Order of Elect Cohens

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Order of Elect Cohens

An occult Masonic group founded by Martinees de Pasqually (ca.1710-1774) in Bordeaux, France, in 1760. The French title Rite des Élus Cohens refers to cohens, the Hebrew word for

"priests." The rituals for the order's magical invocation of spirits, with the ultimate purpose of communication with the "Active and Intelligent Cause" (i.e., God), were written by Pasqually. He drew upon Roman Catholic, astrological, and various occult texts, especially the Kabbalah.

The group appears to have had a Sovereign Tribunal at Paris in 1767 with Pasqually at its head. After the death of Pasqually in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on September 20, 1774, the order was headed by J. B. Willermoz, then residing in Lyons. The order died out at Lyons following Willermoz's death in 1815, but survived in Italy and Germany. It was later reestablished in Lyons and subsequently spread to Haiti and other islands of the Caribbean and to North America, where it survives today. The archives of the order passed to G. M. Profe Willermoz's nephew, and then to a M. Cavernier, who finally returned them to the reestablished lodge at Lyons.

In 1887 a period of reorganization and diffusion of the order began that led in 1891 to the creation of a council of 21 members who supervised the work in France, across Europe, and in the Americas.

One of Pasqually's students, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, emerged as a mystic who gained much respect in Europe and is highly revered among Martinists today. Also connected with the order in the nineteenth century was Papus (Gérard Encausse ).


Le Forestier, René. La Franc-maconnerie occultiste au XVIII siecle et l'ordre des Elus Coens. Paris: Dorbon, 1928.

McIntosh, Christopher. Éliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1974.

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Unknown Philosopher: Louis Claude de St. Martin. Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolf Steiner Publications,1970.

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Order of Elect Cohens

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