(Printed by William Rider & Son Limited, London, 1924)
Brotherhodd of the Rosy Cross
I have met with no first-hand memorials of the Golden and Rosy Cross in the second half of the eighteenth century, excepting the Rituals which arose out of the Reformation of or about 17771. We do not know certainly whether that reform came about in the course of a natural development, as for example in exchanging the astral workings for those of alchemical experiment, or whether it was the result of disruption. It was a stormy period, and the history of Secret Societies—Masonic or otherwise— indicates that titles of adeptship may have had many claims on the good pleasure of Divine favour and recognition but they had few upon the peace of God. I conclude that the Golden and Rosy Cross underwent a revolution which it characterised by a different name. There is another point of uncertainty. We have no means of determining whether the circle about which we have learned so much owing to the survival of its Rituals was the only one of its kind in Germany and otherwhere on the Continent of that period. There may have been several branches admitting no allegiance to one another, but following their own path. In any case the Order survived, and there came a time when two of its important members—who were not, however, Supreme Superiors within the initiated circle—were the chief advisers of Frederick William II, with their hands on the helm of the Prussian ship of state. I refer to Johann Rudolf Bischoffswerder and Johann Christoph Wöllner2. The King himself had been received within the ranks, and for a period of eleven years there was the strange spectacle of a Rosicrucian triad ruling over the destinies of an European kingdom. But this period began in 1786 and the initiation of Bischoffswerder must have taken place—under whatever Obedience of the Order—prior to 1773; that of Wöllner is altogether uncertain; it may have been subsequent to the King’s reception, which is referable to circa 1780. I do not propose to pursue this subject because it offers nothing to my purpose and information concerning it is available in many quarters3. We are told that the King was a tool in the hands of his brother-adepts and that Wollner in particular must be called his evil genius. In both cases, however, they were working for their own ends and not for those of the Order. This point seems perfectly clear from all that we know of their history. I set aside, of course, the bare possibility that the King’s treasury might at need have furnished money to the heads of the Rosy Cross through the influence of his two advisors, but no suggestion of the kind has been made from any direction. On the contrary, it would seem that the advantage of a royal patron and member was regarded in another light, for—at the value of such records—it is in evidence that the Master of a House or Temple at Hamburg, speaking in the name of the Highest Superiors, welcomed in absentia a Brother, then newly joined, under the name of Ormesus Magnus, as one who might be able to advance the Kingdom of Christ and the spread of the Order—presumably as a herald of His reign to come. Now Ormesus Magnus was the mystic name of Frederick William II as a Brother of the Rosy Cross4.
Meanwhile the Reformation of 1777 had by no means eliminated undesirables or malcoutents5. The impostor Schrepfer is an example of the first class his pretended evocations made him the comet of a season and there must be some ground on which he called himself a Rosicrucian, for he seems to have been acknowledged by Bischoffswerder, who ought to have known a fellow-initiate. The malcontents also were in evidence, and this fact led to the establishment of other Rites and Orders by what may be called a process of segregation. They were made in the likeness of their original and advanced corresponding claims, e.g., to hold the key of Masonic Symbolism, possessing therefore all its secrets, or to represent the true and original Order of the Rosy Cross. We have seen that there were similar pretensions in France, but they owed nothing to each other and in all probability knew nothing of each other’s existence. Three years after the Reformation, or circa 1780, Clavel says that a last schisrn in the Order produced the Initiated Brothers of Asia in Austria and Italy, but coincidently therewith or proceeding immediately therefrom was an association of Fratres Lucis, otherwise Knights of Light, and this shall be the subject of investigation in the first place as considerable consequence has been attached to it in some modern occult circles. It has been named by a few continental historians of Freemasonry and has figured in a few lists, like those of Ragon, but there was no knowledge concerning it till the late Mrs. Isabel Cooper-Oakley took up the subject with that earnestness which always characterised her excursions in research. She had unfortunately no critical faculty and her sense of evidential values made her judgments worthless, but she was to be trusted implicitly about facts within her first-hand knowledge, and if she said that a document was in her hands, it was most certainly there. The point is of vital importance in the present connection.
Her study of the Fratres Lucis was based by Mrs. Oakley on one of many rare MSS. which were once in the library of the late Count Wilkoroki of Warsaw. In connection with the Rosy Cross in Russia, we shall see that this library was looted by Catherine II, but Mrs. Oakley found access to the collection, which is or was in the Imperial Library at Petrograd. It would seem also that she was permitted or found it possible to make extracts or a transcript in full, for she states that the documents belonging to the Fratres Lucis passed — apparently from herself — into the charge of a member of the Theosophical Society, “having been committed to his care for possible future use. Many years have elapsed, however, and it does not appear that any result has followed. The original MS. claimed to comprise or embody the system of the Wise, Mighty and Reverend Order of the Knights or Brothers of Light, working five Degrees, the titles and content of which will appear immediately6. It was either divided formally or falls naturally for purposes of consideration into two main sections — otherwise the Laws of the Order and the Rituals worked thereby.
