Popular myths and legends of antiquity were not based purely on inventive fiction from the theosophical view. Theosophists of the nineteenth-century attempted to demonstrate there are occult and scientific facts in Nature hidden in the language of symbology. They hold, that secret brotherhoods possess knowledge of man’s true primitive origins, but it clashes with science and theology, offering alternative theories. Helena P. Blavatsky is actually very aware of this.
“The keys to the Biblical miracles of old, and to the phenomena of modern days; the problems of psychology, physiology, and the many “missing links” which have so perplexed scientists, are all in the hands of secret fraternities.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1., pp. 558-59)
“There are, scattered throughout the world, a handful of thoughtful and solitary students, who pass their lives in obscurity, far from the rumors of the world, studying the great problem of the physical and spiritual universes. They have their secret records in which are preserved the fruits of the scholastic labors of the long line of recluses whose successors they are. The knowledge of their early ancestors, the sages of India, Babylonia, Nineveh, and the imperial Thebes; the legends and traditions commented upon by the masters of Solon, Pythagoras, and Plato, in the marble halls of Heliopolis and Sais; traditions which, in their days, already seemed to hardly glimmer from behind the foggy curtains of the past; — all this, and much more, is recorded on indestructible parchment, and passed with jealous care from one adept to another. We must bear in mind that authentic treatises upon ancient magic of the Chaldean and Egyptian lore are not scattered about in public libraries, and at auction sales. That such exist is nevertheless a fact.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1, pp. 557-558)
The criticisms or suspicions of Theosophy you and I could offer, have mostly been exhausted since the nineteenth-century. Since the early career of the Theosophists and the T.S., the movement has been critiqued by Spiritualists, Theologians, Scientists and Skeptics. For many, it just seems like Blavatsky is just replacing the Bible with another myth, but Blavatsky believes she is showing the original source of the doctrines, held similarly even between cultures inter-continentally, who could not syncretize or combine elements from those traditions.
Archaeologists and Scientists have tried this decade the most, to challenge ideas associated with Theosophy, or Theosophy directly, as a lesson in helping young archaeologists learn about pseudoarchaeology and pseudohistory. Theosophists seem not to reply to them, nor engage with them; and therefore can generate no controversy, or interest.
Evolution//Emanationism in Theosophy
In the Theosophical System nature evolves along three lines of evolution, and not just the physical. It is a story of emanation, of involution and evolution, and of cycles. The journey of Man and the Cosmos in Theosophy is the journey of Anu (the ultimate atom).
Expressions of terms should not be read so literally in the literature, because, e.g., even though, the lunar spirits described on later here are known as Pitris, Pitris in the Vedas are also understood to be rudimentary or subtle elements (Tanmatras, or Sanskrit: तन्मात्र); and these subtle elements have formed composite beings of varying grade and intelligence.
Alternative Theory of Human Origins
Blavatsky’s claims and commentary on the book upon which her magnum opus is based, holds that Man preceded the mammalia of this Round. Man began as an astral being, descendant from lunar deities, who are our real ancestors. H.P.B. goes so much as to remind us in her Collected Writings on Reasons for Secrecy, that it was a forbidden secret of the initiates of the mysteries, that lunar beings inhabited the moon hiding in dark valleys. These are the claims and wet-dreams of modern conspiracists, and this word here is not being used negatively.
The human species descended from primitive Intelligences consequently themselves of divine origin. Gods, born from the celestial abode, reign on earth after merging in nascent man and emerging as the first Dynasties, Kings and Rulers, teaching mankind sciences, &c. Man in their nascent genealogy were the chayyas (shadow-doubles) of pre-human types, or gods of a double nature (an astral body within an ethereal one). So, they held that man was not descendant from anthropoids, but that the ancestors of humanity are of a celestial origin. The composition of their germs were that of an ethereal and astral type. Moreover, these ancestors were “lunar Beings.” The first human stock, it teaches, were projected by higher and semi-divine Beings out of their own essences, and although they are called human, the human-type such as us evolves much later. The earlier human-types of the Root-races were not like us in form, but contained our germs or seeds, i.e., perhaps meaning the DNA (or deoxyribonucleic acid).
