A Compendium of the Universal Unity
Presented at Cannonbury Masonic Research Center by Charles “Chic” Cicero on 15 Nov 2006
In 1614, a mysterious document entitled the Fama Fraternitatis appeared in the German town of Kassel, and ignited a firestorm of interest all over Europe. This document described a fantastic tale of a secret brotherhood of adepts who called themselves Rosicrucians and their enigmatic founder, Christian Rosencreutz, or C.R.C. The Fama announced the existence of a secret Fraternity of the Rose Cross, and described the life and teachings of Christian Rosencreutz. It went on to describe the vault in which C.R.C. and much of the Rosicrucian’s secret knowledge were buried. The document finally invites all like-minded individuals to contact the Brotherhood and share in its alchemical wisdom and spiritual wealth.
The climax of the story centers on the rediscovery of C.R.C.’s tomb, buried in a concealed, underground vault of seven sides. Engraved upon a circular altar over the tomb were the words (in Latin): “Unto the Glory of the Rose Cross I have constructed this Tomb for myself as a Compendium of the Universal Unity.”
This lecture will explore the symbolic structure and spiritual implication of the Rosicrucian Vault hinted at in the Fama and explored in the later teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the R.R. et A.C. The implications of this Vault are many—it is an emblematic tomb of death and spiritual resurrection, as well as an initiation chamber and place of meditation. However, its primary significance is that of the “mystical center” or “inner temple” of man. This is an internal, God-centered reality which is inherent in the symbolism of C.R.C.’s “Compendium of the Universal Unity.”
Publication of the Fama caused a commotion. Traditionalists condemned the shadowy Rosicrucian brotherhood. Skeptics doubted its existence. Hermeticists embraced it. And several people tried to find and join the enigmatic fraternity. Printing presses all over Europe were kept busy publishing books and other documents on the subject. Within a couple of years two other Rosicrucian manifestos appeared: The Confessio and the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. The Confessio offered a few more details concerning the membership of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, while the Chemical Wedding was an alchemical fable filled with symbolism and allegory.
Some of the theories concerning the origin and motives behind the publication of the Rosicrucian Manifestos are worth mentioning. In her book on The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Frances Yates describes how the Manifestos may have been part of a planned propaganda campaign to promote a Lutheran-Hermetic movement to support the reign of Frederick the 5th, King of Bohemia in opposition to the Catholic House of Habsburg.
The manifestos were probably written by a group of college students, who attended the University of Tubingen and were members of a circle of Christian Hermeticists. Among them were Tobias Hess, a student of Paracelsus, and Johann Valentin Andreae, who became a Lutheran minister and later admitted to writing the Chemical Wedding as a joke.
Whatever the origins of Manifesto might have been—whether spiritual, political, or even mythological—their influence on the Western Esoteric Tradition was certainly no joke. As a whole the three Rosicrucian Manifestos described the beginning of a new spiritual age—an age structured around Lutheran idealism, social reform, alchemical teachings, astrological symbolism, Hermetic magic, and Christian mysticism.
They conveyed a sense of wonder at the hidden mechanics of the universe. They also harkened back to an earlier time of archaic wisdom, early science, and the secret mystery cults of the ancient world, where spiritual knowledge was only given to a select group of initiates. For many, the three Manifestos seemed to awaken a spiritual longing for esoteric knowledge. But the essential story in the Rosicrucian trilogy is contained in the Fama—the discovery of the hidden burial chamber of C.R.C.—a secret room of seven sides which held the secrets of the Brotherhood and conveyed the essence of Christian Rosencreutz’s “Compendium of the Universal Unity.”
What does this mysterious description refer to? What is this strange hidden room that seems to lie at the heart of the Rosicrucian tradition? What is the knowledge it contains? And are hints of this knowledge given elsewhere in the Rosicrucian teachings? And where is the tomb of Christian Rosencreutz to be found? In this brief lecture I hope to provide a few answers to these questions and further food for thought.
