A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume IV
No. 1 (19) - May-June 1947

[Cover photo: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky - August 11, 1831 - May 8, 1891 - Reproduced by special permission of the General Secretary, The Theosophical Society in England (Adyar). See p. 11.]


Published every Two Months. Sponsored by an International Group of Theosophists
To disseminate the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom.
To uphold and promote the Original Principles of the modern Theosophical Movement, as set forth by H. P. Blavatsky and her Teachers.
To challenge bigotry and superstition in every form.
To foster mutual understanding and co-operation among all students of Theosophy, irrespective of their affiliation.
EDITOR: Boris de Zirkoff.
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Irene Ponsonby, Dr. Sven Eek, J. Emory Clapp, William L. Biersach, Arthur L. Joquel.
ADVISORY BOARD: Col. J.M. Prentice, Jan H. Venema, Hendrik Oosterink, James L. Harris, Richard H. Cutting, T. Marriott.
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None of the organized Theosophical Societies, as such, are responsible for any ideas expressed in this magazine, unless contained in an official document. The Editors are responsible for unsigned articles only.



The term Occultists is variously defined, but never explained, except by those who do not understand it. Occultism is Magic, but its magicians call it a science. It is a science, but not like any the world knows, for it is a science of man and man's Self. It is an art, a skill and a practice, but these are only its peripheral expressions. It is neither philosophy nor metaphysics, when these are conceived as processes of the mind: Occultism is heart doctrine. The heart of the ordinary man is magnetized by personal desires and passions; where he feels most vividly alive in a field below the mind, inferior to thought. The heart of the occultist knows no longer the turbulence, the vulnerability, the uncertainty of human emotions, no longer avoids the cool honesty of thought and conscience. The heart of the occultist beats not within, but above, the personal man; it hearkens to the dictates of the soul instead of to the confused voices of the senses; it exists beyond the mind, as mind exists above the brain.

The occultist's heart, could it be known, would hardly seem a "heart" at all, to those whose loves and interests are rooted in personal attachments, partisan causes. Those who rely on passion to energize their enthusiasm, can scarcely comprehend the force of dispassion. What kind of being is it, then, who unites sympathy of heart with sympathy of mind - who not only feels the sufferings and wrongs of others, but knows, and serves, their needs as well? Still deeper than that equilibrium of mind achieved, as we suspect, by a few philosophers, is the unshakable serenity of him who is master of his soul, knower of the Self. That is the "heart" of the occultist; in him, passion has given way before compassion - which has become in truth the one energy, the single enthusiasm of the being ...

The powers of an occultist are neither miraculous nor unique, and they remain for the most part unnoticed, especially since they are not apt to be spectacularly displayed, in the manner of a psychic skill. The occultist is identified not by this or that "power," but by the fact that he has - in any situation and for whatever human emergency or cyclic opportunity - the needed power. - From Theosophy, March, 1947, pp. 193-95, published by The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, California. [3]


H. P. B.
Boris de Zirkoff

A magic name with a power all its own, with a meaning deeper than speech, with a message unique and enduring! A name, truly, with a Cosmos in it!

The power of a name lies in the ideal which it represents, in the thought which it embodies, in the inspiration which it brings forth. And "H.P.B." represents the loftiest ideal of mankind - that of renunciation of self-love and of tireless labor for the spiritual liberation of the human race from the bondage of material existence. It embodies the noblest thought which the Seers and Sages of all times have proclaimed - that of the essential Unity of all that is. It stands for the most inspiring idea which the mind can conceive - that of beginningless and endless evolution along the spiral pathways of the Universe.

More than a hundred years ago H.P.B. was born in a country whose chaotic genius resembled her own, until the fire of her will had shaped her inner life into a Cosmos. Misunderstood, persecuted, victimized, she stood undaunted amidst the clashing hordes of a heartless world, and silenced her foes by the mere power of her Being. Exhaustless in her resistance, unfathomable in her deep-seated reality, her Spirit was anchored in the very depths of Mother-Nature and reached to the primeval eternities of the universe.

In an age of decadence and denial, with torrential energy she cast herself against the clouds of materialism stilling the spiritual life of man. With unparalleled force she asserted the transcendent reality of Spirit. With indomitable courage she proclaimed the basic principles of Truth. Fresh and strong as the primeval forces of Nature her character was of such magnitude as to divide the world into her adherents and her opponents.

The vast serge of her creative activity swept from one continent to the other, across the distances of land and sea. The spiritual flame with which she touched the hearts of men cleansed their natures and burned away the veil before their eyes. As only those can who have earned the right to be Teachers, she imparted a new life-impetus to the would-be disciple and quickened to germination the dormant seeds buried within his heart. Only those who have passed through it know the reality of the burgeoning of energy as possessed by certain souls. Some there are who may teach a truth and yet may not be that truth. But who can impart a truth in its surging vitality, so that it fructifies in the lives of others, except one who himself possesses the richness and depth of this life-impulse by reason of having become it! Hence Message and Messenger are invariably one and the same in the occult laws operating behind the veil of illusions.

A worthy Messenger of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, she stood alone, facing the opposition of an unbelieving world. The bigotry of religious fanaticism, the skepticism of materialistic science, the vindictive jealousy of all who knew that the light she brought would sooner or later dispel the darkness in which their own petty schemes were wrought - all these and vastly more of a nature which the humdrum world, in its blind conceit, is unable to perceive, she met, faced, and conquered.

The sword of spiritual knowledge with which she hewed at the malignant materialistic growth of a passing age, she welded with wisdom and consummate skill. The rifts in the leaden masses of heavy clouds through which, high above, we catch today a glimpse of the infinite blue, bears testimony to the greatness of the power that rent them asunder.

