Esoteric Christian Tradition
Esotericism refers to the doctrines or practices of esoteric knowledge, or otherwise the quality or state of being esoteric, or obscure. Esoteric knowledge is that which is specialized or advanced in nature, available only to a narrow circle of "enlightened", "initiated", or highly educated people. Most late medieval esoteric speculation, for example in alchemy, astrology and magic was constructed on Christian foundations. Therefore, most late medieval western esotericism can be considered as a kind of Esoteric Christianity in which Christian Theology and doctrines are elaborated and combined with esoteric concepts. In this sense, the original Rosicrucian movement may likewise be considered a form of esoteric Christianity.
The emergence of Christianity in Alexandrian Egypt posed a unique threat to the survival of the Royal Art of alchemy. To protect the secrets of Hermetic alchemy from destruction with the emergence of Christianity, many of its practices were encoded in the rites and stories of the new religion, whose true meanings were secretly and carefully preserved by initiates for centuries. When the Inquisition arrived and the church became more dangerously repressive, the myth of a materialistic pseudo-science was created whose aim it was to 'manufacture gold.' Hermetic symbolism and allegory were used to conceal alchemical truth from the profane, yet nonetheless preserve and communicate it among initiates.
According to a legend of the 18th century Golden and Rosy Cross order in Germany, the Rosicrucian order was created when an Alexandrian Gnostic sage named Ormus and his six followers were converted by Mark, one of Jesus' disciples. From this conversion, Rosicrucianism was supposedly born, fusing early Christianity with Egyptian mysteries. There is therefore naturally a strong influence of Esoteric Christianity in the Golden Dawn because this this influence is prevalent in both the Hermetic and Rosicrucian traditions, as was the case with most of most late medieval western esotericism due to the spiritual hegemony of the Christian Church.
The Christian symbolism in the Golden Dawn’s Rosicrucian Second Order does not at all mean that the Golden Dawn is a Christian order. On the contrary, initiates are taught to hold all religions in reverence, as there is a common light of truth underlying them all. Moreover, the Alpha et Omega and its first and second orders, the Golden Dawn and the R.R. et A.C. are extremely synchretistic in their approach. As Qabliistic and Enochian magic find a synthesis in the magic of the R.R. et A.C., likewise Esoteric Christianity is fused with Egyptian Mysteries in the A.O. as well. In fact, S.L. MacGregor Mathers frequently used the slain and resurrected Osiris interchangeably with Christ and at times even with Frater CRC, Christian Rosenkreutz, the legendary Rosicrucian founder.