Talk:Helena Blavatsky

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Archive

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1

Contents

Manual of style issues[edit]

The following discussion is marked as answered. If you have a new comment, place it just below the box.

Helena or Elena

It is certainly possible I suppose that her name in Russian or something might be rendered as "Elena", however in English-language articles on her, her name is always given as Helena. Since this is the English-language article on her, here, I've reverted the use of "Elena" in the Family section to be "Helena". I believe we strive to use the most-common form, even if some linguists feel that that was never the correct form. I can't speak on that point myself, as I don't know.Wjhonson (talk) 20:06, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

I have rewritten the intro to be more logical. Her official name in the US is mentioned with translations into Russian and Ukrainian. The paternal Petrovna is commonly used in Russian and Ukrainian, but is not used in the US where she was a naturalized citizen. She was born as Helena von Hahn, and as a descendant of a family of the Baltic nobility, her official name was rendered in German, i.e. latin characters. In Russian and Ukrainian the letter H is mute, so Helena von Hahn renders as Elena Petrovna von Gan - always using the paternal middle name. Hope this clarifies on the use of names. Talk/♥фĩłдωəß♥\Work 11:38, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Her patronymic is missing from her married Russian name. Is this an oversight, or should it be Елена Петровна Блаватская? Isidore (talk) 02:13, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I have put back Petrovna in her English name and Петровна in her Russian name. She is commonly referred to as HPB, as in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Isidore (talkcontribs) 21:14, 7 March 2010 (UTC)


The following discussion is marked as answered. If you have a new comment, place it just below the box.

"Madame" Blavatsky?

With all due respect, I'm having a difficult time understanding why "Madame" is being used in the title of this article, rather than the most common representation of her name in English, which is by far in terms of general usage some form of "Helena Blavatsky" as per WP:NCNT and WP:MOSBIO. I don't wish to offend, but Wikipedia does have specific policy relating to the use of honorific titles and at the moment, in my opinion, the title of this article is both non-neutral and in violation of policy pertaining to these matters. cheers Deconstructhis (talk) 19:37, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

I would support moving the article. — goethean 01:05, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
If anyone cares to re-visit this, I am supporting moving the article as well.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); 14:21, June 18, 2009 (UTC)
OK, let's move it then. --Malleus Fatuorum 20:07, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Madame in French is a title given to married women and women over a certain age (i'm not sure if there is an exact age at which this takes place). Madame may also be used to address the wife of a foreign leader or dignitary. Helena Blavatsky fits both of these criteria. She began to be addressed as Madame Blavatsky after arriving in NY and starting the Theosophical Society with Colonel Olcott. She is generally known as Madame Blavatsky not Helena Blavatsky. I do not believe the title is evidence of a "lack of neutrality." Granted, other items within the body of the article do seem to fit that argument. Perhaps this subject is being clouded by the other more unbalanced portions.--~thebard72.85.148.226 (talk)
Emmeline Pankhurst is commonly known as Mrs Pankhurst, but that is not the title of her article. The same logic applies here and the guidelines are quite clear. --Malleus Fatuorum 13:36, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't know about Pankhurst, but I agree that "Madame Blavatsky" is a well used common name and it did not not need to be changed. However, the new name is not less correct. How about "Madame Helena Blavatsky" to satisfy both camps. The wikipedia policy against sir names need not override its policy of common use. - Steve3849 talk 13:44, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Mrs Pankhurst is at least as commonly used as Madame Blavatsky. I would suggest that your suggestion of a rename to "Madame Helena Blavatsky" is likely to satisfy none. The Encyclopedia Britannica also calls its article "Helena Blavatsky", not "Madame Blavatsky". The article's title is just fine as it is. --Malleus Fatuorum 13:54, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

I recognize that it is common for editors to discuss opinion in absolutes. However, I disagree that "no one" would be satisfied; I, for one, would be satisfied. I do appreciate the mention of Encyclopedia Britannica. I am not pressing for a change. - Steve3849 talk 21:41, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Silly of me. As it was your suggestion I imagine that it might satisfy you. :-) Madame Blavatsky redirects to this article anyway, so I really can't see the problem. --Malleus Fatuorum 21:52, 3 August 2009 (UTC)


Revised lead[edit]

The revised lead does not confirm to WP:LEAD: it is not a summary of the article, not WP:NPOV, and contains no references for most of it's statements. A lot of criticism of Blavatsky is possible (I'm not a fan myself), but this is not an improvement. Therefore, I undid the revision. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 16:20, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

The lead is now acceptable. Good job. Mvaldemar (talk) 08:09, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. By the way: I'm still not a fan of Blavatsky - but the impact of the Theosophical Society can hardly be over-estimated. See also D.T. Suzuki and Ashin Jinarakkhita, to name a few (of probably a lot more). Greetings, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 08:23, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Rewrite by a native speaker, please[edit]

Half the sentences in this article would score a d-minus on any fifth grade writing test. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 205.232.191.16 (talk) 22:57, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Thevetat redirect[edit]

The link Thevetat at the bottom only redirects back to this same page. But that link is the only reference to Thevetat in the article, and no dragon (if that is what Thevetat is) is mentioned at all. I was originally redirected to this page while looking for information on that name, but it looks like a complete dead end. 50.30.49.13 (talk) 15:10, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

  1. Overall, the standard of writing is weak. The constant repetition of "H.P. Blavatsky" is quite artificial, and suggests a wholesale copying of content from somewhere which is not acknowledged. The article appears not to know that she was always called "Madame Blavatsky" in England, so maybe a Russian source?
  2. The article as a whole has an aura of hero-worship. And sentences like "As of 2011 Theosophy remains an active philosophical school with presences in more than 50 countries around the world" looks one-eyed. You know, there are plenty of organisations which keep offices round the world, but which are basically as dead as the Dodo. Members number 20 to 30,000: ("Theosophical Society Membership Statistics 2007/2008" under Sources). That's a very small number.
  3. Most of all, I miss a sense of what a really good biography should be. Though it is a bit out of date now, the touchstone for a modern biography is Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians. In four short biographies the reader gets a sense of an inquiring mind searching out the real core of a famous person's life: the things that really matter above all else.
  4. The article is very long, and far too much time is spent describing Theosophy. Probably 3/4 of the article is not about the person, except indirectly. Biographies are supposed to be about people. Maybe we don't actually know much about her as a person. Macdonald-ross (talk) 16:20, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, I agree with your comments. Attempts to counterbalance this unbalanced entry are removed or carefully re-worded to make it look that the exposure she received in her lifetime was unfounded. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 05:38, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
I just wanted to point out that this article seems to contain evidence of time travel. The following was found in the article: "In 1856, Blavatsky's memories about living in India were published in the book From the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan. The book was composed of essays written from 1879 to 1886 under the pen name "Radda-Bay"." And a second error at: "In the letter from 2 October 1991 (?) she wrote to M. Hillis-Billing that the house of Teacher K.H. "is in the region of Karakoram mountains beyond Ladakh which is at minor Tibet and related now to Kashmir." (she passed in 1891) One of you experts might want to address this. 99.122.112.233 (talk) 20:25, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
I should like to apologize for mistakes I may have made in code in my edits of this article feel free to fix them. Let's all be honest about this. Sources for information about this person pretty much all originate from within the "theosophy lodge" the lodge itself is nothing more then a refuge for charlatans of various sorts and has been exposed as such time and time again. The theosophy "lodge" is very sophisticated in its endeavors to create false history for itself and its claimed founder in all of its iterations. Claims about Madame Blavatsky founding the "theosophy lodge" are in fact the cult formerly known as "church universal and triumphant" attempts to rebrand themselves following bad publicity regarding their racism and bust with a cache of weapons in America during the 1980s. It is the same group and the attempts to deceive people genuinely seeking spiritual improvement are deplorable. Time travel? Really? From this bunch? I think not. The unfortunate truth is that the "theosophy lodge" is willing to resort to any manner of deceit, revisionism, and conspiracy in their efforts to dupe the souls unfortunate enough to fall under their influence. The entire article is nothing more then "church universal and triumphant" inheritors thinly veiled attempt to rebrand themselves and hoodwink people into believing their lies. It is disgraceful that Wikipedia is being subverted in this fashion and frankly something needs to be done. The group offered someone I know personally a large bribe as well as a cut of the profits of books and seminars if he would pretend to "channel" an ascended master from the white lodge. All of the parties involved in this nonsense should be ashamed of themselves but alas some of the inner circle are actually Satanists or Anarchists deliberately intent on confusing people. I am a sociologist in the United States and have followed the antics of this group since about 1984. Most of this article is made up out of whole cloth or "sources" provided from within the group itself and this goes even for the supposed sources within the Harvard Divinity School. It is unacceptable that Wikipedia is a party to this. Several groups use this umbrella in pursuit of their aims whether they be profit or spiritual anarchy or deliberate deceit and some of them ARE DANGEROUS ala C.U.T.'s substantial cache of automatic weapons. The wiki community can not simply allow them to make up their own history, references and post them. I would also point out that the intelligence community in the US has made use of the umbrella represented by this group and that groups and members of this ideological umbrella have been caught misrepresenting themselves as Freemasons, "Merry Pranksters", the intelligence community and law enforcement. Believe what you like but the truth remains pure and immune to rearrangement by perception or lies. Paul Escudero (talk) 02:33, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

A nice page, but needs re-write for English usage[edit]

It is a very nice presentation on Blavatsky. Both the tone and the general emphasis are right. But the grammar is very weak, to the point of sometimes obscuring the meaning. Please somebody, preserve the tone and correct the grammar. --66.81.100.246 (talk) 16:49, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Biographical detail issues[edit]

First marriage[edit]

Is it three weeks or three months she was married? The paragraphs first states it's weeks, but later contradicts itself saying it's three months. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Guillep2k (talkcontribs) 14:37, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Genealogy[edit]

Among the many unsatisfying attributes of the page is the "Genealogy" section. Of what possible consequence can the erratic references to what seem even in context unremarkable ancestors be?

Immediately following is the section "Childhood and youth," which maddeningly states "Because of her father’s profession ..." without revealing what that profession is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kcor53 (talkcontribs) 15:31, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

The Genealogy section is unfocused and very confusing – . I think it should be edited to just include the relatives that actually interacted with Blavatsky to make it less confusing. The speculative issues about her father and his ancestors should be moved into the existing article about him, Peter Hahn. The details about other members of House of Dolgorukov and Princess Helene Dolgoruki should be moved into their existing articles. I think this section could explain more about her father's profession and how it involved travel. Poorly cited content in this section may be based on incorrect information derived from pseudo-scientific "clairvoyant experiences" and not historical scholarship.[1] According to Frank Reitemeyer, Peter Laur wrote that:

The pedigrees as given by Boris de Zirkoff in his Blavatsky: Collected Writings is described by Prof. Laur as highly selective, partly misleading and wrong. Here Helenas grandfather Alexis Gustavovich is placed in the same line as Fedeor Gustavovich and Karl Gustavovich as to indicate that they were brothers, which is not correct according to well documented sources. Also the family name Rottenstern-Hahn is an invention, as no such or similar family name ever existed. The same for the father's name Gustavovich. The correct names of Feodor and Karl have been identified as Friedrich August (Fedor Avgustovic) and Otto Karl (also: Carl August) (Avgustovic) von Hahn. The death date of Fedor was identified as 1851 in St. Petersburg; he had married Gerduta Wilhemine Augusta von Stryk in 1805. His brother Otto Karl von Hahn was born 1782 and his first marriage was to Marie Elisabeth Findeisen in 1803 in Wesenberg. There was no information to be found that there exists any relationship between Axel von Hahn (and therewith with Helena) and the two brothers Friedrich August and Otto Karl von Hahn. The author believes that this relationship had probably been constructed arbitrarily. For this the author gives Boris de Zirkoff the main responsibility who is described as being through his mother a great grand-son of Otto Karl von Hahn. It was de Zirkoff who was attributed with bringing forth most of the genealogical information, with additional information from Helena's sister Vera Jachontov or Zhelihovsky, which information Laur describes as a vivid fantasy. That de Zirkoff is labeled in theosophical circles as grand-nephew or even as nephew of Helena is at best only "cum grano salis" correct, according to the author.[2]

According to Reitemeyer, Laur noted "that de Zirkoff gives no proof of a direct relationship between Helena and the von Hahn family, [...] while on the other hand clearly documented near relatives of Helena such as the numerous progenies of her father's siblings, [...] are ignored. With one of them, Nikolay, Helena had lived with in Paris in 1873." Also, according to Reitemeyer, Laur "did extensive research with members of the Hahn families" settled in the Baltic region, from Mecklenburg in Germany, "and consulted various of the families, and associations' genealogies, but he did not find any proof that Helena was related to these Hahn families. It is also often believed that the famous authoress Ida Gräfin Hahn-Hahn (1805-1880) was a 'cousin' of Helenas father or even a 'grand aunt' of Helena, which designation must not be understood literally, as there exists also no proof for that relationship. That some ancestors name was allegedly 'Rothenstern-Hahn' or 'Rottenstern-Hahn' is, according to the author, a claim based on 'clairvoyant experiences' (of Peter von Hahn together with his daughter Helena), and therefore, as Prof. Laur decides, not to be taken seriously."[2]

References

  1. ^ Reitemeyer, Frank (2007-10-25). "Re: Theos-World To Frank: Boris de Zirkoff -- biographical unreliabilities". theos-talk (Mailing list). Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2014-05-14.  Discussing article in Reitemeyer, Frank (Summer, 2006). "Open questions in HP Blavatsky's genealogy: review: 'Ein deutschbaltischer Hintergrund der Theosophie?' by Peter Lauer". Fohat : the mystical, the magical (Edmonton: Edmonton Theosophical Society) 10 (2): 35–. ISSN 1205-9676.  Check date values in: |date= (help) Transcribed in "Open questions in H. P. Blavatsky's genealogy". theosophycanada.com. Edmonton: Edmonton Theosophical Society. [n.d.] Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2014-05-18.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ a b Reitemeyer, Frank (Summer, 2006). "Open questions in HP Blavatsky's genealogy: review: 'Ein deutschbaltischer Hintergrund der Theosophie?' by Peter Lauer". Fohat : the mystical, the magical (Edmonton: Edmonton Theosophical Society) 10 (2): 35–. ISSN 1205-9676.  Check date values in: |date= (help) Transcribed in "Open questions in H. P. Blavatsky's genealogy". theosophycanada.com. Edmonton: Edmonton Theosophical Society. [n.d.] Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2014-05-18.  Check date values in: |date= (help) Review of Laur, Peter (2005). "Ein deutschbaltischer Hintergrund der 'Theosophie'?". Jahrbuch des baltischen Deutschtums (in German) (2006 ed.) (Lüneburg: Carl-Schirren-Gesellschaft) 53: 223–232. ISBN 3-923149-51-4. ISSN 0075-2436. 

--BoBoMisiu (talk) 22:35, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

So, somebody who understands all this stuff--fix it. It ain't me, Babe. Kcor53 (talk) 13:14, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Unless someone objects, I propose we just get rid of the Genealogy section, as it has no real bearing on the main subject of the article. Drmab (talk) 22:00, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

I agree with deletion. Kcor53 (talk) 13:57, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Childhood and youth[edit]

"Because of her father’s profession ..." which was what?? Kcor53 (talk) 13:32, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

The deletion of the geneology section is an improvement, I feel. The "Biography" is likewise bloated, here is a cutting-down of the section currently called "Biography," which I would rename "Childhood and youth," which retains only the things which I think are of use to a reader of the Blavatsky page and eliminates a reference to the father's profession, which is not anywhere named. I would keep the illo of the mother and the Blavatsky drawing only. Some footnoted refs are gone, I have not renumbered any. I have not re-written for style. Readers wanting to find out the stuff I've cut have citations of the sources. I do not volunteer to make the edit myself.

[start] She was born on 31 July (12 August new style), 1831, at Yekaterinoslav[11] (from 1926 Dnipropetrovsk). Her parents were Colonel Peter von Hahn (Russian: Пётр Алексеевич Ган, 1798–1873) of the ancient von Hahn family of German nobility (German: Uradel) from Basedow (Mecklenburg)[12] and her mother Helena Andreevna von Hahn (Fadeyeva).[13]

A year after Blavatsky's birth, the family moved to Romankovo (now part of Dneprodzerzhinsk), and in 1835 they moved to Odessa, where Blavatsky's sister, Zhelihovsky, was born. Later the family lived in Tula and Kursk. In the spring of 1836 they arrived in St. Petersburg where they lived until May 1837. From St. Petersburg, Blavatsky, along with her sister, mother, and grandfather Andrei Mikhailovich Fadeyev moved to Astrakhan. In 1838, Blavatsky's mother moved with her daughters to Poltava, where Helena began to take dance lessons and her mother taught her to play the piano.[15]

In spring 1839, the family moved to Odessa. There Helena Andreevna found a governess for her children, who taught them English.[16] In November, Blavatsky's grandfather Andrei Mikhailovich was assigned governor of Saratov by Emperor Nikolai I. After this, Helena Andreevna and her children moved to live with him. In June 1840, at Saratov, Helena Andreevna's son Leonid was born. Blavatsky was then nine years old. Nadejda Fadeyeva, Blavatsky's aunt, wrote to Alfred Sinnett of her memory of her niece:

Helena Andreevna Hahn, Blavatsky's mother

Richard Davenport-Hines described her as "a petted, wayward, invalid child" who was a "beguiling story-teller", in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.[17]

At ten years old, she began to study German.

In 1841, the family returned to Ukraine. On 6 July 1842, Helena Andreevna Hahn, Helena's mother and at that time a well-known writer, died at the age of 28 of galloping consumption.

