Friday, April 14, 2017


Paul Sédir and the ‘Inconnu’

Yves le Loup (1871-1926) better known by his mystery name of Paul Sédir, one of the most erudite and experienced occultists in the circle of Papus and Stanislas de Guaita, and member of a number of initiatory societies, abandoned them to follow the mystical teaching of Maïtre Philippe, founding the Société des Amitiés Spirituelles (Society of Spiritual Friends) which still exists and publishes a number of his works. One of them, with the significant title of Quelques Amis de Dieu (Some Friends of  God), under the rubric of Un Inconnu (An Unknown) describes his Maïtre Philippe as follows.

“I affirm that I have had over a long period, the good fortune to see a living man who, without apparent effort, realised the perfection of the Gospels...Perhaps some anxious souls will be encouraged if one of their companions affirms that the promises of Christ are real because he has seen and touched experimental proof  of them. That Christ, our Lord, said that one day He would give his Friends the power to perform miracles greater than his own; I have seen these accomplished.  The Christ also said to his Friends that He would be with them until the end of the world; I have seen this hidden presence.

“The life of my Unknown one provides a series of such proofs...You will recognise in him, I hope, one of these mysterious ‘brothers’ of the Lord, one of the greatest, the greatest perhaps, of the heralds of the Absolute...His doctrine was entirely that of the Gospels and he valued books in proportion to their agreement with their teaching. He accepted the writings of the Apostles to the letter and regarded modern exegesis as superfluous.

“If one could love one’s neighbour like oneself, Heaven would reveal the true meaning of these texts. He showed little interest in argument, placing brotherly love before all, before prayer and even before faith. He called pride and egoism the greatest obstacles to our advancement. This man without any higher qualifications could reveal the errors of experts...He explained his powers and knowledge by saying “A child of God, (a being pure enough to sacrifice self for others and immediately forget it), knows all things without need of study...

“Now this Christian, this philosopher, was, above all, the most extraordinary wonder worker.  I have seen all the marvels performed by saints accomplished by him. Miracles flourished at his feet, they seemed natural, inevitable, and nothing but prayer evoked them...He exercised the same power in the same way over animals, plants, events and even the elements.”

(His causing a lightning strike and thunder bolt close to Papus was a particularly spectacular way of endorsing a conversion! And his daughter in law remarked that the expression on the face of Papus after the experience was enough to convince anyone that it had really happened!)

On many occasions Maïtre Philippe, Sédir’s ‘Inconnu’ demonstrated his powers to experts,  although it could happen that an ‘expert witness’ would refuse to bear witness to having seen facts deemed to be ‘inexplicable!’ That is to say, could not believe his eyes! {See ‘The  professor’s dilemma’ – Sons of Hermes 29 – for an example.}

Just who or what Monsieur Philippe was, remains the subject of intense debate in France.  Sédir, in a series of lectures at the end of 1920, recently discovered and published by Le Mercure Dauphinois as La vie inconnue de Jésus-Christ (The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ)  all but divinised him, whilst our old friend Victor-Émile Michelet, in his memoirs of 1938  felt this view to be greatly exaggerated.  However, Sédir was capable of flights of metaphysical realisation far beyond the worthy commonsense Michelet, who put down what he called such ‘deliquescent pseudo-mysticism’ to Sédir’s Breton and German background – although influences such as Boehme and Goethe are hardly to be sneezed at!

A few paragraphs taken almost at random from La vie inconnue de Jésus-Christ can demonstrate this.

“The birth of the Word did not take place at a certain moment in a certain place, but everywhere at once. Neither the works of Christ, nor the events of the Gospels can be situated in history. If we wish to make it food for our soul, we must remember that spiritual truths are always happening. The Christ was not only born at Bethlehem but everywhere a stable is willing to receive him.

“He did not cure this or that individual, 2000  years ago, but also now; this difficult action requires the healed to be joined with the healer in his domain, and the means for this joining is that power called Faith. For there is more than one Bethlehem, more than one Tabor, more than one Golgotha; they existed already, before they were given those names, and will continue to be until the end of the world. They are there today,  and the same events occur even more gloriously, because more hidden.

“A storm on the Pacific Ocean can be calmed because the waves were pacified one day on the Sea of Galilee. A criminal can find pardon because a certain thief was forgiven 2000 years ago on Golgotha

“The things we find in the Gospel, the drachma, the fig tree, the unleavened bread, the foolish virgins, the prodigal son....are living beings, virtues, on which our immortal being can feed if we wish it so. You would understand me if you had felt a little of the essential presence of these things in your secret life”

And apart from some small handbooks on the mystical life the five volumes of Sédir’s commentary on the  Gospels L’Enfance du Christ; Le Sermon sur la Montagne, Les Guérisons du Christ, Le Royaume de Dieu, and Le Couronnement de L’Oeuvre  surely deserve translation.

There is little information readily available in English, although we have done our best to throw a little light into what the French, with a Gallic shrug, call ‘the Anglo-Saxon world’ by translating Initiations  for Skylight Press, a series of essays written by Sédir over the years that present  Monsieur Philippe in semi-fictional form, something after the way Marc Haven mirrored aspects of his character in his biography of Cagliostro.

Upon which we wish everyone a fruitful Easter and gentle reminder to think what it was and is and ever will be all about!  The future is in eggs.