THE TOMB OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUZ
Rosicrucianism is a generic term referring to studies or membership within a philosophical secret society said to have been founded in late medieval Germany by Christian Rosenkreuz. It holds a doctrine or theology "built on esoteric truths of the ancient past", which, "concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm."Rosicrucianism is symbolized by the Rosy Cross.
Between 1607 and 1616, two anonymous manifestos were published, first in Germany and later throughout Europe.These were the Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and the Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC). The influence of these documents, presenting a "most laudable Order" of mystic-philosopher-doctors and promoting a "Universal Reformation of Mankind", gave rise to an enthusiasm called by its historian Dame Frances Yates the "Rosicrucian Enlightenment".
Rosicrucianism was associated with Protestantism, Lutheranism in particular,and the manifestos opposed Roman Catholicism and its preference for dogma over empiricism. They traced their philosophy and science to the Moors, asserting that it had been kept secret for 120 years until the intellectual climate might receive it.
Early seventeenth century occult philosophers such as Michael Maier, Robert Fludd and Thomas Vaughan interested themselves in the Rosicrucian world view.According to historian David Stevenson it was also influential to Freemasonry as it was emerging in Scotland. In later centuries, many esoteric societies have claimed to derive their doctrines, in whole or in part, from the original Rosicrucians. Several modern societies have been formed for the study of Rosicrucianism and allied subjects.
The manifestos were and are not taken literally by many but rather regarded either as hoaxes or as allegorical statements. The manifestos directly state: "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy, and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets."
It is evident that the first Rosicrucian manifesto was influenced by the work of the respected hermetic philosopher Heinrich Khunrath, of Hamburg, author of the Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (1609), who was in turn influenced by John Dee, author of the Monas Hieroglyphica (1564). The invitation to the royal wedding in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz opens with Dee's philosophical key, the Monas Hieroglyphica symbol. The writer also claimed the brotherhood possessed a book that resembled the works of Paracelsus.
Some say the writers were moral and religious reformers. They used the techniques of chemistry (alchemy) and of the sciences generally as media through which to publicize their opinions and beliefs.
In his autobiography, Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654) claimed the anonymously published the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz as one of his works, and he subsequently described it as a ludibrium (trivial). In his later works, he makes alchemy an object of ridicule and places it with music, art, theatre and astrology in the category of less serious sciences. According to some sources, his role in the origin of the Rosicrucian legend is controversial. It is generally accepted according to others.
The Rosicrucian Enlightenment
1st Manifesto of the "Fraternity of the Rose Cross
In the early 17th century, the manifestos caused excitement throughout Europe by declaring the existence of a secret brotherhood of alchemists and sages who were preparing to transform the arts, sciences, religion, and political and intellectual landscape of Europe. Wars of politics and religion ravaged the continent. The works were re-issued several times and followed by numerous pamphlets, favorable and otherwise. Between 1614 and 1620, about 400 manuscripts and books were published which discussed the Rosicrucian documents.
The peak of the so-called "Rosicrucianism furor" was reached when two mysterious posters appeared on the walls of Paris in 1622 within a few days of each other. The first said, "We, the Deputies of the Higher College of the Rose-Croix, do make our stay, visibly and invisibly, in this city (...)" and the second one ended with the words "The thoughts attached to the real desire of the seeker will lead us to him and him to us".
Only known picture of Christian Rosenkreuz taken from the Fama Fraternitatis.
