Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

After Hilma af Klint: the influence of Theosophy on contemporary art

Marco Pasi – the Netherlands

Public Eye b After

Thought-Forms - At a Shipwreck. Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater

For almost a century and a half after the inception of the Theosophical Society, the central tenets of Theosophy continue to resurface in art created today

Starting from thee 1960s, and especially since the publication of the ground­ breaking book by Sixten Ringbom, The Sounding Cosmos (1970), there has been a considerable amount of research on the relationship between Theosophy, or more generally alternative spirituality, and modern art. Important books and essays have been published, major retrospectives have been held, and large research projects such as ‘Enchanted Modernities’ have been funded. Although there may still be differen­ces of opinion regarding the extent of Theosophy’s influence on the origins of abstract art, and on the development of the early twentieth­ century avant­garde, it would be naïve for an art historian today to deny that such an influence existed at all. Hilma af Klint has played a paradigmatic role in this story. Whereas it had been possible for some critics and art historians to minimize the extent of the influence of Theosophy on other early representatives of abstract or non­mimetic art, such as Kandinsky and Mondrian, things were different with af Klint. Given that her work was ‘discovered’ more recently, it has always been clear that esoteric ideas were crucial in her artistic output. Evidently, without considering this, it would be impos­sible to fully understand what she was doing or why she was doing it. The context of her ‘discovery’ was quite indicative of this, since it happened on the occasion of the groundbreaking 1986 exhibition The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985, held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The growing appreciation of af Klint as a key figure for early twentieth ­century art has perhaps helped indirectly to better understand the importance of Theosophy and alternative spirituality for the artists who were her contemporaries and who had always received most attention from critics and historians.

Read more: After Hilma af Klint: the influence of Theosophy on contemporary art

A note from Joma Sipe in Portugal (April 2023)

Joma SipeJoma. the artrist ... 

Following the series of my activities I started with the Christ Energy and Light. I am happy to share the artwork that I have made this. This second artwork is called FIMBRIAM CHRISTUS VESTIMENTI (The Hem of Christ's Garment). This is also a very large creation, like the first one, with 80x50cm, visible size and a golden frame with 100x70cm size, all done with gold-based ink pens and crystals. I had no idea in mind, and simply concentrated on the Christ Energy and the drawing flew naturally, when I had nothing more to draw, the work was finished.

Read more: A note from Joma Sipe in Portugal (April 2023)

Second Readings

David M. Grossman – USA

A fascinating new photo series

In his Ocean of Theosophy William Judge says in Ch Vll, titled Manas, “It is Manas which sees the objects presented to it by the bodily organs and the actual organs within. When the open eye receives a picture on the retina, the whole scene is turned into vibrations in the optic nerves which disappear into the brain, where Manas is enabled to perceive them as idea.”

What we perceive as idea varies with the person and the general direction of his or her thought life up to that point. In other words, what we look at and what we see can be worlds apart.   

We can do no better than quote the immortal words of William Blake:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

(From Auguries of Innocence)


Read more: Second Readings

Crises of Faith or Doubt and Annie Besant

Catherine Wathen – USA

Book cover

The nineteenth century, everybody knows, was an age when faith was lost and scientific skepticism came to the fore. It was, after all, the age of Darwin, the saint of faithless skeptics. Yet, what “everybody knows” has been challenged in a recent book by Timothy Larsen: Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 2006). In this book, Larsen argues that the view of the century of Darwin as a time when faith was on the wane is wrong, or at least incomplete. He cites examples of skeptics who rediscovered faith in traditional religion and maintains that they represent a “crisis of doubt” in the secular values of skepticism.

Read more: Crises of Faith or Doubt and Annie Besant

Light and Dark - a photo series by Richard Dvořák

In autumn there is a special light in the forest - the sun is still strong and many rays of light find their way through the treetops. But at the same time the shadows become darker, deeper and announce the dark winter season.

This seems to be especially the case in the Black Forest, where I came across this light-filled clearing on a hike about 1 hour before sunset …

ENLARGE all photos (full screen) by clicking on the small magnifier at the bottom of the right corner.

PE RD 2 Richard 1

Read more: Light and Dark - a photo series by Richard Dvořák

A note from Joma Sipe in Portugal (December 2022)

 Joma S

Joma, a fine and genuine artist

I share with my friends on Theosophy Forward the panels that I created for a series of artworks I did this year related to Christ Symbolism and how the Christ Energy appears to me as Light, which results in drawing what I can perceive with my inner vision. This first one is called CHRISTUS NOMEN SACRUM (The Sacred Name of Christ). It is a large panel: 100x50cm visible size and a golden frame:140x80cm, all done with golden-based ink pens and crystals. I had no concrete idea in mind, and simply concentrated on the Christ Energy, letting the drawing flow naturally, and when I had nothing more to draw, it meant that the piece was completed. I share both the original and illuminated versions.

Read more: A note from Joma Sipe in Portugal (December 2022)

Images of Different Paths

David M. Grossman – USA

PE P 2

Footsteps ... on the Path? 

Thou canst not travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself - The Voice of the Silence

David is a dear friend who regularly contributes to Theosophy Forward with fine photo series, but also with excellent articles. Here is an overview of eight of them, especially written for TF. Click on the titles to go directly to the articles.

Our Unity - Some Reflections On Unity - Theosophy and the Arts, Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment - A Few Thoughts: Ideas, Action and Influences - Prometheus — Reclaiming the Fire - The Three Propositions - Living In Kali YugaA Case for Mythology - A Meditation on Mindfulness

Read more: Images of Different Paths

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