The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis (AMORC), also called Rosicrucian Order, is a philosophical and humanist worldwide fraternal organization. Members are known as students. The organization states it is devoted to "the study of the elusive mysteries of life and the universe". The organization is non-sectarian and it is open to both men and women of legal adult age (18 years old in most countries) regardless of their various religious persuasions.
The AMORC association was founded in 1915 in New York to support and organize the activities of a legendary Rose-Croix Order, which according to their tradition traces its origin to Ancient Egyptian mystery schools that they hold studied a wide variety of mystical subjects. The oral accounts they provide hold that these schools were founded during the joint reign of the Egyptian Pharaohs Tuthmosis III and Hatshepsut and included among their most esteemed pupils Pharaoh Akhenaten.
As the phrases "Rose-Croix" and "Rosicrucian" are in the public domain, there are a number of organizations that describe themselves as such. According to AMORC members and related publications, these organizations may or may not be related to a real Rosicrucian Order and most of them are not. AMORC claims to be an authentic modern manifestation of the ancient Order, keeping the teachings of their ancient Rose-Croix Order undiluted and the primordial tradition intact. Contemporary readers have been introduced once again to the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis and its principles in Dan Brown's latest novel The Lost Symbol.
The name AMORC is an abbreviation for the Latin title Antiquus Mysticusque Ordo Rosæ Crucis. The organization's traditional and authentic Latin name is Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosæ Rubeæ et Aureæ Crucis (AAORRAC), which translates in English to Ancient and Secret Order of the Red Rose and of the Golden Cross. H. Spencer Lewis, a Rosicrucian author, occultist, and mystic, founder of AMORC, wrote that "It must be noted that from the very start, and with the issuance of the first public manifesto, the correct name of the international Rosicrucian organization was used, namely, the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis. This is a slightly abbreviated form of the original Latin name, Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis, and the initials AMORC were immediately used as well as the true and original symbol of the Rosicrucian Order — the golden cross with but one red rose in the center."
The history of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC may be classified into two general categories. First, there is the traditional history, consisting of tales and legends passed down for centuries by word of mouth. Secondly, there is the chronological history, which consists of accounts arranged by specific date and verifiable fact.
Traditionally, the AMORC version of Rosicrucianism traces its origin to the mystery schools or secret schools of learning established in Egypt during the joint reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III and Hatshepsut, about 1500 B.C.E. They united the Priesthoods of Egypt into a single Order under the leadership of Hatshepsut's Vizier, Hapuseneb. Each Temple had its associated Per Ankh (House of Life) where the Mysteries were handed down. In uniting the Priesthoods, the Per Ankhu were also united. These schools were formed to probe into "the mysteries of life" — in other words, natural phenomena, and initiatic spirituality. Over centuries of time, these Mystery Schools gradually evolved into real centers of learning and from Egypt, they spread into Greece, and thence into Rome. During the Middle Ages they were concealed under various names due to the prevailing circumstances of the times.
AMORC also claims that Rosicrucianism is mentioned as far back as 1115 CE in a book of the collection of Brother Omnis Moriar in Germany. However, other Rosicrucians not associated with the AMORC claim that no such brother nor book ever existed and that the alleged name “Omnis Moriar” is a Latin phrase meaning “I shall completely die.” It is also felt by some Rosicrucians that the alleged name derived from the opening words of Horace in Ode 3.30 in which he writes: “Non Omnis Moriar” (“I shall not completely die”).
Chronologically, Rosicrucianism rose to considerable prominence in Europe during the Seventeenth Century following the publication and wide circulation of a small pamphlet, the Fama Fraternitatis.
AMORC maintains that the next Rosicrucian expedition came in the chartered vessel Sarah Maria during the early months of 1694 under the leadership of Grand Master Johannes Kelpius and they established a colony in what is now Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. They finally settled on the banks of the Wissahickon. "In that retired valley beside the flowing brook the secret rites and mysteries of the true Rosicrucian Philosophy flourished unmolested for years, until the state of affairs brought about by the American Revolution, together with pernicious Sunday legislation which also discriminated against the keepers of the scriptural Sabbath day, gradually caused the incoming generation to assimilate with the secular congregations." However, this belief is disputed by another Rosicrucian organization that also claims to be genuine Rosicrucians in America: the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross at one time headed by Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer. Johannes Kelpius of the Jacob Boehme Lodge in Germany led the German Pietists to America and these Rosicrucian immigrants and their descendants established a commune in 1732 at Ephrata, Pennsylvania known as the Ephrata Society under the leadership of Johann Conrad Beissel and Peter Miller (who at the behest of Congress translated the Declaration of Independence into seven languages); the buildings still exist today as part of a historical park known as Ephrata Cloisters. It is also a fact that the two rival organizations historically disputed their claims to Rosicrucian genuineness.
