Proof of Leadbeater Plagiarizing "Occult Chemistry"
Feb 10, 2007 04:38 AM
by Mark Jaqua
CWLs plagiarized "Occult Chemistry"
The following is from the Oct. 15,
1953 issue of the "Canadian Theosophist"
on Leadbeaters stealing his ideas for
his "Occult Chemistry" book from a book
by Babbit in 1878, with no credit.
Grahame W. Barratt, who's letter and research
it was, I believe resigned from the Adyar
TS because of his discovery of the plagiarism.
- jake j.
The following letter relates to the book Occult
Chemistry, a revised edition of which was published by
The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, in 1951. We
had fondly hoped - but in vain, as it turns out - that
this material would have remained quietly buried in
its original 1919 edition until it was forgotten.
However, it has been reincarnated in quarto size
profusely, illustrated, containing 390 pages, price
about $11.00. The new edition was revised by Mr.
Jinarajadasa; parts of the original have been omitted
and notes have been added on later `investigations'
made by Mr. Leadlbeater.
It is unfortunate that our correspondent's
examination of the sources from which the basic ideas
of Occult Chemistry were drawn, has led him to resign
from the Society. Doubtless the disclosures were but
the last straws which finally moved the scale. Mr.
Barratt is a deep student of The Secret Doctrine, a
staunch, outspoken supporter of H.P.B., and an
uncompromising opponent of the lower psychism which
has permeated the Theosophical Society, Adyar. The
Society cannot afford to lose members of Mr. Barratt's
standing and his resignation will be regretted by all
those members who are endeavoring to restore the
prestige of Theosophy by stimulating interest in the
study of the real basic Theosophical literature. Mr.
Barratt still is and will continue to be a member of
the one Theosophical Movement, whose members all are
bound together as brother disciples in their common
adherence to the original message of Theosophy.
They are aware that there is a fundamental and
irreconcilable difference of approach between the
revelations given out by Mr. Leadbeater, and the
teachings of the Masters and their agent, H.P.
Blavatsky. In St. Paul's words, thefirst is of the
earth, earthy; the second is the Lord from heaven.
In the opinion of many students, Mr. Leadbeater was a
psychic who never advanced beyond the limits of lower
psychism, the plane of astral forms, subtle and
illusive. It is true that his books express many
exalted ideals, many noble teachings - it would be
impossible to write on Theosophy without carrying
forward some parts at least of the Message - but his
engrossing interest was in psychism. His mind was not
metaphysical; where H.P.B. and the Masters spoke of
abstract Principles, Mr. Leadbeater saw only
marvellous Beings, gods, devas, elementals and the
like; where they presented the ancient doctrine of
the divine self within the shrine of the heart, and
stated that the great work of man was to realize that
divinity by self-imposed disciplines of purification
and aspiration, Mr. Leadbeater on the contrary
counselled the use of ceremonies, the burning of
incense, the invocation of astral beings, the
performance of magical rites to control exterior
forces. The many differences between the two
attitudes have been the subject of articles and,
booklets and we do not wish to enlarge upon examples
The freedom of expression and belief which the
Society guarantees to all its members gave Mr.
Leadbeater the right to hold his peculiar opinions and
to state them. Unfortunately these opinions have come
to be regarded as authoritative by the majority of the
members of the Adyar Theosophical Society. They are
rejected by the members of the other Theosophical
Societies and by the steadily growing number of
Theosophists who are not affiliated with any Society.
The number of these is being increased by students
like Mr. Barratt, who feel that they should not remain
in an organization which calls itself theosophical and
yet has moved so far away from the original source of
We are therefore glad to publish Mr. Barratt's
letter in the hope that it will encourage other
members to take thought; to go back and reread with
more critical eyes the books which they have accepted
heretofore; if upon a detached re-examination they
find them no longer satisfying, then to turn to the
great source books of Theosophy, The Mahatma Letters,
The Secret Doctrine and other writings of H.P.B. to
discover for themselves what Theosophy really is.
The Canadian Theosophist.
Dear Mr. Editor,
Having recently been invited to examine Edwin D.
Babbitt's book, The Principles of Light and Color,
N.Y. 1878, I found that the Leadbeater claims to
originality in the matter of atoms have no foundation
in sincerity, and the diagrams displayed in Occult
Chemistry, First Principles of Theosophy and other
works are direct plagiarisms from the work of Mr.
