Heindel, Max

Heindel, Max

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Max Heindel, founder of the Rosicrucian Fellowship, was born July 23, 1865, as Carl Louis von Grasshof, the oldest son in an aristocratic German family. He went to Glasgow, Scotland, to study maritime engineering at age 16 and eventually became chief engineer on an ocean liner. He moved to New York City in 1895, worked as a consulting engineer, and married. He moved to Los Angeles eight years later. There he began occult studies, soon joining the Theosophical Society in America, led by Katherine Tingley. Heindel served as vice president of the Los Angeles branch in 1904–5. He became interested in astrology and began lecturing on it in various cities on the West Coast.

In Germany in 1907, according to Heindel, a spiritual being later identified as an elder brother of the Rosicrucian order appeared in his room, informing him that he had passed a test. He subsequently traveled to the Temple of the Rosy Cross near the border of Germany and Bohemia and remained for a month. There he received information that became The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. He then returned to the United States, and in Columbus, Ohio, established the first center of the Rosicrucian Fellowship in 1908.

Heindel’s teachings differ from the Theosophical Society’s in their greater emphasis on astrology, Christianity, Christian symbols, and a Rosicrucian heritage. His ideas reflect those of Rudolf Steiner.

Following the Ohio center, Heindel soon established centers in Seattle, Washington; North Yakima, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Los Angeles, California. He had a heart problem and was hospitalized in March 1910. While there, he had an out-of-body experience that showed him plans for future work. In August 1910, he married Augusta Foss, a woman he had known before his first wife died in 1905. Part of his hospital vision was fulfilled when Rosicrucian headquarters were established at Mt. Ecclesia near Oceanside, California, in 1911. The grounds included a sanctuary, offices, a woman’s dormitory, cottages, and a vegetarian cafeteria.

Heindel’s final years were productive ones in which he wrote several volumes and a regular column in the Rosicrucian Fellowship’s monthly, Rays from the Rosy Cross. The fellowship was a major force in the spread and popularization of astrology. Astrologers not connected with the fellowship nevertheless use the annual ephemeris and table of houses, both published in Oceanside. Heindel’s wife assumed leadership of the fellowship after he passed away in 1919.


Heindel, Max. The Message of the Stars. Oceanside, CA: Rosicrucian Fellowship, 1963.
Heindel. The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. Seattle: Rosicrucian Fellowship, 1909.
Heindel. Simplified Scientific Astrology. Oceanside, CA: Rosicrucian Fellowship, 1928.
Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America. Detroit: Gale, 1991.
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