Manly P. Hall

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Manly P. Hall
Bust of Manly P. Hall.jpg
Bust of Manly P. Hall
Born (1901-03-18)March 18, 1901
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Philosopher, writer
Language English
Citizenship United States
Period 1923–1990
Subject Philosophy
Notable works The Secret Teachings of All Ages
The Lost Keys Of Freemasonry
Spouse Fay Bernice Lee (m. April 28, 1930 – February 22, 1941, her death)
Marie Schweikert Bauer Hall, born June 24, 1904 (m. December 5, 1950 – August 29, 1990, his death; she died April 21, 2005)

Manly Palmer Hall (March 18, 1901 – August 29, 1990) was a Canadian-born author and mystic. He is best known for his 1928 work The Secret Teachings of All Ages.


Early years

Manly P. Hall was born in 1901 in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, to William S. Hall, a dentist, and Louise Palmer Hall, a chiropractor and member of the Rosicrucian Fellowship. In 1919 Hall, who never knew his father, moved from Canada to Los Angeles, California, with his maternal grandmother to reunite with his birth mother, who was living in Santa Monica, and was almost immediately drawn to the arcane world of mysticism, esoteric philosophies, and their underlying principles. Hall delved deeply into "teachings of lost and hidden traditions, the golden verses of Hindu gods, Greek philosophers and Christian mystics, and the spiritual treasures waiting to be found within one's own soul." Less than a year later, Hall booked his first lecture, and the topic was reincarnation.[1]:15–18

A tall (6', 4"), imposing, confident and charismatic speaker who soon took over as preacher of the Church of the People in 1919, at Trinity Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles, he read voraciously on "comparative religion, philosophy, sociology and psychology," and "seemingly overnight . . . became a one-stop source of an astonishing range of eclectic spiritual material that resonates with the intellect, and the subconscious."[1]:21 Hall was ordained a minister in the Church of the People on May 17, 1923, and "a few days later, he was elected permanent pastor of the church."[1]:28

His first publications consisted of two small pamphlets, "The Breastplate of the High Priest" (1920), and "Wands and Serpents." Between 1921 and 1923 he wrote three books, The Initiates of the Flame published in October 1922, The Ways of the Lonely Ones published in 1922, and The Lost Keys of Freemasonry published in March 1923.

During the early 1920s, Carolyn Lloyd and her daughter Estelle—members of a family that controlled a valuable oil field in Ventura County, California—began "sending a sizeable portion of their oil income to Hall," who used the money to travel and acquire a substantial personal library of ancient literature.[1]:38–43 Hall's "first trip around the world to study the lives, customs and religions of countries in Asia and Europe," which commenced December 5, 1923, was paid for by donations from Carolyn Lloyd and his congregation.[1]:41

Later in 1928, at the age of 27 years, he published An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy: Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories and Mysteries of all Ages, which is more commonly referred to as The Secret Teachings of All Ages.[2]:vi The major books which followed include The Dionysian Artificers (1936), Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians (1937), and Masonic Orders of Fraternity (1950).

The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Hall became sufficiently known and respected as a lecturer and interpreter of the writings of the ancients, and the most useful and practical elements of classical idealism, that he successfully appealed, through advertisements and word of mouth, for funds to finance the book that became The Secret Teachings of All Ages, whose original cost of publication in 1928 was estimated to be $150,000,[1]:20–21, 50 although the price of individual copies varied. According to original subscription agreements on file at the Philosophical Research Society, editions were sold by subscription for $75 on a pre-publication basis, but "the price of this edition after delivery by the printer is understood to be One Hundred Dollars." Under the subscription terms, $15 was due at signing of the agreement, and "the balance of Sixty Dollars in four equal monthly payments each."[3] The H.S. Crocker Company of San Francisco agreed to publish the book "if Hall could secure the interest of book designer John Henry Nash, who once worked as a printer to the Vatican."[1]:52

