Andrae, Johann Valentin (1586–1654)
Johann Valentin Andrae, the German Lutheran pastor who
developed the legend of the Rosicrucian occult orders, came
from a line of ministers that included a grandfather who had
been among Martin Luther’s original supporters. Andrae was
born August 7, 1586, in Herrenburg, Württemberg. He attended
Tübingen University, and after graduation he became chaplain
at Stüttgart. In 1607, due to ill health, he returned to Tübingen,
where he was introduced to mysticism as a member of
the informal circle around Christoph Besold, a local devotee of
the occult, especially the Kabala, the Jewish mystical system.
During his last days in Tübingen he finished and anonymously
published the Fama Fraternitatis, the first of his Rosicrucian
publications. The following year he published the Confessio,
soon to be followed by the Chemical Marriage. By this time he
had moved to Vaihingen as the church’s deacon.
Andrae’s three volumes announced the existence of a secret
fraternity founded by Christian Rosencreutz, a high occult initiate.
The order had supposedly been founded a century earlier
and was only now being made public. The documents further
invited inquiries from interested readers but failed to give an
address or location for the fraternity. Over the next decades,
many would look in vain for the group. In 1619 Andrae published
a short work, The Tower of Babel, in which he confessed
his authorship and told his readers that the Rosicrucian order
did not exist. He apparently derived the basic symbolism of the
order from Martin Luther’s coat of arms, which had a rose and
a cross on it. However, by this time the original writings had
spread far and wide, and many did not believe Andrae’s confession.
Andrae essentially left his Rosicrucian ideas behind and
moved to Stüttgart as court prelate to the king of Württemberg.
He wrote prolifically (over a hundred books) and became a
leader of the Fruit-Bringing Society, one of several German revivalist
movements of the seventeenth century. He ended his
career at Babenhausen, Bavaria, where he moved in 1650 to become
the local abbot. He died on January 27, 1654, at Stüttgart.
Andrae’s writings have become the source of intense controversy
in the centuries since his death. Some came to believe that
he wrote about the society as a hoax, while others just as firmly
believed that he was exposing a real organization. Frustrated
at their inability to locate the fraternity, people responded to
various occultists who came forward as representatives of the
Rosicrucians, a practice which has continued into the twentieth
century. Rosicrucian orders have been founded in every century,
and beginning with the founding of the Rosicrucian Fraternity
in the mid-nineteenth century, no fewer than ten currently
existing Rosicrucian groups have been founded. In 1968 an
English edition of the Rosicrucian works of Andrae, edited by
Paul M. Allen, made them generally available to the public
again.
Sources
Allen, Paul M. A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology. Blauvelt,
N.Y. Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1968.
McIntosh, Christopher. The Rose Cross Unveiled. Wellingborough,
England Aquarian Press, 1980.
Waite, A. E. The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. London Rider,
1924.
Yates, Frances A. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. London
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.

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