A Conference on Annie Besant

Annie Besant

From Leslie Price in England:

Which Theosophist had the biggest impact on Theosophy in England and indeed the world, yet is most neglected today? Not of course H.P.B. who is rightly much studied, but Annie Besant, whose conversion to Theosophy in 1889 so delighted Madame Blavatsky. Annie also made significant contributions to politics, religion, and equality. So, to coincide with her birthday, and with the help of international scholars, the TSE has called a conference on Annie Besant for the weekend 30 September and 1 October 2017. It is worth writing that in your diary now. While the first day will focus on her social activism, the second will look at her Theosophical work.

Even among Theosophists, this event will not be universally popular. For Mrs Besant angered supporters of the American Theosophist William Judge; critics of the English Theosophist Charles Leadbeater; some old pupils of HPB; etc.etc. It should be a lively weekend.






Leadbeater, Bacon and Shakespeare

A number of Theosophical and other occult writers have published works arguing that “that Bacon wrote the plays that pass as Shakespeare’s”. See, for example, Ernest Francis Udny Later Incarnations of Francis Bacon Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 1925. For Udny, see: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/ernest-francis-udny/

Francis Bacon

Leadbeater also made that claim on the basis of his occult investigations.

I recall being present at one of these investigations when in some way Francis Bacon’s work came to be examined. Knowing who Bacon is today, as one of the Adepts, Bishop Leadbeater felt that to investigate Bacon’s affairs clairvoyantly was like a piece of impertinence. But he did note that Bacon wrote the plays that pass as Shakespeare’s. However, what particularly drew my attention at the time was not that fact, which was fairly obvious to me upon the examination of the evidence, but rather something else which Bishop Leadbeater noted on higher planes. If Bacon is Shakespeare, and also if several other works passing under the names of other authors are also from Bacon’s brain, then, there must have been a terrific creative energy in Bacon at the time. Bishop Leadbeater said that, as he watched, it was as if some wonderful ray from a great creative centre on the inner planes had converged upon Bacon, so that he threw off one work after another in the way of plays, poems, philosophical theses, etc., without any particular effort. This little glimpse into the power of the creative consciousness behind everything was far more fascinating to me than the solution of the Bacon-Shakespeare problem.

Jinarajadasa Occult Investigations. A Description of the Work of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938:40-41

In “The Lives” research, Bacon (as the Master the Comte de St. Germain) was given the Star Name of Venus.

The Head of the Seventh Ray is the Master the Comte de St. Germain, known to history in the eighteenth century, whom we sometimes call the Master Rakoczy, as He is the last survivor of that royal house. He was Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, in the seventeenth century, Robertus the monk in the sixteenth, Hunyadi Janos in the fifteenth, Christian Rosenkreuz in the fourteenth, and Roger Bacon in the thirteenth; He is the Hungarian Adept of The Occult World. Further back in time He was the great Neoplatonist Proclus and before that St. Alban. He works to a large extent through ceremonial magic, and employs the services of great Angels, who obey Him implicitly and rejoice to do His will. Though He speaks all European and many Oriental languages, much of His working is in Latin, the language which is the especial vehicle of His thought, and the splendour and rhythm of it is unsurpassed by   anything that we know down here. In His various rituals He wears wonderful and many-coloured robes and jewels. He has a suit of golden chain-mail, which once belonged to a Roman Emperor; over it is thrown a magnificent cloak of crimson, with on its clasp a seven-pointed star in diamond and amethyst, and sometimes He wears a glorious robe of violet. Though He is thus engaged with ceremonial, and still works some of the rituals of the Ancient Mysteries, even the names of which have long been forgotten in the outer world, He is also much concerned with the political situation in Europe and the growth of modern physical science.

