Paschal Beverly Randolph

A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician

By John Patrick Deveney

Subjects: Anthropology Of Religion
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791431207, 607 pages, November 1996
Hardcover : 9780791431191, 607 pages, November 1996

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents





1. Early Years

On the Streets of New York

The Black Man

Upstate New York, Spiritualism, and Free Love

John Murray Spear

Randolph the Spiritualist

Randolph's Medical Specialty: Sex

2. Randolph Abroad: 1855-1858

The World Convention of 1855

English Occultism and Spiritualism in the Mid-1850s

The Scryers

Emma Hardinge Britten's World

Randolph and the British Spiritualists and Mirror Magicians

The French Occult Milieu at Mid-Century

Return to America

Second European Trip: 1857

3. The Fruits of Randolph's Travels in the 1850s



Magic Mirrors

4. Randolph's Recantation of Spiritualism

The Utica Philanthropic Convention

Recantation of Spiritualism

Gerrit Smith

5. Dealings with the Dead: The Mature Visionary

Cosmology and Soul Monads

Soul and Spirit

Beginnings of Practical Occultism

The Blending

Practice and Blending

6. The Rosicrucian


Rosicrucians on Both Sides of the Grave


History behind the Myth?

Reuben Swinburne Clymer's Myths

Randolph's First Rosicrucian Foundations

The Orient, 1861-1862

Pre-Adamite Man

7. The Civil War Years

8. The Post-Civil War Years in Boston

The Rosicrucian Rooms in Boston

After Death; or Disembodied Man

Randolph Publishing Company

Sexual Happiness

The Rosicrucians Again

9. The Great Free-Love Trial


The Great Boston Fire and Toledo

Last Visit to Europe

The Revelation of Sexual Magic

10. The Coming of the Nusa'iri

The Nusa'iri

The Ansairetic Mystery and the Mysteries of Eulis

The Brotherhood of Eulis



11. Post-Mortem

12. Randolph and Madame Blavatsky

The Occult Duel

The Reality behind the Myth

The "Half-Initiated Seer"

The Rosicrucians Yet Again

Brothers of Luxor

Madame Blavatsky and Spiritualism

The Primordial Central Sun

Reincarnation and the Sleep of Sialam

13. Randolph, Blavatsky, and Occult Practice

The Original Purpose of the Theosophical Society

The Enigmatic G. H. Felt

Occult Practice in the Early Years

Blending and Tulku



Appendix A. The Ansairetic Mystery. A New Revelation Concerning Sex!

Appendix B. "The Mysteries of Eulis"

Appendix C. Bibliography of the Works of Paschal Beverly Randolph


Works Cited


This first scholarly work on Randolph includes the full text of his two most important manuscripts on sexual magic.


This is the fascinating story of Paschal Beverly Randolph, an African American who carved his own eccentric path in the mid-nineteenth century from the slums of New York's Five Points to the courts of Europe, where he performed as a spiritualist trance medium. Although self-educated, he became one of the first Black American novelists and took a leading part in raising Black soldiers for the Union army and in educating Freedmen in Louisiana during the Civil War. His enduring claim to fame, however, is the crucial role he played in the transformation of spiritualism, a medium's passive reception of messages from the spirits of the dead, into occultism, the active search for personal spiritual realization and inner vision.

From his experiences in his solitary travels in England, France, Egypt and the Turkish Empire in the 1850s and 1860s, he brought back to America a system of occult beliefs and practices (the magic mirror, hashish use and sexual magic) that worked a revolution. The systems of magic he taught left their traces on many subsequent occultists, including Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society, and are still practiced today by several occult organizations in Europe and American that carry on his work. This is the fist scholarly work on Randolph and includes the full text of his two most important manuscript works on sexual magic.


"This is a superb piece of work. It is the only book that I know of about Randolph, who is generally considered a notable curiosity of nineteenth-century esotericism, but whom the author establishes as an absolutely central and pivotal historical character. This historiography is masterful—meticulously detailed and coherently presented. This is an important book, filling a gap that wasn't previously known to have been so substantial. It's well written, a tour de force at amassing the data. It is a must read. " — Dan Merkur, author of Gnosis: An Esoteric Tradition of Mystical Visions and Unions

"It is fascinating, because the subject's life was filled with dramatic adventure and hardship, and touched upon so many issues of the day. Deveney's work is important in itself as a ground-breaking study of an intriguing character. I can think of no figure in nineteenth-century Western esotericism who has been more unjustly ignored than Randolph. Deveney rescues him from obscurity in this biography, which will be regarded as authoritative for many years to come. " — K. Paul Johnson, author of Initiates of Theosophical Masters and The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge