The compiler of the 14 volumes of Blavatsky’s Collected Writings, Boris de Zirkoff, adds the following note on Blavatsky’s use of the term: “Speaking of herself as a Spiritualist and a follower of Spiritualism, H.P.B. meant what she called ‘ancient Spiritualism’ and Spiritualism according to the ‘ancient Alexandrian way’” (I:74). The following passage from Isis Unveiled (1877, I:320-21) is indicative of this.
For fear of being misunderstood, we would remark that while, as a rule, physical phenomena are produced by the nature-spirits, of their own motion and to please their own fancy, still good disembodied human spirits, under exceptional circumstances, such as the aspiration of a pure heart or the occurrence of some favoring emergency, can manifest their presence by any of the phenomena except personal materialization. But it must be a mighty attraction indeed to draw a pure, disembodied spirit from its radiant home into the foul atmosphere from which it escaped upon leaving its earthly body.
Magi and theurgic philosophers objected most severely to the “evocation of souls.” “Bring her (the soul) not forth, lest in departing she retain something,” says Psellus.
“It becomes you not to behold them before your body is initiated,
Since, by always alluring, they seduce the souls of the uninitiated,”
says the same philosopher, in another passage.
They objected to it for several good reasons. (1) “It is extremely difficult to distinguish a good daemon from a bad one,” says Iamblichus. (2) If a human soul succeeds in penetrating the density of the earth’s atmosphere—always oppressive to her, often hateful—still there is a danger the soul is unable to come into proximity with the material world without that she cannot avoid; “departing, she retains something,” that is to say, contaminating her purity, for which she has to suffer more or less after her departure. Therefore, the true theurgist will avoid causing any more suffering to this pure denizen of the higher sphere than is absolutely required by the interests of humanity. It is only the practitioner of black magic who compels the presence, by the powerful incantations of necromancy, of the tainted souls of such as have lived bad lives, and are ready to aid his selfish designs.
Communication is possible, “under exceptional circumstances,” but it is not encouraged. For, “it must be a mighty attraction indeed to draw a pure, disembodied spirit from its radiant home into the foul atmosphere from which it escaped upon leaving its earthly body.” Not the chatter that is usually found in the séance room. Yet in spite of all this, “Blavatsky never clearly defined her connection and relationship to Spiritualism”!