A Treatise on Cosmic Fire: A Theory of Everything

Back in the early noughties, I undertook doctoral studies in the School of Social Ecology at Western Sydney University and produced the world’s first PhD thesis on the teachings of theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Last year, peer-reviewed journal The Esoteric Quarterly encouraged me to write an article based on one of the chapters. I chose the one on cosmology.

I was keen not to simply copy and paste a thesis chapter; a PhD thesis proves the candidate worthy of calling themselves a scholar and is not necessarily reader-friendly. Even though my thesis was commended by examiners for the quality of its prose, as well as for its originality, in September 2020 I did a complete re-write of the cosmology chapter. It was a huge undertaking and a massive shift away from creative writing. Anyone who knows anything about Alice Bailey’s A Treatise on Cosmic Fire will know what I am talking about. I was amazed I could even get back into the headspace.

The article was peer-reviewed, praised, edited and proofread, and was due to be published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Esoteric Quarterly. Then it got put forward to Spring. I just heard that The Esoteric Quarterly is on hiatus. But they did format the article with their masthead. So here it is!

This article explores and evaluates Alice Bailey’s esoteric cosmology presented in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire as a mythic theory of everything, situating it alongside scientific quests for a single explanation of the universe, since in the words of esoteric scholar Olav Hammer, “one of the most striking characteristics of the Esoteric Tradition is precisely its use of contemporary science as a source of legitimacy.”

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.

Alice Bailey and the Plan

by Isobel Blackthorn

In my previous articles https://isobelblackthorn.com/alice-bailey-articles/ I’ve explored some of the roots of the Alice Bailey conspiracy theory and attempted to show how the theory is unjustified by providing a taste of the meaning and intention behind the theosophist’s thinking. Here I focus on a term that triggers alarm in the conspiracy mind, the notion of a ‘Plan’. It might be said that the entire conspiracy edifice rests on this single conceptual foundation. So contentious is this term that on the basis of it alone Bailey has been condemned to burn on the pyre of her own pages.

Out of the numerous definitions of the Plan, the most apposite can be found in Discipleship in the New Age II. ‘The Plan for this cycle…is goodwill for all men, and through all men, goodwill.’ In Bailey’s scheme, and in keeping with her own Christian faith, the task of her spiritual hierarchy is to bring about goodwill on earth in accordance with divine will. Goodwill is the hierarchy’s major thoughtform, the idea dressed up and sent out into the world in the hope that it may take hold. Goodwill is a synthesising energy; simply put, it brings people together in harmony. The Plan is ‘divine synthetic purpose’ or the Will of God.  It all sounds harmless enough, but religious fundamentalists react to the idea that anyone outside of Christ and the Bible could possible know God’s purpose.

There are more abstruse ways of defining the Plan in Bailey’s texts. She states that ‘The Plan is substance. It is essentially substantial energy. And energy is substance and nothing else.’ In such statements Bailey leaves the average reader behind, the words only meaning something for those in the know. The only way to understand esoteric thought is to stand inside it, and few are so predisposed.

In, False Dawn: The United Religions Initiative, Globalism, and the Quest for a One-World Religion, key Bailey detractor Lee Penn views the Plan as spiritual totalitarianism. Whereas Bailey had in her sights the dawning of a new global consciousness, one fundamentally humanitarian in nature and not at all despotic, which totalitarianism implies.

Of concern for Penn is Alice Bailey’s so-called disciples of Shamballa. The legend of Shamballa comes from classical Hinduism and was introduced into Western esotericism by Blavatsky. She describes it as The White Island located in Central Asia. Bailey expanded on the notion, claiming it to be the central home of her Hierarchy of Spiritual Masters, at ‘a centre in the Gobi desert…It exists in etheric matter.’ She doesn’t explain a great deal about this mythical kingdom based in Mongolia, since her primary concern is the Spiritual Hierarchy. In simple terms, Shamballa is defined as the will-to-power:

‘Shamballa’ refers to ‘the world of pure energy, of light and of directed force’

‘Shamballa is simply a word conveying the idea of a vast focal point of energies.’ 

Or ‘Shamballa is the place of purpose…[it is] a major centre of related sates and a relatively static energy.’ 

Alice A. Bailey, Discipleship in the New Age, Vol II, 293, 404 and 519.

