by Isobel Blackthorn
From Goodwill to Conspiracy Theory
Alice Bailey devoted thirty years to the fulfilment of her mission to be the conduit for the latest outpouring of the Ageless Wisdom and establish a number of organizations that would help carry that mission of goodwill forward. Back in the 1920s to the late 1940s she couldn’t have known there was a nemesis growing right beside her, one that would culminate in the form of a grand conspiracy theory with her name on it.
Perhaps the seeds of the conspiracy theory were sown that day in May 1922 when she established the Lucifer Publishing Company, wisely changing the name to the Lucis Publishing Company in 1924, after she became concerned about public perception of the word “Lucifer”, especially amongst orthodox Christians. Alice Bailey was wise to make the change, but it came too late to avert the outrage of evangelical Christians who, in the 1980s, used the original name of the publishing company as a basis to their argument that Alice Bailey was possessed by the antichrist.
One leading critic writing in the 1980s is Christian activist Constance Cumbey (1944-). In The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow: The New Age Movement and the Coming Age of Barbarism, Cumbey is at pains to construe Bailey as a vulnerable victim of circumstances, confused, lonely and in despair at the time she encountered Theosophy, and not as the strong-minded intellectual that she was. However, Cumbey still sees Bailey as possessed by the Antichrist. For Cumbey, Bailey’s beliefs in God immanent and reincarnation are ‘the standard lies of the serpent of the Garden of Eden days!’ “Lucifer” might mean light bearer, but to Cumbey the word denotes pure evil.
Everything that Bailey wrote is seen by Cumbey through the lens of Lucifer. The ‘Plan’ of the ‘Spiritual Masters’ is for Cumbey not only unorthodox, but intended ‘to utterly root out people who believe in the Bible and worship God and to completely stamp out Christianity.’ Even the ‘holding the mind steady in the light’ is seen as an act of pure evil.
Unfortunately, Cumbey’s inflammatory scaremongering, while off-putting to non-evangelists, has fed the fears of a receptive audience of believers. Cumbey’s work has been widely discredited by scholars due to its conspiracy theory tone, yet her book and her ideas continue to circulate, aided by Cumbey herself, who has a strong online presence.
The views of Cumbey have become foundational and fuel the fearful hatred of evangelicals and conspiracy theorists far and wide. There are scores and possibly hundreds of websites and blogs dedicated to attacking Alice Bailey, propped up by Cumbey’s book.
Cumbey’s citing of “Lucifer” was picked up in 2001 by leading conspiracy thinker, Jim Marrs in his book Rule by Secrecy, a comprehensive exploration of ‘conspiracy truth’, involving the discovery and interpretation of the various guises of the New World Order plot. Marrs makes only this one reference to Alice Bailey, using it as evidence to support his claim that the core motive of esotericists down the ages is to convert believers to Satanism. If Bailey could have known how far reaching the consequences of this single word choice would be, she would have been kicking herself.
Some of Cumbey’s accusations draw on skewed interpretations of Bailey’s central concepts. Conspiracy thinkers have taken these interpretations and embellished them, creating a veil of disinformation around a body of work intended to foster spiritual enlightenment.
That Bailey’s work has attracted the attention of such thinking is unsurprising. There is much in her work to arouse the suspicions of conspiracy thinkers, including: The existence of a hierarchy of masters overseeing humanity; the notion of a Plan; a call for one world government; and a belief in the value of the United Nations. With these triggers, little wonder Bailey has come under their high beam, since all of these central concepts point to the workings of hidden power.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter that Bailey’s teachings have become shrouded in conspiracy thinking since those who may benefit from her insights will probably find a point of entry, and despite being regarded as the mother of the New Age movement, the bulk of humanity has never heard of her.
Generally, conspiracy thinkers are concerned with threats to national sovereignty and a desire to re-attain a sense of national and personal identity and power in a rapidly globalising world. It is easy to see how Bailey would be regarding by conspiracy thinkers as an arch enemy, since she advocated a form of one-world government.
The moment Bailey latched onto the United Nations, history was against her. Her hope was that through its auspices, the world would re-orient itself on a better course, and that her works would achieve their intention, to found a new world order. Ironically, conspiracy theorists believe wholeheartedly that she was successful.
In her book Cumbey devotes a series of appendices to Bailey’s organisations and ideas, including: World Goodwill, Triangles, the Lucis Trust, the New Group of World Servers and the Unity-in-Diversity Council, an organisation based on an ancient phrase Bailey utilised to convey an important holistic idea. Unity does not confer uniformity and diversity is not fragmentation. In Cumbey’s view, New Age conspirators are enacting the plan for a quasi-Nazi new world order set down by Bailey, largely by infiltrating the United Nations, along with government and business groups. For Cumbey, its adherents are deluded, naïve, and held by mass hypnosis and mind control.
Cumbey quotes from nine volumes of the Bailey canon, with an emphasis on The Externalisation of the Hierarchy:
‘These teachings omitted little or nothing. They ranged from the attitude of the Hierarchy towards the Jews (negative) through dietary advice. Step by step they plotted the coming “New Age”, with instructions for the institution of the necessary New World Order through the use of identifying rainbows. Plans for religious war, forced initiations, theology for the New World Religion, disarmament campaign, and elimination or sealing away of obstinate religious orthodoxies—all were covered extensively in the Alice Bailey writings.’Constance Cumbey, The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, p51.
In Cumbey’s language, Bailey adherents have followed her teachings ‘to the letter,’ the New Age utopia of Findhorn was meant to ‘anchor The Plan,’ and many followers have ‘infiltrated’ the United Nations. Having pre-determined that everything the New Age and its theosophical underpinnings stand for is coming out of that evil space, Cumbey has no choice but to condemn notions of world peace and unity, sharing and brotherly love.
Anti-Bailey conspiracy theorists tend to equate Bailey’s version of a new world order with globalisation as we know it today. In the following quote, Bailey makes an important distinction between materialism and spirituality as two pathways towards a new global world order.
‘Arguing as one ever must from the universal to the particular, it is essential that humanity relates its own mechanism to the greater mechanism through which the planetary Life functions and views his soul as an infinitesimal part of the world soul. It is necessary for him, therefore, to relate…his soul to his personality, viewing both as aspects and integral parts of the human family. This will be increasingly the case. This process is beginning to demonstrate in the steadily expanding group, national and racial consciousness which humanity is today demonstrating – a consciousness which shows as a spiritual inclusiveness or as an abnormal and wicked attempt (from the standpoint of the soul) to fuse and blend all nations into a world order, based on material issues and dominated by a material vision.’Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology p. 519.
It should be clear from the quote that Alice Bailey desired the antithesis of the very path Cumbey accuses her of advocating. Constance Cumbey is just one of Alice Bailey’s detractors. That her view has been amplified in the conspiracy theory milieu is unsurprising, yet there are few voices countering the perspective.
Isobel Blackthorn, PhD, is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the biography Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy.