Besant, Annie (1847-1933)
Prominent English social reformer and theosophist, successor to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky as the international leader of the Theosophical movement.
Besant was born Annie Wood in London, England, October 1, 1847, and was raised by a widowed mother in a very religious environment. She married Frank Besant, an Anglican clergyman, in 1867 but separated from him five years later because of doctrinal differences.
Besant then joined the National Secular Society and with the atheist journalist Charles Bradlaugh crusaded for free thought, birth control, and women's rights. Besant was also a member of the socialistic Fabian Society.
During the 1880s Besant denounced unhealthy working conditions and low wages for women factory workers, leading the Match Girls’ Strike in 1888.
An admired speaker on women’s rights, Besant was elected to the London School Board and earned a science degree from London University. She continued to advocate the legalization of birth control, and produced other writings endorsing free thought and atheism while criticizing Christianity. An 1887 pamphlet, “Why I Do Not Believe in God,” coauthored with Bradlaugh, added to her notoriety.
In 1887, Besant met Spiritualist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), who in 1885 had founded the Theosophical Society. Besant embraced Blavatsky’s beliefs, which seemed to ignite a religious awakening within her. The Theosophical Society split into two branches after Blavatsky’s death in 1891, with Annie Besant as president of one of them.
A few years after her conversion to Theosophy, Besant emigrated to India, where she spent the rest of her life. There she founded the Central Hindu College in 1898, and campaigned for Indian home rule. In 1916 she established the Indian Home Rule League , and became its president. In 1917, she became president of the Indian National Congress, but would break ties with Ghandi.
Besant wrote widely on theosophy, but remained in India until her death in 1933. She returned to the West in 1926–1927 and traveled extensively in Great Britain and the United States with her protege, Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom she announced as the new Messiah — a claim he later renounced.
See Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Theosophy, The Chakra Store, Mystic Gifts and Charms - New Age Gift Shop & Wicca and Pagan Supplies, Love Spells -- Use these powerful love spells to help you find and keep your true love, The Tarot Store, Divination & Scrying Tools and Supplies, Unique Amulets, Talismans, Good Luck Charms, and Love Tokens, Powerful Witch Doctor Spell Kits, Powerful Spells - Cast by Andreika the Witch, Webmasters Make $$$, AzureGreen - Celebrating All Paths to the Divine, ISIS - Tools for Your Soul's Journey, and The Pyramid Collection - Myth, Magick, Fantasy and Romance.
Sources: (1) Shepard, Leslie (editor), Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Thomson Gale; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) Steiger, Brad and Sherry Hansen, The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, Thomson Gale.
| || |