Issues of Theosophical History:
Description of Contents

By the Editor: Dr. James Santucci

 

Vol. XV Issue 1 January 2011
Vol. XV Issue 2 April 2011
Vol. XV Issue 3 July 2011
Vol. XV Issue 4 October 2011

Back to Past Issues Description of Contents INDEX

 

Vol. XV, Issue 1 (January 2011)

One more piece of the puzzle centering on the reasons for the establishment of the Theosophical Society has been added: the discovery of the earliest newspaper article reporting its inauguration by the curator of the Emma Hardinge Britten Archive, Marc Demarest. The article, “Latter-Day Magic,” appeared in The Daily Inter-Ocean of Chicago on November 13, 1875, but no likely it probably appeared earlier in the New York Mercury or Sunday Mercury. Its importance validates what appears to be the true purpose of the Society: “the mastery of practical occultism” (Demarest: 1) “tied up with and implicated in the epistemological crisis of Modern Spiritualism, and focused on the establishment of practical occultism as the successor of Modern Spiritualism” (13-14). There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests this to be the true reason behind the establishment of the Society. As strong as this evidence is, however, one must still proceed with some caution and a degree of skepticism. The problem in achieving a full and accurate understanding of the origins of the Society is not the lack of data but rather which data are likely to be more factual and more convincing. Furthermore, there is always that conundrum of determining the likely motivations of its founders and formers. Lastly, we have to accept the fact that commentators and historians often interpreted both the data and the motivations of the principal actors from a romantic or idealized perspective.

When examining the sources, we must also take into account the reaction of those who are confronted with the evidence. Facts can be manipulated for a variety of reasons, one very common reason being ideological. Henry S. Olcott himself admits that there had been from the early years a “growing tendency within the Society to deify Mme. Blavatsky, and to give her commonest literary productions a quasi-inspirational character” (Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, viii). He states elsewhere that

“[t]he formation of the society was heralded with no parade or clamor. No celestial portends appeared, nor did the earth show by seismatic tremors that she was giving birth to another great evolutionary agency. There was just an impromptu meeting in a private drawing-room in New York of a handful of ladies and gentlemen to listen to a discourse on the Egyptian Canon of Proportion, which resolved itself finally into an assemblage which adopted a proposition to form a society for specific purposes—in short, that known as the Theosophical Society (“Theosophy and Theosophists,” The Overland Monthly [May 1901]: 992).

This seems straightforward and plausible; furthermore, Olcott states in this same article that he was the one who proposed forming a society, a recommendation verified in the entry of the Minute Book of the T.S., dated September 8, the main reason being to pursue the type of study that was discussed by the lecturer on the Egyptian Canon of Proportion, George Henry Felt, who claimed to be able to evoke the spirits of the elements or elementals.
The Minute Book was recorded not by Olcott but by William Q. Judge, the Secretary of the fledgling T.S., so this event carries weight due to this second source. What is more is that Olcott’s suggestion came spontaneously, inspired by Felt’s lecture.
There is no doubt that some will reject Mr. Demarest’s determination of the reasons for the Society’s origin. Yet, for a number of years the evidence has slowly been mounting that the origin of the Theosophical Society was instigated by the desire to acquire the capacity to implement esoteric practices or feats of genuine magic such as astral projection. Of course, it is also just as important to understand the reasons behind such practices, not as easy as one might surmise since there are most probably many agendas of its founders, not necessarily in conflict but certainly varying in degree.
This is not the place to rehearse the opinions of the founders and formers of the Theosophical Society. My only purpose here is to consider “Latter-Day Magic” as one more additional building block contributing to an edifice still under construction. We know what it will become, but we do not yet know its final form.
The author-commentator of “A School for Sorcery,” Marc Demarest, is the curator of the Emma Harding Britten Archive (www.ehbritten.org), and a principal in Noumenal, Inc., an international management consulting firm. Mr. Demarest did his graduate work in Victorian Studies at the University of South Carolina, under the supervision of Patrick Scott, and is currently writing a biography of Emma Hardinge Britten and preparing a Victorian Spiritualist reader, both slated for publication in 2011.

