Author(s): Jill Roe
Abounding with larger-than-life characters, 'Searching for the Spirit' traces the history of theosophy from its rise in the 1870s through its heyday in the 1920s to its relative decline in the 1930s. Although always tangential as a quasi-religious spiritual movement, it had an effect disproportionate to its numbers and paved the way for more recent spiritual movements that bloomed in the 1960s. Australians have long been fascinated by Eastern religions, and theosophy, with its blending of the exotic with the practical and more rationalist impetus of the early twentieth century, proved irresistibly attractive. Led by its magnetic exponents - Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater and Krishnamurti - it attracted many Australians, including prominent figures such as Alfred Deakin and Walter Burley Griffin. Theosophy was often derided for its embracing of the mystical, but it also offered a rational and humanistic aspect to its teaching - its motto was 'There is no religion higher than truth'. It was in the vein of progressive education, modern music, the spiritual in art, equality of the sexes and feminism, and had a powerful voice through Sydney's radio 2GB. Jill Roe, academic and author, published the first edition of this book in 1986 as 'Beyond Belief'. It has long been out of print, and this new, revised edition, as 'Searching for the Spirit', makes available this fascinating and little known side of Australia's spiritual history.