The last great undertaking of Blavatsky's life was begun during the same month that the first volume of The Secret Doctrine was published: October, 1888. In the pages of Blavatsky's new magazine, Lucifer, Olcott announced the formation of an "Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society".1) The Head of the "ES", as it became known, was to be Blavatsky, and her students in the ES would have no corporate connection with the "Exoteric Society".2)
The proposition to found an inner circle within the Theosophical Society was not a popular one with Olcott. Relations between the Adyar and London bodies, strained since the SPR report, had become even more agitated by Blavatsky's decision to agree to the founding of her own Theosophical lodge (at the behest of her coterie of students, and named for herself) and to initiate Lucifer which inevitably competed with The Theosophist.3) That Olcott capitulated is evidence of Blavatsky's persuasive power, and of his justifiable fear of open schism.
Blavatsky, as the "mouthpiece" for the Masters, would provide all teachings for the ES.4) The objective of the ES was such that:
[E]ach member of this Section will be brought more closely than hitherto under His influence and care if found worthy of it. No student, however, need inquire which of the Masters it is.5)
The ES was not the
first inner group within the Theosophical Society, but it differed from others
in that it came under the direct patronage of a Master, and was entirely
Blavatsky's domain.6) Indeed, within a year she had decided to convene a
semi-secret gathering within the Esoteric Section, called the 'Inner Group',
devoted to "advanced teaching" and directed enticingly to
The Inner Group
Much has been made of the secrecy surrounding the Inner Group of the ES, and it has become commonplace among Theosophists to suspect that the "practical occultism" which took place within the specially-constructed "Occult Room" was of such a high order that none of the pledged members ever spoke of it.8) (More likely, whatever ceremonial was undertaken was of a rather anodyne type and by far the greater part of each weekly meeting was taken up with lectures delivered in Blavatsky's unvarying Socratic method).9) Contributing to this atmosphere of mystique was the fact that the Inner Group comprised six men, seated to Blavatsky's right, and six women, seated to her left. This quasi-apostolic arrangement was perhaps more welcome synchronicity than design;10) two non-English members were pledged, and one further member, William Wynn Westcott (1848-1925), appears to have been admitted honoris causa (and received copies of all correspondence).11)
Although certain of Blavatsky's ES "Instructions" have been in the public domain for some years, only recently have the "Minutes" been circulated in an undeniably authentic version.12) It is a curiosity that, of all her œuvre, these "Minutes" are perhaps the least read and assessed, yet comprise the last expansive testament of Blavatskian Theosophy. A sifting though of all the occultist minutiae of these teachings reveals that the "practical occultism" of the Inner Group was a species of gnostic heavenly ascent,13) which, for all of its ostensibly Oriental metaphysical vocabulary and mythology, is akin to a highly Neoplatonicised Kabbalah.14)
Extending her septenary systematics, Blavatsky taught a seven-fold scale of emanations from the Absolute Unknowable to the world of forms.15) Employing a vast range of correspondences, Blavatsky aligned this septenary scale of descent with human endocrinology and neurology, with colours and human sense perception, with angelic hierarchies and physical elements, and so on - all allocated to a particular locus along the vertical axis from purest spirit to densest matter.16) The degree to which knowledge of such correspondences actually comprised the heart of the teaching is noted by Blavatsky:
The important thing to be kept secret was the way in which such teachings were put into practice, the correspondences.17)
Blavatsky reconfigured the traditional notion of the Kabbalistic sefirot (as hypostatisations of divine attributes)18) into Lokas, or "planes of substance".19) She thus incorporated Hindu cosmological principles into her descensus framework and presented each as an emanatory gradation of spirit into substance. The Theosophist, not ontologically sundered from pure Spirit but a "Divine consciousness" hypostatically united with dense matter, is required to traverse each of the Lokas in order to gain "individualised self-consciousness", and thus precipitate personal evolution:20)
