Tag Archives: Theosophy

The Mysterious Madame Blavatsky – Psychic or Charlatan?

HpbMadame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (HPB to her followers) was a controversial 19th century medium, psychic, author and co-founder of the Theosophical Society.  She claimed to be in contact with the ‘The Masters’, astral beings of great psychic powers who bestowed upon her the ancient secret science of Theosophy.  The society grew from a modest start in 1875 to become a multi-national organization with thousands of members and branches that still exist today.

So who was this mysterious woman, chased by scandal her entire life?  Blavatsky  was born Helena von Hahn in Ukraine 1831.  At 17, her family married her off to Governor Blavatsky, an imperious man over 20 years her senior. After 3 months, she took one of his horses and left him;  keeping his name, however, for the rest of her life.

At age 20 in London, she claims to have met a ‘Master,’ a tall, handsome Indian prince named Morya. She says he recruited her on a ‘Great Mission’ to help all of humanity. She began to study Eastern mysticism and slowly gained a reputation in England as a spirit medium, claiming both telepathy and telekinesis as well.

 In 1868, Blavatsky traveled to Tibet where she claimed her Master Morya took her to the mythical city of Shamballah in the Himalayas.

There she met many other ‘Masters,’ astral beings with great psychic powers, including the immortal Count of Saint-Germain.  Blavatsky said the Masters bestowed upon her the ‘Sacred Secret Sciences.’

As one would expect, suspicion and scandal followed such a person. In Egypt, she formed the Societe Spirite.  But after repeated accusations of swindling and bogus phenomena, officials forced them to disband and leave Cairo, else face arrest.  Unperturbed, Blavatsky simply moved elsewhere.

At age 42, she said Master Morya sent her to America in 1873. Blavatsky’s reputation as a medium grew rapidly in New York City as she began writing in various spiritualist periodicals. She married again, to Michael Betanelly to gain U.S. citizenship. Similar to her first marriage, they separated after 4 months.  She claimed neither marriage was ever consummated and she remained caste her entire life.

A year later, she met Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, a lawyer investigating the occult, not as a skeptic, but as a believer. Blavatsky so impressed Olcott with her psychic abilities and mystical knowledge they became business partners.  Together they co-founded the Theosophical Society.  Theosophy, or Divine Wisdom, is a mystic philosophy believing in ‘ancient secrets’ including cosmic evolution, spiritual planes, and universal religion.

She wrote her first book, Isis Unveiled claiming it was copied (not written) with ‘her hand in the astral light.’

It was reviewed by most newspapers of the day as’ transcendental nonsense.’ Nevertheless, the first printing sold out and it help spread Theosophy beyond US borders. Blavatsky and Olcott moved the Society headquarters to Madras in 1878.

In India, they were less than welcomed, but managed to publish a monthly magazine, The Theosophist.  At their new headquarters, the Ascended Masters supposedly visited Blavatsky in their ‘higher astral non-corporeal state’ at a shrine built on the roof, where she could contact the Masters daily via her astral writings.

hpbtm-c1Blavatsky was now 51 and her health began to deteriorate in the intense Indian heat.  In London, the Royal Academy formed the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) to scientifically investigate paranormal phenomena. Two TS employees declared Blavatsky a fraud who used slight of hand and trap doors to fool its members. They said the Masters were her complete invention with which she duped a gullible Olcott.

The Theosophical Society thus became a target of the SPR.  Olcott welcomed an investigation in order to defend Theosophy.  Saying the Indian climate was causing her health to fail, Blavatsky left India for the last time.

 In 1885, the Society for Psychical Research issued a stinging report.

For our part we regard her neither as a mouthpiece of hidden seers, nor a vulgar adventuress.  We think she is one of the most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting imposters in history.’  The SPR considered the Masters a Blavatsky fabrication aided and abetted by confederates. All her psychic phenomena were various forms of deception, helped by the credulity of dupes like Olcott.

Never one to be slowed by scandal, Blavatsky carried on, returning to London and with the help of the British society, started a second magazine, Lucifer (Lightbearer).  A rift began to form between between Olcott, still in India, and the British branch of the TS.

In London, Blavatsky finished her second and third books, The Secret Doctrine and The Key to Theosophy. She also launched an attack against Christian churches. ‘Only Theosophy,’ she decreed, ‘offered the secret doctrine that lay hidden beneath all earthly religions.’ Needless to say, both clergy and scientists rose up against her.

