M K Ramadoss
I learnt about Egyptian Rite from Dr. Tillett's book - Elder Brother (CWL Bio). When I inquired with a long time ES member, was confirmed with one word YES. Subsequently, Tillett covered it in a paper presented at Theosophy History conference in 1992. It was updated and made available on Internet in 2013. Tillett covered it also in his 1986 PhD thesis which was later available on line.
Ross recently published three volumes on ER which confirmed that all the info published by Tillett to be correct. The surprising fact disclosed by Ross is that even many ES members did not know about the existence of ER perhaps because admission is by invitation only while membership in ES is a pre-requisite. It was kept so secret that the Leaders need to be congratulated.
Sri Ram who headed ER in addition to TS and ES, confirmed when a lodge inquired. He stated correctly that it is ceremonial group like Masonic. If so why was the secrecy? To enhance it's greatness by super secrecy. Every one knows about Masonic groups. What is secret is their ceremonial rituals.
Bottom line it is supposed to help theosophy. Did all the secrecy help spread theosophy? Probably not.
While Theosophy is founded on Universal Brotherhood, in effect this interlocking structure has created a Class system in TS -
Highest - ER
Next - ES
Lowest - Ordinary dues paying members who are not in ES and ER
(One TS leader correctly referred the lowest as "Ballast:)
Today's environment is for more transparency and growing young don't accept cult like secrecy with pledge of loyalty to a man or woman, many times you do not even know!
With dwindling membership and serious problems like lack of afro american members in USA, unless some radical change in direction takes place, theosophy will be a laughing stock.
Can you and me keep silent bystanders? No No.
We have in our hands most potent tools - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email groups to spread the gems of Theosophy
All that is needed is creative ideas and our time