Secret Religion

April D. DeConick Religion: Secret Religion Macmillan Reference USA, 2016

Religion: Secret Religion is part of the Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks series dedicated to the study of religion. Composed of twenty-four thematic chapters, this volume looks at the margins of religion or religious texts and traditions that are not considered authoritative by orthodox communities. The volume is broken down into three sections that correspond with different classifications of religion in the margins: gnosticism, with its focuses on knowledge of a transcendent God who is the source of life and the human spirit; esotericism, with its focus on private religion kept from the public and critical of orthodoxy; and mysticism, with its focus on immediate contact with the ultimate reality. Each classification will be explored historically and comparatively to give the reader a more rounded understanding. The volume also includes bibliographies, filmographies, images, a glossary, and a comprehensive index, all of which aid the reader in exploring this rich, rewarding, and relevant field.

Secret religion cover


Introduction: Religion in the Margins.
1. Gnosticism Emergent: The Beginning of the Study of Gnosticism in the Academy.
2. Gnosticism Theorized: Major Trends and Approaches to the Study of Gnosticism.
3. Gnosticism Disputed: Major Debates in the Field.
4. Gnosticism Historicized: Historical Figures and Movements.
5. Gnosticism Socialized: Gnostic Communities.
6. Gnosticism Recorded: Text, Scripture, and Parascripture.
7. Gnosticism Imagined: Major Ideas and Perspectives of Gnostics.
8. Gnosticism Practiced: Ritual and Performance.
9. Esotericism Emergent: The Beginning of the Study of Esotericism in the Academy.
10. Esotericism Theorized: Major Trends and Approaches to the Study of Esotericism.
11. Esotericism Disputed: Major Debates in the Field.
12. Esotericism Historicized: Historical Figures and Movements.
13. Esotericism Socialized: Esoteric Communities.
14. Esotericism Recorded: Text, Scripture, and Parascripture.
15. Esotericism Imagined: Major Ideas and Perspectives of Esotericists.
16. Esotericism Practiced: Ritual and Performance.
17. Mysticism Emergent: The Beginning of the Study of Mysticism in the Academy.
18. Mysticism Theorized: Major Trends and Approaches to the Study of Mysticism.
19. Mysticism Disputed: Major Debates in the Field.
20. Mysticism Historicized: Historical Figures and Movements.
21. Mysticism Socialized: Mystic Communities.
22. Mysticism Recorded: Text, Scripture, and Parascripture.
23. Mysticism Imagined: Major Ideas and Perspectives of Mystics.
24. Mysticism Practiced: Ritual and Performance.

April D. DeConick is Chair, and Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Department of Religion Rice University. Her most recent books include The Gnostic New Age: How a Countercultural Spirituality Revolutionized Religion from Antiquity to Today (2016); Holy Misogyny: Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter (2011); and The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says (2007, 2009).

James Ingall Wedgwood: Writings

Although not as prolific an author as Leadbeater, Wedgwood wrote a substantial number of works, some of them valuable sources of historical information. Unlike Leadbeater’s works, Wedgwood’s works have generally long been out of print, and some of the most interesting – mainly small pamphlets on controversial subjects – have long been all but unobtainable.


His major works were:

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1913 Meditation for Beginners Theosophical Publishing House, London [CW] – text available on-line at: 20 editions were published between 1913 and 2011 in 3 languages.

1914 Varieties of Psychism Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar – digital version available on-line at:

1926 The Distinctive Contribution of Theosophy to Christian Thought, The Blavatsky Lecture 1926, Theosophical Publishing House, London  [CW] Adyar – digital version available on-line at:

1927 The Place of Ceremonies in the Spiritual Life St Alban Press, London [CW]

1928 The Presence of Christ in the Holy Communion Theosophical Publishing House, London [CW]

1929 The Larger Meaning of Religion Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1929 [CW]

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There have been some published collections of his works.

1976 New Insights Into Christian Worship, Selected Works of J.I. Wedgwood, Vol. I St Alban Press, London

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1984 The Presence of Christ in the Holy Communion and Other Writings St Alban Press, Sydney

JIW collected works

2004 The Collected Works of James I. Wedgwood, D.Sc., St Alban Press, San Diego, 2004; 2nd edition, 2007 This includes:



Chapter I. Introductory

Chapter II. What Is Man?

Chapter III. Man and His Pilgrimage

Chapter IV. What Is Religion?

