NOVA ATLANTIS AND THE FRATERNITY OF THE ROSE CROSS
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By Morten St. George
In the disguise of a novel, the Nova Atlantis (New Atlantis in English) provides critical information on many aspects of the history of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross.
The Link to Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa
As we know, the great historian of the Incas spent much of his life in Peru.
"We sailed from Peru, where we had continued by the space of one whole year, for China and Japan, by the South Sea, taking with us victuals for twelve months; and had good winds from the east, though soft and weak, for five months' space and more. But then the wind came about, and settled in the west for many days, so as we could make little or no way, and were sometimes in purpose to turn back. But then again there arose strong and great winds from the south, with a point east; which carried us up, for all that we could do, toward the north: by which time our victuals failed us, though we had made good spare of them. So that finding ourselves, in the midst of the greatest wilderness of waters in the world, without victual, we gave ourselves for lost men, and prepared for death."
These are the opening lines of New Atlantis, a book about Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa's efforts to establish a Rosicrucian utopia in Australia. The novel is attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, but the profound knowledge of the Nostradamus prophecies expressed in this book point to John Florio as the author, and linguistic analysis reveals that he wrote it in Latin (Nova Atlantis). Thus, the above paragraph is a translation (now in the public domain), made by Bacon or translator unknown. The English translation was published shortly after Bacon's death and it is uncertain if, prior to his death, Bacon (great scientist, philosopher, and Rosicrucian in his own right) had given his consent or even if he knew anything about it.
The New Atlantis connects with two of the top three candidates for Shakespearean authorship: Sir Francis Bacon, whose name appears on the title page, and Christopher Marlowe, who is believed to have been on board that ship that sailed from Peru.
Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa -- under the assumed name of Lope de Vega -- departed from Peru in 1595 as captain of the Santa Isabel (see the article on Australia for more information). He was second in command of a fleet whose purpose was to colonize the Solomon Islands, thus many newly married couples were carried on board. At the far end of the Pacific, Gamboa's ship was lost in a fog. The other ships searched for him for two days and found nothing, so he was deemed to have perished.
"And it came to pass that the next day about evening we saw within a kenning before us, toward the north, as it were thick clouds, which did put us in some hope of land, knowing how that part of the South Sea was utterly unknown, and might have islands or continents that hitherto were not come to light."
Florio calls that island-continent Bensalem. Nostradamus called it Brisanne. It is no coincidence that the B - - s a - - - of Bensalem exactly matches the B - - s a - - - of Brisanne. Again, for details, please see the Australia article.
"It was the erection and institution of an order, or society, which we call Saloman's House, the noblest foundation, as we think, that ever was upon the earth, and the lantern of this kingdom … Some think it beareth the founder's name a little corrupted, as if it should be Solomon's House."
As was pointed out above, the official destination of Gamboa's fleet was the Solomon Islands. More likely than not, Gamboa broke away from the rest of the fleet on purpose: his goal was always to go to Terra Australis, not to the Solomon Islands.
A cabalist turns Rosicrucian
Let's pause for a moment to consider how we know the novel was originally written in Latin and not in English. It is all based on the root letters "sacerdot" which appear three times in the Latin version of the novel: twice in "Dixit sacerdotem se esse et sacerdotis mercedem expectare" and once in "aliquid a sacerdote Aegyptio quem citat hausisse". In the last instance, the Latin for the "Egyptian priest" should be "sacerdos Aegypti", or "Aegyptii sacerdotis", or "Aegyptium sacerdotis."
With several references to the "Spanish tongue" present in the novel, it becomes apparent that the "sacerdote Aegyptio" are not Latin words but Spanish words inserted into the Latin text. An English-to-Latin translator would never translate "Egyptian priest" as "sacerdote Aegyptio" but a Latin-to-English translator would certainly translate "sacerdote Aegyptio" as "Egyptian priest." Thus, the book was originally written in Latin. While the Latin "sacerdos" likely refers to a Christian priest, the Spanish "sacerdote" refers to person who performs the rites of any religion. Florio goes out of his way to draw this distinction. Why?
