The M+G+R Foundation

A Guest Document


 
False Dawn

Chapter 10: Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society

 

By Lee Penn

 

Theosophy is a blend of distorted forms of Hinduism and Buddhism with Western occultism.[1]  This spiritual movement took its modern form in 1875 in New York City, when Helena Petrovna Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society.[2]  Her two principal books were Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine; she also began the magazine Lucifer in 1887.[3]  A scholarly history of the Theosophical movement says of Blavatsky that  “Everywhere she was involved with Freemasonry, Oriental secret societies, occult fraternities, and with the spiritualists who constituted, as it were, the exoteric ‘church’ from which doors opened to the more esoteric circles.”[4]  Influential 20th century Theosophists included Alice Bailey (founder of the Lucifer Publishing Company in New York City in 1922,[5] which is now known as the Lucis Trust), and Rudolf Steiner (founder of the Anthroposophical movement, a variant of Theosophy).[6]

 

At first glance, the stated aims of the Theosophical Society appear harmless:

 

·       “To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color. 

·       To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, and science. 

·       To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.”[7]

 

These principles were established in the 19th Century, and have been the foundation of Theosophy since then.  However, in her writings – which the Theosophical movement still publishes and reveres – Madame Blavatsky showed the darker side of her world-view.

 

Mankind and Nature as “Gods”

 

For Blavatsky, the Lord is not God; mankind is.  In The Secret Doctrine, she said: “esoteric philosophy shows that man is truly the manifested deity in both its aspects – good and evil.”[8]   Since mankind is god, it follows through the “law of spiritual development” that “mankind will become freed from its false gods, and find itself finally – SELF-REDEEMED.”[9]   Elsewhere in the same book, Blavatsky foreshadowed Gorbachev (who recently said “nature is my god”[10]) by claiming, “The silent worship of abstract or noumenal Nature, the only divine manifestation, is the one ennobling religion of Humanity.”[11]  Either way, for Blavatsky, God is not the Holy Trinity as revealed to Christians.

 

Sympathy for the Devil

 

Throughout The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky praised the Devil and belittled God.

 

In Volume I, Cosmogenesis, she wrote: “The devil is now called Darkness by the Church, whereas, in the Bible he is called the ‘Son of God’ (see Job), the bright star of early morning, Lucifer (see Isaiah).  There is a whole philosophy of dogmatic craft in the reason why the first Archangel, who sprang from the depths of Chaos, was called Lux (Lucifer), the ‘Luminous Son of the Morning,’ or manvantaric Dawn.  He was transformed by the Church into Lucifer or Satan, because he is higher and older than Jehovah, and had to be sacrificed to the new dogma.”[12] 

 

Blavatsky went on to hail Satan as “Saviour” of man: “Satan and his rebellious host would thus prove, when the meaning of the allegory is explained, to have refused to create physical man, only to become the direct Saviours and the Creators of ‘divine Man.’ …  For, instead of remaining a mere blind, functioning medium, impelled and guided by fathomless Law, the ‘rebellious’ Angel claimed and enforced his right of independent judgment and will, his right of free-agency and responsibility, since man and angel are alike under Karmic Law.”[13] 

 

For her, Satan is the one who frees man from death: “Thus ‘Satan’ once he ceases to be viewed in the superstitious, dogmatic, un-philosophical spirit of the Churches, grows into the grandiose image of one who made of terrestrial a divine man; who gave him, throughout the long cycle of Mahâ-kalpa the law of the Spirit of Life, and made him free from the Sin of Ignorance, hence of death.”[14]

 

In Volume II, Anthropogenesis, Blavatsky continued to exalt the Devil.  She said: “Satan will now be shown, in the teaching of the Secret Doctrine, allegorized as Good, and Sacrifice, a God of Wisdom, under different names.”[15]  Blavatsky added, “In this case it is but natural – even from the dead letter standpoint – to view Satan, the Serpent of Genesis, as the real creator and benefactor, the Father of Spiritual mankind.  For it is he who was the ‘Harbinger of Light,’ bright radiant Lucifer, who opened the eyes of the automaton created by Jehovah, as alleged; and he who was the first to whisper: ‘in the day ye eat thereof ye shall be as Elohim, knowing good and evil’ – can only be regarded in the light of a Saviour.  An ‘adversary’ to Jehovah the ‘personating spirit,’ he still remains in esoteric truth the ever-loving ‘Messenger’ (the angel), the Seraphim and Cherubim who both knew well, and loved still more, and who conferred on us spiritual, instead of physical immortality – the latter a kind of static immortality that would have transformed man into an undying ‘Wandering Jew.’”[16] 

 

