HISTORY of AMORC


A Brief Overview

The Rosicrucian Order AMORC traces its tradition back to the mystery schools of ancient Egypt and Europe.

Its teachings are the development of some of the greatest mystical minds through the ages and much of the material within the teachings cannot be found anywhere else.

The present cycle of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC began in the United States in 1915 by Dr. H. Spencer Lewis, who received the authority from the Rosicrucian Order in Europe.

At that time, the teachings of the Rosicrucian Order were available to members through the oral tradition only. It was Dr Lewis's life vision to make the Rosicrucian teachings more widely available. His vision became the foundation of the unique home study system now available to hundreds of thousands of members throughout the world.

In Australia, the Rosicrucian Order AMORC was officially started on 5 January 1930 when a number of Rosicrucian students met at an apartment in Bondi, Sydney. On that date they formed the first study group in Australia and held the first Convocation of Australian Rosicrucians.

The Australian group was later joined by groups in New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines under the auspices of the English speaking Grand Lodge based in California, USA.

In the mid '90s it was agreed that a Grand Lodge based in Australia would be able to better serve the membership of Australia as well as New Zealand, South East Asia and the Pacific. In 1996 the Grand Lodge for Australia, Asia and New Zealand was formed.

Today the Grand Lodge for Australia, Asia and New Zealand is based in Leichhardt, in Sydney. It houses a bookshop and provides administrative services for members.



Introduction

History is the study and continuous methodical recording of past events and human affairs. A seemingly simple task perhaps, but we know that historians often discover new facts. In other words, the past is continuously being reinterpreted and rewritten.

This is certainly true of Rosicrucian history which shows that our roots go back to antiquity and that for centuries organised Rosicrucians have sought to advance humanity by developing fully the faculties and powers of the individual.

Rosicrucian history is complicated by there being a traditional history interwoven into a chronological account. Since the early 1600s, primary sources of evidence through conventional documents and evidence from secondary sources have confirmed that Rosicrucian activity has evolved in interesting and complex ways up to the present day. Particularly in recent decades, historians have unearthed many rich threads in the tapestry of Western Esoteric thought in which Rosicrucianism has played a vital part.

For this reason, it is wise to re-assess Rosicrucian history as new facts and interpretations come to light because what we thought were facts turn out to be myths while some myths turn out to be facts.

Nevertheless, the traditional history of tales and legends, hidden facts, symbols and principles perpetuated over the many centuries allows the Rosicrucian student and historian to connect our modern mystery school with the past. We are an initiatic organisation and the inspiration individuals have gained from attunement with the Rose Cross has provided mysterious but fascinating activity to the Rosicrucian story.

Here we can only sketch briefly the romantic traditional and chronological history which is published in more detail in The Rosicrucian magazine over 19 issues and is also available in Rosicrucian History and Mysteries by Christian Rebisse, a 240 page book published by Rosicrucian Books.



The Mystery Schools

The word, mystery, in antiquity, as in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, did not have the connotation which it does today. It did not allude to that which is mysterious, weird, or strange. Rather it referred to a special gnosis, a secret wisdom. In Egypt there were formed select bodies, as schools, to probe the mysteries of life. Consequently, the term has been applied to them and they were called Mystery Schools.

One of the first Mystery Schools is known as the Osirian. It concerned the legendary birth, death, and rebirth of the Egyptian god, Osiris. These events were enacted as a ritual drama. Only people displaying a desire for knowledge and meeting certain tests were considered worthy of being inducted into these mysteries.

These Mystery Schools, over centuries of time, gradually evolved into real centres of learning. It was Thutmose III (who ruled as a Pharaoh from 1500 to 1447 BC) who organised the first real Secret Brotherhood of Initiates with specific rules similar to those the Rosicrucian Order perpetuates today.

Thutmose was appointed by the Kheri Hebs, the high priests, to succeed his father upon the throne. The event was a mystical experience for him as well, revealing that he was qualified later to become the organiser of the Secret Brotherhood. History relates that, upon this occasion, Thutmose felt 'raised' as though he had ascended to the heavens.

