Theosophy means “divine wisdom.” Since the beginning of humanity, various individuals and religious groups sought to learn the secrets of the universe, to commune with the divine, and to fathom a hidden unity behind physical and spiritual phenomena. Theosophy particularly connected with western astrology in the writings of some of the Hellenistic astrologers who were part of the Hermetic movement; and during the Renaissance, as men versed in a variety of esoteric arts expressed their belief in a mystical unity of nature.
The Romantic movement of the nineteenth century boosted popular interest in esoteric studies and mediumship, together with newer Darwinian ideas of human evolution and potential. Several women and men with mediumistic tendencies founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875, and chapters soon emerged in Britain. Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and Rudolph Steiner were among its best-known members. Most of the forerunners of modern astrology in Britain were either members of the Theosophical Society or were heavily influenced by the theosophical movement.
One prominent society member was Alice Bailey, who wrote a book on esoteric astrology which she claimed to channel from a disincarnate Tibetan spiritual master. Bailey’s negative ethnic stereotyping diminishes the appeal of her work today, but in the early twentieth century she found a receptive audience for her astrological teachings. Another theosophist, Walter Gorn Old (aka Sepharial) was a founder in 1888 of a group that became the Astrological Lodge of London, the oldest astrological society today in the English-speaking world. Alan Leo, arguably the father of popular modern astrology, belonged to the Theosophical Society. These theosophists in turn influenced the next generation of humanistic astrologers like Dane Rudhyar and Alan Oken.
- Introduction articles in Theosophy (Katinka Hesselink)
- Alice A. Bailey, 1951, A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol 3: Esoteric Astrology. Lucis Trust
- Norman Davidson and May Laird-Brown , eds., 2001, Anthroposophy and Astrology : The Astronomical Letters of Elizabeth Vreede, SteinerBooks
- Alan Leo, 1989, Esoteric Astrology. Inner Traditions, Bear & Company
- Alan Oken, 1990, Soul-Centered Astrology: A Key to Your Expanding Self, Bantam Books
- Dane Rudhyar, 1936 (reprinted 1991), The Astrology of Personality, Aurora Press