In the end, Blavatsky raises up Satan as “the highest divine Spirit:” “To make the point clear once for all: that which the clergy of every dogmatic religion – pre-eminently the Christian – points out as Satan, the enemy of God, is in reality, the highest divine Spirit – (occult Wisdom on Earth) – in its naturally antagonistic character to every worldly, evanescent illusion, dogmatic or ecclesiastical religions included.  Thus, the Latin Church, intolerant, bigoted and cruel to all who do not choose to be its slaves; the Church which calls itself the bride of Christ, and the trustee at the same time of Peter, to whom the rebuke of the Master ‘get thee behind me Satan’ was justly addressed; and again the Protestant Church which, while calling itself Christian, paradoxically replaces the New Dispensation by the old ‘Law of Moses’ which Christ openly repudiated: both these Churches are fighting against divine Truth, when repudiating and slandering the Dragon of esoteric (because divine) Wisdom.’”[17] 

 

For her, “In antiquity and reality, Lucifer, or Luciferus, is the name of the angelic Entity presiding over the light of truth as over the light of the day.”[18]

 

The logical consequence of these beliefs is that, for Blavatsky, “The Fall was the result of man’s knowledge, for his ‘eyes were opened.’  Indeed, he was taught Wisdom and the hidden knowledge by the ‘Fallen Angel,’ for the latter had become from that day his Manas, Mind and Self-Consciousness.    And now it stands proven that Satan, or the Red Fiery Dragon, the ‘Lord of Phosphorus’ (brimstone was a theological improvement), and Lucifer, or ‘Light-Bearer,’ is in us: it is our Mind – our tempter and Redeemer, our intelligent liberator and Saviour from pure animalism.”[19]

 

Inverting Christian Tradition

 

With this theological foundation, Blavatsky raged against other aspects, great and small, of the Christian tradition. 

 

Blavatsky dismissed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a “tribal god:”  “History shows in every race and even tribe, especially in the Semitic nations, the natural impulse to exalt its own tribal deity above all others to the hegemony of the gods; and proves that the god of the Israelites was such a tribal God, and no more, even though the Christian Church, following the lead of the ‘chosen’ people, is pleased to enforce the worship of that one particular deity, and to anathematize all the others.”[20] 

 

She adds that “Jehovah has ever been in antiquity only ‘a god among other Gods,’ (lxxxii. Psalm).  The Lord appears to Abraham, and while saying, ‘I am the Almighty God,’ yet adds, ‘I will establish my covenant to be a God unto thee’ (Abraham) and unto his seed after him (Gen. xvii. 7) – not unto Aryan Europeans.”[21] 

 

(“Aryan Europeans” did abandon the “tribal” worship of Jehovah during the last century.  They idolized Hitler, the Aryan race, and the German nation instead – with gruesome results.)

 

Blavatsky moved on to assail Christ.  In Isis Unveiled, Blavatsky said, “The present volumes have been written to small purpose if they have not shown, 1, that Jesus, the Christ-God, is a myth concocted two centuries after the real Hebrew Jesus died; 2, that, therefore, he never had any authority to give Peter, or anyone else, plenary power; 3, that, even if he had given such authority, the word Petra (rock) referred to the revealed truths of the Petroma, not to him who thrice denied him; and that besides, the apostolic succession is a gross and palpable fraud; 4, that the Gospel according to Matthew is a fabrication based on a wholly different manuscript.  The whole thing, therefore, is an imposition alike upon priest and penitent.”[22] 

 

(With similar skepticism, Jack Spong, then serving as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, wrote in 1998: “Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.” [23])

 

Blavatsky also claimed in 1877 that the miracles of Simon Magus, “the Great Power of God,” were “more wonderful, more varied, and better attested than those either of the apostles or of the Galilean philosopher himself.”[24]  (Likewise, Bishop Spong, who considers himself to be a ground-breaking, reformist theologian, wrote in 1998, “The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.”[25])

 

Blavatsky’s description of “Sophia” should give pause to those who invoke her as a female Third Person of the Godhead.  In Isis Unveiled, she said, “The various cosmogonies show that the Archæal Universal Soul was held by every nation as the ‘mind’ of the Demiurgic Creator, the Sophia of the Gnostics, or the Holy Ghost as a female principle.”[26]  This may be the spiritual origin of “inclusive language” for the Third Person of the Trinity.  In The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky added: “In the great Valentian gospel Pistis Sophia (§ 361) it is taught that of the three Powers emanating from the Holy Names of the Three Tridunάmeiς, that of Sophia (the Holy Ghost according to these gnostics – the most cultured of all), resides in the planet Venus or Lucifer.”[27] 

 

The female “Sophia” resides in the planet Lucifer; you heard it here first.

 

Blavatsky said in 1877 that religious truth would be found in the aggregate of the religions: “Our examination of the multitudinous religious faiths that mankind, early and late, have professed, most assuredly indicates that they have all been derived from one primitive source.  It would seem as if they were all but different modes of expressing the yearning of the imprisoned human soul for intercourse with supernal spheres. …  Combined, their aggregate represents one eternal truth; separate, they are but shades of human error and the signs of imperfection.”[28]  She added, “It but needs the right perception of things objective to finally discover that the only world of reality is the subjective”[29]  Maybe postmodernism is not so new, after all.

