1893 (summer): The Syracuse Branch of the Theosophical Society formed.
1897 (January 26): Dower was initiated into the Onondaga Turtle Clan.
1897: The Syracuse Branch joined the Theosophical Society Six Nation Territorial Committee for active propaganda work in favor of supporting traditional Native American spirituality.
1898 (November 15): The Temple was founded in Syracuse, New York by Francia A. LaDue and William H. Dower.
1899 (May): The Exoteric “Temples of Brotherhood” that agitated for a model of government based on the Iroquois League was founded in 1900 and called “League of Brotherhoods.”
1899 (June): Francia LaDue “Blue Star’s” book Beacon Fires was published.
1900: The Temple published plans for the building of a new circular city.
1900 (June 1): The first issue of the group’s periodical, The Temple Artisan, was devoted to mysticism, social science and ethics, published in Syracuse.
1900 (October): The first annual convention of members was held in Syracuse. The Temple had twenty-two branches called “Squares.”
1902: The Halcyon Health Company was formed.
1903 (January 1): The group acquired the Granville Shinn Farm and dedicated the land as the Temple Center.
1903: The Temple moved from Syracuse to the Arroyo Grande valley and named their settlement Halcyon.
1903: The Temple Home Association (THA), a cooperative commonwealth, was founded.
1903: The Temple bought the Coffee Rice Mansion (built in 1886) in the Arroyo Grande valley for a new health institute, the Halcyon Hotel and Sanitorium.
1904: Halcyon Health Company and Temple Home Association merged.
1906: Open Gate Sanatorium for the treatment of consumption was built.
1908: The Temple incorporated under the name The Temple of the People, with the Guardian in Chief as corporation sole.
1908: Halcyon General Store and Second-Class United States Post Office opened, along with a branch of the County Library.
1909 (circa): The Association of the Industrial School of Arts and Crafts was founded
1910: The Pottery, a manufacturing industry of the THA, was built on the sanatorium grounds.
1913: Cooperative work of the THA was suspended.
1922 (July 20): Francia LaDue, “Blue Star” died. William Dower became Guardian in Chief.
1923: Construction of The Blue Star Memorial Temple of Science, Philosophy and Religion, the community’s worship center, began and the building was dedicated.
1924: Blue Star Memorial Temple was completed.
1925: Teachings of the Temple, volume 1, was published.
1927: Hiawatha Lodge, the group’s community center, was constructed. The building has served as a community hall, classroom, and adult day-care center.
1931: Halcyon University was founded.
1931: The Noon Healing Service in the Blue Star Memorial Temple was initiated.
1931: The Guest House was completed. It served as a hospitality center for the Temple and its many visitors. It later became the William Quan Judge Library and Temple offices.
1933 (circa): Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium closed.
1934: Harold Forgostein’s painting cycle, now known as the “Legend of the Peacemaker,” was underway.
1937 (October 9): William Dower, “Red Star” died. Pearl Dower “Gold Star” became Guardian in Chief.
1968 (April 5): Pearl Dower, “Gold Star,” died. Harold Forgostein “Violet Star” became Guardian in Chief.
1971: Halcyon University Center building was completed.
1985: Teachings of the Temple, volumes 2 and 3, was published.
1990 (March 1): Harold Forgostein, “Violet Star,” died. Eleanor Shumway “Green Star” became Guardian in Chief.
1998: The centennial year celebration of the founding of the Temple of the People took place.
2023: Eleanor L. Shumway retired as Guardian in Chief, the first Guardian to retire before dying. Richard A. London, “Yellow Star,” became Guardian in Chief.
2024: The centennial year celebration of the erection of the Blue Star Memorial Temple took place.
The Temple of the People (as it was known after 1908) is a remarkable turn of the twentieth century California communal/intentional group, whose small village of Halcyon was built to pursue theosophical principles. These included the importance of our relationship to the natural world, a commitment to the recovery of Native American notions of spirituality, and, early in its history, included experiments in socialist economics.
Before moving to California’s Central Coast, both William Henry Dower (1866-1937) and Francia Amanda LaDue (1849-1922), founders of the new Temple group in 1898, were members and officers in the Syracuse branch of the Theosophical Society in America, formed in 1893. This group became known for its support of leader William Quan Judge during the organizational schism in the Theosophical Society, and, through its commitment, to exploring Native American spirituality as a form of theosophical inquiry.
