The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order
by Dr. Elias Rubenstein
If we are interested in this topic of initiatory orders — and in particular the Rosicrucian tradition — we will encounter a few books, or maybe documents or reports. Very rarely do we get first-hand information. A large portion of these texts stem either from direct opponents of Rosicrucianism, or from outer people outside of Rosicrucianism who’ve sought to shed some light on this topic.
So it’s not much of a surprise that we find many contradictory opinions about this tradition — though Rosicrucianism itself isn’t contradictory — since these contradictions stem primarily from those who’ve either harassed these original organizations — or wanted to spread negative propaganda — or come from those who weren’t deemed worthy of acceptance into these organizations, who then went on to write many books “explaining” this topic. Many books we find in the area of occultism stem particularly from people who were found to be unworthy of acceptance into an organization. They then go on to produce many “do it yourself” formulas and blind thousands of students with a path where any pseudo-formulas are passed on, in order to activate any number of supposed psychic powers or the like. That isn’t Rosicrucianism. That is also not the mystical path of the West.
Then how does the Rosicrucian tradition distinguish itself? It is a living tradition — not only from mouth to ear, but from transference to transference. Every step of knowledge; every grade in the Rosicrucian system is ritually passed on. You can’t receive this through books or through some exercises, techniques, or the like. We must master a certain grade until an initiator gives his consent to initiate us into the next grade — to accept us into the next grade.
This is not something we can beg for, work for, long for, or strive for. If we do not have the capacity we will, first of all, not be accepted into these grades and, second of all, we will never come to know the individual grades.
There are a few publications from Rosicrucians that give reports of particular grades in Rosicrucianism, and everything else is just an open attempt at speculation. It’s not just a matter of a few authors; I’m talking about a few systems that are very extensively anchored in the popular opinion of spiritual students — regardless of the fact that these systems generally have nothing to do with Rosicrucianism.
A majority of the modern Rosicrucian organizations are based on a tradition that, first of all, stem from an English-speaking mystical occult organization that did not work with all grades of the Rosicrucian system. This insight is very important, since if a major portion of Anglo-American organizations descend from this organization — that only had knowledge of the lower grades of the Rosicrucian system — then this organization cannot fully operate, and the publications that are associated with it cannot impart a perfectly clear picture.
In Great Britain there was an organization: The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The story of its origin is rather spectacular. Everyone who was not there can only rely on hearsay. Leaving that aside, the fact is that — in this organization — only the lower mysteries of an occult system were being worked with. That means an initiate on a kabbalistic journey of initiation, where he gradually climbs each degree, from neophyte to 1=10, 2=9, 3=8, 4=7, and to 4=7 senior, and over the course of time to an even higher degree, namely 5=6 — would have, at this point, already reached the end. The head officials have a symbolic high grade — namely 7=4, the grade of exempt adept — that they never ritually received in this organization.
The catch here is that neither the high Mysteries nor the highest Mysteries — that would actually have to be completed — were ritually carried out, because this system is not compatible with higher grades. It simply ends with 5=6. Some that discover this system — that were initiated into the individual degrees — have tried to establish higher grades in this system: 6=5 grade, 7=4 grade, some have even attempted to add a 8=3 grade, or a 9=2 grade, and also a 10=1 grade — but it’s a completely different system. Meaning it’s not compatible with the whole complex system of Rosicrucianism.
Amazingly — and here is where it really starts — from this we can come to a very important realization: that, ultimately, these organizations didn’t have much to do with Rosicrucianism — since all of the accounts that exist on Rosicrucianism tell us that each of these individual grades mustbe conferred in a Rosicrucian system. If an organization ends somewhere in the middle, then it either has no authentic source, or the leadership of this organization is not yet ready to receive higher grades. The problem? This was the case for the majority of organizations in the last century. It was these organizations out of which many other organizations arose. In parallel, there also arose French branches; German branches, that also claimed to be descended from this Rosicrucian system.
The Rosicrucian system cannot be claimed to have come from the English-speaking world, the French-speaking world, or the German-speaking world. Rather an important foundation to look for is whether or not every grade is ritually carried out. That is the fundamental question. And the second question: will these grades be conferred through initiation, or will the members be deceived by charlatans, who simply place any instructions in their hands and then give them a certain grade, all without having a ritual initiation experience?
Firstly, the Rosicrucian Order doesn’t recognize any system of self-initiation. Why not? Because it’s not necessary. Because, yes, an initiatory chain exists in the individual degrees, from the highest grades to the lowest grades. But the Rosicrucian order requires no system of self-initiation. Who needs such a system where one can self-initiate? Any organization that was simply founded by those who were never a part of an initiatory system. For if I am a part of an initiatory system, then I know that initiation only works through the transmission, from person to person — not from any kind of elevated being or some sort of abstract spiritual leader. Rather it is from person to person, and that is precisely the strength of a Rosicrucian system. That is the essence of Rosicrucianism: that every ritual is gradually carried out on the material plane and — to go even a step further — mustbe carried out on the material plane, since there are no rituals in the higher grades that take place in any kind of astral temple.
