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- Category: Religion
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In Chambers Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions Rosicrucianism is described as an esoteric movement [i]i.e. one only understood by a particular group of people, therefore a sect with secret knowledge. It is often said to belong to no particular religious group, even as beyond religion, although there are associations with several, among them Judaism, Egyptian monotheism and Protestant Christianity. The Confraternity of Rosicrucians[ii], one of several groups, describes itself as a mystical, educational and cultural organization. Members of such groups are able, using special knowledge, only available to a very few, to be able to promote humanity to a better state of being both physically and spiritually. Yet today its web sites claim that membership is open to all who seek it. Which statement is the correct one?
The name Rosicrucian or its close equivalent is nowadays used by many groups and this can cause confusion as is admitted even by its members[iii]. Its symbol is the ’rosy cross’ i.e. a red rose superimposed upon a cross. According to the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis this symbol predates Christianity and has no religious connotation.[iv] The cross is said to represent man and the opening rose his awakening consciousness. Rosicrucians claim that this symbol reveals the meaning of the universe and in order to realize its possibilities in full and so become perfect, man must develop its capacity for love to include all sensible beings. At the same time mankind must enlarge its capacity for knowledge and understanding so that they could understand the laws that govern the universe. It is this secret knowledge and the pledges of secrecy made by members that makes this a difficult subject to study. Long before it was known as Rosicrucianism similar ideas were about. Greek philosophers and others who traveled to Egypt and other places in the Middle East and became initiates in the mystery schools.
They then brought their learning back to the Western world. Their ideas eventually became the Rosicrucian Order. In the 8th century C.E. the French philosopher Arnaud introduced mystical teaching into France, and from there they spread out gradually. People such as the Knights Templar, who had much contact with the Arab races, were among those who circulated the mysteries. They were often in the form of special symbolic language or disguised in the songs of troubadours. In the biography of Nicholas Flamel, a 14th century bookseller, we are told that when seeking to transmute gold he learnt as well how to transform himself, his soul, by the reading of the book of Abraham the Jew, a book which contained many injunctions about unworthy people not reading it.[v]
The Order spread across the European continent in the 17th century following the publication in Germany of three short texts in 1614 and 1615. These were linked to Protestantism, the rose being one of their symbols. Luther’s seal was a rose with a red cross superimposed upon it and it is known that Luther spent much of 1521 and 1522 at Wartburg, which may have been the birthplace of Rosenkreutz. The documents were entitled Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, Confessio Fraternitatis, and Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. This last Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654), a clergyman, claimed as his own work in his autobiography describing it as a mere youthful trifle and an attempt to ridicule the then current persuit of interest in the occult.
The Rosy cross was both an ancient symbol of the occult and makes up part of Andreae’s family coat of arms. Andreae denounced Rosicrucianism publicly describing it as a folly.The Chymical Wedding is believed to be based in part upon the marriage of Frederick V, the Elector Palatine to Elizabeth, daughter of King James I of England and is said to be an allegory of Rosenkreutz’s spiritual journey and change. The soul (the bride) is described as being united with God ( the bridegroom)[vi] according to a document produced by American Rosicrucians in 2001.[vii] Symbolically Rosenkreutz’s entry into the order of the Red Cross is linked to Frederick, who, upon his marriage became a Knight of the Garter, the symbol of which order is the red Cross of Saint George.
These texts, which were in German, were claimed at the time to be the work of Christian Rosenkreutz ( 1378 – 1484) founder of the order of the Rosy Cross. Rosenkreutz had claimed occult powers that he had gained from knowledge obtained in the east. Despite this he chose to wrap his ideas in the language of the most prominent movement of his day and the one he was familiar with, Christianity, despite the fact the Rosicrucianism to most people cannot really be described as Christian mysticism. It is no wonder he kept his new found ideas secret at first when one considers how in the preceding centuries new ideas had been suppressed and how many had died in horrible ways when thought to be promoting ideas considered at the time heretical. The Catholic Encyclopaedia[viii] describes Rosenkreutz as a former monk who had travelled to places such as Fez in Morocco, Damascus and Jerusalem and who had been initiated into Eastern magic practices. In Spain he learnt about the Cabbala or Kabala, a kind of occult theosophy or traditional interpretation making use of both Jewish and Chrisitian ideas. It was a method of interpreting the scriptures in a symbolic way using ciphers.
