Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Book of Dzyan

Donald Tyson is an Canadian magician—not the stage version, but the occult type. His latest book, The 13 Gates of the Necronomicon: A Workbook of Magic, continues the Necronomicon mythos used by the American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft, in his stories. Tyson compares the Necronomicon with Blavatsky’s Book of Dzyan:

Lovecraft refers to the Book of Dzyan, which is part of the lore of Theosophy. Madame Blavatsky, the leader of the theosophical movement, claimed to have read the ancient and lost Book of Dzyan, and pretended that she had published stanzas from this work in her own book The Secret Doctrine. As it happens, Blavatsky invented the Book of Dzyan just as surely as Lovecraft invented the Necronomicon—or perhaps, just as surely did not invent it, as Lovecraft did not invent the Necronomicon. Blavatsky claimed the ability to read books stored in the great astral library known as the akashic records. It is very likely here that she studied the Book of Dzyan. Similarly, Lovecraft did not so much invent the Necronomicon as dream it into existence, and for Lovecraft dreams were very real.

Lovecraft’s brief references to the Book of Dzyan have nothing to do with the actual stanzas published by Blavatsky. Should the Book of Dzyan be classified as fictional or real? Blavatsky claimed it to be a real work. Certainly, a portion of it exists in her Secret Doctrine, so it is real in the sense that it has been published. It was regarded as real enough by Theosophists. Yet most scholars agree that the Book of Dzyan had no existence of any material kind before Blavatsky wrote about it.

Donald Tyson has written over twenty books on ritual magic issued mainly through Llewellyn, a New Age publisher, based in Woodbury, Minnesota. While previous practitioners of western magic were fairly sympathetic to Blavatsky—W.W. Westcott, wrote of her erudition, S.L. Mathers, who was not enthusiastic about her eastern approach, still recognized her ability, Aleister Crowley, thought enough of her Voice of the Silence to write a commentary on it, Dion Fortune’s Cosmic Doctrine follows Blavatsky’s schema in The Secret Doctrine, and Israel Regardie, responsible for much of the Golden Dawn revival in the second part of the twentieth century, quotes her approvingly throughout his writings—Tyson is openly dismissal.

The biographical sketch of her on his website claims, among other things:

There is no reason to believe that she spent any amount of time in Tibet, or in a religious retreat. It seems far more likely that she occupied this decade in her life learning the trades of confidence artist and fraudulent medium--skills that served her so well in later years. Criminal activities were probably involved, which may explain her reluctance to discuss this "veiled" time.

In December of 1875 she and Olcott founded the Theosophical Society. Olcott assumed the post of Chairman.

Speaking of the S.P.R. Committee report “exposing” her: Blavatsky's guilt was so obvious to everyone, she made no attempt to deny it.

And so on. The rest of his comments on her, unreliable as they are, can be read here. His book, The 13 Gates of the Necronomicon, will be released by Llewellyn July 1.

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