The term Theosophy comes from the Greek "theos" (god) and "sophia" (wisdom).

It denotes a philosophical religious system which claims knowledge of the existence and nature of the Diety.

This knowledge may be obtained by individual revelation or a higher faculty.

God is conceived in Theosophical beliefs as the transcendent source of being. Human beings in their natural state are far removed.

In many ways Theosophy has come to signify the teachings of the founders of the Theosophical Society. Founded in the United States in 1875 its object was to establish a centre of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity.

It would investigate the mystic powers of life and matter. Also it would promote the study of comparative religion and philosophy.

Underlying this was a secret doctrine of esoteric teachings. Over time the Theosophical Society has had many important members which has greatly improved the status of the organization.

Theosophy allows for individual differences of opinion. It also has its aspect as a science.

The teachings are that there are three truths which are absolute. The soul of humanity remains immortal and its future is the future of the thing whose growth and splendor has no limits.

Each individual is his or her own absolute law giver. The principle which gives life dwells in us and without us.

Although Theosophy posits the existence of an absolute it does not pretend to knowledge of its attributes.

Theosophy is a doctrine of religious philosophy and metaphysics originating with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. In this context, theosophy holds that all religions are attempts by the "Spiritual Hierarchy" to help humanity in evolving to greater perfection, and that each religion therefore has a portion of the truth. Together with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others, Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.

Theosophical Society Seal
Theosophical Society Seal

Root Race
In theosophy, Root Race (or Epochs to subsequent authors) is a term first used in the late 19th century by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in her book The Secret Doctrine. The word designates the large time periods in her esoteric cosmology and relates also to supposed stages in human evolution. In the early 20th century, Max Heindel in his book The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception furthered a similar line of thought related to humanity's development toward a future "sixth epoch". Since the 1930s, the Ascended Master Teachings and various new age descendants and offshoots of theosophy sometimes refer to the 21st century as the time of the incarnation of the sixth root race. However, students of esoteric traditions see this century as a being the time of the emergence of the sixth sub-race of the current fifth root race. According to Blavatsky's writings, there will be seven root races assembled for our Earth; each root race is divided into seven subraces. Only five root races have appeared so far; the sixth is expected to emerge in the 28th century. First Root Race
The first root race was "ethereal", i.e. they were composed of etheric matter. They reproduced by dividing like an amoeba. Earth was still cooling at that time.
Second Root Race
The second root race lived in Hyperborea. Hyperborea included what is now Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Northern Asia, and Kamchatka. The climate was tropical because Earth had not yet developed an axial tilt. The esoteric name of their continent is Plaksha. The second root race has no present-day descendants.
Third Root Race
The third root race, the Lemurian, lived in Lemuria. The esoteric name of Lemuria is Shalmali. Lemuria, according to Theosophists, existed in what a large part of what is now the Indian Ocean and included also Australia and in addition extended into the South Pacific Ocean.
Fourth Root Race
The fourth or Atlantean root race, Theosophists believe, arose approximately 4,500,000 years ago in Africa from the fourth subrace of the Lemurians in a part of Africa that had been colonized by that subrace in the area now inhabited by the Ashanti. After they arose in Africa, they left Africa and colonized the continent of Atlantis.

Fifth Root Race
The Human Race as it stands in its current phase of evolution according to Theosophy. Currently we are about midway through the Fifth Root Race. There are two more Root Races, the Sixth and Seventh to go.
Seventh Root Race
A few million years in the future, the seventh root race will arise from the seventh subrace of the sixth root race.
On completion of the Seven, Human spiritual evolution will be complete.

Eighth Sphere
In Theosophy the Eighth Sphere is a term used synonymously with the planet of death. It is a place where the totally evil lost souls are finally destroyed. It is thought by some to be a symbolic condition of being. Some believe it to be a literal location somewhere in the universe.

