Rite of Memphis-Misraim
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The Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm is a masonic rite which was formed in 1881 as an amalgamation of several masonic rites and numerous degrees. The primary rites involved are the Scottish Rite with 33 degrees, the Rite of Memphis with 90 degrees and the Rite of Misraïm with 96 degrees. Both Memphis and Misraïm appear to have a large number of degrees in common. After its formation in 1881, Giuseppe Garibaldi became its first Grand Master.
Rite of Misraïm
The Rite of Misraïm appeared in 1805 when its 'Grand Orient' was formed in Milan, Italy, supposedly by several Masons who had been refused admittance into the Scottish Rite. It possessed 90 degrees and claimed to possess the long lost tradition of Ancient Egyptian Hermeticism. Within these 90 degrees were a curious assortment of traditional Masonic dignities (mostly borrowed from the Ancient and Accepted Rite, and other High-Grade systems) and esoteric philosophies including the Kabbalah and alchemy. In addition to its regular degrees, the Rite of Misraïm also had three honorary degrees for the Secret Chiefs. The name of the Rite of Misraïm is taken from the Hebrew word for Egypt and as such the Rite of Misraïm played an important part in the development of what would later be called "Egyptian Masonry".
During the late 1780s and 1790s, modern Egyptology was coming into bloom as Napoleon was extending the French Empire into Egypt and bringing treasures and artifacts back to Europe. It was also at this time that the Rosetta Stone was discovered (1799), and Europe experienced a phase of intense fascination with Ancient Egyptian topics. "Egyptian Masonry" may be said to have its origins in the Egyptian Rite of Masonry as developed by Cagliostro at the end of the 18th century. Cagliostro − who was at the time very close to the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta, Manuel Pinto de Fonseca, − founded his Rite of High Egyptian Masonry in 1784. Between 1767 and 1775 he received the Arcana Arcanorum, three hermetic degrees, from Sir Knight Luigi d’Aquino, the brother of the national Grand Master of Neapolitan Masonry. In 1788, Cagliostro introduced them into the Rite of Misraïm and gave a patent to this Rite.
It is probable that the originators of the Rite of Misraïm were familiar with Cagliostro's Egyptian Rite of Masonry but close inspection shows that the two are not designed along the same lines. As a masonic system filled with alchemical, occult and Egyptian references, it seems though that Cagliostro's activities provided the Rite of Misraïm with the impulse necessary for its development. It should also be noted that the Rite of Memphis (see below) was not affiliated or connected to the Rite of Misraïm until the end of the 19th century when the two were revived and combined by John Yarker.
The Rite of Misraïm developed quickly in Milan, Genoa and Naples. By 1812 the Rite of Misraïm had moved to Paris and was firmly established in France by 1814 under the leadership of the brothers Joseph, Michel and Marc Bèdarride. In France, the Rite was almost immediately attacked by the Grand Orient de France, which declared it an irregular rite in 1816.
A book entitled "De l'Ordre Maconnique de Misraim", published in Paris in 1835 by Marc Bèdarride, purports to give a history of the rite and describes it a reproduction of the ancient rite of Isis. The ritual represents the contests of Osiris and Seth, as well as the death, resurrection, and triumph of the former, and the destruction of the latter.
Several attempts were made to incorporate the Rite under the auspices of the Grand Orient de France. The application was denied, partly on the ground that the antiquity of the Rite had not been proved, and partly because of the 90 degrees which its ritual comprised 68 were already included in the French system. The Rite of Misraïm was formally dissolved in 1817 following the incident of the Four Sergeants of La Rochelle and the uneasiness caused by the Carbonari, although it continued to make Masons until 1822 when at the insistence of the Grand Orient de France this practice was ended by the police.
In 1856, Michel Bèdarride transferred the rights to the Rite of Misraïm to Dr. Hayére in return for his paying off Bèdarride's debts. Hayére assumed control of the Rite of Misraïm on March 29, 1856 and attempted to revive it to some of its earlier prominence. Throughout the 19th century, the Rite of Misraïm in France served as a meeting-place of opponents to the regime. This progressively let to its decline.
The Rite of Misraïm established a presence in England in 1870, but after a few years of quarrels between its members and the Ancient and Accepted Rite, which sought to retain its status as the only system of high degrees in Britain, it only retained a few members. In the 1870s, the Rite of Misraïm came under the control of John Yarker, and in 1878 he merged it with the rival Rite of Memphis to form the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm. Toward 1890, the last Masons of the Rite of Misraïm in France regrouped in the only remaining Lodge Arc-en-Ciel.
