One of the Prime movers and shakers of 19/20th-century occultism was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and her Theosophical movement. It is hard to find an occult current which was not influenced by her or her followers. These names include Golden Dawn leaders, Dion Fortune, Rudolf Steiner, Alice A. Bailey, the New Age movement and even Aleister Crowley.
What Blavatsky did was create a structure of thought with lots of details which created a “complete” picture of the universe. It managed to merge everything in a syncretic approach which was attractive to those who wanted a very structured universe.
There is much to this universe which has been layered into the Western Occult movement, for better or worse. But one of the things that did get carried on was Blavatsky’s racist views.
In “The Secret Doctrine” Blavatsky writes:
“Mankind is obviously divided into god-informed men and lower human creatures. The intellectual difference between the Aryan and other civilized nations and such savages as the South Sea Islanders, is inexplicable on any other grounds. No amount of culture, nor generations of training amid civilization, could raise such human specimens as the Bushmen, the Veddhas of Ceylon, and some African tribes, to the same intellectual level as the Aryans, the Semites, and the Turanians so called. The ‘sacred spark’ is missing in them and it is they who are the only inferior races on the globe, now happily — owing to the wise adjustment of nature which ever works in that direction — fast dying out. Verily mankind is ‘of one blood,’ but not of the same essence. We are the hot-house, artificially quickened plants in nature, having in us a spark, which in them is latent” (Vol 2, pg. 421).
To Blavatsky, the Aryan race is intellectually superior to all other races. It has a sacred spark that the inferior races lack. She continues:
“Thus, will mankind, race after race, perform its appointed cycle-pilgrimage. Climates will, and have already begun, to change, each tropical year after the other dropping one sub-race, but only to beget another higher race on the ascending cycle; while a series of other less favoured groups — the failures of nature — will, like some individual men, vanish from the human family without even leaving a trace behind” (Vol 2, pg. 446).
So the “less favoured” races are failures of nature: not the image and likeness of God as per Christian doctrine, but freaks.
This view was common in ignorant more racist times; it was later to supply the esoteric backdrop to Nazi thought. Gerald Suster in his book “Adolf Hitler, The Occult Messiah” claimed that Hitler kept a copy of “The Secret Doctrine” by his bedside, ever since being introduced to its teachings by Dietrich Eckart and Karl Haushofer.” True or not, there are similarities between the two worldviews.
The ridiculousness of Blavatsky’s root race racism can be seen in her prediction that the Sixth Root Race will replace the Fifth Root Race. This sixth root race is evolving in America which is renown for its legendary forward-thinking, tolerance and spirituality.
But what is alarming about Blavatsky’s racism is that it follows the brutal and ugly Darwinian approach of the Eugenics movement mixed in with some beautiful spirituality. Its themes of brotherhood and unity sit alongside a system which advocates the opposite. By dividing humanity into tribes which are inferior to white Europeans Blavatsky is undermining her central premise and taking a large chunk of Western occultism down with her.
The side effect is to damn those who followed her teaching. Dion Fortune never escaped her Theosophical roots, and her Society of Inner Light was treated with suspicion because of its demands that its followers were “sympathetic to the British race mind” (to be fair by the 1960s it was initiating those of African descent).
In the 21st century, the only people who follow these sorts of views are those you do not want in an esoteric order. While there might have been a time when innovative thinkers were racists, that time has long gone. The stereotype of a white racist is seen as a hate-filled knuckle-dragging moron. Such a person is full of fear and as the Golden Dawn ritual says, “fear is failure.”
If you were to take a God’s eye view of the world, you would see nothing but a vision of unity. There are no boundaries, no countries, no religions, just humans doing human things. No human is better or more important than the next; no God worshipped by these humans anything less than a mask of central unity. All divisions have been placed there by the minds of humans as an illusion which enshrines their separateness and an insecure belief in their superiority. In the West, the current divisions are being placed by white guys (many of them rich) who are fighting to keep their dominance as technology and world trends takes away their relevance.
As magicians, we cannot help to create divisions in humanity. Occultism thrives when people come together. Those who would divide people into “us and them” are creating the same illusion of separateness which we are fighting to overcome in our magical lives. The person who says “homosexuality is an abomination” is banishing a part of God which has as much right to exist as any other. Ancient Greeks and Romans were much more tolerant than the Christians and Muslims on this matter. In-fact modern “homophobia” is a relic of a Christian past.
Issues like immigration, nationalism and the rise of the Right Wing have made it acceptable to declare these divisive views publicly and insist on them being right. There are even magicians who are working magic to ban Muslims from their country believing this is “spiritual.”
It is time to consign these divisive views to the dustbin of history and make the world a much safer place for everyone. By removing racist thought from Western occultism we make it relevant to a world which will be less divided.
In the short term though, it is up to magicians to have zero tolerance for the false divisions of Unity which have been placed into our teaching by the likes of Blavatsky and her followers. If we don’t then we too will be swept aside along with the other forms of white privilege as a meaningless footnote to western thought.