Theosophy (history of philosophy):
Blavatsky addressed the name in the beginning of The Key to Theosophy::
It comes to us the Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil "loving," and aletheia "truth." The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system. Theosophy, literally "god-wisdom", designated several bodies of ideas predating Blavatsky: The term appeared in Neoplatonism. Porphyry De Abstinentia (4.9) mentioned "Greek and Chaldean theosophy". There was a group of Renaissance philosophers: Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Robert Fludd, and, especially, Jacob Boehme; the Enlightenment theologian Emanuel Swedenborg was influenced by these.

The three objects of Theosophy:
The three declared objects of the original Theosophical Society as established by Blavatsky, Judge and Olcott were as follows:

First : To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
Second : To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.
Third : To investigate the unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man."

Consciousness is universal and individual of Theosophy:
According to Theosophy, nature does not operate by chance. Every event, past or present, happens because of laws which are part of a universal paradigm. Theosophists hold that everything, living or not, is put together from basic building blocks evolving towards consciousness.

Immortal higher self of Theosophy:
Theosophists believe that all human beings in their "Higher Selves" are immortal, but their lower personalities are often unconscious of their eternal Spiritual Nature and that their physical, emotional, and lower mental components will decompose and perish.

Reincarnation is universal in Theosophy:
Theosophy teaches that what is known as human is actually a Spiritual Nature classically called the Monad (Higher Self). This has prompted wakefulness (self analyzing reflection) called the human state through myriad lives passing through the mineral, plant and animal stages during the evolution of life on earth. However Theosophy differs from the common belief that regression is possible. Human beings cannot incarnate as animals or plants again having attained awareness of Self, or really awareness of themselves as distinct from the lower kingdoms for whom such awareness does not exist, for form follows functional mind. Conversely, people are considered only the epitome of spiritual/physical life on Earth and not the end stage of evolution, which continues for further stages. This natural progression includes those types of beings that were men and women like ourselves, but have since become more than egocentric personalities. The Ancient Wisdom Religion considers that in reaching such levels of selfless spiritual development, a man or woman naturally partakes in a Hierarchy of Being, where concern is the welfare and highest good of all beings. Therefore, in this sense, where religions would have men worship such Angelic types as the son of the Father (God), Theosophy teaches that all people are such beings in various stages of attainment, through the changing of their focus of life from the outer ego to the welfare of all others. Of course this must take as many lives to occur as it took to become enmeshed in so called material life. Men and women that have accomplished this are known throughout history as the benefactors and teachers of humanity, and have taught that all people may become what they have become. They teach that it is the duty of human beings to follow this Path of self-emancipation from the bondage of selfishness and become their own saviours, vicarious atonement essentially being impossible and outside the natural order. For although the thoughts and actions of another may be emulated, no being can be saved from foolishness through another's actions. Therefore Theosophy teaches that the immortal ethical life must be lived, and to this end teaches a Heart Doctrine of ethical thought and action as the practice by which the changes spoken of may be made.

Karma in Theosophy:
Theosophy professes the method for people to free themselves from unconsciously causing negative karma, which has become the cause of suffering of humanity during life, through an emulation of dharma-duty to all that lives. Theosophy teaches, as do many ethical/religious doctrines, that what ye sow, so shall ye reap. The point being that a sense or law of rigid justice rules nature, whereby Causes sown (in terms of conscious and unconscious actions) all have their mathematically connected consequences. Evil and good are the result of human determination, and of themselves are illusions caused by the mind being absorbed in spirit/matter in a cycle of becoming. There is a natural involution of spirit into matter followed by an evolution of matter back into spirit. The purpose of the Universe is for spirit to manifest itself self-consciously. This is done in small unassuming ways where individuals make a decided work out of doing their duty in the daily round, and learning to treat all others as their equal. In this way the Karma of our past, which precoccupies much of our endeavor, is resolved, the resolvent and solvent being the application of what the Buddhists call Good Heart through Mindfulness.

Universality of Theosophy:
Theosophy teaches that all life exists in an essential "Radical Unity" and in which all individual beings, regardless of the kingdom in which they exist (human, animal, vegetable or mineral), are involved in an inextricably interconnected single life. The advancement of any one aspect of this synergistically bound Unity affects all for the good. Of course, therefore, the opposite must be true. Human beings, being the only self conscious types in this continuum, are the product of countless awakenings into this state through lives of involvement with this "Radical Unity" and are therefore growing positively, when the awareness of this has become obvious.