 

Population Control – in 1888

 

In The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky urged that an astrologically based form of natural family planning be taught to “the armies of the ragged and the poor:” “If instead of being taught in Sunday Schools useless lessons from the Bible, the armies of the ragged and the poor were taught Astrology – so far, at any rate, as the occult properties of the Moon and its hidden influences on generation are concerned, then there would be little need to fear increase of the population nor resort to the questionable literature of the Malthusians for its arrest.”[30]  (At the time, world population was about 1.6 billion people, roughly one-quarter of the current human population.)  In the 20th Century, many others would follow the trail that Blavatsky blazed, and would concern themselves with limiting reproduction among the poor.

 

Evolutionary Racism

 

Before 1950, New Age authors spoke more bluntly about race than is usual now. 

 

In 1877, Blavatsky quoted anthropologist Alfred R. Wallace as saying, “it must inevitably follow that the higher – the more intellectual and moral – must displace the lower and more degraded races;” after a long period of “natural selection,” the world will again be “inhabited by a single, nearly homogeneous race, no individual of which will be inferior to the noblest specimens of existing humanity.”[31]  Blavatsky approved of the opinions and “scientific methods” of this “great anthropologist,” and added, “what he says above clashes in no way with our kabalistic assertions.  Allow to ever-progressing nature, to the great law of the ‘survival of the fittest,’ one step beyond Mr. Wallace’s deductions, and we have in the future the possibility – nay, the assurance of a race, which, like the Vril-ya of Bulwer-Lytton’s Coming Race, will be but one remove from the primitive ‘Sons of God.’”[32]  (The Coming Race was an 1871 novel by a British occultist.  It was based on the existence of a subterranean race, the Vril-ya, that were “psychically far in advance of the human species.”  Whoever mastered the energy of vril could “enjoy total mastery over all nature.”)[33]

 

In 1888, Blavatsky said, “Mankind is obviously divided into god-informed men and lower human creatures.  The intellectual difference between the Aryan and other civilized nations and such savages as the South Sea Islanders, is inexplicable on any other grounds.  No amount of culture, nor generations of training amid civilization, could raise such human specimens as the Bushmen, the Veddhas of Ceylon, and some African tribes, to the same intellectual level as the Aryans, the Semites, and the Turanians so called.  The ‘sacred spark’ is missing in them and it is they who are the only inferior races of the globe, now happily – owing to the wise adjustment of nature which ever works in that direction – fast dying out.  Verily mankind is ‘of one blood,’ but not of the same essence.”[34] 

 

She saw the extinction of “inferior” races” as part of mankind’s evolution: “a series of other less favoured groups – the failures of nature – will, like some individual men, vanish from the human family without even leaving a trace behind.”[35]  “A process of decimation is taking place all over the globe, among those races, whose ‘time is up’ – among just those stocks, be it remarked, which esoteric philosophy regards as the senile representatives of the archaic nations.  It is inaccurate to maintain that the extinction of a lower race is invariably due to cruelties or abuses perpetrated by colonists.    Redskins, Eskimos, Papuans, Australians, Polynesians, etc., etc. – all are dying out.    The tide-wave of incarnating Egos has rolled past them to harvest experience in more developed and less senile stocks; and their extinction is hence a Karmic necessity.”[36]  

 

No URI document says anything of this kind.  However, there is a double standard in effect regarding the treatment of Blavatsky’s writings.  In today’s mainstream public discourse, any conservative or traditionalist writer who ever said such things is dismissed as racist, and his entire body of work is considered unworthy of attention.  However, Blavatsky, a spiritual predecessor of today’s New Age movement, still gets respect from Theosophists and occultists; her followers are deemed to deserve a place at the interfaith table.

 

The Theosophical Swastika

 

Part of Blavatsky’s pantheon was the seven-headed “Serpent of Darkness” bearing the swastika on its crowns.  She said, “And this ‘true and perfect Serpent’ is the seven-lettered God who is now credited with being Jehovah, and Jesus One with him.  To this Seven-vowelled god the candidate for initiation is sent by Christos, in the Pistis Sophia, a work earlier than St. John’s Revelation, and evidently of the same school.      These seven vowels are represented by the Swastika signs on the crowns of the seven heads of the Serpent of Eternity, in India, among esoteric Buddhists, in Egypt, in Chaldea, etc., etc., and among the Initiates of every other country.  ...  The seven-headed serpent has more than one signification in the Arcane teachings.  It is the seven-headed Draco, each of whose heads is a star of the Lesser Bear; but it was also, and pre-eminently, the Serpent of Darkness (i.e., inconceivable and incomprehensible) whose seven heads were the seven Logoi, the reflections of the one and first manifested Light – the universal Logos.”[37] 

 

The Bible describes a seven-headed animal, as well – but does so to warn against it rather than to praise it.  The book of Revelation portrays “a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads,” (Rev. 13:1) who receives its authority from the Dragon (Rev. 13:2, 4).[38]

