SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FRATERNITY OF THE ROSE CROSS
Who Were the Rosicrucians?
Some seem to think that the Rosicrucians were an organization of profound thinkers rebelling against inquisitional religious and philosophical limitations of their time. Othere seem to think that tye were "isolated transcendentalists untied only by the similarity of their viewpoints and deductions."
What, if any, was the relationship between Rosicrucianism and mediaeval Freemasonry?
Some think that the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" was the link connecting the Freemasonry of the Middle Ages with the symbolism and mysticism of antiquity, whose secrets are being perpeutated by modern Masonry.
What was the true prupose of the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross?"
Were the Rosicrucians a religious and philosophic brotherhood or was the true object of the Fraternity to gain political control of Europe?
The evidence to date leaves these questions still open to speculation. What seems more certain than any other opinion is that the study of Rosicrucianism somehow leads one to a study of the Hermetic tradition.
The first and most important document to study about Rosicrucianism is the Fama Fraternitatis, supposedly promulgated around 1610. According to G. M. Hall, this manifesto opens with a reminder to the serious student pursuing knowledge of God's goodness and mercy, with a warning to avoid that egotism and covetousness which lead us to follow false prophets and to ignore true knowledge which God in His goodness has revealed to us.
The fraternity is supposed to have been instituted for this end by "The Highly Illuminated Father C.R.C.," who is thought to have been Christian Rosencreuz, borna a German, of noble descent, but poor himself. He is supposed to have set out very young on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, spending time in Damcar, where he recieved insturction in the secrets of the Arabian adepts. Some say he learned Arabic and translated the sacred book M into Latin, bringing this important book with him on his return to Europe.
After his three-years' study in Damcar, he went to Fext, where it is said he was instructed how to communicate with the Elementary inhabitants (or Nature Spirits), who very likely disclosed tim many of the great secrets of Nature.
He spent two years in Fez, then sailed for Spain. He had hoped the learned men of Europe would appreciate his discoveries and the teachings he was bringing them from his studies in the Middle East. Instead he suffered ridicule. So C.R.C. returned to Germany, where he built himself a house to carry on his studies and researches. He is said to have invented a number of scientific instruments for research purposes, but never commercialized any of his inventions or knowldge, prefering the company of God to the good opinion of men.
He spent five years in retirement, then recruited three others to join him, whom he bound by oath to keep inviolate the secrets they were to receive from him. These four founded the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross." They invented a secret language and worked on a dictionary to classify the wisdom imparted to them, undertaking also to transcribe the book M. But too many came to them for healing, interrupting their studies.
They built a new and larger residence, known as the "House of the Holy Spirit." Four new members joined the Fraternity. Seven were German, and all were unmarried.
They later separated to visit other countries to spread their teachings and to check their accuracy. Before separating, they are said to have bound themselves to six rules:
> to be willing to heal the sick without charge
> to wear only the garments customary to the country in which they were dwelling at the time
> to meet every year at a certain time in the "House of the Holy Spirit", or if unable to represented by letter
> that each should find a worthy person to succeed him at his own demise
> the ltters "R.C." be the seal, mark and character of the Fraternity
> that the Fraternity remain unknown to the world for one hundred years
Only Father C.R.C. stayed behind in the "House of the Holy Spirit."
When the first of the Fraternity died, the others agreed that the burial places of the members remain secret. According to the FAMA, none of the Brothers living at the time of its writing knew the time of death or place of burial of Father C.R.C.
According to the FAMA, the body of Father C.R.C. was discovered accidentally in a secret burial place 120 years after his death and burial in the "House of the Holy Spirit," along with many secret documents. A mysterious light is said to have illuminated the crypt, otherwise impenetrable to the light of day, and the body of Father C.R.C. is said to have been found as intact as the day of burial. Father C.R.C. was buried holding a document in his hand which the Brethren discovering the body, read. The documented ended thus:
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 sincere souls 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.
