The Theosophical Society in America


Chinese Theosophical Website

Dear friends,

 A brief history of Theosophy in China is published in our July 2012 newsletter and in our website at The theosophical movement was started in China in the early twenties of the last century, by no less a dignitary than Dr. Wu Ting-Fang. Dr. Wu served briefly in 1917 as Acting President of the Republic of China when Dr. Sun Yat-sen was absent. Earlier, he served as Minister of Justice for the Nanjing Provisional Government and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of China. Unfortunately, he passed away on 23 June 1922, the same year he formed the first Chinese Lodge of The Theosophical Society. Despite such illustrious leadership the Theosophical Society in China never took off in a big way. Evidently there were some early translations of theosophical literature. Unfortunately, through the dormant years and the cultural revolution, none of the translations is extant to our knowledge. We did however uncover a particular translation by Dr. Wu himself through untraditional sources.

Read more: Chinese Theosophical Website

The Power of Nature

By Juliana Cesano

treeLate on Sunday morning, July 1, we were surprised by unanticipated heavy clouds. In a matter of minutes, while some of us where at home and others in their respective rooms at the National Center, the sky turned unusually dark. The season has been quite dry so far, so we were all hoping for some rain. What we did not know was that this time rain would not be coming from above but would be seen traveling horizontally accompanied by a 100 mile-per-hour wind. We were bearing witness to the most powerful storm of the last 4 years.

After the storm passed and the sky cleared, the residents came outside to witness the extent of the destruction. It took nature only fifteen minutes to radically change the landscape around us and to leave more than 250,000 people in the area without power. Around 50 trees on TS property were either uprooted or split in half. A couple of 60-foot pines landed on some unfortunate cars, but most of the other trees crashed onto the road or the ground, creating nothing but sadness and a great amount of work for our grounds and maintenance department.

With no power on campus, many of our office staff arriving on Monday spent the morning helping with the cleanup process—hauling branches and clearing the roadways and parking areas. By the end of Tuesday, we had most of the debris immediately around the buildings cleaned into neat brush piles. The electric company worked hard to restore power to the area, but for some of us the wait wasn’t over until Tuesday evening. Our computer network suffered some damage from the power fluctuation as well, but we were able to restore network functionality in time for work on Thursday morning. In many ways, this was a reminder of our great dependence on electricity and how much we take the comforts that come with it for granted.

Nobody was hurt when the storm ripped through, and we are very thankful for that. It was interesting to see that none of the TS structures were touched or even scratched. Observing the pattern of trees downed, it even seems as if we have had some invisible protection guarding the buildings and houses.

Although relatively small in scale, the eminent power of nature was once more revealed, leaving us with a strong sensation of being a small part of a much greater life and power.

To enlarge, click on first picture and then click the "next" arrow.

  • IMG_5884
  • IMG_5885
  • IMG_5890
  • IMG_5892
  • IMG_5894
  • IMG_5895
  • IMG_5897
  • IMG_5899
  • IMG_5900
  • IMG_5902
  • IMG_5908
  • IMG_5913
  • IMG_5922
  • IMG_5938
  • IMG_5939
  • IMG_5940
  • IMG_5942
  • IMG_5943
  • IMG_5945
  • IMG_5946
  • IMG_5948
  • IMG_5960
  • IMG_5963
  • IMG_5965
  • IMG_5969



A Special Invitation to TheosoFEST

By Lauren Rourk


As a teenager diving headfirst into the promised days of summer, I decided that I wanted to make this season's break meaningful. I knew a summer job would never work, and just vegetating at home wouldn't be an option either. So, I decided to go for a volunteering opportunity, which I knew, if anything, would pass the time and look good on the college applications in the fall. I began my search, and, after a while, I found the Theosophical Society in America. All I really knew about it was a place that religions were studied and compared, which sounded interesting. I decided to volunteer, knowing that if I accomplished anything, I'd at least learn a few things here and there. What I didn't know, was how much I would learn, and I how much I would experience.

