Louise A. Off
Louise A Off (1864-1895) was a Theosophist and artist in California. She is best known for becoming the editor of The New Californian, the journal of the early American Section of the Theosophical Society. At one time, she was thought to use the pseudonym "Nizida," but that connection is now discredited.
Life and career
Louise A. Off was born in Newville, Wisconsin in 1864, as the daughter of a clergyman born in Germany. After spending her childhood in Springfield, Iowa, she settled in Los Angeles about 1882.
According to a compendium of artists' biographies, "She taught painting to small groups while active with women’s clubs and the social scene until her death there in 1895. Her works are rare due to her short life span."
Miss Off died of consumption at 31 years of age, on January 6, 1895, with her remains cremated on the 7th. She was said to be "a prominent member of the Society in California, and one of the pioneers of the movement on the Pacific Coast."
Theosophical Society involvement
Miss Off was a very early active member of the Theosophical movement in the United States, joining in 1886. She was secretary of one of the very first American lodges – the Los Angeles Theosophical Society. The group was chartered in 1885 as the seventh lodge in the United States, a year before the American Section formed. Mrs. Elizabeth A. Kingsbury was President. Miss Off "conducted in her home well-attended weekly meetings for the discussion of Theosophy."
Here are some of her other Theosophical Society activities:
- On April 22, 1888, she attended the first National Theosophical Convention, held in Chicago. She was a member of the general council.
- On October 12-13, 1889, Miss Off presented a paper, "A Few Suggestions Regarding the Higher Life" at the convention of the Pacific Coast Branches.
- At the annual convention of 1890 she was elected as a member of the Council, along with such prominent Theosophists as Dr. J. D. Buck, General Abner Doubleday, Elliott B. Page, and George E. Wright.
- In 1893 she was on the Advisory Committee for the Theosophical Congress at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
- She corresponded with "The Missouri Platonist," Thomas Moore Johnson.
In July 1892 she became editor of The New Californian as successor to Dr. Jerome Anderson. In addition to her work in this journal, she wrote articles for the Los Angeles Times, Pages from a Young Man's Journal, The Platonist, and Theosophical periodicals including Lucifer, Theosophical Siftings, and The Theosophist. These are some of the titles:
- "The Astral Light" Theosophical Siftings 3.7 (1890), 24. Available at this website and as an audio recording narrated by Sandra Brautigan at Itunes and Amazon.com.
- "A Fragment on the Requirements of a Theosophical Life" Theosophical Siftings 4.12 (1891), 13.
- "A Few Lines from California" The Theosophist Vol 10 (June, 1889), 524.
- "Echoes from the Vedas" The New Californian 3.8 (February, 1894), 255.
- "Love and Psyche" The New Californian 2.1 (July, 1892), 25.
Miss Off also participated in the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor and in the American Psychical Society. She was "active in the Nationalist movement of the 1890s inspired by Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward.
- "Louisa A. Off" on EdanHughes.com website. Available at this website.
- Anonymous. "Obituary" The Path 9.11 (February 1895), 408.
- "Theosophical Activities: America" Lucifer Vol 16 (March-August 1895), 81.
- "American Branches," The Path 5.12 (March, 1891), 394.
- Clifton L. Holland, "An Overview of Religion in Los Angeles from 1850 to 1930," Available at Prolades.com website.
- "Proceedings of the First National Theosophical Convention, Held in Chicago, April, 22d, 1888" The Hermeticist 1.8 (May, 1888). Available at IAPSOP website.
- "Theosophical Activities" The Path 4.9 (December, 1889), 291.
- "The Theosophical Convention," The Path (May, 1890), 72. Available at the Universal Theosophy website.
- The Theosophical Congress Held by the Theosophical Society at the Parliament of Religions (New York: American Section Headquarters TS, 1893), 12.
- Patrick D. Bowen and K. Paul Johnson, editors, eds. Letters to the Sage: Selected Correspondence of Thomas Moore Johnson Volume One: The Esotericists. Forest Grove, OR: The Typhon Press, 2016. See pages 264-266 for a biographical essay and one letter from Off to Thomas Moore Johnson.
- Patrick D. Bowen and K. Paul Johnson, 264-265.