The strong ties between the Sabbatian Qabalah of Jacob Frank (1726–1791) and the Golden Dawn has already been established and substantial evidence put forth in my previous essays, such as The Sabbatian Qabalah and its relation to the Golden Dawn, The Sabbatian roots of the Golden Dawn which is also corroborated by the scholarly findings of Olen Rush, which I have quoted at length in The origins of the Qabalah of the Golden Dawn and The Frankist Qabalah. We thus know that Frank’s cousin Thomas von Schönfeld (1735-1794), a.k.a. Moses Dobrucshka or Junius Frey, was one of the founding members of the Asiatic Brethren, which was the short name for Brotherhood of St. John the Evangelist from Asia in Europe. So here we already have a strong link between the Qabalistic Frankist movement on one hand and the Rosicrucian Asiatic Brotherhood on the other.
So the question still remains. Was the link between the Frankist and Rosicrucian movements only maintained by the intermediary of the cousin von Schönfeld, or was there a more direct connection? Was Jacob Frank himself a Rosicrucian initiate?
In the wake of my previous essay regarding the Golden Dawn and conspiracy theories, where I discussed the possibility of Jacob Frank being a Freemason and Rosicrucian, some very interesting information surfaced. First we have to make clear that there were in Germany two great Rosicrucian fraternities, the already mentioned Asiatic Brethren but also the Gold- und Rosenkreutz Orden. Actually, the Asiatic Brethren was a schismatic offshoot of the Gold- und Rosenkreutz Orden, created in 1780 by Hans Heinrich von Ecker und Eckhoffen, who previously had been an initiate of the latter and much older organization. Together with Hebrew Qabalists, such as Ephraim Hirschfeld and Thomas von Schönfeld, he created the Asiatic Brethren as a much more eclectic version of Rosicrucianism compared to the much more Christian Esoteric orientation of the Gold- und Rosenkreutz. If Jacob Frank was to belong to anyone of these two big name Orders, he would naturally has been a member of the former. But was he actually?
First off Terry Melanson presents some tentative information which might point to this effect:
…some tantalizing clues are found in [Alexandr] Kraushar’s Jacob Frank: The End to the Sabbataian Heresy (University Press of America, 2001). […] when he discusses Frank’s activities in Brunn (or Brno), Moravia, […] we read such things as: “Franks activities involved … alchemy: successfully persuading his followers that there were certain herbs that, when spread over iron, transmuted that metal into gold; also that there was a ‘certain substance’ giving eternal life…” “Before the element of magic was used by Frank in an attempt to practice alchemy for the purpose of creating gold, the master passed for a doctor, restoring health to the sick by the use of means known only to him” (296); “…when he was feeling better, he began to think about ways to locate new sources of income, to create gold through alchemy. He reminded himself how he had toiled over alchemy with Rabbis Issachar and Mordechai…” (303); “he gathered his brothers, and encouraged them to pursue the knowledge of how to make gold … At Frank’s court, there began the preparation of ‘gold drops’ as a medication ‘for all diseases’” (304).As I already have stated in the previous essay, this fascinating account of Jacob Frank’s dabbling with Alchemy doesn’t present any actual proof of him being a Rosicrucian. Alchemy was very popular in Germany during the 18th Century, as opposed to France where the enlightenment had ended the openly practice of the Royal Art, which by now had became superseded by modern medicine. But the situation was very different in Germany where Alchemy prevailed and probably were as big as Homeopathy is today in 21st Century Germany. So, even if the practice of Alchemy was a sign of the true Rosicrucian, most Alchemists probably were not. So we have no proof yet of Jacob Frank being a Rosicrucian, even if the plausibility has been raised.
All this takes place while in Brno from the mid-1770s to about 1786. There’s no mention of alchemy or gold-making, before or after. […] the fact that Frank started speaking of alchemy and gold-making during his stay at Brno is significant and worthy of further investigation.
Now, Olen Rush, who has asserted that Jacob Frank was involved in Freemasonry, has presented some fascinating information independed of any Freemasonic connections which corroborates Mr. Melanson’s earlier account:
Yaqov Frank did indeed practice Alchemy. He had Alchemical laboratories first in Brunn and later in Offenbach. It is also significant that Frank stated in the “Book of the Words of the Lord”:So here we have established the idea of a strong Alchemical tradition behind or parallel with Lurian and Sabbatian Qabalah, through Rabbi Chayim Vital (who according to Mr. Rush wrote on the subject of Alchemy) and Chelebi Raphael Joseph, the latter being a possible link of a Jewish (i.e. non-Rosicrucian) Alchemical transmission between the Lurianic and Sabbatian Qabalah. We already know that Jacob Frank in fact was working with Alchemical processes for the ten year period while in Brunn and then afterwards also in Offenbach. These facts alone surely makes his brand of Qabalah as very suited for mixing with the Rosicrucian-Alchemical tradition. But still non of this is any proof of Jacob Frank being a initiate of the Rosicrucian tradition in the real sense of the word.
