by Gary L. Stewart
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On November 24, 1632, a great philosopher was born in Holland of Spanish-Portuguese Jewish parents. Benedict Spinoza—an original thinker destined to become one of the world's greatest modern philosophers—has exercised such a profound impact upon modern thought that even today there is much debate upon his philosophy, and only within the last 100 years has his influence been thoroughly recognized for its effect on today's thinking. Spinoza was little understood in his time, consequently was labeled an atheist, and was excommunicated from his Jewish faith when he was just 24 years old. Only about a century ago were his writings seriously examined and his pantheism fully realized. It was then that the label "the God-intoxicated philosopher" was ascribed to him.
Spinoza is one of the few people who can be called a true individual. Yet, in accordance with his philosophical beliefs, he denied such individuality by recognizing that true individuality is the realization of universality. He lived his life accordingly and, as a result, he became misunderstood and eventually obscure until now. In the past, a newspaper article cast doubts about the contention that Spinoza was a Rosicrucian. The news writer proposed that Spinoza used the rose symbol on his personal seal not to identify himself as a Rosicrucian but, rather, to coincide with his name—the argument being that the name "Spinoza" is similar to the Latin espinosa which means "rose with sharp thorns" and consequently the rose he used "has no Rosicrucian significance." We must ask, then, what proof can support the contention that Benedict Spinoza was indeed a Rosicrucian? The question may seem simple enough; however, the answer is far more complex than is often realized. Therefore, it is necessary to divert our attention momentarily from the specific question at hand to a brief and general historical approach.
Traditionally, the Rosicrucian movement kept membership strictly confidential. There are many reasons for this, but the primary ones applicable here are political and religious. Rosicrucians have always taught, among other things, freedom of thought and religion. In the 17th Century persecution by the Church against any allegedly "heretical" person or group was intense. At that time the church viewed independent thinking as not only dangerous but also as undermining its very existence. Needless to say, it was necessary for such individuals to hide there affiliation or even deny it when accused of membership. As a group, the Rosicrucian brotherhood instructed its initiates in past ages to maintain a vow of secrecy and not to reveal even their own affiliation unless permitted to do so by a high official in the Order.
Another point to consider is that the history of the Rosicrucian tradition is divided into two categories: the chronological, where documentation is available; and the traditional, where Rosicrucian history is related by word of mouth. It should be noted, however, that much of the movement's traditional history can be documented through careful and painstaking research if one knows what to look for.
In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Rosicrucian authors used pseudonyms in connection with their work, and only members of the Rosicrucian brotherhood knew their true identities. Naturally, public references would have no such information at their disposal. As a result, unless an individual authored books explaining the Rosicrucian movement or its teachings, which many did in their own names or through pseudonyms known only to other members, there was no outward indication of any Rosicrucian affiliation. Given the times, just because persons did not publicly reveal their affiliation with the movement does not mean they were not privately affiliated with this secret organization. And, on the other hand, an individual's public claim of Rosicrucian affiliation does not necessarily prove membership. However, we can basically utilize five general points to verify membership:
Five Points Of Past Membership
1. Personal revelation by the individual.
2. Work signed by a Rosicrucian symbolic name.
3. Traditional accounts from the brotherhood itself referring to a personal affiliation.
4. Manuscripts and books containing terminology and symbols distinctly Rosicrucian.
5. Indirect reference through friends and associates.
The case of Spinoza's affiliation is quite interesting and the last three points are most readily applicable in this regard.
Rosicrucian Content in Published Works
Through published material it is known that Spinoza is maintained as having been a Rosicrucian. First, we can divide that claim into two parts, thus approaching the "proof' dualistically. The term "Rosicrucian" can be used generically as "Rosicrucian in thought" or, secondly, specifically, as being affiliated with a "Rosicrucian group or body." In the former writings most notably his Ethics are very much in agreement with Rosicrucian philosophy. In our terminology we would not only relegate Spinoza as a rationalist, which he indeed was, but also as a mystical pantheist which concurs so closely with the Rosicrucian teachings that it seems almost identical in many instances. There are many ideas in Spinoza's works which point in that direction.
