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Was Madame Blavatsky a Fraud?

Was Madame Blavatsky a Fraud?

atomic_bonanza

My personal take on her is that I think she started out as 'legit' and had some abilities (as well as being very talented) but eventually became a snake oil salesman and started scamming people. A lot of her writings that are considered 'good' are just regurgitations of other works like Elphias Levi with her own spin on it. But I guess one could argue that a lot of occult works do similar things. A lot of people really like her work and I suppose I can 'appreciate' who she is as a historical figure and contributor to the occult world because she has inspired a lot of people to create really wonderful things and I think that should be celebrated. However I wouldn't recommend her work to anyone. If anything I think she can be a good cautionary tale since unfortunately she's not an anomaly in the community.


kinpin87

It was said she herself in later parts of her years said most of her earlier works were not accurate. I haven’t read much about her after learning that fact.


HornedonePNW

I think it is completely possible to be a skilled occultist and a garbage human being, just as it is possible to be a biblical scholar who claims Christianity but doesn’t practice, faith, hope, or charity.


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vholecek

to be fair, most people with any influence in the Western world at that time were...


GuessMotor

No she wasn't, her writings were interpreted by white supremacists half a century after her death. They even got it wrong, the Aryan race wasn't Caucasian they were literally white like the moon, that's not even mentioning she thought the next race would be the American race.


swordofapostasy

The damage she has done via the misunderstanding of the Left Hand Path has resulted in the western LHP traditions being such an utter cesspool of edgy posers. She and those building off her are directly responsible and its gonna take a lot of work to make a healthy western Left Hand.


Nigredo_

Blavatsky has some great stuff out there If you're looking for a 100% verified representative of some secret Truth, you're not going to find it. The trick is taking nuggets of value from various sources and putting it together on your own


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[deleted]

once upon a time, I would have given you a nuanced answer, defending some of her beliefs and actions, and how theosophy has a place in modern magick. But now, my answer is a **loud and resounding** ***YES SHE WAS*** Her views on race, sexuality and human evolution are, and will forever be, spiritual poison. She, Samael Aun Woer, Hubbard and a variety of others are far too popular and get way too much credit for essentially being dogmatic fools, conspiracy theorists and con artists who likely never went deep enough into magick.


crustyseawolf

I would agree with you in some respects, but remember she was a product of her time, and so are you. What will people say about your views in 150 years? Doesn't mean you dont have valuable contributions to occult practice.


[deleted]

Views and faking Gnosis are different. If it was merely 'views' on race and sexuality, then fine. Plenty of occultists had odd views on those. But no, she was a known con artist. For example, her 'séance' sessions where she manifested ghosts out of ether were exposed as artificial tents. In addition, her entire theory of human races, which the Theosophists claimed were learnt through astral visions, do not hold up to what modern science has discovered, nor to the Gnosis of mine and several other magicians. I mean, it is *objectively false,* yet pretty much a mainstream component of spirituality at this point. Either they lied, or misunderstood things severely. Now, you could say my Gnosis is also wrong, and perhaps filtered through my senses. Hence I will never construct a full fledged anthropological theory from them and popularise them, due to what damage they may do. There's a reason why Adepts don't share the 'secrets' of the Universe and Humanity they learn through astral visions, on the off chance that these have been misinterpreted, and are, after all, not yet founded upon science. She was no Adept, but another good intentioned dabbler, like most self proclaimed spiritual masters. I'm not criticizing her beliefs nor even questioning her 'contributions' to magick. Much of it is rehashed kabbalah. The only novel ideas she brings to the table are her racial theories. A variation on various archetypal myths which, while valuable, add little to magickal practice in the 21st century. I'm denying her place in magick in the 21st century. Why? Because, do you even realise just how much damage her Aryan mythos has done? Do you know how deep, and entrenched her mistaken philosophy is in modern culture? By the way, some people might be thinking I'm some offended liberal. But I'm actually right wing. You can imagine, for me to be denouncing her, how bad things actually are. The modern obsession over race, and scientific racism, can be traced back directly to Theosophy. This by the way, is VERY popular in my country, since many of my country's founders were theosophists or inspired by it. There are youtube channels with over 100k followers, that you can easily find, right now, which express racial beliefs and theories of Theosophy. Most mainstream occult authors in the 20th century, mention these ideas at least once in every book. I don't hate Blavatsky. I think she wasn't a bad person. But, I think we need to be very clear, and frequent, in reminding people that the Theosophical mythos is a *mythos,* and to be taken as such. Loudly and clearly, say it with me **The myth of Ancient Aryans is a** ***myth***. A racist, antisemetic myth. Yes, an interesting variation on the Kabbalistic mythos, but a mythical one.\*\* This mythos, ironically, is also the basis for the whole Ancient Aliens idea, another staggeringly popular idea too common with magick. Oh yeah, and there's the fake puppets. No matter what time you live in, faking magical phenomena to trick people is still a 'bad' thing. As bad now as it was 10,000 years ago. Not enough people know this. EDIT: I should make this very clear, I'm not being racist towards whites either. European heritage is a thing and as important as any other. I'm simply separating actual European history from myth.


