The Ancient Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis (AMORC), also called Rosicrucian Order, is a philosophical and humanist worldwide fraternal organization. Members are known as students. The organization states it is devoted to "the study of the elusive mysteries of life and the universe". The organization is non-sectarian and it is open to both men and women of legal adult age (18 years old in most countries) regardless of their various religious persuasions.
The AMORC association was founded between 1909 and 1914 in New York in order to support and organize the activities of a legendary Rose-Croix Order, tracing its origin to Ancient Egyptian mystery schools, which they claim studied a wide variety of mystical subjects. The oral account holds that these schools were founded during the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tuthmosis III and included among their most esteemed pupils Pharaoh Akhenaten.
As the phrases "Rose-Croix" and "Rosicrucian" are in the public domain, there are a number of organizations that describe themselves as such. According to AMORC members and related publications, these organizations may or may not be related to a real Rosicrucian Order and most of them are not. AMORC claims to be the only organization keeping the teachings of their ancient Rose-Croix Order unaltered and the primordial tradition intact.
Traditionally, the AMORC version of Rosicrucianism traces its origin to the mystery schools or secret schools of learning established in Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, about 1500 B.C. These schools were formed to probe into "the mysteries of life" — in other words, natural phenomena. Over centuries of time, these Mystery Schools gradually evolved into real centers of learning and from Egypt, they spread into Greece, and thence into Rome. During the Middle Ages they were concealed under various names due to the prevailing circumstances of the times.
AMORC also claims that Rosicrucianism is mentioned as far back as 1115 CE in a book of the collection of Brother Omnis Moriar in Germany. However, other Rosicrucians not associated with the AMORC claim that no such brother nor book ever existed and that the alleged name “Omnis Moriar” is a Latin phrase meaning “I shall completely die”. It is also felt by some Rosicrucians that the alleged name derived from the opening words of Horace in Ode 3.30 in which he writes: “Non Omnis Moriar” (“I shall not completely die”).
Chronologically, Rosicrucianism rose to considerable prominence in Europe during the Seventeenth Century following the publication and wide circulation of a small pamphlet, the Fama Fraternitatis.
AMORC also believes that the Rosicrucians first came to America in the chartered vessel Sarah Maria during the early months of 1694 under the leadership of Grand Master Johannes Kelpius and they established a colony in what is now Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. They finally settled on the banks of the Wissahickon. "In that retired valley beside the flowing brook the secret rites and mysteries of the true Rosicrucian Philosophy flourished unmolested for years, until the state of affairs brought about by the American Revolution, together with pernicious Sunday legislation which also discriminated against the keepers of the scriptural Sabbath day, gradually caused the incoming generation to assimilate with the secular congregations. However, this belief is disputed by another Rosicrucian organization that also claims to be the genuine Rosicrucians in America: the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross at one time headed by Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer. The fact is that Johannes Kelpius of the Jacob Boehme Lodge in Germany led the German Pietists to America and these Rosicrucian immigrants and their descendants established a commune in 1732 at Ephrata, Pennsylvania known as the Ephrata Society under the leadership of Johann Conrad Beissel and Peter Miller (who at the behest of Congress translated the Declaration of Independence into seven languages); the buildings still exist today as part of a historical park known as Ephrata Cloisters. It is also a fact that the two rival organizations historically disputed their claims to Rosicrucian genuineness.
In 1776, the Rosicrucians under the guise of Illuminati headed by Weishaupt (not recognized in the XXth century as genuinely 'Rosicrucian' by AMORC Imperator H. Spencer Lewis) began a cycle of activity which coincided with the American Revolution and culminated with the reign of terror of the French Revolution and the ascent to power of Napoleon Bonaparte, recognized by H. Spencer Lewis as a Rosicrucian.
