Count St. Germain (18th Century) [Public Domain Image]
The Comte de St. Germain
by Isabel Cooper-Oakley
The original 'International Man of Mystery,' the Count St. Germain, was an 18th century European aristocrat of unknown origin. He had no visible means of support, but no lack of resources, and moved in high social circles. He was a renowned conversationalist and a skilled musician. He dropped hints that he was centuries old and could grow diamonds. He never ate in public, was ambidextrous, and as far as anyone could tell, totally celibate. He served as a backchannel diplomat between England and France, and may have played some role in Freemasonry. He hobnobbed with Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, Voltaire, Rousseau, Mesmer, and Casanova. He dabbled in materials and textile technology as well as alchemy, as did many intellectuals of the time (e.g., Newton). These are established historical facts, documented by the extensive collection of contemporary accounts in this book.
Less well understood are some of the other stories that have been made about the elusive Count: he always appeared about forty years old, popped up from time to time after his official death (on February 27th, 1784), made spot-on, unambiguous prophecies, could transmute matter, and spontaneously teleported to distant locations. This has made him a subject of interest for students of the esoteric. The Theosophists, (of which Ms. Cooper-Oakley was a founding member), considered St. Germain to be one of the hidden immortals who manipulate history. In the 20th century, the "I Am" Activity, and its successors such as Elizabeth Clare Prophet's adherents, elevated St. Germain to the status of a demigod, an 'Ascended Master.'
There is probably a good explanation for some of the anomalies in the narrative. Many of the memoirs of St. Germain were written years after the events, and undoubtedly embellished in the telling. He appears to have been conflated with several other aristocrats with similar last names, which may explain the teleportation rumors. The Count also inspired ridicule, both high and low. Voltaire made a sarcastic comment that the Count was 'a man who knows everything and never dies,' which some have unfortunately taken literally. (I'm guessing that Voltaire meant that it was impossible to get him to shut up!) A contemporary Parisian comedian named Milord Gower had a popular routine in which St. Germain told even more extravagant stories, including having advised Jesus, and some of these gags may have been mixed up with the Count's own tall tales in popular memory. Then there are the imposters. Casanova pretended to be him in 1760 during a trip to Switzerland. Aleister Crowley toyed with the idea of disguising himself as the Count. A mentally ill French man got on TV in 1972 and claimed to be St. Germain.
So was he a time traveler? A vampire? Secret agent of the Illuminati? Or a hoax perpetuated by an unrelated series of charlatans? This enjoyable book, the first biography of St. Germain, is the indispensible starting point for any discussion of the mysterious Count.
--J.B. Hare, October 1st, 2006
Reference: The Immortal Count, by Doug Skinner, Fortean Times, May 2001.