In a letter received by the Sovereign Headquarters of the Rose Cross Order, someone unfamiliar with our
institution requested any information we might have about Cagliostro. He was very impressed with this
historical figure and had heard that Cagliosto had been a Rosicrucian. We present the following so that you
may have a more complete concept of Cagliostro,
the Grand Master of the Rosicrucian Order in the XVIII Century, and his
important contributions to the development of our Fraternity.
On several occasions during the regular studies of the Rose Cross Order it is mentioned that Cagliostro was
not only the founder of the well-known Egyptian Rite, but a dynamic agent in advancing the Rosicrucian
Tradition as well.
It is largely through his efforts that the initiations of the Rose Cross Order came to be in their present form,
and also that our Temples and Lodges came to be arranged as they are.
It was he who introduced the triangular altar, the Shekinah, in the center of the Rosicrucian Temples,
modeling it after the altar described by Count Saint Germain in his work The Holy Trinosophia.
Although the Count of Saint Germain had a very precise knowledge of the Rosicrucian wisdom and of the
symbolism expressed in the Degrees of study within the Chambers of Instruction, by means of certain
symbols, later enriched futher by other adepts, Cagliostro was particularly active in developing what
Saint Germain had taught. As a Rosicrucian Initiate of high degree, he put the teaching into practice to
make the Rosicrucian technique more effective and better adapted to the times.
It was also Cagliostro who introduced the ritualistic offices we know as Doves and Heralds. These positions
are held by children of Rosicrucian parents and represent the purity of conscience of Rosicrucians in the
Now however, more than of the history and innovations of Cagliostro, what is of interest to us and is covered
in one of the degrees of the Rose Cross Order, is the mission and personality of this High Initiate. It is
unfortunate that he has not been well understood by laymen due to the systematic slander carried out by
those intolerant people and sectarian institutions that, though professing to spirituality are more directly
concerned with temporal power and have acted to protect their own selfish interests.
Cagliostro, the Great Master Cagliostro, had nothing to do with the character described by Alejandro Dumas
in his work, The Life of Giuseppe Balsamo, nor with the character invented by the Inquisition to discredit the
Great Rosicrucian Teacher. In fact when the time came that Cagliostro fell into the hands of the Inquisition,
many who knew him and some of whom had been his pupils, said much the same thing that the crowd said
to Jesus: "Where are your powers? Why don't you free yourself and avoid the suffering?" They did not
understand the hidden law to which Cagliostro, who did understand, completely surrendered.
It is supposed that Cagliostro was son of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta - called Melo, and it is
known that his teacher was the Rosicrucian Althotas, who introduced him to the Great Mysteries that in
turn lead him to the Psychic Initiation in the Great Pyramid of Egypt when he experienced Illumination.
Cagliostro traveled extensively throughout Europe and the East and was everywhere remembered for his
generosity and noble spirit.
When asked why he shared so many blessings with other people and why he loved them above all, favoring
them over wealth and knowledge, curing the sick and attending to the needy, Cagliostro replied;
"All who wish to advance should sow and leave for others the harvesting of the crop."
Cagliostro, High Initiate that he was, considered himself a brother to both rich and poor, whether cultured or
ignorant, Arab or French. He declared: "I am not of any time or of any place; beyond time and space my
spiritual being lives an eternal existence. I turn my thoughts back over the ages and I project my spirit
toward an existence far beyond that which you perceive, I become what I choose to be. Participating
consciously in the Absolute Being, I arrange my actions according to what is at hand. My name defines
my actions because I am free. My country is wherever my feet stand at the moment. Put yesterday
behind you if you dare, like the forgotten ansestors who came before you, give no thought to the morrow
and the illusionary hope of greatness that will never be yours, I will be what I am."
His generosity was such that, night after night, during the time that he was imprisoned in France over the
matter of the diamond necklace to which we will refer later, he left his cell by a secret passageway and went out to help those in need of help to recover from illness and who, because of their humble circumstances, others would not help.
Cagliostro was an emissary of the Great White Brotherhood dedicated to a mission of transforming the heart
of society as it was at that time. It was he who advocated to the initiatic societies of his time that if the
transformation could not come about naturally, they could advance it by their efforts.
Unfortunately those that had the power to transform society, that is the nobles and clergy, were in opposition
and not willing to give up their privileges or share them with the townsfolk and so brought on the French
Cagliostro was an Initiate of first magnitude in all the Initiatic Orders of his time, recognized by them with
the highest honors. He was initiated into the Rite of Swedenborg and a friend of Martinez de Pasqually who
inducted him into the Order of the Select Knights of Cohen where he attained the Highest Degree, the secret Degree of the Reau Croix. He collaborated with Willermotz, and Louis Claude de Saint Martin, was Grand Master of the Scottish Rite, Grand Master of the Rite of Filaletas, as well as the codifier and Grand Copt of the Egyptian Rite.
