Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Transition of Our Imperator

Ralph M. Lewis, F. R. C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest September 1939]
I WRITE not of the passing of a man, but of an epochal influence. There have been and will be men who, by their daring, their conquest, and intellectual achievements, so implant their personalities in the consciousness of their contemporaries that they will live forever in the minds of future men as beings remarkable for their deeds. The man of whom I write never revolutionized a field of science or hacked a path through a virgin jungle to reveal new lands, nor, perhaps, did he ever build a greater or more skillful device than could some of his fellow men; I instead record the transition of a humanitarian, H. Spencer Lewis, who found his happiness and success in molding the lives and minds of human beings.
His glory, the fame that he has justly earned, is not to be found in the material things which he has erected or established, for their brilliance must diminish with the passing of time. His distinction will be found instead in the incentive, the vision of life, and the grasp of living he instilled within the minds of the thousands he counselled. To his credit in the archives of time will be recorded no one amazing deed but ten thousand attainments not yet realized. Behind unmaterialized ideas in the minds of thousands, which at some later date will win acclaim, is the influence of the precepts he taught, loved, and lived. In the heart of each of these persons there will always exist a debt of gratitude to him for having shown them the way. His life will not be one to be looked back upon with remorse that it could not have continued longer, for one may, perhaps, but need to look at a neighbor to find living within that neighbor his principles and ideals, for he lives in the minds and personalities of all those he so sincerely taught the ways of life, and who devotedly practice what he believed with all his heart.
Whether it be a test every humanitarian must endure, or the result of a combination of circumstances their lives bring about, he, like his eminent Rosicrucian predecessors, was a most misunderstood man. If it was a gift he gave, he was accused of ingratiating himself. If by personal sacrifices he was brought face to face with sheer financial adversity, he was taunted with the cry, "If you are a master, of worldly goods you should have plenty." If he at times, in later life, sought to ease his cares by simple comforts and pleasures, such imprecations as "commercialism" were hurled at him, and insinuations that he was prostituting his trusts and talents. Whenever he revealed an honor, of the multitude he received from notables and institutions for his personal achievements, there were some who labelled him an exploiter, and if he refrained from mentioning them the challenge to prove his worthiness to hold his exalted office was flung at him.
Every advancement of the Rosicrucian Order of the North and South American jurisdiction, in the service it rendered to its membership and the facilities it afforded them and the advantages it made possible to them, was the result of his planning, his vision, and excellent executive ability. To have removed him from the Rosicrucian Order or to have had him retire in the early years of its re-establishment would have been like removing the foundation from some great edifice, for it rested upon his genius and brilliance. However, as the AMORC won recognition in this jurisdiction as an institution of culture, learning and humanitarian practice, as well as being known to have a sound material foundation, it inadvertently incited jealousy, rivalry, and hatred in certain individuals. This malice was directed mainly not toward AMORC but toward the principal personality upon whom its progress depended--in other words, our Imperator, H. Spencer Lewis. Perhaps few men in modern times have been subject to such conspiracies, intrigues, and deliberate attempts to malign their character, destroy their family reputation, ruin their life's work, and even harass them unto death if possible, as he had to endure. No highly melodramatic novel with all the embellishments a fertile imagination could conceive could approach the artifices and devices employed by these enemies of light to try and shatter him and his work. Literally tons upon tons of literature, even unto this hour, have been mailed and are being mailed and distributed to malign him, to accuse him of the vilest acts, but written so as just to avoid the penalties of the postal laws. Time and time again these enemies, these partners of darkness, have been challenged by him to open public debate wherein he personally and justly could defend himself against the charges, and repeatedly have they refused, resorting to excuse or ruse, always hoping to involve the character of the organization through him and to injure it beyond recovery.
Repeated attempts were made by these enemies to involve the organization, AMORC itself, with government departments. The very slogan of the enemies was and is "Stop AMORC." It was obviously their hope that launching government investigation after government investigation would result in adverse publicity, and that the constant litigation which they instituted would perhaps shake the faith of the membership of AMORC in the integrity of their Imperator. Always was the Imperator the principal target of their attack. From each ordeal of litigation in which his character, his activities, and the reputation of the organization were at stake, did he and AMORC rise victorious, for the charges were always groundless. Only the staff officers, personal friends, and local members residing near the Grand Lodge knew of these constant gruelling attacks and persecutions. His spirit and will were indomitable. Always from the Cosmic would come, when most needed, a surge of power that strengthened him, and even his adversaries admired the brilliance of his defense and his mastery in meeting every attack upon him. Not once during these years that he withstood their onslaughts has one of the accusations against him been proven in open court or any other place where he has had the opportunity of a just personal defense.
