Tag Archives: Manly P. Hall

Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine [Amazon, Bookshop] by Max Heindel, introduction by Manly P Hall.

Heindel Hall Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine

According to the introduction by Manly P. Hall, Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine was the earliest of Max Heindel’s writings on mysticism, composed as a pair of lectures for the Theosophical Society in Los Angeles, and its posthumous publication in 1933 made it the last of his works to see print (11). Other than the useful data on the provenance of the text, Hall’s introduction presents both Heindel and Blavatsky as moral exemplars, and exhorts neo-Rosicrucians and Theosophists to regenerate and maintain the putative holiness of their legacies.

The introduction is followed by an unattributed twelve-page hagiography of Heindel, emphasizing the challenges of his ill-health, just as he stressed Blavatsky’s in his treatment of her. His final words are said to have been addressed to his wife: “I am all right dear” (29).

The first of the two lectures, here given as Chapters I-III, was on the history of the composition of The Secret Doctrine. Heindel admits to drawing freely on the relevant portions of Oclott’s Old Diary Leaves, and since I had read that material, there was little here that came as news to me. Heindel insists on HPB’s lack of material resources and native incapacity for literary production as evidence for her praeternatural inspiration, much as Mohammed is said to have been illiterate. He also compares her to Martin Luther as a “staunch and unflinching … reformer” (38).

The second lecture is two further chapters: one on the content of “Cosmogenesis,” the first volume of The Secret Doctrine, and the other on “Anthropogenesis,” the second. I will admit to having attempted study of the original work, and Heindel’s glosses seem accurate as far as they go. They do include substantial quotation from the “Stanzas of Dzyan,” which are the alleged archaic nucleus of HPB’s Doctrine. Evidently I lack the “perseverance and intuition” (57) which Heindel sets out as requirements for successful readers of The Secret Doctrine, because I have found it less illuminating than other conspicuous works of its author, such as Isis Unveiled and The Voice of the Silence. Taking Heindel’s summaries as given, I cannot see why these metaphysical yarns should incline their students to any particular forms of practice or purity of contemplation.

Appended to this short book are a few pages of “Aphorisms” by Heindel. These are in fact pithy quotations from larger works, and evidently not written as aphorisms. They are all, as far as I can tell, from Heindel’s later period of Christian neo-Rosicrucian teaching, and do not relate to the Theosophical material of the main text.

Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine is perhaps a useful curiosity for someone researching Heindel or his Rosicrucian Fellowship. As an occultist’s retrospective study of Blavatsky and the development of her teachings in The Secret Doctrine, it is inferior to the equally idiosyncratic but much later Book of Dzyan by Tim Maroney.

Atlantis

Atlantis: An Interpretation by Manly P Hall, a 1976 revised edition pamphlet from the Philosophical Research Society, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Manly P Hall Atlantis

“The most famous of all accounts describing the condition of Atlantis and the causes for its destruction are to be found in the Critias and Timaeus of Plato. Most modern books dealing with the problem of Atlantis are built upon Plato’s description. The integrity and learning of this great philosopher can not be easily assailed. Had it not been for the weight of Plato’s authority, the whole subject would have been discredited by modern archaeologists.

There is, however, in fairness to both sides of the controversy, a certain weakness in Plato’s story. The thoughtful reader is impressed immediately by the allegorical and symbolic parts of the account. While these do not detract from the possibility that an Atlantic continent actually existed, they do present the necessary elements for an alternative interpretation. The anti-Atlantists content that in the Critias Plato takes a flight into fiction, in the words of Plutarch, ‘manuring the little seed of the Atlantis myth which Solon had discovered in the Egyptian temples.'” — Introduction

The Occult Anatomy of Man & Occult Masonry

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Occult Anatomy of Man & Occult Masonry by Manly P Hall:

Manly P Hall The Occult Anatomy of Man

 

The first chapter of this “brochure” (as it calls itself) is a curious text, offering a soundly skeptical, mythicist take on Christian origins, while simultaneously asserting Lemurian and Atlantean sources for esoteric traditions! The next three chapters are organized according to the book’s pattern: brain/spirit, heart/emotions, and generative organs/physical sensation. In the chapter on “The Spinal Column” corresponding to the heart, there is also a discussion of clairvoyance and mediumship, and in the chapter on “The Infernal Worlds” Hall additionally provides an exposition of color symbolism. The final chapter of Occult Anatomy is on “embryology,” which offers readings of religious texts as perinatal allegories. It then continues with a thumbnail description of the seven-year cyclical climacteric pattern of individual human development.