After her mother's death, Helena's grandfather Andrei Mikhailovich and grandmother Helena Pavlovna took the children to Saratov, where they had quite a different life. Fadeyev's house was visited by Saratov's intellectuals. A well-known historian, Kostomarov, and writer, Mary Zhukova, were among them.[22] Blavatsky's grandmother and three teachers were occupied with the children's upbringing and education, so she received a solid home education.[23][24]

Blavatsky's favorite place in the house was her grandmother's library, which Helena Pavlovna inherited from her father.[24][25] In this voluminous library, Blavatsky paid special attention to the books on medieval occultism.[c]

In 1847, the family had moved from Saratov to Tiflis (present-day Tbilisi, Georgia), where Andrei Mikhailovich was invited to work at the Council of Senior Governance in the Transcaucasia region.[27] Pisareva wrote that:

They who knew her … in youth remember with delight her inexhaustibly merry, cheerful, sparkling with wit. She liked jokes, teasing and to cause a commotion.[13]

In youth, Blavatsky had a high life, often was in society, danced at the balls and visited the parties. But when she reached 16, she experienced a sudden inner change, and she began to study the books from her great-grandfather's library more deeply.[28]

"Margarita and Mephistopheles". 1862. Drawing of Blavatsky made after visiting of the opera "Faustus"

Striving for full independence during the winter of 1848/1849 at Tiflis, she entered into a sham marriage with General Nikifor Vasilyevich Blavatsky, the much older vice-governor of Erevan, on 7 July 1848.[17] Soon after their wedding, she escaped from her husband and returned to her relatives.[36] Russian law at the time did not allow divorce.[37] Further, she was going to Odessa and sailed away from Poti to Kerch in the English sailboat "Commodore". Then she moved to Constantinople. There she met a Russian countess Kiseleva, and together they traveled over Egypt, Greece and Eastern Europe.[38] Blavatsky's assertions about her courageous adventures "seem partly authentic" to Davenport-Hines.[17]

[end]

Kcor53 (talk) 14:00, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

In Ostend[edit]

She lived for 10 months in Ostend, Belgium, and wrote the biggest part of The Secret Doctrine at the hotel Villa Nova, Van Iseghemlaan 10 and in the Weststraat where she moved in August. This house was newly constructed as the Van Iseghemlaan was build in the 1870's but the Villa does not exist anymore. Then she went to Weststraat 17 (now Adolf Buylstraat, it is now the "Crêmerie Geoges"), one of the main shopping streets of Ostend. In the newspaper La Saison d'Ostende we find her name back in the list of strangers on the 15th July 1886: Blavatsky H., rent. St Petersbourg, Villa Nova. She had her revelation to finish the book at the Weststraat (and so not to die) where the doctor and the lawyer came, ten days before her departure for London 1 May 1887. 213.118.76.126 12:41, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

The following discussion is marked as answered. If you have a new comment, place it just below the box.

Tulpa creator

Whats this about Blavatsky and a tulpa she apparently created? Anyone else ever heard of this? --24.21.149.124 (talk) 09:47, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

That wasn't Blavatsky. That was Alexandra David-Neel. It is one of the best-known stories about tulpas. --Bluejay Young (talk) 19:08, 7 June 2012 (UTC)


Influencer of[edit]

Ariosophy[edit]

I'll add the following important fact to the end of the paragraph "Ariosophy" when no one wish to oppose:

The central importance of "Aryan" racism in Ariosophy, albeit compounded by occult notions deriving from theosophy, may be traced to the racial concerns of Social Darwinism in Germany.[1]

[1] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism, New York University Press, Washington, 2004, ISBN 0-8147-3054-X, p.14

--Teutobald (talk) 18:54, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Madame Pokipsi (character)[edit]

Paul Fusco the voice and chief puppeteer of ALF had a character on the animated series on NBC named Madame Pokipsi, a fairly blatant parody of Blavatsky, should we include him in the influenced category as well? Also many cultural references to the gypsy fortuneteller are allusions to Blavatsky, especially in speaking, since she would most likely have spoken with a fairly noticeable Slavic accent. Sochwa 2007-01-06T18:36:26

You need to source this. See Wikipedia:Attribution, SqueakBox 22:08, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

New Age spiritual leader?[edit]

In the article about New Age it is written that "The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century". Blavatsky passed away much earlier - in 1891, so it is not precise to categorize her in "New Age spiritual leaders". I suggest to move her into a new category - "New Age precursors" or "New Age predecessors", where Swedenborg, Vivekananda and others can also be placed. --174.3.242.51 (talk) 19:28, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Done. Other predecessors also included. --Hrisantius (talk) 00:47, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

The Illusionist (2006 film)[edit]

Is the movie The Illusionist based off of Blavatsky? Pg. 16 - 19 of The Esoteric World of Helena Blavatsky, is a witness account of her 'weighing a coffee table down,' much like the sword scene. Also, Blavatsky's brother is named Leonid (whom was there during this alleged incident, and a devout skeptic until then), and the antagonist of the movie is Leopold. Huffstuff (talk) 02:00, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

See Talk:The Illusionist (2006 film)#historical relevance.3F for other discussion about this. --BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

The List of Seven[edit]

Blavatsky also appears as a character in Mark Frost's The List of Seven wherein her work is influential to his main character - Arthur Conan Doyle - creating a work of fiction that leads to a Sherlockian supernatural adventure. Doyle's manuscript in a novel supposedly lifts much "straight out of Blavatsky." In Chapter 7 of the novel, Blavatsky and Doyle meet and discuss her work. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.54.93.244 (talk) 20:04, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Some quotes from the occult murder mystery include "he borrowed not only the title of his book but his villains' motives from the woolliest works of Madame Blavatsky. Who would have thought his petty larceny would come so hideously to roost?" "he'd more or less cribbed 'The Dark Brotherhood' from Blavatsky. Which begged the question, if they were after him because of his book, how close to the truth of what they were up to had the lunatic Russian wandered?" I looked through the eBook (Frost, Mark (1994) [©1993]. The list of seven (eBook). New York: Avon Books. ISBN 0062127349 – via Content Reserve. (subscription required (help)). ) which didn't include print page numbers, so no page numbers are cited. I'm not going to look for a print copy or finish reading the ebook because I don't like reading murder mysteries. --BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Rm'vd Plant and Page from "Influences"[edit]

Robert Plant has rarely, if ever, expressed any particular spiritual stance; the best you might say is that he's influenced by Norse mythology. Page, on the other hand, has stated publicly many times (and it's otherwise well-documented) that he has been inspired by Aleister Crowley; I'm not aware of him ever mentioning Blavatsky as an influence. So, I removed them both from the "Influences" section. If anything, you might consider adding Jon Anderson and Yes (band) (read the lyrics of Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans in particular). But then, that would be OR, too, I reckon. Eaglizard 04:48, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

NB:Dang, I thought for sure there'd be some disagreement with this. I guess I've just been editing Alice Bailey for too long, I see edit-wars everywhere I go now. lol Eaglizard 22:22, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm quite familiar with Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans, and you are blowing smoke, talking out the back of your neck and talking through your hat. I prefer to listen to the LPs and commune with my Tokemaster. Blavatsky also had a well-known fondness for some good 'shish. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.171.176.238 (talk) 08:28, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Un-did Removal of Influences Section[edit]

Whoever removed the Influences section is clearly trying to cover-up the important discussion about the influence of Blavatsky.
It is a well known fact that the Nazi's modeled much of the Nazi culture and government after the Hindu caste system.
The question as to whether Blavatsky influenced the Nazi's is an important debate, to claim otherwise, is just insane bias. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.185.181.62 (talk) 04:26, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

If it's a "well known fact" then you'll presumably have no difficulty in providing reliable sources to verify it. As you have been asked to do repeatedly. --Malleus Fatuorum 18:41, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Swastika[edit]

The swastika was not "Indian," but an ancient Aryan symbol that passed to India when the Aryans invaded the local Dravidian population. Hitler used the Swastika as part of his Aryan symbology, claiming that the Germans are an Aryan race with ancient and powerful roots, and that the German people again be elevated to that level and beyond. The Swastika was just another part of the Aryan theme that the Nazi movement revolved around, as were the other various ancient Roman, Norse, Teutonic, and Iranian symbols employed by the Nazi Party.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the swastika was a popular symbol in occultism. They called it "The Wheel of Mithra", and it was a symbol for good luck. Mithra is an an ancient Iranian sun god (and son god) whose worship spread through the Roman Empire (imported to the West by Alexander the Great's invasion of Persia) until Mithraism became Rome's official religion in the centuries before it was replaced by Christianity. WingedEarth 11:34, 21 August 2007

The reasons why are that the use of the swastika and colors of the Nazi flag are an undeniable link to the works of Madame Blavatsky.
That is like comparing the Nazi use of the Swastika to the older Hindu Symbolism behind it. Attributing Blavatsky to the Swastika in the use of Nazism and Hitler, rather than in the context which she as a Buddhist and Theosophist considered it, is completely out of context and misleading to the reader. To quote the Swastika article:
"(Red, white, and black were the colors of the flag of the old German Empire.)
The use of the swastika was associated by Nazi theorists with their conjecture of Aryan cultural descent of the German people. Following the Nordicist version of the Aryan invasion theory, the Nazis claimed that the early Aryans of India, from whose Vedic tradition the swastika sprang, were the prototypical white invaders. It was also widely believed that the Indian caste system had originated as a means to avoid racial mixing. The concept of Racial purity was an ideology central to Nazism though it is now considered unscientific. For Rosenberg, the Aryans of India were both a model to be imitated and a warning of the dangers of the spiritual and racial "confusion" that, he believed, arose from the close proximity of races."
You can see that if anything, Hitler determined his use of the Swastika from a misunderstanding of Vedic Tradition - Not from Blavatsky. (I also added a subheading to deal with the Hodgson Report, Under Criticisms.) - Misoshiru 14:22, 23 October 2006 (UTC)Misoshiru
Note that the Theosophical Seal also contains a much larger Star of David! Actually both are used as ancient Indian symbols and have nothing to do with either Nazism or Judaism. Given the many available sources for the swastika, to attribute the Nazi use of it without any real evidence to Theosophy seems unfair. (The Theosophical Society in Germany was never large, and was suppressed when the Nazis came to power.)
The same goes for the race ideas. It must be recognized that in the 19th century the word Aryan was very widely used to mean what is now meant by Indo-European, including in many German books much more linked to German nationalism than Blavatsky, who wrote mainly in English, ever was. Moreover, in the 19th century "race" was often used in a more in the way we would use nationality or even culture than in a strictly biological sense. Thinking of it as a culture, the technology of the fifth root race has indeed swept across the world, for better or worse. But it should also be noted that Blavatsky did not absolutize any of the "races" -- she writes of their rise and fall, their all falling into decadence, and in one place delights in observing that one day the now-despised African races may well "form the bulk of the civilized nations" (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 425. ). One does not find such ideas in Nazi writings. For that matter, if one take the trouble to compare The Secret Doctrine with Mein Kampf and The Myth of the Twentieth Century in any detail, one will find despite the unfortunate words race and Aryan the concept, and the outline of racial history, is quite different.
Re Judaism one also has to look at the whole picture. Her use of the Kabbalah as a philosophical mainstay is certainly a tribute. In Isis Unveiled she expresses deep sympathy for the Jews in their persecutions and wanderings, I suspect somewhat identifying with them in her own life as an oft-abused wanderer. Olcott in Old Diary leaves ch 1 tells of her repeated expressions of appreciation to an elderly Jew her gave her employment when she arrived virtually penniless in New York (a Russian noblewoman working for a New York Jew!), and says another learned Jew talk with her for hours about the Kabbalah and was amazed by her knowledge of it.—This is part of a comment by S Ellwood (of 12:24, 24 October 2006 (UTC)), which was interrupted by the following:
"It seem important to be aware of that H. P. Blavatsky's references on inferiority among cultural groups was related to a groups spiritual level of development and not its genetic outfit as assumed by some superficial readers of her teachings." i do not understand this to be relevant in criticisms of Ms. Blavatsky. being that she was a mystic and not a biologist i think it is somewhat evident that any theory she had would have been on a spiritual level not a physical one, most importantly can some one explain why it would be in any way less bigoted to believe any particular race as spiritually inferior as opposed to physically inferior. if any thing it only strikes me as more offensive as this does not only minimize there humanity on a mere intellectual or technological level but calls there very souls indeed the essence of what makes them human into question. 68.5.18.29 2010-05-01T13:28:38
As for Satan, it needs to be understood in those isolated passages she is just expounding the Gnostic package; no doubt she sympathized with it, but it was only one metaphor she used for her worldview. See my book, Ellwood, Robert S. (1986). a modern expression of the wisdom of the ages. Quest book. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House. ISBN 0835606074.  S Ellwood 2006-10-24T12:24:12 and 2006-10-24T12:25:27
"Satan, the Serpent of Genesis, is the real creator and benefactor, the Father of Spiritual mankind (Brooke, Harvest House Publishers, 1989, pg 175-176)." I put that quote into the main bio and had it deleted several times. When I first read Blavatsky's bio, it read more like a fanpage. I felt that it was only fair to present an alternative. The way it read, there was nary a negative piece of information. I never inserted name-calling into the bio. I simply referenced a quote from her writings to add to discussion.
As for my additions to the list of those influenced by Blavatsky: I did add Adolf Hitler, Alfred Kinsey, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and deleted Van Morrison. The reasons why are that the use of the swastika and colors of the Nazi flag are an undeniable link to the works of Blavatsky. I added Kinsey because Blavatsky heavily influenced Aleister Crowley's writings on sex, which in turn influenced Kinsey. Plant and Page were added because one only need look to their body of musical work to see the influences of the occult and religious relativism. I removed Morrison because he often pronounces his faith in God during concerts, so it seemed pointless to have Morrison on the list when there is no real discussion in Morrison's page on his religious beliefs. 67.185.88.176 2006-05-29T13:16:40
But, even if that sentence is written in the book, are you sure it is the core of the Theosophical Society? It says nothing about satan in the Theosophical Society's page, nor does it seem to be of that importance to that that society. 84.108.57.189 21:23, 18 June 2006 (UTC)
The reason why the quote was referenced is to give the reader an idea of what influenced Blavatsky's thinking. She clearly derived many of her ideas from her belief that Satan was the superior god. Whether the Theosophical Society promotes Satan directly is not the point -- the point was to simply provide evidence of what influenced her line of thinking. 207.62.186.233 2006-10-17T13:24:35
(Going to delete claims of Satan; This is most certainly not a key principle of Theosophy and will be taken in the wrong light out of context and without citation by the passing reader with no previous knowledge. 82.35.160.115 2006-06-20T16:10:29

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Also reference to Hitler will be deleted. 'Aryan' in Theosophical terms refers to the Fifth root race, rather than to the 'White race' as popularized by Nazism.82.35.160.115 2006-06-20T16:14:31

The fact is, Blavatsky popularized and glorified the Aryan race and clearly used the Swastika in Theosophy. You cannot deny that her works influenced Adolf Hitler. If you think that Hitler twisted her work than DISCUSS that rather than hide from DISCUSSION. I have read The Secret Doctrine, and was horrified by the use of the term "mud people." 67.185.57.48 2006-06-24T01:43:00
Merely the fact that they had a few similar concepts is not sufficient evidence for "influence". You are free to do more research on this idea and come up with something more clear-cut however. We can say that Gandhi was influenced, because he actually stated that he went to Theosophy meetings. Those were his own words. Here you're making a lot of unfounded assumptions. The Swastika was a very old symbol, Blavatsky didn't come up with it. Wjhonson 15:58, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
Once again, the reference to Hitler will be removed; Hitler has in no way used Theoosphical principles in his forming of Nazism, and the Swastika indeed was used previously by Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Hitlers definition of 'Aryan' to be a 'Superior white race' in the vain of extremism does not hold in common the Theosophical view that the 'Ayran' fifth root race is merely the most recent wave of man kind, and that some pure races in Africa can be traced back to the 4th root race which are not Ayran. (But not prejudiced or racist or anything in the sense that Hitler propagated.) 80.195.178.107 2006-06-24T18:13:53
Much of Blavatsky's writing contained strong racial themes. She regularly contrasts "Aryan" with "Semitic" culture, to the detriment of the latter, asserting that Semitic (e.g. Jewish) peoples are an offshoot of Aryans who have become "degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality" (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 200. ). Blavatsy also sorted the races of the world by their relation to the "Fifth Race" (the Atlanteans) putting the Aryans on the top and describing Native Australians and Tazmanians as "semi-animal creatures." RomoCop 2006-10-10T13:41:21
Alexis Dolgorukii wrote in What is "Theosophy", a process or a religion? at the Wayback Machine (archived July 3, 2006) that,

[...] a television documentary [...] implied a connection between Blavatsky and Hitler. [... It] is not the only source of this rumor, there are a number of books, [... that] echo the charge. [... I] conclude that while there is no direct connection between [... Blavatsky] and Totalitarian Philosophy, [...] she may have influenced [...] Fascist philosophers [...] and there is a [...] direct connection between The theosophical Society [...] and [...] contemporary totalitarian elements such as National Socialism in Germany, and the Fascist Movement in Italy as well as with continuing totalitarian and hierarchical elements in society today. My research indicates that the primary [...] connection between National Socialism and Theosophy was Charles Webster Leadbeater and his various closest associates and followers. - Nunh-huh 17:53, 17 October 2006 (UTC) Quote trimmed by BoBoMisiu 14:03, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

The author is Alexis Dolgorukii. Who is he? — goethean 17:58, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As he states in that very paragraph, Blavatsky's cousin, and one who is predisposed to believe only good about her, but nonetheless is forced to concede the connection between Theosophy and National Socialism.- Nunh-huh 18:05, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Riddle me This[edit]

If the use of "Aryan" is not enough to prove that Blavatsky influenced Hitler (directly or indirectly), then riddle me this -- how did Hitler get the word "Aryan?" RomoCop 2006-10-26T16:31:52

Aryan is the terminology of self description, that certain Iranian minority groups, use to delineate themselves from the majority population of that particular nation state. Sochwa 18:18, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
Aryan is the historical and majority population of Iran, not a minority.WingedEarth 11:22, 21 August 2007
Aryan was a well known word at the time describing a racial/linguistic group having originated in the Caucausus and Iran region. Iranian and Aryan are synonymous, but in the early 19th century, linguists and comparative religion scholars from Europe began to understand the connections between Iranians with Indians and Europeans. The ancient Aryans practiced a religion which split into the later Vedas (Hindu) and Avesta (Iranian) religious authorities. The language of the ancient Aryans is not known precisely, but it's descendants include Old Persian and Sanskrit, as well as Latin, German, and Russian, from which modern European languages (including English) descended. Hitler didn't have to discover the word "Aryan" from an obscure source, because it was well known. However, many of Hitler's associates (Dietrich Eckhart, Alfred Rosenberg, etc.), including the founders of the NSDAP, were interested in occultism, and particularly Aryan-based occultism (typically via ancient Roman, Norse, Teutonic, and Iranian religion), and pretty much every Western occultist of the early 20th century was influenced by Blavatsky, who was a pioneer in the field. WingedEarth 11:20, 21 August 2007
Also, it is a well known fact that Adolf Eichmann based much of the Nazi organizational structure on Hinduism. To suggest that because because Blavatsky was referring to Indian cultures, and that the Nazi's were not influenced by Blavatsky is utter nonsense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.185.181.62 (talk) 04:20, 16 October 2009 (UTC) and 2009-11-10T03:00:39
I have heard these accusations before however unable to verify them I thought I might contact the Theosophical Society to hear their view on the matter to begin with.
"Hitler seems to have been familiar with some of Blavatsky's writings, but did not study them in depth as far as we know. He may very well have based some of his concepts of races on a warped interpretation of Blavatsky's views of the "root races, " which is completely different from the term "races" that we use commonly. The Theosophical Society was not in any way connected to the Nazi Movement. The Society was persecuted by the Nazis, and Theosophists from the Netherlands, Greece, and Java were interned in concentration camps during World War II. Headquarters buildings of the European sections of the Society were closed during the war, and their records and libraries were looted by the Germans."
This response comes from the e-mail at archives@theosophical.org and the e-mail itself is dated at Mon, January 25, 2010 1:41:38 PM. Here is the file for download for anyone to view. Though the e-mail states at the very beginning that "these are my own interpretations, intended to assist you in your research, and should not be treated as bearing any special authority." I just thought this information could be helpful to determine as to whether or not this would be of any importance to find out if this claim was true. Voiceofreason467 5:49pm August 1, 2010 —Preceding undated comment added 00:51, 2 August 2010 (UTC).
I cannot help but recommend the excellent book The Occult Roots of Nazism. The influence of Blavatsky on Heinrich Himmler and the ideology of the SS is discussed in a clear way. −81.65.159.132 (talk) 01:35, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

The influenced are not a reflection of the influencer[edit]

The fact that Adolf Hitler may have read the works of Blavatsky, or may in some way have been influenced by her, is not a reflection on Blavatsky. Hitler also listed to Bach and studied the paintings of the Renaissance Masters. They are not, for that reason, responsible for the Third Reich. Blavatsky must be understood in her own terms. --66.81.100.246 (talk) 16:49, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Fools in the dark never see the light[edit]

I recently attempted to address an issue in which I was maliciously attacked for merely presenting a real controversy about the work of Blavatsky--in one case, I merely cited her work. That controversy being whether Blavatsky influenced Hitler and the Nazi Party. The defenders make excuses that basically amount to, "No, that's not true, because we say so."