Without making any effort to understand this concept, Penn cites Bailey’s esoteric claim that despotic leaders from Napoleon and Bismark to Hitler and Mussolini were ‘disciples of Shamballa’ and were ‘great outstanding personalities who were peculiarly sensitive to the will-to-power.’ The detached tone of these statements appears callous. On first reading it is as though Bailey condones the cruelties these men meted out. On closer scrutiny, ‘great’ and ‘outstanding’ do not mean Alice Bailey thought they were in any way ‘good’. Rather, that they stood out. She also notes Hitler was an ‘exponent of the reversed reaction to Shamballa (and consequently the evil reaction), The Rays and the Initiations, 35.

However, she does put a positive spin, from an esoteric perspective, on aspects of destruction. Outmoded forms that can no longer cope with or are suitable to incoming spiritual energies inevitably die. As a lizard grows, it sheds its old skin. Human civilisations rise and they fall. From an exoteric perspective, the detached way Bailey talks about death might be a justifiable criticism of her work. Yet her contentious statements, such as those cited by Penn, extracted and amplified as though representative of the whole eleven thousand pages of text, are rare. Should the whole corpus be thrown out as a result, or should she be regarded as at times opinionated, outspoken and perhaps prone to an over-application of her own esoteric worldview?

In much of her body of work, Bailey applies her own esoteric logic to world affairs, and her teachings should be interpreted through the lens of her basic concern for the evolution of consciousness. Bailey not only argues that all of the world’s dictators were embodying the energy of Shamballa, which manifests most potently as the destruction of outmoded forms of thought, she also acknowledges this as ‘dangerous and terrible’. (The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, 133.) Although from the point of view of a collective unfolding awareness, she argues that such destruction serves a purpose in furthering the overall Plan (global goodwill), by breaking down existing boundaries that separate communities and nations. For some, this assertion jars and anyone who has read Voltaire’s Candide might note tinges of the ‘All’s for the best in the best of all possible world’s’ response to the terrible earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755 offered by prominent philosopher and optimist Leibniz. Is it ever desirable to frame the suffering that comes with destruction in a positive light?

Alice Bailey had a very particular way of seeing the world. For her, what matters is the evolution of consciousness. In this regard, she saw the emergence of the ideologies of democracy, totalitarianism and communism as evidence of an early form of group consciousness and world awareness:

‘It is therefore surely apparent that behind all the surface turmoil and chaos so devastatingly present today in the consciousness of humanity, and behind all the fear and apprehension, the hate and separativeness, human beings are beginning to blend in themselves three states of consciousness—that of the individual, of the citizen, and of the idealist.’ 

Education in the New Age, 103.

Bailey’s statements should be considered on their own terms and understood within her overarching belief system. The Plan is the expansion of human consciousness to embrace group consciousness and is brought about through the expression of goodwill. Shamballa is concerned with the expression of spiritual will and is not the primary focus in the Bailey teachings. Both the Plan and Shamballa represent aspects of the theosophical worldview. This worldview has its roots in Neoplatonic metaphysics. It is not possible to extract either concept from this worldview and try to reach an understanding independently of this context.

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.

Alice Bailey in 1920 at Theosophical HQ Krotona

There are so few photos of Alice Bailey which is why I’m delighted to share this digitally enhanced image courtesy of Steven Chernikeeff, original photo courtesy of the Lucis Trust. The image appears in the original in my biography Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy.

This image of Alice Bailey – then Mrs Alice Evans – seated on a rustic bench in the grounds of Krotona, Hollywood, Los Angeles is delightful. She was almost forty years old and even with her hand obscuring part of her face it is easy to see how beautiful she was.

Here she is again in the same photo, this time with her future husband Foster Bailey. Both held key positions in the administration of the USA branch of the Theosophical Society, Alice as editor of The Messenger, the sectional magazine, and Foster as National Secretary.

And here seated with the couple is editor of The Theosophist Bahman Pestonji Wadia who had been sent by TS head Annie Besant to try to help sort out an ongoing organisational dispute that Alice and Foster were embroiled in. The dispute is detailed in depth in my biography, along with a possible explanation of why Alice looks so contended in the photo. She wasn’t to know what 1920 would bring.

getbook.at/AliceBaileyBiography

https://isobelblackthorn.com/alice-a-bailey-life-and-legacy/

Praise for Alice Bailey biography

I’m truly humbled by all the praise pouring in for my biography of Alice Bailey. Such kind words as these warm my heart.

