Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 23, Vol. 3. Autumnal Equinox 2012

Stones of the Seven Rays: The Science of the Seven Facets of the Soul, Michel Coquet. Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 2012. 339 pages. $24.95
review by J.S. Kupperman

Stones of the Seven Rays, by Michel Coquet and translated from the French by Jon E. Graham, is a Theosophical work based on the teachings of “the Tibetan” as transmitted by Alice A. Bailey. As such, it focuses primarily on the teachings of the seven rays, an idea developed from earlier Theosophists including Madam Helena Blavatsky. As the title suggests, Coquet is about the seven stones associated with the seven rays.

Readers unfamiliar with Theosophy or the doctrine of the seven rays, but interested in the same, need not worry about buying all 20+ volumes of Bailey’s Treatise on the Seven Rays. The first two chapters of Stones provide an overview of the Tibetan’s and Bailey’s work within the context of Theosophy as a whole as well as a concise summary of the seven rays. These chapters are invaluable for understanding the rest of the book, especially the second part, which examines the seven stones; diamond, sapphire, emerald, jasper, topaz, ruby, and amethyst, in detail.

Beyond the relatively brief explanation of Theosophy and the seven rays, part one of Stones is an extensive compendium of stone lore, focusing largely on Hindu and Shinto traditions, but also examining Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as a few other traditions from around the world. Much of this information is quite interesting and potentially valuable to students of sacred gem lore. Unfortunately, Coquet has decided to not only keep intact the racism, anti-Semitism and religious reductionism of 19th century Theosophy, but to promote it as truth. This attitude permeates the entirety of the first part of Stones of the Seven Rays, filling an otherwise informative section with misnomers, inaccuracies, and simple untruths. The observant reader can frequently spot when this is happening as these parts are lacking in citations. They are simply stated as truth.

Stones of the Seven Rays generally writes from a 19th century Theosophical hermeneutical lens. This means stories, ideas, and events are interpreted in such a way to support the ideology of Theosophy, such as understanding all of Hinduism as being Vedantic in nature, ignoring the many, many Hindus who value the Vedas over the Upanishads. Indeed, Stones tends to treat Hinduism and a monolithic religion, rather than the umbrella term covering many religious traditions that it is. There is, ultimately, little wrong with this: it is exactly what hermeneutical lenses do, and anyone working from a particular paradigm does the same. What is unfortunate about Stones is that it frequently tries to convince the reader that this interpretation is what is believed by those who have originated the stories and traditions discussed. This does a grave disservice to those traditions and is a clear remnant of not only 19th century Theosophy, but 19th century European culture and science, something that again pervades the whole of the first section. That this is entirely unnecessary for understanding the seven rays is demonstrated in other modern books on the subject, such as Alan Hopking’s Esoteric Healing: A Practical Guide Based on the Teachings of the Tibetan in the Works of Alice A. Bailey.

The second part of Stones of the Seven Rays leaves the worst parts of section one behind and is a valuable resource for esoteric stone lore, at least from a Theosophical perspective. This section devotes a chapter to each of the seven stones, describing how each one resonates with one of the seven rays and how they can be used as talismans. For students of the seven rays or Theosophy, this part of the book is invaluable, discussing the properties of different colored version of the stones, a more in depth analysis of the ray in question, and even substitute stones, just in case the reader cannot afford a diamond or sapphire.

Michel Coquet’s Stones of the Seven Rays is something of a mixed bag. Any student of the history of 19th century anthropology, biological science, and racial bigotry may find part one of this book nearly unreadable. This is a shame as there is valuable lore presented there. However, the serious student of Theosophy and the seven rays will likely find the second section very important, providing a new way of looking on an otherwise largely untouched area of the seven ray teachings. For you, I recommend this title, with the caveats already discussed. Those interested in esoteric gem lore in general may or may not find the first section worth suffering through to find the gems in the mire and students of Hermetic lore will likely want to pass on this title all together.