The second division of the manuscript contains the Ceremonies of the Order in what is presumably a rough outline or at least summary form. Preliminary to the whole appear the general conditions on which reception is possible and may become actual. They may be enumerated in the following order: (1) As in the Brotherhood of the Golden and Rosy Cross, Candidates must be Master Masons, raised in a regular Lodge; (2)they must be free from physical defects, thus recalling the whole manhood required by the Craft itself, but the stipulation in the present case connotes something more than perfect limbs, this being insured already by the first condition: it is possible that there is a sex-implicit; 3) they must not be initiates of any other Secret Order: alternatively they must resign there-from, but it is unlikely that this undertaking was fulfilled by the Heads of the Fratres Lucis; (4) they must be at least twenty-seven years of age or otherwise Master Masons of seven years’ standing, thus intimating that minors were eligible for Masonic initiations at the place and time; (5) they must not be oppressors of the poor; (6) they must not be disputatious and quarrelsome, or must have repented sincerely, as the banal clause adds; (7) they must submit to a probation of seven months, five of which would be occupied by the Superiors of the Order with inquiries into their Masonic conduct and reputation. The significance of these rules is to be sought in all that is omitted rather than anything that is expressed: it will be seen that they turn upon questions of moral fitness, Craft status and tolerably good citizenship. There is no word as to spiritual qualifications, religious aims or attainments, although — by the hypothesis of its Grades — the Rite was one of priesthood. Supposing that the Intelligence Department reported favourably the seven-months’ child of its concern might then be born into the Order
On the day fixed for his reception the Candidate was placed in a vestibule, where he was proved in the Three Craft Degrees, after which he was passed to the Chamber of Reception, otherwise the Chapter House, and there signed the following preliminary Pledge: “ I, N. N., Master Mason, do promise in the Name of the one God, and by the duty of an honest man, that I will respect all the Mysteries and will observe all the Statutes which shall be imposed upon me by the Reverend, Wise and Worthy Chapter of Knights and Brothers of Light, Novices of the third year, and will hold them as a revelation of the ultimate forces of Nature, even if they seem difficult to follow and dealing with unheard of things.” The execution of this undertaking entitled the Candidate to be acquainted with the Laws under which he must abide as a Novice. These may be summarised as follows : (1) He was required to abstain from any action which might militate against the Order itself, its Chapters or its Grades; (2) to exhibit dutiful submission — as pledged — in respect of all its Laws; (3) to prosecute its Mysteries throughout the days of his life, because they emanate from the True Light; (4) to ask nothing respecting their source or those by whom they have been delivered;(5)to maintain, so far as may be possible, the Three Degrees of Freemasonry, seeing that they are the Elementary School of the Sublime Order; (6) to guard and shield the Reverend, Mighty and Wise Order itself.
Having signified his adhesion to these undertakings in writing, the Novice was then escorted into the Chapter itself, where he was questioned as to when and by whom he had been made a Mason, and as to his age in the Master Grade. The Headship being familiar already with these points of his career, the testimony was exacted presumably for the information of those who were auditors. Having been given and approved, an Officer denominated the Corrector of Novices called the Chapter to prayer by sounding a bell. The Invocation which follows has, however, been mangled in translation or is represented badly by the original7. “Thy Name, 0 God our Creator, is known throughout the earth8, and we give Thee thanks in Heaven. Out of the mouth of babes Thou hast established Thy strength against Thine enemies, that Thou mightest put to silence the accuser and the avenger.9 I behold the heavens, the work of Thine hands, the moon and the stars which Thou hast made.10 They that have ears let them hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the Paradise of God.11 And to the Angel of the Church of Smyrna write, saying: This is the first and the last, He that was dead and shall live again.12 They that have ears, etc. (repeated). To him that overcometh I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a good testimony written in his name (sic), but none shall know it save he that owneth it13. For all this hath the Lord spoken, and the word of the Lord is pure, even as pure silver, purged seven times.”14
The Corrector of Novices then exhorted the Candidate, bidding him pray to "the good elements of all creatures that the One and the Three and the Five and * * * * * * * may be with us and that they may direct thee on the path which thou hast entered.” Robing and unrobing followed, with the recitation of a Psalm, which is not otherwise specified. The Candidate was then warned that he had been brought within the secret circle in order that he might study the Laws of Divine Wisdom, Justice, Mercy and Power. He was called upon to abide among his Brethren in sincerity of heart, with the spirit of goodwill and submission, with love and devotion to the true ends of the Order. In the fulfilment of these conditions it was said that he would be taught “our Mysteries” fully and would be directed to that point when he himself should enter the light. On the faith of this prospect he ratified another Pledge as follows: "I, N. N., do swear by the one law of the True and Unknown Being that I will continue through all my life in fidelity to the duties of Knights and Brothers of Light. If I violate even one of them, may my Superiors, by the miraculous power of Magic, render me the most pitiable of all creatures. May the powers of evil rise up against me for ever, the cruel spirits which hide themselves from the light. May the powerful Princes of Darkness assemble about me all terrors of darkness, to encompass me as with a cloud. May they expel all light from my spirit, my soul and my body, and may the Source of Good, which is One and Three, shut me out for ever from its mercy."15
The Signs and Passwords are communicated in the next place, after which another Master of Novices delivers the Historical Discourse. It affirms the existence of various occult Societies from past times immemorial and under various names. In all cases their knowledge and objects were concealed in hieroglyphics, and thus reserved to the elect. The centre was always in Asia, and there on a day it came about that certain Knights were admitted who took part in the war against Saracens under the Banner of the Cross. They learned after this manner many mysteries in Asia, but the time came when part of them perished under a thousand tortures. The reference is of course to the suppression of the Knights Templar, whose story is told in brief. It is added that out of this ruin there arose what is called the Radiz, otherwise Knights of St John, as also "the German Order" — presumably Teutonic Knights — and the Golden Fleece.16 The wreckage of the Templar Mysteries was inherited by these Associations. Apparently, however, they were not the only heirs, for it is said that the Order of Freemasons, more ancient than any of the above, is that which has best preserved the hieroglyphics of Templar Knights. The Temple of Solomon was their most catholic symbol of all, yet it was used by the Chivalry itself, the Sanctuary of Israel being divided apparently into symbolic portions corresponding to the Grades of the Knighthood. The discourse is confused at this point and it is scarcely possible to understand what is intended. We hear of moral interpretations applied by Templars to sacraments and picture-symbols. It recurs then to Masonry and affirms without further preface that its real objects have been invariably those of Alchemy, Theosophy and Magia, but they have not been pursued owing to the ignorance of Brethren. The Fratres Lucis were, however, in a position to intervene and atone for this deficiency, by means of clear instructions, which would be given to deserving Novices.