kepler222b

yea as someone not white, researching the esoteric I was put off from her writings. It's one of the reasons I was hesitant to dive in.


TheGodOfWorms

Thank the Gods that someone is finally saying it. Every time Blavatsky comes up and you point out her racial theories and her celebration of genocide, you get people crawling out of the woodwork to tell you that you're taking it out of context. None of them can ever answer in what context that celebrating the genocide of Australian Aboriginals is good, though...


nobbly_norman

Are you talking about Vedic Aryans or something else?


[deleted]

I'm talking about the 'Aryans' of the Theosophy mythos. That is to say white 'Aryans', or Nordic types. You know, the whole 'Aryan' theory that has been used, at different times, to justify everything from the colonization of India, to Manifest Destiny, to the Holocaust.


nobbly_norman

I guess they are the same thing. Yeah I've heard of it. A lot of content emerging from these theories. I don't know what to believe lol.


Eater-of-names

I agree with basically everything you're saying here. I've got nothing to add but my backing.


Vajranaga

Sorry to tell you this but "Aryans" most certainly exist; the Vedic religion was brought to India by the "Aryan" race, in fact. I believe they came from around Ukraine, if I recall correctly. The word means "The Righteous Ones", incidentally and . There is a whole doctrine about "righteousness" and its connection to the Hebrew letter "Tzaddi" and the significance of 90, and also the covenant of the 36 righteous, and its connection with Osiris. But I haven't the time to elaborate at the moment; it will have to wait.


[deleted]

I did not say Aryans did not exist. Their origin is debated, and is either from the region around the Caspian Sea, Siberia or Anatolia. The nation state known as 'Ukraine' did not exist at the time, so don't say 'Ukraine'. Those whom you call 'aryan' are generally defined as 'Indo Europeans'. They're not all that ancient, and spread across Eurasia only about 4000 years ago. I was talking about the Theosophist mythos. The legend of *Ancient* Aryans, ie the story that 'Aryans' were basically migrants from the long lost culture of Atlantis who landed in Egypt around 11,500 BC. *THAT* is the theosophist version of the Aryan mythos, which is sometimes called the 'ancient aryans' theory. Today, however, we know that this wasn't the case at all. We know a whole lot more about the Indo European migration, and the subsequent emergence of groups like Aryans, Europeans, Slavs and the like. This theory was, simply, a product of its time. We knew far less about human genealogy and plate tectonics, and the Colonial powers needed an excuse to justify colonisation. By the way, I'm also not stating that Atlantis did not exist. But that is a story for another time. In a sense, I'm essentially denouncing the theories which were later part of Nazi esotericism.


BootlegMickeyMouse

That's an important distinction to note, but I think the point here is that there is a larger myth *about* the ancient Aryans that is complete hogwash and dangerous to human relations.


crustyseawolf

Hmm, well I agree with some of that, but disagree with most of what you said there. But, you or I are certainly not the magical judges of the universe. And, it's easy to judge people in hindsight. She sure got a lot of people interested in non christian mysticism, and that's a good thing that came of her and the theosophical sociaty, along with some bad ideas too. Only time will tell what what people will think of our ideas.


[deleted]

What I said needed to be said, only because people have become too afraid of saying it. People have become too afraid to criticise certain well established, non Christian traditions.


ZeddzDeadd

She’s a racist hack. I agree with your statements


crustyseawolf

Also, what you said and the way you said it is one of the most common speeches I see on the monthly "Is Blavatsky a racist?" post.