The date set for the founding of the Fraternity by Father C.R.C. is in the 1400's. But none of this history has ever been corroborated, neither that Father C.R.C. ever approached learned men in Spain, or that there ever was a city called Damcar, or that anywhere in Germany there ever existed qa place where great numbers of the sick came to be mysteriously healed. Apparently Father C.R.C. was never seen by anyone other than members of the Fraternity, and none of them ever wrote a description of him, nor can anyone verify that his name was Christian Rosencreutz.
This theory accept the existence of the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" as historical fact. Some say that the Order originated in Medieval Europe, founded by a German theologian named Johann Valentin Andraeae, based on an existing society established by Sir Henry Cornelius Agrippa. Others supposed that Rosicrucianism was a form of Buddhism and Brahmanism introduced into Europe. Still others calimed the the "Society of the Rose Cross" was founded in Egypt at the height of the Egyptian empire, to perpetuate the Mysteries of ancient Persia and Chaldea. Some claim that the story of Father C.R.C., like the Masonic story of Hiram Abiff, is allegory only and not to be taken literally.
That so little is known about the origins of the "Brotherhood of the Rose Cross" is testimony to how well the members maintained the secrecy of their Order. Bacon and Goethe are supposed to have been members of the Fraternity, but no evidence has ever been found to substantiate this claim. If the Order is supposed to have had both philosophical and political aims, it's remarkable that the members could maintain absolute secrecy throughout the centuries.
One story is that members of the Fraternity were supplied with a black cord, and should any member break his vow of secrecy he was to be to strangled with it.
According to one account of Rosicrucianism (Dr. Franz Hartmann, Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians), the Fraternity was
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, bu 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.
Dr. Hartmann further describes 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 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.
Some believe that the Rosicrucians were bound together more by way of their interests than by the rules of a fraternal organization. They are imagined
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.
Apparently you did not apply to join the Order; the Rosicrucians chose their members. Sometimes Brethren visited people and would impart some teachings to them and then just disappear leaving no trace of themselves. Students of science, if one could call what they did in those days science, would report recieving communications with Brethren of the Rose Cross through dreams and visions, who revealed secrets of the Hermetic wisdom to them while they were asleep.
Having been instructed, the candidate was bound to secrecy not only concerning the chemical formulae which had been disclosed to tim but also concerning the method by which he had secured them. While these namely adepts were suspected of being "Brothers of the Rose Cross,: it could never be proved who they were, and those visited could only guess.
Some doubt that the name Rosicrucian comes from the symbol of the rose and cross. This may simply be a blind to mislead the uninformed and the uninitiated. It could be derived from the word Ros, meaning dew, or the word Ras, meaning wisdom, or the word Rus, meaning concealment. lllll
Some believe that Rosicrucian symbolism is tied to the secrets of the Egyptian philosophyer, Hermes Trismigestis, and that this is the true link connecting modern Masonry to Egyptian Hermeticism.
Many connected with the early development of Freemasonry are said to have been Rosicrucians, like Robert Fludd, and Doctor Ashmole, one of the founders of the first Grand Lodge in London. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ashmoe was initiated into the Masonic Order in 1646.
The relationship of the two Orders, Masonry and Rosicrucianism, is a matter of much research and speculation. Some say Masonry is an outgrowth of Rosicrucianism; others that Rosicrucians founded Masonry and then became dissatisfied with their Masonic brethren, withdrew and left them with the symbols and allegories but without the keys to understand them. Others say that Masonry replaced Rosicrucianism as the world's greatest secret society. Others maintain to this day the Rosicrucianism still exists, having withdrawn from Masonry.
Rosicrucianism has been associated from time to time with the political history of Europe. Bacon, the Count of St. Germain, Count Cagliostro are supposed to have been Rosicrucians. Rosicrucians are supposed to have instigated the French Revolution. (cf. Eliphas Levi, Lord Bulwer-Lytton).
Another theory supposes that the Order never existed, but was merely the fantasy of some fertile imagination. But why would anyone want to try to perpetrate such a fraud on the public? Was it to belittle the alchemical and Hermetic traditions? Or to pull a hoax on the gullible? These questions remain unanswered to this day.