For instance, we can briefly state that Spinoza's definition of God is likened to an omnipotent, impersonal essence infusing all existence and inseparable from that existence. This definition accounts for Spinoza's pantheism. Then, simply, Spinoza proceeds to explain how creation manifests by using a rather complex structure of explanation, as do the Rosicrucians.
We recognize that there is much academic philosophical debate concerning whether Spinoza could be classified as a true mystic, and we may refer to the many Spinoza Symposiums that are held annually in the Netherlands, and specifically to the one held in Leiden in 1973. And even though we are sympathetic with the "mystic" argument, the point is irrelevant to the argument of Spinoza's Rosicrucian connections. Along the same train of thought, academically and philosophically it could also be argued, based upon many tenets of Rosicrucian philosophy, whether or not Rosicrucians were really mystics. It all depends upon how one defines mysticism.
Publication Notations of Rosicrucian Terminology and Symbols
Point 4, referring to manuscripts and books containing Rosicrucian terminology and symbols, throws new light upon the verification of Spinoza's membership. Disregarding the "rose" argument mentioned earlier, let us refer to the title page of Spinoza's Theological and Political Treatise where we find the Latin phrase apud Henricum Kunraht. First of all, Heinrich Khunrath died in 1605, almost thirty years before Spinoza was born. Then, we may wonder, why does the name appear? If we look a little further we find that Heinrich Khunrath was a Rosicrucian and that his major work Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom contained seven Arcanes, or Rosicrucian Keys. We find on one of his plates the symbol of the Hieroglyphic Monad designed by the English Rosicrucian John Dee.
Azoth was considered to be a universal medicine or universal solvent sought in alchemy (similar to other alchemical idealized substance, alkahest, that like azoth was the aim, goal and vision of many alchemical works it was to achieve). Its symbol was the Caduceus and so the term, which being originally a term for an occult formula sought by alchemists much like the philosopher's stone, became a poetic word for the element mercury, the name being originally derived from Arabic al-zā'ūq "the mercury".
Azoth is the essential agent of transformation in alchemy. It is the name given by ancient alchemists to Mercury, the animating spirit hidden in all matter that makes transmutation possible. The spelling consists of the initial letter of the English, Greek and Hebrew alphabets followed by the final letters of the English alphabet (Z), the Greek alphabet (Omega) and the Hebrew alphabet (Tau). The word comes from the Arabic az zÄ'uq which means "Mercury." The word occurs in the writings of many early alchemists, such as Zosimos, Mary the Jewess, Olympiodorus, and Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber). The word Azoth is also related to the Ain Soph (ultimate substance) of the Kabbalah. In his masterwork The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Manley P. Hall explained this connection: "The universe is surrounded by the sphere of light or stars. Beyond that sphere is Schamayim, who is the Divine Fiery Water, the first outflow of the Word of God, the flaming river pouring from the presence of the eternal mind. Schamayim, who is this fiery Androgyne, divides. His Fire becomes Solar fire and his Water becomes Lunar water in our universe. Schamayim is the Universal Mercury or Azoth -- the measureless spirit of life. That original spiritual fiery water comes through Eden ("vapor" in Hebrew) and pours itself into the four main rivers of the four Elements. This comprises the River of Living Water -- the Azoth -- or fiery mercurial essence, that flows out from the throne of God and Lamb. In this Eden (vaporous essence or mist) is the first or spiritual Earth, the incomprehensible and intangible dust out of which God formed Adam Kadmon, the spiritual body of man, which must become fully revealed through time." In his book Transcendental Magic, Eliphas Levi wrote: "The Azoth or Universal Medicine is, for the soul, is supreme reason and absolute justice; for the mind, it is mathematical and practical truth; for the body it is the quintessence, which is a combination of gold and light. In the superior or spiritual world, it is the First Matter of the Great Work, the source of the enthusiasm and activity of the alchemist. In the intermediate or mental world, it is intelligence and industry. In the inferior or material world, it is physical labor. Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt, which, volatized and fixed alternately, compose the Azoth of the sages. Sulfur corresponds to the elementary form of Fire, Mercury to Air and Water, Salt to Earth." Known as the Universal Solvent, Universal Cure, and Elixir of Life (elixir vitae), the Azoth is said to embody all medicines, as well as the first principles of all other substances. The 16th century alchemist Paracelsus was said to have achieved the Azoth, and in portraits of him carrying his sword, the inscription "Azoth" can be seen on the pommel or handle. It is said he kept the infallible remedy handy in a concealed compartment in the handle in case he needed it in an emergency or if he was injured in a fight. He said it was the "counter poison" to any physical, mental, or spiritual threat. As the Universal Life Force, the Azoth is not only the animating energy (spiritus animatus) of the body but is also the inspiration and enthusiasm that moves the mind. In the cosmos and within each of us, the Azoth is the mysterious evolutionary force responsible for the relentless drive towards physical and spiritual perfection. Thus, the concept of the Azoth is analogous to the light of nature or mind of God. Because the Azoth contains the complete information of the whole universe, it is also used as another word for the Philosopher's Stone. One of the hints for the preparation of the Stone is Ignis et Azoth tibi sufficiunt ("Fire and Azoth are sufficient"). There are scores of esoteric drawings depicting the Azoth and how it is used in the Great Work of alchemy. Examples include the Azoth of the Philosophers of Basil Valentine and the Hieroglyphic Monad of Dr. John Dee.