Always, in his defense, his main concern was the A. M. O. R. C. His devotion to the Rosy Cross was more than a love; it was a deep-seated passion. A slur at the Order would cause his face to blanch as though he had suffered a personal physical blow. Never has he deviated from the principles to which he adhered when first re-establishing the Order in this jurisdiction after having been given the trust and authority from abroad. A comparison of his recent writings with those of more than twenty years ago shows an exact parallelism so far as idealism, hope and faith are concerned. In nothing which he has established can there be found a marked departure from those precepts.
The essential requirement of a true humanitarian is unselfishness and a love of giving. For his unselfishness our Imperator was noted by all who knew him. Blessed with remarkable talents which manifested themselves early in his life, and with an excellent heritage, after finishing his schooling in New York City he devoted himself as a young man to scientific research in certain fields and the art profession. After a period of association with a large New York newspaper he entered the advertising world where he became a nationally prominent advertising counsellor for some of the largest corporations in the United States. He amassed at an early age a sizeable sum of money, but his main interest was mysticism and philosophy. After having in time made certain Rosicrucian contacts here and abroad, and after having been duly initiated and prepared and given the authority to establish the AMORC here, he partially withdrew from the commercial world and began, with no outside financial assistance, to utilize his personal funds for the furtherance of Rosicrucianism, against great odds. Eventually his private resources were gone. At that time he was devoting his entire time to AMORC and had no other income. The struggle was obviously severe.
Like other masters and teachers before him, he was subject to betrayal by those he trusted and suffered many great misfortunes and setbacks which would have broken the spirit of less strongly-willed or Cosmically inspired men. Having nothing further to give of a worldly nature, he began his greatest sacrifice--the giving of himself. For long hours during the day and far into the night, with the assistance of his loving wife, he labored. Holidays and Sundays were spent in research or in gruelling clerical routine work because no funds were available for the hiring of typists or assistants. Even the simple equipment often used to perform administrative tasks was acquired at a further personal sacrifice of resources needed not only for comforts but often for personal necessities. Few members then, and very few members now, know of this, for it has been but seldom mentioned. No one will know of the humiliation he had to endure at the hands of haughty persons when the executive offices and first AMORC temple were housed in very humble quarters. Instead of proffering him aid, they demanded a material sign of the worthiness of Rosicrucianism. That sign to them meant some thing of affluence, of gilt and ostentation. The scintillating wisdom which was pouring forth from his mind into the monographs--the result of his study of the Rosicrucian manuscripts received from abroad--was not venerated by them. Instead they sought a temple made of marble, onyx, and rare woods, as an assurance of the efficacy of Rosicrucianism. To the credit of many it must be said that they realized his task and supported him in his early labors and in his many hours of grief which most often he locked within himself.
I must not now fail to record that during that most trying period, no one accused him of commercialism, of diverting the resources of the Order to his personal use, nor was there then the concerted effort of conspirators to attempt to remove him from the Order, or to attempt to seize the AMORC itself, if that could have been possible. The reason is simple: AMORC's resources were few and its liabilities many, its assets of little value, its future a long tedious grind, the reward far distant. There was such a paucity of membership that it would have availed the groups and societies and individuals that now consider themselves rivals nothing at that time to attempt by devious means, as they now do without success, to win over members by misrepresentation.
In the years that followed, his personal home life was invaded by telegraphic and telephonic requests at almost every hour of the day and night for the assistance which he could give, and which members sought. He gave of his energy and strength in thousands of personal interviews during his life and in psychic and Cosmic contacts. All who knew him personally knew it was a habit for him to work into the early hours of the morning--aside from his regular duties--on some matter of scientific research, demonstrating the principles of the Order. The Color Organ, known as the Luxatone, and the Rosicrucian Planetarium which he conceived and constructed, are but two of many of these enterprises that required long hours at night for weeks. He personally decorated several of the temples of the Order in this jurisdiction, and designed the many buildings at Rosicrucian Park. Every cover of The Rosicrucian Digest and the publications before it are the result of his personal artistic talent. Some of his many paintings hang upon the walls of the buildings at Rosicrucian Park. He wrote many books which brought him international distinction, and for years he designed, planned and wrote the major literature issued by AMORC--which, incidentally, has been assiduously plagiarized and copied in design and wording without permission by many self-styled mystical organizations, some even presuming to bear the title Rosicrucian. His talent as an orator made him much in demand by societies and organizations as a prominent speaker, both here and in Europe. He always spoke without notes, and, with remarkable clarity, could sustain an address on a subject for two hours, or even longer if the occasion required, holding the intense interest of his audience, whether that audience be fifty or ten thousand.
