From New Dawn 68 (Sept-Oct 2001)
Beneath the broad tide of human history there flow the stealthy undercurrents of the secret societies, which frequently determine in the depths the changes that take place upon the surface.
– A.E. Waite1
Have secret societies and occult brotherhoods been active behind the scenes of world events for thousands of years? Do these guardians of secret wisdom shape the growth of human consciousness and influence the destiny of nations? Are hidden masters of occult knowledge empowering and infiltrating certain political, cultural, spiritual and economic movements, in fulfilment of an ancient plan? Could it be that man’s great upheavals, wars, and revolutions, as well as his pioneering discoveries in science, literature, philosophy and the arts, are the result of a ‘hidden hand’? Can we decode history and find the mysterious interface between politics and occultism, thereby uncovering the real movers and shakers in our modern world?
The German philosopher Oswald Spengler warned of a “mighty contest” between groups of men of “immense intellect” who the “simple citizen neither observes nor comprehends.” Back in 1930 Ralph Shirley, the editor of the London Occult Review, Britain’s leading journal of esoteric sciences, endorsed “the suspicion that the ranks of occultism are secretly working for disintegration and revolution. Positive proof in the shape of a group of occultists working with this objective in view recently came under the notice of the present writer.”
Major-General Fuller, a former disciple of Aleister Crowley, who had links to British military intelligence, wrote about an insidious force using “Magic and Gold” striving “to gain world domination under an avenging Messiah as foretold by Talmud and Qabalah.” Fuller’s former chief Crowley worked as a secret agent for both Britain and Germany, although his British handlers noted his ‘unreliability’ warning he should only be used in espionage operations with the utmost care. During the First World War the German Foreign Office secretly requested the occultist Gustav Meyrink to write a novel blaming the Freemasons of France and Italy for the outbreak of war.
Madame Blavatsky believed the Catholic society of Jesuits had transferred their headquarters from the continent to England where they plotted to plunge man into passive ignorance and institute “Universal Despotism”. The founder of the Theosophical Society, a woman of immense intellect and first hand experience of secret societies, warned:
Students of Occultism should know that while the Jesuits have by their devices contrived to make the world in general, and Englishmen in particular think there is no such thing as Magic and laugh at Black Magic, these astute and wily schemers themselves hold magnetic circles and form magnetic chains by the concentration of theircollective WILL, and when they have any special object to effect or any particular and important person to influence.2
The French Revolution, one of Europe’s most important political upheavals, was largely the work of Masonic lodges dedicated to the overturning of the monarchy and an end of the established Catholic religion. In Proofs of a Conspiracy (1798), John Robison showed that the political clubs and correspondence committees during the revolution, including the famous Jacobin Club, sprang from these Masonic lodges.
The influence on history of mysticism, the occult and secret societies is generally dismissed by Western academics. Mainstream historians choose to ignore this aspect because they believe it has no real significance to world politics. In fact it is only through acknowledging the role and influence of the ‘occult underground’ that important world events can be fully understood and placed in their real historical perspective.
Atlantism Verses Eurasianism
Secret societies and the teachers of occult wisdom consistently trace their origins back to the very dawn of civilisation. Within Judeo-Christian culture, the secret schools speak of Adam, Seth, Moses and the Patriarchs as initiates of a divine wisdom carefully passed from one generation to the next. Other occult groups look back beyond ancient Egypt and the Mystery schools of Greece, to the lost continent of Atlantis. Still others trace their lineage to Sumeria or Babylon and the mysterious plains of Tartary.
Examining mankind’s myths, legends and arcane stories we encounter countless references to a vanished primordial civilisation. The brilliant French metaphysician Rene Guenon wrote of a great Hyperborean culture that flourished around the Arctic Circle and of its outposts Shambhala in the East and Atlantis in the West. Plato wrote of Atlantis, describing it as the heart of a great and powerful empire which, due to the indiscriminate mixing of “the sons of God” with “the children of men,” suffered “violent earthquakes and floods” and “disappeared beneath the sea”. According to occult tradition, Atlantis came to an end after a lengthy period of chaos and disaster brought about, in the words of Madame Blavatsky, because the “Atlantis-race became a nation of wicked magicians.” Atlantis was destroyed by a conspiracy of evil magicians who had seized control of the mighty continent.
