Official Worldwide Emblem of the Rosicrucian Order
A Rosicrucian Master’s Cross, from the AMORC Rosicrucian Library in San Jose
The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis, also called the Rosicrucian Order (AMORC), is a worldwide philosophical and humanistic secret society devoted to “the study of the elusive mysteries of life and the universe.” The organization is non-sectarian and it is open to both men and women of legal adult age (18 years old in most countries) regardless of their various religious persuasions.
The current open cycle of AMORC was activated by Harvey Spencer Lewis in 1915. Lewis received authority to do so from the Supreme Council of the Rosicrucian Order after being tried, tested and finally initiated into the Order in 1909, Toulouse, France.
AMORC is said to be the modern day manifestation of the ancient Rose-Croix Order which has its origin in the Ancient Egyptian mystery schools.
AMORC’s teachings draw upon ideas of the major philosophers, particularly Pythagoras, Thales, Solon, Heraclitus, Democritus. The teachings are divided into Degrees which are further grouped into broad categories under titles such as Postulant, Neophyte andInitiate sections. These degrees cover various fields related to physical, mental, psychic and spiritual existence such as physics,metaphysics, biology, psychology, parapsychology, comparative religion, traditional healing techniques, health, intuition, extrasensory perception, material and spiritual alchemy, meditation, sacred architecture, symbolism, and that mystical state of consciousness relating to the experience of unity with the Divine.
The name AMORC is an abbreviation for the Latin title Antiquus Mysticusque Ordo Rosæ Crucis (“Ancient and Mystic Order of the Rosy Cross”) Harvey Spencer Lewis, an author, occultist and mystic who founded AMORC in the United States of America, wrote that “from the very start, and with the issuance of the first public manifesto, the correct name of the international Rosicrucian organization was used, namely, the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis. This is a slightly abbreviated form of the original Latin name,Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis, and the initials AMORC were immediately used as well as the true and original symbol of the Rosicrucian Order — the golden cross with but one red rose in the center.”
Organization and structure
AMORC is a worldwide organization, established in the United States of America as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, with the specific and primary purpose of advancing the knowledge of its history, principles, and teachings for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes. It is financed mainly through fees paid by its members. Income is used by the organization to pay expenses, develop new programs, expand services, and carry out educational work.
The organizational headquarters for different jurisdictions of the AMORC are designated as “Grand Lodges.” The English-speaking Grand Lodge for the Americas is headquartered in Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California. All Grand Lodges are governed by The Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC. The Supreme Grand Lodge meets annually, often in Lachute, Quebec, Canada (however, in August 2009 the Supreme Board met in Toulouse, France, in honor of the 100th Anniversary of H. Spencer Lewis’s initiation there), and is responsible for the worldwide coordination of AMORC, the establishment of new administrations, and the appointment of jurisdictions to Grand Lodges, usually based on language. This body consists of the Imperator, Grand Masters, and related executive officers.
On a local level, members of AMORC often form smaller affiliated groups organized as Lodges, Chapters, Pronaoi, or Atrium Groups. These various titles differ according to the number of members of each body in regular attendance. Participation in these groups is optional, and participants retain compulsory membership with their respective Grand Lodge. Many of these groups charge additional dues to participants to cover expenses such as rent and mailings. Most affiliated bodies of the AMORC offer Open Meetings or Lectures to which the general public is invited and welcome.
Each AMORC Grand Lodge has its own headquarters and facilities. In North America, the largest Chapter in the world is located at 1342 Naglee Ave. ; the headquarters of the English Grand Lodge for the Americas owns the Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California, founded in 1927, which includes the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, the fifth planetarium built in the USA (and the first to have a US-built star projector, built by Dr. Harvey Spencer Lewis), the Rosicrucian Peace Garden, Rosicrucian Research Library, Grand Temple, Administration Building, Fountain Plaza and Gardens.
Discussion groups, an informal type of gathering for both members and the public, were formally introduced in 2009 in North America. They are authorized by AMORC but are not affiliated bodies.
