January 2021 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the January 2021 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
“A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! This seems easy enough to say, and everyone expects some such greeting. Yet, whether the wish, though it may proceed from a sincere heart, is likely to be realized even in the case of the few—is more difficult to decide. According to our theosophical tenets, every man or woman is endowed, more or less, with a magnetic potentiality, which when helped by a sincere, and especially by an intense and indomitable will—is the most effective of magic levers placed by Nature in human hands—for woe as for weal. Let us then, Theosophists, use that will to send a sincere greeting and a wish of good luck for the New Year to every living creature under the sun—enemies and relentless traducers included. Let us try and feel especially kindly and forgiving to our foes and persecutors, honest or dishonest, lest some of us should send unconsciously an “evil eye” greeting instead of a blessing.”
H. P. Blavatsky
“May no further karma attach to those who have sinned last year in thought as well as in deed. Personally they are forgiven. Let a new year and new hopes begin for them.”
Significance of The New Year
“.... let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfil them consistently.”
H. P. Blavatsky
Thoughts on the New Year and the False Noses
By H. P. Blavatsky
(Extract from H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings Volume XII)
“Annum novum faustum felicemque tibi!”
(Happy and Prosperous New
Year to you!)
Such was the sacramental phrase on the lips of all Gentiles, great or lowly, rich or poor, during the day of the first of January, centuries before the Christian era; and we hear it even today, especially in Paris. This mutual greeting was exchanged on that day throughout the length and breadth of the Roman Empire. It awoke the echoes in the palaces of Caesars, made cheerful the poor hovel of the slave, and soared to the clouds in the spacious open galleries of the Colosseum, at the Capitol and the Forum, everywhere under the blue sky of Rome. On that day, everybody assumed, in honor of the double-faced Janus, a more or less prominent false nose of goodness, frank cordiality and sincerity.
“May the New Year bring you happiness and prosperity!” —we say to everyone of our readers. “Let it be light to you,” we say to our enemies and traducers. Brothers—we say to Theosophists in every part of the world—Brothers, let us discard, at least for today, all our respective false noses, in order to wish each other health and success, and, especially, a little more cordial mutual understanding than in the year 1889, now happily defunct.
However, whether we repeat the old Latin formula one way or another, in French or in English, it will never be but a variation of the ancient pagan phrase. For the New Year, as well as every other festival, is but a legacy to the Christian people from the worshippers of the Olympian gods. Let us, by all means, exchange wishes and gifts (étrennes), but let us not be ungrateful, Theosophists! Let us not forget that these customs come to us from paganism; and that felicitations and gifts also came to us from the same source.
As a matter of fact, gifts (étrennes) are but the strenae, the presents exchanged by the Latins on the first of January, the day that opened the New Year. As everybody does or does not know—which is all the same to me—this day was consecrated to Janus, who gave his name to the month of Januarius or January, and even to the Saint of that name, the patron of Naples and of its lazzarone [beggars]. But, after all, this amiable Saint is but one of the false noses of the god Bifrons. The old pagan was called in his early youth Diaus, after his Vedic name, the beautiful god of the day and of light. Having immigrated to Thessaly, and thence to Italy, where he established himself in the little hamlet of Janiculum, on the Tiber, latinizing his name and becoming Dianus, god of light (whence Diana). His false noses were many, and history has lost count of them. However, since those days he has let himself be converted. Thus it is that for more than eighteen centuries, having replaced his latest and more modest false nose with a more respectable, if not more impenetrable, mask—he is called Saint Peter.
All has remained as of yore. In Christian countries, especially in France, the New Year makes its triumphal entrance just as it did two thousand years ago, when the Pagans celebrated it with indigestion caused by the figs and gilded prunes they ate. The latter fruit have migrated since to the Christmas tree, which does not alter the fact that they came to us from the temples of Janus. It is true that the priests no longer sacrifice a young white bull upon his altar; that is replaced by a lamb of the same color, but whole hecatombs of quadrupeds and fowl are slaughtered annually in his honor on that day. Certainly more innocent blood is spilled today to satisfy the voracious appetite of one Paris street alone, on New Year’s day, than was necessary to feed a whole Roman city in the time of the Caesars.
