The Dark Side of Enlightenment Part 4

Wrong Count and Grand Cophta

The dazzling life of Giuseppe Balsamo (1743–1795)

(Published in GralsWelt 69/2012)

In the shadow of the "Enlightenment", ie the "Age of Reason" that began in the 17th century, numerous secret doctrines and occult societies developed that are still known today. The names of some colorful personalities are also associated with that important turning point in European intellectual history. One of them is Giuseppe Balsamo (1743–1795), an Italian alchemist and impostor who achieved fame under the name of Alessandro Cagliostro and found entry into several literary works. But as is so often the case, literary fantasies are better remembered than sober historical facts ...

Con artists and petty criminals

Giuseppe Balsamo is considered the most famous impostor of all time. He grew up in the Albergheria, a poor neighborhood in Palermo. His father was a businessman or craftsman who went bankrupt. Shrewd crooks from all Mediterranean countries met in the Albergheria. This was an ideal object lesson for a talented little crook.

Cagliostro's inauguration
The alleged Count Cagliostro described his initiation in a London Masonic lodge as follows: “After taking an oath of secrecy in the Esperance box above a pub in Soho, he was blindfolded. A rope was tied around his waist and pulleys creaked as he was pulled up to the ceiling. Suddenly he fell to the ground. The blindfold was removed and he saw a pistol being loaded with powder and a bullet. He was then blindfolded again. He was handed the pistol and ordered to shoot himself in the head as a demonstration of obedience. When he hesitated, the others yelled at him and called him a coward. He pulled the trigger, heard an explosion, felt a thud on the side of his head. He had thought he was going to die and was now an initiate.  (4, p. 218).

Giuseppe entered the Caltagirone monastery at a very young age. Here, as an assistant to the monastery pharmacist, he was able to acquire some pharmacological knowledge that he later benefited from during his “miracle cures”. Presumably he made his first contacts with occultism here. Because behind the monastery walls there were ideal conditions for alchemical, astrological or spiritualistic experiments.

Witchcraft, necromancy, fortune telling and sorcery are strictly forbidden in the Bible, but neither did King Saul let himself be deterred from questioning the witch of En-Dor (1. Sam. 28: 7), nor did Christian clergy, abbots and bishops shy away from them and popes refrain from such magical practices.

In the long run, however, a monastery was not the right field of activity for the adventurous young Sicilian. Giuseppe had to leave it because of misconduct. His family didn't want to have anything to do with him either. His education remains modest, and even his mother tongue is not free of dialect. Allegedly he spoke a barely understandable gibberish, which well-meaning people later traced back to his supposedly exotic origin - one suspected in him an Arab, Armenian, Jew or Portuguese. (8, p. 146).

From now on Giuseppe Balsamo led a dissolute life. With great skill he planned frauds, thieves, swindles. Because of his ingenuity, he could not be convicted for a long time.

Impressions of Cagliostro's box work
“My patience is over. Every day there are new follies and new scams. Meanwhile the holy and blessed philosopher's stone is being made - which is not a very short operation, for it announces to us that each passage should take six to eight weeks - meanwhile Cagliostro dictates chemical operations to amuse the lodge; z. E. To make the quintessential wine when you dig it in dung; or the quintessence of gold when quenched in Spiritus Vini and then calcined with Mercury; or corals and pearls quintessential; etc. In the same way he wants to teach us the properties of all oils, talc oil, and even the art of making pearls, which is already in little Albertus, of which I don't believe a word. Its Corinthian ore is nothing but a somewhat supple copper, and its white metal a tin, which all Chymists know. His means make the iron tough and pliable, and his manner of hardening it is the common one known to all cutlers; his water, with which he tries to gild the iron, hardly gives him a bad copper color, and his medicines have not yet produced any remarkable cure; for with many they have had no effect at all; and I have not yet heard any miracles from his washing water for the skin of the women to whom he gave it. "
From the memories of Charlotte Elisabeth Konstantia von der Recke. She was a member of an occult lodge founded by Cagliostro in Mitau in 1779. (7, p. 160).

Master of the secret sciences 

The pavement in Palermo got too hot for the petty criminal Giuseppe. He fled Sicily and traveled to Greece, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Rhodes. Here he was supposedly introduced to the secret sciences by a Greek named Althos. This pseudo-knowledge was enough for our adventurer to know as "Count Alessandro Cagliostro" to impress the Grand Master of the Order of Malta in Malta, who was interested in alchemy. So the false count received letters of recommendation from the grand master of a recognized, old knightly order. These recommendations opened the doors to noble houses in Rome and Naples for him. In Rome, Cagliostro married the very young Lorenza Feliciani, a southern beauty. She quickly learned the trickery trade, called herself "Seraphina, the mystical daughter of magic" (10, p. 520) and as an unscrupulous confidante was the ideal complement for the cheeky fraudster.

It went on to London and Paris. The false count was received in the best houses and admired by the ladies. Those who believe in good faith have love potions, youth elixirs, and beauty mixtures turned on for a lot of money. He also acted as a high degree Freemason[i] and lodge founder, as a miracle healer and gold maker. He practiced necromancy and spiritualistic experiments. Or he lectured on the occult sciences, which he had studied in what was supposed to be hundreds of years of life.

But sooner or later jewelry that had mysteriously disappeared was always missing in his environment, or Cagliostro's tricks were exposed. Then he received "instructions from the superiors of his order" ordering him to go to another city ...

This modern image of an unscrupulous quack and deceiver is not fully shared by esotericists. Some believe that Cagliostro was well educated and even had prophetic powers. He allegedly predicted the destruction of the Bastille to the exact day (4, p. 560).

"World conspiracy" - then and now
Monotheistic religions make a universal claim. So it was only logical that Islam wanted to conquer the world. His military successes in the 7th and 8th centuries were extremely impressive, and the further spread of the Prophet's religion could only be contained with great difficulty. (Cf. “Brief, terse, curious” page 369 “How the liquid fire saved Christianity”).
In the Middle Ages it was the Catholic Church that strived for world domination. The Reformation suffered a serious setback and ultimately failed. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Jesuits wanted to turn back the wheel of history in the course of the Counter-Reformation, not always with fair, legitimate means.
Then Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians were suspected of starting a secret conspiracy. This suspicion was supported, for example, by the completely unrealistic one called for by the Rosicrucians "General and General Reformation of the whole, wide world."
Agnostics, atheists, enlighteners, free thinkers, natural philosophers, writers, philosophers, revolutionaries, theologians and people of reason all met in the boxes of the Baroque era. They defied social rules and class barriers, called for the abolition of religions and monarchies. Should such ideas prevail, the churches had to fear for their influence, the monarchs for the continuation of their rule.
When anti-Semitism revived in the 19th century, an anti-Jewish world conspiracy theory emerged that is still advocated by some right-wing circles today. Sometimes I wonder if such conspiracy theories are not being purposefully disseminated to distract from actual approaches to ruling the world.
In the 20th century the "World revolution" in the program of the communists. As a result of the Second World War, communism expanded dramatically and, for example, dominated almost all of Eastern Europe. After China had also become communist (1949), a further spread of communism over most of Africa, Asia, South and Central America no longer seemed impossible. During the “Cold War” the main concern of the West was the containment of communism until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reorientation of Chinese politics ended the era of East-West confrontation.
Today one can presume the beginnings of the "world conspiracy", the striving for "world domination", probably less in the lodges than in the unconditional, worldwide implementation of the capitalist system, as it is expressed for example in the "Consensus of Washington". (See. "The start of the 21st century"). In Islam, too, there are fundamentalist groups who want to establish Islamic “states of God” worldwide. Such groups are, for example, the Salafists (Egypt and Arabia), the Wahabites (Saudi Arabia), the Muslim brothers (Egypt), al Qaeda and the Taliban, all of whom share a similar ideology.

A collar brings fame

In Paris, Cagliostro sat in the Bastille because of his involvement in the collar affair, a scheming courtly farce. A Comtesse de la Motte had induced Cardinal Louis de Rohan to buy a particularly valuable necklace for Queen Marie Antoinette. The queen, however, did not know about the deal and never received the piece of jewelry. This confused court intrigue, in which well-known personalities were involved, caused a sensation on the eve of the French Revolution. The Queen's reputation, already tarnished by her extravagance, was completely ruined. Alexandre Dumas dedicated a novel (3) to this cabal, which does not stand out for its historical correctness, but offers an easily legible, frivolous picture of the times.

In the Bastille, Cagliostro wrote a flaming, cheeky defense which - with the support of influential friends - led to an acquittal. With that he had become famous, cheered by the people, a favorite of the gazettes. And he provided a living example of their mystical horror stories to the writers of Kolporta novels.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was inspired by Cagliostro for his comedy “The Great Cophta”. Großkophta (or Großkoptha) is the title that Cagliostro gave to the head of his "Egyptian masonry", sometimes referring to an "unknown superior", sometimes to himself. With Goethe, the great cophta poses as the head of a secret society and thus impresses his gullible audience.

who Alexandre Dumas has read, will also hardly have forgotten it: the "Großkophta" from the Orient, who came to destroy the French kingdom with the help of the Freemasons.

Friedrich von Schiller began with the exciting novel "The ghost seer"which he broke off after the first few chapters. It was supposed to be an enlightening novel; but readers wanted to hear of occult follies and magical practices, not the sober exposure of a swindler.

Inglorious end in prison

Last will Alessandro Cagliostro the church put down the craft. In 1789 he was arrested as a heretic in Rome, sentenced to death and finally pardoned to life imprisonment. Enlightened philosophers did not succeed in exposing him. But a medieval jurisdiction, the Inquisition, withdrew him from circulation with an indictment stemming from the Middle Ages. Cagliostro died in the prison of San Leo near San Marino. Nobody knows for sure whether he was strangled here by a prison guard or died of the syphilis he allegedly contracted in Spain. -

Cagliostro undoubtedly contributed to the development of the well-known conspiracy theories.
For example, when asked by the Roman Inquisition, he freely gave information about his “Masonic experiences”. A book was presented to him in Frankfurt, “The contents of which began with the words: We Grand Masters of the Templars, etc. Then there was an oath, which was formulated in terrible expressions, which I can no longer remember, and which contained the obligation to exterminate all despotic monarchs. This formula was written in blood ... The signatures indicated the names of the twelve grand masters of the Illuminati " (11).

By publishing such statements, the Catholic Church, with her still significant authority, contributed to the demonization of the secret societies. The time is not long ago when the walls of the sacraments were forbidden. In Sweden or Spain, they even faced the death penalty at times.

If you believe Cagliostro, then the Freemasons, but especially the Bavarian Illuminati, were an international group of conspirators who had set themselves the goal of destroying the traditional forms of rule (11). But before an inquisition tribunal, under threat of torture, it was advisable to be cooperative and say what the judges wanted to hear. Cagliostro's statements are to be assessed accordingly. But not a few baroque people believed in such rumors. These formed the basis for innumerable, more or less fantastic novels and stories - and long after Cagliostro's death they cast a spell over people.

(1) Casanova Giovanni Giacomo, Memoiren, Goldmann, Munich 1960.
(2) Dumas Alexandre, Joseph Balsamo, Structure of Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 2000.
(3) Dumas Alexandre, The Queen's Collar, Structure Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 2000.
(4) Black Jonathan, The Secret History of the World, Goldmann, Munich 2008.
(5) Freller Thomas, Cagliostro, Sutten Verlag, Erfurt 2001.
(6) Hagl Siegfried, Chaff and Wheat, Gralsverlag, Hart-Purgstall 2003.
(7) Kiefer Klaus H., Cagliostro. Enlightenment and occult documents. CH Beck, Munich 1991.
(8) Kiefer Klaus H., Die famose Hexen-Epoche, Oldenbourg, Munich 2004.
(9) McCalman Iain, The Last Alchemist, Insel, Frankfurt 2004.
(10) Zierer Otto, Kultur- und Sittenspiegel Volume III, Prisma, Gütersloh o. J.
www ...
Alessandro Cagliostro:
http: //de.wikipedia .org / wiki / Alessandro_Cagliostro.
The collar affair around Marie Antoinette:

Final grade:
Normal or "blue" (according to the color of the apron) Freemasonry has three degrees (apprentice, journeyman, master). The mystical, "red" or high-grade masonry comprises 33 or more degrees (for more information see bibliography, (6).