Index of Contents
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 1
This first issue of 1998 presents two very significant articles: “Reflections on the Meaning of Theosophy” by Dan Merkur of the University of Toronto and “Colonel Arthur L. Conger” by Alan E. Donant, National Secretary of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), American Section.
Dr. Merkur, the author of Gnosis: An Esoteric Tradition of Mystical Visions and Unions (Albany: SUNY, 1993), is a respected author who presents in this article a highly original and thought-provoking interpretation of “theosophy” and its development. It is an article that displays a clarity and range of knowledge that demands a careful and reflective reading. Written by a scholar with an intimate knowledge of the sources, Dr. Merkur proposes that theosophy is a “way of doing theology,” a “method for arriving at theological conclusions.” He speaks of the “theological dilemma” of religions which postulate the ineffability of God, a dilemma that can be pursued through the via negativa, through paradox, or through theosophy. A historical account follows with mention of Gnosticism, Hermetism, the Iamblichean tradition of Neoplatonism, the first major Neoplatonic philosopher in Islam—al-Farabi (c. 870-950)—Sufism, al-Ghazali and the establishment of the relation of mysticism with theosophy, the kabbalah, the shift of theosophy to the humanities, Christian theosophy, Raymond Lull and Jacob Boehme, theosophy’s eclipse because of the Enlightenment, and an unexpected convergence of the philosophy of science with the theosophical point of view. In this first part of the article, Dr. Merkur concludes:
In this essay, I have suggested that a definition of theosophy that reflects its consensus use warrants the term’s application also to the early medieval tradition of philosophy that is conventionally but unduly simply termed “Neoplatonic.” . . . the theosophical method of theological analysis has been continuous from the 9th century onward. Lastly, as the contemporary philosophy of science turns to address the problem of values, it is beginning to see its way clear, if not to a committed theosophy, at least to a methodologically agnostic anthroposophy.
In the second part of the paper, Dr. Merkur introduces the term theurgy as a “theosopher’s voluntary role in preparing for mystical insights and unions.” Finally, he raises the question whether there are non-Western theosophies. Religio-philosophical systems such as Taoism and Hindu and Buddhist tantra are introduced as candidates but are not considered viable according to the definition of theosophy under consideration.
The second paper, “Colonel Arthur L. Conger,” was originally presented at the fifth International Theosophical History Conference at Point Loma on June 14, 1992. After considerably additional archival research by its author, Alan E. Donant, the paper is herein presented in an entirely new version. It is an important paper because it is the first biography of the successor to Gottfried de Purucker as Leader of the Theosophical Society (Covina and, later, Pasadena). Theosophically speaking, Col. Conger’s career spanned from 1892 to his death in 1951. Mr. Donant covers all aspects of his life: his childhood, his career at Harvard, his abbreviated seminary career at the Episcopal Theological Seminary at Cambridge, his discovery of Theosophy in the early 1890s and subsequent membership in the Theosophical Society and Esoteric Section, his work for the T.S. including becoming Katherine Tingley’s secretary around 1896. He discusses the reasons for Conger’s entering the military and his career as a military officer and historian, his official return to the leadership of the T.S. by becoming the American Section President in 1932, and his subsequent work for the T.S. culminating in his being elected by the Cabinet as Leader of the T.S. The paper reveals Colonel Conger as a multi-talented, well-educated scion of parents who were themselves highly successful in their respective careers. Mr. Donant is to be congratulated for gathering so much information about a man who—if known at all within Theosophical circles—is judged primarily for his role in the dismissals from the headquarters staff at Covina.
Although these dismissals make up only a small portion of the paper, I suspect that judgment of Mr. Donant’s paper will rest solely on his observations of the events of 1946. The dismissals are a defining moment in the history of the T.S. and so cannot be ignored by the historian. Mr. Donant has therefore added to our knowledge of the events by basing his account not on opinion but on the legitimate use of primary source material held in the Archives of the T.S. in Pasadena. Little information is given as to why there was dissatisfaction with Col. Conger’s election as leader other than the mention that he was confined to a wheelchair with Parkinson’s disease, which in Mr. Donant’s opinion caused dismay among some in the Cabinet: “[i]t was a prejudice against this illness that lay at the heart of the turmoil to come.” Most of the discussion centers, however, on the time of departure when the principals left Headquarters. His approach is therefore a cautious one.
