Theosophy Forward

In THEOSOPHY FORWARD – 2ND QUARTER 2016 appeared the following:


“In April 2016 Dr. Gregory Tillett launched a blog about Leadbeater. Click here

It was Tillett who in 1979 discovered that the actual birth certificate of Leadbeater for 1854 contradicted the long published birth date of 1847. Tillett had been writing a biography of Leadbeater under contract to the leading UK publisher, Routledge and Kegan Paul, and had been assisted by the then TS president, John Coats, who was constitutionally responsible for TS archives. John Coats had asked Lilian Storey, the librarian of the TS in England, who was a family historian, to confirm Tillett’s research, which she did.

After the death of John Coats on 26 December 1979, a decision appears to have been taken by Adyar, so far as possible, to avoid encouragement or even mention of Dr. Tillett’s research, which appeared in his book, The Elder Brother (1982).  There is no doubt that the discoveries made by Dr. Tillett – he earned his doctorate from the University of Sydney in 1986 for a thesis substantially expanding upon his book – presented a difficult problem for the many organisations in which Leadbeater had been involved. This was often met by denial. Even the official birth certificate was only gradually accepted.

Readers may be interested to know what became of Dr. Tillett following his discovery of Leadbeater’s birth certificate and of problems in other details of his life given by Leadbeater. Dr. Tillett, who had never been a member of the Theosophical Society, was never invited to address any Theosophical lodge. His book could not be named in The Theosophist, and in some Sections, it was not admitted to the library, or sold in the bookshop, or reviewed, England being an exception.

Dr. Tillett himself pursued an academic career in Religious Studies and, later, in Law, in his native Australia, and became a recognized authority on conflict resolution. He was ordained as a Priest in the Orthodox Church. When he retired from university work, and from an Australian federal appellate Tribunal, he became a hermit in the Orthodox tradition, and has a blog, City Desert, about the eremitical life. Click here

Some of his research into occultism appeared in various books, and in the journal “Theosophical History” which was established in 1985 to provide an independent place where historical material could be published and discussed. Click here

The new blog created by Dr. Tillett is intended to provide a forum for detailed scholarly discussion of Leadbeater’s life and work. It provides an opportunity for all Theosophists, including those in organisations traditionally hostile to Leadbeater, to update their knowledge and reassess their views. It is also to be hoped that those with unpublished archival material about Leadbeater will make this available to scholars.  No contributions, provided that they comply with the conventional standards of scholarly research and discussion, will be refused publication.

Dr. Tillett intends to make substantial amounts of previously unpublished material relating to Leadbeater, drawn from his vast archives on the subject, freely available on the blog to encourage new scholars to work in the field. He has commented: “It continues to anger me that Theosophical organizations (notably Adyar) with resources, money, libraries and archives, continue to fail to undertake, or facilitate, or fund (or at least not to obstruct!) historical research. There is so much research that could be undertaken. I hope that a new generation of researchers will not have to face the blind prejudice, tedious labour, and wilful obstruction that confronted me in exploring Leadbeater’s life and work. Whatever I can do to assist them, I will do.”

Note from the editor:

The TS Adyar, after the passing of International President Radha Burnier in 2013, is going through a transitional period. Its current leadership headed by Tim Boyd is fully aware of the importance to make historical research possible. Plans have been drawn up to move the Adyar Archives to another location on the estate there and to implement all the necessary improvements. Obviously this renovation will take some time.”


Alice Leighton Cleather

One of the most vigorous critics of Leadbeater’s claim to have been a disciple of Madame Blavatsky, or to have any claim to teach the Theosophy taught by her, was Alice Leighton Cleather (1846-1938), daughter of an Anglican Clergyman. She joined the Theosophical Society in 1885 and the Esoteric Section in 1888. She was admitted to the Inner Group in 1890 was given by Blavatsky the responsibility for recording the meetings.


Alice Leighton Cleather H. P. Blavatsky. A Great Betrayal Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta, 1922 – text available on-line at: with a digital version available on-line at:


For the past fifteen years, despite repeated scandals, exposures, and even the damning evidence produced in various court cases, Mrs. Besant still persists in her blind and fanatical support of the sex pervert and pseudo-occultist C. W. Leadbeater, and the promulgation of his delusive, immoral, and poisonous teachings among the members of the Theosophical Society she rules, and the public at large, to whom she is known chiefly as an able speaker and an astute politician. Goaded by a revival of the well-known evidence against Mr. Leadbeater, and a severe criticism of her own actions, Mrs. Besant published in her official organ (Theosophist, March, 1922.) an article entitled “Whom Will Ye Serve?” and a long Supplement addressed to the members, reiterating her support of Mr. Leadbeater, and making statements in justification of him and herself that call imperatively for a dispassionate review of the history of this ill-omened partnership, and the strongest possible protest against the complete stultification and perversion of H. P. Blavatsky’s life-work and teaching that it involves.

