The Order of the Gold and Rose Cross: Last of the Old Mago-Mystics
A presentation based on this paper was recently given to the Metropolitan Study Group and can be viewed in full here.
Ian H. Gladwin, 2022
Over the past two hundred years, many Rosicrucian groups have looked to the 18th century German Gold- und Rosenkreuzer Order as a source of authentic Rosicrucianism. The reasons for this have been both practical and historical. Practically speaking, the G+RC stand to date as one of the oldest, fullest systematized Order representing Rosicrucianism. Since their demise, many groups have modeled the Order’s structure and system to align more closely with their practices and ideology. On the historical side, though, the G+RC also represents a continuation and connection to the Rosicrucian Manifestos.
Through a careful study of their practices and teachings, as found in their own materials, the G+RC proves to have embraced the basic precepts (i.e. landmarks) presented therein. These landmarks, from a practical point of view, could be referred to as a trinosophia of Rosicrucianism, with an emphasis on Cabala, alchemy, and magic—with aims for higher spiritual purposes rather than for their materialistic or secular value A trinosophia of Rosicrucian practices can be discovered through gathering their basic points of practice introduced in the Manifestos. In the Fama Fraternitatis, these can be identified by looking … Continue reading.
The Gold- und Rosenkreuzer were an order that manifested at different periods of time. Many have placed their appearance at two different periods—one at the early 18th century and another at the later part of the 18th century. It has been established, however, that individuals and groups identifying through either a Gold —or— Rose cross have existed since the 17th century. The Rose Cross of the Manifestos is common knowledge, but the Gold Cross has received attention only somewhat recently.In Henricus Madathanus’ (Adrian von Mynsicht) Aureum Seculum Redivivum, for example, he refers to himself as a ‘Frater Aurea Crucis’ (Brother of the Gold Cross) in 1621Madathanus, p 72.
The alchemical and symbolic content of Aureum Seculum Redivivum may be sufficient for drawing parallels to the Rosicrucian Manifestos, especially The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. As an isolated example, this might seem insubstantial, however other appearances of a Gold Cross in connection to alchemical groups appears within the next few decades. In the mid-17th century, the German-Italian alchemist Federico Gualdi’s Cavalieri dell'Aurea Croce (Knights of the Gold Cross) were documented as being active in VeniceTrial against Federico Gualdi, spontaneous appearance by Francesco Giusto, 21 April, 1676. Venice, Archivio di Stato, Sant’ Uffizzio, b. 119.. Elsewhere, manuscripts in the possession of one of Gualdi’s circle are stated to belong to a Fratelli dell'Aurea Croce o vero dell'Aurea Rosea (Brothers of the Gold Cross, or more properly, the true Gold Rose). These were discovered in Naples‘Osservationi inviolabibli da osservarsi dalli Fratelli dell; Aurea Croce, o vero dell’ Aurea Rosa precedenti la solita professione’. Naples: Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, Cod. XII-E-30, ff. … Continue reading. Meanwhile, in Rome, the Marquise Massimiliano Palombara wrote of "a company named after the rosy cross, or, as others say, of the golden cross" near the same timePalombara, Massimiliano. La Bugia. Vatican Library, Ms. Reginensis Latini 1521. 1656. Perhaps tellingly, Palombara’s villa in Rome contained what has since been called the “alchemical portal”— a false entryway featuring symbols unique to few sources, one of them is an emblem that appears on the bookplate for Madathanus’ Aureum Seculum Redivivum.
