Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Blavatsky and the Theosophists
(Letters from Abroad)

by Vera P. Zhelihovsky

Translated from the Russian by G.T.

This article is translated from Odesskiy Vestnik, No.123, 
June 5, 1884, pp.1-3 (reprinted in Rebus, No. 28, July 15, 1884, 
pp. 263-265 and No. 29, July 22, 1884, pp. 273-275.)


Paris, May 25th (June 6th)[, 1884]
Notre Dame des champs, 46.

I'm taking my pen to describe the most astonishing manifestations of the occult force ever observed by me and perhaps by those present. But first let me say a few words as to under what circumstances and by whom they were produced. The lady we will be speaking about is quite well-known in Europe and Russia, so we can proceed without lengthy introductions; just to mention her name is enough to arouse a broad scope of reflections in the minds of all and every intelligent person. To the shame of the press, and to her misfortune, though, most of these reflections will be false: simply because the accounts published about her by the newspapers have been false and too often malicious. The lady in question is our compatriot Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who even in the last few days has been presented by the “Nov[oye] Vremya”, and numerous other newspapers, as having come to Paris to destroy Christianity and to erect a temple to Buddha. Never ever has she or her co-workers—fellows of the Theosophical Society—even dreamed about such a thing! Both founders of this Society—Colonel Henry Olcott (its President) and H.P. Blavatsky—have too great a respect for a man's freedom of conscience and beliefs to infringe upon them with the propaganda of religious principles. One of the first, and keenly adhered to, rules of the Society forbids any involvement in religion or politics. Theirs is a purely moral–philosophical–scientific undertaking: to search and to strive for truth in everything; to pursue all the self-realization within human reach; to expand one's scientific and philosophical concepts; to refine the powers of one's soul, of all the psychic facets of human existence, so to say, and to toil for universal brotherhood in its broadest sense—the one which implies the utmost (and unfortunately almost unattainable on Earth) ideal: establishing universal peace and strengthening love and selflessness among humankind, all personal feelings and self-indulgence notwithstanding. At the same time, though every fellow of the Theosophical Society is completely free to remain a Christian, a Muslim or simply a deist, while striving against gross materialism, it is true that the personal beliefs of its founders and closest co-workers (who have their headquarters in Adyar [1]) as well as the majority of the fellows from other Branches, especially the European ones [2], are rooted in the principles of Buddhism, the latter fact obviously provoking the ridiculous rumors about the Buddhist propaganda in Europe. The highest teachers of the Theosophical brotherhood—Hindu Mahatmas, Brahman-recluses living in the Tibetan mountains—are Buddhists. Very few have access to these sublime and mysterious individualities. Theosophists call them “khozyayeva”. In English this is masters; Mme. Blavatsky, however, translates it not as “uchitel' ” [teacher], but as “khozyain” [master, boss]—in a broader sense and precisely because these Indian sages, possessing deep learning and endowed with truly magical—as far as our simple understanding goes—powers of occultism, have enormous command and influence over them, although the chosen ones with whom they have direct contact, are but few. Their chelas, disciples, initiated by them into numerous mysteries of nature and of human latent powers (forces occultes) are finding loyal, chosen persons and transmitting to them their will and intentions. At the same time we cannot ignore the evidence supplied by very many people [3] to the effect that the commands of their particular “master” (one of the aforementioned mahatmas presented, under the fictitious name of Gulab-Lal-Singh, in the stories about India that H.P. Blavatsky composed and signed Radda-Bai), are reaching them directly through special messages found by them unexpectedly, not only in their rooms but also during their travels, in train carriages and on ships. These messages, written in English or in French, never bear any postal marks, and the envelopes are of a special shape and paper, always bearing the same hieroglyphic design done in a peculiar bright red color. I was shown many letters of this kind, and although I have never seen them falling out of the sky, here is what I saw with my own eyes on two occasions. We were all sitting together a few days ago when a certain Mr. Judge, Secretary of the Society, received in his mail a letter from America, which he opened at once. Immediately he paid attention, not to the contents, but to several words underlined in red pencil and to a phrase written across the letter, also in red, signed with the familiar name of  “master…”. One should take into account that the letter had never been in India or Tibet. One may object that nothing would have prevented Mr. Judge's correspondent in New York from inserting the red line himself, as if it came from the “master”. I agree, and I admit that at the beginning I myself was entertaining this thought, but here is what made me change my opinion. About two days later at the usual hour the mail was brought in by the postman…  But first I should mention that at the very same time Mme. Blavatsky was attending to the complaints of a very young fellow, our guest, regarding his mother. You see, Mr. Keightley had come to Paris with the sole aim of making a closer acquaintance with the fellows of the Theosophical Society, after studying their doctrines through books. He had become an ardent Theosophist and he had even completely given up animal food and alcohol to be worthy of those whom he held as an example and to be granted a personal manifestation by the Tibetan masters (all Theosophists are sincere and convinced vegetarians, because of their belief that animal blood negatively affects the human spirit and higher powers; they abstain also from alcohol). In short, Mr. Keightley bitterly complained about his mother who demanded that he either return to her in Liverpool or proceed with his “continental journey” undertaken for recuperative reasons.

