Mishkan ha-Echad

Friday, 6 November 2015

A Rosicrucian by Any Other Name, Part 1

A common view espoused today is that a Rosicrucian may not claim to be a Rosicrucian, that doing so essentially shows that he or she is not actually a member of that Fraternity.

Peregrin Wildoak raised this topic in his recent blog post with a number of sources for this rule, and though the sources may appear initially compelling, there are a number of issues which make me question just how authentic this prohibition really is, and how valid it is in the context of the Golden Dawn.

1. The primary sources for Rosicrucianism are, of course, the Fama and Confessio, and it is the Fama that gives us six articles that the ancient brethren bound each other to keep. The first two of these concern us, given that they are cited as evidence for the aforementioned rule.

"1. First, That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis.  
2. None of the Posterity should be constrained to wear one certain kind of habit, but therein to follow the custom of the Country."

Neither of these state that a Rosicrucian cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian. 

The first states that he or she should not profess to "any other thing" than to cure the sick. This, to me, is a clause about claiming abilities, not names.

The second is about the style of dress, that members of the Fraternity should not be required to wear a particular form of regalia, but rather blend in with the culture in which he or she is operating. This largely ties in with the concept of secrecy.

To my knowledge, neither the Fama nor Confessio say elsewhere that no one can claim to be a Rosicrucian, and, indeed, don't even use the word "Rosicrucian" at all. The concept, therefore, appears to have come much later.

2. The third pivotal text in the Rosicrucian corpus is the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (and, indeed, it is from here that we get the name of the founder of the Fraternity, it being rendered simply C.R.C. in the manifestos).

This text also does not use the term "Rosicrucian," but we do find the following:

"Now I having replied that I was a Brother of the Red-Rosy Cross, he both wondered and seemed to rejoice at it ..."

It is clear that the protagonist in this text claims to be a member of the Fraternity, and thus, by implication, he claims to be a Rosicrucian.

3. The prohibition appears to be much clearer in the following example, which is from the end of the Third Part of the 5=6 Ritual from the Hermes Temple of the Stella Matutina in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn:

“Finally, you must understand that you are never permitted to say to anyone not a member of this Order that you are a Rosicrucian.”

That seems fairly clear indeed, but the problem is that this line is not present in the original Golden Dawn 5=6 Ritual, nor in the AO ceremony. It seems it is a later addition by the Stella Matutina (which did not restrict its changes to the lower grades, but made several alterations to the Adeptus Minor ritual, including completely changing the Grip).

Interestingly, this line also does not feature in a Stella Matutina copy of the 5=6 Ritual from the Amoun Temple from c. 1914, suggesting the insertion of this rule was made after this date (and before the publication of Regardie's book).

Yet it is clear that this prohibition was never part of the original Golden Dawn teachings.

4. The Obligation of the 5=6 Grade does, however, make the following reference in relation to the Malkuth clause:

“Finally, if in my travels I should meet a stranger who professes to be a member of the Rosicrucian Order, I will examine him with care before acknowledging him to be so.”

This is more about the use of discernment and discrimination (the Virtue of Malkuth), encouraging Adepti Minores to test others claiming to be Rosicrucians. It does not prohibit them from claiming to be Rosicrucians, and it allows for someone who claims to be a Rosicrucian to be acknowledged as such if examined first.

5. Mathers and Westcott clearly did not have any problem with describing the GD as Rosicrucian, given that some papers are titled “Hermetic Students of the Rosicrucian Order of the G.D.” Likewise, the AO was sometimes referred to as “Rosicrucian Order of A.O.” More on these names, and the numerous other forms used by the historical Order, can be found here.

6. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), to which all three GD founders belonged, and from which some of the structure of the GD was adopted, clearly claims to be Rosicrucian, and Westcott explicitly claims it to be Rosicrucian in numerous places, not least of all the Historic Lecture given to Neophytes in the GD.

It seems to me, therefore, that this "rule" does not have as much basis as previously assumed.

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