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Society of the Rose and Cross | What is Masonic Rosicrucianism | The Grades

Society of the Rose and Cross

Rosicrucianism emerged in Germany in the early 17th century as a religious, yet scientific, philosophy that sought to explain the essence of God and nature.  The movement was a component of the early Enlightenment, and its challenge to the dogma of the Church forced its adherents to compile and profess their work in secret.

Three Rosicrucian Manifestos, Fama Fraternitatis, Confessio Fraternitatis and Chymische Hochzeit, were published between 1614 and 1616. These works, along with others, were likely influenced by older Eastern texts and were a mix of allegory and symbolism, as well as progressive ideas concerning medicine, mathematics, chemistry, and astronomy. Their purpose was to propose a general reformation of society on all levels: social, spiritual, scientific and artistic. The open invitation by these Rosicrucian manifestos addressed the idea of reformation to all learned men in the world.

Although originally a German phenomenon, the Rosicrucian movement soon found adherents abroad, particularly in England and in many European countries. The appeal for reform was instantly popular because many readers, like the authors of the Rosicrucian manifestoes, were disappointed in the Lutheran and Calvinist reformations. The Rosicrucian manifestos also advocated innovative research into nature as part of an authentic exploration of nature as the work of God.

In the early 18th century the scientific ideals of Rosicrucianism began to make their way into the progressive social contracts that formed the basis of modern Freemasonry.  From that point forward Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry worked hand in hand to promote freethinking, social progressivism, and scientific discovery.

What is Masonic Rosicrucianism?

The Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (Rosicrucian Society of the United States) S.R.I.C.F., was formed on September 21, 1880, by three Colleges chartered within the previous ten months by the Society in Scotland (S.R.I.S.). It is entirely autonomous and in no way connected with any other institution.

The Society is in amity with the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.), Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia (S.R.I.S.) and the Societas Rosicruciana in Lusitania (Portugal) S.R.I.L. The S.R.I.C.F. has also helped the cause of Rosicrucianism by empowering High Councils in their own sovereignty around the World.

Membership, which is by invitation, is predicated on Masonic affiliation. The Society is not merely another degree of Freemasonry which may be acquired and it exists outside of the normal “workings” of the Craft.

The Masonic qualification assures the membership that the neophyte has given proof of that fidelity and privacy which characterizes a member of that Fraternity, and it will be noted that a certain community outlook and understanding among the members (called fratres) is necessary.

As with with Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism is concerned with encouraging the fellowship of Man and with comprehending the true nature and purpose of his place in Creation. The spiritual journey of one’s understanding of one’s relationship with the Creator is peculiarly unique and individual. But it need not be lonely. Indeed it may be necessary that one be guided or encouraged by an adept or some other who has traversed and contemplated a similar path.

Historical Formation in the United States

Masons in the United States, learning about the development of Masonic Rosicrucianism in England and Scotland, became interested in organizing a similar body in the United States as early as 1878, as indicated by the granting of a Charter to Dr. Jonathan J. French to organize a College in the state of Illinois. Unfortunately, Dr. French died later that year so the College did not survive. Interest, however, did not wane.

Later in 1878, a group of senior U.S. Masons (Daniel Sutter, and Charles W. Parker) led by Charles E. Meyer (1839-1908) of Pennsylvania, traveled to England and on July 25th, 1878 were initiated into the grade of Zelator at Yorkshire College at Sheffield. Applying for a charter, but getting no response, they turned to Scotland and received a charter from the college in Edinburgh in 1879. A second charter was granted by the SRIS for a college in New York, and Fratres from Philadelphia and New York met in Philadelphia on April 21, 1880 and formed a High Council, then known as the SRRCA or the Societas Rosicrucianae Reipublica Confoedera America. Charles E. Meyer from Pennsylvania was elected the first Supreme Magus. The name was later changed to the Society of Rosicrucians in the USA by Most Worthy Frater Shryock in his capacity as Supreme Magus. The name was properly Latinized in 1934 by Dr. William Moseley Brown. Brown composed the name (Societas Rosicruciana In Civitatibus Foederatis) and submitted it on January 17th, 1934. The SRICF has operated continuously since its formation in the 19th Century, and is thriving today with an upsurge of young Masons being invited into its ranks with great enthusiasm and demonstrated scholarship.

Organizational Structure of Masonic Rosicrucianism

The governing body of the Society is known as The High Council composed of Fratres of the Third Order (IX° and VIII°), plus any College Celebrant not a member of the Third Order. The head of the Society is titled The Supreme Magus, IX°, elected each triennium. The subordinate bodies are termed “Colleges” each being headed, in the United States, by a Chief Adept, IX°, appointed for life by the Supreme Magus.

Membership in a college has been restricted to 72. New members are required to select a distinctive “Latin Motto”. The Society is not interested primarily in increasing its membership, but is always happy to consider such brethren whose interest in the Society’s aims is sincere and whom it considers to be in sympathy with the movement.

Colleges have the Power to confer the following grades:

First Order: Consisting of Four Grades

First Grade      Zelator

Second Grade Theoricus

Third Grade    Practicus

Fourth Grade  Philosophus

These are classified as the Learning Grades.

Second Order: Consisting of Three Grades

Fifth Grade     Adeptus Minor

Sixth Grade    Adeptus Major

Seventh Grade   Adeptus Exemptus

These are the Teaching Grades.

The jewel of these two orders is a bar with the letters S.R.I.C.F. from which is suspended a green ribbon and jewel.

The High Council has the Power to Confer The Following Grades:

Third Order: Consisting of Two Grades

Eighth Grade     Magister

Ninth Grade      Magus

KGC – Knight Grand Crosses are awarded to IX Grade Magi for exemplary effort in the work of the Society & Rosicrucianism in general.

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