Following the lead of Mesmer also Justinus Kerner opposed the concept of a ‘supernatural Magician’ when he rejected the interpretation of occult phenomena as miracles and insists that they are "nothing unusual, but something quite common, grounded in nature, thoroughly non-miraculous" as he writes in his book about the medium/seer, of Provost (Kerner, Die Seherin von Prevorst, p. 73). Thus the "higher world" now became a natural world, conceptualized as the "Nightside of Nature." (See Catherine Crowe, The Night-Side of Nature; or, Ghosts and Ghost-Seers, The Aquarian Press, 1986). Accordingly, it now became possible not only to "awaken" to the real nature of the macrocosm but also to envisage experiences of the microcosm, conceived of as an interior universe with the divine mystery at its very center….

Whereas curative therapies were the chief concern of the Viennese Franz Anton Mesmer’s  magnetic hypnotism, the fashion for direct knowledge of other levels of being, surely an Enlightenment concern in its quest for empirical certitude, led to the appropriation of this ready conduit to the inner self (not yet widely known as the unconscious or subconscious), so as to communicate with the denizens of those alleged spheres. The occult implications of his discovery constituted F.A. Mesmer's indirect contribution first through his disciple the Marquis de Puységur and then a multitude of mesmerists and occultists extended the practice.

Medical historians like Ellenberger and Adam Crabtree have recognized in Puységur's activities the advent of the first dynamic psychiatry, whose basic features were the use of hypnotic trance as an approach to the subconscious, based on the evolving concept of a dual model of the mind comprising a conscious and an unconscious ego. Of especial importance was the impetus that artificial somnambulism (mediums ship) gave during the 1780s to these emerging views of the mind and its modalities of consciousness. France was then the center for such interests, and in addition to the existing Societies of Harmony, specific magnetic societies were formed in Paris, Rennes, Troyes, Caen, and Rheims. Apart from disputes over the reality or otherwise of the phenomena, a second consciousness had been discovered-a consciousness with properties very different from ordinary waking consciousness. Puységur had discovered it and the later magnetizers confirmed it.

Thus a new occult or dispensational movement took root in Europe, while at the same time German mystical somnambulism grew as the French adherents were being terrorized or were scattering to England and elsewhere. The movement of persons and ideas was still very much from East to West shortly after the American war of independence. Within two decades, migrants and visitors like Lafayette had brought over the mesmeric system, which did not take root until the 1830s.

Also the appeal of (a practicing somnambulist-) Swedenborg's complex system to a broad spectrum of enquirers occurred, like all human experience, within an historical and cultural context. In the milieu of the high Enlightenment, its ineluctable connection at this period was with mesmerism and the occult revival. In England, Swedenborg's teachings attracted a small but influential body of followers, leading to the early diffusion of his works throughout the Atlantic world and even to organized missionary work. In the late 1770s, Swedenborg's teachings on human regeneration, in particular, led to the formation of small and scattered assemblies, usually study groups within existing denominations, like those of the Reverend John Clowes at Manchester and the Reverend Jacob Duché at Philadelphia and the Theosophical Society (the name was later borrowed to name the more famous but different ‘Theosophical Society ‘ founded in New York 1875 to explore the occult Masonry of Count Cagliostro who was said to have reincarnated in Madame H.P. Blavatsky who went on to compile ‘Isis Unveiled’ and occult bestseller at the time).

In France, a more occult understanding of Swedenlorg was transmitted through the conduit of the Scottish freemasonic fraternities and other societies, which in turn bred organizations like Dom Antoine Pernety's Avignon Society. The Avignon Society became increasingly millenarian, a trend soon exacerbated by the chaos and repression of the French Revolution. As an occultist branch of Swedenborg's influence, it would not outlast the century, but it did have a considerable effect during its last two decades, when it attracted interested persons from England, Sweden, and other European countries.

There was also a large seepage of selected parts of Swedenborg's writings that eventually found their way into both secularized and pantheistic versions of plebeian spiritualism and in the Christian spiritualism that flourished briefly during the 1850s. It was during this first decade of the organized movement, especially in England, that middle-class spiritualists like the Howitt circle flourished, well acquainted both with the system of Swedenborg and with mesmeric phenomena.

Thus a new occult or dispensational movement took root in Europe, while at the same time German mystical somnambulism grew as the French adherents were being terrorized or were scattering to England and elsewhere. The movement of persons and ideas was still very much from East to West shortly after the American war of independence. Within two decades, migrants and visitors like Lafayette had brought over the mesmeric system, which did not take root until the 1830s.