Sooner than I knew it, my first day for volunteering came up like the morning sun. I really hadn’t thought at all of what the experience was going to be like, so with a mind as open as the sky, I started my first day. From the minute I stepped in the door, I felt like I belonged. Not to a club, not to an organization, but to something truly greater than myself, something that went even beyond the boundaries of the grounds. For I realized I was now in an environment, where people, from all walks of life, loved to live, grow, and experience life for all that it is. I found a place where it is okay to question everything, from “what does anima mundi mean” to “what’s the meaning of life”. New thoughts, beliefs, and ideas were not only accepted, but they were welcomed and embraced with the greatest compassion. I never had thought that I could have found somewhere, much less in the Chicagoland area, that would not only stimulate the mind, but also lift the soul in such a way. The vibe that I felt, was just incredible, and that feeling is so hard to find anywhere else. There were things I knew before, but after finding the Theosophical Society, I began to live them out. Just having the ability to talk on a deeper level, to think at a deeper level, and even to act in a deeper level, has certainly redefined who I am.

That moment was four weeks ago. I’ve continued to volunteer at the Theosophical Center because it goes beyond what I’ve known, and what I have experienced. I’m truly grateful that I have an entire summer to be apart of this wonderful center of consciousness. The Theosophical Society has expanded my awareness, and it has made me rethink what my world is, and what my role in that world is. I know, when it becomes fall, it’s going to be quite a challenge going back to the grindstone of school. But I know that I will be able to take the feeling with me, and that same reverence, honesty, and admiration. I will bring this experience with me, and all I can wish for is to share it. Everyone should have at least a chance to experience their higher self, and there are many opportunities right around the corner here at the Theosophical Society.

On September 8th, the Theosophical Society will open its doors and hold TheosoFEST, where you can discover for yourself a world of higher truths and higher joy. You can celebrate life, and celebrate your own soul through meeting others who are just as interested as exploring life and its wonder. From 10am to 5pm, expand your thoughts and your perspective with lectures on spirituality and the soul, vendors to engage the body and the mind, and an environment to remember just how grand you truly are.


New E-book About the Olcott Campus

By Janet Kerschner


Our campus is featured in a new e-book called "Olcott in Wheaton" that has been published by Jan Kind and his crew at Theosophy Forward. For those of you who have not read Theosophy Forward, it is an online quarterly periodical founded by Jan Kind, John Algeo, and others on several continents - a truly 21st-century kind of publication. In addition to the periodical, the TF staff produces "Special Editions" which are e-books.
The link to Theosophy Forward is Click on the "Olcott in Wheaton" option to go the the Special Editions page, where you can choose to view the booklet with free DNL Reader page-turning software, or to download a PDF. The DNL Reader works very well (except on Apple computers) and allows you to "View additional photos" and "Go back to text". All the photos are also available in the PDF version, but they are clustered at the end of the text. It is well worth the moments it takes to install DNL Reader, to facilitate reading this and TF's other publications.
The photos are from our archival collection, the introduction was written by Tim Boyd, and I wrote the text.  I hope that it serves as a good introduction to Olcott. Our campus is very photogenic, so enjoy the illustrations!



Radha Burnier Visits The Olcott Campus

By Richard Smoley

Visiting the Theosophical Society’s American headquarters, Radha Burnier, president of the international TS in Adyar, India, addressed the staff and volunteers at the Olcott campus in Wheaton on May 23. Although she had last been to the campus three years ago, she told the audience, “I have been acquainted with this place probably longer than any of you,” her first visit having been during the administration of former TSA president Dora Kunz in the 1980s.

Reminding the staff of the Society’s long heritage, Burnier went on to recount some of the TS’s history, going back to its first founding in the U.S. in 1875. For that reason, she observed, “in Adyar there is a big board, giving the names of sections. The American Section comes first. Not long after, the Indian Section came into existence.”