C.W. Leadbeater The Masters and The Path Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 2nd edition, 1927

For a contrary Theosophical view, see: https://blavatskytheosophy.com/francis-bacon-a-great-adept-and-theosophist/

Sir Francis Bacon is sometimes spoken of by students of Theosophy as having been a great Adept, Theosophist, Occultist, even as being Christian Rosenkreuz, founder of the Rosicrucians, himself, and as having a connection with the Brotherhood or Lodge of those Masters who are behind the modern Theosophical Movement.

It is also sometimes claimed that Bacon was the real author of most, if not all, of the plays of William Shakespeare.

These ideas are widely accepted in some groups, primarily the followers of the pseudo-theosophical distortions of such people as C.W. Leadbeater, Annie Besant, Alice Bailey, and Benjamin Creme.

Theosophists who study and respect H.P. Blavatsky and the real Mahatmas ought to acquaint themselves with the actual Theosophical position – on this, as on all other matters – as it appears to be completely different to the above and to contradict such notions.


Leadbeater and Astrology

One subject of passing interest to Leadbeater and a short-lived area of his occult investigation, although little publicised, was astrology.

I must not forget to mention an unusual investigation which is interesting because it revealed the true spiritual significance of astrology. Most astrologers today look upon their science from the standpoint of gaining indications of favourable or unfavourable aspects for undertakings. But when the inner meaning of astrology is understood, modern astrology appears very much as a mere bony skeleton compared to the living body. It was through occult investigation that a glimpse was obtained of real astrology.

Among the Theosophists in London were two astrologers, Mr. Alan Leo and Mrs. Bessie Leo. They were both greatly devoted to Dr. Besant, but as I shall narrate, felt a profound gratitude to Bishop Leadbeater for what he did for them. Mr. Alan Leo had not had the opportunity of much higher education but he was (and possibly for the lack of that) very intuitive. Though Mrs. Leo was also intuitive, he was the more intuitive of the two. He was remarkable for an unusual understanding of the significance of the various indications received from his astrological charts. He felt convinced that modern astrology is only the outer husk of something far grander, and he and his wife asked Bishop Leadbeater if he could not in any way assist them.

As I have already narrated, the first investigation into past lives began with a life of Mr. John Varley, where he was a Chaldean priest, and performed a ceremony of invocation of the Star Spirits. Bishop Leadbeater had therefore already a touch with a period of the long past in Chaldea. At that epoch, Chaldean civilization had a religion which, in its higher aspects, was a worship of the Planetary Logoi and Star Spirits, and in its lower, a system of rules for conduct guided by the position of the planets. The religion was full of gorgeous ceremonial, and little by little he investigated this religion of astrology in ancient Chaldea.

The material thus supplied meant a great revelation to the Leos. It made them more mystical and fuller of insight, and was indeed the beginning of the striking contribution to astrology given by both, and particularly by Alan Leo. These investigations were first published in The Theosophical Review [The Theosophical Review, February, March, April 1900] and were later incorporated into Man: Whence, How and Whither, Chapter XIII.

Some day in the future, when once again the Third or Astrological Ray will influence mankind, true astrology will be the predominating religion of man-kind. But it will be really a religion, that is, a worship, and not this modern time-table astrology beyond which its professors do not seem to be able to pass. True astrology begins when a man knows who is his “Father Star”, and reaches out in aspiration towards the Planetary Logos of his Ray, or to some representative of that great Being. While a man will use the forces, which the combination of the spheres will give him, to find out the best way to achieve a result, yet his highest life will be in communion with his Father Star. It is this inner vision of astrology which was given to Alan Leo which enabled him to theosophise astrology.\

Jinarajadasa Occult Investigations. A Description of the Work of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938:63-66

Leadbeater’s writings on astrology are found in Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater Man: Whence, How and Whither. A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1913: 192-106. A digital version of the 1947 reprint of Man: Whence, How and Whither, Chapter XIII can be found on-line at: https://archive.org/stream/manwhencehowandw031919mbp/manwhencehowandw031919mbp_djvu.txt and the text can also be found at: http://www.anandgholap.net/Man_Whence_How_And_Whither-CWL.htm

The idea that it is possible for the physical planets themselves to have any influence over human affairs was of course never held by any of the priests or teachers, nor even, so far as we can see, by the most ignorant of the common people at the early period of which we are now speaking. The theory given to the priests was an exceedingly elaborate mathematical one, probably handed down to them through an unbroken line of tradition from earlier teachers, who had direct and first-hand knowledge of the great facts of nature. The broad idea of their scheme is not difficult to grasp, but it seems impossible in our three dimensions to construct any mathematical figure which will satisfy the requirements of their hypothesis in all its details at least with the knowledge at present at our disposal.

The entire solar system, then, in all its vast complexity, was regarded as simply one great Being, and all its parts as partial expressions of Him. All its physical constituents the sun with his worderful corona, all the planets with their satellites, their oceans, their atmospheres, and the various ethers surrounding them all these collectively made up His physical body, the expression of Him on the physical plane. In the same way the collective astral worlds (not only the astral spheres belonging to these physical planets, but also the purely astral planets of all the chains of the system such, for example, as planets B and F of our own Chain) made up His astral body, and the collective worlds of the mental plane were His mental body the vehicle through which He manifested Himself upon that particular plane.

 So far the idea is clear, and corresponds closely with what we have ourselves been taught with regard to the great LOGOS of our system. Now let it be supposed that in these ‘bodies’ of His at their various levels there are certain different classes or types of matter fairly equally distributed over the whole system. These types do not at all correspond to our usual division into subplanes a division which is made according to the degree of density of the matter, so that in the physical world, for example, we get the solid, liquid, gaseous and etheric conditions of matter. On the contrary, they constitute a totally distinct series of cross-divisions, each containing matter in all these different conditions, so that if we denote the various types by numbers, we should have solid, liquid, and gaseous matter of the first type, solid, liquid and gaseous matter indeed, we may sat at once that the Chaldean theory upon these subjects was practically that which is held by many Theosophists at the present day. Mr. C. W. Leadbeater, in A Textbook of Theosophy and The Hidden Side of Things, has made, as the result of his own investigations, a statement on planetary influences which is to all intents and purposes identical with the belief held thousands of years ago (as the result of similar investigations) by the Chaldaean priests of the second type, and so on all the way through.

Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater Man: Whence, How and Whither. A Record of Clairvoyant Investigation Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1913:192-194

Alan leo photo

Alan Leo (William Frederick Allan)(1860-1917) and his wife Bessie (Ada Elizabeth Murray Allan nee Phillips)(1858-1931) were both astrologers and Theosophists in London. Leo had joined the Society in 1890, Mrs Leo in 1892, and in 1915 he founded the Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society in London. He had been chosen by Mrs Besant as one of the founders of Co-Freemasonry in England, rising to the 30th degree in 1908.

In 1908 Leo was a member of the Executive of the British Section of the Theosophical Society that voted in support of the reinstatement of Leadbeater to membership of the Theosophical Society following the 1906 scandals: see https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/the-other-1908-committee-again/


For Leo, see: http://www.skyscript.co.uk/Alan_Leo.html and http://www.astrolodge.co.uk/articles/an-astrological-article

Leo was the author of numerous works on astrology. A bibliography of his major works can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Leo

esoteric astrology (2)

For the Astrological Lodge, see: http://www.astrolodge.co.uk/history-of-the-lodge


See also: Bessie Leo The Life and Work of Alan Leo, Theosophist, Astrologer, Mason London: “Modern Astrology” Office, 1919 [Foreword by Annie Besant] Digital version available on-line at: https://archive.org/details/lifeworkofalanle00leob




Leadbeater’s Final Work on Christianity

Leadbeater’s final work on Christianity has long remained something of a mystery. 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

The work has supposedly already published as “The Christian Gnosis” or “A Christian Gnosis” – see my comments at https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/christian-gnosis/ and https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/an-enquiry-into-the-failure-of-christianity/ and https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/leadbeaters-christian-trilogy/

One of the benefits of this blog has been the number of people who have contacted me (often requesting a strict assurance of anonymity) to provide me with unpublished material, or references to previously unknown sources.

