Exploring Steiner’s Secret Inner Circle of 12
and the Summoning of Christian Rosenkreuz
There is a little known big story which has been passed down in some anthroposophical circles, but I will go at length since I believe it is the crossroads from which many possible esoteric scenarios could have unfolded, and from where present esoteric paths departed. The following account is not to be taken as a judgement neither to the protagonists, nor to its implications. I have thus tried to balance all polarities out, with respect to historical facts. But one should also bear in full consciousness that this is one point of view and one interpretation of the events recounted, passed on mostly as oral tradition, and should not be taken as the only one.
Right after the founding of the Mystica Aeterna in 1906 Steiner wanted to compose of an Inner Circle of 12 Adepts: they would have been selected among the cream of the European members. Among these European Adepts was the Italian esotericist Giovanni Colazza who was Marie von Sievers acquaintance, he joined the Misraim Service around 1909. Other rumoured members of the Mystica Aeterna were the alchemist Alexander von Bernus and writer Gustav Meyrink. In France there was the writer Eduard Schuré which Steiner met in Paris: he worked with him for the Mystery Dramas and even staged Schuré “Sons of Lucifer” drama at the First Goetheanum. In Russia there was the writer Andrej Belyj, which later entered in the Russian Martinist Order. And finally there was Max Heindel. Steiner was none other than his mysterious Rosicrucian Master waiting for him in Europe while he was in working in New York.
Probably at the time Steiner wanted to reinforce his local Rosicrucian presence in order to establish his Misraim Service, so he must have asked his European representatives to write a book in their own language based on the contents of his cycle of conferences published under the name of “Rosicrucian Wisdom”. It contains the essential cosmology taught in the Order. Steiner published it in German, Schuré published it in French (under the title “Divine Evolution”) and Heindel probably had to publish it in Danish, but instead he destroyed his first Danish version and rewrote it in English in order to publish it in North America without having Steiner’s approval.
So in the meantime Max Heindel went back to North America with at least some of the rituals from the Mystica Aeterna, publishing what he had elaborated on from the unpublished notes of Steiner’s “Rosicrucian Wisdom” cycle during the 1907-1908 in the “Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception“ which was first dedicated to Steiner, so “not to seem like a plagiarist” in Heindel’s words. Some time later news reached Rudolf Steiner who referenced and criticized the fact in the Fifth Gospel cycle (1913). Steiner understood every single happening as a reflection of happenings in the spiritual world, for better or worse, and this is true also in anthroposophy. Steiner felt that the new form of Rosicrucianism had to be first consolidated in Europe and then could be eventually brought to North America in the future since the American Epoch was to be the last one before the times of the Apocalypse (roughly 6000-8000 A.D.). But Heindel anticipated this move by founding the Oceanside Rosicrucian Fellowship: in the beginning he was still hoping to maintain contact with Steiner in order to build a bridge between Europe and North America, but he refused. Also the Lectorium Rosicrucianum tried to contact Steiner for an alliance, but since they were a neo-gnostic organisation, Steiner refused. This split between Mystica Aeterna Rosicrucianism and the founding of the Anthroposophical Society, is at the origin of Heindel’s claim to be the “chosen representative of the Rosicrucian Elder Borther”: the rite of the Rosicrucian Fellowship is not anthroposophical, since Steiner founded the Anthroposophical Society only in 1912 as the external bearer of the Rosicrucianism of the Mystica Aeterna – but ironically indeed it is based on Steiner’s Rosicrucianism! Even if it misses the crucial problem of the duality of evil as Lucifer and Ahriman. In fact after Heindel’s move to the US Steiner disbanded the Misraim Service, a move which Heindel interpreted as indirectly electing him as the “only” Rosicrucian representative. Steiner then refounded the Anthroposophical Society in 1924 based on the new (Rosicrucian) Michael Mysteries, but unfortunately after Steiner’s passing the Threshold in 1925 it didn’t go on due to expulsion of Ita Wegman, Steiner’s spiritual successor in the Michael School. As we can see the Mystica Aeterna was an umbrella organisation aimed to gather all the Western Mysteries in the light of the Rosicrucian Renewal, and that is why other orders, such as the Ordo Templi Orientis (through Reuss) and the Second Order of the Stella Matutina (through Felkin and Meakin) have taken some of its fundamental teachings from it.
But what was this Circle of the 12? Steiner recounts a story which has been further clarified by Maurice Magre and later by Adriana Koulias. One previous incarnation of Christian Rosenkreutz was a unnamed personality in medieval times. As a baby he which was rescued from the Albigensian Crusades (1209-1229) as the “treasure of the Cathars”. The boy was raised in the purest possible community, away from the Catholic church grasp and removed from the hardness of material life. It was required for him to be in a blank state and this is why it was necessary for him to be raised among the Cathars, whose Gnosticism regarded matter and the outer world as evil. For Steiner this spiritual atmosphere was not good for itself but only functional to the invitation which the boy had to undergo. In fact after the final raid in Montsegur the boy was taken away from France and then hidden in a Templar hideout, a castle in Austria, where he received tuition from 12 Wise Men.
These 12 had in themselves the occult wisdom of the mystical 7+5: the 7 represented the ancient occult wisdom of the Seven Atlantean Oracles, one for each sacred planet, which after the Deluge was incarnated in the Indian Seven Holy Rishis, again the pupils of the hierophants of the Seven Atlantean Oracles. The other 5 represented occult wisdom of the subsequent five cultural epochs of humanity: Indian, Persian, Egypto-Chaldaic, Graeco-Roman, and the last represented scientific knowledge of natural sciences from the fifth European epoch. As 7 they are connected to the forces of the stream of Time (7 stages of metamorphosis), but all together they are connected to the forces of the expense of Space (12 members of the Adam Kadmon). The 12 taught the unnamed kid: he grow pure and full of wisdom, and when he was ripe, around 12 years he offered himself freely in sacrifice to wisdom, so the 12 Wise Men performed a peculiar ritual on him. They poured in the kid all the occult wisdom of humanity through words of power and the result of this was that the kid was initiated in a unique way: his etheric body became translucent and his physical body transparent. The kid woke up three and half days later and he was completely changed, he gave back all the occult wisdom in a new way, not as learned knowledge but directly as thoughts coming from the heart, heart thinking. The kid died shortly afterwards this mystical event. Through his sacrifice thinking (Cross) and feeling (Rose) came together in the history of humanity, and the subsequent incarnation was then the personality known by the symbolic name of Christian Rosenkreutz. In this incarnation he had the Damascus experience of the Etheric Christ, (which should then be increasingly experienced by spiritual inclined people around 1933 and marks the advent of Esoteric Christianity). It is to be noted that story with similar themes has been told by Goethe in his Rosicrucian tale “The Mysteries” – in which the main character is named Frater Markus, reminiscent of Marc who received the Egyptian initiation from the Egyptian Ormus together founding the Osiris-Christic Mysteries from which the Rosicrucian also took from – and Steiner regarded this to be an actual spiritual insight into occult history.
The mystical initiation of the 12 was in turn an echo of the 12 Knights of the Round Table around the Holy Grail and Parsifal, the Grail Bearer. Then we see that Steiner wanted to compose the Circle of the 12 in order to summon Christian Rosenkreutz through a theurgical ritual. This is why Steiner ended any relationship with Heindel: without him he was unable to form the the holy circle which could bring to a Rosicrucian Renaissance which has been delayed because of the breaking of the 30 Years War. In Steiner’s view this happened again: he believed the ritual of the Circle fo the 12 could bring Europe in a new era in which spiritual and scientific knowledge were one, preventing the national hatred between nations (This in turn connects to the enigmatic figure of Kaspar Hauser, the Child of Europe, which would have prevented romanticism to degenerate into decadentism, but the Jesuits thwarted his deed). The First World War broke out much like after the Bohemian Revolt in which the war between Catholics and Protestants which prevented the Rosicrucian utopia to come about through Rudolph II and Christina of Sweden. Since the spiritual call was not fulfilled by humans, its terrible counter-image, its shadow, materialised.
This was also an echo of the war between King Arthur and Mordred, which ended up in not letting the Grail be manifest as a collective “Vision Splendid” for the 12 Grail Knights, but only as an individual vision of three Grail Knights. The Round Table was broken because Arthur could not fulfill his role with Guinevere, the collective Christic utopia of Camelot could not be realised, then the Grail appeared only to chosen individuals: Bors who testify the existence of the Grail to the other Knights obtaining the Grail through Hope; Galahad obtained it through Faith (he was the predestined child of Guinevere and Arthur but which was substituted by Mordred born of incest and rape); and finally Parsifal who reached the Grail through Love and then brought it in continental Europe, specifically in Germany through his son, the Swan Knight Lohengrin.
For Steiner, the Grail is the perfected human soul able to embrace the Christ, like the Sun Host hosted the Moon Chalice. And Christian Rosenkreutz through his previous incarnation had been able to make himself such vessel: in fact since the dawn of history he has been the warden of the Sun Mysteries. He has been the warden of the Solar-vegetation Mysteries: he was Cain the grower of wheat, then Hiram Abiff the builder of the Solomon Temple, then Lazarus-John the Divine the disciple whom Jesus Christ loved. Then C.R.C. attained the state of Master of Wisdom, a man who anticipated human evolution by transforming this astral body in the Spiritual Self and thus attaining the Angelic state before the rest of humanity. The Misraim Service grade structure itself was also a path for man to recapitulate C.R.C. incarnations so to attune the members to the Rosicrucian Stream. So as Christ was the 13th at the center of the Circle of the 12 Apostles and the circle of the 12 Knights of the Round; C.R.C. was the 13th at the center of the new Circle of the 12, acting as the mediator of Christ. Steiner himself was to be enlightened by C.R.C., being the Thirteenth in the midst of the Circle of the 12, while the 12 held the IX grade of “Epopt of the Illuminati”, Steiner had the X grade of Rex Summus.
