Vatican Newspaper comments on Madame Blavatsky

It notes:

Foundations of New Age "particularly clear in Blavatsky's works" 
The three objects of Theosophical Society;
"Blavatsky defended the emancipation of women"
"The Secret Doctrine of Mme Blavatsky is the wellspring of" the idea of "the figure of Lucifer as the agent of this initiation of the new age". Therefore The Secret Doctrine is (or may not be) the inspiration to "organized satanic movements", depending upon further research.

 

On May 7, 1998, the official Vatican City State newspaper,."L'Osservatore Romano", published an article, "A Key to Understand the New Age" by Teresa Osorio Goncalves in Italian. This is significant because it has been intimated that the Pope will be issuing an encyclical commenting on the New Age. Before the Pope issues an encyclical it is common practice to comment in the Vatican newspaper, "leaking" the ideas to prepare the faithful. Since this will be the first time the Pope has officially spoken on occultism this will be a particularly significant pronouncement.

Two weeks later the Vatican correspondent, Farley Clinton, of the English language Christian magazine "The Wanderer" published a brief review of the Italian article and called it "Encyclical on the New Age Might Be Coming Soon". This article indicated that Madame Blavatsky would be specifically acknowledged as the source of the New Age. Since Theosophists have long sought to have Blavatsky receive the credit that is her due, this is welcome news indeed, even if, ironically, it comes in the form of condemnation from the pope.

Because of the significance of this projected encyclical, Blavatsky Net (at www.blavatsky.net) has obtained a copy of the original and much longer article in Italian by Ms. Goncalves and translated it into English. Key observations from that article are noted above. So there we have it. Official certification from the Vatican City State newspaper, though sometimes indirectly expressed, that Madame Blavatsky is effectively the founder of the new age. (But bear in mind an encyclical, which has yet to be issued, ordinarily is not an infallible document and does not carry the weight of an ex cathedra statement.)

The translation of the Italian article into English is given below. While some may quarrel with some points, the lengthy description of the New Age by Goncalves is, in our opinion, at least a mostly rational attempt at analyis without namecalling or vituperation. The metaphysical views presented by Blavatsky and absorbed into the new age, do indeed differ from those of orthodox Christianity as correctly indicated in the article. Blavatsky should indeed be credited, as the article asserts, with establishing the feminist movement in its desire for equality. And we agree completely with concluding paragraph. (You may like it too.) And we are glad to see the objects of the Theosophical movement observed by the Roman Observer.

As for the misinformed and desparate attempt in some Catholic circles to relate satanism with Blavatsky through her understanding of Lucifer (a really horrible error), this can be corrected by noting Blavatsky's articles "What's in a Name" and the more detailed article "History of a Planet".

Also you may also wish to see "Why Christianity Must Change or Die". This is our best selection for a book representing an acute example of the issue facing the Pope.

In the article below we have added BOLD and other typographical effects for your convenience.

Reed Carson

And here is the article:


A Key to Understand the New Age

by Teresa Osorio Goncalves

Whoever approaches the diverse cultural, religious, therapeutic, artistic expressions that use the "New Age" or "Age of Aquarius" symbol with the intention of gathering that which unifies them can feel a sense of bewilderment, as if having entered a labyrinth. There doesn't exist a unified center nor a unique inspiring center that nevertheless presents a familiar air and has common public promotional expression, connected by a complex network of global dimensions.

As point of departure, we can define the New Age as a cultural trend, rooted in the western esotericism of the 19th century and made popular in the second half of the 20th century, which presents itself under the mythological astrological sign of Aquarius. The central idea, writes Jean Veruette, is that at the eve of the year 2000, humanity is about to enter into a new era, gripped by a spiritual consciousness at the planetary level of harmony and light. The second coming of Christ, is about to be realized, as is being maintained by a few, and whose energies would already be in action among us, within the manifold spiritual research, and the numerous religious groups.

Roots


The expressions "New Age" or "Age of Aquarius" come out of the European and American esoteric environment from the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, where the scientific ideas of evolutionism were applied to the psychological and spiritual story of humanity fueled the expectation for a radical change. Astrological speculations contributed to corroborate this expectation.

One of the seminal books is L'Ere du Verseau, published in 1937 from the French esoterocist Paul Le Cour. Based upon ancient astrological theories, according to him, the sun would accordingly change zodiacal sign approximately every 2169 years. Le Cour had maintained that the Age of Pisces was about to finish having been initiated on the 21 of March of the common Christian era and that the sun was about to enter the sign of Aquarius. During the era of Pisces it was characterized by great restrictions, and innumerable wars. The age of Aquarius will be distinctly different by the abundance, symbolized by the mythic figure of the water bearer, the young Ganimede who spills water by tilting an urn.

