Arcana Arcanorum

"Freemasonry is a fraternity within a fraternity - an outer organization concealing an inner Brotherhood of the elect. Before it is possible to intelligently discuss the origin of the craft it is necessary to establish the existence of these two separate yet interdependent orders, the one visible and the other invisible. The visible society is a splendid camaraderie of "free and accepted" men enjoined to devote themselves to ethical, educational, fraternal, patriotic, and humanitarian concerns. The invisible society is a secret and most august fraternity whose members are dedicated to the service of a mysterious Arcanum Arcanorum."


According to Webster's Dictionary, the word "Arcanum" refers to "secrets" or "the Great secret," the word "Arcanorum" refers to the "secret of secrets." What is the "secret of secrets?" It is contained in the instructions that have been passed down through the ages by the Mystery Religions, and when you complete this series of letters you will understand the mystery that has fueled world strife since the dawn of civilization.  Latin syntagm ARCANA ARCANORUM meaning is "(the) Secret of (all) Secrets".  The abbreviation with three points forming a triangle following the initials is typical of esoteric societies;  A.·.A.·. is considered the ultimate level of initiation in a few modern secret or discreet initiatic societies, such as Freemasonry, Golden Dawn, etc. 

A.·.A.·. is the one true and invisible Order which has operated under various names and guises throughout history to guide the spiritual evolution of humanity.  The goals of the A.·.A.·. are those which have motivated spiritual exploration and religious inquiry throughout human history.   Its methods are those of science; its aims are those of religion.   It is the Arcanum Arcanorum, and the Holy of Holies wherein the Sacred Ark rests inviolate.  Every legitimate magical order, mystery school, religion, or other agency disseminating some portion of Wisdom or Light is or has been but an Outer Vehicle of this Inner Fellowship of Light. 

The Arcana Arcanorum class of degrees was purportedly first devised by the controversial magus and Freemason known as count Alessandro Cagliostro (thought to constitute the pseudonym of Giuseppe Balsamo), also the creator of the Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry;  the A.·.A.·. Egyptian Masonry tends to focus on Alchemy (a word which means Egypt, Al-khemi or Land of Khem), neo-platonism (a philosophical movement that started in Alexandria, Egipt) and the Kabbalah.  Masonic degrees have survived and are now part of the Mizraim - Memphis Rite. The Rites of Mizraïm and Memphis, commonly known as Egyptian Freemasonry, originated in Italy and France and combined masonic symbolism with Egyptian and alchemical references.  At that time Malta was a center for Masonics, and other esoteric cults and the Arcana Arcanorum.  Very close to the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta, Manual Pinto de Fonseca, Cagliostro founded the Rite of High Egyptian Masonry in 1784.  He received, between 1767 and 1775, from Sir Knight Luigi d’Aquino, the brother of the national Grand Master of Neapolitan Masonry, the Arcana Arcanorum, three very high hermetic degrees. 

In 1788, he introduced them into the Rite of Mizraïm and gave a patent to this Rite.

In 1782 Count Cagliostro gathered his research in secret societies into a body of knowledge known as the Arcana Arcanorum, or A.·.A.·., consisting of a series of magical practices that stressed “internal alchemy.” The fruits of Cagliostro's researches into the occult societies of Europe were a body of knowledge known as the Arcana Arcanorum, or A.·.A.·. He took this term from the original Rosicrucians of the 17th Century, but his corpus consisted of descriptions of magical practices that stressed "internal alchemy," so it goes. Cagliostro introduced the three very secret and famous degrees of Arcana Arcanorum (A.·.A.·.) into the Rite of Misraïm in 1788, out of which the Rite of Memphis later manifested (1838), which also incorporated templar and chivalry symbolism. The Rites merged into Memphis-Misraïm (MM) in the late 19th century, and are unrivalled when it comes to quantity of degrees in one system. Several versions of the A.·.A.·. have existed and been in use, and since many consider it to be the one real golden treasure of the hermetic tradition, no MM society dare to give any details about it (some however have dared to make up their own versions, so that they officially can claim to possess it).

Cagliostro incorporated his "secret" teachings in the so called Arcana Arcanorum consisting of Kaballistic practices that stressed "internal alchemy".  The highest hermetic mysteries has always dealt with a sexual interpretation of alchemy. An example is Cagliostro's Arcana Arcanorum.  

But the A.·.A.·.. of Cagliostro is only one minor example of the inner teachings in european esotericism. Each of the stages of alchemy found its correspondence in the body of the follower. Not unlike Swedenborg and his Masonic colleagues in London who assimilated their sexual theories into a special order of Freemasonry, the "Royal Order of Heredom of Kilwinning" or "Rite of Seven Degrees.” In 1785, a French Masonic convention invited Alexander of Cagliostro to Paris, he whose effective knowledge of the Mysteries was known and praised… In fact, had this plan succeeded, it would allow the diffusion to a large extent, but only to the intitiatic orders (open to both sexes), after serious studies and duly accomplished trials, what was called in the eighteenth century, “The Arcana Arcanorum” (Knowledge possessed by Saint Germain and firstly Althotas and transmitted to Cagliostro, Aquinas, and some others, relative to rites of High Evocatory Theurgy, secondly the essence of Alchemic and finally techniques of accelerated evolution, based on Theurgy. The Order of Misraim was introduced into France after 1813 by the Bedarride brothers; afterwards it spread to Belgium, Switzerland, Britain, and the U.S. It consists of two forms of practice: the Kabbalistic form adopted by the Bedarrides and the Egyptian-Hellenistic form of the highest degrees known as the Arcana Arcanorum. The Rite of Misraïm in France made it official in Paris in 1814 was composed of 90 degrees, taken from the Scottish freemasonry, from Martinism and other Masonic currents, and the last four degrees received the name of "Arcana Arcanorum.”

