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Rose Cross and the Age of Reason, The

Eighteenth-Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment

Christopher McIntosh

Publication Year: 2011

Examines the relationship between diverse iterations of Rosicrucianism and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. This new edition of Christopher McIntosh's classic book on the Golden and Rosy Cross order is eagerly awaited. The order stands out as one of the most fascinating and influential of the high-degree masonic and illuminist groups that mushroomed in Europe from the 18th century onward. Active mainly in the German-speaking lands, it recast the original Rosicrucian vision and gave it renewed vitality. At one point it became politically influential when the Prussian King, Frederick William II, was a member of the order. Historians have often perceived the Golden and Rosy Cross as having had a conservative, anti-Enlightenment agenda, but this study – drawing on rare German sources – shows that the matter was more complex. The members of the order practiced alchemy and operated a degree system that was later imitated by later orders such as the Golden Dawn. Like the latter, the Golden and Rosy Cross exerted a wide and enduring cultural influence. Both the alchemy of the order and its powerful ritual system are insightfully described in Christopher McIntosh's clear and compelling style.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-

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PREFACE

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pp. vii-viii

This book is one of a number of works in which I have explored what can loosely be called the “Gnostic” undercurrents of western civilization. The Rosicrucian movement is one of those undercurrents. The present study deals with the revival of Rosicrucianism during the era of the Enlightenment, focusing mainly on the German-speaking realm. It ...

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FOREWORD TO THE SECOND EDITION

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pp. ix-x

In the interval of about two decades since the first edition of this book was published, some remarkable changes have taken place within the academic world. At that time the study of history in Western universities tended to be dominated by a school of thought which rejected everything that it regarded as archaic, anti-progressive and irrational—including all the ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

The role of secret and semi-secret societies in history is a theme that has only recently come into its own as a subject for serious historical enquiry. Its previous neglect by most professional historians was in part a reaction against the lurid credulity with which the subject has so often been treated in the past. As ...

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Chapter One. THE ENLIGHTENMENT, THE AUFKLÄRUNG AND THEIR OPPONENTS

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pp. 7-21

Before dealing with the role of the Rosicrucian revival in the Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, it is necessary to appreciate the problems involved in defining these terms. First, what was the Enlightenment? Historians differ in their approaches to this question, and the Enlightenment itself was a protean phenomenon, which varied from country to country and underwent ...

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Chapter Two. ROSICRUCIANISM FROM ITS ORIGINS TO THE EARLY 18TH CENTURY

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pp. 23-37

In order to understand the 18th-century Rosicrucian revival it is necessary to know something of the origins and early history of Rosicrucianism. This ground has already been covered many times,l but it is worth covering it again here in broad outline as a prelude to my main investigation. The Rosicrucian legend was born in the early 17th century in the uneasy ...

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Chapter Three. THE MASONIC PHASE

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pp. 39-58

At this point I shall attempt to outline the early history of Freemasonry, describing briefly its origins in Britain and its dispersal to the continent of Europe, before discussing in detail the way in which it manifested itself in Germany.1 Freemasonry can essentially be described as a brotherhood practising a ...

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Chapter Four. THE WORLD OF THE INITIATE

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pp. 59-74

We are now in a position to take a closer look at the Gold- und Rosenkreuz order in its maturity, to identify some of its members and to describe its hierarchical structure, rituals and teaching. The picture that emerges is of a widespread organization, secretive and hierarchically structured, whose Weltanschauung and ethos are philosophically ...

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Chapter Five. THE ALCHEMY OF THE GOLD- UND ROSENKREUZ

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pp. 75-90

The late survival of alchemical practice in the German-speaking world is a striking exception to the general rapid decline of alchemy from the late 17th century onwards as chemistry advanced. Whereas almost everywhere else alchemy had, by the end of the 18th century, ceased to be taken seriously by all but a small minority, in Germany it retained a large number of ...

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Chapter Six. THE POLEMICAL STANCE OF THE GOLD- UND ROSENKREUZ

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pp. 91-111

The antecedents and early history of the Gold- und Rosenkreuz, as already outlined, suggest that it was not founded expressly as a conservative, anti-Aufklärung organization. Rather this tendency was there in potential from the inception of the order, but came to the fore at a later stage in response to certain issues of the day. Before discussing some of the practical ...

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Chapter Seven. A ROSICRUCIAN ON THE PRUSSIAN THRONE

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pp. 113-131

We now come to the episode that has, more than anything else, branded the Gold- und Rosenkreuz in the eyes of posterity as an anti-Aufklärung force, namely its period of influence at the court of King Frederick William II of Prussia. This episode has often been alluded to, but in order to weigh its significance in the context of this study it will be necessary to re-examine it in some ...

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Chapter Eight. THE AUFKLÄRUNG REACTION AND THE DECLINE OF THE GOLD- UND ROSENKREUZ

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pp. 133-145

Paradoxically, just at the time when the Rosicrucian clique in Prussia was achieving a position of power and influence, the Gold- und Rosenkreuz order was facing a crisis that was to precipitate its decline. At the root of this crisis was the way in which the order's leadership and its policies were, from the early 1780s, increasingly called in question by ...

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Chapter Nine. ROSICRUCIANISM IN POLAND AND RUSSIA

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pp. 147-159

It was not only in the German-speaking world that the Rosicrucian revival had an impact. Its reverberations were also felt in Poland and Russia, where German influences mingled with French high-degree Masonry. Because the Gold- und Rosenkreuz played a part in the transmission of these influences, it is appropriate to cast an eye at the Polish and Russian ...

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Chapter Ten. THE ASIATIC BRETHREN

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pp. 161-177

In the early 1780s there emerged an organization, known initially as Die Ritter des Lichts (Knights of the Light) and later as Die Brüder St. Johannes des Evangelisten aus Asien in Europa (the Asiatic Brethren of st. John the Evangelist in Europe). Although it did not use the word "Rosicrucian" in its name, it can be considered part of the neo-Rosicrucian current for ...

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Chapter Eleven. CONCLUSION

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pp. 179-183

As has been stated at the outset, it has not been my intention in this thesis to make a definitive pronouncement on the exact relationship between the Rosicrucian revival on the one hand and the Aufklärung and counter-Aufklärung on the other. Rather, my aim has been to improve on the over-simplistic view of the neo-Rosicrucians as being simply a part of the ...

A Note on Sources

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pp. 185-187

Bibliography

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pp. 189-194

Index

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pp. 195-200

Illustrations

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pp. 201-210


E-ISBN-13: 9781438435619
E-ISBN-10: 1438435614
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438435596
Print-ISBN-10: 1438435592

Page Count: 220
Illustrations: 4 b/w photographs
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Series Title: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Series Editor Byline: David Appelbaum