M.W. Frater Dr. Claude Brodeur, IX°, Ontario College, SRIC
This paper was read May 7, 1995, at a meeting of the John Ross Robertson Chapter of the Philalethes Society , the Etobicoke Masonic Hall, Ontario, with the title “Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario.” It well could have been titled, as it is here, “Masonic Rosicrucianism in Canada,” since the Ontario College was really about the founding of Masonic Rosicrucianism in Canada.
In this paper on Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario, I address four questions. Two are historical and two are speculative.
The historical questions are: How did Masonic Rosicrucianism come to Ontario? Who were some of the people involved ? The speculative questions are: What is peculiarly Masonic and what is peculiarly Rosicrucian about Masonic Rosicrucianism?
Two of these questions deserve more attention than I have time to give to them . The origins of Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario could be spelled out in greater detail. It’s a fascinating subject that reflects in part the socio-political-economic culture of the times. The latter part of the 19th Century was definitive in shaping what was to come in the 20th Century. It was a period of great transition.
I caution you at the outset. The definition of Rosicrucianism is far more problematic than the viewpoint that I propose herein. For this presentation, I have indulged myself in the luxury of interpreting Rosicrucianism to satisfy myself. I admit being somewhat arrogant in this regard, but, then again, occasional arrogance is one of the perks of being a senior citizen in early retirement.
Let me here and now disclaim any pretence of being an authority in matters Rosicrucian or Masonic. I am simply a student, and as such, I accepted the invitation to speak on this topic simply because I wanted to learn more both about Freemasonry and about Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario.
Early Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario
From the documents which I have consulted, the first presence of Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario was due to Lt. Col. W.J.B. McLeod Moore and came about through his acquaintance with a Frater John Yarker of England, a member of the Manchester College and Secretary of the Northern Counties Province. Both were active in the Red Cross of Constantine and The Order of the Temple (The Knights Templar as it is known in Ontario, or Commandery as it is called in the United States).
John Yarker wrote to Frater Irwin, Chief Adept of the Bristol College, requesting that Prince Rhodokanakis be made a member of the Bristol College, stating that he was already a member of the Manchester College. Yarker is alleged to have directed Rhodokanakis to appoint Col. McLeod Moore as Honorary Ninth Grade member of the Society so that he might found a Rosicrucian Society in Canada. This was actually done. The date of the founding of the Society in Canada differs in Greensill’s history of the S.R.I.A. from Voorhis’ history of the S.R.I.C.F. Voorhis give the year as 1886 and Greensills gives the year as 1887.
There is actually no official record or minutes indicating that Prince Rhodokanakis was created an Honorary Magus 9o of the Rosicrucian Society of England with powers to establish a Supreme Council of the Society in Greece. On the other hand, why would Prince Rhodokanakis have been directed to appoint McLeod Moore of Canada an Honorary 9o Rosicrucian if he were not a Magus of the 9th Grade? It is known that Prince Rhodokanakis did become Grand Master and Sovereign Grand Commander of two orders which he founded in Greece, so he may well have been elected Supreme Magus of Greece, which would have entitled him to the roman numeral grade of IX°.
Greensill in his research found no proof that the Society in Canada had any connection with the Society in London. In fact, he notes that the Society in Canada “passed into abeyance” after ten years. That the Society “passed into abeyance” is easily documented. Exactly when it so passed is questionable, probably some time close to ten years after it was founded.
Membership in the first Society in Canada was drawn from the township of Maitland, except for John Easton, who came from Prescott, Ontario. The date of the founding of the Society in Canada has been recorded as May 31, 1876 (120 years ago to this month). The time span of 120 years is peculiarly significant to Rosicrucians. I shall say something about this peculiarity later.
The date of July 25th, 1876, not May 31, is also recorded in other documents as the date when the first Rosicrucian Society was founded in Ontario. This is the date mentioned in a letter written by Colonel Moore to Frater Edwin H.D. Hall. In a letter to Albert Pike in Washington D.C., dated April 26, 1880, Colonel Moore gives the date as September 19, 1876. I quote from that letter, a copy of which can be found in a history of Masonic Rosicrucian Societies by M.W. Frater Harold V.B. Voorhis, IX°:
“The Rosicrucian Society of Canada is supreme and independent and was organized by charter from H.I. Highness, The Prince Rhodokanakis, 33 °, IX°, Supreme Magus of the Rosicrucian Society for the Kingdom of Greece, bearing the date of 19 Sept. 1876. There is one Provincial College at the village of Maitland, Ontario.”
Colonel Moore was not listed in the first published roster of officers of the College. No reason has ever been discovered for this omission. Six months later Colonel Moore is listed as Supreme Magus and President of the High Council for Canada. In later records, the title “President” is no longer mentioned. The head of the Society is simply called Supreme Magus. I have not discovered when or why this change was made.
Colonel Moore mentions in a letter to Albert Pike of New York, a Mason of Scottish Rite notoriety who seems to have been in frequent contact with Moore, that the Ontario College is the only College in the Province.
