A Rosicrucian Notebook: The Secret Sciences Used by Members of the Order

A Rosicrucian Notebook: The Secret Sciences Used by Members of the Order

by Willy Schrodter
Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1992; paperback.

Willy Schrodter's work is a perfect example of a book that is epistemologically corrective. First published in 1954, Schrodter's valuable annotated collation of Rosicrucian arcana has the unmistakable tenor that differentiates occult information obtained by rigorously schooled initiates from supposition and speculation obtained by untrained psychics. It exudes solidity, reliability, and metaphysical maturity- legitimate guidance without inflation. In our time this is a crucial issue affecting our knowledge base and the parameters by which we know and assume that our knowing is accurate - that's epistemology. The 1990's new age/occult intellectual marketplace is inundated with free-lance meta physicians without formal initiatory resume; bookstalls are glutted with the hastily prepared report s from born-again reincarnate solar initiates , Mayan hierophants, Zeta Reticulan apologists, master cylinder planetary saviors, and Pleiadian spokeswomen, all proclaiming definitive cosmogonies and infallible prophecies with the presumed oracular veracity of Delphi.

The prevalence of inflationary heralds is unavoidably paradoxical as we move into the new style of Aquarian spirituality that emphasizes the individuation and metaphysical competence of the individual a rising phoenix-like from the ashes of a now irrelevant priest hood of any persuasion. The trouble is this Aquarian philosophical ca rte blanche easily generates an amateurs' bazaar, where the savant manque assert uncorroborable and often fantastic claims. Traditionally, hard-won, genuine occult knowledge was carefully guarded by the old initiatory lodges (such as the original Rosicrucians in their heyday) and transmitted to new students only in the context of a precise schedule of initiations and inner cleansing (a purgation of the astral body called the "Virgin Sophia" in esoteric Christianity) to insure a requisite soul maturity in the face of valuable, even dangerous, information. Now as psychics and astral cowboys sprout like dandelion s in the lawn of the collective psyche, these conventional regulatory protocols are inactive and the consumer of metaphysical texts assimilates material at her peril.

That's why Schrodter's book is so wonderfully restorative. He makes no hierarchical claims for himself yet he evinces a sobering, deep, and ultimately infectious interest in the broader (but occulted) realms of human cognition and action as preserved by such underground initiatic knowledge streams as the old Rosicrucians – and he lets us touch and sense this rara avis, initiates' truth. Occult information is practical knowledge, too, often presaging technical developments in establishment science and technology by many decades, if not centuries. Schrodter, a former councilor in the German government who died in 1971, provides information on a constellation of esoteric yet inescapably fascinating subjects-alchemy, prana, the Philosopher's Stone, elemental spirits, immortality, telepathy, spiritual and magnetic healing, life elixirs, egregors, perpetual lamps, astral projection - drawing on texts and research spanning five centuries of Rosicrucian occultism from the classic 15th century Chymica/ Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz to Schrodter's own private wartime correspondence.

Along the way, in his avuncular, inquiring style, Schrodter sheds light on a great many riddles of esotericism from the Western Mystery tradition. Part of hermeticism is linguistic, deciphering the peculiar word codes commonly employed for circulating open secrets. Medieval initiate s were often called "Venetians"(even by Shakespeare) because for many centuries Venice was a key European center for Turkish Freemasonry and transplanted Arabic occultism. The human physical body is called the " Philosophical Egg" while the astral body is the "glorified rose" (for the Taoists, the "Golden Flower") and the "body of crystallized salt." The Philosopher's Stone or the perfect Stone of the Wise, writes Schrodter, is pure, concentrated, and congealed solar ether or astral sun gold; an initiate who has transformed his astral vehicle possesses the "Golden Fleece"; and in its liquified form, sun gold is the elusive "Elixer of Life," a kind of superpotent pranic drink ("liquidized etheric Life Force") that extends longevity. It was once the mark of a Rosicrucian initiate that one was able to produce both the Stone and Elixir in one's alchemical laboratory, in addition to transmuting lead into gold. This qualified one as a Knight of the Golden Stone, proof that one had completed the Great Work, the Rosicrucian magnum opus and true Chemical Wedding. By this expression the Rosicrucians were "pointing out that the union (or wedding) of the 'King's Son ' or spirit and the 'Bride ' or soul is not merely a spiritual affair but also a physical one, operating right inside the bodily mechanism," explains Schrodter.

Whether it's famous occultists like Paracelsus, Cornelius Henry Agrippa, and Robert Fludd, or Schrodter's more retiring contemporaries like Erich Bischoff, Franz Hartmann , or Rudolf von Sebottendorf, the sense of continuity over many generations - continuity of inquiry, methodology, initiation , and competence - runs like pure gold through the Notebook . Undoubtedly some aspect s of the Great Work may no longer engage us on the eve of the Millennium as the outer doors of the initiates' temple arcanum are opened, but surely the spirit of investigative, procedural precision and epistemological certitude amply demonstrated in Schrodter's corrective text cannot fail to inspire us to greater discrimination in our own researches today.


Summer 1993