Now all these 14 are planes from without within, and states of consciousness through which man can pass, and must pass, once he is determined to go through the 7 paths and Portals of the Dhyani. One need not to be disembodied for this. All this is reached on earth in one, or many, of the incarnations.21)
The Dhyanis, each allocated a place within the strata of Lokas from spirit to matter, comprise the angelology so reminiscent of Kabbalistic theurgy and it is the task of the Theosophist to strive "towards assimilation with the inhabitants of the Lokas".22) This systematic "assimilation" requires a technology predicated upon the chains of sympathies which unite the cosmos; the Master Koot Hoomi described this universal concordism in the following terms:
Nature has linked all parts of her Empire together by subtle threads of magnetic sympathy, and, there is a mutual correlation even between a star and a man; thought runs swifter than the electric fluid, and your thought will find me if projected by a pure impulse, as mine will find, has found, and often impressed your mind. We may move in cycles of activity divided - not entirely separated from each other.23)
The "subtle threads of magnetic fluid" may only be activated by the application of "Imagination" and will; these Blavatsky picturesquely deems the "lightning conductor which leads the electric fluid".24) Typically, Blavatsky employs a Sanskrit term, Kriyasakti (literally, "the power of action") to denote the potentialities of engaged imagination:
The first step towards the accomplishment of Kriyasakti is the use of the Imagination. To "Imagine" a thing is to firmly create a model of what you desire, perfect in all its details. The will is then brought into action, and the form is thereby transferred to the objective world. This is creation by Kriyasakti.25)
Kriyasakti enables the Theosophist "to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy".26) The employment of Kriyasakti is no less than a microcosmic emulation of the Creative power of the cosmos; the manipulation of the Quintessence.27) Such divine faculty is devastating if placed in the hands of the unenlightened majority: the Atlantean conflagration is a salutary lesson in its abuse by the uninitiated.28) Blavatsky is quite declarative in ruing the paucity of candidates to whom such powers could be entrusted during her own day, for the vast majority are too heavily ensconced in matter - thus "materialists". Those in whom spirit predominates (those in higher evolutionary sub-races, and especially those Monads incarnating in the far-distant sixth and seventh Rounds of this cycle)29) and who are prepared to undergo onerous chelaship, may be granted the ability to employ Kriyasakti to the benefit of themselves and others:
Learn first the notes, then the chords, and then the melodies. Once the student is master of every chord, he may begin to be a co-worker with nature and for others. He may then by the experience he has gained of his own nature, and by his knowledge of the "chords", strike such as will be beneficial in another.30)
There can be little doubt that Blavatsky's teachings about Kriyasakti, when coupled with her septenary correspondences (whose efficacy, in characteristically Blavatskian thinking, rests upon causal principles)31) constitute the necessary framework for a theurgy. It is certain that such teachings calmed the fears of some that "practical occultism" was to be a chimera, even within the Inner Group. Yet, as ever, Blavatsky eschewed any notion that the Theosophical Society was "a sort of occult academy, an institution established to afford facilities for the instruction of would-be miracle workers".32) For her, the prime goal of Theosophy was always to be restitutio rerum ad integrum by means of shedding the cloak of matter which occludes true vision, and thereby expediting the involution to Spirit:33)
The fewer the coverings over sense-consciousness, the clearer the vision, for each envelope adds something of illusion. Only when the true discerning or discriminating power is set free is illusion overcome, and the setting free of that power is ... the attainment of Adeptship.34)
