Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Secret History of Egyptian Freemasonry

It is my great pleasure to announce that on April 10, 2015, the first lodge convened of the Sovereign Sanctuary of Alpha Omega of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis of Egyptian Freemasonry.

The Sovereign Sanctuary of AΩ operates completely separately and independently from the EU headquartered, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. 

Please note:

  1. Women are admitted on an equal basis with men.
  2. In our higher grades, we teach the secret Magick and Alchemy of the original Arcana Arcanorum. Unlike most Freemasonry, our masonry is not merely symbolical or speculative. We are operative, esoteric Masons.
  3. We have established formal recognition and reciprocity with a network of lodges of Egyptian Freemasonry all across the world.
  4. Those interested in becomming an Egyptian Freemason or in forming a lodge of Egyptian Freemasonry are invited to contact me privately.
The Secret History of Egyptian Freemasonry
From a private manuscript translated into English by
Golden Dawn Imperator David Griffin
Count Alessandro di Cagliostro
Among the "schools of transmutation" that have existed through the Centuries, the association known as the Neapolitan Hermetic School claims the distinction of being the oldest in the West. It was at the time of Emperor Augustus that a small colony of Egyptians settled in Naples (in the area known today as Piazza Nilo) bringing with them the oral tradition of the secret techniques they had learned in their homeland. 

The forced Islamization of Egypt would nearly erase these techniques, except for a restricted circle of initiates of the Christian religion, until, in the nineteenth century, certain of Napoleon's officers who were initiated in Italy found with great emotion a substantial correspondence between rituals in their possession with those still in use in the land of the Pharaohs. Rarely have Master Masons found better opportunity to accomplish the secret task of their degree, to "unite that which had been divided." 

The passing of centuries, however, has left its mark. The complex events related to "Masonization" of the Neapolitan Hermetic School in the eighteenth century have contributed to confusion about the kind of spiritual operations that had actually been practiced, and even about their purpose. This short essay reaffirms that the entire complex of the Hermetic operative tradition of the Neapolitan School, which was intended from the beginning for the achievement of inner transmutation [Hermetic Internal Alchemy], and that the subsequent inclusion of para-religious elements could and should be abandoned. 

According to a forcibly approximate reconstruction, it is known today that the original levels of training were three in the Hermetic Neapolitan School. Regarding the first level we do not have much to say. It was but theoretical - and fundamentals of Hermeticism were taught and learned - the science of analogies, symbolism (which within the Neapolitan School was extraordinarily rich and extensive compared with that of other Hermetic schools) and probably also the "Art of Memory." 

In the second level, the actual work of transmutation itself [Internal Alchemy] began, according to a technique characterized by a peculiar form of spiritual practice involving sexual energy. The complex of rituals, etc., later introduced into Freemasonry relative to this practice became known in Latin as the "Arcana Arcanorum."

The true nature of the "Arcana Arcanorum" became one of the best kept secrets in the history of esotericism. Not until 1897, in Paris, the occultist Sedir (born Yvon Le Loup, 1871-1926) published a paraphrased version of the "Arcana Arcanorum" in the form of a pamphlet entitled "The Magic of Venus", but the obscurity of the terminology adopted by Sedir made it nearly impossible to understand almost anything. To briefly summarize, the Arcana consist of three "Magisteriums", plus a Greater Arcanum (or "Secretum Secretorum), which together comprise a system for the regeneration of the physical body and the cultivation of a body of glory [Solar Body of Light].

For reasons not entirely clear (and still much debated), in the mid-eighteenth century significant parts of the Neapolitan Hermetic School decided to merge with Freemasonry. Certainly the dazzling spread of Freemasonry during those years weighed heavily in this decision. Freemasonry was seen as a means to propagate the Neapolitan school outside of Italy. Without a doubt, the special nature of Masonic symbolism played a role in this decision; elastic and capable of easily absorbing and syncretizing very different esoteric systems. This was a feature of Freemasonry especially compatible with Hermeticism, a component of which was included already in Masonry from the beginning, namely the Hiramic symbolism.

There is no doubt that the Neapolitan School was aware from the beginning of the limitations and disadvantages inherent in this operation. Although elastic in symbolism, Freemasonry was rigid in ritual, and would never have allowed the practice of Hermetic transmutation within the columns of the Temple. Moreover, a serious risk of the operative tradition losing its quality for the benefit of the symbolism was also present from the outset. 

But the opportunity to set out in detail, the rich universe of colored symbols that marked the work in a magnificent perennial fresco likely to spread throughout the world, was a temptation that no Hermeticist worthy of the name could resist: A testimony analogous to that represented by the Pyramids, a message to the future, a puzzle to decipher ... certainly also a kind of insurance against changing times, ensuring that the Neapolitan school could rise above any disaster, and recompose the Liber Mutus [silent book] of its symbols where the transmuted Body of Glory had laid eyes on them again. 

