by Milko Bogaard
Nicolai Ivanovitch Novikov (Colovion, 1744/05/08 - 1818/08/12,’new style’ ), Prince Nikolai Troebeskoi (Eques ab Aquila Boreali) and Peter Tatisjev (Eques a Signo Triumphante) founded in 1784 several Rosicrucian Lodges next to the existing Masonic lodges. The ties between the Moscovite freemasons and the German Rosicrucians (‘Gold und Rosenkreutzer’) were established around 1781-'82, when the Moscovite professor of philosophy and literature, I.E.Schwartz, returned from a visit to Germany. Schwartz was a fervent defender of the Rosicrucian movement and had a thorough knowledge of the works of Boehme and LC de Saint-Martin. In July, 1782 Schwartz had attended the Masonic Convention in Wilhelmsbad held by the Duke of Braunschweig, Grand Master of the Rite of Strict Observance. He also obtained from the German Rosicrucians the authority to promote the Order in Russia. Schwartz had begun to work with Novikov at the end of the 1770's. Their collaboration resulted i.a. in a 'printing company' which published Rosicrucian and Masonic books. The Moscovite Rosicrucians were known as ‘Novikov & Company’. Author Richard Pipes, who wrote several books on Russian history, on this period of Russian history ;
- Novikov’s circle consisted of men like Lopoukhine, Troubetzkoi, Tatistschev, Tourguéniev, the earlier mentioned Schwartz, Gamalei, Kheraskov etc. In 1787 Catherina II prohibited the publication of theosophical books and in 1789 she made it impossible for Novikov to print at the University Press. Finally, in 1791, Novikov's printing company was closed. Nevertheless, during a relatively short period the Rosicrucians/ Martinists had succeeded in publishing a lot of material. In 1792 (April 24) Catherina II started a lawsuit against the rosicrucians. On May 17, 1792 Novikov and others were arrested and condemned to imprisonment. Prince Kourakine was sent in exile. When Catherina II died (November 6, 1796) Novikov's detention was abolished by the new king Paul I. Although an attempt was made by the new rulers to allow mysticism even at the court, Novikov and his circle would never fully recover to its former glory. Although Novikov was released by Emperor Paul I ( who was a Grand Master of the Maltese Order ) in 1796, he was forbidden to resume his journalistic activities. The restrictions on Masonry, Rosicrucianism, and Martinism had its cause in political matters. The forthcoming campaign of Napoleon de Bonaparte against Russia would not improve the situation of the Esoteric Freemasons in Russia.
"The isolated existence of Novikov when he retired from social life and that of Gamaleya who lived with him in almost complete isolation after Novikov's imprisonment might be symbolic for the end of that period. It is not by chance that the old generation of Rosicrucians did not participate in the Freemasonic movement of the time"
Vyacheslav Vs Ivanov "Russia & Gnosis"
After Novikov's arrest in 1792, Novikov's followers, who are also known as the ‘Theorists’, were forced to operate in small groups meeting each other at secret gatherings. In the early 1810's, Novikov and Gamaleya started working on the compilation of a collection which would be known as the ‘Bibliotheca Hermetica’, a collection in which the Order's spiritual legacy was preserved. Their followers, the ‘Theorists’, remained active during the entire 19th century, allthough in small numbers. As mentioned at the beginning, Novikov and several others started to found some Rosicrucian lodges around 1784. The traditions of these Masonic-Rosicrucian Lodges included "the practice of Christian virtues and self- improvement, philanthropy, Christian mysticism, and opposition to atheism, materialism, and revolutionary tendencies". In 1788 a lodge in Moscow was established, others would follow. Within 30 years there were lodges established all over Russia, including Siberia ; St.Petersburg (1802, a stronghold of Rosicrucian/Martinist activities in Russia), Orel, Simbirsk, Mohilef, Wologda, Jaroslaf, and Tchernigov. In 1822, under the reign of Alexander I, Freemasonry was banned.
