Rite of Memphis-Misraim
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The Rite of Misraïm
From as early as 1738, one can find traces of this Rite filled with alchemical, occult and Egyptian references, with a structure of 90 degrees. Joseph Balsamo, called Cagliostro, a key character of his time, gave the Rite the impulse necessary for its development. Very close to the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta, Manuel Pinto de Fonseca, Cagliostro founded the Rite of High Egyptian Masonry in 1784. Between 1767 and 1775 he received the Arcana Arcanorum, which are three very high hermetic degrees, from Sir Knight Luigi d’Aquino, the brother of the national Grand Master of Neapolitan Masonry. In 1788, he introduced them into the Rite of Misraïm and gave a patent to this Rite.
It developed quickly in Milan, Genoa and Naples. In 1803, it was introduced by Joseph, Michel and Marc Bedaridde. It was forbidden in 1817, following the incident of the Four Sergeants of La Rochelle and the uneasiness caused by the Carbonari.
The Rite of Memphis
The Rite of Memphis was constituted by Jacques Etienne Marconis de Nègre in 1838, as a variant of the Rite of Misraïm, combining elements from Templarism and chivalry with Egyptian and alchemical mythology. It had at least two lodges (“Osiris” and “Des Philadelphes”) at Paris, two more (“La Bienveillance” and “De Heliopolis”) in Brussels, and a number of English supporters. The Rite gained a certain success among military Lodges. It took on a political dimension and in 1841 it became dormant, probably because of the repression following the armed uprising of Louis Blanqui’s Société des Saisons in 1839. With the overthrow of Louis-Philippe in 1848, the Order was revived on March 5, with its most prominent member being Louis Blanc, a socialist member of the provisional government with responsibility for the National Workshops.
In 1850 Les Sectateurs de Ménès was founded in London which proved popular with refugees fleeing France for London at that time. About ten lodges were set up by French refugees, the most important being La Grand Loge des Philadelphes chartered in London on January 31, 1851, which continued to exist until the late 1870s. During this time it had about 100 members, often called Philadelphes. Between 1853 and 1856 other lodges of the Rite of Memphis were established.
In 1856, Benoît Desquesnes, the exiled secretary of the Société des Ouvriers Typographes de Nord proposed that the higher degrees of the Rite of Memphis were not only superfluous, but undemocratic and inconsistent with the Masonic ideals of equality. Despite the attempts of Jean Philibert Berjeau to dissolve the Philadelphes, they implemented this proposal and elected Edouard Benoît as master. This group became renowned for their involvement in revolutionary politics. However the Gymnosophists and the L'Avenir lodges remained with Berjeau. In 1860 the number of degrees was reduced to 33, and by 1866 Berjeau dissolved them, most of the Gymnosophists joining the Philadelphes.
The Rite of Memphis-Misraïm
In 1881, General Giuseppe Garibaldi prepared to fuse the two Rites, which would be effective as of 1889. Its popularisation was greatly increased owing to the works of English Masonic scholar Theodore Reuss, the agent of John Yarker, who became Deputy Grand Master in 1902 and Grand Master in 1905. He was succeeded in this office by noted occultist Theodor Reuss in 1913.
Currently the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm operates in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Spain, France, Martinique, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Portugal, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Russia, Uruguay, UK, USA, and Venezuela.
- Faulks, p. 6.
- Prescott, p. 15
- Prescott, p. 15-16
- Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm – An International Order
- Boris Nicolaevsky, “Secret Societies and the First International,” in The Revolutionary Internationals, 1864–1943, ed. Milored M. Drachkovitch (Stanford, 1966), 36–56.
- Faulks, Philippa and Robert L.D. Cooper. 2008. The Masonic Magician: The Life and Death of Count Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite. London, Watkins Publishing
- Prescott, Andrew. The Cause of Humanity: Charles Bradlaugh and Freemasonry