53. From Yoshinaga Shin'ichi (Nov. 24, 1999):
My name is Shinichi Yoshinaga. I am now studying the influence of Swedenborg upon D.T.Suzuki, and reading the Japanese translation of the book called Swedenborg the Buddhist, or The Higher Swedenborgianism, Its Secrets and Thibetan Origin. The original edition of this book is written by a Swedish by Carl Herman Vetterling, alias Philangi Dasa, and published in Los Angeles, 1887. Only six years later this was translated into Japanese as Zui-ha.
Bukkyougaku_(meaning Swedenborgian Buddhism). And today I found the following passage:
"A few years ago I met a mulatto. He said he was a Rosicrucian. But I thought he is not a true Rosicrucian when he drank alcohol and loved women....He ruined himself. How pity! He once said to me he believed or better knew the seven existences in the spirit world...."
Though there is no mention of the name, it seems certain that this Rosicrucian is none other than P.B. Randolph. As this is a translation of the Japanese translation, original sentences will be a lot different. But I think it would be worth reading Philangi Dasa's Swedenborg the Buddhist.
These sentences would be found about the middle of the book. Philangi Dasa himself is said to be the first Buddhist in America, but his biography seems to be obscure according to Rick Field's How the Swans Came to the Lake. This seems a very interesting connection, which could be compared to A.Crowley and Alan Watts.
After this mail I found that Soen Syaku, the Zen master of D.T.Suzuki, refered to Swedenborg as a Buddhist in his preface to Buddha No Fukuin (1895). This book is the translation of Paul Carus's The Gospel of Buddha (translator, D.T.Suzuki). So I have to assume that Suzuki must have read the Japanese translation of Swedenborg the Buddhist before he went to the USA, which was in 1897.
I also found that Philangi Dasa had a great influence on the Japanese Buddhism in Meiji era.
In Nishi Hongwanji-ha (or Hongwanji Temple), the largest one of the Pure-Land sects, there appeared reformation movements of its seminary students around 1890. One of them was Kwaigwai Senkyokai (a students' society for overseas missionary). The members of this society contacted William Q. Judge and Philangi Dasa. So the bulletin of this society (Kwaigwai Bukkyo Jijo) was packed with Theosophical writings and a lot of articles from Dasa's Buddhist Ray.
There was one episode which indicates the influence of Dasa. Just before the Congress of Religions in 1893 he wrote to a pen pal in Japan warning that the congress would be a conspiracy of Christians so Buddhists may be used as Christians wished. This letter appeared in another Buddhist periodical. It proved not to be a case, and Buddhists took part in the Congress after all, but Dasa's warning dispirit[ed] the Japanese Buddhists for a while.
Dasa is an obscure person in the history of Buddhism in Japan. But he seems to have played some role in the modernization of Japanese Buddhism.
Theosophy also seems to have played an important role. For example the death of Blavatsky was reported in several Buddhism periodicals as a regretful loss.
I think there was a stronger interplay between the Japanese Buddhism and the Western Buddhists (who were mainly Theosophists), and it should not be dismissed as an anecdote.
52. Gladney Oakley of Morisset, Australia writes (Nov. 1999):
A Unified Index to more than 50 Theosophical journals has been assembled in Sydney, based on Indices supplied by workers in Australia, France, the Philippines and the USA. A working version of the Index will in due course (hopefully by January 2001) be available on CD-ROM, able to be used in most computers that have a CD drive. As our artificial deadline of Jan 31 2000 approaches for contributions to be received here (PO Box 223, Morisset, NSW, 2264, Australia for diskettes) we thought it might be useful to remind potential and intending contributors. Entries for journal, author, title, year, month and page, and a variety of formats enable wide usefulness in locating the article one seeks. Five years and 7000 hours in the making, it contains indices to some 50 Theosophical Society journals, a working list of all Theosophical Society journals, a separate index to articles on Occult Chemistry, indices to French and German Section journals, and much more. Indices to eleven Australian ts journals, The Theosophist, Lucifer and The Theosophical Review, the Order of the Star in the East, and The Path are included. Students, Librarians and scholars will likely find this CD based Index of use. Contributions may be sent on diskette (in ASCII or dbf format) and queries can be sent via email. We no longer handle paper.
You may contact him at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
51. Dr. Ian Weeks of Australia writes (Dec. 1, 1999):
I am pursuing some research about a man I knew many years ago. He was then the Master of Queens College in the University of Melbourne - his name was Raynor C. Johnson. He published some widely read books in psychic research and was involved with the theosophical society at some stages in his life. Later he was the means by which Anne Hamilton-Byrne was "recognised" in this community, and he provided land for one of the centers that Mrs Hamilton-Byrne and her group, "The Family", established.
My main interest is in the sources of Johnson's thought expressed in books such as -
The Imprisoned Splendour
Nurslings of Immortality
Watcher on the Hills
A Religious Outlook for Modern Man
The Light and the Gate
I know quite a lot about Johnson but am looking for any other sources of information about him and about his influence outside Australia and the sources of his thought outside Australia - and about the use made of his writings over the past 30 to 40 years.