Hermann Gruber,writer of the Encyclopedic article, describe Rosenkreutz’s ideal religion as an anti-papacy mix of Christianity and theosophy and as a fraud. Modern
Rosicrucians describe the documents as a response to the churches oppression and suppression of knowledge and new thinking.
Initially it is believed that there were only 3 members of the order plus Rosenkreutz, these three being some of his fellow monks. Later this was extended to 8 members, although the web site Rosicrucian Fundamentals claims that there were 12 plus Rosenkreutz, giving at least a nominal link to Christ and his disciples. They have been described as ‘ high spiritual beings who had advanced far beyond ordinary man in purity and spiritual wisdom.’ [ix] They included the scientists of their day – alchemists, mathematicians and doctors. These were ‘invisible’ in that their actions were not known to others. Each was required to find a successor so that the knowledge they had could be perpetuated.
They were isolated form each other only meeting once a year at the secret headquarters known as The Edifice of the Holy Spirit a building created by the original members. These ’invisibles’ were said to be seeking a time when the church would be purified. They agreed originally that their activities should remain secret for one hundred years in order that they could fully explore the philosophy before exposing it more generally. That time was now long over. The pamphlets, addressed to men of learning, were invitations to join the order. One idea , found in the book ‘Rosicrucian Questions and Answers’ by H. Spencer Lewis ( page 121) is that they were in fact written by Francis Bacon, who according to Lewis was leader of the Rosicrucians in England at the time.
The leaflets asked people to openly favor the cause, and to ask for entrance into the fraternity, though certain only chosen souls would be admitted. Their manifesto was called Fama Fraternitatis which can be translated as ‘brotherly tradition’ or ‘report’ or even ‘rumor’. The document was addressed to leaders in politics, religion and science calling for universal reform. It was a cry of shame on those who used their authority, especially that of religion or the arts to defraud other or merely in order to accumulate wealth and power. The document describes the travels of the then 16 year old Rosenkreutz in Islamic lands such as Morocco, Arabia and Egypt where wise men revealed to him what was described as ‘universal harmonic science’. Before this point, Rosenkreutz, an impoverished member of the nobility had received some training with the Jesuit order. Another idea states that Rosenkreuz may have found his secrets amongst the Brethren of Purity, a group of philosophers that originated in Iraq in the last years of the first millenium C.E.
The group had belief in Islamic theology but had faith in something they refered to as ’The Divine Reality’. The leaflets produced tremendous reaction. For the first time magic and alchemy were discussed openly by people of all ranks. The power of the church to stifle enquiry was limited by the disputes within its ranks brought about by the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. Besides this more people than ever before could read these writings for themselves. There were numerous writings produced , both for and against the movement. Scholars such as Descartes and Leibniz, sought and failed to obtain membership or even to discover who the members were. Despite all this, and whether or not one considers the group to have had dubious origins and ideas, from this time on philosophy, the sciences an d a freedom to think as one felt led flourished – the Renaissance had arrived.
According to Maurice Magre in his book ‘Magicians, Seers, and Mystics’, Rosenkreutz was descended from the Germelshausens, a German family whose castle stood on the border of Hesse. The family held Albigensian beliefs which are a combination of both pagan and Christian beliefs. Magre descibes them as Western Buddists.
The Rosicrucian Archive [x] claims that Rosenkreutz wanted to initiate people into an ancient tradition of which he was master rather than founder. According to the 18th century Rosicrucian group known as the Golden and Rosy Cross, the Rosicrucian Order was created much earlier in the year 46 when an Alexandrian Gnostic sage named Ormus was converted by Mark, a Christian. Rosicrucianism was supposedly a fusion of early Christian and Egyptian mysteries. H.Spencer Lewis in his 1929 book [xi] ( page 29) describes its birth as being concieved in the Great White Lodge of ancient Egypt while Max Hiendel in his 1909 book ‘The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception’ gives his book the subtitle ‘Mystic Christianity’ which would logically place its origins rather later.
