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A.2 The Rose-Croix

Memorial to Francis Bacon at his burial place
Francis Beacon Memorial (Wikipedia)

The Rosicrucians preached liberty, fraternity and equality, and they saw themselves as the challengers of tyrannical oppression of any kind. After the Reformation, the Rosicrucian order was responsible for the creation of a new spirituality. People discovered that the Catholic doctrine was based on a fraud, and that the Church had distorted the story of Jesus. Like the Cathars, and the Templars before, the Rosicrucians must have had access to an ancient knowledge that was more precise than the Catholic doctrine. Rome reacted as usual by proclaiming that they were heretics, and threatening violence against those who opposed the Catholic doctrine. As this was not enough they were accused to be “devil worshippers”, and the Inquisition was directed against their leaders described as sorcerers and witches. Unfortunately for the Church nobody knew who this sorcerers and witches were. However quite a few tragic trials took place while the Puritan sect allied itself with the Church and started their own hunt. Over 250 years it is estimated that about one million of innocent people were murdered by the witch-hunters.

In 1614 and 1615 two tracts described as the “Rosicrucian Manifestos” were published in Germany. They were the “Fama Fraternitatis” and the “Confessio Fraternitatis”. The following year, in 1616, another document “The Chemical Wedding”, written by the Lutheran Pastor Johan Valentin Andreae, was also published. The first two documents were by authors of the same group, if not by Andreae himself who was also a senior officer of the Prieuré de Sion. The publications announced a new age of enlightenment and Hermetic liberation in which certain universal secrets would be revealed. The creation of the Stuart Royal Society a few decades later indicated that the prophesies were correct, even if at the time the revelations were veiled in allegory. The writings were about the travels and learning of a mysterious character called Christian Rosenkreutz -a Brother of the Rosy Cross. His name had an obvious Rosicrucian significance and he was described as clothed like a Knight Templar.

The story of the “Chemical Wedding” takes place in the magical castle of the bride and the bridegroom. The castle is filled with lion effigies and the servants are students of Plato. In a setting similar to a Grail Romance, the Virgin Lamplighter have all the people present weighted on a scales, while a clock tells the motions of the heavens and the Golden Fleece is presented to the guests. Music is played in this atmosphere of chivalry while knights in Holy Orders preside. Beneath the castle there is a sepulchre bearing strange inscriptions, and there are twelve ships of the Golden Stone flying their individual flags of the Zodiac. During this reception a fantasy play tells the story of an unnamed princess who, cast ashore in a wooden chest, marries a prince of equally obscure background and restores a usurped royal heritage.

Together with the other two documents, the Chemical Wedding is of obvious Grail significance. As a result, the Church condemned the Manifestos. The setting was mythical, but to illustrate the scene the Rosicrucians used only the Heildelberg castle, the residence of the Palatine Lion, the home of Prince Friedrich of the Rhine and his wife, Princess Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James VI of Scotland (James I of England).

The recent history of the Rosicrucians started at the beginning of the 17th century. However its origins go back to the time of the Mystery School of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (c.1468-1436 BC). The ancient teachings are documented in the Wisdom of Lamech and in the Tablet of Hermes. Pythagoras and Plato added their own part to the History. They found their way in Judaea through the ascetic Egyptian Therapeutate who presided at Qumran just before Jesus’ time. The Samaritan Magi of West Manasseh, under the leadership of the Gnostic Simon (Magus) Zelotes, a lifelong friend of Mary Magdalene, allied themselves to the Therapeutate. Simon Zelotes nominated Mary Magdalene as his devotional sister. The Samaritan Magi who played an important role in the Nativity, were founded in 44 BC by Menahem, a Diaspora Essene and the grand father of Mary Magdalene. Menahem descended from the priestly Hasmonaeans, the family of Judah Maccabaeus.

The “beloved disciple” John Mark (who gave his name to one book of the Gospel), also known as Bartholomew, was a specialist in curative healing and remedial medicine. He was attached to the Egyptian Therapeutate. For this reason he became the patron saint of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem. Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to him at the crucifixion. The symbol of the Therapeutate healers was the serpent. The Gnostic Serpent of Wisdom is now used on the insignia of the British Medical Association.

The list of past Rosicrucian Grand Masters includes the names of Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet and philosopher; the astrologer, mathematician and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, Dr John Dee; the lawyer and philosophical writer, Sir Francis Bacon (see picture). Among Bacon’s Rosicrucian colleges, we can mention the Oxford physician and theological philosopher Robert Fludd who participated in the English translation of the King James Version of the Bible. In the Stuart era, the Rosicrucians were linked with FreeMasonry and the Royal Society. Academics like Robert Boyle and Christopher Wren were also linked with the Rosicrucians. The Order aimed to advance the study and application of ancient science, numerology, and cosmic law. It also encouraged the ideals of the Egyptian Therapeutate by promoting international medical aid for the poor. The International Red Cross uses their symbol (the Red Cross).

