A COMMENTARY ON
THE CHYMICAL WEDDING OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ: ANNO 1459
"The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz: Anno 1459" was written down
in 1604, and first published in Strasbourg in 1616, having been widely
circulated in manuscript during the intervening years.
It was written down by Valentin Andreae, then a seventeen-year-old student in
Tubingen University, later to become a Lutheran pastor. Of him Rudolf Steiner
says: "His hand wrote it, his body was present; but through him a spiritual
power not then on earth wished to communicate this to men, in a way which at
that time was possible." 1 (Lecture, December 9, 1923).
"The year 1459 in the title indicates the year in which, in a decisive and
actual way - the new Rosicrucian Movement was founded in the West."2 (Karl
Heyer: Lecture Course on the Historical Impulse of Rosicrucianism) (SEE NOTE
Rudolf Steiner speaks of Rosicrucianism as "a Mystery School having as its aim
the cultivation of an understanding of the Christ Mystery in a way suited to
the new era".3(Lecture: European Mysteries and their Initiates) It is a
continuation of The Order of the Grail and the Order of the Templars; its
contents are couched in different terms in succeeding centuries to meet
changes in human consciousness and changing human needs.2
When "The Chymical Wedding" was first written down, it was still possible to
convey spiritual revelations as they are here conveyed, in pictorial
Imaginations. Later, such Imaginations dried out into abstract, purely
conceptual thinking. Today the time is ripe to enliven the intellectual
consciousness into a renewed pictorial one. It is therefore in accordance
with the spiritual demands at this point of time that "The Chymical Wedding"
again begins to attract notice and that its beautiful sequences of imaginative
piectures again begin to speak to our hearts and understanding.
Christian Rosenkreutz, the Founder of the Rosicrucian Movement, is in our time
the Keeper of the Gate, the spiritual leader of this modern age. "The
Chymical Wedding" tells of a spiritual adventure, a kind of initiation
journey, undertaken by him as the pioneer of a new way into the higher worlds
suited to our present epoch. It is therefore a book of great significance for
our time, one that it is important should be studied both for the deep
impression made by its Mystery pictures and for an understanding of its
spiritual revelations. We need it as a traveller needs guide-book and map
when he journeys into an unknown land; for the journey of which it tells is a
journey we must all take sooner or later.
Who was, who is, Christian Rosenkreutz? (See Note 2) Rudolf Steiner has told
us that in the middle of the thirteenth century a child was born who had a
very special destiny. He came into the care of the twelve wisest men of that
age, who by world destiny were gathered in a certain spot in Europe. The
child was very carefully trained by them, and taught their twelve-fold wisdom.
As a young man, he became very ill; he took no nourishment; his body became
almost transparent; and finally he lay in a trance for some days. When he
returned to consciousness it seemed as if the twelve streams of wisdom had
been woven by him into an all-embracing wisdom. Soon after this he died,
having in this incarnation been kept withdrawn from outer earthly activity.
He was reborn in 1378 (1 The Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz) In 1406, when
he was twenty-eight years of age, he began a seven-year journey to many
Centres of Mystery Wisdom, returning in 1413, when he was thirty-five years of
age (see Note 3). He had gathered from these centres the essence of their
teaching and now grasped intellectually the radiant wisdom that had suffused
his feeling-life in the previous century. He was just over eighty years of
age when the experience came to him which is recounted in "The Chymical
Wedding"; at the age of 106 he died.(2 Fama Fraternitas Roseae Crucis - first
This individuality is said to have reappeared at the French Court at the time
of the French Revolution as the Comte de St. Germain. He warned the royal
family and the nobility of their approaching fate, but in vain. He gave to
the world the watchwords "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"; and though these
were misunderstood by the French Revolutionists in the first flush of wild
excitement, rightly interpreted they can become watch-words of our present
epoch and the key to the development of the future. (3 The Problems of Our Time)
It is said that Christian Rosenkreutz is in almost continuous incarnation,
powerfully directing events from a hidden Centre, and always in the service of
the Christ Power. Those who wish to know of this important subject should
read The Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz, its Character and Purpose, by
Plato said of the myth of Isis and Osiris that it could be understood on
twenty different levels, and was true on all of them. This could equally be
said of "The Chymical Wedding." Our Commentary looks at its pictures on the
very simplest level; but for those who would go deeper a few slight
indications of other levels are given in the Notes.
This booklet is the substance of a course of lectures given at Hawkwood
College, July 2-9, 1964. It is printed in response to requests from members
of the Course to have the material in a permanent form for further study. We
send it out in the hope that it may be of some pleasure and profit not only to
them but also to a wider circle of people interested in such matters, without
as well as within the Anthroposophical Movement.
A distinguished Dutch lecturer who was present at the Course wrote later: "I
have started to read "The Chymical Wedding" and now I begin to love it. I can
read it ten times, like a child with its picture-book." This is in accord
with Rudolf Steiner's indication that all imaginative knowledge based on truth
is healing and health-giving, and that the best educator is this same
imaginative knowledge (1 Theosophy of the Rosicrucians), an indication which
points to the importance of study of such pictorial records of spiritual life
as this story.
The outline of the story, which has been included for readers not already
familiar with the book itself, has of necessity had to be reduced to barest
essentials; but as far as possible we have retained the phraseology of the
first translation into English (made by Foxcroft in 1690), as this carries
with it something of the flavour of the language of the period in which it was
first written down. We understand that two unabridged translations into
modern English, one made in England, the other in America, will shortly be
available at the Rudolf Steiner Book Shop, 35 Park Road, London, N.W. 1, and
from New Knowledge Books, 18 Elizabeth Crescent, East Grinstead, Sussex.
For this first tentative effort in understanding the story we have drawn
largely on Rudolf Steiner's three articles published in Das Reich (October
1917 to April 1918) entitled "The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz".
All quotations from these, (given in translation) are marked with an asterisks.
All other books and lectures quoted are by Rudolf Steiner unless otherwise
OUTLINE OF THE STORY
THE FIRST DAY
On Easter eve I was sitting at my table in my cottage on a hilltop, preparing
my heart for the next day's festival, when all of a sudden there arose so
horrible a tempest that the hill whereon my little house was founded was like
to fly all in pieces.
I feared this to be another trick of the devil, who had done me many a spite;
and now I felt my coat being twitched behind me. Hugely terrified, I turned
to look; and there I beheld a fair and glorious lady, in garments of sky-blue,
bespangled with golden stars, and with large and beautiful wings, full of
eyes, wherewith she could mount aloft and fly swifter than any eagle. In her
right hand was a golden trumpet, and in her left a great bundle of letters in
all languages, which she (as I afterwards understood) was to carry into all
From among them she chose a small one and laid it reverently on the table.
Then, without speaking, she spread her wings and mounted upward, blowing so
mighty a blast on her gallant trumpet that for a full quarter of an hour
afterward the whole hill echoed thereof.
I took up the letter in fear and trembling, and found it so heavy as almost to
outweigh gold. It was sealed with a little seal which bore a curious cross,
together with the inscription, "In this Sign conquer," at which I felt greatly
comforted, knowing that this sign was little acceptable, and much less useful,
to the devil.
Inside I found this verse written, in golden letters on an azure ground:
"This day, this day, this, this,
The Royal Wedding is.
If you by birth and by God's choice
Are bidden to this feast, rejoice!
Forthwith now to the mountain wend
Whereon three stately Temples stand,
And there see all from end to end.
Yourself examine first with care;
Let him who weighs too light beware;
No guest this Wedding can endure
Who keeps not watch and is not pure."
As I read these warnings, all my hair stood on end. Seven years previously, I
had learned in a vision that one day I would be invited to a Royal Wedding;
and when I now calculated the positions of the planets, I found that this was
indeed the appointed time. But when I examined myself, as bidden by the
letter, and contemplated my blindness in mysterious things, my ticklings of
the flesh, my rearing of stately palaces in the air and other like carnal
designs, I was so overwhelmed by my own unworthiness that I swung between hope
and fear. The obscure words concerning the three Temples also afflicted me.
At last I begged of my good angel that I might be rightly directed in my
In my sleep I found myself in a dark dungeon, fettered, with a multitude of
companions all struggling with their chains and swarming like bees over each
other. When presently we heard trumpets and kettle drums, and the dungeon was
uncovered, and a small light lowered into it, I contrived to slip from under
the rest and heave myself on to a boulder against the dungeon wall.
Then an old man with ice-grey locks appeared at the edge of the opening,
calling for silence. He announced that, by the grace of his ancient Mother, a
rope would be let down seven times among us, and that whoever was able to
cling to it would be drawn up and set at liberty.
When the Ancient Matron's servants let down the rope, I could get nowhere near
it, while the heaving of the rest was pitiful to see. After seven minutes a
little bell rang, and the rope was drawn up with four men clinging to it.
Again and yet again the rope descended, and each time a few more were drawn
up, those already released helping the servants to pull.
At its sixth lowering, the rope swung aside, so that I was able to catch it,
and so beyond all hope came out, bleeding from a head-wound received from a
sharp stone on the way.
Now the dungeon was covered again, and those of us who had been drawn up were
freed from our fetters, and our names recorded on a golden tablet. As we
thanked the Ancient Matron for our deliverance and took our leave of her, each
of us was given a piece of gold to spend by the way, stamped on one side with
the rising sun, and on the other with the letters D.L.S.
As for me, I could scarcely well go forward for the wounds left on my feet by
the fetters. The Ancient Matron, seeing this, said to me: "My son, let not
this defect afflict you, but thank God, Who hath permitted you, even in this
world, to come into so high a light. Keep these wounds for my sake."
Pondering my dream when I awoke, I well understood from it that God had
vouchsafed me to be present at this mysterious and hidden Wedding. So I rose
and arrayed myself in a white linen coat with a blood-red stole bound cross-
wise over my shoulders; then, with four red roses stuck in my hat, and taking
bread, salt and water for food by the way, I set out joyfully on my journey.
THE SECOND DAY
Now I went singing through a forest filled with Nature's rejoicings, emerging
on a green heath, where stood three tall cedar trees, to one of which was
fastened a tablet, offering a choice of four ways to the Wedding.
The first it described as short but dangerous, leading into rocky places
scarcely possible to pass. The second was long, but easy provided we kept to
it and were guided by our magnet. The third was a royal road, which only one
in a thousand might follow. The fourth was a consuming way, encompassed by
fire and cloud, fit only for incorruptible bodies.
The tablet warned us that once we had entered upon any of these ways there
could be no turning back, and that if we knew ourselves by the smallest fault
to be unworthy, we should not venture further.
At these dire warnings, I sank down beneath the tree in great perturbation of
spirit. While I sat perplexed, pondering whether to turn back, and, if not,
which way to follow, I took out a slice of my bread from my bag and began to
At once a snow-white dove fluttered down from the branches above, betaking
herself to me very familiarly, and I willingly shared my slice of bread with
her. But now a black raven darted down at the dove, who took refuge in
flight, the raven hastening after her and I after him.
When I had chased the raven away, I bethought me of my bag and bread, left
behind beneath the cedar. But when I turned myself about, to go back to
retrieve them, a contrary wind was so strong against me that it was ready to
fell me; yet if I went forward, I perceived no hindrance. Looking about me, I
saw I was already, without my knowledge, entered upon one of the four ways -
the long, circuitous one.
So all that day I followed this road, taking care to stray neither to the left
nor to the right. The way itself was so rugged that I was often in doubt
about it; but the dove had flown due south, so with the help of my compass I
kept strictly to that direction.
At last, just as the sun was setting, I spied a stately Portal, set high on a
distant hill. So now I made mighty haste, to reach it before nightfall, seeing
elsewhere no other abiding-place.
As I drew near, a venerable man in a sky-blue habit stepped forth, made
himself known as the Guardian of the Portal, and asked for my Letter of
Invitation. With what joy did I present it!
When the Guardian heard my name and that I was a Brother of the Rose Cross, he
both wondered and seemed to rejoice at it, and treated me with abundance of
respect, saying: "Come in, my brother. An acceptable guest you are to me!"
In exchange for my bottle of water, the Guardian gave me a golden token, and
with it a sealed letter for the Guardian of the Second Portal, entreating me
that when these stood me in good stead I would remember him.
Dusk was now falling; and a beautiful Virgin, robed in sky-blue and bearing a
glorious torch, was lighting lanterns along the road to the inner Portal. To
this I hastened, and was dismayed to find it barred by a terrible chained
lion, who, as soon as he espied me, arose and made at me with great roaring.
This awoke the Guardian, who was asleep on a slab of marble; he drove back the
lion, and, having read the sealed letter, greeted me with great respect,
"Now welcome in God's name unto me, the man who of long time I would gladly
In exchange for my salt, this second Guardian gave me a second token.
By now the dusk had deepened, and a bell began to ring within the Castle. The
Guardian warned me to run apace, or I would not reach the innermost gate
before it closed for the night. The lights along the path were already being
extinguished, and I was thankful to have the Virgin's torch to guide me
through the darkness. As I entered the Third Portal at her very heels, the
gate clapped to so suddenly that part of my coat was locked out, and, since
its Guardian could not be prevailed upon to open the gate again, had to be
The Third Guardian now wrote my name in a little book of vellum, and gave me a
third token, together with a new pair of shoes, for the floor of the Castle
was pure shining marble. My old pair I bestowed on a beggar who sat by the
Two pages, each bearing a torch, now conducted me into the Castle, and left me
alone in a little room, where, to my terror, invisible barbers cut away the
hair from the crown of my head, but on my forehead, ears and eyes they
permitted my ice-grey locks to hang. The hair cut off was carefully gathered
up by invisible hands and carried away.
Now a little bell began to ring; and the two pages, returning, lighted me
through many doors and up winding stairs to a spacious hall, where there was a
great multitude of guests -- emperors, kings, princes, lords, noble and
ignoble, rich and poor, all sorts of people, including some I knew well, and
as yet had never any reason to esteem; these, when I enquired of them as to
their route, I found had mostly been forced to clamber over the rocks.
When, presently, trumpets sounded to bid us to the feast, these were they who
scrambled for the highest seats, so that for me and some other sorry fellows
there was hardly a little nook left at the lowermost table. But next to me
was sitting a very fine, quiet man, who discoursed of excellent matters.
Meat was now brought in, and served by invisible hands, everything so orderly
managed that it seemed as if every guest had his own attendant. When one
boasted that he could see these invisible servitors, one of them reached him
so handsome a cuff upon his lying muzzle that not only he, but many who were
by him, became as mute as mice.
As they grew warm with wine, these guests of the lewder sort began to vaunt of
their abilities; one heard the movements of the Heavens, the second could see
Plato's Ideas, the third could number the atoms of Democritus. One would prove
this, another that; and commonly the most sorry idiots made the loudest noise.
In this tumult I had almost cursed the day wherein I had come hither, and I
opined that the Lord Bridegroom would have done well to seek some other fool
than me for his wedding. But this was really one part of the lameness whereof
I had dreamed.
Suddenly we heard strains of such delicate music that the babel was hushed and
no one spoke one word for the space of half an hour. Then came louder music,
all so master-like as if the Emperor of Rome had been entering. The door
opened of itself, and many thousands of lighted tapers entered, marching of
themselves, and followed by a gliding gilded throne, on which sat the Virgin
whose torch had lighted me to the Castle. She was robed no longer in sky-
blue, but in snow-white, sparkling with purest gold.
