|James Morgan Pryse (left), with HPB in a "bath-chair" and her private secretary G.R.S. Mead|
I was soon pleased to discover that one of her great-uncles, James Morgan Pryse (Jr.), was somewhat of a celebrity, being a prolific occultist author and a confidant of no less than the (in)famous Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Who was this Pryse fellow? Read on!
- The Pryze family lived in Tredegar, in Monmouth Co., Wales. The patriarch, whose name may have been the easy-to-remember Pryze Pryze, had a son, David, who married one Gwynfed Morgan in 1821. The couple had three children, including James Morgan Pryse, who was born April 15 (my own birthday!), 1826. Gwynfred reportedly died in 1832, and around 1838, David emigrated to America with his children, where he (or the immigration folks) changed his surname to Pryse. He eventually settled in Ohio, and died soon after in 1842.
|The dashing James Jr.|
|HPB and a gaggle of her more mystic cohorts|
- After 15 years in New York, Pryse returned to Los Angeles, where he wrote what many consider his most important text, The Restored New Testament, a theosophical translation of the New Testament. While continuing his affiliation with the larger Theosophical Society and writing articles for its periodicals, he led independent gatherings in Los Angeles. In 1925 he founded the Gnostic Society (possibly the first modern group to describe itself as Gnostic) with six people who met in his home to discuss his metaphysical interpretation of Christianity. The society disbanded soon after Pryse's death on April 22, 1942, but has been revived.
Alas, there are few photos of Pryse, but a fair number for Blavatsky, who frankly was more photogenic, if rarely able to keep her hands from her own throat.