History of the Rites of Memphis-Misraim

History of the Rites of Memphis-Misraim

Historically, this Masonic Obedience, that celebrated its bicentennial in 1988, 
originated when the two rites of Memphis and Misra„m were merged in 1881 by 
Garibaldi, who became its first Grand Master. The Rite of Misra„m had been 
founded in Venice in 1788. Its filiation came through Cagliostro who had 
entrusted it with the lower (first) Degrees of The Grand Lodge of England and 
the higher Degrees of German Templar Masonry. The Rite of Memphis was 
constituted in Montauban in 1815 by Freemasons who had taken part in the Mission 
to Egypt with Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. To these two rites were added 
initiatic Degrees which came from esoteric obediences of the 18th Century: The 
Primitive Rite, The Rite of Philadelphes, etc...

During the 19th Century, the Carbonaris recruited members in Misra„m and 
Memphis. They had numerous Lodges in France, and some of their dignitaries were 
very influential persons, such as the Duke Decazeo and the Count Muraire, who 
were both Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite.

In France, the Obedience is the meeting place of Masons who share an attraction 
for esoterics, hermeticism, symbolism, etc. There are about 90 Lodges in France, 
not counting the higher Degree workshops. In these Workshops are a few hundred 
members among whom we find Masons from all Obediences who are most qualified in 
the field of esoterics, Some are even at the helm of other, more secret 

The Rite of Memphis-Misra„m perpetuates the tradition of attachment to the 
principles of tolerance and freedom of thought which made it the refuge and 
recruitment ground of the Carbonaris during the Reign of the White Terror in the 
19th Century.


The first mention of the Rite was in Venice in 1788, A group of Socinians (an 
anti-trinitary Protestant sect) asked a patent of constitution from Cagliostro 
who was then in Trieste (He came to Venice and stayed for six weeks). They did 
not want to participate in his Magical-Kabbalistic rituals, so they chose to 
work at the Templar Rite. So Cagliostro conferred their only Masonic Light. He 
had the first three Degrees of English Freemasonry and the higher Degrees from 
Germany, which was greatly influenced by the Templar tradition. The name of 
Misraim is the plural form of Egyptian, which is the only reminder of this 
Egyptian Rite which gave their obediential personality. It spread rapidly to 
Milan, Genoa, Naples, and appeared in France with Michel Bedarride who had 
received the Grand Mastery (ultimate powers) in 1810, in Naples, from B.. 
DeLasalle. From 1810 to 1813, the three Bedarride brothers successfully 
developed the Rite in France, almost under the protection of The Scottish Rite. 
Indeed, it had illustrious Masons at its helm: the Court of Muraire, Sovereign 
Grand Commander of The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite; the Duke Decazeo, the 
Duke of Saxe-Weimar, the Duke of Leicester, the Lieutenant-General from Teste, 

During the White Terror, Misra„m quickly became the Masonic Obedience which 
transmitted the required Third Degree to the Carbonari, and this group then had 
22 Lodges in Paris, 6 in Lyon, 6 in Metz, 5 in Toulouse, 3 in Bordeaux, 3 in 
Geneva, 3 in Lausarme, and 1 in Couriray. The police of the restauration 
obtained its dissolution because it was fiercely anticlerical and anti-royalist. 
After being clandestine for 18 years it was restored in 1838 and dissolved once 
more in 1841. Again brought out of the underground in 1848, Misraim evolved 
towards its merger with the Rite of Memphis in 1881. which was the realization 
of Garibaldi.


Most of the members who accompanied Bonaparte on the Mission in Egypt were 
Masons belonging to the old initiatic Rites: Philaletes, African Brothers, the 
Primitive Rite, and all were Masons of the Grand Orient of France. Having 
discovered in Cairo a Gnostic-Hermetic survival, and in Lebanon the Druse-
Masonry that Gerard de Nerval had also met, and which dated back to the 
operative Masonry which had accompanied their protectors, the Templars, the 
Brothers of the Mission in Egypt decided to renounce the Masonic affiliation 
which had come from the Grand Lodge of England and to start again with a new 
Rite that would owe nothing to England, who was then the number one enemy. And 
thus was born the Rite of Memphis in 1815, in Montauban, under the direction of 
Samuel Harris and Marconis de Negre.

