Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. Så kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.
- I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
Nocturne in G Flat major
Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.
A Musical Note
A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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Saturday, March 24, 2012
HELENA BLAVATSKY AND THE THEOSOPHISTS, PART THREE: HELENA AND HENRY OLCOTT IN INDIA, AND AN ICON'S DEATH IN LONDON
In February of 1879, Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott arrived in Bombay, India and immediately went to work establishing the Theosophical Society's headquarters there. Learning of their arrival in the city, Alfred Sinnett, editor of The Pioneer, a government newspaper based in Allahabad, contacted them and arranged to meet with them. Contact with Sinnett proved to be extremely beneficial to Helena and Olcott, and the Society in general, as he was deeply interested in their work and put himself at their disposal, both as a guide and as a social and political liaison. The first order of business for the pair was a tour of northwestern India, following which they returned to Bombay and began the publication of the Society's official, and still active journal The Theosophist. In 1884, Helena and Olcott established another branch of the Theosophical Society's Eastern Headquarters in Adyar, Madras, where they remained until leaving India for good in 1888.
It was during this period that Helena initiated a correspondence between Sinnett and her Mahatmas, the two Adepts or Spiritual teachers with whom she claimed to be contact and who were supposedly guiding her work on behalf of the Society. In her book, Isis Unveiled, Helena described a mahatma as a highly evolved person devoted to overseeing the development of specific individuals and to civilizations as well. The mahatmas were part of the spiritual hierarchy of Earth and belonged to the Great Brotherhood of Light, which is also known as The Great White Lodge or Great White Brotherhood, she claimed, and insisted, further, that she was being guided by two such adepts, who she referred to as the Masters Koot Hoomi and Morya. According to Helena, Koot Hoomi and Morya lived in the Himalayas, but were able to contact her through telepathic means, and even through hand-written letters, which would appear mysteriously in response to her own hand-written questions left out for them overnight. Not surprisingly, these claims were met with derision on the part of her critics, who dismissed them as just another example of HPB's fraudulence. Sinnett had no such doubts. Between 1880 and 1885, he maintained a regular correspondence with Helena's Masters, eventually publishing their responses to his questions in a book called The Mahatma Letters, which was published in London in 1923.
The controversy surrounding Helena's claims of her contact with the Mahatmas reached all the way to England, where members of the Society For Psychical Research decided that an investigation of the claims was in order. In 1884, the SPR sent Richard Hodgson, a Cambridge graduate in his 20s who would later serve as SPR president, to India for the purpose of investigating the claims. Unfortunately, by the time Hodgson arrived in Adyar, Helena and Olcott had left India to spend some time in Germany, France, and, ironically, England. This didn't stop Hodgson from carrying out what he had come to India to do. Described by contemporaries as a young man possessing "excessive self-confidence and hubris", Hodgson set about interviewing members of the Adyar headquarters staff, specifically Alexis and Emma Coulomb.
The Coulombs were hardly the Theosophical Society's best bet when it came to defending Helena and her claims. In fact, in Helena and Olcott's absence, the couple had been circulating stories that they had seen letters in which Helena had admitted to fraudulence in connection with the correspondence between Sinnett and the Mahatmas. In the course of their interviews with Hodgson, they reiterated their accusations, sealing Helana's fate as far as Hodgson was concerned, despite the fact that other members of the Adyar staff pointed out that the Coulombs had previously signed a statement testifying that they "had positive knowledge of the Mahatmas." Much later, it would come to light that the Coulombs had made their accusations after accepting bribes from local Christian missionaries resentful of Helena and the Theosophical Society. But by then, Hodgson had already returned to England and published his damning report (still quoted by modern detractors) in which he stated that "(Helena Blavatsky) has achieved a title to permanent remembrance as one of the most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting imposters in history." All this without ever having spoke to Helena herself. It was a huge blow for the Theosophical Society, even more so for Helena, who returned to Adyar in December of that same year, well aware of what had taken place in her absence and anxious to clear her name via a lawsuit against Hodgson and the SPR. However, in an effort to avoid further controversy, the Society refused to allow her to pursue that goal, a debilitating lack of support which left Helena disheartened and demoralized and precipitated a bout of ill health. Frustrated and depressed, she left India in March of 1888, never to return.