Dr Ian Weeks
phone: 61 3 5227 1274
fax: 61 3 5227 2018
50. K. Paul Johnson writes (July 16, 1999):
Thought you might be interested in a little discovery I made recently. Was staying at Staunton Hill, a conference center/lodge near here that is the family home of the Bruces. David K.E. Bruce was ambassador to the UK and France, and special envoy to China under Nixon. He was also a bibliophile and I ended up staying in his library which is now a guest room. While browsing I came upon My Cousin: F. Marion Crawford by Maud Howe Elliott. Crawford's first novel, Mr. Isaacs, was written in India and is based on the Theosophical Masters as portrayed by HPB at the time, early 1880s. In the cousin's book I found one letter from FMC to his uncle Sam Ward, an FTS and friend of the Founders, that refers to Theosophical matters. It opens with family matters but the last two paragraphs read:
Beware! Beware! I have no doubt of Koot Hoomi, but be sure he is he and no other. If it is really the good master himself I glory and rejoice with you, that you should enter that company from which ties too earthly and alas! too dear, must long exclude me. But do not be satisfied with any less than the wise man himself. Sinnett is a good, kind hearted man but I mistrust his judgment and Madame Blavatsky is only half of anything.
The Tibetans have no postage stamps, but the Kashmirs have, and I am well acquainted with them, so let me see the missive before long. Best love to Uncle Do and Jack.
49. Professor James Santucci has announced the program for the upcoming Consultation on Western Esotericism from the Early Modern Period at the American Academy of Religion in Boston from November 20 to November 23, 1999. The tentative date for the Consultation is November 21. The Consultation is the successor to the seminal Theosophy Seminar held at the AAR between 1994 and 1998.
Western Esotericism from the Early Modern Period
James A. Santucci, California State University, Fullerton, Presiding
Antoine Faivre, École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne), History and Present State of the Discipline "Modern Western Esotericism" in the Study of Religion
Jean-Pierre Laurant, École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne), The term "Esotericism" in the Nineteenth Century
Wouter Hanegraaff, University of Utrecht, Western Esotericism in the Academy: Beyond the Yates Paradigm
Dan Merkur, University of Toronto, Methodology in the Study of Alchemy
David L. Smith, Central Michigan University, Esotericism and Modernism: The Case of Emerson
James Burnell Robinson, University of Northern Iowa, The Esoteric, the Prophetic, and the Mystical
Maureen Richmond, The Central Metaphysical Doctrines of the Alice Bailey Writings and Their Roots in the Theosophy of H.P. Blavatsky
Jane Williams-Hogan, Bryn Athyn College of the New Church, Swedenborg and the Christian Kabbalah: Brothers or Distant Cousins?
Geoffrey McVey, Syracuse University, Rethinking the Magic of Giordano Bruno
48. Theo Paijmans email@example.com announces the publication of his biography of the Philadelphia inventor, John Worrell Keely. I have written a biography on this inventor (57 pages with notes and references) which sheds light on his connections with theosophy and Blavatsky. This might be of relevance to your studies. See for a review of its contents, and some remarks of reviewers: http://www.illuminetpress.com/keelytxt.html
47. Kevin Dann, Department of History, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0164 firstname.lastname@example.org is seeking information on the Eddy brothers at Chittenden, Vermont. "I live just over the mountain from there, and am curious about what the Spiritualist and early Theosophical scene here in my little river valley was like. [Also] I am doing some research on the relationship of HPB and Rudolf Steiner to the ideas of Ernst Haeckel, and wonder if there has been any Theosophical scholarship along these lines. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated."
46. Dimitri Spivak email@example.com has announced the publication of his new book on metaphysical thought in Russia:
D.Spivak. The Northern Capital: Metaphysics of St Peters- burg. - St Petersburg: Tema Publishers. - 1998. - 427 p. - 2,000 copies (in Russian)
St Petersburg is the second largest city of Russia, frequently labeled as its Northern capital. In 1997 it was officially proclaimed the cultural capital of Russia by Presi- dent Yeltzin. For three hundred years it was the capital of the Russian tsars, producing such marvellous names as Chaikovsky, Dostoyevsky, Faberge - and St Ignatius Brianchani- nov, who introduced a novel style of Hesychasm, the age-old ascetic doctrine initially elaborated in the Egyptian monas- teries. However even before that epoch, the Swedish kings gave every effort at conquering these places. In fact two times they managed to found on the place of St Petersburg their own towns, first Landskrona, later Nyenskans. Both cultures experienced numerous contacts with the native dwellers of these places, the Finnish people and several smaller tribes related to them. These nations retained their old languages belonging to the Ural-Altaic family, their archaic epic called Kalevala, and the age-old shamanism, brought from their initial motherland in the Ural mountains and Siberia.
In this way the latest millennium has produced a unique 'melting pot' in Northern Russia, bringing together nations belonging to different ideologies, tongues, religions, and mentalities, to finally produce what's frequently called by present-day scholars and journalists in Russia as `the St Petersburg civilization'. The point of the author is that this civilization has in fact incorporated and refined quite many intuitions and visions elaborated by the earlier inha- bitants of this place - and of Northern Russia in general. A special place is given to the occult and mystical practices and doctrines which have always flourished in these places. The book is the first attempt to give a concise overview of ideologies, religions, and spiritual practices which have existed in St Petersburg, and by nations which had inhabited this place, and Northern Russia in general, during the la- test millennium. The author, Dr Dmitri Spivak, is senior re- search fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and cor- responding fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Scien- ces. He has for many years specialized in studies of mass and historical psychology of the Russians. The text is based on first-hand knowledge of basic texts in Russian, Church Slavic, Swedish, and Finnish, as well on scholarly literatu- re of Russia and the Baltic countries. Being produced by an academic, the book is intended to serve as an introduction into the spirit of St Petersburg and Northern Russia for general audience. This is why the text is written in an easy-going style. It contains quite a few stories, both humorous and occult, which would let every reader, however young or unprepared, gain an insight into the spiritual tradition and mentality of this unique part of Europe.
