Skip to main content


Perennial Wisdom Resources

Summary of the Overall Resource

Perennial Wisdom Resources in Special Collections currently consists of three library collections: The Krotona Theosophy and Perennialism Collection, the Lomaland Theosophy and Perennialism Collection and the Peter Philp Collection of Western Esotercism. These recently acquired collections share a common thread and inspiration: the 'essential unity of all religions' and the Theosophical Society's Sanskrit motto 'There is no Religion Higher than Truth,' promoted by Theosophy founder, Helena Blavatsky. The Krotona Institute of Theosophy Collection is historically sourced in the work of the social reformer, educator and Theosophist Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater and Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Lomaland Collection is linked with the Lomaland community (1897-1942) and the work of its founder, the Theosophic educator and social reformer Katherine Tingley and the theosophic philosophy of G. dePurucker. The Peter Philp Collection is primarily focused around Philp's theosophy-inspired interest in Western Esotericism.

Together the collections comprise approximately nine thousand volumes and cover a broad range of perennial wisdom traditions, including the primary world religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam, as well as Taosim, Global Mytholgy, the philosophy and religions of ancient Greece, Egyptian religion and mythology, Neoplatonism, Gnosticisim, Sufi traditions, Poetry, Literature, Art, Western Esotericism, Alchemy, Theosophy, Indigenous cultures of the Americas, Meso-American culture, and more. 

During the course of 2020, it is our goal to bring greater access and availability to this collection and the cultural values these traditions bring to the world today.

Kenneth R. Small, curator

*Grateful acknowledgement and sincere thanks to Hayley Torres and Julia Friedman for their dedicated assistance in the construction of this resource.

The Peter Philp Collection

The overview paradigm and inspiration for The Peter Philp Library of Western Esotericism was inspired by Theosophy founder Helena Blavatsky's (1831-1891) understanding of the 'essential unity of all religions' and the Theosophical Society's Sanskrit motto 'There is no Religion Higher than Truth.' Philp's view is also sourced in an essay by the Greek classicist, Gnostic scholar and theosophist, G. R. S. Mead (1863-1933). In his March 1891 essay, Mead outlined a broad-based overview of the essential perennialism found in the Western Wisdom Traditions, including the Greek philosophies of Plato, Pythagorus, pre-Socratics and Neoplatonism, Greek drama, mystery schools, Gnostic literature and Christian Mysticism, Hermetic philosophy and Alchemy, Jewish Kabbalah, Global Mythology, European folk religions and 'the nature of the soul and states after death.' Mead's view was to complement the study of the translations and promotion of perennial wisdom from Asia that was already in place, especially focused on India, of which Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society were at the forefront. Peter Philp, in his decades of perennial wisdom book collecting, maintained this theosophic basis as the underlying template and inspiration for his ever growing collection.

Krotona Institute of Theosophy Collection

The Krotona Institute of Theosophy collection is composed of books and periodicals from the Krotona Institute of Theosophy Library, in Ojai, California. This unique collection comprises primarily writings published in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. These works cover a broad range of theosophic and perennial wisdom subjects, including books on Western Esotericism, Eastern Philosophy and Religion, Christianity, Neoplatonism, Theosophy and the writings of Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater and Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Lomaland Theosophy Collection

The Lomaland Theosophy Collection contains books and periodicals from the Lomaland Theosophy community in Point Loma, San Diego (1897-1942). The Lomaland community founded by Katherine Tingley was known for its emphasis on the creative arts and education, with its Raja Yoga School its central focus. This growing collection contains a broad range of books and periodicals from Theosophy as well as writings from the Perennial Wisdom Traditions. Also included are the works of its key figures, Katherine Tingley and G. de Purucker, and central Lomaland authors, Kenneth Morris, Talbot Mundy, Osvald Siren, William E. Gates, and W. Y. Evans-Wentz. This collection interfaces with the Kenneth R. Small Lomaland archival collection held in the Department of Special Collections at the San Diego State University Library.

Searching the Perennial Wisdom Resources

To most effectively search across all three libraries, select one of the advanced search options from the drop-down menu in the search bar at the top of the page. To access the menu, click on the ellipsis next to the magnifying glass.