She welcomed us in the name of the Bride and the Bridegroom, but warned us
that next morning we must all be weighed, to determine which were worthy to
stay and assist at the Wedding. Any who felt assured of his own worthiness
was now to be conducted to his bed-chamber; any who felt doubtful was to spend
the night in this hall.
When she had departed on her gliding throne, the tapers, held by invisible
hands, conducted the confident to their beds. Only I and eight others
remained in the hall, among them my table companion. An hour later, pages
came in, bound all nine of us with ropes, and left us to spend the night in
darkness and discomfort, bewailing our presumption in accepting the Wedding
But during the night I dreamed that I stood on a high mountain, overlooking a
great valley, in which a multitude of men were suspended, some high, some low,
by ropes looped round their necks. An ancient man flew up and down among
them, cutting the ropes with his shears. Those who had hung near the earth
fell gently; those who had hung high had a most shameful fall. This scene
joyed me at the heart, till, in my highest fit of jollity, I waked.
This dream I recounted to my companion, who felt assured that by it some
comfort was intended. So he and I lay side by side in the dark, and passed
the time till daybreak in harmonious discourse.
THE THIRD DAY
At daybreak those who had deemed themselves worthy came again into the hall
where we others still lay bound. Then a fanfare of trumpets ushered in the
Virgin, arrayed now in red velvet, girded with a white scarf, and on her head
a green wreath of laurel, which much became her.
She was attended by two hundred knights in armour, with surcoats of red and
white; some of these she directed to unbind us, and to place us where we could
see well what was to follow. Seeing me among them, she laughed and exclaimed:
"Good lack! Have you also submitted yourself to the yoke? I imagined you
would have made yourself very snug!"
Great golden scales were now brought in and hung in the middle of the hall,
beside them was placed a little table covered with red velvet and bearing
seven weights - a pretty great one, then four little ones, then two great ones
severally; these weights in proportion to their bulk were so heavy that no man
can believe it. The knights were divided into seven groups, the captain of
each being placed in charge of one of the weights.
A stately Emperor was the first to step into the scale. One by one the
captains laid in their weights; the first six he withstood, but when the
seventh was added he was outweighed; he was therefore bound and delivered over
in great anguish to the sixth band of knights. One by one the other Emperors
were in turn weighed and also found wanting, except the last, who held out so
steadfastly that methought had there been more weights he would have outstood
To him the Virgin, rising and bowing, gave a red velvet gown and a laurel
branch, and seated him on the steps of her throne.
The other ranks - kings, lords, gentry, learned and unlearned - were now all
weighed in turn. In each condition, one, at most two, but mostly none, passed
the test; those who did so were, like the Emperor, honoured with a red velvet
gown, a laurel bough, and a seat on the steps of the Virgin's throne.
Now it was our turn, we who had slept in the hall. Only my companion and I
outstayed all the weights. My companion held out bravely, whereupon all
applauded him, and the Virgin showed him deep respect. When, with trembling,
I myself stepped up, my companion, who already sat by in his velvet, looked
friendly upon me, and the Virgin herself smiled a little.
So far did I outstay all the weights that to these the Virgin added three
knights in full armour. Still I outweighed them all, upon which one of the
pages stood up, and cried out, exceeding loud:
"That is he!"
Because I had proved the weightiest, the Virgin graciously permitted me to
release one of the captives, whomsoever I pleased; I elected the first
emperor, who was immediately set free, and with all respect seated among us.
Meanwhile, the Virgin espied my roses, which I had taken out of my hat into my
hands; thereupon by her page she graciously requested them of me, which I
readily sent her.
By ten in the forenoon we had all been weighed. At the meal which followed,
we in our red velvet robes were seated at the high table, which was also
decked with red velvet and set with drinking-cups of pure silver and gold.
Here two pages presented to us, on the Bridegroom's behalf, the insignia of
the Golden Fleece and the Flying Lion.
The attendants who before had been invisible were now visible to us, whereat I
was exceeding joyful. To those others who had failed, and who were now seated
at a lower table, the attendants were still invisible.
When the meal was over, and a golden chalice sent by the Bridegroom had gone
round, we new Knights of the Golden Fleece, seated on the steps of the
Virgin's throne, were carried into the garden, to see those who had failed
receive judgement. Here the Virgin led us by winding stairs into a gallery.
But how the Emperor whom I had released behaved towards me I cannot relate for
fear of slander.
And now that the virgin who had brought me my invitation, and whom I had
hitherto never since seen, stepped forward and, giving one blast upon her
trumpet, declared sentence on those guests who had been weighed and found
wanting. Those who had weighed only a little too light were allowed to redeem
themselves with gold and jewels, and to depart with dignity, receiving at the
door the Draught of Forgetfulness. Some, who were lighter, were to be
stripped and sent forth naked. Some, lighter yet, were to be scourged forth
with rods and whips. Those who were proved imposters, and had never been
invited, were to forfeit their lives to sword or halter.
Watching the execution of these sentences, I felt my eyes run over, till at
last the garden, which had been so full, was emptied, and a silence fell upon
Into this silence delicately stepped a snow-white unicorn, a golden collar
about his neck. He knelt in reverence before a lion who stood on a fountain
with a naked sword held in his paw. The lion broke the sword, and the pieces
sank into the fountain; then he reared till a snow-white dove came flying to
him with an olive branch in her bill. This the lion devoured, and so was
quieted; and the unicorn returned to his place with joy, while our Virgin led
us back down the winding stairs.
When we had washed our heads and hands in the fountain, we each received from
the Virgin a richly habited and learned page, able aptly to discourse on all
subjects, by whom we were conducted back into the Castle, and shown its
paintings, treasures, and antiquities. Many occupied themselves in copying
the paintings; but I, on whom the page of greatest power had been bestowed,
was led with my companion into parts of the Castle usually kept private, the
keys of these having been committed to my page.
Here for several hours we stayed, seeing treasures none of the others were
permitted to see, such as the Royal Sepulchre, with its glorious Phoenix, and
a most noble Library. Though by now it had struck seven, and I began to feel
the pangs of hunger, I was yet well content; I could be happy to fast all my
life with such an entertainment.
When the King sent his page for the keys, we were shown a costly clockwork
regulated according to the course of the planets; and next a huge terrestrial
globe, on which we found our native lands marked with little rings of gold;
others doing likewise, we discovered that our company was drawn from all parts
of the Earth.
This globe being hollow, we were able to sit within it and contemplate the
stars glittering in an agreeable order in the interior of the Earth, and
moving so gallantly that I had scarce any mind ever to go out again, as our
page told our Virgin, and with which she twitted me, for it was already supper
time, and I was almost the last at table.
At supper, as all grew merry with wine, the Virgin began to propound enigmas,
for which, try as we would, we could find no solution. She told us, for
"My sister and I have an eagle, whom we both cherish. One day we entered our
chamber and found him with a laurel branch in his beak. I also had one in my
hand; my sister had none in hers. The eagle went first to her, and gave her
his branch, then came to me, motioning me to give him mine. Now whom did he
love the better, my sister or myself?"
The Virgin was become so familiar that I adventured and requested her name.
Smiling at my curiosity, she replied in another riddle:
"My name contains 6 and 50, yet has only 8 letters. The third is a third part
of the fifth, which, added to the sixth, will produce a number whose sum will
exceed the third itself by just the first, and which is half of the fourth.
The fifth and seventh are equal. So are the last and first. The first and
second together equal the sixth, which contains four more than the third
tripled. Now, my lord, how am I called?"
The answer was intricate enough; yet I left not off, but said: "Noble and
virtuous Lady, may I not obtain only one letter?"
"Yea," said she, "that may well be done."
"What, then," I proceeded, "may the seventh contain?"
"It contains," said she, "as many as there are lords here".
With this I easily found her name, at which she was well pleased.
She now invited us to assist at the ceremony of Hanging Up the Weights. Six
virgins entered, bearing lights and escorting a stately Duchess, less worldly
than our Virgin, and looking up towards Heaven rather than towards Earth. We
all took her for the Bride, but were much mistaken, although in honour, riches
and state she much surpassed the Bride, and afterwards ruled the whole
To me she said: "You have received more than others; see that you also make a
To me this was a very strange sermon.
Though the scales had been removed from the hall, the weights were still
standing on their little table. The Duchess directed each of her virgins to
take up one, and to our Virgin she gave her own, the largest and heaviest.
The company then went in procession up to seven chapels, in the first of which
our Virgin hung up the Duchess's weight, while in each of the others one of
the other virgins hung up hers; in all the chapels, led by the Duchess, we
sang a hymn together and prayed that the Royal Wedding might be blessed.
Then each of us was conducted by his page to a richly furnished bedchamber,
where the page lay on a pallet near him, in case he had need of anything in
the night. This was the first night that I slept in quiet; and yet a scurvy
dream would not suffer me to rest, for I was troubled with a door which I
could not open, though at last I did so; and with these fantasies I passed the
time till I awaked.
THE FOURTH DAY
Next morning I over-slept my breakfast, they being unwilling to waken me
because of my age; but I was soon ready with my habit, and found the rest
assembled beside the fountain in the garden.
Today the lion on the fountain, in place of his broken sword, bore a tablet
announcing that in its water Prince Mercury had a healing medicine for all
ills, and concluding:
"Let him drink of me who is able.
Let him who will, wash.
Let him trouble me who dares.
Drink, Brethren, and live!"
When we had all washed in the fountain, and drunk of its water from a golden
cup, we were given new garments of cloth-of-gold, gloriously set out with
flowers, and a new insignia of the Golden Fleece, from which hung a disc of
gold, with the sun and the moon on one side, and on the other this
"The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the
sun shall be seven times brighter than at present."
Led by our Virgin with sixty virgins in attendance, and by musicians clad in
red velvet, we mounted a winding staircase of 365 steps to the Royal Hall,
where I saw the young King and Queen as they sat in their majesty amid
unspeakable glory; for besides that the room glittered of pure gold and
precious stones, the Queen's robes were so made that I was not able to behold
Our Virgin presented us to the King as wedding guests who had ventured hither
at peril of body and life. It would have been fitting for one of us to have
spoken somewhat on such an occasion; but, seeing we were all troubled with a
falling of the uvula, old Atlas, the Court Astrologer, stepped forward and
welcomed us on the King's behalf.
The young King and Queen sat under a great arch at the western end of the
hall; each wore a wreath of laurel, and over them hung a large and costly
crown. On one side of them sat enthroned an ancient grey-bearded king with a
fair young queen; on the other, a black king, middle-aged, with a veiled and
dainty old matron.
Cupid darted hither and thither; sometimes he seated himself between the two
lovers; sometimes he made as if he would shoot one of us; he was so full of
his waggery that he would not spare even the little birds, which flew about
the chamber in multitudes. The virgins also had their pastimes with him; and
when they could catch him, it was no easy matter for him to get from them
again. Thus this little knave made all the sport and mirth.
Before the King and Queen stood a little altar, bearing six curious objects --
a book bound with black velvet, overlaid with gold; a taper alight in an ivory
candlestick, upon which Cupid now and then puffed in sport; a celestial globe,
turning of itself; a chiming clock; a crystal fountain of red water; and a
skull through whose eye-holes a small white snake wound in and out.
The audience over, the musicians played us down the winding stairs again to
our own hall, where, our mirth falling into our feet, virgins and lords struck
up a civil dance together; after which we attended their Majesties through
many stately walks to the House of the Sun, to see a merry comedy, the Duchess
leading, carrying a small pearl crucifix, her six virgins carrying the sacred
objects from the altar, and Atlas bringing up the rear.
The merry comedy opened with an ancient King sitting upon his throne; a little
chest found floating on the sea was brought to him. In it he found the infant
princess of a neighbouring kingdom, who had been stolen by the Moors. He had
her tenderly and royally brought up, and planned to marry her to his son when
she came of age.
Again she fell into the hands of the Moors and was rescued by an ancient
knight; she was restored to her lost kingdom and crowned queen. A third time,
and now of her own free will, she fell into the hands of the Moor, who usurped
her kingdom, stripped and scourged her, and cast her into prison.
The young king to whom she was betrothed made war upon the Moors on her
behalf, and was victorious; he released the young queen, and restored her to
her kingdom; they were married amid great rejoicings; and the play closed with
a wedding hymn, calling down blessing on our King and Queen, and praying that
a fairer future race might spring from them.
We now returned to the Royal Hall for the wedding feast. Though the tables
were richly furnished, and all the royal persons were attired afresh in snow-
white glittering garments, there was no music, the young King sighed often,
the old King and Queen were grave, and all was performed with such state and
solemn stillness, and all things had so strange a face, that foreboding of
some imminent peril hung over us all.
Presently the young King took the black-bound book from the altar, and asked
those of us who were resolved to keep faith with him to write our names in it.
One after another, we all rose and did so. Then the crystal fountain of red
water was brought, and with it a small crystal drinking-cup, from which the
whole company drank the Draught of Silence, as in any House of the Mysteries.
At the tolling of a bell, the white garments were exchanged for black ones;
floors, ceiling, walls, all were covered with black velvet. Our Virgin
brought in six black taffeta scarves, with which she bound the eyes of the
three Kings and the three Queens. The tables were removed, and six covered
coffins placed in the centre of the hall, around a low black seat. Finally,
in came a coal-black Moor, with a naked axe in his hand.
The old King was led to the low black seat, and there solemnly and reverently
beheaded. His head was wrapped in a black cloth; his blood was caught in a
golden cup; both were placed with his body in the first coffin. One after
another, the other two Kings and the three Queens submitted with silent
dignity to the same fate. Then the black executioner, preparing to withdraw,
was himself beheaded, and his head placed with his axe in a little shrine.
To me this seemed indeed a bloody Wedding, and I and others wept; but our
Virgin bade us be of good courage, telling us:
"The life of these Kings and Queens stands now in your hands; if you will but
follow me, this death shall make many to live."
She bade us all good-night, bidding our pages conduct us to our chambers.
Mine alone looked out over the lake. About midnight, being unable to sleep, I
became aware of a bright glow on the water, and, rising from by bed, I saw
seven ships sailing swiftly to the Castle, all full of lights. Over each ship
hovered a flame; as soon as I saw them I knew:
"These are the spirits of the beheaded."
As the ships drew gently to land, our Virgin went through the night to meet
them, torch in hand; behind her came attendants, bearing the six covered
coffins and the little shrine, which they placed one in each ship. I roused
my page; together we saw all the lights but one on each ship go out; the
flames pass again across the lake; and the Virgin return to the Castle,
leaving hundreds of watchmen encamped along the shore, to keep guard through
Then my page and I again retired to rest; and at last, being extremely weary,
we both fell asleep.