“This is so much more than a very detailed biography of Alice Ann Bailey; it is also a very comprehensive review of the many interesting groups and people throughout the history of theosophical thought and the continuing impulse of the Ageless Wisdom teachings. At every turn we feel like we are on intimate terms with the lives and events of this span of time, and the overall view is awesome and inspiring.” – Gail Jolley, School for Esoteric Studies.

“Our thanks to Dr Blackthorn for her insights into the life of one of the most influential esoteric teachers of the twentieth century. As scribe for the Tibetan Master, Alice Ann Bailey provided a body of teachings unrivaled in their importance at the dawn of the Aquarian Age.” John F. Nash, PhD www.uriel.com

“A thorough documentation of Blackthorn’s years of dedicated research into Alice Bailey’s life and spiritual output. This book encapsulates the wide-ranging illumination which flowed through Bailey’s life, along with its trials and triumphs. Gaps are filled and misconceptions corrected, which have allowed many a conspiracy theory and error to proliferate. A treasure for the serious student of life in all its dimensions.” – Murray Stentiford, physicist and student of universal human spirituality

“A must-read for any Bailey student, anyone interested in the New Age movement, and for those who wonder, amidst our confused and divided world, where will it all end?“-  Steven Chernikeeff, author of Esoteric Apprentice

“A really enjoyable read! A clear light shining on a very important spiritual scribe of our age, and that to come. The inclusion of historical context gives great flavor and understanding of AAB’s challenging life, and clears up many misunderstandings of her views. An erudite explanation of living theosophy for general consumption – no mean feat!” – Brenton Phillis,  www.heartforchange.net

“As a long time student of the blue books and someone who deeply admires AAB I couldn’t have asked for a better biography. It is all I hope for and more, combining scholarship and heart. A pleasure to read. Many clues are drawn together to provide a fuller picture of AAB. New information is given. Key periods in her life are given new light – such as the Ascona period. Alice Bailey and her writings are made more accessible and put into historic and esoteric context. It is high time the myths and misconceptions about AAB and her writings be dispelled and she takes her place as one of the greatest esoteric thinkers of the 20th Century. Isobel Blackthorn has done a great service to Alice Bailey’s legacy and provided a gateway for a new generation of Alice Bailey students.” – Patrick Chouinard, theosophical scholar and teacher

“This remarkable, deeply researched book on Alice Bailey is a fascinating read for anyone who has an interest in the occult, Theosophy, the origins of the New Age movement, spirituality or the esoteric. Isobel Blackthorn has done an extraordinary job of writing an accessible biography of a unique woman whose ideas and writings have inspired generations, yet remains obscured and half-forgotten in history.” ~ Right Worshipful Master K. Crombie, 18° Freemason.

“This is a remarkable biography for its sheer scope and level of detail, placing Alice Bailey clearly amid her spiritual contemporaries. One of the many strengths of Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy is the way it enables the reader to follow the maturation of Bailey’s teachings, and to witness how through Bailey’s unique spiritual guidance, she arrived at such a large vision for humankind.”  – Maggie Hamilton, author of The Secret World of Fairies

“I don’t think you will find a more thorough and documented treatment of Bailey’s life. Extremely well researched.” Dr Lisa Love

“One of the most fascinating visionaries of the 20th century is Alice A. Bailey, often called the Mother of the New Age Movement. Although her cultural influence has been immense she is still very much vilified and even neglected by academic scholars of Western Esotericism. Hopefully this situation will change with the biography Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy by Isobel Blackthorn. She is eminently qualified for this difficult task, holding a PhD from the University of Western Sydney for her research on the texts of Alice Bailey. Blackthorn´s study is a treasure trove of new data on the life and work of Alice Bailey, The Arcane School and the many organizations and activities based on her writings. This biography is an important and ground-breaking contribution to our understanding of, not just Alice Bailey, but also the Esoteric Tradition, the third intellectual force or pillar in cultural history alongside science and religion. Isobel Blackthorn is to be commended for an excellent work of interest to all serious students of esotericism.” Håkan Blomqvist, Sweden Librarian and co-founder of Archives for the Unexplained (AFU)

“This biography details the turbulent life of Alice Bailey, the Mother of the New Age. An orphan by the age of eight, living a rigidly disciplined childhood with grandparents, a violent husband, lone parenthood, the struggle for survival, and constant ill health. Hardly a promising start for the woman who brought so much esoteric knowledge to the world through her writing and teaching. Isobel Blackthorn’s thorough research and compelling style present the polarity of experiences of Alice Bailey: admiration and antagonism, leadership and service, devotion and betrayal, and the accumulation of wisdom that underpins, without acknowledgement, much of our modern belief systems. Lovers of enlightenment and esoteric philosophy will treasure this book.” – Veronica Schwarz, author and editor.

