Reflections on the Rosicrucian Manifesto

The current year, 2014, marks the 400th anniversary of the Rosicrucian manifesto, Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, first published in Germany in 1614. Although not widely known in contemporary times, the Fama Fraternitatis is believed to have exerted considerable influence on the formation of our modern world. Wikipedia: “historian Frances Yates makes a persuasive case for the scientific, cultural and political force of the Rosicrucians.”

To celebrate the manifesto’s anniversary, this article will probe one of the book’s mysteries. The respective enigma arises in the last sentence of the manifesto which, per the 1652 translation from German to English, reads as follows:

“Also our building, although one hundred thousand people had very near seen and beheld the same, shall for ever remain untouched, undestroyed, and hidden to the wicked world.”

In 1618, the Germans published a drawing of that building complete with windows and doors. For decades thereafter, people from all across Europe searched endlessly for that “temple” in order to meet the Rosicrucians face to face and join their secret society. Wikipedia: “René Descartes is just one of the many cultural giants of the time who tried to reach them without success.”

Because no one ever found the Rosicrucian temple, nor any verifiable Rosicrucian for that matter, many historians have concluded that the Fama Fraternitatis was a work of fiction and that the Rosicrucian secret society never existed. Though there are indeed indications that the manifesto was an allegorical communication, it would be a stretch to deny the existence of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross. After all, this secret society may have been genuinely “secret,” that is, historians would know nothing about it.

In particular, the historians appear to have gone astray over the German word “Gebäude,” which was translated as “building.” This German word, however, can also mean “edifice” in the sense of something created bit by bit or compiled out of many pieces. Can any such “edifice,” other than a building, be physically seen? Well, yes. A book, for example, can be seen. Moreover, a book can be compiled piece by piece and can also have secret content or meaning that remains unrecognized or hidden to the reader.

Critical question: What book, other than religious texts, had 100,000 readers prior to the year 1614? Find that book, and you will have completed Step 1 to solving one of the great mysteries of Rosicrucianism.

Hint No. 1: To have 100,000 readers by 1614, a book would have likely needed a large number of editions because print runs were generally small in size.

Hint No 2: Today, the number of readers of that book has soared into the millions, but the book’s secrets remain just as hidden as they did four centuries ago.

Although the Fama Fraternitatis was written in German, it informs us that the primordial book (Buch) of the Rosicrucians was written in a Latin language:

“das Buch und librum M. in gut Latein gebracht”

Hint No. 3: Look for the word “M.” (including the period) in the title of the Rosicrucian book that had already (before 1614) sold 100,000 copies.

Seek, and you shall find.

As a sign of its enduring nature, Rosicrucianism still offers much to challenge the wit of all who approach it.

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