Therefore, a characteristic feature of an initiatory order is the carrying out of these rites on the material plane. That is the highest art and the highest accomplishment of a mystery school: that rituals are practiced on the material plane. High grades, low grades — just a complete system of the entire tree of life.
Of course there have always been aspirants that have sought to obtain higher initiation through self-initiation. Whether they were successful or not plays no role. The fact is they did not receive this through a Rosicrucian system, but rather they’ve become familiarized with other systems and made some experiments, and have chased after a great mystery that has been given to certain founders of orders — namely what is known as the White Brotherhood. Without knowing what this brotherhood is, we can find these great legends.
It may be that one find no higher stages, as is the case in some Freemasonry systems where the highest degrees are secretly preserved above. Interestingly, we also find this in Martinism: these unknown higher stages — and this doesn’t involve some ascended masters, these are real degrees, and not even particularly high degrees. And we also find this mystery in some organizations that are designated as Rosicrucian — specifically in the highest degrees. And it is here that one find this mixture of eastern and western teachings regarding ascended masters, without knowing who these ascended masters really are. And concerning this topic, there is a great deal of ignorance.
The system of Rosicrucians is structured alchemically. The lower grades, corresponding to the lower mysteries, are the Black Work. The higher mysteries, the stages of adepthood, are the White Work. The highest mysteries are the Red Work, the coronation of the Tree of Life. The middle triad is the White Work. The lower triad — including Malkuth, the lowest sphere — is the Black Work. Of course when one looks at the tree of life, it’s obvious that it would be a mistake if certain alchemical steps weren’t worked with, or if these steps would be reserved by any spiritual leader, as this would be a contradiction of Rosicrucianism. Rosicrucianism insists that these rituals must take place on the material plane. The alchemical work takes place in a ritual. This means the rituals of a Rosicrucian system are comparable to alchemical processes. Step by step we experience alchemical processes. Tempering; corrections of the soul; the individual steps of Alchemy.
And of course it would be a flawed system if certain steps were missing. If a system were to end at the grade of “five equals six,” and everything that comes out of the entrance of the Adept, the initiatory journey ends. Then this is a system that is built so that other stages can not be worked with ritually. This excludes the other grades from being worked on, just like a system that only has the lower grades, that is to say the lower mysteries, just like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was originally. This excludes the possibility that there are higher grades. That is why we find an entirely different ritual system that is, surprisingly, not compatible with the lower mysteries. And there we see that something isn’t really working well, and the entire system doesn’t really fit together.
What should we be looking for in a Rosicrucian system? First of all, that all grades are really worked upon and dealt with — otherwise this organization pretends that somewhere there are spiritual leaders and initiation can only be achieved on these higher spiritual planes. Indeed, we should quickly turn away from such organizations, as these organizations and their leaders don’t know what an initiatory path actually is. And there are a few of these blind organizations — regardless of how old they may be. Second, an organization that pretends to give instructions without initiation — to just hand over grades to us through instructions. Avoid such organizations straight away. They are “jester” organizations.
Am I worthy? Am I ready to experience an initiation on the material plane? If I am not yet ready, I will not experience it. Where are we incarnated? On the material plane. If it were necessary to have an initiation on the spiritual plane, we would not have incarnated. We come here into this manifest world so that we can work here on this level — and this include initiations. We do not need to perform anything at the spiritual level. When we are far enough developed, we will experience this on the material level. If our soul is not yet mature enough, life will prevent us from doing so. And so we will necessarily find only blind organizations, as it is only for these that we will have an affinity — both of us do not yet have the necessary maturity of soul. That is the law of resonance. It draws us to these — in quotation marks “charlatans” — who deceive us.
And one more matter that relates to Rosircrucianism: no promise is too small. Yes, the greatest promises that Rosicrucianism preserves are all attainable. But we still have to learn to differentiate because we have to learn to understand the language of the Rosicrucians, just as we must first learn the language of the Old and New Testaments in order to understand what is actually written there. To raise the dead does not mean marching around in the cemetery and then trying to bring some vampire to life. Rather death is a symbol of the secular man, and if we bring them to the land of the living, through the path of initiation, then this is the symbolic story of which even Christ was a testament, as well as many others. This means we must learn this symbolic language in order to interpret these stories correctly — so that we are not led down a false path. I have also given a lecture on healing once, which is really very important and is based on our various misjudgments about what the spiritual path really is.
Ultimately, it is about becoming humanity coming out of its fallen state into a state of perfection. That means going from the lowest state of degradation — through egoism, self-delusion, isolation — to finding oneself back into this original unity, with all our abilities and capacities. This is what the Rosicrucian system preserves for us. That is a promise that is inevitably attainable through the Rosicrucian system. Anyone who considers the great promise of the Rosicrucian system to be laughable has no idea what the Rosicrucian system is — he does not understand what the Rosicrucian really maintains. You can not research this historically. This can not be researched in encyclopedias — and certainly not by any critics who do not know the system and have only gotten secondary writings from various, random sources. They do not know what the Rosicrucian system is all about — specifically the experience of the ritual that stands behind it and the experience of the respective stages of initiation. This makes us a new person. This allows us to experience the alchemical processes step-by-step. This gives us a vehicle to use in the world so that we can express our full potential — in all the facets that are possible.
