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The Kabbalistic Teaching Painting of Princess Antonia of Württemberg in Bad Teinach

 

Die Kabbalistische Lehrtafel der Prinzessin Antonia zu Württemberg in Bad Teinach

Village Church at Bad Teinach in Germany

For what we do presage is not in grosse,

We are brethren of the Rosie Crosse;

We have the Mason Word and second sight,

Things for to come we can foretell aright.

-- Henry Adamson, from "The Muses' Threnodie" (1638)


Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism

 

As briefly discussed in the Introduction, a number of only slightly disguised symbols of both Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism were noted in the center panel of the Lehrtafel. Examples of such symbols are as follows:

Freemasonry:

1) The Jachin and Boaz pillars are prominently displayed in the front of the temple;

2) the tessellated flooring of the "Holy of Holies;"

3) and the only slightly disguised Compass and Square symbol above the dome of Solomon's Temple.

Rosicrucianism:

1) Use of a red and white rosebush hedge around the garden in front of the temple;

2) use of a stack of rose petals as a motif upon the tops of both the Jachin and Boaz pillars;

3) placing of an only slightly disguised Rosicrucian symbol in the middle of the temple dome;

4) use of Kabbalah symbolism, i.e., the ten tree of life symbols (the Sephiroth) that appear on the facade of the temple and in the garden.

This close intertwining of both Masonic and Rosicrucian motifs suggest a connection with both societies by the men who designed the Lehrtafel. Accordingly, in this article, I will jointly investigate the existence of both of these Orders in 17th century Germany.

One of the earliest writers in the English language to jointly consider both Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism was Thomas de Quincy (1785-1859). His essay, first published in the London Magazine for the month of January 1824, was entitled: Historico-Critical Inquiry into the Origin of the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons. In that essay, de Quincy defines both the internal and external characteristics of both orders. His source for these attributes was an 1803 lecture given by the German scholar, Professor J. G. Bruhle of the University of Göttingen.

Internal Characteristics Which Are Maintained in Secrecy

I. As their fundamental maxim they assume complete equality of personal rights amongst their members in relation to their final object. All distinctions of social rank are annihilated. Both institutions were originally built upon the assumed personal equality of all the individuals who comprised them.

II. Women, children, and those who were not in the full possession of civic freedom, e.g., Jews, non-Christians generally, and in the early days of the orders (prior to the 18th century), Roman Catholics, were excluded from these societies.

III. Both orders make pretensions to the possession of knowledge of certain mysteries; that frequently relate partly to ends and/or means that are derived from the East. This occult wisdom may never be revealed to the profane. This striving after hidden knowledge especially distinguished these societies from others that also pursued unknown objectives. Because their main object was a mystery, and that it might remain as such, an oath of secrecy was demanded of every member upon his admission. Nothing of this mystery could ever be revealed to non-members, even during an interrogation by the police.

IV. Both of these orders have a fairly complex system of signs (e.g., that of recognition) usages, symbols, myths, and festivals. Even though some parts of these rituals and mythologies may already known to the public, they will confirm conclusions drawn from other historical data as to the origin and purpose of these institutions. For example, we may be assured that the original Freemasons must have had some reason for appropriating unto themselves the attributes and emblems of real handicraft Masons. Even though this part of their ritual they are far from concealing, such that in London they often parade in public on solemn occasions attired in full costume.

external characteristics which are Publically Available to the Outside world

I. Public profession of beneficence; not only to the Brothers of the Order, but also to the general public. Many nations in Europe, where lodges have previously existed or still do exist, are indebted to them for the establishment of many institutions which have as their main objective the mitigation of human suffering.

II. Both Orders are compatible with every form of civil constitution. The orders are amenable to all reasonable forms of social arrangements prevailing amongst the nations, however widely separated in policy and laws.

III. The Orders do not impose celibacy. This is a criterion that distinguishes it from most religious orders, and from many of the old knightly orders in which celibacy was an indispensable law.

IV. The Orders require no peculiar costume or mode of dress (except, indeed, in the official assemblages of the lodges, for the purpose of marking the different degrees), no marks of distinction in the ordinary commerce of life and no abstinence from civil offices and business. Here is another remarkable distinction from most European religious and knightly orders.

V. Every member possess the full liberty to dissolve his connection with the Orders at any time, without even acquainting the superior officers of the lodge. Of course, a member cannot release himself from the obligation of his vows of secrecy. Also, even after many years of voluntary separation from the order, a return to it is always allowed. Conversely, in the religious and knightly orders, members may have the power of leaving them; but under no circumstances may they ever return to full membership.