In this manner the claim of the Order itself begins to emerge distinctly for the first time, and thereafter the Discourse proceeds to explain the Entered Apprentice Degree of Craft Masonry. The dark room used prior to reception signifies that the First Matter of the Great Work is found in a black earth. It is an earth which contains no metals, and these are removed from the Candidate prior to his reception for this reason. When he is divested of various garments the reason is that “Our Matter is stripped of the veil that Nature has given it.” It is said also that it can be “drawn as from the breast of a mother.” When the shoe also is removed the reference is to a certain mystical severance and is “one of the most ancient hieroglyphics known to the Israelites,” being connected with the refusal to take the wife of a deceased brother, the renunciation of an inheritance, and so forth. The battery which is made upon the floor as a token of affirmation or consent to the reception of Candidates “signifies that we procure our Matter from its habitation in a volcano and that the Order has for its chief objects the physical mysteries wrought by fire.” The hoodwink indicates that although the First Matter is luminous, shining and clear in itself, yet it can be found only in a most darksome abode—meaning the black earth already mentioned. The three circumanibulations which are made in the course of reception are called “laborious journeys “ and with their connected discourses and procedure are not interpreted alchemically: they signify’ the obedience, fidelity and silence which must be shown towards Chiefs, as well as “the toils, reflections, upright heart and open soul,” by which only the Novice can hope to rise towards them. But it is obvious that this is a blundering digression which has forgotten that its business of interpretation is at work on a Craft Grade. The confusion persists throughout the following clauses. The point of the sword making contact with the breast is a reminder that “no two-edged weapon must ever be used to slay our Hiram and obtain his precious blood, which is shown afterwards by a ‘weak’ Brother and his blood-stained handkerchief.” It is affirmed that this unintelligible reference — which has no Masonic application in our own day — is explained to the Knight-Novice of the seventh year. The silence preserved in. the Lodge intimates that our Matter,” after its due preparation, operates the dissolution of all metals in stillness. The compasses brought forward on a plate of blood and afterwards applied to the Candidate, with the subsequent elevation of the plate, intimate that “ we have another poniard,” being that which “we thrust into the bosom of our matter" and cause it to pour forth blood.” Whatsoever is repeated thrice indicates that the Matter is animal, vegetable and mineral. Finally, the name of Thooelkam (sic), conferred on the Candidate in virtue of his admission, is another reference to the fact that “our Matter lies where the volcano has its fire and its dwelling.”
The Tracing-Board offers an opportunity for further confusion between Masonic symbolism and that of the Fratres Lucis. The four cardinal points or quarters intimate that God has endowed the Chiefs of the Order with such wisdom that they are raised above all mortality, and that to them nothing is unknown. The four principal winds, considered as symbols, offer the same lesson. When the Smaragdine Tablet testifies that “the wind bears it in its belly,” the meaning is “carry the Matter, for it is the source and end of all things.” The border and the pointing finger are said to denote “our unchangeableness,” but this seems pure nonsense. The Masonic flooring reveals the well-known magic squares.
The Sign of the Hexagram appeared on the Tracing-Board and is connected with the words Aesh Mazor, whence it is said to signify the watery-flame or flaming water which belongs to the Hermetic work. The Sun and Moon typify the male and female elements, active and passive, corresponding to Jakin and Boaz. But it is affirmed that these have also their meaning in the operations of Divine Magic, to which statement is appended an unintelligible sentence, referring presumably to the Pillars of tile Sephirotic Tree, the Mystery of MERCABA, being the Symbolic Chariot of Kabalism. The last episode of the Grade was a further historical recitation, dealing more especially with the Order of Fratres Lucis and including a sketch of the Theosophia, Magia and Chemia belonging to the First Degree.
It seems that according to the ridiculous nomenclature of the Rite the Mason admitted to the First Degree became a Knight-Novice of the Third Year and that having been proved as such for a period of three years he was entitled to the Second Degree, which is Knight-Novice of the Fifth Year. It is difficult to believe that such a contradictory symbolical scheme of times could have obtained in any sane Ritual, and my inference is that Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, who was always a confused writer, has mismanaged her material. The ceremonial of the Second Degree is said to be substantially the same as the first, and it comes about for this reason that she presents some selections only from certain addresses delivered in the Chapter. They would appear to be explanations of Fellow-Craft Symbolism, though this is little better than speculation in the state of the summaries given. We hear of the “entrance" — whether of the Chapter or the Candidate it is impossible to say — and that it signifies an approaching union of those principles that are separate in themselves. The letter F, placed in the centre of a Blazing Star, signifies the active principle of the Creative Elohim. There is also an allusion to "the Seven Degrees,” which are not specified by name and it is impossible therefore to identify the Masonic Rite they correspond, however, to the seven metals which have to be perfected in the Hermetic Work and to the least number of “the true Jewish name of our Matter.” The following cryptic sentence is appended to this statement “Thus Zechariah saw one stone with seven eyes and finally seven wheels, which are our last workmen, by means of whom we raise ourselves to perfection.”18 The degrees, moreover, signify seven stars, the power of which is explained in our Kabalistic science, for Natural Magic is very useful and indeed necessary to our Chiefs in their work.”