“My mother is deadly afraid that I will forsake my affairs and follow you to Madras!” he said. “That’s egoism and distrust on her part! I told her I will not leave her while she is alive, but she knows only too well that for me the real meaning of life is in Theosophy, in your teachings, and that I ardently want to live in the center, where you live and work!

At that moment a postman arrived and one of the numerous letters was from Liverpool, from Mrs. Keightley to her son. He opened it without much haste but suddenly a frightened and amazed expression covered his face and he turned crimson… In the letter, his mother’s words concerning children’s duty to pay respect to their parents and be obedient to them were underlined in red, with the well known signature… One must admit it was not likely that the mother who opposed her son’s passion for Theosophy would herself try to convince him of his prophets’ omnipotence? Nevertheless it could well have been that Mr. Keightley would have postponed obeying his mother had not Colonel Olcott (President of the Society) returned from London, and sent him on his way [home], insisting that he meet his mother’s demands. Mme. de M***, Secretary of the Society’s Parisian branch (the President of that branch being Lady Caithness, Duchesse de Pomar, famous for her wealth), personally told me that a letter “du maitresent in time—a letter in its original envelope which she found enclosed within another completely unrelated letter—had undoubtedly saved her from suicide and led her to devote herself to the cause of Theosophy with all her heart and soul. These are facts. Now let us talk about other facts, no less wonderful.

I won't be telling you what I heard from other people—about “natural phenomena” produced by adepts, mahatmas’ pupils, through the power of well developed occult knowledge; I only will speak of what I witnessed myself and what other witnesses can confirm. On the evening of May 8th (old style) we all gathered in the reception-room of the small premises occupied by the founders of the Theosophical Society and their retinue in Paris. As usual there were scores of visitors, but after midnight only Professor Turman, Ph.D., remained. He took his time telling about his dissatisfaction with Parisian mediums, about the futility of the sessions of  Leymarie’s spiritistic circle—nothing remarkable had been happening there for a long time. In his opinion, the most interesting manifestation witnessed by him recently during a spiritistic session were musical sounds heard in darkness. H.P. Blavatsky, sitting in her armchair and playing Russian patience, laughed and asked what that had to do with darkness… “Where there is no deception, darkness is not necessary!” Saying this she put away the cards, raised her hand as if going to throw something and said: “Listen!”

Instantly a harmonious sound, as if of a harp or a zither, was heard coming from the room towards which she had waved her hand… It sounded and softly died away in the air. She raised her hand again, waving in another direction—the same phenomenon took place! All of us around her jumped up, amazed, with bated breath. Once again, for the third time she waved her hand—this time towards the bronze chandelier hanging from the middle of the ceiling, and immediately the chandelier, answering her imperative gesture, responded with a chord as if there were unseen strings on all its hornlets… Afterwards H.P. repeated this phenomenon several times, once on May 19th in the presence of several representatives of the Parisian press and scientific circles, among them Professor Olivier  from a local university and an inveterate psychologist. 

But this is nothing in comparison with further manifestations of her occult power.

For example, on the morning of May 23rd we were again in the reception-room: at the table in the middle of the room Mme. de Morsier was sitting, chatting with Mr. Judge, the Secretary, and the Brahman Mohini (the main preacher of the Theosophical doctrine, as well as mentor to those who wanted to get acquainted with Buddhism), discussing affairs of the Society, signing different papers, diplomas of new members and so on. H.P. Blavatsky and her sister were sitting on the right. A few steps to the left Colonel Olcott was talking with a well known Russian writer, Vsevolod Sergeyevich Solovyev. They were discussing the effect of magnetism, with which the honorable President of the Theosophical Society had been treating the writer for several days. As usual at this time mail was brought in and one of the letters was addressed to Mme. Blavatsky’s aunt N[adezhda] A[ndreyevna] Fadeyeva who was then staying with her.

Mme. Blavatsky picked up the letter and naming its author (an easy task, the handwriting on the envelope being quite familiar to her and to her sister) said: “It would be interesting to know what she is writing.”

“Well! That should not be difficult for you: read—through the envelope,” she was told.

“I'll try!” She put the sealed letter to her forehead.

People around were talking loudly in English and French, but the noise notwithstanding, Mme. Blavatsky almost immediately started telling her sister in Russian what she had been mentally reading from the letter. Her sister then drew the attention of those present to what she was doing and gave her a piece of paper asking her to write down the contents of the letter.

