THE ROSICRUCIAN EMBLEMS OF DANIEL CRAMER: THE TRUE SOCIETY OF JESUS AND THE ROSY CROSS
This almost unknown work by Daniel Cramer of his 40 sacred emblems should be recognized as a Rosicrucian item of great interest. This very rare book was published in 1617 at the height of the Rosicrucian publishing period, and only a year after the appearance of the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. Cramer received a short mention in A. E. Waite's Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, London, 1924, p. 234:
Little is known of Cramer, but it seems that he was, as Waite suggests, a Protestant theologian, and published various works between 1595 and 1620 including Orations on the Most Sweet Name of Jesus, a work In Memory of the Birth of Martin Luther, an essay "Against the Jesuits," The Reward through Grace, and other books of a theological nature.
In addition to the heading of the title page in The True Society of Jesus and the Rosy Cross, there are also a number of internal Rosicrucian references relating the symbols of the rose, the heart, and the cross (in particular see Emblems 19, 22, and 31). The True Society of Jesus obviously has no direct connection with the Jesuits, the 'Society of Jesus' of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as Cramer's other writings show him to be a strong Lutheran Protestant. Indeed, one of his essays was entitled "Against the Jesuits." However, perhaps we can recognize a parallel between these emblems and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola; it is quite possible that here Cramer was consciously trying to produce a series of spiritual exercises of a Protestant esoteric Christianity.
A further Rosicrucian connection is made through the publisher, Luca Jennis of Frankfurt. Jennis, who was connected with the well-known Rosicrucian publisher Theodorus de Bry, published many of the works of Michael Maier, Daniel Mylius, and other alchemical writers, and seems to have been particularly interested in publishing works using emblematic figures.
Early in the unfolding of Rosicrucian esotericism, a particular impulse arose for the ideas to be conveyed through symbols, and especially through long series of integrated symbols in the form of emblematic plates. The student had to work these symbols into his being through meditation so that he could grasp the whole series as a totality, seeing the various interrelationships between the different emblems and inwardly experiencing the process of the development of the symbols unfolded through the sequence. This was one of the ways in which the Rosicrucians revealed and yet kept secret their esotericism.
The Forty Sacred Emblems stands completely in contrast to Cramer's other writings. This series of 40 emblematic plates, each bearing a title together with a verse from the Bible and two lines in Latin, is especially connected with the heart. Cramer provided an extended meditative exercise of an esoteric Christianity based on the symbol of the heart. The heart, which is found in nearly all the plates, undergoes various processes and experiences through this cycle of 40 stages.
Thus we can see here an extended meditative Rosicrucian exercise working upon the heart-center of Man. In the Eastern Tantric tradition, the various centers of etheric forces within the body of Man were pictured as chakras or lotus flowers with various numbers of petals. The yogi meditated upon symbols and feelings associated with each of the petals of a particular chakra and thus gained awareness of the conscious use of these centers within Man's subtle body. We have here, in the Cramer Emblems, a Western parallel in this series of Rosicrucian meditative exercises that also open up the meditator to consciousness of the heart-center. These heart meditations also reveal the esoteric Christianity, which was the cornerstone of the Rosicrucian Mystery stream, for the Rosicrucians brought into the Western mystical tradition a definite current of esoteric Christianity. Thus we should see the Cramer Emblems as an important work, revealing an aspect of Rosicrucianism not always clearly perceived by commentators on the tradition.
The symbolism found in the 40 emblems is to some extent alchemical. In some plates we see the heart being placed in a furnace, in others it is weighed in a balance, at one stage various plant forms grow from its substance, and in others it is set free from various types of bondage and limitation.
These illustrations are very simple and communicate directly to the soul in contrast to many other series of emblems from the same period, which are often obscure and enigmatic and require a key to penetrate their mystery. The Cramer Emblems are a most approachable symbol system and it seems likely that this was intended as a popular book that would appeal to a wide audience, as the symbols are so archetypal and straightforward.
