Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Introduction to Martinism

When I first heard of Martinism I surprised to find very little on the subject and that very few Masons new about this mystical Christian denomination, particularly with its intimate connection with the Masonic fraternity in its early years. Here is a brief introduction of Martinism.

Martinism is named after Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and is considered a mystical form of Christianity concerned with the fall of man, man's deprivation from the Divine, and his journey to reuniting, or "Reintegrating", with the Divine, also known as illumination.  This tradition was first transmitted through a system of a "high Masonic rite" known as Ordre des Chevaliers Macons Elus-Cohen de l'Univers (Order of Knight Masons, Elect Priests of the Universe) established by Jacques de Livron Joachim de la Tour de la Casa Martinez de Pasqually (or more commonly referred to as Martinez de Pasqually) and which Saint-Martin was a member of.

De Pasqually was born around 1727 in Grenoble, France, and spent most of his life teaching this religious system. He was also a Rosicrucian and is said to have been an initiate of the Swedish philosopher, Emanuel Swedenborg.  He died in 1774 while on business in Saint-Domingue (a part of what is Haiti today). After De Pasqually's death, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, another of De Pasqually's pupil's, established the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité-Sainte (Order of Knights Beneficent of the Holy City), or commonly known today as the Rectified Scottish Rite, which combined teachings of De Pasqually and the defunct Rite of Strict Observance.

Saint-Martin, born into a poor, but noble French family in 1743, first came upon the teachings of De Pasqually during his service in the French Army.  As a result he resigned his commission and moved to Bordeaux to be initiated into De Pasqually's Rite.  While serving as Secretary to De Pasqually he became knowledgeable on the teachings of the Order. He published many works, some of them would have a profound affect on Freemasonry, and all under the pseudonym "un philosphe inconnu" or "an unknown philosopher", from which time he has been referred to by this title. In some of his works, he laid out the plan he believed man should follow for Illumination, and placed an emphasis on Meditation and inner spiritual alchemy. Saint-Martin did not refer to these teachings as "Martinism", but rather called them "Voie Cardiaque" or a  "way of the heart".

Eventually, Saint-Martin would branch out on his own and teach his own mystic instructions separate from the Elus-Cohen. Surviving the French Revolution, Saint-Martin died in 1803 leaving behind his works and his initiates. Towards the end of the 19th century the teachings took on a more structured organization with the assistance of Pierre Augustin Chaboseau and Gerard Analect Vincent Encausse (who is known by the pseudonym of "Papus").  This order was referred to then as "Le Ordre Martineste". These two men had set upon this endeavor as they feared the oral traditions that had been passed down by Saint-Martin had been altered as they both found each had been initiated by two different links stemming from Saint-Martin and, finding some inconsistencies in the transmissions, they wanted to preserve the teachings in a more consistent environment to enable them to further spread the message.

This more formal structure contained four grades called:
Unknown Superior
Unknown Superior Initiator
They structured them so, and as such the first two grades were introductory ceremonies of the Martinist doctrine. The third grade is said to have been comprised of the initial teachings which Saint-Martin imparted on his original followers. Although there exists a connection to the Masonic fraternity with this system of teachings, the rituals are different from those delivered in the Lodge.

Since this time, and with emergence of the Internet, many other Martinist groups have came into being with some differences in the number of grades and structure.

For those interested, here are some great resources (along with my sources):


1. A Brief History of the Martinist Order. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Library: http://masoniclibrary.com/books/Brief%20History%20of%20the%20Martinist%20Order%20%28342%20pgs%29.pdf

2. Louis Claude de Saint-Martin. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Claude_de_Saint-Martin

3. Martinism. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martinism

4. Starr, G. (2012, Nov). Ivan Vladirovich Lopukhin. Retrieved from Living Stones Magazine: http://www.livingstonesmagazine.com/PDF/Lopukhin_Freemasonry_Martinism.pdf

5. The History of Martinism. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ordre Reaux Croix: http://www.ordrereauxcroix.org/history/

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