Red Ice Membership

A Brief Introduction to the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Mizraim or Egyptian Masonry

By Gary Ford

Most Freemasons never proceed beyond the first three degrees of the Blue Lodge. This Rite is of great interest because of the colorful history and extraordinary number of degrees associated with it. Latter 20th Century Masonic authorities have often accused this Rites founders and promulgators of running fee snatching Masonic diploma mills. They criticize its historical inaccuracies and overtones of mysticism. And yet good and sincere Masons have associated with it. And those who have had the opportunity to pour over some of its rituals have found real value here and there. Is it fee snatching and degree selling to give a man 10 or 20 or 32 degrees in 1 or 2 weekends for a few hundred dollars? This is the common practice in the American "York" Rite and "Scottish" Rite and has been for many years. Are there no historical inaccuracies in the Masonic Craft Degrees or those of the "York" Rite and "Scottish" Rite? Of course, there are many. Have there never been any rascals among the ranks of "Regular" Masons?

The Antient and Primitive Rite is an amalgamation of several Masonic Rites and numerous degrees. The primary Rites involved are the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of 33 degrees, the Rite of Memphis of 90 degrees and the Rite of Mizraim of 96 degrees. Both Memphis and Mizraim Rites appear to have a large number of Degrees in common. Commenting briefly on these two systems in 1871 Brother Robert Macoy had the following brief entries:

MEMPHIS, RITE OF Sometimes called the Oriental Rite. A modification of the Rite of Mizraim, organized in Paris, in 1839, by Messieurs Marconis and Mouttet. It afterward extended to Brussels and Marseilles, thence to New York. It was composed of 90 working and 6 official degrees. For a time it excited some interest in Paris, and then fell into obscurity until 1860, when it was reorganized, the 96 degrees reduced to 30, and then merged into the Grand Orient of France, where it is permitted to slumber. It may now be regarded as extinct.

MISRAIM, Rite of. This Rite was introduced into France near the commencement of the present century. It made considerable progress, and in 1817, application was made on the part of its friends to the Grand Orient, to accept it as a legitimate branch of Masonry. 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 Misraim is interesting and instructive, but many of its degrees are too abstruse to be popular. The initiation is a reproduction of the ancient rite of Isis, and represents the contests of Osiris and Typhon, the death, resurrection, and triumph of the former, and the destruction of the latter. there are 90 degrees divided into four series - symbolic, philosophical, mystical and cabalistic, and again divided into seventeen classes. The traditions of this system are full of anachronisms, historical events and characters, separated by hundreds of years, being made to figure on the same scene at the same time. The work entitled "De l'Ordre Maconnique de Misraim," published at Paris, in 1835, by Mons. Marc Bedirride, purporting to give the history of the Order, is a mere romance, and full of puerilities. Nevertheless, many of the degrees are highly interesting and instructive.

In his book The Arcane Schools (William Tait, Belfast, 1909) Brother John Yarker writes : " The 'Rite of Mizraim' was first culminated and established in Italy in 1804-5, and consists of 90 degrees, collected from all sources, and is not without value; it was then taken to Paris by the brothers Bedarride. At one time it was looked upon favorably in this country (England), the Duke of Sussex was its recognized head in England; the Duke of Leinster in Ireland; and in Scotland the Duke of Athol was succeeded by Walker Arnott of Arleary, Esqre. ; but eventually they came to an agreement to abandon the Rite. No doubt they were influenced in this step by financial difficulties in Paris; someone has observed that it needs the fortune of a kingdom to carry on a Rite of 90 degrees with the necessary splendor. Some of the Templar Conclaves continued to confer it till recently; in Italy and some other parts it has been reduced to 33 degrees, and designated the ' Reformed Rite of Mizraim.' In a quiet way it is still conferred in this country under its own Supreme Council."