I have no personal quarrel with Mrs. Besant, whose brilliant intellectual gifts we all so much admired in the early days, and who accomplished such splendid work for the Cause during H. P. Blavatsky’s lifetime. I had already been a member of the Society for four years when Mrs. Besant joined in 1889; and as we both subsequently became members of the Inner Group of H. P. B.’s personal pupils, I feel I am in a position to review the facts, and entitled to utter this protest. In fact, I can no longer remain silent in the face of so much that is abhorrent to every true Theosophist, to every devoted follower of H. P. Blavatsky, her Masters, and Their teachings.

Unlike Leadbeater, who was never a member of the Esoteric Section under Madame Blavatsky, let alone the exclusive Inner Group of Blavatsky’s personal pupils, Cleather was a member of both. One of the questions never answered by Leadbeater’s disciples is why, when he was living in London at a time when Blavatsky’s Esoteric Section and Inner Group were both operating, he was never admitted by Blavatsky to membership of either, or why he was an active member of, and “medium” for, A.P. Sinnett’s rival Esoteric Section.

Mrs Cleather was most outraged by Mrs Besant’s claims that Leadbeater had also been one of Blavatsky’s pupils. In her “Whom Will ye Serve?” challenge, Mrs Besant had declared Leadbeater to have been one of H.P.B.’s nearest and most trusted pupils whom she had led to his Master of many lives, and in whom she had awakened the powers since so splendidly used in the service of the Society that he might become a great Teacher. [The Theosophist, March, 1922]

Mrs Cleather called on Mrs Besant “to produce anything in writing by H.P.B. to warrant this audacious assertion.” She noted that Leadbeater was never a member of HPB’s Inner Group, or even of her Lodge in London. One might also wonder how Blavatsky came to be the one who awakened Leadbeater’s psychic powers when he himself declared it was the work of the Master DK assisted by Subba Row.

Cleather was also the author of H.P. Blavatsky As I Knew Her With An Addendum by Basil Crump Thacker, Spink and Co, Calcutta, 1923 – text available on-line at: and H. P. Blavatsky: Her Life and Work for Humanity Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta. 1922.

“On The Liberal Catholic Church”

In 1952, Jinarajadasa published a collection of letters and extracts from notes relating to the origins of the Liberal Catholic Church which he had received under Leadbeater’s will: C. Jinarajadasa On The Liberal Catholic Church. Extracts from the letters of C.W. Leadbeater to Annie Besant, 1916-1923 Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1952.

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These included the letter from Leadbeater informing Besant of his consecration as a Bishop date July 15, 1916:

Wedgwood has arrived and is in good health. His consecration to the Episcopate has had the unexpected result of putting him practically at the head of the Old Catholic movement as far as the British Empire is concerned, all his colleagues (except, I think, one) in it being Theosophists ready to work under his direction. This being so, he desires most earnestly to offer the movement to the World Teacher as one of the vehicles for His force, and a channel for the preparation for His Coming. I took him therefore to the LORD MAITREYA at the Festival, and He was graciously pleased to accept the offer, and to say that He thought the movement would fill a niche in the scheme, and would be useful to Him. From what He said I inferred that He Himself had so guided events as to produce this curious result, that a branch of the Catholic Church, helping the Apostolic Succession in a form which cannot be questioned, should be entirely in the hands of Theosophists, who are willing and eager to do exactly as He wishes. He explained that this was a method of bringing over the Holy Orders of the old plan into the new one, and that this Old Catholic Church might very likely be the only branch of Christianity which would wholly and officially recognize and follow Him when He comes. He does not want it to be aggressive in any way, but to go on quite quietly for the present, carrying on its services for its small congregation in London (as it is doing), gradually drawing round it those who love the Catholic ritual, but want a Theosophical interpretation of it and of the doctrine of the Church….

With His permission Wedgwood has consecrated me as a Bishop on the understanding that I am at perfect liberty to wear my ordinary dress, and am in no way bound to perform any ecclesiastical ceremonies or to take any outward part in the work unless I see it useful to do so, but am to act as intermediary between the LORD and this branch of His Church, referring to Him any points of action or of doctrine upon which it desires instruction.   An interesting little glimpse of occult ways came to me the night after my consecration. My own Master referred very kindly to it, and spoke of the additional power to help that it have given to me; and then He remarked:   ‘You thought you had given up all prospect of a bishopric when you left your Church work thirty-two years ago to follow Upasika (HPB]; but I tell you that it would have been in this very year that you would have reached it had you remained in your original work, so you have lost nothing except the emoluments and the social position, and have gained enormously in other ways. No one ever loses by serving Us!’ That struck me as curious, for I had never thought of it in that way.

Also published was a direct message from The Christ (The Lord Maitreya) to the newly forming church:

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The Lord Maitreya and the LCC

Following his consecration of Leadbeater as a Bishop on July 22 1916, Wedgwood wrote to an unidentified member of his clergy in England regarding the “inner side” of the consecration and of what was to become the Liberal Catholic Church. Leadbeater also wrote similar account which were published much later by Jinarajadasa: C. Jinarajadasa On The Liberal Catholic Church Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1952. As far as is known the letter from Wedgwood has never previously been made public in full.

