This essay started off as a lecture presented at Treadwells Bookshop of London in February 2008, as part of LGBT History Month.
The Theosophical Society was one of the most influential esoteric movements of the Twentieth Century, not only in terms of its role in formulating many concepts that remain popular in contemporary occult and new age ideology, but also in shaping the modern world as we know it. In this series of posts, I will examine the sex scandals that dogged the career of one of the Society’s most infamous members, Charles Webster Leadbeater, a prolific author and lecturer, who was hailed by his followers as one of humanity’s most advanced adepts, yet at the same time, denounced by others as “a sex-pervert.” Continue reading »
The Tantrists do not seem to go higher than the six visible and known plexuses, with each of which they connect the tattvas; and the great stress they place on the chief of these, the Muladhara Chakra (the sacral plexus) shows the material and selfish bent of their efforts towards the acquisition of powers.The Mahatma Letters (Letter CXIV, p480)
In the last post I reviewed how the notion of the “left-hand path” and much of the themes which relate to it emerged out of nineteenth century Indology. I will now turn to how the concept of the left-hand path” was used by Madame Blavatsky and other early Theosophists. Continue reading »
In popular occult discourse, the concept of the “Left-hand Path” is often stated as originating within the tantric traditions, and sometimes, its popularisation within western occultism is laid at the door of Madame Blavatsky and other popular Theosophical pundits of the late nineteenth century – to the extent that the conceptualisation of the idea of the LHP in wholly negative terms (as can be seen in the writings of successive western occultists – Dion Fortune for example) is something that begins with Madame Blavatsky. However, although she may have been one of the first occultists to write extensively about the Left Hand Path, its identification with moral (and spiritual) degeneracy certainly did not begin with Blavatsky. Continue reading »
It often seems to me that many occult representations of gender are rooted in nineteenth century formations, so I thought, for this post, it’d be interesting to examine some occult theories that emerged in this period – such as representations of the connection made between reincarnation, masculinity & femininity & the soul’s evolution, and the so-called “Uranian” temperament which emerged from various Theosophical sources in the late nineteenth & early twentieth century. Continue reading »