Published by Blavatsky Study Center.  Online Edition copyright 2007.

H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy:   An Introduction

    "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, popularly called either Madame Blavatsky or simply HPB, stands out as the fountainhead of modern occult thought...." J. Gordon Melton, New Age Encyclopedia, 1990.

    "Helena Petrovna surely among the most original and perceptive minds of her time....[In her two major books]....lies...the first philosophy of psychic and spiritual evolution to appear in the modern West...."  Theodore Roszak. The Unfinished Animal. 1975.

    "Blavatsky's esoteric synthesis has served as a basic source for later esotericists, literati, scientists, and entire movements, including the New Age.   Unlike most of her contemporaries, she is as visible today as any modern trendsetting guru, and she will most likely remain the most memorable and innovative esotericist of the 19th century."  James A. Santucci in Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, 2005.

    The most basic fact of our existence is our awareness of self. We know we are alive but we see that people around us shift and change. Some are born; others die. But does death annihilate our consciousness, as well as destroy the body? Is there some kind of life after death? Why were we born in the first place? And having been born, why do we live? Many are asking, "What's it all about?"

Yet in our modern world, reliable answers to such important questions are hard to discover. Many of us cannot find really satisfying answers from materialistic science, academic philosophy, or orthodox religion (Christian or otherwise). There is also a great proliferation of occult, metaphysical, Eastern and New Age groups offering their own "answers" to these perplexing questions. For the seeker with a genuine hunger for truth, the task of choosing among these conflicting authorities and contradictory answers can be difficult and confusing.

"But surely somewhere," our minds cry out, "there must be available satisfying answers to these questions. Surely somewhere there must be preserved a true universal knowledge concerning humanity and the world in which we live. Surely somewhere there is such a source of wisdom."

During the late 19th century, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) pointed to that Source of Wisdom. She called it the Ancient Wisdom and gave to it the Greek name of Theosophia or Theosophy ("Divine Wisdom" or "the wisdom of the gods"). H.P. Blavatsky stated that there is an ancient school of Adepts or Masters who know directly, inwardly and truly this Divine Wisdom. Madame Blavatsky said that she was taught Theosophy by some of these Adepts.

Madame Blavatsky was the chief founder of the modern Theosophical Movement which was established to form the nucleus of a worldwide association of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color. She is also the author of The Secret Doctrine, the great sourcebook on Theosophy. This work in two large volumes shows the universality and the great age of the Theosophical system of thought. H.P.B. promoted a greater Western acquaintance with Eastern religions and philosophies and brought the teachings of reincarnation and karma into common knowledge in the Western world.

A forceful and gifted individual, H.P. Blavatsky wrote in a forthright and powerful style challenging the confusion and absurdities of religious orthodoxy, exposing some of the fallacies of materialistic science, and assailing some of the claims of 19th century Spiritualism. She presented ideas and teachings which seemed like pretentious nonsense to her orthodox contemporaries. Furthermore, H.P.B. demonstrated psychic powers of a startling character, and said she was in contact with certain highly evolved Masters.

It was inevitable that H.P.B. should make enemies on every hand who published slanderous untruths as to her dishonesty, the fraudulence of her psychic phenomena, the non-existence of her Masters, and the worthlessness of Theosophy. But how much of truth is there in these accusations? Careful, detailed research into the primary source documents clearly shows that the attacks on H.P.B. lack a solid basis.

And though it is still fashionable in some circles to write disparagingly about Madame Blavatsky, the fact is that many of the things she said, that were incomprehensible to 19th century scholarship and science, have been confirmed by scholars and scientists in the last 100 years. Recent developments and advances in parapsychology and transpersonal psychology make it clear that the psychic and spiritual faculties H.P. Blavatsky wrote about and that she herself manifested are actual powers and abilities of the human psyche and spirit.

In order to present the Theosophical or Occult Philosophy to the world, Madame Blavatsky wrote Isis Unveiled (1877), The Secret Doctrine (1888), The Key to Theosophy (1889), The Voice of the Silence (1889) and other works.

What did H.P. Blavatsky teach? She outlined the fundamental principles of Theosophy which deal with (1) the unity of LIFE, (2) the law of cycles, and (3) the progressive unfoldment of consciousness in all kingdoms of nature (both visible and invisible). H.P.B. taught the origin and development of the universe and the origin and evolution of humanity. She described the birth, growth and death of planets and solar systems, and set forth humanity's evolution and history on this planet. H.P.B. outlined the tree and its branches: the original Esoteric Teaching or Primordial Tradition and some of its branches extant in the various world religions, ancient mythologies, and metaphysical philosophies.

She gave out the truth in detail about the complex sevenfold nature (spiritual and psychological) of a human being and about life after death. She taught the twin doctrine of karma and reincarnation. Madame Blavatsky also set forth a clear and comprehensive rationale for psychic and spiritualistic, mystical and spiritual phenomena and experiences. Madame Blavatsky taught that self- responsibility, ethics and altruism (service to others) are essential to true spiritual unfoldment. She pointed towards humanity's future destiny and evolution and showed the Path which each of us must travel in order to awaken our latent spiritual powers and abilities and to realize our essential identity with the UNIVERSAL SELF.

What of the influence of Madame Blavatsky and her teachings? During her lifetime, H.P.B.'s brilliant conversations, profound knowledge of occult subjects, and reputation for psychic powers drew worldwide attention to her work. Since her death in 1891, her teachings have influenced the thinking of inquiring minds throughout the world. The writings of H.P. Blavatsky and her Masters furnish suggestions, clues and guidance for the study of Nature and Humanity, such as few other existing sources can supply.

For more information on Madame Blavatsky and the teachings of Theosophy, see

[The above introduction was compiled from various sources.]