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"...this paper’s subject matter deals with an essentially obscure sector of recent Masonic history. On no account should the reader infer that during the period 1870-85 there was ever a widespread interest within the Craft in the activities of Mackenzie, Irwin & Co., the proprietors of a 'manufactory, mint or studio of Degrees'. "


Theodor Reuss
Irregular Freemasonry in Germany, 1900-23

By Bro. Ellic Howe

(16 February 1978)

IN ORDER TO introduce Theodor Reuss we can do no better than to quote what his erstwhile but now disillusioned friend August Weinholtz wrote about him in the French masonic periodical L'Acacia in 1907:

This man’s cleverness and extraordinary activities, his sophistries, his knowledge of languages, his ability to play no matter what role, make him a real international menace. In some respects he reminds one of Cagliostro, the most brilliant of all masonic charlatans, who successfully contrived to dupe his contemporaries ... Reuss uses more up to date methods to make people believe in his connections with powerful masonic bodies and, in accordance with the spirit of our age, places sexuality in the foreground ... From a journalistic point of view Reuss is rather an interesting figure. In him we encounter the kind of adventurer portrayed by 17th- and 18th-century writers. But he is a child of our time and social conditions. What is lamentable is that at the threshold of the 20th century it is necessary for the masonic world to be warned anew against a Cagliostro, also that there are men who publicly dare to defend such a person.1 .
It is necessary to explain why the authors of this paper decided to investigate Reuss. In relation to the history of ideas we have both specialized in the study of so-called 'underground movements', i.e. the multifarious sects which have proliferated in Europe since the era of the Renaissance. In the case of Reuss we were aware that he had been active as a promoter of irregular or pseudo-masonic rites in Germany during the early 1900s, also that vestigial survivals of some of his foundations still exist today in Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain and the United States of America. Reuss, however, cannot be easily fitted into any of the sectarian patterns with which we have become increasingly familiar. His fields of activity were so varied that we cannot identify him as a typical promoter of irregular masonic rites, typical member of revolutionary socialist circles (in London during the 1880s), typical concert promoter, Prussian police spy, journalist, occultist, protagonist of women’s liberation, gnostic 'Bishop' and so on. There would be no very urgent reason for spending time examining Reuss’s career except for the fact that there are a fair number of references to his activities in masonic literature and that many of them are inaccurate, so a biographical sketch may not be superfluous. It remains to add that the text printed below is a consideration of a book-length preliminary study and many details have been omitted.

2. EARLY YEARS, 1855-85

Albert Karl Theodor Reuss, the son of Franz Xaver Reuss, an inn-keeper, was born at Augsburg on 28 June 1855. He was educated locally and attended a school which equipped youngsters for modest careers in commerce. For a period after 1872 (at. 17) he was possibly employed in a druggist’s shop. He was in London three months after his 21st birthday in 1876 and was initiated on 8 November 1876 in the Pilgrim Lodge No. 238. Its members were of exclusively German origin and, then as now, it worked in the German language. According to the minute book he was a 'businessman from Augsburg'. He was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on 8 May 1877 and raised on 9 January 1878. No further attendances at lodge meetings are recorded and he ceased to be a member on 1 October 1880 when he was excluded, probably because he had not paid his subscription. It is possible that he had been proposed for membership by Heinrich Klein, a dealer in sheet music at 3 High Holbom, who had become a joining member in 1872 and was Director of Ceremonies in 1872-3. He was to become involved in Reuss’s later masonic activities.

In his youth Reuss must have had a reasonably good bass voice. He claimed to have met Richard Wagner for the first time in 1873 (at 18).2 . He was a professional singer, mainly in Germany, during the early 1880s. He claimed to have taken part in Angelo Neumann’s English tour in 1882 and to have sung the role of the god Donner in Das Rheingold and to have subsequently performed at Amsterdam, Munich and Quedlinburg. Reuss wrote that he began his career under the auspices of the late Richard Wagner, who selected him while still a student to take part in the first performance of Parsifal at Bayreuth [in 1882]'.3 . He may have sung in the chorus. He was in London again early in 1885 and active both as a singer and a journalist. He now appears on a curious political stage.


William Morris together with Edward Avering and his common law wife Eleanor (Karl Marx’s daughter "Tussy') broke away from the Social Democratic Federation after a quarrel with H. M. Hyndman at the end of 1884 and founded the Socialist League. This was fifteen years before Keir Hardie and J. Ramsay Macdonald founded the Independent Labour Party. The League was in contact with a number of emigre German social democrats, anarchists and communists who had found asylum in London from the unwelcome attentions of the Prussian political police, Reuss, who used the pseudonym Charles Theodore, joined the Socialist League soon after he arrived in London in February or March 1885. He gained admittance by falsely stating that he was a member of the International Workers' Education Association, and to the latter by claiming that he was already a member of the Socialist League. In the Socialist League he was forthwith appointed 'Lessons Secretary' and in that capacity taught the German comrades English. Thus he cultivated the acquaintance of men who were deeply involved in the activitlc of extreme left-wing groups. He had close contacts with professed anarchists. The latter, with their connections with colleagues in Belgium who smuggled subversive literature and explosives into Germany, were naturally of particular interest to the Prussian political police.

Later, when Reuss was no longer active in the Socialist League milieu, individuals who had encountered him in 1885-6 recorded their recollections of him. Max Nettlau, for instance, recalled his 'harsh voice and hasty, pushing manner'; Josef Peukert characterized him as 'a platonic socialist, like so many liberal bourgeois', while Victor Dave wrote that he 'appeared to enjoy a sort of half-digested bourgeois culture'. Another remembered that 'in the opinion of 'most of the comrades he was a rich chap who had a lot of money and wasn't stingy when he was asked to support revolutionary propaganda'. Reuss said that his money was provided by a well-endowed wife. While he may have married in London in 1885 nothing is known about the lady. Many years later it emerged that she bore him a son. With hindsight many of his former socialist and anarchist connections had come to the conclusion that he was an unreliable person.

During 1885-6 he combined his activities in the Socialist League and International Workers' Association with his career as a singer. According to a publicity leaflet which he had printed in 1885 he appeared at a concert given by the Literary and Artistic Society at which he sang arias from the Magic Flute. He also sang at a Ballad and Operatic Concert at the St James’s Hall and the Musical Review critic predicted that he would have 'a good career in this country'. Tussey Aveling, on the other hand , had a low opinion of his artistic taste and complained bitterly about the vulgarity of the songs sung at a Socialist League concert which Reuss had organized.5 .

