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New York, September 7th, 1875

The Founding of the Modern Theosophical Movement
 
 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
 
 

The Minutes of the meeting during which the theosophical movement
was created,  written by W. Q. Judge and signed by him and H. S. Olcott
 
 
 
September 7th can be seen as the birthday of the modern theosophical movement. On September 7th, 1875, in the place where Helena P. Blavatsky lived in New York, 17 persons heard a lecture by George H. Felt on the “Lost Canon of Proportion” of Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. 
 
After the lecture,  it was decided to create a Society to continue those studies. William Judge moved that Henry Olcott be elected president, and he was; and Olcott moved that Judge be elected Secretary, and so he was.
 
In his book “Old Diary Leaves”, Colonel Olcott writes about the meeting on the seventh:
 
“…The tiny seed of what was to be a world-covering banyan tree was planted in fertile soil and germinated.”
 
A few paragraphs later, Olcott reproduces the narrative made by Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten:
 
“One movement of great importance has just been inaugurated in New York, under the lead of Colonel Henry S. Olcott, in the organization of a society, to be known as the Theosophical Society. The suggestion was entirely unpremeditated, and was made on the evening of the 7th inst., in the parlors of Madame Blavatsky, where a company of seventeen ladies and gentlemen had assembled to meet Mr. George Henry Felt, whose discovery of the geometrical figures of the Egyptian Cabbala may be regarded as among the most surprising feats of the human intellect. The company included several persons of great learning and some of wide personal influence.” [1]
 
Among those present were two distinguished Jewish religion scholars (one of them the editor of an organ of reformed Jews); several spiritualists; a high-ranking mason; one physician and two or three lawyers. [2] 
 
In the book  “A Guide to Theosophy” there is a description of the movement’s creation and  the statement that the Theosophical Society was founded “on 17 November 1875”. HPB had a copy of the book and on page 51 of the volume she corrected the information, adding this commentary in ink:
 
“Formally; Yet in truth it was founded on 7th September 1875 at my house in 46 Irving Place, New York.” [3]
 
Boris de Zirkoff, the editor of H.P.B.’s Collected Writings, concludes:
 
“There seems to be no reason (...) to doubt that the actual formation of the Theosophical Society took place on September 7th, 1875 (...).” [4]  
 
The meeting of September 7th had therefore at least a decisive importance. The name of the society was chosen in the meeting of 13 September. What took place on 17 November was but the formal inaugural address of the President, Henry Olcott. However, later on this date became more widely known than the September meeting.
 
The creation of the theosophical movement on a seventh of September has an occult numerological meaning.
 
September is the seventh month of the astrological year, and, in the ancient Roman calendar, it was the seventh month of the year: hence its name.[5] H.P.B. wrote many a paragraph on the energy and power of number seven. [6]
 
Although the date of November 17 was adopted on an external and exoteric plane as the founding day of the movement, it was in the meeting of the seventh of September that the decision was made and the impulse unleashed to create a theosophical association. Eighth of September is also decisive, because on that day the first meeting took place which generated a written document.
 
Theosophy, Virgo and the Pleiades
 
On September 7th and 8th the Sun is in the sign of Virgo, whose astrological influence gives us a critical sense, an ability to work hard and to develop planned action. Virgo inspires healing actions and makes us capable of seeing details. 
 
One might say that the inner side or essential aspect of the theosophical effort must be able to develop the qualities associated with this inner identity of the movement in Virgo, while its public and exoteric identity is ascribed to November 17th and the sign of Scorpio.
 
The astrological Birth Chart of Helena Blavatsky presents a concentration of three influential  planets in Virgo: Mars, Mercury and Saturn. Her Part of Fortune is in the same sign.
 
The Eastern Sages have a long term view of things. In “The Secret Doctrine”, HPB refers to the profoundly esoteric Cycles based upon “certain conjunctions and respective positions of Virgo and the Pleiades”. 
 
That seems to contain an implicit reference to the Kali Yuga, whose starting point she had mentioned a few lines earlier. “The Secret Doctrine” says that, after having abandoned the Atlanteans to their doom the three “Virgins”, or Virgo in three different positions “returned (or redescended, rather) during the third Sub-Race of the Fifth [Race] in order to reveal to saved humanity the mysteries of their birth-place - the sidereal Heavens.”[7]
 
HPB was born on August 12th under the sign of Leo, and she teaches in “The Secret Doctrine” that the constellation of Virgo and its zodiacal sign are inseparable from Leo, the sign that precedes it, and from the Pleiades. On the same page, HPB adds:
 
“All of these are connected  with the periodical  renovations of the earth,  with  regard to its  continents”.[8]
 
The Dharma of the theosophical movement is to work in the same direction, helping mankind to renew itself and making it easier for its individual members to understand the planetary cycles and changes, of which they are creative and self-responsible elements. A planned, consistent, down-to-earth, well-organized effort will expand the effectiveness of the project as long as the theosophists are loyal to its original lines. 
 
NOTES:
  
[1] “Old Diary Leaves”, First Series,  H. S. Olcott, TPH, Adyar, India, 1974, 490 pp. The first quotation from Olcott, with the reference to a banyan tree, is on p. 114. Mrs. Britten’s report is on pp. 118-119. 
 
[2] See the volume “HPB, The Extraordinary Life & Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement”, by Sylvia Cranston, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1994, 648 pp., Part Four, Chapter Seven, pp. 143-148. By reading the opening lines of the Minutes, written by W. Q. Judge and signed by himself and Olcott, one can realize the importance of the Jewish Cabalah in those initial, inaugural moments of the movement: “In consequence of a proposal by Col. Henry S. Olcott, that a Society be formed for the study and elucidation of Occultism, the Cabalah, the ladies and gentlemen then and there present resolved themselves into a meeting…”
 
[3] “Formation of the Theosophical Society”, a text by Boris de Zirkoff, in “Collected Writings”  of H.P. Blavatsky, TPH, Adyar, India, Volume I, 1988, 570 pp., see p. 123.
 
[4] “Formation of the Theosophical Society”, in “Collected Writings” of H.P. Blavatsky, volume I, p. 122.
 
[5] “Encyclopaedia Britannica”, William Benton, Publisher, 1967 edition, volume 4, p. 615, item “Calendar”.
 
[6] Click to see for instance the article “The Number Seven”, by Helena P. Blavatsky.
 
[7] “The Secret Doctrine”, H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, volume II, lower half of p. 435, upper part of p. 436.  
 
[8] “The Secret Doctrine”, H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, volume II, p. 785, a few lines above the middle of the page. On the mysteries related to the sign of Virgo, see also “Collected Writings”, HPB, TPH volume III, p. 325, “Footnotes to…”. 
 
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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.  
 
 
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.

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New York, September 7th, 1875
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