Martinism and the Affair of Rennes

Beyond the Map and the Manuscript

Martinism and the Affair of Rennes

A video has recently been posted to the Agrippa's Diary channel on YouTube, entitled "The Martinist Order - The Unknown Heirs of the Christian Kabbalistic Arts", which offers an excellent introduction and overview of the history of Martinism. It provides a detailed account of the personalities and ideas which shaped the development of this extremely fascinating branch of Christian esoteric mysticism.

This topic is an important theme of The Map and the Manuscript, but due to limitations of space in the book I had to keep my discussion on its background to a brief minimum.

There are several moments in the video which offer insight into some of the items raised in my book, and in this blog post I would like to briefly highlight some of these connections.

There is a strong Martinist element hovering over the Rennes affair. To begin, the Seal of Solomon, their emblem, shown above, is embedded as a subliminal geometrical image within the famous parchments, which were not treasure maps found by a priest, but part of an elaborate literary exercise, or serious joke, created by a group of esoteric pranksters in Paris in the 1960s.

The parchments reference the Seal of the Martinists because they are reworkings of the curious map included in the strange book La Vraie Langue Celtique, written by the priest Henri Boudet in the late nineteenth century. This map is the true heart of the mystery.

The front cover of Boudet's book features the date 1886 in an elaborate arabesque. This has always posed a problem, because the publisher cited on the same page ceased operations in 1880. I have suggested in The Map and the Manuscript, that the date does not represent the year of publication, but refers to the foundation of the modern Ordre Martiniste. While this date is cited differently in various sources, sometimes as 1888, here it is in this video, as shown in the screenshot below, as elsewhere, given as 1886.

As shown in the slide, the stream of Martinism combined the ideas, philosophies and ritual work of three men, Martinez de Pasqually, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, otherwise known as the Unknown Philosopher.

Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin is a deeply fascinating figure who I mention in my book because of an intriguing link to Gérard de Nerval. The section of the video describing the life and thought of Saint-Martin begins at 13:32.

As described in the video, Saint-Martin established a ritual of initiation which was passed by private, one-to-one transmission. Two separate lineages of initiation were merged when Chaboseau met Encausse. One of these lines went through the writer and occultist, Henri Delaage, pictured at the top of this post. He appears in the video at 19:12.

Delaage was a close friend, confidant, and writing collaborator with Gérard de Nerval, the poet, whose story lies at the heart of The Map and the Manuscript. Nerval was a deep esotericist in his own right, through his vast reading, and travel, and personal circumstances. They must have made a formidable pair and forged a strong bond.

The question is: did Delaage initiate Nerval? This very question occupies Jean Richer in several passages of his works on the poet. He is circumspect in his conclusions in his discussion in the text, but is bold enough to caption a photo of Delaage (the one I've included above), with "le Maître? de Nerval".

None of this is to suggest any direct link between Nerval and the Rennes affair. The connection comes about indirectly, through Jean Richer's involvement on the periphery of the group who created the various documents, including the parchments, and especially through his relationship with Gérard de Sède.

The parchments are a reworking of Boudet's curious map, by someone who knew about the hidden grid layer which was concealed within the cartography. They include a subliminal Seal of Solomon, a subtle confirmation signal from the parchment makers that Boudet himself was part of a Martinist network of connections, and that his book contained broad hints of his involvement.

These are currents which flow beneath the surface, and do not necessarily lend themselves to open documentation, so an air of uncertainty will always accompany them. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise to find the threads of Martinism running through the elements making up the Rennes affair, as it is one of the pillars of the French esoteric world.

The new video from Agrippa's Diary offers an excellent summation and introduction to the history of Martinism in general, and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin in particular. Highly recommended.

The Map and the Manuscript: Journeys in the Mysteries of the Two Rennes

Available in Kindle, paperback, hardback and now ePub. Great British Bookshop

© 2023 Simon Miles

Ignotum Press

Unit W2/211 Woodend Mill 2

Manchester Road


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Beyond the Map and the Manuscript

Author, researcher, speaker. My first book, The Map and the Manuscript: Journeys in the Mysteries of the Two Rennes, was published by Ignotum Press in 2022. I blog here on topics connected with the book, including landscape alignments, ancient sites, France, the Pyrenees, Jean Richer, Rennes-les-Bains, alchemy, geometry, Jung, Gérard de Nerval, Le Serpent Rouge, the Affair of Rennes, and more.

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