He passed through transition at the comparatively young age of fifty-five years. That he could, with the knowledge of the laws of nature and the Cosmic principles he possessed, have preserved himself for many years is quite true. When he was warned by friends and close associates that he was jeopardizing his life by his labors, his reply was: "I know I am violating certain laws, and I will and must compensate for such violation; but I have a service to render, a duty to perform before I pass on, and I cannot fail. That is more important to me than my life." And so it has proved to be.
In his last will and testament and its supplement dated July 2, 1934, and July 4, 1934, respectively, he leaves to the membership of AMORC magnificent and inspiring thoughts. In this will and supplement he presaged his transition as coming comparatively soon. It is most fitting, therefore, that I quote below excerpts from this will and supplement so that every member can read and meditate upon them. I must add here that though he developed the AMORC of this jurisdiction into the movement and institution it now is, in the early years, as said before, he often received a slight salary, or none at all, because of the status of the resources of the organization, and later, when AMORC was able to compensate him, his remuneration was extremely nominal for the responsibilities his office entailed. His personal estate, therefore, from a monetary point of view, was exceedingly modest and proves once and for all the falsehood of the claims of those who declared otherwise.
(5) To my son, Ralph Lewis, Supreme Secretary of the AMORC of North America, I give and bequeath all my library of books here in my home at 1295 Naglee Ave., and all those belonging to me and having my book plate in them, and which books are at present on the research library shelves of the AMORC Inc., on Naglee Ave., to which organization I have loaned them; and I also give to my son Ralph M. Lewis my triangle, diamond Imperator's Rosicrucian ring which I have worn since 1918, to be worn by him as a sign that I transmit to him, in accordance with the ancient Rosicrucian traditions, my hierarchal authority as Imperator of the AMORC Rosicrucian Order for North America with the exclusive right to hold this high position; and to him I transmit also my shield and coat of arms as the Grand Cross in the Military Order of the Knights of the Temple, and any other transmissable honors and decorations possessed by me, with the understanding that the authority as Imperator, the ring, the Coat of Arms and other honors shall be transmitted by him (Ralph) to the next oldest male child of my blood at his transition, and by him to my Grandson James Harvey Whitcomb at his transition, and by him to the next oldest son or grandson of any of my children, continuously in line of succession.
(6) All the rest and residue of my property, both real and personal, I give, devise and bequeath to my wife Martha M. R. Lewis, after my funeral expenses and just debts are paid.
(7) I desire that my body shall be cremated in accordance with Rosicrucian laws providing for cremation within 7 (seven) days after transition, and desire a simple funeral service, using the Rosicrucian ritual, held in the Francis Bacon Auditorium if possible with such members of the AMORC present as may wish to express their joy at my advancement to Higher Degrees, and say farewell to this tired old body of mine. I ask that my ashes be deposited in the marked triangle space or beneath it, in the watered soil, in the center of the Amenhotep Shrine at Rosicrucian Park, San Jose, close to the place where are the ashes of my old friend Charlie Dean and many loyal Rosicrucians, with a bronze or other durable plate put in the cement floor to mark the spot to future generations of Rosicrucians.
(8) I direct also that the chest made by Frater Buffmyer from woods sent from all parts of the world by Rosicrucians, be kept by my son Ralph, preserving in it all the documents I have put in it from time to time, and that he add documents to it from time to time, and pass this chest on to each one to whom my Imperator's ring may pass, that each may put in it certain records, so that sometime this chest will be a valuable storehouse of records for future Rosicrucians. And a copy of this Will and Testament, written in non-fading ink on lasting paper shall be placed and kept in said chest for future possessors of the chest to read and preserve.
