Lawrence Burt: More biographical information

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

Burt photo

For Burt, see:

For the Burt divorce case, see also:

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

See also:

Brendan French: “The Theosophical Masters”

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


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

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

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

KH  Morya CWL

Table of Contents



-Religionism and Reductionism

-The Sociological Method

-An Empirical Approach


-Delimitations with regard to Source Materials

-Delimitations with regard to Time Period

-Delimitations with regard to Geography and Language

-Preliminary observations with regard to Terminology


-Toward a Definition: A selection of materials

-Characteristics and Attributes of the Master

-Functions of the Master

-A Working Heuristic

-Initial Observations



-Childhood and Youth

-The Blavatskian Odyssey

-Fraternities and Friendships


-Ex Oriente Lux?


-Ramsgate, 1851

-Spiritualism and John King

-In Correspondence with the Masters


-William Stainton Moses and Imperator

-Frederick Hockley and the Crowned Angel

-Emma Hardinge Britten and the Chevalier Louis



-The Theosophical Society of the Arya Samiij of India

‘Budhism’, Buddhism, and Chelaship


-Intimations of a Theosophical Universe

-Divinity and Materiality


-The ‘Kiddle Incident’

-The Masters in propriis person is

-Occident or Orient?

-The Coulombs and the ‘Hodgson Report’


-The Book of Dzyan

-Cosmogony and Temporality


-Cosmology, Anthropogeny, and Ethnography

-Evolution and Involution

-Karma and Reincamationism

-The Power behind the Processus


-Developmentalist Historiography and Joachimism

-Jacob Boehme

-Eliphas Livi

-Giordano Bruno

-A Renovated Prisca Theologia

-Blavatskian Gnosis


-The Esoteric Section

-The Inner Group

-Heavenly Ascent

-The Passing of Blavatsky



-Charismatic Authority in Post-Blavatskian Theosophy

-William Quan Judge and the Unfalsifiability of Masters’ Mandates

-A New Mouthpiece for the Masters


-Childhood and Youth

-Introduction to Theosophy and Occult Apprenticeship

-Clairvoyant Investigations

-Occult Chemistry

-Theosophical Homiletics


-Allegations of Misconduct

-The ‘Adyar Manifestations’


-Origins of a Feminine Freemasonry

-Theosophical Freemasonry

-The Seven Rays

-The Emergence of the Sixth Sub-Race

-The Coming of the World-Teacher


-Theosophical Christianity and Christian Theosophy

-Episcopi Vagantes (‘Wandering Bishops’)

-Leadbeaterian Liberal Catholicism

-The (Magic and) Science of the Sacraments


-The Discovery and Training of the Vehicle

-Accelerated Evolution

-The Vehicle Charts a Pathless Land


-The World Mother and the Seven Virgins of Java

-The Egyptian Rite of the Ancient Mysteries

-Leadbeaterian Theosophy and Causative Theurgy

-The Making of a Master

-The Passing of Leadbeater




-Leadbeater and the Animation of Statues


-A Short Theological Excursus









-Theosophical Historiography, Messianism, and Kabbalah


-The Rosicrucian Novel


-A Short Note concerning ‘Jack the Ripper’





-List of figures


-Portraits of the Masters

-Some Stylistic Remarks


-Geography and the Masters


-Europe and the Middle East

-The United States of America

-South America



-Savitri Devi and the Hitlerian Avatar

-The Order of the Nine Angles


1) Theosophical Groups

The Adyar Society

-Geoffrey Hodson

The Point Loma Society

-Katherine Tingley

-Gottfried de Purucker

-Arthur Latham Conger

-James Long

Groups Deriving from the Point Loma Society

-Ernest Hargrove and the Esoteric School

-Word Foundation

-Temple of the People

-The Theosophical Society of New York

-Franz Hartmann and the International Theosophische Verbruderung

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

-The International Group of Theosophists

2) Para-Theosophical Groups

Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical Society

Alice La Trobe Bateman Bailey and the Arcane School

Benjamin Creme

Cyril Meir Scott and The Initiate

3 ) Extra-Theosophical Groups

Golden Dawn Masters: Theosophy and Theurgia

-Robert William Felkin

-Dion Fortune (Violet Mary Firth)

