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

Vol. VI, Issue 1 (January 1996)
Vol. VI, Issue 2 (April 1996)
Vol. VI, Issue 3 (July 1996)
Vol. VI, Issue 4 (October 1996)
Vol. VI, Issue 5 (January 1997)
Vol. VI, Issue 6 (April 1997)
Vol. VI, Issue 7 (July 1997)
Vol. VI, Issue 8 (October 1997)


Back to Past Issues Description of Contents INDEX

Volume VI, Issue 1 (January 1996)

The present issue provides an interesting mix of archival material, an article entitled “Theosophy on War and Peace,” a book review and a communication from the International Secretary of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
Professor Robert S. Ellwood’s contribution, “Theosophy on War and Peace,” provides a comprehensive account of the writings and actions of many of the leading Theosophists on this topic, including H.P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Katherine Tingley, and George S. Arundale. Much of the paper, however, is devoted to a British politician, a president of El Salvador, and an American politician, who, though well-known in their respective countries for their accomplishments in public office, are generally not associated with Theosophy.

George Lansbury (1859–1940), a prominent figure in the British Labour Party, became a member of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) in 1914, mainly due to the influence that certain unnamed Theosophists had upon him—including the leader of the Society, Mrs. Besant, and the General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Scotland, David Graham Pole.

Maximiliano Hernández Martínez (1882-1966), the President of El Salvador from 1931 to 1944, was an active member of the Theosophical Society and for a time President of the Teotle Lodge.
The third figure discussed by Professor Ellwood is Henry Agard Wallace (1888-1965), the Vice-President of the United States and Secretary of Agriculture under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Wallace became member a of the Society from 1925 to 1935, during which period he became active in the Liberal Catholic Church and came under the influence of the Russian artist, mystic, and Theosophist Nicholas Roerich.

This paper demonstrates once again the influence of Theosophy on prominent individuals in the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century despite the fact that this influence is for the most part ignored by historians of this period.

The archival contributions, “The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to W.Q. Judge” and “The Eastern School of Theosophy: Historical Sketch”—both introduced by Michael Gomes—should be read in tandem since they concern the Esoteric Section (later the Eastern School of Theosophy). “The Eastern School of Theosophy” is an important document because it is, in the words of Michael Gomes, “the first attempt [early 1895] to provide the lineage of the [E.S.]. . .” Considering the events that took place in 1894 and 1895 revolving around W.Q. Judge, it is heartening to find that the description found in the document was very fair to all concerned. A person with sympathy toward W.Q. Judge might, however, object to the phrase “on the ground of the deceptions he [W.Q.J.] had practised,” as if the deception were a fait accompli. Yet no attack was made on Mr. Judge’s character, no polemic introduced to justify the statement. There is even the admission that Mrs. Besant might have erred administratively: “some blamed Annie Besant for leaving them under the direction of a man in whose bona fides she did not believe.” In defense of Mrs. Besant, the author states that “both forgot that she had no authority to tear away from Mr. Judge what H.P.B. had given, and could only discharge the duty given to herself. . . .”

H.P. Blavatsky’s two letters to W.Q. Judge (August 5, 1889 and undated), together with her letter to the President of the Boston T.S., John Ransom Bridge (reproduced in Michael Gomes’ introduction), sheds considerable light on the motivation of Madame Blavatsky’s efforts to form the E.S. As is the case in previous letters, she brings up individuals who either give her cause for grief—A.B. Griggs, Bertram Keightley (in this case for losing her Instructions in the mail), and Elliot Coues (for the continued difficulties he was causing both H.P.B. and the T.S., as evidenced in previous letters contained in TH V/8)—or cause for encouragement (the same Griggs, John R. Bridge, and E.I.K. Noyes).

Another item of note in these letters is the incontrovertible evidence that H.P.B. did not resign from the T.S. in 1884 or 1885 as has been asserted by a contributor to the International Theosophical History Conference in 1992. Although rejected out of hand by most Theosophists who have studied this period of the Society’s history, there are a few, a very small number I would imagine, who think otherwise. Perhaps the statement at the end of the first letter will put that assertion to rest.

In the same letter, the unsettled relationship of Col. Olcott and his sister, Isabel Mitchell, is brought up by H.P.B., who is requested by Olcott to notify his sister of his visit to England. It is from passing mentions such as this that give us more of an insight into the private life of Col. Olcott.

While on the subject of Col. Olcott, a new biography by Stephen Prothero of Georgia State University, entitled The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott, is about to be published this year by Indiana University Press. The book is due out in March 1996.

Theosophical History Occasional Papers

Some readers may not be aware that the companion series to Theosophical History, Theosophical History: Occasional Papers (ISBN 1-883279-00-3), began publication in 1993. The purpose of the series is to print documents and original papers that deserve to be included in Theosophical History but are too long for the journal to accommodate. As of this writing, four volumes have been published and are still available. The titles are given below.

VOLUME I: Witness for the Prosecution: Annie Besant’s Testimony on Behalf of H.P. Blavatsky in the N.Y. Sun/Coues Law Case. Introduction by Michael Gomes.
$12 60 pages ISBN 1 883279-01-1 1993
The actual testimony given by Mrs. Besant on May 4, 1891 during the proceedings held in the New York Supreme Court. Of special interest is Mrs. Besant’s explanation of Theosophy and the Theosophical Society and her views of Madame H.P. Blavatsky.

VOLUME II: Joan Grant: Winged Pharaoh. By Jean Overton Fuller.
$13 33 pages ISBN 1 883279-02-X 1993
Miss Fuller’s work on the British novelist is based both on her observations of Miss Grant while a guest at her home during a long weekend in 1944 and on an extensive investigation of her literary works and life. Was John Grant’s Winged Pharaoh historical fiction or the record of true memory? Miss Fuller attempts to unlock the mystery through her knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

VOLUME III: Ammonius Saccas and His Eclectic Philosophy as Presented by Alexander Wilder.
By Dr. Jean-Louis Siémons.
$15 31 pages ISBN 1 883279-03-8 1994

Dr. Alexander Wilder, the author of The Eclectic Philosophy (1869), was one of the early Vice-Presidents of the Theosophical Society (1878) and the person responsible for editing and indexing H.P. Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled. The present study examines Dr. Wilder’s sources for his study on Ammonius Saccas and Neo-Platonism.

VOLUME IV: W.T. Brown’s “Scenes in My Life.” Introduction and Notes by Michael Gomes.
$17 40 pages ISBN 1 883279-04-6 1995

William Tournay Brown’s most detailed account of his encounter with a Master of Wisdom—written under the nom de plume Carwood Gerald Clarke—includes the letter he received from the “Unknown Brother,” Koot Hoomi, “regarded by many as the most remarkable of the age” and his tête-à-tête with a Brahmin who was “well dressed, handsome, and seemingly of about 40 years of age” while “crossing the plain on the outskirts of Lahore City,” presumably the Master in the flesh. Also of special interest is Brown’s positive assessment of H.S. Olcott, quoting in full both a letter from Olcott to Brown and an address by Olcott to the Prayag Psychic Theosophical Society, entitled “India, Past, Present and Future.”

Volume VI, Issue 2 (April 1996)

Theosophical History continues to include an eclectic mix of archival material, an article by Michael W. Homer and Massimo Introvigne entitled “The Recoming of the Fairies,” and an assortment of reviews of books ranging from occult and esoteric topics to the conception of non-violence in India.

The letters of H.P.B. to W.Q. Judge now enters 1890 with a letter dated February 9, focussing on Madame Blavatsky’s dissatisfaction with the Esoteric Section in the U.S. because of the leaking of E.S. teachings to the editor of the Religio-Philosophical Journal, John Bundy. Because of this, H.P.B. discloses that the full teaching providing “the last key to correspondences & tattvic mysteries” has been held back. Apparently, the E.S. had caused considerable concern and headache for both correspondents, revealing Judge’s displeasure with and aggressiveness towards Blavatsky, and H.P.B.’s sometimes snappish comments directed at Judge. Of interest is mention of the importance of the E.S. to the T.S., for Blavatsky predicts that should Judge “destroy the groups of the E.S., withold (sic.) their Charters . . . the T.S. will fall down into ruins in America before six months are over just as it fell down & collapsed in 1878 when we [H.P.B. and Olcott] left [for India].”

What is also significant in this letter is the admission of the great sacrifice—in money and time—that H.P.B. had to endure, and the exasperation the E.S. caused Judge. Establishing the E.S. was not a trivial endeavor, nor was it primarily the product of Blavatsky’s egoism as some suggest. A lesson gained from the reading of this correspondence is the importance of avoiding any firm or final judgment regarding the origins of groups such as the E.S. until all the available evidence is evaluated. Furthermore, primary sources, not only in edited collections or other secondary monographs but also in their original state, especially if the documents are hand-written such as the letters contained in this and earlier issues, should be examined in their original state if possible. Editors and previous scholars can make occasional mistakes in reading these documents, as I can attest from personal experience.

The second archival contribution involves just uncovered communications from H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott to Thomas A. Edison. Although it is well-known that Edison was a member of the T.S. in the early days of the Society (1878)—and shortly after his invention of the phonograph—it was only recently that correspondence between the Founders of the T.S. has been uncovered at the Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey and cataloged in A Guide to the Thomas A. Edison Papers edited by Thomas E. Jeffrey, et al. in 1985-87. With that information, the authors of the article have collected and commented on the available correspondence, published herein for the first time.