Burnier noted that she is having “a great deal of contact” with lodges in countries where Theosophy has faced adversity, such as Russia, which now has three lodges, and Pakistan, which has two lodges left. The latter are “having a very difficult time” because of the opposition of certain Muslim groups who have even tried to take possession of lodge buildings.

radhandtimIn India itself, she said, “one of the important aspects of the work is unity” beyond differences of caste and religion. Since its earliest days, Burnier stressed, the Society’s main goal has been to “make people understand what are the real things, and which ones people should pay attention to.” Prime among these has to do with the Society’s First Object, which espouses the brotherhood of humanity and indeed of all life. “We are different, yet the same,” Burnier said. “We are one people from end to end of the earth.” For this reason, she said, it is necessary to emphasize love, “not in a physical, material sense, but in a real sense. Love is in essence the realization of the unity of all creatures, to realize it in one’s heart.”

To foster awareness of this truth is “why the Society is being kept alive” despite ups and downs in membership levels, Burnier went on to say. Describing the TS as “a forward-looking movement that will take people very far in their evolution,” Burnier looked forward to an increasing influence for the organization. “Although we are a small society, it is growing and inwardly taking shape” as a vehicle for helping people to realize “the importance of the unity of human beings.”


To enlarge, click on first picture and then click the "next" arrow.

  • 01
  • 02
  • 03
  • 04
  • 05
  • 06
  • 07
  • 08
  • 09
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16



Tibet Fund Letter




March 2, 2011

Tim Boyd
The Theosophical Society in America
1926 N. Main Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

Dear Tim:

Since we received The Theosophical Society in America's very generous support for our Professional Scholarship Program, we have worked with the Central Tibetan Administration Department of Education to award another round of scholarships to 12 students bringing our total scholarships to 30 for the current year. These young people are very grateful for this support, as it ensures that they will be able to complete their degree programs and return to serve their community.

We thought that you and the members of TSA would enjoy reading the attached report, so you can get a feeling for the individuals whose lives have been changed by your kindness and generosity. Please let us know if you would like any further information about the program.

We were able to provide $30,535 in 2011 for the current batch of students and have a balance of $182,095 which we will be able to use in the coming years to expand the number of students we will be supporting to approximately 40 and sustain our commitment to the students for their full academic programs.

Thank you so much for supporting this very important program. By building the knowledge and skills of this generation of young Tibetans, we are ensuring the future of the exile community.

With our gratitude and best wishes,


Rinchen Dharlo


Orphaned Baby Owl

Placed in a Nest at Grounds of The Theosophical Society in America
By Angelique Boyd

owlOn March 16th  a baby Great Horned (owlet) was found at the foot of a pine tree at the Theosophical Society in America (TSA) in Wheaton.  It was about one week old with white fluffy feathers, black and brown tiny dots, and striking gold eyes. 

Michele Shields, from the Information Department of TSA, picked up the owlet and brought it in to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center (WWC) for observation and care. On the 19th, she received a call from the WWC saying that the owlet was having vision problems due to the fall. They said that they would place the owlet back into the wild after its vision had been restored.

Before the news of the owlet's vision, a second owlet fell out of the same tree. Unfortunately, it died soon afterwards. A burial was made for the baby owl. 

On March 22nd the  WWC called the TSA to say that they had recovered another little owlet that had fallen at a different location, and asked if they could put the orphan owlet in the nest at the TSA grounds. When placed in the nest owls are open to adopting owlets and will accept and raise them like their own.

Great Horned Owls do not build their own nests. Normally they simply move in to an existing squirrel's nest. If the nest becomes damaged by wind or storms, they do not repair it. In the case of the nest at the Theosophical Society's campus one side of the nest had developed an opening and the bottom had slanted in that direction. As soon as the owlets became big enough to start moving around it fell through the hole. 

A tree climber from the Dupage Forest Preserve accompanied Rose Augustine from WWC. He placed the existing nest in a shallow wooden box to make a safe new home for the orphan owlet. Members of the TSA community and children from the Prairie School of Dupage, which operates on the TSA campus, looked on as the baby owl was restored to the nest.