The basic orientation of the Inner Group teachings is toward a gnostic heavenly ascent, supported at every juncture by the template of the Western esoteric traditions. The ascent to the Kabbalistic-sounding "Rootless Root" is predicated upon the Theosophist's relationship with his "'inner god' ... [who] gives him this power", for intellect alone will not suffice: "it is the intellect plus the spiritual that raises man".35) In order to gain from the exalted experience of "identification" with the spirits of the higher Lokas, the Theosophist is required to employ an active memory, reminiscent of the "Art of Memory" so beloved of Renaissance Hermeticists like Bruno: "In order to remember the higher state on returning to the lower, the memory must be carried upwards to the higher. An Adept [Master] may apparently enjoy a dual consciousness".36) Indeed, the Master remains central, in a literal sense, to the entire exercise; Koot Hoomi noted:
Your best method is to concentrate on the Master as a Living Man within you. Make his image in your heart, and a focus of concentration, so as to lose all sense of bodily existence in the one thought.37)
The Inner Group teachings are the natural progeny of Blavatsky's public writings. In the 15 years between the establishment of the Theosophical Society and the inauguration of an official Inner Group of the Esoteric Section, Blavatsky's Oriental enculturation may have provided a fitting idiom in which to express the pre-Biblical prisca theologia, but it did not fundamentally alter her profound engagement with the esoteric complex of the West. The Inner Group members were encouraged to identify themselves, psychically and physically, with the Master, and by engaging their creative imagination with the secret correspondences vouchsafed by him through their prime chela, Blavatsky, ascend through the spheres, garnering treasured gnosis along the way:
For the Inner Group the effort would be to bring all things down to states of consciousness. Buddhi is one and indivisible really; it is a feeling within, absolutely inexpressible in words. All cataloging is useless to explain it.38)
Such gnosis, if recalled in memory and impressed within the body, could penetrate through the intervening strata to the mundane tier and be brought to bear upon the Theosophist's personal quest for conscious evolution and ultimate reintegration.
At the interstice between gnostic heavenly ascent (to be practised during singular earthly lives) and the karmically-reticulated macrocyclicist progressivism of the multiply-incarnating human Monad, stands the figure of the Master. He is tangible proof of the evolutionary gains to be made in both singular and multiple lifetimes. Having undergone the ordeals of adeptship, he signifies the value of the gnosis achieved through ascensus; having incarnated in successively more "spiritualised" forms, he indicates the veracity of a cosmological optimistic progressivism. In such ways he is the exemplar of Blavatsky's individual and cosmic evolutionary programmes.
It should not be forgotten that the source of the Masters' Theosophy is ultimately angelic. The Dhyanis - at the upper reaches of the hierarchy of Spirit, and proximate to the Absolute - who incarnated into some of humanity's distant Lemurian ancestors, furnished the protean human with a spark of divinity sufficient to quicken the evolutionary impulse:
What is human mind in its higher aspect, whence comes it, if it is not a portion of the essence - and, in some rare cases of incarnation, the very essence - of a higher being: one from a higher and divine plane? Can man - a god in the animal form - be the product of Material nature by evolution alone[?]39)
The Dhyanis-Masters of the Third Root Race, the result of a hypostatic union of the Dhyanis and the most advanced human Monads of the Lemurian era, became the first Masters in this Round and the ultimate progenitors of the Ancient Wisdom. Since their time, the elite band of Masters has subtly directed the evolutionary progression of humanity, occasionally selecting a chela to whom to entrust a portion of their sacred theosophy. In 1875 the Brotherhood sponsored the establishment of the Theosophical Society, agreeing to oversee its development and vouchsafe to it the undying wisdom. The Masters' teaching was to be the spiritual antidote to the materialist and naturalist poisons of an era dominated by talk of a Creator-less creation. The Masters reassured Theosophists that such ruptures in the epistemological fabric of Western civilisation and self-reflection as posed by Darwinian natural evolution and Comtist Positivism did not require a capitulation of scientific rationalism (and a likely clamouring to get inside the "ark" of Biblical certainties), but its reconfiguration as a tool of the Spirit.