Long before the final end of Atlantis, great migrations took place to different centres of the earth. In one legend we are told of a righteous remnant journeying from the Arctic Circle to Shambhala, in the remote fastness of Central Asia. Other legends suggest Atlantean survivors established the ancient Egyptian civilisation.
Victoria LePage, the author of one of the most comprehensive studies of Shambhala explains how Atlantis and Shambhala are more than mere geographic locations:
In folklore Atlantis and Shambhala are implicitly linked together as charismatic images of heart’s desire, two shining mirages that lie on the farthest horizon of human longing, unattainable, always receding as we reach for them; at best no more than ideal states of consciousness never realized. But their association seems to have a far more real and historically concrete basis than that. Initiatic tradition affirms they have both genuinely existed, one in the western sea, the other in the eastern mountains, as lynchpins of what was once a network of Wisdom centers located on a great power-grid extending around the globe. Further, Shambhala still exists within a framework that awaits reactivation.3
In order to identify the historical activities of secret societies we need to appreciate the origin of a most powerful idea. Occult lore speaks of Shambhala as the positive centre of the Brotherhood of Light, and Atlantis the negative centre of the evil magicians, the Brothers of the Shadow. Wherever we look we see the division of secret societies and occult endeavours into these two opposing ‘Orders’. All occult movements and teachings inevitably serve either the “Order of Eurasia” or the “Order of Atlantism”, with their respective symbolic centres of Shambhala and Atlantis. Concealed behind a multitude of different forms and represented by an array of unsuspecting agents of influence, these two centres – Shambhala and Atlantis – represent two different impulses in human evolution.
Viewed from the perspective of sacred geography, in our present historical cycle, Atlantism is the triumph of the most destructive and diabolical elements in the civilisation of the West. One modern authority on sacred geography and geopolitics observes:
Sacred geography on the basis of “space symbolism” traditionally considers the East as “the land of Spirit”, the paradise land, the land of a completeness, abundance, the Sacred “native land” in its fullest and most perfect kind. In particular, this idea is mirrored in the Bible text, where the eastern disposition of “Eden” is treated.
Precisely such understanding is peculiar also to other Abrahamic traditions (Islam and Judaism), and also to many non-Abrahamic traditions – Chinese, Hindu and Iranian. “East is the mansion of the gods”, states the sacred formula of the ancient Egyptians, and the same word “east” (“neter” in Egyptian) meant at the same time “god”. From the point of view of natural symbolism, East is the place where the sun rises, Light of the World, material symbol of Divinity and Spirit.
The West has the opposite symbolical meaning. It is the “country of death”, the “lifeless world”, the “green country” (as the ancient Egyptians called it). West is “the empire of exile”, “the pit of the rejected”, according to the expression of Islamic mystics. West is “anti-East”, the country of decay, degradation transition from the manifest to the non-manifest, from life to death, from completeness to need, etc. West is the place where the sun goes, where it “sinks down”.4
Russia & the Magical Universe
Russia, geographically the largest country on earth, occupies a unique position in the study of human history furnishing us with a window into the world of secret societies, occult teachers, and subterranean political currents.
Ideas and practices drawn from magic and the occult have always been a part of Russian life. In the sixteenth century Tsar Ivan IV consulted magicians and was aware of the occult significance of the precious stones set in his staff. His reign was the culmination of the dream of building a prophetic, religious civilisation in the Eastern Christian tradition of Byzantium. Surrounded by secret orders of apocalyptical monks, Ivan saw himself as heir to the Israelite kings and attempted to transform Russian life in accord with his magical view of reality. Ivan was convinced the Russian nation had a special mission to accomplish, nothing short of the redemption of the world.
In 1586, Tsar Boris Godunov offered the huge salary of 2000 English pounds a year, with a house and all provisions free, to John Dee, the English magus and spy master, to enter his service. Dee’s son Dr. Arthur Dee, who like his father was an alchemist and Rosicrucian, went to Moscow to work as a physician. Mikhail Romanov, the first Tsar of the Romanov dynasty, allegedly ascended the throne with the help of Dr. Arthur Dee and British agents. Before their rise to power the Romanovs were accused by their enemies of practising magic and possessing occult powers.