 

The Theosophists have retained the swastika symbol.  Since 1881,[39] the emblem of the Theosophical Society has included the image of a snake eating its tail, with an encircled swastika where the serpent’s head meets its tail.[40]  The Nazis borrowed the swastika symbol and ideas of Aryan racial supremacy from the Thule Society and other German occultists, and then made their own sanguinary adaptations to occultism.[41]

 

The premier historian of the occult roots of Nazism and neo-Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, explains the connection between Theosophy and Nazism: “Even before the First World War, occult-racist völkisch sects in Austria and Germany had quarried the ideas of Theosophy for the Aryo-Germanic cult of Ariosophy.  Notions of elite priesthoods, secret gnosis, a prehistoric golden age, the conspiracy of demonic racial inferiors and millennial prophecies of Aryan salvation  all occur in the writings of Guido von List (1848-1919) and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) and their followers.  Their ideas and symbols filtered through to several anti-Semitic and nationalist groups in late Wilhelmian Germany, from which the early Nazi Party emerged in Munich after the war.  At least two Ariosophists were closely involved with Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler in the 1930s, contributing to his projects in Germanic prehistory, SS order ceremonial and his visionary plans for the Greater Germanic Reich in the third millennium.    Given the neopagan revivalism and frequent antipathy toward Christianity among fascists, Theosophy can offer such individuals a scheme of religious belief that ignores Christianity in favor of a mixture of mythical traditions and new scientific ideas from contemporary scholarship in anthropology, etymology, ancient history and comparative religion.  In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Theosophy itself tended to be associated with liberal and emancipatory causes by its leaders in Britain and India.  Here one recalls Helena Blavatsky’s support of Garibaldi’s struggle in Italy and Annie Besant’s championship of the Indian National Congress.  However, the very structure of Theosophical beliefs can lend themselves to illiberal adoption.  The implicit authority of the hidden mahatmas from a Lemuro-Atlantean dynasty with superhuman wisdom is easily transmogrified by racist enthusiasts into a new hierarchical social order based on the mystique of the blood.  And the notion of an occult gnosis in Blavatskyan Theosophy, together with the charge that alien (Christian) beliefs have obscured this spiritual heritage, also fits the need to ascribe a prehistoric pedigree to modern racial nationalism.”[42]

 

Dragon-Worship: The Religion of the Ancients – and of the Future

 

Blavatsky expected the current world religions to disappear; the “religion of the ancients is the religion of the future.  A few centuries more, and there will linger no sectarian belief in either of the great religions of humanity.  Brahmanism and Buddhism, Christianity and Mohammedanism will all disappear before the mighty rush of facts.    But this can only come to pass when the world returns to the grand religion of the past; the knowledge of those majestic systems which preceded by far Brahmanism, and even the primitive monotheism of the ancient Chaldeans.”[43]

 

Blavatsky claimed that the universal “religion of the ancients” was the worship of the Dragon and the Sun.  She said, “The tradition of the Dragon and the Sun is echoed in every part of the world, both in its civilized and semi-savage regions.  It took rise in the whisperings about secret initiations among the profane, and was established universally through the once universal heliolatrous religion.  There was a time when the four parts of the world were covered with the temples sacred to the Sun and the Dragon; but the cult is now preserved mostly in China and the Buddhist countries.    We find (a) the priests assuming the name of the gods they served; (b) the ‘Dragons’ held throughout all antiquity as the symbols of Immortality and Wisdom, of secret Knowledge and of Eternity; and (c) the hierophants of Egypt, of Babylon, and India, styling themselves generally the ‘sons of the Dragon’ and ‘Serpents;’ thus the teachings of the Secret Doctrine are thereby corroborated.”[44] 

 

The memory of this ancient religion was “the origin of the new Satanic myth” of Christians.[45] 

 

The restored worship of the Dragon and the Sun is what Blavatsky expects to be the New Religion of the future.  Thus, she predicted a literal fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation that “Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast” (Rev. 13:4).

 

Hatred for the Christian Churches

 

Blavatsky’s proclamation of “universal brotherhood” did not extend to Christians and their churches.  In 1877, she said that Isis Unveiled was “in particular directed against theological Christianity, the chief opponent of free thought.  It contains not one word against the pure teachings of Jesus, but unsparingly denounces their debasement into pernicious ecclesiastical systems that are ruinous to man’s faith in his immortality and his God, and subversive of all moral restraint.  We cast our gauntlet at the dogmatic theologians who would enslave both history and science; and especially at the Vatican, whose despotic pretensions have become hateful to the greater portion of enlightened Christendom.”[46] 

 

In 1888, Blavatsky reiterated: “the Secret Doctrine must some day become the just Karma of the Churches – more anti-Christian than the representative assemblies of the most confirmed Materialists and Atheists.”[47]

 

The Worldwide Influence of Blavatsky and of Theosophy

 

Numerous authorities, from the Vatican to interfaith movement historians and scholarly supporters of Theosophy, confirm that Theosophy has decisively influenced occult, spiritualist, “New Thought,” and New Age movements around the world since 1875.  Blavatsky’s work has borne plentiful dark fruit.

