The “Arabic” Parts of the Original Rosicrucian Documents
“Yearly there came something to light, whereby the Mathematica, Physic and Magic (for in those are they of the Fez most skillful) were amended; as there is nowadays in Germany no want of learned Men, Magicians, Cabalists, Physicians, and Philosophers, were there but more love and kindness among them, or that the most part of them would not keep their secrets close only to themselves.”
— The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of R: C:
Translated by Thomas Vaughn (Eugenius Philalethes 1652)
In the following discussion the original Rosicrucian documents entitled The Fama Fraternitatis R.C.; The Confessio Fraternitatis R.C.; and The Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz (The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz), will be examined in light of the consistent and essential references to Islamic gnosis found in these texts.1 By turns the Islamic references are essential to the development of the character and history of the founder of the fraternal Order, and are also conversely employed to stand in opposition to the post-reformation Christian doctrinal and alchemystically occult flavor of the documents as manifestoes.
The Fama Fraternitatis
The exact date of the original publication of the first Rosicrucian document to surface publicly, The Fama Fraternitatis, will likely forever remain a mystery, inasmuch as different sources claim authority on this subject.2 In all probability the date was 1614 or thereabouts when the Fama first appeared in a German edition.
The Fama is primarily an account of the long life of Christian Rosencreutz (1378 – 1484) including his travels and adventures culminating in the foundation of the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century.
As a young man Christian Rosencreutz accompanied Brother P.A.L., a Christian monk of the cloister in which he was placed as an orphan, on a trip to the Holy Lands. Unfortunately Brother P.A.L. died in Cyprus en route. The young pilgrim determined to go on alone, by way of “Damasco” (Damascus) where he became ill.
Damascus was the final destination for the pivotal thirteenth century Islamic sufi master and alchemist Ibn’ Arabi,3 and later the ecstatic sufi poet al-Iraqi. The city has enjoyed an enduring and well-deserved reputation as a place of mystic initiation within the Islamic community and beyond.
The sixteen-year-old Christian Rosencreutz apparently recuperated and remained in Damascus where “by his skill in Physik he obtained much favour with the Turks.” He also became acquainted with the “Wise men of Damasco in Arabia” who treat him not as a stranger, but as one expected.4 Clearly there is a relationship between this passage concerning the expected coming of Christian Rosencreutz by the “Wise men” and the Magi who prophesied the birth of Christ. Soon there “Wise men” are shown to openly share their secrets5 with others of their kind in a yearly meeting of the minds.
Young Christian is so enamored of the brotherhood of these Islamic adepts and their Naturphilosophie, that he abandoned the pilgrimage to Jerusalem initially undertaken with Brother P.A.L., to instead remain for three years in Damascus. During his stay he developed his learning according to the arts of these “Wise men,” (we must assume from what is said) including mathematics, magic, cabala, medicine, philosophy, alchemy, and a study of the Arabic language which allowed him to translate the fabled Book M6 from the Arabic tongue into Latin.
From before the time of its formalization into a written text, the Qu’ran, the revelation of God’s word to Muhammad, has been taught in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed to the prophet. This is as true today as it would have been during C.R.’s stay in Damascus. It must therefore be assumed that he was taught Arabic by the masters he encountered in order to read the Qu’ran in the uncorrupted original, especially since later on in the Fama we encounter a reference to Christian’s exposure to Islamic cabala, which is of course derived from al-Qu’ran. There is a tradition which states that the Qu’ran, as revealed to Muhammad by God’s angel Jabriel (Gabriel), derives thus from the Holy Tablet, the Mother (Umma) of the Book. Muhammad was regarded as one who is “unlettered” (Ummi), or illiterate, a pure vessel for the holy revelation.
After three years of study, Christian Rosencreutz then made a botanical and anthropological tour of the area, landing for a time in Egypt, and staying for two years in Fez where his Arabian masters directed him.
In Fez he encountered the same universalist attitude towards knowledge shared among adepts he found in Damascus, Africa, and by inference, the entire community of esoteric Islam, the various Sufi Orders. Fez, like Damascus, enjoys a long tradition as a center of mysticism and arcane learning.7 The Sufi master Abu Madyan8, the teacher of the aforementioned Ibn ‘Arabi, was associated with Fez in the twelfth century as was Abu-i-Hasan ‘Ali-ash-Shadhili9, the founder of the Shadhili Order of Sufis, and later in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Shaykh ad-Darqawi10 and Shaykh al-Alawi11, founders of the Sufi schools which respectively bear their names to the present day. Their tombs remain popular goals of pilgrimage and prayer for guidance and initiation.
In the Fama, the anonymous author tells how Christian Rosencreutz confesses that the “Magia” he found practiced in Fez “was not altogether pure,” pointing to the use of sorcery and witchcraft which is also (in)famous in this region12. It is also stated that “their Cabala was defiled with their religion.”
