The Rose-Cross as a union of East and West
The connection between Arab and Rosicrucian esoteric wisdom is declared in the Rosicrucian Manifestos themselves, when we learn that Christian Rosenkreutz, also known as Christian Rose-Cross, went to Damcar, in Yemen, to learn the secrets of the wise. He remained at Damcar more than expected just to get to know the wisdom that dwelt there. Sufism.
The Romans called this region Arabia Felix for its luxuriant vegetation that clearly distinguished it from the dominating desert in northern Arabia. Thus the etheric forces abound. According to occult geography, this is the area where the currents of oriental wisdom coming from India gradually converge, up to the Rising Sun, Japan; and of Western wisdom coming from the shores of Europe closest to the disappearance of Atlantis. So to speak, they form an embrace, a “rose”, a meeting place between Eastern and Western wisdom, in a synthesis that was brought to maturity precisely by the impulse of the Christian Rosenkreutz and the subsequent Rosicrucian initiates.
However Christian Rosenkreutz, having learned Sufi wisdom, recognized its limitation: he lacked the impulse of the Christ. In fact, even before he went to Damcar he stopped in Damascus where he experienced “lightning on the street”, exactly like St. Paul. This allowed Christian Rosenkreutz to directly perceive the Christ in the Etheric World.
Thanks to this initiatory experience he was able to rectify the Sufi wisdom: that is, not to confuse Jesus with Christ and not to consider him “only” a prophet, but the Messiah, the incarnated Solar Spirit. This misunderstanding is in fact derived from the lunar inspiration at the base of Islam by the Archangel Gabriel, and not by the solar one of the Archangel Michael, champion of Christ.
Christian Rosenkreutz understood this capital difference and distanced himself from it: he infused in this oriental wisdom the impulse of Christ, culminating in the Mystery of Golgotha, finally arriving to codify this initiatory secret, central to esoteric Christianity, through the alchemical operations, the V.I.T.R.I.O.L.V.M.
The rules of the Rosicrucians
In the first Manifesto, the Fama Fraternitatis (1614) indicates the rules of the Rosicrucian Order:
They agreed by common agreement on these points:
- They would not have practiced any other profession than to heal the sick, and this for free.
- They would not have worn any particular dress, imposed by the Brotherhood, but the costume of the town.
- Every year, on day C., they would meet in the House of the Holy Spirit, or they would communicate the cause of their absence.
- Every brother would have chosen a worthy person who, after his death, could succeed him.
- The word Rosicrucian would have been their only seal and distinctive mark.
- The Brotherhood would have remained secret for a hundred years.
These are the signs of the true Rosicrucians:
- The true Rosicrucians are therefore therapists, both in the most common sense, being doctors and healers, and, in a higher sense, since with their action they heal the laceration between Nature and man, man and God. treats of Universal Medicine, VITRIOLVM The true Rosicrucians do not despise the matter, on the contrary they know that in the deepest recesses of the abyss one reaches the most vertiginous heights, so much so that their mission was the redemption of Matter.
- They adopt the customs of the country where they live as they must not be recognized by external signs but by occult signs, and also the signs communicated in the initiation ceremonies. They therefore had a clear awareness of what was sacred and that they practiced in the sacred precincts of the Temple and what they could practice in the world in order to redeem it.
- The true Rosicrucians are fully inserted into Christianity which, outwardly, will be the religion of the country where they implement their therapeutic action, while inwardly it will be Esoteric Christianity or the synthesis of all existing religions, as well as the living source from which they draw spiritual principles . Day C. is the day of Corpus Christi or on the Thursday after the Sunday of the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity which in turn is the Sunday after Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Spirit. Rosicrucianism is a free form of Science of the Spirit, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Temple of the Rosicrucians is the House of the Holy Spirit.
- Each Brother must begin his successor, in this way a tradition is perpetuated, which can continue to act over time and in various nations. The Rosicrucians were also called “Theosophists”, according to the doctrine of Jacob Boehme, as well as “Philosophers”: the Theosophist sought the Divine Wisdom, the Philosopher had become a lover of Sofia, the goddess of Wisdom, the reborn Venus.
