The Martinist Order is an esoteric Order perpetuating a chain of Initiation which came through Martinez de Pasqually and Louis Claude de Saint Martin, both Brothers of the Rose+Croix in the 18th century. The teaching generally is a system of philosophic thought, essentially a Christian Gnosis, which is chiefly based on the doctrinal tenets of work called, “Treatise on the Reintegration of Beings into Their Original Estate, Virtues and Powers both Spiritual and Divine”, written by Martinez de Pasqually. This work gives a particular interpretation of Creation, of the Hierarchy of Beings, of the Fall of Man, and the way for Man to regain his original status in the cosmic scheme of things so as to be re-established in his initial state and privileges. Martinez de Pasqually considers Man to be in exile in this earthly existence, deprived of all his real powers. Man’s main aim, therefore, must be to work at becoming restored to the condition that was originally his. This he can achieve by following a certain technique which constitutes the secret part of Pasqually’s doctrine.
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin introduced a more contemplative character to Martinism. He moved away from the theurgic practices of his Teacher to find a more spiritual means to achieve the same result; in doing so he developed what is known in Martinism terminology as the “Inner Way” of Reintegration, also known as “The Way of the Heart”.
The similarity of names between Martinez and Saint-Martin has led to much confusion as to whose followers were, and still are, MARTINISTS. The answer is quite simple: BOTH. Their respective followers share belief – the Divine Glory of Man’s Origin – and the same aim: to regain that glorious Divinity. Only their methods vary – one following the technique of theurgic operations, the other that of inner guidance and illumination.
The Ancient Martinist Order has full authority to establish bodies of instruction and initiation wherever sincere and capable students of the Path can gather together and invoke Divine Power.
The true Order never advertises itself, for such action would not achieve its purpose which is Initiation. Initiation cannot be bought but it can be transmitted personally by those in the direct chain of authority to students who are properly prepared. All who are ready to enter the Brotherhood are permitted to find their way in. The membership of the Ancient Martinist Order is composed of both men and women in keeping with Saint-Martin’s way of extending Spiritual Light.
The Order consists of simple adherents and of “Initiates” divided in three grades, two or probation, and one of in-depth study. This grade, the S::: I::: or “Unknown Superior”, is only granted to members who show themselves worthy by their behavior in their daily life, as well as by their special knowledge (concerning the doctrine and workings of the “Past Masters” of Martinism – hermetic traditions) and in general by their support for Martinist principles. Beyond this grade, there is another which is reserved for those who will create new bodies of instruction or enter the administrative hierarchy of the Rite. The grade is called the S::: I::: I::: in the Ancient Martinist Order; it has also been known under the title of P::: I:::. This grade, and ONLY this grade, grants the esoteric authority to conduct the Martinist initiations to according to the Tradition.
The AMO has, therefore, two different classes:
The external class, which is a school of instruction (similar to what in the past was known as school of mysteries), for the first two degrees, which meet in small groups known as Circles,
The internal class, which is accessible only to the S::: I::: whose will is to be part of the chosen community which is aware of the universal and central character of esoterism, and for which “the present possession of God, of Jesus-Christ in us, is the center to which all mysteries, as the rays of a circle, focus.” (Karl von Eckhartshausen: “The Cloud over the Sanctuary” (“Le Nuée sur le Sanctuaire”).