The Theosophical Society in America

Local Groups

Correspondence Courses

C105: Theosophy - An Introductory Study Course
Members $20; nonmembers $25

Text: Theosophy - An Introductory Study Course, Fourth Edition by John Algeo provides a comprehensive introduction to Theosophy. This newly revised edition presents concepts in a clear and lucid manner suitable for contemporary audiences. Each chapter is followed by questions which the corresponding student answers and comments upon.

C110: The Pilgrim and the Path: Living Theosophy
Members $20; Non-members $25; includes lesson materials

This is an intermediate course. Theosophy tells us that we are pilgrims, implying that we are on a journey to a particular place. If this is so, we should have some idea of why we are traveling and where we are headed. Written by John Algeo, this course is based on material found in I.K. Taimni’s book A Way to Self-Discovery, Robert Ellwood’s The Pilgrim Self, and Emily Sellon’s The Pilgrim and the Pilgrimage. Suggested prerequisite: C105 Theosophy—An Introductory Study Course.

C115: Meditation: A Practical Study
Members $20; nonmembers $25; including the textbook

Text: Meditation: A Practical Study with Exercises, by Adelaide Gardner. 9 chapters in 116 pages.

A beginning course on meditation covering the history, purpose, process, and various stages of meditation. The textbook gives guidance for those who wish to learn some simple and safe techniques of meditation.

C205: Introduction to Esoteric Principles
Members $25; nonmembers $30; including the textbook

Text: An Introduction to Esoteric Principles, by William Doss McDavid. 7 chapters in 82 pages.

This is a concise and detailed presentation of some basic concepts of the Wisdom Tradition as set forth by H. P. Blavatsky, contrasting alternative presentations by later generations. This course is intended "to bridge the gap between the elementary and the more advanced studies." It requires the mastery of basic traditional Sanskrit terminology and a willingness by the student to do independent investigation. The text is accompanied by a study guide presenting questions to be answered.

C206: Introduction to The Mahatma Letters
Members $20; nonmembers $25; including the study course text, but not The Mahatma Letters

Text: An Introduction to The Mahatma Letters: A Study Course, by Virginia Hanson. 10 chapters (and 5 appendices) in 97 pages.

This course is designed to guide the student into a study of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett , which is a very rich source of Theosophical concepts and a source of seminal ideas. One of the text's appendices is a chronology of The Mahatma Letters, useful for those using the third edition of that book, which presents the letters in topical groups. This course is useful for those who are already familiar with the letters but want an overview of some of the basic concepts in them, as well as for those to whom the letters are new.

Enrollment Form for Correspondence Courses [pdf]


When you enroll in a correspondence course, you receive all materials for the course at once. They include a study course booklet, study questions to answer (either in the study course or separately), and an assignment sheet.

Some courses may require an additional textbook, not supplied as part of the course. We do not provide such books because some students will already have copies they can use. If you need a textbook, however, you can buy it at one of the Quest Bookshops in New York, Seattle, and Ojai; or you may find it in the bookshop of a local Theosophical Lodge or a commercial bookshop; or you may order it by writing or phoning the Quest Bookshop, P. O. Box 270, Wheaton, IL 60187-0270; telephone 630-665-0123.

You may find it useful also to have access to a dictionary, and sometimes an encyclopedia such as you can find at any public library can be helpful.


Our correspondence courses are designed to involve interaction between the student and an advisor through written correspondence. When you order a correspondence course from the Olcott Institute, an advisor will be assigned to work with you. Advisors are members of the Society who volunteer for this work and who are themselves long­time students of Theosophy.

In completing the course, you work at your own pace. You may send in answers to one lesson at a time, or send in several lessons at once if you prefer. The responsibility for completing the course is with you. Do not count on your advisor to try to impel you to finish assignments or pressure you to complete the course. You are encouraged to develop perseverance and a regular schedule.

To study is to come to grips with the ideas, the reasoning, the understanding, the illumination which is being expressed through a book: it is to permit the ideas to permeate without prejudice or bias into one's own mind, heart, and intuition, so that truth meets truth–the truth in a written form meeting the truth of one's inner being. The studies must be integrated into one's understanding and behavior before depths of the ancient Wisdom Tradition are reflected in one's daily life. The learning is in the living rather than in the reading, for Ageless Wisdom is a living wisdom that permeates the totality of our being and it is not restricted to books alone.

Your advisors for the correspondence courses are not mahatmas, masters, gurus, or final authorities in Theosophy, but rather some of the older students trying to share their insights and understanding of Theosophy with you. You are encouraged to ask questions; express any doubts, alternative ideas, or theories; and share personal experience with your advisor. For it is through such sharing that all students, both old and new, grow in understanding the experience of Theosophy.