- The word “Rosicrucian” is in itself a sign, a symbol of profound meditation that, when penetrated, allows access to the realities of the supersensible worlds.
- The rhythm of the actions of the true Rosicrucians is that of the 100–120 years, in which an occult action carried out today in the sign of the Rosicrucian has its exterior echo in history only 120 years later, just as for 120 years the Vault remained hidden contained the intact Christian Rosenkreutz body. Christian Rosenkreutz’s Volta contains all the symbolic sanctuary of the Rosicrucian tradition, including alchemy, astrology and kabbalah.
Rosicrucian and Jesuits
The Rosicrucian method of initiation is diametrically opposed to that of the Jesuits, the two methods are already contrasted in the Manifestos. Indeed, the Jesuit Order, the Society of Jesus, was created to counter the influence of the Rosicrucians in Europe from the fifteenth century. It was founded by Ignazio di Loyola (1491–1556), who succeeded in transforming what he had learned as a soldier into an initiatory path, placing the so-called “Black Pope” as a hidden leader. The Via Rosicruciana is a way that allows thinking to become fully conscious so as to be able to purify the sphere of feeling and finally transfuse itself into the so sanctified will, which is only then completely free, conquering Free Will.
The Jesuits instead bend individuality by means of exercises that annihilate the will. There are two emblematic examples, the motto “Give me a child up to the age of seven and I will give you the man” indicates that the Jesuits were aware of the occult fact of being able to act directly on the child’s state of consciousness, shaping his conscience and thus making dependent the adult for life, in particular from the Pope’s dogmas. It was with these methods that they succeeded in crushing the high personality of Kaspar Hauser, thus preventing the fulfillment of destiny. Their loyalty to the Pope was absolute, so much so that they advocated something we can express as “if the Pope says white is black, then it is true and if he should change his mind, then it will be true again”. A particularly powerful occult exercise consisted in awakening the candidate in the middle of the night, always with a start, at different times, and giving him orders in a somnambulistic state, so that this hypnotic state could be aroused whenever an order had to be followed. It is in this way that the Jesuits replaced Christ, understood as the Cosmic Spirit, in a temporal counterfeit called “King Jesus”, understood as “King of the World”, from which they took the nickname “Jesuits”.
The present-day Rosicrucian Way envisages study as the first step, in the form of the knowledge of Natural Science that forms the logical foundation for continuing scientific thinking in the Spirit, the Science of the Spirit. The “Master” is therefore not an absolute authority but someone who educates, or helps the development of the disciple, unfolding his faculties in order to make him completely independent and free. The communications of the Western Masters Jesus-Zarathustra, for the Esoteric Christianity, and Christian Rosenkreutz, for the Rosicrucian, are therefore able to form a map to orient themselves in the supersensible worlds. This is the prerequisite for initiation and attainment of the stages of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.
Goethe is one of the most famous personalities who worked in the Rosicrucian impulse, being himself an Initiate. Steiner edited the collection of Goethe’s scientific writings and published as a doctoral thesis a dissertation on their epistemological value, in particular linked to phenomenology as opposed to what was then positivism. Where positivism states that man, as an observer, must avoid experimentation in order to experience a phenomenon in his reality, phenomenology states that man, as an observer, is part of the reality of both the experiment and the phenomenon. In essence, Goethe ennobles the human element that therefore returns powerfully to be part of a whole that constitutes the reality of the world. Thus the “Goethean Science” is a phenomenological approach which includes the natural phenomenon together with the human phenomenon, so that what is stirred up within the human soul is part of the phenomenon itself. In this way, Steiner’s work is linked to Goethe’s work by demonstrating that as the hair does not exist without the scalp, the plant does not exist without roots firmly planted in the ground and therefore Nature, with all its phenomena, does not exist without the man.
This approach springs from the source of the Mysteries of the Rosicrucian, being the only one capable of reconciling the Human Sciences with the Natural Sciences. Goethian Science allows us to pass from representation, the reflected thought of the materialistic sciences, to that which is living thinking, the first step towards supersensible realities, and therefore the precondition for a true Science of the Spirit, with its stages of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. This is how the Via Rosicruciana allows us to penetrate into the sanctuary of the “Consciousness of Man” or Anthroposophy. This Rosicrucian-Anthroposophical way is open to all Men of Good Will, or to all those who want to develop their inner faculties from the latent state to the active one.