The famous ARCANA ARCANORUM degrees (87° up to 90°), made by Cagliostro in the 18th, were incorporated in the highest Degree of The Ancient and Primitive Oriental Rite of Misraim and Memphis, one of the our predecessors order were we claim unbroken initiatory lineage by.

They were originally adapted and incorporated in the Mizraim-Rite in Italy, in the beginning of the 19th century. The Arcana Arcanorum, who have spilled much ink about badly in recent years, creating a myth useless, are the ranks of several terminal commands semi-internal or practice "end" of more traditional systems.

The Crown of the A.S.E.R.M.M. is found in the 87° through 90° (Régime de Naples), which “composes the entire philosophy of the True Rite of Misraïm” and which furnishes “a developmental explanation of the rapport between Man and God, through the mediation of heavenly spirits.” 87º up to 90º are the famous Arcana Arcanorum Degrees, made famous by Cagliostro in the 18th. Century. They were originally adapted and incorporated in the Mizraim-Rite in Italy, in the beginning of the 19th century. 

The degrees of the Arcana Arcanorum are the culmination of the Masonic Wisdom, as well as the teachings of the Ages. It may be said that the preceding degrees are merely a training ground for those things which are taught in the Arcana Arcanorum.  The actual teachings of these degrees was even concealed from the most advanced members of the Rite of Misraïm, and many prominent members of the Rite were not admitted to the these degrees. It was for this reason that these degrees were often replaced by administrative degrees, where the degrees of 87° through 90° merely served to identify the heads of the Rite.  Entire jurisdictions of the Rite were created where not even the Grand Conservator was admitted to the secrets of the Arcana Arcanorum.

It should also be noted that neither Marc nor Michel Bedarride were ever initiated into the Arcana Arcanorum when they received their patents.  They would have aggravated this situation, since they were not able to communicate a secret of which they were not in possession. This would have created a situation where the exoteric Masonic frame began to replace the inner esoteric magical and alchemical work (of the Arcana Arcanorum) of the Rite until the esoteric nature had all but vanished as fewer and fewer Lodges were established or overseen by members who were participants of the mysteries of the Arcana Arcanorum.  Joly, however, was such a Mason. 

In addition to being responsible for the creation of the lectures for the high degrees, he was admitted to the Arcana Arcanorum by Lasalle and Lechangeur. Joly soon found himself opposing the Bédarrides and their control of the Rite and held less and less influence on its development until his name was not even mentioned in Marc Bédarride’s book on the Rite, despite his role in its development in France and in creating the lectures for the higher degrees. Lechangueur provides François Joly with a Charter to propagate the Rite of Misraim in France. Additionally, Joly was admitted into the Arcana Arcanorum by Lechangueur, the summit of the Rite, which contained the inner secrets of Egyptian Freemasonry. Bedarride, despite his control of the Rite, and work in expanding its degrees, was never admitted into the Arcana Arcanorum.

The secrets of the Arcana were brought to the Rite by the Chevalier Luigi d’Aquino, who was a friend of Cagliostro. Jean Mallinger in his work Inconnues states, “...the parallels between certain passages of the Arcana and the traditions of the ritual of Cagliostro are amazing”. Gaston Ventura has claimed that the 88º of the Arcana Arcanorum contains a Martinist initiation. The ideologies of Martin de Pasqually and agliostro are, however, very close when dealing with the soul of Man and his reintegration with the divine. The Rite itself claims that the secrets of the Arcana Arcanorum are derived from Egypto-Hellenic Hermeticism and the verbiage of the Rite is decidedly pantheistic. This description of the Arcana Arcanorum might be a key to the Bédarrides lack of involvement with these degrees and the direction that the Rite took in France. The Judaic religion of the Cavaillon region of Italy (home to the Bédarride family) would not have been in accord with “Egypto-Hellenic Hermeticism,” and the degrees of the third and fourth series (created by Bédarride) show more of a movement towards Cabalism and Jewish mysteries. 

The degrees leading up to the Arcana Arcanorum are decidedly monotheistic (in the Old Testament tradition), so descriptions of these secrets as pantheistic would lead us to conclude that they were either written at a different time in the evolution of the Rite, or by different authors, or that they comprise an entirely different sort of Mysteries than those of the lower degrees. Descriptions of the Arcana Arcanorum and the rituals of the Krata Rapoa also show a remarkable similarity. Parallels between Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite and the Krata Rapoa have already been shown. The mysteries of the Arcana Arcanorum were probably an early addition to the Rite and almost certainly of Italian origin. It is possible that the Rite continued to grow in the middle as it expanded, adding degrees between the symbolic rites and the Arcana Arcanorum.

Giuliano Kremmerz (1861-1930) is the founder of the "Ordine Osirideo Egizio" (Egyptian Osirian Order). The O.O.E. was an internal Order dedicated to spiritual and operative alchemy. Although Kremmerz was a "notorious" occultist, he has a lot of interesting material to offer.  His connections with a movement where possibly the M.·.M.·. and its Arcana Arcanorum is derived from, are also worthwile to investigate.  Apparently, Kremmerz' first teacher was a Pasquale de Servis, a.k.a. IZAR, and his teachings were based upon the A.·.A.·. - Scala di Napoli system.