Although Edison was the quintessential inventor and scientific empiricist, he also held the occult view that the uncreated “etheric force” underlay both matter and intelligence. More specifically, Edison saw a relation between electricity and the non-material world. This and the Theosophical claim that the ancients had an instrument resembling the telephone also must have intrigued Edison. The affiliation, therefore, of Edison with the Theosophical Society came at a time when scientific methodology was still not totally divorced from the possibility of the existence of “occult forces” in nature. Edison’s enrollment in the T.S. was considered a great boon to Madame Blavatsky and the Society, and so it is not surprising that she and Col. Olcott took advantage of this affiliation by publicizing it. Yet, from the correspondence appearing herein, one must raise the question as to the degree of importance this association was to Edison. He never accepted Blavatsky’s invitation to visit her before her departure for India although he did accept her invitation to join the Society. In 1889 he denied his affiliation until Col. Olcott sent Edison a copy of his signed membership form. One might conclude from this correspondence that one should be careful when claiming membership or sympathetic association of influential individuals with organizations such as the Theosophical Society, Rosicrucianism, or Freemasonry. It is one thing to claim a connection or loose confederation but quite another when the implication is that the association had a profound and defining impact on that individual. Historically it is important that connections be reported, but speculation arising from such connections should be avoided unless verifiable evidence exists. This is especially true of Edison’s association with the T.S. The letters establish an affinity but not any significant influence beyond Edison’s curiosity of Blavatsky’s teachings and writings. Until there is documented evidence, it is better not to equivocate on the matter.

Mr. Homer’s and Dr. Introvigne’s informative and fascinating article with the peculiar title, “The Recoming of the Fairies,” will surely be of interest to anyone interested in Arthur Conan Doyle’s life and personality. Based on the introduction to the first Italian edition of Conan Doyle’s Il ritorno delle fate (The Coming of the Fairies), published by Sugarco (via E. Fermi 9, Carnago, Italy) in 1992, the authors review the circumstances surrounding the well-known episode of the Cottingley Fairies and Conan Doyle’s involvement in this affair. The authors present a wealth of information on Doyle’s religious and occult philosophical wanderings—somewhat reminiscent of Annie Besant’s I might add—beginning with his early Roman Catholic and Jesuit upbringing, with his Jesuit education driving him to a declaration of agnosticism until he finally settled upon Spiritualism. Having an inquisitive mind, however, Conan Doyle took up the investigation of other philosophies and religions during his agnostic period, having been attracted to the teachings of Theosophy (especially those teachings therein which helped solve some of the “anomalies of life”: reincarnation and karma), Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, the Golden Dawn and Mormonism. Literary evidence of Theosophical influence, which Conan Doyle acquired through his personal acquaintance with A.P. Sinnett and the Theosophist’s major works—The Occult World and Esoteric Buddhism—is apparent in Doyle’s novel, The Mystery of Cloomber (1888).

By the time the Cottingley Fairy episode took place, however, Doyle had already firmly committed his efforts to Spiritualism. Apropos the episode, photographs of purported fairies were taken in 1917 by two cousins, nine-year-old Frances Griffiths and seventeen-year-old Elsie Wright in the village of Cottingley. The photos were not immediately released by the family, but two years later Elsie’s mother was prompted to show them to a psychic lecturer who brought up the subject of fairy phenomena during a Theosophical Society meeting in Bradford. It was through this lecturer, Mrs. Powell, that a member of the Executive Committee of the T.S., Edward L. Gardner, acquainted Conan Doyle with the photographs in May 1920: a very serendipitous event for the latter, who was preparing an article on fairies for Strand Magazine. The outcome of Conan Doyle’s investigation of both the girls and the photos led to his conviction that the Cottingley Fairies were genuine. This soon led to the publication of his book, The Coming of the Fairies, in 1922.

Conan Doyle apparently remained convinced that the photos were genuine right up to his death in 1930, as did Edward Gardner and the third major commentator of the fairy pictures, the noted Theosophist Geoffrey Hodson. By 1990, however, the deception of the girls was finally made public. Why Conan Doyle, for all his supposed astute powers of observation, failed to see through the ruse, defies comprehension, for it turned out that a drawing very similar to one of the Cottingley photos appeared in Princess Mary’s Gift Book (1914), a book in which Conan Doyle himself contributed a chapter! Sounds more like a blunder that Inspector LaStrade would commit, not Sherlock Holmes.

A Judge Biography: Is It Time?

William Quan Judge died one hundred years ago on March 21, 1896. Though the centennial of his death has been acknowledged in parts of the Theosophical world, the most notable contribution being the Special Issue of Sunrise (April/May 1996) published by the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), there is as far as I know no ongoing biographical research on W.Q. Judge in academe despite the fact that there is a resurgence of interest in Theosophical topics. Only a few biographical sources are in print, the most notable being William Quan Judge, edited by Sven Eek and Boris de Zirkoff (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1969). Now, with the centennial in progress, the archivist of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Kirby van Mater, has also just written an informative overview of Judge’s life in the above-mentioned periodical (“William Quan Judge: A Biographical Sketch”: 99-111). Of course, there are older references in the general histories of the Theosophical Society, most notably The Theosophical Movement: 1875-1850 (Los Angeles: The Cunningham Press, 1951) and numerous informative mss. pertaining more specifically to “The Judge Case,” the latest of which originating from the Edmonton Theosophical Society (P.O. Box 4587, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6E 5G4). Nevertheless, with major publications of other Theosophical figures appearing in the 1990s, such as Ann Taylor’s Annie Besant (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), Sylvia Cranston’s HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement (N.Y.: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993), and now the long-awaited book by Stephen Prothero, The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996), one would expect W.Q. Judge or perhaps even other major figures of Theosophical history—most notably Katherine Tingley and A.P. Sinnett—to be the subjects of some M.A. or Ph.D. candidate’s thesis.

There are reasons, however, why a Judge biography may be a long time in coming. It does not take much pondering to suggest why H.P.B., Col. Olcott, and Mrs. Besant appear in academic studies, what with the ambivalent and multifarious personality of H.P.B., not to mention her Bohemian life-style and esoteric acumen (a psychologist’s and esotericist’s delight), Col. Olcott’s activism in the Buddhist revival and the Hindu Renaissance, and Mrs. Besant’s involvement and influence in the political life of India to say nothing of her own fascinating life prior to her involvement with the Theosophical Society. Contrary to these three Theosophical giants who excelled in activities outside the Theosophical sphere, Mr. Judge’s life is more closely identified with the T.S. than any other major Theosophical leader. At the time of the inauguration of the T.S. in 1875, he was only twenty-four years of age, so the remaining twenty years of his brief life were primarily devoted to the Society and to his profession of the law: too restrictive, perhaps, for the non-Theosophical academic who would more likely prefer investigating more comprehensive issues of the time. Couple this with the controversy surrounding the charge that Mr. Judge allegedly misused the Mahatmas’ names and handwriting as early as 1891, which later culminated in the declaration of autonomy from Adyar in 1895 of the American Section under Judge: a lengthy episode that is divisive to this day. Some Theosophists today who are aware of these events would sooner forget about this dark period of Theosophical history; others, however, are very much involved in continuing the discussion and examination of this Case for the primary reason of disproving the charges brought against him. Despite the pitfalls of investigating this controversial figure, however, no account of the first twenty years of the Theosophical Society can be complete without understanding the contribution of Mr. Judge to it.

In closing, one last—and for the historian, disturbing— comment must be appended. There seems to be a trend within the Theosophical world toward a general disinterest in the history of the modern Theosophical movement, more so than in the past. Gone, it appears, are leaders such as Col. Olcott and Mr. Jinarâjadâsa, both of whom took an active interest in the history of their Society. Is it any wonder that Theosophical history is gradually becoming more the domain of non-Theosophists than Theosophists?


International Theosophical History Conference

I have just received word from Mr. Colyn Boyce of the Theosophical Society in England that the Society will hold an International Theosophical History Conference on July 11, 12 and 13, 1997. Should anyone have interest in presenting a paper, please send your title and abstract to me c/o the Department of Religious Studies, California State University, P.O. Box 34080, Fullerton, CA (USA) 92645-9480. More information on the Conference will be included in future issues.


The Yoga Of Six Limbs

A new publication has just been received from Robert Hütwohl’s Spirit of the Sun Publications. Entitled The Yoga of Six Limbs: an Introduction to the History of Shadangayoga, this original German text was written by Günter Grönbold and translated into English by Mr. Hütwohl. Although a relatively short work (68 pages) there is a great deal of material (with extensive documentation) contained in the four chapters: “Shadangayoga (Six-Limbed Yoga) in Hinduism,” “The Revelation of Shadangayoga in the Kålacakra-System,” The Guru-succession in Buddhist Shadangayoga,” and “Tibetan Literature on the Shadangayoga.” The importance of the work is the introduction of an alternative system of yoga not nearly as familiar as the Eight-Limbed (ashtanga) Yoga discussed in Patañjali’s Yoga-sütras. What is surprising about the Six-Limbed yoga is its appearance not only in Hindu works but also in a number of Buddhist Tantras. A cursory review of the text suggests a careful examination of the topic by Dr. Grönbold and a very readable translation by Mr. Hütwohl. This 1996 publication is available for $14.50 and $2.00 US postage, $2.75 Canada postage and $4.50 foreign airmail. The address of Spirit of the Sun Publications is P.O. Box 2894, Santa Fe, NM (USA) 87504-2894.

* * *

ICANAS

The 35th International Congress of Asian and North African Studies, organized by the Korösi Csoma Society and the Eötvös Loránd University, will be held in Budapest, Hungary from 7-12 July 1997. The general topic will be “Oriental Studies in the 20th Century: The State of the Art” (Great personalities, discoveries and new developments in the last hundred years). Sections include (1) the Orient & Asia in Antiquity, (2) Near and Middle East & North Africa, (3) The Caucasus, (4) Central Asia & related areas, (5) South Asia, (6) Southeast Asia, (7) 7 East Asia, and (8) Recent History of Asia and North Africa. Anyone interested is urged to write to the Secretary-General, Tamás Iványi, at the following address:
ELTE - Korösi Csoma Társaság
H-1088 Budapest, Múzeum krt. 4/B
Hungary
[email: ivanyi@osiris.elte.hu
fax: 361/266-5699]

Volume VI, Issue 3 (July 1996)

Two articles of significance appear in the present issue: Stephen Prothero’s “Henry Steel Olcott, Anagarika Dharmapala and the Maha Bodhi Society” and Marco Rossi’s “Julius Evola and the Independent Theosophical Association of Rome.”

