Re: The dilemma of being a member of AMORC
Date: May 06, 2009 06:22AM
I am a longterm researcher and critic of AMORC. I think its claims to occult 'legitimacy' are questionable, even its claims to teach 'Rosicrucian' content are debatable . . . there are many Rosicrucian groups and AMORC is only one, though the largest and most public.
Particularly since the days of Dame Frances Yates and her groundbreaking book on this area, 'The Rosicrucian Enlightenment' in the early 70s, a school of study of the occult has grown in academia. This has stimulated enough research and articles to where it is possible to examine and define what 'Rosicrucian' means in a fairly objective and historical way, and AMORC often doesn't even approach that definition, in spite of occasional nonsensical attempts to threaten and cajole other orgs and play the trademark game in relation to the 'Rosicrucian' name.
Harvey Spencer Lewis, the founder of the org, some might pattern as a true mystic, others might say he was a cad, telling hysterical lies at times to build up his organisation. He was found in court to have plagiarised a lot of material that he sold to his students as 'secret wisdom.' On the other hand, it seems he didn't do anything much that would have hurt another human being; he was inventive, hugely energetic, from all accounts funny, and the organisation he set up was largely benign.
So, despite being a critic, and having had long correspondence with other critics of AMORC, eg, Robert Vanloo, Elias Ibrahim, etc, I do feel that justice demands I say the truth about AMORC when it's labelled as a 'destructive cult.' It just isn't so.
AMORC charges minor dues to the ordinary member, perhaps $US200-300 a year, for which the member receives a full curriculum of weekly lessons with practical exercises that might be encountered in any mystical tradition. It's presented in an easily digested format. It demands only a couple of hours study a week. This is small beer. $5 or $6 a week and a couple of hours for study.
Demands for funds outside the Supreme Grand Lodge dues (the fees for getting the mailed lessons) are minor. There are lodge dues if you want to attend a physical group that meets in a building; in Melbourne, Australia, the cost was about $US50? a year for the privilege. For that you got a full programme of open days on Saturday, rituals, access to a decent library - distinguished by including books by a number of authors highly critical of HS Lewis ! Hardly the mark of a destructive cult . . .
OK, there are additional conferences you might attend, courses etc, but not that many, and for most, the cost is hardly astronomical. I attended one when I was a member at Sydney Lodge. The cost was $US15 a day, and included lectures, exercises, food and tea and coffee. These events might take place quarterly. Members had gone out of their way to provide food, do the catering, and make others feel welcome. They weren't brainwashed into doing this any more than anyone in a small Catholic parish group might be. They were nice people who believed some of their system and had found a place they were spiritually comfortable. That was about it.
Occasionally you might come across someone in the group who was a bit kooky, a 'true believer' I suppose. But this wasn't because of AMORC. It's just that small groups like this do attract folk like that sometimes. Trust me, I've been a member of enough little groups to know the type!
Some of the worst of these people detached from AMORC in 1990 after the Imperator, a former rodeo clown (!) named Gary Stewart, was removed in a palace coup. He founded another group, but even though some of the old AMORC die-hards went with him, he publicly gave marching orders to some of the more noxious of them a few years ago, presumably realising the danger that fanatics pose.
Most of the members I knew were balanced, compassionate people. Most had a healthy range of interests in things outside their mysticism, and more than half were members of other mystical groups. The head of the Melbourne Lodge was a popular and well known Mason, and also a member of a group whose founder roundly attacked Lewis in the 1920s. Hank was well aware of this. It did not bother him in the slightest.
As for compulsion and manipulation, well I don't think AMORC does much of that. They do the soft-sell on some of their publications (they have a publishing arm) and sure, they'd like you to stay a member, and say as much, but fairly well leave your affiliation up to you . . . remembering that probably more than half AMORC members only interact with the group by receiving the lessons and do not affiliate with physical lodges.
Do they have some flowery promises ? Well, yeah. But what religious group doesn't ? And they do leave your beliefs largely up to you, including your affiliation with other occult orders, mainstream religions, your politics, and what you believe from their lessons.
Most of the members I spoke to believed some of what the order taught, but not all of it. One of them thought the founder was a complete charlatan and felt quite OK with venturing that view to me. Member atttitudes seemed less derived from a personality cult around the founder instead being largely dervied from having tried and tested the exercises and having found them effective in their lives. By and large, they were good people.
I think all of this needs to be recognised in any valid consideration of what AMORC is.
My biases and affiliations . . . I was a member of AMORC for 18 months to 2 years, and have been a member of other Rosicrucian and occult groups not connected to AMORC for many years. Some of the people in those groups are current or former members of AMORC. I have written a few history articles on AMORC history and examining related orders.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/2009 06:48AM by scaro.