Past Issues of Theosophical History:
Description of Contents
By the Editor: Dr. James Santucci

Vol. III, Issue 1 (January 1990)
Vol. III, Issue 2 (April 1990)

Vol. III, Issue 3 (July 1990)
Unavailable
Vol. III, Issue 4 (October 1990)
Unavailable
Vol. III, Issue 5 (January 1991)

Vol. III, Issue 6 (April 1991)
Vol. III, Issue 7-8 (July–October 1991)

Back to Past Issues Description of Contents INDEX

Volume III, Issue 1(January 1990)

This is the revised edition of the first issue of the New Series. In the preparation of this online issue some corrections have been made to the text. Also, the endnotes to Part One of Catharine Lowman Wessinger's "Service to India as Service to the World" have been added.

The editorial "A New Beginning," appears on the "Full Text Articles" page

Volume III, Issue 2 (April 1990)

This issue contains three articles, two of which are concerned with the periphery of the theosophical movement. The first, "The Provocation of the Hydesville Phenomena," is by an associate editor of Theosophical History and past contributor to the journal, Joscelyn Godwin. Dr. Godwin, the author of the Theosophical History Centre pamphlet (Theosophy in France), numerous works on the Western esoteric tradition and music, the most recent being Paul Brunton: Essential Readings (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Crucible, 1990), is a member of the Department of Music at Colgate University in New York.

The second article, "Lama Dorjieff and the Esoteric Tradition," is again bhy a past contributor to this journal, Jeffrey Somers. Mr. Somers, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, has written numerous articles on Asian topics, including "Japanese Buddhism in Great Britain" for London University's Religion Today. Lama Dorjieff has been the object of Mr. Somer's ongoing research for a number of years.

The final article is the conclusion of Catherine Lowman Wessinger's "Service to India as Service to the World: Annie Besant's Work in India for Human Rights." Dr. Wessinger teaches at Loyola-Maryount College in New Orleans, Louisiana and is the author of Annie Besant and Progressive Messianism (1847–1933) (Lewston/Queenston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1988).

Volume III, Issue 5 (January 1991)

Theosophical History finally enters 1991 with this issue. The present issue continues and completes Professor Godwin’s “The Hidden Hand”, the first three parts of which previously appearing in III/2-4. This final study investigates the somewhat mysterious Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor.

One of the interests of this journal is the exploration of theosophical societies and movements in countries not usually associated with such organizations. Professor Bernardino del Boca, a former Italian Consul in Singapore, was kind enough to send information on what he calls in the title of his essay, “The First Practical Expression of Theosophy in Italy: The Villagio Verde.”

Reviews are also included of two rather significant historical publications. The first book, In Search of the Masters by Paul Johnson, is bound to generate considerable discussion. Just who the Mahatmas in the Theosophical Society are has been argued since the inception of the Society. The last significant discussion on these mysterious personages came with the Hare brothers’ denial of their very existence in their book Who Wrote the Mahatma Letters? (by Harold Edward Hare and William Loftus Hare [London: Williams and Norgate Ltd., 1936]). Mr. Johnson has taken a more middle-of-the road approach, indicating that they were neither superhuman nor figments of Madame Blavatsky’s imagination. The review is contributed by Dr. Gregory Tillett of Macquarie University (Australia). The second review examines Joseph Ross’s publication on the origins of the Krotona Institute of Hollywood (California). Mr. Ross has provided us with much valuable information not only of the Institute but also of the American Section of the Theosophical Society during the early portion of the twentieth century. We eagerly await future volumes of this study.

Please note the cover photograph for the July 1990 journal is of Annie Besant wearing the Cagliostro Jewel. See the page 79 drawing of that jewel. The picture was donated by Mr. Joseph E. Ross.

Volume III, Issue 6 (April 1991)

One of the purposes of Theosophical History is to include informative articles on organizations related to the Theosophical Movement. Dr. Godwin’s “The Brotherhood of Light” (III/3) and the “Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor” (III/5) provide examples of nineteenth centuries organizations that conform to this criteria. Mr. Drais’s article on a recently organized “theosophical monastic order” is the subject of one of the articles presented herein, “The Paracelsian Order.” Situated in Dulzura (Southern California) not far from the Mexican border on a vast tract of land known as the Madre Grande Monastery, the Order regards itself as a “religious monastic, healing, and teaching order” whose aim is to “help bring in A New Age.” (The Paracelsian Handbook)

The author, John H. Drais, is currently abbot of the Paracelsian Order and prior of Madre Grande Monastery. He is the editor of The Zohar and the author of the Hebrew-Egyptian and Numerical Index as published with James R. Skinner’s The Source of Measures (published by Wizard’s Bookshelf). His indices are included in each of the twelve volumes of Esoteric Instructions (Point Loma Publications). Mr. Drais has also contributed several articles to the Eclectic Theosophist (San Diego, California). He is represented in the First Symposium of Secret Doctrine Studies (Wizard’s Bookshelf).

