Theosophy and the Theosophical Societies - part 3 (2020 version)
- Published: Monday, 16 November 2020 17:03
THEOSOPHY AND THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETIES
By Dr. James Santucci
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
California State University
Fullerton, CA 92834-6868
Another look at Headquarters Building in Adyar
Well-known classic H.P.B. photo
The teachings promulgated by the Theosophical societies are ultimately those that have secured the attention of its members as well as what individuals understand Theosophy to be. As a rule, most Theosophists associate the basic teachings with the “three fundamental propositions” contained in the Proem of H.P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine. An overview of the development of Blavatsky’s and other Theosophists’ understanding of Theosophy reveal a variety of interpretations. In fact, the term ‘theosophy’, chosen to represent the aspirations and objects of the Society, had little to do with its later development. Theosophy was accepted as the name of the Society in accordance with the definition found in the American edition of Webster’s unabridged dictionary (published ca. 1875), which is as follows:
supposed intercourse with God and superior spirits, and consequent attainment of superhuman knowledge by physical processes as by the theurgic operations of ancient Platonists, or by the chemical processes of the German fire philosophers.
The term, however, was not unknown prior to this period (September, 1875). Blavatsky employed the term in February 1875 in a letter to Professor Hiram Corson (“theosophy taught by the Angels”) and in her “A Few Questions to ‘Hiraf’” (“Theosophic Seminary”).