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Norway, Theosophy in

The first Norwegian to officially join the Theosophical Society (TS) was Henrik Anton Alme (1847-1939) who was a painter of signs. In 1891 he became a member of the Swedish Theosophical Society, which was established in Stockholm in 1889. Later, Alme joined a theosophical organization which supported William Q. JUDGE, which was established in 1896 in Norway. Also, Alme established the Aurovanga Teosofiske Selskap (30 members in 1913) under the TS in America. This society was based on a theosophical interpretation of the ancient Nordic mythology. In 1892 the Elfwing couple joined and also Colonel Thomas Knoft. These three together with Alme published and distributed a theosophical introduction pamphlet. Elfwin became chairman of the first lodge, the Norwegian Lodge in Kristiania (Oslo), chartered on September 3, 1893.

The Swedish TS was changed to the Scandinavia TS in 1895 and had, in 1901, 492 members of which 40 were Norwegians; by 1908, 91 were Norwegians.

Cand Jur Bernt Christian Sverdrup Torsteinson (1846 - 1925) was the first to distribute theosophical literature throughout Norway although he was a spiritualist and not a theosophist and by 1887 he sold and lent books by Helena P. BLAVATSKY, Henry S. OLCOTT and Alfred P. SINNETT. A library was begun in 1894 and by 1896 had 130 titles. In 1895 the Norske Teosofiske Forlag was started and Annie Besant’s book Reincarnation was translated into Norwegian. The magazine Balder, 1897-1902, was short lived, but later Norsk Teosofisk Tidsskrift was published.

Dr. Philos Richard Eriksen (1869-1941) was very active in the TS. Later, however, he joined the Antroposofisk Selskap (Anthroposophical Society), when this was established in 1913. He was the most internationally known theosophist in Norway.

Eva Blytt (1867 - ?) became the first General Secretary when the Norwegian Section was established in 1913. Born in Bergen and having private means, she came to Oslo in 1890 as a proof reader for the newspaper Morgenbladet. She studied in Germany and was correspondent for the newspaper Bergens Tidene. She lived for four years in London and met Annie Besant there in 1901. She went to Adyar in the fall of 1911 and returned in the fall of 1912. Eva Blytt participated in starting the publishing firm Blytt & Lund Forlag, and was one of the most influential theosophists in Norway.

In 1894-95, two other important members joined: Agent Johannes Lundgren (d. 1928) and language teacher Carl Sjostedt (1860-1916). The latter joined the Point Loma Theosophical Society and became a very important member of it.

The first association was with the TS in Sweden, made at the time of H. P. Blavatsky’s death in 1891. The first theosophists were Spiritualists who belonged to a homogeneous Lutheran society. But the split in the TS following the Judge controversy deeply affected theosophical work in Norway and those early theosophists split into two groups in 1896, one remaining with Adyar and one affiliated with Point Loma. The latter group died out about 1938. The Norwegian Section affiliated with Adyar was chartered in 1913 with 208 members and 11 Lodges; its headquarters was in Oslo, where they have always remained. Its highest membership was 384 in 1921, however just prior to WWII, the membership was 193, afterwards dropping to 105. The German occupiers did not forbid the TS or the Antroposofisk Selskar, as they did in Germany; however all theosophical activities came to a halt during the war years. Membership varied considerably after the War: by 1958 it was 165; in 1985 it was about 100; in 1992 it was about 55; and in 1998 it was about 40. More recently, the only active lodges have been Dharma Lodge in Oslo and Bergen Lodge. Except for a short period before WWII, the Section has never owned property; activities took place in a number of rented locations, especially in Oslo, or in members’ homes. For instance, from 1960 to 1987, activities were in Ernst Nielsen’s home at Oscarsgt 11, Oslo. A will was established in 1963 for the TS to take over that property, but the property later was lost. The activities then moved to rented quarters at Grenhuset, Korsgt 16; the Section library was packed in boxes and placed in an attic. Many initiatives have been taken since 1993 to revive the Section.

Resolution of various internal conflicts was the main issue at the National Convention in 1929. In an effort to resolve these conflicts, the following statement was agreed upon: “To bring The Secret Doctrine to the fore in coming generations.”

Trigve Buchhodlt was the first LIBERAL CATHOLIC priest in Norway, ordained in 1927. Subsequently, Erling Havrevold, Julius Michelsen, and Tvedt Tom Deganaars were ordained to the priesthood, the latter later consecrated a bishop. Unfortunately, they left Norway about 1995, so there has not been any LCC activity in Norway since that time.

Of importance was the co-operative project between Sweden, Denmark, and Norway regarding a common magazine, Teosofi I Norden, which was issued four times a year. This lasted from 1960 to 1986 and brought those Sections somewhat together in common support. Since 1986, the Section magazine became Teosofi I Norge, in 1996 upgraded to Teosofi I Tiden. The Section By-Laws were revised and approved by the Adyar headquarters on February 17, 1995.

General Secretaries:

1913 - 1915 Eva Blytt
1916 - 1917 A. Verhag
1920 - 1927 Agnes Martina Sparre
1928 Erling Havrevold
1929 Ernst Nielsen
1930 H. O. Sverrild
1931 - 1935 Julius Michelsen
1936 - 1939 Dagny Zading
1940 - 1944 No report
1945 - 1953 Ernst Nielsen
1954 - 1956 Erling Havrevold
1957 - 1962 Ernst Nielsen
1963 - 1975 Ruth Wessel Nielsen
1976 - 1980 Hilda Fraser
1981 - 1984 Tom Degenaars
1985 - 1989 Agnes Gilsemyr
1990 - 1992 Marianne Chen
1993 - Torstein A. Tobiassen