Gamalei, Posdeév and Arsenyev were initiated by Novikov on December 12, 1796 in Lodge ‘Saint Jean l’Apôtre’ , a lodge founded by Novikov in 1791. Arsenyev (probably son or grandson of …1) initiated Pierre Kaznatcheév , who was appointed delegate of the French Supreme Council for Russia in 1911. Pierre M. Kaznatcheév, who was the leader of the Martinist Lodges in Moscow (‘Saint Jean l’apôtre’) and Vladimir, metV.S. Arsenyev in 1905, a Theorist, follower of Novikov. Kaznatcheév , who did not belong to the Masonic Order, discovered that his Martinist views were very close to the views of Novikov's followers, the"Theosophists . Kaznatcheév orientated his Martinist Lodges "to objectives similar to those of the Moscow "Theorists" ( A.I.Serkov, "a History of Masonic collections in Russia" ). Several sources (i.a. Ambelain) claim that Kaznatcheév was initiated in the 'Theoretical Degree" of the German "Orden der Gold und Rosenkreutzer", the Golden Rosicrucians. The degree concerned was called "Theoreticus" 2=8, and it is a fact that I.E.Schwartz had obtained the authority to promote the German Masonic ‘Orden der Gold und Rosenkreutzer’ in Russia at the end of the 18th century. The question is "what is actually the Russian Theoretical degree?". I have found a reference to the Russian ' Theoretical degree" in a paper written by A.I Serkov who refers to this ‘degree’ as a Masonic Rite, quote:
"V.D.Kamynin, Secretary of the "THEORETICAL DEGREE" of Freemasons"
The "Theoretical Degree" most likely refered to the "Theorists", the followers of Novikov. Novikov had blended various teachings (LC de Saint-Martin, Boehme, de Pasqually, Gold und Rosenkreutzer, Esoteric Christianity) into a masonic rite, which is considered today to be the source of what we call "Russian Martinism". The initiation Kaznatcheév received from Arsenyev, was probably an initiation into the rite of the"Theorists" from Moscow, the Masonic "Theoretical Degree ", or in full, "The Theoretical Degree of Freemasons ".
Kaznatcheév was the leader of lodge "Saint Jean l’Apôtre". The Moscow lodge was one of the main lodges in Russia, and many candidates received their initiations, among which Ouspensky (pupil of Gurdieff) andAndrey Bely, a friend of Rudolf Steiner.
- Another famous Russian Martinist lodge was Lodge ‘Appolonius’ in St.Petersburg. Later renamed in Chapter ‘Emesch Pentagrammaton’ it continued until (at least) 1927. In Kiev there existed, as mentioned in the beginning of this text, lodge ‘Saint André’, led by Serge Marcotoune, member of the ‘Suprême Conseil’, who had received his initiation by Kaznatcheév. Jean Bricaud allegedly was in contact with this lodge in 1922. Up to (at least) 1939 this lodge had an active branch in Paris. In 1939 Marcotoune left Russia for the Canary Isles. His lodge was not reactivated after the war. In 1970 Marcotoune transmitted his authority to George Terapiano (by written letter, dated January 22, 1970) to represent the Russian Martinist Order. Marcotoune died in 1971 (January 15, 1971). There was also a Martinist lodge working at the Russian court of the Tzar, lodge ‘La Croix et l'Etoile’ (Cross and Star) led by Nicolas Nicolaevitch. Among its members were members of the Romanoff family. Under the influence of Rasputin the Romanoffs allegedly stopped attending the meetings of this lodge. The ‘Russian Martinists’ allegedly did not recognize ‘La Croix et l'Etoile’ . Russian Martinism as we know it today, is a blend of the original Masonic Rosicrucian movement of Novikov, with Papus' ‘Ordre Martiniste’. The two compatible movements 'blended' when Kaznatcheév orientated his Martinist Lodges "to objectives similar to those of the Moscow "Theorists" around 1905.
1) the initiator of Kaznatcheév was ‘Arsenyev’. Novikov had initiated ‘a certain Arsenyev’ in 1796, this was probably the (grand-)father of Kaznatcheév's initiator, who's name was probably V.S.Arsenyev. At least 3 or 4 generations of the Arsenyav family were involved in Masonic activities and in the 19th century a substantial part of the Moscow ‘Theorist’ collection were guarded by the Arsenyev's. The Arseniev's ; S.N.Arsenyev, V.S.Arsenyev, I.V. (Ioann) Arsenyev, and M.J.Arsenyev.
- Summarizing the situation of Martinism in Russia before the revolution of 1917 the following picture emerges; three main centers of Martinism existed in Russia:
1) The Sovereign Chapter "Saint Jean l’Apôtre" at Moscow. The leading S:.I:. of the lodge was Pierre Kaznatcheév. Kaznatcheév, ‘a representative of the ancient Russian esoteric tradition’, had inherited the tradition of Novikov from his initiator Arseniev (Kaznatcheév i.a. inherited the original ritual sword of Novikov from Arseniev). The most famous members of this lodge were the poets Andrey Bely ( friend of Rudolf Steiner), Maximilien Voloschine, Valèrie Brioussov; the critic Serge Kretchetov and his wife, the actress Lydia Ryndina. Daniel Fontaine, in his essay "El Martinismo Ruso del siglo XVIII a nuestros días", also mentions the mystic P.D. Ouspensky – follower and disciple of GI Gurdjieff – as a member of this lodge.
