Thursday, June 16, 2011

Investigating the Supernatural in France

Mme. Blavatsky and Theosophy get a brief mention in Sofie Lachapelle’s book,
Investigating the Supernatural: From Spiritism and Occultism to Psychical Research and Metapsychics in France, 1853–1931, published in April by John Hopkins University Press.

In 1875, the same year that [Eliphas] Lévi died, a new occultist movement building on this enthusiasm for things Eastern was created in New York when Helena Petrovna Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society with the help of lawyer and journalist Henry Steel Olcott. Theosophy consisted of a set of mystical teachings inspired by esoteric traditions of the East. In its aims, the Theosophical Society demarcated itself from other occult groups by its discussion of universal fraternity and its focus on a set of Aryan and Eastern teachings.

While noting that “Theosophy was never as popular in France as in the Anglo-Saxon world, but it introduced many to occultist traditions and functioned as a catalyst to the larger movement,” the author says, “For most of the 1880s, the occultist revival taking a hold of France centered on the Theosophical doctrine.” Le Lotus Bleu, the theosophical journal started in 1890 in France, did not, as the author claims, survive until 1986, but is still published.

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