A centuries-old secret society is hanging out in Facebook groups

 A centuries-old secret society is hanging out in Facebook groups

What do you do whenever you’re a centuries-old secret society seeking to develop your membership? Make a Facebook group.

Centuries in the past, Rosicrucians had been solely in a position to preserve their society by their capacity to be invisible. However over the previous a number of hundred years, the world has modified — and, together with it, so has the necessity for Rosicrucians to remain shielded from the general public. Now, they’re discovering new methods to attach, by pivoting away from secrecy with the assistance of probably the most public instruments they may discover: Facebook, Zoom, and YouTube.

A starting in science fiction or actuality?

When it was first based in the early 1600s, the lethal 30 12 months Struggle was ravaging Europe. It was being fought primarily over faith, and, whereas the Rosicrucian Order is not precisely a faith, it is a system of research to know pure legal guidelines. A few of its doctrine consists of references to Kabbalah, Hermeticism, alchemy, and Christian mysticism. So, like different religions on the time, they needed to maintain their group personal for worry of persecution.


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“It was a really difficult time in Europe’s historical past,” Julie Scott, the Grand Grasp of the Rosicrucian Order, advised Mashable. “It was simply so superstitious. And so the Rosicrucian manifestos had been printed anonymously.”

Within the early seventeenth century, the primary bits of Rosicrucianism started popping up in the type of nameless pamphlets in Germany, which claimed {that a} group of individuals had been secretly working to remodel European politics and faith. However there’s a variety of drama surrounding whether or not, when the pamphlets had been written, Rosicrucians truly existed, or if it was just a few elaborately written pamphlet of science fiction.

Jon Crowley, a novelist who studied Rosicrucianism for a few of his many books based mostly off of the order, has argued that the books had been seemingly works of fantasy, not based mostly off of lived experiences. However he acknowledges that it is troublesome to know a technique or one other.

“No one might actually observe them down as a result of no person would admit to being one.”

“The thought of an organized physique of people that all belong to this group and stored themselves secret, although they could have introduced that they find out about a narrative a few group that is the Rosicrucians — they will announce that that physique or that group exists, however they by no means admit that they belong to it. It’s extremely arduous to determine it out,” Crowley advised Mashable. “And that is what made it much more mysterious that there have been these our bodies of very scholarly, probably magical or magician-like individuals. And no person might actually observe them down as a result of no person would admit to being one.”

Past the rumors

Whether or not they began as a secret society or as a piece of fantasy, the outcome is the identical: A group started to type that believed the pamphlets to be true. They had been influenced by mystical Christian orders, and they’re additionally linked to the beginnings of the Freemasons. Greater than 400 years later, there are nonetheless members in the present day — simply test Facebook.

“We’re a philosophical group and, Rosicrucians, we’ve got members everywhere in the world the place individuals are free to apply the custom of their alternative,” Scott mentioned. “And we research pure legal guidelines in order that we will dwell in concord with them. So, we find out about the most effective time to do issues, the easiest way to strategy issues, whether or not it is meditation or growing our instinct, in order that we get into the pure rhythm of no matter it is we’re approaching.”


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“We research pure legal guidelines in order that we will dwell in concord with them.”

Because the years handed, the invisibility that when supplied the group with an armor of safety was now not needed. Finally, they moved absolutely into the general public eye, full with shiny journal adverts in the Seventies. In the present day, you possibly can watch their public talks on YouTube, Zoom into an experiment, or be part of one in all dozens of regional and nationwide Facebook groups.

Whereas lots of the Facebook groups are personal, members can be part of any of them. And anybody can turn out to be a member.

“Anybody could be a member and we’ve got moderators who guarantee that any person who’s not a member is not becoming a member of in order to promote their product or one thing like that,” Scott mentioned. “So the primary factor is we wish individuals to really feel welcome and included and simply to have the ability to observe what Rosicrucians do and the way we strategy the world.”

The Facebook web page the Rosicrucian Order AMORC, which anybody can like and comply with, has greater than 300,000 followers. The biggest personal Rosicrucian Facebook group, which it’s important to be granted permission to hitch, has 17,000 members. Not the entire followers are members of the Order, and it is principally a spot to do what you do on another community-based Facebook group: arrange meetups, put up quotes written in cursive script on inventory picture backgrounds, and argue playfully in the remark sections in regards to the artistry of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Then there are the handfuls of pages made for Rosicrucians in particular areas, which, Scott says, are actually the place the facility of Facebook lies for them. “The power of Facebook is it connects individuals domestically,” Scott, who joined the Rosicrucian Order in 1993, mentioned.