Nearly 70 years later, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV was born in the royal palace at Thebes, Egypt. He was destined to be the most enlightened man of his time. He was inducted into the Secret Brotherhood at an early age and was so inspired by its teachings that he changed his name to Akhenaton.

Akhenaton also brought about a revolution in the religion, art, and culture of Egypt. He proclaimed publicly that there was a sole God, at a time when polytheism, the belief in many gods, prevailed in the world. He continued the monotheism promoted by Thutmose III and struggled against the darkness of ignorance to further the ideals of the Brotherhood.

Centuries later, Greek philosophers, such as Thales and Pythagoras, journeyed to Egypt and were initiated in these Mystery Schools. They then brought their advanced learning and wisdom to the Western World. These events are the first records of what eventually grew and blossomed into the Rosicrucian Order. The name of the Order, as it is now known, was to come much later. However, the Rosicrucian Order has always perpetuated its heritage of the ancient symbolism and principles.



Christian Rosenkreuz

Christian RosenkreuzIt appears from many ancient writings that in the first centuries preceding the Christian era, the Rosicrucian organisation complied with the regulation established centuries before. This called for a periodicity of active and inactive cycles of 108 years.

As the time approached for each jurisdiction or country to have its new birth of the Order, arrangements were made for the issuance of a manifesto or pamphlet setting forth the beginning of the new cycle.

This manifesto or decree announced the opening of a 'tomb' in which the 'body' of a great master, C.R.C. was found, together with rare jewels and secret writings which empowered the discoverers to establish the secret organisation once again.

To the world at large which knew nothing of the tradition, the event was accepted as a literal happening. This was especially so when printing was a recent discovery. The organisation was wrongly thought to be new and to have come into existence for the first time.

Many histories thus falsely related the date of origin of the Order. It must be apparent to the readers of this historical account that the discovery of a 'body' in a 'tomb' of a person known as C.R.C. was allegorical, symbolical, and not to be taken in a literal sense.

Cover of the Fama FraternitatisIn fact, the initials of the so called 'body' of C.R.C. did not refer to an actual person called Christian Rosenkreuz but were a symbolic title. Other officials in the Rosicrucian Order have had a similar title conferred upon them.

It is therefore an erroneous idea to believe that the Rosicrucian Order came into existence in the 14th century and was founded by a man named Christian Rosenkreuz. The Order existed long prior to that date as more detailed history delineates.

The revival of the Order in Germany in the 17th century was heralded by the issuance of a mysterious publication called the Fama Fraternitatis. It was subsequently published in many languages but the authorship of this Rosicrucian work was veiled with a symbolic name. Historians made many guesses as to the authorship of the pamphlet.



The Alchemists

The alchemists played a tremendous part in the early history of the Rosicrucian Order, so a reference to alchemy is appropriate.

Alchemy, in the narrowest sense, means the transmutation of baser metals into the more noble ones of gold and silver.

The origin of alchemy is obscured by the veil of time. Tradition, however, says it had its origin in ancient Egypt. In fact, according to Plutarch, the word may be traced back to 'khemie', meaning black earth and referring to the rich alluvial soil carried by the Nile in its annual inundation of Egypt. Plutarch also refers to alchemy as an "Egyptian art".

ParacelsusAlchemy, as an art and the forerunner of chemistry, came into prominence with the Alexandrine Greeks. It was introduced to the Arabs and later transmitted by them to Europe.

The theory of alchemy, succinctly stated, is that underlying all the elements and manifestations of nature, there is a prima materia, that is, a first matter.

This was believed to be the key by which all else came into existence. To discover this first matter meant that people would be able to create all the forms of the physical world at will. This prima materia was subsequently called the 'philosopher's stone', a secret key by which all of nature's physical forms could be created and humanity's nature controlled.

Later, transcendental alchemists came into existence. They were mystics and philosophers who used alchemical terminology and symbols to represent esoteric principles. They sought to transmute the base elements of humanity's character into the more noble virtues and to release the wisdom of the divine self within us.