In 1776, the Rosicrucian- and Jesuit- influenced Illuminati headed by Weishaupt (not recognized in the 20th century as genuinely 'Rosicrucian' by AMORC Imperator H. Spencer Lewis) began a cycle of activity which coincided with the American Revolution and culminated with the French Revolution and the ascent to power of Napoleon Bonaparte, recognized by H. Spencer Lewis as associated with Rosicrucian work.
It is also this time that the Rosicrucian Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton uses as historical background for his novel Zanoni - an immortal Rosicrucian who is guillotined during the French Revolution.  In non-AMORC writings, it would not be until the 20th century, in 1950, that Samael Aun Weor would reveal his theories for the apparent contradiction of the reason for the Fall of Lucifer in his magnum opus The Perfect Matrimony. He would also opine publicly for the first time his ideas about the secret of the Great Arcanum, a plan which had been drawn by a group of initiates during the French Revolution to reveal the secret to the people at large, a secret which had presumably belonged to the aristocracy; initiates who included among others Robespierre, Danton and Marat (especially Marat) which led eventually to the celebrated prophetic supper of Cazotte.  In Eliphas Levi's own words, "...the Gordian Knot of the terrible drama of '93 is still concealed in the darkest sanctuary of the Secret Societies."
For about one hundred years after 1800 C.E. the Order experienced a great deal of difficulty in its activities. In 1848, Louis Blanc in his History of the French Revolution reported that in 1781, Cagliostro was initiated into the Illuminati at Frankfurt. Many veiled stories by Emile Zola regarding the Brotherhood appeared in France. After 1900 C.E., many prominent persons among whom were I. K. Funk, president of the Funk and Wagnalls Publishing Co., "Fra" Elbert Hubbard of the Roycrofters who became an uncle to L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology and the mystic writer Ella Wheeler Wilcox were all active in establishing the new cycle of activity of the Rosicrucian Order in America. H. Spencer Lewis became a "secret partner" of Big Business in America. According to railroad magnate Arthur Stillwell, no other man has exerted a greater influence as a secret partner in American free enterprise than Lewis. It should be mentioned as much as it is news worthy that Walt Disney was once a member of AMORC as was Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Jack Palance's daughter Holly Palance.
In 1909 Harvey Spencer Lewis visited France in search of Rosicrucians. He did contact one lineage of Rosicrucians, proved his integrity and knowledge in matters of philosophy and esotericism, and was duly initiated in Toulouse, France, and given the mandate to establish the Order in North America. After further qualification and preparation, the first official Manifesto was issued in the United States in 1915, announcing the establishment of Rosicrucian activity in America. Beside his many European connections, Dr. H.S. Lewis also had a notable association with Mrs. May Banks-Stacy, who is considered as the co-founder of AMORC, said to be one of the last successors to the original colony of Rosicrucians that settled in America during the late 17th century, and an initiate of the Rosicrucians of the East. By the end of the 1920s he was known for being acquainted with most of the then notables of the esoteric world, but oddly, he had no connections with nor knowledge of such major figures as Gerard Encausse and those associated with his work.
The early AMORC headquarters were located in New York City, San Francisco, and then Tampa. The headquarters moved to San Jose, California, in 1927. Harvey Spencer Lewis died in 1939 and in accordance with his wishes as stipulated in his will, he was succeeded in the Office of Imperator by his son Ralph Maxwell Lewis who had previously served as Supreme Secretary. Gary L. Stewart who previously served as Grand Master of the English Speaking jurisdiction and then Vice President of the Board of Directors was appointed to the Office of Imperator upon Lewis' death in 1987 in compliance with Lewis' wishes. Christian Bernard who had been the Grand Master of France and then succeeded Stewart to the position of Vice President of the Board was elected to the Office of Imperator in 1990 by the Board of Directors.
