The Myth of Real Life Immortal - The Count of Saint Germain

facebook

Let's check out the life of a real immortal - the Count of Saint Germain!

Achieving immortality may sound like the stuff of fiction, but this is the startling claim of a mysterious, real-life historical figure called The Count of Saint-Germain. His existence has been recorded in numerous accounts throughout history – as recently as the 1970s – yet he never seemed to age, and sometimes took on alternate identities. He was sometimes known as “Der Wunderman” – or “The Wonder Man” – and has been considered a prophet, a charlatan, a healer, a spy and a visionary – but who was The Immortal Count, and could he really live forever?

Nicolas Thomas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The engraving above – created by Nicolas Thomas in 1783 – is one of the only known images we have of The Count of Saint-Germain. It was apparently based on a lost painting once owned by the Marquise D’Urfe, one of the richest and most eccentric women in France. Although it would probably be best to start this tale at the very beginning, the origin story of this mysterious Count is murky, to say the least. Exactly when the man who went, or goes, by the name of The Count of Saint-Germain was born is unknown, most accounts suggest it was sometime around the 1690s. In fact, a genealogy compiled by Annie Besant for her book ‘The Comte de St. Germain: The Secret of Kings’ asserts that he was born the son of Francis Racozi II, Prince of Transylvania in 1690.

Meanwhile, various other claims state that he was the illegitimate son of Maria Anna of Pfalz-Neuburg – the widow of Charles II of Spain – or even the son of the king of Portugal, presumably John V. Although we may not know for sure, he seems to have been at least some degree of royalty who was too removed by lineage to be able to assume a throne. Other rumours – taken less seriously – suggest that he was actually around during the time of Christ, and even attended the wedding at Cana where a young Jesus turned water into wine. The particularities of the Count’s actual birth, life and death are based mostly on conflicting anecdotes and legendary accounts, and it’s safe to say he is – to this day – a living mystery.

One thing that is widely agreed upon is how accomplished The Count of Saint-Germain was believed to be when it comes to alchemy. This ancient branch of natural philosophy seeks to elicit some form of supernatural change through material experimentation. This usually involved turning basic substances – such as metals – into other, more valuable, substances. One of the main goals of alchemy is to create something called “projection powder”, otherwise known as the elusive “philosopher's stone” – a concept made famous with modern audiences by author J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter franchise. In alchemy, this mystical substance is said to be able to turn base metals such as lead into pure gold. But that’s not all: The Philosopher’s Stone could also be used as an elixir that would bestow immortality on those who drank it.

It is widely speculated that The Count may have discovered this secret of alchemy, which rewarded him with his famed powers of immortality. Those who met The Count of Saint-Germain were said to be astonished by his seemingly supernatural abilities. Upon meeting The Count in 1760, the famous Italian author Casanova commented: “This extraordinary man… would say in an easy, assured manner that he was three hundred years old, that he knew the secret of Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds…all this, he said, was a mere trifle for him.”

Although he would eventually outlive them, most of the Count’s travels have been documented by others throughout history. Despite word of his existence stemming back centuries, the Count of Saint-Germain first came into prominence in the high society of Europe. After allegedly spending 5 years learning jewellery craft in the Shah of Persia’s court, The Count arrived in Versailles in 1742 where he beguiled the royals and the rich elites with his vast knowledge of science and history, his natural charm and quick wit.

There were no doubts that he was a man of great education – in fact, he reportedly spoke many languages fluently, including French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and English, as well as being familiar with Chinese, Latin, Arabic and even Ancient Greek and Sanskrit! He was also a man of many talents. He was an accomplished painter, could play the violin like a virtuoso and he was also ambidextrous; allegedly able to simultaneously compose a letter with one hand and poetry with the other. Basically, you had no hope of impressing the ladies at a party if this guy was around.

The Count of Saint-Germain was also thought to be very wealthy, despite having no recorded bank accounts. Perhaps this suggests he was descended from royalty, or even that he really could turn base metals into gold through alchemy. According to some accounts, he set up an elaborate laboratory wherever he travelled and claimed to be able to turn several small diamonds and pearls into big ones, which he used to decorate his clothes. He was also a man of many quirks. Although he dined regularly with friends for company, he was rarely seen eating food in public – in fact, it was said that he lived on a diet of oatmeal alone. Anyone who had the pleasure of making the Count’s acquaintance had no doubt that he was a truly remarkable man, but it was one anecdote from the year 1760 that seemingly gave rise to the idea that he was actually immortal.

