My first experience of real, as opposed to “spiritual” Alchemy, was somewhere in the late 90’s and through the Humid or Wet Way of The Red Dragon, as thaught by an Adept of the Alpha et Omega and initiate of the Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix, or Elder Brethren of the Rosy Cross, commonly referred to as the F.A.R+C. Since then I have been very fascinated by the particular path of F.A.R+C but also to some extent by the organization itself. The myths and stories about its origins are particularly colorful and a bit typical of hermetically sealed Rosicrucian Orders, who often create fantastic stories about their origins and lineage when they do speak openly of it; it comes with the trade.
The F.A.R+C is a Templar and Chivalric Order which traces its origins, like the Gold und Rosenkreutz, to Templar refugees in Scotland. It is said to have been created in 1316 by 33 Templar Knights, and in particular the brethren Guidon de Montanor and Gaston de la Pierre-Phoebus, who practiced the Alchemical Arts they had received in the Orient from their eastern brethren, i.e. Arabic Sages. In the Legenda des Freres Aines de la Rose Croix the author Roger Caro lists amongst others the following individuals as their former Imperatores and successors to the supposed original founders: Robert Fludd (as the 33rd Imperator, between the years 1623-1630), Lord Bulwer Lytton (as the 51st, between 1849-1865), Eliphas Levi (as the 52nd, 1865-1874), William Wynn Westcott (as the 53rd, 1874-1892), Felix Leigh Gardner (as the 54th, 1892-1898), and Rudolf Steiner (as the 55th, between 1898-1900). While this list of course is a fantastic tale, and nothing more, it at least tells us something about which historical figures influenced the people behind the formation of the F.A.R+C. It is interesting to note two Golden Dawn Adepts amongst these people, i.e. F. L. Gardner and founder W.W. Westcott.
It is difficult to confirm the specific year when the F.A.R+C was founded. But according to some the first modern appearance of the Order was initiated by a Kamala-Jnana (who according to some was Jean Deleuvre and according to others Roger Caro), as the Temple Initiatique Alchimique d'Ajunta, in the late 60’s but according to its own published sources as early as in the late 50's. One of the last achievements of this first form of the Order was the publication of the book The Complete Great Work in Photographs, which shows the Path of the Red Dragon, or the “Cinnabre” Path, in full colour photographs during the entire process of creating the Red Powder, or Philosopher’s Stone, and the White Stone. This book shows a silver ingot and a gold plate, transmuted by these white and red stones. Although without the necessary keys, which only is received through initiation, nobody will be able to recreate this process.
Some say that Roger Caro became the new Imperator after Deleuvre’s death and then changed its name into Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix or F.A.R+C. Its headquarters were in Paris and allegedly it only contained 33 official members, adhering to the Templar myth of the 33 founders. But there also existed unofficial bodies attached to the headquarters in Paris. There existed also a “Collegia Al-Kimia” which spread more openly, beyond the limited circle of the F.A.R+C, some aspects of their alchemical doctrines.
In 1973 the organizaton decided, according to specific Rosicrucian rules, to be “asleep” for 25 years. But, as it seems, Roger Caro continued with the sister organization or side body of the F.A.R+C called «l`Eglise Universelle de la Nouvelle Alliance» (E.U.N.A.), or Universal Church of the New Alliance, a clerical Rosicrucian organization founded in 1972 and steeped in the tradition of Roman Catholicism. This organization seems to have stopped all Alchemical activities after the death of Roger Caro in1992.
Today, since the set time frame of 25 years has elapsed, there has resurfaced a Belgian branch of the Order calling itself the Ordre Souverain des Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix, with Philippe de Coster as Grand Master. As I don’t know very much about this latest particular branch and revival of the F.A.R+C, I cannot personally verify its lineage and authorization, but it seems to operate the Order according to traditional forms as set forth by Roger Caro. It has also been republishing the books of Roger Caro, which may easily be found on the internet. Since then also this following document has been circulating on the internet, which must be regarded as the official version of the founding of the F.A.R+C. The original is in French but I have made a tentative translation of it, thus:
The question that immediately should be raised is, who was this “Prelat” which approached Roger Caro and his 32 associates? According to a recent suggestion this was an emissary of Max Heindel’s Rosicrucian Fellowship, which allegedly was using the name of Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix for its inner group. Perhaps he was but I suppose the only people who really know the truth about this matter would be the original 33 companions. And until anyone of them will come forward and corroborate this new information we, in my humble opinion, must suspend all our judgments. What we do know however is that according to the Rosicrucian Fellowship of Max Heindel’s, there did exist an Order called Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix that was created in 1313, which is reminiscent of the “Legenda” of Roger Caro. However there is a major discrepancy as there is no Templar connection in the Max Heindel version, who asserts that the founder was Christian Rosenkreutz himself and 12 of his associates.Chapter VIII
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE E.U.N.A.
