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Saint-Yves d Alveydre, Alexandre

Category: Writer


Alexandre Saint-Yves, Marquess of Alveydre (26 March 1842, Paris – 5 February 1909, Pau) was a writer and practising French occultist and poet, who adapted the works of Fabre d'Olivet (1767–1825) and, in turn, had his ideas adapted by Papus. Saint-Yves later knew many of the major names in French occultism such as Marquis Stanislas de Guaita, Joséphin Péladan and Oswald Wirth and was a member of a number of Rosicrucian and Freemason style orders, along with a number of other groups who claimed descent from the Knights Templar.

As part of his studies into the ideal forms of government, he developed the concept of a ‘Synarchy’ a society formed from numerous hierarchically organised groups [based largely on a meritocracy] based on synergy between hierarchies.  This society was led by three parliaments.  One based on the economy, one based on science and another based on the judiciary.   These in turn were effectively all led by a mystic ‘centre’.  The metaphysical centre bound the whole structure together. The centre was formed of true prophets, sages, ‘hermits’, or enlightened people if you prefer.  In effect it is they who would obtain ‘wisdom’ which could be used to guide the rest of society.  [As far as I can tell Saint-Yves did not recognise the role of the Hanged Man [mystic or saint], and the Fool.] 
Rudolf Steiner used Synarchy as a major influence in developing his systems – schools, colleges and so on.



Principle works - There are two works for which he is perhaps best known:

  • The Kingdom of Agarttha: A Journey into the Hollow Earth
  • L'Archéomètre - Clef de toutes les religions et de toutes les sciences de l'Antiquité

Just the fact that the second book says it has the ‘key to all religions and all sciences’ is reason enough to consider it interesting, and the first book’s use of the ‘hollow earth’ symbolism also has a certain fascination. 

L'Archéomètre  - What Saint-Yves was attempting to describe in  L'Archéomètre was a chart of correspondences.  In other words he was attempting to describe all the symbolic names of the concepts in the spiritual world.  Although he probably knew this all too well, this was – shall we say – something of a challenge.   The beautiful color-coded diagram he developed, shows a tiny number of the symbolic correspondences that actually exist, but just to tackle it at all was very commendable. 

There does not appear to be a definitive version of the Archeometre in English and for reasons that will be explained shortly, the French versions can be a little suspect, however, there is a ray of hope still to be explored.

The Creation of a Universal System:   Saint-Yves d’Alveydre and his Archeometer by Joscelyn Godwin

There is fortunately a primary source for archeometric studies: Saint-Yves’ own manuscripts, willed by Papus (died 1916) to some public library, and eventually deposited by his son, Dr. Philippe Encausse, in the Sorbonne Library in 1938, as part of the enormous “Papus Bequest” (including several hundred books, many of them from Saint-Yves’ own collection).
Our interest here is not in the heap of papers concerning the posthumous edition of L’ Archéomètre, but rather in the scruffy school notebooks in which Saint-Yves recorded and worked out his systems, philosophy, schemata, and visions. Sometimes written in a fine, flowery hand, sometimes in a scarcely legible scrawl, these notebooks reveal a part, at least, of the events that preceded the elaboration of the Archeometer as it is found in the printed sources.


The Kingdom of Agarttha  - This story provided Saint-Yves with a medium by which to both describe the other spiritual realms and also to expand on his synarchy theories.  The two are not necessarily in opposition as he appears to have thought of, or been given the idea of, synarchy whilst ‘spiritually travelling’.  Thus what he describes may have been what he had discovered in what would be now called out of body experiences - but which he called revelations. 

Ruled in accordance with the highest principles, the kingdom of Agarttha, sometimes known as Shambhala, represents a world that is far advanced beyond our modern culture, both technologically and spiritually. The inhabitants possess amazing skills their above ground counterparts have long since forgotten. In addition, Agarttha is home to huge libraries of books engraved in stone, enshrining the collective knowledge of humanity from its remotest origins. Saint-Yves explained that the secret world of Agarttha, and all its wisdom and wealth, would be made available for humanity when Christianity and all other known religions of the world began truly honouring their own sacred teachings.


Other works - The books for which Saint-Yves is less well known include:

  • Lyrical Testament [Testament lyrique, 1877] - published in 1877 which is a collection of poetry
  • Keys of the Orient [Clefs de l'Orient, 1877]– which describes a solution based on developing a religious understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims to the "question of the Orient", brought about by the decay of the Ottoman Empire which caused tensions in the Near and Middle East.
  • The Mission des Juifs (1884) – which describes the rather unique position which the Hebrew peoples have in religious/spiritual development.
    La France vraie  - described what he believed was the ideal form of government.  It was written in reaction to the emergence of anarchist ideologies and movements. 
    Saint-Yves used the term Synarchy in this work. His theories cover 4 books from 1882 onwards which he believed would result in a harmonious society by considering it as an organic unity. This ideal was based partially on his idealised view of life in medieval Europe, partly on his knowledge of the mystic based governments in India and Ancient Egypt and partly on the work of Plato and Pythagoras.  It is worth adding that although I have no idea whether he ever read Al-Farabi, his ideas bear a remarkable similarity with his Ideal city.

On a more prosaic note, he also studied the development of applications for marine plants.  The book "Utilising extracts from seaweed" was published in 1879.