Abused and vilified, slandered and persecuted, she asserted the truth of the Message which she was sent to proclaim, and, when the first mad onslaught of antagonism had subsided, it was seen that her mere presence among men had [4] confounded the arrogant negations of those who laughed at the reality of spiritual Being.

She flung down the gauntlet to the religious sectarianism of her day with its gaudy ritualism ant the dead letter of orthodox worship. Site challenged intrenched scientific dogmas evolved from minds which saw in Nature but a fortuous aggregate of lifeless atoms driven by mere chance. The regenerative power of her Message burst the constricting shell of a moribund theology, swept away the empty wranglings of phrase-weavers, ant check-mated the progress of scientific fallacies.

Today this Message, like the spring-flood of some mighty river, is spreading far and wide over the earth. The greatest thinkers of the age are voicing well-nigh theosophical thoughts, couched sometimes in the very language which H.P.B. used. We witness the turning of men's minds towards the treasure-chamber of esoteric knowledge which she unlocked for us. Some day public recognition will be given to the truth of her teachings, to the depths of the source of knowledge from which she drew, and then H.P.B., the "direct agent" of her Teachers, will take her rightful place in the history of our spiritual awakening, among other Great Souls who have stemmed the tide of disintegration, pointed the way to the mountain-tops of Spirit, and, having shown mankind where Truth can be found, taught it, like the Druids of old, how to hold that "Truth against the World."

The writings of H.P.B. stand by themselves. They speak louder than any human commentary to those who have ears to hear, and the ultimate proof of the teachings they contain rests with the disciple who attunes his mind and heart to the cosmic harmony which they bring to the light. Like all mystic writings throughout the ages, they conceal vastly more than they reveal, and they mean to the student just what he is able to perceive in them - neither less nor more.

Unchanged by time, unmoved by the phantasmagoria of the world's pageant, unhurt by scathing criticisms, unsoiled by the vituperations of petty and dogmatic minds, these writings stand today, as they did at the time of their first appearance, like a majestic rock amidst the foaming crests of an unruly sea. Their clarion-call resounds as powerfully now as it did of yore, and thousands of heart-Hungry, suffering, disillusioned men and women, in search of truth and peace, are turning their eyes to the enduring Message contained in H.P.B.'s far-flung literary work.

Great Souls, Warriors of Light, descend into our midst from worlds supernal. They often are but Messengers of still greater Beings completely beyond our reach or ken. They bring with them another spark of that Promethean fire which kindle, upon our altars the flames of thought. They pass like blaring meteors through the night-sky of human sorrow. They mold gigantic structures with godlike hands and vanish sooner or later beyond the mystic veil which hides from us as yet the world of silent Realities. Their home is there, within a sea of Light which humans call genius, Truth, creative inspiration. And although for a time we are unable to follow their journey and to witness their work behind the veil, yet we have with us tangible proofs of their existence, of their passage through this valley of shadows, and the assurance of their return on the crests of spiraling cycles when the time is ripe.

We commend her writings to the weary pilgrim and the seeker after enduring spiritual values. They contain the answer to many a harassing problem. They open wide undreamt of portals, revealing vistas of cosmic splendor and lasting inspiration. To the faint-hearted but sincere student, they bring new hope and courage. To those who have already traveled on the Path, they are a comfort and a staff, as well as a guide and Teacher. And to those few who are ahead of others, valiantly scaling the solitary passes leading to the Gates of Gold, they convey that secret knowledge which alone can lift the heavy bar which must be raised before the Gates admit the pilgrim into the land of Eternal Dawn. [5]


H.P. Blavatsky
(Excerpts from an article originally published in Lucifer, London, Vol. V, November, 1889, pp. 173-78.)

"The tidal wave of deeper souls,
Into our inmost being rolls,
And lifts us unawares,
Out of all meaner cares."
- Longfellow

The great psychic and spiritual change now taking place in the realm of the human Soul, is quite remarkable. It began towards the very commencement of the now slowly vanishing last quarter of our century, and will end - so says a mystic prophecy - either for the weal or woe of civilized humanity with the present cycle which will close in 1897. But the great change is not effected in solemn silence, nor is it perceived only by the few. On the contrary, it asserts itself amid a loud din of busy, boisterous tongues, a clash of public opinion, in comparison to which the incessant, ever increasing roar even of the noisiest political agitation seems like the rustling of the young forest foliage, on a warm spring day.

Verily the Spirit in man, so long hidden out of public sight, so carefully concealed and so far exiled from the arena of modern learning, has at last awakened. It now asserts itself and is loudly re-demanding its unrecognized yet ever legitimate rights. It refuses to be any longer trampled under the brutal foot of Materialism, speculated upon by the Churches, and made a fathomless source of income by those who have self-constituted themselves its universal custodians. The former would deny the Divine Presence any right to existence; the latter would accentuate and prove it through their Sidesmen and Church Wardens armed with money-bags and collection-boxes. But the Spirit in man - the direct, though now but broken ray and emanation of the Universal Spirit - has at last awakened. Hitherto, while so often reviled, persecuted and abased through ignorance, ambition and greed; while so frequently turned by insane Pride "into a blind wanderer, like unto a buffoon mocked by a host of buffoons," in the realm of Delusion, it remained unheard and unheeded. Today, the Spirit in man has returned like King Lear, from seeming insanity to its senses; and, raising its voice, it now speaks in those authoritative tones to which the men of old have listened in reverential silence through incalculable ages, until deafened by the din and roar of civilization and culture, they could hear it no longer ...