Evolution and Race in Theosophy:
Theosophists believe that religion, philosophy, science, the arts, commerce, and philanthropy, among other "virtues," lead people ever closer to "the Absolute." Planets, solar systems, galaxies, and the cosmos itself are seen as conscious beings, fulfilling their own evolutionary paths. Theosophists also believe that human civilization, like all other parts of the universe, develops through cycles of seven stages. Thus in the first age, humans were pure spirit; in the second age, they are known as Hyperboreans; in the third as Lemurians; and in the fourth, Atlanteans. Since Atlantis was the nadir of the cycle, the present fifth age is a time of reawakening humanity's psychic gifts. The term psychic here really means the realization of the permeability of consciousness as it had not been known earlier in evolution, although sensed by some more sensitive individuals of our culture.

The Septenary in Theosophy:
It might be important and quite useful to see that the most material of the vestures of the Soul are interpenetrated by the particles of the more subtle vesture. For example-The "Sthula-Sarira" or most material body, is, as science is aware, mostly space at its so-called atomic level (as all matter is known to be), and these interstitial spaces are inhabited by the those subtler particles of the Astral Body or Linga sarira, and so on for the other more energy like envelopes of the Soul. The important thing about this interpenetration of each sheath, is that we see the inner person as a fluid and unbroken continuity, although varying in density/flexibility and energy and therefore more and more susceptible to the behest of the Real Person - the Soul/Higher Self since they are less and less encumbered in material boundary. Perhaps the image of a suspension or colloid in chemistry is an apt perspective. And since matter is merely the material opposite of consciousness (ultimately the Highest aspect of us being pure consciousness), this interpenetration of sheaths allows for consciousness to interpenetrate Man's nature and explains how we are sensitive to what we think is external stimulate, through the five senses. Theosophy, as well as many other esoteric groups and occult societies, claims in their esoteric cosmology that the universe is ordered by the number seven. The reincarnating consciousness of the monad utilizes spirit/matter forms in seven bodies:

The first body is called sthula-sarira (Sanskrit, from sthula meaning coarse, gross, not refined, heavy, bulky, fat in the sense of bigness, conditioned and differentiated matter + sarira to moulder, waste away). A gross body, impermanent because of its wholly compounded character. The physical body is usually considered as the lowest substance-principle. The physical form is the result of the harmonious co-working on the physical plane of forces and faculties streaming through their astral vehicle or linga-sarira, the pattern or model of the physical body.
The second body is called Linga-Sarira, (Sanskrit, from linga meaning characteristic mark, model, pattern + sarira, from the verbal root sri to moulder, waste away). A pattern or model that is impermanent; the model-body or astral body, only slightly more ethereal than the physical body. It is the astral model around which the physical body is built, and from which the physical body flows or develops as growth proceeds.
The third body is prana (Sanskrit, from pra before + the verbal root an to breathe, to live). In theosophy, the breath of life. This life or prana works on, in, and around us, pulsating unceasingly during the term of physical existence. Prana is "the radiating force or Energy of Atma -- as the Universal Life and the One Self -- its lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prana or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a 'principle' only because it is an indispensable factor and the deus ex machina of the living man."
The fourth principle is kama (Sanskrit, from the verbal root kam meaning to desire). Desire; the desire principle is the driving, impelling force. Born from the interaction of atman, buddhi, and manas, kama per se is a colourless force, good or bad according to the way the mind and soul use it. It is the seat of the living electrical impulses, desires, and aspirations, considered in their energetic aspect.
The fifth principle is manas (Sanskrit, from the verbal root man meaning to think). The seat of mentation and egoic consciousness; in humanity Manas is the human person, the reincarnating ego, immortal in essence, enduring in its higher aspects through the entire manvantara. When embodied, manas is dual, gravitating toward buddhi in its higher aspects and in its lower aspects toward kama. The first is intuitive mind, the second the animal, ratiocinative consciousness, the lower mentality and passions of the personality.
The sixth principle or vehicle is Buddhi (Sanskrit, from the verbal root budh to awaken, enlighten, know). The vehicle of pure, universal spirit, hence an inseparable garment or vehicle of atman, which is, in its essence, of the highest plane of akasa or alaya. In man buddhi is the spiritual soul, the faculty of discriminating, the channel through which streams divine inspiration from the atman to the ego, and therefore that faculty which enables us to discern between good and evil: spiritual conscience. The qualities of the buddhic principle when awakened are higher judgment, instant understanding, discrimination, intuition, love that has no bounds, and consequent universal forgiveness.
The seventh is called Atman (Sanskrit). Self; pure consciousness, that cosmic self which is the same in every dweller on this globe and on every one of the planetary or stellar bodies in space. It is the feeling and knowledge of "I am," pure cognition, the abstract idea of self. It does not differ at all throughout the cosmos except in degree of self-recognition. It may also be considered as the First Logos in the human microcosm. During incarnation the lowest aspects of atman take on attributes, because it is linked with buddhi, as the buddhi is linked with manas, as the manas is linked with kama, etc.

