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The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order
An Interpretation of the Rosicrucian Allegory and An Explanation of the Ten Rosicrucian Grades
By Paul Foster Case
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1981 Builders of the Adytum, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
The Beginnings of Rosicrucianism
Rosicrucianism came into public notice early in the seventeenth century. The initial Rosicrucian manifesto, Fama Fraternitatis, was first issued as a manuscript and circulated among German occultists about the year 1610. It elicited several responses prior to the publication of the first printed edition at Cassel in 1614. In 1615 there was another printing, this time at Frankfurtam-Main, and the same year and place seem to have seen the appearance of the second manifesto, Confessio Fraternitatis. Dutch translations of both books came out in 1615, and by 1617 four editions of the German version had been published at Frankfurt. Others followed in the years immediately succeeding.
The Fama and the Confessio tell the story of the Order and its mysterious Founder and set forth its principles and philosophy. These tiny volumes aroused great interest. Alchemists and Qabalists, magicians and astrologers, kept the German presses busy with letters and essays addressed to the mysterious Brothers. For six or seven years the Rosicrucian question engaged the minds and pens of European occultists.
In 1616 was published another little book, The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreutz. To it may be traced the supposition that the Order was founded by a man named Christian Rosenkreutz or by one who adopted this name as a mystical title. Years later, the authorship of The Chymical Marriage was acknowledged by Johann Valentine Andreae, who said it was a revision of an alchemical romance he had written in his youth, long before the publication of the Fama and the Confessio.
The style of this work is altogether different from that of the two manifestoes. Andreae seems to have revamped The Chymical Marriage in the hope of profiting by the excitement stirred up by the two manifestoes. He was interested in schemes for universal reformation and may have planned to establish a secret society of his own. Like many others of that period, he was familiar with the literature of alchemy, and his romance shows that he had more than a smattering of occult learning. Yet the assertion that Andreae founded Rosicrucianism has no support in fact. Arthur Edward Waite has dealt adequately with this question in his Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. We share his conviction that Andreae had no part in the authorship of either the Fama or the Confessio. Toward the close of his life Andreae ridiculed Rosicrucianism, and he probably never understood its real objectives. His book, however, roused great interest and fixed in the uncritical occult mind the mistaken notion that the Order was founded by a man named Christian Rosenkreutz. Even this name has been transformed by the carelessness that seems to be characteristic of a certain type of professed occultist. So little do some who write glibly about Rosicrucianism know of its origins that one writer tells his Theosophical readers the Founder's name was Christian Rosencrans.
In 1652 Thomas Vaughan edited and published an English translation of the two manifestoes. In his preface, Vaughan declares that the translation is the work of an "unknown hand," and says, "The copy was communicated to me by a gentleman more learned than myself." This version was reprinted by Arthur Edward Waite in his Real History of the Rosicrucians, published in 1887. The same version, duly accredited to Waite's history, was printed in a manual issued in 1927 for members of the Societas Rosicruciana in America. By 1937 the Rosicrucian Fellowship at Oceanside, California, made belated acknowledgment of the existence of the manifestoes in a series of magazine articles.
Possibly these manifestoes also may have been included in the miscellany of things Rosicrucian and otherwise printed at Quakertown, Pennsylvania, by Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer. Dr. Clymer offers voluminous documentary evidence that he is Grand Master of the Rosicrucian Order established by Pascal Beverly Randolph in 1856. Such as it is, few will seek to dispute this claim, for Randolph's titles to serious consideration may be judged by his own words. In Eulis (edition of 1874, page 47) he writes: "Very nearly all which I have given as Rosicrucian originated in my own soul."
Among various publications of the society designated by the initials AMORC, there was a pamphlet entitled Fama Fraternitatis, but it was a strictly modern production, having no connection with the original manifesto apart from the title.
The Rosicrucian name flourishes because few persons who are attracted by the magic name and fame of the Order have any knowledge of the first published utterances of the Fraternity. Thus, it seems wise to reprint the English translation again. The manifestoes are short. Their anonymous authors needed but few words to say their say, but no person properly qualified to understand these little books could have mistaken their true purport. On the other hand, they were so written that, as they put it, they would not "move gross wits." Nor have they, from that day to this. Minds duly and truly prepared can grasp what is hidden behind their story of the Order, and to help serious students of occultism to such understanding is the purpose of our work.
Our title is intended to intimate that the Fama and the Confessio were written by members of an actual fraternity that conceals itself from all who are incompetent to share its aims and participate in its work. This fraternity is not an organized society like the Freemasons. One may not join it by making application for membership, paying entrance fees and dues, and passing through ceremonies. The Rosicrucian Order is like the old definition of the city of Boston: it is a state of mind. One becomes a Rosicrucian: one does not join the Rosicrucians. The manifestoes make this clear, as will be shown hereafter.
