Fraternitas Rosae Crucis

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Fraternitas Rosae Crucis

The Fraternitas Rosae Crucis is the oldest of the several presently existing Rosicrucian bodies. Founded by Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-75) in 1858, its first lodge opened in San Francisco in 1861. The fraternity had an unstable history throughout the nineteenth century, as Randolph moved around the country; on three occasions it closed for a period and reopened first in Boston (1871), then again in San Francisco (1874), and following Randolph's death in Philadelphia (1895).

According to Randolph's claim, he became the Supreme Hierarch of the Rosicrucian Fraternity in 1846, the same year he retired from the sea and settled in Philadelphia. However, it was not until 1861 that he organized the First Grand Lodge. As American Rosicrucianism developed, Randolph formulated his ideas in dialogue with Spiritualism. He championed the act of volition as a central element in occult development and decried the need of mediums to go into trance and lose control in order to obtain results. The mature mystical system formed the teachings given out to members of the fraternity. Randolph developed a process of occult transmutation, by which the base self was transformed into the finest spiritual gold. The teachings included a belief in reincarnation and the development of a healthy body through natural means. The inner circle of the fraternity, to whom its highest teachings were given, was called the Aeth Priesthood. Closely associated with the fraternity was the Church of Illumination.

Randolph died at a relatively young age in 1875. He was succeeded by Freeman B. Dowd, and he in turn by Edward H. Brown (1907), R. Swinburne Clymer (1922), and Emerson M. Clymer. The order was largely moribund during the last decades of the nineteenth century, but was revived primarily through the efforts of Swinburne Clymer, a natural physician and writer, who wrote numerous books and led the fight to legitimize the fraternity, whose place was challenged by newer groups such as the Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosae Crucis (AMORC) and the Rosicrucian Fellowship, both founded in the early twentieth century.

The fraternity was headquartered at a rural complex near Quakertown, Pennsylvania. It was headed by a Council of Three and the Hierarch of Eulis. Included in that complex were the Humanitarian Society and the Clymer Health Clinic, both of which continue Randolph's and Clymer's concern for naturalistic health services. Last known address: c/o Beverly Hall, Quakertown, PA 18951.


Clymer, R. Swinburne. The Age of Treason. Quakertown, Pa.: Humanitarian Society, 1959.

. The Rose Cross Order. Allentown, Pa.: Philosophical Publishing, 1916.

. The Rosicrucian Fraternity in America. 2 vols. Quaker-town, PA: Rosicrucian Foundation, 1935.

. The Rosy Cross: Its Teachings. Quakertown, Pa.: Beverly Hall, 1965.

Deveney, John Patrick. Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.