AMORC - Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis
The AMORC was founded in 1915 in New York City. It is international, but operates principally in the United States and is open to all ages and both sexes. There were 120,000 members in the United States in 1994, maybe a total of 250,000 worldwide.
The large, modern American Rosicrucian movement of the A.M.O.R.C . sprang from the Kabbalistic Order of the Rosy Cross. The Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crusis was founded in 1915 by H. Spencer Lewis, a New York advertising man who had become a Rosicrucian in Paris in 1909 (and the organization also gives this as the date of its founding). At first, the organization led a peripatetic existence, with headquarters in New York, then in San Francisco, then in Tampa, and then in San Jose, California, where it remains to this day. It describes itself as "the world's oldest fraternal organization" (similar claims are made by a number of secret societies).
When Lewis died in 1939, his son Ralph succeeded him as "Supreme Autocratic Authority," and "Imperator for North, Central and South America, the British Commonwealth and Empire, France, Switzerland, Sweden and Africa" for almost half a century. In 1987 he was followed by Gary L. Stewart, which proved to be a disastrous choice, as it was discovered that Stewart was quietly moving the order's money into a bank account in the tiny kingdom of Andorra. He was removed from office, and Christian Bernard was selected in 1990 as the new Grand Imperator. Since 2019 Claudio Mazzucco is Grand Imperator.
Elements of Buddhism, Cabalism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Hinduism, Masonry, Odd Fellowship, general pantheism, Theosophy, and vegetarianism are all present in the A.M.O.R.C. Among the "hundreds of fascinating subjects taught and thoroughly explained" is a "Discourse on Experiments in Creating Life out of Nonliving Matter."
"Experiments on Thought Transmission" and "The Human Aura and its Vibratory Effect" are other topics similarly treated. Reincarnation is part of A.M .O.R.C. doctrine, and, on rising, the A.M.O.R.C. Rosicrucian faces east, takes seven deep breaths, and drinks a glass of water.
The A.M.O.R.C. advertises in many periodicals.
Those who answer the advertisement receive a booklet promising to tell one how to change one's life. Spencer Lewis's Rosicrucian Questions and Answers presents a history stretching back for thousands of years to the Great White Lodge of Egypt in the XVIII Dynasty- though the precise date when the brotherhood became Rosicrucians is by no means made clear.
Joining A.M.O.R.C. involves no oaths incompatible with Roman Catholicism or any other religion or sect. There are Lodges, where lectures are given and initiations performed, but home study is also possible; an hour to an hour and a half a week is recommended. In the Lodge, a Master is seated at one end on a triangular dais; at the other end is his female counterpart, the Mater, while a Vestal Virgin sits before the Master and guards the Sacred Fire, which is used to light incense. The Vestal Virgin is an unmarried girl between 18 and 21. Between the Master and the Mater, in the center of the room, is the Sacred Triangle or Shekinah; the members line the walls along the sides, wearing aprons, which have a distinctly Masonic look to them. In addition to home study (sometimes referred to as "The Lodge at Home") and convocations in a Lodge, local meetings are held at a "Pronaos." The word comes from the Greek (and not the Egyptian, as many Rosicrucians believe) and refers to the space in front of a temple, enclosed by the walls or colonnade, a sort of portico.
Sexual differentiation of roles is less clear-cut in the Pronaos than in the Lodge; the Master may be a woman. At the Vernal Equinox, the "fraters" and "sorors" eat corn and salt and drink grape juice, while at the Autumnal Equinox they hold their Outdoor Fete. This, like other aspects of the A.M.O.R.C. ritual, is almost entirely non-Christian.
The A.M.O.R.C. has an elaborate system of degrees, starting with the Postulant Section. This is an introductory section, that includes 8 Mandami, explaining the system of study and basic concepts.
Following the Postulant Section is the Neophyte Section, that includes three degrees (Atrium). After that is the Temple Section, with the degrees 1 to 8, followed by the Illuminati section, with degrees 9 to 12.
After the year 2000 the Illuminati section was split in three sections, the Illuminati Proper section, consisting of the 9th, 10th and 11th degree, the Esoteric Hierarchy section, including the 12th degree as an introduction to an entirely new section, called the Ordo Summum Bonum.
This section has a sub-section entitled ‘The Planes’, which includes another set of nine degrees. The ‘Plane’degrees were created by Ralph M. Lewis during his period as A.M.O.R.C. Imperator. Those degrees are purely philosophical in nature and discuss the nature of the Cosmic and its natural laws.
Initiations for the first three degrees (beginning with the First Portal) can be administered by correspondence course. The candidate studies for six weeks. Subjects include "the mysteries of time and space; the human consciousness; the nature of matter; perfecting the physical body; the effect of light, color and sound upon the mind and body; the ancient philosophies; development of will; human emotions and instincts; and the phenomena of intuition." The A.M.O.R.C. reckons its teachings are accessible to "anyone able to read and understand his daily newspaper."
Armed with a knowledge of the mysteries, the candidate sets up an altar in his home; darkens the room; and lights two candles, one after the other, to the accompaniment of incantations. The first candle, for instance, is lit with the prayer, "Blessed Light, Symbol of the Greater Light, cast thy rays in the midst of darkness and illuminate my path." The candles are also extinguished in turn, to the accompaniment of further incantations. The initiation is complete when the candidate extinguishes the second candle and says, "Into physical darkness do I walk and move and have material expression, but the Greater Light dwelleth now within." He then signs and returns the Great Oath, which binds him to secrecy.
Further study leads to the second and third degrees; each is more time-consuming than the last, and the third contains such passages as, "The divine essence which I breathe into my body brings with it an influx of the Soul of God; and I likewise breathe out of my body the exhausted essence which has given me life and maintained the Soul in my body. All evil influence surrounding my soul and contaminating my body went forth from my body with the passing of the exhausted and devitalized breath. With the newer breath, the sweet and holy air, I took into my body the purer essence, which is Divine and is God." This is the mystical part. The "scientific" part contains such passages as, "From a chemical or elemental viewpoint, water is composed of two kinds of atoms: those which manifest the nature of hydrogen and those which manifest the nature of oxygen. Therefore, water is a dual principal, and as such is truly in sympathy with the other principals, as we shall learn ...."
The oath is administered by copying. After copying each seventh word, the candidate stops and repeats the word seven times while looking in the mirror: "I shall strive forever to deserve the approbation of all good Souls on earth and to serve God silently and peacefully, not in fear of the future made, but in consideration of an unmade future, a realm for my greater development. So mote it be." "So mote it be" is a common usage among Freemasons, where an ordinary Christian would normally say, "Amen."
In addition to monographs (teaching pamphlets), the A.M.O.R.C. subscriber also receives The Rosicrucian, which contains articles of a general, popular nature. Also available to members are Rosicrucian marriage ceremonies (to be held within three days of a civil ceremony); a Rosicrucian "Rite of Appellation," which replaces baptism for those under 18 months old; and funeral rites, in which the color of mourning is purple.
Despite A.M.O.R.C.'s claims to coexistence with all creeds and
religions, established churches frown on the A.M.O.R.C., and it
is proscribed by any church that proscribes any organization.