Sunday, October 21, 2012

Misinformation Files

A New Age writer named Stuart Wilde has posted an online piece titled “Blavatsky’s Frauds, Satan & the World Teacher.” Here are some of his claims:

H. P. Blavatsky founded the Theosophists. (“Theosophists” existed before Blavatsky came along, she helped found the Theosophical Society.)

She did psychic readings for people. (Though there is no evidence for this except, perhaps, in the writer’s imagination.)

Blavatsky worshiped Satan. (As proof he cites her as saying in The Secret Doctrine:) “Lucifer represents, life, thought, progress, civilization, liberty and independence. Lucifer is the Logos, the Serpent, the Savior. It is Satan who is the God of our planet and the only God.” 

But these are not her words. It is hobbled together from two writers that she quotes in The Secret Doctrine: Mirza Moorad Alee Beg in vol. 2, p. 245, and Kingsford in vol. 2, p. 234, as giving their views.

She was investigated by the Society of Psychical Research, who found some indiscrete letters that Blavatsky had written to her maid, in which she detailed aspects of the frauds the two had perpetrated together. The Society of Psychical Research’s final report referred to her as one of the most ingenious and interesting imposters of history. (As if that was the final word and nothing has been written since.)

In the end Blavatsky was just a con artist, one that loved Satan.

We hope these words are not a testament to Stuart Wilde’s psychic abilities. For we note that his site offers for sale, Warrior’s Prayer Cards, advertising that “Stuart has touched and blessed each and every card. People use them as a form of remote healing and protection. They read the prayer and place the card on their body where there is pain, or on their heart if they are emotional or scared.” Each card sells for £2.00.

Mr. Wilde himself has not been without his critics and there is an internet thread titled “Why I dislike Stuart Wilde” along with a Stuart Wilde Exposed Facebook page.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blavatsky at the Dorothy Restaurant

The blog, Lost Womyn’s Space, covers the Dorothy restaurants in London started by Isabel Cooper-Oakley, one of Mme. Blavatsky’s pupils in the 1880s. Citing Franny Moyle’s Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde, it says:

Dorothy’s was the initiative of one Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, another of London's leading feminists, who also ran a milliner's business in Wigmore Street called Madame Isabel’s. It was an innovation, a restaurant for women only. Although dining for upper- and middle-class women was already available at the various women’s clubs, and although some conventional restaurants provided ladies’ dining room discreetly in upper storeys or side-rooms, Dorothy’s was a bold modern proposition. Its door was right on the street, and it was open to all classes of women, from shop assistants to duchesses. Offering cheap wholesome fare for all, Dorothy’s liberated the former from having to eat a bun in a shop and offered the latter a new kind of experience. You just bought an eightpenny dining ticket on entrance, took a seat at one of the tables and waited for your 'plate of meat, two vegetables and bread' to arrive. For an extra couple of pence you could also get pudding, and for a further penny tea, coffee or chocolate.

There are some interesting links to Blavatsky in the account. At the opening of the restaurant at 448 Oxford Street on June 21, 1889, among those present were Mme. Blavatsky, Countess Wachtmeister, and other theosophical lady notables.

Background on Isabel Cooper-Oakley is provided at the blog The Oakleys of Salop and London. After her marriage to Alfred Oakley in January 1884, he added her surname to his, becoming Cooper-Oakley. She died in Budapest, Hungary, on March 3, 1914.

The presence of Constance Wilde, wife of Oscar Wilde, as part of the London theosophical scene, has already been noted by us here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blavatsky on Buddhism and Anna Kingsford

Theosophical History, vol. XVI, no. 1, dated January 2012, has just been released. It features a reprint of a newspaper interview with Mme. Blavatsky from the New York Sun of May 6, 1877, titled “Catechizing a Buddhist,” where Blavatsky explains the tenets of Buddhism, and a reprint of two obscure pieces relating to the Anna Kingsford’s Hermetic Lodge of the Theosophical Society: its Prospectus and a December 21, 1883, letter from Blavatsky to Kingsford. The main article deals with the early years of Edward Arthur Wilson (1874-1934?), known as Brother XII, who ran a theosophically influenced group, the Aquarian Foundation, during the 1920s.

John Patrick Deveney who supplies the notes to Blavatsky’s “interview” in the N.Y. Sun points out that Blavatsky had written to her sister on June 8, 1877, saying she had finished an article on Nirvana and the conceptions of the ancient Buddhists concerning God, the immortality of the soul and cosmogony for a newspaper. So it may be less of an interview and more of a piece written by Blavatsky. This would explain the editorial note added to that day’s issue advising: “Don’t believe in Buddhism unless you are very sure what you are about.”

Some of the ideas attributed to Blavatsky presage her later pronouncements:

“Buddhism,” said Madame Blavatsky, “is the ‘wisdom religion,’ and it underlies all religions in their purity. It is perfect monotheism, for it accepts one boundless, infinite incomprehensible principle, which the intellect of man can not understand. It is a philosophy, as well as a religion, and you must be careful not to confound the philosophy with the myths and dogmas and inconsistencies and absurdities with which the superstition of many generations of worshipers has encumbered it.”

Single issues are available for $8.00 /£5.00 from Theosophical History.