The successors of the original initiates, probably German Protestants, are said to have then revealed the existence of the order in 1614, some ten years later than the opening of the allegorical crypt of Rosenkreutz which some followers claim was the true beginning of the group. The crypt was said to have contained Rosenkreutz’s uncorrupted corpse together with a number of other items including texts. The phrase used to describe this is ‘brought into the light’. The Archive writer claims that the Rosy Cross has both obvious symbolic and hidden meanings and that it is knowledge of the hidden or secret meaning that is the key to understanding Rosicrucianism. The Archive writer goes on to say that the first pamphlet should be considered as a mythological lesson that proclaims the need in society to establish a traditional institution in order to guide humanity towards spiritual truth and their personal enlightenment guided as they are by a search for ‘The Truth Within’ whatever that may be. The ideas were taken up by Queen Christina of Sweden among others.[xii]It was a time of questioning old beliefs and practices – the church was in turmoil and so an ideal time to promote new ideas of reform and renewal.
The Archive states that Rosicrucians are full of love, compassion and tolerance and live their lives according not to the usual human standards, but according to esoteric and spiritual ones.
In whatsoever place they may be, they know all things which are going
on in the rest of the world better than if they were present; they are not
subject to hunger or thirst, and have neither age nor disease to fear.[xiii]
Rosicrucianism is first recorded in France was 1623, when a placard appeared on walls in Paris proclaiming that:-
We, the deputies of our chief college of the Brethren of the Rosy Cross,
now sojourning, visible and invisible, in this town, do teach, in the name
of the Most High, towards whom the hearts of the Sages turn, every science, without either books, symbols, or signs, and we speak the language of
country in which we tarry, that we may extricate our fellow-men from error and destruction.
This was one version, although there were several slightly different ones. One version offered much more than mere knowledge :-
We will transform them from visible beings into invisible, and from
invisible into visible, and they shall be transported into every foreign country
to which their desire may lead them. [xiv]
These statements attracted interest of both a positive and a negative kind. It seems that students were interested, but quickly came to the conclusion that there was nothing in it for them. At the same time few denounced it openly in case this backfired on them. On the one side there were those who said the members of the group must be especially holy and that it was the Holy Spirit who gave them the gift of speaking in languages they had never learnt. Others saw it as the work of the devil. Numerous claims were made about members of the group e.g. that they never aged, that they had a book which revealed all knowledge that was in other books and that God protected them by making them invisible to their enemies. It was a time of great unrest and political as well as religious wars in Europe and here were a groups of apparently wise men offering solutions.
A lawyer who sought the gift of invisibility was said to have been taken to a secret rendezvous where he was obliged to write on a paper stating ‘I renounce my self’. He was required to renounce all previous beliefs and then was supposedly given the gift of invisibility which depended upon him making homage twice a day to Satan. After various other ceremonies including being stripped naked and covered with ointment he was returned to the place where he started. We are then told he dived into the river and was drowned thus rendering him invisible – but if so who recorded the events? Whoever it was recorded several other events of a similar type which ended in the death of the would be initiate.
Supposedly the group met in Lyon in June 1623 and there Asteroth, usually considered to be a demon in ancient mythology, appeared to them as a messenger of the Most High. At this meeting members were commissioned to go out into Catholic countries, having renounced any belief in Christ or the practices of the church. There is a passage about the group who arrived in Paris. They found it very difficult to make any headway there and despite promises soon ran out of funds. It is they who put up the various proclamations, but judging by the different wordings recorded they seem to have been to some extent working independently one from the other. What was known in the 17th century as the “Fraternity of the Rose Cross was, according to some scholars a number of isolated individuals who held as their only bond the sharing of certain views that they held in common.