According to three Rosicrucian Manifestos published early in the 17th century, “Christian Rosenkreuz” was the founder of the Rosicrucian Order or the Order of the Rose Cross. The first of these manifestos, the Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis published in 1614 in Kassel, Germany, introduced the founder of the Rosicrucian Order only as “Frater C.R.C.” The Fama was followed the next year by the Confessio Fraternitatis and, the following year, The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, published in Strasbourg, disclosed the founder’s name as Christian Rosenkreuz. The “legend” of Christian Rosenkreuz is summarized in the Rose Croix Journal:
“The main part of the Fama related the life and death of Christian Rosenkreuz (‘Rosy Cross’), a mythical figure described as the founder of the Order. According to the Confessio, Rosenkreuz was born in 1378 of a noble family in poor circumstances. At the age of four he was placed in a monastery. When still ‘in his growing years’ the young man set out, accompanied by a monk, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. But the monk died in Cyprus, and Rosenkreuz studied in Damascus, where he became well known for his medical skill. Then he traveled to ‘Damkar’ in Arabia, where he studied under a group of wise men ‘to whom nature was discovered.’ These wise men had been expecting Rosenkreuz. They taught him Arabic, physics, and mathematics, and introduced him to the Book M, which contained the secrets of the universe, and which he translated into Latin.
“Later, after studying botany and zoology in Egypt, and magic and the Cabala at Fez, Rosenkreuz was equipped to teach the learned of Europe how to ‘order all their studies on those sure and sound foundations.’ He eventually returned to Germany, where he assembled seven disciples, and the group of eight founded the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross. It was determined that they would live in separate countries were they might influence learned people. ‘Before dispersing, they agreed to profess nothing but to cure the sick, without payment; not to distinguish themselves by any particular costume; to meet annually in Germany; to nominate their successors before dying; to adopt the initials R.C. as their seal; and to keep their fraternity secret for one hundred years.’
“The Fama also declared that Rosenkreuz died at the age of 106  and was buried in a hidden tomb. This tomb was later discovered in 1604 by the authors of the Fama. The tomb or vault lay behind a concealed door bearing the words ‘I shall open after 120 years.’ Inside was a seven-sided vault lit by a mysterious luminary set in the roof. In the center stood an altar, beneath which they found the body of Rosenkreuz, ‘whole and unconsumed.’ The tomb also contained a chest of mirrors and a copy of the Book T, “our greatest treasure next to the Bible.” (Rosicrucian Digest)
The influence of Rosicrucianism has probably been greater in literary circles than in philosophical ones; certainly it is through literature that the ideas and ideals of the Fraternity have entered the public mind. Let us consider two examples, both from the work of W.B. Yeats, which give us sound reasons for concerning ourselves with Christian Rosenkreuz and with working for his symbolic resurrection. First, Yeats’s poem of 1914, ‘The Mountain Tomb’:
Pour wine and dance if manhood still have pride,
Bring roses if the rose be yet in bloom;
The cataract smokes upon the mountain side,
Our Father Rosicross is in his tomb.
Pull down the blinds, bring fiddle and clarionet
That there be no foot silent in the room
Nor mouth from kissing, nor from wine unwet;
Our Father Rosicross is in his tomb.
In vain, in vain; the cataract still cries;
The everlasting taper lights the gloom
All wisdom shut into his onyx eyes
Our Father Rosicross sleeps in his tomb.
For Yeats, the sleeping Rosenkreuz is emblematic of a world dead to spiritual reality, concerned only with the material world, with bodily pleasure; all very well but ultimately aimless vanity. And yet Yeats also firmly believed that the world was changing, that Christian Rosenkreuz was set to be woken. In an essay of 1895, ‘The Body of the Father Christian Rosencrux’, Yeats wrote this:
The followers of the Father Christian Rosencrux, says the old tradition, wrapped his imperishable body in noble raiment and laid it under the house of their Order, in a tomb containing the symbols of all things in heaven and earth, and in the waters under the earth, and set about him inextinguishable magical lamps, which burnt on generation after generation, until other students of the Order came upon the tomb by chance. It seems to me that the imagination has had no very different history during the last two hundred years, but has been laid in a great tomb of criticism, and had set over it inextinguishable magical lamps of wisdom and romance, and has been altogether so nobly housed and apparelled that we have forgotten that its wizard lips are closed, or but opened for the complaining of some melancholy and ghostly voice.
But he added this conviction: ‘I cannot get it out of my mind that this age of criticism is about to pass, and an age of imagination, of emotion, of moods, of revelation, about to come in its place; for certainly belief in a supersensual world is at hand again’.