The appeal of Swedenborg's complex system to a broad spectrum of enquirers occurred, like all human experience, within an historical and cultural context. In the milieu of the high Enlightenment, its ineluctable connection at this period was with mesmerism and the occult revival. The hostility of the Lutheran clergy in Sweden meant that the main body of adherents was gathered elsewhere for at least a generation. In England, Swedenborg's teachings attracted a small but influential body of followers, leading to the early diffusion of his works throughout the Atlantic world and even to organized missionary work. In the late 1770s, Swedenborg's teachings on human regeneration, in particular, led to the formation of small and scattered assemblies, usually study groups within existing denominations, like those of the Reverend John Clowes at Manchester and the Reverend Jacob Duché at Philadelphia. In France, a more occult understanding of Swedenlorg was transmitted through the conduit of the Scottish freemasonic fraternities and other societies, which in turn bred organizatiofis like Dom Antoine Pernety's Avignon Society . The Avignon Society became increasingly millenarian, a trend soon exacerbated by the chaos and repression of the French Revolution. As an occultist branch of Swedenborg's influence, it would not outlast the century, but it did have a considerable effect during its last two decades, when it attracted interested persons from England, Sweden, and other European countries.

Around the same time, the egregious Count Tadeusz Leszczy Grabianka (1740-1807) was visiting many societies in England and on the Continent, including Jacob Duché's Swedenborgian group in London, to gather like-minded acolytes for what he believed was the advent of the millennium.

By 1789, the city of Strasbourg, situated on the Rhine border, with a pop ion of fifty thousand supported some twenty-nine Masonic lode counting 1,500 members. Strasbourg was a connective link between orthodox Paris Grand Orient freemasonry and the more mystical German versions extant in Berlin and Vienna. Some lodges drew their membership from specific professions, like medicine or the arts; there existed a few Protestant lodges, but most Masonic fraternities were Catholic. Lodges were also divided along class lines, being predominantly bourgeois or aristocratic. La Candeur (Honesty) was the most eminent of the Strasbourg lodges, conservative, Catholic, and exclusively aristocratic. At La Candeur, members like Friedrich Rodolphe Saltzmann (1769-1845), who also participated in Willermoz's various mesmeric and masonic organizations in Lyon, were intent upon reforming the Catholic Church. These reformers held gatherings with, among others, Count Cagliostro. A mystical freemason and a Catholic, he was known to hold séances with Cardinal Louis Rohan (1734-1803) in these lodges during the 1780s in a search for regeneration of the Church, a term loosely adapted from Swedenborgian theology. Cagliostro set himself up as high priest of the Temple of Isis, on the Rue de la Sondière in Paris. He was later arrested by the Inquisition while living in Rome and died in prison.

Among the Masonic-style societies that grew in Strasbourg was Puvségur's Societé des Amis Réunis, which had strong associations with La Candeur. It was a specifically medical and mesmerist society, its most visible membership comprising doctors and surgeons; somewhat unusual The Marquis De Puységur:

for the era, it included women as full members. The reforming impulses of genteel womanhood could find _expression in such a society; their zeal for "Ie premier bonheur de l humanité " was centered around the charitable thought that animal magnetism was needed because medicines for the poor were rare. Though not as exclusive as La Candeur, the Strasbourg Society with its initiation fee of 100 louis [600 livres] would certainly have excluded entry by the humbler classes, and applications for initiation were received from all over France and Germany. The aristocrats of La Candeur were also represented among its membership, along with women. The Societé des Amis Réunis, like other societies that sprang up in this decade should not be seen as aberrations, but as integral to the Enlightenment, whose ambiance, as Margaret Jacob has noted, was simultaneously rationalist and theosophic; rather than simply representing the "end" of the Enlightenment, she argues, "the mystical could express concrete social and ideological postures" (Jacob 1991, 186-187, 199)

The Societé des Amis Réunis was the-most influential of the provincial harmonial lodges outside Paris. We note again the interrelation between conventional Masonic societies and more mystical and mesmeric gatherings. At Puységur's Buzancy estate, mesmerism was being practiced on a huge scale, with the support of local officials in nearby Bayonne. By 1786, the Strasbourg Society was wading into the deep waters of spiritualism under the protection of A. C. Gerard, the head of the local magistracy Puységur had inadvertently discovered the phenomenon of induced somnambulism, with a corresponding shift from a strictly fluidist framework to one based upon psychological precepts, especially regarding the importance of the magnetizer's will and the rapport between subject and operator. This had the added effect of diminishing the employment of the bacquet for mass magnetization in favor of individual treatment, although for the lower classes in his region, Puységur would magnetize an old oak tree and connect patients to it en masse by ropes. This shift in focus heralded the genesis of a curative psychological paradigm still employed in modern psychotherapies. Moreover, Puységur and philosophers like J. C. de Saint-Martin, both of whom had trained in Paris with Mesmer and brought these practices to the provinces, kept in contact with one another.