The time of probation for the Third Degree is not specified, but its title is Knight-Novice of the Seventh Year, and it is either in analogy with the Craft Master Grade or the latter is expounded as to its inner meaning therein. (1) The Temple of Solomon is declared to be the general synthesis of the Hermetic Art. (2) It is affirmed to be clear from Ezekiel that Hiram has an universal
meaning — namely, NEPHESH, URIM, THUMMIM — and also that he was slain.19 (3) He signifies “our Matter, killed by three workmen in order that they may obtain the Word,”which Word is Jehovah, otherwise the Central Fire.20 (4) He was buried and the murderers secured his caput mortuum: it is said to appear “ as if the spirit were excited by rage” and that the Acacia is an illustration of the fact. (5) As to the nature of the Matter, this is shewn in the Master Grade: it comprises three kingdoms, and these are symbolised in that Grade by (a) the touchstone,21 corresponding to the mineral kingdom; (b) the “dead-head,” corresponding to the animal; and (c) by the Acacia, which represents the vegetable kingdom. (6) The Name or Symbol of Jehovah, which appears in the centre of a triangle, denotes the fulfilment of the Work, and this itself is called the Central Fire, otherwise “the greatest light.” After these explanations, however they may happen to have been communicated in the course of addresses, the Candidate is told as follows: “This Matter, Reverend Brother, is our book, which is here exhibited before thee, and after close study thou shalt find that it is adorned with all these qualities.” Mrs. Cooper-Oakley makes tiresome omissions and at points which seem to be vital, but I conceive it possible that some of them were actuated by a desire to reserve what she might regard as Masonic
Secrets. If the Philosophical Matter of the Fratres Lucis was literally a book, it is obvious that the work was not physical—in the sense of metallic transmutation — and if the qualities which it is said to contain are a reference to the three kingdoms specified above, then the latter must be understood in an allegorical or mystical sense. One is inclined to speculate whether the Knight-Novice of the Seventh Year had the Bible held up before him and was told that this was the touchstone — otherwise a key to all things — a “dead-head” or caput mortuum in respect of the cortex or external meaning, and the Acacia or sign of life and resurrection, a gage of immortality in respect of its inner meaning. As regards the Third Degree of the Order, I may add that there is one reference to Hiram, King of Tyre, of whom it is said that according to the Chaldaean book JALKOT he gained inexhaustible riches by his wisdom and was eight hundred years old. But a time came when he thought himself equal with God, and this led to his destruction. He fashioned two "beams” by his art and raised seven heavens upon them, in which he caused an altar to be erected, after the fashion of the Altar of God. The purpose of this adventure in emblematic building does not transpire, nor why it was counted against him as an evil work ; but the story says that God sent Ezekiel to pronounce judgment upon him, that he fell from the height which he had raised and was slain subsequently by men.
In the Fourth Degree the Candidate passes from Grades of supposed Knighthood into offices of priesthood, but as no one can see why his previous experiences should connect with the idea of chivalry, so now there is no reason on the surface, or perhaps beneath it, to account for him becoming a Levite. There may be, however, an explanation in the procedure which does not appear in the extracts. A Catechism contains the following unconnected and mostly inexplicable points. (1) Perfection is 1, 2, 3 and 4, but the sum of these numbers is 10, and the meaning may be that perfection is in the keeping of the whole Law alternatively the allusion may be to the denary scale of the Sephiroth and the emblematic mystery of their ascent. (2) The Perfect Flame is that which illuminates, blazes and destroys not. (3) The word Majim must not be pronounced while proving pure stones of marble. (4) Elohim is Eli and Ki, the light without will and the light with will, otherwise colourless and coloured, will being the source of colour. (5) The serpent which flies through the air and burns is represented by the ant found within its scale — referring, I think, to some rabbinical myth. (6) Moses was forty days with Scharnajim and brought back the natural laws, inscribed on a stone. Mrs. Oakley says that there are many more questions and answers, after which the officiating Brother offers the following Prayer “I beseech Thee, 0 Lord, to grant me two graces, and may they abide with me through all my life. Take away my idolatry and falsehood ; give me neither poverty nor riches, but only my daily bread. Vouchsafe unto me reason and wisdom, that I may learn both good and evil.” It may be added that the whole Ceremony is much shorter than those of the previous Degrees. Considerable stress is laid upon the ethical side of the Candidate’s life.
