Updated: Oct 9, 2022
By: A. W. Finnegan
The following is a book review of John Patrick Deveney's biography of the 19th century occultist and spiritualist, Paschal Beverly Randolph. This is the most definitive and comprehensive works available on Paschal B. Randolph. It looks at his entire life in as much depth as is possible, although due to the limited amount of records available, it has some limitation, though not necessarily on the author's behalf.
For those unaware, Pascal Beverly Randolph was and obscure occultist who lived in the 1800s and added great depth to the occult revival of the 19th century. Randolph was a man of mixed ethnicities, part African American, with Caucasian and possibly Native American heritage as well. The author begins with the preface, where Randolph may be best described:
Paschal Beverly Randolph was an author, well thought of in his prime in the 1860s. He was also an American black man, with all of the problems associated with that fact in the decades surrounding the Civil War. If this were all, he would be entitled to the obligatory footnote in works of African-American history and little more—though in fact he has been denied even this token recognition and has been totally ignored by all but occult historians, probably because Randolph was first, foremost, and above all a visionary, a man as much at home in the realms of the spiritual world as he was in the world of everyday life, and he was markedly eccentric as a consequence.
In occult circles, where his name and works continue to be known, Randolph has become more of a myth than a man, the subject of much misinformation and vast conspiratorial theories. From the early 1860s on he was "The Rosicrucian," associated in the popular mind with crystal gazing, drugs (especially hashish), secret Oriental brotherhoods, and sex. He was infatuated with women from his earliest years, and also spent most of his mature life trying to improve the lot of women trapped in Victorian marriages by teaching his notions of true sexuality. Beyond this, however, and fundamentally he was a practical occultist and a sexual magician, with a coherent and imaginative view of the universal role of sexuality. His work stands out strongly from the antiquarian compilations of the armchair occult theoreticians of the era and from the secondhand platitudes of the spiritualist movement from which he emerged. He was the forerunner of modem occultism and it was to him more than to anyone else that the transformation of the occult world from the 1870s through the 1890s is due.
Chapter 01. Early Years
Randolph was born an illegitimate child and he claimed that his true father was a man named William Randolph, who was a relative of the famous John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia, a founding father of the United States of America. The father left them when he was young, and Paschal grew up in the slums of New York City, losing his mother at an early age, however, not before her having exposed young Randolph to the paranormal and supernatural:
His earliest memories were of the death of his mother in the almshouse of Bellevue Hospital during the worldwide cholera epidemic of 1831 and 1832. The family had been taken there when Flora contracted smallpox, and young Randolph apparently spent a considerable period in the "large, sombre and gloomy old stone house on Manhattan island."'' He says of his mother that, unappreciated and unloved, she "fell back into herself, and then, with every tendril of her soul, turned and yearned toward the teeming millions of the dead" and became a seeress.13 He describes in pathetic tones his life as a little boy in the almshouse, playing with the ghosts in the attic and trying to sleep while the spirits pulled down his sheets and made noises like the sound of cannon balls rolling in the garret.'4
Randolph claims that the early death of his mother made him a medium and a genius, but with many eccentricities, angularities, and character defects. He often called himself the man with two souls, and according to others describing Randolph, he seemed to change from moment to moment, as though he had different people residing in him. He lived in utter poverty on the streets of New York as a boy, and this was followed by him shipping as a cabin boy abord the ship Phoebe that traveled from New England to Cuba. He was bullied and treated very badly in this line of work and eventually was able to get himself out of the job and miserable situation he was in after some kind accident chopping wood.
He learned a few other trades like the barber and dyer, but he had little schooling and learned to read and write on the streets on his own initiative, “One year’s schooling only fell to his lot. He taught himself to read- his primers were the posters in the streets, his copybooks the fences, his pen a bit of chalk!”
The Black Man
One challenge Randolph faced growing up was the color of his skin, for he was a black man, with ancestry on his mother’s side from Madagascar, and it was not an easy road for Randolph. Being a voice for abolitionists was among the battles he sought to lend a voice and participation. He gained a few patrons like Gerrit Smith, William Lloyd Garrison, and Henry Ward Beecher, and Randolph was able to spend time educating freed slaves in the last few years of the civil war.
Upstate New York, Spiritualism and Free Love
After leaving the shipping trade travelling at sea, Randolph relocated to Upstate New York around 1845. It appears that Randolph was able to move to Upstate New York with the help of Gerrit Smith, one of the richest men in America at the time and the largest single landowner in New York State, and he helped to settle poor urban blacks on parcels of the land. In 1852 Randolph was working as a Barber in Utica proclaiming himself the “barber orator” and by the following year he made the transformation listed in the Utica City Directory as “Dr. Paschal Beverly Randolph, clairvoyant physician and psycho-phrenologist.”
He married a Mary Jane, who is described as “an Indian woman, descended from a long line of native ‘Medicine Men.’” By 1860 they had three children, Jacob, Winnie, and Cora Virginia, and only Cora Virginia survived to adulthood. Unfortunately, Winnie is said to have died of hunger due to what was described by Randolph as the result of betrayal by a friend, and it appears that Mary Jane and he separated at some time by the 1860s which Randolph blamed radicalism, probably from the free love movement within modern spiritualism. For Upstate New York at the time was a hotbed of spiritualism in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Randolph dove headfirst into spiritualism early on, and later Randolph would detest and denounce the movement.
Free Love was a movement that found itself constantly associated with the spiritualism movement, and it often tainted the image of spiritualism to be associated with unrestrained sexual excess and orgies, though not all spiritualist movements were Free Lovers, most Free Lovers were spiritualists, Deveney says of Free Love and the following:
Spiritualism also provided a special role for women and had a special attraction for them, perhaps because mediumship provided an accept able public forum for them in a restrictive world and, in trance speaking, allowed untrammeled freedom, largely without accountability. Radical views on feminism, sex, and marriage reform abounded even before the appearance of spiritualism, but these doctrines were enthusiastically received within the new movement and spiritualists by and large were agreed that marriage as currently understood was merely institutionalized oppression of women? One consequence of this was the common perception in the days before the American Civil War that free love was a necessary corollary of spiritualism. While not all spiritualists were free lovers, it is probably fair to say that most free lovers were spiritualists." The controversy over free love haunted Randolph all his life.
Free love, as the term was thought of in the decades surrounding the Civil War, was a complex phenomenon in which opinions ranged all the way from emphasis on "individual sovereignty" and simple opposition to "marriage-slavery" and the denial of women's rights, through Fourierist theories of "passional attraction," all the way to sublime ideas on eternally paired souls, originally created by God as twins and destined by him only for each other. At the far end of the spectrum were the outright and frank libertines, such as Moses Hull and Steven Pearl Andrews—both of whom, as we shall see, crossed Randolph's path. Most of free love's proponents, who were generally earnest and rather humorless reformers with inherently rigorous New England consciences and senses of morality, emphasized the feminist issues, while its opponents focused upon mate swapping and bacchanals.
Randolph’s later rejection of many of these spiritualism circles often spoke with disdain about many of the popular spiritualists and those in the free love communities, speaking of unrestrained sexual excesses and abuse.
John Murray Speer
John Murray Speer (1804-1887) was a spiritualist who had a lot of influence on Randolph in his early days of spiritualism and was quite active in spiritualism in the 1850s. An eccentric man and at times described as outright bizarre, he was a former minister and turned to spiritualism. He envisioned a community under the direction of spirits and eventually started a community building some machine that he thought would revolutionize the whole world. They called it “The New Motive Power.”