 

The Vatican’s report on the New Age movement, released in early 2003, said that 19th-Century esotericism “reached its clearest form in the ideas of Helena Blavatsky, a Russian medium who founded the Theosophical Society with Henry Olcott in New York in 1875. The Society aimed to fuse elements of Eastern and Western traditions in an evolutionary type of spiritualism. It had three main aims:  1. ‘To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, caste or colour.’  2. ‘To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science.’  3. ‘To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.’  “The significance of these objectives ... should be clear. The first objective implicitly rejects the ‘irrational bigotry’ and ‘sectarianism’ of traditional Christianity as perceived by spiritualists and theosophists ... It is not immediately obvious from the objectives themselves that, for theosophists, ‘science’ meant the occult sciences and philosophy, the occulta philosophia, that the laws of nature were of an occult or psychic nature, and that comparative religion was expected to unveil a ‘primordial tradition’ ultimately modelled on a Hermeticist philosophia perennis.”[48]    A prominent component of Mrs. Blavatsky’s writings was the emancipation of women, which involved an attack on the ‘male’ God of Judaism, of Christianity and of Islam. She urged people to return to the mother-goddess of Hinduism and to the practice of feminine virtues. This continued under the guidance of Annie Besant, who was in the vanguard of the feminist movement. Wicca and ‘women’s spirituality’ carry on this struggle against ‘patriarchal’ Christianity today.”[49]

 

The authors of the New Age Almanac say, “Theosophy became the seedbed that nurtured the important new movements that would emerge so forcefully in the twentieth century.  Several hundred new occult organizations can be traced directly to the Theosophical Society.  For example, drawing upon the esoteric work initiated by Theosophy, ritual magicians have attempted to attain the mastery of the world through occult means in a measure only hinted at in theosophical circles.    Theosophy also nurtured a reborn astrology. …  Beginning with minuscule astrological groups in the late nineteenth century, astrology made an astounding comeback to become the most pervasive popular occult practice in the latter part of the twentieth century.  Theosophy also provided the prime channel through which Hinduism and Buddhism reached out to claim non-Asian supporters.  Through theosophical literature, leaders, and centers, Eastern religious ideas flowed into the West.    Many of the early Buddhist groups in the West began in theosophical lodges.  Ultimately, however, Theosophy proved itself more akin to Hinduism, and the new Hinduism of the Indian Renaissance of the nineteenth century used Theosophy effectively in its movement to Europe and North America.    Finally, through the success of theosophical disciples such as Edgar Cayce, reincarnation reached a popular audience beyond the Theosophical Society and earned the acceptance of the vast majority of the metaphysical community.”[50]

 

Another observer of new religious movements says, “Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, Krishnamurti, J. I. Gurdjieff, and P. D. Ouspensky all stem directly from the activities of the Theosophical Society, and the development of modern Buddhism, and especially in its indigenous form in present-day Sri Lanka, is largely due to Olcott’s work.”[51]  (Olcott and Blavatsky were co-founders of the Theosophical Society.)

 

Marcus Braybrooke, a leading historian of the interfaith movement, said in 1992 that “Theosophists can claim to have been amongst the first to suggest a unity of religions.”[52]  He added, “The society insists that it is not offering a new system of thought, but merely underscoring certain universal concepts of God, nature and man that have been known to wise men in all ages and that may be found in the teachings of all the great religions.  Emphasis is placed on mystical experience.  A distinction is made between inner, or esoteric, and outer, or exoteric, teaching.  It is said that all the historic world religions contain inner teaching which is essentially the same, despite external differences.  This teaching is monistic in character, suggesting an underlying all-encompassing unity.  Theosophy has also shown a preoccupation with the occult.    Theosophy has been a means of introducing many Westerners to the wisdom of the East.  Some theosophists, notably Henry Steel Olcott and Annie Besant, played a part in the spiritual renaissance of Buddhism and Hinduism at the end of the last century and the beginning of this century.  Besides the Theosophical Society, the teachings of theosophy have influenced Westerners through a variety of other organizations, such as Rosicrucianism, the Liberal Catholic Church, World Goodwill, and the Lucis Trust.”[53]

 

Dr. Stephan Hoeller, Director of Studies for the Gnostic Society of Los Angeles, says, “C. G. Jung’s statement that Blavatsky’s Theosophy as well as Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy (a variant of Theosophy) were both pure Gnosticism in Hindu dress contains a large measure of truth.”[54]

 

