FAMA FRATERNITATIS AND THE FRATERNITY OF THE ROSE CROSS
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By Morten St. George
The term "R.C." standing for Rosae Crucis (Rose Cross in English) first appears in the Rosicrucian manifesto Fama Fraternitatis, printed in Germany in 1614, with many reprints and translations throughout Europe.
In the four hundred years that followed (the year 2014 marked the 400th anniversary of that publication), no one has ever adequately explained the historical origin of the "Rose Cross" or what it means. Many have guessed at this but, of course, guesses in this case are not worth very much. To truly understand what the Rose Cross is, one must track it down to the source that gave rise to the term. Since the Fama indicates that the purpose of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross was to publish Librum M., ie. the Nostradamus prophecies, it stands to reason that the term "Rose Cross" was derived from those prophecies.
On the Origin and Meaning of the Term "Rose Cross"
The most pertinent reference to a cross in Nostradamus is "Pontife ... Chasser la Croix par fer raffe ni riffe". A great Rosicrucian, Giordano Bruno, believed that the Christians stole the design of the cross from the ancient Egyptians. For Egypt, Nostradamus give us "Memphis," the capital city of ancient Egypt.
First of all, let's clarify that Bruno never wrote anything about thievery. This information comes from Inquisition records. The Inquisition planted a spy inside Bruno's prison cell, and the spy reported back to the Inquisition that Bruno said the Christians stole the design of the cross from the Egyptians. So what was so secretive about the Cross and Egypt that Bruno never put it in writing? An investigation is warranted, necessitating a look at the complete text of the prophecies in question:
These two stanzas are linked together not only by Bruno but also by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa:"Et depuis l'entrèe de Jacob en Egypte jusqu' à l'issuë d'icelui passerent quatre cens trente ans." Memphis represents Egypt. Thus, 1079 (stanza X-79) less the 430 ("quatre cens trente") gives us 649 (stanza VI-49 where we find the Cross). For more illustrations of pointers to the real prophecies, see La cryptographie de la Rose-Croix.
The words "la Croix" (the Cross) in VI-49 are first seen in the 17th century. Earlier editions give us the less offensive "les croix" (the crosses). The entire stanza was suppressed in the Roger edition of 1589, suggesting that it was considered too dangerous to print (it predicts an attempt to assassinate the Pope). In French, "croix" can be either singular or plural, but the appearance of "la croix" (referring to the same Pontiff) in prophecy III-77 assures us that the singular version is correct.
Below "Memphis" in X-79, we find "fleur de lys", a heraldic device in the shape of a lily but apparently derived from the iris of ancient Egypt. (Wikipedia claims that the red fleur-de-lis descends from the white iris.) Without revealing its source, the Online Etymology Dictionary states that iris originally meant “messenger of the gods,” which is exactly what the mythological Mercury was, the messenger of the gods (and he just happens to appear in the fleur-de-lis line!). Anyway, the French "fleur" means flower, and with the widely-traveled Hercules also present, we are inclined to move our “flower” from Egypt over to Europe.
At the end of VI-49, the "rubes" was an adjective that referred to the color red, but is here used as a noun. The "cent mille rubes" therefore translates as a hundred thousand things of red color, though we might mention that, in 1672, Theophilus de Garencières had a radically different opinion: "A Ruble is a piece of Gold of the great Mogul, worth two or three pound sterling."
In an esoteric interpretation of Prophecy X-79, the old roads ("vieux chemins") of ancient Memphis are embellished ("embellys") into the roads of a new Memphis, located in a place called "somentree." Unfortunately, "somentree." is not recognizable as a word in any language except that the first two letters ("so") could be an abbreviation of the English words south or southern, the next three letters ("men") could be the English word men, and the last four letters ("tree") could be the English word tree, suggesting a place located in a heavily wooded area. From there, the interpretation maintains that "somentree" symbolizes an American word likewise having nine letters: TENnesSEE, whose state flower is the iris (see above), and concludes that Martin Luther King was assassinated because of his opposition to the Vietnam War: the armaments trade (Mercury was also the god of commerce) will flourish, making tremble land, sea, and country.