The world is like the sea: it often changes in appearance, but remains basically the same. The false noses of civilization and of the bigots, however, have hardly embelished it: on the contrary, with every New Year it becomes more ugly and more dangerous. We ponder and compare, but in the sight of a philosopher comparison with its predecessors of ancient days does not reflect favorably upon the modern New Year’s Day. The millions stored in the safes and vaults of state banks do not make either the rich or the poor any happier.
Let us go back in our minds, my readers, fifteen centuries, and try to make a comparison between a New Year’s dinner in the years 355 to 360, and a similar dinner in 1890. Let us seek out the same good and kind Julian, when he lived in the palace of Thermae, which is known today as the Hotel de Cluny—or what is left of it. Do you see him, this great general, at his dinner, surrounded by his soldiers whom he loves better than anyone else in the world outside of his gods, and who idolize him! It is the first of January and they are celebrating the day of Janus in two days, and on the third of January, they will render a similar homage to Isis, patroness of the good city of Lutetia Parisiorum. Since those days, the virgin-mother of ancient Egypt was rebaptized as Geneviève, and this Saint and Martyr has remained the patroness of the good city of Paris—true symbol of a false nose furnished by Rome for the Christian world. We see neither knives nor forks, neither silver nor porcelain of Sèvres, at that imperial table, not even a napkin; but the meats and other foods which the guests consume with so much appetite do not have to be inspected under the microscope of chemists attached to public health offices. What they ate on their New Year’s Day could be eaten with safety and with advantage (except for the doctors) at the dinners on the first of the year 1890. If given a choice, we would definitely not choose the gala dinner of the first of the year of grace 1890, at Paris, but the one of a thousand years ago, at Lutetia. A case of barbarian taste, don’t you see! A ridiculous and baroque preference, according to the opinion of the majority, for natural in the fourth century, attracts us infinitely more than the false noses and the artificiality of everything in the nineteenth century.
We start the year with a number of talks in the month of January which may be of special interest to members. Indeed, these talks are restricted to members and are given only once a year, normally in January, if only for the benefit of new members. All earnest members and students of theosophy will find these talks both interesting and useful. Those who have attended these talks previously may find it worthwhile to refresh their memory and see if anything new has been added and also so that they may be better equipped to do their part in spreading the theosophical teachings!
One of the annual talks is on the Purpose of The Theosophical Society. This talk reminds us why the Society was founded in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. More importantly, we are reminded of the words of the Great Ones on the true purpose of The Theosophical Society. Understanding the purpose of the Society is important if the Singapore Lodge, as a part of this great worldwide movement, is to contribute to the noble ideals of the Society. We must realize our specific mission. As this talk will be given on 23 January when we commemorate our 132nd anniversary, you have one more good reason to come and join us in our commemoration.
Another annual talk which is intended exclusively for members is The Occult Hierarchy. As students of theosophy, we know that just as there are many below us climbing the ladder of evolution, there are also many above us, way ahead of the mass of humanity, who have achieved perfection—the Adepts. We also know that amid the seeming chaos in the world, there is perfect law and order supervised by the Inner Government of the World. In this talk we learn about the quest for perfection and the august fraternity of humanity who have reached the other shore—The Masters and The Path. This talk is scheduled for 16 January. Don’t miss it if you are a student of occultism.
For those who are interested to know more about clairvoyance and psychic abilities, you may wish to attend the talk on The Nature of Psychic Abilities on 9 January 2020. In this talk we will realize that the unfoldment of psychic powers is a natural process in evolution.
A Course in Esoteric Cosmology
Our Asst Secretary, Brandon Goh, will be giving A Course in Esoteric Cosmology.
Esoteric Cosmology explores the true origin of the universe and the nature of existence. This deepest concern of every thinking individual is enwrapped in myth and symbolism by religious traditions, half-repudiated by materialistic science and desiccated by modern philosophy. However, the Ageless Wisdom has always held the key to the mystery and those who seek, will find. This course takes a practical and meditative approach to the fundamental questions of “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?” As such, participants are encouraged to be actively involved through intellectual inquiry and meditative exercises.
Why delve into cosmology? Can we discover our true nature without understanding the nature and origin of the universe, or vice versa? The mysteries of the universe are so intriguing that we could almost wonder why people don’t wonder. In the introduction on 30 January at 4:30 pm, we will discuss the need for enquiry and acquaint ourselves with some basic universal principles.