Another key factor in this story is the place. In fact the theurgical summon of Christian Rosenkreutz was to happen at a peculiar location: the First Goetheanum. In the small cupola there were 12 Thrones under the 12 Cosmic Columns: these represented the occult wisdom of the Circle of the 12. Judith von Halle speaks about the original project of having Seven Mystery Dramas performed: but only four were ready before the disbanding of the Misraim Service in 1914 (due to W.W.I and the Heindel case). We again see the sevenfold stages of evolution in time and the twelvefold organisation of space. At the same time Steiner promoted his Social Three-folding to European statesman in order to realise a new form of Rosicrucian utopia: but this again failed while americanist plans went on thorough Anglo-American “fallen” Freemasonry lodges.
Since this was the second call, after the 30 Years War, Steiner considered the chance to be lost, and so the call spiritual world would recede and wait for a better time around 100-120 years (i.e. around our time, the 2014-2024 window). This is why Steiner decided that the Mystica Aeterna project had been a failure and couldn’t be realised, and following Marie Steiner’s pressure he ceased collaboration with all esoteric orders and focused only on the Anthroposophical Society, then wanting to found his own order on a spiritual-scientific basis, the Michael School of which we only have the First Class out of the planned Three (= 3 degrees). The First Class nowadays contains only the Michael gesture as a ritual opening and closing but Wegman’s notebooks tells a different story, recounting of an initiation given by Steiner himself to her as the bearer of the Rose+Cross emblem.
This preventing the Mystery Dramas to be completed had an echo in the burning of the First Goetheanum in 1922: since the building didn’t solve its sacred function, it passed on the etheric plane through fire. Another rumour linked to this event circulates in some circles: Rudolf Steiner himself on the verge of his passing the Threshold in 1925 gathered some of the closest friends and prominent Mystica Aeterna members: such as Alexander von Bernus and Gustav Meyrink, telling them he wanted to reawaken the rite. This can be again linked to Ita Wegman’s role as head of the newly founded Michael School, an esoteric school dedicated to occult development with simpler rituals. While Marie Steiner should have carried on the Mystica Aeterna with the Second and Third Classes as originally intended.
What would have happened through the final performing of the Seven Mystery Drama? The people who could attend the seventh and last drama would have be selected among the Mystica Aeterna. The ritual summoning of Christian Rosenkreutz would have been the climax where the 12 channeled the occult wisdom so allowing the Etheric Christ to manifest through the representative of humanity in the center. The selected members, if spiritually ready, would then reached for the vision of the Etheric Christ in a new, free and conscious way. This would have been the culmination of the New Mysteries foretold on the stage of the Ancient Mysteries in which theatre itself was sacred. But this has not happened and instead of having the vision of the Etheric Christ through the theurgical summoning of C.R.C. around 1933, we had the breaking of W.W.II and the horror of concentration camps (in which nonetheless there had been reports of Christic visions – see Etty Hillesum). The shadow of the unheeded spiritual call, materialised again.
Something deep and high happened in those times full of hope around the unique personality of Rudolf Steiner, the international role of the Misraim Service in Europe has been shrouded in silence and since forgotten. But in the light of this occult event in history, we can understand the difference: the First Goetheanum was NOT a cultural institution, such as the Second now, the First Goetheanum was a huge Western Mystery Temple! It was the restored Golden Temple of Hiram Abiff and Solomon in the Light of Christ. Hermann Linde was a painter, after attending Steiner’s conferences he joined the Anthroposophical Society and Mystica Aeterna: Steiner commissioned him the paintings for the First Goetheanum, and also a peculiar painting called the Golden Temple”, which shows the small cupola in the moment of the culmination of the Seventh Mystery Dramas with the Thrones Officers moving towards the imaginative experience of the Etheric Christ. From this we can infer clearly that he knew a great deal about the real purpose of the Goetheanum and the Mystery Dramas. In this painting you can see the zodiacal signs positioned over the Zodiacal Column Capitals, which in reality were not included in the organic design of the Goetheanum (designed by Steiner and Edith Maryon, a member of the Stella Matutina). Linde died six months after the arson of the Goetheanum: Steiner stated that Linde, while painting the cupola, tied his etheric body to the Etheric of the Goetheanum himself and so his life came to an end after the etheric body of the Goetheanum dissolved after its “death” on the physical plane.
The Etheric Link to Christian Rosenkreutz is missing from the present Anthroposophical Society. This is why the it is on the verge of turning into the Steiner’s Museum and not a fully esoteric movement – despite all the beautiful, genial and useful applications of anthroposophy in the world for our future evolution. The returning to the esoteric core is what Elizabeth Vreede and Ita Wegman did and now Peter Tradowsky and Judith von Halle are doing. But they suffered the same destiny: they were all sadly expelled by the more dogmatic anthroposophists in charge at the Goetheanum. They surely had huge role and merit to consolidate Steiner’s teachings and further their practical applications, but their attitude towards the more advanced members was not positive, and these were the only members prone to continue on the occult path where Steiner left, advancing in the path of spiritual science, actively versed in the inner practice of the deepest truths of the Rosicrucian and Anthroposophical stream. This somehow changed after Prokofieff, passed the Threshold and von Halle has been reinstated but the change is still tentative. This is why after the 1922 arson Steiner, heartbroken but not desperate, asked “… and now were would the the Seeker of the West go?” – Here we are.