In the evolutionary theory, Humans did not evolve from monkeys. Humans are more closely related to modern apes than to monkeys, but we didn’t evolve from apes, either. The common ancestor in the Stanzas of Dzyan speak of a celestial origin, neither directly from the anthropoid, nor directly a creation of the Absolute Deity as in the Biblical creation account. This states, that man is not descended from the apes, but that the apes descended from an early root race [or epoch] through breeding.
This is being covered in a series called The Secret Doctrine and the Stanzas of Dzyan: Alternative Theory of Human Origins.
Questionable Occult Phenomena
Occult phenomena in the Theos. Soc. History have been contested in the past by skeptics, and these cases have included: the Cup and Saucer; Astral Bell Ringing; the “doubling” Ring; Olcott’s crystal he claimed to see visions in that was just glass; Olcott’s Cures in Ceylon by Mesmerised Water and Hand-Passing; Magnetism passed through objects like cigarettes; Table-Rapping; Raining inside rooms; Letters falling from thin-air and hidden cupboards and floor openings, &c.
The result is, that skeptics found it underwhelming, or explainable by hoax or by some mechanism of trickery. It isn’t what they found, so much as to what they just concluded, because it could be explainable by other means, than spiritualist theory.
Archaeologists have critiqued Theosophical theories, because H.P.B. and her confederates believed in lost and submerged continent theories, now replaced by the theory of plate tectonics.
These persons, such as Koot Hoomi (his ‘mystic name’ or a pseudonym found in the Puranas under a Rishi), believed in things, categorized in the pseudo-archaeology and pseudo-science bin. He was described as a Punjabi whose family settled in Kashmir, whereby he became educated in Western knowledge and fully-initiated into the knowledge of the East.
The assertions made in the The Secret Doctrine and Mahatma Papers:
- Land-masses under the name of Lemuria (sunk under the waves by earthquakes and subterranean fires);
- The continent of Atlantis was said to have been later broken into seven peninsulas or islands of the Atlantic Ocean (the Atlantic Ridge being a remnant of this continent); and
- Pre-human origins and lost civilisations of remote ages, which includes the existence of lost races of giants.
Helena Blavatsky proposed the idea in The Secret Doctrine, that root-races lived as far back as the Eocene period, and Olcott in Esoteric Buddhism stated, that the main continent of Atlantis submerged, and began in the Miocene period. At the time of the 1880’s, the Miocene period according to science was proposed to be 850,000 years, and H.P.B. proposed that the age of the Miocene period was millions of years ago, since the main continent of Atlantis perished. There existed giant Atlanteans, who perished 850,000 years ago, and their last remnant died out 11,000 years ago, she adds. The continent submergence coincided with the elevation of the Alps, and remnant pieces broken into islands sunk far into the ocean.
The Atlanteans come after the Lemurians who come first, and 700,000 years elapsed between the sinking of Lemuria (Third Epoch) and the beginnings of the Atlanteans (Fourth Epoch). What happened to Lemuria, K.H. stated, will be the fate of the British Islands and then following France, &c. When these lands reappear in the last seventh sub-race of the seventh Root race of this present humanity’s Epoch (the Fifth Root race or epoch), the lands of Lemuria and Atlantis will reappear, and very few seas will exist, with the reappearance and disappearance of land-mass.
This is all in accordance to an idea of land-mass shifting across great time and during the geological disturbances of the axis.
The earliest Paleolithic men, it is further stated, were of both Atlantean and mixed African and Atlantean stock. The Fifth root race, i.e., most of humanity today, referred to by the title of Aryan, are mostly descended from a common root ancestry, while the Dayak of Borneo, the Australoid and Capoid races are descended from Lemuro-Atlantean bloodlines. H.P.B. claims that the Lemurian epoch ended by the time of the early Eocene period, and their relics live on in some of those aborigines of the islands and continent of Australia. Scientifically, it is known that the Earth’s conditions 40 million years ago were not suitable for any human civilisation to have existed. Blavatsky gives dates that are approximations of the geological ages, and then says however, that ‘not one of the exact numbers will ever be given out, as they pertain to the Mysteries of Initiations and to the Secrets of the occult influence of Numbers’ (Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 13, pg. 306). Science has dated the Age of the Earth (Terra) to be over 4 BY. H.P.B. has stated based on Vedic astronomy — about 2 BY.
