The Spirits Awake

There are two books which have been exceptionally influential in their own times, although both of these books are practically unobtainable today.
The first book is 'Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts' - (The Myth of the Twentieth Century) by Alfred Rosenberg.

Alfred Rosenberg, (see left) 1893-1946.
He was born in Russian Estonia and had fought in the Russian Army in the First World War.
In 1917 he left Russia for Germany and settled in Munich where he became an associate of Dietrich Eckart and joined the occult organisation, the ‘Thule Gesellschaft’.
Rosenberg was one of the principal ideologues of the Nazi party and editor of the Nazi paper Völkischer Beobachter.
It was the most influential Nazi text after Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'. The titular "myth" is "the myth of blood, which under the sign of the swastika unchains the racial world-revolution. It is the awakening of the race soul, which after long sleep victoriously ends the race chaos."
He became the official ‘philosopher’ of the Nazi party, both before and after Hitler’s rise to power, publishing ‘Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts' - (The Myth of the Twentieth Century) in 1930.
click below for the full English text of
by Alfred Rosenberg

The other book, equally influential when published, yet hardly read now is Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s (2) ‘Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’ - (‘The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century’).
The ‘myths’ which we shall consider now, however, do not yet correspond in detail to those of which Rosenberg wrote, for, of course, we are still in nineteenth century of Chamberlain.
To rejoin our story we must return to New York State, a mere ten miles from where Joseph Smith was born, at about the time when Joseph Smith’s career was reaching its violent climax.
The Fox family lived in a small town called Hydesville, a small town near Rochester, that was almost identical to town in which Joseph Smith had been nurtured. James D Fox,was a poorly educated, Methodist farmer, barely scraping together a living, who occupied a small wooden framed house with his wife, Margaret and their two daughters, Margaretta, aged 14 and Kate, aged 12.
The previous tenant of the house, Michael Weekman, had suffered from odd, unexplained noises, and when the Fox’s moved in they were similarly effected.
They thought little of it, however, until, one night in March,1848, Kate suggested that the noises should imitate the rhythms of her clicking fingers.
Much to the family’s surprise the knocks followed suite, giving every sign of independent intelligence.
It was not long before a code had been established, and the rapping phenomena had indicated that it was controlled by the spirit of a certain Charles B Rosma, who had been murdered in that very house some five years earlier.
In a very short time the girls became local celebrities, and were the subject of much speculation and investigation.
One important fact that was noted was that whenever the sisters were absent from the house, no phenomena occurred.
It was decide, therefore to separate the girls; Kate stayed with here elder sister, Leah, in Rochester, and Margaretta stayed with her brother, David, in Auburn.
The phenomena, however, occurred in both the houses at which the girls were staying. Surprisingly, a haunting phenomena, as opposed to a poltergeist phenomena, began at the Fox’s home in Hydesville.
Awful gurgling noises and the sound of a body being dragged across the floor terrified James and Margaret Fox, and were witnessed by their neighbours and friends.
It was not until 1904 that a wall in the cellar of the house collapsed, and the remains of a body were discovered along with certain items associating it with Charles Rosma.
Eventually the Fox family moved to Rochester, but manifestations of the phenomena continued. It was after the move that the spirits proclaimed their message that the Age of the Spirits had dawned, and it was from this time that Spiritualism itself became truly established.

(2) Houston Stewart Chamberlain (see right). Houston Stewart Chamberlain (September 9, 1855 – January 9, 1927) was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and Richard Wagner.
Chamberlain married the composer's daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner's death (see left).
His two-volume book, 'Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century), published in 1899, became one of the many references for the pan-Germanic movement of the early 20th century, and, later, of the völkisch antisemitism of Nazi racial policy.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was born in Southsea, Hampshire, England, the son of Rear Admiral William Charles Chamberlain, RN.
His mother, Eliza Jane, daughter of Captain Basil Hall, RN, died before he was a year old, and he was raised by his grandmother in France.

It was not until 1888, when the Fox sisters were in their fifties, and both widowed, that they publicly admitted that they had caused these loud knocking noises, or raps, with their toe joints, and for many commentators, both then and now, this has marked the case as fraudulent, and not worth further investigation.
The fact that they received $1,500 for making this statement, and that, at the time, both sisters were in considerable debt as a result of their heavy drinking does cast a certain amount of doubt upon their statement.
The sisters subsequently said that this had only occurred occasionally, in response to the impossible demands for displays of phenomena which were being made upon them, at that time, by numerous investigators.
All other examples of such rapping, they declared, were entirely genuine.(3)
Here we have a similar situation to the withdrawal of Testimony, by Cowdery and others, as a result of intense feuding and schism within the newly created Church, with regard to Smith’s plates, and the subsequent re-avowal of their original position.
A little bit of mud always sticks, and has, in both cases, caused continuing problems when attempting to reach an unbiased, yet critical assessment of these matters.
Notwithstanding the doubt over the veracity of the Fox sisters, the North Eastern seaboard of the USA was subsequently deluged with para-normal manifestations, as the story of the Fox sisters spread.
It was during this time that the traditional form of spiritualist seances evolved; tables moving musical instruments being played by unseen hands, objects moving or appearing from nowhere. The spirits, it appeared, were sensitive to light, and therefore most seances were held in either complete darkness, or were dimly illuminated by phosphorus covered sheets or slates.
The opportunities for fraud, of course were endless.
In the Rochester area alone over one hundred mediums set themselves up in the space of one year,1850.
A little later the elder Fox sister, Leah, introduced the phenomena of spirit materialization, which was to be the source of much investigation and controversy, which would eventually bring spiritualism into general disrepute.
The Fox sisters had by now taken to touring, somewhat like a vaudeville act, and in Buffalo they were seen by two brothers by the name of Davenport. When they returned home from the seance they too began to experiment with table turning, and eventually became more famous than the Fox sisters.
The contents of the messages received by the sisters, the Davenports and many others, unlike Smith’s communications from Moroni, were unremarkable; some would say trite, apart, that is, from the spirits demand that a new religion of spiritualism be founded, and spread throughout the world.
The general consensus was that they were receiving communications from spirits of the dead, who appeared to be mainly concerned with providing some indication of the continuance of identity after death.
About twenty years later, after the Fox sister’s initial experiences, the American Civil War occurred.
Within four years, approximately six hundred and eighteen thousand soldiers killed, along with a considerable number of civilian deaths, Spiritualism, as communication with those who had ‘passed over’ was now called, became an essential solace for many of those left grieving.
As the century progressed, literacy, cheap books, and improvements in communications, combined with the decay of traditional communities and values, as people moved into the more affluent cities, speeded the dissemination of new ideas, including Spiritualism.
Soon the spiritualist ‘Gospel’ was spreading across the Atlantic to Britain and Europe, as Ouija boards, planchettes, table-turning and seances became fashionable and ‘smart’.

(3) As the Fox sisters were restrained in every way when communicating with spirit entities, it provides an interesting and informative experiment to try and produce loud knocking or rapping sound by moving ones toe joints.
The author and publishers, however, cannot beheld responsible for any injury readers may sustain whilst attempting to reproduce such phenomena.

