The Theosophical
Society in Australia

Perth Branch

Canberra Group

Meets third Saturday of each month from 2 to 4pm

Coordinator: Gordon Herbert
Secretary: Barbara Harrod
Email: [email protected]
Bulletins: Current and previous Bulletins from the Canberra Group can be viewed at

Meeting place: Friends' Meeting House, 17 Bent Steet, Turner (on the corner of Bent and Condamine Streets)
Meet: 2 - 4 pm 3rd Saturday each month.

2024 Programme

2.00pm     Saturday 17 February

Topic:  The Spirituality of Theosophy & its Enduring Relevance in the Modern World

Presenter:  Gerard Brennan

About the Presentation

 In this presentation we will examine together some of the perennial ideas of the Ancient Wisdom and their influence on Western culture over time. This will include the fields of religion, the arts and science. We will also trace the development of Eastern philosophy and other spiritual traditions and the role of the TS in bringing this knowledge to the West. Is Theosophy a religion? If not what is it? We will explore these ideas collaboratively in an effort to deepen our appreciation of the enduring relevance of Theosophical teachings to our lives today.

About the Presenter:

 Gerard has a long standing interest in Theosophy as an Expression of the Divine Wisdom and has been a member of The Theosophical Society for many years. The idea of Universal Brotherhood is something that really interests him and he has also been interested in how to apply Theosophy to Our Daily Lives. Over the years he has had the good fortune to visit the International Headquarters in Adyar, India many times and he has enjoyed attending many Theosophical Conventions over the years. His professional background has been in teaching literature and history as a high school teacher.

2.00pm     Saturday 16 March

Topic:  Insights from Paramahansa Yogananda

Presenter:  Dr Grahame Crookham

About the Presentation

 Yogananda is best known for his highly popular book “Autobiography of a Yogi.” More recently Grahame read his two books “God talks to Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita” and “The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ With-in You”. Yogananda was assigned the task to spread the holy science of God-union (Kriya Yoga science) worldwide through the united original yoga of Krishna and original Christianity of Christ. This talk will present insights gained from the above readings, together with his Master’s book “The Holy Science” by Sri Yukteswar. Topics covered include the Absolute, the Trinity, Christ Consciousness, the process of creation/manifestation, the Gunas, the creative causal principles, the mental/astral/physical principles (Tattvas), the Tree of Life and the return journey.

About the Presenter:

Grahame was raised in the Catholic tradition, having attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. He was introduced to yogic philosophy in his early 20’s, became a devotee of Kriya Babaji Nagaraj in 1977 and has been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1987. He has an ongoing interest in the commonality between eastern and western thought, and the teachings of Jesus and Vedanta. 

2.00pm     Saturday 20 April

Topic:  Understanding the Writings of HP Blavatsky - Part 1: The One Life

Presenter:  Dr J. E. Cloutman

About the Presentation

April’s talk is from Dr. J.E. Cloutman, a Canberra TS group member. In his presentation, the first in a series, Jim will explore ways to access and understand the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, which often remain, for many members, so complex that they are hard to appreciate and enjoy. The ‘Secret Doctrine’, for example, her most well-known work and a cornerstone of the Theosophical Society, remains something that few members have ever fully read and truly understood. Starting with the concept of the ‘One Life’, he will illustrate how to unpack, in an understandable and practical way, the wealth of knowledge and meaning that HPB’s works capture, and help show how her teachings can be of practical value and relevance to everyday life.

About the Presenter:

First joining the TS at 16, Jim has an honours degree in comparative religion from King’s College, London University. An educationalist by profession, he has a PhD in adult education. Most recently, after working on a project with the NSW government to develop learning programs in emotional intelligence for adult students, he is designing and developing new ways of learning emotional intelligence and ‘soft skills’ for the federal government.

2.00pm     Saturday 18 May

Topic:  The Fool’s Journey

About the Presentation

Elayne has given a couple of presentations to the TSO on the Cathars of medieval southern France or Occitania. This has included historical and cultural explorations of who they were, including profiles of their benefactors the Counts of Toulouse or the Raymondine,  and other southern nobility, what Occitan society was hallmarked by, most importantly the ruthless persecution by the Roman Catholic church for Cathar ‘heretical’ interpretations of Christian teachings. This would ultimately lead to a devastating war from 1209 - 1229 called the Albigensian Crusade that destroyed the culture and way of life of the Occitan region of the south of France. The French North known as the House of France or Capetian Dynasty in partnership with the Catholic Church were the victors. The historical explanations of this crusade are encased in three primary source documents that outline what happened. These focus on the actors and the military maneuvers of the two opposing sides.

In the first of two presentations of 2024 Elayne provides a very different and controversial hypothesis as to the real cause of this crusade. Elayne has named this presentation the ‘Fools Journey’ so as to take the audience through a narrative where trickery and force underpinned the Cathar Wars, and where plotting and scheming occurred long before the murder of the papal legate in the Languedoc of 1208, which was the official historical cause of the Albigensian crusade. Elayne’s work does not focus on the red herring of the orthodox militarist narrative, that is, the Albigensian crusade, as most historians do, a siloed perspective that enables a ruse to keep prying eyes away from what is simply the truth. The ‘fool’s journey’ is a venture that is dual natured. It not only speaks truth to power, that is, it tells the harshest truths, because a fool can, a catalyst for self awareness which produces insight and helps to transform the Cathar narrative. However, the fool is also a trickster, an archetype so old, he emerges from pre-history and ancient mythology where he is linked to sacrifice and shamanism. These are some of the essential elements of the true Cathar story which Elayne hopes to introduce in her two presentations this year.

Presenter:  Elayne Strahan

Elayne Strahan is a retired commonwealth public servant with twenty-five years’ experience in social work practice, commonwealth social research, policy development and programme implementation for the Australian government. She has a social policy research masters from the Australian Demographic Social Research Institute (ADSRI) at the Australian National University (ANU). 

Elayne has always had an interest in esoteric matters and has been involved in the spiritualist movement for forty years not just in Canberra but elsewhere in Australia. She is currently completing private research on the Cathars with the view of making her findings available to a wider audience by publication of a book that she is planning.


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