In 1909 Harvey Spencer Lewis visited France in search of Rosicrucians, was duly initiated in Toulouse, France, and given the mandate to establish an order in North America. After further qualification and preparation the first official Manifesto was issued in the United States in 1915, announcing the establishment of Rosicrucian activity in America. May Banks-Stacy, the co-founder of AMORC, was said to be one of the last successors to the original colony of Rosicrucians that settled in America during the late 17th century, and an initiate of the Rosicrucians of the East. Lewis became a “secret partner” of Big Business in America. According to railroad magnate Arthur Stillwell, no other man has exerted a greater influence as a secret partner in American free enterprise than Lewis. Walt Disney was once a member of AMORC as was Star Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry and Jack Palance‘s daughter Holly Palance.
AMORC headquarters were located in New York City, San Francisco, and then Tampa before moving to San Jose, California, in 1927. Harvey Spencer Lewis died in 1939 and, in accordance with wishes stipulated in his will, was succeeded in the Office of Imperator by his son Ralph Maxwell Lewis who had previously served as Supreme Secretary. Gary L. Stewart who previously served as Grand Master of the English-Speaking jurisdiction and then Vice President of the Board of Directors was appointed to the Office of Imperator upon Lewis’ death in 1987 in compliance with Lewis’ wishes. Christian Bernard who had been the Grand Master of France and then succeeded Stewart to the position of Vice President of the Board was elected to the Office of Imperator in 1990 by the Board of Directors.
During World War II AMORC underwent a dramatic period of growth. After the war ended AMORC was able to lend support to its European sister organizations. Eventually many of these then came under the administration of AMORC’s leadership in San Jose. 2009, the centennial year of H. Spencer Lewis’s initiation inToulouse, saw growth in membership in the English Grand Lodge for the Americas and very active participation in on-line activities including Facebook, Twitter, online Discussion groups, a social networking site, podcasts and Rosicrucian TV on YouTube. Rosicrucian Park in San Jose received many improvements as well, including the completion of accessibility upgrades to the museum, planetarium and grounds and the installation of sustainable native plant gardens.
AMORC uses traditional history, consisting of tales and legends represented as having been passed down for centuries by word of mouth as well as the conventionalchronological history, which consists of verifiable fact. AMORC traces its origin to mystery schools established in Egypt during the joint reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III and Hatshepsut, about 1500 BCE. They united the priesthoods of Egypt into a single order under the leadership of Hatshepsut’s Vizier, Hapuseneb. Each Temple had its associated Per Ankh (House of Life) where the Mysteries were handed down. In uniting the priesthoods, the Per Ankhu were also united. These schools were formed to probe into “the mysteries of life” — in other words, natural phenomena, and initiatic spirituality. AMORC also claims that among their most esteemed pupils were Pharaoh Akhenaten(Amenhotep IV) and his wife Nefertiti.
Over centuries these Mystery Schools spread into Greece and thence into Rome. During the Middle Ages they were concealed under various names. AMORC claims that Rosicrucianism is mentioned as far back as 1115 CE in a book of the collection of Brother Omnis Moriar in Germany. However, no other record of such a brother and book has appeared. The alleged name probably derives from the opening words of Horace in Ode 3.30 in which he writes: “Non Omnis Moriar” (“I shall not completely die”).
Rosicrucianism rose to considerable prominence in Europe during the 17th century following the publication and wide circulation of a small pamphlet, the Fama Fraternitatis. AMORC scholars have suggested that Rosicrucians first came to America in the area of present day Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in The Vizcaíno Expedition of 1602–1603. AMORC maintains that the next Rosicrucian expedition came in the chartered vessel Sarah Maria during the early months of 1694 under the leadership of Grand Master Johannes Kelpius and they established a colony in what is now Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. They finally settled on the banks of the Wissahickon. “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, together with pernicious Sunday legislation which also discriminated against the keepers of the scriptural Sabbath day, gradually caused the incoming generation to assimilate with the secular congregations.” This is disputed by another organization, theFraternity of the Rosy Cross at one time headed by Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer. Johannes Kelpius of the Jacob Boehme Lodge in Germany led the German Pietists to America and these Rosicrucian immigrants and their descendants established a commune in 1732 at Ephrata, Pennsylvaniaknown as the Ephrata Society under the leadership of Johann Conrad Beissel and Peter Miller (who at the behest of Congress translated theDeclaration of Independence into seven languages); the buildings still exist today as part of a historical park known as Ephrata Cloisters. It is also a fact that the two rival organizations historically disputed their claims to Rosicrucian genuineness.
