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The Real History of the Rosicrucians, by Arthur Edward Waite, [1887], at

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THE antiquity of the Rose in symbolism and of the Cross in symbolism, as I have already said, is no proof whatsoever of the antiquity of a society which we find to be using them at a period subsequent to the Renaissance; but, according to John Heydon, the Rosicrucians "have been since Christ;" they "inhabite the suburbs of Heaven," and are "as the eyes and ears of the great King, seeing and hearing all things." The existence of a "divine Fraternity" on the astral plane, or in. the fourth dimension, however "seraphically illuminated," and with whatever powers they may be invested by the "Generalissimo of the world," is a point which transcends the investigations of the merely human historian. His researches, however, have determined that, within his own limits--that is, on the physical plane of time and space--there are no vestiges of the Rosicrucians traceable before the beginning of the seventeenth century, and that the belief in their antiquity originates in à priori considerations which are concerned with the predilections and prejudices of thinkers whose faith and imagination have been favoured by evolution or environment at the expense of their judgment, and who determine historical questions by the illumination of their own understandings rather than by the light of facts.

Such persons are beyond the reach of criticism, and, as

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they are neither numerous nor important, may be left basking in the sunshine of a pleasing aberration, which is interesting in days of disillusion. But the existence and occasional prevalence in all ages of the world of those theosophical ideas, which are at the root of Rosicrucian philosophy, have caused even serious students to consider the Fraternity of an almost incredible antiquity--a hypothesis which wins golden opinions from those who delight in connecting the invisible threads of the secret societies and tracing them to a single primal source, of which one and all are ramifications more or less identical in ceremonies, secrets, and purposes.

Addressing myself to these students, I would say with Buhle that whoever adopts this hypothesis "is bound to show, in the first place, in what respect the deduction of this order from modern history is at all unsatisfactory; and secondly, upon his own assumption of a far elder origin, to explain how it happened that for sixteen entire centuries no contemporary writers have made any allusion to it."

Solomon Semler is one of the few writers whose erudition is unquestionable, and who have supported this view; but the facts which he cites are entirely inconclusive. He proves the existence in the fourteenth century of "an association of physicians and alchemists who united their knowledge and their labours to attain the discovery of the Philosophic Stone." It is this association to which the alchemist Raymond Lully 1 apparently refers in his "Theatrum

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[paragraph continues] Chymicum," 1 printed at Strasbourg in 1613, as a sec society existing during the fourteenth century in Italy, and the chief of which was called Rex Physicorum. Figulus 2 states it to have been founded in 1410, and asserts it to have merged in the Rosicrucian Order about the year 1607. The same careful investigator cites an anonymous letter, published at the end of the sixteenth century, and stating the age of a certain secret society to be above two thousand years. It is also asserted that the alchemist Nicholas Barnaud conceived in 1591 a project of establishing a secret convention of theosophical mystics, who were to devote themselves to a determined investigation of all Kabbalistic sciences, and that he scoured both Germany and France with this object. Finally, the "Echo of the God-illuminated Order of the Brethren R. C." tells us that in 1597 an attempt was actually made to found such a society, apparently on the lines laid down by Barnaud, and it is a remarkable fact that the preface to the Christian Reader which is prefixed to this curious publication, is dated June 1597, while that which is addressed to the

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[paragraph continues] Brotherhood is dated 1 Nov. 1615, the book itself not having appeared till 1620.

These facts and statements are of the highest interest and of very considerable importance within their own, sphere, but the existence of secret associations even two thousand years old, much less the attempts occasionally made to establish others, affords no proof that they were in any way connected, or are to be identified, with the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, whose violent anti-Papal prejudices and ultra-Protestant principles are sufficient proof of a post-Lutheran origin.

The only sect or association with which the Rosicrucians may be pertinently compared, and which we hear of before the year 1610, is the Militia Crucifera Evangelica which assembled at Lunenburg in 1598 under the auspices of the mystic and theosophist, Simon Studion. Its proceedings are reported in an unprinted work from his pen entitled "Naometria, seu nuda et prima libri, intus et foris scripti, per clavem Davidis et calamum (virgæ similem) apertio; in quo non tantum ad cognoscenda tam S. Scripturæ totius, quam naturæ quoque universæ, mysteria, brevis fit introductio--verum etiam Prognosticus (stellæ illius matutinæ, Anno Domini 1572, conspectæ ductu) demonstrator Adventus ille Christi ante diem novissimum secundus per quem homine peccati (Papa) cum filio sur perditionis (Mahomedo) divinitus devestato, ipse ecclesiam suam et principatus mundi restaurabit, ut in iis post hac sit cum ovili pastor unus. In cruciferæ militiæ Evangelicæ gratiam. Authore Simone Studione inter Scorpiones. Anno 1604." As this work exists only in manuscript, and as there is no transcript of this manuscript to be found in the English public libraries, my chief knowledge of its contents, and of

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the sect which it represents, is derived from an unsatisfactory notice by Professor Buhle, who describes the Militia as a Protestant sect heated by apocalyptic dreams, and declares the object of the assembly to have been apparently "exclusively connected with religion." But it is clear from the life of Studion that he was passionately devoted to alchemy, and the spiritual side of the magnum opus was probably the aim of these enthusiasts, who are otherwise identified in their views with the illuminati of the Rose-Cross. Like these they believed that the books of Revelation and of Nature were intus et foris scripti, written within and without, that is, they contain a secret meaning for the initiates of mystical wisdom; that the unaccountable appearance of new stars in the sky was significant of important events in the approximate future; that the last day was at hand; that the Pope was Anti-Christ and the Man of Sin; and finally, as Buhle himself confesses, the "Naometria" contains a great deal of mysticism and prophecy about the Rose and the Cross.