[deleted]

I've had intimate experience worth far right movements. I also live in a country where the far right is generally accepted, I feel *very, very* strongly regarding this, and my experience has produced my opinions. And I'm not talking about reddit. I'm of the Golden Dawn tradition, where everyone, even Adepts are afraid of criticising theosophy and always finding ways to apologise for it, even Israel Regardie, Gareth Knight and Dion Fortune. Reddit is not a place worth considering in this matter. Also, the Gods asked me to toss it all out, meaning it likely has little to do with my path. If you're encouraged to read it, then by all means, do so.


crustyseawolf

Please do tell...where on Reddit are people afraid of saying anything? And in general I see nowhere in sociaty right now where anyone is afraid to blast their viewpoint and self percieved righteousness at everyone around them. BTW I agree with you about Blavatski having some bad ideas. I just dont think that she should get thrown out all together because some of her ideas got appropriated by shitty people and or haven't aged well. You're certainly entitled to your opinion, I suppose we just dont agree here.


Nigredo_

So?


[deleted]

Simple, most Gods, Angels, Demons and Spirits refuse to work with or particularly help the magician until he overcomes ideological possession. Don't believe me? Go ask them.


Nigredo_

They were all laughing at you when I did


[deleted]

lol, suuure. Wow, it's almost like faking gnosis is the easiest thing in the world, and applies to no one else but the individual in the moment of invocation! I know what my 'Gods' need me to do. You either have yours, or you pretend that you do for internet points, which is pathetic, and you'll live with that


Nigredo_

They mentioned that you'll need to pick up a few card tricks before calling yourself a magician again


[deleted]

And yet they didn't mention that I left all labels like 'magician' behind a long time ago, at their behest? *ha.* See you beyond the Veil kid..


Nigredo_

***rides off on broomstick*** 😂😂😂


SqueakyFromme69

What was the problem with Samael Aun Woer? I tried reading one of his books and didn't find much there there.


[deleted]

Nothing too bad. He wasn't malicious. In fact, I don't think ANY of them were malicious, and had genuinely good intent, especially towards the end of their lives. But, the problem is the views they championed, even when rejecting these views later on, the followings they amassed and their apparent slide into delusions of grandeur. For example, Samael Aun Woer believed himself to be literally Kalki. Now, maybe this was a figure of speech, but there is a large, toxic and dogmatic movement within Gnosticism today which follow his teachings. Among things I have a problem with are: his opinions on masturbation and homosexuality. I've heard his followers go as far as outright state "those who spill the sacred seed are unworthy of life". Don't know if this came directly from him, or a later exaggeration by radicals. Also that homosexuals are born of excess sin, and must first 'become' heterosexual before any spiritual progress can be made.


ChaosSigil

wow, when I read the name Samael Sun Weor I knew it sounded familiar. I have some Gnostic books set by my bedside and two or them are written by these followers of this guy. In this book it goes into detail about: Who is SAW? Pg. 23- the terrestrial man and the celestial man. Just a little one And the next chapter goes into the meaning of his name in hebrew, the kabbalah, in the book of revelation. Etc.. And I skip this shit because its solely driven by individual vanity than anything else. The title of the books are Gnostic Introductory Information, and Gnostic Astrology and Dream Yoga. The second one is less, "look at me, I'm Mr. Meseeks!" And more about well, the title. But yeah SAW is a vain mofo. All about himself. Also, he viewed himself as Aries, if I'm not mistaken. Which...what war did he bring to this plane if he was? Lol.


Crocodillemon

Ares or aries?


ChaosSigil

Like the god of war.


Crocodillemon

Ok


Crocodillemon

Gawd the sperm is not a seed. Also females masturbate! Dumb guy if he truly said that


_HagbardCeline

Compared to who?


councilface

Yes


PasiphaesLover

She wrote good books but the ascended masters are bullshit but it was sort of how it was done at the time.


JackOA7T

You have a rare gift for brevity. Here's my upvote.


Snushine

She was a product of her era, which is to say, people knew so much less about everything than we do today. To call someone a "fraud" is too simplistic. It's like asking "Is Rumi a fraud?" Did she have some interesting things to say? Yes. Was she "connected to the Greater Whatever?" No way to know.


