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Salience, valence, HPB, and scholars

Feb 15, 2006 06:42 AM
by kpauljohnson

Dear Carlos, Bruce, and all,

Yesterday I took the day off to do research at the NC State Archives 
in Raleigh, and came home with extremely useful material to complete 
a chapter for which I have set a deadline of February 28.  If I stay 
offline except as necessary for the next few days, by the weekend I 
should be able to participate here to the extent of clearing up some 
points about my books.  So this will be my last post until Saturday.

The negative feelings expressed in my earlier message have mostly to 
do with the sense that theos-talk is a kind of constant undertow, 
dragging my energies away from current projects.  That was the case 
in the mid to late 90s when working on the Cayce book, and since 2001 
working on the present one.  Knowing that someone had deliberately 
and enthusiastically fanned flames of extreme hostility to my books 
and me personally, with considerable support among members of all 
Theosophical organizations, has not been helpful to my authorial ego! 
It has kept me from getting motivated to work on new projects.  So 
while working on the Cayce book and now this one, I have mostly 
stayed away from Theosophical fora.  But while I could put Daniel and 
his antics out of my mind for months on end, I could never really 
forget what had happened, especially after a friend told me about his 
multiple ID's (without pointing out specific ones-- that was my own 

For various reasons now seemed like the time to turn around and face 
this particular dragon, instead of continuing to dread its constant 
pursuit.  Hope others will weigh in on this in the next few days.

One of the main factors was the realization that my books on HPB had 
a very substantial influence on other writers in a variety of 
fields.  There are now 71 books that came out in the last dozen years 
which have mentioned my books-- a few the Cayce book but 
overwhelmingly the ones on HPB.  So for years I thought the story of 
my books on HPB ended miserably in the late 90s; while I myself was 
totally demoralized from working on Theosophical history, the books 
themselves were working silently and without my knowledge.  I'll 
append a list with some related info.

As for how one or more books have affected HPB's reputation, let's 
put my motivations aside as irrelevant.  Even if I'd been trying to 
attack her reputation and harm Theosophy, what did my books really 
accomplish?  Even if I were a diehard Theosophist out to prove the 
reality of the Masters and salvage HPB's reputation (TRUE), what did 
they really accomplish?

Here's a statement made by Daniel von Egmond in a scholarly paper 
subsequently published as a chapter, "Western Esoteric Schools," in a 
collection entitled Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern 

"In his recent book, Paul Johnson has tried to establish the 
historical identities of these masters.  Although his conclusions 
could be contested on some points, his study proves once and for all 
that Blavatsky's masters were real human beings.  Consequently, 
accusations that they were mere figments of her fantasy, and also all 
the claims of many of her would-be successors of being the new 
messenger of these same masters, no longer deserve serious 
attention."(p. 313)

Here von Egmond is implying, correctly in my view that the previous 
attitude toward HPB among scholars had generally been that the 
Masters were figments of fantasy and that therefore HPB herself did 
not deserve serious attention in terms of studying her sources.  Why 
would Adyar not welcome this?  It undermines the unassailable CWL, 
for one thing.  If HPB's Masters are acknowledged by scholars to have 
been real, then the contrast with CWL's imaginary ones becomes all 
too glaring.

I would suggest that books can affect other books' appraisal of their 
subject along a couple of dimensions: salience and valence.  How 
important is HPB?  How admirable/likeable/valuable is she?  Let's 
assume a ten point scale and say that in general before 1993, 
scholars and interested non-Theosophists would have seen her as a 4 
on contemporary relevance (salience) and a 2 on valence-- mostly 
known as a performer of fraudulent phenomena.  And on the same 
scales, I think she has by now risen to a 7 on salience and a 5 on 
valence.  That's not attributable just to my books, but to Godwin's 
which got far more acclaim and notice (justifiably so), Carlson's, 
and some of the sources which cite all these that are listed below.

Instead of being appreciative of their positive impact, there have 
been negative reactions from Theosophists saying I'm attacking HPB's 
reputation.  This seems to set an awfully high bar.  If I don't think 
she's a 10 on both salience and valence, the most important and 
morally impeccable person of her century-- and promote and induce 
conversions to that view-- I'm a vicious enemy of Theosophy.  That's 
silly and impossible, as the list below will demonstrate. 