THE FIFTH DAY
Next morning, being awake long before the rest, I entreated my page to lead me
a little about the Castle, and show me somewhat that was rare, whereupon he
led me down an underground staircase to an iron door, on which was inscribed
in copper letters:
"Here lies buried Lady Venus, the fair woman who hath undone many a great
My page led me by the hand through this door and along a dark passage to
another, normally kept locked, but unlocked today because the coffins had
yesterday been brought out through it. Through it we reached the King's
Treasury, a glorious vault which had no other light but from certain huge
carbuncles, and where, my page told me, I would see things which no human eye
outside the Royal Family had ever seen till now.
In the middle of the vault was a rich tomb, like an altar, triangular in
shape, supported by an ox, and eagle and a lion, and made entirely of gold and
precious stones. On it, in a vessel of polished copper, stood an angel,
bearing a tree in his arms. From this tree fruit fell continually into the
vessel, turned there to water, and ran out into three smaller golden bowls.
Opening a copper door in the pavement, my page now led me down another
exceeding dark staircase to an even deeper chamber. I was mightily terrified
when he lit a torch from a small, ever-burning taper, and asked how he durst
do this. He gave me for answer:
"As long as the Royal Persons are still at rest, I have nothing to fear."
In this chamber, by the light of the torch, I espied a rich bed hung about
with curious curtains, one of which my page drew, and I saw the Lady Venus,
stark naked (for he heaved up the coverlets, too), lying there in such beauty
that I was almost beside myself.
Behind the bed was tablet, on which was inscribed:
"When the fruit of my tree shall be completely melted, then will I awake and
be the mother of a King."
When we ascended again to the King's Treasury, I there observed small tapers of
pyrites, burning with flames so still and clear that I had mistaken them
before for precious stones. It was the heat from these that melted the fruit
on the tree held by the angel, and caused more fruit continually to grow.
No sooner had we re-entered the Treasury than in flew the little Cupid, who
promptly locked the copper door leading down to Venus's chamber, exclaiming:
"My old busy grandsire, you might lightly have served me a scurvy trick, had
you been aware of this door. I must look better to it! Yet can I not let it
pass unrevenged that you were so near stumbling upon my dear mother."
And he heated the point of his dart in one of the taper-flames, and with it
pricked my hand. I thanked God he had lighted on us no sooner, for at his
unlooked-for appearance I felt more like the dead than the living.
I now joined my fellow-guests in our hall, where Cupid would needs have me
show him my hand, where he still found a little drop of blood, at which he
heartily laughed, and had the rest have a care of me, as I would shortly end
my days. We all wondered how he could be so merry and have no sense of
yesterday's sad passages.
Our Virgin, dressed in black velvet, now conducted us to the garden, where we
found six sepulchres under a roof supported by seven columns, above which
floated a flag with a Phoenix painted on it. Here we assisted at the
interring of six coffins and a little shrine. The other guests thought they
had been present at the royal funeral; only I knew differently.
Our Virgin now reminded us of our oaths of allegiance to the Bridegroom, and
invited us to sail with her to the island Tower of Olympus, to assist in
preparing the medicaments needed to restore the Royal Persons to life. We
willingly followed her to the shore, where the seven ships still lay at
anchor, five of them flying planetary signs, one a globe and one a pyramid.
Here she assigned us to the various ships, which then set sail in this order:
Foremost, A, the Pyramid, carrying the Moor's head, with twelve musicians
making excellent music. Then B, C, D, abreast, in which we were disposed, our
Virgin and I being in C, which flew the Globe. Then the two stateliest ships,
E and F, whose flags were the Sun and Moon, having no passengers. In the
rear, G, in which were forty virgins.
From the lake we passed through a narrow strait into the sea, where sirens,
nymphs and sea-goddesses swam to meet us, begging to be allowed to sing to us.
Our Virgin, having re-arranged her ships in a pentagon about the Sun and Moon,
yielded to their entreaties, whereupon the sirens sang of love so delicately
and sweetly that I no more wondered at Ulysses for stopping the ears of his
companions; Cupid began to work with me, too, which tended little to my
credit. This was the wound I received on my head in a dream.
Presently we sailed on, and after some hours came within sight of the Tower of
Olympus. Its Warden, a very ancient man, came out in a gilded pinnace to
receive us and conduct us to his island. This was a perfect square, with a
great wall running all round it, two hundred and sixty paces thick. The Tower
itself was as if seven round towers had been built one by another, yet the
middlemost was somewhat higher, and within they all entered one into another.
At the gate of the Tower, we were led a little aside while the six coffins and
the little shrine were brought in without anyone but myself noticing. Then
we were taken into its underground laboratory, to wash herbs, crush precious
stones and extract juices and essences, our Virgin being so busy with us, and
so full of directions, that she knew not how to give us employment enough.
By nightfall these tasks were completed; a little broth and a little wine were
distributed, and mattresses were laid on the laboratory floor. I could not
sleep, but walked for a while in the garden, where, coming to stone steps
leading to the top of the wall, I mounted them, to contemplate the calm,
moonlit sea and the starry sky.
Here I was much moved to observe a conjunction of the planets such as is
seldom seen. Then, just before midnight, I saw the seven flames appear again
far across the sea, and pass over it to the island, coming to rest above the
spire of the central tower.
Suddenly the winds rose, the sea grew rough, and clouds covered the moon.
Hastily I stumbled back to the laboratory, where, lulled by a gently purling
fountain, I quickly fell asleep.
THE SIXTH DAY
Next morning the Warden of the Tower entered the underground laboratory,
followed by youths carrying ladders, ropes and large wings.
"My dear sons," he said, "one of these three things must each one of you this
day constantly bear about with him. To make choice you shall cast lots."
My lot fell on a ladder, twelve foot long, and pretty weighty; and I must be
forced to carry it, whereas the others could handsomely coil their ropes about
them, while as for the wings, the old man joined them so neatly on to the
third sort as if they had grown upon them.
He then withdrew, taking with him the fruits of our yesterday's labours, and
locking the door behind him, so that we imagined we had been imprisoned in the
Tower. But after a quarter of an hour, a round hole in the ceiling was
uncovered from above, where we saw our Virgin, who bade us a cheerful
goodmorrow, desiring us to come up. The winged sort were able to do so
instantly. Those with ladders followed, each drawing up his ladder after him.
But those with ropes had to wait until these had been suspended for them from
iron hooks, and even then the ascent was not compassed without blisters.
The hole being covered again, we found ourselves in a laboratory surrounded by
six stately vestries, to which we were first directed, to pray for the life of
the King and Queen. The twelve musicians who had sat in the ship of the
Pyramid now brought in a fountain, and with it a great oval casket, which, as
I surmised, contained the bodies of the beheaded Kings and Queens. Then,
while they played a most delicate voice of music, in came our Virgin, bearing
the little shrine containing the Moor's head, and followed by veiled virgins
with laurel boughs and torches.
All now stood round the fountain while our Virgin took from the little shrine
the Moor's head, wrapped in taffeta, and placed it in a vessel, into which
were then poured the essences and tinctures prepared yesterday. It was from
the Moor's head that this solution conceived so great a heat, the virgins also
placing their torches on spikes beneath the vessel, so that the water driving
from the fountain seethed and simpered. Their laurel boughs they stuck into
holes all round the fountain, so that the spray falling on them dropped into
the vessel coloured a deeper yellow.
For two hours the fountain played, and the distillations dripped into the oval
casket till the bodies it contained were quite dissolved. Then our Virgin had
a golden globe brought in; into this ran a red liquid from the oval casket;
then the globe was carried forth again.
We laborators now sat alone for a quarter of an hour or so, till I, perceiving
a trampling overhead, had an eye to my ladder. The cover in the ceiling was
lifted; and up we went by wings, ladders and ropes. It did not a little vex
me that our Virgin could go up another way; yet I could judge we must leave
somewhat for the old man (the Warden) to do.
And indeed, when we came up to this third conclave, we found the golden globe
already suspended by a strong chain from the centre of the ceiling. The walls
of this third laboratory were nothing but windows alternating with mirrors, so
optically opposed that the sun was everywhere reflected, so that in all
quarters of the room there was nothing but suns.
The heat from all these artificial refractions beat blindingly upon the golden
globe, till our Virgin judged the desired temperature to have been reached.
She gave orders now for the mirrors to be covered, and, when the globe had
cooled, for us to lift it down and cut it asunder. After much disputation,
this was at last done with a diamond; and when the two halves fell apart, a
great snow-white egg was disclosed, so beautiful that we stood around it as
jocund as if we ourselves had laid it.
As soon as our Virgin was satisfied that the shell had sufficiently hardened,
she carried the egg from the room, locking the door behind her. What she did
abroad with the egg, I know not; we were again to pause for one quarter of an
hour, till the third hole opened, and we, by means of our instruments, came up
to the fourth floor.
Here we found a great square copper vessel, filled with silver sand, in which
the egg was placed and warmed over a gentle fire, till, being ready, it was
taken out, but needed no cracking, for the Bird soon freed himself, looking
Our Virgin warned us to tie him up before we fed him; this we did, setting him
on the warm sand and bringing him the blood of the beheaded Kings and Queens
to drink, whereupon he grew before our eyes, became covered with black
feathers, and bit and scratched so devilishly that, could he have had his will
upon any of us, he would soon have despatched us.
When we brought him other meat, he grew tamer and more tractable; he moulted
his black feathers and replaced them with snow-white ones. At his third
feeding, his feathers began to be so curiously coloured that I never saw the
like for beauty, and he now behaved himself so friendly with us that, our
Virgin consenting, we released him from captivity.
At dinner we began to make merry together, spending our time for the most part
with our Bird; after which, our Virgin and our Bird departed from us, and the
fifth room was opened, which we reached after the former manner.
Here we found our Bird awaiting us, and a cool milky bath prepared for him, in
which he pleasantly sported; as the lamps beneath it made it warmer, we had
enough to do to keep him in the bath, and therefore clapped a cover on,
suffering him to thrust out his head through a hole.
In this heated bath, the Bird lost all his feathers, which the water consumed
turning blue, and the Bird stepped out as smooth as a new-born babe. The
bath we heated further, till all the water had evaporated, leaving only a blue
stone: this we ground to powder, with which we painted the Bird blue all over,
except for his head, which remained white.
Again our Virgin departed with her Bird, and we ascended through the ceiling
to the sixth conclave, where we found a little altar set up in the middle of
the chamber, and on it the book, the lighted taper, the heavenly globe, the
chimingclock, the crystal fountain, and the skull with its white serpent,
every way like those in the King's hall.
The Bird stood on the altar, and drank from the blood-red fountain, then
pecked at the white serpent till she bled. The heavenly globe turned till a
certain conjunction was reached, then a second, then a third; after each
conjunction the clock chimed.
Then the poor Bird himself submissively laid down his neck upon the book, and
willingly suffered his head to be smitten off by one of us, thereto chosen by
lot. Howbeit, he yielded not one drop of blood till he was opened on the
breast, and then the blood spun out so fresh and clear as if it had been a
fountain of rubies. His death went to the heart of us, yet we might well
judge that a naked bird would stand us in little stead. We assisted the
Virgin to burn the body (together with a little tablet hanging by) to ashes,
with fire kindled at the little taper, and to lay them in a box of cypress
Here I cannot conceal what a trick I, with three more, was served.
"My Lords," said the Virgin, "we are here in the sixth room, and have only one
more before us. I have found among you these four (pointing to me and three
others) lazy and sluggish laborators, and I purpose that they shall be
excluded from the seventh and most glorious action."
The Virgin so well knew how to keep her countenance that the water of our
grief soon ran over our baskets. The musicians were fetched and with cornets
blew us out of doors with such derision that they themselves could scarcely
sound for laughing. But as soon as we were come out of the door, they bid us
be of good cheer, and follow them up the winding stairs to the eighth floor
under the roof, where we found the old man standing.
He received us friendly, and congratulated us that we were hereto chosen by the
Virgin; when he had understood the fright we conceived, his belly was ready to
burst with laughing that we had taken such good fortune so heinously.
"Hence," said he, "my dear sons, learn that man never knoweth how well God
Our Virgin, running in with her cypress box of the Bird's ashes, also joined
in the laughter; and we four were set to work under the direction of the old
Warden, moistening the ashes to a dough with prepared water, heating this
paste, then casting it into two little moulds.
While this was cooling, we peeped through a crevice in the floor at our
fellows, now busy on the storey below, where we saw them industriously blowing
at furnaces, and making gold, imagining they were herein wonderfully preferred
When we opened our two little moulds, we found two bright and almost
transparent little images, angelically fair babes, a male and a female, each
being but four inches long. These we laid on two little satin cushions, and
beheld them till we were almost besotted upon so exquisite an object.
Under the old man's direction, we let the blood from the Bird's breast fall
drop by drop from a golden cup into their mouths, till they had reached their
perfect full growth, with curled gold-yellow hair. The old man commanded us
to lay them on a long table covered with white velevet and to cover them with
white taffeta, which, because of their unspeakable beauty, it went hard with
us to do.
Our Virgin now entered with two curious garments, which could have been
crystal but that they were gentle and not transparent. These she laid upon a
table; and while her musicians played, she and the old man performed many
ceremonial gestures directed towards the roof. This was arched into seven
hemispheres, and at the top of the middle and highest of these I spied a small
Now entered six virgins, each bearing a large trumpet, wreathed with a green,
glittering, burning material. The old man took them one by one, placing them
one after another on the mouths of the two sleepers, with their wider ends
directed to the roof. Along each of the funnels thus made, I saw a bright
stream of flame shoot down from the aperture in the roof, and enter the
sleeping image, which immediately twinkled its eyes though scarcely stirring.
Next the two sleepers were neatly laid by each other in a travelling bed,
where they continued to sleep behind drawn curtains. Meanwhile, we sat very
still, attending when our married couple would awake; and thus about half an
hour was spent. Then Cupid flew in, and tormented them till they waked, which
happened to them with very great amazement, for they imagined that they had
slept from the hour in which they were beheaded; and when our Virgin had
clothed them in their new garments, all present kissed their hands, and
escorted them down the stairs and out to the royal ship, in which, with Cupid
and a train of virgins, they set sail for home.
At supper the Virgin brought us again to our former companions, where we were
to carry ourselves as if we had truly been in a lamentable condition. At this
supper the old lord was with us; I learned most by this old lord, and if men
would but take notice of his procedure, things would not so often and
After supper, the old lord led us into his closet of rareties where we saw
such wonderful productions of Nature and other things which man's wit, in
imitation of Nature had invented, that we needed a year sufficiently to survey
them. Thus we spent a good part of the night by candle-light.
We then retired to handsome bed-chambers; and I, being weary with continual
labour, had good rest, continuing in one dream from eleven of the clock till
eight the next morning.
THE SEVENTH DAY
Next morning, the morning of the seventh and last day, we met in the
nethermost vault of the Tower, and were given habits entirely yellow, together
with our golden fleeces, for we were still dressed in our black funeral garb.
After breakfast, the old lord presented each one of us with a golden medal,
bearing on one side the words, "Art is the priestess of Nature," and on the
other, "Nature is the daughter of Time". So we went forth to the sea, where
our ships lay richly equipped. The ships were twelve in number, six of ours
and six of the old lord's; but he betook himself to us in our ship, where we
were all together. In the first the musicians seated themselves, of which the
old lord had a great number. Our flags were the twelve celestial signs, and
we sat in Libra. The sea was so calm that it was a singular pleasure to sail;
but that which surpassed all was the old man's discourse, who so well knew how
to pass away our time with wonderful histories that I could have been content
to sail with him all my life long.