Most Illustrious Brother John Yarker 33° 90° 96°
In commenting specifically on the Antient and Primitive Rite Yarker states : "The 'Rite of Memphis' has a similar record to that of Mizraim, and was established on the basis of the Rites of Primitive Philadelaphes and the Primitive Philalethes; occult branches of the systems of Paschalis and St. Martin, in which the grades were not clearly defined, but each of the three sections into which they were divided had power to add any suitable degrees useful for its aims. An Egyptian system of Masonry was foreshadowed in the pamphlet of 'Master of Masters,' Paris 1815. Freemasonry had been introduced into Egypt by the armies of Buonaparte, and from thence where it gathered some additions, was transplanted to Montauban in France, 1816, by the Brothers Marconis, Baron Dumas, Petite, Labrunie, Sam Honis of Cairo, etc. After an interval of sleep it was revived at Brussels and Paris by Jacques Etienne Marconis, surnamed de Negre, son of Grand Master Marconis; its revival at Brussels took place in 1838, and at Paris in 1839, with the assistance of the elder Marconis, under the designation of the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis divided into three Sections, and 95 or 97 degrees. At an early period it was introduced into America, Egypt and Roumania, the former chartered a Sovereign Sanctuary for Great Britain and Ireland in 1872, and in the two latter countries it is the only Rite held in much esteem. It requires in this country, that its neophytes should already be Master Masons, and in this year of grace is spread into almost all countries, with whom representatives are appointed. It introduced the Rite into Germany in 1905, where it has numerous Craft Lodges, and Paris is in course of re-establishing itself."

Brother J. E. Marconis Grand Hierophant 97°
It is interesting to note that the German body referred to above was under the control of one Theodor Reuss. Among other things Reuss was a singer, journalist and possibly a spy for the Prussian Police. He used the charter supplied by Yarker to establish a "Masonic Academy" which became known as the Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O. and taught a form of "Sex Magic" to its members which included both men and women. An American group claiming decent from this order still exists. During the course of some of their ritual work the Masonic titles of grades originating from the Antient and Primitive Rite and other Masonic Bodies are still conferred. There is no Masonic qualification to join this organization which confers its grades on both men and women. Many of its members from the highest on down firmly believe themselves to be Freemasons. See the Phoney Masonry of the OTO link at the top of this page. It must also be said that although the Antient & Primitive Rite has been declared dead and defunct many times that it still continues to exist to this day in many forms throughout the world. Masonic orthodoxy has failed to eliminate these dazzling Rites with their lengthy lists of cool titles.

He was Aleister Crowley's predecessor as Head of the OTO. Reuss was initited in November, 1876 into Pilgrim Lodge No. 238 (working under a Charter from the United Grand Lodge of England) while in London. He was passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft in May, 1877 and was raised to the Degree of Master Mason on 9 January, 1878. He appears to have never attended another meeting and was dropped from membership on 1 October, 1880. This appears to be the entire extent of his career as a Regular Mason. His activities as an irregular mason after 1877 however could fill a book. See Ellic Howe and Helmut Moller, Theodor Reuss. Irregular Freemasonry in Germany, 1900-23, Transactions of AQC Vol. 91, 1978.

The following is a list of the Degrees of the Ancient or Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Mizraim as reduced to thirty-three Degrees.

The Degrees of the Ancient and Primitive Rite


4. Discreet Master.

5. Sublime Master.

6. Sacred Arch.

7. Secret Vault.

8. Knight of the Sword.

9. Knight of Jerusalem.

10. Knight of the Orient.

11. Rose Croix.


12. Knight of the Red Eagle.

13. Knight of the Temple.

14. Knight of the Tabernacle.

15. Knight of the Serpent.

16. Knight of Kadosh.

17. Knight of the Royal Mystery.

18. Grand Inspector.

19. Sage of Truth.

20. Hermetic Philosopher.


21. Grand Installator.

22. Grand Consecrator.

23. Grand Eulogist.

24. Patriarch of Truth.

25. Patriarch of the Planispheres.*

26. Patriarch of the Vedas.

27. Patriarch of Isis.

28. Patriarch of Memphis.

29. Patriarch of the Mystic City.

30. Sub. Master of the G. W., P. P.

* This is one of my favorite titles of the bunch. But can you imagine the reaction of one's spouse upon being informed of this new title? " My dear, I am now a Patriarch of the Planispheres!" "Sure you are, now go take out the garbage, Patriarch." Oh well, you're never a prophet in you're own home I guess.

