I would like to open a discussion regarding the concept of an Adept and its required preparation in an esoteric school settings like the Rosicrucian orders, not only AMORC but other Rosicrucian schools or orders as well.
Presentation Part One
The Journey as Allegory
“[God] hath raised men indued [imbued] with great Wisdom who might properly renew and reduce all Arts (in this our Age spotted and imperfect to perfection; so that finally Man might understand his own Nobleness and Worth, and why he is called Microcosmos and how far his Knowledge extendeth into Nature. ” (Fama Fraternitatis)
The visible universe is divided into two parts: the macrocosm, representing the outer world or large scale structure of the universe, and the microcosm, corresponding to the human body as a living, conscious being. Our bodies are composed of atoms that vibrate constantly under the effect of spirit energy, as taught in the monographs. This energy is distributed throughout the whole universe in the form of vibrations made up of electrons, protons and neutrons, which are the fundamental particles of atoms. We are, however, more than just a physical body; we are animated by the Vital Life Force.
To achieve a realisation of consciousness we are provided with a particular attribute, the soul personality. As the monographs state: “the soul personality corresponds to the personal expression that each individual gives to his or her soul nature. In other words, it is a faithful reflection of the moral and spiritual qualities that we have developed under the guidance of the Cosmic. ” It is our soul personality, rather than our soul, that memorises all our experiences and evolves over many incarnations in the material world. But this degree of difference is very subtle; nevertheless these two souls interpenetrate on the vibratory plane to form a harmonious unity. Here is a diagram from the monographs that illustrates the concept… The soul personality is not essentially different from the soul and disagrees only in respect of its imperfection.
Spiritual alchemy or personal transformation of the inner self is at the heart of the Fama Fraternitatis and is the essential message of the allegory.
Synopsis of the Narrative
The symbolic death of Brother PAL at Cyprus represents an inner transformation within Christian Rosencreutz, awakening the feminine aspect that is Venus. This is a crucial event in the narrative without which furthermore spiritual progress would nor occur.
Brother PAL Male aspect TRANSITION
The House of the Holy Spirit is re-established and represented in the narrative as a wheeled castle. Although this is not a physical entity it is “in plain sight” and to be found inwardly.
Studying and Using the Journey Narrative
The Rosicrucian Vault
“We also hope that this our example will stir up others more diligently to enquire after their names and to search for the place of their burial... so perhaps our Gaza [treasure] be enlarged. ” (Fama Fraternitatis, 1614)
Symbolism of the Nail
Symbolism of the Door with the Nail
The symbols of the nail and the door in the narrative are intimately linked at a crucial point in the initiate's progress...
The Opening of the Rosicrucian Vault
The Upper Part or Ceiling
Apart from the Hebrew mother letters of Aleph, Mem and Shin in the central rose the three points of the triangle can assigned to other correspondences such as God, Cosmic and Man from the hermetic writings and Mercury, Sulphur and Salt from an alchemical perspective. In Rosicrucian terms we can assign Ether, Nous and Universal Soul. Whatever terminology is used this trinity corresponds to the Thought, Word and Action of God. The radiating triangles suggest a visual representation of this outward flow of manifestation. Although difficult to see in this diagram the small rose at the absolute centre of the hermetic rose reinforces the general Rosicrucian ontology portrayed as indicated.
The inclusion of the astrological and Kabalistic correspondences reinforce the cosmic and heavenly nature of the Vault ceiling. In the outward pointing triangles are placed the spheres of emanation next to their corresponding astrological sign. So, for example, Binah is associated with Saturn, Chesed with Jupiter and so on. This geometrical configuration on the ceiling also allows the placing of the traditional planetary angelic associations; the case for placing these attributes lies in their opposition to the so called “Inferior Governers” that are mentioned in the Fama. T ogether they form the inherent positive and negative qualities that exist between the upper and lower part of the Vault. As above, so below...
A dramatic effect is produced if we imagine the ceiling heptagram in a spectrum of colours placed according to the planetary correspondences and simultaneously aligning with the colours of the Kabalistic spheres. This multi-coloured aspect represents the Peacock stage in the alchemical process.
