EGYPTIAN MASONIC RITE
This magical ritual was devised by Count Alessandro di Cagliostro who claimed that Egyptian Masonry held the key to the Philosopher's Stone and those participating in it could discover their "primitive innocence". Cagliostro admitted both men and women into his lodge. His wife assisted in the initiation of the female neophytes. She would say, "I breathe upon you this breath to cause to germinate in you and grow in your heart the truth we possess; I breathe it into you to strengthen in you good intentions, and confirm you in the faith of your brothers and sisters..."
Later, the women put on white robes and participated in a ceremony where they were encouraged to cast off the "shameful bonds" which their male masters imposed on them. They were subsequently led into a garden then later to a temple where they experienced an "initiatory" encounter with Cagliostro himself. Naked, he descended on a golden sphere through the roof of the temple and ordered the neophytes to disrobe in the name of Truth and innocence. He then explained to them the symbolic nature of their quest for self-realization before he mounted the golden ball and ascending through the temple vault.
As it has been pointed out that the intentions of Cagliostro and his wife in bestowing these gifts were not purely altruistic. It seems there was an 100 louis fee to participate, however, most who did belonged to the Parisian aristocracy and could well afford it.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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