Since time immemorial, there has existed a tradition, or rather a perspective on tradition called esotericism.  The term derives from the Greek esôterikos, meaning ‘that which is inward’ and denotes both that which is sought within, as well as the secret society of initiates. This inner path is that of the mystics, who seek enlightenment and unity with their divine source. Not in the outside world, but within themselves. All religions, both east and west, contain an inner core where matters of mysticism are revered as the true spirit of religious life.

The western esoteric tradition, of which martinism is a vital part, encompasses a great wealth of currents, such as Gnosticism, Hermiticism, therugy, alchemy and kabbalah.

The martinist tradition have three founders who all expounded on the same teaching. Common to them all was their root in a western esoteric tradition of gnosis, where man must redeem himself from that which hinders him from enlightenment, self-knowledge and liberty: what we call the process of Reintegration.

This tradition have taken several forms until it became reunited under one banner in one order: Ordre Reaux Croix.

In the course of 250 years, martinism has flown like a branching river throughout European thinking, philosophy, art and esotericism, and inspired what its founder Martinez de Pasqually called the man of desire to defy the cold void of the world, and rekindle a fire where darkness has struck its roots.


The oldest origin of the Martinist Tradition is uncertain, but it was first organized as an Order in France in 1767:  Ordre des Elus Cöen – The Order of the Elect Priests.

The founder of the tradition was Martinez de Pasqually, and his two students Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and Jean-Baptiste Willermoz. Due to the similarity of the names of the initial two, the tradition eventually was nickname ‘martinism’ by the public.

During the first century of the tradition, theses two students gave rise to two further movements. Willermoz founded Ordre de Chevaliers  Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte – The Order of the Knights Beneficient of the Holy City (often called the Scottish Rectified Rite), and Saint-Martin gave rise to the Voie Cardiaque – The Way of the Heart.

These three traditions were all founded on the same teachings, but conveyed them through different systems of initiations and instructions, adapted to different recipients and their needs. Unique for all of them in their time, was that they were open for both men and women. As orders they were independent, but also worked in close relation to one another.

Due to martinism’s core conviction of the inviolable sanctity of the individual, equality of mankind and our right to seek spiritual development, they were persecuted during the French and Russian revolutions as well as the Second World War. Several martinists were sent to concentration camps, or executed.

Martinez de Pasqually

Martinez de Pasqually

Pasqually was originally a grenadier of Spanish descent, born in Grenoble, France sometime between 1710 and 1727.

This was a time when Catholicism was the only legal religion in France, and the vast social differences of his time were paving way not only for the bloody revolution, but also the age of enlightenment that were to follow it.

His father was originally from Alicante, and the family was rumored to have been in the service of the Inquisition. 

The sources of his teachings remain a mystery, but we know that his father was a freemason, and according to a masonic charter Pasqually presented to the French Grand Lodge, he was given the authority of Deputy Grand Master with the rights to found and govern his own lodges from his father. He in turn had received it from the jacobite prince Charles Edward Stuart, dated 1738. –The same year that Pope Clement XII published his bull ‘ In Eminenti’ forbidding all Catholics to become freemasons. This rule was reconfirmed in 1983 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI.

Pasquallys father initiated his son as a freemason, and according to the authority of the charter, transferred the same rights to his son.

In some of his letters, Pasqually writes that besides his father, he was also instructed by a person whom he calls his older teacher, but is never named also instructed him.

While this is not unlikely, it cannot currently be proven. We can, however, see what he himself was studying:

In his library was found many very rare works on early Christianity, especially regarding Gnosticism, but also Islamic alchemical works and texts on classical hermetic and Hellenistic philosophy. The curriculum he prescribed his students was overwhelming, and those who sought ‘the full esoteric comprehension’ of the first degree of his order, needed to be familiar with the works of Severinus Boëthius, Pythagoras, Celsus, Platon, Averroes, Augustin, Hieronymus, Origen, Ambrosius, Gregor of Nazianz, Athanasius, Basilius, Hilarius, Rabanus, Bede, St. John, Moses, Socrates and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.” One of the most worn out books he left behind was the first French translation of Corpus Hermeticum, the core work of Hermeticism. His library also contained numerous rare works on therugy and magic from the middle ages and the renaissance.

In a letter from the martinist Rostro (Ernst Friedrich Hecktor Falcke, the mayor of Hannover) written in 1779,  he writes that Pasqually was initiated in a mystery-tradition that his family had been in possession of for over 300 years, and that Pasquallys ancestors had found in the time they worked for the Spanish inquisition.

Whether this is true is difficult to ascertain, but it may be a possible explanation for the comprehensive library Pasqually had inherited of extremely rare esoteric books, many of which were in the inquisitions index of prohibited and banned works.

A dedicated but disappointed freemason, he eventually founded his own secret initiatory society to transmit what he considered the primordial tradition before the machinations of the orthodox church suppressed it. He called his order the Order of Mason Knights Elect Coens of the Universe (Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons Élus Coens de l’Univers).

His order and his teachings were concerned with the true spiritual origin of Mankind as a vessel for the Divine Light, and the mystical and magical path

This was to be attained by a series of stages where the initiate underwent a series of stages where he both were instructed, consecrated and worked a theurgical practice towards his own spiritual and bodily purification. These were and are the most important tools for the Elus Coënn in the quest for gnosis that leads from material ignorance to spiritual enlightenment.

Since then our teachings have been transmitted through three different paths; in its original form through the ceremonial order of the Elus Cohens, and secondly as an order of moral and spiritual chivalry in the C.·.B.·.C.·.S.·. – the Order Of Beneficient Knights of the Holy City.