Other Colleges active in Ontario at one time or another were the Dominion College in Maitland, Ontario, with 15 members; the Ontario College whose members met in Orillia, and the McLeod Moore College with its 10 members who met in Peterborough.
Members of the Dominion College came from Maitland, Prescott, Brockville, Toronto, Ottawa; and one from Birkenhead, England.
Members of the Ontario College, who met in Orillia, gave various locales in Quebec and Ontario as their addresses: places like Montreal and Richmond in Quebec, and in Ontario: Toronto, Ottawa, Peterborough, Cannington, Orillia, London, Barrie, and Port Hope. One member, Robert Ramsay, was noted as having affiliated from the Dominion College.
There was one college with three members which met in Hamilton, but no record of it’s name has ever been found.
In 1879 the High Council of the Society in Ontario, according to copies of papers sent to the Society in England, consisted of the first eight members of the Dominion College, designated No. 1: George C. Longley, who held the 9th Grade and was denominated the Master General and Chief Adept and John Dumbrille, 8th Grade, was Deputy Master General. The other principal officers who also held the 8th Grade, were John Easton (Celebrant), Alexander G. Hervey (Treasurer-General), and Robert Ramsay (Secretary-General), Robert Hervey (1st Ancient and Conductor of Novices, Daniel Collins (2nd Ancient and Torch Bearer), and John Moore, holding the rank of 7th Grade (3rd Ancient and Herald).
Three important names were not included among the members of the College, but must assuredly have been members. The reason for the omission no one has been able to discover. The names omitted are Col. W.J.B. McLeod Moore himself, who held the rank of 9th Grade, and Thomas D. Harrington, also with the rank of 9th Grade. This omission is all the more remarkable in light of the fact that by constitution there could only be three living members of the Society at any one time with the rank of 9th Grade. J. Ross Robertson soon afterward became a member of the Dominion College. Robert Ramsay in 1879, transferred to the Ontario College at Orillia.
According to records in the High Council in England, the High Council in Canada six months later consisted of W.J.B. McLeod Moore (Supreme Magus-President holding the 9th Grade, Thomas D. Harrington (Senior Substitute Magus, Vice-President), and George C. Longley (Junior Substitute Magus) all holding the 9th Grade; while holding the 8th Grade were A.G. Hervey (Treasurer-General), J. Dumbrille (Secretary-General), R.R. Hervey (1st Ancient), D. Collins (2nd Ancient), S.B. Harman (3rd Ancient), and John Easton (4th Ancient).
Moore of Canada and Pike of the United States in their correspondence discussed the matter of ritual. Moore admitted that the rituals for the different Grades he had seen were, in his words, “very poor affairs.” Prince Rhodokanakis in a letter to Pike was of a like mind about the rituals, writing:
“For myself, I found the rituals so full of nonsense that I returned them and used none whatever. I have tried to give the Society a sort of literary form and to connect it as nearly as possible with Hermeticism.11 You are aware that the Rosicrucian order of which we are Supreme Magi pretends to represent the older fraternity of the Rose Croix which flourished the first fifteen years of the 17th century. If you could yourself write Rituals for the various degrees of Rosicrucianism, having as a basis the old ceremonies of the Order, the present Order would owe a debt of great gratitude to you.”
In a letter to McLeod Moore from John Yarker of the Society in England, dated April 27, 1876, we get an idea of the relationship between the Society in England and the Society in Greece and Canada. I quote from Voorhis history:
“It is but fair to inform you that the English Society of Rosicrucians hold under no warrant and have no authority to start the rite other than what (authority) you would have yourselves. We have a very excellent College in Lancashire but we have twice arranged to break off altogether from the London College as it’s entirely in the hands of those who will not attend to its affairs.”
There is evidence that the Society was active in Ontario as late as May 17, 1886. It must have been active beyond this date, because correspondence exists between Albert Pike and McLeod Moore discussing the affairs of the Society in Ontario as late as 1889.
The S.R.I.A. and the S.R.I.C.F.
Presently there are two distinct and separate Societies of Masonic Rosicrucians in Ontario, the American Masonic Rosicrucian Society and the English Masonic Rosicrucian Society. They are formally and respectively designated as the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, also referred to as the S.R.I.A., which is the English Society, and the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, referred to as the S.R.I.C.F., which is the American Society.
Each jurisdiction of a Masonic Rosicrucian Society is governed by a High Council, or Grand High Council, headed by a Supreme Magus who is a Third Order Rosicrucian of the IXo, which is the highest grade that can be conferred by the Society.
The High Council is like a Grand Lodge and charters what are known as Colleges instead of Lodges. The head of a College is called the Chief Adept who upon appointment receives the IX°. The High Council of the S.R.I.C.F. is situated in the city of Washington, D.C. It has warranted one College in Canada, the Ontario College, which meets in Toronto, the Chief Adept of which I have the honor of being.
