Origin of the Ordo Aurum Solis
As the history of our Order indicates, it was in 1897 that the Order of Aurum Solis was officially founded in the form that it has today.
Out of a desire to maintain its secrecy, the Order has successfully transmitted its philosophy and its practices for many generations without ever revealing its rites and thus without losing that from which it derives its richness and power. Due to the success with which it has maintained its secrecy, even when the public discovered its existence a few years ago, they continued to know nothing about the specific form the Order took on before its visible appearance in the world. This nondisclosure was voluntary and was justified by the Theurgic uses of our tradition.
However our Order will not allow dubious information to be publically disseminated about the nature of our origins, especially when this information is spread by a few misinformed groups who are attempting to transmit information about the Order which they cannot possibly have factual and correct knowledge of. It is for this reason that we shall now give an official statement regarding the various actual characteristics of the Societas Rotae Fulgentis.
As the history of the Order indicates, the S.R.F. or Society of the Burning Wheel appeared in the 18th century, bringing together the Adepts of the Order of the Helmet, which will be the topic of future writings. George K Stanton was one of the eminent members of the S.R.F. and he formed the Ordo Aurum Solis along with Charles Kingsgold in 1897. Charles became the first Grand Master of our Order in the form that we know it today. The name of the S.R.F was probably drawn from the palindrome which appears on the ground of the Baptistry in Florence.
It was claimed for a long time by the Order that its members did not work on these different practices, that they only transmitted the tradition and documents that they had received. We can say with authority that this statement is both true and false at the same time.
The Hermetic and Theurgic tradition which we transmit has its roots in the practice and philosophy of the Mediterranean tradition. Students who have uncovered a few books of the Order may begin the Theurgic work, only to realize two things after a time of trying to perform the work: First of all, the connection with our tradition and the emotions that connection generates are very intense and very different than any other such experience. Yet, after a time it seems to some that there is nothing new to learn or experience. Therefore, sometimes groups may form who may claim that they have a real connection with our tradition, but these groups actually lack the necessary and real continuous link that is the substance of an ancient tradition such as ours.
They cannot have the same impact or power as our Tradition, because we are linked in an unbroken chain to our origins, and they are not linked to that invisible part of the work from which we derive our authority and strength.
Our tradition inherited important techniques based on those energies that are linked with the cycles of nature. It is absolutely true that the Baptistry of Florence synthesizes a certain number of symbolic elements which are part of the tradition of Aurum Solis. For example, the pavement shows an interesting drawing that an Eastern person might describe as a mandala. On this figure it is possible to see a large wheel containing many concentric circles, with various colors like a rose stained glass window. In the centre there is a sun with twelve rays. Around this sun we read one of the key sentences of the Order: In giro torte sol ciclos et rotor igne (The Spiritual Sun compels the Aeons to revolve on the periphery of a Wheel, which it impels to turn with the force of Fire!)
Around the sun there are twelve drawings in the first concentric circle and in a second, outer concentric circle, we find the twelve signs of the zodiac. For the time being, we will not enter into an analysis of this Christian symbolism, but we may notice that the central place of the sun was a heresy at the time that this mosaic was assembled.
As we know, the Academia Platonica directed by Marsilio Ficino reserved an honored place for the traditional forms of astrological Theurgy. The Adepts of their time worked on the inner being with the techniques of planetary re-harmonization, utilizing such traditional elements as: correspondences, gestures, sounds, hymns, music, colors, etc.
This work on the inner being is the fundamental contribution of those techniques by which we may achieve harmonization with the universe; such techniques are at the heart of our Tradition. One of the fundamental contributions of the Society of the Burning Wheel was the transmission and the deepening of this heritage of the Academia Platonica. If you would like an Outer Order view of these concepts, (which must not be confused with the Inner and Deeper understanding acquired by those directly linked to these teachings), then you may read about them in a publication of the former Grand Master entitled "Planetary Magic" which we commend to you. It is in this book that you may find valid information on daily planetary harmonizations. This teaching is obviously integrated into the practices of the Order from the beginning of the training. We would think it most peculiar to wait until the end of the cursus to come into harmony with the universe and balance our inner body.
In the First Hall, our Order is founded on the cabal of the period of the Renaissance; in the second Hall it is founded on Hellenistic Hermetism and in the third Hall it is founded on the original Egyptian tradition. This coherent progression thus integrates from its inception the techniques of astrological harmonization, transposing them onto each system studied. The text of the "Banquet" of Plato was explained by many initiates, including Ficini himself and it remains an important basis of the work, reflection and practice for Societas Rotae Fulgentis.
