Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blavatsky News

*  Marc Demarest has discovered the earliest reference so far to Mme. Blavatsky in the American press. Published in the October 13, 1874,  issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the narrative, titled “A Heroine. A Lively Lady from Mount Ararat,” gives much background information on her as well exploiting exploits in her life. The piece was occasioned by the paper’s reporting on Blavatsky’s civil suit to recover money invested in what was to be a farm in Long Island. It predates what was previously known to be earliest account of her life, “Mme. Blavatsky’s Visit to the Daily Graphic Office,” in that paper’s November 13, 1874,  issue. That text was reprinted in Theosophical History, October 2003, from a version corrected by Blavatsky. This alone should be a warning against expecting verisimilitude from such a source. Mr. Demarest adds a number of notes with the text which can be read at his blog Chasing Down Emma.

*  The latest issue of Theosophical History, January 2014, features an examination by Erica Georgiades on the credibility of Blavatsky’s claim to have been on board the S.S. Eunomia when it exploded near the Greek island of Spetses on June 21, 1871. Ms. Georgiades gives the passenger list for that voyage which shows no one with the name of Blavatsky among the 140 people thought to be aboard, and offers three hypotheses as explanation of this. The article, “H.P. Blavatsky and the Wreck of the S.S. Eunomia,” dredges up some useful information on this obscure incident in Blavatsky’s life. This issue also includes the text of an article from a New York weekly, The Daily Star of September 30, 1886, titled “Buddhism in New York,” which mentions W.Q. Judge, President of the New York Theosophists, as a Buddhist. Jerry Hejka-Ekins who discovered it provides an introduction. Theosophical History was founded in 1985 by Leslie Price in London and has been edited since 1990 by James A. Santucci. Described as “an independent scholarly journal devoted to all aspects of theosophy (with and without a capital T),” unaffiliated with any Theosophical organization, it can be ordered here.

*  The program for the Conference on Theosophical History to be held in London Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21, 2014, has been put online. Presentations include “Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and the Mystery of Agardi Metrovitch's Identity” by Erica Georgiades (in absentia), “1880–When a British Agent Spied on Madame Blavatsky” by Paul Johnson (in absentia), “Mapping Madame Blavatsky? Towards A Chronological & Bibliographic Approach to the Evolution of Her Thought” by Barry Thompson, “Oriental Order of Sikha and the Sat Bhai, Yarker and Blavatsky” by Geraldine Beskin and Barry Loft. Other presenters include Tim Rudboeg, Boaz Huss, Erin Prophet, Jeff Lavoie, and John L. Crow.  The program will end with a presentation by Leslie Price on “Madame Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries.” Hopefully these talks/papers will be recorded for a wider viewership. The full program can be seen here.

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