Since 1986

Tenth International Conference on Theosophical History 2014

In 2014 the ITHCon was organised on the 20th and 21st of September at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in London.

20 September

Welcome – Colin Price, National President, TS in England

1880 – When a British Agent Spied on Madame Blavatsky – Paul Johnson (in absentia) – The fraudulent impersonation of a sincere spiritual seeker by the chief of the Indian secret police in 1880 led to a public relations crisis for the TS.

Oriental Order of Sikha and the Sat Bhai, Yarker & Blavatsky – Geraldine Beskin and Barry Loft
A look of the origin of the combined Order with an Brahmin Pundit in the 1840s and its revival and re-organisation in the 1870s and 1880s as an
‘occult order’ encompassing tarot, astrology, crystal seeing, and mesmerism.

A Necessary Evil: Theosophy’s Ambivalence towards the Human Body John L. Crow – Theosophy has an inherent tension arising from two of its informing
ideological undercurrents, Platonic idealism and spiritualized materialism. It casts the human body and its materiality as both a hindrance to spiritual
development and a necessary component for humanities evolution

Osvald Siren, Theosophy and Chinese Art Chuang Chienhui – Theosophy brought about multifaceted cultural exchanges between East and West at the turn of the 19th century however, surprisingly, the impact of Siren’s esoteric view of Chinese art has been largely overlooked

The Theosophical Society & Universal Brotherhood Tim Rudboeg – What is the origin of the important and characteristic idea of the Society’s first Object (universal brotherhood)? Why did it become significant to the Theosophical Society? And how did the society implement the concept?

Towards a Morphology of the Modern Theosophical Movement Kevin Tingay – From its foundation in 1875 the parent Theosophical Society provoked a range of reactions and opinions about its nature. This has continued into recent times. Was it an educational initiative? A religious organisation? An offshoot of Spiritualism? A cabal of occultists? A vector for Indian nationalism? An agency for progressive causes and social action?

Sincere Jews: The Jewish Theosophical community in Basra, Iraq  Boaz Huss – In the late 1920s, a Theosophical lodge was founded in Basra, Iraq. But in 1931 members were excommunicated by a local Rabbi when they refused to leave the TS. They then created their own community called ‘Sincere Jews’.

Sunday 21 September

Who was Agardi Metrovitch? Erica Georgiades (in absentia) – This presentation hopefully brings to a successful conclusion the mystery surrounding the identity of a famous opera singer of the 19th century who when engaged in revolutionary activities used a nom de guerre.

Blavatsky & Neo-Gnosis in Modern Eastern Orthodox Contexts Yuri Stoyanov – This paper explores little-studied or unexplored convergences of Blavatskyan Theosophy and neo-Gnostic trends in several modern Eastern Orthodox contexts. It examines the interaction of Theosophy with existing Eastern Orthodox mystical and spiritualist currents 100 – 125 years ago and considers attempts at a polymathic synthesis of Blavatskyan Theosophy, “Eastern Wisdom” and modern science. It also reflects on the re-interpretation of Theosophy in the works and activities of Nicholas and Helena Roerich.

Esotericism, Pan-Asianism, and still-sitting: Mirra and Paul Richard in Japan Yoshinaga Shin’ichi – Western esotericism and Theosophy had not left a lasting influence on Japan before W.W.II, but their contacts with Japanese sometimes led to significant results in the field of religion and politics. This paper examines the network of spiritual seekers developed by Mirra and Paul Richard in Japan.

Theosophical Ideas of Collective Karma and their Relationship to Apocalypticism in America Erin Prophet – The notion of national karma or collective karma as articulated by some Theosophical teachers caught the imagination of several New Age authors in the United States during the twentieth century. This talk considers the Theosophy revealed in a number of books exploring the theme of apocalypticism.

Mapping Madame Blavatsky? Towards A Chronological & Bibliographic Approach to the Evolution of Her Thought Barry Thompson – What continuities and discontinuities do H. P. Blavatsky’s teachings present? Other than inaccessible texts held in Adept Fraternities, what were her main accessible sources, and how were they used? How did she respond to currents of thought active in her time, and to parallel developments in kindred occult movements? Using The Collected Writings as our main template, this talk is an attempt to provide a blueprint to enable a better appreciation of her career as a populariser, polemicist and esotericist.

Was the Theosophical Society a Spiritualist movement? Panel discussion of Jeff Lavoie’s controversial 2012 book.

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