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Rite of Misraim - History

Mysterious among Masonic orders, the Rite of Misraïm appears and disappears in history, sleeps and awakens in cycles, emerging as a light of authentic esoteric tradition in the obscurantism of the secular world that wants to swallow it up and standardize or extinguish it. The Rite of Misraïm has always concealed itself in order to protect the initiatory secret that was placed at the fourfold summit of its pyramid. Much has been said about this Masonic rite, which has essentially a Masonic form, in that it draws its origin from the hermeticism of a Hellenized Egypt and encompasses within itself the asceticism of thought from Masonic symbolism to hermetic and alchemical philosophy, to mysticism and gnosis to arrive at the Kabbalah, which underlies the entire system.

The name “Misraïm” itself is derived from the Hebrew and Aramaic term for that which belongs to Egypt, namely “Egyptian,” being derived from “Misr,” the name of Egypt proper. This connection is through the Egypt founded by Mizraim, the second son of Cam, Noah's second son, whom the Table of Nations contained in Genesis (10:6) indicated as the founder of Egypt. Cam whose name is also derived from “Khem” meaning the black and fertile land of the Nile valley. In this sense, “Misraïm” can also be read as “Mis-Ra” or “Ra-Mis,” meaning the sun god “Ra saved from the waters.” Such reference to both Egypt and Noah's descendants alludes to a common Jewish and Egyptian origin of the secrets of Kabbalah. Because of this connection to Egypt, the Misraïm Rite is often confused with the system of Cagliostro’s (Palermo?, 1743? - San Leo, 1795) Egyptian Freemasonry, the Grand Cofto, which nevertheless had an independent origin while culminating in the same theurgical practices as the Arcana Arcanorum.

About the history of the Rite of Misraïm much and differently has been said, but the disparity of views is due to the fact that the documents that preserve traces of the origin of this Rite are meager, difficult for historians of Freemasonry to access and moreover with little chance of receiving permission to publish them. It is not possible to establish a certain date for the origin of the Misraïm Rite, but it is possible to find the first historical traces this Rite as early as the beginning of the 18th century on the island of Malta as well as in Naples, so that according to some chronologies it may have appeared as early as 1738 arriving in a legendary sense from Egypt itself. It is in Naples that the Rite of Misraïm is thought to have originated, this city having always had a very special connection with the land of Egypt, especially in the Egyptian community of Nile Square. The initial impulse that led to the birth of the Misraïm Rite stemmed from the decline of Freemasonry, which was no longer initiatory and esoteric. It was the alchemical research work of Raimondo di Sangro, prince of Sansevero (Torremaggiore, 1710 - Naples, 1771), the initial creator of the Arcana Arcanorum, that would make Naples a modern esoteric center, organizing a harvest of different esoteric knowledge within a Masonic system, reconnecting with Egypt. Later, in 1782, through trade relations between Neapolitan brothers and other brothers in the Republic of Venice he would first reach the Ionian Islands in the early 18th century. Specifically in Zakynthos, in a lodge that practiced Egyptian-inspired degrees, the same Lodge of Ugo Foscolo (Zakynthos, 1778 - Thurnam Green, 1827). Then from this in 1782 the Rite, or the precursor to it, came to Venice. It is between 1788 and 1801 several lodges that practiced Egyptian Freemasonry would have received the impetus from Cagliostro, who just in 1788, passes through Venice on his last journey to Rome.

At this point we can mention a hypothesis formulated by Robert Ambelain, who was Grand Hierophant of the Memphis-Misraïm Rite in France, who proposes Cagliostro as the one who allowed the Misraïm Rite of the Scale of Venice to take its present form by infusing it with the Arcana Arcanorum, thus giving the Rite the necessary esoteric impetus, which was already born with a powerful esoteric vocation. Cagliostro received the Kabbalistic Arcana Arcanorum or Scala of Naples between 1767 and 1775 from his friend Knight Louis d'Aquino, whom he met in Malta. Together they went to Naples where in 1768 he was initiated into the Lodge “La Perfetta Unione”, and also into a Rosicrucian Order of 12 adepts, led by Raimondo di Sangro, known as the Rosa d'Ordine Magno, whose name is an anagram of the name of the Prince of Sansevero himself. Cagliostro first infused the Arcana Arcanorum into his Rite of Egyptian Freemasonry, founded in 1784, and then in 1788 in Venice, where he already had some disciples. It was at this point that the Rite of Misraïm took its best-known form.

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