Rite of Memphis-Misraim

The Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm is a masonic rite founded in Naples, Italy in September 1881 by the merger of two older rites; the Rite of Misraïm and the Rite of Memphis. Although founded in 1881, its predecessors have their origins in the 18th century. The system is sometimes known as "Egyptian Freemasonry" due to the invocation of hermetic-derived esoteric symbolism referencing Ancient Egypt in its system of degrees. The rite is noted for its high number of degrees in its system; it has 99 degrees, though some modern French variations practice only 33 degrees.[citation needed]

Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm
  • Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraim
FormationSeptember 1881
HeadquartersNaples (originally)
  • International
Universal Grand Hierophant
Parent organization
  • Rite of Misraïm (1813-1881)
  • Rite of Memphis (1838-1881)

Memphis-Misraïm was governed internationally under a Grand Hierophant from 1881 until 1923. This first of these was Giuseppe Garibaldi, the famous military leader of the Risorgimento, who had also been Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy. After his death, there was factionalism within the organisation, until eventually, the English freemason John Yarker emerged as Grand Hierophant in 1902. He was succeeded by Theodor Reuss in 1913 and upon his death in 1923 there was no longer an international leadership.[citation needed]

The group in France, later renamed the Grande Loge Française du Rite ancien et primitif de Memphis-Misraïm continued to exist, despite the cessassion of activities from the international governance after Reuss' death. Charles Detré (Tedé), Jean Bricaud, Constant Chevillon, Charles-Henry Dupont, Robert Ambelain and Gérard Kloppel were Grand Masters of the French organisation. In particular, Ambelain played a significant role in reforming the rituals of Memphis-Misraïm in 1960. Since then many different people across the world have founded their own organisations claiming descent from the Kloppel lineage.[citation needed]

Recognition by mainstream FreemasonryEdit

The Rite of Memphis-Misraim is not practiced by any Regular Anglophone Masonic organization. It is practiced in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador by Regular Grand Lodges. In the US, it is under control of the College of Rites.[1][2]


The Rite of MisraïmEdit

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,[3] 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 1813, it was introduced by Joseph, Michel and Marc Bédarride.

The Rite of MemphisEdit

The Rite of Memphis was constituted by Jacques Étienne 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.[citation needed]

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.[4]

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 in France, The other bodies of the Rite did not agree to this truncation of the degrees, and by 1866 Berjeau dissolved them (in France), most of the Gymnosophists joining the Philadelphes.[5]

The Rite of Memphis continued in its 97 degree quality in both the US and South America as well as in other parts of Europe. It must be made clear that no Grand Hierophant of the Rite ever gave up the Rite completely to the Grand Orient de France or to the US Grand College of Rites. The Rite has been revived all over the World by The Grand Hierophants holding the Original Charters of the Rite through the Ambelain and Kloppel lineages.[citation needed]

The Rite of Memphis-MisraïmEdit

The Rites of Misraïm and Memphis were united into a single order under Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1881.

In 1881, General Giuseppe Garibaldi prepared to fuse the two Rites, to be effective as of 1889. Its popularity was greatly increased owing to the works of German Masonic scholar Theodor Reuss, the agent of John Yarker, who became Deputy Grand Master in 1902 and Grand Master in 1905. Reuss succeeded Yarker in this office in 1913. Reuss' lineage was reduced into a nine degree structure which eventually became the original, Mixed (male and female) Masonic Ordo Templi Orientis with a tenth degree for the position of Outer Head of the Order.[citation needed]

Aleister Crowley, who (controversially) claimed the position of Outer Head of the Order in 1923 and was officially voted in as Outer Head in 1925, would eventually reform Ordo Templi Orientis into a Para-Masonic Body in which the rituals were reworked to provide a greater focus on both ceremonial magic and his vision of Thelema. He also changed the three former Symbolic Masonic Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow-Craft (or Companion) and Master Mason into three rituals alluding to an esoteric Templar lineage with the names of Man, Magician and Master Magician. According to Crowley's own writings, this was done because (unlike the Masonic scene in Continental Europe) the overwhelming majority of Freemasons in the United States of America and the British Commonwealth nations were members of "Regular" Freemasonry with alliance to the United Grand Lodge of England, whose tenets, among other things, do not allow women to be initiated to this day. Thus, Ordo Templi Orientis became an order that was completely independent of Freemasonry and its parental Rite, the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis - Misraïm.[citation needed]