“Isobel Blackthorn, does an excellent job of weaving the many threads of Bailey’s life and works into a cohesive, well-written and very readable biography with just the right balance of biographical details and critical discussion around the intellectual, spiritual and theosophical thoughts and tenets that emerged at different points along Bailey’s life journey. The contention around Bailey’s legacy is also addressed and will be of particular interest to specialist readers as will the author’s inclusion of a good range of photos, lists and extensive chapter notes. The book’s subject matter is not for everyone but I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in esoteric thought and/or the subjective nature of spiritual experience in general and in the contribution of Alice Bailey to New Age ideas in particular.” – Carmel Bendon, Scholar in Medieval Literature and Culture

 

Purchase on Amazon here – getbook.at/AliceBaileyBiography

Or through all good booksellers!

 

Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy acquired by Shooting Star Press

I am thrilled to announce my full biography of Alice A. Bailey has just been acquired by Shooting Star Press! 

This comes after many weeks of turbulence as the original edition released on 7 May 2020 was withdrawn from sale. The matter that caused the withdrawal has been resolved. I had thought of self-publishing but then endured a tiresome few weeks waiting for the manuscript to be properly formatted. Sometimes, such difficulties and delays have a fated feel and when Cath Brinkley of Shooting Star Press took a keen interest in my book, I felt a corner had been turned.

I couldn’t be happier. Shooting Star Press are a Canberra-based publisher who will make sure Alice A. Bailey: Life & Legacy finds its way into the hands of readers worldwide.

The new cover will be revealed next week and preorders available soon. Join my mailing list to stay in touch or my Facebook group dedicated to this remarkable woman and mother of the New Age movement.

New Release: Alice Bailey Biography

I’m delighted to announce the forthcoming full biography of Alice Bailey, to be released on Wesak 7 May 2020 thanks to my obliging publisher.
(Please note, this version of the biography is no longer for sale. A new edition is due to be published on 5 August 2020 by Shooting Star Press)

Here’s the new cover:

I have created a dedicated Facebook group for those who want to follow the story of this biography and Alice Bailey more closely.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/394500304830614/)
And here is the book page on my website – https://isobelblackthorn.com/alice-a-bailey-life-and-legacy/

ABOUT ALICE A. BAILEY: LIFE AND LEGACY

From tragic beginnings as an aristocratic orphan to becoming the mother of the New Age spiritual movement, Alice A. Bailey is one of the modern era’s most misunderstood occult figures.

Bailey’s journey is a story of faith, from orthodox Christian beginnings, through a protracted spiritual crisis, to a newfound belief in Theosophy. A mystic and a seeker, a founder of global spiritual organizations, and a surmounter of adversity, Bailey’s past is rife with injustices, myths, and misconceptions – including that she was an anti-Semite and a racist with a dark agenda.

With scandals and controversies laid bare, Bailey’s extraordinary life is revealed as a powerful, remarkable legacy.

Some background on the creation of this book

I say this is my life’s work and it really is. I was first urged to compose a biography back in 2007, a year after I was awarded my doctoral thesis at the University of Western Sydney for my comprehensive study of the Bailey books, when I scored a job with a high-powered literary agent representing Nobel prize winners and prime ministers and the like. Back in 2016, the now retired agent wrote me a rather exasperated email in response to mine saying “Isobel, I just don’t know why you won’t write a biography of Alice Bailey.” Sometimes you just have to do what you’re told. I ‘obeyed’, but the manuscript I produced lacked the sort of detail that makes for a good biography. So I transformed what I had into The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A Bailey.

As a result of that book, which serves now as a companion book to the biography, a door opened. The vital element that was missing until we met was trust. Suddenly, what seemed an impossible if essential task was made possible because of that trust.

