I did find myself rather raising an eyebrow at some of the symbolism, however, with its emphasis on white clothing and long white veils for purity, consistently white girls in all the graphics, and the emphasis on the ceremonial lighting of candles to conquer and banish the darkness. Not only is that dark vs. light trope a false binary to me, but there was also the issue that all four young Colombes sitting in the front row were women of color.
I mention this because I remember the sensation of astonishing relief, almost like a weight lifting off my shoulders, when I first fully realized the sheer self-empowerment that comes from absolutely refusing an androcentric cultural monotheism that blames women for evil — that comes from realizing my “god” could look like me, could be a numinousness I know as Goddess. The book I’ve linked to here was a critical step in that process, in fact. Consequently I cannot help but wonder how the four young and very dark-skinned women must unwittingly feel at being always told the very color of their skin was symbolic of ignorance, of unenlightenment, of carnality rather than a heavenly nature.
I do not doubt this teaching was as innocently well-meant as what I received all through my childhood concerning the supposed “base nature” of my sex… but that does not, to me, make up for the emotional and psychic damage done through such ignorance. I hope for, and will continue to work toward, a day when “goodness” and “wickedness” is no longer tied to skin color or sex or sexual orientation or whatever the most recent powerless minority might be.
Still, for all my grousing about the somewhat stark visual symbolism, I should note this was the friendliest and most internationally varied group I’ve seen in quite some time. It was clear the gathered Rosicrucians did their best to award rank according to merit rather than to gender or skin color or age; the local leader is female, and from talking to some of the attendees I discovered there were people attending who’d arrived from Australia, Africa, and Central and South America. I think there were some Europeans present as well.
In some ways this reminds me strongly of a fascinating class I took years ago: the New Testament from a literary and historical viewpoint. The professors were careful to explain to us the difference between a “religion” and a “cult,” and one of the points they made was there are not necessarily any negatives attached to being in a cult. In essence, a cult arises naturally when the organized religion of the status quo no longer answers the needs of the people. This explains how christianity came into being as a fledgling new little cult: Jesus answered the spiritual needs of some of the conquered Jewish people, as well as their disenfranchised: women, the poor, the sick.
I cannot help but wonder if perhaps Rosicrucianism, or maybe esotericism, is a similar spiritual state. Since christianity, the dominant organized religion today in the US, has drifted so far from its originator and become a tool of secular power, it is quite natural to see cults springing up to answer the spiritual needs of the disenfranchised: women, people of color, people stifled by the dogmatic rigidity of an entrenched organized religion. If we’re lucky, perhaps groups like the Rosicrucians will help christianity shift away from its current secular ursurpation and bastardization — and back toward its original, simpler and kinder goals of faith, hope, and love.