Theosophical Society Founded
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Henry S. Olcott, Helena P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge
Time Period
The Theosophical Society is an American-born religious movement credited with popularizing interest in Hinduism, Buddhism and other Asian religions.

The movement is a blending of Eastern tenets with Western occultism and Spiritualism, along with an ancient mysticism known as Theosophy ("divine wisdom"). The society was started in 1875 in New York by Helena P. Blavatsky (1831-91), a well-known Russian-born medium, and Henry S. Olcott (1832-1907) and William Q. Judge (1851-96), who were likewise fascinated with occultism.

Theosophy embraces the oneness of everything, and promotes the study of world religions, philosophy, science and the arts to help people attain their own spiritual self-transformation. Thomas Edison was one of the society’s early members.

While the Theosophical Society has spread to some 70 countries, membership remains relatively small. A count conducted in 2008 found about 29,000 adherents.
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Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
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Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian) in American History
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Spiritualist Family: Other ARDA Links


Theosophical Society seal- Hathi Trust- from The Theosophist, vol 30 (1908)

Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott- Hathi Trust- from Revue Theosophique

William Q Judge portrait- Wikimedia Commons

Theosophical Society, Adyar, India- Wikimedia Commons

Helena Blavatsky portrait- Internet Archive- from H. P. Blavatsky, an Outline of her Life by Herbert Whyte
Book/Journal Source(s)
Tweed, Thomas A. and Stephen Prothero (Eds.), 1999. Asian Religions in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Smith, Jonathan Z., and William Scott Green (Eds.), 1995. The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Web Source(s)
The Theosophical Society in America
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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