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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Tuesday, March 7

manly spirituality

The gentleman pictured to the right is Manly P. Hall. To his many friends, I suppose, he was just plain Manly.

I'll wait while you regain your composure...

Too bad you were hitting off your Pepsi when you read that. Better clean up your screen. No way to warn you, really. I mean, that was the guy's actual name. All better? OK then, are we good to proceed?

So Manly here, he of the penetrating gaze, was heavy into this little number known as Rosicrucianism. That thing about Rudy Steiner and the Mars men a couple days ago (remember?) made mention of one Christian Rosenkreutz. Same thing. Rosenkreutz, Rosy Cross, Rosicrucian, get it? Evidently -- I'm still piecing it together -- Rosicrucianism has something to do with either Egyptian mummies or Indiana Jones. Possibly both.

The picture and the callout quote to its right are taken from a page -- Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine -- honoring three of the biggest spiritual soft-shoe artistes in the history of the world: M. Blavatsky, Manly Baby, and Max Heindel. Actually, that's a bit of hyperbole. True of Madame B, fo sho, but on the Big Ouija Board in the Sky, Hall and Heindel were mere bit players, however much they might rejoice in each other's purported greatness.

I'm interested, nonetheless, in Max Heindel, to whose existence I was turned on yesterday by Randy Primm (he knows much of these arcane matters; see his recent Brief History of Western Civilization, for example). Max, it seems, was hanging with Rudy S. in Germany back in 'aught-seven (according to a somewhat dubious article on Wikipedia ["Max Heindel was able to perform a valuable work for the Brothers of the Rose Cross"; oh please!]) and much overall weirdness ensued. Then he went to California and set up this Theosophical Rosicrucianarium in Oceanside, California -- just in time for ten million hippies too baked on dope -- excuse me: entheogens -- to be able to tell a subtle body from a submarine.

Anyway, in that Rosy circle jerk of mutual self-admiration, Manly introduces Max (a.k.a., Carl Louis Fredrik Grasshoff), who in turn has a go at the Madame -- at explaining her Secret Doctrine, that is.

Still with me? Nevermind. Doesn't matter. I'm writing this more for the rhythm of it than for any, you know, quotidian sublunary conceptual sort of reason. But don't lose the groove...

Another reader, Barnaby McEwan, sent me a screed by Peter Staudenmaier -- Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy -- explaining even more succinctly than Max Heindel the significance of Madame B's trip, and the takeaway Rudy took away from it. To echo Manly: "a truly beautiful gesture in a world little given, alas, to such gentle impulses."

Emphasis mine. And I quote:

Blavatsky's multi-volume magnum opus The Secret Doctrine presents an elaborate theory of "root races" that have developed over eons, identifying the currently predominant fifth root race as the "Aryan race". Much of volume two is devoted to the theme of racial evolution, racial progress, and racial decline, repeatedly emphasizing the "great differences between the intellectual capacities of races" (Secret Doctrine vol. II p. 332) and stressing the "abject and savage condition" of non-Aryan racial groups (ibid. p. 786). According to Blavatsky, "the inferior races" represent "the lowest specimens of humanity" and are saddled with "brains devoid of intellect" (ibid. pp.171,177); she held that "the lowest races of men" were merely "the senile representatives of lost archaic nations" whose extinction is "a Karmic necessity." (ibid. pp. 824-5) The Aryans, on the other hand, represent "the final adjustment of the human organism, which became perfect and symmetrical only in the Fifth Race." (ibid. p. 307)

Other leading Theosophists expanded upon this dubious premise. Annie Besant, Blavatsky's successor and Steiner's colleague within the Theosophical hierarchy, sharply contrasted the "backward, disappearing races" with the "more advanced" races, noting that the "Aryans" are progressing toward spiritual perfection while the "degraded remnants" of obsolete races decline toward a "semi-animal" state. Another of Steiner's Theosophical contemporaries, Charles Leadbeater, described the formation of "our own Aryan race" as a process of spiritual eugenics whereby "the best-developed" were chosen "by judicious selection" and protected from "any admixture with lower races", all "in order to provide fitting vehicles" for the incarnation of especially advanced souls.

The Theosophical theory of root races, which Steiner adopted wholesale into Anthroposophy, is structured around an evolutionary narrative of lost continents, astral bodies, cosmic destiny, and similarly arcane phenomena. Indeed the particulars of Steiner's root race mythology are so fantastic that they largely resist scholarly analysis. Following Blavatsky, Steiner held that a succession of five root races had arisen in the distant past: Polarians, Hyperboreans, Lemurians, Atlanteans, and Aryans. Each root race was further divided into sub-races, which also appear in succession. According to Steiner, the Aryan root-race emerged on the lost continent of Atlantis, and the Atlantean root-race was itself preceded by a still older root-race that inhabited another lost continent, Lemuria, which was destroyed thousands of years before Atlantis; non-white and indigenous communities today are the degenerate remnants of these earlier root races. The guiding thread throughout this race mythology is the motif of a small, racially advanced group progressing into the next era while the great mass of backward populations declines. In the current era, the dominant race is the Aryan race, which evolved out of a small number of specially advanced colonists from Atlantis. In Steiner's words:

We are within the great Root Race of humanity that has peopled the earth since the land on which we now live rose up out of the inundations of the ocean. Ever since the Atlantean Race began slowly to disappear, the great Aryan Race has been the dominant one on earth. If we contemplate ourselves, we here in Europe are thus the fifth Sub-Race of the great Aryan Root Race.
Ideas such as these, which were central to classical Theosophical doctrine, took on an even more sinister cast in the cultural context of late Imperial Germany and Austria.
No lie. Not to mention the role they would play in...

Great is the mind which rejoices in the greatness of other minds. Max Heindel's tribute to the memory and work of Blavatsky and her Masters is a truly beautiful gesture in a world little given, alas, to such gentle impulses.

~ Manly P. Hall