Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Where are the leprachauns?
"ULT” was a weekly magazine published in San Francisco. It described itself as “devoted to the Theosophical movement, the brotherhood of humanity, the study of occult science and Aryan literature.” I looked through some of the issues published in 1914. The curious name is a reference to the publishers, the United Lodge of Theosophists. The group was headed by Robert Crosbie and represented a split from the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society of Katherine Tingley (often called the Theosophical Society Pasadena). Crosbie stood for a strict Theosophical orthodoxy, exclusively based on the writings of Helena Blavatsky and William Quan Judge. The United Lodge of Theosophists still exist, and even has a small branch in Sweden.
I admit that “ULT” is a quite well-written magazine. It attempts to portray Theosophy as rationally as possible, and thus avoids the Mahatmas and too detailed expositions of the planetary chains and rounds. The articles emphasize basic doctrines: reincarnation, karma, the idea that mind isn't material, cosmic evolution and progress. While we are forced to live out the results of our bad karma, we can nevertheless create good karma by cultivating character, striving to become less selfish, and cleanse our thoughts from negativity. Thus, humans really have no excuses for behaving amorally.
In line with the “rational” orientation goes a rejection of reincarnation memories (true memories of past lives are said to be extremely rare), criticism of Spiritualism, and claims that archaeology has proven the existence of Atlantis, Lemuria and Tertiary Man. “ULT” quotes extensively from Blavatsky's “The Secret Doctrine”, but also has soft spots for Alfred Russell Wallace, Emerson, William James and Oliver Lodge. Patanjali is often exposited upon. However, there is also a marked sectarian tendency directed against New Thought, Christian Science and Spiritualism. W B Yeats is criticized for communicating with spirits. The wrong kind of spirits, presumably?
At one point, “ULT” actually reproduces a funny statement by G K Chesterton, which I just have to reproduce myself: "Mankind has in nearly all places and periods seen that there is a soul and a body as plainly as that there is a sun and a moon. But because a narrow Protestant sect called Materialists declared for a short time that there was no soul, another narrow Protestant sect called Christian Scientist is now maintaining that there is no body". Ha ha!
I admit that I kind of like “ULT” and its cleaned up version of occultism. But is this how the cosmos *really* looks like? Somehow I doubt it. After screen-reading this civilized magazine for some hours, I almost long for a leprachaun to appear somewhere! Besides, I suppose Crosbie really did believe in the Ascended Masters, despite toning down that aspect of the secret doctrine in his magazine…