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 was established on the basis of the earlier rites of Primitive Philadelaphes and Primitive Philalethes which were systems of "Egyptian Masonry" (as described above). Freemasonry had been introduced into Egypt by the armies of Napoleon, where it gathered some cultural additions. These predecessors of the Rite of Memphis were founded by Samuel Honis, a Frenchman living in Egypt, in 1814. After the fall of Napoleon, Honis returned to France and brought the new rite with him, establishing one lodge, “Les Disciples de Memphis”, in Montauban in 1815. It went out of existence after a year, but in the meantime Gabriel-Mathieu Marconis de Nègre had received the full set of degrees.
After an interval of inactivity this system of Egyptian Masonry was revived at Brussels and Paris by Jacques-Etienne Marconis de Nègre, son of Gabriel-Mathieu Marconis de Nègre. Its revival at Brussels took place in 1838, and at Paris in 1839, with the assistance of the elder Marconis, under the designation of Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis. At the time, it was divided into three sections, and had 95 or 97 degrees. Jacques-Etienne Marconis de Nègre had previously been a member of the Rite of Misraïm, but was expelled in 1833 and again in 1834. It has been suggested that the pre-1838 history of the Rite of Memphis was written by Jacques-Etienne Marconis de Nègre as an attempt to build a rival organization to the Rite of Misraïm, although conclusive evidence is lacking.
The Rite of Memphis 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 of Memphis later 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. The Rite of Memphis was suppressed by the French police as a subversive secret society, having attracted attention from radical activists from the political left.
With the overthrow of Louis-Philippe in 1848, Marconis de Nègre revived the Rite of Memphis 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. Napoleon III's seizure of power in 1852 turned the Rite of Memphis into a major centre of political opposition and conspiracy against his regime. Despite the efforts of the United Grand Lodge of England to suppress it, the Grand Loge des Philadelphes remained active during Napoleon III's reign and played an important role in the foundation of the First International. In 1862, Marconis de Nègre turned what was left of the Rite of Memphis over to the Grand Orient de France, which turned the few French members into regular Freemasons and took the Memphis degrees out of circulation.
Several subsequent attempts to relaunch the Rite of Memphis in Europe attracted few takers, although the degrees continued to be worked. 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 was introduced into America (1856), Egypt, Roumania, Great Britain and Ireland (1872). In 1871 John Yarker was introduced to the Rite of Memphis during a visit to New York,  and in 1872 received a charter for the Rite from its Grand Master in America, Harry Seymour. Yarker would later become Deputy International Grand Master (1900) and International Grand Master (1902) of the united Rite of Memphis-Misraïm as well as establish his own system of Freemasonry, the Ancient and Primitive Rite. A German branch of the Rite of Memphis seems to have been chartered under Yarker's successor as International Grand Master of the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, Theodor Reuss, as late as 1905. In the United States, the Rite of Memphis is today in the possession of the Grand College of Rites.
Rite of Memphis-Misraïm
There are at least two versions of how the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm was formed:
- (1) In 1881, General Giuseppe Garibaldi prepared to merge the Rite of Memphis and the Rite of Misraïm with the Scottish Rite, which would be effective as of 1889. After its formation, Garibaldi became its first International Grand Master.
- (2) John Yarker merged the Rite of Memphis and Rite of Misraïm, and founded a 'Sovereign Sanctuary of the Rite of Memphis and Misraïm' at his hometown of Manchester in 1872 and then began conferring charters and patents.
After Garibaldi's death in 1882, interest in the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm decreased. Its popularity rose again at the beginning of the 20th century owing to the work of John Yarker, who became Deputy International Grand Master in 1900 and International Grand Master in 1902. He was succeeded in this office by the author and noted occultist Theodor Reuss in 1913. Yarker cultivated a masonic and occult circle of friends and also established his own system of Freemasonry, the Ancient and Primitive Rite with 33 degrees, which he formed by eliminating duplicative degrees from the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm.
Currently the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm operates in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, France, Haiti, Israel, Madagascar, Martinique, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela.
The Rite of Memphis-Misraïm has 99 degrees, which makes it the masonic order with the largest number of degrees. In practice, not all degrees are worked in full, but will be conferred 'by name'.
