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DO NOT Archive this section Check out this is a Philosophy subject. Please do not edit the banner to remove these from Philosophy. JEMead (talk) 17:24, 29 December 2011 (UTC) This article has a lot more expansion to come. I set it to Start, not C. JEMead (talk) 21:43, 1 January 2012 (UTC) I expanded items and decided that a C might be ok here now.

Start talk page JEMead (talk) 08:57, 9 May 2012 (UTC)


This entry should focus more on the main use of the term (Theosophy), which most people will associate it with. If we compare with the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the whole article focuses on Theosophy (occult movement originating in the 19th century.) It should also be the case in wikipedia, and looking at the history, it was the case also in wikipedia until one editor changed it. In any case, in todays usage it refers to the occult movement. --Trinity9538 (talk) 01:39, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

The lead does not even mention the occult movement and Blavatsky! The lead should mention what the main uses of the term are. The mainstream use should be explained, as the Encylopedia Britannica also does correctly.--Trinity9538 (talk) 02:14, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
It appears this article has been hijacked by a sectarian and extremely narrow interpretation of Theosophy, which disregards the mainstream use of the term in modern usage. --Trinity9538 (talk) 02:51, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
@Trinity9538: looking at the article, you are right, it has been hijacked. You shifted the definition in the lead section to a particular type of theosophy, although this article is about the general concept. Hgilbert said in his edit summary "move special usage to body". You wrote above that, this article should focus more on the main use of the term (Theosophy), which most people will associate it with. That is a logical fallacy – argumentum ad populum – and, in my opinion, just a way to reinforce a POV. I see in the Helena Blavatsky article, that you removed content about her, including blanking the criticism section about her (which I reverted). In this article, you section blanked root race section which completely eliminated any reference to root race in the article (which is a Victorian era, i.e. Blavatskian, concept); your section blanking of racial theories section; you changed the section title from "Criticisms of Helena Blavatsky and The Theosophical Society" to "Criticism" which implies a shift from a particular group and person to a broad concept. In my opinion, some of your changes are good, but most of your edits have sanitized this article and the Helena Blavatsky article to fit an opinion, which may that it is a "Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour" (which you added in this edit). Some of what you are doing was discussed here in 2012 and here in 2012 (also read through the archives).

Blavatsky is not a player in Academic/Traditional Theosophy. Actually, considered a source of confusion. The society picked the name as more or less of a fluke (according to Olcott). She is easily found elsewhere in New Religious Movements etc. This article/page is about Theosophy, the academic topic. There is a continuous thread we are following and it exists in academic circles, not pop-culture. If you look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (or the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) the absence of HPB is clear. Also Faivre's esotericism is a very important academic topic to review. I actually did not add lots of quotations, since we would end up with several pages of quotes. I think expanding the 4 major sections of theosophical thought from Boehme forward is probably the next best step. I actually just noticed we had two of HPB's books as references..(!!?) Those do not belong on this page. This is not about her religion ("Secret Doctrine" etc.). We mention her, and have a link for her. A polite recognition, but not more.
— User:JEMead

BoBoMisiu (talk) 19:08, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Theosophy is commonly and integrally linked to Blavatsky in reference texts. Most authors say that Blavatsky started Theosophy, and those who mention a prehistory, pre-Blavatsky, do not accord it any great import. The 17th and 18th century notions of theosophy are cast as background information to the much larger theosophy of Blavatsky.
I'm correct in saying that this article was "hijacked" by one or a clique of editors, shifting the meaning from the mainstream version to a "special usage" or sectarian version. Basically, (and I'm again quoting from what someone wrote in the archives), this article should talk about everything that has been called theosophy, primarily covering Blavatsky's version.
A lot of sources have been added in the archived discussion to support this view. I also repeat that the Encylopedia Britannica entry on theosophy is also about the occult movement.
As to my edits in the Blavatsky article. That article is a biography that should discuss biographical details, not primarly theosophy which was developed by other people as well. And some material like the root race stuff should be discussed in the root race article, not here. --Trinity9538 (talk) 23:59, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
I want to read the Encylopedia Britannica article you are discussing, which edition of EB are you discussing? Is it the online version at contributed in part by John Gordon Melton? That is user generated content, for example see click to see some of the edits and notice the radical change from Melton's contribution. I also read "Theosophy" in the 11th edition which states

The term "theosophy" has in recent years obtained a somewhat wide currency in a restricted signification as denominating the beliefs and teachings of the Theosophical Society.

