Birth of Modern Freemasonry
Among the Western initiatic Traditions, Freemasonry is one of the best known. It is strange today to say that this amazing organization was founded in 1777 in an English pub, but this is true!
Of course, it was a formalization of groups that preexisted. However, it is from this moment that the legend really begins. Simple rituals were used at this time, along with signs and secret words. Progressively a third degree was added to the two originals, then 30 degrees more, then 95 degrees for Egyptian Freemasonry, and so on.
The two branches
Modern Freemasonry can be divided in two large branches.
The First Branch
The first branch of Freemasons is the largest all around the world. This is the group of Grand Lodges that are validated by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). They have specific requirements and landmarks that are shared by all of these Lodges and Grand Lodges. Among these rules, few have been sources of numerous conflicts along the years. They are still applied even with some minor adaptations in some countries. Among these rules the most significant is to be restricted to men and usually asking for a belief to a Supreme Being.
The interpretation of a latter is usually vague enough to accommodate every kind of faith.
This first branch of Freemasons calls themselves “Regular Masons” and considers the second branch as “illegal” or “clandestine.” These words mean that it is officially unlawful to meet, talk or assembly to a Mason of the second branch. We have to admit that this way to think brotherhood is a little outdated. Even if we can understand why this situation remains, we hope for a more inclusive vision of Freemasonry. This ideal is very often slow down by Masonic Politics and zealots who forget an important name in this tradition: Fraternity
The Second Branch
The second branch of Freemasons is also present all around the world, even if the number of initiates is significantly less important than the first family. They are also organized in Grand Lodges. The requirements are sometimes different, sometimes the same than the first group. Women can be initiated in most of these organizations. This is the branch which is declared “clandestine” by the first one.
Progressively three main orientations appeared in this second Masonic branch and they can be defined as: Conservative Freemasonry and Liberal Freemasonry. Understanding these differences will give you a good insight on this very important part of the Masonic world.
It is well known that every spiritual or religious tradition has two sides: exoteric and esoteric. The first, exoteric, is the visible aspect. It contains all aspects related to society and humankind. Contemporary Freemasonry is teaching morals standards through an interesting symbolic ritual. Initiations are used as rites of passage. The goal is to help us to become better, to improve our understanding of fraternity in regard to humankind. In the same time, Freemasonry is very involved in philanthropy. All these goals are noble and worth to follow!
The second side, esoteric, is more focus on spirituality and inner development by a specific use of tools. This aspect is the main focus of our Masonic Organization.
In Europe the interest in esotericism go back to the earliest years of Freemasonry. Initiates, eager to go deeper in their understanding of the heart and origin of initiations, created several new degrees. They were used in small groups of initiates. Several aspects of the Egyptian and Greek ancient Mysteries were enacted in rituals and initiations. The names of “Memphis” and “Misraïm” became famous in this regard.
What is less known around the world is that initiates interested by ancient Mediterranean initiations and religions, created these rituals to explore the spiritual world. Of course, we can talk about various kinds of esoteric rituals in Freemasonry. However, Egyptian rituals, which became known as “Egyptian Freemasonry” made esotericism its expertise. Among these organizations, the Sacred Order of the Sophisians has been one of the first to reenact the sacred rituals of Isis under the shape of Freemasonry.
To learn more about Esoteric Freemasonry, we recommend the reading of the book "Esoteric Freemasonry, Rituals & Practices for a Deeper Understanding" by Jean-Louis de Biasi.
Becoming a Freemason and an Egyptian Mason
If you are not already a Mason, we encourage you to join a Lodge belonging to one of the two branches.
However, if you are interested by Egyptian Freemasonry you should know that this rite is forbidden in the first Branch. The only place to practice this ritual is to choose the second branch. If you live in Europe, we recommend to consider an Organization of Memphis Misraim belonging the Clipsas.
If you are already Master Mason initiated in a Grand Lodge recognized by the UGLE and interested by the Sophisians you can contact Jean-Louis de Biasi through his website at www.debiasi.org. It is always possible to organize a lecture in your Lodge or online to speak about this fascinating subject and their esoteric approach!