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Rosicrucians

Category: Mystic groups and systems

 

The term Rosicrucian (symbol: the Rose and Cross), according to Wikipedia

describes a secret society of mystics, allegedly formed in late mediaeval Germany, holding a doctrine built on esoteric truths of the ancient past, which, concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm.  

Well almost right.

Despite the name it is not exclusively a Christian movement. 

The rose and the cross are symbolic. 

In reality the society has, in a sense, always existed.  The membership is flexible and there is no need for them to meet physically because they are in touch spiritually.  Some meet using their ability to go out of body.  It is a Brotherhood of those who can and those who know.

The labels come from outside not inside.

The Manifestos


 
Grant Wood - Woman with plants - a sort of
female Hermes Trismegistus [my little joke]

Between 1607 and 1616, two anonymous manifestos were published, first in Germany and later throughout Europe. These were Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC).  The Fama Fraternitatis and Confessio Fraternitatis appeared in Kassel, Germany in 1614 and 1615 respectively. To this day no-one knows who was behind them.

To get the message across and generate a bit of excitement a considerable amount of background was given to pad out the main thrust of the ideas.

The Fama goes into detail about the founding of the order and the history of Rosenkreutz himself. He is described as a man of great learning, esoteric understanding and healing power who traveled in the Middle East in search of knowledge. He is said to have visited the Arab city of Damcar (possibly Damascus) where he was met by Muslim sages and mystics (possibly Sufis) 'as a friend'. There he is meant to have learned a great deal of esoteric wisdom and knowledge before returning to Europe where, having been rejected by the academic and religious authorities of the day he founded the secret Brotherhood or Order of the Rose Cross, now known as the Rosicrucians. This order is described as consisting of a group of learned men dedicated to the well-being of mankind who would travel the world healing and teaching and meeting annually in a specially appointed place. A brief outline of the history of the early Brethren along with the initials of their names is given.

There is nothing better than a bit of myth and secrecy to get people's interest.  In the early 17th century, the manifestos caused excitement throughout Europe by declaring the existence of a secret brotherhood of alchemists and sages who were preparing to transform the arts, sciences, religion, and political and intellectual landscape of Europe.  If you give people the vision, they follow the vision.

Grant Wood - Daughters of the Revolution - good Puritanical folk

The idea of such an order, supported by a network of astronomers, professors, mathematicians, and natural philosophers in 16th century Europe was  promoted by men such as Johannes Kepler.  Groups of scientists  began to hold regular meetings to share and develop knowledge acquired by experimental investigation. Among these were Robert Boyle.

The printing of the Manifestos caused an enormous reaction in other intellectual  circles in Europe with leading lights of learning following their vision. René Descartes is just one of the many cultural giants of the time who was influenced. The promise of a spiritual and cultural transformation of Europe towards a greater harmony at a time of great turmoil was too hard to resist.  Everybody started to contribute, buoyed on by the promise of ‘access to enormous esoteric and mystical knowledge’.  So they made a difference just by publishing the two works and sparking debate and change.  Which was the objective.

The Fama Fraternitatis also describes the present Brothers of the Rose Cross  and gives an account of

their discovery of the hidden tomb of Rosenkreutz. This consists of a secret vault of seven sides and three levels filled with miraculous objects and books of wisdom and learning. In the centre of the vault lies Rosenkreutz himself, his body perfectly preserved even after the passing of over a century.

 This is symbolic.

The spur to its founding

 T Schweighart - Speculum sophicum rhodo stauroticum 1604. 
Schweighart advised the searcher for the Rosicrucians to wait
patiently like Noah's doves and to pray tirelessly because
'Brothers are able to read thoughts'

Europe in the late 1500s was not a happy place to be and something needed to be done.  Wars of politics and religion ravaged the continent.  Religious dogma had become extreme.  Stagnation had set in.    Scientific advance was stymied.  Civil wars raged.

What provided the spur to the apparent founding of this particular mystic movement was the creation of the Lutheran religion. 