I have withdrawn from such a fake setup of the real
Ancient Wisdom in disgust, and prefer to keep away
from any such `societies' to conduct my studies of the
original works of the Masters and H.P. Blavatsky
alone, and free from such a befuddled mess. Perhaps
you would like to quote some of my reasons to your
Quoting from Mr. Sinnett's introduction to Occult
Chemistry (p. 1, 1919 edition) we read: "He was,
quite willing to try, and I suggested a molecule of
gold as one which he (C.W.L.) might try to observe."
He made the appropriate effort, and emerged from it
saying the molecule in question was far too elaborate
a structure to be described. (It will be important to
recall this assertion later.)
"I suggested an atom of hydrogen as possibly more
manageable - this timehe found the atom of hydrogen to
be far simpler than the other, so that the minor
`atoms' constituting the hydrogen were countable -
they were 18 in number."
On page 11 of the same work it states, ". . . the
chemical atom is formed, and we find it to contain in
all eighteen ultimate physical atoms."
These are the ones mentioned on page 2 as `minor'
atoms, so let it be stored firmly in mind lest the
fingerprints of evidence become obscured.
When the all important question of "ultimate atoms"
is used to illustrate matters further ahead, the
reader will helpfully recall this.
We encounter next the statements casting the first
shadow of suspicion upon the whole matter, for on page
2 of Occult Chemistry it is stated, - "we little
realized at the moment the enormous significance of
this discovery (?) made in the year 1895 long before .
. " etc.
Is this a truthful and sincere statement? Either
it is a pretentious lie or an utterly irresponsible
statement and utterly disregarding the fact that Edwin
D. Babbitt published in New York a book containing the
detailed picture here reproduced of the same atoms
Occult Chemistry (1919 edition) even contains the
remark on page 10 that the book, The Principles of
Light and Color, N.Y. 1878, contains a drawing which
"may be taken as correct" and is a "fairly accurate
How could any sane writer even hint at originality
in such a case? Why has Mr. Jinarajadasa removed this
reference to the work of Babbitt in his revised
edition of Occult Chemistry?
Returning to our examination of the methods
employed by Leadbeater and his very elaborate
explanations of actual technique, we find that he
unconsciously betrays himself from the start - he was
never very intelligent; and certainly never had a
spark of originality as a thinker.
It is amazing to the writer that all the
controversy over C.W.L. has never produced a known
criticism of his `atom-microscope'.
It is in this department of vanity that the cat
shows a leg, and the childish nonsense of the whole
thing is revealed.
THE MICROSCOPE MYTH
It is not proposed here to decide whether the
`Chromo-Mentalism' of Babbitt, or the `Occult
Chemistry' of C.W.L. are facts or plagiarisms, but by
the fullest analysis of Leadlbeater's own words in his
varied writings, we might
[[Drawing here: Babbitt's Atom, 1878 Fig. 135.
The general Form of an Atom, including the spirals and
1st Spirillae, together with influx and efflux ethers,
represented by dots, which pass throught these
spirillae. The 2nd and 3rd spirillae with their still
finer ethers are not shown.]]
catch him jumping off his own shadow for the benefit
of credulous old ladies, and neurotically frustrated
It is quite possible that Babbitt is correct in his
estimate of the approximate size of the atom, viz.
250,000,000 to 500,000,000 of these to extend over the
length of one inch. This would mean roughly that an
ordinary human hair would contain 100,000 in its
Try to imagine this minuteness by dividing a hair
into two, four, eight, sixteen and so on until a
thousandth of it is reached.
Divide this again by ten, and again by ten, and
then one will have arrived at the size Leadbeater
claims to see clairvoyantly, you, by the way, can only
imagine this size if genius reigns within.
All this may be possible in an adept, but in a
later series of examples we can show Leadbeater
contradicting the Adept teaching itself, and one feels
strongly that he affects to exercise a faculty which
really is possible at a level of real and esoteric
proficiency, but which he is merely affecting to
understand in order to impress the incredulous.
Therefore the whole point in evoking an imaginative
grasp of such minuteness, one hundred thousandth part
of the width of a single hair, is to make ready for
other, and more awkward complications which will
ultimately cancel Leadbeater's technique into
Quoting from his Inner Life, pp. 137-138, vol. 2,
we read - "Another interesting power is that of
magnification. There are two methods of magnification
which may be used in connection with the clairvoyant
faculty. One is simply an intensification of ordinary
This in condensed form is the power to divert light
(!) from the rods and cones, and direct it to the
etheric matter of the eye.