On the web page ‘Heretics and the Renaissance’[xv] it describes how in the South of France, the area known as the Midi, the priests were often extremely negligent and it says that heresies such as Rosicrucianism were directed against false doctrines and abuses in practice that were going on. Michael Maier, Count Palatine, born in 1668 was one of the most prominent defenders of the Rosicrucians, clearly giving details about the “Brothers of the Rose Cross” in his writings.He stated firmly that the Brothers of the Rosy Cross exist in order to advance the arts and sciences, including alchemy. His writings point toward a symbolic and spiritual alchemy rathr than the transformation of base metal into gold, the secret of which was being sought by many.
Maier spent time at the court of James Ist and so his ideas became known in England; ideas which are said to have influenced Sir Isaac Newton. On the other hand, in 1623 Gabriel Naudé published “Instruction à la France sur la vérité de l’Histoire des Frères de la Roze-Croix,” which begins by stating that the French are quick to take up and to follow every new idea however ridiculous. He claimed that Rosicrucian writings were totally incomprehensible and therefore useless. His book is believed to have acted as a preventative against the spread of these new ideas. This, and, according to De Quincy,[xvi]the general distrust of religion of the French people. They became much persecuted, few willing to speak out in their defense. Apparently anyone who refused to give or could not give a good account of himself was in danger of stoning, so scared were citizens of the group. This went on for a period of about two years after which it all gradually faded away.
An idea put about at the time was that the members of the order fled east in order to avoid forthcoming war. In Prague in 1710 Samuel Ritcher, an alchemist, founded the secret society of ‘The Golden and Rosy Cross’ or ‘Gold und Rosenkreuzer’. He was otherwise known as Sincerus Renatus. This brotherhood was composed of internal circles, secret signs of recognition as in Freemasonry and was based upon alchemy treatises. According to the group’s legends the Rosicrucian Order was founded by an Egyptian “Ormusse” or “Licht-Weise” who migrated to Scotland. This group apparently fell into obeyance until brought to the forefront again as Freemasonry by no less a person than Oliver Cromwell. The group are said to have produced in the late 18th century ‘Geheime Figuren’ or “The Secret Symbols of the 16th and 17th century Rosicrucians”.
Rosicrucians today claim[xvii] that while Rosicrucians have often had to operate in secret, but that it was never a secret society. Any secrecy, according to the Order of Rosicrucians, an order open to both men and women of any creed or race, was simply in order to preserve the life enhancing knowledge of which they are the guardians and for which in earlier times members died in order to perpetuate. They state plainly that they are not a political group, members being free to follow their individual political leanings which are not talked about in the group meetings. This is rather different to earlier times when entry to the order was quite restricted and selected. Several writers, philosophers and notable people of the time became curious and then became infuriated because entrance into these secret meetings, and all that they offered, was denied to them.
The group is often linked to Freemasonry. The Rosy Cross is certainly used in some Freemasonry rituals.[xviii] There is speculation that Robert Fludd , a 16th century Anglican and yet at the same time a great supporter of Rosicrucianism, introduced Rosicrucianism into Freemasonry though it is possible that there are links with Comenicus who visited England during the 1640’s, Comenius was a Czech clergyman of the Moravian church in the Huttite tradition. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia Comenius[xix] did not believe that religion and science were separate. He said ‘We may hope that an Art of Arts, a Science of Sciences, a Wisdom of Wisdom, a Light of Light’ shall at length be possessed.’[xx] [xxi] Rosicrucians would say that this light was the universal truth to be found in all religions. Linda Shrigner on the web page ‘Bacon’s Secret Society’ claims that the illustrious British institution The Royal Society had its origins in Rosicrucian ideas.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries several groups called themselves Rosicrucian. Most of these said that they were the authentic heirs of historical Rosicrucian tradition. The majority of modern Rosicrucians believe in the study of Spiritual Astrology with a stress on spiritual development and self-knowledge, as well a means of producing healing through Astro-Diagnosis. These groups include the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) a group whose aims are the investigation and study of natural and spiritual laws and their practical application, the Confraternity of the Rose Cross (CR+C), Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, the Rosicrucian Fellowship, the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, Societas Rosicruciana, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia among others. [xxii]
That being said S. L. MacGregor Mathers, who describes himself as the External Head of the True Order[xxiii] has strong words to say about those whom he claims are misusing the name Rosicrucian in order to make money. He stresses the need for secrecy, although he admits that this is in opposition to what Americans see as being open and above board. He claims that secrecy is still necessary in order to protect people from imposters, an argument he doesn’t really follow through. His point is that this true wisdom cannot be easily understood, whatever certain groups say and promote. He claims that true Rosicrucianism, although not opposed to the church, includes people of many religions. He goes on to say that his group does not claim descent from the European group, merely seeing them as a branch, one of many.
