The Rosicrucians developed from various groups of alchemists, Kabbalists and rational humanists who came together in the 1500s to form a blend of mystical Christianity and enlightenment scholarship. One such figure, Dr. John Dee, wrote a tract called Monas Heiroglyphica and traveled through Europe spreading its teachings.
This group of like-minded free-thinkers began calling themselves Rosicrucians around this time, although it would be another century before they came into public notice. The Moravian alchemist Michael Sendivogius' Society of the Unknown Philosophers is believed to be a forerunner of the movement. In 1604, he published his manuscript, Twelve Treatises on the Philosophers' Stone, and had already made a name for himself with a mysterious powder that he had acquired from imprisonment by Christian II of Saxony.
The fraternity was made public with the 1614 publication of three manuscripts in Germany by Lutheran theologian Johann Valentin Andreae (though some attribute it to Sir Francis Bacon, a senior figure in the order). The first was the Fama Fraternitas, which talked of an 'invisible college' of enlightened men and set out the aims of the order. It is likely that Andreae, like many of his contemporaries, was inspired by the ideas and courage of the mathematician and Neo-Platonic mystic, Giordano Bruno - a genius statistician, tortured by the church before being burned as a heretic in 1600.
Fama Fraternitas also told the allegory of Christian Rosencreuz (Rosy-cross), a poor but noble knight who was born in Germany in 1358. He had learned alchemical secret in Arabia before returning to his native Germany, where he formed a lodge called the House of the Holy Spirit with eight disciples. The number 8 has a mystical significance for the order, expressed in their symbol of a pelican ripping open its breast to feet its seven dependants. These founder members developed a secret language and compiled a book of alchemical wisdom. Their mission was to ‘learn how to know all, but keep thyself unknown.' They lived their life by six rules:
- To make no public profession of superior knowledge, and to heal the sick free of charge
- To wear no special garment, but to dress according to the custom of the country in which they lived
- To return to the House of the Holy Spirit on a certain day each year, for the purpose of mutual help and instruction
- To seek a worthy person to succeed each member
- To adopt the letter R.C. as their sign and mark
- To keep the existence of the fraternity a secret for a period of 100 years.
The publication of Fama Fraternitas was followed in 1615 by Confessio Fraternitatis and Chemische Hochzeit Christiani Rosenkreuz 1459 (Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz) in 1616. All three manifestos created a sensation among European intellectuals, scientists, and aristocracy in their quests for spiritual truth and personal enlightenment. Indeed, Rosicrucian ideas feel very modern and would not be out of place in this Age of Aquarius.
The rose had always been an alchemical symbol of spiritual transformation, and the cross was a symbol of the material world and of salvation. When these two symbols were combined it represented a gateway of spiritual awareness beyond the physical world. Some believe it was taken from the coat of arms of Martin Luther, although Andreae also used these symbols in his own coat or arms.
The secret burial vault of Rosencreuz was discovered in the House of the Holy Spirit 120 years after his death. Along with it were instructions to make the Rosicrucians’ teachings known to the world, on condition that they should not be monopolized by any one Christian sect. The instructions invited men with pure hearts and sincere aspiration to approach the order, and warned off those with selfish motives.
The Rosicrucians were also known as the Fire-Philosophers. They defined fire as “the most perfect and unadulterated reflection, in Heaven as on Earth, of the ONE FLAME. It is Life and Death, the origin and the end of every material think. It is divine ‘SUBSTANCE.'" One of their aims was to bring the disparate branches of occultism under one umbrella in the search for the invisible spirit in all matter. This ancient knowledge can be traced back to the mystery academies of ancient Egypt, founded by Pharaoh Thutmose III, and to the Greek philosophers, such as Thales and Pythagoras. The Rosicrucians are reputed to have discovered the ‘eternal flame’ - the secret of ‘ever-burning lamps’ supposedly known to the ancients, which also related to the secret of prolonging life.
[Pythagoras:] The most famous of mystic philosophers, born at Samos, about 586 B.C. He seems to have traveled all over the world, and to have culled his philosophy from the various systems to which he had access. Thus, he studied the esoteric sciences with the Brachmanes of India, and astronomy and astrology in Chaldea and Egypt. He is known to this day in the former country under the name of Yavanacharya (‘Ionian teacher’). After returning he settled in Crotona, in Magna Grecia, where he established a college to which very soon resorted all the best intellects of the civilized centers. His father was on Mnesarchus of Samos, and was a man of noble birth and learning. It was Pythagoras who was the first to teach the heliocentric system, and who was the greatest proficient in geometry of his century of his century. It was he also who created the word ‘philosopher,' composed of two words meaning a ‘lover of wisdom’ - philo-sophos. As the greatest mathematician, geometer and astronomer of historical antiquity, and also the highest of the metaphysicians and scholars, Pythagoras has won imperishable fame. He taught reincarnation as it is professed in India and much else of the secret wisdom.
