The Theosophical Society in America
The Theosophical Society is an organization founded in New York City in 1875 to investigate the nature of the Universe and humanity’s role within it, to promote spiritual exploration, and to form a nucleus of universal brotherhood without distinctions among all human beings. The Society is composed of students belonging to any religion or to none. Its members are united by their approval of the Society’s three Objects.
The Three Declared Objects of the Theosophical Society
- To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
- To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, science and the arts.
- To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.
Today the Society has branches in some seventy countries, with its international headquarters in Chennai, India.
The Theosophical Society is non-dogmatic and encourages independent exploration for each of us, in our own way. Some main ideas of Theosophy include the postulate that we are all expressions of the same life and that life and death merely represent phases in a continuous cycle of gaining and assimilating knowledge and experience. Further, we must learn to cooperate with one another in this world, and learn to live in harmony with the fundamental laws of the Universe as we evolve towards our ultimate spiritual enfoldment.
Members’ Meeting: 11 AM
Public Meeting: 12 PM
The National Capital Lodge meets weekly from October through May. In the summer months of June through September we meet every other week. All public meetings are FREE and open to the public. Check out our program lineup under Program. We are currently meeting via Zoom and if you want to be added to the mailing list please send us an email to DCLodgeTS@gmail.com.
If we have a hybrid meeting, it is indicated in our program. There is limited parking in the library parking lot in front of the building but there is street parking as well as a garage nearby. This library can easily be reached via the Metro system. The metro stop is Tenley Town.
Theosophy in the Nation’s Capital:
An Enduring Tradition of Discourse and Camaraderie
For over a century, the National Capital Lodge has provided a forum for religious, ethical and spiritual inquiry in a gentle, collegial atmosphere. The Washington DC Lodge of the Theosophical Society was established on April 13, 1897. Its charter was signed by Henry S. Olcott, one of the founders of the Society in the United States. The Lodge’s long and animated history is largely anecdotal, since its records have been lost at least twice over the last 114 years, and it has met in at least seven different locations. Now experiencing a renaissance, the contemporary National Capital Lodge is engaged in the regular study of Theosophy—the wisdom acquired by humanity as gleaned through comparative study of religion, philosophy, science and the arts.
In the early 1900s, the Washington DC Lodge numbered 150-200 members. Meetings were held at least several times a week for lectures, discussion and meditation, in what was referred to as “the Lodge Hall.” Reflecting the expansive nature of inquiry and learning of the theosophical movement, talks were offered in a wide field of subjects ranging from philosophy to the study of Esperanto. The Lodge operated a sizable library of about 2500 books, key volumes of which have been retained to the present time. One of the earliest locations of the DC Lodge was the 300 block of A St. NE; later the Lodge occupied space on the second floor of a building at 1216 H St NW. Reminiscences of the early days of the Washington DC Lodge were offered in a talk given by Victor Russell at a meeting celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Lodge in 1973. (Please see the attachment below for a verbatim copy of Victor Russell’s talk.)
Unfortunately, reflecting a crisis of leadership of the global and national theosophical movements beginning in the 1920s, the Washington DC Lodge was fractured by breakaway groups, which for the most part were unable to sustain themselves, while a residual core of members persevered in upholding the original DC Lodge. One of the splinter groups, which called itself “The Lightbringers,” existed independently for some two decades but merged back with the DC Lodge in the 1940s. Sadly, membership in the DC Lodge declined on account of the factionalism.
From the 1950s to the present, the Washington DC Lodge settled into a small, congenial group of individuals interested in learning and discussing religion and spirituality in a context of open-minded inquiry. In the 1990s, the Lodge met in a building it owned that also served as a residence for some members who paid rent; later the Lodge maintained a meeting room and its library in office space on Wisconsin Avenue in Upper Northwest DC. Due to rising costs of leased space, the Lodge downsized and donated the bulk of its books and archival material to the New Alexandrian Library, recently established in Delaware. From 2007 to 2013, meetings were held at the Washington DC West End Branch Library. Due to renovation of that library, the Lodge moved in 2014 to the Georgetown Neighborhood Library where it currently meets. In 2011 the Washington DC Lodge voted to begin informally referring to itself as the “National Capital Lodge” in order to reflect the more inclusive scope of the greater Washington area, including the suburbs of Northern Virginia and Maryland. The Lodge also commissioned a new Seal to reflect its renewed identity and to celebrate its 115th Anniversary in April 2012.
As soon as the libraries were closed due to the pandemic we started meeting via Zoom. Beginning in January 2023, we decided to meet once a month face-to-face and are now meeting at the Southwest Library in Washington D.C., 900 Wesley PL SW DC.