Tag: Madame Blavatsky

An interview with me for Conscious Bridge

Back in 2014 Mark Gilbert interviewed me for an article he had in mind for Science of Mind magazine. As often happens in the world of journalism, the article didn’t appear but Mark kept the recording of our chat and he recently posted it on his Conscious Bridge website. We talked about quite a few things, so many in fact that Mark edited the interview into three parts. In the first part, posted here, I talk about my reading habits in my late teens, my introduction to the occult, and my early days playing rock and roll.

Secret Teachers Interview

Here’s a link to an interview I did recently with Chris Flisher at his Turning the Wheel website. We discuss some of the basic ideas of my new book, The Secret Teachers of the Western World, how the history of western consciousness has been informed by an often fierce rivalry between the two sides of the brain and what this has meant for the western esoteric tradition. Chris brings in the cosmic aspect, but I try to keep the conversation focussed on what is going on inside our heads and what this might mean for our future.

And if anyone feels inspired to disagree with the first review of the book on amazon, I won’t stop you. Evidently the reader was expecting something different.

And not to forget: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Secret Teachers at Reality Sandwich

My friends at the Reality Sandwich site have posted an excerpt from The Secret Teachers of the Western World. It’s the closing sections of the Introduction, where I present the main argument of the book, that the western esoteric tradition has been the victim of a “consciousness war” going on for the last four centuries, the protagonists of which are our two cerebral hemispheres.

This tradition – which we can also call the “western consciousness tradition”-  has never disappeared. It has only gone underground, and its work has been carried on by many individuals, the “secret teachers” of the book. These range from full-on esoteric figures like Madame Blavatsky and Gurdjieff, to more mainstream thinkers like William James, Henri Bergson, and Plato, the father of western philosophy. I chart the contributions these “secret teachers” and others have made to western consciousness, from the distant past of ancient Greece, to our contemporary “post-everything” world, and suggest that, although we are undoubtedly going through a time of crisis, there is no cause for despair. The very precipice we seem to be teetering on may trigger a profound and much needed shift in our consciousness and enable us, in the words of the poet W. B. Yeats, to “complete our partial mind.”

New Dawn Interview

The current issue of New Dawn magazine has an interview with me by my good friend Richard Smoley. Richard is a fine writer and his many books include The DealA Guide to Radical and Complete ForgivenessSupernatural: Writings on an Unknown HistoryForbidden Faith: The Gnostic Legacy, and Inner Christianity, probably the best book on “esoteric Christianity” available today. We cover a lot of ground, much of it devoted to my new book The Secret Teachers of the Western World, out next month.

Remarkable Men, the Fin De Siecle and Zombies

Penguin Classics has put out a new edition of Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men to which I’ve contributed an Introduction. The book was an important influence on me in my early years and remains the most readable thing Gurdjieff wrote; while recognizing the importance of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, readers of that unwieldy masterpiece will, I think, agree. So not surprisingly I am very happy to be introducing this gripping esoteric adventure story to a new generation, and perhaps reminding an older one just how remarkable both Gurdjieff and his spiritual autobiography are. (I’m not sure when or if it will be available in the US; amazon.co.uk have it listed as a Kindle edition, but the paperback should be available after February 5.) I have also contributed an essay, “New Age Fin De Siecle” to an impressive tome, The Fin-De-Siecle World, published by Routledge and edited by Michael Saler, a professor of history at UC Davis. I argue that along with its stereotyped character as a era of decadence, the fin-de-siecle also had a very positive, progressive side, in which mysticism, science, the occult, and quite a few other things came together in a remarkable blend, and that practically everything associated with today’s “new age” can be traced back to it. Some idea of the essay can be found in an earlier post “The Spirit at the Turn of the 20th Century,” which readers can find below. I’ve also contributed entries on C.G. Jung, Stan Gooch (an important paranormal investigator and theorist on human evolution) and Colin Wilson to another door-stopping work, Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies, edited by Matt Cardin, which will available later this year. I hope that anyone who hasn’t read Meetings With Remarkable Men may be encouraged to give it a try, and that readers familiar with it may feel its time for a new copy. The Fin-De-Siecle World and Ghosts, Spirits and Psychics, on the other hand, are massive academic works, and are priced beyond most readers’ budgets. But perhaps your local library or institute of higher education could be persuaded to add them to their collection. (By the way, I get no royalties from any sales, so this isn’t a plug to help pay my rent.)