The Scarlet Letter
Volume II, Number 4 | May 1995
The World Teacher
Presented by Fr. Pnesomauma & Sr. Continuity
The Avenger sayeth:
You have done well to protest against the grotesque mummeries of the bottle-fed Messiah; you will still do wisely to beware of its Jesuitical wire-pullers. The attempted usurpation is most sinister Black Magic of the Brothers of the Left-hand Path.
I need not remind you of the shameless and nauseating fraud by which the Grand Old Procuress worked herself into the presidency of your Society, of her blatant attempts to capture various rites of Freemasonry, and her imbecile parodies of the Romish heresy, of the obscene manustuprations1 practiced by Leadbeater on the wretched Krishnamurti, with a view of making him a docile imbecile, in imitation of the traditions of the Dalai Lamas, or of a thousand other duplicities, tergiversations2, and crimes. It is your daily shame to remember. Nor need I indicate your only proper course.
With regard to the recent intrigue of the S.J. to introduce their cult into Hinduism. You are free to use the Sign of the Cross—or the sign of the Blue Posts3—exactly as you will. The Theosophical Society is, first of all, not a sect. The WORLD TEACHER will not try to enforce on Englishmen Hindu restrictions of diet, or on Hindus English restrictions of marriage. The word of Sin is Restriction!
The World-Teacher sayeth:
Find, each of you, your own true Way in the Universe, & follow it with eager joy! There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt! Do that, and no other shall nay. [sic]
Greeting and Peace!
The O.T.O. and the Theosophical Society have a long history of interrelationship. Franz Hartmann, one of the founding members of the Order, was a well-known leader of the successful Theosophical movement in Germany at the time. Under Frater Superior Merlin Peregrinus (Theodor Reuss), the Constitution of the Order designated Probationers (then the title for I° O.TO.) as "embracing Theosophists, etc."
Merlin's successor to the office of O.H.O. also had intentions to subordinate the Theosophical Society to his magical organizing efforts, but not as a segment of O.T.O. Aleister Crowley in his role as the Master Therion engaged in the World-Teacher campaign so that, as O.T.O. had been the first of the Old Aeon Orders to accept the Law of Thelema, the Theosophical Society might be the second. To that end, he sought recognition as the messianic "World-Teacher" indicated by the Society's founder H.P Blavatsky.
Attention to the World-Teacher notion had been cultivated in the Society by its President Annie Besant, because she and her friend C.W. Leadbeater had been preparing their own claimant to this position, the Indian youth Jiddhu Krishnamurti. Leadbeater, formerly the premier pedagogue of the Theosophical Society, had been in hot water for accusations of mutual masturbation with and "unnatural interest" in boys in his care—hence some of the indictments in this 1926 Avenger manifesto.
In the Avenger document, Crowley condemns Besant for "attempts to capture various rites of Freemasonry" (i.e. her co-masonic organizing) and "parodies of the Romish heresy." (Leadbeater had acquired control of a fringe ecclesiastical organization, the Liberal Catholic Church, in 1920.) These charges look somewhat ironic in light of Crowley's Headship of O.T.O. and Patriarchate of E.G.C.
The Theosophical Society was at this time far too preoccupied with its internal dilemmas to find Crowley's rancorous manifestos attractive, and it doesn't seem that the World-Teacher effort won over any significant Theosophical population to Thelema. Krishnamurti, on the other hand, went on to disclaim any title for himself or another to the status of World-Teacher. In 1929, at the age of 34, he disbanded the Order of the Star that Theosophists had built around him. In his words,
I maintain that Truth is a pathless Land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path.
Ankh-f-n-khonsu (Aleister Crowley, pseud). The World Teacher to the Theosophical Society. Carbon of typescript at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin.
Hymenaeus Beta. "Editor's Introduction" to The Heart of the Master by Aleister Crowley (Scottsdale: New Falcon, 1992). Contains many details about interactions between the Theosophical Society and O.T.O. in the 1920's, as well as specifics on the World-Teacher campaign.
Jayakar, Pupul. Krishnarnurti–A Biography. (New York: Harper & Row, 1986)
King, Francis. Sexuality, Magic and Perversion. (Secaucus: Citadel, 1973) Chapter Twelve "The Bishop and the Boys" gives details of the misadventures of Leadbeater, and the attendant reactions within and without the Theosophical Society.
Merlin Peregrinus (Theodor Reuss, pseud.) "Constitution of the Ancient Order of Oriental Templars" in Equinox vol. III, no. 10. (New York: 93 Publishing, 1990).
Thanks to Soror Continuity for proofing notes on the typescript, and to Frater Superior Hymenaeus Beta for recommendations on the presentation of this material.