Ascended Masters are enlightened beings whom many in
the esoteric field believe have evolved beyond the need to reincarnate
on earth and now act from a higher plane of existence
to assist humans in their movement toward enlightenment and
guide the race in its destined evolution. The concept of ascended
masters was popularly introduced by Madame Helena Petrovna
Blavatsky, cofounder of the Theosophical Society, and
described in some detail in her most important book, The Secret
Doctrine. Blavatsky taught that both individuals and the human
race were engaged in an upward evolutionary process. At the
same time, she pictured a hierarchy of Masters headed by a
being known as the Solar Logos. Those masters at the lowest
level of the hierarchy regularly interacted with humanity. The
Masters El Morya and Koot Hoomi have had a special role in
the formation and guidance of the society. One of the early
members of the society, A. P. Sinnett, also received regular
communications from the masters that became the basis of two
important theosophical texts, Esoteric Buddhism and the Mahatma
Letters to A. P. Sinnett.
Together, the masters constituted the Great White Brotherhood.
A number of the spiritual leaders from past history were
pictured as members of the hierarchy. For example, the person
known as Jesus, revered as the fountainhead of Christianity, is
believed to hold the office of Maitreya in the hierarchy. The
work of the masters was championed by Blavatskys successor
Annie Besant and her colleague Charles W. Leadbeater,
whose works further elaborated upon the nature and work of
Blavatsky also introduced the idea of ascension as a goal for
humans, a concept made central of I AM Religious Activity,
an organization founded by Guy W. Ballard, who further developed
theosophical concepts. Ballard taught that it was possible
through following the disciplines of the movement, including
vegetarianism, to so purify the self that the individual need
not die but could ascend to the next level of conscious existence.
Ballards own untimely death necessitated some revision
of that ideal, and the natural process of death was integrated
into the understanding of the process of ascension. Ballard is
now believed to have assumed a position as an ascended master,
as has Mark Prophet, the founder of the Summit Lighthouse
(now the Church Universal and Triumphant), a group
similar to the I AM.
Ballard regularly and publicly served as a messenger for a
variety of Ascended Masters, especially Comte de St. Germain.
At the same time, Alice A. Bailey claimed contact with a Master
she generally called The Tibetan, named Djwhal Khul. Both
became models for a variety of people through the last half of
the twentieth century who have claimed contact with and who
have channeled messages from the masters. By the 1970s, over
one hundred groups with roots in the Theosophical Society
that either acknowledged the messages from the masters received
by Blavatsky and/or were receiving new messages regularly
from the masters were functioning in the Englishspeaking
world. One group of channelers, beginning with
George King, founder of the Aetherius Society, have claimed
contact with extraterrestrial entities, who nevertheless have the
same names as the members of the spiritual hierarchy originally
described by Blavatsky. Flying saucer contactees, such as
Dorothy Martin of the Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara,
described them as members of an outer space hierarchy.
During the 1970s, the practice of channeling messages from
the Masters spread to a much larger audience as a result of the
New Age Movement, a revitalization movement that spread
through the Western theosophical groups and adopted channeling
as one of its key activities. While New Age channelers received
material from a variety of sources, many claimed to be
in touch with the same ascended masters as Blavatsky, Bailey,
and Ballard. Most notable among these is Benjamin Crème,
who claimed not only to receive messages from the Master
Maitreya, but that this particular entity had returned to human
society and was walking among us. The emphasis upon ascended
masters accompanied an emphasis upon individual ascension
as the goal of the spiritual life. Ascension had been placed
upon the agenda of the metaphysical community by Guy Ballard
and the I AM Movement, but had not become a signifiAsatru
Folk Assembly Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
cant teaching until the New Age Movement began to wane in
The ascended masters have been likened to angelic beings
in Christian folklore. Given the impersonal and transcendently
remote deity of Western esoteric worldviews, the masters serve
as a source of revelation and authority. They are seen as authoritative
teachers of spiritual wisdom. They are highly revered
for the knowledge they present, though as a rule they do
not receive worship, a practice that does not have a prominent
place in most esoteric groups. The masters have also been compared
to the bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhist thought. They
are compassionate beings dedicated to humanity and its uplift.
Contemporary writers on ascended masters have nominated
many of the spiritual exemplars of all religious traditions as
having become ascended masters while also greatly expanding
the number of ascended masters believed to be currently interacting
Ballard, Guy W. [as Godfre Ray King]. Unveiled Mysteries.
Chicago: Saint Germain Press, 1934.
Besant, Annie. The Masters. Adyar, India: The Theosophist
. The White Lodge and Its Messengers. Adyar, India:
Theosophical Publishing House, 1931.
Crème, Benjamin. The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters
of Wisdom. London: Tara Press, 1980.
Garver, Will I. Brother of the Third Degree. Halcyon, Calif.:
Halcyon Temple Press, 1894, 1929.
Leadbeater, Charles W. The Masters and the Path. Adyar,
India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925.
Prophet, Elizabeth Clare. The Great White Brotherhood in the
History and Religion of America. Los Angeles: Summit University
Sinnett, A. P. Esoteric Buddhism. London: Trubner, 1883.
. The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. London: T. Fisher
Stone, Joshua David. The Ascended Masters Light the Way: Beacons
of Ascension. Sedona, Ariz.: Light Technology Publishing,