Comte de Gabalis  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
occult fiction, fantastique, elements in fiction, grimoire

Comte de Gabalis is a 17th century grimoire (posing as a novel of ideas) by French writer Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars, first published anonymously in 1670. The book is dedicated to Rosicrucianis and Cabalism and based on Paracelsus's four elementals: Gnomes, earth elementals; Undines; water elementals, Sylphs, air elementals and Salamanders, fire elementals. It is composed of five discourses given by a Count or spiritual master to the student or aspirant. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology notes that the work may be a satire of the writings of la Calprenède, a popular French writer of the 17th century.


Publishing history

The first English translation was rendered in 1680. Edmund Curll also published a version in 1714. Only in later publishings did the name Abbé N. de Montfaucon de Villars become attached to this work as being its author.

Robert H. Fryar, a minor British publisher of works on the occult and antiquarian books on art and anthropologica such as universal phallicism reprinted the Comte de Gabalis with its tale of the immortalization of elementals through sexual intercourse with men in 1886, supplementing the work with long citations from Demoniality Or Incubi and Succubi, an eighteenth-century work by Father Sinistrari on the dangers of incubi and succubi.

Italian author Raimondo di Sangro translated the work as Il Conte di Gabalis.

References in other works

The second edition Alexander Pope's satirical poem The Rape of the Lock's introduction mentions the Comte de Gabalis:

The Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book called 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 mistake. According to these gentlemen, the four elements are inhabited by spirits, which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders. --Alexander Pope

It is believed (Robertson 1992, xiii) that E. T. A. Hoffmann read Montfaucon de Villars Count of Gabalis or Conversations on the Hidden Sciences [Le Comte de Gabalis ou Entretiens des Sciences Secrètes], from which he derived material for his depiction of the elemental spirits in The Golden Pot.

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

Olivia Shakespear and Ezra Pound's attraction to Le Comte de Gabalis and esoteric literature is explained in Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats, and modernism by James Longenbach.

Phantasmo (Jean-Marc de Villars), a fictional character in Young Allies (DC Comics) is an homage to writers Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier and Comte de Gabalis.

Speculations on the Polish Rider

Rosicrucian adepts and members of certain spiritual organizations such as Saint Germain Foundation argue that the Comte is actually is The Polish Rider -- as he rode westward depicted by Rembrandt. They further believe that The Polish Rider is Sir Francis Bacon.


Highlights in this work include prints by Rembrandt, a scroll of The Birth of Jesus as related in the Koran, explanation of famous stories and histories such as Melusine, so forth. In later editions, an extensive commentary by Lotus Dudley was included.

The book begins with a quote by Tertullian: "When a thing is hidden away with so much pains, merely to reveal it is to destroy it."

The book consists of five Discourses that center on the topic:

1. Nature of the Divine Principle in Man: The Student meets the Comte
2. Evolution of the Divine Principle in Man: The People of the Elements
3. Man's Place in Nature: The Oracles
4. Children of the Sun: Children of the Philosophers
5. The Life of the True Light is Radiation: Charity of the Philosophers

On the union of mortals and sprites


Gabalis invokes

  • Genesis 6:4 stating that there were giants in the Earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. This was the divine plan that heroic, "mighty men" would be born from the "sons of God", which are the "Children of the Elohim", partnered and mated with the "children of men" -- humans. The children of the Elohim are the mortal Beings of the Elements.
  • Socrates himself through the hand of Plato, states that the "daimonas" were highly evolved. These are the elemental spirit beings. The Comte also quotes Saint Augustine who notes the many occurrences of such meetings of humans with so-called satyrs, fauns and the like. The Comte states that the Beings of the Elements were the givers of the Oracles and because of their powers, were looked at as gods. They were the gods of the ancient Greeks. In the Hebrew Bible, mention is made of the teraphim, and the Comte states that the Beings of the Elements spoke through these to enlighten their owners as well as through virgin maidens who became priestesses. They were the purveyor of Oracles to the masses and lived a life of purity to do so. Everyone or anyone who would wish to contact such a being is called to a life of purity, chastity and prayer.
  • The Comte gives example after example of such unions, their children and the historical stories of those who have become Immortalized or assisted in the Immortalization of a Being of the Elements. Those who misunderstood, such as religious organizations, often condemned these relationships. Hence, the definitions of such beings as being incubi or succubi, demons, devils, or animals; while their partners were often labeled as witches or sorcerers.


Comte De Gabalis, 1914 or 1922 English edition, The Brothers: Macoy & Masonic Supply Co).

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