Order of the White Rose

October 26, 2006 at 8:15 am (Borjes Society, Occult History)

We have concluded our Ghost River series. However, in going through the papers of the late John Hayes, we found this account of his grandfather’s work, which readers may find interesting.                                                              –Lynn Alexander



Anyone who casually glances through Melchizedek’s lengthy Unabridged Encyclopedia of American and European Religions will be impressed by the great diversity of creative energies represented there. As a species, esoteric spiritual groups are perhaps the most creative and temporal of religious associations. This is not surprising, since the spirit that informs such groups is by nature mercurial and almost antithetical to the clerical efficiency necessary to propel an organization into perpetuity.

We should not assume however that such organizations, having passed from their earthly existence, do not continue in some other world or dimension. For example, we could consider the continuing influence of one such group that–although it is unlikely that anyone living has even heard of–has affected everything around us in ways we haven’t the slightest knowledge of.

I am of course speaking of the Order of the White Rose. The fact that you are reading this now is itself an indication that you too are invisibly a member of this Order for reasons that will soon become apparent.

According the account compiled by Melchizedek, the Order of the White Rose was a Spiritualist organization founded in Chicago in the 1890s by one Jesse Charles Fremont Grumbine. Over the next thirty years the order moved first to Boston, then to Cleveland, and finally to Portland where it appears to have disappeared by the early 1930s. The Order was said to be mystical and contemplative in nature and was composed of two branches, the Order of the Red Rose–the exoteric or outer branch, and the Order of the White Rose–the esoteric or inner branch. Both branches led members to a third branch whose name is not specified.

Spiritualism was the most popular mystical movement of the 19th century. As the Industrial Age reached its apex and the bounty of its energetic developmental impetus began to touch all corners of the known world, the daimonic imagination, which been allowed to roam freely in the untouched regions of the earth for centuries, was forced to find a new home. It found this home in a region that technology could never reach, a region that was the pure antithesis and counterpoint to all positivist endeavors: the land of the dead.

As a popular movement, Spiritualism was continually energized by its controversial assertion that properly trained and receptive individuals could not only contact the dead on an individual basis but speak directly for them. In an age when death was a visible and pressing concern, not yet drained of mystery and brought under institutional auspices, the opening of such a conversational conduit provided tremendous assurance that the ties we forge in this life are not severed by the departure of souls from one world to another.

Grumbine, like his contemporary and predecessor Andrew Jackson Davis, was a philosophical spiritualist. The conducting of seances and the activity of mediums was fine entertainment, but the truly fascinating aspect of the movement was its metaphysical implications. If communication with the dead were truly possible, then a mapping of the land of the dead was also presumably possible. In fact, the entire invisible was opened up for exploration just as the far reaches of the visible were quickly falling under the purview of an imperialistic empirical geography.

Grumbine theorized that beyond or preceding individual personal spirits there was a universal spirit that existed not as a God outside of creation, but as the radiant center from which all spirits drew life. The individual spirit underwent a purification process through its existence on earth that renewed the dynamic of the universal spirit. Spirits living on earth were enveloped in earthly form that fell away at death and was replaced by a spiritual body that inhabited a celestial earth. The true medium, the one who through contemplative arts had emptied himself of mundane preoccupation, could become an initiate and emissary of this celestial earth, which we know as the land of the dead, but the dead know as a world even more vibrant and alive than ours.

It was not Grumbine himself, but a close student of his, William Hayes, who most fully completed the map that Grumbine had envisioned. His investigations were reported somewhat cryptically in a thin pamphlet entitled Tales of the World of the Spirits published in Omaha in 1931 by the Spiritualist Association of Nebraska. The precise relationship of the Spiritualist Association to the Order of the White Rose is unclear. It may in fact have been a pseudonym, made necessary by certain discoveries that took place within the Order of the White Rose that required it to further veil its existence

Since contacting the dead is at best an uncertain proposition, there is always the likelihood that one may bring back to this world a spirit whom the medium is unable to control, who in fact has a mission of its own to fulfill. For the most part, these rogue spirits quickly tire of communicating through such a dense material haze as we must present to them and go on to other amusements. On rare occasions though, a spirit will find a compatible host and set about to accomplish its desires.

Hayes himself had been close to Spiritualist circles for many years prior to meeting with Grumbine and was well aware of these difficulties. As he wrote in his pamphlet, “We would be more than a little amazed to know how much of our history, of our institutions, and our literature has been directly inspired by the dead, and what a great debt we owe to them.” Hayes’s own debt is made clear in the body of his pamphlet, most of which was communicated to him by a spirit in a series of séances conducted in Omaha in the winter of 1927.

The spirit, whose name we cannot mention here, informed Hayes that the creation of the Order of the White Rose was not an accident. Certain circumstances transpiring on the celestial earth had necessitated a transference of the Order from their plane to ours. Grumbine had more or less gotten the philosophy of the Order right, as much as could be explained at this time. The key task was to perform certain rituals that would widen the conduit between the two worlds enough so that a much larger infusion of spiritual force could take place. As to the end purpose of this infusion, that would be revealed later.