Yet, let us now be even more precise regarding the techniques transmitted by the S.R.F. The message that the Baptistry of Florence delivers to us is not only a part of our Outer Order. It is also a part of the Inner Order. As the history of thought (philosophy) reveals to us, the initiates of antiquity had many exchanges with the East. The theories of the bodies of light or psychic bodies was well known at the same time in both the Mediterranean world and in the East. Even the name of the Society of the Burning Wheel, reveals that we do not speak only about the external representation of the universe, but also about the centers which animate our psychic being, those centers that the Eastern traditions called the chakras.
The S.R.F. used techniques of animation, energization and balance of the subtle parts of our energetic body. That was accomplished primarily through techniques of visualization, gesture and breathing. If we were in an Eastern tradition we would be able to speak about meditation, Hatha Yoga and pranayama (or yogic of breathing). You will be able to discover some explanations about these Eastern forms of meditation in some of the books of the past Grand Masters of the Order and in the most important books of the Order. Whether you are initiated into our Order or not, you will notice that (for example) the breathing techniques are elements which constitute a fundamental part of the rituals of the Order and that from the beginning of the formation in Pronaos, and progressively during the student’s advancement through the degrees, we learn techniques which are dependent on increasingly advanced transmissions of these breath, gesture, etc techniques. For example, we find a true teaching of Western pranayama in our own system. We are forced to admit that these aspects of our teachings are seldom found in other Western initiatic Orders.
The same thing may be said for the use of gesture in our rituals. For example, the sequences of positions which characterize the planets can easily be made to resemble certain parts of Hatha Yoga, especially the famous ‘Sun Salutation’. The meditations we use that are based on sounds and hymns are very close to mantras. All these elements were the center of the work and the transmission of The Societas Rotae Fulgentis and this transmission gives a characteristic power to the rituals of the Ordo Aurum Solis. All these techniques are standard parts of regular training with the Order.
We will have the occasion to return to these topics in detail in other writings by publishing some extracts of these rare documents. That will enable us to give you some external (Public) elements of this important Western method. To conclude we may add that, before giving rise to the current form of Aurum Solis, the S.R.F. formed a synthesis between shamanic traditions of natural magic and the inner techniques of the Order. This is what we call the Order of the Green Flame. All these traditions along with their practices are still alive and preserved as part of the curriculum of the Order which has historically authority of them as stated in the document written by the previous Grand Master Osborne Phillips.
Societas Rotae Fulgentis
Are there other degrees or initiations after the third degree of the Order?
In order to answer this question, it is necessary to clearly understand that the Order aims to help its students discover their own way through a series of precise techniques. This is why we ask students to write certain parts of the rituals under the control of an Initiate of the Order, during their progression through the Degrees. This training is continued by assigning the student the task of performing research into one or another part of the initiatic tradition under the supervision of the more advanced (elder) initiates of the Order. By this means he or she will thus become able to advance towards the revelation of his or her own divinity.
The third initiation of the Order brings the initiate into the Egyptian system. It is interesting to point out that this aspect is quite different from what some initiatic schools have offered. After several years, the student becomes able to consider the great operations of Theurgy, for example, evocation to visible appearance of an apparition or spirit.
It is immediately before this sort of ritual that the fourth initiation (Adeptus Plenus) is transmitted. The fourth initiation passes a sort of container to the Adept, which contains all that is necessary for the Adept to continue the work by himself, and this ‘container’ allows him to progress on his magical path from that point on. This is the step which requires a period of retirement from the world in order to make it possible for the student to accomplished some important functions of the Order and to continue to advance in his own practice. The Order previously revealed only part of the third initiation, but, by chance, had revealed nothing of the fourth initiation.
You may well imagine that it is a delicate proposition to give out information on these advanced elements of the initiatic way, but we may simply say that these elements constitute the heart of the Theurgic way. They are directly linked to the nature of the divinity whether internal or external. Reading Iamblicus and the text of Asclepius will bring much light to you on these aspects of our Order.
Analogously, for a long time the Order constituted groups composed by those sisters and brothers having received the degree of Adeptus Plenus and having progressed on to the corresponding practices of that degree. These groups sometimes bore the name of Guilds, in remembrance of the Italian origins of the Order. They worked deeply with the different practices of our Tradition. We can list the name of some of them, such as: the "red Fleur-de-Lys",the "Knights of the Bronze Cross ", the "Knights of the Red Cross", the " Flame Bearers", the "Immortals", the "Adepts of Gnosis", etc.
Some of these traditional denominations were obviously amalgamated at a later date, because they corresponded to the elements of study of the basic course. Others were gathered together into specialized classes.
We cannot formally say that our tradition transmits any initiations higher than the degree of Adeptus Plenus. Such advanced specializations are only the subject of some very special rituals.