In assigning the above cited internal and external characteristics of the Rosicrucians and Freemasons, Thomas de Quincy has said nothing of the distinctions between the two orders themselves. However, de Quincy does make the following assertion:

Rosicrucianism, it is true, is not Freemasonry; but the latter borrowed its form from the first. He that gives himself out as a Rosicrucian, without knowing the general ritual of masonry, is unquestionably an impostor.

We shall now begin to consider the differences between the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians.

Each of these organizations have a central myth or legend about which the unique characteristics of each group have been constructed:
 

Basic Masonic Legend - Death and Resurrection of Hiram Abiff

The legend of Hiram Abiff has a partial Biblical basis from First Kings, Chapter 7 and Second Chronicles, Chapter 2: there it is stated that King Hiram of the Phoenician City of Tyre sent a skilled architect, also called Hiram, to Israel to assist King Solomon in the building of his great Temple. The Masonic legend continues as follows:

Hiram Abiff was "a widow's son" from Tyre, skilful in the working of all kinds of metals; he was employed to design and supervise the construction of King Solomon's Temple.

One day, while worshiping the Grand Architect of the Universe within the Temple "Holy of Holies," Hiram was attacked by three apprentice Masons named Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum - these three were known collectively as "the Juwes." The three men demanded that Hiram give them the "Master's word," i.e., the secret name of God. Hiram refused as this word could only be given to those who had become initiated as Master Masons.

The first man, named Jubela, then struck Hiram across the throat with a 24 inch gauge. The second man, named Jubelo, struck Hiram's breast, over the heart, with a square. The third man, named Jubelum, struck Hiram upon the forehead with a gavel. Hiram fell dead. His blood had been shed within the temple.

After his death, Hiram's body was carried out of the East gate of the Temple and buried outside Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.

Early the following morning, King Solomon visited the temple construction site and found the workmen in confusion because no plans had been made for the day's work. Fearing that evil had befallen Hiram, King Solomon sent out twelve Fellowcraft Masons to look for Hiram, three Masons to each of the four cardinal directions. King Solomon himself accompanied the three Masons who journeyed towards the East.

Having finally located the grave of Hiram, Solomon and his fellow Masons exhumed the body. A search was made for the Master's word (the Name of God), but all that was found was the letter "G". Finding the word lost, they cried out: "O Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?"

The Masons first took hold of Hiram's body with the "Boaz" grip of the first degree. This failed to achieve its purpose.

They then re-positioned their hold upon Hiram's body using the "Jachin" grip of the second degree. This also failed to accomplish its purpose.

Solomon finally raised Hiram from the dead by using the third degree grip of the Master Mason and by uttering in Hiram's ear the phrase "Ma-Ha-Bone."

Immediately after these words had been uttered, Hiram Abiff was resurrected from the dead. He stood up and departed from them saying that he was being ushered into a more glorious existence. This marks the end of the basic legend.

Basic Rosicrucian Legend - Life of Christian Rosenkreutz

The first Rosicrucian Manifesto, known as the Fama Fraternitatis, gives an account of the life and adventures of Christian Rosenkreutz (CRC), the legendary founder of the Rosicrucian Society.

According to the Legend, CRC was born in the year 1378 of a poor but noble family; he lived to reach the age of 106, which means that he died in about the year 1484. Having lost his parents when still a boy, he was placed in a monastery when he was only five years old. There he learned Latin and Greek. At fifteen years of age, finding the strict rules of life in the monastery unsatisfactory, he joined a monk, Frater P., on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to visit the Holy Sepulture. His fellow traveler, Frater P. died soon their arrival on the Island of Cyprus, but CRC proceed alone on his journey to Damascus. At Damascus poor health detained him , and he remained studying with astrologers and physicians. Hearing of groups of wise men living in Damcar, an ancient and mysterious city in Arabia, CRC jorneyed to Damcar and arrived there when he was sixteen years old. In Damcar he was received by the wise men as someone they had long awaited; he remained among them for three years, learning the Arabic language and translating their book "M" into Latin. Subsequently, he sailed for Egypt, where he continued his studies. After additional travel in the Mediterranean, he arrived at Fez, the most famous city in Morocco. During the Middle Ages it was one of the most important centers for the study of the Alchemical Arts. At Fez CRC was instructed concerning the transmutation of metals and other substances.