One “informant” (to revert to my original discipline of anthropology), reading of my interest in the matter, offered – on conditions of strictest confidentiality, oaths of secrecy written in blood…well, not quite, but all very CIA-M16-Watergate like – to make available to me a copy of Leadbeater’s original manuscript, via a courier. I have now returned it to my informant, via a courier (international, and very expensive), having copied and/or scanned the whole work, with some difficulties in quality, given the problems of copying/scanning copies, often of poor quality.

Scan_20170313 (4)

The work is truly tedious and theologically primitive, and largely theologically and historically illiterate, not to mention very poorly written. By the time that he finished this work, Leadbeater was in serious decline. But, of course, the work is interesting. Reading the manuscript, it is obvious why neither the St Alban Press nor Quest was prepared to publish the original text, even with very judicious editing.

Chapter Title
1 Why is Christianity not more successful?
2 God’s Attitude to Man
3 The Scheme called Salvation
4 “Eternal” and “Everlasting”
5 The Descent into Matter
6 The Method of Human Progress
7 Reincarnation
8 A Rational Creed
9 The Real Meaning of Salvation
10 The Inner Teaching of Early Christianity
11 Salvation
12 The Father Almighty
13 The Son
14 The Incarnation
15 The Crucifixion
16 The Descent into Hell
17 The Resurrection
18 The Ascension
19 The Holy Ghost
20 The Holy Catholic Church, The Communion of Saints
21 The Remission of Sins
22 The Resurrection of the Dead

It would be fascinating to publish an annotated version of the original of this strange work purporting to be on Christianity – I may work on it gradually, linking it to Leadbeater’s other works relating to his confused understanding of Christianity.


“Occult Investigations” Annotated

Jinarajadasa published a number of important works describing Leadbeater’s occult research. One of the most significant was: C. Jinarajadasa Occult Investigations. A Description of the Work of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938, 137p. A text version of the work is available on-line at: http://www.minhtrietmoi.org/Theosophy/Jinaradasa/OCCULT%20INVESTIGATIONS.htm

This work provides a more-or-less chronological account of Leadbeater’s “occult investigations” with descriptions of how they were undertaken. The following is an outline of the contents of Occult Investigations. The numbers used here are not found in the original work, which is not divided into numbered chapters or sections.

I am now working on an annotated version of Jinarajadasa’s Occult Investigations.

Scan_20170313 (2)

Explanatory notes will be added to Jinarajadasa’s description of the occult investigations work (e.g. identification of those only described by “Star Names”; brief biographies of important characters; brief outlines of the historical context in which the investigations were undertaken; and references to works in which the research was subsequently published).

Some of Leadbeater’s occult research is not included in Jinarajadasa’s volume, including that on the chakras. Fortunately, details of that research can be found in Kurt Leland Rainbow Body. A History of the Western Chakra System from Blavatsky to Brennan Ibis Press, Lake Worth FL, 2016:183-210. Additional important missing research is that relating to life after death, the effects of incense, Freemasonry and “The Science of the Sacraments”.

Similarly, Leadbeater’s research into the “individualization of cats” is not included in Occult Investigations but was written about at some length by Jinarajadasa elsewhere. There is even a letter written by Leadbeater to some elderly woman enquirer about the post-mortem state of her beloved Tom cat; he assured her that, in a future life when the cat (whose post-mortem state he had investigated) had evolved into a human being, they would meet again and recognize one another.

Details of the “missing research” will be added to this work using Roman numerals – e.g. i, ii, iii… – to indicate that it is not found in the original volume.