It was thus decided to give birth to three systems of Masonic degrees, each of which is described in an allegorical level of instruction: the Rite of Memphis for the first Magisterium, the Rite of Misraim for the second, and Egyptian Freemasonry for the third. 
Prince Raimondo di Sangro di Sansevero
The Rites of Memphis and Misraim both arose in Naples, as a result of a collegial work conducted by many leading figures of the Hermetic Neapolitan School, including, Prince Raimondo di Sangro di San Severo (1710-1771) (to whom we owe the construction of this extraordinary Hermetic monument that is the Chapel of San Severo in Naples) and Baron Henri Theodore de Tschoudi (1724-1769), author of the “Catechismo Massonico della Stella Fiammeggiante” [Catechism of the Masonic Blazing Star.] 

Of the two Rites, the Rite of Memphis was entirely speculative from the beginning, as was the work of the first Hermetic Magisterium it overshadowed: that is, its rich symbolical content was not matched by the practice of any transmutative operations. The Rite of Misraim instead indeed included the practice of the Arcanum (the work of the second Magisterium). Within but a few years, however, as the Rite of Misraim became part of the circuit of international Freemasonry, as anticipated, the Hermetic operative practices sadly were abandoned, because they were perceived outside Naples as presenting an obstacle to the ready acceptance and dissemination of the Rite.

Due to their similarity, the two rites were merged and separated several times, until 1908 gave rise to the final merger. Regular Freemasonry recognizes this as the "Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim." This rite is, however, in reality neither very ancient nor primitive, because the original purpose of transmitting the first two Magisteriums of superior Hermetic training had been entirely abandoned and lost. The transmission lines of the two separate rites, however, have not completely gone away, and still survive - thanks to the selfless commitment of a few passionate Masons - within small, "irregular" Masonic Orders. 

The task of shaping the structure that overshadows the work of the third Magisterium was assigned to Count Alessandro di Cagliostro. With regard to the biography of this extraordinary man we will write almost nothin, save that his identification with the person of the adventurer Giuseppe Balsamo of Palermo is historically inaccurate: the result of an orchestrated anti-Masonic smear by the Roman Catholic Church. Let us not forget that the real Cagliostro was put to death by starvation in a Vatican prison.

Certain historians of Freemasonry have gone so far as even to speculate that Count Alessandro di Cagliostro never really existed, citing similar cases found in different traditions - for example the figure of Manu in Hinduism - characters whose historical existence are doubtful, but that were created to symbolize and summarize them in the name of a particular function: in the case of Manu, the "primordial legislator," in the case of Cagliostro the "Masonizer," meaning the author of the transposition of the ancient rites of transmutation into Masonic terms, a phenomenon which Cagliostro saw only as the protagonist of the Neapolitan Hermetic School, and that was verified all around Europe in the eighteenth century. In fact, one of the most salient traits of the legendary biography of Cagliostro has to do with his travels in many different countries. 

While not agreeing with this extreme hypothesis, there is no denying that "Masonizing" was the most important aspect of Cagliostro's mission. The task of this implementation had been entrusted by Cavalier Luigi d'Aquino (1739-1783) who according to tradition was also Cagliostro's initiator. Cagliostro had met d'Aquino in Malta in 1766 and went with him to Naples in 1773; here was initiated into the third Magisterium, and with his help, undertook the first sketches of the gigantic work of transferring the entire Hermetic corpus into allegorical form. Ten years later, the news of the death of his teacher took Cagliostro to Paris, and it was in this city that Egyptian Freemasonry was founded. 

Unlike the Rites of Memphis and Misraim, in the terminology of Freemasonry, Egyptian Freemasonry is an Order rather than a Rite: that is, while the first two are optional enhancements to the degree of Master Mason, Egyptian Freemasonry encompasses all three levels (Apprentice, Companion and Master). Thus it represents a sort of parallel Freemasonry, completely independent of the body of regular Freemasonry. 

Structured in this manner, Cagliostro obtained two results for the Neapolitan Hermetic School. First, Cagliostro gained the possibility to initiate women - who, then as now, were excluded from regular Freemasonry. Secondly, Cagliostro guaranteed the preservation of the autonomy of Egyptian Freemasonry, thus averting the threat of a forced suspension of the operative work of Hermetic transmutation, a problem that the Rite of Misraim was already facing, after only a few years.

In this article, we have seen that, although the esoteric content of the former was abandoned early on, the Freemasonic Rites of Memphis and Misraim, as well as the Cagliostro's Order of Egyptian Freemasonry were, in reality, attempts made by the Neapolitan Hermetic School to transmit beyond Italy the highest mysteries of Hermetic Internal Alchemy, the Royal Art of physical transmustation, the ancient Egyptian science of immortality and of the energetics of the human body.
Domenico Bocchini
I will not go into further detail here regarding the history of these operative and transmutative Hermetic mysteries, except to mention that Lord Edward Bulwar-Lytton was also an initiate of this same center of Hermetic operativity. Lytton was initiated while in Italy by Domenico Bocchini in the catacombs of San Gennaro at Capodimonte.
Lord Edward Bulwar-Lytton

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to know If there is one of this lodges in Puerto Rico.

    ReplyDelete