Why I Am Not a Mystic

Alice Leuchtag

As I lay in my bed at night in my early childhood, I could hear my parents’ lowered voices drifting in from the living room, talking in the strange, esoteric language of mysticism. Mysterious phrases such as “planes of vibration,” “cosmic consciousness,” and “astral bodies” resounded in my head as I floated off to sleep to dream dreams that maybe only a child of mystics can dream.

My mother had found a substitute for the Catholicism in which she’d been raised in Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s Theosophy, as put forth in her book The Secret Doctrine. As a brilliant young woman, my mother worked for a man whose followers called “The Master.” She ghostwrote the texts of the weekly lectures he gave to the mystical cult he led, lectures that always began “Dearly Beloved.” While doing research for The Master’s presentations, she met my father, newly arrived from New York City, in the religion section of the Los Angeles downtown library, where Blavatsky’s writings were on the shelves. My father, too, was dissatisfied with traditional religion, in his case Judaism.

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