Hi everyone, I'm back after a hiatus of several months, absorbed in various work that I'll post about over time. The Church of Light convention and history preconference were delightful, and my research on the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor's history well received. But Emma Hardinge Britten, and Marc Demarest as her biographer, were the stars of the preconference and returning her major works to print is worth celebrating not just for CofL members or Spiritualists and occult historians but also for Theosophists. The book is a vivid depiction of the world of secret societies in which the TS was born in 1875. It is both prequel and sequel to Art Magic, since various versions both preceded and followed the companion volume. Art Magic, out this month from The Typhon Press, places Emma and the early TS in the history of ideas. But from the POV of purely literary interest, Ghost Land is far more engaging.
Marc hopes to have a new edition of Ghost Land out by the end of the year, and I'm now working on it line by line, making annotations, pursuing links, etc. This is a very enjoyable exercise because unlike so many of the works of the era, Ghost Land is great fun to read, a flowing narrative that is novelistic because... well, maybe it's a novel. But one filled with references to historical occult brotherhoods.
One of the most interesting aspects of Ghost Land is its appropriation of Indian themes despite the general European tenor of the narration. This connects to possible mutual acquaintances of Britten and Blavatsky, Richard F. Burton being one likely link.