1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
My name is Nancy Secrest. I am from the United States, originally Detroit, Michigan. I moved to the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California in 1987, then to the TS in America’s national headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois in 1988. I currently live in Washougal, Washington which is a small town very near Portland, Oregon. I’m a life member of the TS. I joined the TS in April, 1970 which would make it 45 years that I have been a member.
2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
I belong to the Portland, Oregon Lodge in the American Section of the TS. There I am on the Lodge’s finance committee. In the past, I have held the offices of President and Treasurer of the Lodge. I am not as active in the Lodge as I once was due to my Section and International responsibilities, but do attend meetings most weeks and participate in a study group at the lodge.
I currently serve as a board member of the American Section of the TS. I also held the position of National Secretary of the American Section from August of 1988 until December of 1990. In 2011 I retired from the position of National Treasurer after 18 years of service. I am in my last two year term as President of the Theosophical Order of Service in the United States, and was recently appointed International Secretary of the TOS.
3. How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
I wrote a paper, an assignment, in college choosing reincarnation for my topic. While researching the subject I ran across mention of Theosophy and the Masters in an encyclopaedia and mentioned it in the paper. When the professor returned the paper, he had written in red across the bottom, “Do you really believe in this stuff?” That brief and superficial encounter with Theosophy didn’t stick, however.
I really learned about Theosophy in my early twenties from a local bookshop in Ferndale, Michigan. I worked at a bank down the street and decided to check out the bookshop on my lunch hour one day. It was a most interesting store filled with metaphysical and occult books many of them old and worn. Big over-stuffed chairs and sofas invited patrons to sit and read. It was my kind of place. The owner was a young Theosophist, although I didn’t know that at the time. I made my purchase and went home. The owner had put a copy of a little book, At the Feet of the Master, in my bag. I read it. I was home. You know the rest.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?
Theosophy is my life.
5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?
At the Feet of the Master because its simple words tell us everything we need to know to live life well – to grow spiritually. That’s what’s important to me. Rounds and races? I don’t care. I find that boring. From the age of twelve I knew there was more to spiritual growth than the religion I had been born into offered. At twelve, I went to the local library started at one end of the religion and philosophy section and read every book they had. (They must not have had anything on Theosophy). While at that age I’m sure I didn’t understand half of what those books contained, I knew I didn’t find what I was looking for. Not until I read At the Feet of the Master did I find a system or a mode of thought that expressed what I knew inside of myself to be true. Even though I’ve read many interesting, enlightening or instructive Theosophical, and other books since then, that one little book has remained my favourite.
6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS facing at the moment?
I recently returned from the 139th Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society at Adyar. The talks there spoke to the theme “Theosophy in a Changing World”. Realistically, there has never been a time when the world was not changing. That’s “the nature of the beast” so to speak. Our modern world though, grows smaller and moves faster every day. Theosophy is about brotherhood. Even more than that it’s about Oneness. Our biggest challenge is to realize that the nucleus spoken of in our First Object has been formed. We are that nucleus, brothers and sisters. Our task now is to keep up with the changes and to help direct the energy generated by those changes into the positive avenues of self-realization, worldwide brotherhood and ultimately Oneness.
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
There seems to be a spirit of cooperation these days between the various groups in the Theosophical Movement. I would wish for those connections to deepen and grow stronger, so that all Theosophical groups in our Movement, born from a common root, can work together to meet the challenges that lay ahead.
From the editor:
Opinions and ideas expressed in the mini-interviews are exclusively of those who are being interviewed. They don’t necessarily represent the ideas and opinions of the compilers of Theosophy Forward. The responses of the interviewees are not edited for content. Some contributors give short answers to the questions while others touch upon the subject more elaborately.