I for one believe that the symbol of Theosophy is offensive. The symbolism suggests that Egyptian heritage should be at the center of Jewish heritage (and whom enslaved the Jews?), and above both is the heritage of the Swastika, whether the swastika used by Blavatsky intended to refer to Indian or Chinese culture is uncertain, but the geometric design is similar to the Chinese design. Either Blavatsky influenced the future, or by strange coincidence, the symbol of Theosophy incorporates Judaism and their two biggest enemies in history (Egyptians and Nazi's). 67.185.181.62 2009-11-10T03:00:39

The Egyptians certainly didn't enslave 'the Jews'. The whole thing is a legend, only supported in the Torah and the Bible. And you're seeing a 'conspiracy', are you? Your logic here is very odd! 124.170.252.20 (talk) 00:31, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
By the way the talk page cannot be a place for our interpretations of Theosophical Society's symbols or who are Jew's enemies. Please stop such nonsense in this talk page. Sailpra (talk) 06:04, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

I do believe that Hitler was influenced by Theosophy, because any honest researcher will say that the Nazi party incorporated many elements of different religions, as did Blavatsky. And the fact is, Blavatsky promoted an Aryan race as superior. Hitler used a swastika to represent Aryanism and the Nazi Party, and the swastika is not rooted in Europe. Moreover, Blavatsky believed that the Aryan race originated in Atlantis, which would suggest that her idea of Aryan was not just India and the Far East. 67.185.181.62 2009-11-10T03:00:39

Hitler's ideas were not original, and beg the question as to whether Hitler took from Blavatsky. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.185.181.62 (talkcontribs)

"Beg the question" does not mean "raise the question." "Beg the question" means "presuppose" or "assume beforehand." --Lestrade (talk) 02:05, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
Nobody has said any such thing, and it is irrelevant whether you or anyone else finds the symbol of Theosophy "offensive". Your opinions and beliefs have no place in an encyclopedia article; if you believe that Hitler was influenced by Theosophy—bearing in mind this is an article about Blavatsky, not Theosophy—then you must find reliable sources to support your view. If you further believe that being asked to provide reliable sources amounts to a "malicious attack", then I'm afraid it's likely that there's no place for you in wikipedia. --Malleus Fatuorum 16:50, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Nobody has said such thing -- I just did fool. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 146.187.151.142 (talk) 18:27, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Published sources exist claiming Nazi adoption of these beliefs though they are the usual sort of poorly sourced fringe writers. For example:
Someone may care to include such sources, as the article already relies heavily on badly written books from self-publicists, it can hardly make the content any less encyclopedic.—Ash (talk) 13:59, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Just because the article's poorly sourced now doesn't mean that we should add even more dubious sources. If the claim about Nazi influence is true then it ought to be able to be sourced to reliable sources. If it can't be, then it shouldn't be included. But this is an article about Blavatsky anyway, not about Theosophy. This claim, if it can be substantiated, would be relevant in the Theosophy article, but the question here is did Blavatsky have any on the Nazism? --Malleus Fatuorum 15:21, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I classed the sources as poorly sourced, I made no claim that they fail to meet WP:RS. Looking at the how David Icke's book is cross-referenced in Google Scholar, I would expect that it would be a suitable source for evidence that such a theory exists. Perhaps you have specific grounds to class these as unreliable sources? Perhaps you could find grounds to dismiss these other published books that make the same claim that various Nazis specifically adopted Blavatsky's ideas (rather than just Theosophy in general):
Ash (talk) 15:57, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
The Levenda book seems like a reasonable source to support the notion that Theosophy was influential in pre-war German secret occult societies, and likely in the occult aspects of Nazism, and that should be reflected in the Theosophy article of course. This, however, is a biography of Blavatsky, not an account of Theosophy. If you're going to make the claim that specific Nazis, rather than Nazism in general, were influenced by Blavatsky's ideas, rather than by Theosophy, then that's a whole different ball game. --Malleus Fatuorum 16:35, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────You seem to be making the assumption that Levenda links Nazi beliefs with Theosophy rather than Blavatsky. Looking at page 40 he specifically mentions Blavatsky 8 times, stating that the beliefs in question (in particular the spiritual struggle between races) originated in Blavatsky's publications. I'm not that interested in re-writing the article but the sources seem clear and specific enough not to dismiss these claims out of hand and the later influence of Blavatsky's publications would seem quite relevant to a biographic article (c.f. Isaac Newton which has a lengthy section about the influence of his work after his death).—Ash (talk) 18:01, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

I am making no assumptions whatsoever, I am simply guided by what is actually said in Levanda's book. The fundamental point is that no evidence has yet been brought forth to support the notion that Hitler or other leading Nazis were influenced by Blavatsky, as opposed to Theosophy. I quote from page 362: "Indeed, both directly and indirectly, that fabulous creation of Madame Blavatsky—her Theosophical Society—can be found at the root of virtually all of the occult societies that gave rise to the Thule Gesellschaft and, eventually, to the Third Reich itself." I see no support for the claim that Hitler was influenced by Blavatsky, but if such a claim can be reliably sourced, then of course it should be reintroduced into the article, properly cited. It would probably be relatively easy to make a credible case that the occult aspects of Nazism were influenced by Theosophy, but by Blavatsky herself? --Malleus Fatuorum 22:09, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Hitler and the Nazis were opposed to Masonry because it was associated with the left-wing politically. I know Blavatsky wasn't a Mason, but a lot of her associates were, and her views were influenced by Masonic philosophy. So I find it hard to believe that the Nazis were influenced by her. --198.51.130.244 (talk) 07:05, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
I do know though that Blavatsky wrote a chapter in Isis Unveiled attacking Masonry so maybe what I said is wrong. --198.51.130.244 (talk) 07:21, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
Blavatsky had never criticized or was against Masonry, her point was that in the current age none of the so called Free masons have the actual knowledge about the ancient civilizations for that matter the actual design and secrets behind Solomon's temple etc compared to the actual founders of masonry. Sailpra (talk) 05:59, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Reliable sources[edit]

Book review on a blog[edit]

A book review on a blog questioned the scholarship of books which repeated a legend, that evolved from speculation that Albert Einstein had read a Blavatsky book into speculation that Einstein had kept a Blavatsky book on his desk, to Einstein's non-existant niece. More so, that objectivity is bad or, in the words of the book reviewer, Jason Colavito, an "argument that science and scholarship are bad because they don't assume the reality of a spiritual dimension of gods and monsters" is a premise that some writers about Blavatsky exploit. Colavito, cited the sources of this legend and questioned the authenticity and intentions of the authors. The citation was removed with this 2013 edit by XercesBlue1991. Colavito identified what he called "a psychic post office in Blavatsky's lacquered cabinet, materializing letters to her from the ether on demand" and her other "parlor tricks" and concluded that, this "implies nothing about the correctness of her spiritual beliefs" so "to rehabilitate Blavatsky as a spiritual guide would involve proving the validity of her claims in Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, a tall order given their reliance on assumptions that cannot be provide [sic] and outdated sources long since proved false."[1] Identifying logical fallacies, as Colavito seems to have done (that a person's ability to perform stage magician tricks does not cause that same person's written beliefs to be true) is a valid argument, and, in my opinion, should be integrated into the section on Blavatskian Theosophy.

Colavito points out the fact that "Western interest in Eastern faiths did not originate with Blavatsky and had been a popular subject of study in the West for a century before her." He identifies Pope Pius IX's 1864 Syllabus of Errors as "good evidence for the widespread nature of the beliefs" such as pantheism and indifferentism ("that reason guides each individual to God through any number of equally valid religious paths"). Colavito believes that the Syllabus of Errors "is strong evidence that Blavatsky was a result not an originator of the religious and spiritual changes of the nineteenth century" as some books about her presume.[1] Colavito cites The Greeks and the Irrational by E. R. Dodds as an example of works which examine ancient esoteric ideas.[2]

A search for "blavatsky" on jasoncolavito.com, Colavito's blog, reveals that it contains several skeptical posts about her.

References

  1. ^ a b Colavito, Jason (2013-05-25). "Gary Lachman, Albert Einstein, and the Rehabilitation of Helena Blavatsky". jasoncolavito.com (personal blog). Archived from the original on 2014-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-24. 
  2. ^ Dodds, Eric Robertson (1951). The Greeks and the irrational. Sather classical lectures 25. Berkeley: University of California Press. LCCN 51013756. 

--BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Lacking in objectivity[edit]

This article misleads the reader. Compare its content to Campbell, Bruce F. (1980). Ancient wisdom revived: a history of the Theosophical movement. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520039688.  Wiki readers would appreciate Campbell's objectivity that clearly contradicts much of this article.

I have noticed that the Theosophy, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy articles are edited or written to remove or downplay negative information. In the Blavatsky article, the fraud perpetrated by Blavatsky and that of her immediate followers is sadly missing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jhilliard (talkcontribs) 22:49, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

I fully agree. Just a few more references that dispute Blavatsky's story:
I admit that some of these are fairly partisan, but certainly not more partisan than the theosophical literature so frequently referred to in the article.--Redjsteel (talk) 23:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Oh hats off to your objective thinking! Just because many people have written or claimed Blavatsky as Fraud does not make her Fraud. These are in times of 1890s and we know which organizations have been falsely safe guarding their vested interests against true esoteric wisdom. No wonder that they were able to create such a organized attempt against Blavatsky. What do we know of the circumstances then? Did we have media then? No? The media was under the control of "these organizations" (it can be understood) and how can we trust the claims made by such media and committees formed by them. When we criticize someone just know that you are criticizing a human being. We may have the right to criticize someone, if we are 100% sure that she has committed such Frauds and we have experienced and seen her performing those Frauds. None of these authors fall under these categories, then how can we call them Objective Thinkers? Especially we have to learn to respect and have dignity for human beings and their efforts and especially women when we speak against them. Sailpra (talk) 06:20, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
Our duty in Wikipedia is not to judge whether or not reliable sources are saying the truth, as per WP:NOTTRUTH. Our duty is to say what reliable sources said. If there are academic books describing frauds within the Theosophical movement, then I think our duty is to speak about them in the article, in the same proportion as reliable sources do. This article is unbalanced and highly biased from the point of view of a believer of theosophy's doctrine. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 14:38, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
The following discussion is marked as answered. If you have a new comment, place it just below the box.

theos-talk.com

Footnotes 10, 11, and 12 go to anonymous postings to theos-talk.com, the archive of a Theosophical email list. These are not reliable sources. They should be removed. Additionally, the linked text only make allegations of plagiarism, it doesn't provide any evidence for the allegations in the form of quotations from Blavatsky. — goethean 19:07, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

They were removed in this 2007 edit by goethean


Neutral point of view[edit]

Controversies vs. the rest of her life[edit]

Dear Editors,
I would like to get it to your notice the observation that why does this article carry so much of controversies as against the rest of the biography and the article? Wikipedia cannot be a page of fight between Illuminati and the Christian or between Christian Dogmas and Pagan Beliefs. It has to be edited with due respect to the person and the life. If Blavatsky's life was worth of only controversies why should the article, at first place, be written as a wikipedia biographical article? We can as well remove it. The reason for Blavatsky getting such a high fame and attention is because of her contribution to theosophy. We respect Blavatsky for her contribution and revival of Eastern Esoteric wisdom. She was a historian, contemporary philosopher and miracle worker. It is a shame that people are using Wikipedia to make their whims and fancies shadow the biographical notes. Please do ponder on these thoughts without any bias.
Thank you. Sailpra (talk) 05:55, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree with this former statement. The general tone of the article is purely negative and the reader gets no inkling about why theosophy was so important in spiritual research. It looks like an article about the Vatican that would dedicate half of its content to the problem of pedophilia among the Catholic clergy. It ascribes more importance to the reception of Blavatsky work than to her work properly. --Alexandre Rongellion (talk) 13:35, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
I don't think your analogy with the Vatican is a valid one. Less than 1 percent of catholic priests are pedophile, while Blavatsky is a single person and many reliable sources describe many of her works and claims as fraudulent. WP:DUE weight must be given to those sources inside the article. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 14:45, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

NPOV[edit]

Someone inline with her idea's and beliefs wrote this article, and they defending it from having any type of NPOV. This isn't a Biography, it's cheer-leading pamphlet, an after the fact rationalization of history, a debate swayed towards the views of the supporters, and a total mockery of what Wikipedia is supposed to stand for. The Talk page, and ton of other research show tons of criticism, debunking, disproving, case of out right bigotry, fraud, and racism in the concepts this woman wrote about. But all of that goes unmentioned, deleted, or debate and withheld in this article. Believers in her concepts and philosophy are using that article to rewrite and misguide History. The Neutrality of the dominate contributing editors of this Article is in Question. 98.203.36.3 (talk) 10:47, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes. It needs severe pruning and the addition of more skeptical material, from sources such as Madame Blavatsky's Baboon. . William Avery (talk) 11:31, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

In need of attention![edit]

This page needs some critical attention. I've tried to remove some of the worst POV-pushing from the racial theories section, but the article still reads like it was written by partisans of theosophy. There are quite a few critical works on Blavatsky and theosophy available, so there isn't really an excuse for such blatant POV. Elrith (talk) 03:08, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Especially the "Criticism" section seems to be completely POV. Elrith (talk) 03:11, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

This article needs to be completely thrown out and rewritten by someone who:
  1. Speaks English.
  2. Doesn't have a genealogy fetish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JoeDetweiler (talkcontribs) 08:04, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

Blavatskian theosophy[edit]

During the course of working on the Theosophy main page, it was decided that the theosophy presented by Blavatsky should be located here, just as the philosophy of Plato, for instance, is located under Plato and not under Philosophy. Therefor, I have moved much of what was found under theosophy to here. See Talk:Theosophy#Proposed outline for the history of this decision.

I have left several subsections under Theosophy empty; they are in need of material. What we really need here is a faithful and sincere (and impartial) outline of Blavatsky's theosophy, and my hope is that we can slowly work towards that. Existing sections need to be reviewed and any information not specifically related to Blavatsky's writings needs to be removed (i.e. what her followers said belongs under their own pages, not under the theosophy of Blavatsky - just as Aristotle's ideas are not muddled in with Plato's ideas on Plato's page). It is of benefit to separately describe Blavatsky's theosophy here, then describe other theosophists ideas elsewhere - this will give the inquirer a clear picture of the theosophy of various theosophers, just as a student of philosophy is able to get a clear picture of the philosophy of various philosophers.

Lastly, the section titled "Main Creative Period" needs to be scrapped and replaced with a more accurate biographical section on Blavatsky during the days of the Theosophical Society (1875-1891) (with links to the main Theosophical Society page and it's history). JFergus (talk) 23:49, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

Structuring articles[edit]

Hi JEMead and Sunray. Just catching up on your conversation. Sunray: I disagree that the description of Blavatsky's theosophy may not belong on her page, so I'll try to give a good explanation why I see it that way. I've mentioned Plato a few times in order to provide an example. See the Plato article for how it's laid-out and compare to what we're trying to do with Blavatsky's page. The main problem here is that there is a misunderstanding of what Theosophy is. Theosophy is not the doctrine of Blavatsky. Theosophy is a discipline, just as philosophy is. Within that discipline there are various ideas presented by various individuals, just as in philosophy, and never are any two presentations the same, just as in philosophy. So, what needs to be done, imho, is for various theosophies to be located under the theosopher who gave them, just as various philosophies are located with the philosophers. This step is important in getting wikipedia away from presenting theosophy as a dogmatic new religion, as has thus far been done. Nobody would stand for having one, single individual's ideas presented as "philosophy", as though that is all philosophy is, and the exact same thing goes here. Currently, the description of Theosophy is a muddling of several individual's ideas on certain fundamental questions that theosophers ask, and is presented as dogma, as though this is what all theosopher think. It would be as though someone muddled together the ideas of Plato, Socrates, Kant and Wittgenstein and supplied that as the definition of philosophy. There are already pages for several theosophers, and within each of those pages can be a section on their specific ideas (which will not match one another and thus shouldn't be mixed).

Your note that Blavatsky was not the only one who developed this version of theosophy is valid, but easily compared and clarified as well: neither was Plato the only one to have developed the philosophies of the Platonic Academy, but his philosophy is still located under his page, Aristotle's under his, and the other ancient Greek philosophers under theirs. The comparison is identical to our situation here: Blavatsky, Sinnett, W Judge, Besant and many others were all part of the same 'academy' of theosophy (the TS), just as the Greek philosophers were part of the same academy of philosophy. It does not mean they all thought the same way or presented the same ideas in their writings. The parallels between the Theosophical Society and the Academy are many. If we can approach our current situation in the same way as one would approach writing the sections on the Academy and its philosophers/philosophies, we'll be on the right track, imho.

I hope these illustrations help in understanding the grandeur of the problem we're trying to work through here (it's more than just moving a few things around). This is why there needs to be an effort to re-categorize theosophy away from religion (it is not a religion). Also, the current 'series' called 'Theosophy' (based on the category) should be renamed to a series on "the theosophical society", as it is the society that is the common factor there. It is evident that this series is based on the Theosophical Society, as the first thing mentioned are the "founders of the TS" and everything after is from Theosophical Society members and writings. See this page (right hand side) for the series in question: Gottfried de Purucker.