45. Christopher firstname.lastname@example.org writes that while viewing a book called Hermetic Museum by Alexander Roob printed by Neschen I came on a work of Hugo Hoeppner (1868-1948) known as FIDUS, the article about him is very short I would like to get further reference about him and especially about his paintings. the reference to the picture I saw is: Fidus,Tempel der Erde, 1895 K.Jellinek, Das Weltengeheimnis Stuttgart. 1912.
I would appreciate it very much if you could indicate me were to get more information and buy Books with the Illustrations of his paintings.
44. Wouter Hanegraaff email@example.com has announced the beginning of ESOTERICA, THE JOURNAL OF ESOTERIC STUDIES:
Colleagues, On behalf of its editorial board and Michigan State University, under the sponsorship of the College of Arts and Letters, with the assistance of H-Net and MSU Press, we take great pleasure in announcing the first issue of ESOTERICA, THE JOURNAL OF ESOTERIC STUDIES. http://www.esoteric.msu.edu
1. Major original illustrated articles on subjects ranging from methodology to Hermetism and Gnosticism, from Renaissance literature to the American utopian communities of Harmony and Ephrata, and featuring such highly regarded scholars as Wouter Hanegraaff, Dan Merkur, and Claire Fanger.
2. Academic peer review, with an international editorial board that includes Antoine Faivre, Wouter Hanegraaff, Dan Merkur, Jean-Pierre Brach, Karen-Claire Voss, Jeffrey Steele, Laura Hobgood-Oster, Claire Fanger, Lee Irwin, David Bjelajac, and Arthur Versluis.
3. An archive of original source works unavailable elsewhere, including the full text of several major esoteric works, as well as excerpts from others.
4. An image library composed primarily of rare seventeenth and eighteenth century alchemical and theosophic illustrations.
5. A compilation of all recent Ph.D. dissertations in the field, sorted by subject.
6. Numerous important research links for scholars.
7. A large number of web links, divided according to subjects, useful for teaching courses on esotericism from antiquity to the present.
8. Book reviews of major works in the field.
9. A forum for discussion.
10. Pagination: to our knowledge, ours is the first electronic journal in the humanities to offer fully indexable and citable paginated articles, reviews, and source materials using only html.
We hope that you find Esoterica of value for both research and teaching, and look forward to hearing from you. Please pass on this announcement to any list or individual you think may be interested. with best wishes,
The email address of the Editorial Board of Esoterica is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Esoterica is the first electronic journal devoted to the study of Western esotericism, a relatively new field of study in the humanities. A transdisciplinary field (one that exists in the interstices between existing disciplines), the study of Western esotericism requires extensive knowledge of a wide array of fields, most predominantly religion and history, but also art history, literature, and the history of science. Areas of study include such disparate movements and traditions as alchemy, Freemasonry, the Kabbala, magic, mysticism, and secret or semi-secret orders, as well as these movements' or traditions' impact on artistic, literary, political and social figures. By examining esoteric influences in Western society, scholars are not only uncovering hitherto unknown figures and works, but also shedding new light on such questions as how the sciences emerged in the early modern period, or how deeply interwoven are the fields of art, literature, and religious studies. *Esoterica*, as an electronic journal and academic resource, has two main goals: providing, on the one hand, original articles on aspects of esotericism by specialists in the field, and on the other hand, primary research materials of use to scholars and teachers, including links to special collections and archives as well as lists of recent dissertations in the field. The journal also features book reviews and announcements. Because this is a relatively new field, we will continue to feature articles on methodology.
43. Alfred Willis, Dean of Library Services, Savannah College of Art and Design email@example.com announces that ARCHITRONIC, THE ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE, has recently published a theme issue entitled "Architecture and Theosophy" and dealing specifically with the impact of Theosophy on twentieth-century architectural theory and design, mainly in the Netherlands. This issue is volume 8, number 1 (January 1999) and may be accessed free of charge on the World Wide Web at the following URL: http://www.saed.kent.edu/Architronic/v8n1
Guest-edited by Susan R. Henderson of Syracuse University, the contents of this issue are: INTRODUCTION (Susan R. Henderson); J.L.M. LAUWERIKS AND K.P.C. DE BAZEL: ARCHITECTURE AND THEOSOPHY (Susan R. Henderson); ABSTRACTION AND THEOSOPHY: SOCIAL HOUSING IN ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS (Ken Lambla); THE VAN DER LEEUW HOUSE: THEOSOPHICAL CONNECTIONS WITH EARLY MODERN ARCHITECTURE (Graham Livesey); A SURVEY OF SURVIVING BUILDINGS OF THE KROTONA COLONY IN HOLLYWOOD.
42. A truly mind-boggling amount of material on H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society is available on the web. Without even attempting to exhaust the riches, some note should be taken of the following:
The Theosophical Society (Pasadena), through Theosophical University Press Online http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/tup-onl.htm has been uploading the full text of various important original sources in the history of Theosophy. The texts are not, apparently, critically compared with originals, but still they are of value. Most recently TUP has uploaded Eugene Rollin Corson's Some Unpublished Letters Of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/corson/cors-hp.htm Thesite also includes the entire text of H.P.B.'s Nightmare Tales. http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/nightmar/night-hp.htm:
1. Can The Double Murder?
2. An Unsolved Mystery
3. Karmic Visions
4. The Legend Of The Blue Lotus
5. A Bewitched Life
6. The Luminous Shield
7. The Cave Of The Echoes
8. From The Polar Lands
9. The Ensouled Violin
The site gives full, downloadable ascii copies of various standard Theosophical works, such as The Voice of the Silence, Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky to the American Conventions, 1888-1891, A. Trevor Barker's compilation of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett,Light on the Path, Through the Gates of Gold, The Idyll of the White Lotus).