Dower [Image at right] was brought up in Syracuse and from a young age was interested in science, electricity, and esotericism. He graduated from the prestigious Syracuse University College of Medicine and maintained a dialogue with the medical establishment even while he became invested in esoteric and occult conceptions later demonstrated at the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium. He met Judge in 1892 who urged him to organize the Syracuse theosophical branch. He was also admitted to the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society.
Francia LaDue, [Image at right] born Frances Beach in Chicago, grew up in Syracuse and was treated by Dr. Dower. She joined the Theosophical Society in 1897, was also admitted to the Esoteric Section. They started a lifelong relationship, marked early-on by scandal and salacious press attacks in 1900, but by 1903 resulting in the founding and building of Halcyon.
Claiming support from the Great White Lodge of advanced spiritual masters who theosophists believe are responsible for facilitating all human progress and being led by the Master Hilarion, Dower and LaDue founded the Temple in 1898 in Syracuse, New York, and created both esoteric and exoteric organizations. The Master Hilarion purportedly wrote to the group to tell inquirers that he had taken charge of a new movement for all students of Occultism, which aimed at purifying the political arena.
In May 1899, the Temple group founded the “Temples of Brotherhood” as exoteric public bodies designed to agitate for a model of government based on Hiawatha’s Iroquois League. Earlier, the Syracuse branch, with Dower as leader, supported its object to bring about a better understanding between so-called savages and civilized races, through regular visits by Dower and other members to the local Indian reservations surrounding Syracuse. This spawned a deep reflection on social issues, using the language, images, and culture of local tribes. Dower was an active participant in causes supporting Native American rights for the Onondaga tribe, and this advocacy came from his theosophical beliefs.
The first Temple book, LaDue’s Beacon Fires (1899), told its readers: “There has come a war-cry from the inner spheres, and it behooves every soldier in the ranks of humanity to gird himself for the coming battle. . . . It means the overthrow of present conditions. . . the downfall of the capitalists, an equal distribution of the necessaries of life. . . the equality of man and woman, and an equal chance for every man, woman and child in America” (LaDue 1899:33-34).
While indicating that LaDue (now known to members as Blue Star, representing a mystical union with the Master Hilarion) and Dower were challenging the political status quo, by 1900 one of the group’s major goals was to build a new city as crucial to the realization of a community of true kinship, “to [form] a settlement which must eventually become a city [in the West]. . . . to restore to man a more just division of the fruits of his labor” (Gibson 1900:10). Planning the new city began to take precedence over political agitation. An ideal city was projected by Dower. He indicated that eventually a great geometrical city for 10,000 would be built, with circles within squares joined by roads radiating out over the valley. [Image at right] The geometrical nature of the city would encourage the “unfoldment of inner senses” and raise human “vibrations” to a more spiritual level.
Consolidating communication at headquarters was paramount to their success. The Temple published a monthly magazine beginning in June 1900 called The Temple Artisan. [Image at right] Other short-lived publications followed. Most of these titles and pamphlets were published in the Temple’s own print shop. By 1925, the assembled Teachings of the Temple volume one was published, followed by two more volumes in 1985.
Temple officers, including LaDue, visited California and felt led to purchase the Granville Shinn Farm, just east of Oceano; the site was dedicated to the Temple work on January 1, 1903. For its first decade, Halcyon was an economic socialist community, based on a hybrid of capitalism/socialism. The newly founded Halcyon Health Company provided early support for the settlement. It merged with The Temple Home Association (THA) soon after the THA was incorporated as a co-operative venture in property and mixed agriculture, and it quickly supplanted the League of Brotherhoods as the official exoteric work of the Temple movement.
The THA bought land that was leased to members, who raised food crops and poultry, tried their hands at producing herbs and flower seeds, with many after 1909 working in the Art Pottery Studio. Each membership in the Association cost one hundred dollars and included a half-acre of land and a vote in the Association, run by a three-member Board of Directors. Profits from businesses started through official departments were shared with the members, and members could use their half-acre as they chose, including starting their own businesses. This created a hybrid between capitalism and socialism.