After The Secret Teachings of All Ages was published, Hall "went from being just another earnest young preacher in the City of Angels to becoming an icon of the increasingly influential metaphysical movement sweeping the country in the 1920s. His book challenged assumptions about society's spiritual roots and made people look at them in new ways."[1]:52 Hall dedicated The Secret Teachings of All Ages to "the proposition that concealed within the emblematic figures, allegories and rituals of the ancients is a secret doctrine concerning the inner mysteries of life, which doctrine has been preserved in toto among a small band of initiated minds."[4]:20 As one writer put it: "The result was a gorgeous, dreamlike book of mysterious symbols, concise essays and colorful renderings of mythical beasts rising out of the sea, and angelic beings with lions' heads presiding over somber initiation rites in torch-lit temples of ancestral civilizations that had mastered latent powers beyond the reach of modern man."[1]:50 In 1988, Hall himself wrote: "The greatest knowledge of all time should be available to the twentieth century not only in the one shilling editions of the Bohn Library in small type and shabby binding, but in a book that would be a monument, not merely a coffin. John Henry Nash agreed with me."[5]:4

Publication history

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. More than 80 years later, "with more than a million copies sold, The Secret Teachings of All Ages remains one of the most popular introductions to esoteric traditions."[1]:52 The 1928 first editions of The Secret Teachings of All Ages are considered classic examples of the printing and bookbinding arts, with the later reprinted versions in the original format of considerably lesser quality.[citation needed]

There were five editions, whose copies were numbered:[excessive detail?] the first or Subscribers' Edition, 550 copies; second or King Solomon Edition, 550 copies; third or Theosophical Edition, 200 copies; fourth or Rosicrucian Edition, 100 copies; and the Fifth Edition, 800 copies, making in all 2,200 copies. Attention to detail is exhibited by the Prefaces. The Subscribers' Edition refers to no other edition; the King Solomon Edition mentions the Subscribers' Edition; the Theosophical Edition mentions the Subscribers' Edition and the King Solomon Edition; and the Rosicrucian Edition and the Fifth Edition each state that the first four editions were sold by private subscription before delivery from the printer. There is a "Special Foreword" in the Theosophical Edition and the Rosicrucian Edition.[citation needed] Curiously, the May 1, 1928, date of the "Special Foreword" in the Rosicrucian Edition precedes the May 28, 1928, date of the original Preface of all five editions.[excessive detail?] The special attention to the foregoing details was costly, because the differences between the editions required changes in linotype and the manufacture of different plates to accomplish the printing of relatively small numbers of copies. The 1928 editions were also issued with long, removable bookmarkers 1⅛" wide, made from dark red or brown silk.[excessive detail?]

The first (Subscribers') edition is of historical interest because it is the named first edition, and was and is the only edition in which a List of Subscribers was published (on three pages at the beginning of the book). Only 546 subscribers are named, four fewer than the 550 copies that were published; and while the Subscribers' Edition contains a line on which their names were engraved, and another line for Hall's signature, not all of the names were inscribed.[4][page needed] The List of Subscribers includes 22 institutions (10 of these copies were presented to those institutions), and the remaining 96% were private individuals.[4][page needed]

The 1928 editions quickly went out of print and the sixth edition, published in 1936, was a reduced hardcover facsimile (9" wide and 13" tall) printed in black and white, and was reprinted numerous times in that format. In 1988 and 1997, it was reprinted with the J. Augustus Knapp plates reproduced in color.[2] It was reprinted in paperback in 1989 (9" wide and 12" tall); and in paperback and hardcover in 2007 (6" wide and 9" tall).[2][6] The type and plates from the 1928 editions "were destroyed at the time of World War II, when a shortage of copper made it no longer possible to hold them for future printings."[7]:24

