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Monday, 30 November 2020

Blavatsky Letter to J. Ralston Skinner 3 - April 5, 1889

Constance Wachtmeister

The entire Blavatsky correspondence with J. Ralston Skinner is now available online at the Harvard archives:

https://hollisarchives.lib.harvard.edu/repositories/12/archival_objects/205876

The Blavatsky-W.Q. Judge correspondence is also on-line: https://hollisarchives.lib.harvard.edu/repositories/12/resources/762

The letter transcribed below is date April 5, 1889 from Ostende (Belgium). The events described have been documented, see Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and "The Secret Doctrine"by the Countess Constance Wachtmeister and others (London : Theosophical Publishing Society ; New York : The Path, 1893),  Chapter 10, pp. 72-78 

https://blavatskyarchives.com/wachtmeister/wachtmeisterremcont.htm

The doctor referred to is William Ashton Ellis (b London, Aug 20, 1852; d London, Jan 2, 1919). English writer and translator. His father was a surgeon and following medical studies at St George's Hospital, London, Ellis held the post of Resident Medical Officer at the Western Dispensary from 1878. In the mid-1870s, however, he became (in his own words) ‘a devotee of Wagner's works’ and resigned his post in 1887, devoting himself over the following 28 years to the single-minded pursuit of Wagner studies. 

https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000046445

My dear Mr. Skinner – I had never to (pay) prepay one cent – why should you send me this dollar then? – In a week or so, fate will have decided whether I will answer your very, very valuable letter + our correspondence increase + multiply or – whether the present are the last lines you will have from me, in this life. (Five days ago/ today is the 17th – I am in bed) two physicians proclaimed it impossible I should live over 48 hours-I was found to make my will, i.e. leave my old body to my friend Countess Wachtmeister in case of my death otherwise the city authorities would not have permitted them to take it way to London for cremation – Once more I cheated death it seems, but it can come back every hour. It was entire cessation of the function in the kidneys for several days – coma approaching – sleep of dying but Css Wachtmeister in her despair telegraphed to London Lodge to ask for help + a good English physician (one of our Theosophists who had never seen or met me) came here that same night + saved my life in a week’s time- There’s devotion!! He was director of Westminster dispensary & now lost the situation – why they should so cling to poor, old, useless me – is very strange to me but they all do! Show this to dear Br. Buck – say immediate danger is over but kidneys function still very bad. I am so weak – whatever happens you will receive my photograph – the shrine + ring. May the powers that protected you hitherto, bless & protect you still – if I die, do not think or believe evil of me when people abuse me. For me – death is deliverance, but I wish I could finish Secret Doctrine. My love to brother Buck + thanks to both of you. Yours ever H. P. Blavatsky

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Blavatsky Letter to J. Ralston Skinner 2 - 35 pages


In Theosophical History Volume XVII, Issues 1-2 January-April 2016 (Double Issue)
(https://theohistory.org/issue-archive/volume-xviii/) is published a transcription of a 35-page letter of Blavatsky to Ralston Skinner. It is an exceptionally lengthy letter, previously unpublished, and so it deservedly gets a royal treatment. Not only is the letter transcribed in full, but 12 pages of color photographic reproductions are also included.

Much commentary and background research has been provided to give a solid understanding of the letter: Contextualizing the Blavatsky-Skinner Letter: 17 February 1887 by Jeffrey Lavoie; J. Ralston Skinner (1830–1893) by Jerry Hejka-Ekins;  Editor’s Comments and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky: Activities from 1878–1887 by James A. Santucci (see https://theosophy.wiki/en/James_Ralston_Skinner )

Mr. Lavoie did the transcription, and Mr. Hejkra-Ekins, besides providing the helpful biography of Skinner, provides well-researched notes that elucidate the contents of the letter throughout.

At first I was a little disappointed because the letter seemed to be merely summaries of topics from Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine without going into the very remarkable discussions on passages from Skinner’s Magnus Opus, The Source of Measures found in the Secret Doctrine. However, on a closer reading one can find many intriguing candid passages, often of a personal mystical nature, that give a unique glimpse of what her correspondence has to offer and why it is an important aspect of her collected writings.