Some days later, Pablo Sender, a TSA staff member, climbed the tall pine tree to check on the owlet. Here is a video of what he found.

More videos

To watch Rose Augustine from WWC sharing some valuable information with the children from the Prairie School of Dupage, click here

To watch the owlet travelling towards the nest u pon the tree, click here

To enlarge, click on first picture and then click the "next" arrow.

  • 01
  • 02
  • 03
  • 04
  • 05
  • 06
  • 07
  • 08
  • 09
  • 10

The Prairie School Comes to Olcott

By Tim Boyd

school_1Our head of grounds and maintenance, Mark Roemmich, had told me that a group of people who had started a cooperative school had called him and wanted to talk about what they were doing. He asked if I would like to sit in. It was not that I was looking for yet another meeting, but something about this one seemed interesting. On December 8 two teachers and the school's treasurer sat down with us in the first floor classroom. They started by describing what they were trying to do. At the beginning of this school year their school had come into being. They currently had three teachers and sixteen children aged four to eleven. One of the teachers had Montessori training; another was trained in the Waldorf method of Rudolf Steiner, the third had taught in public school. Their educational approach is firmly rooted in nature. The kids begin each day with an hour of outdoor activity. They learn about the plants, animals, weather patterns, etc. Each week they go on an hour and a half nature walk. All of this in addition to the usual sorts of academic classes.


What they were looking for was a new location for the school. It turned out that they needed to vacate their current premises by January 1 and wanted to know if there was a possibility for them to do something on our campus. The more they talked about their process and dreams the more it became apparent to me that there was a potential fit that could be extremely beneficial to all of us. A good deal of our building is underutilized and my sense was that with a little thought on our part we could find a way to make it work. Over the next couple of days we developed a plan to lease them the west wing of our headquarters building. It has the advantage of being a self contained space where the kids and teachers could conduct classes without affecting the daily rhythms of our TS operations. So, the bottom line is that as of January 9, 2012 the Prairie School began a new life at our national headquarters.

school_2The process of preparing the space for the school required a rapid, organized, and cooperative effort on the part of our staff, but in just 30 days it was accomplished. Great credit is due to Mark Roemmich who organized and executed the logistics of moving people and things. Also Augie Hirt, our CFO, and Jim Bosco, our Chief of Staff, had major roles in the various complicated legal and insurance issues which arose.

The presence of the children has brought a new life to the place. Regularly they are out walking in the labyrinth, having fireside classes at the stone circle, making snowmen each time the snow falls. The parents are coming into our library while they wait for their children; visiting our bookstore; seeking information about the Theosophical Society. New opportunities have been created for people at the school to volunteer at the TSA and for staff and members to volunteer at the school. This is a situation where, with proper attention, everyone wins. I see this type of cooperative engagement with kindred movements as a pattern for our future. 


More About the School 

Who They Are
Inspired by the natural world, the Prairie School of DuPage offers a rich curriculum that explores life around us, emphasizing the connectedness of all things.  They are a pioneering K-3 home school cooperative in the process of becoming an independent school.  They offer place-based education as a starting point to teach concepts in language arts, social studies, science, mathematics and other subjects across the curriculum. 

Their Mission
“Our mission is to educate and inspire the whole child, and to prepare each student for a life of discovery by cultivating a strong sense of self, compassion and respect for others, and a deep connection with the natural world.” 


They Do This By
Emphasizing hands-on, real-world learning experiences
Appreciating integrity, honesty, ethics, and compassion as core underlying values
Recognizing the importance of a holistic education
Instilling pride, responsibility, and cooperation among students as future leaders in the world
Fostering in our students a love for learning about themselves, each other, and the wider world community in ways which are respectful, have a depth of understanding, and emphasize compassionate coexistence 

Through a Curriculum Which
Develops core skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, mathematics and science
Promotes a Green aspect in the school culture and classroom which cultivates a deep understanding of and respect for nature, ecology, and the environment
Integrates the outdoors, music, the arts and foreign languages
Recognizes and celebrates international and local geographies together with their cultural and artistic contributions
Is based on continuity and progression 