Chapter V. The Scope and Aim of Religion

Chapter VI. An Explanation of Church Worship

Chapter VII. An Explanation of Church Worship

Chapter X. The Holy Eucharist: An Interpretation


Part I. The Place of Ceremonies In the Spiritual Life

Part II. A New Idea of Worship

Part III. Congregational Worship

Part IV. Church Music

Part V. The Longer and the Shorter Form

Part VI. The Blessed Sacrament

Part VII. Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament

Part VIII. The Service of Healing

Part XIX. The Ordination Services

Part XX. Various Services

Part XXI. The Symbolism of the Altar

Part XXII. Work with the Dead


Part I. The Presence of Christ in the Holy Communion

Part II. The Distinctive Contribution of Theosophy to Christian

Part III. The Sacraments and the Theory of ‘Economy’

Part IV. Various Subjects


Part I. Introduction

Part II. What Meditation Is

Part III. First Steps

Part IV. Concentration

Part V. Meditation

Part VI. Contemplation

Part VII. The Search for the Master

Part VIII. Physical Aids to Meditation



Part I. The Sources of the Attacks

Part II. The Consecration of Bishop Mathew at Utrecht in April, 1908

Part III. Our Breach with Archbishop Mathew

Part IV. Bishop Willoughby and the Succession

Part V. A Letter from Bishop Willoughby

Part VI. The Unworthiness of the Minister

Part VII. The Validity of Bishop Willoughby’s Consecration

Part VIII. Conclusion


Part I. Some Details of History

Part II. The Question of Validity

Part III. The Verdict of the Old Catholic Church

Part IV. The Credentials of the Liberal Catholic Church

Part V. Conclusion

Roman Catholic Opinion


Part I. Beginnings of the L.C.C.

Part II. The Old Catholic Church

Part III. Our Breach with Abp. Mathew

Part IV. The Reorganization of the Church

A detailed table of contents for the 2nd edition can be found at:

Works listed above and below and marked [CW] are found in the 2nd edition of The Collected Works of James I. Wedgwood, D.Sc.

The lesser known, but more important, works on aspects of the history of the Theosophical Society and, particularly, the Liberal Catholic Church, include:

nd The Facts Regarding the Episcopal Succession in the Liberal Catholic Church author, np [CW]

nd Spiritualism and the Great War Theosophical Publishing House, London

nd Universal Co-Masonry. What Is It? Supreme Council of Universal Co-Masonry for Great Britain, (London), nd

1914 “The Modern Ceremonial Revival”, in The Herald of the Star, March, 1914

1918 “Some Reminiscences of Mr Leadbeater”, in Union Lodge Lectures, (Union Lodge, TS), (London), 1918

1918 “The Old Catholic Church”, in Union Lodge Lectures, (Union Lodge TS), (London), 1918

1918 “The Old Catholic Church”, in Occult Review, June 6, 1918

1918 A Statement Concerning the Order of Corporate Reunion, author, London, 1918

1919 The Liberal Catholic Church and the Theosophical Society. Where They, Agree and Where They Differ St Alban Press, Sydney

1919 Reply to Mr Martyn author, Sydney

1920 The Lambeth Conference and the Validity of Archbishop Mathew’s Orders. An Open Letter to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury author, Sydney [CW]

1926 St Michael’s Centre, Huizen author, Huizen, 1926

1926 “The Liberal Catholic Church, Its Doctrinal Position”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1926

1926 The Distinctive Contribution of Theosophy to Christian Thought, The Blavatsky Lecture 1926, Theosophical Publishing House, London

1928 A Tract for the Times. An Open Letter Addressed to the Clergy of the Liberal Catholic Church on the Continent of Europe author, Huizen

1929 The Theosophical Society and Kindred Organizations. An Open Letter to the General Council of the Theosophical Society in Reply to a Letter of Mrs Jinarajadasa author, Huizen

1930 “Gaining of Spiritual Experience” in Theosophy, Past and Future: being the four convention lectures delivered in Adyar at the fifty-fourth anniversary of the Theosophical Society, December, 1929 Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1930

1938 “The History of the Liberal Catholic Church, 1. Beginnings”, in The Liberal Catholic, January and February, 1938

1950 “The Old Catholic Church”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1950

1951 “The Policy of the Liberal Catholic Church”, in The Liberal Catholic, July, 1951

1966 The Beginnings of the Liberal Catholic Church St Alban Press, Ojai [CW]

Additionally, Wedgwood wrote a number of works on the organ:

1904 Tonal Design in Modern Organ Building Embodying a reply to Mr. R. Mayrick-Roberts … Reprinted from the London “Musical Opinion.” In answer to R. Meyrick-Roberts’ articles “On Modern Tendencies in Organ-Building” published in the same journal London: Houghton & Co., 1904; London: Winthrop Rogers, 1905

[1905] A Comprehensive Dictionary of Organ Stops: English and Foreign, Ancient and Modern, Practical, Theoretical, Historical, Aesthetic, Etymological, Phonetic London: Vincent Music Co., [1905] published as Number 38 in the Schirmer’s “Red Series of Music Text Books”; 2nd edition 1907; 3rd edition 1909; 4th edition [1910]; 5th edition [1911]; 6th edition 1920; 7th edition 1920; 8th edition [1930]. There is some confusion in the numbering of editions because of publication in London and New York: Vincent Music Co, Winthrop Reeves and Winthrop Rogers in London; Boosey and Hawkes, and G. Schirmer in New York; and Boston Music, Boston. Digital version of the 3rd edition available on-line at: 37 editions were published between 1900 and 2015 in English.

1910 Some Continental Organs (Ancient and Modern) and Their Makers With specifications of many of the fine examples in Germany and Switzerland. London, W. Reeves, 1910, describing the technical specifications of organs in European cities from Haarlem and Aix-la-Chapelle, to Cologne, Stuttgart, Lucerne and Strasburg.

His thesis for the degree of DSc at the Sorbonne was Sur la production du son par les tuyaux a bouche de l’orgue Paris, Editions Rhea, 1921.

For Wedgwood, see also:

For Wedgwood and Leadbeater, see:


Leadbeater and Wedgwood

The influence of James Ingall Wedgwood on Leadbeater led to a major change in Leadbeater’s occult interests, and the emergence of what can best be described as an obsession with ritual magic. Leadbeater had previously, as he had written, had no interest in Christian or Masonic ritual, but, having been introduced to both by Wedgwood, became preoccupied with them.


Just when Leadbeater and Wedgwood first met in this life is not certain, although Wedgwood recalled it as having been in 1906 in the home of a leading English Theosophist, Alfred Hodgson Smith, at Harrogate. See J.I. Wedgwood “Some Reminiscences of Mr Leadbeater” in Union Lodge Lectures (Union Lodge, TS), (London), 1918.

Wedgwood and Leadbeater talked for some time about Gregorian plainchant, and Wedgwood was impressed by demonstrations of Leadbeater’s psychic powers. Leadbeater “looked up” Frederick George Lee (1832-1902), the prime mover in the Order of Corporate Reunion, in the “Heaven World” while preparing for lunch. Wedgwood had some vague associations with supposed continuations of the Order of Corporate Reunion during his early Anglican years.

As Wedgwood commented that “The interesting thing was that C.W.L. could do a piece of work like that while washing his hands.”

Wedgwood and Leadbeater subsequently stayed together in Weiner Hirsch (with Mrs Marie Russak and Mrs Van Hook), at Colmar in Alsace-Lorraine (with Johann van Manen) and in Genoa (with Mr and Mrs Kirby). However, according to Leadbeater’s accounts of past lives, he and Wedgwood had lived and worked in many worlds before this. Wedgwood was known by the “Star Name” of “Lomia” in Man, Whence, How and Whither (1913) when his lives in India, 12,800 B.C. and Peru, 12,000 B.C. were described, and in The Lives of Alcyone (1924) where he featured amongst the leading figures.

The relationship between Leadbeater and Wedgwood, however it was later portrayed by writers from within the movements with which they were involved, was complex and not entirely happy. Wedgwood, who had formal education in theology, liturgy and Church music, regarded Leadbeater’s theological, liturgical and musical knowledge and abilities as somewhat primitive. He was especially critical of Leadbeater’s occult revision of the Eucharistic liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church which sought to make the rite more explicitly occult, and of Leadbeater’s introduction of explicitly Theosophical material (for example, “The First Ray Benediction”) into the liturgy. Wedgwood found Leadbeater’s contribution to the music of the Liberal Catholic liturgy amateurish.

The two men also held significantly different view about the supposed “Coming” of the Lord Maitreya through the person of Krishnamurti.

For, Wedgwood, see:


Leland on Leadbeater

Leslie [Price]: C.W. Leadbeater remains a controversial figure in the TS. As one of the few persons to produce a scholarly edition of one of his books (the best-selling The Chakras), can you see how we can come to a balanced appreciation of his contribution?