The degrees are grouped into several sections: Lodge (1º−3º), College (4º−14º), Chapter (15º−18º), Senate (19º−29º), Areopage and Tribunal (30º−33º), Consistory (34º−75º ), Sublime Council (76º−90º) and Grand Tribunal (91º−99º). The first 33 degrees are similar to those of the Scottish Rite. The degrees of the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, as there were of 1980, are:
- 1º − Apprentice
- 2º − Companion
- 3º − Master
- 4º − Secret Master
- 5º − Perfect Master
- 6º − Intimate Secretary
- 7º − Provost and Judge
- 8º − Intendant of the Buildings
- 9º − Master Elect of Nine
- 10º − Illustrious Elect of Fifteen
- 11º − Sublime Prince Elect
- 12º − Grand Master Architect
- 13º − Royal Arch
- 14º − Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Master
- 15º − Knight of the East or Knight of the Sword
- 16º − Prince of Jerusalem
- 17º − Knight of the East and the West
- 18º − Knight of the Rose Cross
- 19º − Grand Pontiff
- 20º − Knight of the Temple
- 21º − Patriarch Noachite
- 22º − Knight of the Royal Axe
- 23º − Chief of the Tabernacle
- 24º − Prince of the Tabernacle
- 25º − Knight of the Brazen Serpent
- 26º − Prince of Mercy
- 27º − Commander of the Temple
- 28º − Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept
- 29º − Knight of St Andrew
- Areopage and Tribunal
- 30º − Grand Elected Knight of Kadosh
- 31º − Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander
- 32º − Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
- 33º − Sovereign Grand Inspector General
- 34º − Knight of Scandinavia
- 35º − Knight of the Temple
- 36º − Sublime Negociant
- 37º − Knight of Shota or Sage of Truth
- 38º − Sublime Elect of Truth or The Red Eagle
- 39º − Grand Elect of the Aeons
- 40º − Sage Savaiste or Perfect Sage
- 41º − Knight of the Arch of Seven Colours
- 42º − Prince of Light
- 43º − Sublime Hermetic Sage or Hermetic Philosopher
- 44º − Prince of the Zodiac
- 45º − Sublime Sage of the Mysteries
- 46º − Sublime Pastor of the Huts
- 47º − Knight of the Seven Stars
- 48º − Sublime Guardian of the Sacred Mount
- 49º − Sublime Sage of the Pyramids
- 50º − Sublime Philosopher of Samothrace
- 51º − Sublime Titan of the Caucasus
- 52º − Sage of the Labyrinth
- 53º − Knight of the Phoenix or Sage of the Phoenix
- 54º − Sublime Scalde
- 55º − Sublime Orphic Doctor
- 56º − Pontiff of Cadmia or Sage of Cadmia
- 57º − Sublime Magus
- 58º − Sage Brahmine or Prince Brahmine
- 59º − Sublime Sage of Ogygia or Grand Pontiff of Ogygia
- 60º − Sublime Guardian of the Three Fires
- 61º − Sublime Unknown Philosopher
- 62º − Sublime Sage of Eulisis
- 63º − Sublime Kawi
- 64º − Sage of Mythras
- 65º − Guardian of Sanctuary or Grand Installator
- 66º − Grand Architect of the Mysterious City or Grand Consecrator
- 67º − Guardian of the Incommunicable Name or Grand Eulogist
- 68º − Patriarch of Truth
- 69º − Knight of the Golden Branch of Eleusis or Sage of the Golden Branch of Eleusis
- 70º − Prince of Light or Patriarch of the Planispheres
- 71º − Patriarch of the Sacred Vedas
- 72º − Sublime Master of Wisdom
- 73º − Patriarch of the Sacred Fire or Doctor of the Sacred Fire
- 74º − Sublime Master of the Stoka
- 75º − Knight Commander of the Lybic Chain
- Sublime Council
- 76º − Interpreter of Hieroglyphics or Patriarch of Isis
- 77º − Sublime Knight or Sage Theosopher
- 78º − Grand Pontiff of the Thebiad
- 79º − Knight of the Redoubtable Sada or Sage of the Redoubtable Sada
- 80º − Sublime Elect of the Sanctuary of Mazias
- 81º − Intendent Regulator or Patriarch of Memphis
- 82º − Grand Elect of the Temple of Midgard
- 83º − Sublime Elect of the Valley of Oddy
- 84º − Patriarch of the Izeds or Doctor of the Izeds
- 85º − Sublime Sage or Knight of Kneph
- 86º − Sublime Philosopher of the Valley of Kab
- 87º − Sublime Prince of Masonry
- 88º − Grand Elect of the Sacred Curtain
- 89º − Patriarch of the Mystic City
- 90º − Sublime Master of the Great Work
- Grand Tribunal
- 91º − Grand Defender
- 92º − Grand Catechist
- 93º − Regulator General
- 94º − Prince of Memphis or Grand Administrator
- 95º − Grand Conservator
- 96º − Grand and Puissant Sovereign of the Order
- 97º − Deputy International Grand Master
- 98º − International Grand Master
- 99º − Grand Hierophant
- Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis Misraïm, accessed 20 June 2015
- Gary Ford, A Brief Introduction to the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Mizraim or Egyptian Masonry (online), accessed 20 June 2015
- John Michael Greer, The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies, Harper Element, London 2013 (ISBN-13 978-0-00-793145-3), pp. 423-426.
- Faulks, p. 6.
- Prescott, p. 15
- Prescott, p. 15-16
- Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, The Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry (online), accessed 20 June 2015
- 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
- Greer, John Michael. 2013. The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies. London, Harper Element (ISBN-13 978-0-00-793145-3)