What is Theosophy?

What is Theosophy?

According to the Webster dictionary;

1: teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight

2: the teachings of a modern movement originating in the U.S. in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation.


Did You Know?

The word theosophy, combining roots meaning “God” and “wisdom”, appeared back in the 17th century, but the well-known religious movement by that name, under the leadership of the Russian Helena Blavatsky, appeared only around 1875. Blavatsky’s theosophy combined elements of Plato’s philosophy with Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu thought (including reincarnation), in a way that she claimed had been divinely revealed to her. The Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 to promote her beliefs, still exists, as does the Anthroposophical Society, founded by her follower Rudolf Steiner.


Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a Russian occultist, philosopher, and author who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. She gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy, the esoteric religion that the society promoted.

Born into an aristocratic Russian-German family in Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, Blavatsky traveled widely around the Russian Empire as a child. Largely self-educated, she developed an interest in Western esotericism during her teenage years. According to her later claims, in 1849 she embarked on a series of world travels, visiting Europe, the Americas, and India, claiming that during this period she encountered a group of spiritual adepts, the “Masters of the Ancient Wisdom“, who sent her to Shigatse, Tibet, where they trained her to develop a deeper understanding of the synthesis of religion, philosophy and science.  These Masters are believed to have cultivated great wisdom and supernatural powers, and Theosophists believe that it was they who initiated the modern Theosophical movement through disseminating their teachings via Blavatsky.  By the early 1870s, Blavatsky was involved in the Spiritualist movement; although defending the genuine existence of Spiritualist phenomena, she argued against the mainstream Spiritualist idea that the entities contacted were the spirits of the dead. Relocating to the United States in 1873, she befriended Henry Steel Olcott and rose to public attention as a spirit medium, attention that included public accusations of fraudulence. Blavatsky published The Secret Doctrine, a commentary on what she claimed were ancient Tibetan manuscripts, as well as two further books, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence.




The Seven Principles of Man

Helena Blavatsky explains the seven principles of man is the human stream of consciousness.  The following table, which has been used for many years by theosophical writers:  the upper three divisions represent the more spiritual and enduring principles, the lower four only lasting a short time.  These principles are grouped in three interlocking divisions:  Upper, Intermediate, and lower or mortal.


  • Spirit – or Atman (Spirit, the inner god, the divine monad).
  • Spiritual Soul – or Buddhi (Ray, proceeding from atman).
  • Human Soul – or Manas (Human soul, in its higher aspect).


  • Human Soul – Manas (Human soul, in its higher and lower aspects).
  • Animal Soul – or Kama (Principle of desire).


  • Vitality – or Prana
  • Astral or Model Body – or Linga-sarira (Astral or design body).
  • Physical Body – or Sthula-sarira


In Blavatsky’s book, “The Secret Doctrine” says:  For the only decree of Karma – an eternal and immutable decree – is absolute Harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of Spirit.  It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or – break them. – 1:643

In, “The Secret Doctrine”, she stated that the spirit was immortal and would repeatedly incarnate into a new, mortal soul and body on Earth.  According to Theosophical teaching, human spirits will always be reborn into human bodies, and not into those of any other life forms.  Blavatsky stated that spirits would not be reborn until some time after bodily death, and never during the lifetime of the deceased’s relatives.


The two great laws postulated by Theosophy for the world’s reform are those of Karma and Reincarnation.  Karma is the law of action which decrees that man must suffer and enjoy solely through his own thoughts and acts.  His thoughts, being the smaller of copy of the universal mind, lie at the root of every act and constitute the force that brings about the particular body he may inhibit.  Knowing well that whatever they do will be punished or rewarded in this or other new lives, the evils of existence would begin to disappear.







By 1911, the Theosophical Society was involved in projects connected to a range of progressive political causes. In England, there were strong links between Theosophy and first-wave feminism. Based on a statistical analysis, Dixon noted that prominent English feminists of the period were several hundred times more likely to join the Theosophical Society than were the average member of the country’s population.  Theosophical contingents took part in feminist marches of the period; for instance, a Theosophical group operating under the banner of Universal Co-Freemasonry marched as part of the Women’s Coronation procession in 1911.




Disseminating Theosophy


The ones who tears down Theosophy it must precede the building up. The spreading of Theosophy believe it is their place to supply the new structure.  For the churches are beginning to find what they must look into subjects which once were kept out of sight.  A sign of this was seen at a recent Council of the Methodist Church in America, where their brightest lights declared that they must accept evolution, or they would go down.


The only church which does not publicly as yet proclaim on these matters is the Roman Catholic. It will not be a surprise of its throwing its mantle over all doctrines publicly and saying that such had always been its doctrine.


Theosophy have been incorporated in New Age Movement, Liberal Catholic Churches, Christian Science, Episcopal Churches, Presbyterian of USA, Lutheran, United Methodist Churches, Unitarian-Universalist, and Unity.



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