational and stirring in the annals of French history. The King was greatly blamed for allowing the affair to become public at all, and there is little doubt that such conduct as the evidence displayed as that of aristocrats assisted to hasten the French Revolution.
It was Mme. de Lamotte who charged Cagliostro with the robbery of the necklace, and she did not hesitate to invent for him a terrible past, designating him an empiric, alchemist, false prophet, and Jew. This is not the place to deal with the trial at length, and it will suffice to state that Cagliostro easily proved his complete innocence. But the Parisian public looked to Cagliostro to supply the comedy in this great drama, and assuredly they were not disappointed, for he Provided them with what must be described as one of the most romantic and fanciful, if manifestly absurd, life stories in the history of autobiography. His account of himself which is worth quoting at length is as follows:
" I cannot, " he says, " speak positively as to the place of my nativity, nor to the parents who gave me birth. All my inquiries have ended only in giving me some great notions, it is true, but altogether vague and uncertain, concerning my family.
" I spent the years of my childhood in the city of Medina in Arabia. There I was brought up under the name of Acharat, which I preserved during my progress through Africa and Asia. I had my apartments in the palace of the Mufti Salahaym. It is needless to add that the Mufti is the chief of the Mahometan religion, and that his constant residence is at Medina,
" I recollect perfectly that I had then four persons attached to my service: a governor, between forty five and sixty years of age, whose name was Althotas, and three servants, a white one who attended me as valet de chambre and two blacks, one of whom was constantly about, night and day.
My governor always told me that I had been left an orphan when only about three months old, that my parents were Christians and nobly born; but he left me absolutely in the dark about their names and the place of my nativity. Some words, however, which he let fall by chance have induced ms to suspect that I was born at Malta. Althotas, whose name 1 cannot speak without the tenderest emotion, treated me with great care and all the attention of a father. He thought to develop the talent I displayed for the sciences. I may truly say that he knew them all, from the most abstruse down to those of mere amusement. My greatest aptitude was for the study of botany and chemistry.
" By him I was taught to worship God, to love and assist my neighbours, and to respect everywhere religion and the laws. We both dressed like Mahometans and conformed outwardly to the worship of Islam; but the true religion was imprinted in our hearts.
" The Mufti, who often visited me, always treated me with great goodness and seemed to entertain the highest regard for my governor. The latter instructed me in most of the Eastern languages. He would often converse with me on the pyramids of Egypt, on those vast subterraneous, caves dug out by the ancient Egyptians, to be the repository of human knowledge and to shelter the precious trust, from the injuries of time.
" The desire of travelling and of beholding the wonders of which he spoke grew so strong upon me, that Medina and my youthful sports there lost all the allurements I had found in them before. At least, when I was in my twelfth year, Althotas informed me one day that we were going to commence our travels. A caravan was prepared and we set out, after having taken our leave of the Mufti who was pleased to express his concern at our departure in the most obliging manner.
" On our arrival at Mecca we alighted at the palace of the Cherif. Here Althotas provided me with sumptuous apparel and presented me to the Cherif, who honoured me with the most endearing caresses. At sight of this prince my senses experienced a sudden emotion, which it is not in the power of words to express, and my eyes dropped the most delicious tears I have ever shed in my life. His, I perceived, he could hardly contain.
" I remained in Mecca for the space of three years; not a day passed without my being admitted to the sovereign's presence, and every hour increased his attachment and added to my gratitude. I sometimes surprised his gaze riveted upon me, and turned to heaven with every expression of pity and commiseration. Thoughtful, I would go from him a prey to an ever - fruitless curiosity. I dared not question Althotas, who always rebuked me with great severity, as if it had been a crime in me to wish for some, information concerning my parents and the place where I was born. I attempted in vain to get the secret from the negro who slept in my apartment. If I chanced to talk of my parents he would turn a deaf ear to my questions. But one night when I was more pressing than usual, he told me that if ever I should leave Mecca I was threatened with the greatest misfortunes, and bid me, above all, beware of the city of Trebizond.
" My inclination, however, got the better of his forebodings - I was tired of the uniformity of life I led at the Cherif's court. One day when I was alone the prince entered my apartment; he strained me to his bosom with more than usual tenderness, bid me never cease to adore the Almighty, and added, bedewing my cheeks with his tears: 'Nature's unfortunate child, adieu !'