Vault Colours and the Alchemical Process
Assigning the colour of the seven walls to white does not prevent us from following a traditional colouring scheme on the basis of the planets associated with each side. This does, however, put a strain on the ability of the imagination to retain the mental picture.
Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC
There is an added benefit from this arrangement; looking up to the ceiling we have displayed before us a veritable mandala of flashing colours depicting the cosmic realm that can be used for meditative work. Just to illustrate this aspect, if we were to direct our attention to the image of the ceiling displayed whilst staring intently at the central point of the rose we can easily imagine moving upward through the centre of the hexagram directly towards this central point. And as we do this almost immediately we can see that the interplay of light has a very dramatic effect on our senses. The colours seem to shift into and through each other mimicking the effect of the alchemical fire.
The Middle Part or Walls
The first diagram appears in Manly Hall's Secret Teachings of All Ages which divides each side into nine squares instead of ten, superimposing a triangle on top of the central square which is likely to represent Tiphareth in the centre of the Kabalistic Tree. This downward pointing triangle, one imagines, is the elemental sign for water and we could make a case for the Feminine being given preference which would fall in with the Venus symbolism that carries throughout the narrative. Of the planets Venus embraces all of the Kabalistic spheres of emanation or Sephiroth as they are termed. The door, the symbolism of which we have already discussed, being placed beneath this configuration supports the Venus connection too.
The second diagram shows the Golden Dawn model of Samuel MacGregor Mathers, multiplying the breadth and height of each side (5 x 8) to produce 40 squares on each. Ten of these incorporate the Kabalistic Tree of Life seen here in the formation of the Hebrew letters. The remaining 30 squares are engraved with astrological and alchemical figures placed according to Golden Dawn symbolism. There is no lower door in this design. This involves quite a lot of intelligent speculation based on sound symbolic principles and it does tie in with the reference in the narrative to figures being superimposed on the squares.
The third diagram, from Adam McLean, gives us a good interpretation if one wants to remain as much as one can within the descriptive text of the narrative. It incorporates the element of sexual polarity by placing the squares in two columns of five; and it also places a door beneath these in keeping with the text. This arrangement also resonates with the details of the Vault we have been discussing so far, in that we have the duality of self in the two columns and the added dimension of the symbolism of Venus in the door.
The fourth diagram is from that devised by Robert Fludd in his Ars Memoriae, the “Art of Memory” of 1612. Given its contemporary provenance (the same year as the publication of the Fama) and the fact that the squares are pretty well lined up spatially according to the Tree of Life in Kabala this is the one that is perhaps most acceptable. Also it preserves the element of polarity that we saw in the last diagram.
In one chest they find “looking glasses of divers virtues”; these were likely to have been items that ranged from scrying mirrors through to magnifying lenses and simple telescopes, all of which point to work concerning the natural philosophy of the time and the means by which they might come to knowledge of the world in its different aspects. From a mystical perspective, however, these kinds of glasses represent self reflection and perhaps introspection by the physical outer self and the inner more spiritual being.
In other chests the Brothers find bells, burning lamps and “wonderful artificial songs”. Here are definite references to the esoteric practices of the Fraternity; the bells mentioned have an esoteric interpretation if we consider their use in ritual but also their sound effect upon the aural senses, with the ability to stimulate different aspects of awareness in the initiate through the psychic centres and so forth. The burning lamps suggest the idea of light and the everlasting search for the unknown, but we might also interpret them as representing the soul personalities of past Brothers of the Fraternity, ever alight in their spiritual quest. The reference to “wonderful artificial songs” is rather obscure but one might hazard a guess that these are referring to vowel sounds, perhaps in certain tonal sequences.
