Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Rosicrucianism in New York

by the Rev. James Henry Wiggin

[Reprinted from The Liberal Christian (New York) September 4, 1875, p. 4.]

The science of the "Rosy Cross," we read about in Bulwer’s "Zanoni," and in various histories ancient and modern. Of late its study has received a fresh impetus.


that a brotherhood of occultists has existed and still exists, reaching perfection in the far East; hating black magic and encouraging white; that Jesus belonged to it and initiated into it John, who wrote the Apocalypse; that Jesus died at forty-seven instead of thirty-three; that he was an Essene and studied pure magic in India; that in the fraternity’s archives are preserved grand records of truths about men and nature, which shall be revealed to the world when it righteously hungers therefor; that Rosicrucians can work what are falsely called miracles, by their knowledge of the true essence of things; that in Siamese temple-worship the dead are brought to life, the young grow suddenly old and the old young, women dance in the air; that some of the Rosicrucian disciples never die, having the elixir of life; that they possess the philosopher’s stone; that gold rings can be brought today, and are, from rose-buds; that human bodies can disappear and reappear at will; that they can float in the air; that flying is as easy as to dream it; that the fraternity, seen and unseen, control the fate of nations; that its members directed Washington through his few degrees of freemasonry; that they paid the six milliard Prussian war debt of France; that they control the Carbonari, (secret society), of Italy; that all nature is subject to their decrees through their knowledge of divine laws. These claims are set forth in print, as is also


God dwells alone and is unapproachable. Souls pre-exist. They enter bodies at birth for developing discipline. It is the operation of the undeveloped spirits who have not yet been born into this world and have no consciences, that make the vagaries of Spiritualism and their demonized revelations. Only by conformity to God’s law can truth be reached. Only the pure are entitled to it. Prestidigitateurs like Houdin and Hermann have not the true power, but Magicians have it in the farther east.


It is a little startling to find oneself associating with those who possess, or claim to possess, such powers, and are linked with Count St. Germain, Cagliostro, Philalethes, Flood, Roger Bacon and a hundred ancient astrologers and worthies, and to hear of superiors and inferiors in the brotherhood. Yet there are the statements put forward by those who constitute what may be called the aristocracy of Spiritualism. Of late Rosicrucianism has been brought to the front by the advent in the States of a Russian baroness, Madame H. P. De Blavatsky. It was just after Col Olcott’s astounding stories in the Sun about the floral gifts received from the spirits through a Boston medium, that I was kindly bidden by my friend Mr. Sotheran, of the American Bibliopolist, to meet both Madame and the Colonel the following evening in Irving Place; with permission to bring some friends.


Col. Olcott is well known as the author of "People from Another World," and its account of the Eddy manifestations at Chittenden, Vt. His experience as a lawyer and a war detective might be supposed to guard him against deception, and he stands newspaperial fire nobly. (1)

Il Conte, the Secretary once of Mazzini, a representative of Italy’s needs and wrongs, commands interest by his fund of general information.

Mr. Sotheran harmonized the elements.

Judge M., of New Jersey, represented the judicial mind, and his poetic wife graces any gathering.

There was present also a Boston gentleman whose name has figured in Col. Olcott’s reports. Mr. M. has been in many lands, travelled miles by the hundred thousand, is a practical scientist, served his country in the suppression of the African Coast slave trade before the war, journeyed with Livingstone, loves his many flowers, which love him back again, and brings a store of things new from his treasury. It was for him that the heather had been brought spiritually from Scotland, and it was pleasant to hear the story from him. The centre of the group was


who is certainly a most original and interesting woman to meet. The journals have complained of her cigarettes, but Orientation fastens many habits upon tourists. Madame speaks English with a strong accent, but with remarkable fluency and accuracy, distinguishing nicely its delicacies and quickly understanding its allusions. She wears the military jewel described by Col. Olcott --- brought, as is averred, from her father’s Russian tomb to her through a spirit who talked Russian, in presence of the Eddys. She said she valued it more than any ornament except her fantastic Rosicrucian jewel which she wore about her neck. She is perhaps forty years old, strong-built, brusque and generous appearing. Interesting were the stories she had to relate about her residence in Asia and Africa --- like Lady Mary Wortley Montague, living long away from the sight of European women. Marvellous were her narratives of her attempts at commerce, selling a cargo for cocoanuts which the unseaworthy ship could not bring away. Strange sights had she seen among the tribes of sorcerers in Africa; a negro, who, by black art, could submit to seventeen shots while the muzzle touched his body, causing each bullet to describe a triangle, spin into the air and finally bury itself in the earth; and a child whirled about in the air by invisible hands.


It would be discourteous to detail the minutiae of a friendly conversation where there was no attempt at publicity or magic display; or offer notions about it. The Phallic element in religions; the souls of flowers; recent wonders among the mediums; history; Italian character; the strangenesses of travel; chemistry; poetry; Nature’s duality; Romanism; Gravitation; the Carbonari; jugglery; Crook’s new discoveries about the force of light; the literature of magic --- were among the topics of animated discussion lasting till after midnight.

If Madame Blavatsky can indeed bring order out of the chaos of modern spiritism she will do the world a service. Col. Olcott declares that till he met her he had no philosophy which could adequately explain the contradictory phenomena he witnessed, but now he sees "confusion, order in his path."


Meanwhile occurs this suggestion. If Siam and Hindostan have possessed this sacred truth, why are they so behind the age in their progress? Without it, behold what the Anglo Saxon has done for the earth and himself. Nor does it require a profound observance of the moral and humane condition of the Occident as compared with the Orient, to conclude that whatever we may lack in metaphysics, we are in no wise behind in the practices of the domestic virtues and philanthropy. Yet far be it from any mind to doubt that there may yet be something more to learn; "more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy."


(1)  These last three words appear in the original copy of this article.---BA editor.