These are my views, anyway, for consideration. JFergus (talk) 17:23, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Plato is a good example, IMO. When an individual has been been very influential in a particular field, it is often best to summarize their thought in their biography. There seem to me to be two limiting factors. When someone's thought is important and voluminous, it is often best to use summary style and create a new article, or articles, for their contribution to a particular field. The Plato article does this to a limited extent, however, at 97+ Kb, it will probably need more subarticles before it can advance in rating beyond "C" class. Another example is Aristotle. The article makes extensive use of subarticles. It is 86 kb and is rated "B" class.
The Blavatsky article doubled in length when the material from the former Theosophy article was added. At 98 Kb, it is somewhat large as articles go (she is, after all, not as important as Plato or Aristotle). Another concern I have is that her thought was added to, and developed, by others (Leadbeater, Besant), so that to cover that brand of Theosophy one needs to explain the contributions of several people. Biographies usually avoid this. I should add that much of her thought was taken from other sources (i.e., Vedanta—see the discussion about her having used several sources in The Theosophical Glossary) and, along with other issues, this needs to be discussed in any article about her thought—all of which add up to a very long article if the material is left in the "Helena Blavatsky" article.
I agree with you that there is a major re-categorizing effort here. We need to re-think the content for several articles. I will start a new section for that discussion. Sunray (talk) 19:14, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
— Talk:Theosophy 2011-12-29T20:55:46

Sunray, I've copied over our conversation from the Talk:Theosophy page, to continue it here, as it's specifically applicable to this article.
Seems that we're on the same page here overall. It's just a matter of working out the layout details. For the Blavatsky article, I would propose:

  • We create a "Blavatsky (Biography)" subarticle (or perhaps "Blavatsky Lineage" would be better), in order to dump much of what is there now into a subarticle. The biography part of her page is far too voluminous, and hardly even touches on her most well known years! It's really an account of lineage, and not a biography at all. What I'd like to see is either:
  1. A Biography summary, with a link to a full article, or
  2. A full biography here with a link to a lineage article, or
  3. A summary biography with link to full article, and a lineage summary with a link to full article
Note: I'm attempting to locate an expert on Blavatsky, to come here and help with the biography material.
  • The "Theosophical Society" subsection on Blavatsky page should give only a summary account of her specific relationship to the Society, and then link to the main Theosophical Society article.
  • The section "Theosophy" should remain, with each subsection providing a brief summary and link to full articles (when required). You're right, Aristotle's article is a good example of use of subarticles. There we find subarticles such as "Politics (Aristotle)", "Metaphysics (Aristotle)", "Aristotelean Ethics", etc. I could easily see the Blavatsky page going in a similar direction. So, I see two alternatives here:
  1. Theosophy subarticles with summaries and links to topic pages that include the ideas of various theosophers. For instance: "Karma/Reincarnation (Theosophy)" could be one subarticle, "Cosmic Evolution (Theosophy)" could be another (not sure how this would fit within Wiki's guidelines for naming, etc.). In this case, I would propose that we write each subarticle in an internally sequential manner (i.e. historical basis (brief note on sources from Vedanta, Buddhism, etc. that influenced theosopher's ideas), then Blavatsky said such-and-such, then so-and-so added this idea, then so-and-so added that idea, etc.). This would demonstrate a sort of evolution of the idea, which, imho, would accurately reflect the reality of this movement of theosophical thought. In this way, we could link to these subarticles from Blavatsky's page, from William Judge's page, from Besant's page, from Leadbeaters page, etc., as each of them would be represented there as supplying part of the evolution of the idea. Or,
  2. Theosophy subarticles with summaries and links to topic pages restricted to Blavatsky's ideas, as we see with Aristotle (i.e. Karma/Reincarnation (Blavatsky), Cosmic Evolution (Blavatsky), etc.).
What is the preference between these two options? Or are there other options we should explore?

Also, I have recruited two (possibly three or four) experts on Theosophy who are interested in helping out with the section on Theosophy. I've sent an email to them asking for each to give what they think to be an appropriate outline of the Theosophy section (i.e. what are the subsections needed, etc., including which subarticles to include, in which order, etc.). From there, we can attempt to come up with one outline, and from there we can begin writing/editing the various sections. I think we'll be able to sort out the overall use/need of subarticles as we go along. Thoughts? JFergus (talk) 19:52, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

I admit I arrived at these comments after depleting myself on the comments above, so I read these quickly but they seem to make sense. I agree with the sentiment that some of this article is (unnecessarily) bloated biography.
The article is about Blavatsky and a wikipedia article on that should answer all the main questions that people are looking for about Blavatsky...in brief. Those who want more can turn to book or other references. The key then to writing a good article is to anticipate what a variety of partially informed people would hear about Ms. Blavatsky and to respond--as best one can in limited space--to that list. An Encyclopedia article cannot cater to experts or settle lengthy disputes. For example, it seems to me that much of the talk above about her influence on Hitler (or lack of it) can and should be resolved by the simple expediency of "Mme Blavatsky is thought in some circles to have influenced Hitler and the Nazis. Whether she had a direct influence is still being debated." (or suchlike).
The grammar is in need of immediate help. --174.7.29.185 (talk) 00:04, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Lemurian subcontinent Madasgar? Was Darwin Right?[edit]

I noticed Madagascar shifted a couple of times in the southern ocean, so its a perfect example of isolated nature. It has at least 5 water marks on the Antarctic floor from its origin in the Indian Lemuria. It broke off from Lemuria when it was a part of the Pacific Ocean dwipa, then settled in the Atlantic. It helped form the southern tip of Africa. Then it went to its position it is now in. This continent seems to have moved quit a bit. A valid cause for the human species or third race maybe? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Asfd777 (talkcontribs) 18:08, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Criticism[edit]

Blavatsky's racism[edit]

In the controversies section it claims that "throughout much of Blavatsky's public life", that her critics claimed she was a "racist". This is highly unlikely, Leon Trotsky did not invent the term "racists" until 1930 (Blavatsky died in 1891). Trotsky's term wouldn't even be popularized until after 1945. Can we get a contemporary source, including anybody calling her a "racist" during her life? - 90.212.77.187 (talk) 18:33, 26 August 2010 (UTC) Comment was recovered from revert in this 2010 edit and relocated into this section. --BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Why is it claimed in the article that the criticism against Blavatsky is not documented? It is in her own writings. (The Secret Doctrine 2. pp. 402–422. ) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.162.133.112 (talk) 12:16, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
In the above link, it is not clear to me which quote demonstrates Blavatsky's racist statements. Could you please highlight the exact sentence or series of phrases that lead us to this conclusion? Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.3.206.204 12 January 2014
I have posted a reply in a similar thread on this talk page here. --BoBoMisiu (talk) 21:06, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Alleged racism and "frauds"[edit]

For discussion with Ruvenru

I want to know more about these accusations of fraud and racism that you feel are not already covered in this article. Please provide sources for both allegations. — Preceding unsigned comment added by XercesBlue1991 (talkcontribs) 02:31, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Im afraid it was not too fair of you to remove footnoted editing just because you feel you want to know more about the allegations. Wouldn't it be better if you discuss the footnotes? Remember that initially you removed the footnote about the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) only saying that Randi's claims are "poorly researched". Which by the way, is false.
Removing early in the entry the early exposure of her frauds and unsupported claims, would mislead the readers into thinking that her claims were true, which remains to be proven.
Besides, her plagiarism was already documented by Coleman in 1893. Just because Blavatsky or her supporters attempted to contest it, doesn't imply that her claims were true. A balanced entry for Blavatsky should alert of such exposure, still valid, early enough to prevent misleading the reader.
Besides, the statement "most of the accusations remain undocumented" is not properly footnoted, unless we consider valid citing assertions made by Blavatsky herself or by supporters of hers like Vernon Harrison. Much more invalid is footnoting the Hodgson report of 1884, which much on the contrary is one of the early documents about the fraudulent nature of her claims, like it was the article by Rev. George Patterson in 1884.
Please, keep in mind that the editing I made is not only about her frauds and plagiarism, but about the position within the entry where such information should be in order for readers to have a non-partisan knowledge of Blavatsky.
To summarize, the citations I made come from respected authors backed by respected institutions such as Oxford University Press. Removing references to those, and the location of such references early in the entry, would be intentionally misleading. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 05:04, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
Actually, Randi's work is terribly researched. If you would like, I can go through his article bit by bit. There are a number of glaring and slanderous errors in his entry for Blavatsky. Besides, he has NO sources listed. Randi should stick with stage "magic". He is pretty laughable as a scholar.
Plagiarism has not been documented by Coleman. How much do you know about him? Are you aware that he never published the book that would supposedly expose Blavatsky? He made an outline of what his book would contain after her death (which is a very convenient time by the way if you aren't looking to be challenged). If you, however, have unpublished work by Coleman that needs to be heard, then by all means do so. There have been modern scholars who have taken up the task of finding Coleman's references. No one has found the "famous" thousands of examples.
The article is perfectly fine as is. It reads like an encyclopedic entry. — Preceding unsigned comment added by XercesBlue1991 (talkcontribs) 17:22, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
XercesBlue1991, your views about JREF, once again remain inconclusive: your opinion about the quality of their body of research does not suffice to disqualify it as a valid reference. That is simply elementary.
You left uncontested other points of my previous reasoning. The statement "most of the accusations remain undocumented" was wrongly footnoted, misleading the readers on what the source actually said (how revealing that your attentive eye didn't notice such "mistake"), and also taking for granted that what Blavatsky's and her followers said over the years, was enough reference to consider the accusations unproven.
If you are unaware the original sources plagiarized of Blavatsky, I do not mind referring you once again to some of those mentioned in the Oxford University Press book. Remember: that is one of the footnotes you attempted to erase. It was only after my insistence that it was placed in the "criticism" section.
Please be reminded that your personal opinions on Blavatsky's works are respected. But think about your neutrality to edit this entry. Not even a simple rewording, from the biased "Critics" to the more neutral and factual "Some authors", is acceptable for you.
Regardless of your personal opinions and views, proper referencing about the important questioning that other authors had and have about Blavatsky, should appear early in the entry as it happens in several other wikipedia pages (L. Ron Hubbard entry, to mention only one). It is just a matter of honesty and neutrality.
Finally, is not Blavatsky's works that are being questioned by me, is the overall neutrality and quality of this wikipedia entry. A simple look at this whole talk page shows how often the neutrality of this entry has been questioned for lack of neutrality and objectiveness. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 01:55, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
My views are not inconclusive, because I am focusing only on one claim : Randi provides no sources. Why is that considered solid research? Marion Meade provided better evidence for her claims and that is saying something.
Undocumented simply means there is no written work proving the claims. This is certainly true regarding the vast majority of claims (which go far beyond fraud, racist, and plagiarist). I am well aware of the accusations of plagiarism and your Oxford source proves nothing conclusively - it, like Coleman's article, makes sweeping claims of entire works that she plagiarized. Do you have any sources that actually cite passages from Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine and compare them with the original "source"? The readers would be more interested in that. Anyone can made broad claims.
What is wrong with the word "critics"?
This is a matter of neutrality. Criticism of Blavatsky is quite heavy in the Criticism section and your edits reek of bias. Your contributions are welcome, but the sources you have provided suggest nothing more than the "research" of various individuals as little qualified as they may be. They should remain in the criticism section as they reference individual views, not those of the academic community at large. XercesBlue1991 2013-08-03T23:40:52
Because controversy involving Blavatsky deals in a subject that is, one, not a central aspect of her life, and two, a subject of academic dispute, to insist that is intro-worthy fact is to propagate bias. XercesBlue1991 2013-08-04T00:02:24
What is central or not of Blavatsky's life is subject of interpretation. Erasing from early in the entry the controversy she raised is misleading and obscures it. The sentence you are attempting to remove from the intro precisely states the dispute: "Despite the fact that many authors have considered her to be a fraud and a plagiarist..."
The sources provided represent the views of scholars of accredited institutions, as little as you seem to like them. Your statement of "as little qualified as they may be" is, again, an expression of opinion. Significantly, only careful monitoring of the editing of the entry prevented you erasing those on the whole.
What you call "the academic community at large" can never be represented by one or two footnotes, neither in support nor against any topic.
Finally, several other entries in wikipedia include fair references to the views and concerns the subject raised in scholars and authors. They have to appear early enough for the reader to realize about it, and this is the whole point of my editing. You are just removing the sentence based on your views of Blavatsky, instead of focusing on the neutrality of the entry.
To resolve the talk, kindly offer a sentence for the intro that, like elsewhere in wikipedia, would alert how contested her works have been. The sample of Ron L. Hubbard is a good one. It is a matter of fairness. Consider reading the existing one in the light of this talk.
Indeed, I agree "anyone can made broad claims". In fact you did. I'm glad you finally narrowed your criticism of JREF from the initial generic criticism, to a specific entry.
The word "Critics" labels all authors, even those who were not critics of her but they simply recognized their plagiarism or frauds. That is why choosing the words "critics" misrepresents their intention. It would be as loaded as stating that defenders of Blavatsky were "apologetics" or simply "defenders", instead of "other authors". It really is as simple as that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 04:47, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't see why there needs to be a change in the intro. In fact, I think that Hubbard, as detestable as he was, deserves no such abuse in his intro. A Criticism section can and should such handle accusations unless fraud was the only thing that individual was known for. Why not compare Blavatsky's article with the pages of other spiritual leaders. Both Moses and Mohammed, for instance, are surrounded by much controversy over their character and actions. Neither of them contain such unabashed criticism in the intro to their respective articles.
I see your point with author vs. critic, but I think any person who makes accusations of plagiarism and fraud is by nature a critic (which of the people linked would you not describe as critics of Blavatsky?). If you are insistent on the change, might I suggest "some authors".
I don't have a problem with you adding any criticism you wish to the page (at least ones that are sourced), just confine it to the criticism section. I really don't see the need to include it in the intro. Readers are perfectly capable of scrolling down to the criticism section.
I wouldn't call a book published by Oxford university representative of the University itself, but a professor. A professor's work is more commendable though than a blog, and it deserves a place in Criticism section. XercesBlue1991 (talk) 05:08, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Ah ok! Now the problem is not just sourcing a blog that summarizes other authors, but is the sentence itself...

It is simply untrue to refer as "such unabashed criticism" the simple yet accurate sentence "Despite the fact that many authors have considered her to be a fraud and a plagiarist..." It truly shows you are very partial in this topic.

Besides Ron L. Hubbard, also the entry for Moses includes a reference that even his existence is under dispute, besides mentioning other inconsistencies of the Exodus. Far from supporting your claim, it works against it.

I'm beginning to realize that there is a matter of intellectual balance here. Your attempt to justify that the entry of Blavatsky in particular should be exempted of such neutral presentation, is still invalid. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 05:33, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

I wasn't referring to the existence of such characters, but their actions. What if either Moses or Mohammed's entry read "Despite the fact that many people consider x to be a murderer, x still has many followers today. See Criticism for more information",
I am not "partial" (what ever that means) to the topic, I just oppose such accusations having a place of prominence. The page is quite neutral and needs no further editing. XercesBlue1991 (talk) 05:39, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Hubbard's and Mose's actions are also questioned in the fact that the validity of the exodus is questioned. Nobody removes those statements just because they side with the scholars that support the validity of the exodus.
I understand you do not support to the criticism Blavatsky received, but such criticism appeared prominently in her lifetime and afterwards, and they deserve a mentioning in the intro.
I'm afraid you are wrong again by saying "The page is quite neutral". There is a whole lineage of questioning in this same talk page, to disprove such claim.
Instead of disregarding the debate, please kindly provide a sentence for the intro that would match similar existing entries in wikipedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 05:51, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Neither Moses nor Mohammed are treated with the same bias as you would give to Blavatsky.
Again, you continue to make unfounded accusations. I have no problem with you presenting criticism towards Blavatsky, just put it in the appropriate section (which I have already taken the liberty of doing for you). If any criticism is to be mentioned, perhaps it should be more akin to the way it is presented on Edgar Cayce's page (the last sentence of the intro of this version). XercesBlue1991 (talk) 06:01, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Finally! A point of agreement! I would find a sentence similar to this: "Skeptics challenge Cayce's alleged psychic abilities and traditional Christians also question his unorthodox answers on religious matters such as reincarnation and Akashic records. However, others accept his abilities as 'God-given'."
I find it acceptable to wikipedia standards. Again, it is not criticism per se, but just referring that there were issues raised in her lifetime and afterwards. Would you mind proposing the actual wording? The one that I propose and you want to erase is the best I can come up with.
On the side: Moses is not treated with bias, nor I would treat with bias Blavatsky just by saying in the intro that she was seen as a fraud and a plagiarist by contemporaries. It was not me who was trying to defend her by erasing valid footnotes, remember at first?
As for unfounded accusations, of which so far I have made none, I suggest we let the casual readers see our previous talk, and the page itself. It will be self-explanatory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 06:15, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Here is a suggestion: "During her lifetime and up to now, the authenticity of her writings and the validity of her claims, were questioned by different authors." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 06:15, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
I think that is a good model. Perhaps I can edit the wording to reflect the existence of critics and supporters. I will think on it tonight. Is there a particular source you want to mention concerning criticism? I would like to source Zen scholar D. T. Suzuki for a positive mention. XercesBlue1991 (talk) 06:32, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the offer. I would like to refer to both books, the Oxford University and the Berkeley University (footnotes numbered 89 and 90)
A good way to present both views could be doing it in two consecutive sentences, somehow like the Cayce sentences. Just a suggestion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 06:36, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I am about to add the sources, but tell me what you think of the most recent change? -- XercesBlue1991 (talk) 06:45, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

I like it, I find it a true statement. Please, instead of the too generic "some", kindly consider writing "Some authors", or "Different authors", or "Some scholars"... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 07:06, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Done. I must say, I am rather pleased that we reached a compromise. -- XercesBlue1991 (talk) 07:15, 4 August 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, we constructed concordy. May serve as a sample to others. -- — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruvenru (talkcontribs) 08:13, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

Racial theories[edit]

I'm from German Wikipedia and I do not have time to read all of this ^^ but the following is very important and must be included in the article, section "racial theories". Please note the following:

"Let me take a concrete case," she said. [...] "Take the English," she repeated. "How cruel they are! How badly they treat my poor Hindoos!" [...] "but it is always three for themselves and one for the natives. But what is the use of material benefits, if you are [...] made to feel all the time that you are an inferior race,— a lower order of mortals,— pigs, the English call them, and sincerely believe it. Well, just the reverse of that would be universal brotherhood. Do them less good materially,— not that they do so very much, besides collecting the taxes regularly; and respect their feelings a little more. The English believe that the 'inferior races' exist only to serve the ends of the English; but we believe that they exist for themselves, and have a perfect right to be happy in their own way. No amount of material benefit can compensate for hurting their souls and crushing out their ideals. Besides there is another side of all that, which we as Theosophists always point out. There are really no 'inferior races', for all are one in our common humanity; and as we [in the sense of monads] have all had incarnations in each of these races we ought to be more brotherly to them. They are our wards, entrusted to us; and what do we do? We invade their lands, and shoot them down in sight of their own homes; we outrage their women, and rob their goods, and then with smooth faced hypocrisy we turn round and say we are doing it for their good."[1](pp25–26) (Mr flapdoodle's quote from German language source was replaced with English language quote with Mr flapdoodle's comment and correct citation by --BoBoMisiu (talk) 01:25, 11 June 2014 (UTC))

Mr flapdoodle reiterated that Blavatsky said: "There are really no 'inferior races', for all are one in our common humanity;"[1](p26) (Mr flapdoodle's translation from German language source was replaced with English language quote and correct citation by --BoBoMisiu (talk) 01:25, 11 June 2014 (UTC))

Further:

[...] The Africans have never left their continent for several hundred thousands of years. If to-morrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to re-emerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about a hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations. And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some one island, without any means of crossing the new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery. Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy. (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 425. ) (Mr flapdoodle's quote from German language edition was replaced with English language quote and correct citation by --BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC))

Mr flapdoodle reiterated that Blavatsky wrote: "Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy." (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 425. ) (Mr flapdoodle's translation from German language edition was replaced with English language quote and correct citation by --BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC))

If someone could incorporated this in the article, it would be very helpful for a more neutral presentation. Thanks.