Degree StructureEdit

As noted, there is no longer one international authority for Memphis-Misraim. However, The World Association of Egyptian Obediences (WAEO) boats over thirty constituent members from orders and obediences from around the world, making their 100 degree structure a solid, if not all-encompassing summary of global Memphis-Misraim thought.[6]

Memphis-Misraim does contain the three degrees of Craft Masonry, although their names differ by source. WAEO tracing boards name both the first and second degree as "Companion", however some constituent members such as the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim (APRMM) refer to them as the traditional Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft, respectively. It should be noted that there are several differences between the names used by these organisations beyond the Craft degrees.[7]

Degree WAEO[8] APRMM[7] (- Indicates identical names)
Master Traveller Secret Master
Perfect Master -
Master of Brazen Serpent Intimate Secretary
Provost and Judge -
Intendant of the Building -
Master of the Temple Master Elect of Nine
10° Illustrious Elect of Fifteen Master Elect of Fifteen
11° Sublime Prince Elect -
12° Grand Master Architect Grand Master Architect
13° Royal Arch Knight Of The Royal Arch, or Royal Arch
14° Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Master Knight of the Sacred Vault, or Grand elect Perfect and Sublime Master
15° Knight of the East or the Sword Knight of the East, or Knight of the Sword
16° Prince of Jerusalem -
17° Knight of the East and the West Knight of the East and West
18° Knight of the Rose Cross The Knight of the Rose Croix
19° Grand Pontiff Knight Grand Pontiff of Jerusalem, (Pontifex Maximus)
20° Knight of the Temple -
21° Patriarch Noachite Patriarch Noachite, or Knight of Prussia
22° Knight of the Royal Axe Knight Of The Royal Axe, Prince Of The Lebanese
23° Chief of the Tabernacle Knight Of The Tabernacle
24° Prince of the Tabernacle -
25° Knight of the Brazen Serpent -
26° Prince of Mercy Knight Of The Holy City
27° Commander of the Temple Grand Commander Of The Temple
28° Knight of the Sun, or Prince Adept -
29° Knight of St. Andrew -
30° Grand Elected Knight of Kadosh Grand Elect Knight Kadosh
31° Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander -
32° Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret -
33° Sovereign Grand Inspector General -
34° Knight of Scandinavia -
35° Knight of Sirius Knight of the Temple (Knight of Sirius)
36° Sublime Negociant -
37° Knight of the Shota or Sage of Truth Knight of Shota  (Sage Of Truth)
38° Sublime Elect of Truth, or the Red Eagle Sublime Elect of Truth (the Red Eagle)
39° Grand Elect of the Aeons -
40° Sage Savaiste or Perfect Sage -
41° Knight of the Arch of Seven Colours -
42° Prince of Light -
43° Sublime Hermetic Sage, or Hermetic Philosopher -
44° Prince of Zodiac -
45° Sublime Sage of the Mysteries -
46° Sublime Prince of the Huts -
47° Knight of the Seven Stars -
48° Sublime Guardian of the Sacred Mount -
49° Sublime Sage of the Pyramids -
50° Sublime Philosopher of Samothrace -
51° Sublime Titan of the Caucasus -
52° Sage of the Labyrinth -
53° Knight or Sage of the Phoenix -
54° Sublime Scalde -
55° Sublime Orphic Doctor -
56° Pontiff, or Sage of Cadmia -
57° Sublime Magus -
58° Prince Brahmin Sage, or Prince Brahmine
59° Sublime Sage, or Grand Pontiff of Ogygia -
60° Sublime Guardian of the Three Fires -
61° Sublime Unknown Philosopher -
62° Sublime Sage of Eleusis -
63° Sublime Kawi -
64° Sage of Mythras -
65° Guardian of Sanctuary - Grand Installator -
66° Grand Architect of the Mysterious City - Grand Consecrator -
67° Guardian of the Incommunicable Name - Grand Eulogist Grand Eulogist – Guardian of the Incommunicable Name
68° Patriarch of Truth -
69° Knight or Sage of the Golden Branch of Eleusis -
70° Patriarch of the Planispheres Prince of Light or Patriarch of the Planispheres
71° Patriarch of Sacred Vedas -
72° Sublime Master of Wisdom -
73° Patriarch of the Sacred Fire Patriarch, or Doctor, of the Sacred Fire
74° Sublime Master of the Stoka -
75° Knight Commander of the Lybic Chain Knight Commander Of The Libyan Chain
76° Patriarch of Isis Interpreter of Hieroglyphics, or Patriarch of Isis
77° Sublime Knight or Sage Theosopher Prince of Memphis, or Grand Adminstrator
78° Grand Pontiff of the Thebiad -
79° Knight or Sage of the Redoubtable Sada -
80° Elect of the Sanctuary of Mazias Sublime Elect of the Sanctuary of Mazias
81° Patriarch of Memphis Intendent Regulator, or Patriarch of Memphis
82° Sublime Elect of the Temple of Midgard Grand Elect of the Temple of Midgard
83° Sublime Elect of the Valley of Oddy -
84° Patriarch of the Izeds Patriarch or Doctor of the Yezidis (Izeds)
85° Sublime Sage, or Knight of Kneph -
86° Sublime Philosopher of the Valley of Kab -
87° Sublime Prince of Masonry -
88° Grand Elect of the Sacred Curtain -
89° Patriarch of the Mystic City -
90° Sublime Master of the Great Work -
91° Grand Defender
92° Grand Catechist -
93° Regulator General
94° Prince of Memphis, or Grand Administrator -
95° Grand Conservator -
96° Grand and Puissant Sovereign of the Order National Hierophant, Grand and Puissant Sovereign of the Order
97° Deputy International Grand Master -
98° International Grand Master International Grand Master, Superior Initiator Inconnu of Egyptian Masonry (SIIEM)
99° Grand Hierophants, Heads of Orders Grand Hierophant
100° Sovereign Architect of the World Sovereign Architect Of The World – Grand General Hierophant