His journalistic career may have begun in 1885. The editor of the Suddeutsche Presse at Munich wrote to him on 3 November to say that he would soon publish his 'interesting and clear article about the state of the English political parties' and would gratefully accept further contributions.6 .

If the Musical Review critic’s assessment of Reuss’s prospects in England was sanguine, his optimisim was not shared by the colleague who reported on a recital given by Reuss and his friend Madame Sanderini at the Kurhaus at Aachen on 15 May 1886. Reuss’s advance publicity had identified him as 'the famous conductor of the Popular Wagner Concerts and basso at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London'. The local critic referred to his flat-sounding voice, his over-confident entrance and his peeved expression 'which seemed to express his unfulfilled expectation of fat financial receipts'. The writer advised him to seek his further fortune on the other side of the English Channel. Madame Sanderini’s voice was described as being past its best. His conclusion was that 'the pair have little hope of enhancing the reputation of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Germany'.7 .

When Reuss was in London again a few days later he learned that, at a meeting of the Socialist League held during his absence, he had been expelled from the League on the grounds that he had 'furnished information to a foreign government and the bourgeois press'. In other words, it was supposed that he was working for the Prussian political police. In this context the evidence against him was never better than circumstantial and the present writers cannot prove that he was a police spy. On 5 October 1887 the London Evening News published an article by him on the machinations of London anarchist circles which can only have confirmed suspicions which were already current. On 7 January 1888 William Morris printed an extensive list of alleged Prussian police spies in The Commonweal. Reuss was described as 'now Bismarck’s political agent on the Central News of London; contributor to the Suddeutsche Presse at Munich and the Berliner Zeitung at Berlin.'

When Reuss realized that the quality of his voice would not qualify him to pursue a career as a singer he turned to a combination of journalism and managerial and publicity activities in the theatrical and operatic worlds in order to earn a living. He seems to have remained in London until 1889 when he moved to Berlin in his capacity as the Central News agency’s representative there. This connection lasted until 1897. He also represented the London Daily Chronicle at Berlin. However, he was in London from time to time. For instance in 1891 he devised and produced the 'Germania' feature at the Earls Court Exhibition. This involved tableaux vivants illustrating scenes from German history and required a cast of six hundred and a hundred animals. He was present in a journalistic capacity at the Chicago International Exhibition in 1894, covered the Bayreuth Wagner season for the United Press in 1896 and was a regular chronicler of the festivals which were held at Friedrichsruh in celebration of Bismarck’s birthday after 1894. He reported on the Imperial Manoeuvres for a number of years after 1896 and in the spring of 1897 went to Greece and Turkey on behalf of the Berlin Das Kleine journal to report on the current hostilities between those countries. Thus on 23 February 1898 the Bavarian Minister in Berlin wrote to inform him that H.R.H. the Prince Regent of Bavaria had no objection to his accepting and wearing the ’silver war medal awarded to you by His Majesty the Sultan as a memento of the Turkish Greek campaign'. In 1902 Reuss described himself as a 'Knight of the Imperial Ottoman Medjidie Order.'8 .

Reuss’s first known literary production was published in 1887. This was an eight-page pamphlet with the title The Matrimonial Question from an Anarchistic Point of View. 9 . According to Reuss: 'With the reorganisation of society, with the social revolution, with the establishment of communism, which we advocate, woman will be really free and man’s social equal.' More than half of this brief text consists of a literal translation from a chapter in Max Nordau’s The Conventional Lies of our Civilisation, which was a recent best-seller in Germany.

While we know a fair amount about Reuss’s life between November 1876, when he was initiated in the Pilgrim Lodge, and his encounter with Leopold Engel in Berlin in 1895 to which we shall immediately refer, there is no evidence which points to any interest in Freemasonry during that period of close on twenty years.


An article by Reuss on 'Pranatherapie' will be found in the June 1894 issue of the occult periodical Sphinx. It was published under the pseudonym Theodor Regens. In it he described how he had cured an old lady’s insomnia by applying his hands to her head. The article’s title suggests a familiarity with Theosophical terminology. In 1914 he told A. E. Waite that he had known Helena Petrovna Blavatsky well and had once held high office in the German branch of the Theosophical Society10 .. Again, in his pot-boiler Was ist Okkultismus und wie erlangt man okkulte Krafte? (What is Occultism and how does one develop occult powers?), published under the pseudonym Hans Merlin at Berlin in 1903, he referred to his friendship with Madame Blavatsky and mentioned that he had been present at a memorial ceremony at her house in Avenue Road a few days after her death in May 189111 . . As an 'occultist' Reuss seems to have been mainly interested in yoga and the theoretical — connections between certain chakras (nerve centres) and sexuality.

At this time during the mid-1890s he was meeting various people who were preoccupied with various aspects of occultism. They were all to become involved in his later masonic operations. One of them was Dr Karl Kellner (1850-1905), an Austrian paper chemist and industrialist who had profitably exploited a number of patents connected with paper-making processes. He was one of the few contemporary Europeans with a detailed knowledge of yoga theories and techniques and in 1896 distributed a privately-printed paper on 'Yoga: a summary of its psycho-physiological connections' to those who attended the Third International Congress for Psychology held at Munich in 1896.12 .

Reuss regarded Kellner as an Adept and in the 1912 (jubilee) number of Oriflamme wrote:

In the course of his many and extensive travels in Europe, America and the Near East, Bro. Kellner came into contact with an organisation which called itself 'The Hermetic Brotherhood of Light'. The stimulus which he received through his association with this body, as well as other circumstances which cannot be mentioned here, gave rise to Bro. Kellner’s wish to found a sort of 'Academia Masonica' which would make it possible for questing brethren to become acquainted with all the existing Masonic degrees and systems. In the year 1895 Bro. Kellner had long discussions with Bro. Reuss in Berlin about how this idea of his could be realised. In the course of talks with Bro. Reuss he abandoned the proposed title 'Academia Masonica' and produced reasons and documents for the adoption of the name 'Oriental Templars'. At that time in 1895 these deliberations did not lead to any positive result because Bro. Reuss was then busy with his revived Order of the Illuminati and Bro. Kellner had no sympathy for this organisation or for the people who were active in it with Bro. Kellner.
So there was Dr Kellner wanting to found 'a sort of "Academia Masonica" '. According to the only published record of his alleged membership of the Craft he was initiated in the Humanitas Lodge at Neuhausl in Austria. Recent enquiries have revealed that this lodge cannot be traced. He called himself 'Herr Doktor Kellner' but we have not been able to establish when and where he obtained his doctorate. No academic title is mentioned in the Osterreichisches Biographisches Lexikon, 1815-1950 (1965).

