Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 16, Vol. 2. Vernal Equinox 2009

Esotericism and Espionage: the Golden Age, 1800 – 1950

by Fr L.

Everyone has some idea of John Dee’s activities in the fields of both esotericism and espionage, indeed they were intricately entwined. Without going further back in history (one could explore the links between the personages of the First Crusade in this direction too, for example), this profound link can be demonstrated right from the Elizabethan period to the present day. The example of Aleister Crowley comes immediately to mind, but other lesser - known, or surprising personages in this context are:

Jacques Bergier, a well-known French esoteric publicist who ran the Marco Polo spy network for the British Secret Intelligence Service (aka MI6);

Rudolf Hess, who many consider to have been assisted in his escape from Germany by the SIS and his freemason contact the Duke of Hamilton, but who is also considered a double agent recruited by Albrecht Haushofer for the famous Soviet “Red Orchestra” network ;

The actors of the Great Game:
The French occultist Papus who under the cover of bringing modern Martinism to Russia was also engaged in countering the British influence of the SIS (and also UGLE freemasonry).

The Mongol Badmaev was also at Petersburg (at the court of the “White Tsar of Shambala”) and his fellow lama Dzordzhayev trained Nicolas Roerich; both had links to Gurdjieff (who was a Russian agent, according to the SIS).

Maria Sievers, Rudolf Steiner’s secretary, had a brother who was one of the directors of the Thule Gesellschaft, and later a member of the infamous Ahnenerbe.

René Guenon mingled with most of the leading continental occultists of his time, many of whom were also engaged in espionage, mostly for Germany: Theodore Reuss, the Polaires with Marquès-Rivière, Postel du Mas, Blanchard, and Kremmerz who would later go on to found the equally infamous “Myriam” rite of Naples.

The “Veilleurs” or Watchers of Lubicz, son of a Baltic Baron with links to the well-known Baron Ungern von Sternberg, who adhered to the “’Shambala” myth and founded an ephemeral Mongol empire during the Russian Civil War – his encampment was a hive of espionage activity, Japanese, Russian, German agents (including his first biographer, Ferdinand Ossendowsky).

The Watchers in 1922 opened a centre at St Moritz in the Swiss Engadine attracting, inter alia, Postel du Mas, Hess, and Coudenhove-Kalergi, founder of the Synarchic Pact and later Chairman of the Pan-European League, in association with Otto of Habsburg. In France these connections entwine with the Vintras - Naundorff - La Salette operation under the aegis of Jules Doinel's Gnostic Carmel.

Jules Doinel was associated with Maria Mariategui, Duchess of Pomar and Lady Caithness, OTO and HBL member and close associate of Israel Monti/Claude Le Châtrier, triple espionage agent and originator of the infamous "Priory of Sion" legend under the guise of the Hieron of the Golden Valley, which later led to the Opus Dei.

The secret society called La Société Théosophique d'Orient et d'Occident was a spiritist organization founded by Maria Mariategui, the Duchesse de Pomar (Lady Caithness) in 1882. She was in close touch with Eliphas Levi, Mme. Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, Mrs. Besant, Dr. Encausse (Papus), and other well known occultists of the period.

Theodor Reuss. was the guiding light of the OTO and the very man who inducted Crowley into the order in 1912. Most importantly, Reuss had a long association with German intelligence. Crowley boasted of long acquaintance with someone "high in the German secret service" whose "absolute confidence" he enjoyed.

In the 1880s, Reuss (who was half English) was expelled from the German Socialist League as a police spy and later spent years in Britain. Several sources note that Crowley later reported on the activities of fellow occultist Gerald Hamilton, specifically his connections to Communists and Nazis in Germany. Interestingly, Hamilton was an Irish nationalist and former confidant of Roger Casement.

One cannot forget either the notorious Sidney Reilly or his accomplice Ignace Timothy Trebitsch-Lincoln.

It is interesting to observe that Major F.G. Irwin (1823-98), a veteran of the “Great Game” on the Indian North-West Frontier, combines all these various strands, and more; member of the Fratres Lucis (ie the Asian Brothers) which he brought to England in 1873, the HBL, the SRIA, and high grade Scottish Rite masonry.

Emmanuel Swedenborg was initiated at Lund in 1706 and progressed to the higher degrees of the Templars as practised in Sweden. Founded in 1721, the Rite was first introduced into England by Chastanier, Springer (Swedish Consul), C. F. and August Nordenskjold and others who were members of the first Swedenborgian Society in London known as the Theosophical Society of the New Jerusalem, not to be confused with the Rite of French Theosophists. This rite, called the Illuminati of Stockholm, was well known until the middle of the 18th century when it amalgamated with that of Zinnendorf.

Swedenborg was fascinated with the “Shambala” myth, like so many others mentioned, and under cover of his employment for the Swedish East India Company and his appointment to the Swedish Court as Master Ironmaster and Miner, he journeyed over India and Central Asia, bringing back with him the sexual rites that went into his New Jerusalem Society, later to be frequented by William Blake.

The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), Rene Guenon thus briefly sketches her career.

Mme. Blavatsky's extraordinary life of adventure started in 1848. During her travels in. Asia Minor with her friend Countess Kiseleff, she met a Copt (some say a Chaldean) called Paulos Metamon, who claimed to be a magician, and who seems to have been a fairly accomplished conjurer. She continued her travels with this personage with whom she went to Greece and

Egypt till her funds gave out, when she returned to Europe."

Having quarrelled with her family, she was unable to go to Russia so she went to London where she frequented spiritualist and revolutionary circles. She was initiated into the revolutionary Carbonari (whose high dignitaries were Misraim freemasons) by Mazzini in 1856 and was also an initiate of the Order of the Druses, according to John Yarker.

Guenon continues:

Towards 1858, Madame Blavatsky decided to return to Russia; she became reconciled with her father, staying with him till 1863 when she went to the Caucasus and met her husband. A little later she was in Italy whither she seemed to have been summoned by a Carbonarist order; in 1866, she was with Garibaldi, whom she accompanied during his expeditions, she fought at Viterbo, then at Mentana, where she was seriously wounded and left on the field as dead ; she recovered however and went to Paris for her convalescence. There she remained some time under the influence of a certain Victor Michal, a spiritist-magnetizer. This Michal, a journalist, was a Freemason as was also his friend Rivail (alias Allan Kardec) once founder, later director of the Folies-Marigny and the pioneer of French spiritism. It was Michal who developed the mediumistic faculties of Madame Blavatsky... Madame Blavatsky was, at that time, herself a believer in spiritism and claimed to belong to the school of Allan Kardec, from whom she preserved certain ideas, notably those concerning reincarnation.

In 1867, she succeeded after three previous attempts in entering Tibet. "Inquire Within", who acknowledges Guenon as her source of information and who has also closely followed the activities of Madame Blavatsky during this period of her life, refers to her visit to America in the following terms:

In 1875 Madame Blavatsky was sent from Paris to America where she founded a society, said to be for ' spiritualist investigations ', in New York. Among other members were Charles Sothern, one of the high dignitaries of American Masonry, and also for a short time General Albert Pike, Grand Master of the Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction U. S. A., who was said to be the author of the thirty-three degrees received from the Arabian member of the 'Great School.'

Guenon, detailing this American visit of Madame Blavatsky, further explains how "George H. Felt, self-styled Professor of Mathematics and Egyptologist, had been introduced to Madame Blavatsky by a journalist called Stevens. Felt was a member of a secret society generally called by the initials ' H. B. of L. ' (Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor).”

A letter from John Yarker quoted in Freemasonry Universal (Vol.V, part 2 Autumn Equinox, 1929) states that Madame Blavatsky's masonic certificate in the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Masonry was issued in the year 1877. He writes

both the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim, as well as the Grand Orient of France, possessed a Branch of Adoptive Masonry, popular in France in the 18th century and of which, in later years, the Duchess of Bourbon held the Rank of Grand Mistress. We accordingly sent H. P. B., on the 24/11/77, a Certificate of the highest rank, that of a Crowned Princess, said to have been instituted at Saxe in the last quarter of the 18th century.

"In November, 1878 ", according to ' Inquire Within', "Madame Blavatsky and Olcott left for India, and in 1882 founded the Theosophical centre in Adyar, near Madras ; there she initiated her ' esoteric section ', and contacted the so-called ' Mahatmas ', and her phantastic phenomena, precipitated letters, astral bells, materialisations, etc., were in time suspected and exposed.”

Madame Blavatsky from then on was widely held to be a Tsarist agent and played her part in the Great Game….