The Kybalion and Pyramid Power

April 8, 2015

The website BoingBoing recently posted a copy of a display ad that has been making the rounds on the internet. Dean Hardy in Allegan, Michigan was offering blueprints to build a large pyramid in one’s backyard for the cost of $20. Hardy’s pyramid plans were designed for “maximum energy” and to “create an antenna to refocus cosmic or etheric light.”

pyramid

The ad was posted to mock not only the pseudo-scientific claims of Hardy, but also as a reference to the New Age “pyramid power” craze that reached its height in the 1970s, complete with claims that within a pyramid razor blades would stay sharp, food would be slow to spoil, and people could reach heightened states of energy and awareness. To add to the cheap laughs, one commenter posted a link to a local news story featuring Dean’s wife Mary who framed the creation of the pyramid within a story of extraterrestrial contact and missing time.

But if we go back to 1979, Dean and Mary Hardy, with Kenneth Killick, explained pyramid energy not in terms of extraterrestrials, but alongside the 1908 metaphysical classic The Kybalion and its seven Hermetic laws of the universe. Killick and the Hardys linked themselves to The Kybalion by dubbing themselves “Three Initiates” in their book Pyramid Energy Explained, and they referenced the 1908 work over two dozen times within its pages. According to the authors, The Kybalion was written by Hermes Trismegistus, who was also the designer and builder of the Great Pyramid, and The Kybalion was no less than the key to science and ultimate wisdom. “Understand the seven principles laid out in the Kybalion,” said the trio from western Michigan, “and you will understand the structure of the atom and the workings of the Father in his universe.”

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They were not the only pyramid-building seekers influenced by The Kybalion. Dwight York founder of the Black Nationalist group the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, both published a crude reworking of The Kybalion titled Sacred Wisdom and built two pyramids at his Egyptian-themed Tama-Re compound in Georgia. Most famous is the group SUMMUM, who since 1979 have had a pyramid as their sanctuary and temple off the I-15 highway in Utah. A book of their teachings Summum: Closed Except to the Open Mind took so much from The Kybalion that the US Copyright Office declared it a derivative work.

summum

While a series of unconnected pyramids across the country would seem to be one of the most unusual legacies of The Kybalion, it is completely in line with its history.  The Kybalion was a modern book cloaked in ancient mystique, and its teachings were both clear and practical, yet still flexible enough, to be applied to a wide range of beliefs and endeavors, from art and philosophy to bounty-hunting and pyramid-building.

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William Walker Atkinson Article in Maryland Life Magazine

April 9, 2012

Appearing online and in the April 2012 edition of Maryland Life Magazine is an article on the life and Maryland roots of William Walker Atkinson, the author of The Kybalion. Included in the article are many previously unknown facts about Atkinson’s family, childhood, and upbringing. The print version will have several rare photos that have never been seen by the public. Read the article online here.

Pages from The Swami of Baltimore- Maryland Life 2011-04

Interview on Occult Of Personality podcast

January 26, 2012

Now available online is an hour-long interview I did with Greg Kaminsky for his excellent podcast Occult of Personality. We delve into the life and works of William Walker Atkinson, especially The Kybalion. Link here.

Update: In the membership section of the Occult of Personality podcast there is now an additional 45-minute additional interview focusing on William Walker Atkinson’s sole authorship of The Kybalion, proof of his authorship, and the controversy surrounding the matter.

Interview on The Infinite and Beyond podcast

November 1, 2011

I was recently interview by Christopher Orapello for episode #23 of The Infinite and Beyond podcast. It is now available for download here. In our hour-long conversation we cover the history and background of The Kybalion, its author William Walker Atkinson, and his final manuscript, The Seven Cosmic Laws.

Perhaps The Universe Is Mental After All…

July 8, 2011

William Walker Atkinson, always equal parts mystic and pragmatist, was deeply interested in science throughout his career as a writer. In Atkinson’s view, scientific discoveries and truths about the physical world could only help to confirm the metaphysical truths that he wrote about and championed. The Kybalion has numerous references to atoms, electricity and chemistry, and in the sixth chapter Atkinson states that “science merely corroborates the Hermetic Teachings.”

I recently came across a mention of this 2006 piece in the New York Times (text and images below), and I can only imagine what Atkinson would have thought if he was around to read it. Maybe astonishment, or perhaps a faint smile and shrug of the shoulders.

“The Universe is Mental- held in the Mind of THE ALL.” -The Kybalion

One is only micrometers wide. The other is billions of light-years across. One shows neurons in a mouse brain. The other is a simulated image of the universe. Together they suggest the surprisingly similar patterns found in vastly different natural phenomen.

Mark Miller, a doctoral student at Brandeis University, is researching how particular types of neurons in the brain are connected to one another. By staining thin slices of a mouse’s brain, he can identify the connections visually. The image above shows three neuron cells on the left (two red and one yellow) and their connections.

An international group of astrophysicists used a computer simulation last year to recreate how the universe grew and evolved. The simulation image above is a snapshot of the present universe that features a large cluster of galaxies (bright yellow) surrounded by thousands of stars, galaxies and dark matter (web).

