Gérard Encausse (Papus)


Gérard Anaclet Vincent Encausse (1865-1916) – pseudonym ‘Papus’ – the Spanish-born French physician, hypnotist, and populariser of occultism, who founded the modern Martinist Order. His family moved to Paris when he was 4 years old, and he was educated there. As a young man, Encausse spent a great deal of time at the Bibliothèque Nationale studying the Kabbalah, occult tarot, magic and alchemy, and the writings of Eliphas Lévi. He joined the French Theosophical Society shortly after it was founded by Madame Blavatsky in 1884–1885, but he resigned soon after joining because he disliked the Society’s emphasis on Eastern occultism.

 Papus is primarily remembered as an author of books on magic, Qabalah (Kabbalah) and the Tarot, and as a prominent figure in the various occultist organizations and Parisian spiritualist and literary circles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Encausse’s pseudonym “Papus” was taken from Eliphas Lévi’s “Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana” (supplement to Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie) and means “physician.”

The definition of Kabbalah varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, and Occultist/western esoteric syncretic adaptations. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ein Sof (infinity) and the mortal and finite universe (God’s creation). It forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of the concepts and thereby attain spiritual realisation.

In 1888, Papus co-founded his own group, the Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Croix. That same year, he and his friend Lucien Chamuel founded the Librarie du Merveilleux and its monthly revue L’Initiation, which remained in publication until 1914.

Encausse was also a member of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn temple in Paris (joining in 1895), as well as Memphis-Misraim and probably other esoteric or para-masonic organizations, as well as being an author of several occult books. He was also a spiritual student of the French spiritualist healer, Anthelme Nizier Philippe, “Maître Philippe de Lyon”.

Despite his heavy involvement in occultism and occultist groups, Encausse also pursued more conventional academic studies at the University of Paris. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1894, after which he opened a relatively successful clinic in the rue Rodin.

In 1891, Papus formed an organization commonly known as the Order of the Martinists, which was based on two extinct Masonic Rites: the Rite of Elus-Cohens or Elected Priests of Martinez Paschalis, or de Pasqually (c.1700-1774); and the Rectified Rite of Saint-Martin of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (1743-1803). Papus claimed to have come into the possession of the original papers of de Pasqually and to have been given authority in the Rite of Saint-Martin by his friend Henri Viscount Delaage, who claimed that his maternal grandfather had been initiated into the order by Saint-Martin himself, and who had attempted to revive the order in 1887. The Martinist Order was to become a primary focus for Papus, and continues today as one of his most enduring legacies.

In 1893, Encausse was consecrated a bishop of l’Église Gnostique de France by Jules Doinel, who had founded this Church as an attempt to revive the Cathar religion in 1890. In 1895, Doinel abdicated as Primate of the French Gnostic Church, leaving control of the Church to a synod of three of his former bishops, one of whom was Encausse.

Encausse visited Russia three times, in 1901, 1905, and 1906, serving Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra both as physician and occult consultant. In October 1905, he allegedly conjured up the spirit of Alexander III, the Tsar Nicholas’s father, who prophesied that the Tsar would meet his downfall at the hands of revolutionaries. During their later correspondence, he warned them a number of times against the influence of Rasputin. Encausse’s followers allege that he informed the Tsar that he would be able to magically avert Alexander’s prophesy so long as Encausse was alive; Nicholas kept his hold on the throne of Russia until 141 days after Papus’s death.

Encausse opposed Masonry as being atheistic, in contrast to the Esoteric Christianity of the Gnostic Church, the Kabbalist Order of the Rose Cross and the Martinist Order. Despite this, he organized what was announced as an “International Masonic Conference” in Paris on June 24, 1908, and at this conference he received a patent from Theodor Reuss to establish a “Supreme Grand Council General of the Unified Rites of Antient and Primitive Masonry for the Grand Orient of France and its Dependencies at Paris.” When John Yarker died in 1913, Papus was elected as his successor to the office of Grand Hierophant (international head) of the Antient and Primitive Rites of Memphis and Mizraim.

When World War I broke out, Papus joined the French army medical corps. While working in a military hospital, he contracted tuberculosis and died in 1916, aged 51.

His works include:

Traité élementaire de science occulte (1888)
Le tarot des bohémiens (1889)
Traité méthodique de science occulte (1891)
Le tarot divinatoire (1909)
Traité méthodique de magie pratique (1932)
Le science des nombres (1934)
Elementary Treaty of Occult Science (1889)
Considerations on the Phenomena of Spiritualism (1890)
Methodical Treaty of Occult Sciences (1891)
Absolute Key to Occult Science: The Tarot of the Bohemians (1892)
The Science of the Magi and Its Theoretical and Practical Applications (1892)
Elementary Treaty of Practical Magic (1893)
Martines de Pasqually / His life – His Theurgic Practices – His Work His Disciples (1895)
Occultism and Spiritualism (1902)
Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin / His life – His Theurgic Path – His
Works – His disciples (1902)
The Kabbalah: Secret Tradition of the West (1903)
Science of the Magi and Its Theoretical and Practical Applications (1905)
Essay of Synthetic Physiology (1909)
First Elements of Astrosophy (1910)
First Elements of Human Morphology (1912)