H.P. Blavatsky's Phenomena
Did she forge the Mahatma Letters?
Katinka Hesselink 2006
H.P. Blavatsky is famous, still, after more than a century, for her books, her influence and her phenomena. Her books and influence have been well documented (see notes), but her phenomena still remain controversial.
H.P. Blavatsky lived in a time when spiritualist phenomena were commonplace. Tables shook and spirits materialised with some frequency. Many of these spiritualist mediums turned out to be frauds. In other words, many of the phenomena produced turned out to have been fabricated. It is easy to assume that therefore Blavatsky's phenomena were also fraudulent. The question is complicated by the fact that Blavatsky did not claim to be responsible for all the mysteriously appearing letters: her masters wrote them and in some cases had others deliver them.
But what were these phenomena? Blavatsky materialised cups and jewelry. She read thoughts. She read sealed letters. In her presence letters from her masters (also called Mahatmas) were delivered often on subjects that were just being discussed. These letters were claimed to usually be produced with Blavatsky's occult help. In those cases it is only logical that Blavatsky should be near when they arrived. In some cases though, they were produced when she was far away. In those cases from a materialistic viewpoint there is only one option: she obviously had help.
From a logical standpoint any statement can be disproven by one proven contrary fact. If the statement is that Blavatsky's phenomena were fraud - it can be disproven by one example where this is clearly not the case. So if for one of Blavatsky's many phenomena there is no reasonable normal explanation, this can be taken as serious confirmation of the fact that Blavatsky had powers beyond the normal. We can't go further than that, but there were phenomena associated with Blavatsky, atributed to her Masters, where it is very difficult to see how they could be fraudulent. In many of the cases what's difficult to reproduce isn't so much the physical happening, but the content, the context.
For instance, when Olcott was on a boat to London, where Blavatsky had a new project going he wanted to stop (the Esoteric Section) - he got a letter on board that boat telling him to let Blavatsky have her way. Given the speed of world-wide communication back then, this is one heck of a phenomenon. If Blavatsky was responsible, we have to assume major intruige. She would have to:
- know Olcott was against the Esoteric Section
- get an accomplice to fake the Mahatma's handwriting and produce te letter and get it into Olcott's cabin on board that ship a day before reaching Brindisi a port in the southeast of Italy, on the Adriatic Sea.
- make sure the accomplice didn't talk or brag or anything.
She probably did know Olcott was against her plan - they probably wrote letters about that, even before he left India for England. But the other two conditions are pretty big.
The content of that letter was such that Olcott changed his mind about the Esoteric Section. The context was: on an isolated boat with Blavatsky far away.
This is only one of the phenomena where fraud seems an unlikely explanation. More can be found in Daniel Caldwell's 'The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky'.
- general theosophical readings.