Rosicrucian History And Mysteries * Christian Rebisse (2005)

For the next esoteric organisation to read about its history, I thought to have a look at AMORC (or rather: Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis) I looked around a bit and this book seemed to be just that: a history of AMORC. It is and it is not entirely.

The book was originally written in French, but was translated to English. I figure that this was a good idea, since AMORC started as an American organisation and my guess is that it is still biggest in the USA. The author does indeed provide a history of this Rosicrucian organisation, but he decided to place it in the course of Western esotericism.

The book counts 242 pages. The first half is about Western esotericism in general and after a while about the original Rosicrucian movement in particular. This history is certainly not bad, but I did not read much that I did not already know. Egypt, Hermetism, even Guénon is mentioned. Of course when we come closer to our own time the book mentions Medieval and Renaissance magic, alchemy and after a while the Rosicrucian manifestoes. These manifestoes are dealt with a bit too much in detail, retelling the contents, etc. After some information about philosophers with Rosicrucian interests and Rosicrucian elements in (early) Freemasonry, the author quite extensively speaks about magnetism, hypnosis, spiritualism and “Egyptosophy”.
Initially I wondered why these ‘esoterically less appealing’ movements get so much attention, but when Henry Spencer Lewis enters the stage, things become clear. Lewis, the founder of AMORC, was quite active in spiritualistic movements in his younger years. He made quite a name with investigations and articles that he wrote. After describing a few contemporary Rosicrucian movements, Rebisse tells the story of how Lewis sought contact with Masonic Rosicrucians in France and how he eventually was initiated and given the task to wait for a bit before restoring Rosicrucianism in the USA. This chapter certainly is the highlight of the book. The author describes the events relatively objectivally and tried to corroborate events that he describes.

Then -finally- follow chapters about AMORC, how it began, how it spread, how Lewis collected the teachings, how Lewis tried to make contacts to allow his organisation to expand and how these alliances sometimes proved to be a bad idea. Shortly we can read about AMORC after Lewis passed away and his son took over, to pass away in his turn and succeeded with less and more success.

“Rosicrucian History and Mysteries” indeed gives a history of AMORC. Do not expect to learn much about its teachings though, that is not what this book was written for. The massive ‘introduction’ is undoubtely interesting for people who are less familiar with the history of Western esotericism than myself, but still, when you look at it, the actual pages that tell us about the early years of AMORC are but few. That is not to say that the book does not give an idea of the origin and development of this worldwide (neo-)Rosicrucian organisation. I was largely unaware of how things went for AMORC ‘history-wise’ and I now no longer am. The book was written by a member and published by the organisation itself, so it may not be entirely objective, but the positive way to look at this is to say that this is the way the organisation sees its own history and it is not as fancy as the history that some esoteric organisations claim for themselves.

Be warned that this book seems to be sold for pretty steep prices while when you look a bit further, it does not need to be that expensive. Besides, it is available as ebook for various platforms.

2005 Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, isbn 1893971058

Divine Wisdom Divine Nature * Cis van Heertum & José Bouman (2014)

The Bibliotheca Philsophica Hermetica (or Ritman Library) published a wonderfull book about “The Message of the Rosicrucian Manifestoes in the Visual Language of the Seventeenth Century”. The book has 168 pages, is beautifully put together and nicely informative. The first part is about the Rosicrucian manifestoes and their reception. The second part more lives up to the subtitle and highlights some works of the Renaissance and shows the reader (some of) the details of the images. Detailed information is given about works of Heinrich Khunrath, Daniel Mögling, Stephan Michelspacher, Robert Fludd and Michael Maier. The book is a bit larger than most books and however the images are printed in high quality, sometimes the details are too small to see what the authors write about. Fortunately this is not a problem in most cases. Also often details are taken out of the images and displayed separately.
The texts do not go into any depth I have not encountered yet, but I especially enjoyed the information about details in the images that have escaped my eye so far. Also the authors put details in larger contexts giving explanations that I would not have thought of myself.
A beautiful book to have on the shelf and a nice read if you are interested in the period of the Rosicrucian manifestoes.
2014 In De Pelikaan, isbn 9789071608339

Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians of the 16th and 17th Centuries * a brother of the Fraternity (1785)

