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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- January, 1999
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"Theosophy and Politics," by Eldon Tucker
"Point Loma Publications is Now on the Internet,"
by Michael E. Bartlett
"Blavatsky Net Update," by Reed Carson
"The Personification of Barriers to the Path,"
by Annette Rivington
"The End of THEOSOPHIA"
"Considering the Tarot," by Gerald Schueler
"Inner Certainty," by Eldon Tucker
"The Brahmanical Code," by Dallas TenBroeck
"Women in the Theosophical Movement," Part II, by James Santucci
"The Source and Value of the 'Mysteries,'" by H. S. Olcott
> Experience, it is said, makes a man wise. That is very silly talk.
> If there were nothing beyond experience it would simply drive him
> -- Soren Kierkegaard, THE JOURNALS OF SOREN KIERKEGAARD, 126
THEOSOPHY AND POLICICS
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a May 4, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Theosophy is a religious philosophy, sometimes called the Wisdom
Tradition. It is not simply an intellectual pursuit, important
as the mind is. It is not based upon devotion or worship, nor
upon well-intentioned social work. Theosophy is rather a study
of the highest form of understanding, a study that necessitates
the practice of unselfishness, and of spirituality in the
We are not given specific morals and ethics, but rather taught
how to understand ethical thought, and to derive what is right
through an understanding of the nature of right and wrong. There
is not a rigid adherence to some arbitrary set of rules, like the
Judaic ten commandments. Rules are to help the laggards of
humanity, those who would fall behind the rest of us, without
some external assistance. When we've developed our innate
saintliness, we can directly perceive what is right, without
having to refer to an external rulebook.
With regard to politics, we are taught to obey the law of the
land, to be faithful citizens of the nation which we call our
home. We must act according to our conscience, but accept the
consequences, like Socrates did, in ancient days.
Theosophical groups promote an open forum for the study of the
Ancient Wisdom. There are little requirements of members except
for an acceptance of universal brotherhood, and for respectful
tolerance of the views of others
(The freedom of belief, and the wide tolerance of differing
views, though, does not mean that Theosophy is anything that
anyone wants it to be. There is a definite, well-defined
philosophy that can be studied. It is possible, with some study,
to distinguish theosophical ideas from countless personal
speculations of untrained minds. While it is true that behind
anyone and anything we see, there is a spark of the divine, it
would be incorrect to generalize this to say that behind any word
that someone may utter, there's a pearl of divine wisdom.)
Theosophical groups are not officially connected to any political
or religious organization. There is no attempt to promote one
church over others, nor to promote one political party or agenda
over the rest. Religious and political practices are left up to
individual conscience, and neither are considered important in
the long run. Theosophy looks at the big picture. Even 50,000
years hence, none of the current-day religions or political
systems will be around. Theosophy deals with the timeless, with
parts of us that transcend the present-day world.
We find that in some religions that there are political
organizations. The Catholics have had their Jesuits with a dark
history of meddling in politics, and the Moslems have extremist
groups promoting terrorism. There have been many horrors
promoted in the name of organized religions, like, for instance,
the Crusades and the Inquisition.
Theosophy teaches self-responsibility. We are taught to practice
unselfishness, to seek the betterment of humanity. Being good
citizens, concerned for the welfare of our neighbors, and in a
general sense for our fellow inhabitants of planet earth, we can
never condone violence or oppression in any form.
The world is not bettered by political manipulation. Passing
some law, devising new ways to regulate the lives of others, we
do not really change or better them. People are not mindless
puppets, made to do whatever external influences tell them. By
watching TV, for instance, someone is not "made" to do stupid,
awful things! And by passing a law to say that people smile at
others, we do not make them friendly.
How do we better things? We better things for others by giving
them the same freedoms that we want for ourselves. We do not ban
or burn books, but encourage the free exchange of ideas.
Although we are left up to our own to decide what religion and
politics that we may practice, we are taught that there are
higher things than politics and organized religion. We are
taught of a path of spiritual evolution, self-devised, lonely,
but infinitely rewarding, that leads to an inner wealth beyond
compare! Obtaining and sharing that wealth is the highest good!
POINT LOMA PUBLICATIONS IS NOW ON THE INTERNET
by Michael E. Bartlett
Continuing the 20th century expression of living Theosophy
established by Katherine Tingley at Point Loma California, Point
Loma Publications, Inc. gladly announces for the first time,
placement of the entire catalog on the Internet.
The "on-line catalog of publications" effectively makes available
extremely rare and valued teachings of the Wisdom Traditions to
anyone worldwide within reach of the Internet.
The student of the Mysteries will find titles both classic and
new on the teachings as given through H.P. Blavatsky, Katherine
Tingley, G. de Purucker relating classic knowledge of Universal
Wisdom as well as many research tools for the erudite scholar.
The custodians of these teachings have labored generations to
keep this body of knowledge intact and undiluted for those
seeking the highest path of life.
The Wisdom Traditions bookstore exists to serve the business
needs of Point Loma Publications and to provide a continuing
forum for the outreach of the Eastern and Western wisdom
Please navigate to this Internet site by directing your browser
to the following address:
There you will find many book listings organized by subject
sections with informative descriptions of each title. These
sections include topics on Cosmogony, Esoteric Teachings, Ethics,
Evolution, History, Mysticism, Language, Reincarnation, and of
Additionally, you will find information about the Wisdom
Traditions Bookstore, located in San Diego, California, and the
many events, classes, and seminars available there to the public
which is listed in the "Events Calendar."
BLAVATSKY NET UPDATE
by Reed Carson
BN is delighted to announce that it has exended an offer to
Daniel Caldwell (well known and respected for his contributions
on the internet and elsewhere) to become "Director of Research"
of the Blavatsky Net Foundation.
Daniel has accepted the position and agree to offer his
considerable skills and knowledge to help Blavatsky Net
Foundation. His very useful page "online reading room" that he
has developed is now featured near the top of the BN homepage in
the "Theosophy online" section.
Other important material that he has developed will also be
placed on this site. We will be particularly appreciative of his
help with the choice of material and comments in the bookstore.
He has already begun contributing behind the scenes and we offer
him here a public "Thank you".
We will be re-launching the online BN-study discussion list
probably some time in January. Currently we are examining
various email software packages and hoping to find the best
The discussion list is intended to focus on the teachings of
Theosophy. Participants will receive seven of the
quotes-of-the-day, once each week as we progress through the
Secret Doctrine from the beginning to the end. A digest form,
sent perhaps once per week, will be available.
To prevent a repeat of what occured at the last launching of
BN-study, we have made many changes.
First, we turned
the indicator off (meaning no participation) for many individuals
in order to be sure that those who are on the list really wanted
it. So now many of you, to be included in the list must go
back to your membership record and check "yes".
A second major change is that the list will be "moderated" -- for
an indefinte time or maybe just for an introductory period. That
means all emails go to a moderator's desk before being sent
onward to the group. This is for the protection of the group to
The outburst of spontaneous, positive, enthusiasm at the first
lauching of BN-study was, in my experience, unparalled. I thank
all those who spoke up positively and hope we will resume in the
At the end of November an unexpected death in the family required
me to immediately drop everything and fly from New York to the
interior of India. This accounts for the lack of the regular
email from me to members on December 1. It also explains a delay
in development of various items at this site.
While returning home to New York, we stopped in Bombay (now
called Mumbai) and had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with
the publishers of the monthly magazine "The Theosophical
Movement." We have always thought highly of that magazine and
particularly of its regular feature "In the Light of Theosophy".
(This feature covers current developments in science and the
world and relates them to the teachings of Theosophy. I have
thought for some time, if I may say so, that it is the best of
its genre. It also happens to be an excellent fit with this
We feel strongly that this monthly information has great value
and should be readily available to the world on the internet --
and the publishers of the magazine have agreed. So there is now
a click for it on the homepage in the Confirmation Section as "In
the Light of Theosophy". If you are at all interested we hope
you will have a look.
This month we have also introduced an "inspirational quote of the
week". We hope this will complement the "study quote of the day"
that will be used as part of BN-study. In contrast, this new
inspirational quote of the week we hope will offer something that
speaks to the heart and perhaps offer meaningful Theosophical
help in our daily living.
We expect it usually to be short and drawn from wide ranging
sources. We think you will enjoy the quotes that are being lined
up. If you have any suggestions or comments concerning this new
item please email them to email@example.com. We thank Odin
Townley for suggesting this idea and he will be responsible for
maintaining these quotes.
Regarding software development ... during November and December
much progress was made on the software behind this site. Besides
being a necessity for handling the growth this site is
experiencing, the software has the potential for helping along
the Theosophical movement.
The "member profile report" shows information in a quite
interesting way that members have chosen to reveal to others
about themselves. As time goes on, this has the possibility of
helping Theosophists all around the world to meet each,
potentially forming study groups and advancing the cause.
In December we added a sophisticated feature to that report
whereby email addresses do NOT show but members CAN nevertheless
send email messages to other members. (This is accomplished by
having the underlying BN software handle the email and preserve
the privacy of the recipient.)
As soon as we can, we will arrange for that report to be sorted
geographically, by country, by state/province and by city to
facilitate finding each other.
The software is operating now, for the most part, as we intend
it. Some of you are not receiving the quote of the day though
you wanted it. Check out your member record to fix it. Some of
you have not marked the information you submitted as "visible".
Now you may want to check out the privacy feature described above
that keeps your email private and possibly switch your record to
"visible". Some of you are not subscribed to BN-study and may
want to be.
At this turn of the year there are about 600 members of Blavatsky
Net and the total accumulated visitor count to the homepage is
about 57,000. It is an interesting display of the progress made
by this site that 40,900 of those visits occured during 1998.
With this support from people all over the world, we look forward
to 1999 with enthusiasm and a comittment to service.
[See http://www.blavatksy.net for more information.]
