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Rosicrucian Doctrines And Tenets
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TRUSTWORTHY information is unavailable concerning the actual philosophical beliefs, political aspirations, and humanitarian activities of the Rosicrucian Fraternity. Today, as of old, the mysteries of the Society are preserved inviolate by virtue of their essential nature; and attempts to interpret Rosicrucian philosophy are but speculations, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Evidence points to the probable existence of two distinct Rosicrucian bodies: an inner organization whose members never revealed their identity or teachings to the world, and an outer body under the supervision of the inner group. In all probability, the symbolic tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, Knight of the Golden Stone, was in reality this outer body, the spirit of which is in a more exalted sphere. For a period of more than a century subsequent to 1614, the outer body circulated tracts and manifestoes under either its own name or the names of various initiated members. The purpose of these writings was apparently to confuse and mislead investigators, and thus effectively to conceal the actual designs of the Fraternity.
When Rosicrucianism became the philosophical "fad" of the seventeenth century, numerous documents on the subject were also circulated for purely commercial purposes by impostors desirous of capitalizing its popularity. The cunningly contrived artifices of the Fraternity itself and the blundering literary impostures of charlatans formed a double veil behind which the inner organization carried on its activities in a manner totally dissimilar to its purposes and principles as publicly disseminated. The Fratres Rosa Crucis naively refer to the misunderstandings which they have for obvious reasons permitted to exist concerning themselves as being "clouds" within which they labor and behind which they are concealed.
An inkling of the substance of Rosicrucianism--its esoteric doctrines--can be gleaned from an analysis of its shadow--its exoteric writings. In one of the most important of their "clouds," the Confessio Fraternitatis, the Brethren of the Fraternity of R.C. seek to justify their existence and explain (?) the purposes and activities of their Order. In its original form the Confessio is divided into fourteen chapters, which are here epitomized.
CONFESSIO FRATERNITATIS R. C. AD ERUDITOS EUROPĂ
Chapter I. Do not through hasty judgment or prejudice misinterpret the statements concerning our Fraternity published in our previous manifesto--the Fama Fraternitatis. Jehovah, beholding the decadence of civilization, seeks to redeem humanity by revealing to the willing and by thrusting upon the reluctant those secrets which previously He had reserved for His elect. By this wisdom the godly shall be saved, but the sorrows of the ungodly shall be multiplied. While the true purpose of our Order was set forth in the Fama Fraternitatis, misunderstandings have arisen through which we have been falsely accused of heresy and treason. In this document we hope so to clarify our position that the learned of Europe will be moved to join with us in the dissemination of divine knowledge according to the will of our illustrious founder.
Chapter II. While it is alleged by many that the philosophic cide (sic. JBH) of our day is sound, we declare it to be false and soon to die of its own inherent weakness. just as Nature, however, provides a remedy for each new disease that manifests itself, so our Fraternity has provided a remedy for the infirmities of the world's philosophic system. The secret philosophy of the R.C. is founded upon that knowledge which is the sum and head of all faculties, sciences, and arts. By our divinely revealed system--which partakes much of theology and medicine but little of jurisprudence--we analyze the heavens and the earth; but mostly we study man himself, within whose nature is concealed the supreme secret. If the learned of out day will accept our invitation and join themselves to our Fraternity, we will reveal to them undreamed-of secrets and wonders concerning the hidden workings of Nature.
Chapter III. Do not believe that the secrets discussed in this brief document are lightly esteemed by us. We cannot describe fully the marvels of our Fraternity lest the uninformed be overwhelmed by our astonishing declarations and the vulgar ridicule the mysteries which they do not comprehend. We also fear that many will be confused by the unexpected generosity of our proclamation, for not understanding the wonders of this sixth age they do nor realize the great changes which are to come. Like blind men living in a world full of light, they discern only through the sense of feeling. [By sight is implied spiritual cognition: by feeling, the material senses.]
Chapter IV. We firmly believe that through deep meditation on the inventions of the human mind and the mysteries of life, through the cooperation of the angels and spirits, and through experience and long observation, our loving Christian Father C.R.C. was so fully illumined with God's wisdom that were all the books and writings of the world lost and the foundations of science overturned, the Fraternity of R.C. could reestablish the structure of world thought upon the foundation of divine truth and integrity. Because of the great depth and perfection of our knowledge, those desiring to understand the mysteries of the Fraternity of R. C. cannot attain to that wisdom immediately, but must grow in understanding and knowledge. Therefore, our Fraternity is divided into grades through which each must ascend step by step to the Great Arcanum. Now that it has pleased God to lighten unto us His sixth candelabrum, is it not better to seek truth in this way than to wander through the labyrinths of worldly ignorance?