Also included are two pieces from The Word 1908 on Alexander Wilder: Alexander Wilder's "How 'Isis Unveiled' Was Written.," The Word (May 1908) and "Letters from H. P. Blavatsky to Alexander Wilder, M. D.," The Word (June 1908) http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/isis/iu2-ap3.htm
Also of note is Dr. A.M. Bain's Theosophy International website, http://www.nellie2.demon.co.uk/webdoc4.htm which has an interesting set of "Documents of the "Leadbeater Affair" of 1906-1908," including transcriptions of various of Helen Dennis's letters, the Famous "Cipher Letter," and the famous and touching letter of T.H. Martyn to Annie Besant (from The O.E. Library Critic)
41. Scholars without university affiliation or other means of access will be delighted to learn that The Research Libraries Group (RLIN) bibliographic databases are now available to individuals for a very modest fee. http://www.rlg.org/member.html
40. A German librarian has recently published a new research tool that will be of interest to students of European Theosophy before WWI: Norbert Klatt, Der Nachlass von Willhelm Hübbe-Schleiden in der Niedersichsischen Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen: Verzeichniss der Materialien und Korrespondenten mit bio-bibliographischen Angaben (Göttingen: Klatt, 1996). Hübbe-Schleiden (1846-1916) was central to the web of Central Europeans interested in occultism, Theosophy and völkisch Lebensreformbewegung, and the archives confirm that fact. The catalogue of his correspondents is a Who's Who of these minor figures. Two undated, fragmentary letters survive from H.P. Blavatsky, and there are letters from Gustav Albertowitch Zorn, Mabel Collins, the Arundales, Annie Besant, Franz Hartmann, Theodor Reuss, Rudolf Steiner, et al. Of possible interest to Hartmann's theories of the origins of the T.S. is his 25 page manuscript, "Some Fragments of the Secret History of the Theosophical Society," by the "Chairman of the Board of Central of 1884."
(The latter document is being published as a Theosophical History Occasional Paper VIII. April 2000)
39. There are wonderful research tools freely available on the web that will certainly be of interest to researchers in the labyrinths of Theosophical History.
Of special interest is
The Cornell University Library Making of America (MOA) Collection is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. http://moa.cit.cornell.edu/MOA/MOA-JOURNALS2.html. The digital collection contains approximately 114 books and 24 Journals encompassing nearly 900,000pages with 19th century imprints. The texts are presented as graphics, displaying the full original page of the journal or book, and will soon be word-searchable. At present, the collection has Harpers New Monthly Magazine (December, 1889 - November, 1896), North American Review (1815 - 1900), Putnam's Monthly (1853 - 1870), and Scribner's Monthly (November, 1870 - October, 1881) among others.
The University of Michigan's Making of America (MOA) project is farther along. At present it has approximately 1,600 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints, with about 7,500 more volumes to comeall word-searchable! http://www.umdl.umich.edu/moa/moa_search.html The finds are wonderful. For example, a search for "GeorgeHenry Felt" reveals: Appletons' Journal: A Magazine Of General Literature (October 26, 1872): 187, a review of James R. Osgood & Co.'s announcement of the publication of Felt's "The 'Kaballah' of the Egyptians and 'Canon of Proportions' of the Greeks." A search for "Blavatsky" yields 12 journal articles, all outside the usual run of material that Theosophical History has considered to date.
Another interesting collection is Lause's Links, http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Quad/6460/index.html which describes itself as " Biographical Directory: an Eclectic Guide." It provides brief and generally accurate biographies, most with photographs, of once prominent and now forgotten movers of 19th century social history, especially on the labor and socialist side. Many people of interest to the early history of the T.S. are covered:
Stephen Pearl Andrews
James Rodes Buchanan
William Emmette Coleman
Moncure Daniel Conway
Andrew Jackson Davis
Frederick William Evans
Kate, Leah and Margaret Fox
Emma Hardinge Britten
Robert Dale Owen
Paschal Beverly Randolph
Albert Leighton Rawson
38. George Henry Felt's Preface and Introduction to his long-sought "The Kabbalah of the Egyptians and Canon of Proportions of the Greeks" have been discovered. They were among the Claude Bragdon Papers at the University of Rochester, and Pat Deveney firstname.lastname@example.org hopes to publish them soon. They were, of course, the topic of the lecture by Felt on the day the Theosophical Society was first proposed.
37. Pat Deveney email@example.com has uncovered some fascinating material on Albert Leighton Rawson, almost the only witness on H.P.B.'s days in Cairo in the early 1850s. Rawson's two articles on H.P.B. have already been re-published in Theosophical History , but his own biography is still largely unknown. The new research discusses the scandals that swirled around Rawson and D.M. Bennett, another familiar name in Theosophical history. Bennett, the editor of the Truth Seeker was jailed by the zealous Anthony Comstock in 1878 for his deliberately provocative articles, and when he sought to paint himself as a martyr for free speech, his enemies published his scandalous letters to a young woman intern in his office. Rawson, who was active with Bennett in the National Liberal Party and National Liberal League, was dragged into the affair and it was revealed that he had been convicted of theft in New Jersey in 1851 and had spent the period from September 1851 through June 1852 in jail for the crime. His enemies also published the papers from his divorce for bigamy in 1864, which reveal, among other things Rawson's whereabouts in the remainder of the early 1850s--all of which call into question the presumptive dating of Rawson's travels with H.P.B. in Egypt in the same period.