In 1882, in England, the Society for Psychical Research was set up by Myers and Sidgwick, with the intention of scientifically examining the claims of Spiritualists.
Among those who investigated, and subsequently became converted, was the eminent scientist, William Crookes (4), and the famous novelist, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle (5).

Whilst Nietzsche was announcing that God was dead, the ‘spirits’ were waking, and were on the march in countless church halls, suburban sitting rooms, and even in the salons of the rich.
The New century was bringing with it new phenomena and a awareness, the origins of which were shrouded in mystery.
What the ‘spirits’ told them most people took at face value, like sleepwalkers, stepping into the unknown.

(4) Professor William Crookes OM, Fellow of the Royal Society, President of the British Association of Science, 1832-1919. British scientist, known for his discovery of the element Thallium in 1861, the radiometer in 1875 and the vacuum tube, used in x-ray technology and the precursor of the cathode ray tube, which forms the essential component of televisions and VDUs. He was awarded the Order of Merit in 1910.

(5) Sir Arthur Connan Doyle (see left), 1859-1930. Born in Edinburgh, he later qualified as a doctor, and served in South Africa during the Boer War.
He is most well known for his Sherlock Holmes books, the first of which appeared in 1887. He also wrote adventure stories, along with early examples of the science fiction genre.

In 1917 Doyle was involved in an investigation of a number of photographs which claimed to show images of ‘fairies’
The photos had been taken by two young girls, using a ‘Midg’ camera.
The plates were developed by their father, who was an amateur photographer. The material was sent to the ‘Kodak’ laboratories in London.
Whilst the company was not prepared to state that the photos were genuine, they equally were unable to find any evidence of fraud.
Critics of the photographs have pointed out that the fairies in the picture appear to be wearing contemporary fashions and are similar to depictions of fairies appearing on certain advertising material which was popular at that time.
As recently as 1970, however, the Wright sisters have maintained that the photographs were genuine.

Perhaps the strongest evidence for their authenticity is to be found in the blurring of the extremities of certain figures, which indicates that they are in movement, as the figure’s positions would suggest.
Whilst such an effect would be easily produced with today’s sophisticated air-brush, or computer techniques, it would be virtually impossible to create in 1917.
As with many of these phenomena, we have a juxtaposing of absurdity, as in the fashionable appearance of the fairies, contrasted with the unexplainable, in terms of the apparent genuineness of the figure’s apparent movement, and we are left, unable to judge one way or another.
In 1922, Doyle published ‘The Coming of the Fairies’ [London; Hodder and Stoughton], which describes the circumstances surrounding this baffling case, and contains reproductions of the photographs in question.


Helena Hahn was born in the Ukraine on 12th August, 1831, about ten years after Joseph Smith had his first brush with Moroni.
Her father was Colonel Peter von Hahn, & her mother, Helena de Fadeef was a well known novelist & daughter of Princes Elena Dolgorukov.
Helena’s mother died when she was eleven & she was thereafter brought up in her grandmother’s house.
She was an exceptional child, learning Greek & Latin from her grandmother.
She painted & played had an above average talent at the piano.
As a young girl, she also reported being able to see various entities and indulged in ‘automatic writing’.
She was married to Nikifor V Blavatsky, an Imperial Civil Servant, in her late teens.
Blavatsky was middle-aged and the marriage, which was never consummated, soon ended. Shortly after the marriage Helena left him and, with her father’s financial support, made her way around Europe, acting as a paid companion for successive wealthy ladies.
In 1851 she was in London, at the Great Exhibition, & it was at this time that she first met the mysterious ‘Master Morya’, in Hyde Park of all places.
Subsequently she claims to have developed powerful mediumistic powers and later met the renowned American spiritualist medium Daniel Douglas Home.
As a result of his encouragement and advice she decided to travel to America.
In 1873 America was still an under-populated continent, the white Americans having efficiently exterminated, with a few exceptions, the native population.
The American Government was calling out for people to emigrate, and there were many, like Helena, who were only too willing to heed the call, to settle in the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’.
After a short while she found her feet, meeting, and shortly afterwards, marrying a newspaper reporter called Colonel Henry S Olcott.
After two years of marriage, feeling that she was now financially secure, she set about establishing the Theosophical Society, with Olcott’s money.
Success was slow in arriving. Two years later, however, she published ‘Isis Unveiled’ (1), which she declared had been produced by automatic writing, and as a result of the book’s astounding success, Theosophy took off.
The published aim of the Society was the study of hidden wisdom or knowledge; what the Greeks would have called Gnosis.
The Olcotts, not satisfied with the success which Theosophy had generated in America, set sail, lock, stock and barrel, in 1878, for India.
In India they met, surprisingly perhaps, with an even greater success than that which they had achieved in America.
Everything went very well until 1884 when Richard Hodgeson was sent by the Society of Psychical research to look into Madame Blavatsky’s claims.
The whiff of fraud and scandal, resulting from the investigation of Madame Blavatsky’s more extravagant claims, forced her to return to Europe, where she settled in London, spending her remaining years labouring to complete her final work, ‘The Secret Doctrine’.
Shortly after its completion, in 1891, she died of heart disease, at the age of sixty.
Madame Blavatsky’s life, like Joseph Smith’s, was not entirely edifying, and we will find this a recurring factor in the lives of many of the individuals described in this study.
Her significance and importance lies in her writings and teachings, rather than in her personality, which was not attractive.
Her two main claims to fame are the books published in 1877 and 1888, respectively. The first, previously mentioned, was ‘Isis Unveiled’ followed ten years later by ‘The Secret Doctrine’.

(1) Isis is a goddess of Egyptian origin. She is said to be the daughter of Geb and Nut, [the Earth and Sky], and the sister of Osiris, whom she later married. When Set dismembered Osiris, his brother, Isis searched for this dismembered pieces, and, with the help of Anubis, the God of Embalming, re-animated Osiris. Horus, the son of Isis, subsequently avenged his posthumous father’s death, by killing Set. Osiris was worshipped as God of the under world in classical times, but Isis became the centre of a Gnostic Mystery religion, eventually taking on the aspects and powers of many of the Ancient Gods.