As many readers are now aware, a version of Stephen Prothero’s Ph.D. thesis, The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott, was recently published by Indiana University Press. Rather than being a comprehensive biography of Colonel Olcott, a large part of the book is devoted to his work on behalf of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and other parts of the Asian Buddhist world. One of his close associates in his work on behalf of the Buddhists during the 1880s was the noted Buddhist missionary, Anagarika Dharmapala. The association of the two presented Dr. Prothero with the opportunity of describing the dramatic tension that permeated their relationship. Although both had the same goals, the two could not have been more different in background and personality. It was an association that was to be in some ways not much different from Annie Besant’s relationship with Mohandas Gandhi in the political arena. This article is a welcome addition to this important subject area. I would hope that it will serve as a motivatation to read Dr. Prothero’s full account in the above-mentioned book. If one does, I would recommend strongly that three other books be read in tandem: Ananda Guruge’s From the Living Fountains of Buddhism: Sri Lankan Support to Pioneering Western Orientalists (Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Ministry of Cultural Affairs, 1984), pages 334-462, especially Part I (“Henry Steele (sic.)1 Olcott’s Association with the Sangha of Sri Lanka,” pages 335-59); Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala (Colombo: Ministry of Cultural Affairs & Information, Ministry of Socio-Cultural Integration, Department of Cultural Affairs, 1991 [first printed in 1965]); and Thomas A. Tweed’s The American Encounter with Buddhism: 1844-1912 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992). Stephen Prothero is currently Assistant Professor in the Religion Department at Boston University. He received his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at Harvard University.

Marco Rossi’s “Julius Evola and the Independent Theosophical Association of Rome” is the second article on this erudite Italian intellectual in Theosophical History; the first, “A Short Introduction to Julius Evola” by H.T. Hansen appeared in the January 1994 issue. Evola is difficult to categorize: he was a philosopher belonging to the school of Italian Idealism, a painter who was one of the founders of Italian Dadaism, a cultural historian, a translator (most notably of Spengler’s Decline of the West), and a publisher, to name but a few of his many interests and activities. In the current article, Mr. Rossi concentrates on Evola’s involvement with Theosophy and Anthroposophy, the Independent Theosophical Association, Decio Calvari (an early General Secretary of the Italian T.S. and editor of the prominent journal of spiritual studies and research, Ultra, from 1907 to 1925, in which Evola published a number of significant essays), and Evola’s eventual clash with both Anthroposophy and Theosophy. What I find important, however, is the degree of influence that Theosophy had on Evola. The following evaluation by Mr. Rossi is consequential when determining Theosophy’s role in European intellectual circles:

Experience with the spiritual Theosophical culture was for Evola of fundamental importance not only for confronting and resolving in a positive way an existential position of particular gravity, but also for building the solid bases for an effective broadening of his personal ideal and spiritual panorama.

During the twenties Evola, like many other intellectuals, particularly Giovanni Amendola at the beginning of the century, lived through the Theosophical culture as an effective experience of intellectual and spiritual fulfillment, as a means of encountering new scenarios and wider horizons of the spirit, above and beyond the tunnel-vision of western Christianity and the materialistic, positivistic and scientistic view of the modern world.

The author, Marco Rossi, is a resident of Pisa, Italy who specializes in the relationship between esoteric culture and the political, artistic and literary history of the twentieth century. He has contributed a number of articles to Storia Contemporanea and other reviews, and has written or edited five books, the most recent of which is Delle rovine ed oltre: saggi su Julius Evola (Rome, 1995). Mr. Rossi informs me that he has also edited, together with Giorgio Galli, a volume containing the essays of Julius Evola, entitled L’ultima edizione di Julius Evola: l’arco e la clava (Rome, 1995).

In addition to the above articles, an illuminating communication on “Mr. Oakley’s Electronic Index to The Theosophist, Lucifer and Theosophical Review” by John Patrick Deveney, two book reviews, and Parts XIV and XIVa of the “Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to W.Q. Judge” appear in this number.

The wave of the future apropos the retrieval of information is to be found more and more in computer-generated indices, judging from their increasing presence in university libraries. If there is any doubt about the worth of this form of retrieval of information, Mr. Deveney dispels it rather quickly and forcefully. Mr. Oakley is to be congratulated for accomplishing this valuable work.

Michael Ashcraft reviews K. Paul Johnson’s second book, Initiates of Theosophical Masters, a companion volume to his first book, The Masters Revealed. As with the first book, Initiates is bound to provoke considerable discussion and controversy in Theosophical circles. If these books do nothing else but arouse further serious study of this important topic in the history of the T.S., their publication will be more than justified.

Robert Boyd reviews the biography of the social philosopher, amateur astronomer, lawyer, scholar, and Theosophical missionary and luminary, Mario Roso de Luna (1876-1931). Although not well-known outside the Spanish-speaking world, Roso de Luna’s life provides more evidence of the impact that Theosophy had on intellectuals in the late nineteenth and earlier part of the twentieth centuries.

Finally, the correspondence between H.P.Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge continues, with the addition of a short note to Judge from Bertram Keightley. H.P.B.’s letter shows her displeasure with Bertram Keightley, whom she trusted “theosophically if not esoterically,” over his misrepresenting her teachings, by suspending him from the E.S. and sending him to India in order to save the Society from “dreamless sleep & decay.” Keightley’s note denies the charge leveled at him by H.P.B.


Theosophy Seminar

The Theosophy and Theosophic Thought Seminar continues to comprise part of the American Academy of Religion’s annual convention activities. The AAR will meet in New Orleans, Louisiana from Friday, November 22 to Tuesday, November 26 at the New Orleans Marriott, Sheraton New Orleans, and Le Meridien. The Theosophy Seminar will meet on Saturday from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm in M-La Galerie 1 (New Orleans Marriott).
The final program came as a response to the Call for Papers circulated in February. The announcement for the Seminar was as follows:

James A. Santucci, Department of Religious Studies, California State University, Fullerton, CA 92634. OF: 714/773-3727. FAX: 714/449-5820. E-mail: jsantucci@ccvax.fullerton.edu. The seminar is primarily concerned with the history of Theosophy and the main philosophical currents therein. Proposals on issues and sources of Theosophical teachings personalities within the theosophical mainstream are invited. In particular, papers are requested on the following themes: theosophers prior to the nineteenth century; descriptions and attempted definitions of the term ‘theosophy’ and its relationship with Hermetism, Hermeticism, mysticism, Kabbalah, gnosticism, occultism, esotericism, and Neoplatonism; a comparison of the theosophical teachings of H.P. Blavatsky and C.W. Leadbeater; and studies on Theosophical societies that have arisen from either the parent Theosophical Society (1875) or from one of its offshoots. Seven copies of the proposal should be sent to the chair.

The result of the announcement is as follows:

Theosophy and Theosophic Thought Seminar

Robert Ellwood, University of Southern California, Presiding

Theme: Theosophical Themes, Personalities, and History.

James A. Santucci, California State University, Fullerton,
A Reexamination of the Origins of the Theosophical Society

Antoine Faivre, École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne),
Theosophy Before Theosophy: The Example of Gerhard Dorn’s Alchemical Philosophy

Marsha Keith Schuchard, Atlanta, Georgia
Emanuel Swedenborg: Secret Agent on Earth and in Heaven

Massimo Introvigne, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Torino
Witchcraft, Evil, and Memnoch the Devil: Esoterical and Theosophical Themes in Anne Rice’s New Orleans Fiction

Jean-Pierre Laurant, École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne),
An Exegesis of the Fig Tree in Ann Kingsford’s Christian Theosophy (The Perfect Way 1887)

Jean-Louis Siémons, Loge Unie des Théosophes, Paris, France
B.P. Wadia (1881-1958) and the Theosophical Movement Renaissance

Respondents:

John Patrick Deveney, New York

James Burnell Robinson, University of Northern Iowa

Theme: The Theosophical Phenomenon: 1575-Present

Participants: Reports from members of the project

Should anyone be interested in attending, I would urge you to contact the American Academy of Religion executive office at 1703 Clifton Road, NE, Suite G5, Atlanta, GA 30329-4075; telephone: 404/727-7920, fax 404/727-7959, e-mail aar@emory.edu. Registration is necessary for attendance.


A Correction and an Apology

Computer software can be blessing to the scholar and publisher, but every so often it takes on a life of its own, often to the consternation of the human operator. In the last issue (VI/2) of Theosophical History, there appeared a translation problem (which I will not attempt to explain) that caused chaos with a footnote citation in “Correspondence of H.P. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott with Thomas A. Edison” by John Patrick Deveney, Joscelyn Godwin and Michael Gomes. If you can follow the explanation given below, then you should not have any problems following the footnote trail. If not, an offprint has been prepared for any subscriber wishing a corrected copy. There is, of course, no charge for the offprint, and it comes with my sincerest apologies to the readers and especially to the authors of the article.

Here is what happened. On pages 54-56 of TH VI/2, there appear two footnote 18s: the first citation on page 55 in column 2 (line 8) with its corresponding footnote at the bottom of the page, and the second citation on page 56, column 1, line 9 after “Bergmann.” This second footnote 18 should be 19, which is correctly given at the bottom of page 54, column 2! The footnote citation continues on page 56 just above footnote 20 in column 1 in footnote-sized characters. Again, corrected copies are available upon request.

1 Steele is not an incorrect spelling. Stephen Prothero writes in The White Buddhist (p. 191, fn. 20):

There is some disagreement about how to spell Olcott’s middle name. The Steeles [the five brothers from Amherst, Ohio who were Olcott’s relatives and “true godfathers”] included a third “e” in their surname, and a statue of Olcott at Theosophical Society headquarters in Adyar spells his middle name as “Steele.” Olcott rarely signed his full name. However, in the places he did . . . he signed it “Steel” . . . .

