The Masonic Magician

Tuesday 01st, August 2017 / 09:00

 The Masonic Magician unveils the fascinating life of  Count Cagliostro, enemy of the Catholic Church and champion of Freemasonry. Take a closer look at the man who inspired dramas, plays, and an opera by Mozart in this account by Philippa Faulks and Robert L D Cooper as they draw on new evidence to provide an alternative version of events. In this extract, the Count, whose parentage is unknown to him, encounters for the first time the man whom he suspects may be his father. Impostor? Heretic? Or the victim of a terrible injustice? You decide.

This is an extract from The Masonic Magician by Philippa Faulks and Robert L. D. Cooper, published by Watkins.

In 1760 when Cagliostro reached the age of 12, he and Althotas embarked on their travels. Their first port of call was Mecca where they lived for three years within the palace of the Sherif. From Calgiostro’s reminiscences we can deduce the inference that the Mufti, the Sherif, or some other wealthy individual from Trezibon was his father. It must have caused much pain to have never made the acquaintance of, nor even discovered the true identity of his parents, something that perhaps is reflected in the demeanour of Cagliostro in later years through his constant attention seeking. Cagliostro recalls the emotion he felt when he was in the presence of the great man:

We arrived at Mecca and alighted at the palace of the Sherif. They made me dress in clothing more magnificent than any which I had worn up to that time. On the third day after my arrival, my tutor presented me to this sovereign, who gave me the most tender caresses. At the sight of this Prince, an inexpressible emotion took possession of me and my eyes were filled with the sweetest tears I have ever shed in all my life. The moment was one of the events of my existence which it is impossible for me to recall without the most vivid emotions.

I remained three years at Mecca. Not a day passed that I was not admitted to the Sherif and each day saw his attachment increase and my gratitude also. Often I surprised him with his eyes fixed on me, then raising them toward Heaven with all the marks of pity and emotion. I did not dare to question my tutor, who reprimanded me with severity as if I could not without offence seek to know the authors of my being and the place of my birth. At night I sometimes talked with the negro who slept in my apartment, but in vain I tried to pierce his secrecy. If I spoke of my parents he would become deaf to all the questions I might ask him. One night when I pressed him harder than usual, he told me that I ever left Mecca I would be menaced with the greatest of misfortunes, and above all I should beware of the city of Trebizond.

My desire for travel prevailed over his gloomy forebodings. I was weary of the regular life I led at the Court of the Sherif. One day I saw him enter the apartment I occupied. My astonishment was extreme at receiving such a favour. He clasped me in his arms with more tenderness than he had ever shown, recommended to me that I should never cease to adore the Eternal One and assured me that in serving Him faithfully I would finish by being happy and would know my fate. Then he said, bathing my face with his tears: ‘Adieu, unfortunate child of Nature.’ These words and the tone in which he pronounced them will remain eternally engraved in my memory. It was the last time I was able to enjoy his presence. A caravan expressly prepared for me was waiting for us; I departed and left Mecca, to return no Masonic Magician Jacketmore.

Adieu. ‘unfortunate child of Nature’ indeed.

Meet the authors: Philippa Faulks is a researcher, historian and author of seven books. Her passion for seeking the stories of others compels her love of travel. She currently splits her time between the UK and the rest of the world. She lives in Suffolk, England. Robert L D Cooper is a Scottish Freemason and curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library in Edinburgh. He is the keeper of the oldest Lodge records in the world dating from 1599. He writes and broadcasts on all aspects of Freemasonry, and has lectured on the topic throughout the world. He is the author of many books, including The Rosslyn Hoax? and Cracking the Freemason’s Code. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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