History of The Theosophical Society

International History

The Theosophical Society was founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others in New York City on November 17, 1875. In 1882 the international headquarters of the Society was established at Adyar near Madras (Chennai) in India. This remains the headquarters for the Society, which is now established in more than sixty countries throughout the world.

Southern Africa’s History

The Theosophical Society of Southern Africa was established in 1909 and consisted of lodges in Johannesburg, Germiston, Harmony (Jhb), Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Pietermaritzburg. There were also lodges established (1914) in Bulawayo and Salisbury in Rhodesia. In 1945 Lodges were founded in de Aar Port Elizabeth and Kimberley.

The Historians

William Quan Judge | 1851-1896

“Karma is like the vine that gathers strength through uninterrupted years, and which fastens its tendrils so closely that it is as strong as the structure to which it adheres. There is no way to destroy its power except by the separation of the parts, these parts renew themselves in other forms of life, but the structure is freed when its root is destroyed.”

“To the worldly man Karma is a stern Nemesis, to the spiritual man Karma unfolds itself in harmony with his highest aspirations.”

William Quan Judge

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky | 1831-1891

“It is on the acceptance or rejection of the theory of the Unity of all in Nature, in its ultimate Essence, that mainly rests the belief or unbelief in the existence around us of other conscious beings besides the Spirits of the Dead.”

“The Occultists, however, know that the traditions of Esoteric Philosophy must be the right ones, simply because they are the most logical, and reconcile every difficulty.”

“The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire – the light of daring burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain.”

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Henry Steel Olcott | 1832-1907

“Everything in the world of Matter is unreal; the only reality is in the world of Spirit.”

“Physiologically speaking, man’s body is completely changed every seven years.”

“The pleasures of the eye, the ear, the taste, touch and smell are fleeting and deceptive: he who gives value to them brings only disappointment and bitter sorrow upon himself.”

“Many people can argue, few can simply have a conversation.”

Henry Steel Olcott



The word comes from the Greek “theosophia” meaning the wisdom of the Gods or Divine Wisdom. It relates to the Alexandrian philosophers called “Lovers of the Truth”. It has been known by other names for example “The Ageless or Ancient Wisdom, the Wisdom Religion, the Perennial Philosophy and the Wisdom Tradition”. It is seen as being a multifaceted teaching. One that gives meaning and purpose to life that aids our understanding of our own natures and the nature of reality. It gives guidelines on the physical body, our psychological nature both emotional and mental and our spiritual nature. It can also help students of its teaching attain inner peace and serenity. It is the spiritual philosophy that has existed since time immemorial capable of guiding spiritual travelers on their spiritual path, leading to both spiritual growth and enlightenment. It seeks the unfoldment of the greatest human qualities such as understanding, insight, intuition, love, compassion and the expression of human creative potential.