In our opinion it would be a waste of time to try to investigate the importance or otherwise of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light. Nor is it greatly significant that Reuss claimed to have talked about 'Oriental Templars' as early as 1895. However, we must take note of the fact that he was 'then busy with his revived Order of the Illuminati', also that Dr Kellner had no use for the Order or the people who were then associated with Reuss.

Adam Weishaupt’s original Order of the Illuminati — it was not masonic although it infiltrated Freemasonry — had been banned in Bavaria in 1784. Reuss claimed in 1914 that he had actually revived the Order at Munich in 1880 but nothing is known about this.13 . Now we discover that he was repeating the experiment at Berlin in 1895. There are no contemporary documents but we can identify three of Reuss’s contemporary associates: August Weinholtz, Max Rahn and Leopold Engel. All of them were occultists and according to Reuss it was Engel whom Dr Kellner particularly disliked.

Weinboltz and Rahn were both at Berlin; Engel lived at Dresden. Rahn had a job at the Borse (stock exchange) and Weinholtz owned a business which supplied equipment for horse drawn carriages. Engel was an itinerant actor who practised hypnotism and alleged naturopathic healing on the side.

In 1896 they were prominent members of the Verband Deutscher Okkultisten (League of German Occultists). Rahn and Engel were its joint secretaries and Weinholtz its treasurer14 . Rahn and Weinholtz were respectively the editor and publisher of the periodical Die Ubersinnliche Welt (The Supernatural World) which was mainly concerned with alleged psychic phenomena, animal magnetism and similar subjects. In his turn Leopold Engel edited and published a tedious little periodical, Das Wort (No. I, 1894), which reflected its proprietor’s vague esoteric preoccupations. Finally, in 1897-8 Rahn and Engel edited and published an 'International Directory of Seekers after Truth' for the benefit of the occult fraternity.


Leopold Engel was born at St Petersburg on 19 April 1858. His father, Karl Dietrich Engel (1824-1913) was a violinist and in 1846 became Konzertmeister (leader) of the orchestra of the Imperial Russian Theatre. When he returned to Germany he eventually settled at Dresden and wrote extensively on the Faust legend. More importantly in the present context he was a follower of Jakob Lorber (1800-64), also a musician, who 'heard voices' and accordingly produced his own Gospel according to St. John in ten volumes and similar inspirational works by a process of automatic writing. In 1891 Leopold Engel heard an inner voice which commanded him to go to his desk and write and accordingly recorded the text of an eleventh volume. Many years later (in 1922) he was to commemorate his own father’s utterances from beyond the grave but forty-four pages rather than eleven volumes were sufficient for this purpose. 15 .


Reuss claimed that he first met Leopold Engel in 1895, the year in which he revived his Order of the Illuminati at Berlin, and that Engel joined the Order on 9 November 1896. But then 'in 1897 Engel founded his own Order of the Illuminati at Dresden but it was united with my Order in 1899'.16 . It is unlikely that the Reuss-Engel 'Illuminati' managed to recruit many members so in order to make the Order more attractive its chiefs resolved to give it a masonic complexion. With the exception of Reuss there is no evidence that any of those concerned had ever been initiated in a regular freemasons' lodge. Indeed, Reuss himself does not appear to have been involved in any regular masonic activity since he had joined the Pilgrim Lodge in London in 1876.

Thus on 12 March 1901 'the Illuminati Theodor Reuss, Leopold Engel, August Weinholtz, Max Rahn and Siegmund Miller, who were joined by Max Heilbronner and Georg Gierloff ' met at Reuss’s home in the Belle Alliancestrasse at Berlin 'and resolved to re-open the (Ludwig) Lodge which had been founded at Munich in 1880'.17 . According to the minutes the dormant Ludwig Lodge was 'ancient and accepted', which infers an ignorance of masonic terminology. In any event, whatever the Ludwig Lodge at Munich may or may not have been, it was certainly never regular. The following officers were then unanimously elected.
Master: Theodor Reuss ('initiated in the Pilgrim Lodge, London, on 9 November 1876').
Senior Warden: August Weinholtz ('of Germania Lodge No. I' which cannot be identified in Bro. Ernst-Gunther Geppert’s Stammbuch der Freimaurer-Logen Deutschlands 1737-1972 (1974)).
Junior Warden: Max Rahn.
Senior Deacon: Leopold Engel ('Orient St Petersburg'! Since Engel appears to have returned from Russia when Leopold was still a boy this was an extraordinary claim. In 1914 Reuss claimed that he himself made Leopold Engel a freemason).
Junior Deacon:Georg Gierloff (Reuss’s future brother-in-law. He married Gierloff’s sister a few months later).
Treasurer: Max Heilbronner (described as 'Orient Paris', whatever that may mean).
Since it appeared necessary to have a warrant the brethren had one printed by Seydel & Co., at Berlin. It was issued by the Order of the Illuminati and referred to the Order’s specific authority to form masonic lodges. Reuss was now accorded the sole right to found and consecrate masonic lodges according to the Order’s 'lodge regulations'. All masonic documents were to be signed and sealed at the Order’s office at Dresden. For some unknown reason this document was backdated to 1 January 1900.

There was yet another warrant or its equivalent. According to Leopold Engel it had been given to Adam Weishaupt when the latter was at Regensburg on 19 November 1786 by 'the Prince of Rose-Croix Bro. Louis-Gabriel Lebauche of Bazeille, near Sedan. It had always been in the possession of Illuminati and is now in the custody of the Ludwig Lodge.'18 .

The foundation of the Ludwig Lodge was duly announced in the Rahn-Weinholtz periodical Die Ubersinnliche Welt, where it was stated that 'the Order of the Illuminati founds and warrants masonic lodges. However, only master masons can be accepted in the high degrees or found freemasons' lodges.... The Order has close connections with freemasons in France, England and America.' It was also emphasized that the lodge was masonically regular and worked a recognized ritual based upon an old and genuine English exemplar. Apart from the three craft degrees there was also a fourth St Andrew’s degree. 'Master masons who are in possession of the St Andrew’s degree and wish to pursue occult studies can be received into the Rosicrucian degree...'

The brethren soon began to hear objections that the Ludwig Lodge was nothing more than an offshoot of the Order of the Illuminati and not masonic'. A solution was easily found. On 3 July 1901 the lodge ceased to have any official connection with the Order.19 .