THE PERSONIFICATION OF BARRIERS TO THE PATH
by Annette Rivington
[based upon a August 29, 1998 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Although I know only a little myself about anything on the unseen
side of the world and might speculate at length based on hearing
of many experiences such as described on the Internet, it seems
pertinent to say only that it is evident to me that part of the
human experience is to be impacted by (and to impact)
extra-physical states via the physical senses.
It also seems that once one is aware of alternate states,
paradoxically, some humans can experience more vividly by means
of various "sensory deprivation" techniques and some humans can
achieve same by "hightening the senses" in deeper contact with
the physical, and some just experience alternate states naturally
This is strong evidence for me that other states exist (in the
times of doubt that is). When I experience for myself, I believe
(in my reality). My process of test and belief seems to be one
of individual freedom from impact by the experiences and beliefs
of others. THIS may not be possible!
Thus, if one accepts two basic factors that seem to be in
evidence: that "other than base physical" experience exists, and
that "other entities" experienced by one cannot not destroy one's
physical being directly, the task would seem to be one of
understanding the form, intent, and information being imparted by
I think it quite logical and acceptable that the human physical
form would "believe" that these experiences were more than
electrobiochemical and would accept these experiences as
communication between the non-physical and the physical states,
and hence does actively seek them out. Perhaps the motivation in
the seeking is the memory of or intuition about or desire to be,
more than bounded by the physical.
There seems to be little doubt that when one bounds oneself
within the totally physical, that is what one experiences and
hence perceives and explains the life experience as a solely
physical one, however when one practices rituals and thought
processes using the physical as a tool, one experiences beyond.
The problem is that all experience while in the physical is via
the physical, so that the beyond is translated into physical
terms. Some say that much is lost in the translation, others
that much is gained. Some say that it is a memory or gift,
others that it must be released or learned. Whatever the method,
it would seem that an understanding of the process and the
results of (if one chooses to analyze rather than simply accept
as is) requires knowledge of all aspects of existence (brain
chemistry and OBE's being two examples). No subset explains the
whole experience to any satisfaction.
Someone might meditate, do chanting exercises, and end up with
frightening hallucinations. Based on personal experience, my
observation is that all bounding of experience originates in and
is maintained by fear. Experience and knowledge (perhaps not two
things?) dispels fear.
An image that evokes fear may then come to someone doing a
spiritual practice. In my case, the face of fear comes in the
form of a snake. I have "seen" snakes during the day at the
office and outside. I have "seen" people's faces snakelike when
talking to them. I have been shadowed by and bitten in the heart
chakra by a massive hooded cobra in dream and meditation. In the
dreams or visions, snakes are not frightening to me.
There is a lesson to be found in the fear image. I have studied
what the snake-image represents. I learned that ancient
interpretation of snake visions is that change is in process,
that knowledge and wisdom is being offered. I also learn that
ancients had explanations for all the "forms" that appeared to
As I experience and learn, and work through my fears, none of the
experiences are terrifying. As I incorporate into and release
from myself an interim level of understanding about these forms,
I use them to "help" me remain on a path that is often fearful.
I now wear a snake "charm" next to my heart when I desire to stay
strong in coping with change. This is simply an interim method
to keep my physical being in focus with a spiritual goal.
My goal currently is to move beyond the bounded dualistic state
of opposites (good or bad, ecstatic or frightening) to experience
whatever the all experience is (that I am capable of) without
fear, and to understand what it means. Perhaps this is simply
getting to know Self.
My path is individual. For me, going to a "holy man", or anyone
else, for a method to change or control my experiences will
arrest my discovery of myself and lead me into an experience of
the other's self. This would be a more or less valuable learning
experience on the way, but will not achieve what I perceive as
the purpose of this experience here or there. Whether the
experience is self-created or extra-self seems to matter little
as far as the self-learning experience is concerned, except in
times of doubt and fear!
THE END OF THEOSOPHIA
[THEOSOPHIA MAGAZINE was put out by Boris de Zirkoff from 1944
through 1981. Following is from the last issue of the magazine,
Summer 1981, published shortly after Boris' death.]
* To Our Subscribers
This worthy magazine concludes with a tribute issue to our
editor, Boris de Zirkoff, who has recently passed from this field
of action to a well-earned rest. Many of our readers have sent
in their thoughts of gratitude for Boris, and have expressed
their sympathy with the following idea:
The remaining funds for THEOSOPHIA MAGAZINE will be dedicated
towards the future printing of a brief memoir dictated to the
undersigned last Fall when Boris realized that his health was
failing rapidly. We know this idea finds support amidst our
Before presenting our tributes to him we quote below an excerpt
from a letter Boris wrote in 1946 to Professor Nicholas Roerich,
then in Punjab, India, which follows.
* The Great Work Goes On
Two years ago, I started to publish, as an experimental venture,
a little magazine over here -- "Theosophia," by name. It has
grown; it has acquired subscribers in other states, and now
abroad. We make no splurge and do not consider ourselves a great
success; but we are growing, and we seem to have become a
sounding board more or less ...
In spite of all the outward changes on the stage of Karmic
destiny, the Great Work goes on without interruption.
Difficulties temper our character, strengthen our fiber ...
Here in America the great watchword is GREED, and selfishness in
general. They have not suffered. They have succeeded in killing
vastly more people with car-accidents than they ever killed on
the battlefield. They had a financial boom right along. War has
made them even more materialistic, except for a few. Sometimes I
long for another setting, with people in whose heart there still
exists a love for the spiritual and the beautiful values of life.
But my duty must be here karmically, and so I try to plough up
the field which karma has indicated for my present work.
We try to hold the Vision undimmed, through the heavy fogs and
the many storms -- the Vision of a Greater Age. We bend our
forces towards it ... inspiring ourselves with that far off
picture of man's infinite potentialities. And though the climb
is hard at times, and though the wind is strong, and the clouds
hide from view the distant tops of the Spiritual Himalayas, we
try to listen in the silence of our inmost being to that strain
of Triumphant Music which comes at times -- when all is still --
borne on the inner ethers from the City of the Sun!"
Boris de Zirkoff
June 20, 1946
* To Whom It May Concern
This will serve to introduce my friend, Mr. Boris de Zirkoff, of
Los Angeles, California, editor of the COLLECTED WRITINGS OF
HELENA PETROVNA BLAVATSKY and of THEOSOPHIA.
Mr. Zirkoff comes of a noble Russian family of ancient lineage,
being in his own right a Baron and a grand nephew of Helena
Petrovna Blavatsky. He goes to Europe for research and on a
lecture tour, and any assistance given to him there by scholars,
librarians, and workers for better understanding between nations,
especially between the Orient and the Occident, will be greatly
appreciate by his many friends throughout the world.
Sincerely yours in Universal Fraternity,
W. Y. Evans-Wentz
Author of THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD,
TIBET'S GREAT YOGI MILAREPA, etc.
February 24, 1953
* In Memoriam
It is with the deepest personal regret that I have learned of the
death of Mr. Boris de Zirkoff. He was a close personal friend,
and I have known him as a most dedicated man who took upon
himself the momumental labor of making avaliable in print the
collected writings of Helena Petrnovna Blavatsky ... In 1950 the
Philosophical Research Society collaborated with Mr. de Zirkoff
in publishing Blavatsky's COLLECTED WRITINGS FOR 1883. On that
occasion a lasting friendship was established and has remained
unbroken for over thirty years. His accomplishments will be of
inestimable value to future generations of students in their
quest for esoteric wisdom. He has departed from this life to
join those servants of humanity in whose names and memories he
gave his full measure of devotion. May he have a time of rest
until his next assignment.
Manly P. Hall
* Few Have the Perseverance
Many dream dreams but few have the perseverance to bring their
vision into actuality. Favored by karma and an unwavering trust
in theosophy, for fifty-seven years Boris de Zirkoff pursued his
goal, appreciative of the hely of volunteers in many parts of the
world. As one who participated in the formative stages by typing
copy for the first volumnes of the "complete works project" as it
was then known, it was to me quite natural that in the closing
years of his life B. de Z. should seek to deepen his ties with
old friends and colleagues. His periodic visits to our library
and headquarters were mutually welcomed.
We salute you, Boris, with gratitude for making H. P.
Blavatsky's writings readily accesible for future generations of
earnest studests. The words of Disraeli might have been said in
your honor: "The key to success is constancy to purpose."
Grace F. Knoche
Theosophical Society International
* A Striking Example
Boris de Zirkoff stands out in my thoughts as a most striking
example of commitment to what his great relative, H.P. Blavatsky
called "the Cause." Theosophy was indeed his life, and he bore
witness to it in the clarity and one-pointedness of his
I first became acquainted with Boris through correspondence when
I was on the headquarters staff of the U.S. Section of the
Theosophical Society in Wheaton, Illinois. He never failed me
when I requested a contribution from him for THE AMERICAN
THEOSOPHIST, and his comments were invariably both cogently
expressed and enlightening. Later, I met him personally and came
to have a deep personal affection and regard for him, as well as
admiration for the tremendous work he was doing in making sure
that posterity would have the benefit of the priceless Blavatsky
writings. I found him always compassionate, always friendly,
always willing to go out of his way to see that no seeker ever
came to him in vain.
It is a privilege to pay tribute to a man of his inner greatness,
his never-tiring application to the task he had set for himself,
and the openness of heart with which he answered the aspirations
of others. He never seems very far away.