The English Masonic Rosicrucian Society, the S.R.I.A., was founded by Masonic Rosicrucians of Scotland. They conferred the various grades upon Bro. Robert Wentworth Little on the first of June, 1867, essentially giving him their support to become the first head of a Supreme Council of England.
The Rosicrucian Society of England held its inaugural meeting at the Grand Hotel, Aldermanbury, London on the 1st of June, 1867, at which Bro. Little was elected Master-General and Supreme Magus. Later the title Master-General was dropped and the Head of the Council simply referred to as Supreme Magus. This was contrary to the Scottish precedent, in which the head of the Council was simply referred to as Magus. Since only a IX° could become Supreme Magus and Bro. Little was the only Mason in England to have had the IX° conferred on him, he was the only Freemason at the inaugural meeting eligible to become Supreme Magus.
The London College was autonomous as was the Edinburgh College. They were independent and completely autonomous. There was no attempt to make one subordinate to the other. For the first few years the Society was the College and the College was the Society.
As a result of some inter-order rivalry, the London College, S.R.I.A., made a move that was to change the nature of the Society and mark a departure from the Scottish model of independent and autonomous colleges. Permission was given by Bro. Little and his Council to a Capt. Francis George Irwin to constitute a subordinate College at Bristol, restricted to 12 members, including himself as Chief Adept. This is the first instance in which the rank of Chief Adept was conferred. His name is recorded as “Capt. F.G. Irwin, CA.”
There is no mention in the rules or ordinances of the title of Chief Adept and no record of the matter ever having been discussed. We have no idea where the title comes from. Neither were the authority and functions of a Chief Adept defined anywhere.
In 1869 the Bristol College is called the Provincial College of Bristol and Provincial By-laws are framed, a copy filed with the High Council. This set of by-laws became the model for all subsequent Colleges.
In 1967 the first S.R.I.A. College in Canada received its Warrant as the Michael Maier College. Bro. Charlie Fotheringham had been invited to join the Society in 1947, but was unable to take the grades before leaving for Canada. In 1966, by special dispensation, he received the degrees necessary to begin a College in Canada. An inaugural meeting of interested Brethren was held on the 5th of February at the Castle Inn in Kitchener, Ontario. Thus began the S.R.I.A. in Canada.
Fotheringham returned to England in June to attend a special Convocation of the Metropolitan College for the purpose of Consecrating the Michael Maier College. Later that same day Fotheringham was duly Installed as Celebrant of the Michael Maier College. The first meeting of the newly Consecrated College was held at Woodstock on the 23rd of August, 1967. A representative of the Supreme Magus, Frater Stanley Wilkinson, High Councilor for the York College journeyed to Canada to confer the appropriate grades on the Officers of the College after they had been appointed.
The next year, 1968, Fotheringham was appointed Suffragan of the Province of Ontario, while the Supreme Magus remained its Chief Adept. Fotheringham was also appointed High Councilor for the Michael Maier College.
In 1970, Frater Gordon Stuart, IIo, was appointed Acolyte, and in 1972 he was appointed Herald. To prepare him to head a new College to be formed at Toronto, Frater Stuart was advanced to the Second Order in 1973 and was elected Celebrant of the Toronto College, later becoming Chief Adept.
The principal founders of the Toronto College, Warranted the 25th May, 1973, were Fraters Charles Fotheringham, Gordon H. Stuart and Peter Maydan.
The College first met at the Orange Hall in Cooksville, then the Orange Hall in Toronto and now meets at the Renforth Masonic Building in Etobicoke.
This College has a format of its own. Prior to the regular meeting and conferring of grades, the Fraters meet to dine together and, before going to the Lodge room, to discuss a paper prepared and presented by a member of the College. Copies of these papers are forwarded to London.
On the 29th of August, 1979, Frater J.H. Emerson, Recorder-General, visited the College as Commissioner representing the Supreme Magus. Present at this meeting were R.W. Frater James Campbell, Chief Adept of the Ontario College, S.R.I.C.F., and R.W. Frater E. Horwood, Suffragan.
At this same meeting the Supreme Magus decided to change the boundaries of the Province of Canada and form a new Province of Ontario. Frater Stuart was Installed as Chief Adept and Frater Maydan as his Suffragan. Attending this same meeting was R.W. Frater Philip Birchist, Secretary-General of S.R.I.C.F. in the U.S.A. and Grand Maser of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. He had previously Installed Frater Stuart as an Honorary member of the S.R.I.C.F., 9o.
There is no evidence of a Warrant being granted to the English Society by the Scottish Rosicrucian Society. It must have been self-constituted simply by virtue of Bro. Little having been appointed to the IXo. Also, in the beginning the title “Brother” was used, not “Frater.”
Since we are discussing Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario, I will only touch on these other bodies as they are connected to Masonic Rosicrucianism in Ontario.
In the S.R.I.A. the Chief Adept is the first officer of a Province while the Celebrant is responsible for conducting the meetings of the College. There can be several Colleges within a Province.
