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Manly P. Hall

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Manly P. Hall

(March 18, 1901 – August 29, 1990)

Summary

Manly Palmer Hall (March 18, 1901 – August 29, 1990) was a Canadian-born mystic, eclectic philosopher, and founder of the Philosophical Research Society, a modern equivalent of the school of Pythagoras. He was the 20th century’s most prolific writer on mysticism, magic, and ancient philosophies. He authored more than 200 books and gave more than 8000 lectures, most of them weekly at the headquarters of the Philosophical Research Institute.

Hall is best known for his 1928 work The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Hall published his magnum opus, an introduction to ancient symbols and secret traditions, at the age of 27, to immediate acclaim. It is the most important book of the early twentieth-century American occult revival and remains influential to this day.

Philosophical Research Society (PRS)

Manly was not happy with the fact that esoteric and occult teachings had no place in American universities and he decided to establish a spiritual center in Los Angeles of his own design and purpose with the mission to teach the “practical idealism” preserved in over 100,000 of the wonder-texts of antiquity, develop programs for the good of society, and excite his students’ desire to put them to work in everyday life.

On November 20, 1934, Hall’s nonprofit Philosophical Research Society bought a prime piece of real estate overlooking Los Feliz Boulevard and the hills leading to Griffith Park from Capitol Holding Company. On October 17, 1935, about 100 people assembled to break ground for their new headquarters.

PRS provided a cloistered setting where Hall spent the rest of his life teaching, writing, and assembling a remarkable collection of antique texts and devotional objects. His small campus eventually grew to include a fifty-thousand-volume library, a three-hundred-seat auditorium, a bookstore, a warehouse, an office, and a courtyard. It became one of the most popular destinations in Los Angeles for the spiritually curious.

After Hall’s death the campus barely survived simultaneous legal battles – one with Hall’s widow, who claimed it owed her money, and another with the eccentric con artist Fritz, who had befriended the ailing octogenarian to pilfer his antiques and assets in the estimation of a civil-court judge. Hall had signed over his estate to this shadowy “trustee” just six days before his passing.

The financial damage from these difficult years was irreversible. Following a protracted court battle the nonprofit organization faced a $2 million legal debt, but the control was turned over to a group of longtime supporters. They were forced to sell of many cherished items to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and European collectors.

The PRS did regain fiscal health beginning in 1993 and continued to print different editions of the “Great Book.”  PRS now offers a full calendar of lectures, online courses, workshops, wellness classes, concerts, and special events to the general public.

The Secret Teaching 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 known as The Secret Teachings of All Ages, whose original cost of publication in 1928 was estimated to be $150,000, 1, 50  although the price of individual copies varied. The full title of the book is 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.

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.” 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.”  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.”

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.”


Author of (Books)


  • The Initiates of the Flame. The first published book by Hall – 1992
  • The Lost Keys of Freemasonry – 1923
  • The Noble Eightfold Path. Teachings of the Great Buddha, in 7 parts.
  • (Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles) – 1925
  • The Secret Teachings of All Age – 1928
  • Introduction to Max Heindel’s Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, 1933
  • How to Understand Your Bible -1942
  • Lady of Dreams: A fable in the manner of the Chinese (Los Angeles) – 1943
  • The Secret Destiny of America – 1944
  • The Guru by His Disciple – The Way of the East – 1944
  • America’s Assignment with Destiny – 1951
  • The Blessed Angels: A Monograph – 1980
  • Meditation Symbols in Eastern & Western Mysticism-Mysteries of the Mandala – 1988
  • Melchizedek & the Mystery of fire – 1996

Lectures & Articles

  • Lectures in Ancient Philosophy: An Introduction to Practical Ideals
  • Lectures on Ancient Philosophy — An Introduction to the Study and Application of Rational Procedure
  • The Brazen Serpent

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