* Boris de Zirkoff: The Good Friend
In the Buddhist tradition, it is said that one of the
qualifications necessary for spiritual progress is that of being
a good friend (kalyana mitra). This means that one is available
for the discussion of spiritual matters, that one holds to the
truth of one's own being in all meetings with others, and that
one is ready with counsel or advice for those who may seek
Singularly devoted to his self-imposed task of collecting the
writings of H.P. Blavatsky, Boris de Zirkoff still had time to
be "the good friend." How often in letter or conversation, he
would respond to questions of mutual concern in our respective
fields of service to the Theosophical Movement! He was ever ready
with counsel, willing to share his own discoveries and insights
about the "mystery" that was HPB. As the years passed, our own
friendship grew richer and deeper, as Boris and I found in the
mutual respect for each other's commitment to Theosophy and for
each other's manner of serving that commitment in terms of our
respective loyalties, a common ground of understanding and
aspiration. External differences, therefore, gave way to a
higher allegiance, a transcendent aim, beyond the confines of
organizational structures. Working with Boris, sharing ideas by
means of an extensive correspondence or in the happy times of
direct conversation at his office, or at Wheaton, or at Adyar, or
any of the other places where we met for conventions and
conferences, was always richly rewarding. I invariably came away
from such occasions, as I turned from reading his letters, with a
new enthusiasm for, a new understanding of, the purpose of the
Theosophical Cause which meant so very much to each of us.
One statement stands out from all the letters Boris wrote to me;
it is a sentence with which he ended a letter sent me during a
period when I myself had been redefining my own work within the
Theosophical Society, and it is a sentence I have carried with me
ever since. Perhaps the words describe best the nature of his
own commitment, coming as they do from Boris -- "the good
> The only thing I live for and work for is the perpetuation and
> dissemination of genuine Theosophy whether it be through the
> words of H.P.B. or those who have remained true to her message
> and the instructions of Those standing behind her.
CONSIDERING THE TAROT
by Gerald Schueler
[based upon a May 30, 1995 posting to email@example.com.]
The number of trump cards (and minor arcana cards too) depends on
how you want to structure the universe. If you add cards, then
you must also add regions somewhere in the universe. While this
is easily done, it is not so easily accepted by the layman --
those who read the Tarot cards or those who feel that tradition
is important in the significance of symbolism. I feel that it is
very legit for the Enochian Tarot, because the Enochian universe
has a different structure from the Cabalistic universe. And, I
did not make it up, but rather it was given to John Dee by
Angels. (And who am I to argue with an Angel?)
According to HPB, monads that express themselves in our universe
cannot skip any of the cosmic planes. So, we must express
ourselves on each cosmic plane all the way down to the physical.
I interpret this to mean that we have a part of ourselves in each
major realm of the invisible universe -- and a subtle body
suitable for each cosmic plane. These are all "operative in our
lives" to some extent.
We are more than our physical body. So, we can assume that each
Tarot card, or at least each major arcana card, represents both
an external realm or deity, and an internal state or energy or
force as well.
When we look at a Tarot trump, we are looking at the symbols of
both an external and an internal state of our being. The Empress
is both a goddess and an archetype. The Hanged Man is symbolic
of both an external event (the descent of the Silent Watcher or
cosmic Christ) and an internal event (the sacrifice of our own
spiritual state of bliss in order to take on physical
manifestation). The Hierophant is both external Adept and inner
divinity. And so on with all of the trump cards.
The Tarot cards were originated long before modern psychology.
The designers, whoever they may have been, attempted to preserve
key religious, sociological, and psychological processes and
relationships, and yet had not the proper words in which to
express their ideas.
Their language was limited to expressing the experiences of the
common man of those times. For example, the notion of ego and
the subtle relationships between ego and the subconscious were
totally unknown to the common man, and thus no words had been
coined to express them. In short, their task was to preserve as
well as to disseminate the esoteric ideas realized by the highest
mind's of their day, but they had very limited exoteric means in
which to work.
Their answer to the problem was the use of symbols. H.P.
Blavatsky expressed this process when she wrote,
> The primitive purity of a creed can become soiled; its apostles
> can degrade and soil it by the inevitable admixture of human
> element. But its symbolism as the concrete expression of some
> now lost idea of the founder, will survive forever.
> -- COLLECTED WRITINGS, Vol XIII, page 300
Because the ancients couched their ideas in symbols, they have
survived through the centuries. Unfortunately, the meaning of
many of the symbols used has either become lost over the long
span of years, or has been changed in subtle ways. This has led
to the many discrepancies that exist in the numerous Tarot books
available today. Modern authorities each read into the symbols
their own biases and views, and in some cases, have deliberately
"refined" the cards to better reflect their own ideas.
The main symbolism used in the Major Arcana cards are as follows:
The Marseilles shows the fool as a court jester holding a baton
and standing near a cliff. This symbolism suggests silliness,
but perhaps a deliberate silliness. The Waite deck (this is the
popular name of the deck made famous by A.E. Waite) is more
complex. It shows a young wanderer holding a rose and a walking
stick, to which a bag is tied, walking off a cliff. A dog romps
at his side. This suggests a happy and carefree attitude that
could be dangerous. The Golden Dawn deck (this is the deck used
by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and was probably
created by one of its founders, McGregor Mathers) shows a naked
child holding the reins of a wolf while plucking fruit from a
tree. This symbolism, probably the most esoteric of any of the
cards, suggests that the fool is innocence, and that pure
innocence can check animal passions while surviving quite nicely
on what nature provides.
THE MAGICIAN OR MAGUS
The Marseilles deck shows a parlor magician going through a magic
act of some kind with various 'tools of the trade' on a table.
This is the popular view of the magician; one who does sleight of
hand, and who employs gimmickry. The Waite and G.D. decks are a
bit more sophisticated. They both show a true magician in robes,
with his four traditional weapons: a sword, a wand, a cup, and a
THE HIGH PRIESTESS
The Marseilles deck shows the goddess Junon (Juno), wife of the
god Jupiter and a peacock. The more traditional goddess shown
most other decks is Isis. The symbols here are lunar and suggest
a lunar or occult vision (for example, the intuition as opposed
to common sense).
Most all decks agree that this card is symbolized by a mature
woman wearing a crown and seated on a throne. This suggests the
feminine side of the psyche, perhaps the anima of Carl Jung, or
any strong feminine authority. She is the archetypal mother, the
ultimate feminine creator and provider.
Most all decks agree that this card is symbolized by a mature man
wearing a crown and seated on a throne. This suggests the
masculine side of the psyche, perhaps the animus of Carl Jung, or
any strong masculine authority. He is the archetypal father, the
ultimate masculine creator and provider.
Like the Emperor, this card is usually shown as a mature man
wearing a crown and seated on a throne. The Marseilles deck
shows the god Jupiter. Some decks show this as the Pope or some
other religious leader which clearly distinguishes the difference
between the Hierophant and the Emperor; the former is religious
while the latter is civil or social. The symbolism here suggests
The Marseilles deck shows Cupid about to shoot one of his famous
arrows into a young couple. All decks show a man and woman
together, and the general theme is love. This card suggests the
union of opposites, especially masculinity and femininity, anima
and animus. Cupid is the symbol of romance, but one that is
usually governed more by emotions than by rational thought.
Most decks agree that the main symbol of this card is a chariot.
Usually a charioteer is also shown. The theme is powerful
deliberate motion toward a fixed goal and thus a victory over
space. The card symbolism suggests the spiritual impulse which
sooner or later will drive man to seek his true nature.
JUSTICE OR ADJUSTMENT
The main symbol for this card is a balance or scale used for
measuring weight. The scale is held by a goddess who holds an
upright sword. The symbolism represents karma, the law of cause
and effect, which seeks a balance or moderation in all things.
Almost all decks agree that the symbolism of the Hermit is an
older man in a robe holding a staff in one hand and a lamp in the
other. The lamp is a symbol of the inner light of truth. The
theme here is the wise old sage, the inner guiding light of
conscience illumined by the intuition.
THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE
The main symbol of this card is a wheel. The wheel is a symbol
for cycles, and the card represents the law of cyclic
manifestation. The original symbols of this card were meant to
portray the doctrine of reincarnation, as well as other cyclic
Most cards use the symbol of the lion in this card. The lion as
the "king of beasts" is a traditional symbol for strength. Some
cards also show a man, while others show a woman, who is
controlling the lion in some way. The theme here is controlled
strength, or inner resolve that is directed toward a goal.
THE HANGED MAN
The Hanged Man is just that, a man hanging upside down from a
wooden scaffle of some kind, usually in the form of a cross.
Most cards show the man with his left leg bent to form a cross
with his legs. The cross is the traditional symbol for
sacrifice. The theme here is the deliberate undergoing of a
selfless sacrifice, usually for the purpose of helping others.
Death is symbolized by a human skeleton. Sometimes the skeleton
is shown holding a sickle to suggest that death levels all living
beings. The theme is the process of death, which is an ending or
completion of something that we have known. Death also implies
change of some kind, a transformation.
This card is usually depicted by an angel who is pouring water
from one vase into another. The water is the "water of life" and
its being poured suggests that a necessary change of some kind is
taking place. The card symbols not only imply the skill or
ability that is required to 'get through' unwanted experiences,
but those needed to turn such experiences to your advantage in
The main symbol here is a devil. The Marseilles deck shows a
stereotyped middle-ages Christian concept of Satan complete with
horns and a forked tail. The Waite deck is much more refined,
showing the stereotyped version of a devilish black magician.
Most cards also show a naked man and woman chained to a block.
The theme is Black Magick and the card suggest slavery or
confinement. The symbolism strongly suggests the wrongness of an
THE LIGHTENING STRUCK TOWER
Almost all decks agree on the basic theme of this card. A stone
tower is shown being struck by a bolt of lightening with two
people falling from the destruction. The card suggests bad karma
of all kinds, but especially destruction and ruination. In at
least one sense, the card represents the Fall of Man, because the
lightening bolt is a symbol of an "act of God" that forces man to
fall from his protective tower, itself a symbol of a spiritual
environment, into an unprotected mortality.
The main symbol here is a star. One or more stars is shown over
the head of a goddess who is pouring water from two vases into a
pool. The goddess is usually shown naked, although the
Marseilles deck shows her partially clothed. She is Isis, the
goddess of nature, and the waters are the Waters of Life. She is
shown returning individual water into a collective pool, thus
indicating that nothing in life is ever lost. The theme here is
one of hope.
