L’Ordre Martiniste After PAPUS


Mike Restivo (Sar Ignatius, Initiatèur Libre)

Among the Martinists who desired to preserve the practice of Free Initiations, not based upon Masonic prerequisites, was Victor Blanchard, who had been Deputy Grand Master to Teder. The Martinists who disapproved of the Masonic restrictions imposed in the Martinist Order, now called “of Lyons”, after the city of its headquarters, remained for a long time unorganized, albeit carrying on with the works according to the original constitution of the Order, and accepting men and women, Mason and non-Mason alike. It would be wrong to consider the situation at that time as the result of a “split” as it were. There was only one Martinist Order, but not all the members recognized the legality of the restrictions imposed by Grand Master Bricaud. Victor Blanchard was already forming the nucleus of those who were to maintain the system of Free Initiations. Jean Bricaud died on February 21, 1934, leaving his succession to Victor Blanchard. Msr. Blanchard could not accept the Grand Mastership of the Order under its Masonic structure.

Constant Chevillon was elected Grand Master of the Martinist Order of Lyons and increased the Masonic requirements imposed upon its members:

It had an outer circle in the “Collège d’Occultisme” in Paris, and an anti-chamber to the Order, the 2 lodges of Memphis-Mizraim, “La Jerusalem Egytienne” and “L’Age Nouveau”, provided the Masonic qualifications required for Martinist membership who had to progressively take degrees in Memphis-Mizraim as successive prerequisites to admitance to the Martinist degrees of Initiate and then Superior Unknown. Between 1936 and 1939, L’Ordre Martiniste de Lyon kept its lodge “Papus” open in Paris.

After refusing the Bricaud succession, Victor Blanchard assembled the Free Martinists and formed a branch of the Martinist Order which adhered to the original constitution of the Order, and disapproved of the Masonic requirements of the Martinist Order of Lyons.

In 1934, in Brussels, Belgium, in connection with a congress of non-Masonic spiritual orders, there was held an international convention of Martinists. On the 9th of August, Victor Blanchard was unanimously elected Sovereign Universal Grand Master of a new Martinist Order, by representatives from France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, North and South America, Denmark, and other European countries. The Supreme Council of the Order was constituted and it was decided to add the word “Synarchique”/“Synarchy”, to the name of the new Order to distinguish it from the Order of Lyons. On the same occasion the congress of non-Masonic spiritual orders organized itself into a federation known as “le Fédération Universelle des Ordres et Sociétés Initiatiques”/ “Universal Federation of Initiatic Orders and Societies”, known by its French initials as the “F.U.D.O.S.I.” Grand Master Blanchard became one of the first three “Imperators” of this federation.

[I do not know who were the other two, although I suspect that Harvey Spencer Lewis, Imperator of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis was an Imperator of FUDOSI. Sar Hieronymous, Grand Master of the Rose-Croix Catholique of Sar Péladan may have been the third Fudosi Imperator.]

The Martinist Order had not always been strictly organized. Lodges were often semi-independent bodies, and there were many Martinists who did not belong to any one lodge. Divisions then must be viewed as certain individuals organizing a particular aspect or tendency into Martinist practice. The preponderance of Martinists would recognize one or more of these authorities. It was not unknown for Martinists to recognize and belong to two branches of the Order.

Not all the Martinists at large who disapproved of the Masonic organization of Grand Master Chevillon were willing, however, to accept the authority of Grand Master Blanchard. One of these brothers was Augustin Chaboseau, who had been with Papus on his Supreme Council, from the beginning. From private correspondence, it would appear that Msr. Chaboseau felt that as one of the originators of the Martinist Order, he could not admit the authority of Msr. Blanchard, who was his junior in the Order. With some other Martinists, Msr. A. P. Chaboseau founded a third Martinist Order, which was called “Ordre Martiniste Traditionelle”/ “Traditional Martinist Order”, and whose first Grand Master, V. E. Michelet, also of the former Supreme Council of Papus, was soon succeeded by A. P. Chaboseau himself. Owing to the prestige of Grand Master Chaboseau’s name, this Order, well organized, developed very rapidly in France, while the Martinist Order and Synarchy remained dominant in other countries, particularly Switerland and Belgium.

By 1939, the Traditional Martinist Order was by far the bigger of the non-Masonic Martinist Orders. Furthermore, Grand Master Blanchard became disapproving of the mail order Initiations of AMORC and resigned as an Imperator of the FUDOSI. He was replaced by Grand Master Chaboseau.

Not to be out done, the Martinist Order of Lyons formed a “Confederation of Initiates” with the Rosicurcian Order of R. S. Clymer, [himself an S.I. in the Martinist Order of Papus, through Inspectrix-General Margaret Peeke, who assumed the position of American Legate of the Martinist Order, after the resignation of Dr. Edouard Blitz], in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. [A reproduction of his S. I. Certificate, dated 1903, is found in Ravalette the Rosicrucian’s Story, published by the Philosophical Publishing Company, Beverly Hall, Quakertown, Pa., which serves as the publication organization of his Order. It is interesting to note that although the name of his initiator is given only by initials, it is indicated that it was a woman. The “Quakertown Rosicrucians” did not pursue any Martinist work or affiliations.]