World War II had a devastating impact on the membership of many esoteric groups, which were outlawed under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. Leadership figures in particular were frequently arrested, persecuted, or assassinated by the Gestapo. Others died in concentration camps. AMORC, protected by virtue of being in the United States, underwent a dramatic period of growth during this time. After the war ended, AMORC was able to lend support to its battered sister organizations. Eventually many of these then came under the administration of AMORC's leadership in San Jose.
2009, the Centennial year of H. Spencer Lewis's initiation into the Rosicrucian Tradition in Toulouse, saw growth in membership in the English Grand Lodge for the Americas, and very active participation in Online activities including Facebook, Twitter, online Discussion groups, a social networking site, podcasts, and multimedia at Rosicrucian TV on YouTube, following the inspiration of H. Spencer Lewis. Rosicrucian Park in San Jose California received many improvements as well, including the completion of accessibility upgrades to the Museum, Planetarium and grounds, and the installation of sustainable native plant gardens.
This is a list of people who, according to AMORC, were Rosicrucians or associated with Rosicrucian Tradition and work.
Other streams of tradition and teaching come to AMORC from many different areas of the ancient world, including the ideas of the major philosophers, traditional healing techniques, health, intuition, and the psychic consciousness. According to its publication, Mastery of Life, some other topics include:
AMORC is a worldwide organization, established in the United States of America as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, with the specific and primary purpose of advancing the knowledge of its history, principles, and teachings for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes. It is financed mainly through fees paid by its members. Income is used by the organization to pay expenses, develop new programs, expand services, and carry out educational work.
The organizational headquarters for different jurisdictions of the AMORC are designated as "Grand Lodges." The English-speaking Grand Lodge for the Americas is headquartered in Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California. All Grand Lodges are governed by The Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC. The Supreme Grand Lodge meets annually, often in Lachute, Quebec, Canada (however, in August 2009 the Supreme Board met in Toulouse, France, in honor of the 100th Anniversary of H. Spencer Lewis's initiation there), and is responsible for the worldwide coordination of AMORC, the establishment of new administrations, and the appointment of jurisdictions to Grand Lodges, usually based on language. This body consists of the Imperator, Grand Masters, and related executive officers.
Local Groups of AMORC
On a local level, members of AMORC often form smaller affiliated groups organized as Lodges, Chapters, Pronaoi, or Atrium Groups. These various titles differ according to the members of each body in regular attendance. Participation in these groups is optional, and participants retain compulsory membership with their respective Grand Lodge. Many of these groups charge additional dues to participants to cover expenses such as rent and mailings. Most affiliated bodies of the AMORC periodically offer Open Meetings or Lectures to which the general public is invited and welcome.
Discussion Groups, an informal type of gathering for both members and the public, were formally introduced in 2009 in North America. They are authorized by AMORC, but are not Affiliated Bodies.
From 1915 to 1990, the leadership of AMORC was entrusted to the Office of Imperator. This Office had a dual function: that of Imperator who was solely responsible for all doctrine and ritual of the Order; and that of Corporate President who sat at the head of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors were responsible for determining all corporate matters related to the organization. When AMORC reorganized in April, 1990, the dual function of the Office was merged into one position, that of President of the worldwide AMORC organization. However, internally, the President was still referred to by the traditional title of Imperator. In addition to the Imperator, each Grand Lodge has a Grand Master. The title of "Master" does not connotate any type of authority intellectual or otherwise over other members of AMORC and is not intended to imply a master/slave relationship. The term "master" itself most likely derives from the Latin term magister, which is also in modern use to denote a graduate level degree in academia.
In 1990 there was a dispute over the leadership of the AMORC, which was then under the leadership of Imperator Gary L. Stewart. This move was prompted by allegations made by a few members of the Board of Directors of embezzlement on the part of Stewart. In April, 1990, a lawsuit was filed by the Board and, as a result of the allegations, Stewart was kept from returning to AMORC's properties by virtue of a Temporary Restraining Order until trial. The newly expanded Board of Directors voted that the Vice President of the Board of Directors, Christian Bernard, should assume Stewart's offices. An installation ritual was held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California. During the next three years there was little activity in the lawsuit and the case never went to trial. However, prompted by the Insurance Company of North America's Motion for Intervention on June 3, 1993 alleging insurance fraud against the new AMORC Board of Directors, AMORC sought to settle out of court and on August 10, 1993 dismissed their case against Stewart with prejudice. The dismissal was the final severing of the relationship between Stewart and AMORC.
