The Fraternity of the
WHO were the Rosicrucians? Were
they an organization of profound thinkers rebelling against the inquisitional
religious and philosophical limitations of their time or were they isolated
transcendentalists united only by the similarity of their viewpoints and
deductions? Where was the "House of the Holy Spirit, " in which, according to
their manifestoes, they met once a year to plan the future activities of their
Order? Who was the mysterious person referred to as "Our Illustrious Father
and Brother C.R.C."? Did those three letters actually stand for the words
"Christian Rosie Cross"? Was Christian Rosencreutz, the supposed author of the
Chymical Nuptials, the same person who with three others founded "The
Society of the Rose Cross"?
What relationship existed
between Rosicrucianism and mediĉval Freemasonry? Why were the destinies of
these two organizations so closely interwoven? Is the "Brotherhood of the Rose
Cross" the much-sought-after link connecting the Freemasonry of the Middle
Ages with the symbolism and mysticism of antiquity, and are its secrets being
perpetuated by modern Masonry? Did the original Rosicrucian Order disintegrate
in the latter part of the eighteenth century, or does the Society still exist
as an organization, maintaining the same secrecy for which it was originally
famous? What was the true purpose for which the "Brotherhood of the Rose
Cross" was formed? Were the Rosicrucians a religious and philosophic
brotherhood, as they claimed to be, or were their avowed tenets a blind to
conceal the true object of the Fraternity, which possibly was the political
control of Europe? These are some of the problems involved in the study of
There are four distinct
theories regarding the Rosicrucian enigma. Each is the result of a careful
consideration of the evidence by scholars who have spent their lives
ransacking the archives of Hermetic lore. The conclusions reached demonstrate
clearly the inadequacy of the records available concerning the genesis and
early activities of the "Brethren of the Rose Cross."
THE FIRST POSTULATE
It is assumed that the
Rosicrucian Order existed historically in accordance with the description of
its foundation and subsequent activities published in its manifesto, the
Fama Fraternitatis, which is believed to have been written in the year
1610, but apparently did not appear in print until 1614, although an earlier
edition is suspected by some authorities. Intelligent consideration of the
origin of Rosicrucianism requires a familiarity with the contents of the first
and most important of its documents. The Fama Fraternitatis begins with
a reminder to all the world of God's goodness and mercy, and it warns the
intelligentsia that their egotism and covetousness cause them to follow after
false prophets and to ignore the true knowledge which God in His goodness has
revealed to them. Hence, a reformation is necessary, and God has raised up
philosophers and sages for this purpose.
In order to assist in bringing
about the reformation, a mysterious person called "The Highly Illuminated
Father C.R.C.," a German by birth, descended of a noble family, but himself a
poor man, instituted the "Secret Society of the Rose Cross." C.R.C. was placed
in a cloister when only five years of age, but later becoming dissatisfied
with its educational system, he associated himself with a brother of Holy
Orders who was setting forth on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They started
out together, but the brother died at Cyprus and C.R.C! continued alone to
Damascus. Poor health prevented him from reaching Jerusalem, so he remained at
Damascus, studying with the philosophers who dwelt there.
While pursuing his studies, he
heard of a group of mystics and Qabbalists abiding in the mystic Arabian city
of Damcar. Giving up his desire to visit Jerusalem, he arranged with the
Arabians for his transportation to Damcar. C.R.C. was but sixteen years of age
when he arrived at Damcar. He was received as one who had been long expected,
a comrade and a friend in philosophy, and was instructed in the secrets of the
Arabian adepts. While there, C.R.C. learned the Arabic tongue and translated
the sacred book M into Latin; and upon returning to Europe he brought
this important volume with him.
After studying three years in
Damcar, C.R.C. departed for the city of Fez, where the Arabian magicians
declared further information would be given him. At Fez he was instructed how
to communicate with the Elementary inhabitants [probably the Nature spirits],
and these disclosed to him many other great secrets of Nature. While the
philosophers in Fez were not so great as those in Damcar, the previous
experiences of C.R.C. enabled him to distinguish the true from the false and
thus add greatly to his store of knowledge.
After two years in Fez, C.R.C.
sailed for Spain, carrying with him many treasures, among them rare plants and
animals accumulated during his wanderings. He fondly hoped that the learned
men of Europe would receive with gratitude the rare intellectual and material
treasures which he had brought for their consideration. Instead he encountered
only ridicule, for the so-called wise were afraid to admit their previous
ignorance lest their prestige be impaired. At this point in the narrative is
an interpolation stating that Paracelsus, while not a member of the
"Fraternity of the Rose Cross," had read the book M and from a
consideration of its contents had secured information which made him the
foremost physician of mediĉval Europe.
Tired, but not discouraged, as
the result of the fruitlessness of his efforts, C.R.C. returned to Germany,
where he built a house in which he could quietly carry on his study and
research. He also manufactured a number of rare scientific instruments for
research purposes. While he could have made himself famous had he cared to
commercialize his knowledge, he preferred the companionship of God to the
esteem of men.
After five years of retirement
he decided to renew his struggle for a reformation of the arts and sciences of
his day, this time with the aid of a few trusted friends. He sent to the
cloister where his early training had been received and called to himself
three brethren, whom he bound by an oath to preserve inviolate the secrets he
should impart and to write down for the sake of posterity the information
THE GOLDEN AND ROSY CROSS.
From Geheime Figuren der
It is said of this cross that
it is made of spiritual gold and that each Brother wears it upon his breast.
It bears the alchemical symbols of salt, sulphur, and mercury; also a star of
the planets; and around it are the four words FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, and PATIENCE.
The double-headed eagle, or Phnix, subtly foreshadows the ultimate
androgynous state of the human creature. Rosicrucian alchemy was not concerned
with metals alone. Man's own body was the alchemical laboratory, and none
could reach Rosicrucian adeptship until he had performed the supreme
experiment of transmutation by changing the base metals of ignorance into the
pure gold of wisdom and understanding.
he should dictate. These four
founded the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross." They prepared its secret cipher
language and, according to the Fama, a great dictionary in which all
forms of wisdom were classified to the glorification of God. They also began
the work of transcribing the book M, but found the task too difficult
because of the demands of the great numbers of sick who came to them for
Having completed a newer and
larger building, which they called the "House of the Holy Spirit," they
decided to include four new members in the Fraternity, thus increasing the
number to eight, seven of whom were German. All were unmarried. Working
industriously together, they speedily completed the arduous labor of preparing
the documents, instructions, and arcana of the Order. They also put the house
called "Sancti Spiritus" in order.
They then decided to separate
and visit the other countries of the earth, not only that their wisdom might
be given to others who deserved it but also that they might check and correct
any mistakes existing in their own system. Before separating, the Brethren
prepared six rules, or by-laws, and each bound himself to obey them. The first
rule was that they should take to themselves no other dignity or credit than
that they were willing to heal the sick without charge. The second was that
from that time on forever they should wear no special robe or garment, but
should dress according to the custom of the country wherein they dwelt. The
third stated that every year upon a certain day they should meet in the "House
of the Holy Spirit," or, if unable to do so, should be represented by an
epistle. The fourth decreed that each member should search for a worthy person
to succeed him at his own demise. The fifth stated that the letters "R.C."
should be their seal, mark, and character from that time onward. The sixth
specified that the Fraternity should remain unknown to the world for a period
of one hundred years.
After they had sworn to this
code five of the Brothers departed to distant lands, and a year later two of
the others also went their way, leaving Father C.R. C. alone in the "House of
the Holy Spirit." Year after year they met with great joy, for they had
quietly and sincerely promulgated their doctrines among the wise of the earth.
When the first of the Order
died in England, it was decided that the burial places of the members should
be secret. Soon afterward Father C.R.C. called the remaining six together, and
it is supposed that then he prepared his own symbolic tomb. The Fama records
that none of the Brothers alive at the time of its writing knew when Father
C.R.C. died or where he was buried. His body was accidentally discovered 120
years after his death when one of the Brothers, who possessed considerable
architectural skill, decided to make some alterations in the "House of the
Holy Spirit." [It is only suspected that the tomb was in this building.]
