Updated: Jan 11
In Quakertown, Pennsylvania, you may stumble upon an unusual sight. Just off a winding country road sit multiple pyramids, a chapel and gardens, a temple and more. Why? I can answer that.
Secret societies have captured the imagination of mankind for centuries. There are quite literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of secret societies, depending on how you define them. So, let’s do that. By definition, a secret society is a club or an organization whose activities, events, inner functioning, or membership are concealed from non-members. A society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence.
Freemasons alone have an estimated 3.6 million members worldwide. The Skull and Bones Society at Yale University has a long list of powerful business leaders and politicians who were once members, including Presidents William Taft, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. The Loyal Order of the Moose also boasts over a million members.
Secretive religious groups like Knights Templar and Opus Dei were brought more into the public eye by Dan Brown in "The Da Vinci Code" (great book). Unfortunately, we can’t forget about groups like the KKK or clubs that focus on satanism. But we can ignore them.
My focus today starts with the occult
What comes to mind when you think of the occult? A lot of people immediately get uncomfortable with the term, drumming up disturbing images of the Manson family aftermath or the Peoples Temple, more commonly known as Jonestown, where 909 people were poisoned to death. Those were actually cults.
There’s a difference between cults and occults. Occult simply means “hidden” or “generally unknown.” Unlike cults, occults follow similar patterns and belief systems. They’re generally interested in science, history, the arts and philosophy, bettering themselves through ancient practices, even magic. This brings us to esotericism. Stay with me.
What is Esotericism?
Esotericism is a term under which scholars have categorized a wide range of loosely-related ideas and movements developed in Western Society. The concept of esoteric originated in the second century with the coining of the Ancient Greek adjective esôterikós (belonging to an inner circle).1
Esotericism refers to the doctrines or practices of esoteric knowledge, or the quality or state of being obscure. Gaining esoteric knowledge is specialized or advanced in nature, available only to a narrow circle of “enlightened,” “initiated,” or highly-educated people.2
Esotericism is not a single belief system, but Societies and Orders falling under the category generally use Mystery School teachings to advance. Mystery Schools dedicate themselves to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the mystery teachings derived from such places as Egypt and Greece. Throughout the ages, Mystery Schools have hidden in plain sight. They have built magnificent temples all over the world. Their initiates are those who are known as the Guardians, the Protectors, the Light Bearers, the Teachers, the Healers, the Record Keepers, the Magicians and the Watchers.3
European esotericism was reformulated in the seventieth century as Rosicrucianism. Now we’re getting somewhere! Rosicrucianism, and their pursuit of esoteric wisdom, is the secret society I’ll be exploring over the next few blogs.
What is Rosicrucianism?
That big pyramid off the beaten path in Quakertown belongs to Fraternitas Rosæ Crucis, just one of many Rosicrucian Orders around the world.
Like most Orders, they claim to be an authentic Rosicrucian Fraternity, theirs having been first established in Germany in 1614. I reached out to them a few years ago to see if I could attend a service. I was invited to do so and given dates and times, even invited to attend a special guest speaker service. They were very welcoming, warm and kind. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the time. But it’s still on my bucket list.
As mentioned, a lot of esoteric Orders hide in plain sight. There’s no hiding the beautiful structures on the campus in Quakertown, and they absolutely do not hide most of the details of their organization. In fact, they go out of their way to educate the curious through a very detailed website. But, like any secret society, they certainly won’t give away their private rituals and what it takes to be initiated. They also have strict rules about snooping on the grounds. The photos I took were from the road. Can’t get in trouble for that. But you really don’t need to snoop.
For an in-depth lesson, and to view pictures of the grounds, go to: Soul.org
Getting back to Rosicrucianism as a whole. As I mentioned, there are many Orders. I’ve studied a few in depth for my book series, even joined a very popular one, known as The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC), in an effort to understand more. But, Fraternitas Rosæ Crucis is probably one of the most comprehensive Orders I've found, having merged with other occult fraternities. Their founder, Reuben Swinburne Clymer, effectively brought several branches and lineages together. A smart move if you’re trying to reach full “illumination.”
Aside from their mystery, science and philosophy teachings, you may be wondering if they have religious ties. According to Samuel Robinson—the most knowledgeable person I know on all things Rosicrucian—to be considered authentic, you must be Christian. There is much debate about that, and he takes a lot of heat for it. But to be authentic, you must follow the roots. And the roots lead to at least one Christian theologian. Here is one of Sam's blogs where he goes into great detail on the topic.
Let some of this information swirl around for now. It's a lot to take in. Next week, I’m going to dive deeper into Rosicrucianism, symbolism, and hopefully will have completed a brief interview with Sam. Please check out his amazing portal on Rosicrucian Traditions. His passion on the topic is so inspiring.
Written by Heather Slawecki
Click on the homepage and follow her on FaceBook
1 Wikipedia on Western Esotericism, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_esotericism
2 New World Encyclopedia on Esotericism, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Esotericism
3 The Modern Mystery School, https://www.modernmysteryschoolint.com