Blavatsky and Ritual

Leslie Price has asked me whether I think that Madame Blavatsky would have approved of such rituals as were developed within the (Adyar) Theosophical Society.\

He noted an old paper of Ted Davy, located by Barry Thompson, which was given at the 1998 HPB conference in Edmonton. The volume was called ” The Works and Influence of H.P. Blavatsky, and Davy’s paper was: “A material body which suffocates the soul: H.P. Blavatsky’s attitude to ritual” (p.81-88.)


I am certainly not an authority on Blavatsky, but it seems to me that she did not object to ritual as such – after all, the TS was originally intended to involve rituals – as a form of what might be called “symbolic drama”, but did object to ritual that was claimed to be “magic”.

Carlos Cardoso Aveline has also written on this topic in: “Why Theosophy Excludes The Practice of Ceremonialism” available on-line at:

“In “The Mahatma Letters”, one of the Raja-Yogis of the Himalayas mentions the illusion of “belief in the efficacy of vain rites and ceremonies; in prayers and intercession.”  

While discussing the same paragraph in the book “Early Teachings of the Masters”, C. Jinarajadasa adds this information:

“Of the ten ‘Fetters’ on the Path to liberation, the first three are: 1) Sakkayaditthi, the delusion of self; 2) Vichikicheha, doubt;  3) Silabbataparamasa, belief in the efficacy of rites and ceremonies.”  

In another paragraph of the same letter, the raja-yogi refers to a rite performed by high lamas in Tibet, many decades before the Chinese invasion of the 20th century, and a rite of which he himself, a Mahatma, would be a part. And the Master clarifies that even a ceremony of that level is no better than a meaningless superficiality, whose usefulness is limited to childish and scarcely advanced souls. The Master says:

“In about a week – new religious ceremonies, new glittering bubbles to amuse the babies with, and once more I will be busy night and day, morning, noon, and evening.” 

Esoteric philosophy gives its students tools with which they can liberate themselves from such delusions.

In the famous Letter of 1900, which was addressed to Annie Besant, a Master anticipates and warns against the main mistakes that the Adyar society would make from that moment on.

He clarifies that the modern theosophical movement was meant “to be the corner-stone of the future religions of humanity”. In order to accomplish this object, “those who lead” it, says the Master, “must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thoughts and outward observance”…

…Henry S. Olcott was one of the main founders of the Theosophical Movement in 1875. In his book “Buddhist Catechism” one finds this question:

“What was the Buddha’s estimate of ceremonialism?”

And Olcott answers:

“From the beginning, he condemned the observance of ceremonies and other external practices, which only tend to increase our spiritual blindness and our clinging to mere lifeless forms.”

In one of the Letters from Mahatmas, a Master says it is impossible to perform good ceremonial magic in the West. He narrates the frustrating result of “the last attempt” in that direction, in London around 1860, of which meetings the master took part in “about half a dozen” occasions. The meetings were led by Edward Bulwer-Lytton and included Eliphas Levi, Regazzoni and other occultists.”



Rituals associated with the (Adyar) Theosophical Society – updated 16.06.17

CWL ritual

  1. The original initiation ceremony into the TS and variants of that
  2. Admission into and rituals for meetings of the ES: (i) Blavatsky; (ii) Besant; (iii) Leadbeater; (iv) Jinarajadasa; (v) Sri Ram; (vi) Taimni; (vii) Burnier
  3. Rituals used by Blavatsky in the Inner Group of her ES in London in the “occult room”
  4. The rituals of the Lodge of the Blue Star established in 1891 by Gustav Meyrink (1868-1932) in Prague
  5. The rituals of the Esoteric Rosicrucians of Franz Hartman (1838-1912)
  6. The Lotus Circle (1894)
  7. The Golden Chain (1899)
  8. International Co-Freemasonry (1902) and variations (e.g. as written by Wedgwood and Leadbeater)
  9. The Order of the Round Table (1908)
  10. The Temple of the Rosy Cross (1912)
  11. The Krotona Ritual
  12. Rituals of or associated with the Order of the Star in the East (including The Order of the Rising Sun)
  13. The League of Healers
  14. The Liberal Catholic Church (1916)
  15. The Guild of the Mysteries of God
  16. The Ritual of the Mystic Star (1917)
  17. The World Mother rituals (including that written by Mary Rocke)
  18. The esoteric rite for the World Mother established by Leadbeater in Sydney in 1925 (and distinct from similar rites, e.g. that written by Mary Rocke), involving a “succession” from the World Mother
  19. The Rite of the Planets
  20. The Bharata Samaj Puja
  21. The Egyptian Rite – including rituals revised under (i) Sri Ram; (ii) Taimni; (iii) Burnier
  22. The rival Egyptian Rite established by Herbrand Williams in 1934 which used rituals revised at the direction of The Master the Count
  23. The “Sun Ritual” established by Geoffrey Hodson in 1946

There are almost certainly others – further information will be gratefully received! It would be useful to compile a comprehensive list, with brief histories and bibliographies of the rituals, and to make the rituals used accessible.

