23 August 2020

ROSICRUCIAN AMERICA

Steven Sora. Rosicrucian America - How a Secret Society Influenced the Destiny of a Nation. Destiny Books, 2019.

It is mid-August 2020 as I complete this review. I've been thinking a lot about America in these past few months. Here in the UK we get news from there every day, and it's usually not good. These are strange times, with pandemic lockdowns, rising unemployment, economic hardship, violent crime and social unrest in many places, but nowhere more so than the most prosperous nation on earth, the United States of America.
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The racial divisions that have plagued the country from its beginning seem to be greater than ever. While reading this book, which reveals the motivation of good men here in England to establish a New World based on equal human rights and liberty, I kept asking myself: how did it go so wrong?

This book's title surely in itself raises expectations of an in-depth study of the esoteric principles behind the establishment of the United States and its founding fathers, who we generally assume to have been Freemasons. The Rosicrucian angle is intriguing, but the most important aspect is in the subtitle, which offers the prospect that reading this book can aid understanding of 'America's destiny'. No one can deny that it became the most powerful nation on earth in financial and military terms, but in recent decades we have sadly seen catastrophic abuses of that power, at home and abroad, tarnishing its once great reputation.

However, despite providing a mass of fascinating historical details, and some controversial theories, the author really has little to say about the nation's 'destiny', nor any comment on how it has turned out, so far, compared with its initial high ideals. His main theme is, after all, the building of a new nation under enlightened government, and the excitement of a fresh start free from the perceived tyranny and unfair taxation of British rule. 'We the people' is the famous opening phrase of the US Constitution, showing the sincere commitment of these revolutionaries to build a true democracy whose power comes equally from each of its citizens.

Steven Sora specialises in researching historical enigmas. Two of his previous books are The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar and Secret Societies of America's Elite. The latter book claims that modern-day America is controlled by a powerful elite with secret associations. In Rosicrucian America he takes a deep look at the historical and esoteric sources behind the British colonisation of America. It examines some of the personalities, secrets, and intrigues of the court of Queen Elizabeth I, during whose reign England began its long rise to becoming a world power.

This is much more 'Rosicrucian England' than America. We do not arrive there until the final quarter of the book. It is an entertaining journey with detours and diversions, giving the impression that the author wrote some parts as 'stand-alone' articles. There is a slightly hybrid quality about this book, comprising partly known and proven history, and partly dramatic speculation. Its opening paragraph succinctly states its main theme:

"History, as we have been taught it, implies an America born from the grassroots movement of a large populace striving for freedom of worship as well as freedom from high-handed taxation. The truth is that a very small handful of individuals with lofty goals was the party responsible for seeking these freedoms. This group consisted of alchemists, geomancers, and philosophers, many of whom met in secret and risked everything on their new venture."?

Two figures emerge as leading lights of this 'secret group': Dr John Dee (1527 - 1608) and Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626). The author names several other luminaries of the day who were associated, including Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Hariot, George Chapman, and Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland. He describes them generally as "the writers, the scientists, and the explorers who influenced England to join in on the race for the New World". England was, of course in competition with such powers as Spain, Portugal and France.

Sora displays an amusing turn of phrase in epitomising the leading nations' overriding motives: "The Spanish sailed for gold and silver. The French sailed for furs. The English came to America to re-create Avalon and create the New Atlantis, and because it put idealistic notions in the forefront, it achieved a different type of success." 




There is of course some contradiction to this neat summary later on when he describes the great success of Francis Drake at robbing Spanish galleons of their gold and silver while they were returning to Spain. This was with the full authorisation of Queen Elizabeth I, who badly needed income for her exchequer to fund England's defences against persistent threats of Spanish invasions. Walter Raleigh was also in it for profit as well as glory, investing heavily in his own and other voyages to the New World, and developing the colony which became the state of Virginia, named after the Queen's most precious attribute, for (supposedly) remaining a virgin all her life.

For anyone not familiar with John Dee, Sora describes him as "a wizard, an alchemist, a prophet, a writer, a magician, a cartographer, and a spy". Not bad for an introduction to England's own Renaissance man, a genuine polymath, and Sora shows his understanding of Dee's importance in history by referring to him throughout the book. It is no exaggeration to say that without John Dee there might not have been a British Empire. He not only coined that term but influenced its development by advising Queen Elizabeth I to build a strong navy. That was not only for defence, especially against the Spanish, but also as a means to explore the world and colonise it, in particular the New World.