This paper is not intended to be the last word on the subject or to close the book on the episode. What it does achieve is to serve as a corrective on the timing when noted individuals either left the headquarters or their positions. For instance, Mr. Donant remarks that Boris de Zirkoff, Sven Eek, George Cardinal Le Gros, and L. Gordon Plummer all left Headquarters prior to 1946 for varying reasons, so they should not be included in the events of 1946.
In closing, as editor of Theosophical History it is my hope that this paper will stimulate further discussion on this episode in the history of the Theosophical Society. Until all the documents surface from all quarters, one must maintain an open and dispassionate mind on this controversial subject.
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
|The Formation of the Theosophical Society||Dara Eklund|
|The Canon of Proportion||Jean Overton Fuller|
|The India Office Library||Tony Hern|
|Reflection on the Meaning of Theosophy||Dan Merkur|
|Colonel Arthur L. Conger||Alan E. Donant|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 2
An interesting mixture of topics is presented in this issue. Two articles are presented: “The Child, Theosophy, and Victorian American Culture at Point Loma” by William M. Ashcraft and “A Tibetan Description of HPB” by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. The first article by Dr. Ashcraft proposes a new look at Point Loma, building upon the initial insights of Emmett Greenwalt’s California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897–1942, and going beyond his concerns to present Point Loma as an excellent example of a community displaying cultural synthesis. This synthesis of “practical Theosophy” and American Victorian values is especially evident in the rearing and education of children. On the one hand, the Point Loma Theosophists conformed to prevalent views of child care, yet on the other hand there was the controversial and seemingly contradictory practice of separating the children at Point Loma from their biological parents. The purpose of this practice, in the view of the educationists at Point Loma, was to maximize the children’s spiritual and character training by placing them in the more capable hands of the Point Loma staff. Still, this care and training was not impersonal but was purportedly accompanied with a love that was equally maternal and nurturing as that of the biological parents. The notion of family thus was expanded from the nuclear family to that of a “kinship network.” The title of Mrs. Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village, clearly reflects this attitude.
The second article was originally delivered at the American Academy of Religion last November. Entitled “A Tibetan Description of HPB,” Professor Donald S. Lopez provides information about the figure who wrote this only known portrait in Tibetan literature, Gendun Chopel (dGe ‘dun Chos ‘phel). Chopel was a traveler and translator who collaborated with George Roerich, the son of Nicholas Roerich, in the translation of Deb ther sngon po, a history of Tibetan Buddhism originally written in 1476. Chopel wrote his travel journals around 1940, a portion of which contained a survey of the religious climate in India. In this context, he mentioned both Theosophy and Madame Blavatsky. Dr. Lopez’ translation and observations are contained within the article, both of which should be of great interest to Theosophists.
A word now of the authors’ background. William M. Ashcraft teaches in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. He received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Virginia in 1992. His thesis is entitled “The Dawn of the New Cycle”: Point Loma Theosophists and American Culture, 1896–1929. Professor Lopez is Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He is the author of many books, among which are Buddhist Hermeneutics (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1988), Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), and Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996).
A new feature, “Associate Editor’s Communications,” allows the Associate Editors to contribute reviews, short articles, or observations pertinent to the subject area of the journal. It is fitting that Leslie Price—the founder of Theosophical History, former editor and current U.K. representative of Theosophical History—contributes two communications: “In Search of Simon Magus” and “A New Criticism of Richard Hodgson.”
Another new entry is Michael Homer’s cinema review of Fairy Tale: A True Story. Readers may recall Mr. Homer’s “The Recoming of the Fairies” (co-authored by Massimo Introvigne), which appeared in the April 1996 issue. The article prompted two responses by Leslie Shepard and Jean Overton Fuller in the April 1997 issue. Now that the film has appeared, Mr. Homer comments on the story line and its correlation with the actual events.
Finally, a book review is included. The contributor, George Williams, is professor at Chico State. He is the author of The Quest for Meaning of Svami Vivekananda (Chico: New Horizons Press, 1974).