After two hours' sailing we passed from the sea into the narrow strait, and
out of this into the lake, which we found covered with 500 ships which had
sailed from the Castle to meet us, led by one sparkling with gold and precious
stones, in which sat the young King and Queen, on whose behalf Old Atlas
The rest of our companions were in a huge amazement whence this King should
have arisen, for they imagined no other than that they must again awaken him.
We carried ourselves as if it seemed strange to us, too. After Atlas's
oration, out steps our old man, wishing the King and Queen all happiness and
increase, after which he delivered a curious small casket, but what was in it
I know not; it was delivered to the custody of Cupid, who hovered between them
So we sailed on a good time together, till we arrived at another shore, near
the first gate at which I first entered.
Horses awaited us there; and when we disembarked, the old lord and I rode
with the young King, each of us bearing a snow-white ensign with a Red Cross;
I, indeed, was made use of because of my age, for we both had long grey beards
and hair. I had fastened my tokens round my hat, of which the young King soon
took notice, and demanded if I were he who at the gate had redeemed these
tokens. I answered yes in the most humble manner; but he laughed on me,
saying there henceforth needed no ceremony, I was HIS Father.
When we reached the first Portal, the Guardian in his sky-blue habit awaited
us, a supplication in his hand; this he delivered to me, begging me to use my
good offices in lying it before the King. On the way to the second Portal,
therefore, I asked the King about this Guardian, and he replied that he was a
very famous astrologer; but having on a time committed a fault against Venus
by beholding her in her bed of rest, this punishment was imposed upon him,
that he should so long wait at the gate till someone should release him from
"May he then be released?" I asked.
And the King replied.
"Yes; if another commits the same transgression, he must take his place."
This word went to my heart; conscience convinced me that I was the offender,
yet I held my peace, and delivered the supplication. As soon as the King had
read it, he was mightily terrified; and as soon as we alighted, he called for
Old Atlas to come to him in a little closet, and showed him the writing.
Atlas made no long tarrying, but rode out to the Portal to take better
cognisance of the matter.
It was now announced that after supper each of us could crave some boon of the
King. Meanwhile the King and Queen began to play together a game not unlike
chess, with the virtues and vices one against another, where it might be
observed with what plots the vices lay in wait for the virtues, and how to re-
encounter them. During the game in comes Atlas again, and makes his report in
private; yet I blushed all over, for my conscience gave me no rest.
The King now handed me the supplication to read. In it the Guardian of the
First Portal reported that his observations of the stars revealed that one
of the King's guests had uncovered Venus; thus the time had come when he himself
should be released from his office, and he beggged to be permitted to be
present at that evening's banquet in the hope of discovering his successor.
The King accordingly sent to invite his to join us; and as we all sat at table
he made his strict survey. Then certain curious chairs were placed in a
circle, in which we, toggether with the King and Queen, both their old men,
and the ladies and virgins, were to sit. A handsome page then announced that
the King, in recognition of our services, had elected each of us Knight of the
Golden Stone, and required us to make these five vows:
I. To ascribe our Order only to God and His handmaid, Nature.
II. To abominate all whoredom, and not defile our Order with such
III. To use our talents to assist all that have need of them.
IV. Not to strive for wordly pride and high authority.
V. Not to wish to live longer than God would have us.
At this last article we could not choose but laugh.
We were now, with due ceremony, installed Knights, and conducted in procession
to a little chapel, where I hung up my golden fleece and my hat. And because
everyone was to write his name there, I writ thus:
"The highest wisdom is to know nothing.
Brother Christian Rosenkreutz.
Knight of the Golden Stone.
The King then retired to a little closet, to which each of us was to come in
private, to request our boons. I decided, even at my own peril, to release
the Guardian of the First Portal from his office; so, when I was called in, I
made a full confession.
The King wondered mightily at this, and wished me to step aside a little; and
as soon as I was called in again, Atlas declared to me that it was grievious
to the King's Majesty that I, whom he loved aboved others, was fallen into
such a mischance; yet, because it was not possible for him to transgress his
ancient usages, the other must be released and I placed in his stead. Nor was
my own release to be hoped for till the marriage feast of his future son.
This sentence near cost me my life; yet I took courage, and related how this
gatekeeper had been my benefactor, having bestowed a token on me by whose
assistance I had stood upon the scale, and so had been made partaker of all
the honour and joy already received. Hereupon the good man was pronounced
free, and I imagined no other than that I must finish my life under the gate.
The ring of office was now placed upon my finger, and the King embraced me,
telling me this was the last time I would see him in this manner, from all of
which I understood that in the morning I, most wretched man, had nobody to
show me the way, who should approach me but the two august old lords -- Atlas
and the Warden of the Tower -- who conducted me into a glorious lodging, in
which stood three beds, and each of us lay in one of them.
* * *
At this point the narrative breaks off abruptly in the middle of a sentence;
and this colophon is added:
"Here are wanting about two leaves in quarto; and he (the author hereof)
whereas he imagined he must in the morning be door-keeper, returned home.:"
END OF FILE
CHYMICAL WEDDING OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ FILE 2 of 2
COMMENTARY ON THE STORY
(Readers who are unfamiliar with the description of the being of man and the
epochs of world-evolution as described in Spiritual Science will find it
helpful to read page 62 before beginning the Commentary.)
THE FIRST DAY (SATURDAY) (see Note 4)
The house of Christian Rosenkreutz is situated on a hill, a picture of
higher consciousness. (We are reminded of Belmont, "the beautiful mountain,"
the home of Portia in The Merchant of Venice.) It is a cottage, a picture of
his own simplicity and humility of soul, of which we shall hear much in the
While he is meditating, it seems to him that a great storm blows up. The act
of meditation has lifted his consciousness to the etheric world, where all is
in movement, in contrast to the stiff immobility of the physical world.* This
is the storm which sweeps the creative artist at the moment of creation when
music, a poem, a picture is conceived. It seems about to shatter his house to
pieces - even his physical body is affected.
This heightened consciousness makes him aware of a spiritual being behind him.
As he turns to look at her, light streams from his own being; meeting his
spiritual visitant, it is rayed back and gives him the impression of a blue
mantle. All is not rayed back, however; and where it is absorbed by the being
he has the impression of stars. Thus he pictures her in a blue, star-spangled
The visitor bears in her hand letters in all languages, for her message is
universal, and given to men all over the earth who are sufficiently mature to
receive it. Christian Rosenkreutz does not follow the way of the mystic, but
of the alchemist; while the mystic strives to come to spiritual truth by
entering more deeply into his own being, the alchemist wishes to penetrate to
the supersensible which is hidden behind Nature. He knows that in order to do
this he must develop a greater capacity for distinguishing between truth and
illusion. This pilgrim, having heightened his sense for truth by uniting
himself with the Christ being, feels secure in his belief that this spiritual
experience is a reality, because he sees on the letter the sign of the cross,
and the words In hoc Signo vinces. Because its contents are of very great
spiritual importance to him, it feels heavier than gold.*
In the letter he is told that he is invited to a Royal Wedding "by birth and
by God's choice" ' it lies in his destiny, but is also bestowed on him by
grace. He is bidden to go to a place where three temples stand, whence he
will see the direction he must take. He does not at the moment understand
this, but he knows that a spiritual seeker has Imaginations from time to time
which he has to allow to ripen within him until he is mature enough to
understand them; if he tried to explain them intellectually he would spoil his
apprehension of them. Seven years earlier he had not understood an impression
which came to him that he would one day receive an invitation to the wedding
of a king. It is only now that he apprehends this experience.*
He next makes a diligent search into the positions of the planets, and finds
he may venture to hope for a spiritual experience at this time. It is
important for him that it is Easter 1459, called in the story "the year of
balance", for he knows that human development must move harmoniously with
earth evolution if it is to come about in the right way (see Note 1.)
However, he feels very unworthy and is still unsure whether he should go. He
decides to ask his good angel to help him, and in this mood he falls asleep.
Because his soul has already to a certain degree been transformed, his dreams
are real experiences in the spiritual world. Many people have such
experiences, but only those who are mature bring back a memory of them into
In the "Tower of Blindness" he feels cramping and distress because his soul is
trying to free itself from sense-experience. What binds the soul to the body
are the forces of life and growth. But these do not give consciousness. This
only arises because man takes into himself the forces of old age and death,
which are portrayed in the story by the "ice-grey man".* Only that soul can
participate in the vision of the spiritual world who becomes aware of these
forces which in everyday life are hidden behind age. This force has power to
tear the soul away from the realm of sense-experience. Thus it is the ice-
grey man who helps the prisoners to escape from the dungeon.*
It is interesting that the prisoners who were heaving and struggling with one
another in the depths are ready to help those who are less fortunate than
themselves once they have attained the next higher stage of consciousness.
Each prisoner is brought by the ice-grey man before the "Ancient Mother," the
powers that lie behind Nature. As each leaves her she gives him a gold coin
to spend by the way. On one side is a picture of the rising sun, and on the
other D.L.S. (deus lux solis - God, the Light of the Sun). Henceforth all
Nature will seem changed to them. The pilgrim will experience a new wealth of
understanding and an awareness that a spiritual sun is hidden within Nature.
In this experience Christian Rosenkreutz has received wounds on the head and
feet, and these he refers to later. The head-wound is spoken of in connexion
with his experience with Venus. There is a mysterious connexion between the
power of physical procreation and intelligence, the power of spirit
creativeness. Man must transmute the former into the latter; failure to do so
is like a "wound in the head". Later we shall see the meaning of this more
fully (see Note 5).
Of the wounds in the feet caused by the fetters, the Ancient Mother says to
him, "Keep these wounds for my sake". It has been suggested that this
mysterious saying has reference to the Washing of the Feet, an experience
undergone early in Christian initiation. In the latter it is a training in
humility, and we shall see how the humility of this pilgrim is of service to
him in his future experiences. He must not forget what a struggle it was for
him to get free of the body and thus receive a deeper understanding of Nature.
When Christian Rosenkreutz awakes he knows that he is allowed to make the
journey and he arrays himself in his wedding garment. This is a white linen
coat (we are reminded of the wedding garment of the guests in the parable).
He wears a red stole crosswise, as a priest wears his. In the language of
myth and fairy-tale this scissor-cross points to that human ego-consciousness
which in man has a certain association with the crossing of the optic nerves
which allows the eyes to focus and thus obtain clear sense-impressions beyond
the scope of animals, with their parallel sight. (In fairy-tales the use of
scissors shows this ego-consciousness in action, as when Red Riding Hood cuts
open the wolf to release her grandmother.)
He also carries four red roses in his cap which he afterwards, at her request,
gives to the Virgin who guides his initiation. These are symbols of his own
inner development and show us that, for the true alchemist, alchemy consists
above all in the transmutation of his own being. His giving these faculties
to the Virgin indicates his wish to use them in the service of the spiritual
world (see Note 6).
He then takes bread, water and salt and sets out joyously on his way. Salt is
a picture of his thinking, water of his feeling, and bread of his will. We
shall see how he has to surrender these personal qualities as he penetrates
more and more deeply into the spiritual world.
THE SECOND DAY (SUNDAY)
It is Easter Morning when Christian Rosenkreutz sets out on his initiation
journey. This is the day on which Christ created His resurrection body, and
our traveller (to take the story on a higher level of meaning) is setting out
to undergo an experience which will enable him to create a copy of this body
for himself (see Note 7).
He remembers the golden token of his dream, whereby he was to see Nature
henceforth in a new way; and he goes on his way rejoicing, because all Nature
seems reborn. At length he reaches an open space where there are three mighty
cedar trees. In the margin of the original story "Three Templa" are spoken of
at this point. We know that the Templum was a sacred spot dedicated to a god
- in this case to Mercury, for his sign is on a tablet nearby. A Templum was
also a place for taking auspices - this happens here in the incident of the
dove and the raven. So now we understand the "three temples" to which the
letter directed him to go in order to find his further road. Mercury was also
the God of Travellers, and Christian Rosenkreutz is setting out on a journey.
The traveller is confronted by four roads and is greatly troubled to know
which to take, especially as the tablet tells him that, whichever he chooses,
there is no turning back. The first is rocky and dangerous, for the arid
rocks of dry materialism give rise to deceit. A spiritual seeker has to be
very mature to tread this road in safety.
The second is a long but safe road, the way of earthly life, the way of
faithful and patient meditation that leads slowly but surely to the goal,
provided that the traveller turns neither to the right nor to the left. The
one temptation leads to neglect of earthly tasks in unrealistic dreaming -
this is called, in Spiritual Science, the way of Lucifer, the deviation to the
left. The deviation to the right leads astray into so deep an immersion into
material things that anything spiritual seems to have no reality - this is the
way of Ahriman.
The third path is the Royal Road, by which men who have attained maturity in a
previous incarnation can quickly and easily find their way to the Spirit. The
fourth, encompassed by fire and cloud, could only be traversed by those who
were not in the flesh; it is fit only for incorruptible bodies (see Note 8).
Christian Rosenkreutz sits down, bewildered and doubtful as to which road he
should take, and begins to eat his bread. At once the snow-white dove
flutters down, the messenger of peace and love, and he shares his bread with
her. We may say his will is put at the disposal of this messenger of the
spirit. But the raven who molests her is also a messenger from the spiritual
world - we remember the ravens of Elijah and that the Raven was the first
degree in certain initiations.
Pursuing the two birds in his endeavor to help the dove, the traveller finds
himself already on the second road. Such a choice cannot be taken by the
conscious mind, and we know that events of seeming mischance may be messengers
leading us to take a step in the right direction. Christian Rosenkreutz feels
pity and love for the bird, and these feelings are often a surer guide than
intellectual judgement. He turns round and considers going back; but so
strong a wind blows up against him that he sees it would be impossible. Once
embarked on an occult path, the spiritual seeker may not turn back. He finds
that he has left his bread - his personal will - behind him.
So he keeps faithfully along this road all day long, travelling south,
following the direction of the dove's flight, and using his magnet (compass)
so that he may err neither to right nor to left. There is a very beautiful
diagram in the book of the Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians which shows us
the significance of the magnet in the story. It portrays a hand holding a
Magnet Stone with the inscription, "I attract all those seeking God and the
Truth. I am the Magnet Stone of Divine Love, attracting the iron-hard men on
the road to the truth."
When Christian Rosenkreutz reaches the Castle he has to pass the three gates
which lead into Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. These names are given
in Spiritual Science to three degrees of heightened awareness towards which
every human being can train himself. It becomes possible to pass from a
physical seeing to a seeing which is based on the activity of an inner light -
a sense-free perception which enables one to become aware of the etheric body
and also of the happenings in the etheric world. This is the capacity of
Imaginative perception, or Imagination. This term for a quite exact and
reliable seeing should not be confused with the term imagination, loosely used
for any fantasy.
A further faculty of the mind, a faculty which allows us to become aware of
our own astral body and of events in the astral world, is called Inspiration.