" This was our last interview. The caravan waited only for me and I set off, leaving Mecca never to re - enter it more
" I directed my course first to Egypt, where I inspected these celebrated pyramids which to the eye of the superficial observer only appear an enormous mass of marble and granite. I also got acquainted with the priests of the various temples, who had the complacence to introduce me into such places as no ordinary traveller ever entered before. The next three years of my progress were. spent in the principal kingdoms of Africa and Asia. Accompanied by Althotas, and the three attendants who continued in my service, I arrived in 1766 at the island of Rhodes, and there embarked on a French ship bound to Malta.
" Notwithstanding the general rule by which all Vessels coming from the Levant are obliged to enter quarantine, I obtained on the second day leave to go ashore. Pinto, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, gave us apartments in his palace, and I perfectly recollect that mine were near the laboratory.
" The first thing the Grand Master was pleased to do was to request the Chevalier d'Aquino, of the princely house of Caramanica, to bear me company and do me the honours of the island. It was here that I first assumed; European dress and with it the name of Count Cagliostro, nor was it a small matter of surprise to me to see Althotas appear in a clerical dress with the insignia of the Order of Malta.
" I have every reason to believe that the Grand Master Pinto was acquainted with my real origin. He often spoke to me of the Cherif and mentioned the city of Trebizond, but never would consent to enter into further particulars on the subject. Meanwhile he treated me with the utmost distinction, and assured me of very rapid preferment if I would consent to take the cross. But my taste for travelling and the predominant desire of practising medicine, induced me to decline an offer that was as generous as it was honourable.
" It was in the island of Malta that I had the misfortune of losing my best friend and master, the wisest as well as the most learned of men, the venerable Althotas. Some minutes before he expired, pressing my hand, he said in a feeble voice, ' My son, keep for ever before your eyes the fear of God and the love of your fellow - creatures; you will soon be convinced by experience of what you have been taught by me.'
" The spot where I had parted for ever from the friend who had been as a father to me, soon became odious. I begged leave of the Grand Master to quit the island in order to travel over Europe; he consented reluctantly, and the Chevalier d'Aquino was so obliging as to accompany me. Our first trip was to Sicily, from thence we went to the different islands of the Greek Archipelago, and returning, arrived at Naples, the birthplace of my companion.
" The Chevalier, owing to his private affairs, being obliged to undertake a private journey, I proceeded alone to Rome, provided with a letter of credit on the banking house of Signor Bellone. In the capital of the Christian world I resolved upon keeping the strictest incognito. One morning, as I was shut up in my apartment, endeavouring to improve myself in the Italian language, my valet de chambre introduced to my presence the secretary of Cardinal Orsini, who requested me to wait on his Eminence. I repaired at once to his palace and was received with the most flattering civility. The Cardinal often invited me to his table and procured me the acquaintance of several cardinals and Roman princes, amongst others, Cardinals York and Ganganelli, who was afterwards Pope Clement XIV. Pope Rezzonico, who then filled the papal chair, having expressed a desire of seeing me, I had the honour of frequent interviews with his Holiness.
"I was then (1770) in my twenty - second year, when by chance I met a young lady of quality, Seraphina Feliciani, whose budding charms kindled in my bosom a flame which sixteen years of marriage have only served to strengthen. It is that unfortunate woman, whom neither her virtues, her innocence, nor her quality of stranger could save from the hardships of a captivity as cruel as it is unmerited."