There are so many I owe my gratitude to in the creation of this work, those who have given vital resource material willingly and bravely so that certain key moments in the story of the Bailey community post-1949 could be told. Photos have been provided, the Lucis Trust, the Agni Yoga Society and the School for Esoteric Studies provided their assistance, and a number of key individuals with certain specialisms read over chapters to make sure I had things sitting right and had not omitted anything vital. Thank you! I have mentioned you all in my acknowledgements.
I am sure more detail will arise, oversights come to light and revisions will be made – I have a very flexible publisher who will facilitate this – but for now, the moment has come and this book will be in the world sitting alongside biographies of HPB and the Roerichs and Steiner and Jung…
In the end I am left with one essential thought about Alice Bailey. She was her whole life a spiritual activist and it is that activism that so inspires me and so many others. My life has been touched and shaped by Alice and DK for many decades. What an honour now this moment is! LLP

The Unlikely Occultist Book Tour Wrap Up

When I booked a review tour for my biographical novel of Alice Bailey, it was with considerable unease. I knew few if any reviewers would have heard of the mysterious esoteric figure, which perhaps renders my novel of special interest only. That was my thinking. I was wrong. The Unlikely Occultist was very well received by all bar one reviewer, who signed up not realising what my book was about. She was very kind in saying so without hating on my offering.

As for the others, well, my hat is off to them all, not only for their considered words of praise, but for making a solid effort to read a rather dense story steeped in historical detail. I also commend Rachel’s Random Resources for yet again putting together an excellent tour.

Here are the highlights of The Unlikely Occultist book tour.

” I think if you like history and finding out more about iconic figures, then this is definitely one you should try.” https://bytheletterbookreviews.com/2019/08/20/the-unlikely-occultist-by-isobel-blackthorn-rararesources-iblackthorn/

“She is truly an inspiring lady who fought back against adversity time and again to remain true to her beliefs” https://maitaylor567291325.wordpress.com/2019/08/20/the-unlikely-occultist-isobel-blackthorn/

“An interesting and enjoyable read about a very charismatic woman who wrote more than twenty-four books on theosophical subjects.” https://eclecticreview.com/2019/08/21/the-unlikely-occultist-a-biographical-novel-of-alice-a-bailey-by-isobel-blackthorn-iblackthorn-rararesources-nonfiction-biography-isobelblackthorn/

“The combination of fact and fiction brings her name and influence to the table and perhaps even a 21st century view on the woman and her legacy.” https://cherylmmbookblog.blogspot.com/2019/08/blogtour-unlikely-occultist.html?spref=tw

“Isobel Blackthorn’s use of fiction cleverly achieves this; Alice Bailey’s name and work is brought into the mainstream rather than hidden in the shadows.” https://fromundertheduvet.co.uk/2019/08/22/book-review-the-unlikely-occultist-a-biographical-novel-of-alice-a-bailey/

“Even if you’re someone who might be tempted to dismiss spiritualism in all its various guises as ‘bunkum’, do at least give this book a chance. It’s so intelligently written that I’m sure you’ll at least see if not understand why so many people give it credence. In summary, this is a persuasively written novel that cleverly combines fact with a little fiction in order to thoroughly entertain as well as enlighten.” http://www.booksarecool.com/2019/blackthorn-fascinating-persuasive/

“I enjoy Isobel Blackthorn’s writing, so while this might not have been a book I’d normally read, the writing is beautiful and I’m glad I took a leap.” https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/blogtour-the-unlikely-occultist-isobel-blackthorn-iblackthorn-rararesources-gilbster1000-amreading-bookblogger-bookreview/

“I found myself flying through the pages and intrigued by the whole plot, so much so that I went on to learn about Alice Bailey and her real life. She was a fascinating woman and you should look her up.” Stacey https://whisperingstories.com/the-unlikely-occultist-isobel-blackthorn-book-review/

“Bailey’s life was fascinating no matter what you do or don’t believe. A writer and teacher, she was one of the first people to coin terms like ‘New Age’ and ‘The Age of Aquarius’, Bailey also claimed to have had her books dictated to her by a Tibetan Master of Wisdom – a human-like divinity steeped in Eastern esoteric religion.”  http://www.jameshartleybooks.com/a-life-of-alice-bailey/

” The author supplements the facts of Ms. Bailey’s life with well-written fictional accounts of Alice’s day-to-day life, which brings this enigmatic person to life.” https://www.jenabooks.com/sharing-a-new-book-15/