Both are massive works, revealing an amazing breadth of vision, often cogently and at times elegantly expressed.
The works belie their author, unlike Smith’s work, which, despite its remarkable substance, is always coarse and lacking in intellectual fines.
Unlike Smith, Madame Blavatsky made no attempt to accommodate Christianity into her thought.
Her teaching was influenced by Eastern thought and, of course, Gnosticism, and espoused the doctrines of re-incarnation and karma.
In addition, however, she maintained that non-material occult forces existed which the initiated to control would be able to control by virtue of the ‘secret knowledge’ which she taught.
One of her main preoccupations was centred round the belief that certain highly evolved beings existed now, on earth, and could be contacted.
These were referred to as the ‘Hidden Masters’; nine in number.
Madame Blavatsky, of course, claimed to be in touch with these beings, namely ‘Master Morya’ & ‘Koot Hoomi’, and it was over these claims that the accusations of fraud were initially made. As in the case of Joseph Smith, and also many of the later cases we shall consider, Madame Blavatsky was initially the recipient of penetrating and accurate information, which she claimed originated with these ‘Hidden Masters’, and for which there are few rational explanations.
Her books, for example, like Smith’s revelations, go far beyond her own intellectual powers and ability.
As in many other cases, however,in time, she appears to have been abandoned by whatever or whoever was providing her with this additional perception and inspiration.
With only her own powers to fall back on, she was easy prey for her enemies, although in her case this did not result in a lynching, but rather in her credibility suffering a serious decline.
With regard to man’s origins, Madame Blavatsky taught that there had been five previous Root Races, and that the Aryans are the purest of the Fifth Root Race, while the Negro is the most debased.
The Jews, she claimed were a degenerate link between the Fourth and Fifth Root Races. Finally, she suggested that the Races of man were, at various times manipulated by beings from the stars.
Whilst much of her Hindu inspired teaching failed to gain a prolonged acceptance, her occult teachings about race were to become remarkably influential as the years passed.
After Madame Blavatsky’s death the Theosophical Society was taken over by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, and then later taken over by Annie Bessant and C W Leadbeater. The last two managed to conjure up a modern-day messiah, in the person of Jiddu Krishnamutri, who eventually felt obliged to ‘blow the whistle’ on the whole affair by repudiating his role, with the result that the movement was discredited and suffered a further decline from which it has never fully recovered.
While all these ideas can easily be dismissed as so much ‘mumbo jumbo’. there are correspondences between Blavatsky’s teachings and those of Joseph Smith. It may, of course, be argued that Madame Blavatsky spent some time in New York City, close to the birth place of Joseph Smith. While that is true, it should be noted that by the time Madame Blavatsky had arrived in New York, Mormonism, and every living Mormon,had been forcibly removed from New York State at least thirty years previously. The Mormons, at the time of Madame Blavatsky’s short sojourn in America were thousands of miles away in Utah, in self imposed exile. Equally few books on Mormonism, if any, were published in the Eastern States, and those that may have been would have made little reference to the secret Temple doctrines which Theosophy, in some strange way, shares with Mormonism.
That there are links between the two systems is beyond doubt, although those links cannot be shown to exist in any cultural or academic manner. Were Koot Hoomi, Morya & Moroni linked in any way ? Were Blavatsky & Smith snared by the same intelligence ? If they were they were not the first & undoubtedly not the last.

The Rise of the Occult

Theosophy was but one manifestation of the continuing growth of interest in the occult which developed throughout the nineteenth century. The occult teaching of Madame Blavatsky was inspired, to some degree, by the religious philosophies of the East, but there was an Occidental tradition as well, which had an even greater level of correspondence with the resurrected Gnosticism of Joseph Smith.
The Occidental tradition has its origins in the remnants of Gnostic teaching which had survived the destruction of the Classical world, combined with the traditions from the Jewish Kabala (1), Medieval ceremonial magic and the rituals of Freemasonry. This tradition was revitalized by Alphonse Louis Constant; better known as Eliphas Levi.
Levi was a failed Catholic Priest, who later became a left-wing journalist, before turning to the Occult. In 1852, through an association with a mysterious individual called Wronski, who claimed to be of the Polish nobility, he became involved in the study of ceremonial magic. In 1856 he completed the publication of ‘The Ritual and Doctrine of High Magic’, which was followed later by ‘The Key of the Mysteries’ and ‘The History of Magic’. His writings were studied in France particularly, where they had an important influence on the emergence of ‘fin-de-siecle’ culture, but were also read widely in the rest of Europe and England, in translation. Levi died in 1875, two years before the publication of Madame Blavatsky’s ‘Isis Unveiled’.
In England, the most vociferous exponent of this new dawn of the occult was the writer, Bulwer-Lytton. Born in 1803, in London, he was publicly honoured for his services to literature by being raised to the Peerage, as Baron Lytton of Knebworth. Not surprisingly, he was a friend of such respectable Victorian figures as Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disrelli, and pursued a highly successful literary career, until his death in 1873. Like Joseph Smith, he was a Master Freemason, but in addition he was also a member of the English Rosicrucian Society (2).
Among Lytton’s works was ‘The Haunted and the Haunters’, in which he paid homage to Eliphas Levi, portraying him as a master of the occult arts. Probably Lytton’s most famous work, however, which was a best-seller in England, was ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’, but this was by no means his most significant book. In terms of influence, ‘The Coming Race’ far outclassed ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’, and had a far greater following, in translation, in Germany rather than England.

(1) The Kabala, (also spelt Kabbalah and Quabalah etc.), is a system of Jewish ceremonial magic which received its most elaborate exposition during the Middle Ages, although its origins lie in the Gnosticism of the last centuries of the pre-Christian era. It teaches that there are ten levels of reality, (seven of which correspond to the Gnostic planetary spheres). The lowest of these levels is the Earthly or material plane. The planes are inter-related, and these relationships are referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’, because their diagrammatic representation brings to mind a schematic representation of a tree. By ritual it is possible to focus the consciousness and will to the extent that a path from the lowest level to the highest may be undertaken, which will awaken in the aspirant those powers to which we have previously referred.

(2) The Rosicrucian Order has its origins in Germany in the Seventeenth Century.
The first document relating to this teaching was first circulated in 1610, and was subsequently published four years later under the title ‘The History of the Fraternity of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross’.
For a long time the Order was mainly associated with the alchemical search for the ‘universal solvent’ the ‘universal panacea’ and the means of transmuting base metal into gold.
The rituals of Rosicrucian Masonry, however, have always contained elements which were strongly associate with the Gnostic and Kabbalistic traditions.

It is generally accepted that Rosicrucian teachings have contributed considerably to the development of Freemasonry, and in Lytton’s time the ‘Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia’, founded by Robert Wentworth Little in 1865, was one of the most eminent of the ‘additional degrees’ open to those who had reached the highest degree in speculative craft Masonry.
This ‘higher’ order of Masonry provided most of the members of the breakaway movement, known as the ‘Golden Dawn’.
Shortly before Lytton’s death Germany became a single political entity, as a result of the machinations of Prince Otto von Bismarck, the ‘Iron Chancellor’.
German intellectuals were eager for a national and cultural identity, which was understandable, but in addition they were looking for a new spiritual dimension upon which to base their rising nationalism.
‘The Coming Race’ describes the discovery of a subterranean civilisation ruled by ‘supermen’; who bear an uncanny resemblance to Madame Blavatsky’s ‘Hidden Masters’ and the supernatural beings encountered by Joseph Smith.
The superhuman beings, in Lytton’s book, are described as having developed a super-normal psychic power, known as the ‘vril’, which enabled them to produce phenomena which would normally be described as miraculous. The upshot of this was that this race would eventually take over the Earth.