Possibly the most revelatory aspect of the letter can be found on pp. 14-15, where she gives some additional variations of the cosmic/human evolution symbols found in the Proem of the Secret Doctrine (and in other sections). Ultimately, this letter can be said to contain all of the elements of eloquence, erudition, candour, exoticism, mystery and humour that makes Blavatsky such a fascinating historical figure. Therefore, one can consider this publication to be of great interest to Blavatsky students and scholars. Below is a brief attempts at a summary of the letter’s contents, with some extracts (the letter is in response to the question of which language is oldest, Sanskrit or Hebrew):

Pages 1-6 deal with the esoteric aspects of procreation and gestation and a summary of the five racial groups from the Secret Doctrine.

And of those  seven keys of Esoteric philosophy & the universal mystery language you have discovered one- say two-but you seem to scorn entirely its first key-the one which opens the earliest, metaphysical & abstract portion of the philosophy, the paradigms of all things, the divine & spiritual models of its physiological & astronomical aspects. (pp. 1-2)

For I have studied Occultism & Esotericism practically & for practical use, not theoretically; e.g. when I see a certain symbol of the mineral kingdom- say-I know at a glance its relation to the vegetal, animal & human (or psychic) realm.

And I know also to what objects in the physical world & Forces in the noumenal world the 49 weeks of gestation of the primitive men (or child) in ‘’the lunar egg’’- corresponds to. (p. 3)

Pages 7-13 deal with a scholarly discussion of the age of the Hebrew language and the Old Testament, of which Blavatsky has written extensively.

And as you have shown, it is also in the New T. and this proves that the Initiates who wrote the Synoptics & St. John-were of the same school of Initiates as the Essenes, the Egyptians, & the Greeks; especially, as St Paul was.(12)

Pages 14-15 discuss the symbols of evolution from the Proem of the Secret Doctrine, with some variations.

The Jews have never & at no time been monotheists-not as the word is understood in the West, though they may have been as some Hindu sects are now who choose a favourite god among the Devas & make the rest subservient to that creature. The early Jews were Pantheists as we are & the later-humbugs. (14)

Pages 16-20 Discuss the Theban trinity of Amon, Mout, Khonsou, the Egyptian sarcophagus and its relation to sacred cow in India (Holy of the Holies), and a discussion of the words Abraham and Brahma.

This is why, perhaps, Adam (the phallus, too) is said in Maimonides (More Novachim) to have been regarded as the ‘’prophet of the moon’’ by some Semitic nations. By the way the world has never known much, I believe, of Maimonides. (16)

Pages 21- 23 discuss comparisons of the bible with the Vedas, with elements of numerology and symbolism and the zodiac

And now I can tell you, that if you could only get at the Hindu Zodiac, its twelve signs, did you but know Sanskrit-they would reveal to you the whole evolution of Kosmos,-for they do represent this mystery, surely. Only one has to be initiated in the secret reading of the Mantras & their rhythmical melody, and of the Tantra Shastras (works on incantations & magic). (23)

Pages 24-28 discuss the esoteric explanation of Mantras and seven levels of symbolism, cycles and the number 432.

Then, there are 7 synonyms for every word in the ancient books, with other meanings besides the one used exoterically.

Then you have to find out the numerical value of all the letters of a certain word & the same value of each syllable in that word-which value is different.

Then you must permute these different syllables & examine the new combinations. And if, the values of the syllables & the letters correspond-then you have the right meaning. (25)

Pages 29-35 Various esoteric and Masonic discussion, included is a sketch of a Sanskrit talisman to be sent to Skinner

And I guess that if even poor I gave you the strong grip of the Lion’s paw of the tribe of Juda, you would see & find that even I may know something more than your Pikes & Princes of Wales-bless their dear innocent Souls. (32)

This is just why  we worship no more brahmâ (single male) than his seven, nine, ten & 21 Prajapâtis, Rishis,  Dhyan Chohans-call them what you like-his plural aspects in short. But they exist nevertheless. We honour these aspects, but would no more think of praying to them, or ministering or propitiating them, than the ‘’faces of Moses’’ on the moon. We recognize them, that’s all, occasionally-we feel them. They can help us; but only when Karma permits them to; since they are as much under the inalterable & immutable Law of Karma, as we are ourselves. They-all of them-have been, are, or will be men.(32-33)