Furthermore, those who receive this knowledge shall become masters of all arts and crafts; no secret shall be hidden from them; and all good works of the past, present, and future shall be accessible to them. The whole world shall become as one book and the contradictions of science and theology shall be reconciled. Rejoice, O humanity! for the time has come when God has decreed that the number of our Fraternity shall be increased, a labor that we have joyously undertaken. The doors of wisdom are now open to the world, but only to those who have earned the privilege may the Brothers present themselves, for it is forbidden to reveal our knowledge even to our own children. The right to receive spiritual truth cannot be inherited: it must be evolved within the soul of man himself.
Chapter V. Though we may be accused of indiscretion in offering our treasures so freely and promiscuously--without discriminating between the godly, the wise, the prince, the peasant--we affirm that we have not betrayed our trust; for although we have published our Fama in five languages, only those understand it who have that right. Our Society is not to be discovered by curiosity seekers, but only by serious and consecrated thinkers; nevertheless we have circulated our Fama in five mother tongues so that the righteous of all nations may have an opportunity to know of us, even though they be not scholars. A thousand times the unworthy may present themselves and clamor at the gates, but God has forbidden us of the Fraternity of R.C. to hear their voices, and He has surrounded us with His clouds and His protection so that no harm may come to us, and God has decreed that we of the Order of R.C. can no longer be seen by mortal eyes unless they have received strength borrowed from the eagle. We further affirm that we shall reform the governments of Europe and pattern them according to the system applied by the philosophers of Damcar. All men desirous of securing knowledge shall receive as much as they are capable of understanding. The rule of false theology shall be overthrown and God shall make His will known through His chosen philosophers.
Chapter VII. Because of the need of brevity, it is enough to say that our Father C.R.C. was born in the year 1378 and departed at the age of 106, leaving to us the labor of spreading die doctrine of philosophic religion to the entire world. Our Fraternity is open to all who sincerely seek for truth; but we publicly warn the false and impious that they cannot betray or injure us, for God has protected our Fraternity, and all who seek to do it harm shall have their evil designs return and destroy them, while the treasures of our Fraternity shall remain untouched, to be used by the Lion in the establishment of his kingdom.
Chapter VII. We declare that God, before the end of the world, shall create a great flood of spiritual light to alleviate the sufferings of humankind. Falsehood and darkness which have crept into the arts, sciences, religions, and governments of humanity--making it difficult for even the wise to discover the path of reality--shall be forever removed and a single standard established, so that all may enjoy the fruitage of truth. We shall not be recognized as those responsible for this change, for people shall say that it is the result of the progressiveness of the age. Great are the reforms about to take place; but we of the Fraternity of R.C. do not arrogate to ourselves the glory for this divine reformation, since many there are, not members of our Fraternity but honest, true and wise men, who by their intelligence and their writings shall hasten its coming. We testify that sooner the stones shall rise up and offer their services than that there shall be any lack of righteous persons to execute the will of God upon earth.
Chapter VIII. That no one may doubt, we declare that God has sent messengers and signs in the heavens, namely, the i new stars in Serpentarius and Cygnus, to show that a great Council of the Elect is to take place. This proves that God reveals in visible nature--for the discerning few--signs and symbols of all things that are coming to pass. God has given man two eyes, two nostrils, and two ears, but only one tongue. Whereas the eyes, the nostrils, and the ears admit the wisdom of Nature into the mind, the tongue alone may give it forth. In various ages there have been illumined ones who have seen, smelt, tasted, or heard the will of God, but it will shortly come to pass that those who have seen, smelt, tasted, or heard shall speak, and truth shall be revealed. Before this revelation of righteousness is possible, however, the world must sleep away the intoxication of her poisoned chalice (filled with the false life of the theological vine) and, opening her heart to virtue and understanding, welcome the rising sun of Truth.
Chapter IX. We have a magic writing, copied from that divine alphabet with which God writes His will upon the face of celestial and terrestrial Nature. With this new language we read God's will for all His creatures, and just as astronomers predict eclipses so we prognosticate the obscurations of the church and how long they shall last. Our language is like unto that of Adam and Enoch before the Fall, and though we understand and can explain our mysteries in this our sacred language, we cannot do so in Latin, a tongue contaminated by the confusion of Babylon.
