Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blavatsky News

* The Summer 2012 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly, the literary magazine published by the American Agora Foundation in New York, is titled Magic Shows, and the opinions of a wide array of authors, from antiquity to the present, are cited throughout the volume’s 225 pages. Among them Mme. Blavatsky, who is pictured as one of the contributors, along with Euripides, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R. R. Tolkien, Lucius Apuleius, and others. The passage from Blavatsky is taken from her 1886 piece, “Ancient Egyptian Magic.” There is also an article by Jamie James on “W.B. Yeats, Magus,” which is marred by his statement that “the Theosophists expelled him [Yeats] in 1890.” Though this keeps being erroneously repeated as fact, it has already been shown that it was not the case.

James offers an insightful observation by the author Helen Vendler, who has written on Yeats. “Our present discomfort in imagining Yeats at Madame Blavatsky’s arises from our feeling that there are more respectful ways of approaching the esoteric, forgetting that a concrete encounter is the only one likely to appeal to a mind peculiarly attuned to words and visual symbols.”

The back cover of this issue, shown here, features Blavatsky prominently.

* The Summer 2012 issue of Quest magazine from the American Branch of the Theosophical Society at Adyar contains an interesting interview with Theosophical historian Michael Gomes, where he talks above his work over the past 45 years. Interviewed by the magazine’s editor, Richard Smoley, he was asked: “What advice would you give to someone interested in researching this field?

His reply is worth noting: To be aware that aside from accessing the mental world that the people around Blavatsky existed in, there is a temporal aspect of the lives. The physicality of it, the place itself. This is why I have always stressed the value of on-the-ground research. Finding A.O. Hume’s home in Simla, India, walking through its grounds, gave a spatial understand about the events that had occurred when Blavatsky was his guest there. In knowing the limitations and extremes of these situations, one begins to understand and appreciate the remarkable contribution of these early members, who risked ridicule and scorn so we could enjoy freedom of belief.

The issue also includes a posthumous piece by Sri Madhava Ashish giving the history of “Mirtola: a Himalayan Ashram with Theosophical Roots.” Mirtola, near Almora in India, was established by Sri Yashoda Ma, the wife of Gyanendra Nath Chakravarti. The article looks at the Theosophists who were connected with its work, including Bertam Keightley, who helped edit The Secret Doctrine.

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