The premier French occult secret society of the late nineteenth century, the Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose Croix (Kabbalistic Order of the Rose Cross) was founded in 1888 by leading members of the Paris occult scene, with Stanislaus de Guaita as its first Grand Master and Joséphin Péladan, François-Charles Barlet, and Papus (Dr. Gérard Encausse) among its members. It had a governing body of 12 members, 6 of whose names were made known to members; the other 6 were concealed, according to its constitution, to enable the order to recover from any future period of decay. It claimed descent from the original Rosicrucians of medieval Germany. See Rosicrucians.
The order was organized as a university of magic, and the degrees offered were Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Kabbalah, earned by attending lectures and passing examinations. This contrasts sharply with the initiatory degrees, modeled on Freemasonry, used by nearly all other magical secret societies of the time. See Freemasonry.
The order suffered several schisms in its history. In 1890 Péladan left to found his own Catholic Order of the Rose+Cross, which became famous for sponsoring art shows – the celebrated Salons de la Rose+Croix – but accomplished little in the occult field. Another split occurred just after the First World War, over the question of whether members of the order ought to be required to be Freemasons. Despite these controversies, the order remains active today in France and the United States. See Catholic Order of the Rose Cross.
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The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006