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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Mead, George Robert Stowe

(1863-1933). Famous classical scholar who played a significant role in the development of the Theosophical Society (TS) in England and Europe. He was born at Nuneaton, England on March 22, 1863. Mead was educated at Rochester Cathedral School and Cambridge University where he took honors in classics. He came into contact with theosophy through reading Alfred P. Sinnett’s book Esoteric Buddhism and joined the TS in 1884. Mead met Helena P. Blavatsky at Norwood in 1887. He resigned his position at a public school and joined the private TS circle around Blavatsky in 1889 at London. Mead worked as private secretary to Blavatsky and helped edit The Secret Doctrine. In 1888 he edited The Secret Doctrine for its second printing. Mead was General Secretary of the European Section of the TS in 1890 and of the British Section 1891-8. He was awarded the Subba Row Medal in 1898. In 1899 Mead married Laura Cooper who had been one of the intimate circle around Blavatsky.

The relationship between Blavatsky and Mead is well described in an article in the The Theosophist magazine of January 1910: “From that time to her passing away he was her private secretary, and helped her in every way in which ‘a brilliant and capable young man could help that stormy and heroic genius.’ A scholar to the fingertips, a born student, endowed with an untiring industry and with a capacity for deep though undemonstrative devotion, he served her admirably and most usefully through some five years of storm and stress. ‘Mead! Mead!’ would ring through the rooms in excited accents, when some printer’s error or bewildered ‘flapdoodle’ had stirred the easily wakened wrath of the Lion of Theosophy. ‘Yes, old lady!’ came the answer in quiet tones, and Mead would saunter in, with cigarette in mouth, papers in hand, debonair in mien, and would explain, or soothe, or ‘chaff,’ according to circumstances and mood.”

After Blavatsky’s passing, Mead disagreed with Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater and resigned from the TS after Leadbeater was reinstated in 1908. Together with his wife, Mead started a new society called “Quest,” with a magazine of the same name, but both ventures faded out of existence after his death on September 30, 1933.

Publications include:

Simon Magus, Orpheus (The Theosophy of the Greeks), The Upanishads, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, Apollonius of Tyana: Philosopher-Reformer of the First Century CE, The Gospels and the Gospel, Did Jesus Live 100 BC?, Thrice-Greatest Hermes: Studies in Hellenistic Theosophy and Gnosis, Echoes From the Gnosis, The World-Mystery, Some Mystical Adventures, Quests Old and New, The Doctrine of the Subtle Body in Western Tradition, Pistis Sophia, The Gnostic John the Baptizer, The Sacred Dance in Christendom, Notes on Nirvana, Oriental Department Papers, The Chaldean Oracles, The Gnostic Crucifixion, The Gnosis of the Mind, The Hymns of Hermes, The Hymns of Jesus, Hymn of the Robe of Glory, A Mithraic Ritual, Mysteries of Mithra, Essays written as Preface and Bibliography for the new edition of Selected Works of Plotinus, trans. by T. Taylor, London, 1895. Wedding Song of Wisdom, The Vision of Aridaeus.

P.S.H.

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