Mishkan ha-Echad

Sunday 8 November 2015

A Rosicrucian by Any Other Name, Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous blog post, questioning the supposed rule that a Rosicrucian cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian, I have discovered some additional references that really do make it clear that the Golden Dawn founders, at least, did not accept this view (and, indeed, violated it, if there ever was such a rule then to violate), and it was also not (and still is not) held by many others within the wider Rosicrucian community.

1. Mathers wrote an open letter that was published in the public occult journal Lucifer (run by the Theosophical Society) in 1889 (just one year after the founding of the GD), challenging a group called the Order of the Dew and the Light, which claimed to be the true and only descendants of the "Fraternitas Rosae Crucis."

He explicitly stated that he was writing "on behalf of the Metropolitan College of the Rosicrucian Society of England," openly named Woodman as head of that same order, and stated that Westcott was Secretary General. Mathers signed the letter with his full name, rank, and title.

At no point were mottos used here. All three founders were publicly declared as members of the SRIA, and thus were Rosicrucians. While Mathers does not explicitly state "I am a Rosicrucian" in this letter, it is clearly implied, and anyone reading it would have been certain that Mathers viewed himself as a Rosicrucian.

2. In a letter to the same journal, Westcott (signing with his real name) wrote the following (in response to an attack on the SRIA for its alleged focus on dinners and suppers, which Westcott obviously disputed):

"we Rosicrucians confess to taking dinners and even suppers also when we require them ..."

There is no room for ambiguity here. Westcott literally says that he, and other members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, are Rosicrucians.

3. In 1916, Mathers wrote an article for The Azoth Magazine (published in 1917), with the following title and byline:

The Real and True Rosicrucian Order
by its Head, The Comte de MacGregor de Glenstrae

While Mathers did not use his full name, it was pretty clear who he was, and what he claimed: that he was the head of the real and true Rosicrucian Order, and that, therefore, he was a Rosicrucian.

4. In an obituary for Mathers written by A.E. Waite and published in the public esoteric journal The Occult Review in 1919, Waite describes how he met Mathers around 1883 in the British Museum, and some of the first words Mathers said to him:

"I am a Rosicrucian and a Freemason; therefore I can speak of some things, but of others I cannot speak."

Here we see Mathers literally speaking the very words that some today suggest are forbidden (or somehow proof that the person is not what is claimed). Again, there is no ambiguity here, and no way to interpret this other than to say that clearly Mathers, like Westcott, did not believe in this supposed prohibition.

5. What of other Rosicrucian streams, however? While my focus is obviously on the GD side of things, I have been unable at present to find any other sources of this alleged rule. Indeed, I have found the opposite.

An organisation called the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis was established by Paschal Beverly Randolph in 1858, and one John B. Pilkington wrote about meeting Randolph to a Boston newspaper in 1861, stating these as Randolph's words:

"I am a Rosicrucian, and cannot accept money; keep it."

6. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) openly claims to be a "society of Rosicrucian Freemasons," and publicly lists the names and contact details of the secretaries of its various colleges on its website. Again, no mottos. Real names. In doing so, the implication is that they are claiming to be Rosicrucians, and therefore see no problem with it.

Now, it is open to debate whether or not such public presentation is good or wise, or if it is becoming of such a Fraternity long held to be secret, and I can see the merits of such arguments (and counter-arguments). Even Waite wondered this in relation to Mathers' announcement to him.

Yet that debate is beside the point. The focus here is on whether or not it is Rosicrucian tradition that one cannot claim to be a Rosicrucian. I believe the numerous examples given above, and in my previous post, raise some serious doubts about this supposed prohibition.

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.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Lamens of the Golden Dawn, Part 1

For decades, the designs on the Lamens worn by the Officers in Golden Dawn ceremonies has largely been taken for granted, with the vast majority of people relying on or replicating the forms given in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn, or other books.

The original source material shows some subtle, and not so subtle, differences, which I will highlight in this series of articles.

To begin, let us look at the Lamens as given in Regardie's book:

Next, let us look at the original designs drawn by Mathers, with his accompanying description beneath them (click the image for a larger version):

There are numerous points of interest here, but for now I will focus on one that I think has been consistently overlooked: the fact that the Lamens of the Inferior Officers (Kerux, Stolistes, and Dadouchos) do not have a white circle (or border) around them.

Of course, it is always possible that Mathers made a mistake, forgetting to add the circles, but the descriptions below them, where the borders for the Superior Officers are mentioned, and none are mentioned for the remainder, makes this an unlikely scenario.

Another possibility is that he altered the designs after drafting these, but evidence elsewhere suggests that this is not the case.

For example, Z1 describes the Lamens in some detail, giving quotations from the previous ceremonies, and the outer circle is explicitly referred to in the case of the Hiereus and Hegemon, and inferred in the case of the Hierophant, while also being drawn in accompanying full-colour diagrams.

Z1 makes zero mention, however, of there being surrounding circles in the Lamens of the Inferior Officers, supporting the form as outlined in the above diagram by Mathers.

Interestingly, those worn by the Hierophant, Hiereus and Hegemon are all referred to as a "Great Lamen," while the remainder are just called Lamens, which also highlights their distinction.

This is further exemplified in a diagram showing these three Lamens on the Tree of Life, with their accompanying circles, a version of which is published in Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Frater YShY.

Further still, there are surviving AO drawings of several of the Lamens, dating from around 1904, and these only show the circles for the Superior Officers.

While some may see this as being a minor point, if we accept that symbolism is important, as evidenced by the Great Lamens on the Tree of Life diagram, then we must in turn accept that errors in symbolism are also important.

Of course, it is always possible that the Stella Matutina changed the design of the Lamens, and Israel Regardie subsequently inherited this change, but I think the above shows that in the case of the original GD, and the AO, the Lamens of the Inferior Officers did not have a surrounding circle.

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