The Fama tells us that when the Rosicrucian Brotherhood rediscovered the tomb of their founder, their appeared to their sight a vault of seven sides. In the center was a circular altar engraved with figures and words, which was set over the sarcophagus of Christian Rosencreutz wherein the uncorrupted body lay. Triangles were inscribed within the ceiling and the floor. The room was illuminated by a “second sun” while the floor contained the names of the “inferior Governors” or infernal spirits. Each of the seven walls of CRC’s tomb was divided into ten squares which in turn were inscribed with several figures and sentences. Each wall also had a door for a chest which contained “diverse things” including books, parchments, looking glasses, bells, burning lamps, songs, and the Minutum Mundum or “small Universe.” In other words, what the vault contained was the whole of the Rosicrucian secrets and mysteries. But why were all these “diverse things” described as a summary of the “Universal Unity”?
The Rosicrucian texts often describe the idea of the “Universal Unity.” “Omnia ab Uno,” (All from One) is one of the sayings of the Rosicrucians. It expresses the idea that God is One—an undividable Whole—and that everything in the cosmos has evolved from this One Eternal Source. The various activities of Life, which we see in the universe around us, are simply the various forms of the manifestations of God. This Creative Power of God, or the substance of Light and Life, is sometimes called the Logos, the Word, or Christ.
Here we see an 18th- century alchemical engraving showing the “Compass of the Wise” as well as the seven-pillared House of Wisdom, complete with the seven planets, the four elements, and various Masonic and alchemical symbols. As the Universal Unity manifested itself into the cosmos, it assumed various forms, qualities, and functions. Therefore it appears to the outside observer as a multiple variety of unrelated objects, forms, energies, or substances. It often appears as a series of dualities. And yet to Rosicrucians, alchemists, and mystics, all these forms and powers are essentially One Unified Whole.
The various astrological and qabalistic words and images used by alchemists and Rosicrucians—as well as the angels, archangels, elements, planets, zodiacal signs, and spirits cited by magicians— are not meant to describe powers and qualities that are fundamentally different from each other.
They are simply different aspects of the One Universal Principle, just as the different Hebrew God-names used to describe the ten Sephiroth on the Tree of Life are not different Gods, but different aspects or qualities of the One God—such as God’s Love, God’s Mercy, God’s Wisdom, and so forth. When all is said and done, one of the Rosicrucian maxim can be summed up in the motto Omnia ab Uno, “All from One.”
Nearly three hundred years after the Manifestos were written, an esoteric fraternity known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn took on the task of recreating and expanding upon the imagery of the Rosicrucian Vault in a dramatic way. Under the guidance of MacGregor Mathers, the Vault of the Adepti became the initiation chamber of the Golden Dawn’s Second or Inner Order. The Adeptus Minor Ceremony is largely centered around the story of the discovery of the tomb of Christian Rosenkreutz. In this ritual, MacGregor Mathers echoed this concept of the “Universal Unity” as it applied to the seven walls of the Vault of the Adepti, which was based upon the description of CRC’s tomb. One square on each wall of Mather’s Vault was white, “…representing the changeless Essence of the Divine Spirit, thus developing all from the One, through the Many under the government of One.”
This is in keeping with one of the principle teachings of the Golden Dawn, which we have described as “ultimately monotheistic, although it conceives of the Divine Unity or ultimate Divinity as emanating itself through a multitude of forms, aspects, characteristics and manifestations. […] Thus, although the system may appear to be outwardly polytheistic, all deities are thought to be the various faces and rich expressions of the ultimate Divine Unity. Although the cosmos appears to be diverse, at its most fundamental level, All is One.”
Author Franz Hartman described the Universal Unity this way: “…the four sides of a pyramid originate in 1 point and end in 1, each side appearing to have a distinct individuality of its own. The higher we rise toward the summit, the more does this differentiation disappear, and the more does the Unity of all things and their identity with each other become apparent, until; all difference is again absolved in the ultimate One. He who knows the One knows All; he who believes to know many things knows nothing. The One is the starting point for all occult science”
Reaching the top of a pyramid has often been compared to climbing to the summit of a mountain, which is a common metaphor for achieving spiritual enlightenment. In mythology, the mountain is often used as a symbol of the center of the earth. The “peak of the cosmic mountain is not only the highest point on earth, it is also the earth’s navel, the point where creation had its beginning.” This mystic sense of the mountain,” writes J. E. Cirlot, “also comes from the fact that it is the point of contact between heaven and earth, or the center through which the world-axis passes.”
Alchemists often used the image of the mountain for the completion of the Great Work. In this 17th century engraving we see the Mystic Mountain of Initiation. Here we see a blindfolded alchemist groping his way to find the path up the Mountain. He is blindfolded because the wisdom he is looking for, lies within.