Kurt [Leland] : I’ve come to see Leadbeater neither as a saint (an often encountered assessment in certain TS circles) nor as a “monster of depravity” (to use his own words to sum up reactions in some sections of the TS and beyond), but as a flawed human being trying to master socially and spiritually pernicious motivations—allegedly including pedophilic tendencies—and not always succeeding. Let me be clear that it is the pedophilia and not necessarily the homosexuality that I consider pernicious, and that I use the word pernicious only with regard to behaviors that were damaging to himself, others, and the Theosophical movement. The various exposures and scandals helped to keep him in check and could be seen as karmic interventions, perhaps even motivated by the Masters, to make sure that a valuable worker did not wander too far astray and to remind him that too much was at stake to be sacrificed for mere personal pleasure, especially when the psychological and spiritual well-being of his young male charges and the reputation of the TS were at stake.

CWL Leland

As a society, we have learned since his time that it is always wise to make sure that there is more than one adult about whenever adults are supervising children. And with regard to persons of spiritual authority, we have also learned the detrimental effects of creating an air of superior knowledge and a charisma that bewitches people’s common sense and allows them to be manipulated or abused. Certainly unmerited claims of social or intellectual status or of wonderful if not miraculous physical or spiritual adventures—for example, the many untruths Leadbeater told to enhance his position in the eyes of others—have accompanied the establishment of spiritual movements preceding, contemporaneous with, and following Leadbeater’s involvement with the TS. Such things are important considerations for understanding the development of spiritual and religious movements within academia.

When we have set aside these personal and historical elements, what we have left is the value of Leadbeater’s teachings. I believe we are unwise if we accept them without acknowledging the personality flaws, but equally unwise if we reject them wholesale because of these flaws. Through studying various other movements, I’ve come to the conclusion that the clearer the information that is available to a teacher, the more likely it is that that teacher will fall as a result of personality flaws. They fall so that their followers are forced to take back the spiritual authority they gave up by joining such movements. This is a natural evolutionary process, and Leadbeater simply represents an expression of it within the TS. The larger teaching is that it isn’t safe or helpful for us to accept what any spiritual teacher says without examining its validity and usefulness for ourselves. We must develop discernment as well as reliance on our own internal spiritual authority.

Much of what Leadbeater taught has passed into New Age lore without question or challenge—though the people who pass it on are often unaware of its origins and may have developed or improved upon it. I think current scholarship should make those origins clear. Much of what has not been perceived as useful in Leadbeater’s teachings—for example, the voluminous information on the past lives of various TS members—has been forgotten, and probably rightly so. In general, I think the principles he taught are often valid and useful, but the details used to illustrate them may be subject to personal and cultural limitations. They can’t be taken literally, but they shouldn’t be entirely dismissed. Thus rehabilitation of Leadbeater would require extracting the principles from the historical and personal context in which they’re embedded. I’ve sometimes thought that a reader’s guide to Leadbeater’s writings might demonstrate how that sorting could be done, not only as a lesson in the development of discernment, but also as a means of assessing his legacy and influence on later developments in spiritualist, Theosophical, and New Age thought.

From: Leslie Price “Facing the Third Object: An Interview with Kurt Leland” Quest Spring 2018 106:2, 17-19. Full text available on-line at:

Kurt Leland photo

For Kurt Leland, see:

Kurt Leland chakras 2    Kurt Leland chakras

Hands Full of Life

Norna Kollerstrom Morton “Hands Full of Life”


The most significant group Leadbeater’s career in Sydney in the early years of the Liberal Catholic Church was the Kollerstrom family. It was in the home, “Crendon” – see  – of Gustav Kollerstrom that Leadbeater was ordained a bishop by James Wedgwood – see – and where the Liberal Catholic liturgy was developed and “tested”.


As Oscar Kollerstrom, Gustav’s son and a devoted pupil of both Leadbeater and Wedgwood, recalled of that time:

“I sat in the same room in which, day after tremendous day, those two men worked out and planned The Liberal Catholic Liturgy – planned, for the first time in two millennia, a Christian and sacramental worship that opened wide the way to communion with all other faiths, indeed with all individual interpretations. The bond with God incarnated in freedom, there before my amazed eyes. Our oak sideboard became the first altar of the new faith, and after the services were over, the dining room furniture would be reassembled for a great meal. My mother would sometimes leave the service immediately after communion to see about the cooking, for in those days there was always at least a dozen to feed. It was all so intimate, personal, and natural, and there was such tumultuous rush of doings – my mother making vestments, Pellegrini, of the Catholic shop, being charmingly voluble, the preparation of the hymn book, endless typing, and the running of errands, buying a church, and – vivid in memory – the great day when I took my first minor orders. What with the candles, and the incense, and the singing, I was intoxicated anew each day.”

