Fama Fraternitatis

Translated and annotated by
Christopher McIntosh and Donate Pahnke McIntosh



Manifesto of the Most Praiseworthy Order of the Rosy Cross, addressed to all the rulers, estates, and learned of Europe

We the Brethren of the Fraternity of the R.C. extend our greetings, love, and prayers to all who read this our Fama in a Christian spirit.

God, the all-wise and all-merciful, having in recent times so abundantly poured out his mercy and goodness to humankind that knowledge of his Son and of nature is becoming more and more widespread and we can justly rejoice in a forthcoming happy time, He has not only revealed half of the unknown and hidden world and laid before us many wondrous and hitherto never experienced works and creations of nature, but has also caused certain highly illuminated minds to come forth, who might partially renew the arts, which have become debased and imperfect, so that finally Man might understand his true nobility and splendor, in what sense he is a microcosm, and how far his art extends into nature.

This will of course be of little use to the unthinking world. Laughter, mockery, and malicious talk are on the increase, and even the learned are so full of pride and ambition that they do not wish to come together and, out of everything that God in our age has so richly revealed to us, create a book of nature or a perfect development of all the arts. Rather, every faction among them opposes every other. Furthermore they cling to the old teachings, esteeming the Pope, Aristotle, and Galen—indeed everything that has the appearance of a codex—more than the clear and manifest light. If men such as Aristotle and Galen were alive today they would doubtless be extremely happy to revise their doctrines. But here people are too weak for such a great work. Although in theology, physics, and mathematics truth is working for the opposite, nevertheless the old enemy, with his great cunning and malevolence, is doing his best to discredit and hinder it through the agency of fanatical, discontented, and wayward people.

One who long and avidly strove for such a general reformation was the pious, spiritual and highly illuminated Pater, Fr. C.R., a German, the head and founder of our fraternity.

In the fifth year of his life, because of the poverty of his (nonetheless noble) parents, he was placed in a monastery where he acquired a fair knowledge of both Greek and Latin. While still in the bloom of youth he was, at his own fervent plea, assigned to a certain Brother P. a. L., who had undertaken to make a journey to the Holy Sepulchre.

Although this Brother died in Cyprus and never saw Jerusalem, yet our Brother C.R. did not turn back, but sailed on and journeyed to Damascus, intending to go from there to Jerusalem.

However, sickness detained him in Damascus, where he won favor among the Turks through medicine (in which he was not inexperienced). During his sojourn there he heard by chance about the wise men of Damcar in Arabia and the great wonders they performed and how nature was an open book to them. This inspired his high and noble mind to such an extent that Jerusalem was no longer as high in his thoughts as Damcar. Being unable to restrain his eagerness, he persuaded certain of the Arabian masters in return for a sum of money to convey him to Damcar.

He was only sixteen years of age when he arrived there, but of a strong German physique. There the wise received him, as he avers, not as a stranger but as someone whom they had long expected, calling him by his name and mentioning unknown facts about his monastery, causing him great astonishment. There he learned the Arabic language better, so that the following year he was able to translate into good Latin the Book M., which he afterward brought back with him. It was from here that he took his physics and mathematics, which ought to have been joyfully received by the world if only there were more love and less resentment.

After three years he went on his way again, well enlightened, departing by ship from the Arabian peninsula and proceeding to Egypt, where he remained for only a short time, although long enough to gain a better knowledge of its flora and fauna. He then sailed along the whole length of the Mediterranean Sea to Fez, whither he had been directed by the Arabians. It puts us to shame that wise men, so far remote from each other, should not only be of one mind, rejecting all contentious writings, but also be so willing and ready to reveal their secrets to others in trust and openness.

Every year the Arabians and Africans send representatives to meet with each other, to question one another concerning their arts, and to ascertain whether there have been any new and improved inventions or whether their existing systems of knowledge have been weakened by experience. In this way every year something is brought to light for the improvement of mathematics, physics and magic (in which the inhabitants of Fez excel). Since in Germany at this time there is no lack of scholars, magi, Kabbalists, physicians and philosophers, either they should be better disposed to each other or, if the majority do not want that, then each must eat up the whole meadow alone.

