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Radiance from Halcyon

Radiance from Halcyon: A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science

Paul Eli Ivey
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Radiance from Halcyon
    Book Description:

    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 Halcyonis 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3953-7
    Subjects: History, Religion, History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-12)

    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 Rule in a communal setting of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Nearly a year after they arrived, on Wednesday, May 25, 1904, members invited other residents of the Central Coast to tour the building and grounds and to attend the grand opening of the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium, the first nature-cure hospital in the region. At an evening...

    (pp. 13-34)

    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 scientific theories, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, published inThe Origin of Speciesin 1859, which overarched well-worn theological stories with the vision and insights of science. Soon the Calvinist hold on Protestant seminaries began to lessen with the rise of a religious liberalism that emphasized Jesus’s humane teachings, often within a Unitarian and Universalist framework, that taught the...

    (pp. 35-58)

    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 by the Lodge of Masters to restore to humanity its lost spiritual heritage. These organizations were “as creed bound as the Christian churches and other religious sects.” Dower argued that while they were “thus torn apart and antagonistic, the real work of the movement, more far reaching than the interest of any...

  7. 3 THE ESOTERIC TEMPLE OF HUMANITY Temple Theosophy and Occult Science
    (pp. 59-80)

    Theosophy was 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 the process, as it blended elements from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity with lesser-known occult sources such as Egyptian Hermeticism and Jewish Kabbalah. About the personal conception of the “God of the Christians, the Father of Jesus, [and] the Biblical God of Moses,” Blavatsky responded that the “God of theology” was a “bundle...

  8. 4 BUILDING KINSHIP The Iroquois League and the Exoteric Work of the Temple
    (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 human beings to create a peaceful world of kinship. He committed much of the early Temple movement’s energy to establishing what he viewed as the necessary foundation of all other Temple work, the equalizing and harmonizing of the dualities...

  9. 5 EARLY HALCYON The Temple Sets Its Foundations in the Golden West
    (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 that would allow them to attempt to establish a “new life.” This ideal was health, popularized in the later nineteenth century through the widespread idea that California was the land of restorative climate. Health seekers flocked to Southern California in droves in the 1880s, enough to call it a “health rush,” and set up a “sanatorium...

  10. 6 THE TEMPLE HOME ASSOCIATION A Cooperative Commonwealth
    (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 between 1899 and 1902, a group of Temple members started their own colony of Halcyon, not beholden to any larger national organization, in order to demonstrate the rules of scientific kinship and health necessary to establish a foundation for the religious and scientific progress yet to come.

    In early 1903, a letter went out to Temple...

  11. 7 AN ARCHITECTURE OF SPIRITUAL FORCES The Blue Star Memorial Temple
    (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 reported that it would be built in Boston, or perhaps California. TheWashington Postdescribed what the theosophists desired:

    In the building of this college there will be exactness down to the very inch. There is a reason for this. Occult philosophy holds that the whole universe is constructed on lines of pure geometry...

  12. 8 FORCES OF NATURE AND THE ELECTRIC PANACEA Healing at the Halcyon Sanatorium
    (pp. 161-192)

    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 May 1904, was a private institution treating nervous disorders, alcoholism, and chronic diseases. The healing practices used there were based on the expertise of Dr. William Dower, who wanted to place healing on what he thought of as a more spiritual basis. That this would be based significantly in electricity and so-called radiant rays was...

  13. 9 DUNE SPIRIT, HARMONY, AND DISSONANCE Music and Art at Halcyon
    (pp. 193-216)

    According toThe 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 the metaphysical to the physical. Moreover, music developed emotion in the human race, making it a factor in the evolution of the soul. It was considered the greatest of all of the arts, because it revealed and made immortality real, since music was the “soul of Art” that spoke “to us...

  14. 10 THE AVATAR ARRIVES Spiritual Fulfillment and Scientific Advancement
    (pp. 217-236)

    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 of combined hearts that would focus and radiate the Avatar’s power to the entire world. This was the true incarnation of the Christos. Temple members were constantly reminded of Hilarion’s message:

    You must never lose sight of one fact. The higher purpose, the aim of all those who are...

    (pp. 237-242)

    Today there are more than fifty small homes in the hundred-acre 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, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and Canada. Many who live in Halcyon are still members of the Temple; others are simply proud Halcyonites, with little interest in Theosophy. Most who live in Halcyon work in the surrounding communities; they are teachers, contractors, social workers, administrators, doctors, artists, musicians, clerks, and students, among...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 243-300)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 301-312)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-314)