LA Weekly: The Strange History of Los Feliz’s Mysterious Metaphysical Research Center

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The Strange History of Los Feliz’s Mysterious Metaphysical Research Center
by Gustavo Turner

 

No, it’s not a Scientology front.

Nor is it “a Christian Science thing.” Or the Angelus Temple (that’s in nearby Echo Park). Or an exclusive league of Theosophists, Rosicrucians or Illuminati, or followers of Rudolf Steiner or Gurdjieff or any other specific mystic, either local or exotic. It’s definitely not a den of Aleister Crowley worship.

When people venture guesses as to what goes on at the University of Philosophical Research (formerly known as the Philosophical Research Society) — the strange-looking, Mayan-style mini compound on Los Feliz Boulevard, across from the southern boundary of Griffith Park, right next to the traffic jam–prone access to the 5 freeway — they often get it very wrong.

For a good part of the 20th century, the Philosophical Research Society was the physical extension of the largely metaphysical interests and activities of its formidable founder, Manly P. Hall.Hall was a self-educated writer and lecturer who flourished in the extremely fertile spiritual soil of post-WWI Los Angeles, where New World (and New Age) religions mixed freely with the esoteric traditions of Europe and what used to be called “the wisdom of the East.”
Seekers hungry for enlightenment flocked to lectures that could range from yoga and meditation, to Jungian psychoanalysis, to the hidden rites of the Freemasons, to the secret codes hidden in Shakespeare plays or the fables of the ancient world.

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