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“Those of our clergy who belong to the T.S. [Theosophical Society] will, I know, like to have a fairly complete statement of what the Lord Maitreya has said about our movement. Some of this is likely to appear in the E.S. [Esoteric Section] magazine, and in the Watchtower Notes of the October Theosophist a fairly strong hint has been given. I would suggest that not too much of what the Lord said should be spoken of outside of the E.S. membership, but there is no harm in letting people know that the movement has His blessing, provided that nothing of the sort appears in print, as that will only make things more difficult for us when the inevitable time comes that we are attacked by the orthodox church people.

When C.W.L. was consecrated, his Master gave permission, and added a very curious piece of information. He said that if C.W.L. had remained in the Anglican Church, it would have been in this very year that he would have been consecrated to the Anglican Episcopate. “So you see,” He added, “nobody loses by joining us, you have forfeited the emoluments and social position by joining Upasika (H.P.B.) but you have gained much more besides.” C.W.L. had good influence in the church, and every prospect of being a bishop.

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His consecration took place in the presence of a very few people; two priests I had ordained. Tweedy and McConkey presenting him (but not imposing hands). There were mighty influences present: several Masters came, the Lord Maitreya, and the Lord Buddha, and the Star shone out.

When he said his first Mass afterwards, four Masters came in, and the Master Jesus stood there the whole time. He finds the episcopal power immensely useful in his work and regards it as a “gigantic” spiritual force.

Nothing about his consecration will appear in print, and we think it had better become known only very gradually. Only a few people here know.

He was quite emphatic that I should remain at the head of the movement and therefore gave me the oath of canonical obedience but he has consented to act as the inner link and give us any instruction from the Great Ones. The Lord Maitreya accepted the movement to be used in His service, and implied that He had engineered the whole proceedings, so that the movement should get into the hands of Theosophists, and having unquestioned Orders could be used by Him, if He so desired when the time came, to hand His old Orders into the new dispensation. It was to move ahead slowly and quietly for the present, but to be prepared for sudden expansion in the future. It had a great future, and probably would be the only branch of His Church which would recognise Him officially when He came. All this was said of the English division, and not necessarily of the Dutch body, as might perhaps be implied from the Theosophist.

The next step of moment was that He blessed three large bottles of oil, that I had consecrated by the usual formula. They were taken to Him in the fourth dimension, and He held them. This can be used by our priests, as soon as I can get any over to England by a reliable messenger.

He explained that the oil for the sick has a powerful etheric influence; that for catechumens astral, while the Chrism is intensely powerful for purification, and might rather shatter an impure person. These particular oils are in living touch with Him – permanently connected.

Next we set about revision of the Mass. He showed a model of the thought-form it built and did not want the salient features of that disturbed, but gave us carte blanche to effect any improvements that we thought desirable.

We have gone on the plan of eliminating all references to the Judaistic conception of God. Everything that has to do with wrath, the idea of God needing to be appeased or placated, with our being spared or saved from everlasting damnation has walked the plank, and we have endeavoured to make the whole ritual joyous and cheerful. The result is curious. The general influence has grown much nearer the “feel” of the Greek Church; wherever previously in the form there was a saucer-like depression due to an expression of fear or self abasement, now there is a shining and resplendent pinnacle.

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We later saw the Lord, and He said He was pleased with what we had done. This was in fact the new reformation, and we were doing part of the work that the REFORMATION had been intended to do, but had failed. Part of the work was the adaptation to the new sub-race. The fourth sub-race people did not mind whether the thing made sense or not, provided it sounded nice and produced the desired effect. (We had been impressed by the incoherency of the ritual, and had tried to make it more connected, to express in words what was being done). But the fifth sub-race required that the sequence of thought should be logical and that an appeal should be made to the mind. This transition of the requirements from one sub-race to the next had been expressed in architecture under the Count’s guidance when the Freemasons built the Gothic cathedrals. Our new Mass had changed the old rather flat Basilican structures into a magnificent Gothic edifice.

We had to study the structure of the Mass pretty closely and were in much difficulty owing to the fact that the present Roman Mass represents the survival of several different rituals. At the first oblation of the bread and wine, and subsequent invocation of the Holy Spirit, we have the survival of the custom of making presents of corn, wine and oil etc. to the priest for his sustenance; this he blessed with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and then his hands being dirty he washed them. Thereafter the presentation of the offerings to God is repeated ad nauseam. Later after the consecration “Through whom O Lord, Thou dost hallow, quicken, bless etc.” is a survival of another rite, where the peoples’ food was blessed for their use. There seems little purpose in retaining unaltered these fag-ends of defunct rites. Moreover a number of actions are here performed, which have no counterpart to the words used.