The Rosicrucian Order of the Crotona Fellowship

Baird Thomas Spalding

Manley Palmer Hall and the Philosophical Research Society

Guy Warren Ballard and the ‘I AM’ Movement

The Church Universal and Triumphant

Tuesday Lobsang Rampa and Cyril Henry Hoskin

The Channeled Masters

The Space Masters


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

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

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

Daisy Grove and Esoteric Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her published works included:

The Mystery Teaching of the Bible (1925)

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

Mystery teaching

Apocalypse and Initiation (1926)

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

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

FOTA Interview

The FOTA (Friends of Theosophical Archives) Newsletter No 6 Spring-Summer 2016 Included an interview with me by Leslie Price regarding what was then a new blog:

See: Earlier and later issues of this excellent newsletter can be accessed at:

FOTA interview

I have added some additional information in [].

What is the purpose of the new blog?

As described on the site: “This blog has been established to encourage and promote scholarly research into and discussion and dialogue about the life of Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934). It will publish details of works about Leadbeater and sources of information about his life. It will also publish articles and comments about Leadbeater, his work and works about him provided that these maintain a scholarly standard.”

Traditionally, academics cling to research materials until they are published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Putting research into the required form for such journals is time-consuming and tedious, and publication takes a very long time. Leadbeater and matters associated with him are unlikely to attract much interest from scholarly journals and the number of papers that would ever be accepted will be very small.

I want to make as much material as possible available to the widest possible readership – including but not limited to scholars interested in the field – as quickly as possible in the most easily accessible way.

The blog will also serve as a clearing-house, providing information on sources (libraries, archives, theses, books, articles), especially those which may not be well-known. New researchers in the field should not have to “re-invent the wheel”. Information should be freely available and readily accessible.

How important were archives in your Leadbeater research?

Particularly regarding Leadbeater’s early years, archives were essential resources since all the published material was simply factually inaccurate. Fortunately for the early years, the archival material was almost all outside Theosophical archives and therefore in the public domain.

Is there significant Leadbeater material still withheld from scholars?

The major sources of material still being withheld are those within the archives of the Esoteric Section (or School) of Theosophy, notably that held at Adyar, but there are also ES archives in the USA and at The Manor in Sydney, and, possibly, at Naarden (formerly Huizen).

What will happen to your own archives?

Following the untimely death of John Cooper in 1998, his family asked me to serve as the literary executor of his estate, and to locate a repository for his extensive library and archives. Stringent conditions were to be imposed on any recipient: the collection must be

maintained as a special collection; it must be properly catalogued and preserved; the collection must be accessible to researchers; and nothing from the collection could be dispersed or disposed of which my permission. Various institutions were approached, and

the National Library of Australia was chosen as the most appropriate recipient:

The National Library dealt with John’s library and archives in such a professional manner, and has met all the conditions imposed, that I plan to donate my Theosophical library and archives to the Library.

Given the trouble that it caused, have you ever wished that you had never found Leadbeater’s birth certificate?

The discovery certainly didn’t cause me any trouble. And I found observing how various Theosophical groups dealt with it fascinating, particularly as an example of “cognitive dissonance” which had always been an academic interest of mine. “Cognitive dissonance” is a concept in psychology referring to how individuals, or groups, deal with mutually contradictory beliefs: in this case, for example, “Leadbeater said he was born in 1847 but he was born in 1854”, or “Leadbeater would not tell a lie but he lied about his birth date”. The concept was originally developed by Leon Festinger (1919-1989), an American Sociologist, in his book When Prophecy Fails (1956). It also obviously has relevance to the failed “Coming” centred on Krishnamurti. [For cognitive dissonance, see: ]

Are there any remaining “mysteries” relating to Leadbeater?

