A Time of Romanticism: Finnish and Theosophical Folklore

In 1835, Elias Lönnrot compiled from Finnish and Karelian folklore, a manuscript titled “The Kalevala,” and completed it in a published 1849 version.

It was the time of Romanticism, and Wilhelm Richard Wagner. Richard Wagner’s operas invoked a sense of return to a once golden age, and the Karelian folklore, which is quoted in the beginning of Vol. II before Book II. Part I. of the Stanzas translated with Commentaries from “The Secret Book of Dzyan” in The Secret Doctrine of 1888, written by Helena Petrovna. “In it are reflected not only the manners, beliefs, superstitions, and customs of a race, but the very soul of that race” (C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917), William Sharp (1855–1905) wrote excellently, in a Critical Introduction.

Similarly, the Book of Dzyan is meant to convey the same thing as the Kalevala.

Like ‘The Kalevala’ the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan are written in prose, and translated from an ancient, although hitherto unknown language, according to its writer. It also invokes a very poetic imagery, cosmogony and mythology of Nature, concerning the Kosmos, Space, and the boundlessness of that Nature’s cyclical and evolutionary development.

Helena Petrovna claims in The Secret Doctrine, that the Stanzas, upon which The Secret Doctrine is built, are from an unknown and Archaic folio, that is said to contain secret wisdom of the world and the pre-historic past — “a digest of all the Occult Sciences.” Further, they are linked to a “Secret Book of ‘Maitreya Buddha’,” which is distinguished from his five known books.

It is in the possession of a Northern Buddhist, and trans-Himalayan school, written in a Mystery language, H.P.B. renders Sen-zar. “The Book of Dzyan (or ‘Dzan’) is utterly unknown to our Philologists, or at any rate was never heard of by them under its present name.” (The Secret Doctrine. 1888. Vol. 1., pg. xxii.) “We have now to speak of the Mystery language, that of the prehistoric races. It is not a phonetic, but a purely pictorial and symbolical tongue. It is known at present in its fulness to the very few, having become with the masses for more than 5,000 years an absolutely dead language.” (The Secret Doctrine. 1888. Vol. 2, pg. 574).

“It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its entirety, but a select number of fragments of its fundamental tenets, special attention being paid to some facts which have been seized upon by various writers, and distorted out of all resemblance to the truth.” (H.P. Blavatsky. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, Preface, p. viii., 1888.)

“The esoteric truths, presented in Mr. Sinnett’s work, had ceased to be esoteric from the moment they were made public; nor did it contain the religion of Buddha, but simply a few tenets from a hitherto hidden teaching which are now supplemented by many more, enlarged and explained in the present volumes. But even the latter, though giving out many fundamental tenets from the SECRET DOCTRINE of the East, raise but a small corner of the dark veil. For no one, not even the greatest living adept, would be permitted to, or could – even if he would – give out promiscuously, to a mocking, unbelieving world, that which has been so effectually concealed from it for long aeons and ages.” (H.P. Blavatsky. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, Introductory, p. xvii)

“Indeed, that which is given in these volumes is selected from oral, as much as from written teachings. This first instalment of the esoteric doctrines is based upon Stanzas, which are the records of a people unknown to ethnology; it is claimed that they are written in a tongue absent from the nomenclature of languages and dialects with which philology is acquainted; they are said to emanate from a source (Occultism) repudiated by science; and, finally, they are offered through an agency, incessantly discredited before the world by all those who hate unwelcome truths, or have some special hobby of their own to defend.” (H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, Introductory, p. xxxvii)

We can use texts like the Kalevala to understand the value of folklore, to understand the place of Mythology in theosophical studies. It is not a coincidence that the Kalevala appears in The Secret Doctrine. The history of this mythology and the ideas of Golden Ages, abound in cultures worldwide.


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