Sunday, March 25, 2012

“New Yorkers Get a New Look at Madame Blavatsky”

Under this heading the Spring 2012 issue of the Quest magazine from the Theosophical Society in America contains an account of the program at the Rubin Museum in New York in January on “Tibet and the Occult.” Mitch Horowitz, the author of Occult America, who was one of the presenters, writes:

An evening devoted to Blavatsky’s life attracted a sold-out crowd to New York’s Rubin Museum of Art in January. The Rubin, a world center for art of the Himalayas, sponsored the event as part of its current exhibit on “Occult Tibet,” which explores how images and ideas of Tibet—both fanciful and serious—journeyed to America.

Historian Michael Gomes and I discussed Blavatsky’s life and work before an audience that overflowed the Rubin’s more than 150-capacity theater. Gomes spoke about the legacy of Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine and about his abridgement and annotation of the work in a new edition from Tarcher/Penguin. In particular, he noted similarities between developments in contemporary astronomical science and Blavatsky’s cosmology.

Gomes also covered the controversy surrounding the Masters and the question of Blavatsky’s travels in Tibet. Amid these debates, we explained, Blavatsky is rarely framed as a figure of spiritual seriousness, which obfuscates her legacy. Gomes saw the possibility of this changing in the present era, suggesting that we may be in the midst of a “Blavatsky revival.”

The issue also contains a guide to the historical archives at the American Section headquarters at Wheaton, Illinois, where it states that “during our 2012 Summer National Gathering, scholar Michael Gomes will be conducting a workshop on how to write a lodge history.”

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