Norna Kollerstrom Morton’s memoirs, Hands Full of Life, provide a fascinating and intimate, if all too brief, account of that period.

 Norna Kollerstrom photo

Edythe and Norna Kollerstrom (centre) with Leadbeater and a group at The Manor, Sydney, 1925

Norna Hill Kollerstrom (1905-1998) was the daughter of the eminent Sydney Theosophist, Gustaf Wilhelm (1864-1927), and his wife, Mary Gertrude Kollerstrom (1869-1950) (nee Hill) – see: – and the sister of Oscar Gustav Kollerstrom (1903-1977), a leading boy pupil of both Leadbeater and Wedgwood – see – and Edythe Kollerstrom (1906-1976). In 1928 she married Harold Morton (1904-1988), another of Leadbeater’s leading pupils, and later a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church and General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Australia – see: .

In 1928 Norna Kollerstrom gave a lecture in defence of Leadbeater in which she presented an account of his life (presumably received from Leadbeater) – see It is probably unnecessary to note that the descent from Charlemagne and the “noble lineage”; the walk “across South America” at the age of thirteen; the excitement of the “rising among the Indians in South America”; the murder of the (non-existent) brother; the short time at Oxford; the loss of the family fortune in the bank “smash”; the time at St. Ethelberga’s and St. Alban’s, Holborn; and the travels “over the whole of Europe”, let alone the visit “to Transylvania to encounter vampires and werewolves”, were all elements of fiction fabricated by Leadbeater and, naively, repeated by Mrs Kollerstrom Morton. The original account was published in The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Queensland) 14 August 1928.

Norna Kollerstrom Morton Hands Full of Life: Reflections and Anecdotes Springwood, N.S.W.: Butterfly Books, 1993


A Visionary Space

Jenny McFarlane A Visionary Space. Theosophy and an Alternative Modernism in Australia 1890-1934 A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the Australian National University 2006

The thesis is available on-line in digital form at:…/McFarlane%20J%20Thesis%202006.pdf

CWL Sydney

“CW Leadbeater, the influential proponent of radical visuality, was resident in Sydney from 1914 to 1929 and retained a significant presence there until his death in 1934. He is popularly remembered in Sydney for the sex scandals. No one to date has however examined the effect this charismatic and complex man had on the artists of the city he came to call home, although Roe’s work points to the many significant individuals who came into his orbit.

Leadbeater’s time in Sydney was a unique period of collaboration with local artists.

In particular his collaborations with Judith Fletcher, Alfred Edward Warner and Gustaf Kollerstrom (photographer, printmaker and jeweller respectively) emerge as aberrant and extravagant moments within the oeuvre of each artist, what Deleuze and Guattari might describe as ‘slippages’ or ‘misfires.’ Yet these very misfires are productive. Leadbeater’s intense relationship with these artists had in each case surprising ramifications. These artists have been previously figured as conservative and parochial exponents in their chosen fields. Yet in collaboration with Lead beater their work blossoms into expressions of radical modernism in ways which offer unique insights into broader contemporary practice. These three artists shared a conviction that the visible and invisible worlds were interlinked, that the transcendental was immanent and active in the visible world. In their work the separation of the disciplines of science, religion and art promoted by the Enlightenment was explicitly and programmatically ignored.

Much of the unusual in these artist’s productions can be understood as the result of their intimate relationship with Lead beater. All were bound to him by an utter conviction of his superior psychic vision and by close physical proximity. Only in Sydney was Leadbeater’s theory backed by the full weight of his dominant personality and experienced relatively unmediated by others in the Theosophical leadership. At close quarters Leadbeater’s impact was mesmeric. While artists at a distance were able to explore the implications of his ideas with greater licence (and I will explore this in the next chapter) those close to him were tied to his expectations by their very acknowledgment of his superior visual authority. The artists most closely associated with Lead beater felt highly privileged to be permitted to document this supreme artist’s visions. The compromise they made with their personal style was part of their general subsumption to his goals.

In Sydney Lead beater embarked on the major project which was to occupy the second part of his life – the formation of the Liberal Catholic Church. This church was shaped within a Theosophical environment, the details of which will be addressed in more detail shortly. In the execution of this project he sought out artists to realise his dream of a theatrical experience, a Wagnerian gesamtkunstwerk, or total artwork encompassing a range of media with many constitutive works of art. Combined, the different media were designed to open the operations of the psychic realm.”

