Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rosicrucian Chapel


In 1614, not that long ago, a New Age fad took over literary Europe. It was promoted by printed posters and broadsides that were pasted up on walls, and by the publication of a manuscript by an unknown author, the "Fama Fraternitatis" or "Story of the Brotherhood." This manuscript describes an occult odyssey and the quest of a secret group of spiritual seekers. In this story there appears a hidden crypt where the original founder of the group lies in suspended animation. The crypt is elaborately described, with seven sides and illustration panels all around a central altar. The images on the illustrative panels are all spelled out in astrological and mythological detail. 

When I was studying architectural drawing in 1984-85 I did some drawings of unusual buildings for practice and this was one of them. A seven-sided chamber is harder to draw than a circular one. I think I managed well enough with this one but as I drew it here it would be quite small and cramped for the worshipers. Also the amount of painted imagery on all the interior panels would be rather eye-straining. 

The interesting thing about the "Fama Fraternitatis" is that no one ever figured out who wrote it or who the Secret Brotherhood was. The "Fama" remained in print and inspired countless occult movements and esoteric orders in subsequent centuries. It is entirely possible that the original text was a hoax, although a well-written and cleverly promoted one. It shows how information, magic, fantasy, and spiritual yearning spread through a culture even without an Internet to "go viral" all over the world. 

Original drawing is pencil on tracing paper, 16" x 20", 1984-85.

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