Theosophical Encyclopedia

Charles James Ryan

(1865-1949). Artist and author. Ryan was born in Halifax, England. His father was Irish, descended from the Ryans of Idrone, Tipperary; his mother was English. Ryan became an artist like his father whom he succeeded as headmaster of the government School of Art in Ventnor, Isle of Wight. Both father and son exhibited at the Royal Academy, London.

In 1894, Ryan joined the Theosophical Society, Point Loma, and in 1900 was invited by Katherine Tingley to its international headquarters then in Point Loma, California. For a near half-century until his death Ryan contributed his literary, artistic and scientific talents to instructing both young and adult students there and at Covina, where the headquarters and university were transferred in 1942. Ryan is best known to theosophists for his work, H. P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement (1937).

Anna Kingsford

(née Bonus) (1846-1888). Was born September 16, 1846, at Stratford in Essex, England. She joined the Theosophical Society (TS) in January 1883. Kingsford never enjoyed particularly good health and as the youngest, by a margin of several years, in a large family, she tended to be isolated and solitary. From her earliest childhood she seems to have been conscious of a “mission” and according to her own recollection she came into reincarnation to fulfil it, even though she was strongly discouraged from doing so because of the extreme suffering that awaited her. She seems to have tended to disregard her human parentage and claimed to have “fairy” origin. The story is told of her first visit to a pantomime; when the fairies appeared on the stage she insisted that they were her proper people, crying and struggling to get to them with such an uproar that it became necessary to remove her from the theater.

Anna Kingsford

During her girlhood she seems to have been chiefly occupied with the writing of poems and stories and had a poem published in a religious magazine when she was nine years old. A story she wrote when she was thirteen years of age, “Beatrice: A Tale of the Early Christians,” was accepted and published.

Read more: Anna Kingsford

Maria Montessori

(1870-1952). Italian educator and Theosophist who was born at Chiaravalle near Acona on August 31, 1870. She gained her degree in medicine from the University of Rome in 1894, the first Italian woman to do so. She also earned a degree in literature. As a doctor, Montessori became involved in the treatment of children with disabilities and devised a special method of treating and educating them. Her method soon proved suitable for more general application and became known as the Montessori Method.

Maria Montessori

During the First World War, Montessori, who was then in India, risked internment as an enemy alien and was given sanctuary at the Theosophical Society (TS) headquarters at Adyar near Madras (now Chennai). She died at Noordwijk, Netherlands, May 6, 1952.

Montessori’s method of education focused on two essential elements: gaining the sustained interest of the child by the provision of various educational items that have significance in developing skills and also allowing the child a considerable degree of latitude for individual choice of study. Under her method, children learn to read, write and count before they are six years of age. Montessori Schools have been established in many countries and flourish to the present time. Her last book, The Absorbent Mind (1949) was devoted to the education of children under the age of three years and a book published a year earlier, To Educate the Human Potential, demonstrated the value of teaching children about pre-history.


Theosophy in Canada

In November, 1884, William Q. JUDGE, then vice president of the Theosophical Society, returned to New York after visiting the Society’s headquarters in India. On the transatlantic crossing, one of his fellow passengers was a young Irishman, Albert E. S. Smythe (1861-1947) on his way to America as a prospective migrant. Their shipboard meeting was to have an important and lasting influence on both Smythe and the Theosophical movement in Canada: so inspired was the young man with what he heard from Judge that he devoted the rest of his life to the cause. Smythe did not settle down immediately, but, after early career experiments on both sides of the Atlantic in 1890, he eventually established himself in Toronto, Canada.

A.E.S. Smythe

Smythe introduced Theosophy to that city and, within a few months, enrolled a sufficient number of members to apply for a branch charter of the Theosophical Society. These pioneers included the first woman to practice as a medical doctor in Canada and her daughter, who was the first woman to graduate from a Canadian medical school. A young English immigrant Algernon BLACKWOOD, who later became a successful occult novelist, was among these pioneers of Theosophy in Canada. Together they formed the Toronto Theosophical Society in 1891. Its charter bears the signature of Helena P. BLAVATSKY and was one of the last to be signed by her before her death. This branch is still active.

Read more: Theosophy in Canada

Theosophy in Sweden

The Theosophical Society (TS) in Scandinavia started in Sweden in 1889. In the year before, the famous Swedish author Viktor Rydberg who had taken an interest in Helena P. BLAVATSKY’s The Secret Doctrine, called together a group of Swedes, among them two ladies who had visited Blavatsky in London; the purpose was to start theosophical activity in Sweden. A Swedish group, attached to the British section, was formed on February 10, 1889. Dr. Gustaf Zander became the first chairman. The other members of the board were baron Victor Pfeiff, Vice-Chairman, A. F. Akerberg, Ph.D., Secretary, Amelie Cederschlöld, Corresponding Secretary, and Emil Zander, B.A. Treasurer.

The main activity during the first years was concentrated in Stockholm with public lectures, group meetings, discussions and answers to criticism from the press and others, the publication of books and booklets in Swedish, among them The Key to Theosophy, The Secret Doctrine (offered in instalments published successively), The Voice of the Silence by Blavatsky, Light on the Path by Mabel COLLINS, and Man’s Seven Principles by Annie BESANT. A library with some 500 titles was gathered and was open to the public. In 1891, a theosophical journal, Teosofisk Tidskrift, started and has been continuously published since then, sometimes under other names and under certain periods in cooperation with one or more of the other Scandinavian countries.

Read more: Theosophy in Sweden

Theosophy in Scotland

In 1884, Henry S. OLCOTT, then President of the Theosophical Society visited Scotland. This led to the formation in Edinburgh, on July 17, 1884, of the first lodge in Scotland. This was named “The Scottish Lodge.” Factionalism in the early 1890’s resulted in the Scottish Lodge severing its connection with Headquarters which resulted in its charter being withdrawn. A new lodge was chartered in 1893 named “Edinburgh Lodge”. This was followed by the formation of a lodge in Glasgow which received its charter in 1900.

During these early years, the Scottish lodges were part of the English Section. The Scottish Section was formed in 1910 and the following year the premises at 28 Great King Street, Edinburgh were purchased for the purpose of being used as our National Headquarters. This building, in beautiful Georgian Edinburgh remains as our headquarters to this day. In the same year the Scottish Section held its first National Convention in these newly acquired premises with the then President of the TS, Annie BESANT, as our guest speaker.

Read more: Theosophy in Scotland

Theosophy in The Netherlands

On July 9, 1892, a national Theosophical Society was founded in Netherlands. Its name was De Nederlandsche Theosophische Vereeniging (NTV). This was not the first association that undertook Theosophical activities in the Netherlands; there had been earlier activities.

Early Theosophical Activities: One of the first Theosophical Lodges in the Netherlands was called the “Lodge Post Nubila Lux” (light after darkness). It was founded on June 27, 1881. One of its founders was Adelberth de Bourbon, grandson of the French King Louis XVI. This Lodge, which had joined the French Section, was established at The Hague. Among its members were several painters of the Hague School, a leading group of artists who worked from about 1870 to 1900. After the death of Adelberth in 1897, the Lodge became dormant.

Read more: Theosophy in The Netherlands

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