The Lord explained certain things to us. The first set of crosses in the Canon “These gifts +, these oblations +, this + holy unblemished sacrifice” are purificatory. (Obviously therefore the invocation of the Holy Spirit over the first oblation must be omitted; you cannot purify what you have asked the Holy Spirit to bless).

The next set “+ bless, + approve, + ratify etc” open the valves for the force to descend. It descends at the words of consecration. An Angel, the Angel of the Presence, in the likeness of the Lord Maitreya descends and takes charge of the proceedings. (This is the angel referred to in the later prayer – a reference which is a mystery to all commentators) The next set of crossings “+ a clean victim, a holy victim + etc.” represents the offering to God of our love and devotion. “Having now the most valuable jewel in the world” said the Lord, we immediately offer these to God in token of our perfect devotion and unselfishness – and they are fortified by the power of the consecrated elements.

The Angel bears these upwards – and the Mass is now doing precisely that which is described in C.W.L’s Colony articles in connection with Temples. The crosses following “most holy + Body and + Blood…filled” draw power out of the Elements and into the priest, who now takes the place of the Angel of the Presence. “+ hallow, + quicken and + bless” draws it out and distributes it over the people. “By Him + etc.” means by Him all things were made, in Him as the indwelling life all exist, and through Him as the transcendent Glory” “the + Father… + Holy Ghost” unite the other two rays of the Trinity. Where he crosses himself with the paten “Andrew and all the saints” he unites the act with the intercession of the saints; and at “the + peace of the Lord, + be always + with you” the force is drawn and extended out over the parish.

Ite missa est, is the dismissal of the angels, who have been bathing in the power.

As to the saints names, we have omitted these. They were heroic figures in the early days of the church and roused great enthusiasm in the people. That no longer happens. We cannot very well say Blessed Helena Petrovna [Blavatsky], blessed Vasanta [Besant], blessed Charles [Leadbeater], which would be our modern equivalent! They are not special vehicles of power and rather tend to put strangers off.

I shall also bring back some powerfully magnetised talismans to go in our altar stones, and some genuine ashes of the Lord Buddha for our pro cathedral. There is a tremendous power flowing through the movement, and it is likely to gain a pretty good following. So we must be all the more careful whom we admit to ordination.”

The Master’s comment that Leadbeater “would have been consecrated to the Anglican Episcopate” that year (1916) had he remained in the Anglican Church is, to say the very least, incredibly optimistic. Leadbeater had been an assistant curate in what was really an ecclesiastical backwater, and lacking a University degree. Ordained in 1879 (when he was 25 years old), he would have been 62 years old (in reality albeit not according to Leadbeater’s fictional account) in 1916. He might – just might – have been made a Parish Priest by that time.

Mrs Besant’s Great English Gentleman

In Theosophy in Australasia for February 1, 1920 Mrs Besant wrote “February 17th [1920] is Mr Leadbeater’s seventy-third birthday…” (which it wasn’t) and goes on to add to the myth of his distinguished past by declaring that he was a “great English gentleman” and that “one is not at all surprised to learn of his association in earlier years with Lytton, Tennyson, Ruskin, Charles Kingsley, Sir William Crookes, Sinnett and others of equal calibre.”

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Leadbeater had a brief association with Sir William Crookes (1832-1919): they had joined the Theosophical Society at the same meeting but there is no evidence any other “association”. Leadbeater was more closely associated with Sinnett, although by 1920 one might have thought that Mrs Besant would have avoided Sinnett’s name, given his published views on the 1906 scandals regarding Leadbeater. There is no evidence of any association between Leadbeater and Lytton, other than Leadbeater’s highly improbable claim of the novelist’s presence at a dinner given by Leadbeater’s father at their home (which was, at the time, a lodging house in a poor area). Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Baron Tennyson of Aldworth (1809-1892) in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight, poet, and Poet Laureate from 1850, likewise doesn’t fit into the Victorian world’s class system as a likely candidate for associating with the son of a railway clerk or a curate in an obscure backwater. Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), novelist, and Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge from 1860, died in 1875, and so must have “associated” with Leadbeater before the Leadbeater was 21. But where and how? John Ruskin (1819-1900), artist, poet, author, philosopher, the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, lived until 1900 but, once again, where and how could he have associated with Leadbeater?

Lytton, Tennyson, Kinglsey, and Ruskin were pre-eminent figures – even icons – of the cultural world of their time. Just how the son of an impoverished railway clerk who became a curate in an ecclesiastical backwater could have been “associated with” them in his “earlier years” is a mystery. Had Leadbeater been born in 1847 (rather than 1854) in Lea Green Hall (rather than in a working class slum street in Stockport), had his father been the chairman of a railway company (rather than a clerk or cashier), had he gone to Oxford (rather than working as a clerk after minimal schooling), had there been a family fortune to be lost in a famous bank crash (rather than living in a lodging house), it might just have been possible.