Books citing K. Paul Johnson, 1991-2004

T= reference in text (usually accompanied by notes and bibliography)
N= citation in notes (usually accompanied by bibliography entry)
B= bibliography entry only
A= acknowledgements
E= endorsement 
[ ]= Amazon ranking 

The Occult world of Madame Blavatsky : reminiscences and impressions 
by those who knew her / compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell. 
1st ed. Tucson, Ariz. : Impossible Dream Publications, 1991. (B) 

Melton J. Gordon. Encyclopedic handbook of cults in America / by J. 
Gordon Melton. Rev. and updated ed. New York : Garland Pub., 1992. 
(B)  [1,296,460]

Cranston, S. L. HPB : the extraordinary life and influence of Helena 
Blavatsky, founder of the modern Theosophical movement / Sylvia 
Cranston. New York : Putnam, c1993. (B) [974,445]

India : a travel survival kit / Geoff Crowther ... [et al.]. 5th ed. 
Hawthorn, Vic. ; London : Lonely Planet, 1993. [2,500,882]

Godwin, Joscelyn. The theosophical enlightenment / by Joscelyn 
Godwin. Albany : State University of New York Press, c1994. (T) 

Greenfield, Allen H. Secret cipher of the UFOnauts / Allen H. 
Greenfield. 1st ed. Lilburn, Ga. : IllumiNet Press, 1994. (T) 

Godwin, Joscelyn, Christian Chanel, and John P. Deveney, The Hermetic 
Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and historical documents of an order 
of practical occultism.  York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, c1995. (N) 

Gilchrist, Cherry. Theosophy : the wisdom of the ages / Cherry 
Gilchrist. 1st ed. [San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1996. (B) 

Prothero, Stephen R. The white Buddhist : the Asian odyssey of Henry 
Steel Olcott / Stephen Prothero. Bloomington : Indiana University 
Press, c1996. (N) [715,209]

Caldwell, Daniel H.  K. Paul Johnson's house of cards? : a critical 
examination of Johnson's thesis on the theosophical masters Morya and 
Koot Hoomi.  Tucson, Ariz.: D.H. Caldwell, 1996. (T)

Deveney, John P. (John Patrick) Paschal Beverly Randolph : a 
nineteenth-century Black American spiritualist, rosicrucian, and sex 
magician / John Patrick Deveney ; with a foreword by Franklin 
Rosemont. Albany : State University of New York Press, c1997. (E) 

McKay, Alex. Tibet and the British Raj : the frontier cadre, 1904-
1947 / Alex McKay. Richmond, Surrey : Curzon, 1997. (N) [965,266]

Finneran, Richard J., ed., Yeats: an annual of critical and textual 
studies, Vol. XIII (1995).  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 
1997. (N)

Van Den Broeck, R., and Wouter J. Hanegraff, eds., Gnosis and 
Hermeticism from Antiquity…  Albany: SUNY Press, 1997.

The reader's catalog : an annotated selection of more than 40,000 of 
the best books in print in over 300 categories / edited by Geoffrey 
O'Brien. 2nd ed. New York : Reader's Catalog, c1997. (T) [105,111]

Encyclopedia of Religion and Society.  William H. Swatos, Jr., ed.  
Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 1998. (N)

Banner, Lois W. Finding Fran : history and memory in the lives of two 
women / Lois W. Banner. New York : Columbia University Press, c1998. 
(N) [433,136]

Brown, Mick, 1950- The spiritual tourist : a personal odyssey through 
the outer reaches of belief / Mick Brown. New York : Bloomsbury, 
1998. (T) [275,996]

Crowley, Aleister et al, Commentaries on the holy book and other 
papers.  York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1998.  (N) 

International Association for the History of Religions. Congress 
(17th : 1995 : Mexico City, Mexico) Western esotericism and the 
science of religion : selected papers presented at the 17th Congress 
of the International Association for the History of Religions, Mexico 
City, 1995 / edited by Antoine Faivre & Wouter J. Hanegraaff. Leuven, 
Belgium : Peeters, 1998. (N) [1,095,472]

Lopez, Donald S., 1952- Prisoners of Shangri-La : Tibetan Buddhism 
and the West / Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Chicago : University of Chicago 
Press, 1998. (N) [147,028]

Women's theology in nineteenth-century Britain : transfiguring the 
faith of their fathers / edited by Julie Melnyk. New York : Garland, 
c1998. (N) [1,475,433]

Cayce, Edgar, 1877-1945. Lost memoirs of Edgar Cayce My life as a 
seer : the lost memoirs / compiled and edited by A. Robert Smith. 1st 
St. Martin's Press ed. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999. (T) 

