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The Key to Theosophy


An exploration of The Key to Theosophy
Written by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Published in 1889

A photograph of Blavatsky taken in 1877.


THIS IS AN INTRODUCTORY COURSE in basic Theosophy. You will explore The Key to Theosophy (Blavatsky, 1889), as well as read a contemporary commentary on The Key by John Algeo—Unlocking the Door. Both books wil appear online throughout this course.

It is suggested that prior to taking this course, you consider purchasing a copy of The Key to Theosophy—either a first edition copy or one of the later abridgements. Although we have provided you with an online version of The Key, having your own copy will allow you to highlight significant passages or make other useful notations within the pages of the book.

  • In her abridged version of The Key, Joy Mills states:

    A key is meant for unlocking doors. For countless thousands, Theosophy has been the key that has opened doors of the mind and heart inward upon magnificent vistas of wisdom and understanding. It has been the key to the treasures of the illumined spirit, the treasures of love and compassion that, shared, form the Supreme Treasure, Brotherhood Universal. To be given such a key is not ehough, however; to unlock the secrets of knowledge, to open the doors of perception, to release the jewels of compassion, one must turn the key.

    Media Elements

    Since this e-Learning course is multi-media based, you will encounter a number of media elements containing brief audio or video commentary, usually no more than a few minutes each in length. Media elements are included in the lessons as a way of enhancing your understanding of the written material.

    For example, the following media element contains an audio clip taken from a class on The Key to Theosophy given by John Algeo, PhD, and Tony Lysy, PhD. In this segment, Algeo gives a brief historical perspective to The Key while contrasting the literary style of today with the style used by Blavatsky—the style of the late Victorian period.

    PLEASE LISTEN to the following audio commentary.(6˝ minutes)

    To listen, simply click on the play () button of the media player.

    The Key to Theosophy
    Show Info

    John Algeo

    Book Excerpts

    Each lesson of this course will include a chapter of The Key to Theosophy as well as a chapter from Unlocking the Door. Appendices A and B are found in Lesson Sixteen. Book excerpts are framed in modules such as the one below.

    PLEASE READ the following book excerpt.

    Book excerpt: The Key to Theosophy by H. P. Blavatsky

    PLEASE LISTEN to the next audio clip in which Tony Lysy comments on the preface. (2 minutes)

    The Key to Theosophy
    Show Info

    Tony Lysy

    PLEASE READ the Introduction from John Algeo's Unlocking the Door.

    Book excerpt: Unlocking the Door by John Algeo

    Course Guidelines

    To get the most out of this course:
    • Follow the lessons in a sequential manner.
    • Complete each lesson before going to the next.
    • Use the scroll bar to work your way through each lesson.
    • Work through each lesson sequentially, from top to bottom.

    As you proceed through the lessons, allow yourself the necessary time to reflect upon the material presented. You may find it advisable to repeat some of the material before moving on. For review purposes, you may return to a previous lesson at any time. It is recommended that you do no more than two or three lessons per week.

    Your Personal Electronic Notebook

    As you proceed through the course, you will be asked to consider various questions. You may record your answers or comments in your personal electronic notebook. The electronic notebook is your notebook—it cannot be accessed by anybody else. Beginning with Lesson One, you may access the notebook by clicking on the notebook icon which appears at the lower right-hand corner of your computer screen.

    When you are ready to e-mail the instructor, copy and paste your answers from the electronic notebook into an e-mail, which you can then send to the instructor. You will not be graded, but you will receive feedback from the instructor.

    Instructor's Assignments

    Each lesson of this course contains a number of notebook assignments. After you enroll in this course with the Registrar, you will be able to communicate directly with the course instructor. Below are some examples of the types of questions you may be asked to consider.

    Consider the following:

    • Make a list of the topics you would expect to be covered in a book that aims at unlocking the door to the study of Theosophy. If you are familiar with Theosophical writings, list the subjects you have encountered in them that you would expect to be covered in an introductory book. Or list the topics relating to life and living that you would hope to have covered in a book treating a comprehensive view of the world and our place in it.

    • Look at the table of contents in The Key. [Instructor's note: Refer to your own copy of the text or use the online version that is provided below.] Which of the topics on your list seem to be treated? Which seem not to be? Can you think of any explanations for the difference?

    You may use your personal electronic notebook (located at lower right-hand corner of your computer screen) to record your information.

    Web Links

    Online text for The Key to Theosophy is provided by Web links such as the one found in the minibrowser below. You may wish to scan the Table of Contents of The Key in order to become familiar with the topics covered in this course.

    Procedure for viewing Web links contained in minibrowsers:
    1. Click on OPEN WINDOW button to enlarge the minibrowser.
    2. Click on MAXIMIZE button of new screen to obtain full view.
    3. Click on CLOSE button when finished in order to return to the lesson.



    If you are not yet registered for this course and wish to do so, contact the Registrar.


    Produced by David P. Bruce
    Director of Education
    The Theosophical Society in America