Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

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Helena Blavatsky

Helena Petrovna Hahn (July 31, 1831 (O.S.) (August 12, 1831 (N.S.)) - May 8, 1891 London, England), better known as Helena Blavatsky or Madame Blavatsky was the founder of Theosophy.



She was born in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk), Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire), the daughter of Col. Peter Alexeivich von Hahn and Elena Fadeev. Her mother, also known as Helena Andreyvna Fadeyev, was a novelist, known as the "Russian George Sand", and died when Helena was eleven. Her father being in the armed forces, she was sent with her brother to live with her maternal grandmother, Helena Pavlovna de Fadeev, a princess of the Dolgorukov family and a famous botanist. Both her mother and grandmother were strong role models that allowed her to mature into a nonconformist. She was cared for by servants who believed in the many superstitions of Old Russia, and apparently encouraged her to believe she had supernatural powers at a very early age.

She married when she was seventeen, on July 7, 1849, to the forty-year old Nikifor (also Nicephor) Vassilievitch Blavatsky. According to her account, they never consummated their marriage, and within a few months, she abandoned her husband. Other sources say that she had several extramarital affairs, became pregnant, and bore a deformed child, Yuri, whom she loved dearly. She wrote that Yuri was a child of her friends the Metrovitches (C.W.I p. xlvi-ii, HPB TO APS p. 147). He died at the age of five, and Helena said that she ceased to believe in the Russian Orthodox God at this point. According to her own story as told to a later biographer, she spent the years 1848 to 1858 traveling the world, claiming to have entered Tibet to study with the Ascended Masters for two years. She returned to Russia for a short stay in 1858 to soon leave with Italian opera singer Agardi Metrovich. In 1871, on a boat bound for Cairo an explosion claimed Agardi’s life, but H.P. Blavatsky continued on to Cairo herself. It was in Cairo that she formed the Societe Spirite for occult phenomena with Emma Cutting (later Emma Coulomb), which closed after dissatisfied customers complained of fraudulent activities.

It was in 1873 that she emigrated to New York City. Impressing people with her apparent psychic abilities she was spurred on to continue her mediumship. Throughout her career she claimed to be able to perform physical and mental psychic feats which included levitation, clairvoyance, out-of-body projection, telepathy, and clairaudience. One new feat of hers was materialization, that is, producing physical objects out of nothing. Though she was apparently quite adept at these feats, her interests were more in the area of theory and laws of how they work rather than performing them herself.

In 1874, Helena met Henry Steel Olcott; he was a lawyer, agricultural expert, and journalist who covered the Spiritualist phenomena. Soon they were living together in the "Lamasery" (alternate spelling: "Lamastery") where her work Isis Unveiled was created.

She married her second husband, Michael C. Betanelly on April 3, 1875 in New York City. She maintained that this marriage was not consummated either. She separated from Betanelly after a few months, and their divorce was legalized on May 25, 1878. On July 8, 1878, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

While living in New York City, she founded the Theosophical Society in September 1875, with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others. The Society was a modern day Gnostic movement of the late nineteenth century that took its inspiration from Hinduism and Buddhism. Madame Blavatsky claimed that all religions were both true, in their inner teachings, and false or imperfect, in their external conventional manifestations. Imperfect men attempting to translate the divine knowledge had corrupted it in the translation. Her claim that esoteric spiritual knowledge is consistent with new science may be considered to be the first instance of what is now called New Age thinking. In fact, many researchers feel that much of New Age thought started with Blavatsky.

By 1882 the Theosophical Society became an international organization, and it was at this time that she moved the headquarters to Adyar near Madras, India.

Her last words in regard to her work were: "Keep the link unbroken! Do not let my last incarnation be a failure."

Suffering from heart disease, rheumatism, Bright's disease of the kidneys, and complications from influenza, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky died at her home May 8, 1891. Her body was then cremated; one third of her ashes were sent to Europe, one third with William Quan Judge to the United States, and one third to India where her ashes were scattered in the Ganges River. May 8 is celebrated by Theosophists, and it is called White Lotus Day.

She was succeeded as head of the Theosophical Society, by her protege, Annie Besant.


Blavatsky was influenced by the following authors:

Blavatsky influenced the following authors:


Her books included

Her many articles have been collected in the H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings. This series has 14 volumes including the index.

Books about her

  • The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky by Daniel Caldwell [5] (http://esotericworld.net)
  • HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky by Sylvia Cranston
  • Theosophy: History of a pseudo-religion, by Ren頇u鮯n [6] (http://www.spiritusmundi.net/english/authors/guenon_rene.htm)
  • H. P. Blavatsky and the SPR by Vernon Harrison [7] (http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/hpb-spr/hpbspr-h.htm)
  • H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement by Charles Ryan [8] (http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/hpb-tm/hpbtm-hp.htm)
  • Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine by Max Heindel (1933; from Max Heindel writings & with introduction by Manly P. Hall), [9] (http://correiorosacruz.netfirms.com/blavatsky.htm)
  • Madame Blavatsky's Baboon by Peter Washington Review (http://home.pacbell.net/amsec/theo2b.html)


There is no religion higher than truth.

"There is often greater martyrdom to live for the love of, whether man or an ideal, than to die" is a motto of the Mahatmas. (C.W. IV, p. 603)

Nothing of that which is conducive to help man, collectively or individually, to live?not ?happily??but less unhappily in this world, ought to be indifferent to the Theosophist-Occultist. It is no concern of his whether his help benefits a man in his worldly or spiritual progress; his first duty is to be ever ready to help if he can, without stopping to philosophize. (Collected Writings VOLUME XI, p. 465, October, 1889)

I speak ?with absolute certainty? only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any ?authority? let alone "divine revelation"! (Collected Writings VOLUME XI, p. 466, October, 1889)

I am an old Buddhist pilgrim, wandering about the world to teach the only true religion, which is truth.


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