These points of resemblance are, I think, insufficient to establish a connection between the Militia Crucifera Evangelica and the Rosicrucians in a logical mind, but they are certainly curious and interesting. It will be shown in the next chapter why the symbolism of the Rose and the Cross was common to both associations.

The antiquity of the Rosicrucians, as I have hinted, finds few supporters at the present day, this view being chiefly confined to the members of pseudo-Rosicrucian societies, and to the pseudo-historian of the order, Mr Hargrave Jennings. From the fictitious importance unaccountably ascribed to the ill-considered and worthless work of this writer, it seems necessary to conclude with a short notice of the incoherent

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and visionary ramblings in "The Rosicrucians: their Rites and Mysteries." Mr Jennings may congratulate himself on being "that distinguished esoteric littérateur," who writes the worst English of this or any century, but he is a great man, a magician of the first order, in the important matter of titles. I freely confess that his work on this subject is so attractively labelled that it exercises an irresistible charm over the student. "The Rosicrucians: their Rites and Mysteries, with chapters on the ancient Fire and Serpent Worshippers, and explanations of the Mystic Symbols represented on the monuments and talismans of the Primeval Philosophers," is a label not otherwise than superb. It is a "strong delusion" which tempts the hesitating purchaser, and has often prompted the too credulous reader, by the subtlety of its mystic charm, "to believe"--at least the very opposite of what is true.

The book, so far as the Rosicrucians are concerned, begins with an account of an "historical adventure in Staffordshire," which is curiously distorted in the interests of an inexpensive sensationalism, and after much loquacity on "the insufficiency of worldly objects," we are introduced in the seventh chapter, without preface or apology, to the "Mythical history of the Fleur-de-lys," Druidic Cromlechs, and Gnostic Abraxas Gems. The rest of the work is Rosicrucian certainly, so far as the titles of the chapters are concerned, but not further. Thus we have "The Rosy-Cross in Indian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Mediaeval monuments," "Presence of the Rosicrucians in Christian Architecture," &c., but the chapters themselves are devoted to the lingam and the great pyramid, Persian fire-worship, phallic and serpent symbolism, and etymological speculations which would have astonished even Godfrey Higgins,

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and which Kenealy himself would disown. Doubtless these things are connected in the mind of Mr Hargrave Jennings with his mysterious and ubiquitous Brotherhood, for his diseased imagination perceives Rosicrucianism everywhere, "as those who believe in witchcraft see sorcery and enchantment everywhere." This connection, however, he nowhere attempts to establish, and it is incredible to suppose that the shallow pretence has ever imposed on anyone. The few statements which he makes concerning the Fraternity must be rejected as worthless; for example, he tells us that the alchemists were a physical branch of the Rosicrucians, whereas the Rosicrucians were a theosophical sect among the alchemists.

I have deemed it unnecessary to consider the alleged connection between the Templars and the Brethren of the Rose-Cross, for this hypothesis depends upon another, now generally set aside, namely, the connection of the Freemasons with the foregoing orders. It is sufficient to say that the Templars were not alchemists, that they had no scientific pretensions, and that their secret, so far as can be ascertained, was a religious secret of an anti-Christian kind. The Rosicrucians, on the other hand, were pre-eminently a learned society, and they were also a Christian sect.


211:1 This personage is not to be confused with the author of the "Ars Magna Sciendi," the illuminated philosopher and evangelist of Parma in Majorca, who united the saint and the man of science, the metaphysician and the preacher, the apostle and the itinerant lecturer, the dialectician and the martyr, in one remarkable individuality. The alchemist Raymond Lully, "one of the grand and sublime p. 212 masters of the science," according to Eliphas Lévi, lived after 1315, the date of the martyr's death, and nothing is known of his history, except his astounding transmutations. He is said to have been a native of Ferrago, and has peen described as "a Jewish neophyte." John Cremer, the abbot of Westminster, describes his reception by Edward I, King of England, who gave him an apartment in the Tower to perform his transmutations, but the welcome guest soon found himself a prisoner, and with difficulty effected his escape. See "Cremeri Abatis Westmonasteriensis Testamentum," in the "Museum Hermeticum," 4to, Francfurt, 1677-78. Camden, in his "Ecclesiastical Monuments," gives also some details of Lully's sojourn in England.

212:1 C. 87, p. 139.

212:2 Benedictus Figulus was the author of "Pandora Magnalium," "Paradisus Aureolus Hermeticus," "Rosarium Novum Olympicum et Benedictum," "Thesaurinella Olympica," all published in 1608.

Next: Chapter VIII. The Case of Johann Valentin Andreas