He knew and worked with the Count Saint Germain in the effort to bring about a peaceful and natural social
transformation. When this failed the social upheaval began that would lead to the French Revolution.
He was even the initiator of the young lieutenant from Corso named Napoleon, who later became Emperor
of France and actively spread the new ideas throughout Europe and later to the entire western world.
His great knowledge, cultural refinement and good nature resulted in his frequenting the most distinguished
parlors in France where, early in his mission, he awakened envy in certain noblemen who attempted to
ridicule him by means of a farce. It is told that when he was appearing before an audience of illustrious
people, three beggars were presented who asked him if he could cure them, one of deafness, another of
blindness, and another of a grievous skin condition. Cagliostro agreed to help them and then told them
they could depart as they were cured of their ills. With unceremonious laughter the supposed beggars threw
off their rags and revealed themselves as noblemen, idle young men who wanted only to expose someone
they considered an impostor.
To the jeering crowd Cagliostro declared with solemn voice: "Remember that if you are not deserving of what I
give you, I can take it back." The young men began to cry out because one had become deaf, another blind
and the third tormented by an affliction of the skin. Cagliostro, always generous, forgave them and the young
men were restored to normalcy but from that time on no one made light of the healing powers of Cagliostro.
His friendship with the Cardinal of Rouhan, who had been tricked into believing that he should buy a necklace
of diamonds for Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, lead to his involvement in the matter of the diamond
necklace that caused such a scandal at the time and even provoked events resulting in the French
Revolution. Cagliostro was imprisoned and remained a prisoner while awaiting trial even though he had many
opportunities to escape. He remained convinced that justice would prevail in the end and that his mission on
behalf of humanity was not yet finished.
Many curious stories are related about the trial of Cagliostro. One is of how the documents of accusation
faded as his accusers read them. His masterful defense address drew upon the Rosicrucian First Degree
initiation ritual: "As one coming from the South and the brilliant light of noon, with full knowledge of nature
and active communion with God, I now go toward the North into the fog and, abandoning at every step a
piece of myself, giving way, diminishing at each stop leaving a little more light for you, a little more clarity
and warmth, a little more vitality, until the end of my journey when the Rose blossoms in its fullness on the
Cross. I am Cagliostro."
The great bringer of Light was never pardoned and his opponents attacked him at the weakest point they
could find, exploiting his love for his wife Lorenza Feliciani. In spite of his kindness, charm, and honor,
members of the Inquisition convinced her that her husband was the devil's representative and servant.
Professing a sacred office while carrying out their low purpose these enemies circulated letters throughout
Europe with fantastic stories that had been fabricated by Giuseppe Balm to discredit the Master.
Incomprehensible to laymen but in accordance with a declaration he had made previously Cagliostro
declared: "A great love attracts me toward all creatures in an impulsive and irresistible way, with a profound
feeling for the rights of all the creatures dwelling in the sky and upon the earth, I feel a compelling urge to
reach always toward life." Cagliostro put himself within closer reach of the Inquisition by traveling to Rome.
He established a Lodge in Rome, to which a very select group of people belonged, but among them was a
traitor named Francesco de San Maurizio who was a spy and agent for the Church. It was he who provided
the accusations, whether true or false, that led to Cagliostro's arrest and imprisonment.
Cagliostro knew what would happen to him and in fact entered the wolf's lair in a rather deliberate way.
He knew that that the immense privilege that had been granted him of serving humanity so grandly would
extract a very high price. The hidden law sets forth the principle that when a person reveals to others the
most sacred and highest laws of the universe they become responsible for the use that their students make
of what they learn.
To understand what he had taught and use it properly would require the same grand spirit and understanding
that Cagliostro himself possessed. None of his students rose to such heights.
He was imprisoned and tortured in the Castle of Santangelo and convicted of accusations based, among
other things, on statements extracted from him by the torturing of his wife. By this means a confession was
obtained that he worshipped the devil and that he blasphemed against the name of the Lord.
By means of force the same confession was obtained from him as from Raymond VI, the Count of Toulouse,
and Jacques of Molay the Grand Master of the Knights Templar. He was compelled to appear before the
Church of Saint Mary's in penitent's garments and recant all of his errors. Even after all the torture and
persecution, the acts of penitence, Cagliosto was not forgiven but rather put in the dungeon in the fortress
of San Leo in conditions equal to being buried alive.
The French Revolution had exploded by this time and the French troops were spreading the ideals of freedom,
equality and brotherhood that were already taking hold in France but to prevent his being freed Cagliostro
was strangled in its cell on the 28th day of August in 1795.
A popular legend says that Cagliostro did not die, that the body found in his cell was that of a monk who had
come to offer spiritual solace. Be that as it may, what is important is that the work he carried out will live
on through the centuries.
Those who wished to erase the memory of Cagliostro are already long forgotten but the memory of Cagliostro
will remain through many generations.
May Peace Profound always dwell in your heart.