In the meantime Reuss had fished around and netted some additional lodges so that by the end of 1901 in additional to the Ludwig Lodge his new 'Obedience' included:

Adam zur Weisheit (Dresden)
Phonix zur Wahreit (Hamburg)
Zur hellen Morgenrote (Kattowirz.)
Zur aufbluhenden Rose der Bestandigkeit (Zittau)
Katharine zum stehenden Lowen (Rudolstadt)
None of them was recognized by any of the regular German Grand Lodges. The Hamburg and Kattowitz lodges had previously been affiliated to the Allgemeine Burgerloge at Berlin. The latter was a 'pseudo Grand Lodge' operated at Berlin by O. Hemfler, a bookseller who sold masonic pins and badges to the gullible. Some of the ABL lodges only had one or two members.20 .


Reuss soon realized that the Grosse Freimaurer Loge fur Deutschland would never be recognized by the old established German Grand Lodges. However, it was supposed that the new Grand Lodge’s position would be stronger if it could claim affiliation with a masonic body which was not considered as irregular. The necessary link was contrived in a curiously oblique manner. At an unknown date in 1901 he learned that Dr Gerard Encausse who, under the pseudonym 'Papus', was the most prominent French occultist, had received permission from England to work the Rite of Swedenborg in France. Encausse was the head of the Martinist Order which was not masonic. Nor was he a regular freemason. Indeed the French masonic authorities regarded him with suspicion.

Encausse’s authority to establish the Rite of Swedenborg in France derived from John Yarker (1833-1913) of Manchester, who had imported it from Canada in 187621 . .. It has been generally supposed that Yarker conducted his various masonic enterprises — of these the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim was the most notorious — for his own financial benefit. The available information suggests that this theory is incorrect. He was merely an irrascible eccentric who liked to run his own show. The United Grand Lodge of England could hardly object if he chose to call himself Grand Master of this or that because he was careful never to infringe the latter’s exclusive control of the Craft and Royal Arch degrees.

The Rite of Swedenborg with six degrees — the first three were never worked in any English Swedenborgian lodge — had never been popular in England. A year after Yarker received his Canadian warrant in 1876 there were ten lodges and two more were established in 1879. Lodge No. 13 ('Eri') was founded at Limerick in 1886. There were no further developments until c. 1900 when Yarker gave Encausse permission to found I.N.R.I. Lodge No. 14 at Paris. The inference is that Encausse had told Yarker that he was not a Grand Orient freemason but had failed to reveal that he had never been regularly initiated.

Reuss knew about Encausse’s Swedenborgian venture and wrote to him to ask for further information. In due course Encausse replied in an undated letter and told his T∴C∴F∴ (Tres Cher Frere) that he had been in touch with the 'Messieurs' of the Swedenborgian Rite with regard to 'representation in Berlin'. He advised Reuss to write in English to Dr William Wynn Westcott, the moribund Rite’s Supreme Grand Secretary22 . .. (A. E. Waite remarked in his 'Annus Mirabilis Redivivus' MS. diary on 10 October 1902 that Westcott 'is a man whom you may ask by chance concerning some almost nameless Rite and it will prove very shortly that he is either its British custodian or the holder of some high office therein').

So Reuss wrote to Westcott and in due course became aware that, apart from controlling the Rite of Swedenborg, Yarker was also Sovereign Grand Master of the combined Rites of Memphis and Misraim, also of the Cernau ’scottish' Rite of 33 degree. As far as Reuss was concerned these were a great deal more attractive than the Rite of Swedenborg because if he could get hold of them he would be able to offer 'high grade' Freemasonry, which was unknown in Germany. He asked Westcott to apply to Yarker for a warrant for Memphis & Mismaim, etc., but Westcott was unwilling to cooperate. While the Rites were tolerated in England the masonic establishment and, in particular, the Supreme Council 33 degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, regarded them as unwelcome aberrations. However, he was willing to help Reuss as far as the ostensibly innocuous Rite of Swedenborg was concerned.

Reuss went to London in December 1901 and saw Westcott, whom he had already met in Theosophical Society circles a decade earlier23 .. Westcott wrote to him on 31 January 1902: 'I am in correspondence with Bro. Yarker G[rand] Master on your subject and will get you what you want from him if possible soon' - meaning a warrant for the Rite of Swedenborg. However, there was a snag: ’some of your German Masons are hostile: some German Masonic journalist is trying to attack you and suggests that you want to "make Masons clandestinely" — that is underhand — he has written to an Official of the Grand Lodge of England for information.'

Anticipating the receipt of the Swedenborgian warrant Reuss and his friends thereupon dissolved the Grosse Freimaurer Loge von Deutschland because they had prospectively no further use for it. The Ludwig Lodge now became the 'Grand Mother Lodge Ludwig'.

Westcott wrote again on 14 February 1902 and implied that Yarker would allow Reuss to form a Swedenborg lodge, the Holy Grail No.15, at Berlin.

... Bro. Yarker is entirely within his rights to give you, a known Master Mason of England, a Warrant for a Lodge but hesitates to give authority for 6 Lodges, which your [Masonic periodical] Latomia says are not regular"24 .. I had got his permission to make a Prov. Grd. Lodge of Germania for you, but now he hesitates ¡ because he does not want to have half the German Masonic world condemning him — as half the English one would condemn him for the A(ntient) & P(rimitive) Rite.
A copy of the warrant, in Westcott’s handwriting, dated 21 February 1902, indicates that Reuss was now authorized to found the Swedenborg Lodge of the Holy Grail No. 15 at Berlin, 'and to found subordinate Lodges at his discretion'. According to the warrant: 'The following "Swedenborgian Lodges" in Germania to include approved Master Masons are now desirable for constitution'. In addition to 'Ludwig im O[rient] Berlin' he listed the five lodges which Reuss had already 'captured' and added that they were 'accepted under the guarantee of Bro. Theodor Reuss'.

Reuss was Provincial Grand Master and most of the 'Illuminati' already mentioned (but not Max Rahn) were appointed Grand Officers.

For good measure on 24 February 1902 Westcott also authorized Reuss to form a High Council in Germania of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, with Reuss as its Magus and Engel as Magus Delegatus Primus. The S.R. in Germania never had more than a handful of members and the High Council in London declared it extinct on 11 July 1907.

Reuss and Engel finally parted company during the summer of 1902. On 3 July, according to Reuss, the officers of the Grand Mother Lodge Ludwig resolved to expel Engel and his friend Siegmund Miller on account of certain alleged misdemeanours and they were accordingly banished.25 .

In 1906 Engel bitterly recalled his earlier association with Reuss who, he wrote, had falsely claimed that he possessed the necessary authority to revive the Order of the Illuminati and stated that he had already recruited an impressive number of worthy individuals. According to Engel it was all a sham, 'because all that was available was what second-hand booksellers could provide' and the worthy individuals only existed on paper26 .. The Order of the Illuminati continued to exist under Engel’s direction and in due course developed its own irregular Masonic affiliations.