Although some believe that modern Rosicrucians have no direct links with those of the past[xxiv] but are simply followers of the same ideas, the movement continues today with, for instance, two groups in America, the Societas Rosicruciana in America, in New York State, and the Ancient and Mystical Order of Rosae Crucis of California while Rosicrucians in the United Kingdom[xxv] offer on their web page an understanding of self, an affinity with like minds, powerful self development and access to ancient knowledge. It claims as its goal the awakening of individual potential. This is to be used both for self improvement and for the benefit of mankind in general.
It says it is scientifically orientated, yet at the same time says it does not teach science. Their ‘science’ is concerned with development of the self. This it sees as in opposition to much of modern science which is more concerned with exact measurement in order to prove some physical truth, rather than speculations by observers. They talk about the way in which we are all individuals giving the example of color which different people observe in different ways and which doesn’t actually exist except as a perception. This fits in with the saying of Roger Bacon, a 13th century Franciscan :-
The strongest arguments prove nothing so long as the conclusions are
not verified by experience. Experimental science is the queen of sciences
and the goal of all speculation.
Some speculate that Rosenkreutz was merely a pseudonym used by Roger Bacon.[xxvi], but in The Rosicrucian Manual it is Sir Francis Bacon, a 17th century Englishman, whose portrait is included ( page 9) said to have been imperator in the 17th century with Michael Maier as his deputy. Francis Bacon’s dates are 1561 to 1626 which does fit with the possibility of him being behind the release of the pamphlets and Maier would have spoken German and had obvious links with German Protestants. Maier’s dates are 1568 to 1622.
The Californian group produced a new manifesto in 2001. This they say is in order to reveal their position regarding humanity, and to bring to light what are described as ‘the threats that lie heavy on it’ as well as the hopes they have for it. The movement still attracts opposition as on the web site New World Order [xxvii]which claims that the movement has always largely been concerned with the gaining of material power on the material plane and is a twisted version of ancient Gnostic teachings.
The same site claims that Rosicrucians are concerned with the control of the mind – whether of the self or of others. Initiates are taught to accept both positive and negative things as being the same and the one being necessary for the other – e.g. there cannot be light without darkness. This philosophy can lead to such ideas as that which says that war and unhappiness are balanced by peace and happiness elsewhere and so there would be no attempt to prevent wars or poverty or other things that most people perceive as negative. The same site makes the claim that the repression of any normal human moral feelings can only have negative effects. The Theosophy movement, which it claims had its roots in Rosicrucianism, was, according to the writers of this web page, the basis on which Holocaust ideology was built.
Modern Rosicrucian web sites still stress the idea of ancient and secret knowledge. However these modern groups have been described as pseudo – Rosicrucianism in that direct links with the original order don’t apparently exist so how was the knowledge passed on? There is an American group of Masonic Rosicrucians who claim direct descent from the original fraternity. A member of a Canadian group with similar claims has however put in writing the following statement :-
You are aware that the Rosicrucian order of which we are Supreme Magi
pretends to represent the older fraternity of the Rose Croix which flourished
the first fifteen years of the 17th century. [xxviii]
In order to be acceptable perhaps to changes in society, groups such as the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis admits that although some of its teaching goes right back in time to ancient Egypt in 1,500 B.C.E. it has also moved with the times. The Order claims that the pyramids of Giza were not built as tombs for the pharaohs, but were in fact places of study of the ancient mysteries. I t is said to be neither religion nor a single philosophy, but the accumulated thoughts of great minds through the ages. They claim to teach knowledge not available through normal education or through conventional religion and offers specific knowledge of such subjects as metaphysics, mysticism, philosophy, psychology, parapsychology and science.