The term was considered by occultist Aleister Crowley to represent a unity of beginning and ending by tying together the first and last letters of the alphabets of antiquity; A/Alpha/Alef (first character of Latin, Greek & Hebrew), Z (final character in Latin), O as Omega (final character in Greek) and Th as Tau (final character in Hebrew). In this way permeation and totality of beginning and end was symbolised to consider the supreme wholeness and thus the universal synthesis of opposites as a 'cancellation' (i.e. solvent) or cohesion (i.e. medicine), and in such a way is similar to the philosophical "absolute" of Hegel's dialectic. Crowley further made reference in his works referring to Azoth as "the fluid." calling it the universal solvent or universal medicine of the medieval alchemical philosophers, and him in the same place purporting these two seeming opposites as its lauded function to those said demographics, accentuating Crowley's personal psychology about the pervasive properties he ascribes it in his work and terminology/mythos as a unifier or unification of a certain extreme instance beholden to a contradict nature, so seen being unreconcilable a nature if otherwise sought apart of the philosophical ideal of Azoth. Whether it is thought to be a material quality or spiritual one.
An interesting fact is that in some languages, especially Slavic but some others as well (e.g. Italian, French), azoth is the name for nitrogen, but the etymology is different (in Italian it's "azoto" which comes from the Greek ἀ+ζωή "no life").
-- "Azoth," by Wikipedia
Heinrich Khunrath (ca. 1560–September 9, 1605), or Dr. Henricus Khunrath as he was also called, was a physician, hermetic philosopher, and alchemist. Frances Yates considered him to be a link between the philosophy of John Dee and Rosicrucianism.
Life and Education
Khunrath was born in Dresden, Germany, the son of the merchant Sebastian Kunrat and his wife Anna in the year 1560. He was the younger brother of the Leipzig physician Conrad Khunrath.In the winter of 1570, he may have enrolled at the University of Leipzig under the name of Henricus Conrad Lips. The uncertainties surrounding his life stem from his supposed use of multiple names. It is certain that in May 1588, he matriculated at the University of Basel, Switzerland, earning his Medicinæ Doctor degree on September 3, 1588, after a defense of twenty-eight doctoral theses.
Khunrath, a disciple of Paracelsus, practiced medicine in Dresden, Magdeburg, and Hamburg and may have held a professorial position in Leipzig. He traveled widely after 1588, including a stay at the Imperial court in Prague, home to the mystically inclined Habsburg emperor Rudolf II. During this court stay Khunrath met noted magician John Dee in 1589 while the latter was confined in prison. Dee probably became Khunrath's mentor in hermetic philosophy and he praised Dee in many of his later works. In September 1591, Khunrath was appointed court physician to Count Rosemberk in Trebona. He probably met Johann Thölde while at Trebona, one of the suggested authors of the "Basilius Valentinus" treatises on alchemy.
"The First Stage of the Great Work," better-known as the "Alchemist's Laboratory." The drawing of the laboratory is credited to architectural painter Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527-1604) and shows Khunrath in his laboratory.