References

  1. ^ a b Johnston, Charles (Apr., 1900). "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky". The Theosophical Forum (New York: Theosophical Society in America) 5 (12). LCCN 95650414.  Check date values in: |date= (help) And The Theosophical Forum 6 (1–3): 2–5, 22–26, 44–48. May–Jul., 1900.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help) Compiled and reprinted in De Zirkoff, Boris; Eklund, Dara, eds. (1990) [1960]. Collected writings 8 (3rd reprint of 1st ed.). Wheaton, Il: Theosophical Publishing House. pp. 392–409. ISBN 0835602249.  Transcribed in "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky". katinkahesselink.net. H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings Online. Leiden: Katinka Hesselink. Archived from the original on 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 

--Mr flapdoodle (talk) 10:28, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Cranston's book, HPB, is a notorious piece of special pleading. Blavatsky is absolutely clear that some races are inferior to others. It's just that she explains that in mystical terms. The inferior races were "the latest Monads which had hardly evolved from their last transitional and lower animal forms...this explains the otherwise unaccountable differences of intellectuality between the races of men - the savage Bushman and the European - .... Those tribes of savages whose reasoning powers are very little above the level of animals...are simply the latest arrivals among the human Monads". She goes on to say that the "lowest specimins of humanity...the savage South Sea Islander, the African, the Australian" lack intelligence because they "had no karma to work out when first born", but are now "spinning karma". In other words, her racial hierarchy is the same as the most extreme racist of the era, but she believes that the 'lower' races are not stuck in their condition, but will evolve spiritually over time through some sort of karmic inheritance. It's different from the standard racial-hierarchy view that such races are innately inferior biologically, but the view that they have to as it were, continue to evolve in future to "catch up" is fundamentally no different from the biological-determinist model, even though it's expressed in terms of "karma". Paul B (talk) 20:18, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
By the way, I suggest that you read Stanza IX of The Secret Doctrine here. It begins with a charming account of how Tasmanians are descended from "monsters" and so real humans could not interbreed with such "a semi-human, if not quite animal, race". Paul B (talk) 20:33, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. Cranston's book, HPB, cited at this point only another publication and it has been researched well for over 10 years. Can you justify your opinion about the book? And please note the second one is from The Secret Doctrine and it is also very clear.
By the way, we all are descended from these monsters, because the Lemurians were described as monsters. And according to modern science, we are all soulless human monkeys.
I know The Secret Doctrine very well. And as far as I can see the article on this point is relatively neutral but there are no more than these 2 or 3 evident statements in over 2000 sheets of paper and this ones are also related to racial theory of the science of the 19. century. There are such and such statements and both or none should be present for a neutral point of view and the citations mentioned an important new aspect from acceptable source --Mr flapdoodle (talk) 15:01, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Modern science does not say we are "soulless human monkeys", or anything like that. I have read your last paragraph several times and I still don't follow it. It's no secret that Cranston's book, HPB, is, as one reviewer put it, "nearly hagiographic" Paul B (talk) 18:06, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
One reviewer? Did you read it? The first quote is original from "Charles Johnston in "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky", The Theosophical Forum, New York", and the second one from The Secret Doctrine. Where is the problem?
"Humans (variously homo sapiens and homo sapiens sapiens) are primates of the family hominidae "
"When modern scientists speak of the soul outside of this cultural context, they generally treat soul as a poetic synonym for mind" —Soul#Science
So it is, as I said, according to modern science, we are all soulless human monkeys or primates with a mind in the sense of brain and nervous system, welcome to "reality". And what is the reason for not adding this important fact to objectify the article? Because it is friendly to Blavatsky? Did I understand your reserving correctly? --Mr flapdoodle (talk) 18:51, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
And PS, btw: Cranston's HPB is cited as a source in Goodrick-Clarke. Helena Blavatsky. , Goodrick-Clarke. The Western Esoteric Traditions. , Johnson. The Masters Revealed. , also in "Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (1831–91)". Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers 1. Continuum. 2005.  and "Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (1831–91)". Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Routledge. 2008.  and so on ... --Mr flapdoodle (talk) 15:42, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
User:Paul Barlow, how we do proceed from here? Thanks for helping. --Mr flapdoodle (talk) 15:42, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Is there no one who wants to help me with this facts? Or it is not permitted to insert it? Thanks --Mr flapdoodle (talk) 07:15, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Another important fact, George Mosse (established racism expert) in Mosse, George L. (2006) [1990]. Die Geschichte des Rassismus in Europa. Die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus; Fischer-Taschenbucher (in German). 16770. Elfriede Burau, trans., Hans-Günter Holl, trans. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch. ISBN 3596167701. (p119) Translation of Mosse, George L. (1978). Toward the final solution: a history of European racism. New York: Howard Fertig. LCCN 77024356.  wrote that "Theosophy itself was not racist" and it refers explicitly to the doctrine of Blavatsky! This should also be in the article or not? Mr flapdoodle 85.181.81.236 19:42, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I'll add the following two sentences to the end of the paragraph "Racial theories" when no one wish to oppose:

In Sylvia Cranston's biography, Blavatsky is quoted as saying that in reality there is no inferior or low-grade races because all of it are one common humankind.[1] A view which is also evident in the Secret Doctrine.[2]

[1] HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky by Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams, Edition Adyar, 1995, p. 400
[2] The Secret Doctrin, H.P. Blavatsky, Volume II, Strophe IX, "In this manner the reason for division of humankind into higher and lower races is obsolete and a erroneous belief.

--Teutobald (talk) 09:17, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Specific to content added in this edit of the article by Teutobald, the quote, or for that matter anything similar to, "In this manner the reason for division of humankind into higher and lower races is obsolete and a erroneous belief", is not found in that stanza, see here, here, and here.
Specific to thread added in this edit of this talk page by Mr flapdoodle, the quote "Auf diese Art wird der für die Einteilung der Menschheit in höhere und niedere Rassen gegebene Grund hinfällig und wird zum Trugschluß." is not found in a Google Book search. Who is actually being quoted? The quote, attributed to Charles Johnson, is not found in the cited work,[1] should the quote be attributed to Cranston's English language book and not the German language translation?[2] What is the verifiable quote from The Secret Doctrine? What is the commentary about such a quote from The Secret Doctrine?
Specific to thread added in this edit of this talk page by 85.181.81.236 attributed to Mr flapdoodle, what is the quote by George Mosse? Please give a citation which includes the title of the work and a full name of the author. having a last name, year and a page is not enough information to identify what is being talked about. Your assertion "wrote that 'Theosophy itself was not racist' " is contradicted by Mosse in his article in Journal of the History of Ideas.[3]

References

  1. ^ Johnston, Charles (Apr., 1900). "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky". The Theosophical Forum (New York: Theosophical Society in America) 5 (12). LCCN 95650414.  Check date values in: |date= (help) And The Theosophical Forum 6 (1–3): 2–5, 22–26, 44–48. May–Jul., 1900.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help) Compiled and reprinted in De Zirkoff, Boris; Eklund, Dara, eds. (1990) [1960]. Collected writings 8 (3rd reprint of 1st ed.). Wheaton, Il: Theosophical Publishing House. pp. 392–409. ISBN 0835602249.  Transcribed in "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky". katinkahesselink.net. H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings Online. Leiden: Katinka Hesselink. Archived from the original on 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  2. ^ Cranston, Sylvia L. (2001) [1995]. HPB : Leben und Werk der Helena Blavatsky, Begründerin der Modernen Theosophie (in German). Hank Trömel trans., Erika Krammer trans., Gertrud Menczel trans. (2nd ed.). Grafing: Edition Adyar. p. 400. ISBN 3927837539.  Translation of Cranston, Sylvia L. HPB: the extraordinary life and influence of Helena Blavatsky, founder of the modern Theosophical movement. 
  3. ^ Mosse, George L. (Jan.-Mar., 1961). "The mystical origins of National Socialism". Journal of the history of ideas (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press) 23 (1): 81–96. ISSN 0022-5037. JSTOR 2707875.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

--BoBoMisiu (talk) 22:27, 22 May 2014 (UTC), modified by BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC) and 01:25, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

In response to a contributor asked about Blavatsky's racism in another thread on this talk page, I see that she wrote:

Mankind is obviously divided into god-informed men and lower human creatures. The intellectual difference between the Aryan and other civilized nations and such savages as the South Sea Islanders, is inexplicable on any other grounds. No amount of culture, nor generations of training amid civilization, could raise such human specimens as the Bushmen, the Veddhas of Ceylon, and some African tribes, to the same intellectual level as the Aryans, the Semites, and the Turanians so called. The "sacred spark" is missing in them and it is they who are the only inferior races on the globe, now happily — owing to the wise adjustment of nature which ever works in that direction — fast dying out. Verily mankind is "of one blood", but not of the same essence. We are the hot-house, artificially quickened plants in nature, having in us a spark, which in them is latent. (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 421. )

She also held other erroneous pseudoscientific beliefs. For example, Blavatsky wrote that, "Homunculi of Paracelsus are a fact in Alchemy, and will become one in Chemistry very likely" since alchemists have done more than chemists. (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 349. ) She also held that,

Human crossing may have been a general rule from the time of the separation of sexes, and yet that other law may assert itself, viz., sterility between two human races, just as between two animal species of various kinds, in those rare cases when a European, condescending to see in a female of a savage tribe a mate, happens to chose a member of such mixed tribes. [...] For the Occultist it is a very evident one. 'Crossing' [...] Europeans with Tasmanian women — i.e., the representatives of a race, whose progenitors were a 'soulless' and mindless monster and a real human, though still as mindless a man — brought on sterility. This, not alone as a consequence of a physiological law, but also as a decree of Karmic evolution in the question of further survival of the abnormal race. In no one point of the above is Science prepared to believe as yet — but it will have to in the long run. Esoteric philosophy, let us remember, only fills the gaps made by science and corrects her false premises. (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 196. )

She explained that,

Of such semi-animal creatures, the sole remnants known to Ethnology were the Tasmanians, a portion of the Australians and a mountain tribe in China, the men and women of which are entirely covered with hair. They were the last descendants in a direct line of the semi-animal latter-day Lemurians [...] There are, however, considerable numbers of the mixed Lemuro-Atlantean peoples produced by various crossings with such semi-human stocks — e.g., the wild men of Borneo, the Veddhas of Ceylon, [...] most of the remaining Australians, Bushmen, Negritos, Andaman Islanders, etc. [...] The Australians [...] are, however, degraded men — not the closest approximation to the 'pithecoid man', as Haeckel so sweepingly affirms. Only a portion of these men are a Lemurian relic. (The Secret Doctrine 2. pp. 195–196. )

In calling the animal 'Soulless', it is not depriving the beast, from the humblest to the highest species, of a 'soul', but only of a conscious surviving Ego-soul, i.e., that principle which survives after a man, and reincarnates in a like man. The animal has an astral body, that survives the physical form for a short period; but its (animal) Monad does not re-incarnate in the same, but in a higher species, and has no 'Devachan' of course. It has the seeds of all the human principles in itself, but they are latent. (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 196. )

It is the inner man, the spirituality, the illumination of the physical brain by the light of the spiritual or divine intelligence that is the test. The Australian, the Esquimaux, the Bushmen, the Veddahs, etc., are all side-shooting branchlets of that Branch which you call "cave-men" — the third race [...] They are the remnants of the seventh ring cave-men, remnants "that have ceased to grow and are the arrested forms of life doomed to eventual decay in the struggle of existence" (The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. p. 120. )

She explicitly states that some people do not have the same kind of soul as other people do. She calls some people "semi-animal creatures" and calls other people "semi-human stock" and calls Australians "degraded men". Above all, she states that "the question of further survival of the abnormal race" is judged by Karma and the inferior races will be extinguished. --BoBoMisiu (talk) 21:07, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
Blavatsky made clear that "some of the lower tribes, such as some tribes of the Australian savages" did not descend "from the anthropoid apes, but from human fathers and semi-human mothers, or, to speak more correctly, from human monsters" while "real anthropoids", simians which Blavatsky identified as Ernst Haeckel's catarrhini and platyrrhini, "came far later, in the closing times of Atlantis." Those simians, i.e. Haeckel's catarrhini and platyrrhini, "have a spark of the purely human essence in them; man on the other hand, has not one drop of pithecoid blood in his veins." (The Secret Doctrine 2. pp. 192–193. ) She believed that her "occult doctrine" was "more logical" and "the reason", she stated, "why the Occultists reject the Darwinian, and especially the Haeckelian, hypothesis is because it is the ape which is, in sober truth, a special and unique instance, not man. The pithecoid is an accidental creation, a forced growth, the result of an unnatural process." (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 261. ) She quoted from Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism that, "Man belongs to a kingdom distinctly separate from that of the animals". This she understood as "a plain and unequivocal statement" and was surprised that Esoteric Buddhism "was so little understood by some Theosophists, as to have led them into the belief that it thoroughly supported Darwinian evolution, and especially the theory of the descent of man from a pithecoid ancestor." She clarified that evolution in Esoteric Buddhism is "evolution as taught by Manu and Kapila" and "neither Occultism nor Theosophy has ever supported the wild theories of the present Darwinists — least of all the descent of man from an ape." (The Secret Doctrine 1. p. 186. ) She wrote that "physical evolution" is an "exact science" which "prudently avoid[s] and ignor[es] the higher or spiritual evolution, which would force [... scientists] to confess the superiority of the ancient philosophers and psychologists over themselves." For her, evolution began with a demiurge "from pure spirit" and is "in all matter an impulse to take on a higher form." (Isis Unveiled 1. xxxi–xxxii. ) But man, for her, "is, in his outward form, simply an animal, hardly more perfect than his pithecoid-like ancestor of the third round. He is a living body, not a living being," because "an animal can only have direct consciousness, or instinct", but not "self-consciousness." (The Secret Doctrine 1. p. 234. ) --BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:58, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
In my opinion, Mr flapdoodle's emphasis of the sentence "Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy." misrepresents what Blavatsky wrote. The surrounding pages change much of the meaning.
Blavatsky wrote that a purported manuscript was "extracted, and then rendered into a more comprehensible language, [...] from the archaic records," She posited that events which are historically unverifiable, i.e. "which were never written outside the human memory, [...] may have been preserved by constant transmission [...] with more truth and accuracy than inside any written document or record." While "the bulk of collective recollections" remain with a soul, they are not "perceived by our physical senses." She contended that a soul "tells those who believe in tradition more than in written History, that what is said below is all true, and relates to pre-historic facts." (The Secret Doctrine 2. pp. 423–424. )
In her purported manuscript's extraction from the "archaic record", people, described as " 'they of the Deva hue', the moon-like complexion, and 'they of the refulgent (golden) face' " migrated from their previous location "to the lands lying North and East". (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 425. )
She wrote that the Chinese, Mongols, Turanians, and other ancient nations descended from the people " 'of the yellow hue' " who "fled to [...] Central Asia." There "new races [...] lived and died until the separation of the nations," which occurred about "two-thirds of one million years" ago – although neither in the places described "by modern science, nor in the way" described by Aryanists, such as Max Müller, according to Blavatsky.
Her purported manuscript's extraction from the "archaic record" asserts that, "yellow-faced giants", all "with the same racial blood", in "forced confinement to one part of the world," did "branch off during a period of nearly 700,000 years into the most heterogeneous and diversified types" "without any fresh infusion or admixture". She compared her purported manuscript's extraction from the "archaic record" about "yellow-faced giants" to Africans. "The same is shown in Africa; nowhere does a more extraordinary variability of types exist, from black to almost white, from gigantic men to dwarfish races; and this only because of their forced isolation. The Africans have never left their continent for several hundred thousands of years. If to-morrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to re-emerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about a hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations. And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some one island, without any means of crossing the new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery. Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy." (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 425. )
She began next paragraph: "Such are the [...] facts [...] in the archaic records. [...] and comparing them with some [...] theories of Evolution, minus natural selection,[1] these statements appear quite reasonable and logical.[2] Thus [...] Aryans are the descendants of the yellow Adams," whereas "Semites — and the Jews along with them — are those of the red Adam; [...]" (The Secret Doctrine 2. p. 426. ) The term "red Adam" is found only once in the second volume of The Secret Doctrine – only in this previous sentence – While Blavatsky's further explanation of the term "red Adam" is found in the first volume, "Ethnology, [...] finds it already impossible to account for the varieties in the human race, unless the hypothesis of the creation of several Adams be accepted. They speak of 'a white Adam and a black Adam, a red Adam and a yellow Adam'."[3] (The Secret Doctrine 1. pp. 323–324. )

References

  1. ^ Blavatsky cited and wrote to see Romanes, George J. (1886-07-23). "Physiological selection : an additional suggestion on the Origin of Species". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society (London: The Linnean Society of London) 19 (115): 337–411. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1886.tb01869.x. ISSN 1096-3642.  It is unclear why she included this as she did not relate anything specific in the reference to see.
  2. ^ Blavatsky cited and wrote to see "Science and the Secret Doctrine contrasted". The Secret Doctrine 1. pp. 477–481. 
  3. ^ Blavatsky cited and quoted from [anonymous] (1871). Primeval man unveiled: or, The anthropology of the Bible. London: Hamilton, Adams. p. 195. OCLC 656739559. There are [...] ethnologists who assert that the existing varieties of the human race can only be accounted for by the creation of several Adams — a white Adam and a black Adam, a red Adam and a yellow Adam, as the case may be; each deriving his existence from his Maker independently of the others. 
--BoBoMisiu (talk) 01:25, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

Copyright violation[edit]

I believe that unattributed content with unreferenced citation numbers was added in this 2011 edit by Deodarvostok; and, I see that those unreferenced citation numbers were removed in this 2011 edit. --BoBoMisiu (talk) 02:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

galloping consumption is Tuberculosis[edit]

In the section "Childhood and youth", galloping consumption was not identified or linked. I have linked it to the page "Tuberculosis". Akld guy (talk) 02:02, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Awful presentation of a bio article[edit]

This article is a biography article on Blavatsky, not an article on the religion she founded. I have merged the text that belongs to "Theosophy" into Theosophy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.14.140.207 (talk) 19:20, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

I think that this is a valid concern, and I am endeavouring to rectify it and ensure that the biographical content of this article is expanded and brought up to an acceptable level of quality using appropriate biographical publications as a template. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:25, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
@Midnightblueowl: much better with your edits. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 23:14, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks @BoBoMisiu: I am hoping to achieve for this article that which I achieved for the Aleister Crowley article, i.e. reformat and expand it, using the appropriate biographical and scholarly literature, and then get it to GA status, and perhaps beyond. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:42, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Source distorted[edit]

McMahan does not state that Blavatsky revives Theravada Buddhism, yet he's given as a source for this information. In fact, McMahan states that Blavatsky and Olcott were involved in the development of Buddhist modernism, which took pains to distinguish between what Olcott called "true Buddhism" from the living tradition and practice of Buddhism in the east. McMaha explains that Olcott considered the living Buddhism of the masses to be corrupted, whereas Blavatsky claimed to be in touch with the true ancient source of Buddhism via telepathic communication with beings called the 'mahatmas.'