This list does not include rituals used by other Theosophical Societies (e.g. Point Loma, The Temple of the People), or groups deriving from the (Adyar) Theosophical Society (e.g. those founded by Rudolf Steiner or Alice Bailey), or groups in which leading members of the (Adyar) Theosophical Society were involved (e.g. Sat B’hai; Memphis and Mizraim; and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn).



Ritual and the Theosophical World

An interesting article in the recent “Theosophy in Australia” (Vol 81, No 2, June 17:58-61 by Dianne K. Kynaston: “Ritual and the Theosophical World” – available on-line at

AB ritual

“Within the Theosophical world there have been a number of ceremonial activities. The following list provides a number of examples:

  • The Order of the Round Table – an international activity for youth, based on the legend of King Arthur.
  • Temple of the Rosy Cross – a ritual created by Annie Besant in 1912, in London, but which closed at the beginning of World War One. A temple was built for it in the grounds of old Krotona in Hollywood.
  • The Krotona Ritual – a ceremony created in the early 20th century by A.P. Warrington in the U.S.A to herald the advent of the World Teacher.
  • The Ritual of the Mystic Star – a ceremony devised by C. Jinarajadasa in the late 1940s to celebrate the coming of the Great Religious Teachers.
  • International Co-Freemasonry – a Masonic Order created in France in the 1880s for both men and women. Although there is no direct connection with the Theosophical Society, many prominent TS leaders and members joined its ranks.
  • The Liberal Catholic Church – a Christian church developed from the Old Catholic Church of Holland by Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater, in which the intent was on ceremony and not on dogma.
  • Rite of the Planets – an activity of an astrological lodge formed in London.
  • The Bharata Samaj Puja – a ritual of Indian congregational worship.
  • The Order of the Golden Dawn – a Hermetic order whose founding members included a number of TS members such as W.B. Yeats.”

There are some obviously significant omissions from the “number of examples” – the original initiation ceremony into the TS, the World Mother ceremonies, and the Egyptian Rite being most notable – and some historical errors in the list.

Has anyone seen the “Rite of the Planets – an activity of an astrological lodge formed in London”?

Perhaps a more complete descriptive list of Theosophical “ceremonial activities” would be useful?


George Frederick Kunz and the Magic of Jewels

Another probable source for Leadbeater’s writings on jewels was the work of George Frederick Kunz (1856-1932), an American mineralogist and mineral collector, author of over 300 articles and a number of books. See:

Curious lore

The Curious Lore Of Precious Stones Being A Description of Their Sentiments and Folk Lore, Superstitions, Symbolism, Mysticism, Use in Medicine, Protection, Prevention, Religion, and Divination, Crystal Gazing, Birthstones, Lucky Stones and Talismans, Astral, Zodical, and Planetary J.B. Lippincott, Philadelphia and London 1913; Halcyon House, New York, 1938.

Digital version available on-line at:  Chapter X is devoted to “Planetary and Astral Influences of Precious Stones”.


 The Magic of Jewels and Charms Philadelphia London, J.B. Lippincott Company, 1915.

Digital version available on-line at:



William Thomas Pavitt

William Thomas Pavitt was born in 1870, the son of John and Sarah Pavitt. He married Kate Pitt (1868-1949), a dressmaker and milliner, in 1906. He died in 1937. His wife had joined the Theosophical Society in England in 1912.

Pavitt zodiac

Symbols of the Zodiac from William Thomas Pavitt and Kate Pavitt The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems 1st edition: William Rider and Son, London, 1914.

Pavitt moonstone

“An Egyptianesque moonstone pendant by William Thomas Pavitt. Stamped ‘W.T. Pavitt, London’, the oval cabochon moonstone within a pierced rayed mount with three lotus flowers, flanked by leaf motifs, the bead and scroll base with circular wire drop enclosing the symbol of Venus, with fancy-link chain and bale, 6cm long.” Sold at auction, London, 2009.

Pavitt ring

“An Arts and Crafts gold and turquoise set ring by William Thomas Pavitt, the cast wirework foliate frame set with central turquoise stone, internally applied white metal panel with the symbol of Venus, another copper panel with Libra symbol, flanking quartered, date 1909, in William Thomas Pavitt presentation case, size P.” Sold at auction, London, October, 2016.

