How about Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater?

I could leave this one at: I have not studied their work enough to say anything substantial about them. Which is true. I’ve read most of Blavatsky and lots of Jiddu Krishnamurti, but very little Besant or Leadbeater.

Annie Besant

I think it’s clear that Annie Besant was a unique and wonderful person. She stood up for the underprivileged, helped bring about India’s independence, organized the Theosophical Society and brought it to prominence. She also saw the start of it’s demise with the defection of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Personally I think her theosophical teachings are the least interesting aspect of her life. But since in the Theosophical Society Adyar people are free to study what they want, there are of course members who do still like her books. Personally I think her style stands the test of time less well than that of Blavatsky or Leadbeater.

C.W. Leadbeater

Priest, theosophical laborer and then back to being a priest. In between C.W. Leadbeater wrote books about clairvoyance and chakras that were pioneer work for what’s now the wider spiritual movement. He coined popularized the Sanskrit word ‘chakra’ for instance. I cannot ignore his contribution.

This is a controversial blog, so here goes:

I don’t think Leadbeater was a saint. In fact, there are some serious questions to be asked about his dealings with underage boys. Also, I don’t think the Liberal Catholic Church is that useful an organization. Christianity will, or will not, slowly reform as new ways of looking at Jesus emerge. The Liberal Catholic Church was an attempt at getting to a spiritual church in a hurry. I know many people appreciate that, but it’s not for me. Nor do I think it’s destined to be big or even sizable.

Furthermore: the controversy about having or not having women as priests ticks me the wrong way. I’m never going to join an organization where women don’t have the same rights as men. I’m very glad that at least some of the Liberal Catholic Churches world wide (The Dutch one for starters) DO allow women in the clergy.

10 thoughts on “How about Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater?”

  1. The LCC rule about women not allowed to be priests ticked me off when I read it too.

    However, later I read a statement indicating the rule was not set in concrete and could be changed in the right circumstances. ‘Right circumstances!’
    That ticked me off too!!

    All things considered I felt pleased there was only that one issue I was critical of.

  2. CWL did not “coin”, but he did popularize, the Sanskrit word “chakra”. It literally means spinning wheel; thus vortex or center.

    1. Thanks Nicholas, you’re right of course. Corrected.

      To add: he popularized the word ‘chakra’ as I understand it not just for the west, but also for the public in the East, as this had been sacred and relatively secret knowledge.

      One sign of this is that Steiner, who also wrote a lot about clairvoyance, generally does not use the word ‘chakra’ but vaguer terms like ‘lotus petals’.

  3. > The LCC rule about women not allowed to be priests ticked me off when I read it too.

    From the other hand, co-Masonry which he ran along with the LCC, accepts women to all degrees.

    1. I don’t think he ‘ran’ the co-masonry, did he? Besant was just as important there as Leadbeater was.

      1. He neither was a sole owner of LCC. It was formerly an Old Catholic Church, very conservative in respect of rites. Leadbeater introduced an interesting compromise and made this church liberal as to dogmas while remaining conservative as to the rites. Unchanged old rites were the ground which held this church together and a change of them would make all the members escape.

        1. Well, in The Netherlands it was the other way around: the members left the Liberal Catholic Church a few years ago to start their own, in order to allow women priests (and higher). They were soon joined by LCC branches from various other parts of Europe.

  4. Leadbeater might not be a saint.. he might have been a clairvoyant. Clairvoyance is an independent phenomenon, it develops during spiritual and balck magic practices. The practitioner need not be called as Saint. For that matter most of the Theosophical societys’ leaders were not authentic saints. They were on the process of Saint making.. but perhaps lost their way in the process of organization making.

  5. No discussion has been took place about REAL Annie Besant till date. All the work that she has done had a definite hidden agenda !What ever role she has played ,all of that was for the promotion of her brand of ROMAN CHRISTIANITY.Call it Home Rule,theosophy,Liberal Church, or Indian National Congress. There is ample evidence for this .

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