Perhaps the most important point, made convincingly in this book, is that John Dee persuaded the Queen that Britain had the legal and moral right to colonise the New World on the other side of the Atlantic. Two major parts of the case were that King Arthur's Avalon (his final resting place) was there, and that Prince Madoc of Wales had voyaged to North America in 1170. In what is now Mobile Bay, Alabama, an "odd monument" was erected there in his memory. Part of the inscription says that he left the Welsh language with the 'Indians'. Later explorers, including Sir Walter Raleigh himself, were indeed reported to have heard certain Welsh words being spoken by some tribes of the native peoples.

So, as the author concludes from these and other historical reports and references, "Madoc. . .beat Columbus to the New World by 322 years". The author provides extensive evidence of 'pre-Columbian' contact with the New World, all the way from Vikings to Knights Templar and Henry Sinclair, whose voyage to the Americas in 1398 is covered in great detail. Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, and the Sinclair (or St. Clair) family deservedly receive a whole chapter devoted to the clues that they embody. The building, dedicated in 1450, famously bears carved images of aloe vera and corn from the 1398 voyage. Such plants were unknown in Britain at that time. Moreover, the chapel combines 'pagan' images with Christian ones, and "is also replete with symbols of Freemasonry, including the Apprentice's Pillar, the Journeyman's Pillar, the Master Mason's Pillar, and other Masonic devices". William St. Clair, who founded the chapel, was a member of the Knights Templar and hereditary grand master of all the Masons in Scotland.

But what about the claims of Spain and Portugal to the New World? "Given this proof of English precedent on American soil, England could then let the Spanish know that they were not swayed by the church's Papal Line of Demarcation, an arbitrary line that granted most of the New World to Spain and Portugal. A key part of the pope's language in making this papal decree implied that where discovery had been made it exempted countries from his papal line."

Knowledge and wisdom from trusted advisers were what the Queen needed to help her rule the nation in a most turbulent time of history. She consulted John Dee for advice on any matter of an esoteric or scientific nature. At her request he had drawn up her astrology chart and determined the most auspicious date for her coronation, 15 January 1559. Over the years of her reign he remained her loyal trusted friend and adviser. She visited his home in Mortlake by the River Thames, a short way from the palace in Richmond where she often resided.

Dee's home became a centre of learning and the latest discoveries. He famously collected the greatest library in Britain, comprising over 4,000 books, rare manuscripts, globes, maps, and scientific instruments. He was the 'go to' man for any information on expeditions and navigation. One explorer who consulted Dee was Martin Frobisher, in preparation for his first voyage, in 1576, to cross the Atlantic in search of the fabled 'Northwest Passage' from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But Sora makes an egregious error by stating that Dee "sailed aboard Martin Frobisher's adventure to Northern Europe".

Another inexplicable error occurs in the Appendix, entitled "John Dee's influence on Ian Fleming and his James Bond character". There is much of interest here, including the '007' moniker, but anyone who knows the outlines of Dee's life would be puzzled to read "Fleming's mother sent him to the Continent when he was about nineteen, the same age as John Dee when he went to Moscow." John Dee never went to Moscow, although his son Arthur lived there for several years as a physician to the Tsar. For the record, Fleming went to Moscow in 1923, at the age of twenty-one, and worked there as a journalist for four years.

John Dee was almost certainly the inspiration behind Prospero, the magician character in Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest, written in 1611. The correspondence is only partial, as Dee was a wise Christian magus who used communication with angels only for sacred knowledge and never for personal power or control of others. In the play, Prospero uses magical power to right the injustice done to him, with revenge in mind, but in the end forgives his enemies after demonstrating his supernatural potency.



Sora provides a fascinating section of material showing that the island setting of the play is Bermuda. "The most remarkable passage of The Tempest is found in Act 1 when Ariel visits the 'still vexed Bermoothes'". Some of this material is based on a long report in a letter written by William Strachey in July 1610 after finally arriving in Virginia. He had been aboard the Sea Venture when it was shipwrecked off the coast of Bermuda. It was the lead ship in a fleet of nine carrying a total of six hundred settlers to reinforce Jamestown, the first city in England's colony of Virginia. The fleet was hit by a hurricane on 24 July 1609 and the ships were scattered. Evidently, Strachey's report with its details of the strange phenomena in Bermuda was seen by Sir Francis Bacon in London. Bacon and Strachey were friends, having both studied at Gray's Inn. Sora contends that Bacon was the main author of the play.