Look around you and behold! Think of what you see and hear, and draw therefrom your conclusions. The age of crass materialism, of Soul insanity and blindness, is swiftly passing away. A death struggle between Mysticism and Materialism is no longer at hand, but is already raging. And the party which will win the day at this supreme hour will become the master of the situation and of the future; i.e., it will become the autocrat and sole disposer of the millions of men already born and to be born, up to the latter end of the XXth century. If the signs of the times can be trusted it is not the Animalists who will remain conquerors. This is warranted us by the many brave and prolific authors and writers who have arisen of late to defend the rights of Spirit to reign over matter. Many are the honest, aspiring Souls now raising themselves like a dead wall against the torrent of the muddy waters of Materialism. And facing the hitherto domineering flood which is still steadily carrying off into unknown abysses the fragments from the wreck of the dethroned, cast down Human Spirit, they now command: "So far hast thou come; but thou shalt go no further!"

Amid all this external discord and disorganization of social harmony; amid [6] confusion and the weak and cowardly hesitations of the masses, tied down to the narrow frames of routine, propriety and cant; amid that late dead calm of public thought that had exiled from literature every reference to Soul and Spirit and their divine working during the whole of the middle period of our century - we hear a sound arising. Like a clear, definite, far-reaching note of promise, the voice of the great human Soul proclaims, in no longer timid tones, the rise and almost the resurrection of the human Spirit in the masses. It is now awakening in the foremost representatives of thought and learning; it speaks in the lowest as in the highest, and stimulates them all to action. The renovated, life-giving Spirit in man is boldly freeing itself from the dark fetters of the hitherto all-capturing animal life and matter. Behold it, saith the poet, as, ascending on its broad, white wings, it sours into the regions of real life and light; whence, calm and godlike, it contemplates with unfeigned pity those golden idols of the modern material cult with their feet of clay, which have hitherto screened from the purblind masses their true and living gods ...

... A new era has begun in literature, this is certain. New thoughts and new interests have created new intellectual needs; hence a new race of authors is springing up. And this new species will gradually and imperceptibly shut out the old one, those fogies of yore who, though they still reign nominally, are allowed to do so rather by force of habit than predilection. It is not he who repeats obstinately and parrot-like the old literary formulae and holds desperately to publishers' traditions, who will find himself answering to the new needs; not the man who prefers his narrow party discipline to the search for the long-exiled Spirit of man and the now lost TRUTHS; not these, but verily he who, parting company with his beloved "authority," lifts boldly and carries on unflinchingly the standard of the Future Man. It is finally those who, amidst the present wholesale dominion of the worship of matter, material interests and SELFISHNESS, will have bravely fought for human rights and man's divine nature, who will become, if they only win, the teachers of the masses in the coming century, and so their benefactors.

But woe to the XXth century if the now reigning school of thought prevails, for Spirit would once more be made captive and silenced till the end of the now coming age. It is not the fanatics of the dead letter in general, nor the iconoclasts and Vandals who fight the new Spirit of thought, nor yet the modern Roundheads, supporters of the old Puritan religious and social traditions, who will ever become the protectors and Saviors of the now resurrecting human thought and Spirit. It is not these too willing supporters of the old cult, and the mediaeval heresies of those who guard like a relic every error of their sect or party, who jealously watch over their own thought lest it should, growing out of its teens, assimilate some fresher and more beneficent idea - not these who are the wise men of the future. It is not for them that the hour of the new historical era will have struck, but for those who will have learnt to express and put into practice the aspirations as well as the physical needs of the rising generations and of the now trampled-down masses. In order that one should fully comprehend individual life with its physiological, psychic and spiritual mysteries, he has to devote himself with all the fervour of unselfish philanthropy and love for his brother men, to studying and knowing collective life, or Mankind. Without preconceptions or prejudice, as also without the least fear of possible results in one or another direction, he has to decipher, understand and remember the deep and innermost feelings and the aspirations of the poor people's great and suffering heart. To do this he has first "to attune his soul with that of Humanity," as the old philosophy teaches; to thoroughly master the correct meaning of every line and word in the rapidly turning pages of the Book of Life of MANKIND and to be thoroughly saturated with the truism that the latter is a whole inseparable from his own SELF. [7]

How many of such profound readers of life may be found in our boasted age of sciences and culture? Of course we do not mean authors alone, but rather the practical and still unrecognized, though well known, philanthropists and altruists of our age; the people's friends, the unselfish lovers of man, and the defenders of human right to the freedom of Spirit. Few indeed are such; for they are the rare blossoms of the age, and generally the martyrs to prejudiced mobs and time-servers. Like those wonderful "Snow flowers" of Northern Siberia, which, in order to shoot forth from the cold frozen soil, have to pierce through a thick layer of hard, icy snow, so these rare characters have to fight their battles all their life with cold indifference and human harshness, and with the selfish ever-mocking world of wealth. Yet, it is only they who can carry out the task of perseverance. To them alone is given the mission of turning the "Upper Ten" of social circles from the broad and easy highway of wealth, vanity and empty pleasures into the arduous and thorny path of higher moral problems, and the perception of loftier moral duties than they are now pursuing. It is also those who, already themselves awakened to a higher Soul activity, are being endowed at the same time with literary talent, whose duty it is to undertake the part of awakening the sleeping Beauty and the Beast, in their enchanted Castle of Frivolity, to real life and light. Let all those who can, proceed fearlessly with this idea uppermost in their mind, and they will succeed. It is the rich who have to be regenerated, if we would do good to the poor; for it is in the former that lies the root of evil of which the "disinherited" classes are but the too luxuriant growth. This may seem at first sight paradoxical, yet it is true, as may be shown.