In 1623 there were said to be only 36 Rosicrucians in Europe, scattered about in six different countries, though many prominent figures have been associated with them. Here are only a few examples:
Unlike other orders which sought to recruit and expand their membership, the Rosicrucians seem to have been genuinely more discreet and discerning. Allegiance was to one’s true self and not to the order.
Their secrecy seems to have been more about humility and the protection of knowledge from exploitation (and accusations of heresy) rather than to create a mystique or a false sense of importance. And while other secret orders and alchemists sought power and wealth (base metals into gold), they were seeking the correct ‘Way’ as laid down in the Instruction in 1675. These instructions are prefaced with a warning against using them for selfish ends.
The greatest treasures known to man are described as lying in a mountain in the center of the world, which is an allegorical reference to guidance to the riches of the self within. Sadly, by the mid-18th century the Masons, Rosicrucians and other orders with professed Templar origins had become so entwined that it is hard for the modern historian to tell them apart.
If there really is a covert plot to take over the world, many suspect the masons thought of it first. Freemasonry is comsidered by som to be the world’s oldest and largest fraternity. In any close study of secret societies they appear over and over again, intertwined with most of the other secret occult orders, and possibly predating them all.
Today, despite the masons’ many acts of public service, conspiracy theorists seem drawn toward them. In fact, the Freemasons have found their bad press so difficult to shake that they have recently recruited a public relations agency to improve their image and the public perception of, at best, rampant behind-the-scenes back scratching and, at worst, a demonic will to power.
Centuries ago the masons were skilled stone-workers and architects. Their know-how and craftsmanship were at the cutting edge of technology, so it is understandable that they should have formed into secretive guilds to protect and hand down their esoteric knowledge. They employed techniques that dated back to those used by the guilds of masons in ancient Egypt and Greece.
It was a Masonic guild in northern Italy that first adopted the name Freemasons in the Middle Ages, but like the Knights Templar, they claim lineage to the warrior knights of the Crusades and Godfrey de Bouillon, the leader of the First Crusade, and beyond to the construction of the Tower of Babel and King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.
It is well known that the tower of Babel was one of the most ancient traditions of masonry.
- John Tyler, The Arcane Schools: A Review of Their Origin and Antiquity with a General History of Freemasonry and its Relation to the Theosophic Scientific and Philosophic Mysteries
As regards masonry, Babel of course represented a masonic enterprise…and early expositors reaped full benefit from the fact. They remembered that the people who were of ‘one language and one speech’ journeyed from the East to the West, like those who have tried and proved as master masons. When they reached an abiding-place in the land of Shinar, it is affirmed that they dwelt therein as Noachidae, being the first characteristic name of masons. It was here that they built their high tower of confusion…out of evil comes good, and the confusion of tongues gave rise to the ancient practice of masons conversing without the use of speech.
- Arthur Edward Waite, A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and of Cognate Instituted Mysteries: Their Rites, Literature and History, Volume I
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, ‘Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, ‘Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'
- Genesis 11
At the making of the tower of Babel there was masonry first much esteemed of, and…Nimrod was a mason himself and loved well masons.
- John T. Lawrence, The Perfect Ashlar
In the Masonic Quiz Book the question is asked:
Q: Who was Nimrod?
A: He was the son of Cush. In the old constitutions referred to as one of the founders of masonry, and in the scriptures as the architect of many cities.
The most likely explanation is that Freemasonry grew from several different sources that merged and developed over time. It could also be argued however that the modern order dates to 1717 when four lodges in Great Britain formed the first United Grand Lodge. The order was spread worldwide by the British Empire, especially through Cecil Rhodes’ Round Table.
However, Knight and Lomas in The Hiram Key place the origin at the construction of the Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, Scotland, in the mid-15th century. Many of the Masonic records were destroyed or disbursed during the reformation, and this, combined with deliberate misinformation from the masons and speculation from outsiders, has made it almost impossible to find the truth. Knight and Lomas go as far to suggest that even the masons themselves no longer have access to their own ‘true secrets,' and some have nicknamed them the ‘Mafia of the Mediocre,' suggesting that nepotism is now their only sovereignty.
The extent of their power today is really a mystery, but you don’t have to look far to see evidence of their past influence. Every strata of masonry is dense with symbolism and allegory. More than half of the founding fathers were masons, and a close examination of a map of Washington D.C., reveals that they hid their two most important occult symbols, the pentagram and the square and compass at the heart of the United States.
Beginning at the White House, draw a straight line to Scott Circle. From there continue to Washington Circle and on to Mount Vernon Square, Dupont Circle and back to the White House. You will be confronted with the most potent pentagram in the occult symbolic repertoire - the demonic goat head (or the falling star). Four upper points representing the elements of fire, water, earth and air, and the bottom point (the White House) the mind of Lucifer. This same site forms the upper tip of a compass, the arm extending down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol (the top of the compass) and then out again down Maryland Avenue in a second arm that ends at the Jefferson Memorial.
