3948 – Complete Rose Cross sketch by Steffi Grant

Physical description:
Cross with yellow, red, blue and white and a rose at the centre. Hand-drawn on paper and mounted on card.
Museum classification:
Ritual Magic
Size:
30cm x 40cm
Information:

The design of the Complete Rose Cross was originally developed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and published by Israel Regardie and Aleister Crowley.

The image is from a book (in the Museum library: An Account of the Teachings, Rites, & Ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie 135.4REG, Book No: 316) belonging to the Museum’s founder, Cecil Williamson.  He obviously studied the cross carefully, making notes around it and colouring it in with care.  What follows is a brief explanation of its symbolism, a full understanding of it is something member of the Golden Dawn aspired to.

Three sections at the end of each arm of the Cross: the symbols of salt, mercury and sulphur appear.  These are the Three Alchemical Principles.  Cecil has labelled them on the yellow section of the cross left. 

The Four arms of the Cross:  The four ends of the cross are the four elements, the white is the spirit.  The Cross is not solely a Christian symbol.  It represents unity, balance and sacrifice.

Pentacles: on each of the elemental arms of the cross is a pentacle, the symbol of the microcosm with the symbol of spirit (a wheel) and the other elements around it (these are mostly signs of the Zodiac).

Letters in the rays around the arms of the Cross: the rays of divine light, letters and symbols relate to analysis of the key word INRI.

Hexagram: in the white portion of the cross is a six sided star with the sun at the centre and symbols of the planets and moon surrounding it.

The Petals on the rose at the centre of the cross: 22 petals for the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the 22 paths on the Tree of Life.

Cross at the centre: “...it represents the blazing light of the Fire of the Sun bringing into being the green vegetation of the otherwise barren Earth.  And also the self sacrifice requisite in one who would essay to initiate into the Sacred Mysteries…” Israel Regardie.

The Museum also has a large 'scaled up' version of this (object number 1163).  The handwriting on the top left hand corner of this sketch is Cecil Williamson's.  It says "NO.2".  This probably refers to sketches by Steffi Grant that Cecil had made into larger boards for display in the Museum (see also the Tree of Life diagram sketch by Steffi Grant, object number 3942, it has "NO.4 in Cecil's handwriting on it and it was scaled up in a similar way - see object number 3943 for its large counterpart).

A brief history of the Steffi Grant Collection

A set of original sketches and diagrams for a Museum display, reproductions of those diagrams in a larger scale and a double cubic altar.

Similar to the images Steffi Grant created for the Carfax Monographs (1959-1962) but created in 1951.  See Kenneth and Steffi Grant’s Hidden Lore: Hermetic Glyphs (Fulgur Press) in the Museum library for more details.

Object numbers: 3941-3950 (inclusive),1163 and possibly 3956.  Also double cubic altar (941) and angelic scrying tablets (1160).

Cecil Williamson’s notes and old interpretation cards from the Museum suggest that he had a profound respect for, and deep interest in, Aleister Crowley.  See documents 8282 and 8277 and the interview with Cecil in Talking Stick magazine about Crowley (in the Museum library)  for more on his attitude to him.

One letter sent to Gerald Yorke in 1952 (transcribed by Dave Evans from an original in the Warburg Institute) even suggests that the Museum may have been somehow inspired by Crowley.  See documents 887 and 888.

The Museum used to have a lot of objects which were either inspired by Crowley or owned by him (according to Cecil) including a seven headed demon stick, Baphomet ring and paintings.  There is also reference to a handwritten copy of the Book of the Law and a copy of Crowley’s funeral service (one wonders how this was obtained by Cecil – by purchase, gift from someone who was there or is it possible that Cecil attended the funeral?)  See documents 9013, 10129 or search Crowley in documents to see the complete list).

One document (8267) mentions a range of magical drawings, made by a student while under the instruction of Aleister Crowley.  In it, Cecil says that no excuse is made for their condition.  It is highly likely that this card refers to the drawings created by Steffi Grant in 1951 for the Museum when it was at the Witches’s Mill on the Isle of Man (objects 3941-3950).