The governance of AMORC is overseen by the Supreme Grand Lodge (the Imperator, Grand Masters and Administrators), with local (geographic and/or language based) Grand Lodges throughout the world.
After the schism within AMORC in 1990, Imperator Stewart founded the Confraternity of the Rose Cross and uses the original version of H. Spencer Lewis' monographs with addendums added by Stewart as well as additional monographs written by Stewart (as opposed to the monographs currently used by AMORC, which were initially rewritten in large parts under Bernard's supervision and are now regularly revised and updated according to AMORC custom dating from the time of H. Spencer Lewis's first published materials in 1916). Stewart also founded the Order Militia Crucifera Evangelica and assisted with the formation of the British Martinist Order. Other Rosicrucian organizations formed after Stewart's removal from AMORC include the Ghanaian Order of the Rose Cross led by Benjamin Quaye and the Norwegian Order of the Rose Cross led by Robert Aarberg of which both orders are closely allied with Stewart's Confraternity of the Rose Cross; and the short-lived Ancient Rosae Crucis which was led by Ashley McFadden.
The AMORC publishes several publications including a public magazine called the Rosicrucian Digest, an online academic periodical called the Rose-Croix Journal and a Peace e-zine, as well as books which focus on topics such as metaphysics, mysticism, and Egyptology.
The Rosicrucian Digest was first published in 1915 under the name American Rosae Crucis, and then The Triangle, The Mystic Triangle and finally The Rosicrucian Digest. It has been adapted to serve the needs of each period. It is now published by the AMORC English Grand Lodge for the Americas. Beginning with the December 2006 issue (Vol 84:2) the Digest began a series of multimedia thematic issues available online and in print twice a year. The first issue (December 2006) dealt with Atlantis, while the 2007 volumes covered Ancient Egypt and The Essenes. 2008 issues followed with The Orphic Mysteries and the Delphi, while 2009 issues covered The Pythagoreans and the Eleusinian Mysteries.
In the United Kingdom the public magazine is named Rosicrucian Beacon and is published quarterly by the "English speaking jurisdiction for Europe, Africa and the Middle East of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC." Other AMORC jurisdictions have similar publications.
Launched in 2004, AMORC's Rose+Croix Journal is "an international, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, peer-reviewed online journal that focuses on topics that relate to the sciences, history, the arts, mysticism, and spirituality, especially interdisciplinary topics and transdisciplinary inquiries that traverse and lie beyond the limits of different fields of study. These topics may relate to any of the arts and sciences and/or to other emerging fields of human endeavor" (from the Rose+Croix Journal's About page). The Journal's Website also has a Resources section with the four Rosicrucian Manifestos, Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians, Rosicrucian Documents, online editions of the Rosicrucian Digest, etc. Submissions are solicited from Members and the Public.
In 2007, the English Grand Lodge for the Americas launched a new e-zine, Peace Consciousness.org. It is self-described as providing "both a forum for exchanging ideas related to peace, and for suggesting means at all levels to use in resolving differences between individuals, groups, nations, or even species. We will learn not only where we have common ground, but also learn to celebrate our differences, because those differences provide richness, diversity, and a continual flow of new ideas for us to consider." (from the About page). Submissions of articles and art are solicited from Members and the Public.
According to AMORC tradition, H. Spencer Lewis received the mandate from the Rosicrucians of Toulouse when he was initiated in 1909 to make the tradition available and comprehensible to modern women and men. In accord with this, H. Spencer Lewis and after him, Ralph M. Lewis used all of the technologies available to them to accomplish their work. An example was the radio station H. Spencer Lewis had broadcasting from his office at The Rosicrucian Park, and before that, at the previous headquarters in Tampa and San Francisco. The San Jose broadcasting began on February 15, 1928 and was delivered by two 30 metre radio towers inside the park. The radio towers have since been removed, and for some time, AMORC continued to broadcast through the historic San Jose KEEN radio station. Today, the Order uses newer media continue this legacy:
The Mastery of Life is a free introduction to the teachings of AMORC. It deals with many basic philosophical questions from the AMORC Rosicrucian perspective and gives an overview of the Order.
