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Background Influencers

By:Andrew Hain
Date: Wed,21 Feb 2024
Submitter:Andrew Hain

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Background Influencers
In writing a previous article my research threw up the names of a number of people who pioneered and influenced Gnostic, Theosophical, Neo Theosophical and New Age ideas regarding Ancient Wisdom and “Spirituality”. Quite a number of those named I had never heard of, and so I thought their work deserved further investigation. This article is part one of two.
Peter Deunov (Petar Danov) (1864 –1944), also known by his spiritual name, Beinsa Douno, and often called the Master by his followers, was a Bulgarian philosopher and spiritual teacher who developed a form of Esoteric Christianity known as the Universal White Brotherhood. He is widely known in Bulgaria, where he is “the most published Bulgarian author to this day.”
In 1932, he developed Paneurhythmy exercises: a sequence of exercises performed to music, to achieve inner balance and harmonization. This practice promotes the processes of self-perfecting, expanding of the consciousness and attaining of virtues.
Several thousand of Deunov's lectures were recorded by stenographers and are documented in the form of deciphered stenograms (some modified by editing and others left intact). These contain the essence of his teaching. There are also a number of songs and prayers, among which  The Good Prayer  from 1900 is regarded as the most special.
The Orthodox Church condemned the Brotherhood for its beliefs that Christ was considered merely an occult teacher, not the Son of God; that God loses his personality and transforms into an impersonal pantheistic self; its disbelief in the Trinity; its belief in reincarnation; and such occult practices as astrology.
For further insights into Deunov's spirituality please see

Geraldine Innocente (aka Geraldine Innocenti) (1916 - 1961) was the founder of a New Age organization named The Bridge to Freedom which was established in 1951 (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) by herself and other students of the Ascended Masters, after she received what was believed to be an Anointing to become a Messenger for the Great White Brotherhood in 1944. The Bridge to Freedom believes that its teachings have been transmitted to humanity by various Ascended Masters of the Great White Brotherhood.
Geraldine Innocente claimed to be a Messenger for the Ascended Masters and the Cosmic Hierarchy during the limited dispensation of The Bridge to Freedom Activity. The co-founder of that organization was her mother, Mary Innocente, who Ascended on March 7, 1960, becoming the Ascended Lady Master Dawn. Her father, Gus Innocente, it is claimed, had been previously embodied as the one who helped Jesus to carry His cross Simon of Cyrene).
Mrs. Mary Innocente had a small group affiliated with The "I AM" Activity in the 1940's on Long Island, New York. One night in 1944, while Geraldine was sitting with her mother in front of the fireplace in their home, Ascended Master El Morya came into the room and asked her to make a certain application on a daily basis.
One year later, He returned asking if she would consent to receive a series of Discourses from the Maha Chohan. She agreed, and underwent years of training in preparation for her role in the 1950's. She and another group of "I AM" students broke off from that movement and started the Bridge to Freedom.
Geraldine officially served in the capacity of Messenger in The Bridge to Freedom Activity from the inaugural Vesta Dictation on July 17, 1951 until her death on June 21, 1961. Geraldine Innocente Ascended within hours of the passing from her physical body,  which resulted from an accidental overdose of medications that she was taking for a health condition.
There are claims that she has Ascended and become One with the Mighty I AM Presence in the Victory of the Ascension, a Lady Master and part of the Ascended Hosts of Light.

Jacob L Watson: According to the biography on, Rev. Dr. Jacob L. Watson is the co-founder and director of the Aquarian Christine Church Universal, Inc.(ACCU), which is based on "The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ" transcribed by Levi Dowling and on certain mysteriously uncovered Tibetan Buddhist scriptures recorded by Notovich, Swami Abhedananda and Nicolas Roerich, that record the travels of Jesus from ages 13-29 through the modern-day countries of India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Greece. (Please refer to my article entitled “The early years of Jesus".) The Tibetan manuscripts are all found in the book "The Lost Years of Jesus," published by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Many of the teachings of the church are Theosophical in nature and are similar to the "I AM", Ascended Master Teachings of Guy Ballard. Some important teachings are: the immortality of the Spirit which is Divine and known as the I AM Presence; the femininity of the Holy Spirit, the Mother God; karma; good and bad vibrations; reincarnation and the ability to escape the wheel of re-embodiment through the Ascension Process; and the belief in the existence of life on other planets, the Manifestation of Christ to other worlds throughout the Universe, the Triune God, Ascended Masters, the Seven Elohim, Angels and Archangels.
The church website is

