Christian Rosenkreutz, who was the last descendant of the German family of Germelshausen. The wandering Albigensians had spread the doctrine fragmentarily to the north of France, the Low Countries and Germany, crossing the fir-grown mountains and flowering in the Rheon district, on the border of Hesse and Thuringia.
In the middle of the Thuringian forest stood the castle of Germelshausen. And in the middle of the thirteenth century, Germany had just been devastated by a fanatical Dominican, Conrad of Marburg, envoy of Pope Gregory IX. Another Dominican, Tors, carried on his work. He was accompanied by a one-eyed layman called Jean, who claimed that his single eye had been given the divine faculty of distinguishing at first glance a heretic from a good Christian. Almost all who came within the field of view of this terrible eye were marked with the sign of heresy, and the whole family of Germelshausen (which now adhered to the mystical doctrine of the Albigenses) was put to death at the final assault.
The youngest one, who was then five years old, was carried from the burning castle by a monk. This monk, this ascetic dweller in the chapel of the Germelshausens, was an Albigensian adept from Languedoc.
Early he was struck by the amazing intelligence shown by the child and he started to instruct him in the Hermetic disciplines. After the siege, he took refuge in a monastery nearby, into which the breath of heresy had already penetrated. It was in this monastery that the last of the Germelshausens, who was to be known by the name of Christian Rosenkreutz, was brought up and educated. He learned Greek and Latin and, with four other monks of the community, formed a fraternal group determined to devote themselves to the search for truth. They made a plan to seek this truth at the source whence it had always sprung, the East.
When he was then fifteen, Christian Rosenkreutz, with one of the four monks whom the Fama Fraternitatis calls “Brother P.A.L.” started a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, with the aim was to reach a center of initiation. But “Brother P.A.L.” died in Cyprus, where the hazards of travel had led the two companions. Christian continued his journey alone and, as a result of directions he had received, made for Damascus.
At that time all the learned men and poets of Persia had taken refuge there from the invading Mongols under Hulagu. Damascus was under the dominion of the Mamelukes. Therefore, when he left Christian territory, Rosenkreutz assumed the dress and appearance of a Muslim pilgrim. Here, in the city of the three hundred mosques, he read the Guide of the Erring by Maimonides, the Alchemy of Happiness by Gazali, the Golden Meadows by Mazoudi, the Masnavi, the sacred book of the Sufis, finding the same mystical pantheism of his spiritual fathers the Albigenses.
After several years’ study at Damascus, he moved towards the enigmatic name of Damcar, in Arabia. Damcar means “monastery in the sand,” was at that time, and possibly there still is, a center of initiates. He remained there some years, then went to Egypt, crossed the Mediterranean, and then visited Fez, the city of the “six hundred playing fountains”, a school of astrology and magic, secret since the persecutions of Abou Yusuf.
Then he took ship for Spain, where he entered into relations with the Alumbrados, a secret society that had come into being under the influence of the Arabs and which studied the sciences and practiced a mystical philosophy derived from that of the Hermeticists and Neo-Platonists. They were engaged also in the search for the Philosopher’s Stone in accordance with the writings of Artephius. Not long afterwards, this secret society would be wiped out by the Inquisition.
It was at this time that he took the name of Rosenkreutz, a symbolic word that embodied the essence of his beliefs.
Now he was anxious to communicate the new truths that he was bringing in the domain of science and philosophy. Nevertheless, the Fama Fraternitatis recounts an echo of the disappointment experiences. He was received with scorn and laughter, because in every time, power and stupidity prevent people in receiving any new ideas. Before ordinary peaple can grasp an unfamiliar truth, habituation is necessary, even though the truth be radiant as the sun. Then Christian Rosenkreutz had to remember the persecutions that had struck down too eager possessors of the truth and realized that only slowly can wisdom enter the human heart.
At that time, the Church organized the persecution of each kind of doctrine of knowledge more intensely than these sects propagated themselves. Christian Rosenkreutz, seeing the number of imprisonments and burnings, was compelled to weigh the danger into which the spiritual light brought those among whom it spread.
Though he wandered how necessary for the spirit to develop, and then he reconciled himself “leaving the acorns to the pigs and keeping the pearls for the elect few”. So he laid the foundations of an occult group. He counted up how many he would be able to initiate and saw that their number could not be more than eight. He went back to Thuringia to find the three monks, who had been the companions of his early studies. They formed a brotherhood of four members, and the number was increased a little later to eight.
The aim of the Rosicrucians is the great crossroad of our civilization: science, instead of being organized for material ends only, might have been the source of a boundless development of the spirit. But this is against the power on the earth, which is of a destructive inner quality.
To get this aim, Rosenkreutz made rules for his initiated: unselfishness, absence of pride, temperance.
Spread of the Doctrine.
It has been asserted that Paracelsus, Francis Bacon and Spinoza were all Rosicrucians; but there seems to be little proof of this. In the eighteenth century, a new grade, that of the Rosicrucian Degree, was introduced into Freemasonry by the Jesuits, who had made their way inside the movement and everywhere formed groups within it. The Rosicrucian legend inspired Jean de Mechlin, who preached in Northern Germany, and that at Brussels he was the source of truth from which the mystic Bloemert drew. This inspired woman performed miraculous cures and published writings in which she taught the liberation of one’s inner being through love. Her disciples asserted that on either side of her they saw a seraph, or angel who advised her.
Christian Rosenkreutz was also the mysterious visitor of Johann Tauler, the most celebrated doctor of theology of his time, that the learned world of Europe went to Strasbourg to hear his sermons, the ideal of which was absorption into the divine essence (and became a member of the Friends of God, a sect with the same characteristics as the Albigenses: rejecting the expression of evil the cruel god of the Old Testament, and taught openess as a practical means of divine realization).
Descartes tried to establish contact with the genuine brotherhood of Rosicrucians, and he searched for them in the Low Countries and in Germany, but on his return to France said he had not been able to find out anything definite about the group.
The brotherhood has never ceased to remain secret, by all who struggled against the tyranny of Calvinism and Lutheranism, which were as intolerant as the Inquisition, and it worked against the intransigence of the universities, which tried to submit all thought to the catholic interpretation of Aristotle through Tommaso and Agostino.
The messengers remained faithful to their vow not to make themselves known: so the message reached its destination, but it was not known who had brought it to light.