While making his alterations,
the Brother discovered a memorial tablet upon which were inscribed the names
of the early members of the Order. This he decided to transfer to a more
imposing chapel, for at that time no one knew in what country Father C.R.C.
had died, this information having been concealed by the original members. In
attempting to remove the memorial tablet, which was held in place by a large
nail, some stones and plastering were broken from the wall, disclosing a door
concealed in the masonry. The members of the Order immediately cleared away
the rest of the débris and uncovered the entrance to a vault. Upon the door in
large letters were the words: POST CXX ANNOS PATEBO. This, according to the
mystic interpretation of the Brethren, meant, "In 120 years I shall come
The following morning the door
was opened and the members entered a vault with seven sides and seven corners,
each side five feet broad and eight feet high. Although the sun never
penetrated this tomb, it was brilliantly illuminated by a mysterious light in
the ceiling. In the center was a circular altar, upon which were brass plates
engraved with strange characters. In each of the seven sides was a small door
which, upon being opened, revealed a number of boxes filled with books, secret
instructions, and the supposedly lost arcanum of the Fraternity.
Upon moving the altar to one
side a brass cover was disclosed. Lifting this revealed a body, presumedly
that of C.R.C., which, although it had lain there 120 years, was as well
preserved as though it had just been interred. It was ornamented and attired
in the robes of the Order, and in one hand was clasped a mysterious parchment
which, next to the Bible, was the most valued possession of the Society. After
thoroughly investigating the contents of the secret chamber, the brass plate
and altar were put back in place, the door of the vault was again sealed, and
the Brothers went their respective ways, their spirits raised and their faith
increased by the miraculous spectacle which they had beheld.
The document ends by saying in
effect, "In accordance with the will of Father C.R.C., the Fama has
been prepared and sent forth to the wise and learned of all Europe in five
languages, that all may know and understand the secrets of the august
Fraternity. All of sincere soul who labor for the glory of God are invited to
communicate with the Brethren and are promised that their appeal shall be
heard, regardless of where they are or how the messages are sent. At the same
time, those of selfish and ulterior motives are warned that only sorrow and
misery will attend any who attempt to discover the Fraternity without a clean
heart and a pure mind."
Such, in brief, is the story of
the Fama Fraternitatis. Those who accept it literally regard Father
C.R.C. as the actual founder of the Brotherhood, which he is believed to have
organized about 1400. The fact that historical corroboration of the important
points of the Fama has never been discovered is held against this theory.
There is no proof that Father C.R.C. ever approached the learned men of Spain.
The mysterious city of Damcar cannot be found, and there is no record that
anywhere in Germany there existed a place where great numbers of the halt and
sick came and were mysteriously healed. A. E. Waite's The Secret Tradition
in Freemasonry contains a picture of Father C.R.C. showing him with a long
beard upon his breast, sitting before a table upon which burns a candle. One
hand is supporting his head and the other is resting the tip of its index
finger on the temple of a human skull. The picture, however (see plate at head
of chapter), proves nothing. Father C.R.C. was never seen by other than
members of his own Order, and they did not preserve a description of him. That
his name was Christian Rosencreutz is most improbable, as the two were not
even associated until the writing of the Chymical Nuptials.
THE SECOND POSTULATE
Those Masonic brethren who have
investigated the subject accept the historical existence of the "Brotherhood
of the Rose Cross" but are divided concerning the origin of the Order. One
group holds the society originated in mediĉval Europe as an outgrowth of
alchemical speculation. Robert Macoy, 33°, believes that Johann Valentin
Andreĉ, a German theologian, was the true founder, and he also believes it
possible that this divine merely reformed and amplified an existing society
which had been founded by Sir Henry Cornelius Agrippa. Some believe that
Rosicrucianism represented the first European invasion of Buddhist and Brahmin
culture. Still others hold the opinion that the "Society of the Rose Cross"
was founded in Egypt during n the philosophic supremacy of that empire, and
that it also perpetuated the Mysteries of ancient Persia and Chaldea.
