Monday, April 09, 2007
A commenter suggested a look at Max Theon might be interesting, and it has proven to be. Here is a little of what I discovered.
Max Theon, the enigmatic occultist whose work initiated the Hermetic Brotherhod of Luxor in the mid-1880s, was born Louis Maximilian Bimstein into a Jewish family in Poland. He appears to have first received knowledge of the occult world in the thriving Hassidic communities of his homeland. As a young man he began to travel the world, but in 1873 settled in England at Saint John's Wood, in the northern section of London. He made his living as a psychic healer and advertised himself in the Spiritual periodicals as able to cure cholera.
In 1882 he began to work with a young Scotsman named Thomas Dalton (1855-1895), later known under his pseudonym, Thomas H. Burgoyn. In their three years' association, he awakened Burgoyne's spiritual vision and put him in touch with some preternatural entities, the adepts who were acknowledged as the Interior Circle, the real founders of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor.
Channeling fallen angels, I believe. What else would a "preternatural entity" be? There's more at the website if you're interested.
Check out the entry at Hermetics Resource Site by T. Allen Greenfield that mentions Max Theon:
Be it noted that later in the 19th century another enigmatic Polish Jew, the son of Rabbi Judes Lion Bimstein of Warsaw, came to teach an almost identical sacred sexuality as the Grand Master of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light. This man was one Louis Maximilian Bimstein, better known as Aia Aziz, and better still as Max Theon. Based in North Africa and France, Theon taught a "fully Tantric" approach to spirituality, according to Sri Aurobindo. He exercised a profound influence upon HB of L Frontal Chief Peter Davidson, who, in turn, was a profound influence upon Papus and other luminaries of the "occult revival". Whether this represents a direct continuity from the Zoharists we may never know. Clearly, Jacob Frank, his daughter Eve and their followers deserve a special place in the history of Western Sexual Occultism comparable to that only now being fully recognized where P.B. Randolph, Peter Davidson and their circle are concerned.
But don't stop there. Go read the whole article that is mainly about the Frankists and Hasidism. It's quite a tale.
T. Allen Greenfield, I believe, would be the same Greenfield who is Bishop of the Gnostic Catholic Church.
Jonathan Sellers has some input on Max Theon at Grey Lodge Occult Review:
All told, Max Theon's work is very important, because it establishes a relationship between two important antinomian currents, and a connection to the mainstream of European Esoteric and Occult organizations. First, there is a connection made to the heterodox Jewish Messianic Tradition (via Frank/Zevi/Luria), and to North African Magical Traditions. Next, these two antinomian currents are brought into contact, via the H B of L, with the French Occult network, which was established and administrated by Gèrard Encausse (PAPUS). In his design of the organization, the Martinist Order was at the bottom of the pyramid. Next came De Guaita's R+C Order; above that was "Gnôse et Temple" -- the Johannite and Templar Order survivals from the days of Palaprat and Ragon (whom Papus regarded as a predecessor) -- and at the very top of it all was the H B of L. Not bad.
Luria--Rabbi Isaac Luria, that is--is the source of Lurianic Kabbalah.
I went to the Sri Aurobindo and The Mother website to see if I could verify Max Theon's involvement. Yes, he was there, but the website so scrambled my computer that I had to shut it down, so I am not going to link it.
A catched version of the Auroville website seems to be reliable. Here you can read:
Mirra Alfassa (Paris 21.2.1878 - Pondicherry 17.11.73) was born as the second child of an Egyptian mother and a Turkish father, a few months after her parents had settled in France. An extraordinarily gifted child, who became an accomplished painter and musician, she had many inner experiences from early childhood on. In her twenties she studied occultism in Algeria with Max Theon and his English wife Alma, who was a highly developed medium. After her return to Paris, the Mother worked with several different groups of spiritual seekers.
Then there is this interesting mention of Max Theon over at Free Republic, taken from Catholic Family News:
However, the OTO conveyed something more in its upper degrees. The seventh degree taught the theory, but the eighth through the ninth initiated the candidate in one of the most jealously guarded secrets of Kabbalistic depravity, known as “sex magick”. Recent research into the origins of the OTO indicate that this tradition was probably passed down via the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light (listed in the Manifesto) by Louis Maximilian Bimstein, son of Rabbi Judes Lion Bimstein, who went by the name “Max Theon” (“Supreme God”) and received Hassidic initiation in Poland. The tenth degree conveyed occult- Masonic rulership over the OTO Lodges in a country or group of countries (Aleister Crowley was “Supreme and Holy King of Ireland, Iona, and All the Britains That Are in the Sanctuary of the Gnosis”). The eleventh degree involved sodomy, and the overall world ruler of the OTO was called the OHO, or Outer Head of the Order. Theodor Reuss was OHO; later Crowley would claim the role for himself.
Cardinal Rampolla and the OTO
To establish its occult supremacy and authenticity of lineage, the OTO listed many names in the Manifesto. As is typical in Masonic and occult lore, many ancient names were listed to establish a symbolical affinity and imply consequent dignity upon the Lodge. Names such as “Simon Magus” and “Apollonius Tyanaeus” were included not because these men belonged to the OTO, but because they were prominently associated with Gnosticism, pagan mysticism, mystery, heresy, or some prominent alternative to Christianity. Hence the Manifesto introduces this list by stating that “in more remote times, the constituent originating assemblies of the OTO included such men …”
The Manifesto then grabs our attention, for it interrupts the list with the words, “And recently …” The names that follow are exactly fourteen. Among them is the name Cardinal Rampolla.
Isn't Judaism interesting! The name Max Theon was familiar to me from occult books, but I had not realized he was Jewish, since I had not paid particular attention to him.
Scholem seems to have ignored him. So did Webb.
I'll try to pick my jaw up off the floor now!!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!!!