enterprise was an attempt to gainsay the ascendancy of a monolithic materialism
by employing its own Enlightenment vocabulary of reason. Notions of evolution
and progression were reconstrued as cosmic imperatives, so too the traditional
metaphorical discourse of Western esotericism was made popularly acceptable by
being represented as a reasonable spiritual alternative. That Blavatsky
"press-ganged" reason into service against itself is no more, and
probably no more less, quixotic than equally poignant attempts by such other
children of the Aufklaerung as Karl Marx
(1818-1883), Sigmund Freud (1818-1883) and, ironically, Darwin himself. These
men presented humanity as being in thrall either to an economics-driven metahistory, an ultimately irrational psychopathology or
the dictates of an unforgiving, unpredictable, and unconscious nature. Such
paradigms, though presented in the vesture of reason, ultimately reflect a
world in which reason cannot penetrate to the core of universal processes - and
in which those who rely upon it are as ill-fated as anybody else. Blavatsky's
"rationalising of the non-rational" in
order to combat dreaded materialism - a quest personified by the figure of the spiritualised Master - may not have been so immediately
influential as the formulations of Marx, Freud, and Darwin, but in all
seriousness it may simply be too early to tell.
The Passing of Blavatsky
During the early months of 1891, Blavatsky's health deteriorated considerably. She maintained her writing and teaching schedule as well as she could, completing much of her The Theosophical Glossary, conducting weekly meetings of the Inner Group and attending such other gatherings as she was able.40) By May she was mostly confined to bed, having suffered from bronchial congestion in the wake of a bout of influenza. On the morning of Friday, 8 May, she was barely able to move and died quietly at noon, encircled by three of her most devoted disciples.41) Her body was cremated on Sunday, 10 May, in Woking, England, and the ashes separated into three parts: for the Societies in Adyar, New York, and London.
There is a final
irony in the parting of Blavatsky. For at least ten years prior to her death
she had claimed to have been encountering people who suspected that she was an
impostor who had stolen the papers of the real Mme.42) Blavatsky. In support of their accusation, a number
of such people had alleged that they had seen her tombstone in Aden. In a
jocular letter to Prince Dondoukoff-Korsakoff,
Blavatsky explained the confusion: for some time she had included among her
baggage a gravestone bearing the engraving, "Helena P. Blavatsky
died...", to be used for identification purposes should anything dire
befall her during her more exotic adventures. At a stop in Aden, in 1871, her
beloved "Abyssinian monkey", Koko, died. Blavatsky, tiring of the
burden of the stone, used it as a marker for her pet, painting an epitaph to
Koko over the engraviture: "The favourite monkey of H. P. Blavatsky died in 1871,
etc." Over time, "what was added in paint was effaced by the
rains, while my engraved name remained". That she should bury a monkey,
the prime icon of Darwinism, under her own marker and yet live on herself, is
itself a fitting epitaph for Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.43)
1) Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., vi-viii. Lucifer began publication 15 September, 1888 and was edited by Blavatsky until her death in 1891 (Mabel Collins Cook and Annie Besant variously co-edited).
2) Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., vii. By this is meant that while members of the ES would also be members of the Theosophical Society, Blavatsky would maintain complete sole authority in the former. In common Freemasonic parlance, Blavatsky was deemed the "Outer Head" of the ES; the requisite Master would be the "Inner Head".
6) Another inner circle deserves mention. In 1884, T. Subba Row convened a Committee to establish a teaching regimen for Sinnett's "Inner Group" in London (which had been in operation since 1883). Ransom notes that the Committee comprised "Col. H. S. Olcott, Madame H. P. Blavatsky, T. Subba Row, BA BL, Damodar K. Mavalankar, A. J. Cooper-Oakley, Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, S. Ramaswami Iyer": Ransom, A Short History, 206. Sinnett's "Inner Group - the Adytum of the London Lodge" petitioned the Masters to form a group with its own bye-laws and council. Sinnett's Inner Group promised "implicit confidence in the Mahatmas and their teachings and unswerving obedience to their wishes in all matters concerned with spiritual progress". The Group included Francesca Arundale, Mary Anne Arundale, A. J. Cooper-Oakley, Isabel Cooper-Oakley, Archibald Keightley, Bertram Keightley, Isabel de Steiger, John Varley, Hermann Schmiechen, Mabel Collins Cook, A. P. Sinnett, Annie Besant, and Patience Sinnett, inter alia: C. Jinarajadasa, trans. & comp., Letters From The Masters Of The Wisdom, 1870-1900: First Series, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1973, 21-22. Sinnett's Inner Group was short-lived: see Brendan French & Gregory Tillett, "The Esoteric Within the Exoteric: Secret Societies in the Theosophical Society", forthcoming; cf. also A. P. Sinnett, Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett, ed. Leslie Price, Theosophical History Centre, London, 1986, 44. For another inner group, the Theosophical Lodge of the Blue Star, involving the novelist Gustav Meyrink (1868-1935) and meeting in Prague, see Webb, The Occult Establishment, 36ff.
