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Radiance from Halcyon

A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science

Paul Eli Ivey

Publication Year: 2013

In May 1904, the residents of Halcyon—a small utopian community on California’s central coast—invited their neighbors to attend the grand opening of the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium. As part of the entertainment, guests were encouraged to have their hands X-rayed. For the founders and members of Halcyon, the X-ray was a demonstration of mysterious spiritual forces made practical to human beings.

Radiance from Halcyon is the story not only of the community but also of its uniquely inventive members’ contributions to religion and science. The new synthesis of religion and science attempted by Theosophy laid the foundation for advances produced by the children of the founding members, including microwave technology and atomic spectral analysis. Paul Eli Ivey’s narrative starts in the 1890s in Syracuse, New York, with the rising of the Temple of the People, a splinter group of the theosophical movement. After developing its ideals for an agricultural and artisanal community, the Temple purchased land in California and in 1903 began to live its dream there.

In addition to an intriguing account of how a little-known utopian religious community profoundly influenced modern science, Ivey offers a wide-ranging cultural history, encompassing Theosophy, novel healing modalities, esoteric architecture, Native American concepts of community, socialist utopias, and innovative modern music.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xiii

I first visited the small township of Halcyon, California, on an afternoon in early 1998 in order to see its unique theosophical temple, part of a larger project I was working on concerning the built environments of American alternative religions in California that taught the unity of world...

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pp. 1-11

With utopian visions both messianic and practical, a new cooperative colony was established in the Arroyo Grande valley of California in 1903. Named Halcyon and organized by a new theosophical movement called the Temple, it was an attempt to practice the Christian Golden...

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Chapter 1: Organizing Theosophy in the United States

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pp. 13-33

By the mid-nineteenth century, traditional Protestant churches were steadily challenged by the rise of new immigrants in the urban environment, many of them Catholic, and by the shifts in class demographics that industrialization produced. Churches were also confronted with new...

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Chapter 2: The Emergence of the Temple Movement in Syracuse

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pp. 35-57

In March 1898, Dower made his bid for the leadership of American Theosophy. He wrote to the members of the Syracuse group and told them that the various theosophical organizations vying for power after Judge’s death had forgotten the “real work” of preparing an instrument to be used...

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Chapter 3: The Esoteric Temple of Humanity: Temple Theosophy and Occult Science

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pp. 59-79

Theosophywas a movement whose syncretic tendencies used ancient religions as a point of departure to outline a new creative spiritual synthesis based in the history of Western esotericism. Theosophy also borrowed many of its ideas from the East and created a very abstract notion of God in...

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Chapter 4: Building Kinship: The Iroquois League and the Exoteric Work of the Temple

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pp. 81-98

One of the most important emphases of the early Temple movement was also characteristic of the broader theosophical field: to demonstrate that the kinship of humanity was a natural and practical position as well as a spiritual one. It was a matter of urgency. Dower believed that not only human progress but also humankind’s very survival rested on the ability of...

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Chapter 5: Early Halcyon: The Temple Sets Its Foundations in the Golden West

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pp. 99-124

The Temple theosophists were part of a middle-class migration into California that took place between 1900 and 1920 as a “second wave” from the East Coast. Many of these migrants believed that California represented an ideal where nature and social setting provided the fundamentals...

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Chapter 6: The Temple Home Association: A Cooperative Commonwealth

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pp. 125-142

For thirteen years, Halcyon intentionally attempted to create economic conditions of equality for all who lived there, as part of its mission to establish a community based on the most advanced social science. After their experiences and attempts at organizing the League of Brotherhoods...

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Chapter 7: An Architecture of Spiritual Forces: The Blue Star Memorial Temple

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pp. 143-160

In the 1890s, theosophists were poised to build their own edifices for worship and education. What would such structures look like? As they began to conceive permanent buildings, schism occurred. Newspapers speculated about the creation of a new college, already planned by Judge, and in 1896...

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Chapter 8: Forces of Nature and the Electric Panacea: Healing at the Halcyon Sanatorium

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pp. 161-191

The early 1900s could be called the Age of the Sanatorium, as hundreds of these healing centers sprung up in Europe and across the United States to treat nervous disorders, chronic conditions and addictions, insanity, and particularly tuberculosis.1 The Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium, opened in...

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Chapter 9: Dune Spirit, Harmony, and Dissonance: Music and Art at Halcyon

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pp. 193-215

According to The Secret Doctrine, music was part of the evolution of the forces of the universe, “proceeding and evolving in seven tones, which are the seven notes of the musical scale.” As an ancient division of mathematics, music was the vibrational sounding board of the cosmos and represented...

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Chapter 10: The Avatar Arrives: Spiritual Fulfillment and Scientific Advancement

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pp. 217-235

By 1929, the Year of Fulfillment, the realization of the presence of the Avatar or Christos became a daily assignment for each Temple member as the Christos incarnated, heart by heart and mind by mind. The Temple was charged with preparing a place for the Avatar to stay—a magnetic field...

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pp. 237-241

Today there are more than fifty small homes in the hundredacre township of Halcyon, many of them still owned by the Temple. Temple services and community gatherings are regular, the noon healing service is held in the temple every day, and the organization has active groups in Germany...


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pp. 243-299


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pp. 301-312

About the Author

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pp. 313-329

E-ISBN-13: 9781452939537
E-ISBN-10: 1452939535
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816680511

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013