Mrs Besant’s willing, even enthusiastic, gullibility in regard to almost anything and everything Leadbeater claimed – whether in worldly matters or those of the worlds beyond – is one of the mysteries of her life.


Whither “The Lives”?

A basic question regarding re-publication of Leadbeater’s most important works arises in relation to the massive volumes recording Leadbeater’s supposed psychic research into the past lives of some 300 people: Man: Whence, How and Whither. A Record of Clairvoyant Investigations Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1913 (524 pages) and The Lives of Alcyone. A Clairvoyant Investigation of the Lives Throughout the Age of a Large Band of Servers 2 Volumes, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1924 (738 pages), both attributed to Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater (although, in reality, written by Leadbeater). To which can be added the series, attributed solely to Leadbeater: The Soul’s Growth Through Reincarnation in four parts, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar: Lives of Erato and Spica (1941), The Lives of Orion (1946), The Lives of Ursa, Vega and Eudox (1948) and The Lives of Ulysses, Abel, Arcor and Vale (1950)

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Why has the Theosophical Publishing House never re-published these in modern times? Man: Whence, How and Whither was published in 1913 and reprinted four times, with a 5th “abridged” reprint in 1971. The Lives of Alcyone was only published once (1924). Once the copyright on the works had expired, they were published in a range of paperback editions.

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Jinarajadasa suggested that Mrs Besant completed only one life, that being Number 28:  “It is different in style from the Lives written by Mr Leadbeater… The lines at the end too are graphic in their intensity, lines which could not have been written by the matter-of-fact undramatic narrator who was Mr Leadbeater.”  [Ernest Wood Clairvoyant Investigations by C.W. Leadbeater and “The Lives of Alcyone” (J. Krishnamurti) Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1947:28]

Various claims were made by Leadbeater’s critics (including Ernest Wood) that “The Lives” had been “faked”, although they did not appear to use that term in its normal, or even legal, sense, suggesting rather that Leadbeater had drawn at least some material for them, not from clairvoyant investigations but from more mundane sources.

In The Occult Review for February, 1923, William Loftus Hare criticized the Lives in particular and Leadbeater’s clairvoyant work in general, saying that the material was either related to a period or place which lay beyond any possibility of confirmation or disproof, or, if it related to an historically accessible period, concerned such trivia that no verification would be possible.  There were, Hare noted, a few remarkable exceptions to this when Leadbeater was prepared to totally dislocate history when it suited him, as in the case of the 105 BC birthdate for Jesus.

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John Prentice, ever an outspoken critic of Leadbeater, wrote an attack on his clairvoyant investigations of history in support of the charges made by Hare – see Dawn, November 1, 1923.  Prentice charged that the material for the Peruvian lives in Man, Whence How and Whither (1913:482-90) had been lifted out of Garcilassode le Vega’s Royal Commentaries on the Yucas of Peru (written in 1609 and published in English translation in 1638, 1869 and 1871). [The Occult Review, September, 1923] Leadbeater had declared in Man. Whence, How and Whither (1913:486) that no such published material existed.

These criticisms were remarkable in that they attracted the only public response to his criticisms that Leadbeater is ever known to have made. The Occult Review, of September, 1923, contained a reply from Leadbeater himself.  This was a remarkable departure from his consistent policy of never responding to critics or attack; he usually had his disciples write to defend him.  In his letter Leadbeater claimed that he simply wrote down what he saw on the akashic records, and regarded Hare’s suggestion that he had copied material from other sources as a “gross impertinence”, and accused Hare of “the gross rudeness of unwarranted accusations of deceit”. This did not, of course, address Hare’s criticism.

A Parsi noted that in one of the Persian lives, Leadbeater had confused the male and female names.  This was also one of the very few lives in which he had given anything as substantial as personal names.  The same Parsi produced what he regarded as additional evidence of fraud.

One night Mr Leadbeater had with much hesitation given me a few words in Sanskrit, to which he told me he was listening.  There was much difficulty, he said, in getting words of foreign languages clearly.   He asked me if I recognized the language.   Yes, it was Sanskrit, quite recognizable. [Quoted in Ernest Wood Is This Theosophy? Rider, London, 1936: 139-140]

The following day this interesting fact came up in conversation between Wood, Leadbeater and the Parsi, who felt certain that he had heard the Sanskrit sentence somewhere else.   At that moment the Parsi gentleman’s eye happened to fall upon a book that was out of alignment on the shelf.  On the instant he remembered that the passage that they were talking about was quoted in that book. ‘Why’ he exclaimed, ‘now I remember. It was in this book, The Dream of Ravan, which is out of line, that I read the sentence.’  Mr Leadbeater, he said, looked confused, remarked that the servant had been dusting the books, and diverted the conversation to some other subject. [Quoted in Ernest Wood Is This Theosophy? Rider, London, 1936:140-141. The “Parsi gentleman” was almost certainly B.P. Wadia. The Dream of Ravan. A Mystery was published by the Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1895]


Although various Theosophical commentators have sought to use Leadbeater’s work on “occult chemistry”, for example, as evidence of the accuracy of his clairvoyance, there seem to be no equivalent commentaries on “The Lives” writings, even though they purport to provide substantial amounts of historical and scientific data some of which, at least, is open to critical evaluation.

