The website www.whiteagleteachings.org
offers a database of White Eagle talks, all given through Grace Cooke (‘Minesta’) and includes a brief introduction only – this page is to give more background information for the user.
So far, communications by White Eagle loaded onto this database fall into two categories, although more categories will be developed later. ‘Addresses’, or ‘Sunday Addresses’, carry the prefix ‘A’ and were in every case talks given in the context of a service of worship.
‘Teachings’ are a regular, numbered series of ‘Inner Teachings’, normally given on a weekday evening without any framework other than a prayer and questions after. A later series is likely to be called ‘Talks’, i.e. messages given by White Eagle away from the premises of the Mother Lodge, or at ‘Daughter Lodges’ on a weekday evening.
In both sets, Addresses and Inner Teachings, initials have been used to designate those who worked on the scripts. GEC and IC are Grace and Ivan Cooke, also referred to as Minesta and Brother Faithful. YGH is Ylana Hayward and GMH her husband Geoffrey; JGH is Joan Hodgson – both were unmarried when early scripts were produced, and Ylana was better known as Greta Cooke. KIH is Irene Hancock, SB is Susan Burdett, AMI is Alison Innes, and MB is Marian Bumford. White Eagle gave these sisters the names Radiance, Sara, Pearl and Serena, respectively.
Individual introduction to the teachings and the addresses follow.
White Eagle’s Inner Teachings
Almost immediately the White Eagle Lodge opened its doors in Kensington, London, in February 1936, weekly activities included not only Sunday services but a regular class in ‘Spiritual Unfoldment’ and a weekly ‘Inner Teaching’. The first of the Inner Teachings was given on 4th March 1936, a Wednesday, although later the regular evening for the Inner Teaching became the Tuesday. As the years went by, the teachings were given less frequently and became monthly, and finally only took place occasionally.
They were not public lectures inasmuch as attenders had to be members of the Lodge, and it was assumed that they would be committed students. However, the duplicated scripts, taken down in shorthand and then transcribed, were available on subscription with the same restrictions understood. These must therefore be seen as ‘talks to dedicated students’ rather than open events, and this distinguishes them from a class of White Eagle teaching that will eventually appear on this database, his lectures outside the main Lodge.
Because of the restrictions on attendance, White Eagle was able to talk just a little more intimately to his audience than on more public occasions such as those public talks, given in halls and for Spiritualist organisations. Nonetheless, he himself owns that there were times that strong mental characteristics in his audience actually limited what he himself could say – by implication, he even acknowledges that strong minds in the audience could even alter what he intended to put across. However, in contrast to one of the public talks which was clearly disrupted by an audience member who more or less heckled White Eagle, the audience for the Inner Teachings was a committed, serious one.
White Eagle very often began with a prayer of invocation and sometimes ended with a benediction, and the questions following the address would be managed by a chairperson – normally Brother Faithful in the early days. Many of the talks were ‘taken down’ by Ylana Hayward, and others perhaps by Sarah Burdett. After the latter’s death, Alison Innes joined the team. It is uncertain which room at Pembroke Hall was chosen for the Inner Teachings, the main chapel or the Brotherhood chapel, and at St Mary Abbots Place, the Lodge’s second home in Kensington, they possibly moved from the main chapel at the beginning to the Brotherhood chapel upstairs after further rooms were taken on in 1943. There was also a chapel known as the Grace chapel on the ground floor, and this may well have been used in wartime as it was safer in the event of aerial bombings.
After Minesta became too elderly for White Eagle to speak through her the stock of Inner Teachings – all 290 or so of them – became a resource for a read Inner Teaching with Questions.
It is very remarkable that the long series on St John’s Gospel, which forms Inner Teachings nos. 134-156, was given in the midst of the second world war, despite air raids and blackout. Another important series (95-104) was given the collective title ‘The Path’ (and is not to be confused with another series, entitled ‘The Path of the Soul’, 157-165, which made it to book form, originally under the same title).
White Eagle’s Sunday Addresses
White Eagle gave an occasional Sunday Address within a service even before the Lodge was constituted in 1936: at Burstow Manor in Surrey, at the Stead Library in Westminster, at the Marylebone Spiritualist Association (later the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain) and at the London Spiritual Mission on Notting Hill, as well as at White Eagle Daughter Lodges around Britain and in the groups that predated them. The earliest address we have, not currently included here, is from 1933 (‘talks’ go back to 1932). The context of those given away from the Lodge itself is more or less unrecorded but the format of the in-Lodge Sunday service was fairly consistent over the years, and will be described below.
Any titles given to Sunday addresses were added when they were published (a few titles have even been added for this Database, to aid in searches and to distinguish them). Early Sunday addresses were much more thematic than later ones – White Eagle slowly evolved the ability for a broad discursive style in the Sunday addresses which he would never have allowed himself in the Inner Teachings. Every now and again in the Addresses we get the sense of White Eagle following a theme for a few months, but all are able to stand alone.
At Pembroke Hall, the Lodge’s first premises, and at St Mary Abbots Place (from 1941), White Eagle spoke on the first Sunday of the month, otherwise only at Festivals. The Edinburgh Lodge is important to the story because services were relocated there after the bombing of Pembroke Hall in 1940.
At the beginning, the platform at other Sunday services in the London Lodge even included a guest medium. Although we do not for certain know the format of these early services in the Lodge, it is understood that for several years, copying a Spiritualist service, the service included clairvoyance as well as the address, although this practice had certainly died out by the mid-1950s. Hymns would be sung, prayers said, and there was generally a shorter reading early in the service, before White Eagle spoke (references in the addresses show that in the earlier period there were often two). These shorter readings, in the early days, were more often than not taken from the Bible or from other accounts of Jesus’ life such as The Aquarian Gospel; later, it became much more common for a reading to come from a published White Eagle teaching.
White Eagle’s prayers, sometimes reproduced here with the address, were so much loved that they were collected very early on – first in A Little Book of Prayers (1937, subsequently Prayers of the New Age and later Prayer in the New Age) and finally in Prayer, Mindfulness and Inner Change (2003). Where there is any sort of reference to be found to the items which formed the outer part of the service, such as the readings and the hymns, we have conveyed that information here, in the headnote to each address.
Any such details about the circumstance of the addresses has been added in the headnotes, including anthems sung by the Choir, under ‘Context’, while a few details of worldly events, particularly in the wartime, has been added under ‘Historical Notes’, not necessarily evenly. ‘General notes’ sometimes points out important characteristics of the address, but is also explanatory of the terms used. ‘Text’, actually the first of these Headnote headings, explains how far the address text may be deemed reliable. A printed source will have been corrected and well examined for necessary edits to be added; a typescript source will be free of editing, but may contain errors both of transcription and typing which maybe were corrected as the addresses went to press.
As far as can be achieved, picturing the circumstances of the address will help to improve the imaginative connection with it, something which in turn will allow a broader range of understanding than simple mental acuity. This is the reason for the notes we have offered.
Whereas the Inner Teachings do make some sort of call upon the mind, the best way to read the Sunday addresses is a process of meditative ‘immersion’ in them: attenders at the Sunday services often listened with their eyes closed. Some indication of this can be heard in a comment White Eagle himself made, in a 1937 Sunday address (11 April) – referring to the whole group of beings who came surrounding him when he spoke, what he would have called ‘the brotherhood in spirit’ or ‘the elder brethren’.
‘We bring love, beloved – all embracing, all understanding – and pray that you may absorb into your very being during this hour of communion some of the love brought by these radiant beings’.
Ten years later (7 July 1947), he said, ‘When you come into this Lodge to listen to a talk which flows from one who dwells in the spirit world, you must necessarily weigh and consider deeply what you hear; but more than any reasoning of the mind you will feel the power of the spirit in your soul, the power of the invisible brethren who are gathering around you’.
White Eagle refers often to the bird which sang outside the window, particularly at St Mary Abbots Place, and remarkably rarely to unpleasant things such as air raids. However, there were two brief wartime hiatuses in Sunday activities, the first following the bombing of Pembroke Hall in September 1940 and the second in the late summer of 1944, when attacks by V1 and V2 rockets made activity in Kensington intolerable. The time of the service was different in winter and summer, because of the wartime blackout.
Some of the dates of the Sunday addresses have not been preserved; in compiling this archive, we have tried to reconstruct the sequence as far as possible but none of the conjectural dates can be one hundred percent vouched for.
Regular stenographers and typists for the addresses included Ylana Hayward, Sara Burdett, Alison Innes and Marian Bumford and are identified by their initials in the headnotes.
Note that there is an online Glossary with both Inner Teachings and Addresses, which offers further help with terms encountered in the text. Another document online alongside these Introductions is a set of three articles by Colum Hayward entitled ‘Reading the White Eagle Teaching