The Rosicrucian Way of Initiation
However in our life today, the contemplative initiation given by esoteric Christianity is becoming less and less viable, due to the growing challenges that the attack of materialism has launched from within Western civilization. In Western initiation, man must actively fight in the spiritual war against Arimane, materialism, and put Lucifer, spiritualism, at the service of Christ. Western man cannot afford to withdraw from the community that requires his irreplaceable presence. Thus Christian Rosenkreutz, already in the Middle Ages, fulfilled the task necessary for the evolution of humanity to formulate a second initiation that leads to the same results but following the “active path”. The Brotherhood of the Rosicrucians founded by him gave a gift to humanity of this new way of initiation, external, which had already been prepared in the Christian school of Dionysius the Aeropagite.
The way of the rose outlined by Christian Rosenkreutz is divided into five “petals”, which allow one to work actively in life:
- Think only of the spirit that reveals itself in the creations of Nature. Look at human creations as a continuation of Nature’s work;
- Put all your work at the service of human impulses, but let those impulses ponder the works of the spirit;
- Serve human beings kindly, so that the creative spirit reveals itself in the relationship between one human being and another;
- Do not allow any value offered by the world to depart from the value that the spirit confers on all human work;
- Don’t commit like the bad alchemists, the puffers, the mistake of confusing the physical with the spiritual.
The Rosicrucian path is then divided into seven initiatory degrees:
- Imaginative Knowledge;
- Intuitive Knowledge or Reading of Occult Writing;
- Preparation of the Philosopher’s Stone;
- Correspondence of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm;
- Life Within the Macrocosm;
- Divine Bliss.
These seven stages can be addressed in an individual order, with the exception of the first (the study) and the last (divine bliss). It is an initiatory path which, while maintaining a strong ego conscience, addresses the future states of evolution unlike the Christian one, which is turned to the past. The Rosicrucian initiate therefore anticipates all the evolutionary stages that will be passed by humanity only in a remote future. Steiner describes it as a way of equilibrium between the Christian one and Indian yoga and for this reason also called “Western yoga”:
- Study: the Rosicrucian study consists of pure thoughts, taken from the spiritual worlds. These have nothing to do with the representations aroused by the senses in the material world. Through the study of the facts of the spiritual world the Rosicrucian Way develops in the disciple powerful feelings that correspond to those same facts. From pure thinking one arrives at pure feelings. This is why in the Rosicrucian school there is no dependence towards a personal teacher, but teachers are the spiritual facts themselves. Finally, study leads to thinking in a living way, so that every thought sprouts and flourishes in the next one in a non-arbitrary order. The author thus takes second place to the content he wants to communicate and that he can express for himself.
- Imaginative Knowledge: one must experience material reality as an expression of spiritual reality, so that when one looks at a physical object, one sees this as a symbol of a spiritual being. Every mineral, vegetable or animal will therefore be the expression of spiritual beings who communicate their essence with their manifestation. How man possesses body, soul and spirit; thus the Earth possesses them and expresses itself exactly like man. The result is a healing spiritual pedagogy: imaginative knowledge acts on the etheric body and this balances blood circulation.
- Inspirational Knowledge: it is the ability to read concatenated sets of symbols that constitute “occult writing”. The connections that link these symbols are experienced by the disciple as the making of phrases, songs, which reflect the cosmic order. The word spiritual speaks to the soul of the disciple who finally learns to organize by himself sets of symbols, words and colors that echo the Music of the Spheres since they derive from it.
- Preparation of the Philosopher’s Stone: these are breathing exercises that draw inspiration from the archetype of the rhythm impressed in the same cosmos. The body of man has been given as a gift to the Human Kingdom by the Animal Kingdom and since its body is of animal nature, it needs the Plant Kingdom to be able to breathe. Plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis, humans breathe oxygen and return carbon dioxide which is absorbed by vegetables to produce their own body. The philosopher’s stone, at this level of the esoteric path, corresponds to producing within man a sort of photosynthesis, such as to produce oxygen. This function will then become an organ that, in the future evolution of humanity, will allow us to evolve from the present existence of the body from mineral to vegetable.
