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4.4 History of the 18th Century

The real “Rose-Croix” fraternity is still known only through the three manifestos and the discussions around what is generally described as a myth. One do not know where they met. Their rites and the names of the members have never been revealed.

>From the beginning of the seventeenth century many organisations referring themselves to the Rose-Croix became known all over Europe and the world. They are not part however of the Rose-Croix as this Fraternity has been described before. At the best they should be called “Rosicrucrucians” as they are different from the original Rose-Croix and their members were not Rose-Croix. The term Rose-Croix is the qualification of an initiate state, that means a certain spiritual state, that does not require the membership of any organisation but implies the perfection of the human beings. According to the myth, the Brothers of the Rose-Croix have retired from our world but have kept some powers that have been the object of many stories, true or false, involving miraculous power. The modern Rosicrucian organisations appeared from the 17th century, a little before that the true Rose-Croix left the western world. These organisations have moved farther apart from the original Rose-Croix with time to the point that some rather recent organisations calling themselves Rosicrucrucians have nothing to do with it.

The manifestos of the Rose-Croix, created or not by Andreae and his friends, have had a large influence on the Masonic thought especially in England. As an example we can mention Francis Bacon and his book “Nova Atlantis”. One even said that the Rose-Croix and the masons were the same group at first. They separated to allow the Masons to concentrate on philosophical studies and philanthropy and for the Rose-Croix to specialise in Cabalistic research and alchemy. In fact Rose-Croix and Masons seems to be the same thing in the mind of many people and some Masonic lodges follow the Rosicrucian way of thinking. It is also a fact that the Rosicrucian legends impregnate the higher Masonic grades. The Rosicrucian tradition or legend is also better kept in the Masonry that anywhere else. (q)

Among the numerous Rosicrucian organisations we will mention the following:

– The Golden Rose-Croix
The manifesto “Les Noces Chymiques” pulled the attention on alchemy. Many organisations have attracted people interested in healing all the illnesses, making philosophical gold, to become invisible and to communicate at distance. Generally one must pay to become part of the secrets. Among the known members we can mention Leibniz. Samuel Richner, known as Sincerus Renatus, wrote the 52 articles of the rules that structured the Golden Rose-Croix as a secret society. This is not a fraternity anymore but a secret society with a rigid hierarchy, grades, initiation ceremonies, preliminary inquiry and acceptance by vote or by the top head of the organisation. The members wear a ring and jewels and make themselves recognised by special words, signs and touches. They also use a secret alphabet (Enochien) to correspond between themselves. The hierarchy was made of twelve grades. They met at fixed dates. They were not many members but they were very important people in their own right. Many books were published after 1730 but they are always said to be written before 1614, the date of the publication of the Fama. Some organisations that appeared after 1755 pretended that the Golden Rose-Croix were the Templars’ heirs. The Golden Rose-Croix have local organisations in most of the big towns and even Stanislas II, King of Poland, becomes a member. They were, to all effect, Masonic lodges.

– The Golden Rose-Croix of the Old System.

We just have seen a Rosicrucian Masonic system being born. In 1777 the Three Globe lodge in Berlin proposed new rites and created the Golden Rose Croix of the Old system. The founder of the Order is said to be Ormus, a priest from Alexandria baptised by Marc. This society was initially managed by seven magi’s and was preserving the secrets of Moses, Solomon and Hermès. After the defeat of the crusades in 1118, the Brothers moved to different parts of the world and three of them went to Scotland where they founded a centre in 1196. In this lodge they had high grades. It was the top of the free-masons. The members of this society wrote many publications in which they said that the Golden Rose-Croix of the Old System was the only authentic Masonic lodge, that they knew the secrets of the transmutation of metals and that they could heal any illness. The King Frederic-Guillaume II was a member. However this society run into trouble in Germany around 1770. It was still getting bigger in some Eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland and Russia but this did not last after 1786. This decrease was due, in large part, to the impossibility demonstrated publicly that the members could not cure the sick and realise the transmutation of the metals as promised by the alchemists. The lodge was organised in nine high grades and based on the knowledge of alchemy only. It was also a very secret society where even the members did not know each other beside their small circle. In 1779 the Golden Rose-Croix of the Old System counted 26 circles. (q)

– The Visionaries of Bavaria

Germany, more that any other country, is the land of mysticism. The organisation of the Visionaries of Bavaria was founded by Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830) in Munich in 1776. It has nothing to do with the Rose-Croix but has been in strong disagreement with the Golden Rose-Croix of the Old System. The organisation is based on three classes of members: the apprentices, the Minervaux and the Visionary Minervaux. Weishaupt became a Mason and in 1781 he organised the Visionaries on a Masonic structure using the same methods as the Jesuits although he was fighting them. This lodge was banned in 1786 and Weishaupt was obliged to leave Bavaria and this was the end of this organisation. (q)

– Les Réau-Croix

a. Martinès de Pasqually and the “Elect of Cohen”.
Martinès de Pasqually was a very mysterious man. Nothing is known of his origin and of his death. We only know that his father was born in Alicante, Spain. His father came to France and it is thought that Martinès was born in or near Grenoble about 1710. Martinès belonged to a Masonic lodge following the Scottish rite. He was introduced to it by his father. Later on he created his own rite known as “Elect of Cohen” that was recognised by the “Grande Loge de France” in 1765. He founded many lodges in France and in San Domingo. He died in Port-au Prince. Haiti, in 1774. The order and the temples closed one after the other although the order was still represented in 1806 at the “Grand Collège des rites du Grand Orient de France”. This order was organised in three classes (grades bleus, grades du Porche, grades du Temples) each one formed of three grades with, at the top, the grade called “Réau-Croix”. The members of the orders came from the aristocracy -French but also European-.

b. Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and the Martinism.
Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin (1743-1803) was initiated in 1765. He became Martinès de Pasqually’ secretary in 1771 after being a member of the order since 1768. He wrote many philosophical books that were well received. His work influenced the Martinism although this order was only created in 1887 by Papus.

c. Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (1730-1824)
Willermoz became a mason in 1750 and became a “Venerable” at the age of twenty-two. He was admitted at Versailles in 1767 in the first grades of the “Réau-Croix” created by Martinès Pasqually. Willermoz become the head of the order in 1774 after Pasqually’s death. He was members of many lodges, always in the top grades. In 1782 he also tried to unify many lodges with similar way of thinking but without success. (q)

-The Illuminism

a. The Prince Charles de Hesse-Kassel (1744-1836)
He was the son-in-law of Christian VII, King of Denmark and Governor of the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein. He was Deputy Grand Master of the Order of the Strict Observance Templar. He reorganised the secret grade of the Beneficent Knights of the Holy City. He became also Grand Master of the close society of the Initiated Brothers of Asia.

b. Mrs de Krudener
This mystic woman had a big influence on the spiritualist societies from 1804 to 1825. Her mystic preaching, her prophecies tend to convert men to a primitive Christianism. In 1805 after Napoleon’s defeat she used her influence on the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I, by proposing the “Sainte Alliance” a reconciliation of the Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. When she saw that it was only a treaty to reorganise Europe from the sole political point of view she left Paris and died in Crimea after being excommunicated by the Church.

– The Visionaries of Avignon

Dom Pernety (1716-1796) became a monk in 1732 in the Benedictine congregation of Saint-Maure. He was an expert of alchemy, mathematics, arts, the Cabal and religion. After coming back from the Falkland islands, he asked more freedom from the Benedictine rules in 1765. Forced to retract, he left the Chapter in 1767. He is a mason as most of his hierarchy. He went to visit his brother in Valence and became a member of the philosophical societies of Avignon and he assisted to some Masonic meetings. The pope Clement XII having excommunicated the masons once more, Dom Pernety went to visit Frederic II of Prussia in 1768 and stayed there until 1783 as head of the King’s library in Berlin. He had some disagreements with the Great Frederic and was obliged to go back to France in Valence. He had kept his contacts with the masons in Avignon. He inspired the creation of many lodges under the title of “Mère Loge Ecossaise de France” and that meant the rupture with “Le Grand Orient”. These lodges were very successful and attracted the local aristocracy. Pernety believed in one only God embodying in himself the Holy Trinity. He believed in the Angels who are the link between Man and the Sky. The Masonic initiation, in his view, allows man to communicate with the angels. He also believed firmly in Mary, the mother of Christ. For him as well as for the visionaries of Avignon, Mary was the fourth divine person that was added to the Trinity. However when the region called the Contat was integrated into France in 1791, the Government forbid the Masonic meetings and arrested many members. Pernety was put to prison for a short period of time in 1793. After his death in 1796 the Hermetic rite went on for a few years before disappearing. (q)

-Cagliostro (1743-1795)

Guiseppe Balsamo known as Alessandro, Count of Cagliostro seems to have become a mason in London in 1777. In 1778 he founded a three grade Masonic rite in Brussels. This rite was similar to the English rite but he added some magic operations that led to meeting of “Voyance”. In Strasbourg from 1780 to 1783 he had a strong influence on the Cardinal de Rohan. In Lyon at the end of 1784 to the beginning of 1785 he created the lodge “Mother of the Egyptian Rite” taking the title of Great Copte. He was arrested in 1785 and spent many months in the Bastille accused to be Cardinal de Rohan’s accomplice. He was then expelled to England in 1786 and from there he went to Rome. The Inquisition had him arrested on 27 December 1789. He was condemned to death in 1791 for heresy, member of the masons, political activities and scandal. This penalty was changed in life imprisonment. This punishment seemed even then too much in relation to what he did. In 1795 he was strangled to prevent him to escape according to the official announcement. One does not know where he was buried. (q)

– The Count of Saint-Germain (1707-1784)

It is really difficult to know who he really was as he changed name from country to country. He appeared in London in 1745 where he was arrested as a suspect or a spy. He arrived in Paris and was soon admitted to the Royal Court. He was a musician, a physicist, a chemist and a painter. He pretended that he could speak all the languages and was an expert in alchemy. Louis XV sent him to Holland in 1760 to negotiate the peace with the English but the French ministers disagreed and he had to escape to England. We then see him in Russia, Italy and in Berlin. This strange man never mentioned his age nor his country or his person. He gave the impression to be very rich. In Germany he met the Prince of Hesse and also the Duke Ferdinand de Brunswick at the time when the Rosicrucian beliefs were spreading in Germany. He died from paralysis in 1784. Even after so many years the Count of Saint-Germain is still a mystery. More probably he was the bastard son of the Spanish Queen, Marie Anne de Neubourg. One may wonder if he was not a real Rose-Croix due to his behaviour, his knowledge of the languages, his ability to cure the sick and his stay in the Himalayas where the Rose-Croix are supposed to live. In a certain way he is immortal. (q)