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Review: “The Divinatory Arts” by Papus


Papus (Gérard Anaclet Vincent Encausse, 1865 – 1916), was a leading figure of the French Occult scene at the turn of the 20th century. He authored “Tarot of the Bohemians,” and founded or co-founded the Martinist Order and the Order Kabbalistique de la Rose-Croix. He was also a leading figure in Memphis Misraim and the Gnostic Catholic Church. He was even a member of the OTO, before Crowley got his mits on it.

He was also very briefly a member of the Golden Dawn, i.e. he only ever attended one meeting, and didn’t stay for the whole thing at that.

Despite being the very essence of “Occult,” Papus at one stage went mainstream by penning a series of articles published in Le Figaro, which is now France’s biggest newspaper, although back in 1895 when the articles were written, it had a more populist stance. Still, that would be like if you were to imagine me, Alex Sumner, being employed at a generous salary by The Daily Telegraph to write for it.

Hence, Papus ended up writing about Graphology, Palmistry, Physiognomy, as well as astrology. The content of these articles was necessarily only a brief introduction to the subject matter – understandable as they were intended for publication in a newspaper. This book, is the first time that these articles have been translated into English.

Although this is an interesting reference for someone researching Papus’ life, Papus’ own writing here is far from being the most interesting thing that Papus had ever done, given that he had lived such rich and full life. In that sense, the Translator’s own introduction is actually more interesting from an esoteric point of view. Nevertheless, I did find some merit in reading about palmistry and graphology, which were subjects I had never really touched upon.

I had to laugh at one point at Papus’ blatant chauvinism – he assumes, for example that the only reason a man would study Physiognomy is so that he can dominate any woman irrespective of her temperament. Nevertheless, the book as a whole is a curious piece in the larger jig-saw puzzle of the life of an otherwise great occultist.


The Divinatory Arts by Papus; translated into by “The Three Luminaries” © 2020, ISBN-13: 9798684181795. Available from Amazon.

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Review: “Meditations for Every Week,” by Paul Sédir

Meditations for Every Week,” by Paul Sédir, translated by Sergio Prezioso.

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, Signor Prezioso. 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, translated by Sergio Prezioso. ISBN-13 9798643208631. Available from Amazon.

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