Theosophy and the Theosophical Societies - part 1 (2020 version)
Published: Wednesday, 18 November 2020 11:17
THEOSOPHY AND THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETIES
By Dr. James Santucci
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
California State University
Fullerton, CA 92834-6868
Adyar, part of Headquarters Building. Photo: © Richard Dvořák
[Versions of this article have been published in Syzygy, vol. 6, no. 1–2 (Winter-Fall 1997): 221–45; The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions, edited by James R. Lewis (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998) [and second edition, 2002], 388–89 [2nd ed.: 573] (“Point Loma Publications”), 476 [2nd ed.: 722–723] (“Temple of the People”), 480–83 [2nd ed.: 727–730] (“Theosophical Movement”), 483–87 [2nd ed.: 730–734] (“Theosophical Society”), 503–505 [2nd ed.: 760–762] (“United Lodge of Theosophists”), and 527–28 [2nd ed.: 802–803 (“The Word Foundation”), and in Odd Gods, edited by James R. Lewis (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001), 270–289.
This text was updated in 2013 through the efforts of Janet Kerschner (the Archivist at the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library, The Theosophical Society in America, Wheaton, Illinois), S. Ramu (General Manager, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar), Kenneth Small (Point Loma Publications), Herman C. Vermeulen (The Theosophical Society, Point Loma, The Hague, The Netherlands), Jan Nicolaas Kind (Theosophy Forward). The 2013 edition was edited for Web publication by the late John Algeo, former President of the Theosophical Society in America and Vice President of the International Theosophical Society in Adyar, Chennai, India. The presentation has been further updated in 2020.]
The modern Theosophical Movement is represented today in the U.S. primarily through seven organizations: the Theosophical Society, headquartered in Adyar, Chennai, India; the Theosophical Society, headquartered in Pasadena, California (U.S.A.); the United Lodge of Theosophists, formed in Los Angeles, California; the Temple of the People, with headquarters at Halcyon, near Pismo Beach, California; the Word Foundation of Dallas, Texas; and Point Loma Publications (now renamed as the Point Loma School of Theosophic Perennialism) in San Diego, California, and The Theosophical Society: Point Loma. Of these groups, the Adyar T.S. is considered by most Theosophists and scholars to be the parent organization. All claim to disseminate Theosophical teachings, “Theosophy” referring to a term popularized and defined by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891) to denote the Wisdom of the Ages, embodying “higher esoteric knowledge”—hence, a “Secret Doctrine”—partially recoverable in imperfect and incomplete form in those portions of the scriptures of the world’s great religions that express mystical teachings and in those philosophies that display a monistic or pantheistic bent.
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