From Fez he crossed over into Spain, carrying with him many rare medicines, curious animals, and wonderful books. There he conferred with the learned men of Madrid, but met an unfavorable reception. So, deeply discouraged, he returned to Germany, where he built himself a house on the brow of a little hill and devoted his life to study and alchemical experimentation.

After a period of five years, CRC selected three faithful friends from the old monastery in which he had been initially educated. They began to arrange and classify the great knowledge that he had acquired. Thus, the Rosicrucian Brotherhood was founded. Later four additional members were accepted into the Brotherhood. Under the direction of the Frater CRC, as Head of the Order, they began building a Temple, called the "Temple of the Holy Spirit." When this temple was completed, the Brothers, being by now thoroughly instructed in the mysteries and the sciences, agreed to separate. Five of the Brothers traveled to distant lands to promulgate their doctrines among the wise men of the earth. The travelers were to return to the Temple at the end of each year, or to send an excuse for their absence.

The society thus formed was governed by a code of laws. The first rule was that they should take unto themselves no other dignity or extravagance except that they would be willing to heal the sick without charge. The second rule was that from that they should wear no special robe or garment, but should dress according to the customs of the country wherein they dwelt. The third rule stated that every year upon a certain day they should meet in the "Temple of the Holy Spirit," or, if unable to do so, they should be represented by an epistle. The fourth rule stipulated that each member should search for a worthy person to succeed him at his own demise. The fifth rule stated that the letters "RC" should be their seal and mark from that time forward. The sixth and last rule specified that the Fraternity should remain unknown to the world for a period of one hundred years.

When the first Brother of the Order died, in England, it was decided that the burial places of the members should be kept secret. Soon afterward, Frater CRC called the remaining six brothers together. It is supposed that he then prepared his own symbolic tomb, a perfect miniature reproduction of the universe. The Fama Fraternitatis records that none of the Brothers alive at the time of its writing knew when Father CRC died or where he was buried. His body was accidentally discovered, 120 years after his death, when one of the Brothers decided to make some alterations in the "Temple of the Holy Spirit." While making the alterations , the Brother discovered a memorial tablet upon which were inscribed the names of the early members of the Order.

The memorial plate was of brass, and was affixed to the wall by a nail driven through its center; but so firmly was it attached that, in tearing it away, a portion of the plaster came off, thereby exposing a secret door. Upon removing the incrustations from the door, there could be read, in large letters, the following inscription:

POST CXX ANNOS PATERO (After One Hundred Twenty Years I will appear)

After having gathered the other members of the Order, they waited until sunrise the next morning; the brothers then opened the heavy door. They discovered a heptagonal vault. Each of its seven sides measured five feet wide by eight feet in height. Each wall had several well-known symbols inscribed on them. The vault was illuminated by an artificial sun in the ceiling; it was so bright that it was almost blinding to the eye.

To their amazement, in the middle of the floor there stood, instead of a tomb, a circular altar on which was an inscription saying that the vault had been erected by CRC as a compendium of the universe. Many other inscriptions were seen about the room, including:

JESUS MIHU OMNIA, LEGIS JUGUM, SET FREE EVANGELLII (Jesus is my all, the yoke of the law, the liberty of the Gospel)

Each of the seven sides contained a door opening into a closet. In these closets, the Brothers found many rare and valuable articles such as bells, mirrors, and lamps. There were also three books: the History And Life of the Founder; the Vocabulary of Paracelsus; and the Secrets of the Order. Lastly, upon removing the altar and the brass plate beneath it, to their surprise, they came upon the body of CRC in a perfect state of preservation. This event completes the basic legend of Frater Christian Rosenkreutz.

Origins of Freemasonry

In my opinion, both Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism arose in Western Europe, mainly in Britain and Germany, during the 16th century, The people behind these movements were mostly Protestant supporters of the early Lutheran, Anglican and Presbyterian churches. Almost from the beginning, both movements were closely associated with each other. Indeed, Rosicrucianism may be considered the more elite, esoteric wing of the 16th and 17th century Freemasons. Support for this position comes from the noted English occultist, Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942). In one of his books, published in 1924, Waite provides the following extract from a 1777 German Rosicrucian document (a secret document of the Order) which purports to give the legendary history of the Rosy Cross:

... In the documents on which I depend there is a traditional history, otherwise a Legend of Foundation, presented in various forms to authenticate the Rite, and it may be summarised thus: ... (12) That on such account it was reformed in the sixth century, A.D., by Seven Wise Masters and was brought in fine to its present position and development. (13) That the better to conceal their real purpose the Superiors of the Order established those lower Degrees which pass under the name of Freemasonry. (14) That they served, moreover, as a seminary or preparation for the higher curriculum of the Rosicrucian Order and as a kind of symbolical prolegomenon. (15) That at the same time Masonry has deteriorated on its own part and has passed almost beyond recognition, being profaned and adulterated by so many idle and useless additamenta. (16) That all this notwithstanding it remains the preparatory school of the Rosy Cross and from this source only can the Order itself be recruited. ...

-- From The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (first published in 1924), pages 441-442.

Lastly, the fact that the Lehrtafel of Princess Antonia contains hidden symbolism from both of these organizations is fully consistent with my hypothesis; the scholars who aided in the design of this painting were probably associated with both groups.

Era of Operative Freemasonry:

In the Middle Ages, members of the stone mason guild, unlike almost all other European guilds, were not bound to the parish or village in which they were born; thus, they were termed to be "free" - that is they were "Freemasons." Few men had the unique abilities required in building complex stone structures, especially churches and cathedrals; accordingly, these skilled masons were permitted to travel and find work throughout all of Christian Europe. While on a building project, they were "lodged" in temporary structures that were attached or near the building under construction. In these lodges, they ate, slept and received their work assignments from the master of the work. The freedom they enjoyed was almost unprecedented for the time. To maintain their privileges, guild masters exercised strict control over the selection of those who would be permitted to enter into apprenticeship. During training, high levels of achievement were required from each apprentice. Furthermore, instructors in the trade taught high moral values to these young men. In addition to possession of the practical skills of the trade, members were also expected to display high ethical standards and maintain a loyal fellowship with their peers. During this era of Operative Freemasonry, the stone masons possessed unprecedented privileges compared to members of most other craft guilds; however, they still functioned as a genuine craft guild.  Ritual elements of the guild were still relatively simple and there was no evidence that a sophisticated philosophical outlook was being promulgated.

Era of Speculative Freemasonry:

During the 16th century, Freemasonry underwent a gradual gentrification process, particularly in Scotland. The guild rolls began to include an ever increasing number of non-operative members, who were notable for their social position in society not for their building skills. Guild rituals began to include elements of an increasingly speculative nature and demonstrated that an infusion of sophisticated philosophical ideas was occurring. Many Scottish lodge records, from this time period, have survived which demonstrate this transition from an Operative to a Speculative kind of Freemasonry. Unfortunately, no records of English lodges have survived prior to 1717. Even so, it is probable that by the beginning of the 17th century, Speculative Freemasonry become dominant, not only in Scotland, but probably in England as well. Due to their close political and religious ties with England, Speculative Freemasonry probably had spread to the German Rhineland as well, most notably to the Palatinate and Württemberg.

In the 17th century, references are found concerning Freemasonry in personal diaries and journals. For example, the noted English antiquary, alchemist and probable Rosicrucian, Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), was initiated as a Mason in 1646; his diary cites attendance at several Masonic meetings. There appears to have been a general spread of Freemasonry in Britain throughout the 17th and early 18th century. In 1717, four English Lodges, who were meeting in various London Taverns, joined together and founded the Grand Lodge of England. Taverns where they had held meetings included the Apple-Tree Tavern, the Crown Ale-House near Drury Lane, the Goose and Gridiron in St. Paul's Churchyard, and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Westminster. After 1717, the existence of Masonic lodges begin to appear in public records throughout Europe.

Origins of Rosicrucianism

The renowned English scholar and historian, Dame Frances A. Yates (1899-1981), intensively studied the occult movements of 16th and 17th century Europe. In her book entitled: The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (first published in 1979), she reached the following conclusions concerning the origins of Rosicrucianism and its connection with both the Christian Kabbalah and Freemasonry (see pages 197-199):

"At the end of the chapter on Francesco Giorgi [1466-1540] in the first part of this book, the suggestion was raised that Giorgi's philosophy may be closely related to the philosophy of Rosicrucianism. It is certain that Robert Fludd's vast volumes on the universal harmony, the Utriusque cosmi hisoria published at Oppenheim in 1617-1619, are heavily influenced by Giorgi and represent, in essence, the Giorgi philosophy in later form. Fludd [1574-1637], as we know, was associated with the Rosicrucian movement. Was, therefore, the influence of Giorgi which we have traced in the Elizabethan Age and called an influence of Christian Kabbalah really the same as an influence of Rosicrucianism, a movement possibly connected with secret societies and particularly with Freemasonry? ...