Khunrath's brushes with John Dee and Thölde and Paracelsian beliefs led him to develop a Christianized natural magic, seeking to find the secret prima materia that would lead man into eternal wisdom. The Christianized view that Khunrath took was framed around his commitment to Lutheran theology. He also held that experience and observation were essential to practical alchemical research, as would a natural philosopher.
His most famous work on alchemy is the Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (Amphitheater of Eternal Wisdom), a work on the mystical aspects of that art, which contains the oft-seen engraving entitled "The First Stage of the Great Work," better-known as the "Alchemist's Laboratory." The book was first published at Hamburg in 1595,with four circular elaborate, hand-colored, engraved plates heightened with gold and silver which Khunrath designed and were engraved by Paullus van der Doort. The book was then made more widely available in an expanded edition with the addition of other plates published posthumously in Hanau in 1609. Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae is an alchemical classic, combining both Christianity and magic. In it, Khunrath showed himself to be an adept of spiritual alchemy and illustrated the many-staged and intricate path to spiritual perfection. Khunrath's work was important in Lutheran circles. John Warwick Montgomery has pointed out that Johann Arndt (1555–1621), who was the influential writer of Lutheran books of pietiesm and devotion, composed a commentary on Amphitheatrum. Some of the ideas in his works are Kabbalistic in nature and foreshadow Rosicrucianism.
Khunrath may have encountered some opposition to his alchemical work because most of his publications on alchemy were published widely after his death. He died in poverty in either Dresden or Leipzig on September 9, 1605. The tension between spirituality and experiment in Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae brought about its condemnation by the Sorbonne in 1625.
-- "Heinrich Khunrath," by Wikipedia
Dee's glyph, whose meaning he explained in Monas Hieroglyphica as representing (from top to bottom): the moon; the sun; the elements; and fire.
The Monas Hieroglyphica (or Hieroglyphic Monad) is an esoteric symbol invented and designed by John Dee, the Elizabethan Magus and Court Astrologer of Elizabeth I of England. It is also the title of the 1564 book in which Dee expounds the meaning of his symbol.
The Hieroglyphic embodies Dee's vision of the unity of the Cosmos and is a composite of various esoteric and astrological symbols. Dee wrote a commentary on it which serves as a primer of its mysteries. However, the obscurity of the commentary is such that it is believed that Dee used it as a sort of textbook for a more detailed explanation of the Hieroglyph which he would give in person. In the absence of any remaining detail of this explanation we may never know the full significance of the Glyph.
The existence of the Hieroglyph links Dee to Rosicrucianism but in what way remains obscure. On the title page of the Rosicrucian Manifesto The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, the Hieroglyph appears beside the text of the invitation to the Royal Wedding given to Rosenkreutz who narrates the work.On an evening before Easter-day, I sate at a table, and having in my humble prayer conversed with my Creator and considered many great mysteries (whereof the Father of Lights had shewn me not a few), and being now ready to prepare in my heart, together with my dear Paschal Lamb, a small, unleavened, undefiled cake, all on a sudden ariseth so horrible a tempest, that I imagined no other but that, through its mighty force, the bill whereon my little house was founded would fly all in pieces. But inasmuch as this, and the like, from the devil (who had done me many a spight) was no new thing to me, I took courage, and persisted in my meditation till somebody touched me on the back, whereupon I was so hugely terrified that I durst hardly look about me, yet I shewed myself as cheerful as humane frailty would permit. Now the same thing still twitching me several times by the coat, I glanced back and behold it was a fair and glorious lady, whose garments were all skye-colour, and curiously bespangled with golden stars. In her right hand she bare a trumpet of beaten gold, whereon a Name was ingraven which I could well read but am forbidden as yet to reveal. In her left hand she had a great bundle of letters in all languages, which she (as I afterwards understood) was to carry into all countries. She had also large and beautiful wings, full of eyes throughout, wherewith she could mount aloft, and flye swifter than any eagle. As soon as I turned about, she looked through her letters, and at length drew out a small one, which, with great reverence, she laid upon the table, and, without one word, departed from me. But in her mounting upward, she gave so mighty a blast on her gallant trumpet that the whole hill echoed thereof, and for a full quarter of an hour afterward I could hardly hear my own words.
