The Martinist Order
The Martinist Order is a formalisation of the esoteric philosophy of Martinism within a Masonic structure, with the incorporation of Occult and Rosicrucian ideas and practices brought in via the Elect Cohen system.
Martinism grew out of the philosophy of the Elect Cohen Occultists. Louis-Claude De Saint-Martin (writing as The Unknown Philosopher) was a former Elect Cohen who declared himself the greatest of these self declared Enlightened Ones. However in the 1770s he rejected their Magical rites for induced Gnostic states, though retained an interest in Spiritualism and Mesmerism, he also adopted and preached the philosophy of Boehme and Swedenborg (who had also been a great influence on William Blake), weaving them into his own eclectic Mystical system, which later became known as Martinism.
From this evolved an almost entirely Mystical Philosophy, based on Meditation, which St Martin called the Way of the Heart, though the Spiritualist elements were also retained by many. It was a creed held informally by many individuals particularly within the Roman Catholic Church, to which St Martin was always attached, despite being held in suspicion by its leaders. It naturally also had an appeal to esoteric Freemasons schooled in the Elect Cohen system.
Some have claimed St Martin founded an Order of Initiates, but this seems unlikely, however some of his disciples did organise themselves into an informal network structured on initiations it seems.
St Martin and many of his followers were supporters of the French Revolution, regarding it as a sign of the 'Last Days' mentioned in the Bible. However he fell initially foul of the Jacobins and declared his preference for a radical theocracy to secular government.
The Martinist Order
The disciples of Saint-Martin spread the Doctrine of the Unknown Philosopher in France, Germany, Denmark and above all in Russia. It was through one of them, Henri Delaage, that in 1880 an Occultist and Medical Doctor, Gerard Encausse (Later to be known as Papus), became acquainted with the doctrines of Saint-Martin and decided to become their champion. For this purpose, in 1884, together with some of his associates, he established a Mystical Order which he called the Ordre Martiniste or the Martinist Order.
The founding of the Order came about when Encausse met August Chaboseau in 1884. They discovered that they had both apparently received Martinist initiation through two different chains of succession which linked back to Saint-Martin and his original disciples. Papus claimed to have come into the possession of the original papers of de Pasqually and to have been given authority in the Rite of Saint-Martin by his friend Henri Viscount Delaage. These men were Freemasons and so obsessed with the notion of legitimacy and initiatory succession.
The Martinist Order which Papus founded was organised as a Lodge system, which worked four degrees:
Unknown Superior (S::I::/Supèrieur Inconnu)
Unknown Superior Initiator (S::I::I::/Supèrieur Inconnu Initiateur)(Lodge/Heptad Master).
Of these, the first two introduce the Candidate to key Martinist concepts, whilst the third supposedly confers the actual Initiation which Saint-Martin gave to his original disciples. Martinists generally believe that to be an authentic initiate, one must be able to show a chain of Initiatic Succession which goes back to Saint-Martin himself. However in the reformed school of Martinism, Martinist authenticity is not contingent upon acceptance or initiation into a filiation or succession of other Martinists.
The mystical Christianity aspect of Martinism is emphasised by the fact that all lodges are opened by invoking Yeheshuah i.e. the Tetragrammaton with the addition of the Hebrew letter Shin, which was first suggested by Reuchlin as a Qabalistic way of spelling Jesus. Despite the Lodge structure of Martinism, the rituals themselves do not bear any resemblance to any of the symbolic degrees of Freemasonry. The rituals have their own millieu of dramatic and esoteric content: however it has been claimed that some of the rituals are derived from the Egyptian Freemasonry of Cagliostro, and perhaps the Scottish Rectified Rite of Willermoz (itself based on the Elect Cohen system overlaid on Templar Masonry).
The rituals contain elements of Martinez De Pasqually's Elect Cohen philosophy, and references to the Qabalah, in addition to principles derived from Saint-Martin's own teachings. The candidate at key points throughout the rituals is expected to answer on his or her own initiative. He or she is constantly encouraged to meditate on the symbolism presented. The rituals often rely on the element of surprise to reinforce the points they make.
Outside of the initiations many modern Martinists were Occultists and practises closer to the original Elect Cohens were reintroduced by many. This in turn became the gateway for Rosicrucian ideas and practices to be incorporated in varying degrees by some.