The first ritual that Hayes was to perform was called quite simply The Rite of the Dead. This was to be conducted once a month at the new moon. Initiates were to gather in a closed room in which eight black candles were arranged in a circle around a table holding a white rose in an urn, preferably one procured from a crematorium. Next to the vase was a black box in which certain names were placed. As the clock struck midnight, the preceptor would randomly draw names from the box, one by one, saying,

We invoke the spirit of —- and all those who are invisibly part of the Order of the White Rose. The world you have departed from has not forgotten you. Do not disdain the living, but following the path we have opened. Return and be present with us.

We do not know what names the box contained, or how many names had been placed there. Possibly it contained names of former members of the Order, or the names of various obscure visionaries who had died in the distant past. Hayes seems to suggest at one point that it held the name of every person who had ever lived, although how this would be possible within the confines of a small box is not made clear. At the close of the rite, the room was to be emptied and the lid of the box left open.

A second ritual involved contacting the inhabitants of certain celestial cities. Only their celestial residents knew the actual names of these cities, so as a substitute, the names of various cities of the ancient world were used. In all, there were seven such cities: Athens, Rome, Alexandria, Palmyra, Harran, Samarakand and Khotan. In a manner similiar to the Rite of the Dead, each of these cities was invoked by name, one at a time, on separate evenings. This time the initiatory circle would stay in the room, and from midnight until six in the morning would envision themselves as residing in these cities.

As Hayes narrates, this was not an easy accomplishment even for a circle whose members already possessed considerable visionary and mediumistic powers. However most of the initiates were eventually able to sustain the appearance of the designated city for six or seven hours without a thought. Then something went awry and some of the members were unable to leave the cities they had visited. Their bodies remained in a state of suspended animation, alive and warm, but they could not be roused back into normal consciousness. After the third incident of this kind, Hayes dispensed with the rite. The individuals involved were transported to a farm in northeastern Kansas where members of the group looked after them. Other than occasional dusting, the bodies required no special care and maintained their color and appearance without diminishment.

The Order of the White Rose itself disbanded in the early 1930s after disagreement between members over certain obscure theological points. One group believed that according to certain Tlonic texts, the world would end on Friday, December 31st, 2012 sometime around two or three in the afternoon, while another believed that it would end on the “twelfth hour of the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year”. Both groups believed that the end of the world was not an occasion for panic, but rather a time when everyone would have their innermost dreams fulfilled in a world almost like this one. Very few people would realize that any change had taken place, but to the careful observer it would be apparent that a complete separation with the past had been made.

Hayes himself passed over to the other side in 1941, Grumbine having preceded him some three years earlier. The farmhouse and its special occupants became the charge of Hayes’s daughter, Lillian, my mother. I knew nothing about it until she took me there a few years ago and announced that she was going to Vienna and I was to now assume the family’s caretaking responsibilities.

After learning about The Order of the White Rose and having a chance to meet personally some of its former members, I have been able to uncover a few details of which even Lillian was unaware. The most striking discovery was that the three initiates, as Lillian called them, do not always remain in a state of suspended animation. It would not be prudent to discuss how I made this discovery, but suffice it to say that I have now come to realize that the accident Hayes thought had occurred was–like the founding of the Order itself–not a chance event.

Nor have any of my activities been chance events. Unfortunately, being a bit clumsy at keeping things secret, through my naiveté I have exposed a number of individuals to the Order. There is really no need to worry, as the Order is on the whole benevolent in its intentions. But those who cherish the notion of free will may on close reflection find that some of the events that more than a number of usual events may have occurred in their lives recently. I have tried my best to mask this under various contemplative auspices, but it has become too difficult to contain what is in rather uncontainable, and things have reached the point where I must make a clean account of the entire affair.

In brief, the larger conduit that Hayes was to create through his rituals was actually successfully constructed, bodily, in the persons of the three initiates whose spirits now reside in certain celestial cities. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of those cities have been pouring into northeastern Kansas for some sixty years now. These spirits reached such a mass that by the late 1960s a complete revival of the Order was possible. However, as the cities themselves possess diverse spiritual traditions, the development of the movement–as it has come to be called–is no longer contained within a single organizational structure. It is fair to say, however, that all serious discoveries of a spiritual nature that have occurred since that time can probably be linked to the Order of the White Rose and its rites.

Although I have not been able to discern which of the two dates concerning the end of the world is correct, I have felt it wise to make certain preparations since in my view the extent of the disagreement is not materially significant. As part of these preparations, I have deemed it necessary to revive in part some of the rites of the Order so that I can ascertain the direction that the movement is heading. To this end, I have attempted to envision certain cities. Unfortunately, even with the help of various ancient contemplative techniques I am unable to sustain visualization for longer than a few minutes without distraction. I can only hope that one of my friends or acquaintances will be more successful than I. If not, then well, things will soon become very interesting.

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