There are seven steps which lead up the mountain. On them are written the names of seven alchemical processes which correspond to the seven planets, symbolized by the seven deities standing on the mountain. Just as in the tomb of CRC, the planetary number, seven, has a special importance. The mountain itself is circled by the wheel of the Zodiacal Signs, and symbols of substances which are used in alchemy. As stated earlier, these various images, ideas, figures and substances are not meant to describe powers and materials that are fundamentally different from each other. They are simply different aspects of the One Universal Principle. They are the Universal Unity in all of its manifestations.
At the center of the mountain is a chamber or room—the temple of the Sun and the Moon whose union results in the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, which is a symbol for true spiritual attainment. Could this be an early representation of the “diverse things” and ideas contained in the Tomb of CRC?
The Mountain of the Caverns
Here we see an illustration of what appears to be the mouth of a cave, with trees growing above it, leading underground to the Qabalistic source of Light and “the eternal center of Life.” It shows the lovers of Divine wisdom rising seven steps up the mystic ladder. The gate contains 7 pieces of advice on dealing with the celestial powers.
The symbolism of the mountain and the cavern played an important role in the Rosicrucian teachings of the Golden Dawn. In the Adeptus Minor Ritual it states that the tomb of Christian Rosencreutz “is symbolically situated in the center of the Earth, in the Mountain of the Caverns, the Mystic Mountain of Abiegnus.” This is the mythical mountain that is both heavenly and subterranean. Mt. Abiegnus symbolizes the spiritual journey of the Initiate—who must scale its heights and also find the spiritual treasure deep within the mountain. In Latin, Mons Abiegnus means “fir-tree covered mountain.” However, the Golden Dawn gave the name Abiegnus a much more elaborate meaning involving a complex word-play of Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. In the Adeptus Minor Ritual it states: “The meaning of this title of Abiegnus — Abi-Agnus, Lamb of the Father. It is by metathesis Abi-Genos, Born of the Father. Bia-Genos, Strength of our race. And the four words make the sentence: ABIEGNUS ABIAGNUS ABI-GENOS BIA-GENOS. ‘Mountain of the Lamb of the Father, and the Strength of our Race.’ I. A. O. YEHESHUA. Such are the words.”
Yeheshuah is the divine name of Jesus associated with the Christian Qabalah—it is the divine name of the God of the Old Testament, YHVH, with the Hebrew letter Shin, signifying spirit, and transforming the Tetragrammaton or “four-lettered name” of God, into the Pentagramaton, or “five-lettered name” of the Redeemer. In the Golden Dawn system I.A.O. is a reference to the cycle of life, death, and resurrection from death.
The Tomb, the Womb, the Athanor, and the Bridal Chamber
The Fama describes the Rosicrucian Vault as the Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz. On one level, the story of the life of CRC is symbolic of the life of Christ. But unlike Christ, CRC is not resurrected, although his body is perfectly preserved. His tomb is a tomb of Death.
And yet the opening of CRC’s tomb announces the rebirth of the mysterious Rosicrucian Brotherhood as portrayed in the Fama. Therefore the Vault is a symbol of death and spiritual resurrection.
The science of alchemy has long been thought of as the domain of the Rosicrucians. To readers of the Fama, CRC’s uncorrupted body hinted at alchemical secrets that the mysterious Rosicrucians may have been used to preserve his remains. Whether this was meant to tease the imagination of readers is unclear. What is clear is that the idea of death and resurrection is inherent to the practice and the literature of alchemy.
Alchemy is an ancient science that is concerned with purification and transformation. Spiritual, alchemy is concerned with the transformation of the human soul from a state of baseness to one of spiritual enlightenment. In spiritual terms, Alchemy is symbolic of a conversion from the heavy, leaden, earth-bound consciousness to the refined gold of the divinely-inspired being.
The alchemical process is said to take place in three primary stages: separation, purification and cohobation (or recombination). This is an internal process in which the various parts of the base material being transformed are analyzed and separated. This is often referred to in alchemical literature as a form of death or dismemberment and it is often symbolized in alchemy by images of a black crow, or a dragon. In alchemy the separated portions are then cleansed or purified. Finally, they are recombined into a new, more purified whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This part of the alchemical process is often symbolized by the concept of rebirth or resurrection from death.