“Aha! You don’t believe me!” Helena Petrovna laughed. “Well!”

And having put her left hand on both the sealed letter and the piece of paper given to her, she started with her right hand to write quickly on the paper, using the first pencil she came across, which happened to be red at one end and blue at the other. Certainly everybody present, Mr. Solovyev especially, paid close attention to what was going on. He listened to what his compatriot loudly dictated to herself, mentally reading and rewriting the Russian letter.

Mme. Blavatsky finished with the words: “Best regards to Helena Petrovna!!”

“Nonsense,” interrupted her sister. “There cannot be such a ceremonious greeting to you!”

“But there is! And to prove that I'm reading not the general meaning but authentic sentences, I have written down several phrases literally, using the very same words,” Mme. Blavatsky answered firmly. She signed her writing using the name of the author of the authentic letter, then turned the pencil with its red end down, underlined her name in the sentence “Best regards to Helena”, and then immediately, on her own piece of paper under the name of the authentic author, she drew a theosophical six-pointed star, adding loudly with her invincible will: “I want these red signs to go from here into the letter, at the very same place!” 

And forcefully striking the sealed message, she tossed it back to her sister, saying:  “Tien[s]! C’est fait!” (Take it! It’s done!)

All that had happened, as well as the letter Helena Petrovna had written, was translated to those who didn’t understand Russian. The letter was immediately passed to the addressee, and when Mme. Fadeyeva opened it, its contents turned out to be exactly as Mme. Blavatsky had put them down, some phrases even used the same wording; and in the words “Best regards to Helena Petrovna” her name was underlined by red pencil and there was a red six-pointed star under the signature! And even the stroke of her pencil was reproduced as if a photo had been taken…

This amazing fact was duly recorded, the paper signed by all the witnesses, and it is now in the hands of the author of these lines.

The next equally remarkable phenomenon which unfortunately took place without many witnesses, when only Mme. Blavatsky's relatives and Mr. Solovyev were present, was nevertheless certified by his signature and also sent, together with the previous document, to the editor of the “Odesskiy Vestnik”.

It took place on the evening of the following day, May 24th (old style).  H.P. Blavatsky was not well and didn’t go to the Theosophical Society meeting which was held at the hotel of Count de Barro (rue de Varennes, 51). She asked her sister to deliver her excuse, which her sister did, having gone to the meeting together with the President of the Society. The meeting had hardly commenced when Mme. Blavatsky’s sister developed a terrible headache as well as an incomprehensible but most definite desire to return home. She told this to Mr. Solovyev who was sitting beside her and who fully approved of her desire to spend the evening with her sick sister. He offered to accompany her in a cab which was waiting for him outside. They departed unnoticed and in ten minutes they were back at Notre Dame des Champs, 46. They both entered, Mr. Solovyev being invited in by Mme. Blavatsky. The four of them (Mme. Fadeyeva was also present) made themselves comfortable in the same “miraculous” reception-room, at the tea-table, and soon the conversation, as was to be expected, turned to mystical subjects. In the life of everyone present there were more things “than are dreamt of in your philosophy”, especially in the life of Helena Petrovna. She was asked to detail as minutely as possible how she had acquired her wonderful occult abilities and who exactly her wonderful “gurus”–masters were. Telling about them things that it would be out of place to repeat here, Helena Petrovna suggested that they look at the portrait of her own master, a Brahman–sage, whose name she was unwilling to see in print. She opened a large flat and quite smooth medallion she always wore as a pendant. Everybody examined, touched and weighed this medallion which contained a portrait, in full color, of a handsome man with a Roman profile, jet-black beard and white turban. It was (and still is) a single-portrait medallion, with no place for another portrait on its flat lid. Helena Petrovna examined it too, then put it on again and told us that in Madras she had her own portrait which was drawn by her master. Suddenly something strange happened, something quite difficult to convey in words. As if the air became more rarefied or stifling!… Something definitely was taking our breath away. Helena Petrovna covered her eyes with her hand and said:  “You know! I feel that something will happen here now… There will be some phenomenon! He will do it!…”

She meant her teacher, “the master”, whom she considered omnipotent. She immediately asked her aunt, Mme. Fadeyeva, to wish something: that he should bring her something, appear in person

But we all were taken aback and nobody could think about anything. We all started to say: let him do or bring anything he wishes

At that very moment Mr. Solovyev, staring at a certain point in the room, said that he saw a kind of a fiery oval sphere, a kind of radiant light-blue fiery egg… Hardly had he uttered these words than a musical sound was heard from the antechamber (the door to it was left open for coolness) as if somebody had quietly touched the strings of a harp—the same sound all those present had heard before, but more sonorous.

