In 1408, a former monk and nobleman, Christian Rosenkreuz, founded a group known as the ‘Rosicrucian Brotherhood’. It was a secretive order of non-Catholic Christians who were seeking knowledge of alchemy and magic. This group was first described in a pamphlet called Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis released in Cassel, Germany in the year 1614. It details Rosenkreuz as having wandered through Christian, Muslim, Dharmic, and pagan lands in search of esoteric and spiritual knowledge.
Upon his return to Germany, he attempted to share all his knowledge and wisdom he had acquired but was ridiculed and shunned by the community. He and a small group of others decided to form a secret society called the ‘Fraternity of the Cross’, where they constructed a temple called the Spiritus Sanctus. The Order consisted of no more than eight members, each of whom was a doctor and a bachelor. Each member was required to take an oath to heal the sick without payment, to find a successor for himself before he died, and to maintain the secrecy of the Order for up to 100 years. The group was also concerned with encouraging the enlightenment of Mankind and was anticipating the day when it would free itself from the shackles of organized religion.
Entry into the order itself was said to have been a secretive process, and only chosen individuals with similar thought patterns would be admitted. The confirmation of the brotherhood’s background and direction were written in Confessio Fraternitatis which was published in 1615 and proved the concept of alchemists and sages planning an enlightenment of Europe. A year later Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz was published, which was an allegorical tale of a wedding between a king and a queen in a magical castle. The publication of these writings harnessed much interest in the movement, so branches of the movement were created throughout Europe. It is a general belief that the Rosicrucian order contributed to the creation of Freemasonry.
Some believe the Rosicrucian publications were not to be taken literally, and only to be taken in allegorical form. In his autobiography, Johann Valentin Andreae, a Lutheran philosopher and theologian, claimed to have anonymously published the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz as one of his works, and used it as an object of subtle ridicule. By fusing together romances of knighthood and travel, he was attempting to promote anti-Papal visions. Certainly, he criticized the concept of the Rosicrucians as mere foolishness throughout his life, however the order’s sacred symbol of a rose in the center of a cross was taken from Andreae’s own family crest.
While Andreae’s work was intended as mockery, an unintended consequence ensued. In the seventeenth century, groups claiming direct link to the one mentioned in his work sprang up across Europe. While in the eighteenth century, the Freemasonry campaign was established with help from Rosicrucians members. It is suggested that the Comte of Saint Germain was highly influential in both organizations and surely his expertise in alchemy, medicine, and transmutation would have been of interest to early followers of these movements.
In modern times, the Rosicrucian movement continues as a select branch of the Freemason community. One of the best-known groups is the Ancient Mystical Order Rosea Crucis, or otherwise known as AMORC, which operates a mail-order mystical school out of San Jose, California in a gigantic complex which houses a temple, museum, art gallery, planetarium, auditorium, and library. This non-sectarian organization was founded in 1910 by Harvey Spencer Lewis, and is open to women and men of 18 years and older regardless of their religious affiliations. Harvey Lewis is an associate of Aleister Crowley and a former member of his Ordo Templis Orientis and is accepted as being the main world-wide division of the movement, with followers across the globe.
The main objective of AMORC is to inspire and instill spiritual liberation in fellow humans so that free spirits can come to their own conclusion of God. The idea of freeing humanity from the shackles of organized religion is still the basis for the group today. Followers of the Rosicrucians teachings are suggested to pursue knowledge in the hidden secrets of nature like mental, psychic, and spiritual existence such as physics, metaphysics, biology, psychology, parapsychology, comparative religion, traditional healing techniques, health, intuition, extrasensory perception, material and spiritual alchemy, meditation, sacred architecture, symbolism, and that mystical state of consciousness relating to the experience of unity with the Divine. While the initial publications written by Johann Valentin Andreae, that instigated Rosicrucianism were created as derision, it appears a significant movement did take hold, and carry on through time.