Michael Gomes continues his series of contributions, “From the Archives,” with “H.S. Olcott’s Marginalia to Blavatsky’s From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan,” taken from Olcott’s copy of the book that is currently housed in the archives of The Theosophical Society at Adyar. As Mr. Gomes writes, Olcott’s annotations provides “another clue for deciphering the character of Mme. Blavatsky.”
Mr. Gomes is well known to readers of Theosophical History for his numerous and insightful contributions to the field of Theosophical history. Among these contributions are the sixteen-part series entitled “The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to W.Q. Judge” (V/2 ([Apr 1994]–VI/5 [Jan 1997]) and three Occasional Papers: Witness for the Prosecution: Annie Besant’s Testimony on Behalf of H.P. Blavatsky in the N.Y. Sun/Coues Law Case (Theosophical History Occasional Papers, Vol. I), W.T Brown’s “Scenes in My Life” (Theosophical History Occasional Papers, Vol. 4), and The Coulomb Case (Theosophical History Occasional Papers, Vol. X).

The remainder of the issue consists of a communication from Stephan A. Hoeller and three book reviews, two devoted to the last Occasional Paper (Vol. XII)—Agarttha: A Guénonian Manipulation?—and the third entitled De la philosophia perennis au pérennialisme américain. The reviewers are, respectively, William Quinn, Jean-Pierre Laurant, and Joscelyn Godwin.

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Book Notes

Since historical studies on the Theosophical societies infrequently appear in print, it is important to acknowledge those authors and works that contribute significantly to our understanding of the Theosophical movement. Two such authors are Joseph E. Ross and Ted G. Davy.
Joseph Ross’ main interest is the Krotona Institute of Theosophy, which is the headquarters for the Esoteric School of Theosophy and during the early years of the 20th century the headquarters of the American Section of the T.S. and the American headquarters of the Order of the Star in the East, the latter organization that advanced the idea of the coming of the World Teacher through his Vehicle, J. Krishnamurti. Mr. Ross is best known for his early study, Krotona of Old Hollywood: Volume I, 1866–1913 (Montecito, CA: El Montecito Oaks Press, 1989). Four additional volumes have appeared, advancing the history of the Krotona Institute to 1931. The titles are as follows:

Krotona of Old Hollywood: Volume II, 1914–1920. Self-published, 2004).

Krotona: The New Krotona: from Hollywood to Ojai: Volume III, 1921–1922. Self-published, 2009.

Krotona: Krotona in the Ojai Valley: Volume IV, 1923–1926. Self-published, 2009.

Krotona, Theosophy and Krishnamurti, 1927-1931: Archival Documents of the Theosophical Society’s Esoteric Center, Krotona, in Ojai, California. Vol V of the Krotona Series. Self-published, 2011.

A review of Krotona of Old Hollywood: Volume I, appeared in Theosophical History, Vol. III, No. 5 (Jan. 1991): 153-55. In that review, I concluded the following:

. . . the original source material reproduced therein is enough to make the book required reading for all historians of theosophical, communal, and Californian history. Mr. Ross is to be especially commended in shedding light where only lacunae previously existed. It is my fervent hope that succeeding volumes will offer as much insightful material as this . . . initial effort.

Reviews of Volumes II, III, IV, and V will appear in subsequent issues.
All volumes are available from the author at <http://krotonaarchives.com/krotona-series.htm>.

The second author of note, Ted G. Davy, is well known in Canadian circles, mainly due to his tenure as editor of The Canadian Theosophist from 1961 to 1991. Over the course of his editorship, Mr. Davy often included articles on various aspects of Theosophical history, thus making him the rare editor of a Theosophical journal taking an active and continued interest in this field of study. Indeed, Leslie Price sums up Mr. Davy’s contributions very nicely: “Ted was a Theosophical historian before the term was generally used, and quite apart from his editorial work, his correspondents have benefited from a wealth of practical advice and information in their researches” (quoted from Keeping the Link Unbroken: Theosophical Studies Presented to Ted G. Davy on His Seventy-fifth Birthday, edited by Michael Gomes, TRM [Theosophical Research Monographs], 2004, iii).

Many of us were aware that Mr. Davy was working on a major study of the history of the T.S. in Canada. Much to my delight, his efforts have come to fruition with the recent publication of Theosophy in Canada: “The Split” and other Studies in Early Canadian Theosophical History and Some Early Canadian Theosophists (Edmonton, Alberta: Edmonton Theosophical Society, 2011). The title summarizes quite well the contents of the book. “The Split,” mentioned in the title, refers to the events occurring in 1923 and 1924 involving the resignation of some twenty-five percent of the members of the Theosophical Society in Canada and the eventual formation by the spring of 1924 of the Canadian Federation, TS.