Cagliostro is reticent regarding his life between the period last dealt with, and the date of his coming to Paris. But although proved innocent he had through his very innocence offended so many persons in high places that he was banished, amidst shouts of laughter from everyone in the court. Even the judges were convulsed, but on his return from the court - house the mob cheered him heartily. If he had accomplished nothing else he had at least won the hearts of the populace by his kindness and the many acts of faithful service he had lavished upon them, and it was partly to his popularity, and partly to the violent hatred of the Court, that he owed the reception accorded to him. He was reunited to his wife, and shortly afterwards took his departure for London where he was received with considerable eclat. Here he addressed a letter to the people of France, which obtained wide circulation and predicted the French Revolution, the demolishment of the Bastille, and the downfall of the monarchy. Following upon this the Courier de L'Europe a French paper published in London, printed a so - called exposure of the real life of Cagliostro from beginning to end. From that moment, however, his descent was headlong; his reputation had Switzerland and Austria, he could find no rest for the sole of his foot. At last he came to Rome, whither Lorenza, his wife accompanied him. At first he was well received there, and even entertained by several cardinals, privately studying medicine, and living very quietly: but he made the grand mistake of attempting to further his masonic ideas within the bounds of the Papal States. Masonry was of course anathema to the Roman Church, and upon his attempting to found a Lodge in the Eternal City itself, he was arrested on the 27th September, 1789, by order of the Holy Inquisition, and imprisoned in the Castle of Saint Angelo. His examination occupied his inquisitors for no less than eighteen months, and he was sentenced to death on the 7th April, 1791. He was, however, recommended to mercy, and the Pope commuted his sentence to perpetual imprisonment in the Castle of Saint Angelo. On one occasion he made a desperate attempt to escape: requesting the services of a confessor he attempted to strangle the Brother sent to him, but the burly priest, whose habit he had intended to disguise himself in proved too strong for him, and he was quickly overpowered. After this he was imprisoned in the solitary Castle of San Leo near Montefeltro, the situation of which stronghold is one of the most singular in Europe, where he died and was interred in 1795. The manner of his death is absolutely unknown, but an official commissioned by Napoleon to visit the Italian prisons gives some account: of Cagliostro's quarters there.
"The galleries, " he reports, " which have been cut out of the solid rock, were divided into cells, and old dried - up cisterns had been converted into dungeons for the worst criminals, and further surrounded by high walls, so that the only possible egress, if escape was attempted, would be by a staircase cut in the rock and guarded night and day by sentinels.
" It was in one of these cisterns that the celebrated Cagliostro was interred in 1791. In recommending the Pope to commute the sentence of death, which the Inquisition had passed upon him, into perpetual imprisonment, the Holy Tribunal took care that the commutation should be equivalent to the death penalty. His only communication with mankind was when his jailers raised the trap to let food 'down to him. Here he languished for three years without air, movement, or intercourse with his fellow creatures. During the last months of his life his condition excited the pity of the governor, who had him removed from this dungeon to a cell on the level with the ground, where the curious, who obtain permission to visit the prison, may read on the walls various inscriptions and sentences traced there by the unhappy alchemist. The last bears the date of the 6th of March 1795."
The Countess Cagliostro was also ' sentenced by the Inquisition to imprisonment for life. She was confined in the Convent of St. Apollonia, a penitentiary for women in Rome, where it was rumoured that she died in 1794.
Cagliostro's manuscript volume entitled " Egyptian Freemasonry " fell with his other papers into the hands of the Inquisition, and was solemnly condemned by it as subversive to the interests of Christianity. It was publicly burned, but oddly enough the Inquisition set apart one of its brethren to write - - " concoct " is the better word - some kind of Life of Cagliostro and in this are given several valuable particulars concerning his Masonic methods as follows:
" It may be unnecessary to enter into some details concerning Egyptian Masonry. We shall extract our facts from a book compiled by himself, and now in our possession, by which he owns he was always directed in the exercise of his functions, and from which those regulations and instructions were copied, wherewith he enriched many mother lodges. In this treatise, which is written in French, he promises to conduct his disciples to perfection by means of physical and moral regeneration, to confer perpetual youth and beauty on them, and restore them to that state of innocence which they were deprived of by means of original sin. He asserts that Egyptian Masonry was first propagated by Enoch and Elias, but that since that time it has lost much of its purity and splendour. Common masonry, according to him, has degenerated into mere buffoonery, and women have of late been entirely excluded from its mysteries; but the time was now arrived when the Grand Copt was about to restore the glory of masonry, and allow its benefits to be participated by both sexes.
" The statutes of the order then follow in rotation, the division of the members into three distinct classes, the various signs by which they might discover each other, the officers who are to preside over and regulate the society, the stated times when the members are to assemble, the erection of a tribunal for deciding all differences that may arise between the several lodges or the particular members of each, and the various ceremonies which ought to take place at the admission of the candidates. In every part of this book the pious reader is disgusted with the sacrilege, the profanity, the superstition, and the idolatry with which it abounds - the invocations in the name of God, the prostrations, the adorations paid to the Grand Master, the fumigations, the incense, the exorcisms, the emblems of the Divine Triad, of the moon, of the sun, of the compass, of the square, and a thousand other scandalous particulars, with which the world is at present acquainted.