Ah dear dear sir; no woman in her right senses, not a man either, would go willingly into such hell as I have, & persisted in having Spiritualists, Christians, Materialists, Scientists, & the whole world with  two thirds of our own Theosophists to boot against me, if I had not been forced by my oath & vows to do so. I have lost friends, country, money & health to serve only as manure for the field of future Theosophy. (35)

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Blavatsky, Alan Leo and Astrology

The Theosophical and Astrological Legacy of Alan Leo Lee-Ann Curtis – May 24, 2018 …Blavatsky’s astrologer, also known as Sepharial. It was Sepharial who introduced members of the group to the Theosophical Society in 1889. It was at the Theosophical Society that Leo found his true calling; to use the basic traditional astrological techniques to describe and predict the inner nature of the individual. https://ivcconference.com/the-theosophical-astrology-and-legacy-of-alan-leo/

Astrology isn’t fake—it’s just been ruined by modern psychology January 3, 2018 Ida C. Benedetto A critique of theosophical innovations in astrology. https://qz.com/1170481/horoscopes-2018-astrology-isnt-fake-its-just-been-ruined-by-modern-psychology/

Ancient astrology won’t make your horoscope more accurate Ancient is not necessarily better Angela Chen Jan 5, 2018 A response to the Benedetto article https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/5/16854596/astrology-pseudoscience-data-appeal-ancient-wisdom

Robert Hand on Reconciling Modern and Traditional Astrology
With Chris Brennan and Robert Hand November 10th, 2018
Madame Blavatsky simply repackaged Neoplatonism in a somewhat polarized form with lots of Sanskrit terminology but  her worldview is basically Neoplatonic and most spiritual astrology is descended directly or indirectly from her. I personally prefer to go back to the source and when you do, you find the statement  I have commonly made that if you really carefully study Plotinus’ attitude to astrology, you discovered that was virtually identical to Rudhyar’s. https://theastrologypodcast.com/transcripts/ep-12-reconciling-modern-and-traditional-astrology/


A

Reincarnation Gerry Cannon, September 6, 2019 Inspired by Helena Blavatsky‘s major works, astrologers in the early 20th-century integrated the concepts of karma and reincarnation into the practice of Western astrology. Notable astrologers who advanced this development. This dynamic integration of astrology, reincarnation and depth psychology has continued into the modern era. Astrology is based on “an acceptance of the fact that human beings incarnate in a succession of lifetimes.”
https://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/reincarnation

Alan Leo and Early Modern Astrology, with Kim Farnell  Jun 21, 2019 An interview with Kim Farnell about her new book titled Modern Astrologers: The Lives of Alan and Bessie Leo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k86Unv1HumY


Thursday, 25 June 2020

Blavatsky, American Feminist & Civil Rights Movements


You Say You Want a Revolution—in Consciousness?

Martin Luther King tapped into a mystical East-West lineage, one that can guide us in divisive times

Christopher Naughton Jan. 1, 2020

Gandhi, Blavatsky and King shared a common root: Transcendentalism. Gandhi admitted that “Thoreau’s ideas greatly influenced [his] movement in India.”[7] In April 1959, Reverend King made a long-awaited pilgrimage to that country where he hoped to learn more about Mahatma Gandhi’s use of non-violence in his own civil rights battle against the British Empire. After leaving India, King’s interest in this kind of revolution became an irrepressible passion. His clear decision to employ “non-violent resistance to oppression” would not only keep him emotionally nurtured during the personal struggles that followed, but also lay a crystal clear guideline for the hundreds of thousands of informal followers he would attract.

Marianne Williamson and the religion of "spirituality"
Williamson unapologetically infuses her interest in spirituality into her political campaigning
October 10, 2019
In "Spiritual but not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America," religious historian Robert Fuller sheds light on the various metaphysical movements that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries in America.
These include Swedenborgism, Transcendentalism, Spiritualism, Mesmerism, Theosophy and New Thought, each of which — despite being relatively unknown to most people — have significantly shaped the “spiritual but not religious” trend.
These movements were certainly theologically different, but nevertheless, like Williamson and her followers, they postulated the existence of unseen forces and championed the importance of both mystical experiences and individual freedom. If channelled appropriately, those forces could purportedly lead to self-empowerment.
Schmidt observes that many of the leaders and spokespeople of these movements were ahead of their time, both socially and politically.
For instance, Margaret Fuller, an early Transcendentalist and confessed mystic, was also a staunch advocate for women’s rights in the early 19th century. So was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a women’s suffrage activist who sought to claim the privilege of autonomy for the female sex in The Woman’s Bible , published in 1895.

