Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

The Suffragette and the Dodge Heiress

Marty Bax – The Netherlands

Public Eye Bax  b  Muriel and Gilbert
Muriel and Gilbert on their honeymoon, 1891

Countess Muriel De La Warr (née Brassey 1872-1930), became a member of the Theosophical Society as an active suffragette. According to her close friend, the Christian Socialist George Lansbury, Muriel did not pride herself on her progressive work and her financing of the movement. Lansbury was one of the founders of the Daily Herald and a fervent supporter of women’s rights, and his campaigns were largely funded by Muriel. Before his political career, Lansbury had been a railway contractor, just as Muriel’s grandfather, Thomas Brassey (1805-1870) had been. Brassey was responsible for laying the railways throughout the whole of the British Empire, and became unfathomably rich. But wealth was not enough for Muriel, she wanted to have the title of a countess. Therefore Muriel married Gilbert Sackville, Eighth Earl De La Warr (pronounced Delaware) in 1891. Gilbert belonged to the oldest of English upper-class families. However, his family’s fortunes had dwindled and he needed money. Muriel had plenty of it.

Read more: The Suffragette and the Dodge Heiress

Hilma af Klint

Kathleen Hall – Canada

Public Eye Hilma af Klint 2
Hilma af Klint

No form can come into objective existence — from the highest to the lowest — before the abstract ideal of this form — or, as Aristotle would call it, the privation of this form — is called forth. Before an artist paints a picture every feature of it exists already in his imagination; to have enabled us to discern a watch, this particular watch must have existed in its abstract form in the watchmaker’s mind. So with future men. (Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled 1:310)

The world is often not ready to accept what pioneers working on the spiritual plane have discovered in their lifetime, and therefore some things must wait to be revealed. In 1986, 42 years after her passing, a small collection of Hilma af Klint’s remarkable paintings were publically shown in “The Spiritual in Art,” Maurice Tuchman’s ground breaking exhibit held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prior to her death in 1944, all of Hilma af Klint’s works were given in trust to her nephew, requesting that they not be publically revealed until at least 20 years after her passing.

Read more: Hilma af Klint

Theosophy in Constance:The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde

Moyle, Franny. Constance:The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde. New York: Pegasus Books, 2012. © 2011.

They found themselves seated next to the exotic Russian émigré Madame Blavatsky and her disciple Annie Besant. . . . Smoking . . . heavily . . . she held court talking about the position of women in Russia. . . . Blavatsky had acquired huge fame at the time as one of the founders of the Theosophical Society. This society, which was created in New York in the mid-1870s . . . had become a phenomenon across the Western world” (p. 165).

The Theosophical Society represented an intellectual response to spiritualism. It sought to provide credibility to spiritualism by grounding it in a system of belief. At the very core of Theosophy was the concept that the material world cannot be separated from its spiritual counterpart . . . based on the idea of a constant flow and relationship between the material and spiritual dimensions” (p. 166).

Constance, growing disenchanted with the conventional church, explored Theosophy . . . as a genuine alternative to conventional religious practice” (p. 174).

Art and Western Esotericism: From Rejected Knowledge to Blockbuster

Marty Bax – The Netherlands

[This essay was first published on Bax Art Concepts and Services www.baxpress.blogspot.com.br/ It is reproduced here in a revised form.]

From 1996 onwards, Dutch art historians Marty Bax, Andréa Kroon and Audrey Wagtberg Hansen have realized various projects aimed at drawing attention to the relationship between art and western esotericism. Because our goals have largely been realized, we feel the time has come to focus on other lacunas in our knowledge of art history. This column therefore marks the end of our joint ‘lobby’ for this fascinating subject.

Read more: Art and Western Esotericism: From Rejected Knowledge to Blockbuster

Theosophy in The New Yorker

 new yorker theosophical society

Vice-President Henry Wallace . . . was also considered something of an oddball: insiders mocked his fascination with plant genetics and gossiped about his enthusiasm for Nicholas Roerich, a Russian painter turned Theosophical guru. . . . / . . . In the [nineteen-] twenties, Roerich and his wife, Helena, blended aspects of Theosophy, Hinduism, and Tibetan Buddhism into a doctrine called Agni Yoga” (The New Yorker, October 14, 2013, pp. 104, 106).

Theosophy, Fantasy, and Mary Poppins

John Algeo – USA

Chapter 5: A Review of the First Three Books and a Look Ahead

This last part of the present series on Mary Poppins offers some comments on books other than the three basic ones and sums up a Theosophical view of the subject. Those first three basic books, considered in chapters 2-4 of this series are Mary Poppins (1934), Mary Poppins Comes Back (1935), and Mary Poppins Opens the Door (1943).

The fourth book in the series, Mary Poppins in the Park, 1952, is a collection of six episodes:

Travers, Pamela L. Mary Poppins in the Park. San Diego: Harcourt, Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic, 1997, c. 1952.

Read more: Theosophy, Fantasy, and Mary Poppins

Habits of the House

A recent novel, Habits of the House, by Fay Weldon (New York: St. Martin’s, 2013), includes two references to Annie Besant:

“The Countess d’Asti . . . had lately revealed herself as an admirer of Annie Besant, an earnest and influential mystic who campaigned for peace between nations, the end of world misery, anti-vivisection and so forth” (p. 80).

“Rosina glared but did not deign to reply when her father . . . teased her by saying that the Hague conference was a frippery inspired by Annie Besant and her friends” (pp. 82-3).

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