Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blavatsky Podcast

Gary Lachman is interviewed for almost an hour on Madame Blavatsky and his new book on Benjamin Grundy’s December 7 Mysterious Universe podcast. Mysterious Universe, which originates from Australia, claims to provide “the latest news on topics as unorthodox as the UFO Phenomenon, Ghosts and Hauntings, and Cryptozoology, along with the latest in Science, Technology, and Astronomy,” and covers “the strange, extraordinary, weird, and wonderful and everything in between.”

Blavatsky is described by the interviewer as “the fountainhead of modern occult thought,” and Lachman counters, “everything goes back to her.” Though “No Buddhist scholar recognizes anything that she calls Buddhism as Buddhism.” “I not particularly interested in Theosophy, I am interested in her,” he admits. “I’m not so interested in the teachings as in the phenomena that she was and her impact on Western culture…”

He credits her with introducing the West to alternative spirituality, “she’s the one who brought it all together, made it into a nice package, and turned it into a religious movement that became global.”

Part of her mission…was to prove the reality of the phenomenon taking place at séances and spiritualist gatherings; but to show that the explanation for them was untrue, the source…the spirits of the dead.” For Lachman, “She wasn’t a medium, she was a magician. In the sense that she had control, she wasn’t passively letting herself being used as basically as a voice for these spirits from the other side…she commanding, she was able to make these things happen.”

He suggests that rolling her own cigarettes helped her focus her mind, and credits her with an eidetic memory. An interesting update on the recurring image of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky; but why, oh why, do the interviewer and Lachman keep claiming and then snickering that she was 200 or 300 (!) pounds when she travelled through trans-Himalaya in the 1850s and 1860s, when she was no such thing; in fact considered an excellent horseback rider till the 1870s? Commenting on the statement attributed to her that she had a volcano in her brain and a glacier down below, Lachman says, “Apparently no one melted the glacier.”

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