To enroll in a correspondence course, fill out the online application and send to:
Olcott Institute Registrar
PO Box 270
Wheaton, IL 60187-0270;
Phone 630-668-1571
Fax 630-668-4976

Self-Study Courses

THEOSOPHY has been described as an ocean of wisdom from which we can continually draw without ever fathoming its depths. Many students find that prepared courses give a sense of direction to their studies. These courses are offered in that spirit, not as dogma or the final word on any subject

Online Study Materials

Theosophy: An Introductory Study Course by John Algeo, Ph.D.

This study course provides an introduction to basic Theosophical concepts. Chapters include questions for group or individual study.  PURCHASE a hard copy.

An Introduction to Esoteric Principles by Doss McDavid, Ph.D.
An intermediate level course presenting concepts of the Wisdom Tradition as put forth by H. P. Blavatsky, contrasted with the interpretations of subsequent generations of Theosophists.  PURCHASE a hard copy.

Study Course on "The Secret Doctrine"
by Pablo Sender and Juliana Cesano
An advanced level course that explores the themes and principles in H. P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine.

For Members Only 

The resource materials listed below are available only to members of the Theosophical Society in America. Members may request a free electronic copy (Adobe PDF format) from the Department of Education by clicking on the SUBMIT REQUEST link and providing their name and membership ID number. (Your membership ID number is located on your membership card directly under your name.) 

The Bhagavad Gita: A Study Course, by John Algeo, Ph.D.   SAMPLE
This study course by John Algeo contains analysis and commentary in 28 lessons. Annie Besant’s translation is used throughout the course. Submit Request.

Exploring the Heart of Meditation, by Cecil Messer    SAMPLE
This course is best suited for those who have had some experience with meditation and would like to deepen their practice.     Submit Request

Exploring Theosophy, by Anton Lysy, Ph.D. SAMPLE
This FREE online study guide is designed for use with Robert Ellwood’s introductory book Theosophy: A Modern Expression of the Wisdom of the Ages and is suitable for individual or group study.   Submit Request

Frodo’s Quest and the Spiritual Journey, by Robert Ellwood    SAMPLE
Robert Ellwood interprets the mythological themes found in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings from a spiritual perspective. Students or groups wishing to use this study course should purchase Ellwood’s Frodo’s Quest: Living the Myth in The Lord of the Rings from Quest Books.    Submit Request

An Intuitive Approach to the Seven Stanzas of Dzyan, by Beverly Noia   SAMPLE
This study guide provides the student with a unique method of probing the mystical verses from the Book of Dzyan, which forms the basis of Mme. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine. Submit Request

Karma Symposium Compiled and edited by David P. Bruce SAMPLE
The subject of karma is one that is rather complex and therefore can be explored in a variety of ways. This collection of provocative articles will expand the reader’s knowledge and understanding of this basic teaching of the wisdom tradition. Submit Request.

Manual for Group Discussion, by the Department of Education    SAMPLE
This concise manual offers valuable hints and suggestions for group leaders and facilitators on how to lead successful group discussions. Submit Request

Manual on Workshop Methods,  by the Department of Education SAMPLE
This manual is specially designed with Theosophical study groups in mind, providing a number of creative ways to conduct a workshop with your local group.    Submit Request

Reincarnation Explained, by the Department of Education   SAMPLE
A collection of six articles, each of which presents a different aspect of reincarnation.   Submit Request

Secret Doctrine Symposium, Part One Compiled and edited by David P. Bruce  SAMPLE
A collection of twelve insightful articles exploring The Secret Doctrine by Mme. Blavatsky. Submit Request

Secret Doctrine Symposium, Part Two Compiled and edited by David P. Bruce  SAMPLE
Another collection of twelve insightful articles exploring The Secret Doctrine by Mme. Blavatsky. Submit Request

Shakespeare Extravaganza Compiled by David P. Bruce SAMPLE
A collection of articles showing that Shakespeare was well acquainted with ideas found in the Wisdom Tradition. Submit Request

Stranger Than Fiction: H. S. Olcott's Life in Theosophy, by John Algeo   SAMPLE
Explore the early years of the Theosophical Society as seen through the eyes of Henry S. Olcott. This course is based largely on Olcott's series of diary papers published as Old Diary Leaves. Submit Request

Study Notes on The Voice of the Silence, by Gaile V. Campbell SAMPLE
The Voice of the Silence
was one of H. P. Blavatsky's last major contributions to Theosophical literature. This study guide provides a basic introduction to The Voice with line-by-line commentary.  Submit Request

Technique of the Spiritual Life, by Maria Parisen    SAMPLE
A study course based on the book Technique of the Spiritual Life by Clara Codd with commentary by Maria Parisen.    Submit Request


Additional study courses are also available through membership in the National Lodge (TS members only)









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