In Latin, religio means, “to take back, fast” and if we quietly look we might see that here C.R. first views the Islamic Cabala as a step away from the traditional Hebrew Kabbalah, and therefore “defiled.” However, the next passage in the Fama states, “but notwithstanding he knew how to make good use of the same, and found still more better ground of his Faith, altogether agreeable with the Harmony of the whole World, and wonderfully impressed in all Periods of times…”
Islam traces its roots back to Abraham through Hagar’s son Ismael, his first born. Thus, although it is considered by many to be the latest manifestation of the three Abrahamic traditions including also the Jewish faith and Christianity, the Muslim community considers Islam to be the original religion of Abraham to which one reverts as opposed to conversion13. The Qu’ran, the unadulterated word of God, unlike the Bible which is seen to be corrupted by revision and translation, becomes the source for the holy words of wisdom found in the Old and New Testaments. This is why Muslims consider Muhammad to be the Seal of Prophethood, the true alpha and omega, who transmits the original revelation, as God says in al-Qu’ran, one last time that it might remain pure14.
It is therefore possible that young Christian Rosencreutz found by study and application how Islamic Cabala, Hebrew Kabbalah, and Christian Cabala have common roots, work together, and are indeed “altogether agreeable with the Harmony of the whole World.”15 A.E. Waite notes that the Spanish sufi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-Tufaul (who was also associated with Morocco), in his twelfth century philosophical romance entitled “The Life of Hai Ebn Yokdan, the Self-Taught Philosopher” (shades of Jakob Boehme!) uses a form of comparison which is (later) found almost verbatim in the Kabbalistic books. This author goes on to state that “…the significant fact is that this form of Islamic Mysticism (i.e. Sufism) was one of the environments of the Kabbalistic Jews to whome we are indebted for part at least of the ZOHAR.”16
The great English Rosicrucian apologist Robert Fludd, in Book IV of his Summun Bonum, The Highest Good (1629) explains, “I have undertaken to explain carefully why these last — these Brothers of the Rosy Cross — are properly to be called the seed of Abraham, and have been chosen among the heathen…”
And to continue from where we left off above in the Fama, “…and thence proceedeth that fair Concord, that as in every several kernel is contained a whole good tree or fruit, so likewise is included in the little body of Man the whole Great World, whose religion, policy, health, members, nature, language, words and works, are agreeing, sympathizing, and in equal tune and melody with God, Heaven, and Earth…” This passage may be compared with the following quote written within the last 20 years by the contemporary sufi master Javad Nurbakhsh:
“Divergent sufi orders are but branches of a single tree of loving-kindness. If one order denies or repudiates another, it only repudiates itself.
Sufism is a school of applied ethics which attempts to unite all human hearts in loving-kindness. O sufis, never behave in such a manner that this school becomes a source of repulsion of hearts, for this would be contrary to the essence of Sufism.
The demonstration of the Love of God is love of his creatures. Thus the sufi should love everyone regardless of religion or nationality, behaving affectionately towards all, acting as a servant of all humanity.”17
The Fama tells us that Christian Rosencreutz finally departed from Fez and sailed for Spain, seeking to share his newfound knowledge and wisdom, only to be rebuked by the “Learned” not only in Spain, but in all of the other European nations that he visited. It is perhaps significant to consider how the sufi masters Abu Madyan and Ibn ‘Arabi, whose legacies permeated the mysticism of Fez, were both originally natives of Spain. Christian Rosencreutz may have been searching out the roots of his philosophy by visiting the homeland of these saints, only to find that the “Learned” there presently, “wherein they ought to agree with those things that are past,” quite oppose any contradiction of what they now believe.
It is at this point, “like a Globe, or Circle, to the onely middle Point, and Centrum,” that C.R. realized the need for, “a Society in Europe” based “(as it is usual among the Arabians)” upon the models, the sufi orders he studied with in Damascus, and/or “Damcar,”18 a version of Damascus, or Damar in the Yemen, or a purely mythical, spiritual place, and Fez.
“The point appeared in the circle,
Rather, it was the circle, traversed
by the point.
To one who has completed the circle,
the point exists on the circumference.
The whole world I said is His imagination,
then I saw: His imagination is Himself.”
— Shah Ni’matuallah (1331 - 1431)19
In the next passage, Christian Rosencreutz settled in his native Germany and built a lodging where for the next five years he “ruminated his Voyage, and Philosophy, and reduced them together in a true Memorial.”
After the five year period, he returned to the cloister of his infancy and persuaded three Brothers to join him at his “Sancti spiritus.”20 “After this manner began the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross;” a group dedicated to living the philosophy their father Christian Rosencreutz brought back with him from Arabia, Syria, and Morocco.
