The Real History of the Rosicrucians, by Arthur Edward Waite, , at sacred-texts.com
PROFESSOR BUHLE affirms as the "main thesis" of his concluding chapter that "Freemasonry is neither more nor less than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplanted it into England." His elegant and interesting hypothesis rests on a microscopical foundation of actual fact. A passage in Fludd's rejoinder to the "Exercitatio Epistolæ" of Gassendi states that the Fratres R. C. are thenceforth to be called sapientes or sophos. The German critic's discriminating commentary on this statement is that the old name was abolished, but as yet a new one had not been conferred, and that the immediate hint for the name Masons was derived from the Rosicrucian legend concerning the "House of the Holy Ghost," an allegorical building which typified the secret purpose of the Society. Having fathered Freemasonry on the renowned Kentish Rosicrucian, Professor Buhle enters on a Quixotic quest through the folios of his victim in search of corroborating passages, and discovers in the "Summum Bonum," which Fludd disowned, as we have seen, that Jesus was the lapis angularis of the human temple in which men are stones, and that the author calls upon his students to be transformed from dead into living philosophical stones. 1 "Transmutemini, transmutemini,
de lapidibus mortuis in lapides vivos philosophicos." On this foundation rests his whole hypothesis concerning the transfiguration of the Rosicrucian Fraternity and its reappearance as the Masonic Brotherhood. It is needless to say that it is slender and unsatisfactory in the extreme.
I do not propose to discuss the origin of Freemasonry. That vexatious question has been perpetually debated with singularly unprofitable results. All I am concerned with proving is that there is no traceable connection between Masonry and Rosicrucianism. The former is defined by its initiates to be "a science of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols," and again as "a system of doctrines taught, in a manner peculiar to itself, by allegories and symbols. . . . Its ceremonies are external additions, which affect not its substance." The two doctrines of the unity of God and the immortality of the soul constitute "the philosophy of Freemasonry." It has never been at any period of its history an association for scientific researches and the experimental investigation of Nature, which was a primary object with the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. It has not only never laid claim to the possession of any transcendental secrets of alchemy and magic, or to any skill in medicine, but has never manifested any interest in these or kindred subjects. Originally an association for the diffusion of natural morality, it is now simply a benefit society. The improvement of mankind and the encouragement of philanthropy were and are its ostensible objects, and these also were the dream of the Rosicrucian, but, on the other hand, it has never aimed at a reformation in the arts and sciences, for it was never at any period a learned society, and a large proportion of its members have been chosen from illiterate
classes. It is free alike from the enthusiasm and the errors of the elder Order, for though at one time it appears to have excluded Catholics from its ranks, as at this day the Catholic Church excommunicates and denounces its members, it has been singularly devoid of prejudices and singularly unaffected by the crazes of the time. It has not committed itself to second Advent theories; it does not call the Pope Antichrist; it does not expect a universal cataclysm. It preaches a natural morality, and has so little interest in mysticism that it daily misinterprets and practically despises its own mystical symbols.
Those who believe in the hypothesis of Professor Buhle cannot shew that Fludd was either a Rosicrucian or a Freemason. There is some reason to believe that the former Brotherhood did split up subsequently into different sections, but there is no tittle of evidence to prove that they developed into Freemasons. Mackey says that they protracted their existence till the middle of the eighteenth century, and then ceased to meet on account of the death of one of their chiefs named Burn, but he does not state his authority. He also tells us that out of the Rosicrucian Fraternity there was established in 1777 that association called "The Brothers of the Golden Cross," whose alchemical processes are described by Sigmund Richter. "This Society was very numerous in Germany, and even extended into other countries, especially into Sweden. A second schism from the Rosicrucians was the society of 'The Initiated Brothers of Asia,' which was organised in 1780, and whose pursuits, like those of the parent institution, were connected with alchemy and the natural sciences. In 1785, it attracted the attention of the police, and, two years later, received a fatal blow, in the revelation of all its
secrets by one, Rolling, a treacherous member of the association."