That year, The Count was in Paris when an elderly woman named Countess von Georgy heard that he would be attending a soiree at the home of Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV of France. The old countess was intrigued by the news because she herself had personally known a Count of Saint-Germain while she was in Venice in 1710. When she met the Count for a second time, she was astonished to find that he looked as if he hadn’t aged a day. Naturally, she asked if, perhaps, his father formerly lived in Venice and went by the same name. To this, the Count simply replied, “No Madame, but I myself was living in Venice at the end of the last and the beginning of this century; I had the honour to pay you court then.” Totally perplexed, the Countess declared that this would be impossible, stating: “The Count de Saint-Germain I knew in those days was at least forty-five years old. And you, at the outside, are that age at present.”

One might assume the elderly Countess was simply mistaken, but there are recorded accounts of the Count being of a similar age in Venice at that time. Author Baron de Gelichen wrote in his book “Souvenirs de Charles-Henri Baron de Gleichen”, published in 1868: “I have heard Rameau and an old relative of the French Ambassador at Venice testify to having known St. Germain in 1710 when he had the appearance of a man of fifty years of age”. The Count is said to have been seemingly unbothered by the Countess’ discovery, simply telling her “Madame, I am very old” with a knowing smile.

A complete timeline of the Count’s supposed whereabouts over the centuries – made up mainly of anecdotes, historical records and literary accounts – is far too extensive to cover. Throughout the 18th century, however, The Count of Saint-Germain travelled widely through Europe, using his seemingly endless knowledge of politics and the world to charm the elite. During the 1740s, he became a trusted diplomat in the court of King Louis XV of France, allegedly performing secret missions for him in England. In 1763, he performed a similar function at the Hague in the Netherlands, which is where he met the infamous lover Giacomo Girolamo Casanova. 1765, he travelled to Russia where it is said he was complicit in a conspiracy that placed Catherine the Great on the throne.

In 1774, he returned to France when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette occupied the throne. While there, he acted as the Queen’s “mysterious advisor” and apparently warned them of the revolution that would follow 15 years in the future. It’s really no surprise that Marie Antoinette gravitated towards The Count, considering that we know she was obsessed with maintaining her own appearance of youth and beauty. We know about The Counts’ stay at the French Royal court thanks to translated passages from a rare book from 1821 called Souvenirs de Marie-Antionette, which was written by The Countess d’Adhémar – an intimate friend of the queen. She names Saint-Germain multiple times and writes: “he appeared at the Court of France long before me. It was 1743… whence did he come? That is what no one has ever been able to learn.” Once more, he is described as being “about forty to forty-five years old”, while “his countenance, haughty, intellectual, acute, struck one at first sight”.

After his stay at the French court of Versailles, The Count travelled to Hamburg, Germany in 1779 where he befriended Prince Charles of Hesse-Cassel. According to Isabel Cooper-Oakley in her book “The Comte de St. Germain” – perhaps the most famous biography of Saint-Germain’s life – upon arrival, the Count told Prince Charles that he was the son of the Transylvanian Prince Francis II Rákóczi and that he was 88-years-old. The Count impressed the prince with his gem collection and convinced him that he had invented a new way of colouring cloth. According to the Prince’s personal memoirs, he outfitted a laboratory in his nearby summer residence in Louiselund where he and the Count collaborated in alchemical experiments as well as creating gemstones and jewellery.

For the next five years, The Count of Saint-Germain lived in an abandoned factory on the Prince’s estate in Eckernförde. Local records state that is also where the Count died on February 27th, 1784 – talk about a plot twist! He was buried in a private grave on March 2nd, and his death was recorded in the register of the St. Nicolai Church in Eckernförde. On April 3rd that year, the mayor and the city council issued an official proclamation about auctioning off the Count’s remaining effects, should no living relative appear to claim them. Prince Charles donated the factory to the crown, and it was later converted into a hospital. For any ordinary mortal, this would be the end of the story, but for The Count of Saint-Germain? Not even close.

As we know, The Count was about as far from ordinary as you can get. In fact, the renowned 18th-century philosopher Voltaire – a well-respected man of science and reason – said himself that Saint-Germain is “a man who never dies, and who knows everything.” The Count’s death may have been officially recorded, but that did not stop him from popping up again throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1785, he was reportedly seen in Germany with Anton Mesmer, the pioneer hypnotist.

Official Freemasonry records – such as one account from the German ‘Magazin der Beweisführer für Verurtheilung des Freimaurer-Ordens’ – also state that the group chose The Count of Saint-Germain as their representative for a convention in Paris that same year. Countess d’Adhémar even writes of seeing The Count multiple times more in France, including an appearance at Marie Antoinette’s execution in 1793. In her book, she writes "I saw Saint-Germain again, and always to my unspeakable surprise: at the assassination of the Queen.” The Countess also claims to have seen The Count – five times more, totally unaged. The final time was on the eve of the murder of the Duke de Berri in 1820, just two years before she herself died in 1822.