1. The first meeting of Besant and Leadbeater [1894]

2. The Astral Plane Manual [1894]

3. Investigations into past lives

3.1 Mr and Mrs John Varley [1894]

3.2 Colonel Olcott (“Ulysses”)[1895]

3.3 Arthur Wells (“Abel”) [1895]

3.4 Alexander Fullerton (“Alastor”)[1903]

3.4 “Ursa” [1903]

3.5 Miss A.J. Willson (“Arcor”)[1907]

3.6 Miss Esther Bright (“Bee”) [1907]

3.7 Miss Francesca Arundale (“Spica”)[1907]

3.8 “Orion” [1907]

3.9 “Mizar”

3.10 “Naga”

3.11 “Amal”

3.12 “Not yet published”: “Alastor”, “Melete”, “Concord”, “Auson”, “Laxa”, “Vale”

3.13 The Lives of Alcyone [1908-1914]

3.14 Why Lives of Alcyone were held back [1914]

3.15 The Band of Servers

3.16 The Last Zoroaster [1911]

3.17 Two techniques of investigation

3.18 Savonarola and Bruno

3.19 The Law of Karma

4.  Maps of Atlantic and Lemuria

5.  The Gospel Narrative [1897-1898]

6.  Did Jesus live 100BC?

7. Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate

8.  Bacon and Shakespeare

9. The Devachanic Plane manual [1896]

10. An Occult Incident

11. The Great Waves

12. Investigations into Early Rounds

13. The Present within the Past

14. The Maya Doctrine

15. Man: When, How and Whither [1909]

16. Dr Besant renounces her clairvoyance [1913]

17. Vision in 1915 of the Victory of the Allies [1915]

18.  Krishnamurti’s Second Initiation [1912]

19.  Objective clairvoyance

20. The cancer cell [1906]

21. The smallpox germ

22. Full use of discovered data

23. Thought forms

24. The detective and the clairvoyant [1894]

25. The occult basis of astrology

26. Astrology as a spiritual religion

27.Occult Chemistry

27.1 Occult Chemistry in 1895 [1895]

27.2 Clairvoyant magnification

27.3 Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen

27.4 UPA – the “Ultimate Physical Atom”

27.5 Elements No. 2 and No. 3

27.6 Occult Chemistry in 1907 [1907]

27.7 Bishop Leadbeater’s Contribution

27.8 Dr Besant’s Contribution

27.9 C. Jinarajadasa as Draftsman

27.10 Radium

27.11 Occult Chemistry in 1909

27.12 Isotopes discovered in 1907

27.13 A fourth inter-periodic group

27.14 C. Jinarajadasa’s forecast

27.15 99 Elements, not 92

27.16 C. Jinarajadasa’s model

27.17 Discovery at a distance

27.18 Occult Chemistry in 1919

27.19 Models of the molecules of water and salt

27.10 “God Geometrizes”

27.11 The structure of benzene, naphthalene and anthracene

27.12 The structure of diamond

27.13 Crooke’s astral laboratory

27.14 Artificial and natural Erbium

27.15 Polonium

27.16 Lost opportunities

27.17 Why the Adepts refuse to give proofs

27.18 Catalysis

27.19 Deuterium

28.20 The last investigation in 1933

28.21 No “next year”

28.22 Third edition of “Occult Chemistry”

28.23 Is there any corroboration?

28.24 The aims of the investigators

28.25 The face of the Grand Geometrician

29. Three Men of “C.W.L.”

29.1 C. Jinarajadasa

29.2 J. Krishnamurti

29.3 D. Rajagopalachary

30. “C.W.L.”




The People behind “The Stars”

While writing something of a commentary on C. Jinarajadasa Occult Investigations. A Description of the Work of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938, I needed to identify some of those behind the “Star Names” used in Leadbeater’s past live research – see: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/in-the-lives-in-the-lives/  The number of characters, and thus “Star Names”, reached 281, according to Jinarajadasa.