(9) Being of sound mind and excellent health, in this my fifty-second year, I nevertheless realize imminence of transition and have no fears of so-called "death" for I know without any doubt that I shall live again here on earth and again find joy in suffering and laboring for the magnificent trials and accomplishments of our beloved Rosicrucian principles. I shall be present to console and strengthen all of my beloved ones during the trying hours immediately after my transition and even unto the last minute of depositing my ashes in the earth. Then I shall depart for a while, but will ever contact my beloved ones in their hours of sorrow, and my loyal, advanced Fratres and Sorores of the Rosy Cross in their sublimest moments of Spiritual attunement.
(10) And, to all the Fratres and Sorores of the Illuminati and especially the Hierarchy Grade, I leave my love and appreciation for their loyalty and devotion. May they never have to suffer the tests I have had to bear to keep the faith and maintain the integrity of the AMORC. To them in the future I shall be known as ALDEN and my Hierarchal name will be SARALDEN sometime on earth again.
It is seven minutes of one o'clock Monday morning July 2nd. All have long since retired and I have just completed two hours of duties for others in my home sanctum after a day of preparation for the coming National Convention of Rosicrucians which has its beginning next Sunday eve., July 8th.
Believing it is my duty to straighten out my affairs, in the face of the few material changes in my personal property and holdings which have come so late in my life after having sacrificed them all in the past years to maintain the AMORC Rosicrucian Order, I have made this new Will and Testament without consulting anyone, not even an attorney, and will have my signature on this page witnessed by several disinterested persons.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, signature and seal this second day (2nd day) of July in the year 1934 A. D. at 2:05 A. M. in my home at 1295 Naglee Ave., San Jose.
Harvey Spencer Lewis  


F. R. C.
This is supplementary to the attached or accompanying last will and testament of mine. This is being written on Wednesday evening, July 4th, 1934, a few days after the writing of the will. This glorious holiday--the anniversary of our national freedom--freedom from all forms of despotism, intolerance and unjust persecution--has been spent in strenuous mental and physical efforts, starting with contests at 8 o'clock last night and lasting to an early hour this morning and beginning again at breakfast time, to preserve our glorious Rosicrucian Order from the oppression and suppression directed toward us as officers and administrators by our natural enemies, the foes of Light and Soul Power.
I cannot ever forget the loyalty and devotion of my son Ralph in all of our official trials and tests, nor can the Order ever forget the highly conscientious, efficient and painstaking services he has rendered as Supreme Secretary and general business manager of the employees service departments. His wife, Gladys, has served well also in many departments during emergencies, and together they have made excellent members of the Supreme Council, always holding the interests and welfare of the members and the Order above all personal concern. My wife, too, has been unbiased, devoted and helpful in every way as a Supreme Councilor, despite her many connections as Director or officer of other organizations.
In all our recent trials and troubles, when dependability, long hours of service, devotion to the Order, and a militant attitude of loyalty were needed, our good brothers P. Falcone, Alfred Williams, Harvey Miles, Ken Brower, and my son-in-law James Whitcomb, were of the utmost help and assistance, and I know that James did not render such great services solely because of his family relations. My private secretary Daphne Daniels, one of the witnesses of my will, has also been very loyal, as has been Ethel Ward, Dr. Clement LeBrun, in their very efficient services to the Order under most trying conditions.
The Order of AMORC will not succumb to the machinations of its selfish enemies, but I am tired, so tired, of the long years of fighting for the faith, and in maintaining the promises and pledges I made to my superiors, the Venerables of the Order in France, in 1909. I feel that the Cosmic will soon relieve me of this tired body and free my soul to the Higher School of preparation for the next incarnation. As long as life and consciousness remain in this body, I shall serve, and fight for the integrity of the Order, for it is not mine, but Thine, Oh God of my Heart!
I shall carry in my soul eternally the illumination and benediction given to me on the occasion of my Hierarchal Initiation, and those hundred or more who have attained--and received--this under my regime of the Order, and now composing our 12th Degree, know whereof I speak, for we share together this sublime Wisdom and Understanding and shall come together some day under the names and signs we know; and until then--and always--we shall be a part of the Invisible Empire, the Great White Hierarchy of the Order of the Rosy Cross.
To those who have imitated the Order, abused its sacred symbols and misappropriated its terminology, in violence of the Book "G" left to us by our Venerable Grand Master C. R+C. I have only sorrow and forgiveness. They shall learn and evolve through the greater Cross they have placed upon their weak shoulders to carry.
In my heart there is an ever growing love for all of humanity. Man is the most glorious creation of God, and through his weaknesses emphasises the greatnesses of God. I have gladly given the better part of my life--and all of the material attainments which my Divinely bestowed talents would have made possible, to this Order and its avowed efforts in behalf of man's evolution here on earth.
I ever thank God for my wife and wonderful children--even my daughter-in-law Gladys, and son-in-law James. My first wife was devoted, true and loving, and God was good in giving me a second wife so loving and loyal.
May Heaven and the God of our Hearts bless them and lead them on to carry the Rosy Cross standard to greater glories. I should like to see Earle assist Ralph sometime in this work as Ralph has helped me, and James to help both of them so that little James Harvey Whitcomb may also follow the same noble path. And may nothing ever tempt them to break the faith or yield one iota, nor give tribute to the enemies of Light, but be ready at all times, as I have been, to sacrifice all, even life itself, to defend the Rosy Cross, its true traditions and purposes. So Mote It Be!
God bless you all, eternally
Your Father--Husband, Brother and friend
Harvey Spencer Lewis    


F. R. C.
San Jose, Calif.
July 4th, 1934
10:21 P. M.
Imperator--Rex R+C
 *   *   *
It was to be expected that the Imperator would be admired, respected and loved by fellow members of his beloved Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, but he was likewise admired and respected as a man, as an individual, by non-members who knew him. The following editorial from one of the San Jose daily newspapers is proof of this. Not only did both San Jose newspapers announce with front-page news articles and editorials his transition, but the event was broadcast as news over the principal radio stations in United States and Canada, and it was placed upon the news service release wires and appeared in all the leading newspapers in North and South America, and in the principal newspapers of Europe as well, for the Imperator was an internationally known figure.
Editorial San Jose Evening News
August 8, 1939
Death of Dr. H. Spencer Lewis, so soon after the conclusion of the Rosicrucian annual convention, was a shock to this entire community and to the thousands of members of the organization throughout the world.
To realize Dr. Lewis' gifts as an organizer, it is only necessary to remember that a few years ago the present site of Rosicrucian Park contained only some small cottages. Now it is beautifully parked, filled with fountains and art objects, and contains a number of imposing buildings devoted to a wide variety of scientific and artistic purposes.
Even at the time of his death, Dr. Lewis was negotiating to bring to San Jose one of the greatest art collections in Europe--a collection which San Francisco, Chicago and New York would be glad to entertain.
Dr. Lewis' contribution to the development of San Jose was not confined to the building of Rosicrucian Park and the establishment of an institution which sends out tens of thousands of pieces of mail matter each month. He showed an unswerving interest in the welfare of this city--not only its scientific and artistic welfare but its civic betterment. He was, in a word the finest type of public-spirited citizen.
Dr. Lewis' influence was not confined to this city, State or Nation. It was world-wide, the principles of Rosicrucianism which he espoused bringing development, satisfaction and happiness to thousands throughout the world.
The loss which San Joseans and Rosicrucians everywhere have sustained in the passing of Dr. Lewis is very great indeed.
 *   *   *
Funeral services for the Imperator were conducted in the Francis Bacon Auditorium at 2:00 P. M., Saturday, August 5, 1939, as he desired. It was the largest funeral ever witnessed in San Jose. The large auditorium stage was banked row after row with magnificent floral pieces, wreaths and sprays, dozens having been telegraphed not only from various sections of the United States but cabled and radioed from foreign lands. The auditorium was crammed with hundreds of loving mourners, both members and friends. Hundreds of cables, radiograms and telegrams from cities of this continent and from every continent on the globe poured in as soon as the tragic news was known. These wires of condolence and sympathy were not alone from members of AMORC but from government officials, men and women high in the walks of life, representing every profession and every occupation, who knew him as a friend and admired his accomplishments. The Imperator lay as though sleeping and enjoying the rest he so needed after his long and arduous labors. The simple and impressive mystical Rosicrucian funeral ceremony added to the beauty of the Great Initiation, for so it was, and this thought somewhat lessened the tremendous grief with which his wife and family labored. We know he shall return. We grieve not for his body nor for his soul, but for that physical and intellectual companionship which since transition we must adjust ourselves to receiving and enjoying in a more intimate manner which we as Rosicrucians understand. So Mote It Be!

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