I first encountered Theosophy when I was living in Sydney Australia in 1972. I was working as a cab driver after traveling from Japan down through several countries in the orient in a spiritual quest that was primarily focused on Buddhism but which also included some bohemian adventurism. Somehow I wandered into the Theosophical bookstore there and began pursuing some of the material. I can still remember how blown away I was and thought to myself, "How do they think all this stuff up?" because Theosophy presents a very detailed philosophic alternate universe, which in my years of academic study and college philosophy, I had never heard of. I was very intrigued and continued my reading and study of Theosophy for several years afterwards, particularly when I was later living in San Francisco and regularly attending the Theosophical Center there.
Theosophy, I later realized, provides the Golden Key to understanding, as knowledge of it unlocks many perennial mysteries, conundrums and confusions in the many fields of religion, philosophy, history and science. Theosophy had its antique proponents, but the modern movement began in the late 19th century by a controversial Russian, Helena Blavatsky, who was the amanuensis and agent of a secret group of enlightened spiritual masters. The Theosophical movement, based initially on her ideas, quickly gained widespread popularity in the early 20th century, attracting the interest of many prominent individuals, until there occurred some disillusionments. The movement then faded although new teachings have continued to be revealed and expounded up to today, by more recent agents of this same secret brotherhood.
To begin with the principles of Theosophy, or the Ancient Wisdom, is then to begin with the idea, which is actually held by most religions, that there is life after death and therefore that the most advanced spiritual exemplars, like Buddha, Krishna and Jesus, as well as many saints, continue to persist in a dimension that allows some connection to our world, as spiritual intercession is a not uncommon occurrence in religion. Theosophy's secret brotherhood is that Hierarchy of spiritually realized men and angels who are overseeing the evolution of life on earth, to guide it toward its ultimate destiny, as determined by our God. And they are introducing the occidental to a form of Wisdom particularly appropriate to that transitionary time we are in.
I suppose that there are actually several principles impacted in that last paragraph. That there is a divine creator of the earth and a divine intention and plan for all life on earth that will be realized. That there are astronomical and astrological cycles which change the energetic basis of life and therefore all the forms of our civilization - from beliefs and values to structures and institutions. If we look back we can see that societies come and go, although each probably assumes it will persist. That the wise have a wider vision and out of concern for humanity, work to guide development along constructive lines.
In our secular society based on science we are so accustomed to believe that the only knowledge is one that must be empirically based, that we do not understand the legitimacy of Occult knowledge, which is based on the fact that consciousness, in meditation, can transcend the mind and the material level and explore the inner and metaphysical aspect of reality. The adepts of the East have successfully explored these spiritual realms for eons and have determined that the metaphysical is just as governed by law and just as imbued with structure as our dense physical world is. Theosophy then is the scientific articulation of the spiritual and is so comprehensive that the various religions are encompassed within it.
In the Ancient Wisdom, we not only have the spiritual history of mankind and the earth, but also an articulation of earth's place within the larger solar and cosmic wholes. This is based on the hylozoistic chain of being. In Eastern thought there is the concept of chakras or qualified energy centers in the human body of which the glands are the physical correspondence. Just as an individual is composed of structurally different organs, so the kingdoms of life on earth act as centers in the planetary being, which acts as a center in the solar being, that is a composite organ in a cosmic life, etc. Esoteric Astrology defines some of these relationships. This assumes that the entire universe is a stupendous One Life, and that all the stars and planets are alive - although only a relative few have life on the densest level, as does earth. However we are visited continually be denizens from other planets and stars and are seeing increasing evidence of this in UFO sightings and crop circles.
Earth has been characterized by dualism and the battle between good (toward spiritual evolution, freedom and synthesis) and evil (tending toward separation, fear, control and materialism). Of particular interest now is the evolutionary step that the planet is taking with the associated outer crises of which we are so familiar. We cannot see what is actually emerging through the tumult - but have been told that the evil controllers who for so long have ruled the earth have been removed as it is the time for earth to be unshackled to fully realize the divine plan. We can now expect major transformations and shifts as this inner light breaks through the incrusted outer stratification that has been our reality. More people are opening to and aligning with this new energy and loving consciousness.
And more people are sensitive to the intuitive knowing and psychic faculties that have always been a potential within us. As we move away from a fear based, survival culture to a unitive holistic one, with universal human entitlements, human capacities will be freed to realize innate divine potentials. We will move from separation to taking our place in the larger solar and cosmic life. Theosophy provides the Wisdom to guide our steps as we leave the confines of a linear and material worldview and go into the limitless multidimensional living Galaxy. It's a very interesting, instructive and useful system and awareness that will repay your efforts to understand it.