Gerard Encausse

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Encausse, Gérard (1865-1916)

Physician and occultist who wrote under the pseudonym "Papus." He was born July 13, 1865, at La Corogne, Spain, the son of a French chemist and Spanish woman. At the age of four, he went to France with his parents and was educated in Paris. As a young man he spent much time at the Bibliothèque Nationale, studying magic and alchemy. He became a physician and also joined the Theosophical Society, but resigned from it because of its emphasis on Eastern occult teachings.

In 1888 Papus published his Traité élémentaire de science occulte, the first of a number of books, and that same year founded the journal L'Initiation (1888-1914). He was an associate of such other well-known occultists as Joséphin Peladan, Stanislas de Guaita, and Oswald Wirth and founded the Independent Group for Esoteric Studies, which attracted a large number of students of the occult. He later directed the Martin-ist Order, based on the teaching of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (1743-1803).

The many books by Papus cover the whole realm of occult thought, but his works on the tarot have remained by far his most popular. Three of his works were edited by his son Philippe Encausse.

Papus played a part in exposing the famous Leo Taxil hoax against Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church in France. Notwithstanding his occult activities, Encausse remained a popular and devoted physician. He served in the French army medical corps during World War I and died of a pulmonary infection October 25, 1916.


Papus [Gérard Encausse]. Le tarot des bohémiens. 1889. Revised edition as The Tarot of the Bohemians. Translated by A. P. Morton. Edited by A. E. Waite. London: Rider & Son, 1910.

. Le tarot divinatoire (The divinatory tarot). 1909. Re-print, Paris: Dangles, 1969.

. The Qabalah. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1977.

. Traité élémentaire de science occulte (Elementary treatise on occult science). 10th ed. Paris: A. Michel, 1926.

. Traité méthodique de magie pratique (Systematic treatise on practical magic). 1924. Reprint, Paris: Dangles, 1969.

Waite, A. E. "Papus: A Biographical Note." Occult Review 25 (January 1917): 34-36.

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Pseudonym of occultist Gérald Encausse (1865-1916).