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Theosophy refers to a body of belief which holds that all religions are attempts by man to ascertain "the Divine," and as such each religion has a portion of the truth. Theosophy, as a coherent belief system, developed from the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Together with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others she founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.

A stricter definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary describes Theosophy as "any of various philosophies professing to achieve a knowledge of God by spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual relations, esp. a modern movement following Hindu and Buddhist teachings and seeking universal brotherhood."

Adherents of Theosophy maintain that it is a "Body of Truth" that forms the basis of all religions.

Table of contents

Basic Theosophical Beliefs

That Consciousness is Universal and Individual

According to Theosophy, nature does not operate by chance. Every event, past or present, happens because of laws which are part of a Universal Paradigm. Theosophists hold that everything, conscious or not, is "impregnated" with Consciousness. This paradigm has been called variously: God, Law, Heaven, the Great Architect, Evolution, and Logos. The term used in this article is "paradigm."

The Immortality of Man

Theosophists believe that all human beings are immortal, but unconscious of their connection with "the Divine".


Like the Eastern religions from which much of Theosophic thought springs, it teaches that humans are reincarnated through many lives in a process of ever greater perfection.


Similaries to Eastern thought continue with the concept of Karma. Theosophy teaches that evil acts must be offset by acts of goodness, and that even acts of goodness must later be linked to the plan and purpose of the divine paradigm referred to above.

The Universal Brotherhood

Theosophy teaches that, even though only humans have a soul, all living things are united in one brotherhood.

God's Plan: Evolution

Theosophists believe that religion, philosophy, science, the arts, commerce, industry, and philanthropy, among other "virtues," lead humans ever closer to "the Divine." This, in Theosophy, is a continuation of the Divine purpose through evolution.

A Brief History of Theosophy

Theosophy traces its origins to Plato (427-347 BC), Plotinus (204/5-270) and other neo-Platonists[?], and to Jakob Boehme[?] (1575-1624). Some relevant quotes:

"...we are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster in his shell." The Socrates of Plato, Phaedrus

To the philosopher, the body is "a disturbing element, hindering the soul from the acquisition of knowledge..."

"...what is purification but...the release of the soul from the chains of the body?" The Socrates of Plato, Phaedo

Modern Theosophical esotericism, however, begins with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) usually known as Madame Blavatsky. One of the founders of the Theosophical Society (in 1875 in New York City), together with Henry Steel Olcott, who was a lawyer and writer, and William Quan Judge. Madame Blavatsky was a world traveller who eventually settled in India where, again with Olcott, she established the headquarters of the Society. She claimed numerous psychic and mediumistic powers and incorporated these alleged powers into a blend of Eastern religions. These became the basic pillars of the Theosophy movement.

See also: Christian theosophy, Gnosticism, Anthroposophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, Syncreticism, Occultism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Cabala, Liberal Catholic Church

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