Oscar Gustav Kollerstrom

Oscar Gustav Kollerstrom (1903-1977) was one of the most important of Leadbeater’s “boys” in his Sydney period. Oscar was born into a notable Sydney Theosophical family. He was the son of (Wilhelm) Gustav Kollerstrom (1864-1927), born in Sweden and migrated to Australia, and Mary Gertrude Kollerstrom (nee Hill). Gustav was a prominent manufacturing jeweller in Sydney and had made all Leadbeater’s episcopal regalia. He was ordained a Priest by Leadbeater in 1916.

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Oscar (centre), Sydney, 1920

Oscar had two sisters, Norna, who in 1928 married Harold Morton, General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Australia and a Liberal Catholic Priest, and Edythe Mimen Clara.

Oscar had been pre-eminent amongst the “boys” in Leadbeater’s circle, and signed as one of the “boy witnesses” to the documenting attesting to Leadbeater’s (initially) secret ordination as a Bishop by Wedgwood.

When Bishop James Wedgwood visited Sydney became attracted to him and, against Leadbeater’s wishes, subsequently travelled to Europe with Wedgwood.

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Oscar (far right) with Wedgwood (centre) in Europe

Oscar essentially lapsed from his Theosophical role as the movement focussed on The Coming developed and undertook studies in psychoanalysis with Georg Groddek (1866-1934), a physician, psychoanalyst and pioneer of “psychosomatic medicine”. He is best known in the English-speaking world for his work, The Book of the It (1923). After his training with Groddek, Oscar practised as a psychotherapist in London for the rest of his life.

In August 1925 he attended a Star Congress at which George Arundale announced that the Maitreya had chosen the “Twelve Apostles” who would work with him when he manifested in the world. Oscar was to be one of them. Only eight “Apostles” were publicly named, although the identities of the others were privately revealed. Leadbeater, in Sydney, was horrified by those revelations, declaring that he knew nothing of them, but felt that he could not publicly denounce them.

Oscar was married three time: 1. Barbara Pouschkine; 2. Dr Jean Winifred Kollerstrom; and 3. Bridget Mary Kollerstrom.

I interviewed Bridget at length in London. She worked as a psychotherapist continuing Oscar’s practice. At the time of her death she had been working on a biography of Oscar in conjunction with a psychiatrist, Dr G.J.K. Greenlaw of Carmarthen, Wales, to whom she introduced me.

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Oscar wrote The Actual and the Real. A Way of Thinking about Eternity, Turnstone Books,1974, which included his own version of a Eucharistic liturgy.

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I have series of tape recordings of interviews with Oscar made in the early 1970s in which he talks about his years with Leadbeater and Wedgwood.

I attended the memorial service held for him in London and conducted by Bishop James Burton, then Regionary Bishop for the Liberal Catholic Church in Britain.

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