“Foundation Letters and Teachings is the principle published work of Edward Arthur Wilson (1878-1934), the English occultist more widely known as Brother XII. As the self-proclaimed “Messenger of the Masters” and successor to Madame Blavatsky, Wilson established the Aquarian Foundation, an organization which attracted thousands of followers in the latter part of the 1920s and early 1930s, a number of whom moved to the headquarters of his alternative community on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Though his rise to prominence was spectacular, Brother XII’s fall from grace was equally dramatic, and the Aquarian Foundation fell apart amidst a series of sensational court cases featuring charges of financial misconduct and allegations of free love. Despite the breakup of his original colony, Brother XII continued his occult work on a group of nearby islands in the Strait of Georgia, where he and his mistress, a sinister practitioner of ritual magic named Madame Z, subjected his disciples to the most extreme physical hardships, ostensibly for the purpose of furthering their spiritual development. This so-called City of Refuge collapsed in 1932 when a group of disciples revolted against their mistreatment and subsequently brought legal actions against their former leader for the return of the monies they had contributed to him. In the aftermath, Brother XII and his paramour wrecked the settlement and fled with a fortune in gold, leaving a legacy of bitterness and broken dreams, and a legend that endures to this day.
Brother XII was regarded by his adherents as a mystic and a magus, a man with genuine spiritual and occult gifts. In one celebrated incident, he is said to have reduced court proceedings to a shambles when he used his “powers” to paralyze the chief witness against him and to disable the opposing attorney, even toppling a row of spectators in the gallery. A complex, contradictory individual, Brother XII tested his disciples to the limit, though his increasingly irrational behavior led many to believe that he had succumbed to the perils that beset the path of Initiation.
Originally published in 1927, Foundation Letters and Teachings is a collection of Brother XII’s writings, including eighteen early letters, seven articles that lay out the fundamentals of his Teachings, and five periodical articles, four of which appeared in The Occult Review in 1926, and generated enormous comment and controversy. Though the book was primarily intended for a Theosophical audience, its contents have a broader reach, and present Brother XII as a legitimate and determined spiritual teacher.
This Teitan Press edition of Foundation Letters and Teachings is the first reprint of this rare work and includes the full text of the first edition, corrected and reset, together with a comprehensive Foreword by John Oliphant, Brother XII’s biographer and the foremost authority on his life.” [via]
As I write this, Weiser Antiquarian Books also has a copy of the 2nd edition of John Oliphant’s biography Brother XII. The Strange Odyssey of a 20th-Century Prophet and his Quest for a New World on offer as well, which would probably make a nice addition to the primary texts.