“Every side or wall had a door for a chest, wherein there lay diverse things, especially all our books, which otherwise we had, besides the Vocabular of Theoph: Par. Ho. and these which daily unfalsifieth we do participate.” (Fama Fraternitatis, 1614)
The Lower Part or Floor
The altar plate pictured here, an early 17th century depiction, is a rather elaborate reconstruction put together with knowledge of contemporary symbolism. One assumes that the corners fold down onto the side of the altar leaving the round part uppermost. At first glance there seems to be something wrong in the placing of the east and west cardinal points where Oriens or East is on the left side and Occidens or West is on the right. Then you suddenly realise that you are looking at the figure in reverse as in a mirror and in the same manner as that of the Kabalistic T ree of Life when viewed from outside of it. There is only one reason for portraying the figure thus and that is because it is meant to represent the observer; in other words, ourselves. By the same token it must also represent Christian Rosenkreutz.
“They four had the face of a man and the face of a lion on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side: they four also had the face of an eagle.. ” (Ezekiel 1:10)
The Altar Plate in Modern Terms
The altar plate inscribed in English; the correspondences are aligned with those listed above.
The depiction of the Rosicrucian initiate on the right is taken from the Secret Symbols.
Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC
A three dimensional representation of the altar plate.
Altar Plate SymbolismViewing the altar plate diagrammatically allows us to reflect upon the various cycles and phases of our Rosicrucian path. It should be borne in mind that the diagram portrays the continuous cyclic nature of the path of life and death. There are two progressive paths indicated by the green and blue arrows: The first is circular and moves clockwise through the phases of our physical life, from our entry (symbolised by our entry into the Vault) to infancy, youth, maturity and back to old age. Accompanying these four phases are corresponding elements marked in red and blue. So as we go through the cycle of the physical, the emotional, the intellectual and the spiritual self… we identify these with the four phases of consciousness: the objective, subconscious, subjective and cosmic consciousness. From a diagrammatic perspective there are direct relationships depicted here too. Notice that the physical self is harmoniously opposite the intellectual and the emotional is opposite the spiritual. By the same token we can observe that the objective consciousness is opposite that of the subjective and the subconscious opposite that of cosmic consciousness.Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC
Christ ConsciousnessHere is the altar plate retaining the Latin inscriptions… Around the rim are the words Jesus mihi omnia or “Jesus is my all.” This seems a very Christian-like statement here but it is in keeping with the cultural and religious setting of the time. You will see many references to Jesus in the Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians which demonstrate this. The Brothers of the Fraternity were Christians as such, and devoutly so; and the author of the Fama, presumably Johann Valentin Andreae, was a Lutheran minister. We must be mindful that the Fama Fraternitatis was meant for public consumption and given that life revolved around a religious milieu encroaching upon everyday lives and activities it would have been rather strange, dangerous even, to have published anything of this nature without a Christian dimension in the writing.Having said that the figure of Jesus does generally pervade the message of the Manifestos and perhaps we should briefly address this issue here in terms of our Rosicrucian path. It must be understood that it is the universal Christ Consciousness we are dealing with and which was experienced through mysticism before the time of Jesus. Jesus was the most recent and greatest avatar of Christ Consciousness. This particular mystical state dwells within us all with varying degree; we are each at different levels of Christ Consciousness and Jesus had attained the highest degree of this mystical development. In this light it is quite telling that the author of the Fama chose the first name “Christian” for his archetypal figure.Consider also the association of the elements or principles to the stages outlined at the perimeter; Earth naturally corresponds to the physical and the watery principle to the emotional fluid self. The air element aligns with the more rigid intellectual self while the fiery principle is associated with the spiritual self. The second path follows a zigzag route from the physical self through the intellectual and emotional to the spiritual self. This is our path of initiation which is also supported by the successive phases of consciousness i.e. the objective, subjective, subconscious and ultimately cosmic consciousness.The altar is so orientated that our entry to the vault is at a particular point which is indicated on the diagram. This entrance marries up to the paths we have just outlined, reinforcing the function of the chamber as a focus for our entire existence justifying its basis as a “Compendium of the Universe.” From what has been discussed we can see that the altar plate itself is a useful object or symbol for the purposes of reflection and meditation on our esoteric nature and its relationship to the archetypal concept of the Vault.Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORCA three dimensional representation of the altar plate with Latin inscriptions.