Vol. VI, Issues 4 (October 1996)

One of my goals as editor of Theosophical History has been to broaden the range of subjects and to include discussions of philosophies and groups not directly connected with the modern Theosophical Movement. Pre-Blavatskyite theosophy, the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg, and Rosicrucianism are three such examples of subjects that fit this description. I am therefore happy to announce the first article of a Rosicrucian topic: “Mrs. May Banks Stacey.” This is an important article because it presents evidence that the founder of AMORC (the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis), Harvey Spencer Lewis, may have falsely given credit to Mrs. Stacey as being the co-founder of AMORC. The author, David Rocks, has produced enough genealogical evidence to lead us to the inescapable conclusion that Mrs. Banks could not have been the agent whereby Mr. Lewis received the legitimate transmission of the “ancient” Rosicrucian lineage. The immediate lesson to be learned from articles such as Mr. Rocks’ is obvious: a healthy skeptical attitude must be taken when individuals claim direct descendency from traditional teaching lineages such as Rosicrucianism. Of course, one might assume the more extreme position of whether there was a traditional teaching lineage in the first place. This position will no doubt be very distasteful to those who accept the doctrines of the lineage, but it is certainly within the range of historical inquiry and of historical journals such as Theosophical History to raise such issues when necessary.

The communication of Mr. MacDougall raises a similar issue as mentioned above. Mr. MacDougall, whose book Psychic Initiation: Secrets of 777 was reviewed by Jerry Hejka-Ekins in the April issue, advances a valid concern quite independent of the contents of his book. The concern, as interpreted by Mr. MacDougall, is the reviewer’s—and by extension, those who hold to the orthodox Theosophical view of H.P. Blavatsky’s role in the T.S.—reluctance to view the facts in a new light, in other words, their unwillingness to challenge the existing paradigm through which many of us interpret the events surrounding Madame Blavatsky’s life and events. Without necessarily agreeing with Mr. MacDougall’s thesis and analysis that appear in his book, I do have some sympathy with his frustration over the reluctance to even consider whether the accepted paradigm is based on sufficient evidence. My sympathy with this position applies primarily to non-Theosophical topics. As a university professor I have to challenge occasionally the existing historical paradigms of the subject area of my own research. The importance of such a challenge demonstrates that what is taken to be fact is often merely hypothesis or theory. Many of us within the academic community lose sight that historical analysis is simply the interpretation of a limited range of data that directs us to make plausible assertions of the topic under question. Very often, we are not even aware that what is stated to be fact is merely conjecture. Repeat the conjecture or hypothesis often enough, however, and it will no doubt become fact. It is for this reason that intellectual histories and histories of academic fields (such as linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and history) should be required reading for scholars and students alike, if only to determine the biases and sometimes glaring prejudices of the pioneers and their supporters in their respective fields. Returning now to Mr. MacDougall’s estimation of the attitudes towards the established paradigm and how new revelations that have appeared in such works as Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon, Ancient Wisdom Revived, and the Hodgson Report have challenged that paradigm, these observations will no doubt raise a red flag for Theosophists who perceive these sources to be responsible for either creating or perpetuating falsehoods concerning H.P.B.’s character. It would be better, however, to leave these observations for future, more relevant, discussions.

Other communications include a reply from Jerry Hejka-Ekins to MacDougall’s, which is self-explanatory, a reprinting of an exciting discovery that first appeared on Adam MacLean’s homepage, and an observation from Jean Overton Fuller.

The final installment of the H.P.B. letters to W.Q. Judge appears in this issue. Dated November 19, 1890, six months prior to her passing, Madame Blavatsky decries Olcott for his denial in The Theosophist (vol. 12, November 1890) that the Theosophical Society was “founded as a result of Master’s ‘order’, that in fact he never received any ‘order’, but the whole thing came to him spontaneously.” This is an important statement especially because of the controversy that surrounded the Society’s founding. In the letter, Blavatsky denies that the “whole thing [the proposal to establish the T.S.] came to him spontaneously” as Olcott asserted but that it was actually the “Master” who ordered its establishment. To make matters even more confusing, articles appearing in Light (reprinted in Theosophical History, vol. I, no. 7) and the New York Herald contain Henry J. Newton’s (the first Treasurer of the T.S.) claim that he proposed the formation of the T.S. The issue, at least to H.P.B.’s understanding, was whether the Society, and Olcott as its President, was “going to stick to the Master’s programme or . . . not.” Because of her claim regarding the Society’s origin and purpose, this must be regarded as one of the more important letters to see the light of day.

Finally, two book reviews appear herein: Stephan Prothero’s The White Buddhist and Antoine Faivre’s and Jacob Needleman’s Modern Esoteric Spirituality. Both must be considered very important contributions to their respective fields. Dr. Prothero’s book was first mentioned in the last issue (p. 87), with the suggestion that it be read in tandem with three other books that discuss similar subjects. One of the authors of two of the recommended books, Dr. Ananda Guruge, is the reviewer of The White Buddhist. He was born in Sri Lanka, so he offers a uniquely Sri Lankan perspective. Dr. Guruge is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of Religion at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois). Prior to this, he has had a distinguished career in the world of diplomacy, serving as UNESCO staff member as a specialist in educational planning and management from 1968 to 1985, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka accredited to UNESCO in Paris from 1985 to 1992, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to France and accredited to Spain and Algeria from 1989 to 1992, and Ambassador to the U.S. from 1992 to 1994. Currently, he serves as Senior Special Advisor to the Director General of UNESCO. Dr. Guruge also is a renowned scholar and author of over thirty-five books and over one-hundred articles. Among his contributions is a translation of the Mahavamsa (The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka).

The second review, that of Professors Faivre’s and Needleman’s Modern Esoteric Spirituality, is by Professor James Burnell Robinson. Professor Robinson brings an expertise in both the Western esoteric traditions and Tibetan Buddhism. His review reflects a grasp of “esoteric spirituality” with his presentation of a lucid and insightful overview of Professor Faivre’s analysis of the characteristics of this form of spirituality and of Professor Needleman’s more experiential interpretation of it. Professor Robinson is the translator of Abhayadatta’s Caturashîti-siddha-pravrtti (Tibetan Grub thob brgyad cu rtsa bzhi’i lo rgyus by sMon-grub Shes-rab). It appears in English as Buddha’s Lions: The Lives of The Eighty-Four Siddhas (Berkeley, CA: Dharma Publishing, 1979).


Theosophical History Centre Publications

The Theosophical History Centre was established in London in 1985 with headquarters at the Theosophical Society in England. The announcement of its establishment came in the first issue of Theosophical History by the editor of the latter, Leslie Price, who described its purpose as the promotion of “interest in the history of the Theosophical Society and related fields.” Although in active existence for a relatively short period of time (1985 to 1989), the Centre can boast an impressive legacy of eleven publications and three International Theosophical History Conferences. All the publications are in print and can be purchased from Theosophical History. The titles are given below.

Theosophy and the Theosophical Society.
By James A. Santucci
1985 35 pages ISBN 0 948753 00 5 $4.00

Madame Blavatsky Unveiled?
By Leslie Price
1986 44 pages ISBN 0 948753 01 3 $5.00 J’Accuse: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885.
By Dr. Vernon Harrison.
1986 24 pages $3.00
The above title is the official S.P.R. offprint of the paper in the April 1986 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. With a note by Dr. John Beloff, the Editor.

Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett.
1986 65 pages ISBN 0 948753 02 1 $7.00

Madame Blavatsky: The ‘Veiled’ Years:
Light From Gurdjieff or Sufism?
By Paul Johnson
1987 11 pages ISBN 0 948753 03 X $3.00

100 Years of Modern Occultism: A Review of the Parent Theosophical Society.
By Leslie Leslie-Smith
1987 70 pages ISBN 0 948753 04 8 $8.00

The Golden Dawn and the Esoteric Section. By R.A. Gilbert
1987 24 pages ISBN 0 948753 06 2 $8.00

Bibliography of H.P. Blavatsky.
By Jean-Paul Guignette
1987 12 pages ISBN 0 948753 05 6 $4.00

Theosophia in Neo-Platonic and Christian
Literature.
By Dr. Jean-Louis Siémons
1988 32 pages ISBN 0 948753 07 2 $8.00
Senzar: The Mystery of the Mystery
Language.
By John Algeo
1988 32 pages ISBN 0 948753 08 0 $6.00

The Beginnings of Theosophy in France.
By Joscelyn Godwin
1989 39 pages ISBN 0 948753 09 9 $6.00

Vol. VI, Issue 5 (January 1997)

The last of the series of letters of H.P. Blavatsky to W.Q. Judge located in the Andover-Harvard Divinity School Library appeared in the last issue of Theosophical History. The first letter of the series, appearing in the V/2 (April 1994) issue and dated 1 May 1885, is the longest and perhaps the most important letter of the series. Fortunately, Mr. Judge’s response survived, thanks to the archives of the Theosophical Society at Adyar and to the detective work of Michael Gomes. Dated 16 May 1885, it confirms Madame Blavatsky’s disillusionment and suspicions of Franz Hartmann’s actions while at Adyar. While the 1885 Andover-Harvard letter had very little good to say about Dr. Hartmann, one should be mindful that H.P.B.’s attitude toward an individual blew hot and cold, ranging from statements of benevolence to jeremiads. This was pointed out by Doss McDavid in a letter that appeared in Theosophical History V/4 (Oct. 1994): 123.

With the close of this series of letters from H.P.B. to W.Q. Judge and the present Judge letter, I would like to publicly thank Mr. Michael Gomes for contributing so much effort in transcribing letters that are almost unreadable in places as well as for providing valuable background to the individuals and events mentioned in these letters. Special thanks too to Mr. Alan Seaburg of the Andover-Harvard Divinity School Library for his cooperation and to Mrs. Radha Burnier, the President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) for her cooperation in the publication of the Judge letter. Many years ago, when I visited Adyar and worked at the Adyar Library and Archives, the staff there and Mrs. Burnier through correspondence had extended many kindnesses to me.

