Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Antiquity of Our Teachings


By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest February 1936]
FIRST of all, I want to say that I am not going to touch upon at this time the origin of the Rosicrucian Order as a physical organization. That subject is one with which the most eminent historians and writers have dealt at great length without complete agreement. We have stated in our literature and elsewhere that our organization, like many others, has both a traditional history and a factual history. The traditional history traces the origin of the spirit of Rosicrucianism as a school or system of thought to the mystery schools of Egypt. It traces the Rosicrucian doctrines, not as man-made dogmas but as fundamental principles of human experience, to the secret teachings of the various mystery schools of the Near and Far East in ancient times, and which gradually blended their teachings into one established system of study. When the traditions and fundamental principles were definitely or gradually brought into conformation with certain ideals and certain doctrinal principles, it is difficult to state, because of the absence of any printed records of the earliest days, and because in the passage of time the traditional history which had passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth had become colored with symbolism and allegory. But there was a time when the factual history was carefully noted and preserved, and which we find recorded in various books, manuscripts, and records cut in stone and wood, or engraved in metals, or inscribed in symbols upon various forms of matter. Certain it is that there are books and manuscripts available today which plainly reveal the spiritual foundation of the organization existing prior to the 12th century, and the material form of it definitely in existence and recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Other organizations of a fraternal, secret, or mystical nature, have traditional histories also, such as that which traces its origin to the minute details of the building of King Solomon's Temple. Such traditional histories are not susceptible of precise proof and concrete recording except in allegories and symbolism. Nor is it necessary for such traditional history to be proved in order to benefit from the spirit of the work as associated with such traditions. Many of the modern fraternal organizations of a secret nature who trace their traditional history far into antiquity cannot prove any details of their factual history beyond the 15th or 16th centuries, and some of them frankly admit that so far as recorded facts are concerned that are definitely related to the traditions, they cannot trace them further than the 17th or 18th centuries.
The statements on the part of some writers and encyclopedias, and especially the statements of some present day critics who are not familiar with even a fraction of the facts, attempt to say that the antiquity of Rosicrucianism is wholly mythical and that even its existence as a concrete organization at any period of time prior to the past century is unproved and questionable. Even a few of those persons who look upon themselves as Rosicrucian writers have fallen into the error of accepting the encyclopedic mistakes and have stated in their literature that the Rosicrucian Order had its first world-wide inception and birth with an individual who called himself Christian Rosenkreuz, and who created the Rosicrucian organization some time between the years 1604 and 1616, in Germany. Such persons, of course, have never seen or read scores of books that tell a different story, nor have they ever had in their hands for careful study or even casual examination genuine Rosicrucian publications printed prior to the year 1604, and which show that even at that time the organization of Rosicrucians had a very wide existence with established principles and doctrines, and rules and regulations. They are even ignorant of the fact that the name Christian Rosenkreuz was not the true name of the individual nor the symbolical name of any one person, but simply the symbolical name of various persons at various times in the past to whose lot had fallen the right and the authority to issue official manifestoes or decrees in the name of the Order. For this reason, we find references to a Christian Rosenkreuz in Germany in the years 1604 to 1616, and again some time in the 15th century, and again in the 14th century, and earlier, and there are persons living today in foreign lands who have had in the past, and one who now has the right to issue formal manifestoes in the symbolical name of Christian Rosenkreuz. And it does not always mean that the one who uses the name in this manner is necessarily a reincarnation of the person who formerly used that name.
This peculiar fact is not unique to the Rosicrucian organization. In the Martinist Order, which has existed for some centuries, the highest secret chief in each period of time has the right to use the symbolical name which has been used by his predecessors. In other fraternal organizations there are certain characters representing the symbolical leader, founder, or idealized character, who bear his symbolical name, and each successful high potentate of the organization in each part of the world uses that same symbolical name. In a study of the ancient mysteries, we find very often that over a period of many centuries parts of the rituals were performed and the candidates initiated "in the name of----------" wherein the name of a great character was used as though he were living at that very time.
During all of the periods of activity of the organization, certain rare books were prepared and issued, as well as certain manuscripts were prepared on parchment or other durable material in cipher or code or mystical language, and these were hidden in the archives of the order to be revealed at certain times, and to pass on to various new branches or new revivals of the Order in order that the fundamental teachings and principles of the organization might be preserved to all posterity, and a uniformity of teaching and practice maintained. Those critics of the organization who contend that this is not so, are absolutely ignorant of the facts, and by their ignorance reveal that they have never had the qualifications which would have enabled them to know the real facts. Prior to the time that Francis Bacon invented several special ciphers and secret codes, most of the early manuscripts of Rosicrucianism were prepared in mystical language and in symbols or hieroglyphic marks that had to be interpreted in various ways. Realizing the danger of mistranslation, Bacon deliberately invented several secret ciphers and had these published in book form in several books, any one of which did not give the complete cipher or complete instructions for its use. One of these appeared to be only a treatise on the value of ciphers and their importance, while other books contained samples of such ciphers, and still others contained certain codes separated from any text or explanation. Some of these publications printed in London and other parts of Europe in Latin and English and bearing early 17th century dates, are here in our possession and in the secret archives of our Headquarters. Their validity, authenticity, and true nature are authenticated by some of Europe's principal librarians, or chiefs of secret libraries, and antiquarians who have made a special study of ciphers and codes and know what these special books of Bacon's were intended to be. Sometimes parts of the Baconian code system were incorporated in the final chapters of a book dealing with an entirely different matter so that if the book were found in a library or indexed anywhere, it would not be considered or recognized as a part of the Baconian code system. We have also one of these books in our archives. As for the teachings of the Order, themselves, these, too, were often preserved in book form on parchment paper or other water-marked paper in very limited editions called Libers 1, 2, 3, etc., or Libers M, F, G, etc., or Libers 7-7-7, 3-3-3, 81, etc. (The term Liber 777 was one of the most ancient of terms used for books that contained a complete or perfect representation of some of the principles of the Order. Since the triangle or the number 3 represented perfect creation and the number 7 represented the triangle on the square, or in other words, the completion of a structure, the use of 7 three times or as 7, 7, 7, or 7-7-7, represented a perfect and complete presentation of a subject, and for this reason certain books that outlined a complete thought on any one of the Rosicrucian principles or a complete doctrine, or a complete manifesto, or a complete system of practice of any one of its special principles, was called Liber 7-7-7, or Book 7-7-7. That is the reason why we use this symbolical number for the title of the book that gives a complete presentation of our department called "The Cathedral of the Soul.")
