Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

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.

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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).

Character is Destiny

Marty Bax – The Netherlands

[This article is based on a talk given on March 7, 2013 one day after the national website on Piet Mondrian was launched. The author had the honor to talk about a recently acquired document from the Mondrian Archive at the Netherlands Institute of Art History: Mondrian’s Horoscope. The article has been slightly edited for style and coherence]

Character is Destiny’ - Piet Mondrian and his Horoscope

Recently the Netherlands Institute for Art History acquired the Harry Holtzman Estate on Piet Mondrian. Among the very few documents Mondrian preserved until his death is an interesting one: the horoscope Mondrian had drawn for himself late 1911-early 1912.

Already in 1993-1994 when I was working on the exhibition, “Piet Mondrian 1892-1914, The Amsterdam Years” in the Amsterdam City Archives, now housed in the building designed by Mondrian’s co-theosophist Karel de Bazel, I had several talks with my colleague Robert Welsh about the horoscope. I wondered what insights Mondrian had drawn from it, concerning his personality and his career. Judging from the vast network I uncovered during my investigations, it had become clear that Mondrian was not the stiff, introverted man he has always been judged to be. A better characterization would be: a solitary person among his fellow people, someone who weaved in and out of social circles in a receptive and playful, but at the same time reserved, independent and reflective way. ‘Piet, now you see him, now you don’t’, was the jokey description of him at gallery openings in Paris.

On 7 March 2013, the birthday of Mondrian, the website www.mondriaan.nl was launched. Posthumously Mondrian received an impressive and modern birthday present. Mondrian himself celebrated his birthday on 7 March 1908 by treating himself to a lecture Rudolf Steiner gave in Amsterdam. He kept the Dutch transcription of Steiner’s lectures all his life, together with his horoscope. Apparently they meant much to him.

Read more: Character is Destiny

Besant, Séances, and Grammar

“I have only one criticism of his [Watkins’s] book: he has a terrible way with hanging modifiers. The Theosophist Annie Besant’s life in measured out in heinous danglers, doggedly modifying the wrong noun (‘Intimate for a time with Annie Besant …, they had drifted apart in his later years’ . . . ”

Theo Tait, reviewing The Undiscovered Country: Journeys among the Dead, by Carl Watkins (Bodley Head) in the London Review of Books, June 6, 2013, p. 20.

Comments on Theosophy

Comments on Theosophy by Robert V. Smith in The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2012. Pp. xvii + 259.

“Given Frank and Maud Baum’s belief in theosophy, it’s been suggested that the name Toto [for Dorothy’s dog] may be a contraction of totality — a word that embraces the Eastern philosophical concept if totality, or a natural ‘unity of matter and energy . . . both real and imagined’” (p. 4).

“Frank Baum believed in the tenets of theosophy, which include an acknowledgment of the power of the Buddha’s Golden Road, or path to self-understanding and enlightenment through a life of study and struggle” (p. 17).

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Jean Sibelius (1865 – 1957)

[from HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, by Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams, research assistant, 3rd rev. ed. (Santa Barbara, CA: Path Publishing House, 1999; c. 1993), pp. 496-7.]


Jean Sibelius

On the occasion of Sibelius’s ninetieth birthday, the music critic for the New York Times (December 1955) wrote:

“The interrelationship between life and art is one of Sibelius’s chief concerns. Sibelius’s identification with the fields, the woods, the sea and the sky is so profound that it has always permeated his music. . . . As a boy Sibelius wandered in the wilderness of his native province of Hame. Birds always fascinated him. "Millions of years ago, in my previous incarnations," he once told Jalas [his son-in-law], "I must have been related to swans or wild geese, because I can still feel that affinity."”

Read more: Jean Sibelius (1865 – 1957)

Theosophy, Fantasy, and Mary Poppins

John Algeo – USA

Chapter 4: The Third Book of the Series: Mary Poppins Opens the Door

Travers, Pamela L. Mary Poppins Opens the Door. San Diego: Harcourt, Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic, 1997, c. 1943.

Mary Poppins Opens the Door, the third and final volume of the three basic Mary Poppins books (with 255 pages of text), is almost as long as the preceding volume and has eight chapters.

Read more: Theosophy, Fantasy, and Mary Poppins

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