The Spiritual Realm
The third chapter of The Sedimentary Effect, “The Spiritual Realm,” will begin to unfold in 2024 through collaborations with choreographers, composers, and artists who will work together on a multiact performative Commission inspired by early spiritual intentional communities that emerged in San Diego and Baja California, as well as Conversations with specialists and the commission of new writing for the INSITE Journal. The main stories for this chapter include Lomaland, a Theosophical society founded by spiritual leader Madame Katherine Tingley that flourished from 1898 to 1942 in Point Loma, San Diego; the Lemurian Fellowship, founded by physician Robert D. Stelle in 1936 in Ramona, San Diego as a school of universal philosophy, its history having been widely disseminated by the founder of Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky; and Rancho La Puerta, initiated in 1940 by philosopher and linguist Edmond Szekely as a school of philosophy and health retreat in Tecate, Baja California. Although separated in time, these communities share a similar interest in ancient wisdom, spirituality, myth, religion, health, and nature.
Essential components of this chapter are the body, conceived in spirituality as that which embodies, enacts, and transmits ancestral knowledge, and geology as the root for the foundation of all these communities (thus a significant connection with the first chapter of this project, “Erratic Fields”). In the case of the body, Tingley embraced dramaturgy and the performative as tools for spreading the principles of Theosophy—she directed several plays and built America’s first Greek-style amphitheater, which still exists on the grounds of Lomaland; Szekely developed mind-body therapies to heal the body, such as cosmotherapy, a process of connecting the body to the cosmos through physical activity in the sun, air, and movement. In addition to healing exercises, the Lemurians share with the Theosophists the notions of karma and reincarnation.
In the second case, the physical location of these societies was fundamental to their establishment. Lomaland was founded on the cliffs that formed a small peninsula (Point Loma) after millions of years of sediment accumulation—also the site of the first European expedition to what was to become California; the location of Rancho La Puerta was chosen by Professor Szekely because of its giant boulders and its proximity to Mount Cuchumá (a sacred site for the Kumeyaay people); and the principles of the Lemurian community are based on the idea that the first inhabitants lived on the lost continent of Lemuria, or Mu, which lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, a theory popularized by Theosophists.