The Floor GeometryAfter giving their description of the altar the Brothers refer to the “seventh side” and the two “Heptagoni” … where it says “This is all clear and bright, as also the seventh side and the two Heptagoni…”Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORCThe two Heptagoni: one above and one below, with the seventh side indicated.This is telling because it firstly supports the planetary correspondences already discussed; for example, the seventh side, actually on the right of Venus as you enter, is associated with the Sun indicated by the arrow, “all clear and bright.” But secondly we are informed that there is a similar geometrical configuration on the floor as the one we constructed for the ceiling, as you can see. So we have our two “heptagoni, ” one above and one below. It should be noted that the planetary correspondences carry on from the ceiling to the floor…At this point the author refers to a so called “ungodly” element in the invisible form of “inferior Governors” existing in the floor section of the Vault. These are the destructive forces of our inner self, all that belongs in the physical world and which are in opposition to those traditional angelic associations in the upper part mentioned earlier. This aspect of opposition in the Vault is an illustration of our Rosicrucian path which involves moving through the three main alchemical stages. This is our work of spiritual alchemy, transforming and refining our soul personality.Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORCThe image of the victorious rose cross, the ultimate symbol of spiritual attainment, from the Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians. At its centre is a cross surrounded by a heart, the traditional symbol of love. Surrounding the heart and cross is the mystical rose itself representing the soul personality; no longer depicted at the centre of the cross but shown enveloping the whole, symbolising the victory over the material part of our existence. In Cr u c e R o s e a Me a Victoria: In the Rose Cross I am Victorious.
The Unveiling of Christian RosenkreutzThe Brothers move the round altar to reveal a plate of brass beneath; we are given nothing else regarding this feature but this metal continues to reflect the presence of Venus and with it the meaningful message of esoteric awakening and renewal. It would be fitting, however, to place upon this brass plate the image of the victorious rose cross (illustrated opposite) from the Secret Symbols because underneath lies the body of Christian Rosenkreutz; “a fair and worthy body, whole and unconsumed, ” we are told. From an allegorical perspective this informs us of the perfect example of purity embodied in this exemplar of our Order.The plate opens before them up and folds over to reveal a bright light that mirrors that shining down from the domed ceiling. We can visualise the Brothers gazing at one who has completed his cycles of human activity and now exists as a spiritual impulse; an impulse that will feed the soul personalities of succeeding initiates on their spiritual quest. The enveloping of the cross by the rose in the symbol we have placed here reflects this mastery of life, the victory over the physical dross that binds most to the mundane world. Before the Brothers is the very essence of Rosicrucianism representing the whole body of the Rosicrucian Order and the ultimate alchemical and spiritual transformation of the Rosicrucian initiate.But something more is conveyed in this visual spectacle: it is the re-awakening of the inner self. In alignment with the very nature of the Rosicrucian Vault the encounter with the body of Christian Rosenkreutz unveils to the Rosicrucian initiate renewed spiritual insight. As one looks upon this perfect body a wave of emotion and unreserved love propels us forward on the path to the mastery of self. This is a key moment for us as we begin to understand what the Rosicrucian Vault means in relation to our own progress.As one looks upon this perfect body a wave of emotion and unreserved love propels us forward on the path to the mastery of self. This is a key moment for us as we begin to understand what the Rosicrucian Vault means in relation to our own progress.