French Martinism (it had spread abroad quite quickly) became closely associated with the Neo-Gnostic Church becoming its official Occult wing in many ways. This was especially true in Lyon where the Universal Gnostic Church was centred. As such it was also a teaching body and might be compared to the Gnostics equivalent of the Jesuits.
Later History of the Martinist Order
After the First World War, the Order was almost extinct, with many of its leaders killed in the trenches, and the surviving members splintered into competing factions often under lesser leaders with more ego than spirit.
Many French Martinists gave credence to Karl Wilhelm Naundorff's claims to the French throne. They later joined the Synarchy movement and broke off to form the Ordre Martiniste et Synarchie (OM&S). Synarchism was essentially a form of Theocratic Fascism based, with various forms of triadic dictatorship, usually comprised of worker's organisations and capitalist corporations united in compromise, under a philosopher elite, that mediated between the two and promoted the 'spiritual and national well being', with a technocratic bureaucracy running things on a day to day basis. This group was also an early supporter of German National Socialism. This was opposed by the Martinists of Lyon who under their Grand Master Chevillon maintained close links to the Neo-Gnostic Church of Bricaud, and his doctrine of 'Spiritual Socialism'. Chevillon was assassinated by the Nazis during the occupation of France, but his followers survived underground allied to the Free France movement.
In 1931 Augustin Chaboseau had got together with Victor-Emile Michelet and Lucien Chamuel (the other two surviving members of the original Supreme Council of 1891) in Paris to bring new life to the Order that they had founded with Papus. In order to emphasise the difference they felt between the traditional Martinism they had to offer as founders of the original Martinist Order and the many new groups that had sprung up, they gave the name Ordre Martiniste Traditionnel (OMT) to their movement. Victor-Emile Michelet was elected Grand Master and Augustin Chaboseau succeeded him in 1939 until his death in 1946. Though he had received his Martinist initiations in the OMS, AMORC Imperator Ralph Maxwell Lewis was asked by the OMT in 1939 to bring Martinism to the U.S.A. and was given the necessary charters and other documents.
The Second World War was as disastrous for the Order in Europe as the first. The Nazi regime suppressed all 'occult' groups and many Martinists died in concentration camps. The OMT in Europe and its American branch, the Traditional Martinist Order (TMO) still exists on a large scale, but are reserved exclusively for members of AMORC. Martinism is now fast growing in popularity and with the advent of Internet many small new orders have grown worldwide.
List of Martinist Orders
Ordre Reaux Croix (ORC), encompassing the three branches of Martinism Ordre Martiniste et Synarchique (OMS), a Synarchic order.
Ordre Martiniste Opératif (OMO)
Traditional Martinist Order (TMO), which operates under the aegis of AMORC. This has attracted controversy from other Martinist groups, as the TMO purports to offer a Self-initiation into Martinism correspondence course. This is criticised by conservative Martinists on the grounds that traditionally, one can only receive the true Martinist initiation in person from an initiator who has a chain of succession linking back to Saint-Martin.
Ordre Martiniste de Papus (OM), started by Papus' son Philippe Encausse.
Ordre Martiniste des Pays-Bas (OMPB), started by Maurice Warnon, with the approval of Philippe Encausse for Dutch Martinists who were uncomfortable when the Gnostic Church was chosen as official church of the French Martinist Order.
British Martinist Order (BMO), which cooperates with Gary L. Stewart's Neo-Templar Order Militia Crucifera Evangelica (OMCE)
Rose Croix Martinist Order (R+CMO), which claims to offer the fourth Martinist degree and concentrates on Rosicrucian theurgy.
Ancient Martinist Order (AMO), which is an attempt to unify a number of Martinist Orders under one structure.
Martinist Order of Unknown Philosophers (MOUP), which follows the Martinist traditions of the Chevillon-Chambellant lineage.
Society of Intitiates or Société des Initiés is a loosely organized assembly of S:I: (Free Initiators) who gather together for fellowship and the promotion of the original ideals of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin.
Martinist Order of the Knights of Christ or Ordre Martiniste Des Chevaliers Du Christ, Catholic Martinism
The Hermetic Order of Martinists (HOM), which is an Order only open to Master Masons in SRIA
Rose†Croix Martinist Order (Ontario, Canada) Reformed Martinism under Grand Master Mike Restivo I::L::