A propos of the historical perspective, I think some may see the names of Crowley, Blavatsky, the Theosophical Society and Golden Dawn and then blow a fuse, but the membership of those organisations included not only many prominent figures, but others who have a good claim to be studied as a part of the growth of Buddhism in the West:
''Colonel Henry Steel Olcott
(Sinhala:සෙන්පති හෙන්රි ස්ටීල් ඔල්කට්) (August 2, 1832 – February 17, 1907) was an American military officer, journalist, lawyer and the co-founder and first President of the Theosophical Society.
Olcott was the first well-known American of European ancestry to make a formal conversion to Buddhism. His subsequent actions as president of the Theosophical Society helped create a renaissance in the study of Buddhism. Olcott is considered a Buddhist modernist for his efforts in interpreting Buddhism through a Westernized lens.
Olcott was a major revivalist of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and he is still honored in Sri Lanka for these efforts. Olcott has been called by Sri Lankans "one of the heroes in the struggle of our independence and a pioneer of the present religious, national and cultural revival".''
''The Buddhist Catechism, composed by Olcott in 1881, is one of his most enduring contributions to the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and remains in use there today. The text outlines what Olcott saw to be the basic doctrines of Buddhism, including the life of the Buddha, the message of the Dharma, the role of the Sanga. The text also treats how the Buddha’s message correlates with contemporary society. Olcott was considered by South Asians and others as a Buddhist revivalist.''
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Stee ... _Catechism
''Travers Christmas Humphreys
, QC (15 February 1901 – 13 April 1983) was a British barrister who prosecuted several controversial cases in the 1940s and 1950s, and later became a judge at the Old Bailey. He was an enthusiastic Shakespeare scholar and proponent of the Oxfordian theory on this subject. Author of numerous works on Mahayana Buddhism, he was in his day the most noted British convert to Buddhism. In 1924 he founded what became the London Buddhist Society, which was to have a seminal influence on the growth of the Buddhist tradition in Britain. His former home in St John's Wood, London, is now a Buddhist temple.''
''Humphreys founded the London Buddhist Lodge, which later changed its name to the Buddhist Society. The impetus for founding the Lodge came from theosophists with whom Humphreys socialised. Both at his home and at the lodge, he played host for eminent spiritual authors such as Nicholas Roerich and Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, and for prominent Theosophists like Alice Bailey and far Eastern Buddhist authorities like D.T. Suzuki. Other regular visitors in the 1930s were the Russian singer Vladimir Rosing and the young Alan Watts. The Buddhist Society of London is one of the oldest Buddhist organisations outside Asia.
In 1945 he drafted the Twelve principles of Buddhism for which he obtained the approval of all the Buddhist sects in Japan (including the Shin Sect which was not associated with Olcott's Common Platform) of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand and leading Buddhists of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China and Tibet.''http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Humphreys
Ok, it's Wki, but it makes the point. It is also the case that there was a connection between the Golden Dawn and the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society, from which some of its membership was derived.