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The Rosicrucians are a legendary and secretive order dating from the 15th or 17th century, generally associated with the symbol of the Rose Cross, which is also used in certain rituals of the Freemasons. Several modern societies have been formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and allied subjects, but in no sense are they directly derived from the "Brethren of the Rosy Cross" of the 17th century, though they are keen followers thereof.
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History & Origins
According to the legend, the Rosicrucian order was founded in 1407 by a German named Christian Rosencreutz (1378-1484), who studied in the Holy Land under various occult masters. During his lifetime, the order was alleged to be small, consisting of no more than eight members. When Rosencreuz died in 1484, the order died out, only to be "reborn" in the early 17th century. This legend is accepted to varying degrees by modern Rosicrucians, with some accepting it as literal truth, others seeing it as a parable, and yet others believing Rosenkreuz to be a pseudonym for some more famous historical figure (Francis Bacon is often suggested.)
According to a lesser known legend found in Masonic literature, the Rosicrucian order was created in 46 C.E. when an Alexandrian Gnostic sage named Ormus and his six followers were converted by Mark, one of Jesus' disciples. From this conversion, Rosicrucianism was born by fusing primitive Christianity with Egyptian mysteries. Rosencreuz would therefore only have been initiated into and become the Grand Master of an already existing order instead of being its founder.
In point of fact, what was known in the early 17th century as the "Society of Rosicrucians" (Rosenkreuzer) was most likely a number of isolated individuals who held certain views in common (which apparently was their only bond of union). There is no trace of a society holding meetings, or having officers. So far as the numerous works are concerned, it is evident that the writers who posed as Rosicrucians were moral and religious reformers, and utilized the technicalities of chemistry (alchemy), and the sciences generally, as media through which to make known their opinions. Their writings included a flavour of mysticism or occultism promotive of inquiry and suggestive of hidden meanings discernible or discoverable only by adepts.
The publication of The Fama Fraternitas of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross (1614), The Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity (1615), and The Chemical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz (1616) caused immense excitement throughout Europe, and they not only led to many re-issues, but were followed by numerous pamphlets, favourable and otherwise, whose authors generally knew little of the real aims of the original author (and doubtless in not a few cases amused themselves at the expense of the public). It is probable that the first work was circulated in manuscript for about 1610, according to historical records, but if so, there was no mention of the cult before that decade. In fact, research indicates that all three documents, including the concept of the Rosicrucian Order, were probably the creation of theologian Johann Valentin Andrea (1586-1654). He subsequently described rosicrucianism as a Ludibrium.
The authors of the Rosicrucian works generally favoured Lutheranism as opposed to Roman Catholicism. Others, like John Heydon, admitted they were not Rosicrucians, but under attractive and suggestive titles to their works sought to make Hermeticism and other curious studies more useful and popular, and succeeded, for a time at least.
The curious legend, in which the fabulous origin of the so-called society was enshrined (Christian Rosenkreuz had discovered the secret wisdom of the East on a pilgrimage in the 15th century), was so improbable, though ingenious, that the genesis of the Rosicrucians was generally overlooked or ignored in the writings of the time.
Influence on Freemasonry
The influence that Rosicrucianism had in the modernizing of ancient Freemasonry early in the 18th century must have been slight, if any, though it is likely that as the century advanced, and additional ceremonies were grafted on to the first three degrees, Rosicrucian tenets were occasionally introduced into the later rituals. So far, however, as the real foundation ceremonies of Craft Masonry are concerned, whether before or after the premier Grand Lodge was formed, it is most unlikely that such a society as the Freemasons would adopt anything of a really distinctive character from any other organization.
Rosicrucian is a term that is also used to describe an idea, icon, person or group that is simultaneously Christian and trans-Christian. For example, a cult that centers around the Virgin Mary yet openly or secretly identifies her to the Virgo constellation of the Zodiac.
In The Muses' Threnodie by H. Adamson (Perth, 1638) are the lines: "For what we do presage is riot in grosse, for we are brethren of the Rosie Crosse; We have the Mason Word and second sight, Things for to come we can fortell aright."
- 1614: Fama Fraternitatis
- 1615: Confessio Fraternitatis
- 1616: Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz (not Chemical)
In 1623 the Rose-Croix of Paris placed mysterious posters on walls. The posters included the text: "We, the Deputies of the Higher College of the Rose-Croix, do make our stay, visibly and invisibly, in this city (...)" and "The thoughts attached to the real desire of the seeker will lead us to him and him to us".
Between 1614 and 1620 about 400 manuscripts and books published which discussed the Rose-Croix documents.
