According to the Fama Fraternitatis, the Rosicrucians rediscovered the lost tomb of their founder, Christian Rosenkreuz, while renovating one of their buildings. One of the Rosicrucians accidentally discovered a secret door hidden behind a stone wall. The door bore the words: post 120 annos patebo (once 120 years have passed). Behind the door was an elaborate tomb that represented Rosicrucian cosmology.
The tomb was a hexagonal (seven-sided) vault representing the seven classical planets. It also represented the seven liberal arts and sciences. Each of these seven walls was divided into a grid of ten squares that represented the Tree of Life. The number ten also represented the Pythagorean ideal of perfection and completeness.
Each wall was 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide — an area of 40 feet — a number associated with spiritual renewal. There were 70 squares (7×10); conversely, the RR+AC Vault uses a matrix of 40 squares, with squares that represent the elements, planets, and signs of the zodiac. Each wall also contained a cache of occult supplies that could be used to reconstitute the fraternity in case of its dissolution.
In the center of the tomb was a circular altar engraved with the words: hoc universi compendium unius mihi sepulchrum feci. We can translate this phrase to mean: “I have made my tomb the one compendium of the universe.” The circular altar was also engraved with four figures that represented the four elements. It also represented the four angels that surround the Throne of God. It also represented the four chambers of the human heart that house the dormant spirit of Christ. It was also analogous to the Round Table of Arthurian legend.
The ceiling that illuminated the vault with light represented the Limitless Light of the Cabalists. The floor, inscribed with the names of inferior spirits, represented the darkness of the underworld that Christ visited while he was dead. It is between these polarities of life and death that Christian Rosenkreuz remained in suspended animation.
The “Sleeping King” is a prominent archetype in many legends. For example, in Christianity, John the Evangelist shall sleep in his grave until the coming of the Antichrist. King Arthur was taken to Avalon to rest until the people needed him again in Arthurian legend.
The tomb of Rosenkreuz was analogous to the tomb of Christ. While an earthquake opened the tomb of Christ, a construction project 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. The sealed flask of the alchemist is opened once the fermentation process is complete. The homunculus is the product of the alchemist who can grow a new transfigured body within the glass flask that is his old profane body.
The tomb represented the alchemical process of fermentation. Like the transfigured body of Christ, the transfigured body of Christian Rosenkreuz was impervious to the entropic forces of decomposition. Like the slain bull in the underground temples of Mithras, the body of Christian Rosenkreuz represented the spiritualization of the lower physical nature into a higher spiritual ideal. The transfigured body of Christian Rosenkreuz represented the infamous philosopher’s stone (heart) that is said to be located in the interior of the earth (physical body).
The casket of Christian Rosenkreuz represented the lower nature of man. It was the physical body formed from the dust of the ground. It was analogous to the coffin that carried Osiris down the Nile after being imprisoned. It was also comparable with the Ark that carried Noah over the waters of the deluge. On the other hand, the preserved corpse of Christian Rosenkreuz inside the sarcophagus represented the eternal soul that sleeps in the grave. The soul awaits either judgment or reincarnation (depending upon your views).