Reuss’s periodical Oriflamme commenced publication, initially as a monthly, with the issue dated January 1902 although it cannot have been published until a month later. According to its subtitle it was then the 'Organ of the German High-grade Freemasons of the Swedenborg Rite and the Order of the Rosicrucians', i.e. the Societas Rosicruciana in Germania. The majority of the articles printed in Oriflamme are completely without interest but it is a useful although seldom complete source of information about Reuss’s activities.


Reuss soon rcalized that the Rite of Swedenborg would not be a success in Germany, probably because the rituals for its three higher degrees created as little interest as they had in England during the 1870s. Alternatively they were never translated or worked. As a Provincial Grand Master of the Rite he was now able to deal with Yarker without using Westcott as an intermediary and during the summer of 1902 applied to him for a warrant for the Rite of Memphis and Misraim.

The Rite of Memphis and Misraim was but one item in the extraordinary collection of rites upon which Yarker metaphorically sat at Manchester. Memphis and Misraim already had a long and chequered history in France and the before Yarker acquired it from a doubtful American source in 1872. In the November 1884 issue of his periodical The Kneph he announced that he had just obtained 'the authority of the Cernau Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Rite'. This news can hardly have pleased the Supreme Council 33 degree.27 .

Yarker was willing to give Reuss a warrant for the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim, also for the Cerneau (New York, 1807) version of the Ancient and Accepted Rite. In connection with his prospective 'high grade' operation Reuss recruited two gentlemen who had not previously been associated with his masonic manoeuvres in Germany. They were his old friend Heinrich Klein and Dr Franz Hartmann. In order to give them the necessary status in or about September 1902 Yarker appointed all three of them to high office in his Sovereign Sanctuary, the body which ostensibly controlled all the variegated high-grade rites in his possession. The warrant, dated 24 September, followed immediately. It authorized Reuss (as Sovereign Grand Master General), Hartmann (as Grand Administrator General) and Klein (as Grand Keeper of the Golden Book) to establish a Sovereign Sanctuary in Berlin and, indeed, to do a great many other things.

According to Reuss in the December 1902 issue of Oriflamme: 'Thus the Sovereign Sanctuary for the German Reich [i.e. for the M & M Rite] and the Grand Orient in Germany [i.e. for the Cerneau 33° Rite] is entitled to found, accept and consecrate Masonic lodges in the whole of Germany and to work the collective degrees from the first (1 degree) to the last, the degree of Grand Inspector General (33 - 95), and to accept candidates (i.e. for initiation] and advance them.' The important factor was that Reuss now claimed authority to initiate freemasons and work the craft degrees in Germany. As might be expected the German Grand Lodges who were members of the Grosslogenbund (Union of Grand Lodges) did not recognize either Reuss or his rites.

Reuss took the obligation as Grand Master General at a ceremony held at Berlin on 11 November 1902. Once again there was one of those changes of course which make this story so confusing. He announced that the Grand Mother Lodge Ludwig and its handful of associated Swedenborgian lodges had now ceased to exist. The new Sovereign Sanctuary proceeded to found new lodges but these were simply the successors of the old ones. At Berlin, however, the Lodge Zur siegenden Sonne was the former Ludwig Lodge under a new name.

Reuss was also able to report that the Sovereign Sanctuary had already exchanged representatives with various Sovereign Sanctuaries, Grand Orients, etc., in Italy, Spain, Rumania and the Argentine. A few months later he was able to add Cuba and Egypt to the list. Needless to say, none of these bodies exchanged representatives with the United Grand Lodge of England or the German Grand Lodges. In this context we encounter a curious 'Memphis and Misraim' underworld.

According to the Sovereign Sanctuary’s Constitution, published in Oriflamme (December 1902), its craft lodges were to use the Pilgrim Lodge’s by-laws and the 'Hamburg (Schroeder) ritual as adopted by the Pilgrim Lodge in 1852'.

It would be an exaggeration to suggest that there was a rush of applicants for Reuss’s motley collection of high degrees. A year after the receipt of Yarker’s warrant the total membership of the Sovereign Sanctuary’s lodges and chapters amounted to no more than 132 brethren.28 . However, at least a few of them were members of lodges which belonged to recognized German jurisdictions. Thus when August Weinholtz went to Dr Robert Gross’s thermal establishment at Bad Finneck as 'Director of the Baths' in the autumn of 1903, a certain Bro. Uhlmann, who had been initiated thirty years earlier in the Lodge Zur den drei Kleeblattern (Grosse Landesloge) acted as Deputy Master of the Lodge Zur siegenden Sonne. Dr. phil. Gustav Diercks, who was a member of a 'Three Globes' lodge, was briefly the Sovereign Sanctuary’s Grand Secretary General for Foreign Correspondence in 1903-4.29 . The list of the Sovereign Sanctuary’s Grand Officers, published in Oriflamme, December 1902, identifies the people who were then associated with Grand Master General Reuss:
Deputy Grand Commander General:Bro. Franz Hartmann, Privatgelehrter ['private scholar'], proprietor of the Ligno-sulphite works at Hallein, temporarily at Villa Maria, Florence'30 . Hartmann was one of the most prolific writers of his generation on Theosophy, magic and occultism.
Grand Keeper General of the Golden Book: Bro. Henry Klein, Proprietor of the Polyphon [gramophone] Works at Leipzig and London. (According to the London P.O. Directory for 1904 Henry Klein & Co., of 84 Oxford Street, were 'musical instrument makers, dealers and repairers; suppliers of polyphons, phonographs and all kinds of talking machines, organettes, billiard tables.') Grand Expert General: Bro. Robert Gross, physician and proprietor of the Stahlbad Finneck. (He was formerly a member of the Order of the Illuminati and a founder member of the Ludwig Lodge, Berlin in 1901. He was above all an occultist.)31 .
Grand Director of Ceremonies General: Br. Rudolf Barth, director of the municipal gas works at Rudolstadt.
Grand Treasurer General: Bro. Max Heilbronner (he was the proprietor of an antiquarian bookshop ('by Royal Appointment') at Berlin with a branch in Paris). Formerly a member of the Order of the Illuminati and a founder member of the Ludwig Lodge at Berlin.
Grand Chancellor General: Bro. Reinhold Augsburg, businessman at Berlin.
Grand Representative General: Bro. August Weinholtz (see above) and Bro. Franz Held, director of the Pomril factory at Hamburg and master of the Lodge Phonix zur Wahrheit there.
Whether there was already an 'Inner Occult Circle' at this time is not known, although it existed in 1905. Nevertheless the Sovereign Sanctuary had an official Patron in the person of Reuss’s friend Dr Karl Kellner, who was a dedicated occultist.