With the outbreak of World War II and the invasion of France and Belgium, came Nazi persecution for the Martinist Orders. In 1940, in all the territories occupied by German forces, secret societies were prohibited, by the Nazis. Although in as yet unoccupied France, the Vichy government issued a decree dissolving all Masonic and secret socities. With the occupation of the remainder of France, the persecutions increased. On Apr. 23, 1944, Constant Chevillon was assassinated as he answered the door to his home by the so-called “French Militia”, which was an organization of French Nazis organized under the German Gestapo.

After the War, in 1946, esoteric societies re-organized themselves and continued their work. Henri Dupont was now Grand Master of the Martinist Order of Lyons. Grand Master Blanchard was still alive, but the Martinist Order and Synarchy did not resume activity in France [until over 50 years later in Bordeaux, through an autonomous Canadian branch of the Martinist Order and Synarchy.] The Martinist Order and Synarchy survived in Switzerland during and after the War. In 1939, Grand Master Chaboseau of the Traditional Martinist Order had authorized the creation of an American Jurisdiction of the Order under the authority of Regional Legate, Ralph Lewis, designated S.I. IV. [This distinction is equivalent to Initiateur Libre or Free Initiator.] by P. A. Chaboseau and Georges Lagrèze, his Deputy Grand Master. [ Msr. Lagrèze was formerly a Grand Officer in the Martinist Order and Synarchy. I do not know if he resigned the former for the latter, or maintained dual office in the respective Orders. Several European Martinist successions flow through Lagrèze.] Grand Master Lewis succeeded his father as Imperator of AMORC.

In 1946, Grand Master A. P. Chaboseau died. The succession, left to his son, Jean, had to be confirmed by the Supreme Council of the Traditional Martinist Order. Jean did not receive the necessary vote of approval, whereupon he resigned and dissolved the Order in 1947. [He did not have the authority to dissolve the Order as he had not been confirmed as Grand Master. The American Jurisdiction continues to this day under the auspices of AMORC.]

Owing to differences of opinion as to the appropriateness of the self-initiation methods of AMORC, the constituent organizations of the FUDOSI resigned from it and the body itself was dissolved in 1951. The Traditional Martinist Order exists now only under jurisdictions of AMORC, not as an independent Order. Researchers are commended to obtain a copy of Martinist Documents , published by AMORC, Rosicrucian Park, San Jose, California, U.S.A., for more details about that Order’s involvement in modern Martinist history.

Soon after the Second World War of 1939-1945, a few Martinists holding the C.B.C.S. grades of the Scottish Rectified Rite decided to revive the Willermoz kind of Martinism (i.e. Willermozism). Thus was born L’Ordre Martiniste des Elus-Cohen”/ “Martinist Order of the Elect Priests”, which operates in the usual three degrees of Martinism ( a la Papus) and which forms the antechamber of the operative Order re-activated under the name of “Ordre des Chevaliers-Macons Elus-Cohen de L’Univers”/ “Order of Knight-Masons Elect Priests of the Universe” as in the time of Martinez de Pasquales. It was founded by Grand Master Sar Aurifer, who, although retired, is still living in France.

After the dissolution of the Traditional Martinist Order, there were, mostly in France, a large number of unaffiliated Martinists. It is then that the son of Papus, Dr. Philippe Encausse, whose very name was a powerful magnet to Martinists, drew together a large number of unattached Martinists and decided, with their help, to re-activate the original Ordre Martiniste according to the constitutions drafted by Papus. This Order was given a Supreme Council, whose See is in Paris, France. It officially became active in 1951 and by 1960 became the largest of the Martinist Orders.

On March 14, 1953, Grand Master Victor Blanchard died in Paris, aged 75. [Why then, did not the son of Papus re-activate the Martinist Order and Synarchy in France, which continued to conserve the original constitution of L’Ordre Martiniste, instead of founding his own organization?] Under the pseudonym of Paul Yésir, Victor Blanchard had directed the “Eglise Gnostique Universelle”/ “Universal Gnostic Church”, of which he was the last representative. He was a Christian Mystic, a man with high ideals.

Dr. Edouard Bertholet [i.e. Sar Alkmaion] of Switzerland succeeded Victor Blanchard as Grand Master of the Martinist Order and Synarchy. Upon Dr. Bertholet’s death [date ?], his son decided not to continue as head of the Order and it became dormant in Switzerland, at least.

In 1958, Grand Master Sar Gulion received a charter from Swiss Grand Master, Dr. Bertholet , to found and direct lodges in England of the Martinist Order and Synarchy. In the same year, Sar Sendivogius became Provincial Delegate for Canada. In 1960, the Martinist Order and Synarchy in Great Britain joined the Union of Martinist Orders headquatered in Paris, France.

Here ends the general history, albeit incomplete, as I have it. Martinists are invited to submit their addenda with respect to their affiliations to the present date to help complete the history.

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