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Le Comte de Gabalis

Le Comte de Gabalis

Title of a strange work published by the Abbé de Montfaucon de Villars (1635-1673). It reads like an occult novel, with mystical commentaries, and has been interpreted by some as a satire of the writings of La Calprenede (a popular French writer of the era), but with an added blend of history, philosophy, and mysticism.

The book became a major source of information for later discussion on elementary spirits. The author remarks of his principal character,

"Paracelsus says of the practice of Philosophy, 'this Art is taught by Gabalis (the spiritual perception of Man).' These words inspired the title Comte de Gabalis which veils the identity of a great Teacher. The Comte's true identity will be widely recognized."

The poet Alexander Pope, in his dedication to The Rape of the Lock, first drafted in 1711, states,

"The Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book call'd Le Comte de Gabalis, which both in its title and size is so like a Novel, that many of the Fair Sex have read it for one by mis-take. According to these Gentlemen, the four Elements are inhabited by Spirits, which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders they say, any mortals may enjoy the most intimate familiarities with these gentle Spirits, upon a condition very easy to all true Adepts, an inviolate preservation of Chastity."

The book is also cited by Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873) in his occult novel Zanoni.

Sources:

de Villars, Abbé. Comte de Gabalis. 1821. Reprint, London: Methuen, 1941. Reprint, Quakertown, Pa.: Philosphical Publishing Co., 1983.

Lytton, Edward Bulwar. Zanoni. London: Saunders & Otley, 1842. Reprinted as Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale. Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1971.

Pope, Alexander. The Rape of the Lock. N.p., 1821. Reprint, London: Methuen, 1941.

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