No topic in the Western esoteric tradition is as mangled with disinformation and fantasies as the Rosicrucian tradition. One needs to separate the facts from the chaff to get at the heart of the matter.
So, let us take a look.
1) The Reformation of the Macrocosm:
The Renaissance was a cultural “rebirth” that followed the Middle Ages. But it was not all good. The German Peasants’ War (1524-1525) and the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) devastated Europe. Scientists who were hiding in the crevices of European society began to poke their heads out. It was safe — relatively speaking — to be a scientist. Nonetheless, the pyres of the “Burning Times” would not burn out in Germany until 1775. One still had to be careful. It was in this world of religious turbulence and scientific rebirth that the Rosicrucians emerged in 1614.
Philosophy and scientific innovation had influenced these Christian thinkers. In their hands, astrology and astronomy could coexist. Alchemy and chemistry could coexist. Natural magic and natural science could coexist. The line between the antiquated past and distant future was blurred. Rosicrucianism started as a revitalization movement. These movements seek to breath new life into stagnant cultures through a fresh infusion of ideals from the past. In the case of the Rosicrucians, the goal was religious and social revitalization through an infusion of Cabalistic and Hermetic ideas from the past.
Revitalization movements fall into the following categories:
The Rosicrucian movement fell into all four of these categories. During their era some people believed that the End Times were at hand. Simon Studion had predicted the apocalypse in his Naometria (1592). And the Great Conjunction of 1623 was an auspicious omen. The Rosicrucians believed that it was at hand. But unlike the fanatical millenarians of our modern times it was believed that this religious and social calcination would herald the coming Golden Age that Paracelsus had prophesied. Famine and war would lead to renovation in the form of heaven on earth.
The world would be burned to reveal its inner spirit. And all that was hidden within nature would be revealed in a bright flash of scientific revelation. Tommaso Campanella predicted the return of Elijah the Prophet in Monarchia Messiae (1604). The Rosicrucians believed that a messianic king known as the Lion of Septentrion (Lion of the North) would arrive and rule over a Christian utopia. Many associated Frederick V with the Lion of Septentrion. When he was defeated at the Battle of White Mountain (1620) the utopian dreams were dashed.
2) The Regeneration of the Microcosm:
The second goal is the regeneration of man. Regeneration is the process of bringing the soul to the true gnosis (knowledge) of God. It is the true goal of religion whether or not it is acknowledged. Regeneration has three effects: 1) man rises above the world and the influences of the stars; in other words, he learns to become responsible for his own destiny as opposed to being a victim of planetary and zodiacal forces, 2) man rises to such divine heights that he gains the ability to receive prophecy and work miracles, and 3) the man becomes a member of the invisible fraternity.
What is the invisible fraternity?
Well, instead of looking at it as a group of disincarnate Ascended Masters who guide humanity, it should be perceived as those incarnate individuals who are linked through time and space, who might not know one another, and yet are connected with an invisible thread. What is this invisible thread? Well, for the original Rosicrucians, who were Christians, it was the body of Christ — the invisible spiritual church of Sebastian Franck. But for modern Rosicrucians it could be the body of Osiris. Any persona associated with spiritual regeneration will suffice.
So, how does one go about regeneration?
3) The Science of Alchemy:
Alchemy is the science that allows for the purification of the soul. Andreae spoke against outer alchemy that sought to create gold in a lab. He instead emphasized the inner alchemy that facilitates regeneration. The gold of inner alchemy is love, the domain of the goddess Venus. To arrive at the gold we must imitate Christ or Osiris. We must suffer from the vicissitudes of life. We are metaphorically crucified or diced up into pieces. Our spirit is then released so that it can consume and digest the impurities of our lesser nature like a snake munching on a rodent.
When the spirit returns to our purified vessel we are resurrected. This cycle repeats several times throughout life. The ouroboros is a great symbol for this process — the serpent (higher nature) swallows its tail (lower nature) ad nauseam. Just when we are arrogant enough to think that the process is done the universe will give us another kick in the pants. Groups such as the Orden des Gold-und Rosenkreutz (Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross) used laboratory alchemy to prepare its initiates for the greater work of inner spiritual alchemy and magic.
4) THe Practice of Magic:
There are four varieties of Rosicrucian magic:
- Healing magic
- Natural magic
- Divine magic
Like Paracelsus before them, Rosicrucians are healers. Their methods are not only occult, but also scientific. Metaphysical healing is fine. It does work. But a true Rosicrucian is going to have at least a basic understanding of anatomy and first aid. He or she is going to have some basic knowledge of herbalism and pharmacology. You should know how to make some basic remedies. Herbs that correspond with the sun can be great for Rosicrucian healing magic. Natural magic is the magic of Ficino and Agrippa. It is the use of natural items, such as herbs and stones, that are infused with the virtue or quintessence of the planetary spheres. For example, one might wear a golden ring inset with citrine to attract the solar forces into their sphere of sensation (aura).
Theurgy is the magical process of climbing up Jacob’s ladder toward the godhead. The Holy Guardian Angel is an entity that is sometimes benign — often frightening. As an avatar or embodiment of the god within, it guides (or pushes) us up that ladder. The dilemma: Rosicrucians disagree about what that means. Does climbing the ladder lead to personal transcendence or universal transcendence? I would argue that personal development helps lead to the elevation of humanity as a whole. Divine magic is associated with communicating with entities, such as angels, that are higher up the ladder than we are. These entities can give us advice on how to avoid the pitfalls or make further progress on the path.
Thus, we have:
The reformation of social institutions through the use of a combination of messianism, millenarianism, revivalism, and utopianism.
And the regeneration of ourselves through the use of certain alchemical and magical practices.
Fraternally & Sincerely,