The main symbol here is the moon, and the cards of all decks
amplify the lunar theme with various symbols usually associated
with the moon. Most cards show two towers with a stream running
between them to illustrate the idea of relationships. A
scorpion, lobster, crayfish, or scarab, is often included to
represent the forces of regeneration. One or two dogs or jackals
are often shown to suggest the idea of the subconscious and the
underworld. The theme here is the astral world, the realm of
illusions and dreams.
The main symbol of this card is the sun which is almost always
shown with extending rays, and sometimes with a face to suggest
solar intelligence. The Marseilles deck shows a young couple
together under a sun. The Waite deck shows a naked child riding
a horse under a sun. The Golden Dawn deck shows two naked
children holding hands under a sun. The sun, as the generator of
light and heat, is the symbol for life and the forces of
Most decks represent Judgement with an angel blowing a horn above
a group of people. The heralding of a trumpet call as an act of
divine judgement is suggested here. The Waite deck shows people
standing in coffin-like boxes which suggest that an after-death
judgement is implied. The Golden Dawn card shows people
chest-deep in water implying a renewal or regeneration.
The last card of the Major Arcana includes the symbolism of the
four animals of the Apocalypse and of the vision of Ezekiel.
These are the bull, the lion, the eagle, and man. A naked woman
stands within a circular wreath. In the Marseilles deck, this
woman is the fourth animal, but in most decks she stands apart as
a central figure. Her symbolism as the mother of the universe is
clearly suggested in the Golden Dawn deck where the wreath is a
ring of twelve globes which are obviously the twelve
constellations of the Zodiac. The symbolism here suggests that
this card includes the entire universe: the physical, emotional,
mental, and spiritual planes of existence.
by Eldon Tucker
[based upon a May 11, 1995 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
One criticism of the doctrine of karma -- that we can't really
know it, or perhaps can't really communicate a knowledge of it --
is understandable. It represent one viewpoint or approach to
Theosophy that is held by some students. There are, however,
many different theosophical worldviews, and that uncertainty is
not found in all of them.
We are dealing with assumptions about the nature of knowledge,
and of how experience relates to what we know. Consider
something that is not in our personal experience. Say we're not
convinced that it is true, but others hold it to be real
according to their experience. Whom has the final say? With
metaphysical matters, where the proof is in the experience, and
the experience is not universally had by all, how do we proceed?
When we subject what we know, feel, or experience to severe
scrunity, it starts to break down. Krishnamurti, for instance,
attempted at times to reduce everything to the basic motivation
of fear. Does this mean that everything is constructed of fear?
No. Freud reduced everything to a sexual drive. Is everything
sexual? Again: No.
After a certain level of reductionism, things break apart into
their component elements, and they "die", the higher order
disappears, and the life has departed. Six basic questions, if
asked enough time, will do this: Who? What? Where? When? Why?
How? Consider how quickly we run out of answers for a child that
continues a series of Why's, eventually leaving us without an
Pushing an idea, an understanding to its limits, it starts to
break down. Does this mean that the idea is flawed? No, it means
that the idea has room for growth, that there is more for us to
learn about it. With continued study, deep though,
contemplation, the idea comes together again, and we can push it
farther. Our ideas, including the deepest mystical insights,
have their limits, and fall apart when pushed beyond those
limits. But when we study the mysteries that open up to us, as
our ideas break down, we learn more, and the ideas are unified
It is possible to throw everything open to doubt and uncertainty.
A healthy dose of skepticism is necessary in order to support
frequent reality checks. There are different forms, though, of
certainty, and not all are bad. It's wrong to be certain in the
rigid, unthinking adherence to external rules, formulae, and
words. But certainty grounded in experimentation and personal
experience is a healthy thing.
With the study of Theosophy, that personal experience is in using
a different way of thinking, sometimes called higher Manas. It
is not difficult, and does not require vast training. It
represents a form of inner experience that is different from
visions, psychic experiences, OOBE's, or dramatic external events
in life. With it, it is possible to explore and have experiences
in a metaphysical sense, in our theosophical studies. This type
of experience leads to a conviction, a certainty that comes from
a dynamic process, from an inner living link to a source of
learning, sometimes called one's Inner Teacher. One goal of the
Theosophical Movement may be to encourage people to discover and
appreciate this manner of contemplation, study, and knowing about
We have a dynamic process of inner reflection that paradoxically
increases our sense of uncertainty as we learn and grow. This
uncertainty represents growth pains, where our attention is drawn
to ponder those areas of our understanding that are ripe for
reflection, reexamination, and exploration. Picture a circle
that contains what we know. Outside the circle is the unknown.
We're aware of what we don't know by the boundary that the circle
marks off. As the circle grows, and we know more, the boundary
is also larger, and we are made more aware of how much there is
that we have yet to know. How do we transcend this? When we
transcend the sense of personal self, make the boundary fuzzy,
and embrace the outside. But that is a whole other topic of
In the ultimate analysis, the most healthy form of certainty is
from a sense of being grounded, deeply rooted in the spiritual,
where we have a solid connection with our inner source. With
that connection, we may still be thrown off source by accidents,
mistakes, and mishaps in life. But like a good compass, when
bumped, we always return to true north in our orientation. The
pull of the "north" is strong to us, and it is a shaping force in
THE BRAHMANICAL CODE
by Dallas TenBroeck
[A chapter taken from "On the Dhyani's Birthdays," November 16,
1998, a 20-page unpublished paper.]
HPB writes of the secret code long preserved in sound, words,
syllables, rhythms and measures in THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, xxi,
270-1. Many years ago a ULT student of brahmin descent who had
the ENTREE to certain brahmin societies was allowed to make a
"tape recording" which offers an example of the kind of
vibrational encoding employed by the ancient Brahmins for the
oral transmission of their wisdom and sciences.
This encoding requires special keys to make any sense of it as it
is a series of sounds and rhythms. A further code that enables
the sounds to be translated into current speech is needed, and
this is not revealed on this tape.
One must realize that every one of the sacred texts of ancient
India is an enormous repository -- a secret Encyclopedia of
information, and it would takes days, weeks, months to fully
prepare an oral decoding of any one text.
On this tape one may hear, at first, the usual method of public
chanting of a verse from the ATHARVA VEDA in ancient Sanskrit.
This is followed by the chanting of A SINGLE LINE in Sanskrit
from that verse -- and one hears an extended version of the words
used in terms of several permutations of sound and meter rhythms
that are used at this second level. This takes several minutes
The next section of the tape focuses on the FIRST WORD of the
original Sanskrit verse. Again the process of chanting offers
the verbal extension used; and it is chanted using a series of
particular sound patterns, intonations and rhythms over several
The fourth decoding takes for analysis or reproduction the FIRST
SYLLABLE of that original FIRST WORD -- and again it is
astounding to hear the variations of sound, pitch, vibration and
rhythm imposed on that single syllable when this is chanted and
And this is taught over many years to the several children of
those Brahmin families in the old way, "mouth to ear," until it
is PERFECT -- and they are trained to correct each other so that
the ORIGINAL intonations are retained.
It is also said that there are included certain cross-checks
which enable the masters of this craft to restore accuracy, as
any errors that might have been made by any one of the student
transmitters shows up as a variant at a key point. This permits
the master to review and find the exact point at which the change
occurred and then re-train the pupil to the needed accuracy.
Thus the oral transmission of the Vedic texts and their
commentaries continues down the ages from past to present, and
presumably will continue into the future.
Thanks to Dallas, the tape mentioned in this paper, is available
on the Internet in RealAudio format. The two sides of the tape
are available in two sizes, the first is with lower sound
resolution but much smaller file sizes to be downloaded; the
second is with higher sound resolution but substantially larger
file sizes. [Note that the tape is not in English -- it's in
* high resolution, 40 Kbps mono audio, 11 Khz frequency response
* side 1, 30:03 listening time, 9,220 KB download size
* side 2, 20:21 listening time, 6,224 KB download size
* low resolution, 05 Kbps mono audio, 04 Khz frequency response
* side 1, 30:03 listening time, 1,146 KB download size
* side 2, 20:21 listening time, 774 KB download size
* 15 second high resolution sample of side 1, 78 KB download
Each link will cause your web browser to download and start
playing the respective file. Before hte file finishes playing,
you can use RealAudio to save the file to disk, for future reply.
WOMEN IN THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, PART II
by James Santucci
[Originally published in EXPLORATIONS: JOURNAL FOR ADVENTUROUS
THOUGHT, vol. 9, no. 1, (Fall, 1990)]
Three women made unique contributions to Theosophy[37 Helena
Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), Katherine Tingley (1847-1929),
and Annie Besant (1847-1933). In a sense, all three serve as
models or archetypes for those who followed, and most
importantly, all three made it possible for women to continue to
play an important role in the societies.
H.P. Blavatsky, one of the founders of the original Theosophical
Society in 1875 and its chief theoretician, may be considered the
'other worldly' magus, i.e., a person who lives, with some
variation, the hero's life and who is in actuality a shaman in
modern guise. Katherine Tingley, the leader of the Universal
Brotherhood and Theosophical Society (as the Pasadena
Theosophical Society was called during her leadership),
emphasized the application of Theosophy in 'This World',
especially in the areas of education, the arts, and the peace
movement. She was the quintessential 'Social Feminist', a
term referring to those women whose primary concern was service
to society rather than the concern of broadening individual
opportunities for women. Annie Besant seems to fall somewhere
between Blavatsky and Tingley: like Blavatsky by further
uncovering the he same time taking on the role of the Veil of
Isis while at the 'Social Feminist' to heights rarely if ever
achieved before or since in her role as President of the T.S.
(Adyar) and as a leading political and moral leader in India.