Chapter X. 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 Fraternity to study unceasingly the Sacred Scriptures, for such as do this cannot be far from us. We do not mean that the Bible should be continually in the mouth of 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 than 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.
Chapter XI. We wish the statements we made in the Fama Fraternitatis concerning the transmutation of metals and the universal medicine to be lightly understood. While we realize that both these works are attainable by man, we fear that many really great minds may be led away from the true quest of knowledge and understanding if they permit themselves to limit their investigation to the transmutation of metals. 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 true 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.
Chapter XII. In concluding our Confessio, we earnestly admonish you to cast aside the worthless books of pseudo-alchemists and philosophers (of whom there are many in our age), who make light of the Holy Trinity and deceive the credulous with meaningless enigmas. One of the greatest of these is a stage player, a man with sufficient ingenuity for imposition. Such men are mingled by the Enemy of human welfare among those who seek to do good, thus making Truth more difficult of discovery. Believe us, Truth is simple and unconcealed, while falsehood is complex, deeply hidden, proud, and its fictitious worldly knowledge, seemingly a glitter with godly luster, is often mistaken for divine wisdom. You that are wise will turn from these false teachings and come to us, who seek not your money but freely offer you our greater treasure. We desire not your goods, but that you should become partakers of our goods. We do not deride parables, but invite you to understand all parables and all secrets. We do not ask you to receive us, but invite you to come unto our kingly houses and palaces, not because of ourselves but because we are so ordered by the Spirit of God, the desire of our most excellent Father C.R.C., and the need of the present moment, which is very great.
Chapter XIII. Now that we have made our position clear that we sincerely confess Christ; disavow the Papacy; devote our lives to true philosophy and worthy living; and daily invite and admit into our Fraternity the worthy of all nations, who thereafter share with us the Light of God: will you not join yourselves with us to the perfection of yourselves, the development of all the arts, and the service of the world? If you will take this step, the treasures of every part of the earth shall be at one time given unto you, and the darkness which envelopes human knowledge and which results in the vanities of material arts and sciences shall be forever dispelled.
Chapter XIV. Again we warn those who are dazzled by the glitter of gold or those who, now upright, might be turned by great riches to a life of idleness and pomp, not to disturb our sacred silence with their clamorings; for though there be a medicine which will cure all diseases and give unto all men wisdom, yet it is against the will of God that men should attain to understanding by any means other than virtue, labor, and integrity. We are not permitted to manifest ourselves to any man except it be by the will of God. Those who believe that they can partake of our spiritual wealth against the will of God or without His sanction will find that they shall sooner lose their lives in seeking us than attain happiness by finding us.
Johann Valentin AndreŠ is generally reputed to be the author of the Confessio. It is a much-mooted question, however, whether AndreŠ did not permit his name to be used as a pseudonym by Sir Francis Bacon. Apropos of this subject are two extremely significant references occurring in the introduction to that remarkable potpourri, The Anatomy of Melancholy. This volume first appeared in 1621 from the pen of Democritus junior, who was afterwards identified as Robert Burton, who, in turn, was a suspected intimate of Sir Francis Bacon. One reference archly suggests that at the time of publishing The Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621 the founder of the Fraternity of R.C. was still alive. This statement--concealed from general recognition by its textual involvement--has escaped the notice of most students of Rosicrucianism. In the same work there also appears a short footnote of stupendous import. It contains merely the words: "Job. Valent. Andreas, Lord Verulam." This single line definitely relates Johann Valentin AndreŠ to Sir Francis Bacon, who was Lord Verulam, and by its punctuation intimates that they are one and the same individual.
Prominent among Rosicrucian apologists was John Heydon, who inscribes himself "A Servant of God, and a Secretary of Nature." In his curious work, The Rosie Cross Uncovered, he gives an enigmatic but valuable description of the Fraternity of R.C. in the following language:
"Now there are a kind of men, as they themselves report, named Rosie Crucians, a divine fraternity that inhabit the suburbs of heaven, and these are the officers of the Generalissimo of the world, that are as the eyes and ears of the great King, seeing and hearing all things: they say these Rosie Crucians are seraphically illuminated, as Moses was, according to this order of the elements, earth refin'd to water, water to air, air to fire." He further declares that these mysterious Brethren possessed polymorphous powers, appearing in any desired form at will. In the preface of the same work, he enumerates the strange powers of the Rosicrucian adepts:
"I shall here tell you what Rosie Crucians are, and that Moses was their Father, and he was Θεοῦ παῖς; some say they were of the order of Elias, some say the Disciples of Ezekiel; * * * For it should seem Rosie Crucians were not only initiated into the Mosaical Theory, but have arrived also to the power of working miracles, as Moses, Elias, Ezekiel, and the succeeding Prophets did, as being transported where they please, as Habakkuk was from Jewry to Babylon, or as Philip, after he had baptized the Eunuch to Azorus, and one of these went from me to a friend of mine in Devonshire, and came and brought me an answer to London the some day, which is four days journey; they caught me excellent predictions of Astrology and Earthquakes; they slack the Plague in Cities; they silence the violent Winds and Tempests; they calm the rage of the Sea and Rivers; they walk in the Air, they frustrate the malicious aspects of Witches; they cure all Diseases."