Suffragettes, Gnostics, and the Divine Feminine
October 5, 2018 by
Theosophical works had a special appeal to feminist thinkers, who found validation for ideas about women’s suppressed role in early Christianity. Many of the leading occult thinkers in this vein were women, including Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Anna Kingsford. Feminist Bible criticism dates from the 1890s, with the appearance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Woman’s Bible (1895). While it did not seek to revise the scriptural text, the Woman’s Bible offered a thorough-going feminist commentary that pointed out the inconsistencies in Scripture, and stressed the egalitarian nature of Jesus’ teachings.
Other Victorian women, however, took more extreme positions than Stanton, feeling that Christianity was too closely related to patriarchy to be worth saving in anything like its present form. This was the message of Matilda Joslyn Gage’s Woman, Church and State (1893), which argued that ancient society was obviously matriarchal in nature. Gage was also an early adherent of the Theosophical Society, an association that she described as the “crown blessing” of her life. One of her recruits into the movement was her son-in-law L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, among many other titles.

Matilda Joslyn Gage
What a Forgotten 19th Century Suffragist Can Teach Us About Women’s Rights vs. The Religious Right
By S. Brent Rodriguez Plate March 8, 2017
If America is currently being “taken back” and made “great again” we seem to be landing somewhere in the late 19th century. It’s easy to say that great strides have been made toward racial and gender equality in the last 150 years, yet one can’t help being struck by the parallel discourse surrounding human rights between then and now. Nowhere is this more evident than in the battles between women’s rights and the religious right. And nowhere is it more clear than in reviewing the works of Matilda Joslyn Gage.

It’s not the bible per se that is the problem, but the interpretation of it, and she appealed to the Protestant principle of individual scripture interpretation: the priesthood of all believers extends to women, who should “be guided by her own reason.” She plays Protestantism against itself to find new approaches to the ancient myths. At the same time the new religious movements of Spiritualism and Theosophy, both founded by women, gave her new channels to understand a revived sense of the sacred.
for a good general bibiliography of the American 19th century Feminism-Theosophy connection see:
http://wlh-wiki.law.stanford.edu/index.php/The_Woman%27s_National_Liberal_Union_Convention

Some prominent names in the American Feminism/theosophy connection: Josephine Cables, Emily Coues, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Susan B. Anthony, Elia B. Peattie

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Blavatsky & Enchanted Modernities

Oskar-Fischinger Blue-Cristal 1951

Around the time Blavatsky News was re-launched, an important international academic research project was happening, Enchanted Modernities, an ambitious, ground-breaking historical exploration of the influence of the theosophical movement on the arts, with major art exhibitions, conferences and musical events. For various reasons, we did not give it much coverage, despite the fact that I even attended an event in Montreal, which was well-received. As I do think that this was a remarkable undertaking in many ways, that is bound to have a positive impact on the theosophical movement for some time, I now rectify my oversight by filing a long overdue report. Enchanted Modernities is presumably a take on William James’ account of the disenchantment of the world that modernity has occasioned, Enchanted Modernities being therefore a corrective aiming at showing how esoteric currents continued to bring forms of enchantment durign the rapid modernization of the 20th century, perhaps opening the door for post-modern trends.
[L-R] Christopher M. Scheer, James Mansell and Sarah V. Turner.
 
The origin of Enchanted Modernities
In 2014, the ground-breaking exhibition Enchanted Modernities charted the way Blavatsky’s Theosophy impacted the art of the American mid-West, influencing such artists as Agnes Pelton, Gordon Onslow Ford and Beatrice Wood. In this interview the editors Sarah V. Turner, Christopher M. Scheer & James G. Mansell  discuss the origins of the project – now a major book – with FULGUR’s Ellen Hausner.
And we kind of decided after talking as a group that we should have a one day symposium at Liverpool Hope, which is really I think what we could say was the beginning of this project: organising it together, inviting people from around the world who were also looking at the influence of Theosophy in the arts to present on that day. And one of the outcomes of that day after discussion with participants was the need to see if we could create a network with the work we were doing and the connections we were making—and so we applied for a Leverhulme networking grant. We were lucky enough to be successful in getting a networking grant from the Leverhulme, and that brought a number of universities and scholars who were working in the area of Theosophy and the arts together to pursue a proposed three-year slate of activities around the world.