In the Fifth Degree and last the Levite becomes a Priest and is told that he has reached the end of the Secret Mysteries of a Royal and Sacerdotal Order. It is said also that he is approaching a barrier, through which he may pass, if God wills, being “enlightened by the light.” He is caused to perform certain ceremonial acts before a Sacred Fire which has been kindled with religious observances. Thereafter the Closing is taken. After making every allowance for a piecemeal translation which may be also indifferently done, it will be seen that on the surface at least the Candidate has learned little enough throughout and that there is practically nothing in the Degrees to deserve calling Ritual. In view of the references to light Mrs. Oakley cherished an opinion that the teaching of the Fratres Lucis was designed to lead members from the darkness of sense-life into that illumination of spiritual being which is our heritage. Her opinion on any subject having debatable elements cannot be said to count, and there is nothing apparently in her original to support the view. The barrier referred to in the Ritual most probably means the guarded threshold of the Fifth Degree, or alternatively the threshold of that secret knowledge which would have been held to lie behind the whole Rite. The intimations concerning it point to a medley of doctrine in combination with a medley of occult practices. As such the Order of Fratres Lucis does not stand alone there are other Rites in its likeness, though there is nothing to indicate that they have drawn therefrom. The characteristic, I am afraid, of all is that they lead nowhere. The highest Orders and Degrees of Masonry are shadows of things which have never passed into plenary expression, but they can open great vistas of symbolism beyond their own measures this is the distinction between them and a thousand others which were dead before they were born, which contain nothing and impart nothing in themselves, and have no windows from which we can look beyond.
Having exhibited the general Ritual-horizon of the Fratres Lucis, I will complete the available information concerning them by reference to the same source. The Order was divided into Provinces, particulars of which are wanting. If the scheme, as it may have been, was laid out on an elaborate scale, it will be understood that most of them were in a state of potential subsistence only, awaiting a day to come when Fratres Lucis would have acquired the Masonic world. Actually or hypothetically, each Province was governed by a Head elected by the Brethren over whom he was subsequently to rule. The Chapter on such occasion was in the hands of a Provincial Administrator, who sounded a bell seven times. The process of election began, the votes were taken, the result was announced in due course and the Head-Elect was installed immediately after. Psalm ii: “Why do the heathen rage?” was recited, after which the Chancellor-Assessor and Sword-Bearer uncovered the breast and head of the elected Knight. The questions of the time were then put, namely, (1) Whether he promised to have faith in the Good Author of all creatures to the end of his life; (2) whether he would observe the Statutes of the Order and maintain the same inviolate; (3) whether he would love the Brethren more than he loved himself. When the Assembly had been satisfied on these points, the Chancellor took a golden cup containing oil and anointed the head of the Knight-Elect crosswise on the crown, saying “God chooses thee as the Chief of His Elect.” Afterwards the left hand and breast were anointed, with the words: "David said unto the Philistines,22 etc. He was also and finally anointed on the right hand, but seemingly with no verbal formula. He was invested thereafter with the robes of his Office and with the Cap, the Chancellor saying “He who is the Chief Priest among his Brethren, on whose head has been poured the holy chrism and whose hands have been anointed, shall be clothed with this sacerdotal garment, and let him not uncover his head or rend his robe.” There were other exhortations, ending with this Prayer: “They who have ears to hear let them hear: he that overcometh shall have the first Tree of Life [sic] in the Paradise of God. And to the Angel of the Church [sic, meaning the Church in Smyrna] he shall write This is the First and the Last, Who shall die and live again [sic]. To him that overcometh I will give of the Hidden Manna, and I will give him a good certificate23 [sic], and this certificate he alone that hath shall know it [sic]. The lightning shall arise from the Altar, and also the Thunder and the Voice. And seven lighted candlesticks shall be before the Altar which represent the Seven Spirits of God. May God bless thee and keep thee: may God teach thee and be gracious unto thee: may God turn His countenance and give unto thee peace therefrom.”24
As regards the Laws of the Order they may be extracted thus: (1) The Grades comprised by the Rite, as already given; (2) Regulations concerning voting, election and so forth; (3) The decorations of the Temple, in the centre of which there was to be a seven-branched candlestick of gold; (4) Offences against the Order and complaints; (5) Rules for the preservation of right and order; (6) The vestments used in the Rite, but they are omitted by the translator; (7) Concerning alms; (8) Dues payable in the Order; (9i) The Chronology of the Order, and this is given as follows: The Chronology begins with the year of the reform which was inaugurated by John the Evangelist, Founder and Head of the Seven Unknown Churches of Asia, seven years after the death of Christ. By subtracting from A.D. 1781, the year in which the Order was founded, the 33 years of Christ’s life on earth and the seven which elapsed before St. John began his work, making 40 years, we arrive at the symbolical or rather mythical year which was arrogated to itself by the Order, namely, 1741. Were it revived at this day on the same basis it would assume the age of 1883 years. The subsequent Laws are devoted to questions of correspondence and business details.
It remains to be said that the manuscript on which Mrs. Cooper-Oakley depended was addressed to the Seven Wise Fathers, Heads of the Seven Churches of Asia, wishing peace in the Holy Number “—presumably the number seven. The Order comes therefore before us as that of a hidden Church or Holy Assembly, ex hypothesi like that of Eckartshausen, but passing into substituted manifestation by virtue of its ceremonial workings. The analogy ends at this point; but the reference to the Seven Churches opens a further question. We are taken back to the Asiatic Brethren or Initiated Brothers of Asia, otherwise the Knights and Brethren of St. John the Evangelist for Asia in Europe, which claimed to possess and to propagate the only true Freemasonry. According to Findel, the system consisted of two probationary Degrees of seeking and suffering,25 which were followed by (1) Consecrated Knight and Brother, (2) Wise Master, (3) Royal Priest or Perfect Rosicrucian, called otherwise the Degree of Melchisedek. It should be understood as regards the last that it was neither the Eighteenth Degree of the Rite of Perfection nor any variant thereof but that it drew from the Golden and Rosy Cross of circa 1777 and from Rosicrucian things antecedent thereto in Ritual, so far as served its purpose.26 The proof is that the Initiated Brothers of Asia were almost beyond question a foundation of the Brothers Ecker und Eckhoffen prior to the Knights of Light. Findel seems to be the only writer who has thrown any doubt upon the point, but he has created uncertainty solely by contradicting himself. He says in one place that Baron Hans Heinrich was propagator rather than founder and that he was helped by an Israelite named Hirschmann in recasting the Rituals; but in another place we are told that because he had failed in “obedience, trust and peaceful behaviour” he had been expelled from the Rosy Cross and that in revenge he founded the Asiatic Order. It is possible that this is a correct version of the matter and it seems certain also that the only Rituals to remodel were those of the Rosy Cross.
