The Secret System Of A Society Of Unknown Philosophers
(Part 1).
Dr. Franz Hartmann

Such is the title of an old book, - printed in the German language in the year A. D. 1784, and published in the city of Leipzig by one who called himself "An Unknown of the Quadrilateral Light".[Commentary 1] The book contains many startling and extraordinary ideas which, although they may not appear new to the modern Theosophist, are nevertheless interesting to the lovers of Occult lore. Notwithstanding the fact that the said book was printed just one hundred years ago, it speaks in an unmistakable manner of the "Fourth Round", (the present Round of the Septenary Evolution spoken of in Esoteric Buddhism ), mentions clairvoyance, predicts psychometry, and gives a satisfactory explanation of the occult meaning of numbers.

The unknown editors of this work were evidently a number of Theosophists in Paris, and must have been initiates. [Commentary 2] The public called them "Martinists", and there were looked upon by the ignorant as a mysterious sect, communicating with spirits, and supposed to be in possession of some awful secrets.

They were said to be people of imposing figure and distinguished by superior education, who desired neither fame, nor power, nor riches, but only truth. They were kind, good-mannered and virtuous, seeking only the way to perfection. For the information of our Eastern Theosophists who may know nothing of the Founder of the Theosophical sect of the Martinists, Martinez de Pasqualis, we append a short biographical sketch of himself and his disciple - Louis Claude, Marquis de St. Martin.

Martinez was born about 1700 in Portugal, of a Musulman mother and a Portuguese father. Proficient in the Kabala and the secret sciences, he travelled far and wide, and getting initiated in the East he came to Paris in 1768, and soon after founded several Masonic Lodges, called Martinistic, and died finally in St. Domingo in 1779. [Commentary 3]From its very origin Martinism was a sect of mystics, who not only "believed" in sub and intra and supra-mundane Spirits, but who evoked them adding to the Elemental Kingdom of apparitions regular necromantic rites. Later on, when De St. Martin [biography] had become his disciple and successor, this distinguished French metaphysician reformed the "lodges" and imparted to them a far more philosophical character. The latter, who went by the name of the "unknown philosopher" (philosophe inconnu ) was born at Amboise, Jany. 18, 1733, and died in Aunay, near Paris, in 1803. Having become dissatisfied with the necromantic character of Martinism, he infused into it much of the Swedenborgian spirit, and finally becoming enamoured of Jacob Boëhme, he worked out a perfect system of mystical masonry. He is the author of several remarkable works _ "On Error and Truth" (Lyons, 1775), directed again the sceptical negation of the Encyclopaedists; "The Man of Desire" (1790); "Ecce Homo!"; "The New Man", &c., &c. It is, perhaps, erroneous to attribute wholly his conversion to either Swedenborg [biography] or Boëhme [biography]. His mind was first of all strongly influenced by the writings of another, earlier and still more remarkable theosophist, whose works are now very little extant and whose name - hardly known. John George Gichtel [biography] was nevertheless a very famous theosophist, and Rosicrucian and the publisher of J. Boëhme's work - born at Ratisbon (1638). The son of very wealthy and influential parents, he became hated by the priests, who could never forgive him the disclosure he made about the immoral life led by the clergy in Germany. As he would not recant, the clergy persecuted him, and drove him finally into exile, forcing him to fly to Holland, where he died in 1720 at Amsterdam in great poverty. St. Martin gives enthusiastic accounts of Gichtel. Like Boëhme, he says, he was a born theosophist, wedded from birth to death to Sophia, the Eternal Bride (Wisdom). He studied diligently the Three Principles and the Seven Forms of Nature, and having fathomed their meaning, found the true philosopher's stone.

In a letter to Baron Kirchberger from St. Martin, who tells the story, we gather that the occult and psychological powers of Gichtel were of a far higher order than those of Swedenborg, transcending them in almost every particular. "In 1672, when Louis XIV laid siege to Amsterdam, Gichtel, by the power of his will, is reported by his disciples to have exercised influence enough to cause the raising of the siege, and afterwards the names of the very regiments and squadron he had seen in his vision were found in the papers. Princes of Germany and even Sovereign consulted him, and ladies of all classes, old and young, rich and poor, fell in love with him, sought his acquaintance and his hand and were rejected by him". An enormously wealthy widow offered to marry him, but he gave her no hopes and withdrew into solitude, remaining shut in in his chamber for over a month. One day, as he was pacing about his poor abode, he saw a hand appearing as though from heaven, which joined his hand to that of the rejected widow whose form appeared by his side - and a voice said: "You must have her". Instead of accepting this as an indication of divine will, Gichtel saw at once "that it was only the widow's spirit, which, in the fervency of her prayers, had penetrated the outward heaven (Kama loka), and had reached the astral spirit". To this St. Martin adds: "From that moment, he gave himself altogether to Sophia, who would have no divided heart; he saw that he was called to the priesthood of the highest order".