The book is divided into two parts: the first part discussing the early years of Theosophy in Canada, the formation of the “Toronto Theosophical Society” in 1891, the years leading to “The Split,” the three visits of Annie Besant to Toronto (1893, 1897, and 1926), and the closing chapter on “The World Religion.”
The second part contains biographical sketches of prominent pioneer Canadian Theosophists, including Dudley Barr, Algernon Blackwood, Charles Lazenby, Roy Mitchell, and Albert E.S. Smythe.

A review of Theosophy in Canada will appear in a future issue.

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Vol. XV, Issue 2 (April 2011)

The lesson learned from the article appearing in this issue is the realization that one need not be a Theosophist to be influenced by Theosophy or that Theosophy must be understood through the insight of Theosophists. Dr. Eugenia Victoria Ellis’ “The Red Square: Frank Lloyd Wright, Theosophy, and Modern Conception of Space” offers revelatory insights in understanding both the Theosophy of the quintessential Theosophist H.P. Blavatsky and the vision of the apparent non-Theosophist and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Although the label “Theosophist” cannot be applied to Mr. Wright, he nonetheless exhibited an insight and skill that illuminated the Theosophical vision. Wright’s introduction of the notion of interiority, his emphasis on space and light, rather than form, guided from “within outwards,” coalesce in his description of his Unity Temple of 1905: “The sense of the room is not only preserved—it may be seen as the soul of the design… the ‘inside’ becoming ‘outside’….” Compare this observation with Blavatsky’s statement appearing in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 274: “The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man—the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm—is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action.” And so we find Wright’s vision conforming to that of Blavatsky’s perspective.
One should not assume, however, that Frank Lloyd Wright worked in a vacuum or that he knowingly and purposefully was guided by Blavatsky’s teachings and observations. The larger theme of Dr. Ellis’ article is that of the esoteric or occult milieu permeating the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Theosophical Society was part of the Western esoteric tradition or as Dr. Ellis identifies it, the Ancient Wisdom, which she describes as “divine knowledge conjoining science with religion.” This phrase can be interpreted in different ways, but in the Theosophical sense beginning with Blavatsky, the Ancient Wisdom denies that science and religion are in any way contradictory since both reveal the Divine. To do so, Wright applied architectural technique to achieve occult (i.e. esoteric) results. Examples of this technique discussed in the article include the Susan Lawrence Dana House, the Darwin D. Martin House, and the Unity Temple.

Dr. Ellis is an Associate Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. With degrees from Virginia Tech, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois at Chicago, she is a partner of BAU Architecture, a practice in Philadelphia dedicated to sustaining, preserving and cultivating the natural and built environment.

Three other entries are included: one a communication from Dr. S. Lloyd Williams responding to Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller’s comment on Dr. Williams’ article appearing in Vol. XIV, No. 3–4, “Did J. Krishnamurti Write At the Feet of the Master?” This subject is almost as contentious as the Judge Case in some Theosophical quarters, so the reader should not be surprised at Dr. Williams’ spirited response.
The other entries are two book reviews, including the latest title from Joscelyn Godwin, Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions and Occult Revelations, followed by the second edition of Dara Eklund’s compilation of William Q. Judge’s writings, one of the more important primary resources on Theosophical teachings. The respective reviewers are John Patrick Deveney, the author of Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Theosophical Society (Theosophical History Occasional Papers, Vol. VI) and Paschal Beverly Randolph, and Dr. John Algeo, the former General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in America and former Vice-President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar). Dr. Algeo is also the editor of H.P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings: The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, Vol. I (2003).

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Adele S. Algeo

Dr. John Algeo has recently informed me of the passing of his wife, Adele, on March 15, 2010 after a long illness. Mrs. Algeo was a longtime editorial collaborator with Dr. Algeo in both Theosophical and linguistic pursuits. Regarding the latter, she assisted Dr. Algeo in the publication, Among the New Words: A Dictionary of Neologisms: 1941–1991 (1991), based upon the column appearing in American Speech, “Among the New Words.” She also contributed a significant article to this journal (XI/3, July 2005), “Beatrice Lane Suzuki and Theosophy in Japan,” significant because it contains six letters written by Mrs. Suzuki in her capacity as an officer of the Theosophical Society. I noted in the Editor’s Comments of that issue introducing her article that this was her first solo venture in publishing, and a worthy one it was. Our condolences to Dr. Algeo and family for their loss.