Following are accounts of the opening of the tomb:
"Rosenkreuz himself finally died in 1484...and was buried in a large tomb, a secret one naturally. After all the original members of the group died, the location of Rosenkreuz's tomb was forgotten, and was rediscovered only by accident by members of the third generation of adepts who were building one of their secret dwellings."
- Daniel Cohen, Masters of the Occult
The following is a description of the tomb:
"In the morning following, we opened the door, and there appeared to our sight a vault of seven sides and corners, every side five foot broad, and the height of eight foot. Although the sun never shined in this vault, nevertheless it was enlightened with another sun, which had learned this from the sun, and was situated in the upper part in the center of the ceiling. In the midst, instead of a tombstone, was a round altar covered over with a plate of brass, and thereon this engraven: ...
'This is all clear and bright, as also the seven sides and the two Heptagoni: so we kneeled altogether down and gave thanks to the sole wise, sole mighty and sole eternal God, who hath taught us more than all men's wits could have found out, praised be his holy name. This vault we parted in three parts, the upper part or ceiling, the wall or side, the ground or floor.
'Of the upper part you shall understand no more of it at this time, but that it was divided according to the seven sides in the triangle, which was in the bright center; but what therein is contained, you shall God willing (that are desirous of our society) behold the same with your own eyes; but every side or wall is parted into ten figures, every one with their several figures and sentences, as they are truly shown and set forth Concentratum here in our book'."
- from the first pamphlet, "Fama"
"Inside the tomb there were said to have been alchemical books with a quasi-political overtone, definitely favoring the court of Frederick V, the Elector Palatine. All this was disseminated as gospel in a kind of alchemical Protestant revival. Curiously, these texts, The Fama and The Confessio, had many doctrinal similarities to Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad, so that it appears that Dee's earlier work was used as the model for the Rosicrucian broadsheets by their authors."
- Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival
"Satisfied that they had done as Father Christian had wished 120 years before, the brothers closed the door of the vault and sealed it, knowing that it was now time to go forth with their message of worldwide moral renewal and to open the ranks to a new and larger membership."
- Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects.
De Montfaucon de Villars gave this fascinating account of the opening of the vault of Rosicrucian Christian Rosenkreuz.
When the Brethren entered the tomb of their illustrious founder 120 years after his death, they found a perpetual-lamp brightly shining in a suspended manner from the ceiling.
"There was a statue in armor [a robot] which destroyed the source of light when the chamber was opened."
That is strangely similar to the accounts of Arab historians who claimed that automatons guarded galleries under the Great Pyramid.
A 17th-century account recorded another story about a robot. In central England, a curious tomb was found containing an automaton that moved when an intruder stepped upon certain stones in the floor of the vault. At that time, the Rosicrucian controversy was at its height, so it was decided that the tomb was that of a Rosicrucian initiate. A countryman discovered the tomb, entered and found the interior brilliantly lit by a lamp hanging from the ceiling.
As he walked toward the light, his weight depressed the floor stones and, at once, a seated figure in heavy armor began to move. Mechanically it rose to its feet and struck the lamp with an iron baton, destroying it and thus effectively preventing the discovery of the secret substance that maintained the flame.
How long the lamp had burned was unknown, but the report said that it had been for a considerable number of years.
Another account from the (Rosicrucian Digest)
A vault of seven sides and corners, every side five foot broad, and the height of eight foot. Although the Sun never shined in this vault, nevertheless it was illuminated with another sun, which had learned this from the Sun and was situated in the upper part of the center of the ceiling.
In the midst, instead of a tombstone, was a round altar covered over with a piece of brass, and thereon this engraving: This compendium of the Universe I made in my lifetime to be my tomb. Round about the first circle stood: Jesus is my all.
In the middle were four figures, enclosed in circles, whose circumscription was:
1. A vacuum exists nowhere.
2. The yoke of the law.
3. The liberty of the Gospel.
4. The whole glory of God
Upper part: divided according to the seven sides in the triangle, which was in the bright center. But every side or wall is parted into ten squares, every one with their several figures and sentences.
