HISTORY OF THE RITE OF MEMPHIS-MISRAIM
Count Alessandro di Cagliostro saw no separation between Freemasonry, Hermeticism and Alchemy. He viewed these three entities as a pathway to divinity and to perfection of the soul. In his mind Freemasonry, Hermeticism and Alchemy coexisted and without one the other could not exist.
For some, Cagliostro was an egotistic charlatan and for others he was a mysterious alchemist, healer and theurgist. Anyone who reads a translation of the rituals of his Egyptian Freemasonry will discover what kind of man he was for themselves.
The aim of Cagliostro’s “Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry” was the moral and spiritual regeneration of mankind; the restoration of the state of innocence which mankind was deprived of as a consequence of the Fall.
Between 1778 and 1780, Cagliostro stayed in Holland where he organized gatherings with clairvoyants. A lodge at The Hague which belonged to the “Strict Observance” is said to have worked a mixed Rite that was written by him. This Rite would eventually develop in the later “Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry”.
Cagliostro was employed as the physician and alchemist of the Bishop of Strasburg where he was reputed to have healed over 15,000 people during the 1780´s. Aside from being an accomplished healer he was also known for his alchemical operations
Even if he started out as a charlatan, his transformation into a kind and compassionate healer is an indication of the transformative power of the practices in which he was involved.
THE RITE OF MISRAIM
The Rite of Misraim was established in Venice in 1788 by a group of Socinians to whom Cagliostro had given a patent for their constitution. It is asserted that the Rite was founded by Charles Lechangeur, Francois Joly and the Michel Bedarride. Misraim is the Hebrew word for Egypt and it is a reminder of the Egyptian Rite which gave their obediential personality.
The Rite spread quickly to Milan, Genoa and Naples. Michel Bedarride had received the Grand Mastery (ultimate powers) in 1810, in Naples, from Br:. DeLasalle and it was then that the Bedarride brothers also introduce the Rite of Misraim to France.
During the White Terror, a period during the French Revolution in 1795 when a wave of violent attacks swept across France, the Rite was considered a social and political threat to the French Government and it was targetted by the political powers in place. The Rite of Misraim has always wanted to perpetuate, in parallel to its spiritual dimension, a Tradition of adherence to the principles of tolerance and the freedom of thought.
The Rite of Misraim has 90 degrees.
THE RITE OF MEMPHIS
Most of the members who accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte during the Egyptian campaign were Masons belonging to the initiatic Rites: Philaletes, African Brothers, the Primitive Rite, and most were Masons of the Grand Orient of France.
In Cairo they discovered a Gnostic-Hermetic survival and in Lebanon they met the Druse-Masonry which dates back to operative Masonry. This allowed all these Brothers who were battling against the English, to be able to open a new path that owed nothing to the Grand Lodge of England.
This new Masonic current developed in Montauban, France, in 1815, under the direction of Samuel Honis and Marconis de Negre. As the Rite of Misraim regrouped the Jacobites who were nostalgic of the Republic and the Carbonari, the Rite of Memphis regrouped the Bonapartists.
In 1816 the Rite of Misraim and the Rite of Memphis had the same Grand-Master which became a prelude to their future merger.
The Rite of Memphis has 95 degrees.
THE RITE OF MEMPHIS-MISRAIM
Until 1881, the two Rites existed in parallel even though encounters between the two Rites were made. Garibaldi, the Father of the Italian independence, was appointed as Grand Master of each of these two ways and in their merging was seen the birth of a new Rite with a common scale of 95 degrees.
The Egyptian Rites gathered together Masons who were interested in Hermeticism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, Occultism, and Gnosticism.
Many famous occultists and mystics have been found among its members such as John Yarker, Franz Hartmann, Papus, Arthuro Reghini, Arnold Krumm Heller, Theodor Reuss, Jean Bricaud, Charles Detre, Constant Chevillon, Charles-Henri Dupont, Harvey Spencer Lewis, Victor Blanchard, Jean Mallinger and Robert Ambelain.
In France and Belgium, it is under the name of the “Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraim” that the union of Rites allows the development of Lodges.
In Italy, this same union sees the birth of the “Oriental Rite, Ancient and Primitive of Memphis and Mizraim”.
Today there are notable differences between these two Rites, as much in their own history, as to those encounters with other traditions and the personalities of those who led them.
Some Masons of these Two Rites have not accepted the merger and there are still today Lodges and structures recognizing only one of the two.
“A courtier once came to Zoroaster and said: “People hear wonders about you, how you cleverly deal with people who have questions, and through myths you can instruct the curious about this world and the next. Tell me also such a parable, by which I can learn about the afterlife. Zoroaster calmly replied: “I rarely have such distinguished guests; allow me to offer you refreshment first. Do you know the fruit Kikalia, which surpasses all others in taste?”The courtier was very pleased by this, and Zoroaster gave him a pot filled with earth.“What does this mean?” asked the courtier.“Just search,” Zoroaster replied.The courtier searched the earth but could not find the fruit. Insulted, he exclaimed: “Do you want to mock me!? There is nothing to find. Of what value is that pot to me?”With these words he threw the pot against the wall and it broke into little pieces while the earth was scattered on the ground.“That’s it!” said Zoroaster. “The pot is useless. A kikalia was put in it; but the gardener let it rot.”“Why did you play that trick on me?” The courtier asked.Zoroaster answered: “You yourself are a pot filled with living earth. The seed of the most glorious fruit is put within you; but you have allowed it to rot, and if you bear no fruit, it is natural that you, like the pot, will be thrown away.”