Beginnings of the Theosophical Movement in Croatia

Beginnings of the Theosophical Movement in Croatia are closely linked to the Austrian Section of the Theosophical Society and its founder, bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Mr. John Cordes, as in 1922 first Croatian theosophists, Mrs. Valerija Mayerhoffer, Prof. Jelisava Vavra, Mrs. Milena Šišić, Mrs. Marija and Mr. Ivan Butković, joined the theosophical lodge in Vienna. This group met regularly at Mrs. Valerija Mayerhoffer’s home in Zagreb and studied fundamental ideas of theosophy and occultism.

On January 17th 1924 this group founded the Lodge of Theosophical Society in Zagreb. And after the visit of Dr. G. S. Arundale, then personal secretary of the President of the Theosophical Society Dr. Annie Besant, in 1925, the idea to found the Theosophical Society for Yugoslavia grew ripe. Towards the end of that same year Prof. Jelisava Vavra took part at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the Theosophical Society at Adyar and brought back the Charter which acknowledged the formation of the Yugoslav Section of the Theosophical Society and was dated on 14. 09. 1925.

All until WW II the Yugoslav Section of the Theosophical Society was in close contacts with the Austrian Section and its General Secretary, Mr. Fritz Schleifer, its Secretary, Mr. Karl Riedl, and its founder, Bishop John Cordes, but also with Dr. G. S. Arundale and his wife Rukmini Devi.


More in Mrs. Milica Gradišnik’s article: Historijat Teozofskog Društva (Historical sketch of the Theosophical Society), Theosophical Worker, No.1/1947, and in her report to the Executive Committee of the Theosophical Society in SFR Yugoslavia in 1974: O osnutku Teozofskog Društva (About the foundation of the Theosophical Society).


This is second in the series of articles which tend to represent the history of the theosophical movement in Slovenia and former Yugoslavia. It is based on the presently available data and will be regularly updated with new recognitions where they come in our view. Therefore, readers are kindly asked to constructively collaborate in this representation with particulars known to them and which will further elucidate the history of the theosophical movement in Slovenia and former Yugoslavia.

Anton Rozman

Last update: January 2009
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