At St. Petersburg in Russia, around fifty years ago, there was a group of esotericists who composed the flower of the capital's "intelligentsia". This group was internally hierarchical, i.e. composed of "grades" -- Martinist, Templar and Rosicrucian. It was, properly said, a school of teaching and training comprising three "courses" or "classes" -- first or Martinist, second or Templar, and highest or Rosicrucian.
At the head of the whole school was the professor of special mathematics from the Pages College (Pageskiy Korpus) in St. Petersburg, Professor Gregory Ottonovitch Mebes.
Now, it was after the Bolshevik revolution (which, it goes without saying, put an end to this group and its work) that the one who is writing these lines met some members of this dispersed group and became friends with them. The friendship being true, i.e. based on unreserved mutual confidence, they (who belonged to the so-called "Rosicrucian" elite of the group) transmitted all that they knew and recounted everything concerning the work of their group, including the crises and painful experiences that they had undergone. This was in 1920. It was then that the one who is writing these lines -- although he had already studied the masterly work by the engineer Schmakov, Velikiye Arkany Taro ("The Major Arcana of the Tarot" -- a book almost twice as large as, for example, Osward Wirth's Le Tarot des imagiers du moye age or Paul Marteau's Le Tarot de Marseille) and the book on the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky in 1917 -- was struck to learn to what degree collective work on the Tarot can be fruitful for study, research, training and advancement in the esoteric domain. For the whole work of the Martinist-Templar-Rosicrucian group was founded on the Tarot....
It is a matter, therefore, beyond the two reasons concerning the scope of meditative work on the Tarot and the significance of the number twenty-one, of putting a "memorial wreath" on the non-existent tomb (i.e. non-existent here below) of the group of St. Petersburg esotericists from the beginning of the [20th] century.
--Meditations on the Tarot, LETTER XXI THE FOOL, by Anonymous
Translated from Russian sources by Yuri Pragin.
A teacher of mathematics, physics and French language, Collegiate Councilor Georgi Ottonovich Mebes (1869-1930) was a prominent teacher in Tsarskoye Selo from 1904 – 1905 where he taught at a classical secondary school as well as physics and mathematics in the Nikolai Gymnasium and physics for the women’s public education facility. Recollection of his teaching activities practically does not exist. We found only a small fragment of his in 1908 of graduation from the Page (Royal Page) Corps. B.H. Tretyakov, remembers name of Mebes, recalling that, “Nervous Mebes who fiddled his mustache and broke chalk on a blackboard initiated us in the intricacies of Newton’s binomial theorem.”
Apparently Giorgi was an excellent teacher because he was teaching in privileged schools as Page Corps where he taught the Russian aristocracy. By remembrance of B.C. Brachev, Mebes was teaching in the Page Corps and Nikolai’s Corps in 1906-1911. The modest teacher of mathematics, physics and French language was one of the leaders of Russian Masonry and the Rosicrucian Order and an active member of the Martinist Lodge and theorist of occultism. The Martinist Lodge was a branch of the French Kabbalic Order of the Rose and Cross. It was started in Russia by the French Occultist Gerard Encausse (Papus). In 1912 there was a schism between members of the Lodge and the St. Petersburg part of the order guided by Mebes which declared its autonomy. From 1911 to 1912, Mebes was writing under the pen name GOM, was giving lectures in Petersburg entitled A Concise Encyclopedia of Occultism, which was following theories of Papus. The lectures were extremely popular . There are many recollections of them which are written in the history of Russian occultism at the beginning of the century. In his lectures, GOM drew in kabbalah and Tarot cards into a single entity based on magical kabbalic Arcana of the Tarot. Mr. A.M. Aseev remembers GOM:
“The appearance of GOM was giving us impression of great internal strength. He was large with broad shoulders, a little stooping, his hard-featured face with heavy, hooked nose and bushy brows appearing above calm and attentive grey eyes. A bushy mustache and wedge-shaped beard. He had red, graying hair, and usually was dressed in his black frock coat. His manners were very quiet, a little old-fashioned. He was speaking courageously sometimes inserting in his speech a couple of jokes. Unlike other members of mystical orders which were following political goals, GOM had task of teaching the youth the knowledge of the order. One of his students in Nikolai gymnasium who was poet, Nikolai Gumilev. Perhaps owing to Mebes, his later poetry concerns mystical teachings and interest in Kabbalistic symbols.
The St. Petersburg Martinist Lodge continued to work after the revolution until its destruction in 1926 by the KGB. From 1918 to 1921, Mebes was reading lectures about the Zohar in St. Petersburg. His wife Maria Nesterova lectured about the history of religion with pronounced anti-Christian under-current. Besides just theory, the school provided practical training so that the members could cultivate the powers of telepathy and telekinesis. Some of his students from 1918 to 1925 were the well-known military historian G.C. Gabaev and the poet Vladimir Pyast.
In the middle of 1928, the newspapers “Leningrad Truth” and “Red Star” were reporting that the KGB found inside the great Lodge “Astraea”, the virgin-goddess of justice, lead by a 70 year old black magic practicing and devil worshipper Mebes. The newspaper mentions that in Leningrad there existed grave Masonic lodges with many members with magisters and masters with initiations, oaths signed by blood, and membership and written communications with foreign countries, and membership fees.