The world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific society, the Royal Society emerged out of the underworld of English occult secret societies in the early seventeenth century. By 1645, if not earlier, small groups of English scholars, alchemists, and natural scientists had begun meeting in private homes in and near London to discuss their work. They called themselves the “Invisible College,” a term made famous earlier in the same century by the Rosicrucian manifestoes. The Rosicrucian ideal of a secret brotherhood devoted to gathering and distributing knowledge, as well as Francis Bacon’s projects for a renovation of natural science, played important roles in inspiring the Invisible College and its work. See Bacon, Francis; Rosicrucians.
After the Restoration of 1660 put Charles II back on the British throne, the Invisible College came out of the shadows. Sir Robert Moray, a Freemason and Hermeticist who became one of the Society’s founding members, played a central role in establishing it as a public body and seeking the new king’s patronage for the organization. In 1662 his efforts were rewarded by a royal charter establishing the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. The Society has continued to meet regularly since that time, and still plays an important role in the diffusion of scientific knowledge through its publications and meetings.
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