In so unlooked for an adventure I was at a loss how to advise myself, and, therefore, fell upon my knees, and besought my Creator to permit nothing contrary to my eternal happiness to befall me, whereupon, with fear and trembling, I went to the letter, which was now so heavy as almost to outweigh gold. As I was diligently viewing it, I found a little Seal, whereupon was ingraven a curious Cross, with this inscription IN HOC SIGNO VINCES.
As soon as I espied this sign I was comforted, not being ignorant that it was little acceptable, and much less useful, to the devil. Whereupon I tenderly opened the letter, and within it, in an azure field, in golden letters, found the following verses written:--
"This day, this day, this, this
The Royal Wedding is.
Art thou thereto by birth inclined,
And unto joy of God design’d?
Then may’st thou to the mountain tend
Whereon three stately Temples stand,
And there see all from end to end.
Keep watch and ward,
Unless with diligence thou bathe,
The Wedding can't thee harmless save:
He'll damage have that here delays;
Let him beware too light that weighs."
Underneath stood Sponsus and Sponsa.
-- The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz
It is indeed at least possible that Dee showed the Glyph to Johannes Valentinus Andreae or even an associate during one of his visits to Central Europe. However, whether Andrae's claims of authoring the treatise hold any weight is still a hotly debated question among scholars.
Frances Yates notes that Dee's influence later "spread to Puritanism in the New World through John Winthrop, an alchemist and a follower of Dee; Winthrop used the 'monas' as his personal mark."
-- "Monas Hieroglyphica," by Wikipedia
THE SPIRITUAL TEACHER OF HIERONYMUS BOSCH
There is a possibility that the initials "I.A." which are mentioned in the Fama Fraternitatis, refer to a certain Jacob van Almaengien, a Jew. In the Fama, this individual is expressly described as a "non-German". If this is so, Jacob can be regarded as one of the first disciples of Christian Rosencreutz, and the person mentioned by Cuperinus in his curious history -- Die merkwuerdige Geschichte der Stadt von den Bosch, written at the time of Philip, Duke of Brabant and King of Castile/ Fraenger's attention was drawn to the original documents by Jan Mosmans Archivist of the church of St. Jan, at s'Hertogenbosch.
Cuperinus writes as follows:"In the year of Our Lord, 1496, on the thirteenth day of the month of December, the new Prince and Duke, Philip, came into the city of Bosch, where he was received with much merriment and rejoicing. There, on the fifteenth day of the same month, the people swore fealty to him and received him as Duke of Brabant, in the presence of his father Maximilian, the Emperor of Rome. The City made him a gift of two large and valuable oxen with silvered horns and two hogsheads of wine. When the ceremony had been concluded, the young Prince Philip rode to the church of St. Jan. There a certain Jew was baptized by the Dean, Master Ghysbert de Bie, in the presence of Duke Philip, of Lord Jan van Bergen, of Cornelius van Sevenbergen, and of other noble Lords who all stood as godparents and witnesses, and he was given the new name of Philip van Saint Jan. His name previously had been Jacob van Almaengien; but this Jew did not remain constant (to his new religion); he neglected his Christianity and again became a Jew."
Fraenger comments that at the same time, Jacob van Almaengien, alias Philip van St. Jan, became a member of the illustrious Brotherhood of Our Lady (Liebfrauen Bruderschaft). We find a record of "Master Philip van St. Jan, erstwhile a Jew", as a member, in their Year-book, 1496/7. The title of Master, Magister, indicated that he had received a University education. Yet, despite such an illustrious baptism, the proselyte had apparently the impudence regardless of the implied affront to the ruler of the country, the city, and the burghers, to return to his former religion, after only a few brief years: For those times he was a unique example of monstrous religious egocentricity.
It is probable, in our view, that Cuperinus took exception to Jacob's neglect of his religious (Church) duties. Cuperinus expresses his wrath at this in his last sentence. As Fraenger failed to recognise the abundant evidence of Rosicrucian ideas and concepts in the paintings of Bosch, the real reason for Cuperinus' condemnation of Jacob also escaped him, i.e., Jacob's apparent neglect of his church duties. Had he recognised the Rosicrucian content, and its connections, Fraenger would have realised the impossibility, at least at that time, in s'Hertogenbosch, of a convert from Judaism to Christianity being re-baptised into Judaism.
