Alice Bailey was founder of a spiritual movement growing out of the Theosophical tradition. Born to well-to-do parents in Manchester, England, she was raised in the conservative evangelical wing of the Church of England. Although she early showed mystical tendencies, her childhood was generally unhappy. After finishing school at the age of eighteen she threw herself into religious work in the Young Women’s Christian Association. The Y.W.C.A. sent her to India, where she delivered strongly evangelical sermons to British troops. There she met Walter Evans, an American studying for the Episcopal priesthood. They were married in 1907, and she returned with him to the United States. After his ordination the couple settled in California. The marriage failed, however, and they separated in 1915 and were divorced in 1919.
Amid this personal crisis, Alice Evans – then working in a fish cannery in Pacific Grove, California – discovered Theosophy in 1915. Although her first reaction was negative, she soon found that certain of its ideas, such as karma and the existence of the Masters, appealed to her mystic side and were of help to her in her plight. She joined the Theosophical Society and, in 1917, moved to Hollywood, California, where she worked in the vegetarian cafeteria at Krotona, the Theosophical center. She there met Foster Bailey, national secretary of the Theosophical Society, whom she subsequently married.
Bailey’s relationship to the TS soon suffered strains. This was first the result of her claimed reception of new communications from Masters in the Theosophical tradition. In November 1919, as she was walking in the Hollywood Hills near Krotona, she believed she was contacted by one of the Masters, Djual Khul, known popularly as “The Tibetan,” who wanted her to serve as his amanuensis. Thirty years of work, it was later said, was planned. He began dictating to her by means of telepathy. The first book produced in this manner Initiation: Human and Solar, was commenced in 1920 and appeared in 1922; it was followed by nineteen others over the next thirty years. Uniformly bound in blue, they are the basic texts of the Bailey work.
Resentment of her claims by some Theosophists, together with her own disappointment at being denied membership in the Esoteric School of Theosophy, a Theosophical study group following certain spiritual disciplines, induced her and Foster Bailey to leave Krotona and the Theosophical Society as early as 1920. They went to New York, where they were married the following year. In 1922 they established the Lucis Trust to publish her books, and in 1923 founded the Arcane School, a training institution for students of the Tibetan’s teaching.
The remainder of her life was spent in writing and in the administration of the School and other activities which the work of the Tibetan inspired. In 1937 Bailey published the prayer called The Great Invocation. Widely used in occult and New Age circles; it is no doubt the best-known work associated with her name.
From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let LIGHT descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let Love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May CHRIST return to Earth.
From the center where the Will of God is known
— Let Purpose guide the little wills of men —
The PURPOSE which the Masters know and serve.
From the center which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power
Restore the Plan on Earth.
Perhaps as well as anything could, the tone and thrust of these simple lines suggest the distinctive ethos of the Bailey work. It clearly shares basic Theosophical teaching concerning human nature, Karma, and the claimed existence of a hierarchy of a generally invisible but transcendent Masters guiding individual spiritual development and the evolution of the planet. But the work also displays a special quality that might be called theosophical eschatology. That emphasis is further suggested in the titles of two of the Bailey books, The Reappearance of the Christ and The Externalization of the Hierarchy.
Groups in the Bailey tradition have had several names, among them World Goodwill, Triangles, Meditation Groups for the New Age. World Goodwill was founded in 1932 with the purpose of helping establish right relationships among the peoples of the world; it is an “accredited non-governmental organization” at United Nations centers in New York and Geneva. The Triangles group was established in 1937 to create teams of three people each of whom would unite daily in a mental chain to send energy into the world. The Meditation Group for the New Age, the Group for Creative Meditation and other such works are sponsored by Meditation Groups, Inc., are headquartered on a mountainside near Ojai, California.
The practice of the Bailey meditation groups is group meditation held at the time of each full moon, a time when spiritual energies are said to be especially clear. Then through deep gathered concentration, perhaps guided by the Great Invocation, it seeks to lead the power of the Hierarchy into the affairs of earth. It is not uncommon for aesthetics to be brought into the activity as well. Music and dance – often avant-garde – may have a place in full moon worship along with meditation and a spoken message. The tradition has emphasized a special idealism toward international understanding, co-operation and the United Nations; positive developments in these arenas are perhaps signs of the forthcoming New Age.
Bailey’s “Tibetan” books are considered by some to be classics of esoteric wisdom, and directly or indirectly have affected millions of twentieth century lives. Five books in the series are said to have been written entirely by Bailey, without the inner guidance of the Tibetan. After her death in 1949, the publishing and educational work was continued by Foster Bailey until his death in 1977. A basic source for Bailey’s life and teaching, in addition to the Tibetan works, is her Unfinished Autobiography, (Lucis Press Ltd., London, 1951).
Bailey’s published works include: Consciousness of the Atom; Initiation, Human and Solar; A Treatise on Cosmic Fire (1962, 1925, 1973, 1982); The Light of the Soul (1955, 1927, 1972, 1983); The Soul and Its Mechanism; From Intellect to Intuition (1960, 1932, 1972, 1974); A Treatise on White Magic; A Treatise on the Seven Rays; The Reappearance of the Christ; Discipleship in the new Age (1955, 1968, 1972); The Externalization of the Hierarchy.
All published by Lucis Publishing Company, New York.