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theosophy   •   the theosophical movement   •   theosophical history

The Campbell Theosophical Research Library

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January 2001                                                                                Issue No 4

This newsletter provides information about The Campbell Theosophical Research Library. Anyone interested in its collection is most welcome to use the Library which is available by appointment — material is not available for loan. For further information please contact the Library Coordinator at the above address.


Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals and Other Materials

This unique CD*, which is an extremely valuable tool for those interested in the broad theosophical movement and its history, is now available from The Campbell Library.

It contains an index of approximately 108,000 articles from some 90 theosophical and related periodicals — consisting of journals, series and pamphlets. There is a combined file of most of the periodicals, and separate files of all individual publications. It also contains other material such as The Secret Doctrine, Index to The Secret Doctrine, The Mahatma Letters to AP Sinnett in chronological sequence, Collation of Theosophical Glossaries and various other texts and dictionaries, among other resources.

With the Index, a user may:

  1. find and list all articles containing a given phrase or name in the title or author fields of the Index. The list appears on the screen ready to use and to print in a few seconds. Each entry shows relevant details of the articles: abbreviated name of the periodical, year, volume, month, page, title and author;
  2. browse through any part of the Index — for example, to examine details relating to articles and/or authors in particular issues of a periodical.

The CD contains instructions on how to access the material and how to use it most effectively. A copy may be obtained from the Coordinator of The Campbell Library whose address is above. The cost is $5.00 which includes production expenses and postage.

Gladney Oakley of Sydney was the originator and major creator of the Index. He has been assisted by a number of individuals, and by The Campbell Theosophical Research Library which is sponsoring the project.

* Please note the CD is suitable only for those who have access to a computer with a CD reader.


Probably the most familiar publication from The Theosophical Society in Australia is its current magazine Theosophy in Australia. Since The Theosophical Society came to Australia toward the end of the last century various periodicals have been published by different theosophical groups and it is informative to look back at some of them and see what they were and what they aimed to achieve.

The Australasian Section of The Theosophical Society was founded in 1895. However, theosophists had been active individually and in groups in Australia since the 1880s, and were sufficiently enthusiastic to produce their own publications. These informed members and other readers about local, national and international matters of theosophical interest, provided information about theosophical ideas, provided a forum for discussion on these issues, and reproduced texts of lectures given by members and others. Few books on theosophical ideas were available so the journals and magazines played an important role in making these ideas more widely known. The Campbell Library has a comprehensive collection of Australian periodicals produced by groups and dating from 1892. Here is a brief summary of the publications and some idea of their aims and contents:

The Upadhi was an ‘Australian Monthly Theosophical Publication of news and opinions’. Edited by TM Willans, the first issue appeared in October 1892 continuing through 1893. The masthead included the motto: ‘Believe only that which appeals to reason’. It was a typewritten manuscript as funds for professional printing were not available. It aimed to publish each month two or three questions and answers on theosophical subjects, and readers were invited to contribute. Some of the topics covered were: reincarnation, life after death, hypnotism, methods of studying theosophy, atavism and immortality. It also included news from lodges.

Upadhi continued as The Austral Theosophist, professionally produced, and which appeared in January 1894. It was ‘A Magazine devoted to the Diffusion of Knowledge on Theosophy and Occult Science’. It stated that one if its functions was to dispel misconceptions about theosophy which had ‘no creed to espouse’ and that they welcomed ‘criticism from any quarter’. The editor was Ernest Besant-Scott, son in-law of Annie Besant.

It contained news about lodges as well as reports of papers read at meetings, such as:

Later issues coincided, in 1895, with the visit to Australia of Annie Besant and included reports on her lectures. Its final issue appeared in February 1895.

Magic, a ‘Monthly Australasian Magazine Devoted to Universal Brotherhood, Theosophy and Archaic Science’ first appeared in October 1896 and finished in December of that year. Articles focused on theosophy and associated topics and it included news from branches of The Theosophical Society in Australasia plus reports of overseas activities — including the founding of the ‘Crusaders’ movement under the leadership of Katherine Tingley.

Magic continued as The Australian Theosophist, which appeared from January 1897 to February 1898. It also contained news about Australian and overseas branches of the Society, reports of conventions, and articles on topics such as meditation, ethical living, the meaning of life.

Theosophy in Australasia published by The Australasian Section of The Theosophical Society, appeared first in April 1895. It was ‘with extreme modesty and diffidence…..addressed primarily to members of the Society in Australasia and secondarily to all those who, not being members, are yet interested in theosophic lines of thought and activity’.