One could almost begin this history as with a fairy tale. Fifteen years ago, a group of friends gathered together to explore a very large subject of common interest, since the Hermeneutics is a science that aims to explore all the ancient texts.
It was decided that these 33 researchers should study the branches of their choice, some plunged into Astrology of St. Thomas Aquinas, others into the medical books of the Bishop of Regensburg, others into dowsing, and others into the Royal Art of two popes: Clement V and John XXII, and many other clergy, such as Blessed Raymond Lulle, Basil Valentine, Dom Pernette, etc..., etc... All members of our group had one thing in common, they were all Catholics.They took the name of Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix [Elder Brethren of the Rose Cross – transl.] because one day a Prelate visited them to demonstrate that the studies they were persuing were similar to the F.A.R+C Order, of which he was the chairman for over 40 years. Having satisfied our 33 friends, he took them under his wing, and at his death his great friend Roger Caro was elected as the head of the Order. However, as it held meetings only twice per year, it was decided that all Members should meet in St. Cyrsur on Wednesdays, and that each session should begin with a Holy Mass. Unfortunately, there was no clergy amongst the 33 brethren of the F.A.R+C and each time it needed to appeal to a priest from the outside, living in Salon-de-Provence. But one day, that support was lacking, and the Hermetic Order could no longer performe the Mass. But Heavenly Providence looked with favor, and, as Roger Caro had published numerous articles relating to both Roman Orthodox theology (He had been educated for years by Bishop Dahane and Professor Mohlbwerg of Rome in the Vatican) he was surprised to receive a letter from Belgium from the Primate of the l'Eglise Rosicrucienne Apostolique [the Rosicrucian Apostolic Church – transl.] (a direct descendant of St. Evode - 1st bishop consecrated by St. Peter at Antioch) and learned that he had been following his clerical journey and his articles on the Royal Art ... and that if he wanted, he could come to St. Cyr to be received into the Order and become its representative in France. After several exchanges of letters, the agreement was concluded, and on 10 June 1972, Archbishop Raymond Toussaint transmitted the minor and major to R. Caro, his representative in France. During the following months (while our group took the name «Eglise de la Nouvelle Alliance» [Church of the New Alliance – transl.]) while being subject to the Church of R+C in Belgium, leaflets and books were published. That's when the confusion starts, because when our Church was granted its promised autonomy, everything changed radically, but inwardly as we were not financially able to republish our books.The Mass of St. Pius V replaced that which we had been given by Bishop Toussaint, and succeeded to slightly modify the previous Pontifical Topics... In short, we became Catholic, following the Roman Law in all matters relating to the rituals, sacraments, prayers, offices, etc ... and the Gallican Right for everything that is administrative.
E.U.N.A. was registered on October 12, 1972, in the Prefecture of Toulon and was published in the Official Journal on 19th of the same month, page 10991.
On August 15, 1973, it was admitted to the «Collège Episcopal de Archevêques et Evêques de Siège de l'Eglise Catholique Gallicane» [Episcopal College of Archbishops and Bishops of the Headquarters of the Gallican Catholic Church – Transl.]. (Bishop Truchemotte Patriarch of the Gallican Catholic Church).
ENA being ecumenical, Bishop Caro did not hesitate to exchange sub Conditioner consecrations with many Prelates Friends, which permitted the achievement of the 32 Intercommunication days with sister churches of the same faith ... because we are pure, a sub conditioner re-consecration was never given or received with other intentions but to “strengthen ties between churches”, in other words to get or give new apostolic succession was in some way equivalent to enter or bring a friend into her own family. He had this point clarified once and for all.
As to our professed faith, the seven chapters are quite explicit ... but it is good to conclude this booklet to summarize our beliefs.