It should be noted that in each case where the Gold Cross is specified, the organization placed emphasis on laboratory alchemy. With Gualdi, Madathanus, Santinelli and Palombara, this alchemical connection is held in common. With the exception of Madathanus, however, missing from these associations with the Gold Cross is the pietism, or emphasis of venerating and embodying the divine, which is prevalent in much other material associated with the RosicruciansThe Pietism most associated with the Rosicrucians would be that of figures like Johann Arndt, Jakob Böhme, and those in the German mystic tradition whose theology was focused on emulating … Continue reading. Such a list of pietist alchemists would include Paracelsus, Valentine Weigel, Jacob Boehme, Daniel Mögling, Heinrich Khunrath, and Michael Maier. Now, since the Manifestos had revealed a Rose Cross society professing wisdom of what lies above the world of the profaned alchemists (i.e. seeking material wealth), it stands to reason that what the Gold Cross revealed was the natural science, or natural magic, of the sensible, (meta)physical world. Yet, this equally was not of the profane variety. Through their full exploration of creation's divine cosmos which includes the natural world, the Gold Cross sought value of a spiritual dimension of everything. The significance of their work was theosophical, alchemical, and theurgical in dimension — embracing the totality of God's divinity both in the below as well as the above.
After the turn of the 18th century, works like Samuel Richter’s The full and complete preparation of the philosophical stone of the brothers created from the order of the Gülden- und Rosen-Creutzesand manuscripts known as the Testamentum or Thesaurus Thesaraurum of the Fraternitatae Rosea et Aurea Crucis demonstrated—what appeared to be—a union of these two crosses of Gold and Rose. Considering the combined alchemical and pietistic evidence supported in his work, all appearances would suggest this was the case. One of Renatus’ rules for members to identify each other members seems to emphasize such a union as well, with members belonging to the Rose Cross instructed to wear a green cross, and those belonging to the Gold Cross to wear a red oneRichter, p 106-107.
In the late 18th century, where the G+RC emerges in its more robust form (a period often referred to as their Alten System, orold system) evidence of these components becomes more abundant in their recognition of a RC trinosophia demonstrated through their pietistic/theosophical, alchemical, and theurgic approach. Beginning with pietism and theosophy, it served a dual purpose, first introduced in the early grades to orienting initiates towards deep introspection, a veneration of God’s presence, and a practical embodiment of Christ's and the biblical fathers' teachings. Later on, it serves as a system for comprehending the metaphysical forces unfolding through the divine plan of creation. Prime examples of this can be found in works by John Mason, Jacob Boehme, Georg Von Welling, and Josef Kirchweger where faith, inner work, and wisdom of God's kingdom come together.The work of Jacob Boehme surrounds the pietist nature of the order in general. Other works recommended by the Order for initiates to study were John Mason’s Self Knowledge, Georg Von Welling’s … Continue reading
For Cabala, the G+RC's approach was somewhat different than what might be understood from either a Rabbinical Jewish or Hermetic Kabbalistic perspective. Whereas their Cabala equally presents a cosmological system of emanation, offering gnosis on the composite nature of souls and matter in the divine scheme, in a more or less Christian Renaissance reception of Cabala, the G+RC's Cabala concerned itself with knowledge of the language or creative Word. The work of Johannes Reuchlin would be key for understanding the G+RC's approachReuchlin, Johannes. De Verbo Mirifico. Tübingen: T. Anshelm, 1514. & Reuchlin, Johannes. De Arte Cabalistica Libri Tres. dicati. Hagenau: T. Anshelm, 1517.. For the G+RC, God's finger had traced the alphabet of Nature as a legible and intelligible Word for our understanding. God's 'Word' could thus be seen as the Logos, as the reason or measure giving structure of meaning to the world in general.
For alchemy, the G+RC’s approach was not (only) directed towards processes of “inner” or spiritual alchemy, but primarily focused on practical laboratory alchemy. This may be considered from a few viewpoints. As an extension of their “Cabala”, their alchemy was a practical, scientific, and metaphysical labor concerned with knowledge of the miraculous forces of creation in nature, with creation itself understood not only through physical substances, but through the substances of souls and spirits as well. Their alchemy was a universal system for understanding the various levels of creation through the vegetable, mineral, animal, and astral kingdoms up to the Spiritus Mundi, or World Soul.