Perhaps we might draw a parallel between Daniel Cramer and another Protestant theologian, Johann Valentine Andreae, who is credited with writing the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. Both of these figures wrote ponderous theological tomes in the best Lutheran Protestant tradition, both were in some way drawn into the Rosicrucian movement, and both produced a particular piece of writing which stands in total contrast to their other works and which sought to popularize Rosicrucian esoteric philosophy -- Cramer with his most approachable Emblems, and Andreae with his entertaining story of the Chemical Wedding.
To the highest and most
Most high and illustrious wise Prince,
No one can be unaware of the great value placed upon the pictorial art by antiquity, unless he is clearly a stranger to reading the historians. For Pliny tells us (Book 35, Chapter I) that this art was once sought out for Kings and peoples, for the sake of those whom they thought worthy of being handed down in memory to posterity. Pliny also says that such great honor was accorded it, that nobles practiced it, and soon honorable men were taught it, not slaves, though this had always been forbidden. It is because of this art that Apelles hovers on men's lips, and
Who is there who does not know how pleasing this art has been, and still is, to Princes of our age? It is a joy, a most delightful and sweet exercise by men of talent. Who would [not] contemplate the medley of emblems represented by this art and consecrated to posterity, pleasing and skillful, by Jupiter!, as many outstanding men have employed their genius in this matter. For -- to say nothing of the hieroglyphic signs of the Egyptians, by which they depicted their wishes and intentions -- who does not wonder at and revere the labours of Alciati, Reusner and Claudius Pardinus on this study? Who does not perceive the certain, singular delight in them, while the learning is abstruse, concealed and hidden in them, like the fellow in the Comic poet, who contemplated she who reposed within the wax?
Pursuing the tracks of these men, the Reverend and most noble Master Daniel Cramer, S.S. Doctor of Theology, has shown the brilliance of his genius, although in a different subject, so far not touched upon by the rest, that is, a holy subject; and he has handed to me these emblems, which ought to be cut in copper and committed to the light. Just as he has a singular zeal and desire in putting forward these studies, so have I joyfully taken this work upon me. For I am persuaded that by new example he has gained all applause in this subject, not just because he mixes the useful with the pleasing, but because he has taken it from the pure streams of Israel.
Deservedly then, most high Prince, I have wished, and it is my duty, to dedicate all this work to your Highness, both because Master Cramer's bud of genius has been nourished and protected by the sun and splendor of none other but your Highness, and it seems not unreasonable to me it should wish to revisit its natural shores; and also, because I know these skillful exercises find favor with your Highness, and it has always been a particular specialty, as it were, of the Dukes of Pomerania, never to desist from promoting the arts and the cultivators of them.
Therefore your Highness receives this small gift with pleasure, especially for the sake of the Reverend Cramer; and since I have no incense, let him permit me to propriate with salt-cakes, and may the breath of your favor think it not unworthy to breathe on me, and my studies.
With this, I commend your Highness, together with your most illustrious family, to God, thrice-greatest, to thrive most happily, live long, and prosper to eternity.
From the Academy of Giessen, the eleventh of March, 1617.
Your serene Highness' most humble
The fruit for us indeed is in our most holy Bible. The pagans thought that only in their own heathen writers existed emblems, mottoes, illustrated maxims, hieroglyphs. Correct then this opinion. Act so you may show that our field is not sterile. Rather reproach yourself at the negligence of the world, which cares less for the reading of the Bible than the writings of the Gentiles. If this my SOCIETY has achieved anything towards checking this error, I shall congratulate myself. I shall rejoice for you. Farewell, Christian reader, and if you are a Christian, take diligent care to read the Bible.
From the Academy at Stettin
Frontispiece Prefatory to the
Emblems of this Book
The Spirit that creates poetry
moves within those
The fount of life, from whose
bubbling spring full rivers flow,
After, redeemed by the blood of
Christ, you will be joyful,
Now that you have known Christ, by
the shining lamp of heaven,
Full grace has received you into the
number of the holy.
HOPE OF GLORY
At last the Corpse-Goddess has
covered your body and head,
And so, Reader, you have the work of
death and life,
The Spirit illuminates all corners of
To the most excellent and learned Master James Muller L.L. studious companion and dearest friend
You who marvel at the hand of
Phidias, the brush of Appelles