Esotericism in the Midwest

Lisa:

Lee and I have been interested in esoteric subjects for many years and actually met in an comparative religions study group.

As part of this trip, we visited the national headquarters for two global associations we belong to- which both happen to be in the Midwest.

First up was the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, Illinois. Founded in the late 19th century by Russian mystic Helena Blavatsky, the group was formed to promote the universal brotherhood of man, encourage the study of comparative religions and explore latent capabilities in man.

The T.S’  gorgeous property in Wheaton, a suburb of Chicago, includes 20 acres, a lake and a fountain, ancient old trees and an amazing library on an array of occult subjects like astrology, meditation, Kabbalah and more.



It was a treat to rest there after going through the crazy traffic of the bustling world outside.

Unfortunately we only spent a few hours there as the TS was too full to house us this time and the area’s hotels were too expensive for our budget.

Next up was the Anthroposophical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This society was founded in 1913 by Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner, an ex-leader of the Theosophical Society. Steiner was very concerned with the practical application of esoteric ideas and inspired an array of groundbreaking initiatives including Waldorf education, biodynamic farming, eurythmy (a new form of dance), special education, alternative medicine, art and more.

Lee and I got interested in the movement through Waldorf education and hope to send our sons to a Waldorf-inspired charter school,

The A.S. is located in a three-story brick building that looks very similar to the fraternities and sororities nearby. Ann Arbor, located just 40 miles from Detroit, is home to the prestigious University of Michigan.

 The building is on a small lot with a backyard with a picnic table. Fortunately they were able to house us in their dorms. We got two adjoining rooms and use of their communal bathrooms/showers and kitchen. The floor was empty except for two male residents we barely saw.
One of the things that has always attracted me to Steiner’s work is his focus on beauty, the use of soft pastel colors and lots of light. The inside of this building didn’t disappoint.


 Of course, like all esoteric groups, they had a great library too. Lee and I took turns browsing through mystical books and making mental notes of what we would like to read at a future time.

 Let it be said we were treated fabulously by the association. They allowed us full access to the building. Wandering around on Sunday in the empty house reminded me of being a teen-ager on lock-in night at my huge old home Methodist church. They would give us free reign to explore at night. We look forward to visiting more Anthroposophical sites in NY in September.

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