Meyer, Karl Ernest. Tournament of shadows : the great game and race 
for empire in Central Asia / Karl E. Meyer & Shareen Blair Brysac. 
Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, c1999. (T) [83,348]

Reigle, David and Nancy.  Blavatsky's secret books: twenty years' 
research.  San Diego: Wizard's Bookshelf, 1999. (T)

Taves, Ann, 1952- Fits, trances, & visions : experiencing religion 
and explaining experience from Wesley to James / Ann Taves. 
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1999. (T) [127,773]

Smoley, Richard, 1956- Hidden wisdom : a guide to the western inner 
traditions / Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney. New York : Arkana, c1999. 
(T) [52,715]

Taylor, Eugene. Shadow culture : psychology and spirituality in 
America / Eugene Taylor. Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, c1999. (N) 

Gurus and their followers : new religious reform movements in 
colonial India / edited by Antony Copley. New Delhi ; New York : 
Oxford University Press, 2000. (N) [1,263,515]

Jenkins, Philip, 1952- Mystics and messiahs : cults and new religions 
in American history / Philip Jenkins. Oxford ; New York : Oxford 
University Press, 2000. (N) [270,966]

Krassa, Peter.  Father Ernetti's chronovisor: the creation and 
disappearance of the world's first time machine.  Boca Raton, 
Florida: New Paradigm, 2000. 
(T) [122,085]

The Tibetan book of the dead / according to Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup's 
English rendering ; compiled and edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz. 4th ed. 
New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2000. (B) [286,494]

Kirkpatrick, Sidney. Edgar Cayce : an American prophet / Sidney D. 
Kirkpatrick. New York : Riverhead Books, 2000. (A, N) [79,495]

Sanat, Aryel, The Inner life of Krishnamurti: Private passion and 
perennial wisdom/ Aryel Sanat.  Wheaton: Quest Books, 2000. (T) 

Vernon, Roland, 1961- Star in the east : Krishnamurti, the invention 
of a Messiah / Roland Vernon. London : Constable, 2000. (N) [280,706]

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.  New York: Columbia University 
Press, 2001. (B) [43,127]

Lewis, James R., ed., Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New 
Religions.  2nd ed.  Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2001. (B) [1,215,511]

Caldwell, Daniel H., comp., The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky.  
Wheaton, Ill.: Quest, 2001. (B) [382,653]

Nation und religion in der Deutschen Geschicte.  Frankfurt: Campus, 

Goonatilake, Susantha, Anthropologizing Sri Lanka: A Eurocentric 
Misadventure.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. (T) 

Kirkpatrick, Sidney. Edgar Cayce : an American prophet / Sidney D. 
Kirkpatrick. 1st Riverhead trade pbk. ed. New York : Riverhead Books, 
2001. (A,N,E) [80, 755]

Dixon, Joy, 1962- Divine feminine : theosophy and feminism in 
England / Joy Dixon. Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 
c2001. (N) [746,078]

Dodin, Thierry, and Heinz Rather, eds.  Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, 
Projections, and Fantasies.  Somerville, Mass.: Wisdom Publications, 
c2001.  (N,B)

Regardie, Israel. The tree of life : an illustrated study in magic / 
Israel Regardie. 3rd ed., edited and annotated / by Chic Cicero, S. 
St. Paul, Minn. : Llewellyn Publications 2001. (B) [30,449]

Decker, Ronald and Michael Dummett, A history of the occult Tarot: 
1870-1970.  London: Duckworth, c2002. (T) [387,730]

Theologische Realenzyklopadie (Tre): Technik – Transzendenz.  Walter 
de Gruyter, 2002.

Hower, Edward. Shadows and elephants / Edward Hower. 1st ed. 
Wellfleet, Mass. : Leapfrog Press ; St. Paul, Minn. : Distributed in 
the US by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, 2002. (A) [814,387]

Pearson, Joanne, ed.  Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic 
Spirituality, and the New Age.  London: Ashgate, 2002. (T)  [224,569]

Wellbeloved, Sophia.  Gurdjieff, astrology & Beelzebub's tales.  2nd 
ed.  New Paltz, NY: Solar Bound, 2002.

Coward, Harold, ed., Indian Critiques of Gandhi.  Albany: SUNY Press, 
2003. (B)

Gillman, Susan.  Blood talk: American race melodrama and the culture 
of the occult.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. (B) 

Greer, John Michael. The new encyclopedia of the occult / John 
Michael Greer. St. Paul, MN : Llewellyn Publications, 2003. (T) 

Propp, Steven H., Beyond Heaven and Earth.  IUniverse, 2003.