Saint-Martin returned to Lyon, where with J. P Willermoz, he founded the Lyonnaise Harmonial Society. He was among those who believed that the fluidist theory was inadequate to account for the observed phenomena and that an undue emphasis on it could lead to materialism. Of Mesmer he said:

It is Mesmer-that unbeliever Mesmer, that man who is only matter and is not even a materialist-it is that man, I say, who opened the door to sensible demonstrations of spirit.... Such has been the effect of magnetism.

Saint-Martin brought an occult flavor. From the founder of Martinism, Jacques Martinès de Pasqually (c. 1715-1779), he had learned of the evil influence of "astral intelligences." Pasqually was founder of the Order of the Elect Cohens, after the Hebrew word for priest, who practiced ceremonial magic. Martinism like its contemporary the Avignon Society preached cabalism, Talmudic tradition, and a mystic Catholicism based on Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486 - 1535) and other occult writers. They were forbidden to consume the blood, fat, or kidneys of animals or to indulge in fornication. Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, then a young army officer, became a disciple. Pasqually died in 1779; among his chief disciples was J. B. Willermoz, who then went over to the Rite of Strict Observance. Saint-Martin became a sort of metaphysical consultant to the mesmerists, especially to Puységur and Barberin. He directly influenced Puységur's idea that magnetic somnambulism provides a direct link to the spirit world and that these phenomena are tantamount to proof for the spirituality of the soul-the final destruction of materialism. Later Saint-Martin, writing as "Le Philosophe Inconnu" would evolve a unique mystical synthesis, weaving varieties of mesmerism with Martinism, in a philosophy strongly influenced by Boëhme and Swedenborg. He died in 1803 and remained a strict Catholic all his life.

Such views were reinforced by the increasing diversity of phenomena. and the new methods that were being developed among the second wave of mesmerists. To a considerable degree they incorporated the insights and techniques of the fluidists into their own, often Masonic, practices. In relation to induced catalepsy, Jacques Henri Desiré Pététin (1744-1808) recorded that, at times, patients could see their own insides. A leading figure at the Lyonnaise Society was the Chevalier de Barberin, who "practiced a unique technique of locating a patient's disease, without touching him, from the sensations felt by the mesmerizer" (Darnton 1970, 68).

Along with Barberin, men like J. P. Willermoz, Jean-André Perisse Du Luc (b. 1738), Bernard de Turckheim, and Rodophe Saltzmann of La Candeurwere all united byMasonic ties, and theywere also involved in the Lyonnaise Harmonial Society, called La Concorde.

J. B. Willermoz, a Lyon silk merchant, was the most respected figure in French mystical Masonry, a chief disciple of Pasqually and member of the Order of the Elect Cohens. With his fraternal colleagues at Lyon, he initially concentrated on mesmerism as a healing technique. By the autumn of 1784, they were enthused by Puységur's technique of induced somnambulism. Willermoz and the others placed a succession of ladies into a trance, who would prophesy and bring news from the spirit world. The following year the energetic Willermoz organized the "Workers of the Eleventh Hour," a select band of mystics who studied messages from heaven transmitted by automatic writing through a noblewoman of his acquaintance (Garrett 1975, 110-111). This was possibly a different and more select group than those at La Concorde, and its membership interpenetrated with his other Masonic venture, the Loge Élue et Chêrie (the Lodge of the Elect and Beloved).

There was a plethora of similar associations at this time. In addition to the messages received through the somnambules of La Concorde, Willermoz's secret Loge Élue et Chêrie propagated what was regarded as the true primitive religion, from hieroglyphic messages conveyed to him from God in unspecified ways (Darnton 1970, 68). The use of Talmudic and kabbalistic magic was also a feature of the Order of the Elect Cohens and of the Avignon Society. Willermoz's Harmonial Society, having many members in common with his Masonic ventures, blossomed with Rosicrucians, Swedenborgians, alchemists, cabalists, and assorted theosophists recruited largely from the orthodox Masonic Ordre des Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte (Crabtree 1993, 68). For instance. Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821), who followed the ideas of Saint-Martin, Swedenborg, and Willermoz, believed that the theory of mesmerism had already been formulated in Swedenborg's writings (Darnton 1970, 139).

In late 1784, they secured local veterinarians for experimentation on animals, to prove that curative effects were not dependent on the expectations of the patient. Mesmer was invited to Lyon to witness these experiments. Willermoz magnetized a horse, which trembled and gave hacking coughs when he concentrated on the area of the throat; an autopsy later revealed a diseased larynx. In 1841, the French magnetizer Charles Lafontaine (1803-1892) would attract considerable attention with a similar feat, by mesmerising a lion in the London Zoo, which sparked the interest of James Braid in the phenomena. Willermoz, being a devotee of animal magnetism but also of occultism, greatly disappointed Mesmer, who regarded him as a mere seeker after arcane philosophy too closely connected to the Martinists, a dabbler in Rosicrucian symbols, and a speculative Freemason; to Mesmer, Willermoz represented a new and unhealthy trend, which promoted unscientific opinions built up from these dubious sources (Goldsmith 1934, 209; Buranelli 1976, 170-171).