At Fez he made the acquaintance of the Elementary Inhabitants (as he commonly called them), who revealed to him much of what they knew, just as we Germans could do among ourselves if we had sufficient unity and a passionate and earnest desire to search.

Of these people of Fez he often said that their magia was not altogether pure and that their Kabbalah was tainted by their religion. Nevertheless he knew how to make good use of the same and thereby found an even better foundation for his own belief, a foundation which is in exact harmony with the whole world, and whose impress is wonderfully evident in all periods of time.

Thence arises the recognition of the beautiful unity whereby, just as every seed contains the whole tree and its fruit, so likewise the whole world is contained in miniature in every human being, with his religion, politics, health, bodily parts, natural traits, speech, words and works—all of which partake of the same tune and melody as God, heaven, and earth. Everything to the contrary would be error, falsehood, and of the Devil, who is the first, middle and last cause of worldly strife, blindness, and darkness. So if one were to examine each and every person on the globe one would find that what is good and true is always at one with itself, while its opposite is marked by a thousand aberrant opinions.

After two years Frater R.C. left Fez and travelled with many precious treasures to Spain, hoping, as he had so profited from his journey, that the learned of Europe would greatly rejoice with him and thenceforth base all their studies on such true foundations. He therefore discoursed with the learned of Spain about the shortcomings of our arts and how they can be remedied, whence to take certain portents of future times and how they agreed with earlier ones. He spoke of how the deficiencies of the Church and of our moral philosophy could be remedied. He showed them new plants, new fruits, and animals that did not accord with the old philosophy, and gave them new axiomata whereby all [difficulties] might be overcome.

But to them it was all a laughing matter. Because these things were new to them they were worried that their great reputation would be diminished if they now began to learn afresh and if they admitted that they had been in error for many years. They were accustomed to their own errors, which had indeed brought them profit enough; so [they said] let someone else who is served with disquietude reform.

The same little song was sung to him by other nations, which moved him all the more as he had not in the least reckoned with it and was now prepared to share generously all his knowledge and skills with the learned, if they would only take the trouble to probe all faculties, sciences and arts, and all of nature in order to determine certain infallible axioms which, as he knew, would be oriented like a globe toward a single centre and, as is the custom among the Arabians, should serve as a guiding rule for the learned alone, so that also in Europe there might be a society possessing enough gold and precious stones to share with kings along with appropriate guidelines, according to which the rulers could be educated, who would thus know everything that God has imparted to humankind and could be consulted in case of need (as reportedly the idols of the heathens were in former times).

We must certainly recognize that the world in those days was already pregnant with great commotion and was laboring to give birth, and that she brought forth tireless, worthy men who forcefully broke through the darkness and barbarism, leaving us weaker ones to press on after them. Assuredly, they were the tip of the fiery triangle, whose flames will now shine more brightly and give the final illumination to the world.

Such a one, in his calling, was Theophrastus, who did not join our Fraternity, but had diligently read the Book M, whereby his sharp mind was ignited. But this man was so hindered, even at the height of his career, by the machinations of the pedants and pseudo-sages that he could never discuss his thoughts about nature with others. Therefore in his writings he was more intent on mocking these know-alls than on fully revealing himself. Nevertheless, harmonia of thought is profoundly present in him, and he would have communicated it to the learned, had he found them to be worthy of the higher art rather than of subtle mocking. So he went on living his free and unconcerned life, leaving the world to its own foolish pleasures.

But, not to forget our beloved Father C.R., he, after many wearisome travels and ill-directed new reformations, returned to Germany, which he dearly loved (by reason of the imminent change and the mighty and perilous struggle to come). There, although he could have boasted of his art, especially that of the transmutation of metals, he set more store by heaven and its human citizens than by all splendor. Nevertheless, he built a fitting and neat habitation, in which he reflected on his travels and on philosophical matters, writing his reflections down in a memoir. In this house he is said to have spent a considerable time preoccupied with mathematics and to have constructed many fine instruments from all branches of this art. Of these, only a few have remained for us, as we shall hear later on.

