HISTORY OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY (PASADENA) IN AUSTRALIA  by Andrew Rooke. 

The Australasian Section of the Theosophical Society is part of the worldwide theosophical movement founded in 1875 in New York City by H. P. Blavatsky, Henry S. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others. Since Blavatsky’s death the Theosophical Society has divided into many separate organizations, including the TS (Adyar) based in India, our TS ( Pasadena), and the United Lodge of Theosophists based in Los Angeles, California.  These major branches of the theosophical movement pursue broadly similar aims, with a different emphasis on aspects and presentations of teaching.  

Our Australasian Section is part of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), currently under the Leadership of Randell C. Grubb, with International Headquarters located near Pasadena, California USA. Our aim is to pursue the original program of the TS, with its objectives being to form an active brotherhood among mankind; to promulgate the essential unity of all that is, and demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to explore the hidden side of nature and mankind. 

The first split in the Theosophical Society took place in 1895, with Colonel H. S. Olcott and Annie Besant on one side, and William Quan Judge on the other. Prominent among the early members who supported Judge at that time was Australian member, T. W. Willans of Sydney, who had joined the TS in 1889. He made an application for the first Charter on 23 August 1895, for the “Lemurian Branch”, and this was later granted by William Q. Judge. Later, on the 30 July 1930, G. de Purucker, as Leader of the Theosophical Society, chartered Sydney Lodges No’s. 1 and 2, and on 18 March 1938, the Melbourne Lodge was chartered. In the early decades of the 20th century, the work of our section was concentrated in Sydney under the leadership of Mr. Willans.           

In 1938 Colonel J. M. Prentice became President, and succeeded in the 1940s by Ray James. From 1951 to 1973 Mrs. Muriel Vickeridge was our National Secretary. In the 1970s Clive Bellgrove served as Liaison Officer between our Section and the International Headquarters, and in 1981 Andrew Rooke became National Secretary and remains in that position currently. The focus of activity has gradually shifted from Sydney to Melbourne, due largely to an active group of members in Melbourne.  

During Grace F. Knoche’s leadership (1971-2006), there was an increased emphasis on public work throughout our Theosophical Society (Pasadena). From August 1976, monthly public meetings were resumed in Melbourne, and in April 1983 the Australasian TS Newsletter, now Theosophy Downunder, commenced publication. From 1984 to 2006 a University of the Third Age course in Asian Philosophy was convened by one of our members in Melbourne and an in-depth study group for theosophical teachings was operated from 1982 to 1984. In 1992 the section was finally able to realize its long-held dream of a permanent home at 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, in Melbourne. The Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre houses the Australasian Section library, hosts regular meetings, and continues as the focus of our activities today.

In March 2006 Randell C. Grubb became leader of the Theosophical Society. In 2007 we re-established the University of the Third Age (U3A) classes in basic theosophy, and we revamped our newsletter and website as Theosophy Downunder (www.theosophydownunder.org). In 2011 the bookshop became totally on-line through our website. In 2012 we established a study group for those interested in studying theosophy in-depth, and in 2015 the University of the Third Age course was totally revised to become a year-long course entitled The Ancient Wisdom, which continues today.

 

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