From: Jenny McFarlane A Visionary Space. Theosophy and an Alternative Modernism in Australia 1890-1934 A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the

Australian National University, 2006: 152-153 Footnotes have been omitted.

For the work of Jenny McFarlane, see also:

Jenny MacFarlane “The Agency of the Object: Bishop Leadbeater and the Pectoral Cross” in Carole Cusack and Alex Norman (eds) Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production [Brill, Leiden, 2012] pp. 133-152.

Jenny MacFarlane Concerning the Spiritual: The influence of the Theosophical Society on Australian Artists 1890–1934 Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2012


Irving Steiger Cooper: More biographical information

An earlier post provided some biographical information on Irving Steiger Cooper (1882-1935), an American who served as Leadbeater’s secretary for many years, and was consecrated as a Bishop on July 13, 1919 in Sydney by Bishops Wedgwood, Leadbeater, and Mazel, and appointed Regionary Bishop for the USA – see: and

Cooper 3

Dick Balfour Clarke, Irving Cooper, Fabrizio Ruspoli and Leadbeater (and cat) working on The Lives of Alcyone, Adyar, 1911.

Dr Ian Ellis Jones has now posted a much more detailed account of Cooper and his Theosophical and Liberal Catholic career on-line:

Cooper 1

Cooper’s publications included:

Methods of Psychic Development (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1912 [with foreword by C W Leadbeater]);

Theosophy Simplified (Hollywood CA: Theosophical Book Concern, 1915; Wheaton IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1928);

Reincarnation: The Hope of the World (Chicago: The Theosophical Press, 1920; 2nd edition, 1927; 1st Quest edition, 1979, published under the title of Reincarnation: A Hope of the World);

Ways to Perfect Health (Chicago: The Theosophical Press, 1923);

The Secret of Happiness (Chicago: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925);

Ceremonies of the Liberal Catholic Rite (Los Angeles: St Alban Press, 1934; 2nd edition, London, 1964).

Lawrence Burt: More biographical information

Several earlier posts have previously been published providing biographical information about Lawrence Wilfred Burt (1883-1962), who had been ordained a Priest in the Liberal Catholic Church by Bishop Wedgwood in Sydney on 23 April 1917, and worked closely with Leadbeater in the newly emerging Church in Sydney, and in the Theosophical Society. He was the Vicar of the Cathedral Church of St Alban in Regent Street, Sydney in the 1930s. He also served as President of the Sydney Lodge of the Theosophical Society, and was Chairman of the Council of the Australian Section of the Society, a member of the Esoteric Section and of the Order of the Star in the East, and was active in Co-Masonry. He succeeded David Morton Tweedie (1857-1941) as Regionary Bishop for the Liberal Catholic Church in Australia.

Burt photo

For Burt, see:

For the Burt divorce case, see also:

Dr Ian Ellis Jones has now posted a much more detailed account of Burt’s Theosophical and Liberal Catholic career at:

See also:

Brendan French: “The Theosophical Masters”

The University of Sydney Library has finally made Dr Brendan French’s PhD thesis – The Theosophical Masters: An Investigation into the Conceptual Domains of H.P. Blavatsky and C.W. Leadbeater (2000) 2 v. (xviii, 829 leaves): ill., ports. (some col.) – available on-line in digital format:


“  H. P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) and C. W. Leadbeater (1854-1934) were successive
ideologues for the Theosophical Society. The revelation they articulated was premised on the existence and benevolence of a Brotherhood of Masters with whom they alleged contact. The Masters are presented as perfected men, possessed of supranormal physical and spiritual endowments, whose task it is to guide humanity along an inclined trajectory toward ultimate divinisation.

The objective of the present work is to examine the Masters phenomenologically, and to ascertain their role within Theosophical discourse. No attempt is made to discern the ontic reality of the Masters as such an enquiry lies beyond the scholar’s methodological apparatus. Rather, the Master is examined as a function of Theosophical esotericism, and as a pivotal personification of Theosophy’s occultistic engagement with such prevailing paradigms as progressivism, evolutionism, and perfectibilism.

The work is divided into five parts: the first is concerned with methodologies and heuristic definitions; the second examines the ideational structures of the Blavatskian conceptual domain; the third explores Leadbeater’s redaction of the Blavatskian template; the fourth proposes several typological categories under which the Masters may be viewed (the Mercurian, the Monastic, the PredagogicaI, the Oriental, the Perfected, the Angelic, the Rosicrucian); and the fifth is devoted to appendices (portraits, geographical location, fictional literature, ‘Malign Masters’, and contemporary recensions of the motif).”