Leadership and new groups
From 1915 to 1990 the leadership of AMORC was entrusted to the Office of an Imperator who was solely responsible for all doctrine and ritual of the Order as well as a corporate president who sat at the head of the board of directors, which was responsible for determining all corporate matters related to the organization. When AMORC reorganized in April, 1990, the dual function of the Office was merged into one position, that of President of the worldwide AMORC organization. However, internally, the President was still referred to by the traditional title of Imperator. In addition to the Imperator, each Grand Lodge has a Grand Master.
In 1990 there was a dispute over the leadership of the AMORC, which was then under the leadership of Imperator Gary L. Stewart, prompted by allegations made by a few members of the Board of Directors of embezzlement on the part of Stewart. In April, 1990, a lawsuit was filed by the Board and, as a result of the allegations, Stewart was kept from returning to AMORC’s properties by virtue of a Temporary Restraining Order until trial. The newly expanded Board of Directors voted that the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Christian Bernard, should assume Stewart’s offices. An installation ritual was held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California. During the next three years there was little activity in the lawsuit and the case never went to trial. However, prompted by the Insurance Company of North America’s Motion for Intervention on 3 June 1993 alleging insurance fraud against the new AMORC Board of Directors, AMORC sought to settle out of court and on 10 August 1993 dismissed their case against Stewart with prejudice. The dismissal was the final severing of the relationship between Stewart and AMORC.
A ceremonial collar belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, while serving as Master of a Rosicrucian Order jurisdiction based in Paris. (as claimed by AMORC)
The governance of AMORC is overseen by the Supreme Grand Lodge (the Imperator, Grand Masters and Administrators), with local (geographic and/or language based) Grand Lodges throughout the world.
After his removal from AMORC in 1990, former Imperator Stewart founded the Confraternity of the Rose Cross and uses the original version of H. Spencer Lewis’ monographs with addendums added by Stewart as well as additional monographs written by Stewart (as opposed to the monographs currently used by AMORC, which were initially rewritten in large parts under Imperator Bernard’s supervision and are now regularly revised and updated according to AMORC custom dating from the time of H. Spencer Lewis’s first published materials in 1916). Stewart also founded the Order Militia Crucifera Evangelica and assisted with the formation of the British Martinist Order. Other organizations using the name Rosicrucian formed after Stewart’s removal from AMORC include the Ghanaian Order of the Rose Cross led by Benjamin Quaye and the Norwegian Order of the Rose Cross led by Robert Aarberg of which both orders are closely allied with Stewart’s Confraternity of the Rose Cross; and the short-lived Ancient Rosae Crucis which was led by Ashley McFadden.
Many of the activities of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC are open to the public, as well as members. These include:
- Online Classes: In the fall of 2006, the English Grand Lodge for the Americas began offering free online classes in many subjects. Most of these Rose+Croix University Online Classes are open to both AMORC members and the public. These are conducted today on Facebook.
- Open Classes: These are held in many locations, including in North America and the Caribbean, and are listed on the AMORC English Grand Lodge for the Americas site in the external links below. Other such public activities can be found on the international sites.
- Meditation for Peace: In 2004, Imperator Christian Bernard proclaimed the annual Rosicrucian Meditation for Peace Ceremony at the Rosicrucian World Peace Conference (see below). This is held at the Grand Lodge and in affiliated bodies throughout the world on the fourth Sunday of June each year. North American and Caribbean locations are listed on the AMORC English Grand Lodge for the Americas site.
- Autumn Equinox Memorial Ceremony: The annual Memorial Ceremony is held at the Grand Lodge in San Jose and in affiliated bodies throughout the world at the Autumn Equinox each year. North American and Caribbean locations are listed on the AMORC English Grand Lodge for the Americas site.