The Book TThe Brothers now observe that he is holding in his hands a special object; the Book T. This book most obviously contains all the knowledge of the Rosicrucians and is revered next to the Bible by the Fraternity so we are told. Its contents, coupled with the perfect body of Christian Rosenkreutz, express knowledge and purity respectively. At the end of Book T, we are informed, is an elogium, the Latin word for an inscription. This is essentially an epitaph commemorating the life and work of Christian Rosenkreutz which is summed up in one long sentence in Latin.The esoteric scholar, Arthur Edward W aite, summarised its main points as illustrated on the opposite page. Following this inscription was written a list of the first eight Brothers and their particular skills, whether a painter, architect, Cabalist, mathematician, writer or some other talent; each contributed to the Order in their own fashion. After these names and marking the end of the Book T there is a sentence in Latin: Ex Deo nascimur, in jesu morimur, per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus (From God we are born, in Jesus we die, we live again through the Holy Spirit). Despite the apparent Christian overtones these words for us really highlight our relationship to the exemplar that is Christian Rosenkreutz and to the Rosicrucian Order, and does not mean the end but the beginning of the rest of our spiritual evolvement within the Rosicrucian égregore itself.Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC
AN EPITAPHTen Points Commemmorating the Life and Workof Christian Rosenkreutz
- That CRC came from a noble and illustrious family of Germany bearing that name;
- That on account of his subtle conceptions and untiring labours he became acquainted with Divine and human mysteries by way of revelation;
- That he collected a royal and imperial treasure in his journeys to Arabia and Africa;
- That the same was serviceable not only to his age but to posterity;
- That he desired to have heirs of the name, faithful and closely joined;
- That he fabricated a little world corresponding to the great one in its movements;
- That it was a compendium of things past, present and to come;
- That after living for more than a century he passed away at the call of the Holy Spirit and not by reason of disease, yielding his illuminated soul to its faithful Creator;
- That he was a beloved Father, a most kind Brother, a faithful Preceptor and an upright Friend; and
- That he is hidden here from his own for one hundred and twenty years.
After this there is some support for the allegorical nature of the Fama; I mean here the reference to the wish and desire of the Brothers. It states:“We also hope that this our example will stir up others more diligently to enquire after their names and to search for the place of their burial… so perhaps our Gaza [treasure] be enlarged…”This “example” we read of clearly indicates the wishes of the author; the narrative of the Fama is still instructional for us today, if we can read between the lines, and demonstrates to us the path of self discovery, albeit in contemporary terms. By searching inwardly we can take the life, journey and work of Christian Rosenkreutz as the supreme model for ourselves, especially when we read it in conjunction with his final initiation in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz where his true humility is demonstrated.
The Minutum MundumBefore the Brothers set all back as they had found, mention is made of the Minutum Mundum or “small world.” This is clearly a reference to the microcosm and it seems reasonably correct to assume that the “little altar” mentioned is a veiled term to mean the inner self of the initiate. Perhaps it is that element of Christ Consciousness that we discussed earlier that is embodied in the image of this small altar. W e can read a little more between the lines here where it says:“Concerning Minutum Mundum… we shall leave him undescribed, until we shall truly be answered upon this our true hearted Fanam…”None can know the ultimate nature of the Christ Consciousness or “State of the Rosy Cross, ” because until one reaches this pinnacle of attainment it is simply unknowable to us and to the Brothers of the Fraternity. At this point the presentation ends with a guide to visualising the Rosicrucian Vault.Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORCA coloured representation of the Rosicrucian Vault to assist in visualisation.
Practical Work with the Rosicrucian VaultPart Two of this presentation has tried to build up a working picture of the Rosicrucian Vault to enable us to engage more with its import and symbolism as encapsulated in the phrase “Compendium of the Universe.” Although the presentation has been divided into two parts this does not mean we can divorce the journey of Christian Rosenkreutz from the elevated image of the Vault since both are intimately connected in terms of the soul personality cycle. The narrative successfully joins the two in the dramatic scene of the discovery of the Rosicrucian Vault and the presentation dwelt at length on the symbolism and hidden meaning of this particular episode. W e have already been given ideas on how to make the journey of Christian Rosenkreutz useful on a practical level at the end of part one of this booklet. Engaging with the Rosicrucian Vault in our Rosicrucian practices takes a lot more thought but also