We now see the narrator of this famous history lapse into reverie, “We stedfastly beleeve, that if our Brethren and Fathers had lived in this our present and clear light, they would more roughly have handled the Pope, Mahomet, Scribes, Artists, and Sophisters.” This clearly implies that the original four, expanded to eight, Brethren of the Rosy Cross were far more tolerant, and far more knowledgeable of the esoteric Islamic source of their wisdom than the Order which followed and produced the Fama in the seventeenth century.
Next follow the six Articles all eight of the original Brethren agreed upon, which included designating the “word C.R.” as their “Seal, Mark, and Character;” meeting together once a year at the Sancti spiritus house on the “day C,” which has been interpreted to mean Christmas by some, and Easter Eve by others; finding a worthy successor upon impending death of a member; and keeping the Order secret for one hundred years. The first article is the most interesting from the point of view of the alchemist, who is enjoined by tradition to keep knowledge secret, and to be humble, and to use whatever boon God offers as a help to all humanity; in this article, the Brethren agree, “First, that none of them profess any other thing, than to cure the sick, and that gratis.”
Just prior to the revelation of the Articles we are informed that a steady stream of people, most in need of medical attention, descended upon the Brethren at their lodging. One of the oldest hospices in the world is the gathering place of the sufis, in whatever country they may be found. This house of hospitality and worship where the sufis meet for majlis, the holy meeting in which God is invoked and constantly remembered, is variously known around the world as a sufi or dervish lodge, house, khaniqah, tekke, zawiyah, and/or other regional names.
Sufi masters are legendary healers, with a thorough knowledge of alchemy and all of the sciences, however, like the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, they consider things of the Spirit to be far superior to worldly matters. The miraculous appears upon the surface, while the sublime inner state of the mystic is known only to God.
The second article states that, “None of the Posterity should be constrained to wear one certain kind of habit, but therein follow the custom of the Country.” While Muslims the world over may tend to conform to the sunna (traditional dress) of the Prophet, sufis have, with a few exceptions when conformity of dress became more important than spiritual realities, adopted the dress and customs of the countries in which they live. This injunction among the articles of the Rosy Cross Brethren, along with the agreement to meet once a year, seems to mean that while two remained with their master Christian Rosencreutz, the rest were scattered around the world on separate journeys, which were really spiritual travels.
The sufi is by definition a salik, a “wayfarer on the Path” of life, constantly in a state of suluk, or “wandering.” This becomes the solitary spiritual journey in which the sufi accepts equally whatever comes his way, good or bad. The path through the world of creation led by the Creator is the book of wisdom the sufi reads as he goes along, depending on the grace of God to guide his understanding.
The Fama continues, “Every one may hold it out for certain, that such persons as were sent, and joyned together by God, and the Heavens; and chosen out of the wisest of men, as have lived in many Ages, did live together above all others in the highest Unity, greatest Secrecy, and most kindness one towards another.” This spirit of benevolence lasted until each of the Brethren died, although not without succession, down to the group which included the writer of the Fama. This group, the text tells us, discovered after 120 years a tomb in which they found many marvelous things, as if in a scene from “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights,” including the perfectly preserved body of their Frater and founder, Christian Rosencreutz.
The Confessio Fraternitatis
“Be detached and free and pure from contamination by the restrictions of religion, imitative devotion, customs, and habit. Be like the true monk and “step up into religion’s abbey,” which means to come into mosques and other places of worship, girding yourself with the cincture of service, acting as the monk whose very vocation is detachment, being liberated and disengaged from all formal and spiritual interests or obstructions. Do not be inhibited by the fetters of infidelity (kufr) and Islam, for whatever is in essence good, and is a cause of human perfection, is of course, praiseworthy. Leave every religion and people to their own rites and observances, since to be bound by mere words and expressions generally employed in other religions - such as ‘Idol’ (but), ‘Cincture’ (zunnar), ‘Synagogue’ (dayr), ‘Christian’… is itself just another type of infidelity (kufr). Professing such conceptual restrictions is contrary to the way and method of the Sufi gnostics.”21
— Muhhamad ibn Yayah Lahiji (d. 1516)
One year after the appearance of the German edition of The Fama Fraternitatis in 1614, the next principal Rosicrucian text came to light, also in Germany22 titled, The Confessio Fraternitatis.
