Max Heindel

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Carl Louis von Grasshoff
Christian occultist
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
July 23, 1865
Place of Birth: 
Aarhus, Denmark
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
January 6, 1919


Max Heindel - born Carl Louis von Grasshoff in Aarhus, Denmark on July 23, 1865 - was a Christian occultist, astrologer, and mystic. He died on January 6, 1919 at Oceanside, California, United States.

Early infancy

He was born of the royal family of Von Grasshoffs, who were connected with the German Court during the lifetime of Prince Bismark. The father of Max Heindel, Francois L. von Grasshoff, migrated, when quite a young man, to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he married a Danish woman of noble birth. They had two sons and one daughter. The oldest of these sons was Carl Louis Von Grasshoff, who later adopted the pen name of Max Heindel. The father died when the eldest son was six years of age, leaving the mother with her three small children in very straitened circumstances. His infancy was lived in genteel poverty. His mother's self-denial was carried to an extreme in order that the small income would suffice that her sons and daughter could have private tutors so that they might take their place in society as members of nobility.

Life experience

At the age of sixteen years, refusing a foreseeable future among the nobility class, he left home to enter the ship-yards at Glasgow, Scotland in order to learn the engineering profession. He was soon chosen as Chief Engineer of a trading steamer, position which took him in trips all over the world and gave him a great deal of knowledge of the world and its people. For a number of years he was Chief Engineer on one of the large passenger steamers of the Cunard Line plying between America and Europe. From 1895 to 1901, he was an ill luck consulting engineer in New York City and during this time he married, the marriage being terminated by the death of his wife in 1905. A son and two daughters were born of this marriage.

In 1903, Max Heindel moved to Los Angeles, California, in order to look for a job. Meanwhile, due to his earlier years that had been full of sorrow and to sad events in his own life, an increasingly intense desire to understand the cause of the sorrows and sufferings of humanity began to grow within him, as well as a desire to help alleviate them. Giving a new course to his life, he became interested in the study of metaphysics and, after attending lectures by the theosophist C.W. Leadbeater, he joined the Theosophical Society of Los Angeles, of which he was vice-president in 1904 and 1905. He also became a vegetarian and began the study of astrology, which he found to his delight gave him the key by means of which he found he could unlock the mysteries of man's inner nature. At this time, he met Augusta Foss who was also interested along similar lines of research and in astrology; she would become his future wife. However, overwork and privation brought on him a severe heart trouble in 1905 and for months he lay at the point of death but upon recovery he was even more keenly awake to the needs of humanity. It is said that much of the time during this illness he spent out of the body, consciously working and seeking for the truth as he might find it on the invisible planes.

From 1906 to 1907 he started a lecture tour, in order to spread his occult knowledge, in San Francisco and then in Seattle and in the northern part of the country. After a course of lectures in that city he was again forced to spend some time in a hospital with valvular heart trouble. Still undaunted, he once more took up his work of lecturing in the northwestern part of the United States.

In the fall of 1907, during a most successful period of lectures in Minnesota, he travelled to Berlin (Germany) with his friend Dr. Alma Von Brandis, who had been for months trying to persuade him, in order to hear a cycle of lectures by a teacher in the occult field called Rudolf Steiner. During his short stay at Germany, he developed a sincere admiration of the personality of this knowledgeable lecturer, as latter shown in the dedication of his magnum opus ("esteemed teacher and value friend"). He sat in on several lectures and had one or two interviews with Steiner and he could learn about occult truth from the founder of later Anthroposophy, but at the same time he understood that this teacher had little to give to him. It was then, with his mind already made up to return, feeling that in vain he had given up a big work in America to take this trip, that Heindel reports to have been visited by a Spiritual being (clothed in his vital body).

The highly evolved entity that visited Heindel eventually identified himself as an Elder Brother of the Rosicrucian Order, an Order in the inner worlds formed in the year 1313 and having no direct connection to physical organizations which call themselves by this name. As he afterwards mentions, the Elder Brother gave him information which was concise and logical and beyond anything he was capable of writing. Later, he found out that during a previous visit of the Elder Brother, he was put to a test to determine his worthiness to be messenger of the Western Wisdom Teachings. He recounts that only then he was given instruction how to reach the etheric Temple of the Rose Cross, near the German/Bohemian border, and how at this Temple he was in direct communication with and under the personal instructions of the Elder Brothers of the Rose Cross. The Rosicrucian Order is described as being composed of twelve Elder Brothers, gathered around a thirteenth who is the invisible Head. These great Adepts, belonging to human evolution but having already advanced far beyond the cycle of rebirth, are reported as being among those exalted Beings who guide mankind's evolution, the Compassionate Ones.

Heindel-Steiner connection

Current research on the connection between the two seers Max Heindel and Rudolf Steiner, bearing some similarities to the Shakespeare-Bacon authorship in the literary field, describes that "he[Heindel] felt that what Steiner was doing was not appropriate for America where pragmatism and clear linear thinking is predominant" and "that he did not find what he was looking for there (a Western oriented spirituality that was accessible to the general public)".It is also described that Heindel's magnum opus [see following section] having a "more far-reaching body of Teachings" contains "information not otherwise available in the public domain or available without supersensible perception of an advanced degree".This body of Teachings, Western Wisdom Teachings, was further developed in Heindel's subsequent investigations and works and it is not available in Steiner or any other source as it contains material and specific clairvoyant accounts "not be found elsewhere in any occult sources"; thus, it is concluded through the available sources that "The similarities are due to a common source to both men (Rosicrucian influences and teachers)".

Magnum opus

Heindel returned to America in the summer of 1908 where he at once started to formulate the Rosicrucian teachings, the Western Wisdom Teachings, which he had received from the Elder Brothers, published as a book entitled The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception in 1909. It is a reference work in the Christian mysticism practice and in the Occult study literature, containing the fundamentals of Esoteric Christianity from a Rosicrucian perspective. The Cosmo contains a comprehensive outline of the evolutionary processes of man and the universe, correlating science with religion.

From 1909 to 1919, suffering a severe heart condition and with an adverse financial situation, but with an indomitable will and great energy, Max Heindel was able to accomplish the great work for the Brothers of the Rose Cross. With the help, support and inspiration of his wife Augusta Foss, to whom in August 1910 he was joined in marriage, he gave successful teaching lectures; he sent correspondence lessons to the students, who formed groups in many of the larger cities; he wrote volumes which are translated into many languages all over the world; he founded The Rosicrucian Fellowship in 1909/11 at Mount Ecclesia, Oceanside (California); he published the Christian Esoteric magazine Rays from the Rose Cross in 1913 and, above all, he launched the Fellowship's Spiritual Healing service.

It is described that, at his death, his body dropped slowly as if loving hands were holding him and laying him down gently; as he looked up, smiling into Mrs. Heindel face, he spoke his last words: "I am all right dear".

Last, it is worthy of mention that the work prepared by Max Heindel, has been, since then, continued through students of the Western Wisdom Teachings who, as Invisible Helpers of mankind, assist the Elder Brothers of the Rose Cross to perform the Spiritual Healing around the world. This is the special work in which the Rosicrucian Order is interested[4] and is provided according to the commands of Christ, namely, "Preach the gospel and heal the sick."



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