Hall, Manly Palmer (1901–1990) Philosopher, metaphysician, author, and founder of the PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH SOCIETY. Manly Palmer Hall was a prolific writer and lecturer and was renowned for his knowledge of esoteric wisdom. He is best known for his comprehensive work The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Hall was born on March 18, 1901, in Peterborough, Ontario.
His family moved to the United States in 1904, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother. An early interest in the occult, metaphysics, religion, and philosophy led Hall to join freemasonry, rosicrucianism, the Theosophical Society, AND THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF ASTROLOGERS. HE BELIEVED THAT ALL RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHIES POINT TO A UNIVERSAL WISDOM .
AT AGE 20, HALL DELIVERED HIS fiRST PUBLIC LECTURE, ON Reincarnation. HIS fiRST PUBLICATIONS WERE TWO BOOKLETS, The Breastplate of the High Priest and Wands and Serpents, both of which were later incorporated into a booklet, Symbolic Essays. His first books were The Lost Keys of Freemasonry and The Ways of the Lonely Ones. In 1923 he moved to Los Angeles and became minister of a metaphysical church, the Church of the People. He began to publish a magazine, The All-Seeing Eye.
During 1923 and 1924, he traveled throughout Egypt, Europe, and Asia, researching esoteric subjects. Material he collected became part of his eventual magnum opus, An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, published in 1928 and better known as The Secret Teachings of All Ages. It took Hall six years to write it and to raise $100,000 to have it published. The book is a monumental work, made all the more remarkable because of Hall’s young age and lack of higher education. Secret Teachings remains a classic in esoteric literature.
In his preface to the 1975 Golden Anniversary Edition of the encyclopedia, Hall emphasized the importance of symbol s as a means of communicating the great mysteries. Symbolism should be restored to world education, he said, noting that “symbols that help us to grow are precious things for they open the doors to life everlasting.” The encyclopedia itself is “a symbol made up of many symbols gathered from rare sources,” inviting the reader to arrive at his own intuitive understanding of their meanings.
In 1934 Hall founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, which he envisioned as a center of esoteric studies for all of North America. He dedicated it “to the ensoulment of all arts, sciences, and crafts, and devoted to the one basic purpose of advancing the brotherhood of all that lives, to meet all lovers of wisdom on a common ground.” He collected thousands of books and manuscripts for its library, including many rare works. Hall wrote more than 200 books and hundreds of essays and articles on a wide range of esoteric topics. During the six decades of his career, he delivered 8,000 lectures.
Among his other well-known books are The Mystical Christ and Meditation Symbols in Eastern & Western Mysticism (1988), his last work. In 1990 Hall was recognized as a 33rd-degree Mason, the highest rank in the Scottish Rite. He died in Los Angeles on August 29, 1990.
FURTHER READING : Hall, Manly P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages. 1928. Reprint, Los Angeles: The Philosophic Research Society, 1977. “Manly P. Hall.” Available online. URL: http://www/prs.org/ mphbio.htm. Downloaded August 29, 2005.