Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Brisbane society turns 125

The Brisbane lodge of the Theosophical Society is 125 years old in 2006.

The Theosophical Society is a little-known worldwide religious body without a dogma.

The Brisbane lodge was founded in 1881 although the current Charter dates from 1895.

In 1875, the Russian mystic Helena Blavatsky founded the society in New York and eventually moved to India where she set up the world headquarters in Adyar, near Madras (now known as Chennai.)

Local Society member, Ron Sprott, said Brisbane was one of the oldest centres of theosophy in the world.

“Theosophy is a set of ideas which holds that every religion is a human attempt to understand the meaning of God and that means each religion has a portion of the truth,” Mr Sprott said.

According to the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (OCRT), theosophy is a religion containing elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, the Egyptian Hermetic traditions, Neoplatonism, Kabbalism (Jewish mysticism), Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and spiritualism.

Mr Sprott said there are over 700 active members in the Brisbane area but the society had no specific plans to celebrate the anniversary.

“We tend to celebrate the anniversary of the Charter not the lodge but our aim is to conduct meetings and special activities at least once every week,” he said.

The society and its library are based at Besant House, a historic building on Wickham Terrace which has an even longer history than the society.

Mr Sprott said it was built in 1864 and is the oldest surviving example of a Brisbane workers cottage.

“The theosophy society bought the building in 1926 and re-named it for Annie Besant,” he said.

Besant was an English women’s rights activist who took over the presidency of the society in the 1890s after the death of Blavatsky.

The Society library is open to the public six days a week.

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