This was the third attempt to get me a book with the secret symbols of the Rosicrucians and this time I got it right! Of course Kessinger Legacy Reprints had the title. The A4 size book is about 60 pages thick and contains the secret symbols “with several figures of similar content added by P.S.” There are of course the wonderfull, famous and elaborate images, but also a couple of very long texts in a tiny font-size. Everything is translated to English and I suppose the translation, because the printer had obvious diffulties with placing the texts everywhere and quite often the texts had to be written by hand in order to get them in the right spot. I still hope to find a printing with better quality, but almost everything is readable, sometimes with some effort though. The images are so weird that you can keep pondering about them, especially because the R.C. used quite a lot of abreviations, some obvious, some totally unclear to me. A nice reprint if you are looking for the same thing.
1785 in German, years of English translations and Kessinger reprints unknown, isbn 9781162575193

The Secret Doctrine Of The Rosicrucians * Magus Incognito

This is the second book that I bought thinking that it contained the secret symbols of the Rosicrucians and I failed again… I know these secret symbols are available online, I just want a book with the drawings properly printed. The Parchment Books printing that I got of the unknown master’s text does not say when the book was written. The credits refer to the British Library which suggests it to be an old book. When reading it, the book gets younger and younger! The books opens with the author giving some history of the Rosicrucians and claiming that he is finally allowed to publish some of the secret doctrines of the Rosicrucians. He presents seven aphorisms that are explained in different chapters. The book starts with interesting metaphysics about “the eternal parent”, “the soul of the world”, “the universal androgyne”, etc. and this first part is actually quite interesting. Then I started to notice how the author uses the terms “occultism” and “occultist” in a way that certainly would not place the book in, or shortly after, the time of the original Rosicrucians. Then he starts to make references to philosophers, authors and then scientists. Halfway the book the author starts to laud modern science and the way it proves ancient esotericism. This already puts the book in the nineteenth century and makes it a lot less interesting. The worst is yet to come though. Towards the end things get very Theosophical, in the Blavatsky-way. A chain of planets, rounds, root-races and races, metempsychosis, “the soul’s progress” and a Leadbeaterian story about the aura makes “Magus Incognito” very likely a member of some frinch-group of the early days of Theosophism, somewhere around 1900. The second half of the book is downright annoying.
2010 Aziloth Books, isbn 9781907523755

De Rozenkruisers In Nederland * Govert Snoek (1997)

This impressive book has a complete title which goes (translated) “The Rosicrucians in the Netherlands, particularly in the first half of the 17th century, an inventarisation”. It is written in Dutch, but has a summery in French. The book was initiatlly written as a master’s thesis in 1989 (in the same year Peter Huijs wrote his at another university, both have published books through the publishing house of the contemporary Rosicrucian organisation Lectorium Rosicrucianum) studying history. Later the thesis was expanded for a PHD thesis in theology (1998). Actually, the book is more the work of an archivarist. Snoek ploughed through a gigantic amount of works (his bibliography is 100 pages!), but not just primary and secondary works, he tried to find each and every reference to the Rosicrucians in the Netherlands in the 17th century. Therefor he read a great number of writings of many many religious apostates (and there were many of them), but also he studied auction lists to see who possessed Rosicrucian books. You will read about the Family of Love (actually the House of Love), David Joris, Hiël, chiliasts, (ana)baptists and whatever there was in those days. People who spend time in the Netherlands or had contacts here bring famous names as Tycho Brahe, John Dee, Jacob Böhme, Thomas à Kempis and many more. Within our own country almost anybody who made some name seems to have has some kind of interest in the Rosicrucians, scientists (Cornelis Drebbel), painters (Pieter Paul Rubens), poets (P.C. Hooft) everybody gets a background investigation. Interesting webs are uncovered, unexpected links made and ‘maybe’s of earlier investigators are proved or disproved. Yes, the book is almost purely historical, factual and purely informative, but interesting. Snoek mostly manages to present his dry information well enough and here and there says a few things about the ideas of the people discussed which makes things even more interesting. Yes, finally I found a book that looks into all the links and contacts of this highly interesting. Old acquintances and people I had never heard of, Snoek has it all.
1997 Rozekruis Pers, isbn 9067323241

The Secret Teachings Of All Ages * Manly Palmer Hall (1928)