Randolph was not part of this community and project, but it is what John Murray Speer became most known for and had overtones of sex magic and rumors of what could only be described as a most bizarre project and machine, Deveny writes the following:
The fascination of the perpetual-motion fiasco lies in Spear's views on sex. He appears to have had from his spirit guides a general view that everything in the universe was sexually polarized, male and female, and that human sexuality and the human sexual union were but limited particularization of this universal sexuality. With regard to his wonderful machine, Spear was convinced that for it to become "alive" and imbued with the necessary "love element" it would have to be begotten or impregnated and then born in ways analogous to human creation and birth.
When Randolph later recanted spiritualism, he especially rejected that of Speer, and Speer himself found himself blacklisted in the spiritualism movement at one point. Randolph said the following in his later recantation of spiritualism:
I met John M. Spear, and he filled my brain with some important mission which he said I had to perform. He made me believe that everything in society was corrupt and wrong. I swallowed those ideas, and believed that I had a great work to do on earth. I discovered that my wife was not my affinity I went round the country preaching my scandalous impressions. I was crazy; these ideas of radical reform made me mad. This was four or five years ago (1855/1854 I went to Europe, carrying my insanity with me, and I came in contact with no one who thought as I did; and by meeting so many with sane minds, I was finally magnetized back to sanity and returned home in a normal condition. And I became conscious that radicalism was abnormal, and its tendency was to degrade the race. It was then I said that I would abjure all radicalism, and would flee from the hell into which I had fallen.
I returned to my family again, and since that time my home has been a heaven to me."
Randolph the Spiritualist
Randolph began moving as a trance speaker within the spiritualist circles when he began calling himself a barber orator. His trance speaking was activity was described as though Randolph was all over the place, changing abruptly in personality as different ‘spirits’ took control of him, and this kind of eccentric and angular behaviors seemed to follow him his entire life. He was described in his own words, being like that of his mother, often quite pronounced by extremes of mood constant ups and downs.
Randolph also talked in his later recantation of spiritualism that after so much time in trance speaking and mediumship he had not control over his own mind and the spirits more or less had their way with him.
Randolph’s Medical Specialty: Sex
Randolph’s involvement with medicine and what at that time would have been called today alternative medicine, natural cures, and the like, was often on the notion that the disease resides in dysfunction or misuse of the sexual energy, and also of the harmonies and disharmonies frequented by those in marriage or relationships. This was the basis of much of what Randolph focused on in medicine.
Chapter 02. Randolph Abroad: 1855-1858
The World Convention of 1855
This was a spiritualist convention in England that Randolph travelled to attend, along with many others in the spiritualism movement. This was at a time when Randolph was promoting Speer’s message and was to give a lecture there on it, but he was ignored and not allowed to deliver it. He then left for Paris, France soon after.
English Occultism and Spiritualism in the Mid-1850s
In the first visit to England Randolph became acquainted with many occultists of England and was well-received. Some of those mentioned being Hargrave Jennings and Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
This section talks about the crystal and mirror-seeing practices Randolph came to embrace in his later magic. This was a popular aspect of occult practice at the time.
Emma Hardinge Britten's World
Emma Hardinge Britten was a famous spiritualist from Britain who became a medium at an early age and participated in many spiritualism activities, and was even one of the original founding six members of The Theosophical Society with Helena Blavastky until they had a falling out. She became involved with a magical group or order in London when she was growing up which she later nicknamed the “Orphic Circle.” Her involvement with the early days of spiritualism and occultism in general lend considerable credit to Emma Hardinge Britten being one of the founders of modern occultism with Paschal Beverly Randolph and Helena Blavatsky. She wrote fictional accounts of the occult activities within occult circles in several works like Ghost Land (1876) and Art Magic (1876). She was a fierce opponent of the Free Love movement and tried to separate it from the spiritualist movement.
Randolph and the British Spiritualists and Mirror Magicians
This section mentions the many English occultists that Randolph associated with or were contemporary magic mirror practitioners. Mentioned are Hargrave Jennings, Dr. Jacob Dixon, Thomas Shorter, Luke Burke, and a Bielfield. Many of these names believed and promoted the use of magic mirrors, crystal gazing, and drugs to bring on visions and clairvoyance.
The French Occult Milieu at Mid-Century
This talks about Randolph’s association with French occultists and his entrance into the circle of magnetizers behind Cahagnet and the Baron Dupotet in Paris. Because of abilities that Randolph had been demonstrating in other spiritualism circles, he was said to have been called to meet with Napolean III, to demonstrate his abilities in clairvoyance:
At length, there came in invitation from Baron D—t, for me to attend and take part in, a Mesmeric Séance. I attended; and from the reputation I gained on that occasion, but a few days elapsed ere I was summoned to the Tuilleries, by command of his majesty, Napoleon III, who for thirty-four years had been a True Rosicrucian, and whom I had before met at the same place, but on a different errand than the present. What then and there transpired, so far as myself was actor, it is not for me to say, further than that certain experiments in clairvoyance were regarded as very successful, even for Paris, which is the centre of the Mesmeric world, and where there are hundreds who will read you a book blindfold.
Mentioned is the Baron Denis Jules Dupotet de Sennevoy and Louis-Alphonse Cahagnet, notable magnetists and occultists from France. Eliphas Levi is also mentioned to be in Paris around the time of Randolph’s visiting, as well as Comte D’Ourches.
Return to America
After Randolph’s first European trip which probably extended only to England, France, and Germany, he was back in America before the end of 1855. He was lecturing around Boston, and many noted his eccentric and oftentimes erratic nature. He lectured also in Cleveland, Ohio, and announced plans to return to England.
Second European Trip: 1857
Randolph returned to London in early January of 1857 and attended the “Spirit-Power Circle” at Charing Cross, presenting the views of four spirit members of the Royal Circle. The Spirit-Power Circle was a recently formed body at that time that sponsored seances and spiritual exhibitions for the public free of charge. Several of Randolph’s trance activities are described here. He then travelled to the European continent and believed from there to have made a trip to the Far East. It is believed that on this trip he may have improved upon his familiarity with hashish and the development of clairvoyance. He began to use Oriental terms in his writings more frequently and somewhere along the way adopted the name “Ansairetic” to his occult teachings.
Chapter 03. The Fruits of Randolph's Travels in the 1850s
Randolph is back in the United States by March 1858, and began to work on material about the wisdom and teachings gained from his travels abroad.
In the fall of 1858, Randolph recanted spiritualism, and believed his mind was under the control of an evil spirit due to his having opened himself up as a medium to any and all spirits willing to talk through him. He said the following:
Once in my career, when for years I have been under the control of a power, strong almost as Fate, wicked as Sin itself, I was made to think, say and do things, against which, in the rare moments, when the good angel was in the ascendant, my soul protested; yet in vain. The vile power was as unrelenting as death, as persevering as the seasons.... For a time reason was aberrated, self-destruction attempted, and all the world looked black as night, nor should I now be here to warn others, had not Infinite Wisdom directed my steps to far off lands, in which, thank Him, the lost balance was to a great extent restored. The effects of this original folly—the yielding of the will to an unseen, unknown, unfathomed, invisible influence, are yet, at the end of long years, keenly felt.'
It appears that hashish played at least some roll in his recovery, as he had taken a “marvelous drug” called dowam meskh, which had as its main component hashish. Randolph had apparently tried a variety of drugs in the hope of finding something to bring better clairvoyance and such, and one such combination he tried was a salve consisting of opium, henbane, and belladonna. He was apparently using hashish regularly by the time he returned to America in 1858, and was a major importer of the drug, but soon Randolph seemed to lose enthusiasm for it and even denounced it:
Randolph's expressions of enthusiasm for hashish, however, waxed and waned over time. As with almost every other idea he ever took up, Randolph's positions on hashish and its value appear to change from year to year—and often even from edition to edition of his books, where earlier references to "hashish" are later replaced by "Fantasie" or omitted altogether." The drug becomes alternatively a dangerous and "pestilent thing"" and a wondrous guide to clairvoyance."
