Saint Germain, Comte de (ca. 1710–ca. 1780)
One of the most celebrated mystic adventurers in history.
Like Cagliostro and others of his kind, little is known concerning
Saint Germain’s origin, but there is reason to believe that
he was a Portuguese Jew. There were claims that he was of royal
birth, but these have never been substantiated.
It is fairly certain that he was an accomplished spy, for he
resided at many European courts, spoke and wrote various languages,
including Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese,
French, German, English, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish,
and was even sent upon diplomatic missions by Louis XV. Horace
Walpole mentioned him being in London about 1743 and
being arrested as a Jacobite spy, but later being released.
Walpole wrote ‘‘He is called an Italian, a Spaniard, a Pole,
a somebody who married a great fortune in Mexico and ran
away with her jewels to Constantinople, a priest, a fiddler, a vast
nobleman. The Prince of Wales has had unsatiated curiosity
about him, but in vain. However, nothing has been made out
against him; he is released, and, what convinces me he is not
a gentleman, stays here, and talks of his being taken up as a
Saint Germain claimed to have lived for centuries and to
have known Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and many other
persons of antiquity. Although regarded as a charlatan, the accomplishments
upon which he based his reputation were in
many ways real and considerable. He was alluded to by Baron
Friedrich Melchior Grimm as the most capable and able man
he had ever known. He was a composer of music and a capable
performer on the violin.
This was especially the case regarding chemistry (or alchemy),
a science in which he was certainly adept. He claimed to
have a secret for removing the flaws from diamonds, to be able
to transmute metals, and to possess the secret of the elixir of
Five years after this London experience, Saint Germain attached
himself to the court of Louis XV, where he exercised
considerable influence over the monarch and was employed on
several secret missions. He was much sought after and discussed,
since at this time Europe was fascinated by the occult,
and Saint Germain combined mystical conversation with a
pleasing, flippant character, he was extremely popular. But he
ruined his chances at the French court by interfering in a dispute
between Austria and France, and he was forced to leave
for England.
He resided in London for one or two years, but in 1762 was
in St. Petersburg, where he is said to have assisted in the conspiracy
that placed Catherine II on the Russian throne. After
this he traveled in Germany, where he was reported in the
Memoirs of Cagliostro to have become the founder of Freemasonry,
and to have initiated Cagliostro into that rite. If Cagliostro’s
account can be credited, Saint Germain set about the business
with remarkable splendor and bombast, posing as a ‘‘deity’’ and
behaving in a manner calculated to delight pseudo-mystics of
the age.
Saint Germain died at Schleswig, Germany, somewhere between
the years 1780 and 1785, but the exact date of his death
and its circumstances are unknown.
Assessing Saint Germain’s Career
It would be difficult to say whether Saint Germain really possessed
genuine occult power. A great many people of his own
time thoroughly believed in him, but we must also remember
the credulous nature of the age in which he flourished. It has
been said that eighteenth-century Europe was skeptical regarding
everything except occultism and its professors.
Saint Germain possessed a magnificent collection of precious
stones, which some considered to be artificial, but others
believed to be genuine. He presented Louis XV with a diamond
worth 10,000 livres (a livre is an old French monetary unit).
All sorts of stories were in circulation concerning Saint Germain.
One old lady professed to have encountered him at Venice
fifty years before, posing as a man of sixty, and even his valet
was supposed to have discovered the secret of immortality. On
one occasion a visitor teased this man, asking if he had been
present at the marriage of Cana in Galilee. ‘‘You forget, sir,’’
was the reply, ‘‘I have only been in the Comte’s service a century.’’
Legend has it that Saint Germain made various appearances
after his death. He is said to have appeared to Marie Antoinette
and to other individuals during the French Revolution. He was
also believed to have been one of the Rosicrucians, from whom
he obtained his occult knowledge.
The deathless count was also resurrected in modern times
by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky as one of the masters of the
Great White Brotherhood, and he thus became an important
figure in all of the more than a hundred theosophical splinter
groups now active. Guy W. Ballard claimed that Saint Germain
had appeared to him at Mt. Shasta, California, and from Saint
Germain’s teachings, Ballard built the I Am Movement. The
centrality of Saint Germain has been common to all ‘‘I Am’’-
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Saint Germain, Comte de
related groups such as the Bridge to Spiritual Freedom and the
Church Universal and Triumphant. Within the New Age
movement, a number of psychics have emerged channeling an
entity called Saint Germain. In the 1970s, author Chelsea
Quinn Yarbro drew on the Saint Germain story to begin production
of a series of novels and short stories that describe the
mysterious count as a vampire. The novels helped begin the
current popular interest in the vampire as hero.
Cooper-Oakley, Isabel. The Comte de Saint-Germain. New
York S. Weiser, 1970.
King, Godfre Ray [Guy Ballard]. Unveiled Mysteries. Chicago
Saint Germain Press, 1934.
Lang, Andrew. Historical Mysteries. London Smith, Elder,
Prophet, Elizabeth Clare. Saint Germain on Prophecy. Livingston,
Mont. Summit University Press, 1986.
Prophet, Mark L., and Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Saint Germain
on Alchemy. Livingston, N.Y. Summit University Press,
Seligmann, Kurt. Magic, Supernaturalism, and Religion. New
York Pantheon Press, 1971.
Wraxall, Lascelles. Remarkable Adventurers and Unrevealed
Mysteries. 2 vols. London, 1863.
Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn. The Vampire Stories of Chelsea Quinn
Yarbro. White Rock, BC Transylvania Press, 1994.

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