Section 4.- OFFICIAL.

31. Grand Defender of the Rite.

32. Sublime P. of Memphis.

33. Sov. Grand Conservator of the Rite.

In the article on the Antient and Primitive Rite in his Royal Masonic Cyclopedia, Kenneth Mackenzie gives an identical list of degrees but goes on to state "In England, however, these rites are varied; thus - 16. Sage of Truth. 17. Hermetic Philosopher. 18. Knight Kadosh. 19. Royal Master. 20. Grand Intendant." It was from the John Yarker body in England that Theodor Reuss and others obtained the charter for the Antient and Primitive Rite which Degrees they attached to their Ordo Templi Orientis. The direct descendant of the body that Chartered Yarker is the Grand College of Rites, an American Masonic body. For a most interesting treatment of some of the history of the Degrees listed here see Albert Pike and William L. Cummings, The Spurious Rites of Memphis and Misraim, article in Heredom, The Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society, Volume 9, 2001. For a list of the degrees of the Oriental Rite of Memphis as well as those of the Rite of Mizraim see the Big Degree List link below. See also the Clandestine Masonry of the O.T.O. link below.

Article from:

Oriental Rite of Mizraim

The Rite of Mizraim was created in Milan, Italy in the year 1805 , supposedly by several Masons who had been refused admittance into the Ancient and Accepted Rite . The name of this rite is taken from the Hebrew word for Egypt and as such the Rite of Mizraim played an important part in the development of what would later be defined as Egyptian Masonry. Egyptian Masonry may be said to have it's origins in the Egyptian Rite of Masonry as developed by Cagliostro in the closing years of the Eighteenth century. 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. All of Western Europe was abuzz with the exotic nature of Egyptian culture and the inherant mysteriousness of its long lost secrets. It was also at this time that the Rosetta Stone was discovered (1799) and serious work into unravelling ancient Egypt could begin. It should not however be assumed that the Rite of Mizraim was in any associated with the Egyptian Rite of Masonry nor was it created by Cagliostro. It is probable that the originators of the Rite of Mizraim were familiar with Cagliostro and his infamous Rite but close inspection of the two shows that they are not designed along the same lines. Of equal importance, it should be noted that the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis was not affiliated or connected to the Rite of Mizraim until the closing of the Nineteenth century when the two were revived and combined by John Yarker.

The Rite appeared in 1805 when its Grand Orient was formed in Milan. Lechangeur (who was refused admittance to the Ancient and Accepted Rite) became the head of the Rite of Mizraim and in all probablility was responsible for creating its degree structure. By 1812 the Rite had moved to Paris, principly under the direction of three brothers named Bèdarride and was firmly entrenched in France by 1814. Several attempts were made to incorporate the Rite under the auspices of the Grand Orient of France, all of which failed and the Rite was dissolved in 1817. The Rite continued to exist and make Masons clandestinely until 1822 when at the insistence of the Grand Orient it was closed by the Police. Two of the Bèdarride brothers, Marc and Michel reopened their Lodges in France, although there was little success in theior attmept to revive the Rite. In 1856, Michel Bèdarride transferred the Rite to Dr. Hayére in return for his paying off Michel's debts. Hayére assumed control of the Rite of Mizraim on March 29, 1856 and attempted to revive it to some of its earlier prominence.

The Rite of Mizraim possessed 90 Degrees and claimed to possess the long lost tradition of Egyptian Hermetics. 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 Kabalah and Alchemy.

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Related: Ordo Templi Orientis, The Book of the Law, Crowley, Pike & The Bloody Sacrifice (WWI - III)

the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Rite of Memphis-Mizraim

The Synagogue of Satan

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