Issues of Theosophical History:
Description of Contents

By the Editor: Dr. James Santucci

 

Vol. XII Issue 1 January 2006
Vol. XII Issue 2 April 2006
Vol. XII Issue 3 July 2006
Vol. XII Issue 4 October 2006

Back to Past Issues Description of Contents INDEX

 

Vol. XII, Issue 1 (January 2006)

2005 marked both the 20th anniversary of the inception of Theosophical History and my 15th year as editor. To acknowledge these two events, I thought it appropriate to write a retrospective of the journal’s origins and its contributions to Theosophical research. The article, “Theosophical History—A Metahistory,” appearing in the January 2005 issue, was partially based upon the reminiscence of the journal’s founder, Leslie Price, in a communication appearing in the April 2000 issue. Titled “In the Beginning,” Mr. Price recounted his efforts and motivation leading to the journal’s establishment. He assumed a “beneficial relationship between Theosophy and History,” an opinion not always held in Theosophical quarters. Furthermore, he wanted an independent journal not associated with the T.S. or any other Theosophical group, but displaying a stance of “sympathetic neutrality” (TH I/1: 2). When I assumed the editorship, I affirmed its role “as an independent, impartial and scholarly journal conforming to the standards and expectations of the academic community” (TH III/1, 1990: 2), adding in a later issue that the journal is “first and foremost a history journal that considers Theosophical topics from a wholly empirical perspective” (TH IV/2: 33).
These remarks are worth repeating on a periodical basis to avoid any confusion about the nature of the journal. Historians of the Theosophical Society and related movements have generally been more concerned with the actions of the participants within the Movement than with the actual teachings of Theosophy. In this context, our understanding of the Theosophical world has expanded greatly, due in large part to the renewed interest in the field of Theosophical history both within Academe and Theosophical circles. It is therefore befitting that the article by Michael Gomes, “The Enduring Relevance of HPB,” should be considered. Originally presented at the 2005 Theosophical History conference in London, this retrospective of Theosophical research is complementary to Mr. Price’s and my articles mentioned above, but it is also more global in scope since it regards the full range of research and not simply the research appearing in this journal. On the other hand, the subject matter is limited to its most influential character, H.P. Blavatsky, emphasizing as it does her continued significance and presence in the esoteric world. Why her popularity persists and why it is attractive to historians of all persuasions are due to her originality in articulating Theosophy, her depth of understanding of esotericism, and her ability to synthesize the evidence required to comprise a grand cosmic system rarely equaled before or since. Mr. Gomes’ remarks are timely since one can
?not help but notice this continued “renaissance” of Theosophical research.

Also appearing in this issue are two communications and three reviews. Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller’s reaction to Michel Hendriks’ review of Theosophie und Antroposophie, which appeared in the last issue, offers some observations of a prominent but not especially well-known Theosophist, Wilhelm Hübbe-Schleiden, and his rival, Rudolf Steiner. These observations are based upon Dr. Hoeller’s friendship with Hübbe-Schleiden’s late nephew, Paul Hübbe.

The second communication, Katinka Hesselink’s reaction to David Reigle’s “The Centennial Cycle” (TH XI/4), reflects the interest of many Theosophists toward this subject. Mr. Reigle’s article discusses the dating of the manifestation of the 100-year cycle during the course of the century. The significance of this centennial cycle, according to Blavatsky, revolves around the efforts of the Arhats—or in Theosophical terms, the Himalayan Brotherhood—to reveal elements of the Secret Wisdom to the West. Whether this revelation is effected through the coming of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, as Mr. Reigle suggests, or whether there are other possible candidates, as Ms Hesselink suggests, is the subject of the communication.

Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller is well-known as a Bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica in Los Angeles, author of numerous books on Gnosticism—including The Gnostic Jung, Jung and the Lost Gospels, and Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing—and as a prodigious lecturer on this and other related topics.

Katinka Hesselink is a Dutch Theosophist who publishes an online newsletter, Lucifer7, and maintains a Website, http://www.katinkahesselink.net, which covers numerous Theosophical and related topics, including, J. Krishnamurti, Buddhism, and Sufism.

Three book reviews appear in this issue: Kim Farnell’s Mystical Vampire: The Life and Works of Mabel Collins; Andrew Collins’ From the Ashes of Angels: The Forbidden Legacy of a Fallen Race; and The Secret King: Karl Maria Wiligut, Himmler’s Lord of the Runes, translated and introduced by Stephen Flowers and edited by Michael Moynihan. Readers may recall that Ms Farnell contributed an article on “The Life and Works of Mabel Collins” in the April 2004 issue.

