Occult Chemistry and the Theosophical Aesthetics of the Subatomic World

Mark Morrisson


Rather than charting Theosophy’s impact upon early abstract art, this article examines the visual culture of Theosophy itself, and, in particular, the efforts of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater to use visual transcriptions of clairvoyant experience as scientific data. This data quickly took on aesthetic dimensions, and the unseen world of subatomic particles allowed an intersection of atomic physics and occultism that influenced the visual culture of Theosophy. An emphasis on experimental research profoundly shifted Theosophy’s visual culture away from dreamy symbolist aesthetics toward the abstraction of the “scientific” transcriptions in Thought-Forms and the abstract geometries of Occult Chemistry.


Theosophy; Annie Besant; C.W. Leadbeater; Thought-Forms; Occult Chemistry

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