In the S.R.I.C.F. there are no Provinces and the principal officer and head of each College is a Chief Adept.
The S.R.I.A. is unique among their Colleges by virtue of their interest in scholarship. They have committed themselves to building a collection of books on Rosicrucianism and related subjects. They also have a meeting prior to each regular Convocation in which Fraters who are interested gather to dine and to hear a paper delivered by one of the Fraters.
The S.R.I.C.F. is unique in similar respects. Unlike the Toronto College, S.R.I.A., the Ontario College, S.R.I.C.F., does not perform ritual or ceremonial conferring of grades. Members dine; afterwards they conduct a brief business meeting and then attend to a paper prepared by one of the Fraters. The reading of the paper is then followed by discussion, each Frater in turn having an opportunity to respond to and to comment on the paper. To allow opportunity for everyone to participate in the discussion the number of members of the College is deliberately kept low. The number of members to be admitted to the College is not regulated by any by-law, but a matter of precedent only.
In the S.R.I.C.F., as in the S.R.I.A., advancement is a prerogative of the Chief Adept, except for the appointment of Chief Adept, which is the prerogative of the Supreme Magus. The only criterion for advancement in the lower grades within the College is by presenting papers. As I have said, advancement is at the pleasure of the Chief Adept , except for the Eighth and Ninth Grades, which are appointments made by the Supreme Magus. The Chief Adept of a College is appointed for life. The Supreme Magus is elected for a five year term. In the S.R.I.A. the Supreme Magus is elected for life. All other officers of the Ontario College S.R.I.C.F. are elected annually by the Fraters of the College.
More About the S.R.I.C.F. and Its Beginnings
The Supreme College for the United States was warranted May 17, 1880 by Frater William James Bury McLeod Moore, whom Pike describes as the “Supreme Magus of the Rosicrucian Society of Canada.”
Only three Fraters, all of the Ninth Grade, seemed to have been needed to establish a Supreme Council. The number could be increased to five, seven or nine. The number of Honorary Magi were not to exceed Sixteen, each one to be elected by unanimous vote.
How active was the Society in Canada in the 1800’s? We don’t know. Neither do we know when it ceased to be active. Most official documents, which were stored at the La Prairie Barracks, were destroyed in a fire.
The three Magi who founded the first Canadian Society were prominent Canadian Freemasons. Colonel William James Bury McLeod Moore was initiated into Freemasonry at 17 years of age in 1827 in Aberdeen, Scotland. He served in the office of the Supreme Grand Master of Knights Templar of Canada. Born at Kildare, Ireland in 1819, Moore died in Prescott, Ontario on August 31, 1890. He was a Scottish Rite Mason, being made in 1868 an active member of the Supreme Council of England and Wales.
Another member of the first Canadian Society was Thomas Douglas Harrington. Born in Windsor in 1808, he also died in Prescott, Ontario in 1882. He served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada and as Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Canada from 1874 to 1882.
George Channing Longley, another charter member, was born in Maitland in 1827 and died in Toronto in 1885. He was the first Chief Adept of Dominion College No. 1. He was received into Freemasonry in Ogdensburg, New York in 1852 and was elected a 33rd degree Mason in the Thompson Scottish Rite Body in New York City. That same year he was made the first Sovereign Grand Commander of the Canadian branch of the Scottish Rite.
Following the death Colonel Moore, a Frater Daniel Spri became Supreme Magus of the Canadian Society. He also was a Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada. We have no solid evidence that the Society was active later than May 17, 1886.
The American Masonic Rosicrucian Society, the S.R.I.C.F., is not to be confused with the Societas Rosicruciana in America. The latter is a non-profit organization incorporated in New York in 1909. Its membership is not restricted to Freemasons.
M.W. Wm. G. Peacher, M.D. IXo, while he was Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.C.F., gave a paper to the Southern California Research Lodge to clarify among his Masonic Brethren some misunderstandings which he felt were wide-spread among Freemasons. Peacher claimed that the S.R.I.C.F. was formed on September 21, 1880 by three Colleges chartered by the Society in Scotland. He also claimed that the S.R.I.C.F. was then and continues to be entirely autonomous and in no way connected with any other institution. He gives no evidence for these claims.
In 1987, while Peacher was still Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.C.F., he published a paper which I delivered to the Ontario College on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. Here I argue that the founding of the S.R.I.C.F. was connected with the Society in Canada through the auspices of Colonel McLeod Moore and Prince Rhodokanakis of Greece.
The S.R.I.C.F. (the American Society) is presently at amity with the S.R.I.A. (the English Society) and the S.R.I.S. (the Scottish Society). There was an eight-year period in which the S.R.I.A. and the S.R.I.C.F. were not at amity. This rift was mended when R.W. Frater Jim Campbell, Chief Adept of the Ontario College S.R.I.C.F. was made an Honorary 9o of the S.R.I.A. and R.W. Gordon Stuart of the Toronto College S.R.I.A. was made an Honorary 9o of the S.R.I.C.F..