Of the two reviewers, Nancy Danger was a student in the Comparative Religion Department at California State University, Fullerton from 1998 to 2002 and is currently a student at the Claremont School of Theology (Claremont, CA) working towards an MA in Religion. Nancy is the second of my former students to appear in the journal, the first being Charles Schofield, whose interview of Dr. Stephan Hoeller appears in the XI/3 issue.
Mark Stavish is Director of Studies for the Institute for Hermetic Studies, an author of numerous reviews and articles, and a recognized authority on Hermeticism. For more information on the Institute and Mr. Stavish, go to http://www.hermeticinstitute.org. His forthcoming publications include The Path of Alchemy: Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic (Oct. 2006), and Healing Paths: Qabala for Health and Wellness (Feb. 2007).

The final entry marks the passing of Gabriel E. Blechman, an associate of the U.L.T., a computer systems designer, and a contributor to the journal, Serapeum. The author, Jerry Hejka-Ekins, is a well-known bibliophile and founder of Alexandria West, a library cum archive focusing on the perennial wisdom traditions. Among its publishing efforts is Serapeum, which contains original articles and reprints from its archives on the wisdom traditions. Further information on Alexandria West and its mission appears at http://www.alexandriawest.org.

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The John Cooper Collection

John Cooper, as many readers already know, was perhaps Australia’s greatest historian of the Theosophical movement. He was a lecturer, scholar, and one of the world’s foremost archivists and collectors of Theosophical material. When he died suddenly in 1998, he left an extensive collection of books, pamphlets, and papers on the Theosophical Movement, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Gnosticism. What happened to this collection has been a frequent subject since his death. Sometimes news is very slowly disclosed, but reveal itself it does. An article by Philip Jackson in the National Library of Australia Gateways (no. 57, June 2002) announced the following: “The National Library has just taken delivery of a very large collection of books, serials and archival material donated by the family of Dr John Cooper, a notable Australian historian of the Theosophical Movement.” The full story appears on the National Library’s website at http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/gateways/archive/57/p14a01.html.

Known as the Dr John Cooper Theosophy Collection, the Library’s holdings consists of “nearly 4,000 books and pamphlets, more than 240 serial titles and 30 large boxes of archival material. The book component of the…Collection has been kept together as a formed collection. The serials have been integrated into the Library’s Serials Collection and the archival component is housed in the Manuscripts Stack.”

For more information go to http://www.nla.gov.au/collect/ cooper.html. This site also provides five rich text and PDF files, totaling almost 400 pages, listing the books in the collection. Information about the use of the Library and of borrowing the books are also found on this site.
My thanks to Leslie Price for alerting me to this development.

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Vol. XII, Issue 2 (April 2006)

No event or exposé has damaged The Theosophical Society or its chief theoretician, H.P. Blavatsky, more than the Hodgson Report of 1885 and the “Coulomb Case” the previous year. Apropos the latter, Mrs. Emma Coulomb claimed that Blavatsky had produced fraudulent psychic phenomena and forged letters supposedly written by her Masters or Mahatmas. Because of this charge, Blavatsky was investigated by Richard Hodgson (1855 – 1905) at the behest of the Society for Psychical Research [SPR]. It was the outcome of Hodgson’s investigation that led to the well-known 1885 Hodgson Report. What the report concluded was that Mrs. Coulomb’s claims were true and, even more damaging, that the existence of the Masters, Adepts, or Mahatmas was false. In the concluding statement of the Report, the following remarks were made:

In the first place, a large number of letters produced by M. and Madame Coulomb, formerly Librarian and Assistant Corresponding Secretary respectively of the Theosophical Society were, in the opinion of the best experts in handwriting, written by Madame Blavatsky. These letters, which extend over the years 1880-1883 inclusive, and some of which were published in the Madras Christian College Magazine for September 1884, prove that Madame Blavatsky has been engaged in the production of a varied and long-continued series of fraudulent phenomena, in which she has been assisted by the Coulombs. …
In the second place, apart altogether from either these letters or the statements of the Coulombs, who themselves allege that they were confederates of Madame Blavatsky, it appears from my own inquiries concerning the existence and the powers of the supposed Adepts or Mahatmas, and the marvelous phenomena alleged to have occurred in connection with the Theosophical Society,

1. That the primary witnesses to the existence of a Brotherhood with occult powers,—viz., Madame Blavatsky, Mr. Damodar K. Mavalankar, Mr. Bhavani Shankar, and Mr. Babajee D. Nath,—have in other matters deliberately made statements which they must have known to be false, and that therefore their assertions cannot establish the existence of the Brotherhood in question.

