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Comments Posted 01.06.13 | PERMALINK | PRINT

John Foster

Accidental Mysteries, 01.06.13


The pages you see today are from a rare illustrated book whose illustrations are as perplexing as they are magnificent. Strange and bizarre, they fill my mind with questions of life and man’s eternal search for answers. These shamanic notations, symbols and marks make little sense to me yet draw me in just the same. In this notebook, we are pointed to one man’s attempt to make sense of the earth, the elements, life, and spirituality.

The book comes from The Manley Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts (1500 — 1825), which consists of 68 bound volumes, and 243 manuscripts on the subject of alchemy, hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and the related arts. The collection has been digitized and made available to the public by the generosity of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.

Manly Palmer Hall (March 18, 1901 — August 29, 1990) was born in Canada and most famous for his work The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19, where he became pastor of the Church of the People. An author and mystic, he first published two pamphlets in 1920 entitled “The Breastplate of the High Priest”, and “Wands and Serpents.” But it was his encyclopedic work in 1928 The Secret Teachings of All Ages,” that was his most famous, garnering him worldwide acclaim and allowing him a lifetime of lectures, awards and recognition.

Hall spent many years collecting works throughout Europe on religion, mythology, mysticism, and the occult, all financed by the wealthy Carolyn Lloyd and her daughter Estelle. The woman and her daughter were members of his church, their wealth amassed from the ownership of rich oil fields. Their sponsorship of Manley P. Hall allowed him to collect these rare books during his travels.

In 1973 (47 years after writing The Secret Teachings of All Ages), Hall was recognized as a 33º Mason (the highest honor conferred by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite). He published over 150 books in his lifetime and died in 1990.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Foster and his wife, Teenuh, have been longtime collectors of self-taught art and vernacular photography. Their collection of anonymous, found snapshots has toured the country for five years and has been featured in Harper’s, Newsweek Online and others.
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