I maintain a “checklist” of such mysteries! Three I have recently resolved:

(i) How did Leadbeater’s father’s two sisters, Jane Livesay Leadbeater (1836-1904) and Mary Leadbeater (1837-1908), move out of an impoverished working class family, with illiterate parents, and each marry very eminent Anglican clergymen who were Oxford graduates? The answer was the intervention of a fascinating and somewhat mysterious woman! I will publish more on this later. [see]

(ii) How did Leadbeater acquire the influential patronage of William Wolfe Capes (1834–1914), a very eminent Anglican clergyman, Oxford graduate and Oxford academic, enabling him to become ordained in the Church of England? [see ]

(iii) Why did Leadbeater suddenly leave his Theosophical-Buddhist work in Ceylon? The strange story of discovering the reincarnation of his (non-existent) brother, Gerald, in the person of Jinarajadasa is insufficient. The real explanation comes from the eminent Buddhist teacher, Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), who was involved in Leadbeater’s work at the time. [see ]

The most intriguing remaining “mystery” is why Leadbeater abandoned his Anglican ministry at Bramshott so suddenly and dramatically, and secretly, on November 4 1884. His story of a message from the Master is not adequate. Research continues!

What research are you undertaking now?

I am trying to complete a book, “The Origins of the Liberal Catholic Church: 1915-1920”, on which I have been working for far too many years.

My academic career in Law, membership of a Federal appellate tribunal, and my private practice got in the way! Now that I have retired, I hope finally to complete this by the end of the year.

I am also writing a series of papers on Leadbeater: “Leadbeater: The Early Years”, “Leadbeater: The Anglican Years”, “Leadbeater and Spiritualism” and, just to maintain a reputation for being controversial, “Leadbeater, Gardner and Sex Magic”.

The eminent English Theosophist, E.L. Gardner (1892-1969) was the author of There is No Religion Higher than Truth. Developments in the Theosophical Society (1963) [text available at – see also ] which was highly controversial because it challenged Leadbeater’s claim to psychic powers. But Gardner also wrote a series of papers, never published, claiming that Leadbeater engaged in a form of “sex magic”; he also corresponded on this topic with several eminent Theosophists, including Boris de Zirkoff. I hope to publish the papers and the correspondence, with an introduction and annotations.

Are you happy for people to contact you about the blog or your research?

Yes, but I’m not always an efficient correspondent!


[My e-mail address is now changed: ]


“A Massive Brass Funnel”

In Leadbeater’s account of the “inner workings” of the Christian liturgy, The Science of the Sacraments, he describes how a “Eucharistic edifice” is built above a Church in which the Eucharist is celebrated to facilitate the drawing down of occult forces.

eucharistic edifice

The British communist writer, Jim Higgins, assumed that this referred to an actual physical structure – “a massive brass funnel through which God sent down beneficent rays to the faithful, who stood underneath the blessed metal conduit to receive them”.

“In the early Christian church there was a continuing problem of Bishops who were surplus to requirement. They might be removed from office or even excommunicated by the Pope: nevertheless, through the mysterious ways of the apostolic succession dating back to St Peter, who laid on hands to create the first Bishop, they remained bishops with the power to lay on hands and create more bishops themselves. This caused a deal of anguish to various Popes who took the view that if they could make ’em, they could break ’em.

However, no less an authority than St Augustine proclaimed the continuing validity of orders once conferred. The result was an embarrassing surplus of redundant, incompetent or malfeasant Bishops, who wandered about behaving like princes of the church despite the fact that they had no See. They were known in the trade as Episcopi Vagantes (Vagrant Bishops). This obscure historical fact was little remarked on in church circles, but was noted by a 19th century Church of England parson, AH Mathew, who cunningly managed to get the Church of Utrecht to adopt him as their Bishop for Britain.

No sooner had the apostolic hands graced Mathew’s head than he was off forming his own church. There is nothing like a Bishop’s mitre and crozier to make a chap look posh and become the object of envious glances from other would-be Bishops. Where one man has ventured others will surely follow, if not always by the same route. JR Vilatte and Vernon Herford were made Bishops by the Nestorian Church of the Malabar Coast. Thus it was that the good work continued: the new bishops built their churches and, in time, felt the need for additional bishops. Need being father to the deed, they laid their hands on suitable candidates, who oftentimes, in their turn, developed doctrinal differences which necessitated them breaking away to form their own church. With each split there was a new accretion of theological exotica.