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
|In Search of Simon Magus
A New Criticism of Richard Hodgson
A Theosophical Encyclopedia
|The Child, Theosophy, and Victorian American Culture at Point Loma||William M. Ashcraft|
|A Tibetan Description of HPB||Donald S. Lopez, Jr.|
|America’s Religions||George Williams|
|Fairy Tale: A True Story||Michael Homer|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 3
It was with profound sadness that I learned of the death of one of our associate editors, John Cooper. Those within the field of Theosophical history viewed John to be one of its most erudite investigators. Certainly, within the field of Australian Theosophy he was unrivaled. His Master of Arts thesis, The Theosophical Crisis in Australia: The Story of the Breakup of the Theosophical Society in Sydney from 1913 until 1923—submitted to the University of Sydney in 1986—is a wonderfully detailed work of some 428 pages resembling more a Ph.D. dissertation rather than an MA thesis. It is a great pity that it still remains unpublished despite the fact of the wealth of material found therein. Nonetheless, together with John’s doctoral dissertation—the long-awaited editing of the letters of H.P.B.—there is no doubt that his name and reputation will be firmly established as a groundbreaking scholar of Theosophical history.
Indeed, in a letter dated just two days before his untimely death, John remarked that his doctoral dissertation was already submitted. We now await the verdict of the University of Sydney Ph.D. Committee and the results of his research.
On a more personal note, I met John only once when he visited California in 1990. It proved to be a most fortuitous visit because it was he who encouraged me to assume the editorship of Theosophical History that founder-editor Leslie Price had recently relinquished in 1989. Because of John’s support, the journal was resurrected from its brief dormancy by the latter part of 1990. Since then, John had always been unselfish with his time, advice, knowledge, contributions to Theosophical History.
As a tribute to John Cooper, a memorial volume is planned for the October 1998 (VII/4) issue. Anyone who wishes to contribute a statement about John should fax, e-mail, or post it by September 5.
In This Issue
The main focus of this issue is Michael Gomes’ essay on a minor luminary in the Theosophical Society (Adyar), Ferdinand T. Brooks (1873–1916). The essay title, “Nehru’s Theosophical Tutor,” refers to the young Theosophist who was to serve as a significant educational influence upon the life of the future Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964). This influence lasted from 1901 to 1904, a time when Col. Olcott was still President of the Theosophical Society and when Pandit Nehru was just entering adolescence. Many years later, Nehru acknowledged in his autobiography that “F.T. Brooks left a deep impress upon me and I feel that I owe a debt to him and to Theosophy.” Yet for all the promise Brooks exhibited as a representative of the Theosophical Society, his association with it began to unravel around 1912, at which time he resigned from the Esoteric Section because of his opposition to the new pledge introduced by Mrs. Besant, the Outer Head of the Section. This pledge required members of the E.S. “to obey, without cavil or delay, the orders of the Head of the Esoteric Section in all that concerns my relation with the theosophical Movement. . . .” Because of subsequent difficulties with fellow Theosophists, Brooks began a new career as antagonist of Mrs. Besant and her policies. He became what some modern scholars of new religious movements term an “apostate”—one who reverses loyalties, thereby becoming a professional enemy of the organization in which he or she once belonged. Pamphlets and two exposés soon followed suit, The Theosophical Society and Its Esoteric Bogeydom and Neo-Theosophy Exposed. What drove him from the Society was, he claimed, the ascendancy of both J. Krishnamurti and the Liberal Catholic Church, and the controversy over C.W. Leadbeater’s “sexual vices.” Because of Mr. Brooks’ antagonism to the Theosophical leadership, the promise that he exhibited in his earlier years quickly dissipated. What he might have become in ensuing years we shall never know, for he died a few short years after (August 1916). How he died Mr. Gomes does not say. In my reading of some contemporary correspondence, it was hinted that he might have committed suicide, an assertion that I have not been able to verify, however.