Returning to reality, the Rosicrucians give us multiple indications that the "Danube" (seen in VI-49) is a translation of the Latin "Hister." The Latin Hister did not refer to the entire Danube River but only to the Lower Danube, that is, the part of the river where it enters the Black Sea. In ancient times, the region of Hister was known as Thracia.
In the end, we are left with a great mystery that has the following components: a Cross, the region of Thracia, a flower, and a hundred thousand things of red color. This is what the Online Etymology Dictionary has to say: "The rose was a special growth of Macedonia & the Thracian region as well as of Persia, & the Lat. & Gk. names prob. came from a Thraco-Phrygian source."
And so we wind up with the Rose Cross, now incorporated into the name of a new secret society (Fraternity of the Rose Cross). Regarding contemporary pretenders to Rosicrucian heritage, note that depictions of a cross with a single rose attached to it are not correct. The real Rose Cross was entirely composed of roses, much like a funeral wreath. And depictions of a white rose -- sometimes seen -- are also incorrect. These roses are red in color. Popular suggestions about what the rose cross might symbolize have no basis in the Rosicrucian manifestos. Per our analysis, we surmise that the Rose Cross symbolizes war against the cross ("Croix") of the Papacy (the "grand Pontife" of VI-49) and, by extension, against its Inquisition that suppressed scientific progress, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.
The Protestant Rosicrucians of London configured the Rose Cross as a symbol of rebellion against Roman Catholicism: the hundred thousand roses of subjugated Thracia collate together in the form of a cross to battle the Cross of Rome. In classical times, the kingdom of Thracia revolted against Rome prior to being annexed as a Roman province, and this historical event could have inspired the idea of a rebellion of the roses (Shakespeare: "A hundred thousand rebels die in this!" and Marlowe: "So the fierce troops of Thracian Rhesus fell"). Unbeknownst to the Rosicrucians, however, Latin poetry does not follow the logic of English grammar: the real subjugator of Thracia (Bulgaria) was the "Party of Mammer" and not the great Pontiff!
For whatever reasons, the Rosicrucians did not want the prophecies to be condemned by the Catholic Church, and they took extreme measures not to publish anything that could offend the Church. "Mammar" is a case in point. By processing "Mammar" through the "Mammel" of X-44 and the "Memire" of VIII-42, we get the original word: "Memel," a river of northeastern Europe, now called the Neman River. Wikipedia lists the following countries as forming the Neman basin: Belarus, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia), and Poland. Obviously, suggesting that a great Pontiff would come from this region would be serious affront to the long-standing Italian monopoly on the Papacy, and so Memel had to be muffled into Mammar. By the way, the indicated region was, back in the 20th century, the heartland of a now extinct party known as the Communist Party.
This is not one of the ancient prophecies. It is one of many passages written by the Rosicrucians to explain the origins and purpose of their secret society.
In the first line, the Rosicrucians affirm that the "great Pontiff" of VI-49 is in fact a Pontiff of the Roman Catholics. In the second line, the two rivers ("deux fleuves") have to be the two rivers of VI-49: the Lower Danube, which forms the northern frontier of Bulgaria, and Memel River which, from back in the days when it was called Memel rather than Neman, formed the northeastern frontier of the Kingdom of Poland. The third line warns the Pope of the impending disaster: your blood ("sang") will spill.
The last word of the last line is the most critical of all. Finally, we see it in print: "rose," which means rose, as in Rose Cross. It is therefore confirmed that the Rose Cross derives its name from a Bulgarian attack on a Polish Pope, where this great Pontiff loses blood but may not die because there is no mention of his death.