One vagrant bishop blended Catholicism with theosophy and built his cathedral around a massive brass funnel through which God sent down beneficent rays to the faithful, who stood underneath the blessed metal conduit to receive them.”

From: Jim Higgins More Years for the Locust. The Origins of the SWP IS Group, London, 1997, Chapter 14. Text available on-line at:


Jim Higgins (1930 – 2002) was a Communist in Britain from an early age, and was active in the Communist party and various break-away groups, including the Socialist Labour, and the Socialist Review Group which became the International Socialists, before developing a career as a journalist.


Florence Fuller

Theosophy in Australia, June 2018, pp.53-56 includes a very interesting article on the artist Florence Fuller (1867-1946) and the Theosophical influences in her life and art. The article is accessible on-line at:

Fuller joined the Theosophical Society in Perth on 29 May 1905, after hearing Leadbeater speak during a lecture tour. In 1908, Fuller travelled to India and stayed at the Theosophical Society’s headquarters at Adyar.

“Fuller’s time at Adyar was eventful. C.W. Leadbeater arrived around the same time as Fuller, and soon afterwards he ‘discovered’ the person he believed would become a global teacher and orator, Jiddu Krishnamurti (then in his teens).  Leadbeater and others tutored Krishnamurti.  Fuller may have taught him photography.  She also had a small studio built in the grounds and painted.    Her works from the period include a portrait of Leadbeater and a portrait  of  the  Lord  Buddha.  [An original of the latter is at the Australian TS  Headquarters  –  Ed.]  McFarlane emphasises the significance of the latter work, pointing out that it is ‘strikingly modern’   in   comparison   to   all   of   Fuller’s other work, and more radical than compositions created by Grace Cossington Smith and Roland Wakelin, half a decade later.  The painting owes much to Theosophy’s   emphasis   on seeing the subject ‘through a psychic, visionary experience’.”

The text, for which no author is cited, was part of an exhibition of Florence Fuller’s works at the Adyar Museum, International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, in December 2015.


See also:

For Fuller, see:

Jenny McFarlane “Unauthorised visions” Australian Cultural History 2004 23: 43–58.

Jenny McFarlane “Florence Fuller in Adyar” Theosophy in Australia 2010 74 (1): 15–18.

Jenny McFarlane Concerning the Spiritual. The influence of the Theosophical Society on Australian Artists 1890-1934 Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, 2012.



Dr Rumble on Leadbeater

One vigorous critic of the Liberal Catholic Church – and Leadbeater – in Sydney in the 1920s was the Roman Catholic apologist, Dr Leslie Rumble. Initially via “Questions and answers on Catholicism and Protestantism” given from what was then the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM in Sydney, and later in five published volumes, Rumble addressed a diverse range of theological, historical and moral questions: see These volumes sold seven million copies, principally in the United States of America.

Radio replies

The following were his comments on Leadbeater and the Liberal Catholic Church:

  1. Was the lapse of the Liberal Catholics from Roman Catholic unity a recent event?

The so-called “Liberal Catholic Church” never lapsed from unity with Rome for the simple reason that it never was in union with Rome. Its origin was as follows: In 1875 a Colonel Olcott and a Madame Blavatsky founded a Theosophical Society in New York. Later this society was joined by a Mrs. Annie Besant, and still later by a Mr. Leadbeater, an ex-Anglican clergyman. The doctrine of these Theosophists at first was very nebulous, and incorporated much from ancient Indian philosophies. In the beginning Theosophy claimed to be outside and above all religions, and to be the key to the whole mystery of existence. Yet all must remain mystery, so that whilst members might believe what they liked, they ought not to maintain that they have the truth, nor to admit that anyone else has it. But Mr. Leadbeater, who had been expelled from the society in 1906 but was readmitted later on, decided to “religionize” Theosophy; and it was he who commenced the Liberal Catholic Church. He chose this name because he grafted on to his Theosophical ideas forms of worship which he borrowed from the Catholic liturgy. From this you can see that the “Liberal Catholic Church” has no more connection with the true Catholic Church than the king of Siam would have with the king of England, were he to model his coronation robes on those worn by the English king.