Olcott's 'Buddhist Catechism', according to McMahan, was used by Anagarika Dharmapala in a revival of Ceylonese Buddhism, but Dharmapala and Olcott split over Olcott's insistence on a universal religion over Buddhism. It's apparent that the revival of Ceylonese Buddhism was done by Dharmapala. I'm removing McMahan from the list of sources for this claim. Longchenpa (talk) 09:46, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

P.S. I strongly suspect that the other two sources of this claim are misrepresented as well. Longchenpa (talk) 09:52, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

First paragraph[edit]

The present version[4] of the first paragraph would be better expressed to read:

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky....was a Russian by birth who, after travelling widely, and while for a time in the United States (1873-1878), was a founder member of a society taking the name "Theosophical Society", which gained an international following. She later wrote that she was a proponent of this Theosophy "not as a religion but as religion itself".[1]

Qexigator (talk) 19:42, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

We can certainly quote Blavatsky, but the lead shouln't include a quote from a primary source (Blavatsky). The quote "not as a religion but as religion itself" also needs to be more fully explained, otherwise it will not be clear to the reader what Blavatsky meant in the article. The article is also a relatively obscure one from Blavatsky, better to quote something better known from her like the Key to Theosophy. --Trinity9538 (talk) 21:11, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Also, what exactly is wrong in calling her an occultist?--Trinity9538 (talk) 21:23, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for responding. I see no reason for leaving out the quotation marks, but it could be expressed in indirect speech. Either would be an apt, succinct and encyclopedic way to inform the reader what she claimed she was propounding. That would be entirely npov, not affirming or endorsing its validity. It is for that Theosophy that she became chiefly notable, and to a lesser extent but closely connected, for her involvement in the spiritualist movement and her activity as a spirit medium; so that, if something were to be added to this first sentence, it would be more exact, and in accord with the article, to allude to this than to occultism, which is mentioned here and there in the article in an imprecise way and with hardly any supporting source. Qexigator (talk) 22:46, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Lucifer is not obscure; it just was not successful; and in the 21st century, is accessible to everyone on internet. The definition of theosophy was a source of controversy. Nothing wrong about including it. She, of coarse, did write that and in more than one work. It is just one example of language that was sculpted over time. Another example is the formula of the three objectives – earlier versions included "the psychical powers latent in man" and "the psychic powers latent in man" instead of "the powers latent in man" when that was more marketable. Moreover, about "not a religion", sometime both positions were claimed at the same time, like Derrida's différance. The extraterrestrials from Venus in her writings are also downplayed. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 23:12, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Version 2[edit]

A revised version:

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky....was a Russian by birth who after travelling travelled widely and became involved with the spiritualist movement. While for a time in the United States (1873-1878), she became a founder member of a society taking the name "Theosophical Society", which gained an international following. It was her contention She later wrote that the Theosophy she propounded was not a religion but religion itself.[2]

Qexigator (talk) 23:24, 20 January 2015 (UTC) revised Qexigator (talk) 00:18, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Her writings are dogmatic within the sect, so I believe her statements should not be qualified as "her contention". It should just be stated that Blavatsky wrote that her theosophy was not a religion but religion itself. Her theosophy was also not knowledge about god or gods but god knowledge, according to her. She is claiming her theosophy is a type and not an instance of a type. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 23:48, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that. Revised above. Qexigator (talk) 00:18, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Tweaked revisal done. Qexigator (talk) 08:27, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Critique[edit]

Without wishing to cause any argument or upset, I have some strong concerns pertaining to the first paragraph of the lede as it currently stands. For me, it is just not as clean and concise as it should be. For instance, we refer to Blavatsky as "Russian by birth"; why not just as Russian ? Admittedly this is problematised both by the fact that Ekaterinoslav lies within modern-day Ukraine and that Blavatsky took U.S. citizenship, but nevertheless I think that the current wording simply confuses the reader. We then go on to state that she was involved in the Spiritualist movement, but this is already included in the second paragraph of the lede, and further it seems unbalanced to not only state her involvement in Spiritualism before than in Theosophy (when her impact and involvement in the latter was magnitudes larger) but also to include Spiritualism but then not mention Buddhism, a religious tradition which she was also involved with. From there we go on to mention the time she spent in the United States, but why do this when we then ignore her time in India, which was equally if not more significant in terms of her life story ? Worse still, we don't even mention that Blavatsky was an occultist, which is precisely what she was (I wouldn't go so far as to state that she was a philosopher, as previous versions of this article have stated).

I would suggest that we look to the Aleister Crowley article – which has achieved GA status and which is devoted to a comparably significant figure within Western esotericism – for a template on which to base our lede here. The first paragraph in the lede is the most important one in the article, and it is imperative that it is very clean, very concise, and explains exactly who the individual in question was and why they are significant, without any extraneous information that can be more appropriately conveyed later in the lede. Thus, I would offer the following as a proposed alternative: "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky […] was a Russian occultist and author. She promoted the religion and philosophy of Theosophy, which she interpreted as a revival of the ancient knowledge of humanity, and was a co-founder and key theoretician of the Theosophical Society in 1875." So what do people think ? Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:15, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree with all your comments. She, at least in later years, was strongly criticizing Spritiualism, so it would be wrong to simply say she was part of the spiritualist movement. --Trinity9538 (talk) 20:04, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Nationality was a problematic facet of the Russian Empire about the time she was born, there was a Russification of Ukraine which included an autocratic policy of official Nationality. Ethnicity was suppressed. She may have been a Russo-German. In my opinion, her spiritualist and occultist activities should not minimized – nor the fraud controversies about those activities. She wrote, in 1875, that her theosophy "is the same spiritualism, but under another name." She was not a philosopher. She may have nominally a Buddhist but I don't think she practiced any religion. She quoted that "Satan who is the God of our planet and the only God" and she believed that being, Lucifer, i.e. Sanat Kumara who is leader of the Great White Brotherhood, is misrepresented by Christianity – those were her beliefs. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 20:25, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
In my opinion, the lede does not minimize Blavatsky's Spiritualist activities or the accusations of fraud that she faced; they are already mentioned at the appropriate junctures in the second, third, and fourth paragraphs. The questions facing us right now are what to include (and what not to include) in that very first, opening paragraph. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:57, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
@BoBoMisiu: @Trinity9538: would either of you be willing to offer support for my proposed alteration to the first paragraph in the lede ? Or do you have recommendations for how my suggestion could be further improved ? Any clear ideas would be really useful for the progress of the article, at the moment. Best, Midnightblueowl (talk) 00:50, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
BoBoMisiu: If, as you say, her nationality is uncertain, would it be preferable to leave it out from the present version thus: "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, born Helena von Hahn 12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891), a Russian, travelled widely and... " ? Qexigator (talk) 00:49, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
It is standard practice to include nationality in the opening sentence of pretty much every biographical article here on Wikipedia, so I'd be very concerned about leaving it out altogether. We certainly have reliable sources testifying to the fact that Blavatsky was Russian (see for instance Encylopaedia Britannica, or written sources like Washington, 1993, p. 26). That being said, we could go for something like "Russian-born American", which perhaps offers a little more precision ? Midnightblueowl (talk) 00:56, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree with your proposal, MidnightBlue. The first paragraph only needs to state what you wrote in the proposal. --Trinity9538 (talk) 01:47, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
This discussion thread is out of chronological order. Participation is welcome by anyone wishing to comment. The box is simply for organization.

My comment is about her nationality and her ethnicity. See here for more. I am not questioning that she was born in the Russian Empire, became a naturalized American citizen, and then lived in the British Empire. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 02:16, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Out of chronological order discussion thread ends here.
Problems (not solutions!): "occultist" is not informative as a bare descriptor here; it is too often loosely applied to be meaningful, and is best avoided where possible. T/theosophy is not considered to be a religion, and It was not promoted as such by Blavatsky or TS. She was never known as "key theoretician" of TS or anything else. The proposed wording above is not npov summary of the known facts but more pov SYN. Do not overstretch the coulour writing. "philosophy of Theosophy", leaves a reader to work out whether that is tautology or oxymoron. Nationality: what the article states is that she became an American citizen late in life, but was born within the then Russian Empire to a German father. Certainly, she has frequently been referred to as "Russian", but where is the verification that she was of Russian nationality? Taking one consideration with another, the above proposal is not an improvement on the present version, but nationality "Russian" is better left out if not positively verified, or expressed as the place of her birth in the then Russian Empire, which has relevance to her father's postings and the places where she resided in the early years.Qexigator (talk) 01:54, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I would certainly disagree over the issue of "occultist". While the term is sometimes used very loosely in reference to almost anything and everything vaguely esoteric or paranormal, within the academic study of Western esotericism, it has a very specific meaning, one which described Blavatsky fairly aptly. Furthermore, she openly described herself as an occultist, so there shouldn't be a problem there. In other articles, such as Jack Parsons (rocket engineer) (FA quality), Aleister Crowley (GA quality), and Wilfred Talbot Smith (GA) we include the statement that they were occultists in the lede sentence; why should Blavatsky be any different ? Further, we are clear that Blavatsky was of Russian nationality; the question is whether she also had other nationalities (such as American or German) which we should reflect here. Regarding the question of "religion and philosophy", Blatatsky's Theosophy was a system of beliefs surrounding the origin of the universe, the nature of divinity, life after death; under most definitions accepted within religious studies that would count as a religion. Agreed, Blavatsky and the TS don't like calling it a religion, but this article does not exist to promote emic Theosophical perspectives as fact. (I will look into finding reliable sources that testify to the idea that Theosophy can be considered a religion). I think it essentially unequivocal that the proposed wording is an improvement on the cluttered, repetitive and unclear prose that we currently have in that first paragraph, and while I am not claiming that the proposed wording is perfect and beyond improvement and critique, I do think that it should be implemented here. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:24, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Further, we do actually have two referenced sources (both in the article) testifying to the fact that Blavatsky was the TS' key theoretician; it wasn't a title that she had within the group, but it does reflect her de facto status and role within the group and wider movement. Hope that clears things up a bit. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:19, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
No, the present version is not "cluttered", and serves well as an npov factual opening sentence, free from evaluative or emotive terms, and then duly elaborated in the text which follows in the lead, and further expanded in the main body (currently undergoing revisal and improvement), which adequately covers occultism. The article and the sources show that her comtemporaries, and later biographers and commentators to this day, have difficulty in pinning on her any particular badge or specific classification. The main point is that, whatever her actual convictions at any time (and who really knows?), given that she was a born story-teller and seems to have enjoyed adventure in more senses than one, her conduct and writings in some measure resulted from the necessity of obtaining a place to reside and the other necessities of life, like most other people, however talented in matters regarded in the popular imagination as "occult". Where has "Russian" nationality been verified? I think we all know that the article is not to promote Theosophical perspectives as fact, but factually it was not pretending to be or promote a religion, and it would be misleading to write the article as if it were. Religion is not simply about some sort of belief in life after death. Swedenborg's system, which he presented as god-given revelation, was not a religion, but "The New Church (or Swedenborgianism) is the name for several historically related Christian denominations that developed as a new religious movement, informed by the writings of Swedish scientist and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg." I do not see "key theoretician" anywhere in the article, and it is encyclopedically unsuited to the lead. Qexigator (talk) 13:05, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Both Lachman and Santucci describe Blavatsky as the key theoretician of the TS and the Theosophical movement; we state as much in the very first paragraph of the section on "Blavatsky's beliefs", so it is there even if you could not find it. I have no idea why you would think this vitally important piece of information to be "encyclopedically unsuited to the lead", indeed I think it the exact opposite. It was Blavatsky's beliefs, encompassed in her writings, which provided the theoretical guidance behind the entire Theosophical movement: how is that not of great importance and thus worthy of inclusion in the lede ? As for the claim that the current prose is cluttered I would point to such prose as "she became a founder member of a society that took the name Theosophical Society". That is not good English; something like "she was a founder of the Theosophical Society" is far more concise and appropriate.
I'm not accusing your wording of being POV (although the inclusion of a primary reference from Blavatsky might be seen as bordering into that territory), so you needn't worry about that. My opinion is that it is just not as clean and concise as it should be, omits things that should be in the opening paragraph, and includes things that needn't be. I made all of this clear in my opening statements in this discussion. We now have two editors (myself and Trinity9538) who favour my proposed wording (or at least some variation of it), while you continue to champion your own choice of wording. We are going to need to hear from other editors on this one (@BoBoMisiu: your opinion on this issue would be greatly appreciated). Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:44, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
No, another point on which you are mistaken, whether or not another editor may not discern that. The words "took the name Theosophical Society" were carefully chosen, is good English, is concise and is more aptly informative than "she was a founder of the Theosophical Society" . Again, I invite you to think about what you write and what you oppose more carefully. And in particular, this is the opening sentence. I am also concerned how far you are aware that some of what you propose may not be as npov as you may wish, possibly due to insufficient acquaintance with the topic in itself and in the wider contexts. Qexigator (talk) 14:43, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
+So far as I can see, neither Lachman nor Santucci uses the phrase key theoretician, and that must be regarded as unverified. Please verify by actual source, not paraphrase. If not verified, claiming it is inaccurate and misleading. Qexigator (talk) 15:19, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I was not mistaken. "member of a society that took the name Theosophical Society" is clunky; we have the name society repeated twice in short succession for one thing. That is not a good use of English. For another, why place an emphasis on the fact that their decision to choose the name Theosophical Society ? I don't see any good reason to emphasise Blavatsky and co's choice to use that terminology specifically; you've said that you had a specific reason for doing so, but have not explained what that may be. Further, you claim that Santucci does not use the term "key theoretician". On that you are correct, but Santucci uses "leading theoretician" while Lachman uses the term "theoretician and ideas-person". If you really think that the exact words "key theoretician" are a problem here, then fine, but I worry that we are splitting hairs on this issue. Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:19, 24 January 2015 (UTC)


Requests for comment[edit]

There is currently a debate as to the prose in the first paragraph of the lede. Qexigator has championed the following prose (or a variation of it), which they authored several days ago: "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская, born Helena von Hahn 12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891), a Russian by birth, travelled widely and became involved with the spiritualist movement. While for a time in the United States (1873-1878), she became a founder member of a society that took the name Theosophical Society and gained an international following. She later wrote that the Theosophy she propounded was not a religion but religion itself.[1]"

Conversely, I have argued that this reads poorly, duplicates information found in more appropriate places elsewhere in the lede, and ignores key information (such as that Blavatsky was an occultist). Instead, I have proposed the following (or a variation of it): Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская, born Helena von Hahn 12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891) was a Russian-born American occultist and author. She promoted the religion and philosophy of Theosophy, which she interpreted as a revival of the ancient knowledge of humanity, and was a co-founder and key theoretician of the Theosophical Society in 1875." My proposed wording (which is based upon imitating the lede structure found on GA and FA esotericism articles like Aleister Crowley and Jack Parsons (rocket engineer)) has been supported by Trinity9538 although has been opposed by Qexigator, who instead favours their own original wording. Input from other editors would be greatly appreciated here. 14:30, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, she spent only 4 years of her life in the United States. To term her an American occultist and author seems wide of the mark. Otherwise the latter wording appears to me better. I have tried out my own synthesis, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская), a nineteenth-century occultist and author, developed the spiritual philosophy of Theosophy, which she intended would express the universal religion of mankind, and co-founded the Theosophical Society, which gained her an international following. See what you think. HGilbert (talk) 15:19, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm generally happy with your changes, HGilbert, but why write "nineteenth-century" when we already specify the dates of Blavatsky's life ? Surely that is redundant ? We don't usually state the century in which a person lived in the lede of their biographical articles. If I may, could I remove that without opposition ? Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:09, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I wondered about that. Feel free to tweak away. HGilbert (talk) 17:36, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
While she spent little time in the U.S., she gained American citizenship at the end of her stay there, hence why I suggest that she be termed "Russian-born American" or something along those lines. Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:35, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Well...it still seems misleading. Did she retain her Russian citizenship? If so, that would be the primary reference. HGilbert (talk) 17:37, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

There is also the additional issue of whether we should be including the reference, to a primary source authored by Blavatsky, in the opening sentence. This reference was originally included when the first paragraph in the lede contained direct quotation from Blavatsky. Now that that direct quotation no longer exists, I see no reason to leave the reference in there, and suggest that we remove it. The information that it is citing is not controversial, and is attested to by better, secondary sources elsewhere in the article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:44, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

