Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Extract of a Letter
from Mme. Blavatsky

[Reprinted from Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1,
by A.O. Hume, Calcutta, Second edition, 1882, pp. 86-92.]

"Mr. -----  [W.H. Terry] lays great stress upon his own so-called mediumship, and so might I have done whilst I was similarly affected. He says that the fact of different handwritings being produced through his own automatic writing, is a proof of disembodied spirits. Surely very poor logic that. Then there is that venerable party who died 100 years ago, who always writes in the same handwriting, and always gives the same name!

For over six years, from the time I was eight or nine years old until I grew up to the age of fifteen, I had an old spirit (Mrs. T......... L......... (2) she called herself), who came every night to write through me, in the presence of my father, aunts and many other people, residents of Tiflis and Saratoff. She gave a detailed account of her life, stated where she was born (at Revel, Baltic Provinces), how she married, and gave the history of all her children, including a long and thrilling romance about her eldest daughter, Z......., and the suicide of her son F........, who also came at times and indulged in long rhapsodies about his sufferings as a suicide.

The old lady mentioned that she saw God and the Virgin Mary, and a host of angels, two of which bodiless creatures she introduced to our family, to the great joy of the latter, and who promised (all this through my handwritings) that they would watch over me, &c., &c., tout comme il faut.

She even described her own death, and gave the name and address of the Lutheran pastor who administered to her the last sacrament.

She gave a detailed account of a petition she had presented to the Emperor Nicholas, and wrote it out verbatim in her own handwriting through my child’s hand.

Well, this lasted, as I said, nearly six years - my writings - in her clear old-fashioned, peculiar handwriting and grammar, in German (a language I had never learnt to write and could not even speak well) and in Russian - accumulating in these six years to a heap of MSS that would have filled ten volumes.

In those days this was not called spiritualism, but possession. But as our family priest was interested in the phenomena, he usually came and sat during our evening seance with holy water near him, and a goupillon (how do you call it in English?) and so we were all safe.

Meanwhile one of my uncles had gone to Revel, and had there ascertained that there had really been such an old lady, the rich Mrs. T........ L........., who, in consequence of her son’s dissolute life, had been ruined and had gone away to some relations in Norway, where she had died. My uncle also heard that her son was said to have committed suicide at a small village on the Norway coast (all correct as given by "the Spirit").

In short all that could be verified, every detail and circumstance, was verified, and found to be in accordance with my, or rather "the Spirit’s," account; her age, number and name of children, chronological details, in fact everything stated.

When my uncle returned to St. Petersburg he desired to ascertain, as the last and crucial test, whether a petition, such as I had written, had ever been sent to the Emperor. Owing to his friendship with influential people in the Ministere de l’Interieur, he obtained access to the Archives, and there, as he had the correct date and year of the petition, and even the number under which it had been filed, he soon found it, and comparing it with my version sent up to him by my aunt, he found the two to be facsimiles, even to a remark in pencil written by the late Emperor on the margin, which I had reproduced as exactly as any engraver or photographer could have done.

Well, was it the genuine spirit of Mrs. L........ who had guided my medium hand? Was it really the spirit of her son F........ who had produced through me in his handwriting all those posthumous lamentations and wailings and gushing expressions of repentance?

Of course, any spiritualist would feel certain of the fact. What better identification, or proof of spirit identity; what better demonstration of the survival of man after death, and of his power to revisit earth and communicate with the living, could be hoped for or even conceived?

But it was nothing of the kind, and this experience of my own, which hundreds of persons in Russia can affirm - all my own relations to begin with - constitutes, as you will see, a most perfect answer to the spiritualists.

About one year after my uncle’s visit to St. Petersburg, and when the excitement following this perfect verification had barely subsided, D........, an officer who had served in my father’s regiment, came to Tiflis. He had known me as a child of hardly five years old, had played constantly with me, had shown me his family portraits, had allowed me to ransack his drawers, scatter his letters, &c., and, amongst other things, had often shown me a miniature upon ivory of an old lady in cap and white curls and green shawl, saying it was his old aunty, and teazing me, when I said she was old and ugly, by declaring that one day I should be just as old and ugly.

To go through the whole story would be tedious; to make matters short, let me say at once that D........ was Mrs. L........’s nephew - her sister’s son.

Well, he came to see us often (I was 14 then), and one day asked for us children to be allowed to visit him in the camp. We went with our Governess, and when there I saw upon his writing-table the old miniature of his aunt, my spirit! I had quite forgotten that I had ever seen it in my childhood. I only recognized her as the spirit who for nearly six years had almost nightly visited me and written through me, and I almost fainted. "It is, it is the spirit," I screamed; "it is Mrs. T........ L........"

