Description : "To investigate the unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in humanity" is one object of the Theosophical Society. Annie Besant (1847–1933), outspoken feminist, political activist, and early president of the TS, thought that psychic and spiritual development should be available to everyone, not just a chosen few. In her many books and articles providing guidelines, her goal was not to help students develop supernormal powers, but to help them increase consciousness in order to receive instruction from the ascended Masters. Besant believed this work had positively changed her life and wanted others to enjoy the same benefit. Although penned a century ago, Besant’s wisdom on the subject is still germane. Her prose is clear and inspiring, and Kurt Leland’s introduction and notes are well-informed. He helpfully divides Besant’s writings into four parts — Occultism Light and Dark, Higher Life Training, the Investigation of Different Worlds, and the Science of the Superphysical.
Description : In May 1904, the residents of Halcyon—a small utopian community on California’s central coast—invited their neighbors to attend the grand opening of the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium. As part of the entertainment, guests were encouraged to have their hands X-rayed. For the founders and members of Halcyon, the X-ray was a demonstration of mysterious spiritual forces made practical to human beings. Radiance from Halcyon is the story not only of the community but also of its uniquely inventive members’ contributions to religion and science. The new synthesis of religion and science attempted by Theosophy laid the foundation for advances produced by the children of the founding members, including microwave technology and atomic spectral analysis. Paul Eli Ivey’s narrative starts in the 1890s in Syracuse, New York, with the rising of the Temple of the People, a splinter group of the theosophical movement. After developing its ideals for an agricultural and artisanal community, the Temple purchased land in California and in 1903 began to live its dream there. In addition to an intriguing account of how a little-known utopian religious community profoundly influenced modern science, Ivey offers a wide-ranging cultural history, encompassing Theosophy, novel healing modalities, esoteric architecture, Native American concepts of community, socialist utopias, and innovative modern music.
Description : In 1891, newspapers all over the world carried reports of the death of H. P. Blavatsky, the mysterious Russian woman who was the spiritual founder of the Theosophical Society. With the help of the equally mysterious Mahatmas who were her teachers, Blavatsky claimed to have brought the "ancient wisdom of the East" to the rescue of a materialistic West. In England, Blavatsky's earliest followers were mostly men, but a generation later the Theosophical Society was dominated by women, and theosophy had become a crucial part of feminist political culture. Divine Feminine is the first full-length study of the relationship between alternative or esoteric spirituality and the feminist movement in England. Historian Joy Dixon examines the Theosophical Society's claims that women and the East were the repositories of spiritual forces which English men had forfeited in their scramble for material and imperial power. Theosophists produced arguments that became key tools in many feminist campaigns. Many women of the Theosophical Society became suffragists to promote the spiritualizing of politics, attempting to create a political role for women as a way to "sacralize the public sphere." Dixon also shows that theosophy provides much of the framework and the vocabulary for today's New Age movement. Many of the assumptions about class, race, and gender which marked the emergence of esoteric religions at the end of the nineteenth century continue to shape alternative spiritualities today.
Description : Histories of Egyptology are increasingly of interest: to Egyptologists, archaeologists, historians, and others. Yet, particularly as Egypt undergoes a contested process of political redefinition, how do we write these histories, and what (or who) are they for? This volume addresses a variety of important themes, the historical involvement of Egyptology with the political sphere, the manner in which the discipline stakes out its professional territory, the ways in which practitioners represent Egyptological knowledge, and the relationship of this knowledge to the public sphere. Histories of Egyptology provides the basis to understand how Egyptologists constructed their discipline. Yet the volume also demonstrates how they construct ancient Egypt, and how that construction interacts with much wider concerns: of society, and of the making of the modern world.