Separate research has uncovered the role of Rawson in the founding of the Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (the "Shriners") in the early 1870s and his linking of that group with the Bektashi Dervishes. The story is fascinating, and has several especially interesting links with other figures of interest to students of theosophical history. George Henry Felt joined the Shrine on June 1877, and contributed letters on Gustave Dore to its Proceedings, and Abd al-Kader, the Algerian Sufi and opponent of French colonization whom K. Paul Johnson has named as a possible link between H.P.B. and the Middle East, was a correspondent of Rawson's and, according to Rawson, a leading proponent of the Shrine.
36. The Theosophical History conference held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 3-5, 1998, was a great success.
The conference was called: "The Works and Influence of H.P. Blavatsky, A Forum for Presentations and Open Dialogue," and lived up to its promise. It drew speakers from all across Canada and from the U.S., and should serve a model for future gatherings. It provided a friendly and stimulating forum for discussion and friendly debate on many subjects of interest to Theosophists and to scholars.
On Friday night, July 3rd, Rogelle and Ernest Pelletier presented a slide show of fascinating and rarely seen photographs of and drawings by H.P.B. and photographs of her relatives and ancestors.
Saturday saw a full day of presentations, including a paper by Joan Sutcliffe on A.L. Cleather and the H.P.B. Library, and one by Sharon Ormerod on the famous "Meditation Diagram" of H.P.B. David Reigle then elucidated the relations of the Secret Doctrine to the Buddhist Wisdom Tradition, and Anna Lemkow spoke on the emerging consensus of modern social and scientific theory with the ideas of H.P.B. Several presentations were made on the relationship of H.P.B. to the artistic world. Dr. Ann Davis of Toronto spoke on the influence of Theosophical ideas on the Canadian artists Lawren Harris and Emily Carr, and Pat Deveney sketched out the history of "spirit painting" in 19th-century spiritualism and H.P.B.'s role in that phenomenon. Michael Gomes discussed the problems inherent in editing the works of H.P.B., illustrated by his recent abridgment of Isis Unvelied, and also announced several projects for the future, both of them fascinating. The first is a facsimile, color edition of the Mahatma Letters, and the second a "Festschrift" in honor of Ted G. Davy, whose long and careful work in establishing Theosophical history on a solid factual foundation surely deserves exactly this sort of recognition. Dara Eklund spoke movingly of H.P.B.'s ideas on the unity of nature and harmony with it, and R. Bruce MacDonald closed the day with a thought-provoking paper on H.P.B.'s ideas on the "Black Brothers," the counterweight of progress, and their influence on history.
The day closed with a delicious and friendly dinner at the hotel, with speeches (short!) and music by a string quartet composed of four lovely and talented girls, 9 to 12 years of age.
The conference continued on Sunday morning, with Ted Davy speaking on the "Material Body Which Suffocates the Soul: H.P. Blavatsky's Attitude to Ritual"a fascinating and much-needed presentation. A paper by Dr. Yuri Gorbunov of Russia was read that detailed a side of Theosophical history that has largely been unavailable: H.P.B.'s influence on her native land. With the opening of Russia, it is hoped that more works of this nature will appear. Jerry Hejka-Ekins presented a fascinating paper on the real and lasting influence of Theosophy on William Butler Yeats, and Nancy Reigle spoke on the "heart doctrine" and The Voice of the Silence.
Ernest Pelletier closed the conference with a resume of the highlights of the conference, and in the afternoon, with his wife, Rogelle, hosted an open house at the Edmonton Theosophical Society's headquarters, where they put on display the extremely impressive list of Theosophical works they have published over the years.
This conference was a model for such meetings. It brought together people of diverse points of view and backgrounds and provided a forum for the presentation and discussion of a variety of subjects of interest to scholars and Theosophists generally. The Edmonton Theosophical Society is to be commendedand, I hope, emulated.
35. Several interesting finds on the WWW:
Theosophical Review vols. 1-43, is available on microfilm (15 reels) as an ATLA preservation project.
http://www.parascience.org/theo.htm publishes Robert A. Gilbert's "The Idol with Feet of Clay: G.R.S. Mead in the Theosophical Society," and his "The Armchair Traveler: H.P.B. in Tibet," and also has extensive documents on Charles Webster Leadbeater, and Alexis Dolgorukii discusses H.P.B.'s entitlement to the title of "Countess" which she used in the New York days.
34. Leslie Price in London and Tore Ahlback in Sweden have both announced tentative plans for conferences on Theosophical History to be held in the spring. More information will be uploaded as it becomes availabe.
33. Miriam Akhtar firstname.lastname@example.org has just announced a fascinating project, a TV documentary on the TS in Britain before WW II, and is seeking film archives:
Testimony Films, Britain's leading maker of social history television documentaries, is making a programme about theosophy in Britain in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
We are trying to find film archive of the Theosophical Society at the time, including footage of Krishnamurti during the 1920s and the 1930s.
In the programme we are using a mixture of living memory and photographic and film archive. I have found plenty of articulate 90 year olds, but film archive is a real problem.