The main article appearing herein is by the Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions (CESNUR) in Turin, Italy, Dr. Massimo Introvigne. His name first appears in the IV/3 issue with reviews by Joscelyn Godwin of Dr. Introvigne’s Il Cappello del Mago and I Nuovi Movimenti Magici dallo Spiritismo al Satanismo. Following this, two articles have appeared in the journal: “Armageddon in Switzerland: The Solar Temple Remembered” (V/8) and “The Recoming of the Fairies” (co-authored with Michael Homer, VI/2). The present article, “Witchcraft, Evil, and Memnoch the Devil: Esoteric and Theosophical Themes in Anne Rice’s New Orleans Fiction,” was delivered at the last American Academy of Religion Conference (November 1996). Since the Conference was held in Ms Rice’s home town of New Orleans, the presentation was especially appropriate not only because of the location.
The remaining portion of this issue are Book Notes and Book Reviews covering publications in the fields of esotericism, Anthroposophy, Buddhism, and millenianism.

It is almost impossible to give reviews of all pertinent publications from the academic and independent presses of Europe and the U.S., not to mention publishing activities of other lands. If possible, more space will be devoted to recent and not so recent publications. Apropos this observation, mention should be made of three books of particular interest that will eventually be reviewed in the journal: The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism by Joscelyn Godwin, Christian Chanel, and John P. Deveney (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995), Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian and Sex Magician by John Patrick Deveney (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), and Theosophie und Anthroposophie: Neue Aspekte zu irhrer Geschichte aus dem Nachlass von Wilhelm Hübbe-Schleiden (1846-1916) mit einer Auswahl von 81 Briefen by Norbert Klatt (Göttingen: Norbert Klatt Verlag, 1993).


Two New Associate Editors

I am happy to announce the addition of two new Associate Editors of Theosophical History, Antoine Faivre and Jean-Pierre Laurant, both of whom are members of the faculty at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (la Section des Sciences Religieuses) in the Sorbonne (Paris).

Antoine Faivre has been called by James Burnell Robinson “...arguably, the leading academic authority on esoteric movements in the world” (TH VI/4: 153). Professor Faivre, the Chair of Esoteric and Mystical Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, is becoming more widely known in the English-speaking world through a series of translations of his books published from the original French, among which are The Golden Fleece and Alchemy (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1993), Access to Western Esotericism (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994), and The Eternal Hermes (Grand Rapids, MI: Phanes Press, 1995). He has also edited (with Jacob Needleman and Karen Voss) Modern Esoteric Spirituality (NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), which was reviewed in the last issue of TH by James Burnell Robinson. One essay of note that has yet to be published in English is his definitive “Le courant théosophique (fin XVIe-XXe siècles): essai de pÇriodisation” (Politica Hermetica, No. 7, 1993: 6-41), obligatory reading for anyone who wishes to gain insight into “theosophy.” Another overview of “theosophy,” however, appears in English in The Encyclopedia of Religion (NY: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1987): 465-69. Professor Faivre is also a director of the Revue Aries (ARIES is the acronym for the Association pour la Recherche et l’Information sur l’Ésotèrisme). The last issue of Aries may be of interest; it is entitled Paracelse et les Siens and is based on the colloquium held at the Sorbonne on 15 and 16 December 1994.

Jean-Pierre Laurant is one of the leading experts in nineteenth century esotericism. He has taught this subject at the Sorbonne since 1974 and has published a number of highly regarded books on various themes centering on this topic, among which are L’Ésotèrisme (Paris: Cerf and Bref, 1993), L’ésotéricisme chrétien en France au XIXe siècle (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 1992), René Guénon (Paris: Cahier de l’Herne, 1985), and, with co-author Émile Poulat, L’Antimaçonnisme catholique (Paris: Bert international, 1994). Professor Laurant is also the editor of the annual journal, Politica Hermetica, the last two available numbers entitled Prophétisme et politique (No. 8, 1994) and Ésotérisme et socialisme (No. 9, 1995). A more detailed account of Professor Laurant’s contributions appears in Joscelyn Godwin’s review of L’Ésotérisme chrétien en France au XIXe siècle in Theosophical History V/8 (October 1995).


Theosophical History:
Occasional Papers Vol. V: Krishnamurti and the
World-Teacher Project:
Some Theosophical Perceptions
J. Krishnamurti still generates great interest among both Theosophists and non-Theosophists alike. With this in mind, the author of Krishnamurti and the World-Teacher Project, Govert W. Schüller, offers an overview of Theosophical perceptions of Krishnamurti the person and Krishnamurti the philosopher. From the Theosophical point of view, the overriding question concerns Krishnamurti’s role as the World Teacher, to which the author gives four general assessments, the fourth of which is especially intriguing:
(1) the project was perceived as genuine and successful:
(2) the project was perceived as genuine, but failed;
(3) the project was perceived as not genuine and failed;
(4) the project was perceived as not genuine, but succeeded.

Mr. Schüller examines the literature—Theosophical as well as non-Theosophical—with great acumen and clarity. Included are the assessments of (in alphabetical order) John Algeo, Alice Bailey, Annie Besant, Radha Burnier, Jean Overton Fuller, Geoffrey Hodson, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Cyril Scott, Rudolf Steiner, and Albert E.S. Smythe. Mention is also made of the highly controversial charge advanced by Radha Rajagopal Sloss in her book, Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti (reviewed in TH III/7-8).

Krishnamurti and the World-Teacher Project will be released on May 25, 1997. Those interested in ordering this volume should send a check or international money order in U.S. dollars to James Santucci (Department of Religious Studies, California State University, P.O. Box 6868, Fullerton, CA 92834-6868) payable to Theosophical History. Checks or money orders in British sterling should be made out to Dr. Joscelyn Godwin and sent to Dr. Godwin, c/o the Department of Music, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346-1398. The pre-publication price (postmarked prior to May 1) is $14.00 (£10.00); the full publication price of $17.00 (£12.00) will take effect on May 2, 1997. For air mail, please add $3.50 (£2.50). California residents, please add 7.75% sales tax ($15.08 pre-publication price; $18.31 publication price). Wholesale discounts available with the purchase of ten or more copies.


The Cottingley Fairies

As an addendum to Michael Homer’s and Massimo Introvigne’s article, “The Recoming of the Fairies” (VI/2: 59-76), the Los Angeles Times announced in its Sunday Calendar section that the film “Illumination”—scheduled for a Fall/Holiday (1997) release—will dramatize (with a great deal of poetic license judging from the description given in the Times) the Cottingley fairy story. The L.A. Times gives the following description of the film:

Peter O’Toole is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harvey Keitel plays Harry Houdini, friends who come into conflict over two children’s “proof” that fairies exist.

Vol. VI, Issue 6 (April 1997)

The October 1996 issue of Theosophical History contained the first article on a Rosicrucian subject, David T. Rocks’ “Mrs. May Banks Stacey.” This article focused on the important issue of AMORC founder H. Spencer Lewis’ claim to having received the legitimate transmission of the “ancient” Rosicrucian heritage or lineage. The theme continues in Mr. Rocks’ “H. Spencer Lewis: A Bibliographical Survey.” AMORC and Lewis have often been challenged by other rosicrucian organizations regarding their genuineness. The principal defense of Lewis’ claims, as might be expected, have been advanced through the conduit of AMORC periodicals. Mr. Rocks discusses the principal publications in the first article and provides an annotated bibliography of thirty titles (books and pamphlets) by and about H. Spencer Lewis that illustrate his claims and teachings.

Fairies seem to be making somewhat of a comeback. With one, perhaps two Hollywood films on the Cottingley fairies (see TH VI/5: 162 and Mr. Shepard’s communication in this issue), two communications are included herein providing a reminiscence of the Cottingley episode: Leslie Shepard’s “The Theosophists and the Fairies: A Footnote to the Story of the Cottingley Fairies” and Jean Overton Fuller’s “‘Fairies’ or ‘There is No Religion Higher Than Truth’.” Mr. Shepard, the editor of the Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology, provides first hand information on one of the sisters, Elsie Wright, based on an 1978 interview he conducted with her and her husband, plus many personal observations about fairies and Theosophists’ fascination with them. Miss Fuller provides a personal reaction to the claims of the sisters and the investigators, the probable fraudulency of the photographs based on anatomical inaccuracy, and an interesting reminiscence of the Theosophist clairvoyant Geoffrey Hodson.

An examination of the New York newspapers during the 1870s reveals some interesting information about the early Theosophical Society. Some of the articles from the 1877 World have been reprinted (see TH III/6, 7-8; IV/2), but there are others that further reveal Madame Blavatsky’s and Col. Olcott’s main interests during this same period. The present entries from the April 1 and 8 issues of the World reveal the existence of a Lodge devoted to the practice of magic, as was the Theosophical lamasery (H.P.B.’s apartment) mentioned in the March 26 issue of the WORLD. The discovery of these pieces was first announced in a paper given at a conference in Lyon (Le défi magique) in 1992 and subsequently published by the Presses Universitaires de Lyon (see note 12, “From the Newspapers”). Not knowing if the claims of Ezekiel Perkins, the Lampsakan, were genuine or not, I decided to wait before making a more definitive statement on it. Although no information has turned up that would shed light on who Perkins was, it is now my hypothesis that he was most likely an illusionist who made unsubstantiated, erroneous, and outrageous claims about aspects of occult practice. He responds to all claims advanced by H.P.B. during her interview at the lamasery a few nights before (see TH III/6: 174-78) and even provides a similar demonstration by making an astral body or two appear. Nothing uniquely associated with his methods and practice is revealed in these entries. This and the exorbitant claims on the origins of his Lodge and his own background all point to his being both a mountebank and a gifted illusionist. Nevertheless, these articles in the World do provide a glimpse of the world of magic in New York during the 1870s.