Pavitt and Leadbeater’s Source on the Occult Use of Jewels

Pavitt book cover

William Thomas Pavitt and Kate Pavitt The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems 1st edition: William Rider and Son, London, 1914; and 2nd revised edition: William Rider and Son, London, 1922, and David McKay Company, Philadelphia, 1922; and 3rd edition William Rider and Son, London, 1929

Digital version available on-line at: (Rider) and (McKay)

The contents of this work are:


Part 1. Amulets and Talismans.

Chapter I The Psychic and Magnetic Influence of Talismans and Gems.

Chapter II Talismans of Primitive Races. The Axe Arrow-head. The Swastika. The Serpent. The Interlaced Triangles.

Chapter III The Tau Cross. Aum Ma Ni Pad Me Hum. Indian Talismans. Ganesa the Elephant-headed. Hanuman the Monkey God. The Eight Glorious Emblems of Buddha. The Wheel of Life. The Conch Shell. The Two Fishes. The Lucky Diagram. The Lotus. The Frog. The Three Gems.

Chapter IV Talisman for Wisdom. Buddha’s Footprints. The Dorje Knots. Chinese Talismans The Trigrams. The Five Bats. The Goose Stork. Pine Tree. Peach Lucky Sentence. The Phoenix. The Dragon Horse Hoof. Siva’s Charm. The Money Sword. Red in Talismans. The Lock Bells. The Tortoise. The Tiger Pigs. The Black Cat.

Chapter V The Pear Charm Show. Fu Jade. The Blue Gown for Longevity. Japanese. The Tiger. Wolf Fox. The Thunder, Fire and Echo. The Fan of Power Hotel, the God of Contentment. The Eagle. The Millet Dumpling. Carp. Sacred Dog. Stork. Tortoise. Crane. Child’s Hand Mitsu-Domoe. Hammer of Dai-koku. The Keys. Anchor. Crystal Ball. Leaf Talisman. Ota-fu-ku Bow. Temple at Ise.

Chapter VI Egyptian Beliefs. Crux Ansata. The Menat. The Two Plumes. The Single Plume. The Nefer. The Cartouche. The Angles and Plummet. The God Bes. Aper. The Tat. The Heart .

Chapter VII The Buckle of the Girdle of Isis. The Scarab. The Eye of Osiris. The Two Fingers. The Collar. The Hawk. The Sma. The Ladder and Steps. The Snake’s Head. The Serpent. The Sun’s Disc. The Frog. The Fish. The Vulture. The Sa, or Tie.

Chapter VIII Gnosticism. Abraxas. Sacred Names. Khnoubis. The Seven Vowels. The Magic Symbols. The Archangels. Lion-headed Serpent. Aum. The Ineffable Name. Horus. Osiris. Isis. Etruscan, Greek, and Roman. The Crescent Symbol. The Horseshoe Tusk, or Horn Stable Keys. Amalthaea’s Horn, or Cornucopia. Serapis Bull’s Head. Diana. Harpokrates. Anubis. Bellerophon. Salus. Ring Hygiea.

Chapter IX The Bulla. The Tusk. Pine Cone. The Frog. Skull of an Ass. Key Talismans. Grylli, or Chimera. Goat. The Ox. Lion. Eagle. The Caduceus. Mercury. Health Rings. Boar’s Head. Clenched Hand. Open Hand. Figured Hands. The Lizard. The Spider. The Fish Snails.

Chapter X The Orient. The Koran. Jochebed. Bead Necklaces. Mashallah. Hassan and Hussein. Hand of the Lady Fatima. Five Principal Commandments. Zufur. Tukiah. Nasiree. Gadiri. Mohammed. Merzoum. The Diamond Cube of Amber. Scorpion-charming. Early Christian and Mediaeval Talismans. Clement of Alexandria. The Fish. Dag Palm Branch. The Ship. Sacred Monogram. Shen. Constantine the Great. Thoth. The Cross. Household Cross. Yucatan. Hand and Cross. Wheel. Cross.

Chapter XI The Agnus Dei. The Coventry Ring. Ananizapta. Tau Cross. Cross of St. Benedict. Byzantine Ring. Simsum Ring. Abracadabra. Pentalpha, Pentacle, Pentagram, or Five-pointed Star. The Kabala. The Table of Jupiter. The Ten Divine Names. The Planetary Angels. The Agla. Dr. Dee.

