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The Real History Of The Rosicrucians

Arthur Edward Waite


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This is Arthur Edward Waite's study of the elusive Rosicrucians. Waite presents complete translations of all of the texts which defined the Rosicrucians, including the Fama Fraternitatis, the Confessio Fraternitatis, and the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. The longest text, the Chemical Wedding is a thinly veiled alchemical allegory. The Real History stands in stark contrast to Hargrave Jennings' The Rosicrucians, their Rites and Mysteries, which Waite criticizes throughout. The very title of this book might be considered a riposte to Jennings. The Rosicrucians are described as celibate, which contradicts Jennings' focus on the role of phallicism in the Rosicrucian mysteries.

This book has 344 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1887.

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Excerpt from 'The Real History Of The Rosicrucians'

THREE derivations are offered of the name Rosicrucian. The first, which is certainly the most obvious, deduces it from the ostensible founder of the order, Christian Rosenkreuze. I shall show, however, that the history of this personage is evidently mythical or allegorical, and therefore this explanation merely cakes the inquiry a step backward to the question, What is the etymology of Rosenkreuze? The second derivation proposed is from the Latin words Ros, dew, and Crux, cross. This has been countenanced by Mosheim, who is followed by Ree's Encyclopædia; and other publications. The argument in its favour may be fairly represented by the following quotation:--"Of all natural bodies, dew was deemed the most powerful dissolvent of gold; and the cross, in chemical language, was equivalent to light; because the figure of a cross exhibits at the same time the three letters of which the word lux, or light, is compounded. Now, lux is called . . . the seed or menstruum of the red dragon, or, in other words, that gross and corporeal light, which, when properly digested and modified, produces gold. Hence it follows, if this etymology be admitted, that a Rosycrucian philosopher is one who by the intervention and assistance of the dew, seeks for light, or, in other words, the substance called the Philosopher's Stone."

This opinion exaggerates the importance attributed to the dew of the alchemists. The universal dissolvent has figured under various names, of which ros is by no means most general; the comprehensive "Lexicon Alchymiæ" does not mention it. According to Gaston le Doux, in his "Dictionnaire Hermétique," Dew, simply so called, signifies Mercury; Dew of the Philosophers is the matter of the stone when under the manipulation of the artist, and chiefly during its circulations in the philosophical egg. The White and Celestial Dew of the Wise is the philosophical stone perfected to the White. Mosheim derived his opinion from Peter Gassendi, and from a writer in Eusebius Renandot's "Conferences Publiques," who confesses that he knew nothing whatsoever of the Rosicrucians till the task of speaking on the subject was imposed on him by the Bureau d’Addresse. He says:--"Dew, the most powerful dissolvent of gold which is to be found among natural and non-corrosive substances, is nothing else but light coagulated and rendered corporeal; when it is artistically concocted and digested in its own vessel during a suitable period it is the true menstruum of the Red Dragon, i.e., of gold, the true matter of the Philosophers. The society desiring to bequeath to posterity the ineffaceable sign of this secret, caused them to adopt the name Frères de la Rozée Cuite." The mystic triad of the Society, F. R. C., has been accordingly interpreted Fratres Roris Cocti, the Brotherhood of the Concocted or Exalted Dew, but the explanation has little probability in itself.

"Several chemists," says Pernetz, in his "Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermétique," "have regarded the dew of May and September as the matter of the Magnum Opus, influenced doubtless by the opinion of various authors that dew was the reservoir of the universal spirit of Nature. . . . But when we seriously study the texts of the true philosophers, wherein they snake reference to dew, we are soon convinced that they only speak of it by a similitude, and that theirs is metallic, that is, it is the mercurial water sublimated into vapour within the vase, and precipitated at the bottom in the form of fine rain. Thus when they write of the dew of the month of May, they are referring to that of their philosophic Spring, which is governed by the gemini of the alchemical Zodiack, which differs from the ordinary astronomical Zodiack. Philalethes has positively said that their dew is their mercurial water rising from putrefaction."

The third derivation is that which was generally adopted, even from the beginning, by writers directly or indirectly connected with the Rosicrucians. It deduces the term in question from the words rosa, rose, and crux. This is sanctioned by various editions of the society's authoritative documents, which characterise it as the Broederschafft des Roosen Creutzes, that is, the Rose-Crucians, or Fratres Rosatæ Crucis, according to the "Confessio Recepta," terms quite excluding the conception of dew, which in German is Thau, while in Latin the Brothers of the Dewy Cross would be Fratres Roratæ Crucis.

When it can be done it is surmounted with a glory and placed on a calvary. When it is worn appended and made of cornelian, garnet, ruby, or red glass, the calvary and glory are generally omitted."

Mr Hargrave Jennings, who borrows the whole of this passage without acknowledgment of any kind, also tells us that "the jewel of the Rosicrucians is formed of a transparent red stone with a red cross on one side and a red rose on the other--thus it is a crucified rose."

All derivations, however, are to some extent doubtful and tentative. The official proclamations of the Society are contained in the "Fama Fraternitatis," and in the "Confessio Fraternitatis," which, in their original editions, appear to describe it simply as the Fraternitas de R. C., while the initials of its founder are given as C. R. "The Chemical Nuptials of Christian Rosen Kreuze," published anonymously at Strasbourg in 1616, and undeniably connected with the order, seem to identify it as the Brotherhood of the Rose-Cross, and its founder as Father Rosycross. These designations at any rate were immediately adopted in Germany, and they appear in the subsequent editions of both manifestos, though as early as 1618 I find Michael Maier, the alchemist, expressing a different opinion on this point in his "Themis Aurea, hoc est, De Legibus Fraternitatis R. C. Tractatus." "No long time elapsed, when the Society first became known by that which was written, before an interpreter came forward who conjectured those letters to signify the Rose Cross, in which opinion the matter remains till this present, notwithstanding that the Brothers in subsequent writings do affirm it to be erroneously so denominated, and testify that the letters R. C. denote the name of their first inaugurator. If the mind of one man could search that of another and behold formed therein the idea or sensible and intelligible form, there would be no necessity for speech or writing among men. But this being denied to us while we subsist in this corporeal nature, though doubtless granted to pure intelligences, we explain our rational conceptions one to another by the symbols of language and writing. Therefore letters are of high efficacy when they embrace a whole society and maintain order therein, nor is an opportunity afforded to the curious to draw omens from integral names, nor from families situations, nor from places persons, nor from persons the secrets of affairs."

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