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Sr Veni Cooper - 'I am a certified Metaphysician'

Veni Cooper Mathieson arrived in Tasmania around 1933, where she spent the next 10 years of her life teaching, lecturing and running spiritual workshops. Sister Veni was considered a classical archetype of New Thought. She had spent three years in Great Britain and the United States studying metaphysics.

Amanda Malvina was born in 1867, Maitland Victoria to Letitia Anna Dudgeon and Thomas Henry Cooper. In February 1884 at the age of 16 she married Samuel Matthews, who divorced her on the grounds of adultery in 1896. In 1902 she married Earlam Gibson, a down on his luck lawyer. Through out her life Veni managed to attract much publicity in the local press, through notoriety, court cases [1] , [2] her publications and religious movement.

Although based In Western Australia, in 1903, she began the Women’s White Cross Moral Reform Crusade, a society to promote celibacy among young women. The group met weekly on the Sydney Domain. A companion group was formed for young men but wasn’t successful.

On May 14 1905 the Sunday Times in Perth claimed that her magazine, The Truth Seeker, was the organ of a crank sect. It said some of its tenets are extraordinary. Intelligence is manifested through the front brain, truth through the naval centre and love through the solar plexus etc etc.[3]

Veni then opened the Universal Truth Centre in Sydney which offered a 3 year course. It later became the Church Universal. In 1911 she opened a similar centre in Perth. In 1914 she wrote her most well-known metaphysical novel, “The Marriage of Souls.” She was the editor of a number of magazines besides the Truth Seeker. The Healer (1911-13) and The Revealer (1915-18) are two others.

In 1915 she founded numerous orders and institutions such as the Esoteric College and Home of Truth, The Church of Truth Universal and the Truth Seeker Publishing Company. She taught that Australia was the land of the dawning and advocated female emancipation.

She first appeared in Hobart in March 1933. The Mercury of Saturday 25 March 1933, reported:

NEW THOUGHT MOVEMENT SISTER VENI COOPER-MATHIESON'S VISIT. Sister Veni Cooper-Mathieson, one of the most prominent figures in the New Thought movement in New South Wales, has arrived in Hobart. Sister Cooper-Mathieson is the author of a series of well-known works, and has written a number of books, among which is “The Universal Health Restorer,” and “The Marriage of Souls.” She was editor of the magazines, the “Truth Seeker,” in 1905, the “Healer,” in 1911-13. and the “Revealer” in 1915-18. She has been engaged in her calling of a metaphysician, author, lecturer, and healer for 30 years, and formerly was engaged in newspaper work. She is visiting Hobart in the course of her international lecture tour, and her lectures will commence the first week in April.

In May 1934 she and Brother Aeriel (Aeriel Herman Adam, her secretary of 20 years who had an American accent) were charged in the Hobart Police Court for practising as a physician. Veni claimed she had divine powers of healing through breathing on patients and could detect inward physical growths that x-rays wouldn’t reveal.[4]

The patient in question was actually a police officer. (It seems that there may have been disturbing reports and this is how it was investigated.) The prosecutor said the person was perfectly healthy (he had since had 3 x-rays) while the defendant claimed he suffered from a growth that was at an advanced stage. She advised him not to go to doctors as they would only cut him open. His treatment however would cost more than the usual 5 pounds 5 shillings as he was in such a bad way.

On appearing for sentencing, Veni revealed her real name was Amanda Malvina Thorley Gibson and claimed she was not a fraud nor a faith healer but a scientific spiritual healer. She said, “I am a certified metaphysician.”[5] She had arrived in a flowing white gown with a black stole draped around her neck and a black over gown with a number of women trailing behind.

She was fined 2 pounds. A number of advertisements appeared until 1935 and then all mention of her in the press disappears. She retired to Bruny with Brother Aeriel, presumably to escape the notoriety. She died at home in Lunawanna on June 6 1943 aged 75, and in keeping with her wishes her companion, Brother Ariel stayed with her body, only notifying authorities three days after her death. She had a fear of being buried alive! Sister Veni Cooper is buried at the Lunawanna Cemetery.

- Bruny History Room Volunteers

[1] Mrs Matthews evidence, Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), Tuesday 13 September 1898, page 3

[2] The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue, Piu Marie Eatwell, Sep 2014 · Head of Zeus [3] Sunday Times Perth May 14 1905 p13 [4] The Mercury May 25 1934 p9 [5] Ibid June 1 1934 p11


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