Chapter XII Tetragrammaton. Phylactery. Talismans against all mischiefs, the Magus Venus Talisman. Totaphoth. Abraxas. Eye of a Cock. Bells. Gargoyles. Cramp Rings. Blessing of Rings. Musseltaub. Posie Rings. Gemmel Rings. Zodiacal Rings. The Signs of the Zodiac in Rhyme. General Talismans. The Lee Penny Crystal. The Moon Talismans. Peacock. Juno. Fire Talismans. Gold Nugget. Corns. Card Talismans. Badger’s Tooth. Four-leaved Clover.

Part 2. The Gems of the Zodiac

Chapter 1 Aries—The Ram

Chapter 2 Taurus—The Bull

Chapter 3 Gemini—The House Of The Twins

Chapter 4 Cancer—The House Of The Crab

Chapter 5 Leo—The House Of The Lion

Chapter 6 Virgo—The House Of The Virgin

Chapter 7 Libra—The House Of The Balance

Chapter 8 Scorpio—The House Of The Scorpion

Chapter 9 Sagittarius—The House Of The Archer

Chapter 10 Capricorn—The House Of The Goat

Chapter 11 Aquarius—The House Of The Water-Bearer

Chapter 12 Pisces—The House Of The Fishes

Real And Artificial Gems And How To Test And Select Them


Pavitt advertised his work for gems used for occult purposes in a number of Theosophical journals, including The Vahan and The Co-Mason:

Scan_20170427 (2)

Even in recent years a number of his works of jewellery for occult purposes has been on the market:

Leadbeater and Jewels

Leadbeater developed a complex system of correspondence between jewels and Rays, seen especially in the use of jewels in the Liberal Catholic Church. There is a long tradition in Western occultism of the use of gems, and elaborate systems of correspondences between gems, planets, plants and other things. A good, basic introduction to this subject is: W.B. Crow Precious Stones. Their Occult Power and Hidden Significance The Aquarian Press, London, 1968.

A correspondent has asked me if Leadbeater’s source(s) for his system of correspondence between jewels and Rays has been identified. He drew my attention to one possible source: William Thomas Pavitt and Kate Pavitt The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems.


William Thomas Pavitt and Kate Pavitt The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems 1st edition: William Rider and Son, London, 1914; and 2nd revised edition: William Rider and Son, London, 1922, and David McKay Company, Philadelphia, 1922; and 3rd edition William Rider and Son, London, 1929

Digital version available on-line at: (Rider) and (McKay)

This work is particularly interesting, given the following reference to two noted Theosophists [note that Wedgwood’s name is mis-spelled]:

Evidence of undoubted authenticity of wonderful occult powers and experiences has within recent years become readily accessible to all. Psychometry [the art of sensing past happenings to individuals from the handling of something belonging to them, such as a glove or jewel] may be said to be established as a fact; and that this power is not confined to human affairs but permeates also the lower kingdoms is aptly illustrated by a personal experience which occurred during the summer of 1912. Mr. J. Wedgewood of the Theosophical Society, who is much interested in sensing colours from the touch of Precious Stones, and with whom I have frequently experimented in this direction, called one day at my office with a lady friend, Mrs. Russak, also of the Theosophical Society, and a well-known occultist. In the course of conversation Mr. Wedgewood said, “If you want to know anything about any of your stones, this lady can tell you,” and, being desirous of getting a real test, I selected two new stones that I knew had never been used, as will be seen by what follows: I handed one to Mrs. Russak which she held in the palm of her hand for a moment or so, and then gave me what was, as far as I could judge, a description of the processes of its formation; then, holding it out to me, went on to say, “I am sorry I cannot give you any events connected with this stone, but within the last month you have changed its centre of gravity.” The stone was a Jargoon that I had only just received back from the lapidary with whom I had left it in the rough to be cut; it was a very decided oval in shape whilst in its rough state, and the lapidary had advised me to have practically half of it cutaway, leaving the stone quite circular and only about half its original size, although much more valuable and finer in colour than it would have been had it been cut as an oval twice the size. (pp. 7-8)

William Thomas Pavitt was an English Arts and Crafts jeweller who worked between c.1900-c.1915.


Further research into system of correspondence between jewels and Rays is continuing. Any information or suggestions of sources will be greatly appreciated.

Leadbeater on Christian Doctrine

Orthodox doctrine, as it is generally put before us today, is really repugnant to reason and common sense, and furthermore much of it is obviously untrue. It is blindly accepted by a certain number of people who have never really ventured to face facts for themselves, but as was said before, often the more intelligent and educated sections of society are repelled by its crudities. They either gloss it over and smooth away its corners – that is to say, they do not really accept it as it is offered at all – or else they think as little about it as they can, and many of them make the mistake of turning their backs upon religion altogether, thinking that there is no good to be gained from it at all. Many Christians are themselves often shocked and horrified if the real crudity is that their religion are put before them, but it is nevertheless true that any orthodox Church or body to which they may be long has never definitely disavowed these crudity. Individual preachers may and do, but the churches as a whole do not.

