Pasqually, Martines de (ca. 1710–1774)
French Kabbalist, Mason, and mystic, and founder of the
Order of Elect Cohens. The date of his birth is not known definitely,
and even his nationality is a matter of uncertainty. It is
commonly supposed, however, that he was born about 1710
somewhere in the south of France, most likely Grenoble. Several
writers have maintained that his parents were Jewish, but this
theory has largely been dismissed.
It is said that from the outset he evinced a predilection for
mysticism in its various forms, while it is certain that in 1754,
at Montpellier, he founded an organization called the Scottish
Judges, most likely a lodge of speculative Freemasonry. It
failed, but around 1760 at Bordeaux he instituted a ceremonial
magic organization that combined elements of the Catholic
mass with any material from magic texts that he could gather.
The members of his order were styled cohens, Hebrew for
‘‘priests.’’
He propagated this Rite des élus Cohens (Order of Elect Cohens)
in several Masonic lodges of France, notably those of
Marseilles, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Paris. In 1767 he settled
in Paris, where he gathered around him many people ready to
pursue the magic rituals he proposed. In 1772 he left after he
heard that some property had been bequeathed to him on the
island of Haiti, and he hastened there with the intention of asserting
his rights; but he did not return to France, his death occurring
in 1774 at Port-au-Prince, the principal town in Haiti.
Pasqually is credited with having written a book, Traité de la réintegration
des etres, but this was not published until the end of
the nineteenth century. A rather extensive summary of the rituals
he proposed for the order were gathered and published by
René Le Forestier in 1928.
The rituals drew heavily upon the Kabala, which Pasqually
felt was the essence of true Judaism. The format, however, followed
one that would have been familiar to a pious Roman
Catholic. The members began the day with a reading of the office
of the Holy Spirit. Around ten in the evening, following a
time of prayer, the members entered a private ritual space
where a ritual diagram would be drawn on the floor. The invocation
would begin at midnight. Its purpose was to communicate
with what Pasqually termed the ‘‘Active and Intelligent
Cause’’ (God).
Members of the order were forbidden to consume blood, fat,
or kidneys of any animal, were to refrain from fornication, and
not indulge the senses.
Pasqually was succeeded as head of the order by his chief
disciple, J. B. Willermoz, but is largely remembered today because
of the work of a younger disciple, Louis Claude de SaintMartin,
who carried his work toward a mystical, rather than
magical, direction.
Sources
Le Forestier, René. La Franc-maconnerie occultiste au XVIII
siecle et l’ordre des Elus Coens. Paris Dorbon, 1928.
McIntosh, Christopher. Eliphas Levi and the French Occult Revival.
New York Samuel Weiser, 1974.
Pasqually, Martines de. Traité de la réintegration des etres.
Paris Chacorac, 1899.