But these aren’t the only significant historical events the Count was reportedly seen at. According to the Freemasons – whom The Count was rumoured to be a part of – a mysterious man bearing resemblance to Saint Germain was also present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1775, nearly 10 years before his death was recorded in Germany.

To avoid arousing suspicion, it would also seem that The Count also assumed new identities at various times. In 1820, Englishman Albert Vandam wrote in his memoirs “an Englishman in Paris” of a mysterious man he knew towards the end of Louis Phillipe’s reign and whose life bore a curious resemblance to that of The Count of Saint-Germain: “He called himself Major Fraser”, writes Vandam, “he lived alone and never alluded to his family. Moreover, he was lavish with money, though the source of his fortune remained a mystery to everyone. He possessed a marvellous knowledge of all the countries in Europe at all periods.”

Sound familiar? If that wasn’t enough, Vandam goes on to write that “Like Saint-Germain, Major Fraser had the appearance of a man of between forty and fifty, of middle height and strongly built.” Major Fraser astonished the Parisian Court – much like The Count had years earlier – claiming to have personally known a whole host of historical figures from Emperor Nero to Dante. But then he disappeared without a trace. Could he possibly be the same Major James Fraser who, in 1820, published an account of his journey in the Himalayas in which he said he had reached Gangotri – the source of the most sacred river – and bathed in the source of the Jumna river?

In the last decade of the eighteenth century, The Count of Saint-Germain confided his future plans to his Austrian friend, author Franz Graeffer. In Graeffer’s book ‘Kleine Wiener Memoiren’ from 1843, he writes that The Count told him: “toward the end of this century I shall disappear out of Europe and betake myself to the region of the Himalayas.” And as if you weren’t weirded out enough already, things are about to get straight-up mystical.

We may never know what really happened to Major Fraser, but Saint-Germain’s name found relevance once again between 1880-1900 when the famed mystic Helena Blavatsky claimed that he was still alive and working toward the “spiritual development of the West.” Blavatsky was a Russian philosopher and author who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875 and gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy.

Theosophy is an occult movement which centres around a belief in spiritual reality and that direct contact with such a reality can be reached through intuition, meditation, revelation or some other state transcending normal human consciousness. In the 1870s, Blavatsky described a group of enlightened beings she called the “Masters of Ancient Wisdom.” Unlike ‘Ascended Masters’ – a similar Theosophical group of ‘masters’ disembodied and living in higher realms, like saints or angels – the Masters of Ancient Wisdom are physically incarnated in mortal bodies. As one of these so-called masters, Saint-Germain is believed by Theosophists to have many magical powers such as the ability to teleport, levitate and even walk through walls!

Madame Blavatsky in Adyar, India, with Masters Kuthumi, El Morya and Saint Germain. Credits unknown

It may seem like a load of Hocus-Pocus, but the photograph above, taken in Adyar, India, appears to prove that Blavatsky did indeed know the Count – or at least someone claiming to be him. While Blavatsky sits front-and-centre, the accompanying caption reads that the men standing behind her from left to right are: Lord Kuthumi, Lord Morya and – you guessed it – Lord Saint-Germain.

According to Theosophical beliefs, The Count of Saint-Germain is said to have adopted various “alter egos” as well as numerous incarnations throughout his lifetime, including some of history’s greatest geniuses and most iconic figures. Some believe him to be Cartaphilus, the legendary ‘Wandering Jew’ who mocked Jesus on the way to his crucifixion on Good Friday – cursed with eternal life and destined to walk the Earth until the end of days.

Others think Saint-Germain was once King Arthur’s legendary aide Merlin the Magician, who supposedly lived from about the year 540 to August 584. You may think Merlin is simply a myth, but according to author John Matthews, who published a book called Merlin: Shaman, Prophet, Magician, there’s actually more evidence to support the existence of Merlin in the 5th and 6th centuries – formerly known as ‘Myrddin’ – than there is of Arthur himself! Could it be possible that the world’s most famous wizard was still dabbling in magic and alchemy centuries later in the Parisian Court of Versailles rather than at Camelot?

Dr. Raymond Bernard’s book ‘The Great Secret, Count St. Germain’ claims that Saint-Germain was actually the 17th Century’s famous statesman scientist Sir Francis Bacon by birth, and later authored the complete plays attributed to William Shakespeare! According to the Ascended Master teachings of Theosophy, Francis Bacon made it appear that he died on Easter Sunday, 9th April 1626 and even attended his own “funeral” in disguise. This version of events also states that The Count of Saint-Germain attained his immortality and physical ascension through means of alchemy on 1st May 1684, at which time Francis Bacon adopted the new name “Saint-Germain”.