The notebook filled by my research assistant when I was at Adyar, Gregory Robertson, was the essential resource. Together we identified all the people behind “The Stars”, except for “Scorpio”. The reason that the identity of “Scorpio” remains unknown is explained in:  https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/in-the-lives-in-the-lives/


Krishna’s Perfect Physical Cleanliness

In June 1910, Leadbeater claimed to have received a communication from the Master regarding Krishnamurti and his brother, Nityananda, with peculiarly specific details regarding their care, in response to his concerns about their father’s influence, he having, according to Leadbeater, lost his sanity and fallen under the influence of “the Blacks”:

They [Krishnamurti and Nityananda] have lived long in hell; try to show them something of paradise. I want them to have everything the opposite of those previous conditions. Instead of hostility, distrust, misery, squalor, irregularity, carelessness and foulness, I want them surrounded by an atmosphere of love and happiness, confidence, regularity, perfect physical cleanliness and mental purity…. Keep them as far as you can within your aura and Annie’s, so that they may be protected from all evil and carnal thoughts…. I want you to civilise them; to teach them to use spoons and forks, nail brushes and toothbrushes, to sit at ease upon chairs instead of crouching on the ground, to sleep rationally on a bed, not in a corner like a dog. Long hours of sleep are specially necessary, but take care they do not sleep in the pyjamas that are responsible for so much evil in your civilisation. Underclothes must always be of silk, linen or cloth and no wool or flannel must touch the skin. No undue tightness must be permitted anywhere, and the shape of the foot must on no account be spoiled. Keep their heads always cool, and whenever possible uncovered. His [Krishna’s] body must be developed to be straight and strong, agile and muscular, with soldierly carriage, deep chest and great lung power. The most scrupulous cleanliness under all conditions is of primary importance. Mary Lutyens Krishnamurti. The Years of Awakening John Murray, London, 1975:41-42


Pupil Jayakar, in her biography of Krishnamurti, declared that:

It is inconceivable that a Master of wisdom – who was also a Kashmiri Brahmin – could have written this letter, loaded as it is with colonial overtones and with its obviously Victorian bias. The contempt with which the British in India regarded Indian culture and living habits is evident in this letter. It was written at a time when the South Indian man, woman, and child, rich or poor, sat and slept on a mat on the floor, and where the joint family provided warmth and a sense of belonging rare in the West

It is also difficult to believe that the brothers were dirty in their habits; as Brahmins, they must have bathed several times a day. Ritual bathing preceded by an oil bath was a discipline closely followed. The teeth were regularly cleaned by the twig of a neem tree, perhaps the best disinfectant that exists; daily clothes washing must also have been part of the regular chores of the household. Pupil Jayakar Krishnamurti. A Biography Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1986:26

Just how Leadbeater received thus curious communication is unclear. No text of a miraculously “precipitated” letter has ever been published, although Jayakar refers to “this letter”. Clairaudience? Clairsentience? Automatic writing? Trance mediumship (as in his early days with Sinnett) and, if so, who transcribed the message?

As Mary Lutyens commented:

It was it was Leadbeater’s insistence on this ‘scrupulous cleanliness’, particularly on the European custom of bathing naked and washing between the legs, that caused so much unpleasant gossip at Adyar. Leadbeater doubtless showed Krishna how to wash in this way but both Krishna and Nietzsche are always maintained that there had never been the slightest hint of immorality. Mary Lutyens Krishnamurti. The Years of Awakening John Murray, London, 1975:42.

Responsibility for the boys’ personal hygiene and cleanliness was, at this time, delegated to Russell (Dick) Balfour-Clarke, as he recalled in his memoir: R. Balfour Clarke The Boyhood of Krishnamurti Chetana, Bombay, 1977:6-9. He also recalled, when I interviewed him at Adyar in 1979, that Leadbeater’s preoccupation with naked bodily washing, and especially the cleansing of the genitals, caused scandal (and, as Dick described it, “misunderstanding”) when it became known to, or was, on rare occasions, seen by, Orthodox Hindus at Adyar.