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A SKEPITCAL LOOK  AT  FAMOUS OCCULTISTS
By The Notorious Doctor Zoom Zoom   

"CONTE" ALESSANDRO CAGLIOSTRO (1743?-1795)


     Cagliostro founded now extinct Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry and claimed to have had occult powers. He was an inspiration for future occultists like H.P. Blavatsky and Goethe, among others. Bornof a peasant family named Balsamo, Cagliostro claimed to be a count, a Hermetic magician, an alchemist, and a Gypsy. Historian Thomas Carlyle called him the “Prince of Quacks.” 

    Goethe was so impressed with Cagliostro at first, he traveled to Palermo to meet his family. How disappointed he must have been when “Count” Cagliostro’s family turned out to be peasants who lived in a one room house! He managed to write positive things about the encounter at first, but must have changed his mind later about Cagliostro, because in Goethe’splay The Grand Copht, he portrays Cagliostro as a charlatan.


     Unmanageable as a child, Cagliostro’s  family sent him to a seminary for education. One day he read the Gospels and replaced the names of Biblical figures with the names of local prostitutes, causing him to be expelled.  In Palermo he traveled with a gang of robbers. He used his talent for forgery to make theater tickets, a falsified will, and anything else he could profit from. He even robbed his own uncle and was accused of a murder. 

    He conned the gullible and greedy by pretending that he was able to locate gold and buried treasure with magic, showing clients the sites where he said it was buried. When the gullible nobles went to dig up the treasure at the prescribed site, they instead found Cagliostro’s henchmen waiting for them dressed in devil costumes, who then proceeded to mug the nobles. Cagliostro would later tell the nobles that actual demons had robbed them, and also taken the treasure! This ruse landed him in prison on at least one occasion. At times Cagliostro was none too stable, and did the most embarrassing things, like putting a teacup on his erect penis and telling women "This is the only Bishop you will bow to!"


     Cagliostro was initiated into Freemasonry in London in 1776 and decided to start his own version. He claimed he found a manuscript in a bookstall that gave instructions for Egyptian Rite Masonry.  Cagliostro told his followers he was thousands of years old, and was the Old Testament prophet Elijah, which were of course all lies.  Egyptian Rite Masonry wasn’t really Egyptian at all, and was the creation of Cagliostro. He went about Europe setting up lodges which all sent payments to himself personally.


     Cagliostro held seances before they were called seances. Using a child as a medium (which he called a “pupille” or a “colombe”), Cagliostro claimed he could summon spirits to answer questions of wealthy patrons. In other words, he invented the medium scam that would be used in the next century. Cagliostro told the children how to act and what to say prior to the seance, and bribed them with candy. A few times the children actually told the patrons about Cagliostro’s coaching and  bribery!

     Cagliostro is said to have “pimped out” his own wife at times. Once she tried to ditch Cagliostro for a wealthy noble, and in retaliation Cagliostro had her thrown in prison for a year for adultery. Another time he blackmailed a man whom he had caught in bed with his wife, most likely a pre-arranged set up.


    Cagliostro managed to con his way into Louis XVI’s court. He hatched a scheme to purchase an expensive necklace and charge it to Marie Antoinette. The French Royals found out about the attempted swindle, and Cagliostro and his gang went to prison in the Bastille. He was released after one year, but couldn’t stay out of trouble, and was imprisoned again in Italy. He died in St. Leo’s prison 1795, despite claiming he had the elixir of eternal youth.

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