The writings of John Heydon are considered a most important contribution to Rosicrucian literature. John Heydon was probably related to Sir Christopher Heydon, "a Seraphically Illuminated Rosie Crucian, " whom the late F. Leigh Gardner, Hon. Secretary Sec. Ros. in Anglia, believes to have been the source of his Rosicrucian knowledge. In his Bibliotheca Rosicruciana he makes the following statement concerning John Heydon: "On the whole, from the internal evidence of his writings, he appears to have gone through the lower grade of the R. C. Order and to have given out much of this to the world." John Heydon traveled extensively, visiting Arabia, Egypt, Persia, and various parts of Europe, as related in a biographical introduction to his work, The Wise-Mans Crown, Set with Angels, Planets, Metals, etc., or The Glory of the Rosie Cross--a work declared by him to be a translation into English of the mysterious book M brought from Arabia by Christian Rosencreutz.
Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes), another champion of the Order, corroborates the statement of John Heydon concerning the ability of the Rosicrucian initiates to make themselves invisible at will: "The Fraternity of R.C. can move in this white mist. 'Whosoever would communicate with us must be able to see in this light, or us he will never see unless by our own will.'"
The Fraternity of R.C. is an august and sovereign body, arbitrarily manipulating the symbols of alchemy, Qabbalism, astrology, and magic to the attainment of its own peculiar purposes, but entirely independent of the cults whose terminology it employs. The three major objects of the Fraternity are:
1. The abolition of all monarchical forms of government and the substitution therefor of the rulership of the philosophic elect. The present democracies are the direct outgrowth of Rosicrucian efforts to liberate the maws from the domination of despotism. In the early part of the eighteenth century the Rosicrucians turned their attention to the new American Colonies, then forming the nucleus of a great nation in the New World. The American War of Independence represents their first great political experiment and resulted in the establishment of a national government founded upon the fundamental principles of divine and natural law. As an imperishable reminder of their sub rosa activities, the Rosicrucians left the Great Seal of the United States. The Rosicrucians were also the instigators of the French Revolution, but in this instance were not wholly successful, owing to the fact that the fanaticism of the revolutionists could not be controlled and the Reign of Terror ensued.
A ROSICRUCIAN TITLE PAGE.
2. The reformation of science, philosophy, and ethics. The Rosicrucians declared that the material arts and sciences were but shadows of the divine wisdom, and that only by penetrating the innermost recesses of Nature could man attain to reality and understanding. Though calling themselves Christians, the Rosicrucians were evidently Platonists and also profoundly versed in the deepest mysteries of early Hebrew and Hindu theology. There is undeniable evidence that the Rosicrucians desired to reestablish the institutions of the ancient Mysteries as the foremost method of instructing humanity in the secret and eternal doctrine. Indeed, being in all probability the perpetuators of the ancient Mysteries, the Rosicrucians were able to maintain themselves against the obliterating forces of dogmatic Christianity only by absolute secrecy and the subtlety of their subterfuges. They so carefully guarded and preserved the Supreme Mystery--the identity and interrelationship of the Three Selves--that no one to whom they did not of their own accord reveal themselves has ever secured any satisfactory information regarding either the existence or the purpose of the Order. The Fraternity of R.C., through its outer organization, is gradually creating an environment or body in which the Illustrious Brother C.R.C. may ultimately incarnate and consummate for humanity the vast spiritual and material labors of the Fraternity.