Let us consider exactly what the fundamental teaching is in its barest and crudest form, as we get it in the Salvation Army and in some of the less advanced sects. Baldly, the idea is that an omnipotent and all-powerful Deity, who could have done quite differently if He had so willed, chooses to bring us here under a horrible curse which is called “original sin”, and furthermore that He has prepared an endless future of purposeless torture for nearly everybody. Awful as it sounds, that is stated to be God’s intention towards men. Moved by very natural horror at such a perfectly appalling piece of senseless cruelty as that would be, the Son of the Deity is alleged to come forward and offer Himself as a sacrifice instead of the world. He apparently offers Himself on condition (I am putting it just as baldly and as crudely as I can) that a minute fraction of mankind – at best only a very minute fraction – may escape that awful fate by believing a story for which there is no historical support whatsoever – believing in the face of evidence and reason. All the rest, all the countless millions who lived before this little arrangement was made, and all the other people who never heard of it, or if they have heard of it do not see their way to believing in the story – all of these are allowed to drift to perdition at their own sweet will; and – most amazing feature of the whole astounding concept – the Father accepts that heroic offer, and allows the guiltless Son to suffer.

Is that a rational theory to be put before any reasonable human being? Obviously it is not. It is a nightmare of inconsequence and horror. Any God Who could be guilty of such action as that is not a God that anyone would want to worship. If we heard of a savage king in central Africa behaving like that we would say he ought to be instantly exterminated. We would consider that such savagery marked him off from humanity. It will be said, perhaps, that no one ever really believe that. It has certainly been the custom to slur over many of these points and to surround them with a mist of verbiage, but nevertheless the faith held by numbers of people depends upon that theory, and it is absolute nonsense – it is nonsense anyway – without that theory.

An extract from Chapter 1 of Leadbeater’s unpublished manuscript on Christian doctrine. I am currently working on editing and annotating that work for publication. The manuscript that I am using dates from the early 1930s. I have now been given access to a copy of an earlier, and variant, manuscript of the work, which seems to be that which was given to Bishop Frank Pigott when he visited Sydney in 1924, and which, on the basis of Pigott’s opinion that the work was “not theology”, was never published.

An account of the subsequent publication of what purports to be most of that manuscript can be found at

“The Elder Brother” Reprinted

I was very pleased to receive this afternoon my author’s copies of the recent reprint of my book, “The Elder Brother. A Biography of C.W. Leadbeater” (originally published by Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1982), and even more pleased to read that it had been reprinted as part of the “Routledge Revivals” series described as “restoring to print books of some of the most influential academics of the last 120 years”. I have already received the e-book version, and will receive my author’s copies of the paperback edition when it is released next month.

Elder Brother

Leadbeater’s Last Great Unpublished Work

C.W. Leadbeater’s last great unpublished work was his study of Christian theology, intended to complete a trilogy of which The Science of the Sacraments (1920) and The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals (1920) had been published during his lifetime. It exists in manuscript form, under the title “An Enquiry Into The Failure of Christianity”, in the Theosophical Society Library at Adyar: L*091 Lea AF. His earliest work on the subject, The Christian Creed. Its Origin and Signification (1904) has been continually in print.

 For my posts on this topic, see: , , and

I now have copies of two, slightly varying, copies of the original manuscript of the work, both with slightly varying handwritten annotations, together with the two published works which purport to represent at least most of the original work: A Christian Gnosis (1983) and Christian Gnosis (2011).

It is indeed curious, to say the least, that neither the Theosophical Society nor the Liberal Catholic Church has been prepared to publish the full, un-redacted manuscript of the only unpublished book written by Leadbeater. Virtually all of Leadbeater’s books, even the most obscure, are currently in print in various forms, especially since the copyright on those works has expired. Many of them are in current editions of the Theosophical Publishing House. Many of them are available on-line.

Much to my surprise, following my postings on this site, a number of people have contacted me expressing enthusiasm for an annotated version of Leadbeater’s final work on Christianity (now with the advantage of several manuscripts for comparison, and the whole, as opposed to the “Christian Gnosis” redactions).

While I regard preparing an accurate, un-redacted, annotated version of Leadbeater’s final work on Christianity with something only slightly less than unmitigated horror, I think that it is a project that should be undertaken.

I am eager for responses to this proposal. Please offer responses directly to me – – rather than via this site.