When this 700-page book was published, the author (1901-1990) was only 28 years old. He decided to write this book in his early 20’ies and began to read the required literature. The bibliography is staggering, but Hall certainly had a few favourite sources. The book is presented as “A masterfull summation of the esoteric teachings of all ages” and “a classic in the world’s literature”. To be frank: however the work is impressive in size, it is not very much so in depth. Hall soon proves himself to lean heavily towards Theosophism and come across somewhat gullible. Also it is quite obvious that he was scholar and not an esotericist. What Hall mainly does is study a subject and pour all the information into a synopsis. He does that well, but in most cases things remain quite on the surface giving more information about the history of cults and religions than insight in their esotericisms. This is not to say that Hall does not present some thought-provoking interpretations of symbols and teachings. I especially like his chapters abour Rosicrucianity (in fact, when I bought this book I expected it to be about the secret symbols…). What bugs me is that the author makes some eyecatching mistakes, sometimes (I think) because of ignorance, sometimes of sloppiness and that makes me wonder about the parts that I do not know everything of by heart. In any case, the book is an alright read, but do not believe the raving reviews or expect a compendium of esoteric knowledge. Mind too, there are different versions, apparently not all as good as the other. Some have bad images reviewers on Amazon say. The version that I bought does not have very good images I can say.
1928 / 2003 Tarcher/Penguin, isbm 9781585422500

Paracelsus symposion booklet (isbn isbn 9067322660)

Another coverage of a Lectorium Rosicrucianum “symposion”, this time about Theophrastus Bombastus of Hohenheim. A nice article about his life and another few articles telling about the ideas and medicine of Paracelsus. A nice little piece of information again and now also with discount.

symposion booklet Karl von Eckartshausen: Hoe De Reden Ons God Verklaart (2006 * isbn 9067323276)

I don’t go to every quarterly ‘symposion’ of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum, but when I heard that there was one about the German occultist Karl von Eckartshausen (1752-1803), I again went to one of these pleasent days. After about half a year, you always get a booklet with the texts of the lectures and some extras. Rozekruis Pers, the publishing brand of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum has published a few Dutch translations of Eckartshausen texts. Some of them are reviewed elsewhere. For more information about the man, I want to refer to these reviews. At the symposion there were lectures by Eckartshausen and his time, his teachings and how he fits in the larger picture of Western esotericism. As always the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica took care of a nice display of genuine books by Eckarthausen and contemporaries and information screens. The (accompanying) texts of both can be found in the nice booklet too.
The design of the symposion-series has changed with this publication, but the content remains the same: informative, easy to read and about interesting persons from the past; also many images you will find in the booklet. The price is always nice too: E 11,-. Other symposion booklets are reviewed too.

De Alkmaarder Cornelis Drebbel (2005)

In 2004 the Dutch city of Alkmaar celebrated its 750th year of existence. The organisation asked the Rosicrucian society ‘Lectorium Rosicrucianum’ to organise a symposion about the famous Alkmarian inventor Cornelis Drebbel (1572-1633). There was more about Drebbel than science. He was asked to join the court of the Hermetic emperor Rudolf II of Prague, he has Rosicrucian friends and his famous booklet about his Perpetuum Mobili (on the cover of this booklet) was followed by the first Dutch translation of the Corpus Hermeticum.

So on 19 september 2004 we drove to the Alkmaar library to attend this interesting symposium (or ‘symposion’ in Lectorian words). There were two lectures and afterwards the audience was asked if it was interested in the texts of these lecture. Of course we were! So after almost a year it proves that the Lectorium Rosicrucianum decided to make a complete symposion-bundle like they do with their own symposions. Because there were only two lectures (Lectorium symposions take a whole day, this Drebbel symposion only a few hours), not only a Drebbel chronology was added, but also a fascimile printing of the famous text about the Perpetuum Mobile with the first Dutch translation of the Corpus Hermeticum!! This not only makes this bundle the thickest thusfar (128 pages), but I also got myself another translation of the Corpus! Much recommended!
2005 Lectorium Rosicrucianum, isbn 9067323160

symposionreeks Bruno “een komeet raasde over Europa” (isbn 9067322679)

This little booklet is from the ‘symposion-series’ of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum. This is a very gnostic Rosicrucian movement that was founded in the Netherlands in the previous century, but has grown very international over the years. Very often there are symposia for members and since a short time, also for non-members. Every now and then there is a big symposion. The texts of the readers on the big symposia are always released in very nice-looking small booklets. So far we had Spinoza, Ficino (see elsewhere), Jacob Boehme, Paracelcus, Terug Naar De Bron (Back To The Source) and this one.

There are six articles in this 70 page booklet. Not exclusively on Bruno and naturally with a very Rosicrucian touch, but especially the article of Peter Huijs (of who I reviewed a book as well) is a very nice introduction in the person and the teachings of this late-Renaissance heretic. Get in touch with the Lectorium to get it, for E 11,- and p+p it is yours.