Definition of theosophy in US English:



  • Any of a number of philosophies maintaining that a knowledge of God may be achieved through spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual relations, especially the movement founded in 1875 as the Theosophical Society by Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907).

    • ‘Jung of course was famously sceptical of theosophy.’
    • ‘His belief in the spiritual power of art was related to his adherence to certain doctrines of theosophy, a cult that promoted deeper spiritual reality through intuition, meditation, and other transcendental states.’
    • ‘Once settled, he sought out people with whom he could share some of his cultural traditions - those free-thinkers who had taken up vegetarianism and theosophy.’
    • ‘This is especially important now that so many people are under the spell of all manner of religious and surrogate dogmas ranging from Blavatsky's theosophy to Hubbard's scientology.’
    • ‘She speaks admiringly of Madame Blavatsky, theosophy's founder, as well as England's leading theosophists Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater.’
    • ‘In time, like many leading artists of the day, she became interested in theosophy as a way of knowing God.’
    • ‘Today this agnosticism informs many of the New Age and other religious movements which appeared in the sixties as well as some movements from the last century, such as theosophy.’
    • ‘Madame Blavatsky, one of the founders and best-known practitioners of theosophy, was particularly influential.’
    • ‘The period when he fancied that he was a medium didn't last more than two or three years, and he wasn't the only Prime Minister interested in spiritual matters or in theosophy or spiritualism.’
    • ‘He reprimands Dominique for laughing at theosophy, something Mrs. Marsh believes in, and tells her she should have worn her emerald bracelet.’
    • ‘In 1880 he came into contact with theosophy and after renouncing his European name, he moved to their Society headquarters, near Madras, where he studied Buddhism.’
    • ‘She had a long spiritual journey, flirting at points with theosophy as well as the Roman Catholic Church.’
    • ‘He wanted to set up a secret community which would be based on a mixture of unusual beliefs involving both the worship of his own son, Jack, and the tenets of the then-fashionable credo of theosophy.’
    • ‘The theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, which he discovered at the beginning of 1905 and rarely referred to in his letters, merely lent form and jargon to certain aspects of the delusion.’
    • ‘From mesmerism and animal magnetism to theosophy and beyond, Gamwell chronicles with great seriousness attempts by modern artists to explore immanentist spiritualities.’
    • ‘Instead, she says that she devoted her study to astral projection and theosophy, hoping to find an answer.’
    • ‘At the same time his interest in Indian thought and theosophy led him to the Dublin Hermetic Society.’
    • ‘This in turn led to the aesthetics of expressionism, and also to the emergence of gnostic theosophy, which similarly sought to controvert nihilism rather than allow the human will to be vanquished.’
    • ‘In the early 1890s, she became a leading exponent of the religious movement of theosophy (emphasizing an individual spiritual awareness of God), and went to live in India.’
    • ‘In 1889 her views shifted to theosophy, of which she became the leader, and in 1894 she moved to India, where she devoted the rest of her life to Indian nationalism.’
    • ‘This is dangerous stuff, according to Blavatsky, but theosophy can help.’
    • ‘Walter did not allow Blavatsky's death to lessen his involvement with theosophy.’


Mid 17th century: from medieval Latin theosophia, from late Greek, from theosophos ‘wise concerning God’, from theos ‘god’ + sophos ‘wise’.