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Marconis de Nègre, Jacques-Étienne

(695 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Marconis de Nègre, Jacques-Étienne, * 30 Jan 1795 (Montauban (Tarn et Garonne)), † 21 Jan 1868 (Paris) The founder of the “Egyptian” masonic rite of Memphis (1838) was also one of the first theoreticians and employers of the word ésotérisme (→ esotericism). His family seems to have been marked by the double origin reflected in his name; his father Gabriel-Matthieu Marconis is said to have been an Italian officer in Napoleon's army in Egypt, while the patronym “de Nègre” is current in South/West France. This was the region where Marco…

Politics and Esotericism

(2,318 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
The difficulties inherent in the potentially unlimited field of politics, combined with the complexity of the definition of → esotericism, requires a definition of the method of approach used here. It includes both a reflection on institutions from the point of view of political philosophy, which opens up the question of the legal status of esoteric groups, and an anthropology of politics including its fields of representation and their variations in space and time. Another serious difficulty li…

Ragon de Bettignies, Jean-Marie

(595 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Ragon de Bettignies, Jean-Marie (Jean-Marie de Venise, Comte Marie de Venise), * 1781 (Bray-sur-Seine (Seine et Marne)), † 1866 (Paris) The author of Tuileur général de la Franc-maçonnerie (General Tyler of Freemasonry, 1861), like F.-T.-B. Clavel (1789-1852) or Thory (1759-1827), was a living memorial of French → Freemasonry from its reconstitution after the Empire up to its secular development in the second half of the 19th century. Ragon's passage through fringe-masonic organizations with occultist tendencies, such as …

Lévi, Éliphas

(2,403 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Lévi, Éliphas (ps. of Alphonse Louis Constant), * 8 Feb 1810 (Paris), † 31 May 1875 (Paris) The founder, and one of the most influential authors, of French occultism. The son of an artisan of the Saint-Sulpice quarter of Paris, and having lost his father at an early age, Constant was admitted to the seminary on a scholarship, his mother hoping to give him access to a good social position through the Catholic Church. His education at Saint-Sulpice deeply affected him, notably the teaching of the Abbé Frère-Colonn…

Péladan, Joseph-Aimé (Joséphin)

(785 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Péladan, Joseph-Aimé (Joséphin), 28 Mar 1858 (Lyon (Rhône)), † 27 Jun 1918 (Neuilly-sur-Seine) Descending from a Protestant family of the Cévennes that had converted to Catholicism, Joséphin grew up in Lyons in the zealous atmosphere of recent converts. His father, Louis-Adrien (1815-1890) was a publicist in the legitimist newspapers, specializing in the interpretation of prophecies that linked the return of the king, the Grand Monarque, to the secret of the end of time. His writing of a rejoinder to Renan's (1823-1893) Life of Jesus earned him a papal decoration and the right…

Milosz, Oscar Vladislas

(508 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Milosz, Oscar Vladislas, * 28.5.1877 (Czercia, Lithuania (15.5 according to the Julian calendar then in use)), † 2 Mar 1939 (Fontainebleau (Seine et Marne)) On his father's side Milosz belonged to the Baltic landed aristocracy, the family property being situated in a region annexed by Russia. His father, violent and unbalanced in character, had led an adventurous life culminating in marriage with a Polish Jew, Marie Rosalie Rosenthal, who was rejected out of anti-Semitism by the entire family and locality. His mother c…

Lacuria, Paul-François-Gaspard

(638 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Lacuria, Abbé Paul-François-Gaspard, * 6 Jan 1806 (Lyon (Rhône)), † 3 Mar 1890 (Oullins (Rhône)) The third of six children of a couple of goldsmithery and jewelry workers, Paul was educated at the seminary of Oullins. He enrolled in 1826, in the company of Charles Ozanam (1804-1888?), at the moment when death struck the majority of his family. After teaching in the “experimental” colleges of Saint-Nizier and Oullins, near Lyon, of which Lacuria was co-founder, he was ordained priest in 1836. While at the semin…