HELENA PETROVNA BLAVATSKY
Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating women of the nineteenth
century, an adventuress who traveled the world, often without
escort, in search of the arcana of the cosmos from individual and
secret organizations scattered around the globe, a disciple under
the tutelage of highly advanced Masters or mahatmas, a psychic of
great power capable of producing paranormal phenomena such as
levitation, rappings, and materializations, a woman who
demonstrated her vast knowledge and control over occult laws, and
a writer of great force, persuasion, and erudition who claimed to
reveal the true nature of the Divine, humanity, and the cosmos,
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky epitomized the woman of mystery who
claimed to remove the veil of the cosmic mysteries but was
herself covered with a veil that she made sure would never be
removed. As suggested in the preceding section, she was a magus,
i.e. the shaman living in the modern world. Like magi that
preceded her, she supposedly traveled to the far reaches of the
world in search of the Divine Truth, and claimed to have received
that Truth after being initiated into an Esoteric Brotherhood
that possessed and preserved this Truth. We hear stories of her
residing in Constantinople, supposedly the city where the
greatest concentration of Sufis lived when she arrived there as
well as being a center of the Spanish Jews, many of who were
known for their knowledge of the Cabala; dressing in men's
clothing so that she could study the Osirian mysteries; spending
three nights in the Pyramid of Cheops, that paragon of mystery;
traveling to Nauvoo, Illinois to investigate the Mormon
community; wandering to Mexico and South America; even journeying
to California by covered wagon according to some accounts as well
as to India and Tibet; and meeting her Teacher and Master, the
gatekeeper to the Mysteries, in London in 1851--all this and much
more--before finally coming to the U.S. on orders, so she
claimed, from her Master to begin her main work of disclosing to
the initiated the insights into the nature of the Divine,
humanity, and the cosmos.
Like other magi, she displayed abilities, and though the charge
is often repeated that she was a charlatan, the investigative
organization that first suggested this (the Society for Psychic
Research) has since rescinded the accusation. Furthermore,
Blavatsky always commanded considerable attention as magi are
wont to do, also acting in ways that might be viewed as bohemian.
Although serving as a model for certain women leaders in the
modern Theosophical Movement, the model is not that of the
typical feminist who strives for either women's rights nor that
of the Spiritualist medium. Blavatsky seems to have exhibited a
combination of 'intuition' and self-sacrifice, two traits
assigned to the feminine personality m the nineteenth century,
with that of the teacher of 'Truth', a task usually assigned to
the masculine gender. All this seems to point to Blavatsky
having an androgynous personality and psyche, an important point
since the androgyne is viewed by many peoples around the world as
an exceptionally powerful being.
If Helena Blavatsky sought independence from the ties of society,
Katherine Tingley was very much an activist in the society of the
latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Born on July 6, 1847, Catharine Augusta Westcott displayed from
the time she was a young girl those qualities that were
characterized by her father as "generous", "unselfish"
self-sacrificing", "patient", and "enduring". She thereby
epitomized the ideal of womanhood as it was being defined in the
nineteenth century. Following in her mother's footsteps she
worked at her side feeding the poor near her home. As an adult,
she displayed comparable tendencies by organizing the Ladies
Society of Mercy in 1887, which carried out visitations to
hospitals and prisons; established the Emergency Society (1891-2)
to help the destitute; and established the Do-Good Mission to
feed and clothe the families of striking cloakmakers in 1892 and
This work, however, though commendable, was apparently not
entirely satisfactory or rewarding to her, for it only relieved
suffering, it did not remove its cause. As expressed in her
semi-autobiographical book, THE GODS AWAIT , it was William
Quan Judge, the leader of the American theosophists, who brought
her to this realization and who showed her, by word and example,
how she could better serve humanity. Mrs. Tingley thus became a
Theosophist because of her sincere admiration of Judge and
through the one teaching that apparently struck her as the most
basic: the Law of Eternal Justice or Karma , for it is Karma
that both explains the cause of misery and opens the way to its
cure. This indeed is the foundation of the theosophical teaching
as she understood it. Such a teaching, coupled with the notion
that there is a Higher Nature--the spark of the Divine within the
individual--which generates love and compassion for one's fellow
man in both a theoretical and practical vein by "lifting humanity
out of the shadows", reveals the meaning of Brotherhood for
Mrs. Tingley: a dynamic, activist interpretation taking
precedence over the theoretical and philosophical. From this
understanding, it is not difficult to understand why she
undertook the large number of the philanthropic projects from the
time that she became Leader of the Theosophical Society after
Judge's death in 1896. Her main contribution, however, revolved
around the establishment of the Point Loma Community in 1897,
which was, according to Dwayne Little "a demonstration model
showing how, when body, soul, mind, and spirit were in proper
alignment with Theosophical ideals, an ideal society worthy of
emulation would result. Most of her work was carried out in the
context of the Community: the education system established
therein and the sponsorship of the arts and music as an integral
part of that system, her numerous relief efforts such as the
Sisters of Compassion (1898), her efforts in organizing an
International Theosophical Peace Congress in 1913, the
establishment of the International Brotherhood League which
opposed capital punishment and offered prisoner assistance, and
her efforts in opposing vivisection.  It is no wonder that
shortly after Mrs. Tingley became Leader of the T.S. she merged
it with the newly formed Universal Brotherhood in early 1898, for
this title perfectly reflected her vision of Theosophy.
Annie Besant, the President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar)
from 1907 to 1933, synthesized the qualities of Blavatsky and
Tingley. Like Blavatsky, she was considered an innovative
teacher of the Wisdom Doctrine by introducing new insights into
the theosophical corpus, claimed to have been psychically gifted
and in contact with Blavatsky's teachers, and even lived for a
time in a rather bohemian life-style as a younger woman; like
Tingley, she was very much the Social Feminist and activist.
Unlike the two, however, she was involved in the political life
of India, becoming briefly the most influential leader in the
Indian nationalist movement prior to Gandhi's ascension in that
Prior to her involvement in the T.S., Annie Wood (her maiden
name) underwent several, often painful and radical
transformations in her belief system. As a young girl, she was
raised a Christian exposed to both Roman Catholicism and
Evangelism and predictably married a clergyman, Frank Besant, a
man whom she claimed never loved. After undergoing a long period
of anguish and doubt regarding her Christian beliefs, an anguish
she claimed nearly cost her life, she emerged an atheist.
While this doctrinal turmoil was occurring, she came under the
influence of the freethinker and atheist Charles Bradlaugh and
his National Secular Society. Around that time (1874 and after),
she advocated feminist causes, especially birth control (the
first woman to do so publicly), becoming also the secretary of
the Malthusian League. In December, 1876, she won a seat on the
London School Board; some fourteen months later (February, 1878),
she helped to organize the International Labor Union.
In 1884, she turned to Socialism and formally joined the Fabian
Society in early 1885, apparently nominated by a person who was
to have influence, both intellectually and romantically on her
life, George Bernard Shaw. In the following year, she
co-founded with her friend W.T. Stead, the editor of the PALL
MALL GAZETTE, the Law and Liberty League in order to provide
assistance to those jailed workers who demonstrated for free
speech in the "Bloody Sunday in Trafalgar Square" episode. The
League was organized to post bail and to argue the workers'
Another event of note in her role as Socialist was the
championing of the cause of the women who worked at the Bryant
and May match factory in 1888. The working conditions at the
factory were such that Besant and her new colleague, Herbert
Burrows of the Social Democratic Federation, instigated a boycott
of the factory and a strike by its workers, subsequently
establishing the Matchmakers' Union, thus becoming one of the
first to institute the "new Unionism."  Their actions proved
so successful that they organized a number of other worker
strikes that year and the next.
For all her activism in Socialist causes, Socialist philosophy,
and Socialist societies (she was by now a member of both the
Fabian Society and the Social Democratic Federation), there was a
sense of inadequacy of the philosophy. She writes:
> The Socialist position sufficed on the economic side, but where
> to the inspiration, the motive, which should lead to the
> realization of the Brotherhood of Man?
There was much talk at this time (1888) on the idea of
Brotherhood, remarked Mrs. Besant in an article in the February
issue of OUR CORNER, "in which service to Man should take the
place erstwhile given to the service of God. . ." But if
Socialism was insufficient, then where could it be realized? Her
attention was first drawn to the occult with the publication of
A.P. Sinnett's OCCULT WORLD and through Spiritualism from 1886
on, but it was her review of Blavatsky's THE SECRET DOCTRINE that
transformed her from Socialism to Theosophy.
> . . . how my mind lept forward to presage the conclusions, how
> natural it was, how coherent, how subtle, and yet how
> intelligible. I was dazzled, blinded by the light in which
> disjointed facts were seen as parts of a mighty whole. . . I
> knew that the weary search was over and the very Truth was
For a woman of such intelligence, insight, and yearning, no
simple reason can be given for her rapture. I have little doubt
that the complexity and organization of THE SECRET DOCTRINE
answered her own doubts at this time in her life. It seems
reasonable to assume that this was the impetus for her conversion
and joining of the Theosophical Society on May 10, 1889. Her
subsequent explanation to Charles Bradlaugh, listing the
Society's three objects (Universal Brotherhood, the study of
Aryan literature and philosophy, and the investigation of
unexplained laws of nature and the physical powers latent in man)
and the denial of a personal God, seems to indicate that they
only served as a convenient means of explaining both a very
complicated series of experiences and an inordinately complicated
philosophy embodied in Blavatsky's work.
One of the purposes of this essay was to call attention to the
insufficiency of simplistic and reductionist arguments explaining
why individuals are attracted to a religious movement, why they
remain in it, and why they thrive in it. This is one reason for
disagreeing with Dr. Bednarowski's theological, sociological,
and economic reasons cited at the beginning of this essay as
playing a major role in women's achieving leadership positions in
the Movement. What her four reasons indicate is that they, in
whole or in part, facilitated somewhat two of the leaders' role
and status within the Movement. Mrs. Besant's and Tingley's
reasons for joining the Society came about not through any
exclusively doctrinal decision but because of the profound
influence and force of example that Madame Blavatsky had on Mrs.
