November 23rd, 2005

Books!

A small book ...

You know when I mentioned that I was having to "step down" book sizes so a small-format book that I was reading wasn't going to "get lost on the shelf"? Well, When The Sun Moves Northward: The Way Of Initiation is that small book. This is one of those charming bits of Theosophical ephemera that makes you wonder how they've stayed in print so long (in this case, from 1923). It seems that this book exists to put its author, Mabel Collins', major work The Light On The Path (written in 1885) in context, if a strange sort of context. Now, I've not (that I can recall) read this latter title, so I don't know if she goes into how the book was written, but in this book she talks about reading it written on the walls of a mystic chapel on some elevated plane. Of course, having been one of Blavatsky's associates, this doesn't seem any more or less implausible than The Secret Doctrine showing up scrawled out in red or blue crayon by "the masters" while H.P.B. slept!

This book primarily suffers from the habit of classic Theosophists to try to merge genuine mystical material with a gentrified Anglican Christianity. It swings back and forth from rather stunning observations on death or spiritual purging fires, and dainty Easter-Sunday lace-gloved pieties. Perhaps this is my own bias coming to the fore, but Christianity is so antagonistic to any sort of personal interaction with the Sacred (except in terms of their twisted fairy tale), that pulling it into a spiritual exercise is a bit like insisting the seeker take two steps back for every three they move forward! Anyway, the book describes a supposed "ritual cycle" running from December through May (Christmas through Easter), but a developmental course taken over numerous incarnations. Needless to say, "your mileage my vary" on this sort of thing!

I was interested to see that Quest Books no longer has this in its active catalog (although the edition I have was only from 1987), and that used copies via Amazon are going for as much as $21.66 (cover on this was $4.75), so it may have been one of those "released to put into circulation a few key concepts" projects that is then pulled after a short period. Again, there are some really remarkable insights in this little volume, but finding them requires a lot of sifting though stale dogmatism and over-florid prose!


Visit the BTRIPP home page!