Furthermore there has previously been raised more serious allegations regarding the founding of the F.A.R+C. According to these sources a Forrest Barber, a Templar researcher and Gnostic priest, got hold of some papers from the 17th century belonging to the descendants of Pierre Duese, the brother of the notorious Pope Clement V who dissolved the Order of the Knights Templars. This brother was however supposedly behind the establishment of the Order of Christ in Portugal (the direct descendent of the Knights Templar, who also sponsored Christopher Columbus and his expedition over the Atlantic), as well as being responsible for sending his nephew, Cardinal Jacques de Via, on a mission to Scotland to bring back to France a number of high-ranking Templars to form the Frères Aînés de la Rose Croix. Allegedly Roger Caro used these documents to create a historical legitimacy for his F.A.R+C. I haven’t done any in depth research behind these allegations, but to me it all seems like conjectures and speculations. I suppose Roger Caro took the real facts about the story behind the “Legenda” with him to his grave.
Obviously these allegations raised against the F.A.R+C contradict each other. And what if it was true that Caro used some documents to create a fraud, or that there never existed an actual “Prelat” from the Original Rosicrucian Order? It wouldn’t be the first time that a Rosicrucian organization was dishonest about its true origins; remember the story about Westcott faking his letter correspondence with the alleged German Adept Freulein Sprengle? Still we must regard the Golden Dawn as a genuine Rosicrucian body, regardless of Westcott’s fraudulent behavior, as it carries with it a genuine Rosicrucian and Hermetic esoteric transmission. As the Golden Dawn tradition cannot be the sole result of the creativity of two eminent scholars, i.e. S.L. MacGregor Mathers and William Wynn Westcott, because of its complexity and beauty, the F.A.R+C Alchemical tradition cannot for the same reasons be the sole invention of Roger Caro and Kmala Jnana.
The only conclusion that we can make about this French organization is that one cannot be sure about anything regarding its true origins, as it was running a very secret operation. It was and still seems to be a very veiled organization and therefore we are only limited in using whatever information is coming from the organization itself to base our opinions. And as I already have stated, the legitimacy behind the F.A.R+C cannot rest solely on historical autencity but rather on its esoteric transmissions, i.e. its practical Alchemy being taught. So let us finally examine the particular Alchemical teachings and processing of the F.A.R+C.
The particular Way as taught in the F.A.R+C is the Wet or Humid Way, as opposed to the Dry Way that uses vulgar fire in the Athanor. The Wet Way instead uses the “secret fire”, which is a Salt. This creates a much longer but more gentle approach towards the Great Work, compared to the Dry Way which is much more intense and shorter. Another difference is the matter of choice, the Materia Prima. The Wet Way of F.A.R+C uses the “Read Dragon”, as opposed to the “Black Dragon” or “Grey Wolf” (i.e. Antimony) often used in the Dry Way, such as taught by Basil Valentine and Fulcanelli. The Red Dragon of course being the ore Cinnabar, which is a red stone and a Mercury sulfide, i.e. naturally containing both Mercury and Sulphur.
This use of Cinnabar gives a direct hint towards the possible origin of the Path of the Red Dragon, i.e. China. Chinese Alchemists are well known to have used the Cinnabar to create life-prolonging elixirs, mainly used by the Chinese Emperors. However as some of these died by Mercury poisoning, eventually the Daoist “internal” Alchemical tradition was created as a substitute for the “external”, i.e. the practice of Qi-Gong. Unfortunately, mercurial poisoning was also quite common amongst the initiates of the F.A.R+C, which illustrates the dangers associated with this path if not handled with care.
But it seems as Indian Alchemists of the Araya Vedic tradition also used Cinnabar. So this prime matter has a long-standing eastern tradition behind it, which eventually must have been exported to the Middle East through the Silk Road and eventually found its way to Europe, perhaps as has been suggested by the Templars. In my opinion the Templars may have been the important link between the Arabic speaking Sages and Alchemists and the later Western Hermetic tradition. So legends created by the founders of any Order may contain grains of truth in them, however fantastic they may seem to us at face value. Remember that this Templar origin of the Rosicrucian tradition also were used in the 18th Century by the Gold und Rosenkreutz, and then again one Century later by the Memphis & Misraïm Rite.
