The Theosophical Society in America

President's Diary

September - October 2007

Betty Bland

On September 8, TheosoFest began our fall season on an upbeat note. Through the efforts of staff volunteers, our maintenance crew, and a reliable tree service, we were able to clear the property enough so that observable storm damage was minimal. Although I was not able to be present, the staff did a most admirable job in seeing that the public felt welcomed and that all was well organized. The event, coordinated by Diana Cabigting and Ruthann Fowler, generated fifteen new members with almost 900 people in attendance. The lectures were extremely well attended with standing room only in some. The bookshop sales, vendor trunk sales, and the Theosophical Publishing House tent sale were also quite successful. All of us at Olcott feel this is an excellent way of promoting the Society to a broad population in our area.

The following weekend brought sixty-three participants to our campus for a three and a half day workshop meant to help heal those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ed Tick, author of Quest Books’ War and the Soul, led veterans, their loved ones, and professional helpers through meaningful exercises that truly brought about healing and resolution of old wounds of the spirit. Comments we received about the workshop include: “The mission of the Theosophical Society offers healing to the Great Whole and is part of the Path to eliminating war from our reality.” And “This was truly a spiritual experience! The connections and relationships I developed here are very meaningful to me. I treasure them!”

At the end of September, Stephan Hoeller, always a popular guest, came to participate in Tony Lysy’s Wednesday class series based on Quest Books’ Echoes from the Gnosis. He was also our speaker for a Thursday night program on Gnosticism, followed by a special Saturday class on the Secret Book or Apocryphon of John.

To the good fortune of the twenty-nine members who were here for the Olcott Experience weekend (OE), we were able to piggyback the OE with Stephan’s visit. Our experiment of extending OE and having it begin on Thursday evening, enabled participants to enjoy hearing two of Stephan’s talks. The chemistry of this group was particularly good and the participants bonded with each other; resulting in the feeling that they were taking home a renewed enthusiasm, a deeper connection with the larger organization, as well as additional tools to work more effectively in their home areas.

The Springfield, MA Lodge Centenary celebration, October 18-20, 2007, drew members and friends from all around the New England area. In fact, the presence of so many visitors attested to the strength of the Northeast Federation which provides a supportive meeting ground for the several groups in the area. Meetings at its two locations, Agawam and Chicopee, included: Ed Abdill and Richard Smoley, each speaking about their recent Quest Books publications, The Secret Gateway and Hidden Mysteries respectively; my presentation “The Virtuous Key, Seven in One” about the Paramitas; and at the banquet, a lively dramatic reading starring Mark Mueller as Col. Olcott, Helen Baxendale as HPB, and John O’Neill as W.Q. Judge.

October ended with what is becoming an Olcott tradition?a staff Halloween luncheon, complete with costumes, weird music, and ghoulish titles for our menu selections. The theme this year, “Olcottwarts?School for Aspiring Wizards” inspired the decorations in the colors of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin the four houses of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School for Wizards. I hope you enjoy the pictures of our staff, volunteers, and friends who participated in this magical community building activity.