Gichtel's marriage to the heavenly Sophia (the Divine Wisdom) is related by St. Martin in the following allegorical term: - "Sophia, his dear Divine Sophia, whom he loved so well and had never seen, came on Christmas day, 1673, and made him her first visit: he, in the third Principle ("linga sharira")(mu) saw this shining, heavenly virgin (was initiated) ... and the marriage was consummated in ineffable delight. She, in distinct words, promised him conjugal fidelity - that she would never leave him... She gave him to hope for a spiritual progeniture, etc." - a language which is too likely to lead any one who knew nothing of Sophia into supposing that Gichtel was really married, but the meaning of which becomes plain to any occultist, especially when one learns further on that "Sophia gave her husband to understand that if he desired to enjoy her favours without interruption, he must abstain from every earthly enjoyment and desire," and Gichtel did so scupulously. "At the beginning of his union with Sophia, he thought he might rest there... but she showed him that this could not be, and that he must fight for his brothers and sisters (humanity); that he ought, as long as he remained under the earthly covering, to employ the time for the deliverance of those who have not yet obtained their inheritance and inward repose." (St. Martin Correspondence, pp 99 & 170).

The following is an attempt to extract the substance of St. Martin's teachings in a compact form.


All that our Theosophists teach, in regard to the fountain of all being, is based upon the conception of the divine unity of the sacred "Three". The highest being, considered as a unity, is the eternal and continuous spring and source of all thinking and immaterial principles, the root of all universal numbers, the first and only cause, the centre from which all life and the powers of all beings continually emanate and to which they return.

The Trinity are not one in Tree, but Three in One; sustaining in itself Action and Reaction, Christ - which means the divine principle of Wisdom and a pure substance, flowing from God to Man and called in the holy writ the Spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost.

The infinite sum of divine powers and quantities is based upon a number, for which man has no quotient, their expressions are the book of visible and invisible nature. Two of these necessary qualities are Goodness and Freedom. According to the first one he cannot be the cause of the existence of the Bad, and according to the latter it is its own Law, and consequently its own freedom differs entirely from that of the creatures.

The divine action is not creation out of nothing; but an indivisible and continuous Emanation or Eradiation out of itself. Each of these emanations is indestructible, because the Deity emanates only principles and not compounds. All principles emanate from the same source either direct or indirect.

The direct emanation are the thinking, the indirect, the unthinking ones. The whole activity of the Deity consists in revealing its attributes, which are infinite, like numbers or powers. Independant of time it reveals itself by those who dwell in it; dependent on time by those who, although emanating from it, are not itself.


The whole system of our Theosophists is based upon a threefold division; The Divine, The Intellectual, and the Sensuous. They speak of three squares of equal signification. The divine square [1], the seat of divinity, the intellectual square, encompassing the various orders of spirits, and the sensual square, containing all that belongs to the visible world.

I. The living chain of Beings which form the Universe, and their inter-relations. From the source of all life to the smallest germ of matter exists an uninterrupted progression, a radiation of primitive light, a chain of potencies, which flow from unity, the basic root of all numbers. Beings are generally divided into thinking and non-thinking beings. The first ones are either only intellectual, that is pure spirits, or also of an animal nature, which means, they are conscious of life and activity; or they may be only active like the principles of sensuality.

1st THINKING BEINGS are the first and second potentiality of the all-creating universal terminus and possess a common affinity; because thought can only be common to one class of beings, and the whole realm of the Intellectual consist, like the prophetic rainbow around the throne of God, of so many radiations and reflections of the divine light.

They are divided into three classes:

A. Divine Beings, of which man in his primitive condition was one. Their activity suffers no suspension, they are above the laws of time.
B. Pure Spirits without a grossly material covering - formerly, man's servants, now his superiors and benefactors. They govern man by their pure influences, and they suffer suspensions, being subject to the laws of time. They are the second class of being and it is the highest aim of earthly man to become one like them (Dhyan Chohans?). It is difficult for them to approach man, but man can find them at every step he makes in his upward progression.

C. Mixed Beings. Besides man, who is the last link in the chain of intellectual beings, there are still other beings, who have a double nature, as intellectual and a sensual one and who, more than pure spirits, are adapted to approach man in his state of degradation (Elementals?). The author does not consider it advisable to speak of those in detail.

2nd UNTHINKING BEINGS, whose fife and activity is limited to the sensual. They have no intellect, and all their actions tend only to the acquirement of material comfort and well-being. (Animals, plants and minerals)
II. The Constitution of these Beings. All bodies are an expression of the three primitive elements, which are earth, water and fire (in their occult meaning.)

Each being has a separate principle by which it exists and acts. All principles are inherently indestructible and simple, and after fulfilling their destiny return to the source from whence they came; but the forms, which are only the sensuous representations of the action of these principles, cease to exist after the principle which caused them cease to act. There remains no original matter.

Each principle is the generator of its corporeal form, and as each has its peculiarity of character, an individual or a species cannot change its nature, but must retain the original number, which determines its character.

There are general as well as special principles of matter, for even the smallest particle of matter contains a principle, which is an indivisible homogeneous unity. General principles differ only from special principles according to their quantity and duration of action. Their action is only one.

