A striking similarity, don’t you think? I took that image from the work of Andreas Libavius referred to as Alchymia, printed in 1606. Another interesting feature of that document is the fact that it is surmounted by the letters “D.O.M.A.”, which links it with another important document called D.O.M.A. or Codex Rosae Crucis. The historian Rafał T. Prinke has traced that latter document to the German province called Silesia and the year of 1650. Nowadays Silesia belongs to Poland and hence has attached the Polish name of Śłąsk. The capital city of this region is called Breslau in German and Wrocław in Polish. Now this beautiful city holds one of the most prominent Masonic Library’s in the world, maintained by the University Library of Wrocław. According to Rafał L. Prinke’s private research the original manuscript of the D.O.M.A. resides in this library.
According to Prinkle the important Rosicrucian manifesto of Die wahrhafte und volkommene Bereitung des philosophischen Steins der Bruederschafft aus dem Orden des Gulden und Rosen Kreutzes by Sincerus Renatus (a.k.a Samuel Richter) was in fact published in Wrocław, Silesia, in the year of 1710. It heralded the Gold- und Rosenkreutz Orden and the later reformation of 1777. Samuel Richter was according to Christopher MacIntosh of Silesian origin, as was probably his group according to Prinke, the same group which later published the D.O.M.A., of which several plates later were published in the Geheime Figuren (Altona 1785-88) by the auspices of Gold- und Rosenkreutz Orden.
While Silesia historically is a German province it has always bordered on the Polish territory and been an area of cultural cross pollonization. According to Prinke it is “usually overlooked that the only modern author quoted by name in the D.O.M.A. is the great Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius”. So alchemy has always had as high prominence in Poland as it has had in Germany. One can easily regard the two countries as “twins” and interdependent in the context of Rosicrucianism and esotericism, not to mention the Rosicrucian form of Qabalah which actually had its origin in Polish Hasidism. But, if we are to believe Rafał T. Prinke, Poland may have been the fertile ground for the emergence of Rosicrucianism as well.
Henricus Neuhusius in his Pia et utilissima admonitio de Fratribus Rosae Crucis (published in Danzig 1618) maintained that Rosicrucians were Socinians, i.e. belonging to a Polish Unitarian reformative branch of Christianity, aslo reffered to as the Polish Brethren, adhering to the theological teaching of the Alexandrian priest Arius (c. AD 250-336). According to Prinke the earliest reference to Rosicrucians - not only in Polish literature but perhaps in the whole world - comes from a poem Theatrum diabolorum by Jan Borawski, a Polish Protestant pastor from Brodnica/Strassburg in Prussia, with some tentative evidence that it was published for the first time in 1607, i.e. antedating the Rosicrucian manifestos. The relevant fragment of the poem is:
Te solum fratrum roseae crucis expedit ordo
Anglicus ille nocens, sudor et atra lues,
Gorgonea illuvies, gangraena, corizque mundi,
Deformatores dixeris orbis eos.
Prinkle, which adheres to Frances Yates’ theory of John Dee as the true originator of the Rosicrucian movement, has also suggested the above mentioned Michael Sendivogius (1566-1636) to be the missing and needed “paracelsian” link between Dee and the Rosicrucian manifestos in the 17th Century. He even suggests Sendivougius to be the true model for the mythical Frater C.R.C., i.e. for Christian Rosenkreutz himself! Well, this story isn’t at all that far fetching as we know for certain that Sendivougius was acquainted with John Dee and Edward Kelly. We also know that Dee and Kelly travelled extensively in Poland during the most productive years of their collaboration; i.e. Poland has a place of prominence also as regards the genesis of “Enochian Magic”, congenial to the Golden Dawn tradition.
Michael Sendivogius, or Michał Sędziwój as he was known in his native country, is renowned for being one of the very few alchemists who possessed the true secrets the Great Work, i.e. the production of the Philosophers Stone. He also made important contribution to the later scientific discovery of the life-giving qualities of air (i.e. oxygen). He is known to have made several “projections” and transmuted gold from quicksilver, even in the presence of the Austrian Emperor Rudolf II. He also made alchemical operations within the court of the Polish King Sigismund III Vasa (1566-1632), who also was the King of Sweden, himself an enthusiastic alchemist who often took part in Sendivogius' experiments. Their collaboration started in 1606 after a successful healing of the King by the white and red powders. In Kraków's Wawel castle, the chamber where these experiments were performed is still intact.