The Vault of the Fama is symbolically an Athanor or alchemical oven wherein the first matter—in this case, the body of CRC and the secrets that were buried with him—are transformed into the resurrected Rosicrucian Brotherhood whose purpose is to raise the spiritual consciousness of humanity. On one level this can be seen as the Fraternity’s Greatest Work of alchemy, to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone (which is a metaphor for spiritual attainment) with which the “General Transformation of the Whole World” may be accomplished.
In the Adeptus Minor Ceremony of the Golden Dawn, the officer known as the Chief Adept represents an Initiate who has undergone this alchemical process of self-transmutation and spiritual evolution. The Chief Adept, representing Christian Rosencreutz at one point in the ritual, tells the Aspirant:
“Buried with that Light in a mystical death, rising again in a mystical resurrection, cleansed and purified through Him our Master, O Brother of Cross and the Rose. Like Him, O Adepts of all ages, have ye toiled. Like Him have ye suffered tribulation. Poverty, torture and death have ye passed through. They have been but the purification of the Gold. In the alembic of thine heart, through the athanor of affliction, seek thou the true stone of the Wise.”
In the Adeptus Minor Ceremony of the Golden Dawn the tomb of Christian Rosencreutz has another name: “This place was entitled by our still more ancient Fratres and Sorores, the Tomb of Osiris Onnophris, the Justified One.”
Osiris was the Egyptian god of the dead and the god of resurrection. Legend has it that Osiris was killed by the evil god Set who entombed the body in a chest and cast it into a river. The chest containing the body was eventually discovered by the goddess Isis, but Set found it and disremembered the body into fourteen pieces which he scattered. Isis patiently searched for the remnants and found them. She re-assembled the body, except for the phallus. Aided by the gods Thoth, Anubis, and Horus, Isis was able to restore the dead Osiris back to life.
Here we see a 17th century alchemical engraving of Isis collecting the scattering pieces of the corpse. In the foreground Osiris, also known as the King, is emerging whole (or fixed) from a coffin. Death, dismemberment, and resurrection are re-occurring themes in alchemical and Rosicrucian texts. As a whole, the story of Christian Rosencreutz is symbolic to the story of Jesus Christ. So it is no surprise that the magicians of the Golden Dawn saw a common theme of death and resurrection connecting the figures of Osiris and Christ. In the Adeptus Minor ceremony of the Golden Dawn, the sarcophagus of Christian Rosencreutz from the Fama, and the coffin of Osiris from Egyptian legend, and the tomb of Jesus Christ from the New Testament, all became identified with the Pastos of CRC, from which the Chief Adept of the ritual symbolically rises from the dead, infused with new spiritual life.
In the story of the resurrection of Osiris, the Goddess Isis plays an important role. In this respect, the tomb of CRC, a tomb of Death, was also a womb of rebirth into a newer more exalted life. In the Golden Dawn’s Vault of the Adepti, this was symbolized by the door of the Vault being located on the Wall assigned to the planet Venus. Only through the door of Venus was entry into and out of the tomb possible.
Venus, the Goddess of Love has always been an important figure in Rosicrucian symbolism. In the story of the Chemical Wedding, Christian Rosencreutz encounters the Unveiled Lady Venus in her own vault. CRC describes the Light of the Vault of Venus as “the most precious thing that nature ever created.”
Here the vault or sepulcher is also a symbol of the wedding chamber, and CRC, like Christ, is the bridegroom. The idea here is that of spiritual marriage, wherein two become One.
Of all the planets, the symbol of the planet Venus is the only one said to embrace all Ten Sephiroth on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. In the Golden Dawn system Venus is attributed to the Hebrew letter Daleth, which means “Door” indicating that Venus or the Power of Love is the door of initiation into the Higher Mysteries. In the Second Order of the Golden Dawn this is also symbolized by an implement carried by the three main Officers—the Crux Ansata or Ankh, the Egyptian symbol of Life—said to be “a form of the Rose and the Cross” which is the Key that opens the Tomb. It is also the planetary symbol of Venus.
