Source: Tarot Majors – London 2020
Baron Grigory Ottonovich Mebes (Russian: Григорий Оттонович Мёбес) was born in Riga in 1868. After graduating in 1981 from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the University of St. Petersburg, Mebes gave up his career and devoted himself entirely to the study of “occult knowledge”. In the school year 1904-1905, he taught physics and mathematics at the Czarkoye Selo Directing School and at the Nikolaev gymnasium, as well as physics at the girls’ school of the Ministry of Public Education; from 1906 to 1917, he taught mathematics at the Page
Corporation and the Nikolaevsk Cadet Corporation. His first wife was Olga Yevgrafovna Nagornova, from whom she separated in 1912, which did not prevent her from later playing a prominent role in Martinism.
The Martinist Lodge, a branch of the French Order of the same name (the Cabalistic Order of the Rose and the Cross), was founded in Russia by the French occultist Gérard Encausse, known under the pseudonym of Papus. In late 1910, Mebes became Inspector General (Secretary) of the St. Petersburg section of the Order, and in 1911-1912 he gave a series of lectures in St. Petersburg on the Encyclopedia of the Occult, which followed almost entirely Papus’ theories. These lectures, published under the pseudonym of GOM, were very popular, as evidenced by the many memoirs and reviews.
In August 1912, Mebes tried to free himself from the tutelage of Parisian leaders, proclaiming the Russian Martinists’ independence. The Apollonia lodge, headed by Mebes (with the initiatory name of Butator, the angel regent of calculations), was declared Grand Lodge (Grand Council of Russia). The situation was clarified by the end of 1912, after the official report of Mebes, the information of Papus regarding the breaking up and the founding in Russia of an independent order called the “Autonomous Section of Russian Obedience Martinism”, led by the “Invisible Master “.
In 1913 the Martinists of St. Petersburg, led by Mebes, formed an autonomous chain specific to OMOR, with a marked Templar colouring. In 1916 it was transformed into the “Eastern Obedience of the Martinist Order” ruled by the “Invisible Master” and the Father (GOM). Its official representative was a student of Mebes, Inspector General IK Antoshevsky (with the initiatory name of Hyacinthus). In the summer of 1917, after the killing of IK Antoshevsky, VV Bogdanov, another student from Mebes, took his place. The Chapter of the Order consisted of seven people, and the official press organ of the Russian Martinists was Isis magazine.
In 1918-1921 Mebes gave a series of lectures in Petrograd on the Book of Zohar and his second wife, Maria Nesterova, on religions’ history. Maria Nesterova’s influence in occult currents was remarkable: she founded, in 1916, the Society for the Awakening of Pure Wisdom and the Martinezist Order. Another company, the Promethean Group, was established to form an internal circle of GOM initiates, whose teachings were given in secret during the Civil War (1919-1922).
The stated goal of the Russian Martinists was, on the one hand, to prepare those on their way to high initiatory attainment (which was the main goal) and, on the other, to broaden the secondary esoteric education of those who do not. They were deemed capable of attaining the highest initiation. In addition to purely theoretical studies, they carried out practical activities to develop telepathic and psychometric skills among the members (discovering facts and events through contact with objects).
Aleksandr M. Aseev (1902-1993), physician and editor of the book “Occultism and Yoga”, credits the version that the three main branches of the Russian initiatory movement – Freemasonry, Martinism and Rosicrucianism – existed in the form of separate and independent organizations. However, they were led by the same person – GO Mebes. All three orders worked closely together and often included the same people. According to AM Aseev, the Martinist and Rosicrucian lodges were housed in the mansion of Mebes in the Peski district and were magnificently furnished.
However, a critic of AM Aseev, NA Bogomolov, notes that Mebes’ apartment was not in Peski but at 5 Rozhdestvenskaya Street. That is true, but Bogomolov does not consider that in 1917 – early 1918, Mebes lived for a while in Peski, where he taught. All of this tells us that AM Aseev was indeed very well informed, and his information can therefore be said to be accurate. Although his conclusion that Mebes was allegedly the unofficial leader of the Russian initiatory movement, not only at the beginning of the last century but also in the 1920s, is an evident distortion. Another fact is that Freemasons, Martinists and Rosicrucians are, in essence, links in the same chain – they have always worked and work in close contact with each other.
Boris Astromov, appointed Inspector General of the Martinist Order by GOM, came into conflict with his master and decided to found two rival groups, the Free Freemasons of Russia and the Grand Lodge Astreia. In 1925 he offered his services as an informant to the OGPU – the Bolshevik regime’s secret police – by betraying his old friends. The wave of arrests that followed in 1926 was known as the Leningrad Freemason Case. As reported by the Leningradskaya Pravda and Krasnaya Zvezda newspapers, the investigation said that Leningrad housed “obscure Masonic lodges with several dozen members, Masters, consecrations, blood oaths, statutes, foreign correspondence and participation fees.”
GOM was arrested, accused of being a ‘Black Wizard’ and sent to a gulag on the White Sea islands in Ust-Sysolsk. He is believed to have died in 1930, or according to other sources, four years later.