Membership in the Society is by invitation only, restricted to Freemasons in good standing. Some Masonic Rosicrucian Societies require in addition that membership be restricted to those of the Christian Faith. But not all are this restrictive.The Society is not merely another degree of Freemasonry. There is no requirement that a candidate for admission to the S.R.I.C.F. sign any form proclaiming allegiance to the Christian faith.
The Masonic qualification, that is, restricting membership only to those who are Freemasons in good standing, is intended to give assurance that fidelity and privacy will characterize the conduct of its members. The Christian qualification is desirable because the character of the rituals is based on Christian mysticism and Hermeticism.
The governance of the Society resides in a body known as The High Council, composed of Fraters of the Third Order (Eighth and Ninth Grades). The head of the Society is given the title Supreme Magus IX°.
The subordinate bodies are called Colleges, each headed by a Chief Adept IXo, who is appointed for life by the Supreme Magus. The number of members in a College is restricted to 72. New members must select a distinctive Latin Motto and may not belong to any non-Masonic Rosicrucian organization. As mentioned earlier, the S.R.I.A. in Canada also has Provinces, headed by a Suffragan. The S.R.I.C.F. has no such division. It has simply a High Council and Colleges.
Masons in the United States, having learned about the development of Masonic Rosicrucianism in England and Scotland, became interested as early as 1878 in bringing the movement in the United States. A Dr. Jonathan French was granted a Charter to organize a College in Illinois. Unfortunately, he died soon thereafter and the College did not survive without his leadership.
In July, 1878, three Brethren from the Mary Commandery No. 36 of Knights Templar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on a pilgrimage to England with other members of the Commandery, were admitted to the Zealator degree in Yorkshire College. One other member was subsequently admitted to the Metropolitan College, London.
These four Brethren constituted the nucleus for the Pennsylvania College which received a charter from the Masonic Rosicrucian Society in Scotland, December 27, 1879.
Other charters were soon afterwards granted to establish Colleges in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Vermont. Members from Philadelphia and New York met in Philadelphia in April, 1889 and formed a Grand High Council, which they then called the Societas Rosicruciana Republica Americae. In September, 1880, nineteen members of the newly formed Grand High Council met in Boston, electing Charles E. Meyer from the Pennsylvania College as the first Supreme Magus. The Massachusetts College is the only College which has been continuously active since its institution. The others were cleared from the books and subsequently reorganized and reinstituted.
The First and Second Order Grades are conferred by the Chief Adept of the College. The Third Order is conferred by the Supreme Magus. The Ninth Grade is the Grade of Magus and the jewel is a miter and red ribbon.
The official publication of the Society is The Rosicrucian Fama, first published in 1951. Fifty issues appeared between 1951 and 1979. Then, only one in 1984 and one in 1985. Since February, 1986 the Fama has been published twice yearly. The See of the Supreme Council is in Washington, D.C.
There are 26 Colleges in 25 States. There is one College at large for members in states and countries without Colleges. There is one College in Canada, Ontario College at Toronto, Province of Ontario.
There are two Colleges in the Far East: Hong Kong College at Hong Kong, and Okinawa College in Okinawa, Prefecture of Japan. These have recently surrendered their charters at the request of the High Council. The intention is to encourage Masonic Rosicrucians in jurisdictions outside the United States to form their own national High Councils.
Only 11 Colleges confer the grades one through seven in full form. There are currently (in 1995 at the time of the preparation of this document) more than 1200 members on the roster of the High Council, S.R.I.C.F., including Colleges outside the United States.
At the regular annual meeting of the High Council, S.R.I.C.F., in Washington, D.C. in February, which I attended as Chief Adept of the Ontario College, the Council moved to that all Colleges outside territorial United States surrender their charters and establish their own national bodies. At the time of the delivery of this paper, the Ontario College is still under charter from the SRICF.
It is 120 years since Masonic Rosicrucianism had its first College in Ontario. In Rosicrucian circles the number 120 has special significance. Legend has established that 120 years elapsed between the burial of Rosencreutz and the discovery of the Vault of Rosencreutz. Moses is supposed to have died on lonely Mount Nebo at the symbolic age of 120 years, his sepulchre unknown. Is it time to form a distinctively Canadian Masonic Rosicrucian Society?
The idea of a national Society being instituted by a Council of three, as it was in Canada in 1876, is a Rosicrucian tradition dating back to the Great Council of Three of 1842, composed of Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer and Thomas Paine, who was later succeeded by Lafayette.
Rites and Ceremonies
According to Voorhis, whose history I have already mentioned, the Metropolitan College, which was founded in 1866 in London, England, we have no evidence of any rituals of any grade higher than the second.
McLeod Moore, Supreme Magus of the Canadian College, under warrant from H.I.H. Prince Rhodokanakis of Greece, in a letter from Frater Whytehead of York College England, learns that the York College has only the first and second rituals and the Supreme Magus of the College, as he phrases it, “seems to have lost sight of some of the grades.” He adds the following information: “they were first got from Germany, I (meaning Frater Whytehead) believe, by the late Bro. Wentworth Little, who founded the English Order.”
