The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason: Eighteenth-Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment
by Christopher McIntosh
(Albany, New York: SUNY Press, 2011)
This new edition of Christopher McIntosh’s classic book on the Golden and Rosy Cross order is eagerly awaited. The order stands out as one of the most fascinating and influential of the high-degree Masonic and Illuminist groups that mushroomed in Europe from the eighteenth century onward. Active mainly in the German-speaking lands, it recast the original Rosicrucian vision and gave it renewed vitality. At one point it became politically influential when the Prussian King, Frederick William II, was a member of the order. Historians have often perceived the Golden and Rosy Cross as having had a conservative, anti-Enlightenment agenda, but this study—drawing on rare German sources—shows that the matter was more complex. The members of the order practiced alchemy and operated a degree system that was imitated by later orders, such as the Golden Dawn. Like the latter, the Golden and Rosy Cross exerted a wide and enduring cultural influence. Both the alchemy of the order and its powerful ritual system are insightfully described in Christopher McIntosh’s clear and compelling style.