Alexander Wilder

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Dr. Alexander Wilder

Alexander Wilder (1823-1909) was an American physician and Neoplatonist scholar, and a prominent early member of the Theosophical Society.

Early life and education

Professional career

In his time, Dr. Wilder was a very well-known physician. He held a position as Professor of Psychological Science in the United States Medical College, and lectured at other medical schools.

He was editor of at least three medical publications, including 19 vols. of "Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association," of which organization he was Secretary. He also published in 1901 the 946 pp. "The History of Medicine." Wilder's viewpoint in medicine was that the Spiritual, Psychological and Physical nature of man was one thing and that medical practice must include all. Today he would probably be regarded as a practitioner of Holistic Medicine.[1]

Theosophical Society involvement

Dr. Wilder was one of the earliest members of the Theosophical Society, being admitted on December 1, 1875.[2] During the years 1877-1880 he served as a Vice President, along with John A. Weisse, of the Theosophical Society, under President Abner Doubleday. After that, he was a member of the General Council of the Theosophical Society.[3]

Work on Isis Unveiled

During 1886 and 1887, H. P. Blavatsky wrote her first major work, Isis Unveiled and then reworked it with the assistance of Colonel Olcott. She wrote,

When the work was ready, we submitted it to Professor Alexander Wilder, the well-known scholar and Platonist of New York, who after reading the matter, recommended it to Mr. Bouton for publication. Next to Colonel Olcott, it is Professor Wilder who did the most for me. It is he who made the excellent Index, who corrected the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew words, suggested quotations and wrote the greater part of the Introduction 'Before the Veil.' If this was not acknowledged in the work, the fault is not mine, but because it was Dr. Wilder's express wish that his name should not appear except in footnotes. I have never made a secret of it, and every one of my numerous acquaintances in New York knew it." [4]

As Boris de Zirkoff pointed out,

"Many statements by HPB, particularly in Isis Unveiled, the Key and the Glossary are taken from Dr. Alexander Wilder's small booklet: New Platonism and Alchemy, Albany, N.Y., 1869.[5]


Dr. Wilder wrote about medicine, Theosophy, religions, symbolism, ancient languages, and many other topics.


  • "New Platonism and Alchemy" Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1869. Available at Theosophy NW website.
  • The History of Medicine From Archaic Times Until the French Revolution. McClure, Ohio: Canine Endeavors, 2017. An excerpt of The History of Medicine, Eclectic Publishing Company, 1901. 1901 edition and 1904 edition are available at Hathitrust.

Books edited by Dr. Wilder

  • Westropp, Hodder M. and Wake, C. Staniland Wake. Ancient Symbol Worship: Influence of the Phallic Idea in the Religions of Antiquity. New York, J. W. Bouton; London, Trübner & Co., 1874. by Hodder M. Westropp and C. Staniland Wake, also ed. by Alexander Wilder Available at HathiTrust.
  • Taylor, Thomas. The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries. New York, J. W. Bouton, 1875, 1891 and oather editions. Illustrated by Albert Leighton Rawson. 1875 edition and 1891 edition are available at HathiTrust.


Mark Jaqua compiled published four volumes of correspondence and articles from many sources:

  • The Later Platonists and Other Writings of Alexander Wilder: Miscellaneous Writings of Alexander Wilder Volume I. McClure, Ohio: Canine Endeavors, 2016. Available at Scribd for a fee.
  • The Undying Soul and Other Writings of Alexander Wilder: Miscellaneous Writings of Alexander Wilder Volume II. McClure, Ohio: Canine Endeavors, 2017.
  • Eclectic Medicine and Other Writings of Alexander Wilder: Miscellaneous Writings of Alexander Wilder Volume III. McClure, Ohio: Canine Endeavors, 2017.
  • The Perfective Rites and Other Writings of Alexander Wilder: Miscellaneous Writings of Alexander Wilder Volume IV. McClure, Ohio: Canine Endeavors, 2017.


The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists over 60 articles by or about Wilder. In addition, he contributed many articles to Metapyhsical Magazine and The Word.

  • "The Ganglionic Nervous System," Intelligence (February and March, 1898). Wilder posited that "this system preceded the cerebro-spinal nervous system and is the germ of everything that is afterward developed."[6] He claimed "it is the first thing created in our bodies, the last which is palsied by death."[7]
  • "How "Isis Unveiled" Was Written". The Word 7.2 (May 1908). Available at Theosophical University Press Online


Editorial work

He served as editor of these works:

  • Clarke, Hyde, and C. Staniland Wake. Serpent and Siva Worship.
  • Knight, Richard Payne. Ancient Art and Mythology. Wilder also contributed an introduction, notes, and and index.
  • Westropp, Hodder M. and C. Staniland Wake. Ancient Symbol Worship. Wilder contributed an introduction, notes, and an appendix.
  • Taylor, Thomas. The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries: A Dissertation.

Additional resources

  • Kimberley Nichols, "The Eclectic Life of Alexander Wilder: Alchemical Generals, Isis Unveiled, and Early American Holistic Medicine", Newtopia Magazine (February 15, 2013). Available at


  1. Mark R. Jaqua, Preface to Eclectic Medicine, 2017 edition.
  2. Membership records, Theosophical Society Adyar Archives.
  3. "The Theosophical Society," The Theosophist 1.8 (May, 1880), 214.
  4. H. P. Blavatsky, "My Books" in Theories about Reincation and Spirits and My Books (Point Loma, California: Theosophical Publishing Co., 1922), 33-34. Written April 27, 1891.
  5. Boris de Zirkoff to Armand Courtois. January 18, 1970. Boris de Zirkoff Papers. Records Series 22. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  6. Anonymous, "Book Reviews," Mercury 4.7 (March, 1898), 253.
  7. Anonymous, "Book Reviews," Mercury 4.8 (April, 1898), 288.