The Rosicrucian Enlightenment
As Plato postulated an ideal world of FORMS, of which the Nature we perceive on Earth is but an imperfect reflection, so the Invisible Fraternity of the Rosy Cross was Protestant Europe's ideal for the arising of a New (Protestant) Christ to lead the forces of Reformation against the Catholic Church, the Hapsburg dynasty, and the Catholic Kings of France, Spain and beyond. Astronomical "signs" (a major conjunction in the 'fiery trigon' of Sagittarius of Saturn and Jupiter in October 1604) which seemed to give birth to a bright new "star" in in the constellation Ophiuchus gave rise to prophesy. Observed by Johannes Kepler and now known as Kepler's Supernova, it was much more widely publicized than the first supernova observed by Tycho Brahe in 1572, and such philosophers and Protestant prophets as Giordano Bruno, Tobias Hess, Adam Halsmayr,Johannes Bureus, Caspar Schwenckfeld, Guillaume Postel, Christoph Besold, Helisaeus Roeslin and Simon Studion paid a price for their religious - political speculation on these astronomical events. Avoiding there fate, Johannes Valentinus Andreae AKA Christian Rosenkreutz wrote and published anonymously.
The movement began in medieval Germany when 3 books by Christian Rosenkreuz were circulated anonymously among the Humanists of Europe. They were Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC), 1607 (read it at http://www.levity.com/alchemy/fama.html) , Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC), 1616 (read it here http://www.levity.com/alchemy/confessi.html) and in a slightly different style, the Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreutz anno 1459 (Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz) was published 1616 (read it here http://www.levity.com/alchemy/chymwed1.html) and seems to be the work of Alchemist Johann Valentin Andreae. While the 1st two contain some alchemy, this last book is defined by it. The first announces the Secret (?) Brotherhood and gives it's pedigree, from the Wise Men of Egypt. Despite originally starting his pilgrimage for Jerusalem, the Holy land of Jesus' birth and the manifestation of The Christ, the Hero, CRC or Christian Rosenkreutz (The Christian Rose and Cross) travels to " Ciprus" aka (Cyprus), then "Damasco", aka Damascus Syria, then Egypt, then Fez (Northern Africa), before returning to Germany. So, from these "Outsider" sources, Islamic sources and older Greek documents preserved by Arab translation from Alexandria, are supposedly the source of these "Christian" occult teachings, rather than strictly Old Testament Qabalah or New Testament traditions. That is the "history" presented, makes these teachings as exotic to the Germans of 1600 as Tibetans would be to the British of the 1850s, and Egyptians to the 1880s.
But with the exception of some Astrology and Astronomy from Abu Ma'shar, the teachings were solidly from the Judean Qabalah, the Science of the Renaissance, Apocalyptic Protestant prophesy and Medieval magic from such scholars as Dr John Dee, Pietro d'Abano, Cornelius Agrippa and the legend of "Solomon's House, which Francis Bacon published in New Atlantis (read it here http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2434/2434-h/2434-h.htm}. Francis Barrett produced a widely circulated compendium of the magic that had preceded him (read it here http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/magus/).
The First book, Fama Fraternitatis RC, seems heavily influenced by the Jewish legend of the Tzadiks, 10 Holy Men who travel the world, healing it and the sick for free, disguising themselves in the guise of the country in which they travel, and "traveling men" who can't stay in one place for long as people notice they do not age. One legend has it that because they were thus traveling they did not assemble in time to become the 10 Holy Men Abraham had bargained with God would be at Sodom, and the City (and four others) were destroyed by volcano, with only Lot and (most of) his family saved. But more obviously, of course, the whole movement is based on Jesus and His disciples, as the Rose (Grace) blooming upon the Cross (Sacrifice) is the formula of the Slain God.
The 2nd book, Confessio Fraternitatis, strikes a much more political, militant tone invoking, the terrible "right reward of the Romish seducers, who have vomited forth their blasphemies against Christ," . The stars themselves have foretold (the supernova of 1604) a new Messiah specifically for Protestants, armed with the Secret Wisdom to conquer the OTHER Christians, who follow a Pope.
