Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

The Ancient Wisdom of Harry Potter

Prof. Abditus Questor

 

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

PLOT SUMMARY: Harry Potter, the orphaned son of wizards, is left as an infant with muggle relatives who are not wizards and are afraid of wizardry. At the age of eleven, he is called to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, where his best friends are Ron and Hermione, he becomes a star player in Quidditch, a game something like basketball, but played in the air on flying brooms. He learns that his parents were killed by an evil wizard called Voldemort, whose spirit has possessed a Hogwarts teacher and seeks to find a hidden Philosopher's Stone, which can prolong Voldemort's life. Harry foils that effort to gain the stone and so ends his first school year.

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Truth Seeker D. M. Bennett

John Algeo – USA

DeRobigne Mortimer Bennett (1818-82) was a Theosophist who deserves to be more widely known. Roderick Bradford is doing his best to see that Bennett’s accomplishments are better recognized. In 2006, Bradford published a 412-page biography: D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books). And in 2009, he produced an hour-long video program of the same title (available on both standard-definition DVD and high-definition Blu-Ray DVD from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Bennett was one of the best known and most effective free-thinkers of the nineteenth century. He fought for freedom of belief and expression against such supporters of the narrow ecclesiastical establishment of that time as Anthony Comstock (1844-1915). Comstock, a virulent “reformer” who got control of what could be legally sent through the U.S. mail, prosecuted Bennett and sent him to prison, ostensibly for circulating immoral literature (shades of Annie Besant) but actually for violating Comstock’s intolerant views. Even during Comstock’s life, his name became a new word in English: “Comstockery,” which the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines as “strict censorship of materials considered obscene [or] censorious opposition to alleged immorality (as in literature).” He was America’s most infamous book-burner.

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Albert Schweitzer and Theosophy

Introduction compiled by S. T. Adelante

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, philosopher, musician, physician & humanitarian, 1875 - 1965

Albert Schweitzer was born on January 14, 1875, in Kaysersberg, a town near Strasbourg in Alsace, Germany (now part of France). Schweitzer has been called the greatest Christian of his time. He based his personal philosophy on a “reverence for life” and on a deep commitment to serve humanity through thought and action. For his many years of humanitarian efforts, Schweitzer was awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize.

By the time he was twenty-one, Schweitzer had decided on the course for his life. For nine years he would dedicate himself to the study of science, music, and theology. Then he would devote the rest of his life to serving humanity directly. Before he was 30, he was a respected writer on theology, an accomplished organist, and an authority on the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. His book The Quest of the Historical Jesus ruffled some scholarly feathers when it was first published in 1905.  He was very courageous in his quest for truth!

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The Ancient Wisdom of Harry Potter

Prof. Abditus Questor

Introduction: Harry Potter and the Ancient Wisdom

Ancient Wisdom

The Ancient Wisdom is a way of looking at ourselves and our place in the universe that is probably as old as the human species. It is the inner side, the heart, of all the great religions, as well as of simpler forms of spiritual belief held by people around the world. It is likely inherent in us through our shared collective unconscious, perhaps implanted in our nascent human minds by those spiritual forebears of ours whom H.P.B. calls the Lords of the Flame.

The Ancient Wisdom has been communicated in many ways. It is sometimes set forth more or less straightforwardly, as in the philosophical discussions of the Hindu Upanishads or in Madam Blavatsky’s master work, The Secret Doctrine. But more often it is expressed by symbols and allegory, as in the Bhagavad-Gita or in works like The Legend of Bagger Vance (novel written by Steven Pressfield and movie directed by Robert Redford) or in the rituals of Freemasonry. The Ancient Wisdom can arise in any of us by dreams, reveries, or meditations, welling up spontaneously from the archetypes of the collective unconscious—as the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung posited. The Ancient Wisdom is also found in myths from cultures around the globe, as well as in those humble cousins of myth, folk tales or fairy stories, all springing from the collective unconscious.

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Kandinsky and Theosophy

Catherine Wathen – USA
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), the father of modern abstract painting, is arguably the most famous and influential artist of recent times. He was also deeply influenced by Theosophy. In 2009, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, one of the chief repositories of his art, has staged a major exhibit of his work to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1959 opening of its building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

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The Lotus and the Lion: Buddhism and the British Empire

Morton Dilkes — USA

The Lotus and the Lion: Buddhism and the British Empire (Cornell University Press, 2008) is a study of the cultural interchange between Buddhism and Victorian Britain. The author refers to this interchange as “hybridity,” which has an “unavoidable reference to miscegenation” (p. 8). The core of this 273-page book consists of four long chapters on “The Life of the Buddha in Victorian England,” “Buddhism and the Emergence of Late Victorian Hybrid Religions,” “Romances of Reincarnation, Karma, and Desire,” and “Buddhism and the Empire of the Self in Kipling’s Kim.” Theosophy and Theosophists are mention throughout the volume, but their central treatment is on pages 63-87 of the second chapter, on “Late Victorian Hybrid Religions.” Theosophy is the major subject of that chapter, the rest being background material on Spiritualism and a definition of the term “hybrid religion.”

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Theosophical Wizard of Oz

John Algeo - USA

The author of The Wizard of Oz was a Theosophist. And his book is full of Theosophical ideas and ideals. Those two facts were first established in the American Theosophist in 1986. The Theosophical background of the book and its author, Frank Baum, has been largely ignored by literary critics, many of whom believe that “children’s literature” (or “kid lit”) is not worthy of serious consideration. (Never mind that most of today’s Oz fans are almost certainly adults rather than children, even if they first encountered the story during childhood.) In addition, Oz fans for the most part do not understand the Theosophy of the story and may not be comfortable with the author’s subliminal adoption of Theosophical thought.

However, a new biography of L. Frank Baum establishes the centrality of Theosophy to both the author’s life and The Wizard of Oz. That biography is Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story, by Evan I. Schwartz (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). This book is a great read, a sort of mystery story leading from Baum’s failures and frustrations to his amazing success with Oz. It shows how early events in the author’s life are paralleled in the book and were doubtless sources from which he drew, perhaps unconsciously, in writing it. But it also forthrightly acknowledges the importance of Theosophy to both Baum and Oz.

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