Whenever the opportunity arises, this website makes an effort to view the ancient prophecies in a favorable light. It is felt that the authorship conspiracies of the Rose Cross cannot be adequately understood without an appreciation for the magical powers of those prophecies. --Morten St. George
On the Meaning of "Damcar" in the Fama Fraternitatis
One of the great mysteries of the Fama Fraternitatis is a mystical city called Damcar, in Arabia, which appears to have played an important role in the formation of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross. While today the word "Arabia" tends to refer to the Arabian Peninsula, the Fama is probably using it merely to refer to lands inhabited by Arabs. Across four centuries, scholars have tried to identify the city of Damcar, but without success.
The likely reason for using Damcar, rather than the real name of the mystical city, is that the real name would openly identify the founder of the Rosicrucian secret society, surely something they wanted to keep a secret. In 1652, the first English translator of the Fama, Thomas ("Rosie") Vaughan (who is quoted below), was totally confused by the meaning of Damcar, but thinking that it might be alluding to Damascus, opted to translate it as Damasco, an invented word that could refer to either or both of these places. Original German words are in brackets:
"Brother C.R. ... went to Damasco [Damascum], minding from thence to go to Jerusalem; but by reason of the feebleness of his body he remained still there, and by his skill in Physick he obtained much favour with the Turks : In the mean time he became by chance acquainted with the Wise men of Damasco [Damcar] in Arabia, and beheld what great Wonders they wrought, and how Nature was discovered unto them;"
Here we learn that Damcar was a city of wise men who were philosophically active. Since Brother C. R. became familiar with them in Damascus, Syria, we have to assume that the city of Damcar is relatively close to the city of Damascus.
The Fama continues: "hereby was that high and noble Spirit of Brother C.R. [C.R.C] so stirred up, that Jerusalem was not so much now in his mind as Damasco [Damcar]; also he could not bridle his desires any longer, but made a bargain with the Arabians, that they should carry him for a certain sum of money to Damasco [Damcar]; he was but of the age of sixteen years when he came thither, yet of a strong Dutch [teutschen] constitution."
First of all, we observe that Brother C. R. and Brother C. R. C. cannot be the same person because Brother C. R. is afflicted with "the feebleness of his body" but Brother C. R. C. is only 16 years old and of strong constitution. Thus, while Brother C. R. is stuck in Damascus, Brother C. R. C. has to be in Jerusalem. Since Brother C. R. C. pays some Arabs to carry him to Damcar, we have to assume that Damcar is relatively close to Jerusalem.
The city of Damcar is therefore close to Damascus and it is also close to Jerusalem. Where is it located? Obviously, the city of Damcar has to be in northern Israel.
We must now concentrate on the word "Dutch" toward the end of the last quote. Since "Damcar" is a mystery, could it be an anagram of a Dutch word? Try DRAKEN, rearranged as Denkar, pronounced Damcar. Dragons. Yes, dragons. But a better translation of "teutschen" might be German rather than Dutch. The German word for dragon is "Drachen," which is close enough because the Germanic "c," "ch" and "k" have similar sounds, and all the same arguments apply.
For the Christian mentality of the early 17th century, the words "dragon" and "Arabia" would quickly conjure up only one thing: Saint George (Nostradamus: "Cassich Saint George"). This saint was famous for killing the dragon (Shakespeare: "Saint George, that swing'd the dragon"), by some legends near the Bay of Beirut, and by others in the Holy Land or in Libya, all Arabic places.
Next, we must take note of the noble "Spirit" in the Brother C. R. C. quote, which reminds us of the two Sancti Spiritus and the Spiritum Sanctum from elsewhere in the Fama. Thus, the Fama probably wants us to view only the "Saint" as a clue (and disregard the "George" except to work in English as this was the patron saint of England!). "Saint" is a word that has five letters and begins with the letter "S."
Conclusion: the city of Damcar is a famous mystical city renowned for its wise men, and it is located in northern Israel. The real name of this city has five letters and begins with the letter "S."