- Council of Solace Ritual: The Imperator and Supreme Board of AMORC recently opened the Council of Solace Ritual, welcoming both members and the public to participate. In North America and the Caribbean, this meditation ceremony is held at the Grand Lodge headquarters in San Jose, and in most Grand Lodges worldwide.
AMORC often organizes various conferences around the world, increasingly having many sessions open to the public, and several councils of experts on various topics. In August 2001 the world convention took place in Gothenburg, Sweden. The main theme of the convention was world peace and harmony. The convention was of significant importance to Rosicrucian history because Imperator Bernard presented the “Positio Fraternitatis Rosæ Crucis” to inform the public about AMORC’s position on the current world situation.
In July 2004 The Rosicrucian World Peace Conference was held in San Jose. Over 2000 Rosicrucians from 70 countries gathered with Imperator Christian Bernard, and North American Grand Master Julie Scott. The Imperator dedicated the Rosicrucian Park‘s newest institution, the Rosicrucian Peace Garden, designed according to examples from Egypt’s 18th Dynasty by Grand Master Emeritus of the English Grand Lodge for Australia, New Zealand and Asia, Peter Bindon.
The World Convention for 2007 was held in Berlin, Germany with the theme “Love Will Build the Bridge.” All of the events, except for the ritualistic convocations, were open to the Public.
Curitiba, Brazil, the headquarters of the Portuguese Grand Lodge of AMORC, hosted the August 2011 World Convention: The Sacred and the Primordial Tradition.
The International Research Council is a group of AMORC members who have expertise in several areas, including physics, biology, philosophy and music. According to the AMORC, the members of the International Research Council dedicate themselves to the advancement of their profession for the benefit of humanity.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum will launch a substantial new exhibit on Spiritual and Physical Alchemy on the Spring Equinox 2012. It has already become very popular on Facebook prior to opening.
The Rosicrucian Order hosted an academic conference for Scholars and Practitioners of Esotericism at Rosicrucian Park, 22–25 July 2010. The theme for the papers and presentations given by members of many different esoteric groups was the influence of esoteric Orders on the modern world. Several of the papers were to be published in the June 2011 Rose Croix Journal.
The Council of Solace is a group of Rosicrucians who meditate and direct spiritual force for health and harmony daily on behalf of others. They offer free, 24-hour metaphysicalaid to those in need, regardless of membership. Members and the public may by invitation take part in the Council of Solace meditation ritual held in various locations.
The AMORC publishes several publications including a public magazine called the Rosicrucian Digest, an online academic periodical called the Rose-Croix Journal and a Peacee-zine, as well as books which focus on topics such as metaphysics, mysticism, and Egyptology.
The Rosicrucian Digest was first published in 1915 under the name American Rosae Crucis, and then The Triangle, The Mystic Triangle and finally The Rosicrucian Digest. It has been adapted to serve the needs of each period. Beginning with the December 2006 issue (Vol 84:2) the Digest began a series of multimedia thematic issues available online and in print twice a year. The first such issue (December 2006) dealt with Atlantis, while the 2007 volumes covered Ancient Egypt and The Essenes. 2008 issues followed with The Orphic Mysteries and the Delphi, while 2009 issues covered The Pythagoreans and the Eleusinian Mysteries.
In the United Kingdom the public magazine is named Rosicrucian Beacon and is published quarterly by the “English speaking jurisdiction for Europe, Africa and the Middle East of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC.” In Australasia the magazine is titled The Rosicrucian. Other AMORC jurisdictions have similar publications.
AMORC’s Rose+Croix Journal is “an international, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, peer-reviewed online journal that focuses on topics that relate to the sciences, history, the arts, mysticism, and spirituality, especially interdisciplinary topics and transdisciplinary inquiries that traverse and lie beyond the limits of different fields of study. These topics may relate to any of the arts and sciences and/or to other emerging fields of human endeavor” (from the Rose+Croix Journal’s About page). The Journal’s Website also has a Resources section with the five Rosicrucian Manifestos, Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians, Rosicrucian Documents, online editions of the Rosicrucian Digest, etc. Submissions are solicited from members and the public.
