Stanislas de Guaita
This year marks the centennial of the passing of one of the most outstanding figures in esotericism and European mysticism of the XIX century. Stanislas de Guaita, who was called the Prince of the Rosicrucian by his contemporaries because of his learning, enthusiasm, and many talents, passed through the Higher Initiation into the spiritual life on the 19th day of December 1897 at the young age of 37.
Stanislas de Guaita was descended from a noble Italian family who had settled in France. He was born April 6, 1861 in the castle of Alteville and studied at the Liceo de Nancy where he developed a natural propensity toward the empirical sciences, most notably chemistry, reaching a level of true mastery for his times. Over a period of time he gravitated more toward satisfaction of the artistic and literary spirit that lead him into metaphysics and the study of Cabala.
Established in Paris while still quite young, he settled in a luxurious mezzanine at number 20 on the Avenue Trudaine, where his home soon became a meeting place for many writers and others interested in esoteric and mystical ideas.
His poems were very widely celebrated and in 1883 were published as "The Dark Muse" and in 1885 as "The Mystic Rose", both of which brought him acclaim and great popularity.
His remarkable learning and great preparation enabled him to found the Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian in 1888, which brought together the most famous esoteric thinkers of France, and later all of Europe. Among them were Sar Peladan, creator of the Rosicrucian Salons, Papus (Dr. Gerard Encausse) the famous Rosicrucian and President of the First Grand Council of the Martinist Order, Marc Aven, and many others. In the magazine "L´Initiation" founded by Papus, an article appearing in 1889 said of the Order founded by Guaita:
"The distinctive sign of the members of the Supreme Council of the Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian is the Hebrew letter Alef. Besides this Superior Degree there are two others that are reached through Initiation. Every new member of this society takes an oath of obedience to the directives of the Council declaring that, although they are free to leave the society any time they please, they will abide by the promise of keeping secret the teachings received from the Order. They receive training in the Cabala and mystical subjects".
The Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian conferred free university degrees. It also conferred the title of Doctor. The first exam is recognized with the title of Bachelor of Cabala, the second with that of Graduate of Cabala, and the third, conferred after an exam and presentation of a thesis in which topics regarding the tradition are addressed, is Doctor of the Cabala. The first exam was based:
The first exam was based on general history of the western tradition, especially the Rosicrucian, as well as on the knowledge, nature and symbolism of the Hebrew letters. The second exam covered the general history of religious traditions over the course of time, focusing particularly on the unity of the various dogmas, the wide use of symbols, and the understanding of Hebrew and its nature. The third exam was oral, and the candidates also completed a written exam based on philosophical, moral and mystical questions.
Stanislas de Guaita brought together in his house the biggest private library of writings on metaphysical subjects, magic, and hidden sciences in general that could be found in France in that century. A copy of the catalog composed by his pupil René Philipon and dated 1899 is preserved in the archives of the Sovereign Headquarters of the Rose Cross Order, as is the original engraving that illustrates the cover of this issue of the "Triangle of Light". In this engraving a symbol well known to Rosicrucians, and worn on the symbolic collar of a certain degree during ceremonies within our Lodges, can be observed Stanislas de Guaita's tie.
That his brilliance and very dynamic personality made Guaita an exciting and inspiring personality is unquestionable. He was at the forefront of the many mystical movements active in the last part of the XIX century and established many of the principles for the XX century.
Of him, one of his close collaborators wrote: "Because the mystic struggled and did not fare well in common affairs, some perceive his methods as inadequate. Inclined toward the true Rosicrucian tradition, it may be justly said that he became a complete man precisely because he knew the difference between the passive and active paths, and united theory and practice."
As we mark the centennial of his death, his transition to the higher Initiation of life, our magazine "Triangle of Light" pays him homage with deepest admiration and respect.