A digital version of Man. Whence, How and Whither in the 1947 edition is available on-line at:

The text is available on-line at:

The text of The Lives of Alcyone is available on-line at:

A digital version of The Soul’s Growth Through Reincarnation. The Lives of Erato and Spica (1949) is available on-line at:

The text of Ernest Wood Clairvoyant Investigations by C.W. Leadbeater and “The Lives of Alcyone” (J. Krishnamurti) Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1947 is available on-line at:

Jinarajadasa: A Synopsis of Leadbeater

One of the most popular works providing a synopsis of Leadbeater’s interpretation of Theosophy, in somewhat simpler and more popular language, was: C. Jinarajadasa First Principles of Theosophy Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1921. It was published in multiple editions: 1:1921; 2 revised: 1922; 3: 1923; 4: 1928; 5:1938; 6: 1944; 7: 1947; 5: 1938; 6: 1944; 7: 1947; 8: 1948; 9: 1951; 10: 1956; 11: 1960; 12: 1963; 13: 1967. It was also published in Dutch, German, Greek, French and Japanese editions. Once the copyright on the work had expired, but was published in a range of paperback editions.


Demands for further editions from the Theosophical Publishing House were rejected by the Theosophical Publishing House in America and Britain because of the racism implicit in the text – for example, photographs of Australian Aborigines with captions defining them as left-overs from Lemuria.  This information was received from Dora Kunz, then General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in America, at Adyar, 1979.  It remains one of the rare “classics” from the Leadbeater era not republished since 1967, or on which no commentary is ever offered in modern Theosophical works.


Leadbeater held distinctly racist views, basing them on his view of the evolution of Man, in which divinely ordered scheme Theosophists of the Aryan race (a term which became all but impossible to use without serious controversy after the era of Nazi Germany) were inevitably at the highest level. The Third Root Race was the Lemurian, and the “remnants” of it were found in what Leadbeater called “Negros”, although these included the Australian Aborigines.  The Fourth Root Race was the Atlantean; it had as its seven sub-races the Rmoahal, Tlavatli, Toltec, Turanian, Original Semite, Akkadian and Mongolian. The Japanese, the Malays and some Chinese were “remnants” of this Root Race. The Fifth Root Race was the Aryan, including as sub-races the Hindu-Egyptian, Aryan-Semitic, Celtic, Teutonic (the present), and the Austral-American (that currently emerging).  The seventh sub-race was yet to appear, but it would be from the sixth sub-race that the Seventh Root Race would emerge, and hence the importance of that sub-race as the seed of the new age.  It is difficult to equate this scheme with scholarly anthropology.

Jinarajadasa declared that: In the Aryan or Caucasian races we have in some respects the highest forms, not only for beauty of structure, but also for quick response to external stimuli and high sensitiveness to the finer philosophical and artistic thoughts and emotions. (p.37) The illustration that he used for the “Aryan of Caucasion races” was a portrait of Leadbeater. [Figure 20]

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The text of First Principles of Theosophy is available on-line at:

“The Christian Creed”

In 1899, doubtless still drawn in some way to the Anglicanism of his earlier years, Leadbeater wrote a Theosophical interpretation of the doctrines of Christianity.  Published under the title The Christian Creed: Its Origin and Significance, this volume presented the basic doctrines which were later to become known as “Theosophical Christianity”. The Christian Creed was first published by the Theosophical Publishing Society, London, in 1899; Leadbeater had been engaged in research into Christian origins with G.R.S. Mead, some of the results of which appear in Mead’s The Gospels and the Gospel (1902) and Did Jesus Live 100 BC? (1903).


A second edition of The Christian Creed by published by the Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1904 and 1909, and by the Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1909; and a second edition revised and enlarged was published by the Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1920. Since the copyright on the work has lapsed, a number of modern paperback printings have appeared.

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In July and August, 1898, Mrs Besant had delivered five lectures on “Esoteric Christianity” in which she extended the theories of G.R.S. Mead and presented Christianity in a Theosophical form. These lectures were later expanded into a book and published as Esoteric Christianity, or The Lesser Mysteries, in 1901.  By 1904 Mrs Besant was lecturing at Queen’s Hall, London, on “Is Theosophy Anti-Christian” in response to a statement by the Anglican Bishop of London that it was.

So Leadbeater was riding on, or perhaps stimulating, a wave of interest in the Theosophical interpretation of Christianity when he began his occult investigations of Christian origins.  In The Christian Creed he noted that the ordinary churchman “confuses (a) the disciple Jesus; (b) the great Master whom men call the Christ, though he is known by another and far grander name amongst the Initiates; and (c) the Second Aspect or Person of the Logos.”