In his Anacalypsis,
Godfrey Higgins writes: "The Rosicrucians of Germany are quite ignorant of
their origin; but, by tradition, they suppose themselves descendants of the
ancient Egyptians, Chaldeans, Magi, and Gymnosophists." (The last was a name
given by the followers of Alexander the Great to a caste of naked Wise Men
whom they found meditating along the river banks in India.) The consensus
among these factions is that the story of Father C.R.C., like the Masonic
legend of Hiram Abiff, is an allegory and should not be considered literally.
A similar problem has confronted students of the Bible, who have found not
only difficult, but in the majority of cases impossible, their efforts to
substantiate the historical interpretation of the Scriptures.
Admitting the existence of the
Rosicrucians as a secret society with both philosophic and political ends, it
is remarkable that an organization with members in all parts of Europe could
maintain absolute secrecy throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, the
"Brothers of the Rose Cross" were apparently able to accomplish this. A great
number of scholars and philosophers, among them Sir Francis Bacon and Wolfgang
von Goethe, have been suspected of affiliation with the Order, but their
connection has not been established to the satisfaction of prosaic historians.
Pseudo-Rosicrucians abounded, but the true members of the "Ancient and Secret
Order of The Unknown Philosophers" have successfully lived up to their name;
to this day they remain unknown.
During the Middle Ages a number
of tracts appeared, purporting to be from the pens of Rosicrucians. Many of
them, however, were spurious, being issued for their self-aggrandizement by
unscrupulous persons who used the revered and magic name Rosicrucian in the
hope of gaining religious or political power. This has greatly complicated
THE CRUCIFIED ROSE.
The original symbol of the
Rosicrucian Fraternity was a hieroglyphic rose crucified upon a cross. The
cross was often raised upon a three-stepped Calvary. Occasionally the symbol
of a cross rising from a rose was used in connection with their activities.
The Rosicrucian rose was drawn upon the Round Table of King Arthur, and is the
central motif for the links forming the chain from which the "Great George" is
suspended among the jewels of The Order of the Garter. Hargrave Jennings
suspects this Order of having some connection with the Rosicrucians.
the work of investigating the
Society. One group of pseudo-Rosicrucians went so far as to supply its members
with a black cord by which they were to know each other, and warned them that
if they broke their vow of secrecy the cord would be used to strangle them.
Few of the principles of Rosicrucianism have been preserved in literature, for
the original Fraternity published only fragmentary accounts of its principles
In his Secret Symbols of the
Rosicrucians, Dr. Franz Hartmann describes the Fraternity as "A secret
society of men possessing superhuman--if not supernatural--powers; they were
said to be able to prophesy future events, to penetrate into the deepest
mysteries of Nature, to transform Iron, Copper, Lead, or Mercury into Gold, to
prepare an Elixir of Life, or Universal Panacea, by the use of
which they could preserve their youth and manhood; and moreover it was
believed that they could command the Elemental Spirits of Nature, and
knew the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, a substance which rendered
him who possessed it all-powerful, immortal, and supremely wise."
The same author further defines
a Rosicrucian as "A person who by the process of spiritual awakening has
attained a practical knowledge of the secret significance of the
Rose and the Cross. * * * To call a person a Rosicrucian does not
make him one, nor does the act of calling a person a Christian make him a
Christ. The real Rosicrucian or Mason cannot be made; he must grow to be one
by the expansion and unfoldment of the divine power within his own heart. The
inattention to this truth is the cause that many churches and secret societies
are far from being that which their names express."
The symbolic principles of
Rosicrucianism are so profound that even today they are little appreciated.
Their charts and diagrams are concerned with weighty cosmic principles which
they treat with a philosophic understanding decidedly refreshing when compared
with the orthodox narrowness prevalent in their day. According to the
available records, the Rosicrucians were bound together by mutual aspirations
rather than by the laws of a fraternity. The "Brothers of the Rose Cross" are
believed to have lived unobtrusively, laboring industriously in trades and
professions, disclosing their secret affiliation to no one--in many cases not
even to their own families. After the death of C.R.C., most of the Brethren
apparently had no central meeting place. Whatever initiatory ritual the Order
possessed was so closely guarded that it has never been revealed. Doubtless it
was couched in chemical terminology.