  1. Have not the Liberal Catholics valid Holy Orders derived from the Roman Catholic Church?

They claim a succession of valid Orders ultimately traced back to Rome. In 1870, at the time of the Vatican Council, a few Bishops left the Catholic Church and became schismatics. They set up what they called “The Old Catholic Church” in Holland. By these an Anglican minister got himself consecrated as a Bishop. This reverend gentleman, a Mr. Willoughby, in turn consecrated a Mr. Wedgewood, who styled himself the first “Presiding Bishop of the Old Catholics” in Great Britain. In 1916 this “Presiding Bishop Wedgewood” consecrated Mr. Charles Leadbeater as “Regionary Bishop of Australia,” presumably with the idea of founding the “Old Catholic Church” in that country. But Bishop Leadbeater was not true to his trust. He was a dreamer of weird dreams, and envisaged a new religion altogether. He invented a blend of Theosophy, Spiritism, and an incredible number of superstitions, merged with Catholic forms of worship derived from the Roman liturgy. In 1918 the title “Liberal Catholic Church” was adopted for this new cult of astral, etheric, and from the Catholic point of view, blasphemous nonsense.

  1. Do you deny that the Liberal Catholic priesthood is valid?

I do. It is certain that Christ never intended His priesthood to be transmitted for such purposes as these Liberal Catholics have in mind. Bishop Leadbeater, of course, wanted to say that he had incorporated the very essentials of Catholic liturgy in his religious services—and above all, that he possessed a valid Eucharist. There is scarcely need to remark that, whilst Theosophists regard Bishop Leadbeater’s Liberal Catholicism as a wholesale corruption of Theosophy, we ourselves regard it as a still more serious corruption of the Catholic liturgy.

  1. Liberal Catholics say that Rome itself recognizes their Orders as valid.

That is not true. No declaration or document from Rome acknowledging the Orders of these Theosophical Liberal Catholics as valid has ever been given. If a Liberal Catholic Bishop became a convert to the Catholic Church, he would find himself unacceptable either as a Bishop or as a priest to the Catholic authorities. Were he otherwise eligible, and wished to be a priest, he would find himself compelled to submit to ordination at the hands of a Catholic Bishop. If the Liberal Catholics dispute this verdict, let them submit their case to Rome, and ask for a Decree acknowledging their Orders as valid. In the absence of such a decision they have no right to say that Rome recognizes their Orders.

  1. What Catholic articles of belief are rejected by the Liberal Catholics?

All of them. Whatever Christian ideas the Liberal Catholics may profess to accept, it is certain that they do not accept them as orthodox Christians understand them. Mr. Leadbeater denied the divine inspiration of the Bible, declaring that science has rendered it incredible. But he asserts that there is an underlying element of truth in Christianity which can be understood only by a special gift of clairvoyance. His writings give us an extraordinary mixture of Indian philosophy, modern Theosophy, Spiritualism, and distorted Christian teachings. Liberal Catholics deny the absolute, final, and unique validity of Christianity, and claim to find in it a weird and mysterious significance which all genuine Christians must repudiate.



Leslie Audoen Rumble (1892-1975) was an Australian convert to Roman Catholicism, ordained as a Priest in 1924, who taught theology at the Sacred Heart Monastery, Kensington, Sydney. See: and

Drinkwater on 100BC

The most substantial Theosophical work on the 100BC theory of the life of Christ remains unpublished: G. Nevin Drinkwater The Lost Century in the Early Church and the Dead Sea Scrolls. A Reorientation of Christian Origins.

George Nevin Drinkwater (1904-1970), BSc (London), was the son of Harold Drinkwater and Kate Constance Whitehouse. He married Isabella Hailes MacDonald in June 1930.

He worked professionally as a museum curator, including a period at the teaching museum of the Royal Dental Hospital in Sunderland, and then 17 years from 1929 as Deputy Curator at the Sunderland Museum. Most notably he was the Curator of The Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead-on-Tyne, Co. Durham (opened in 1917), from 1946.