The second article, “Boris de Zirkoff and the Blavatsky Collected Writings,” written by his close associate, Dara Eklund, adds valuable information on both the man and his work. For those who are familiar with the Collected Writings but know little of how they came to being, this article should prove to be most revealing.

Dara Eklund is uniquely qualified to comment on Boris de Zirkoff and his magnum opus. After meeting Mr. de Zirkoff in 1951, she soon became his assistant researching and proofreading for the H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings. After Mr. de Zirkoff’s death in 1981, two volumes (numbers 14 and 15) of the Collected Writings have since been published. (A complete bibliographical listing of the set follows Miss Eklund’s article.) During her early years with Mr. de Zirkoff, she found the time to receive B.A. and Master of Library Science degrees at U.C.L.A. in 1956 and 1963 respectively. Besides her work in the Collected Writings series, Miss Eklund has also compiled a three volume edition of the writings of William Quan Judge, entitled Echoes of the Orient (Point Loma Publications). At present, she is working on a revised index together with her husband, Nicholas Weeks, for the entire Collected Writings series (including the Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled).

Reprinting old newspaper articles can sometimes shed added light on the principals in the Theosophical Movement. With this in mind, the well-known article that appeared in the New York World (26 March 1877), “A Lamasery in New York,” is herein printed in full together with the newspaper’s editorial on its contents.

Finally, a review of Ann Braude’s fascinating account of Spiritualism and its relation to the women’s rights movement appears in the final portion of the journal. The book, Radical Spirits, is a worthy addition to academic studies of the Spiritualist Movements or aspects thereof.

Book Notes

A selection of the writings of the British philosopher and Neo-Platonic mystic Paul Brunton (1898-1981) appeared in 1990 under the title Paul Brunton: Essential Readings. Selected and edited by Joscelyn Godwin with Paul Cash and Timothy Smith, excerpts include passages gleaned from his books A Search in Secret Egypt (“A Night Inside the Great Pyramid”), A Search in Secret India (“Meetings with Indian Sages: Sri Shankaracharya and Sri Ramana Maharshi”), and The Quest of the Overself (“The Overself in Action”). Selections from his posthumously published notebooks include discussions on “The Teacher,” “From Mysticism to Philosophy,” “The Sage,” and the “World-Mind and Mind.” The collection serves as an excellent introduction to the Brunton’s philosophy. The book is published by the Thorsons Publishing Group (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 2RQ, England) as a Crucible paperback.

Pilgrimage to the East for spiritual enlightenment has been a popular activity for well over a century, judging from the many accounts of that have appeared in print over the years. A recent book adds to this catalogue of accounts. Entitled Turning East.New Lives in India: Twenty Westerners and Their Spiritual Quests (N.Y.: Paragon House, 1989) and edited by Malcom Tillis and Cynthia Giles, the book includes personal accounts of spiritual seekers from the U.K., Europe, and the U.S. For those who have travelled to India in the past few years, one cannot help but notice the sizable number of Western travellers in the major airports and bus terminals involved in such activity. Turning East gives these often faceless travellers a personality, identity, and a humanity. It should prove interesting reading for those who themselves plan to embark on a quest or who simply wish to know the intentions of such seekers.

Volume III, Issue 7-8 (July–October 1991)

In an effort to bring Theosophical History up to date in a more expeditious manner, both the July and October issues have been herein combined. Readers’ views are welcomed if they wish to comment on this format. Future issues may on rare occasion appear as double numbers in order to avoid dividing an exceptionally long article over two or more issues. It is hoped that readers will approve this format rather than wait for the second part of an article to appear in the following issue.

The contents herein include a mix of offerings, including articles by Michael Gomes, Henk Spierenburg, and Daniel Caracostea. In addition, three pieces of historical interest are reprinted: one a pamphlet by W.T. Brown, entitled Some Experiences in India, the other two an article and editorial from the pages of the New York World. Three book reviews also appear in this issue: Robin Waterfield’s Rene Guénon, Alain Daniélou’s The Way to the Labyrinth: Memories of East and West, and Radha Rajagopal Sloss’ Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti. Mr. Gomes’ article, “Mabel Collins’ Romance of the White Lotus,” discusses Miss Collins’ explanation of her theosophical compositions, with special reference to the discarded 1882 version of Chapter 7 of the novella Romance of the White Lotus. Mabel Collins (1851-1927) is best known for Light on the Path, but it may interest residents of California that she is also the author of The Story of Helena Modjeska (Madame Chiapowska) [London: W.H. Allen & Co., 1885, 2nd edn.], a well-known Polish actress and founder (in 1876) of a short-lived art commune in Orange County, California.

