In the eight months following publication of Pell Mellers, I gave ten presentations and interviews about the book and updated this blog twice monthly. My project for 2009 is a chapter on Quakerism in the Albemarle region, and the blog will be updated only to report on three noteworthy events. First, on February 6 I be in Ahoskie to attend a dramatic production created by Marvin T. Jones to celebrate the history of the triracial community of the Winton Triangle in Hertford County. The National Genealogical Society will hold its annual conference in May in Raleigh, where I will volunteer at the Melungeon Heritage Association table in the exhibit hall between attending sessions relevant to my current research. MHA’s 2009 Union will be held the last weekend in June at Chief Logan Conference Center in West Virginia, and I look forward to the participation of Arwin D. Smallwood of the University of Memphis, who will present his research on the Tuscarora diaspora, inspired by his family roots in the Indian Woods region of Bertie County.
Madame Blavatsky: Spiritual Traveller, an independent documentary by Donna Zuckerbrot in which I am featured, debuted in January and is now being seen on four cable channels in Canada. The Inner West, in which my chapter on Blavatsky is included, was translated into Portuguese in Brazil. A collection of excerpts from Edgar Cayce edited by Robert A. Smith, whose introduction mentions my work on Cayce, was published in Romanian translation as Toate sufletele trec dinculo. 2008 brought a satisfying conclusion of a controversy that erupted late last year on the international scene. The scholarly journal Religion, based in the Netherlands, published an article by Iranian-born British Baha’i scholar Moojan Momen, naming me first in a list of twelve “apostates” allegedly motivated by a lifelong hatred of the Baha’is. Dan Jensen’s website has a section including his own dissection of the Momen controversy and my letter of protest to the editors. The discussion concluded this year with publication of Denis MacEoin’s reply in the pages of Religion, which deftly unravels the scholarly pretensions of Momen’s exercise in heretic labelling.
News on the American scene has been happily less exciting. I am especially happy to see the Mount San Antonio College Philosophy Group publish David C. Lane’s article “Edgar Cayce and the Skeptic,” which originally appeared as an online review of Edgar Cayce in Context, as the first chapter in his collection Believer/Skeptic.
Also new this year from the MSAC Philosophy Group is Andrea Diem-Lane’s The Guru in America. In it she extends the concept of “genealogical dissociation,” which David Lane originally applied to Eckankar and Radhasoami, to the entire range of Sant Mat offshoots in America. She takes note of my embrace of the concept in Initiates of Theosophical Masters with reference to Theosophical history. I regard Lane’s scholarship on Radhasoami as crucial to understanding issues facing Theosophical historians. Early this month, Gary Lachman’s The Occult in Politics marked a milestone in Theosophical publishing by stating the relevance of Ranbir Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir, and Thakar Singh Sandhanwalia, founder of the Singh Sabha, as important influences on Blavatsky. Lachman’s is the best book from Theosophical Publishing House in years, and deserves a broad readership. He considers my approach to Blavatsky “controversial claims,” the Theosophical party line since 1995, but otherwise treats the subject of the Masters responsibly. Ken Monteith’s Yeats and Theosophy, published by Routledge, is the third study of Yeats to cite The Masters Revealed. John Fitzgerald’s The Necronomicon: Everything You Never Wanted to Know is the second book to relate my Blavatsky research to the fantasy novels of H.P. Lovecraft, after the late Tim Maroney’s The Book of Dzyan. Of all the books this year in which I find mine cited, the one of greatest personal interest was Peter Levenda’s Stairway to Heaven. It appraises what the author calls “ascent literature” and the final chapter is on the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light, the parent organization of the Church of Light. I will introduce a showing of the Zuckerbrot documentary at the biennial conference of the Church of Light in June in Albuquerque.