Hale, Christopher.  Himmer's crusade: the Nazi Expedition to find the 
origins of the Aryan race.  New York: Wiley, 2003. (N) [66,928]

Lawton, Ian. Genesis unveiled : the lost wisdom of our forgotten 
ancestors / Ian Lawton. London : Virgin, 2003. (T) [371,649)

Metzger, Richard, Book of lies: the disinformation guide to Magick 
and the occult.  ?: Disinformation Books, 2003. (N)

Sisson, Marina Cesar.  A Esfinge, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.  
Brazilia: Editora MCS, c2003. (N)

Virtue, Doreen, 1958- Archangels & ascended masters : a guide to 
working and healing with divinities and deities / Doreen Virtue. 
Carlsbad, Calif. : Hay House, c2003. (T) [5834]

Wellbeloved, Sophia, 1940- Gurdjieff : the key concepts / Sophia 
Wellbeloved. London : Routledge, 2003. (T) [327,735]

Cults and new religious movements : a reader / edited by Lorne L. 
Dawson. Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., c2003. (B) [1,051,982]

Buescher, John B. (John Benedict) The other side of salvation : 
spiritualism and the nineteenth-century religious experience / John 
B. Buescher. Boston : Skinner House Books, c2004. (N) [979,075]

Gulbekian, Sevak.  In the belly of the beast: holding your own in 
mass culture/ Sevak Gulbekian.  Charlottesville: Hampton Roads 
Publishing Company, c2004. (T) [2,134,838]

Henry, Jane, ed.  Parapsychology: Research on Exceptional 
Experiences.   Boston: Routledge, 2004. (B) [334,608]

Treitel, Corinna.  A science for the soul: occultism and the genesis 
of the German modern.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 
c2004. (N) [1,385,849]

Free, Wynn.  The reincarnation of Edgar Cayce.  Berkeley: Frog, Ltd., 
(T) [28,671]

Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna.  Helena Blavatsky/ edited and introduced 
by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke.  Berkeley: North Atlantic, c2004. (T) 

Sedgwick, Mark F., Against the modern world.  New York, Oxford: 
Oxford University Press, 2004. (N) [11,914]

Cayce, Edgar, 1877-1945. Selections. 2004 The essential Edgar Cayce / 
edited and introduced by Mark Thurston. New York : J.P. 
Tarcher/Penguin, c2004. (E) [78,361]

Ramaswamy, Sumathi, The Lost Land of Lemuria : Fabulous Geographies, 
Catastrophic Histories.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 
2004. (N) [281,270)

Smith, A. Robert, No Soul Left Behind: The Words and Wisdom of Edgar 
Cayce.  New York: Citadel Press, 2005. (A) [110,000]

Penn, Lee, False Dawn: the United Religions Initiative, Globalism, 
and the Quest for a One-World Religion.  Hillsdale, NY: Sophia 
Perennis, 2005. [N]

K. Paul Johnson publications (books):

Secret doctrine centenary, October 29-30, 1988 : report of 
proceedings. Pasadena, Calif. : Theosophical Society, c1989. 

Johnson, K. Paul, 1953- In search of the masters : behind the occult 
myth / Paul Johnson. [United States] : P. Johnson, c1990. [1,828,620]

Johnson, K. Paul, 1953- The masters revealed : Madam Blavatsky and 
the myth of the Great White Lodge / K. Paul Johnson. Albany : State 
University of New York Press, c1994. [405,542]
Johnson, K. Paul, 1953- Initiates of theosophical masters / K. Paul 
Johnson. Albany : State University of New York Press, c1995. [610,393]

Johnson, K. Paul, 1953- Edgar Cayce in context : the Readings, truth 
and fiction / K. Paul Johnson. Albany, N.Y. : State University of New 
York Press, c1998. [397,697] 

Johnson, K. Paul, 1953- The masters revealed : Madame Blavatsky and 
the myth of the Great White Lodge / K. Paul Johnson. 1st Indian ed. 
Delhi : Sri Satguru, 1997. 

The inner West : an introduction to the hidden wisdom of the West / 
edited and introduced by Jay Kinney. New York : Jeremy P. 
Tarcher/Penguin, 2004.  [64,008]

Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers.  Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 

Dictionary of Virginia biography / editors, John T. Kneebone ... [et 
al.] ; assistant editors, Daphne Gentry and Donald W. Gunter. 
Richmond : Library of Virginia, 1998-<2001> (new volume forthcoming) 

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