7) The term "practical occultism" was employed by William Quan Judge for the Inner Group. Judge was appointed Blavatsky's representative of the ES for America in December, 1888: see Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., viii-xi.
8) The workings of Blavatsky's Inner Group have occasioned extraordinary myth-making in Theosophical Circles. There is a marked tendency in self-designated occult (and particularly occult initiatic) orders to suspect the "Great Secret" to be vouchsafed to a tiny coterie, directly from the mouth of the magus, seer or master. Aside from this particular psychopathology (which is not restricted to esoteric groups), the Inner Group has become famous for the Occult Room. Purpose built, it was attached to Blavatsky's room - she was supposed to have had a windoww built between the two in order to oversee "the student in Yoga" - and was either heptagonal or octagonal, and covered in various metals: the only significant description is by C. Jinarajadasa, who attempted to recall the interior well over 30 years after he had visited the room (reprinted in Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 215). Van Egmond unwisely states in the body of his article that there were seven walls, but notes in a footnote that "the room may have been eight-sided": Dani‘l van Egmond, "Western Esoteric Schools in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries" in van den Broek & Hanegraaff, eds., Gnosis and Hermeticism, 320, 342n16. Admittedly, in all likelihood van Egmond is right. It is a shame that, although he notes that "the 'inner Order' of the Golden Dawn made also [sic] use of such a heptagonal room!", he does not mention the legendary Rosicrucian vault from which both, certainly, drew direct inspiration: see Arthur Edward Waite, The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross: Being Records Of The House Of The Holy Spirit in Its Inward And Outward History, University Books, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1973, 132. The entire house in which the Occult Room was situated, was later destroyed.
9) There are minutes of 22 meetings ranging from 20 August, 1890, to 15 April, 1891. Spierenburg has reproduced the "Minutes" from a typewritten version of Alice Leighton Cleather's handwritten duplicate of W. Q. Judge's copy of the official "Minutes" (as authorised by Blavatsky). Even accounting for the irregular transmission, there seems to be no reason to question Spierenburg's text.
11) Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., xiv. Westcott has been an under-examined link between the Theosophical Society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Freemasonic Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia: see R. A. Gilbert, Magical Mason: Forgotten Hermetic Writings of William Wynn Westcott, Physician and Magus, Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1983. Westcott, who published widely upon Kabbalism, numerology, and Hermeticism, was forced to quieten his occult activities in 1897; as Coroner for North East London, his superiors felt such activities were not appropriate to his position. Aleister Crowley noted that "he was paid to sit on corpses, not to raise them; and that he must choose between his Coronership and his Adeptship": see id., The Golden Dawn Scrapbook: The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order, Samuel Weiser, Yorke Beach, Maine, 1997, 48-49, 79.