a great deal more effort. The advantage is with the more advanced Rosicrucian students since they have greater experience with the technique of stilling the mind and using the esoteric tools of practice such as concentration, mental creation and visualisation plus imagination.Visualization combined with meditation is the best means of experiencing the Rosicrucian Vault at a profound level and the presentation took us through a practical example of this method. However, working with the symbolic archetype of the Vault is always going to be a unique and personal involvement for each of us, firstly from the amount of preparatory work we put into it but depending also on our level of attunement during our meditations. The first practical step is to read the latter part of the narrative again but not forgetting its connection with the earlier journey of Christian Rosenkreutz. Do this as many times as you need to be familiar with what is happening at this point. While doing so write down any thoughts and impressions that might come to you. Next read through part two of this booklet to reinforce the mental imagery that will be required during your visualisation of the Vault. The presentation and this booklet does not pretend to be definitive in providing the imagery for the Vault but it will be a good guide in your own unique work with it.Next you will want to study in particular the altar diagram on page 35 as this will give you a definite focus for your meditations within the Rosicrucian Vault. But it will also be profitable to combine this sudy with that of the journey diagram on page 12 since both of these chart the soul personality cycle. As a guide to the overall image of the Vault look at the illustrations on pages 37 and 43. Something else that may prove fruitful is to take some meaningful phrase from the text of the narrative and reflect and meditate on it. This can be done during your normal Rosicrucian work or from within the Vault itself. Finally, casting your mind back over the presentation will provide extra stimulus for the imagination and perhaps ideas for further work. Most importantly you will need to create your own visualisation experience and the presentation demonstrated what can be done here combined with uplifting and soul stirring music.
AfterwordThe presentation has shown how both the journey of Christian Rosenkreutz and the archetypal image of the Rosicrucian Vault forms a complete treatise, if you like, on the life cycle of the soul personality. Although the Fama Fraternitatis was written in the 17th century this presentation has also demonstrated in practical ways how meaningful the narrative still is to the sincere mystic. It is truly hoped that the presentation combined with this booklet has aroused renewed interest in the formative documents of the Rosicrucian Order that we know as the Rosicrucian Manifestos.
ReferencesWhile a good proportion of this presentation and booklet contain original and learning material, the following is a list of sources that were used and consulted (apart from AMORC monographs). They will also serve as recommended reading.
Part 1: The Journey as Allegory
- Dan Merkur, “Stages of Ascension in Hermetic Rebirth” at http://www.esoteric. msu.edu/Merkur.html
- F N Pryce (editor), Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of R:C: Kessenger reprint.
- Lyndy Abaham, A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
- Paul Foster Case, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order, W eiser 1989.
- Susannah Åkermann, Rose Cross Over the Baltic, Brill 1998.
- Tanya Luhrmann, “ An Interpretation of the Fama Fraternitatis” in A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, 1985 (ed. Adam McLean).
- Tobias Churton, The Golden Builders, W eiser 2005.
Part 2: The Rosicrucian Vault
- A E Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, Kessenger Reprint of first 1924 edition.
- Adam McLean, “ Animal Symbolism in the Alchemical T radition” at The Alchemy Web Site.
- Deidre Green Ph.D., “The Symbolism of the Rosicrucian Vault” in A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, 1985.
- Ian Rees, “The Rosicrucian Vault” in A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, (ed. Adam McLean) 1985.
- Paul Foster Case, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order, W eiser 1989.
- Rafal Prinke, “The Great W ork in the Theatre of the W orld” in A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, 1985.
- Rosicrucian Order AMORC, Supplementary Monographs, Numbers, Analytical Discussions, Lecture 14.
Diagrams and IllustrationsAll diagrams and illustrations in this booklet are original except for the following:
- Pages 19 and 20, adapted from Paul Foster Case, The T rue and Invisible Rosicrucian Order, Weiser 1989.
- Page 22 (first diagram), adapted from Ian Rees, “The Rosicrucian Vault” in A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, (ed. Adam McLean) 1985.
- Pages 26-27 and 31, Rafal Prinke, “The Great W ork in the Theatre of the W orld” in A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault, 1985.
- Page 32, “ AST02. Woodcut of Ezekiel's dvision from the Bear Bible, ” 16th century, from a hand coloured print by Adam McLean at The Alchemy Web Site.Credits: © Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORCRosicrucian Order AMORCGreenwood Gate, Blackhill, Crowborough. TN6 1XETel: +44 (0)1892 653197E-mail: email@example.com