After five years, there came into his mind again the desired reformation. Because he despaired of the help and support of others, while he himself was industrious, agile, and indefatigable, he undertook to attempt this work with a few helpers and collaborators. Accordingly, from his first monastery (for which he retained great affection) he asked for three of his brethren, namely Fr. G.V., Fr. I. A., and Fr. I. O., who were in addition better versed in the arts than was common at that time. He bound these three to him to be utterly faithful, industrious, and secretive, and to commit to writing with the utmost diligence all that he should instruct them in, so that posterity, should they be admitted by particular revelation, would not be deceived by a single syllable or letter.

Thus began the Brotherhood of the R. C., initially with four persons only, and by them were the magical language and writing provided with an extensive vocabulary, which we still use to this day to God's praise and glory and do find great wisdom therein. They made also the first part of the Book M.

But because that task had grown too large and they were hindered by the arrival of sick people in unbelievable numbers, and since his new building (called Sancti Spiritus) was now finished, they decided to recruit others into their Society and Brotherhood. To this end were chosen Fr. R.C., his deceased father's brother's son Fr. B., a skilful painter, and G.G. and P.D., their scribes, all Germans except for I.A., so in all they were eight in number, all of unmarried state and of avowed virginity. These collected together a large quantity of everything that the human being could wish, desire, or hope for.

Although we freely admit that the world has greatly improved within the past hundred years, yet we are assured that our Axiomata will remain unaltered until Judgement Day, and that the world shall see nothing [better] even in its most advanced and ultimate age. For our Rotae began on the day that God spoke “Fiat ” and will remain when God speaks “Pereat,” yet God's clock strikes every minute, whereas ours hardly strikes the hour.

We also steadfastly believe that, if our fathers and brothers had attained our present bright light they would have more effectively rebuked the Pope, Mahomet, the learned pedants, the philosophers, the artists and the sophists, and would have shown their altruistic disposition not merely with sighs and wishes for fulfilment.

Now when these eight brethren had arranged and taken care of everything in such a way that no further work was necessary and they all had a full grasp of both secret and revealed philosophy, they did not wish to remain any longer together, but, as had been originally agreed, they dispersed to various lands so that not only might their axiomata be more precisely examined in secret by the learned but that they themselves could report to each other whenever, in some country or other, their observations revealed some error. Their agreement was this:

  1. None of them should practice any other profession than to cure the sick and that gratis.
  2. None should feel constrained on account of the Brotherhood to wear a particular garb, but should wear the attire of the country.
  3. Every brother should appear on day C. at the House of the Holy Spirit or state the cause of his absence.
  4. Every brother should look about for a worthy person who might succeed him.
  5. The word C.R. should be their seal, password, and sign.
  6. The Brotherhood should remain undisclosed for one hundred years.

These six articles they vowed to one another to keep, and five of the brethren departed. Only Brothers B. and D. remained with Father C. for a year. When they also departed there remained with him his cousin and Brother I.O., so that for all the days of his life he always had two brethren with him.

And, although the Church was not yet cleansed, we do know what they thought of her and what they awaited with longing desire. Every year they assembled with joy and gave a full account of what they had done. And then it must certainly have been a joyful experience to hear, truly and without invention, of all the wonders that God has now and then strewn throughout the wide world without even having seen it [themselves]. And everyone may hold it for certain that such persons—having been brought together by God and the whole heavenly dispensation and selected by the wisest man in many centuries—lived in the utmost unity, the most scrupulous discretion, and the greatest loving kindness among themselves and among others.

In such a praiseworthy manner did they conduct their lives, and, although their bodies were freed from all diseases and pains, yet their souls could not go beyond [delay] the appointed moment of release.

The first of this Fraternity who died, and that in England, was I.O., as Fr. C. had long before predicted to him. He was very skilled and learned in the Kabbalah, as witness his book H. In England he is much spoken of, especially because he cured a young earl of Norfolk of leprosy.

They had decided that, as far as possible, their burial places should remain hidden, so that today the whereabouts of various of these are unknown to us. Yet in place of each one of them a capable successor was appointed.

Here we wish, to the honor of God, publicly to make known that, whatever secrets we may have learned from the Book of Mysteries (how we can have before our eyes the image and counter-image of the whole world), neither our misfortunes nor the hour of our death are known to us, as the great God reserves these to himself, wishing to have us in readiness.