Enchanted Modernities Theosophy, Modernism and the arts, c. 1865-1960
The project is delivering a range of internationally-significant outcomes including:
https://hoaportal.york.ac.uk/hoaportal/enchanted-modernities-index-project.jsp
 
Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye
The Story of Count Prozor
Marty Bax – the Netherlands
On January 1, 1915, the Theosophical Society registered its 57,762-nd. member at the headquarters in Adyar, India. The popularity of the Society had increased immensely. More people joined the society in the 1910s than in the 30-year period 1875-1905.
A list of those members includes a colorful bunch of people: Karl Wolfskehl, Piet Mondrian, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Christian Morgenstern, Fritz von Herzmanovsky, Ada Fuller, Emily Lutyens, Ely Star, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Marie Langen-von Strachwitz, Countess Maria Radziwill, Henri Soubeyran de Saint-Prix, and Prince Mohamed Riza Khan. Behind every name is a story, sometimes with a surprising twist.

Theosophy and the Arts: Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment
Friday, October 9, 2015 - Saturday, October 10, 2015
This is the second conference of the international research network Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts, c.1875-1960 funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The Network’s first conference, ‘Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the Arts in the Modern World’ held at the University of Amsterdam in 2013, mapped Theosophy’s varied influence on painting, sculpture, applied and decorative arts, music, architecture and other art forms in the period c.1875-1960. It focused on the translation of Theosophical ideas, especially those of key figures in the Theosophical Society in this period, such as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant, into material, visual, and audible form.

Enchanted Modernities Facebook page

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Blavatsky Book Review: Troubled Emissaries - Brett Forray