It was typical of Reuss’s persuasiveness that in the spring of 1904 he was able to stage-manage the alleged regularization of an unrecognized masonic body which had a far larger membership than his own. This was the Grosse Freimaurer Loge von Deutschland which had about thirty daughter lodges and 700 members. Its headquarters were at Leipzig32 ..

The GFLvD had its origins in the irregular Allgemeine Burgerloge which was founded at Berlin in 1896. A number of ABL lodges broke away in April 1899 and founded an independent ABL at Leipzig. The latter, with twenty-one lodges, changed its name to the Matthai Logenbund in July 1900. There was another change of title in July 1903 when the MLB became the GFLvD. By 1904 its aims and the work of its lodges appears to have been regular in everything but name.

In 1914 A. P. Eberhardt, the GFLvD’s Grand Master, explained why he and his colleagues had approached Reuss. There had been frequent resignations by individuals who had realized that they were not 'proper freemasons'. Reuss offered a solution. For a fee of 800 Marks on 12 May 1904 he'rectified' the Grosse Freimaurer Loge von Deutschland and twenty-nine daughter lodges with 702 members and declared them to be 'regular'. A week later he wrote to the Grosslogenbund to the effect that the Sovereign Sanctuary and Grand Orient of the United Scottish and Memphis and Misraim Rites in Germany now included thirty-five craft lodges and 845 members. This communication did not attract even an acknowledgment. However, a simple mathematical calculation indicates that Reuss’s masonic empire had previously consisted of six lodges with a total of 143 members.


In 1904 Reuss published a 32-page pamphlet with the title Historische Ausgabe der Oriflamme ('Historical Edition of the Oriflamme'). It was addressed to 'all who want to learn the truth and real facts of Masonic historical research'. His intention was to demonstrate the historical authenticity of his collection of rites on the basis of documentary evidence. We now learn of a direct connection with the original Knights Templer. In this context, according to Reuss, no documents could be published because the initiated were well aware that masonic bodies which cultivated the Templer and Rosicrucian traditions had been forbidden to make written records. 'Proofs of our connection with the Templers are available,' he wrote, 'but they are not of a documentary nature. They are only communicated to the initiated.' Finally: 'Our Order not only provided the opportunity for acquiring a knowledge of all existing masonic systems but also of the secret knowledge and cults of all ages.' He included an article on 'the Secrets of the Occult High Degrees of our Order' but did not reveal anything.

The fact that there was an inner occult group was announced in the November 1904 issue of Oriflamme.

To the Pupils of the Occult Circle

Our beloved leader Frater Karl Kellner is severely ill and hopes for his recovery are small. All the Fratres of the Occult Circle are thus asked to unite with us in their daily meditations in the wish that our leader will on this earthly plane! AUM! Vienna, 4 November 1904 E.V.

The Inner Triangle

In March 1905 it was reported that Dr Kellner was in Egypt and that his convalescence was progressing satisfactorily. However, he died at Vienna on 7 June. According to the certificate his death was due to blood poisoning but his medical advisers could not establish what caused it. Later various lurid rumours about his illness and death were circulated, e.g. that in the course of his arcane occult exercises he had attracted malignant forces33 .. Dr Franz Hartmann succeeded him as Honorary Grand Master General in October 1905.


In August 1905 Reuss intended to go to London and remain there for an apparently indefinite period. In the event his departure was delayed until 8 January 1906[34]. In view of his impending absence a number of important decisions were taken at an Extraordinary General Meeting of ’sovereign Sanctuary of the Order of Ancient Templar Freemasons of the Scottish, Memphis and Misraim Rites for the German Reich' held at Berlin on 27 August 1905. The designation 'Templar' now appears for the first time in connection with Reuss’s activities.

The main outlines of the scheme of reorganization arranged in August 1905 were roughly as follows. The Sovereign Sanctuary (i.e. Reuss) was to receive specific fees for granting the 'high degrees' but otherwise the day to day running of the Order was to be delegated to the Grand Orient of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite which had its headquarters at Hamburg and the Symbolical Grand Lodge of the Scottish Rite for Germany at Leipzig. The latter was the former Grosse Freimaurer Loge von Deutschland which Reuss had rectified in 1904.

The Hamburg organization, with Franz Held as Grand Commander General, had two subsidiary Grand Councils: one at Hamburg under Held and another at Munich under Maximilian Dotzler. The Hamburg Grand Orient was granted virtual autonomy as far as the control of four chapters and seven craft lodges were concerned. The Sovereign Sanctuary (i.e. Reuss) no longer received a capitation fee but was to charge 40 Marks for an individual member’s first 'high degree' certificate and 10 Marks for all subsequent certificates up to 300. The ratification of these new arrangements was made conditional upon the Hamburg and Munich branches' refunding certain funds which had previously been advanced by Reuss.

However, the Munich members refused to pay the 2,079 Marks which Reuss claimed was due to him. Furthermore, the heads of the Grand Councils at Hamburg and Munich (Franz Held and Maximilian Dotzler) were at loggerheads. The Hamburg branch dissolved itself in December 1905 (only four months after it was formed). Many of its members found their way into regular lodges under the Obediences of the Grand Lodge of Hamburg and the 'Old Prussian' Grosse Landesloge at Berlin. Their path in the direction of regularity had been distinctly tortuous.

In the course of winding up his affairs in Germany Reuss also had to deal with an unpleasant financial problem at Munich. When the Sovereign Sanctuary met at Berlin on 25 September 1904 it was briefly reported that a certain Bro. Hugo Hoffman had made the Order a gift of some real estate at Munich. No further information about this generous action was published until a year later. Reuss was in Munich on 4-5 September 1905 and discovered that the house which Bro. Hoffmann had so kindly presented was worth 173,000 Marks but saddled with a mortgage which would cost at least 241,000 Marks to redeem. Thus Reuss was obliged to take legal action to renounce the gift and avoid paying interest on the mortgage.


Reuss moved to London in January 1906. He was now employed by the Central Press news agency and appears to have been in charge of its German wire service. Although he scarcely acknowledged the fact in Oriflamme it is evident that his masonic operation had been a failure. Furthermore he had quarrelled with many of his followers. However, in 1906 when his masonic empire had practically ceased to exist he grandiloquently described himself as ’sovereign Grand Master General ad vitam of the United Orders of the Scottish, Memphis and Mismaim Freemasons in and for the German Reich, Sovereign Grand Commander, Absolute Grand Sovereign, Sovereign Pontiff, Sovereign Grand Master of the O.T.O. Freemasons, Supreme Magus Soc. Frat. R.C., S I 33°, Termaximus Regens I.O. etc.'35 .

