At first reading, this appears to be a book of fifty-two meditations which follow a fairly conventional path of Christian devotion. On closer inspection, one notes some curious departures from orthodox Christianity. Why, for example, does the author talk about having past incarnations (Chapter LI, “Insubordination”)? Why does he attach so much importance to St John the Baptist (Chapter V, “The Precursor”)? Why, even do we get this curious comment:
“Esotericism studies, among other problems, the means of producing natural miracles. … We will only have the legitimate right to command Nature when she sees that we are masters of ourselves, when we have followed the school of the Gospel to the end… Before any action, ask the Father for His consent.”
Chapter XXIX, “The Miracles of Jesus.”
Thankfully, one can readily discern the answer in the biographical note, helpfully provided by the translator. Paul Sédir (born Yvon Leloup, 1871) as a young man in his late teens / early twenties became an enthusiastic member of just about every occult society going in Paris in the fin-de-siècle period, falling in with the likes of Papus, Jules Doinel, etc. As such he would have been familiar with Martinism, Gnosticism, the Order Kabbalistique de la Rose Croix and various shades of Rosicrucianism, Egyptian Rite Masonry, etc, etc etc. However in 1897 he met Maitre Phillipe of Lyon, who appears to have had a sobering effect on young Sédir, as he resigned from every order of which he was a member, and devoted the rest of his life to Christian mysticism.
As an aside: Sédir would have been coming up to his first Saturn return when he took the decision to step back from the esoteric societies of which he had been a member, and as such he would naturally felt a desire to re-evaluate his life as he said goodbye to the follies of youth and entered adulthood-proper. Coincidentally, Maitre Phillipe seems to have had a similar effect on Papus himself when the latter first met him: Papus had taken umbrage at Phillipe for some reason, and was about to work some supposedly fearsome black magic on him, when the Maitre “pulled a Plotinus” on him, causing him to drop his magic sword – both literally and metaphorically. Assuming that Maitre Phillipe’s effect on him was similar to that on Sédir, it says a lot about Papus that Martinism was to his former sorcery what Christian Mysticism was to Sédir’s Martinism!
Anywho, the present book – “Meditations for Every Week” – may be summed up as mostly Christian in character, but displaying the vestiges of memories of esotericism – which sums up Sédir’s life-path. From the rather obvious pentacle on the front cover, it appears that the translator intends the book to be most useful to students of Martinism, even though Sédir had resigned from office in Papus’ order. Or in other words: “You can take the man out of Martinism, but you can’t take Martinism out of the man.”
“Meditations for Every Week,” by Paul Sédir. ISBN-13 9798643208631. Available from Amazon.