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Rosicrucianism
(see also: Alchemy, Gnosticism, Golden Dawn, Qabalah)

Article by David Claiborne
(C) Copyright 2000  All rights reserved





The Rosicrucian movement is an esoteric tradition, stated by legend to have originated in Egyptian antiquity, purposefully maintaining secrecy throughout  the years.  Paracelsus, a Swiss alchemist who died in 1541, is also believed by some to be the true founder of this tradition.  Rosicrucianism is primarily a synthesis of various esoteric movements, including (but by no means limited to) Egyptian Hermetism, Alchemy, Gnosticism and the Jewish Qabalah.

An important distinction to be made when discussing Rosicrucianism is that of a tradition/movement, as opposed to an Order or society.  Rosicrucianism is not an organized occult society, though there have been, and are, various occult societies within the Rosicrucian movement.  When Rosicrucianism was first publicly mentioned in Germany in 1614, it was said to be an external manifestation of an ancient body of initiates, a recurring theme in Western occultism.  This ancient tradition is none other than the mystical tradition, which has manifested in various forms the world over.

The first published pamphlets regarded the Rosicrucian tradition were the Fama Fraternitatis (1614) and the Confessio Rosae Crucis (1615), translated under the title The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross in 1652.  In these texts we find the story of a man by the name of Christian Rosenkreuz.  Assuming that the story of Rosenkreuz is not entirely allegorical or legendary, it is safe to conclude this was an assumed name.  Rosenkreuz is said to have traveled to the Orient, where he was taught esoteric secrets.  It is this wisdom which Rosenkreuz returned to the European continent that is the foundation of mystical Rosicrucian practices.

Central to the mysteries of the Rosicrucian movement is the symbol of the Rose and Cross, commonly depicted as a red rose in full bloom resting atop an equal-armed cross of gold.  In some texts, it is called the Rosy Cross as opposed to the Rose Cross or Rose and Cross, and there is sometimes ambiguity in the Latin.  Rosae (rose) Crucis (cross) is occasionally interchanged with Ros (dew) Crucis.  This would seem to indicate inconsistencies in the tradition, except that many representations of the Rose and Cross depict small drops of dew on the petals of the rose.  When it is considered that the Rosicrucians incorporated much from the alchemical tradition, there is illumination to be found in this apparent mixup.  The dew in alchemy is the purity of essence refined through transcendent processes of  meditation.

This refining process is key.  In alchemy, the analogy is that of refining metal by fire, burning away impurities.  The cross (crucis) is symbolic of this difficult and often painful transformational process.  The cross has upon it a red rose, symbolising blood and sacrifice.  Thus the Rosicrucian formula is that of every prophet and godman of history, who underwent a painful process, often death, for the benefit of mankind's soul.  In this category we can place Mithras, Christ, Buddha, Dionysus-Zagreus and others.

The symbol of the Rose and Cross also illustrates the union of archetypal opposites, male/female, suffering/glory, yin/yang, represented by the interplay of the cross (phallus, masculine, active force) and the rose (kteis, feminine, receptive form).

The Rosicrucian movement was very influential on the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century, and there is some speculation of connections with Freemasonry.  Today the Rosicrucian tradition continues on in many forms and Orders.
 

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Off-Site Links

Rosicrucian Aphorisms and Process - by Dr. Sigismund Bacstrom

Rosicrucian Archive

Rosicrucian texts
 

Related Books

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