A D K Luk (Alice Schutz) was a dedicated Ascended Master disciple and had access to a host of materials since she was the Bridge to Freedom Bulletin Secretary. She undertook responsibility for material that was to be given to Mankind.
The books were written as they were given, to keep pure the Instruction and Education given by the Ascended Masters and Divine Beings. Nothing has been altered, added, deleted, or interpreted, so that the Message of these Great Ones achieves its original purpose. All dictations (addresses, instruction, letters) in these books consist of vital Points of Truth given through the Messenger Geraldine Innocente.
Schutz was an early follower of the "I AM" Activity. Along with Guy and Edna Ballard, she travelled throughout the United States. Alice helped compile the first Fundamentals of the "I AM Activity".
After the death of Guy Ballard, in 1939, this organization took new directions. Several key students, including Geraldine Innocente, her mother, Mary Lehane Innocente, Mrs Frances Ekey, Roger Ancona and Alice Schulz, left the I AM Activity and founded The Bridge to Freedom.
Alice Schultz became Bridge to Freedom's secretary, working in Geraldine's home. The Masters gave the messages to Geraldine Innocente, usually starting at 4 am. The messages were recorded on a tape recorder. Alice transcribed the text messages and sent them to Frances Ekey, the deputy editor of Bridge to Freedom.
In 1959, Alice Schultz began publishing what became known as the "Law of Life" books, in an attempt to combine the earlier Teachings of the "I AM" Activity and the Teachings of "The Bridge to Freedom." in an understandable format: she used the pseudonym A.D.K. Luk.
Much of the information in the Law of Life books came from Ballard’s notes and the knowledge he gained.  (Edna Ballard told the students not to pay attention to a new group that was forming, which would later be known as "The Bridge to Freedom.") Alice then received a letter asking her to join this new effort which was to bring even more information to the people. "The Bridge to Freedom" was in effect from 1952 to 1961. It was during this time that ADK Luk first published Book I of the Law of Life.
Frances Ekey was a former I AM Activity leader who left to join the Innocentes' Bridge to Freedom in which she was a prominent member. It was there that she formed an alliance with Mark Prophet, who had already begun receiving messages known as ‘dictations’ from ascended masters, to found the Lighthouse of Freedom, which soon became the Summit Lighthouse, which, in turn developed into the Church Universal and Triumphant. After founding TSL in 1958, Mark Prophet split with Ekey who then re-established the Lighthouse of Freedom to offer classes disseminating the teachings of ancient masters.
Lucille Cedarcrans (1921–1984) was, according to Wikipedia, an esoteric mystic apparently influenced by ecumenical Gnostic  theism, particularly (neo-)Theosophy. However, she stated that the source of her writings was the result of a meditative state that put her in rapport with her teacher, whom she referred to as the Master R.
Most of her writings were stated to be written not from her own consciousness but were psychically or spiritually 'impressed' on her by her teacher. Her writings have been compared to those of Alice A. Bailey with which they have much in common, so much so that some accused her of plagiarism. However, her biography claims that she did not read or have knowledge of esoteric subjects and only began to familiarize herself with them after about 1953. Apparently, she did not study Theosophy or Alice A. Bailey until much of her work was completed, her teacher having advised against it.
A dialogue between Michael Robbins and Lyn Hebenstreit, exploring differences between the teachings of Alice A. Baily and Lucille Cedercrans can be found at Both students are well known in the esoteric community for their specialisation in these two systems respectively. Michael is more pro Bailey, whilst Lyn uses both Bailey and Cedercrans.
‘Lucille Cedercrans travelled extensively, developing and moving from one group centre to another in response to an inner call. She would throw her things into suitcases, ask someone to send on her papers, and rush off. This mobility and continual movement was, in part, by design. Lucille's intent was not to form an organization and have her work become an institution’ (Wisdom Impressions). 
However, her work interested enough people that the Wisdom Impressions ‘institution', or group of Perennial Philosophers, such as Theosophists, focused on publishing her work, still exists; so do others and people that refer to her texts in their work.
Most people know Lucille Cedarcrans as the author of meditation resources such as “The Nature of the Soul”, “The Soul and Its Instrument”, or “Corrective/Creative Thinking”. Developed from 1948 to 1963, her work is called the New Thoughtform Presentation of the Wisdom (NTFPW). Using her Soul-Mind-Brain Alignment, Lucille Cedercrans brought through a new Thoughtform Presentation of the Wisdom from the Overshadowing Spiritual Soul into a series of teachings. Creative Thinking is one of those series. Creative Thinking provides the information and the practical techniques that enable us to become nurtured by the Soul and to transform ourselves into the creative beings that we are meant to be. In the early 1970s she began to shift her focus to Tibetan Buddhism, which she was authorised to teach until her death in 1984.