The legendary Count of Saint Germain, described as an alchemist, spy, industrialist, diplomat and Rosicrucian, became involved in several political intrigues in Russia and was, according Nicholas Roerich, “a member of the Himalayan brotherhood.” In 1755 he traveled throughout Eurasia to study occult teachings, and may even have visited Tibet. It is said that while studying occultism in Central Asia the Count was introduced to the secret rites of Tantric sex magic which provided him with a technique to prolong his youth. He also engaged in spying operations against the notorious British India Company. Saint Germain founded two secret societies called the Asiatic Brethren and the Knights of Light. As early as 1780 he warned Marie Antoinette that the French throne was in danger from an international conspiracy of ‘Brothers of the Shadow’. Rumours continued to circulate for many years after his alleged death that Saint Germain was still alive working behind the scenes in European politics or studying occult doctrines in Central Asia.
West Meets East
Occult powers seem to be a matter of national temperament… Russia tends to produce mages – men or women who impress by their spiritual authority; no other nation has a spiritual equivalent of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, or even of Rozanov, Merezhkovsky, Soloviev, Fedorov, Berdaev, Shestov. Certainly no other nation has come near to producing anyone like Madame Blavatsky, Gregory Rasputin or George Gurdjieff. Each is completely unique.
– Colin Wilson, The Occult
The process of synthesis of the occult traditions of East and West is seen in the work of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society and the author of the magnus opus The Secret Doctrine. Born Helena von Hahn, the daughter of a Russian military family and cousin to the future Russian Prime Minister Count Witte, she is a true emissary of the Eurasian Order. Nevill Drury says of the Russian occultist:
Her main contribution to mystical thought was the manner in which she sought to synthesise Eastern and Western philosophy and religion, thereby providing a framework for understanding universal occult teaching.5
Madame Blavatsky traveled throughout Asia and Europe, joined Garibaldi’s national revolutionary militia, fighting in the battle of Mentana, in which she was severely wounded. In the late 1870s, shortly after the publication of her first book Isis Unveiled, a compelling indictment of contemporary Western religion as spiritually bankrupt, she moved from the United States to India where the headquarters of the Theosophical Society remains until this day.
In 1891 the future Tsar Nicholas II, in the company of the mystic Eurasian scholar Prince Ukhtomsky, visited the headquarters of the Theosophical headquarters at Adyar. Prince Ukhtomsky’s description of the society is revealing:
At the insistence of H.P. Blavatsky, a Russian lady who knew and had seen much, the idea sprang up of the possibility, and even the necessity, of founding a society of theosophists, of searchers for the truth in the broadest sense of the word, for the purpose of enlisting adepts of all creeds and races, of penetrating deeper into the most secret doctrines of oriental religions, of drawing Asiatics into true spiritual communion with educated foreigners in the West, of keeping up secret relations with different high priests, ascetics, magicians, and so on.6
Madame Blavatsky wanted to unite Central Asia, India, Mongolia, Tibet and China, in order – with the involvement of Russia – to create a grand Eurasian power able to oppose British ambitions. Traveling across India Blavatsky agitated against British rule and found herself accused by the colonial authorities of being a Russian spy. Prince Ukhtomsky saw support for Eurasia in the “readiness of the Indians to group themselves under the banner of the strange northern woman.” He believed Madame Blavatsky had been forced to leave India by “the suspiciousness of the English.”
As early as 1887 H.P. Blavatsky had become a topic of debate in “mystic Petersburg” and received the prestigious support of Ukhtomsky’s friend the mysterious Tibetan Dr. Badmaev, soon to become notorious for the favour he received at the Russian imperial court and his relationship with Rasputin. Madame Blavatsky’s sister insisted that the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev had recognised the young Helena’s psychic gift, and admonished her to use her powers with discretion, as he felt sure they were given her for some higher purpose.
Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller, a scholar of comparative religion and a Gnostic Bishop, reminds us that Blavatsky,
was a true daughter of Mother Russia. Some feel that her life and character correspond strongly to the archetype of the traditional Russian wandering holy person, known as the staretz (literally ‘old one’), denoting a wandering, non-clerical ascetic, or pilgrim, who travels about the countryside, exhorting people concerning spiritual matters, sometimes in a decidedly unorthodox manner.7
After H.P. Blavatsky’s death in London in 1891, the Theosophical Society came under the firm control of the English occultists Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, a confirmed British imperialist. The Eurasian orientation given to early Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky was compromised by the influence of British Masonry and Leadbeater’s esoteric High Anglicanism. In the great struggle of the magicians the Eurasian impulse found new historical agents in the West, among them the celebrated French magus Papus.