Efforts to join the Order were
apparently futile, for the Rosicrucians always chose their disciples. Having
agreed on one who they believed would do honor to their illustrious
fraternity, they communicated with him in one of many mysterious ways. He
might receive a letter, either anonymous or with a peculiar seal, usually
bearing the letters "C.R.C. "or "R.C. "upon it. He would be instructed to go
to a certain place at an appointed time. What was disclosed to him he never
revealed, although in many cases his later writings showed that a new
influence had come into his life, deepening his understanding and broadening
his intellect. A few have written allegorically concerning what they beheld
when in the august presence of the "Brethren of the Rose Cross."
Alchemists were sometimes
visited in their laboratories by mysterious strangers, who delivered learned
discourses concerning the secret processes of the Hermetic arts and, after
disclosing certain processes, departed, leaving no trace. Others declared that
the "Brothers of the Rose Cross" communicated with them through dreams and
visions, revealing the secrets of Hermetic wisdom to them while they were
asleep. Having been instructed, the candidate was bound to secrecy not only
concerning the chemical formulĉ which had been disclosed to him but also
concerning the method by which he had secured them. While these nameless
adepts were suspected of being ''Brothers of the Rose Cross," it could never
be proved who they were, and those visited could only conjecture.
Many suspect the Rosicrucian
rose to be a conventionalization of the Egyptian and Hindu lotus blossom, with
the same symbolic meaning as this more ancient symbol. The Divine Comedy
stamps Dante Alighieri as being familiar with the theory of Rosicrucianism.
Concerning this point, Albert Pike in his Morals and Dogma makes this
significant statement: "His Hell is but a negative Purgatory. His heaven is
composed of a series of Kabalistic circles, divided by a cross, like the
Pantacle of Ezekiel. In the center of this cross blooms a rose, and we see the
symbol of the Adepts of the Rose-Croix for the first time publicly expounded
and almost categorically explained."
Doubt has always existed as to
whether the name Rosicrucian came from the symbol of the rose and cross, or
whether this was merely a blind to deceive the uninformed and further conceal
the true meaning of the Order. Godfrey Higgins believes that the word
Rosicrucian is not derived from the flower but from the word Ros,
which means dew. It is also interesting to note that the word Ras means
wisdom, while Rus is translated concealment. Doubtless all of these
meanings have contributed to Rosicrucian symbolism.
A. E. Waite holds with Godfrey
Higgins that the process of forming the Philosopher's Stone with the aid of
dew is the secret concealed within the name Rosicrucian. It is possible that
the dew referred to is a mysterious substance within the human brain, closely
resembling the description given by alchemists of the dew which, falling from
heaven, redeemed the earth. The cross is symbolic of the human body, and the
two symbols together--the rose on the cross--signify that the soul of man is
crucified upon the body, where it is held by three nails.
It is probable that Rosicrucian
symbolism is a perpetuation of the secret tenets of the Egyptian Hermes, and
that the Society of Unknown Philosophers is the true link connecting modern
Masonry, with its mass of symbols, to ancient Egyptian Hermeticism, the source
of that symbolism. In his Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, A. E.
Waite makes this important observation: "There are certain indications which
point to a possible connection between Masonry and Rosicrucianism, and this,
if admitted, would constitute the first link in its connection with the past.
The evidence is, however, inconclusive, or at least unextricated. Freemasonry
per se, in spite of the affinity with mysticism which I have just mentioned,
has never exhibited any mystic character, nor has it a clear notion how it
came by its symbols."
