Rasputin: what was his link with the “erotic-mystical” sect of the Khlysts?

Grigory Efimovitch Rasputin was probably born in January 1869 in Proskrovoye in the district of Tyumen, a region of Western Siberia, on the borders of the Urals. He grew up in a very pious family of small landowners.

Very early, Rasputin manifests divinatory gifts. Grigori even claims to have apparitions of the Virgin Mary. To work in the fields, he prefers mystical retreats. He likes the company of the starets, these miracle-working pilgrims recognized as spiritual masters.

In 1894, Nikolaï Aleksandrovich Romanov became “tsar of all the Russias” under the name of Nicolas II. It is also the year in which Rasputin would have the vision of a luminous Virgin, which he takes for a sign. He takes his pilgrim’s staff and goes to Mount Athos, in Greece, a journey on foot of more than 3,000 km. For three years, he led the existence of a hermit gyrovague, called “strannik”, living on expedients, offering his sermons for a few obols. He frequents monasteries and commits himself to exercises of asceticism, including mortification of the flesh.

A sect of sexual rites and orgies

He goes to kyiv, to Kazan, begins to carve out a reputation as a healer and seer, but also as a thief, brawler and debauchee. He is accused of belonging to the Khlystys, which can be translated as “flagellants”. It’s a kind of sect mixing orgy, dance and flagellation, sexual rites to achieve a form of ecstatic trance. But the local clergy, it does not amuse them too much these little parties in the moonlight. He reports it to the Bishop of Tobolsk, but investigation is dismissed.

There is no proof that Rasputin was a full member of the Khlysty sect, but it is highly likely that he was initiated into its rituals, because Rasputin himself will theorize this mystique of debauchery. He once said: “To get closer to God, you have to sin a lot”.

With his shaggy beard, long greasy hair and big calloused hands, he bewitches society women. His gifts of healers and his amulets bring a picturesque note of good taste. This is the great era of occultism and spiritualism. Rasputin is the man everyone is talking about.

A sect that will push him to leave Saint Petersburg

Rasputin rose through the ranks of good society to the imperial couple, whom he met in 1904, through Princess Militza. At the height of his glory after the miraculous cures of Tsarevich Alexis, the son of the Tsar and Tsarina, Rasputin established himself as a healer in an upscale district of Saint Petersburg.

The first attacks came from the Petersburg clergy who had nevertheless favored his rise. He begins to denounce the escapades of a charlatan who thinks everything is allowed. Her former friend, the preacher Iliodore reveals the fiery missives that the tsarina addresses to the starets. The Russians are shocked by so much frivolity at the height of power. Especially since Iliodorus publicly accuses Rasputin of being a member of the sect erotic-mystical of the Khlystys.

On March 2, 1910, a monarchist newspaper sounded the charge and denounced the influence of an evil genie on the crown. Without the advice of the tsar, the head of government, Piotr Stolypin decided to have him monitored by the Okhrana, the secret police. Reports of his nightlife are overwhelming. Driven by scandal, Rasputin was exiled to kyiv in 1911, to the great displeasure of the Tsarina. He then goes to pilgrimage to jerusalemjust to be forgotten.

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Rasputin: what was his link with the “erotic-mystical” sect of the Khlysts?

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