The word ‘Vril’ is, in fact, an ancient Sanskrit word used to describe the enormous energy which can be made available as the result of the awakening of certain dormant faculties in man. The main ingredient that is required to do this, apparently, is a certain esoteric ‘knowledge’.
Whether or not Lytton’s account of the ‘Vril’ was, in his own mind, fictional, the concept was taken up by many occultists in Germany and had far reaching effects.
The main protagonist of this concept in Germany was Karl Haushofer, the celebrated professor of Geopolitics, of whom we shall hear further.
Lytton’s stories about the coming race, along with Blavatsky’s doctrine of the ‘Hidden Masters’ had their effect in England, as well as Germany. In the late eighteen hundreds, two gentlemen, who were interested in the occult and Freemasonry,, were Dr. Woodford and Dr. Wynn Westcott, a London coroner.
These two respectable gentlemen mysteriously acquired some manuscripts which, they maintained, described certain magical rituals. Along with the manuscripts came the name and address of a certain Anna Sprengel, of Nurnberg. (3)
The manuscripts were written in a strange script, which a half-century before would have probably been described as ‘Reformed Egyptian’.
Westcott wrote to Anna Sprengel, who replied, informing him that the rituals were associated with a magical group, in Germany, calling itself ‘Die Goldene Dammerung’ (4).
Apparently Anna Sprengel, in 1888, authorised Westcott to set up an English branch of the ‘Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’ in London.
At the same time Westcott contacted Samuel Liddel Mathers (5), a somewhat eccentric occult scholar to assist him in fleshing out the contents of the Nurnberg documents to enable them to be used as practical rituals.

(3) Nurnberg (Eng. Nuremberg), a city in Bavaria in southern Germany. The city was immortalized by Richard Wagner in ‘Die Meistersingers’, and was subsequently considered to be the spiritual home of Nazism, being the location of the Party Rallies, which were held there from 1933 until 1938.

(4) This name has always been translated into English as ‘The Golden Dawn’ but it should be noted that ‘dammerung’ can be equally translated as ‘twilight’. A more unequivocal word for ‘dawn’ would have been ‘tagesanbruch’.

(5) Samuel Liddel ‘MacGregor’ Mathers, was born in 1854, the son of a clerk. On leaving school, he became a clerk in his father’s footsteps. At the age of twenty three he became a Freemason, rapidly rising through the craft’s degrees. Through his interest in Masonry he met Wyn Westcott and William Woodford, who introduced him to the Rosicrucian Order.

As with Smith’s ‘tablets’, it is reasonable to accept that the cipher manuscripts existed, as many reputable individuals affirmed that they had seen and handled them.
The cipher, however was supposedly cracked by Westcott, or Mathers, or, possibly both of them.
How much of the documents they were able to translate, however, is open to question.
It is equally possible that Smith was unable to translate the Moroni ‘plates’, and relied on Cowdery’s inventiveness for the stories of pre-colonial America whilst obtaining his doctrines from the mysterious Moroni.
Equally Mathers claimed to be in contact with the ‘Hidden Masters’ who may well be the source of the more profound teachings which Mathers ascribed to the ‘Golden Dawn’ manuscript.

In 1891, somewhat conveniently for Westcott and Mathers, Anna Sprengel died, and all contact with the Order in Nurnberg, mysteriously, ceased. Six years later Westcott resigned his position in the order and Mathers became the undisputed leader of the ‘Golden Dawn’ in England.
Despite its impenetrable secrecy, the Order flourished, establishing Temples in Edinburgh, Bradford, Weston-super-Mare and, of course London.
Surprisingly, people from all walks of life joined the order, including many individuals of considerable eminence.
Such members included W B Yeates (see right) (6), Peck (7), Gerald Kelly (8), Moina Bergson (9), Bram Stoker (10) and Arthur Machen (see left)  (11), along with many lesser luminaries of the time.

Among those who were more single minded in their pursuit of the occult were George Cecil Jones, Allan Bennett and, of course, Aleister Crowley.
The ‘Golden Dawn’, in its original charter, had received, according to Westcott and Mathers, only the first five grades of the Order.
These were supposedly described in the Nurnberg manuscript. Apparently there were four further grades, which the parent order in Germany refused to hand over.
As all communication with the order in had Germany ceased, the ‘Golden Dawn’, in England underwent a crisis, as the rank and file members drifted away in their disappointment.
Faced with the possible dissolution of the order, Mathers was forced to act.
In 1892, at a general meeting of the order, Mathers announced that, as a result of certain magical operations, he had been able to contact, not the celestial guardians as expected, but instead the ‘secret chiefs of the Third Order’.
Mathers described these secret chiefs in some detail.
To begin with, they were superhuman adepts.
They were able to appear in ordinary human form, and therefore either possessed material bodies or were capable of manifesting indistinguishable counterfeits.
Mathers stated that he had communicated with them in their ‘human’ form, but on most occasions they had manifested themselves on the Astral Plane.

(6) William Butler Yeates, 1865-1939. Irish poet and leader of the Celtic Revival, of Anglo-Irish descent, he was born in Dublin, the son of a lawyer, turned artist. In 1917 he married Georgie Hyde-Lees, a medium. He was a member of the Irish Senate from 1922-1937, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923. Yeates, himself, eventually became Master of the London Temple.

(7) The Astronomer Royal of Scotland.
(8) Subsequently knighted, he was appointed President of the Royal Academy.

(9) Daughter of the French philosopher Henri Bergson, who was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1928.

(10) Bram Stoker (see right), 1847-1912. Irish novelist who is best remembered for the horror story, ‘Dracula’

(11) Author of ‘The Great God Pan’ and the mysterious ‘Angels of Mons’.

When they had appeared to him on the Astral Plane manner he described them as appearing in symbolic form, with robes and regalia.
He made it clear that they were beings of immense power, capable of causing those in their presence to experience feelings of intense physical depression combined with a sense of suffocation and difficulty in breathing.
It is interesting to not that Joseph Smith records in the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ that, after Moroni’s visit to him he was overtaken with extreme lethargy and was unable to do any work on the following day.
Equally, mediums who conduct spiritualist seances usually suffer from a period of physical and mental exhaustion after establishing contact with dis-incarnate entities.
The general meeting, to which Mathers made the announcement regarding his contact with the ‘secret chiefs’, voted overwhelmingly that the rituals which Mathers claimed had been revealed to him should be accepted, and so the ‘Golden Dawn’ was able to continue along a path which, it seems, was now being dictated to it from some other source.
Eventually Yeates, Mathers and Crowley clashed and the Order split up into a number of warring factions, riven by scandal and lack of leadership.
Its influence faded after the turn of the century, and it was cast away by those who had created it. The question remains, however; who created the ‘Golden Dawn’, which heralded in the golden twilight ?

The Aiwas Manuscript

Possibly the most famous, or rather infamous member of the ‘Golden Dawn’ was Aleister Crowley.

Crowley was born in 1875, at Leamington Spa, in Warwickshire.
It was a surprisingly prosaic beginning for someone who was later to be dubbed ‘the wickedest man in the world’.
His father was a wealthy brewer, who also owned numerous ale houses around London. Despite the fact that he had made his fortune from drink, Crowley’s father, and the whole family, for that matter, were members of the Plymouth Brethren, a Christian sect which campaigned vociferously for ‘temperance’, in other words, total abstinence from alcohol (1).

