By Tracy R. Twyman
Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 1998
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)
Holy Blood, Holy Grail theorizes that the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, a front for the Priory of Sion, may have also been a front for the then-developing Rosicrucian brotherhood, which was at that time being led by current Priory of Sion Grand Master, Johann Valentin Andrea. The flames of Rosicrucianism were then being fanned by Andrea’s Rosicrucian Manifestos, and The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, both published anonymously, although Andrea later confessed to writing them as a joke. Chemical Wedding, however, reads less like a joke and more like a complex web of Hermetic, alchemical and astrological symbolism, coupled with veiled allusions to political and religious conflicts then occurring. Written from the perspective of the Rosicrucian brotherhood’s legendary founder, it incorporates neo-Platonic allegory, elements of the myths of Osiris, Venus, Deucalion, Atlas, and many others, as well as allusions to a mysterious ‘Princess’ whose office must be restored. And like the Knights Templar, Rosenkreutz goes around sporting a white tunic and mantle with a red cross.
As a whole, the Rosicrucian Manifestos, which allegedly issued from an ‘invisible’ secret society in France and Germany, predicted a new Golden Age of Heaven on Earth, an Arcadian paradise worthy of Rene d’Anjou’s imaginings - a world order reflecting harmonious cosmic laws in which the spirit of man would be freed to pursue its God-given destiny. They also, sometimes allegorically, sometimes not, railed against the Roman Catholic Church and its worldly kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire. For this reason, Rosicrucianism was hated and suppressed by the Catholic hierarchy, while the Protestant movement embraced it.
Rosicrucianism was embraced by another figure associated with Protestantism, whom Johann Valentin Andrea was related to by blood - Frederick of the Palatinate, a man whose genealogy tied in with those of the Grail families, and whose ideals would seem to have been identical to theirs. After marrying Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I of England, he established a court in the capitol of Heidelberg, which was formed, shall we say, along ‘Hermetic lines.’ Frances Yates, as quoted by Holy Blood, Holy Grail, explains what developed from this:
A culture was forming in the Palatinate which came straight out of the Renaissance but with more recent trends added, a culture which may be defined as ‘Rosicrucian.’ The prince around whom these deep currents were swirling was Friedrich, Elector Palatine, and their exponents were hoping for a politico-religious expression of their aims… The Frederickian movement… was an attempt to give those currents politico-religious expression, to realise the ideal of Hermetic reform centered on a real prince… It… created a culture, a ‘Rosicrucian’ state with its court centered on Heidelberg.
It was Frederick’s actions on behalf of the Rosicrucian movement, becoming the monarch of the rebelling nation of Bohemia, against the wishes of the Holy Roman Empire, that led to the Thirty Years’ War between the Catholics and the Protestants, a war which would devastate Europe. It was in the midst of all of this that Johann Valentin Andrea organized a network of ‘Christian Unions,’ made up of groups of thirteen individuals per union. Each member was expected to be an expert in one or another field of knowledge. The aim of the Unions was to preserve science, philosophy, Hermeticism, and other knowledge threatened by a Catholic church then busy persecuting heretics. They also provided safe houses for the heretics themselves, and acted as smuggling rings, helping those Protestants, freethinkers and esotericists then fleeing the Inquisition escape to England. There they found a refuge, for British Freemasonry was just then in its formation, and many of the exiled heretics fell in with the ‘Invisible College’ of occultists, including Robert Moray, Elias Ashmole and Robert Boyle. There is even evidence that Freemasonry itself was partially derived in structure from the Christian Unions, and in substance from the Rosicrucian mysteries. To this day there is a degree in Scottish Rite Freemasonry called ‘Knight Rose Croix.’