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XV. Connection between the Rosicrucians and Freemasons

CHAPTER XV.

CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ROSICRUCIANS AND FREEMASONS.

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
EpistolƦ” 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 student to be transformed from dead
into living philosophical stones.1 “Transmutemini, trans-

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 which neither Fludd nor the unknown
Joachim Fritz are responsible.

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mutemini, 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. An 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 Rosicrucians, 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

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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 except 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

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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 aweinspiring
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

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“Dictionnaire MaƧconnique”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
platitudinariansā€”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

1 “Dictionnaire MaƧonnique, ou Recueil d’Esquisses de toutes les
parties de l’edifice connu sous le nom de MaƧonnerie.” A Paris:
5825, 8vo.

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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 twentytwo
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 the 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 Pāˆ“ Wāˆ“ 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.”

1 Mackey’s “Lexicon of Freemasonry,” p. 269.