Invisible Helpers

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Invisible Helpers [Amazon, Local Library] by C W Leadbeater.

Leadbeater Invisible Helpers

I picked up this book supposing it to offer a Theosophical perspective on angels and fairies. It turns out that while those topics are mentioned in passing, the focus of the book is on the charitable work allegedly undertaken by living humans in their “astral” vehicles. It was first published in 1896, but my copy is a reprint of the 1928 third (a.k.a. “First Adyar”) edition, which was expanded with much additional material. It appears that the original edition was very much a promotional tract for the Theosophical Society, describing esoteric ways in which Theosophists benefit humanity, and offering a sketch of the system of attainment engaged by practitioners. The added material expands the range of anecdotes about “invisible helpers,” including much concerning “the war” — which is presumably World War I. 

Leadbeater is surprisingly forgiving of Spiritualism, although he points out its “dangers” from a Theosophical perspective (74, 148). He has no similar softness toward Protestantism, which he repeatedly and appropriately condemns (12, 135-6). One of the most interesting portions is Chapter XVI “Work Among the Dead,” which offers a quasi-scientific theory of the post-mortem state, coming close to a redux of a hypothetical Theosophical Book of the Dead. 

Chapters XIX-XXII offer the overview of the initiatory process, which is a reasonably sober treatment, compared to some of Leadbeater’s other writings on the topic. It should not be entirely without value to Thelemites and other esotericists. The fact that there are twenty-two chapters suggests a possible correspondence with qabalistic paths or Tarot trumps in the structure of the text, but such suspicions are not supported by the actual contents.