This knowledge is available it says to all with an open mind and positive attitude. Initiation is described as milestones on a mystical path or rungs on a ladder of consciousness. It is claimed that such ceremonies produce a state of awareness, a level of consciousness otherwise impossible to achieve. Belonging is to be seen as a special privilege despite the fact that it is apparently open to all. Rosicrucian Fundamentals claim that by 1908 the world was more ready to receive the secret knowledge and so in that year Max Heindel, a Dane, was chosen to take the message to America. He published ‘The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception’, a book described as containing the Western Wisdom Teachings, and which was later translated into many languages.
He also founded the Rosicrucian Fellowship, a group which describes itself as an International Fellowship of Christian Mystics. He is described as preparing mankind for the coming age of Aquarius, the Age of Universal Brotherhood.[xxix] They state as their aims to promote both healing and the Gospel, but do this through the Wisdom Teachings. Despite the mention of the gospel they make use of terms such as Astro-diagnosis and Spiritual Astrology. Discussing the differences between Rosicrucian theology and more orthodox beliefs they say that rather than man being a created being he is part of God. The description that follows is of a soul being re-born over and over in an attempt to gain omnipotence. This is more akin to Buddhist or Hindu ideas than Christianity. They say that it is unjust for one person to have good opportunities in one life only while someone else has a very poor experience and that is only if we have similar opportunities that we can be judged fairly. They teach therefore that we are placed in this life wherever we need to be according to the experiences we had in previous existences.
The idea of light remains important – to members of this fellowship this is emphasized in the form of an aura of light that protects the person from harm, magic spells, the draining of psychic strength and even vampirism. This is described as the armor of the Spirit to be used whenever necessary. To gain it is apparently simple – the willing of and the formation in the mind of a clear light surrounding the body. This white light is to be seen as an indication of the presence the Spirit, described as the master of all things.[xxx] The group claims to be entirely Christian despite the many differences to more orthodox beliefs. They say that they are trying to bring Christianity to those who cannot achieve it by faith alone – a statement that is in contrast to Bible verse such as “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV[xxxi]
We see then that there remain some links with Christianity, although anyone from a mainline church reading what Rosicrucians are said to believe about the person of Jesus might find that it differs considerably from what the average Christian believes and shows clearly its Gnostic origins.[xxxii]
There are other groups of course such as the Rose Cross Order, a brotherhood of those seeking truth and ‘dedicated to the transmission of knowledge’ according to its web page and Serene Imperator [xxxiii] who describes the movement as a School of Light. It is concerned it says with the relationship between all peoples, the laws of the universe and with God, however he is known and called. The Imperator’s description of the Rosy Cross is that it represents a fully developed human being, one capable of controlling their own destiny, a state reached only by study and practice. There are those who would distinguish between The Rosy Cross and Rosicrucianism, claiming that the former is a sort of disguise to protect true Rosicrucianism. The red color of the rose is said to symbolize sacrifice – the sacrifice of the self for the better evolvement of mankind in general. The word ‘ros’ is Latin for dew and represents the true essence refined through transcendent processes.
This dew is said to be part of all things – pantheism according to the Confraternity of Rosicrucianism, unlike most groups which rather stress their links with Christianity. They are a group who state that learning comes from within the individual and so they seek to rather awaken the mind and teach it how to think rather than impose knowledge, and so they assist the acquisition of knowledge and help the student to become independent in his thinking ad capable of forming his own beliefs. Compare this to the style of the church in earlier times which taught doctrines more or less by rote in the Catechism. It is no wonder that such teaching was attractive when first introduced. Their belief is that omnipotence, knowledge as of God whatever name we give to him, can be acquired through direct experience. According to the Confraternity this does not require either psychic abilities or a fully evolved intellectual understanding despite the claims made elsewhere that it is only for those capable of understanding.