“Blackthorn has a story to tell, and she’s going to take her time with it. It’s as relaxed as it can be, and sort of moseys through the plot, allowing the reader to soak in all the information at hand. That should also be mentioned. This is a lore and information heavy novel, in its own way. If you have no idea who Bailey is, you’ll learn something, and that’s exactly the type of novel I’ve been loving of late. If that’s something you’re attracted to as well, check this out.” http://www.vainradical.co.uk/blogs/the-unlikely-occultist-book-tour-review/

“drew me in from the beginning and I instantly became connected to Alice’s world. It was such a wonderful read that I just couldn’t out it down.”https://babydollsandrazorblades.wordpress.com/2019/08/24/book-review-the-unlikely-occultist-by-isobel-blackthorn/

“this book was definite learning experience for me!” https://ktrobson.home.blog/2019/08/25/the-unlikely-occultist-by-isobel-blackthorn-review/

“I really did enjoy this and am looking forward to doing some investigating into Alice” https://curledupwithagoodbook.co.uk/blog-tour-review-the-unlikely-occultist-by-isobel-blackthorn/

” I had not heard of Alice Bailey but boy was she an interesting character! I loved finding out about her and I even found myself on online after I’d finished the book to find out more – that for me is the sign of excellent characterisation – she certainly piqued my interest!” https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/25/blogtour-bookreview-for-the-unlikely-occultist-by-isobel-blackthorn-rararesources/

“As the story proceeds, Alice’s contribution to the theosophical society is explained in detail. Her life was nothing short of a ship in a storm. It was heart-wrenching to read the hardships she went through” https://thebookdecoder.com/2019/08/26/the-unlikely-occulist-by-isobel-blackthorn/

“The Unlikely Occultist is a book for someone who loves history or when you want to be fascinated by a wonderful and stubborn lady who just wants to make the world a better place.” https://indeboekenkast.com/english-books/romans/the-unlikely-occultist/

“I really enjoyed this book, I had never heard of Alice Bailey but Isobel Blackthorn really brings her to life here.” https://thedivinewrite.wordpress.com/2019/08/26/the-unlikely-occultist/

Visit The Unlikely Occultist here

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019, for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’

Two superb reviews of The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey

The Unlikely Occultist

When I wrote The Unlikely Occultist I was more than a little apprehensive. How would a biographical novel of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey be received, both by those in the esoteric community and others unfamiliar with the terrain? Would my book be rejected and me along with it? Would general readers pass over this book in favour of another?

Relief washed through me as first one, then another reader let me know how much they loved the story I wove out of Alice Bailey’s life.

Then two reviews arrived in my inbox on two consecutive days. The first, by Swedish scholar Hakan Blomqvist is especially prized.

“It is fascinating to follow how Isobel portrays the mindset and moral attitude of Alice Bailey. Not an easy undertaking as the scenes and anecdotes presented may create new myths around a woman already a favourite among conspiracy advocates. Reality and fiction becomes blurred…Although The Unlikely Occultist can be considered as a defense or apology for Alice Bailey and esotericism, Isobel Blackthorn is no naive devotee…I highly recommend The Unlikely Occultist. I found it intensely captivating and enchanting. This work can actually function as an introduction to studies in the Esoteric Tradition and may even inspire a minor renaissance for Alice Bailey. Esotericists will be delighted by this biographical novel and if you are a librarian or archivist you will just love it.”  Hakan Blomqvist

The second review is from the Historical Novels Society and appears in the May 2019 issue of their magazine.

“Blackthorn’s book offers a fascinating portrait of a woman dismissed by mainstream thinkers and religions, a woman whose current obscurity is all the more poignant considering the grandeur of her ambitions and her hopes for a healed world.” – Misty Urban 

And that is exactly what I set out to achieve. I wanted to usher Alice Bailey back into the mainstream and afford her some dignity.

You can find out more about The Unlikely Occultist here

A photographic biography – the homes of Alice A. Bailey

Alice Bailey

Theosophist and Mother of the New Age movement, Alice Ann Bailey (1880-1949) was born into the aristocratic La Trobe-Bateman family. She was born on June 16th, 1880, in Saddleworth, UK, to Frederick Foster La Trobe-Bateman and Alice Harriet Bateman (nee Holinshed).

Holly House, Hollins Lane, Greenfield, Saddleworth.