The public presence of the Rosicrucians in Western Europe was made known through the publication of three manifestoes. Continuing this tradition, the AMORC introduced a fourth manifesto, the Positio Fraternitatis Rosæ Crucis at an AMORC convention in Sweden on August, 2001. The Positio offers AMORC's observations on problems in the modern world, along with proposed solutions. The piece is generally perceived as idealistic and written as a so-called Utopian Work, based on a concept first introduced by Sir Thomas More. This idea was later given a Rosicrucian twist in the book New Atlantis, by Sir Francis Bacon. Among the aspirations in the Positio are:
Many of the activities of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC are open to the public, as well as members. These include:
AMORC often organizes various conferences around the world, increasingly having many sessions open to the public, and several councils of experts on various topics.
Rosicrucian World Conventions
International Research Council
The International Research Council is a group of AMORC members who have expertise in several areas, including physics, biology, philosophy and music. According to the AMORC, the members of the International Research Council dedicate themselves to the advancement of their profession for the benefit of humanity.
Hidden in Plain Sight
The Rosicrucian Order will host an academic conference for Scholars and Practitioners of Esotericism at Rosicrucian Park July 22-25, 2009. The heme for the papers and presentations given by members of many different esoteric groups will be the influence of esoteric Orders on the modern world.
Council of Solace
The Council of Solace is a group of Rosicrucians who meditate and pray daily on behalf of others. They offer free 24-hour metaphysical aid to people in need regardless of membership. The Council of Solace meditation ritual held in a number of locations is now open to both members and the public.
Around the world, each AMORC Grand Lodge has its own headquarters facilities. In North America, the headquarters of the English Grand Lodge for the Americas is The Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California, USA, founded in 1927, which includes the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, the 5th Planetarium built in the USA (and the first to have a US-built star projector, built by Dr. Harvey Spencer Lewis), the Rosicrucian Peace Garden, Rosicrucian Research Library, Grand Temple, Administration Building, Fountain Plaza and Gardens.
AMORC has become the target of criticisms from some groups.
Conspiracy theorists have attempted to link AMORC, through persons once participant with the group, as a possible co-conspirator and beneficiary of funds which vanished as part of the Order of the Solar Temple mass suicide in 1995. Conspiracists also believe this link ties in with NATO-organized secret anti-Soviet armies in Europe (known as Operation Gladio). Rayomnd Bernard, a former member of the World Council and former Grand Master of France, refuted these allegations in an interview. Bernard was asked, "What is the influence of the Secret Service in the traditional movements?" He replied:
Gary L. Stewart of the Confraternity of the Rose Cross believes the nature of the modern AMORC does not now reflect Harvey Spencer Lewis's legacy. The same view is held by other organizations which started as splinter groups from AMORC after its 1990s corporate reorganization.
AMORC, like many similar organizations, has been criticized by some Christian groups. The PanHellenic Parents Union included the AMORC in a list of 422 organizations considered as incompatible with the Eastern Orthodox tradition at the "7th Panorthodox Conference" in 1995, as urged by its president, Metropolite Hieronymus of Theba and Levadia.
AMORC promotes the idea that one can develop "untapped potentials of the human mind-seeing auras, premonitions, telepathy and the 'mastery of life'" (from Chapter Three of Psi Development Systems). Some theologians have thus tried to classify it as a secret society.
In 1984, the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) sought to outlaw AMORC in Nigeria. The ECWA claimed that AMORC is a secret society and published relevant claims in its publications. AMORC filed a libel suit against the ECWA. The Lower Court decided against the ECWA in 1988 and ordered the church to pay one million naira to AMORC. The ECWA appealed the decision. AMORC then appealed to the Supreme Court, and ECWA counter-appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed both appeals. In 1999, ECWA filed a new suit against AMORC, requesting the Registrar General of CAC and the IG of Police withdraw AMORC's registration certificate and seal its offices in Nigeria. ECWA also requested AMORC to be declared a secret society. This new ECWA suit was dismissed by the Supreme Court in June, 2000.