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A New Theosophical History Occasional Paper

A new publication in the Theosophical History Occasional Paper series is planned for the Winter of 2011 with the publication of John Patrick Deveney’s Free Love, Universal Reform and Fraud: The Economics and Transformation of American Spiritualist Camp-Meetings in the Nineteenth Century. As one might expect from Mr. Deveney, there is a great deal of original research in Spiritualist literature that introduces a number of surprising observations and insights in a number of areas directly and indirectly connected with Spiritualism. More information will be given regarding the publication date and contents of this latest offering.

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Vol. XV, Issue 3 (July 2011)

Associate Editor Gregory Tillett is the main contributor in this issue with an article entitled “Modern Western Magic and Theosophy.” One should note the title as limited to nineteenth and twentieth-century organizations that included marginal Freemasonic organizations (among which is the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia), the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In the context of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), it is the contribution of Charles Webster Leadbeater, not H.P. Blavatsky, that is significant, especially related to the Liberal Catholic Church, Co-Masonry, and the Egyptian Rite of Ancient Freemasonry. The inclusion of modern Western magic in Theosophical teachings through the efforts of Leadbeater and Annie Besant and their followers helps distinguish “Second Generation Theosophy” from First Generation Theosophy, the latter primarily interpreted by Blavatsky and her followers.

Any discussion of “magic” is likely to cause some confusion due to the rich semantic field that allows it to overlap other significant terms: religion, ritual, sorcery, theurgy, occultism and the occult arts, medicine, and science. From a Theosophical viewpoint, many academic interpretations of magic are beside the point, especially those which emphasize either the separation of magic from religion or regard magic and religion as a continuum. From a sociological perspective, discussions regarding magic through the lens of both its practitioners and recipients as clients rather than the community or congregation in religious practice are of even lesser consequence.

Although discussions on the relation between magic and religion are well-known through the works of Sir James Frazier, E.B. Tyler, R.R. Marett, Robert Lowie, E. Durkheim, and others, discussions on the relation between magic and ritual do not necessarily lead to discrete distinctions. Dr. Tillett mentions that a “distinction must be made between ritual and magic” but is careful to explain “ritual magic” as “ritual not primarily viewed as symbolic or even as having a psychological impact on the participants but intended to bring about magical effects independent of the participants.”

Considering the literature on this subject, this explanation is as good as any. Whenever there is a discussion of magic and ritual, the need to set the limits and boundaries of their usage is necessary. Perhaps based upon Max Weber’s example of leaving magic undefined, it is not unusual to find subsequent articles either totally lacking in formal definitions or at least in attempts to explain it. What do we make of a statement such as the one appearing in Hammond’s “Magic: A Problem in Semantics”: “Magic is not an entity distinct from religion but a form of ritual behavior and thus an element of religion.” Compared to this statement, Dr. Tillett’s definition of “ritual magic” at least clarifies his understanding of the concept.
In the context of the article, “ritual magic” incorporates the first part of the title of Dr. Tillett’s article: “Modern Western Magic.” Viewed negatively by Blavatsky, magic was similarly considered in ancient times as illegal, antisocial, and unacceptable. In the late Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon’s assertion that the Bishop of Avila, Priscillian, was the first heretic to be executed (385 CE) due to the practice of magic, still carries weight but perhaps not as convincingly. This attitude is recognized in Daniel Defoe’s A System of Magic: “It is true, as king James I. says in his book of demonology, that under the name of magic all other unlawful arts are comprehended....” Such negative attitudes of magic are carried over to the present day, implying in some quarters bad medicine, bad science, and bad religion: something that others do, not us.

