by V\Ill\Bro. Keith Stewart 33°


When, in the seventeenth century, operative Freemasonry became speculative, it met so exactly an intellectual thirst of the day that lodges grew quickly in number. The measuring implements of operative masons and their use in Geometry were in close harmony with the new measuring techniques of scholars such as Kepler and Galileo who by using them, pierced a cocoon of beliefs taken for granted for two thousand years.


And not only did Masonic lodges multiply but so did Masonic degrees, no doubt to increase the pleasure of additional levels of initiation and secrecy. A strong case can be argued that Operative Masonry brought us only the first and second degrees and that the legend of Hiram Abif was a Speculative substitution. We all know how many degrees that story has added to our rite. From every fable and legend, from every remarkable episode in history, inspiration was found for another degree: from the Zodiac, the Pyramids, the Flood, from Eleusis, the Golden Fleece, the Crusades. At one time as many as ninety Masonic degrees existed. It took another century for our Ancient and Accepted Rite to determine the final number of its degrees as thirty three. But through a lot of that time the Rose Croix degree was, as it has remained, a focal degree.


It seems obvious to me that some part of our degree must have originated from the story of the Rosy Cross. Although Thomas de Quincey, the opium-eater, who lived two hundred years nearer these events than we do, said that the Rosicrucians were not freemasons, to deny any connection would stretch coincidence beyond acceptable limits. Although to think so was once frowned upon, a more tolerant attitude now prevails.


But before I continue about the Rosy Cross, I should like to take you on two brief journeys into history, both connected with magic. Our first trip concerns Elizabeth, daughter of King James I and her wedding to Frederick, the Fifth Palatine Elector. It was a spectacular affair, Frederick wearing the red cross of St George and the Order of the Garter, with which he had been invested and the whole scene lit by bright lights made to move as if by magic. On the wedding eve there was a performance of Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest", - significant in itself for though Shakespeare uses magic for fun and frolic in such plays as "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and sometimes for good - the ghost of Hamlet's father; sometimes for evil - the witches in "Macbeth"; this play shows us how good magic triumphs over bad with the power of Prospero proving superior to the wiles of Sycorax and her monstrous son Caliban. And so, the wedding over, the Royal couple went off on a triumphal progress across Europe to their court at Heidelberg which for six years from 1614 to 1620 became the centre of advanced Renaissance culture - as someone said, the Hermetic Golden Age" - until Frederick, persuaded by the Protestant Princes of Germany, to challenge the Emperor, found himself abandoned by them and without aid from England from his father-in-law, was overwhelmingly defeated in 1620 at . the Battle of the White Mountain outside Prague.






Our second excursion into history goes back further; to the son of a petty official at the court of Henry VIII, John Dee, who became the greatest philosopher of Elizabethan England. At 15 he went up to Cambridge and excelled in Divinity and the humanities but abandoned these for alchemy, Hermetic studies and mathematics - regarded almost as a black art.


In 1570, he published the first English edition of Euclid with a preface about the three levels of mathematics, first the practical about weights and measures and navigation: second the intellectual about astrology for since the planets kept the celestial system in balance, they must obviously control the lives of its inhabitants; and third the Super-Celestial or Spiritual where man by piety and the use of ciphers might come so close to God and His angels that he might return to the innocence of Adam before the fall. Later Dee expanded this third level in another book "Monas Hieroglyica" about a magical hieroglyphic that could create this communion. After some years abroad in Heidelberg and Prague, centres of the study of magic, he returned to London but whether because of his angel music or not, he was coldly received - the man whom Elizabeth had asked to cast a horoscope to decide the most propitious day for her coronation and who later had been called on to exorcise evil spells cast against the Queen was now shunned and died in 1608 in poverty and neglect.


What have our two brief journeys into history to do with the Rosicrucian story? Firstly substantial parts of the three manifestoes which tell the Rosicrucian story are taken word for word from John Dee's writings and they carry his mysterious hieroglyphic on the title- page although Dee has been dead for some years. Secondly. these three. manifestoes were published near Heidelberg, during those golden years. The last of them to be published was written before the others. It was titled "The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreux" and recounted how Christian Rosycross was present at a Royal wedding and was there initiated into a knightly brotherhood. the Order of the Rosy Red Cross, - much as Frederick had been. The first two pamphlets  "Fama Fraternitatis" or the Story of the Brotherhood and the "Confessio", a statement of its creed tell the story of Christian Rosenkreux:, a pious and saintly scholar whose body was found 120 years after his death in a secret vault where it had been buried after a long lifetime of pilgrimage in search of learning and divine magic.
The philosophy suggested that his followers by concentrating on pious devotion and dedicated themselves to healing the sick without thought of reward would approach a spirit world beyond the world of nature. The manifestoes appealed to men of faith and learning to come forward and join the order.


Although many learned men of the day applied, none received an answer. Indeed, there is no record of anyone being a member or even meeting a member. There has long been argument as to whether the manifestoes were serious writings or lampoons; whether the order ever existed or whether as Johann Valentin Andreae, the author of the "Chemical Wedding" said, the whole affair was a ludibrium or prank.


Last century in England there were several attempts to form a society, but the Rosicrucian Society which exists today was founded in America in 1909 by H. Spencer Lewis and attracted attention a few years later when the founder was said to have transformed a piece of zinc into gold. , It was almost a hundred and fifty years after the Rosicrucian story - four or five generations - before the ritual of our Rose Croix degree was committed to writing - at Lyons in France in 1761. Certainly the earnest group of masons there was in touch with masons in Germany.


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continued to cast horoscopes all his life and he was led to his theory of gravity through his belief in occult forces. The French philosopher Descartes, responsible for such great advances in mathematics as well as philosophy asked to join the Rosicrucians and indeed spent years near the widowed Elizabeth now living modestly at Leiden searching for them in vain. Many scholars perceive in Francis Bacon's "New Atlantis" evidence that he was a Rosicrucian although today we look
on him as the founder of the new inductive method of reasoning, which has become the basis for three centuries of modem materialist thought.


When, by irony, Sophia. the great-grand-daughter of Frederick's Elizabeth, brought her husband George I, back to the throne of England, it was into a more material and less spiritual age - just two years before the Grand Lodge of England was formed. By this time angel magic was dead and when lodges on the continent were organised, this more pragmatic attitude was adopted there. Faith of course, can only begin where logic ends. for it is not Faith to accept what reason tells us is true.

But although Faith extends into the unknown and unknowable, each age sets its own limits for such journeys. When our Rose Croix degree was born the magic of the Rosicrucian Rosy Cross was no longer acceptable.




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