On September 6, the 2008 Annual TheosoFest began, opening its doors to hundreds of people who were anxious to spend time in the discussion.
It has been said that before Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) died, she encouraged her followers to “Keep the link unbroken.” Since that time, every new generation of members of the Theosophical Society have helped the Society to explore through open-minded inquests into world religions, philosophy, and science in order to understand the wisdom of the ages, the value and unity of all life forms, and assist people in exploring their own spiritual self-transformation by spreading Theosophy.
For decades, Theosophists have been studying the relationships between religion, science, and philosophy, carrying back to the 1870s when Blavatsky, assisted by lawyer Henry Steel Olcott, founded the Theosophical Society.
During the 1920s, the organization designed and constructed a building to house their administrative headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. This structure now houses the Olcott Library, a massive two-story collection of rare books on science, philosophy, and various world religions.
The celebration of the American Theosophical Society, otherwise known as “TheosoFest,” has commenced in Wheaton, Illinois every year since 1993. It originally took place in the middle of the summer, but was eventually moved to early fall. The annual event is always highly anticipated and the attendees are eager to take part.
This sort of “open house” get-together has enabled the Society to open its doors to approach a wide circle of curious people from the local community and from all of the various Chicago suburbs.
On September 6, the 2008 Annual TheosoFest began, opening its doors to hundreds of people who were anxious to spend time in the discussion of ancient methods of healing with Ruben Cabigting, John Robertson, and Pamela Myers. In addition, they were able to learn healing techniques with Rachel Madorsky, Marilyn Johnston, Ross Mattax, and Lydia Van den Broeck. Ted Utchen, John Cianciosi, Bhikkhuni Vimala oversaw quiet mind meditations in the Meditation Room, and Jack Hatfield; and storytelling groups were hosted by Maria Ziemer, Corey Bard, and Sharon Door. For those who wanted to open their hearts to “Love & Romance in Astrology,” Dave Gunning did a presentation in the magnificent oldest building of the Theosophical Society.
In addition to all of this information and learning, the attendees were entertained with musical programs led by Stephanie Boesso, Juliana Cesano, Dan Smolla, Wendy Warnimont, Clar and Gigi Monaco. The musical program finished with Drumming Circle by Karen Tlusty.
While some of the attendees chose to stay in the various rooms waiting for the next program to begin, others opted to move to events more suited to their interests. Some preferred to spend time outside to wander the forty-two acres of trees and water displays that are dispersed among the Theosophical Society of America’s national headquarters, as well as the offices for the Society’s publishing house, Quest Books.
There were many enlightening experiences available on the grounds, including walking the Labyrinth at high noon and enjoying the Birds Bath with Renee Luana, the Hulagans, Ben Furman, and Renee Ryan. The Birds Bath and musical programs were especially enjoyable to families who had brought their children along.
One of the most impressive facets of TheosoFest is that it is such a well-organized program with so many capable volunteers. Dozens of these charitable people keep the event going smoothly even in the midst of so many programs and vendors involved in the celebration of Theosophy.
Every auditorium and room has an assigned volunteer who patiently and courteously assists with the opening and closing programs, and everything is scheduled to a tee and clearly exhibited to make things easier for the attendees and the program hosts. The volunteer staff is an invaluable, integral part of this successful annual event.
There are many able-bodied and intelligent people behind the scenes as well who offer diligent service months in advance to make sure that TheosoFest is a success. Joann Flower, Coordinator of the Department of Public Programming, and Diana Cabigting obviously spent hours of labor in preparation of the event, searching for the most interesting, knowledgeable speakers from dozens of applications, inviting the vendors, and organizing publicity.
While vendors are not always looked upon as a good thing, the vendors at TheosoFest have a lot to offer. Some of those who attended this year were new to the event, while others have been to past ones. Services that were offered by these vendors ranged from plumbing to alternative health centers, wellness consulting to various nonprofit organizations.
Visitors could also shop at the kiosks and booths for art, jewelry, clothes, and crystals, or even enjoy a spiritual consulting. The Quest bookshop was very busy, as usual, with hundreds of buyers or browsers in a very friendly spiritual environment. Because it is a vegetarian campus, food vendors were limited, but two local ones sold vegetarian foods and drinks.
I had the opportunity to act as a presenter of “Learn to Create Your Own Healing Techniques” and vendor for the first time at this year’s annual TheosoFest, and I was amazed at how the room where I was speaking overflowed with listeners of all ages—people in their early twenties to those far beyond upper middle-age.
It is clear that the participants of TheosoFest desire to learn and practice ideas and exercises that will prove beneficial to them, and the Theosophical Society has given them a fine environment for doing so, filled with a pure energy, spirit, and memories of the founders, Madam Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott. In the corridor connecting the hall with the library, portraits of these founders hang to this day, and it is as if you can feel their spirit touching your soul as you glance upon them.
TheosoFest 2008 was a great adventure not only for visitors and future members of the Society, but also for the presenters, lecturers, and vendors who had the opportunity to spend a beautiful, sunny early autumn day on the picturesque grounds.
For information on TheosoFest or other upcoming programs by the Theosophical Society in America, visit www.theosophical.org.
Everyone is invited to experience this calming, enlightening, educational experience and help “keep the link unbroken.”
© Rachel Madorsky