Which is the opposite of what you wrote, The 17th and 18th century notions of theosophy are cast as background information to the much larger theosophy of Blavatsky.
I read through the archived discussions and disagree with you on the meaning of the discussions. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:38, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Agree with BoBoMisiu: The Britannica articles of recent printed editions also clearly adhere to the principle that the traditional Theosophy is the main usage, though they add some information about the Blavatskyian movement. HGilbert (talk) 12:33, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

So does Britannica print edition of 1950. Qexigator (talk) 12:45, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

The latest edition I have is the 15th (1995). It splits the article about 50-50 between the two topics, in a similar way to the current state of this article. I have modified my proposal below accordingly. HGilbert (talk) 13:06, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

The version I looked at is : Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2013.
Apart from the introduction, the article only discusses the TS version, notably in the history section (the "beliefs" section is very general and does not mention any authors or names). This is the introduction:
"occult movement originating in the 19th century with roots that can be traced to ancient Gnosticism and Neoplatonism. The term theosophy, derived from the Greek theos (“god”) and sophia (“wisdom”), is generally understood to mean “divine wisdom.” Forms of this doctrine were held in antiquity by the Manichaeans, an Iranian dualist sect, and in the Middle Ages by two groups of dualist heretics, the Bogomils in Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire and the Cathari in southern France and Italy. In modern times, theosophical views have been held by Rosicrucians and by speculative Freemasons. The international New Age movement of the 1970s and '80s originated among independent theosophical groups in the United Kingdom."--Trinity9538 (talk) 22:31, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Here are some more academic sources that refer to theosophy as Theosophy:

  • Bevir, Mark. "Theosophy as a Political Movement" in Gurus and Their Followers: New Religious Reform Movements in Colonial India. Antony Copley, editor. New Delhi & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Carlson, Maria. "No Religion Higher than Truth": A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia, 1875- 1922. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.
  • Daschke, Dereck and W. Michael Ashcraft. eds. New Religious Movements: A Documentary Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2005. [Part II: Theosophy - 2 entries]
  • Dixon, Joy. "Ancient Wisdom, Modern Motherhood: Theosophy and the Colonial Syncretic" in Gender, Sexuality, and Colonial Modernities. Antoinette Burton, editor. London & New York: Routledge, 1999.
  • Dixon, Joy. Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
  • Faivre, Antoine. Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition: Studies in Western Esotericism. Christine Rhone, trans. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000.
  • Godwin, Joscelyn. The Theosophical Enlightenment. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.
  • Gomes, Michael. Theosophy in the Nineteenth Century: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishers, 1994.
  • Johnson, K. Paul. Initiates of Theosophical Masters. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995.
  • Lewis, James R. ed. Theosophy. New York: Garland Publishers, 1990.
  • Pels, Peter. "Occult Truths: Race, Conjecture, and Theosophy in Victorian Anthropology" in Excluded Ancestors, Inventible Traditions: Essays Towards a More Inclusive History of Anthropology. Richard Handler, editor. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.
  • Sharp, Lynn L. Secular Spirituality: Reincarnation and Spiritism in Nineteenth-Century France. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006.
  • Sutin, Lawrence. All is Change: The Two-Thousand-Year Journey of Buddhism to the West. New York: Little, Brown, & Co., 2006. [Chapter 6: "Rise of Theosophy and the 'Great Game' "] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Trinity9538 (talkcontribs) 23:36, 12 January 2015 (UTC)


I appreciate the wish to include Blavatsky in the lead, but the TS should not take it over. I've tried to compress the relevant information into a single paragraph. I hope I haven't lost any key details; there was considerable repetition in the original formulation. HGilbert (talk) 19:03, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree. There seems to be shuffling of content between articles. The archive shows common discussions and maybe should be distilled into a FAQ section on talk page to help with this. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 19:18, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
I can agree on the current version of the lead. But I must say that I find it very strange that Blavatsky's Theosophy was not mentioned in the lead at all.--Trinity9538 (talk) 00:00, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Divide article?[edit]

I wonder if it might be helpful to divide this article into two, one reviewing the general term theosophy, the other specializing on the Theosophical Society...or possibly linking to the existing article on the TS for the latter purpose. Are the two usages sufficiently distinct to warrant this? Please share your thoughts. HGilbert (talk) 19:10, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree that the Theosophical Society should be mentioned. probably a few paragraphs. Then perhaps a link to the Theosophical Society entry for follow up if interested. The usage is very distinctly made in the academic community. JEMead (talk) 19:17, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
The article was divided in 2012 but moved content leached back. Look through the history and archives for this article and blavatskiy article. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 19:20, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Broadly agreeing with reasons given by BoBoMisiu above (19:08 and 19:18, 11 January), and JEMead, the article is overloaded with information about TS and Blavatsky, which should be distributed to the other more specific articles. Qexigator (talk) 19:24, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
We could as well discuss moving content to articles like Theosophy (history of philosophy), Christian theosophy or Western esotericism.
Most of the material was just copied and pasted to Blavatsky, even though that is supposed to be a biography article, and Theosophy was also developed by others beside herself. I agree though that some details on theosophic philosophy like the root race stuff should be moved to more specific articles. On the other hand, a lot of material in the traditional theosophy section could be moved to more appropriate articles. --Trinity9538 (talk) 00:12, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
If we are agreed that there are two largely distinct topics here, and that we should split the article into two (with cross-links), then we could discuss the titles of each. First: is there agreement that the topics should be separated? HGilbert (talk) 00:37, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
I wonder, looking at Special:Contributions/Trinity9538, whether Trinity9538 is a new user or a WP:SPA. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BoBoMisiu (talkcontribs)
good Point. WP:SPA seems likely. JEMead (talk) 10:25, 12 January 2015 (UTC)


Original: I would like to formally suggest the division proposed above, keeping this article on Western Theosophy. The bulk of the Blavatsky content should probably be merged into the article on her, unless someone wants to start a new article on Theosophy of the Theosophical Society or the like. As per JEMead's comment above, we should retain 1-2 paragraphs summarizing the development of a side branch of theosophy, connected with the traditional Western movement more by common goals or orientation than by common cultural heritage, and linked to pages that give more detail (e.g. Blavatsky, Theosophical Society). HGilbert (talk) 12:40, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree with this approach. JEMead (talk) 11:25, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Revision: In line with the 15th edition of EB, I would be open to including a somewhat more generous overview of Blavatsky's Theosophy here, rather than splitting the article, but still think the section on B's Theosophy should avoid needless duplication with the existing article on her ideas. HGilbert (talk) 13:08, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Comment (oppose?) Unlike EB 15, I see no need for this article to have a second prominent section on TS, when there are other articles which, on Wikipedia, can be easily viewed by any reader chosing to use the links. This article would be improved if the entire sections on Blavatsky and TS, from "Blavatskyan Theosophy and the Theosophical Society" to "Influence" were removed to other specific articles, leaving no more than a few brief summary sentences with appropriate links. EB made no attempt to confuse "theosophy" in general with TS, Blavatsky's writings and the latter day history thereof, but the presentation in this article is, in that respect, erroneous and misleading. Qexigator (talk) 14:12, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Comment. You could as well discuss moving the "traditional theosophy" material to other articles like Esotericism, Gnosticism or Theosophy (history of philosophy), rather than the other way around. Theosophy is in todays' world commonly understood to refer to the Western occult movement started by Blavatsky, this is a fact.
But I also agree that the article should include some material on the history and etymology of the term, and how it was applied pre-19th century. Böhme, for instance, should be mentioned in the article. --Trinity9538 (talk) 23:30, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Comment. We must not forget that theosophy has a 1800+ year history where HPB is somewhat of a Blip. Also, what about the first theosophical society in 1775? (Swedenborg centered). The current of theosophy (traditional) is very much alive. Having a couple paragraphs on the TS makes sense, especially considering the amount of material existing on HPB and the TS. Linking to those seems very appropriate. JEMead (talk) 11:24, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
moving the "traditional theosophy" material to other articles-- False reasoning: compare the article for swastika, as part of the Hinduism series, not to be ousted by its 20c. propagandist appropriation for the use of a murderous totalitarian regime which went to war after gaining power in one of the European states. Qexigator (talk) 00:39, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree. This article is about theosophy in general. I have read that a technique cults use to indoctrinate victims is through redefining some language so it has different meaning for the indoctrinated. I feel using phrases like "the 'traditional theosophy' material" does just that. The Victorian era syncretism, that some authors have called "Blavatskyan theosophy" (for example, Pasi p. 199), is not the whole of theosophy. Maybe a separate article "Blavatskyan theosophy" is the better way than moving that content back into the Helena Blavatsky. From what I have read, while untangling the article about her, factionalism divided her adherents after she died. A faction focused on her adventist writings and even claimed the vehicle for Maitreya was Jiddu Krishnamurti – until Krishnamurti resigned from his adventist role in 1929. The ""Theosophy"" article in the 1911 Encylopedia Britannica says it best:

If theosophy were to be judged solely by the published revelations of this "Secret Doctrine" it would hardly be deserving of serious consideration; for, as suggested in the separate article on Madame Blavatsky, the revelations themselves appear to have been no more than a crude compilation of vague, contradictory and garbled extracts from various periodicals, books and translations. It was an article of faith with her disciples that the outward and visible Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was on certain occasions the vehicle of psychic powers of transcendent spiritual import. Although there is not much to justify such a proposition, it may perhaps be conceded that she was in many respects abnormal and that some of her work is characteristic of a process known to modern psychologists as "automatism," or in other words that it is the result of a spasmodic uprush to the surface of sub-conscious mental activities. Apart, however, from these pseudo-revelations the Theosophical Society has given rise to an extensive literature, some of which displays a high degree of argumentative and expository ability; and moreover the movement has from time to time attracted the attention and secured the co-operation of many earnest seekers, of some few of whom it can be truly said that they possessed undoubted spiritual power, insight and knowledge. (p. 789)

So, I think content about her should not dominate this article. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 22:45, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree with most of previous comment (BoBoMisiu 22:45). But there are enough existing articles about "Blavatskyan theosophy", and another is not needed. The main section of the EB 11 article "Theosophy", on pp. 788-9, which mentioned, among others, Eckhart, Boehme and Schelling, was contributed by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, Prof. of Logic and Metaphysics at Edinburgh. The subsidiary section, on pp.789-791, headed "Oriental Theosophy", was contributed by St George Lane Fox-Pitt, of King's College, London. He concluded the section: "... the serious student would be well advised to... avoid the confusion and errors of writers who in most cases have but a superficial if any knowledge of the original languages and systems from which their doctrines have been arbitrarily culled". --Qexigator (talk) 23:26, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
The Blavatsky article in Wikipedia has a serious problems. Part of the article was, I believe, a copyright violation:

I believe that unattributed content with unreferenced citation numbers was added in this 2011 edit by Deodarvostok; and, I see that those unreferenced citation numbers were removed in this 2011 edit.
— User:BoBoMisiu 02:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

It also has problems with translated content, some of which originally started as English language content from English language sources but translated into Russian and then back into English. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 03:49, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

So the consensus is to add links to the Theosophical Society and HPB with a few paragraphs about them in the article? JEMead (talk) 14:03, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