In his 1799 Memoire, Mesmer attacked the notion that somnambulism is connected in any way to occult forces. He insisted that everything is explicable by the "mechanical laws of nature" and explained, not very helpfully, "that all the effects appertain to changes of matter and movement." He related these phenomena to an "internal" sixth sense, which he characterized as a human species of instinct:

In that sleeping state of crisis, those persons are able to foresee the future, and bring the most remote things into present time. Their senses can extend to every distance and in all directions, without being checked by such obstacles.... [T]he more common phenomenon consists in being able to see the interior of their bodies, as well as those of others, and of judging with extreme accuracy the nature of diseases, their progress, the necessary treatment, and the results. But it is rare to find all these faculties combined in anyone individual. (32)

Mesmer urged that oracular statements, prophecies and divination, magic, even the demonology of the ancients, and in his day phenomena like convulsions and possession "should, be considered only as variations of the condition called somnambulism" (Mesmer 1957, 30).

At this early date, a large part of the repertoire of the nineteenth-century séance was already manifest; "mediums" produced trance and automatic writing, but also prophecy, retrocognition, and medical clairvoyance, which included the diagnosis of disease by direct perception into the internal organs and functions of the body. Willermoz, like Saint-Martin, was an admirer of Pasqually and a former member of the Elect Cohens, whose lodges in various cities maintained contact with the Mesmeric societies. Its members were reported to fall into trances and to enjoy visions of angels (Buranelli 1976, 171).

These practices of the latter 1780s reinforced what may be called the metaphysical rather than the strictly curative aspects of the new science. The new channel for investigation provided through La Concorde's somnambules and other mystical Masonic gatherings, together with the experiences of Puységur with Victor Race and others, were changing the emphasis of these practices. Soon the new,pratique of induced somnambulism was incorporated for even more daring metaphysical flights by esoteric societies like that at Avignon, which were influenced also by Swedenborgian conceptions and maintained close contact with Puységur and the Strasbourg society. In some ways these permutations were part of a wider reaction against Enlightenment rationalism and materialism; the slow rise of the "irrational" against the reified reason of previous decades. On the eve of the revolution, this eclectic spiritualistic form of mesmerism was in ample evidence at Strasbourg, Lyon, and elsewhere, and it even exercised an impact upon West Indian religions, through the mesmeric society founded there by Puységur's brother.

Among both the humble and the privileged in France, millennial ideas held strong sway at this time, and by the 1780s Mesmer's new science seemed for some to hold the key to solving nature's secrets (Garrett 1975, As in England, the new millennial influences were felt in Maso-, institutions like those already outlined. From the 1730s, mainstream freemasory had been drawing away from the occultism of the first generation, following its reorganization in England in 1717. The generation after Newton had already begun moving away from occult beliefs, and "the ancient mysteries lost their intellectual respectability. science and social thought grew increasingly mechanistic and ration­(Bullock 1996, 11). The "Scottish" reforms of Chevalier Andrew Michaa Ramsay (1686-1743) and others had the effect of producing new eliti lodges, like the Templars and the Amis de la Vérité. Other directions fc nonf5rmal masonry included the Avignon Society, and the most public ( the new movements, the Fareinists, who moved away from the Mason. fraternal codes into millenarian and millennial directions.

The increasing social tensions created by the events leading up to th French Revolution had varied effects. In this process, both mesmerism an Swedenborgianism had a significant role. As Garrett writes concerning th trend in freemasonry in the closing decades of the eighteenth century:

There was great interest among some masons in varieties of mysticism that were sometimes esoteric and sometimes Catholic. Aided by cabalism, astrology, prophetic lore, and the trances of mesmerized mediums, lodges throughout France prepared for what they believed was an approaching age of spiritual revelation and worldwide unity, perhaps in the near future. (1975, 20)

A Catholic form of mystical masonry surfaced mainly in France. Fror the 1760s, La Candeur had been steering toward more mystical an Germanic forms of freemasonry (Jacob 1991, 195). In 1773, a group pious Catholics formed Les Amis de la Vérité, claiming about a thousan members at Lyon, with another two hundred members in Toulouse and smaller group at Grenoble. They met each month to offer an office for tl conversion of the Jews and the renovation of the Church; the Bergas brothers, included among the early membership, would later descril themselves as "Christian mesmerists" and later still as "politic mesmerists" (Garrett 1975, 26).