A round in the esoteric cosmology of Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Rosicrucianism is a cosmic cycle or sequence by which an evolving reincarnating being passes through the various stages of existence as the Earth, the Solar System or the Cosmos comes into and passes out of manifestation. In Theosophy, the whole process is very simple. A round is a process in a planetary chain, according to which a life cycle or life-wave of souls or monads begins its evolutionary journey on the first and most subtle or spiritual of the series of seven globes; then finishing its evolution there, proceeds to the next, and so on, to the densest or most manifest globe (usually called globe D), which in our case is the gross, physical Earth. From there it proceeds on the ascending arc, through increasingly more ethereal globes. Each of these globes are in coadunition with the physical earth, though they are not in consubstantiation with it. Each of these stages is called a round, and during this time the reincarnating life wave has passed through seven Root Races. When the life wave has gone through all seven globes of the planetary chain, it has completed one planetary round or globe manvantara. This is followed by the dissolution of the planetary chain in a nirvana (which is not the same as what Buddhism calls nirvana because it is not permanent); this period between physical manifestation is called pralaya in Hinduism. Finally, a new round begins, in which consciousness is now more developed than in the preceding round. Seven such planetary rounds (or forty-nine globe rounds) represents one kalpa or manvantara or day of brahma. This is followed by a higher "nirvana" or pralaya, which is the pralaya of that planetary chain. This lasts until a new planetary chain forms with its various life waves. Seven such planetary chains and their pralayas constitute a solar manvantara, after which the solar system is dissolved in a cosmic pralaya, before the cycle begins anew. This elaborate cosmology, first formulated by Blavatsky, was also taught by de Purucker, Leadbeater, and Alice Bailey.