A New Associate Editor

The world’s leading authority on that unique 19th century purveyor of practical occultism and sex magic, Paschal Beverly Randolph, is now an Associate Editor of Theosophical History, John Patrick Deveney. Mr. Deveney is the author of the recently published Paschal Beverly Randolph (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997)1 , the co-author (with Joscelyn Godwin and Christian Chanel) of The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (York Beach, MA: Samuel Weiser, 1995), and the forthcoming study on the purpose of the early Theosophical Society, Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society, to which see below. As a regular contributor to Theosophical History, he is the author of “A Note on Psychic Attacks” (V/6) and (with Joscelyn Godwin and Michael Gomes) “Correspondence of H.P. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott with Thomas A. Edison” (VI/2). Mr. Deveney is also the creator of the new web site for Theosophical History, which is announced below.

His insights in nineteenth-century Spiritualism and occultism, and his commitment to Theosophical History, will be especially welcomed.


One-hundredth Anniversary
of Point Loma

Almost unnoticed is a fairly significant event in the history of the Theosophical Movement that occurred one hundred years ago in San Diego, California: the purchase and laying of the cornerstone for the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity of what was to become the international headquarters of the then Theosophical Society in America under Katherine Tingley (1847–1929). The School was in reality not one building but the site of what was to become a community where the Theosophical ideals could be realized. If we accept Mrs. Tingley’s account, it was Gen. John Charles Frémont (b. Jan. 21, 1813–d. July 13, 1890), the mapmaker and explorer of the West, who, only a few weeks prior to his death in 1890, suggested Point Loma (Punta de la Loma), a spit of land on the western side of San Diego Bay (about three miles from downtown San Diego), as the likely site for realizing Mrs. Tingley’s childhood dream of founding a city by the Pacific that would unite people of all countries.

One week after the death of William Q. Judge on March 21, 1896, Mrs. Tingley was endorsed (on March 29) by the leaders of the Esoteric Section as Mr. Judge’s successor as Outer Head of the E.S. Shortly thereafter, at the April (1896) T.S. in America convention, she revealed publicly for the first time her idea to establish a School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity, obviously an allusion to the ancient Wisdom mentioned and described in Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine. This announcement, together with her June (1896) announcement of a world crusade, worked hand-in-hand to publicize both the existence of another Theosophical Society besides the Adyar Society and to publicize what was to become the establishment of a new world headquarters of her Society.

Two weeks before Mrs. Tingley and her party reached San Francisco, her arrival occurring on February 13, 1897, a down payment had been placed on 132 acres of land north of Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation. Ten days later (February 23), the ceremony placing the cornerstone for the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity took place with great fanfare with about 1000 San Diegans, including the Mayor of San Diego, in attendance. Thus was the auspicious beginning of a Theosophical experiment that was to last forty-five years, at which time the land at Point Loma was sold by the then Leader of the Theosophical Society, Gottfried de Purucker, who relocated a much smaller Theosophical community to the then small community of Covina east of Los Angeles.

Although the Point Loma Theosophical community, or Lomaland as it is sometimes called, has gone out of existence over fifty years ago, its memory has been kept alive by former residents and students who lived at the site, most notably W. Emmett Small, who first came to Point Loma in 1905 at the age of two. It was with great pleasure, therefore, that I gave a public lecture, “Theosophy at Point Loma—1897,”2 as part of the celebration of another important part of San Diegan cultural life, San Diego State University, on March 12 with Mr. Small, his wife Carmen, and their son Ken in attendance. Also present was Dr. Dwayne Little, currently the Director of Planning at the Point Loma Nazarene College, which now occupies the Lomaland site. By coincidence, Dr. Little’s interest in the Theosophical community has made him one of the most knowledgeable individuals of the Point Loma site. As an aside, Dr. Little is especially fortunate to have his office in the former home of A.G. Spalding, the sporting goods magnate and husband of Elizabeth Mayer Churchill—a personal pupil of H.P. Blavatsky. The house, built in 1901 or 1902, is now the administration building of the College. Thanks to the interest and support undertaken by the Nazarene College and by Dr. Little, it is still possible to visit the campus and get a fairly good idea of how Lomaland appeared in the early part of the twentieth century.

Theosophical History: Occasional Papers Vol. VI: Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society

An information sheet on the Theosophical Society published around 1897 describes the T.S. as “an International Body . . . which was founded at New York, U.S., on the 17th day of November, 1875, with three well-defined objects. . . .” Although somewhat ambiguous, the impression given the casual reader is that the T.S. at its inception had three objects, the first of which is “to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity. . . .” This is the impression that still exists today among many Theosophists and historians with passing knowledge of Theosophical history. A careful reading of the events that led to the formation of the Theosophical Society and its activities during the New York years (1875-1878) leaves no doubt that this is an erroneous view. Although a number of studies have revealed the original goals and activities of the Society, no study has exhibited such an extensive investigation of this topic as John Patrick Deveney’s Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society. Mr. Deveney culls his information from a host of primary sources that leave the reader with little doubt that magic, occultism, or Theosophy refer more to the manipulation of the secret laws of nature rather than the speculation thereof, at least in this early period of Theosophical history. Madame Blavatsky’s famous lamasery is mentioned as a training school for magic, especially the separation of the astral body from the physical body. Isis Unveiled also is largely based on the separability of the astral and physical bodies. Madame Blavatsky herself possessed this ability or at least claimed this ability well into the 1880s. Other members, such as Damodar and Stainton Moses supposedly possessed this ability. In addition, the role of George Henry Felt in the founding of the Society, what it means to be a “chela” and achieve “Chelaship,” and the possible implications of the early objects upon the later T.S. are all discussed. In short, this study serves as a corrective to the misconceptions and general ignorance about the early T.S. that seem to be widespread to the present day.

Mr. Deveney is very well-qualified to write on this topic. The author of the newly-published Paschal Beverly Randolph (Albany: SUNY, 1997) and co-author of The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995), he has a grasp of the literature of the period that is unsurpassed.

Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society, will be released on November 25, 1997. Those interested in ordering this volume should send a check or international money order in U.S. dollars to James Santucci (Department of Religious Studies, California State University, P.O. Box 6868, Fullerton, CA 92834-6868) payable to Theosophical History. Checks or money orders in British sterling should be made out to Dr. Joscelyn Godwin and sent to Dr. Godwin c/o the Department of Music, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346-1398. The pre-publication price (postmarked prior to October 1) is $18.00 (£13.00); the full publication price of $22.00 (£16.00) will take effect on October 2, 1997. For air mail, please add $4.00 (£3). There is no extra shipping and handling charge except for air mail. California residents, please add 7.75% sales tax ($19.40 pre-publication price; $23.71 publication price). Wholesale discounts available with the purchase of ten or more copies.



Theosophical History Web Site

Theosophical History now a has a web site, and I would like to thank John Patrick Deveney for making it possible. The address is http://idt.net/~pdeveney/index.html. The web site will regularly upload the full text of significant articles that have appeared in this journal. In time, we hope to make it a clearinghouse of information, notes, and queries of interest in the field. Please check it out and send along your suggestions.

International Theosophical History Conference

Planning for the Theosophical History Conference, first announced in the April 1996 issue, is moving along very well. It will be held on July 11, 12, and 13, 1997 at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in England (50 Gloucester Place, London). Presenters include the following:
John Patrick Deveney, “Astral Projection and the Early Theosophical Society”

Frits Evelein, “Cosmogenesis, Universal Consciousness and Evolution: Theosophy in the Works of Monrian, Lauweriks and De Bazel”

Nicholas Campion, “The Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society”

Joy Dixon, “Sex is Not a Freehold Possession: Feminism, Theosophy, and the New Era”

Michael Gomes, “Unveiling Isis”

K. Paul Johnson (in absentia), “Theosophy in the Edgar Cayce Readings”

Daniel Caracostea “Jacolliot”

James Santucci, “Charles Sotheran’s Explanation of Theosophy”

Tore Ahlbäck, “Theosophy and Socialism”

Jean Overton Fuller, “Cyril Scott and a Hidden School”



A Request from Dr. Peter Michel

Dr. Peter Michel informs me that he is currently researching the life of Charles Webster Leadbeater. He requests help from anyone who can supply him with information and documentation on Leadbeater’s life prior to 1900. If anyone can be of assistance, please write Dr. Michel at Voglherd 1, 85567 Grafing, Germany or fax him at 49-8092-9444.

Dr. Michel’s book, Krishnamurti—Freiheit und Liebe: Annäherung an ein Geheimnis (Grafing: Aquamarin Verlag, 1992) has recently been published in English under the title, Krishnamurti— Love and Freedom: Approaching a Mystery, published by Bluestar Communications (44 Bear Glenn, Woodside, CA 94062).


Theosophical History: Occasional Papers Vol. V: Krishnamurti and the World-Teacher Project: Some Theosophical Perceptions

J. Krishnamurti still generates great interest among both Theosophists and non-Theosophists alike. With this in mind, the author of Krishnamurti and the World-Teacher Project, Govert W. Schüller, offers an overview of Theosophical perceptions of Krishnamurti the person and Krishnamurti the philosopher. From the Theosophical point of view, the overriding question concerns Krishnamurti’s role as the World Teacher, to which the author gives four general assessments, of which the fourth is especially intriguing:

(1) the project was perceived as genuine and successful:
(2) the project was perceived as genuine, but failed;
(3) the project was perceived as not genuine and failed;
(4) the project was perceived as not genuine, but succeeded.

Mr. Schüller examines the literature-Theosophical as well as non-Theosophical-with great acumen and clarity. Included are the assessments of (in alphabetical order) John Algeo, Alice Bailey, Annie Besant, Radha Burnier, Jean Overton Fuller, Geoffrey Hodson, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Cyril Scott, Rudolf Steiner, and Albert E.S. Smythe. Mention is also made of the highly controversial charge advanced by Radha Rajagopal Sloss in her book, Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti (reviewed in TH III/7-8).