The pattern of Masonic-style institutions was maintained in the harmonial lodges and also in the various mystical para-Masonic societies like Avignon and the Amis de la Vérité. Over time, these new associations melded the numerous extant philosophic currents, especially the teachings of Swedenborg and Mesmer, into syncretic organizations concerned with the dawning of the millennium. After Swedenborg's death in 1772, his teachings survived through small groups in London and Manchester and also a few individual adherents throughout Sweden and Germany. The American colonies sustained small study groups and convocations like that of Jacob Duché (1738-1798), which probably arose from the one instigated in 1697 by Bishop Jesper Svedberg, Swedenborg's father, through royal patronage. Not until the 1780s was the New Church organized in England; and during that same-,decade, Swedenborg's writings were already being appropriated by chiliastic sects such as Antoine Joseph Pernety's (1716-1796) society at Avignon, based on biblical, Talmudic, and alchemical lore.

Hence the therapeutic interests of Mesmer and his core disciples were giving way in the latter half of the 1780s to a more metaphysical intent and a spiritual focus, especially among the antifluidists at the Strasbourg and Lyon societies. The discovery of the somnambulic trance and the unwonted influence of mystically minded adherents like Saint-Martin and Willermoz, had pushed forward a new therapeutic praxis as well as new theories concerning these wonders. This changing view of Mesmer's important discovery would, by the end of the decade, have a considerable, if somewhat foreshortened, influence throughout Europe, even in the sedate Swedish kingdom.

Following Mesmer's downfall at the hands of the commissions in 1784 and his subsequent return to the shores of Lake Constance, interest in mesmerism declined rapidly in the French capital, although as we have seen, it flourished in the provinces. Among the higher classes, one could find a certain ennui, a weariness of the rational and a presentiment of the romantic, as in a 1784 pamphlet by a Lamartine, a harmonial lodge member, proclaiming that the reign of Voltaire, of the Encyclopedists, is collapsing; that one finally gets tired of everything, especially of cold reasoning; that we must have livelier, more delicious delights, some of the sublime, the incomprehensible, the supernatural. (Darnton 1970, 151)

By 1788, other harmonists like the minor satirist Louis Mer( (1740-1814) had moved on from Mesmer to a belief that the world full of invisible ghosts (Darnton 1970, 38). Yet mesmerism continue( exert a potent influence on the practices and, to some extent, on theories of the second wave led by Puységur, Barberin, and Willermo; the provinces. For his part, Puységur was sympathetic to the Martinis Lyon, to Cagliostro in Paris, and to the freemasons and Swedenborgian Germany and Sweden (Crabtree 1993, 70). To "la Psychologie Sacrée Lyons" and its fellow travelers in other parts of Europe, mesmerism 1 proven the fundamental truth, the continued existence of the soul. Not least among the complex influences that opened such a possibility to rl minds were the insights of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Although they rejected the Swedenborgian theory of disease emanating from the "exhalations" of angels and spirits, the new generat of magnetizers did not shun the possibility of contact between the sphe even though Swedenborg himself had discouraged it. Correspondeno the late 1780s between the Exegetic and Philanthropic Societ) Stockholm, the Strasbourg Society, and small conclaves like that of Reverend Jacob Duché in London are among the many indications of close connections between and among harmonial societ Swedenborgian churches, and Masonic or quasi-Masonic organizati throughout western Europe. The best evidence for the complex tra among these organizations in the 1780s and beyond relates to the Avig Society and signals for the first time the wider diffusion of Swedenborg Mesmer's key concepts. The crucial point is that, despite Mesm disclaimers, the era of the fluidists was over, and what might be called "spiritists," or more neutrally the "vitalists" such as Puységur, wer the ascendant.

In France this was a period of proliferation in the vogue of quasi-Masonic societies, as at Strasbourg and Lyon, where their millenarian sympathies formed part of the occult revival. Combined with the ideas of spirit contact and an afterlife derived from the works of Swedenborg and frequently those of Jacob Boëhme, there were practices of thaumaturgy, kabbalism, and induced somnambulism, or as we might now call it, mediumistic trance.

Already in the previous decade of the 1780s, contacts had been established between Swedenborgian societies in England and the French sects, where the spread of mesmerism, now with more positive attitudes toward spirits, was manifest in numerous small but influential societies. The best known was the Avignon Society, which until its forced demise during the revolution served as a sort of clearing house for hermeticism, mesmerism, and occultism. During its relatively brief existence, it enjoyed a constant flow of visitors, who formed a network with like-minded persons on the Continent and in England. The ambit of influence extending from Avignon to other societies with a more strictly mesmerist intent like Strasbourg and to the Exegetic and Philanthropic Society in Stockholm illustrates the considerable traffic between quasi-secret societies in the last two decades of the covert Enlightenment.