If you have home movie footage or can help, please e-mail/fax/phone
tel. +44 +117 925 8589
fax +44 +117 925 7668
32. Tony Hern email@example.com has announced his new webpage which will be of interest to those interested in Theosophical History: http://www.Aaron.atte.Southwerk.mcmail.com/AronFrnt.html
31. All serious students of Theosophical doctrine should read Joscelyn Godwin's article, "The Case Against Reincarnation" that appeared in Gnosis magazine no. 42, Winter 1997. Professor Godwin compares and contrasts the ideas of H.P.B. and René Guénon on the meaning and possibility of reincarnation. The webpage for Gnosis is http://www.lumen.org/issue_contents/contents42.html Also, Professor Godwin has published the first part of a 15-part study, "Annals of the Invisible College" on the Hermetic Tradition, on the Open Center webpage: http://www.opencenter.org/lapis/godwin.html
30. An important publication has just been announced:
Truth & Fiction
The "Theosophical Society"
and the Miracle-Cabinet of Adyar
by Franz Hartmann, M.D.
Translation from the German
by Robert Hütwohl
First written as correspondence to Arthur Weber, Franz Hartmann's candid views about the Coulomb affair at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras, India are extremely valuable on the early history of the Theosophical Society. An updated schematic rendering of the "occult room" is included, which is different from the one Hartmann first published in his A Report of Observations Made at the Theosophical Headquarters at Adyar in 1884. Hartmann also states little known information about H.S. Olcott's schemes with the "shrine" and false Mahatma letters. Acknowledging H.P. Blavatsky stood somewhere in the middle among the extreme opinions about her, Hartmann attempts to purify the distortions. Franz Hartmann gives his reasons for his long-held silence on the various issues confronting the Theosophical Society which were expressed in his satirical novel The Talking Image of Urur. He considered Heinrich Hensoldt's pamphlet, Annie Besant, eine wunderliche Heilige as damaging in its views towards H.P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant and other Theosophists and at least makes an effort to correct those distortions about Blavatsky. 32 pp.
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29. The Edmonton Theosophical Society has announced a call for papers on the works and influence of H.P. Blavatsky, to be presented at a Forum For Presentations and Open Dialogue, A Conference hosted by Edmonton Theosophical Society, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 3-4-5, 1998. Papers are to focus on what H.P.B. presented and/or her influence on 20th century thought. For details, write Edmonton Theosophical Society, Box 4587, Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA T6E 5G4, or email firstname.lastname@example.org., or the Pelletiers email@example.com.
28. Researchers should be aware of the H.P.B. Library, c/o Joan Sutcliffe, 284 Ellis Avenue, Toronto, ON M6S 2X2 CANADA. Originally the private collection of Alice Cleather, the library contains early theosophical and related literature which may be borrowed by mail. The library also offers for sale books by Alice Cleather and some theosophical pamphlets. A biographical sketch of "Alice Leighton Cleather" by Ms. Sutcliffe is featured in the latest (Fall 1997) issue of Fohat, A Vehicle for the Ancient Wisdom Tradition.
27. Forthcoming almost immediately from Quest, Wheaton, will be Michael Gomes's long-awaited abridgement of H.P.B.'s Isis Unveiled. The work is not a paraphrase and remains in H.P.B.'s own words, but the omission of the digressions and asides for the first time permits the reader to appreciate easily the theses and plan underlying the work. As always, the Mr. Gomes's work is meticulous and brilliant.
26. An interesting find on the web. Dr. Alan M. Bain's webpage, http://www.nellie2.demon.co.uk, which has the full text of various TS works, and also several scholarly articles on points of Theosophical History. He includes the full text of Robert A. Gilbert's "The Idol With Feet Of Clay: G.R.S. Mead In The Theosophical Society," his preface to a reprint of Arthur Lillie's "Koot Hoomi Unveiled," "Taking Heaven By Storm: Mystical Experience And The Gnostic Tradition," and "The Armchair Traveller: HPB In Tibet." Dr. Bain also posts the text of A.P. Sinnett's 1907 article, "The Vicissitudes of Theosophy," the original certificate of incorporation of the TS in India (1905), and a selection of letters on the Leadbeater Affair of 1906, including an exchange of letters by and among Hellen I. Dennis, Miss Gosse, Annie Besant, and others.
25. Those who enjoyed the recent article in TH on the architecture of the Point Loma community will also appreciate "History of the Point Loma Campus," a webpage with a succinct history of the campus and excellent photographs of the buildings: http://www.ptloma.edu/camphist.htm
24. Nicholas Campion firstname.lastname@example.org, author of several notable books on astrology and a frequent contributor to the Theosophical History Conferences in London, is the Editor of Culture and Cosmos. A Journal of the History of Astrology and Cultural Astronomy , a scholarly journal devoted to the astrological tradition. The journal has a distinguished editorial board, including Professor James A. Santucci, Professor P.M.Rattansi, Dr. David Ulansey and Robin Waterfield. The webpage of the new journal (with table of contents of the first two numbers) is at http://www.astrologer.com/aanet/culture.html
23. From Govert Schuller email@example.com whose paper on the response to Krishnamurti has just been puplished as an Occasional Paper by Theosophical History.
