Christian Rosencreutz is an adopted name, illustrating the beliefs of Fevvers' purchaser. Rosicrucianism is a philosophical secret society founded in mediaeval Germany by the original Christian Rosenkreuz. In his lifetime it consisted of no more than eight members, each having sworn an oath to heal the sick, to maintain the secrecy of the fellowship and to find a replacement for himself before he died. The early manifestos of the Order caused excitement in Europe by hinting at the existence of a secret brotherhood preparing to transform the artistic, scientific and religious landscape of the day. However, its associated secrecy resulted in a myriad of public theories and interpretations of its purposes and beliefs, which now form a complex and often contradictory history.
Rosicrucianism is associated with Christianity and particularly Protestantism, and is said to have had an influence on the development of the Freemasons society. The name of the order literally means 'Rose-cross' (from Latin 'rosae' and 'crux'), based on the symbol of a red flower and gold crucifix shared with the Knights Templar. This symbol had both public and secret meanings, allowing members of the Order to distinguish their true fellows from uninitiated outsiders.
The inner meaning of the name and symbol derives from different origins, 'ros' and 'crucis'. Ros is Latin for dew, in alchemical terms the pure essence refined through the power of vitriol and heat. Crucis implies transformation, as Christ transformed the fate of humanity through his suffering at the crucifixion. The colour red symbolises the sacrifice involved in achieving transformation.
Today there are several distinct orders bearing the name Rosicrucian, and their beliefs are bound up with Gnosticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, Masonic orders and esoteric Christianity. Like Gnostics, Rosicrucians seek not earthly love but esoteric and spiritual standards and inner, individual truth, and it can be argued that any temporary order or fellowship is secondary to each follower's personal quest for enlightenment.
Rosicrucian beliefs and rituals are at the root of the religious conspiracy theory developed in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (2003) and its forerunner, Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) by Michael Baigent, R ichard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
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Carter's Christian Rosencreutz appears to follow a distinctly confused version of Rosicrucianism, bound up with fear of the female. The interpretation of the cross as phallus, and the rose as femininity, is not unique but in traditional Rosicrucianism it is more often celebrated as a union of opposites than portrayed as a battle between conflicting forces. In the next chapter he goes on to call upon figures from Greek, Roman and Christian religion and mythology, and to distort alchemical theories into exhortations to sacrifice. The next few bookmarks unwrap some of these references to illustrate the full range of his personal mythology.