It has also been suggested to me that this work with Cinnabar came down to Kmala Jnana and Roger Caro from the mysterious Alchemist Cyliani. This was transmitted mainly through G F Tiffereau, who allegedly brought a piece of gold from Mexico, which he claimed to have manufactured by the Art. Tiffereau managed to persuade Jollivet-Castelot and his acquaintances, which seems to have created a French Alchemical tradition that eventually found its way into the hands of Kmala Jnana. If one reads the only book written by Cyliani, Hermes Unveiled published in 1831, and compare it to the Kmala Jnana path they are both wet or humid paths and are very similar operatively, or almost identical. So there in fact exists a tradition of the Red Dragon prior to the F.A.R+C that in my opinion validates the particular form as taught by Kmala Jnana, and much more than any “Legenda” or story about a “Prelat” concocted in the minds of Roger Caro or anyone else.
According to this noble and ancient process of the Royal Art, the Mercury and Sulphur contained in the Cinnabar is gently separated using the “secret fire”. Now this Secret Fire is the most guarded secret of the F.A.R+C. It is composed of the enigmatic Sanskrit words Kshàra, Ogás, and Hingula, which are abbreviated into the letters “KOH”. However this in not an ordinary KOH as may be suggested but must be procured through a special process of preparation which has never been revealed in detail, to my knowledge. Even some members of the F.A.R+C got this compound wrong, as this witness attests regarding one of them who:
…clearly did not know how to accomplish the stone but instead was willing to settle for appearances. The missing key was the liquid salt (one of the fires) that decompounds the original cinnabar without external heat to produce living sulphur and mercury. (Note, this salt sounds like the Universal Menstruum of Urbigerus, or the Spirit of Philosophical Wine of Lully or the Alkahest of Philalethes, but is not ordinary KOH solution, which does not accomplish the separation.)Another enigmatic term used in the F.A.R+C is the “philosophical month”, which does not correspond to any ordinary month of 30 days. Of course this key is also needed to be able to proceed correctly with the operation. The entire process takes approximately 28 philosophical months to complete. And besides a species of “Potable Gold” it is supposed to produce the Philosophers Stone.
But the real attracting aspect of this process for me is that it is so beautiful and according to my own teachers wonderfully connects to the Hermetic Inner Alchemical tradition by analogy. According to the Portuguese Alchemist Rubellus Petrinus this path of the F.A.R+C processing is the most noble of all “external” Alchemical paths. Personally I concur with this view and do further believe the Wet Path of the Red Dragon to be on a higher arc of working compared to the Dry Path of the Black Dragon, and intermediary stage to working with the “internal” Ways of Hermetic Alchemy.
I recommend reading the material written by Rubellus Petrinus on his own webpage regarding the Wet Way of the Red Dragon, as they shed some more light upon this process. According to him, he was initiated into its mysteries by a French Adept of the F.A.R+C. This is also the only way to learn this process safely and accordingly, through the word of mouth and ritual initiation.
The F.A.R+C introduced a Seven Degrees initiatic Masonic style system that taught the entire process in steps. Before the initiate were eligible for advancement into the next Degree he had to prove that he had finished the part of the F.A.R+C process as related to his Degree. As an example, to be eligible for advancement into the Second Degree the initiate had to have produced the peculiar Salt or Secret Fire of the Philosophers. As I stated earlier the college of the F.A.R+C was restricted to only 33 initiates which would practice mainly this form of “external” alchemy, but apparently there also existed, according to some, another even more shadowy college of 12 adepts who themselves practiced the “internal” way.
As can bee gathered from the above-cited brief history it is quite obvious that the F.A.R+C was working within not only a Christian framework but also a Catholic one. This is clearly seen in its use of the allegory of the life and ministry of Jesus as metaphors for the different stages of Great Work itself. So it is clear that the F.A.R+C was in fact working within a traditional Rosicrucian paradigm, which always has been favorable to and integrated with the Christian tradition. And as the history of the German Gold und Rosenkreutz Orden (which predated the F.A.R+C by three Centuries) clearly shows, the Rosicrucian tradition had already left its original antipapal stance and hostility towards the Catholic religion, evidenced in the original two Manifestos, only one Century after their publications. As I myself have a Catholic background the F.A.R+C tradition obviously has a special place in my Rosicrucian heart.