Each Being has the character of its special principle impregnated on its form and action, and moreover each being has certain inherent number, and moreover each being has a certain inherent number, and all beings, those that are thinking as well as those that are only active, interrelate and correlate according to numeric laws. All their principles are only either higher or lower potencies of the all-creating unity of infinity, and their respective proximity to our remoteness from the same.


The life and existence of all beings are dependant on a continuous influx of the infinite, and the Universe is based upon seven invisible primitive motors or primitive forms, amongst which are divided the various divine powers. They are the seven colors of primitive light, or so called seven stars around the throne of Deity, which will at the re-establishment of Divine unity be reunited and produce a light whose power will be seven times stronger. In the realm of the spiritual everything is good and pure, in the realm of the sensual governs the evil. All evil is caused by one evil principle, but this evil principle is neither infinite nor eternal. It was originally good and emanated from the infinite good. By attempting to establish a unity of its own it became dark, because it deprived itself of the necessary influence of the divine light by a perverted use of its will, and became the cause of sensuality to which its influence is limited. By this principle and its continuous antagonistic action (contraction), the intellectual world becomes purified and the great work of regeneration accomplished. Its power never affects the pillars of creation, and its whole activity consists in combating the pure agents of the divine light inside the orbit of sensuality, like a heavy mist, which impedes the rays of the sun without preventing the projection of his rays.

Extension of the supremacy of the infinite, and concentration in unity is the object and aim of all divine, spiritual and physical action. Divinity manifests its perfection to individual beings to withdraw them from death, by infusing them with life, and all individuals manifest their tendency to unity in the same manner, by exercising their own powers for the good of other beings exterior to themselves, and thereby assisting in the great work of regeneration.

Everything in Nature has a certain Number, Measure and Weight. Number appoints activity, Measure determines the same and Weight gives it the impulse for realisation. According to these are constituted the unchangeable and characteristic marks of distinction of individual existences with their appropriate organs. The realm of the Intellectual contains not only the original types of everything sensuous, but there is also contained in it (and in it only) the pure, unmixed and enchangeable truth, such as can be comprehended by the reason of man. As the visible and invisible are intimately connected, therefore truth and error in the intellectual plane are necessarily combined with truth and error in the realm of objectivity. There is no actual procreation in the realm of the intellectual, no fathers and mothers, which can only be found in the region of the sensuous, and for this reason the physical parent cannot be the father of the intellectual germ of his children. In the intellectual sphere the Above always verifies and attracts the Below, so that every one receives each of his good thoughts and aspirations every day directly from the primitive fountain of truth; but in the realm of the physical the opposite law holds good. The earth like Saturn of ancient mythology eats her own children.

There is no other sensuous world than the visible one. Visibility, the periphery of evil, came into existence through the sensualisation of the invisible universe by the action of certain germinal principles. This invisible world, which is still hidden in the visible one, could be discovered by man if he were able to draw the veil from visibility and to examine the same. The phenomenon of sensuality is not based upon a certain basic substance, but upon certain primal elements, which are immediately connected with the higher powers of creation, or upon an invisible and original fire, from which are evolved the three visible element of Fire, Water and Earth; but which cannot be derived from one single material essence or be reduced to the same; because the qualities by which they are distinguished from each other are essentially different. Fire belongs especially to the animal, water to the vegetable and earth to the mineral kingdom. There can be only three elements. If there were four the visible world could not perish; because its perishableness is based upon this ternary of sensuosity. Air does not belong to the material elements, but is a more potent and powerful organ of the originally active fire and its function is to transmit the vital forces to the bodies. From the union and combination of these three elements result bodies. The real "corporification" however requires certain means for sensualization, in which consists the link between principles and action, and they are called by the alchemists Mercur, Sulfur and Salt. They are in exact proportion with the three elements and are the vehicles of their principles, and according to the preponderance of one or another element in the process of corporification is it determined, whether the resultant body will belong to one kingdom or to another.

There are consequently three things necessary for the process of creation or reproduction in the realm of sensuosity.

1. The united activity of two principles, of which one acts from the interior to the exterior and another from the exterior to the interior. These active and reactive impulses must meet together, if something ought to come into existence, and they give us a necessary and universal law for the whole creation; because in the realm of Intellectuality as well as Sensuosity, there is everywhere the same antiphony to be found.

2. The action of an active as well as thinking cause which governs the above double action. This is to our reason the true "Pricipium reale", and the laws of sensuosity are the result of this action, and without a consideration of these laws it is impossible to form a clear conception of Nature. This principle of Intelligence does not furnish the germs of the bodies, but vivifies the same; it does not invest man with physical or intellectual powers, but governs and illuminates the same; and whenever this principle ceases to act, dissolution begins. This active and intelligent cause can be known and is realized by everyone who has sufficient purity to perceive the same.

All the changes in the visible universe are determined by the actions and counteractions of its four cardinal points, and the contentions of the elementary principles are directed by the active and intelligent cause which is its centre and circumference.