In 1604 he published his most important work Novum Lumen Chymicum (“A New Light of Alchymie”), also known as De Lapide Philosophorum Tractatus duodecim (“Twelve Treatises on the Philosophers’ Stone”), which were written in alchemical code only to be understood by other alchemists. He also published various scientific and philosophical material which were repeatedly translated and widely read among such worthies as Isaac Newton, also a renowned alchemist.
Michael Sendivogius lived a quite anonymous life and all his books were published incognito, as he says in his De Lapide Philosophorum: “If you ask who I am: I am Cosmopolita” and “I doubt not that there are many persons of good conduct and clear conscience who possess this great gift of God in secret. I pray and conjure them that they should preserve even the silence of Harpocrates”. Still he became somewhat of a legend during his lifetime and was for example admired among the Tübingen university intellectuals (the city wherein the circle of Johann Valentin Andreae were active).
Sendivogius started his higher education at the Jagiellonian University in Crakow in about 1582 where hermetic teachings and Paracelus were held in high esteem and whose protector was Albrecht Laski (1536-1603), the one responsible for bringing Dee and Kelly to Poland. Laski himself was interested in hermeticism and alchemy according to Prinke. Dee and Kelly were both in Crakow and in Prauge at the same time as Sendivogius, so according to Prinke the latter was in the midst of important events, perhaps even being the companion to Dee and Kelly on his way to Prague. While in Bohemia Sendivogius collaborated with the great Czech alchemist Bavor Rodovsky, whose protector and host Villem of Rozemberk also hosted Dee and Kelly in Trebona. So they all spend some time together in Bohemia.
Later, being a part of the court of the emperor Rudolph II Sendivogius traveled extensively around Europe, combining diplomatic duties with alchemical studies. In Constantinople, Prinke states, he was taught the secrets of alchemy by the Greek patriarch and there is also the story about his “praeceptor” from Egypt, “all of which is very strongly reminiscent of the journey fo Father C.R.C. to Damascus [i.e. Damcar] and Fez”. Sendivogius also made friends with Johann Tolde, which edited and probably wrote the works ascribed to Basilius Valentinus, a true icon in the eyes of Rosicrucians expounding the secrets of the dry path of Antimony.
According to Prinke in 1595 Sendivogius also met Duke Frederick of Wurttemberg, a personality which is associated with the early beginnings of Rosicrucianism as his court “was a centre of alchemical and occult activities, with Simon Studion and Johann Valentin Andreae as its most notable Rosicrucian figures”. After his return to Prague 1595 and during his travels to Poland after the turn of the Century Sendivogius made himself a reputation of healing and performances of alchemical transmutations. In 1605 he was invited again by the Duke of Wurttemberg, staying there for some years. He also met and knew the Bohemian Rosicrucian Johan Amos Comenius. This clearly says a lot about the reputation of Sendivogius, and of his Rosicrucian connections. But according to Prinke he may have had a hand in or influced the Rosicrucian manifestos. In the preface to his Treatise on Sulphur (published in 1613) Sendivogius says:
The times are at hand when many secrets of Nature will be revealed to men. The Fourth or Northern Monarchy is about to be established; a happy age is coming; enlightenment, the Mother of Sciences, will soon appear; a brighter Sun than in any of the preceding three Monarchies will rise and reveal more hidden secrets. This Monarchy (as the ancients foretold) God's Omnipotence will found by the hand of a prince enriched with all virtues who, it is said, has already appeared in this present age. In this our northern region we see a prince of uncommon wisdom and valour, whom no king can surpass in victories or in love of men and God.
In this Northern coming polar Monarchy (as the Psalmist says) mercy and truth will meet together, peace and justice will kiss each other, truth will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from heaven. There will be one Shepherd and one fold, and knowledge will be the common property of all without envy. I look forward to all this with longing.
These words are quite reminiscent of the “Allgemeine und General Reformation” spoken of in Fama Fraternitatis, published one year later. As Prinke notes, of “special importance is the use of the very term ‘Fourth Monarchy’, so important in the Rosicrucian context. The well known fragment from the Fama says ‘In Politia we acknowledge the Roman Empire and Quartam Monarchiam for our Christian head; albeit we known what alterations be at hand, and would fain impart the same with all our hearts to other godly learned men’. The mention of a prince who will establish the new Monarchy confirms the hypothesis of Frances Yates in a quite surprising way, while the words about ‘a brighter sun’ that will rise are clearly the same theme as the statement in the Fama saying that ‘before the rising of the sun there should appear and break forth Aurora, or some clearness, or divine light in the sky’. This Aurora is clearly Aurora Borealis, announcing the advent of the Northern Monarchy as foretold by Heliocantharus Borealis”.