Lutheranism is a major branch of Protestant Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German friar, ecclesiastical reformer, and theologian.

Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Beginning with the Ninety-Five Theses, first published in 1517, Luther's writings were disseminated internationally, spreading the early ideas of the Reformation beyond the influence and control of the Roman Curia and the Holy Roman Emperor. The split between the Lutherans and the Catholics was made clear and open with the 1521 Edict of Worms.

American gothic - Grant Wood

If mystics had hoped that the reform might loosen the restrictions governing mystical thought and practises, they soon found that the resulting religious offshoots were, if anything, even worse in their condemnation of mystical practises. 

Protestantism and Puritanism in general posed and still pose a great threat to all forms of mysticism.  Over the centuries, the Lutheran orthodoxy managed to erase from its ranks almost all memory of natural mystical practises deriving from Alchemy and the Kabbalah, turning to literal interpretations of the Bible and what one mystic has called 'walled faith'.  The strange and unnatural attitude Protestant based religions have towards sex stems from their rejection of the sex based methods inherent in Alchemy, the Kabbalah, Sufism, Shinto, Hindu and yoga and other mystic movements of achieving spiritual experience.   The only sex based activity which appears to be condoned is repression!

Bobble hats and cocks meet orthodoxy - Grant Wood

Joscelyn Godwin – The Golden thread

The Rosicrucean manifestos Fame and the Confession circulated in manuscript from 1611, then appeared in print in 1614 and 1615, followed in 1616 by their pendant, the fantasy novel The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz.  ...
The Rosicrucian  writings come out of a Lutheran milieu influenced by the Hermetic physician Paracelsus and by Alchemy. ....
The Chemical Wedding blends Christian theosophy with a cult of Venus as goddess of Nature and patron of alchemy.  It is strongly influenced by that epic of the pagan revival the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of Francesco Colonna.
The Rosicrucean enterprise belongs to the movement known as Pansophy – literally ‘all wisdom’ which combines the natural with the supernatural sciences for the betterment of the world…

There have been numerous attempts to attribute the Rosicrucian pamphlets and books to various men.  Valentin Andreas (1586-1654), for example, was postulated as one possible co-author of the pamphlets, although he was quick to distance himself from them. 

And one reason why we will probably never know the names, is that the writers had to carefully hide their tracks in order that they were not accused of heresy. If mystics and aspiring mystics thought that the introduction of Lutheranism would remove persecution for heresy, they were much mistaken.  And it was not the Lutherans themselves that were the problem.

Grant Wood - curtain twitching puritanism

Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition – Frances Yates

At Wittenberg, where Bruno stayed for two years from 1586 to 1588, we see him in the role of university teacher or professor, for the doctors of Wittenberg, to his unbounded delight and gratitude, accepted him and allowed him to teach in their schools.  In a dedication to the Wittenberg senate, he says that though he was
"a man of no name or authority among you, escaped from the tumults of France, supported by no princely commendation . . . you thought me worthy of the kindliest welcome, enrolled me in the album of your academy, and gave me a place in a body of men so noble and learned that I could not fail to see in you, neither a private school nor an exclusive conventicle, but, as becomes the Athens of Germany, a true university.
Luther's university passed the severe test of a visit from the Nolan with honours and he has nothing but good to say of it. He evidently liked the Lutherans very much better than the Calvinist heretics of France or the Puritan Anglicans. Unfortunately, whilst he was there a Calvinist party gained the upper hand over the party which favoured him, and this was when he left, at least that is what he told the Venetian inquisitors.

A Definition of Rosicrucianism

From this background, we can now deduce what Rosicrucianism is.  It is a mystical movement, whose members are following the spiritual path

They are all  involved in the Great Work.  All know or are attempting to establish their destiny.  All work anonymously, often alone and with a minimum of self-promotion.

They all aim to gain direct spiritual experience, with a recognition that the door may be opened by an event or activity that is one of overload.   In terms of the methods they use thereafter to achieve spiritual experience, they use only suppression based activities - in effect activities based on LOVE.