The author, Michael Gomes, is a frequent contributor to Theosophical History. Mr. Gomes has edited over the course of several issues the letters of H.P. Blavatsky to W.Q. Judge (TH V/2 – VI/4). He is also the editor of Theosophical History Occasional Paper, Volume I: Witness for the Prosecution: Annie Besant’s Testimony on Behalf of H.P. Blavatsky in the N.Y. Sun/Coues Law Case and W.T. Brown’s “Scenes in My Life” (vol. IV). As a prolific writer on Theosophical subjects, his two most recent publications are his abridgment of H.P. Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1997) and Theosophy in the Nineteenth Century: An Annotated Bibliography (NY: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994).
Two reviews are also included in this issue: The Only Tradition by William W. Quinn, Jr. and “No Religion Higher Than Truth”: A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia, 1875-1922 by Maria Carlson. The reviewers respectively are John T. Hatfield and Boris Falikov. John Hatfield has taught at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona from 1970 to 1995 and is currently Professor Emeritus. He received his Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School in 1965. His dissertation title, The Structure and Meaning of Religious Objects: A Study in the Methodology of the History of Religions based upon the Thought of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, is especially significant since it is referred to on more than one occasion by Mr. Quinn in his work. Dr. Hatfield also is co-author of America’s Religions (1997), reviewed in the last issue (p. 89).
Dr. Boris Falikov is an associate professor at the Russian State University of the Humanities (Moscow), where he teaches a course on the History of Religions. He received his Ph.D. in 1986 at The Institute of American and Canadian Studies, the Russian Academy of Science (Moscow).
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
Ted G. Davy
|Nehru’s Theosophical Tutor||Michael Gomes|
|The Only Tradition||John T. Hatfield|
|“No Religion Higher Than Truth”: A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia, 1875-1922||Boris Falikov|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 4
The John Cooper Memorial Volume
The shock of John Cooper’s sudden and totally unexpected passing has still not left many of us who knew John well enough to realize what a special human being he was. Having spent the last three months preparing this issue, the initial shock has been replaced by a confirmation of his character, humanity, and exemplary role as a historian of the Theosophical Movement. The statements of his friends and colleagues illustrate these qualities quite well. When assessing John’s role as a historian of the Theosophical Movement, there are some particulars that deserve attention. The most important was the fair and impartial treatment of whatever topic in Theosophical history he pursued. As a historian, he was admired by Theosophists and academics alike—in the Theosophical world acknowledged as a Theosophical historian and on the university campuses as a historian of the Theosophical Movement—not an easy feat given the suspicions that exist or have existed on both sides. As a graduate student I well remember one comment by a professor who refused to consider Theosophy as a legitimate study since its philosophy was considered to be a degradation of authentic Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. Because Theosophical philosophy was bogus, its history deserved only a footnote or passing mention in the history of India or the U.S., if that. This is one reason for the marginalization of Theosophy, receiving even less attention than one might expect of a small but influential organization. Fortunately, it is an attitude which has changed in recent years, with some of the credit given to John for this turn of events, especially in Australia where he was a valuable resource for all who undertook research in the area.
Even more important than his contributions as writer and lecturer, however, is his role as archivist. This distinguishes John from other historians. More than most scholars, he was an inveterate collector of Theosophical material: books, journals, documents, anything that he considered worthy of collecting. Not enough credit goes to this area of historical inquiry. Simply put, if historical material is lacking, how can history be reconstructed? No doubt those who write consequential books and articles should be and are rewarded for their work—and rightly so—but those who spend more of their labors not in writing but collecting and cataloging often do so without recognition or appreciation. Judging from Dr. Tillett’s observations in “John Cooper: Obituary”, a great deal of John’s time and energy was engaged in retrieving, conserving, and cataloging publications and documents that almost certainly would have been lost. Let us hope that this archive is maintained and given accessibility to all legitimate researchers as a monument to John’s labors.
Although John was more the archivist rather than the writer, he did produce some excellent studies. In my comment in the last issue, I wrote:
Certainly, within the field of Australian Theosophy he was unrivaled. His Master of Arts thesis, The Theosophical Crisis in Australia: The Story of the Breakup of the Theosophical Society in Sydney from 1913 until 1923—submitted to the University of Sydney in 1986—is a wonderfully detailed work of some 428 pages which resembles more a Ph.D. dissertation rather than an MA thesis. It is a great pity that it still remains unpublished despite the fact of the wealth of material found therein.