A while back, a list on the Pro and Con sources about Modern Theosophy and Helena Blavatsky were given to point to some critiques and defences of those critiques about the controversial history of the Theosophical Movement. Despite, Blavatsky offering her writings as an attempt to demonstrate a synthesis between science, religion and philosophy, writers like Arthur Lillie and Theologians have since just dismissed the Theosophical Movement. In fact, when they are discussed, which is very rare, they are dismissed or opposed.
Archaeologists, and other scientists, for the most part, consider Theosophy as only worthy of space in their topics under pseudo-science and pseudo-archaeology. However, one must say, criticism of the Theosophists are warranted, but when I observe the critique, it is dishonest and inaccurate. Take this for clear example:
“As we learned in class, the motivations for pseudoarchaeology are clear: money, fame, nationalism, religion, and romanticizing the past. We as humans prefer to have a sort of security and affirmation that we are not crazy. When certain benefits come into play, people learn to capitalize their beliefs in the most imaginative ways.
The mixture of danger and imagination plays a tragic story for the history of Theosophy. Theosophy as a belief system was actually created as a countermeasure for the popular religions of the time. In doing so, the founders of Theosophy ended up forming a new belief system which was quick to gain many followers. In separating humanity into seven root races, Theosophists formed a new explanation for racism and differential treatment based on looks. Their blatant claim that Aryans were evolved from Atlantians put the fifth race on a high pedestal of sophistication. Heinrich Himmler, as we learned in class, firmly believed in Theosophy and used the seven root races idea to help mastermind the most infamous Holocaust in History.
The founders of Theosophy had no scientific evidence to support their beliefs. They had simply taken their main principles from the other religions which they had deemed as untrue and wrong. In summation, the founders of Theosophy allowed their imaginations to cross into reality, forming a new belief system which was used and capitalized on, as an excuse for the mass murder of a certain “inferior race.” This is when the imagination can run too far and have too much freedom.” (Anthropology Class on The Dangers of Pseudoarchaeology)
“One such idea is Theosophy. Theosophists believe that no one religion is correct but rather you must combine all the ideas of religions in order to learn the Truth. (…) However, when you look deeper into this religion you see their beliefs are absurd and contain minimal historical evidence to back up their beliefs. They believe current humans have evolved from the fifth root civilization, from Atlantis. There is no archaeological evidence that leads us to believe that there ever was a continent of Atlantis. Despite the evidence backing up their beliefs there were still many people willing to follow this religions teachings. One such individual is Heinrich Himmler from the Nazi party. Himmler used his religion to justify his killing of people during the holocaust.” (Theosophy and the Nazis)
Theosophists did not form a new explanation for racism and differential treatment. This is false. The Aryans in Theosophical literature are not the same as the pure-blooded Aryan myth of the Ariosophists and National Socialists. H.P.B.† perpetually mocks the idea of categorizing peoples as superior and inferior. K.H. and M. mock the superiority-complex of the English, especially since these men are handing their philosophy in the hands of English persons who consider them “niggers” and inferior. Many other brethren, they noted, did not want to help the “Pelings” (Tib. phyi-gling, meaning outsider, foreigner, Westerner).
Theosophists, in my view, seem to have fallen into the same logic as creationists though. If Modern Theosophical orientation is supposed to be expressed as the synthesis of religion (or theology), science, and philosophy, then the modern expressors ought to adhere to the standard theosophists set. The Theos. Soc. might have much money from donations and so forth, but what of it is directed into real efforts, scientific exploration, and diddling with the experts, fringe scientists, and science celebrities on the subjects? Lamenting of scientism helps nobody. By the looks of it, they’re saying things about myths, the ancient sages, and Theosophy, but receive no direct reply. As said, our approach cannot be to set H.P.B. up as a prophet and K.H. and M. as infallibles, in whose views we adopt; and even preach, as if we knew ourselves, or made discoveries that could support it. Then, Theosophy becomes crystallized and a system of beliefs, with no evidences. This is what the archaeologists have concluded, or themselves rather, surmised.
Anyway, there should be more engagement with the scientific community, or methods.
† H.P.B. is not a religious prophet. She was not even the President of the T.S., but was secretary and co-founder who simply put forth her works, and said, ‘you may accept it or not, and I take the full blame and calumny that will come to me.’