The anonymous author of the Confessio displayed even less of the open-armed benevolence of the original Brethren surrounding founder Christian Rosencreutz. By the third sentence of the Preface he labels the Pope “Antichrist,” and early in the second paragraph of the actual text makes it plain that, “we do condemn the East and the West, (meaning the Pope and Mahomet) blasphemers against our Lord Jesus Christ, and offer and present with a good will to the chief head of the Romish Empire, our prayers, secrets, and great treasures of Gold.”23
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (b. 1090), was the monk whose preaching and letter writing at the direction of the Pope and Louis VII, the king of France, inspired the Crusades. The writings (he wrote much aside from Crusader propaganda) of Bernard have had a lasting impression on the great spiritual figures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and later on those of the Renaissance and both the Protestant and Catholic reformations.24 He holds a curious place in the twelfth century as a Cistercian monk who was also an unofficial patron of the Knights Templars. This situation may be due in part to his close relationship with one of the founding members of the Templars, Bernard’s uncle, Andre de Montbard.
By the thirteenth century, the Knights Templars were condemned and their leaders put to death by Kind Philippe IV of France, who had previously terrorized the papacy and seized control of the Church.25 Among the charges leveled against them was the assertion that they worshipped a demon named “Baphomet.”26 In a painting of the period immediately following the persecution of the Templars27, St. Bernard is shown preaching to his fellow monks in the top panel, and in the panel below (implying either the basement, or even “Hell”) he is seen conversing with a two-toed dark-skinned demon with beard, wings, and tail. The accompanying commentary identifies the demon as a depiction of the Templar’s Baphomet “a symbol of the prophet Muhammad, whom the Templars were accused of worshipping.”
An astounding image, indeed, of a Catholic saint who is also a “closet” Muslim! There is certainly other evidence concerning the ignorance of the period in the area of Islam, which this illustration only serves as an extreme, yet common enough, example. The intended confusion of “Baphomet” with “Mahomet” (Muhammad) would serve conspicuous political ends28 which no doubt at least began with the Crusades, and which later ironically condemn Bernard, the author of the “Christian” Holy Wars.
It must be noted, before leaving this passed in the Confessio, that interpretations of “Mahomet” aside, the author, by his condemnation of both “the East and the West” exhibits his ignorance of the Eastern Orthodox Christian church which Christian Rosencreutz was certainly aware of after visiting “Ciprus” where Brother P.A.L. “dyed,” related early on in the Fama. Perhaps in his rush to condemn and destroy he shares in legacy the zeal of the first Crusaders who indiscriminately killed not only countless Muslims, but also their Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters in Antioch, and other locales, creating a wound between Eastern and Western churches that has not yet properly healed.
Later in the Confessio we find the author making a distinction between, “those who live in the city Damcar in Arabia, who have a far different politick order from the other Arabians.” This “politick” is governed by the Wise, and a similar government is suggested for Europe “(whereof we have a description set down by our Christianly Father).” By making this distinction between the inhabitants of the mystical Damcar and other “Arabians,” and recalling the utopian vision of C.R., it would seem that the author here acknowledges an esoteric Islamic model for the ultimate Rosicrucian government. There is clearly expressed a difference between exoteric Islam, which is condemned outright, and esoteric Islam, or Sufism, that as we have seen in the Fama, provided the matrix for the philosophy of Christian Rosencreutz.
If we consider “Damcar” as a misspelling of Damar, or Dhamar in the Yemen, as has been suggested by some commentators on the Fama and the Confessio29, this consideration will then conclude our selective look at the Confessio.
During the life of the Prophet Muhammad a man he never met named Uways al-Qurani lived in the Yemen. It is reported that Muhammad knew of this man’s piety and once said in a traditional reference to him, “The breath of the Merciful (nafas ar-Rahman) comes to me from Yemen.” Uways’ belief in Islam and the Prophet without having any outward contact became the prototype for the sufi who is guided solely by divine grace. The example of Uways inspired the sufi order know as the “Uwaysi,” whose members depend only on God and often absent or long-deceased sufi masters for initiation and guidance.
It is at “Damcar” in the Fama where Christian Rosencreutz found, “there the Wise received him (as he himself witnesseth) not as a stranger, but as one whom they had long expected, they called him by his name, and shewed him other secrets out of his Cloyster, whereat he could not but mightily wonder.” Not only do the “Wise” of Damcar resemble Uways al-Qurani in their ability to “believe without seeing,” which is really innate knowledge, or certainty (yaqin); they also display knowledge of Christian Rosencreutz’s Christian cloister in Germany, amounting to evidence of Sufism, the school of ecumenical, universal Unity.
The Yemen, like the invisible Order of the Rosy Cross, may be considered a potent access point of mystical initiation which is perhaps difficult for some to reach physically while for others remains spiritually accessible.
The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz
“Descending to the earth,
That strange intoxicating beauty of the unseen world
Lucks in the elements of nature.
And the soul of man,
Who has attained the rightful balance,
Becoming aware of this hidden joy,
Straightaway is enamoured and bewitched.
And from this mystic marriage are born
The poet’s songs, inner knowledge,
The language of the heart, virtuous living,
And the fair child Beauty.