Many of those connected with
the development of Freemasonry were suspected of being Rosicrucians; some, as
in the case of Robert Fludd, even wrote defenses of this organization. Frank
C. Higgins, a modern Masonic symbolist, writes: "Doctor Ashmole, a member of
this fraternity [Rosicrucian], is revered by Masons as one of the founders of
the first Grand Lodge in London." (See Ancient Freemasonry.) Elias
Ashmole is but one of many intellectual links connecting Rosicrucianism with
the genesis of Freemasonry. The Encyclopĉdia Britannica notes that
Elias Ashmole was initiated into the Freemasonic Order in 1646, and further
states that he was "the first gentleman, or amateur, to be 'accepted'."
On this same subject, Papus, in
his Tarot of the Bohemians, has written: "We must not forger that the
Rosicrucians were the Initiators of Leibnitz, and the founders of actual
Freemasonry through Ashmole." If the founders of Freemasonry were initiated
into the Great Arcanum of Egypt--and the symbolism of modern Masonry would
indicate that such was the case--then it is reasonable to suppose that they
secured their information from a society whose existence they admitted and
which was duly qualified to teach them these symbols and allegories.
One theory concerning the two
Orders is to the effect that Freemasonry was an outgrowth of Rosicrucianism;
in other words, that the "Unknown Philosophers" became known through an
organization which they created to serve them in the material world. The story
goes on to relate that the Rosicrucian adepts became dissatisfied with their
progeny and silently withdrew from the Masonic hierarchy, leaving behind their
symbolism and allegories, but carrying away the keys by which the locked
symbols could be made to give tip their secret meanings. Speculators have gone
so far as to state that, in their opinion, modern Freemasonry has completely
absorbed Rosicrucianism and succeeded it as the world's greatest secret
society. Other minds of equal learning declare that the Rosicrucian
Brotherhood still exists, preserving its individuality as the result of having
withdrawn from the Masonic Order.
According to a widely accepted
tradition, the headquarters of the Rosicrucian Order is near Carlsbad, in
Austria (see Doctor Franz Hartmann). Another version has it that a mysterious
school, resembling in general principles the Rosicrucian Fraternity, which
calls itself "The Bohemian Brothers," still maintains its individuality in the
Schwarzwald (Black Forest) of Germany. One thing is certain: with the
rise of Freemasonry, the Rosicrucian Order in Europe practically disappeared,
and notwithstanding existing statements to the contrary, it is certain that
the 18th degree (commonly known as the Rose-Croix) perpetuates many of the
symbols of the Rosicrucian Fire Alchemists.
In an anonymous unpublished
manuscript of the eighteenth century bearing the earmarks of Rosicrucian
Qabbalism appears this
THE ROSICRUCIAN ROSE.
From Geheime Figuren der
The rose is a yonic symbol associated
with generation, fecundity, and purity. The fact that flowers blossom by
unfolding has caused them to be chosen as symbolic of spiritual unfoldment.
The red color of the rose refers to the blood of Christ, and the golden heart
concealed within the midst of the flower corresponds to the spiritual gold
concealed within the human nature. The number of its petals being ten is also
a subtle reminder of the perfect Pythagorean number. The rose symbolizes the
heart, and the heart has always been accepted by Christians as emblematic of
the virtues of love and compassion, as well as of the nature of Christ--the
personification of these virtues. The rose as a religious emblem is of great
antiquity. It was accepted by the Greeks as the symbol of the sunrise, or of
the coming of dawn. In his Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass, Apuleius, turned into
a donkey because of his foolishness, regained his human shape by eating a
sacred rose given to him by the Egyptian priests.
The presence of a hieroglyphic rose upon
the escutcheon of Martin Luther has been the basis of much speculation as to
whether any connection existed between his Reformation and the secret
activities of the Rose Cross.
statement: "Yet will I now give
the over-wise world a paradox to be solved, namely, that some illuminated men
have undertaken to found Schools of Wisdom in Europe and these for some
peculiar reason have called themselves Fratres Rosa: Crucis. But soon
afterwards came false schools into existence and corrupted the good intentions
of these wise men. Therefore, the Order no longer exists as most people would
understand existence, and as this Fraternity of the Seculo Fili call
themselves Brothers of the Rosie Cross, so also will they in the
Seculo Spiritus Sancti call themselves Brothers of the Lily Cross
and the Knights of the White Lion. Then will the Schools of Wisdom
begin again to blossom, but why the first one chose their name and why the
others shall also choose theirs, only those can solve who have understanding
grounded in Nature."