Historian K. Paul Johnson, who has written several scholarly histories of Theosophy, said: “A remarkable feature of Theosophy’s history is the disparity between its miniscule membership and its vast and varied cultural influence.   Blavatsky’s ideas inspired leading figures in the development of modern art, most notably Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian.  Theosophical influence in literature affected the Irish Literary Renaissance, in which William Butler Yeats and AE (George Russell) were prominent.  Political activism in colonial India and Ceylon owed an immense debt to Theosophical influence.  In the West, many social movements such as educational reform, women’s suffrage, and abolition of capital punishment were advanced by the efforts of early Theosophists.  But in no field of endeavor has Theosophy’s influence been as great as in introducing Eastern religious ideas to the Western public.”[55] 

 

Joscelyn Godwin, author of The Theosophical Enlightenment, said that Theosophy and its offshoot movements were an historically unprecedented rejection by a civilization of its own tradition.  Blavatsky “believed that the West had better look to the East if it wanted to learn what real philosophy was (or to relearn what it once knew).  With equal certainty she despised every form of institutional Christianity.  As a result, her Society, its members, and its offshoots became the main vehicle for Buddhist and Hindu philosophies to enter the Western consciousness, not merely as an academic study but as something worth embracing.  In so doing, they paved the way for the best and the worst of the oriental gurus who have taken up residence in the West.  They introduced into the vernacular such concepts as karma and reincarnation, meditation, and the spiritual path.  Together with the Western occult tradition, the Theosophists have provided almost all the underpinnings of the ‘New Age’ movement. …  But these efforts themselves are something characteristically Western.  … No previous civilization has ever had the interest, the resources, or the inner need to hold the entire world in its intellectual embrace; to take the terrifying step of renouncing, even blaspheming, its own religious tradition, in the quest for a more open and rational view; to publish freely those secrets that were formerly only given under the seal of initiation; and, in short, to plunge humanity into the spiritual alembic in which we find ourselves today.”[56]



 

Note: Internet citations were done during 2003 and 2004.  Documents may have moved to different Web pages, or may have been removed from the Web entirely, since then.

 
[1] Charles Upton states, “Blavatsky took for her own use little more than the terminology of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Almost every application she made of concepts from these religions was erroneous.”  (E-mail from Charles Upton to Lee Penn, 03/23/04.)

[2] For further information on the teachings of the Theosophical movement (Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, David Spangler, Neale Donald Walsch, Robert Muller, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Benjamin Creme, see Lee Penn, “New Age and Globalist Strategies: Unity, Collectivism, & Control,” Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Vol. 23:4-24:1, 2000, pp. 42-70, and “Dark Apocalypse: Blood Lust of the Compassionate,” Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Vol. 24:2-24:3, 2000, pp. 8-31; obtainable through http://www.scp-inc.org.

[3] Sylvia Cranston, HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994, p. 333 ff., on Lucifer magazine.

[4] Joscelyn Godwin, The Theosophical Enlightenment, State University of New York Press, 1994, p. 281.

[5] See, for example, the title page of Alice A. Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar, First Edition, Lucifer Publishing Co., 135 Broadway, New York City, 1922.

[6] The Steiner biography on the Anthroposophic Press web site does not mention the 1913 break between Steiner and Theosophy (Anthroposophic Press, “About Rudolf Steiner,” http://www.anthropress.org/aboutrudolf.html, printed 03/24/04.)  Instead, it begins with Steiner’s brief description of Anthroposophy, written in 1904, while Steiner was the head of the German branch of the Theosophical Society:  “Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. It arises in people as a need of the heart and feeling life. Anthroposophy can be justified only to the degree that it satisfies this inner need. It may be acknowledged only by those who find within it what they themselves feel the need to seek. Therefore, anthroposophists are those who experience, as an essential need of life, certain questions on the nature of the human being and the universe, just as one experiences hunger and thirst. – Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, 1904.”   This publishing house reprints Steiner’s works, from his Theosophical period and from his post-1912 Anthroposophical period, without setting forth a philosophical break between the periods.  The editor of Steiner’s Spiritualism, Madame Blavatsky, and Theosophy says, “Rudolf Steiner’s perhaps even greater contribution, as we shall see, was to remove the dust of the past and Blavatsky’s prejudices and place both method and teachings squarely in the evolutionary development of human consciousness.  It is important to remember, however, that Rudolf Steiner did this as a Theosophist, within Theosophy.  Anthroposophy, which he taught from the beginning, began as, and was for the first ten years of his public (and private) esoteric work, explicitly his contribution to Theosophy.”  (Christopher Bamford, “Introduction,” pp. 15-16, in Rudolf Steiner, Spiritualism, Madame Blavatsky, and Theosophy: An Eyewitness View of Occult History, ed. by Christopher Bamford, Anthroposophic Press, 2001.)  [ For further information on Rudolf Steiner, see Carrie Tomko, “Anthroposophy: The Occult Influences of Rudolf Steiner,” Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Part I, Vol. 25:2-25:3, 2001, pp. 66-70, and Part II, Vol. 25:4-26:1, 2002, pp. 60-70; obtainable through http://www.scp-inc.org.]