In my opinion, yes, and link to neo-Theosophy; and, include a paragraph describing that there are new religious movements that have assimilated theosophical terminology. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 14:57, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree (Hgilbert 18:06, 14 January )
A few sentences should suffice amounting to not more than a shortish paragraph. Qexigator (talk) 19:23, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Comment. I have discussed the Encyclopedia Britannica 2013 "Theosophy" article. This version has a very heavy focus on modern theosophy. I have skimmed the archives, and other editors have mentionned there other encyclopedias and sources where modern Theosophy is very prominent. I need time to read the talkpage archives fully, and won't have time before the week-end for wikipedia.
Meanwhile, wikipedia also has disambiguation pages. What is your opinion on the possibility to make a disambiguation page of Theosophy which links to all variants? --Trinity9538 (talk) 19:49, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
I have also considered a disambiguation page, but this seems unnecessarily clumsy when there are only two usages, and they are closely connected. It seems to me that we could keep the current lead largely intact, and just trim the Blavatskyian Theosophy section down to a better proportion with older theosophists. We don't need huge sections on Bohme, etc., because they have dedicated articles; short summaries are fine. Similarly, we could have a paragraph or two on Blavatskyian Theosophy (is there a better name for this?), with rich links to appropriate pages. That leads to the central question for me: what should the chief article on this form of Theosophy be? Should it be Blavatsky's page? Or the TS's page? Or should there be a separate page on Theosophy (Blavatsky) or the like? Whatever it is, this could go into considerable detail--far more than the current page would ever allow. HGilbert (talk) 23:43, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
The standard breakdown is usually Theosophy and then the Theosophical Society. HPB (her theosophy not Bio) appears within the TS. It makes a lot of sense to use links to point the reader to detailed info on the TS and their associated people. The material in question here is often taken from the Secret Doctrine, Root Races etc. An article on the book, the Secret Doctrine, may suffice. JEMead (talk) 10:11, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Given that Henry Steel Olcott was co-founder and first president of TS, participated in the move to Adyar, survived Blavatsky and remained president in the Besant years until his demise in 1907, why not make Olcott's the lead article of the set of articles on and connected with TS, with links to Blavatsky, Besant and the other personalities involved in the formation and continuing of the TS, and retaining Secret Doctrine and similar articles? Blavatsky was certainly a remarkable and notably influential woman in her own right, but her writings, also notably influential in their way, were not to TS quite either what M.B.Eddy's were to Christian Science or Gurdjieff's to the Fourth Way. Qexigator (talk) 00:25, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Olcott was important for the Society, but much less so for the ideas, which came from Blavatsky. HGilbert (talk) 02:04, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Hmmm....JEMead's suggestion that the structure would normally be Theosophy as a movement (the largest theme), then the society and the various personages associated with it, resonates with me. If we were to go this way, any suggestions for a title for the Theosophy article? HGilbert (talk) 17:11, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
I think the Main article is titled Theosophy, then at the end a brief paragraph about the TS/HPB NRMs and other orgs (split-offs from TS) with links to HPB, Theosophical Society etc. We could add TS/HPB criticisms if not in the linked pages? Maybe you meant Theosophical Organizations/NRMs as a new page? JEMead (talk) 17:43, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
the Main article is titled Theosophy: clarify please, does that mean the present article, from which TS, Blavatsky etc is to be removed, except for sufficient to cover links? Qexigator (talk) 19:29, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Theosophy as a movement? Commenters here will be aware that it appears from "THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT 1875 -1950" (THE CUNNINGHAM PRESS, Los ANGELES , COPYRIGHT, 1951) p.29, that Olcott was the founding member who brought the other two, Judge and Blavatsky, together as his co-founders. "During the early months of 1875, Olcott and Judge were made to realize that Madame Blavatsky was no ordinary 'Spiritualist'—if, indeed, she was a Spiritualist at all."[1]; and aware of the article on the magazine The Theosophical Movement "started by the United Lodge of Theosophists India on November 17, 1930", and that the ULT was founded in 1909 by Robert Crosbie who "wanted to focus exclusively on the literature left behind by H.P. Blavatsky and William Quan Judge". Qexigator (talk) 22:08, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I think we are in agreement that the last section should be trimmed. Who would like to do this, and move it to the appropriate place (either TS or Blavatsky)? HGilbert (talk) 02:04, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Are we agreed what is comprised in "the last section"? If that means "of the present version", the last section would be "8 Influence". But if it means the second part comprising the Blavatsky and TS information, that would be sections 4 to 8:
  • 4 Blavatskyan Theosophy and the Theosophical Society 4.1 Overview of Blavatsky's teachings 4.2 Definition and origin 4.2.1 Scope 4.2.2 Methodology Law of correspondences 4.2.3 Applications 4.2.4 Terminology 4.3 Basic tenets 4.3.1 Three fundamental propositions 4.3.2 Esotericism and symbolism 4.3.3 Septenary systems Seven cosmic planes Seven principles and bodies 4.4 Criticism 4.4.1 Helena Blavatsky's skeptics 4.4.2 Blavatsky's Theosophy connected to antisemitism, racism
  • 5 The World Teacher Project
  • 6 Post-Blavatskyan Theosophy and New Religious Movements
  • 7 Major works
  • 8 Influence.
It would be helpful if we could agree to which other articles any of that should be redistributed/merged, and then proceed by stages. As above said, my own leaning is to bring out the leading role of Olcott, but that may go further than is presently acceptable. Qexigator (talk) 06:31, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

It seems to me that a good part in the traditional theosophy part of the article and the template is original research. It mixes Gnostics, Christian priests, Kabblists, Christian fundamentalists (Ambrose?), freemasons, and so into a Traditional theosophy section, without really explaining why they are theosophists. In many cases, it seems to be just because some 20th century writer compared them offhandedly with theosophical thought or offhandedly called them theosophists. The Theosophy template included thelemic organisations as "theosophic". I can understand that someone like Böhme is explained in the Traditional theosophy section, but many of the other writers may be better discussed in articles like Kabbalah, Gnosticism, Catholicism, Esotericism and Western occultism.

Is it possible to define what and who exactly is discussed in the traditional Theosophy section? To be discussed in "Traditional Theosophy", there should be some criteria. They should self-identify as theosphists or be commonly (and not just offhandedly in some publication) be called theosophists. --Trinity9538 (talk) 23:18, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Examples, please. Qexigator (talk) 10:58, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
The problems with the Traditional Theosophy section are many.
  • There is an overreliance on Faivre who is quoted over 15 times. (He is a great source...for Esotericism. Applying it to Theosophy would be OR; the two are clearly not identical, though there are certainly commonalities. )
  • Much of the material actually belongs to the Western Esotericsm, Christian mysticism, Kabbalah, or related articles. (All forms of gnosis and western esotericism are not theosophy. The focus of this article must be theosophy because of the name of the article. )
  • For example, why is this sentence in the article: Hellenistic Alexandrian culture expressed religion through a syncretism that included influences from Egypt, Chaldea, Greece etc. It became a "philosophizing and systematizing" culture containing mythology, theosophy and gnosis of the East.
  • Theosophy was not a word commonly used in Judaism prior to modern times, yet we have a full paragraph on it.
  • The template listed Thelemic organisations as Theosophy, and includes Christian fundamentalists (Ambrose), and topics like Tarot and Astrology which belong to Esotericsm rather than Traditional theosophy.--Trinity9538 (talk) 23:14, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
@Trinity9538: you are confusing the concepts of theosophy with the brand marketing of word theosophy itself. You are, again conforming the content to a particular type of theosophy. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:02, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree with BoBoMisiu's above comment (0:02, 17 January). Qexigator (talk) 13:21, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
No. Faivre himself says that in his 2000 book that large parts of the book are studies on esotericism (the subtitle of the book is Studies in Western Esotericism). He only acknowleges that the term "Theosophy" is practically absent throughout the entire eighteenth century in dictionaries and encyclopedias, and that It only appeared more and more frequently beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century. And he wrote: [Classical theosophy] is an under-researched area, a general history of it has never been written.
Large parts of the section are original research, because it just talks about religious or mystical writers who never called themselves Theosophists. That sort of material should be in articles like Esotericism. And with the exception of the Boehme article, none of the other articles mention anything about theosophy in their articles.
What the section should do is explain the who history and meanings of the term instead of drawing up a list of all people to whom the word was applied retroactively. --Trinity9538 (talk) 00:54, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
I also propose to move the six characteristics of esotericism to the esotericism or to the Faivre article, since this article is about Theosophy (we can keep the three characteristics of theosophy, wich in Faivre's 2000 book are listed without those six of esotericism). --Trinity9538 (talk) 12:46, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Does anybody object to this? --Trinity9538 (talk) 20:02, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
It sidesteps the fact that Blavatsky's theosophy was called esoteric buddhism by Sinnett and others. Esotericism is explicitly part of it and also changed after the Blavatsky died. So ossifying, in the article, to Blavatsky's works removes all of the 20th century. That seems very odd to me. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 23:33, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Bold, but feel free to change or revert this edit[edit]

I have archived most of the material under discussion to User:Hgilbert/Theosophical Society. Feel very free to add, subtract, and alter the result here, and to work with the archived material as you see fit. Or to revert if this was too bold a change. HGilbert (talk) 07:32, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Looks like an improvement. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 07:36, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Seconded. Qexigator (talk) 08:18, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
definitely an improvement JEMead (talk) 15:42, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
This was not helpful and such drastic changes such as this with less than four days discussion are usually considered vandalism. I'm reverting back, but will work on the article in the next days. There is indeed some material that can be easily moved to other articles (but it shouldn't be just moved to HPB, as Theosophy was developed by other persons as well). --Trinity9538 (talk) 21:59, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Far from vandalism, it was, as agreed by others, a constructive step towards rectifying this article by way of removing unsuitable content (for reasons given above) and letting that be redistributed to other articles more suited to it. It would be easier to let that proceed from User:Hgilbert/Theosophical Society. Please leave the version as at 18:09, 16 January 2015[2], and let us know where you are proposing to redistribute the text now at User:Hgilbert/Theosophical Society. This will help to avoid confusion. It is not helpful simply to reimport it. Qexigator (talk) 23:26, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
It was a drastic removal of content outside of article space for which a longer discussion than just 3-4 days is needed. I have begun moving some of the material to other articles and will continue to work on this article. --Trinity9538 (talk) 23:37, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
It is unfortunate that Trinity9538 disregards others. This shuffling seems like a WP:POVSPLIT. I think using draft pages, like User:Hgilbert/Theosophical Society and Talk:Theosophy/16-January-2015-draft-further-reading-section, would have been better. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:18, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
I have now moved some material to more appropriate articles and the modern Theosophy part is now down to a reasonable size (will continue on working on it). As I explained on this talkpage, there needs to be a page on Theosophy, like there is also a page for Anthroposophy. You cannot just move the material in Anthroposoophy to Rudolf Steiner or to the A. Society. --Trinity9538 (talk) 00:58, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
There is an important difference; anthroposophy is unambiguous, so the article is only about that. Theosophy is about two diverse themes, and neither should overwhelm the other. For exactly the reasons you raise, I think a separate article on Theosophy in the Blavatskyian sense would be helpful. This could then be quite extensive. Do you perhaps agree? (If so, what should this be titled?) HGilbert (talk) 17:30, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Since Theosophy is commonly and integrally linked to Blavatsky in reference texts (the 18th century notions of theosophy, if mentioned, are cast as background information to the much larger theosophy of Blavatsky), it follows that it is clearly the much more common usage of the term, so it would be more appropriate to use this article as the main article for the more common usage term, with links to the theosophical current.
As User:Binksternet said: "This article, with its global title, must be about all of Theosophy—the gamut, including your "plethora of types of Theosophy". All the significant belief systems that have been called "Theosophy" must be represented. This article with its global title cannot only be about one type of (perhaps) idealized Theosophy, to the exclusion of other forms of Theosophy." And: "The above list of tertiary sources shows that the Blavatsky version is the most important, everything else relegated to also ran status. Basically, this article should talk about everything that has been called theosophy, primarily covering Blavatsky's version."
I see two ways forward which should be acceptable to both views. We split it in roughly 50:50 (additional material can be moved to specialized articles), or we make a disambiguation, which is done when a single term is ambiguous, which seems to be the case here. Do you agree on one of these two? --Trinity9538 (talk) 18:32, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
I continue to believe that this article must be about the main belief systems that have been called Theosophy. All of them, not just one of them. The global title forces the issue. Binksternet (talk) 21:33, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree. Almost all references indicate that Blavatsky's version is the most common usage, so it makes no sense to remove or drastically reduce that section. Currently, the split is approx. 50:50, which is generous to the Traditional Theosophy side (given that this form of theosophical esotericism is not in as common usage). --Trinity9538 (talk) 01:22, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I agree completely and think that the current situation is pretty good. HGilbert (talk) 12:30, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

The article is now getting into better shape. Qexigator (talk) 19:47, 24 January 2015 (UTC)


I have summarized sources for Theosophy here Talk:Theosophy/Sources. They show that it is an indisputable fact that Modern Theosophy is the most common use of the term. Theosophy is clearly important enough to have an article on its own (instead of in the HPB or TS pages), and the benchmark should be articles for other important New Religious Movments like Anthroposophy and Thelema (both influenced by Theosoohy). The latter article for example explains the usage of the term "Theleme" in the Bible and in Rabelais, but then concentrates on the modern and common usage. It should be the same with Theosophy. --Trinity9538 (talk) 00:43, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

As another user stated on the talkpage: "All over this talk page JEMead argues that there is a Western theosophy (which he favors) and an Eastern theosophy (Blavatsky's version). The whole reason we are here debating the topic is because the goaltenders of this article have been fending off the Blavatsky version as much as possible. My above list of tertiary sources shows that the Blavatsky version is the most important, everything else relegated to also ran status. Basically, this article should talk about everything that has been called theosophy, primarily covering Blavatsky's version. Binksternet (talk) 15:09, 4 May 2012 (UTC)"
More false reasoning: as if the article for swastika, a part of the Hinduism series, is to be ousted by its 20c. propagandist appropriation for the use of a murderous totalitarian regime which went to war after gaining power in one of the European states. Qexigator (talk) 00:59, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Is that all that you can reply on the common usage of the term, Godwins Law? This article should be compared to articles for other NRMs like Anthroposophy. --Trinity9538 (talk) 01:11, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
One who responds with a slogan such as "Godwins Law" has evidently failed to grasp the error which the comment exemplified. But, just as Theosophy does not supersede and oust theosophy, nor does Anthroposophy supersede or oust anthroposophy, nor Christian Science christian science. Qexigator (talk) 01:42, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
As is clearly documented in Sources, modern Theosophy is the most common usage of the term. This is a fact (and we should report on facts), just as Thelema (related to Theosophy) today has a different meaning than it did in the 16th century. At best, you can say, as Faivre does, that there are two major forms or families in Theosophy: theosophy and Theosophy, which would imply roughly a 50:50 split. But the fact is, that the evidence shows that Blavatsky's version is the most important, and that the term theosophy was not very common before (was "practically absent" in dictionaries and encyclopedias in the 18th century). --Trinity9538 (talk) 13:30, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
In contrast, sources for Traditional theosophy are scant: Faivre acknowleges that the term "Theosophy" is practically absent throughout the entire eighteenth century in dictionaries and encyclopedias, and that It only appeared more and more frequently beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century. And he wrote: [Classical theosophy] is an under-researched area, a general history of it has never been written. --Trinity9538 (talk) 01:14, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Even JMead amitted that modern theosophy is more common:

Weighting is tough. Common perception always over weights on the HPB side (successful marketing phenomena). ....JEMead (talk) 20:16, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Blavatsky's belief system must remain prominent in this article, not relegated to a content fork ghetto. Binksternet (talk) 21:39, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Arguing that it is more common is false reasoning – for example, cars are more common in the 21st century than in the 19th century, yet facts about 19th century cars should not be excluded from a general article about cars (although they are "practically absent" in the 21st century). —BoBoMisiu (talk) 23:24, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Esotericism and symbolism[edit]

Is there a reason to include the Theosophy#Esotericism_and_symbolism section here? It seems like it belongs more in a dedicated article to this form of Theosophy, which is a possibility that keeps being mentioned. HGilbert (talk) 17:23, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Most of it is now moved to Theosophic mysticism. But I think it may be useful to explain the symbols of the T. seal. this could also be done in the legend of the image of the seal. --Trinity9538 (talk) 20:45, 17 January 2015 (UTC)