In order to understand the cultural movement that was defined later between the years 1960 and 1980, it is necessary therefore to look at its essential matrix, that we find in the traditional esoteric-theosophy diffused in the intellectual European environment of the 18th to 19th century and especially in the cultural circles of masons, of spiritualism, of occultism, of theosophy. These circles shared a form of esoteric culture, defined (according to the French specialist Antoine Favre {A. Favre, Access to Western Esotericism, Sunny Press, Albany, 1994 pp. 10-15}) with these elements:

  • -the visible and invisible universe is connected by a series of correspondences, of analogies, of microcosmic and macrocosmic influences, through metals and plants, through these and various parts of the human body, through the cosmos that is seen and those invisible levels of that reality.
  • -nature is a vibrant being, crossed by networks of sympathy and antipathy, animated by a light and an occult fire that Man seeks to control.
  • -through the imagination, which is an organ of the spirit, Man can enter into contact with the superior or inferior world resorting to mediators (angelic, spiritual, demonic) or to ritual;
  • -it is proposed to Man a spiritual itinerary of transformation, that will initiate him into mysteries of the Cosmos, of God and the proper being, making him arrive at the gnosis (knowledge), the most high consciousness, that coincides with salvation.
  • -there is a search for a philosopical tradition (perennial philosophy) and a religion (primordial theology) previous and superior to all the philosophical and religious traditions of humanity, a "secret doctrine" key of all the "esoteric" traditions, that are open to all;
  • -the transmission of esoteric teachings is given from master to disciple through a progressive initiation.

According to the studious Dutchman Hanegraaff, the esotericism of the 19th century is a "secularized" esotericism: having integrated the traditional esotericism (that was expressed in alchemy, in "magic," in astrology), which underlined the importance of a personal religious experience and which searched for a unified vision of the universe, with aspects of the modern culture: the scientific research of the laws of causuality, evolution, new psychology, and study of religions (W.J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture. Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Brill, Leiden-New York-Koln 1996, pp. 411-524).

This integration is particularly clear in the works by Madame Blavatsky, a Russian "medium" who founded, with the American spiritualist Henry Olcott, the Theosophical Society (New York 1875), in the attempt to establish together into one evolutionary spiritualism the traditions of the Orient with the Western. The Theosophical Society had a threefold objective:

  • to form a nucleus of a human fraternity, without distinction of race, religion, caste or color (rejecting traditional Christianity as sectarian and intolerant);
  • encourage the study of comparative religion, of philosophy and of science to arrive at a "primordial tradition"
  • investigate the unexplainable laws of nature and the latent powers in man.

In her works Madam Blavatsky defends emancipation of women attacking the omnipotence of "masculine-God" of Israel, of Christians and of Muslims. And proposes a return to the Hindu religion with its cult of the mother goddess and the practice of feminine virtue. The feminist action will be continued by the Theosophical Society under the guidance of Annie Besant, who was the vanguard of the feminist movement.

A few other organizations derived from the Theosophical Society have reconciled esotericism and Christianity, following the road already opened in the 18th century by Emanuel Swedenborg. Through them the Liberal Catholic Church of C.W. Leadbeater and J.I. Wedgewood, The Arcane School of Alice Bailey, Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner.

Constitute (New Age) as a Cultural Movement
As a mass cultural movement the New Age had taken form and visibility during the years of 1960-1980 in two centers inspired by the Theosophical Society; the utopian community of Findhorn in Scotland, and the institute for the development of human potential in Esalen, California.

It had taken as insignia, as we have said, the astrological myth of Aquarius. Initially limited to the environment of astrology, explains Massimo Introvigne (M. Introvigne, Mille e non piu di mille. Millenarismo e nuove religioni alle soglie del Duemila, Garibaldi, Miloano 1995, p. 206) this myth became popular in the United States during the 60's, in the youth millieu of the counter-culture and was introduced to the young throughout the world in 1968 by the musical "Hair" whose songs lauded the Age of Aquarius. It was the period of student revolts that promised a future radically changed. After the inevitable disillusions many young people have now turned to the rediscovery of oriental mysticism and occultism, when not turned to drugs, cutoff and toward a world totally different.