It had three aims: to supply a ‘miniature mirror of the movement in Australasia and elsewhere; to answer questions raised by students of theosophy; and to provide each month ‘one good original article of some subject of general theosophic interests’. It continued to April 1921.

Theosophy in Australia first appeared in May 1921 to June 1926. Some of that time it was edited by Josephine Ransom. In July 1926 it was incorporated into The Australian Theosophist which was edited by GS Arundale, but it appeared again in 1936. The Australian Theosophist ceased as an official organ of The Theosophical Society in April 1928. The Section was not able to afford producing both Advance! Australia (see below) and The Australian Theosophist and therefore decided to discontinue production of the latter. C.W. Leadbeater wrote that he considered that this magazine had a particularly significant part to play in the work of the Society and therefore should continue. Consequently, he and others produced it as a ‘private’ publication from August 1928 to March 1929 after which it again became the official organ of The Theosophical Society in Australia.

In 1933 The Australian Theosophist incorporating Theosophy in Australia and Advance! Australia was produced in pocket-book size. C.W. Leadbeter was one of the editors and advertising for selected products was allowed. Again, lack of finance meant it had to cease publication in the same year.

Advance! Australia published by the Australian Section from July 1926 to April 1929, was ‘A monthly magazine of Australian Citizenship and ideals in Religion, Education, Literature, Science, Art, Music, Social Life, Politics, etc’. It stood for ‘Brotherhood — National and International and is an organ for all movements whose object is brotherhood and welcomes all constructive discussion and the expression of divergent views set forth in a spirit of courtesy and respect’. Its purpose was the ‘strenuous promotion of Australia’s growth into noble manhood’. Many articles were social and political commentary on pertinent issues — both Australian and international. The editor, George Arundale, expressed the hope that Advance! Australia would become the ‘recognised platform for movements and persons working for Australia’s advancement’.

News and Notes of The TS in Australia was produced from September 1934 to April-May 1936. Clara Codd, the then General Secretary, was editor and it covered five areas: editorial; international news; lodge news; book reviews and reprints of valuable articles from various sources. Originally it was typewritten then printed professionally.

Theosophy in Australia appeared again in 1936 and has continued to the present.

Dawn a ‘Magazine devoted to the promotion of Universal Brotherhood’, was the official organ of the TS Loyaly League which originated in Sydney in 1921. The magazine lasted from November 1921 to November 1924 and was published in alternate months. Articles covered such as: The future of The Theosophical Society, Meditation, Clairvoyants, Schools of Occultism, Spiritual Healing.

The Path was the international official organ of the Independent Theosophical Society and was published bi-monthly. Officially, it was ‘A magazine devoted to the theosophical message of H.P. Blavatsky’. It was published from 1925 to 1949 but unfortunately the Campbell Library has some issues missing from its collection — it has 75 of the 112 issues. Donations or exchange of any missing issues would be greatly appreciated. Details of those missing appear on the CD of the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals and Other Materials (see front page)

*   *    *   *

Recent Acquisition:

Annie Besant: The Unmaking of an English Radical, by Stephanie SY Liau
Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment for BA (hons), School of History, Philosophy and Politics, Macquarie University 1998.

This thesis adds a valuable perspective to our understanding of the great social activist and theosophist, Annie Besant, and the factors that may have shaped her intellectual and spiritual development. The author has carefully analysed Annie Besant’s “intellectual writings for consistent strands of thought and perceptions within the historical framework of the intellectual milieu of the day”. In doing so, she explores the complexity of the influences on Annie Besant’s progression through various activities and philosophical viewpoints leading to her intense involvement in theosophy and The Theosophical Society. The author writes that “the intersection of ideas regarding materialism, spiritualism, asceticism, progress and pessimism have contributed significantly to the narrative”.

The thesis provides a fresh and thoughtful interpretation of how to view Annie Besant’s philosophical and spiritual journey as a consistent whole. Researchers wanting to broaden their understanding of her and her contribution to society should find this resource material very useful.

The Campbell Library is pleased that Stephanie Liau used its resources for some of her research for this thesis, and is very grateful for her donated copy. Stephanie was awarded first class honours and is now pursuing further studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.

is a part of The Theosophical Society in Australia

The Society is a non-sectarian organisation that has no dogma and stands for complete individual freedom of search and belief. Its objects are:

  1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour;
  2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science;
  3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in the human being.

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