This was a working meeting. On Friday, there were breakout sessions for both Chief Adepts and Celebrants. I attended the latter, and it demonstrated the challenges faced by many SRICF colleges here, because of the current, somewhat schizophrenic nature of the group in the U.S. Despite its stated mission as an invitational Masonic organization rooted specifically in Rosicrucian philosophies and practices, the truth is that for decades it was, in reality, mostly a supper club for Past Grands, Past Imperials, and Past AASR body officers, whose members knew little more about actual Rosicrucianism than I know about astrophysics. That situation has been ever so slowly changing, in part due to the restriction on the number of colleges in the country (generally just one per state), its invitational nature, and the constitutional limit of no more than 72 members per college. Now, more Masons who are truly interested in esotericism of this nature are being brought into the older colleges as existing members drop out or pass away, and new colleges are being chartered in states where none exist. Those new ones are starting from scratch, and they are especially concentrating on truly exploring the Rosicrucian concepts that were intended from the beginning.
In addition to a blessedly brief business session, grades were exemplified Friday with outstanding work done by Colleges from Ohio, Wisconsin and Alabama in the afternoon, as well as elevations performed later in the evening with assistance from our English and Scottish fratres.
On Saturday, RW Frater W. Stephen Burkle, PhD, gave an extensive Alchemy presentation that probably should have really been expanded into two separate sessions, simply due to the sheer amount of information he attempted to squeeze into what grew into three hours. The High Council has published a very comprehensive book on the subject written by Stephen, based on his presentation. The Art and Science of Alchemy should be available soon from their website for $50. If you are truly interested in a serious understanding of the subject, it is well worth the investment. He is a practicing alchemist, who trained for several years in France, and is no mere weekend hobbyist.
In the afternoon, Frater Piers Vaughn gave a beautifully illustrated and fascinating presentation on the Kabbalah's Tree of Life, concentrating on the Christian variant that appears throughout Rosicrucian philosophy. He followed it with an abbreviated, meditative Practicum to demonstrate how such an exercise might be effectively employed in College meetings.
Frater Michael Buckley was the keynote speaker at Saturday evening's banquet. His topic was on the life, philosophy, practices, and many travels of the 16th century physician, philosopher, and occultist Philippus von Hohenheim, better known to history as Paracelsus, whose life and activities may arguably have been the initial inspiration for the legend of Christian Rosenkreutz. A contemporary of Copernicus, Martin Luther, and da Vinci, Paracelsus invented, developed, or just promulgated techniques that would help to revolutionize medicine, chemistry, and even psychotherapy. Though he was regarded as heretical by many at the time, his writings formed the basis of many scientific and medical practices we take for granted today.
Supreme Magus William H. Koon has done an incredible job of helping to guide the restoration of this Order to the rightful path that was intended from its 1880 beginnings, and his dedication combined with an unstoppable sense of purpose for the benefit the Order cannot be underestimated. Added to that are the many fratres who have worked tirelessly within the High Council and all across the country who are passionately devoted to Masonic Rosicrucianism. Suggestions from last year were implemented this year, and Bill again asked for input this time to improve next year. Remarkably, they were very few in number and astonishingly miniscule. I heard no negativity from anyone all weekend. That is astonishing all by itself, and I believe the future will only bring greater things.
Just as a surprise when I got home was a link on my alerts reminders to a New Yorker magazine story from last month that gives a thumbnail sketch of the origin of Rosicrucianism, with a review of a book that has a different take on the foundational documents of the Fama, Confessio, and especially the Chymical Wedding.
See Reimagining a Shadowy Medieval Brotherhood That Probably Didn't Exist by Peter Babergal.