In 1980 an American journalist Marilyn Ferguson, who had conducted research on the movement of the human potential, contributed to the diffusion of this way of thinking beyond the realm of the youth counter-culture, by publishing the book "The Aquarian Conspiracy. Personal and Social Transformation" in the 1980's. The principle theme of this book is that humanity finds itself at the threshold of a great change, of a silent revolution, operated by an increasing number of individuals who- thanks to personal transformation- are contributing to realize a new society. The author passes in review different cultural camps - psychological, religious, educational, work, medicinal, political- to individualize the precursor signs and effect of such a change. And tries to rouse the awareness of a "conspiracy" (in the etymological sense of "breathing together") to which can be attributed all that everyone wishes to put forward, joining together, the new "paradigm" , the new vision of reality. With the term Aquarius there aren't any specific speculations made: "it is just a symbol," says M. Ferguson, "taken from the popular American culture in order to express the expectation of a new age."

Diffusion


The diffusion of this idea was rapid even at an international level. According to the American specialist Gordon Melton (J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia, Gale Research Inc., Detroit 1990, p. XXVI), when in the United States the idea of a New Age of Aquarius was proposed, the "occult-metaphysics" community consisting of hundreds of magic-esoteric groups, received with enthusiasm this prospective. The support given from spiritual groups, theosophical, explains the speed of the diffusion of this new paradigm. Not lacking later signals of interest from the masonic world, especially in its version of occultism, that aspires to the development of occult powers of the human mind or of man, because then he reaches his perfection completely.

Another essential factor for this diffusion, according to the same author, was the formation of "networks" on a global level through groups interested in "global transformation" (financed by patrons of the esoteric world). In this manner a community has been created between "prophets" and small groups and the imagination of a growing movement has been developed, capable of permeating throughout the society with circles of veritable supporters. This manner of communication has permitted the interchange between adherents and other people and groups that share one or many of the ideas of the New Age (peace, ecology, feminism, holistic medicine, interreligious mysiticism), (Ibid, p. 316). In a short time, commercial circles and the mass-media have become interested in addition.

Comparing along general lines the current culture as it defined itself in the years 1960- 1980 with the philosophy of the Theosophical Society, the studious Frenchwoman Francoise Champion finds the following differences: the hope in new times, associated to the Age of Aquarius, the research, of not only a personal perfection, but of a social transformation; a syncretic belief that is not limited to the oriental culture and to western occultism, but refers itself to all the religious and esoteric traditions and to theories and speculation in the arena of psychology, of science, of alternative medicine, of the paranormal; the mitigation of the frontiers between the religious and non-religious; the "democratic" aspiration with the rejection of the "masters" and the creation of a more fluid joining form like the "networks" (F. Champion, Le Nouvel-Age: recomposition ou decomposition de la tradition "theo-spiritualiste'?, in Politica Hermetica n.7, 1993, pp.118).

Can we say that the New Age movement continues alive and in expansion in these last years of the 20th century? According to some American experts it seems that in this continent it could have already lost much of its fascination, while in other areas it is still in expansion. But it would be more just to consider that it has lost something like myth, as an aggregate utopia, while it continues in expansion the esoteric trend to which it has given publicity and vigor and this is at a cultural level and at a commercial level. There are those that search to remedy the attrition of the New Age banner by creating a new terminology "The Next Age"....

Central Ideas of the New Age.
Since the New Age is a common label to a great diversity of movements, its not easy to define its doctrine. Nevertheless, having a common cultural matrix, we find a few central ideas, characterized by esoteric thoughts. How we have defined it:

  • -the cosmos is seen as completely organic;
  • -it is animated by Energy, that coincides with the divine spirit;
  • -believes in mediation by diverse spiritual entities;
  • -believes in the ascent of human beings to the higher invisible sphere and in the capacity to control one's life beyond death;
  • -believes in a "perennial wisdom" anterior and superior to all the cultures and religions;
  • -follows illuminated masters

In a method a bit more detailed, we can describe the New Age from the point of view of science, of psychology, of religion or spiritualism, of its project on man and on the society.

a) From the point of view of science?
As Piersandro Vanzan writes (P. Vanzan, Contestualizzazione socioculturale e discernimento teologico-pastorale del New Age, in E. Fizzoti, {ed.}, La dolce seduzione dell"Acquario, Las, Roma 1996, pp. 87-88), the New Age properly facilitates the mutation of "paradigms" that have occurred in modern science. In fact physics has passed the "mechanistic" model of classical physics of Newton - according which the universe is an immense machine in which its elements, integrating the one with the other, maintain themselves in equilibrium and in the same way they maintain the movement of the universe- to the "holistic" (global) model of modern physics, atomic and subatomic, according to which matter does not consist of particles, but of waves and energy.

