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Iceland, Theosophy in

The Icelandic Section was founded in Reykjavik at a collective meeting of the seven lodges in Iceland on August 12, 1920. The charter of the section was signed by Annie BESANT on January 5, 1921. The first General Secretary was Jakob Kristinsson, who resigned as a vicar among Icelandic settlers in Canada to take the position.

The first known records of theosophical studies in Iceland date back to 1909 when a few prominent persons in Akureyri in northern Iceland formed a study group to read and discuss Theosophy. The group was named Systkinabandiö (Fraternity) and became formally a lodge with the same name on April 20, 1913; and it is still one of the strongest in Iceland. On November 17, 1912, seven prominent individuals in Reykjavik met in the home of consul Ludvig Emil Kaaber to form the first formal lodge, Reykjavikurstukan (Reykjavik Lodge). It was founded under the Scandinavian section, as at that time Iceland was still a part of Denmark. Other members were Consul Kaaber’s wife, Astrid Kaaber, Harriet Kjaer, Georgia Bjornsson, Sigurdur Kristofer Petursson, Thorkell Thorlaksson and Jon Jonsson. At the first meeting, Jakob Kristinsson became a member of the lodge. The meetings in Reykjavik were at first held in consul Kaaber’s home, and then later in a room specially set out by him for the meetings. In April 1917, Ludvig Kaaber bought the former church of the Seventh Day Adventists at Ingolfsstraeti 22, and gave it to the Reykjavik Lodge, with the restriction that it should be available for the meetings of the Co-Freemasons as long as needed be. The house was formally consecrated for theosophical work on July 31, 1917. Two years later in the summer of 1919 extensive changes were made on the house and since then it is has been the principal residence of the Icelandic Section. The address is lngólfsstreti 22,101 Reykjavik, Iceland.

The publishing house “Hlidskjalf” was established in March 1961 and there have been a number of publications issued over the years.

The theosophical journal Gangleri was started in 1926 and has been published biannually, from that time to present, each copy 96 pages, packed with spiritual food. Almost from the beginning, it gained respect and popularity widely outside the circles of TS members and there have been sold 3 or 4 times more copies than there are members, reaching up to 2400 sold copies (1% of population!) in the sixties. The name Gangleri comes from the “Eddas” of the Nordic mythology. It was a name taken by the king of Sweden when traveling, disguised as a beggar, to the east to seek wisdom.

The Theosophical Culture and Education Fund. In October 1962, a member, Gudmundur Kristjansson from Siglufjördur, established the above fund with a gift of considerable amount of money. This fund is now the backbone of the financial situation of the section with capital of more than GBP 100,000 — of which the interest can be used for promoting Theosophy in Iceland.

In April 2004 the Icelandic Section comprised of 9 lodges and 340 members. A variety of programs are held weekly from October to White Lotus Day (May 8), which traditionally marks the end of the winter program. Public meetings are on Friday evenings with lectures and discussion panels and on Saturday afternoons there is an “open house” with short lectures on some subject and discussions afterwards. On Sunday afternoons there is a meditation hour with some instruction for beginners. On Tuesday evenings there is an eight-week self-culture/meditation course for beginners. The Summer School is held for some days at the end of June in the country-side.

List of General Secretaries-:

Jakob Kristinsson, 1920 - 1928 
Kristin Mafthiasson, 1928 - 1935
Grötar Fells, 1935 - 1956
Sigvaldi Hjalmarsson 1956 - 1967
Sigurlaugur Thorkelsson 1967 - 1970
Svava Fells 1970 - 1972
Sigvaldi Hjalmarsson 1972 - 1975
Karl Sigurdsson 1975 - 1976
Gudjön B. Baldvinsson 1976 - 1977
Einar Adalsteinsson 1977 - 1979
Birgir Bjarnason 1979 - 1982
Orn Gudmundsson 1982 - 1984
Helga Jóakimsdottir 1984 - 1987
Jön L. Arnaids 1987 - 1989
Einar Adalsteinsson 1989 - 1997
Jón L. Arnalds 1997 - 2001
Gisli V. Jonsson 2001-