The possession of secret knowledge has always been something certain people have sought after. The Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis has on its web page [xxxiv]‘The Key to Universal Wisdom, Discover how extraordinary you really are.’ It claims to be able to answer questions such as ‘Who am I?’, ‘What is my purpose?’ With statements and promises such as this it is no wonder that the movement, whatever its origins and history, still has an attraction for some. The group was founded by Dr Spencer Lewis, who was given power to restart the Order by authorities in France who were said to be the custodians of the authentic ancient Rosicrucian heritage.
The finding of answers to question such as these is described as ‘a home coming’ and the group states that this is not about the gaining of wealth and power. This wisdom is said to have been available since the days of the early Mesopotamians. Some would take this even further back saying that it dates back to the Garden of Eden where Adam received wisdom from God. Other links are to Akhenatan, the Egyptian pharaoh who introduced, for his short reign at least, monotheism to Egypt. This was seen as being in opposition to the establishment especially the priesthood. Despite opposition the mystery schools are said to have continued and passed their secret knowledge on to the Greeks and also to Hebrew scholars. According to Lewis in ‘Rosicrucian Questions and Answers’ the Egyptian hieroglyphics were an early attempt to make their knowledge permanent. The same writer [xxxv] defines mystery as unknown or not widely known rather than secret. He mentions the
Osiris school of mysteries as being one of the most popular schools of thought with their many rites and ceremonies and their ideas about immortality. The truths they believed would not be plainly described, but would be presented as dramas seeking to promote the
kind of living that would ensure a good after life.
Links are claimed to groups such as the Essenes who thrived in and about the Ist century C.E. and who had possible links to John the Baptist and through him to Jesus. It is said that the Essenes propagated the mysteries as what we now know as Gnostic wisdom. Much of this knowledge was held in the Great Library of Alexandria and so was lost when this was destroyed by fire after religious riots. Scholars were forced into hiding and are said from this time on to have transmitted its knowledge in secret and often in cipher or in symbolic language, unintelligible to all but a few. Rosicrucian sources link this transmission with the Knights Templar. As a group they held tremendous political power, and so were eventually brought down by the greater power of the church.
Max Hiendel describes Rosicrucian teaching as non-controversial,[xxxvi] a controversial statement in itself. For instance in the Rosicrucian Manual, page 47, under benefits of belonging are listed attunement with the universal mind and, described as a secret benefit, is what is described as ‘the outstanding lights’ a phrase that is not elaborated on. Members are encouraged to give up any former ideas and ideologies. The manual makes clear ( page 49) that those who claim to already have some knowledge of the mystic and occult are never admitted into membership. Despite this claim on page 159 of the same book we are told that the average member , in fact 98%, already had 4 years study of something similar behind them, some having studied for as long as 20 years. When there is such a discrepancy within one volume it makes it difficult to accept other statements given as facts.
Despite its long history, however long that may be according to which version is
followed, this is a group or groups are ones that much of the world still has not made up its mind. It is no wonder there is speculation and confusion – symbols used for instance include everything from yin and yang, the pentagram long associated with witchcraft, the seal of Solomon and the structure of the radium atom among others.[xxxvii] The same book includes everything from general good advice and anatomy lessons to psychic awakening.
The ‘Book of Rosicruciae’ claims a number of famous people among those it says are members of the order e.g. George Washington, John Brown and Abraham Lincoln,[xxxviii] although strangely the site only names one European member. It may be more open than in previous centuries, but there are still secrets to be learnt by only the few. Still there are those who strive for improvement and in some ways little has changed over the centuries, except perhaps that it can now be studied as a distance learning subject taking only one and a half hours a week. Is membership open to all? It
rather depends upon which book or web site you consult. This is not one group, but many. They may claim similar ideals, but when it comes to facts they vary considerably not just in the facts, but also in their interpretation of them and how they affect and have affected society. Yet the ‘Rosicrucian Question and Answer book’ ( Page 311) tells us that ’No discovery or revelation therefore of a truth can be inconsistent with what is already known to the Rosicrucians.’ The claim by Lewis is that discoveries by people such as Einstein had been known by Rosicrucians for centuries. At the time ( page 308) we are told by Lewis that the study of ancient ideas in their original form is often of no value and that teaching has evolved as new principles become known. If this group are really seeking to benefit mankind why keep knowledge such a secret? Lewis claims that secrets were not kept because in fact the most eminent people in every field of study were Rosicrucians and that their teachings are far in advance of science.