- Correspondence of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm: one must perceive one’s complex existence as a reflection of what was previously outside of it. Every internal organ of the human body derives from beings first scattered in the primordial world. Thus the etheric and astral body which are shells formed by the ether and the cosmic astral during the ego descent. The human soul was at first one with the divine soul, from which it then detached itself and concluded around the individual spirit, the I. All that was external is internalized. Everything that is outside is also inside and so the macrocosm lives within the microcosm.
- Life Within the Macrocosm: the Rosicrucian disciple will have to read the world outside himself like a book, it is the Book of Nature. In every part of creation, in every creature must see the working of God through meditation. He will therefore discover that the key to understanding the microcosm is contained in the macrocosm, and vice versa. In reading this book, however, he must never dissolve his own conscience but keep it firm so that he can recognize the divine in the things of the world.
- Divine Bliss: when one experiences the microcosm as a reflection of the macrocosm, when every material manifestation becomes the expression of spiritual beings then the pure thoughts are combined with pure feelings, provoking the final state of divine bliss.
The initiatory path of the Rosicrucians favors “active life” and therefore is the path of scientists who encounter Christ in the macrocosmic nature, in the very foundation of matter. Natural science itself is the foundation of the Rosicrucian esoteric way: when we know the reality of Nature without stopping at the literal meaning, we arrive at its inner spiritual meaning. From the spirit in science we arrive at the science of the spirit.
The purpose of the Rosicrucian is the union of the solar forces with the lunar ones, or of thinking and feeling, aimed at joining alchemically in the Mysterium Coniunctionis. From a certain point of view, it is a link to the love aroused in esoteric Christianity and to the wisdom brought by the science of the spirit. That is why the Rosicrucian is of such crucial importance! These alchemical marriages of thinking and feeling will give life to a new capacity, imagination. It is not at all the vague quality that contemporary materialism assimilates to fantasy, quite the contrary: imagination allows one to perceive interiorly spiritual beings as images, endowed with a moral meaning. Through the imagination thus understood, they will thus work on the third chakra, the ajna chakra chaired by Jupiter. It is also called the third eye, referring to the awakening of the pineal gland activity.
The symbols have always been a privileged instrument of the Rosicrucian path:
There are hundreds of thousands of such signs (symbols) that the student gradually learns. These signs are not arbitrary, but allow those who understand them to immerse themselves in things and directly experience their essential nature. The study trains the faculty of reason; the imagination trains the life of feelings; and the knowledge of esoteric writing grasps the will. It is the path in the realm of creativity. Only study brings knowledge; imagination brings spiritual vision; the knowledge of esoteric writing brings magic. It brings direct insight into the laws of nature that lie dormant in things – their true essence.
You can find many who use esoteric signs, even people like Eliphas Levi. They can give an idea of how these signs appear, but it cannot be learned much if you are not already familiar with them. What is found in the books on the subject is usually wrong. These signs were considered sacred, at least by the initiates. If we go back far enough, we find that strict rules were imposed regarding their secrecy, incurring severe punishment when they break, to ensure that they were not used for unworthy purposes.
– Rudolf Steiner, supersensible knowledge, eleventh conference, Berlin March 14, 1907, O.O.55 quoted in the collection The Secret Stream.
The doctrine of the Tria Prima, the three philosophical principles of Sale, Mercury and Sulfur was the basis of the Rosicrucian meditative practice, then used in the form of alchemical medicine by Paracelsus. The Rosicrucians, through their meditative practice, perceived the spiritual reality behind the matter, thus going back to the principles of formation of the world of phenomena:
- Philosophical Salt, the Sal, whereby the crystallization of solid salt into a liquid saturated with dissolved substance was like the prayer that allowed crystallizing the conscious realizations of the spiritual worlds, so that these pure spiritual thoughts could be isolated and remain for subsequent generations . Just as salt preserves matter, so pure thoughts preserve the spirit. These thoughts were outside the duality of manifestation, having reached the eternity of the spiritual worlds and could therefore have been passed from master to disciple. Spiritual beings, thinking, crystallize the substance in the physical world.