And the Great Soul gives to man as dowry
The hidden glory of the world.”
— Mahmud Shabistari30
In 1616 a third text appeared entitled The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz31, authored by Johann Valentin Andreae. Upon publication, The Chemical Wedding, likes its Rosicrucian predecessors the Fama and the Confessio, seemed to be anonymously produced as it was not until late in his life that Andreae admitted to authorship of this work.
The Chemical Wedding is a romance, in some respects similar to Von Eschenbach’s Parzival32, employing Christian Rosencreutz as principal character and narrator. It is also an alchemical allegory whose main purpose appears to be the announcement of Christian Rosencreutz’s achievement of the Magnum Opus, the fabled Philosopher’s Stone, a substance able to cure bodies in the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms.
Several differences set The Chemical Wedding apart from the Fama and the Confessio, the most obvious perhaps being that while the first two Rosicrucian texts read like manifestoes, the third can be enjoyed as literature. Both the Fama and the Confessio make it plain that while the Rosicrucian brethren are capable of any manner or form of healing, hermetic or otherwise, their goal is far loftier than the mere transmutation of metals. The Chemical Wedding on the contrary, is a poetic fable built firmly upon the framework of alchemical philosophy and practice. It is no wonder, then, that The Chemical Wedding proved to be the more potent document as far as recruiting a “Rosicrucian Order,” especially among alchemists.
The questions must be asked, as we have been told in the Fama that Christian Rosencreutz had mastered all the physical and spiritual sciences and opened his Sancti spiritus to teach this knowledge to other brethren, why would he, now in old age, be required to enter upon the quest for the Philosopher’s Stone in The Chemical Wedding? Within all true alchemical tracts it is impossible to exhaust the potential symbolic interpretation. The Chemical Wedding being no exception the following examination will touch on relatively few examples germane to our topic.
As the tale opens, we find Christian Rosencreutz meditating in prayer as a storm gathers around “the Hill whereon my little house was founded.” After a series of visions and a prophetic dream, he sets out on a journey (soluk) to a Castle “upon a high hill afar off.” We are aware that the capitalized Hill where we find Christian Rosencreutz is his Sancti spiritus, is the Axis Terrarum, the Center of the World. The faraway Castle on the “high hill” which he seeks is the Axis Mundi, the Center of the Universe, which he carries and seeks within himself.
“Then the eleven disciples went away in Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” — Matthew 28:16.
In one of his masterful examinations of Mazdean inner geography (which could not help but color Persian sufi philosophy) Henri Corbin33 tells of a mountain called Hukairya, a mountain as high as the stars which hides the abode of the goddess who appears as the paradisal source of the Water of Life. At her abode grows the fruit of immortality. In The Chemical Wedding Christian Rosencreutz appears to meet this lady under many guises: as an angel during his Paschal celebration (in a Mazdean ritual from their holy book the Avesta is the line, “We are celebrating this liturgy in honor of the Earth which is an Angel;”34 as the matron in his dream; as Alchimia at the Castle, his principal guide; the Virgins; and as the Queens.
As he enters the primordial garden of his inner Self, Christian Rosencreutz is moved to sing a spiritual song, which ends with,
“Most clear and bright God’s eyes do shine,
He pierces to thy heart within, And cannot be deceived.”
We may liken this to a zikr, or remembrance of God in sufism, which is either spoken or “sung” aloud, or quietly repeated within the heart. It is a secret “mantra” or Name of God inculcated in the sufi by the Master during initiation into a sufi order.
As Christian Rosencreutz continues his journey and sojourn in his interior Castle35, on the third day those invited to the nuptials are weighed on a large set of scales. Christian is the eighth (8: as above, so below) man to be weighed, and as he prevails the pages stand up exclaiming loudly, “THAT IS HE.” Unlike the Wise men of Damcar (or Damascus, etc.) in the Fama, who not only recognized Christian Rosencreutz, “as one whome they had long expected, they called him by his name,” those present at the Castle would seem to require a test in order to reveal his true identity.
