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REVIEW: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

The ‘Readers Edition’ of THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES by Manly P. Hall is available from Amazon US and UK

There aren’t too many books which you can describe as life-changing. Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages was one of those books for me. When I first encountered an earlier edition of this old tome at age twelve, I had to deal with a huge book filled with occult imagery and complemented by a suitably thick layer of dust, unearthed in a dim recess of the local library. While certainly a nice prop in the movies, it certainly was an awkward thing to read at a small study desk.

For those wishing to add a copy of this influential book to their collection, the good folks over at Penguin-Tarcher have done us all a massive favour in releasing a “Reader’s Edition” (see Amazon US and UK) of Hall’s masterwork – somehow squeezing the text (and a fair number of the images) into a very portable 672-page paperback of less-than 6 by 10 inch dimensions. Not to mention you can pick it up for well under $US20 at Amazon. Book cover of The Secret Teachings of All AgesBut enough of the superficial details – what is it about this book that has inspired so many?

For me personally – looking in retrospect – I think I found in Hall a kindred spirit, and in his book an encyclopediac survey of all those teachings “wholly beyond the pale of materialistic theology”. I’m sure, as an impressionable twelve-year-old, the majestic esoteric look of the book helped plenty as well. But Hall’s attitude to our modern dogma of materialism, and the urgent need to reclaim the sacred, was eerie in its prescience. In the preface to the Diamond Jubilee edition of The Secret Teachings, he reflected on the circumstances which led him to write the book:

The original edition was planned and issued in the interval between the termination of World War I and the Great Depression of 1929. During this time I had a brief career on Wall Street, the outstanding event of which was witnessing a man depressed over investment losses take his life

My fleeting contact with high finance resulted in serious doubts concerning business as it was being conducted. It was apparent that materialism was in complete control of the economic structure, the final objective of which was for the individual to become part of a system providing an economic security at the expense of the human soul, mind, and body.

In the eight decades since the book was first published it would seem that Hall’s concern was well justified, and the urgency for a solution to rampant materialism has grown exponentially. That is not to say that Hall failed in his goal, for The Secret Teachings of All Ages has become one of the classics of esoteric literature, and influenced many in varied ways. Are we to expect the masses of our reality TV generation to pick up this work and read with interest about the Cabiric Mysteries of Samothrace? Not likely. But perhaps it has and will continue to influence enough of the right people, that some of the sacred will be reclaimed through their own contributions.

To provide a suitable summary of the content of this book would take a book itself. All that can be offered in this space is that The Secret Teachings of All Ages will tutor you on the ancient mysteries, secret societies, philosophy, myth and religion. Chapters on Pythagoras, the Rosicrucians, Alchemy, Qabbalism, mystic Christianity, the Tarot and Zodiac (almost 50 chapters all up) will leave the reader not just enlightened, but perhaps even initiated. However, while it may bear all the hallmarks of a Bible of the mystical, this is not God’s infallible word. It is the awe-inspiring writings of a disaffected twenty-something, who is wise enough to preface his work by saying:

I make no claim for either the infallibility or the originality of any statement herein contained. I have studied the fragmentary writings of the ancients sufficiently to realize that dogmatic utterances concerning their tenets are worse than foolhardy. Traditionalism is the curse of modern philosophy, particularly that of the European schools.

Did I say twenty-something? Certainly – Manly P. Hall had not even turned 28 when The Secret Teachings of All Ages was first published. To many, such a fact would perhaps turn them off the book, fearing a superficial and immature survey of the world’s most spiritual ideas and traditions. However, this is not the case. Somehow – whether you label it channeling, past-life knowledge, or just plain precocious talent – Hall was able to assemble a masterwork worthy of a 70-year-old professor of religion and philosophy (for more about this, read the TDG blog of Penguin-Tarcher editor Mitch Horowitz titled “The Inscrutable Manly P. Hall“).

The other refreshing aspect of The Secret Teachings is its objective presentation. While most modern authors use the ancient traditions to justify their own personal theory (or best-selling self-help CD range), Hall worked from a different angle. The Secret Teachings of All Ages was meant as a codex of mystical philosophies – a comprehensive guide for the neophyte to the often fragmentary writings of the ancient sages and mystery schools. Hall again explains:

Having no particular ‘ism’ of my own to promulgate, I have not attempted to twist the original writings to substantiate preconceived notions, nor have I distorted doctrines in any effort to reconcile the irreconcilable differences present in the various systems of religio-philosophic thought.

The entire theory of the book is diametrically opposed to the modern method of thinking, for it is concerned with subjects openly ridiculed by the sophists of the twentieth century. Its true purpose is to introduce the mind of the reader to a hypothesis of living wholly beyond the pale of materialistic theology, philosophy or science.