It is my great pleasure to announce you the launch of a specialized web site dedicated to the esoteric interpretation of history, titled Alpheus. So far it contains two full texts with endnotes and an announcement of a publication written for Theosophical History Journal. Those with an interest in Theosophy, Krishnamurti and the Masters might find something of their liking. I invite you cordially to come and look at URL:
Here you will find: "Krishnamurti: An Esoteric view of his Teachings": http://pages.prodigy.net/schuller/onk.htm
"The Masters and Their Emissaries: From H.P.B. to Guru Ma": http://pages.prodigy.net/schuller/story.htm
"Krishnamurti and the World Teacher Project: Some Theosophical Perceptions" (announcement): http://pages.prodigy.net/schuller/justpubl.htm
22. William D. Moore, Director of the Livingston Masonic Library firstname.lastname@example.org announces a call for papers for the Society of Architectural Historians meeting in Los Angeles next spring of which he is co-chair. The meeting will be of especial interest to those interested in Theosophical History because of its inclusion of "The Architecture of Alternative American Religious Congregations and Esoteric Organizations"--including Theosophy.
SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIANS
51ST ANNUAL MEETING -- 15-19 APRIL 1998 BILTMORE HOTEL -- Los Angeles, California
CALL FOR PAPERS
Members and friends of the Society of Architectural Historians are invited to submit abstracts (maximum length 250 words/one page) by 3 September 1997 for the session listed below. Abstracts should be sent directly to the chair of the session. The content of the proposed paper should be the product of original research by the author and should offer substantive new information and/or insights on the subject at hand. While based on fact, papers should foremost be interpretative and analytical rather than decsriptive and documentary. The paper should not have been previously published at the time of the meeting, nor should it have been previously delivered to any but a small and/or local audience. Only one submission per author will be accepted. Abstracts should state the problem and summarize the argument that will be presented in the paper. Applicants should include home and work addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers as well as institutional or firm affiliation, when applicable. Abstracts will be held in confidence. Session chairs have the option of discussing possible modifications to a proposed paper with the author in developing the program. While some proposals may not be accepted for the targeted session, they may be included in an open session if the author agrees and space permits. Whatever the circumstances, session chairs will notify all persons submitting abstracts as to whether they have been accepted at the earliest possible date and no later than six weeks after the abstract submission deadline. Authors of accepted abstracts must submit a copy of their papers to the session chair by 2 February 1998. The chair will return any comments, suggestions for revision, etc. to the author by 4 March 1998. Chairs reserve the right to withold a paper from the program if the author has refused to comply with meeting procedures.
Sects and Sensibilities: The Architecture of Alternative American Religious Congregations and Esoteric Organizations
As a nation without a state-sponsored church, historically the United States has provided a fertile environment for a broad range of spiritual organizations. Although the tradition of religious diversity has resulted in an American landscape encompassing heterogenous built expressions of spiritual experience, the architectural manifestations of many strains of theology have yet to be explored adequately. Numerous sects offering existential comfort and community in changing social and cultural milieus have developed distinctive spatial and aesthetic sensibilities and have made significant contributions to the religious architecture of the United States. This session presents interdisciplinary studies of edifices and compounds erected by groups with religious beliefs not held by the "mainstream" Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic denominations. Possible groups include, but are not limited to: Adventism, Christian Science, Fourierism, Foursquare Gospel, Hare Krishna, Jehovah's Witnesses, New Thought, Rosicrucianism, Scientology, Shakerism, Spiritualism, Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, and Wicca. Studies that examine the interaction between built forms and ritual practices are particularly welcome.
Chaired by Paul E. Ivey, University of Arizona, and William D. Moore, Livingston Masonic Library, New York, New York. Send proposals to the former at: Department of Art, University of Arizona, Art Building 130, Tucson, Arizona 85721. Livingston Masonic Library "Collecting, Studying, and Preserving the Masonic Heritage"
21. Miscellaneous notes from the web: The California Historical Society Quarterly 52/2: 2-15 has an article "Eastern Thought on a Western Shore: Point Loma Community." The reference can be found at http://www.calhist.org/Support_Info/Publications/QuarterlyIndex.htmld/index.html
20. Revd Kevin Tingay, The Rectory, Bradford on Tone, Taunton UK TA4 1HG is working on the "Children of HPB," the various groups descending from her work, especially ritual groups working the Rays, and Rosicrucianism, and would be delighted to hear from other researchers in the area. email@example.com
19. Miscellaneous notes from the web: the Sydney University webpage, http://www.arts.su.edu.au/Arts/departs/history/theses.html lists a fourth-year thesis that may be of interest to scholars: Gregory Banfield, Eclecticism And Esotericism In Late Nineteenth Century India: The Establishment Of Theosophical Society (2 volumes) January 1974
18. Peter R. Koenig firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com: Here you find updated, improved and new pages on the Ordo Templi Orientis Phenomenon. E.g., On Rudolf Steiner NOT having been a member of the OTO: http://www.cyberlink.ch/~koenig/steiner.htm
17. Ernest Pelletier writes enclosing a copy of the new FOHAT. A Vehicle for the Ancient Wisdom Tradition, published by the Edmonton Theosophical Society, a thoughtful 22-page Theosophical quarterly. It may be obtained from FOHAT, Box 4587, Edmonton, Alberta Canada, T6E 5G4. firstname.lastname@example.org
16. From William D. Moore, Director, Livingston Masonic Library. email@example.com June 30, 1997. The library's webpage, http://www.rpi.edu/~nichot3/masonry/library/index.html , has the announcement of a new collection of primary material that may be of interest to researchers. We have acquired 31 pieces of correspondence originally belonging to William H. Peckham of New York City. In the 1880s, Peckham claimed to be the Sovereign Grand Commander of a spurious Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite based in New York. The group claimed authority supposedly descended from Joseph Cerneau, the franco-phone Scottish Rite innovator of the early 19th century. Harry J. Seymour, an important figure in the development of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis, apparently sold his interest in this Supreme Council to Peckham in 1880 after being expelled from the Hays-Raymond Supreme Council. Peckham's correspondence with figures such as L. R. Oronhyatekha, Henry W. Pell, M.W. Bayliss, and Robert Ramsey, discusses the politics and day-to-day details of establishing spurious Scottish Rite Valleys in New York State, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada. A finding guide to the letters will soon be posted to our webpage.