The Theosophical Society:
Modern Theosophical esotericism, however, begins with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) usually known as Madame Blavatsky. In 1875 she founded the Theosophical Society in New York City together with Henry Steel Olcott, who was a lawyer and writer. During the Civil War Col. Olcott worked to root out corruption in war contracts. Blavatsky was a world traveler who eventually settled in India where, with Olcott, she established the headquarters of the Society in Bangalore. Her first major book Isis Unveiled (1877) presented elements mainly from the Western wisdom tradition based on her extensive travels in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Her second major work The Secret Doctrine (1888), contains a commentary on The Book of Dzyan, and is based upon what she called an Unwritten Secret Doctrine (really the Wisdom tradition or Wisdom Religion allotted to Man), which is described as the underlying basis of all the religions of humanity. These writings, along with her Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence are key texts for genuine students. Upon Blavatsky's death in 1891, several Theosophical societies emerged following a series of schisms. Annie Besant became leader of the society based in Adyar, India, while William Quan Judge split off the American Section of the Theosophical Society in New York which later moved to Point Loma, Covina, and Pasadena, California under a series of leaders: Katherine Tingley, Gottfried de Purucker, Colonel Arthur L. Conger, James A. Long, Grace F. Knoche, and in March 2006 Randell C. Grubb. The great pulp fiction writer Talbot Mundy was a member of the Point Loma group, and wrote many articles for its newsletter. Yet another international theosophical organization, the United Lodge of Theosophists, was formed by Robert Crosbie. He was a student of William Quan Judge and after his death went to Point Loma in 1900 to help Katherine Tingley's Thesosphical society, and which he left in 1904 to found the ULT in 1909. He experienced a lack of respect for the original work of Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge in Tingley's work and wished to bring that original stream of study back to the world, through a re-presentation of unaltered original writtings. Rudolf Steiner created a successful branch of the Theosophical Society Adyar in Germany. He focused on a Western esoteric path that incorporated the influences of Christianity and natural science, resulting in tensions with Annie Besant (cf. Rudolf Steiner and the Theosophical Society) having already founded his own Anthroposophical Society a month earlier after he refused members of the Order of the Star of the East membership in the German Section. Steiner was vehemently opposed to The Order of the Star of the East's proclamation that the young boy, Jiddu Krishnamurti, was the incarnation of Maitreya (who was believed to have "over-shadowed" Jesus Christ). However and fortunately, J. Krishnamurti himself saw through this business and left the Society. The great majority of German-speaking theosophists, as well as several others, joined Steiner's new society. (Steiner later became famous for his ideas about education, resulting in an international network of "Steiner Schools.") In North London, another splinter group split off to form the Palmers Green Lodge under the leadership of the occultist and colonial adventurer, Thomas Neumark-Jones. The Palmers Green Lodge published the journal Kayfabe which published, among others, Rainbow Circle writers like Hobhouse and Chiozza Money. After the death of William Quan Judge, another society, the United Lodge of Theosophists, emerged, recognizing no leader after Judge; it is now based in Los Angeles, California. Other organizations based on the theosophical teachings of Helena Blavatsky, Besant and Leadbeater include the Agni Yoga, "I AM" Activity, The Bridge to Freedom, The Summit Lighthouse, and The Temple of The Presence. These various offshoots dispute the authenticity of their rivals. Thus followers of the United Lodge of Theosophists will claim that only " the Writings of HPB, William Quan Judge and Robert Crosbie can be trusted to contain unadulterated concepts and ethical direction."

Influence of Theosophy:
At its strongest in membership and intensity during the 1920s the parent Theosophical Society (or Theosophical Society Adyar) had around 7,000 members in the USA. The largest section of The Theosophical Society, the Indian section, at one time had more than 20,000 members, now reduced to around 10,000. Theosophy was closely linked to the Indian independence movement: the Indian National Congress was founded during a Theosophical conference, and many of its leaders, including M. K. Gandhi were associated with theosophy. The present-day New Age movement is to a considerable extent based on the teachings of Blavatsky, though some writers have described Alice Bailey as the founder of the "New Age movement". However, the term was used prior to Bailey; a weekly Journal of Christian liberalism and Socialism called The New Age was published as early as 1894. Artists and authors who investigated Theosophy, aside from the musicians listed below, include Aldous Huxley, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Franz Kafka, William Butler Yeats, George William Russell, Owen Barfield, and T. S. Eliot, in Europe, and Arthur Dove, George Lucas, Katherine Dreier, Robert Duncan, Marsden Hartley, Wallace Stevens, and James Jones in America. Some prominent Hindu leaders, such as Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayananda Sarasvati criticized Theosophy. Swami Dayananda Sarasvati initially worked with Blavatsky and Olcott after they arrived in India, but soon afterwards accused them of lying on several different topics, and then all collaboration was stopped on a permanent basis.