It is, however, important to note that love can involve platonic love, making love, sex magick and sexual stimulation.  For those who think that this should surely not need any secrecy in western society, then you were probably born way after the 1970s.  It may be educational to glance at the biography of one Alice Bunker Stockham.

grant wood - puritanical repression

Rosicrucians tend to be found where Puritanical repression and Christian fundamentalism has spread - thus in the USA in particular, in some parts of Europe and Scandinavia.

Anywhere that Christianity is found and where fundamentalism has gained a hold, where the Bible is taken literally, or where repression is still active, is likely to also find Rosicrucians.  If the sermons of the pastors still mention hell-fire and damnation, or condemn 'unbelievers', Rosicrucians will be active and in opposition.

In effect, wherever HATE is to be found, Rosicrucians will be found trying to counteract it.

But as it is a mystic movement and mystics unite rather than divide, its members have included people from all the other mystic groups –  the Sufis, the Alchemists and  the Kabbalists,  the Neoplatonists, and those who practise yoga and qigong for example, as well as Shinto. And this is because fundamentalism, hate and repression is a world-wide problem.

Rosicrucianism uses the universal symbolism and concepts which can be traced back to the  Greek Mysteries and Magic.  Its roots go back to the Egyptians and the Druids and Celts.  As I have frequently mentioned there is only one spiritual world.

Where are Rosicrucians most active today?

One way in which it is possible to gauge the level of Repression in any country is by their pornography industry.  Pornography is an indicator that its people do not have a healthy sex life.  They either have sex, but do not make love, or are getting no sex and/or no love.  As any industry tends to be first and foremost buoyed by its home market, we can judge where Repression is greatest and thus where Rosicrucians [or their equivalents] will be found trying to combat its effects, by looking at the revenues of the industry by country.

2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues
Country Revenue
(Billions)
Per Capita Notes
China $27.40 $27.41 1
South Korea $25.73 $526.76  
Japan $19.98 $156.75  
US $13.33 $44.67  
Australia $2.00 $98.70  
UK $1.97 $31.84  
Italy $1.40 $24.08  
Canada $1.00 $30.21  
Philippines $1.00 $11.18  
Taiwan $1.00 $43.41 1
Germany $.64 $7.77 1
Finland $.60 $114.70 1
Czech Republic $.46 $44.94 1
Russia $.25 $1.76 1
Netherlands $.20 $12.13  
Brazil $.10 $53.17 1
Other 212 Unavailable   2
  $97.06 Billion    
Notes 1=Incomplete, 2=Unavailable data

The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink

Example Rosicrucians of the past

 As you can thus see, there are potentially thousands upon thousands of people who might be termed Rosicrucians, but who would never admit to being one.  Over the years, many influential names have been associated with this 'movement' many of whom are on the site, for example:

  • Roger Bacon - who was also an alchemist and a scientist
  • Johannes Nicolaus Furichius - who was both a Rosicrucian and alchemist from Strasbourg
  • William Shakespeare  - who was probably an alchemist at one point until he acquired syphilis
  • Dr John Dee- who also practised magic and alchemy with Edward Kelley, his symbol the Monas hieroglyphica was first published in 1564 and enjoyed great popularity amongst the early Rosicruceans and alchemists as it provide a uniting symbol - a means of knowing the sheep from the goats as it were
  • Elias Ashmole -William Backhouse, an English Rosicrucian philosopher, alchemist, and astrologer is also best known for adopting Elias Ashmole as his son.
  • Robert Fludd - Fludd stated that he was not a member of the Rosicrucians, but he defended their thought. He produced a quick work, the Apologia Compendiaria, in 1615 against the claims of Libavius that the Rosicrucians indulged in 'heresy, diabolical magic and sedition'.   Fludd returned to the subject at greater length, the following year -  in 1616 Apologia Compendiaria; in 1617, Tractatus Apologeticus integritatem Societatis de Rosea Cruce defendens, and also in 1617 Tractatus Theologo-philosophicus, &c..  This last book is dedicated to the Rosicrucian Fraternity. It consists of three books, De Vita, De Morte, and De Resurrectione.
  • Michael Maier  - defended the Rosicrucians and made the firm statement that the Brothers of the R.C. exist to advance inspired arts and sciences including alchemy. Maier himself was an alchemist and a Rosicrucian
  • Grant Wood's "Arnold Comes of Age "
    Sâr Joséphin Péladan -  “an eccentric mystic and occultist”, defined himself as a modern Rosicrucian, stating he descended from the Persian Magi.  He was a key figure in the late 1800s, supporting many symbolist artists. 
    • Jean Delville, for example was influenced by a number of Péladan’s ideas, chief of which was that the ideal artist has a mission “to send light, spirituality and mysticism into the world”. He exhibited paintings in Péladan's Salons of the Rose + Croix between 1892 and 1895. 
    • Fernand Khnopff designed illustrations for the works of Péladan, and was invited as guest of honour on the exhibitions of the Parisian "Salon de la Rose + Croix" organised by Péladan. 
    • Carlos Schwabe  was another artist who benefited from Peladan’s support.  Schwabe designed the first poster of the Salon de la Rose-Croix and created a colour lithograph for the 1892 Salon de la Rose+Croix, the first of six exhibitions organized by Joséphin Péladan that "demonstrated the Rosicrucian tendencies of French Symbolism."
  • Louis-Claude de Saint Martin - came under the influence of Martinez de Pasqually, who taught him mysticism drawn from kabbalistic sources.  Pasqually had travelled extensively in the East and was known as ‘both a Kabbalist and Rosicrucian Initiate’ [there really isn’t any difference in reality]. Particularly interested in Masonry, he founded a Masonic Order in Paris.
  • Alexandre Saint-Yves, Marquess of Alveydre - a writer and practising French occultist and poet
  • Stanislas de Guaita  - a poet and founder of the Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian.
  • Thomas Vaughan – writing under the pseudonym of Philalethes was both an alchemist and a Rosicrucian.
  • Elsa Barker – was a member of the Theosophical Society  and was also initiated into the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega.
  • Max Heindel – who founded a group known as the Rosicrucian Fellowship
Grant Wood - Victorian age

There are also numerous groups, although there is no particular need to form, or be a part of, a group unless you feel you need a bit of moral support to tackle your destiny.

Example groups have included H Spencer Lewis’s AMORC (Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis); R Swinburne Clymer’s Fraternitas Rosae Crucis; Jan van Rijkenborgh’s Lectorium Rosicrucianum; and the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia which is an order within Freemasonry.  The Rosy Cross Unveiled by McIntosh provides an impartial account of these often rival movements.  It is worth stating that if they are rivals, their claim to be Rosicrucians is somewhat suspect.

A number of later 'religious societies' were formed around similar principles to the Rosicrucians, amongst these were: 

  • The Freemasons [Masonic order] – and other Masonic Rosicrucian groups.   The Freemasons are an off-shoot of the Rosicrucians, though many Freemason groups have long since lost these essentially mystic roots and become 'doers of good works'.  Love without the mysticism
  • The Golden Dawn - The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was an organization devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was active in Great Britain and focused its practices on theurgy and spiritual development

But being a Rosicrucian need involve no group and indeed your destiny may be more easily achieved by not being  part of a group. 

A true Rosicrucian needs no organisation, no society, no rule book, no plan of campaign, no missionary work or preaching,  no arguments, no factions, no splits, no sects, no set meeting places, no badges, no rewards, no titles   – just the Great Work. 

Note

It may be helpful after having read this section to also read the section on the Knights Templar.  

References

self portrait

The paintings used for this entry are mostly by Grant DeVolson Wood (February 13, 1891 – February 12, 1942), who was an American painter born four miles (6 km) east of Anamosa, Iowa. He is best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly the painting American Gothic, an iconic image of the 20th century. 

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding Wood's work and its meaning, but he certainly knew his symbolism - the trident as pitchfork, plant etc features in many of his paintings.

 

Observations

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