Prominent membersEdit

Some of the most prominent figures in European occultism have been associated with the Rite. This includes the Frenchmen; Gerard Encausse (Papus), Charles Detré (Tedé), Jean Bricaud, Constant Chevillon, Charles-Henry Dupont and Robert Ambelain. The National Grand Master in Germany from 1906 to 1914 was Rudolf Steiner and the founder of the Thule Society, Adam Alfred Rudolf Glauer (Rudolf von Sebottendorf), became an initiate while living in Turkey. The German founder of the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua, Arnold Krumm-Heller, was also associated. Aleister Crowley, as mentioned above, was at one time affiliated with the rite in its shortened version used by Ordo Templi Orientis. In the United States, Harvey Spencer Lewis, founder of the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, AMORC, was also associated with the rite.[citation needed]

Universal Grand HierophantsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Commission on Information for Recognition (2022), Fringe Freemasonry in England 1870-75. Originally published in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 85 (1972). "In 1869 almost ten years had passed since Grand Lodge issued its warning that the Rite of Memphis was irregular."
  2. ^ "Foreign Grand Lodges Recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England".
  3. ^ Faulks, p. 6.
  4. ^ Prescott, p. 15
  5. ^ Prescott, p. 15-16
  6. ^ "Egyptian Rituals". The World Association of Egyptian Obediences. Retrieved December 8, 2022. {{cite web}}: |first= missing |last= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b "The Tarot of the Egyptian Masonry of Cagliostro". Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim. Retrieved December 8, 2022. {{cite web}}: |first= missing |last= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Aprons". The World Association of Egyptian Obediences. Retrieved December 8, 2022. {{cite web}}: |first= missing |last= (help)

Further readingEdit

  • 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
  • Laos, Nicolas K (2016). Freemasons, World Order, and Mind Wars: The Great Reality of Memphis-Misraim Masonry. Algora Publishing. ISBN 978-1628942217.
  • Prescott, Andrew. The Cause of Humanity: Charles Bradlaugh and Freemasonry

External linksEdit