Because of the family’s considerable wealth, and despite the reputation of the Brethren for frugality, Crowley was spoilt as a child, while at the same time he rebelled against the stultifying morality of his elders, particularly after the death of his father in 1887.
After a succession of private tutors he eventually went to Cambridge, where he began to write poetry, somewhat in the ‘neo-pagan’ style of Swinburne (see right).
On leaving Cambridge he travelled in Russia and northern Europe, taking up professional chess and also mountaineering, which he later pursued in the Alps and the Himalayas.
His real interest, though was magic.
In 1898, while on a climbing holiday in the Alps, Crowley met a certain Julian L Baker. On his return to London Baker introduced Crowley to George Cecil Jones, who told Crowley about the ‘Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’, which had been established ten years earlier.
Crowley, subsequently joined the order and made rapid progress through the various grades. Shortly after Crowley became involved with the Order, a long running dispute between Mathers and Yeates erupted, and Crowley took Mather’s part.
The argument caused irreparable damage to the Order, which proceeded to fragment in bitterly opposed factions. In response to the collapse of the ‘Golden Dawn’, which Crowley had hoped to lead, he set up his own magical Order in 1907; the ‘Argenteum Astrum’; the ‘Silver Star’ (see left).
Three years earlier, Crowley had married Gerald Kelly’s sister, Rose.
Theirs had been a whirlwind romance, followed by an equally hectic tour of the Orient.
Whilst in Egypt, Crowley and his wife spent a night in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid at Gizeh (see right).
Exhibiting his usual recklessness, he proceeded to read the introductory invocation from the ‘Goetia’.
According to Crowley, this resulted in the windowless chamber being filled with a pale lilac phosphorescence, which Crowley identified as the ‘astral light’.
No further manifestations occurred however, and by Crowley’s standards the incident could hardly have been described as a success.
On their return journey, the ‘honeymooners’ returned to Egypt, renting a flat in Cairo.
There they spent many happy hours conjuring up sylphs and other such entities. By this time Rose was showing signs that she had mediumistic powers, regularly drifting into trance-like states.

(1) The Plymouth Brethren were founded in 1827 by the Reverend John Nelson Darby (see right), in Dublin.
They are extreme Protestant Fundamentalists, believing in the absolute truth of scripture.
They are violently opposed to gambling, drink, any form of entertainment or frivolity, and condemn any sexual activity not associated with procreation or within the bounds of matrimony. In 1848 the movement split into ‘Open’ and ‘Close’ brethren.
The ‘Close Brethren’ do not allow themselves any contact with those outside their sect. Crowley’s father belonged to the ‘Open Brethren’.

In these states she kept repeating a message, presumably from some spirit entity, indicating that Crowley had ‘offended Horus’.
Initially, Crowley did not put much store by these manifestations, but when Rose insisted that he should invoke ‘Horus’, and proceeded to describe to him the form of the invocation, Crowley changed his mind.

Rose took Crowley to the Boulak Museum, close to their flat, and showed him a stele (see left), on which was an image of the God Horus, along with certain pertinent inscriptions.
Rose, in a state of trance, told Crowley that ‘they are waiting for you’, and, as a result, Crowley became convinced that the ‘Secret Chiefs’ were attempting to contact him.
He therefore proceeded to make the appropriate invocation on the night of March 19th, 1904.
Rose acted as the mouthpiece of the God and informed Crowley that ‘the Equinox of the Gods’ was imminent, bringing with it a new epoch in human History.
Much to Crowley’s satisfaction he was also told that he had been chosen as the intermediary between the Gods and mankind.
According to Rose these messages came from an entity called Aiwas.
The final message, mediated via Rose, told Crowley to go to his study, at midday, on the 8th, 9th and 10th of April and write down all that he heard. Crowley obeyed and the results of those sessions in his study emerged as ‘The Book of the Law’ (‘Liber al vel Legis’) (see right).
The book takes the form of a long prose-poem, which has been variously described as a literary masterpiece; a pathetic Swinburnian fin-de-siecle parody, and most points between.
The origins of the work are, not surprisingly, also the topic of considerable debate and dispute.
The most obvious view is that Crowley, seeking to outmanoeuvre Mathers, and all other prominent occultists, for that matter, decided to cobble together some of his own ideas, passing them off as a definitive communication from the ‘Secret Chiefs’ or ‘Unknown Supermen’.
This would undoubtedly account for the considerable similarity between the purple prose of Aiwas, and the equally mannered poetry which Crowley had been publishing, unsuccessfully, since his youth.
This assessment, however, does not fit in with the odd fact that Crowley lost the ‘Aiwas Manuscript’ soon after he had ‘written’ it, and on recovering it, at a later date, proceeded to loose it again.
The fact that this happened a number of times, along with written evidence, from Crowley, that he was both embarrassed and disturbed by the Manuscript’s contents, appear to weaken this initial argument.
A less jaundiced view suggests that ‘The Book of the Law’ is, in fact, a product of Crowley’s subconscious, and that Aiwas is a mask behind which Crowley can hide. Such a view would imply that subconsciously he was still afraid of censure from his Puritanical superego, created in the course of his Plymouth Brethren youth, and it was for this reason that the manuscript mysteriously ‘disappeared’ on a number of occasions.
This argument is persuasive; but still leaves a last, and possibly least welcome proposition.
This view would suggest that such an entity as Aiwas existed, indeed may still exist.
Equally such a proposition would suggest that this entity telepathically communicated with Crowley, in a similar manner to which it would have communicated with Rose, and communicated to Crowley certain ideas which, because they would have to pass through Crowley’s thought processes, would, inevitably, be expressed in terms of Crowley’s own inimitable style.
In contrast to many biographers of, and commentators on Crowley, there are some who would suggest that the contents of ‘The Book of the Law’ are far from commonplace or trite.

The central themes are remarkably fresh, and have about them the ambience of a New Age, the ‘Age of Horus’ (see left) which Aiwas so emphatically ushers in.
That that ‘New Age’ looks to many of us, now, like a faded sepia vision is no fault of Crowley’s, for in its time his vision, the vision of Aiwas, would lead to a public outcry which would charge Crowley, in all seriousness, with being the ‘Wickedest Man in the World’, whilst politicians and generals, responsible for the pointless slaughter of millions, would be feted and honoured the world over.
To what extent did the revelations of Aiwas have any bearing upon, or correspondence with the revelations given by Moroni to Joseph Smith, or the spiritualist revelations of the Fox sisters or Madame Blavatsky’s messages from ‘the Nine’ ?
Smith’s revelations came encoded in Biblical pastiches; the Fox sisters received messages which were as trite as the gossip of teenage girls; Madame Blavatsky’s ‘Isis Unveiled’ is, antithetically, ‘veiled’ in Oriental philosophy and Crowley is given a message from Aiwas which is particularly suited to the dawning new age.
Each message partakes, not surprisingly, of its time and its herald, but within each there runs a similar theme.
The most surprising correspondence between the Aiwas manuscript and Joseph Smith’s teachings is the Egyptian connection.

The Gnosticism (see right) which pervades Smith’s Temple doctrines and Freemasonry (see left) is mirrored in the equinox of the Gods which refers to Osiris, the brother of Isis, and Horus.
Both systems involve Gnostic symbolism.
Equally the deification of man, and the overturning of certain accepted moral values are to be found both in the teachings of Smith and the teachings of Aiwas.
The message of Aiwas, while clothed in flowing language and metaphor, was sufficiently ‘contemporary’ to be able to be presented in a series of ‘headlines’ or ‘slogans’ which Crowley would continue repeating, until the end of his life, and which would then re-emerge in the counter-culture of the Sixties.