But more of this in detail in our Confessio, in which we set out thirty-seven reasons why we now reveal our Brotherhood and offer such high mysteries freely and without compulsion or any reward. Also we promise more gold than the King of Spain brings from the Indies, for Europe is with child and will bring forth a strong child, who shall stand in need of a great godfather's gift.

After the death of O. Fr. C. did not rest but, as soon as he could, called the others together. It seems that it was only then that his grave was made.

Although we (the more recent ones) up to now did not know when our dear Father Fr. R.C. died and had no more than the mere names of the founders and all their successors up to ourselves, yet we remembered a secret which was entrusted to us of the third generation by A., the successor of D. (who was the last of the second succession of brethren and who had lived with many of us), when he spoke cryptically of a period of one hundred years.

Furthermore we must confess that, after the death of A., none of us had the least knowledge of R.C. and his initial fellow brethren, apart from what was left of them in our Philosophical Library, among which our Axiomata was considered by us to be the work of the highest rank, Rotae Mundi the most elaborate, and Proteus the most useful. Therefore we do not know for certain whether those of the second succession possessed wisdom equal to those of the first and whether they had been given access to everything.

We shall, however, shortly remind the gracious reader that what we not only know about the burial of Fr. C., but hereby publicly declare, was ordained, permitted and enjoined to us by God. This we fulfil with such faithfulness that, if anyone shall give us a modest and Christian reply, we shall not hold back from revealing in open print our Christian and surnames, our meetings, and whatever else may be desired.

Here then is the true and thorough account of the discovery of the highly illuminated man of God, Fr. C.R.C.

After A. had beatifically passed away in Gallia Narbonensis, his place was taken by our beloved Brother N.N. When he found us and took the solemn oath of fidelity and secrecy, he confided to us that A. had comforted him by saying that this Fraternity would soon not be so secret, but would be to the whole Fatherland of the German Nation helpful, necessary, and renowned. Of this he had not the slightest reason to be ashamed among his peers.

The following year, having already completed his studies and having the opportunity to travel, equipped with a generous supply of travel money of Fortunatus's purse, he thought (being also a master builder) to make some alterations to this building and arrange it more suitably. In this course of this work he came upon a memorial plaque of brass, bearing the names of all the Brotherhood as well as a few things. This he wished to transfer to another and more suitable vault, for where or when Fr. C. had died, or in what country he might be buried, was by our elders concealed and was unknown to us.

In this plaque was fixed a great nail, so strongly that, when it was forcibly pulled out, it took with it a fairly large piece of masonry from the thin wall or layer covering the hidden door that was thereby unexpectedly revealed. Thereupon we joyfully and eagerly removed the rest of the masonry and cleared the door, on the upper part of which was written [in Latin] in capital letters: AFTER 120 YEARS I SHALL OPEN with the original year underneath.

For this we gave thanks to God and let everything rest for the evening, as we wanted to consult our Rota.

Here for the third time we refer to our Confessio, for what we reveal here is for the benefit of those who are worthy. To the unworthy, God willing, it will be of little use. For just as our door opened miraculously after so many years, so also shall a door open to Europe (when the masonry is completely removed), which is already beginning to show itself. This is with great eagerness expected by many.

In the morning we opened the door and found a vault of seven sides and corners, each side being five feet wide and eight feet high. Although the sun never shone in this vault, nevertheless it was brightly lit by another, which had learned from the sun and stood uppermost in the center of the ceiling. In the middle, instead of a gravestone, there was a small round altar, covered with a small plate of brass on which was written [in Latin]:

A.C.R.C. This compendium of the universe I made during my lifetime as a tomb for myself.

Around the first edge or rim stood the words: Jesus all things to me. In the middle were four figures, enclosed in a circle, with the following [Latin] circumscription:

  1. A void exists nowhere.
  2. The yoke of the law.
  3. The Liberty of the Gospel.
  4. God's glory is inviolable.

This was all clear and distinct [to see], as were the seven sides and the twice seven triangles. Therefore we knelt down together and thanked the sole wise, sole mighty, and sole eternal God, who has taught us more than all human reason could find out, praised be His name.

