Freemasonry, magic, Kabbalah, and alchemy all fused together in Count Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry. In this interview, Philippa Lee (AKA Philippa Faulks) discusses Cagliostro’s life, his Egyptian Rite, alchemy, Egyptology, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and important, lesser-known esotericists such as Martines de Pasqually.
Philippa is the author of The Masonic Magician, Cagliostro: The Unknown Master, and Modern Mantras, among other books. She is also currently the editor of The Square magazine. You can find out more about her work here.
The self-styled “count” Cagliostro is believed to have been initiated into a Masonic lodge, attached to the Rite of Strict Observance, in London in 1776. A decade later, he attended the Lodge of Antiquity in London. During that time, he also founded his Egyptian Rite, which drew upon alchemy, Kabbalah, and related esoteric phenomena.
Although it died out after a few years, much of its ritual was adopted by the Rites of Memphis and Misraim. It was also the first esoteric Rite to be inspired by the idea of the Mysteries of ancient Egypt (though we find Egyptian aesthetics turning up in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and A.M.O.R.C., among other esoteric and occult Orders later on).