The Equinox of the Gods was the end of one age, the Age of Osiris, the resurrected God; and the opening of the New Age of Horus, the son of Osiris.
Horus (Horos) is represented as a falcon or hawk, or as a young man, dressed in a white loincloth, with a falcon’s head.
He is the God of the sky, and is also often given Solar attributes.
Horus is not, as some commentators have suggested, a God of war.
The throne of Egypt, upon which the Pharos of the many dynasties sat, was known as the Horus Throne, the back of which took the form of a huge golden falcon, representing the power and might of Egypt and her ancient Gods.
This new age required a new morality which Aiwas carefully enunciated.
The first precept of this new age was, ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’. What thou wilt, here stands for the ‘true will’, and is not, as has often been thought, a libertine’s charter. The problem, of course, lies in establishing what is the ‘true will’, and it would perhaps make, at this point, an interesting exercise for the reader.
The second commandment of the new age is, ‘Love is he Law, Love under Will’. Often, probably wilfully, misinterpreted by both the guardians of morality, ever since Crowley penned the words, and the proponents of ‘free love’ from the sixties onwards, this commandment, too, requires greater discipline than one might imagine.
The will referred to, again. of course, is the ‘true will’, and love is the creative principle, and not simply its physical expression.
The third ‘slogan’ is not a commandment but rather an affirmation. ‘Every man and every woman is a star’.
It is interesting that Crowley published this statement at the very time that the concept of the media ‘star’ was coming to birth.
The affirmation indicates that every human being is unique, holding within themselves the vast, divine potential of the ‘true will’.
Aiwas concluded with the contention that ‘the word of Sin is Restriction’. Once again, this is a statement that can easily be misconstrued. According to Crowley it means that no restrictions should be put upon the ‘true will’.
These, then, are the instantly accessible teachings of the Aiwas manuscript.

The document, however, is long and complex, and much of it is given to prophetic pronouncements, describing the collapse of the Osirian Age in a frenzy of unimaginable bloodshed and destruction, as there is an almost Nitzschean (see right) transvaluation of values before the dawning of the new age of freedom.
Not surprisingly, the document also affirms the reality of magic, the existence of spiritual entities and the existence of the ‘Unknown Supermen’, of which Aiwas is one.
The book denies the values of equality, democracy and the existing system of morality and values, and in particular, is rabidly anti-Christian.
That, in itself, was sufficient, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, to bring public censure and condemnation upon the presumed author, Crowley.
It was not until 1909 that Crowley was willing to give the manuscript serious consideration, as by then, to the astute, the event of war, as prophesied by Aiwas, was slowly becoming a faint possibility.
As there had been no war in Europe since 1871, and peace had been accompanied by unprecedented technical and scientific progress, to the vast majority, the prophesies of ‘The Book of the Law’ were as absurd as its morality, but Crowley probably knew better.
Aiwas certainly did.

By 1912, Crowley was still searching for a way of spreading the teachings of Aiwas, and in that year he became involved with the ‘Ordo Templi Orientis’; the ‘Order of the Temple of the East’, usually known by the abbreviation OTO (see right).
In Crowley’s time the Order was headed by an eccentric German, Theodore Reuss (2) (see left).
The Order had originally be founded by Karl Kellner, who had since died, and Reuss was his successor.
Reuss visited Crowley in London in 1913, and proceeded to accuse Crowley of revealing, in his published works, the secrets of the Ninth Grade of the OTO. Crowley hastened to point out that he had not, as yet, been initiated into the ninth grade, and that therefore it would have been impossible for him to have made such revelations.

In the ensuing discussion it appeared that Crowley’s teachings about the sexual nature of some aspect of magic, which had appeared in his recent publication, ‘The Book of Lies’, exactly mirrored the rituals of the Ninth grade of the OTO.
The fact that Crowley appears to have come to an identical understanding, through his own efforts, undoubtedly points to the remarkable abilities of that much maligned individual.
Equally such an understanding might have been communicated to him from some other source, possibly Aiwas; Crowley does not say.

(2) Reuss was a journalist, music hall singer, and a member of the German Secret Service.

The upshot of Crowley’s meeting with Reuss was the establishment of a branch of the OTO in England, under Crowley’s control, while at the same time Crowley’s work became widely known and influential amongst German Occultists.
Undoubtedly, if the Great War had not intervened, Crowley would have attempted to turn the OTO into a vehicle for disseminating the ‘truth’ of the ‘Book of the Law’.
The War, however, which Crowley had long anticipated, and Aiwas had prophesied put paid the Crowley’s plans, along with plans, and the lives of many others.

Russian Interlude

Early in his life, while still studying at Cambridge, Crowley visited Russia; St Petersburg, as it is now, once again, known, which was then Russia’s capital.
He had, it appears, some rather vague and romantic notions about entering the Diplomatic Service, and thought the Russian capital might make an interesting spot from which to launch his career.
Few people would consider the city, once known as Lenningrad, with it food shortages and grey bureaucrats, as particularly romantic today.

In Crowley’s time, in 1897, however, it was the capital of a vast, mighty and mysterious Empire. Ensconced in the elegant, white and gold Winter Palace, surrounded by his inscrutable Cossack guards, was Nicholas Romanov (see left), Tsar of All the Russias, Supreme Autocrat; and around him was his glittering court, presided over by his beautiful German wife, the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna (see right), formerly princess Alix of Hesse.

The vast Empire, over which the chain smoking, indecisive Tsar (1) ruled, was made up of many races and cultures.
Germanic and Slavic peoples in the West, Moslems in the South and Mongols in the East. As for religions, there were Russian Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Moslems, Buddhists, Animists and, of course, the Jews.

The Empire was also like a veritable time machine.
In Moscow and St Petersburg one could hear all the latest gossip from Europe, in the salons of the wealthy, whilst the proletariat worked ceaselessly in the new factories, producing consumer goods on the endless production lines.
In the countryside, though, one could find serfs tied to the land, and using farming methods from the Middle Ages.
Cities like Samarkand and Bokhara still existed in a world of a ‘Thousand and One Nights’, whilst in the East the Mongol and Tartar hordes still rode the frozen Steppes, and shamans drummed themselves into oblivion.
Across this vast Empire passed commerce and armies, Imperial officials and the odd tourist, and holy men.
The ‘time warp’ that was Russia still allowed for spiritual adventurers and the merely insane to exist beside ‘normal’ society.
As Crowley, and others, have pointed out, throughout history individuals have gone away, often upon a journey, and usually into some inhabited region, and have later returned changed.
Often these people were nobodies; people with ordinary jobs, little status and average education.
On their return they may establish nations, write books, found religions or reform society.
People are captivated by them, and in some cases worship them.
Moses, Jesus, St. Paul, Mohammed and Gutama Siddhartha are just a few of the most famous examples.
Joseph Smith was alone in the woods, Madame Blavatsky travelled across the the endless Russia plains, and Crowley received enlightenment in the deserts of the Sahara.
Gregory Efimovich, ‘Rasputin’ wandered the Steppes and the cities of Russia and helped to destroy an empire.