Besant and Mr. Judge on Mrs. Tingley. This influence,
accompanied with their acquaintance of the works and teachings of
Blavatsky and Judge, solidified their opinion of the two. Once
this occurred, a selected encapsulation and systematization of
Theosophy, such as the three objects of the Society and the
Propositions in THE SECRET DOCTRINE served as the message and
essence of this very complex philosophy. But once in the
Society, it was Besant's and Tingley's inborn talent that led to
their success and to rise above any gender discrimination that
may have existed at the time.
The role of Madame Blavatsky in the Theosophical Movement
presents an added dimension. In a sense, she and Madames Besant
and Tingley were doing women's work, albeit in an expanded
theater. If the role of women was perceived to be in the home,
the home itself could be expanded metaphorically to include not
only the immediate biological family but also the community at
large, including the religious sphere (in Church leadership or
Church-related activities and more secular social concerns,
including those covered by Socialism. Connected to the religious
sphere was the opinion that women were more naturally inclined to
communicate with the 'other world', thus affording women a role
that was every bit the equal of men or even superior to them.
Thus Spiritualism and the occult were natural realms of activity
for women, allowing Madame Blavatsky a unique position in the
nineteenth century since she was involved in both spheres. This
role was passed along to Mrs. Besant to a greater degree and to
Tingley to a lesser degree, but what they lacked in this area,
they more than made up in the social sphere. The success of all
three legitimized women's capacities to be leaders. In the
Theosophical Movement, this allowed for many women to assume
leadership positions in the normal course of events. In the
Theosophical Societies, Adyar and Pasadena, although women did
assume leadership positions following Besant and Tingley, it was
only in the 1970's that they did so. There IS no evidence pro or
con that this time gap was due to latent anti-feminist. My guess
is that the immediate successors to the two leaders were viewed
as natural successors because of their long history of service to
the Societies and their closeness to their predecessors: Dr. G.
de Purucker as the successor to Mrs. Tingley, Dr. George
Arundale as the successor to Mrs. Besant. The role of women
following the great leaders, however, does deserve an in-depth
study since there are many questions left unanswered.
37. By this I mean the Theosophical Society (Adyar) and the
Theosophical Society (Pasadena).
38. A term derived from William O'Neill's EVERYONE WAS BRAVE:
39. Paul Johnson, in an unpublished and untitled manuscript
emphasizing Blavatsky's Sufi connection, illustrates this
40. Moore, "The Spiritualist Medium": 201-203.
41. "J.P.L. Westcott's Statement No. 2" This is an unpublished
document that was written when Mr. Westcott was seventy-five
years old, which places the document around 1898.
42. Degler, AT ODDS: 298f, and Kathryn Sklar, CATHARINE BEECHER:
A STUDY IN AMERICAN DOMESTICITY (New York: W.W. Norton and
Company, Inc., 1973): 84-85, 96-97.
43. An unpublished chronology of events in the life of Mrs.
Tingley is in the Archives of the Theosophical Society
(Pasadena). See also Greenwalt, CALIFORNIA UTOPIA: 12f.
44. Point Loma: Woman's International Theosophical League, 1926:
45. THE GODS AWAIT: 81f.
46. Ibid., 81-115.
47. And embodied in the person W.Q. Judge, as she makes clear
in THE GODS AWAIT: 80.
48. "Katherine Tingley: The Theosophist as Progressive Reformer,
1890-1929" (Faculty Paper and Lecture Series, Point Loma
Nazarene College, January 28, 1987): 7.
49. Greenwalt, CALIFORNIA UTOPIA: 47f., 100f., 167f.
50. ANNIE BESANT: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, second edition (London: T.
Fisher Unwin, n.d. [1893?]): 88. Her early life is detailed
in the first three chapters. See also Catherine Lowman
Wessinger, ANNIE BESANT AND THE PROGRESSIVE MESSIANISM
(1847-1933) (Lewiston/Queenston: The Edwin Mellen Press,
1988) "Studies in Women and Religion, vol. 26]: 41-50;
Arthur H. Nethercot, THE FIRST FIVE LIVES OF ANNIE BESANT
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960): 1 -60.
51. Wessinger, ANNIE BESANT: 50-56; Nethercot, THE FIRST FIVE
LIVES OF ANNIE BESANT: 89-144; ANNIE BESANT: AN
AUTOBIOGRAPHY: 131 f.
52. AUTOBIOGRAPHY: 303; Nethercot, op. cit.: 213f, and 216.
53. Nethercot, op. cit.: 243-251.
54. Ibid., 263 and 253f.; Besant AUTOBIOGRAPHY: 329f.;
Wessinger, op. cit.: 63.
55. Besant, AUTOBIOGRAPHY: 338.
56. Ibid.: 329.
57. Ibid.: 340 and 339.
58. Ibid.: 351-52.
59. Deglar, AT ODDS: 298f.
THE SOURCE AND VALUE OF THE "MYSTERIES"
by H. S. Olcott
[From THE THEOSOPHIST, January 1888, pages 240-48]
That MUO, to shut the lips, to keep silence, is the Greek root of
the word "Mysteries," everyone readily admits; but to signify
what was to be kept silent by those who were admitted "behind the
veil" of initiation, is now and has ever been impossible save to
The lampooners and denunciators of our time have as little
succeeded in shaking the faith of believers in the reality and
value of mystical initiation, as did their precursors in the
olden times that of their believing contemporaries. It has been
simply the array of conjecture against experience, of surmise
against knowledge. The wise have had but a feeling of
contemptuous pity for the army of critics whose conclusions have
rested upon wholly mistaken premises, and whose verdict has been
colored by exaggerated prejudice and foolish mistrust.
There is not an example recorded of anyone speaking irreverently
of the course of initiation after having passed through it. On
the other hand, the most divine characters in history who have
been so blessed, have unanimously expressed their joy at having
entered "The Path" and pursued it bravely to the end. Their
testimony is that, until man has had this evolution, he cannot
conceive of the nature of truth or the possibilities latent in
"Happy," says Pindar, who passed through the august mysteries of
Eleusis, "is he who has beheld them, and descends beneath the
hollow earth. He knows the end, he knows the divine origin of
life." As, in Pantanjali's system of Yoga, the pupil goes
gradually onward and upward, from the state of animal man,
through the stages of self-mastery and psychic development, until
he flowers into the true Yogi and unites his consciousness with
the infinite, so in all the mystical schools of Greece, Rome,
Egypt, and other trans-Himalayan countries, he had to pass
through a like education.
Porphyry tells us that his master, Plotinus, was so fortunate as
to have six times during his life experienced this blessed union,
while he himself had done so but twice. Human knowledge, he
avers, has three ascending steps: opinion, science, and
The whole body of scientific critics, who have discussed the
subject of the mysteries AB EXTRA, illustrate the first category;
they dogmatize upon a mere hypothesis. The second includes all
seekers after and realizers of psychic powers, all phenomenalists
-- mesmeric, mediumistic, hypnotic, somnambulant, yogic. Of the
latter, all who acquire one or more SIDDHIS and have gone no
higher. The third group embraces the illuminated seers, sages,
and adepts, in their grades above grades, to the top of the
A modern writer (in THE NEW AMERICAN CYCLOPEDIA, XII, 75) says
that the mysteries being "founded on the adoration of nature (!),
the forces and phenomena of which were conceived by the
imagination and transformed into the characters of the mythology,
they appealed to the eye rather than to the reason." If any proof
were needed of his critical incompetence, we have it here. He
does not seem to comprehend that the
> ... rites of purification and expiation, of sacrifices and
> processions, of ecstatic or orgiastic songs and dances, of
> nocturnal festivals fit to impress the imagination, and of
> spectacles designed to excite the most diverse emotions, terror
> and trust, sorrow and joy, hope and despair ...
were but the incidents of the first threshold, tests to try the
persistency, courage, unselfishness, purity, and intuitive
capacity of the beginner. The calm, the peace, the inward
elevation, the growth of spiritual insight, the majestic
expansion of the petty ego or AHANKARA, toward universal
consciousness, he does not picture to himself.
Would the blaze, the awe, and glitter of such ceremonials as
shock the very core of the neophyte's being, extort from such
masterful sages as Pythagoras, Plato, Iamblichos, Proclus, and
Porphyry the reverently appreciative testimonies they have left
on record? Those spectacular shows of the antechamber were
designed, according to Iamblichos,
> ... to free us from licentious passions, by gratifying the
> sight, and at the same time vanquishing all evil thought, though
> the AWFUL SANCTITY with which these rites were accompanied.
The plan was the very reverse of that of the would-be adept, who
flees from mankind to the jungle and cave, where he may not see
the objects that arouse evil passions.
In the mysteries, the neophyte had to see the most voluptuous
female forms, and expose himself to their most seductive
blandishments; had to look, fasting, upon the most luscious
banquets; had to see that by putting forth his hand he could
grasp incalculable treasures; had to witness the seeming triumph
of his bitterest foe over those in whom he was most interested;
had to see manifold phenomena apparently resulting from the
universe of powers, seemingly realizable by himself, without much
effort; and yet so keep his soul-mastery as to neither give way
to lust, appetite, avarice, hatred, revenge, nor vanity.
In the course of his trials, he would be made to think himself in
peril of life from fire, water, lightning, earthquakes,
precipices, savage beasts, assassins, and other catastrophes, yet
all the while is expected to preserve an equal serenity and
This was the price exacted in exchange for the attainment of
godhood, the ordeal for the discovery of the candidate's innate
trustworthiness; this was INITIATION.
What wonder that the secret of the mysteries has been inviolably
kept by initiates through all times and ages! To men of such
stuff as that, the feeble chatter, the wretched persecutions, the
"toy thunders" of bigotry, the physical anguish of
torture-chambers; all that an ignorant brutal society could visit
upon them to wrest their ineffable secret from their lips, were
absurdly ineffectual. Where can we find a grander embodiment of
this idea than in the story of the discomfiture of Mara, dread
sovereign of evil, by our Lord Buddha, under the sacred tree at
In this splendid epic is depicted the whole sequence of
initiations accredited to the mysteries of Eleusis, Samothrace,
Lemnos, Isis and Osiris, Mithra, Orpheus, Dionysos, Scandinavia,
and the trans-Atlantic Mayas, Quiches and Peruvians. As there is
but one secret of life, there could never have been more than one
channel for attaining the highest knowledge of it.