He suggests that by concentrating it in a few
particles, or even in one particle, he achieves a
similarity of size with an object he wishes to
observe. How similarity of size can achieve
magnification is evidently a part of his own
imaginative esotericism, - he adds that in our
ordinary vision "the vibrations set up are by no means
thoroughly understood"! We can skip all this stuff in
a hurry to reach the second method which he hails as
It should be remembered that it is not the
possibility of an atom acting as a magnifier which we
dispute, but that
[[Drawing here approximately identical to the Babbitt
atom. LEADBEATER'S ATOM, 1895]]
Leadbeater's conception and rendering of it is so
anaemic. The second method reads -
"A method more commonly used, but requiring
somewhat higher development, is to employ the special
faculty of the centre between the eyebrows. From the
central portion of this can be projected what we may
call a tiny miscroscope, having for its lens only one
atom. In this way we can produce an organ
commensurate in size with the minuteobject to be
observed. The atom may be either physical, astral, or
mental, but whichever it is it needs a special
preparation. All its spirillae must be opened up, and
brought into full working order, so that it is just as
it will be in the seventh round of our chain. This
power belongs to the causal body, so if an atom of the
lower level be used as an eyepiece a system of
reflecting counterparts must be introduced."
We comment by observing that as Leadbeater's idea
of the planetary chain does not agree with that of the
Adept teachers, he is likely at short notice to create
both microscopes and universes to suit his fancy.
Having given Leadbeater his full say, we must
proceed to check the term "atom" and exactly which
atom is being considered, because in the initial
investigations there was mention of "minor atoms" and
in the new Occult Chemistry Mr. Jinarajadasa changed
the word to "Ann" which again is merely Sanskrit for
atom. It is certainly not the chemical atom.
Checking on page 180 vol. 2 Inner Life we find
"When for experimental purposes we break up a chemical
atom into physical ultimate atoms" and again in Occult
Chemistry itself, page 21 (1919 ed.) it says - "As the
words `ultimate physical atom' must frequently occur,
it is necessary to state what we mean by the phrase.
Any gaseous chemical atom may be dissociated into less
complicated bodies; these again into still less
complicated, etc. - the fourth dissociation gives the
ultimate physical atom!!"
Thus we have arrived at final certainty that this
ultimate physical atom is the one which in the earlier
experiments with Sinnett was found "quite too
complicated in their arrangement to be comprehended."
THE MICROSCOPE EXPLODED
If the atoms were countable, but "too complicated
in their arrangement to be comprehended" how did
Leadbeater see these atoms if they themselves were the
very atoms he was supposed to be looking through in
his microscope? How did he know they had Spirillae?
The lens in the end of his etheric tube microscope
was asserted to be such an atom itself! Yet he was
here setting out to observe such an atom for the
credulous Mr, Sinnett, without the means to see it !
How pitiful and painful all this is, and surely the
biggest "gooseball" in the whole supposed technique of
Leadbeater. Surely Mr. Sinnett would have asked
himself how Leadbeater arranged in any case to
separate his own breath from the atom of hydrogen he
was supposed to be observing.
[[Drawing here: Fig 133. Piece of Atomic Spiral with
Ist 2nd and 4rd Spirillae. DETAIL OF BABBITT'S ATOM]]
The surrounding air alone contains several gases;
how C.W.L. rid himself of these, and the oxygen within
the air, with its attendant hydrogen, would awaken the
curiosity of anyone not wholly absorbed in the etheric
(?) microscope, which, if the writer's calculations
are right would be something in the region of 1,OOOth
of an inch in length.
How would such a previously estimated minute series
of atoms be rigged up in the tube with the meticulous
exactitude required to conform to correct focus, and
the principles of refraction?
Leadbeater will still continue to receive worship
by members who may still assert "I don't care what
your logic says or your evidence involves, Leadbeater
was clairvoyant - he saw these things - and you are
merely a pompous ignoramus lacking an `Occult'
background. How dare you?"