I see HGilbert's version as an improvement, but it begs a number of possibly awkward questions: What does "occultist" signify here? What is a "spiritual philosophy", and what others are there? "she intended would express the universal religion of mankind": Can this be reconciled with the ref: IS THEOSOPHY A RELIGION? By H. P. Blavatsky "Religion is the best armour that man can have, but it is the worst cloak." (Bunyan), published in Lucifer, Volume III, November 1888? On page 2 she writes "Theosophy, we say, is not a Religion... by no means excludes the fact that "Theosophy is Religion" itself.", and other references on the following pages. This is equivocal: is she propounding her Theosophical writings as a scripture, similar in type to Swedenborg's writings (mentioned in comment above as (Christian) revelation given to him by God), but Blavatsky expressed no such manner of revelation; or does she intend it to be taken as something more like her Lucifer co-editor Mabel Collins's Light on the Path, A TREATISE WRITTEN FOR THE PERSONAL USE OF THOSE WHO ARE IGNORANT OF THE EASTERN WISDOM, AND WHO DESIRE TO ENTER WITHIN ITS INFLUENCE(1885)[5] (and would that be a work of spiritual philosophy?). Perhaps we should take note of the titles of those of Blavatsky's publications that are mentioned in the lead, and see no mention of "occult":
  • Isis Unveiled: Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology
  • The Secret Doctrine: the Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy
  • The Key to Theosophy: a clear exposition...of the ethics, science, and philosophy for the study of which the Theosophical Society has been founded
  • The Voice of the silence, being chosen from the "Book of golden precepts". For the daily use of lanoos (disciples), translated and annotated by "H.P.B."
A proposed revised version is:
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: ...),a nineteenth-century occultist and an author of works +propounded as+ on mysteries of ancient and modern science and theology, and on was an author whose works were claimed to provide a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. developed the spiritual philosophy of Theosophy, which she intended would express the universal religion of mankind, and co-founded She was a founder member of a society that took for its name, the Theosophical Society, gaining her an international following. She later wrote that the Theosophy they and the society were propounding was not a religion but religion itself.[3] note: the ref may not be needed here if covered elsewhere in the article.
Qexigator (talk) 18:04, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
+words added above+ Qexigator (talk) 18:27, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
further amended in response to comment. Qexigator (talk) 19:38, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
To my eyes, that proposal reads like something that we would find on the Theosophical Society's website, and not in an academic study of Blavatsky herself. It is full of Theosophical jargon; whether rightly or wrongly, I am immediately led to suspect that the editor suggesting it is a Theosophist themselves with a keen interest in promoting their own emic, insider perspective. To make my own position clear, I am not a Theosophist, however nor am I anti-Theosophist; I don't believe in Blavatsky's claims although I am very interested in the academic study of Western esotericism as a facet of human history. Now, we have only recently seen the NPOV tag removed from this article, and were wording like this to be incorporated into it then that NPOV tag would have to be slapped right back on there. Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:09, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
False supposition. Please retract and desist from this kind of wholly unwarranted attack. If that commenter has been "immediately led to suspect..." that shows something less than the capacity on that person's part to evaluate text in an objective, let alone academic, manner. Is anything like it actually found on a Theosophical website? Even if it were is it factually reporting what she purported to write about, rather than what commenters or editors here might choose to say, often without adequate means of discernment? Qexigator (talk) 18:27, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I've caused offence, for that really isn't my intention, but I simply cannot read your proposed introductory paragraph without feeling that it is overwhelmingly Theosophical in content. I'm just being honest. The wording that you originally proposed (and which you have since amended) stated "an author of works propounded as on mysteries of ancient and modern science and theology, and on a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy" reads like it is straight out of one of Blavatsky's own works. Your amendments are better, but I'm still far from convinced. Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:04, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I agree that this suggestion would not be an improvement. HGilbert (talk) 20:39, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Why not try looking again free from the bias which some comments above have unintentionally revealed. ...were claimed to provide... is hardly partisan; and as made clear above ... synthesis of science, religion and philosophy... was indeed taken from the titles of her own books, as a way of avoiding the flaws in the other proposed wordings, whether you happen to like it or not. For the sake of constructive discussion, I will enumerate again:
  • What does "occultist" signify here?
  • What is a "spiritual philosophy", and what others are there?
  • Would Mabel Collins, Blavatsky's co-editor of Lucifer magazine, also be deemed to be an "occultist", and would her book Light on the Path be deemed to be a work of "spiritual philosophy"?
  • How to reconcile ...she intended would express the universal religion of mankind with Blavatsky's own equivocal words in Is Theosophy a religion? (Lucifer 1888): "Theosophy, we say, is not a Religion... by no means excludes the fact that "Theosophy is Religion" itself." If she, as the "key theoretician" (your words), is not propounding her Theosophical writings as a scripture, similar in type to Swedenborg's writings (mentioned in comment above as (Christian) revelation given to him by God), does she intend her version of Theosophy to be taken as something more like co-editor Mabel Collins's Light on the Path, a treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the eastern wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence (1885). How can that be understood, at the level this article is being aimed at, as religion or philosophy?
It would be unencyclopedic to suppose we can make a good job of this article by blinding ourselves, or readers, to what is readily available to all comers on the internet. Qexigator (talk) 21:55, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm willing to concede that "spiritual philosophy" may not be the best way to describe Blavatsky's Theosophy, and I certainly am open to any sensible alternatives. Perhaps, for instance, we could refer to it as an "esoteric philosophy" or "esoteric current" (for it is certainly esoteric) or as an "occult philosophy/current" (because it is also certainly occult) ? For instance, "[HPB] developed the esoteric current of modern Theosophy" ? I still maintain that it could be viewed as a religion, although admittedly it is clear that it is not normally referred to as such in the reliable literature. "Esoteric" helps cover ground that fits into various categories, among them religion, spirituality, and (pseudo)science. Midnightblueowl (talk) 22:53, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
it is certainly esoteric: how so, in your opinion? esoteric current: in your opinion, what is the support for that wording if at the same time you hold that "Esoteric" fits into ... (pseudo)science? That looks self-contradictory. You might clarify your position if you addressed the points listed above at 21:55, 24 January. So far I see nothing to rebut the wording of: "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: ...) was an author whose works were claimed to provide a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. .... Qexigator (talk) 00:10, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Too awkward. Sorry. HGilbert (talk) 00:53, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Is that withdrawing your above proposed wording? Qexigator (talk) 01:03, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Sorry; that was unclear. I was referring to the wording whose works were claimed to provide a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy being unwieldy. I think the lede in its present form is pretty good, but some tweaks may well still be helpful. HGilbert (talk) 01:26, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for confirming it is not what those words say but how. Qexigator (talk) 07:54, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree that "were claimed to provide a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy" is awkward wording. As for my claims that Blavatsky was an esotericist and that Theosophy was an esoteric school of thought, I need only point to the wide variety of studies on Blavatsky produced from within the academic study of Western esotericism. Further, occultism is a form of esotericism which emerged (roughly) in the nineteenth-century as an esoteric response to scientific modernism; modern Theosophy was undoubtedly a part of that response (just look at the way it tried to make use of evolutionary theory) and thus Theosophy was an occult movement. See the works of the late Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Wouter Hanegraaff, and Antoine Faivre; all specialists in Western esotericism who identify Theosophy very much within the Western esoteric tradition, and, more specifically, within the occult tradition. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:14, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that response, explaining the way you see it, with which I agree at least in part. But, allowing for the development of "esotericism" and "occultism" in the 19c. being in truth somewhat obscure and opaque to honest and well-informed academics, and in that sense an esoteric and obscure topic in itself (like many aspects of social and cultural development- as editors of such articles we can hardly hope to do better than the best of those diligent experts), is it being used by editors here (as distinct from quoted sources) in a way which answers "Yes" to the question put above: Would Mabel Collins, Blavatsky's co-editor of Lucifer magazine, also be deemed to be an "occultist", or "esotericist" or both? Her article describes her as a theosophist and writer of occult novels. Evidently, like Blavatsky she was a gifted storyteller and, like Edward Bulwer-Lytton, wrote novels about occultism; and a facsimile collection of her "Occult Writings" was published in 2010.[6] Qexigator (talk) 15:12, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, all occultists are esotericists, but not all esotericists are occultists. It's a bit like the statement that all Anglicans are Christian, but not all Christians are Anglican. Occultism is a form of Western esotericism. Thus, if Collins is an occultist, then she would also be an esotericist. Given that Collins was a Theosophist, then yes I would be inclined to consider her an occultist, but she is a figure about which I know very little so I would be loathe to make a definitive statement on the issue. However, I am unsure as to precisely why you ask the question regarding Collins. Surely you are are not suggesting that we should follow the Mabel Collins article as a guide for our actions here, given that the Collins article is in an abismal state ? I'd appreciate it if you could clarify why you ask this question, and explain what relevance it has to our discussion as to the opening paragraph of this, the Blavatsky article ? Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:01, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, that's a helpful explanation about the way the words are being used in these ongoing edits. Currently, "occultist" is in the first paragraph. I was using Collins as a comparator only. The revisal is still in progress, and I may come back to that first paragraph later. Qexigator (talk) 18:21, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
+There is, of course, also the distinction between investigating or writing about such things, including fiction, and being a practitioner (or reputed or pretending one), and that distinction is not always sufficiently observed by writers reporting on these topics, like not all Christians are churchgoers, or communicants or priests or ministers or pastors. Qexigator (talk) 18:42, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Oh, absolutely. This is something that has been discussed at various junctures within the academic study of Western esotericism. Who exactly is an occultist ? Someone who actively performs occult rites and rituals and articulates occult ideas ? Certainly. Someone who believes in occult ideas ? Probably. Someone who includes occult ideas in their fiction or art ? Maybe not, but it is an issue of debate. Blavatsky, however, certainly falls under both of the first two categories, and thus it is fairly unequivocal that she was an occultist, and by extension an esotericist, at least as those terms are understood within the academic study of Western esotericism. Midnightblueowl (talk) 19:24, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
In this connection, it is interesting to see this assessment of Blavatsky and the Theosophical movement in an online academic study of 2009: From The theosophical movement of the nineteenth century: the legitimation of the disputable and the entrenchment of the disreputable, Kalnitsky, Arnold Date: 2009-08-25. "By noting that Madame Blavatsky seemingly instinctively chose the subtitle of The Secret Doctrine as The Synthesis of Science,Religion, and Philosophy...In attempting to create an attractive, appealing, convincing, alternative to the worldviews inherent through those traditional ideational edifices, we have shown how Madame Blavatsky felt the need to convincingly show how her vision was superior by substituting what was called an esoteric perspective for conventional interpretations of truth and knowledge. Thus, it is no coincidence that her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, sets as the measure of its success the production of a plausible and convincing synthesis of those three categories of knowledge interpreted in occult and mystical terms show how her vision was superior by substituting what was called an esoteric perspective for conventional interpretations of truth and knowledge. Thus, it is no coincidence that her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, sets as the measure of its success the production of a plausible and convincing synthesis of those three categories of knowledge interpreted in occult and mystical terms."[7] Qexigator (talk) 00:55, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
I see a similar quote from Kalitsky is now in the article.[8] Qexigator (talk) 08:24, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
She was first of all a Victorian era writer who rejected science and inductive reasoning in favor of pre-modern mythology and spiritualism. She wrote about occult secret knowledge that she claimed was empirical fact, that a century after her death could be considered more as pseudo-historical and pseudo-scientific. EB1911: "In 1875 she conceived the plan of combining the spiritualistic 'control' with the Buddhistic legends about Tibetan sages." I think something like that should be in the lead. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 02:16, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
The EB 1910/11 article is a good source for her reputation at that time, also online.[9] It includes "In 1858 she returned to Russia, where she created a sensation as a spiritualistic medium. About 1870 she acquired prominence among the spiritualists of the United States, where she lived fo six years, becoming a naturalized citizen." It is unsigned but states that information can be found in V.S.Solovyov's (who visited Paris in 1884 where he met Blavatsky and mixed with other people in the Paris occult scene) Modern Priestess of Isis trans. Walter leaf (1895), in Arthur Lillie's Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophy" (1895),[10] [11] and in the report made to the Society for Psychical Research "by the Cambridge graduate despatched to investigate her doings in India". The article ends "when she died...at the theosophical headquarters in the Avenue Road, London, she was acknowledged head of a community numbering not far short of 100.000, with journalistic organs in London Paris, New York and Madras." Qexigator (talk) 14:37, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment Summoned by RfC bot. The second alternative reads better. Coretheapple (talk) 15:29, 12 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Second alternative also summoned by RfC bot. I actually think the current lede is fine but if you need to change it, the second suggestion is fine. Wikimandia (talk) 10:30, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Closed ? As I understand it, we have now setlled for the current version which was made 14:41, 12 February[12] and this RfC may be considered closed. Qexigator (talk) 11:10, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Version 3[edit]

In view of the above comments, here is another version. The current version of the first paragraph includes (Blavatsky), an occultist and author, developed the spiritual philosophy of Theosophy, which she intended would express the universal religion of mankind... For reasons given above that is awkward in content and expression, unlike "an author whose works were claimed to provide a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy": the latter is concise, simple, factual, suited to the main content of the article and npov. In case any editor would regard the following as more than a tweak, here is a third version, even simpler and more concise than the revised version 2 above:

(Blavatsky) was an occultist and author who developed what she called a synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. She co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875 and became the leading theoretician of the Theosophy it promoted, thus gaining her an international following.

Qexigator (talk) 12:48, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Further trimmed to read: "(Blavatsky) occultist and author, co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875, and gained an international following as the leading theoretician of the Theosophy it promoted." Qexigator (talk) 23:59, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
That proposal doesn't contain mention of "Theosophy" itself, which I think is an absolute must. Further, paragraph three of the lede currently states that Blavatsky viewed Theosophy as a "synthesis of science, religion, and philosophy". While I think that it works fine there, I am still very sceptical of the idea of including that wording within the very first paragraph, and would suggest that there, Theosophy be described as an esoteric or occult movement. I worry that emphasising the "science, religion, and philosophy" statement is placing too much emphasis on Blavatsky's own, emic perspectives at such a crucial juncture in the article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:00, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
In view of that comment, and given that by the link we say "Theosophy is considered a part of the broader field of esotericism", let esotericism have it: amended as above, yet more simple and concise; so far, so good. But one part of the editing problem is that no one could be a theoretician of Blavatsky's Theosophy before her leading works were brought out with those catchy titles: first, Isis Unveiled (1877), in which, the article reports, she wrote that Spiritualism "alone offers a possible last refuge of compromise between" the "revealed religions and materialistic philosophies"; and later The Secret Doctrine (1888), where she stated "that the law of reincarnation was governed by karma, with humanity's final purpose being the emancipation of the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth." Those works are known to be the author's compilations and commentaries, much of doubtful provenance, and neither is actually esoteric or occult, except in the meaning of obscure, opaque or otherwise deficient by academic and everyday standards, however enthralling many followers or commentators have found them; so why let the lead present her or her works as esoteric or occult? I do not see that we are obliged to put it in the opening paragraph because other articles use these words as classifiers. Qexigator (talk) 15:14, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Now further trimmed as above. Qexigator (talk) 23:59, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Forgive me if I have misunderstood, but if you are stating that Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine were not esoteric and occult works then I would have to strongly disagree. These are most clearly tomes that fit within the broad aegis of Western esotericism, relying as they do so heavily on Hermetic and Neoplatonist ideas and seeking to combine religion and science in a manner common to occultism. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:33, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

References

  1. ^ H. P. Blavatsky, Is Theosophy a religion? published in "Lucifer" Volume III, November 1888, pages 3-4 [1]
  2. ^ H. P. Blavatsky, Is Theosophy a religion? published in "Lucifer" Volume III, November 1888, pages 3-4 [2]
  3. ^ H. P. Blavatsky, Is Theosophy a religion? published in "Lucifer (magazine)" Volume III, November 1888, pages 3-4 [3]

Why is Steiner in this bio?[edit]

Perhaps we should reconsider what Steiner is doing in a bio of Blavatsky. She had long been dead for a decade before he accepted appointment (on his own terms) as general secretary for the German section of TS, and was not himself a member of TS. Qexigator (talk) 21:46, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

A brief, concise mention of the influence that Blavatsky's Theosophical ideas had on Steiner (alongside other prominent figures within the Western esoteric tradition) could probably be warranted, so long as they are cited to reliable sources. Anything more than that would be redundant in my opinion. 15:12, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
brief, concise = nil. Nothing known of Steiner's biography or philosophical or other works (writings, books, lectures, art), before, during or after his appointment with the German Section of the Theosophical Society supports the opinion that he was at any time influenced by Blavatsky's doctrines. Qexigator (talk) 19:21, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, I'll have to take your word for that right now (my knowledge of Steiner and his work is sketchy at best). Certainly, if we have no reliable sources testifying to a Blavatskian influence on Steiner then we should not include any such statements in the article. Conversely, if such reliable sources do come to light then I think that we would have to look at including said information. Certainly, we have reliable sources testifying to Blavatsky's influence on Ariosophy and the New Age movement, and it is thus appropriate for that influence to be briefly highlighted within the article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 19:44, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
He respected the contributions of Blavatsky, but was very critical of her followers.--Trinity9538 (talk) 20:11, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
respected the contributions of Blavatsky: have you a source of Steiner's to support that? Qexigator (talk) 22:47, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Unless we are including that information in the article itself, then there is no need for a reliable source here. We don't need reliable sources for every comment on the talk page (thankfully!). Midnightblueowl (talk) 23:05, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
It is surely obvious that the reason for the question was that an unfounded assertion cannot affect the content of the article. Qexigator (talk) 23:22, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree completely that unfounded statements should not be included in the article. However, @Trinity9538: didn't specifically appear to be suggesting that we include that information in the article. As I read their comment, they were simply informing me of something about which I knew little, following my own admission of ignorance regarding Steiner. Hope that clears my perspective up a bit there. Midnightblueowl (talk) 23:31, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
clears my perspective up- That may be so, but my question was not about your perspective, but whether the commenter had a source which could be used for improving the article. That question still stands: it should not be obscured by suggesting that it was about requiring sources for comments on this page. Qexigator (talk) 11:56, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I have located a reliable source (from the academic journal Nova Religio) testifying to the fact that Blavatsky's doctrine of Root Races was an influence on Steiner's Anthroposophy; I have cited it at the appropriate juncture within the article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:21, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
This is unlikely to be a reliable source if only because the author proposes that Steiner was converted to (Blavatskyan) Theosophy "at the beginning of the twentieth century", which is more than a distortion of the indisputable fact that "Steiner served as General Secretary of the German Section of the Theosophical Society from 1902 until 1912, when he broke away to found the Anthroposophical Society", and in that period some of his lectures or writings included mention of "Root Races". Others may be better informed about this controversy, but a websearch has produced Cosmic Memory, Prehistory of Earth and Man (1904)[13]. The provenance of the 1939 publication is given in a Preface[14], stating that "These Essays of Dr. Rudolf Steiner which first appeared in 1904 are now published in book form after thirty-five years. They were written for the periodical Lucifer Gnosis, which appeared at first as a monthly and then at longer intervals....What is here presented in form of a brief survey, finds its continuation in the books Theosophie and Geheimwissenschaft im Umriss." Another: The Submerged Continents of Atlantis and Lemuria, Their History and Civilization[15], English translation from German, 1911, London, Theosophical Publishing Society[16] I don't propose to unravel the terminology Steiner was using at that time, which would, we may suppose, have been the lingua franca of the members of the TS. Qexigator (talk) 18:56, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
+As I see it, it would be more accurate to say that Rudolf Steiner made use of some of Blavatsky's Theosophical ideas regarding Root Races, in the period from 1904 before the founding in 1912 of the Anthroposophical Society by breakaway members of the Theosophical Society in Germany. Qexigator (talk) 19:45, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Blavatsky's writings influenced Steiner and other people too. For example, mid 20th century fascists who dehumanized people with metaphors that equated groups of people with non-humans. Blavatsky clearly dehumanized various groups of 19th century people in her writings. That is arguably her most conspicuous and significant legacy when compared to trivial things like secret knowledge, imaginary continents, or staged magic tricks. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 02:46, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Too much TS section for this bio[edit]