Grand Battle of the Magicians
When the 19th century will have come to an end, one of the Brothers of Hermes will come from Asia to unite humanity again.
Papus, together with Oswald Wirth and De Guaita, dreamed of uniting occultists everywhere into a revived Rosicrucian brotherhood, an international occult order in which they hoped the Russian Empire would play a leading role as the bridge between East and West.
Papus was the pseudonym of Dr. Gerard Encausse (1865-1916), a disciple of Joseph Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1842-1910), an initiate of the French Gnostic Church and often the instigator of many of the occult groups of his time. One of the most famous turn-of-the century occultists, he was the founder of the Hermetic School in Paris, which attracted many Russian students, and directed the leading French occult review, L’Initiation. Papus was also the head of two secret societies, the L’Ordre du Martinisme and the L’Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose-Croix.
When the Russian Tsar and Tsarina visited France in 1896, it was Papus who sent them a greeting on behalf of “the French Spiritualists,” hoping that the Tsar would “immortalise his Empire by its total union with Divine Providence.” This greeting was reminiscent of the hopes of mystics at the time of Tsar Alexander I’s Holy Alliance.
Papus made his first visit to Russia in 1901 and was introduced to the Tsar. He quickly set up a lodge of his Martinist Order in St. Petersburg with the Tsar as the president of the “Unknown Superiors” who controlled it. The historian James Webb says Papus “was merely reviving a devotion to a philosophy that had flourished in Russia at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries before being suppressed.”
As the foremost student of Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, Papus knew of the key role to be played by Russia in unifying Eurasia and her occult destiny as the Empire of the End, the outward manifestation of the enigmatic power of ‘Northern Shambhala’.
Through Papus the Imperial family became acquainted with his friend and spiritual mentor Master Philippe (Nizier Anthelme Philippe). A sincere Christian mystic, he was given rank and honours by the Russian Tsar, and maintained contact with the imperial court until his death in 1905.
Papus returned to St. Petersburg in 1905 where it was rumoured he, in the presence of the Imperial couple, evoked the spirit of the Tsar’s father, Alexander III, who offered practical advise on handling a political crisis.
Both Master Philippe and Papus played an important political role at the Russian court. They not only advised the Tsar on affairs of state but maintained contact with influential Russian initiates of the Martinist Order, among them two of the Tsar’s uncles and numerous relatives. The German occultist Rudolf Steiner, who had his own disciples among the German General Staff, followed the mission of the two Frenchmen, disturbed by Papus’ “extensive influence in Russia”. A strong advocate of the alliance between France and Russia, Papus warned the Tsar of an international conspiracy aimed at world domination.
He believed that the vast Russian Empire was the only power capable of thwarting the conspiracy of the ‘Shadow Brothers’. He also urged the Tsar to prepare for the coming war with Germany, then being engineered by sinister forces in Berlin. According to one account, he promised the imperial family that, the Romanov monarchy would be protected as long as he, Papus, was alive. When the news of his death reached Alexandra in 1916, she sent a note to her husband (at the time commanding the Russian armies at the front in World War I) containing the words ‘Papus is dead, we are doomed!’8
Papus promoted his Martinist Order as a counter to the Masonic lodges which, he believed, were in the service of British imperialism and the international financial syndicates. From his papers it is known that he furnished documentation to the Russian authorities about Masonic activities in Russia and Europe. Papus condemned Freemasonry as atheistic in contrast to the esoteric Christianity of the Martinist Order. He castigated “our epoch of scepticism, adoration of material forms, so vitally in need of a frankly Christian reaction, independent of all priesthoods.” Shortly after returning from his first visit to Russia in 1901, a series of articles appeared in the French press for which Papus was largely responsible. They warned of a “hidden conspiracy” the existence of which the public was totally unaware and of the machinations of a sinister financial syndicate trying to disrupt the Franco-Russian alliance. The public is blind to the real forces of history:
It does not see that in all conflicts whether arising within or between nations, there are at the side of the apparent actors hidden movers who by their self-interested calculations make these conflicts inevitable….