"(T)hey call him also the Milken Way, and the Eliah of the Messiah, and many other high names … And for the country of Bensalem, this man would make no end of commending it, being desirous by tradition among the Jews there to have it believed that the people thereof were of the generations of Abraham, by another son, whom they call Nachoran; and that Moses by a secret cabala ordained the laws of Bensalem which they now use; and that when the Messias should come, and sit in his throne at Hierusalem, the King of Bensalem should sit at his feet, whereas other kings should keep a great distance. But yet setting aside these Jewish dreams, the man was a wise man and learned, and of great policy, and excellently seen in the laws and customs of that nation."
That explains it. The "sacerdote Aegyptio" is an Egyptian rabbi. This rabbi is accepted as a valuable member of the Rosicrucian community, taking exception only to his "Jewish dreams." These dreams likely refer to Zionism, whose objective was cherished by the cabalists since the earliest of times (see the "gates of Zion" passage in the Sefer ha-Bahir). Nostradamus sums it up as follows:
Nouvelle loi terre neuve occuper,
Vers la Syrie, Judée, & Palestine,
Many years ago, I had already determined that the story about Isaac Luria having spent seven years living as a hermit on an island in the Nile River was a pure fairy tale, designed to cover up his having spent those seven years in Provence (France) studying the Cabala under Nostradamus. But he was reported to have died in Safed, Israel, in 1572, at the age of 38, and his grave is still extant. I was unable to find evidence that he faked his death and returned to Provence, that is, until now. (Other faked-deaths connected with Rosicrucianism include Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa and Christopher Marlowe.) Luria would have been just 50 years old in 1585 when the Rosicrucians were meeting at the French embassy in London. For my part; I'm going with Florio on this one. Put Luria down as the last guardian of the ancient prophecies and one of the founding fathers of the Rosicrucian movement.
Isaac Luria was commonly called Ha'ARI, the Lion, which translates into Latin as Leo, a constellation of the Milky Way ("they call him also the Milken Way"). He is frequently associated with the prophet Elijah ("and the Eliah of the Messiah"). Among his other high names ("and many other high names") stand Solomon (see "Solomon's House" above) as in Rabbi Isaac Ben Solomon Luria.
By the 13th century at the latest, the ancient prophecies of the Cabala (later incorporated into Nostradamus) became known as the Revelations of Elijah. Consequently, the myths about Luria and Elijah imply that Luria had contact with those ancient prophecies. Note also that these prophecies referred to the city of Londinium in three separate places, and similarly to how the prophecies may have inspired the cabalists to migrate from Babylonia to Europe, they assuredly influenced Luria's decision to migrate to London.
There is no mistake about Luria's identity here, and there can be no surprise that we find many references to the Cabala in Rosicrucian literature. Today, Luria is widely known in certain religious circles, but this is not true of his lifetime. His followers (small in number) were sworn to maintain secrecy, to speak only Hebrew, to have little or no contact with the outside world, and to ensure that nothing they wrote ever left Israel. Indeed, it was not until centuries later that the Lurianic literature first got published. The Nova Atlantis therefore reflects insider knowledge.
Being written in the grammatical first person, the Nova Atlantis may be from the viewpoint of Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa because he is the one who was lost at sea. Thus, when "the Jew" (Luria) tells the inner circle of Rosicrucians that he will meet with only one of them privately, and Florio writes: "I was the one chosen by my fellows for the private access," it is more likely (but not certain) that Gamboa -- rather than Florio -- was the one chosen.
And in this private encounter:
"His undergarments were the like that we saw him wear in the chariot; but instead of his gown, he had on him a mantle with a cape."
Look at 2 Kings 2:11-14: "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire ... and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven … And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Thus, the "mantle" became the classic symbol of the passing on of prophetic powers. The ancient prophecies, from where one can discern the future, now pass from the cabalists into the hands of the Rosicrucians.