Hashish also may have been one of the main components for his homegrown medical treatments that he coined “phymylle” and “amylle” and may have also been the case for that he called “protozone.” Anyway, hashish played a major role in formulating some of Randolph’s esoteric teachings, especially in clairvoyance.
This section discusses Randolph’s attempt to clarify and instruct others on how to be truly clairvoyant. Randolph defines this in the following:
But, what is true clairvoyance? I reply, it is the ability, by self-effort or otherwise, to drop beneath the floors of the outer world, and come up, as it were, upon the other side. We often see what we take to be sparks or flashes or light before us in the night; but they are not really what they seem, but are instantaneous penetrations of the veil that, pall-like, hangs between this outer world of Dark and Cold, and the inner realm of Light and Fire, in the midst of which it is embosomed, or, as it were, enshrouded; and true clairvoyance is the lengthened uplifting of that heavy pall.. .. [I]t is a rich and very valuable power, whose growth depends upon the due observance of the normal laws which underlie it. The price of power is obedience to law.... "What, then, is clairvoyance?" I reply: It is the LIGHT which the seer reaches sometimes through years of agony; by wading through oceans, as it were, of tears and blood; it is an interior unfoldment of native powers, culminating in somnambulic vision through the mesmeric processes, and the comprehension and application of the principles that underlie and overflow human nature and the physical universe, together with a knowledge of the principle of the vast spirit-sea whereon the worlds of space are cushioned?'
Randolph also discusses the difference between true clairvoyance and that of spiritualism. This section also looks at some of the various ways Randolph thought clairvoyance could be developed.
This section describes Randolph’s most endorsed methodology for producing clairvoyance and that is through the magic mirrors. It then goes through the different aspects of the magic mirror, which Randolph learned much about from his trips to the Near East.
Chapter 04. Randolph's Recantation of Spiritualism
This chapter details the misfortune Randolph experienced after his second trip to Europe and through Egypt in March 1858. He was living on a farm in Southbridge, New York, writing letters to Gerrit Smith to find a cause he could devote himself to in order to make money and survive.
The Utica Philanthropic Convention
In September 1858, Randolph attended and participated in the Philanthropic Convention at Utica, New York, put on by Andrew Jackson Davis to address “the cause and cure of evil” mixing spiritualism, reform, and abolition. Randolph did what he does best, letting his eccentric side shine and he offended the entire crowd by making enemies of several crowds. Many of them condemned Randolph in editorials of several prominent publications, and Randolph sent responses to each.
Recantation of Spiritualism
Through the years Randolph had become increasingly disillusioned with spiritualism and its excesses. He notes himself as an example, spending most of the time in and out of the trance state and at the mercy of spirits. He had at one point tried to commit suicide but survived. He credits his foreign travels, hashish, and a conversion to Christianity for his return to sanity:
The result of my illness was, that I became convinced that however scientific Spiritualism ... might do to live by, it would never do to die by. The anti-Bible, anti-God, anti-Christian Spiritualism I had perfectly demonstrated to be subversive, unrighteous, destructive, disorderly and irreligious; consequently to be shunned by every true follower of God and Holiness. I had not for ten years seen a happy day prior to my conversion. In the extremity of my woe, I called on spirits for aid, but no spirits came to my assistance. Reduced to the verge of horror and despair, I called on that God whom I had, in the insolent pride of intellect, so often derided. I believed my prayer was answered, my understanding opened, my body healed, reason restored, mind comforted, and my trembling feet set, as I believe, on the Eternal Rock of Ages."
At this stage Randolph took to lecture circuits to denounce spiritualism and the crowd he had come to know over the years. He was one of several at the time denouncing spiritualism. The Utica Convention was one of the occasions he took to denounce spiritualism, rejecting Andrew Jackson Davis and his idea that there was no true force of evil and that evil was just immature spirits. Randolph gave his official recantation speech in November of 1858, to large audiences at Clinton Hall in New York City. He singled out the Free Love movement and its sexual excesses run amok. He also sought refuge in the temperance movement, which sought abstinence from, or at least great moderation to the consumption of alcohol.
Randolph continued seeking out a cause to devote himself to and turned to the help of Gerrit Smith, a radical abolitionist who helped to settle poor urban blacks to farms in upstate New York. Randolph found land on this farm from Smith, and when he was in a bind, he attempted to sell the land and found himself in even more trouble than before. It was in this time period that the death of his daughter Winnie occurred, which Randolph attributes to some betrayal, which appears to implicate Smith at least partially.
He gave up lecturing in March 1860 to become an attache of the “New England Healing Institute” in Boston, and was practicing medicine on his own by the following November. Before this he had written his pamphlet on clairvoyance, magic mirrors, and hashish, as well as The Unveiling: or What I Think of Spiritualism.
Chapter 05. Dealings with the Dead: The Mature Visionary
In 1862, Randolph published his Magnum Opus work in Dealings with the Dead; The Human Soul, its Migrations and Transmigrations. This book is partly responsible for the transforming naïve American Spiritualism to Occultism. A book review of this work can be seen on this website at Book Review: Dealings with the Dead by Paschal Beverly Randolph.
Cosmology and Soul Monads
Randolph’s cosmology in Dealings with the Dead still bears some his early influence by Andrew Jackson Davis, but certainly Randolph made them his own, and matured the vision fully, explaining the All “more glorious than a Seraph might tell.” He explains the Over-Soul and the idea of the soul monads, being individual expressions of the All, the soul-germs of immortal beings, sparks from God itself. The non-terrestrial beings forming a hierarchy in seven forms:
1. Spirits – Angels;
This towering hierarchy forms the supernal Heaven, their number infinite, clothed in the subtle all-pervasive fluid which Randolph designates the “Æth.” He describes the process of the soul monads in their very lengthy journey and evolution to become immortal human souls.
Soul and Spirit
Randolph clearly distinguishes between the soul and the spirit in Dealings with the Dead, as well as the spirit world and the soul world. Man is designated a triplicate being, made of body, spirit, and soul. Soul is the highest principle. Each man’s total being is its own miniature universe. Randolph’s cosmological framework does not include the doctrine of reincarnation but instead transmigration, that we only live on earth in human form once and remain one human. He speaks of a labyrinthine series of worlds which spirits try to work out their passage to the soul world. He talks about the realm that the spirit mediums are reaching are spirits trapped in the middle state and are often troubled spirits bordering on the vampiric or demonic. Randolph did believe in the existence of an evil force at work in the world and in the spirit worlds. He makes the case that spiritualism had a purpose to help demonstrate the possibility of immortality at the very least.
Beginnings of Practical Occultism
Spiritualism up to that point was a passive and speculative phenomenon, it did not do much for the progress of the individual, and often came with serious drawbacks, and conflicting information. Randolph introduced more practical means such as the magic mirror and certain drugs to produce conscious clairvoyance. He was the first of his times to introduce means and methods for the average person to produce the states of the “seers.”
Randolph advocates that the success in all spiritual development and occult practice is dependent on the Will more than the intellect, and thus his motto became “Try:”
Try! the Soul groweth tall and comely, and waxeth powerful and strong only as it utteth forth its Will! Mankind are of seven great orders: the last and greatest are the Genii of the Earth, the Children of the Star-beam, the Inheritors of the Temple. Weak ones can never enter its vestibules; but only those who Try, and trying for a time, at length, become victors and enter in. Man fails because of feeble, sleeping, idle Will—succeeds, because he wakes it up and ever keeps it wakeful.
