Notable Books

Notable Books 22

A good book: anytime, anyplace

Lachman, Gary. Revolutionaries of the Soul: Reflections on Magicians, Philosophers, and Occultists. Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages x + 222.


This book is an overview of more or less recent esotericists, such as Swedenborg, Éliphas Lévi, Rudolf Steiner, Manly Palmer Hall, Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, C. G. Jung, P. D. Ouspensky, and — especially for us — H. P. Blavatsky, who is treated in chapter 6 on “The Inimitable Madame B.” (pp. 63-74). That chapter begins: “New York’s East Side isn’t somewhere that we’d usually associate with the start of a new spiritual movement, but on September 13, 1875, that’s exactly what it was.” And the chapter ends: “Blavatsky . . . died on May 8, 1891, a day celebrated in Theosophical communities as White Lotus Day. She was sixty and had taken the world by storm, and her last words are characteristically blunt:, ‘Don’t let my last incarnation be a failure.’ Chances are we will not see her like again, but with her help, anyone today can remove the veil from Isis and discover where the secret wisdom can be found.

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Notable Books 21

Always on the lookout for a good book….

Barber, Phyllis. To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages x + 258. $18.95.

Mormonism has some historical links with Freemasonry (“Masonry in Mormonism,” by Joseph Lloyd), but Co-Masonry is not one of them, nor is sexual equality in spiritual matters. I am probably one of the few non-Mormons who can claim to have read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. It is a fantastic (in the sense “based on fantasy, conceived by unrestrained fancy”) account of ancient prophets who lived in America from approximately 2200 BC to 421 AD. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon. According to Smith’s account and the book’s narrative, the Book of Mormon was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as “reformed Egyptian” engraved on golden plates. Smith said that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in a hill in present-day New York, then returned to earth in 1827 as an angel, revealing the location of the book to Smith, and instructing him to translate it into English for use in the restoration of Christ’s true church in the latter days.

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Notable Books 20

Poos-Benson, Stephen. Sent to Soar: Fulfill Your Divine Potential for Yourself and for the World. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages xiv + 261.

This is a spiritual self-improvement book. Each of its ten chapters is followed by a list of “Questions to Help You Discover and Explore Your Divine Purpose.” The chapters skim over a wide variety of approaches to self-discovery beginning with traditional religions and going on to a potpourri of others. The approach seems to try for humor, with the self-referred to as “the Goo that is you” and free will called “the Holy Hairball.” A problem with the book’s diversity of approaches is that a reader may find in it a confused tangle of ways rather than a clear path. Its bibliography lists forty-odd volumes, none of which are Theosophical.

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Notable Books 19

Hoeller, Stephan A. The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 1982, 7th printing, 2009. © 1982. Pp. xxviii + 239. $15.95.

Gnostic Jung

This is exactly the sort of book TPH should be publishing: readable by the general public, authoritative (in that the author knows his subject both deeply and broadly), enriched by personal details, and clearly relevant to traditional Theosophical interests. First, however, a disclaimer: In his preface, Hoeller acknowledges me for having read his manuscript and made suggestions about it. In neither my records nor recollection is any allusion to my having done so; still I must have.

Gnosis is from a Greek work cognate with English know. So it means “knowledge.” But not knowledge about the observable facts of the universe, rather a special knowledge of spiritual mysteries. Historically, the Gnostics were any of several types of first- to third-century AD mystics whom conventional Christians of that time regarded as heretics. Gnosticism includes a “conviction that direct, personal and absolute knowledge of the authentic truths of existence is accessible to human beings, and, moreover, that the attainment of such knowledge must always constitute the supreme achievement of human life” (p. 11). Jung was born synchronistically in 1875.

Of special interest to readers of this Theosophy Forward Web site are the following remarks: “Theo-Sophic tradition was recognized by Jung to have taken many forms throughout the ages, but also to have been particularly manifest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries within the movement of modern Theosophy, enunciated by the Russian noblewoman and world-traveler, Madame H. P. Blavatsky. In such works as The Undiscovered Self and Civilization in Transition Jung clearly recognized modern Theosophy as an important contemporary manifestation of Gnosticism, and he likened it to a submarine mountain range spreading beneath the waves of the mainstream culture, with only the projecting mountain peaks becoming visible from time to time through the attention received by Mme. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti and others” (p. 26).

Notable Books 18

Reading good books is a thrilling experience…

Besant, Annie. Invisible Worlds: Annie Besant on Psychic and Spiritual Development. Essays compiled by Kurt Leland. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2013. © 2013. Pp. [xii] + 411. $28.95.

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Notable Books 17

A good book is like an apple…once you start….

Decker, Ronald. The Esoteric Tarot: Ancient Sources Rediscovered in Hermeticism and Cabala. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2013. Pp. xi + 330. $23.95.

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