What’s the Alternative

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The Rosicrucians, or Order of the Rose Cross, began either in ancient Egypt or about 1313 or 1490 or 1616, depending on which source you believe. The founders were Egyptian sages, friends of Martin Luther (whose coat of arms had a rose and cross on it), Giordano Bruno, or persons unknown. Whatever the truth of these murky matters, the Rosicrucians definitely influenced Freemasonry, which still has a rank of Knight of the Rose Cross among its higher degrees. The eye-in-triangle design, often called Masonic, only vaguely resembles Masonic symbols but has a long history of usage by the Rosicrucians.

The first public notice of the Rosicrucians occurred ca. 1614-20 when books titled Fama Fratenitatis, Confessio fraternitatis Rosseae Cruets, and The Alchemical Marriage of Christian Rosencross appeared from unknown sources (now understood to be Sufic) in major European centers of learning. These books announced the existence of the Order, proclaimed its possession of all advanced scientific and mystical knowledge, and invited the worthy to join it—if they could find it. Nobody ever did admit to finding the secret Order, and most historians regard the matter as an inscrutable or pointless hoax.

Another source informs us that the Rosicrucian Order was formed by Christian Rosenkreus in 1313 to prepare for a new phase of the Christian religion: "The great spiritual entities in charge of evolution change the religions of the world in harmony with the passage of the marching orbs in the heavens." Specifically, the Rose Cross intends to teach us a form of "sixth sense" by which we may transcend both faith and reason and know directly the meaning of rose, cross, and other mystic symbols and what evolutionary message they carry.

The late Philip K. Dick has conjectured that the Rosicrucian order began as an anti-Vatican conspiracy, created within the Vatican by advanced adepts who knew the Church needed to be shaken and reformed.


Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, by Frances Yates, University of Chicago Press, 1964.

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