Issues of Theosophical History:
Description of Contents

By the Editor: Dr. James Santucci

 

Vol. XVII Issue 1 January 2014
Vol. XVII Issue 2 April 2014
Vol. XVII Issue 3 July 2014
Vol. XVII Issue 4 October 2014

Back to Past Issues Description of Contents INDEX

 

Vol. XVII, Issue 1 (January 2014)

Besides her considerable contributions to esotericism, H.P. Blavatsky is also well known for her travels and adventures.  Her competence as travel commentator is abundantly displayed in the collection From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan, which constitutes a series of articles originally written in Russian describing various aspects of Indian culture, archeological sites, religious practice, Hindu divinities, prominent individuals, and much more.  It makes for entertaining reading by one who experienced “living in India, unlike the English who were merely surrounded by India at a proper distance” (16).
           
Her experiences in India after 1879 give us a sense of her travels in her earlier life, including a certain degree of embellishment and exaggeration in her descriptions.  An example of an early adventure is an explosion that took place on the steamship Eunomia—on which Blavatsky claimed to be a passenger—on June 21, 1871.  This claim first appeared in the New York Daily Graphic on November 13, 1874, and is now explored in this issue by Erica Georgiades, who provides enough evidence for one to come to the conclusion that she probably was not a passenger on board the Eunomia.  This conclusion is based upon the absence of her name on all three passenger lists quoted in newspaper accounts at the time, as well as Blavatsky’s propensity to exaggerate events and facts.  Apropos the latter claim, Blavatsky claims, in the article appearing in the Daily Graphic, that only seventeen of four hundred passengers survived, both figures exaggerations of the actual numbers: about 100 passengers total on board and between fifty to sixty losing their lives. 
           
An additional example of Blavatsky’s tendency to exaggerate also appears in the same articleTherein, she states that she was married at age sixteen to a seventy-three gentleman, Nikofor Blavatsky.  Far from being an old man he was at the time of the marriage about forty years of age, still much older than Blavatsky, certainly, but whose own age was closer to eighteen.  Given her tendency to manipulate the facts, it is not difficult to lean more to the aforementioned conclusion.  Ms. Georgiades, however, is very cautious in her assessment of the evidence and does not rule out the possibility of Blavatsky being on board the ship, mainly due to the passenger recording procedures of the company that owned the vessel.  One certainly cannot dispute this assessment, so it is best not to form a definitive conclusion regarding Blavatsky’s participation in this episode.  
           
This is not the whole story, however.  A second mystery arises from this account with the inclusion of the enigmatic Agardi Metrovich (or Mitrovitch).  For an opera singer associated with the carbonari who was involved romantically with Blavatsky and who may have accompanied her at the time of the accident, almost nothing is known of him except for Blavatsky’s own recollection in a letter to A.P. Sinnett (no.  LX in The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, 142 – 148), and in The Memoirs of Count Witte (1).  The principal reason for this anonymity is answered by Blavatsky: the name “Metrovich” is a nom de guerre after the name of a Hungarian town of that name (2).  If so, it would explain the difficulty in identifying him.   In any event, the identification of this mysterious individual has been the object of research of Ms. Georgiades, who will present her research at the Theosophical History Conference (see below). 


Erica Georgiades, the author of “H.P. Blavatsky and the Wreck of the S.S. Eunomia,” is known to many in the Theosophical world as chief editor of the electronic magazine Hypatia, the editor of FOTA [The Friends of Theosophical Archives] Newsletter, and steering member of the FOTA Committee. In 2012 she organized an international conference in Greece, “Esoteric Traditions in the Ancient and Contemporary World.”

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In addition to this article, the issue contains remembrances of the author of The Occult Roots of Nazism and Director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, who died in 2012.  The contributions of Dr. Goodrick-Clarke to the field of Western Esotericism and to the Centre cannot be overstated.  Two of his students at Exeter (Jeffrey Lavoie and Tim Rudbøg) and one colleague (Joscelyn Godwin) offer their impressions and memories of Dr. Goodrick-Clarke.

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“Buddhism in New York” originally appeared in the New York Sun and then reprinted in The Day Star in 1886.  The article, introduced by Jerry Hejka-Ekins of Alexandria West Archives in Turlock, California, reveals a Theosophical connection, since there may have been direct contact between the reporter and William Q. Judge, mentioned in the article as President of the Aryan Theosophical Society.  Also of interest is the mention of 1872 (“fourteen years” prior to the year the article appeared: 1886) as the year when the Buddhist movement was inaugurated in New York. It would appear that the “Buddhism” referred to in this article is actually the Theosophical Society, which, of course, was founded a few years later (1875).

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The final entry is Dr. Joscelyn Godwin’s review of Asia Mysteriosa, an important primary document originating from an occult movement, the Polaires.  Of most interest are the individuals associated, directly or indirectly, with the movement, including such figures Arturo Reghini, Maurice Magre, and René Guénon.


(1) Bibliographical information available in the article appearing in this issue, “H.P. Blavatsky and the Wreck of the S.S. Eunomia.”

(2) I could not verify the existence of such a Hungarian locale.  Perhaps “Metro-“ is a reference to the Mátra Hills in northern Hungary; “vich” (“wicz”) indicates a patronymic. 

 

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Vol. XVII, Issue 2 (April 2014)

 

 

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Vol. XVII, Issue 3 (July 2014)

 

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Vol. XVII, Issue 4 (October 2014)