After Ernest Pelletier’s ambitious 2003 book The Judge Case, we have another ambitious account of this cause célèbre: Troubled Emissaries: How H.P. Blavatsky’s Successors Transformed the Theosophical Society from 1891 to 1895. Brett Forray.  Alexandria West, 2016. This hefty 554-page hardcover volume is very dense and academic packing in a lot of information with over a hundred pages of endnotes, but is nonetheless quite focused, mainly covering a short five-year period that saw simmering tensions erupt into a full-blown crisis that seriously changed the dynamics of the theosophical movement at the turn of the 19th century.
Chapter 1 Early Dynamics within the Theosophical Society (pp. 3-20) –  is an introductory section examining  mainly the question of the Mahatma letters and the controversies that they have generated up to the present time in various organisations.
Chapter 2- The successors (21-60) gives brief bios of Judge and Besant and covers the period following  the death of Theosopohical Society co-founder and spiritual guide, Helena Blavatsky in 1891, until 1893, focusing on Judge, co-founder and International president Henry Steel Olcott and famous social activist and recent member Annie Besant’s evolving relationships with each other. It deals with and the re-organisation of the Esoteric Section, co-headed by Judge and Besant and includes a misunderstood incident involving a rumor that Olcott was attempting to administer poison.
Chapter 3 – The Master’s Seal (61-90) More events from 1891-93 centered around a mysterious seal mark for documents and an incident where Olcott resigned his presidency but later changed his mind due to a Mahatmic directive.
Chapter 4 – New Friends and Old Ennemies (91-166) This could be considered the central chapter, as it deftly tackles the fundamental events in the allegations against Judge. We are introduced to notorious figures such as Walter Old, Henry Edge, Gyanendra Chakravarti, Judge Khandavala. The TS participation at the World Parliament for Religions is covered, ending with the resolution of the first inquiry where Olcott importantly acknowledged that the inquiry would involve accepting the existence of the Mahatmas and thus implying that belief in the Mahatmas is an official society position, which would be incompatible with the policy of freedom of belief and anti-dogmatism. There is an interesting account of Besant’s relation with the London Lodge lead by A. P. Sinnett in 1994 that indicates the beginnings of ‘’Neo-Theosophy’’ a so-called style of Theosophy that Besant would champion, in collaboration with C.W. Leadbeater (p. 143).
Chapter 5 – The Clash of Certainty (167-242) Taking us through the 1993-95 period, it covers Walter Old’s epic betrayal in giving documents to F. Edmund Garrett, who published an exposé in the Westminster Gazette entitled ‘’Isis Very Much Unveiled’’, later issued as a pamphlet that went through several printings. Judge’s controversial ‘’By Master’s Directive’’ esoteric section document is also discussed.
Chapter 6 – The End of All of Our Troubles (243-286) Focusing on the year 1895. The Garrett and Judge pieces hit the Theosophical movement like bombshells, resulting in a dizzying proliferation of pamphlets commenting on the situation. Part of the outcome of this affair was the intensification of underlying issues, tensions and problems that had been simmering in the background and so a full blown crisis of the general role and position of the Theosophical society and an international level was taking place, with a lot of interesting debates, which are covered in this chapter including the East versus West debate sparked by the notorious Prayag letter. The actual separation of the American section, where they voted to declare autonomous governance free from international control and the subsequent cancelling of their charter by Olcott is covered and the untimely passage of Judge shortly thereafter, in the spring of 1896.
Chapter 7 -  Forming a Universal Brotherhood (343-354) Covers the aftermath of Judge’s passing with election of Katherine Tingley to the head of the American section followed by her international ‘’Crusade’’ and the founding of the Point Loma community.
Chapter 8- The Future of Annie Besant and William Q Judge (343-354) This short epilogue raises many interesting questions, and nicely summarizes the debates and accounts that occurred regarding the Judge case over the years.
Appendices: There are three interesting short pieces: 1-The Early History of the TS; 2-How the Mahatma Letters were Written; 3- General Report of the 1888 convention of the TS (a document that contained important administrative amendments). A detailed index is included and the book is of excellent printing quality.
The quality of academic research is impressive in its detail and accuracy, with in-depth use of Theosophical literature and academic studies. Not only are blow-by-blow events from the 1891-1895 period covered, but all of the underlying issues are discussed as well, such as the relationship between Eastern and Western cultures, especially India, the importance of Blavatsky in the society, the legitimacy of Judge as an occultist, the role of Mahatmas, the role of temporal versus esoteric governance, the role of the international leadership at Adyar, and the emergence of a neo-theosophy tendency.
Many interesting obscure recollections, anecdotes, opinions, speculations, critiques and observations are included. Of merit as well is the critical, skeptical stance taken aiming at a neutral and objective analysis. Different sides of accounts are discussed and evaluated. Assertions and statements by the parties of the time are questioned, contradictory testimonies noted, making this a thorough and balanced account of much of the early TS history. What can we conclude from all of this? Is the Judge case finally resolved? On the contrary, this study brings little new to the story (and does not claim to attempt to do so) but rather proposes a tight summary of the history of the case and then points out the need for new perspectives and deeper investigation, including a further examination of unpublished internal documents.
In terms of critiques, because the affair was closely linked to ongoing tensions and complex issues related the Theosophical Societies international governance and the role of the Mahatmas since Blavatsky's passing, it is actually difficult to get a clear view of what the case is about. Judge formal published replies, to my knowledge, remain the documents that give the clearest explanation of the events and so can be considered fundamental; however,  these specific documents seem to have comparatively little coverage (see http://www.phx-ult-lodge.org/two_replies.htm). Moreover, regardless of Judge’s guilt or innocence, it seems plain that, like Blavatsky on several occasions, he was the victim of certain illicit machinations, mainly forged letters, and it seems that a detailed investigation of this question has never really been undertaken. Sadly, it seems that few original documents in relation to alledged forgeries of Mahatma letters seem to have survived, or in the case of the Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in the British Museum, are deemed too fragile to undergo close technical examination.
With the coverage of Katherine Tingley, although treated with a solid level of accuracy and scholarship, there seems to be a greater level of charity and appreciation towards her role in the case. For example, the existing accounts of the role of Tingley in last year of Judge’s life and the Mahatma/Blavatsky letters associated with her can be said to range  from minimal to maximal, Forray opts to posit a maximal influence, and  in that sense this study can perhaps be considered a Point Loma-friendly account. Nonetheless, the works remains a strong example of quality academic scholarship, which is heartening, since a certain portion of academic Theosophical historical studies can be marred by serious inaccuracies and inconsistencies, although the situation is improving.
Still, as this study amply demonstrates, the issues are not just about Judge and real or bogus Mahatma letters, they involve fundamental issues that are still relevant to the TS, hence this work can be useful in healing the wounds and resolving the issues, thus helping the TS to face the future challenges that lie ahead with better insight and freedom. In certain way, with the Pelletier study (The Judge Case) we have a ULT  perspective, with the Forray study we have a Point Loma / Pasadena perspective, and the Adyar perspective still exists as originally spelled out by Besant and Olcott (although Judge has been given more credit from Adyar in recent times). Therefore we have the three main accounts of the affair clearly on the table, making it easier to review the case in a fresh light, and bring in new perspectives in order to seek resolution and reconciliation.

