Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Robert S. EllwoodEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_696

“Divine Wisdom,” is a system of thought emphasizing mystical insight into the inner workings of the divine nature. The term is often used more restrictively to refer to the modern movement inaugurated by the creation of the Theosophical Society in New York in 1975. The principal founders were the enigmatic Russian noblewoman Helena P. Blavatsky (1831–1891) and the US lawyer and journalist Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907).

Blavatsky articulated an ideological basis for modern Theosophy in her writings, especially the monumental Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888). Olcott in turn was the first president of the organization. In his inaugural address of 1875, he referred to the conflict between religion and science which so disturbed many Victorian minds, perceiving both pulpit and laboratory as, in his day, representing shallow, dogmatic views of truth. The real solution, he contended, lays in the rediscovery of an “Ancient Wisdom” known in former times but now nearly...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA