Martinism in XX

Opening of the Martinist Order in the Russian Empire

The emergence of Martinism in the modern sense of the word, the Russian Empire is obliged to Papus, who visited St. Petersburg in 1900, where he gave public lectures. He managed to interest the Grand Dukes Nikolai Nikolaevich and Pyotr Nikolaevich, Grand Duchess Milica Nikolaevna and Anastasia Nikolaevna. As a result, Papus’ “spiritual teacher” Philippe Nizier was invited to St. Petersburg, who met with the Russian Emperor on September 20, 1901, thanks to the patronage of the Grand Dukes and Duchesses. The legend about the creation of a Martinist lodge called “The Cross and the Star” dates back to the same time, to which Nizier personally initiated Nicholas II, although according to another version, this lodge existed from 1910 to 1916.

Papus’ arrival in Russia in 1900 was not the only one. In particular, he also came in 1905-1906, and around this period, V. V. Muravyov-Amursky became the representative of the Martinist Order in Russia, who was soon found by P. M. Kaznacheev. Muravyov-Amursky was looking for people who were ready to join the Order, and Kaznacheev had recently met one of the last members of the Order of the Golden and Rose Cross, V. S. Arseniev. The Martinist activity of Muravyov-Amursky and his assistant M.K. Isaev was ineffective.

The full development of Martinism in the Russian Empire became possible thanks to the activities of Cheslav Iosifovich Chinsky, a well-known magnetizer and hypnotist. Acquainted in Paris with Papus, he joined his Hermetic School, and then became a Martinist under the name Punar Bhava. On May 2, 1910, he was appointed Sovereign Delegate of the Martinist Order for the Russian Empire.

Although Chinsky wrote various works on the occult theme, they can hardly be called as popular as G. O. Mebes’s (after initiation – Butatar) “Course of the Encyclopedia of Occultism”, with whom he met in 1910. Soon the first Martinist lodge in Russia opens – “St. Apollonius of Tyana”. Martinists in Russia began to actively develop: new members of the Order were trained, since 1909 the magazine Isis was published (published until 1916), the name of which intersected with a similar magazine in France – Le Voile d’Isis, founded in 1890 . The vigorous activity of the Russian Martinists attracted the attention of the radical public. Due to the pressure of the Black Hundred Orthodox Union of Michael the Archangel, Mebes had to read all his lectures in the presence of the police. The attacks on Mebes in the press are also indicative.

According to Mebes himself, he came to the Martinist Order in 1910 with an already fully developed esoteric worldview and already at the beginning of 1911, we quote further: “Despite the fact that the Higher Hermetic School of Paris gave me an honorary diploma for the degree of Doctor of Hermeticism and the very honorable and trusting treatment of me by von Chinsky, I unofficially leave the Order, dissatisfied with the superficial attitude towards science and tradition of the majority of the members of the Order, its press, as well as periodicals of friendly Parisian Kabbalistic Order of the Cross+Rose”.

Since the summer of 1912, the St. Petersburg Lodge of Mebes began its independent activity, independent of Paris. Mebes creates an independent Russian Supreme Council, begins to modify the rituals. In the words of Mebes himself: “At the end of 1912 or at the beginning of 1913, I officially informed Papus that I categorically affirm not only my actual, but also my formal autonomy, and I ask that this be proclaimed in print, which is done by the journal Initiation, though in very soft and respectful to me form, but still categorical. This met with disapproval from Kaznacheev and Chinsky, as a result, Papus transferred control of the Martinists in the Russian Empire to brother Ennoüs (Kaznacheev), who, taking advantage of the opportunity, established – headed by S. K. Markotun (at the initiation he received the name Narcissus) – a lodge “St. Apostle Andrew” in Kyiv. As a result, Mebes excludes Ennoüs from his own Supreme Council.

In turn, the independent organization of Mebes had a more ornate fate. In late 1912 – early 1913, after the final break with Moscow and Paris, in the St. Petersburg lodge “St. Apollonius of Tyana” Mebes creates, in his own words, “an Autonomous Regime of ‘Russian obedience’ (the term ‘Russian’ after the October Revolution was replaced by the term ‘Eastern’; both terms actually meant ‘independent of Paris’)”.

Despite Mebes’s attempts to build his own system, the Bolshevik Revolt put an end to everything. After that, not the imperial, but the Soviet authorities attempted to repress Mebes and his circle. In 1925-1926. B. V. Astromov (Kirichenko) and S. V. Polisadov tried to cooperate with the OGPU under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, but were arrested. During numerous interrogations, they told about the people they knew, which led to the arrest of Mebes. During the interrogation, he did not list the names of his subordinates: “I cannot disclose pseudonyms and name my students – my conscience does not allow.” The board of the OGPU, assembled on August 24, 1928, decided to send Mebes to the Urals for a period of three years, his further fate is unknown. The remaining members of his circle (and even persons indirectly related to them) were also repressed, regardless of social status, marital status and age: some were sent to camps, others were shot.

Sar Aratron

Sarah Gladius Dei