Safed, a city of northern Israel, was the originating city of modern mysticism, known as Kabbalah. In the 15th and 16th centuries, wise men came from many places -- from as far away as Spain -- to congregate there. There can be no doubt that the intended city is Safed because the Fama refers to the Kabbalah (Cabala) or cabalists in four different places.
Isaac Luria, famed founder of the Lurianic Kabbalah, was 36 years old (16 plus 20 or the "XX" part of "CXX" in the Fama) when he arrived in Safed in 1570 after getting a cold reception in Jerusalem ("Jerusalem was not so much now in his mind"). But in Damcar (Safed) "the Wise men received him not as a stranger (as he himself witnesseth) but as one whom they had long expected," and indeed that was the case.
The Nova Atlantis, sequel to the Fama Fraternitatis, continues the story of Isaac Luria and his role in the formation of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross.
On the Meaning of "our building" in the Fama Fraternitatis
In the last sentence of the Fama, the hundred thousand roses get transformed into the hundred thousand readers of the Nostradamus prophecies (today the number of readers has soared into the millions): "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, a drawing, pretending to be Rosicrucian, displayed a “building” with windows and doors. They clearly had no idea, and I'm not going to try to explain it to a wicked world other than quote the Fama: "they made also the first part of the Book M: but in respect that the labor was too heavy, and the unspeakable concourse of the sick hindred them, and also whilst his new building (called Sancti spiritus) was now finished, they concluded to draw and receive yet others more into their Fraternity."
Consequently, the "building" is nothing other than the Nostradamus prophecies, where "building" has to be understood in the sense of a compiling of elements. The "first part of the Book" would be the first seven Centuries, published in 1589 (a similar edition dated 1588 exists but its authenticity is questionable), but completion of the book (all ten Centuries) was hindered by the sick: Catholic efforts to invade England (Spanish Armada) had to be dealt with first. The Fama implies that the writing and publication of the Nostradamus prophecies (Book M. as in Les Propheties de M. Michel Nostradamus) was the foremost objective of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross.
Like Florio in the Fama Fraternitatis, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa in the second prose introduction to Nostradamus refers to the ancient prophecies as the Holy Spirit: "la venue du S. esprit procedant du 48. degré", the coming of the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the 48 degree, where the first of the ancient prophecies to present itself is the 48th quatrain of the 1st Century. The concept of the Holy Spirit (or the Holy Ghost in crude English translation of S. esprit) likely derives from the light-emitting substance (so indicated by Gamboa in the first prose introduction to Nostradamus) on which the prophecies were redacted. For similar reason, the medieval cabalists referred to the prophecies as the "divine essence."
On the Fama Fraternitatis and Rosicrucian Cryptography
The one word that best describes Rosicrucian cryptography is fragmentation: chronologies, names and attributes are all mixed up. Almost everything is out of context, and very often the truth is the exact opposite of what is said. Rosicrucians are named by their initials, more likely representing an alias or nickname than the real name, but what is said about each Rosicrucian, though a true statement in and of itself, applies to a Rosicrucian other than the one named. Let's illustrate:
"(H)e spent a great time in the mathematics, and made many fine instruments,"
Who's this? Wikipedia says John Dee "was a mathematician" who had "an important collection of mathematical and astronomical instruments" and who "developed new instruments."
"Brother R.C., his deceased father's brother's son"
The initials R.C. are applied to several Rosicrucians, so one of them may very well be Robert Cecil. In that case, his deceased mother's sister's (always consider the opposite) son would be Sir Francis Bacon.
Wikipedia says that William Cecil's "house is one of the principal examples of 16th-century Elizabethan architecture." However, a stronger possibility would be the architect Inigo Jones.
"who had determined to go to the Holy Land."
Almost certainly this is Isaac Luria, the Fama's "Cabalista," but the one who was "well learned in Cabala" may be Giordano Bruno (author of Cabala del cavallo pegaseo) rather than Luria.
"(H)e cured a young Earl of Norfolk of the leprosy"
The aristocrat with the strongest ties to the Elizabethan Norfolks (both Thomas Howard and Philip Howard) was Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.