It was the Will that would bring man to conscious clairvoyance and intuitive powers.
Once a person reached conscious clairvoyance, he could communicate with the hierarchy of the evolved beings from the celestial realms and beyond through a process he called “blending.” He differentiated between this process and the passive one typically practiced by so-called “mediums.”
Randolph first experiences this state when a late friend Cynthia connects with him after her death and tells of what she experienced through him, while Randolph was still fully conscious and aware of himself, but with the addition of Cynthia, thus the two blending together. Randolph did mention the dangers of one form of this blending in which he called Atrilism in his later 1873 book The New Mola, where the person could be completely taken over by another spirit or entity.
Practice and Blending
Dealings with the Dead was Randolph’s vision for the communication with the celestial hierarchies, reaching clairvoyance, and developing the Will for practical occultism. To become receptive and place oneself in rapport with his or her subjects in the manner described by Machiavelli. He also described that sex was an important part of the soul’s unfoldment, and especially love. These ideas would form the occult background for Randolph’s medical practice and views on health.
Chapter 06. The Rosicrucian
This chapter takes a look at Randolph’s claim to Rosicrucianism and his use of the pen name “The Rosicrucian.” It details the lack of correlation between Randolph’s system and the contemporary systems of Rosicrucianism, as well as those of antiquity. It also seeks to find any similarities. It seemed more so that Randolph used the convenient cloak of Rosicrucianism to ride the wave of its alluring mystery to promote his brand of spiritual enlightenment.
Randolph explained in his later work Eulis: The History of Love his use of the pen name The Rosicrucian and his connection to it in the following:
I became famous, but never popular. I studied Rosicrucianism, found it suggestive, and loved its mysticisms. So I called myself The Rosicrucian, and gave my thought to the world as Rosicrucian thought; and lo! the world greeted with loud applause what it supposed had its origin and birth elsewhere than in the soul of P. B. Randolph.
Very nearly all that I have given as Rosicrucianism originated in my soul; and scarce a single thought, only suggestions, have I borrowed from those who, in ages past, called themselves by that name - one which served me well as a vehicle wherein to take my mental treasures to a market, which gladly opened its doors to that name, but would, and did, slam to its portals in the face of the tawny student of Esoterics.... In proof of these statements, and of how I had to struggle, the world is challenged to find a line of my thought in the whole 4,000 books on Rosicrucianism; [or] among the brethren of that Fraternity.'
However, the author points out there are further underpinnings of Randolph’s works that make it more complex than simply cloaking his work with a brand of occultism that it wasn’t associated with.
Rosicrucians on Both Sides of the Grave
In Dealings with the Dead, Randolph talked about blending with an ancient Egyptian king named Thotmor, who he also calls Ramus. In it, Thotmor addresses Randolph’s intent to re-establish the Order of Rosicrucianism on earth, and how the true Rosicrucian ideal is alive and well in Randolph:
You aspire to comprehend the mighty secret of the TRINE. You seek to become an acolyte of the imperial order of the Rosy Cross, and to re-establish it upon the earth; and no TRUE ROSICRUCIAN dares shrink from attempting the solution of the mysteries and problems that human minds in heaven or on earth may conceive or propound. Our motto—the motto of the great order of which I was a brother on earth,—an order which has, under a variety of names, existed since the very dawn of civilization on the earth—is "Try."
Randolph asserted that Rosicrucians operated on both sides of the graves, that is, on the earthly plane, and from the celestial hierarchies. Randolph of course mixes with those Rosicrucians from the celestial hierarchies, evident in his books, but a solid connection to any flesh-and-blood Rosicrucian order is harder to establish.
This section takes a look at Randolph’s fictional story, The Wonderful Story of Ravalette, which the secret fraternity of the Rosicrucians and Rosicrucianism is a major theme. It is actually a story about Randolph and his travels to Europe and the East. There is a striking parallel between a deep trance the character falls into in the novel and that described by Randolph as a near death experience that brought about the encounter with Thotmor in Dealings with the Dead. In the novel it is relayed that he is constantly tempted by the powers of a shadow force, and that each time he turns the temptations down. Throughout the story Rosicrucianism is brought up and in it he says that he is among the initiates, but is not at liberty to tell about it.
History behind the Myth
Next the author takes us through some of the history behind the myths in his novels and claims to a Rosicrucian order. He talks about the fact that part of his travels to the East was about visiting the Grand Dome of the Rosicrucian Temple, study its doctrines, visit the brethren. The author then details out many of Randolph’s descriptions of his travels and that which he tells in the novels. The author also compares this to other occultists and spiritualists who talk about secret orders like it operating like the hidden hand of history.
Reuben Swinburne Clymer's Myths
R. Swinburne Clymer was said to be the great myth-maker about the life of Randolph, and the author says that most of it was totally bogus, an attempt by Clymer to create a cohesive story that would fit in with his own objectives to claim to be the True Rosicrucian lodge in America. Clymer was associated, far after Randolph’s death, with several groups only loosely connected as offshoots to some of those created by Randolph. This section takes a critical look at Clymer and what is claimed by the author as a pseudo-history serving Clymer’s interests.
Randolph's First Rosicrucian Foundations
The author next takes a deeper look at some of Randolph’s early attempts to establish Rosicrucian orders in America. It shows how little is available to ascertain much of anything left by the small amount of records from it, demonstrating very little to the claim of authenticity by Randolph, and even less for that of Clymer’s story.
The Orient, 1861-1862
This section looks at some of Randolph’s trips to the East, especially the Arabic and Oriental areas where he adopted many Oriental terms after his return. However, as the author points out, it is next to impossible to identify those he claims to have initiated him into the secrets of mysticism he claims from his stay there.
This final section of the chapter looks at Randolph’s notable work Pre-Adamite Man, which was put together very well and was part of the basis for his travels. The idea behind this book the author relays being the same as that of Hargrave Jennings:
In this last, he was undoubtedly prompted by the early books of Hargrave Jennings, "the Chief Rosicrucian of all England," and the monumental works of Godfrey Higgins, which had become a mainstay of fringe and occult thinkers and with which Randolph was familiar' Jennings, like so many antiquarians before him, had sifted classical literature, the Bible, and what was known through ongoing oriental researches, and had arrived at the conviction that the "Buddhists of Upper India" (of whom Melchizedek was a priest) had built the pyramids of Egypt and erected Stonehenge, Carnac, and all the other megalithic remains scattered throughout Europe and the Near East. All of the mythologies of the world were also their creation, originally unified and coherent and resting on the same principles. Randolph was fascinated by the task of reconstructing the wrecked original (especially the secret philosophy and practice) from its dismembered antediluvian fragments.
The author then takes us through some of the ideas in the book and what Randolph says in it. This is then tied back to the discussion on Rosicrucianism.
Chapter 07. The Civil War Years
In the late 1850s, Randolph had begun trying to actively involve himself in the abolitionist movement, a cause he could lend himself to, and in return, support his family. As a spiritualist, the circles he moved in were naturally full of people who involved themselves in political causes, and the abolitionist movement was certainly among them. In the time of the American civil War, the focus of the abolitionist movement was the enlistment of blacks in the military, allowing them to join and fight like other Americans.