The Kybalion and the Tower of Babel

May 20, 2011

Update: It looks like The Kybalion will soon see its first translation into Romanian.

Languages The Kybalion has been translated into in the past 103 years:

  • Braille (1950s)
  • Chinese (2008)
  • Czech (2007)
  • Danish (2009)
  • Dutch (1993)
  • French (1917)
  • German (1960)
  • Italian (1971)
  • Japanese (2008)
  • Portuguese (2009)
  • Spanish (1920s)
  • Turkish (unknown)

George Jefferson and The Kybalion

April 16, 2011

The life that a book takes on after its publication can largely be a mystery. However much we can learn about the writing of a book and its publication, once it goes out into the world it is almost impossible to know everyone who bought the book and exactly what their experiences with it were among thousands and thousands of readers. The Kybalion is no exception. In the century since its first publication it has been cherished by its readers, but mostly unknown to the public at large, existing as an influential but underground classic.

One of the best windows we can have on to the reception and reaction to The Kybalion (especially in the time before online message boards and Amazon.com reviews) is through people whose mentions of The Kybalion and references to its Seven Hermetic Principles have found their way to print.  For the most part, this group consists of people who were notable in their own right. We know that the French poet, actor and creator of the term “Theater of Cruelty,” Antonin Artaud, read The Kybalion. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power Positive Thinking, was aware of the teachings of The Kybalion, if not directly than certainly through the writings of Florence Scovel Shinn. During the Reagan administration a Harvard PhD named Eileen Gardner was fired from her post at the Department of Education after only three days when her unorthodox views, partially inspired by The Kybalion, came to light in an uproar of public outrage. (It seems that most people were not comfortable with her view that handicapped children “summon” their problems to themselves…) And with a reference in his latest novel, it is clear that the best-selling contemporary author Dan Brown also knows of The Kybalion.

The book was also significant to at least two famous television actors. In a 2006 segment for the trade paper Daily Variety, Roseanne Barr listed The Kybalion as one of five books “that mean(t) a lot to ” her. More than just having a lot of meaning, The Kybalion was described in a 1982 profile for TV Guide as a life-altering book for Sherman Hemsley, better known for playing the character of George Jefferson on the sitcom The Jeffersons. Hemsley grew up in the Pentecostal church, but according to his own account left at the age of 9, eventual finding his way into a serious practice of meditation and mysticism. He was coy about what  the catalyst for this transformation was, referring only to “the man with the book,” a kindly stranger he met that gave him a powerful text. Unlike Sherman Hemsley, his business partner Andre Pavon was more direct when he described Hemsley passing that same book on to him.  “He gave me that (book) and others. ‘The Kybalion.’ It changed my life. He told me, ‘You got to read it, man.'”

Sherman Hemsley’s relationship with The Kybalion was a common one. In researching The Kybalion, I’ve repeatedly come across stories of people discovering the book after a passionate recommendation from a bookseller, mentor or friend. The important role it has had on one reader gets passed on as they recommend it to others as a book that has changed the way they think and see the world. While the claims in The Kybalion that it was part of an ancient, guarded tradition that was passed down “from mouth to ear” are dubious, it certainly has been part of another tradition closer to our own time and experience. In the past century The Kybalion has lived as a beloved and well-worn book passed from the hand of one friend to another and earnestly recommended from the mouth of one seeker to another in living rooms, bookstores and coffee shops, thousands and thousands of times.

When in Búzios, Brazil…

April 16, 2011

Stay at the Pousada Kybalion Hotel, which features a restaurant, bar and wireless internet access. Official site of the hotel: here.

A Brief Pictorial Survey of Kybalion Classes

April 15, 2011

It would be unusual for any other book to be used as a sales tool, “Key to Self-Mastery” and teaching tool for church services, but for The Kybalion these barely scratch the surfaces of all the different ways it has been used as an instructional text. The Seven Hermetic Laws of The Kybalion have been used in courses by Rosicrucians, amateur scientists, Freemasons, Pagans & Wiccans, pyramid-builders, essential oil therapists and countless smaller occult groups. Below are some advertisements for courses based on The Kybalion I have come across over the last few years of research.

From 1935:

From 1948:

From 1967:

From 2002:

Heavy Metal Kybalion

April 14, 2011

The Kybalion has not only influenced occult and metaphysical groups in the 103 years since its publication. It has also been a force for many in the arts, appearing in novels, paintings, and music. In the 1980s Babette Koblenz set the words of the Seven Hermetic Laws of The Kybalion into a sacred a cappella musical form known as a madrigal spirituale.

Other musicians have given a nod to The Kybalion, and in the case of the Argentinian heavy metal band band Punisher, that nod was in the form of repeated headbanging. After several cassette demos, Punisher released an album in 1998 titled “Kybalion” with a cover that featured a headless horseman on a volcano in the midst of a lightning strike. Sadly, the “Kybalion” album appeared to be Punisher’s swan song. According to one website, they broke up not long after the album’s release when some of the members became Christians.


Listen to the third song (“TNT Power”) from Punisher’s “Kybalion” album here.