The Washington Monument, which lies directly west of the Capitol, has been identified as the most significant occult symbol of all - an obelisk set inside a circle- embodying the spirit of the ancient Egyptian sun god Ra and commemorating the first United States president, who was a high-ranking mason.
Evidence of Masonic symbols and influence surround us, even on the United States dollar bill.
On the front side of the $1 bill you’ll find George Washington framed in the omega symbol, 13 pentagrams making a blade in the Department of the Treasury seal, and a hidden owl.
On the back of the dollar you’ll find the front and back sides of the Great Seal which make up the opposing triangles of the occult hexagram. There are also see 13 pentagrams arranged in the shape of another hexagram above the eagle’s head. On the reverse there are 13 steps leading up the pyramid to the light, which surrounds the all-seeing eye of Horus.
These have nothing to do with 13 original colonies; and keep in mind who the bearer of light to the occult really is. Numerology is closely related to the occult because everything that is physical can be measured, and can therefore be universally explained numerically. Pythagoras developed a well-accepted occult theory that all things are number and that numbers influence the essence of things; thus number (and specifically geometry) is the mediator between the divine and the earthly. I believe the number 13 is significant in the occult because it represents the merging of the microcosm and the macrocosm - man becoming god. We know from the scriptures God repeatedly uses the number 7 to symbolize completion, while man’s perfect number has always been 6 - the number of the hexagram. 1, 2 and 3 are all factors of 6 while 1+2+3=6. Combine the two numbers and you get 13.
There are also 13 arrows in the eagle’s claw, along with 13 leaves on the olive branch and 13 stripes on the eagle’s shield. The 13-letter Latin phrase E. Pluribus Unum meaning out of many, one is etched into the banner in the eagle’s mouth. On the back of the seal are two more Latin phrases; across the top is another 13 letters: Annuit Coeptis, which means He has favored our undertakings. The phrase across the bottom, Novus Ordo Seclorum means the new secular (world) order.
Today there are more than six million Freemasons with 100,000 lodges worldwide. Though, much like the Round Table and the Optimists, the rank and file see it as little more than an opportunity for social networking, although they must swear ‘never to conceal, never to reveal.'
But, as Manly P. Hall, an honorary 33rd degree mason, reveals in The Lost Keys of Freemasonry:
Freemasonry is a fraternity within a fraternity - an outer organization concealing an inner brotherhood of the elect….the one visible and the other invisible. The visible society is a splendid camaraderie of ‘free and accepted men’….the invisible society is a secret and most august fraternity whose members are dedicated to the service of an arcane arcandrum.
The terms arcane arcandrum simply means sacred secret.
Those who maintain that this inner brotherhood operates outside the law have touched on several scandals during the past 40 years. In the 1970s much of the corruption uncovered in the Flying Squad at Britain’s Scotland Yard was attributed to Masonic allegiances. Then on June 18, 1982, Italian financier Roberto Calvi was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London. He was nicknamed God’s banker because of his links with the Vatican and the Italian Mafia. The case has recently been reopened to explore the involvement in his murder of the now defunct P2 ‘Propaganda Due’ Masonic lodge in Italy, and whether Calvi died for mishandling Mafia money and blackmailing P2 members.
Joseph Fort Newton, an Episcopal minister and authority on the masons, described masonry as “religion - not a church but a worship in which men of all religions may unite." The Freemasonry draws its metaphysical beliefs not from the Bible (referred to as The Great Light), but from the Kabbala, the Hebrew book of mysticism and magic. Belief in a supreme being or great architect of the universe is the prime requirement for membership. It doesn’t matter who your supreme being is - presumably even Satan would qualify.
Their public motto is ‘morality in which all men agree, that is, to be good men and true.' There are three basic lodges: the lowest is the Blue Lodge for initiates, divided in to 3 degrees - Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason; the next is the York Rite split into 10 degrees; finally the Scottish Rite has a total of 32 degrees initiation, and whoever is invited into the 33rd degree reaches the symbolic head atop the 32 vertebrae in the human spine. Many Masonic commentators claim Britain’s Grand Master mason is Prince Michael of Kent. Anyone reaching the 32nd degree may join the Shriners (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine). Beyond that, the hierarchy disappears from public view into an unknown number of secret levels.
Entry into each degree is accompanied by an initiation ritual and an oath. Clearly, despite its recent attempts to appear more transparent, masonry is still as opaque and mercurial as it has always been, as shown by this fragment of the Entered Apprentice oath:
I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, that I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal, any of the arts, parts or points of the hidden mysteries of ancient Freemasonry…under no less a penalty than that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by its roots, and buried in the rough sand of the sea at low water mark where the tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours, should I ever knowingly or willingly violate my solemn oath and obligation as an Entered Apprentice mason. So help me, God.