The Avignon Society was "only one of the many shoots in the lush undergrowth of mystical Masonry in the 18th century" (Garrett 1975, 99). At a time when Deism and conventional freemasonry "with its tidy generalities" were losing the interest of the educated classes, groups like the Avignon Society were becoming attractive to many seekers. The society was organized like the harmonial and other Masonic-style associations, according to degrees of inititation. Its mystical Catholicism, especially the cult of the Virgin Mary, was grafted onto numerological, Swedenborgian, mesmeric, and other conceptions. In a letter dated February 12, 1787, to the Swedenborgian Robert Hindmarsh, the group intoned:

For very dear Brethren, the angel that stands before the face of the lamb, is already sent to sound his trumpet on the mountains of Babylon, and give notice to the nations that the God of heaven will soon come to the gates of the earth, to change the face of the world, and to manifest His power and glory. (cited in Hindmarsh 1861, 47)

Although not part of mainstream freemasonry, through its founder Dom Antoine Pernety the Avignon Society enjoyed considerable legitimacy in freemasonic circles; they were respectable enough to send delegates to International Masonic conferences at Wilhelmsbad in 1782 and Paris in 1784. According to scholars of freemasonry, Frenchman Antoine Pernety was already a high-degree Mason, having written in the 1750s the most highly elaborated hermetic degree in the Masonic repertoire, the Chevalier du Soleil (Knight of the Sun), part of the Rite of Perfection. Pernety was also deeply interested in Swedenborg, producing a French translation in 1782 of Heaven and Hell (Les Merveilles du Ciel et de lEnfer). At the 1784 conference, the Avignon delegates proclaimed that the reunification of the Christian churches and the promulgation of a new doctrine for the entire world were now imminent; as with Willermoz's hieroglyphics, this intelligence was based on kabbalistic numerology, alchemical lore, mesmerist séances, and Swedenborgian spiritualism (Brooke 1994, 96; Block 1984, 59).

Part of that shadowy European world of occult freemasonry, mesmerism and spiritualism flourishing during the 1780s and 1790s, the activities of the Avignon Illuminés reveal how the currents of mysticism and occultism within freemasonry contributed to the dissemination of millenarian ideas. They would come to recognize the cataclysm of revolution as lending a special urgency to their mission (Garrett 1975, 14-15). The sect originated in Berlin in 1779 under the leadership of Dom Pernety, a former Benedictine monk and sometime librarian to Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786). Pernety was an adventurer who had accompanied Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) in the early 1760s as chaplain on his expedition to the Falklands. On his return, Pernety abandoned the monastic cowl and went to Avignon in 1765, then a center of Jacobite émigrés, where he introduced a Masonic rite for a s,hismatic lodge, the Séctateurs de la Vertu comprised exclusively of nobles, which was reorganized on the basis of this hermetic rite (McIntosh 1975,26,29). The first lodge was that of Saint-Jean d'Avignon, comprised entirely of nobles; in 1749, a separate lodge was founded for the bourgeoisie, and the two later fused as the lodge of Saint-Jean de Jerusalem.

Pernety was deeply influenced by works like L'Histoire de la philosophic hérmetique (1742) by theAbbé Nicholas Langlet Dufresnoy (1674-1755). In 1758, Pernety penned Les Fables égyptiennes etgrecques and later the Dictionnaire mytho-hérmetique, both ofwhich became popular expositions of occult wisdom, propagating the view that the bulk of ancient literature was disguised hermetic lore. Pernety claimed to draw on secret Greek and Egyptian sources in formulating the rite of the Chevalier du Soleil, later divided to form the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth degrees of the Scottish rite (Garrett 1975, 99-100; McIntosh 1975, 30). However Avignon was papal territory, where the papal bull forbidding Masonic practices was enforceable. Pernety moved to Berlin, where for a time he worked at the Prussian court, enjoying the protection of Frederic II's brother Prince Henry (1726-1802), who was deeply interested in occult mysteries. Pernety brought in others like the French priest Guyton de Morveau, known as Brumore, along with Morinval, Melle Bruchier, Countess Stadniska, the Count and Countess Jean Tarnowski, and others. In 1778, with the arrival of Count Grabianka, the Illuminés were formally constituted (Garrett 1975, 101; Harrison 1979, 70).

"Count" Tadeusz Grabianka, not really a count but a very wealthy Polish nobleman, was largely responsible for introducing a millenarian emphasis into what had heretofore been mainly a thaumaturgic society and Masonic lodge. In his youth, he had frequented fortune tellers; through contact with Sabbatean Jews in his native region of Podolia, he became familiar with the apocalyptic prophecies of the seventeenth-century "Messiah," Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676). Nursing a desire to succeed to the elective Polish throne, an honor that was to be denied to him, he became increasingly convinced that the millennium was approaching and that he would in due course be placed upon the throne of Israel as well, another dream never to be realized. Grabianka, with his own grandiose aspirations, was a significant precursor to the apocalyptic Englishman Richard Brothers (1757-1824) in his wish to establish an Isrealite kingdom. In Warsaw, Grabrianka had joined the reformed order of "Templars" or "Strict Observance" Masons, founded around 1760 by Baron Charley Hund (d. 1776) and, through that connection, he met Pernety in Berlin ir. 1778 (Scholem 1961, 287-296; Garrett 1975, 102).

