Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

Stony Island Arts Bank opens “Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant.”

This article contains information about an exhibition that was held from December 29, 2015 until March 1, 2016. The information in this piece is quite interesting for Theosophists, that is why it is partly reproduced here.

Public Eye AB 2b 
Lady MacFarlane, Mr. Prince, Mr. John Varley and an unknown artist, Thought Forms, response to devotion, 1905. 30 offset color prints of gouaches created between 1896 and 1904 for the first edition of the book by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, Thought Forms, The Theosophical Publishing Society, London and Benares.

CHICAGO, IL. - Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant is a new exhibition that opens in Chicago at Stony Island Arts Bank. It will be open to the public from December 29th 2015 through March 1, 2016. The Stony Island Arts Bank is a hybrid gallery, media archive, library, and community center and home to the Rebuild Foundation. It is a platform for exhibitions, artist and scholar residencies, and is dedicated to the preservation and activation of archival collections.

The exhibition is being organized by Rebuild Foundation under the artistic curatorship of Northwestern University’s Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in Art Theory and Practice, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, who is also the Director of the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna and of the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin, Italy. This exhibition follows her successful curatorship of this year’s 14th Istanbul Biennial, “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”. For this new Chicago project, she works in alliance with artist Theaster Gates, founder of the Rebuild Foundation whose artwork was also featured in Istanbul Biennial.

Read more: Stony Island Arts Bank opens “Intention to Know: The Thought Forms of Annie Besant.”

The thing about feelings: The radical notions of Annie Besant

On February 10 an interesting article appeared in the Chicago Tribune regarding an exhibition about Annie Besant’s ideas on Thought Forms, published in a book she wrote in 1905 with the same title which is well-known to many Theosophists.  

Lori Waxman – USA

What does explosive anger look like? It isn't hard to picture a narrative scene that corresponds, perhaps a burly man in a traffic jam screaming while pumping his fist out an open car window.
But that's a person and a situation, not a feeling. More ambitious, if stranger, would be the attempt to illustrate anger itself. At the turn of the 19th century, a British woman named Annie Besant gave visual form to an array of emotions, among them high ambition, vague sympathy, self-renunciation, definite affection, helpful thoughts and the appreciation of a picture.


Read more: The thing about feelings: The radical notions of Annie Besant

Theosophy and the Arts, Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment

David Grossman – USA

It is well known among students of Theosophy that renowned visual artists, poets, writers, composers, creative people of all sorts have made no secret of their interest in Theosophy. Some, such as W.B. Yates were  members of the original Theosophical Society. Others like the abstract painter Kandinsky in his book Concerning The Spiritual In Art quotes from the The Key To Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky and speaks about the Theosophical Society as the avenue of a contemporary spiritual impulse in the world.  Other artists and writers who are usually mentioned as influenced by Theosophy are Cezanne, Maeterlinck, Scriabin, D.H. Lawrence, Mondrian and the list goes on.

Read more: Theosophy and the Arts, Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment

Theosophy and Architecture: K. P. C. de Bazel’s Dutch Trading Company Building in Amsterdam (Reprint from January 2011)

Marty Th. Bax – The Netherlands  

[This essay was first published in Masonic and Esoteric Heritage: New Perspectives for Art and Heritage Policies. Proceedings of the First International Conference of the OVN, Foundation for the Advancement of Academic Research into the History of Freemasonry in the Netherlands, October 20-21, 2005. Ed. A. Kroon, M. Bax, J. Snoek. The Hague, Netherlands: OVN Foundation, 2005. It is reproduced here in a revised form.]

Theosophy and Architecture (part 1)


The building of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (Dutch Trade Company) (1919-1926) is a long-time favourite of mine. When I started my PhD research on Theosophy and Art in the Netherlands in 1987, I came across this building in the literature on Karel de Bazel (1869-1923, a Theosophical architect and designer whose most famous work is the subject of this article). I was struck by the peculiarity of it, not only by itself but also with the vision and total work of the architect. It is curiously un-Western in appearance, a pleasure to the eye because of its fine sculpturing, but monolithic in appearance and emphatically turned inward. I was sure from the start that there was more to this building than the literature suggested.

Read more: Theosophy and Architecture: K. P. C. de Bazel’s Dutch Trading Company Building in Amsterdam...

Cities and Civilization – reissue

Morton Dilkes – USA

Public Eye 7 CitiesAndCivilizationsCover

Cities are the source of civilization. The truth of that statement is attested by the very etymology of the word civilization, whose stem is the Latin word civis, meaning “city.”

Madam Blavatsky also bore witness to the connection between cities and civilization in The Secret Doctrine(2:198), where she wrote of the first physical humanity on our planet: “The whole human race was at that time of ‘one language and of one lip.’ This did not prevent the last two Sub-Races of the Third Race from building cities, and sowing far and wide the first seeds of civilization under the guidance of their divine instructors.” Earlier, in Isis Unveiled (2:508), she had referred to the mythic figures of Hermes and Cain as those who “build cities, civilize and instruct mankind in the arts.” And later, in an 1892 article in Lucifer (CW 13:100), she noted: “Some Homeric heroes also, when they are said, like Laomedon, Priam’s father, to have built cities, were in reality establishing the Mysteries and introducing the Wisdom-Religion in foreign lands.”

Read more: Cities and Civilization – reissue

The Ojai Music Festival

Alex Ross – USA

Public Eye 2 The New Yorker

[extracts from The New Yorker (July 6 & 13, 2015): 88-89]

At first glance, it is a mystery how the prosperously rustic town of Ojai, California, came to host one of the world’s great festivals of modern music. . . . In the nineteen-twenties, the Indian guru Jiddu Krishnamurti and various personalities connected with the Theosophical movement took up residence in Ojai. . . .

Read more: The Ojai Music Festival

The Theosophical Roots of Spiritual Education

Kathleen Hall – Canada

In many countries, educational reforms are taking place to consider the changing needs of 21st century learners. The old factory model of education that was mainly concerned with churning out obedient workers no longer suits the needs of today’s world. As educators seek to embrace new ways of learning, many are considering a greater focus on educating the heart as well as the mind. In his ground-breaking video, “Changing Paradigms of Education” Sir Ken Robinson discusses the need for education that is both affective and cognitive. Robinson states that the outdated factory model most schools are still based on directly points to the need for a complete reform in education, one that addresses both the heart and the mind in learning. Humanity is at the forefront of a spiritual epoch. An education that includes the development of spiritual enlightenment also seems necessary in these times.

The emergence of this new spiritual epoch may have begun as far back as the late 19th century, and educational reforms that encompassed spiritual development were evident in the formation of new schools, many of which embodied Theosophical principles. These principles were defined by Madame Blavatsky, in her ideal of what children should be taught:

Children should above all be taught self-reliance, love for all men, altruism, mutual charity, and more than anything else, to think and reason for themselves. We would reduce the purely mechanical work of the memory to an absolute minimum and devote the time to the development and training of the inner senses, faculties and latent capacities. Deal with each child as a unit and educate it so as to produce the most harmonious and equal unfoldment of its powers, in order that its special aptitudes should find their full natural development. Aim at creating free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish.”

H. P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy [p. 251/52]

Read more: The Theosophical Roots of Spiritual Education

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