" The Grand Copt, or chief of the lodge, is compared - to God the Father. He is invoked upon every occasion; he regulates all the actions of the members and all the ceremonies of the lodge, and he is even supposed to have communication with angels and with the Divinity. In the exercise of many of the rites they are desired to repeat the Veni and the Te Deamnay, to such an excess of impiety are they enjoined, that in reciting the psalm Memento Domine David, the name of the Grand Master is always to be substituted for that of the King of Israel.
" People of all religions are admitted into the society of Egyptian Masonry - the Jew, the Calvinist, the Lutheran are to be received into it as well as the Catholic - provided they believe in the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, and have been previously allowed to participate in the mysteries of the common masonry. When men are admitted, they receive a pair of garters from the Grand Copt, as is usual in all lodges, for their mistresses; and when women are received into the society, they are presented by the Grand Mistress with a cockade, which they are desired to give to that man to whom they are most attached.
" We shall here recount the ceremonies made use of on admitting a female.
" The candidate having presented herself, the Grand Mistress (Madame Cagliostro generally presided in that capacity) breathed upon her face from the forehead to the chin, and then said, - I breathe upon you on purpose to inspire you with virtues which we possess, so that they may take root and flourish in your heart, I thus fortify your soul, I thus confirm you in the faith of your brethren and sisters, according to the engagements which you have contracted with them. We now admit you as a daughter of the Egyptian lodge. We order that you be acknowledged in that capacity by all the brethren and sisters of the Egyptian lodges, and that you enjoy with them the same prerogatives as with ourselves.'
" The Grand Master thus addresses the male candidate In virtue of the power which I have received from the Grand Copt, the founder of our order, and by the particular grace of God, I hereby confer upon you the honour of being admitted into our lodge in the name of Helios, Mene, Tetragrammaton.'
" In a book said to be printed at Paris in 1789, it is asserted that the last words were suggested to Cagliostro as sacred and cabalistical expressions by a pretended conjuror, who said that he was assisted by a spirit, and that this spirit was no other than a cabalistic Jew, who by means of the magical art had murdered his own father before the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
" Common masons have been accustomed to regard St. John as their patron, and to celebrate the festival of that saint. Cagliostro also adopted him as his protector, and it is not a little remarkable that he was imprisoned at Rome on the very festival of his patron. The reason for his veneration of this great prophet was, if we are to believe himself, the great similarity between the Apocalypse and the rites of his institution.
" We must here observe that when any of his disciples were admitted into the highest class, the following execrable ceremony took place. A young boy or girl, in the state of virgin innocence and purity, was procured, who was called the pupil, and to whom power was given over the seven spirits that surround the throne of their divinity and preside over the seven planets. Their names according to Cagliostro's book are Anael, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Zobiachel, and Anachiel. The pupil is then made use of as an intermediate agent between the spiritual and physical worlds, and being clothed in a long white robe, adorned with a red ribbon, and blue silk festoons, he is shut up in a little closet. From that place he gives responses to the Grand Master, and tells whether the spirits and Moses have agreed to receive the candidates into the highest class of Egyptian masons. . . .
" In his instructions to obtain the moral and physical regeneration which he had promised to his disciples, he is exceedingly careful to - give a minute description of the operations to which they have to submit. Those who are desirous of experiencing the moral regeneration are to retire from the world for the space of forty days, and to distribute their time into certain proportions. Six hours are to be employed in reflection, three in prayer to the Deity, nine in the holy operations of Egyptian Masonry, while the remaining period is to be dedicated to repose. At the end of the thirty - three days a visible communication is to take place between the patient and the seven primitive spirits, and on the morning of the fortieth day his soul will be inspired with divine knowledge, and his body be as pure as that of a new - born infant.
" To procure a physical regeneration, the patient is to retire into the country in the month of May, and during forty days is to live according to the most strict and austere rules, eating very little, and then only laxative and sanative herbs, and making use of no other drink than distilled water, or rain that has fallen in the course of the month. On the seventeenth day, after having let blood certain white drops are to be taken, six at night and six in the morning, increasing them two a day in progression. In three days more a small quantity of blood is again to be let from the arm before sunrise, and the patient is to retire to bed till the operation is completed. A grain of the panacea is then to be taken; this panacea is the same as that of which God created man when He first made him immortal. When this is swallowed the candidate loses his speech and his reflection for three entire days, and he is subject to frequent convulsions, struggles, and perspirations. Having recovered from this state, in which however, he experiences no pain whatever, on that day, he takes the third and last grain of the panacea, which causes him to fall into a profound and tranquil sleep; it is then that he loses his hair, his skip, and his teeth. These again are all reproduced in a few hours, and having become a new man, on the morning of the fortieth day he leaves his room, enjoying a complete rejuvenescence, by which he is enabled to live 5557 years, or to such time as he, of his own accord, may be desirous of going to the world of spirits."
To revert to the question of the researches of Mr. Trowbridge, it will appear to any unbiased reader of his work that he has proved that Cagliostro was not the same as Joseph Balsamo with whom his detractor, - have identified him. Balsamo was a Sicilian vagabond adventurer, and the statement that he and Cagliostro were one and the same person originally rests on the word of the editor of the Courier de I' Europe, a person of the lowest and most profligate habits, and upon an anonymous letter from Palermo to the Chief of the Paris police. Mr. Trowbridge sees in the circumstance that the names of the Countess Cagliostro and the wife of Balsamo were identical nothing but a mere coincidence, as the name Lorenza Feliciani is a very common one in Italy. He also proves that the testimony of the handwriting experts as to the remarkable similarity between the writing of Balsamo and Cagliostro is worthless, and states that nobody who had known Balsamo ever saw Cagliostro. He also points out that Balsamo, who had been in England in 1771, was " wanted " by the London police: how was it then that six years afterward they did not recognise him in Count Cagliostro who spent four months in a debtors' prison there, for no fault of his own ? The whole evidence against Cagliostro's character rests with the editor of the Courier de I'Europe and his Inquisition biographer, neither of whom can be credited for various good reasons. Again, it must be recollected that the narrative of the Inquisition biographer is supposed to be based upon the confessions of Cagliostro under torture in the Castle of St. Angelo. Neither was the damaging disclosure of the editor of the Courier de I'Europe at all topical, as he raked up matter which was at least fourteen years old, and of which he had no personal knowledge whatsoever. Mr. Trowbridge also proves that the dossier discovered in the French archives in 1783, which was supposed to embody the Countess Cagliostro's confessions regarding the career of her husband when she was imprisoned in the Salpetriere prison, is palpably a forgery, and he further disposes of the statements that Cagliostro lived on the immoral earnings of his wife.
It is distinctly no easy matter to get at the bedrock truth regarding Cagliostro or to form any just estimate of his true character. That he was vain, naturally pompous, fond of theatrical mystery, and of the popular side of occultism, is most probable. Another circumstance which stands out in relation to his personality is that he was vastly desirous of gaining cheap popularity. He was probably a little mad. On the other hand he was beneficent, and felt it his mission in the then king - ridden state of Europe to found Egyptian Masonry for the protection of society in general, and the middle and lower classes in particular. A born adventurer, he was by no means a rogue, as his lack of shrewdness has been proved on many occasions. There is small question either that the various Masonic lodges which he founded and which were patronised by persons of ample means, provided him with extensive funds, and it is a known fact that he was subsidised by several extremely wealthy men, who, themselves dissatisfied with the state of affairs in Europe, did not hesitate to place their riches at his disposal for the purpose of undermining the tyrannic powers which then wielded sway. There is reason to believe that he had in some way and at some period of his life acquired a certain working knowledge of practical occultism, and that he possessed certain elementary psychic powers of hypnotism and telepathy. His absurd account of his childhood is almost undoubtedly a plagiarism of that stated in the first manifesto to the public of the mysterious Rosicrucian Brotherhood, (q.v) as containing an account of the childhood of their Chief. But on the whole he is a mystery, and in all likelihood the clouds which surround his origin and earlier years will never be dispersed. It is probably better that this should be so, as although Cagliostro was by no means an exalted character, he was yet one of the most picturesque figures in the later history of Europe; and assuredly not the least aid to his picturesqueness is the obscurity in which his origin is involved. Consult - Cagliostro. W. R. H. Trowbridge; Cagliostro and Company. Franz Funck - Brentano; Waite, Lives of the Alchemysts.