Born sometime during the 1860s, Grigory Efimovich Rasputin (see left) was born in the village of Pokrovskoe, near Toblosk, the illiterate son of a poverty stricken peasant.
Rather than work on the land, as a serf, he became a monk.
This gave him the freedom he needed; serfs weren’t allowed to travel outside their village without their master’s permission.
During his wanderings something happened to him. He believed he had been touched and possessed by God. In retrospect, one might ask; which God ?

(1) On the day of his accession, in 1894, ‘Nicky’ confided to his brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander, that he knew nothing of the business of ruling.

Soon he developed a reputation for healing, and he became widely known as a Holy man. In the West a voracious and openly expressed sexual appetite is not the usual attribute of a man of religion, and Church of England vicars interfering with choirboys, or American Evangelists resorting to prostitutes is usually frowned upon.
Crowley’s sexual athleticism, in like mode, was responsible for much of the censure he suffered during his lifetime.
In Russia, however, a rampant sexuality was considered, by many people, to be evidence of spirituality rather than its antithesis.
In fact Gregory Efimovich’s nickname, Rasputin, means ‘dissolute one’ and was given to him as a sign of approval, rather than censure.
That Rasputin had super-natural powers is beyond dispute.
Even in the few photographs that exist of him, his eyes burn through the page in a hypnotic stare.
Apart from healing and sex he was able to consume staggering quantities of Vodka with which his fawning admirers endlessly plied him. In addition he prophesied future events, both mundane and profound.
Significantly he foretold the coming destruction of the Romanovs and the cataclysm of fire and blood which was soon to sweep Europe.
He also foretold his own down-fall.
In 1905 Rasputin arrived in St Petersburg, his reputation preceding him.
St. John of Cronstadt (see right) and the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich provided both ecclesiastical and aristocratic acceptance, and it was not long before Rasputin’s name was brought to the attention of the Tsarina.
Although the Tsarina was deeply religious, having converted from Protestantism to the Russian Orthodox Church on her marriage to Nicholas, it was not Rasputin’s religious teaching which interested her, but rather his ability to heal.

Her son, the Tsarevich, Alexis (see left), had been born with the genetic disease haemophilia. This disease, endemic among the royal families of Europe, while only effecting males, is inherited from the female side.
It is caused by a lack of the blood-clotting agent, Factor VIII, which is normally present in the body, and cause uncontrollable bleeding, often internally, which is particularly painful when occurring around the joints. While the missing chemical can now be supplied in the form of injections, at the turn of the century, its existence was unknown, and doctors were unable to successfully treat the condition. Individuals who suffered from this condition often failed to survive beyond young adulthood, and the Tsarevich’s prognosis was, therefore, poor.
Having dismissed the doctors, who were unable to treat the condition with anything other than platitudes, the Tsarina had resorted to prayer and faith-healers.
Having decided that the latest candidate, a French healer, was unable to alleviate her son’s worsening condition, the Tsarina turned to Rasputin in desperation.
Amazingly, while he was unable to completely cure the Tsarevich, he was able to control the symptoms sufficiently for the boy to begin to lead a normal life.
The Tsar and Tsarina were overjoyed.
Their son, Alexis, was well and the succession was, apparently, assured.
The Empire was safe (2).
The Tsarina’s gratitude was boundless and Rasputin could have had almost anything he desired.
Undoubtedly he did accept gifts from the Imperial family, and from the noble and the wealthy who flocked to him to be healed and to hear his teachings and prophecies, but, like a true holy man, he was not greedy, except, perhaps when it came to Vodka and sex.
(2) In 1917, with the war going badly for Russia, the Tsar was forced to abdicate.
When the Bolsheviks toppled the Kerensky Government and took power, in November of 1917, they transported the Imperial family (see right) to Ekaterinberg where the entire family was shot, in July of 1918.

The real reward he sought, like so many, was power.
Now power, or powers, he undoubtedly had; but the power he sought was the power over empires.
It was an odd weakness for an illiterate peasant, and for this reason, much to the Ochrana’s disgust, he couldn’t be ‘bought off’.
Rasputin’s teachings were not complex, although they were controversial.
His main contention was that in order to receive God’s grace it was necessary to sin and subsequently repent.
The forgiveness of God was, for Rasputin, essentially God’s mystic grace of redemption.
As most of Rasputin’s sins were those of the flesh, it is possible to see a connection between his teachings and the sexually orientated ‘magick’ of Crowley, along with Joseph Smith’s doctrine regarding ‘celestial marriage’.
Whilst Rasputin’s teachings may seem scandalous today, it should be remembered that the fringes of Russian religiosity held some unusual attitudes, including Rasputin’s doctrine, which attracted a considerable acceptance as it derived from ancient tradition, and doctrines sufficiently extreme as to espouse the wholesale castration of male devotees.
Equally the Anna-Baptists in Germany, certain Christian Gnostic, and Buddhist and Hindu sects were known to encouraged a similar attitude towards sin and repentance.

Rasputin’s other main belief was in the God given right of the Tsar to rule as supreme Autocrat, untrammelled by the interference of the Duma (see left) or any other liberal institutions.
Rasputin’s politics were not in accord with the oncoming tide of events.
Regardless of his ‘powers’ he still only had a peasant’s intellect.
He was, however, astute enough to realise that the one thing the Tsar could not risk was war.
Strangely enough, at the very moment when the Tsar was most in need of Rasputin’s advice, Rasputin was in hospital, recovering from an assassination attempt in Pokrovskoe, which had occurred at the same time as the successful attempt on the life of Franz-Ferdinand.
If Rasputin had been at his master’s side, at that time,it is unlikely that Nicholas would have instigated the mobilisation which made the Great War inevitable.
Rasputin did manage to send a telegram to his sovereign, but this was as nothing compared to his own presence.
And so war could not be averted. In such manner do the Gods use and judge those whom they ‘favour’ with their attention.
Two years into the war, unable to tolerate his interference in the affairs of state any further a group of nobles, close to the throne, assassinated Rasputin.
Undoubtedly, though, the hand of God still touched him. In the event it required arsenic sufficient to kill a dozen men to merely incapacitate him.
Panicking, his assassins shot him repeatedly yet unsuccessfully. It was only by immersing him in the freezing waters of the Neva, and finally forcing him beneath the ice, that they were able to kill him.
It was a lot of trouble to go to over a man who’s influence on history had been immense, but who was by then a superfluous character on a doomed stage.
There was another individual in Russia, at the time, who merits our attention.

George Ivanovitch Georgiades was born in Alexandropol on the Shiraki Steppe. It is open to some debate as to whether the town was in Armenia or Georgia. His father was Greek and his mother was Armenian.
Early in his childhood it was recognised that he was a boy of remarkable intelligence and ability. Although his father was a carpenter, and had little money to spare for his son’s education, the Dean of the Cathedral at Kars took the young Georgiades, now nicknamed ‘Gurdjief’, under his wing, and provided him with a first class education (3).

(3) For sometime Gurdjieff trained in a Russian Orthodox seminary with Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili (see left).
Not surprisingly, Djugashvili later changed his name to Stalin, meaning ‘steel in Russian.

