Gérard Anaclet Vincent Encausse (La Coruña 1865 – Paris 1916), born in Spain to a Spanish mother and French father, was a doctor, hypnotist and occultist under the pseudonym of Papus.
He spent his early childhood in France, where he received his early education. From his youth, he was interested in occultism works, mainly training himself on the writings of Éliphas Lévi. It was precisely Levi’s translation of Apollonius da
Tiana’s Nuctemeron that inspired the nom de plume of Papus, which in the text is the name of the Genius of the First Hour. He later joined Madame Blavatsky‘s Theosophical Society, but his disappointment, motivated by the Society’s excessive emphasis on Eastern thought, soon drove him away.
Encausse’s personal history is closely intertwined with Martinism, the spiritual doctrine inspired by Louise Claude de Saint-Martin (1743-1803), a French mystic and philosopher known as the Incognito Philosopher. We should bear in mind that not all sources agree with the exact unfolding of the events, so we will provide a not necessarily complete and exhaustive description of the unfolding of the same.
In 1882 Encausse was initiated into the “Intimates of Saint-Martin” by Henri Delaage, another disciple of Saint-Martin, who had consecrated him as “Superior Incognito”. Augustin Chaboseau (1868-1946), a French occultist and historian, had, in turn, received the same transmission in 1886 from his aunt. In 1888, together with Stanislas de Guaita (1861-1897), French poet and esotericist, Encausse and Chaboseau founded the Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian. Encausse and Chaboseau later discovered that they had received legitimate Martinist initiation through two distinct chains of succession; to “reinforce” the lineage, they decided to exchange their respective initiations. We trace the Martinist Order’s birth and its connection with the Order of the Rosicrucian to this event, accessible only to those who had received the third Martinist degree.
Some sources claim that in 1893 Encausse was consecrated bishop of the Gnostic Church of France by its founder, Jules Doinel, who was trying to revive the Cathar religion.
Despite his commitment to esoteric acquaintances, Encausse found the time to continue his academic studies at the University of Paris, graduating in Medicine in 1894; he then opened a clinic in Paris, which was remarkably successful.
In 1895 he joined the Ahathoor Temple in Paris of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the secret society founded in Great Britain devoted to ritual magic and theurgy. This participation is considered doubtful.
In the early 1900s, he went to Russia three times, in the service of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra, serving at court both as a doctor and as an occultist. Considering the significant addiction that the tsar and the tsarina showed towards occult matters, Encausse often found himself in the adviser position for government matters; on more than one occasion, he warned them of Rasputin’s nefarious influence.
In 1901 Encausse was involved in a journalistic dispute over a series of articles he published in a Parisian newspaper, in which he denounced the presence of a Jewish conspiracy aimed at weakening the Franco-Russian alliance. He was accused of anti-Semitism and of being the author of the famous and controversial Protocol of the Elders of Zion.
In 1908 Encausse met Theodor Reuss, a Franco-German Freemason occultist and founder of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Reuss promoted Encausse to the 10th degree of the OTO.
At the First World War outbreak, Encausse enlisted in the army as a military hospital doctor in Paris. There, he fell ill with tuberculosis and died in 1916 at the age of 51.
His bibliography includes writings on occultism, the Kabbalah, practical magic and the Tarot. For the latter’s study, his book Le Tarot des Bohémiens remains one of the milestones on the subject.