So, to recap, from 1614 to 1616 three tracts were published in Germany claiming to be from an underground Order of highly knowledgable wise guys possessing all sorts of esoteric secrets of the universe. It was actually a small group of students from Tubingen University pulling a scholarly prank of sorts.
For several years Europeans interested in esotericism went nuts, and in the post Reformation there were more and more each year. The search to find the Rosicrucians was on. Books on Rosicrucian teachings were put out, in most cases by people who admitted up front they were not Rosicrucians themselves but were versed in the studies the tracts alluded to, such as spiritual alchemy, Cabala, Christian mysticism, and Hermetism. Descartes was accused of being a Rosicrucian as was Frederick V, Prince Palatine of the Rhine and leader of the Protestant Union who took the throne of Holy Roman Emperor in 1619. Frederick V’s suspected Rosicrucian connections and/or involvement didn’t help him however, as the Catholic forces led by the Spanish (or course) kicked Frederick’s poor butt from here to Holland. Frederick fled after having been King for only a year. For the record, it was this very occurrence that set off the never ending fun that was the 30 years war.
With the 30 Years War underway the Rosicrucian hype slowly dissolved. A number of books continued to be published, but in general the fervor died down. For one thing, there was that nasty religious war. For another, before this point, Christian occultism was not always considered a bad thing. The Catholics objected to anything that broke Catholic dogma, but Christian mysticism was accepted as normal if not accurate and the idea of the Renaissance magus was a positive one. As Calvinism grew, attitudes about this changed to the disapproving. Lastly the scientific revolution had truly begun. Ironically, some original members of the British Royal Society were inspired by the Rosicrucians and wished to start their own group to uncover the secrets of the universe. As The Royal Society and Newton and Leibniz actually DID uncover secrets of the universe, the scientific method was in and esotericism lost some of its allure.
And thus a hundred years passed.
Dateline: 1740s/50s. The Thirty Years War is long over and an exhausted Europe has decided fighting over religion just isn’t worth it. The Rosicrucians are a blip on esoteric history. So why do we still know them now? Ah, come my friend, appearing now on history’s stage is the legendary group responsible for inventing more of the fanciful alternate history malarky that is still tossed around today than any other. They brought us the Knights Templas conspiracy bullshit, Egyptian magic, Atlantian secrets, secrets actually from every single ancient point in history real or imagined. Yes, it’s the one, the only, The Freemasons!
I’ve written about Freesmasonry and the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite at legnth, but here’s the fast version of why we care about it at this moment:
Freemasonry uses a system of symbolic morality. The learning and contemplation of this system is a big reason Freemasonry was so popular. Once however you’ve done the whole Hiram story which is the original 3 degrees, you may want to do some more, since it’s so fun and cool. So a huge demand for more degrees and rites was born.
Thus it was that in lodges across Europe and America new degrees and systems were invented, with new morality stories and symbols and new initiations. Thousands. Literally. However, it loses a lot of luster in getting to be initiated into a nifty new system of degrees when told that actually, Chauncy just spent the last few months banging this out in his drawing room. No, what sold was this is SECRET ANCIENT LORE JUST UNCOVERED FROM EGYPT/THE ORIENT/THE SUFIS/ATLANTIS/THE ROSICRUCIANS/ETC/etc/etc.
See the connection? So, way back in the early days of Freemasonry, around the 1740s, a new system of degrees was developed by Jacobite Freemasons, one of the first new systems mind you. The Jacobites were Catholic and wanted to restore the Catholic Stuarts to the British throne. They were looking to create an alternate form of Freemasonry to compete with the dominant Protestant one. They came up with the Scottish Rite system and in order to give it a good backstory they dug out the Rosicrucians and claimed it came from them. The fact that the original Rosicrucian tracts had been anti-Catholic makes for a rather good irony.
And thus the Rosicrucians were revived. In Germany a number of Freemasons wanted to be more involved in esoteric, occult stuff which Freemasonry wasn’t going far enough towards for their tastes. So in the 1750s they founded the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross, and peppered it with as much Rosicrucian lore as they could dig up.
Just to point out, they backstoried their Rosicrucian order to Egypt, claiming a great Egyptian mage in 96AD converted to Christianity and passed along his great wisdom until it reached, once again, the fucking Knights Templar in 1188 (ALWAYS with the gawdammed Knights Templar!)
This did it. Rosicrucian symbols and forms of mysticism were developed and expanded. The Golden Order of the Rosy Cross only lasted until the early 1800s, but by then Rosicrucianism had spread and was popular. In the mid 1800s Rosicrucian groups started popping up in force. They enjoyed a full flowering and led directly to…. anyone?….. Buehler?…… yes, Wicca! I shit you not. Join us tomorrow and i’ll not only keep driveling on but explain the very direct connection.