Bottom part: parted in the triangle.
Every side of wall had a door for a chest, wherein there lay diverse things, especially our books, besides the Vocabulary of Theoph. Par. Ho. (Theophrastus Paracelsus von Hohenheim - Paracelsus) and his Itinerarium and Vitam.
In another chest were looking-glasses of diverse virtues, as also in other places were little bells, burning lamps, and chiefly wonderful artificial songs; generally all done to that end that if it should happen after many hundred years the Order or Fraternity should come to nothing, they might by this only vault be restored again.
We therefore removed the altar aside, there we lifted up a strong piece of brass, and found a fair and worthy body, whole and unconsumed, with all the ornaments and attires.
In his hand he held a parchment book, called I. which next unto the Bible is our greatest treasure, and which ought to be delivered to the censure of the world. At the end of the book stands this following Elogium:
A grain buried in the breast of Jesus, C. Ros. C., sprung from the noble and renowned German family of R.C.; a man admitted into the mysteries and the secrets od heaven and earth through the divine revelations, subtle cogitations and unwearied toil of his life. In his journeys through Arabia and Africa he collected a treasure surpassing that of kings and emperors; but finding it not suitable for his times, he kept it guarded for posterity to uncover, and appointed loyal and faithful heirs of his arts and also of his name. He constructed a microcosm corresponding in all motions to the macrocosm and finally drew up this compendium of things past, present, and to come. Then, having now passed the century of years, though oppressed by no disease, which he had neither felt in his own body nor allowed to attack others, but summoned by the Spirit of God, amid the last embraces of his brethren he rendered up his illuminated soul to God his Creator. A beloved father, an affectionate brother, a faithful teacher, a loyal friend, he was hidden here by his disciples for 120 years.
Concerning Minutum Mundum
(Miniature world, Microcosm), we found it kept in another little altar.
The following poem is dedicated by Fernando Pessoa to Christian Rosenkreutz.
When awoken from this slumber, life,
We will learn what we are,
And what was this fall towards the body,
This descent towards the Night that encumbers the Soul,
Will we then know all the hidden truth,
The one of all that is and flows?
No; even in the free Soul it remains unknown…
And God, who created us, in him doesn’t retain it.
God is the man of a greater God:
Superior Adam, He also knew the Fall;
And also Him, as He was our creator,
He was created, for Him too Truth died…
From above, His Spirit, the Abyss, is hiding it from Him.
Here below, it is not in His Body, our World.
But before was the Word, lost here
When the Infinite Light, now extinguished,
From the Chaos, ground of the Being, was then uplifted
In Shadow, and that the Word was darkened.
But if the Soul feels clearly that its shape is wrong,
In it self-this shadow-it finally sees
The Word shine, humane and sacred, from this World,
Rose of perfection, in God crucified.
Then, Lords of the threshold that opens towards Heaven,
We can then go and seek beyond God
Both the Secret of the Master and the Essential Good.
Awaken from here below and, already, from our selves,
In the actual blood of emancipated Christs
From this to-God that dies the genesis of the World.
But Alas ! Down here, unreal, wrong,
We slumber what we are, and the truth
That finally gives itself to be glanced only in dreams,
We see it, as it is in dream, in falsehood.
Shadows in craving for bodies, if the quest finds its term,
How to feel from these bodies the reality?
Because, with shadow hands, shadow, what do we grasp?
Our touch is nothing more than absence and vacuity.
Who will deliver us from this closed Soul?
Without seeing, we listen beyond the room
Of the being: But how, here, open the door?
Calm in the apparent death lying in front of us,
On his bosom lies the Hermetic Book,
Our Father Rosenkreutz knows and is silent.
Translated into English from the French edition translation
Of ‘ Fernando Pessoa, ‘Poemes Esoteriques’, ‘Message’, ‘le Marin’.
Christian Bourgois. Paris. 1988.