Nov 14, 2015

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.

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. [1] 

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 added, in ink:

“Formally; Yet in truth it was founded on 7th September 1875 at my house in 46 Irving Place, New York.” [2] 

And Boris de Zirkoff, the editor of H.P.B.’s Collected Writings,  writes:

“There seems to be no reason (...) to doubt that the actual formation of the Theosophical Society took place on September 7th, 1875 (...).” [3]  

In spite of the importance of the meeting held on September 7th, it was only in the next evening, on September 8th, that those people made their first meeting with Minutes and written resolutions, and formally decided to make a constitution and by-laws.

By reading the opening  lines of the Minutes, written by W. Q. Judge and signed by himself and Olcott, we can see 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...”

On 17 November, when H.S. Olcott made his inaugural speech as president, the Society and the movement had already been created, therefore. Although November 17th has been the date more conventionally publicized as the birthday of the movement, the meeting of September 7th produced the decision and impulse. September 8th  also has a decisive importance as the date of the first meeting of which there was 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 more 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.”[4]

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”.[5]

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. 


[1] 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.

[2] “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.

[3] “Formation of the Theosophical Society”,  in “Collected Writings” of H.P. Blavatsky,  volume I,  p. 122.

[4] “The Secret Doctrine”,  H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, volume II, pp. 435-436.

[5] “The Secret Doctrine”,  H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, volume II, p. 785. On the mysteries related to the sign of Virgo, see also “Collected Writings”, HPB,  TPH volume III, p. 325, “Footnotes to…”. 

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.