KH  Morya CWL

Table of Contents



-Religionism and Reductionism

-The Sociological Method

-An Empirical Approach


-Delimitations with regard to Source Materials

-Delimitations with regard to Time Period

-Delimitations with regard to Geography and Language

-Preliminary observations with regard to Terminology


-Toward a Definition: A selection of materials

-Characteristics and Attributes of the Master

-Functions of the Master

-A Working Heuristic

-Initial Observations



-Childhood and Youth

-The Blavatskian Odyssey

-Fraternities and Friendships


-Ex Oriente Lux?


-Ramsgate, 1851

-Spiritualism and John King

-In Correspondence with the Masters


-William Stainton Moses and Imperator

-Frederick Hockley and the Crowned Angel

-Emma Hardinge Britten and the Chevalier Louis



-The Theosophical Society of the Arya Samiij of India

‘Budhism’, Buddhism, and Chelaship


-Intimations of a Theosophical Universe

-Divinity and Materiality


-The ‘Kiddle Incident’

-The Masters in propriis person is

-Occident or Orient?

-The Coulombs and the ‘Hodgson Report’


-The Book of Dzyan

-Cosmogony and Temporality


-Cosmology, Anthropogeny, and Ethnography

-Evolution and Involution

-Karma and Reincamationism

-The Power behind the Processus


-Developmentalist Historiography and Joachimism

-Jacob Boehme

-Eliphas Livi

-Giordano Bruno

-A Renovated Prisca Theologia

-Blavatskian Gnosis


-The Esoteric Section

-The Inner Group

-Heavenly Ascent

-The Passing of Blavatsky



-Charismatic Authority in Post-Blavatskian Theosophy

-William Quan Judge and the Unfalsifiability of Masters’ Mandates

-A New Mouthpiece for the Masters


-Childhood and Youth

-Introduction to Theosophy and Occult Apprenticeship

-Clairvoyant Investigations

-Occult Chemistry

-Theosophical Homiletics


-Allegations of Misconduct

-The ‘Adyar Manifestations’


-Origins of a Feminine Freemasonry

-Theosophical Freemasonry

-The Seven Rays

-The Emergence of the Sixth Sub-Race

-The Coming of the World-Teacher


-Theosophical Christianity and Christian Theosophy

-Episcopi Vagantes (‘Wandering Bishops’)

-Leadbeaterian Liberal Catholicism

-The (Magic and) Science of the Sacraments


-The Discovery and Training of the Vehicle

-Accelerated Evolution

-The Vehicle Charts a Pathless Land


-The World Mother and the Seven Virgins of Java

-The Egyptian Rite of the Ancient Mysteries

-Leadbeaterian Theosophy and Causative Theurgy

-The Making of a Master

-The Passing of Leadbeater




-Leadbeater and the Animation of Statues


-A Short Theological Excursus









-Theosophical Historiography, Messianism, and Kabbalah


-The Rosicrucian Novel


-A Short Note concerning ‘Jack the Ripper’





-List of figures


-Portraits of the Masters

-Some Stylistic Remarks


-Geography and the Masters


-Europe and the Middle East

-The United States of America

-South America



-Savitri Devi and the Hitlerian Avatar

-The Order of the Nine Angles


1) Theosophical Groups

The Adyar Society

-Geoffrey Hodson

The Point Loma Society

-Katherine Tingley

-Gottfried de Purucker

-Arthur Latham Conger

-James Long

Groups Deriving from the Point Loma Society

-Ernest Hargrove and the Esoteric School

-Word Foundation

-Temple of the People

-The Theosophical Society of New York

-Franz Hartmann and the International Theosophische Verbruderung

-The United Lodge of Theosophists (ULT) and the Dzyan Esoteric School

-The International Group of Theosophists

2) Para-Theosophical Groups

Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical Society

Alice La Trobe Bateman Bailey and the Arcane School

Benjamin Creme

Cyril Meir Scott and The Initiate

3 ) Extra-Theosophical Groups

Golden Dawn Masters: Theosophy and Theurgia

-Robert William Felkin

-Dion Fortune (Violet Mary Firth)

The Rosicrucian Order of the Crotona Fellowship

Baird Thomas Spalding

Manley Palmer Hall and the Philosophical Research Society

Guy Warren Ballard and the ‘I AM’ Movement

The Church Universal and Triumphant

Tuesday Lobsang Rampa and Cyril Henry Hoskin

The Channeled Masters

The Space Masters


The work contains a substantial collection of illustrations of supposed portrayals of the Masters.