Sir Francis BaconIt is this transcendental alchemy with which most of the Rosicrucians were concerned. Some of the renowned alchemists who were also Rosicrucians were Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Paracelsus, Cagliostro, Nicholas Flamel, Isaac Newton and Robert Fludd. In their laboratories they discovered much concerning the physical laws of the universe and, in their meditations, came to understand humanity and its relation to the Cosmic.



Sir Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English philosopher, Lord Chancellor, and Imperator of the Rosicrucian Order in England. The title, Imperator, is the traditional one conferred upon the highest executive official of the Rosicrucian Order.

Sir Francis Bacon has been recognised as one of the world's greatest literary geniuses. In fact, there are many scholars who sincerely believe, from their research, that he was the author or co-author of the Shakespearean plays.

Rosicrucian history states that Sir Francis Bacon was the author of the pamphlets that brought about the revival of the Order in Germany. Bacon's book, The New Atlantis, admittedly his own work, indicates his connection with the Rosicrucian publication issued in Germany between 1610 and 1616.

Michael Maier (1568-1622), noted philosopher and Grand Master of the Rosicrucians in Germany, visited England and initiated Dr. Robert Fludd into the Order. Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, was influenced by his friend Robert Fludd and initiated by him into the Order, later to attain the high office of Imperator.



The Rosicrucians Reach America

A movement started in Europe in 1693 as a result of a previous plan to send a colony of Rosicrucian leaders from the principal European branches to America.

They were to found a colony and establish the Rosicrucian arts and sciences.

The plan had its incentive in the book, The New Atlantis, written by Sir Francis Bacon while he was Imperator of the Rosicrucian Order.

In the fall of 1693, the colonists started out in a specially chartered vessel called the Sarah Maria under the leadership of Grand Master Kelpius who was connected with the Jacob Boehme Lodge of the Rosicrucians in Europe. They reached the city now known as Philadelphia in the first months of 1694.

They built many buildings in what is known as Fairmount Park. Later they moved farther west in Pennsylvania. They established their own printing plant and many of the documents printed there are preserved as historical literary works. In this centre the genuine secret teachings of the Rosicrucians were first introduced in America.

Dr. H. Spencer LewisIt was in Pennsylvania that many important American institutions were like­wise established and valuable contributions made to the scientific and art foundations of the United States. Eminent persons such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson made intimate contact with this national headquarters of the Rosicrucians.

As one historian says: "In that retired valley beside the flowing brook, the secret rites and mysteries of the true Rosicrucian philosophy flourished unmolested for years until the state of affairs brought about by the American Revolution. . . ."

In accordance with the rules then established, the Order went into its cycle of outer silence in America. It was, however, active in France, Germany, England, Switzerland, Russia, Spain, and the Orient.

In 1909 Dr. H. Spencer Lewis made a visit to France for the purpose of receiving instruction about the Rosicrucian Order. He had been a scholar in the field of metaphysical and esoteric sciences for a number of years. After many tests and trials, Dr. Lewis was permitted to meet one of the officials of the French Rosicrucian Order.

He was duly initiated near Toulouse, France, and instructed to begin the preliminary foundation for reactivating the true Rosicrucian Order in America.

AMORC ManifestoAfter further qualifications and preparations, the first official public Manifesto was issued in the United States, announcing the birth of a new cycle of the Order.

Dr. H. Spencer Lewis was duly appointed by the American Supreme Council as Imperator. In this capacity, Dr. Lewis served well, perpetuating the ancient traditions of the Order and extending its activities throughout the jurisdiction. He passed through transition (the Rosicrucian term for death) on 2 August 1939. Dr Lewis was succeeded by his son, Ralph M. Lewis, in the office of Imperator, the latter being duly elected by the Board of Directors of the Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC.

Ralph M. Lewis passed through transition in 1987. Gary Stewart was then Imperator until 1990. The current incumbent chief executive of the world wide jurisdiction of AMORC is Christian Bernard who resides in France.