The universe is therefore, for the New Age, an "ocean of energy", that is considered, not in a mechanistic manner, but as a whole, a totality, a network of joinings. The universe (God-Man-Cosmos) is a unified organism, alive with a body and a soul (the energy coincided with the spirit). As one digs further in the direction of the roots of reality, the more one finds that all is unified and is simplified. God and the world, spirit and matter, soul and body, intelligence and sense, heaven and earth are an immense energetic vibration in which everything is connected.

b) From the point of view of psychology?
As a way to expand awareness, one resorts to the technique of transpersonal psychology and seeks to provoke a "mystical" experience. For example, through the practice of yoga, and of Zen, of transcendental meditation, or in the exercises derived from tantric Buddhism, one tries to arrive at an experience of realization of Self or of illumination. Also through "peak experiences": reliving the process of birth, "rebirth," travleing to the portals of death, submitting oneself to electrical stimulation "biofeedback", or still with the dance or with drugs. Everything that can provoke an "altered state of consciousness" is considered useful in order to arrive at a spiritual experience of unity and of illumination.

A particular way is the one of "channeling" since all humanity is part of one Mind, they can girate like channels toward the other superior beings; each one part of the one being can approach the rest of itself.

c) From the point of view of religion?
Although a few proponents of the New Age like Alice Bailey see it as the beginning of a new world religion, others avoid proposing it as a "religion," terminology that they consider closely tied to institutions and dogmas. For them it is essentially a treatment of a "new spiritualism." New, even if many of its ideas were taken from ancient religions and cultures, the novelty resides perhaps in the conscious research of an alternative vision to that of a Judeo-Christian religion and of a western culture which inspired it. Spirituality conceived as an interior experience of harmony and unity with all reality, heals Man from every sense of imperfection and limit. Man discovers that he is intimately joined to the Force and universal Energy which is sacred and is at the origin of every life. Making this discovery, a road is opened to him of perfection in order to organize his personal life and his rapport with the world, finding his place in the universal creation and contributing, as co-creator, for a new genesis.

One arrives then (as Mons. Carlo Maccari writes {A. Maccari, La 'misitca cosmica" del New Age, in Religione e Sette nel mondo, 1996/2, pp.16-36}), at a cosmic mysticism, based on the awareness of a throbbing universe of dynamic energy. Energy cosmic- vibrational-light-God love - or also the superior Self - are expressions of the same reality, at the same time primordial fountain and immanent presence for every being.

One could distinguish, to characterize this spirituality, a metaphysical component and another psychology. The first originates from esoteric-theosophical roots and is configured as a new form of gnosis. The approach to the divine is accomplished via an understanding of the hidden mysteries, in a research - as Jean Vernette says (J. Vernette, L'avventura spirituale dei figli dell-acquario, in Religione e Sette nel mondo, 1996/2, pp. 42-43)- "of the Real behind the apparent, of the Origin behind time, of the Transcendental behind the temporal, of the primordial tradition behind ephemeral tradition, of the Other instead of the ego, of the cosmic Divine spark instead of the individual incarnation." Spiritual esoterica, this author adds, "is an inquiry into the Being beyond life from the separate beings, as a nostalgia of the lost Unity."

The psychological component comes from the encounter of the esoteric culture with psychological research. On this basis the New Age becomes a transpersonal experience a "psycospiritual" (considered analogous to a religious experience). For a few this transformation occurs in the form of a profound mystical experience, after a personal crisis or a long spiritual search. For others the transformation comes from the use of meditative or therapeutic techniques or from a paranormal experience that allows them to sense intuitively the unity of reality.

d) What is the plan for man?
At the base of this current culture one finds therefore the research of perfection and the exaltation of man. One comes to think of the superman announced by Nietzche at the end of the 19th century. For this philosopher, who accused Christianity of hindering the manifestation of the real dimensions of man, perfection consists in the "I" taken to the fullest, according to orders of values that man himself creates and realizes thanks to his own proper willpower: an "I" that is autocreative.

In many expressions of the New Age, one finds an analogous credo. According to some visionaries - says Claude Labrecque (C. Labrecque, Une religion americaine. Pistes de discernement chretien sur les courants populaires du "Nouvel Age", Mediaspaul, Montreal 1994, p13) -the differences between the actual human and the human that will successfully realize his full potential, both in physical and psychological capacity, will be much broader than that existing between the actual human of today and the anthropoid. So it is proposed the exploration of all ways that permit man to auto-transcend himself.