The Secret Teachings of All Ages was not republished in its original size until a Golden Anniversary edition of the Subscribers' Edition was published in 1975, "because of numerous requests for the work in its original size" with, as Hall stated, "the text and color plates faithfuly reproduced by the photolithographic process." Mr. Hall added: "Five editions were printed from the original type, and all of these have been out of print for nearly forty-five years. Since that time copies have been only occasionally available in rare book shops where they have commanded a high premium."[8] A portion of the 1975 edition was numbered (2,500 copies) and signed by Mr. Hall. The Golden Anniversary edition was reprinted in 1977 and 1979.[citation needed] There is some confusion among readers that the 1975 edition was limited to 550 copies because the reprinted Subscribers' Edition included the limitation page, which states the edition was limited to 550 copies; however, considerably more than 550 copies of the reprinted Subscribers' Edition were published.[excessive detail?]

In 1988, a limited and a regular Diamond Jubilee Edition of the Subscribers' Edition was published. The former was limited to 250 numbered copies, each signed by Hall on a parchament presentation page, bound in sewn signatures, with pages gilded on all edges, and a case whose colors matched the cover of the book.[2] The regular 1988 Diamond Jubilee Edition was not signed, numbered or gilded; it was reprinted in 1998.

The book's continuing popularity is evidenced by publication in 2003 of a paperback (6" wide and 9" tall) "Reader's Edition" in which "the text is fully reset and the pages renumbered according to contemporary numerals, rather than the Roman numerals of the original edition . . . [and] includes some of the finest of the color plates and approximately one hundred of the most pertinent line drawings."[5]

The Subscribers' Edition reprints of 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1988 are not of the same quality as the five original editions of 1928; the watercolored paintings lack the vibrancy, sharpness and depth of color of those in the 1928 editions, and some of the fine detail in the line drawings has been lost.[excessive detail?] The binding and cover mimic the original, but lack its quality and varies in design; the original 1928 edition is 1¾" thick, while the reprint edition is 1¼" thick because the paper is of lesser quality; tan leather rather than vellum is used; some editions were sewn, while others are perfect bound and lack the flexibility of a book with sewn signatures; and some were issued with reproduction cases made from heavy fiberboard and covered with the same binding as the book.[excessive detail?][citation needed]

Career as philosopher

During the early 1930s, using money from the Lloyds, "Hall traveled to France and England, where he acquired his most extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts in alchemy and esoteric fields from London auctioneer, Sotheby & Company." Through an agent, due to the depressed economic conditions of the era, Hall was able to buy a substantial number of rare books and manuscripts at reasonable prices. When Caroline Lloyd died in 1946, she bequeathed Hall a home, $15,000 in cash, and "a roughly $10,000 portion of her estate's annual income from shares in the world's largest oil companies for 38 years."[1]:60

In 1934, Hall founded the Philosophical Research Society (PRS) in Los Angeles, California, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization[9] dedicated to the study of religion, mythology, metaphysics, and the occult.[10]

He was a Knight Patron of the Masonic Research Group of San Francisco, with which he was associated for a number of years prior to his Masonic affiliations. On June 28, 1954, Hall initiated as a Freemason into Jewel Lodge No. 374, San Francisco (now the United Lodge); passed September 20, 1954; and raised November 22, 1954. He took the Scottish Rite Degrees a year later.[11] He later received his 32° in the Valley of San Francisco AASR (SJ).[12] On December 8, 1973 (47 years after writing The Secret Teachings of All Ages), Hall was recognized as a 33° Mason (the highest honor conferred by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite) at a ceremony held at the Philosophical Research Society (PRS)[13][14]).

Ticket for Manly P. Hall at Carnegie Hall, Dec. 2, 1942

In his over 70-year career, Hall delivered approximately 8,000 lectures in the United States and abroad, authored over 150 books and essays, and wrote countless magazine articles. He appears in the introduction to the 1938 film When Were You Born, a murder mystery that uses astrology as a key plot point. It is also noteworthy that Manly Hall wrote the original story for the film, (screenplay by Anthony Coldeway) and is also credited as the narrator.