2. That the comparison of handwritings further tends to show that Koot Hoomi Lal Sing and Mahatma Morya are fictitious personages, and that most of the documents purporting to have emanated from these “personages,” and especially from “K.H.” (Koot Hoomi Lal Sing), are in the disguised handstyle of the K. H. handwriting; and that some of the K. H. writing is the handiwork of Mr. Damodar in imitation of the writing developed by Madame Blavatsky.

3. That in no single phenomenon which came within the scope of my investigation in India, was the evidence such as would entitle it to be regarded as genuine, the witnesses for the most part being exceedingly inaccurate in observation or memory, and having neglected to exercise due care for the exclusion of fraud; while in the case of some of the witnesses there has been much conscious exaggeration and culpable misstatement.

4. That not only was the evidence insufficient to establish the genuineness of the alleged marvels, but that evidence furnished partly by my own inspection, and partly by a large number of witnesses, most of them Theosophists, concerning the structure, position, and environment of the Shrine, concerning “Mahatma” communications received independently of the Shrine, and concerning various other incidents, including many of the phenomena mentioned in “The Occult World,” besides the numerous additional suspicious circumstances which I have noted in the course of dealing in detail with the cases considered, renders the conclusion unavoidable that the phenomena in question were actually due to fraudulent arrangement.
[Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. III: 1885 (London: Trübner and Co., Ludgate Hill, 1885), 312–13]

One should not be surprised to find a number of editorials both critical and supportive of the Report, including many from Hodgson himself (Michael Gomes, Theosophy in the Nineteenth Century (NY and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994, no. 1856 – 1862). Among the many spirited defenses of Blavatsky was the 1963 publication of Walter A. Carrithers’ (under the nom de plume Adlai E. Waterman] Obituary: The “Hodgson Report” on Madame Blavatsky (available online at http://www.blavatskyfoundation.org/obituary.htm), certainly the most effective defense in vindicating Blavatsky. In the book, Carrithers’ response to Hodgson’s charges that the Mahatmas K.H. and M. were fictions and that their letters were obviously fraudulent was that “no professional handwriting expert has ever publicly proclaimed the Mahatma letters—or any specimen thereof—to be forgeries or in “feigned handwriting” (p. 48), a statement originating sixteen years earlier in his The Truth About Madame Blavatsky (Covina, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1947), 21.

This deficiency was corrected with the publication of Vernon Harrison’s “J’ACCUSE An Examination of the Hodson Report of 1885” (JSPR, vol. 53, no. 803, April 1986): 286–310, since republished with additional material by the Theosophical University Press in 1997 under the title, H.P. Blavatsky and the SPR. Mr. Harrison’s conclusion in the 1986 article was that the evidence “against Madame H.P. Blavatsky is not proven” (p. 309). The letters were not written by her, and indeed he wrote, “I do not know who wrote the Mahatma Letters, but I do not find it plausible to assume that Madame Blavatsky wrote them—the great bulk of them at any rate” (308). This is a justifiable statement given the state of the evidence at that time. However, in his evaluation eleven years later, a more confident and sympathetic conclusion is given (Harrison, 1997: 67):

4) Having read the Mahatma Letters in the holographs, I am left with the strong impression that the writers KH and M were real and distinct human beings. They had their fair share of prejudice and were influenced by the viewpoint of their time.

5) Who KH was I do not know, but I am of the opinion that all letters in the British Library initialed KH originated from him. The basic characteristics of his handwriting are present from first to last, but in the earliest letters in particular there are variations in and distortions of some of the characters. These variations do not bear the hallmark of the apprentice forger.