There is no trace of the Initiated Brothers prior to 1780,27 and by Findel’s own shewing the expulsion of Hans Heinrich could not have taken place till very late in the previous year, for in 1779 he is said to have been editing for the Rosicrucians a “collection of Masonic [sic] speeches,” delivered in the “ancient system,” that is, prior to the Reformation of 1777. But the Fratres Lucis based their symbolic chronology, as we have seen, on 1781. It is clear therefore that they arose concurrently with the Initiated Brothers, or alternatively that they were different branches or names of one thing. In support of the latter possibility we find that the heads of the Initiated Brothers claimed to have been Directors of the Seven Invisible Churches of Asia, or in other words that they are the very persons to whom the Wilkoroki manuscript was addressed. Moreover, the chief stipulation with Candidates was the same in both cases, or “not to inquire by whom the secrets were communicated, whence they came now or might emanate in the future.” Finally, the Initiated Brothers dated by their hypothesis from the year A.D. 40, when the Fratres Lucis originated under the auspices of St. John the Evangelist. There could be no two emblematical peas more like unto each other in one pod of the Mysteries. It ought not to need adding that nothing attaches to the identity or distinction between the two groups. In modern occult circles of the theosophical type a considerable rumour of importance has grown up about the Fratres Lucis, but — against all intention on her part — it has been dispersed by the publication of Mrs. Cooper-Oakley’s analysis of the Warsaw document. The two Orders concern us only as derivatives of the Rosy Cross in the eighteenth century under the Masonic aegis. They are serviceable as illustrating the circumstances under which new branches of the Order or things made in its likeness came suddenly into being, making great claims on present possession of knowledge and on an immemorial past, but with very little behind them and, as it happened in both these cases, with no horizon in front. According to Clavel, the Initiated Brothers were in trouble with the police in 1785 — where, however, being omitted — and in 1787 a writer named Rollig put an end to them by revealing their secrets. My experience of Secret Orders, Masonic and otherwise, shews that they do not suffer death in this manner more often they undergo change.
It is reported also that the Fratres Lucis were broken up in 1795, but the fact is exceedingly doubtful on other considerations than are adduced by Mrs. Cooper-Oakley. She refers to a publication entitled DER SIGNATSTERN, and terms it an official organ of the Order. It began to appear in small volumes about 1804 and continued for several years, but was not a periodical publication in numbers or in any way corresponding to Transactions. It is in reality a collection of archives, and according to these and the general title of the work there were Seven Grades of Mystical Freemasonry, otherwise of the Order of Knights of Light. I can speak with certainty only of the ninth part or division, comprised in a duodecimo volume of three hundred pages and containing (1) a long disquisition on the Mysteries of Egypt and their alleged analogies with those of Freemasonry; (2) the Constitution and Laws or Statutes of the St. John’s Lodge Ferdinand zum Felsen at the Orient of Hamburg, dated in 1790 and signed by Hans Karl Freyherr von Ecker und Eckhoffen; (3) a sheaf of orations emanating from the Grand Lodge Royal York of Friendship. If the archives as a whole are to be judged by these examples, they offer no evidence on the perpetuation of the Fratres Lucis. I have no doubt that the Asiatic Brethren survived the revelations of Rollig, and I should regard it as exceedingly doubtful that the concordant or identical association was actually broken up in 1795. It is probable that both lapsed gradually and that the second had passed out of sight at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
As regards the fraudulent antiquity claimed by both Orders, it is alleged concerning the Asiatic Brethren (1) that it underwent some kind of reform in 1541; (2) that it was working at Prague in 1608; (3) that it was closely connected with the Rosicrucians and had been helped by Christian Rosencreutz from time to time — a reference to its supposed activities, in the early fifteenth century; (4) that according to one of its traditions it was to continue till the Head should return — presumably C :. R :. C :.. The Jew Hirschmann is said to have supplied Kabalistic and Talmudic elements, including instructions on the four worlds of Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah. According to Mrs. Oakley the Fratres Lucis were incorporated originally at Berlin, but were first made public as an Order at Vienna in 1780, or immediately after the death of the Empress Maria Theresa. The evidence does not appear, and we have seen that their own chronology points to the year 1781. It appears from the Warsaw manuscript that few Rosicrucians were admitted, it being alleged that they had fallen away from their original ideal, were tainted with the thirst for gold and the search after power.
It remains to say that Hans Heinrich von Ecker und Eckhoflen — who seems to have worked always in conjunction with Karl his brother — was a gentleman of the bedchamber and counsellor of the Duke of Coburg-Saalfeld. According to his own statements, he became a Freemason in his sixteenth year and a Rosicrucian at no long date after. We have seen that he was expelled from the latter Order, or such is the recurring allegation, whatever its value.