3. The discovery of the Universal Medicine, or panacea, for all forms of disease. There is ample evidence that the Rosicrucians were successful in their quest for the Elixir of Life. In his Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, Elias Ashmole states that the Rosicrucians were not appreciated in England, but were welcomed on the Continent. He also states that Queen Elizabeth was twice cured of the smallpox by the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, and that the Earl of Norfolk was healed of leprosy by a Rosicrucian physician. In the quotations that follow it is .hinted by John Heydon that the Brothers of the Fraternity possessed the secret of prolonging human existence indefinitely, but not beyond the time appointed by the will of God:
"And at last they could restore by the same course every Brother that died to life again, and so continue many ages; the rules you find in the fourth book. * * * After this manner began the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross, first by four persons, who died and rose again until Christ, and then they came to worship as the Star guided them to Bethlehem of Judea, where lay our Saviour in his mother's arms; and then they opened their treasure and presented unto him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and by the commandment of God went home to their habitation. These four waxing young again successively many hundreds of years, made a magical language and writing, with a large dictionary, which we yet daily use to God's praise and glory, and do find great wisdom therein. * * * Now whilst Brother C.R. was in a proper womb quickening, they concluded to draw and receive yet others more into their Fraternity."
The womb herein referred to was apparently the glass casket, or container, in which the Brothers were buried. This was also called the philosophical egg. After a certain period of time the philosopher, breaking the shell of his egg, came forth and functioned for a prescribed period, after which he retired again into his shell of glass, The Rosicrucian medicine for the healing of all human infirmities may be interpreted either as a chemical substance which produces the physical effects described or as spiritual understanding--the true healing power which, whet a man has partaken of it, reveals truth to him. Ignorance is the worst form of disease, and that: which heals ignorance is therefore the most potent of all medicines. The perfect Rosicrucian medicine was for the healing of nations, races, and individuals.
In an early unpublished manuscript, an unknown philosopher declares alchemy, Qabbalism, astrology, and magic to have been divine sciences originally, but that through perversion they had become false doctrines, leading seekers after wisdom ever farther from their goal. The same author gives a valuable key to esoteric Rosicrucianism by dividing the path of spiritual attainment into three steps, or schools, which he calls mountains. The first and lowest of these mountains is Mount Sophia; the second, Mount Qabbalah; and the third, Mount Magia. These three mountains are sequential stages of spiritual growth. The unknown author then states:
"By philosophy is to be understood the knowledge of the workings of Nature, by which knowledge man learns to climb to those higher mountains above the limitations of sense. By Qabbalism is to be understood the language of the angelic or celestial beings, and he who masters it is able to converse with the messengers of God. On the highest of the mountains is the School of Magia (Divine Magic, which is the language of God) wherein man is taught the true nature of all things by God Himself."
There is a growing conviction that if the true nature of Rosicrucianism were divulged, it would cause consternation, to say the least. Rosicrucian symbols have many meanings, but the Rosicrucian meaning has not yet been revealed. The mount upon which stands the House of the Rosy Cross is still concealed by clouds, in which the Brethren hide both themselves and their secrets. Michael Maier writes: "What is contained in the Fama and Confessio is true. It is a very childish objection that the brotherhood have promised so much and performed so little. With them, as elsewhere, many are called but few are chosen. The masters of the order hold out the rose as the remote prize, but they impose the cross on those who are entering." (See Silentium post Clamores, by Maier, and The Rosicrucians and the Freemasons, by De Quincey.)
The rose and the cross appear upon the stained glass windows of Lichfield Chapter House, where Walter Conrad Arensberg believes Lord Bacon and his mother to have been buried. A crucified rose within a heart is watermarked into the dedication page of the 1628 edition of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy.
The fundamental symbols of the Rosicrucians were the rose and the cross; the rose female and the cross male, both universal phallic emblems. While such learned gentlemen as Thomas Inman, Hargrave Jennings, and Richard Payne Knight have truly observed that the rose and the cross typify the generative processes, these scholars seem unable to pierce the veil of symbolism; they do not realize that the creative mystery in the material world is merely a shadow of the divine creative mystery in the spiritual world. Because of the phallic significance of their symbols, both the Rosicrucians and the Templars have been falsely accused of practicing obscene rites in their secret ceremonials. While it is quite true that the alchemical retort symbolizes the womb, it also has a far more significant meaning concealed under the allegory of the second birth. As generation is the key to material existence, it is natural that the Fraternity of R.C. should adopt as its characteristic symbols those exemplifying the reproductive processes. As regeneration is the key to spiritual existence, they therefore founded their symbolism upon the rose and the cross, which typify the redemption of man through the union of his lower temporal nature with his higher eternal nature. The rosy cross is also a hieroglyphic figure representing the formula of the Universal Medicine.
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