H.I.H. Prince Rhodokanakis, in a letter to Frater Pike of the United States, alludes to rituals in his possession. He disparages them, writing, “for myself, I found the rituals so full of nonsense that I returned them and used none whatever.”
He had a different approach to Masonic Rosicrucianism. As mentioned elsewhere in this paper, he wanted to give the society “a sort of literary form and to connect it as nearly as possible with Hermeticism.” This, he considered truer to what he refers to as “the older fraternity of the Rose Croix which flourished the first fifteen years of the 17th century.”
His negative opinion of the ritual notwithstanding, Prince Rhodokanakis in this same letter encourages Pike to put his hand to writing rituals. He recommends basing them on the old ceremonies of the 17th century Order of the Rose Croix. He also recommends that he get in touch with Moore to assist him in this task.
Frater Moore writes to Pike sanctioning him to make any changes and amendments and to do with the rituals whatever he wants, with the following restriction. He is not to increase or eliminate the number of grades, or alter the names of the grades.
Frater Pike did write a set of regulations governing the Order. He called them Regulae, or Rules of the Rosicrucian Society of the United States of America, rules which are still observed by the members of the Ontario College, S.R.I.C.F..
The first rule acknowledges that the Society is independent and created upon its own foundation. The second rule acknowledges that it is not Masonic, that its field of study and activities are far wider than Freemasonry. It is Masonic only in the sense that it selects its members from among Masons exclusively.
Under the heading of “purposes”, Pike proposes that the purpose of the Society is “to unite in one organization a limited number of thoughtful and studious Masons, who would study the ancient human thought in old books of the Orient, and the ancient Holy Doctrine concealed in the works of the Adepts, on Magic and Hermeticism.
The studies are to be published as papers shedding light on these subjects. The symbols of Masonry, and the truths they represent, are also specifically mentioned in these Rules as proper objects of study for Masonic Rosicrucians.
Especially important, because it reflects an enlightenment mentality, is the rule which ascribes to the Society the following purpose: “to assert and vindicate the right of men in every land to think, speak and write freely, according to their convictions, upon matters of religious faith and creed.”
Moreover the Society is to consist only of those who believe that there is a God and the human soul is immortal.
The rules commend its members to establish and maintain ties of real Brotherhood among the members, “with utter disregard of differences of creed or party.” The society is to draw its membership wholly from “gentlemen who are persons of intelligence, good social position and education.”
The Ontario College, S.R.I.C.F., can be characterized as operating within the framework of Pike’s Rules.
Rosicrucianism As Masonic
The Masonic Rosicrucian Societies are superficially Masonic in the sense that only Freemason can belong.
It is Masonic in another sense, by being a progressive science, that is, the member advances by being passed through different grades, viz. degrees.
The Society is composed of nine Classes or Grades forming three Orders. The First Order consists of four Grades: Zealator; Theoricus; Practicus; and Philosophus. These are the first, second, third and fourth grades respectively.
The Second Order consists of Adeptus Junior, Major and Exemptus. These are the fifth, sixth and seventh grades respectively.
The Third Order consists of Magister Templi and Magus. These are the eighth and ninth Grades respectively.
What’s Rosicrucian About Masonic Rosicrucianism?
This is a difficult question to answer simply. Is it a set of beliefs? Is it a peculiar teaching about the meaning of life? Is it a society of those seeking truth and liberation from all that is superficial and shallow in the affairs of men? Is it a form of mysticism? Is it an attempt to correlate science and religion? The answer is a qualified yes to all these questions.
Some believe that Rosicrucianism originated as such in Germany in 1378, and so named after Christian Rosencreutz (Rosencreutz meaning Rosy Cross). He is said to have been a great spiritual leader and mystic. That such a person existed has been widely disputed and there is no solid evidence that such a person ever existed. He seems to have been simply an allegorical figure.
While the existence of such a figure is highly and justifiably questionable, the existence of a Rosicrucian movement having its beginnings as such in Germany at the time of the Enlightenment in Europe is well established. The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia is believed by some to be an offshoot among Freemasons of this movement.
What is there about the Rosicrucian movement that would be attractive to Freemasons? Let me be controversial. I believe that Freemasonry would be a place where enlightenment-minded men could find refuge for their ideas and a vehicle for discussing those ideas. Among those attracted to the enlightenment movement were some of the most extraordinarily accomplished men of art, literature, science, philosophy and religion of the time. Truth, beauty, freedom and tolerance were their passionate pursuits.
They were reaching out beyond religion for age-old wisdom through the study of the mysteries of nature and science. They tended to be mystics and gnostics. Their highest aspiration was enlightenment, both in a material sense and in a spiritual sense.
