The Truth About Madame Blavatsky.

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The Truth About Madame Blavatsky.

By Walter A. Carrithers



This pamphlet is a reply to Priestess of the Occult (Gertrude Marvin Williams, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1946). It is a discussion of certain well-known, but illegitimate, methods of journalism. It is a direct and unequivocal refutation (based on irrevocable fact and evidence) of baseless charges and fictitious histories. And it is a challenge to specious editorial policies and questionable publishing practices.

Gertrude Marvin Williams, in her biographical work, has attempted to portray the life of Madame Blavatsky. It will be shown that her attempt was not, apparently, made in good faith -- for, unfortunately, her literary data has been built of the debris that seventy years of slander have cast up on the sands of time. She has made charges of the gravest nature. But, as the reader will see, these charges are here met fully and fairly on the judgment of proof, and utterly discredited!

Further than this, however, counter-charges are directed against Mrs. Williams and her propaganda-agents, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. -- and an invitation to an open discussion of charges, proofs, and evidence has been made. Not only has the refutation-evidence received no attempted disproof, but the counter-charges have been unanswered, and both the author and her publishers have hastily rejected the invitation to defend "Priestess of the Occult"!

* * *

G. Baseden Butt once wrote, (Madame Blavatsky, page 2) "Madame Blavatsky was either incredibly wicked, or else was one of the most deeply wronged women known to history!" What she was is the problem of the question and charges at hand. Who she was is easily stated.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was the Founder of the Theosophical Movement; the literary-source of modern Occult Philosophy; and, without doubt, the most dynamic woman and the most baffling character of the Nineteenth Century.

In less than sixteen years, with world psychology at the zenith of a mechanistic-materialism, H. P. Blavatsky, almost alone and unaided, threw open the gates of Western speculation to the profoundest spiritual philosophies of the East.

Challenging alike dogmatic science and bigoted theology, H.P.B. (as she was called by her students) advanced the most disquieting claims before that Victorian age. She declared that she brought a message from Tibet to the Western world, a teaching that is "the sub-stratum and basis of all world-religions and philosophies, taught and practiced by a few elect ever since man became a thinking being." (1) She maintained that this Primordial Wisdom, this Theosophia or "Divine Knowledge" survives in its original virginity, tended by the devotion of certain Eastern Adepts, Mahatmas, living Sages who have pursued the evolution of human nature to the extremities of spiritual perfection. She reaffirmed the reality of ancient Magic, illustrating with apt demonstration the analogies of Theurgy and the supernormal phenomena of modern Spiritualism.

But the immediate discussion is not one of philosophical exposition -- but the charge of her critics that Madame Blavatsky was a charlatan!

This charge is neither new nor original with Priestess of the Occult. The accusation hounded H.P.B. from the founding of her Theosophical Society to the day of her demise -- and, when her ever-pungent pen was stilled in self-defence by death, the volley of imputation increased ten-fold. It has been alleged by an endless procession of ferocious critics that Madame Blavatsky was, among less gentle things, a French adventuress, a Russian spy, an embezzler, a blackmailer, a forger, a plagiarist, a drunkard, a dope fiend, a fraudulent Spiritist medium, a Satanist, an atheist, a Jesuit, and a bigamist.

Madame Blavatsky’s apologists contend, with some reason, that her foes, unable to stem the irresistible logic of her philosophy and the intractable vitality of her pen, have struck the foulest of all blows -- and have sought to discredit her writings by personal defamation.

Gertrude Marvin Williams, former newspaper journalist and self-appointed "cult" doctor or critic, is the latest scribe to nurse some of the more intelligible of these imposing charges. Her book would hardly merit any attention were it not a veritable encyclopedia reiteration of accusation. Mrs. Williams has consumed 354 pages with a grand and splashing panorama of infamy. The six great, concluding allegations of her pretentious "research" are that:

I. Madame Blavatsky’s claim to having visited Tibet was a "smoke-screen" to obscure her "scandalous conduct." (See Priestess of the Occult, p. 26.)

II. Madame Blavatsky’s most formidable claim to recognition, her literature, is dismissed by "scholars" as "inaccurate plagiarisms," and is the product of a ludicrous "fumbling" with Eastern Philosophy. (Ibid., pp. 209-11.)

III. Madame Blavatsky’s claim of special knowledge and powers for "Tibetan Adepts" is an "imposition on credulity." (Ibid., p.7.)

IV. Madame Blavatsky’s life was not "chaste in the austere paths of Occultism," but was a riot of lust and ignominy. (Ibid., p. 7.)

V. Madame Blavatsky was "exposed" in "flagrant fraud" by the English Society for Psychical Research; and one of her "confederates," a Mme. Coulomb, produced Madame’s own letters to substantiate the "exposure." (Ibid., pp. 10 and 230.)

VI. Madame Blavatsky’s allegiance to "Mahatmas" or "Masters" was only play, since the "messages and letters from Masters" were her own deceitful handiwork. (Ibid., p. 165.)

Mrs. Williams summarizes H.P.B.’s life as a "musky" morass of "...scandals, shadows of lovers dead and gone, bigamous marriages, an illegitimate son, fraud and trickery de luxe." (Ibid., p. 7.)

Now the reaffirmation of any charge is worthless without definite or actual proof. The question, therefore, is: Has Mrs. Williams, with the accumulated "evidence" of all previous critics, PROVED her charges against H. P. Blavatsky? What examination will the basic conclusions of her book bear? And is there any unquestionable proof to the contrary?

With these questions in mind, the writer unsuccessfully attempted to engage the author and her publishers in open correspondence regarding the final validity of any accusations against H.P.B. On December 13, 1946, I dispatched the following registered air-mail letter to the author. With the addition of explanatory footnotes, it is here reprinted.



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