We can here distinguish between the esoteric path - of which we have spoken - which is essentially a research of awareness, and the path of magic or occult, which is above all a research of powers, in which man feels himself as a demiurgo capable of controlling the world with superior forces and obtaining the benefits he wishes. But these two motivations, the research for knowledge and that of power, are found often associated, like the theory to the practice, for which many groups are simultaneously esoteric and occultist.

At the center of occultism we observe a will of power guided by the dream diviniation. Many techniques used to expand consciousness have the scope, known after a long initiation, of revealing to man the divine power that he possesses, that is exercised to prepare the way for the Age of Illumination.

What kind of illumination is meant? Without wanting to generalize everything to "New Age" we cannot ignore the speculations that the exponents of this trend (like Alice Bailey, David Spangler, Benjamin Crème) on the figure of Lucifer as the agent of this initiation of the "new age" (a few texts of these authors are cited in the document of the Theological Commision of the Irish Episcopate A New Age of the Spirit? A Catholic Response to the New Age Phenomenon, Veritas, Dublin 1994, pp. 33-37. In the same document it is indicated that the "Secret Doctrine" of Mme Blavatsky is the wellspring of such an idea). As to these speculations being the inspiration to organized satanic movements or that certain expressions of the modern culture apply above all to the young, is an arena that requires further research.

e) What social transformation?
Reflecting on the social fruits of the esoteric culture as publicized by the New Age, we see that the myth of the super-man continues to inspire political movements and alternative unions of the right and extreme right. But it is also present in scientific vestments, for example in the experiments of genetic engineering, that seem at times animated by a dream, cultivated in occult environments, to be able to recreate man himself: de-codifying, altering the natural laws of the senses, searching to cross the frontier of death.

Under the same banner of New Age we find addresses of opposing signals, like that of the femminist-ecology that dwell more and more in the environment of the left and are promoted by international "networks" for a "global" education and the development of a sustainable Earth. Indeed in the normal variations of gradations, the deep motive seems to resurface at the same research of alternative means, also at the cost of a global overturn of society, is considered necessary for the birth of the new era.

What are the principle differences that depart from the Christian faith

  • 1. Above all we believe in a God creator. A God that creates liberally, out of love, and that creates a free man. God does not coincide with the world (pantheism), nor does the world emanate from Him. In the Christian eyes it is altogether false to say that God coincides with man. Certainly, He dwells in him, but at the same time He is his Creator, Lord and Savior. Through a design of love, man is made a participant. The separation preserves personal dignity and man's freedom.
  • 2. With this God we enter into a dialogue through prayer. Prayer is not the simple rediscovery of the "I" more profound, but presupposes the encounter of two people; it is a state of free adoration, in thankfulness, in supplication. It is a tuning in to the will of the Father.
  • 3. We have need of the redemption of Christ, because we are sinners. The Christian sees man as fundamentally good, but wounded by original sin. No technique of liberation, no power of personal concentration, no harmonization of millions of consciousness can save man. Our only way of salvation is through Christ, the Son of God made man, who "came" into the story to save us.
  • 4. Suffering and death have a significance. The followers of the New Age do not accept suffering and death. Redemption comes for them through the techniques of expanding the consciousness, through rebirth, through journeys to the portals of death, it is obtained with any method that helps the release by augmenting the vital energies. However for Christians world-wise suffering in union with the crucified Jesus, who revealed his love for man on the cross, is the fount of salvation. Also death is a unique event: it is not the means for another reincarnation of which there will follow others, but the obligated passage to enter into eternal life.
  • 5. The new world will be constructed with works of reciprocated love. The New Age talks of changing the world. Says a follower of the Hindu movement Brahma Kumaris "Something is about to happen you can rouse it, associate yourself at the same time with millions of others, reunited in a kind of a new communion of saints, that through their power and intrinsic creativity, makes available a lever capable of turning over the world to the proper side." But, does it only require thought to change the world? The path that Jesus Christ proposed is very demanding and very fascinating, it is that of reciprocated love that is translated into concrete works and creates a vibrant community that constructs a new world.

Many men of today have a need to hope for a "new age" for humanity. Seeking a new broader vision, that would give reason also to the diversity of religions and cultures, seeking a global spirituality, capable of offering a path that responds to the aspiration of a union with God, with all of humanity, with the whole cosmos, they are sensitive to a cultural and political agenda that renews all of society. Avoiding the blind vehicles that conduct the dream of omnipotence, it suggests rethinking in new terms the Christian plan for man and his society.


Translated relatively literally from the Italian by Estela Piscope 6/18/98


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