Bosch, the painter, was also a member of the illustrious Brotherhood of Our Lady, and belonged to the inner circle, where Rosicrucian ideas were familiar to the members. It is significant, therefore, that Jacob was admitted to this Order in the very hour of his baptism.
At this point, it is necessary once again to refer to the Fama Fraternitatis. We find in The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, A.D. 1459, and the Fama Fraternitatis that, literally "'I.A.' brought in a skilled painter, 'B'''. This painter, "B", could easily be Hieronymus Bosch; at all events, in the documents of Cuperinus, there is mention of a meeting of two men whose initials are "LA." and "B" respectively.
Recent radiological examinations of two different versions of The Temptations of St. Anthony further point to the identities of these two people. Both carry the signatures "I.A." and "B". (Photos alleged to be of both are reproduced. Strangely, an extended "M" is written beneath the signature in the first illustration. This may be intended to refer to the book, "M" (Liber Mundi) which is mentioned in the Fama. There are a large number of other indications pointing in this same direction, but research into this has not been fully completed.
The late Johan Brouwer gives an authoritative account, from his intimate knowledge of Spanish history about the year 1500, of his research into documents of that time. In Johanna de Waanzinnige he describes how a priest of Salamanca denigrated Philip the Fair and scornfully called him a "friend of Jews" (after the death of Johanna's husband). This priest was correct in his statement, as Philip gave his name to the Jew, Jacob van Almaengien (i.e. Germany) according to Cuperinus, and he was present at the baptism of Jews in Veere, Zeeland, in the year 1497. Most probably it is correct to suspect the support of the Emperor Maximilian, Philip's father, for all this, as Philip the Fair was still too young to be able fully to appreciate the value and meaning of Rosicrucian teaching. Maximilian had also kept Erasmus Grasser, the sculptor, in his service for a considerable time. He must have known exactly what was afoot and what the world philosophy was that stood behind it all.
-- "The Pictorial Language of Hieronymus Bosch," by Clement A. Wertheim Aymes
To the most excellent Majesty of the famous King Maximilian
-- "Monas Hieroglyphica (The Hieroglyphic Monad)," by Dr. John Dee
The positioning of a monument to Spinoza at his place of birth on the Zwanenburgwal in Amsterdam is a tribute to his philosophical views, the influence of which on Western thinking is invaluable.
The sculpture is a triad: a platform, an icosahedron, and a statue of the philosopher form an inseparable whole. The platform is playfully modeled after the laws of Newton, who, coming after Galileo and Keppler, described how the planets form an elliptical arc around the earth, like Spinoza wanted to encompass and describe the spiritual universe in his Ethics.
The bronze figure of the philosopher is wrapped in a cloak that bears symbols which refer to his ideas on tolerance, freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and which simultaneously form a link with today’s multicultural society (for Spinoza was also a son of immigrants). The cloak is decorated with sparrows, ring-necked parakeets and roses, lying on its folds in relief. The ring-necked parakeet, which a few years ago chose the Vondel Park as its biotope, has proved to be hardy: it has adapted to the climate, eats what is available and now circulates throughout the entire city. The sparrow, our most archetypical bird, is having a difficult time, however – not that the species is in danger of dying out, but its former ubiquitousness is no more. And finally, the rose. Engraved in Spinoza’s signet ring was a rose wreathed with the word CAUTE (caution). The rose, universal metaphor for beauty, also has thorns (‘spinoza’ literally means ‘thorn’).
The philosopher’s thinking is represented by an icosahedron, a mathematical globular form comprised of twenty identical triangular planes, twelve angular points, and thirty edges, made of polished granite: a reference to his profession of lens grinder.
The statue stands on an ovular platform of terrazzo. Its spiraling shape once again emphasizes the essence of things: after all, every plant and flower branches off in a regular spiral, as does our DNA. Carved into the side of the platform is the philosopher’s name and the citation The purpose of the state is freedom, a statement which makes Spinoza, who was born 376 years ago at this spot, forever contemporary.