The last anonymous book circulated, The Chymical Wedding, printed Dr John Dee's universal symbol, the Monas Hieroglyphica (or Hieroglyphic Monad) into the invitation to an alchemical wedding, which ends up involving severe trials and efforts in which "prisoners" are released from Darkness into the Light and Liberty by an elderly Matron, perhaps Sophia or Wisdom. The stages of the ordeal are alchemical ("when an ancient matron commanded her servants to let down the cord seven times into the dungeon, and draw up whosoever could hang upon it." - a fishing for Souls in the Dark), and suitable for the sort of Palace of Memory WORK of Stations of the Cross meditation used by the Rosicrucian's hated enemies, the Jesuits.
Little actual occult information was contained in these three founding Rosicrucian documents, with the exception of the Great Secret of Internal Alchemy in Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. Most of the material we think of in our times as "Rosicrucian" teachings were complied later, when the movement resurfaced in Catholic France, without the concept of a Second Protestant Christ rising to sweep the Catholics into the sea.
Much of the medical, astrological and magical work seems derived from Paracelsus and Dr John Dee, through the hermetic philosopher Heinrich Khunrath, of Hamburg. It inspired and was inspired by Alchemist Michael Maier (1568–1622) of Germany; Robert Fludd (1574–1637),Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) of England; Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, Gotthardus Arthusius, Julius Sperber, Henricus Madathanus, Gabriel Naude, Thomas Vaughan, Georg von Welling (1719), Hermann Fictuld in 1749, Stanislas de Guaita, Joséphin Péladan, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Frederick Hockley; Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, Franz Hartmann, Papus; William Backhouse, Carl Kellner, Theodor Reuss, John Yarker, Oswald Wirth, Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, and many others.
P. B. Randolph, brought Rosicrucianism to the Untied States as the (Fraternity of the Rosy Cross or FRC) after the Civil War. Its Leaders have been Paschal Beverly Randolph AKA P. B. Randolph (1858–1875), Freeman B. Dowd (1875–1907), Edward H. Brown (1907–1922)R. Swinburne Clymer (1922–1966), Emerson Myron Clymer (1966–1983), Gerald E. Poesnecker (1983–2003), William Kracht (2003–Present). They are located in Pennsylvania.
Another distinct line in the USA is A.M.O.R.C AKA the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, 1915. Founded in New York City, they moved to California where they are now located, and run a mail order teaching program. It was founded by Harvey H. Spencer Lewis, who was succeeded by Ralph Maxwell Lewis, Gary L. Stewart and Christian Bernard. It's European pedigree came from two members of Papus' Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Croix, probably Joséphin Péladan and Emile Dantinne, though possibly Stanislas de Guaita. If after 1890, Peladan's schism group, the Catholic Order of the Rose Cross, the Temple and the Grail may have been AMORC charter's Source. We can discount any thoughts of Stanislas de Guaita working with Joséphin Péladan after that time, who had identified the RC with an existing Catholic Church.
Max Heindel founded The Rosicrucian Fellowship (1909/11) in Mount Ecclesia, Oceanside (California) following Theosophical as well as Rosicrucian themes. Deciphering his pedigree, his claims to have received a charter in Europe, perhaps from Franz Hartmann, has never been authenticated. His Rosicrucian strain has a lot of Theosophy mixed in, along the lines of Madame Blavatsky.
C.C. Zain AKA Elbert Benjamine founded The Brotherhood of Light, was became the Church of Light in 1932, focusing primarily on Astrology, but addressing many occult subjects in a distinctly Rosicrucian Way. This strain also came indirectly from P. B. Randolph via Max Theon's Philosopie Cosmique student Thomas Burgoyne's book The Light of Egypt, which won some wealthy patrons in California, Henry and Belle Wagner.
Many Occult organizations, including the Golden Dawn and OTO, consider themselves descendants of the Rosicrucians and many different Rosicrucian organizations have existed throughout time and this index. As the movement spread, it split into the more Natural Science organizations of the Royal Society of London, the more social form of Freemasonry, and the more spiritual style of organizations such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Highly recommend The Invisible History of the Rosicrucians: the world's most mysterious secret society by Tobias Churton, 2009, The True and Invisible Rosicrucain Order by Paul Foster Case, and The Secret Teachings of All Ages: Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy by Manly P. Hall, 1962, as well as the many excellent websites and documents linked to in this and other parts of the Esoteric WIKI. If you have lots of patience, see http://www.sacred-texts.com/sro/rhr/index.htm by A.E. Waite ; https://mega.co.nz/#F!oJ1zFRIQ!Q8XwbgvRMYodloqnbL8RZQ ;