The Tomb

Johannes Valentinus Andreae (1586 – 1654) was a German theologian, who wrote the Fama Fraternitatis (Fame of the Fraternity; 1614), a tale about a fictional sect of Christians known as the Rosicrucians, who were alchemists and magicians. According to the legend, a Catholic monk named Christian Rosenkreuz traveled to the Middle East, where he learned occult lore from the Muslims. He then returned to Europe where, unable to disseminate this information among the populace, he created a secret brotherhood. When Rosenkreuz died, at the age of 106, the location of his tomb was concealed from the records of the brotherhood.

According to the tale, the Rosicrucians constructed a building known as the Domus Sancti Spiritus (House of the Holy Spirit) that served as both church and college. A century downstream, a new generation of Rosicrucians was forced to renovate the aged structure, and therein discovered a secret door concealed behind a wall that bore the words: post 120 annos patebo (in 120 years shall I come forth). Behind the door was an elaborate seven-sided tomb that contained the remains of Christian Rosenkreuz. Also contained therein was the corpus of Rosicrucian lore.

As the Rosicrucians opened the door, divine light shone from the hexagonal chamber within. It resembled the türbék (6-8 sided mausoleums) that are prevalent in Asia Minor; this makes sense since Rosenkreuz is said to have spent much time there with the Muslims. The walls of the tomb represented the seven classical planets, as well as the seven alchemical stages. Each of the walls was also subdivided into a grid of 10 squares that represented the spheres of the cabalistic Tree of Life. The number 10 was also associated with the Pythagorean notion of perfection.


Each wall was 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide – an area of 40 feet – a number associated with the spiritual renewal of the world. This is important as the main goal of the Rosicrucians was a social and religious reformation. Each wall also contained a cache of occult supplies, such as books, that could be used to reconstitute the brotherhood in case of its dissolution. Unlike the tomb in the tale with its 70 squares (10 squares per wall), the vault of the Golden Dawn tradition utilizes a matrix of 280 squares (40 squares per wall) to represent the elements, planets, et cetera.

The light that illuminated the tomb represented the Ain Soph Aur (Infinite Light) of the Kabbalah. At its center was a circular altar engraved with the words: hoc universi compendium unius mihi sepulchrum feci (I have made my tomb the one compendium of the universe). The circular altar was also engraved with four figures that represented the four Hermetic elements. It also represented the four archangels that surround the Throne of God. It is the four chambers of the human heart that contain the inner spirit of Christ that must be reawakened within each student.

The floor beneath the circular altar was inscribed with the names of infernal spirits that represented the darkness of the underworld. Located within a sarcophagus underneath the altar was the imperishable, preserved corpse of Rosenkreuz. It was between these polarities of light and darkness – life and dearth – that Christian Rosenkreuz slumbered. Like the divine king of the Arthurian romances, he was destined to arise when certain conditions in the world were appropriate for his return. Later students of the Rosicrucian tradition associated him with John the Evangelist, who is destined to return alongside Christ during the events of Revelation.

The tomb of Rosenkreuz was analogous with the tomb of Christ. While an earthquake had opened the tomb of Christ, construction had opened the tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz. It was a womb impregnated with an embryo that had to gestate for a certain amount of time – 120 years in this case. It was the sealed flask of the alchemist that is opened once the alchemical processes are complete. The homunculus that has grown therein is a new transfigured body that replaces the old profane body. Like the transfigured body of Christ, the transfigured body of Rosenkreuz was impervious to the entropic forces of decomposition.

Like the bulls sacrificed within the subterranean temples of Mithras, the corpse of Christian Rosenkreuz represented the sacrifice of the physical nature. He represented the Philosopher’s Stone that is said to be located in the interior of the earth. It was the corpse of Christian Rosenkreuz inside the sarcophagus that represented the eternal soul that awaits either judgment or reincarnation (depending upon your beliefs). The sarcophagus of Rosenkreuz represented the lower nature of man. It was the physical body formed from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). It was the coffin that carried the corpse of Osiris down the Nile. It was also the Ark that carried Noah across the waters of the deluge.

While the tomb in the fictional Fama Fraternitatis was a vivid location that existed in the imagination of its author and readers, the Golden Dawn constructed their own version of the tomb that was used for initiation into the Portal grade. Some occultists believe that the tomb is a real place located at an undisclosed location in Europe. Harvey Spencer Lewis claimed that Rosenkreuz had been removed from the tomb and relocated to the western coast of the United States.[1] As Christ stated: “in my Father’s house are many mansions (John 14:2).” Those who have encountered the tomb of Rosenkreuz can attest to its existence as a spiritual location in one of the mansions of the inner planes.

Foot Notes:

[1] (…)

Author: Frater Dana

Dana Wright was born and raised within an esoteric Christian sect. He was introduced to the Rosicrucian tradition when he was seventeen. He studied cultural anthropology, comparative religion, and philosophy in university. He is known for his genuine, down-to-earth personality. He is accompanied on his spiritual journey by his loving wife and daughters.

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