Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

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 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).

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 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.

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