Drinkwater photo 2

His published works include: Corroborations of Occult Archaeology (Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1935); The Server at Mass (Keighley, Rydale Press, 1938); Theosophy and the Western Mysteries (Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1944); Food in the Early Church: A Study of Christian Vegetarianism in the Light of Modern Biblical Research (Reprinted from The Liberal Catholic, April 1955-July 1956)(London, St Alban Press, 1960).

He was also the author of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater on The Coming of the Lord (author,  1969).

Drinkwater photo

Drinkwater was a Priest of the Liberal Catholic Church. He published a substantial number of articles in The Liberal Catholic (including “James Ingall Wedgwood, First Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church”, The Liberal Catholic, December, 1966) and The Theosophist (including “The Master K.H. and C.W.L. on Atomic Energy”, The Theosophist, March, 1958 and “Some Recent Scientific Discoveries and Occult Research”, in The Theosophist, April, 1959).

See also:


James Kay, Anglican and Liberal Catholic

During the early years of the Liberal Catholic Church in Sydney, a number of Anglican clergymen found themselves attracted to it.

One of them was James Robin Kay (1887 Hill End NSW – 2.8.1933 Lake Cargelligo NSW). He was described in documents relating to his estate as “Clerk in Holy Orders”.

Kay had been ordained Deacon in the (Anglican) Diocese of Sydney for the (Anglican) Diocese of Goulburn. He served as the Curate of Cootamundra, 1911-12; the Curate of Hay, 1925-1926; and (presumably having been ordained as an Anglican Priest) the Rector of Lake Cargelligo (Diocese of the Riverina), 1926-1933.

Kay’s entry in Crockford’s Clerical Directory provides that information, but includes a reference to: “In Scho. Prof., 1912-1924”. The list of abbreviations offers no clue, unless it is a reference to him having been a “Professor”. This probably referred to his teaching positions at Barker College and “Malvern School” (in fact, Morven Garden School, see note below) referred to in the obituary.

The 1912-1924 “gap” may also refer to a period in which Kay was a Priest of the Liberal Catholic Church. A private account of the church’s activities at the time includes the following references:

September 11 1918

“The Rev. Kay was given the last of minor orders this morning, at St. Michaels Flats, Hunter St., he said the force poured into him was tremendous, he does not think he could have stood it if he had not been through the other before (Anglican Orders).”

September 27 1918

“Robin Kay was ordained.  It was a very beautiful service, with the other ordinations there has not been adequate room, but of course there is now.  it is indeed wonderful when the power is transmitted, Lomia [Wedgwood], then Sirius [Leadbeater], then Inca [Mazel], then each priest in turn imposed their hands on the head of the candidate.  It was done in utter silence, and took some time, a most impressive little drama, and the type of force transmitted, varied with each, or rather it was coloured by the channel or individual through whom it is passed.  Lomia’s [Wedgwood’s] was dramatic, but intensely earnest.  Sirius [Leadbeater] so wonderfully great that it was utterly calm and simple.  Inca [Mazel] simple and pure and magically sweet.  The priests [Gustav] Kollerstrom and [Keith] Dear, N.C. [Norman] Cooper, I. [Irving Steiger] Cooper were of course utterly earnest and doing their best, all giving to help the new priest.  Kay trembled a good deal during the early part, but steaded [sic] when the more important part came.  Beautiful magic it is, such great force at work, and Great ones….

I got him to describe things from his point of view.  He said that when J.I.W. [Wedgwood] imposed his hands, the force was dominating, as if it said “you shall receive this whether you like it or not”.  It affected strongly the top of his head, then it went to his throat and nearly choaked [sic] him, then seemed to go about his shoulders a bit, then down his spine.  When C.W.L. [Leadbeater] did it, he put the little fingers together first, then the others, and by the time the thumbs were touching his head, the force was so tremendous, he could scarcely stand it; again something happened in his throat and then it flooded all through him.  Then with J.A.M. [Mazel] it seemed to be buzzing as if it did not quite know where to go – like bees.  Then it was indefinable, almost a caressing, ‘a sweet influence’ I said?  ‘Yes it was’, he said.  Then he did not know much which was which of the priests except I.S. [Irving Steiger] Cooper, and he said that with him it was like a carress [sic]. Then later when J.I.W. [Wedgwood] made the sign of the cross over him several times as he lay before him, he felt as if he was lifted right off the floor.  “Levitated” I said, and he said “Yes”.  He wondered what was going to happen each time, whether he was going to faint, and decided he must keep hold of himself.