An interesting angle taken in this book is that John Dee was a mentor to Francis Bacon. There is some evidence that Dee, towards the end of his long life, passed on his secrets to Bacon, as it were 'passing the torch' to him. When James I came to the throne, "Dee was on his way out as Bacon's star was rising". Sora asserts that both men, who were renowned for their scholarship and publications, also wrote much 'Rosicrucian' material in secret, anonymously. He goes into some detail on this and the possible whereabouts of lost, secret manuscripts. One manuscript that did come to light, in 1626 after Bacon died, was his Utopian novel New Atlantis. This may be interpreted as his blueprint for North America as the New World, a land of religious and political freedom.

One of Sora's controversial theories, although not new, is that Francis Bacon was actually the secret son of Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, based on circumstantial evidence. Known facts are that Elizabeth and Dudley were childhood sweethearts, he was her favourite at court, she was obviously in love with him, and he often stayed overnight with her, as reported by the Spanish ambassador. His wife Amy Robsart had a fatal accident in her home while alone, having sent all the servants out for the day to attend a nearby fair. She and Robert had been estranged for a while, so it certainly was suspicious that she fell down the stairs and died instantly from a broken neck. All kinds of rumours abounded, but the coroner and a jury declared it to have been an accident. Even so, Dudley's reputation was severely damaged. The year was 1560, and Sora argues that Queen Elizabeth was already pregnant with the child that was born the following year in secret.

Sora claims that child was brought up as the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, but was aware of his true royal lineage - and the need to keep it absolutely secret. "How had Nicholas and Anne Bacon been chosen to oversee the young Francis? Lord Burghley, Elizabeth's chief adviser, had married Mildred Cooke. Mildred's sister Anne Cooke became Anne Bacon when she'd married Nicholas Bacon. So Burghley simply picked his sister-in-law as guardian, and, as history will show, as 'mother' of Sir Francis. In this, Cecil, Lord Burghley, again ensured his position as the center of Elizabeth's world. He knew where the bodies were buried, and he knew secrets that could threaten the queen."

A major part of Rosicrucian America is concerned with the thorny and complex question of the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Sora is totally convinced that William Shakespeare could not have written the plays and sonnets named after him, claiming that he was illiterate and did not have even a single book in his possession when he died, as indicated in his will. He goes into lengthy textual analysis to support his claim that Bacon was one of the main authors within the 'Rosicrucian' group of learned men who used William Shakespeare as a 'front man' for their thoughts. Other leading members of this group included Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and Christopher Marlowe. None of this complex theorising is new, as scholars have debated the 'Shakespeare authorship' question since the middle of the nineteenth century.

What does seem to be new is the author's shocking and convoluted theory of the cause of Shakespeare's death in 1616. He asserts that Ben Jonson, seemingly a friend of William Shakespeare, poisoned him on behalf of Sir Walter Raleigh. There was a report of Shakespeare dying after a night of 'hard drinking' in Stratford on his 52nd birthday, 23 April 1616, with Jonson and fellow playwright Michael Drayton. The author's character profile of Jonson portrays him as a rough and violent man, not at all a typical poet. He had been a bricklayer, then became a mercenary in the Lowlands. There he had killed a soldier from the opposing side in hand-to-hand combat, and back in England he killed another man in a duel. So, he was proven to be capable of murder. But why would he want to kill Shakespeare?

The author's theory depends on several factors. "Jonson had become the single best friend that Sir Walter Raleigh had. . . Shakespeare may not have been aware that Jonson had become his most outspoken critic. . .the full extent of the enmity that both Jonson and Raleigh felt for Shakespeare would never be known to the Bard". Back in provincial Stratford for several years, he had lost touch with the London scene. Raleigh had been held in the Tower of London for thirteen years since 1603, the year that James I came to the throne, having been unfairly convicted of treason in a plot against the king. Jonson had often visited Raleigh in his cell, and helped him to write his History of the World. Now Raleigh was finally about to be released. If he had a personal grudge against Shakespeare, according to this bizarre theory, it went back to 1592 when he fell out of favour with the Queen.

Raleigh's enemies in the Elizabethan court, which Sora describes as a 'snakepit', were headed by Bacon and Essex. That faction wanted a 'New Atlantis' for the New World, based on altruistic principles. Raleigh and Drake, on the other hand, were more interested in self-enrichment. The 'Bacon faction', supporting Shakespeare as their front-man, wanted to put Raleigh out of favour with the Queen. They succeeded in this endeavour by accusing him of atheism, a serious charge, and by portraying him most unfavourably by pointed allusions in some of their 'Shakespeare' works. This theory depends on Raleigh not knowing the true authorship behind those works, and indeed, if true, it remained a very well-kept secret.

