Temple of the People

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Halcyon a Township in San Luis Obispo County, California 


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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 on a 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 concepts.  



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 Electronics Firm.  



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