Appended to The Occult Anatomy of Man is an essay on “Occult Masonry,” included with the intention to illustrate an application of the principles of occult anatomy. This “treatise” was written by Hall when he was himself not a Masonic initiate, and it contains some perceptive and inspiring items, alongside howlers about the grip of the lion’s paw, and perverse attempts to rehabilitate references to “riding the goat” and “the greased pole.”

Hall’s style is mostly a scattershot dumping of unsourced data along topical lines. His conclusions are not uniformly worthwhile, but the implicit questions to which they respond are ones that mystical aspirants and true initiates should ask themselves in order to advance their understanding. [via]






 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians by Manly P Hall from the Philosophical Research Society:

Manly P Hall's Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians from the Philosophical Research Society

 

There are two sections to this volume, each of distinct significance. The first is Hall’s essay “Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians,” which is principally an analysis of the Osiris legend. Forgiving some references to Atlantean civilization, the analysis is sober and comprehensive, but the most worthwhile part is Hall’s own proposed interpretation, which constitutes the few final pages of the essay. The topic of Freemasonry only arises in this final passage, which uses Masonry as a more contemporary illustration of an initiatory institution, in order to clarify Hall’s remarks about the Egyptian priesthood. Interestingly, he fails to draw the obvious parallel between Osiris and H.A., and thus to re-integrate the allegory within Freemasonry proper.

The second part of the book is a publication of the “Crata Repoa,” an 18th Century manuscript purporting to detail the initiatory system of ancient Egypt. “Crata Repoa” first appeared anonymously in German in the late 18th century, drawing on a wide range of classical sources for its details. Some of those sources were sympathetic to the ancient mysteries, but others were certainly hostile. Given the strict laws of secrecy that surrounded the classical rites, we can only assume that the best-informed and most sympathetic accounts from antiquity were never disclosed. The English text published by Hall is based on John Yarker’s translation from the French of Anton Bailleul, who published his version in 1778.

“Crata Repoa” is presented as a rite divided into seven grades, plus an initial preparation, which suggests correspondences to the classical planets and/or the esoteric anatomy of the sat chakras. It was certainly first composed by someone with knowledge of Masonic initiation, and its sequence reflects features of certain Masonic rites, which it may have influenced in its turn. In addition to the text of “Crata Repoa,” Hall includes his own commentary in a grade-by-grade format, and he appends “The Initiation of Plato.” The latter piece is a scripted drama, clearly based on “Crata Repoa,” written by Charles and Auguste Beaumont, and translated by John Yarker.

The historical value of “Crata Repoa” with respect to the ancient schools of initiation is questionable at best. What it does present is a vivid, and perhaps influential, picture of initiatory ideals as contemplated during the period in which Masonic rituals were assuming their modern form in Europe. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

A Message for this Christmas

 

A message from Manly P. Hall, set to a nice video of a fireplace, suggested by nireiny. This isn’t your father’s Yule Log on the TV.

“There is something to do besides waste time. We have become the greatest time wasters of all history, because we have created a vast entertainment world, which is not very entertaining, in which we escape from responsibility into something that is little better than nothing. This idea of looking for entertainment to escape from self is not good. If we were more critical on these points, we would get better entertainment. We would have things we really want to see or places we really want to go. But, simply to go and work for a number of years, retire on social security, and consider ourselves to be fortunate when we don’t have to work anymore, is an illusion. It’s the most terrible illusion of all. We’re only happy when we’re doing something useful, something constructive, something that helps others or improves ourselves as useful citizens.”