"Of course, it is, my old aunt; but you don’t mean to say that you have remembered all about your old play thing all these years?" said D........ who knew nothing about my spirit-writing. "I mean to say I see and have seen your dead aunt, if she is your aunt, every night for years; she comes to write through me." "Dead?" he laughed, "But she is not dead. I have only just received a letter from her from Norway," and he then proceeded to give full details as to where she was living and all about her.

That same day D......... was let into the secret by my aunts, and told of all that had transpired through my mediumship. Never was a man more astounded than was D........, and never were people more taken aback than were my venerable aunts, spiritualists, sans le savoir.

It then came out that not only was his aunt not dead, but that her son F........., the repentant suicide, l’esprit soufrant, had only attempted suicide, had been cured of his wound, and was at the time, (and may be to this day), employed in a counting house in Berlin.

Well then, who or what was "the intelligence" writing through my hand, giving such accurate details, dictating correctly every word of her petition, &c., and yet romancing so readily about her death, his sufferings after death, &c., &c.? Clearly despite the full proofs of identity, not the spirits of the worthy Mrs. T........ L......., or her scapegrace son F......., since both these were still in the land of the living. "The evil one," said my pious aunts; "the Devil of course," bluntly said the Priest. Elementaries, some would suppose, but according to what --------- (3) has told me, it was all the work of my own mind. I was a delicate child. I had hereditary tendencies to extra-normal exercise of mental faculties, though, of course, perfectly unconscious then of anything of the kind. Whilst I was playing with the miniature, the old lady’s letters and other things, my fifth principle [Manas] (call it animal soul, physical intelligence, mind, or what you will,) was reading and seeing all about them in the astral light, just as does the mind of a clairvoyant when in sleep; what it so saw and read was faithfully recorded in my dormant memory, although, a mere babe as I was, I had no consciousness of this.

Years after, some chance circumstance, some trifling association of ideas, again put my mind in connection with these long forgotten, or rather I should say never hitherto consciously recognized pictures, and it began one day to reproduce them. Little by little the mind, following these pictures into the astral light, was dragged as it were into the current of Mrs. L.......’s personal and individual associations and emanations, and then the mediumistic impulse given, there was nothing to arrest it, and I became a medium, not for the transmission of messages from the dead, not for the amusement of elementaries, but for the objective reproduction of what my own mind read and saw in the astral light.

It will be remembered that I was weak and sickly, and that I inherited capacities for such abnormal exercise of mind - capacities which subsequent training might develop, but which at that age would have been of no avail, had not feebleness of physique, a looseness of attachment, if I may so phrase it, between the matter and spirit, of which we are all composed, abnormally, for the time, developed them. As it was, as I grew up, and gained health and strength, my mind became as closely prisoned in my physical frame as that of any other person, and all these phenomena ceased.

How, while so accurate as to so many points, my mind should have led me into killing both mother and son, and producing such orthodox lamentations by the latter over his wicked act of self-destruction, may be more difficult to explain.

But from the first all around me were impressed with the belief that the spirit possessing me must be that of a dead person, and from this probably my mind took the impression. Who the Lutheran Pastor was who had performed the last sad rite, I never knew - probably some name I had heard, or seen in some book, in connection with some deathbed scene, picked out of memory by the mind to fill a gap, in what it knew.

Of the son's attempt at suicide I must have heard in some of the mentally read letters, or have come across it or mention of it in the astral light, and must have concluded that death had followed, and since, young though I was, I knew well how sinful suicide was deemed, it is not difficult to understand how the mind worked out the apparently inevitable corollary. Of course, in a devout house like ours, God, the Virgin Mary and Angels were sure to play a part, as these had been ground into my mind from my cradle.

Of all this perception and deception, however, I was utterly unconscious. The fifth principle worked as it listed; my sixth principle [Buddhi] or spiritual soul or consciousness was still dormant, and therefore for me the seventh principle [Atman] at that time may be said not to have existed.

But I am straying from my purpose, which simply was to show that the most perfect proofs of spirit identity, I mean apparent proofs, are utterly fallacious, and that spiritualists, who base their theories on these supposed proofs, are truly building their house upon the sand.


(1) This letter was probably written by Madame Blavatsky to A.O. Hume in December 1881.

(2) In a letter (dated Jan. 4, 1882) to Madame Blavatsky, A.O. Hume identified Mrs. T......... L......... as Madame Thekla Lebendorff.  He mentioned HPB's above letter and wrote further:  "But your explanation in this case is not intelligible -- so after trying to make out what you meant  - I have entirely rewritten this out of my inner consciousness -  Buddha knows if I have got on the right scent - I do not - but you will see the proofs [of Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1] and you or the Brothers,? must correct any blunders."  The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, Letter No. 156, p. 306 (online at:

(3) One of the Brothers [Mahatmas].