SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY
Temple of the People
Arroyo Grande Hotels
Beach Hotels 4.7
Port San Luis
Halcyon a Township in San Luis Obispo County, California
Halcyon Store and Post Office
is the official town building which serves as post office, gift shop and
meeting center. On the surface, Halcyon looks like groupings of farms
and houses. But the women holding a meeting in Halcyon Store were
higher plain. They told me Halcyon is a township--and it's a gathering
place for those who seek enlightenment. They handed me a brochure
about The Temple of the People building tucked back from
Halcyon Road beyond an intersection with a gas station and a cemetery.
Founded in 1903 by Dr. William H. Dower and Francia LaDue
who left New York, heading west with the goal of establishing a nondenominational
Temple, they purchased a three story Victorian house which was called Halcyon
Hotel and Sanitarium. People from around the world came to be treated
for drug addiction, tuberculosis, alcoholism and other disorders. Dower
practiced medicine using a mix of traditional methods and healing
techniques which integrated natural surroundings such as the local sand
dunes and beach. A healthy lifestyle close to nature with homegrown fruits
and vegetables, outdoor sleeping pavilions and the native American practice
of using herbs for healing were all part of the regimen.
As life at the Temple became so appealing
that few wanted to leave, the group began purchasing land so guests
could stay and make a living. Some grew foods, herbs and flowers and
others took up pottery and art. The Temple now comprises approximately 95 acres with cottages,
farms and groves of trees where Monarch butterflies nest annually.
Halcyon Store and Post Office is a community center with
a meeting room, postal boxes for local mail delivery, a featured
artist display and unique gifts such as hand made cards, books, figurines,
knick knacks and conversational items.
A very large building, Blue Star Memorial Temple,
was established in 1923 with design by architect Theodore Eisen of Los
Angeles. Constructed with symbolism akin to Stonehenge and the pyramids
of Egypt, a basic mathematical number for design was 7 as in 7 days in
a week, 7 notes between octaves, 7 colors of light. Inside dimensions and
angles are multiples of 7 with pillars and design representing spiritual
Original Temple members included John and Agnes Varian.
John was a chiropractor and Agnes was the first postmistress and Halcyon
Store keeper. The Varians had three sons who were interested in electricity.
Two of the sons' research in Halcyon helped develop the klystron tube which
made radar possible. Two sons eventually outgrew Halcyon and moved
their research to Palo Alto, California, under the name, Varian
Integrating Theosophy with American Indian
culture, Halcyon and the temple attract people from around the world.
Temple Guardian Chief Eleanor L. Shumway succinctly summed up the
tourist experience. "Some people have come to Halcyon expecting
Utopia inhabited by saintly beings and have left, deeply disappointed.
They found a group of ordinary human beings with ordinary strengths and
weaknesses, united by a desire to live by the Golden Rule, knowing that
love can and does transcend all, eventually."
The Temple is open to the public and holds
healing services at 12:00 Noon each day. A 15-minute service offers
prayer and meditation for the health and safety of the world. Each
Sunday at 10: 30 a.m. there is a community event such as an
inspirational talk of interest with the public invited to attend. The
group requests that international guests not trek to the Temple,
believing that they can sign up to join a commune. The organization
prefers to maintain the semblance of individuals gathered in common
interest. Information: 805-489-2822