The rose has a long heritage as a symbol of these powerful secret societies that many believe have ruled or influenced European and American history for centuries. Despite the Inquisition, we know that Freemasonry quietly spread throughout Europe.
And while the Rosicrucians seem to have disappeared during the 19th century, some say it simply went into complete secrecy, or became so blended with the Masons that it became impossible to differentiate them.
In any case, during the 16th through 19th centuries, and even to the present day, these shadowy organizations have had enormous influence on shaping the history of Europe and the colonies. In fact, many of the founding fathers of the American Revolution were members of the Fraternity Rosae Crucis.
That is, the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross.
In 1774, the great Council of Three (the Fraternity’s ultimate governing body) was composed of Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer and Thomas Paine. Paine was later succeeded by Lafayette, who, like Benjamin Franklin, was a member of the Paris Rosicrucian lodge “Humanidad.”
I will leave the political legacy of these groups to other authors, for there are countless theories, studies and opinions about how these mystical groups have held the real reins of power in the Western world for centuries.
But for our purposes, let us examine the context of the times prior to the Industrial Revolution. The rich cauldron of magic, science, alchemy, medicine and astrology was a blend that simmered together harmoniously for millennia. It did so in medieval and Renaissance Europe despite, or perhaps especially fueled by, the Roman Church’s extreme measures to stamp out nonconformist thought and research.
It was only much later that these esoteric studies separated, with some becoming revered in the “modern” sensibilities, others being demoted to questionable or suspect. Yet the ties between the mystical arts and the science of rational skepticism are deep.
Next week, we’ll focus on our magical inheritance from those mystical adepts of the rose.