Andrae, Johann Valentin (1586-1654)

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Andrae, Johann Valentin (1586-1654)

Johann Valentin Andrae, the German Lutheran pastor who developed the legend of the Rosicrucian occult orders, came from a line of ministers that included a grandfather who had been among Martin Luther's original supporters. Andrae was born August 7, 1586, in Herrenburg, Württemberg. He attended Tübingen University, and after graduation he became chaplain at Stüttgart. In 1607, due to ill health, he returned to Tübingen, where he was introduced to mysticism as a member of the informal circle around Christoph Besold, a local devotee of the occult, especially the Kabala, the Jewish mystical system. During his last days in Tübingen he finished and anonymously published the Fama Fraternitatis, the first of his Rosicrucian publications. The following year he published the Confessio, soon to be followed by the Chemical Marriage. By this time he had moved to Vaihingen as the church's deacon.

Andrae's three volumes announced the existence of a secret fraternity founded by Christian Rosencreutz, a high occult initiate. The order had supposedly been founded a century earlier and was only now being made public. The documents further invited inquiries from interested readers but failed to give an address or location for the fraternity. Over the next decades, many would look in vain for the group. In 1619 Andrae published a short work, The Tower of Babel, in which he confessed his authorship and told his readers that the Rosicrucian order did not exist. He apparently derived the basic symbolism of the order from Martin Luther's coat of arms, which had a rose and a cross on it. However, by this time the original writings had spread far and wide, and many did not believe Andrae's confession.

Andrae essentially left his Rosicrucian ideas behind and moved to Stüttgart as court prelate to the king of Württemberg. He wrote prolifically (over a hundred books) and became a leader of the Fruit-Bringing Society, one of several German revivalist movements of the seventeenth century. He ended his career at Babenhausen, Bavaria, where he moved in 1650 to become the local abbot. He died on January 27, 1654, at Stüttgart.

Andrae's writings have become the source of intense controversy in the centuries since his death. Some came to believe that he wrote about the society as a hoax, while others just as firmly believed that he was exposing a real organization. Frustrated at their inability to locate the fraternity, people responded to various occultists who came forward as representatives of the Rosicrucians, a practice which has continued into the twentieth century. Rosicrucian orders have been founded in every century, and beginning with the founding of the Rosicrucian Fraternity in the mid-nineteenth century, no fewer than ten currently existing Rosicrucian groups have been founded. In 1968 an English edition of the Rosicrucian works of Andrae, edited by Paul M. Allen, made them generally available to the public again.


Allen, Paul M. A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology. Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1968.

McIntosh, Christopher. The Rose Cross Unveiled. Wellingborough, England: Aquarian Press, 1980.

Waite, A. E. The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. London: Rider, 1924.

Yates, Frances A. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.

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Andrae, Johann Valentin (1586-1654)

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