[7] Theosophical Society in America, “Introduction to the Theosophical Society,” http://www.theosophical.org/society/intro/index.html, printed 07/19/04.

[8] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 515.

[9] Ibid., p. 420.

[10] Fred Matser, “Nature Is My God,” an interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, Resurgence 184,  http://resurgence.gn.apc.org/184/gorbachev.htm, printed 05/20/03 and 07/19/04.  Resurgence describes itself as “the leading international forum for ecological and spiritual thinking, where you can explore the ideas of the great writers and thinkers of our time, both in print and on-line” (Resurgence, home page, http://resurgence.gn.apc.org/home.htm, printed 05/20/03).

[11] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. I — Cosmogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 381, footnote.

[12] Ibid., pp. 70-71.

[13] Ibid., pp. 193-194.

[14] Ibid., p. 198.

[15] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 237.

[16] Ibid., p. 243.

[17] Ibid., p. 377.

[18] Ibid., p. 512

[19] Ibid., p. 513.

[20] Ibid., pp. 507-508.

[21] Ibid., p. 508.

[22] H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. II, Theology, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., p. 544.

[23] Bishop John S. Spong, “A Call for a New Reformation,” http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/vox20598.html, Thesis 2, printed 07/19/04.

[24] H  P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. II, Theology, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., p. 341.

[25] Bishop John S. Spong, “A Call for a New Reformation,” http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/vox20598.html, Thesis 5, printed 07/19/04.

[26] H  P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. I, Science, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., p. 130.

[27] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 512.

[28] H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. II, Theology, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., p. 639.

[29] Ibid., p. 639.

[30] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. I — Cosmogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 228, footnote.

[31] H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. I, Science, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., p. 296.

[32] Ibid., p. 296.

[33] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism, New York University Press, 1992, pp. 218-219.

[34] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 421, footnote; see also pp. 162, 168, 195, 196, 197, 249, 446, 779, and 780 for similar statements.  On p. 425, she contradicts these statements, and argues against “dividing humanity into superior and inferior races.”

[35] Ibid., p. 446.

[36] Ibid., pp. 779-780.

[37] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. I — Cosmogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., pp. 410-411.

[38] Charles Upton adds, “There is no better illustration of how mixing constellations-of-symbols integral to different religions can result in Satanic parodies. To assimilate to Jehovah and Christ the seven-headed cobra who overshadowed Gautama Buddha’s meditation is, in Judeo-Christian terms, to assimilate Jehovah to Satan and Christ to Antichrist.”  (E-mail from Charles Upton to Lee Penn, 08/21/04).

[39] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism, New York University Press, 1998, p. 35.  He says, “Despite the universalism of Theosophy, its Aryans and swastika had a potent influence on mystical racism in Germany and Austria from the late 1890s onward.”

[40] Steven Heller, The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption?, Allworth Press, 2000, pp. 47-48; an example of this image is on p. 48.

[41] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism, New York University Press, 1992; Steven Heller, The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption?, Allworth Press, 2000, pp. 41-78.

[42] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, 2002, pp. 85-86.  Another recent account by a journalist says the same: “The rationale behind many later Nazi projects can be traced back – through the writings of von List, von Sebottendorff, and von Liebenfels – to ideas first popularized by Blavatsky.  A caste system of races, the importance of ancient alphabets (notably the runes), the superiority of the Aryans (a white race with its origins in the Himalayas), an ‘initiated’ version of astrology and astronomy, the cosmic truths coded within pagan myths  . . . all of these and more can be found both in Blavatsky and in the Nazi Party itself, specifically in the ideology of its Dark Creature, the SS.  It was, after all, Blavatsky who pointed out the supreme occult significance of the swastika.  And it was a follower of Blavatsky who was instrumental in introducing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to a Western European community eager for a scapegoat.” (Peter Levenda, Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult, Continuum, 2002, p. 40).  The Protocols were an anti-Semitic forgery composed in France in the late 1800s, plagiarized and modified from Maurice Joly’s 1864 satire of the regime of Napoleon III, Dialogue aux enfers entre Montesquieu et Machiavel.   James Webb, a historian of occult movements, says, “It is probable that the forgery entered Russia with Yuliana Glinka (1844-1918), the daughter of a Russian diplomat who spent her time in Paris and St. Petersburg and was a Theosophist devoted to Madame Blavatsky.”  (James Webb, The Occult Establishment, Open Court, 1976, p. 217, for the quote and for the overview of the history of the Protocols.)  Charles Upton comments, “The swastika is an ancient (Paleolithic) and nearly universal symbol of Divine action, with no sinister connotations until its use by the Nazis and their precursors. In modern times it appeared on Rudyard Kipling’s books, and was even the emblem of the British War Savings Scheme during World War I. But its continued use by the Theosophical Society after World War II is as sinister as can be.” (E-mail from Charles Upton to Lee Penn, 8/21/04).

