Annie Besant (1847–1933) was an outspoken feminist, political activist and longtime president of the Theosophical Society. She was also an ardent advocate of psychic and spiritual development. In Invisible Worlds: Annie Besant on Psychic and Spiritual Development, consciousness researcher and Besant expert Kurt Leland has collected 16 of Besant’s articles, lectures and pamphlets that provide guidelines for the pursuit of such development, which Besant felt should be available to all.
Still renowned as a spiritual teacher throughout the English-speaking world and beyond, Besant focused on the goal of developing our dense and subtle bodies. First, we should explore and master their faculties for action, feeling, and thought, each of which is well within our reach. According to Besant, these faculties correspond to our physical, astral, and mental bodies. Then we should explore and master the inner senses, specialized for perception on the higher planes on which our subtle bodies operate as vehicles of consciousness.
The aim of such training was to enable us to rise to the spiritual plane where we might be taught by highly evolved beings—sometimes called “the Masters.” Besant believed she had accomplished this goal for herself, that it changed her life in positive ways, and that with a proper understanding of the process, others could achieve the same goal.
Invisible Worlds provides authoritative texts, made readable and relevant to a contemporary audience of spiritual seekers, with copious annotation and a study guide that suggests possibilities for further exploration of Theosophical literature on psychic and spiritual development. Besant’s writings are divided into four parts— Occultism Light and Dark, Higher Life Training, the Investigation of Different Worlds, and the Science of the Superphysical.
Although penned a century ago, Besant’s wisdom on the subject is still germane. Her prose is clear and inspiring, and Kurt Leland’s introduction and notes are well-informed.