By 1905 there were at least five departments: construction, printing, farming, poultry, and medical, with the medical department represented by the Halcyon Hotel and Sanitorium (the San) the most successful. The farming department oversaw the cultivating of over 100 acres of land, with additional land for orchards, out of the 300 acres owned by the group in 1908, which had 140 members at that time. Growth was steady enough that a general store with post office was opened in 1908 and functioned through 2022, though the Temple Home Association abandoned cooperative economics by the middle teens to become a land holding corporation. The actual building of Halcyon, beyond idealistic projections, was taken up by the THA, which subdivided a portion of the original homestead and sold or leased home sites. Temple members and friends built small cottages and planted shrubs and trees. Many of these structures contribute to the landmarked Halcyon Historic District, designated in 2017.
The formation of the Industrial School of Arts and Crafts in 1909, was emblematic of the THA’s commitment to the useful arts. Alexander W. Robertson, a well-known potter from the Bay-area Roblin Art Pottery (1898-1906), became the director of the new Pottery. [Image at right] The local clay produced a beautiful redware, which was decorated with molded raised decoration that was exemplary of the rise of California Arts and Crafts pottery.
Halcyon was unique as a community for supporting the first nature-cure hospital in the region, the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium. [Image at right] The San opened in May 1904 and was a private institution treating nervous disorders, alcoholism, and chronic diseases. Dr. Dower passed all subjects successfully in his medical examination before the state board of medical examiners in December 1911, and received his license to practice medicine in California. However, he and his colleagues were not willing to accept the scientific limitation of evidence in exclusively material forms. They wanted to maintain, to themselves, a rigorous notion of science, but were curious to seek out new theories that emphasized the mind/body connection, over what they saw as the mechanistic viewpoints of “regular” medicine.
Dower’s medical practice consisted of an unusual mix of traditional and alternative therapies that included eating locally grown produce, herbal remedies, aura therapy, and even use of the “radiant” sand dunes nearby. These were later supplemented with all manner of electrical devices, a solarium, and even suggestive therapeutics, a version of magnetic or hypnotic healing. With Irishman John Varian in residence, the San had an osteopathic massage therapist. Ernest Heckler, a German doctor and naturopath from the Naturopathic School of Germany, began assisting Dower in 1922.
Though very different from Radiography and its increasing use of the X-ray in medical treatments, “radiant rays” became the focus of Dower’s treatments at the sanatorium by 1922. He began publishing sweeping accounts of his experiences with electronic healing devices, announcing what he called the emergent “Age of Radiance,” where new “electron theory” superseded the “cell theory” of disease. In several issues of the Artisan, as well as new publications Halcyon Health Magazine and The Electro-Medical News, he introduced a new system of healing through the power of electricity, called the Electronic Reactions of Abrams (ERA), already publicly criticized by the American Medical Association, but whose apparent success brought more and more people to the sanatorium.
At the apex of growth in the middle 1920s, the Temple of the People was settled around the San, with Dr. Dower’s two-story house and the houses of a few members nearby. Over the hill, Halcyon was grouped around a post office and Temple office, and a new Temple edifice for worship was being built. Halcyon was developing into a community of small houses scattered about with flower gardens, with large straight rows forming great squares of high cypress and eucalyptus trees. There were palms and pepper trees and carpets of wildflowers and greenery. By 1920, the United States census counted fifty residents in Halcyon, with families from Australia, England, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Portugal, Norway, and Denmark, in addition to several states around the United States. Halcyon emerged as a truly multicultural community.
The San, the THA, and later the building of the Blue Star Memorial Temple of Science, Philosophy, and Religion all insured a context for the gathering of spiritual forces. Templars believed these would aid in the coming of the Avatar or Christos, a redeeming cosmic force that would heal and unify humankind, projected to arrive in 1928.
Halcyon features one of the only remaining theosophical temples in the United States, and it is a completely unique edifice built solely by the membership. Temple members widely believed that the Masters used the specific magnetic forces present at Halcyon to transmit “streams of force” to facilitate human physical, mental, and spiritual advancement (Temple Artisan 1924:14-15). When the edifice of the Temple was completed in 1924, these new spiritual forces had a concrete mechanism or technology where both the physical orientations of the Temple services and the architecture provided a focusing of spiritual energy. Temple architecture became an apparatus of communication, not only through its attractive and unique style, but also through the Templars’ belief that spiritual energies engage us through harmonies of numbers, the balancing of forces in worship, and geometrical forms designed into the physical structure of the edifice.