Born in Paris, from a family of Parisian intellectuals and son of psychiatrist Guillaume-Alexandre Saint-Yves, Saint-Yves started his career as a physician at a naval academy in Brest which he soon abandoned after becoming ill.

In 1863 he relocated to Jersey where he met and became friends with Victor Hugo. In 1870, he returned to France to fight in the Franco-Prussian War during which he was injured.

He then began a career as a civil servant. In 1877 Saint-Yves met and married Countess Marie de Riznitch-Keller, a relative of Honoré de Balzac, and friend of the Empress Eugénie de Montijo, a move which made him independently wealthy. He moved to a fine house near the Etoile with his aristocratic wife, his senior by fourteen years. He dedicated the rest of his life to research and had a large number of influential contacts including Victor Hugo. In 1880, he was granted the title of Marquis of Alveydre by the government of San Marino.

During the year 1885 Saint-Yves was supposedly visited by a group of Eastern Initiates, one of them being named prince Hardjji Scharipf.

Joscelyn Godwin – Introduction to the Kingdom of Agarttha
In 1884, the French occultist Saint-Yves d’Alveydre decided to take lessons in Sanskrit.  Having just published his definitive work on the secret history of the world, called Mission des Juifs (Mission of the Jews), he was anxious to deepen his understanding of the sacred languages, which, he felt sure concealed the ultimate Mysteries.  Hebrew had already revealed much to him; now it was time to tackle the even more ancient language of Sanskrit, parent of all the Indo-European tongues.
Saint-Yves’ Sanskrit teacher came to him through a mutual friend, General Dumont.  Calling himself Hardjji Scharipf, he was a character of hazy origins and the subject of various rumours.

spirit helpers - the curse and joy of the muse
painting by Alexandre Cabanel

Saint-Yves believed that an ancient synarchist world government had been transferred to a spiritual location called Agartha within a hollow Earth at the start of the Kali-Yuga era, around 3,200 B.C.

These spirit helpers supposedly communicated with him telepathically. He wrote about their secret location in his "Mission de l'Inde en Europeä" published in 1886, but worried he had revealed too much, he destroyed all but two copies of this book, which did not become available again until 1910.

After Saint-Yves's death, portions of the writings he left behind were compiled by a group of his friends and devotees into a volume entitled l'Archéomètre.


The Creation of a Universal System:   Saint-Yves d’Alveydre and his Archeometer by Joscelyn Godwin

When one opens a heavy folio volume entitled The Archeometer: Key to All the Religions and All Sciences of Antiquity; Synthetic Reformation of All Contemporary Arts, something tells one that it may not quite live up to its ambitions. Unfortunately the work of Saint-Yves d’Alveydre which bears this resounding title is not even the work of his own hand: it is a collection made by Papus (Gérard Encausse) and other “Friends of Saint-Yves” of some fragments from the universal synthesis that the great esotericist was putting in order when death interrupted him in 1909. Although it would be churlish to underrate the devotion of this group, and particularly that of its leaders, Papus and Dr. Auguste-Edouard Chauvet, it must be said that they were worried, up to the last minute, about the principles and the coherence of their compilation. Thanks to the patronage of Count and Countess Keller, Saint-Yves’ son- and daughter-in-law and his heirs, the elegant edition of L’Archéomètre, with its many illustrations and colored plates, appeared in a form more fit for admiration than for comprehension.

Nevertheless, the serious scholar will know to refer to another explanation of the system, also called L’Archéomètre, published between 1910 and 1912 in twelve numbers of the short-lived review La Gnose: the periodical that also carried the astonishing articles of the 21-year-old René Guénon. The articles on the Archeometer are signed “T,” the pen-name of the journal’s editor, Alexandre Thomas (also known as “Marnes”). They are thought to be based on information furnished by F.-Ch. Barlet (= Albert Faucheux), another friend of Saint-Yves who had evidently parted company from the official “Friends.” Guénon supplied some very erudite notes, mostly on the Hindu tradition. But all in all, one is at a loss to find any indications of the original source of this imposing and ambitious scheme. Should one regard it as traditional doctrine, as independent revelation, as pure fantasy, or as an inextricable mixture of all these?


The sphinx

There is one extra piece of information that is worth adding.  One of Saint-Yves's most influential theories nowadays was a minor feature of his work. This is his claim that the Great Sphinx was much older than Egyptologists thought, being created around 12,000 B.C.   Saint-Yves' disciple René A. Schwaller de Lubicz was inspired to investigate the age of the Sphinx and as a result created a controversy over the age of the Great Sphinx, which is ongoing even today.

The observations

The majority of the observations cover the Archeometer and come from an article by Joscelyn Godwin.  Joscelyn is on this site in his own right and also translated The Kingdom of Agarttha: A Journey into the Hollow Earth into English, adding a most useful introduction [Inner Traditions, 2008].

The information in the Archeometer was ‘received’ in a series of six “revelations”—for that is how they were described by Saint-Yves, whether given by more or less mysterious Orientals, by the soul of his wife (who died in 1895), or in response to his prayers and meditations. They are:

1. The Vattanian Alphabet (1885)

2. The Aum (1885-86)

3. The cosmic correspondences of Vattan (1885-86)

4. The Definition of Life (1896)

5. The table entitled “The Heavens declare” (1897)

6. The Triangle of Jesus (1898)


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