Everything which happens in the confused evolution of nations is thus prepared in secret with the goal of securing the supremacy of a few men; and it is these few men, sometimes famous, sometimes unknown, who must be sought behind all public events.
Now, today, supremacy is ensured by the possession of gold. It is the financial syndicates who hold at this moment the secret threads of European politics…
A few years ago there was thus founded in Europe a financial syndicate, today all-powerful, whose supreme aim is to monopolise all the markets of the world, and which in order to facilitate its activities has to acquire political influence.
The Papus inspired articles in Echo de Paris revealed the role of the British Secret Service, which was exposed as being behind British Freemasonry, to isolate and weaken Russia. In France British agents concentrated on anti-Russian propaganda, while in Russia they used “financial trickery” to infiltrate all levels of society. Every effort was required “to preserve the Russian Emperor – so loyal and so generous – from the evils… [of ] the syndicate of financiers… which at present controls the destinies of Europe and the world.”
The Mysterious Tibetan
St. Petersburg… in 1905 was probably the mystical centre of the world.
– Colin Wilson, The Occult
Shamzaran (Pyotr) Badmaev was a Buriat Mongol who had grown up in Siberia and converted to Russian Orthodoxy with Alexander III acting as his godfather. He gained considerable influence at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Tsar granted him the title of Privy Councillor. Badmaev was renowned as a doctor of Tibetan medicine, herbalist, and healer, who treated high society patients at his fashionable ‘Oriental Medicine’ clinic in St. Petersburg. Described by a Russian historian as “one of the most mysteries personalities of the day,” and a “master of intrigue”, Badmaev enjoyed a close association with the mystic healer Rasputin.
Known as ‘the Tibetan’, Badmaev dreamed of the unification of Russia with Mongolia and Tibet. He involved himself in endless projects aimed at the creation of a great Eurasian empire. Russia’s historic mission, he believed, lay in the East, where she was destined to unite the Buddhist and Muslim peoples, as a counter to Western colonialism. Badmaev outlined his vision in a 1893 report to Tsar Alexander III entitled ‘The Tasks of Russia in the Asiatic East’. His considerable political expertise secured the support of the Mongol tribes in the Russo-Japanese War.
In a letter of 19 December 1896, Badmaev wrote to Tsar Nicholas II: “…my activities have the aim that Russia should have greater influence than other powers upon the Mongolian-Tibetan-Chinese East.” Badmaev expressed particular concern over the influence of England in the East, stating in a special memorandum:
Tibet, which – as the highest plateau of Asia – rules over the Asiatic continent, must without doubt be in the hands of Russia. By commanding this point, Russia will surely be able to make England more compliant.
Badmaev knew of the legend, popular in Mongolia, China and Tibet, about the ‘White Tsar’ who would come from the North (from ‘Northern Shambhala’) and restore the now decadent traditions of true Buddhism. He reported to Tsar Nicholas II how “Buryats, Mongols and especially lamas… were always repeating that the time had come to extend the frontiers of the White Tsar in the east….”
Badmaev had a close association with a highly placed Tibetan, the lama Agvan Dordzhiyev, the tutor and confidant of the 13th Dalai Lama. Dordzhiyev equated Russia with the coming Kingdom of Shambhala anticipated in the Kalachakra texts of Tibetan Buddhism. The lama opened the first Buddhist temple in Europe, in St. Petersburg, significantly dedicated to the Kalachakrateaching. One of the Russian artists who worked on the St. Petersburg temple was Nicholas Roerich, who had been introduced to the legend of Shambhala and Eastern thought by lama Dordzhiyev. George Gurdjieff, another man of mystery who had an impact on Western mysticism, knew Prince Ukhtomsky, Badmaev, and lama Dordzhiyev. Was Gurdjieff, accused by the British of being a Russian spy in Central Asia, a pupil of the mysterious Tibetans?
“I am training young men in two capitals – Peking and Petersburg – for further activities,” Dr. Badmaev had written to Tsar Nicholas II.
The sway of ‘the Tibetan’ reached beyond the Imperial court into the Russian intelligentsia and further still to the subterranean world of espionage and revolutionary politics. One of the intellectual movements at the time of the 1905 political upheavals was called “Mystical Anarchism”. Two of its leading exponents were the poet and writer Viacheslav Ivanov and George Chulkov, both associates of Dr. Badmaev. Chulkov, like ‘the Tibetan’, is described as an unconscious medium transmitting mysterious forces.
