Dowling, Levi H. (1844–1911)
Levi H. Dowling, the channel who received the classic Spiritualist
text The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, was the son of
a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a conservative
Christian church founded in the early nineteenth century
on the American frontier. As a teenager, Dowling began
preaching and at the age of 18 was pastoring a small congregation
and serving as a chaplain for the Union Army during the
Civil War (1861–65). After the war, he became involved in the
publishing of Sunday school literature. He reportedly attended
two colleges prior to switching professions from the ministry to
medicine, but the nature of his education is unknown. He possibly
attended one of the eclectic or homeopathic schools that
thrived during the period but have since disappeared.
The next years of Dowling’s life are largely undocumented.
He only noted that he spent much time in meditation, attempting
to make contact with the akashic records—according to
Theosophy, the comprehensive records of all of human history
that exist upon an etheric plain. The idea derives from the
Hindu concept of akasha, the primal substance out of which the
universe has been created. In theosophical thought, the akashic
records can be accessed while in certain altered states of consciousness,
especially by some psychics who have prepared
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Dowling, Levi H.
443
themselves. Dowling claimed to have spent four decades preparing
himself.
Toward the end of his life, messages began to flow to Dowling.
He rose early in the morning (between 2 and 6 A.M.) and
wrote down the words as they were received. The result was the
volume known as the Aquarian Gospel, published in 1911, the
year of Dowling’s death. It has been periodically republished
over the years since and has circulated quite freely through
theosophical and Spiritualist groups where many have accepted
it as a truer record of Jesus’ life, work, and teachings than
that recorded in the Bible. Among a few small groups, it has attained
the status of scripture. It was written in chapters and
verses like the modern translations of the Bible (which was divided
into chapters and verses only many centuries after the
various books were written). The Aquarian Gospel covers the life
of Christ and describes a number of incidents unknown in the
older records, such as a trip to India. The overall purpose of
the work, as the name implies, is to announce the coming of a
new age, the Aquarian Age.
Sources
Beskow, Per. Strange Tales about Jesus. Philadelphia Fortress
Press, 1983.
Dowling, Levi H. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Los
Angeles The Author, 1911.
Goodspeed, Edgar. Strange New Gospels. Chicago University
of Chicago Press, 1931. Rev. ed. as Modern Apocrypha. Boston
Beacon Press, 1956.

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