Schuré, Edouard

(754 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Schuré, Edouard, * 21 Jan 1841 (Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin)), † 7 Apr 1928 (Paris) Schuré came from the Lutheran Protestant bourgeoisie of Strasbourg, his mother being the daughter of a university professor and the granddaughter of a pastor. His education, in French and German, was thorough but austere and conventional. Having passed through the faculty of Law, he traveled from one university to another, as customary in his days; thus he spent some time in Heidelberg, Bonn, Berlin, and Munich. He was a great admirer of → Goethe and Nietzsche, with whom he exchanged letters (a chapter of Précurseu…

Sédir, Paul

(496 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Sédir, Paul (ps. of Yvon Le Loup), * 1 Jan 1871 (Dinan), † 3 Feb 1926 (Paris) This Breton, rather gauche in appearance and fragile in health, was employed in a bank. He had had no special intellectual education before meeting → Papus (Gérard Encausse) in 1889 at the occultist Chamuel's bookshop La Librarie du Merveilleux. At the time, Papus was running a vast network of periodicals, esoteric teaching, and initiatic institutions, in a half-learned, half-social enterprise in which Le Loup (whose pseudonym Sédir is an anagram of désir, from → Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin's homme de désir, “ma…

Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, Joseph Alexandre

(768 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, Joseph Alexandre, * 26 Mar 1842 (Paris), † 6 Feb 1909 (Pau (Basses-Pyrénées)) The name of “synarchy” given to the synthesis of all human knowledge, as dreamed of by Saint-Yves, played an extraordinary role within the myth of conspiracy that flourished around World War II, bearing no relationship to its author's intentions. Saint-Yves d'Alveydre's reputation was solidly established in the Parisian world after an adventurous life, followed by a written oeuvre that was widely recognized. Th…


(1,623 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Papus, (ps. of Gérard-Anaclet-Vincent Encausse), * 13 Jul 1865 (La Corogne (Spain)), † 25 Jan 1916 (Paris) His father Louis, a self-taught man originally from the South of France, had married a Spanish woman, Iñes Perrez-Vierra, and at the time of Gérard's birth was trying to sell a medical apparatus of his own invention to the physicians of the Basque region: the “Encausse Generator”, a bath allowing the cutaneous absorption of medicaments. A lack of success impelled Encausse Sr. to settle in Paris, near Montma…

Schwaller, René Adolphe

(818 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Schwaller, René Adolphe (called de Lubicz; pseudonym Aor), * 31 Jan 1887 (Asnières (France)), † 5 Jan 1961 (Grasse (France)) This occultist writer, Egyptologist, and founder of spiritual brotherhoods was of Alsatian origin, his pharmacist-chemist father having set up practice in Strasbourg. René aspired to be a painter and was a student in Henri Matisse's atelier in Paris. Under the pseudonym of “Aor” he was an active member of the → Theosophical Society, and it was at a lecture in the Adyar Hall of the Paris Theos…

Barlet, François-Charles

(539 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Barlet, François-Charles (ps. of Albert Faucheux), * 12 Jan 1838 (Paris), † 24 Jan 1921 (Paris) A civil servant employed in the Registry, after law studies required by his father (librarian at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal), Albert Faucheux found in occultism [→ occult/occultism] the compensation for the scientific study he had been denied. First posted in Corsica, where he spent his free time in botanical studies, he then moved near Paris, where initiatic societies were flourishing in the 1880s, and concluded …


(1,938 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Card games in general and tarot cards in particular, like children's and adult' games, make a particularly strong appeal to the symbolic → imagination. Whereas the standard pack of cards has been able to serve as a tool for divination [→ Divinatory Arts] mainly by combining the interpretation of signs with chance procedures, tarot cards have added to this function the desire to tap the secrets of the gods, by including a system of references and symbolic connections of an esoteric type, correlat…

Guaïta, Stanislas de

(757 words)

Author(s): Laurant, Jean-Pierre
Guaïta, Stanislas, Marquis de, * 6 Apr 1861 (Alteville (Moselle)), † 19 Jan 1897 (Alteville) The descendant of a noble Catholic Italian family settled at the Château d'Alteville in imperial Lorraine, young Stanislas was educated at the religious boarding-school of la Malgrange, near Nancy. Here in 1878-1879 he discovered literature, in the company of the future novelists Maurice Barrès (1862-1923) and Paul Adam (1862-1920), as well as another writer, Albert de Pouvourville (1861-1940), who holds an important p…