Political aspirations of the
Rosicrucians were expressed through the activities of Sir Francis Bacon, the
Comte de St.-Germain, and the Comte di Cagliostro. The last named is suspected
of having been an emissary of the Knights Templars, a society deeply involved
in transcendentalism, as Eliphas Levi has noted. There is a popular
supposition to the effect that the Rosicrucians were at least partial
instigators of the French Revolution. (Note particularly the introduction to
Lord Bulwer-Lytton's Rosicrucian novel Zanoni.)
THE THIRD POSTULATE
The third theory takes the form
of a sweeping denial of Rosicrucianism, asserting that the so-called original
Order never had any foundation in fact but was entirely a product of
imagination. This viewpoint is best expressed by a number of questions which
are still being asked by investigators of this elusive group of
metaphysicians. Was the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" merely a mythical
institution created in the fertile mind of some literary cynic for the purpose
of deriding the alchemical and Hermetic sciences? Did the "House of the Holy
Spirit" ever exist outside the imagination of some mediĉval mystic? Was the
whole Rosicrucian story a satire to ridicule the gullibility of scholastic
Europe? Was the mysterious Father C.R.C. a product of the literary genius of
Johann Valentin Andreĉ, or another of similar mind, who, attempting to score
alchemical and Hermetic philosophy, unwittingly became a great power in
furthering the cause of its promulgation? That at least one of the early
documents of the Rosicrucians was from the pen of Andreĉ there is little
doubt, but for just what purpose he compiled it still remains a matter of
speculation. Did Andreĉ himself receive from some unknown person, or persons,
instructions to be carried out? If he wrote the Chymical Nuptials of
Christian Rosencreutz when only fifteen years old, was he overshadowed in
the preparation of that book?
To these vital questions no
answers are forthcoming. A number of persons accepted the magnificent
imposture of Andreĉ as absolute truth. It is maintained by many that, as a
consequence, numerous pseudo-societies sprang up, each asserting that it was
the organization concerning which the Fama Fraternitatis and the
Confessio Fraternitatis were written. Beyond doubt there are many spurious
orders in existence today; but few of them can offer valid claims that their
history dates back farther than the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The mystery associated with the
Rosicrucian Fraternity has resulted in endless controversy. Many able minds,
notable among them Eugenius Philalethes, Michael Maier, John Heydon, and
Robert Fludd, defended the concrete existence of "The Society of Unknown
Philosophers." Others equally qualified have asserted it to be of fraudulent
origin and doubtful existence. Eugenius Philalethes, while dedicating books to
the Order, and himself writing an extended exposition of its principles,
disclaims all personal connection with it. Many others have done likewise.
Some are of the opinion that
Sir Francis Bacon had a hand in the writing of the Fama and
Confessio Fraternitatis, on the basis that the rhetorical style of these
works is similar to that of Bacon's New Atlantis. They also contend
that certain statements in the latter work point to an acquaintance with
Rosicrucian symbology. The elusiveness of the Rosicrucians has caused them to
be favorite subject's for literary works. Outstanding among the romances which
have been woven around them is Zanoni. The author, Lord Bulwer-Lytton,
is regarded by some as a member of the Order, while others assert that he
applied for membership but was rejected. Pope's Rape of the Lock, &c.
Comte de Gabalis by Abbé de Villars, and essays by De Quincy, Hartmann,
Jennings, Mackenzie, and others, are examples of Rosicrucian literature.
Although the existence of these mediĉval Rosicrucians is difficult to prove,
sufficient evidence is at hand to make it extremely probable that there
existed in Germany, and afterwards in France, Italy, England, and other
European countries, a secret society of illuminated savants who made
contributions of great import to the sum of human knowledge, while maintaining
absolute secrecy concerning their personalities and their organization.