Michael Gomes, an historian of the Theosophical Society best known for his well-received Dawning of the Theosophical Movement [Wheaton, Ill.: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1987], is the author of a sizable number of articles on various facets of theosophical history, including “The Coulomb Case, 1884-1984” (The Theosophist, Dec. 1984 - Feb. 1986) and “The History of a Humbug” (The Canadian Theosophist, Sept. 1984 - Feb. 1986), the latter containing eleven previously unknown letters of H.P. Blavatsky to Elliott Coues. His long awaited annotated bibliography, Theosophy in the Nineteenth Century, published by Garland Publishing, is due out in June 1992. Mr. Gomes is presently on academic leave from Columbia University in order to engage in his research interests in India.

Dr. Spierenburg and Mr. van Egmond’s article, “The Succession of H.P. Blavatsky: A Documentary History,” is a compilation of “official documents” that shed light on this subject. Readers are probably familiar with Dr. Spierenburg’s articles in Theosophical History I/7,8 and II/1,2,5 as well as his recently published The Buddhism of H.P. Blavatsky (Point Loma Publications), announced in TH III/5:134.

Daniel Caracostea, the author of “Alexandra David-Neel’s Early Acquaintance with Theosophy: Paris 1892,” presents herein a letter discovered in the archives of the Theosophical Society in Paris from Alexandra David-Neel to G.R.S. Mead, the General Secretary of the European Section. Mme. David-Neel [1868-1969, she married Philippe Neel in 1904], an intrepid traveller to Tibet and other parts of Asia in her pursuit of Buddhist wisdom, is the author of more than forty books, including Magic and Mystery in Tibet (N.Y.: C. Kendall, 1932), With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet (London: John Lane, 1931), Voyage d’un Parisienne a Lhassa (Paris: Plon, 1927), and The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects (Calcutta: Maha Bodhi Society of India, 1971, co-authored with Lama Yongden) that detail her experiences.

Mr. Caracostea is perhaps best known as a member of the editorial staff and frequent contributor to Le Lotus Bleu on the history of Theosophy in France and the translator of Subba Row’s “Notes on the Bhagavad-Gîtâ” into French. Born into a family of theosophists (T.S. Adyar), Mr. Caracostea is a bookbinder by profession. The translator of the article, Diana Dunningham-Chapotin, was a few years previous on the staff at the Krotona Institute in Ojai, California. She currently lives in France.

W.T. Brown’s Some Experiences in India, first published in 1884, comes by way of the archives of the Society of Psychical Research. Our gratitude is extended to the S.P.R. for allowing the pamphlet to appear in this issue and to Leslie Price for uncovering this important document. Since its inception in 1985, Theosophical History has regularly included documents originating therein, and we see no reason why this practice should be discontinued. This is the first of three pamphlets written by Brown that will eventually appear in this journal: the other two being My Life and The Theosophical Society: An Explanatory Treatise. As the reader will discover upon reading Some Experiences, W.T. Brown claimed in no uncertain terms to have beheld (in 1883 and 1884), the Mahatmas Koot Hoomi in propria persona and to have received letters from the same. The pamphlet presented herein is very rare indeed since Georges Meautis remarked in a 1954 article “Those Who Have Seen Them” (published in The Theosophist, January 1956: 262f. and first appearing in the French original in Lotus Bleu, 1954, no. 6) that it is not in the library of the English Section, and it is not in the British Museum. There is a copy in the Adyar Library, but unfortunately it was multilated, as owing to faulty rebinding one or two lines are missing at the end of some of the pages. It is to be hoped that another copy will discovered, so that the missing text can be filled in.

Readers who wish additional secondary information on Brown’s experiences may consult, besides Meautis’ article, H.S Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves (III: 21f.) and Katherine A. Beechey’s “Some Little-Known Letters of the Master Koot Hoomi” (The Theosophist, 75/2 [November 1957]: 129-32).

“The New York School of Magic” and “Levitation and Other Light Matters” both appeared in the March 27 (Tuesday) edition of the New York World. They served as a follow up to the article, “A Lamasery in New York,” which appeared the previous day. Who the correspondent was is not revealed.