We distinguished three parts of this vault: the ceiling or heaven, the walls or sides, and the ground paving. Of the ceiling you will not hear anything more from us at present, save that it was divided into triangles, running from the bright center toward the seven sides. But what was inside should rather be seen by your own eyes (you who would await salvation) than be received through our description.

Each of these sides was divided into ten quadrilateral sections, containing various figures and sentences, as carefully and accurately described in our attached booklet Concentratum.

The floor was also divided into triangles, but, because therein are described the rulership and power of the base regent, it is not exposed to misuse by the frivolous and godless world. However, those who are provided with the heavenly antidote can without fear or hurt tread on the head of the old evil serpent, something for which our age is well suited.

Each side had a door to a chest containing various things, especially all our books, which we already possessed, including the Vocabulary of Theophrastus Bombastus of Hohenheim and those that we use daily and of which we faithfully report to others. Herein we also found his itinerary and vita, from which most of this work is taken.

In a further chest were mirrors of various good properties, and in other places were little bells, lighted hanging lamps and especially certain marvelously artistic songs. Altogether, everything was arranged in such a way that, were the whole Order or Brotherhood to perish, it would be possible, even after many centuries, to reconstitute it from this unique vault.

We had not yet found the body of our so careful and wise father, so we moved the altar aside, enabling us to lift up a thick plate of brass, revealing a fair and illustrious body, undamaged and completely undecayed, as can be seen most accurately in the picture with all regalia and burial objects.

In his hand he held a book, written in gold on parchment, called T., which, after the Bible, is now our greatest treasure and should not lightly be exposed to the censure of the world. At the end of the book was the following [Latin] eulogy:

A grain, buried in the heart of Jesus, Christian Rosenkreuz sprang from the noble and illustrious German family of Rosenkreuz. He was a beacon of his age and an ornament for future centuries. Through divine revelation, highly subtle investigations and tireless efforts he was admitted into the mysteries and secrets of heaven and earth. In his journeys through Arabia and Africa he collected a treasure surpassing that of kings and emperors. However, as it was not congenial to his age, he preserved it in an ingenious manner for posterity to uncover. Further, he appointed trusted people and close friends to be the heirs of his arts and also of his name, and he created a miniature world, corresponding in all motions to the greater one. Finally, after he had created this compendium of things past, present and future, being more than a hundred years old, he gave his illuminated soul, not through sickness (which he had never felt in his own body and never allowed others to be afflicted by), but rather summoned by the divine spirit, back to God the creator amid the last kisses of his Brethren. Our much loved Father, most sweet Brother, most faithful teacher and most unblemished friend, he was hidden here by his own kind for 120 years.

Underneath they had signed [in Latin]:

  1. Brother I.A, chosen by Brother C. as head of the Fraternity.
  2. Brother S.G.V.M.P.S.
  3. Brother R.C. junior, inheritor of [the House] of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Brother B.M.P.A., painter and master builder.
  5. Brother G.G.M.P.I., Kabbalist.

In the second circle [in Latin]:

  1. Brother P.A., successor to Fr. I.O., mathematician.
  2. Brother A., successor to P.D.
  3. Brother R., successor to Father C.R.C. who is rejoicing with Christ.

At the end was written [in Latin]:


Father O. and Father D. at that time already being deceased, where is their place of burial to be found? But we have no doubt that none of the old Brothers would have been buried or perhaps also concealed without something special. We also hope that our example will stir up others to enquire after these people (whose names we have therefore revealed) and to search for their place of burial. For, on account of their medicine, most of them are still known and celebrated among very old people. Thus might our gaza (store of knowledge) be increased or at least better elucidated.

Concerning the minutus mundus, we found it kept in another little altar, truly more beautiful than could be imagined by even the most understanding person. This we leave undescribed until such time as we receive confidential replies to our true-hearted Fama.

Accordingly, we put back the plate, placed the altar back on top of it, re-closed the door and sealed it with our collective seal. Furthermore, following the instruction and command of our Rota, we published various booklets, including the book M. Hoch., composed by the greatly loved M.P. instead of various domestic duties.

Finally, as was our custom, we departed from one another and left our treasures in the possession of their natural heirs. So we await the answer, judgement, or decision of the learned or unlearned.