THE FOURTH POSTULATE
The apparent incongruities of
the Rosicrucian controversy have also been accounted for by a purely
transcendental explanation. There is evidence that early writers were
acquainted with such a supposition--which, however, was popularized only after
it had been espoused by Theosophy. This theory asserts that the Rosicrucians
actually possessed all the supernatural powers with which they were credited;
that they were in reality citizens of two worlds: that, while they had
physical bodies for expression on the material plane, they were also capable,
through the instructions they received from the Brotherhood, of functioning in
a mysterious ethereal body not subject to the limitations of time or distance.
By means of this "astral form" they were able to function in the invisible
realm of Nature, and in this realm, beyond reach of the profane, their temple
According to this viewpoint,
the true Rosicrucian Brotherhood consisted of a limited number of highly
developed adepts, or initiates, those of the higher degrees being no longer
subject to the laws of mortality; candidates were accepted into the Order only
after long periods of probation; adepts possessed the secret of the
Philosopher's Stone and knew the process of transmuting the base metals into
gold, but taught that these were only allegorical terms concealing the true
mystery of human regeneration through the transmutation of the "base elements"
of man's lower nature into the "gold" of intellectual and spiritual
realization. According to this theory, those who have sought to record the
events of importance in connection with the Rosicrucian controversy have
invariably failed because they approached their subject from a purely physical
or materialistic angle.
These adepts were believed to
have been able to teach man how to function away from his physical body at
will by assisting him to remove the "rose from the cross." They taught that
the spiritual nature was attached to the material form at certain points,
symbolized by the "nails" of the crucifixion; but by three alchemical
initiations which took place in the spiritual world, in the true Temple of the
Rose Cross, they were able to "draw" these nails and permit the divine nature
of man to come down from its cross. They concealed the processes by which this
was accomplished under three alchemical metaphoric expressions: "The Casting
of the Molten Sea," "The Making of the Rose Diamond," and "The Achieving of
the Philosopher's Stone."
While the intellectualist
flounders among contradictory theories, the mystic treats the problem in an
entirely different manner. He believes that the true Rosicrucian Fraternity,
consisting of a school of supermen (not unlike the fabled Mahatmas of India),
is an institution existing not in the visible world bur in its spiritual
counterpart, which he sees fit to call the "inner planes of Nature"; that the
Brothers can be reached only by those who are capable of transcending the
limitations of the material world. To substantiate their viewpoint, these
mystics cite the following significant statement from the Confessio
Fraternitatis: "A thousand times the unworthy may clamour, a thousand
times may present themselves, yet God hath commanded our ears that they should
hear none of them, and hath so compassed us about with His clouds that unto
us, His servants, no violence can be done; wherefore now no longer are we
beheld by human eyes, unless they have received strength borrowed from the
eagle." In mysticism the eagle is a symbol of initiation (the spinal Spirit
Fire), and by this is explained the inability of the unregenerated world to
understand the Secret Order of the Rose Cross.
Those professing this theory
regard the Comte de St.-Germain as their highest adept and assert that he and
Christian Rosencreutz were one and the same individual. They accept fire as
their universal symbol because it was the one element by means of which they
could control the metals. They declared themselves the descendants of
Tubal-cain and Hiram Abiff, and that the purpose of their existence was to
preserve the spiritual nature of man through ages of materiality. "The Gnostic
sects, the Arabs, Alchemists, Templars, Rosicrucians, and lastly the
Freemasons, form the Western chain in the transmission of occult science."
(See The Tarot of the Bohemians translated by A. E. Waite from the
French of Papus.)
Max Heindel, the Christian
mystic, described the Rosicrucian Temple as an "etheric structure" located in
and around the home of a European country gentleman. He believed that this
invisible building would ultimately be moved to the American continent. Mr.
Heindel referred to the Rosicrucian Initiates as so advanced in the science of
life that "death had forgotten them."
THE CREST OF JOHANN VALENTIN ANDREĈ.
From Chymische Hochzeit.
The reference to four red roses
and a white cross in the Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz identified
Johann Valentin Andreĉ as its author, for his family crest, shown above,
consisted of four red roses and a white cross.
Next: Rosicrucian Doctrines and