One article that deserves attention is “The Story of the Mahatma Letters.” Originally appearing in Theosophy in Australia, (Dec. 1985), John provides a concise and comprehensive overview of the Letters’ role in Theosophical history. It is perhaps the best introduction to the subject in print and so is worthy of reprinting in this issue.1
Also included in this issue is a paper that to my knowledge has never been published, “Blavatsky in Philadelphia.” Written for the Theosophy and Theosophic Thought Seminar held in Philadelphia during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in 1995, it recounts a lesser known but important period in H.P. Blavatsky’s life. The thesis therein is that it was during this period (November 1874 to July 1875) that she turned from an adherence to spiritualism to occultism.
John’s monument to Theosophical history was to have been the editing of the H.P. Blavatsky letters. Dara Eklund recounts in her “Tribute to John Cooper” that his wish was (in his own words) to “allow H.P.B. to speak for herself. What I would want to bring to the Letters is not comment or interpretation, but rather facts and hard data.” Plans were to publish the letters by Theosophical Publishing House in Wheaton. The project also served as his University of Sydney Ph.D. thesis. Since the first volume of the Letters has been completed, I am happy to report that the Ph.D. will be posthumously awarded to John, according to Professor Garry W. Trompf of the University of Sydney and one of the examiners of the thesis.
John Cooper lived an exemplary life as scholar and as a human being. As an historian, he did much to bestow credibility on Theosophical history and to make it possible for others to conduct research in this area. What is more important, however, are those human attributes that Dr. Tillett has observed over the many years of friendship with John Cooper: “gentleness, goodness, humility, joy, good humour, generosity of spirit, and love.”
1. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Miss Linda Harris, the editor of Theosophy in Australia for allowing me to reprint the article.
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
|Announcement of John Cooper’s Death||Mrs. Bev Champion
National President, The Theosophical Society in Australia
|John Cooper: Obituary||Gregory Tillett|
|John Cooper: Bibliography||James Santucci|
|Remembrances of John Cooper||Emmett, Carmen and Kenneth Small
|Blavatsky in Philadelphia|
|The Story of the Mahatma Letters|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 5
Once again, the format of Theosophical History will depart from its usual mix of communications, articles, and reviews. As readers are aware, the occasion for the change of format for the last issue was the untimely demise of Associate Editor John Cooper. The occasion for the current change is, however, brought about by a circumstance that is more fortuitous: the English translation of Antoine Faivre’s “Le courant théosophique (fin xvie-xxe siècles): essai de périodisation.” This article summarizes all the major writers and thinkers responsible for the theosophical phenomenon: from pre-Boehmian theosophers such as Paracelsus, Valentin Weigel, Heinrich Khunrath; to the central figure of Jacob Boehme; to important 17th century figures such as Johann Georg Gichtel, Aegidius Gutmann, Robert Fludd, Jane Leade, and Gottfried Arnold; to 18th century theosophers, among whom were Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, Jacob Brucker, Martinés de Pasqually and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin; and the important figures of the 19th and 20th centuries, including the founders of the Theosophical Society.
When one reads Professor Faivre’s article, one must take into account his significant contribution to the field. Although he has been engaged in defining the field known as esotericism or Western esotericism for well over twenty years, it is only within the last few years that his views have come to generally known in the English-speaking world. In his own words (quoted from “Esoteric Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe,” in Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion: 2), “esotericism” refers to an ensemble of spiritual currents in modern and contemporary Western history which share a certain air de famille, as well as the form of thought which is its common denominator. Each of these historical currents has a name of its own. . . . As for the underlying “form of thought,” we have elsewhere presented it as an ensemble of six constitutive elements. Four of these are intrinsic to “esotericism”: the doctrine of universal correspondences, living nature, imagination/mediations/ and transmutation. The other two are extrinsic (i.e., they may be absent in certain cases): concordance of traditions, and transmission of knowledge.
