Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosae Crucis (AMORC)

The Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosae Crucis is an esoteric fraternal movement founded in 1915 in New York by young occultist H. Spencer Lewis (1883–1939). Lewis, who had been affiliated with a number of British occult orders, such as the Ordo Templi Orientis, and had met Aleister Crowley, attempted to establish the Rosicrucian Order in 1909, when he met French members of the International Rosicrucian Council in Toulouse. After being initiated into the Rosicrucian Council, he went back to the United States, where he began to hold meetings with people interested in occult teachings. After a few years of massive publicity efforts, the Order was firmly established. Soon a number of conflicts emerged between the AMORC and other Rosicrucian bodies. In 1928, the older Fraternitas Rosae Crucis criticized the AMORC’s right to the designation “Rosicrucian.” At the same time, Lewis accused alternative healer R. Swinburne Clymer of fraudulent behavior. An intense polemic between the groups has continued to the present day. 
Rosicrucians focus their teachings on God’s purpose for life and believe that God created the universe according to immutable laws. Mastership, which is the ability to transform into material expression one’s mental images, can lead one to success. Various techniques are taught to students to help them achieve such mastery. Students visualize health, wealth, and happiness, and then draw these characteristics to themselves. After completing a first series of lessons, students may strive for more advanced mastery over their own lives. Particular lodges, chapters, or pronaoi (groups) are designated for Rosicrucian group activities.
The AMORC presents itself as a continuation of the ancient mystery schools of Amenhotep and Solomon. Isaac Newton, RenĂ© Descartes, Benjamin Franklin, and Francis Bacon are listed in AMORC literature as famous Rosicrucians. According to AMORC literature the cycles of the fraternity’s work last 180 years. After a period of silence and secrecy, members generally emerge and do their work in public. It is said that a new public cycle began in 1909.
The organization of the AMORC includes the Grand Lodge, which has jurisdiction over America, the British Commonwealth, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Africa. The head of the Order is represented by the Grand Imperator. Ralph M. Lewis (1904–1987) succeeded his father, Spencer, in this post from 1939 to 1987. At his death, Gary L. Stewart became Grand Imperator, but he was removed from office three years later, accused of fraudulent behavior. He was succeeded by Christian Bernard, who is currently Grand Imperator. Members of the Order may be found in 85 countries around the world. The Rosicrucian Digest, published in San Jose, California, is the periodical of the movement.
Further Reading
Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, NY:
Prometheus Books, 1998.
Melton, J. Gordon. Encyclopedia of American Religions, 5th ed. Detroit, MI: Gale
Research Inc., 1996.