"as much as possibly could be, their burial place should be kept secret"
We know that Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa and Christopher Marlowe were buried in unmarked graves, but this statement may also apply to Edward de Vere. Wikipedia: "Although this document and the parish registers confirm Oxford's burial there, his cousin Percival Golding later claimed that his body was interred at Westminster." Sounds like no one knows for sure where de Vere is buried.
One of the great mysteries of English Rosicrucianism is the language of the Nostradamus prophecies: Nostradamus' Latinized French, with borrowings from medieval French, is fully credible for a mid-16th century French prophet. Florio was a royal instructor in French, and de Vere and Elizabeth were certainly competent in French, but they were not native speakers of French so it seems doubtful that they could write archaic French poetry like what we see in Nostradamus without making glaring errors. Who transitioned their French into the prophetic French of Nostradamus?
The greatest expert in the French language ever to set foot on English soil during the Elizabethan era was a scholar by the name Joseph Justus Scaliger, so he was to be the answer. For sure, the Fama confirms that one of the Rosicrucians was a Frenchman:
"After that A. in Gallia Narbonensi was deceased"
This fragment is pure cryptography, and the solution cannot be found in any history book. To decode this, one must turn to the Fama's Book M. (Nostradamus) where we find the following consecutive lines:
Non loin d'Agen attendra le Gaulois,
Secours Narbonne deceu par entretien.
Here we see Gallia (Gaulois) quickly followed by Narbonensi (Narbonne): Gallia Narbonensi. But look what else we see: Agen, Scaliger's place of birth (the opposite again) and long-term residence.
Rose Cross Miscellany
1. Today, the term "Rosy Cross" (instead of "Rose Cross") is frequently seen. The "Rosy" (originally spelled "Rosie") was a quirk of a German to English translator of the 17th century. Both the German "Rosen," roses, and the Latin version "Rosae" are nouns, not adjectives. Thus, the word "Rosy" should be ignored for scholarly endeavors.
2. Many sources claim that there was a second Rosicrucian manifesto called Confessio Fraternitatis and a third manifesto called Chymical Wedding. Please be advised that these works were not written by Rosicrucians but rather by charlatans trying to take advantage of the Fama's success for financial gain. The real continuation of the Fama (completing the early history of the Rose Cross) was written in the Latin language and is called Nova Atlantis.
Note that the Fama indicates that Florio was sent away to study when he was five years old but in truth he was seven years old, a difference of two years. Thus, when the Fama says "our Confession, where we do set down thirty-seven reasons wherefore we now do make known our Fraternity," it is merely referring to the thirty-nine (adding two) ancient prophecies (the "trente neuf articles à la derniere Centurie" seen on the title page of the Paris editions) that the Rosicrucians incorporated into their Nostradamus.
3. After quatrain IV-53, Ménier 1589 (one of the Paris editions) states: "PROPHETIES DE M. Mostradamus, adioustees outre les precedentes impressions," which leaves little doubt that the Book M. (an M followed by a period) of the Fama refers to Nostradamus. The Roffet 1588 edition, in addition to correcting the "dix sept" of V-92 to "dix- sep," corrects "Mostradamus" to "Nostradamus," which is sufficient to establish Roffet as a fraud. The first genuine publication of the prophecies very likely occurred in 1589.
4. The "M." of the Book M. of the Fama got inserted into the full title: Les Propheties de M. Michel Nostradamus, and later, as if to affirm that the author of Nostradamus was Shakespeare, once again got inserted into a title: "M. William Shake-speare, HIS True Chronicle History of the life and death of King Lear, and his three Daughters."
5. It may be no coincidence that the name of the "Holy Ghost" (the "Sancti Spiritus" employed by the Fama to refer to the ancient prophecies) was adopted by the Shakespearean printer William Leake: "dwelling at the sign of the Holy Ghost, in Paules Churchyard."