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May 01

Origins of Halcyon, CA and Temple of the People

Paul Ivey will deliver a presentation based on his book “Radiance from Halcyon” a history of the Temple of the People. The program will take place Friday May 3 at 6 p.m. Meet at the IOOF Hall in Arroyo Grande at 128 Bridge Street (across from McLintock’s). Admission is free with a donation request in support of the South County Historical Society.

spherical triangle design of Temple of People has religious significance in Theosophy.

spherical triangle design of Temple of People has religious significance in Theosophy.


On March 12, 1977 Telegram-Tribune reporter Linnea Waltz wrote about the history of the community:

Halcyon temple work began with 1875 plan in New York
By Linnea Waltz
Staff Writer
Those halcyon days became reality in 1903 in San Luis Obispo County when followers of the Wisdom Religion — and an integral part of it, the theosophical movement — settled on land purchased south of Arroyo Grande by Temple of the People.
The temple named the community Halcyon and the Golden Rule became the most important law governing the conduct of the residents.
One of the first activities was the creation of a pottery studio and school, and, at first, a small printing establishment. The Halcyon Book Concern still is active. The temple’s magazine, called “The Temple Artisan,” has been published since the start.
The Temple of the People in Halcyon is the international headquarters, and its membership has spread throughout the world.
Guardian in Chief of the organization, and spiritual leader in the community, is Harold Forgostein, a retired art teacher from Morro Bay High School.
He is the fourth guardian of the temple since it was founded in 1898 by Francia A. LaDue and Dr. William H. Dower in New York. The first was Ms. LaDue followed by Dr. Dower, the Pearl F. Dower.
The temple is a direct continuation of work authorized in New York in 1875 by Madame Helena P. Blavatsky. Her work and its authority eventually became the co-responsibility of the two organizing founders.
Temple literature explains Wisdom Religion as “a world-old body of spiritual lore.” Temple teachings are that the history of man shows the appearance regularly in larger cycles of years of an avatar — or Christ — who epitomizes the influence of good on mankind. “For most men, the last recorded appearance of the avatar was 2,000 years ago as Jesus of Nazareth,” the teachings say.
“The 2,000 year cycle of this reappearance among men is the reason for the temple organization in 1898…and the realization of His presence has become a daily assignment of each temple member…And it is thus that He incarnates, heart by heart, mind by mind, until his presences is one day known from His highest to His least component.”
Forgostein explains the Temple of the People as “a philosophical, religious and humanitarian society.”
Foundation stones for the organization are religion, science and economics, but “the temple is not now nor was it ever a commune or cooperative enterprise,” the temple literature advises. “…Its reason for being is and always has rested on the inviolability of the Golden Rule.”
The objects, or goals, of the temple are fivefold:
1. To formulate religious truths as the fundamental factor in the evolution of the human race, but not the formation of a creed.
2. To set forth a life philosophy in accord with natural and divine law.
3. To promote the study of sciences, and the fundamental facts and laws on which they are based, for the extension of our belief and knowledge from the known to the unknown.
4. To promote the study and practice of art on fundamental lines, showing art is in reality the application of knowledge to human good and welfare.
5. To promote knowledge of the true social science, showing the relationship between man and man, and man Good and nature.
Even the temple structure has meaning. Triangular in shape, it is a symbol of deity, or the higher self, and of the trinity of God powers running through all systems of religion.
It is this triangular approach that allows no short cuts, for temple teachings say…”The only path to progress is based on service to mankind, the common good indicated by the Golden Rule.”

Harold Forgostein lights candles on altar.

Harold Forgostein lights candles on altar.

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