Another “evidence” for the Sendivogius connections with the Rosicrucian manifestos, according to Prinke, is the fact that the Consideratio Brevis of Philip a Gabella, published together with the first edition of the Confessio Fraternitatis at Cassel in 1615, not only was based on Dee's Monas hieroglyphica but also on Sendivogius’ De Lapide Philosophorum. While the parts taken from Dee’s Monas hieroglyphica are verbatim quotations, according to Prinke numerous statements from Sendivogius book are “either taken directly from it or summarising its fragments, or saying the same things in different words”. But then Prinke wisely adds, the question arises “if he was the real moving spirit behind the Rosicrucian Manifestos or just the figure of a master that the first Rosicrucians admired and took as a model for Christian Rosenkreutz? This question will have to remain unanswered for the time being though we may examine the former possibility as well”.
Prinke dares however to speculate if it wasn’t Sendivogius who penned the Brevis as the probable unknown head of the Novo Cabalae Philosophorum Incognuorum dignissimo Sodali or “Secret Society of Unknown Philosophers of Cabala”, referred to in his The Philosophical Letters written in 1616. Perhaps, or even probably, this is a reference to the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. This society has also been associated with Louis Claude de Saint Martin (1743-1803) as “The Order of The Unknown Philosophers”, which according to one tradition descended from Les Freres d’Orient, an initiatic order supposedly created in 1090 in Constantinople under the patronage of The Emperor Alexis Comenius, reputedly including Heinrich Khunrath, Alexander Sethon, Rudolph Salzmann, Jacob Boheme, and our hero Michael Sedivogious as members. If this is a true account, there obviously exists a connection between the Martinist and Rosicrucian traditions, at least this has often been stressed by the Martinists themselves. Personally I have no personal preference in this matter, even though I can’t help being a little bit skeptical towards the Martinist-Rosicrucian link (to me it sounds more like a later invention), but I must confess that I find it interesting to note that Saint Martin in fact referred to himself as the “unknown philosopher”. Perhaps it’s most fair to regard Rosicrucianism, Martinism and Freemasonry as “sister” traditions, being branches of the same trunk of the Western Mystery Tradition; not identical but akin.
But let’s not digress from the main subject of this essay and instead at last turn our attention to the Polish contributions on the later alchemical revival of the 18th Century, yet to find another Royalty deeply involved within this current. According to Christopher MacIntosh the last King of Poland, Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski (1732-1798), were a Freemason and a Rosicrucian - referred to as a Chevalier Rose-Croix of the 21st degree. He has been regarded by historians as a enlightened despot, a Polish equivalent of Fredrick the Great of Prussia, Josheph II of Austria, or Gustav III of Sweden, being renown for accomplishing much in the realm of culture, fine arts and education. But he is also a controversial figure as he was accused of doing away with the liberties of the Polish nobility (as did the Swedish Freemasonic and Rosicrucian King Gustav III), even desiring the downfall of the Roman Catholic Church (in a good Rosicrucian fashion), and also being accused of weakness, subservience and treason.
King Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski
As a future King Poniatowski was in fact trained and educated by two alchemists and Rosicrucians, Lucas de Toux de Salverte and the Polish Count August Moszynski. The latter probably were the head of the Polish branch of the Gold- und Rosenkreuz. With the financial support of the King, they both set up an alchemical laboratory in the Ujazdowski palace, even causing great damage to the castle when a accidental fire broke up during an alchemical experiment. According to MacIntosh Moszynski in 1768 wrote “a manuscript treatrise addressed to the King entitled Réflexions sur la science hermétique”. The king himself wrote several papers on the subject of alchemy. During his reign in the mid-1770s the membership of the Gold- und Rosenkreutz amassed, including nobility, officers and other dignitaries.