A radical political doctrine aimed at reconciling individual freedom and social harmony, Mystical Anarchism drew on the ideas of Friedrick Nietzsche. This is not surprising when we consider Nietzsche’s positive view of Russia as the antithesis of the decadent West, and the German philosopher’s appreciation of Buddhism and Oriental culture.
According to the historian Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, Mystical Anarchists, convinced “that unseen forces are guiding events here on earth, believed that political revolution reflected realignments in the cosmic sphere, and that a new world of freedom, beauty, and love was imminent.”
Advocating the abolition of all external authorities and all constraints on the individual – government, law, morality, social custom – they were indifferent to legal rights as merely “formal freedoms” and opposed constitutions and parliaments in favor of sobornost’. By sobornost’ they meant a free community united by love and faith whose members retain their individuality (as distinct from individualism, self-affirmation apart from or against the community)….
They grounded this ideal in their notion of the “mystical person,” the soul or the psyche, which seeks union with others and recognizes itself as a microcosm of the macrocosm, as distinct from the “empirical person,” the I or the ego, which asserts itself apart from or against others. Evoking and developing this “mystical person” would make feasible a “new organic society” united by invisible inner ties of love (eros, not agape), “mystical experience,” and sacrifice – the very opposite of liberal society, based on the social contract and mutual self-interest and characterized by rational discourse.9
Mystical Anarchism is a thoroughly Eurasian sociopolitical idea. Here we have a most arcane motif in a modern form: The great struggle of the empirical, plutocratic Western civilisation, against the mystical, sacrificial culture of Eurasia. In occult terms it is the conflict of the impulse of ‘Shambhala’ with the renegades of ‘Atlantean civilisation’. The Brotherhood of the Northern Light battling it out with the Brothers of the Shadow, external manifestation of the long war between the agents of Being and Non-Being.
Nicholas Berdyaev, Dmitri Merezhkovsky, Zenaida Hippius, Valerri Briusov, Mikhail Kuzmin, Alexandre Blok, Vasili Rozanov, along with a host of other Russian poets, writers and artists, transmitted different aspects of Mystical Anarchism and the Eurasian vision. When in the years before the Revolution the Sufi Master Inayat Khan visited Russia, he found much to commend in “the Eastern type of discipleship which is natural to the nation.”
Merezhkovsky saw the possibility of evolving a “new religious consciousness” from the two peculiarly Russian types represented by Tolstoy and Dostoievsky. Tolstoy stood for a pantheistic mysticism of the flesh, and Dostoievsky for the more ascetic spiritual values. “In this Russia the ‘Man-God’ shall be manifested to the Western world, and the ‘God-man’ for the first time to the Eastern, and shall be, for those whose thinking already reconciles both hemispheres the ‘One in Two.’”
After the Bolshevic Revolution, Blok contrasted the new Russia with the West. He called Russia the “Scythian,” i.e., the young, fresh nation whose destiny it was to challenge the decaying West:
We are the Scythians, we are the Asians… Centuries of your days are but an hour to us, Yet like obedient slaves, We’ve held a shield between two hostile races – Europe, and the Mongol hordes… From war and horror come to our open arms, The embrace of kin, Put the old sword away while there’s time, Hail us brothers… Ah, Old World, before you have perished, join our fraternal banquet.
The poet Nikolai Kliuev and his young friend Sergei Esenin featured occult images and Eurasian themes in their work. At the end of 1917 Kliuev (1887-1937), a prophet and emissary of Eurasia, wrote:
We are the host of sunbearers.
On the hub of the universe
we will erect a hundred-story, fiery house.
China and Europe, the North and the South
Will come to the chamber in a round-dance of playmates
to match together Abyss and Zenith.
Their godfather is God Himself and their Mother
Kliuev’s protege, Esenin (1895-1925), longed for the end of the old world and its replacement by a new one, and even proclaimed a new religious trend called “Aggelism,” with clear roots in Russian Gnosticism. He hailed both Christ and Gautama the Buddha as geniuses because they were men of “word and deed”. In a letter to a friend, Esenin wrote:
People, look at yourselves, did not Christs emerge from you, and can you not be Christs? Can I with will-power not be a Christ…? How absurd all our life is. It distorts us from the cradle, and instead of truly real people some kind of monster emerges.