- Philosophical Mercury, the Mercur, unlike crystallization, in the dissolution of a crystallization was like love that dissolves every obstacle, dissolving every form in a single substance, even going so far as to approach the opposites so that they can compensate, like the Snakes of Caduceus of Mercury that allow the opening of the wings of the apple placed at its peak. Spiritual beings, by loving, dissolve the substance in the physical world.
- Philosophical Sulfur, the Sulfur, so the substance that is calcined, or subjected to combustion with Fire, is reduced in three parts: the ash that crystallizes (Salt), the smoke that rises (Mercury), the aroma and the heat that is released (Sulfur). The burning in the flames was a sacrifice that the spiritual beings made for the Higher Angelic Hierarchies. Spiritual beings, by sacrificing themselves, spiritualise matter in the physical world.
The experiments took place through the Athanor, “the Deathless”, an oven that outwardly represented the outer space of their soul. The experiments conducted in this way were very profound spiritual experiences that allowed the Rosicrucian to become a participant in the reality of the spiritual worlds, of the Hierarchies and to perceive the spiritual individuality embodied in man, the I who had a particular bond with the Antimony. Each of their experiments led to an external result which, however, had no value for the Rosicrucians: the metallic gold thus produced was in fact donated in a completely anonymous form. In this the true Rosicrucian alchemists were distinguished from the so-called “Blowers” who, profaning their athanor, tried to accelerate the process of transmutation of physical metals into metallic gold. These were those who originated the “chemistry” as a profane form of alchemy.
As we can understand, the Rosicrucian Way addressed itself especially to alchemy, as a science of soul transmutation.
In reality, nothing has ever been written about this inner work, and what was written about it, was always from people who, ignoring the true condition of things, considered external phenomena as ends in themselves. Only a false alchemist considered the value in the material obtained and in its use. A true alchemist did not consider at all the material he obtained through the process, but only the process itself and the experiences that derived from it. The contemplation of the process and the inner intellectual and moral experiences were important to him. For this reason it was a strict law for them to never sell for money, but only to give away the materials obtained. Today’s man does not even have a fair idea of what can be felt in the face of such natural phenomena. The medieval theosophist experimented an entire drama of the soul, thus obtaining a metal in his laboratory. From the process that was needed, for example, to obtain antimony came from the experimenting alchemist, of enormous moral experiences And these things had to precede the actual scientific investigation. It was a sacred natural science, one that was so pursued by experts.
– Rudolf Steiner, Mystery and Personality by Christian Rosenkreutz, p. 21
It was in this way that the Rosicrucians came to the Imagination. Through this higher state of consciousness, all the experiments conducted in the Rosicrucian Order were then transcribed into a symbolic form in the symbolic summa called The Occult Figures of the Rosicrucians, later published only a century later by Henricus Mathadamus.
It was from alchemy not understood in this way that chemistry was born, as a study of the transformation of substances, studied for itself.
By undertaking these processes with different materials in the laboratory, the experimenter consciously abandoned himself to the thought that in salification, in solution and in combustion, he had, before him, divine thoughts, divine love and divine sacrifice. Then he discovered this: that when he saw the salification in his state of mind, then pure thoughts rose in his soul that also purified him. In abandoning himself to the contemplation of the solution process he felt incited to loving kindness, while in the process of combustion he felt the desire for sacrifice in the Whole sprouting within him. And the task of these natural processes was precisely to awaken these feelings in him. Now, the clairvoyant who had observed, during these experiments, the medieval theosophist, would have seen the following: he would have seen his aura, which before the trial was a normal aura transformed first into a copper-colored aura, then color of silver and then in a very bright golden aura. For this reason the alchemists said that from the rough aura they had drawn subjective silver and gold.
– Rudolf Steiner, Mystery and Personality by Christian Rosenkreutz, p. 22