Dane Rudhyar (Daniel Chennevière) was born in Paris on March 23, 1895. At the age of 12, a severe illness and surgery disabled him, and he turned to music and intellectual development to compensate for his lack of physical agility. He studied at the Sorbonne, (graduating at the age of 16), and at the Paris Conservatoire. His early ventures into philosophy and his association with the artistic community in Paris led to his conviction that all existence is cyclical in character. Influenced by Nietzsche as a youth, Rudhyar envisioned himself as a "seed man" of new age cultural evolution.
In November 1916, Rudhyar's music brought him to New York City, where he met Sasaki Roshi, one of the early Japanese Zen teachers in America, who led him in the study of Oriental philosophy and occultism. During this period from 1917 to 1919, spent partly in New York City, partly in Canada, and partly in Philadelphia he adopted the name "Rudhyar" an amalgam of several attractive Sanskrit words including the name of the god Rudra. His interest was further stimulated by his association with Theosophy, particularly with the independent Theosophist Will Levington Comfort who introduced Rudhyar to Marc Edmund Jones, who in turn introduced him to astrology.
Rudhyar learned astrology during a period when he was also studying the psychological writings of Carl Gustav Jung, and he began to think in terms of bringing astrology and Jungian psychology together. Rudhyar also cites Jan Smuts' book “Holism and Evolution” as an influence.  Rudhyar postulated that the stars did not cause the effects seen in human life but were pictures synchronistically aligned to human beings. They detailed psychological forces working in individuals, but did not override human freedom in responding to those forces, he said. At first he called his new interpretation "harmonic astrology" and as the ideas matured renamed it "humanistic astrology," the subject of his monumental volume, “The Astrology of Personality”, published in 1936. He was encouraged to pursue the development of his thought on humanistic astrology by Alice Bailey who published his book on her press, Lucis Publishing. His initial writings were regular articles in Paul Clancy's magazine “American Astrology” and Grant Lewi's “Horoscope Magazine”.
Rudhyar was a prolific writer and the website promises that “the best and most important of Dane Rudhyar's lifelong work will be made freely available.” The article “Traditions and Illusions" is well worth a read.
Rudhyar’s importance as a philosopher and astrologer is primarily his integration of theosophy and depth psychology into twentieth century astrology. He maintained it was possible to combine the literalism of theosophy with the symbolism of Jungian psychology. A generation after his death in California in 1985 his ideas are as relevant as ever as we face the new challenges of the twenty first century.

Gerald Massey was a believer in spiritual evolution; he opined that Darwin's theory of evolution was incomplete without spiritualism:
“The theory contains only one half the explanation of man's origins and needs spiritualism to carry it through and complete it. For while this ascent on the physical side has been progressing through myriads of ages, the Divine descent has also been going on – man being spiritually an incarnation from the Divine as well as a human development from the animal creation. The cause of the development is spiritual. Mr. Darwin's theory does not in the least militate against ours – we think it necessitates it; he simply does not deal with our side of the subject. He can not go lower than the dust of the earth for the matter of life; and for us, the main interest of our origin must lie in the spiritual domain.” (“Concerning evolution”)

Rene Guenon (1886-1951) was a French metaphysician, writer, and editor who was largely responsible for laying the metaphysical groundwork for the Traditionalist or Perennialist school of thought in the early twentieth century. Guénon remains influential today for his writings on the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of the modern world, on symbolism, on spiritual esotericism and initiation, and on the universal truths that manifest themselves in various forms in the world’s religious traditions. His writings on Hinduism and Taoism are particularly illuminating in this latter regard.
In June, 1909 Guénon founded the occultist journal “La Gnose”. It lasted a little over two years and carried most of Guénon’s writings from this period. There have been suggestions that during this period Guénon received either a Taoist or an Islamic initiation, or both. It has also been suggested that the “catalyzing element” was Guénon’s contact with representatives of the Advaita school of Vedanta. It was during this period that he embarked on a serious study of the doctrines of Taoism, Hinduism, and perhaps Islam. (
Guénon affirmed that all the major historical religions are exoteric expressions, adapted to the particular circumstances of the societies that received them, of a single hidden (esoteric) metaphysical Tradition known only to initiates who constitute, or who in what Guénon would call a 'normal' society would constitute, an intellectual elite. Guénon wrote extensively about Hinduism but he himself became a Muslim. In ‘the West’ he recognised Roman Catholicism and, at least in some of its manifestations, Freemasonry as authentic religious traditions but nonetheless believed that the connection with the original esoteric Tradition was lost almost to the point where it could not be recovered.
René Guénon has been a controversial figure, exercising great influence on such scholars of comparative religion as Huston Smith and philosophers including Frithjof Schuon. The whole idea of being “spiritual, but not religious” might be seen as a result of his work, though he probably would have disapproved.