Following her departure from India, Helena relocated to London, where she once again devoted herself to work on behalf of the Theosophical Society, overseeing its activities throughout Europe and attracting a new wave of converts and disciples. One of her most impressive "conquests" was English political activist and self-avowed "secularist" Annie Besant, who made contact with Helena after reading The Secret Doctrine, Helena's monumental treatise on the spiritual philosophy and ancient occult belief systems behind Theosophy, which she had written on her return to England and published to great acclaim. A prolific writer herself, Besant sought out Helena in Paris and was so impressed with what Helena had to say that she renounced secularism and joined the ranks of the Theosophists. Besant's conversion to theosophy came as a shock to many of those who knew her, but having made her commitment to Helena's cause, the former secularist never looked back and devoted the remainder of her life to promoting the tenants of theosophy, even representing them at the Chicago World Fair in 1893.
Despite her continued efforts on behalf of the Theosophical Society, the Mahatmas controversy had taken an overwhelming physical and emotional toll on Helena. After leaving India, she was a broken woman, her health ruined, her subsequent work on behalf of the Society permanently tempered by a physical and emotional weariness that sometimes kept her in bed for days at a time. When she did go out, she was often seen riding in a small cart which staff members would push down the street like a backwards rickshaw. Somehow none of this seemed to affect her ability to write. She wrote and published three major works during this time, Voice of the Silence, The Key To Theosophy, and Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, as well as a host of articles on Theosophy and Buddhism, and even a series of occult novels, which were published jointly under the title Nightmare Novels. At one point in late 1888, she took to her bed with an unidentified illness from which doctors did not expect her to recover. But, amazingly, she did, telling her relieved friends and staff members that, whilst in the throes of her illness, she had visited the astral plane where she was given the choice of remaining there or returning to the physical world for an additional three years to complete her work. Not surprisingly, being Helena Blavatsky, she of course chose to return to the flesh and finish what she had started.
For the next three years, she continued to devote herself to the advancement of Theosophical beliefs and principals. But at the start of the century's last decade, she began once more to flag. Telling her inner circle of friends and associates that the end was now drawing near, she charged them with the task of carrying on with her work and with that of the Society. Even so, the end took its time coming. She spent the late winter of 1891 confined to her bed and unable to write, although she still saw visitors, many of whom later commented on the fact that, despite the frailness of her body, her mental facilities remained remarkably sharp as she continued to engage in discourse wit them on her favorite subject and lifelong passion: occultism and ancient spiritual teachings. Finally, on May 8, 1891, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky closed her eyes for the final time, took her last earthly breath, and made the shift to the other side. Close friends were bereft, Henry Olcott among them, his admiration for his late partner and friend so great that he prevailed upon fellow members of the Theosophical Society to establish May 8 as "White Lotus Day" in commemoration of Helena's death and in celebration of her tireless efforts on behalf of theosophy.
Helena's body was cremated two days after her death, her ashes scattered across England, the United States, India, and across the ocean. Theosophists still celebrate White Lotus Day. Critics and detractors continue to make accusations and to write articles and books "exposing" the founder of Theosophy as a fraud and a charlatan. But her books are still in print, and thousands of people continue to buy and read them, making it clear that, whether or not Helena Blavatsky was what she claimed to be, her work stands on its own and still resonates with those who encounter it. If she was a fraud, she was an exceptionally intelligent, selfless one who continued to espouse her beliefs through the spoken word and in print despite the fact that she made very little money from doing so, and, at the time of her death, was nearly penniless, just as she had been when she first came to America.
Helena's own views on her purpose in life and what awaited her after the completion of her work here on Earth can be found in the pages of The Key To Theosophy, in which she writes "There is hardly a human being whose Ego does not hold free intercourse, during the sleep of his body, with those whom it loved and lost, yet, on account of the positiveness and non-receptivity of its physical envelope and brain, no recollection, or a very dim, dream-like remembrance, lingers in the memory of the person once awake. We are with those whom we have lost in material form, and far, far nearer to them now, than when they were alive. And it is not only in the fancy of the Devachanee, as some may imagine, but in reality. For pure divine love is not merely the blossom of a human heart, but has its roots in eternity. Spiritual holy love is immortal, and Karma brings sooner or later all those who loved each other with such a spiritual affection to incarnate once more in the same family group. Again we say that love beyond the grave, illusion though you may call it, has a magic and divine potency which reacts on the living. A mother's Ego filled with love for the imaginary children it sees near itself, living a life of happiness, as real to it as when on earth - that love will always be felt by the children in flesh. It will manifest in their dreams, and often in various events - in providential protections and escapes, for love is a strong shield, and is not limited by space or time."