Keely and Theosophy
It is impossible to talk about the Theosophical Society without mentioning Helena Blavatski , the two being virtually synonymous.
There are a number of biographies of her available that appear to have only one thing in common. The all vary wildly from each other in important detail. I quote here Matthew Mulligan Goldstein, University of Texas, who seems to put it into a nutshell in his introduction.
Although familiar to Yeats scholars for the impression made on the young poet by her peculiar brand of occultism, Helena Petrovna "Madame" Blavatsky (1831-1891) remains for most critics and historians an obscure, if vaguely absurd, figure. The Ukrainian-born aristocrat, accounts of whose life prior to her 1873 arrival in the US are notoriously unreliable, founded the Theosophical Society in New York on September 18, 1875. The charter of the Theosophical Society, the brainchild of Blavatsky and an American traveling companion, Henry Steel Olcott, established the group to teach westerners the value of Asian religions, promote worldwide brotherhood, and "collect and diffuse knowledge of the laws which govern the universe."
And further in his paper:
The adventures Blavatsky is said to have had before passing through Ellis Island include a brief hitch with Garibaldi's troops in Sicily during Italy's war of unification, an adulterous affair with the great Russian tenor Mitrovich, and an apprenticeship with a shadowy band of Egyptian mystics known as the Brotherhood of Luxor.
Blavatsky returned from her globetrotting with a philosophy cobbled together from, among other places, pharonic wisdom texts, Sanskrit poetry, and renaissance neoplatonist tracts, and attempted to launch a movement of intellectuals and religious thinkers devoted to truth-seeking through supernaturalism. Her exotic, Orientalized approach to spiritualist teachings went over exceptionally well, for a while, in both the US and, later, England, where by the 1870s table-rapping, materializations, and planchette-manipulation were rapidly falling out of fashion with the darkened-parlor set.
Her massive 1877 treatise on occult knowledge, Isis Unveiled, most of which Blavatsky claimed to have channeled while in a trancelike state, went through three press runs of a thousand copies apiece the year it was published, and it has since sold half a million copies to date. Well substantiated charges that Blavatsky plagiarized much of the work has done little over the course of the last century to slow its sales.
She moved to India, landing at Bombay Feb 16 1879. By 1882 the Theosophical Society became an international organization, and it was at this time that she moved the headquarters to Adyar near Madras, India.
The following quote is from a pamphlet of the Theosophical Society (undated):
In 1884, while Blavatsky was traveling in Europe, disgruntled TS employees in India went to the missionaries with forged documents, bringing charges of fraud against her. The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) then sent Richard Hodgson to investigate the charges, and subsequently published an unfavorable report.
Under the strain, Blavatsky's health had broken down, and in 1885 she left India for Europe, where she continued to write The Secret Doctrine, her masterwork. In 1887 she settled in London, and began a new magazine Lucifer ("Light-bringer"). In 1888 The Secret Doctrine was published and, in the same year, aided by W. Q. Judge, she formed the Esoteric Section of The Theosophical Society. Shortly afterwards she wrote The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence. In 1890 she became head of a newly-established European Section. She died in London on May 8, 1891 after many years of chronic illness.
This is a rough and ready biography cobbled together from the bits where most biographers agree.
It is fair to say that even in the most sympathetic biographies Helena Blavatsky does not come across as a very nice person. She was ruthless, autocratic, secretive, power hungry, manipulative and outright dishonest. She was also articulate and highly intelligent. Her command of English was excellent, considering she learned the language in a later stage of her life.
She swore like a trooper, chainsmoked cigarettes, indulged in marijuana frequently and was prone to throw temper tantrums and suffer psychotic or neurotic episodes. Although she was known to have affairs, some adulterous, was married twice and had a child, a hunchbacked son who died at the age of five, by her lover she maintained in later years that she was still a virgin.
Just shy of sixty, she died on May 8, 1891, after years of chronic illness caused by her obesity and lifestyle.
In Keely's time she was the undisputed leader of the Theosophical Society. Her word was law and in many ways still is after all these years.
She preyed on the gullible, the desperate and the confused who saw in her the master who would lead them out of strife and into enlightenment.
If her followers were wealthy, so much the better. They were singled out for special treatment.
For Blavatsky occultism was the road to unimaginable power and eventual immortality. It is evident from her writings that she felt that there was occult knowledge "out there" that would open that road for her if only she could get her hands on it.
Her approach was simple and brilliant. She appointed the Theosophical Society, and thereby herself, as the guardian of occult knowledge on Earth. Using the organisation and the wherewithal of her wealthy clients she acquired by any means possible anything that was deemed of interest.
The Theosophical Society has one of the largest collections of occult material on the planet, possibly rivalling the collection held by the Vatican.
Some of this collection is available to members for study. Much of it, the really interesting stuff, is only accessible to members that are deemed sufficiently advanced and worthy of specific materials that are strictly controlled by the inner group. I have it on good authority that there is also one section that is locked up for all until some awaited cosmic event takes place, perhaps the return of Helena Blavatsky.
The masses are fed the usual garbage, mostly writings by Blavatski herself, Charles Leadbeater, who was for sometime exiled to Ceylon because of his naughty habit of introducing little boys to the art of masturbation and was later readmitted to the society for whatever reason I cannot make out, Alice Bailey, whose voluminous incomprehensible works bear the following disclaimer "The books that I have written are sent out with no claim for their acceptance. They may, or may not, be correct, true and useful. It is for you to ascertain their truth by right practice and by the exercise of the intuition", Annie Besant, ex Women's Liberationist, Fabianist and Marxist who turned to Theosophy in 1889 after meeting Blavatsky and became her successor after Blavatsky's death in 1891, and of course Clara Bloomfield Moore.
Keely was a God-sent for Blavatski. His machines and his explanations were in line with her own thinking and she firmly believed he was uncovering the secret of ultimate power. This she wanted for herself.
I am certain it was Blavatski that that convinced Clara Bloomfield-Moore to fund Keely when he looked like going bankrupt. In today's money Bloomfield-Moore funded Kelly to the tune of many millions.
We know that Keely wrote several treatises, all of which have disappeared. Bloomfield-Moore lists some of them in her book and quotes from others. Helena Blavatski quotes from the same sources.
It is evident that the Theosophical Society was in possession of these texts at the time or both these ladies could not have written what they did. Ask about them today and the Society will deny having any such material. Stuff like that does not get lost in the archives of the Theosophical Society.
It is further evident that the Theosophical Society had and still has a vested interest in suppressing Keely's work.
In Chapter X of The Secret Doctrine by Madame Blavatsky it is made perfectly clear how powerful Keely's discoveries are and why they must be suppressed by any means possible. I have included the chapter unedited save for the highlighting of the relevant passages.
It is noteworthy here that everything we know about Keely, apart from newspaper articles and a few photographs has come to us via the Theosophical Society, suitably edited I should judge. More of that in my chapter What Happened to Keely's Work.
WHAT HAPPENED TO KEELY'S WORK
Hans von Lieven, copyright