There are several documents in the Museum archive that relate to this display (for a look at the display itself see object 941, double cubic altar).

There are around 20 letters from Gerald Yorke.  From these, we can infer that Cecil approached him asking for help establishing a temple room in the Mill.  Gerald seems to have contacted Kenneth and Steffi Grant and liased with them about the display and it developed into a Temple which is mainly based on Crowley’s Book 4, Part 2.  Gerald Yorke wrote a guidebook for it which includes substantial quotes from Book 4, Part 2.  See document 692 for the complete text.  Gerald Yorke also mentions John Symonds (Crowley’s literary executor and first biographer) in one letter and visiting the Mill with Lady Frieda Harris (who created the Thoth Tarot with Crowley) in another letter.

The designs were completed by Steffi and sent to Cecil with instructions.  There are numerous letters from Kenneth and Steffi Grant which deal with this display (see 93, 96, 97, X98, 99, 100, 101).

Cecil does not seem to have paid Steffi for this work and Kenneth suggests in a letter that Cecil could pay for the British OTO manifesto to be printed in recompense for Steffi’s work on the display.  Several letters mention this manifesto and the dye that was to be used in making it.

Cecil obviously held on to many of these objects and drawings when he moved the Museum from the Isle of Man.  He must also have written to Kenneth Anger (probably in 1955) as document number 271 is a letter from Anger while at Cefalu.  It seems that Cecil was trying to acquire Crowley objects from the Abbey and that he and Kenneth Anger were going to create some sort of reconstruction of it at the Museum while it was in Windsor.

It is possible that one more object was created by Steffi Grant, this is object number 3956 (Witch’s Cradle painting).  A photograph of this object was shown to Steffi in 2018 by Professor Henrik Bogdan and she does not remember creating it.  However it is similar to the style of her work (see front cover of Kenneth Grant’s book ‘Snakewand’).

Cecil seemed to admire the Grants long after their collaboration had ended.  He purchased and heavily annotated a first edition of Kenneth Grant’s “Magical Revival” (now in the Museum library). A letter in the Museum archive (document 180) was written by Cecil in 1982 and talks warmly of the Grants as being knowledgeable occultists and lovely people. 

 

Resource:
Object
Materials:
Paper, card, ink
Copyright ownership:
MWM

The design of the Complete Rose Cross was originally developed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and published by Israel Regardie and Aleister Crowley.

The image is from a book (in the Museum library: An Account of the Teachings, Rites, & Ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie 135.4REG, Book No: 316) belonging to the Museum’s founder, Cecil Williamson.  He obviously studied the cross carefully, making notes around it and colouring it in with care.  What follows is a brief explanation of its symbolism, a full understanding of it is something member of the Golden Dawn aspired to.

Three sections at the end of each arm of the Cross: the symbols of salt, mercury and sulphur appear.  These are the Three Alchemical Principles.  Cecil has labelled them on the yellow section of the cross left. 

The Four arms of the Cross:  The four ends of the cross are the four elements, the white is the spirit.  The Cross is not solely a Christian symbol.  It represents unity, balance and sacrifice.

Pentacles: on each of the elemental arms of the cross is a pentacle, the symbol of the microcosm with the symbol of spirit (a wheel) and the other elements around it (these are mostly signs of the Zodiac).

Letters in the rays around the arms of the Cross: the rays of divine light, letters and symbols relate to analysis of the key word INRI.

Hexagram: in the white portion of the cross is a six sided star with the sun at the centre and symbols of the planets and moon surrounding it.

The Petals on the rose at the centre of the cross: 22 petals for the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the 22 paths on the Tree of Life.

Cross at the centre: “...it represents the blazing light of the Fire of the Sun bringing into being the green vegetation of the otherwise barren Earth.  And also the self sacrifice requisite in one who would essay to initiate into the Sacred Mysteries…” Israel Regardie.

The Museum also has a large 'scaled up' version of this (object number 1163).  The handwriting on the top left hand corner of this sketch is Cecil Williamson's.  It says "NO.2".  This probably refers to sketches by Steffi Grant that Cecil had made into larger boards for display in the Museum (see also the Tree of Life diagram sketch by Steffi Grant, object number 3942, it has "NO.4 in Cecil's handwriting on it and it was scaled up in a similar way - see object number 3943 for its large counterpart).