IndridColdwave

Shhh, no one wants to hear nuance here. Either she’s a witch and we burn her or she’s female Jesus and we bow at her feet


poiskdz

Hot take, hear me out here; Jesus was a witch.


Crocodillemon

O...kay


Snushine

I'm surprisingly blunt in my insistence on nuance.


jonny-toxic

Bingo.


Weatherwax1982

Hot tip. Every religion and magical practice is not true, they are all made up. Now to be fair, they are very meaningful. And in this specific instance HB was probably making up a lot of stuff. The 19th century is rife with hyperbole, philosophical category slips, and lies. Does that mean we ignore her Nah. We have to believe in things that are not real, how else are they to become? So if HB's theosophy brings meaning to you and your practice go for it.


FlamingPhoenix24

I haven’t studied her works much. After finding out her view of evolution was saturated with open white supremacy and social darwinism, I took a hard pass. From what I’ve read, it seems beyond that her biggest contribution was bringing western awareness to eastern ideas. If this is the case, the advent of the internet allows us to bridge that gap ourselves without the need to have it filtered through a racist lens. Maybe her work was important for the time in some ways, and her influence can still be seen for better or worse in modern occultism, even down to the new age movement, but I think her works are a bit redundant in modern times and possibly even harmful.


recoveringleft

It’s interesting how a lot of new agers still espoused her ideas even after she turns out to be a fraud


JackOA7T

It's even more interesting the fact that the SPR made a public apology for their report. And also surprising to discover that also Plato, Pythagoras, the Gnostics, the Neo-Platonics and all those other guys were frauds.


aniken1

She probably was


GreenBook1978

Yes she was a fraud. Her unverifiable claims, abuse of her supporters, hypocrisy and epic cultural appropriation read like a starter pack for all subsequent cult leaders. However her influence on people like Dion Fortune and others serve as a warning for how much people were seeking what she claimed to offer.


Crocodillemon

Oh no Dion fortune?


JackOA7T

It's the monthly Blavatsky thread, where the discreditors almost invariably have never studied at least a few of the many thousands of pages she wrote and, if they've heard something about her life, it was from a Youtube video or online article.


Nigredo_

'Hey guys just saw Hereditary, how do I summon Paimon'


ZeroNom

Neptune in Pisces is making everyone wanna prove that someone or something is dead and useless, but it's a phase. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I've gathered puzzle pieces of the mystery from problematic teachers. In reality, no one is good or evil, there is only the one. And yet duality is sneaky. I've just been quite dualistic myself in this paragraph. So such is the human condition, of which we all are members.


Haxxom

Yes. Blavatsky inspired the thule society (Who were in league with the Nazis, Alistair Crowley, and all the for fathers of most culty occult groups. She has been nothing but terrible for the occult practices.


[deleted]

I agree. As part of her elaborate Lovecraftian science fiction cosmogony, Blavatsky also taught that the "immoral" left-hand path was actually a degenerate relic of a. decadent "root-race" that had originated in the lost continent of Atlantis.


Haxxom

I'm sure she came across a lot more credible when no one could check her theories. Wtf is a root race even?


mrbouclette

René Guénon's Critique of Theosophy (Madame Blavatsky) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYYdGZXkAjU](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYYdGZXkAjU)


Sesquipedalian61616

Indeed she was


StarRoadExits

A fraud is someone who intentionally lies for some kind of external gain. a misguided explanation does not constitute fraud.


MxJxAkame

I think Blavatsky was an absolutely amazing person. Definitely not a fraud. Even her biography is incredible. “Blavatsky and her Teachers”. She was an adept which disquishes her being a medium, in that she could produce phenomena out of her own spiritual power, successfully employing ‘supernatural’ powers. She was incredibly controversial and had many jealous haters. The voluminous works she authored, I believe some day in the future, will be the subject of very intelligent discussions in universities to come. Keep studying. Does her works indicate a fraud or an idiot? She demonstrates critical thinking at the keenest level. She affected and influenced some of the finest minds in the last 150 years. Hundreds of years from now her writings and life will continue to lead upwards into ever more advancing thought, like maybe no one else that I can think of in recorded history. All other occult materials wane in comparison. She brought to the table the most thorough analysis ever upon the esoteric. The internet, and heresay, is not the best sources to access real insight into her as she actually was/is. Study her intensely and see how much you will grow and mature…


[deleted]

According to Blavatsky, it was all quite simple: the left-hand path was simply the path of evil, whereas the right-hand path was characterized as the path of good. The vast network of Tantric teaching that gave these terms their meaning – and which oversteps the very idea of evil and good, as it does all dualities accepted by the herd-animal – was conveniently ignored altogether.


the3rdtea

No? Without her I doubt there would be this subreddit.


