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Cuba, Theosophy in

In 1893 theosophy in Cuba was introduced by Don Juan Jose Jiménez y Serrano, Lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Civil Guard and Military Commandant of the City of Sancti Spiritus, Las Villas. Jiménez y Serrano came from the theosophical group of Madrid, Spain, who established the first Latin American lodge together with Francisco Monteliú de Tagore and Don Jose Xifré and Hannel, who were disciples of Helena P. BLAVATSKY. He also served as the President of the “Alicante” Branch of the Theosophical Society (TS) in the same Spanish city.

Among those who were with the first group were Manuel Janer Roman, teacher of primary schools and professor of English; Dr Ramon Rogina Carbonell, Doctor of Puerto and Miguel Muñoz Torval, professor of English. Their diplomas were sent to London on September 22, 1896. They were the earliest members of the Cuban Section. Later, Rufino Antañón, Agustín Marshall, Wenceslao Hernandez, Gabriel Benítez and Lorgio Vargas Garcia within just 15 years became members also of the first theosophical group of Cuba, under the leadership of Janer Roman.

During the War of Independence from 1895 to 1898, the group of Sancti Spíritus was virtually dissolved. Colonel Jiménez Serrano returned to Spain in 1895 and Janer Roman stayed in Mexico and returned after peace was signed.

After establishing his residence in Havana, Muñoz Torval reinitiated theosophical work there, along with Rogina Carbonell, and the second theosophical center in Cuba was established. Jose Maria Massó y Juncosa and Guillermo P. y González received their diplomas on December 4, 1898, and January 12, 1899, respectively.

The Act of Constitution of the Habana Lodge, the first theosophical lodge in Havana, was dated January 7, 1900. It had ten members under the presidency of Jose Maria Masó y Juncosa; Secretary, Guillermo Perez de Utrero; Treasurer, Horacio Arroya y Vocales; and Miguel R. Muñoz, Dr. Ramon Rogina Carbonell, Ricardo Ramirez, Jose Ferrera, Arturo Carricarto, Miguel Maria Romero and Hipólito Mora as members. The Constitutional Charter of the Lodge was sent to them by the American Section.

The City of Cienfuegos formed the third theosophical group that began in 1900, composed of Jose Torrado González-Llorente, Agustín Caramés, Ignacio Hernandez and Jose Terry. They communicated with Jose Maria Masó and on October 29, 1902, Sophia Lodge was officially established under the presidency of Jose González Llorente.

In 1903 the Bhajti Gyan Lodge was established in Sancti Spiritus.

Colonel Henry S. OLCOTT visited Cuba on September 20, 1903, and stayed for one month until the October 19, to received a bequest of one hundred thousand pesos donated by the Cuban theosophist Salvador de la Fuente Romero to the International Headquarters of the TS at Adyar and which was dedicated to “the work of the Teachers.” The Library of Adyar perpetuates his memory and his name appears at the top of the East facade. In 1905 a monument at the cemetery of Colon was put up in his memory as a symbol of gratitude and remembrance by the Adyar Headquarters.

Establishment of the Cuban Section. The Cuban Section of the Theosophical Society was organized under the Presidency of the Jose Maria Massó y Juncosa on January 25, 1905, by an order of Colonel H. S. Olcott to found the Section. The official communication on its establishment was by Massó on Feb. 7 of the same year. He continued acting as Temporary Secretary until June 5, 1905, the date of the First Convention where he was officially elected as General Secretary.

On January 25, 1905, the H. S. Olcott Lodge was founded in Havana, completing the seven lodges required for official recognition as a Section. Until that time, five lodges existed in Cuba and one in Costa Rica:

  • Annie Besant. January 20, 1901, Havana. Constitutional charter granted by the American Section, March 17, 1902.
  • Sophia. October 29,1902, Cienfuegos. Constitutional charter from Adyar.
  • Concord. 1902, Havana. 
  • Bhakti Gyan. 1903, Sancti Spíritus, Las Villas. 
  • Fraternidad. 1903, Banes, Oriente. 
  • Virya. 1904, San Jose, Costa Rica. 
  • H. S. Olcott. 1905, Havana. 

Col. Olcott designated the Cuban Section as the territorial headquarters of all lodges established in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Under the presidency of the Jose Maria Massó the number of lodges grew to 19, among them the Loto Blanco Lodge in 1905 and the Dharma Lodge of Matanzas in March 5, 1908. In addition ten lodges outside of Cuba were under the Cuban Section.

On June 20, 1908, Jose Maria Massó y Juncosa died. Rafael de Albear y Saint-Just succeeded him guiding the lodge commendably for 18 years. During this period, twenty-nine lodges were established: thirteen in Cuba, five in Puerto Rico, one in Guatemala, one in Colombia, one in Venezuela, two in Costa Rica and six in Mexico. On September 7, 1911, the Leadbeater Lodge was organized, with five members from the Lodge Bhakti Gyan and five new members. Later it acquired its own building.

By 1915, 42 lodges existed, 23 in Cuba and 19 in Latin America, with 614 members. In the period from 1916 to 1925, the Cuban Section grew and its organizational and dissemination work expanded. 17 new lodges were founded: six in Cuba, six in Mexico, one each in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico.

In Cuba several lodges showed vigor in their meetings: Annie Besant Lodge, Sophia Lodge, Dharma Lodge founded on March 5, 1908, in Matanzas, “Leadbeater” Lodge founded in 1911 in Sancti Spiritus and the Amor Lodge founded on April 10, 1922 in Santa Clara. Later several more lodges were established. Of these, the ones active at the present time are as follows: Kut-Humi Lodge founded on November 6, 1926; Heracles Lodge, on May 4, 1929; Mahachohan Lodge, on January 29, 1935; Marie Poutz Lodge, on May 27, 1935; Atma Lodge, on October 10, 1938; Lealtad Lodge, on January 26, 1946, and Devenir Lodge, on January 20, 1952, all in Havana.

The essential work of the Teosófica Society has been maintained through these years, flourishing during annual conventions, gatherings and other activities. The Annie Besant Lodge celebrated its centenary in January 2001 and the lodge Sophia Lodge celebrated its own in October 2002.

The General Secretaries of Cuban Sections are as follows: 

José María Massó y Juncosa Desde 1905-08
Rafael de Albear y Saint-Just, 1908-26
Edelmiro A. Félix, 1926-30
Dr. José Ramón Villaverde, 1930-33.
Salvador Sibecas, 1933-36.
Lorgio Vargas García, 1936-38.
Juan Cruz Bustillo, 1938.
Esther de la Peña, 1939-44
Andrea Moreau de Lariot, 1944
Armando Alfonso Ledón, 1945
María G. Duany, 1946
Celestino Aguilar Mora, 1948-49
Lorgio Vargas García. 1949-53
Ramón Melero Lobato, 1953-54
Juan Alfonso Sánchez, 1954-56
Armando Alfonso Ledón. 1956-58
Alfredo Puig Figueroa, 1959-61
Celestino Aguilar Mora. 1962-67
Dana Cruz Bustillo Artigas, 1968-73
Juan Bautista Rodríguez Oliva, 1974-79
Lelia Fernández Pagola, 1980-85
Luis Manuel Coloma Delgado, 1986-91
Lelia Fernández Pagola. 1992-1997
Gaspar Torres Martínez, 1998-2000
Nilda Venegas Bernal, 2001-02
Gaspar Torres Martínez 2003
Lelia Fernández Pagola, 2004-

G.T.M.

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