Much of the information in the "Theosophical Society" section either duplicates or would be better placed in its article, not in this bio. Encyclopedically speaking, the Theosophical Society and Blavatsky were not synonymous, even in her own lifetime, nor Besant later on. Qexigator (talk) 21:59, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Also, other posthumous attributions to Theosophy, such as Guido von List's doctrines, are no more relevant to this bio than to Olcott's or Besant's. The extent of the New Age Movement attribution to Theosophy is dubious, and, while it has a source, the relevance to this bio is unclear. Qexigator (talk) 07:44, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

A very fair point. We must include information about Blavatsky's own personal beliefs and religious world-view (ideally in its own section), although that should not branch out into being a discussion of the Theosophical Society itself. Midnightblueowl (talk) 15:16, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Unacceptable revert[edit]

Please note that the second revert to my correction in the lead is not acceptable. If there is an objection, please state it for discussion.[17] Qexigator (talk) 23:32, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

As the editor responsible for the revert in question, I must defend my actions, which are perfectly acceptable according to Wikipedia norms and standards. We already have a discussion about that very same paragraph open, which Qexigator has so far ignored, despite being alerted to its existence. Without wishing to toot my own horn too much, I've just spent a lot of time revamping this article and improving it dramatically through the extensive and methodical addition of reliably sourced information, and I don't want to have to deal with disruptive editing, edit wars, or any of that stuff, because that's all a waste of time. So please, contribute to the discussion above, with myself and other editors, rather than acting alone and then complaining when your edits (the quality of which are certainly disputed) are reverted. Apologies if I'm being blunt, but it is quite late and I have had a long day. Best for now, Midnightblueowl (talk) 00:09, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
You have not, however, given any reason for undoing my correction to my earlier edit. You are here being given an opportunity to say something constructive on that point. Please desist from practising disruptive editing and making groundless accusations. Qexigator (talk) 00:24, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Far from seeing myself as participating in disruptive editing, I undid your revisions because I truly thought that it was your edits that were disruptive. There is a talk page discussion about the first paragraph in the lede; you then are making changes to that lede paragraph without discussing the appropriateness of such revisions with those of us who are taking part in that discussion. That's disruptive, and runs very much counter to the communal ethos of Wikipedia. If you want to make the changes, discuss them first, please. That is my main concern with your edit in question. I further actually don't think that they benefit the article in any way, for they run counter to GA examples that we should be seeking to imitate (such as that at Aleister Crowley), but that is another matter, and one that we really should be debating at the aforementioned talk page discussion. Take your argument there, for that is where it belongs. Midnightblueowl (talk) 00:43, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that revealing response. You have been doing some good editing here, please do not spoil it by attitudinising. It would be better if you could allow others a little more courtesy who, like me, happen to disagree on certain points. There has been no disruptive editing on my part, and false accusations against another editor making bona fide npov revisions is not helpful, nor can be excused behind a shield such as "Wikipedia ethos". Shall we let this section close? Qexigator (talk) 11:42, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Certainly. I'm not an antagonistic person, and I take no pleasure in arguing here. I did genuinely feel that your edits were disruptive, and I was acting accordingly; in turn, you thought that I was the disruptive one. You were acting in good faith, I can appreciate that, as was I, and we do share a common goal in improving this article. I'm happy to let this section close. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:17, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Reception/criticism[edit]

This section was removed by @Midnightblueowl with the comments that it was duplicated elsewhere or that Wikipedia discourages such sections. Neither seems to be the case, and I have restored much of the material. I agree that the section needs work and balance, and have renamed it "Reception" to allow reviews of all kinds. HGilbert (talk) 16:01, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

I was working on the basis of Wikipedia:Criticism#Approaches to presenting criticism. I think that all of the information currently contained within the "Reception" section (it was called "Criticism" when I removed it) fits more appropriately in other parts of the article, including the biographical section, the "Blavatsky's beliefs" section, and the "Influence and legacy" section. Certainly there are various places where information is duplicated in different sections (for instance, Blavatsky's influence on Ariosophy is now mentioned in two separate places in the article, which to me seems superfluous). Similarly, I am concerned that the very idea of a "Reception" section largely duplicates the subject matter of the "Influence and legacy" section, and would argue that this article would be better served if the two sections were to be combined. Best, Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:00, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Right now there is a large section on Reception and influence, within which there are five subsections on influence preceded by one on reception. This could be broken up into two primary sections, reception and influence, if you prefer.
The reason I believe that a separate reception section is valuable is to distinguish between facts about and evaluations of Blavatsky. Much of what is in the reception section really doesn't belong in the body of the article, as far as I can see. HGilbert (talk) 02:58, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Looking at the section as it currently stands (which in a much cleaner, better referenced and organised state than it was a week ago), I am now happy to see it divided into separate "Reception" and "Influence" sections. There is undoubtedly some areas of overlap between them, but I don't think that that will cause too much trouble to introduce this partition, and it may well neaten the general appearance of the article. I'll go ahead and make the proposed change. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:20, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Accusations of forgery/plagiarism[edit]

It appears that there is a long history of accusations of plagiarisms and forgeries, not just the Coulomb affair. I wonder if a section discussing this is appropriate. It would have to be even-handed. HGilbert (talk) 14:33, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

I'd advise against going for a whole section on the subject, as per some of the concerns raised at Wikipedia:Criticism#Approaches to presenting criticism. I think it more appropriate were we to ensure that the accusations of forgery and plagiarism are raised at different points throughout the article. For instance, we already have some mention of them toward the start of the "Reception and legacy" section, although that clearly needs some expansion and tidying (which I hope to be getting on to in time). Further, it would be appropriate to mention prominent public criticisms within the biographical section; we already do that for the likes of the Coulomb Affair and claims that Isis Unveiled was heavily based upon earlier sources, although I know that Blavatsky was certainly publicly accused of fraudulence while moving within the American Spiritualist movement, which I'm not sure is something that currently appears in that section. Personally I feel that that approach would work better than a singular section on the accusations, which I fear would get pretty unwieldy soon enough and would end up duplicating information already found in other parts of the article. Midnightblueowl (talk) 15:10, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

A curious discrepancy[edit]

In Blavatsky's Sketchbook, the entry dated August 12 1851 states:

Memorable night! On a certain night by the light of the moon that was setting at Ramsgate on August 12th 1851 when I met [symbol] the Master of my dreams!

This is so highly problematic that it boggles the mind. Not only did Blavatsky apparently claim on another occasion that she first met this master in London, not Ramsgate, later justifying the contradiction as a "blind" thrown up for any unauthorized reader of her journal,[18] but even worse, the moon was just past full on that date, meaning it would have set between 7 and 8 AM, long past sunrise. The woman's self-contradictions are unbelievable. HGilbert (talk) 17:44, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

To put it kindly, Blavatsky was a great falsifier of the truth (others simply call her a liar). As her biographers make clear, she made outright contradictory statements about her own past, and it is this, coupled with the lack of textual documentation prior to her arrival in the U.S., that makes it so difficult to really know what she was doing in the early part of her life. I have added a few sentences testifying to the problems that biographers have faced at the start of the "Biography" section, and thus I hope that readers can appreciate these difficulties. Accompanying this, I have used a lot of terminology along the lines of "Blavatsky later claimed" and "allegedly" to make it clear to the reader that many of the things which Blavatsky stated happened in her early life are not entirely reliable. Further, when it comes to a discussion of Blavatsky's life in Tibet I have tried to include reference to biographers and critics who have disputed that this ever happened; in time I hope to include information from biographers like Paul Johnson and Marion Meade who have articulated alternative accounts as to what Blavatsky was doing in this period. Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:11, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Undue reliance on a dissertation[edit]

Extensive quotations from a dissertation on Blavatsky were added by SERGEJ2011, who essentially solely edits this article. This seems to be an WP:UNDUE use of a single source. I am trying to consolidate these. HGilbert (talk) 08:56, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Whether or not User:SERGEJ2011 (User contributions[19]) "solely edits this article" those edits are usefully informative and are some of the better ones being made here. If you make a good job of consolidating well and good. Cheers! Qexigator (talk) 09:09, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Really? One of these recently added states, "According to Kalnitsky, the theosophical movement of the nineteenth century was created and defined in the main through the astuteness and conceptual ideas provided by H.P. Blavatsky. He stated that "without her charismatic leadership and uncompromising promotion of the theosophical agenda, it appears unlikely that the movement could have attained its unique form"". The article already makes clear that she was the chief theorist and a co-founder of the movement. What does this quote from someone who has no real expertise add? HGilbert (talk) 10:36, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Are you saying Kalnitsky has no real expertise? By what criteria and on what information is that opinion based? Personal knowledge of him or what? Qexigator (talk) 15:40, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
However, Kalnitsky's dissertation is a height-quality source. SERGEJ2011 (talk) 16:33, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
It reads as a carefully researched analysis and assessment of the Blavatsky and TS phenomenon in the context of that period, to a good academic standard, including bibliography, which is more that can be said of some of the content of the present article and sources (still under revisal). It does not seem to suffer from undue pov, fiendly, hostile, populist or sensational. I see no reason for treating it with supercilious disdain. Perhaps others know better? If possible, articles on such a topic as this should not be unduly reliant on a single source. Qexigator (talk) 17:06, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Added parameters on Kalnitsky’s dissertation. "Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY in the subject of RELIGIOUS STUDIES. Promoter: Dr. H.C. STEYN." Biblical and ancient studies (section). SERGEJ2011 (talk) 17:31, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
That does not state that the degree has been awarded, but as I understand it we are not obliged to use only sources by authors holding doctorates. This source helps to avoid undue reliance on Lachman. Qexigator (talk) 19:06, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
It does not matter what field the dissertation is in. It is published by the university online, i.e. it is published academic work. It is written by a theosophist – so it is sympathetic to the subject – who provides good information. It presents the author's findings, they are commentary by an expert who researched the subject. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:37, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
This article needs to duplicate references on Lachman's work by ones on scholar's works. SERGEJ2011 (talk) 05:30, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Lachman is being extensively cited here: no harm in that, may be. In his Wikipedia article he is classed as a "Cultural historian". He is a fairly prolific writer of books for sale to the general public, and, like any other writer, may be subject to publishing requirements, which is not the same as independent scholarly work such as Kalnitsky's, but his work seems to be well received and not partisan. If supported by Kalnitsky so much the better, if not, we need to know. He appears to have read widely, as well as publishing a blog[20]. Another writer being cited is Goodrick-Clarke "professor of Western Esotericism at University of Exeter, best known for his authorship of several scholarly books on esoteric traditions." He "took a D.Phil with a dissertation on the modern Occult Revival and theosophy at the end of the nineteenth century." That was the "basis for his most celebrated work, The Occult Roots of Nazism. This book has been continually in print since its first publication in 1985, and has been translated into twelve languages." It would be useful to know how far he and Kalnitsky (or similar) are in agreement about Blavatsky and the "influence" of her writings. Qexigator (talk) 12:32, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
I have begun to back up the prose using citations to Sylvia Cranston's prominent 1993 biography. Midnightblueowl (talk) 19:10, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

"Blavatsky's beliefs", as from 19:59, 23 January[edit]

The section title stems from 19:59, 23 January 2015,[21] before "leading theoretician" appeared at the top. Given the content of the article, does anyone, let alone editors here, know what to believe she believed? We may feel sceptical about a writer who claimed to. That is not to doubt her "good faith" or personal integrity, but one of her undoubted capacities was as a storyteller, and she evidently let her manifold capacities be used in serving as the leading theoretician for the cause the Theosophical Society professed to be advancing, according to the article. For npov something better would be "Blavatsky's doctrines" or "Blavatsky's teachings", or perhaps better still "Blavatsky's theories" to be consistent with leading theoretician in the current version of the opening sentence. Qexigator (talk) 10:26, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

A very fair point; we cannot be sure what she actually believed, only what ideas she promoted through her publications and teachings. I'd be happy to see this section renamed "Blavatsky's theories" or "Blavatsky's doctrines". Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:28, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, let's use "Blavatsky's doctrines". I am having second thoughts about "theoretician" in the lead- "clunky" maybe, and certainly not attuned to usage in her day. I feel it would read better to put "proponent" there. Qexigator (talk) 13:15, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
I've changed the title in the article to "Blavatsky's doctrines". Let's discuss the other issue (pertaining to the lede), in the section about the lede, rather than here. Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:35, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Bibliography and further reading sections[edit]

Should these not be merged? I cannot see that they are differentiated in any significant way. HGilbert (talk) 07:48, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Yes. If merged could use merged title: "Bibliography and further reading". Given that there is a formal and practical distinction, it is not clear whether it has been applied here, or need be continued. Normal usage would be to list the works on which the book or article or chapter is based, whether or not actually cited, under "Bibliography", but "Further reading" could be used, perhaps at the end of a section or chapter, to advise a reader who is looking for more information, or to instruct a student what is on the prescibed reading list. I doubt whether either strictly applies here, or if it has been or will be consistently applied.
  • "works cited"....lists at the end of books and articles" per Bibliography
  • "a citation is an abbreviated alphanumeric expression embedded in the body of an intellectual work that denotes an entry in the bibliographic references section of the work for the purpose of acknowledging the relevance of the works of others to the topic of discussion at the spot where the citation appears. Generally the combination of both the in-body citation and the bibliographic entry constitutes what is commonly thought of as a citation (whereas bibliographic entries by themselves are not) per Citation.
Qexigator (talk) 09:08, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
+ Given that in the article "Sources" serves as the bibliography of the works cited as References. That lets "Bibliography and further reading" be used for other works, some of which may be cited in the works listed in "Sources", and thus part of a full bibliography. Qexigator (talk) 10:30, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
Definitely merge. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:15, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

why is there no reference to Agardi Metrovitch being a fake name/person?[edit]

I was summoned here by the RfC bot but as I was reading the article I noticed this supposed Hungarian composed named "Agardi Metrovich"... it was curious to me why a Hungarian would have a Russian last name so I googled it... No references to him separate from her. Nothing even with modified spellings. Then I found this abstract here and it confirmed that he didn't exist. Of course this is only an abstract, but apparently this is common knowledge and even notorious. What's the deal with it not being mentioned? Wikimandia (talk) 11:01, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks. This seems to be one of Blavatsky's many imaginary friends. I have removed the reference from the article, as it is an unimportant detail anyway. HGilbert (talk) 14:58, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
Sorry to be a contrarian but I have reverted that removal. Whether Metrovich was real or not, Blavatsky talked about him a fair bit and every biographer has discussed him; indeed, given that Blavatsky buried her child under the surname of "Metrovich", Meade argues that it is this mysterious composer who actually fathered Blavatsky's child (I'll get around to putting references into the article from Meade's biography once I have done so for the Cranston biography). Bear in mind that many of the figures who appear in Blavatsky's own account of her life, most notably the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, are potentially fictitious inventions, so Metrovich isn't alone in that respect. This is important stuff, let's not ignore it. Best, Midnightblueowl (talk) 16:20, 13 February 2015 (UTC)
I didn't say I felt like he shouldn't be mentioned in the article, but at first reference it needs to be mentioned that there is no person by that name, and it is believed to be either a pseudonym or fabrication. If it's enough for someone to devote a college essay to, there must be plenty of sources documenting this. Otherwise nerds like me might start searching thinking "hmmm I never heard of that Hungarian composer, maybe that's a typo".... Wikimandia (talk) 01:43, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
Lachman wrote that Metrovitch (no “Metrovich”!) was an opera singer, as his wife Teresina, also an opera singer. Goodrick-Clarke wrote about Blavatsky’s “friendship with Agardi Metrovitch (sic!), the Hungarian opera singer.” Howard Murphet wrote in his book When Daylight Comes: A Biography of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky that “Metrovitch” was revolutionary's pseudonym. SERGEJ2011 (talk) 08:02, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers stated that “Metrovitch was a disciple of Giuseppe Mazzini, prophet of Italian nationalism.” The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy wrote about “Hungarian opera singer Agardi (Agadir) Metrovitch.” SERGEJ2011 (talk) 09:31, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
The mispelling of Metrovitch as "Metrovich" in the article was, I believe, my fault, so I apologise for that, and thank SERGEJ2011 for picking up on it. Midnightblueowl (talk) 15:58, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
Just a comment about the transliteration of names: I have seen this before. A writer explained the problem of transliterating Ruthenian/Ukrainian (and probably all Cyrillic languages), he "used a modified form of the Library of Congress system" to transliterate from Ruthenian/Ukrainian (p. 20). He also noted that "orthographies of the variants of the Ruthenian literary language employed in the late nineteenth century often differed substantially from that of modern standard Ukrainian" (p. 21). So there seems to be 19th century and 21st century forms of transliteration. Most 21st century writers use a contemporary form of transliteration, so a name may be written in an old work one way but changed in a newer work. —BoBoMisiu (talk) 16:13, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Countess Blavatsky – spiritualistic investigator[edit]

"Countess Blavatsky" was commissioned as a spiritualistic investigator by Alexandr Aksakov, while he was a member of the Russian Imperial Chancellery.[1]

Is there more about her work as spiritualistic investigator? Was her "Countess Blavatsky" title debunked? —BoBoMisiu (talk) 03:46, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

She was certainly from an aristocratic family; whether that makes her a countess or not I have no idea, but certainly she is not regularly referred to as such in the biographies and other studies of her life and ideas. Regarding Aksakov, he is mentioned in pages 123, 153, and 175 of Lachman's biography, and on pages 173 and 174 of Cranston's biography. From these it doesn't seem like Blavatsky's involvement with Aksakov expanded much beyond a correspondence; Lachman also notes that Aksakov requested that Blavatsy might translate Olcott's People from the Other World into Russian, although he does not state whether this actually happened or not. Midnightblueowl (talk) 16:11, 14 February 2015 (UTC)
I've added a referenced mention of her correspondence with Aksakov into the article, at the appropriate juncture. Midnightblueowl (talk) 16:15, 14 February 2015 (UTC)