My reference is to official documents, actual or assumed. An important memorial belonging to the period itself, although at the last end, is H. C. Albrecht’s GEHEIME GESCHICHTE EINES ROSENKREUZERS, from their own documents, published at Hamburg in 1792. It is concerned entirely with the post 1777 period and in particular with (1) the revelations of a certain Cedrinus; (2) the history of Freemasonry; (3) the Order of the Temple; (4) the Convention of Wilhelmsbad; (5) a Rosicrucian romance called DON SYLVIO; (6) an ADDRESS to the Rosicrucians of the Old System, belonging to the year 1781 and connected with an attempt by Fraxinus to establish or revive the Rosy Cross in Vienna, the nature of which experiment was exposed by Cedrinus; (7) the activities of Theoretical Brethren ; and (8) the PHYSICA MYSTICA and PHYSICA SACRA SANCTISSIMA of Johann Gottfried Jugel.
Bischoffswerder was a native of Saxony, and was born on Nov. 23, 1741. He had been in the service of the Duke of Courland prior to that of the King, and before he became a Rosicrucian he belonged to the Strict Observance and many of the Secret Rites. He died in 1803. Wöllner was born at Dobritz in 1732 and belonged to the Lutheran ministry. He entered the service of the Prussian King in 1786 as Privy Councillor of Finance. He died on September 11, 1800.
Mr. Gilbert Stanhope’s MYSTIC ON THE PRUSSIAN THRONE, 1912, gives an excellent general account, with a long list of authorities but it should be understood that the writer neither has nor claims acquaintance with Rosicrucian history, outside the place and period with which he is concerned. As regards these the following summary particulars will clear up the chief issues, and those who are concerned further may be referred to Mr. Stanhope’s work. (1) Bischoffswerder had served during the Seven Years’ War and again in the Bavarian campaign, at the end of which he was attached to the suite of Frederick William, then Prince of Prussia. (2) He had attained already a high position in the Rosicrucian Fraternity and was a firm believer in the healing power of an elixir known to the Order. (3) It was used in an illness which befell the Prince, and his recovery was attributed to its virtues. (4) Bischoffswerder thereupon induced him to join the Order, concerning which it is said that the real leaders worked in secrecy, exacting implicit obedience: in a word, they were Unknown Superiors. (5) Delighted as they were—this is of course speculation—at the advent of a royal recruit, they imposed on him a year’s probation—as it is said, “to impress him more deeply with the sanctity and seriousness of their authority.” (6) On their own part, as stated at an Order-Convocation and mentioned in the text above, they looked upon his advent from the standpoint of its possible spiritual profit, in view of his exalted position. (7) Bischoffswerder is regarded as sincere, at least at that time; but Wollner, the son of a pastor, had belonged to the rationalistic party which flourished under Frederick the Great, and is thought to have entered the Order for the furtherance of his own schemes. (8) When Frederick William ascended the throne in 1786 he desired a return to the “orthodox religion,” and Wöllner cooperated. (9) The number of Rosicrucians and mystics multiplied about the new King, and their influence was resented by many of the German princes, including Duke Frederick of Brunswick and Prince Eugene of Würtemberg. (10) Such was the entourage of Frederick William II, so far as occult circles were concerned ; but if the Rosy Cross in Prussia does not shine in any favourable light, there is nothing to shew that its representatives at the German Court were doing anything but play for their own hands. Mr. Stanhope says that the reactionary tendency of Austria made it sympathetic to Bischoffswerder, who regarded it as “a bulwark of monarchical and ecclesiastical authority against the approaching tide of liberalism in religion and politics.” But this at least exhibits a Rosicrucian on the less intolerable of two sides when neither made for goodness. Moreover, the case against Wöllner may call for amendment. It is possible for a rationalist to be sincere when he turns to things represented by the religious side of the Rosy Cross. When he said in a Circle of the Order “0 my Brethren, the time is not far off when we may hope that the long-expected Wise Ones will teach us and bring us into communion with High and invisible Beings “—it is scarcely fair to suggest that this was a mere pose. In any case the statement is valuable for my own purpose, as it shews that he was addressing a Lodge of Expectation, a Lodge of Quest, not one of attainment.
That of Bischoffswerder was Farferus Phocus Vibron de Hudlohn, while Wöllner was known as Chrysophiron in outer circles and Helioconus at the ruling centre. The King’s sacramental title, having regard to its claim on fabulous inventions of the past was most certainly provided or conferred and not chosen by himself. It indicates the hope of the Order in his respect.