Take, for instance, the work of our Sixth Degree, dealing with a study of the psychic and mystical nature of our human existence, and our body, and all the vital forces that animate it, the cause of disease and the possible correction of these causes through mystical and Cosmic help. This Sixth Degree of our study contains matter that has never been published in any metaphysical or occult book or set of books, and contains matter that is wholly unique with the Rosicrucian system of instruction. It deals principally, as most of our members know, with the psychic side of our human bodies, and of the psychic centers and psychic nervous system along with the mystical anatomy of the body.
Now as I prepare this article for The Rosicrucian Digest, I have before me for reference one of the oldest Rosicrucian books, issued in the very early part of the 17th century and printed upon a marvelous quality of handmade paper that is water-marked with the Rosicrucian marks. It contains the symbols of the Rosicrucians, and especially the authority of the Militia of the organization, and the name and portrait of one of the best known and universal acknowledged Rosicrucian leaders. It deals with the principles of the work of our Sixth Degree, and is beautifully illustrated, especially to reveal the psychic and metaphysical side of our bodies and explains its relationship to Cosmic principles, the influence of music with the musical notes and nerve notes such as our lectures now contain, and all the other fundamentals upon which our Sixth Degree work is based. It is doubtful if there is another copy of this book anywhere in America, and it is certain that these so-called critics of Rosicrucian literature and history have never seen this book and know nothing about it. Yet its authenticity is certified to by archivists and librarians abroad, and it is further listed in the bibliographies of some of the oldest archives and libraries of Europe, and is the foundation for many of the exercises and principles contained in our present work, especially in connection with Nous and the use of the breath in breathing exercises, and the radiations of the human aura in other experiments.
All of our teachings in the AMORC today are based upon authentic writings contained in the true Rosicrucian publications and manuscripts of the past. These fundamental principles have never been changed in our lessons and lectures since they were first given to me in the years between 1909 and 1916, or in special manuscripts since then. It is true that from time to time we have augmented our lessons in the form in which we present them by the addition of new matter that has come to us in Rosicrucian books and manuscripts, and in any matter sent to us by foreign branches of our organization where experiments, tests, and demonstrations have been made for the purpose of keeping our teachings abreast of the times, and by new matter contributed by our own American national board of research and editorial work, composed of men and women engaged in special research in all of the sciences, arts, and practices of the modern times.
There are certain landmarks, as they are called, connected with genuine Rosicrucianism by which the true Order and the true teachings can be instantly recognized by those who are familiar with them, or by those who have made any special study of the history and work of the Rosicrucian organization. These landmarks are not only the few true symbols of the organization, but certain Latin or symbolical terms that are used in connection with the names of certain officers with certain grades of the work and certain phases of the practices, and by certain emblems, certain formulas, certain notations, phrases, proverbs, and doctrinal statements that are in a definite manner of speech or wording, and which are different from those used in any other organization. And there are certain words and phrases that contain codes or veiled ideas that are not recognized by the casual readers, or understood by the uninitiated. By these things antiquarians who have studied the history of the Order, or those who have ever been initiated into the Order, or reached certain high grades of the Order, easily recognize the genuine organization from any pretentions.
Furthermore, there is a certain circle of Rosicrucian students throughout the world which has reached the highest grades and which constitutes the Hierarchy of the Order, the spiritual council, and which acts as advisers and conservators. These persons are never known to the public, but are known to a wide number of advanced students and members, and their manner of working and participating in the activities of the organization is well-known in various lands. Above and beyond this hierarchy are the Supreme Officers throughout the world who are united in a secret circle with a chosen and elected secret chief whose real name is never revealed outside of that secret circle, and whose decrees and manifestoes are acknowledged and acted upon. In this wise the pureness of Rosicrucian teachings is maintained, the genuine manuscripts and books are released from time to time through the proper secret channels, and the authenticity of the Order and its integrity are preserved. There are members in America who are part of this hierarchy and who are convinced beyond any question of doubt and from actual experience and knowledge regarding the genuineness and authenticity of the teachings and work of our organization, and the branches of the Rosicrucian Order in other lands wherever they have contacted them. They know the genuine from the false, and they, like the members of the Militia, are pledged to preserve the integrity of the Order, not the person of its chief officers, and in all ages have seen to it that the work of the Order goes on and on regardless of the trials and tribulations of the physical part of the organization.
In the past centuries there has never been a lapse of years when the hierarchy of the Order has not been active, when the Supreme Officers in various jurisdictions have not maintained a constant contact with the hierarchy and have kept alive the spirit of the work and protected its archives and secret possessions, even when the Order in certain countries was in periods of public inactivity.
All of these facts can be proved by books, manuscripts, and rare records not generally known to the public, but available to those who would have the proper authority and proper purpose in examining them.

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