This is a further development of the faculty of hearing, in the same way that
Imagination is an extension of the sense of sight. It would take too long to
go into the question here of why awareness of the astral is connected with
There is a thrid faculty which enables man to be fully conscious of his own
Ego, and also to enter into the being of others and to become cognisant of
spiritual beings. To describe this gift Rudolf Steiner chose the word
Intuition.1 Again, this must not be confused with the dim feeling often
called by that name.
At the first gate he meets the Guardian, an elderly man whose blue mantle is a
picture of devoted service. On the seventh day we see the full significance
of this meeting, and of his warm greeting to the Rosicrucian Brother. The
latter has to give up his water - his personal feeling - in order to obtain
the token which will allow him to pass into the imaginative world; for in the
realm of Imagination the man who works out of his personal feeling and fantasy
will be lead astray.
By this time it is dusk, and he is relieved to meet a beautiful Virgin who
carries a flaming torch which lights the way for him. A seeker's first steps
into the spiritual world are in part lit by a spiritual being, who comes to
aid him, responsive to his need. At the gate he is confronted by a terrible
lion, a picture of his own being as it appears in the etheric world in which
he now finds himself. It is also a revelation to him of how he appeared
before he came down into the sense-world. In the physical world the life of
instincts, impoulses and emotions is held in chains to a man's ideas and
thoughts.* IN the etheric world the true nature of his being is portrayed to
him in this raging lion; speaking in psychological terms, we might say that he
has to face his subconscious being, which is to be transmuted by his further
At this point Christian Rosenkreutz has to surrender his salt (his power of
personal thinking) for he is entering the realm of Inspiration. again he must
depend on the help of the Virgin, for as yet his powers are not strong enough
to create the light by which he can find his way. As he reaches the last
portal, the gate is suddenly clapped to, so that he has to leave behind his
cloak, which is caught in the door. When we enter the spiritual world we must
lay aside the cloak of our ordinary consciousness, which serves us well enough
in everyday life. The keeper of the third gate gives the traveler a new pair
of shoes - he has now to tread the ground beneath his feet in quite a
different way. He gives his old shoes to a beggar; for as new spiritual gifts
are given to us, we must continually pass on to others what we have received.
Now he finds he is to be tonsured. Hair is connected with natural, atavistic
clairvoyance, as we recall in the story of Jacob and Esau, "the hairy man"' it
was the hairless Jacob who bore the forces of the future within him. The old
clairvoyance, dependent upon the organism, has to be surrendered in order that
a new spirituality may develop. But the shaving of the head also uncovers the
fontanel, by which pure spirit can later, when he has consciously and over a
long period prepared himself, pour into a man's being.
The guests are now summoned to a banquet, and Christian Rosenkreutz is
surprised to find such a large assembly of all sorts and conditions of men -
including some acquaintances of whom he has never thought very highly. When
he enquires how they have come, they mostly tell him they have travelled by
the rocky road, the road of barren intellectualism, but also of corrupt
occultism. These people are now scrambling for all the best places, and there
is scant room at the lowest table for him and the other more modest members of
the party who do not push forward.
At this point he makes friends with a "fine quiet man", and hereafter refers
to him as "my companion", "my friend", "my brother" (see Note 9).
The beings of the spiritual world are as yet invisible to him and to most of
the guests; and one who pretends to be able to see those who are serving them
receives speedy punishment. The unworthy guests boast that they can see the
Platonic Ideas, hear the movements of the planets, and so on. They have
considerable intellectual knowledge of the occult, but have not transformed
their soul-powers, and so have to pretend to experiences which are not real
for them. To see these would-be guests sitting at the top table and boasting
of their achievements makes Christian Rosenkreutz bitter and ironic. He says
"This was part of the lameness I experienced in my dream". We remember that
the wounds on his feet were caused through the fetters by which the soul was
held to sense-experience, though it struggled to get free. It would seem that
he is still vulnerable through sense-experience, for when he is scorned by
other guests whom he knows to be of less value than himself he is hurt by it.
He recognizes sadly that his humility is not yet complete.
But the mood of our traveller changes when a new experience recalls to him the
holiness and wonder of the Castle. There is beautiful music, and no-one
speaks for the space of half an hour. We are reminded of the "silence in
heaven for the space of half an hour" before the opening of the seventh seal
in the Apocalypse. There must always be a "creative pause" to prepare the
mind for something new which is about to take place.
The entrance of the Virgin is most impressive, and we realise for the first
time the importance of her role as Initiator of the wedding guests. After
welcoming them, she warns them of the test that awaits them next day, then
allows them to make their own judgement of their own worth by either accepting
a bed-chamber for the night or, if they feel unworthy, spending the night in
the hall. Only Christian Rosenkreutz and eight others remain there, among
them his new friend. It is just this sense of humility which enables him,
during the following days, to develop spiritual power.
The binding by the pages is a picture of his feeling of spiritual impotence,
which leads him to feel fettered. It is important to notice the functions of
the virgins and the pages. The female beings portray spiritual beings - help
given from the spiritual world - while the young males, the pages, are a
picture of the will implulses arising in the soul.* Thus the feeling of being
bound arises from within, and is not due to any action by those in the Castle.
During the night he has a dream. Those who are hanging high have a shameful
fall, and those who are hanging only a little way above the earth fall gently.
He has a feeling that the meaning is that those who have made such vain boasts
will be put to shame, and those who have been more modest, even if they do not
pass the test, will at least not be so deeply disgraced. Awaking, he tells
his friend of the dream, and is assured that it was sent to him for comfort.
They feel that they and their seven companions have chosen the better part.
It is right that they have felt the fetters of soul-impotence in face of the
spiritual world, for this feeling of powerlessness will later be transformed
THE THIRD DAY (MONDAY)
The day opens with the testing of the guests. They are to be weighed on the
scales of gold, for the test concerns not head knowledge, but knowledge that
has become heart wisdom, and gold concerns the heart.
The weights are the Seven Liberal Arts:* Grammatica, Rhetorica, Dialectica,
Arithmetica, Geometrica, Musica and Astronomica, through the study of which,
up to the fifteenth century, students were trained. They were meant as an
education towards the Spirit. The Quadrivium, the four last named, was
already a way of initiation in ancient Egyptian Mystery Schools. Later the
Trivium was added, for instance in the schools of Plato. Grammar was then
thought of as the revelation of man as spirit through the word; Rhetoric was
the revelation of man through the beauty of the word; and Dialectic, the
revelation of the soul through forms of thought.
In earlier times seven living Goddesses stood before the soul; later they were
presented to the student as pictures, and finally dried out into abstractions.
Even up to the seventh century the pupils could learn to become aware of a
mighty living Being, the Goddess Natura (described as the Ancient Mother in
our story), who appeared before them in her full radiance and taught them the
secrets of Nature. In the Christian Mystery Schools, she was spoken of as the
Handmaid of Christ. The pupils did not learn of abstract laws of Nature but
of the creative power of the Goddess Natura. She it was who led them to a
knowledge of minerals, plants, animals and the elements as filled with divine
power and substance.
Only then were the pupils taught Astronomica - how through a knowledge of the
wandering stars they could learn the secrets of the soul; and through that of
the fixed stars, the secrets of the ego.1
It is remarked that the weights are heavy out of all proportion to their bulk
- the knowledge conveyed opens up in the true student profound vistas of
wisdom. One can easily understand Grammatica, the revelation of the Word;
Musica, the harmony of the Spheres; and Astronomica, the star-wisdom which was
a revelation of man's relation to the heavens, being spoken of as the
weightiest of all.
In the case of Christian Rosenkreuz and the eight others who pass the tests,
the knowledge has so ripened in them as to give them the weight of soul
necessary for the experiencing of initiation into the spiritual world.* The
rejected guests, especially the intruders, have merely acquired intellectual
knowledge - they have come "the rocky way". Some of them are even charlatans
who have misled other guests by claiming bogus occult wisdom. Andreae has
much to say of the imposters in his own day who reaped fortunes from the
credulous by such false occult claims.
The first Emperor could only sustain the first six weights - perhaps one could
say he had not fathomed the implications of star-wisdom. There is only one
Emperor who stands the test, and this one is described as a short man with a
curly brown beard. As the test goes on we see how very high is the standard
required by the spiritual world of the would-be candidate for initiation. At
length only those are left who had spent the night fettered in the great hall;
and of these only the Rosicrucian Brother and his friend are found not
wanting. The former can support not only all the weights, but also these
together with three men in armour.
On seeing this, one of the pages cries out loudly, "This is he!" - this is the
one for whom the wedding is consummated, the other guests in a sense being
witnesses of the ceremony. Since the pages are a picture of the will-impulses
arising in the soul, the cry of the pages is to be thought of as a sudden
leaping up of self-consciousness, a piece of self-knowledge.
Christian Rosenkreutz is told that, because he has more than enough weight to
pass the test, he may help one of those who have failed. He chooses the first
Emperor, who had been so shattered by his failure. One is allowed to pass on
spiritual wisdom to help another in need, just as one man helps another in the
physical world.* But whereas a material gift leaves the donor poorer, a
spiritual gift blesses him that gives and him that takes. It is sad to read a
little later that the Emperor repays his kindness by very scurvy treatment
(see Note 10).
It is at this point that the Virgin asks for Christian Rosenkreutz's four red
roses, and is given them -- he dedicates to the service of the spirit all that
he has so far gained in occult development.
We notice that during this ceremony the Virgin and her attendants are clothed
in crimson, and that as each successful guest takes his seat on her throne he,
too, is given a crimson mantle. Crimson is the colour of selfless love and we
realize that, however stern the tests, they are made through love alone. The
mantle of which the successful guests are found worthy reveals that no other
soul-qualities are of avail without it. A mood of love suffuses the banquet,
for the table is also decked in this same crimson. After these experiences
the chosen few are able to see the servitors who were invisible to them the
previous night - they have already attained a measure of clairvoyance.
The king sends them the insignia of the Golden Fleece and the Flying Lion.
The Golden Fleece signifies that they have transformed their feeling-life, and
the vehicle of the feelings shines like pure gold, as in the days when man had
not yet fallen. The Flying Lion would seem to indicate the power of the
feelings to soar upwards to the spirit.
After the conclusion of the meal, they all repair to the courtyard where
justice will be meted out to the unsuccessful guests and imposters. It is at
this point that Christian Rosenkreutz remarks on the ill-treatment given to
him by the rejected Emperor whom he had helped.
Those who are genuine but not yet mature are sent away with dignity and given
a Draught of Forgetfulness. On returning to ordinary life they will not
remember what has happened to them; something of the kind happens to most of
us every morning when we awaken from sleep. The impostors are so severely
punished that the Rosicrucian Brother weeps at the sight. We realise that
human judgements are very different from those of the world of the spirit, and
that perfect love can be more stern than human weakness can understand.
The Rosicrucian Brother now finds dawning within him the power to see his
intelligence in a way that is new to him. This appears before him as an
Imagination of a unicorn. This wonderful creature is a picture of pure
clairvoyance (for this reason it can only be caught by a pure maiden). It is
a white horse (pure intelligence), with a horn which grows from a jewel in its
brow (the two petalled lotus-flower) see Note 6). There is no earthly
substance it cannot pierce, and nothing that this creature cannot see, for his
power is supersensible. The unicorn kneels before the lion, who breaks a
sword, the pieces of which sink into the fountain. The purified thinking bows
before the feelings and calms them, but the two are not yet one, as they will
Each guest now purifies himself further by washing head and hands in the
fountain, and is then given a page to conduct him round the Castle. We have
seen that the page represents a spiritual activity of the one he is serving,
and so we recognise that each guest is now left to his own initiative as he
penetrates further into the spiritual world. Some occupy themselves in
copying the paintings - they think that what is required of them is faithfully
to reproduce the beauty that has already been created. Christian Rosenkreutz
has a more powerful page who has the key to those parts of the castle not
usually shown (see Note 11).
He and his companion visit the grave of the kings with its glorious Phoenix -
a picture of the Mysteries of death and transformation through a sacrificial
act that leads to re-birth. Andreae wants to describe how the "Chymical
Wedding" stands at a special turning-point of time. The old way of initiation
has died, and the new rises from the grave of the old. For all new
developments must be founded on what has been right and good in the past.*
The Rosicrucian Brother and his companion learn that to become the leaders of
the modern age they must not go the old way of initiation with the help of a
hierophant, but through voluntary self-sacrifice come to a re-birth such as
will be consummated in the "wedding" they are so soon to witness. Thus they
approach the developments of the following days with open and expectant
Nevertheless, the spiritual seeker has to enrich his soul through a knowledge
of the past evolution of man - hence their visit to the Library, the Akashic
The king sends his page to get the keys back from their page - the rulers of
the Castle would prefer spiritual life to continue along its old lines. Dr.
Steiner remarks here that even today the spiritual investigator finds that his
strongest opponents are those who want to continue an old way of approach to
the spiritual world.*
Christian Rosenkreutz and his companion now visit the great globe and are
interested to see that the rings which mark the home of each wedding guest are
scattered all over the globe. This indicates that the new wisdom is
universal, and not confined to either east or west. As they sit at the centre
of the globe they see the power of the planets working within the earth - they
learn the secrets of the seven metals which have been called "the deeds of the
planets within the earth" (see Note 12).
Christian Rosenkreutz is so entranced that he can hardly tear himself away,
and is laughed at for his tardy arrival at supper.
While they are eating and drinking, the Virgin propounds a riddle and asks the
guests to find the answer. Then some of the guests do the same. In each
case, the intellect can find no solution. Andreae wants to show that in the
spiritual world the human power of judgement must be suspended.* Reality is
richer than can be surmised by judgement based on sense-experience.
Christian Rosenkreutz is now emboldened to ask the Virgin her name. From her
indications he works it out as follows: -
First letter 1=A
Her name is Alchimia. We are invited to consider her being more closely. She
is the imaginative representation of spiritual knowledge. Andreae wants to
show how true alchemy is concerned with the transformation of spiritual
substance into physical and how a true understanding of physical substance
leads to the supersensible.* We now understand that it was Alchimia who led
Christian Rosenkreutz with a torch as he drew near to the Castle, when the
approach to the spiritual world seemed dark. True alchemy throws light on the
pathway to the spirit.
And now there enters a very stately figure who reveals herself as Theologia.
This duchess is more other-worldly than Alchimia. One must not think of her
in terms of the rather dry picture called up by the word "theology" today, but
rather see her as the earthly reflection of Sophia, divine Wisdom. Her way is
the way of faith, Alchimia's the way of knowledge. She looks toward heaven;
Alchimia seeks to penetrate the secrets of earth.
The guests take her for the Bride, but in honour and riches Theologia much
surpasses her. The Bride is the Higher Ego of Christian Rosenkreutz, the
Duchess a reflection of the Cosmic Wisdom which reunites man to God. For this
reason her weight is the heaviest of all. It is given to Alchimia, for this
heavenly wisdom borne by earthly wisdom gives perfect enlightenment. She
reminds our Rosicrucian Brother that he has received most, so most will be
expected of him. He finds this very strange - his humility always forbids his
understanding how great his spiritual wisdom really is.
Each of the weights, which we have come to know as the Liberal Arts, is hung
in a chapel - knowledge is dedicated to the service of God. The guests then
pray for a blessing on the Royal Wedding.