Caiumarath, or Kaid - mords: According to the Persians, the first man. He lived a thousand years and reigned five hundred and sixty. He produced a tree, from the fruits of which were born the human race. The devil seduced and corrupted the first couple, who after their fall, dressed themselves in black garments and sadly awaited the resurrection, for they had introduced sin into the world.
Calmet, Com Augustin: A Benedictine of the congregation of Saint - Vannes, and one of the most diligent and active of his order, who died in 1757 at his abbey of Seasons. He was the author of a Dictionnaire de la Bible and of many well - known commentaries on the scriptures. But he is chiefly famous among occultists for his Dissertation, sur les apparitions des anges, des demons et des esprits, et sup les revenans et vampires de Hongyie, de Bohdme, de Moravie et de Sildsie. (Paris 1746, and 1751 - the latter being the best edition). It was translated into English in 11759, and is alluded to in the article " Vampire." The greatest faith in the supernatural (some might perhaps stigmatise it as credulity) marks the work. But he notices unfavourable theories equally with those which suit his hypotheses, and if he places too much credence in the classical authors, he is never dull. He became the butt of Voltaire, who wrote beneath his portrait in verse of questionable quality " Des oracles sacres que Dieu daigne, nous rendre Son travail assidu perça L'obscurité fit plus, il les crut avec simplicité Et fut, par ses vertus, digne do les entendre."
Case, Paul Foster: Paul Foster Case was born in Fairport, New York. His mother was a teacher and his father was the head librarian of the town library, in which Paul Case was literally born. For a man whose thirst for hidden knowledge was unquenchable, he could not have been born into more fortunate circumstances.
Paul learned to read at a very young age. By the age of four he was found pouring over "forbidden books" in the attic of his father's library. He was also found to have extraordinary musical talent at an early age, and at the age of three began training in piano and organ. At the age of nine, he was the organist at the Congregational Church in which his father was deacon.
At the age of seven, Case began correspondence with Rudyard Kipling, who verified the "fourth-dimensional" experiences Case was having as being not merely imaginary, but actual states of being. Kipling had similar experiences when composing his A.B.C. works, which depict a strangely altered future for humanity. At this early age, Case found that he had the ability to consciously manipulate his dreams.
At sixteen, Case met the occultist Claude Bragdon, as they had both donated their talents to a charity performance. It was in this meeting that Paul Case got his first "directive". Bragdon asked Case, "Where do you think the playing cards come from?" This simple question sparked an immediate search for the origins and uses of Tarot. Within a very short period of time, Case had collected every book and every set of Tarot Keys available. He spent years researching, studying, and meditating on these archetypal images.
Case described his experience at the time as definitely "guided" by an inner voice. In his view, the experience with Tarot had stimulated an "inner hearing", through which he was guided to the many attributes of Tarot which were published before he was 21 years old. Perhaps Eliphas Levi's statement on Tarot best summarized its influence on the young Paul Case: "As an erudite Kabbalistic book... A prisoner devoid of books, had he only a Tarot of which he knew how to make use, could in a few years acquire a universal science, and converse with unequaled doctrine and inexhaustible eloquence."
While in New York, Case was approached by Michael Whitty, the Praemonstrator of the Thoth-Hermes Temple of the Golden Dawn (Alpha et Omega). Whitty, having heard of Case's extensive knowledge of the Western Mystery Tradition and having read some of his published works, invited Case into the Order. Case naturally accepted the offer, and moved through the Outer Grades quickly. He was initiated into the Second Order on May 16, 1920, with the magical motto, Perseverantia. Just three weeks later, he was the Third Adept in the annual Corpus Christi ceremony.
He soon became known as the most knowledgeable occultist in the New York temple, and succeeded Michael Whitty as Praemonstrator within a year of his acceptance into the Second Order. Despite Case's attainments, he did have considerable difficulty with the system of Enochian Magic. Ultimately, he concluded that the Enochian system was demonic rather than angelic. His Order, the B.O.T.A., excludes all mention of Enochian from its curriculum.
