subota, 24. svibnja 2008.

Rosicrucianism - Order of the Rose Cross

The obvious major symbol of our Society is the Rose Cross. Indeed it is within the very title of the foundation manifestoes from which we derive our purpose as a Masonic body. Those manifestoes being the Fama Fraternitatis (1610) and the Confessio Fraternitatis (1615) or basically, The Fraternity of the Order of the Rose Cross and The Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity. The very core symbol of our Society is the rose flower attached to the center of a cross. This paper will concern itself with that symbol, how it has evolved and what it has meant. I will also explore its relationship to our soul, much like the lambskin apron: it is at once the symbol of the journey and the goal.First of all, let us explore the symbolism of the rose and the cross individually. The cross is a symbol that is about as universal and ancient as any symbol that has emerged out of man's psyche. The cross symbolizes the meeting at right angles of horizontals and perpendiculars. Forces going in quite opposite directions but meeting at a central point, a common ground. It can symbolize the union of opposites and the dualism in nature. It can be the outstretch archetypal man with the infinite possibilities of growth being immortal. It represents eternal life. The cross can symbolize the decent of Spirit into matter. It is the intersection of the level of time with the Eternity of the Spirit. The cross is the axis of the cycle of the year whose spokes are the equinoxes and solstices. It is the crossroads where the four directions meet. In a Christian sense the cross signifies acceptance of sacrifice, suffering, and death as well as immortality. There is a legend that the cross of Christ was made out of wood from the Tree of Knowledge, the cause of the Fall, making it the instrument of Redemption. In the Egyptian mythos the crux ansata or - a type of cross - was a symbol of life, immortality, and health. It is held by the gods and goddesses. It also represented the union of Isis and Osiris.Numerologically, the cross is sometimes represented by the number four. Within our own teachings: "No.4 is the Mystic number, and indicates the operative influence of the four elements. Under this number, or the geometrical square, Pythagoras communicated the Ineffable Name of God to his chosen disciples." In the Hebrew alphabet the last letter is called Tav. And Tav means "mark" or "cross" and its original form was written much like ankh or cross. I could go on with many more examples but I think we can see that the cross transcends human culture in both time and space. It is a symbol that ties us all together as a Brotherhood of Mankind. It is a symbol that goes to the very root of our being. The rose (Latin, rosa, in Greek, rhodon) also is a symbol that has a rich and ancient history. And like the cross, it can have paradoxical meanings. It is at once a symbol of purity and a symbol of passion, heavenly perfection and earthly passion; virginity and fertility; death and life. The rose is the flower of the goddess Venus but also the blood of Adonis and of Christ. It is a symbol of transmutation - that of taking food from the earth and transmuting it into the beautiful fragrant rose. The rose garden is a symbol of Paradise. It is the place of the mystic marriage. In ancient Rome, roses were grown in the funerary gardens to symbolize resurrection. The thorns have represented suffering and sacrifice as well as the sins of the Fall from Paradise.The rose has also been used as a sign of silence and secrecy. The word sub rosa "under the rose" referring to the demand for discretion whenever a rose was hung from the ceiling at a meeting. In the Mysteries roses were sacred to Isis. It is also the flower of her son Harpocrates or younger Horus, the god of silence. Numerologically, the rose represents the number 5. This is because the wild rose has 5 petals. And the petals on roses are in multiples of five. Geometrically, the rose corresponds with the pentagram and pentagon. Our teachings state: "No.5 is the emblem of Health and Safety; represents Spirit and the four elements." The Pythagorean brotherhood used the pentagram as the symbol of their school.The number five being associated with the rose has linked them with the 5 senses. In an absolute sense the rose has represented the expanding awareness of being through the development of the senses.

Background on the Societas Rosicruciana

in the 17th century, three Rosicrucian manifestos were anonymously published: Fama Fraternitatis in 1614, Confessio Fraternitatis in 1615, and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz in 1616. Together, they presented the legend of a German pilgrim named "C.R.C." (later introduced in the third manifesto as Christian Rosenkreuz). The legend tells that this pilgrim studied in the Middle East under various occult masters and founded the Rosicrucian Order, which aimed to bring about a "universal reformation of mankind." During Rosenkreuz's lifetime, the Order was said to consist of no more than eight members, and when he died, the Order disappeared, only to be "reborn" in the early 17th century at the time of the publication of the manifestos.