Many appeals were made to the government to allow blacks to join the military and fight, but it was an uphill battle. Many conventions and rallies were held for this cause. Randolph was apparently involved in some of these conventions to enlist black soldiers in conventions in Poughkeepsie, New York, in July of 1863. Randolph had another major role in a convention in Syracuse, New York, in October 1864, The National Convention of Colored Men, with the ex-slave Frederick Douglas as its president. Randolph gave a memorable speech at the convention that was highly regarded as the high point of the convention.
Randolph complained of the wrongs done to blacks such as being taunted as inferior by those whose laws prevented their education, black volunteer troops fighting for the union but denied equal pay or recognition of their efforts and heroism, taxation of blacks without allowing them a voice in government. He advocated rights like the abolition of slavery, the right to reward for effort, for respect, and the right to vote, and especially the right to remain in America when it was being proposed to return blacks to Africa with the abolition of slavery, which was a very controversial idea at the time.
This chapter also talks about Randolph’s time in New Orleans to lecture and be a voice for blacks, as well as teaching freed slaves. It states that he grew disillusioned and had bad experiences being down there, and surprisingly advocated the total separation of the races in After Death; or Disembodied Man. Randolph claimed that it was Abraham Lincoln, his “personal friend” who invited him down to Louisiana to educate the freed slaves. As he began to establish himself in Louisiana, he began lecturing and being Randolph got himself caught in a whirlwind of conflict making enemies all around him, and even amongst those who were on his side:
Once again, as he had done before and would do again, Randolph proceeded to act as a firebrand, alienating his sponsors, an action that was absolutely characteristic of him. Driven by some feeling of the punctilio of honor or of exaggerated honesty, or impelled simply by the urge to destroy what he had achieved, Randolph sooner or later always bit the hand that was feeding him. In New Orleans, the process began at a meeting of the convention in February when Randolph took a subtle swipe at the Creole blacks who had welcomed him and had invited his participation in the convention in the first place.
When things went sour in his lecturing circuits, he turned to educating freed slaves. He became a principle teacher at the “Lloyd Garrison School – Colored.” The author says this was one of the few times of Randolph’s life when he seemed genuinely happy for a time. But eventually this came to an end and he had to give up teaching by February 1865 to become “educational agent” for the Freedman’s Bureau in New Orleans. Conflicts in the area had loyal men to Randolph fleeing, and put him in great danger. It was in this context that Randolph was forced to give up his New Orleans life to head back north.
When back up North, he devoted himself to further political causes in hopes to continue his work on education for blacks. He gave more speeches to the causes which he was devoted to and often were praised by newspapers. However, as was usually the case in his prior life, conflict and betrayals saw him exit the political arena, never to return.
Chapter 08. The Post—Civil War Years in Boston
The last decade of Randolph’s life can be summed up with the opening paragraph by Deveney:
The completion of the Political Pilgrimage to Lincoln's tomb at the end of 1866 marks a watershed in Randolph's life. After fifteen years hard toil in the vineyards of reform, and after thousands of speeches on temperance, abolition, women's equality, and freedmen's dignity, he had achieved exactly nothing for himself. While others—including even a few blacks, such as Frederick Douglass—found a share in the spoils of reform's victorious crusade against the South, Randolph was, as always, left out in the cold. His proposed normal school, which might have given him a secure position, died from controversy, and freedmen's education generally was abandoned in the South. His angular personality, fickle ideas, and outsider status had prevented his building a political base even among those for whom he had labored. Most gallingly of all, the reformers of the Northeast whose flag he had carried for so many years had revealed their true colors when faced with a specific black man and not with enslaved Southern blacks as an abstraction.
The Rosicrucian Rooms in Boston
Back in Boston, Randolph set himself up to practice his brand of medicine, with a laboratory to make his elixirs, and a place for displaying his powers as a Rosicrucian. He had a patron for his spiritualist work, by a Mrs. Mary P. Crook who financed the establishment of “Rosicrucian Rooms at 29 Boylston Street. He was also trying to start a Rosicrucian order at this time.
After Death; or Disembodied Man
When back in Boston, he involved himself with several women, some of whom he claims betrayed him or treated him poorly. He had become something of a celebrity in Boston at the time, and was consulted on the stock market by Horace Day, financer and spiritualist. He thought of devoting himself to the cause of rehabilitating prostitutes for a time, and to fight against the practice of abortion, which he deemed evil and comparable to murder.
Here we also find the details surrounding Randolph’s follow up to Dealings with the Dead, titled After Death; or Disembodied Man. It was written at the most prosperous and productive of Randolph’s life. This book was the result of many visions Randolph had about the spirit and soul worlds. He thought of the book as his masterpiece, and it took the material from Dealings with the Dead to a whole new level and greatly expanded upon it. He describes many of the spirit and soul worlds, also cosmic events in our own solar system which caused trouble for earth. He addressed what happened to humans right after death, and how they were trapped for a time to work out their erroneous beliefs, and atone for their life mistakes and ingrained habits that hindered their growth. Randolph was like a realist when it came to humans being much the same following death than before they had died, death having not perfected us in the least, and he explains this perfectly in his sequel with the endearing humor so characteristic of Randolph:
If a man goes to sleep a zealot, bigot, or fool, I see no good reason why he or any one else should expect him to wake up next day a perfectly right sort of person, sane and sound in all respects; entirely and completely changed, re-made, worked over, purified and crystallized; do you? If a Jersey rogue starts on the ferry-boat from Hoboken, I see no reason why, or method through which, his nature should have undergone an entire change by the time he reaches New York; do you?
Randolph continued these beliefs until he died, but following this book never returned to it with the same zeal he had in these works. Randolph also published a biography of the Davenport brothers, the spirit mediums of national fame that created a stir with their performances around the time of the Civil War. Randolph published it anonymously, though he probably only did it for financial reasons, and eventually he concluded the brothers were total frauds.
Randolph Publishing Company
Randolph establishes the Randolph Publishing Company in Boston in 1870. He was hoping to have other authors contributing works but this never materialized. He re-published his prior works including After Death or Disembodied Man, Seership, his Rosicrucian Dream Book, among others.
From 1869 to 1871 he published his major books on sex and sexual happiness, like Love and its Hidden History (1869), The Master Passion (1869), Love! At Last! (1870) and Casca Llanna (1871). Eulis was the last of them published in 1874, the year before his death, and Randolph often used these books to attract further correspondents that he could further teach his sex magic philosophy to and showcase his elixirs to.
Randolph came to view sexual passions, their misuse or total lack as the cause of many ills, much of what his medical practice centered around, that sex and love were at the heart of health, he writes:
Many years ago I made the discovery . . . that most of human ills, social, domestic, mental, and moral, were the result of infractions, by excess, entire continence, or inversion, therefore perversion, of the sexual passion and instinct common to the human race. But there was no known cure for those evils, and I was therefore compelled to search for one in the regions of the unknown. With certain speculative and transmitted data to start from, I began, and for long years continued, the investigation of the matter, with a persistence, patient research, and strength of will that shrank at no obstacle, admitted no possibility of defeat or failure.
Naturally, this became another cause in which Randolph could devote himself to and hope to make a living. He hoped to teach women how to take back the power they could wield if only they knew how, and this was much of the aim with his books on love. Much of his overarching ideas that lie at the foundation of his sexual magic are described herein. His system sought to crystallize and teach the fundamental practices and techniques that a man and his wife could put into practice and be guaranteed happiness, growth, and abundance. However, in Eulis, it was clear he was promoting the use of sex for other purposes not relevant to either the husband or wife and their romantic life.