Bensalem was an imagined country that initially had a grand total of only four inhabitants (the founding fathers of Rosicrucianism). But Florio refers to the "Jews" (in the plural) that lived there. Thus, the second Jew (Luria was the first) would have to be Florio himself, who in fact had Jewish ancestry. (Recent investigations have cast doubt on whether Michelangelo Florio (of Jewish ancestry) was John Florio's real father or merely his guardian. In the second case, the other Jew in Bensalem would have to be Michel de Montaigne.)
The expanded objectives of the Rosicrucians as set forth in their second manifesto (New Atlantis) were summarized as follows:
"The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible."
--John Florio, alias William Shakespeare, here writing under the name of fellow Rosicrucian Sir Francis Bacon.
The Link to Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco)
In the Nova Atlantis, the Rosicrucians trace their philosophy to a secret Cabala, which originated in Coya, ancient name of Peru (1). Colla, pronounced Coya, was the Inca name for the region of Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku). Gamboa: "que ahora llaman Tiaguanaco, que es de la provincia de Collasuyo."
The Rosicrucians go on to indicate that this Cabala was in fact a book, containing fabulous poetry, and that it came down to Tiwanaku from the skies above that ancient city (2) and was later delivered to the Mediterranean region (3). In brief, on the authority of this Rosicrucian classic (along with the writings of Giordano Bruno on cabalistic themes and on the theme of extraterrestrial life), the Rose Cross derives its inspiration from a book of cabalistic poems written by the Andean sky god. As it turns out, those poems -- elements of which manifest themselves in all Rosicrucian writings including the plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare -- are the gateway to reconstructing the history of the Rose Cross.
(1) "Peruviae tunc Coyam vocatam." Rosicrucianism comes from Peru: "Coya per Mare Australe usque ad hanc insulam nostram."
(2) "urbem." The "per secretam quandam cabalam" correlates with the "per scalam quandam caeli", which is followed by "sic fabulosa et poetica." Thus, the Cabala (the name of the ancient prophecies) gets linked to the skies ("caeli") above Tiwanaku.
(3) Outward expeditions from the Americas included the transport of the Cabala: "expeditione, videtur auctor ille vester." And it reached Western civilization: "per Atlanticum Mare usque ad Mare Mediterraneum."
In brief, the Nova Atlantis reveals that, in the end, the Rosicrucians concluded that the ancient prophecies were not written by the Holy Ghost as they had always believed but rather by the Andean sky god.
The Link to Nostradamus
Wikipedia says that the Latin Nova Atlantis was published in 1624 but so far I have been unable to find any independent confirmation of that. The English New Atlantis, a Work unfinished, was reportedly attached to a 1627 publication in 1629. If it wasn't originally in that 1627 publication, the 1629 date may be doubtful. In 1633, there appeared Novus Atlas: opus imperfectum Latine conscriptum ab Illustri viro Francisco Bacone. This translates as New Atlas, an imperfect work written in Latin by the illustrious Francis Bacon. Nova Atlantis Fragmentorum alterum (Other Fragments) was published in 1638, and Novus Atlas was published again in 1648.
The words "A Work unfinished" and "Other fragments" imply that the Nova Atlantis concerns exactly that: fragments, fragments of the lives of the founding fathers of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross, fragments of the events leading to the formation of that secret society, and fragments of the activities and objectives of that secret society.
Basil Montagu (The works of Francis Bacon) quotes Archbishop Tenison as saying: "This fable of the New Atlantis in the Latin edition of it, and in the Frankfort collection, goeth under the false and absurd title of Novus Atlas : as if his lordship had alluded to a person, or a mountain, and not to a great island, which according to Plato perished in the ocean." Others have also referred to the Novus Atlas title as ridiculous. For obvious reasons, however, it could be a mistake to imply that a Rosicrucian was being "ridiculous."
Look at the following:
Ceulx de Tunes, de Fez, & de Bugie,
I here present thee with the crown of Fez,
Zu Fessa (oder Fasen, Fez) machet er kundeschafft.