12) The first five "Instructions" were published in Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. XII, 513-538, 542-570, 599-641, 654-673, 689-712 (inc. colour plates I, II, and III, opposite p.580). Most of the "Minutes" were included in a melange of materials which were published posthumously in 1897 as the third volume of The Secret Doctrine: H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, vol. III, Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1910; cf. supra ch. 12. For a publishing history of the ES documents see Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., xxi-xxv. Spierenburg's book has superseded all other versions, and includes one further set of "Instructions" (no. VI). Note that "Instruction" I, II and III were written by Blavatsky, that no. IV was approved by her, and that nos. V and VI were issued subsequent to her death but are considered genuine records of Blavatsky's oral ES teachings (as comparisons with the "Minutes" have indicated).
13) Heavenly ascent has received tremendous scholarly attention, though is less well delineated for esotericisms other than Kabbalah. Among the literature see Martha Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, Oxford University Press, New York, 1993 (esp. 69ff on angelologies); Nathaniel Deutsch, The Gnostic Imagination: Gnosticism, Mandaeism and Merkabah Mysticism, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1995, 25-28, 68-79; Guy G. Stroumsa, Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1996, 169-183 (for descents); Moshe Idel, "Universalization and Integration: Two Conceptions of Mystical Union in Jewish Mysticism" in Moshe Idel & Bernard McGinn, eds., Mystical Union in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: An Ecumenical Dialogue, Continuum, New York, 1996, 27-57; Idel;, Kabbalah, 88-96 et passim; cf. also esp. Dan Merkur, Gnosis: An Esoteric Tradition of Mystical Visions and Unions, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1993.
Mahat is the manifested, universal Parabrahmic Mind (for one Mahamanvantara) on the third plane. It is the law whereby the Light falls from plane to plane and differentiates. The Manasaputras are its emanations (Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 10).
15) It might be noted that her vertical septenary glyph also included a "triangle with its apex in the Manasic state and its base in the Kama-Manasic state"; the apex is "Manas, the Higher Ego, the Christos" who is "crucified between two thieves": Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 130-132. Not only does this more closely approximate the decad of the Kabbalah, but the apex is situated in a schematically identical location (on the glyph) to the sefirot of Tiferet which, in late modern Christian Kabbalah is similarly associated with Christ. Cf., eg., Dion Fortune [Violet Mary Firth], The Mystical Qabalah, Ernest Benn Ltd., London, 1974, 58, 83; Papus [Gérard Encausse], The Qabalah, The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1983, passim. For early modern variants cf. also Chaim Wirszubski, Pico della Mirandola's Encounter with Jewish Mysticism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1989, 181 etpassim; Henry Cornelius Agrippa (von Nettesheim), Three Books of Occult Philosophy, trans. James Freake, ed. Donald Tyson, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, 1993; Johann Reuchlin, On the Art of the Kabbalah (De Arte Cabalistica), trans. Martin & Sarah Goodman, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1983.
18) The tension between Neoplatonic emanationism and Kabbalah is nowhere more evident that in the question of the relationship of the divine with the sefirot: were they a part of (and thus hypostatisations), or separate from God? Scholem has maintained that the creative tension brought about by the attempted synthesis of these systems ultimately allowed the Kabbalists to avoid both pantheism and dualism by positing a dialectical movement within God himself: a concise overview is to be found in David Biale, Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1979, 134-137.
19) Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 53. The Loka, from the Sanskrit for "locality" or "world", refer to the 21 zones which comprise the Hindu cosmos. The 21 loka are divided into three septenaries, (the "tri-loka"), one each for the celestial (and super-celestial), subterranean and purgatorial/hellish worlds: see Walker, The Hindu World, vol. 1, 253.
The Ego starts with Divine consciousness; no past, no future, no separation. It is long before realizing that it is itself; only after many births does it begin to discern, by this collectivity of experience, that it is individual. At the end of its cycle of incarnations, it is still the same divine consciousness, but it has now become individualized self-consciouness (Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 69).