-- Nicolas Dings
[T]he good angels, to us, Friend, assistants, who warns us faithfully...
-- Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae, by Heinrich Khunrath
That symbol also appeared next to the invitation to Christian Rosenkreuz in the third Rosicrucian Manifesto published in the 17th Century—the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz.
It is a distinct possibility that a chain of Rosicrucian influence was being passed on traditionally from person to person, showing a Rosicrucian link. If we translate Spinoza's apud Henricum Kunraht to "in the house of Heinrich Khunrath," perhaps Spinoza was revealing his Rosicrucian association in the roundabout manner used by many other Rosicrucians throughout history to reveal their association.
Perhaps the argument by itself is not conclusive. Intentional obscurity never is. But that coupled with the "rose" argument which could quite conceivably refer to a double meaning, along with Point 5, the indirect reference through friends could effectively argue against the claim that Spinoza was not a Rosicrucian.
2. Anulo assistentiae gratiae Diuinae admonitorio, uirtuosae uidelicet catholicaeque promissionis, ab ipso, in cuius ore non inuentus fuit dolus, datae, dicentis, Amen, amen dico uobis, si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit uobis, petite et accipietis: digito anulari decoratus.
[Google translate: Ring insurance admonitorio to divine grace, namely virtuous catholicaeque of promise, by him, in whose mouth was no guile was found, given to them, saying, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, will give you, ask and you shall receive: the finger with the RING-MAKER.]
-- Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae, by Heinrich Khunrath
Known Friends and Associates
We can learn much about a person by looking at his friends and associates. Even though Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish faith, and also avoided by much of the non-Jewish population of Holland, he still circulated in some rather influential circles. Were his associates Rosicrucian? Did his philosophical meetings have a Rosicrucian undercurrent? We know for a fact that Spinoza was in contact with, and impressed by, two Rosicrucians. First, there was Wilhelm Gottfried Leibnitz, whose affiliation with the Order is established by a published letter stating that he was at one time the secretary of a Rosicrucian Lodge. And secondly, there was Dr. Helvitius, whom Spinoza commented to in a letter to Jarig Jellis concerning Dr. Helvitius' alchemical transmutation. Spinoza allegedly observed one such transmutation. Also, we find that Spinoza's well-known friend, Jan de Witt, the Grand Pensionary of Holland, was tutored at an early age by Isaac Beekman, a known Rosicrucian. Could such influence have a lasting effect upon Jan de Witt as is often the case? And, if so, could that influence have been passed on to Spinoza?
Without actual written verification in Spinoza's own hand claiming Rosicrucian affiliation, it can be argued that he was not a Rosicrucian by claiming the above illustrations as mere suppositions. Perhaps, even any one of the above arguments by itself could be disregarded as inconsequential. However, all together, they will, at the very least, shed some doubt among those who deny Spinoza's Rosicrucian affiliation. Keeping in mind the necessary obscurity of 17th Century Rosicrucian members and even outright denials made out of deception in order to protect the movement, the "hints" left behind are one way of keeping historical records intact. Yet, it is often difficult for the uninitiated historian to be able to pick up on such "hints." This is obvious in many of the written histories that have been published recently and in the past concerning the Rosicrucians. And this also contributes to the difficulty in the identification of a personage as being a Rosicrucian.
Most of you have probably at one time or another, read an article or a book published outside of our Order on the subject of Rosicrucian history, and perhaps you have found certain points of disagreement. We can say that many such works are the result of well-meaning but incomplete research. Sometimes it is even difficult to gain an historical perspective regarding recent times, let alone several centuries in the past. For example, there was an article on the Rosicrucians which claimed that an Order was started in this century by "Dr. H. Spencer Clymer"! If it is that difficult to be accurate today, then imagine the difficulty in researching the past where we have access to far less factual material.
In conclusion, we can state with a reasonable amount of certainty, that Spinoza was a Rosicrucian, as his life and writings exemplify those characteristics which we should consider to be of the classic Rosicrucian movement. Various signs point to the validity of this argument, and we feel that the subtle "hints" we have described in this article can be relied upon to determine this mystic philosopher's relationship in regards to the Rosicrucian tradition.