New Book on the History of Theosophical Society post-Blavatsky

September 19, 2016 Frater Lux Ad Mundi 
 http://zeroequalstwo.net/8785-2/
Troubled Emissaries
July 26, 2017 Paul Johnson

http://www.alexandriawest.org/


Monday, 27 January 2020

Blavatsky and America

The Lost City of Lemuria, and Other  Reasons I Hate Reading Pynchon  
Nina St-Pierre – March 14 2019
Lemuria was pure hypothesis, a 19th-century paleontologist’s explanation for how lemurs crossed from Madagascar into India. The discovery of modern plate tectonics put the theory to bed, but Lemuria’s legend has persisted for almost 200 years. After a brief period of reclamation by Tamil nationalists, who called the hypothetical continent Kumari Kandam, the charge of Lemuria as a peak civilization lost to sea was taken up by occultists and theosophists.
Like a game of telephone, authors built on the story of Lemuria. Madame Blavatsky’s esoteric cosmology posited the Lemurians as a “root race” in human evolution. Australian professor Robert Dixon theorized that Lemuria was a stand in for post-colonial British malaise. Finally, and this is what interested Pynchon, Lemuria was a continent sunken at vague coordinates in the Pacific Ocean. And then the Lemurians came to California.
Maybe the simple truth is that I can’t read Pynchon because I, too, want to keep believing. I want to believe that someone, somewhere, can explain in concrete terms the seekers of lost cities, the not-of-this-earth, those leaving behind broken histories and families, searching for a way to disappear and, in turn, find themselves.

Blavatsky, Emerson and the Tree of Knowledge
Lewis Connelly - 8 April 2019
I would identify the author of this movement to be Madame Blavatsky, and I would identify her forerunner to be our very own Ralph Waldo Emerson. Moving from Emerson to Blavatsky – contemporaries of one another - there is undeniably, in my opinion, a thick line of influence….Madame Blavatsky then was at the helm of esotericism or occultism, or modern spirituality’s sudden rise to prominence. Theosophists themselves speculate that the reason for this sudden rise was on account of the hidden masters themselves, who perhaps convened in some clandestine fashion to orchestrate the emergence of this ancient truth, to aid humanity in our ongoing spiritual betterment. And who knows? I’m obviously a sceptic when it come to this stuff, but here I am talking about it, so, make of that what you will. It does resonate on some level as meaningful to me.

An Occult Art History of the American West

Fiffy Guyver – 12 September 2019
During the 19th century, the American frontier moved ever-westward. The so-called new territories quickly became rich sites for innovative forms of Western spirituality, which operated outside of organized religion. One such practice, Theosophy – established in New York in 1875 by occultist Helena P. Blavatsky – proved influential in the development of abstract painting and Western modernism more broadly. A new book, titled Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West (2019), charts the religious movement’s influence on art history.
In 1938, in the small town of Taos, New Mexico, a number of artists formed the Transcendental Painting Group. Inspired by occult teachings, including theosophical literature, they conducted experiments in abstraction….One member of the group, Agnes Pelton, moved to the California desert in 1932, where she began to create surreal, luminous paintings. Among Pelton’s influences was Blavatsky’s core text, The Key to Theosophy (1889), and her works are suffused with occult symbolism.
he German artist, animator and filmmaker Oskar Fischinger is perhaps best-known for his pioneering contributions to abstract cinema: he collaborated with Fritz Lang on his 1929 film Woman in the Moon and influenced Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940). Although not a member of the Transcendental Painting Group, Fischinger was particularly influenced by Theosophical ideas after moving to Hollywood in 1936.

Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist 
Mar 13–June 28, 2020  
https://whitney.org/exhibitions/agnes-pelton