[This material will be welcome to those interested in the obscure Masonic backgrounds of several key figures in the early T.S., such as John Yarker and Charles Sotheran.]
15. John Cooper, P.O. Box 532 Bega, Australia 2550, writes: "There are two texts I am searching for. The first is titled Communications from Angels a pamphlet edited by Dr. J. Everett of Athens County, Ohio. This is based on the King manifestations and, I suspect, may be one of the sources for Isis Unveiled . The other text I seek is The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. This was never completed by Dickens, who died in 1870. Many writers have attempted to complete it, but the rewrite I am seeking was completed and published as The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Complete by Charles Dickens, Brattleboro, VT, published by T.P. James, 1874. The reason I am seeking this volume is because H.P.B. claimed to have translated it into Russian as mentioned in her letters."
[Preliminary response: T.P. James first published his completion of Edwin Drood in his monthly Summerland Messenger, Brattleboro, Vermont, beginning in the spring of 1874 and continuing into 1875, and in later issues expanded his revelations to stories that Dickens had not gotten around to writing while alive.]
14. Gladney Oakley, P.O. Box 223, Morrisey NSW, Australia 2264, writes enclosing After a Decade--A Summary Report: Electronic Union-Index to Theosophical Journals. The project is the preparation of a list of all Theosophical journals worldwide from 1870 to the present, together with bibliographical information on them and, where possible, an index of their contents. The data will eventually be made available to researchers on CD-ROM. At present the list of periodicals stands at just over 700, of which, most notably, The Theosophist , Lucifer and The Theosophical Review have been indexed. See the review of the index for these journals in TH VI/3 July 1996, A Review of the January 12, 1996, beta Version of Mr. G. Oakley's Electronic Index to The Theosophist, Lucifer and Theosophical Review. Indexing efforts on various other journals are now underway in Holland, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and France, and Mr. Oakley seeks collaborators, especially in the U.S. and Canada to aid in the work.
[Editor's note: The project is an extraordinarily ambitious one and one that will, when completed, very materially improve the researching of Theosophical topics. Perhaps some of our readers will be interested in working on the project.]
13. Re the query (No. 10) of Joanne McMahon of the Parapsychology Foundation in New York City concerning the image of the Grim Reaper, there is a discussion of the subject in Dan Meinwald's fascinating article, "Memento Mori: Death And Photography In Nineteenth Century America" (California Museum of Photography Bulletin 9/4). The full text, with illustrations, can be found at http://cmp1.ucr.edu/terminals/memento_mori . Students of Theosophical History will find the material of interest because of its discussion of the work of the "spirit photographers" William Mumler and Buguet. Mumler first produced photographs of spirits in 1861. While the spirits hovering about the body of the person sitting for the photograph were invisible to the human eye, he managed to capture them on the negative--or, as his detractors charged, managed to superimpose pictures of them on the negative. His most famous photographs were made for Mrs. Lincoln after the Civil War, and showed the spirit of Abraham Lincoln solicitously hovering over her. Though he was charged with fraud, the case was dismissed and he continued his work. In March 1875, H.P. Blavatsky wrote to General Lippitt in Boston: "I want to try a spirit picture, taking if I could get some of my spirit friends. Suppose, I send a photograph picture of mine, could Mumler take spirit picture from it? Please write particulars, and also how much Mumler or Hezelton [a rival photographer] charge for it? Also, who is the best of them for spirit photographs?" A little later she informed General Lippitt that "John King" would "do his best" to appear on a photograph if Lippitt visited Mumler's studio. H.P.B. Speaks, 1:57-60. Another spirit photographer discussed by Meinwald is John Buguet who plied his trade in Paris from 1873 to 1875 for many early Theosophists, including Lady Caithness, William Stainton Moses (M.A. Oxon), George Leighton Ditson, John L. O'Sullivan, Emile von Wittgenstein and, most notably, H.P.B.'s friend P.-G. Leymarie, who got a year in jail in May 1875 when Buguet confessed that he and Leymarie had had run the whole enterprise as a fraud. Of related interest is the fact that H.J. Newton, the first Treasurer of the T.S., was President of the quite legitimate Photographic Section of the American Institute and also an ardent believer in spirit photography. firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Partial reply to Daniel Caldwell's request (No. 6) for information on microfilm copies of various 19th-century spiritualist journals.
11. From John Patrick Deveney, April 21, 1997: With regard to the letters between H.P. Blavatsky and H.S. Olcott and Thomas A. Edison published by Michael Gomes, Joscelyn Godwin and me ("Correspondence of H.P. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott with Thomas A. Edison," Theosophical History 6/2 (April 1996): 50-57) I would like to note a curious and probably playful reference to the subject in the letters from H.P.B. to Hurrychund Chintamon, the representative of the Arya Samaj in Bombay. In a letter dated May 4, 1878 and partially transcribed in the collection, H.P.B. writes to Chintamon that Edison is a Theosophist, and then continues: