Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Madame Blavatsky
and Her "Theosophical" Society

by George Wyld

[Reprinted from George Wyld's Notes on My Life, London,
Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1903, pp. 71-74.]

I think it was in 1879 that, at a dinner party at the house of Mr. Billing, I first met Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott. As I left the house, accompanied by a friend, he asked me what my impression was as to the character of Madame, and my reply was: "She seems to me quite the Kalmuck, and my impression is that she might have been a worn-out actress from some suburban theatre in Paris." But her undoubtedly mediumistic powers, her striking personality, her cleverness and humour, and her evidently kindly instincts interested me; and so out of curiosity, and interest, and belief in her promises, I joined her "Theosophical" Society, and after some two years, I became the President of the British Branch.

On one occasion as I was dining with her at the Billing’s, I observed that she and Colonel Olcott ate very freely of animal food; and this startled me, for she had always taught us that those who eat animal food were never admitted to the higher circles of the occult societies, and I thought to myself, "I wonder if that woman is altogether an impostor." As I asked myself this question, she knocked on her plate with her knife, and when I looked at her she said, smiling" "Not quite so bad as that, doctor;" and we both good humoredly laughed at the comicality of the situation. I think it was also at the same dinner party that she suddenly turned round on Colonel Olcott, who sat a few places from her, engaged in the consumption of animal food, and in an angry and loud voice exclaimed: "You baboon!" This shocked me, for Colonel Olcott was, although very credulous, yet an intelligent, self-denying and kindly man. After dinner was over I took him aside and asked him what Madame Blavatsky meant by so coarsely addressing him at table, and his reply was: "Dr. Wyld, her conduct is a part of my training; and I do not believe there is another man in the United States who would submit as I do to the continual insults I receive at her hands."

On another occasion I was sitting at her side on the drawing-room stairs when she again and again cried out and jumped about; and on my asking her what it all meant, she said: "They won’t let me alone!" and when I asked: "Who won’t let you alone?" she answered: "These Mahatmas are always pinching me to attract my attention!" Lastly, on one occasion when, with a most refined and interesting woman, I was in her society, and the lady asked her what her views as to the nature of Jesus Christ were, she answered: "Madame, I have not the honour of the gentleman’s acquaintance."

I do not idly record these experiences, but because I think it right that her irreverence and vulgarities should be known. For, although she knew some curious Eastern occult secrets of psychical origin, yet it has always seemed to me a marvellous thing how any refined and thoughtful man or woman could continue to believe in this queer woman who smoked so incessantly, as an inspired expounder of the highest spiritual secrets of the human race.

After her departure for India with Colonel Olcott, our British Theosophical Society had regular letters from the latter, but these letters contained no valuable information; and, as President of the British Branch, I felt, with some other members, that our position was somewhat unsatisfactory; and one day when, in this mood, I read in Madame’s Indian Journal (The Theosophist, May, 1882, Supplement, page 6), these words written by herself: "There is no God, personal or impersonal," I at once resigned my position as President, for I argued: "If there be no God (or Theos), of course it is absurd of Madame Blavatsky to pretend to teach Theosophy."

After the most ludicrous exposure by her Cronies, Mr. and Mrs. Colombe, in Madras, concerning the trick cabinet, etc., Madame Blavatsky returned to London and was again surrounded by her credulous worshippers, who enjoyed her noisy and grotesque "occult" conversations. But, although she spoke of me to Mrs. Besant in a kindly way, yet my intense belief in the life, teachings, and works of Jesus Christ were too much for her comfort; and so we never met again. I never felt the least ill-will towards her; on the contrary, I used to find her in some of her moods most entertaining. But I never ceased to wonder at the credulity of her votaries. Her characteristic expression of face seemed to me that of great unhappiness, and after her departure hence, my ejaculation was: "May she rest in peace, and, after due repentance and purgation, rise as on stepping-stones of her dead self to higher things!"