According to some authorities,
sufficient evidence is at hand to make it extremely probably 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 grat import to the sum o9f human knowledge, while maintaining absolute secrecy concerning their personalities and their organization.
Many are reputed to have writen literature of a Rosicrucian flavour, like Bacont (New Atlantis), Lord Bulwer-Lytton (Zanoni), Pope (Rape of the Lock), Abbe de Villars (Comted de Gabalis), and essays by DeQuincey, Hartmann, Jennings, Mackenzie.
That those who were Rosicrucians were actually dwellers of two worlds, beings endowed with supernatural powers, having physical bodies for material expression, yet capable through instruction received from the Brotherhood of functioning in a body of an etheric nature not subject to limitations of space and time. They were able to function through an "astral form" beyond the reach of lesser beings.
The Rosicrucian Brotherhood so conceived was supposed to consist of a limited number of highly developed adepts, some of whom in the higher degrees of development were immortal. Initiates had to endure long periods of probation. Adepts possess the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, the ability to turn baser metals into gold. But the gold was thought to be the gold of intellectual and spiritual realization, and the baser metals to be transmuted was thought to be the baser elements of our human nature. The process of spiritual development was allegorically to remove the rose from the cross.
Those who advance this theory believe that the chief adept of the Order was in reality the Comte do St.-Germain, and that he and Christian Rosencreutz were one and the same person. They consider themselves to be the descendants of Tubal-cain and Hiram Abiff; their purpose, to promote belief in man's spiritual nature while others advanced wholly materilistic philosophies.
Some of those who subscribe to this theory believe that the American continent will supercede the European continent as the center of Rosicrucianism.
What could be peculiarly called a Rosicrucian teaching? It's difficult to be sure about this. Any theory about their teachings has to be purely speculative.
There is supposedly an inner and outer body of Rosicrucians, one group never revealing their identities or teachings, they other, guided by the inner group, revealing the secrets and mysteries of Rosicrucianism only through allegory and symbol.
A true Rosicrucian seeks to become a master of some art, science or craft; seeks to do good works; seeks to reconcile theology and science; seeks wisedom; seeks spiritual development.
According to the Confession Fraternitatis:
Although there are still certain powerful persons who oppose and hinder us--because of which we must remain concealed--we exhort those who would become of our Graternity to study unceasingly the Sacred Scriptures, for such as do this cannot be far from us. We do notmean that the Bible should be continually in the mouthof man, but that he should search for its true and eternal meaning, which is seldom discovered by theologians, scientists, or mathematicians because they are blinded by the opinions of their sects. We bear witness that never since the beginning of the world has there been given to man a more excellent book that the Holy Bible. Blessed is he who possesses it, more blessed he who reads it, most blessed he who understands it, and most godlike he who obeys it.
But the same Confessio admonishes the Rosicrucian aspirant not to be mislead by profane motives in pursuing the secrets and mysteries:
When to a man is given power to heal disease, to overcome poverty, and to reach a position of worldly dignity, that man is beset by numerous temptations and unless he possess tru knowledge and full understanding he will become a terrible menace to mankind. The alchemist who attains to the art of transmuting base metals can do all manner of evil unless his understanding be as great as his self-created wealth. We therefore affirm that man must first gain knowledge, virtue, and understanding;then all other things may be added unto him. We accuse the Christian Church of the great sin of possessing power and using it unwisely; therefore we prophesy that it shall fall by the weight of its own iniquities and its crown shall be brought to naught.
Who wrote these words is a matter of dispute. Some say Johann Valentin Andreae; others say Sir Francis Bacon, using Andreae's name as a pseudonym.
Rosicrucians seem to have advanced the principle of human freedom and democratic government and the overthrow of tyrannical despotic rule. They are supposedly responsible for the Great Seal of the United States. They called themselves Christians, were fond of Plato and usually versed in the deepest mysteries of Hebrew and Hindu theology. They advanced the idea that the true healing power is spiritual understanding, which heals by virtue of person being healed realizing some truth. Ignorance is the cause of disease and spiritual truth the cause of healing.