A brief history of the Steffi Grant Collection

A set of original sketches and diagrams for a Museum display, reproductions of those diagrams in a larger scale and a double cubic altar.

Similar to the images Steffi Grant created for the Carfax Monographs (1959-1962) but created in 1951.  See Kenneth and Steffi Grant’s Hidden Lore: Hermetic Glyphs (Fulgur Press) in the Museum library for more details.

Object numbers: 3941-3950 (inclusive),1163 and possibly 3956.  Also double cubic altar (941) and angelic scrying tablets (1160).

Cecil Williamson’s notes and old interpretation cards from the Museum suggest that he had a profound respect for, and deep interest in, Aleister Crowley.  See documents 8282 and 8277 and the interview with Cecil in Talking Stick magazine about Crowley (in the Museum library)  for more on his attitude to him.

One letter sent to Gerald Yorke in 1952 (transcribed by Dave Evans from an original in the Warburg Institute) even suggests that the Museum may have been somehow inspired by Crowley.  See documents 887 and 888.

The Museum used to have a lot of objects which were either inspired by Crowley or owned by him (according to Cecil) including a seven headed demon stick, Baphomet ring and paintings.  There is also reference to a handwritten copy of the Book of the Law and a copy of Crowley’s funeral service (one wonders how this was obtained by Cecil – by purchase, gift from someone who was there or is it possible that Cecil attended the funeral?)  See documents 9013, 10129 or search Crowley in documents to see the complete list).

One document (8267) mentions a range of magical drawings, made by a student while under the instruction of Aleister Crowley.  In it, Cecil says that no excuse is made for their condition.  It is highly likely that this card refers to the drawings created by Steffi Grant in 1951 for the Museum when it was at the Witches’s Mill on the Isle of Man (objects 3941-3950).

There are several documents in the Museum archive that relate to this display (for a look at the display itself see object 941, double cubic altar).

There are around 20 letters from Gerald Yorke.  From these, we can infer that Cecil approached him asking for help establishing a temple room in the Mill.  Gerald seems to have contacted Kenneth and Steffi Grant and liased with them about the display and it developed into a Temple which is mainly based on Crowley’s Book 4, Part 2.  Gerald Yorke wrote a guidebook for it which includes substantial quotes from Book 4, Part 2.  See document 692 for the complete text.  Gerald Yorke also mentions John Symonds (Crowley’s literary executor and first biographer) in one letter and visiting the Mill with Lady Frieda Harris (who created the Thoth Tarot with Crowley) in another letter.

The designs were completed by Steffi and sent to Cecil with instructions.  There are numerous letters from Kenneth and Steffi Grant which deal with this display (see 93, 96, 97, X98, 99, 100, 101).

Cecil does not seem to have paid Steffi for this work and Kenneth suggests in a letter that Cecil could pay for the British OTO manifesto to be printed in recompense for Steffi’s work on the display.  Several letters mention this manifesto and the dye that was to be used in making it.

Cecil obviously held on to many of these objects and drawings when he moved the Museum from the Isle of Man.  He must also have written to Kenneth Anger (probably in 1955) as document number 271 is a letter from Anger while at Cefalu.  It seems that Cecil was trying to acquire Crowley objects from the Abbey and that he and Kenneth Anger were going to create some sort of reconstruction of it at the Museum while it was in Windsor.

It is possible that one more object was created by Steffi Grant, this is object number 3956 (Witch’s Cradle painting).  A photograph of this object was shown to Steffi in 2018 by Professor Henrik Bogdan and she does not remember creating it.  However it is similar to the style of her work (see front cover of Kenneth Grant’s book ‘Snakewand’).

Cecil seemed to admire the Grants long after their collaboration had ended.  He purchased and heavily annotated a first edition of Kenneth Grant’s “Magical Revival” (now in the Museum library). A letter in the Museum archive (document 180) was written by Cecil in 1982 and talks warmly of the Grants as being knowledgeable occultists and lovely people.