In 1942, Manly Hall spoke to an attendance-setting audience at Carnegie Hall, on "The Secret Destiny of America," which later became a book of the same title. He returned in 1945 for another well-attended lecture at the famous venue, titled: "Plato's Prophecy of Worldwide Democracy." [15]

Personal life

Hall and his followers went to extreme lengths to keep any gossip or information that could tarnish his image from being publicized, and little is known about his first marriage, on April 28, 1930, to Fay B. deRavenne, then 28, who had been his secretary during the preceding five years. The marriage was not a happy one; his friends never discussed it, and Hall removed virtually all information about her from his papers following her suicide on February 22, 1941.[1]:55, 97 Following a long friendship, on December 5, 1950, Hall married Marie Schweikert Bauer (following her divorce from George Bauer), and the marriage though stormy was happier than his first.[16] Marie Schweikert Bauer Hall died April 21, 2005.[1]:120, 127, 133, 278 She was born on June 24, 1904.


The PRS still maintains a research library of over 50,000 volumes,[17] and also sells and publishes metaphysical and spiritual books, mostly those authored by Hall.[18]

After his death, some of Manly Hall's rare alchemy books were sold to keep the PRS in operation. "Acquisition of the Manly Palmer Hall Collection in 1995 provided the Getty Research Institute with one of the world's leading collections of alchemy, esoterica, and hermetica."[19]

It was reported in 2010 that President Ronald Reagan adopted some ideas and phrasing from Hall’s book The Secret Destiny of America (1944), using them in speeches and essays.[20]


  • Selected Major Works
  • Other Books & Texts
    • (1922) The Initiates of the Flame. The first published book by Hall[23]
    • Lectures in Ancient Philosophy: An Introduction to Practical Ideals
    • The Adepts Series
    • Lady of Dreams: A fable in the manner of the Chinese (Los Angeles, 1943)
    • (1980) The Blessed Angels: A Monograph [24]
    • (1929) Lectures on Ancient Philosophy—An Introduction to the Study and Application of Rational Procedure [25]
    • (1933) Introduction to Max Heindel's Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, 1933 [26]
    • (1944) The Secret Destiny of America [27]
    • (1951) America's Assignment with Destiny [28]
    • Unofficial Listing of All Books by Manly P. Hall, with topics [29]
  • Journals
    • Catalogs of articles in The All-Seeing Eye, Horizon, and PRS Journal [30]
    • A Monthly Letter Devoted to Spiritual and Philosophical Problems [31]
  • Essays
    • Atlantis, An Interpretation
    • Symbolic Essays
    • Noah and His Wonderful Ark

See also


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  3. Several original subscription documents were located by Edie Shapiro, PRS Librarian, on August 6, 2012. Ms. Shapiro stated: "It appears the price was $50, $75 or $100 (or complimentary, depending)," so an exact accounting of the costs may not be possible to reconstruct.
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  9. The Philosophical Research Society's Tax Exempt Status – The Philosophical Research Society's declaration of its 501(c)3 nonprofit status on its website, retrieved December 12, 2010.
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  11. The Manly Palmer Hall Archive, retrieved September 28, 2009.
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  13. MPH Biography
  14. Manly P. Hall's Obituary, Scottish Rite Journal, November, 1990, p. 22. [1]. (Note: archives don't go back this far so this reference is in question. However, the Philosophical Research Society Manly Palmer Hall biography states this (word-for-word) except the text on this page stated the 33° is the highest degree conferred by the Scottish Rite, a rare and high honor, Manly Palmer Hall, was given the highest honor conferred by the Scottish Rite in recognition of his esteemed work: The Grand Cross of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, Washington, D.C. in 1985 (can only be conferred on 33rd Degree Masons). The Supreme Council – Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? – The Methods of Anti-Masons questions Hall's Mason authority status.
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  20. "Reagan and the Occult" by Mitch Horowitz, The Washington Post, Political Bookworm, April 30th, 2010
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Further reading

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