If the preliminary ceremonials took on the local coloring of
mythologies, there was but one truth hidden "behind the veil."
Those who, in our own days, have been blessed with personal
relations with the "Wise Men of the East," have found them
teaching an identical philosophy, whether they were externally
Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Parsi, or Mussulman as to social
environment and nominal caste. And what they are now teaching is
the same as that which was taught to students in all countries,
at all preceding epochs.
It is for the purpose of illustrating this fact that occultists
take so much interest in deciphering old temple inscriptions,
poring over old manuscripts, studying old symbols carven on
crumbling ruins, and trying to piece together the fragments of
books which the vanished fraternities of Asia, Africa, Europe,
and America, succeeded in saving for us their posterity, when
they fell victims to the cruel violence of their persecutors.
This is the reason why it is so well worth our while to read the
Egyptian books of Hermes, the hieroglyphs in the ruined temples
of Khemi, the fragmentary archives of the Rosicrucians, the
poetry of the Sufis, the weird sagas of Northern Europe, the
mural inscriptions of Central America, and to analyze and
synthesize the folklore, legends, and folk songs of many lands.
Those who devote themselves to this research are doing it less
for their own profit than to collate for the benefit of the
thinking public a mass of proof of the eternal unity of esoteric
As the geographer traces the dripping cloud through a thousand
streams to the river and the sea, and from the sea back to the
sky, so do these investigators follow back the boundless ocean of
occult truth to its divine source, through multitudinous
wanderings of its branchlets among men.
It seems but a waste of energy to dispute as to the comparative
antiquity of the mysteries. The end of all the speculation and
research of the pandits and professors is that they can fix with
certainty no date for their beginning. Reaching a certain point,
they are forced to admit that beyond that conjecture alone is
The most practical issue is whether the ancient mysteries
subserved an immoral or a moral purpose, whether they were
designed for the education of students in physical sciences, for
supporting local religious beliefs, for enhancing the importance,
emoluments and prerogatives of priests, for the overthrow of old
and establishment of new theologies, or for the very purpose
stated by the sages named, and others who had received full
Dr. Warburton admits, in his "Divine Legation of Moses," that
"the wisest and best men in the Pagan world are unanimous in
this; that the mysteries were instituted pure, and proposed the
noblest ends by the worthiest means."
The encyclopaedist above quoted also testifies that:
> the Eleusinian were the most venerable of the mysteries, and in
> every period of classical antiquity commanded the homage alike of
> the most distinguished poets, philosophers, historians, and
Can anyone, then, believe that they were but a superior kind of
TAMASHA, such as are gotten up to excite the wonder of the
ignorant masses? Is it presumable that they could have been kept
up through successive generations, always winning the same praise
and arousing the same awe-begotten reverence in sober minds, if
they had been what our modern critics, our Welckers and Maurys,
our Magnussens, Vosses, Lobecks, and Prellers imagine, or, as
Tertullian and other Fathers of the Church try to imply, a
mixture of Christian and Pagan dogmas and ceremonies?
When one comes to look through the books written by these
worthies, one is struck with the actual ignorance accompanied by
hardy guessing, which all display. At the best, they seem but to
be looking at the subject from afar through the telescope of
conjecture, not even to be getting a peep from the threshold into
the vestibule of the sacred caverns.
Most exasperating of all is it to read such works as Tom Moore's
EPICUREAN, OR A DAY IN ATHENS, and to see him first describing
the experiences of a neophyte who has passed through a series of
trials, the very recital of which shows how impossible it was to
ascribe them to trickery, and then, when the attempt is quite
useless, to try and make the reader believe them to have been
produced by a lot of stage machinery, such as might catch the
fancy of a theatrical audience.
One wishes, after reading such a book, that the author had been
either more clever himself or less ready to doubt the reader's
common sense. Either his neophyte never passed through such
scenes, or the author's attempt at explanation is transparently
absurd and childish. It reminds one of the endeavors of some
prejudiced Orientalists to cramp and crowd Aryan history and
literature into the iron frame of biblical chronology, and to
trace the families of mankind to three sons of Noah who never
The ancient mysteries, modern initiation, and all mystical
occupation rest upon the doctrine that man can never learn
through the bodily senses, the secrets of life and the problem of
The eye, the ear, and all other organs of the body are but
avenues of perception of the gross physical world about us.
Mechanically adapted to our exterior environment, they have no
higher function than to record its impressions upon that lower
part of ourself which is built out of matter, and destined to
resolve into its elements, sooner or later. Reason is but the
analyst and synthesist of these impressions. Between it and
ultimate knowledge hangs numberless veils.
Man is a congeries of various "principles" -- some say three,
some four, some seven -- but whatever the correct number, all are
included between two extreme points, the one which is in contact
with the grossest, the other, with the most sublime,
So long as one's perceptions are restricted to sensuous
experiences, one's knowledge will be proportionately small; to
become truly wise, one must burst the bonds of illusion, tear
away the curtain of MAYA, break the chains of passion, learn the
self and put it in command of our consciousness and our actions.
The neophyte is never in greater danger of falling a victim to
delusion than when he has subjected his grosser passions and
begun to develop his psychic sight, hearing, and touch. He is
like the newborn babe getting its first lessons of cisuterine
life, grasping at the pretty silver moon, clutching at fire and
lamp, miscalculating distances, tottering upon its feeble legs.
He has forced himself into the vestibule of the astral world, as
yet unprepared to understand his surroundings, ignorant of his
latent powers of mastery and insight. If he gets himself out of
the body and attempts phantasmal excursions, he is like the
nestling trying its baby wings. "The viewless races of the air,"
the sprites of the elemental world, rush about him in all sorts
of fantastic shapes, some alluring, some terrifying; the larvae,
or undissolved astral bodies -- D'Assier's "posthumous phantoms"
-- of human dead persons, float past and eddy around, like
corpses in river-currents.
Then his inner ear opens to the mysterious sounds of this phantom
world, and he recoils in affright from the awful tales, the
groans and sighs, and other things he hears. Pictures impressed
by vivid human thought upon the earth's astral envelope, and
fresh ones created by his own untaught imagination, surround him
with an unreal world, which yet has to him the actual semblance
of reality. He is, as Patanjali describes it, under the
influence of the "local gods." Now is his time to acquire psychic
"science," to learn the laws of this middle region, and see
through all illusions.
If he is under a guru's care -- and supremely foolish is he who
neglects this preliminary -- he will be watched over and looked
after, as the tender mother cares for her child. As the teacher
eagerly helps the willing scholar to master the difficulties of
his textbooks, so this greater master is ready to meet halfway
the aspiring CHELA who TRIES, as the maxim of initiation
But there are deeper mysteries of the penetralia which are never
revealed by the initiator to the neophyte; they must be reached
by his unaided effort; for they are personal, pertaining to
absolute knowledge, and never capable of communication by third
parties. As no description, however graphic, can convey the idea
of visible nature to the man born blind, so no help can be given
to understand the higher secrets save to him who has forced open
the eyes of his inner self and uncovered its senses.
When this point is reached, one has arrived at the fifth of the
seven stages of the fourth and last division of Yoga; Illusion
has faded away like a mist, and the naked loveliness of Truth is
exposed. But, while many attempt, few attain this final
There are fewer potential adepts in an epoch than the superficial
imagine. The fate of those who tread this dizzy precipice of
wisdom with weak and faltering steps may be readily inferred.
What happens to the dizzy-brained and slippery-footed alpine
climber? His brain turns, and he falls headlong into the chasm,
with a last shriek and a clutching at the air.
So, too, falls the rash postulant who has ventured to force
nature prematurely. Madame Blavatsky, whose eloquent and
striking remarks upon the whole subject of the mysteries should
be universally read, quotes from the Talmud, the story of four
Tanaim, who enter the GARDEN OF DELIGHTS, i.e., present
themselves for initiation:
> According to the teaching of our holy masters, the names
> of the four who entered the garden of delights, are: Ben Asai,
> Ben Zorna, Acher, and Rabbi Akiba ... Ben Asai looked and --
> lost his sight. Ben Zorna looked and -- lost his reason. Acher
> made depredations in the plantation (i.e., mixed up the whole)
> and failed. But Akiba, who had entered in peace, came out of it
> in peace, for the saint whose name is blessed had said, "This old
> man is worthy of serving us with glory."
> -- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 119
Observe the word "old." The implication here is that Akiba had
not foolishly exposed himself to lust-provoking "rites of
purification" until the heat of young blood was gone.
In his most admirable work, Maimonides, the Hebrew adept, says
> ... it was considered inadvisable to teach it to young men; nay,
> it is impossible for them to comprehend it, on account of the
> heat of their blood and the flame of youth, which confuses their
> minds; that heat which causes all the disorder, must first
> disappear; they must have become moderate and settled, humble in
> their hearts, and subdued in their temperament; only then will
> they be able to arrive at the highest perception of God, that is,
> the study of Metaphysics, which is called Maaseh Mercabhah ...
> Rabbi Jocharian said to Rabbi Eleazar, "Come, I will teach you
> Maaseh Mercabhah."
> The reply was. "I am not yet old," or in other words I still
> perceive in myself the hot blood and the rashness of youth. You
> learn from this that, in addition to the above-named qualities, a
> certain age is also required. How, then, could any person speak
> on those metaphysical themes in the presence of ordinary people,
> of children, and of women?
> -- GUIDE OF THE PERPLEXED, Trubner and Co., London.
Patanjali tells us that the
> ... local deities will assail such a Yogi [one who is only in
> the rudimentary stage], and will endeavor to divert him from the
> religious abstraction which he has attained, by bringing before
> him sensual gratifications, or by exciting in his mind thoughts
> of personal aggrandizement, but he should partake of these
> gratifications without interest, for if these deities succeed in
> exciting desire in the mind, he will be thrown back to all the
> evils of future transmigrations.