Huston Cummings Smith (1919 – 2016) authored at least thirteen books on world's religions and philosophy, and his book about comparative religion, “The World's Religions” had sold over three million copies as of 2017.
During his career, Smith studied Vedanta (studying under Swami Satprakashananda, founder of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis), Zen Buddhism (studying under Goto Zuigan), and Sufism for more than ten years each.
As a young man, Smith suddenly turned from traditional Methodist Christianity to mysticism, influenced by the writings of Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard who advised him to contact Swami Satprakashananda once he settled in St. Louis. So began Smith's experimentation with meditation and association with the Vedanta Societies of the Ramakrishna Order. Smith developed an interest in the Traditionalist School formulated by René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon and Ananda Coomaraswamy. Smith went on to meet Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), and others at the Center for Personality Research, where Leary was research professor. The group began experimenting with psychedelics and what Smith later called "empirical metaphysics". The experience and history of the group are described in Smith's book “Cleansing the Doors of Perception”. During this period, Smith was also part of the Harvard Psilocybin Project, an attempt to raise spiritual awareness through entheogenic plants. (Entheogens are psychoactive substances that induce alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behaviour for the purposes of engendering spiritual development or otherwise in sacred contexts.)
Smith was a practising Christian, with a Vedantic understanding, whose life long commitment was to bring the world’s religions together to promote understanding, social justice and peace.

Frithjof Schuon is best known as the foremost spokesman of the religio perennis and as a philosopher in the metaphysical current of Shankara and Plato. Basically, religio perensis is the "eternal religion", known as Sanatana Dharma to the Hindu Vedantists. It was put together in the West, in particular, by Plato and Meister Eckhart amongst others, and can also to be found in Islam with Sufism. According to Schuon, every religion has, besides its literal meaning, an esoteric dimension, which is essential, primordial and universal, and it gives rise to many fascinating insights into not only the various spiritual traditions, but also history, science and art.
According to, during the last three years of his life Frithjof Schuon wrote approximately 3,500 short poems in his mother tongue German. These poems, which have been called “metaphysical music,” cover every possible aspect of spiritual doctrine, practice and virtue, as well as the role and function of beauty. They express every conceivable subtlety of spiritual and moral counsel with detail and precision. One such is reproduced here:
Maya is radiation from Atma,
For Atma radiates: It is the Highest Light.
In Maya lie the cycles of the worlds -
But they are illusions, they touch not Atma.

Worlds and cycles arise and vanish -
Before Atma's reality nothing endures.
What you experience of places, times and things
Is but a dream. This is the doctrine in few words.

However, O man: from Atma fell a spark
Mysteriously into the stream of thy Heart.
Thy deepest depth is not blinded by Maya -
It is none other than Atma.
Shanti Om.

Jacob Boehme (1575 – 1624) was a German philosopher, Christian mystic, and Lutheran Protestant theologian. He was considered an original thinker by many of his contemporaries within the Lutheran tradition, and his first book, commonly known as “Aurora”, caused a great scandal.
Boehme had a number of mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision in 1600 as one day he focused his attention onto the exquisite beauty of a beam of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between God and man, and good and evil. At the time he chose not to speak of this experience openly, preferring instead to continue his work and raise a family. In 1610 Böhme experienced another inner vision in which he further understood the unity of the cosmos and that he had received a special vocation from God.
Boehme was a prolific author whose writing shows the influence of Neo-platonism and alchemical writers, and his views greatly influenced many anti-authoritarian and Christian mystical movements, such as the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Philadelphians, the Gichtelians, the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness (led by Johannes Kelpius), the Ephrata Cloister, the Harmony Society, Martinism, and Christian theosophy.
Böhme’s treatises were mostly Gnostic and kabbalistic in nature. His concepts often reflected Eastern spiritual concepts that were not widely known in Germany at the time. Böhme began with a radical rethink of the traditional Judeo-Christian God. He threw out the traditional picture of a guy with a beard and long robes in favour of an abstract, formless deity. 
Prior to the creation of man, Böhme wrote, God was an undifferentiated single unity defined by the absence of everything else — the Abyss, or “Ungrund”. Creation was the result of the Ungrund dividing from its state of original unity — a proposition completely familiar to Taoists but foreign and offensive to Böhme’s fellow Lutherans. 
Even more controversially, Böhme argued that God could not be omniscient and omnipotent, since He was eternal and unique. “He knows no beginning, and also nothing like Himself, and also no end,” Böhme wrote, arguing that God created man in His own image so that He could learn about Himself. 

