The oldest of the major orders in America’s twentieth-century Rosicrucian revival, the Societas Rosicruciana in America (SRIA) came into being in 1907 as the result of a schism in the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF), the American branch of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (also, confusingly, SRIA). The older, English SRIA admitted only Masons in good standing to membership. Several leading members of the SRICF’s Boston College, led by Sylvester C. Gould, argued that its teachings should be available to non-Masons. After a series of disputes over this issue, the Boston College broke away from the SRICF and reorganized itself as the Societas Rosicruciana in America. Gould was its original Supreme Magus, but on his death two years later Dr. George Winslow Plummer (1876–1944) took charge of the organization. See Rosicrucians; Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA).

The English SRIA was by no means the only influence that fed into the teachings and traditions of the new order. Gould himself was an initiate of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (H.B. of L.), one of the major occult secret societies of the 1880s, and brought H.B. of L. materials into the American SRIA. Gould and his associates were also in close contact with American lodges of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The resulting system of occult study and practice was sufficiently complex that Plummer established a correspondence course for members. In the process, he invented the standard model for occult secret societies in twentieth-century America, with a correspondence course to attract and train members, who joined or founded local lodges (in the SRIA, Colleges) once they had completed a certain level of training. The program was a resounding success and was imitated by dozens of other orders. See Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (H.B. of L.); Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Like most American secret societies, the SRIA lost members and momentum in the second half of the twentieth century, but managed to survive, and in the last decade of the century it began a modest revival. It remains active as of this writing.


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


Leave a Comment