Early 2016 I described the dealings of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) with Freemasonry. It appears that Steiner and his second wife Marie Steiner-von Sivers (1867-1948) were initiated together on 24 November 1905. In what (kind of) group I haven’t found out, but a letter to his wife of the following day survived, showing that Steiner was not impressed.
Around the time that Steiner broke with the Theosophical Society and was working on his own Anthroposophical Society, he also wanted an inner circle just as there was one within the Theosophical Society. Steiner was in contact with different people, active in a variety of esoteric organisations and he wanted a ‘filiation’ with an initiatic organisation for his own efforts. He received a charter from Theodore Reuss of the Ordo Templum Orientalis or O.T.O. The same Reuss had received permission of John Yarker to start a German branch of Yarker’s Memphis-Misraim organisation (of which Yarker had given a certificate to Helena Blavatsky as well).
It appears that Steiner was also unimpressed by both the O.T.O. and Yarker’s Memphis-Misraim, but he did accept Reuss’ Memphis-Misraim certificates up to the 96º. This brings the suggestion that the initiation might have been into that same system. Unlike Blavatsky, Steiner was looking for a real ‘filiation’, which he may have received on that November day in 1905 and for the rest he just took the honours.
Even though some authors say that Steiner was never active in any Masonic-like organisation, he is also said to have kept lecturing for his lodge and he sometimes referred to himself as a Freemason, even though Von Sivers denied his membership after his death.
Be that as it may, it seems that what Steiner was mostly after, was creating his own esoteric (or even initiatic?) group and that is what concerns us today.
In one of the many books with collections of lectures of Steiner, we can find a lot of information about this initiative of his. The collection was originally called Zur Geschichte und aus den Inhalten der erkenntniskultischen Abteilung der Esoterischen Schule 1904 bis 1914 in 1987. (‘The history and from the contents of the knowledge-cultic division of the esoteric school 1904 until 1914’). For the English version of the collection this became “Freemasonry” and Ritual Work, the collected works of Rudolf Steiner. Apparently the editors of the English version wanted to make a link to Freemasonry. Anyway:
[Steiner’s] experiment has had different names. A few of those we just ran into. “Der erkenntniskultische Abteilung” was the description chosen by the editors of the German book. The translators chose to translate this as “cognitive ritual section”. Other descriptions include “Freimaurei” (Freemasonry), F.M. (Freimaurerei), Misraim-Dienst (translated as ‘Misraim service’) and M.D. (Misraim-Dienst, but sometimes also Michael Dienst after the archangel Michael) and ‘Mystica Aeterna’.
Then finally to the topic of this little text of mine. I was under the impression that the Misraim Dienst (under whatever name) ended with Steiner’s death. Some say that he ended it himself in 1914, hence the German title of the collection. Also see below. Perhaps it/he did, but nowadays the Misraim Dienst is practiced (again) in different countries.
In Germany there appears to be a loge in Hamburg calling itself “Misraim Michael Dienst”. The website is currently down, but it was available recently. Unfortunately the website doesn’t say when this lodge started, how big it is and if there are other lodges.
But also outside Germany, there are people working with Steiner’s system.
There is a website mysticaaeterna.org. The organisation calls itself the “Rosicrucian Society of the Misraim Service” and the menu has both “Misraim Service” and “Michael’s Mass”. The group claims to have been founded in 1906 by Rudolf Steiner himself. The good looking and informative (also regarding history) website in English appears to be of an Italian group. There is no information how big the group is and if there are similar groups.
Although Steiner is said to have put the Misraim Rite to sleep in 1914, there were subsequent meetings of the Misraim Rite, including when Steiner visited Norway in 1923 when he held a meeting of the Misraim Service where it seems that he expressed his desire to ensure the ritual work continues.
The website does not say how many lodges or members it represents in the UK. It does refer to two sister organisations in Scandinavia.
The website misraim.org of the Skandinavisk Misraimforbund has been offline since early 2021. The website of the Danish federation isn’t even available on Archive.org. The Swedish website is still available, but looks very dated. Taking the British information above, it just might be that also the Swedish branch was started by Steiner himself.
Last, but not least there is the Mysteria Mystica Americana which presents itself as a Grand Lodge, but also states:
Due to a need to organize and acknowledge it’s expanding membership, the International Misraim Alliance (IMA) was formed by the Supreme Council of the Swedish Misraim Association in the early part of 2023.
This alliance does not appear to have a website. Again there is history (also some historical documents) and no information about the number of lodges or members. The website does refer to the other groups mentioned above.
As far as they say something about it, all mentioned groups are mixed gender and thus interesting for this website. Steiner always intended his esoteric group to be mixed gender and large parts of the Memphis-Misraim landscape is also mixed gender, so this is no surprise.
Some of the websites mentioned above, refer to one of the existing Memphis-Misraim organisations. Just as Steiner got his starting shot from Memphis-Misraim, some ties have remained.
When you read the rituals as printed in the mentioned book, the Misraim Dienst was/is pretty close to Freemasonry, so now I’m thinking whether or not to list these lodges on the country pages.