As the Rite of Misra„m regrouped the Jacobites who were nostalgic of the 
Republic and the Carbonari, the Rite of Memphis very quickly regrouped the semi-
retired of the ex-great army and the Bonapartists faithful to the Eagle. The two 
Rites, moreover, had the same Grand Master in 1816, a prelude to the future 
merger. But the Grand Orient was then monarchist in its majority, its seal was 
comprised of the Fleur-de-Lis, and it succeeded in obtaining the dissolution of 
Memphis. But that did not last, however, and in 1826 this Rite took up its work 
again inside the same Grand Orient. Dissolved in 1841, just like Misra„m, 
Memphis also became clandestine and returned from the underground only in 1848, 
with the advent of the 
Republic. Dissolved again in 1850, reactivated in 1853, Memphis joined the Grand 
Orient in 1862 because it was obliged to do so by a decision of the Prince-
President. With numerous Lodges abroad, it had illustrious people within its 
ranks, such as Louis Blanc, and Garibaldi, who soon became the unifier of 
Memphis and Misra„m.


The Rites of Memphis and Misra„m, until 1881, followed parallel roads and even 
in concert in the same particular climate, Indeed, the Rites begin to regroup 
Masons of the Grand Orient of France and of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish 
Rite who were interested by the studies of the esoterics of Masonic symbolism: 
Gnosis, Kabbalah, even Hermetics and Occultism. Now, these two Rites had 
inherited and were the depositors of the old initiatic Obediences of the 18th 
Century: The Rite of Philalethes, The Rite of Philadelphia, The Hermetic Rite, 
The Primitive Rite, etc., and all this represented, in Misra„m: 90 Degrees; and 
in Memphis: 95 Degrees. How to administer and use this ill-assorted ensemble? 
When Garibaldi was appointed the first International Grand Master, "ad vitam" 
(the Brothers abroad had not suffered the political persecutions like in 
France), a kind of classification was made, which was not hierarchical in the 
beginning but which quickly became such. In fact, the 95 Degrees of the Rite of 
Memphis-Misra„m should be considered an ambulatory where rests old Masonic 
Degrees that are not practiced anymore, or very little, and not as a scale of 
values. Furthermore, the agreements of 1863 with the Grand Orient of France, and 
of 1896 with the Grand Lodge of the Scottish Rite, which was to become the Grand 
Lodge of France, speak only of the classical 33 Degrees (Rite of Perfection, 
followed by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite).

The Memphis-Misra„m higher Degree Workshops must work: the 4th Degree (Secret 
Master), the 9th Degree (Master Elect of Nine), the 13th Degree (Royal Arch), 
the 14th Degree (Grand Elect of the Sacred Vault), the 18th degree (Knight Rose-
Croix), the 28th Degree (Knight of the Son), the 30th Degree (Knight Kadosh), 
the 32nd Degree (Prince of the Royal Secret), and the 33rd Degree (Sovereign 
Grand Inspector General). The 66th Degree (Patriarch Grand Consecrator) is 
conferred only to certain Brothers who could be called upon to act as 
Consecrator, and a certain particular preparation is required. Some have 
compared it to an Episcopal Consecration.

The 87th, 88th, 89th, and 90th Degrees comprise what is referred to in textbooks 
as the Arcana Arcanorum. Those who are admitted to the 95th Degree become the 
protectors and conservators of the Rite as their name, Patriarch Grand 
Conservator, indicates. It is among them that the International Grand Master 
chooses the members who serve on the International Sovereign Sanctuary, supreme 
governing body of the Rite.

Additionally, the 66th, 90th, and 95 Degrees may be conferred on Masons in 
recompense for their valor, their knowledge, and their fidelity; the 95th Degree 
confers upon them the right to sit on the "Council of Sages" in their quality as 
Grand Conservator of the Rite.

Other Degrees, such as the Royal Arch, are not mandatory and are left to the 
choice of the Brothers. Knighthood (Chivalry) is transmitted to certain Brothers 
with the 20th Degree (Knights Templar or Knight of the Temple), descended 
directly from the Ancient Strict Templar Observance and the Knights Beneficent 
of the Holy City of Jean-Baptiste Willermoz.

The Lodges of Memphis-Misra„m work the Egyptian Rite. On their altars, they add 
to the traditional interlacing of the Compass and the Square, the Rule, symbol 
of the Grand Architect of the Universe and of Divine Law.

Since March 1990, the President of the National Council elect insures the 
administration of all the Blue Lodges of the Rite in France and in the Associate 

On May 10th 1991, the French Obedience was admitted into C.L.I.P.S.A.S. (Centre 
of Liaison and Information of the Masonic Powers, Signatories of the Call of 
Strasbourg), thus registering its action on the sides of European and liberal 

The Rite of Memphis-Misra„m perpetuates its traditions of fidelity to
democratic principles and to the initiatic Sciences