In the “Ninth Key” of The “Practica” With Twelve Keys, and an Appendix Thereto, Concerning The Great Stone of the Ancient Sages, by Basilus Valentinus, the various twelve signs of the zodiac are instructed to be weighed opposite one another on a pair of scales until a balance is struck and, “there be a conjunction and union between the greatest and the smallest, and the smallest and the greatest.”36
Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorf (b. 1875), sees the process of releasing the “subtle” body called the “glorified rose” (Phoenix rising from the ashes) as the alchemicalizing of the human body. “The Science of the Key is also called the Science of Scales in Arabic, or ilm el nizan. There is also Il el quimija or the Science of Chemistry… They (the modern Moslem brethren) studied and researched and discovered in the writings of the Rosicrucians and in those of the Alchemists, that these had given an accurate account of the ‘Science of the Key’ in their books. The exercises of the oriental Freemasons, what is more, are nothing but a work carried on by themselves, for improvement and gaining higher knowledge. It will become clear, as we continue our exposition, that they reveal the secret of the Rosicrucians and Alchemists and demonstrate the preparation of the Stone, which was the object of the seeker’s desire.”37
At the end of the Fourth Day a play is performed in which an alchemical process is enacted involving not only the actors, who include a menacing Moor in a case of typecasting true to the spirit and letter of the Fama and Confessio, but also the Royal audience of the King and Queen. The Moor and the Royal couple are among those beheaded, much to the horror and agitation of Christian Rosencreutz and company, whoa re subsequently instructed and comforted by lady Alchimia.
On the Fifth Day, Christian Rosencreutz and the other selected alchemists, along with the corpses and heads of those already mentioned deceased, board seven ships each with a planetary assignation with form a pentagram. At the “head” of this arrangement, we find the remains of the Moor in the ship assigned to Saturn, whose color is black.
In the beginning of his “Ninth Key,” in the text previously mentioned above, Basilus Valentinus tells us, “Saturn, who is called the greatest of the planets, is the least useful in our Magistry. Nevertheless, it is the chief Key of the whole Art, howbeit set in the lowest and meanest place. Although by its swift flight it has risen to the loftiest height, far above all other luminaries, its feathers much be clipped, and itself brought down to the lowest place, from whence it may once more be raised by putrefaction, by which the black is changed to the white, and the white to the red, until the glorious colour of the triumphant King has been attained.”38
The Saturn Basilus alludes to is lead, represented by the black Moor in The Chemical Wedding. The changes in color represent the progressive alchemical stages of the Philosopher’s Stone.
During the Sixth Day, an even more select group of the alchemists including Christian Rosencreutz perform many operations; at one point a Virgin produces the Moor’s head (Caput Mortem) which is deposited in a Kettle full of a “water” made from the essences of plants and precious stones. This causes a great heat that distills the substance which comes over and is put into a Golden Globe hung, “by a strong chain in the middle of the Room. In this room was nothing else but mere windows, and still between the two Windows there was a Door, which was covered with nothing but a great polished Looking-Glass; and these Windows and Looking-Glasses were so optically opposed one to another, that although the Sun (which now shined exceeding bright) beat only upon one Door, yet (after the Windows towards the Sun were opened, and the Doors before the Looking-Glasses drawn aside) in all quarters of the Room there was nothing but Suns which by artificial Refractions beat upon the whole golden Globe hanging in the midst.”
Enameling in the Middle-East was traditionally done with the use of concave mirrors and solar power, this practice was considered a novelty in Europe in the time of Andreae, and points to an “Arabic” origin of the operation used alchemically in this passage from The Chemical Wedding.39
After the revivification of the King and Queen, the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz is accomplished and he “awakes” and finds he has returned home!
“He who knows Himself knows his Lord.”
— a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad
The sufi journeys from himself to Himself, entering through the often difficult and demanding labyrinth-like pathway into the Rose Garden of the Heart.
“A devout man in deep contemplation, with his head reclined on the bosom of meditation, was immersed in the ocean of vision. When he recovered from that state, one of his companions, by way of pleasantry, said, “What miraculous present have you brought us from this garden, which you have been visiting?” He answered, “It was my intention, that, when I reached the rose-bush, I would fill my lap with flowers, for presents to my friends; but when I came to the spot, the odor so overpowered my senses, that my skirt dropped out of my hands.”
1. The Notes section herein should prove to be highly bibliographical concerning works that treat the general subject of these texts in a more comprehensive manner. Also, quotes not credited with footnotes may be assumes to come from the original Rosicrucian texts.
2. See the exhaustive bibliography compiled by A.E. Waite in the chapter on the Fama in his he Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, New Hyde Part, University Books, 1961, pp 114 - 116.
3. See the excellent biography of Ibn ‘Arabi by Claude Addas entitled, Quest for the Red Sulphur, Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1993.
4. It needs to be assumed for the purposes of this article that the writer(s) of the Fama considered there to be a difference between “Turks” and “Arabians,” yet by placing “Damasco” in “Arabia” it may also be assumed that a clear knowledge of Muslims, and Islam, by virtue of geography alone, is found to be lacking.
5. See the opening quote under the title of this article. Like the Magi, these “Wise men” must be counted (among other title) as Magicians.
6. According to a footnote in Waite, op cit, p 129, “The Book M: has been identified with Minutus Mundus …(however) it might be an arcane instrument rather than a written volume.” Paul Foster Case, in his speculative volume, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order identifies The Book M with the following: Liber Mundi, Book of Life, Book of the World, and Book of Nature.