Krishnamurti and the World-Teacher Project will be released on May 25, 1997. Those interested in ordering this volume should send a check or international money order in U.S. dollars to James Santucci (Department of Religious Studies, California State University, P.O. Box 6868, Fullerton, CA 92834-6868) payable to Theosophical History. Checks or money orders in British sterling should be made out to Dr. Joscelyn Godwin and sent to Dr. Godwin c/o the Department of Music, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346-1398. The pre-publication price (postmarked prior to May 1) is $14.00 (£10.00); the full publication price of $17.00 (£12.00) will take effect on May 2, 1997. For air mail, please add $3.50 (£2.50). California residents, please add 7.75% sales tax ($15.08 pre-publication price; $18.31 publication price). Wholesale discounts available with the purchase of ten or more copies.
New Telephone Number

Beginning April 21, my telephone number has been changed from 714-773-3727 to 714-278-3727.


Notes

1A review of the book appears in Gnosis, no. 43 (Spring 1997): 66-67. Charles S. Clifton, the reviewer, states at the end of his review the following, with which I am in full agreement:

I wish only that the standard historians of nineteenth-century religion in America, who treat Spiritualism briefly if at all in their obsession with “awakenings” and denominational doings, would give more attention to this collection of movements that involved so many people.

2I would like to thank Professor Willard Johnson of the Department of Religious Studies for inviting me to give the talk.

Vol. VI, Issue 7 (July 1997)

Since 1997 is the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Theosophical Society’s headquarters at Point Loma, two offerings are presented herein: Richard Robb’s recounting of his effort in replacing, or replicating, the glass sphere on Spalding House, one of the original structures built there around the turn of the century and the only one of three with glass domes still standing (the other two being the Academy and the Temple). Mr. Robb is the founder of Wizards Bookshelf (Box 6600, San Diego CA 92106) and has done fine work in publishing a number of books significant in Theosophical thought.

The second offering on Point Loma is a review of In the Temple, a series of symposiums presented by the successor to Katherine Tingley, Gottfried de Purucker, on the thought of four ancient lands—India, China, the Celtic lands, and Egypt. John Drais, the reviewer, is Abbot of The Paracelsian Order in Dulzura, California.
We are happy to have Leslie Price, the former editor of Theosophical History, once again contributing to the journal. He sends a communication commenting on Pier Franco Beatrice’s “Pagan Wisdom and Christian Theology according to the ‘Tübingen Theosophy’” and a review of David Shaw’s Gerald Massey.

Other contributors include John Oliphant and James Biggs. The author of that fine biography on Brother XII, John Oliphant, reviews for the journal Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss. The topic of the book, past-life memories and reincarnation, is of current interest to Mr. Oliphant, who is researching these phenomena. James Biggs, the author of a very informative article on Bellamy and the Nationalist Movement (“Theosophy and Nationalism: A Dialogue,” IV/4-5 [Oct. 1992]), reviews William Leach’s Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture. Included in the discussion of consumer culture and corporate business is the role of religion and “positive thinkers” such as New Thought, Unity, Christian Science, and Theosophy. Also included is mention of the Theosophical connection with the Wizard of Oz and its author, Frank Baum.

Finally, the article “George Henry Felt: The Life Unknown” is an attempt to shed some light on one of the most mysterious and problematic formers of the Theosophical Society. Felt’s contribution to the Society has been recognized by Col. Olcott, but it is only within the past few years that any serious effort has been attempted to unveil his life and to understand his contribution to the founding of the T.S. This article does not answer all the questions, but it dispels some of the shadowy imagery of this unusual man.

International Theosophical History Conference

Planning for the Theosophical History Conference, first announced in the April 1996 issue, is nearly finalized as of this writing. It will be held on July 11, 12, and 13, 1997 at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in England (50 Gloucester Place, London). The order of presenters include the following:

1. James Santucci, “Charles Sotheran’s Description of Theosophy: the 1876 Article in the Spiritual Scientist

2. John Patrick Deveney, “Astral Projection and the Early Theosophical Society”

3. Daniel Caracostea, “Jacolliot”

4. Vernon Harrison, “New Discoveries in The Mahatma Letters”

5. Michael Gomes, “Unveiling Isis”

6. Nicholas Campion, “Creativity and Conflict: The Astrological Lodge”

7. Tore Ahlbäck, “Theosophy and Socialism”

8. John Hamill, “Stainton Moses, Masonry and Theosophy

9. Kim Farnell, “Walter Old: The Man who held Madame Blavatsky’s Hand”

10. Jean Overton Fuller, “Cyril Scott and a Hidden School”

11. Joy Dixon, “Sex is Not a Freehold Possession”

12. Judy Salzman, “The True Service of Humanity: Robert Crosbie and the United Lodge of Theosophists”

13. Paul Johnson, “Theosophy in the Edgar Cayce Readings”

14. Robert Gilbert, “The Disappointed Magus: John Thomas and his Celestial Brotherhood”

15. James Santucci, “The Point Loma Theosophical Society: 1897”

* * *

Magic, Milennium and New Religious Movements

The Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR or Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni) will hold its 11th International Conference at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam from 7-9 August 1997. Sessions include “The New Cult Wars,” “Traditional Witchcraft and Modern Satanism,” “Swedenborg,” “Gurdjieff,” “Gnoses Anciennes et Modernes,” and “The Great European Cult Scare.” Speakers include Wouter Hanegraaff (“New Age and the Secularisation of Western Esotericism”), James Moore (“The Politics of Consciousness: Gurdjieff’s Recourse to Four Historical Paradigms”), Michael Homer (“Magic in Contemporary Occult Movements: Problems in Methodology”), Carlos Gilly (“La magie au Moyen Age”) Jean-Pierre Laurant (“L’occultisme du XIXe siècle, religion nouvelle pour la fin des temps”), Massimo Introvigne (“Beelzebub’s Tales to European Governments: A Crash Course on How to Reduce Religious Liberty to an Empty Shell” and “Lectorium Rosicrucianum: A Dutch Movement Becomes International”), Herman A.O. de Tollenaere (“An Old New Religion and Authorities: The Theosophical Society in the Netherlands and in the Dutch Colonial Empire [1880-1996]”), and J. Gordon Melton (“Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment”).

The registration fee is F.60 (Dutch guilders). For students it is F.30. One can pay by mail (deadline is July 20) or at the conference on August 7 between 8:00 and 10:00 am. The contact person and address of the registration site is:
CESNUR CONFERENCE AMSTERDAM
REENDER KREANENBORG
FACULTY OF THEOLOGY
VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT
DE BOELELAAN 1105
1081 HV AMSTERDAM
THE NETHERLANDS

Prague Alchemy &
The Hermetic Tradition

In 1600, Prague was the greatest center in Europe for the study of alchemy and hermetic philosophy. To celebrate this period, a summer-long festival of art, music and cultural events will be held in the capital of the Czech Republic. As a parallel event, a conference, “Prague Alchemy & The Hermetic Tradition,” sponsored by the New York Open Center among other associations, will be held in the capital from August 29 to September 2, 1997. Speakers include Joscelyn Godwin (“Alchemy & the Pagan Imagination”), Adam McLean (“Alchemy in the Age of Rudolf”), Christopher McIntosh (“Royal Outsiders: Rudolf II & Ludwig II”), Robert Powell (“Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Rudolf II & the Prague Hermetic Renaissance”), Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (“John Dee & Renaissance Magic”), Christopher Bamford (“Rudolfine Prague: Sunset of the Renaissance”), Zdenek Neubauer (“Cartesian Mysteries”), and Cherry Gilchrist (“Of Angels & Dragons: The Visionary Tradition in Alchemy”). Workshops will also be held on various topics, such Joscelyn Godwin’s “Prague’s Hermetic Regent: Archduke Ferdinand” and Adam McLean’s “The Inner Theatre of Khunrath’s Alchemy.” Further information will be available from the New York Open Center at (212) 219-2527 (tel.), (212) 226-4056 (fax), or e-mail: nyocreg@aol.com. Some information is available in Prague 420 2 432 816 (tel.), 420 2 961 41122 (vm), and on e-mail: michal@terminal.cz.


Theosophical History:
Occasional Papers Vol. VI:

Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society
An information sheet on the Theosophical Society published around 1897 describes the T.S. as “an International Body . . . which was founded at New York, U.S., on the 17th day of November, 1875, with three well-defined objects. . . .” Although somewhat ambiguous, the impression given the casual reader is that the T.S. at its inception had three objects, the first of which is “to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity. . . .” This is the impression that still exists today among many Theosophists and historians with passing knowledge of Theosophical history. A careful reading of the events that led to the formation of the Theosophical Society and its activities during the New York years (1875-1878) leaves no doubt that this is an erroneous view. Although a number of studies have revealed the original goals and activities of the Society, no study has exhibited such an extensive investigation of this topic as John Patrick Deveney’s Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society. Mr. Deveney culls his information from a host of primary sources that leave the reader with little doubt that magic, occultism, or Theosophy refer more to the manipulation of the secret laws of nature rather than the speculation thereof, at least in this early period of Theosophical history. Madame Blavatsky’s famous lamasery is mentioned as a training school for magic, especially the separation of the astral body from the physical body. Isis Unveiled also is largely based on the separability of the astral and physical bodies. Madame Blavatsky herself possessed this ability or at least claimed this ability well into the 1880s. Other members, such as Damodar and Stainton Moses supposedly possessed this ability. In addition, the role of George Henry Felt in the founding of the Society, what it means to be a “chela” and achieve “Chelaship,” and the possible implications of the early objects upon the later T.S. are all discussed. In short, this study serves as a corrective to the misconceptions and general ignorance about the early T.S. that seem to be widespread to the present day.

Mr. Deveney is very well-qualified to write on this topic. The author of the newly-published Paschal Beverly Randolph (Albany: SUNY, 1997) and co-author of The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995), he has a grasp of the literature of the period that is unsurpassed.