"When did C.W.L. eveir subject himself to a test,"
we may retort, and quote the remark of Dr. Stokes of
Washington, D.C. - "It is notorious that Leadbeater -
despite all his talk about his powers has persistently
declined to put them to the simplest test - one is
compelled to laugh at this subconscious fiction
factory" O.E.L. Critic. It is useless for his adoring
chelas to pooh pooh the statements about the "ultimate
atom" or to hide the whole mess under the term "Anu".
The statements made in 1895 are repeated 15 years
later on page 180 vol. 2 of the Inner Life.
As Mr. Jinarajadasa omits the references to Babbitt
in his modern optimism about the merits of Occult
Chemistry he probably arrived at other and private
conclusions about Leadbeater not yet published.
The injunction of H.P. Blavatsky cannot be repeated
too often where she says "Consequently unless the
clairvoyant or seer can get beyond this plane of
illusion, he can never see the truth, but will be
drowned in an ocean of self deception and
We can dismiss Leadbeater as a fake, and to quote
H.P.B. again - "rest his shell".
Grahame W. Barratt.
21 Haslemere Ave.,
East Barnet, England.
Mr. Barratt's letter opens up the whole question of
the validity of Mr. Leadbeater's claim to
extraordinary psychic powers. This question is taboo
in certain circles, but when it is raised, the matter
should be examined with detachment and with a sincere
desire to arrive at a correct evaluation of Mr.
Leadbeater's writings. The contents of his books
should be dissociated from the alleged `authority' of
Mr. Leadbeater's utterances. Who gave Mr. Leadbeater
this authority? Mr. Leadbeater himself; he was the
one who throughout his writings claimed to speak from
the vantage point of an advanced occultist. Mrs.
Besant supported him in this, but it must be
remembered that Mrs. Besant was not a psychic (as
H.P.B. herself stated). The original Lucifer article
of 1895 on Occult Chemistry indicated that Mrs. Besant
had then made her first excursion into psychic realms.
1895 was the critical year in Theosophical history;
the fragmentation of the one united Society into
mutually exclusive groups dates from then. Students
of Theosophical history have noted that it was only
after Mrs. Besant's charges in 1895 against Mr. Judge
had resulted in the formation of a separate society in
America, that Mrs. Besant became associated with Mr.
Leadbeater in psychic affairs. Much of the inner
history of that period is not written down. However,
it is significant to note that in a later chapter of
The Principles of Light and Color, a book which was
undoubtedly in Mr. Leadbeater's possession, methods
are outlined for influencing other persons. One
sentence reads, "When convenient it is quite desirable
to have a person who is already well charged with
these fine forces and who can himself see
clairvoyantly, make passes over the head downward and
especially over the eyes and forehead and thus impart
his own power to the subject." In all the
circumstances of thattragic period is it too much to
infer that Mr. Leadbeater did use these methods to
induce Mrs. Besant to believe that she too saw the
images which Mr. Leadbeater claimed he saw? This may
be a clue to the whole puzzling question of the
relationship between Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater -
but this is getting a bit away from the immediate
From the portion of Babbitt's book relating to the
atom, Mr. Leadbeater took the following items:
1. The oblate ovoid shape of the atom.
2. its basic structure,
3. the spiral lines of force,
4. the finer spirillae in the major spirals,
5. the concept of etheric force entering the atom
through the heart shaped depression at the top and
exiting from the opposite end,
6. the concept of grades of `ether' which entering
the atom, impart to it its rotary motion,
7. the concept of colors associated with the lines
of force in the atom.
Babbitt wrote in 1878, long before science had any
idea of the inner structure of the atom and long
before `nuclear physics' was thought of. Babbitt's
atom form cannot be reconciled with any modern
scientific discoveries on the nature of the atom, but
however much one may disagree with Babbitt, one must
admit that in the portion of his lengthy book which
relates to atomic structure, he was careful to present
his conclusions as hypotheses only, `it would appear',
`it is reasonable to suppose', 'study indicates that
this must be so', etc., etc. No such scientific
modesty influenced Mr. Leadbeater - he saw the atom,
and not only the atom, the 250 millionth part of an
inch, but also saw all the infinitely smaller minutiae
of its spirals and spirillae.
It is unfortunate that the book has been revived
and that it was published by The Theosophical
Publishing House. For the sake of the reputation of
the Society, the advertising of the book in reputable
scientific journals, such as Nature, should be
- (Canadian Theosophist, Oct 15, 1953, pp. 121-127)
Yahoo! Music Unlimited
Access over 1 million songs.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application