The Order is designated as being invisible by the manifestoes themselves. It does not come in corporate form before the world, because by its very nature it cannot. True Rosicrucians know one another, nevertheless. Their means of recognition cannot be counterfeited nor betrayed, for these tokens are more subtle than the signs and passwords of ordinary secret societies.
Let none suppose that because the Rosicrucian Order is invisible it is composed of discarnate human intelligences. Neither are its members supermen inhabiting a region vaguely designated by the term "higher planes." The Order is invisible because it has no external organization. It is not composed of invisible beings. Its members are men and women incarnate on earth in physical bodies. They are invisible to ordinary eyes because the minds behind those eyes cannot recognize the marks of a true Rosicrucian.
To say this is, of course, to repudiate any and all pretensions of societies claiming to be direct historical successors to the authors of the original Rosicrucian manifestoes. From what is written in the Fama and the Confessio, the only possible conclusion is that every claim to historical descent, every assertion that this or that association is "the original Order," must be judged invalid.
Probably some of these pretensions are made in good faith. There is reason to believe that societies calling themselves Rosicrucian were organized shortly after the publication of the manifestoes, and it is possible that they have continued in some form to this day.
Here and there in America and Europe are societies working according to the Rosicrucian pattern explained in this book. Their members do not believe the societies, as such, to be the Rosicrucian Order. Having learned from the manifestoes the distinguishing marks of a Rosicrucian, these persons know that insofar as they exhibit these marks they are links in the chain of the invisible Order. They understand also that the membership of even the societies that falsely claim historic connection may include some who are true Rosicrucians, just as there are other persons in various parts of the world who merit this designation even though they may never have heard of the Order. How this can be will, we trust, become evident to the unprejudiced reader who follows carefully the argument of this book.
These conclusions are not offered as unsupported opinions. They are presented as being the inevitable consequences of unequivocal statements in the Fama and the Confessio. Unless one knows the contents of these initial announcements of the Rosicrucian Order, he can form no clear notion of what Rosicrucianism really is. Thus, the first step in our exposition is to present the manifestoes themselves. We use the translation published by Thomas Vaughan, because careful comparison with early German editions shows the substantial accuracy of this "work of an unknown hand." The spelling has been modernized, but we have made no other alterations.CHAPTER 2
Fama Fraternitatis of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross
Addressed to the Learned in General and the Governors of Europe
Seeing the only wise and merciful God in these latter days hath poured out so richly His mercy and goodness to mankind, whereby we do attain more and more to the perfect knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ and of Nature, that justly we may boast of the happy time wherein there is not only discovered unto us the half part of the world, which was hitherto unknown and hidden, but He hath also made manifest unto us many wonderful and never-heretofore seen works and creatures of Nature, and, moreover, hath raised men, indued with great wisdom, which might partly renew and reduce all arts (in this our spotted and imperfect age) to perfection, so that man might thereby understand his own nobleness and worth, and why he is called Microcosmus, and how far his knowledge extendeth in Nature.
Although the rude world herewith will be but little pleased, but rather smile and scoff thereat; also the pride and covetousness of the learned is so great, it will not suffer them to agree together; but were they united, they might out of all those things which in our age God doth so richly bestow on us, collect Librum Naturae, or, a Perfect Method of all Arts. But such is their opposition that they still keep, and are loath to leave, the old course, esteeming Porphyry, Aristotle, and Galen, yea, and that which hath but a mere show of learning, more than the clear and manifested Light and Truth. Those, if they were now living, with much joy would leave their erroneous doctrines; but, here is too much weakness for such a great work. And although in Theology, Medicine and Mathematics, the truth doth oppose itself, nevertheless, the old Enemy, by his subtlety and craft, doth show himself in hindering every good purpose by his instruments and contentious, wavering people.
To such an intention of a general reformation, the most godly and highly illuminated Father, our Brother, C.R.C., a German, the chief and original of our Fraternity, hath much and long time laboured, who, by reason of his poverty (although descended of noble parents), in the fifth year of his age was placed in a cloister, where he had learned indifferently the Greek and Latin tongues, and (upon his own earnest desire and request), being yet in his growing years, was associated to a Brother, P.A.L., who had determined to go to the Holy Land. Although this Brother died in Cyprus, and so never came to Jerusalem, yet our Brother C.R.C. did not return, but shipped himself over, and went to Damascus, minding from thence to go to Jerusalem. But by reason of the feebleness of his body he remained still there, and by his skill in medicine he obtained much favour with the Turks, and in the meantime he became acquainted with the Wise Men of Damcar in Arabia, and beheld the great wonders they wrought, and how Nature was discovered unto them.