Other variations of the Ascended Master Teachings go even further to suggest that Saint-Germain was, at some point, also incarnated as important figures such as the Greek Philosopher Plato and Italian explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus, although these are arguably not as universally accepted as some of the other figures. The most recent appearance of The Count of Saint-Germain was in 1972 in Paris, when a man named Richard Chanfray announced he was the legendary Count.

Chanfray was a public figure whose career in magic began in a Parisian theatre, where he was announced as “the man who could transmute lead into gold”. He quickly became rich and famous through his relationship with French singer Dalida and his exploits, giving divination and psychic readings to various celebrities, making a name for himself through his outlandish claims. Like the Count, Chanfray attributed his super-human abilities to the art of alchemy. In fact, he even appeared on French television to prove his claim by turning lead into gold on a camp stove in front of the cameras!

In the demonstration, he dips the end of some lead wire into Projection Powder – AKA the elusive Philosopher’s Stone – and returns it to the crucible to be heated. Once heated, it is removed from the stove and cooled by dropping it in water. Chanfray then opens the crucible and presents the wire – which has now turned a vibrant yellow – declaring that it has been turned to gold.

Le Secret de la Longue Vie, Le Troisième Œil, 28 Janv. 1972

Following the demonstration, the metal was allegedly appraised by experts and found to be gold. The lead wire had been provided by the TV crew, while Chanfray brought the crucible as well as the Philosopher’s Stone. As well as observing the process first-hand, the crew claimed to have examined all the equipment and concluded that no special effects had been used. Of course, there are many who still believe Chanfray was simply performing an elaborate magic trick, perhaps involving sleight-of-hand. Although the transmutation of base metals such as lead into gold had certainly become a possibility by the dawn of the 20th century, it usually requires a particle accelerator and a vast supply of energy to produce even the smallest amount of gold - not a mere camp stove and a pinch of supposed magical powder.

Transmutation wasn’t Chanfray’s only claim to being Saint-Germain. In fact, he supposedly had a whole host of abilities which made him just as extraordinary as the immortal count. When invited to old palaces or castles, Chanfray claimed to have been there before in a past life. He would even demonstrate this by explaining the layout of the house, providing the location of specifics like the location of the stairs and identifying secret passages. Of course, it has also been suggested that Chanfray studied the blueprints of these buildings – which may have been available to the public – before visiting them.

Spanish TV reporter José María Íñigo also claimed to have visited Chanfray’s house, where he witnessed him revive a dog from the dead. According to Íñigo, Chanfray threw some Projection Powder over the dog's corpse, which – after a few spasmodic movements – arose and walked a few steps before falling dead again. Unfortunately, there’s no photographic evidence to back these claims up, but at the very least it’s a pretty alarming anecdote which aligns with the assumed magical powers of The Count of Saint-Germain. But if you want to ask quiz Chanfray further on the particulars of his reincarnation as the mystical count, you’ll have very little luck – because he passed away in 1983.

Although some might find it hard to believe that the Count of Saint-Germain was really reincarnated as various different figures throughout history, the concept itself is not as fantastical as it might seem. In fact, the selection of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lamas – the head monks of Tibetan Buddhism – relies heavily on the theory of reincarnation. When the current Lama is nearing the end of his life, he speaks of the area where he will be re-incarnated next. His followers will then arrive at that location with personal items belonging to the spiritual leader and will ask the supposed next in line to identify them.

If reincarnation has been such an integral part of the Buddhist religion and the Dalai Lama lineage – spanning back centuries – is it too bold to assume that The Count of Saint Germain – as ‘Master of Ancient Wisdom’ – relied on a similar concept? Since Richard Chanfray’s death, no one has claimed to be The Count of Saint-Germain. It would seem that – having lived in the full blaze of publicity for so many centuries – this extraordinary man has simply vanished. Perhaps the immortal count still walks among us and is already involved in some of the most important affairs in modern history, waiting to reveal his true identity.

Who was this mystical man, who beguiled some of the greatest figures in history with his natural charm, worldly knowledge and extraordinary talents? Was he really a successful alchemist who found the secret of eternal life? Was he a mystical ‘Master of Ancient Wisdom’ destined to be reincarnated time and time again? Perhaps – as some of the more outlandish theories have suggested – he was actually a time-traveller, a fallen angel, a lone alien or even a handsome vampire! Of course, we could also speculate that maybe he was just a highly intelligent man whose reputation became the stuff of fantastic legend. When it comes to The Count of Saint-Germain, it seems like there are still more questions than answers, but – if his marvellous history is anything to go by – we may not have seen the last of him yet!

Top Picks For You


icon Popular

Popular


icon More From Fun Facts

More From Fun Facts


icon More From Mysteries

More From Mysteries