Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 2, Vernal Equinox 2002
Inside the Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz
Editor's Note: This is a thesis of the first two Rosicrucian Manifestos, Fama Fraternitas and Confessio Fraternitas. The footnotes and bibliography were added by the editor - Alex Sumner.
The story of Christian Rosencreutz, the founder of the Rosicrucian Order,
is central to the rituals, the teachings, and indeed the very raison d'être
of the Golden Dawn itself - and in particular, the RR et AC.
Therefore, to understand the Tomb is to partially understand the Second Order itself. But for a fuller comprehension we need to understand precisely how Frater CRC is connected to it.
Dr R W Felkin, in a paper included in Regardie's Golden Dawn,
gives a clue. In Concerning the Use of the Vault, he says:
Sometimes you may see the simulacrum of Frater CRC in the Pastos, or it may be your own Higher Self.
Now it occurred to me that the reason this would occur is that Christian Rosencreutz is Himself the archetype of the Higher Self. With this in mind, certain passages in the Rosicrucian manifestos take on a whole new meaning. For a start, it is clear that the story of the discovery of the Tomb, as related in Fama Fraternitas, is an allegory.
Moreover, a straightforward substitution of references to Frater CRC by "the Higher Self" can itself be illuminating: for example, here is a particularly telling passage from Confessio Fraternitas:
we hold this, that the mediations, knowledge and inventions of [the Higher Self]* are so excellent, worthy and great, that if all books should perish and by God's almighty sufferance, all writings and learnings should be lost, yet the posterity will be able only thereby to lay a new foundation and bring the truth to light again
* The bracketed phrase was "our Loving Christian Father" in the original.
Paraphrased like this, is this not a description of attaining Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, which is the source of all true knowledge? In other words, the esoteric work of the Order is itself encoded in passages in the Manifestos. Not only does this symbolism shed new light on the exoteric documentation of the order, it also explains much in the Second Order ceremonies.
In the 5=6 Adeptus Minor ceremony - which is the esoteric version of the story in Fama Fraternitas - when the aspirant is led into the Vault, the Chief Adept is found in the same position in which Frater N.N. found Christian Rosencreutz. Obviously, the Chief is portraying Frater CRC, but more than that, I would suggest he is assuming him, i.e. creating an astral shell and evoking into it the power that Christian Rosencreutz represents. Thus, later in the ceremony, although the Chief leaves the Pastos, this same Astral shell remains therein, so that the Aspirant, when he comes to lie in the Pastos, himself Assumes the form of our Founder. Yet is not the obligation of the Adeptus Minor to unite his Nephesh and Ruach with his Neshamah? If we accept that the 5=6 ceremony does involve what I have described, then Frater CRC's association with the Higher Self follows as a logical conclusion.
In the Transmission of the Etheric Link, it is by the name of our Founder that the officers invoke the power to perform the ceremony. Also, the aspirant is left a while within the Vault, presumably for his aura to be transformed by the power which the officers have evoked therein.
Therefore, if we accept that Frater CRC represents the Higher Self as I maintain, then it is logical to suppose that, assuming he is a historical figure, Christian Rosencreutz is the most definitive example we have of a someone who attained the grade of Ipsissimus - because he did not just create the magic which empowers our Order, he is the Magic.
However, there is a new mystery. If Frater CRC was an Ipsissimus, why did he physically die at all? Why did he not ascend to heaven on a cloud? Or in a fiery chariot? Or why, for that matter, did he not "walk with God, but was not"? If one was to take a literal view of Fama Fraternitas, one might claim that all CRC did was to leave an elaborate tomb, as the manner of his death seemed to be ignoble compared to great figures of the Bible, such as Jesus, Elijah and Enoch.
There are four possible explanations of which I can readily think. Firstly, that the story of Fama Fraternitas is pure fiction. Secondly, Christian Rosencreutz is not an Ipsissimus. Both these are really denying the validity of the Order in oneway or another. The first is the objection of the rationalist who will only be interested if it can be proved as historical fact. But the second is really far more insidious, for it is alleging there is no power in the Order, that its rituals, which rely on CRC's exalted status if they are to make any sense, are in some way false. Yet this is flying in the face of the experience of those who have participated in and worked these rituals, and those who have found that there is foundation for the Order's teaching - myself included.
A third explanation is that our Founder is an Ipsissimus, and that he chose of his own true will to die, in order to leave a symbol for his followers. For example, would Frater N.N. have attached any significance to the Tomb had it been a mere cenotaph - little more than a glorified lumber-room? Therefore, Christian Rosencreutz created the tomb as an ingenious method of bequeathing an entire Symbolism to his followers - in which his own body would be a part of the Symbol - so as to stimulate their minds and lead them to further spiritual development.
Obviously this is sympathetic to the Rosicrucian Order. It begs the question "And just what is that symbolism?". For indeed, in the Vault of the Adepti, there is plenty of material from which to draw a possible answer, or even host of answers, and it is the work of an Adept to use the Vault from time to time for meditational purposes. (I do not intend to attempt to write the whole Axiomata that can be derived from the symbolism of the Vault, at least not in this essay, as space would not permit me). The only trouble I have with this third explanation is that it is really only a partial explanation for the significance of the story of the discovery of the Tomb.
The fourth explanation, however, with which I am most satisfied, seeks
to go beyond the third. It is that there is an esoteric meaning to Fama
Fraternitas: and that it is not really about the discovery of Frater CRC's
body at all; but about the Illumination which occurred to Frater N.N.
when he entered the Vault. This explanation therefore alleges that the
third, while not completely wrong, limits itself to discussing the exoteric.
Each of these four steps constitutes an obvious metaphor with the process
of initiation and illumination. For example: first, the library is the
repository of Knowledge - therefore the aspirant Wills that he increase
the "library within" by treading the mystical path. Second,
he undergoes Initiation, and experiences the Light - LVX - Divine White
Brilliance, which is the basis of the Magick of the Order. Third, as a
direct result thereof, he discovers his Higher Self. Fourth, he comprehends
the Hidden Knowledge, which, due to it being concealed within walls the
colour of the spectrum, is implied to be derived itself from the Light.
Just as white light diffracts into a rainbow, so knowledge in its varying
types is derived from a unified whole.
The Vault of the Adepti, as used by the Order of the RR et AC, gives
an intriguing interpretation of what that Hidden Knowledge might be. The
walls are not described in detail in Fama Fraternitas, yet the teaching
of the Second Order tells us not only how they are coloured, but also
that they are attributed to the seven planets
Now what is each of the seven sides of the Vault of the Adepti, if it is not a Flashing Tablet? Something which, by its design, is meant to attract a certain force from the atmosphere? The G...D... teaching tells us that one makes use of a Flashing Tablet by meditating in front of it, and investigating it with the faculty of Clairvoyance. Therefore, whereas in Fama Fraternitas the Walls of the Tomb are described as physical repositories of Hidden knowledge, it would appear that the esoteric reality is that their nature is really Psychic.
Therefore, whenever the Adept enters the Vault of the Adepti, which is the representation of the tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, he is undergoing a death to his old self, and experiencing a rebirth by coming into contact with his Higher Self. As a 5=6 he dies and is reborn to his Neshamah, as a 6=5 to his Chiah, and the Shekinah itself, and as a 7=4, he makes contact with his Yechidah. Having finished with his old self completely he leaves the Tomb to begin a new Life, not merely in communion with Christian Rosencreutz, but also using his power as an Initiator of Adepts to enable others to find the Founder of the Order as well.