How They Teach
They provide a curriculum that combines holistic, hands-on experiential learning with academic rigor.
The Aims of Their Green Studies Curriculum Are:

• To nurture respect for and understanding of the natural world
• To heighten students’ environmental awareness and to promote stewardship
• To develop ecological values out of first-hand experience
• To offer a curriculum which is holistic – integrating all aspects of the child’s nature, multiple intelligences, and curiosity for learning – through a hands-on practicum model which is part of an academically rigorous learning program in a school where classrooms are integrated into the natural environment (eco-literacy.)
• To understand sustainability as an entire web of relationships in community, interacting with other communities – human and non-human – in ways that enable them to live and develop according to their nature
• To think in terms of relationships of interconnecting patterns and contexts (systems thinking)
• To collaborate with members of both the school community (mentorship program) and with the wider local community (apprenticeship program)
• To integrate subject matter such as science, mathematics and social studies, contextualizing academic disciplines in meaningful experiential projects


For all inquiries please contact the Enrollment Coordinator at:

To enlarge, click on first picture and then click the "next" arrow.

  • 1
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 2
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9


Chilean Headquarters Reopens!


The Theosophical Society in America (TSA), along with many other sections around the globe, was distressed when hearing of the devastating February 2010 earthquake in Chile that all but destroyed that section’s headquarters building. In response TSA agreed to act as a clearinghouse to receive donations from TS and TOS groups all around the world and to responsibly distribute them to our Chilean brothers as they documented their progress and readiness to receive the funds so collected.


Members from the TSA, the TOS in America, as well as international TS communities and TOS organizations that held special fundraising activities contributed generously toward the rebuilding effort in Chile. Contributions totaled over $15,000! Staying in close contact with the Chilean Section as the project progressed, these funds, amounting to about half of the total rebuilding cost, enabled the Chilean Section to reopen their headquarters building on June 6, 2011 for a celebratory public meeting. The TSA is grateful to have been instrumental in facilitating this kind of cooperative effort where Theosophists could help one another through a time of difficulty.


To enlarge, click on first picture and then click the "next" arrow.
Pictures Before
  • 01 Caφda-muro-RamaAmor-2
  • 01 Esquina norponiente-Rama Santiago
  • 01 Segundo piso sin reparar
  • 01 Vista desde la calle, sin reparar
  • 02 Rama Santiago-2
  • 02 segundo piso sin reparar
  • 03 sala meditaci≤n 03
  • 04 Derribo resto pared rama Santiago
  • 04 Rama Amor y pasillo
  • 05 Rama Santiago
  • 05 Vista hacia Grajales
  • 05 segundo piso sin reparar
  • 05A Rama-Santiago
  • 06 sector sur-oriente 3║ piso
  • 06 segundo piso sin reparar
  • 07 Vista desde el interior
  • 09 Escombros pared sobre recinto vecino
  • 10 Escombros recinto vecino
  • 11 Pared del pasillo
  • 17 primer piso sin reparar
Pictures During
  • 12 sala meditaci≤n reparada 12
  • 13 sala meditaci≤n reparada
  • 14 sala meditaci≤n reparada
  • 15 sala meditaci≤n reparada 15
  • 28 reparando primer piso
  • 40 reparando primer piso
  • 41 reparando primer piso

Pictures After

  • 1
  • 2
  • 25 muro tercer piso repardo
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
More Pictures After
  • DSC00345
  • DSC00346
  • DSC00347
  • DSC00351
  • DSC00356
  • DSC00357
  • DSC00362
  • DSC00378
  • DSC00400
  • DSC00403
  • DSC00413
  • DSC00414
  • DSC00425
  • DSC00432
  • DSC00440
  • DSC00444
  • DSC00448

Portland Lodge Celebrates 100 Years

The Theosophical Society in Portland held its centennial celebration on September 23-25, 2011. There were almost forty attendees, some coming from as far away as Montana. The event started with an open house at the Lodge on Friday evening. Leslie Rainey presented her slide show honoring members past and present. Elly Lawrence read a poem about being a vegetarian written by a lodge member in 1955 titled “Keep Your Protein High, Girls.” Tours of the building were also given.