Elena Petrovna Gan (Russian: also Hélène, July 30 - July 31, 1831 (O.S.) (August 12, 1831 (N.S.)) Yekaterinoslav, Russian Empire May 8, 1891 London), better known as Helena Blavatsky or Madame Blavatsky, born Helena von Hahn, was a founder of the Theosophical Society. Living in New York City, she founded the Theosophical Society in September 1875, with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others. Madame Blavatsky wrote that all religions were both true in their inner teachings and problematic or imperfect in their external conventional manifestations. Her writings connecting esoteric spiritual knowledge with new science may be considered to be the first instance of what is now called New Age thinking. In fact, many researchers feel that much of New Age thought started with Blavatsky. She also lived in Philadelphia for part of 1875. While living on Sansom Street, Madame Blavatsky became ill with an infected leg. She claimed to have undergone a "transformation" during her illness which inspired her to found the Theosophical Society. In a letter dated June 12, 1875, Madame Helena Blavatsky described her recovery, explaining that she dismissed the doctors and surgeons who threatened amputation. She is quoted as saying "Fancy my leg going to the spirit land before me!," and had a white dog sleep across her leg by night.

William Quan Judge (April 13, 1851 - March 21, 1896) was a mystic, esotericist, and occultist, and one of the founders of the original Theosophical Society. He was born in Dublin, Ireland. When he was 13 years old, his family emigrated to the United States. He became a naturalized citizen of the USA at age 21 and passed the New York state bar exam, specializing in commercial law. A vigorous, imaginative and idealistic young man, he was among the seventeen people who first put the Theosophical Society together.

Annie Besant (London, England, 1 October 1847 - 20 September 1933 in Adyar, India) was a prominent Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator. In 1890 Annie Besant met Helena Blavatsky and over the next few years her interest in Theosophy grew. In 1902 she established the International Order of Co-Freemasonry in England and over the next few years established lodges in many parts of the British Empire. In 1908 Annie Besant became President of the Theosophical Society.

Abner Doubleday (June 26, 1819 - January 26, 1893) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He was a prominent member and later president of the Theosophical Society.

Geoffrey Hodson (12 March 1886 in Lincolnshire - 23 January 1983 in Auckland, New Zealand) was an occultist, Theosophist, mystic, Liberal Catholic priest, philosopher and esotericist, and a leading light for over 70 years in the Theosophical Society. He was the author over fifty books (many still in print) on psychic powers, Theosophy, Spiritualism, mysticism, fairies, angels, meditation, clairvoyance. He also wrote over two hundred articles and radio talks. He travelled the world extensively lecturing for the Theosophical Society. Hodson also served as the Director of Studies of the School of the Wisdom at the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, India, for four sessions, and was a guest lecturer at the Krotona School of Theosophy in Ojai, California.

Dr Archibald Keightley (1859 - 1930) was a prominent member of the Theosophical Society who helped in the editing of Helena P. Blavatsky's magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine. He served as the General Secretary of the English Theosophical Society from 1888 to 1890.

Charles Webster Leadbeater (16 February 1854 - 1 March 1934) was a prominent early member of the Theosophical Society, author on the occult and co-founder with J. I. Wedgwood of the Liberal Catholic Church. Originally a clergyman in the Church of England, his interest in spiritualism led him to give up the Church in favour of the Theosophical Society, where he became a protege of Annie Besant. He quickly rose to the upper echelons of that society, but resigned in 1906.

George Robert Stowe Mead (Nuneaton, 22 March 1863 - 28 September 1933) was an author, editor, translator, and an influential member of the Theosophical Society as well as the founder of the Quest Society.

William Scott-Elliot (d.1930) was a theosophist who elaborated Helena Blavatsky's concept of root races in several publications, most notably The Story of Atlantis (1896) and The Lost Lemuria (1904), later combined in 1925 into a single volume called The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria.

A.P. Sinnett (18 January 1840 - 26 June 1921) was an author and Theosophist.

Katherine Augusta Westcott Tingley (born July 6, 1847, Newbury, Massachusetts; died July 11, 1929, Visingsö, Sweden) was a social worker and prominent Theosophist. She was the founder of the Theosophical Society Pasadena. She founded and led the Theosophical community Lomaland in San Diego, California.

