The Elected officials Coëns
Since 1765, the masonic course of Jean-Baptiste Willermoz takes a watershed, when it is allowed in the order of the Knights elected Masons Coëns of the universe. This order, founded by Martinès de Pasqually about 1754, is presented in the form of “a true freemasonry”, contrary to the masonry of its time, which it judges “apocryphal book”. It is true that at that time, masonry presents contradictory faces. On a side, it is primarily a festive institution, where the society life is cultivated and where the banquets and the festivals tend to take more place than the rites. On another side, it gives birth, certainly, with a flowering of high ranks, but the latter cultivate a not very coherent esotericism.
The order of the Elected officials Coëns is a system of high ranks organized around specific doctrines, that of rehabilitation. It is characterized by ritual complexes concerned with the divine magic: the theurgy. In 1766, little time after its entry in this order, Jean-Baptiste Willermoz meets the Large Sovereign and founder of the Order, Martinès de Pasqually. It becomes one of its most dedicated disciples and arrives at the most rank, that of Réau-Croix. It is devoted with constancy to the theurgy and the many periods of prayers day labourers recommended by the Large Sovereign of the Order.
Jean-Baptiste Willermoz is allured by the lesson of the Order; he is however somewhat disappointed by the capacities of organizer of his leader. Indeed, the order of the Elected officials Coëns is still in gestation, and Martinès de Pasqually does not finish any writing payments, ritual and instructions intended for the operation of the cabins. Its departure for Haiti does not support the things. Indeed, it embarks on May 5, 1772 bound for Saint-Domingue to solve a problem of heritage. The Elected officials Lyons Coëns continue to work while following its instructions. The secretary of Martinès de Pasqually, Louis-Claude of Saint Martin's day, comes to settle some time at Jean-Baptiste Willermoz. It is there, at the end of the year 1773 and during the following year, which he writes its first book, Of the errors and the truth. The work will be published in 1775 by an elected official Coën of the city making occupation of printer-bookseller, Jean-Andre Perishes-Duluc. Martinès de Pasqually dies in Haiti on September 20, 1774, following a bad fever. Deprived of its founder, the Order declines and will be soon tiny room to the sleep.
The Strict Templier Observance
Jean-Baptiste Willermoz enters then the second part of his esoteric life. This period, which extends from 1773 to 1782, began the year preceding death by the founder from the Elected officials Coëns by a contact with the baron Karl von Hund (1722-1776). This last is the founder of a masonic rite asserting Templier affiliation: the Strict Observance Templier (S.O.T). This order - which dominates German freemasonry then - fact of masonry “the order of the continued Temple”. It cultivates the chivalrous spirit: when a new member is received with the S.O.T., it takes a name of a knight. Thus, in 1774, Willermoz ab Eremo becomes Eques (Eques, “Latin knight”). Very quickly, the Lyons Martinists - i.e. the disciples who revolve in the entourage of Martinès de Pasqually - follow Jean-Baptiste Willermoz while joining with the S.O.T.
This order is then in full change, because among its members, but many wonder about the legitimacy of its Templiers affiliation. Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, helped by the former elected officials Coëns, soon affirms himself like a reformer of the Strict Templier Observance. Succeeding in gaining the confidence of both leader of the Order, the duke of Brunswick (Eques a Victori) and Charles de Hesse Cassel (Eques a Leone Resurgent), it organizes in Lyon, in November 1778, one of the most famous general assemblies of Freemasons: the general assembly of Freemasons of Gaules. It is on this occasion that he is adopted by the Order the doctrines of Martinès de Pasqually (without its theurgy). In 1782, for better devoting itself to its masonic activities, he decides to sell his drapery business.
In August of the same year the general assembly of Freemasons of Wilhelmsbad of the Strict Templier Observance takes place. During this important meeting, one attends a retreat of the claims templiers. From now on, the Order is placed in a “afiliation of spirit” drawing its sources in the eternal knighthood, the “Ordre saint” to which all the true orders, whatever their name would be attached, and whose templiers are only one branch. The Order then changes its name for that of Beneficial Knights of the Holy City. It also is described as Rite (or Mode) Scottish rectified (R.E.R.) (3).
3. On the history of this kind, see FORESTER, Rene, Freemasonry Templier and occultist to the 18th and 19th centuries, foreword, addenda and index of Antoine Faivre, introduction of Alec MELLOR, Paris-Leuwen, Sapwood, 1970. Antoine FAIVRE inserted in appendix the complete text of the “secret Instruction of Grand Profès”.