One of the many American Rosicrucian orders of the early twentieth century, the Rosicrucian Fellowship was founded in 1907 by Max Heindel (Carl Louis Grashof), a Danish astrologer and occultist who studied with Rudolf Steiner in Germany before emigrating to America. The Fellowship was originally headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, but Heindel moved operations to Oceanside, California after a visionary experience in 1910. Like most American esoteric societies of its time, the Fellowship used the successful correspondence-course model for recruiting and training members, while reserving initiation for those who had completed the introductory training by mail. See Anthroposophical Society.

The Fellowship also paralleled other Rosicrucian orders of the time by claiming a link to the medieval Rosicrucians. Heindel wrote that the material in his most important book, The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, was given to him while traveling in Europe in 1907 in a Rosicrucian temple on the border between Germany and Bohemia. The result was a long and exceptionally complex work of occult cosmology noticeably inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s works and Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, though somewhat less obscure than either. These claims brought Heindel and the Fellowship in for occasional attacks in the crossfire between two other American Rosicrucian orders of the early twentieth century, H. Spencer Lewis’s Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) and R. Swinburne Clymer’s Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, though Heindel behaved in a noticeably more dignified fashion than either of his assailants. See Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC); Fraternitas Rosae Crucis (FRC); Theosophical Society.

The Fellowship currently defines itself as “an international association of Christian mystics.” Its correspondence school remains in operation, and it also runs a publishing house and keeps several of Heindel’s books in print. Students who have been enrolled in the Fellowship for at least two years, have given up meat, tobacco, drugs, and alcohol, and are willing to renounce all other religious and occult societies except for Christian churches and fraternal lodges, are eligible to apply for the grade of Probationer and begin studies of the Fellowship’s inner teachings. It remains a quiet but active presence in the American occult community at present.


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