Christian Rosenkreutz's dream in the night is of a door which needs great
effort before he can open it. This is to remind him that his experiences so
far are not of intrinsic value, but that they have helped to generate a force
which will need to be strengthened by still greater effort on his part if he
is to go further on his quest.*
THE FOURTH DAY (TUESDAY)
This is the middle day of the seven, the heart of the story. It opens with a
visit to the Fountain, which we now recognise as the Fountain of Healing and
Inspiration, presided over by Mercury. The lion is redeemed; he is now the
servant of Mercury ; hence, after bathing in these healing waters, the guests
are given new insignia of the Golden Fleece - they have achieved a greater
purification of the feeling-life. This garment is covered with flowers - a
reminder that the future body of man will be more flower-like in its texture,
and will shine more brightly; at the same time, the moon and sun will shine
more brightly, too.
Christian Rosenkreutz has now to face his own soul power* - he has to mount
three hundred and sixty-five steps, perhaps a picture of a cycle of faithful,
daily meditation; self-knowledge is not easily or quickly to be achieved. He
meets three kings and their consorts - thinking, feeling, and willing together
form the foundation for conceptual life. Dr. Steiner also speaks of them as
the powers of memory and ideation on either side of the ego.* The very old
king would then represent the power of memory - a human faculty acquired in
the dim past - wedded to the etheric life-forces, which, as we know, grow
younger as the physical organism grows older.
The black king may be thought of as the power of intellectual thinking, in
which the light of wisdom has been darkened. The female counterpart of this
is the dim intuition of the woman's mind, a delicate and veiled apprehension
of ideas which a man's brain seizes in a more concrete way. This power of
intuition was active in very ancient times; hence the queen is described as a
"dainty old matron". The young king and queen represent, perhaps, the first
dawn of imaginative thinking, to which only the ego can give birth.
The guests are welcomed by Atlas, the being who bears the burden of the earth
on his shoulders. He receives them gladly because the transformation ofeven
one individuality awakens in him the hope that one day his burden will be
lightened, for the initiate works upon himself not for his own sake, but to
help mankind and the earth. "Man is the Messiah of Nature," said Novalis, and
the events of the sixth and seventh days reveal the depth of meaning in his
The symbols on the altar are very ancient Mystery tokens, showing man's
connexion with the universe. The book points to the thought-content of man,
the influx of world-creative thought into the soul. Through the little light
it is indicated that world-thougths are active in the world-ether and give
illumination to men. Cupid blows upon the light - light and love are two
polar opposites which are active in all growth and becoming. The sphere
indicates how man is interwoven with spatial existence, as the clock speaks of
his connexion with cosmic time. The fountain from which blood-red liquid
flows, and the death's head with the serpent, show how birth and death appear
to the spiritual seeker as founded in the Cosmos. The power of planets and
zodiac interweave to bring about the life and destiny of man.*
The comedy which is played represents the story of the soul of man during a
lifetime, but also, on a second level, the development of the soul during
earth-evolution. Taking it in its simplest meaning, we see how birth is, as
often, represented as an infant borne to solid ground on the waters of the
etheric (we are reminded of the story of Moses in the bulrushes). As the king
takes the child out of the water, he comments that she has previously been
stolen by the Moor. In this connexion Rudolf Steiner speaks of the way in
which the power of evil (called Ahriman in occult literature) often fastens on
the brain of a soul on its way to incarnation.1 (Life on Earth and in the
The princess is royally brought up by ancient wisdom, but at puberty she falls
again into the hands of the Moor. She is rescued by an ancient knight - still
working out of the good forces of the past - and is restored to her kingdom.
When she comes of age she falls once more into the hands of the dark power -
this time of her own free will - and is brutally ill-treated. The young
prince, her higher self, has to conquer, not only the Moor, but also her own
weakness and folly, before she is fit and able to become his bride. When at
last higher and lower self are united, the multitude pray that from them a
fairer race may spring. (We have echoes of part of this story in
Shakespeare's Winter's Tale and Tempest.)
But now the dread moment approaches when the consciousness of the spiritual
seeker must go through death in order to attain new life. At every step
forward in occult development, it is necessary to overcome fear; and at this
point a nameless fear overcomes Christian Rosenkreutz and the guests. The
young king, the consciousness of the spiritual seeker, exacts an oath of
faithfulness from his guests. We have spoken of the way in which this story
must be read on many levels; and at this point the guests, in one sense
perhaps representing concretely the stage attained by the greatest of earth-
initiates, are to be thought of in another sense, as the nine members of man's
being, each of which has been brought to special perfection by one of the
"guests". The whole being of man must take part in his regeneration, else his
lower nature will betray him; hence the oath of fealty given to the young
king. As Alchimia says, "The life of the king, and many more, stand now in
your hands." Christian Rosenkreutz is to lead humanity into a new age.
The beheading signifies, on one level, the sacrifice of the forces of ideation
and memory in order that a new, living thinking may be created. In another
sense, it is the physical body that is to be regenerated in order to become
the "resurrection body" which is the gift of Christ to the future. After the
six have been beheaded by the Moor (who is the same figure of evil as we have
seen in the play), he himself suffers the same fate. He is a picture of the
Judas individuality, who again and again has to act as "the betrayer", the
agent of a tragic fate, which nevertheless is a necessity in the working-out
of karma. Yet it is an act of betrayal, and brings punishment in its train.
The head of this being is gathered up and is a necessary ingredient in the
alchemy by which the king and queen are given new life. A mysterious
admixture of darkness belongs to the creation of new light.
The fate of the kings reminds us of the beheading of John the Baptist, who
thus sacrifices the first half of the evolution of the earth, during which man
developed the power of intellectual thinking. From the grave of this thinking
is to arise the power of living thinking. Through this sacrifice and the
uniting of his being with the power of the Christ Being he was able to play an
important part in the unfolding of the new age.
At this point Rudolf Steiner speaks at length of how the two soul-forces,
memory and ideation, are dependent on the same kind of physical condition as
growth. But the forces of growth bear within them the forces of decline and
death; therefore they can only give rise to dead thinking. Thus the spiritual
seeker must realise in the foundation of his soul-processes the metamorphosis
of the growth-processes in his body. Usually these life forces are only
changed into cognitional forces by taking death into themselves. This is
Nature's alchemy. The spiritual seeker has to carry this alchemy further.*
To do this he must realise that, just as in the development from flower to
seed certain forces are held back in order to produce something new, so the
higher forces of knowledge have been held back as a seed, at the point where
Nature has developed knowledge forces for what is dead. The next step, to
awaken living forces of cognition, must be carried out by the would-be
initiate himself. Such an achievement is "a further shoot of renewed life in
the being of the world"* (see Note 13).
Christian Rosenkreutz sleeps in a room which looks out over a lake - the
etheric world. He has already achieved something of the consciousness which
will be the possession of the man of the future. During the night he sees the
seven flames of the seven beings who have lost their lives hover above ships
which are to bear the bodies to the place of resurrection. He is the only one
who sees this, for, after all, it is his forces that are undergoing the
change. He seems that the Castle in which he is staying is well guarded by
many watchmen, just as the temple of the body is guarded at night by spiritual
beings. So, at long last, he falls asleep.
END OF FILE
THE CHYMICAL WEDDING OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ [FILE 3 of 3]
THE FIFTH DAY (WEDNESDAY)
Christian Rosenkreutz has now to penetrate into the realm of Venus, the source
of life. We must recall what was said concerning the task of the initiate who
seeks to bring life into his thinking. He must penetrate into the processes
of Nature to the point at which she brings forth life. This is a dangerous
realm, the realm of the Lady Venus, where Nature works with the force of love
to produce new life. This realm is underground, because as yet Venus still
works in the sphere of the unconscious will-forces. It is all too easy for
the seeker to be overcome by the instincts, unless his heart is filled with
the purity of Christ. While Christian Rosenkreutz passes safely through this
test, he nevertheless fears he has committed a grave fault in seeing the Lady
Venus, whereas for these forces to be raised to consciousness was legitimate
in the new initiation, though not in earlier times.*
He first sees the tree of Venus, on an altar-like stone supported by the three
beasts who traditionally represent thinking, feeling and willing - the eagle,
the lion and the bull. The fourth being, man, the synthesis of the three, is
not represented - but above is the angel, the higher nature of man, holding
the fallen tree of life. The decaying fruit continually falls, melted by the
flame of pyrites, which may be said to represent the sacrifice of Christ. It
must become completely liquid - etheric; this liquid falls into golden
vessels. The tablet by the side of Venus is inscribed: "When the fruit of my
tree shall be completely melted, then will I awake and become the mother of a
king". When the way of procreation has been completely transformed and
purified, love will bring forth man worth of the name -- "a king" (see Note
15, concerning the gift of the old lord to the king and queen).
The guests are now to view death from the earthly side - after death the
interring of the remains is a sad task. Only Christian Rosenkreutz, through
the experiences of the night, knows the truth, that the coffins are but empty
shells, and that the beings who died the previous day are already on their
journey to the place of re-birth. The guests are given an indication of what
is to come by the flag bearing the picture of the Phoenix, always a symbol of
The guests are now reminded of their oath of allegiance to the young king and
invited to sail with Alchimia to the Isle of Olympus. Olympus, the Heaven of
the Greek gods, and in particular of Jupiter, is the sun-filled ether sphere.
It will be noted that the ships set forth in the configuration of the cross
and triangle. The foremost is the bearer of the Moor's head - the sign of the
Pyramid seems to indicate that a solid grounding on the earth is necessary
even for the most spiritual transformation of man's being. The next three
ships form the cross-beam, as it were, of the cross; these are Mars - Earth -
Mercury (see Note 1, paragraph 3). Christian Roesenkreutz is naturally on the
ship bearing the sign of the Globe (Earth) for he is concerned wholly with
earth-development. The virgins in the ship behind bear laurel branches.
Their ship carries the sign of Venus; the laurel, an emblem of sun-filled
thinking, prefigures the future - the redeemed Venus power. This ship with
Sun and Moon make the triangle. As the cross is the sign of earth-life, so is
the triangle an emblem of heaven. Jupiter is not represented, for it is to
the Island of Jupiter, the Isle of Olympus, that they are bound. Jupiter is
the laboratory of the gods, the home of Plato's Ideas, which are there formed
before coming into physical manifestation.
Before the Virgin gives permission for the sirens to sing to the voyagers, she
changes the formation of her little fleet, which now makes a pentagon as if
protecting the ships bearing the bodies of the kingds, which fly the signs of
the Sun and Moon. The pentagon encloses the pentagram, which in an occult
sense is the image of the perfect man of the future - the Mercury man to be
developed in the second half of earth-evolution.
The sirens - primal love - who belong to the realm of the Father, are then
allowed to sing their sweet but seductive song. It moves even the Rosicrucian
Brother in such a way that he remarks "This was the wound in my head". We are
again reminded of the mysterious connexion between ideation and the
reproductive powers (see Note 5).
As they draw near to the Tower of Olympus the Ancient Warden comes out to
greet them. We have seen that the island is situated in the sea of the
etheric. It is square in form, the perfection of the earth-form; we are
reminded of the New Jerusalem, which also was "four-square". On the island is
a Tower, the hidden laboratory of the Powers of Creation. In this Tower the
work of regeneration will take place. It has a ground-plan of seven
interlacing circles, the plan of many ancient Mystery temples, and stands
seven stories high.1 (See The First Goetheanum as a Modern Mystery Temple by
D.J. van Bemmelen - Anthroposophical Quarterly, Spring 1964) This is a
picture of the sevenfold being of man, and also, on another level, of the
seven epochs of earth-development, in the course of each of which one vehicle
of the soul of man was to be developed.2(Occult Science) Seven has always to
do with earthly time, just as twelve is the number of space.
The guests are now set to work in an underground laboratory at their first
task, which is the preparation for use of herbs and crystals. This is
Nature's alchemy, which has to be faithfully carried out before the spiritual
seeker can bring about something new.
When night falls, Christian Rosenkreutz goes out into the garden and looks up
at the stars. He is delighted to see a conjunction of the planets which gives
him confidence that their enterprise is rightly timed. He then sees the seven
flames of the dead persons cross the ocean and come to rest over the top of
the Tower, where their souls will await the new bodies which are to be
prepared for them.
THE SIXTH DAY (THURSDAY)
This is Thursday - Jeudi, the day of Jupiter, the day of new creations. The
experiences of this day are the core of the whole initiation.
Concerning the pictures in which these experiences are conveyed to us by
Andreae, Rudolf Steiner says that they are in a sense unimportant, since
another occultist could have conveyed the same process in different pictures.
What is important is what happens in the soul of the reader as he ponders upon
The experiences of this day can be read on many different levels - in one
sense they are an initiation through which man attains the power of living
thinking; in another, the stages of experience between death and a new birth;
or again, the development of the seven vehicles of man's being through the
seven epochs of earth-evolution; and yet again, these epochs themselves. It
seems simplest to follow the process as that of re-incarnation and of the
creation of a new resurrection body, the body that has been spoken of as the
future gift of Christ to man. It should be noted that in the fifteenth
century the understanding of re-incarnation and karma was confined to those
Rosicrucians who had attained to the highest degree of initiation. They
placed this story before the world so that men might grow familiar with a
picture which in the future could awaken within them an understanding of its
full meaning. In the same way a real fairy tale conveys to a child in
pictures spiritual wisdom which is only transformed into concepts much later
in life.1 (From Jesus to Christ)
The day begins with the old Warden's bestowal upon each guest of one of three
means of climbing to the next higher stage of spiritual experience - wings,
ladders and ropes. We note that they are given out by lot, and we remember
how Christian Rosenkreutz was led, seemingly by chance, to one of the four
roads that was his destined way. At crucial moments we may trust "chance"
events to be a surer guide to a right destiny than the conscious choice of the
limited wisdom of man. "Wings" are obviously the privilege of the very
few initiates present, who can at will mount to each next higher realm. A
"ladder" is the picture of the means by which the spiritual seeker ascends who
still rises step by step, not without effort, but in his own strength. Those
who have "ropes" whose spiritual exercises sit more lightly upon them day by
day, find the climb more arduous and have to be helped by those above them.
The collaborators are first asked to pray for the success of their enterprise;
it has been said that the scientist of the future will go to his laboratory as
to an altar. Now a great oval casket containing the bodies of the dead kings
and queens is brought in, and also a small shrine containing the Moor's head.
A fountain whose water is to be heated reminds us of the processes carried out
in the alchemist's laboratory. The distillation is brought about to the
strains of beautiful music. Of this Rudolf Steiner says: "What the intellect
perceives as law, in the spiritual world is music; all pictures shining with
light are at the same time sounding".
The tinctures and essences prepared the previous day, together with the Moor's
head, are used in this first process. These, since the basis of matter and
earthly substance is spirit, can generate the spiritual power and spiritual
heat necessary to transform physical substance into etheric liquid. We
remember the same process going on in the domain of the sleeping Venus. The
liquid is then placed in a golden globe - gold is always an alchemical picture
of the Sun Sphere, the Sphere of Christ.