7. See Titus Burckhardt, Fez, City of Islam (translated from the German by William Stoddart), Cambridge, England, Islamic Texts Society, in preparation at this writing. Also see Willy Schodter, A Rosicrucian Notebook: The Secret Sciences Used by Members of the Order, York Beach, Weiser, 1992, pp 115, 160, 173 - 74, 181 - 182, 187 - 188, for a thorough, if generally far-reaching (!) examination of correlations between the esoteric Islamic use of magic, telepathy, grimoires, star-demonology, hypnotism, etc., and subsequent Rosicrucian practices.
8. For the only comprehensive discussion in English of the life of this saint, see part II, “The Arc of Descent,” chapter 8, “Shu’ayb Ibn al-Husayn al-‘ansari Abu Madyan” in John Eberly, al-Kimia: The Mystical Islamic Essence of the Sacred Art of Alchemy, Anamnesis, 1995.
9. See Elmer H. Douglas, The Mystical Teachings of al-Shadhili, Albany, SUNY Press, 1993.
10. See The Darqawi Way: The Letters of Shaykh Mawlay al-Arabi ad-Darqawi, Norwich, Diwan Press, 1979.
11. See Martin Lings, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, 2d ed. London, 1971.
12. See most any of the writings and translations of Paul Bowles and Mohammad Mrabet. Also see the works of the sufi writer Isabelle Eberhardt. See also the writings of Brion Gysin; past collaborator with William S. Burroughs, a modern writer obsessed with Hasan I-Sabbah, the “old man in the mountain.”
13. For example, (there are far too many to list here) see Hammudah Abdalati, Islam in Focus, Indianapolis, American Trust Pubs, 1975; Muhammad Armiya Nu’man, The Evolution of Religion Through the Prophets, Jersey City, New Mind Productions, 1979; Mustafa El-Amin, Abraham’s Legacy: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Reality, Jersey City, New Mind, 1990.
14. See the excellent works of Michael Chodkiewicz concerning Ibn ‘Arabi’s brilliant cabalistic exegesis of the Qu’ran. Especially, An Ocean Without Shore: Ibn ‘Arabi, the Book, and the Law; and also, Seal of the Saints.
15. Aramaic (the language of Jesus), Arabic, and Hebrew are closely associated with one another. Also see Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, Appendix 1, “Letter Symbolism in Sufi Literature” for a fascinating examination of Islamic Cabala; also see this author’s more in-depth accounting of letter and numerical symbolism of Muhammad and al-Qu’ran in, And Muhammed is His Messenger.
16. A.E. Waite in his The Holy Kabbalah: A Mystic Interpretation of the Scriptures, New York, Carol Pub. Group, 1995, pp 78 - 79. The author makes a strong case for Sufi roots found in Hebrew Kabbalah. Paul Foster Case devotes a large part of his The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order to Qabalah as it applies to his concept of the Rosicrucian Fraternity’s division into “degrees” as mentioned in The Confessio. A student of Case, Kevin Townley, has produced a brilliant work concerning Qabalah in, The Cube of Space: Container of Creation, Boulder, Archive Press, 1993. Also see the various works on the subject and also the Rosicrucuan inspired Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (which, for a time, counted Waite as a members), Ordo Rosae Rubeae Et Aureae Crucis, et al, by Israel Regardie (not to mention his guru A. Crowley, another Golden Dawn magician).
17. Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Masters of the Path: A History of the Mimatullahi Sufi Order, New York, Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi Pubs, 1980. This account of the silsillah or initiatory chain of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order contains the aforementioned master Abu Madyan (see above, Note 8).
18. In the present study we are following the English translation of the Fama by Thomas Vaughn (aka Eugenius Philalethes) which gives both places the name Damascus. In the German original, Vaughn curiously notes in his “A Preface To The Reader” (of the English trans.), found in A.E. Waite, The Works of Thomas Vaughn Mystic and Alchemist, of the author of the Fama, “He hath indeed mistaken Damascus for Damcar in Arabia, and this I would not alter - for I am no pedant, to correct another man’s labors.” A.E. Waite, in a footnote in his chapter concerning the Fama in The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, p 127, states, “A Rosicrucian secret ritual of the nineteenth century affirms that Damcar is a Hebrew word, signifying Blood of the Lamb…”
19. Ibid., Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Masters of the Path, pp 55 - 56.
20. The extensive footnote in Waite’s Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross on pp 130 - 131 compares this mysterious building to “the House of Wisdom” erected in Cairo, where a Secret Society founded in the tenth-century by one “Abdallah” regularly met. This is according to a thesis by Von Hammer who went on to claim that the Society in question developed into the sect of the Assassins (led by the “old man of the mountain,” Hasan i-Sabbah). For more on Hasan and the Ismailis see John Eberly, al-Kimia, chapter 7, p 53, “Ismailis, Sufis, Malamatiyya, and al-Kimia.” Recently, Raymond Lifchez has produced a beautiful book concerning the sufi hospices/houses of worship in Turkey entitled, Dervish Lodge: Architecture, Art, and Sufism in Ottoman Turkey.”