The chord was repeated again and again, and then died away…

Mme. Blavatsky’s sister stood up and went into the antechamber which was brightly lit by a lamp. It goes without saying that everything was quiet there and it was empty. A servant boy brought from India, who alone was at home, was asleep in the kitchen, the door to which was tightly shut. You may believe or not the following truthful story, but this is what happened next. When Helena Petrovna’s sister returned into the reception-room she found H.P. sitting at the same place between her aunt and Mr. Solovyev, but at the same time she clearly saw a shadow or some gray-colored image of a man who was moving away from her towards the wall and suddenly disappearing there… This man, or his immaterial image, was of short stature and wore a kind of robe and a turban. This vision lasted about a second but she had a good look at him, and immediately described him, being quite frightened herself. Those present had scarcely calmed down after these strange events when they were again stunned by another phenomenon, this time quite obvious and material. Mme. Blavatsky opened her medallion once again, saying that she had felt something strange in it. Then she looked round quite amazed…

There were two portraits in it, not one!

One was the same as before, but opposite it, firmly fixed under the glass in the oval of its lid, was her own portrait mentioned a while before.

Everybody in turn picked up the medallion. It was examined, touched, weighed… There could be no doubt: it was simply inconceivable that four persons could have visual hallucinations at the same time.

The Indian servant was woken up and asked where was Blavatsky’s portrait made in Adyar “by the Master”?—“It was left in Adyar, in the bronze casket in your glass dresser,” the boy answered without hesitating.

Silently Helena Petrovna opened the medallion. The Indian nearly cried with surprise but then immediately said:  “It's the Master who brought it!”

But that was not the end to the wonderful happenings of that evening. When a quarter of an hour later Helena Petrovna complied with her sister's wish and once again opened the miraculous medallion which all the time had been closely watched by literally everybody in the room—her portrait was gone It had disappeared without any trace as had the glass and the frame… The only sign of the presence of some invisible being who had freely transformed the contents of the medallion which had constantly been in sight of everybody present, were the same harmonious sounds, chords and scales, heard from time to time from different sides. Now, I must go on and tell everything, though I have to admit that personally I do not like the conclusion—because it reminds me of final tricks of prestidigitators: towards the end of the evening, when Colonel Olcott and his secretaries as well as the Brahman returned from the meeting and we all started to tell them what had happened, and when Mr. Solovyev was about to leave—the portrait was found at the bottom of his hat… He took it with him after all of us unanimously agreed that the guru (teacher), or the mahatma (sage), or the “Master–khozyain”—whoever he was—had presented it to Mr. Solovyev [4].

All these happenings, which to common mortals seem quite miraculous, are explained by Theosophists who deeply believe in Buddhist teachings as evidence, apparently irrefutable, of the ability possessed by everyone's astral body to separate from the flesh; and because this fine and so to say gasiform shell of a human being (which in their opinion is preserved for some time after death) has nothing to do with either time, or distance—just like the soul—it can therefore move freely where thought or will attracts it and produce all sorts of so-called phenomena… We will not discuss whether this is true or not; here we present only real events which cannot be fraud (they took place quite openly and were attentively observed by three participants), much less synchronous error or delusion of senses and thought which would otherwise put them on the verge of madness.

As to the first phenomenon—the transmitting of a letter's contents and certain red pencil signs—the Theosophical teaching explains it by purely natural means, as a simple display of human will, acting upon magnetic currents hidden in every human body. Here is an explanation given by Colonel Olcott.

In these cases, what acts as the pre-eminent force is duly developed human will, which principle, according to occult teachings, is inherent in the divine ego, immortal soul or spirit. In order to be able to analyze phenomena like these we have to understand, that among the concealed, almost unknown and uninvestigated powers of human existence there is a force of attraction and transference or movement of atoms. In our case, Mme. Blavatsky attracted atoms of her pencil’s color, kept them together, merged them with her nervous or vital force, and caused them to penetrate, to run like an electric current through her body all the way from her right hand and into the extremities of the left, then to make their way through microscopic inlets which are necessarily part of every kind of paper, and to settle exactly where her concentrated will had appointed them to be.

This is explanation given by the President of the Theosophical Society which I convey without any responsibility on my part. As to the correct transmission of the letter’s contents it is such a common case of clairvoyance that it hardly needs explanation.



[1]  In India, near Madras.

[2]  All in all, the Society comprises 125 Branches.

[3]  Aside from the founders of the Society I shall name but a few: Mr. Judge from Ireland; Mohini—the Brahman; Mme. de Morsier from Paris; Mr. B. Keightley—a lawyer from England, etc. who have all spoken about this and demonstrated these letters and notes. 

[4]  I was told that after their return Mohini, the Brahman, immediately fixed his eyes upon the mantelpiece where Mr. Solovyev’s hat was and said several times that he saw a hand appearing there for a moment—but I was not there at that time. I entered when Mr. Solovyev was already saying good bye.