After he had a nice little talk with C.W.L. [Leadbeater]; he said he had wanted to come in contact with him, and C.W.L. [Leadbeater] told him he had been in touch for some time, told him of the 12 Signs of the Zodiac and the 7 Rays etc.  Then C.W.L. [Leadbeater] hoped to see more of him now that he is one of us.”

Kay had clearly left the Liberal Catholic Church by 1924, and returned to the Anglican Church. His death, under very unusual circumstances, was recorded in The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (25 August 1933):



The Rev. James Robin Kay, rector of Lake Cargelligo, was accidentally killed in tragic circumstances late on Monday afternoon. He was lifting a loaded shot-gun from the back of his car when it exploded and he received the whole charge in the top of his head. Mr. Kay had been out in the country, and on his way back to town decided to indulge in some shooting. He had, in the back of the car, a double barrelled hammerless shot-gun, which he had apparently forgotten to unload. About six miles from town, on the Wyalong road, he saw some pigeons, and alighted to have a shot. The barrel of the gun was pointing out of the um (?) and he must have grasped the gun by the barrel. Some chains which were lying loose in the back of the car had become entangled with the triggers, and as soon as the gun was touched one barrel exploded and Mr. Kay received the charge in his head, killing him instantaneously. Mr. Kay was popular with all sections of the community and on Tuesday morning a solemn requiem communion service was held. The burial took place in the afternoon, the service being conducted by the Bishop of Riverina, assisted by several of the Anglican clergy. For several years Mr. Kay taught at Barker College and Malvern School [sic – see note below]. For the past seven years he had been Rector at Lake Cargelligo.”

Morven Garden School (wrongly referred to as “Malvern School” in his obituary), at which Kay taught for some period between 1918-1924, had been established by two Theosophists, Lily Arnold and Jessie Macdonald, to provide a Theosophical education. It was founded in 1918 at Gore Hill on the North Shore of Sydney with funds provided by the Theosophical Society. It was a co-educational boarding school with a vegetarian diet. It operated from 1918-1923, and at its peak in 1920 had some 112 students. Leadbeater had laid the foundation stone of the School.


Chakras and Design

“Last year, our librarian Stephen Van Dyk picked up this slender blue hardcover at a rare book auction. He didn’t know exactly what a “chakra” was, but still he found the worn old book remarkable, if not a bit weird, for its striking illustrations of big painted circles.

Chakras cover

I was surprised to see this book in the office of the National Design Library, which is housed next door to the museum. As a yoga practitioner and incurably curious person, I offered to do some basic research to contextualize the concept of chakras, shed some light on the book’s notable author, and situate this unusual monograph in history…

This book was one of the first attempts to explain the ancient concept of chakras for a Western audience. From Leadbeater’s introduction:

“Much has been written about the chakras, but it is chiefly in Sanskrit or in some of the Indian vernaculars. it is only quite recently that any account of them has appeared in English…The symbolical drawings of them which are used by the Indian yogis were reproduced in [my earlier book] The Serpent Power, but so far as I am aware the illustrations which I give in this book are the first attempt to represent them as they actually appear to those who can see them.”

This use of Western technology (in this case, high res full-color lithography) to illustrate or “prove” ancient belief is itself an interesting habit of modern onlookers eager to produce familiar forms of understanding. Today’s use of advanced neurological scans to study the brains of Buddhist monks comes to mind as a contemporary example of Western science exerting its most advanced technological tools on ancient tradition, as if this tool could determine absolute value in a relative world.

Though at first it may seem like a non-sequitur for a design museum, this rare book tells a story of inter-continental cultural exchange and the technologies in its service, during a moment of early globalization that would have great impact on future generations and our collective imagination.”

Posted by Katie Shelly on February 13, 2015