Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky(1831-1891) was nothing but another charlatan in a long line of fraudsters who have tried to exploit the story of Atlantis. However, she and her ilk are frequently quoted as ‘authorities’ on the subject. Consequently I felt obliged to give some of her history in order to bring some perspective into her rather dubious credentials.
Blavatsky was born in Ekaterinoslav, now known as Dnepropetrovsk in the Ukraine. She had a colourful life including a stint as a circus bareback rider to being a professional pianist. She was born in the Ukraine and married a Russian military man, who was a provincial governor. After a brief period she left him and embarked on extensive travels in the East, during which she claims to have spent seven years studying in Tibet. Eventually, she ended up in New York and became a co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Theosophy is an occult philosophical religious system allegedly based on ancient Hindu writings. She claimed to have had direct contact with two dead Tibetan Mahatmas. In 1877, Blavatsky published a huge, two-volume book called Isis Unveiled. It contained ONE page on Atlantis in which she presented her views regarding Atlantis. She claimed that the people of Atlantis were the “fourth race” on Earth. She said they were a super-human people who lived long before human beings. According to Blavatsky, the era of Atlantis lasted for eight to ten million years, and the cataclysms that caused its main continental formations to sink happened as much as four to five million years ago. She believed Atlanteans had amazing psychic powers. However, they were corrupted by a great dragon king, Thevetat, and turned into wicked magicians who started a war that destroyed Atlantis.
In 1884, following accusations by the Indian press that she was promoting a deception, the London Society for Psychical Research carried out an investigation and the following year declared that Blavatsky was a fraud.
In her next book, The Secret Doctrine,published after her death, Blavatsky tells much more about her Atlantis. In that book she comments on an ancient text that she claims to have been written in Atlantis. She tells how the survivors of Atlantis settled in Egypt and built the pyramids about 100 thousand years ago. A far cry from the conventionally accepted, though sometimes disputed, date of around 2600 BC for their construction. In 1893, W.E. Coleman made a study(c)(e)of her books and concluded that they were the result of a remarkable act of plagiarism. Isis Unveiledwas calculated to contain at least 2,000 passages copied without credit. A core of around 100 books were used which in turn quoted with references to a further 1,400 works. By the time Secret Doctrinewas being ‘assembled’ Ignatius Donnelly’s first book had been published and was also subjected to Blavatsky’s style of literary cannibalism.
*Coleman concluded his analysis with the following observation; “ There is not a single dogma or tenet in theosophy, nor any detail of moment in the multiplex and complex concatenation of alleged revelations of occult truth in the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and the pretended adepts, the source of which cannot be pointed out in the world’s literature. From first to last, their writings are dominated by a duplex plagiarism, – plagiarism in idea, and plagiarism in language.” *
Theosophy spawned a number of breakaway groups and has inspired quite a number on the lunatic fringe of Atlantis writers. Anthroposophy, a concoction of Rudolf Steiner, was one of these. Blavatsky has done nothing to advance the study of the Atlantis mystery, instead with her deceit; she only muddied the waters further. Since Atlantis had disappeared through flooding, it was possible to write almost anything about it, without any real danger of being definitively refuted. It is rather like libelling the dead; they can’t come back to prove you wrong. To-day Blavatsky is often referred to as “the grandmother of the New Age movement”.
For further information you can view a website(a) devoted to Blavatsky. A further site(b) outlines in some detail the level of plagiarism that she engaged in.
In 2013, Gary Lachman, the musician and occult writer, published a book attempting to rehabilitate Blavatsky and followed up with an article in the June edition of Fortean Times of the same year promoting the book. Jason Colavito has written a review(d) of the FT article. Colavito has also debunked(f) the claim that Blavatsky had discovered the theory of relativity before Einstein, an idea put forward by her grand-nephew Boris de Zirkoff (1902-1981).