Saving Angel

Saving Angel

Charlotte Fielden
Toronto, ON: CFM Books, 2007. Softcover, $14.95 (Can), 116 pages.

Saving Angel is a two-act play featuring H. P. Blavatsky, the Irish poet W. B. Yeats, and scholar Denis Saurat. The reason for bringing these three historical figures together is to help determine the fate of a young pupil of HPB's, Angel Shiner, whose psychic nature and subsequent unconventional behavior have landed her in a mental asylum. Saurat as impartial judge, and Blavatsky and Yeats as witnesses on Angel's behalf, are to convene with a board of psychiatrists in order to determine young Angel's future—whether she is well enough to be released or whether she should remain at the asylum.

If the above is the straightforward prosaic account of this two-act play, metaphorically we are witness to another drama. In this drama, we have the three psychiatrists of the board representing various developmental stages of the lower mind: a Roman Catholic perceiving the world ultimately through the Church dogma; a Protestant concerned about his scientific standing among his peers; and a secular Jew who seems to be looking for a way forward in his life. Angel then becomes the light of the higher self in all its unpredictable nature and HPB is that power of the heart capable of allowing quick glimpses of that light to come through. However, this play is taking place on the last day of HPB's life, a warning that in every soul's life there comes a time when it must open up to this inner life or have that door close on it for the rest of this incarnation. Yeats becomes the example of what can be accomplished when the full power of the intuition is allowed to flow through as he extemporaneously spouts poetry and thus adds a rich lyrical tapestry to the rhythm of the play. Finally, Saurat is that part of the human mind that must make sense out of our inner experience and provide us with the story that will help us put our experiences into context so that we can move forward, sometimes referred to as the power of discrimination.

From a more theosophical standpoint, the play endows Blavatsky with god-like powers that enable her to grab the mayavi-rupas [mental astral bodies] of people out of time, to separate that body from the not fully developed soul, to clear away the elementals that blind most souls from truly seeing, and all this while life slowly ebbs from her mortal body. Theosophy is always fighting against the idea that grows in people's minds that gods or saviors are going to come and endow on us miraculous powers, or to save us from the messes that we have made. The endowment of these godlike powers to Blavatsky or the Masters has always been the Achilles heel to the Movement as many students have used such fanciful speculations to drift away from reality. That being said, poetic license being a right and proper tool of the playwright, taking such fancy as real is a criticism of the audience member and not of the play itself.

Overall the second act of the play runs more smoothly than the first. The Blavatsky-god was much more powerful in the first act and the terminology, especially with respect to seers and mediums a bit distracting. In the second act, as we begin to see what Ms. Fielden was up to, we are able to sit back and enjoy the ride. At times Angel's seemingly airy flights of fancy threaten to carry the play into a different world, but this tension is offset nicely with the addition of Yeats' poetry which provides an anchor to the emotional undertone of the play. In addition, Saurat's power of discrimination effectively pushes the narrative forward, not allowing us to get bogged down with naming that which cannot be named.

Saving Angel is a wonderful insight into the turbulent workings of the human mind. The play buffets us from one experience to another challenging the reader to find the calm at the center around which all these experiences whirl. It is only at the center that we can lift ourselves above the storm and see reality for what it truly is. It is only from the center that we can save our own higher angel.

Robert Bruce MacDonald

The reviewer is editor of Fohat, a quarterly publication of the Edmonton Theosophical Society. This review first appeared in the Spring 2008 edition (Volume XXII, No. 1).