Among the currents that comprise western esotericism1, three are identified by Professor Faivre as “currents of thought, the manifestations of which have become the referential corpus of western esotericism”: Hermetism (Alexandrian, Medieval neo-Alexandrian, and Modern neo-Alexandrian), Christian Kabbalah, and Paracelsism (“Esoteric Currents in Modern and Contemporary Europe”: 4). Two additional currents that arose in the early 17th century were Rosicrucianism and Theosophy. Since both these currents arose by virtue of the influence of the first three currents, Professor Faivre remarks that “the Theosophical Society founded by H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) is not a successor of this current but represents a different orientation, although again an esoteric one” (Ibid.: 5). Early in the article appearing in this issue, repeats this view:
Two major forms [of theosophy] appear to stand out: on the one hand, there is a single esoteric current among others which does not correspond to an official Society; on the other , there is an official Society which has given to itself the title “theosophical” and simultaneously a programmed orientation. The first major form is an initially amorphous galaxy which began to acquire shape in the spiritual climate of late 16th century Germany. . . . The second major form is represented by the Theosophical Society itself. . . which has pursued relatively precise directions and goals ever since its inception. . . to the point where it is sometimes, rightly or wrongly, regarded as a new religious movement, if not a new religion.
Although I end the quotation here, I would urge the reader to pay very close attention to what follows. His acknowledgment of the observation of Jean-Louis Siémons defending the connection of the two theosophies (the current and the Blavatskyian) and the use of the analogy of “common rooms” in a mansion that may be shared by the two theosophical “families” does not make the T.S. and Theosophical current mutually exclusive. Further remarks on these two forms come at the end of the article as well.
In light of the above observations, “The Theosophical Current: A Periodization” should be read in accordance with Professor Faivre’s analysis of Western esotericism as a general concept encompassing a number of currents and “notions” from the early modern period up to the present day, that “theosophy” refers to one of these currents, and that the “theosophical current” is not identical with the teaching of the Theosophical Society.
|The Theosophical Current: A Periodization||Antoine Faivre|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 6
The current issue contains articles that follow up from a Theosophical History Occasional Paper and from the last issue of Theosophical History. The first article, “Cyril Scott and Rose Allatini (Eunice Buckley): A Remembrance,” by Desmond Scott is in part a complement to Jean Overton Fuller’s Cyril Scott and A Hidden School: Towards the Peeling of an Onion (Occasional Paper VII) published in the latter part of 1998. Mr. Scott, the son of Cyril Scott and Rose Allatini, provides informative and personal insights and observations in the activities and personalities of his parents, a welcome addition to the relatively sparse information we have of these two very talented individuals. The author of the article, Mr. Desmond Scott, follows in the creative footsteps of his parents. He is an actor, director and sculptor born in England (1926), educated at Cambridge University and The London Old Vic Theatre School, and emigrated to Canada in 1957. He was Director of the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg for a number of years and is a Past President of the Sculptor’s Society of Canada. He has acted and directed for theatre, radio and television in Canada and the U.S. and has performed in over 200 radio programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Nine of his bronze sculptures inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot were on loan for several years to the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Stratford, Ontario and have now been donated to the Irish Theatre in Buffalo, New York.
The second article, “Some Remarks on the Study of Western Esotericism,” is an excellent overview of the methodology that scholars apply, or should apply, to the various currents and notions that comprise esotericism: theosophy (as distinguished to a certain degree from the Theosophy of the Theosophical Society) referring to one of these currents. It therefore helps to explain Antoine Faivre’s excellent article on theosophy that appeared in the last issue. I might add here that Dr. Hanegraaff’s article appearing in this issue, read in tandem with his earlier article, “Empirical method in the study of esotericism” (Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, vol. 7/2 (1995): 99-129) would give the most complete explanation of the academic approach to this area of study. Both articles should be read by all who wish to undertake research in any of the currents of esotericism.
The author, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, is Research Associate at the Department for the Study of Religions of Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1998), and editor of three books, the most recent of which is co-edited with Antoine Faivre, Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion (Leeven, Belgium: Peeters, 1998).