It is easy to understand why in earlier times there was such a need for secrecy in times when authority, whether secular or religious, was intolerant of those who thought differently from the majority. Today religious tolerance is at least nominally accepted in many countries, new scientific ideas are properly tested and so on. The need for secrecy has gone. If this group really can make such a positive contribution to society as they claim they should be open about it, but it seems that this is a gradual process, not yet complete.
Bible, New International Version, Hodder and Stoughton, London 1984
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[i] Chambers Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions, page 446
[ii] Confraternity of Rosicrucians http://www.crcsite.org/faq.htm#q1
[iii] Lewis, H.S. Rosicrucian Questions and Answers page 141
[iv] Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis http://www.rosicrucian.org/about/mastery/mastery08history.html
[v] Nicholas Flamel http://www.alchemylab.com/flamel.htm
[viii] Catholic Encyclopedia, Rosicrucians http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13193b.htm
[ix] Rosicrucian fundamentals http://www.rosicrucian.com/zineen/pamen019.htm
[x] Rosicrucian Archive http://www.crcsite.org/rosicrucianism.htm
[xi] Lewis, H.S. Rosicrucian Questions and Answers
[xii] The alchemy web site, http://www.levity.com/alchemy/queen_christina.html
[xiii] Quoted on web page Rosicrucianism in France http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/rhr/rhr29.htm
6.Quoted on web page Rosicrucianism in France http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/rhr/rhr29.htm
[xiv] Quoted on web page Rosicrucianism in France http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/rhr/rhr29.htm
[xv] Heretics and the Renaissance http://www.blavatsky.net/magazine/theosophy/ww/additional/ListOfCollatedArticles/TheTroubadours.html
[xvi] Quoted on web page Rosicrucianism in France http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/rhr/rhr29.htm
[xvii] Rosicrucian Order http://www.amorc.org.uk/html/secretive_.html
[xviii] Rosicrucians http://www.crystalinks.com/rosicrucian.html
[xix] Comenius , J.A. Columbia Encyclopedia http://www.bartleby.com/65/co/Comenius.html
[xx] Comenius , J.A. ’The way of light ‘Amsterdam 1668
[xxi] Bacon’s Secret Society http://geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/2216/Ephrata_Presentation/60b_Ephrata.htm
[xxii] List of modern Rosicrucian groups found at http://www.crystalinks.com/rosicrucian.html
[xxiii] Mathers, S.L.M. The True Rosicrucian http://altreligion.about.com/library/texts/bl_truerosicrucian.htm
[xxiv] Rosicrucians http://www.crystalinks.com/rosicrucian.html
[xxv] Rosicrucian Order http://www.amorc.org.uk/
[xxvi] Rosicrucians http://www.crystalinks.com/rosicrucian.html
[xxvii] New World Order http://www.geocities.com/newworldorder_themovie/rosicrucianism.html
[xxviii] Prince Rhodokanakis , Masonic Rosicrucianism in Canada http://sric-canada.org/history.html
[xxix] Rosicrucian Fellowship http://www.rosicrucian.com/
[xxx] The Protective Aura http://www.rosicrucian.com/zineen/p_aura.htm
[xxxi] New International Version, The Bible
[xxxii] Rosicrucian Fundamentals http://www.rosicrucian.com/zineen/pamen019.htm
[xxxiv] Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis http://www.rosicrucian.org/about/mastery/index.html
[xxxv] Rosicrucian Manual, page 31
[xxxvi] Heindel, M. The Rosicrucian Cosmo Conception, page 9
[xxxvii] Rosicrucian Manual, part 7
[xxxviii] The Book of Rosicruciae http://www.soul.org/Famous%20Rosicrucians.html