Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blavatsky and Spiritualism, Ctd

For someone with such a reputation for being a medium and Spiritualist, Mme. Blavatsky’s involvement with the modern Spiritualist movement was remarkably slight. Accepting July 1873 as the point of her arrival in New York we hear nothing about her in connection with Spiritualism (we are not talking about posthumous accounts, which is a different kind of evidence) until her letters in the October and November 1874 New York Daily Graphic defending Col. Olcott’s account of the Eddy mediums based on what she saw during her stay there. In her Scrapbook she pens a note to this: “So much in defence of phenomena, as to whether these Spirits are ghosts is another question.”

When E.D. Babbitt introduced her to his readers in the December 5, 1874, issue of his “New York Dept” for the Religio-Philosophical Journal, it was as someone new to them. Within seven months she starts publicly adopting the occultist position, as can be seen in her July 1875 “HIRAF” article. Her visit to Hiram Corson in Ithaca in October 1875 is telling.  Corson, who had lost his daughter the year before, had hoped that Blavatsky might put him in contact with her, but as he wrote his son, “I had expected we should have some ‘sittings’ together, but she is not only disposed but is decidedly opposed to anything of the kind.” Not much of a Spiritualist who would dissuade someone from contacting a dead relative.

She spends the whole of 1876 working on Isis Unveiled, and it’s publication in 1877, marshaling as it does the evidence of antiquity against promiscuous intercourse with the dead, strains her relations with the Spiritualists. She turns her sights to India, as the repository of true spirituality (Spiritualism), and never looks back.

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