He assured his readers that the Creeds had been basically misunderstood for centuries, and that his clairvoyant research into their history revealed the true meaning.   For example, in the earliest copies of the creed written in Greek which have “yet been clairvoyantly examined by our investigators” (again, unnamed) the words commonly translated as “Jesus Christ” appear in the Greek as “the chiefest healer” or “deliverer”, or as “the most holy one”.  Transliteration and mistakes, deliberate and accidental, had produced the present corrupt version.

Leadbeater, however, realized the difficulty of persuading unenlightened orthodoxy of his newly discovered interpretation: “It is, however, of little use for us to speak of these various readings until some explorer on the physical plane discovers a manuscript containing them, for then only will the world of scholars be disposed to listen to the suggestions which naturally follow from them.”

Leadbeater further noted amongst the popular errors of misreading that “Pontius Pilate” was a mistake in transliteration for the Greek meaning “the dense sea”, and that the phrase “suffered under Pontius Pilate” should read “endured the dense sea”, meaning that the Logos descended into the dense material plane.  That was, according to Leadbeater, the real sacrifice of Christ, unrelated to the myth of Calvary. Most of these errors were, he noted, the results of mistakes by scribes, and he observed, via the Akashic Records, some of the scribes making the mistakes. Some errors were, however, due to deliberate forgery.

His clairvoyant investigations further led him to agree with G.R.S. Mead that Jesus had been born in 105 BC, became an Essene, had been trained by men from Egypt and India, and travelled to Egypt where he was initiated.  Jesus yielded up his body for the use of the Christ – who had previously made use of the body of Krishna in India – at the age of twenty-nine when he was baptized. Neither Jesus (the body) nor Christ (the Occupier of it temporarily) was a direct manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity, with whom they are often confused in orthodox theology.

For Leadbeater’s views on Jesus, see: The Christian Creed; A Christian Gnosis, 1983:112-64;  The Inner Life, Vol.1, 1967: 114-119.  Jesus, according to Leadbeater, who held distinctly anti-Semitic views, was “of the highest aristocracy of the Jews” with “a tinge of Aryan blood in him.” [The Inner Life, Vol. I, 1967:119]

This interest in the occult side of Christianity was to developed later in Leadbeater’s life as a major preoccupation, bringing with it a whole new series of books, a theology of Theosophy, and a Theosophy of theology.

The text of The Christian Creed 2nd edition (2004) is available on-line at:

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A digital version of the 2nd edition (2004) is available on-line at:

Maitreya as Christ

Leadbeater believed that the Second Coming, in the Christian sense, was about to happen in the early years of the 20th century, and in this he was not alone.  The latter years of the nineteenth and the early years of the twentieth century were punctuated with statements proclaiming the Adventist message.

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Leadbeater believed that what was popularly thought of as the “Second Coming” would occur when the Lord Maitreya, an exalted Being in the Occult Hierarchy, would take possession of the body of one of his disciples just as he had done so when he took possession of the body of Jesus.

Jinarajadasa wrote:  “The fact that the early part of this century was to see a manifestation of the Bodhisattva was first mentioned by C.W. Leadbeater in London in 1901, at a meeting of esoteric students, which was held by him soon after his return from his first visit to the United States.”  [Jinarajadasa, “The Theory as to World Teachers”, in World Theosophy, February, 1931:101]

The origin of Leadbeater’s identification of the Christ of Christianity with the Maitreya of Buddhism is not a traditional Theosophical one.  His critics were quick to point out basic contradictions between his teachings and those of HPB.  She had declared: “No Master of Wisdom from the East will himself appear or send anyone to Europe or America…. until the year 1975” [H.P. Blavatsky The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society and Preliminary Memorandum of the Esoteric Section Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1966:71] and said of Maitreya: “Maitreya is the secret name of the Fifth Buddha, and the Kalki Avatar of the Brahmins – the last MESSIAH who will come at the culmination of the Great Cycle [H.P. Blavatsky The Secret Doctrine Theosophical Publishing Company, London, 1888m Vol. I:384]]. “He will appear as Maitreya Buddha, the last of the Avatars and Buddhas, in the seventh Race.  Only it is not in the Kali yug, our present terrifically materialistic age of Darkness, the ‘Black Age’, that a new Saviour of Humanity can ever appear.” [ibid:470]

The origins of Leadbeater’s identification of Maitreya with Christ, and of the Christology which followed it, are unclear.  They may have derived from a relatively obscure magical fraternity, the Order of the Sat B’hai.  For a time this was controlled by an eccentric Englishman, John Yarker (1833-1913), who offered its rituals to Blavatsky when she was contemplating developing the Theosophical Society along semi-Masonic lines. [Josephine Ransom A Short History of the Theosophical Society Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938:99-100, 103] In the Second Grade of the Sat B’hai the ritual refers to Christ and Maitreya as one and the same.