Hereby was that high and noble spirit of Brother C.R.C. so stirred up, that Jerusalem was not so much now in his mind as Damcar; also he could not bridle his desires any longer, but made a bargain with the Arabians that they should carry him for a certain sum of money to Damcar.
He was but of the age of sixteen years when he came thither, yet of strong Dutch constitution. There the Wise Men received him not as a stranger (as he himself witnesseth), but as one whom they had long expected; they called him by his name, and showed him other secrets out of his cloister, whereat he could not but mightily wonder.
He learned there better the Arabian tongue, so that the year following he translated the Book M (Liber Mundi) into good Latin, which he afterwards brought with him. This is the place where he did learn his Medicine and his Mathematics, whereat the world hath much cause to rejoice, if there were more love and less envy.
After three years he returned again with good consent, shipped himself over Sinus Arabicus into Egypt, where he remained not long, but only took better notice there of the plants and creatures. He sailed over the whole Mediterranean Sea for to come unto Fez, where the Arabians had directed him.
It is a great shame unto us that wise men, so far remote the one from the other, should not only be of one opinion, hating all contentious writings, but also be so willing and ready, under the seal of secrecy, to impart their secrets to others. Every year the Arabians and Africans do send to one another, inquiring of one another out of their arts, if haply they had found out some better things, or if experience had weakened their reasons. Yearly there came something to light whereby the Mathematics, Medicine, and Magic (for in those are they of Fez most skillful) were amended. There is nowadays no want of learned men in Germany. Magicians, Cabalists, Physicians and Philosophers were there but more love and kindness among them, or that the most part of them would not keep their secrets close only to themselves.
At Fez he did get acquaintance with those which are commonly called the Elementary inhabitants, who revealed unto him many of their secrets, as we Germans likewise might gather together many things if there were the like unity and desire of searching out secrets amongst us.
Of those at Fez he often did confess, that their Magic was not altogether pure, and also that their Cabala was defiled with their Religion; but, notwithstanding, he knew how to make good use of the same, and found still more better grounds for this faith, altogether agreeable with the harmony of the whole world, and wonderfully impressed in all periods of time. Thence proceedeth that fair Concord, that as in every several kernel is contained a whole good tree and fruit, so likewise is included in the little body of man, the whole great world, whose religion, policy, health, members, nature, language, words, and works, are agreeing, sympathizing, and in equal tune and melody with God, Heaven, and Earth; and that which is disagreeing with them is error, falsehood, and of the devil, who alone is the first, middle, and last cause of strife, blindness, and darkness in the world. Also, might one examine all and several persons upon the earth, he should find that which is good and right is always agreeing within itself, but all the rest is spotted with a thousand erroneous conceits.
After two years Brother R.C departed the city Fez, and sailed with many costly things into Spain, hoping well, as he himself had so well and profitably spent his time in his travel, that the learned of Europe would highly rejoice with him, and begin to rule and order all their studies according to these sure and sound foundations. He therefore conferred with the learned in Spain, shewing unto them the errors of our arts, and how they might be corrected and from whence they should gather the true lnditia of the times to come, and wherein they ought to agree with those things that are past; also how the faults of the Church and the whole Philosophia Moralis were to be amended. He shewed them new growths, new fruits, and beasts, which did concord with old philosophy, and prescribed them new Axiomata, whereby all things might be fully restored. But it was to them a laughing matter, and being a new thing unto them, they feared that their great name would be lessened if they should now again begin to learn, and acknowledge their many years' errors, to which they were accustomed, and wherewith they had gained them enough. Whoso loveth unquietness, let him be reformed (they said). The same song was also sung to him by other nations, the which moved him the more because it happened to him contrary to his expectation, being then ready bountifully to impart all his arts and secrets to the learned, if they would have but undertaken to write the true and infallible Axiomata, out of all the faculties, sciences, and arts, and whole nature, as that which he knew would direct them, like a globe or circle, to the only middle point and centrum, and (as it is usual among the Arabians) it should only serve to the wise and learned for a rule, that also there might be a society in Europe which might have gold, silver, and precious stones, sufficient for to bestow them on kings for their necessary uses and lawful purposes, with which society such as be governors might be brought up for to learn all that which God hath suffered men to know, and thereby be enabled in all times of need to give their counsel unto those that seek it, like the Heathen Oracles.
Excerpted from The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order by Paul Foster Case. Copyright © 1981 Builders of the Adytum, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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