The initial Rosicrucian manuscripts began to be circulated in Germany around 1610. They were published in 1614. Since that time there have been no shortage of fraternities, organizations, and groups of all kind claiming direct lineage to the unknown authors of the documents. The truth or falsehood of these various societies does not concern us here. It is enough to say that the most legitimate fraternity is that one which most seriously studies and practices its own doctrine. So I proceed with the beginnings of our Society - our Society meaning the original S.R.I.A.

The main personality in our beginning is Robert Wentworth Little (1840 - 1878) who basically founded and organized the Society in 1866. R.W. Little became the first Supreme Magus and his certificate is dated December 31, 1866. (The minutes of the first meeting however are dated June 1, 1867.) He undoubtedly had counsel from others including Kenneth Mackenzie. There are many names associated with the beginning years of our Society that have contributed much to Masonic history. The grade structure seems to go back to a society founded in 1757 by Hermann Fictuld (Gold- und Rosenkreuz). The structure was first published in 1781 in the book The Rosicrucian in his Nakedness (Der Rosenkreitzer in Setner Blosse). It is thought that the rituals were found in the Grand Lodge library and translated from the German by William Henry White for Robert Little.
When Little died at age 39 in 1878 he appointed Dr. William R. Woodman (1828-1891) to succeed him. And when Woodman died in 1891 he in turn appointed William Wynn Westcott (1848-1925) who held the office till his death in 1925. These latter two, Woodman and Westcott, along with another S.R.I.A. member, Samuel L. Mathers (1854 - 1918) founded another society in 1888 designed to take these rites to an even deeper and more symbolic level. This society was called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. By 1893 there were 5 temples in operation. Many of the members were drawn from the S.R.I.A., but they also allowed women members. My purpose in mentioning the Order of the Golden Dawn is that the symbol of the Rose-Cross emerged from that Society in a much more profound way than ever before. It becomes the symbolic embodiment of much of the Rosicrucian Order's teachings. And I will consider that form later in this paper. But before I can do that I want to review the basic teachings of our First Order, the first four grades: Zelator, Theoricus, Practicus, and Philosophus.

The Aims and Teachings

For the aims of our Fraternity of the Rose Cross I can quote from from our Monitor:

"The aim of the Society is to afford mutual aid and encouragement in working out the great problems of Life, and in searching out the secrets of Nature; to facilitate the study of the system of Philosophy founded upon the Kabalah and the doctrines of Hermes Trismegistus,... and to investigate the meaning and symbolism of all that now remains of the wisdom, art and literature of the ancient world." (page 5)

Therefore, our main study consists of the material we call Kabalah and Hermetics. It is the foundational studies of the philosophy "inculcated by the original Fratres Rosae Crucis."

These teachings are presented to us in a graded structure of degree work. The work is delineated as follows:

Zelator (I°): "Is recommended to study the powers and properties of Numbers, and the philosophy of the Hebrew Kabalah, in which the relations between Numbers, Letters, Words and Things are defined." In this grade we are introduced to the Four Ancients - the elements, the Cross, the Pentagram, and the symbol LVX

Theoricus (II°): "...the mysteries of Nature, of mineral, vegetable, and animal life are proper studies, and its ritual of admission teaches you that beyond the colors, as well as the forms of objects, there are occult relations which need investigation." We also hear doctrines on the Elements, the Zodiac, the Hebrew Divine Name IHVH and the four worlds of the Kabbalistic philosophy.

Practicus (III°): "The Grade of Practicus has special relation to the ancient art of alchymy and the modern science and art of Chemistry." In this grade we hear the alchemical terms of Sulphur, Salt, and Mercury. The terms "the Black Dragon" and "Solve et Coagula" are also referred.

Philosophus (IV°): "... teaches the need of the highest mental culture in order to comprehend the works of the philosophers, and the sacred volumes of the World Religions."

These are the teachings of the First Order which culminate in the entrance grade of the Second Order - Adeptus Minor (V°) which relates to the center of the Tree of Life - the Sphere of the Sun, sphere six.

It is to these grades of Adeptship that the Rose Cross lamen corresponds in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It is to that symbol that we can now turn our attention; for, that symbol is the symbol par excellance of the synthesis and attainment of all the Work in the First Order.

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