He warned the United States, to him the symbol of all non-Russian and rationalist sources, not to commit the mistake of “unbelief” and ignore the new “message” from Russia, as the way to the new life is only through Russia. A friend wrote how Esenin and his fellow ‘Scythian’ poets wanted a “deepening of the political revolution to the social” and came to regard Russian Marxism as “coarse”. Before his death Esenin became convinced ‘evil forces’ had usurped the Revolution and the Bolshevics betrayed Russia’s mission.
The famed poet Nikolai Kliuev knew both Dr. Badmaev and Grigory Rasputin, and like the latter had been initiated into a secret school of Christian sexual mysticism with similarities to Tibetan Tantra and Indian Shivaism. “They called me a Rasputin,” Kliuev wrote in a 1918 poem. Kliuev’s spirituality was deeply rooted in the tradition of the Russian religious dissidents like the Old Believers, the Khlysty and Skoptsy, who formed a veritable subterranean river among the common people. Kliuev admitted how challenged by a Khlyst elder to “become a Christ,” he was introduced to the secret community of “Dove brethren”. With the help of “various people of secret identity”, Kliuev traveled all over Russia participating in secret rituals and imbibing the occult traditions of the Russian East.
In his poems Kliuev sought to convey the mystic spirit of Eurasia. He was a prophet of Belovodia, the name given by Russian Old Believers to the awaited earthly paradise similar to Shambhala. Kliuev envisioned a radical transformation of Russia that would bring about a classless society where peasant culture would triumph over industrialism, capitalism, and the general mechanisation of life. He expressed his concern about the dangers of soulless Western civilisation in a 1914 letter to a friend:
Every day I go into the grove – and sit there by a little chapel – and the age-old pine tree, but an inch to the sky, I think about you… I kiss your eyes and your dear heart… O, mother wilderness! Paradise of the spirit… How hateful and black seems all the so-called civilised world and what I would give, what Golgotha I would bear – so that America should not encroach upon the blue-feathered dawn… upon the fairy tale hut.
The Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev articulated the vision shared by pre-revolution Russian thinkers as well as the cultural elite, when he wrote of the end of Western rationalism and the birth of a new era of the spirit which would witness the struggle of Christ and Antichrist. He saw the popularity of mystical and occult doctrines as proof of the approach of this New Era, and called for a “new knighthood”. “Man is not a unit in the universe, forming part of an unrational machine, but a living member of an organic hierarchy, belonging to a real and living whole.” Berdyaev’s attacks on Western materialist values only reflected a view widely held by Russian society. Writing in exile in the early 1930s he observed:
Individualism, the ‘atomisation’ of society, the inordinate acquisitiveness of the world, indefinite over-population and the endlessness of people’s needs, the lack of faith, the weakening of the spiritual life, these and other are the causes which have contributed to build up that industrial capitalist system which has changed the face of human life and broken its rhythm with nature.
Journey to Shambhala
Nicholas Roerich was a man who brought glory to our [Russian] people; he is a representative of our civilisation and of its culture, one of its pillars.
– Mikhail Gorbachev
Nikolai Konstantinovitch Roerich (1874-1947) had been introduced to the idea of Shambhala while working on the construction of the first Buddhist temple ever to be built in Europe. Personally acquainted with Russia’s pre-revolution intelligentsia, Roerich became a highly respected and prolific artist. A student of Madame Blavatsky’s works, Roerich believed in the transcendent unity of religions – in the notion that one day the Buddhist, the Muslim, and the Christian would realise their separate dogmas were husks concealing the truth within. Between 1925 and 1928, Roerich undertook five remarkable expeditions through Central Asia, focusing on the mysterious region between the Urals and the Himalayas, the area regarded as the heart of Eurasia. The traditions and legends encountered by Roerich in his travels are described in the books Altai-Himalaya, Heart of Asia and Shambhala.