(The German text is quoted from a 1681 copy of an earlier edition and includes the parenthesis.)
As it turns out, according to Wikipedia, the city of Fez derives its name from an old Berber word (Fazaz) that meant Middle Atlas mountains. Consequently, the Novus Atlas title is fully plausible because it connects with Fez. Note that the letters "s" and "z" were often interchangeable in the orthography of that epoch, so the Fama -- even though it expresses some uncertainty about the meaning of Fessa -- points to the Berber word. Like Baconus, Shakespeare goes with Atlas: "the demi-Atlas of this earth" (the "demi" comes from a Fez-related passage of Nostradamus). Perhaps the strongest affirmation of the Atlas title can be found in the second vignette of the famed Benoist Rigaud edition of the Nostradamus prophecies:
The Rosicrucians sometimes published differing versions of certain text with the objective of drawing attention to vital information or to provide additional information or clues. For example, this phenomenon is evident from textual variants in the prophecies and in the Epistle (in French) of Nostradamus. English translations are available for both the Epistle (second introduction in prose) and the Letter (first introduction in prose). Thus, both titles, Novus Atlas and Nova Atlantis, were likely the invention of Florio. Also note that Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, who included a fabled history of isla Atlantica (Atlantis) in the introduction to his Historia de los Incas, may have been an influence on this matter.
Needless to say, the first Rosicrucian manifesto, like the second Rosicrucian manifesto, appeared with two distinct titles: Fama Fraternitatis, Des Löblichen Ordens des Rosencreutzes and Fama Fraternitatis, Oder Brüderschafft, des Hochlöblichen Ordens des R. C. Though textual discrepancies between the two editions of each manifesto are few, those variants provide important clarifications in regard to Rosicrucian translation of the ancient prophecies.
More Links to Nostradamus
Sometimes the Nostradamus influence on Rosicrucian writings is so subtle that it cannot be found by merely matching words.
NOSTRADAMUS (translated from French)
"In the year 580 ...
In the year 700 ..."
Take note of a span of 120 years.
NOSTRADAMUS (translated from French)
"In the year 1607 ...
In the year 1727 ..."
Once again, note a span of 120 years.
FAMA FRATERNITATIS (Latin insertion into German text)
"POST CXX ANNOS PATERO"
Written in all capital letters, this is one of the most noteworthy lines of the Fama. It translates as After 120 years I will appear.
NOVA ATLANTIS (translated from Latin)
"Do not think with yourselves that I know not how much it is increased with you within these sixscore years; I know it well: and yet I say, greater then than now."
The phrase "sixscore years" means 120 years.
Conclusion: References to the ancient prophecies (a small subset of the Nostradamus prophecies) permeate the text of Marlowe, Shakespeare, Fama Fraternitatis and Nova Atlantis. Hence, those prophecies are the key for solving questions of author identification and the gateway for unmasking the Fraternity of the Rose Cross.
Still Another Link to Nostradamus
Though all of the writings of Sir Francis Bacon have yet to be evaluated, enough was seen to conclude that Bacon was largely unfamiliar with the ancient prophecies. Meanwhile, the author of the Nova Atlantis demonstrates that he was an absolute expert in those prophecies, as here illustrated.
L’oyseau Royal sur la Cité solaire,
Sept moys deuant fera nocturne augure:
Mur d’Orient cherra tonnerre esclaire,
Sept iours aux portes les ennemis à l’heure,
Annos circa viginti ab ascensione domini factum est, ut conspiceretur a populo Rensusae, urbis maritimae, ad Orientalem plagam regionis nostrae sitae noctu - nox autem erat nubila sed placida - iuxta mille passus a littore columna lucis praealta. Non figura pyramidi sed veluti cylindri e pelago versus caelum erecta et in vertice eius crux lucis ampla, corpore columnae aliquanto splendidior.
