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Randolph, Paschal Beverly

(2,120 words)

Author(s): Deveney, John Patrick
Randolph, Paschal Beverly, * 8 Jan 1825 (New York City), † 29 Jul 1875 (Toledo, Ohio) Black American visionary and spiritualist whose work transformed the passive and severely limited perspective of 19th-century American → spiritualism by emphasizing active pursuit of individual progress and realization through practical techniques – in Randolph's case, the use of drugs, magic mirrors and sexuality. Born impoverished and illegitimate, he grew up on the streets as an orphan, with minimal education. He took up, i…

Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

(832 words)

Author(s): Deveney, John Patrick
A short-lived secret organization devoted to practical occult work, active in England, France and the United States in the mid-1880s but possessing an influence far greater than its size and duration might suggest. It came to public notice in late 1884 in the form of a notice appended to Robert H. Fryar's republication of The Divine Pymander, that advised searchers after the truth and Theosophists disillusioned with “Hindoo Mahatmas'” willingness to dispense wisdom, to contact “Theon” in care of Fryar. The public propaganda continued in the pages of a journal published by the order, The …


(6,127 words)

Author(s): Deveney, John Patrick
1. Terminology In its most basic form, Spiritualism is simply the belief that living men can and do hold intercourse, usually through an intermediary, with “spirits” of the dead. It is thus both a recurring possibility of human experience in all ages and a specific, historically defined phenomenon with roots in mid-19th century America. The first definition is so sweeping as to be of little use, encompassing as it does everything from the trance voyages of shamans to King Saul's recourse to the Witch of Endor, and only the historical movement will be discussed here. 2. Origins The middle 50…