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
|The Kalmyk Connection
The Spy Letter
|Communications||Wilhelmina M. Schmit
Don Franklin Shepherd
|Cyril Scott and Rose Allatini (Eunice Buckley):
|Some Remarks on the Study of Western Esotericism||Wouter J. Hanegraaf|
|The Sceptical Occultist||Robert Boyd|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 7
This issue marks the passing of the biographer of J. Krishnamurti, Mary Links (née Lutyens), whose death was noted in some detail in the April 13 editions of The Times and The Independent. Born to a notable family that included her great-grandfather Bulwer-Lytton (Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, First Baron of Lytton [1803-1873]), her grandfather Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton (the First Earl of Lytton [1831-1891], a poet and Viceroy of India from 1876 to 1880), his son and Mary’s father, Sir Edwin Lutyen, the architect involved in the planning of New Delhi and for designing the Viceroy’s House (1869-1944), her mother, Lady Emily Lutyens (1874-1964), the author of Candles in the Sun, and her sister, the composer Elizabeth Lutyens. Although she is best known among Theosophists and those familiar with Jiddu Krishnamurti and his teachings for her numerous books on the philosopher, she was also a novelist in her earlier years, autobiographer, and biographer of her grandfather and father. According to The Independent, Mary Links also wrote under the pseudonym Esther Wyndham.
To honor this gifted and gentle woman, two contributions are included in this issue: one from my colleagues at California State University, Martha and Albert Vogeler, who for many years kept up an ongoing friendship with Mary and her husband Joe Links, and by Jean Overton Fuller, who came to know Mary through their respective biographies of Krishnamurti and Blavatsky. Their portraits introduce Mary more as she appeared in her private rather than public persona. The Vogelers also provide an opportunity to celebrate the life and accomplishments of her husband Joe, whose death, sad to say, was ignored by the American press.
The sole article that appears in this issue is John Hamill’s “Additional Light on William Stainton Moses and The Theosophical Society,” which is based on the existence of eighteen letters written by Moses (1839-1892) to Major F.G. Irwin (1828-1893). From these letters comes information on the reasons why Moses became disillusioned with the T.S. and Olcott. For background material, the article should be read in conjunction with Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves I, 59-61, 300-303, 310-329 and The Mahatma Letters (numbers 9, 27, and 45). The author, Mr. Hamill, is Librarian and Curator of the Library and Museum of the United Grand Lodge of England (London).
Four book reviews are included, including one Internet book, Ananda Guruge’s Free at Last in Paradise. Internet publishing is a fairly recent development in the publishing world. Much like Internet newspapers and journals, Internet books will most likely become much more popular in the future because of the economics involved. The author of this review, Dr. Leslie Grey, is a psychiatrist from Denver, Colorado. He has served as Medical Attaché to U.S. Embassies in New Delhi and Kabul. He is the author of A Concordance of Buddhist Birth Stories (London: Pali Text Society, 1990, 1994, and Supplement, 1998). The other reviewers are well known to readers of Theosophical History. Dr. Godwin is a frequent contributor to Theosophical History and the co-author of Johann Friedrich Hugo von Dalberg (1760-1812): Schriftsteller, Musiker, Domherr (1998) and The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. He is also the author of The Theosophical Enlightenment (1994), and The Beginnings of Theosophy in France (1989) among many other works. Jean-Louis Siémons is the author of Ammonius Saccas and His Eclectic Philosophy as Presented by Alexander Wilder (Theosophical History Occasional Paper, Vol. 3), Theosophia in Neo-Platonic and Christian literature (2nd to 6th century A.D. (Theosophical History Center), and Mourir pour renaître : l’alchimie de la mort et les promesses de l’après-vie (1987).
Three contributions by Leslie Price also appear in this issue. The first is an interesting note on Olga Novikov (alternate spelling: Novikoff) and her relationship with the journalist W.T. Stead and H.P.B. Mention too of some Novikov papers suggest another avenue of research for enterprising scholars.
Mr. Price’s second contribution is a review of the book, Light for the New Millennium: Rudolf Steiner’s Association with Helmuth and Eliza van Moltke, edited by T.H. Meyer. This book is of considerable interest because of the relationship of Theosophy with war and the mention of two very important characters in the story: Dr. Steiner and German chief of staff during World War I, Helmuth von Moltke.
The third contribution confirms Mad. Blavatsky’s claim that pagans were persecuted in the latter days of the Roman Empire. As Mr. Price makes clear, it is supported by a recent book by Ramsay MacMullen.