Yes, even these ascended masters have a role in this Tree of Life, but they are not as deeply rooted as some order leaders would like them to be. Quite to the contrary: the problem is not in this higher triad where the ascended masters are. That is not the problem. The problem is the world in transition. The Kabbalah speaks of the world from Assiah to the world of Yetzirah: these bridges— this is where the veils are. That’s the problem — specifically the transportation of something from the creative world to the world of manifestation in Assiah. That’s the big mystery and that’s why there is so much suffering and so many mistakes, because this is the biggest challenge: to transfer something from the world of Yetzirah to the world of Assiah. And of course, in the end, those of us in Assiah, we are all more or less trapped in what we find in Assiah.
It is enormously difficult to build a bridge from one world to another. The Rosicrucian system lives not only from a tree of life, but rather — if we have truly found the faith — we will be able to verify for ourselves, not only that this order exists in all trees of life — that is to say, in all worlds — but that there is simply no other alternative. Because when we look at someone’s age someone may seem highly initiated — Ipsissimus, for example. And this is just a few generations — and he then again raises into the next world, when the next task corresponds to this next world. And we can read this in the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah, who ascended in the chariot of fire — in his heavenly chariot — into the next world. That is a transition. Not a transition from the high mystery of adepthood to that of mastery; this is not the leap between worlds.
This is the misconception of those systems that have no initiation in higher levels, as they’ve simply not received anything — their souls were not yet ready. But at some point you have to question that too:
if there are lies somewhere in a system — and there are a few of them — there are countless phonies; many pretend to preserve something of value — but ultimately do not — and play their students for fools. But at some point in time, when the changes don’t begin immediately, where we are initiated, then we are in the wrong organization. Of course it may be that the student is simply not yet ready to perceive any changes consciously — but then we are also in the wrong organization, but in a positive sense. We also need a willingness to make certain changes, so that the rough edges and rough aspects of ourselves smooth out and become the perfected cube, which unfolds into a living cross with the rose in the middle. This is the way of the rosy cross.
And once more just to briefly summarize: if a Rosicrucian order does not cover all levels ritually on the material plane, then there is something wrong there. When a Rosicrucian order just passes on to us any instructions or teachings — instead of passing them on ritually through initiation — then something is not right there. If a Rosicrucian order talks everything down and reduces everything to these pseudo-intellectual concepts, rather than speaking about that which is truly essential — such as a living testament, as well as the Old Testament and even beyond that — then there is something wrong there; because there is no need for a spiritual path. You do not need an initiatory order. If it is not possible to receive — to even a minimal extent — that which has been propagated by the holy scriptures for thousands of years, then we do not need such an intense spiritual path — if we just want to wait for good luck.
The Rosicrucians preserves all this, but they are very selective. They do not just take every aspirant knocking on the door. We need preparation. And so such authentic organizations have other organizations in the foreground and preparatory organizations that prepare the candidates, until they are ready to knock on the door of the Rosicrucian order. And if the guardians of the tradition see the necessary conditions in the aspirants, this door is then opened to these aspirants. They must bring with them the right conditions. And this is also our protection mechanism for these aspirants, for no one will be allowed on this path who is not inwardly prepared — who doesn’t have the maturity of soul. It is not a system for beginners; it is a top-level system of development. Some organizations that use this concept of the Rose-Cross are really just adult kindergarten organizations. This path is not about flowery sayings; it’s about occultism and alchemy. The point is to truly and concretely change ourselves and to perform a service.
Since the Rosicrucian order does exist, there are lower forces that want to prevent the Rosicrucian order from continuing to exist. And what is the result? The Rosicrucian order becomes stronger and stronger. Resistance brings power. It’s like weight training. The more an organization is trained, the greater the resistance, the stronger the organization becomes. And now think about an organization that has been in existence for centuries, that has been on an initiatory journey for millennia, that exists in all worlds, where not every member is incarnate — let’s look at the power of such an organization; let’s consider the potential of such an organization. Then we know what we are dealing with. It’s not this way with some weekend seminar. This is a real initiatory course of instruction that takes on a dimension that we could not even hope for in our wildest dreams. And when all of this is possible on the material level, let’s think about what is possible in other worlds. That is the potential of the true and invisible Rosicrucian order.
Why invisible? Because it is not recognizable to the external, secular person. The true Rosicrucian is simply not recognizable outwardly; he is recognizable only to a true Rosicrucian — a true initiate. Are there online training courses from the Rosicrucians? No. there aren’t. The Rosicrucian order is an initiatory path. But, as I said, there are organizations in the foreground that prepare aspirants.
But that just means the mystery is in the background. These are the true leaders: in the background of the many spiritual paths. When the impulse from there ceases, these other organizations wither like dead cacti. And only those with misguided opinions believe they are truly ripe for real spiritual development.