The Rose is the flower sacred to the Goddess Venus—and in Christian times the Rose became the flower of the Virgin Mary, who herself became the Rosa Mystica. The processions honoring the Mother of God walked on rose petals, just as the processions carrying the images of the pagan deities had done. Christian scholars derived the origin of the rose from the drops of Christ’s blood falling upon a thornbush. The very structure of the Rose, an outer layer of petals which conceal a secret inner core, is emblematic of the eternal mystery of life. Thus it became a symbol of mystery and secrecy. As one Persian poet wrote: “Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose.”
And what does Love have to do with “the Compendium of the Universal Unity”? As one author put it: “Spiritual Love is an all-penetrating spiritual power, uniting the high elements of Humanity into one inseparable whole. It is not led by external sensual attractions. It is the power by which man recognizes the unity of the All, and the product of that knowledge which springs into existence, when man recognizes the identity of his own spirit with the spirit of every other being.”
A Modern Day Vault
It is likely that some of the Vaults from the early days of the Golden Dawn were painted on large sheets of canvas, intended to be more or less portable. Moina Mathers was responsible for painting the elaborate designs of the Vault at Isis-Urania in London and possibly another at Ahathoor in Paris. Moina’s preferred technique was a combination of oil paint and collage on canvas. It is possible that the walls of some Vaults were done in this manner.
When my wife and I decided to build a Golden Dawn Temple in the state of Georgia in 1977, it was decided that a sturdier Vault was called for.
This involved the construction of a room out of wood and plaster, not only ensuring that the angles of the heptagon would be right, but also that the room would be a virtual soundproof chamber—blocking out all outside noises while at the same time enhancing all spoken vibrations. Israel Regardie consecrated our Neophyte Hall and our Vault on Corpus Christi, June 26, 1982 and initiated two people into the grade of Adeptus Minor. The old house containing the Vault was altered to ensure that its inner chamber could not be discovered by accident. The parlor was completely sealed off from the rest of the house, as if the room never existed. Entrance to the chamber was gained only through a small door cut into the back wall of a closet, which led to the antechamber or portal of the Vault.
On the door to this closet was a reproduction of a painting that I had owned for several years. It was a painting by Rembrandt entitled “A Man in Armour.” I hung it on the closet door because I thought it was a nice painting. Later I found out that this painting was said to represent none other than Christian Rosenkruetz. So, unknown to us at the time, we had a painting of Christian Rosencruetz hanging on the secret entrance to our Vault of the Adepti. We all took this as a good sign.
The Vault of the Adepti
Under the genius of MacGregor Mathers, the brief description of CRC’s tomb from the Fama was transformed into an elaborate chamber for the initiation ceremonies of the Golden Dawn’s Inner Order. It is explained to the Aspirant in the Adeptus Minor Ritual as follows:
“Upon more closely examining the Door of the Tomb, you will perceive, even as Frater N.N. and those with him did perceive, that beneath the CXX in the inscription were placed the characters IX thus:
Post CXX Annos Patebo
“…being equivalent to Post Annos Lux Crucis Patebo—At the end of 120 years, I, the Light of the Cross, will disclose myself. For the letters forming LVX are made from the dismembered and conjoined angles of the Cross; and 120 is the product of the numbers from 1 to 5, multiplied in regular progression, which number five is symbolized in the Cross with four extremities and one center point. On the following morning, Frater N. N. and his companions forced open the door and there appeared to their sight a Tomb of Seven Sides and Seven Corners. Every side was five feet broad, and eight feet high, even as the same is faithfully represented before you.
“Although in the Tomb the Sun does not shine, it is lit by the symbolic Rose of our Order in the center of the first heptagonal ceiling. In the midst of the Tomb stands a circular Altar with these devices and descriptions on it:
Hoc Universal Compendium Unius Mihi Sepulchrum Feci
“Unto the Glory of the Rose Cross I have constructed this Tomb for myself as a Compendium of the Universal Unity. With the next circle is written:
Yeheshua Mihi Omnia— Yeheshua is all things to me.
“In the center are four figures of the Kerubim enclosed within circles surrounded by the following four inscriptions and each distinguished by one of the following four inscriptions and each distinguished by one of the letters of the Tetragrammaton:
Yod—Lion—Nequaquam Vacuum—Nowhere a Void.
Heh—Eagle—Libertas Evangelii—Liberty of the Gospel.
Vau—Man—Dei Intacta Gloria—Unsullied Glory of God.
Heh (final)—Ox—Legis Jugum—Yoke of the Law.
