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Periodical: The Gnostic

Summary: Gnostic, The.
Devoted to Theosophy, Spiritualism, Occult Phenomena and the Cultivation of the Higher Life / A Monthly Journal devoted to Spiritual Science and Universal Theosophy / Organ of the Delsarte Conservatory of Esthetic Gymnastics and Gnostic School of Psychic and Physical Culture. Learn to know all and keep thyself unknown / Intuition is the only faculty in man through which Divine Revelation comes, or ever has come.-W.F. Evans. Intuition is the seed of the tree of life, and the various attributes of the mind, which lead to gifts of the Spirit, are its trunk and branches.-F.B. Dowd. Intuition, being the knowledge which descends into the soul from above, excels any that can be attained by the mere exercise of the intellect.-The Perfect Way

1885-1888 Monthly

Oakland, then San Francisco, CA. Editor: George Chainey and Anna Kimball; later with W.J. Colville.

Corporate author: Mystic Lodge, Gnostic Schools and Societies of Psychic and Physical Culture; edited by its Presidents / Organ of the Delsarte Conservatory of Esthetic Gymnastics and Gnostic School of Psychic and Physical Culture1/1, July 1885-1888. 30 to 40 pp. $1.00 a year, 10 cents an issue. The advertisement for the journal in the Banner of Light, December 24, 1887, says that it was "a monthly Journal of Spiritual Science, published under the auspices of the Mystic Lodge, Gnostic Schools and Societies of Psychic and Physical Culture; edited by its President." The journal originally was intended as a forum for the lectures of the mavericks George Chainey and Anna Kimball in the short period between their joining and being expelled from the Theosophical Society, but by 1888 it became the gathering place of many persons with great influence on the development of occultism, especially that side of occultism with an inclination to recognize the role of the sexual side of human nature in spiritual and occult development. A passage from F.B. Dowd's "Rosicrucian Sermon, No. 4," in number 1/11 (July 1888), 313, illustrates the phenomenon: "Sexual emotions are the strongest, the highest and the deepest a human being can feel, and yet they are the most transient and fleeting. But transient as they may be, 'tis then that God draws near to us and gives us a glimpse of creative power, and the ecstatic bliss of its possession, for indeed we are possessed at such times."

The journal also carried a letter from someone named T.D. Pease telling Chainey that "a representative of the Luxors" (i.e., of the H.B. of L.) had appeared to him astrally, together with J.C. Street.

The journal featured works by Chainey (notably on Walt Whitman) and Kimball, W.F. Evans, F.B. Dowd, Ella Wheeler (later Wilcox), Thomas Lake Harris, Mabel Collins (The Idyl of the White Lotus), Helen Wilmans (a letter congratulating Chainey on the journal), and Anna Bonus Kingsford. W. J. Colville (1859/62-1917), who is usually classified (incorrectly) as a simple medium and whose career extends through the First World War, was later added as an editor, and his association with the journal is an indication of the far more important and complex role he played in the development of occultism in the period. The announcement in the journal that it was the organ of the Delsarte Conservatory of Esthetic Gymnastics and Gnostic School of Psychic and Physical Culture points to the possible involvement in this journal of Genevieve Stebbins (Astley)(1857- ), who claimed to have been trained in the Delsarte techniques in France in 1881. (These techniques inculcated the role of formalized gestures and postures in conveying emotions to an audience, though Stebbins taught them as a way of modifying the mental state of the posturer himself.) She was later involved with the Church of Light of Elbert Benjamine ("C.C. Zain," 1882-1951) and in 1901 translated for Zain's students descriptions of the arcana of the Tarot given by "Paul Christian" (Jean-Baptiste Pitois, 1811-1877), a student of Eliphas Lévi's. Correspondence for the journal was to be addressed to Mrs. M.E. Cramer, who later edited Harmony in San Francisco and with her husband founded Divine Science. After 10 issues of the last volume, the journal decided to combine the May and June 1888 issues and then skipped them altogether, still holding out promises for the future, but the journal could not have long survived. Only two issues are known: vol. 1, no. 1 (July 1885), is in the Whitman collection at the University of Virginia, and vol. 1, no. 11 (July 1888), which is also called vol. 2, no. 1, is at Brown University and the University of California, Berkeley. (The Brown University library catalogue for unknown reasons attributes the journal to Thomas Lake Harris.) The volume numbering is only explainable on the assumption that the journal was suspended for most of 1886 when Kimball and Chainey were touring the antipodes, and then was resumed on their return.

Issues:Gnostic July 1885
Gnostic June 1888

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