Kathy Gann – USA
Popularizing Theosophy in 2012 and Beyond
Carrying on the work of several Theosophical Societies that have called Denver, Colorado, home, the Denver Theosophical Society is a study center of the Theosophical Society in America-Adyar, chartered by Dorothy Abbenhouse in 1992.
When leadership of the group passed to me from Olivia Hansen, a seasoned group leader whose humor and gracious eloquence served the group beautifully, I had some big shoes to fill.
First among my plans was to publish a website. When I joined the TS in 1996, I found the group in the phone book. These days, we turn to the internet, so I felt a web presence was necessary. With no budget at my disposal, I purchased inexpensive software and sat down to design our website . . . hours later, I had the beginnings of an arguably pitiful-looking website. Surrendering, I went to bed. Just before falling asleep, the colors and design for our website popped into my mind, whole and complete. It felt solidly “right,” so I implemented the design the next morning. Admittedly not the most sophisticated site on the web, it nevertheless serves its purpose, and you’re invited to visit at www.DenverTS.org.
Like most groups, our membership has waxed and waned, but has recently grown to nineteen. Many of our regular attendees are non-members. Most meetings are open to the public, the exceptions being two members’ meetings per year. Our openness to the public expresses our vision of making wisdom teachings available to anyone who wants them, at low or no cost. Our task today, as for early Theosophists, still involves “popularizing a knowledge of Theosophy,” and there is much to be done.
A typical month involves two programs, with a break over the summer. One program per month is a study and discussion of courses prepared by TSA so we can easily offer core theosophical teachings to the public at no cost. We “set out the buffet” of teachings, and visitors are free to graze or feast as their appetite dictates.
Our second program each month often involves a guest speaker or film screening. We’ve toured a Buddhist temple, held a healing fair, and have taken children into nature to build fairy houses. Click to see our fairy house video. That was the day I discovered that to be led from the unreal to the real, we need only get into nature, preferably with children. We enjoy a holiday party/program each December and a “wisdom walk” at the Denver Botanic Gardens in May. As we stroll the gardens’ beauty, we ponder a brief wisdom teaching, then share our insights on the deck near a lily pond.
Denver TS group at Denver Botanic Gardens, May, 2009
Since 1997, our group has offered a healing meditation service, linked in recent years to the Theosophical Order of Service. Another TOS project involves recycling batteries. We have diverted 208 pounds (and counting) of batteries from the landfills, thanks to TOS Liaison Doug Fisichella.
Doug’s wife, Louise, has undertaken the role of librarian, and our sizeable (thanks to kind donations) library is beautifully displayed in their home. At a recent library open house, the books nearly glowed as visitors browsed the rows of treasures old and new. Doug, a second-generation theosophist who writes and lectures on Theosophy, loves having a Theosophical library so handy.
We spread the word of upcoming events by a growing email list. Recipients get an email reminder of each program two days in advance, each featuring the most beautiful nature photography I can find. Pretty pictures may not increase attendance, but as one recipient commented, “they get the email opened.” I use iContact software to turn each reminder into a micro-newsletter, offering free resources and tidbits of interest from the theosophical world and beyond. For larger programs, we use free advertising such as Craigslist.org and online community event calendars. Occasionally, we co-sponsor programs with other groups to increase attendance.
Outside our TS group lies a world of opportunity to offer theosophical ideas in attractive ways: blogging, online discussion sites, even a YouTube channel (visit ours here) to name a few, though nothing beats heart-to-heart conversation. How about sharing your favorite theosophical quote on Facebook? Our challenges today in sharing Theosophical ideas differ from those faced by early Theosophists, but our opportunities are made exponentially greater by today’s technology. Never have theosophists enjoyed so many opportunities to popularize a knowledge of Theosophy, ease suffering, and offer a vision of wholeness to the world.