Before we venture into a problematization of this claim we must remember and be cognizant of the fact that the Fama Fraternitatis isn’t a historical account, but rather an allegory. Thus things said in the Fama cannot be judged solely upon what is said at face value. The Fama is a part of a greater puzzle which comprise the Rosicrucian Tradition. That said, let us now study the words of the Fama itself, and what it possible could reveal to us regarding this question of lineage. It says the following:
After the death of I.O. Brother R.C. rested not, but as soon as he could, called the rest together, (and as we suppose) then his grave was made; although hitherto we (who were the latest) did not know when our loving father R.C. died, and had no more but the bare names of the beginners, and all their successors to us; yet there came into our memory, a secret, which through dark and hidden words, and speeches of the 100 years, brother A. the successor of D. (who was of the last and second row and succession), and had lived amongst many of us, did impart unto us of the third row and succession; otherwise we must confess, that after the death of the said A. none of us had in any manner known anything of Brother R.C. and of his first fellow-brethren, then that which was extant of them in our Philosophical Bibliotheca, amongst which our Axiomata was held for the chiefest Rota Mundi, for the most artificial, and Protheus the most profitable. Likewise we do not certainly know if these of the second row have been of the like wisdom as the first, and if they were admitted to all things.Let’s us analyse this important paragraph of the Fama. First of all this post-modernist proposition entirely misses the fact that the author, presumably Fr. N.N., claims to be a brother of the Rosicrucian Order of the third generation or “row”. The author claims that there is a “second row and succession” and a member from it (Fr. A) “had lived amongst many of us,” (that is the author and his brethren) who “did impart unto us of the third row and succession”. The word “succession” is crucial here in our understanding. In this we must remember the fourth rule of the fraternity, i.e. that:
Every Brother should look out for a worthy person, who after his discease might succeed him.What is a “succession” other that a direct reference to lineage, in the same manner as the Christian Church claims apostlic succession? The author was well aware of the “rows” that had preceeded him; thus he was conscious about his ancestors and heritage, and that he himself belonged to a chain of fraters, preserving the tradition of the “first row”.
Secondly, the author and his contemporaries did in fact know of the existence of Fr. C.R.C. (prior to the discovery of his Tomb) and of the brethren of the “first row”, as they knew their identities perfectly well. How could Fr. C.R.C. had been beloved by the author if he didn’t know of him? Thus the Fama says that the “third row” to which the author belonged “did not know when our loving father R.C. died” and that they “had no more but the bare names of the beginners, and all their successors”, although he does “confess":
that after the death of the said A. none of us had in any manner known anything of Brother R.C. and of his first fellow-brethren, then that which was extant of them in our Philosophical Bibliotheca, amongst which our Axiomata was held for the chiefest Rota Mundi, for the most artificial, and Protheus the most profitable.Thus, they did possess literature which did mention these ancestors; they weren’t fully ignorant. Although there is a hint of a possible loss of oral knowledge between the “rows” as the author did “not certainly know if these of the second row have been of the like wisdom as the first, and if they were admitted to all things”. This is of course always the weak spot of an oral transmission of tradition. Still they weren’t ignorant of their ancestors and of the continuity of the fraternity. What they weren’t sure about was whether they had received the entire teachings as developed by the founder and his fellow assistants of the first row.
Thirdly, we have the reference to a “Philosophical Bibliotheca” which amongst else contained the works referred to as Axiomata, Rota Mundi and Protheus. These clearly are a reference to books written by the founding generation of fraters. Later the Fama says regarding the heptagonal Tomb:
Every side or wall had a door for a chest, wherein there lay diverse things, especially all our books, which otherwise we had, besides the Vocabular of Theoph:[rastus] Par.[acelcus] Ho.[henheim] and these which daily unfalsifieth we do participate. Herein also we found his Itinerarium, and vitam, whence this relation for the most part is taken. In another chest were looking-glasses of divers virtues, as also in other places were little bells, burning lamps, & chiefly wonderful artificial Songs; generally al done to that end, that if it should happen after many hundred years, the Order or Fraternity should come to nothing, they might by this onely Vault be restored again.Thus all the literature ever produced by the first row of brethren the third row already did possess and made use of daily. This is clearly a reference to an esoteric transmission, i.e. a transmission which makes up a doctrine and instruction, passed on to the next generation. This transmission of knowledge also involves spiritual lineage, that is, corresponding states of consciousness which is passed on from brother to successor through the techniques of initiation. We also see that the third row lacked some which now was restored through this discovery of the Tomb. This also becomes clear if we proceed in the narration of the discovery of the Tomb:
Now as yet we had not seen the dead body of our careful and wise father, we therfore removed the Altar aside, there we lifted up a strong plate of brass, and found a fair and worthy body, whole and unconsumed, as the same is here lively counterfeited, with all the Ornaments and Attires; in his hand he held a parchment book, called T [wrongly rendered as “I” in the English translation] the which next to the Bible, is our greatest treasure, which ought to be delivered to the censure of the world.Thus now the esoteric transmission was completed with the discovery of the Book T. However, the third row wasn’t lacking in teaching. They did possess the entire philosophical library of the Fraternity; they were its custodians. They were the custodians of the Rosicrucian teachings and heritage. As such they surely did possess certain qualities which was the result of initiation and spiritual lineage.
It has to be remembered that lineage isn’t about a signed paper. At least that part of formalism is not the crucial aspect of lineage, which is a later freemasonic understanding of the concept of lineage (remember that the Fama was written well before the emergence of Freemasonry). True lineage is about being taught by a line or succession of teachers, which also imparts certain qualities of spiritual attainment. Surely, the rules of the Fraternity taught that every brother had to find a suitable pupil to whom he would teach the dogma and practice of the fraternity to make him into a Fr.R.C. The author and his companions were acquainted by at least one member of the second row (Fr. A) who in turn had been taught by a member of the first row (Fr. D) whom he had succeeded. Fr. A. later imparted N.N. and the other members of the third row with some knowledge of their ancestors. That is, he gave them a initiatic transmission. The Fama emphasises the need of a line of succession with this sentence:
After that A. in Gallia Narbonensi was deceased, then suceeded in his place, our loving Brother N.N. this man after he had repaired unto us to take the solemn oath of fidelity and scerecy, he informed us bona fide, That A. had comforted him in telling him, that this Fraternity should ere long not remain so hidden, but should be to all the whole German Nation helpful, needful, and commendable; of the which he was not in any wise in his estate ashamed of. The year following...he had performed his School right.Before Fr. N.N. was able to enter the house of the Sancti spiritus and its ranks he had to be chosen by one of the fraters of the second row as his successor. The last sentence of that paragraph also hints at the collage of the Sancti spiritus as a working academia of occult learning in which Fr. N.N. received his full education. Thus the collage of initiates embodied a living tradition which imparted initiation and spiritual lineage.
So, does the Fama actually deny the concept of lineage? Certainly not! On the contrary, it establishes the concept of succession and of “row”, that is generations. The Rosicrucian Fraternity is a chain of generations, succeeding the previous generation and spawning the next generation of initiates. This is a clear concept of lineage. Fr. N.N. and his fellow brethren wouldn’t be allowed to enter the house of Sancti spiritus, an apt metaphor of the fraternity, would they not had been chosen as successors, because this building according to the Fama:
although one hundred thousand people had very near seen and beheld the same shall for ever remain untouched, undestroyed, and hidden to the wicked world.Only the initiates are able to spot the Temple of the Holy Ghost who do possess the spiritual discernment to see it, who thorough initiation has been given a second sight which goes well beyond that of the first sight of the profane.