Among the Masonic Rites, this Rite has occupied a particular position since its origin. It has its place among the Egyptian rites that drank from the source of the ancient initiatic traditions of the Mediterranean basin: Pythagoreans, Alexandrian hermetic authors, neo-Platonics, the Sabbeans of Harrân, Ismaelies ... It was necessary to wait until the XVIIIth century to find any traces in Europe. These rites were numerous but only two among them came to us: Misraïm and later Memphis. These two would associate and then merge under the influence of General Garibaldi in 1881.
The Rite of Misraïm
Since 1738, one can find traces of this Rite filled with alchemical, occult and Egyptian references, with a structure of 90 degrees. Joseph Balsamo, called Cagliostro, a key character of his time, known how to give it the impulse necessary for its development.
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 Misraïm and gave a patent to this Rite.
It developed quickly in Milan, Genoa and Naples. In 1803, it was introduced by Joseph Marc and Michel Bédarride. During this period of time, the Rite recruited not only aristocrats but Bonapartists and Republicans, and sometimes even revolutionary Carbonari.
It was forbidden in 1817, following the business of the Four Sergeants of La Rochelle and the uneasyness caused by the Carbonari. It became the meeting-place of opponents to the regime. This progressively let to its decline. Toward 1890, the last Masons of the Rite regrouped in the only remaining Lodge: Arc-en-Ciel.
The Rite of Memphis
Constituted by Jacques Etienne Marconis de Nègre in 1838, the Rite of Memphis is a variant of the Rite of Misraïm. It takes the Egypto - alchemical mythology and completes it with pieces borrowed from the Templars and chivalry.
The Rite of Memphis attracted personalities in quest of an ideal. It knew a certain success among military Lodges until 1841; the date where it was put to sleep. But, with the dismissal of Louis - Philippe in 1848, the Rite was reactivated.
In England, from about 1850 numerous English Lodges worked the Rite of Memphis in French. They maintained celebrity for having welcomed ardent Republicans (Louis Blanc, Alfred Talandier, Charles Longuet and Joseph Garibaldi, (honorary member)). In 1871, the crash of the Commune of Paris contributed to a decrease in Lodges that would further decline around 1880 following the declaration of amnesty of the new French republican government.
In Egypt, from 1873, the Rite of Memphis developed quickly, under the direction of Brother Solutore Avventure Zola, Grand Hierophant until the reign of king Farouk.
In the United States, Marconis de Nègre implanted the Rite around 1856. There was a noticeable emphatuation, particularly under the Grand Mastery of Brother Seymour in 1861.
The Rite of Memphis-Misraïm
In 1881, General Garibaldi was preparing to fuse the two Rites, which would be effective as of 1889. From this moment, the Rite of Memphis-Misraïm became implanted on the many different continents of the world.