Building the temple gained momentum after Francia LaDue’s death in 1922. Dower became the next Guardian of the Temple “Red Star” and immediately began supervising the building. By 1923 a center stone for the Temple edifice had been laid and plans by Los Angeles member and architect Theodore Eisen had been received, discussed, and altered in preparation for building. Eisen and Dower’s convex equilateral triangle is ripe with number symbolism. The unique structure is surrounded by thirty-six white pillars supporting the roof. The important esoteric number seven was the most basic number in the temple design and was applied to windows, doors, and inside dimensions. The foundation stone is beneath the Central Altar, with the apex of the roof directly above it. [Image at right]
Other community structures were built. In 1927 a community center called the Hiawatha Lodge was erected. A guesthouse was built in 1931 in anticipation of being used by the and as yet unrealized new Halcyon University. After Dower’s death, his new wife Pearl Dower became the Guardian in Chief as “Gold Star.” She oversaw the conversion of the guest house into the William Quan Judge Library and Temple offices. In the 1940s, much property was sold, including the Halcyon Hotel and Sanatorium in 1949, and other properties and mortgages on present-day Halcyon were retired. In 1948 the Halcyon General Store and Post Office, founded in 1908, was relocated and consolidated. The store has served many functions through its history, as a post office, grocery store, library, health food store, gas station, and metaphysical gift shop.
Harold Forgostein became the leader in 1968 as “Violet Star.” Halcyon founders’ deep connection to the Native American culture, which treated the earth as sacred, as well as the Temple teachings which stressed the importance of the contribution of Hiawatha and the League of the Six Nations to the history of our present-day government, are today graphically portrayed in the Temple’s collection of paintings. The importance of the visual arts became especially pronounced through Forgostein, a commercial artist who studied Native American artifacts in the museums and libraries while living in New York, and in the 1930s created the most long-lasting contribution to the visual arts at Halcyon: the painting cycles on Native American themes such as the League of Six Nations and the life of Hiawatha. [Image at right] Today these are shown in the University Center, built in 1971 as a meeting place, mini museum, and art gallery.
Early Halcyon theosophists emphasized humanity’s unity with nature, particularly read through the importance of their understanding of Native American religion. Their theology was based on Theosophy founder Madame Blavatsky’s inscriptions of ancient wisdom teachings, coupled with a direct relationship with the active Master Hilarion, who spoke through the Guardian of the Temple. Templars believed that Master Hilarion’s last incarnation was as the great Iroquois League founder Hiawatha, and both Dower and LaDue were honorary members of the Onondaga tribe based near Syracuse. The group believed the Master Hilarion ruled a line of spiritual force, surrounding the planet, which could be effectively manifested through a geometrical city and temple at the site of their new community. Informed by geomantic Native American ideas about the healing power of the spirit of the earth, LaDue investigated sites in California for their positive intersections of lines of spiritual and magnetic forces to build a community to fulfill the directives of the Masters.
The Temple supported a large Book Concern, and Temple literature, including the monthly Temple Artisan, as well as communications and lessons from the Master collected in volumes of Teachings of the Temple, were regular. Other occult books were also on sale. The community created a matrix for education, communication, and regular group study classes for both adults and young people, and this atmosphere influenced group goals and dynamics.
From the beginning of settlement, Temple members at Halcyon, in consonance with Dr. Dower’s vision, held that both technology and social science were primary to the group’s vision, derived from their interest in Theosophy. The think tank the Temple members created attempted to balance spiritual ideas with scientific ones, the intuitional and the rational, and they believed that this balancing would create a new place of discovery by producing and focusing mental and spiritual forces that would interpenetrate the physical world.
Key Temple concepts included the importance of fostering a religious instinct as a fundamental factor in human evolution, the worth of science and art as manifestations of spiritual energy, and the realization of “true social science” based on man’s relationship to God. Moreover, electricity, magnetism, and light were core interests and pursuits by Dr. Dower and his followers because they believed these forces would help reveal humankind’s promising spiritual and material future.
At the 1923 Convention, Dower announced what “the Temple program for the world consists of.” It was a concise revisiting of the theosophical principles the group held in common:
“First: To formulate the truths of religions as the fundamental factor in human evolution. This does not mean the formulation of a creed, but rather the recognition of the religious instinct in human beings and that every religion that the world has ever seen has been an attempt to interpret this primary impulse in human nature. In proportion as we are able wisely to interpret this impulse will we be able to understand what true religion is.
Second: To set forth a philosophy of life that is in accord with natural and divine law.
Third: To promote the study of the sciences and the fundamental facts and laws upon which the sciences are based, which will permit us to extend our belief and knowledge from what is known to the unknown, or in other words, from the physical to the super-physical, and which, when accomplished, will corroborate those spiritual teachings which have been given to mankind from time to time by the Masters of Light.
Fourth: To promote the study and practice of Art on fundamental lines, showing that art is in reality the application of knowledge to human good and welfare, and that the Christos can speak to humanity through Art as well as through any other fundamental line of manifestation.
Fifth: The promotion of a knowledge of true social science based on immutable law, showing the relationship between man and man, and man and God and nature. When these relationships are understood, we will instinctively formulate and follow the law of true brotherhood, for it is ignorance that perpetuates separateness, and once humanity can see spiritually the relations of things, the law of unity begins to operate instantaneously” (Artisan 1923:43).
These are summarized in the “foundation stones” of the Temple: “Religion, Science, and Economics: there can be no true religion without its scientific basis, and there can be no right system of economics not based on a science that is religious and a religion that is scientific.”
Another important influence emerged in the 1920s with the rising interest in occult circles in Agni Yoga, and the teachings of Russians Nicholas and Helena Roerich. These were viewed increasingly as “in line” with the spiritual teachings of the Temple. Helena Roerich sometimes quoted from Temple teachings, and wrote approvingly of Francia LaDue as Blue Star, admitting that she was chosen as a spiritual intermediary by the Lodge of Masters, and she encouraged her students to acknowledge the Temple. This led to a rise in Russian-speaking members who began to settle in Halcyon.
Local Squares of the new Temple movement began to be formed soon after its work was initiated on November 15, 1898. Squares were instructed to sit in an oval shape, like the auric egg. Officers held specific positions on the oval, balanced directionally and by gender. By the first Convention in 1900, there were twenty-four organized Squares, with nineteen actively functioning (Temple Artisan Supplement 1901:128-29). Using the color spectrum, the ancient’s four elements, male and female, active and passive, warm and cold, the Temple Square is made up of the oval with officers forming a cross within a wider tetrad. [Image at right] The energies were believed to emerge in the center point as a balancing of elements that provided an ideal avenue for spiritual forces to enter the world and help raise the vibrations of humanity. Square meetings were viewed as centering places where Lodge forces were focused, especially when members were present to give unselfishly of themselves to the Masters through their willingness to balance reason and intuition. This created a Lodge current, for “healing, recuperating, and blessing.”
By early 1901 a distinctive new institution was emerging. Open meetings were implemented, and rituals that insured unity as well as discussion were standardized in “Order of Exercises for Temple Squares” published in the Artisan. These included the recitation of the “Words of Force” by members in unison, reports by officers, and studying emerging Temple Teachings, or writings by Blavatsky or Judge. Meetings ended with the recitation of the daily Mantrams.
Words of Force: “Out of the darkness shineth the Light of the Glorified Triple Star into the hearts of humanity, raising the pulse of the Cosmic Heart and driving the shadows into the blackness of the Great Abyss.”
Temple Mantrams: “I believe that in me dwelleth every good and perfect Spirit. Believing this, I will show forth this day, by thought, word and deed, all that perfection that dwelleth in me. I am one with God and all Good. Evil hath no power over me. Though clouds and darkness seem to be about me, yet dwell I eternally in the Light.”
On the first Sunday of every month, Temple members celebrate the important Feast, a communion-like ceremony, called the Feast of Expectation (before 1928), and the Feast of Fulfillment (after 1928), where the congregation is accompanied by hymns, readings, and silent meditation. Priests distribute the elements of bread and water to all present.
