np [Elsinore, CA]: nd [ca. 1940s?]. Two volumes. The first, mounted awkwardly into a zippered limp leather case and titled "Aheliobas" by hand to front cover. 6" x 4.5" approx. The second, a small notebook, leather over boards, with "Aheliobas" scratched into leather at rear cover. Both volumes worn and a little ad hoc, but generally very good overall. Very good. Item #19776
An unusual and intriguing pair of books owned by Dr. Aheliobas A. Johnson (1886-1955). Johnson, whose business card laid into one volume describes him as a "Metaphysician, Healer, Teacher, and Spiritual Counselor," was a resident of Lake Elsinore and Pasadena CA and devotee of the "I Am" movement founded by Theosophist Joseph Sieber Benner. Also known as the "Knowledge and Teachings of the Impersonal Life," "I Am" was an eccentric branch of theosophy that taught Christ proclaiming "I Am," indicated "the true spirit that resides in every human being."
The first book included is a copy of "I Am"'s key text, Benner's THE IMPERSONAL LIFE (14th edition, 1944), heavily annotated by Johnson. Underlining, marginalia, and other annotations abound, with endpapers also filled ("This is my life's philosophy and principle as follower: 'I will see beauty and goodness in all things. From all that is unlovely shall my vision be immune.'"). These annotations are then further complimented by a series of striking and almost hieroglyphic cryptograms, whose key is contained in the accompanying small notebook. This second, leather-bound volume is divided into alphabetical tabs and comprises a directory or legend to these symbols, which range from the esoteric and alchemical to the more ordinary and practical. Several additional cryptograms are contained in this second volume as well.
Taken together, a strange but revealing look into California's experimentation with alternative movements and the formation or cult and counter-cult communities, as well as peculiar work of outsider cryptography. Benner's work would go on to be taken up by the likes Guy Ballard and even Elvis Presley — who during the last 13 years of his life gave out hundreds of copies of THE IMPERSONAL LIFE, and allegedly had a copy with him the night he died.