Because of his quick advancement through the Grades of the Order, Case may have sparked some jealousy among the other Adepts. Moreover, others may have thought some of his teachings inappropriate. On July 18, 1921, Moina Mathers wrote Case regarding complaints she had received regarding some of his teachings. Apparently, Case had begun discussing the topic of sex magic, which at the time had no official place in the Order curriculum. Since no knowledge lectures exist on the subject, whether sex practices were ever taught in the Golden Dawn has been a long standing question. In her correspondence with Case, Moina wrote, "...I have seen the results of this superficial sex teaching in several Occult Societies as well as in individual cases. I have never met with one happy result."
But to Case, sexuality became an increasingly important subject. In his Book of Tokens, a collection of inspired meditations on the 22 Tarot Keys of the Major Arcana, Case comments on the sex function, "You must wholly alter your conception of sex in order to comprehend the Ancient Wisdom... It is the interior nervous organism, not the external organs, that is always meant in phallic symbolism, and the force that works through these interior centers is the Great Magical Agent, the divine serpent fire." In his works, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order and The Masonic Letter G, he writes of certain practices involving the redirection of the sexual force to the higher centers of the brain where experience of supersensory states of consciousness becomes possible.
Some members also complained about a personal relationship between Case and a soror, Lilli Geise. Case confessed the matter to Moina: "The Hierophant Ria and I were observed to exchange significant glances over the altar during the Mystic Repast... My conscience acquits me... Our relation to each other we submit to no other Judge than that Lord of Love and Justice whom we all adore." In time, Case married Geise, who died a few years later.
Perhaps Moina's correspondence also touched a sensitive area for Case. In her July 18th letter, she tells Case, "You evidently have reached a point in your mystical Way where there would appear to exist certain cross-roads. The artist in you, which I recognize, and with whom I deeply sympathize, would probably choose to learn the Truth through the joy and beauty of physical life." She continued, "You who have studied the Pantheons, do you know of that enchanting God, the Celtic Angus, the Ever Young? He who is sometimes called Lord of the Land of Heart's Desire?" Angus rescued Etain, the Moon, who had been turned into a golden fly. But Etain had to choose between bodily existence in the land of mortals and everlasting life. She continued still, "The artist in us may have lingered in that land for a moment. But you and I who would be teachers and pioneers in this Purgatorial World must be prepared before all the Gods to be the servants of the greatest of them all... the Osiris, the Christ, the God of the Sacrifice of the Self." Moina then asked Case to resign from his position as Praemonstrator.
Case resigned as Praemonstrator, responding to Moina, "...I have no desire to be a 'teacher and pioneer in this Purgatorial World.' Guidance seems to have removed me from the high place to which I have never really aspired. The relief is great." This seems odd coming from a man who would, in a few years, abandon his artistic endeavors to start his own occult school, the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.). Perhaps this struggle between his artistic soul and his mystical soul pre-existed his involvement with the Order, and maybe Moina knew this. Archives at the B.O.T.A. state that on one occasion years before he joined the Order, Case was approached by a stranger on the streets of Chicago who called him by name and told him many things about himself. "Your teacher is my teacher," the man told him. He told Case that he must choose between a life of material comfort as a musician and a life of suffering and renunciation as a vitally needed teacher of the Mysteries. The former would offer him "more of this world's goods than most"; the latter, important service to mankind and eternal life, and that, "In the end, you will not starve to death."
After Case was expelled from the Order, he pursued the creation of his own occult school, the School of Ageless Wisdom. This organization failed within a few years. However, he soon moved to Los Angeles, abandoning his lucrative career as a musician, and established the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.). Still in existence today, it has proven to be a successful correspondence course on Tarot.
Geise wrote to Moina that students from other temples were flocking to hear Case speak prior to his being expelled. Mrs. Elma Dame, The Imperatrix of the Philadelphia Temple, who resigned due to the numerous problems in the Order at the time, pointed to the need for a knowledgeable teacher in America. She wrote to Moina: "When you got rid of Mr. Case, you 'killed the goose that laid the golden egg.'" Dr. Pullen Burry, a former Order member, concluded that Case was the one to bring "the light of the old R.C. [Rosicrucian] teachings" into the light of Aquarian consciousness. Case's book, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order, stands as a classic Qabalistic interpretation of the Rosicrucian Fama Fraternitatis and Confessio.
The B.O.T.A. is active in the United States, and Case travels frequently on speaking engagements.