In the face of the present degradation of every ideal, as also of the noblest aspirations of the human heart, becoming each day more prominent in the higher classes, what can be expected from the "great unwashed"? It is the head that has to guide the feet, and the latter are to be hardly held responsible for their actions. Work, therefore, to bring about the moral regeneration of the cultured but far more immoral classes before you attempt to do the same for our ignorant younger Brethren. The latter was undertaken years ago, and is carried on to this day, yet with no perceptible good results. It is not evident that the reason for this lies in the fact that [except] for a few earnest, sincere and all-sacrificing workers in that field, the great majority of the volunteers consists of those same frivolous, ultra-selfish classes, who "play at charity" and whose ideas of the amelioration of the physical and moral status of the poor are confined to the hobby that money and the Bible alone can do it. We say that neither of these can accomplish any good; for dead-letter preaching and forced Bible-reading develop irritation and later atheism, and money as a temporary help finds its way into the tills of the public-houses rather than serves to buy bread with. The root of evil lies, therefore, in a moral not in a physical cause.

If asked, what is it then that will help, we answer boldly: - Theosophical literature; hastening to add that under this term, neither books concerning adepts and phenomena, nor the Theosophical Society publications are meant.

Take advantage of, and profit by, the "tidal wave" which is now happily overpowering half of Humanity. Speak to the awakening Spirit of Humanity, to the human Spirit and the Spirit in man, these three in One and the One in All. Dickens and Thackeray both born a century too late - or a century too early - came between two tidal waves of human spiritual thought, and though they have done yeoman service individually and induced certain partial reforms, yet they failed to touch Society and the masses at large. What the European world now needs is a dozen writers such as Dostoevsky, the Russian author, whose works, though terra incognita for most, are still well known on the Continent, as also in England and America among the cultured classes. And what the Russian novelist has done is this: - he spoke boldly and fearlessly the most unwelcome truths to [8] the higher and even to the official classes - the latter a far more dangerous proceeding than the former. And yet, behold, most of the administrative reforms during the last twenty years are due to the silent and unwelcome influence of his pen ...

It is writers of this kind that are needed in our day of reawakening; not authors writing for wealth or fame, but fearless apostles of the living Word of Truth; moral healers of the pustulous sores of our century ...

Whether Theosophists, in the present or future, will ever work out a practical application of the suggestion is doubtful. To write novels with a moral sense in them deep enough to stir Society, requires a great literary talent and a born theosophist as was Dostoevsky - Zola standing outside of any comparison with him. But such talents are rare in all countries. Yet, even in the absence of such great gifts one may do good in a smaller and humbler way by taking note and exposing in impersonal narratives the crying vices and evils of the day, by word and deed, by publications and practical example. Let the force of that example impress others to follow it; and then instead of deriding our doctrines and aspirations the men of the XXth, if not the XIXth century will see clearer, and judge with knowledge and according to facts instead of prejudging agreeably to rooted misconceptions. Then and not till then will the world find itself forced to acknowledge that it was wrong, and that Theosophy alone can gradually create a mankind as harmonious and as simple-souled as Kosmos itself; but to effect this theosophists have to act as such. Having helped to awaken the spirit in many a man - we say this boldly, challenging contradiction - shall we now stop instead of swimming with the TIDAL WAVE.


Boris de Zirkoff

It is seventy years since H.P.B.'s Isis Unveiled was published - an important landmark in the history of the modern Theosophical Movement. As pointed out by Master K.H. (Mahatma Letters, p. 12 ): " 'Isis' was not unveiled but rents sufficiently large were made to afford flitting glances to be completed by the student's own intuition. In this curry of quotations from various philosophic and esoteric truths purposely veiled, behold our doctrine, which is now being partially taught to Europeans for the first time."

It might interest the student to learn that the original manuscript of H.P.B.'s was called "The Veil of Isis." It is under this title that J.W. Bouton, the publisher, began to set it up. On May 8, 1877, he wrote to H.P.B., saying that he had just had an important interview with Chas. Sotheran, one of H.P.B.'s collaborators, who had brought to his attention the fact that a work by the same title had already been published in England some years ago. Both Bouton and Sotheran suggested changing the title to "Isis Unveiled," "which it seems to me in many respects much better than the other title, for in itself it has a distinct meaning which the other has not."

The suggested change was adopted. However, the whole of the first volume must have been already set up, as it bears, in the first edition and in all the subsequent editions printed from the same stereo-typed plates, even as late as 1886, at the top of each event page, the title "The Veil of Isis." [9]

We quote below two outstanding passages from this work, giving prophetic glimpses of the future, which to us today is fast becoming the present:

"Deeply sensible of the Titanic struggle that is now in progress between materialism and the spiritual aspirations of mankind, our constant endeavor has been to gather into our several chapters, like weapons into armories, every fact and argument that can he used to aid the latter in defeating the former. Sickly and deformed child as it now is, the materialism of To-Day is born of the brutal Yesterday. Unless its growth is arrested, it may become our master. It is the bastard progeny of the French Revolution and its reaction against ages of religious bigotry and repression. To prevent the crushing of these spiritual aspirations, the blighting of these hopes, and the deadening of that intuition which teaches us of a God and a hereafter, we most show our false theologies in their naked deformity, and distinguish between divine religion and human dogmas. Our voice is raised for spiritual freedom, and our plea made for enfranchisement from all tyranny, whether of SCIENCE or THEOLOGY" (Vol. 1, p. xlv)

"... though in the opinion of most of our contemporaries, there has been but one day of learning, in whose twilight stood the older philosophers, and whose noontide brightness is all our own; and though the testimony of scores of ancient and mediaeval thinkers has proven valueless to modern experimenters, as though the world dated from A.D. 1, and all knowledge were of recent growth, we will not lose hope or courage. The moment is more opportune than ever for the review of old philosophies. Archaeologists, philologists, astronomers, chemists and physicists are getting nearer and nearer to the point where they will he forced to consider them. Physical science has already reached its limits of exploration; Dogmatic theology sees the springs of its inspiration dry. Unless we mistake the signs, the day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Secrets long kept may he revealed; books long forgotten and arts long time lost may he brought out to light again; papyri and parchments of inestimable importance will turn up in the hands of men who pretend to have unrolled them from mummies, or stumbled upon them in buried crypts; tablets and pillars, whose sculptured revelations will stagger theologians and confound scientists, may yet be excavated and interpreted. Who knows the possibilities of the future? An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin - nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course; a new one is about to begin, and the future pages of history may contain full evidence, and convey full proof that

'If ancestry can be in aught believed,
Descending spirits have conversed with man,
And told him secrets of the world unknown.' "
(Vol. I, p. 38)


We record the passing of two staunch companions in the Cause:

Solomon Hecht, lately of San Diego, Cal., who left us March 4, 1947, had served our Movement since May. 7, 1892. His is a record of selfless devotion, self-sacrificing generosity, profound conviction, and ceaseless work. For years he lived at the New York Hdqrts., as Superintendent of the League of Theosophical Workers; he originated the idea of the "Purple Pence" which became of great financial help. He resided more than once at the Hdqrts. on Point Loma doing invaluable work in charge of magazine subscriptions; for a time he was President of Chicago Lodge No. 7, and constructively promoted Theosophical Fraternization. Solomon Hecht will be remembered as an outstanding example of practical Theosophy, of high integrity, and utter consistency in principles and conduct.

Major Hubert S. Turner who passed away March 19, 1947, in Palm Springs, Cal., was in the Movement for close to half a century. He was a noted inventor. Among his inventions should be mentioned the "busy signal" on the telephone, and the co-axial cable - now being laid across the U.S. - the principle of which he derived from the teachings in H.P.B.'s The Secret Doctrine. In the early days, Maj. Turner was very active in Katherine Tingley's work in Cuba. His Theosophical lectures and Radio Broadcasts will be remembered by many. He was a valiant supporter of the Fraternization idea. Having traveled all over the world, he was a man of universal sympathies, refreshing common sense, and unbounded enthusiasm in the Cause of Peace and Good Will to all. "Theosophia" will especially miss him, as his pungent articles signed "The Wayfarer" were eagerly looked for by readers. As expressed by one of them: "The Wayfarer is on his way, winging out away from our insecurities and irritations into a pristine peace he surely deserves." [10]


Manly Palmer Hall

When any thoughtful and fair-minded person is confronted with a book like Priestess of the Occult, by Gertrude Marvin Williams, he is likely to feel a genuine sympathy for a person so unfairly and vindictively attacked. It seems rather cruel and unnecessary to set about a systematic process of tearing down the life and work of a distinguished woman who is not alive to defend herself, and most of whose personal friends and associates have also passed on.

Madam Blavatsky was subjected to constant persecution during the year when she was establishing and expanding the Society which she formed. But she had the wisdom and skill to defend the principles for which she stood, often by means little short of miraculous. Perhaps, then, it is not entirely coincidental that just at the time I decided to write this little tribute to her memory, a copy of a letter pertinent to the subject, written by H.P.B. to a personal friend on July 5th 1890, came into my possession. As I am not sure that the contents of this private correspondence has been published, it seems appropriate to quote several extracts which are more to the point than anything that I could say. Let Madam speak for herself.

As usual H.P.B. was in the midst of her critics, and her remarks have the rugged quality for which she was justly famous. As Mrs. Williams is particularly incensed over Madam Blavatsky's claims about the existence of mahatmas and adepts, H.P.B.'s remarks on this controversial issue might have been addressed directly to our Denver authoress. * (*In the passages quoted from this letter written in her own handwriting, the spelling and punctuation have been left exactly as they appear in the original. In a few cases of obvious misspelling of Sanscrit terms, the correct transliteration has been added in brackets. - Ed. Theosophia.)

"All depends, you see, on what each of us means by Mahatmas or Masters. To a Hindu, no doubt, from the very learned Subba Row, down to Babula - 'Mahatma,' Guru or Master, is a naked Yogi with a chignon of entangled and unkempt hair on the top of the head; one who whether all Adweita [Adwaita], Dwaita or Visishadwaita [Visishtadwaita], ... or Vishnava [Vaishnava], or whatever else, follows the rules of Patanjali, of Chartanya Sankaracharya [Chaitanya Sankaracharya or any other of the known acheryas [acharyas]; one who calls upon the name of his 330 crown of deities, repeats parrot like his Aums, etc., etc. For me and those who know the Masters personally, our 'Mahatmas' so-called, are nothing of the kind. Olcott is home, and you may ask him what our Masters are like, whether from the description he had from me in New York and which was never altered to this day, or from the two Masters he met personally - one in Bombay and the other in Cashmere. My masters and the Masters are Yogis and Munis de facto, not de jure; in their life not in appearance. They are members of an occult Brotherhood, not of any particular School in India. One of their highest Mahachohans lived in Egypt and went to Tibet only a year before we did (in 1878) and he is neither a Tibetan nor a Hindu; this occult Brotherhood has not originated in Tibet, nor is it only in Tibet now; but what I always said and maintain to this day is, that most of its members and some of the highest are, and live constantly, in Tibet, because of its isolation and freedom from Christians; that its origin is of untold antiquity, and is as much Masonic as present Masonry is little Masonic; ... and finally that if I spoke only (to our Fellows of T.S.) of two or three Masters it is because my own Masters happen to be a Rajput [11] by birth - and 'Koot Hoomi' a Cashmerian, and therefore these were likely to be more authoritative with the Hindus than the rest of them. Ask Olcott, Sinnett, and even Hume, and even the latter could not without saying a lie tell you that I had not repeated this to them over and over again adding many a time that even few lamas knew the whole truth about the 'Chapa' (men-spirits) as they call them on account of their having so little to do with the general mass of the people. I said and repeat, that they are living men not 'spirits,' or even Nirmanakayas, that their knowledge arid learning are immense, and their personal holiness of life is still greater - still they are mortal men and none of them live 1000 years old as imagined by some. What I said and say, was and is, the truth; those who will have it, all right; those who see in what I say a cleverly concocted romance by me, are also welcome ...

When we went to Pondichery with Olcott to form a Branch, instead of fifty or sixty members we got but three or four. Why? Simply because I had said to an influential member that our Mahatmas did not sit buried in the earth letting their toe and finger nails grow a yard long and the birds make nests in their top-nots - for such was his idea. He left the T.S. and led away almost all others. Ask Olcott, he must remember the fact. And yet in the very room where visitors came to see us, in the crowd there stood a living Mahatma, whom I knew for years, who lives in the neighborhood, but whom no one seemed to know in Pondichery, and who was mistaken for a Malayalin - a stranger!"

We cannot expect those who have no conception of an inner mystical life and no intention of seeking enlightenment through the unfoldment of their own inner faculties to understand or appreciate the esoteric tradition. They will not investigate, therefore, cannot equip themselves with the means of passing an intelligent judgment.

The late Srimat Kuladananda Brahmachary, one of the most deeply venerated of the Madhwacharya Order, said to me in Calcutta years ago, "If the West really wants to understand the Eastern mystics it is not so difficult. Select from your Universities a group of your outstanding students and professors; send them to us, and let them remain for five years following our instructions and obeying our rules; then let these then pass judgment upon our methods and our accomplishments."

The thousands of sincere and aspiring men and women in all parts of the world, who are proud to acknowledge the debt which they owe to Madam Blavatsky, will be properly indignant at a book which is so obviously an enterprise in catchpenny journalism. But they will remain forever grateful for the light of Eastern wisdom brought to the West by the white Yogini. We will always revere her as a faithful, unselfish servant of the Masters of Wisdom.


The portrait of H.P.B. which appears as frontispiece in this issue is but little known to Theosophists. Most students are familiar with the one in which H.P.B., with shawl wrapt round her head, is looking straight at us. Some have referred to it as the "Sphinx." When Messrs. Elliot and Fry of London took that portrait in 1888, two further negatives were made. They were rejected by H.P.B. The better of these two is reproduced on our title-page, by kind permission of Doris Grove, General Secretary, The Theosophical Society in England (Adyar), which latter holds the copyright to the portrait. It was originally published in The Theosophist, April, 1946. [12]


Boris de Zirkoff


"In 1882 the President of the Theosophical Society, Col. Olcott, was taken to task for asserting in one of his lectures that Electricity is matter. Such, nevertheless, is the teaching of the Occult Doctrine. 'Force,' 'Energy,' may be a better name for it, so long as European Science knows so little about its true nature; yet matter it is, as much as Ether is matter, since it is as atomic, though several removes from the latter. It seems ridiculous to argue that because a thing is imponderable to Science, therefore it cannot he called matter. Electricity is 'immaterial' in the sense that its molecules are not subject to perception and experiment; yet it may be - and Occultism says it is - atomic; therefore it is matter. But even supposing it were unscientific to speak of it in such terms, once Electricity is called in Science a source of Energy, Energy simply, and a Force - where is that Force or that Energy which can be thought of without thinking of matter? Maxwell, a mathematician and one of the greatest authorities upon Electricity and its phenomena, said, years ago, that Electricity was matter, not motion merely. 'If we accept the hypothesis that the elementary substances are composed of atoms we cannot avoid concluding that electricity also, positive as well as negative, is divided into definite elementary portions, which behave like atoms of electricity.' ( Helmholtz, Faraday Lecture, 1881 ). We will go further than that, and assert that Electricity is not only Substance but that it is an emanation from an Entity, which is neither God nor Devil, but one of the numberless Entities that rule and guide our world according to the eternal Law of KARMA." (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 111, footnote).

"The particles of physics can be described in two different ways. On the one hand they are sources in gravitational or electrical fields, and, being important characteristics of the field, that is, of a space-time structure, can be regarded as belonging to the physical world. On the other hand, the particles have rest-masses, angular moments, and in some cases at least, electric charges, of definite amounts, or integral multiples of such amounts, a fact which indicates that they have properties which cannot be expressed in terms of our concept of space and time alone. The particles themselves therefore transcend the physical world as previously defined. They seem to have their 'roots' in a non-physical world, and they emerge into the space-time world as sources in a field of force. They belong to the class of intermediate elements mentioned before." (From "The Physical and the Non-Physical Worlds and their Intermediate Elements," by Dr. Gustaf Stromberg, The Scientific Monthly, Vol. liv, January, 1947, pp. 71-80).


"'The Causes of Existence' mean not only the physical causes known to science, but the metaphysical causes, the chief of which is the desire to exist, an outcome of Nidana and Maya. This desire for a sentient life shows itself in everything, from an atom to a sun, and is a reflection of the Divine Thought - propelled into objective existence, into a law that the Universe should exist. According to esoteric teaching, the real cause of that supposed desire, and of all existence, remains for ever hidden, and its first emanations are the most complete abstractions mind can conceive. These abstractions most of necessity be postulated as the cause of the material Universe which presents itself to the senses and intellect; and they underlie the secondary and subordinate powers of Nature, which, anthropomorphized, has been worshiped as God and gods by the common herd of every age. It is impossible to conceive anything without a cause; the attempt to do so makes the mind a blank ... These abstractions become more and more concrete as they approach our plane of existence, until finally they phenomenalise in the [13] form of the material Universe, by a process of conversion of metaphysics into physics, analogous to that by which steam can be condensed into water, and the water frozen into ice.

"... the One Being is the noumenon of all the numena which we know must underlie phenomena, and give them whatever shadow of reality they possess, but which we have not the senses or the intellect to cognize at present." ( The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, pp. 44-45.).

"We have every reason to believe that all the attributes of Cosmos are interrelated and form a unified whole. It seems that the human and animal brains have elements originating in Cosmos and still retaining their association with their ultimate, world-transcending source and origin, the origin determining the physical as well as the non-physical qualities of the elements ... But Cosmos itself is one and indivisible, and it is due to a peculiarity of our mind and our nervous system that we picture it in the form of aspects and categories ...

"Matter and life and consciousness have their 'roots' in a world beyond space and time. They emerge into the physical world at certain well defined point, a sources from which they expand in the form of guiding fields with space and time properties. Some of the sources can be identified with material particles, and others with the living element, responsible for organization and purposeful activities. Some of them exist in our brain as neurones, and some of them have a very intimate and special association with their ultimate origin. They are the roots of our consciousness and the sources of all our knowledge." (Dr. Gustaf Stromberg, op. cit., pp. 78 and 80.)


"If ever this theory of the Sun-Force being the primal cause of all life on earth and motion in heaven is accepted, and if that other far bolder one of Herschell - about certain organisms in the Sun - is accepted even as a provisional hypothesis, then will our teachings be vindicated, and esoteric allegory shown to have anticipated Modern Science by millions of year, probably, for these are the Archaic teachings ... It is the Sun-fluids or Emanations that impart all motion and awaken all into life, in the Solar System. It is attraction and repulsion, but not as understood by modern physics and according to the law of gravity; but in harmony with the laws of Manvantaric motion designed from the early Sandhya, the Dawn of the rebuilding and higher reformation of the System ...

"... the Sun is the store-house of Vital Force, which is the Noumenon of Electricity ... it is from its mysterious, never-to-be-fathomed depths, that issue those life currents which thrill through Space, as through the organisms of every living thing on Earth." ( The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, pp. 529-531 ).

"Although it is but one of the many atomic species which make up living matter, carbon occupies a unique position because of the enormous number of compounds it can form. All animal life derives its energy - as well as the structural and functional components of all tissues except bone - from the carbon compounds of plants. These in turn are capable of taking carbon dioxide, discarded by animals as the waste-product of energy consumption, and re-synthesizing it into energy-containing compounds available again for animal consumption. The energy required, which is therefore the energy consumed by all animal life, is derived from sunlight. This process is known as photosynthesis: synthesis under the influence of light. Hence all of man's working energy is derived from the sun through a synthetic process involving carbon. It is, therefore, of fundamental importance to man to understand how this is accomplished." (From The International Control of Atomic Energy, Chap. on Radioisotopes, p. 50, Department of State Publication 2661.) [14]


[Two portrait photos here.]

Boris de Zirkoff

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with H.P.B.'s family background, the following data may be of interest. Her maternal grand-parentS, whose portraits are seen above, Were: Andrey Mihailovich de Fadeyelf, Privy Councillor, Director of the Department of State Land, in the Caucasus, and for some years Governor of the Province of Saratoff; and Helena Pavlovna, nee Princess Dolgorukova. The latter was a very remarkable person. She was a noted botanist, a woman of unusual scholarly attainments and of great culture, which was very rare for a woman of that period of Russian history. She was in correspondence with a number of scientists, among them Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792-1871 ), British geologist and one of the Founders of the Royal Geographical Society, who went on an extensive geological expedition to Russia. She spoke five foreign languages and was an excellent painter. Her extensive herbarium was presented after her death to the University of St. Petersburg.

Their eldest daughter (portrait on p. 15), Helena Andreyevna (1814-1842), who later married Col. Peter von Hahn, grew up in an atmosphere of culture and scholarship. Very early in life, she became a noted novelist, her first work being published when she was only 23. Her marriage was an unhappy one, mainly due to incompatibility and the inability on her part to fit into the narrow groove of her husband's military life. In her novels, she pictured the wretched position of women, their lack of opportunity and education, and raised the problem of their ultimate emancipation. She was the first woman in Russia to do it by literary means. Her best works are "Utballa," "Jelalu'd-Din," "'Theophany Abbiagio," and "Lubonka." She wrote under the pseudonym of Zinaida R-. She died at the age of 28, and was hailed by the greatest Russian literary critic Byelinsky as a "Russian George Sand."

The other children of the Fadeyeffs were: Rostislav Andreyevich, Major-General in the Artillery, Joint Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior, and a noted writer on subjects of military strategy; Nadezhda Andreyevna (1828-1919), who never married and was for some years a member of the Council of the Theosophical Society; Katherine Andreyevna, who married Yuliy F. de Witte and was the mother of the famous statesman, Count Serguey Y. de Witte; and finally Eudoxia Andreyevna, married to Jelihovsky.

H.P.B.'s father, Col. of Artillery Peter Alexeyevich Von Hahn (d. 1873), son of Gen. Alexis A. von Hahn and Countess von Probsting, descended from an old Mecklenburg (Germany) family, Hahn von Rottenstern-Hahn, one branch of which had emigrated to Russia many years before. After the untimely death of his wife, and owing to his constant travels, he had his children stay with, and be educated by, their grand-mother, Helena P. de Fadeyeff. These children were: Helena Petrovna, who later married Gen. Nikifor Blavatsky; Vera Petrovna, who married first Yahontoff and then Jelihovsky, her own cousin, and became a well known writer of children's stories; Leonid, with whom H.P.B. stayed for some time in Paris; and Alexander, who died in infancy. [15]


[Portrait photo here]

Gen. P.S. Nikolayeff
Excerpts from the Reminiscences of Prince A.I. Baryatinsky, by Gen P.S. Nikolayeff, which appeared in the Istorichesky Vestnik (Historical Messenger), St. Petersburg, Russia, Vol. vi, December, 1885, pp. 622-624.

... in that room there was a perpetual uproar; in it were being settled not only the problems of Europe, but of the whole world, and my late friend, Rostislav Andreyevich de Fadeyeff, could justly be called the presiding genius of these stormy debates. He spoke very well and with originality, and a circle of listeners constantly crowded around him. Fadeyeff is too well known, for me to speak about him. But his entire family way so noteworthy that I cannot help but pause in my reminiscences and tarry in loving thought on the years when I was acquainted with it.

The old gentleman, Andrey Mihailovich de Fadeyeff (father of Rostislav), in spite of his advancing years, was in possession of the full vigor of his intellectual capacities, and his stories about the latter years of Emperor Paul's reign, and the entire reign of Alexander I, took us back into those remote times. His wife, Helena Pavlovna, nee Princess Dolgorukova, was a most remarkable person, due to her vast knowledge in the domain of natural sciences.

The husband of the second daughter, Katherine Andreyevna, the late Y.F. de Witte, a graduate of two foreign universities and an outstanding functionary in the administration of Prince Baryatinsky, was without doubt one of the most cultured individuals in Tiflis.

The eldest sister of Rostislav, Madam von Hahn - then some years deceased - and who wrote under the pseudonym of Zinaida R., was one of flee most revered writers of her time.

The other two daughters, E.A. de Witte and H.A. de Fadeyeff, were in perfect harmony with all the outstanding members of that family. If we add to what has already been said the grand old-fashioned cordiality and hospitality which characterised the Fadeyeffs, it [16] will be plain to everybody why an acquaintance with them left most peasant memories behind.

They were living in the ancient mansion of the Princes Chavchavadze, the very building itself carrying the imprint of something peculiar, something that evoked the epoch of Catherine the Great. A long and gloomy hall, hung with the family portraits of the Fadeyeffs and the Princes Dolgoruky; then the drawing-room, its walls covered with Gobelins - a present from the Empress Catherine to Prince Chavchavadze; this was adjoined by the apartment of Miss N. A. de Fadeyeff, in itself one of the most remarkable private museums - such was the setting of this mansion. The exhibits in this museum were unique on account of their variety: weapons from all over the world, goblets and plates, archaic domestic utensils, Chinese and Japanese idols, mosaics, icons of the Byzantine epoch, Persian and Turkish textiles, embroidered with silks and gold, statues, paintings, petrified fossils, and, finally, a very rare and precious library. The emancipation of the serfs altered in no way the life of the Fadeyeffs, their enormous retinue of domestics remaining with them as hired people, and everything went on as of yore, comfortably and in plenty. I loved to spend my evenings with them. At a quarter to eleven, the old gentleman would retire, shuffling along the door in his warm slippers. Without disturbance, supper would be brought into the drawing-room, the doors would be tightly shut, and an animated conversation would ensue. At times it was contemporaneous literature or current problems of Russian life that were being analyzed; at other times one listened to the narrative of some traveler, or the account of some sun-burnt officer just back from the battle-field; sometimes there came the old Spaniard Mason, Quartano, with his tales of the Napoleonic wars; or again it was Radda-Bai (Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, grand-daughter of A. M. de Fadeyeff) who called forth from her past, stormy episodes of her life in America. At times the conversation would take a mystical turn, and Radda-Bai would evoke invisible beings. The candles would glimmer low, the figures on the Gobelins would appear to come to life, unwittingly one felt a creepy sensation, while the Eastern sky was already lighting up against the dark background of the southern night ...


(Partial Directory)

THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: Intern'l Hdqrts., Adyar, Madras, India. C. Jinarajadasa, President. Off. Organ of the Pres.: The Theosophist.
United States Section: James S. Perkins, Gen. Sec'y, "Olcott," Wheaton, Ill. Off. Organ: The American Theosophist. Canadian Section: Lt.-Col. E. L. Thomson, Gen. Sec'y, 52 Isabella St., Toronto, Ontario. Off. Organ: The Canadian Theosophist (Albert E.S. Smythe, Editor).
Literature: The Theosophical Publishing House. Adyar, Madras, India, and 68 Great Russell St., London W.C. 1, England. - The Theosophical Press, '"Olcott," Wheaton, Ill. - Editions Adyar, 4 Square Rapp, Paris vii, France.

THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: Intern'l Hdqrts., Covina, Calif., U.S.A. Arthur L. Conger, Leader. Off. Organ: The Theosophical Forum.
American-Canadian Section: Maj. Oliver J. Schoonmaker, Pres., 802 Jackson Ave., Washington 12, D.C.
Literature: Theosophical University Press, Covina, Calif. - Theosophical Book Co., 119 Stoughton Rd., Guildford, Surrey, England. - U.M., C.A.J. van Dishoek c.v., Nwe. 's-Graveland-scheweg 36, Bussum, Holland. - Box 1292 G.P.O., Sydney, Australia. - Teosofiska Bokforiaget, Tegnersgatan 29, Stockholm, Sweden.

THE UNITED LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS: selected list of centers -
Los Angeles 7, Calif., 245 West 33rd St. Literature: Theosophy Company, publishers of the magazine Theosophy.
Bombay, India, 51 Mahatma Gandhi Rd. Literature: Theosophy Company, Ltd., Publishers of the magazine The Theosophical Movement. - International Book House, Ltd., Bombay 1. - "Aryasangha," Malabar Hill, Bombay 6, Editors of the magazine The Aryan Path.
London, England, 17 Great Cumberland Place.
Paris v, France, 14 Rue de l'Abbe de l'Epee.
Sydney, Australia, Federation House, 166 Philip St.

THE BLAVATSKY ASSOCIATION: 26 Bedford Gardens, Campden Hill, London, W.8, England.