When Alice was still a baby, her family moved to Montreal, where her father worked on an engineering project. F. Foster Bateman (1853-1889) wrote an engineer’s report for a bridge across the St Lawrence River from South Shore to St Helen’s Island to extend from and complement Victoria Bridge (mentioned in the Unfinished Autobiography). The report, dated January 18th, 1882, concerns the St Lawrence Bridge. The Jacques Cartier Bridge stands in its stead. Where the family resided while in Montreal is unknown. Alice’s sister, Lydia was born in Canada ab. 1882. The family returned to England in 1885 as Alice’s mother became ill with tuberculosis. They spent some time in Davos, Switzerland hoping her health might improve. It didn’t. Upon her mother’s death in 1886, her father became ill with the same disease. The little family lived with Alice’s grandparents at Moor Park, a mansion in Farnham, Surrey.

 

Alice’s paternal grandfather, John Frederick La Trobe-Bateman (1810-1889), purchased Moor Park in 1858 and established a hydrotherapy centre on the premises. Charles Darwin is known to have visited Moor Park for treatment in 1859 and became a frequent visitor. He worked on The Origin of the Species there. Moor Park comprises 60 acres of riverside gardens. The walled garden was created by Sir William Temple.

In 1888, Alice’s father’s condition deteriorated, and it was decided the English climate was hampering his health. In a desperate attempt to improve his symptoms, the family arranged for him and the girls to move to Pau in the French Pyrenees, a location heralded by well-known Dr Alexander Taylor as having a curative climate and waters. Shortly after their arrival, in a final bid for survival, the girls were returned to England while their father embarked on a voyage to New Zealand in the company of a nurse. He died en route near Hobart, Tasmania on 5th February 1889.

After Pau, Alice and her sister returned to Moor Park. Sadly, Alice’s grandfather passed away about six months later. Alice and Lydia were then cared for in part by their grandmother, Anne Bateman (nee Fairbairn, 1817-1894), and by their father’s sisters – Dorothy, Margaret and Agnes.

Aunt Dorothy, who married Sir Brian Barttelot, lived in Townstal Manor, in the small village of Townstal, near Dartmouth, Devon. The house appears to be that of Norton Dauney. Alas, no photos.

Agnes married civil engineer Richard Clere Parsons, who was brother of Lord Rosse. In 1881, the Parsons lived in the village of Chapel Allerton on the outskirts of Leeds, Yorkshire. There were many large houses in the village.

Alice’s favourite home was Castramont, near Gatehouse of Fleet in Scotland’s southwest. Margaret was the widow of David Maxwell, whose father, Sir William Maxwell, lived at nearby Cardoness Castle.

Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, UK. Viewed from Venniehill.

From there, the newly adult Alice La Trobe-Bateman spent time with her sister in a rented house – I am sure it was not small – in St Albans, from which they attended the various social engagements of the London season. They each then went their separate ways, Lydia north to Edinburgh to study medicine and Alice to Ireland to work for Elise Sandes’ soldiers homes, and then on to India. Her aristocratic existence was over.

The Elise Sandes’ mission continues to this day.

While in India, Alice met and fell in love with Walter Evans. They married in 1908 and moved to the United States to Cincinnati, where her Walter attended the Lane Theological Seminary. The Evans’s lived first in a boarding house near the seminary and in 1910, after their daughter, Dorothy, was born, they lived in an apartment nearby.

Once Walter was qualified, they moved to the small town of Reedley, in California’s fruit growing region. Alice and Walter were in Reedley between 1911-13. They left around the time of an influx of European migrants, including a colony of German Mennonites, whose strong traditions and values went on to give shape to Reedley’s culture. In her Unfinished Autobiography, Alice Bailey makes it plain she did not like Reedley, and while there were a number of larger middle-class residences, a lot of the town would have looked like this – a screenshot of the Episcopal church and adjoining house, which is presumably where Alice and Walter lived and their second daughter, Mildred, was born. The house is exactly as I imagined it. Visit this site for more info

Alice and Walter then moved to Fowler, another small town in California about fourteen miles west of Reedley. Fowler is still a very small town, much smaller now than Reedley. Here is the church where Walter was presumably Reverend. The little house on the right is most likely where Alice and Walter lived and Ellison was born.

Are these the steps Alice is referring to when she says Walter ‘threw her down the stairs’? For I can find not one two-storey home in Fowler!

The family then moved to Pacific Grove, and after finally ridding herself of Walter, whose family violence was extreme, Alice worked for about 2 1/2 years packing sardines in one of Monterey’s canneries. We don’t know where she lived, but we do know where she worked.

