Aquarius Second Decanate: W. A. Kelsoe

Rounding out the series of spiritual ancestors by decanates, Pisces appropriately concludes with some of the most important characters. At the dawning of the sign of Aquarius, I will devote this post to the only Aquarian in the correspondence and then in February report relevant news about the entire field of inquiry, with international ramifications.

From The Last Eighteen Decanates Analyzed:

AQUARIUS—2nd Decanate. The Flying Horse —PEGASUS—pictures among the constellations the Mercury decanate of Aquarius. The wings pictured upon the symbol of mind indicate the ability to leave the material body and travel in the super-physical world in the astral form. This may take place volitionally, or quite unconsciously so far as the objective mind is concerned, during sleep. And those who can bring through into the objective state the information so contacted have a never-ending supply of interesting material that they often are able to present in a fascinating manner.

People under this decanate possess naturally the ability to gain information from invisible sources. Consequently, they have unlimited resourcefulness in imaginative creation. And they are able to present their conceptions in a most dramatic manner. So, by all means, they should follow some occupation where the mind has power to exert itself. And when not inclined to literature they should read much and learn to express their thoughts in conversation. They convey their ideas to others in a most convincing manner, and through this faculty lies their greatest good, both to themselves and to humanity.

Charles Dickens, the famous novelist, was born with his Individuality here. H. Rider Haggard, another famous novelist, had his Moon in this decanate. And Robert Louis Stevenson, still another wonderful writer of romance, had this section of the zodiac on the Ascendant at his birth. It is the decanate of INSPIRATION.

From Letters to the Sage, Volume One:

            William Austin Kelsoe was born February 1, 1851 in western Illinois, where he was raised by his maternal uncle’s family. After earning his bachelor’s degree at McKendree College, he spent about two years at the University of Heidelberg, where he studied philology, history, literature, law, and physics. Upon returning to the US, he obtained a master’s degree and began working for St. Louis newspapers. Kelsoe soon became a prominent newspaper editor in the city as well as an active member of the community, participating in numerous literary and fraternal organizations, and helping found St. Louis’ Ethical Society. Kelsoe died in St. Louis on March 9, 1932.

            Kelsoe was one of the first members of the St. Louis Theosophical Society,[1] so his letters to Johnson add details about Johnson’s relationship with the group and therefore give a better glimpse into how organized Theosophy began to spread in the US Kelsoe was also friend of Alexander Russell Webb, the famous Muslim convert and former resident of St. Louis who, with Kelsoe, joined both the Society for Psychical Research and the local TS in the 1880s. His letters, therefore, help give insight into Webb’s own network of religiously experimental friends just before his 1888 conversion.

[undated, probably late 1884/early 1885]

Mr. Johnson—I owe an apology to you for running off from Memphis. We (Mrs. K. and myself) had been wanting (all day) to get away that night, but until 11 o’clock at night did not know that we would be able to get the necessary letter from Mr. Rogers, the railroad passenger agt. in charge of the excursion. We had a very pleasant trip and went as far south as Key West. When you come to the city, pay us a visit. We live at 827 Tayon avenue (South 18th Street) and take Fourteenth street car line on Washington avenue (passes by door) or Fourth street Clouteau avenue line get off at Tayon avenue and walk one block north. You can find me at “Republican”[2] office any time between 1 pm and 3 am.

I wish to subscribe for the “Platonist” and have also two other subscribers for you. Send paper to following addresses for one year commencing with last number:

Thomas M. Knapp

818 Gratiot Street St. Louis, M.

Graham Young

“Mo. Republican”

St Louis, Mo.

W.A. Kelsoe

827 Tayon Avenue

            (South 18th St)

St Louis, Mo.

If I mistake not, the subscription price is $2. If more, let me know and I will send the rest. Our T.S. meetings are now held Wednesday evenings. You are an officer, but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you there yet. I think you ought to take a run over here to get acquainted with your brothers.

Fraternally Yours

W.A. Kelsoe

“Mo. Republican”

St Louis, Mo.

St. Louis

May 21, 1885

Dear Sir—Glad to hear from you. We are not going to the press association’s meeting this year, nor going on the excursion to Macinac. We just returned from a trip to Mexico and must wait a year before we can take another. Can’t afford two in one year. But that shouldn’t prevent our meeting each other. The convention opens Tuesday, June 2.[3] You must arrange it so that you can spend Sunday, May 31, with us. You can leave here Monday evening, and that will give you two days here, one with my wife and myself and one in which to run around and see Mr. Throckmorton, or, Field,[4] Mr. Page and other theosophists. Our society now numbers about 30 members, most of whom are regular attendants at the meetings. We meet Wednesday evenings. On your return from the editorial excursion you may be able to stop over here and attend one of them. If I mistake not, the intention is to get back to St. Louis Wednesday, June 10, and if so you could attend our meeting that night and go on home next morning. We had a very pleasant trip in Mexico, but I will save myself the trouble of telling you about it by sending you the account of it published in the “Republican”. We still live at 827 Tayon Avenue (also called South 18th street). Mrs. K. sends regards.

            Yours fraternally

            W.A. Kelsoe

November 12, 1886

My dear friend and Brother—

I have found the “Platonist” sent me intensely interesting and am anxious to secure the print volume, as many numbers of it as possible. I hope you will not discontinue the publication of the paper. I think I can secure you new subscribers from time to time and I know that if you keep it up long enough, it will be more than self sustaining. I send you $3 for the eleven minutes[5] you have of the first volume. At the end of the present year, I will have the two volumes bound together.

            In haste

            Your friend and brother


            W.A. Kelsoe

            827 Tayon Ave

            (or South 28th st)

            St Louis, Mo.

Mrs. K. sends best regards and we would both be glad to see you. We are having interesting theosophical meetings now & are experimenting psychologically with success.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch

November 30, 1910

Dear Friend,

            Many thanks for the copy of Proclus’ Metaphysical Elements.[6] I have your sketch of Proclus’ life and found it very interesting. The “Elements,” however, are too deep for the time I can give to them at present.

            In translating Proclus’ words, you have, I am confident, conferred a lasting benefit on mankind. Without being able to grasp the subtleties of Plato philosophical writings, I am an admirer of the great philosopher himself, the more so, perhaps, because I was once a member of a “Platonian Literary Society”.

            Your book is dedicated, I see, to Dr. W.T. Harris, and you also mention Prof. Thomas Davidson. Both were my personal friends and Davidson I first met when I was a student in Germany and Harris’ acquaintance I made soon after beginning my newspaper career here in St. Louis in 1874.

            The Post -Dispatch’s story about you was received from some correspondent of the paper (I think an Oseola man, but am not sure as to that) and I understand he also sent the picture. I enclose two clippings of this article, and one cut from the Detroit Free Press of Nov. 29, which may interest you.[7]

            Yours truly

            W.A. Kelsoe

[1] William Austin Kelsoe TS membership, entered April 28, 1884, Theosophical Society General Register Vol. I,

[2] The Missouri Republican newspaper.

[3] What kind of convention this was is unknown.

[4] George Hamilton Field; TS membership entered March 17, 1884, Theosophical Society General Register Vol. I,

[5] It is uncertain if this is the word Kelsoe was actually writing.

[6] This was Johnson’s translation, published in Osceola in 1909.

[7] We were unable to locate the Post-Dispatch article on Johnson. The Detroit Free Press article was most likely “Every Religion Ends in Dogma” (page 8), which reports on a lecture of a Prof. Wenley of the University of Michigan who argued, following Hegel, that all religious and philosophical movements will eventually be overcome by opposing types.