The Rosicrucian Order AMORC in Australia

There is some fleeting evidence that there were members of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC in Australia and New Zealand during the 1920s. However, we consider the birth of Rosicrucianism in Australia to have taken place on 5 January 1930.

On this day a group of Rosicrucian students met at the house of Stefan Kowron in Bondi a suburb of Sydney. This small group of members formed the nucleus of what is today Sydney Lodge AMORC.

Stefan Kowron escaped from the communist uprising in Russia to settle in Shanghai. While in Shanghai he studied psychology, new thought and spiritualism. By reading Zanoni by Bulwer Lytton his interest in the Rosicrucian Order started and his real quest for the greater light began.

CharterIn February 1921 he was accepted as a member of AMORC and was allotted the membership number 549.

During his stay in Shanghai he married and early in 1927 he sailed with his wife for Sydney. Along the way, he contacted the then Grand Master of Java, V. F. Vlaming and he was privileged to be a candidate at a Temple Initiation in Surabaya on Java.

Stefan Kowron under the old constitution of the Order became the first Grand Master of the Order in Australasia under the direct direction of Dr. H. Spencer Lewis.

Stefan Kowron is credited with the foundation work which led to the start of the Sydney Rosicrucian group which later led to many other Lodges and Chapters throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking of his experience of this initiation many years later, he described how he was cosmically inspired to carry the Light of the Order to his new homeland.

In Australia far from his birthplace and with the English language but one of the lesser difficulties to be overcome, he was destined to lay the foundations for the spread of the Rosicrucian Order's Light to every remote part of this vast continent.

Today, the Grand Lodge for Australia, Asia and New Zealand has its headquarters in Sydney and oversees more than 2,000 members, four Lodges, two chapters, 12 Pronaoi and 21 Atria. The Grand Lodge owns six properties including its own headquarters. Its membership has an extremely wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds and ages.

The Grand Lodge was officially started on 22 April 1996 when the Supreme Grand Lodge unanimously ratified the formation of a third English Language Grand Lodge.

The Grand Lodge for Australia, Asia and New Zealand services all English speaking members between Afghanistan and the International Date Line.

The Grand Lodge has been recognised by the Australian Government as a not-for-profit, tax exempt educational organisation.



Origin of the Rosicrucian Teachings

No doubt you are wondering about the origin of Rosicrucian teachings. To this question we shall reply that they have their roots in the sacred legacy received by our Order from the mystery schools of ancient Egypt.

This legacy is an integral part of archives which, from century to century, have come to enrich the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC.

Thus, a large number of mystical laws and principles which are developed in the monographs are the product of the incessant work which mystics of the past have performed to pierce the mysteries of nature and of the universe.

To the knowledge perpetuated by the sages of ancient Egypt was added the philosophical concepts expressed by the great thinkers of ancient Greece. Then, a few centuries later, the mystical precepts of the alchemists of the Middle Ages were formulated.

Some prominent persons living in more recent times have developed certain precise aspects of the ancient bequest left to them by their illustrious predecessors. To cite only a few names, such personalities as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Cornelius Heinrich Agrippa (1486-1535), Paracelsus (1493-1541), Francois Rabelais (1494-1553), Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Jacob Boehme (1575-1624), Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Michael Faraday (1791-1867) and Claude Debussy (1862-1918) have added their learning to Rosicrucian knowledge.

Since the beginning of the present cycle of activity of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC, Rosicrucians who are authorities in various fields have also contributed to the Order's teachings.

Among such Rosicrucians we naturally find those who are engaging or have engaged, directly in the work of the Order. There are also members who, as physicians, chemists, biologists, doctors or philosophers, constantly work for the cultural enrichment of Rosicrucian knowledge. We say 'cultural' for the spiritual dimension of the initiatory and ritual tradition of AMORC remains what it has always been and will remain so forever. Thus it is easy to understand that a Rosicrucian does not study the teachings of some master and that the mystical knowledge to which we have access is not frozen in time. On the contrary, our study bears upon laws and principles which have been tested and which is the reflection of all that human genius has received in the name of and for the glory of, Universal Intelligence.


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