Dr. Tillett’s explanation of ritual magic conforms to “Modern Western magic” as defined in Greenwood, who defines the phrase as a practice “focused on directing the otherworld, and can therefore properly be classed as ‘magic’ in the sense of ‘an attempt to exert power through actions which are believed to have a direct and automatic influence on man, nature and the divine’.”
One final note. “Magic” does not only refer to the aforementioned practice but also has a much more exalted connotation: “SCIENCE OF WISDOM,” which Blavatsky also explains in Isis Unveiled as “true magic or WISDOM,” referring to “the knowledge of these principles [i.e., the “principles of natural law,” including the principles that nature and “man” are triune], and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature’s forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice.” Blavatsky provides further explanation in the first volume of Isis Unveiled, stating that “every true religion was based on a knowledge of the occult powers of nature.”

It is obvious that Blavatsky’s equation of magic and wisdom was one approach in defining the Ancient Wisdom or Theosophy. The implication, if one pursues all the factors that led to the formation of the Theosophical Society and its development in the early New York years, suggests that Theosophy is not merely a theoretical understanding of the hidden laws of the cosmos but also mastery of such laws. Such was the higher magic.

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Two additional contributions appear in this issue: “The Source Teachings Society: Memories and Discoveries” and “Tinkering with History.”
The first offering is an excellent example of oral history from Dr. Albert Vogeler, who recounts his contact with the Source Teachings Society over 60 years ago. This communication provides a slice of Western esoterica situated on the landscape of New York City history virtually unknown to those in this general field of activity. It is a valuable contribution because it is a personal reminiscence of two individuals who are only known indirectly through their accomplishments and activities. As important as the Internet is in providing information on rather obscure objects and individuals, only communications such as Dr. Vogeler’s can bring life to the subjects. We now have accounts of John R. Crowley and May Benzenberg Mayer that shed light on their personalities, which can now add to the memorial account of Mr. Crowley at the Princeton University site at http://paw.princeton.edu/memorials/46/15/index.xml and on May B. Mayer at http://mbmteachings.wordpress.com/. Mayer’s influence may have been more widespread than assumed, since she was considered by Arthur M. Young, founder of the Institute for the Study of Consciousness in Berkeley, California and author of The Reflexive Universe, to be one of “two outstanding people” he had known. How many more shared his opinion?

The second contribution is Joseph Ross’s communication “Tinkering with History,” a comment on S. Lloyd Williams’ “Did J. Krishnamurti write At the Feet of the Master?” (Vol. XIV, No. 3-4). One issue raised revolves around the unavailability of Krishnamurti’s notes/manuscripts from 1910. Although the refusal of the Archives of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) to release these notes is a serious issue, it is not unique to this institution nor is it limited to this subject.

The contributors to this issue are Gregory Tillett, Albert R. Vogeler, and Joseph E Ross. Dr. Tillett completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology at the University of Western Australia and his Doctorate of Philosophy in Religious Studies at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Elder Brother. A Biography of C.W. Leadbeater, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1982. His PhD thesis was C.W. Leadbeater. A Biographical Study, 1986, now available on-line at <http://leadbeater.org>. He was the co-author with Neville Drury of The Occult Sourcebook, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1978 and Other Temples, Other Gods:The Occult in Australia, Methuen, Sydney, 1980. Dr Tillett has taught in religious studies at the University of Sydney and since 1999 has taught in the School of Law at the University of Western Sydney.

Dr. Albert R. Vogeler is an emeritus faculty member of the departments of Liberal Studies and History at California State University, Fullerton, and is currently active in the Patrons of the Library on campus as editor of the Library Lecture Series and contributor of an ongoing series of articles appearing in The Patrons Post. He is co-editor of the publication Very Special Collections: Essays on Library Holdings at California State University, Fullerton (1992). He has also written on various aspects of Victorian cultural history, including biography and religion. Dr. Vogeler received his B.A. in philosophy and M.A., and Ph.D. in British history from Columbia University.

Joseph E. Ross, as noted in the Vol. XV, No. 1 issue of Theosophical History is best known for his ongoing series of studies on the Krotona Institute of Theosophy. Five volumes have been published so far. Mr. Ross is also the author of Krishnamurti: The Taormina Seclusion–1912. For more information on his publications, go to <http://krotonaarchives.com/krotona-series.htm>.

