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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
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).
Theosophical History finally enters
1991 with this issue. The present issue continues and completes Professor
Godwins 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 Blavatskys imagination. The review is contributed
by Dr. Gregory Tillett of Macquarie University (Australia). The second review
examines Joseph Rosss 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.
One of the purposes of Theosophical
History is to include informative articles on organizations related to the
Theosophical Movement. Dr. Godwins 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. Draiss 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. Skinners The Source of Measures (published by Wizards 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 (Wizards 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 Zirkoffs 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 Eklunds 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 newspapers editorial on its contents.
Finally, a review of Ann Braudes fascinating account of Spiritualism and its relation to the womens 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.
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 Bruntons 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.
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
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 Waterfields Rene Guénon,
Alain Daniélous 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 Egmonds
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. Spierenburgs 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
Daniel Caracostea, the author of
Alexandra David-Neels 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 dun 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
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 Rows
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. Browns 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 Browns experiences may consult, besides Meautis
article, H.S Olcotts Old Diary Leaves (III: 21f.) and Katherine A. Beecheys
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.
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 Societys 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 Chatterjis Dharmapala and the Cultural Renaissance
in India and Ceylon, and Dr. G. John Samuels 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 Grants 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 Crowleys
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. Ernsts 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,
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 MacKennas Plotinus: The Enneads. According to the catalogue
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.
In the III/6 issue of Theosophical History (page 156), I inadvertently erred in describing Dara Eklunds 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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