”Just as the entire world seeks and wishes to make gold, so I wish to transmute you to refined gold”.
This was taken to be an instruction to his disciples (Ma'aminim).
However, there is another tradition that most likely had some influence in the circle of the Asiatic Brethren.
Rabbi Chayim Vital, of blessed memory was the direct student of the G_dly Light, Rabbi Isaac Luria (the “Arizal”), may his memory last forever. Rabbi Vital recorded the teachings of the Holy Arizal. He also practiced Alchemy. After Rabbi Vital passed away, his son Schmuel was the “guardian” of the teachings of the Holy ARI, and his father's (Rabbi Chayim Vital) writings. Schmuel was a guest for some time at the home of the Chelebi Raphael Joseph in Egypt. The Chelebi was one of the first and foremost supporters of the Messiah, “Shabtai Tzvi”. There is a long standing Alchemical tradition in Northern Africa, particularly in Morroco, and especially in Fez. There was also an Arabic Alchemical influence in these same areas with some crossover to the Jewish Alchemists... as late as the 1920's.
If we also note that Lord Frank was closely allied with the Donmeh Circle that emerged from Osman Baba (Baruchiah Russo), there is also a possibility of a combined Arabic and Jewish influence from the Mystical groups within Islam. Particularly, since they were closely allied to circles of Bektashi Sufis. Now there are interesting activities of the Donmeh in certain “guilds”, and there is also Frankist and Donmeh involvement in Free Masonry. As Lord Frank stated in “The Book of the Words of the Lord”:
”Now Freemasonry will have to do what those two did” (paraphrase).
The two being referred to are:
”The First”, i.e. “Shabtai Tzvi”, and
”The Second”, i.e. “Baruchiah Russo”.
These were repeatedly called “The First” and “The Second” by Frank. These were the first two Avatars of the Sabbatean Faith that were originally contained within their “Shell” (i.e. “Yeheshua Ben Meriam”).
Now, if we begin to examine the “Aesch Mezareph” it will be seen that in many ways the book requires a Lurianic interpretation to make sense […] often resembling some of Vital's descriptions in several parts...
The syncretic methods of the Frankists are evidenced by their unique synthesis of the Mystical aspects of all 3 Abrahamic Faiths. It is very plausible that because of the interconnections of this group and their underground network of communication that a similar process occurred with the Alchemical aspects of the Asiatic Brethren, and more specifically with Lord Frank.
What’s interesting though is that I myself have seen many parallels between Lurianic Qabalah and Alchemy, having knowledge of both systems. “Arzial” is very Alchemical in his exposition of the Qlippoth and the description of the Restoration, which ideed can be compared to the Alchemical principle of Solve et Coagula. The freeing of the sparks is clearly analogical with the sublimation of Sulphur and Mercury, and the purification of the Salt from the Caput Mortum. The Caput Mortum actually representing the Qlippoth. Thus Lurianic Qabalah comes into new light or becomes easier understood through the analogy of Alchemy and Spagery. So all these obvious connections, both in history and in theory, has now established a clear Alchemical nature in Lurianic Qabalah, which was transmitted to the Sabbatian and especially Frankist Qabalah. But again, what all this proves is that there has always existed a Hebrew Alchemical tradition parallel to the Hermetic-Rosicrucian Alchemical tradition. But could there also have been a connection between these two in some point of history?
Its very likely that Jacob Frank at least was involved in some form of Freemasonry, as he made some references to it in his writings, one previously quoted by Mr. Rush and the other thus: “[The] G_ds of FreeMasonry will have to do for us now”. I furthermore found a very interesting reference to a “Freemasonic Lodge” on the Donmeh West forum written by Professor Harris Lenowitz:
In 1786, having bankrupted Brunn, he [i.e. Jacob Frank] moved to Offenbach and carried on in the same manner, appearing in public, but always in a state of pomp and ceremony, and in an exotic costume; he was the pet of the Prince of Ysenburg. During the years in Brunn and Offenbach Frank was closely tied to the founders of the Freemasonic lodge known as the Asiatic Brothers, contributing ideas to their constitution and adopting some of the practices, garb and style of Freemasonry.Holy cow! So if Professor Lenowitz is correct about this information Jacob Frank was directly involved with the founding and operation of the Rosicrucian society known as the Asicatic Brethren, who were created six years prior to him moving to Offenbach. No wonder he practiced Alchemy in Brunn and Offenbach! The Asiatic Brethren continued the Rosicrucian Alchemical tradition of the Gold- und Rosenkreutz, at least to some extent. So, considering these facts as presented by Professor Lenowitz, we must conclude that Jacob Frank not only practiced Alchemy for at least a decade, but that he himself also most probably was a Rosicrucian initiate!