Robert Wentworth Little (1869–1878)
Anthony W. Llewellyn
Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (Rosicrucian Society of England) or SRIA is a Rosicrucian esoteric Christian order formed by Robert Wentworth Little in 1865, although some sources acknowledge the date to be 1866-67. Aspirants (people seeking membership) are confirmed from the ranks of subscribing Master Masons of a Grand Lodge in amity with United Grand Lodge of England.
The structure and grade of this order, as A. E. Waite suggests, were derived from the 18th-century German Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross. It later became the same grade system used for the Golden Dawn.
The Fratres (singular. Frater) of the Society meet in Colleges, which are presided over by an annually elected Celebrant who also oversees all First Order ceremonial. Chief Adepts are responsible for all Colleges within their Province, they personally oversee all Second Order ceremonial activities and are appointed by The Supreme Magus who governs the Society worldwide via his High Council and oversees Third Order ceremonial.
In addition to the ceremonial work within colleges, each Frater is encouraged to research, present, and discuss, papers covering a range of topics, including but not limited to; Symbolism, Alchemy, Artificial Intelligence, philosophy, Esotericism, Spirituality, and Mysticism.
The society has a rare collection of 400 year old Rosicrucian books, letters and manuscripts, which are on loan to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in Freemasons Hall, home of the United Grand Lodge of England.
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The society is inspired by the original Rosicrucian Brotherhood but does not openly claim a provable link thereto. It bases its teachings on those found in the Fama and Confessio Fraternitatis published in the early 17th century in Germany, along with other similar publications from the same time such as the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz.
The society was founded in 1867, derived from a pre-existing Rosicrucian 'non-Masonic' order in Scotland (which bore no relation to the similarly named Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia, which was a later creation), following the admission of William James Hughan and Robert Wentworth Little. Little was a clerk and cashier of the General Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, William Henry White. These Fratres were advanced quickly in Scotland and granted a warrant to form a Society in England. The formation meeting took place on 1 June 1867 in Aldermanbury, London with Frater Little elected Master Magus, the title of "Supreme Magus" not being invented until some years later.
The organisation was initially named the Rosicrucian Society of England or the Brethren of the Rosy Cross, these names are still used interchangeably to this day. However, the former name was Latinised to Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (or SRIA), and has been commonly used throughout the society since 1889.
The society requires that all aspirants for membership apply from the ranks of subscribing Master Masons of a Grand Lodge in amity with United Grand Lodge of England to declare a belief in the fundamental principles of the Trinitarian Christian faith and offers assistance to all its members in working out the great problems of nature and science.
Structure and governance
The Society is subdivided into three Orders:
Members of the 1st Order(Fratres) meet in a College. A College is empowered to confer the first four degrees of the society which are known as Grades. A minimum of six months must elapse between the receipt of grades. However, the emphasis in the work of the society is learning, therefore every member is encouraged to deliver a paper of their own work on some topic of interest in open college.
The Second Order is managed at a provincial level, headed by a Chief Adept and his deputy (Suffragan) who have jurisdiction over all first order Colleges within a Province. The Chief Adept is empowered to personally confer three further Grades at this level to deserving Fratres of Grade IV who have been a member of the Society for a minimum of four years.
|Grade V||Adeptus Minor|
|Grade VI||Adeptus Major|
|Grade VII||Adeptus Exemptus|
A minimum of one year must elapse between the receipt of grades at this level. A member can only serve as the Celebrant (Master) of a College of the First Order after receiving the Grade of Adeptus Exemptus.
The Third Order is headed by the Supreme Magus, Senior Substitute Magus, and Junior Substitute Magus. Members of the second order who have given service to the Society and have been selected by the Supreme Magus for such advancement may be awarded these two further Grades.
Acting recipients receive Grade VIII or Grade IX, however, the Supreme Magus can also grant the grades honorifically (8° & 9°). All recipients receive the full ceremony, which is personally overseen by the Supreme Magus and his team.
Fraters within the First Order wear a jewel (medal) hanging on a green ribbon, the ribbon changes to yellow for Fraters within the Second Order.
When a frater becomes a Celebrant he wears a red robe, and thereafter he continues to wear a red robe.
Certain officers within a College wear regalia specific to their office.
There have been 14 Supreme Magi since the founding of the SRIA:
|Supreme Magus||Years of Office|
|Robert Wentworth Little||1869–1878|
|William Robert Woodman||1878–1891|
|William Wynn Westcott||1891–1925|
|W. J. Songhurst||1925–1939|
|Frank M. Rickard||1939–1956|
|W. R. Semken||1956–1969|
|Edward Varley Kayley||1969–1974|
|Norman C. Stamford||1979–1982|
|Alan G. Davies||1982–1994|
|Ronald E. Rowland||1994–2002|
|Andrew B. Stevenson||2002–2006|
|Anthony W. Llewellyn||2019–Present|
- William Robert Woodman
- William Wynn Westcott
- Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie
- Samuel Liddell "MacGregor" Mathers
- Arthur Edward Waite
- John Yarker
- Robert Felkin
- Frederick Bligh Bond
There are multiple orders and societies that are associated with or inspired by the SRIA.
Royal Order of Eri
An invitational Irish order requiring membership of both Freemasonry and the SRIA. Members must be 5th grade or above in SRIA to be considered for invitation. The Masonic order is derived from an ancient Order in Ireland which was founded by the historic Kings of Ireland. The order's name relates to Erin the ancient Irish name for Ireland.
In 1888, three members of SRIA formed the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which removed the restriction on membership, allowing non-Christians, non-Freemasons, and women to join. A great deal of the SRIA structure survived in the new order, which went on to greatly influence the modern occult revival in the 20th century. While SRIA inspired several aspects, there is no active link between the SRIA and any modern-day Golden Dawn organisation.
- King 1989, page 28
- J. Gordon Melton, page 179
- C.M., The Rosicrucians, page 109
- R.W. Littles Biography at the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
- The masonic career of A.E. Waite by Bro. R. A. Gilbert
- https://sunshinecoastfreemasons.com/orders/sria/ Sunshine Coast Freemasons SRIA Page
- North West Province (England) - SRIA. "What is the SRIA?". sria-nwc.org.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia – An Introduction (SRIA)". freemasonrymatters.co.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Treasures of the SRIA". sria.uk.com. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- "Societas Rosicruciana In Anglia – Rosicrucian Society of Freemasons". beyondthecraft.net.au. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- https://www.thesquaremagazine.com/mag/article/202107book-review-companions-of-christian-rosenkreutz/ Square Magazine Book Review Regarding Companions of Christian Rosenkreutz book which references SRIAs historic names.
- "'The Rosicrucian' July 1868" (PDF). srialondon.org. SRIA. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
- "Masonic Connection – Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia".
- "What is the SRIA? - Regalia". sria-nwc.org.uk. Retrieved 12 November 2023.
- Morrisson, page 18
- Clarke, Barry. "ADDITIONAL DEGREES WORKED IN ENGLAND AND WALES YORK RITE: AN EXPLANATION". themasonictrowel.com. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
- Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia - Official Website.
- Seven Steps of Wisdom - an online course of introduction to the principles of the SRIA.
- Bishop Wilkins SRIA College - An SRIA college with papers, Rosicrucian texts and information about the Society.
- The SRIA Province of Greater London & Metropolitan Study Group - The official website for SRIA in London.
- Rosicrucian Society of Freemasons in Victoria - The official website for SRIA in Victoria, Australia.
- North West SRIA - The official website for the SRIA Province of North West Counties (England).