The next European philosopher who applies himself to the study of
the mysteries, would do well to familiarize himself with the Yoga
Philosophy before committing himself to such jejune hypotheses as
were put forth by those who have been mentioned above.
But is there no recompense for those who fail in initiation
through miscalculation of their power to realize the ideal
psychic development? Certainly there is. The attainment of
perfection is but postponed to a future birth. Every preliminary
step in self-conquest and self-knowledge is so much experience
and developed power, stored up psychic energy, for the use of the
individuality in its next incarnation. The Divine Krishna
answers Arjuna, who had put this very question:
> Doth not the fool who is found not standing in the path of Brahm,
> and is thus, as it were, fallen between good and evil, like a
> broken cloud, come to nothing?
> A man whose devotions have been broken off by death, having
> enjoyed for an immensity of years the rewards of his virtues in
> the regions above [This idea is developed by Mr. Sinnett in
> ESOTERIC BUDDHISM.] at length is born again in some holy and
> respectable family, or perhaps in the house of some learned Yogi
> ... Being thus born again, he is endued with the same degree of
> application and advancement of his understanding that he held in
> his former body, and here he begins again to labor for perfection
> in devotion.
> -- THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, Lecture vii.
Thus we see that the ancient mysteries were but a school of
spiritual training and perfection in true wisdom; that the
preliminary qualification was the purification of the heart from
all sensual passions and false preconceptions; that, while the
hand of the master might lead the neophyte through the dangers of
the stage where, like the infant, he could not walk alone, he was
obliged, in the higher paths, to learn to guide and guard
himself, as the adult man has to do in ordinary life; that the
ultimate goal was the expansion of the self into infinite
existence and potentialities; and, lastly, that, however the
initial forms and ceremonies may have differed in appearance, an
identical aim was in view.
It is impossible to determine the priority of these occult
schools until our philologists and antiquarians have proved to us
where, if anywhere, was the cradle of the human race. If there
was such an evolutionary center, then there must the adept
guardians of mankind have first taught the way to the PATH.
Just now we are disputing whether India taught Egypt, and Egypt,
Scandinavia and Yucatan, or whether Egypt was the primal center,
or some other place. Finnur Magnusson attempts to trace a
connection between the mysteries and the legends of his Frozen
North, and certainly the sages embody an esoteric doctrine that
strikes the attention of every student of occultism, and that our
learned colleague, Mr. Bjerregaard, has begun to demonstrate in
There is also in progress a sharp controversy between Prof. Max
Muller and other philologists as to whether the Aryan race came
from Scandinavia or Central Asia, and, as above remarked, until
this is determined, we need not discuss the priority of Northern,
Southern, or Eastern mysteries. If the first is true, then we
may well speculate as to why Apollonius and Pythagoras should
have come to India to find masters in arcane science, when Norway
was so much nearer.
That there are such teachers in each of the four quarters of the
earth, is more than suspected, and quite naturally, for it is
inconceivable -- when we know what adeptship and occultism are,
and what their relations to mankind in the mass -- that any
portion of the teeming earth should be left without those whose
help "that great orphan, Humanity," so desperately needs.
Consider the book of Augustus Le Plongeon, SACRED MYSTERIES AMONG
THE MAYAS AND QUICHES, 11,500 YEARS AGO: THEIR RELATION TO THE
SACRED MYSTERIES OF EGYPT, GREECE, CHALDEA AND INDIA (New York,
1886) This book, noticed in our December issue, deserves the most
attentive study. It will be a shame to America if the
discoveries amid the ruins of Uxmal and Chichen-Itza, the result
of fourteen years of brave research, under the most trying
difficulties, by his wife and himself, should not be appreciated
at their enormous worth, as contributions to history.
One cannot even glance at the photographic and other
illustrations in the book without realizing the intimate
connection between the mystical schools of the two hemispheres.
The hieratic alphabets of Egypt and the ancient Mayax country are
placed side by side on the same page, and a look suffices to show
their substantial identity. What Champollion did for
Egyptological science, M. Le Plongeon seems to have done for
If it is any compensation for him in his time of sadness --
consequent upon the rebuffs given him where he had every right to
count upon honors and reward -- to know that his labor is
appreciated at least at Adyar, then let him know the fact.
Whether it should ultimately prove that the mysteries came to the
Eastern from the Western Hemisphere, or vice versa, does not
matter so much to us, personally, as the graver fact that he has
placed within our reach the unmistakable evidence that one
universal truth has been taught by an identical method, the world
When I first read Stephens' INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN CENTRAL
AMERICA, CHIAPAS AND YUCATAN -- now many years ago -- I was
struck by the occult significance of the mural stuccos and
sculptured monuments in all the ruins he visited, among which may
be recognized a picture of the very act of imparting the most
divine of all mysteries to the neophyte, in the higher stage of
I was amused just now, upon referring to the copy of this work in
the Adyar Library, to read of the perplexity and consternation
felt by the Christian priests upon seeing a delineation --
admittedly far older than Christianity -- upon the altar-wall at
Palenque, of the adoration of the cross by ancient Quichean
hierophants. Says Stephens:
> Our friends the padres, at the sight of it, immediately decided
> that THE OLD INHABITANTS OF PALENQUE WERE CHRISTIANS, and by
> conclusions, which are sometimes called jumping, they fixed the
> age of the buildings in the third century!
> -- II, 347
These people have been on the "jump" all over the world, upon
being confronted with evidences of the prior existence of
emblems, ceremonies, fables and traditions, really the property
of the race, but imagined by them to be exclusively Christian.
The works of Stephens, Le Plongeon, Dessaix, and other Central
American explorers should be read together, if one would realize
the relative importance of the conclusions reached severally by
Stephens does not explain the meaning of the cross at Palenque,
nor that of the scenes represented pictorially and otherwise in
the ruins, but says probably the hieroglyphics tell it all.
That they do so, Le Plongeon now proves by discovering the
Mayatic and Quichean alphabet and reading the tablets. We learn
from him that that most mystical emblem, the cross, was
associated there as in Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, India, Chaldea,
Phoenicia, Britain, and Scandinavia, with the ceremonies of
initiation. It was to those ancient Americans the symbol of
rejuvenescence and freedom from physical suffering. In the
Bacchic and Eleusinian mysteries it was placed on the breast of
the initiate after his "new birth" was accomplished.
Exoterically, it was associated in Mayax with the appearance, at
a certain period of the year, of the constellation of the
southern cross in the perpendicular position above the line of
their southern horizon -- the sure harbinger of the rainy season.
Says Le Plongeon:
> The mode of initiation, the use of the same symbols, with an
> identical signification ascribed to them, by peoples living so
> far apart, whose customs and manners were so unlike, whose
> religion, so far at least as external practices were concerned,
> differed so widely, show that these mysteries originated with one
> people, and were carried to and promulgated among the others. As
> we do not find mentioned anywhere that they originated either
> with the Egyptians, Chaldees, or Hindus, and we have seen that
> their primitive traditions have been derived from the history of
> the early rulers of Mayax, is it not natural that we should look
> for the institution of the mysteries among the Mayas, since we
> find the same mysterious symbols, used by the initiates in all
> the other countries, carved on the walls of the temples of their
> gods, and the palaces of their kings? Their history may afford
> the clue to the original meaning of said symbols, as their
> language has given us the true signification of the words used by
> the celebrating priest to dismiss the initiates in the Eleusinian
> mysteries, or by the Brahmins at the end of their religious
> ceremonies, and as it has revealed the so long hidden mystery of
> the mystical TAU.
(The Tau is the "Nature Cross," or CRUX ANSATA, of Egypt, which
occupies the central place in the mystical seal of the
Theosophical Society, and signifies the same thing as the
six-pointed star, or SRI JANTARA, of the Aryan, Chaldean, and
Judaic secret doctrine.)
I am not sure that I am quite prepared to concur with M. Le
Plongeon in the conjecture that the symbolical degrees of the
world's course of mystical initiation, but preserve certain
historical incidents in the life-history of the Royal House of
Mayax, though he certainly brings together, with patient
erudition, a number of facts going to show that the tragedies in
question may have supplied the basis for certain of our Oriental
mythologies, if even they were not the very scenes represented in
the preparatory rites of the Eleusinian and Osiric mysteries.
It is curious to note that the ancient records of Mayax CONTAIN
AN ACCOUNT OF THE FEARFUL CATACLYSM IN WHICH THE SINFUL PEOPLE OF
ATLANTIS AND THEIR WHOLE CONTINENT WERE ENGULFED IN ONE DAY AND
The description being "identical with that given by the
Egyptians," he adds that "nearly all the nations living on the
Western continent have kept the tradition of it." There is a
passage in the Volus-pa, in the "Visions of Valla," which may
covertly refer to this Atlantic cataclysm, or be, as Mr.
Bjerregaard views it (see THE THEOSOPHIST, VIII, February and
July 1887), a figurative representation of the ultimate triumph
of good over evil. It runs thus:
> The sun turns to darkness, EARTH SINKS INTO THE DEEP, the bright
> stars vanish from out the heavens, fume and flame rage together,
> the lefty blaze plays against the very heavens.
True, this is written in the future tense, yet it is not
absolutely certain that it was not the veiled narrative of a past
event. The divinely majestic poem recounts the "first war in the
world," when "they speared gold-weig (gold-draught), and burnt
her in the High One's Hall; thrice was she burnt, and thrice
reborn, though still she lives," but Mr. Bjerregaard tells us
that "this myth is entirely lost."
I wish he would compare notes with M. Le Plongeon -- who is
living in the same city with him -- and see whether the
revelations of the mural records of Mayax throw light upon the
mystical epopee of his native land. It is a point of great
moment to decide. It may help to unravel the tangled skein of
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