The Royal Order of the Sat B’hai was based on Brahmin mythology and symbolism.   It seems to have been founded by an Anglo-Indian in the mid-19th century, and was open to both men and women.  Blavatsky and Olcott were honorary members, and so was James Wedgwood.  The Order was at one time headed by John Yarker, with whom Wedgwood and Mrs Besant later developed Masonic associations. There seems to be no evidence that Leadbeater was a member of Sat B’hai. His working relationship with Wedgwood did not begin until 1915 long after his Maitreya-Christ identification had been made.

For Sat B’hai see: Ellic Howe “Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85” Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 2076 1972 – text available on-line at:

It is not clear when first this identification of the Maitreya with the Christ, or the imminence of the Coming, was proclaimed.  It has been said that Blavatsky told a group of Theosophists in 1889 that the real purpose for establishing the Theosophical Society was to prepare humanity for a further teaching ministry by the World Teacher.  However, there seems to be nothing in Blavatsky’s published works to support this claim.  Mary Lutyens claimed that Mrs Besant was giving out similar teachings in 1896. [Mary Lutyens Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening John Murray, London, 1975:12] Certainly, Mrs Besant did proclaim the imminent coming of the Bodhisattva in a speech on the last day of 1908, and the idea received more attention in her speeches throughout the following year. [Josephine Ransom A Short History of the Theosophical Society Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938:384] For example, during her August, 1909, tour of the USA, many of her lectures were on “The Coming Christ” or “The Coming Race”.

Whatever the origins of the idea, or whenever its first proclamation within the Theosophical Society, shortly after his discovery of Krishnamurti, Leadbeater was teaching that the Master who had appeared as Sri Krishna and as Christ was preparing to return to lay the foundations of religion for the Sixth Root Race.  Initially this teaching was confined to the secret papers of the Esoteric Section, but eventually it became a matter of speculation and rumour within the Theosophical Society, and finally the subject of open discussion and was taken up enthusiastically, and publicly, by Mrs Besant.

See also: Hillary Rodrigues Chapter 19:“Young Lord Maitreya” in Vanessa R. Sasson Little Buddhas: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist Texts and Traditions Oxford University Press, 2012: 453-482

Any suggestions or information regarding the origins of Leadbeater’s Maitreya-Christ identification will be very welcome.

The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament

In 1882, and in the midst of his spiritualist explorations, Leadbeater joined the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, an Anglo-Catholic movement which had been founded in 1862 and dedicated itself to increasing devotion to the Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The Confraternity is the oldest Anglican devotional society and was founded in 1862 by Thomas Thellusson Carter during the Oxford Movement in the Church of England and eventually amalgamated with the Society of the Blessed Sacrament, founded in 1860.


It is not easy to document the origins of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament simply because it came into being during “dangerous times”. One of the significant moments of the ritualist movement of the second half of the nineteenth century was the trial (literally) of Fr. Arthur Tooth of S.James’ Hatcham in south London. These were the heady days of persecution, riots, ridicule and imprisonment for practices that we would regard as commonplace today: candles on altars, making the sign of the cross, and vestments!

 Thus membership lists were secret (and destroyed) for fear they might fall into the wrong hands. As a result, little exists of how we came into being.

 Various Anglican Catholic organisations emerged during the 19th century, of which the Society of the Holy Cross (Societas Sancte Crucis or SSC) for priests was the “elite”, so secretive that you could be nominated for membership without even your personal knowledge of it! Seven years later, in 1862, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament was founded at All Saints Margaret Street, London by Canon TT Carter for Anglican clergy and laity (the first Catholic society for both) partially out of SSC and in close association with the English Church Union. Its particular emphasis was for the careful preparation of those wishing to come to the Sacrament of Holy Communion, through fasting and confession.

The Confraternity was actively opposed by the mainly Protestant hierarchy of the Church of England, and, at that time, operated in virtual secrecy. It proclaimed a number of doctrines which, whilst not unknown in the Church of England today, were regarded as radical, even heretical, in 1882: these included prayers for the dead, the use of Eucharistic vestments, the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, fasting Communion, and the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion.

It remains a mystery as to why Leadbeater should have joined the Confraternity; not only was he a Curate in a distinctly Low Church Parish, but he was also in the midst of explorations into spiritualism. Members of the Confraternity were almost all Anglo-Catholic clergymen.

There was no branch of the Confraternity in the Diocese of Winchester, and so Leadbeater, who had become Priest Associate number 1331, was attached to the South Kensington Chapter. Leadbeater resigned from the Confraternity in 1890 giving as his reason the fact that he had become a Buddhist. [Correspondence between the Secretary-General of the Confraternity and the author, March 15 1979, including an extract from the Confraternity’s membership records]

For The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, see;


For a distinctly sensationalist and hostile history of the Confraternity, see Walter Walsh The Secret History of the Oxford Movement Swan, Sonnenschein and Co, London, 1898: chapter VII – digital version available on-line at: