Rosicrucianism, History and Origins Explained
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Rosicrucianism History & Origins

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

Origins of Rosicrucianism

Symbolized by the rosy cros, Rosicrucianism is the theology of a secret society of mystics, allegedly formed in late medieval Germany, holding a doctrine "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past", which, "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realms.

Between 1607 and 1616, two anonymous manifestos were published, first in Germany and later throughout Europe. These were Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC). The influence of these documents, presenting a "most laudable Order" of mystic-philosopher-doctors and promoting a "Universal Reformation of Mankind", gave rise to an enthusiasm called by its historian Dame Frances Yates the "Rosicrucian Enlightenment".

Rosicrucianism was associated with Protestantism and in particular Lutheranism. According to historian David Stevenson, it was also influential to Freemasonry as it was emerging in Scotland. In later centuries, many esoteric societies have claimed to derive their doctrines, in whole or in part, from the original Rosicrucians. Several modern societies, which date the beginning of the Order to earlier centuries, have been formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and allied subjects.

Christian Rosenkreuz

The Fama Fraternitatis presented the legend of a German doctor and mystic philosopher referred to as "Frater C.R.C." (later identified in a third manifesto as Christian Rosenkreuz, or "Rose-cross"). The year 1378 is presented as being the birth year of "our Christian Father," and it is stated that he lived 106 years. After studying in the Middle East under various masters, possibly those adhering to Sufism[5] or Zoroastrianism, he was unable to spread the knowledge he had acquired to any prominent European figures. Instead, he gathered a small circle of friends/disciples and founded the Rosicrucian Order (this can be deduced to have occurred in 1407).

During Rosenkreuz's lifetime, the Order was said to consist of no more than eight members, each a doctor and a sworn bachelor. Each member undertook an oath to heal the sick without payment, to maintain a secret fellowship, and to find a replacement for himself before he died. Three such generations had supposedly passed between c.1500 and c.1600, a time when scientific, philosophical and religious freedom had grown so that the public might benefit from the Rosicrucians' knowledge, so that they were now seeking good men.

Reception of Rosicrucianism

The manifestos were and are not taken literally by many but rather regarded either as hoaxes or as allegorical statements. The manifestos directly state: "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy, and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets." Others believe Rosenkreuz to be a pseudonym for a more famous historical figure, usually theorized as Francis Bacon.

It is evident that the first Rosicrucian manifesto was influenced by the work of the respected hermetic philosopher Heinrich Khunrath, of Hamburg, author of the Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (1609), who was in turn influenced by John Dee, author of the Monas Hieroglyphica (1564). The invitation to the royal wedding in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz opens with Dee's philosophical key, the Monas Heiroglyphica symbol. The writer also claimed the brotherhood possessed a book that resembled the works of Paracelsus.

Some say the writers were moral and religious reformers. They used the techniques of chemistry (alchemy) and of the sciences generally as media through which to publicize their opinions and beliefs. The authors of the Rosicrucian works generally favoured the Reformation and distanced themselves from the Roman Church and Islam.

In his autobiography, Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654) claimed the anonymously published Chymische Hochzeit (Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz) as one of his works, and he subsequently described it as a ludibrium. In his later works, he makes alchemy an object of ridicule and places it with music, art, theatre and astrology in the category of less serious sciences. According to some sources, his role in the origin of the Rosicrucian legend is controversial. Among others, it is generally accepted according to others.
 

 

 
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