Eoooiny

Such an interesting character, like Crowley, they were so eccentric. Will we see Occultists like this ever again?


qylar

I want to believe she's completely legitimate but, out of everything, what I find most difficult to believe is that a woman of her shape and size, with a *huge* smoking habit, was able to climb Tibetan mountains. Ascended Masters popping up all over the world I can believe, but HPB performing feats of endurance and strength? Less so...


JackOA7T

This made me laugh (internally). Anyway, if she actually travelled in those places, had tibetan ~~ascended~~ masters or fought a war in Italy doesn't really matter, even though I have to say she wasn't as big in her youth. She became and I quote "an old hippopotamus" probably cause she spent her later years mostly at her desk.


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JackOA7T

I think it's not really important how, when and where she got her knowledge. These are details which don't really add to what she was able to offer. Moreover, as she herself says: "From seventeen to forty I took care during my travels to sweep away all traces of myself wherever I went." Anyway, there exist a few biographies of HPB and she did leave some traces, after all. I quote (sorry for any typo) from one of the most scholarly of these biographies. >Privately, she wrote the following to Sinnet when he was preparing her memoirs: "Suppose I was to tell you that [in India] I was in man's clotes (for I was very thin then) which is the solemn truth, what would people say? So I was in Egypt [...]. Now you understand my difficulties? That which would pass [elsewere, save in the prudish West] as an eccentricity, or oddity, would serve now only to incriminate me."   >Her youthful figure, until she was thirty, was supple, muscular and well rounded, fit to delight an artist. Then, before resuming her travels >"While in Mingrelia HPB contracted a mysterious illness and gradually wasted away to a living skeleton" Also I might be mistaken since it's been a while since I last read the material, but of her colossal smoking habit there's no mention before America.


Doctor_of_Puns

H.P. Blavatsky was a remarkable occultist who devoted her life to Theosophy and to the service of Humanity. She was no fraud. Even G.R.S. Mead said *after* leaving the Theosophical Society *in disgust,* that >H.P. Blavatsky was not, within my experience at any rate, the vulgar trickster and charlatan of hostile popular legend... And with respect to his three years as her private secretary, during which time he had access to the keys to her desk, bookcases, and unopened, voluminous letters, he goes on to say that >it was assuredly not the act of one who was popularly supposed to be carrying on an elaborate fraud with numerous confederates. Furthermore, the Hodgson Report, which was primarily responsible for labeling her as a fraud, was brought into question by Dr. Vernon Harrison, an expert on forgery and a member of the Society of Psychical Research (SPR), who re-examined the case almost a hundred years later. He concluded that she had been *unjustly condemned* and that the investigator had in no way proven his case against her. The SPR published a [Press Release](https://www.theosophy.world/resource/rebuttal-infamous-hodgson-report) in 1986 stating that the "exposure" of H.P. Blavatsky "is in serious doubt."


Metawoo

I was just reading an article that mentioned her influence and where it came from. She was basically an early version of modern-day third-wave feminism. She was a product of militaristic, disgusting oppression and beliefs about women in general, but instead of using spiritualism and esoteric thought to bridge the gap and reach an understanding, she took it way too far and called for female superiority over men.


martiangenes

I highly recommend the episodes about her on the podcast Fake History. There's evidence for and against her and not ALL of the evidence against her ia reliable.


IceCrystalSun

The 3 'brothers' had actual siddhis you fools. And yes they are still alive - Xians, Arahants. The fact that you care about stupid shit like ethnicity or nationality just shows how close to the starting line you all are on the great work. Its just a fucking body stop being obsessed with it. You will keep getting bodies as long as youre obsessed with them and their limitations.


_HagbardCeline

Well, she's white so you're average everyday midwit is gonna go full SJW with their hindsight.


_HagbardCeline

Absolutely not