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Periodical: Light of Messiah

Summary:  From Pat Deveney's database:

Light of Messiah, The.
1888?--1891? Monthly, irregular San Francisco / Oakland, Fruitvale, CA. Editor: Count Dr. Peter William Poulson Fagerstjerna. Corporate author: The Order of Messiah; the Order of the Black Cross
1/1, 1888-1891(?)

This is said to have been a "monthly pamphlet" rather than a journal, though it was serialized at least on an irregular basis. The story of the fleecing of Dr. Poulson (or, more properly, Count Dr. Peter Wilhelm Poulson Fagerstjerna (1831-1894), to give him his claimed Swedish/Danish aristocratic name), is related in "That Spirit Bride. Who Received the Dresses and Diamonds sent to Jupiter by Dr. Poulson" in the San Francisco Examiner, August 16, 1893, and other newspaper accounts of the time, and centers on a divorce proceeding for "extreme cruelty" brought against Poulson by his third wife, Susan Elizabeth Staples Coleman. Poulson was a Danish-born homeopath and vitapath and a graduate of A.J. Swarts' Spiritual Science University in Chicago, and presented himself to the world as a very wealthy and successful man -- though his estate after his death proved this to be a gross exaggeration -- who was infatuated with spiritualism, especially spirit art. He seemed, in simple terms, to be ripe for the plucking and was lured into the circle of materializing mediums led by Harry (Archer) Wild and a Mrs. Nellie De Garcia, who introduced Poulson to "Alice," a beautiful materialized spirit native of Jupiter, who desired to become Poulson's spirit bride and beseeched him for shoes and fancy clothing (it was cold on Jupiter) and jewelry and money. Alice was personated in the gang by Mrs. Susan Coleman, whom Poulson married as his third wife at the command of the spirits. To explain the now permanently ensconced-on-earth spirit, the gang announced the transference of Alice's spirit into Susan's body: "At a seance at Wild's house, 846 Howard Street, Alice, while sitting on the doctor's knee, told him she would that night enter into the body of a sensitive young woman while that young woman was asleep, and crowd out the woman's spirit and keep possession of it for twenty-four hours. She arranged to meet the doctor the next day and talk to him through the woman's body." Presumably, the transfer was later made more permanent. Besides Susan, the Wild gang included the frequently exposed Elsie Reynolds (Eliza Ann Dunbar, c.1835-1915) and Ethel Wood, who could be the woman of that name whose father sold or gave Katherine Tingley her San Diego land, or could more likely be Ethel Hodge, sometime wife of Henry Crindle (son of Elsie Crindle Reynolds). Elsie and Ethel allegedly ended up with the shoes and jewels while the gang proceeded to try to kill Poulson to get their hands on the rest of his wealth and Susan instituted divorce proceedings, apparently for the same reason. The journal was the organ of Poulson's pompous Order of the Black Cross, a ritualistic, multi-degreed organization that grew out the revelations that Jeshua the Messiah had made to Poulson beginning in the early 1880s and led to the more exalted Order of Messiah. The first volume (of an announced seven) of these appeared as The Light of Messiah. On the Gospel of Freedom and the Order of Messiah by Dr. P.W.P. Fagerstjerna (San Francisco, 1888). Volumes 2 and 3 appeared thereafter until 1891, and seem to have been issued in segments (the last known is entitled volume 3, no. 2) which indicates a serialization of the revelations. Poulson said of the books: "'The Light of Messiah,' is a closely logical, mystically philosophical dissertation in favor of freedom of thought and of religious belief. In this book he [the Messiah] urges men to have belief without creed. The orders he has started are,like the Masonic, secret so far as the ritualistic work is concerned, but the purposes are public and are along the same line as the book. It will take twenty years to get them under way. There is a good deal of secret ritualistic work to be prepared. In one of these orders alone are required eleven volumes like the 'Light of the Messiah.'" The Order of the Black Cross, in which Poulson was Cardinal, was the first step toward the more secret Order of the Messiah and had, besides the Cardinal, a variety of presidents, generals, vicars, counselors, knights, Rosicrucians, and other officials, and a ritual emphasis on sponge bathing and foot washing. Poulson was a Mason and had been involved with the fringes of Mormonism for years, and the revelations -- including quotes from Angel Moroni and Joseph Smith-- reflect both of influences, but behind the hierarchically arrayed secret orders tasked with the betterment of the world probably lay the more simple explanation that Poulson was less than entirely sane. He had been adjudged insane at least once, in 1868 in San Francisco, when he became convinced that he was a fish and his wife a bird. The later (serialized) additions to Light of Messiah (1888) that probably constitute the pamphlets/journal listed here can be found at University of California, Berkeley; Church Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.

Issues:Light Of Messiah V3 N2 1891

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