The Absolute Sovereign Grand Master, was able to publish only two numbers of Oriflamme during 1906. Their contents are not of great interest although they throw light upon his disputes with his former disciples. They also indicate that he was now anxious to admit women to Memphis & Misraim, that he was preoccupied with ’sexual yoga' (for want of a better expression), and that his Order of the Templar of the Orient (O.T.O.) would in due course take the place of his other rites.

He issued a warrant for a 'mixed' Memphis & Misraim Lodge in the spring of 1906. The recipient was Dr Rudolf Steiner who had been Secretary General of the German branch of the Theosophical Society since 1902. Steiner was never a Theosophist in the Blavatsky-Adyar tradition and was already on uneasy terms with Annie Besant. He and many of his followers broke away from the Theosophical Society in 1912 when he founded the subsequently influential Anthroposophical Society. According to the announcement in Oriflamme:36 .

Bro. Dr Rudolph Steiner, 33°, 95°, of Berlin and the Brothers and Sisters associated with him have been granted permission to form a Chapter and Grand Council under the title 'Mystica Aeterna' in Berlin. Dr Steiner has been appointed Deputy Grand Master with jurisdiction over members already received or to be received by him. Sister Marie von Sievers (later Steiner’s wife) has been appointed General Grand Secretary for the Lodges of Adoption.
(In his posthumous autobiography (The Story of my Life, 1928) Steiner went to great lengths to minimize the significance of his previous connection with Reuss and claimed that 'this symbolic-cultural section of the anthroposophical movement came to an end in the middle of 1914.')

In the same issue of Oriflamme he published a letter from Maximilian Dotzler of Munich who abjectly apologized for slandering him. The extent to which contemporary readers understood the background is uncertain and Reuss himself did not offer an explanation until 1914. It is evident that Dotzler was responsible for disseminating an unsavoury legend about Reuss which was remembered in German and Swiss masonic circles many years later. The gist of the story was that Reuss had shown Dotzler a peculiar yoga exercise & according to the widely-known version there was a phallic element & at the Hotel Metropole at Munich in 1906. In 1914 Reuss stated that he had given Dotzler some instructions relating to quite ordinary Hatha yoga techniques in 1903 (and not at Munich at the Hotel Metropole) and that the 'traditional legend' was completely untrue. There is no reason to disbelieve this statement.

The same issue contained a long article by Reuss on 'The Marriage Question, Sexual Reform and Women’s Lodges'. While it might have surprised some contemporary readers it would hardly cause a raised eyebrow today. The only unusual feature was its publication in a periodical which was allegedly masonic.

The next issue (July-December 1906) included a lengthy prepublication review under the heading Lingam-Yoni or the Mystery of Sexual Religion of Reuss’s latest book. Lingam - Yoni by 'Pendragon' (i.e. Reuss) was published in 1906 by the Verlag Willsson, Berlin and London. 'Willsson' was Reuss! According to the title-page its author used 'old and secret documents of an Order' but the book was hardly more than a translation of Phallism: A Description of the Worship of Lingam-Yoni . . . and other Symbols connected with the Mysteries of Sex Worship, privately printed at London in 1889.

We cannot understand what induced Reuss to publish this tedious book but suppose that its contents may have had some connection with the so-called 'inner teachings' of the Order of the Templars of the Orient. Much connected with the early history of the O.T.O. is obscure. Reuss stated in 1914 that 'the constitution of the reorganised O.T.O. dates from January 1906', also that there had been an engraved brass plate with the inscription ’sovereign Sanctuary of the Order of the Templars of the Orient' outside the street level door of his home in the Belle Alliancestrasse, Berlin, in December 1905. He also explained (in 1914) that the O.T.O. was Dr Kellner’s projected 'Academia Masonica' although the 'organisation' never had any connection with Freemasonry37 .. It seems unlikely that the O.T.O. was in any sense active as early as 1905-6 and we believe that it was not effectively launched until 1912 when Aleister Crowley became involved.

The Oriflamme did not appear at all during 1907 but two issues were published in 1908 (January and July). The latter contained a report of the International Masonic Conference held in Paris on 9 June 1908. It was organized by Dr Gerard Encausse ('Papus'), who was not even a Grand Orient freemason. In the course of a lengthy discussion it was established to the satisfaction of those present — they were all of French nationality with the exception of Reuss — that neither the United Grand Lodge of England nor the Grand Orient could prove their masonic regularity. Papus & Co. then decided to constitute a Supreme Grand Council and Grand Orient of the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim in France and happily accepted a warrant supplied by Reuss.

In the meantime we have lost sight of the Grosse Freimaurer Loge von Deutschland which, having paid 800 Marks for its 'rectification' in May 1904 had pursued an independent existence. According to its Grand Master, Paul Eberhardt, even then there were some who had their doubts about the authenticity of any warrant supplied by Reuss and it was decided to achieve an even greater measure of independence. This was effected on 24 June 1905. It involved a further payment of 600 Marks and a change of name. Thus the GFLvD now became the Symbolical Grand Lodge of the Scottish Rite in Germany, Orient of Leipzig. On 24 June 1909 Reuss cancelled its warrant and transferred it to a Dr Carl Lauer, of Ludwigshafen am Rhein. After lengthy discussions the former GFLvD liquidated its affairs on 31 March 1911 and many of its members found their way into recognized German lodges.38 .

The contents of the 1912 'Jubilee edition' of Oriflamme were almost entirely devoted to the O.T.O. Indeed, it was described as the 'Official Organ of the Order of the Oriental Templars and the Sovereign Sanctuary of Ancient Freemasons in Germany'. From this we learn that about 500 members had been recruited in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and that two National Grand Lodges had been constituted ' on 1 June 1912: one for Great Britain and Ireland and the other for 'the Slav countries'. The Head of the O.T.O. for England was 'the Most Holy, Most Illustrious, Most Illuminated, and Most Puissant Baphomet, X degree, Rex Summus Sanctissimus 33 degree, 90 degree, 96 degree, Past Grand Master of the United States of America, Grand Master of Ireland, Iona, etc.' who could be contacted at 33 Avenue Studios, 76 Fulham Road, Kensington, London, SW. The Most Holy, Illustrious and Illuminated gentleman was none other than Aleister Crowley39 .].

Crowley proceeded to issue a printed Manifesto of the M∴ M∴M∴, in which he explained that 'the M∴ M∴ M∴ (Mysteria Mystica Maxima) is the name of the British section of the O.T.O.', also that 'the O.T.O. is a body of initiates in whose hands are concentrated the wisdom and the knowledge of the following bodies':

1. The Gnostic Catholic Church
2. The Order of the Knights of the Holy Ghost
3. The Order of the Illuminati
4. The Order of the Temple (Knights Templar)
5. The Order of the Knights of St John
6. The Order of the Knights of Malta
7. The Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre
8. The Hidden Church of the Holy Grail
9. The Rosicrucian Order
10. The Holy Order of the Rose Croix of Heredom
11. The Order of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch
12. The Antient and Primitive Rite of Masonry (33 degrees)
13. The Rite of Memphis (97 degrees)
14. The Rite of Mizraim (90 degrees)
15. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry (33 degrees)
16. The Swedenborgian Rite of Masonry
17. The Order of Martinists
18. The Order of the Sat Bhai
19. The Hermetic Brotherhood of Light
20. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and many other orders of equal merit, if of less fame.

We also read: 'The O.T.O., although an Academia Masonica, is not a Masonic Body so far as the craft degrees are concerned in the sense in which that expression is usually understood in England, and therefore in no way conflicts with, or infringes the just privileges of the United Grand Lodge of England.'

Readers of Oriflamme (jubilee edition, 1912) were informed that 'our Order is not a masonic order, pure et simple ... but every member of our Order, man or woman ... must proceed through the craft degrees of Freemasonry, also those of high-grade Freemasonry, before they can be illuminated and initiated members of our Order.'

Now comes the great revelation: 'Our Order possesses the KEY which embraces all masonic and hermetic secrets. It relates to sexual magic and this teaching completely explains all Masonic symbolism and religious teachings.' Now the cat was out of the bag!


Reuss left London at the last possible moment before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and immediately reported for service with the Red Cross at Berlin. After a brief period spent working for German Counter-intelligence on the Dutch border he moved to neutral territory at Basle where he worked as a newspaper correspondent and taught English at the local Berlitz School. He was now using a visiting card which described him as A. C. Theodor Reuss, 'Honorary Professor at the High School for Applied Medical Science (University of France)'.40 . This center for Higher Learning was probably founded by the egregious Dr Encausse.

One of the strangest features of his Swiss period, which lasted for six years, was the organization of an international 'Anti-National' Congress under O.T.O. auspices at Henri Oedenkoven’s extraordinary establishment close to Ascona on Lake Maggiore. 'Monte Verita' had originally been founded during the early 1900s as the contemporary equivalent of a vegetarian 'hippy' commune and was patronized by a typical clientele of ’simple lifers', Theosophists and others with so-called 'progressive' views. The Congress lasted for ten days during August 1917.41 .. There is a reference to it in Gottfried zur Beek’s notorious Die Geheimnisse der Weisen von Zion (known in its English translation as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) which was an immediate best-seller when it was first published in Germany in 1919. Its author, whose real name was Muller von Hausen,42 . quoted from a letter which Reuss was alleged to have written to an unidentified correspondent:

My secret aim for this congress is to bring together land reformers [meaning people interested in rural communal settlements], vegetarians, Theosophists, pacifists ... from Spain, Italy, Holland, Russia, France, etc. and convert their hitherto poisonous anti-German sentiments into something more fair to Germany... The 'Anti-Nationalist Cooperative Congress' flag and the draft programme are naturally merely a camouflage... Germany should send two masonic representatives who are men of the world and know the true (not the orthodox) history of Freemasonry and its secret political working.43 .

According to Robert Landmann’s lively (but not always accurate) annals of the 'Monte Verita' phenomenon Reuss’s Congress assumed almost orgiastic qualities. An O.T.O. lodge was founded, there were 'initiations' and Reuss pocketed the money received from the sale of successively higher degrees.44 .

In 1918 he published his translation of Crowley’s Gnostic Mass. This was issued under O.T.O. auspices and copies of Ecclesiae Gnosticae Catholicae Canon Missae: Die Gnostische Messe could be obtained from Prof. T. Reuss-Willsson, P.O. Box 15268, Basle. The Professor was identified as the 'head of the Gnostic Neo-Christians and Oriental Templars: Carolus Alberrus Theodorus Peregrinus, Sovereign Patriarch and Primate of the Gnostic Catholic Church, Vicarius Solomonis et Caput Ordinis O.T.O.' The source of the Patriarch’s ecclesiastical preferment is unknown.45 .

In 1919-20 Reuss resumed his former 'masonic' activities and on 25 May 1919 founded a ’swiss Grand Orient for the Ancient and Accepted Scottish 33 degree Rite (Cerneau, New York 1807)' at Zurich. Daughter lodges were soon constituted at Bellinzona, Bern, Chiasso (two) and Mendrisio. After Reuss’s departure some of them were regularized.46 .

Reuss was also involved in the Congress of the International Masonic Federation held at Zurich in July 1920. It is unlikely that a single regular freemason was present. The proceedings appear to have been dominated by the notorious Matthew McBlain Thomson, of Salt Lake City, U.S.A.47 . Two years later he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for illegally using the U.S. mails for the sale of spurious masonic degrees. Thomson subsequently wrote a lively account of his visit to Zurich. It was published in his periodical The Universal Freemason (September 1920):

I also met Bro. Reuss — he is a typical German, wanting his own way or spoil things. I found that he had a patent from Bro. Yarker, empowering him to establish the Rite in Germany, and on the strength of this had been charging a royalty on every candidate entered. He wanted me to endorse this way of doing things, and on my refusing, got mad and said he would allow no Englishman or Scotchman to interfere with his private affairs. He then wanted to have two bodies separately in Switzerland recognised as members of the Federation, viz.: The Grand Orient (from which he had been drawing a royalty), and what he was pleased to call the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Memphis Rite. As the latter consisted of himself, I said that we could not recognise any body unless it had a regular organisation.
Reuss took no further part in the proceedings after the first day (17 July). The current story was that McBlain Thomson paid him 3000 Swiss francs to stay away.48 .

Reuss returned to Germany in September 1921 and settled at Munich. He died on 28 October 1923. The death certificate described him as 'Professor und Propaganderchef [sic]'.


The authors wish to thank Bro. Fritz Bolle (Munich) for searching through old German masonic periodicals for references to Reuss, also Bro. Dr Karl R. H. Frick (Bochum) for supplying a photocopy of Oriflamme, July I914.

Reprinted with permission of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, UGLE in Volume 91 for the year 1978. [p. .].


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