These kingdoms more or less correspond to Aristotelian definitions of the ensouled cosmos, which were received and preserved through the practices of medieval alchemists, which in turn were derived from Arabic alchemy and commentators on Aristotle’s metaphysics It is well documented that alchemy as it entered into the Western Latin-speaking world was derived from Arabic sources such as the work of Jābir ibn Hayyān. Jābir, in turn had developed a system … Continue reading. Through these kingdoms, the G+RC learned how to produce universal solvents (menstruums), tinctures, and a variety of other substances used for physical health and psychotropic purposes. The alchemical operations culminated in the production of stones (i.e. philosophic stones) which in the final grade were used in ritual involving prophesy and theurgy.
Magic, for the G+RC, would appear to sit squarely with the way it is presented in the Manifestos, where in the Fama Fraternitatis it is alluded to as being in harmony with God, Heaven and Earth. In their grade materials, the G+RC didn’t make excessive displays of magic (there are a few mere instances where it appears in their rituals). Ceremonial magic was reserved for their highest grades. To this author’s knowledge, detailed instructions covering the Order’s highest grade of Magus haven’t appeared [Editor's Note: you can find an English translation of a ritual believed to be related to the Magus grade in the SRIA London December MMXXI pamphlet], however, various versions of their grade plans leave specific clues, mentioning the Shemhamphoresh angels and the Urim and ThummimSeveral Hauptplans (Main Plans) belonging to the Order have appeared with this information. The Main Plan is a document providing an outline of the grade names and numbers, jewels, leader locations, … Continue reading. It’s known that the G+RC possessed manuscript copies of the work Magia Divina, a text that gives instructions for the creation and use of the Urim and Thummim, (meaning “lights” and “perfection”, in biblical literature used to speak with, or hear, God). The original 1745 publication of Magia Divina also describes workings practiced in a group setting.
The Urim and Thummim was created via a process of metallurgic alchemy involving an alloy made out of the seven planetary metals referred to as Electro Magico, or electrum. Five stones produced from the vegetable through astral kingdoms were inset around a reflective surface used for scrying into. Other rituals were performed with the Urim and Thummim as well, including one’s meeting and conversation with their Holy Guardian Angel. Perhaps one of the most revealing examples of the Order’s magia in the form of theurgy also appears, wherein operations are performed to draw down the forces of Greco-Roman gods into statues upon which are written also the names of the archangels. Such practices known as telestike (τελεστικη) can be found in the classical Hermetica, particularly the Latin Asclepius (originally called the Logos Teleios, λόγος τέλειος, in Greek) as well as mentioned in Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult PhilosophyAgrippa, Book II, Chapter L, ‘Of Certain Celestial Observations and the Practice of Some Images.’ p 404.
This overview portrays the G+RC not only upholding a RC trinosophia of magic, alchemy, and Cabala expressed in the Rosicrucian Manifestos, but existing also at a time when the existence of such beliefs and practices were being threatened in a world moving further into the direction of scientific rationalism. Following the developments of subjects learned in tandem with magic such as humanism, philosophy, theology, and natural science during the Western European Renaissances, the following centuries would bring a much different climate wherein the subjects of religion, philosophy, and science became increasing isolated from one another.
This separation can perhaps be best exemplified by the so-called “mind-body duality” of Renes Descartes, where the soul and physical body were no longer thought to exist as integrated with one another, but fully separate components of a person’s constitution working in cooperation. Such ideas caught on during the Enlightenment in religious forms of Deism which sought to explain God’s creation through models of geometry and science, yet seeing God completely distant or unavailable in that picture altogether. For the G+RC this simply wasn’t acceptable, and for this reason were often seen not only out of step with their time and going to war with opponents such as the Bavarian Illuminati, but adhering to an older form of mago-mysticism dating from another era.