The Rosicrucian system of Bon Pasteur was supposedly founded in 1750 by Toux de Salverte, i.e. preceding the Gold- und Rosenkreutz Order of Herman Fictuld even if it shared many features with the latter. It was probably to this Order that the Polish King were initiated, as it has a degree with the title of “Chevalier Rose-Croix”. Like the Gold- und Rosenkreutz it started off from the Scottish Master Degree, i.e. from the 5th degree and onwards to the 12th. MacIntosh notes that both the Bon Pasteur and the Gold- und Rosenkretuz shared “a pietistic type of Christianity with a Gnostic, dualistic colouring”. Alchemical symbolism were prominent within both systems. They even shared many common rules, which had their origins in the document of Sincerus Renatus and the Rosicrucian group around the document D.O.M.A. That in turn were strikingly similar, according to MacIntosh, to another document called the Testamentum der Fraternität Roseae et Aureae Crucis. Thus MacIntosh concludes that Bon Pasteur can “be seen as a Polish offshoot of the same stream to which the Gold- und Rosenkreutz belonged”.
So, from a cultural and esoteric point of view, Poland is to be regarded as the backyard of Germany, or perhaps as the younger brother of the Teutonic family. Remember that Prussia (the descendent of the Teutonic Order) once comprised the majority of the territory today known as Poland, and that many noble Prussian families bears strikingly polish-sounding family names. The Poles can be compared to the Chezchs, like an adopted sibling to the Germanic people. No surprise then that the German alchemical and Rosicrucian revival during the 18th Century was prominant in Poland.
This, as regards Rosicrucianism. But if we look at the Qabalah, which from the very start of Rosicrucianism has held a prominent place within the R+C, we find Poland as the main area of origin. I have tried to extrapolate this origin in my two previous essays on the origin of the Hermetic Qabalah of the Golden Dawn here and there. I recommend reading these before proceeding any further to get the full perspective of my proposition. It also becomes quite clear, in reading the history of Jewish mysticism in Europe, that there has in fact over time developed two different branches or centres of Qabalah (or Kabbalah), the Spanish and Polish traditions. Actually it was Israel Regardie who brought my attention to this fact when he pointed out the differences in transliteration between the Spaniards and the Poles; the Hermetic Qabalah are based on the Polish tradition of transliteration.
Granted, the Hermetic revival and the development of the “Christian Kabbalah” during the renaissance came from Italy, as everything else in those times. But if we are talking about the Lurianic Qabalah, which took a prominent place in the Rosicrucian current after the 1777 general reformation, we have to search for the origins of that influence in Poland, and the special branch of the Sabbatheian tradition called Frankist Qabalah. It is this latter brand which took prominence within the German Rosicrucian revival during the 18th Century, especially so after the emergence of the Fratres Lucis, or Asiatic Brethren, which consummated the full integration between Hermeticism and Qabalah. Through the Frankfurt-am-Main “Jewish” Lodge of L'Aurore Naissante (or “the Nascent Dawn”), founded in 1807, this special hybrid of the Hermetic Qabalah found its way into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
So, in conclusion, if we as Golden Dawn initiates have any interests in the roots of our beloved tradition (as we should have to gain a full understanding of it and the context in which it was created) we must turn our eyes not only to Germany but to Poland as well.
So, lets complete a full circle and return to the coat of arms - the white eagle. The image at the top is a representation of the national emblem of Poland as it was redesigned in 1927. But this emblem strikingly resembles the coat of arms from the 16th Century. It was probably in vogue to draw heraldic eagles in this fashion, even in alchemical manuscripts. But it is fascinating that this obvious alchemical design of the eagle has survived until now. But of course, the white eagle of Poland has striking similarities with the black eagle of Prussia and Germany, stemming from the Teutonic Order, which bears the same general features.
This of course only confirms the close ties between these two countries. However, limiting it to alchemical symbolism, the black eagle (to my knowledge) in not as prominent or common in classical alchemical manuscripts as is the white eagle. There exists a black bird in alchemy - the black raven - but the black eagle is quite rare. As eagle symbolism in alchemy oftentimes depicts sublimation or distillation, it fittingly wears the colour of purity - whiteness.
All this confirms my argumentative point of view were I look upon Poland as one of the most prominent centres of esotericism in 17th and 18th Century Europe, in par with Germany, Austria and Czechia. Furthermore, in the union between the German Rosicrucianism and Polish Qabalah we suddenly must view Poland as an indispensable part of the heritage of Hermetic Qabalah and the Golden Dawn.