The amount of historical research into the phenomenon known as Rosicrucianism has been considerable over the past decade. Any number of published works on the subject almost unanimously focus their attention upon the 17th Century European foundation of the traditional Order. These works point out that the Invisible Order was founded in Germany, several centuries earlier, by an individual known as Christian Rosenkrutz. It is said that in order to perpetuate an ancient tradition he had initiated a few brothers into the mysteries of the Rose Cross. The successors to these brothers brought to light the existence of the Order in 1614, with the publication of the first Rosicrucian manifesto Fama Fraternitatis. However, the actual foundation of the Order is believed to have taken place on the occasion of the opening of the allegorical crypt of Christian Rosenkrutz, ten years prior to the publication of Fama Fraternitatis.
Although historically the foundation of the Order was in the 17th Century Europe, there is a considerable discussion among scholars on the traditional roots of Rosicrucianism. The name Rosicrucian is derived from the Latin: ‘rosae’ and ‘crux’ popularly translated to mean the ‘rose cross’. Historically, the R+C (Rose Cross) has had both an outermost public interpretation, as well as an inner, hidden meaning, derived from less known sources. Its symbolic significance is the key to understanding the intentions and objectives of Rosicrucianism.
To identify these intentions from an historical point of view one should look at the nature of the religious, scientific, and secular turmoil of the Middle Ages of Europe. In this light, one of the three Rosicrucian Manifestos is considered to be a mythological lesson. A lesson that proclaims the social need to establish a traditional institution to guide humanity towards spiritual truth and personal enlightenment. The publication of the Manifestos created a tremendous stir among the intellectuals, scientists and Royalty of Europe. What it offered them was a specific process and guidance for an educational, moral and scientific reformation of society. It united the educated and influential of Europe in a common goal. Although the Order was surrounded in mystery, historical minds will easily trace the significant impact and changes it brought to Europe, and subsequently to the world.
Another and more accurate approach to the intentions of Rosicrucianism is to look at its traditional aspect. A researcher venturing into that area will find many resources frequently conflicting with each other. The reason for that is a highly symbolic and allegorical language of Fama Fraternitatis, the first and most important source of information on the R+C Tradition. Since there had not been a physical Order or individuals that could be contacted, the public reacted with a multiplicity of opinions and speculations. In fact, within the first ten years several thousand publications related to Rosicrucianism appeared. Today, with the hindsight of a few centuries, those interested in the subject can easily identify the elements of the R+C Tradition. Since the true intent of any tradition is to perpetuate and preserve a cultural heritage and its inherent wisdom, we should have a look at the Rosicrucian beliefs and values. First, the Traditional Rosicrucian carries within their heart love, compassion and tolerance. In addition, it can be said that the Rosicrucians don’t follow the course of ordinary human standards, but rather those standards of an esoteric and spiritual realm. They seek the Truth within, and they live according to that truth. For the Rosicrucians purity is essential, clear direction a must, and selflessness is the act. These traditional values and standards point to the fact that a Rosicrucian is determined by what is in their heart, not by the organization or Order they belong to.
To even more appreciate the traditional aspect and intentions of the Order one needs to understand the inner, symbolic significance of the Rose Cross. This significance makes the Rosicrucians’ dedication to the advancement of humanity through enlightenment of the individual, self-evident. Rosicrucianism is a movement with a mission.
Today, as well as in the past, one can trace the existence of several Rosicrucian organizations or Orders. The question arises as to how to view these organizations. First, it needs to be remembered that Rosicrucianism is a traditional and initiatic movement. This movement sometimes solidifies into an Order or organization for a period of time -- meaning an individual or small group of individuals who have been properly trained and initiated into the Rosicrucian system will work together for a common purpose. This is how some Rosicrucian organizations started at the beginning of this century. Today there are several Rosicrucian Organizations/Orders. Some are legitimate by virtue of the attitude expressed (i.e., if they are open and tolerant, encourage their members to seek truth and apply it according to individual interpretation, are not oppressive, suppressive, arrogant, etc.). Others are not because the ideals are not properly represented. To better understand the role of the Rosicrucian organizations in perpetuating and preserving the R+C Tradition one may look at them from a different angle. Over a period of time, organizations, which can be likened to the physical body, tends to grow old, diseased, and eventually dies. This process is usually speeded up if too many insincere and self serving people get involved in the organizational and administrative aspects. However, it must be remembered that the tradition and initiation leading to inner self development of the sincere individual is the Soul and Spirit of the R+C path. That is what perpetuates the Movement despite what an organization does or does not do.
"To participate in a movement" is to truly understand the Rosicrucian tradition. Who was responsible for the introduction of the scientific methods, freedom of thought, the elements of democracy, the advancement of peace and culture, and many more? The philosophers and mystics, many of whom worked within movements and many within the Order.
This short attempt to show the history and tradition of Rosicrucianism points out the significant role it played in the past, and the bright place the future holds for it. Traditionally and historically, the Rosicrucian movement has always fought for the establishment and perpetuation of freedom – the freedom of mind, spirit, and soul. This website is dedicated to that movement.
Copyright © 1998 by The Rosicrucian Archive