Like Rasputin, Gurdjieff decided to travel.
An account of his wanderings is given in his book ‘Meetings with Remarkable Men’. According to Gurdjieff, his wanderings were on a far more epic scale than Rasputin’s.
They take in Egypt, the Sudan, Abyssinia, Palestine, Crete, Persia, Afghanistan, India, Tibet, Siberia and, of course, Europe.
Apparently, if we are to believe his written accounts, these journeys lasted for over twenty years.
One question that remains unanswered is how he was able to pass through all theses frontiers and countries so easily.
Travel at the turn of the century was not as easy or simple as it is today.
In the areas of the world where Gurdjieff was travelling there were few tourists, if any, and it was necessary to have a good reason for travelling if one wished to avoid the attentions of the local police or military.
We know that the British authorities in New Delhi, in India, maintained an intelligence dossier regarding his activities, and that in 1900 he was probably held by the Darjeeling police for questioning.
It is almost certain that he had some connection with the Ochrana, and other areas of the Imperial Russian Government, and that in this way he not only had the necessary papers, but also the finances to support such a mammoth undertaking (4).
Regardless of what the original purpose of his journeys had been, when he came back from them he was a changed man.

Whether that change had occurred in the King’s chamber of the Great Pyramid, which he too, like Crowley, had visited, or whether it occurred in the silent wastes of the Steppes or the Olympian chill of the high passes of the Himalayas, in Tibet, or perhaps in the wilderness of Sin we shall never know.
Regardless, he returned, as so many have returned, with the power to heal, to read the thoughts of others and project his own thoughts; a desire to teach, to write and a certain sense of invulnerability which afflicts almost all whom the Gods touch.
On his return he set himself up in St Petersburg but was soon forced to flee as first the War, and then the Bolshevik Revolution, disrupted the society around him.
He settled, finally, in France, at Fontainebleau.
There disciples flocked to him.
Among them was Crowley, although he didn’t stay long.
Fontainebleau was ‘not big enough for the both of them’, so Crowley left to pursue his own aims. Perhaps Gurdjieff’s most brilliant disciple was Piotr Demianovich Ouspensky, who was originally a scientist, and who, therefore, always approached Gurdjieff’s ideas from a more logical viewpoint as evidenced by his most famous work, ‘Tertium Organum’.
There has been much speculation regarding Gurdjieff’s links with German occultists.
Gurdjieff, it appears, visited Germany on a number of occasions, and after the Russian revolution considered settling there.

Through his travels in the Orient, and his links with Eastern occult organisations it is also almost certain that he had close links with Professor Karl Haushofer, the eminent Orientalist and Geopolitician.
It is, after all, odd that such an eccentric, anti-authoritarian, and ‘racially impure’ individual, living in Paris during the occupation, would have been so studiously ignored by the German authorities.
Undoubtedly Gurdjieff’s insistence on achieving an ‘awakened’ state found strong echoes in Volkisch occult circles, and in the teachings of Crowley, which were influential in Germany during the inter-war years.

(4) It is suggested by certain commentators that Gurdjieff had audiences with the Tsar, which would have put him on a par with Rasputin.

Gurdjieff’s system of thought bears little resemblance to Rasputin’s simple peasant faith.

The ‘system’ and ‘method’ which Gurdjieff taught was as complex and torturous as his books. The system quite consciously borrowed many of its ideas from Gnosticism and other ancient Near Eastern traditions, including the Essenes (5) and the Sufis (6), and although claiming to be allegorical, there are constant references, in ‘Beelzebub’s Tales’, to interplanetary travel and contacts between earth and extra terrestrial entities.

Gurdjieff also teaches of the existence of ‘higher beings’, responsible for the ordering and guiding mankind, along similar lines to the ideas proposed by Smith, Blavatsky, Bessant, Lytton, Mathers, Crowley etc.

That Gurdjieff was a man of his time is evidenced, not only by his by his concept of man being basically a machine, but also by his development of ‘sacred dances’ as an essential part of the process of ‘awakening’, which may be seen as a reflection of the then fashionable interest in movement and dance pioneered by such individuals a Diagalev (7), Nijinsky (see right) (8) and Isadora Duncan (see right) (9).

His doctrine that work brings freedom, while not being new or original, was also of the time, having its echo in the SS motto ‘Arbeit macht Frei’(see right) (10).
In many ways Gurdjieff’s teaching can be seen to be a summation or a synthesis of much that had gone before.
It is, undoubtedly, the most syncretic of all the teachings that we have so far encountered, and that is probably the very reason why Gurdjieff has had such a profound influence on intellectual and artistic thought in the present century. Its syncretic nature has, however, for many, been its downfall.
Being all things to all men it is a system, much like Theosophy, from which one may pick and choose; a sort of supermarket of the occult.
Because some of its concepts are based on little known actuality, though, it can be dangerous to shop without due care, as many have discovered.
Having survived two World Wars, Gurdjieff’s sense of invulnerability, in the end did him no good, and his reckless driving around Paris and Fontainebleau precipitated a number of near fatal crashes, which hastened his end.
On the 29th October 1949 George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff died, taking the many secrets of his strange travels, and his connections with some of the great and infamous, with him to the grave.

(5) The Essenes (see left) were a Jewish sect which arose, in the First Century BC, in response to, what they considered to be the abuse of the Jewish priesthood by the Hasmoneans, the Hellenised rulers of Palestine at that time.
Whilst claiming to be ultra-orthodox, they gradually became influenced by Greek and Near Eastern beliefs, and developed a complex syncretic theology which became one of the basis of Gnosticism and the Kabalistic traditions of the Middle Ages.

(6) An offshoot of Islam, which is strongly affected by Gnostic influences, and lays great store by personal religious experience and intuition.

(7) Sergei Pavlovich Diagilev, born in Russia in 1872, he was responsible for bringing contemporary Russian dance to the West.

He encouraged the talents of artists such as Pavlova, Nijinsky, Stravinsky and Prokofiev.

(8) Vaslav Nijinsky, born in Russia in 1888, he became the world’s greatest male dancer, branching out into choreography at the height of his career.
He was renowned for the ‘slow vault’ which gave a genuine impression of defying the laws of gravity.
At the peak of his career he suffered a ‘nervous breakdown’ and spent the remaining years of his life in the belief that he was a re-incarnation of the suffering Christ.
This disturbance abated in old age, and he died in 1950.

(9) Isadora Duncan (see right), born in 1878, in America, she was a self taught dancer who travelled to Europe and made her name in Russia, which was receptive, at the time, to new concepts of dance. She toured ceaselessly, teaching and setting up schools of dance. It was her aim to recreate the dance of Ancient Greece, which she believed would bring about spiritual renewal. She died in a freak car accident in 1927

(10) ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (see left); literally ‘work makes free’.
On the orders of SS Reich Fuhrer Heinrich Himmler this sign was placed over the gateway of all detention camps maintained by the SS.
It is strange to reflect that at one of the most critical times in world history two great world Empires were to some extent in the hands of mystics, who were not entirely themselves; men who had been infiltrated by some thing or some one. Men whose influence was abnormal and beyond the confines of accepted thought.
In Russia there was Rasputin and possibly Gurdjieff, and in Germany we find Houston Stewart Chamberlain.


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