Astral Projection or Liberation of the Double and the Work of the Early Theosophical Society, will be released on November 25, 1997. Those interested in ordering this volume should send a check or international money order in U.S. dollars to James Santucci (Department of Religious Studies, California State University, P.O. Box 6868, Fullerton, CA 92834-6868) payable to Theosophical History. Checks or money orders in British sterling should be made out to Dr. Joscelyn Godwin and sent to Dr. Godwin c/o the Department of Music, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346-1398. The pre-publication price (postmarked prior to October 1) is $18.00 (£13.00); the full publication price of $22.00 (£16.00) will take effect on October 2, 1997. For air mail, please add $4.00 (£3). There is no extra shipping and handling charge except for air mail. California residents, please add 7.75% sales tax ($19.40 pre-publication price; $23.71 publication price). Wholesale discounts available with the purchase of ten or more copies.

Vol. VI, Issue 8 (October 1997)

Unlike recent past issues, in which one major article appeared, two articles appear herein: “Behind the Veil of ‘Cherubina de Gabriak’” by Kristi A. Groberg, and “The Solar Temple Strikes Back: Comments and Interpretations after the Second Tragedy” by Massimo Introvigne. The first article examines that portion of the life of Elizaveta Ivanovna Dmitrieva (1887–1928), who, during 1909 and 1910, was known as “Cherubina de Gabriak,” a pseudonym she used while publishing a series of poems in the journal Apollo, a journal edited by Sergei Makovskii. The poems were submitted while Dmitrieva was having a love affair with the writer Nikolai Gumilëv. Although one might expect this subject to be presented in a literary journal, the significance of the poetry at this time is the influence of Anthroposophy in Dmitrieva’s life and work. These poems accordingly reveal a fusion of Symbolism—a significantly influential literary movement initiated in the late 1800s—and Anthroposophy and which were regarded by a member of the editorial board of Apollo, Innokentii Annenskii, as on a par with the French Symbolists Charles Beaudelaire and Joris-Karl Huysmans. Although this short period of 1909-1910—when she assumed the mysterious persona of Cherubina de Gabriak—ended as abruptly as it began, her life thereafter reveals a literary activity and a continuing influence upon her of Anthroposophical ideas. As Dr. Groberg concludes: “It is Anthroposophy that will, I believe, ultimately provide a more true picture of the complexity of Dmitrieva’s literary corpus.” The author, Dr. Kristi Groberg is a member of the History Department at Moorhead State University (Minnesota). She received her Ph.D. in Russian History at the University of Minnesota in 1992 and has since written a number of articles, including eight entries in the Dictionary of Russian Women Writers (edited by Mrina Ledkovsky, Charlotte Rosenthal and Mary Zirin [Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994]).

The second article, “The Solar Temple Strikes Back,” is an update of Massimo Introvigne’s “Armageddon in Switzerland,” which originally appeared in the October 1995 (V/8) issue of this journal. The initial tragedy of fifty-three individuals found dead in Switzerland and Quebec, Canada in 1994, followed by nineteen more bodies—sixteen members of the OTS or Ordre du Temple Solaire and three of their children—in December 1995 has led to extensive study and investigation by the police and academics. Dr. Introvigne has reviewed these studies and provides a threefold approach to the events at hand: reductionist interpretations, socio-psychological interpretations, and historical interpretations. Dr. Introvigne is the Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions (CESNUR) in Turin, Italy. He is a prolific writer of articles and books and certainly one of the most knowledgeable scholars of new religious movements in the world today. His last contribution to this journal appeared in the January 1997 issue of the journal, “Witchcraft, Evil, and Memnoch the Devil: Esoteric and Theosophical Themes in Anne Rice’s New Orleans Fiction.”

W.T.S. Thackara’s “Notes on Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon” by Peter Washington is not so much a book review as a remedial essay. When Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon first appeared in the U.K. in 1993, many were dismayed at the number of inaccuracies in the author’s treatment of the Theosophical content of the book. It was hoped that when Schocken Books published it in the U.S., the necessary corrections would have been made. Such was not the case, however. As a result, Mr. Thackara of the Theosophical University Press (Theosophical Society, Pasadena) undertook the task of itemizing and correcting some of the more significant errors. Given the popularity of the book (there are numerous references on the Internet), it is important that readers be aware that although the book is entertaining (Robert Boyd in TH VI/6 wrote a more sympathetic review, highlighting the scope and ideas contained therein), it is important that readers—especially scholars—be made aware of the oversights and sometimes inexcusable errors that are scattered in Mr. Washington’s book. Of course, the question arises, “If the book has this many errors in reference only to Theosophy, how many more exist in the author’s treatment of the other movements?” Perhaps others will respond to this question.

Two more entries appear in this issue, Leslie Price’s book notes on three titles—two of which are published by Temple Lodge (London) and one by Findhorn Press—and three items that originally appeared in the New York Sun in 1877.


International Theosophical History Conference: 1997 (London)

The Seventh International Theosophical History Conference was held at the headquarters of The Theosophical Society in England on July 11, 12, and 13 sponsored by the Foundation for Theosophical Studies and directed by the editor. Fifteen papers were presented by speakers from Canada, Finland, France, the U.K. and the U.S. Topics ranged from the early days of the T.S. to the mid-20th century. The Conference’s theme, “Issues and Personalities in the History of the Theosophical Society” dealt with such issues as the connection of the women in the suffragette movement and the Theosophical Society (Joy Dixon’s “Sex is Not a Freehold Possession”), Madame Blavatsky’s exoneration from writing the Mahatma Letters (Vernon Harrison’s “New Discoveries in The Mahatma Letters”), the original purpose of forming the Theosophical Society (“Astral Projection and the Early Theosophical Society” by J.P. Deveney), and the relation of Theosophy with socialism in Finland (“Theosophy and Socialism” by Tore Ahlback).

Personalities ranged from Charles Sotheran (“Charles Sotheran’s Description of Theosophy” by James Santucci), the astrologers Alan Leo (“Creativity and Conflict” by Nicholas Campion), Walter Old (“Walter Old: the Man Who Held Madame Blavatsky’s Hand” by Kim Farnell), Cyril Scott (“Cyril Scott and a Hidden School” by Jean Overton-Fuller), Louis Jacolliot (“Jacolliot and the Influence of India” by Daniel Caracostea), Stainton Moses (“Stainton Moses, Masonry and Theosophy” by John Hamill), Edgar Cayce (“Theosophy in the Edgar Cayce Readings” by Paul Johnson), and John Thomas (“The Disappointed Magus: John Thomas and his ‘Celestial Brotherhood’” by Robert Gilbert), Robert Crosbie and B.P. Wadia (“The True Service of Humanity” by Judy Saltzman).

Also among the papers was Michael Gomes’ “Unveiling Isis,” an overview of the contents and findings of Madame Blavatsky’s first major work, Isis Unveiled, and a report on his preparation of an abridged version of the same.

The last contribution to the Conference was my own “The Point Loma Theosophical Society: 1897,” a slide lecture on the origins of the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Point Loma (San Diego, California).

Conferences such as the International Theosophical History Conference are important for a number of reasons. First, it allows historians to come together and to share their research and discoveries. Furthermore, scholarly networks are either established or strengthened. One of the pleasant discoveries that came out of this Conference was the opportunity to meet with individuals who have been conducting research generally unknown to those connected with Theosophical History. Kim Farnell’s work on Walter Old represents part of a major study that will come out in book form sometime in 1998. Joy Dixon’s work on women’s rights in England gives new insights to the Theosophical contribution to the suffragette movement. Tore Ahlbäck’s “Theosophy and Socialism” offers insight into the role of the T.S. in Finland.

Another reason for holding conferences is to demonstrate the legitimacy of studying a topic such as Theosophy and its offshoots. All too often, this subject, when it is discussed in scholarly circles, is presented in a most unscholarly fashion. Falsehoods are perpetuated and original research is not actively pursued. A renewed interest in Theosophy is appearing, however. One sees a sprinkling of articles on the subject in academic journals as well as in books published in academic presses. Recently, Stephen Prothero of Boston University and the author of The White Buddhist (reviewed in TH VI/4 [Oct. 1996]) wrote a review essay entitled “Theosophy’s Sinner/Saint: Recent Books on Madame Blavatsky” in the Religious Studies Review 23/3 (July 1997): 257-62, giving his assessment of six recently published works. Such a review would not be possible or even accepted a few years ago. Dr. Prothero’s assessment of all the books offers promise for future research in this field. He writes:

The books reviewed here, especially when added to earlier related work, make a strong case for the claim that Blavatsky is as important as she is intriguing. They also make it painfully apparent that Blavatsky, despite the hundreds of books either celebrating or reviling her, still awaits a dispassionate historian of religion who will give her her due.

It is my hope that this will take place sooner rather than later. One way of doing so is for scholars to reevaluate—or perhaps read for the first time—Blavatsky’s principal writings in the light of nineteenth century scholarship. Readers will be surprised, in my opinion, at the depth and eclecticism that exists especially in her masterworks, Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine.

* * *

International Theosophical History Conference: 2000 (Point Loma)

I am in the process of arranging the next Theosophical History conference at Point Loma. The site for the conference will be the same as that of the fifth International Theosophical History Conference: the Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego, which is located on the land formerly held by the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society under the leadership of Katherine Tingley (1897-1929) and Gottfried de Purucker (1929-1942). Although the Nazarene College has developed the campus since its purchase in 1973 and especially since the last conference in 1992, many of the old buildings still remain: Spalding House (now the Administration Building, to which see Richard Robb’s “Getting on the Ball” in TH VI/7), North House (now the Alumni House), the Greek Amphitheater, the Casa Rosa (now the Student Health Center), and Madame Tingley’s house. The campus overlooks the Pacific Ocean and still retains its beauty.
Housing at the residence halls on the campus will be arranged, although motels and hotels in town are an option. The San Diego Airport is only a few minutes away, so the expense will be minimal in getting to Point Loma.

The conference is planned for two days. In addition, there will be opportunities to visit the sites of San Diego, including the University of California, San Diego archives and the San Diego Historical Society’s collections.

Should you be interested in attending the Conference and should you have any questions about transportation, tours, or special events, please write or fax me. I will in turn include additional information in future issues to keep you updated on the planning.

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