21) Ibid., 53. It is significant that Blavatsky mentions 14 of the 21 loka in her schemata, thus concentrating on the celestial (and super-celestial) and subterranean spheres, and ignoring purgatorial Naraka, the 7 loka of hellish suffering. The latter have no application in Blavatskian Theosophy. It is no coincidence that Blavatsky has included the celestial and subterranean schemata as parallel conditions. In this she is emulating the so-called "fifth world" of the Kabbalah, the kellipot, comprised of the detritus of creation and occupied (in terms of Kabbalistic angelology) by perverse spirits. Blavatsky's Patala, for example, is a subterranean (one supposes in a figurative sense) loka filled with "elementals of animals, and nature spirits" (Ibid., 49), rather than with the more normative Nagas, or serpent-demons of Hinduism. Demons have no ontic necessity in Blavatsky's evolutionist cosmology and, anyway, the serpent is always a cipher for wisdom. For the kellipot see Scholem, Kabbalah, 138-139 et passim. A cogent summary of the Theosophical position on the 14 loka is offered in Judith M. Tyberg, Sanskrit Keys to the Wisdom Religion: An Exposition of the Philosophical and Religious Teachings Imbodied [sic] in the Sanskrit Terms used in Theosophical and Occult Literature, Point Loma Publications, San Diego, 1976, 85-95; cf. also Elsie Benjamin, comp., Search and Find: Theosophical Reference Index (Following the Blavatsky Tradition), Point Loma Publications, [San Diego], 1978, 79.
22) Spierenburg, The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 53. For Kabbalistic angelology see Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1988, passim; Scholem, Kabbalah, passim.
Koot Hoomi (from an
unpublished Mahatma letter to A. O. Hume, 1882?) in Spierenburg,
The Inner Group Teachings, "Instruction No. V", 2nd ed., 173,
xxiii. There seems to be no reason to suspect the Master's letter should not
belong to the canon of Mahatma letters. Even though the quotation is taken from
an "Instruction" issued after Blavatsky's death, portions of the
letter had been published in her lifetime with no adverse comment from her.
The concept of "internalising" the Master is not dissimilar in some respects to certain Kabbalistic theurgical practices which emphasise the identification of the Kabbalist with Adam, and with such mesocosmic entities as Enoch-Metatron: see Idel, Kabbalah, 33, 60, 66, 67, et passim; Hanratty, Studies in Gnosticism, 67. For Blavatsky's own interest in Enoch-Metatron see infra ch. 28.
38) Spierenburg,The Inner Group Teachings, 2nd ed., 49. "Buddhi", in the Theosophical sense, is defined as follows: "Buddhic, the sense of being one with the Universe; the impossibility of imagining itself apart from it": ibid., 49. Buddhi can be interpreted as the human faculty which permits the reception of gnosis; it can also be the gnostic experience of numinosity (as here): see Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, 228n, 453, 572; vol. 2, 81.
39) Ibid., vol. 2, 81. This "portion of the essence" is reminiscent of a cardinal concept of antique Gnosticism, the "seed of light", "parcel of gold" or "precious pearl" which is the fragment of divine ontology manifest (or, indeed, trapped) in material creation: see Hanratty, Studies in Gnosticism, 28.
40) H. P. Blavatsky, comp., The Theosophical Glossary, The Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1892. The Glossary was published posthumously and was edited by G. R. S. Mead, with substantial contributions from W. W. Westcott. Blavatsky's last book was published in 1889: H. P. Blavatsky, trans., The Voice of the Silence: Being Chosen Fragments from the "Book of the Golden Precepts", The Theosophical Publishing Company, London, 1889. The Voice of the Silence is a small grouping of maxims which Blavatsky claimed to have translated from an unknown Tibetan text, The Book of the Golden Precepts. Several attempts to trace the mysterious prototype have been published: cf., eg., Reigle & Reigle, Blavatsky's Secret Books, 138-153. The Voice of the Silence has proved, predictably, the most accessible (and least challenging) of the Blavatskian corpus. (It might be noted that Elvis Presley sometimes read from the book on stage, and named his gospel group, "Voice", in appreciation: Albert Goldman, Elvis, Penguin, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1982, 446).