Olisa Okanime runs the group’s native social media in Georgia and moderates a number of thousand individuals on social media, she advised Mashable. She loves the work she does with the Order, however is striving to extend their social media attain — “particularly to nonmembers.”


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“We have now blockbuster on-line occasions proper now that cater to the wants of members and nonmembers alike,” she mentioned. “For instance, we’ve got a weekly teleconference that is hosted by our lovely Grand Grasp, Soror Julie Scott. It’s an incredible expertise. You need to test it out — nonmembers can attend.”

Karen Wark, a member who works on the Rosicrucian Order’s nationwide social media presence, advised Mashable by way of electronic mail that “Facebook has given us a option to join with seekers who we might not have been in a position to earlier than,” like those that dwell in rural areas. And, in response to Wark, their membership has “elevated considerably” since they launched their primary Facebook web page in 2009.

“We have now Rosicrucian members from everywhere in the world and with the ability to join with one another in Facebook groups has been actually fantastic for our members,” Wark mentioned. “Earlier than this, we might solely see one another at world conventions, which not everybody would have the ability to attend.”

“Facebook has given us a option to join with seekers who we might not have been in a position to earlier than.”

Facebook additionally helps join individuals with the previously secret society’s different on-line applications, just like the YouTube and Zoom periods they host weekly, the place a category grasp from their division of instruction presents on completely different subjects, like pythagoras or labyrinth. As soon as 1 / 4, they’ve a symposium on these platforms, the place members watch a number of completely different shows and take part in an experiment or meditation on the finish.

What comes subsequent?

It isn’t clear what the way forward for organizations just like the Rosicrucians shall be, as membership in voluntary associations has been steadily falling in every thing from church groups to Greek organizations. In line with a 2019 Joint Financial Committee congressional report, membership charges in a few of these organizations fell from 75% in 1974 to 62% in 2004. However Scott says the involvement of social media has truly helped memberships develop for Rosicrucians.

“We started presenting the Wednesday teleconferences in 2015,” Scott mentioned. “Two of our class masters felt that this is able to be a good way to achieve members who had been in extra distant areas. And we might usually have perhaps 75 to 85 contributors each Wednesday for various years. And because the pandemic, on the Wednesday teleconferences, we’ve got often between 400 and 500 contributors now, and for our symposiums that we current as soon as 1 / 4, we often max out at 1000.”

Okanime additionally says social media is serving to to extend their numbers.

“With a worldwide pandemic and no in-person actions, coupled with seasoned and coordinated experience from our Grand Lodge, we’re experiencing exponential progress in each membership and on-line participation,” she mentioned.

The pandemic seems to be one of many huge pushes to place the Order on-line. That is why they employed Jason Lopez, who joined the group in 2015, to be the communications supervisor in California.

“It’s a brand new function created by the Order to handle the rising have to adapt throughout the pandemic,” Lopez mentioned. “Our lodges had been closed however we nonetheless needed to attach our members the easiest way we will, [by] ensuring that each second spent in these attempting instances are alleviated by the teachings from the lectures we host and the content material that we produce, that may in the end create a way of neighborhood on-line, if not in particular person.”

However even with the vaccine rolling out, and in-person gatherings turning into an increasing number of seemingly, Lopez and Okanime are assured their on-line outreach will proceed to extend membership.

“The pattern has at all times been upward, even earlier than I took on the function,” Lopez mentioned. “It’s a affirmation that extra individuals on-line are trying into esotericism, philosophy, and historical knowledge teachings. Hopefully they will discover some solutions to their questions with the Rosicrucian Order.”

With dedicated social media managers and members throughout a number of states and international locations, it is smart {that a} pivot on-line might function a savior of types to their neighborhood. However their transition from current solely in the shadows to working inside one of the crucial infamously public areas in the world is a captivating alternative. With what we all know in regards to the lack of privateness on Facebook, their willingness to embrace the platforms exhibits that the group is extra devoted to the “society” side of secret society than they ever had been to the “secret.”

This text was initially printed in April 2021 and was up to date in June 2022.

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