THE RESULTS ARE IN! The woman in the photo is Helena Petrovna Blavatsky; known as the founder of The Theosophical Society and the mother of the New Age Movement, which began in the late 19th century.
If you’re curious about The Theosophical Society, there is a video at the end of this article that will give you an overview of what it represents, but for now - let’s get back to your impressions and how they connected to Madame Blavatsky:
OCCUPATION: Religious leader, writer, traveler, Medium
KNOWN FOR: Controversial religious writer and leader (kudos to those who got “Author” ), a founder of the Theosophical Society, who widened the exposure to Eastern religions in the West. She claimed to have learned and promoted a “universal Wisdon-religion” from Masters of Wisdom based on “The Aryan-Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine” and “hidden laws” of nature discoverable through mystical understanding.
BIOGRAPHY: Helena Petrovna Hahn (July 31, 1831 (O.S.) (August 12, 1831 (N.S.)) - May 8, 1891), better known as Madame Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy.
She was born in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine, the daughter of Col. Peter Alexeivich von Hahn and Elena Fadeev. Her mother, also known as Helena Andreyvna Fadeyev, was a novelist.
She married, on July 7, 1849, Nikifor Vassilievitch Blavatsky. He died several years later and she soon married her second husband, Michael C. Betanelly on April 3, 1875. She maintained that neither marriage was consummated. She separated from Betanelly after a few months, and their divorce was legalized on May 25, 1878.
Madame Blavatsky traveled throughout the world, and resided in New York City from 1873 to 1878.
She then founded, with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others, the Theosophical Society, a new religious movement of the late nineteenth century that took its inspiration from Hinduism and Buddhism. Blavatsky claimed to have been given access to what she called a 'secret doctrine' that had been passed down the ages from ancient sages. In this respect Blavatsky's ideas followed in the tradition of Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism.
The difference was that Blavatsky's esoteric wisdom was supposed to be derived from Eastern sages, rather than from Egyptian or Judaic traditions. Furthermore, Blavatsy claimed that the ancient "Akashic" wisdom to which she had access was consistent with modern science, in particular with physics and evolutionary biology (for instance borrowing the name Lemuria from biologist P.L. Sclater as the name for the origin of her lost continent which would serve as the origin for her third root race). This claim that esoteric spiritual knowledge is consistent with new science may be considered to be the first instance of what is now called New Age thinking. In fact, many researchers feel that much of New Age-thought started with Blavatsky.
CONTROVERSY: In 1884, Blavatsky was accused in the press in India of making up her stories of psychic powers and other phenomena. One of the letters Blavatsky had published, supposedly from a master, turned out to be identical to something that had already been published by an American. A former housekeeper and secretary at the Theosophical headquarters, Mme. Emma Coulomb, and her husband revealed many of Madame Blavatsky’s tricks. Among Blavatsky’s claims: that astral letters from the spiritual masters materialized in her home. The Coulombs showed that the letters were placed in a secret opening from Blavatsky’s bedroom, the opening concealed with sliding panels. The Coulombs produced letters backing up their claims.Blavatsky was in Germany when the accusations were published, and she returned to India to answer the charges. She denied the charges, denied that the letters of Coulombs were authentic, and asserted her innocence.The next year, the London Society for Psychical Research (SPR) published the Hodgson report, written by Richard Hodgson. This report called Helena Blavatsky a “fraud” and implicated some other Theosophical leaders. The conclusion of the SPR was that “[f]or our own part we regard her neither as the mouthpiece of hidden seers nor as a mere vulgar adventuress; we think she has achieved a title to permanent remembrance as one of the most accomplished and interesting imposters in history.”
VINDICATION: Eventually, the Coulombs were exposed for the money grubbing extortionists that they indeed were, but another Blavatsky enemy destroyed the evidence. This was known as “The Coulomb Affair”. The Coulomb Affair refers to a conflict between Emma and Alexis Coulomb, on one side, and Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, on the other.
Blavatsky met Emma and Alex in 1871 in Cairo. They founded the short-lived Société Spirite. In August 1879, Emma and Alex contacted Blavatsky because they had financial problems. They were stranded in Sri Lanka, and Blavatsky helped them to get to Mumbai and tried to find a job for them. As she couldn't find a job for them, she provided them with a position in the Theosophical Society, where they were doing various chores, such as cooking and gardening. In February 1884, Blavatsky and H. S. Olcott travelled to Europe.
After their departure, a conflict between the Coulombs and the Theosophical Society escalated. The Coulombs tried to blackmail and threaten Blavatsky, whereupon Blavatsky dismissed them. When the theosophists inspected Blavatsky's room after the Coulombs had to leave, they found secret doors in her room. Alexis claimed that he constructed these secret doors for Blavatsky. Theosophists have said that Alexis' constructions were obviously newly built, and the secret doors could not be opened or closed silently or without strong effort.
After the Coulombs were dismissed, they went to their Christian missionary friends of the Free Church of Scotland, and gave them letters that were allegedly written by Blavatsky to Emma. These letters suggested that Blavatsky was a fraud. The chaplain George Patterson published extracts from these letters in the Madras Christian College Magazine. The incident became well known all over India and also in America and Europe. Blavatsky then immediately published a reply in several newspapers. Blavatsky and Olcott then travelled back to India in the end of 1884. Soon afterwards the Hodgson Report was published, which also severely damaged Blavatsky's reputation. The report also contained the allegations of the Coulombs.
In 1986 and 1997, Vernon Harrison of the SPR (Society for Psychical Research) published a study on the Hodgson Report. The Blavatsky-Coulomb letters were destroyed by Elliott Coues, an enemy of Blavatsky, so that they cannot be studied today anymore.
BLAVATSKY AFTER THE CONTROVERSY: Olcott expelled Blavatsky from the Theosophical Society, she resigned as the Society’s corresponding secretary, and left India for Europe. She traveled first to Naples, then to Germany and from there to Belgium. She continued her writing.In 1887, she moved to London, where she met Annie Besant, who helped her revitalize Theosophy in Europe. In her later years, Blavatsky lived at Besant’s home.Blavatsky founded the Blavatsky Lodge in London. She also founded and edited a new magazine, Lucifer the Light-Bringer (1887 – 1891).In 1888, she published The Secret Doctrine, theosophical teachings in two volumes, and in 1889 published Key to Theosophy, followed by The Voice of Silence in 1889.By 1890, Blavatsky had the leadership of Theosophy in Europe. She built a European headquarters in London. In 1891, she published another book, Glossary of Theosophical Terms.
Ill with kidney disease, Blavatsky died of pneumonia on May 8, 1891, in London. Personally, I think the (unfounded) attack by those bitches The Coulombs were the cause of her demise. Her ashes were scattered at Madras, India. Annie Besant succeeded her as the leader of Theosophy.
Blavatsky’s Posthumous Memoirs – which claim to have been dictated by her spirit – were published in 1896.The Secret Doctrine has been published widely, and has been translated into many different languages. From 1950 to 1991, Madame Blavatsky’s Collected Writings were published.The Dictionary of American Biography (1936 edition) said of Blavatsky, “She possessed the rare power of temporarily believing whatever she wanted to believe.”