By the time of King Charles I (1625-1649) the Order was well implanted in Britain, Germany, France, and Holland. Notwithstanding the papal condemnation, the work of the Order progressed very well for a time but the arrival of the Puritans put a stop to it. As with the Templars before, the Rosicrucian scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, navigators, and architects became the victims of the new Protestant Church who called them pagans, occultists, and heretics. In other words the Protestants, intolerant bigots known as Puritans, behaved like the Catholic Inquisitions before them. Puritans were devoid of any spiritual intellect and even the Royal Society had to go underground. This “Invisible College”, and the brilliant Rosicrucians, came back to light after the Stuart restoration in 1660.

Rosicrucians and Freemasons such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Charles Thompson inspired the constitution of the United States. Thompson, the designer of the Great Seal of the USA, was a member of Franklin’s American Philosophical Society, the equivalent of the English “Invisible College”. The Seal is inspired by the alchemical tradition, inherited from the allegory of the ancient Egyptian Therapeutate. The eagle, the olive branch, the arrows and the pentagrams are all occult symbols of the opposite: good and evil, male and female, war and peace, darkness and light. On the reverse (as also on the dollar bills) is the truncated pyramid, indicating the loss of the Old Wisdom, severed, and forced underground by the Church. The rays of ever-hopeful light, incorporating the “all-seeing-eye”, were used as a symbol during the French revolution. Before creating the republic the USA wanted to create a monarchy. Charles III Stuart was contacted but he refused and the republic was born. (4)

The Rosicrucian movement’s origins are to be found in the intellectual desire to investigate the inheritance of ancient philosophy and to carry on the quest for the true origin of the human condition. Rosicrucianism, as it is known today, announced its rebirth with the publication of the two “Rosicrucian manifestos” in 1614 and 1615 in Germany. Their author, Christian Rosecreutz, is described as the founder of the ancient order of the Rose Cross. This revival of the Rosy Cross was an attempt to illustrate the more esoteric components of Gnosticism. During this revival Gnosticism found new expression in the promotion of a religious interpretation of alchemy supported by the study of numbers, a science that dates from the construction of the Temple, and the use of Geometry to define the quantity of perfection.

The manifestos, and the age of enlightenment they promoted, arrived in a Europe ready for profound changes. The Enlightenment in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries France owes its origin in large part to hermetic thought at the core of which we find Gnosticism and its belief in the religious philosophy of tolerance and natural harmony. This revival of Pythagoreanism and Platonism can be seen as an extension of the ancient practice of preserving wisdom through the use of geometry considered as sacred. (2)

In the second decade of the seventeenth century some strange documents were published in Germany. They spoke of a secret group, founded in the fifteenth century by Christian Rosencreuz. The Rosicrucians possessed great magical and spiritual knowledge and worked secretly for the benefit of the world. The author of these documents was probably a Protestant minister, Johan Valentin Andreae. Christian Rosencreuz was most certainly a fictional person and the Rosicrucian society did not exist. These manifestos produced great excitement in Europe. Many occult figures called on the Rosicrucians to identify themselves, which they never did. This did not prevent some people to pretend that these mysterious sages had contacted them, and the legend of the Rosicrucians continued to fascinate Western Occultists. The Hidden Masters, or Secret Chiefs, fascinated many people in the nineteenth century and some occult organisations, like Theosophy and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, claimed that they received their esoteric knowledge from these Masters. Even today many occult societies call themselves Rosicrucians, or claim that they possess the secret teachings of Christian Rosencreuz. (7)

Rosicrucianism is the most mysterious society of our time whose secrets have never been discovered and where legend mixes with historical truth. The Rosicrucians are a brotherhood of scholars, alchemists, and esoteric researchers who appeared in the seventeenth century. The members were bound together in a very informal way. They declared their existence with some posters displayed in Paris in 1622 after three “manifestos” were published around 1615.

Around 1710, Samuel Richter organised the first known Rosicrucian fraternity, the Golden Rosicrucians. Many other so-called Rosicrucian societies emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, among them Stanislas de Guaïta’s Cabalistic Order of the Rose-Croix.

The origin of the brotherhood is in doubt. Some people say that Robert Fludd was one of the “inventors” of Rosicrucianism in 1616. However the two Manifestos, the “Fama Fraternitatis” published in 1614 and the “Confessio”, talk about the life of Christian Rosenkreuz seen as the actual, or the mythical, founder of the Fraternity. The myth of Christian Rosenkreuz tells how his tomb, that “occupy the house of the Holy Ghost”, was discovered by a Grand Master 120 years after his death. The symbol of the order is a rose with seven petals and a cross, usually black. The rose represents secrecy and evolution, while the cross symbolises difficulty, the sorrow of life, and karma. The legend says that Rosicrucians are “unknown higher beings” who live in the invisible and manage the world.

Rosicrucianism preaches “humility, justice, truth, and chastity” and calls on its adepts “to cure all ills” of both body and soul. The order is opposed to papacy and to Muhammad, and aims to be truly Christian. Its ritual is composed of prayers, meditations, and ceremonies. (6)

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