The Rosicrucians Again
This section describes Randolph’s numerous attempts to start up a Rosicrucian order, which so often either failed to materialize or maintain itself for those that did. He had a falling out with many of the potential members of his idealistic order, as is so characteristic of Randolph for conflict to follow all of his attempts to work with others. Freeman B. Dowd, another occult writer and one of Randolph’s most devoted followers, wrote of Randolph, as he knew him:
His dark complexion, curly hair, black eyes, flat nose, large mouth, and thick lips suggested African blood; while his broad, square forehead, wide-set eyes, with their piercing look, coupled with the fascinating smile that wreathed his amorous mouth at times, showed the finer blood of the Anglo-Saxon race. This man was P. B. Randolph, a man in whom the blood of different races boiled like the lava of a volcano. His nature was electrical, volcanic. A man of moods, there was for him no middle ground; he was either in Heaven or in Hell. Love to him was a passion; its indulgence, like everything else, was in the extreme, hence he was love-hungry and love-starved. Always longing, never satisfied, a prey to extreme imagination, lofty in ambition, but constantly humiliated on account of his color, denied the position in society to which his genius entitled him, it is not strange that he became morbidly sensitive, envious, and full of hate. Naturally mediumistic and at times clairvoyant; superstitious, as all of the African race are; he was a fatalist, and imagined that he had existed on this earth previously, and that he was born of mixed blood as a punishment for crimes he had committed then. Soft and tender as a mother at times, his great heart would melt with tears, only to be burned and dried up a moment later by the fierce fires of anger at himself and creation. He was medium of rare abilities, an intuitive reader of character, and a subject of obsession; he predicted his own death by his own hand, and came near fixing the exact time. Such was Dr. Randolph as I knew him. Born of poor and obscure parentage, reared in the slums of New York, a newsboy, a bootblack, a barber, a waiter at a restaurant, without education, he acquired the best. Without a chance in life he became one of the most learned men of his day. He had a magic tongue, could speak many languages, possessed a memory of ideas and words truly marvelous, and was a public speaker superior to most. Without friends or money he traveled over Europe, Asia, and America, gathering knowledge as a bee gathers honey.
But with all his genius and all his acquirements, he did not acquire that urbanity of temper, that magnanimity of nature, which every gentleman must have to entitle him to recognition in society; and instead of attributing this to the true cause he attributed it to his color. Socially, as in everything else, he was an extremist. A warm, self-sacrificing friend, a jovial, laughing comrade, a vindictive and unforgiving enemy, an egotist, ready to be insulted where no insult was intended, it is no wonder that he became addicted to the use of strong drink.
Often when Randolph find himself in financial woes, he sought to turn his secrets into cash, but sometimes even this brought further financial burdens, and sometimes even legal problems.
Chapter 09. The Great Free-Love Trial
This chapter can be best summed up in the chapter’s opening paragraph, with the following:
Randolph had always been a poor judge of character. He placed blind trust in anyone, man or woman, who claimed to be his friend—and often suffered financially as a consequence. He should have heeded the warning of the famous sex-reformer and phrenologist, O. S. Fowler ("You are utterly unfit for anything pecuniary or commercial.”) and avoided business transactions altogether, but he did not, and in 1871 he fell in with a pack of rogues and scoundrels who eventually left him penniless.
Randolph had just begun to make ends meet when he met these two scoundrels who were both hoping to sucker Randolph for their own gain, Thomas Churchill, a Canadian fast-talker, and W. T. French (a.k.a W. Bay French), from Ohio, who approached Randolph to learn his medical secrets and to be admitted into Randolph’s “secret order of thinkers.”
According to Randolph, they were both plotting to swindle Randolph and attempt to gain the copyrights to his books. Eventually when the plot to get the copyrights failed, they began to accuse Randolph of purveying obscene materials on Free-Love, which back then there was a law to prohibit such materials. A search warrant was issued to search Randolph’s apartment, and the police detectives arrested Randolph on the spot for questionable books and he was brought to the police station to wait in jail until Monday morning. However, there was nothing in the books that would have violated the statute and the judge ordered Randolph released. However, a long series of problems ensued and left Randolph with far more financial troubles than ever before. The press had a field day to publicize Randolph’s arrest, but his release and innocence was less newsworthy. Randolph responded with a new book, Paschal Beverly Randolph, the “Learned Pundit,” and “Man with Two Souls,” His Curious Life, Works and Career. The Great Free-Love Trial.” Randolph also used this opportunity to give his views on free-love which he had been speaking out against for years by this time.
The Great Boston Fire and Toledo
In November 1872, a large part of the center of Boston was destroyed in a fire, which brought many occult dreams to an end aside from Randolph’s, who lost merely everything he had managed to build up over the years. First he planned a move to Massillon, Ohio, but was forced to Toledo, Ohio, out “of necessity” and settled down here and by 1874, was doing his normal medical routine with a laboratory to make his elixirs. However, in May 1873 Randolph suffered a serious injury that left him partially paralyzed. He was walking on the train tracks and found himself between two converging trains. In the process of trying to recover from this accident, Randolph was still able to perform in his spiritualist circles, and as a result of this, he met his final wife, Kate Corson.
Kate Corson was also a medium, but she was only nineteen when she met Randolph. They teamed up to produce The New Mola, published in late 1873. The author says of the pair:
Kate Corson was nineteen when Randolph first met her. Despite her age she was already both a good businesswoman and a powerful medium and perhaps a mirror-seer. As Kate Corson and Company, she was the publisher of Randolph's The New Mola and also owned the rights to the book until Randolph found the money to buy them back. Randolph's relationship with Kate Corson was always troubled at best, and was complicated as we shall see by his fits of jealousy.
Last Visit to Europe
At some point in either 1873 or 1874, Randolph had again visited Europe, England specifically, and it seems he had a European patron that he refers to as “E. A. Perceval, Jr.” or “Earnest Augustus Viscompte de Percevele, Lord of Ulma.” He is mentioned in Randolph’s final works. This may be the reason for his the reason for his trip, and there it is said that he “walked with Perceval through the woods around Antwerp.”
The trip places Randolph in Europe at the time the obscure mythological origins of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (H. B. of L.). The H. B. of L. is the group that put Randolph’s sexual magic into practice with an official order.
The Revelation of Sexual Magic
After Randolph’s accident that left him nearly paralyzed, he began to sense the immanence of his death approaching, and wanted to reveal his secrets of sex magic to the world, have his elixirs and books be sold by someone else when he was gone. He began to advertise to divulge to anyone who paid a certain fee, the secrets of his sexual magic system through written correspondence.
Chapter 10. The Coming of the Nusa'iri
The Nus’iri are described in the opening paragraph by Deveney:
The Nusa'iri or Ansaireh or Ansayree (the latter spellings re-presenting the elision of the definite article with the initial N) are a nominally Muslim) group living today, as they have for the thousand years that history has taken note of them, in isolated areas in the mountains of northwest Syria above Latakia and in pockets in Palestine, Kurdistan, Egypt, and Iran.' Like the Druses and the Ismallis with whom they were frequently confused by European and Near Eastern historians alike and with whom the Nusaaris have fought for a thousand years—a struggle over theological niceties that has masked the fundamental areas of agreement among them—the Nusa’iris are extreme emanationists, with an elaborate theology of the progressive descent of the divine into manifestation and history and the reascent of man to the divine light. Although there are certain similarities between Randolph's ideas and the systems of the Nusa'iri, the similarities appear to have depended on travelers' tales and Randolph's reading, and for our purposes the Nusa'iris (again, like the Draws and Ismallis) are notable, not or much for what they actually are, but more for what they were accused of being by travelers and their enemies and thought to be by occultists. What has mainly set the Nusa'iris apart and made them the object of persecution and massacre by more orthodox Muslims and by nausea, Ismallis, and Crusaders alike is the belief that they practiced the pagan and Gnostic sexual rites of antiquity.
