On january 31, 1913, a number of swedish theosophists and anthroposophists-to-be gathered in the apartment of lieutenant-colonel Gustaf Kinell, former general secretary of the Theosophical Society, to form the new Anthroposophical Society; that is, they were theosophists who chose to follow Steiner rather than to remain with theosophy. It was one of the first national societies to be formed. Gustaf Kinell had announced that he wanted to resign from his post in the Theosophical Society already around new year. On january 26, he held a lecture in which he attacked Annie Besant, which upset her fans, who subsequently demanded his resignation as the society’s president. Both Kinell and the Society’s vice president chose to resign after a meeting a couple of days later. They, and the other members, who had chosen to leave, then convened in a meeting at Kinell’s apartment to constitute the Anthroposophical Society in Sweden and at the same time to elect a board of directors (Kinell became its president). 39 members were present at the constitution and by the end of the year, the Anthroposophical Society numbered around 70. The first annual meeting was held in Stockholm that summer, in june, with Steiner present.
In 1926, writing in the Anthroposophical Society’s newsletter about the occurrences of 1912/13 and the split between theosophy and the new anthroposophical movement, Kinell echoed Steiner when he tried to explain the motivations that guided his decision to leave the theosophists behind: ‘What good is it to say: “We are not a sect”, if we behave as though we were a sect.’ He didn’t want to be in a cult, so that was why he chose to leave theosophy, believing, one must assume, that Steiner’s new movement would be something better. Actually, I think he must either be quoting Steiner directly or paraphrasing him strongly. (I took notes from the old magazines for another purpose — a project of which nothing has come so far — and it was long ago, can barely decipher what I’ve written, and the only information I can derive from them is that Kinell included this in an article in 1926! Translation from swedish is my own. It might be appropriate to change ‘sect’ to ‘cult’.) Kinell was an interesting man, who had turned a theosophist in the 1880s; he had a career in the military, he taught mathematics (and wrote books on mathematics and geometry), and was also an activist for incineration. He served many years as a general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society, translated Steiner’s works from german to swedish and wrote articles in the Society’s journal.
If you wonder what the significance of that image is. None, really, except it shows a glimpse of Västmannagatan 69, near Odenplan (Odin’s place!), where Kinell lived, and where the anthroposophists met on january 31, 1913. It used to be something of a headquarters for the Society, and it was its official address, during the early years. The photo was taken today, in rain and dirt, because I had an errand to take care of at Odenplan. I’m looking north on Västmannagatan and if my calculations are correct, number 69 is the second building after Hotel Oden. (There’s first one building clad in multi-coloured bricks, and then we have number 69.) Here’s an old photo, from 1914, of the same street, and to the right is the church I was standing next to while taking my picture today. Now, keep your eyes steady around the fourth floor of that building, on my photo, focus your attention, and you will soon be able to notice some suspicious ghost-like beings hovering outside, above the street and in relentless rain. They look rather haunted, don’t you think? I strongly suspect one of them is Kinell, who keeps chanting, unheard and somewhat desperately by now, ‘you weren’t supposed to make it into a cult!’