Another reason for Raleigh to fall out of favour with the Queen in 1592 was totally his own fault, as it came to light that, in the previous year, he had secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. The wedding was rather rushed, as the romance had resulted in pregnancy. As the Queen insisted that her ladies remain unmarried, it would have been far better to confess and ask her forgiveness. Instead, "the pregnant Elizabeth Throckmorton made her excuses and left London for her family home". That home was near Stratford, close to where Mary Arden, Shakespeare's mother came from, and the two families were related. So, as in a good detective story, the author finds reason and motive for Raleigh to blame the Shakespeare/Arden family for his fall from favour, by revealing the secret wedding in some way that reached the Queen's ears.

On the 'authorship' question, without going into the scholarly arguments, a few points are worthy of mention. While Francis Bacon was a student at Gray's Inn, he created the Order of the Helmet. "The helmet was actually the headgear of the goddess Pallas Athena, whose epithet was 'shaker of the spear.' Pallas is from the Greek word pallo, meaning 'to brandish' or 'to shake'. Notably, the helmet of Athena, a gift from her uncle Hades, gave her the ability to be invisible." There was an elaborate ritual for initiates in which 'shaking of the spear' was intended to threaten and subdue 'dragons of ignorance'. Sora goes on to explain that Bacon used the quality of invisibility throughout his life, being the invisible man behind many written works, as well as being the founder of Rosicrucian and Freemasonic orders.

Bacon was adept at creating secret codes, and one such example appears at Psalm 46 in the King James version of the Bible, completed in 1610, when William Shakespeare was 46 years old. In that Psalm, the 46th word from the beginning is 'shake', and the 46th word from the end is 'spear'. As Bacon had influence within the committee overseeing the translation, he could well have arranged this cypher, but of course there is no proof. 

The above examples are just a taste of the kind of diverse information to be found in this book. It paints a colourful and complex picture of elite circles in England in the Tudor and Jacobean era, just as expeditions and voyages of discovery were being made to the New World. In 1578, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother to Walter Raleigh, was granted a six-year license to explore North America. In September 1579 he laid claim to Newfoundland in the name of Queen Elizabeth, and other land later known as New England. In 1580, Sora tells us, "he gifted John Dee all of Canada and Alaska that was above the 50-degree latitude". We are not told what Dee did with the gift, but Gilbert perished at sea in a storm near the Azores.

John Dee inspired further voyages of discovery, and in 1602 a cousin of Sir Francis Bacon, Bartholomew Gosnold, was authorised to found a colony in New England. The choice was Newport, Rhode Island, where Henry Sinclair had founded his short-lived colony in 1398. Gosnold named Cape Cod, for the great cod fishing in the area, and Martha's Vineyard after his infant daughter. That may seem like moderate success, but he failed to locate the 'Refugio' of Henry Sinclair. Back in England, he obtained an exclusive charter from King James I to form the Virginia Company, and in 1607 he sailed with 107 colonists, landing at the fort in Jamestown.

Sadly, Gosnold died only four months after they landed, and within a further month, 67 of the original 107 were dead. We can only imagine what hardships they endured. Sora states that "of the twenty thousand individuals who would ultimately be sent to Virginia, three quarters of them died - a death rate greater than that of the plague. Those who settled in swampy areas where brackish water led to disease met unpleasant fates. The Indians knew better than to live there, but they did hunt there." To make matters worse, many of the colonists fought amongst themselves. Some were drunken sailors, others debtors and convicts or labourers pressed into work groups off London's streets. Nevertheless, "Virginia would claim the right to be the first permanent settlement".




On 11 November, 1620 the Mayflower carrying the Pilgrims rounded the tip of Cape Cod and entered the bay. Having set off from England with high hopes, a bleak picture emerges. "The Puritans started with a utopian vision of a new Zion. Instead, they battled with each other and were reduced to stealing the natives' corn." They settled in a place they called Plymouth, by the harbour, but by the end of 1620, fifty-two of the first group of just over one hundred Puritans were dead. Other groups followed, settling colonies in Massachusetts and Connecticut. "In 1647, Rhode Island put together a constitution that didn't require church membership as a prerequisite to voting. Whereas the Plymouth Bay colony had failed, Rhode Island had succeeded. It was not a utopia, but the colony was stepping in a utopian direction."

The city of Williamsburg, Virginia, is particularly significant in the development of America as the New World. "The layout of Williamsburg and all the associated Rosicrucian and Masonic symbolism indicate that Jefferson may have been carrying out a plan set into motion by Sir Francis Bacon." Thomas Jefferson had clearly inherited Bacon's plan for a New World, built according to various alignments. This plan would be echoed later in Washington D.C. and other prominent cities. Of these, Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, stands out.

"Perhaps no man did more to ensure that Bacon's vision and the Rosicrucian tradition found a firm foundation in the New World than William Penn. He is the founder of Pennsylvania and the guiding force to bringing the tradition to America." Penn crossed the Atlantic in 1682 with a vision of a new 'Babylon', a city between two rivers, in this case between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. The city was laid out in a gridiron pattern with particular alignments to the sun twice a year. Penn invited thousands of fellow Quakers and members of German sects to his city. In 1694 the Pietists arrived, led by one Johann Kelpius, "proving himself to be a charismatic mystic who brought medicine, music, and magic to this break-off Protestant sect. They would heal the sick without charge, a key Rosicrucian tenet. Similar groups formed and settled there. "Wave after wave would arrive, the Mennonites, Hutterites, Swiss Brethren, Schwenkfelders, and Amish, fleeing religious persecution or war."

By the time of the American Revolution, many of the leaders of the nation were Freemasons. The author observes that "the majority of them wanted nothing more than to be able to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". But, he adds ominously, they also included those who would benefit financially from restrictions on trade, tariffs, and taxes. And, quoting Masonic scholar Manly P. Hall, "They received aid from a secret and august body existing in Europe which helped them establish this country for a peculiar and particular purpose known only to an initiated few."

He identifies four men, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Thomas Paine as leaders "with more than mercantile interests". Some were Freemasons, but whether they were Rosicrucians is a moot point. The main point is really that they were guided by enlightened principles and "their overall motive was getting out from under the political and religious yoke of Europe". As so often happens with revolutions, the initial ideals do not hold and corruption creeps in. The Civil War and the assassination of Lincoln were the result of "escalating tensions pertaining to race relations". Secret societies such as the Knights of the Golden Circle attempted to create one large slave state. When Albert Pike took over, he became the driving force behind the Ku Klux Klan.

America today seems to be in a greater mess than ever. Forces seem to be at work to destabilise the country, but to what end? Sora closes his final chapter with a sober warning of the possible meaning of the ten 'rules' for humanity on the Georgia Guidestones. They are quite recent, having been revealed to the public on 22 March 1980. The 'commands' have aroused great controversy, in particular the first one, to limit the population of the planet to under 500,000,000, "in perpetual balance with nature". That number is half a billion, compared to the seven billion current population of Earth. Some have speculated that this represents a plan to exterminate most of the world's population. The pseudonym of the man who commissioned the stones, R. C. Christian, corresponds with Christian Rosenkreuz, the founder of Rosicrucianism.

Is this a message from the globalist 'New World Order', or a crackpot fringe group? Whichever way we look at it, this is a time of major crisis for America and the world. We need to use discernment to understand what is really going on. The America that John Dee and Francis Bacon envisaged as the New World, or 'New Atlantis', bears no resemblance to the present reality. Does America still have a chance of achieving this 'destiny'? All is not yet lost, but the 'American dream' has turned into a nightmare. In that case, this is a wake-up call to all of its citizens. Individual liberty has never been so precious, but this time a different kind of revolution is needed, a spiritual one. We on this side of the Atlantic would love nothing more than to see America re-born as the 'New Atlantis'. Anything is possible. -- Kevin Murphy

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have Soros Secret Society book--very astute observations. Thanks for this thorough and enlightening canvas of his Rosy book; makes me want to give it a try. Destiny is such a loaded word. Is it the sum of our best (or worst) dreams made real? It doesn't seem to be something as controllable as a motor boat, more like a kayak without a paddle??? One thing more important than a paddle is the gumption we bring for the ride. I agree, America is in a tizzy. We were/are a nation of individuals, pioneers, rebels, and puritans--what a combustible mix. The enlightened can only put out so many fires.
Utopia and Atlantis are similarly loaded and hard to define words. Someone once proposed Atlantis wasn't a lost isle or continent. It was a place and time in our future--something we strive towards. Look forward to your next review!