Mr. Harrison’s opinions and conclusions do not end here, including the possibility that “[i]f any of the KH and M scripts came through the hand of Madame Blavatsky while she was in a state of trance, sleep, or other altered states of consciousness known to psychologists and psychiatrists, KH and M might be considered sub-personalities of Helena Blavatsky” (Harrison, 1997, 68).
Although Mr. Harrison’s conclusions have been accepted without question by many Theosophists, Kerri Barry, the author of “Genius, Fraud or Phenomenon? The Unsolved Case of H.P. Blavatsky” raises the issue of Mr. Harrison’s own methodology and consideration of this subject. Her approach is cautious and critical, the latter to be taken in the sense of an intellectual, rational discussion of the topic. What is sometimes missing in discussions of particularly controversial topics is a dispassionate discussion and suspension of judgment. The position in Ms Barry’s paper is not so much Blavatsky’s deliberately forging the letters, but whether these letters were either the product of an altered state of consciousness or the product, by occult means, of separate individual entities. Nonetheless, the question of forgery cannot be discounted. One question raised by Hodgson was the role of Damodar in two KH letters, designated (Y) and (Z), discussed in the SPR Report (293–97, 312) and specimens appearing in Plates I and II. Hodgson was certain that Damodar had a hand in producing these letters. If so, it is curious that Mr. Harrison did not investigate Damodar’s handwriting, even though he quotes the relevant passage in the SPR Report on pages 15–16. The reason for the inclusion of the SPR quote by Mr. Harrison has nothing to do with handwriting analysis but rather the apparent unprofessional attempt on Hodgson’s part to change the handwriting expert F.G. Netherclift’s opinion of Damodar’s non-involvement in the production of the Mahatma letters. What we are left with, therefore, is uncertainty about this whole issue. If H. P. Blavatsky did not write the letters, this does not prove the existence or authenticity of the Masters and the Mahatma letters. Conclusive proof of their existence and authenticity will?most likely never be advanced at this late stage. I therefore caution the reader regarding Mr. Harrison’s work: it only increases additional doubt regarding the veracity of the Mahatma Letters.

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The passing of the Leader of the Theosophical Society is a significant event, so it is appropriate to include not only the notice of Grace F. Knoche’s passing on February 18, but also a sample of her writings (“Theosophy and the Theosophical Society”), the Memorial Service held on February 26, and a personal reminiscence of Will Thackara, the manager of the Theosophical University Press. On the few occasions I have discussed Theosophical and other topics with Ms Knoche, she has consistently been encouraging and supportive. My observation of her was of a intelligent, generous, wise, and somewhat self-effacing individual with a great deal of common sense, a perfect combination of all these qualities, it would seem, for the position of Leader of this illustrious organization. As would be expected, the Memorial Service produced many touching observations about Ms Knoche revealing the impact she had on the lives of those who knew her. She certainly will be missed by all who have had the privilege of meeting and communicating with her.

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The death of Robert Amadou cannot go unnoticed. Antoine Faivre describes him as “a historian of the first rank for Western esotericicm” (Access to Western Esotericism [Albany: SUNY Press, 1994], 98) authoring such works as L’Occultisme: Esquisse d’un monde vivant (Paris: Julliard, 1950 and Paris: Chanteloup, 1987), one of the first studies on Western Esotericism; Trésor martiniste (Paris: Villain et Belhomme, 1969), a major work on Illuminism; an edited work, Aspects de l’Illuminisme au XVIIIème siècle (Paris: H. Roudil); numerous works on Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and dozens of other works on various topics in Western Esotericism.

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Vol. XII, Issue 3 (July 2006)

Two topics that are significant to Theosophists and the history of the Theosophical Society appear in this issue: the charge of plagiarism allegedly committed by H.P. Blavatsky in her significant writings, and the Judge Case of the 1890s.

The charge of plagiarism has plagued Blavatsky since a Spiritualist, William Emmett Coleman, accused her, in a series of articles written from 1888 to 1895, of falsely claiming as her own the words of 25 authors. In the present day, this is a most serious charge, but was it as serious in the 19th century and earlier? This is the issue raised in the paper, “Plagiarism and the Secret Doctrine.” Its author, Darrell Erixson, was introduced to this topic in my Esotericism and Theosophy class at California State University, Fullerton. When a charge such as plagiarism is made, it carries with it serious consequences, not least of which pertaining to the character of the alleged plagiarist. Without any questioning of the source, some historians simply repeat the accusation without commenting on its veracity. Perhaps the worst example is Bruce Campbell’s emphasis on this issue in his Ancient Wisdom Revised (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980). The question remains, however, what is meant by plagiarism, and how serious a charge was it in H.P. Blavatsky’s day?