These statements must be taken at their value, but even doubtful facts are of equal weight with hypotheses founded on assumptions of the most gratuitous kind, and supported by tortured quotations. It is, however, on the universal concensus of competent Masonic opinion that I should found the rejection of the Buhlean view. Mackey, in the "Synoptical Index" to his "Symbolism of Freemasonry," says that the Rosicrucian Society resembled the Masonic in its organization and in some of the subjects of its investigation, "but it was in no other way connected with Free Masonry." In the "Lexicon" he again tells us that "the Rosicrucians had no connection whatever with the Masonic fraternity," and that it is only malignant revilers, like Baruel in his "Memoirs of Jacobinism," who attempt to identify the two institutions. Other authorities are not less pronounced in their opinions.
It is to the institution of the Rose-Cross degree in Freemasonry that the confusion of opinion on this point is to be mainly traced. When ill-informed persons happen to hear that there are "Sovereign Princes of Rose-Croix," "Princes of Rose-Croix de Heroden," &c., among the Masonic Brethren, they naturally identify these splendid inanities of occult nomenclature with the mysterious and awe-inspiring Rosicrucians. The origin of the Rose-Cross degree is involved in the most profound mystery. Its foundation has been attributed to Johann Valentin Andreas, but this is an ignorant confusion, arising from the alleged connection of the theologian of Wirtemberg with the society of Christian Rosencreutz. There is no trace of its existence before the middle of the eighteenth century, though the
[paragraph continues] "Dictionnaire Maçonnique" 1 declares that it was created in Palestine by Godfrey de Bouillon in the year 1100, and that the Rose was emblematic of secrecy and the Cross of immortality. It professes to deal with the spiritual side of alchemy, and to seek that same mysterious Stone which was the object of Basil Valentin, Paracelsus, Khunrath, and the true turba philosophorum of psycho-chemical transmutations. But the shallow pretence has deceived no one, for the sublime tradition of the veritable magnum opus exclusively points to transcendent spiritual secrets, and not to the eternal commonplace of moral and masonic platitudinarians--that is to say, the illiterate initiations of Masonry, ignorantly adopting a garbled alchemical terminology, have fallen into the gross and porcine error of interpreting alchemical symbolism morally instead of pneumatically. Sovereign chapters and sovereign princes of Rose-Croix, Knight Princes of the Eagle and the Pelican, and Prince Perfect Masters, should continue to dine sumptuously; no one will dispute their proficiency as initiates of the gastronomical mystery, but, in the name of the Grand Architect, let them leave the morally unsearchable mystery of the philosophick gold to the true Sons of the Doctrine.
The Rose-Cross degree is represented by Carlile as the ne plus ultra of Masonry. It has three points, of which the two first are called Sovereign Chapters, and the third the Mystic Supper, which is held four times a year. The presiding officer is dignified with the sublime title of "Ever Most Perfect Sovereign;" the two Wardens are "Most Excellent and Perfect Brothers." There is also a Master of
the Ceremonies, and the brethren are "Most Respectful Knights." The annual festival of the order is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday. The jewel is "a golden compass, extended on an arc to the sixteenth part of a circle, or twenty-two and a-half degrees," according to Mackey. Carlile describes it as a triangle formed by a compass and a quarter of a circle. "Between the legs of the compass is a cross resting on the arc of the circle; its centre is occupied by a full-blown rose, whose stem twines around the lower limb of the cross; at the foot of this cross, on the same side on which the rose is exhibited, is the figure of a pelican wounding its breast to feed its young, which are in a nest surrounding it; while on the other side of the jewel is the figure of an eagle, with wings displayed. On the arc of the circle the P.·. W.·. of the degree is engraved in the cipher of the Order." 1 A triple crown surmounts the head of the Order. This symbolism is undoubtedly borrowed from the Rosicrucians, which is the whole extent of the connection supposed to subsist between the two Orders. The Rose-Cross degree in Freemasonry is admitted to be "a modern invention." The ritual of the receptions in the three points of this degree will be found in Carlile's "Ritual of Freemasonry," and in the first volume of Heckethorn's "Secret Societies of all Ages and Countries."
402:1 This passage happens to occur in the Epistle from the Rosicrucian Society to a German neophyte, which was printed in the "Summum Bonum," but for which neither Fludd nor the unknown Joachim Fritz are responsible.
406:1 "Dictionnaire Maçonnique, ou Recueil d’Esquisses de toutes les parties de l’edifice connu sous le nom de Maçonnerie." A Paris: 5825, 8vo.
407:1 Mackey's "Lexicon of Freemasonry," p. 289.