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