Although I am repeatedly told that plagiarism is well defined, I know from personal experience that beyond the usual conception that it refers to the uncited copying of words, there is the issue of intentionality that sometimes is taken into account. Did the writer knowingly and willingly copy the passage? Aside from trusting writers who claim that they were unaware what they have done, some administrators or faculty might claim that ignorance is not an excuse for innocence. On the other hand, it may be that some phrases, definitions, or descriptions are so common that they may be viewed as clichés. This becomes an issue when a Website such as Turnitin.com is employed to detect plagiarism. Then again, what if plagiarism refers to the misappropriation of ideas? To what extent should this standard be followed?

Mr. Erixson has pursued this issue in a very careful manner by reviewing the current definition or description of plagiarism—the “inappropriate use of the ideas…of another writer”—and by examining its place in history. Indeed, it is this latter investigation that leads to his conclusion that Blavatsky, as a result of her newly acquired U.S. citizenship in 1878, was not subject to the document that legally protected all literary and artistic works from misappropriation by others.

The cause for this action was due to the hesitation of foreign exhibitors to display their inventions at the 1873 International Exhibition of Inventions (Vienna) for fear that they would be stolen (<http://www.wipo.int> and <http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/general>). The fallout from this reluctance was potentially economically damaging, eventually resulting in the Paris Convention of 1883, which provided protection of industrial property. More appropriately to the issue in question was the establishment of the Berne Convention of 1886, agreed upon with the intention of protecting literary and artistic works. This Convention has since undergone numerous revisions over the past century. Mr. Erixson’s conclusion reflects this chronology. Since Blavatsky became a citizen of the U.S. in 1878, and because the U.S. did not become a signatory until 1989, the issue of plagiarism is legally moot for U.S. citizens. If this is correct, the only question that remains is why Coleman brought up the charges in the first place. Perhaps plagiarism was considered more of an ethical or moral issue; perhaps it was due to ignorance of the law or lack thereof. Or could it be animus toward Blavatsky pure and simple? The moral issue is certainly true today amongst various organizations such as the American Historical Association. As is always the case in issues such as plagiarism, solutions bring more questions.

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The second contribution is Ernest Pelletier’s “The Judge Case—Exhibit ‘A,” a response to Brett Forray’s review (TH, April 2005) of his book, The Judge Case: A Conspiracy Which Ruined The Theosophical CAUSE (2004). Aside from the publication of The Theosophical Movement in 1875–1950 (1951), The Judge Case is the only work that has seriously dealt with this controversy in over half a century. The charges that were made against the Vice President of the Theosophical Society, William Q. Judge, led to the separation or declaration of autonomy—depending upon the legal interpretation—of The American Section T.S. from the Adyar T.S., at the Ninth Annual Convention of the American Section and First Convention of the Theosophical Society in America (April 28–29, 1895). Mr. Pelletier has collected what must be every bit of available evidence that relates to the charges against Judge and the subsequent separation of the Societies. Among the issues raised by the Case, the one that stands out is the influence of the Black Magicians, whom Judge believed to have instigated the Hindu members of the Society and Annie Besant to oppose Judge’s work. This is the conspiracy referred to in the title and sub-title of the book. As Mr. Forray writes, “Mr. Pelletier’s analysis of the material is calculated to uphold the conspiracy that Judge first presented in an Esoteric Section circular issued well into the conflict on November 3, 1894” (p. 15). It is only fair to Mr. Pelletier that he have the opportunity to respond to Mr. Forray’s review and to clarify his position further. Regardless of the side the reader takes, Mr. Pelletier is to be congratulated for compiling this material and for making The Judge Case such a valuable resource for researchers.

The last item in this issue is a reprint of the obituary of Gladney Oakley, appearing, with permission, in Theosophy in Australia (vol. 70, March 2006). Mr. Oakley was the visionary behind The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals and Other Materials, a listing of a growing number of Theosophical articles (143,000 at last count) appearing in 120 Theosophical journals. This work is online at <http://www.austheos. org.au/indices/pindex. htm# fulllist>.