[43] H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. I, Science, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., p. 613.

[44] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., pp. 378-379.  Charles Upton comments on Blavatsky’s theological confusion: “It is true that many archaic Near Eastern religions, as well as Hinduism and Buddhism, took the serpent as a symbol of wisdom, a meaning which is undoubtedly reflected in the brazen serpent of Exodus. But the dominant meaning of the serpent in the Judeo-Christian tradition is clearly negative; it most often symbolizes not Divine Wisdom but rather a lower dualistic knowledge, the ‘knowledge of good and evil,’ which obscures Divine Wisdom. Furthermore, the essentially negative Judeo-Christian symbol of the dragon is derived from such Babylonian figures as Tiamat (equivalent in many ways to the Biblical Leviathan), the Chaos Monster who is slain in the Divine act of creation; this is basically what “dragon-slaying” has come to mean in the West. In China, on the other hand, the dragon is the Celestial Power, nearly equivalent to the Christian Holy Spirit. For Blavatsky to confuse the dragons of the East and the West shows “comparative religion” at its absolute worst, since it necessarily identifies the dragon of the Apocalypse with the Holy Spirit and the Celestial Dragon of China with Satan. One cannot  presume to compare religions until one at least shows a willingness to understand them in their own terms.” (E-mail from Charles Upton to Lee Penn, 08/21/04).

[45] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 378.

[46] H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: Vol. II, Theology, Theosophical University Press, 1988 reprint of 1877 ed., “Preface to Part II,” p. iv.

[47] H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Vol. II — Anthropogenesis, Theosophical University Press, 1999 reprint of 1888 ed., p. 228.

[48] For the sentences inside the double quote marks, the Vatican was citing Wouter J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, State University of New York Press, 1998, p. 449.  Charles Upton comments, “The Traditionalist School [Schuon, A. Coomaraswamy, Guénon, et al.] also speaks of a ‘primordial tradition,’ but denies that this tradition can function as a viable religious dispensation in our time. All religions ultimately spring from the same root; as the Jews and Muslims say, Adam was the first prophet. But the tree has branched since those times, symbolized in Genesis by the fall of the Tower of Babel and the ‘confusion of tongues’; the only paths to God are now the various revealed religions. A revived ‘religio perennis’ can only be a counterfeit universalism leading to the regime of the Antichrist.” (E-mail from Charles Upton to Lee Penn, 04/27/04).

[49] Pontifical Council For Culture and Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue, “Jesus Christ The Bearer Of The Water Of Life: A Christian reflection on the “New Age,” 2003, section 2.3.2, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html, printed 02/3/03.

[50] J. Gordon Melton, Jerome Clark, and Aidan A. Kelly, New Age Almanac, Visible Ink Press, 1991, pp. 6-7.

[51] George D. Chryssides, Exploring New Religions, Cassell, 1999, p. 87.  Charles Upton notes, however, that “Gurdjieff probably lifted something from Blavatsky, but his core teachings stem from Sufi and Hesychast practices taken illegitimately out of context and mixed with other influences, notably hypnosis and psychic control.  Krishnamurti as a young man was adopted by the Theosophical Society who trained him for the role of their new ‘World Teacher,’ a role he rejected.  His own later teachings could be called the polar opposite of those of the Society.”  (E-mail from Charles Upton to Lee Penn, July 2, 2003.)

[52] Marcus Braybrooke, Pilgrimage of Hope: One Hundred Years of Global Interfaith Dialogue, Crossroad, 1992, p. 266.

[53] Ibid., p. 267.

[54] Stephan A. Hoeller, Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing, Quest Books/Theosophical Publishing House, 2002, p. 169.

[55] K. Paul Johnson, Initiates of Theosophical Masters, State University of New York Press, 1995, p. 113.

[56] Joscelyn Godwin, The Theosophical Enlightenment, State University of New York Press, 1994, p. 379.  An alembic is a laboratory device used for distillation.


====================================================

This is an excerpt from the November 2004 draft of False Dawn.

To read this chapter in its final, published form - and to read the rest of the book - Click Here.

To read the PDF file of the Book on-line  Click Here.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Published by The M+G+R Foundation with permission of the author and publisher

The M+G+R Foundation
About Us and Frequently Asked Questions


 
PAGE of INTRODUCTION to The M+G+R Foundation DOMAIN

HOME PAGE

 HOME PAGE - Español

HOME PAGE - Portugues

Back Up HOME PAGE
 

Our Research Department

To Search for Information Within Our Domain Click Here


Document Indexes:  - Sorted by Title  and Sorted by File Name

Future Use

Please Note:
If the above dated image does not appear on this document, it means that you are not viewing the original document from our servers. Should you have reason to doubt the authenticity of the document, we recommend that you access our server again and click on the "Refresh" or "Reload" button of your Browser to view the original document.

If you wish to contact The M+G+R Foundation, please Click Here and follow the instructions.