Professor Ernest Egerton Wood (* 18 August 1883 in Manchester, England; + 17 September 1965 in Houston, United States) was a noted yogi, theosophist, Sanskrit scholar, and author of numerous books, including Concentration - An Approach to Meditation and Yoga. As a young man, Wood became interested in Theosophy after listening to lectures by the theosophist Annie Besant, whose personality impressed him greatly. He joined the society's Manchester lodge and in 1908 followed Besant, who had become President of the Theosophical Society Adyar, to India. Wood became one of her assistants, working with Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater.

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Spiritual Hierarchy
A term often used in Neo-Theosophy, and the Ascended Master Teachings, a group of religions based on Theosophy. It represents the concept of a group of self-realised Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, referred to by those adherent to the Ascended Master Teachings as Ascended Masters, who are ranked at various levels, and their disciples, invisibly helping humanity from behind the scenes on the higher spiritual planes. Neo-Theosophy and the Ascended Master Teachings are syncretic religions which combine religious concepts from and deities from primarily Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism and to some degree from other religions, as well their own unique deities. The spiritual hierarchy of Theosophy is the basis for many New Age religions. It was a Theosophist, Alice A. Bailey, who popularized the term New Age. According to the Ascended Master Teachings (but not according to Theosophy), beings in the Spiritual Hierarchy can change their positions within the Hierarchy within the brief time span of a few human generations. Theosophists and those adherent to the Ascended Master Teachings believe that Maitreya, Buddha, and Sanat Kumara, the three highest beings in the Terran planetary division of the Spiritual Hierarchy, continue to work for the benefit of humanity from their headquarters in Shamballah on the etheric plane. Within the spiritual hierarchy, it is believed that there are two broad classes of beings within the hierarchy. Ascended Masters, or as they are called in Theosophy, the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, are beings that have incarnated on Earth and ascended to a high level of Initiation. Cosmic Beings are defined as those ascended masters who are of extraterrestrial origin.

Order of the Star in the East
The Order of the Star in the East (OSE) was an organization established by the leadership of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, India, from 1911 to 1927. Its mission was to prepare the world for the expected arrival of a messianic entity, the so-called World Teacher or Maitreya. The precursor of the OSE was the Order of the Rising Sun (1910–1911) and the successor was the Order of the Star (1927–1929). The founding of the OSE, as well as the disbanding of its successor Order in 1929, led to crises in the Theosophical Society.

The term Neo-Theosophy is a term, originally derogatory, used by the followers of Blavatsky to denominate the system of Theosophical ideas expounded by Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater following the death of Madame Blavatsky in 1891. This material differed in some respects from Blavatsky's original presentation, but it is accepted as genuinely Theosophical by the vast majority of Theosophists around the world. After Blavatsky died in 1891, William Quan Judge became involved in a dispute with Henry Steele Olcott and Annie Besant over Judge allegedly forging letters from the Mahatmas. As a result, he ended his association with Olcott and Besant during 1895 and took most of the Society's American Section with him. He managed his new organization for about a year until his death in New York, whereupon Katherine Tingley became manager. The organization originating from the faction of Olcott and Besant is based nowadays in India and known as the Theosophical Society - Adyar, while the organization managed by Judge is known nowadays simply as the Theosophical Society, but often with the specification, "international headquarters, Pasadena, California." The Theosophical Society - Adyar is the original group denounced as Neo-Theosophy by those in the Theosophical Society--International Headquarters (Pasadena, California), who are followers of William Q. Judge and the original teachings of Madame Blavatsky; they regard themselves as the Orthodox Theosophists and do not accept what they regard as the Neo-Theosophical teachings of Annie Besant, Henry Olcott, and C.W. Leadbeater. The term Neo-Theosophy was coined by Ferdinand T. Brooks around 1912 in a book called Neo Theosophy Exposed, the second part of an earlier book called The Theosophical Society and its Esoteric Bogeydom. Around 1924, Margaret Thomas published a book called Theosophy Versus Neo-Theosophy.

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