In the U.S., the New York Sun resurrected the old accusations from Egypt and reported the results of the SPR.  This included a brand new charge of plagiarism. The article stated Blavatsky stole much of the material in her three books from existing Buddhist and Hindu texts.  The TS promptly sued the newspaper which reported:

The ingredients of a successful charlatan are having no conscience, some brains, much courage, corrosive selfishness, vainglorious ambition, and monumental audacity. Blavatsky has all these.’

 In 1891, Blavatsky came down with a severe case of influenza.

Already suffering from a weak heart, rheumatism and Bright’s disease, she passed away on May 8th at only 60.  Her detractors consider her one of the most successful charlatans of the 19th century. Her Theosophy supporters believe her one of their founding saints.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, Madame Blavatsky managed to lead an international organization in an age when very few women wielded such power. Say what you will about Blavatsky and her followers, but if chicanery was their only sin, it pales in comparison to today’s modern New Age Cults.

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Similar themed posts: 10 Theories about  the ageless Count Saint-Germain


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10 Reasons Saint Germain Sounds so Darn Familiar

blvd_st-germain_sign6447The main character of “The Man Who Would Not Die,” my historical adventure novel is none other than the mysterious, ageless Count of Saint-Germain, or if you prefer in French, le Comte de St-Germain – Alchemist, Spy, Freemason, and general Enigma.  But this is but one of the many instances of this familiar French name.  Some of the others you may recognize are listed below:

Saint Germain-des-Prés

My absolute favorite place in Paris. A popular west bank Faubourg, known for its cafes, shops, and wide, tree-lined boulevard.  It surrounds the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris, named for … well, I am getting ahead of myself.  Read on.

Saint Germain-en-Laye

A delightful French town located in the northwest suburbs of Paris on the forested banks of the River Seine.  Prior to the French Revolution, its fabulous Chateau Neuf, was the residence of numerous French kings, including a young and future Louis XIV.

Paris Saint-Germain

Known simply as PSG to its fans, a hugely popular professional soccer (football) team based in Paris.  Also known as the Red and the Blue, they’re the 3rd most successful football club in all of France and the second most popular after its arch-rivals Marseille.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

American novelist who has penned a long series of historical romance novels with Count Saint-Germain as her tortured protagonist.  She portrays him as an immortal vampire with numerous beautiful lovers, who has lived since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs.

St. Germain, the liquor

A delicious French liquor flavored with elder flowers and owned by none other than Bacardi.  A shot goes quite well in a glass of dry white wine, champagne or a number of mixed drinks, including the highly recommended Green Margarita!

Saint-Germain’s Tea

More a remedy than beverage.  Created by Count Saint Germain himself for the Russian Navy.  A blended tea of crushed senna pods, elder flowers, and ground fennel seeds.   Careful, physicians used it as an 18th century purge!  Similar blends are still sold today as an herbal remedy for mild irregularity.

Potage Saint-Germain

A delicious creamed French soup of pureed peas & spinach available in many left bank French restaurants. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with a hot loaf of crusty French bread and a bottle of burgundy in a Parisian sidewalk cafe.  Bon Appetit!

Treaty of Saint Germain

One of several treaties which ended World War I, the so called ‘War to End All Wars.’  It was signed by British, French, American Allies and Austria on 10 September 1919 in the Chateau Neuf in St. Germain-en-Laye.  The more famous Treaty of Versailles was between the Allies and Germany.

Saint Germain Foundation®

A religious organization based on the principles of Theosophy founded by Madame Blavatsky.  It bases its doctrines on the teaching of Guy Ballard.  The organization’s philosophy is known as the “I Am” Activity® and has spawned numerous spiritual splinter groups including the Summit Lighthouse the Church Universal and Triumphant.  They consider Count Saint Germain one of their Ascended Masters.

St. Germain, the US town

A charming town in the heart of America’s Wisconsin Northwoods, surrounded by over 1300 small lakes.  For the outdoor lover, St. Germain boasts year round activities including fishing, hunting, boating, snowmobiling, and of course cross-country skiing.

St. Germanus

And last but not least, the original Catholic Saint, patron of the poor, ordained Bishop of Paris in the year 555 by French King Childebert and canonized in 754.  He is buried in the crypt of the left bank abbey church in Paris that bears his now familiar name.

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