For me, the essence of Rosicrucianism is not contained in its ritual, ceremonies and grades. It is essentially a meeting of minds for the purpose of stimulating study, reflection and the exploration of those realms of thought beyond the pale of limited, institutionalized religion and science. For me, the spirit of Rosicrucianism is best exemplified in the Hermetic axiom that “All Is One and One is All.”
Rosicrucianism embraces Biblical, Hermetic, Alchemic and Cabalistic teachings. It covers mental science in all its forms; it is philosophical in its less abstract form and metaphysical in its most abstract expression. The study of cosmology and evolution are attractive to its devotees.
I would argue that a Rosicrucianism with a focus simply on ritual and ceremony is indeed very Masonic in character, but is incidental to the essence of Rosicrucianism itself. Ceremony by itself is not empowering to the individual. The purpose of such a focus would be to empower institutions. What is truly empowering, however, is knowledge, especially knowledge gained through study, discipline, and the interchange of ideas in a free, tolerant, non-oppressive society of like-minded fellows.
Dr. Wm. G. Peacher in his talk to the Southern California Research Lodge, F. & A.M., describes the objects of the society as follows:
- to obtain verified truth in place of traditional error, for the purpose of reconciling any apparent discrepancies between history, myths, legends, philosophy, and science as embraced in the study of Freemasonry;
- to facilitate the study of the system of philosophy founded upon the Cabala and the doctrines of Hermes Trismegistus, and to investigate the meaning and symbolism of all that now remains of the wisdom, art, and literature of the ancient world;
- to create a base for the collection and deposit of archaeological and historical subjects pertaining to Freemasonry and Secret Societies, and other interesting matter;
- to draw within a common bond men of scientific inclination, and authors who have been engaged in these investigations, and, as well, those interested in them, …that Freemasonry may be rendered free from the apparently gross contradictions within itself, its sciences and historical myths;
- to promote scientific and philosophical investigations, either by published papers on subjects read and discussed within the Society, or by lectures sponsored by the Society.
One has to remember that Rosicrucianism appealed to the literati of the times. It was a child of the enlightenment and espoused freedom of mind and conscience at a time when ecclesiastical hierarchies were counter-enlightenment.
As an aside, I would like to mention two books that might appeal to the student of contemporary enlightenment issues. One is by Dame Frances A. Yates, a renowned Oxford Renaissance historian; her book is entitled The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, and subtitled “The Renaissance’s mystic and secret dawn of knowledge.” She maintains that members of the movement were considerably influential in international politics, especially at the opening of the Thirty Years War. She puts key figures of science, like Descartes, Bacon, Kepler, and Newton, in a new perspective, making their thought processes appear less modern and less like our own.
The other book is a published series of CBC talks, part of the CBC Massey Lectures Series, by the accomplished Irish statesman and man of letters Conor Cruise O’Brien, who identifies what he considers to be contemporary threats to the Enlightenment tradition – threats which he feels are escalating as we approach the millennium. The main threat he proposes is the communications revolution of the second half of this century, spawning what he considers to be degenerative tendencies to intellectual life, like the political correctness and multiculturalism movements in the academies. The book is entitled On the Eve of the Millennium.
Simply stated in his own words, he theorizes that by the turn of the century “the advanced world may well be like, and feel like, a closed and guarded palace, in a city gripped by the plague.”14 This certainly would be the sentiment of a Rosicrucian-minded thinker. I am not suggesting the O’Brien is connected with or knowledgeable about Rosicrucianism. He may be. I just don’t know.
The object of Rosicrucian study is most assuredly human nature and the perfection and improvement of that nature through diligent study and service so that the individual is transformed from a state of nature to a state of grace.
Where Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry have common ground is in their regard for truth and selflessness in the service of humanity. Rosicrucianism differs from Freemasonry in one very important respect: Rosicrucians are expected to be engaged in healing work without fee or material compensation of any kind. In a sense this is also an implicit obligation which Freemasons undertake through their benevolence work, but not directly in the way a Rosicrucian is obligated.
Other similarities between Freemasonry and Masonic Rosicrucianism are a commitment to the establishment of the Brotherhood of Man, the espousal of service to God and country, and the objective of helping the individual to advance in his appreciation of the Divine or governing law. Both teach the Fatherhood of God and the immortality of the soul.
Rosicrucianism came to the attention of the public through the publication in 1614 and 1615 of two documents: the Fama and the Confessio, and the publication of an alchemical romance written by Johann Valentin Andreae entitled The Chymical Wedding, published following the appearance of the Fama and the Confessio, in 1616.
These are the documents that one would have to study to gain a greater understanding of the nature, objects and aims of Rosicrucianism.
At the request of the R.W. Dr. James Campbell XI°, Chief Adept of the Ontario College S.R.I.C.F. from 1964-1984, R.W. Maarten van Wamelen, VIII°, then Secretary of the College, prepared a paper which was read at the Convocation of the College held on October 17, 1984 on the objects of the Societas Rosicruciana. The paper and discussion led to several observations are worth noting for an understanding of the uniqueness of this particular College. Much of this uniqueness, of course, is a mark of the gentle direction given by the Chief Adepts of the College, in particular Dr. James Campbell, and the two Secretaries of the College, Fraters Harry Wilson and Maarten van Wamelen.
In correspondence dated August 28, 1984, Frater Campbell encourages Frater van Wamelen to read his paper at the next Convocation of the Ontario College. In this letter, Frater Campbell describes it as “a valuable and important paper, which should provide much food for thought and active discussion,” and further writes to him: “I wish to congratulate you and express my sincere thanks for (your) fine contribution to our work in this field of Masonic Rosicrucianism. It (the paper will) give us a guide to the nature of the art and how we can best promote it.”
We must not conclude from the Chief Adept’s remarks that all members of the Ontario College were in complete agreement about the objects of Masonic Rosicrucianism. To generate consensus, it is well to remind ourselves, has never been the aim of the discussions. Frater Campbell summarized his reaction to the paper in a way which I believe best captures the spirit of this particular Rosicrucian College, to quote:
“Fascinating as are the thoughts and influences that brought about the formation and ideas of Rosicrucianism, I do not believe that we should be confined in our thoughts and explorations to the seventeenth century. It would appear that the Divine influences were active and pervasive at that time in a peculiarly potent way. I do not believe, however, that these influences ceased at that moment. I believe that these Divine influences have been continuously and fruitfully active in mankind since then to the present and that they will continue into the future.”
“I believe, therefore, that we have a right and indeed an obligation to bring our thoughts and knowledge into the present day and to make these thoughts as potent and competent as we are able through the use of all available and proper means. Nor do I agree that there should be a limitation to the scope or depth of enquiry. In my view, the nature, scholarship and validity of the enquiry are of great importance.”
“It seems on cursory examination that the Objects of Masonic Rosicrucianism are somewhat confining as compared to those of Rosicrucianism in general.”
“This, however, is a matter of interpretation, which can vary. Masonry claims to be a progressive science and therefore one feels that limitation is not one of the purposes of the Objectives (of Rosicrucianism).”
“It also appears…that we should not allow our penchant for mysticism and the occult to interfere with the progression of knowledge and ideas. The controversy between Robert Fludd and Johannes Kepler is an example of this. ”
“I am therefore of the opinion that in our work in the Ontario College we should be free to make it as wide as is appropriate and that we should strive to make it as competent and powerful as possible.”
And with these words of Dr. Campbell, a beloved colleague, friend and mentor, I conclude this paper.
T.M. Greensill, History of the S.R.I.A. Broad Oak Press, Cambridge, England, 1987.
Bernard Grun, The Timetables of History. A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1979.
Conor Cruise O’Brien, On the Eve of the Millennium. Canadian Broadcasting Co., Toronto, Canada, 1994.
Laurence Urdang, Ed., The Timetables of American History. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1981.
Harold V.B. Voorhis, Masonic Rosicrucian Societies. Henry Emerson, New York,1958
Francis Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. Routledge & Kegan Paul, New York, l972.
Timetable of Events in Early 17th Century
Clearly, at the time when Rosicrucianism surfaced in Europe some rather remarkable changes were taking place. Freedom of thought and religion were not encouraged. New sciences were being formulated: astronomy, chemistry. New concepts in banking and trade were being developed. America was being colonized, the far east was being opened to the western adventurer and trader.
Giordano Bruno burned as heretic in Rome (1600)
Persecution of Catholics in Sweden under Charles IX (1600)
Harps used in orchestras (1600)
Recorder (flute-a-bec) becomes popular in England (1600)
Thycho Brahe and Johann Kepler work together in Prague (1600)
English East India Company founded (1600)
Dutch opticians invent the telescope (1600)
Barium sulfide is discovered (1602)
Dutch East India Company founded (1602)
Spanish traders admitted to eastern Japan (1602)
Heavy outbreak of plague in England (1603)
Don Quixote, Part I, is published (1605)
Sir Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605)
First public library in Rome is founded (1605)
Works by Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, Thomas Campion, John Donne are being published in this period 1600-1610.
Galileo invents the proportional compass (1605)
Galileo constructs astronomical telescope (1608)
First checks are used in Netherlands (1608)
Catholic League of German princes formed at Munich against Protestant Union of 1608 (1609)
The Emperor Rudolf II permits freedom of religion in Bohemia (1608)
Hugo Grotius publishes a book advocating the freedom of the sea (1608)
Tea from China shipped for the first time (1609)
Bank of Amsterdam founded (1609)
First text book in chemistry published (1610)
King James Bible published (1611)
University of Rome founded (1611)
Last recorded burning of heretics in England (1612)
Galileo faces the Inquisition for the first time (1615)
Catholic oppression intensified in Bohemia (1616)
Galileo is prohibited from further scientific work (1616)
Royal College of Physicians, London, issues first pharmacopoeia (1618)
John Harvey announces discovery of the circulation of the blood (1619)
Johann Kepler’s book on Copernicus is banned by the Roman Catholic Church (1621)