Skip to main content

Knoche, Grace Frances

Grace Frances Knoche
             Grace Frances Knoche

(1909-2006). Leader from 1971-2006 of the Theosophical Society (TS) with International Headquarters at Pasadena, California, U.S. She was born on February 15, 1909, at Point Loma, California (International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, Pasadena 1900-1942). Her father, J. Frank Knoche, was general and business manager at the Headquarters for twenty years; her mother, Dr. Grace Green Knoche, was a writer, teacher, and International Superintendent of TS children’s work.

Educated at the Rāja-Yoga School and Academy, Knoche completed her education at the Theosophical University with a B.A. (1929), M.A. (1935), and Ph.D. (1944), her thesis being on “Theosophy in the Kabbalah.” She joined the Theosophical Society in 1929, shortly before the death of Katherine Tingley. Under Gottfried de PURUCKER, Knoche worked at the Theosophical University Press as a compositor (1929-32, 1945-6); in the Secretary General’s office (1935-46); and on the Leader’s secretarial staff (1935-42). At various times from 1933 to 1946 at the Headquarter’s schools, she taught violin, Elementary Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Bible Translation and Kabbalah at the Theosophical University, as well as primary and junior high school classes in clay modeling and painting at the Lomaland School. She also participated actively in theosophical lectures, field work, and study groups.

After Purucker’s death in 1942, Knoche became private secretary to Iverson L. HARRIS, Chairman of the Cabinet during its administration of the Society (1942-5). Under the leadership of Arthur L. CONGER (1945-51) at his request she assisted the American National President Oliver J. Schoonmaker and James A. Long at the American Section headquarters, Washington, DC (1946-7). Returning to the Headquarters at Covina, Knoche became Conger’s private secretary and subeditor of The Theosophical Forum. In 1949 she was appointed a member of the Cabinet and served as its Secretary, as well as Secretary of the Theosophical Endowment Corporation, posts she held until 1971. On Conger’s death in 1951, she became private secretary to the next Leader, James A. Long, and subeditor of Sunrise magazine until his death in 1971.

From 1971 to 2006 Knoche was Leader of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Director and Editor-in-Chief of Theosophical University Press, and Editor of the magazine Sunrise: Theosophic Perspectives. During her administration the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in its publications program features the source works of modern theosophy, and made the full text of most of its publications available on the internet. Sunrise continues to foster better understanding among all people and the application of theosophy to daily life and current thought. Theosophical library centers were opened to the public at the International Headquarters and in National Sections, sponsoring public meetings, study groups, and theosophical lending libraries; correspondence courses were also resumed.

Knoche encouraged an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation among the members of various theosophical organizations, while recognizing the value of each organization as an independent entity. Productive theosophical cooperation, she believes, is rooted in an inner meeting of hearts rather than in an artificial unity of organization or teachings.

For Knoche theosophy fundamentally is not a set of doctrines or an organization, but a stream of altruism flowing in unbroken continuity from the Silent Watcher of our Earth, through the Bodhisattvas and the Christs, on down to us ordinary human beings. At the same time, she suggested, one must distinguish carefully between the ancient wisdom, on the one hand, and, on the other, psychic fantasies and “individuals and groups professing to be teachers of occult knowledge who direct their appeals to the selfish and acquisitive traits of their followers.”

Knoche emphasized the theosophical work which takes place within each person’s consciousness, for “mankind is a living brotherhood of human souls, and how and what any one person thinks or does has its inevitable effect on the totality of world thought.” Because theosophy is “pre-eminently, a way of living, what one is is vastly important. If more and more individuals could grasp the strengthening truth that we are not mere automatons of fate, but are pilgrims of an evolutionary status far exceeding that of our transient personalities, and engaged in a cosmic mission whose dimensions reach far beyond the limits of our galaxy and its life periods, this would go a long way toward restoring to man his innate dignity.” Thus, however inadequate one may feel and however small the steps forward may seem to be, “we need continuously to rededicate ourselves to living the altruistic path that eventually leads to becoming, first, a bodhisattva and then a buddha of compassion.”

Knoche’s published writings include:

Theosophy in the Qabbalah. T.U.P. 2006

To Light a Thousand Lamps. T.U.P. 2001

The Mystery Schools. T.U.P. 1999

“The Spiritual Structure of Yoga” and “The Rationale of Meditation” (The Occult Review, London, July & Oct 1939; Oct 1940).

Theosophical Manual No. 14, 1940; Conferences since 1971, besides scores of articles in The Theosophical Forum and Sunrise, theosophical magazines published by the Theosophical Society (Pasadena).


© Copyright by the Theosophical Publishing House, Manila