The Illuminés practiced the "true science of numbers" and posec questions to a divine intelligence whom they called "Sainte-Parole" (divine or holy word), who gave enigmatic responses, much in the manner of the Delphic oracle, although it is not clear whether these responses came through somnambules, as with the pythonesses at Delphi, via hieroglyphs. automatic writing, numerology, or other means. The Illuminés hac frequent contact with Strasbourg. Each member had an occult number. Pernety's being no. 135. When consulted by Brumore concerning Grabianka, known as "Dear King 1.3.9," Sainte-Parole intoned: "O mon fill, son cour est pur. Ne crain pas de mêler ton encens avec le sien, parce qu ii deviendra un jour sept fois plus grand que toi!" (O my son, his heart is pure. Do not fear to mix your incense with his, because one day he will become seven times greater than you!) (Bricaud 1927, 46; see also 43; Harrison 1979, 71).

Bricaud writes that Pernety believed he was guided by an angel called Assadai, "un esprit supérieur" or an angel of the first degree, who watched over and helped him and who promised never to ascend to the ethereal regions until Pernety had discovered the secret of their "great work." In 1782, he issued a divine command that the society should be relocated from Berlin. Ironically, Avignon, the place of the greatest schism of medieval Christianity, was chosen wherefrom to proclaim their message of unity. Assadai, the guiding angel of the society referred to as Sainte-Parole, declared that each would be consecrated there in an occult way, to be regenerated and become a "child of Sabaoth."2 Guided by visions, they held the fervent conviction that they were embarked on a "Grand Oeuvre." Through Pernety's friendship with the Marquis de Vaucroze (d. 1786), the society was installed on his Avignon estate. Among the prominent Illuminés were the Chevalier Marie Daniel Bourrée de Corberon (1748­1810); a Dr. Bouge; Jean Pierre Moët (1721-1806), the Marquis de Thomé; and Esprit Calvert, a professor of physiology at the Avignon medical faculty (McIntosh 1975, 29; Garrett 1984, 76). Now established as a freemasons' lodge with the grandiose title LAcadémie des Illuminés Philosophes, they soon attracted seekers from all over Europe. Their , doctrines have been described as a blend of Swedenborgianism and Roman Catholicism, salted with occultism. As J. F. C. Harrison notes, their interests were indeed varied:

To the cold intellectualism of the Swedish visionary was added the veneration of the Virgin Mary and recital of the Athanasian creed; while individual members studied Renaissance alchemy, the theurgy of Alexandria, hermetic authors, the philosopher's stone, the divine science of numbers, and the mystical interpretation of dreams. (1979, 70)

In their early alchemical endeavors they sought the philosopher's stone, consulting Sainte-Parole about every detail, the furnace to be used, the crusets and alambics, all evidently needed to produce the "powder of projection" (Bricaud 1927, 44). A visitor in 1792, A.-H. Dampmartin (1755-1825), marshal of the king's armies, has left an account of the society in a memoire. Dampmartin recalled that many notable persons had become zealous disciples, and they had great confidence in the divine voice o Sainte-Parole, who guided their activities. In the midst of the revolutionary "abomination," as he terms it, the brethren had remained calm, practicing virtuous deeds; and fed by their abiding piety, they continued to live in the manner of the primitive Christians (Bricaud 1927, 92).

They offered a contrast to the tumultuous events that before long would inexorably engulf both them and their chronicler. Dampmartin had wished at first to join the society. Through their auspices, he had received prophecies of the terrifying events to follow, activities in which he would become mired in succeeding years, as the Terreur and the Directorate pread in France. But he does not explain why he did not join; perhaps -~e demands of war were of greater moment.

Though never exceeding one hundred members, the Illumine maintained a considerable network among the mystical Masonic group advancing the idea of an impending millennium and the establishment o a true, unitary church, to be presided over by Jesus Christ. Thus would the form the basis of "the new people of God." There existed in France at thi time numerous other mystical and quasi-Masonic orders, like the Rite de Philalèthes, formed in 1775 by Savalette de Langes, keeper of the roya treasury, which comprised twelve degrees and combined the doctrines o Pasqually and Swedenborg. At Avignon, Pernety's numerological an' alchemical interests were now being overshadowed by Grabianka's concen with preparations for the millennium, which confirms the historica opinion that the Avignon society's activities "reveal how the currents o mysticism and occultism within the world of freemasonry contributed t4 the dissemination of millenarian ideas" (McIntosh 1975, 30; Garret 1975, 14-15).

