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Home: Religion: Rosicrucianism: The Rosicrucian Enlightenment.

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

Rosicrucianism is the theology of a secret society of mystics, holding a doctrine built on esoteric truths of the past.

Overview of the Rosicrucian Enlightenment

In the early 1600s, the manifestos caused excitement throughout Europe by declaring the existence of a secret brotherhood of alchemists and sages who were preparing to transform the arts, sciences, religion, and political and intellectual landscape of Europe. Wars of politics and religion ravaged the continent. The works were re-issued several times and followed by numerous pamphlets, favorable and otherwise. Between 1614 and 1620, about 400 manuscripts and books were published which discussed the Rosicrucian documents.

The peak of the so-called "Rosicrucianism furor" was reached when two mysterious posters appeared on the walls of Paris in 1622 within a few days of each other. The first said, "We, the Deputies of the Higher College of the Rose-Croix, do make our stay, visibly and invisibly, in this city" and the second one ended with the words, "The thoughts attached to the real desire of the seeker will lead us to him and him to us".

The publication of the Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis (1614)

Christian Rosenkreuz

The legend inspired a variety of works, among them the works of Michael Maier (1568–1622) of Germany; Robert Fludd (1574–1637) and Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) of England; Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, Gotthardus Arthusius, Julius Sperber, Henricus Madathanus, Gabriel Naudé, Thomas Vaughan, and others. In Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chimicum britannicum (1650) he defends the Rosicrucians. Some later works with an impact on Rosicrucianism were the Opus magocabalisticum et theosophicum by George von Welling (1719), of alchemical and paracelsian inspiration, and the Aureum Vellus oder Goldenes Vliess by Hermann Fictuld in 1749.

Frater C.R.C. - Christian Rose Cross (symbolical representation)

Writings on Rosicrucianism

Michael Maier was ennobled with the title Pfalzgraf (Count Palatine) by Rudolph II, Emperor and King of Hungary and King of Bohemia. He also was one of the most prominent defenders of the Rosicrucians, clearly transmitting details about the "Brothers of the Rose Cross" in his writings. Maier made the firm statement that the Brothers of R.C. exist to advance inspired arts and sciences, including alchemy. Researchers of Maier's writings point out that he never claimed to have produced gold, nor did Heinrich Khunrath or any of the other Rosicrucianists. Their writings point toward a symbolic and spiritual alchemy, rather than an operative one. In both direct and veiled styles, these writings conveyed the nine stages of the involutive-evolutive transmutation of the threefold body of the human being, the threefold soul and the threefold spirit, among other esoteric knowledge related to the "Path of Initiation".

In his 1618 pamphlet, Pia et Utilissima Admonitio de Fratribus Rosae Crucis, Henrichus Neuhusius writes that the Rosicrucians left for the East due to the instability in Europe caused by the start of the Thirty Years' War. In 1710 Sigmund Richter, founder of the secret society of the Golden and Rosy Cross, also suggested the Rosicrucians had migrated to the East. In the first half of the 20th century, René Guénon, a researcher of the occult, presented this same idea in some of his works. An eminent author of the 19th century, Arthur Edward Waite, presents arguments that contradict this idea. It was in this fertile field of discourse that many "Rosicrucian" societies arose. They were based on the occult tradition and inspired by the mystery of this "College of Invisibles".

The literary works of the 16th and 17th centuries are full of enigmatic passages containing references to the Rose Cross, as in these lines:

    For what we do presage is riot in grosse,
    For we are brethren of the Rosie Crosse;
    We have the Mason Word and second sight,
    Things for to come we can foretell aright.

    Henry Adamson , The Muses' Threnodie (Perth, 1638).

College of Invisibles

The idea of such an order, exemplified by the network of astronomers, professors, mathematicians, and natural philosophers in 16th century Europe and promoted by men such as Johannes Kepler, Georg Joachim Rheticus, John Dee and Tycho Brahe, gave rise to the Invisible College. This was a precursor to the Royal Society formed during the 17th century. It was constituted by a group of scientists who began to hold regular meetings to share and develop knowledge acquired by experimental investigation.

Among these were Robert Boyle, who wrote: "the cornerstones of the Invisible (or as they term themselves the Philosophical) College, do now and then honour me with their company..."; and John Wallis, who described those meetings in the following terms: "About the year 1645, while I lived in London (at a time when, by our civil wars, academical studies were much interrupted in both our Universities), ... I had the opportunity of being acquainted with divers worthy persons, inquisitive natural philosophy, and other parts of human learning; and particularly of what hath been called the New Philosophy or Experimental Philosophy. We did by agreements, divers of us, meet weekly in London on a certain day and hour, under a certain penalty, and a weekly contribution for the charge of experiments, with certain rules agreed amongst us, to treat and discourse of such affairs.


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