" ... It was certainly not called a Rosicrucian philosophy in Giorgi's time. How then did it acquire that name and the associations which go with it? Many suggestions as to the origin of the name have been made, but in moving along the historical line which we are following, the suggestion which seems most likely is that Giorgi's type of Christian Kabbalah acquired this name when it became associated with Elizabethanism, with the Tudor Rose, with Dee's scientific British imperialism, with a messianic movement for uniting Europeans against the Catholic-Habsburg powers. ...

" ... The epic poem which celebrated this movement was Spenser's Faerie Queene. A central character in that poem is the Red Cross Knight. Spenser's poem, I would suggest, is already a Rosicrucian poem, with Red Cross as the moving spirit of occult Protestantism. In fact we know that later German Rosicrucian writers associated Spenser's poem with their movement.

"Thus Rosicrucianism was present in England in the form of Spenserianism, before the name 'Christian Rosenkreutz' appeared in Germany as the central character of the German Rosicrucian manifestos, published in 1614-1615.

"How did the English knight, Red Cross, turn into the German 'Christian Rosenkreutz'? The transition is fairly clear and has been indicated in my book [Rosicrucian Enlightenment]. The German Rosicrucian manifestos reflect the philosophy of John Dee [1527-1629]  which he had spread abroad in the missionary venture of his second or continental period. One of the Rosicrucian manifestos contains a tract which is closely based on Dee's Monas hieroglyphica. Thus the Dee philosophy, which lies behind Spenser's poem, when carried abroad by Dee would quite naturally translate Red Cross into Christian Rosenkreutz."

Dame Frances Amelia Yates (1899-1981)

 The Harmony of the World - Francesco Giorgi and Robert Fludd

I'm not sure that I completely agree with Yates regarding her view that the Venetian Friar and Christian Kabbalist, Francesco Giorgi (1466-1540), was the principal philosophical father of Rosicrucianism; however he was probably one of  the intellectual resources that the writers of the Rosicrucian Manifestos (see below) used in developing their belief system.

In his book entitled De Harmonia Mundi (1525), Giorgi proclaimed that it was through the application of Pythagorean mathematics that "the fabric of the soul and the whole world was arranged and perfected." Some art historians have asserted that Giorgi put his ideas into practice when he designed the church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice (1534). German art historian, Rudolf Wittkower (1901-1971), has shown that this church may be considered as a practical application of the harmonies of macrocosm and microcosm. Understood in this way, the sacred geometry of the church could be interpreted as a metaphor of the mind of God.

The philosophy of Freemasonry contains similar views; sacred geometry was a secret science which had been handed down, first to the ancient Egyptians, and then ultimately to Hiram Abif, the builder of Solomon’s Temple. Accordingly, sacred geometry provided a way to have direct access to the structure of the Cosmos. Freemasons conceived of a utopian, ideal society based on the same principles by which master-builders constructed the temples of antiquity. For the Masonic architects of the eighteenth-century, geometry had a transcendental meaning:

" … Geometrical bodies were considered to be the most appropriate vehicle for reconciling man and his institutions with the external Nature. This geometry was not a method or operation. The figures were used because they were believed to be the fundamental constitutive and visible elements of Nature. ... "

-- Pérez-Gómez, Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science, pages 159-60.

A century after Giorgi, the English Rosicrucian defender, Robert Fludd (1574-1637), expressed similar ideas in his book entitled: Utriusque cosmi Maioris scilicet et Minoris metaphysica, physica atque technica Historia (published at Oppenheim in 1617-1619), in two Volumes.

In this vast two volume work, Fludd attacked Aristotle and other ancient philosophers of his school; he attempted to replace them with an understanding of nature based on Christian principles, using as his guide the Mosaic books of the Bible. He interpreted the Creation account in Genesis as a divine alchemical process, and looked for truth in the Hermetic and Neoplatonic works of late antiquity and the Renaissance, which he interpreted as mirroring Christian truths. He pictured the universe with a central earth surrounded by the sun, moon, and planets. Midway between the center of the earth and God, he located the sun. The region of divinity was located beyond the fixed stars. According to Fludd, relative distances in the heavens could be found by studying the celestial monochord and mathematical musical harmonies. Divine truth, Fludd contended, could be found in the macrocosm-microcosm analogy and that humans and divinity were linked through nature. The microcosm was intimately related to the macrocosm, for the seat of the Holy Spirit was in the sun, which emanated light and the spirit of life, which made life on earth possible.