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Vol. XII, Issue 4 (October 2006)

The managing director of CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions), Professor Massimo Introvigne, presented a paper with the intriguing title, “Who Is Irma Plavatsky? Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and the Internationalization of Popular Culture from the Dime Novel to The Da Vinci Code,” at the annual CESNUR Conference, held this year at California State University, San Diego from July 13 to 16.  The point of the paper is that conspiracy theories “prosper because they are the stuff of popular literature.”  Beginning in the 1840s with the feuilleton, a newspaper supplement containing serialized novels, the genre led to the British  “penny dreadfuls” and to the later dime novels and the pulps.  Of particular interest was the introduction of esoterica in dime novels published in Europe, an example being the introduction of a character, Sâr Péladan, modeled after the leader of the Catholic Order of the Rosy Cross, or the Temple and the Grail, Joséphin Péladan (1858–1918).  In the U.S.,  the Nick Carter novels of Frederic Van Renssalaer Dey introduced a Tibetan black magician and villain, Dazaar, who possessed a client of Nick Carter’s, Irma Plavatsky.  The details surrounding Irma/Dazaar and his/her relation with Carter, coupled with the practice of soul transference by the members of the Great White Lodge—including Dazaar, a former member who was expelled from the Lodge for taking on a female body (Irma’s)—provides a fascinating introduction    of esoterica into popular culture.  Studies such as Professor Introvigne’s demonstrate once again demonstrate that esoteric and Theosophical ideas and practices often appear in a variety of unsuspected venues.

            The second article, “Who Knew H.P.B. When?—Lydia Paschkoff,” is another of John Patrick Deveney’s studies of witnesses to Blavatsky’s pre-New York days.  Like Albert Leighton Rawson, who claimed to have met Blavatsky during the period 1851 to 1853 (Theosophical History, X/4), Lydia Paschkoff met H.P.B. in Syria in 1872 while traveling in the desert between Baalbek and the Orontes.  It was she who,  according to Blavatsky, contacted her about her old friend, Agardi Metrovitch, who had fallen ill in Alexandria. A minor episode in her early life to be sure but evidence indicating that Blavatsky did travel to the Egypt and Syria.    

            Leslie Price’s communication comments on an alternative Theosophical teaching by A.P. Sinnett regarding Mars.  What is of special interest is the growing awareness that Theosophical teaching does not derive solely from H.P. Blavatsky.  Sinnett spent the greater part of his Theosophical career developing a Theosophical teaching that was in some sense at odds with Blavatsky’s version.  Organizationally, he disseminated his teaching through the semi-autonomous London Lodge.  Mr. Price also observes that the teachings presented by Sinnett herein are also not in agreement with that other great Theosophical commentator, C. W. Leadbeater, somewhat surprising since Leadbeater was also a member of the London Lodge. 

            Two book notes on the Western Esoteric Masters Series are provided by Robert Boyd.   Associate Editor Jerry Hejka-Ekins also contributes an extensive review of The Esoteric Papers of Madame Blavatsky, compiled by Daniel H. Caldwell.  Mr. Hejka-Ekins is the founder of Alexandria West, a library cum archive focusing on the perennial wisdom traditions.

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ANNOUNCING

A NEW PUBLICATION

Theosophical History Occasional Papers

Vol. XI

A Quest for the Historical Levi:

The Age of Aquarius as It Dawned in the Mind of Levi Dowling

By John Benedict Buescher

This is a biography of Levi H. Dowling (1844–1911), author of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, which was first published in 1908.  Dowling began as a Church of Christ evangelist and Sunday school organizer in the Midwest.  He added New Thought healing practices to his preaching and, just before the turn of the century, turned his attention to the study of an amalgam of occult arts.  He left the Church of Christ and associated himself with spiritualists and Theosophists, and, in 1903, moved to Los Angeles to help usher in the New Age.  There, convinced that he was the medium for a new revelation, he produced The Aquarian Gospel, a supplement, as he regarded it, to the traditional Gospels.  It filled in the gaps in their narrative, describing Jesus as an initiate into an esoteric brotherhood in Egypt, and a traveler to India and Tibet.  After the book’s publication, he formed an occult society in Los Angeles, which he called “The Aquarian Commonwealth,” and which, from 1909, published The New Age Magazine for its members.  The society’s activities were cut short by Dowling’s death of a heart attack in 1911.  The Aquarian Gospel, however, continued to find readers and to influence the development of esotericism, being extensively quoted, for example, by AMORC founder Spencer Lewis in his Mystical Life of Christ, playing a part in the Sixties’ countercultural “Age of Aquarius” and in the 1964 founding of the Five Percent Nation by Clarence 13X.

PUBLICATION DATE: JUNE 15, 2007

PRE-PUBLICATION PRICE:   $18.00

AFTER JUNE 15:  $25.00.

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THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY CONFERENCE

Word comes from Leslie Price that a Theosophical History Conference may take place in London on July 7 and 8, 2007.  As arrangements become solidified, I will place additional information on the Theosophical History Website at http://www.theohistory.org.

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