Since Halcyon’s founding, the first week of each August has been a time when Temple members from around the world come to Halcyon. This yearly Convention is a period of renewal of ideals with lectures, services, cultural events, and shared meals. In May of 2009 and 2012, the Temple held International Gatherings in Halcyon, attracting members and friends from around the world to share ideals and ways to put these ideals into daily practice. Conventions also became the center of cultural work that made Halcyon well known throughout the region, particularly in the teens and 1920s. During that period Halcyon established a reputation for being an important cultural center in the state. The community was known for its “Mystery Plays,” based on Irish mythology and incorporating original music, with some pieces by the young Henry Cowell.
Since the early 1930s, a daily noon Healing Service has been held, with prayers and meditations directed toward the health and safety of the world. Sunday morning services, open to all, include the monthly communion service, lectures, and a monthly meditation service. Marriages, naming services, and funerals are some of the other celebrations held in the Temple. “Creeds Disappear, Hearts Remain” is the motto of the group.
With the founding of the Temple by the original seven members, the group experimented with organizational forms, and early on constituted an Executive Council with Dower as Official Head. LaDue became Blue Star, the medium, “visible agent,” or “spiritual telegraph” through which the Master’s messages were channeled, and was named the Guardian of the Temple (and later the Guardian in Chief by 1908). In Syracuse, the organization consisted of two main departments. “The Temple” was for spiritual knowledge, with lodges known as “Squares” each with four or more members. “The Brotherhood of Man” was largely educational in scope and emphasized philosophy, ethics, and “right government.”
All meetings were carried out in the square formation, a particular configuration
thought to balance and materialize spiritual forces. Temple officers consisted of the Guardian in Chief as the Chief Priest and “corporation sole.” Powers of administration, both temporal and religious, were vested in the Guardian office. The Guardian appointed seven officers for one-year terms, four of which lived in Halcyon, the other three appointed as Delegates-at-Large, representing the larger membership. The officers, in charge of symbolizing and energizing square worship, were the Inner Guard, Outer Guard, Scribe, and Treasurer.
Members moved through orders, inspired by Masonic traditions. The forty-ninth degree was humanity. Members were first elected to the order of the thirty-six, the order of the Avatar, and made their pledge to the inner work of the Temple. The order of the twenty-eight was the novitiate for the order of the fourteen. The order of the fourteen was known as the Order of the Holy Grail, and included the ordained exoteric priesthood. It served as the novitiate for the order of the seven, which was the esoteric order of priesthood. The order of the twenty-one was established for nonmembers interested in the exoteric dimensions of the Temple. The organization included the Halcyon Book Concern, in charge of publishing the teachings and inspirational writings of the group. The children of members were known as the Temple Builders.
Today Halcyon has both an eighty-acre organic agriculture business with two leased areas being farmed, and a fifty-home village on another fifty acres. Services and community gatherings, in particular the noon healing service held in the Temple every day, continue with regularity. The Temple owns Halcyon’s seven community buildings and thirty homes. Twenty homes are on private property. Rents on Temple properties have not kept pace with rising costs and are currently being respectfully raised to approach market values. This also requires reinvestment in the Temple properties themselves. Younger people and those committed to Temple philosophy are being encouraged to locate in Halcyon, creating a more consistent element of group commitment to the Temple, rather than it being viewed as merely a landlord. Creating synergies between Temple renters and property owners is continuing apace.
The Temple often views itself as a microcosm of the nation and even the world. The community has been affected by World Wars, the Great Depression and Recession, natural disasters, and disaffected members of the Temple. COVID produced the need to adapt to new circumstances, including moving study classes and worship services online. Unlike other theosophical communal groups, Halcyon’s ideals and practices are flexible and have survived many cultural upheavals to become one of the most long-lived intentional settlements in the United States.
Members and homeowners now recognize that humanity’s central challenges of sustainability, outmoded notions of progress, encroaching development, housing and maintenance costs, destruction of indigenous communities and caste issues, and ageism are reflected in Halcyon. These and other challenges, such as interesting the next generation in often century-old Temple teachings, are all present at Halcyon. Updating service offerings, outreach to the larger community through non-sectarian and more popular meditation and yoga practices and emphasizing the importance of the Golden Rule to humanity’s survival through lectures and publication are being presented.
By the middle 2010s, the divisive politics that began to characterize the nation were sometimes reflected in personal and organizational relationships in Halcyon. Disagreements with leadership and expectations from the membership about next steps, a near constant in the history of the group, emerged even more strongly as the job of the Guardian-in-Chief became more diversified and complex, requiring intensified spiritual and material aspects. Increased growth in the communities beyond Halcyon’s farming borders began to appear as encroachments on its 120+year-old way of life.
