Theosophical Encyclopedia

A New Occasional Paper

Theosophical History Occasional Papers: Vol. XV: Revisiting Visionary Utopia: Katherine Tingley’s Lomaland 1898-1942: Exhibit and Archive Overview

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A new volume of Theosophical History Occasional Papers will be devoted to an overview of the Lomaland Community Theosophy exhibit held at the Special Collections Library at San Diego State University. The exhibit, Revisiting Visionary Utopia: Katherine Tingley’s Lomaland 1898–1942, has been ongoing since 2017, and will continue until 2020.

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Lomaland garden

The co-curators, Kenneth Small and Robert Ray, have assembled an extensive collection that includes original material from Emmett and Carmen Small (Mr. Small’s parents), Iverson and Helen Harris, Gordon Plummer, Marian Lester and other Lomaland residents. Original artwork by Lomaland resident artists, notably Reginald Machell, Edith White, Marian Lester, and Leonard Lester are featured. Documents from Theosophical luminaries, including co-founders Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891) and William Q. Judge (1851–1896) and Lomaland Leaders Katherine Tingley (1847–1929) and G. de Purucker (1874–1942) will be included.

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Lomaland, Roja Yoga Academy 

The exhibit includes memorabilia from drama, art, music and literature produced at Lomaland, residents’ letters and diaries, exhibit overviews of the community through photos and graphic art displays, recordings of Lomaland residents’ historical reflections and presentations on Theosophy and much more. Also, unique art works by Lomaland artists generously loaned from the San Diego History Center are displayed. A comprehensive finding aid is in process of being developed to make the exhibit accessible for students and scholars to study, with access to a comprehensive digital database.

The publication of the volume is planned for November 2019. It will contain a number of archival photos, documents, and letters from the Point Loma archives and selected examples of artwork by its members. The length will be approximately125 pages.

Publication will be in print form only. For information, please contact:

Dr. James Santucci

Department of Religious Studies

P.O. Box 6868

California State University

Fullerton, CA 92834-6868

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Concerning: Theosophical History Occasional Papers: Vol. XV: Revisiting Visionary Utopia: Katherine Tingley’s Lomaland 1898-1942: Exhibit and Archive Overview

James A. Santucci – USA

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James A, Santucci

The Theosophical Society, founded in 1875, remained a united institution until events in 1895 led to its American Section under the Presidency of William Q. Judge (1851–1896) to declare its autonomy from the Society’s international headquarters in Adyar, Madras (now Chennai), India.

According to the members of this newly independent organization, “The Theosophical Society in America” considered itself not only an independent organization but also the “parent Theosophical Society” and therefore the Society with direct and continuing ties to the T. S. founded in New York City in 1875. This was in contradistinction to the view of the Adyar-based President-Founder of the T. S., Henry S. Olcott (1832–1907), who interpreted the actions of the American Section as a secession from the legally-constituted T. S., now located in Adyar.

Within a year of the American Section’s action, Judge died of the effects of tuberculosis. The new President of the T. S. in America was Ernest T. Hargrove (1870–1939), but for only a brief period since the true leader was recognized to be the Outer Head of the Eastern School of Theosophy. Established under the title “Esoteric Section” with Madame Blavatsky (1831–1891) as its head in 1888, its purpose was to form body of students “organized on the ORIGINAL LINES devised by the real founders of the T. S.” The implication conveyed by this description was that the Outer Head was to be considered a more significant spiritual position than the administrative leader of the Society. It is therefore not surprising that Judge’s authority not only resided in the office of the Presidency of the new Society but also in his capacity as Outer Head of the E.S.T. for America upon Blavatsky’s death in 1891, which he shared with Annie Besant as Outer Head outside America. Following Judge’s death, the Outer Head who succeeded was for a time unknown until it was revealed to be Katherine Tingley (1847–1929). Although Hargrove and Tingley held their offices concurrently, it was obvious that Tingley was the effective leader of the Society.

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Katherine Tingley and G. de Purucker 

By early 1897, under Tingley’s leadership the land designated to be the site for the Theosophical community was secured. The location was described by Emmett A. Greenwalt in his California Utopia: Point Loma 1897–1942 (1) in the following manner:

Point Loma is the northern and westernmost land-arm protecting San Diego Bay. Its elevation of nearly four hundred feet commands a view which Charles Dudley Warner in Our Italy described as one of the world’s three finest, with San Diego and the mountains to the east, and the broad Pacific to the west. The site itself was three miles short of the lighthouse standing at the tip of the point.

In 1898, the Society was renamed the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society with Mrs. Tingley serving as its “Leader and Official Head.” The direction that she took reflected her activism in applying Theosophical principles, principal of which was the advancement of an educational program known as “Raja Yoga,” which in turn emphasized an integration of physical, mental, and spiritual training. Those who resided in the community were expected to acquire proficiency in various areas of the science and arts. Most were expected to engage in more practical pursuits required by the community’s needs, such as agriculture and horticulture, in addition to engaging in community outreach programs that reflected Theosophical principles, such as dramatic and musical productions. As to be expected, publication of the community’s Theosophical teachings and activities occurred, principally through its written tracts and ongoing research. The range of activities is quite impressive as illustrative in Greenwalt’s California Utopia. What follows in the present volume is a confirmation of the contributions of an extraordinarily talented community not only to the local environs of San Diego but also to the nation.

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While there are many publications that highlight various aspects of the Theosophical community in Point Loma, this work attempts to offer a more comprehensive overview of its contributions to the arts, education, music, drama, and other interests. Many of the images represented in this publication are currently in a library display at California State University, San Diego, under the title “Revisiting Visionary Utopia: Katherine Tingley’s Lomaland: 1898–1942.” Furthermore, the University, under the supervision of Robert Ray, the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, and Kenneth R. Small, the son of W. Emmett Small—who, following the closing of Point Loma in 1942, became head of Point Loma Publications and editor of The Eclectic Theosophist—and Carmen (Fick) Small, both members of the Point Loma Community.

Because of his family’s ties and indeed deep interest in the history of Lomaland, there is probably no one more familiar with the community than Ken. Without his expertise, an exhibit and publication such as this would have been impossible to bring to fruition.

Furthermore, both the library display and this publication derive many of the images and documents from the Kenneth R. Small Archive of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society at Lomaland, 1874–1960. The archive is housed at the library of California State University, San Diego and consists of 59 boxes of correspondence, diaries, journal, articles, photographs, and scrapbooks, thus making this collection a major resource for researchers interested in the U.B. and T.S. Besides the efforts of Dr. Ray and Ken Small, Brent Jensen, formerly of the Special Collections and University Archives, had a hand in organizing the exhibit and the archives, in addition to initiating composition of this publication. Regarding the Archive, Brent also prepared the website for the University archives; TO GO THERE CLICK HERE

The present publication is a joint effort involving the preparation and collection of materials included herein by Dr. Ray and Ken Small, no small feat. I also wish to acknowledge Dr. Tim Rudbøg, the Director of Copenhagen Center for the Study of Theosophy and Esotericism, for reviewing the manuscript. Proofing a work is not easy but the results are worth the efforts. Also, a special acknowledgement to Robert Hutwöhl, who designed and prepared the layout of this publication. Robert has also created the look of Theosophical History after I assumed its editorship, and over the years has provided unwavering support in our efforts to bring out both the Theosophical History journal and Theosophical History Occasional Papers Series Needless to say, both the journal and the Occasional Papers could not continue without his collaboration and expertise.

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