The "populo Rensusae" in Baconum (Nova Atlantis) reminds us of the "Rhenum populos" of Lucanus that was translated into English under the name of Marlowe. Since the Nova Atlantis makes frequent reference to the Spanish language, we have to note that "populo" as "p - - - - o" fills in with "pajaro," bird, " oiseau" in Nostradamus. Also note the following:
Rensusa is a city: "Cité" in Nostradamus, "urbis" in Baconum.
It's a maritime city: "portes," seaports, in Nostradamus, "maritimae" in Baconum.
These seaports are located in the Orient: "Orient" in Nostradamus, "Orientalem" in Baconum.
The bird flies throughout the night: "nocturne" in Nostradamus, "noctu" in Baconum.
And there are two outbursts of brilliant light: "solaire" and "esclaire" in Nostradamus, "lucis" and "splendidior" in Baconum.
Beyond Nostradamus, the Baconus text makes reference to clouds ("nubila"), to an object in the shape of a cylinder ("cylindri"), to the distance of a mile ("mille"), and to a radiating column ("columna lucis") that stretches upward into the sky ("caelum") and expands ("ampla") on top ("in vertice").
Tommaso Campanella's knowledge of La città del Sole ("cité solaire" in Nostradamus), a city with seven walls ("Sept" and "Mur" in Nostradamus), may have come from Florio's friend Giordano Bruno, from when Bruno and Campanella were imprisoned together by the Roman Inquisition. Being unable to extract information from Giordano by direct torture, the Inquisition planted spies into his cell in hopes that he would reveal something in conversation with his fellow inmates. But that may be assuming too much. Both of these Utopian classics -- The City of the Sun and the New Atlantis -- advocate technological progress, both take a strong stance against marriage, and, above all, both make factual errors to draw attention to Japan (traditional Japanese clothing of that epoch was colorful, not black; and Japan -- at 36° north latitude -- can hardly be found in or near the South Sea).
In the preceding paragraph, it was indeed insinuated that Florio may have played a direct role in the redaction of the Italian Utopia. In addition to English, Latin, French, and German, he knew how to write in Italian. Recall that he was a royal instructor in French and Italian.
The Rose Cross Connection
The Nostradamus stanza which was presented above comes from the "Rose Cross" edition of the first seven Centuries, dated 1590. Other editions are the same but with a small "r" and a small "c" in the first line. The Fama gives the fifth commitment of the Rosicrucian brotherhood as follows: "daß Wort R. C. soll ihr Siegel, Losung vnd Character sein," the word R.C. should be their seal, mark, and character.
Hence, it's the Rose Cross! : Royal … Cité in Nostradamus, Rensusae … crux (the Rosae Crucis of Rosicrucian fame) in Baconum.
Of course, references to the Rose Cross also appear in the works of Shakespeare:
"From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's Rose might never die,
These are the first two lines of the Shakespearean sonnets. The 1609 Quarto displays "Rose" (with capital "R" and italicized) but this was changed to "rose" in subsequent printings. Scholars believe that "Rose" should be a proper name or at least be pointing to one, but not knowing any person or place of that name, they have merrily supported changing "Rose" to "rose." Perhaps Shakespearean scholars have never heard of the Rose Cross.
Another idea would be to put a capital "C" on the cross, where such "C" would be the fifth letter in the phrase "Rose Cross." Florio manages this in Henry the Fourth where we find a verbal "rose" that is followed, five lines down, by the only appearance of "Charing Cross." In Henry the Sixth, we encounter "Mortimer's Cross" where the final "r's" represents the "ros" of "rose" and combines with Cross to allude to the Rose Cross. In Twelfth Night, we see an abundance of "roses" and "cross-garter'd," and of course we must not forget the sweet smelling "rose" and "star-cross'd lovers" of Romeo and Juliet. Wherever feasible, and especially so in his younger days, Florio discreetly inserts a reference to the Rose Cross into his work.
In The Rape of Lucrece, we find the "the red rose" and a "thousand crosses" while Venus and Adonis gives us the "red-rose chain" and "crosses with a thousand doubles." Venus and Adonis, however, reflects no knowledge of the ancient prophecies and authorship of it must therefore be considered doubtful.