21. See Muhhamad Lahiji, Mafatih al-;ijaz fir sharh-iGulshan-i raz, edited by K. Sami’I, Tehran, 1337 A.H. sh., 689, quoted in The Legacy of Mediaeval Persian Sufism, ed. By L. Lewisohn, Khaniqahi Nimatullahi, 1992, essay also by Lewisohn, “The Unity of Religion in Shabistari,” p 402.
22. See the exhaustive bibliography concerning early editions of the Confessio in A.E. Waite’s The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, pp 144 - 145.
23. Suggestion has been made that this section “proves” that John Dee authored the Confessio in order to ingratiate himself in the court of Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor in Prague. However, this would place the actual writing of the Confessio, and the Fama back some years from their German publication dates as Dee died in 1608 and Rudolph in 1612. There is some evidence that suggests there were prior Latin versions of both the Fama and the Confessio, that may be the originals.
24. See Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works, New York, Paulist Press, 1987.
25. See Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge, New York, Arcade, 1989, chapters 2 & 3.
26. See Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, St. Paul, Llewellyn, 1995, pp 115, 117, 236. See also Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, New Hyde Park, University Books, 1960, p 203, “There was found among the antiquities of the imperial museum of Vienna some of those idols named heads of Baphomet, which the Templars adored. These heads represent the divinity of the gnostics, named Mete or Wisdom.”
27. I have not been able to trace the origin of this painting, basing the present observations on a black and white reproduction in my possession.
28. Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321), in his Divine Comedy, placed both “Mahomet” and ‘Ali (ibn Abi Talib) in Hell, in the “Circle of the Sowers of Discord” (XXVII. 31 sqq.).
29. See note 18 above. Also see Willy Schrodter, A Rosicrucian Notebook, pp 29, 216.
30. See The Secret Rose Garden of Shabistar, translated with an introduction by Florence Lederer, Grand Rapids, Phanes Press, 1987, p 34.
31. In this study I have used the English translation made by Ezechiel Foxcroft of the text of The Chymical Wedding, also known as The Hermetic Romance of Christian Rosenkreutz originally published in 1690, seventy-five years after its appearance in German. This text, as well as Vaughn’s translations of the Fama and the Confessio and a wealth of other Rosicrucian source material can be found in the wonderful collection entitled, A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology, compiled and edited by Paul M. Allen, Blauvelt, Spiritual Science Library, 1968. See also Joscelyn Godwin’s translation of Andreae’s Chemical Wedding, Grand Rapids, Phanes Press, 1993.
32. Wolfram Von Eschenbach, Parzival: A Romance of the Middle Ages, translated by Helen M. Mustard and Charles E. Passage, New York, Random House, 1961.
33. Henry Corbin, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1977, p 26.
34. Ibid., p 3. See also Antoine Faivre, Access to Western Esotericism, “The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz as Pilgrimage of the Soul,” pp 163 - 175, a very interesting treatment of The Chemical Wedding. It is odd, however, that Faivre begins his essay by quoting Andreae as if his romance recapitulated the history of Christian Rosencreutz as found in the Fama! (see bottom of p 163 - top of 164).
35. See The Collected Works of Teresa of Avila, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, 1980, Vol. Two, “The Interior Castle,” pp 263 - 451. Teresa’s “Interior Castle” is divided into seven “dwelling places;” The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz takes place over the course of seven days. See also John Welch, Spiritual Pilgrims, a study of Teresa’s “Interior Castle” in light of the journey of Carl Jung, modern gnostic and investigator of spiritual alchemy.
36. See Arthur Edward Waite, The Hermetic Museum: Containing Twenty-Two Most Celebrated Chemical Tracts, York Beach, Weiser, 1990, p 346.
37. Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorf, The Practice of Old Turkish Freemasonry, Leipzig, 1924, p 19, as quoted in Schrodter, ibid., pp 111 - 112.
38. See Waite, The Hermetic Museum, p 344.
39. There is more which might be said about this process than space permits. Briefly, it was known to Paracelsus, who was able to produce a “Solar Powder” in this globe. See also Manfred M. Junius, The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy, Rochester, Healing Arts Press, 1985, pp 85 - 86 for a brief discussion with accompanying illustration of this process.
40. Francis Gladwin (trans), The Gulistan or Rose Garden by Musle-huddeen Sheik Saadi of Shiraz, Willard Small, Boston, 1884.