The Theosophical Company in Ljubljana

At the end of WW I there was in Slovenia, now part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the revival of strivings to promote the theosophical ideas and to form a theosophical organization. The major promoter of these strivings was Dr. Edvard Šerko who lived in Vransko (small place near Celje) and who, in 1918, made contacts with financial inspector, Mr. Anton Zajc, from Ljubljana. In Ljubljana there was an informal group of about ten persons who were interested in occultism, Spiritism, hypnotism, magnetism and New Thought movement. The attempts to somehow organize this group were entirely on the shoulders of already old and ailing Mr. Zajc who had additional problems with unsettled apartment problems and who was worried because of lack of the appropriate literature in Slovenian language.

To meet this necessity Dr. Šerko prepared, in 1921, text for the brochure Theosophy Is God’s Wisdom as well as Wisdom about God. The brochure raised such an interest that there have soon born the idea to form The Preparatory Committee for the foundation of the Yugoslav Theosophical Society. The first meeting of the Committee was held in the same year at Vransko. At this meeting it was decided that the Committee will begin to publish its own magazine, called Esoteric Letters. The first issue of the magazine was delivered in May 1922.

But the strivings to somehow connect all those people who, on the territory of Yugoslavia, were interested in spiritualism didn’t bring much success. There were present a lot of private circles which professed one or another form of occultism but which operated quite closely and anonymously.

The Esoteric Letters magazine reached in its best moment addresses of about 50 people but there was no special repercussion as to collaboration in the formation of an organized body. In addition the Committee has to face also with the scarcity of funds and didn’t manage to prepare the printed version of the magazine.

As the initiative to form the Yugoslav Theosophical Society didn’t met the appropriate response the Committee decided to found an organization only for the area of Slovenia. Therefore, in spite of all troubles there was held in late spring of the year 1923, in France Prešeren’s room of the Restaurant New World, the Founding Assembly of the Theosophical Company. On June 7th 1923 the Regional Direction for Slovenia issued the decree which acknowledged the foundation of the society. The President of the Theosophical Society, Dr. Annie Besant, recognized this Lodge as the Lodge directly attached to the Headquarters at Adyar and issued a Charter, dated on 23. 04. 1924, for the Lodge Service.

But all the work for the Theosophical Company leaned on the shoulders of Mr. Zajc because Dr. Šerko, living far from the center, couldn’t help much in the administration. In the spring in 1924 Mr. Zajc wrote: “Our movement is still in the same phase, so we can not count on more than 20 or 25 persons who live mostly in the Štajerska region. It seems that there atmosphere is not so much infected with malevolent materialistic elementals as here. Ultimately I think that the country-side soil is more favorable for the progress of our ideas than the city ground.”

The Company managed to form a humble theosophical library, but to accomplish much more the time ran out as towards the end of the year 1924 Mr. Anton Zajc suddenly died. In that way died out also the work of the first official theosophical circle in Slovenia.

In 1925 Dr. Edvard Šerko wrote in a letter the following: “Along with Mr. Zajc I was publishing a humble magazine which was connecting people. But the success was very dubious; we have among 30 and 40 subscribers which were quickly alternating. We couldn’t establish a real nucleus out of them. The material was that of second class: hysterically-erotic women, and men, devoted to black magic. It seems to me that the time is not favorable, and that every attempt of white magic stirs up too much black counter force and that the ventilation of meta-psychic issues brings to the majority more harm then benefit. I came to conclusion that it is better, in the time when the black magic is so powerful, to hide ourselves and to nurture our supreme in the quietness of our soul.

This is third 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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