The Saturday program took place at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple where we were treated to an excellent presentation “100 Years of Theosophy in Portland” by archivist Janet Kerschner. Linda MacLean, Leonie van Gelder and Lee Haga presented a remembrance of Harry van Gelder. After a catered lunch, our keynote speaker President Tim Boyd spoke on the “Forgotten Truths.”

Sunday’s program brought us back to the Lodge where Tim Boyd and Nancy Secrest spoke about the Theosophical Order of Service. The program ended with a meditation led by Wallace Rainey.





  • 1_TS_Centenial
  • 2_TS_Centenial
  • 3_TS_Centenial
  • 4_TS_Centenial
  • 5_TS_Centenial

Olcott Statue Unveiled in New Jersey

By Ed Abdill


On September 10, 2011, a statue of Colonel Henry Steel Olcott was unveiled at a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple near Princeton, New Jersey. The statue is modeled on one in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where Olcott is regarded as a national hero.

In the late 1800s Olcott established Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and designed a Buddhist flag that was prominently displayed at the celebration. He also wrote a Buddhist catechism (still used world wide) and forced British officials to declare Vesak, the day of the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha, a national holiday. Postage stamps bear Olcott’s image and the date of his death is celebrated yearly. The unveiling was sponsored by Ananda College Old Boys Association, an alumni group from Ananda College. Olcott founded Ananda College and Fritz Kunz was its principal from 1915 to 1917.

Distinguished speakers at the event included the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States and the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Nations. Many others spoke at the unveiling, including senators and officials from New Jersey and a representative from the Department of State. Ed Abdill, Vice President of the Theosophical Society in America, also spoke at the event. Lyn Trotman, national director from the Eastern district and President of the NYTS, was present along with several members from our two Theosophical groups in northern New Jersey.

Two years ago the largest statue of the Buddha in the Western Hemisphere was unveiled at that same temple (see photo). The Buddha is posed in samadhi, a deep state of consciousness in meditation. It is pure white and is beautifully illuminated at night. The event concluded with a delicious buffet meal for all guests.

Olcott's Mother Mary Shrine

shrineScattered around the 43 acres of the Olcott grounds are a number of special places. Anyone who has been to the national headquarters knows about the Labyrinth. At all times of day it draws people from around the area. Many bring their children with them to make the winding meditative walk to its center. About one hundred yards south of the Labyrinth is the Stone Circle that used to be a gathering place where the Young Theosophists could build bonfires in the days before the city code prohibited them. There are the Sellon Grove, the Garden of Remembrance, the Pierre Garden, the Peace Pole, and other sites.

For the last twenty years there has been a largely unnoticed shrine to Mother Mary about 50 yards beyond the west parking lot. It is situated in a dense grove of trees which with time has become overgrown with buckthorn and wild grape vines. Over the years a few devotees have regularly visited the shrine leaving flowers, prayer requests, and various offerings. Many of them have felt a strong presence of peace and blessing at the spot. During the years Mary has been there some things have changed. The ground had settled and she and her little shrine building were starting to lean to the right, and the undergrowth was closing in.

Read more: Olcott's Mother Mary Shrine

The Passing of Ron Miller

RonMillerIt is with saddness we must announce that Ron Miller passed away on 5/4/2011.  Ron spoke often at Theosophical Society in America and dedicated his life to dialogue and pluralism. Ron was a Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College; Co-Founder of Common Ground; Board member at Hands of Peace; author and frequent lecturer on various theological topics including interreligious dialogue, early Christianity and spirituality. 

A website has been constructed to continue his message and share his various talks, writings and books, several of which were held here at our national headquarters. Visit his website:

He will be missed but never forgotten.