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
|Another Russian Agent?
Light for the New Millennium
|Additional Light on William Stainton Moses and The Theosophical Society||John Hamill|
|Cyril Scott and A Hidden School||Joscelyn Godwin|
|Hypatia of Alexandria||Jean-Louis Siémons|
|The Secret Doctrine Index||James Santucci|
|Free at Last in Paradise||Leslie Grey|
Theosophical History: Vol. VII, No. 8
The Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) has been the subject of a number of articles in past issues by the Swiss researcher, Robert-Peter König. In this issue, PierLuigi Zoccatelli adds an insightful and detailed examination of the organization in Italy. Explained by the author as “an important crossroads in the Occult world in the period straddling the 19th and 20th centuries,” the O.T.O. deserves a careful examination from a dispassionate perspective, and Mr. Zoccatelli’s study is indeed one of the few articles that has been thoroughly researched from this standpoint. It is encyclopedic in content and should be considered to be an indispensable source of information for any person interested in this area of research.
Regarding Mr. Zoccatelli’s background and credentials, he was born in Verona and is a member of CESNUR (the Center for Studies on New Religions) and of the SIPR (the Italian Society of Psychology of Religion). He is the author of a number of essays and articles on esotericism and new religions. Mr. Zoccatelli is also the editor of the collected writings of Louis Charbonneau-Lassay (to which, see his website at http://www.paraclet.org), and has edited or translated a dozen books on anthropology, symbolism, ancient Christianity and literature. Currently, he is the assistant editor of the important collection Religioni e Movimenti, which currently has seventeen titles published with an additional thirty projected to be published by 2003.
In addition to this article, there is an interesting communication by Leslie Price on the veracity of the Eddy mediumship, the Spiritualist brothers who were investigated by Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky. Mr. Price raises two questions about the implications of their mediumship and phenomena: what if the phenomena were not produced by the dead, and what if the Eddys were charlatans? This was Emmette Coleman’s suspicion, who may have had as his true target not the Eddys but the two who investigated the Eddys; Olcott and Blavatsky.
Obituaries are usually written within a few days of the demise of the individual in question, so one may wonder why an obituary for a person who died in 1994? Walter Carrithers’ passing was indeed recorded in the July 1995 (V/7) issue of Theosophical History (p. 218), but it was hoped that an account of his life would supplement the notice therein. When Leslie Price informed me that he had written an introduction to the forthcoming online web edition of Carrithers’ 1963 book, Obituary: the “Hodgson Report” on Madame Blavatsky (which is due out on Oct. 26, 1999 at http://www.azstarnet.com/~blafoun/obituary.htm), I immediately requested that it be reprinted in Theosophical History because of the two purposes that it serves: to remind Theosophists of the contributions of Mr. Carrithers to their cause, and to inform readers of his involvement with Theosophical History. Mr. Price possesses the unique perspective of observing first hand the impact of Carrithers’ contribution to correcting the false impressions created by the Hodgson report to the Society of Psychical Research. However Mr. Carrithers is regarded as an individual or researcher, there is no doubt that he made a significant contribution to restoring Madame Blavatsky’s reputation.
In addition to the obituary notice, Daniel Caldwell has provided a select bibliography of Mr. Carrithers’ writings.
Among the other entries in this issue, the “Book Reviews and “Literary Notes” section reveal an increased research activity on Theosophical subjects. Of special note are the publication of two significant books: Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo Nazism by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke and The Astral Tramp: A Biography of the Astrologer Sepharial by Kim Farnell.
|Editor’s Comments||James Santucci|
|The Eddy Family: An Unorthodox View
Walter Carrithers: Obituary
|Walter Carrithers: Bibliography||Daniel Caldwell|
|Notes on the Ordo Templi Orientis in Italy||PierLuigi Zoccatelli|
|Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, The Hindu-Aryan Myth, And Neo-Nazism||Robert Boyd|
|“Okkultismus und Phantastik.Eine Studie zu ihrem Verhältnisam Beispiel der Helena Petrovna Blavatsky”||Helmut Zander|
| The Works and Influence of H.P. Blavatsky
“Back to Blavatsky”