 

Pacific Grove was not all sardines. There was a thriving arts/alternative scene, and in that milieu, people had all sorts of interests. It was here that Alice discovered Theosophy.

Towards the end of 1917, Alice moved to Krotona in Beachwood Canyon, Hollywood. The site was arranged around a central Inn and set in splendid gardens. Alice and her three daughters did not live on site. Alice rented a house in nearby North Beachwood Drive.

It was here that Alice met her second husband, Foster Bailey. In 1920, the Baileys moved to New York. At first they lived in Ridgefield Park, NJ, before being gifted a long spell at Graham Phelps Stokes house on Caritas Island. Thanks to a feature by Nora Naughton published in 2016 in the Stamford Advocate, I was able to sources these photos. Alice had the upstairs room in the wing featured in the top centre photo with the two small windows looking out over the glass conservatory.

From there, around 1930 the Baileys moved to Soundview Avenue, Stamford. It is unclear who owned the house and for how long the Baileys lived there. After discovering the address on a passenger list, I took these screenshots on Google maps.

 

In England during this time, they spent months at Ospringe, near Faversham, Kent, in the home of Henry and Hilda Percy-Griffiths. It was here that Ellison and Dorothy met their husbands and wed.

This is Salmon Tower on West 42nd Street, Manhattan, the building which housed the original offices of the Lucis Trust which were on the top floor. This floor, along with the one below, were much smaller than the other floors.

In England in the late 1930s, the Baileys took up residence in a house in Broadwater Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, a street lined with leafy lime trees. Unfortunately, their base of operations was soon commandeered by the British Army for the duration of the war. The street address is unknown (to me), but the 12th corps of the British Army, led by General Montgomery, acquired a number or residences on Broadwater Down during  WWII. No. 2 – the original headquarters – and No. 32 –  the signals HQ – were both acquired in 1940. General Montgomery took up residence at No. 10 for a period of 1941. The other houses were acquired at later dates. The area is known especially for the establishment of a top-secret series of tunnels leading to an underground war bunker that were created nearby, and only discovered in 1969.

No. 32 is my pick.

Back in New York, there may be a gap in the trail between the Soundview Avenue house in Stamford and Alice’s last residence in New York, where Alice and Foster lived until Alice’s death in 1949. Alice’s daughter, Mildred, lived there too, along with a nurse. The 11th floor of the Castle village apartment complex, 140 Cabrini Boulevard, Hudson Heights. The living room overlooked the Hudson River.

Alice Bailey’s view looking out over George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River

 

This post is a work in progress and I will keep digging…If you have anything to contribute, please DM me on Twitter. @IBlackthorn

Isobel Blackthorn is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey 

References

St. Lawrence Bridge and manufacturing scheme engineer’ s report, … Bateman, F. Foster. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=aeu.ark:/13960/t03x8n71j;view=1up;seq=8

On Frederick Foster La Trobe-Bateman:  https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Frederic_Foster_La_Trobe-Bateman

On Broadwater Down and General Montgomery: https://www.blighty-at-war.net/tunbridge-wells-bunker.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/50/a2077850.shtml

Alice Bailey featured in New Dawn magazine

Alice Bailey

When I contacted New Dawn magazine requesting they review The Unlikely Occultist, my biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey, I was anticipating the usual rejection or no-reply. Instead, I received a pleasing email from the editors inviting me to compose a feature piece on Alice Bailey. I embraced the opportunity.

The Unlikely Occultist

Thanks to the talented team at New Dawn, the result is a beautifully laid out and presented feature piece on a woman who rarely gets an airing beyond her own followers. It is a joy to see my brief overview of Alice Bailey treated in this fashion, but I have received no special treatment. The whole magazine is just lovely!

New Dawn magazine

https://www.newdawnmagazine.com/product/new-dawn-special-issue-vol-13-no-2

For too long Alice Bailey has been either maligned or ignored and I think it is time the world knew just how important her body of work and her life’s mission are, influencing healing modalities, psychology, education, the ongoing campaign for world peace and the spiritual ethos at the United Nations. Through New Dawn, more will hear about her, or perhaps reconsider who she was and what she was about. For anyone wanting to know more about The Unlikely Occultist, check some reviews https://isobelblackthorn.com/the-unlikely-occultist-reviews/ or  click this link viewbook.at/Occultist