Rosicrucianism refers to a tradition of secret societies, originally stemming from a late medieval guild founded by Christian Rosenkreutz. Symbolized by the Rosy Cross, adherents to Rosicrucianism believe in a theology of ancient truths, including alchemy. In the 1600s, the publication of two books led to a European-wide enthusiasm for Rosicrucianism led to a period known as the Rosicrucian Enlightenment.
Christian Rosenkreutz, is a legendary and perhaps apocryphal figure who, after learning mystic secrets of the East, and founded the Fraternity of the Red Cross. The first references to Rosenkreutz, also known as “Frater C.R.C.” came in the anonymous publications The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC and The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC, which appeared in the early years of the 17th century. These publications, which described this secret organization, spread through Europe and spurred the “Rosicrucian Enlightenment,” which saw the development of secret societies dedicated to the occult.
Rosicrucianism, whether real or not, had a direct influence on the development of the Society of Freemasons. In the 20th century, Rosicrucianism continued to inspire fraternal societies. Among such groups were the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1886 by British Freemasons, the Anthroposophical Society, founded in Germany in 1913, and the Archeosophical Society, founded in Rome in 1968.