Deveney then goes on to explain some of their further history and how and when Randolph began to use the term Anseiretic to describe his secret knowledge.
The Ansairetic Mystery and the Mysteries of Eulis
This section takes a deeper look at some of the pamphlets and publications Randolph was circulating to promote his sexual magic dressed in the Oriental terms like Ansairetic. It talks about the use of sex to bring down the celestial forces from between the spaces, to be used for mystical as well as practical purposes. Much of this was later picked up and put into practice by the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor many years after Randolph’s death.
The Brotherhood of Eulis
In 1874, Randolph once again attempted to establish an occult order he called The Brotherhood of Eulis, and it was started in Nashville, Tennessee, but what he was doing in Tennessee at this time and why he chose to attempt to establish the order there is not only surprising but entirely unclear. The only possibility the author provides is Randolph’s connection to the Rev. Jesse B. Ferguson of Nashville who was involved with the Davenport Brothers. The attempt to establish his order here was short-lived and the following year he would try to establish yet another order in San Francisco, California. This lodge was formed in December of 1874, and that June of 1875 Randolph left to return to Toledo, Ohio.
The last few months of Randolph’s life appear that Randolph was happy. At this time, he wrote a letter to Col. Henry S. Olcott of the Theosophical Society, seemingly to become better acquainted with him, but it does not appear that Olcott replied.
The author brings us to Randolph’s final days and gives a glimpse into the state of mind Randolph was in when he died:
Despite his cheerfulness at times and optimism about the future, Randolph was very troubled. He was beset by jealousy of his wife and suffered from alcoholism. The torrent of wrongs, abuses, lack of recognition, penury, and failures of his life had taken their toll. Earlier in his career, he had been resilient, clinging to his mother’s supposed dying words, “We may be happy yet!” Toward the end of his life, however, his woes and bitterness appear to overwhelm him, and his complaints—especially about the ingratitude of the spiritualist reformers in whose cause he had labored for twenty-five years—become the paranoid rantings of a man yearning for rest.
The alleged events of Randolph’s suicide were broadcast to the public in the Toledo Star in an article “By His Own Hand: Death of a Well Known Spiritualistic Author by Suicide—Dr. P. B. Randolph Takes His Own Life This Morning at a Little After Eight O’Clock”:
[Mrs. Worden] says that before eight o'clock she noticed Dr. P. B. Randolph, who lives diagonally across the street from her house ... walking past her house several times; after a while he went to his own house, and after remaining there a while he started toward Division Street. He soon returned to the vacant lot adjoining the Worden house, and while standing called to Mrs. W. that he wanted to tell her some-thing. She stepped out on the back porch with her daughter. Then Randolph told her to tell his wife, whom he supposed to be in the house, to come out. Mrs. Worden replied that she was not there. Randolph then said: "Well, good bye. In less than two hours I shall be a dead man. I'm going to shoot myself." Mrs. Worden told him that he wouldn't do a thing of that kind, but he replied: "Yes, I will. In less than two hours I'll be dead, and I want you two to witness the deed, and then you can testify. I leave all my property to my son. You will be witness to that, and testify that I said so, when they call upon you after I'm dead, and that won't be a long time, either." While making these remarks he was standing within fifteen feet of Mrs. Worden, who was so badly frightened at the way he was talking that she turned to go in the house. Just then she heard the report of a revolver, and turning she saw Randolph fall in his tracks....
The conjectures as to the cause which lead the unfortunate man to commit the rash deed are as numerous almost as there are people to conjecture, but it is most generally conceded that jealously was the main cause. Randolph was part Spaniard, and inherited all the suspicious distrusting qualities of the people of that nationality. For some time he has imagined that his wife has been untrue to him, and from brooding over his imagined injuries he became morose, overbearing and tyrannical, and began to drink heavily. While in these fits he would treat his wife very badly, and threatened several times to kill their little baby boy, which he claimed was not his; but when sober, he was generally a kind husband and father. For the past week he has been drinking worse than ever, and yesterday his conduct became so bad that his wife went to her mother's house. He staid around the house all day and last night slept there.
This morning he arose and went to look for his wife, and not finding her became furious. Then he went out, took several drinks, and returned to Mrs. Worden's house where he committed the deed in the manner already described.
Chapter 11. Post-Mortem
After Randolph’s death, mediums and spiritual seances were conducted in which Randolph makes it known through mediums that he is still unhappy in the spirit world and would gladly return to the physical existence if he could, and based on the journal article it appeared in, it seemed that Randolph had deep regrets about his suicide. At this time Randolph’s spirit began appearing in California regularly to Mrs. Frances McDougall and Luna Hutchinson, and the result was proclaimed a posthumous work by Randolph channeled through these two former friends.
The book was published in 1878 as Beyond the Veil: Posthumous Work of Paschal Beverly Randolph, Aided by Emanuel Swedenborg and Others, Through the Minds of Frances H. McDougall and Luna Hutchinson. This book shows Randolph far less miserable and being guided through the process of death and his initiation into the spirit and soul worlds.
After his death several occultists wished to continue Randolph’s work and hope for the establishment of Rosicrucian orders, while in Europe the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor put some of the ideas behind his sex magic into practice.
R. Swinburne Clymer became one of the later occultists in America to establish loosely connected orders to Randolph’s. Clymer wrote Ms. Corson Randolph asking for the Master Word, and Randolph’s widow replied with the following:
You are reorganizing this lodge— and as such you will give your own Passwords, etc. You being the head of this Society—you would also give the Master Word. I do not know what these which you refer to were—Dr. R. passed away in just a few weeks after his return from Calif. where he was trying to organize the Society and these were not given to me— I do not think this is so essential. It is not a society strictly of Passwords, ritual etc., but for the betterment of Mankind, to improve the Man—to build up the individuality, to increase their latent powers, to help each other to be better, truer Men and women, it is to increase our powers. Therefore I do not think these points so essential. You give the passwords, which in turn are given to other lodges as these are organized. Is this not so?
Very truly yours, Kate C. Randolph
I do not know today if there be any organized society existing, only as someone as [has] started some society, as per the Eulians of Salem.
F. B. Dowd was once a student of P. B. R.
The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor however, was ambivalent to Randolph and his Eulis, even though they themselves incorporated certain elements of it into their system. They put a warning out for those using Randolph’s system, that it was a snare that leads to black magic in one of the teaching manuscripts of the H. B. of L.:
When taken literally in this light, the teachings of Eulis are an awful and terrible delusion, and mean ruin to all who practice them as a means of obtaining power, since they call down powers into the soul, which fasten upon its vitality and can never confer the remotest power or benefit. Such practices rear and nurse a swarm of vipers which will ultimately sap not only the vitals of the body, but the soul and terminate the physical existent of their victims by suicide, or drive them to the grave as driveling idiots, or as howling maniacs to the mad-house. Not content with this when death puts an end to physical torment, they still cling, like magnetic vampires, to the soul, and cause the complete destruction and disintegration of the spiritual remnant of their prey in the lower planes of the soul-world.
It states further to conclude:
The awful list of powers, attributes and forces set forth in the works of R B. Randolph, as attainable by the actual use of the sexual force, is a terrible snare. It was this fatal mistake that ruined the unfortunate, misguided Randolph himself. Therefore, remember, if you value your soul's immortality, that evil powers can be so gained, but those who gain them are forever lost. It is the true way to Voudooism and Black Magic. So beware how you play with the infernal laws which rule the realms of animal nature and outer darkness.