While we well know that it will still be a fairly long time before the advent of the general divine and human reformation longed for by us or hoped for by others, it is not undue that before the sun rises it casts a bright or dark light in the sky. [Likewise] meanwhile some few, who shall make themselves known, shall come together, [increase] our Brotherhood in number and reputation and make a happy beginning with the desired philosophical canon laid down by Pr. C., or they shall, together with us, enjoy our treasures (which are inexhaustible) in humility and love, sweeten the arduous nature of this world, and not wander blindly in God's marvellous works.

However, in order that every Christian shall know of what belief and faith we people are, we hereby confess to the recognition of Jesus Christ, as it has in recent times gone forth brightly and clearly, especially in Germany, and is still today being preserved, defended, and propagated in certain particular and known countries (excluding all zealots, heretics, and false prophets).

We also enjoy two sacraments, as instituted with all formulae and ceremonies of the first renewed Church.

In politics we acknowledge the Roman Empire as the Fourth Monarchy and as supreme for us and all Christians.

As well as the fact that we know what great changes are imminent and would dearly like to make these known to other learned people in writing, this is what we have written. Without God, no one will be able to make us outlawed and give us to the unworthy to be robbed. We shall, however, give hidden aid to the good cause, according to whether our gold permits or prevents it. For our gold is not blind like the Fortuna of the Heathens but serves to bring ornament to the Church and honor to the Temple.

Our Philosophia is nothing new but is the same which Adam received after his fall and which Moses and Solomon applied. Thus she should not greatly doubt or refute other opinions, but, as truth is one, is brief and is always consistent with itself and above all fully in accordance with Jesus in all its parts and members, just as he is the image of the Father, so it [truth] is his likeness. Thus it should not be said: “This is true according to philosophy but false according to theology,” for everything which Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and others recognized as true, and which was decisive for Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and Solomon and which above all is consistent with that wonderful book the Bible, comes together, forming a sphere or ball in which all the parts are equidistant from the center. This will be spoken of further and in greater detail in a Christian connection.

Concerning the godless and accursed gold-making, this has gotten so out of hand in our time that many greedy gallows-birds practice great knavery with it and lead people to abuse the curiosity and credulity of many. There are also simple people at this time who are of the opinion that the transmutation of metals is the apex and summit of philosophy, who think that is what it's all about, and that he who can make gold in large quantities and nuggets must be especially pleasing to God, so, with thoughtless pleading or heart-rending sour expressions, they hope to persuade the all-knowing God [himself], who knows all hearts.

We hereby publicly declare this to be false. To the true philosophers, gold-making is a trivial matter and a side issue, in comparison with which they have a thousand better skills. And we say with our dear Father C.R.C.: “Gold pfui! if it is nothing more than a bit of gold.” For he to whom all of nature is open does not rejoice that he can make gold or, as Christ says, that the devils obey him, but that he sees heaven open, the angels of God ascending and descending, and his name written in the book of life.

We also testify that in the name of alchemy many books and pictures have appeared that are an offence to the glory of God. These we shall name in due course and shall give a catalogue of them to pure hearts. And we ask all learned people to beware of such books, for the enemy never ceases to sow his weeds until a stronger one drives it out of him.

According to the intention of our Father C.R.C., we his brethren for the second time request all the learned of Europe who will read our Fama (published in five languages) as well as the Latin Confessio, to examine their arts most carefully and searchingly, to reflect seriously upon the present age, and then to consider our offer with a thoughtful mind and reveal to us their thoughts in printed form, either after collective deliberation or individually. For, although neither we nor our community are named at the present time, each person's opinion, in whatever language, shall assuredly reach us.

Furthermore, no one who gives his name shall fail to come into conversation with one of us either orally or (if he has some objection thereto) in writing. Verily we say that whoever has earnest and heartfelt intentions toward us and the future work shall benefit in goods, body, and soul. But he whose heart is false or only greedy for gold shall, firstly, not do us any harm, but shall plunge himself into the greatest and deepest ruin.

And our building, even if a hundred thousand people had seen it from close to, shall forever remain untouched, undestroyed, unseen, and completely hidden from the godless world. Under the shadow of Thy wings, Jehovah.

The Brethren of the Fraternity of the R.C.  A symmetric red cross on a white background