Elizabeth van Buren (1922 – 2011) Visionary writer of allegorical and historical commentary novels and documentary books concerning The Rennes-le-Chateau Mysteries, Illuminati, White Brotherhood, Christ and Man's destiny. She was also well known for her philanthropic work setting up schools and orphanages in South America with her travelling companion and clairvoyante Marie Allen. Elizabeth van Buren foretold of the refugee crisis and global earth changes almost twenty years in advance and clairvoyantly predicted the mass arrival of benevolent off-world beings in Western Europe within 50 years of her passing (2011). She had personal contact with many world famous personalities, celebrities and writers on religious and spiritual subjects.

Geoffrey Hodson (1886 – 1983) was an occultist, Theosophist, Co-Freemason, mystic, Liberal Catholic priest, philosopher and esotericist, and a leading light for over 70 years in the Theosophical Society. Hodson was the author more than 50 books on spirituality, many being still in print. He wrote on psychic powers, Theosophy, Spiritualism, mysticism, fairies, angels, meditation, clairvoyance, health and disease.
Hodson was a spiritual light-bringer to humanity who passed through the world during our time. His full significance was overlooked by many because he refused to allow himself to be the focus of a personality cult, presenting a profound humility, and putting himself at the service of others. His inner yogic practices and service to the world rapidly brought him under the direct inspiration and guidance of Adept and Archangelic teachers of the human race.
Hodson modestly referred to himself as a “student of Theosophy” which, in its purest form, he saw as an important means whereby human-kind can save itself from itself. He devoted most of his life to exploring and teaching this perennial philosophy and used his other abilities to support that ideal. Unlike most of his contemporaries who only had partial, theoretical, or incomplete experience of theosophical realities, he had actually realized these great perennial truths and had applied them effectively in his own life. Yet, he carried that insight with the humility and reserve that befits a genuine teacher - refusing to flaunt his own personality - whilst quietly and systematically spreading the truth as he saw it and ever responding to requests to teach, help, and heal others.
He also wrote over two hundred articles and radio talks and travelled the world lecturing for the Theosophical Society and was awarded the Subba Row Gold Medal in 1954 for his contributions to Theosophical literature.
There are also several posthumous publications, such as “Light of The Sanctuary”: other books published based on his notes and diaries were; “Yogic Ascent to Spiritual Heights”, and “Illuminations of the Mystery Traditions”.

Karl von Eckartshausen (1752 – 1803) was a German Catholic mystic, author, and philosopher. He was the author of “The Cloud upon the Sanctuary”, a work of Christian mysticism which was later taken up by occultists. Translated into English by Isabelle de Steiger, the book was given a high status in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, particularly by Arthur Edward Waite (most famous for his collaboration with artist Pamela Colman Smith, on the Rider Waite Tarot deck, the most popular in use today) and influenced Aleister Crowley the noted ceremonial magician.
Apart from "The Cloud upon the Sanctuary”, Eckartshausen is a name only to the Christian Transcendentalists of England. He wrote much, and at his period and in his place, he exercised some considerable influence. However, his other works are practically unknown in modern times, while in Germany the majority at least seem forgotten, even among the special class to which some of them might be assumed to appeal. "The Cloud upon the Sanctuary" has always remained in the memory of a few, and is destined still to survive, for it carries with it a message of very deep significance to all those who look beneath the body of religious doctrine for the one principle of life which energizes the whole organism. This work, “The Cloud upon the Sanctuary”, is Christian mysticism veiled in hermetic code.
Eckhartshausen was briefly a member of the Bavarian Illuminati, but left for “spiritual” reasons. He cryptically mentions a "society of the Elect" which has existed from the very beginning of time, "the invisible celestial Church." He predicted that "it is the society whose members form a theocratic republic, which one day will be the Regent Mother of the whole World."

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