Book Notes

Kabbalah: New Perspectives by Moshe Idel (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988) is a major work that challenges many of the basic assumptions and conclusions of the foremost scholar on Kabbalistic studies in the twentieth century, Gershom Scholem. Mr. Idel, now an associate professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew University (Jerusalem) includes chapters on the state of Kabbalah scholarship, varieties of devekut (“a call upon the Jew to strengthen the bond between himself and God”: 38) in Jewish mysticism, mystical union and techniques leading to this union, Kabbalistic theosophy [theosophy referring here to “manifestations that are either part of the divine structure or directly related to the divine essence, serving as its vessels or instruments...”, 112], and on the evolution from Jewish Esotericism to European Philosophy. The price of this 464 page book is $40.00.

The Maha Bodhi Society’s celebration of its one hundredth anniversary and the one hundred and twenty-seventh anniversary of the birth of its founder, Anagarika Dharmapala, can now be shared its publication of the Centenary Souvenir. Among the articles that appear in this publication is Michael Gomes’ “Anagarika Dharmapala and the Theosophical Society”, Suniti Kumar Chatterji’s “Dharmapala and the Cultural Renaissance in India and Ceylon”, and Dr. G. John Samuel’s “Indigenisation of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu.” Copies may be obtained from The Maha Bodhi Society (17, Kennet Lane, Egmore, Madras 600 008 India).

Skoob Books Publishing Ltd, an outgrowth of the London secondhand bookshop Skoob Books Ltd, has published or is in the act of publishing a number of interesting works, among which are Kenneth Grant’s The Magical Revival and Remembering Aleister Crowley. According to the catalogue description, The Magical Revival “contains a detailed analysis of certain occult traditions which...have reappeared in recent times.... The continuity of this magical current as reflected in the work of Aleister Crowley, Austin Spare, Dion Fortune and others is here traced through the Tantric Tradition of the Far East, the Sumerian Cult of Shaitan and the Draconian, Sabean, or Typhonian rites of the ‘dark’: dynasties of ancient Egypt.” The second book is a “memoir of the personal relationship between Kenneth Grant and Aleister Crowley in Crowley’s latter years. These books may be ordered from Skoob directly (11a-15 Sicilian Ave., London WC1A 2QH), or from their agents (U.K. distributor: Gazelle Book Services Ltd, Falcon House, Queen Square, Lancaster LA1 1RN; U.S. distributor: New Leaf Distributing Co. 5425 Tulane Drive S.W., Atlanta, GA 30336-2323). We hope to include reviews of these books in due course.

The State University of New York Press (SUNY) has recently announced the publication of Bernadette Roberts’ book, The Path to No-Self, which maintains that the spiritual journey moves beyond the “transcendence of the self center or ego,” beyond the “abiding awareness of oneness with God.” The book “verifies a path beyond union ” and that it “exists between the transcendence of the ego (self-center)...and the later falling away of all self.” One may order the book directly from SUNY (c/o CUP Services, P.O. Box 6525, Ithaca, N.Y. 14851). The price is $12.95 (paperback) and $39.50 (hardcover).

SUNY also has announced the forthcoming publication of Carl W. Ernst’s Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center. This book describes the “mystical teachings and practices of the Chishti Sufi order as taught by the Shaykh Burh&Mac221;n al-Din Gharib (d.1337) and his disciples.” Dr. Ernst is a specialist in classical Sufism and Indo-Muslim culture and is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion at Pomona College in Clarement, California.

Larson Publications (4936 Route 414, Burdett, New York, U.S.A.) has announced two forthcoming publications of interest: Sacred Paths: Essays on Wisdom, Love, and Mystical Realization by Georg Feuerstein (ISBN 0-943914-56-6, $14.95), a book on “yoga, tantra, and vedanta, and what they mean for people today,” and a new edition of Stephen MacKenna’s Plotinus: The Enneads. According to the catalogue description:

Stephen MacKenna worked on only the first of the four editions of The Enneads translation bearing his name.... Since in general the fourth edition is the superior text, we use that edition as our main text. In passages where changes may be questionable, however, we show (in footnotes) how MacKenna originally translated them. Endnotes also show, where relevant, how other major translators (e.g., Guthrie, Taylor, Armstrong, Deck) handled them with comments when needed.

Both books may already be in print if the publisher kept to its schedule.


Correction

In the III/6 issue of Theosophical History (page 156), I inadvertently erred in describing Dara Eklund’s and Nicholas Weeks’ current research activity to be that of revising their index of the H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings to include Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. Rather, Mrs. Eklund writes that they are presently compiling the index for the Echoes of the Orient series.

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