Mission & History of the School

Mission Statement

The mission of the School for Esoteric Studies is to provide structured, sequenced esoteric discipleship training, grounded in Ageless Wisdom teachings and designed to produce World Servers. In support of our ultimate focus on world service, our esoteric discipleship training includes both work on individual vertical integration, supplemented by an expansion into horizontal integration and practical application of spiritual principles.

How the School Began

The School for Esoteric Studies was founded in 1956 in New York City. The co-founders – Frank Hilton, Regina Keller, Florence Garrigue, Helen Hillebrecht, and Marguerite Schaefer – had been trained in the Arcane School and had then worked closely with Alice and Foster Bailey on the staff.

After Alice Bailey’s passing in December 1949 and the unexpected death of her handpicked successor, Barbara Enos, Foster Bailey continued functioning as interim director of the Arcane School. This was in addition to his other duties, among which was running the Lucis Publishing Company that publishes the books by Master Djwhal Khul and Alice Bailey. An advanced student and new staff member named Mary Turner provided much assistance to Mr. Bailey and, increasingly, influenced the direction the Arcane School would take as the future unfolded. In time, she became the official director and Foster Bailey’s second wife.

During the crucial five years after Alice Bailey’s death, two views surfaced among the leaders of the Arcane School concerning the future of esoteric training. Those staff members who espoused the view that the Spiritual Hierarchy needed workers who were trained in the deeper and more advanced aspects of modern esoteric teaching turned out to be in the minority.

Rather than relinquishing this vision, several of the group resigned from the Arcane School, rented office space a few blocks away in Manhattan, and began to assemble the new lesson materials. They chose a name for the new school that, although it was rather long, reflected the purpose behind the founding impulse – in-depth study of the deeper teachings.


During the initial years of activity, the School project developed and took definite form as the School for Esoteric Studies’ founding members co-drafted materials for the different courses. Their group work involved both exchanging written communication and establishing subjective rapport within the Group Soul, a process that continues within the School for Esoteric Studies (SES) today. At the same time, group participants were actively engaged in related initiatives in support of the Plan including research, intergroup collaborative projects, and publishing.

Founding members and friends

  • Frank Hilton, who had authored several esoteric articles for The Beacon by 1956 and had extensive training experience, became the first Chairperson of SES. He was also a co-Director of the Psychosynthesis Research Foundation (PRF), which he founded with Roberto Assagioli and directed from 1957 to 1976. Hilton’s collaboration with others in the esoteric and psychological fields was seminal for the publishing of a wide range of materials, journals, and books. He was also influential in developing SES’ Approach to Group Initiation (AGI) initiative, which provided a foundation for developing additional advanced courses.
  • Another of the SES co-founders, Regina Keller (a Hungarian-American lawyer) had worked closely with Alice Bailey, helping with secretarial work, tutoring advanced students, reviewing drafts of the Blue Books, and writing articles for The Beacon. She was also a very active member of the Friday meetings organized by Alice Bailey, and it is thanks to her recording and transcription of the meetings that the Alice Bailey Talks were preserved. As an advanced disciple, Regina Keller was keen on “the dissemination of the Teaching on the mental plane” (as she wrote in a letter dated March 1961). In addition to her work with SES, she helped launch several other important esoteric initiatives including Meditation Mount, which was later developed by Florence Garrigue (another SES co-founder), and in the field of social work in orphanages. Within SES, she tutored senior students, handled correspondence, and established collaborative relationships with individuals and other groups. She also strengthened the role of the Commentators Group that is today the “Heart” of the School. Discipleship in the New Age, Volume 1 is dedicated by Alice Bailey “to Regina Keller, a fellow-disciple who for more than twenty years has walked with me upon the way.” In describing her future role, the Tibetan wrote to Regina: “The gift of wise teaching is your gift to my group – a wisdom, divorced from criticism, coupled also to the reticence of the trained occultist.” Regina was an advanced disciple who preferred to work silently, behind the scenes. The guidance of her Soul is ever present among us, and we are grateful for her ongoing spiritual support.
  • Florence Garrigue discovered the work of Alice Bailey in the 1930’s. Garrigue left the family business in the early 1940’s to join and work with Alice Bailey in her recently opened NY office where they handled students and worked on the Blue Books. It was then that Garrigue befriended Roberto Assagioli. Together, Garrigue and Assagioli decided to start working on a series of booklets that would “foster meditation programs to benefit the world.” The booklets focused on a few basic principles: “Essential Divinity,” “Good Will,” “Group Unanimity” and the laws of “Group Endeavor,” “Right Human Relations” and “Spiritual Approach.” Garrigue developed this idea even further, and later on in her life she was a cofounder member of Meditation Mount in Ojai California with Regina Keller. In the 1950s, she also cofounded the School for Esoteric Studies, serving as a BOD member and tutoring students.
  • Roberto Assagioli (founder of Psychosynthesis), while not one of the original SES co-founders, was an active SES member and advisor from the School’s beginning. His collaborative work with Frank Hilton resulted in the formulation of the Will Course that is still, in a revised format, part of the more advanced Arc of Training at the School. Roberto Assagioli was born in Venice (Italy) on February 27, 1888. Among his many fields of interest and work, he served as a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, writer, educator, researcher and spiritual seeker. Assagioli kept a low profile, and many of his esoteric works were written under the pseudonym of Considerator. He thought that this approach, which he termed “the wall of silence,” would ensure that his work as a psychotherapist would help advance a new force in psychology – “the fifth force.” He coined the name “psychoenergetics” to introduce the scientific work of the teachings of the Tibetan in Esoteric Psychology. Only in 2022 was it discovered that during the 1960s the American Psychological Association had nominated Assagioli as Most Innovative Psychologist. During the final years of his life Assagioli devoted himself fully to the Will Project, authored several articles for the School for Esoteric Studies and, together with Frank Hilton, founded the Psychosynthesis Research Foundation, which was adjacent to the SES Office in NYC.
  • While not SES founders, the School for Esoteric Studies coursework often references the work of two extraordinary Russian esotericists: Helena and Nicholas Roerich. Helena Roerich worked in close collaboration with Master Morya. She was his amanuensis and wrote the Agni Yoga books, which contain instructions and insights to disciples who resonate with the First Ray of Power and Will. With her spouse, Nicholas Roerich, she journeyed through the Himalayas and created shelters for meditators. Nicholas Roerich’s art portrays hundreds of awe-inspiring images It is said that these paintings are infused with First Ray energy as Roerich used a special painting technique and pigments. His work can be appreciated in the Russian Museum of Nicholas Roerich and in the New York Nicholas Roerich Museum. Many of the images on our website were granted permission for reproduction from this museum in New York. Some of our advanced courses focus on the Roerich teachings, but students will also encounter Agni Yoga passages and quotes for reflection in some of our preliminary study sets.

In 1996, the headquarters of the School for Esoteric Studies relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2012, the School widened its outreach to include website materials and discipleship training in English, Italian, and Spanish. The School also edited the courses so as to reflect inclusive language. In 2014 it launched a new round of intergroup collaboration initiatives, and in 2019 the SES launched the Cleansing Initiative and issued Three White Papers. In 2022 the School launched a new SES Website and a series of videos to make the Ageless Wisdom teachings available to a wider audience through a variety of media. We are grateful that the School for Esoteric Studies continues to bring the Ageless Wisdom teachings to all servers on the Path worldwide. Ongoing esoteric research is at the heart of the School’s mission, including updating, translating, and developing both original and new course materials, based on the Ageless Wisdom and on contributions from the Seven Seed Groups’ fields of service.

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