In 2007, the English Grand Lodge for the Americas launched a new e-zine, Peace Consciousness.org. It is self-described as providing “both a forum for exchanging ideas related to peace, and for suggesting means at all levels to use in resolving differences between individuals, groups, nations, or even species. We will learn not only where we have common ground, but also learn to celebrate our differences, because those differences provide richness, diversity, and a continual flow of new ideas for us to consider.” (from the About page). Submissions of articles and art are solicited from members and the public.
Multimedia and web presence
According to AMORC tradition, H. Spencer Lewis received the mandate from the Rosicrucians of Toulouse when he was initiated in 1909 to make the tradition available and comprehensible to modern women and men. In accord with this, H. Spencer Lewis, and after him Ralph M. Lewis, used all of the technologies available to them to accomplish their work. An example was the radio station H. Spencer Lewis had broadcasting from his office at the Rosicrucian Park, and before that, at the previous headquarters in Tampa, and San Francisco. The broadcasting from San Jose began on 15 February 1928 and was delivered by two 30-metre radio towers inside the park. The radio towers have since been removed, though for some time AMORC continued to broadcast through the historic San Jose KEEN radio station. Today, the Order communicates using newer media:
- Websites for all of the international jurisdictions of AMORC now provide instant access to information and resources for members and the public.
- The English Grand Lodge for the Americas began a series of public podcasts in 2006 and launched Rosicrucian TV on YouTube in 2009. Topics range include mysticism,Egyptology, peace, esotericism and other subjects.
- English Grand Lodge for the Americas members enjoy a private community social networking forum based in the Ning (website) system.
- Facebook has rapidly become a major forum for North American AMORC, with over 57,000 likes for its main Facebook page as of October 2013. There are also fan pages for Rosicrucian Park, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Rose+Croix University Online Classes (including discussions of each issue of the new Rosicrucian Digests), the new Alchemy Exhibit at the Museum, and the Hidden in Plain Sight Conference.
- Twitter followers receive frequent updates from the Order, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and the Rosicrucian Research Library.
The public presence of the Rosicrucians in Western Europe was made known through the publication of three manifestos. AMORC introduced a fourth manifesto, the Positio Fraternitatis Rosæ Crucis at an AMORC convention in Sweden in August 2001. The Positio offers AMORC’s observations on problems in the modern world, along with proposed solutions. The Positio closes with an invocation that expresses what it calls “Rosicrucian Utopia”:
God of all beings, God of all life, In the humanity we are dreaming of:
- Politicians are profoundly humanistic and strive to serve the common good;
- Economists manage state finances with discernment and in the interest of all;
- Scientists are spiritualistic and seek their inspiration in the Book of Nature;
- Artists are inspired and express the beauty and purity of the Divine Plan in their works;
- Physicians are motivated by love for their fellow-beings and treat both the soul and the body;
- Misery and poverty have vanished, for everyone has what one needs to live happily;
- Work is not regarded as a chore; it is looked at as a source of growth and well-being;
- Nature is considered to be the most beautiful temple of all, and animals are considered to be our brothers and sisters on the path of evolution;
- A World Government composed of the leaders of all nations, working in the interest of all humanity, has come into existence.
- Spirituality is an ideal and a way of life, which springs forth from a Universal Religion, founded more upon the knowledge of divine laws than upon the belief in God;
- Human relations are founded upon love, friendship, and community, so that the whole world lives in peace and harmony.
Those associated with Rosicrucian work as claimed by AMORC
This is a list of people who, according to AMORC, were Rosicrucians or associated with Rosicrucian tradition and work.
- Isaac Newton,
- Leonardo da Vinci,
- Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa,
- Dante Alighieri,
- René Descartes,
- Blaise Pascal,
- Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,
- Christopher Wren,
- Benjamin Franklin,
- Thomas Jefferson,
- Michael Faraday,
- Claude Debussy,
- Erik Satie,
- Édith Piaf,
- Napoleon Bonaparte,
- Francis Bacon,