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Theosophy - an introduction

The term "Theosophy" is used to designate a theoretical-esoteric metaphysic directly or indirectly based on the teachings of the Russian clairvoyant and occultist Madame H. P. Blavatsky.    The Theosophical Society stems from the work and writings of Blavatsky, and was modified, especially as regards metaphysics, by later systematisers, such as Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater.

Unusually for a Western spiritual movement, Theosophy, to begin with, had no Christian connection; although later on this was established  in varying degrees, by Leadbeater and others.  Theosophical teachings and concepts have had a strong influence on certain forms of Spiritualism, Occultism, and Neo-Paganism, and also on many Channelled teachings (probably via the Medium's subconscious mind).   A number of writers make a distinction between the teachings of Blavatsky ("Theosophy") and those theorists who came afterwards ("Neo-Theosophy").

Theosophy is defined as a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy.  In fact there is very little hard science in Theosophy, and where theosophical and scientific findings disagree (e.g. the origin of man), the latter get short shrift.  The Theosophical approach to religion seeks, and claim to present, the esoteric core behind the exoteric religions of the world (the Traditionalists do the same, using different methodology and completely different result, and hence have little love for Theosophy).  But while claiming to be universal, Theosophy, like Bahai'ism, Traditionalism, and other neo-universalist teachings, still ends up doing nothing but blowing it's own trumpet.

There were also a number of "heterodox' schools which, although clearly springing from and in most cases acknowledging Blavatsky's input, are not part of the Theosophical Society and do not consider themselves Theosophists.   These are (to list only a few) Rudolph Steiner's Anthroposophy, Alice Bailey's Arcane School, the "I Am" movement of the 1920s, Summit Lighthouse, Niscience (Ann Ree Colton), and more than a small proportion of contemporary New Age gurus and chanellers.  Almost all theosophic teachers claim to derive their information from occult or psychic sources - e.g. secret letters or documents, clairvoyance, clairaudience, visions, and telepathically received messages from "ascended masters" or other such somewhat unreliable channeled communications.

For all this, Theosophy and it's heterodox off-shoots still represents a valid tradition of 19th and early 20th century gnosis - a vast spiritual and cosmological system and profound esoteric philosophy which describes the nature of the cosmos and man's position in it, in a manner that represents a stricking contrast to scientific materialism on the one hand, and exoteric religion on the other.  Whatever the source of their knowledge, theosophical figures like Blavatsky, Steiner, Alice Bailey, and others  present a fascinating perspective that, while absurd if taken literally and fundamentalistically, nevertheless has great merit as a modern esoteric mythos.

World Wide Web - General Theosophy Links - World Wide Web

web pagedrawings Theosophy - a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy - an overview of various Theosophical teachings

Web Site the Northwest Branch of The Theosophical Society (Pasadena school) "contains a wealth of material on theosophy and on the world's spiritual traditions and science discussed from a theosophical viewpoint; a Collation of Theosophical Glossaries; a list of over 650 quality books for young people; links to theosophical literature and to selected sites of theosophic interest; and the newsletter, " Theosophy Northwest View"

Web Site Theosophy Library Online

Web SiteThe Theosophical Society - (the Pasadena branch)

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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 26 November 1998; last modified 7 August, 2004.