Before each of the processes there is a creative pause of "a quarter of an
hour". We notice that at each stage a preparation is made by an unseen being
before the collaborators can begin their work. We realize the old Warden is
active behind the scenes, though he is not seen, and then only by the chosen
four, till the very end.
In this third storey they are in the Sun Sphere - there is sunlight
everywhere, and it is the light and heat from the sun that creates the snow-
white egg. We are made to realise something of the joy of creation - the
guests "are as jocund as if they themselves had laid the egg". We are all too
apt to think that any creative work in which we take a part is our own,
instead of realising that we are, after all, only humble collaborators with
the spiritual power that wills to work through and with us.
On the fourth floor, the see the Bird - the human soul in its astral condition
- emerge; at first very wild, and only gradually tamed. Fed first on the
essence of the former earth-life - the blood of the kings and queens - he
grows feathers, always a picture of thoughts; memories of earth-life produce
black feathers, unenlightened by heaven's wisdom. When a change is made to
heavenly food the bird's feathers become white. Later they are still further
irradiated by the glory of heaven and become many-coloured and full of beauty.
And now the Bird is docile and friendly.
In the fifth stage the Bird loses these transformed thoughts; in the
alchemical process they become a blue liquid with which the Bird is painted,
all except the head. Blue is the colour of Saturn, the bearer of cosmic
memory, who retains the essence of earthly thoughts which become deeds in a
new life; for what has been learned in one life is transmuted into a faculty
in the next. The head of one incarnation is, however, discarded; having
served its purpose it is not painted with the rest of the body, and presently
is struck off.
In the sixth storey we again find an altar. Previously, the altar showed
man's relation to the cosmos from an earthly point of view; now it is seem
from the cosmic aspect. The six objects had relation to the planets' work
upon earth; now we are shown that the planetary influence is powerful in
forming the faculties of the human being in his new life. The collaborators
make the Bird drink from the fountain of birth, to which he is averse - he
pecks at the serpent till she bleeds, perhaps indicating the soul's reluctance
to come into connexion with the mysteries of death and rebirth. As Novalis
has said, "A birth on earth is a death in the spiritual worlds."
The clock chimes when certain conjunctions are reached. It is the solemn
"midnight hour" when the soul must turn anew towards the earth. The hour of
re-birth depends upon the constellations in the heavens - the soul's gifts and
faculties must enter the world on the streem with which it is associated.1
(Between Death and a New Birth) This does not mean that man is ruled by the
stars, as the ancients thought, but reveals that a man, his fellow men, and
the universe are one, and must live in mutual harmony.
The Bird's head is severed from the body; the forces of trunk and limbs will
be transformed in the new life. This is the moment of sacrifice; the past is
sacrificed that its forces may be metamorphosed into new ones for the future.
The body is burned, together with a little tablet hanging by - the previous
earth-life's karmic record; the ashes of both are preserved and used in the
creation of the new body. The ashes represent the essence of the destiny of
the soul, which is built into the whole structure of the human being about to
And now Andreae tells us of a little joke which the Virgin plays upon four of
the wedding guests. (It is refreshing to find that jokes are played in
heaven!) Here Andreae deliberately keeps a light, satiric touch, to avoid any
approach to sentimentality.* The Virgin pretends that Christian Rosenkreutz,
his friend, and two others have been unsatisfactory co-workers; they are
therefore not to take part in the seventh process. Feeling very shame-faced,
they are driven from the room, only to find themselves led up in honour to the
eighth floor, and there met by the old Warden, with whom they are now
permitted to take part in the final mystery of the new creation (see Note 14).
The ashes are mixed with prepared water - the substance of karma with the
etheric life-forces - to shape the transformed bodies of the young king and
queen, which at first are very tiny. While waiting to carry out the next
stage the four guests watch the other five on the floor below, busy carrying
out alchemistic processes in the old way, thinking that they are more honoured
in this task than the four who have left them. one imagines these could well
be the guests who in the Castle painted copies of the beautiful pictures; they
are not aware that something new is needed at this momentous point of time.
The chosen four watch the little embryo-forms grow and are enchanted by their
beauty. We feel again that here is the joy of creation, known to all artists,
and realise the truth of Rudolf Steiner's words; "Now there is nothing which
may in reality be called bliss except the vision of the process of creation,
the process of becoming".1 (Life between Death and Re-birth)
The tiny beings are fed with the Bird's blood, the quintessence, it would
seem, of the earlier life. They are almost transparent - this is the
fundamental form of the resurrection body, which is to receive the soul. The
old Warden is active in this part of the initiation, "performing many
ceremonial gestures towards the roof," where, as Christian Rosenkreutz knows,
the souls are awaiting incarnation. The trumpets are the means by which the
souls enter the mouths of the king and queen. They shoot down like a
brilliant streak of flame, and the images begin to stir. We are reminded of
the statue scene in Shakespeare's Winters Tale, which is obviously written out
of a knowledge of this whole ceremony.
After a "creative pause" during which the king and queen sleep, they are
awakened and have no memory of anything that has happened to them since their
last earth-life. At this point of time, man has no memory of the time between
death and re-birth. The Virgin now clothes them in white garments "which
could have been crystal but that they are gentle and not transparent" - a
beautiful description of the new fleshly body. They now start on their
journey to the scene of their earthly activities.
The nine guests meet again at supper, which is made into a festival by the
wisdom and charm of the old Warden, the Lord of Olympus. Afterwards they are
shown the rarities in the Tower. We remember that we are in the region of
archetypes, the realm of Jupiter.
At length they sleep. Their work of transubstantiation is complete. Rudolf
Steiner reminds us that such a process is not carried out solely for the
benefit of the individuality concerned, but for humanity. Later on there must
be brought about, by already transformed individualities, the
transubstantiation of society; and later again that transubstantiation of the
earth of which St. Paul speaks.*
THE SEVENTH DAY (FRIDAY)
After their wonderful experience in the heights, the guests are led back to
the lowest regions of the Tower, preparatory to their return to earth-life.
They now wear yellow garments (the colour of Mercury), together with the
insignia of the Golden Fleece.
The old lord, the Warden, gives each a medallion. On the one side is
inscribed "Art is the Priestess of Nature". The process which they have
just carried out is "art" in the deepest sense of the word. By penetrating to
the realm where Nature weaves the dead into the living and becoming, they have
carried this process further in the transubstantiation of the being of man.
The other side of the medallion bears the words, "Nature is the Daughter of
Time". Evolution gradually comes forth from the womb of time. Although the
events of the previous day have only been briefly portrayed, the seven storeys
of the Tower remind us of the time-element which must be present in all growth
The guests re-cross the sea in ships that now bear, not the planetary signs,
but the signs of the zodiac. They sail under Libra--the sign of balance; they
are still in "the year of balance", and, moreover, have now to find the
balance between spiritual and temporal existence. Christian Rosenkreutz is
especially delighted by the company of the old lord: "I could have sailed with
him all my life long". We remember his comment on the previous day: "If men
would but take notice of his procedure things would not so often and so
untowardly miscarry". We are given a glimpse of what it can mean to men to
develop the power to make contact in full consciousness with great earthly
personalities who are living in the spiritual world, and take council with
them. Rudolph Steiner has spoken of the importance of developing the power to
bring about this conscious interweaving between the two worlds. He once said,
for example: "This is the sole real healing that humanity needs".1 (Some
Characteristics of Today)
We shall now return to the level of interpretation which portrays Christian
Rosenkreutz as having experienced an initiation through which his higher self
has been brought to birth within him.
The travellers are greeted by five hundred ships which come out to meet them--
perhaps (like the parable of the five thousand) an indication of the Fifth
Post-Atlantean Age in which we are living. Old Atlas (the Earth-bearer) comes
forth eagerly to greet them, for "the earth is hungry for initiates" (see Note
The other five guests are astonished to see the young king, already alive and
active. The four who took part in the final awakening are silent as to this;
the initiate's lips are sealed concerning his most inward experiences.
The old lord gives his warm good wishes to the young couple and then delivers
into the hands of Cupid a small casket, the contents of which are kept secret
(see Note 16).
The shore where they land is near the first gate at which Christian Rosenkreutz
had entered. The initiate has to return to his earth-life precisely at the
point where he stood before his initiation. The young king, the old lord and
himself are now given horses--they have now to resume earthly thinking. They
carry a snow-white ensign with a red cross; this, the ensign carried by the
risen Christ, was also the flag both of St. George and of the Templars. In
response to the young king's question, he tells him how he gave up his water
and salt (personal feeling and thinking) in return for the tokens on his cap.
The young king then tells him he is HIS father--the initiate may in a sense be
said to have fathered the birth of his own higher self.*
And now we are told of a very strange happening. We know that Christian
Rosenkreutz was destined to become the Guardian of the modern age, to
replace the former guardian. This he at first regards as punishment, not
understanding its full significance. The old guardian delivers to him a
petition for the king, begging to be relieved of his task. He also had
"looked upon Venus" and had been condemned to be gatekeeper until another
committed the same fault. In earlier times it was not permitted even in
initiation to enter consciously the realm where life is generated.
Procreation took place in unconscious sleep.1 (The Mysteries of Herta)
But in the new initiation it is pemissible, and indeed necessary, to enter
this dangerous realm as Christian Rosenkreutz had done; he does not, however,
realise that he is guiltless, and therefor suffers torments of conscience. It
seems that the young king and the old lord are in no haste to reassure him.
One has a feeling that this portrays the way in which the working of the
spiritual world is often misunderstood by the human being. As the old lord
had remarked on the previous day, "Man never knoweth how well God intendeth
him". The Rosicrucian Brother has to take his courage in both hands to make a
full confession, saying that as the old gatekeeper had been his benefactor on
his arrival at the castle, he must set him free at whatever cost to himself.
He feels he must repay his debt to ancient wisdom, which has been the
foundation on which his new knowledge has grown. He sadly recieves the ring
of office, thinking that he must for many years "sit under his gate".
He is becoming the gatekeeper, also, of his own thoughts and inner life, and
this does not, as he fears, preclude him from entering the spiritual world,
but, indeeed, is a necessity. But he is also to work for humanity, and this
is shown by his being made, together with the other guests, "Knight of the
Golden Stone". To see dead substance as a revelation of the spirit, this is
the Golden Stone.* Ordinary knowledge is a corpse; spirit-permeated knowledge
is the Golden Stone. But also the spirit-permeated body is the Golden Stone.
And the Knights of the Golden Stone are those who, having brought about this
transubstantiation in themselves and in thier thinking, are pledged to work
for the transubstantiation of society, as indicated by the five vows.
That the initiate's new work for humanity will not be allowed to unfold
unhampered by the Spirits of Hindrance has already been pictured forth in the
game "not unlike chess," with the virtues and vices pitted one against the
other, played by the young king and queen. It warns the spiritual seeker that
to range oneself on the side of the Spirits of Light is to invite attacks from
the Spirits of Darkness. It is interesting to recall that one of Dr.
Steiner's exhortations to vigilance in face of such surprise attacks on the
part of the Adversary is couched in terms of this particular Imagination -
"Never forget the Invisible Chess-Player."
At the end of this troublous day Christian Rosenkreutz finds himself, greatly
to his surprise, honoured by sleeping with the old lord and Atlas. Again and
again we see in him this quality of beautiful humility, which is always
startled to find a recognition of any spiritual stature in himself.
Abruptly he "came home" into the physical body. Even if he is the "Guardian"
of the Age, the spiritual seeker of today must re-enter everyday life, and
continue earthly tasks; but now his higher self is working in all that he
does. The young king had said, "This is the last time you will see me in this
manner," which our friend had taken to be a farewell. But though it is only
in the spiritual world that we can see the higher self face to face, as it
were, this higher self, once won, works on within us. We do not behold, but
we feel, its power.
Rudolf Steiner concludes his comments by saying: "Doubtless some readers will
be specially curious to know how the change was accomplished, but only one who
has experienced it can understand the transition back to everyday life.
Andreae says "one or two pages are lost," thus showing how expertly he
understands the conditions of esoteric life."*
EXPLANATORY (PAGE 62)
The following brief outline is included for readers who are unfamiliar with
the description of the being of man and the evolution of the world as
described in Spiritual Science.
The soul and spirit of the human being dwell, not only in a physical body, but
also in what may be called a body of life-and growth-forces (the etheric
body). These two vehicles the plant and animal worlds also possess. In
addition, man shares with the animal world the possession of a vehicle of the
life of feeling (the astral body). Man alone has an ego. But he also has
what may be termed the vehicles of his higher self, only the first of which,
the Spirit Self, is as yet, and that only in part, developed by the average
man. This may be said to be the transformed body of feelings in so far as a
man has achieved love and unselfishness. In the future he will transform his
body of etheric forces, so that it will be filled with health and life. This
is termed Life Spirit. Finally, in the far future, the physical body will be
transformed - the human being will attain to Spirit Man. The transformed
physical body is the "resurrection body" described in Note 7.
Each of these vehicles of the soul and spirit of man has been, or is to be,
developed during successive "Culture Epochs". The physical body was developed
in the remote past; the etheric body (the body of life-and growth-forces)
during what is known as the Ancient Indian Civilisation; while to perfect the
astral body (the body of feeling life) was the task of the Ancient Persian
The vehicle of the ego is threefold, each stage of development needing a whole
cultural epoch for its development. The Sentient Soul (the soul that lives
chiefly in the feelings) was developed in the Egyptian-Chaldean Age; to
develop the Intellectual Soul (which lives chiefly in the thinking) was the
task of the civilisation of the Greeks and Romans. This modern age (which
began in 1413 is concerned with the growth of the so-called Consciousness
Soul, which lives especially in the will-life of the ego. The above bare
outline can be confirmed by a thoughtful review of world-history.
Our own age will be followed by a more spiritual one in which man will be
called upon to develop the Spirit Self. This may be called the Sixth Cultural
Epoch. The transformed Cultural Epoch, and the transformed physical body
(already transformed by Christian Rosenkreutz, as pictured in this story),
will only be acquired by the average man in a far distant future.
This very incomplete sketch is only given as a help in studying the foregoing
pages. A fuller knowledge may be gained from many books and lectures by
Rudolf Steiner, in particular from "Occult Science".
Note 1 (Foreword, Page 5) The writer calls the year 1459 "a year of balance"
and it is important to understand why he does so. We know that the laws of
cause and effect work in such a way that the cause of a certain happening may
be sought the same number of years before the "point of balance" as the event
happened after. Thus, if we take away 1459 from 1604, when the story was
written down, we arrive at a period of 145 years. Now, 145 years before 1459,
in 1314, the Order of Knights Templars was suppressed by Philippe le Bel. The
Rosicrucian Order had the task of carrying forward the work of this Order.
Moreover, the year 1459 may be called "a year of balance" in a much deeper
sense. Rudolf Steiner has called the year 333 A.D. the dead centre of earth-
evolution. Owing to a time-lag caused by the Spirits of Hindrance, the
second half of earth-evolution actually began in 1413, at the dawn of the
fifth cultural epoch, its workings being first actively implemented in 1549 by
the founding of the Rosicrucian Order.
