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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Rawson, Albert Leighton

(1828-?). Author, traveler, artist and theosophist. An important figure in the early years of the Theosophical Society (TS), Rawson joined the Society in New York. He was the son of Edward Rawson and Betsey Armington Rawson and was born on October 15, 1828, in Chester, Vermont, U.S. It appears that he had wide ranging interests and studied law, theology and medicine. At the age of seventeen he had his first book, Divine Origin of the Holy Bible, published which was quickly followed by Stella and other novels; Rawson, however, was primarily known for his landscape painting and engraving.

According to K. Paul Johnson (The Masters Revealed), Rawson first met Helena P. Blavatsky in Cairo in 1851 during one of his many journeys to the Middle East. H. P. Blavatsky identifies him as “Professor” (IU II:312 and 313) and an “initiate” (loc. cit., p. 312), and quotes at length a letter she had received from him in 1887 (loc. cit., pp. 312-5). In that letter, Rawson tells of his involvement in secret societies and states that he was an initiate of the Druzes in Lebanon. In 1882 Rawson traveled to Rochester, New York, to establish the first branch of the TS outside New York City. A lengthy article by Rawson on Blavatsky appeared in The Spiritualist in London on April 5, 1878, in which he defends Blavatsky against an attack on her by a spiritualist. Another article by Rawson about Blavatsky appeared in Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, February 1892 entitled Madame Blavatsky — a Theosophical Occult Apology. According to Johnson, this article is a mixture of respect for Blavatsky and reservations about theosophy.

It is reasonable to assume that Rawson, with his extensive studies and knowledge of oriental religions and close affinity for many middle eastern spiritual societies, would have had a not inconsiderable influence on Blavatsky. They spent much time together in Egypt and New York.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Blavatsky, H. P. Isis Unveiled. 1877.

de Zirkoff, B. Collected Writings. Vol. I.

Johnson, K. Paul. The Masters Revealed. 1994.

P.S.H.

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