The remainder of this chapter describes in more detail the offshoots and groups that formed in the years after Randolph’s death that used elements of his sex magic, like the H. B. of L. and the O.T.O., and those who used his Rosicrucian ideals, such as R. Swinburne Clymer.
Chapter 12. Randolph and Madame Blavatsky
The contents of this chapter are best represented by the opening paragraph as follows:
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) was the enigmatic Russian who founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875 and inspired it until her death in 1891—and in the process fundamentally transformed the occult world. Subsequent myth, propounded by the exponents of the hidden hand, has made Randolph and Madame Blavatsky co-initiates of a mysterious Oriental brotherhood and attributed to them a fatal enmity that led directly to Randolph's death. Behind the myth is a substratum of fact sufficient to show a real, though elusive and indirect, relationship between these two sources of the occult revival of the late nineteenth century.
The Occult Duel
Some accounts of the alleged occult rivalry between Helena P. Blavatsky and Paschal Beverly Randolph are discussed here, from Gustav Meyrink, who later translated works on Randolph, said the following:
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the famous foundress of the Theosophical Society, had come to know [Randolph] in her travels in America. They communicated with each other in a very secret manner, as a friend who knew both and was often together with them reported to me. "They appeared to make themselves understood telepathically (through communication of their thoughts)," so my friend wrote to me. "Often, when I was sitting at tea with the 'Old Lady' (Blavatsky's nickname), she suddenly sprang up and called out: 'What does this fellow want!' And then, when I accompanied her, we always encountered [Randolph] waiting in some place, to whom Madame Blavatsky was most rapidly directed, as if she was under a command. What they then did with each other, I have never been able to learn, because the Old Lady was as silent as the grave about it."
"Randolph," so my friend continued in his letter, "is the weirdest man I ever met in my life. I did everything I could to learn what he was really about—in vain. Suddenly, in the midst of talking, on the street, his tone of voice changed and a stranger appeared to speak from him, often in a language (and I know many of these) which was totally unknown to me. His gift of foreseeing events clairvoyantly that happened in far off places bordered on the wonderful.... The cause of the hate that sprang up between Madame Blavatsky and Randolph almost overnight is completely unknown to me. Perhaps it was rivalry. In any case, the Old Lady was victorious.... It was in Adyar (India). Madame Blavatsky and I sat motionless and silent in our seats in the shade because it was very hot. Suddenly Madame Blavatsky called out: 'Now [Randolph] is shooting at me! So now the devil has him.' To my astonished question what was wrong, she told me that Randolph just then wanted to murder her in a magical way. In America, thousands of miles away, he had loaded a pistol, commanding with his Will that the bullet might dematerialize and then again become lead in her (Madame Blavatsky's) heart. In the last second, however, Randolph had become crazy and had shot himself in the forehead. Of course, I didn't believe this, but in any event noted the hour, date and minute. What I learned about a year later from Kate (Randolph's widow) in Ohio, deeply shocked me: [Randolph] had actually shot himself in the forehead at that very time."
The author points out however, that much of this account can hardly be taken factually because Blavatsky hadn’t arrived in India until several years after Randolph was dead. And stories like this were also claimed by William Alexander Ayton, who was a personal friend of Henry S. Olcott, the co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Ayton, an initiate of the H. B. of L., relates the following in a letter responding to an H. B. of L. applicant who enquired about Robert H. Fryer’s advertisement for magic mirrors:
The worst feature of [Fryer's] case is that he became Agent for the sale of the posthumous M.S.S. works of the suicide Randolph. Those works contain instructions for the worst kind of Black Magic by means of sexual intercourse a system well known to have been practised in the East, and also in Europe at various periods, especially in the Middle Ages. These M.S.S. have been sold by this person to several young men with most devastating results. Col. Olcott himself told me that Randolph tried to practice Black Magic upon him, but that he was able to turn the circle back upon him, and that he immediately committed suicide'
The author then shows how Ayton then corrects himself since the H. B. of L. was at the time distributing Randolph’s manuscripts on sexual magic to their students, and shows Ayton’s further response:
I have also heard more as to Randolph. He was an Initiate, but somehow betrayed his trust. Whether he took to Black Magic after that, I do not know.... Randolph was really an Initiate, but he gave no attention to the monitions of his Occult Guru, and in consequence, fell into a state of irresponsible Mediumship, during which he published '"Eulis" & then went off into Black Magic. He had not gone far enough to have the Key to Eulis,' which makes a very different thing of it. As a Freemason, you will understand that he was accessory to his own destruction & paid the penalty of his obligation. Eulis really contains truths up to a certain point, as taught in all Hermetic Orders. We may almost say, it has been sown broad-cast & therefore it cannot be ignored. I suppose he published it first in his lifetime, & since his death, his widow has been by means of Fryar, hawking it in M.S.S. as a posthumous work. I was consulted upon it by several of my Chelas who had given £10 for it. Some of them had taken much harm by reading it & trying to put it into practice. It was sent to me by one of them, & I saw if carried out literally, it must lead to Black Magic. I did not then know, nor when I wrote to you first, about him, that he had really been initiated in a remote branch of our Order. I might have known by asking, but I was put off the scent by Col O. telling me that he had turned his Black Magic back upon him & caused him to commit suicide, which I now find on authority was a delusion of Col O. It took a higher power to do that.... Nevertheless, I know now, from authority, that [Madame Blavatsky], equally with Randolph, was really initiated in a remote branch of our Order in India. Hence, she has considerable knowledge, having gone further than Randolph. She goes as far as she dare in making revelations without incurring the penalty of her obligation.... Madame B. is an Initiate of a remote Oriental branch of our Order, & as such, she has been taught a great deal of Occultism. Like Randolph she has perverted it to her own evil purposes, but unlike Randolph, has contrived to steer clear of the penalty of her obligation.
The rest of this section talks about the fact that both Randolph and Blavatsky were both initiated into an Eastern branch of the H. B. of L. and brings us through the discussion of the ‘hidden hand’ theory among other contemporary researchers that adepts in certain occult orders from ancient times have been involved in guiding the affairs of men on earth for pre-conceived purposes, though they do not all see eye to eye and some rival each other, such as the Brotherhood of the Light and the Brotherhood of the Shadow.
The Reality behind the Myth
This section covers the unlikelihood that Randolph and Blavatsky ever knew each other personally. Randolph never mentions Blavatsky in any of his letters or writings, and the author points out the unlikelihood that they met in America as Meyrink’s friend claimed, based on the timelines and evidence available. Deveney does point out the possibility that they met in Europe at some point, but there are no records to substantiate it. He then discusses further possibilities and people who might have linked together the two at some time in Randolph’s trips to Europe.
The “Half-Initiated Seer”
This section takes a look at some of Blavatsky’s mentions of Randolph, including calling him the “half-initiated seer,” and the term “initiate” was not something she threw around loosely. The author shows us a letter to the Spiritualist of London in defense of A. P. Sinnett’s claim that “Himalayan Brothers” were behind the Theosophical Society, she says:
There never was a true Initiate but knew of the secret Fraternities in the East. It is not Eliphas Lévi who would ever deny their existence, since we have his authentic signature to the contrary. Even P. B. Randolph, that wondrous, though erratic, genius of America, that half-initiated seer, who got his knowledge in the East, had good reasons to know of their existence, as his writings can prove.
It also shows some of her statements about the existence of elementals among spiritualists, where she mentions Randolph once again:
Spiritualists have never accepted the suggestions and sound advice of certain of their seers and mediums. They have regarded Mr. Peebles' "Gadarenes" with indifference; they have shrugged their shoulders at the "Rosicrucian" fantasies of P. B. Randolph, and his "Ravalette" h