“And in the midst of all is Shin, the Letter of the Spirit forming thus the Divine Name Yeheshuah, from the Tetragrammaton.”
The complex symbolism of the Vault is further described later in the same ritual:
“It is divided into three parts—the Ceiling which is white; the Heptagonal Walls of seven Rainbow colors, and the Floor whose prevailing hue is black; thus showing the powers of the Heptad between the Light and the Darkness. On the ceiling is a triangle enclosing a Rose of 22 petals, within a Heptangle reflected from the Seven Angles of the Wall. The Triangle represents the Three Supernal Sephiroth; the Heptagram, the Lower Seven; the Rose represents the 22 paths of the Serpent of Wisdom.
“The Floor has upon it also the Symbol of a Triangle enclosed within a Heptagram, bearing the titles of the Averse and Evil Sephiroth of the Qlippoth, the Great Red Dragon of Seven Heads, and the inverted and evil triangle. And thus in the tomb of the Adepti do we tread down the Evil Powers of the Red Dragon and so tread thou upon the evil powers of thy nature. For there is traced within the evil Triangle the rescuing Symbol of the Golden Cross united to the Red Rose of Seven times Seven Petals. As it is written ‘He descendeth into Hell.’ But the whiteness above shines the brighter for the Blackness which is beneath, and thus mayest thou comprehend that the evil helpeth forward the Good.”
“And between the Light and the Darkness vibrate the colors of the Rainbow, whose crossed and reflected rays under the Planetary Presidency are shewn forth in these Seven Walls. Remember that thou hast entered by the door of the planet Venus, whose symbol includes the whole Ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. Each Wall of the Tomb is said mystically to be in breadth five feet and in height eight feet, thus yielding forty squares, of which ten are marked and salient, representing the Ten Sephiroth in the form of the Tree of Life, acting throughout the Planet. The remaining squares represent the Kerubim and the Eternal Spirit, the Three Alchemic Principles, the Three Elements, the Seven Planets, and the Twelve Signs, all operating in and differentiating the rays of each planet. Note that in all, the Central square alone remains white and unchanged, representing the changeless Essence of the Divine Spirit, thus developing all from the One, through the many under the governance of One.
“The colors of the varying squares may be either represented by the color of the Planet and the color of the Force therein mixed together, or by these colors being placed in juxtaposition (not the preferred or most accurate method) or in any other convenient manner; but the foundation of them all is the Minutum Mundum diagram.”
Here is where I disagree with the original text of the Golden Dawn Rituals. I do NOT believe that juxtaposition is correct method for painting the vault squares. It only leads to confusion and makes skrying the squares harder. The Mystical title of the Adeptus Minor is Hodos Chamelionis “the Path of the Chameleon” or “the Path of Mixed Colors.” These colors have to be mixed together, not simply placed next to each other. For example on the Mars Wall (shown), the main color is red. All of the squares are painted according to the colors of the Minutum Mundum diagram.
But on the Mars Wall, a little bit of red will be mixed into all of the squares (except the spirit square). All of the symbols on the Mars Wall will be mixed with a little green, which is the flashing color of red. On the Moon Wall the colors mixed in would be blue and orange, on the Jupiter Wall they would be violet and yellow, and so forth.
Some of the Golden Dawn’s manuscripts described the Vault in greater detail. One of these was a paper called “The Book of the Tomb.” Another, called “The Symbolism of the Seven Sides” was written by Dr. William Wynn Westcott. In it, he explains how the vault walls were assigned to the seven planets:
“…these planetary sides are found to be in a special order, neither astronomical nor astrological. The common order of the succession of the planets is that defined by their relative distances from Earth; putting the Sun, however, in the Earth’s place in the series—thus: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon. Saturn is farthest from the Earth, and the Earth is between Mars and Venus. Beginning with Saturn in the case of the Walls of the Vault, the order is Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon. Here Mercury and Venus are transposed.”
Westcott goes on to explain that in the Vault, Mercury and Venus are switched in order:
“The planets are in the order of the Rainbow colors, and in colors because this Adeptus Minor grade is the special exponent of colors. You Adepti are in the Path of the Chamelion—Hodos Chamelionis. If now you take the planetary colors and affix the planet and arrange them in the order of the solar spectrum and then bend up the series into a ring and make the chain into a Heptagram, and turn the whole about until you get the two ends of the series to meet at the Eastern point, you will have this mysterium: Violet – Jupiter. Indigo – Saturn. Blue – Moon. Green – Venus. Yellow – Mercury. Orange – Sun. Red – Mars.”