In 2001 (Rosicrucian Year 3354), Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) published the Positio Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, various groups styled themselves Rosicrucian. Almost all claimed to be authentic heirs to a historical Rosicrucian tradition.
- Confraternity of the Rose Cross
- Fraternitas Rosae Crucis
- Societas Rosicruciana
- Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship
- Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia
- Rosicrucian Fellowship
- Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross
- Rosicrucian Lectorium
- and others.
Aleister Crowley on Rosicrucianism
"There is in history only one movement whose object has been to organize the isolated adepts of the White School of Magick, and this movement was totally unconnected with religion, except in so far as it lent its influence to the reformers of the Christian church. Its appeal was not at all to the people. It merely offered to open up relations with, and communicate certain practical secrets of wisdom to, isolated men of science through Europe. This movement is generally known by the name of Rosicrucianism.
"The word arouses all sorts of regrettable correspondences; but the adepts of the Society have never worried themselves in the least about the abuse of their name for the purposes of charlatanism, or about the attacks directed against them by envious critics. Indeed, so wisely have they concealed their activities that some modern scholars of the shallower type have declared that no such movement ever existed, that it was a kind of practical joke played upon the curiosity of the credulous Middle Ages. It is at least certain that, since the original proclamations, no official publications have been put forward. The essential secrets have been maintained inviolate. If, during the last few years, a considerable number of documents have been published by them, though not in their name, it is on account of the impending crisis to civilization, of which mention will later be made.
"There is no good purpose, even were there license, to discuss the nature of the basis of scientific attainment which is the core of the doctrines of the Society. It is only necessary to point out that its correspondence with alchemy is the one genuine fact on the subject which has been allowed to transpire; for the Rosicrucian, as indicated by his central symbol, the barren cross on which he has made a rose to flower, occupies himself primarily with spiritual and physiological alchemy. Taking for 'The First Matter of the Work' a neutral or inert substance (it is constantly described as the commonest and least valued thing on earth, and may actually connote any substance whatever) he deliberately poisons it, so to speak, bringing it to a stage of transmutation generally called the Black Dragon, and he proceeds to work upon this virulent poison until he obtains the perfection theoretically possible." --Magick Without Tears chapter VIII
"It is here desirable to warn the reader against the numerous false orders which have impudently assumed the name of Rosicrucian. The Masonic Societas Rosicruciana is honest and harmless; and makes no false pretences; if its members happen as a rule to be pompous busy-bodies, enlarging the borders of their phylacteries, and scrupulous about cleansing the outside of the cup and the platter; if the masks of the Officers in their Mysteries suggest the Owl, the Cat, the Parrot, and the Cuckoo, while the Robe of their Chief Magus is a Lion's Skin, that is their affair. But those orders run by persons 'claiming' to represent the True Ancient Fraternity are common swindles. The representatives of the late S. L. Mathers (Count McGregor) are the phosphorescence of the rotten wood of a branch which was lopped off the tree at the end of the 19th century. Those of Papus (Dr. Encausse), Stanislas de Guaita and Peladan, merit respect as serious, but lack full knowledge and authority. The 'Ordo Rosae Crucis' is a mass of ignorance and falsehood, but this may be a deliberate device for masking itself. The test of any Order is its attitude towards the Law of Thelema. The True Order presents the True Symbols, but avoids attaching the True Name thereto; it is only when the Postulant has taken irrevocable Oaths and been received formally, that he discovers what Fraternity he has joined. If he have taken false symbols for true, and find himself magically pledged to a gang of rascals, so much the worse for him!" --Magick in Theory & Practice chapter XII
- Wikipedia (2004). Rosicrucian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosicrucian). Retrieved Sept. 18, 2004.
- AMORC USA (http://www.rosicrucian.org/)
- AMORC Directory of Grand Lodges (http://www.amorc.org/)
- Rosicrucian Salon (http://www.rosicrucians.org/)
- Confraternity of Rose Cross (http://www.crcsite.org/crc.htm)
- arcgl.org (http://www.arcgl.org/)
- rosicrucian-order.org (http://www.rosicrucian-order.com/)
- rosycross.org (http://www.rosycross.org/)
- Lectorium Rosucrucianum (http://www.lectoriumrosicrucianum.org/)
- Fraternitas Rosae Crucis (http://www.soul.org/)
- SVMMVM BONVM Organization (http://www.svmmvmbonvm.org/)
- The Rosicrucian Fellowship (http://www.rosicrucian.com/)
- A Rosicrucian Page - 2000 C.E. (http://geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/2216/)
- CR+C France (http://www.crc-rose-croix.org/)
- rosecroix.com (http://www.rosecroix.com/)
- rosycross.org (http://www.rosycross.org/)