Radiance from Halcyon
A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science
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
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes
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I first visited the small township of Halcyon, California, on an after-noon in early 1998 in order to see its unique theosophical temple, part ofa larger project I was working on concerning the built environments ofAmerican alternative religions in California that taught the unity of worldreligions. I did not anticipate Halcyon’s rich intersection of religion, com-...
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...cooperative colony was established in the Arroyo Grande valley of Califor-nia in 1903. Named Halcyon and organized by a new theosophical move-ment called the Temple, it was an attempt to practice the Christian GoldenRule in a communal setting of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Nearly ayear after they arrived, on Wednesday, May 25, 1904, members invited...
Chapter 1: Organizing Theosophy in the United States
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...were steadily challenged by the rise of new immigrants in the urban envi-ronment, many of them Catholic, and by the shifts in class demographicsthat industrialization produced. Churches were also confronted with newscientific theories, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, published in TheOrigin of Species in 1859, which overarched well-worn theological stories...
Chapter 2: The Emergence of the Temple Movement in Syracuse
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In March 1898, Dower made his bid for the leadership of AmericanTheosophy. He wrote to the members of the Syracuse group and told themthat the various theosophical organizations vying for power after Judge’sdeath had forgotten the “real work” of preparing an instrument to be usedby the Lodge of Masters to restore to humanity its lost spiritual heritage....
Chapter 3: The Esoteric Temple of Humanity: Temple Theosophy and Occult Science
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Theosophy was a movement whose syncretic tendencies used ancient reli-gions as a point of departure to outline a new creative spiritual synthesisbased in the history of Western esotericism. Theosophy also borrowedmany of its ideas from the East and created a very abstract notion of God inthe process, as it blended elements from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chris-...
Chapter 4: Building Kinship: The Iroquois League and the Exoteric Work of the Temple
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...ment was also characteristic of the broader theosophical field: to demon-strate that the kinship of humanity was a natural and practical position as wellas a spiritual one. It was a matter of urgency. Dower believed that not onlyhuman progress but also humankind’s very survival rested on the ability ofhuman beings to create a peaceful world of kinship. He committed much...
Chapter 5: Early Halcyon: The Temple Sets Its Foundations in the Golden West
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The Temple theosophists were part of a middle-class migration intoCalifornia that took place between 1900 and 1920 as a “second wave” fromthe East Coast. Many of these migrants believed that California repre-sented an ideal where nature and social setting provided the fundamentalsthat would allow them to attempt to establish a “new life.” This ideal was...
Chapter 6: The Temple Home Association: A Cooperative Commonwealth
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For thirteen years, Halcyon intentionally attempted to create eco-nomic conditions of equality for all who lived there, as part of its missionto establish a community based on the most advanced social science. Aftertheir experiences and attempts at organizing the League of Brotherhoodsbetween 1899 and 1902, a group of Temple members started their own...
Chapter 7: An Architecture of Spiritual Forces: The Blue Star Memorial Temple
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In the 1890s, theosophists were poised to build their own edifices for wor-ship and education. What would such structures look like? As they beganto conceive permanent buildings, schism occurred. Newspapers speculatedabout the creation of a new college, already planned by Judge, and in 1896reported that it would be built in Boston, or perhaps California. The Wash-...
Chapter 8: Forces of Nature and the Electric Panacea: Healing at the Halcyon Sanatorium
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The early 1900s could be called the Age of the Sanatorium, as hundredsof these healing centers sprung up in Europe and across the United Statesto treat nervous disorders, chronic conditions and addictions, insanity, andparticularly tuberculosis.1 The Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium, opened inMay 1904, was a private institution treating nervous disorders, alcoholism,...
Chapter 9: Dune Spirit, Harmony, and Dissonance: Music and Art at Halcyon
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According to The Secret Doctrine, music was part of the evolution ofthe forces of the universe, “proceeding and evolving in seven tones, whichare the seven notes of the musical scale.” As an ancient division of mathe-matics, music was the vibrational sounding board of the cosmos and rep-resented the metaphysical to the physical. Moreover, music developed...
Chapter 10: The Avatar Arrives: Spiritual Fulfillment and Scientific Advancement
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By 1929, the Year of Fulfillment, the realization of the presence ofthe Avatar or Christos became a daily assignment for each Temple memberas the Christos incarnated, heart by heart and mind by mind. The Templewas charged with preparing a place for the Avatar to stay—a magnetic fieldof combined hearts that would focus and radiate the Avatar’s power to the...
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...acre township of Halcyon, many of them still owned by the Temple. Templeservices and community gatherings are regular, the noon healing service isheld in the temple every day, and the organization has active groups in Ger-many, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and Canada. Many who live inHalcyon are still members of the Temple; others are simply proud Halcy-...
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About the Author
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Paul Eli Ivey is associate professor in the College of Fine Artsat the University of Arizona and the author of Prayers in Stone: Christian...
Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013