It is around this time that an enigmatic figure makes his appearance in the European theater going by the name of the Count of St. Germain and he is gone. Considered an impostor by many and an Ascended Master by a few, he is thought to have been Francis Bacon himself immortal. It is also this time that the Rosicrucian Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton uses as historical background for his novel Zanoni - an immortal Rosicrucian who is guillotined during the French Revolution. It would not be until the XXth century, in 1950, that Samael Aun Weor would reveal the apparent contradiction of the reason for the Fall of Lucifer in his magnum opus The Perfect Matrimony. He would also reveal publicly for the first time the secret of the Great Arcanum, a plan which had been drawn by a group of initiates during the French Revolution to reveal the secret to the people at large, a secret which had presumably belonged to the aristocracy; initiates who included among others Robespierre, Danton and Marat (especially Marat!) which led eventually to the celebrated prophetic supper of Cazotte.
For about one hundred years after 1800 A.D., the Order experienced a great deal of difficulty in its activities. In 1848, Louis Blanc in his History of the French Revolution reported that in 1781, Cagliostro was initiated into the Illuminati at Frankfurt. Many veiled stories by Emile Zola regarding the Brotherhood appeared in France. After 1900 A.D., many prominent persons among whom were I. K. Funk, president of the Funk and Wagnalls Publishing Co., "Fra" Elbert Hubbard of the Roycrofters who became an uncle to L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology and the mystic writer Ella Wheeler Wilcox were all active in establishing the new cycle of activity of the Rosicrucian Order in America. H. Spencer Lewis became a "secret partner" of Big Business in America. It is partly this mystic influence in big business that Ayn Rand unwittingly attacks in her novel Atlas Shrugged.
In 1909 Harvey Spencer Lewis visited France in search of Rosicrucians. He did contact one lineage of Rosicrucians, proved his integrity and knowledge in matters of philosophy and esotericism, and was duly initiated in Toulouse, France, and given the mandate to establish the Order in North America. After further qualification and preparation, the first official Manifesto was issued in the United States in 1915, announcing the establishment of Rosicrucian activity in America. Beside his many European connections, Dr. H.S. Lewis also had a notable association with Mrs. May Banks-Stacy, said to be one of the last successors to the original colony of Rosicrucians that settled in America during the late 17th century. By the end of the 1920s he was known for being acquainted with most of the then notables of the esoteric world, but oddly, he had no connections with nor knowledge of such major figures as Gerard Encausse and those associated with his work.
The early AMORC headquarters were located in New York City, San Francisco, and then Tampa. The headquarters moved to San Jose, California, in 1927. Harvey Spencer Lewis died in 1939 and in accordance with his wishes as stipulated in his will, he was succeeded in the Office of Imperator by his son Ralph Maxwell Lewis who had previously served as Supreme Secretary. Gary L. Stewart who previously served as Grand Master of the English Speaking jurisdiction and then Vice President of the Board of Directors was appointed to the Office of Imperator upon Lewis' death in 1987 in compliance with Lewis' wishes. Christian Bernard who had been the Grand Master of France and then succeeded Stewart to the position of Vice President of the Board was elected to the Office of Imperator in 1990 by the Board of Directors.
World War II had a devastating impact on the membership of many esoteric groups, which were outlawed under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. Leadership figures in particular were frequently arrested, persecuted, or assassinated by the Gestapo. Others died in concentration camps. AMORC, protected by virtue of being in the United States, underwent a dramatic period of growth during this time. After the war ended, AMORC was able to lend support to its battered sister organizations. Eventually many of these came to be absorbed under the administration of AMORC's leadership in San Jose.
The organizational headquarters for different jurisdictions of the AMORC are designated as "Grand Lodges." The English-speaking Grand Lodge for the Americas is headquartered in Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California. All Grand Lodges are governed by The Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC. The Supreme Grand Lodge meets annually in Lachute, Quebec, Canada and is responsible for the worldwide coordination of AMORC, the establishment of new administrations, and the appointment of jurisdictions to Grand Lodges, usually based on language. This body consists of the Imperator, Grand Masters, and related executive officers.
Lodges, Chapters, Pronaoi, Atrium Groups
On a local level, members of AMORC often form smaller affiliated groups organized as Lodges, Chapters, Pronaoi, or Atrium Groups. These various titles differ according to the members of each body in regular attendance. Participation in these groups is optional, and participants retain compulsory membership with their respective Grand Lodge. Many of these groups charge additional dues to participants in order to cover expenses such as rent and mailings. Most affiliated bodies of the AMORC periodically offer Open Meetings or Lectures to which the general public is invited and welcome.