Though Findel knew little of the Rosicrucian subject, and in view of his Masonic hypotheses found little reason for knowing, he has drawn facts belonging to the period under review from various quarters and aids in the extension of our knowledge. (1) We hear of Dr. Schluss of Löwenfeld, Sulzbach, Bavaria, called Phocon in the Order, and Dr. Doppelmayer of
Hof as “ stars of the first magnitude “ in what is denominated “the new
Order“—otherwise in “the latter half of the eighteenth century.” (2) As regards Shrepfer, who was a native of Nürnberg, it is said that he was the first who became a public apostle of the “Golden Rosicrucian Order,” but this was before the Reformation—an event with which Findel seems unacquainted—and before it is possible to speak, even incorrectly, of a new Order. (3) Schrepfer shot himself on October 8, 1774, at the age of thirty-five. 4.) He is said to have confessed previously that he was an emissary of the Jesuits, Findel having a mania in this direction, and almost anything served as evidence. (5) There is a story of Schröder—but I know not which as intended of the two Masonic celebrities who bore the name—and according to this he became acquainted with the Rosicrucians and “ their first three Degrees “ through an unknown alchemist. (6) He is said to have propagated the Order zealously till he lost the address of the person with whom he was directed to communicate. (7) This is on the authority of Lenning, and if the story is not a myth, the Schroder in question can hardly be he whom we shall meet with in the next chapter. (8) The activities of the Brotherhood caused the Order to take toot in Lower Germany—especially Hamburg; it appeared in Silesia circa 1773, at Berlin in 1777, and soon after at Potsdam, which became its headquarters. (9) The members claimed direct derivation from the old establishment, and the inheritance of all its secrets, including the only solution of Masonic symbols. (10) About 1782 it is stated that Wöllner placed himself at the head of the new Order,” using three different names in the three different Degrees this is exceedingly doubtful and Findel has admitted previously that the Degrees were nine. (11) According to certain MSS. in the possession of a Dr. Puhlmann, Wöllner corresponded with members at a distance and promoted greatly the extension of the Order. (12) But the BERLINER MONATSCHRIFT exposed the propaganda and declared the whole thing an invention of the jesuits. (13) In addition to attacks like this, the Order is affirmed to have carried within it the seeds of its own destruction—of what kind does not appear. (14) But when it became evident that the subjection of German Masonic Lodges to its yoke was beyond all expectation, a command went forth in 1787 from Southern Germany, enjoining the suspension of activities. (15) The event coincided with the time when “the credulous were anticipating the last and most important disclosures of that new and general plan which had been promised them.” (16) In the North the Rosicrucians survived till the Prussian crown “changed hands,” dying out in 1797-98. (17) I can see no reason for reliance upon these statements, which indicate a Rosicrucian headship in the South apart from that of the North, after placing Wöllner in charge of the whole Order. (18) As a fact, there seems no evidence for regarding Potsdam as the Rosicrucian headquarters or Wöllner as more than the chief of a single province.
Each Degree was called a Chapter and membership was graded on reducing multiples of the number 27. That of the First Degree was 27 x 5 = 135 ; of the Second 27 x 4 = 108 of the Third 27 x 3 = 81 ; of the Fourth 27 x 2 = 54 of the Fifth 27 x 1 = 27. It will be seen that according to so-called theosophical addition the number 9 ruled throughout, e.g., 27 = 2 + 7 = 9, and so forward. According to Eliphas Levi, the number 9 is that of initiation, while in Martinism it is of evil import; but there is neither harmony nor analogy between the numerous competitive systems of occult numerology, except in the sense that they appear to be at once arbitrary and worthless.
I speak under certain reserves: there is no end to the follies and confusions of minor Masonic Rituals, as there is no end to the commonplaces and ineptitudes of those which rank as major. The Invocation above is, in any case, a mere chaos of Scripture-quotations.
Cf. Ps. viii, 1: How excellent is Thy Name in all the earth.”
Ibid., 2 : Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."
Cf. ibid., 3
APOCALYPSE i, 7.
Ibid, 8, but read ‘‘which was dead and is alive.’’
APOCALYPSE, 17, but read: “will give him a white stone, and in the Stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
Cf. Ps. xvii, 6.
In the imposition of such a Pledge the Order of Fratres Lucis is condemned out of its own mouth, for it is certain that nothing true and of good report would require a Candidate to invoke an eternal judgment on himself. The Masonic Rites and Degrees are content with penal clauses which threaten the destruction or maiming of the body.
We have seen that the Order of the Golden Fleece originated in 1429 in connection with an event belonging to that date and to nothing else ; the Knights of St. John were founded in 1124; and the Teutonic Knights in 1191. It follows that none of these institutions “arose“ out of the suppression of the Templars in 1307.
It is said alternatively that the path, according to its affirmed significance, can be found only in secrecy, after great trials, and by firm and fearless constancy.
For the stone with seven eyes see ZECHARIAH iii, 9, but the prophecy has no reference to wheels. In the Vision of Ezekiel the wheels are four in number.
There is no reference to Hiram in Ezekiel, whether the king or the builder and artificer. It is impossible therefore to speculate on the meaning of this statement. Hiram the worker in brass is mentioned only in 1 KINGS, vii, and 2 CHRONICLES iv.
I conclude that this is an attempt to allegorise in a Hermetic sense for the purpose of saving the Masonic situation when it communicates familiar Divine Names and, other formulae as great secrets protected by solemn pledges and Words or Names of power.
I conclude from this interpretation that German Craft Masonry must have incorporated stone-symbolism into the Third Degree ; but it may be mentioned for the benefit of non-Masons that it is not to be found in any English working, wheresoever practised.
The use of the plural notwithstanding it is not unlikely that reference is intended to 1 SAMUEL, xviii, 45—47: “Then said David to the Philistine, i.e. to Goliath. Compare ibid., xxix, 8 “and David said unto Achish,” i.e. the King of Gath, who was a Philistine; but this is without application.
Cf. the “testimony“ of the previous prayer.
Cf. Ps. iv, 6: “Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us."
There were three, according to Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, namely, (1) Seekers, (2) Endurers, (3) Probationers, all classed under the general denomination of Sufferers. She does not cite her authority. See THEOSOPHICAL REVIEW, Vol. XXIV, 1899.
A Grade of Melchisedek connotes Eucharistic procedure and symbolism, but, according to Findel, Hans Heinrich established a Melchisedek Lodge at Hamburg into which non-Christians were admitted, as they were also in Berlin. He promised to unfold the meaning of all Masonic “hieroglyphics.”
This is the date of organisation given by Mackey, an American historian of Masonry. He terms the Asiatic Brothers a Rosicrucian schism.