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Radiance from Halcyon

A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science

2013
Author:

Paul Eli Ivey

Radiance from Halcyon

A revealing history of a surprisingly influential and inventive theosophical utopian community

Radiance from Halcyon is an intriguing account of how the little-known utopian religious community Halcyon—located on California’s central coast in the early 1900s—profoundly influenced modern science. Paul Eli Ivey’s narrative offers a wide-ranging cultural history, encompassing Theosophy, novel healing modalities, esoteric architecture, Native American concepts of community, socialist utopias, and innovative modern music.

As radiant as the utopian world it excavates, Paul Eli Ivey’s deeply researched and immensely original work provides an x-ray vision of an esoteric California on the edge of global Theosophy. Radiance from Halcyon is a mesmerizing tale of mystical kinship and communitarian experiments fusing architecture, landscape, music, and science that reverberate powerfully into the present.

Molly McGarry, author of Ghosts of Futures Past: Spiritualism and the Cultural Politics of Nineteenth-Century America

In May 1904, the residents of Halcyon—a small utopian community on California’s central coast—invited their neighbors to attend the grand opening of the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium. As part of the entertainment, guests were encouraged to have their hands X-rayed. For the founders and members of Halcyon, the X-ray was a demonstration of mysterious spiritual forces made practical to human beings.

Radiance from Halcyon is the story not only of the community but also of its uniquely inventive members’ contributions to religion and science. The new synthesis of religion and science attempted by Theosophy laid the foundation for advances produced by the children of the founding members, including microwave technology and atomic spectral analysis. Paul Eli Ivey’s narrative starts in the 1890s in Syracuse, New York, with the rising of the Temple of the People, a splinter group of the theosophical movement. After developing its ideals for an agricultural and artisanal community, the Temple purchased land in California and in 1903 began to live its dream there.

In addition to an intriguing account of how a little-known utopian religious community profoundly influenced modern science, Ivey offers a wide-ranging cultural history, encompassing Theosophy, novel healing modalities, esoteric architecture, Native American concepts of community, socialist utopias, and innovative modern music.

Radiance from Halcyon

Paul Eli Ivey is professor of art history at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894–1930.

Radiance from Halcyon

As radiant as the utopian world it excavates, Paul Eli Ivey’s deeply researched and immensely original work provides an x-ray vision of an esoteric California on the edge of global Theosophy. Radiance from Halcyon is a mesmerizing tale of mystical kinship and communitarian experiments fusing architecture, landscape, music, and science that reverberate powerfully into the present.

Molly McGarry, author of Ghosts of Futures Past: Spiritualism and the Cultural Politics of Nineteenth-Century America

Radiance from Halcyon is an excellent historical account of one utopian community that applied practically the principles of Theosophy as they understood them. It gives rich details of both highs and lows in the utopian experiment, all without losing the human dimension that made the community so attractive and enduring. Both thought-provoking and instructive.

Quest Magazine

Radiance from Halcyon provides a lively, clearly written exploration of a distinctive group that sought to combine religion, science, and utopian civic life. Scholars interested in those subjects, as well as material culture and architecture, will find some rich material here.

American Historical Review

A worthy contribution to the study of Theosophy, alternative medical practices, occult sciences, and communal studies.

Nova Religio

Paul Eli Ivey draws on an impressive array of archival material to detail the history of the Temple of the People and the expression of its beliefs in architecture, music, and art.

Technology and Culture

This well-researched and clearly written monograph effectively demonstrates once again that an institutional history can come alive when its author combines the best of cultural, intellectual, and biographical approaches. . .Ivey’s capable work has provided historians of science, medicine, and religion with a detailed and insightful view of a little-known American Progressive Era movement.

ISIS

Ivey’s carefully researched and clearly written Radiance from Halcyon calls attention to an important utopian religious group that deserves more attention, a group with a remarkable commitment to new ideas and a determination to embody them in an experimental community.

Journal of Religion

Radiance from Halcyon

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Organizing Theosophy in the United States

2. The Emergence of the Temple Movement in Syracuse

3. The Esoteric Temple of Humanity: Temple Theosophy and Occult Science

4. Building Kinship: The Iroquois League and the Exoteric Work of the Temple

5. Early Halcyon: The Temple Sets Its Foundations in the Golden West

6. The Temple Home Association: A Cooperative Commonwealth

7. An Architecture of Spiritual Forces: The Blue Star Memorial Temple

8. Forces of Nature and the Electric Panacea: Healing at the Halcyon Sanatorium

9. Dune Spirit, Harmony, and Dissonance: Music and Art at Halcyon

10. The Avatar Arrives: Spiritual Fulfillment and Scientific Advancement

Conclusion


Notes
Index