Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) wondered why a Rose and Cross symbol unites two elements with contrasted nature. The cross with its arms symbolizes the body. The Rose with its charming scent evokes the soul. The set et of the two symbolizes the mystery of the conjunction of the body and the soul.

Rosicrucianism, as a movement integrated in Western esotericism, deals with a knowledge that leads to the regeneration of the soul. Since the soul is not directly accessible, it is only possible to be treated, to a certain extent, by the intellect.

The Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, founded by the legendary Christian Rosenkreuz, proposed, through ancestral knowledge, to reorganize the European society in crisis

What are the origins of these enigmatic texts? What individual or collective authors would prefer to remain invisible and unnoticeable? What mysterious science did the Rosicrucians possess? Several researchers, such as Descartes, Newton, and many others, found a fertile ground in these matters.

In the 17th century, the Renaissance concept of the Primordial Tradition was very popular. When Corpus Hermeticum was rediscovered, it was attributed to Hermes Trimegistus. This collection of mysterious texts (about alchemy, magic, and astronomy) is a legacy of a traditional esotericism that crossed civilizations. Blooming in Alexandria, it was valued by the Arabs in the 6th century, then it penetrated the Christian West in the Middle Ages, where these sciences were developed, becoming, in the Renaissance, the basis of the so-called “western esoterism”, whose elements are important for the interpretation of the journey of Christian Rosenkreuz and the Rosicrucian Manifestos.

A third era, as popular as the Aquarius theme nowadays, was announced. It was the era of the Holy Spirit, enunciated by Gioacchino da Fiore, which would be introduced by a third manifestation by Elijah (the second had been John the Baptist) in which some saw Elias the Artist of Paracelsus, who was profusely quoted at the beginning of the 17th century.

The Northern Lion prophecy then announced a new era in which the yellow lion (that is, in alchemical iconography, sulfur) would oppose the eagle (that is, mercury) before establishing an era of happiness. Paracelsus also announced in Aurora Philosophorum that, just as Christ had come to rescue men, a very pure man would come in the last times to purify and liberate the Creation by dropping drops of pink blood thanks to which the world would be rescued from the Fall of Adam.

These were times of a Europe disturbed by the disconcerting scientific discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and of the maritime discoveries;  but also  of the Reformation, and  of  the Counter Reformation;  of the devastating epidemics of plague and famine resulting from unfavorable weather conditions; and o Elijah of the emergence of astrological conditions interpreted as predictors of reforms or even pronouncing the end of time, which provoked a very profound spiritual revolution that changed the foundations and the entire environment of our western thinking.

In general, it can be said that the founders of the Order of the Rosy Cross proposed Hermeticism as a solution to the reigning affliction. Addressing all sincere hearts, they stated: “for the universal and general Reformation of the whole world; with the news of the praiseworthy Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, written to all the scholars and sovereigns of Europe”.

Not taking into account the vast and interesting material under the aforementioned theories of its origins, it is certain that, in a nutshell, Fama and Confessio essentially used three streams of tradition: Paracelsianism, Neo-Joachinism and Renaissance Hermeticism.

The relations between Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism have remote origins. They were evoked in “The Muses Threnodie”, a poem by H. Adamson published in Edinburgh. In this text it can be read, “For we be brethren of the Rosie Crosse; We have the Mason word, and second sight”.

You may ask yourself why to connect the Square and Compass to the Rose and the Cross. The reason for that is that one obtains the advantage of an increased synergy, when combining both during his search for the LVX. The union is thus justified, as it makes Masons more introspective and capable of seeking within themselves the understanding of their relationship with the Creator. The Rosicrucians wonder about the mysteries of God, human beings, and the Universe. The account of the discovery of Rosenkreuz’s tomb, similar to that of the discovery of Hermes’ body, is the typification of the encounter of the human being with his soul, his Perfect Nature. Hermes has in his hand the Emerald Tablet that contains the secrets of Creation, which is represented by the book T that appears in the hands of Christian Rosenkreuz. The symbolism suggests that it is necessary to visit the bowels of the earth to find the Philosopher’s stone. These elements evoke the idea that whoever manages to know himself, while penetrating into his own depths, will understand the secrets of God and the Universe.

Recommended reading

  1. Rui Lomelino de Freitas, Os Manifestos Rosacruzes, Lisboa: Alma dos Livros, 2020;
  2. Arthur Edward Waite, The Real History of the Rosicrucians, London: George Redway, 1887;
  3. Arthur Edward Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross: Being Records of the House of the Holy Spirit in its Inward and Outward History, London: William Rider & Son Ltd., 1924.
  4. Rodolf Steiner, Theosophy of the Rosicrucian, London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966;
  5. Frances A. Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1972.