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Vol. XV, Issue 4 (October 2011)

Two articles appear in this issue: Matthew D. Rogers' "The Woman-Messias of the Interpretation and Her Animal Brethren" and John Patrick Deveney's "D.E. de Lara, John Storer Cobb, and The New Era. The first article (titled after an observation made in The Perfect Way on p. 167) features one of the most fascinating women in nineteenth-century Western esotericism, Anna Bonus Kingsford, as feminist and champion of vegetarianism, anti-vivisection, and animal welfare. These activities were approached not only from a secular perspective but more importantly from an esoteric or occultist perspective wherein animals are viewed not as radically divided from the human condition but as sharing in the human experience, in one unequivocal example sharing with humans in the process of transmigration and the progressive evolution that arises from such a process. That animals (and plants) transmigrate is nothing new since it is shared with such ancient religions as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, ascribed to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, his teacher Pherekydes, and later popularized in the nineteenth century by Allan Kardec. Although Kingsford was very much a Western or more specifically, a Christian esotericist, she was an individual who thought and acted outside mainstream thinking combining intellectual with visionary pursuits, advocating ideas that would only take hold in the general populace well over a hundred years later. Because of her revolutionary and often original and distinct approach toward gender and the above-mentioned topics, Anna Kingsford will remain a pervasive influence for many modern-day activists.

The author, Matthew D. Rogers, is an independent scholar of esoteric religion who has received M.A. degrees from the History of Hermetic Thought and Related Currents Program at the University of Amsterdam and from the Religion Department of Northwestern University. He has presented research on Theosophical history at the American Academy of Religion meetings and other academic conferences.

The second article discusses the association of two of the founders (or in Col Olcott's words, "formers") of the Theosophical Society—David E. de Lara and John Storer Cobb—with The New Era, "A Monthly Periodical, Devoted to Humanity, Judaism, and Literature." Although a short-lived journal (1870–1876), it carries relevance to the T.S. since there appears an account in the October 18756 issue corroborating Olcott's account in Old Diary Leaves. Despite a later conflicting account published in the November 23 and 30, 1895 issues of Light arguing that Henry J. Newton, the first Treasurer of the Theosophical Society, first proposed that a society be organized to investigate the claims of George Henry Felt given on September 7, 1875, this early description of the proceedings, perhaps written by Cobb or de Lara, substantially agrees both with the report of Rev. James Henry Wiggin appearing in the September 25, 1875 issue of The Liberal Christian, and in the Minute Book of the TheosophicalSociety (located in the Archives of the Theosophical Society in Altadena). "D.E. de Lara, John Storer Cobb, and The New Era" continues the important discoveries of its author, John Patrick Deveney, who is best known for his study, Paschal Beverly Randolph. Mr. Deveney is a practicing lawyer in New York City who studied at the University of Chicago in the History of Religions with Mircea Eliade, and in recent years has focused his interest on the early Theosophical Society and on the vagaries of spiritualism. He is preparing a book on the introduction of sexual New Thought into Germany at the turn of the twentieth century. His latest contribution will be Theosophical History Occasional Papers, Vol. XIII: Free Love, Universal Reform and Fraud. The publication is due out in June 2012.

The remaining entries include two communications by Associate Editor Leslie Price, both critical of various oversights and inaccuracies vis-à-vis Theosophical history in Dr. Mark Sedgwick’s Against the Modern World, Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century and in René Guénon’s Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-religion (translated from the French Le Théosophisme: Histoire d’une Pseudo-Religion). Dr. Sedgwick responds to Mr. Price’s communication in a forthright manner. In his response, Dr. Sedgwick raises once again the issue of Blavatsky’s acts of plagiarism, declaring it to be as serious in the 1870s/80s as it is today. This may be the case, but Darrell Erixson raises some interesting questions about the degree of seriousness perpetrated by Blavatsky. In his article, “Plagiarism and the Secret Doctrine” (Theosophical History, Vol. XII, No. 3), Erixson paraphrases the opinion of the Dean of Judicial Affairs at California State University, Fullerton, who argues that there is no academic evidence to suggest that the charge of plagiarism could be strictly applied during the 1880s. His conclusion is opposite that of recent assessments: “because of the lack of legal definition and resources to guide the writers of the day, it is hard to prove a charge of plagiarism against Blavatsky.” I raise this only to caution critics that the subject of plagiarism may not have been viewed as gravely then as it is today. Mr. Erixson’s study does suggest that the subject be raised with caution before making what may be unfounded assumptions.

Concluding the contents of the issue are two book reviews, The Quotable Krishnamurti, reviewed by Joseph Conti, and Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic, reviewed by Jeffrey D. Lavoie.