In 1990 there was a dispute over the leadership of the AMORC, which was then under the leadership of Imperator Gary L. Stewart. This move was prompted by allegations made by a few members of the Board of Directors of embezzlement on the part of Stewart. In April, 1990, a lawsuit was filed by the Board and, as a result of the allegations, Stewart was kept from returning to AMORC's properties by virtue of a Temporary Restraining Order until trial. The newly expanded Board of Directors voted that the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Christian Bernard, should assume Stewart's offices. An installation ritual was held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California. During the next three years there was little activity in the lawsuit and the case never went to trial. However, prompted by the Insurance Company of North America's Motion for Intervention on June 3, 1993 alleging insurance fraud against the new AMORC Board of Directors, AMORC sought to settle out of court and on August 10, 1993 dismissed their case against Stewart with prejudice. The dismissal was the final severing of the relationship between Stewart and AMORC.
In the United Kingdom the public magazine is named Rosicrucian Beacon and is published quarterly by the "English speaking jurisdiction for Europe, Africa and the Middle East of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC." Other AMORC jurisdictions have similar publications.
Many of the activities of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC are open to the public, as well as members. These include:
Rosicrucian World Conventions
In August 2001 the world convention took place in Gothenburg, Sweden. The main theme of the convention was world peace and harmony. The convention was of significant importance to Rosicrucian history because Imperator Bernard presented the "Positio Fraternitatis Rosæ Crucis" to inform the public about AMORC's position on the current world situation.
In July 2004 The Rosicrucian World Peace Conference was held in San Jose, California, USA. Over 2000 Rosicrucians from 70 countries gathered with Imperator Christian Bernard, and North American Grand Master Julie Scott. The Imperator dedicated The Rosicrucian Park's newest institution, the Rosicrucian Peace Garden, designed according to examples from Egypt's 18th Dynasty by the Grand Master of the English Grand Lodge for Australia, New Zealand and Asia, Peter Bindon.
International Research Council
The International Research Council is a group of AMORC members who have expertise in several areas, including physics, biology, philosophy and music. According to the AMORC, the members of the International Research Council dedicate themselves to the advancement of their profession for the benefit of humanity.
Council of Solace
The Council of Solace is a group of Rosicrucians who meditate and pray daily on behalf of others. They offer free 24-hour metaphysical aid to people in need regardless of membership. The Council of Solace meditation ritual held in a number of locations is now open to both members and the public.
The radio towers have since been removed, and for some time, AMORC continued to broadcast through the historic San Jose KEEN radio station. Today, the Rosicrucian Podcasts continue this legacy.
Conspiracy theorists have attempted to link AMORC, through persons once participant with the group as a possible co-conspirator and beneficiary of funds which vanished as part of the Order of the Solar Temple mass suicide in 1995. Conspiracists also believe this link ties in with NATO-organized secret anti-Soviet armies in Europe (known as Operation Gladio). Former member of the World Council and former Grand Master of France, Raymond Bernard has refuted these allegations in an interview. When asked "What is the influence of the Secret Service in the traditional movements?", Bernard responded:
Gary L. Stewart of the Confraternity of the Rose Cross believes that the nature of the modern AMORC is now different from Harvey Spencer Lewis's legacy. The same view is held by other organizations which started as splinter groups from AMORC after its 1990s corporate reorganization.
AMORC, like many other similar organizations, has been criticized by some Christian groups. The PanHellenic Parents Union has included the AMORC in a list of 422 organizations which considered as incompatible with the Eastern Orthodox tradition by the "7th Panorthodox Conference" of 1995 and its president Metropolite Hieronymus of Theba and Levadia.
AMORC promotes the idea that one can develop "untapped potentials of the human mind-seeing auras, premonitions, telepathy and the 'mastery of life'" (from Chapter Three of Psi Development Systems). Some people, while concurring these abilities are attractive in their own right, find it a little hard to believe.