Barbierato, Federico; Malena, Adelisa. Rosacroce, libertini e alchimisti nella società veneta del secondo Seicento: i Cavalieri dell'Aurea e Rosa Croce, Storia d’Italia, Annali, 25, Esoterismo , G.M. Cazzaniga , Einaudi , 2010, pp. 323-357
Beyer, Dr. Bernhard. Das Lehrsystem des Ordens der Gold- und Rosenkreuzer. Pansophie-Verlag, Leipzig. 1925
Gold- und Rosenkreuzer, 4th Class, 5th Class, 7th Class, and instruction for the 8th Grade, Kloss Archives at the Vrijmetselarij Museum, Den Haag
Madathanus, Heinrich (Adrian von Mynsicht). Aureum seculum redivivum, quod nunc iterum apparuit suaviter floruit, et odoriferum aureumque semen peperit / carum pretiosumque illud semen omnibus verae sapientiae & doctrinae filiis monstrat & relevat Hinricus Madathanus. 1621, Frankfurt.
Magia divina oder gründ- und deutlicher Unterricht von denen fürnehmsten caballistischen Kunst-Stücken der alten Israeliten, Welt-Weisen und Ersten. Frankfurt, Leipzig 1745. Marx, Arnold. Die Gold- und Rosenkreuzer : Ein Mysterienbund des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland. Zeulenroda-Leipzig : Sporn, 1929
Richter, Samuel (Sincerus Renatus). Die warhaffte und vollkommene Bereitung des philosophischen Steins der Brüderschafft aus dem Orden des Gülden- und Rosen-Creutzes… Breslau, 1710
Testamentum Der Fraternitet Rosæ et Auræ Crucis, als gewisse Extases oder geheime Operationes, wodurch das Mysterium eröffnet an unsere Kinder der Weisheit göttlicher Magie und englischer Cabbalae. I.W.R. Anno 580., Cod SN 2897, Vienna Nationalbibliothek
A trinosophia of Rosicrucian practices can be discovered through gathering their basic points of practice introduced in the Manifestos. In the Fama Fraternitatis, these can be identified by looking at the narrative of Brother C.R.’s journey through the East, around the Mediterranean and the description of the practices of magia and alchemy he encountered. Cabala is also present in the list of names in Brother C.R.’s tomb. For more, see Scoring System for the Rosicrucian Order Reviews on pansophers.com
‘Osservationi inviolabibli da osservarsi dalli Fratelli dell; Aurea Croce, o vero dell’ Aurea Rosa precedenti la solita professione’. Naples: Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, Cod. XII-E-30, ff. 225 recto - 242 verso.
The work of Jacob Boehme surrounds the pietist nature of the order in general. Other works recommended by the Order for initiates to study were John Mason’s Self Knowledge, Georg Von Welling’s Opus Mago-cabbalisticum, and Anton Josef Kirchweger’s Aurea Catena Homeri.
It is well documented that alchemy as it entered into the Western Latin-speaking world was derived from Arabic sources such as the work of Jābir ibn Hayyān. Jābir, in turn had developed a system influenced largely by Aristotle’s philosophy of natural science. During the so-called “Recovery of Aristotle” during the 12th and 13th centuries in the Western Latin-speaking world, famed alchemists like Roger Bacon, Arnaldus de Villa Nova, Albertus Magnus, and Ramon Llull were all keen to acquire knowledge of Aristotle’s teachings.
Several Hauptplans (Main Plans) belonging to the Order have appeared with this information. The Main Plan is a document providing an outline of the grade names and numbers, jewels, leader locations, and their descriptions. The Shemhamphoresh and the Urim and Thummim are listed under the column with heading of “jewels” worn by members for the Magus grade. For a copy of the original Hauptplan from 1777, see: Gold- und Rosenkreutzer. Allgemeines. Personalia. Rituelles; 6. Bruchstücke v. Bücher über Rosenkreuzerei, Tabelle usw. Kloss Archives at the Vrijmetselarij Museum, Den Haag. p 193. For an English translation, see: Eike, Christine. ‘Grades of the Golden Rosenkreuzer’, pansophers.com