Becoming an official historic district in 2017 recognized the community’s uniqueness, but with all responsibilities resting in the one-person leadership, some relationships were challenged within the priesthood as well as in the broader community. With the retirement of the longest serving fifth Guardian-in-Chief, new leadership has pledged to emphasize earlier ideals of the founders, including the importance of our relationship with nature, and a renewed respect for foundational Native American ideals of spirituality and kinship. Spiritual and temporal concerns will be more equally shared within the community, and important extra-community interfaces are being reimagined and engaged.
With the ongoing consolidation of local post offices and water districts, Halcyon’s post office closed in 2022, and the Halcyon water district is being restructured to join with the larger community. As of 2023, a community garden has been planted, the newly remodeled Halcyon store carries artisanal and bespoke home goods and has a robust nursery, underpinning the group’s emphasis on our relationship to nature. An independently operated farm stand features seasonal organic food grown on the group’s agricultural land by local farmers. The community is returning in many ways to its theosophical and agrarian roots that compelled the community into being in 1903.
Image #1: William Dower (1866-1937). Temple of the People Archives.
Image #2: Francia LaDue (1849-1922). Temple of the People Archives.
Image #3: Plan of the New City, 1900. H.A. Gibson, President, “League of Brotherhoods: Its Purpose and Work including the Building of a City,” pamphlet, October 6, 1900.
Image #4: Temple Artisan, October 1902.
Image #5: Examples of Halcyon Pottery, 1912. Temple of the People Archives.
Image #6: Coffee Rice Mansion, 1886, Halcyon Hotel and Sanitorium 1903. Temple of the People Archives.
Image #7: Blue Star Memorial Temple, 1925. Temple of the People Archives.
Image #8: Harold Forgostein, In the Lodge of the Red Star, 1936. Temple of the People Archives.
Image #9: Square diagram. Temple of the People Archives.
** Unless otherwise noted the material in this profile is drawn from the scholarly writings of Paul Eli Ivey.
Gibson, H. A. 1900. League of Brotherhoods: Its Purpose and Work including the Building of a City (pamphlet). Syracuse: The Temple.
Ivey, Paul Eli. 2019. “Halcyon and the Arts.” Pp. 32-37 in Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West, edited by Christopher M. Scheer, Sarah Victoria Turner, and James G. Mansell. Lopen, Somerset: United Kingdom.
Ivey, Paul Eli. 2013. Radiance from Halcyon, A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Ivey, Paul Eli. 2012. “The Theosophical Temple Movement: Socialism, the Iroquois League, and the Politics of the Brotherhood of Man.” Pp. 215-34 in Esotericism, Religion, and Politics, edited by Arthur Versluis, Lee Irwin, and Melinda Phillips. Minneapolis: North American Academic Press.
LaDue, Francia (Blue Star). 1899. Beacon Fires. New York: Elliot B. Page and Co.
Shumway, Eleanor A. and Karen M. White. 2018. Halcyon. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing.
Temple of the People. 1925, 1985, 1985. Teachings of the Temple. Three Volumes. Halcyon: Temple of the People.
Temple of the People. 1900-2022. Temple Artisan. Syracuse and Halcyon: Temple of the People.
Campbell, Bruce F. 1980. Ancient Wisdom Revived: A History of the Theosophical Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ellwood, Robert S., Jr. 1986 Theosophy: A Modern Expression of the Wisdom of the Ages. Wheaton: Quest Books.
Ellwood, Robert S., Jr. 1979. Alternative Altars: Unconventional and Eastern Spirituality in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Fenton, William N. 1998. The Great Law and the Longhouse: A Political History of the Iroquois Confederacy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press
Fogarty, Robert S. 1990. All Things New: American Communes and Utopian Movements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hine, Robert V. 1973. California’s Utopian Colonies. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Kagan, Paul. 1975. New World Utopias: A Photographic History of the Search for Community. New York: Penguin Books.
Kuhn, Alvin Boyd. 1930. Theosophy: A Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom. New York: Henry Holt.
Miller, Timothy. 1998. The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America: Volume 1: 1900-1960. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
1 June 2023