This may also be spoken of as the transition from the Mars half to the Mercury
half of earth-evolution; during the first half the Mars-forces of
materialisation were working; during the second half the Mercury-forces,
etherealising matter, must increasingly hold sway. Thus the Mars half of the
earth's history has meant the growth of intellectual thinking, and ever deeper
descent into materialism, while the Mercury half will bring the development of
living thinking. The Mars-period has brought a hardening of man's physical
body; the Mercury-period brings the possibility of its etherisation. 1
(Theosophy of the Rosicrucians and An Outline of Spiritual Science or
There is yet another important respect in regard to which this was a time of
balance. A danger had arisen that mankind would split into two groups, those
who wished to live a spiritual life in seclusion and those who carried out the
practical life of the world. A form of initiation had to be instituted which
would not preclude the spiritual seeker from taking part in the life of the
everyday world. Christian Rosenkreutz was the first of the new initiates
whose task it was, and is, to find the balance between spiritual and material
life.2 (Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner, by Guenther Wachsmuth)
Note 2 (Foreword, Page 6) It is important to know, concerning an
individuality, not only who he was, but also to which stream of humanity he
belongs. This is especial import in the case of Christian Rosenkreutz. He is
the Guardian of the modern age of technics; as such he belongs to the Cain-
Hiram stream. This is made clear through the Temple Legend, entrusted by
Christian Rosenkreutz to the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross.
In this we are told that Cain was the son of Eve and one of the Elohim, while
Jahve created Adam, whose sons by Eve were Abel and Seth. Jahve accepted the
offering of Abel, but rejected that of Cain, because the latter had not been
created at His command. Cain therefore slew Abel and was cast out from the
company of Jahve.
From the race of Cain came all that had to do with the earth; he and his
descendants originated Art and Science. One of his descendants, Tubal-Cain,
was skilled in the handling and mixing of metals. From this same line came
Hiram, the famous Master Builder, skilled in all the science and technics of
Solomon was descended from the race of Seth, gifted in all that Jahve could
bestow of tranquil wisdom. He conceived the magnificent idea and plan of the
Temple, but his wisdom had nothing to do with technics or the creations of the
human will; therefore he had to call in Hiram to aid him. The divine wisdom
of Solomon was to be the heart of the Temple, clothed in earthly substance by
the skill of Hiram.
But at this time Balkis, Queen of Sheba, bearer of the old clairvoyance,
visited Solomon and was wooed by him. Having accepted the king, she met Hiram
and straightway fell in love with him, thereby rousing bitter jealousy in her
royal lover. Solomon's enmity brought about Hiram's death.1 (The Mystery of
From this time on the two streams, Cain-Hiram, Abel-Seth-Solomon, pursued
their way through the centuries, the rift unhealed; the sons of Cain still
masters of art and science, the sons of Solomon pursuing philosophy and
religion. It was the task of Christian Rosenkreutz to unite both streams in
his own being, and thus begin the healing of the breach.
Note 3 (Foreword, Page 6) Our present era, the era in which man had to
develop the Consciousness Soul, began in 1413. In the evolution of the single
individuality, the consciousness Soul is developed in the seven years from 35
Christian Rosenkreutz was 35 in 1413 - a further instance of the wonderful way
in which his own evolution harmonised with world-evolution.
Incidentally it may be noted here that as one aspect of the Consciousness Soul
man develops the "onlooker consciousness" and with regard to the experiences
about to be related Christian Rosenkreutz is at once participator and
Note 4 (Page 34) Christian Rosenkreutz is careful to show that his adventure
begins on Easter Eve, Saturday. It is important to notice that each
succeeding day has a character of its own, corresponding to its planetary
significance. We recall that Saturday is Saturn's day, a day dedicated to
reviewing the past, for Saturn is the bearer of cosmic memory; it is therefore
the appropriate day for Christian Rosenkreutz to review his own past before
deciding whether he is worthy to undertake the journey. Saturn is also the
planet of destiny, and today is a very fateful day for him.
Sunday belongs to the Sun and is a day of new beginnings. On this day he sets
out on a journey which may be said to be a new beginning not only for himself
but for all humanity.
Monday, the Moon's day, reminds us that this cosmic body possesses great
hardening forces and brings about a tendency to materialise, but also to
atavistic clairvoyance. These must be consciously resisted and overcome if a
man is to be a treu spiritual seeker. Hence, in the story, Monday is the day
of testing the guests.
Tuesday (in Old Germanic Ziu's day, in French Mardi) is the day of Mars.
Wednesday (in Germanic Wotan's day, in French Mercredi) is the day of Mercury.
(For the significance of Mars-Mercury see Note 1.) In the story, Tuesday, the
day of "dying into matter" is the day the kings are beheaded. Wednesday
(Mercury's day) sees the beginning of the process of resurrection.
Thursday (in Germanic Thor's day, in French Jeudi) is Jove's or Jupiter's day.
The planet Jupiter is the realm of archetypes, of Plato's Ideas. It is
fitting that on this day the guests are at work in the Tower of Jupiter
bringing to consummation the resurrection of the kings. In the next
incarnation of the earth, called the Jupiter-evolution, man himself will be
called upon to take a hand in creation.
Friday (in Germanic Freya's day, in French Vendredi) is the day of Venus. The
true Venus holds the mystery of selfless love and service to our fellow men.
On thi day the guests are made Knights of the Golden Stone.
In this amazing story we can read a meaning on many levels - as the story of
an initiation, leading to living thinking; as the story of man's evolution,
leading to his developing the "resurrection body"; as a picture of human
development throughout the seven culture epochs of earth-evolution; and,
again, as a picture of the seven incarnations of the earth. And in the names
of the consecutive days of the week, we have reminders of all these stages of
Note 5 (Page 36) The wound in the head: Christian Rosenkreutz here hints at
the mysterious connexion that exists between ideation and procreation. In
times long past, when the sexes were first divided, conscious spiritual
activity began. From that moment part of the energy which man had hitherto
used in bringing forth children was directed towards the development of his
own being. The power with which man has been enabled to create for himself an
instrument of thought is the very same power whereby in very ancient times he
fertilised himself.1 (Atlantis and Lemuria)
This gives a key to the temptation that assails the highly intellectual man,
and explains the connexion twice spoken of by Christian Rosenkreutz between
the "wound in the head" and his meeting with Venus, also his reaction to the
song of the sirens. It is interesting that the genius of language retains an
awareness of this connexion in that the same word is used for an idea, a
conception in the mind, as for procreation, conception, of a new human being.
Note 6 (Page 37) The roses are a picture of the development of the so-called
lotus-flowers, the organs of higher perception. The two-petalled between the
eyes, the sixteen-petalled in the larynx, the twelve-petalled in the region of
the heart, and the ten-petalled at the pit of the stomach, are the first four
to be developed.2 (see Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment) It
is interesting that the first Rosicrucian cross was pictured with four roses;
the others were added later.
Note 7 (Page 37) The Resurrection Body: In the lectures, From Jesus to
Christ, Dr. Steiner devotes much time and thought to this all-important
subject. Briefly, he says: What is the physical body? We are accustomed to
say that man lays aside his physical body at death. But is this really so?
What man puts off at death no longer possesses the most important thing that
this body has in life - namely, its form. In a short time it crumbles into
formless earthly substances. It is quite clear, then, that the form, which is
the real physical body, withdraws at death. To the substances and forces
which a man has experienced as his physical body during life, something else
has been added, the Form, or as Dr. Steiner calls it, the Phantom. In the
earliest days of man's incarnation, the physical body was not visible. It
only became visible after the Fall, when Lucifer led men more and more deeply
into physical matter, which was necessary if man was to win the gift of
freedom. The physical body is really transparent, crystal clear. Through
Lucifer men have taken earth substances and forces into this body - it has
become solid and opaque, and at the same time it has taken into itself the
forces of death. By the time of the Mystery of Golgotha there was a danger
that the body would become unfit as a vehicle for the ego of man.
Then came the Mystery of Golgotha, and through this happening it came to pass
that one man, who was the bearer of the Christ, passed through such a death
that after three days the specifically mortal part disappeared into the earth,
and from the grave there rose the pure Phantom - that which it was intended
from the beginning man should have. That spiritual body which rose from death
on the first Easter morning is like a seed for the renewal of all mankind. It
gradually imparts itself to every man who makes the right connexion with
Christ. In the future this body will be the gift of Christ to every man who
has chosen to take His forces into himself.
The true purpose of the true alchemist was to prepare this higher body.1 (The
Foundation Stone by Dr. F.W. Zeylmans van Emmichoven) We shall see on the
sixth day how Christian Rosenkreutz does this.
Note 8 (Page 38) The four roads are the paths opened up by the four
incarnations of our planet - the Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon and Earth
evolutions.1 (Occult Science)
The rocky and dangerous road is that of Ancient Moon; the long safe road, that
of Earth; the Royal Road, that of Ancient Sun, which only high initiates may
travel; the road "fit only for incorruptible bodies" is the way of Old Saturn.
At this point a tentative hypothesis may be put forward. We learn from Rudolf
Steiner that in the fourth century the great being Manes called together in
the supersensible world the three great Bodhisattvas, Scythianos, Buddha, and
Zarathustra, and that at this Council a plan for the future evolution of the
civilizations of the earth was decided upon and carried over into the European
Mysteries of the Rose Cross.2 (The East in the Light of the West) As the
Chymical Wedding in 1459 was the inception of their plan for the modern age,
it would seem natural to suppose that these three exalted individualities were
present among the wedding guests; Scythianos, as the Initiate of the West,
travelling, but immaculately, by the rocky road; Zarathustra, as a King of
Wisdom, by the Royal Road; and the Buddha by the Saturn Road, "fit only for
incorruptible bodies"; and that in the Initiator directing the
alchemical processes of re-birth the great Manes himself could be indicated.
Note 9 (Page 41) There is only one individuality of whom Rudolf Steiner has
said that he was the friend (and pupil) of Christian Rosenkreutz.3 (The
Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz) That is the Buddha, whom he sent to Mars in
1604, the year in which The Chymical Wedding was written down. Supposing the
Buddha to have been among the guests, as we have surmised, would it not be
likeliest that it is he who is "the fine, quiet man" whom our traveller
henceforth refers to as his friend and companion?
Note 10 (Page 44) It has been suggested that the first Emperor may be thought
of as Solomon, a man rich in all wisdom, which he possessed as a gift from
above with no effort on his own part. He had a wealth of star-wisdom, but it
was not till much later that man began to explore the depths of his own soul,
and to strive to unite it with the cosmos. We know that the wisdom of the
Salomonic Age was repeated in the first millennium after Christ, and that the
spirit of Solomon lived and moved in the most outstanding figures of that
age.1 (The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric) But it was not until
towards the close of the first thousand years after Christ that men attained
any degree of self-consciousness. We remember that Astronomica, as taught in
later centuries, revealed how through a knowledge of the planets the pupils
could learn the secrets of the soul, and through an apprehension of the zodiac
the secrets of the ego. This knowledge Solomon could not attain in earlier
days. May it not be that for this reason he cannot sustain the seventh
weight? Yet, having such riches of cosmic wisdom, the failure would be very
bitter to him. If this is a true reading of the story, it is easy to
understand that Christian Rosenkreutz might take the opportunity of a gesture
towards healing the age-long breach between the two streams here represented.
Unhappily, we see that the Emperor does not respond to this overture of
It has been surmised that the only Emperor to pass the test, described as "a
short man with a curly brown beared" might be Zarathustra, pictured as he may
well have appeared as Zarathos, in Babylon, in the sixth century B.C. It will
not seem so surprising that this wisest of men does not far surpass the other
guests if we remember that already as Zarathos his teaching was a mere shadow
of Zarathustra's radiant wisdom because of the density of the body then
available - a handicap which had grown even more serious by the time of the
Note 11 (Page 45) Another possible confirmation of the conjucture concerning
the Buddha (described by Dr. Steiner as the friend and pupil of Christian
Rosenkreutz) is the fact that it is the page of the latter - his initiative -
who leads both in their exploration of the Castle.
Note 12 (Page 46) Fully to understand this experience we must recall a
further incident in the Temple Legend.1 (The Reappearance of Christ in the
Hiram wanted to mingle the seven metals in a Brazen Sea as the climax of his
achievement in the construction of the Temple. Some jealous apprentices
spoilt his work by pouring water in a wrong way into the molten metal. Hiram,
in despair, heard the voice of his ancestor, Tubal-Cain, telling him to plunge
fearlessly into the sea of molten metal, through which he would come to the
centre of the earth and there learn the secret of rightly uniting fire and
water, that is, the secret of rightly uniting water with the seven molten
This is the innermost secret of the Rosicrucians: how to mingle the fire of
enthusiasm with the water of calm wisdom. It is the uniting of the Cain and
Abel streams, the Hiram and Solomon streams, which will only gradually emerge
into the reality of the physical world. It is brought about by the activity
of the stars within the earth, portrayed in the seven metals of the Brazen
Sea. It is the contemplation of this planetary activity while they are
sitting at the centre of the great globe that so deeply absorbs the two
Ntoe 13 (Page 51) For further understanding of the principle of metamorphosis
see Goethe's Metamorphosis of Plants or the explanation of Goethe's work in
Man or Matter by Ernst Lehrs.
Note 14 (Page 57) The reader is referred back to Note 8, in which the
spiritual Council of the fourth century is mentioned. The crucial event now
to be described is the first unfolding of the plan then decided upon. We may
therefore form a hypothesis that the "Old Warden" is none other than Manes.
He is active behind the scenes until the last process is reached and then is
seen only by the chosen four, who are allowed to collaborate with him in the
highest and most occult process in the eighth storey.
The creation of the resurrection body takes place in the Tower of Olympus, the
region of Jupiter. On the planet Jupiter a colony of advanced spiritual
beings is working at the preparation of the future Jupiter condition of the
earth. The stream of Christian Rosenkreutz cooperates with them in this
preparation, of which the alchemical processes taking place in the Tower of
Olympus are in a certain sense a part. Dr. Steiner tells us that these
Spirits of Jupiter were specially observed in that fourth century Council,
when Scythianos, Zarathustra and Buddha, under the guidance of Manes, met to
investigate the forces which must be developed for the evolution of humanity
from a starting point connected with the Jupiter forces - that is, to develop
Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition through the senses and the sense
world.1 (Mission of Folk Souls)
Note 15 (Page 57) In the Portal of Initiation, Felix Balde, the Nature
mystic, comes to the Temple of Hidden Wisdom with this message:
"A power which speaks from the very depths of earth
Unto my spirit, hath commanded me
To come unto this consecreted place;
Since it desires to speak to you through me
Of all its bitter sorrow and its need."
Note 16 (Page 59) It is possible that the contents of the casket delivered
over to the care of Cupid, which cannot then be revealed, are concerned with
the procreation of the future, when Venus will awake and appear in her real
Concerning this secret, Rudolf Steiner says that the generative process and
all that stands in connexion with it will in the future pass over to another
organ. The organ that is already preparing to be the future organ of
generation is the human larynx. Later on, not only will the word be spoken
forth by the larynx, but man will pour forth his forces into the word in such
a way that he will "speak forth" a new human being, his own likeness. This in
the future will be the birth of a new man - that he is spoken forth by
another.2 (The Theosophy of the Rosicrucians)
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