In 1997 the International Theosophical History Conference was organised on the12th and 13th of July at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in England.
Saturday 12 July 1997
Nicholas Campion – Creativity + Conflict: The Astrological Lodge
The Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society was founded by Alan Leon in 1915 in London with the intention of promoting the unity of theosophical and astrological principles. The Lodge did indeed become a creative force in astrology, but often at the cost of an uncertain and unstable relationship with the Society.
Tore Ahlback – Theosophy and Socialism
In the autumn of 1902 a Finnish socialist newspaper published a weekly supplement – the Workers’ Evening Entertainment – of which a leading Finnish theosophist was one of the editors. This gave him the opportunity to spread the message of Theosophy which, it was claimed, could raise socialism from being a dead philosophy of life to a religion which could replace Christianity. The careers of the two theosophists writing for the newspaper ended a few months later, but from the viewpoint of comparative religion, it is an interesting example of the flexibility exhibited by a new religious movement by adapting its teachings to the philosophy of life of its presumptive followers.
John Hamill – Stainton Moses, Masonry and Theosophy
An eminent spiritualist medium, and one of the first Theosophical Society members in England, Stainton Moses became a mason and hoped to explore deeper questions.
Kim Farnell – Walter Old: The Man Who Held Madame Blavatsky’s Hand
Walter Richard Old was born on 20th March 1864 in Handsworth, near Birmingham. On leaving school he was briefly apprenticed to a chemist. He was attracted towards the mystical, and one of the methods he used was astrology. In 1887 he began corresponding with Madame Blavatsky and this developed into a close relationship. It is he who was with her when she died on 8th May 1891, kneeling at he bedside and holding her hand.
Sunday 13 July 1997
Jean Overton-Fuller – Cyril Scott and a Hidden School
Is the story of the Initiate books fiction? Or a blind? Did Cyril Scott really enter a hidden school? Where was it? Did he ever write a book that was banned? Who did he understand himself to have been in his previous incarnation? The speakers has some surprising answers.
Jox Dixon – Sex is not a Freehold Possession
A surprising number of prominent women in the suffragette movement were theosophists and saw feminism as a logical extension of Theosophy. This paper explores ways these women attempted to translate The Theosophical Society’s commitment to the formation of “a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of humanity” into the campaign for women’s rights in England.
Judy D. Saltzman – The True Service of Humanity
The phrase ‘The True Service of Humanity’ is taken from the Declaration of the United Lodge of Theosophists, written by Robert Crosbie, its principal Founder. Crosbie’s ideas revert to the writing of H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge. This talk discusses the paradox of Crosbie’s implementation of Theosophy, when he intended to reformulate the ‘organization’ of Theosophy on basis of ‘no organization, and bring alive the idea of Universal Brotherhood.
Paul Johnson (in absentia) – Theosophy in the Edgar Cayce Readings
This paper is extracted from the forthcoming book, Edgar Cayce in Context: Historical Perspectives on the Readings (SUNY Press). It describes the theosophical element in Cayce’s interpretation of Christianity, and compared and contrasts his teachings with Blavatskian Theosophy. Parallels between Blavatsky and Cayce on esoteric psychology, lost continents, and the Great White Brotherhood will receive particular emphasis.
Robert Gilbert – The Disappointed Magus: John Thomas and His ‘Celestial Brotherhood’
The Manchester astrologer, John Thomas, created his ‘Celestial Brotherhood’ two years before the founding of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Using rare printed texts and hitherto unknown manuscript sources the speaker tells the story of Thomas and his Brotherhood, and links its progress to that of its more successful rival, the Golden Dawn.
James Santucci – The Point Loma Theosophical Society: 1987
100 years ago in San Diego, California, land was purchased for the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity which was to become the then international headquarters of the Theosophical Society in America, under Katherine Tingley. A review of the events leading up to the purchase will be given (inc. slides of Point Loma).