Cardiff Blavatsky Archive

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H P Blavatsky


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Life with H P Blavatsky


Countess Constance Wachtmeister



This account taken from Reminiscences of H P Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine covers the period during the writing of the Secret Doctrine when H P Blavatsky received news of the damaging report by the Society for Psychic Research. This was a very difficult time for H P Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society


The description of a single day will serve to give an idea of the routine

of her life at this time.


At four o'clock I was awakened by the servant coming with a cup of coffee

for Madame Blavatsky, who, after this slight refreshment, rose and dressed, and by seven o'clock was at her desk in the sitting room.


She told me that this was her invariable habit, and that breakfast would be served at eight. After breakfast she settled herself at her writing desk and the day's work began in earnest. At one o'clock dinner was served, whereupon I rang a small handbell to call HPB. Sometimes she would come in at once; at other times her door would remain closed for hours, until our Swiss maid would come to me, with tears in her eyes, to ask what was to be done with Madame's dinner. The dinner then was either getting cold, or dried up, burnt, and utterly spoiled. At last, HPB would come in, weary with so many hours of exhausting labor and fasting; then another dinner would be cooked, or I would send to the hotel to get her some nourishing food. At seven o'clock, she laid aside her writing, and after tea we would spend a pleasant evening together.


Comfortably seated in her big armchair, HPB used to arrange her cards for a game of patience, as she said, to rest her mind. It seemed as if the mechanical process of laying her cards enabled her mind to free itself from the pressure of such concentrated labor of the day's writing. She never cared to talk of Theosophy in the evenings. The mental tension during the day was so severe that she needed, above all things, rest; and so I produced as many journals and magazines as I could to read the articles and passages that I thought most likely to interest and amuse her.


At nine o'clock she went to bed, where she would surround herself with her Russian newspapers and read them until late.


Thus our days passed with the same routine; the only change worth noticing

being that sometimes she would leave the door open between her writing room and the dining room where I sat, and then from time to time we would converse together, or I would write letters for her, or discuss the contents of those we had received.


Our visitors were very few. Once a week the doctor called to enquire after

HPB's health, and he would stay gossiping for more than an hour. Sometimes, but rarely, our landlord would tell a good story of life as he saw it though his spectacles, and many a laugh we had all together - a pleasant interruption to the daily monotony of our work.


At this time I learned little more concerning The Secret Doctrine other than that it was to be a work far more voluminous than Isis Unveiled. It would consist, when completed, of four volumes, and that it would give out to the world as much of the esoteric doctrine as was possible at the present stage of human evolution.


"It will, of course, be very fragmentary," she said, "and there will, of necessity, be great gaps left but it will make men think, and as soon as they are ready more will be given out."


"But that will not be," she added after a pause, "until the next century, when men will begin to understand and discuss this book intelligently."


Soon, however, I was entrusted with the task of making fair copies of HPB's manuscript, and then of course I began to get glimpses of the subject matter of The Secret Doctrine.


I have previously not alluded to the presence at Würzburg of a Hindu gentleman, who for a time, was a prominent figure in our little society.


It was at Adyar one day that an Indian, begrimed with dirt, clad in tattered garments, and with a miserable expression of countenance, made his way into Madame Blavatsky's presence. He cast himself at her feet and with tears in his voice and eyes entreated her to save him. On enquiry it appeared that in a mood of religious exaltation he had wandered away into the jungle with the intention of renouncing society, becoming a "forest-dweller", and devoting himself to religious contemplation and yoga practices. There he had joined a yogi who was willing to accept him as his chela or pupil, and had spent some time in the study of the difficult system of Hatha Yoga, a system which relies almost exclusively on physiological processes for the development of psychic powers.


At last, overcome by terror at his experiences, and the formidable training he had to undergo, he made his escape from his guru. By what circumstances he was led to HPB we don't know, but he reached her, and she comforted him and calmed his mind, clothed and fed him, and then, at his request, began to teach him the truly spiritual path of development, the Raja Yoga philosophy. In return he vowed a life-long devotion, and when she left India for Europe he persuaded her to bring him with her.


He was a little man, of nervous temperament, with bright beady eyes. During the first few days that I spent at Würzburg he was for ever talking to me, translating stories from his Tamil books, and relating all sorts of wonderful adventures that had happened to him when he was in the forest with his Hatha Yoga master. But he did not remain long in Würzburg. Madame Gebhart sent him a cordial invitation to pay her a visit at Elberfeld, and so one morning, after an effusive scene of leave-taking with HPB, during which he declared that she had been more than a mother to him, that life, he departed - I regret to say never to return.

Too soon flattery turned his head and his heart, and the poor little man was false to all that should have been most sacred to him.


I wish to pass very lightly over incidents such as this, which, I am sorry to say, was not an isolated instance of ingratitude and desertion, but was, perhaps the one which affected HPB most painfully. I mention it here to show an example of the mental distress which, added to physical maladies and weakness, rendered progress with her task slow and painful.


The quiet studious life that I have tried to describe continued for some little time, and the work progressed steadily, until one morning, a thunderbolt descended upon us. By the early post, without a word of warning, HPB received a copy of the well known report of the Society fro Psychic research. It was a cruel blow, and, in the form it took, wholly unexpected. I shall never forget that day nor the look of blank and stony despair that she cast on me when I entered her sitting room and found her with the book open in her hands.


“This” she cried “Is the Karma of the Theosophical Society, and it falls upon me. I am the scapegoat. I am made to bear all the sins of the Society and now I am dubbed the greatest impostor of the age, and a Russian spy into the bargain, who will listen to me or read The Secret Doctrine ? How can I carry on Master’s work ? O cursed phenomena, which I only produced to please private friends and instruct those around me. What an awful Karma to bear ! How shall I live through it ? If I die Master’s work will be wasted and the society will be ruined !”


In the intensity of her passion at first she would not listen to reason, but turned against me saying, “ Why don’t you go ? Why don’t you leave me ? You are a Countess, you cannot stop here with a ruined woman, with one held up to scorn before the whole world, one who will be pointed at everywhere as a trickster and an imposter. Go before you are defiled by my shame.


“HPB,” I said, as my eye met hers with a steady gaze, “you know that Master lives and he is your Master, and that the theosophical Society was founded by Him, how then can it perish ? And since I know this as well as you, since for me, now, the truth has been placed beyond the possibility of doubt, how can you for one moment suppose that I could desert you and the Cause we are both pledged to serve ? Why, if every member of the Theosophical Society should prove traitor to that Cause you and I would remain, and would wait and work until the good time come again.”


Letters came in containing nothing but recrimination and abuse, resignation of Fellows and apathy and fears on the part of those who remained. It was a trying time; and the very existence of the Theosophical Society seemed threatened, and HPB felt as if it were crumbling away from under her feet.




The situation does improve and a clear indication of HPB’s resilience is given in a letter from Countess Wachtmeister to A P Sinnet



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Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge, 206 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 – 1DL