Ancient Egyptian Freemasonry
What is called “Egyptian Freemasonry” was organized and practiced in Europe in the late 18th century. The first Egyptian degrees were created by Freemason initiates who were eager to provide a deeper understanding of the real roots of the Masonic Tradition. These initiates used the ancient Mediterranean Mysteries to provide efficient keys that allow a truly effective inner development of the adepts.
Several Masonic groups, Orders, High Degrees systems, and Grand Lodges were created in Europe, mostly in France. The most important were the African Architects (1767), the Primitive Rite of the Philadelphians (1780), the Rite of the Perfect Initiates of Egypt (1785), the Sacred Order of Sophisians (1801), and the Friends of the Desert (1806). Several years later, new Masonic Orders appeared, which were linked to these early traditions; they were called “Misraïm” and “Memphis.” These two rituals were combined in various ways through the years, giving birth to several variations. The three rituals of Entered apprentice (1st), Fellowcraft (2nd), and Master Mason (3rd) constitute the foundation of any Masonic organization, usually called a “Grand Lodge.”
The Masonic path continues after the 3rd degree with the High Degrees. This structure is virtually independent from the Grand Lodge. However, it should be noted that for Egyptian Freemasonry, these degrees are the real continuation of the work that began in the Grand Lodge. Throughout its history, the system of degrees of Memphis-Misraim has generated the largest number of degrees of all Masonic systems. You can find 95th degrees, with an extra few at the top called Arcana Arcanorum. As you might expect, they are not all practiced ritually as real initiations; in fact, some of them are composed of only a few lines of instructions and some signs. Several come from other Masonic rituals such as the Scottish Rite or the Royal Arch.
Eager to return to the source of Egyptian Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Ancient Egyptian Freemasons practice the degrees of the Sophisians as High Degrees. This structure of degrees following the 3rd degree constitutes what is called the “Sacred Order of the Sophisians.” The rituals practiced, traditionally received, are the closest ones to ancient Egypt. As requested by the founders, they associate the Mysteries of Isis with the Masonic Tradition in a very specific way. You can learn more about the Sophisians on their specific website.
To conclude, we can say that Ancient Egyptian Freemasons are Freemasons who have received their initiations through rituals inspired by ancient Egypt dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. They maintain the same basis as any Masonic initiation around the world, but with a focus on techniques of inner development, philosophy and real action in society.
Characteristics of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Egyptian Freemasons
The Egyptian Freemasons of our Grand Lodge practice the rite of Memphis-Misraim in the first three degrees as received by the Grand Officers. The structure of these initiations is common to what is practiced all around the world, although several symbolic tools, symbols, and ritual processes are specific to Egyptian Freemasonry.
Rather than using the countless degrees of the classical system of Memphis-Misraim, our Grand Lodge received the lineage of the “Sacred Order of the Sophisians” that constitutes its high degrees. There are three degrees that focus on a real inner work based on ancient spiritual techniques originating in the roots of the Western Tradition. These High Degrees are open to all Master Masons of the Grand Lodge.
A religion is based on beliefs and faith. Without being contrary to that, Freemasonry is based on reason, experiment, and training. The goal of Freemasonry is to help each initiate to know himself better to become who he really is. This action is not merely symbolic: Egyptian Freemasonry uses traditional Western techniques or tools to give initiates the means of its inner work. In addition, each Ancient Egyptian Freemason is invited into the Lodge to discuss and delve deeply into the essential aspects of human life, such as morals, philosophy, religion, history, theosophy, death and life, esotericism, and more. Note that several of these aspects are explained in our blog posts.
From its inception, Ancient Egyptian Freemasonry has been open to any human being without any discrimination: every man and woman is welcome, regardless of color, belief, or sexual orientation.
However, individuals may be disqualified if they possess extreme political views, dogmatic behavior, or have committed criminal offenses.
Freemasonry, whether Egyptian or not, has always been a laboratory of ideas. Initiates who became brothers and sisters could discuss essential subjects for their lives, practicing genuine tolerance. This system was the birthplace of beautiful ideas, leading to the universal declaration of human rights. This fundamental aspect is still present in the lodges; the Grand Lodge, especially, supports these principles, because ignoring them would transform Freemasonry into a vain institution, far from what the founders envisioned.
Whether a Masonic organization is esoteric or not, philanthropy should be one of its noble goals. Historically, one of the main purposes of Freemasonry was philanthropy and social assistance. Today our Masonic organization continues to value human rights while helping its members in need. We also support important causes: for example, research on Parkinson’s disease.