It was through his participation in the earlier freemasons lodge at Avignon that Dr. Benedict Chastanier had first discoverer Swedenborg. Another close adherent was the Marquis de Thomé, roya librarian at Versailles and another French translator of Swedenborg, whi introduced a reformed system of Masonry in 1783 called "the Rite o Swedenborg" (Block 1984, 58). Through Pernety's Masonic ties, man; freemasons were drawn to Avignon, like the ubiquitous Genera Rainsford, who figures in almost every Masonic organization of the period Chastanier, a French doctor and longtime resident of London, like hi friend William Bousie joined Jacob Duché's Swedenborgian study group both men later became members of the New Church.

One of the more colorful of these converts was the ardent freemason and anti Catholic aristocrat, the Chevalier Borrée de Corberon. During his earl travels in Russia, he had encountered Cagliostro in St. Petersburg, and h, was as incessant in his accumulation of Masonic degrees as in his study o systems of philosophy, magic, and alchemy (Bricaud 1927, 86). Deemec a qualified "seer of spirits" by Empress Catherine 11 (1729-1796), on his return to France in 1780, he was introduced to Swedenborg's writings, an( he entered into correspondence with Pernety on the matter. While living in Paris in the mid 1780s, Corberon joined Mesmer's Harmonial Society It was there that he met Count Grabianka and learned of the Avignor Society.

Soon after, in a letter to a fellow German freemason, Corberon expressed his enthusiasm for the doctrines of the Illuminés, his fervent wish to be admitted into the society and to live with the acolytes; thus would he avoid human distractions, so as to realize "l'étude sublime et consolante de la religion et de la nature." He corresponded also with Grabianka and other members such as Louis-Michel Gombault, Count Pasquini, the brothers Bousie and Duvigneau, Picot, and La Richardière (Bricaud 1927, 90, 88).

With his great intellectual drive and spiritual curiosity, Corberon imbibed the currents of alchemy and mesmerism along with Swedenborgian theology. Nor was he alone in his high expectations. A Colonel Count Thiroux also yearned for the truths discovered by the brothers in their communications with "Très-Haut" (the Most High), probably Sainte-Parole. If they could give him that sublime proof of immortality, Thiroux assured them in his application for membership, it was "this conviction which he desired more than anything men may wish for, more than knowledge of the philosopher's stone." Thiroux, like Corberon, was admitted soon after into the Avignon Society, celebrating the initiatory rites on the hill named Tabor in June 1790 (Bricaud 1927, 9 1).

Following the divine call, in 1782 Abbé Pernety had relocated the society, producing in the same year a translation entitled La Sagesse Angélique dEmanuel Swedenborg (Block 1984, 56; Garrett 1975, 104). Though he had been responsible for introducing the Avignon Society to England, Dr. Chastanier's enthusiasm waned as his dissatisfaction increased with the Pernety translations and with the new premillennial direction the society was taking. Since Grabianka's arrival, the efforts of the society were being increasingly redirected to preparations for the millennium. As a result, Chastanier resigned. He was among the first to join the New Church in England, being present at the first public meeting in 1783 when the Theosophical Society, its precursor, was organized. The Avignon Society fell out with the New Church also over Swedenborg's According to its members, the Avignon Society had been formed b; Jesus Christ to advance an impending millenarian regeneration o humanity and the establishment of a true, unitary church. Acolytes wen initiated on a nearby hill Pernety had named "Tabor," an initiation tha extended over nine days. There they would first form a "circle of power,' then burn incense and vow to consecrate themselves to God's service. Ir return, this covenant with the eternal would bring a special grace, whirl. they called `faire un Jêhovah" (to construct a Jehovah); they might be favored also with a vision of their guiding angel. Along with hermeticism and Hebrew Sabbatarianism, they now drew on the apocalyptic aspirations of Grabianka to become king of Poland and a second Solomon in Jerusalem, with Pernety mooted as the pontiff (Bricaud 1927, 45-47).

Their tenets and practices, a strange mixture of Masonry, spiritism, Jesuitism, Swedenborgianism, and the teachings of Saint-Martin have been described as "mystico-cabalistic Magnetical" (Brooke 1994, 96; Block 1984, 59). The Illuminés, like Willermoz at the Loge Élue et Chêrie in Lyon, were also committed to a secret Masonic form of organization;: and like the harmonists atLa Concorde, they applied the new insights being spearheaded by Puységur and Barberin toward metaphysical rather than therapeutic pursuits, employing mesmeric methods to direct the minds of subjects. To be sure, they connected these to their other, more esoteric beliefs and practices.

From the foregoing, it is at least clear that the emphasis of the Avignon Society gradually became millenarian in intent. They studied Swedenborg both for his allegorical interpretation of the Bible and for his pronouncements concerning the world of spirits, the same aspect also drawing Saint-Martin and the Martinists. It was believed that what Swedenborg had taught on the divisions of the heavens into spiritual and celestial degrees drew upon a previously secret hermetic wisdom of correspondences, and this appealed to their ‘gnostic’ sensibilities.


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