visingsö, the second point loma

I discovered something funny the other day while reading the newspaper. It was a real estate advertisment. It turned out that the old theosophical temple building, created by theosophist leader Kathrine Tingley a hundred years ago, is on the market.


According to the wikipedia article, Tingley, whose home base was Point Loma in California, visited Sweden in 1907. Batty royals can be counted on to support the esoteric, and after visiting the Swedish king, Oscar II, Tingley was given the opportunity to lease some land at Visingsö, an island in lake Vättern. She created her temple (today called Tempelgården), in the style of a classic greek temple (a copy of the Parthenon, supposedly), which you can view in the picture above. The temple has been (and still is) used for the display of art works, and for various theosophical activities (lectures and similar, I imagine). In the summer of 1913, an international theosophical peace congress was held at Visingsö.

Theosophists remained on the island for a few decades — among other things, they ran a theosophical summer school — but by the middle of the century their activity there had died out. Tingley herself died in 1929. In the honour of Kathrine Tingley, a passenger boat has been named after her. See! (According to that link, Tingley introduced electricity to Visingsö! That’s fascinating.)

I think you should seize the opportunity to view the estate agent’s photos (e g, temple exterior and interior) of the place while they’re still available; there are several peculiar (non-theosophical) buildings, apart from the temple itself. The price is almost shocking — less than 390 000 euro. Which is not a lot for that many buildings, lots of land, 60 fruit trees — and a theosophical temple!! The temple building, however, is not in its original location — it has been moved to its present spot from somewhere else on the island.

It’s important to remember that by this time — the early years of the past century — theosophy had already split. And would split again, in 1913, when Steiner too his followers and founded anthroposophy. In 1895, the american theosophical society proclaimed its independence from the Theosophical Society, with its international headquarters in Adyar, India, led by Annie Besant. Tingley headed the american organisation from 1897 and founded the Universal Brotherhood. Thus, even in Sweden, in the early 1900s at least two different theosophical organisations were active, the Theosophical Society (Adyar) and Tingley’s Universal Brotherhood.

Steiner, as you know, headed the german section of the Theosophical Society, based in Adyar, thus belonging to Besant’s organisation, until the split in january 1913. He had nothing to do with Tingley, as far as I know.

(Image borrowed from here. Unfortunately, I’ve failed to locate any other old images of the place. I’m sure they must exist. I fund this one picture from the 1913 congress, but it doesn’t show any of the buildings.)

(I’m asking for forgiveness in case of errors. My knowledge of Tingley and theosophical history is not what it should be.)