Robert Fludd was born in Bearsted, Kent on 17 January 1574 and died in London on 8 September 1637. He was a prominent English Paracelsian physician, astrologer, mathematician, cosmologist, Kabbalist, and supporter of the Rosicrucian movement. In the Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau, he was alleged to have been the sixteenth Grand Master of the Prieuré de Sion.

Frontispiece to Volume I of Fludd's book.

German Rosicrucian Manifestos

In the early 17th century, three manifestos, purportedly by a secret Brotherhood of the Rose Cross, were published in Germany as follows:

1) Fama Fraternitatis at Kassel, Hesse in 1614;

2) Confessio Fraternitatis at Kassel, Hesse in 1615; and

3) Chymische Hochzeit (Chemical Wedding Of Christian Rosenkreutz) at Strasbourg in 1616.

The Fama Fraternitatis proclaimed the existence of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood to the world and called for sincere Christian reformation. The Confessio Fraternitatis gave more details on Rosicrucian history and teachings. The Chymische Hochzeit was a profound and highly symbolic alchemical work. The Fama Fraternitatis explicitly referenced the Vocabulario of the noted physician and alchemist, Paracelsus of Hohenheim (1493-1541). Indeed, many modern Rosicrucians believe that Paracelsus was the real life model for the mythical alchemist, Christian Rosenkreutz, described in the manifestos.

The real authors of these documents have never been discovered; however, many years later, a Lutheran theologian named Johann Valentin Andreae (1586-1654) claimed that he was the author of Chymische Hochzeit. This same Andreae is known to have been an advisor to Princess Antonia of Württemberg. It should also be noted that Andreae was named in the Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau as having been the 17th Grandmaster of the Prieuré de Sion, the successor of Robert Fludd!

Taken together the manifestos called for a spiritual, scientific and artistic reformation of the European social order on all levels. The manifestos were purportedly authored by men who claimed to be members of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood; their reform proposals were addressed to "all the learned men of Europe." These documents triggered a considerable response not only in German speaking lands, but also in other European countries. The appeal for reform struck a chord with the educated elite, particularly the Protestant elite, who had become disappointed in the Lutheran and Calvinist reformations, and the Catholic Counter-reformation; these people felt that Christianity should be about living a true Christian life, in daily practice.

The Manifestos advocated a program of innovative, experimental research into the workings of the material world as part of a scheme designed to understand and explore the natural world. People who believed in independent thought and who were willing to place the findings of experimental research above the authority of Aristotle or Galen, were among the most enthusiastic readers of the Rosicrucian Manifestos.

Following the publication of the manifestos, an intense debate ensued which included many printed responses, both pro and con, that were issued during the next fifty years after the initial distribution of the manifestos. It has now been almost four centuries since the Rosicrucian Order first announced its existence. Even so, there continues to be as much speculation about the Order regarding its secrets, history, and existence as there was in 1614. The only certainty is that more questions than answers remain concerning the true origins of this secret society!

Let me conclude this article with some very fine words written by Johann Amos Comenius (1592-1670), taken from his work entitled Via Lucis. Francis Yates has stated that this quote could well serve as the principal text for both the "Rosicrucian Enlightenment" of the 17th century and the Aufklärung of the 18th century:

"If a light of Universal Wisdom can be enkindled, it will be able both to spread its beams throughout the whole world of the human intellect (just as the radiance of the sun as often as it rises reaches from the east to the west) and to awake gladness in the hearts of men and to transform their wills. For if they see their own destiny and that of the world clearly set before them in this supreme light and learn how to use the means which will unfailingly lead to good ends, why should they not actually use them?"

References

1) Arthur Edward Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (London: 1924).

2) Christian Rebisse, Rosicrucian History and Mysteries (San Jose CA: 2005).

3) Frances A. Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London: 1972).

4) Nicholas Goodricke-Clarke, The Western Esoteric Traditions (Oxford: 2008).

5) Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence (2000), pages 191-235.

6) Thomas de Quincy, "Historico-Critical Inquiry into the Origin of the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons" - originally published in the London Magazine, January 1824.
 


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