This is a work to be treasured, and for anyone interested in esoteric philosophy I sincerely recommend this new readers edition of The Secret Teachings of All Ages. If you have the money, then the hardcover edition (see Amazon US and UK) would certainly be a worthwhile acquisition. But for the rest of us, Tarcher-Penguin have offered the next best thing. Boasting the full text of the original, plus 100 line drawings and 14 of the original colour plates by artist J. Augustus Knapp, the new reader’s edition of The Secret Teachings of All Ages takes pride of place on my reading table – and will be a work that I pass on to my own children.

  1. STOAA Society…Interest?
    Would anyone like to form a Secret Teachings of All Ages Society?

    If any of you are interested in creating such a society, I would be interested in being a part of such. It would be a joy to discuss the meanings behind some of the topics. If any of you are so driven, please let me know and we can begin to brainstorm about how to organize this STOAA Society.


  2. Great Idea!
    Hello Everyone!
    I am new here, I was actually looking for more information on the secret teachings of all ages when I came across this site and particular forum in my google search. I know it was not coincidental. I have the book and treasure it’s truths and information. It’s great to know there are others who share the same enthusiasm. I strive daily to live a sacred life and stumbled upon the book by chance it has brought much enlightenment to my spiritual journey. I am not a great intellect, I am just a everyday woman who has a great thirst for the sacred and spiritual. I would love to be a part of a society that focuses on the secret teachings. I live in Washington DC and am willing to do what it takes to get something started here in the nations capitol.

    1. Great Idea!
      Hi sistersharon,
      If you are interested in joining a society that teaches the sacred and spiritual may I suggest A.M.O.R.C. I have been a member for six years now and have found the teachings fascinating. There’s lots of info on their website Light, Life and Love, Steve Kretscher FRC.

      1. Please contact me
        Hi Steve, – I hope you remember me – Gidon from Photoplastics. Its been many many years!! – I was wondering whether you have any contact with your dad, and if yes, whether you can give me his contact details.

        Thanks & regards

        Gidon Stemmer – mail

  3. SECRET TEACHINGS – Manly P. Hall
    The copy that I have is a 1975 edition that is 9 by 12 inches, which has been reduced by one third from the original.

    I was introduced to the book in 1970 at the A.R.E. at Virginia Beach, where I saw a First Edition color, full-sized copy of the book. Talk about an eye-opener. I recommend looking at one if you ever get a chance. The black and white copy is sort of a let down after seeing the thing in color.

    1. read this online…
      …doesn’t seem to take a consistent stand on the origins or purposes of the bloodline…I’m not one to put a good conspiracy theory down but this does seem to spin out of control…Where is his research? And what was the rest (3/4) of the world doing during this drama in Europe? What a great title though…”I know it all” by Manly Hall.

      1. Yes…
        This was one of my fathers fvorite books.

        But it is “all about Europe” and as such, is a limited ‘compendeum of everything’ (as are most “all inclusive” tomes telling you “everything”).

        Trust in what you delve into deeply, when you have cleared your heart of any illusions.

  4. Help me to spread Manly
    Help me to spread Manly Hall’s work throughout the world. I’ like to translate his lectures into other languages. To be honest very few people know Manly Hall in Europe, Australia, Africa and China. I need his lectures to translate them. If anybody can send them to me, he will make a great deed. But I don not need audio because it hard to translate from audio. I need texts.

    1. As long as you mentioned
      As long as you mentioned Europe, if you need a Romanian translation perhaps we can talk about it and see how I can help you.
      Samuel Stanislas, part of the Traduceri team.

    2. Regulation
      If you are in charge of the Manly Palmer Hall archive, you need to regulate the comments placed on the pages there. Some of them are just barbaric and so completely off topic that they insult the great Master. It’s as if someone is defying a grave marker with graffiti. Much of it has become biased and makes the site look rather insulting (not that I blame you). Having said that I’m glad his lectures have been posted in some format online and listen to them regularly. Many of this brilliant man’s philosophies where mine long before I knew about him. Please think on this, and if you have no link the inner workings of the archive, please forgive me for wasting your time.

  5. google books?
    anyone know if there is a full version on google books, I do have a pdf of the whole book I on a cd-rom i bought called “Rosicrucian Archive”, I should upload it if its not there 🙂

  6. Manly P. Hall Work is Truly Life Altering
    I learned a long time ago that certain books can not just be read and had to be studied there is a distinguishable differences relative to these two processes and “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” was one of those type books and masterpieces that required an intense study process over just reading. This book also will force the serous minded scholars to examine Hall’s work even closer by cross referencing other sources he refers to in his documentation and scrutinizing the research which to properly understand or further validate his philosophical contentions as being worthy of scholarly consideration. It is not that Hall offered anything new in the realm of the mysteries because much of what he gave us had originated in Kemet (Ancient Egypt) and Cush (ancient Ethiopia) as lessons that were taught by the Sages, Gurus and Mystics of these two illuminating society and others have written about these things long before Manly P. Hall.

    Stay Awake Until We Meet Again,
    Fahim A. Knight-El

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