For what we do presage is riot in grosse,
For we are brethren of the Rosie Crosse;
We have the Mason Word and second sight,
Things for to come we can foretell aright.
— Henry Adamson, The Muses’ Threnodie (1638)
Our journey with the Graces, specifically Thalia, continues, as She guides us through the magical garden. We are currently visiting with the Queen of the Garden, the rose.
The intertwining of the rose into European Christian magical traditions can be seen through its role in secret societies like the Rosicrucians.
The Rosicrucians (literally, the Rose or Rosey Cross) were an extremely secret society of mystic philosopher-scientists that revealed themselves in late medieval Germany. Their true origins are the subject of much controversy, with their manifestos claiming a lineage of esoteric knowledge dating back to the ancient civilizations. It is also a matter of scholarly debate as to whether those claiming modern-day ties to the Rosicrucian society are actually linked to the early 17th century one.
Some claim that the society of the “Golden and Rosey Cross” was created in the year 46 C.E. when an Gnostic sage from Alexandria, Egypt named Ormus and his six followers were converted by one of Jesus’ original disciples, Mark. Their symbol was said to be a red cross surmounted by a rose, thus the designation of Rosey Cross. From this, Rosicrucianism was supposedly born, as a blending of the ancient Egyptian mysteries with the new teachings of early Christianity.
Remember, of course, that since ancient Rome, the rose had been a symbol of perilous secrecy. Thus, in addition to its representation of Christ’s blood and other spiritual meanings, the rose was central to this group of medieval alchemists, sages and magicians, whose need for concealment was imperative.
This is understandable, given their thirst for knowledge not sanctioned by the Church as well as their ties to the Gnostic and Albegensian heresies during the treacherous times of the Inquisition. Indeed, the presence of a rose upon the escutcheon of Martin Luther has been the basis of much speculation as to his connection to the secret activities of the Rose Cross.
The Martin Luther Rose seal
Generally, though, according to the available records, the “Brothers of the Rose Cross” are believed to have lived quietly, laboring industriously and anonymously in trades and professions, disclosing their secret affiliation to no one — in many cases not even to their own families.
In addition to possibly being at the heart of the paradigm shift that was the Reformation in Europe, the brethren of the Rose Cross had an enormous impact on Freemasonry, and later, occult groups like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Thus, we’ll see how the rose continues to play an important role in esoteric and magical traditions to this very day.