In the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Shambhala is the hidden land in which the teachings of the Kalachakra (‘Wheel of Time’) Tantric school are kept in their purest form. Roerich discovered that the Shambhala of Tibetan Buddhism is not too different from the legend of Belovodia preserved by Russian Christian mystics. An elder of the Old Believer sect confided to Roerich:
In distant lands, beyond the great lakes, beyond the highest mountains, is a sacred place where all truth flourishes. There one may find the supreme knowledge and the future salvation of mankind. And this place is called Belovodia, meaning the white waters.10
Nicholas Roerich wrote how on a visit to the Mongolian capital Ulan-Bator in the 1920s, he heard soldier-revolutionaries singing:
The war of Northern Shambhala.
Let us die in this war
To be reborn again
As Knights of the Ruler of Shambhala.
By ‘Northern Shambhala’ is meant Russia-Eurasia. In his book Heart of Asia, Roerich defined Shambhala not so much as a coming kingdom but an event – a new epoch for humanity of which Shambhala and Belovodia are timeless symbols:
You have noted the concept of Shambhala corresponds to the aspirations of our most serious Western scientific research…. In their striving, the Eastern disciplines of Shambhala and the best minds of the West, which do not fear to look beyond the outworn methods, are uniting.
Roerich never doubted the crucial role Russia would play in bringing together the noblest wisdom of both the East and the West. In Russia a new synthesis would emerge and a new day dawn for humanity, neither exclusively Western nor wholly Eastern, but truly Eurasian. In 1940, as the world found itself plunged into war, Roerich discerned the first glimpses of a New Era and wrote:
The Russian people have piled together great stones. To the admiration of everyone they have built no tower of Babel but a Russian tower. A Kremlin of Sun-bearers with a hundred towers!… Listen – that is the future, and how radiant it is!”
A year later in 1941 he commented:
The whole world is rushing towards Armageddon. Everyone is confused. Everyone is unsure about the future. But the Russian people have found their course and with a mighty flood are streaming towards their radiant future.
‘You Must Pay Attention to Me, In Order to See Me’
Humanity’s radiant future, like Shambhala, stands at the threshold. An invisible college of men and women in every age and nation have glimpsed it and responded to the impulse. Living in the first years of a new millennium we are witnessing the unfolding of an ancient plan. Just as there is no day without night, so too there is no authentic New Era without its counterfeit. And as the darkness must give way to the new dawn, so our present Dark Era will pass away in the great light of ‘Northern Shambhala’.
Behind the tangle of present day events the ancient battle is being concluded. “In wartime,” said the emissary of Atlantism Winston Churchill, “truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Empowered by the wicked Magicians of Atlantis, Western secret societies are in a state of occult warfare with the Order of Eurasia.
We await the arrival of the New Era of Shambhala, the casting out of the Brothers of the Shadow from the governmental and financial centres of the earth, and the end of the evil karma inherited from the darkness of Atlantis.
Alice Bailey, who described Shambhala as “the vital centre in the planetary consciousness” and related it to the Second Coming of the Christ, also prophesied Russia’s special role in bringing in the true New Era:
Out of Russia… will emerge that new and magical religion about which I have so often told you. It will be the product of the great and imminent Approach which will take place between Humanity and the Hierarchy. From these two centres of spiritual force, in which the light which ever shineth in and from the East will irradiate the West; the whole world will be flooded with the radiance of the Sun of Righteousness. I am not here referring, in connection with Russia, to the imposition of any political ideology, but to the appearance of a great and spiritual religion, which will justify the crucifixion of a great nation and which will demonstrate itself and be focused in a great and spiritual Light which will be held aloft by a vital Russian exponent of true religion – that man for whom many Russians have been looking, and who will be the justification of a most ancient prophecy.11
1. Arthur Waite, The Real History of the Rosicrucians
2. Letters of H. P. Blavatsky as quoted in The Occult Establishment by James Webb
3. Victoria Le Page, Shambhala: The Fascinating Truth Behind the Myth of Shangri-la
4. Alexander Dugin
5. Nevill Drury, Dictionary Of Mysticism And The Esoteric Traditions, 1992
6. As quoted in The Harmonious Circle by James Webb
7. Stephan A. Hoeller, “H.P. Blavatsky: Woman of Mystery and Hero of Consciousness,” The Quest, Autumn 1991
8. Stephan A. Hoeller, “Esoteric Russia”, Gnosis Magazine, No.31, Spring 1994
9. The Occult in Russian And Soviet Culture, edited by Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal
10. Nicholas Roerich, Heart of Asia
11. Alice Bailey, Prophecies by D.K.
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