In other words, the seven walls are colored in the natural progression of the rainbow or color wheel, bent so that both ends of the rainbow meet in the east where the infra-red and ultraviolet rays meet—colors which are invisible to the human eye and are symbolic of the spiritual world that exist beyond the human senses.
The Fama states that each wall of CRC’s Vault is 8 feet high and 5 feet wide—giving a total of 40 feet which are divided into 10 squares. Westcott asserts that this is a blind—that each wall should have a total of 40 squares, ten of which, “are marked and salient’—they are the Sephiroth.” In the Vault of the Adepti, these are the squares shown with borders around them.
In addition to the central square of Pure Spirit, the top row of squares is assigned to the four Kerubim—the Bull, the Man, the Eagle and Lion, which represent the letters of the name YHVH. They are colored as the forces of the four elements and they are always arranged in the Hebrew order of the letters (right to left).
Below the Kerubim are the Three Alchemical Principles: Mercury, Salt, and Suphur on the left, and the elements assigned to the Three Hebrew Mother Letters on the right. The squares of the Seven planets are placed next to their respective Sephirah. The squares of the 12 zodiacal signs are placed in the 5th, 7th, and 8th rows. The Kerubic or fixed signs are shown in the 5th row, in the order of the Tetragrammaton. The Cardinal Signs are in the 7th row in the order of the Equinoxes and Solstices, starting with Spring. The Mutable Sings are in the bottom row.
Uses of the Vault: Initiation, Meditation, and Astral Work
The Tomb of CRC as described in the Fama was most probably never a real building, but rather a symbolic construction—a western Mandala—intended to inspire those like-minded individuals who longed for the dawning of a new, more enlightened spiritual age. Modern day practitioners of various Rosicrucian groups can use the symbolism of the Tomb in meditation and visualization designed to elevate one’s spiritual awareness. An image of the Tomb as described in the Fama can be created in the imagination for Astral Workings similar to pathworkings in the Golden Dawn Tradition.
Of course the magicians of the Golden Dawn used their own unique version of Tomb—the Vault of the Adepti—as a physical chamber of initiation and a place for mediation, and astral work of all kinds. In a Paper from the Stella Matutina called “Concerning the Use of the Vault” Dr. Robert Felkin gave some suggestions for ritual work in the Vault. He writes:
“All who are eligible should use the Vault when it is in its place. When working it is well to be clothed in the White Robe and yellow sash, yellow slippers and yellow and white Nemyss on your head. Rose Cross should be upon the breast. Remember that within the Vault you never use a banishing Ritual. The chamber is highly charged by the Ceremonies which have been held there and the atmosphere thus created should not be disturbed.”
Felkin goes on to say that the Adept should enter the Vault, light a candle and some incense, place a chair in the east, and then stand in the east facing west and give the Sign of Osiris Risen: He goes to suggest:
“…breathe in a fourfold rhythm, regularly, and compose your mind. Then being calm and collected, make the full L V X Signs, repeating the accompanying words, and endeavor to bring down the Divine White Brilliance.
“Having done this, seat yourself, and give yourself up to meditation, tranquil and without fear. At first try to feel, it may be, or to see the play of the colors as they pass and re-pass from side to side and from square to square. Then await with serene expectation what message may be vouchsafed to you. When you are used to the place it is well to extinguish the light, for the darker the material atmosphere the better it is. Before leaving the Vault make the L. V. X. Signs, and quit it with arms crossed upon breast in the Sign of Osiris risen. […] The next seven visits should be devoted to a careful study of each side of the Vault in turn… Another time, contemplate the roof, and if you feel strong enough, the floor. […] Again you may draw aside the Altar, lift the lid of the Pastos and contemplate the figure you may perceive lying within it. For this you should have a small candle lit on the Altar. Or you may lie down in the Pastos yourself and meditate there.
Sometimes you may see the simulacrum of C. R. C. in the Pastos, or it may be your own Higher Self. In every case you should gain knowledge, power, and satisfaction.”
Today’s Golden Dawn Practitioners perform a number of esoteric workings in the Vault, including Rose Cross Rituals, Qabalistic and Planetary invocations, and talisman consecrations. A great deal of astral work—especially Skrying and other forms of clairvoyant methods—takes place there, including Skryings into the various squares on each of the seven walls, into the cross on the floor, the rose on the ceiling, the circular altar, and the diagrams on the Pastos. Every piece of symbolism within the Vault can be a tool for skrying work. But I must say, that simply meditating quietly while sitting in the Vault or lying within the Pastos is the best way to experience its energy and understand its essence as a symbol of the Mystic Center.
The Mystic Center
I would like to draw your attention to a rather humorous looking engraving from the 17th century, published in 1604. The drawing is full of Rosicrucian symbolism—including a rose and a cross on either side of the doorway, a winged bell-tower, a scholar inside the building who is studying a globe, sinners who are being saved from an underground dungeon, new stars appearing in the sky, and the wings of YHVH overshadowing all. It also shows the Temple of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood as a building on wheels—a kind of Rosicrucian mobile home.
For several years after the Manifestos were published, many people searched in vain for the original Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, assuming that a physical Vault existed somewhere in Germany. Even today, some wishful thinkers may hold out hope that the original Vault or some remnant of it may yet be found. Those who do, completely miss the point of the story.
All of the alchemical and Rosicrucian teachings we have examined so far, tell us plainly in symbolic language about where the true knowledge contained within the Vault can be found—It is on high upon a mountain peak and at the same time, it is at the mountain’s core. It is at the center of the earth. It is not contained in any building. It is mobile, so it can move from place to place. Where is this center? It is everywhere. But most importantly, the spiritual center of man—the true Stone of Philosophers, the Stone of the Wise—lies within us. For as one alchemical saying tells us: “Visit the Interior of the Earth and therein find the Secret Stone.”
Here we see the figure of Christ within the Rose. For centuries this mystical center of man, often symbolized by the Rosicrucian Vault has also been symbolized by the Rose. For initiates, the Rose is the living symbol of the revelation of the universal harmony of Being. It is the emblem of beauty, life, love, and goodness. It is the hieroglyphic sign of the accomplishment of the Great Work. And to unite the Rose to the Cross within us, is the goal proposed by initiation into the Highest mysteries of the Western Esoteric Tradition.”
As for the complex and diverse symbolism contained within the Vault, said to be “A Compendium of the Universal Unity,” I close with this verse from First Corinthians, chapter 12 verses 4 – 5: “There are different gifts but the same Spirit; There are different ministries but the same Lord; There are different works but the same God…”
The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie
The Essential Golden Dawn by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero
The Rosicrucian Enlightenment by Frances Yates
The Rosicrucians by Christopher McIntosh
The Fama and Confession of R:C: (Privately printed for the SRIA)
The Golden Game by Stanislas Klossoski De Rola
Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians of the 16th and 17th Centuries by “A Brother of the Fraternity”
The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy and Mysticism by Alexander Roob
Magic and the Western Mind by Gareth Knight
Cosmology or Universal Science by Franz Hartman
A Compendium on the Rosicrucian Vault edited by Adam McLean
A Dictionary of Symbols by J.E. Cirlot
Tergit, Gabriele. Flowers Through the Ages. London: Oswald Wolff, 1961.
 Regardie, The Golden Dawn.
 Cicero, The Essential Golden Dawn, page 30.
 Hartman, Cosmology or Universal Science.
 Art from Cabala, Mirror of Art and Nature, by Steffan Michelspacher.
 From Heinrich Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (“Ampitheater of Eternal Wisdom”), (1602).
 Regardie, The Golden Dawn.
 From Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (“Atalanta Fleeing”) 1618.
 Farid ud-din Attar, (12th century), quoted in Tergit, Flowers Through the Ages, page 46.
 Hartman, Cosmology or Universal Science.
 “To the Glory of the Rose Cross.”
 “To the Glory of the Rose Cross.”
 Regardie, The Golden Dawn.
 Regardie, The Golden Dawn.
 Here the earliest in the year is Gemini on the left of Mem, and passing left to Virgo, then around to the extreme right to Sagittarius, and then Pisces.
 Regardie, The Golden Dawn.
 From Theophilus Schweighard’s Speculum Sophicum Rhodo-Stauroticum (1618).
 From Basil Valentinus.