The Sovereign Chapter "Appolonius" at St. Petersburg. The leading S:.I:. of this lodge was Grigory Ottonovich Von Mebes. G.O. Von Mebes was a professor of Mathematics and, from 1911 onwards, author of various works on i.a. the Cabala and Arcanology/ numerology. Later the lodge was renamed into Emesch Pentagrammaton. Daniel Fontaine ("El Martinismo Ruso del siglo XVIII a nuestros días" ) states that Lodge ‘Emesch Pentagrammaton’ was a kind of inner circle of the St. Petersburg lodge were the advanced members studied the higher learnings of the Cabala and numerology. Von Mebes had written two works for this superior degree, a degree that was granted at ‘Emesch Pentagrammaton’, among which a course on the Cabala (which included an explanation of the first ten chapters of ‘Genesis’). Among the advanced members were i.a. Boris Touaref, professor at the university of St.Petersburg and author of the book"God Initiator", Zelinsky – author of a series of articles and works on the mysteries of Ancient Greece. Furthermore, the linguist Etimov, the poet and historian Viatcheslav Ivanov, senator Zakharov –represented i.a. Czar Nicholas II at the court of the Dalai Lama in Lasa, Leon Von Goer and Mme Voiekov (published various works under the name of ‘Perséfona’). After the revolution, the circle of Von Mebes continued its work defying the circumstances until 1927-1928 when Von Mebes was arrested.
The Sovereign Chaptre ‘Saint André, Apostle nº 1’ at Kiev. The leading S:.I:. was Serge Marcotoune. He had received the authorization to found this lodge in 1912 from ‘Saint Jean l’Apôtre’ in Moscow. He allegedly also received a letter from Bricaud in which he’s chartered to establish a Supreme Council for the Ukrain (D.Fontaine) Marcotoune was a member of the Ukrainian government in 1917,"who, at all costs, tried to keep Ukrain outside of the political upheavals of 1917." In 1920 Marcotoune was forced to close the Ukrainian lodge. After his arrival in France, he regrouped the Russian and Ukrainian community of Martinists of Paris and founded a new lodge under the authority of Jean Bricaud (authority granted in a letter, dated December 22, 1920). This lodge was first named ‘Renaissance’ but later changed its name to ‘Saint André, Apostle nº 2’. Daniel Fontaine ("El Martinismo Ruso del siglo XVIII a nuestros días") states that he and his fellow researchers discovered an ‘member-list’ in the original archives of this French lodge of Russian Martinists. Fontaine mentions i.a. the names of prince Repnine, Dr. Camille Savoire (R.E.R.), Keranz, Artemio Galip, Golinitchek Koutouzov, Kadin, Romachkof, Raymond (Supreme Council of France), Djemil Martin, Ivanof, Dorojinsky, Ivraemof, Desquier, Malkowski, Toussaint (Brussels), Count Cheremeteff, de Tombay, Pierre de Ribaucourt, Charles Riandey, (Supreme Council of France), etc. With regard to the names of Savoir and Ribaucourt (both high dignitaries of the Rectified Scottish Rite) Fontaine states that it seems that both men were initiated at the end of their lives in this lodge. It appears as if both Savoir and Ribaucourt expected to find the sources and even the doctrines of the original R.E.R. in this Martinist lodge. During the German occupation from 1940-1944 the Russian lodge continued its work. In 1953 Marcotoune retired and went to Spain without appointing a successor. In 1969 he authorized Terapiano to constitute a new Martinist group. Marcotoune published a summary of the Martinist doctrine as taught in Russia under two titles in France: "The Secret Science of the Initiates" (Paris, 1928) and "The InitiaticPath" (Paris, 1956).
"Russian Martinism is Autonomous. According to Robert Ambelain, Martinism would have made it possible to study the occult sciences and the lessons of Saint- Martin – The Templar ‘Stricte Observance’ made it possible to apply the practical side of Martinism – The’Gold- und Rosenkreutzer’ authorized the studies of the Alexandrian Gnosis, the Cabala,
and Slavic Paganism. ".