Jean-Baptiste Willermoz

Jean-Baptiste Willermoz

The original creator of the ‘Ordre de Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte’ – or C.·.B.·.C.·.S.·. was Jean Baptiste Willermoz (1730 – 1824), close friend and student of Martinez de Pasqually:

When Pasqually died in 1774, the teachings of his master were at risk of being lost, and Willermoz then decided to use a Masonic body as a vehicle for the inner and secret teachings of the Order of Elus Cohens.

Willermoz was a pragmatic person, a brilliant esoteric scholar and innovator.

His work as a freemason is of fundamental impact and erudition, but has sadly been forgotten over the centuries. But history portrays him a

s an ardent knight of truth fighting to rectify the decadence of secret societies and the lack of sincere desire for enlightenment within them.

The aim of the C.’.B.’.C.’.S.’. is enable the Chevalieres to follow the Imitation of Christ, and adopt a life of moral chivalry as the basis of all spiritual attainment. Furthering the personal work of rebuilding what once was lost, the work of the Knights and the Dames of the order is to manifest the charitable teachings of martinism in the world through beneficent and unselfish deeds.

C.’.B.’.C.’.S.’. is thus the chivalric branch of the martinist tradition, the poor knights of Christ.



Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin

Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin

Saint-Martin, better known as the ‘Unknown Philosopher’, is the last of the three founders of what history have come to call Martinism. Beeing the most well known of them, the Tradition have come to be reffered to as ‘Martinism’ in his wake.

Louis Claude de St Martin was born in a noble family in Amboise, France, on the 18th January in 1743. He became one of Martinez de Pasqually’s students in the Elus Cohen, and also his close friend and secretary. Together with his life-long friend Willermoz, he went his own way in deepening the way of his Master, and sought to establish a silent and mystic path of spiritual enlightenment. -Not through theurgy or ritual, but through the inner “Way of the Heart.”

He began to instruct students in his own teachings, which were mainly influenced by Pasqually’s doctrine, but later on also inspired by the writings of the Christian mystic Jacob Boehme. He travelled all over europe, and wrote an extensive amount of litterature, always under his nom-de-plume ‘The Unknown Philosopher’ – teaching that silence and anonymity is the true way of the Adept nurturing the Sacred Fire.

St Martin passed away on the 13th October, 1803, leaving behind a great number of students spread across Europe, passing on the te

achings through the centuries, through small circles, and intimate initiations betwen student and master.

Voie Cardiaque – The Way of the Heart is thus mystical and contemplative branch of the ORC, from whose roots the two other branches of the Order spring.

The Summit of these teachings is the initiation Saint-Martin describes thus:

“The only initiation which I advocate and which I look for with all the ardor of my Soul, is that by which we are able to enter into the Heart of God within us, and there make an Indissoluble Marriage, which makes us the Friend, the Brother and Spouse of the Repairer … there is no other way to arrive at this Holy Initiation than for us to delve more and more into the depth of our Soul and to not let go of the prize until we have succeeded in liberating its lively and vivifying origin.”


Modern Times

In the post-war era, martinists therefore found themselves scattered and isolated in different parts of the world, often with incomplete rituals, diluted instructions and a lacking knowledge of both the original teachings of the traditions and each other. Much of the teachings was considered lost. Remaining lodges and temples that had lost contact was assumed to be disbanded.

Several of them eventually reorganized themselves as independent new orders, many of which exist today. Others merged when the war was over, and communication across borders again became possible.

In the time they were apart, however, differences arose regarding their organization, what they based their system on and how it was taught.

Attempts to preserve and restore the tradition had led to errors and misconceptions breaking away from the core values of the original martinism, such as the exclusion of women, the introduction of populist religious ideas, political guidelines, pseudo-science and prejudice against the original teachings and its rituals.



The Foundation of Ordre Reaux Croix

In 2002 Norwegian martinists who were custodians and lineage-holders of the three traditions decided to reunite them under one banner, in one order, where they were to be restored to their original form, and so become available in a united organisation, available to both men and women alike.

Ordre Reaux Croix was founded to return to the source of the tradition: the teachings of the three Masters who established it.

O.·.R.·.C.·. is therefore a custodian of all the three branches, and their derivatives: Elus Coën, Chevaliers Bienfaisantes de la Cité Sainte – C.·.B.·.C.·.S.·. and Voie Cardiaque.

During its first decade, the Order has collected French, German and Russian manuscripts and rituals. Several of these was believed to be lost, or was unknown all together. In this way the tradition have meticulously been restored and re-actualized for our times.

Martinism is timeless, the order is not. As the original is kept as it was, it needs to continually be interpreted and reinterpreted into the times we live in. New studies, translations and publication of martinist works are therefore a key pursuit of the Order.

The portal to what we perceive as the original martinism begins for everyone in the youngest of the traditions, Voie Cardiaque –The Way of the Heart, where we study mysticism, meditation, contemplation, inner alchemy and simple theurgy.

After having attained the Second degree, the Initiate may apply to be received in the two older traditions. Here the work is deepened with theurgy in the Elus Coën, or esoteric philosophy, ethics and chivalry in the C.·.B.·.C.·.S.·.

The Sovereign Council of the Order presides in Norway, where the Grand Temple administer other temples and circles.

The Ordre Reaux Croix today counts about 200 members, and is present in Norway, Sweden, Canada, Greece, Argentina, Brazil, the United States and England.

Martinists from other orders are welcome to visit us and participate in our meetings. Those who may want to join our order can do so while of course retaining their previous associations.

To learn more, continue reading about the Ordre Reaux Croix, and how one may seek initiation into a martinist order.