Note by the University of Sydney Library: “This copy was made by or on behalf of the University of Sydney. The author retains copyright of this material. This work is protected by Copyright. All rights reserved. Access to this work is provided for the purposes of personal research and study. Except where permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this work must not be copied or communicated to others without the express permission of the copyright owner.”

The previous posting on this blog – – which stated that “This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. It is not available on open access and access is restricted” is now redundant.

Daisy Grove and Esoteric Christianity

Daisy E. Grove A Syllabus for a Ten Week’s Course of Study on Esoteric Christianity, pp. 46. The Theosophical Publishing House, Limited, London, 1927.

“This is a pernicious booklet intended to lead the student, under the guise of presenting the mystical side of Christianity, into the arms of C. W. Leadbeater and the bosom of the Liberal Catholic Church. Mrs. Besant’s “Esoteric Christianity,” which serves as a basis for study, is bad enough, but this goes much further and delves into Leadbeater’s “Science of the Sacraments,” his consecrated grease and other paraphernalia for securing salvation through magical processes and through the agency of a priest. It is entirely possible to study Christian mysticism profitably, and when properly understood it is simply an aspect of Theosophy expressed in different terms. But that is a far different matter from the clairvoyant absurdities of Leadbeater, which conflict not only with the theosophical teachings of the Masters, but with the spirit of the Christ of the New Testament.

As is to be expected, the writer discourages the student from following up the controversial material to be found in “Isis Unveiled” and in “The Secret Doctrine” on the ground that “for the student of today, however, the perusal of these early controversies is no longer profitable, save as witness to the distance already traversed.” What is this distance? It is the distance between H. P. B.’s declaration (“Isis Unveiled,” Vol. II, page 544) that “the apostolic succession is a gross and palpable fraud” and the teaching distinctly laid down by the founders of the Liberal Catholic Church, that any rascal, by virtue of having had a certain hocus pocus pronounced over him in a specified fashion by a bishop dressed up in a specified toggery, possesses the power of calling down the divine blessing on his hearers and of absolving them from their sins, whereas a virtuous and spiritual man who has not gone through this performance does not possess such power; it is the distance from the Christianity of Christ to the worst sort of blasphemy, a blasphemy the more dangerous because it is accompanied by everything calculated to blind the true spiritual perceptions and to produce a species of spiritual intoxication.

The booklet costs but a shilling, but the student will save himself far more than a shilling by not buying it; he will save himself the risk of getting on to the left-hand path of ceremonial magic. Mrs. Grove, of course, is not to be charged with deliberate intention of corrupting her readers, as she has been deluded and misled by the “revered President” to whom she dedicates her syllabus.”

The O. E. Library Critic Vol. XVII, No. 5, December 1927

Daisy Grove (b. 1879) joined the Theosophical Society in 1920, and was involved in the establishment of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Society in England. The Lodge published Transactions of the Christian Mystic Lodge.

Her published works included:

The Mystery Teaching of the Bible (1925)

“This “inner interpretation” of the Christian Bible, first published in 1925, looks at Scripture through a theosophical eye, shifting the mystical meaning of one of the world’s great works of classical literature through the pan-religious philosophy that was immensely popular in the early 20th century. From the occult meaning of numbers, sacred nomenclature, and symbology of women in the Bible to their connection to Hinduism, Buddhism, and the religion of ancient Egyptian, this unusual work of comparative mythology will intrigue those seeking an uncommon spiritual path.”

Mystery teaching

Apocalypse and Initiation (1926)

“The chapters in this book were compiled from notes of a series of lectures delivered to members of the Christian Mystic Lodge. Contents Part I. The Symbolism of the Apocalypse: The Christian Gnosis; The Perfecting of Man; Esoteric Physiology; The Messages to the Churches; Numerical Symbols; Animal Symbols; and The Four Horseman. Contents Part II. The Drama of the Apocalypse: The Way of Initiation; A Vision of Attainment; Opening the Seals; The Sounding of the Trumpets; The War in Heaven; The Harvesting; The Outpoured Vials; The Vision of Babylon; The Last Judgment; and The Marriage.”

The most notable member of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society was “Dion Fortune” [Violet Mary Firth](1890-1946). Fortune had joined the Lodge on the basis, she claimed, of contacts with the Masters, and became its president. She subsequently resigned from the Theosophical Society over the influence of Leadbeater.