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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/463

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THE MODERN OCCULT.

in New York in October, 1875. Mme. Blavatsky directed the thought of this society to the doctrines of Indian occultism, and reported the appearance in New York of a Hindu Mahatma, who left a turban behind him as evidence of his astral visit. Later Mme. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott (who remained her staunch supporter, but whom she referred to in private as a 'psychologized baby') went to India and at Adyar established a shrine from which were mysteriously issued answers to letters placed within its recesses, from which inaccessible facts were revealed and a variety of interesting marvels performed. Discords arose within her household and led to the publication by M. and Mme. Coulomb, her confederates, of letters illuminating the tricks of the trade by which the miracles had been produced. Mme. Blavatsky pronounced the letters to be forgeries, but they were sufficiently momentous to bring Mr. Hodgson to India to investigate for the Society for Psychical Research. He was able to deprive many of the miracles of their mystery, to show how the 'shrine' from which the Mahatma's messages emanated was accessible to Mme. Blavatsky by the aid of sliding panels and secret drawers, to show that these messages were in style, spelling and handwriting the counterpart of Mme. Blavatsky's, to show that many of the phenomena were the result of planned collusion and that others were created by the limitless credulity and the imaginative exaggeration of the witnesses—'domestic imbeciles,' as madame confidentially called them. The report of the society convicted 'the Priestess of Isis' of "a long continued combination with other persons to produce by ordinary means a series of apparent marvels for the support of the Theosophic movement"; and concludes with these words: "For our own part, we regard her neither as the mouthpiece of hidden seers nor as a mere vulgar adventuress; we think that she has achieved a title to permanent remembrance as one of the most accomplished, ingenious and interesting impostors in history." Mme. Blavatsky died in 1891, and her ashes were divided between Adyar, London and New York.

The Theosophic movement continues, though with abated vigor, owing partly to the above-mentioned disclosures, but probably more to the increasing propagandism of other cults, to the lack of a leader of Mme. Blavatsky's genius, or to the inevitable ebb and flow of such interests. Mme. Blavatsky continued to expound Theosophy after the exposures, and Mrs. Besant, Mr. Sinnett and others were ready to take up the work at her death. However, miracles are no longer performed, and no immediately practical ends are proclaimed. Individual development and evolution, mystic discourses on adeptship and Karma and Maya and Nirvana, communion with the higher ends of life, the cultivation of an esoteric psychic insight, form the goal of present endeavor. The Mahatmas are giving "intellectual instructions, enormously more interesting than even the exhibition of their abnormal powers." . . .