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William Walker Atkinson

 


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1862-1932

William Walker Atkinson was a freemason and a theosophist.  He was a central and influential figure in the great expansion of New Thought that occurred the last half of the Nineteenth Century and the early part of the Twentieth. He wrote almost a hundred books, though many of them were not in his own name. He wrote under such noms de plume as “The Three Initiates,” “Swami Panchadasi,” “Theron Q. Dumont,” “Theodore Sheldon,” and “Magus Incognitus.”

It is recorded that after Atkinson became interested in Hinduism (which appears to be linked strongly with the New Thought movement) he became acquainted with one Baba Bharata, a pupil of Yogi Ramacharaka. Bharata and Atkinson together wrote a series of books, but Atkinson alone wrote several books using the pseudonym “Yogi Ramacharaka.” All of these were published by the Yogi Publication Society in Chicago and were apparently more popular with the public than his New Thought books. Not only did Atkinson accomplish a prodigious amount of writing in the world of New Thought, he was also an attorney at law who practiced before the bars of Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, December 5, 1862, he began his working years as a grocer at age 15 but continued his education and started other businesses. His work ethic was so strong and he was so driven that his mental and physical health failed him and he experienced great financial loss.

He was introduced to Mental Science (New Thought) and by practicing its tenets he was completely healed, thereby regaining robust health and financial success. Some time after his healing, he began to write articles on the truths he had discovered. In 1889 his article entitled “A Mental Science Catechism” appeared in Charles Fillmore’s periodical, Modern Thought. Fillmore was the founder of the Unity movement.

William Walker Atkinson married Margaret Foster Black of Beverley, New Jersey, in October of 1889 and they had two children. He was admitted to the Bar of Pennsylvania and began the practice of law in 1894 when he was 32 years of age.

By the early 1890’s Chicago had become a major center for New Thought through the efforts of Emma Curtis Hopkins. Atkinson made the decision to join the New Thought movement at its center, and he moved his family to Illinois. Even though he was admitted to practice law before the Bar of Illinois, nevertheless, the greater portion of his time and effort from that time on was dedicated to furtherance of the New Thought movement.

In Chicago he was instrumental in the publishing of such new thought magazines as "Suggestion," " New Thought"  and "Advanced Thought." He devoted a great amount of time to the diffusion of yoga in the West and some of his works on yoga may be found today.

In 1906 he published a book entitled "Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World," which most likely had a great influence on Wallace Wattles in the writing of his book entitled “The Science of Getting Rich” which was published in 1910. Wattles book is thought to have greatly influenced the thinking of the producer of the recent phenomenon entitled “The Secret.”

Beginning in 1916 Atkinson started writing articles for Elizabeth Towne's magazine "The Nautilis," and from 1916 to 1919 he edited the journal "Advanced Thought."

This writer was unable to find any information on how or why William Walker Atkinson went to California, what his life was there, and where on November 22, 1932, he passed from this plane of existence. It is hoped that someone will be able to find this and let the world know about this unwritten chapter of one of the great minds in New Thought .