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Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality

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3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  91 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Kurt Vonnegut called her "The Founding Mother of Occult in America." Pioneer, visionary or charlatan? Madame Helena Petrova Blavatsky has been hailed as an icon and scorned as a fraud. At last, there is a full, comprehensive biography on the woman who founded the Theosophical Society, wrote the most influential occult book ever (The Secret Doctrine) and helped introduce ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 25th 2012 by TarcherPerigee
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Scott Smith
This was a great book. This is the third book I've read about H.P. Blavatsky, and I'm currently also about a third of the way into 'Isis Unveiled', and she is definitely fun to read about. This book just came out and is a 'clarifying' biography, meaning it tries to make sense of the cloudy past and past biographies of Madame Blavatsky, seeing as how she is shrouded in mystery and their is much contention over details of her life, her 'works' and the overall myth that surrounds her. But this was ...more
Kate
Jun 09, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
This is certainly not the first book I've read about Madame Blavatsky, and probably not the last, but it's one of the better ones. This is the second book I've read by Gary Lachman (the first was Rudolf Steiner). (Author side note: Lachman was a founding member of the band Blondie. I found that fascinating, to think he went from rock n' roll guitarist to researcher/writer of New Age topics.)

So, Madame Blavatsky: she's a polarizing figure, some people love her, some people hate her, and some peop
...more
Valarie
Feb 11, 2013 Valarie rated it it was ok
To say this book kinda jumps around a bit is an understatement. I was able to stick with it, but I'll admit that many times I wasn't sure why. It's clear (and Lachman admits throughout) that he could no more get a handle on Blavatsky than anyone else who has tried, but, in this case, sometimes you wish that he was slightly less objective, as that may have organized his thoughts a bit better. The book kind of reads like a debate on CNN -- you grapple with one side, then the other and Lachman then ...more
David
The kind assessment of this biography is that it is an heroic bio. It is probably closer to the mark to suggest uncritical and sycophantic.

There are excuses and rationationalizations offered again and again to provide cover for this spiritual grifter and her damaged cultists.

I've always been a fan of the moral depravity of HPB and her strange cult, Theosophy, but the author of this biography throws away a golden opportunity to engage with one of the 19th century's strangest women, or men for t
...more
Kathy
Madame Blavatsky: Mother of Modern Spirituality - by Gary Lachman


This novel is a biography of Madame Blavatsky. Madame Blavatsky was born Helena Petrova von Hahn in 1831. She came from an artistocratic family in which her lineage is traced back to royalty. In her day she lived the life of luxury and had an education and was expected to get married and run a household. When she was 17 she did get married to Nikkifor Blavatsky who was in his forties. As soon as the marriage was overs she had escap
...more
Aarøn VE
Dec 07, 2015 Aarøn VE rated it really liked it
A great introduction to HPB and Theosophy. But damn it got confusing a bit. She traveled a lot, many people played important roles in her life, and being told on one portable book can get confusing. Definitely a book you wanna take your time with. My one critic of the book aside from it's dizzying pace is that many of the people on her life went by different names and the author jumps back forth between the various names for the various people. This can make it difficult to keep track of who is ...more
Leslie
Oct 15, 2012 Leslie rated it did not like it
so I got this book for free from the publisher and so I feel like I needed to like it. and I tried. but I just couldn't enjoy it. I never really attatched to Blavatsky ... I couldn't even hate her. at the very least I want a biography to make me feel something about the subject... Lachman failed at it completely. probably cause I spent most of the time trying to follow him. hopefully in the final editing they will fix those problems but as of now I would only recommend this book to people who ...more
Amber
Jun 02, 2013 Amber rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free as a First Read from Goodreads. I TRIED 3 different times to get into this book and I just couldn't do it. I care a lot about spirituality and alternate ways of looking at the world but I couldn't get interested in HPB's life. If you already know about her Nd want a more detailed look at her life, this book is for you. But if you are looking to explore spiritual theories, this is NOT the book for you.
Orion
Nov 10, 2014 Orion rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
Gary Lachman provides a thorough and even-handed chronological biography of the fantastic Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society and author of several seminal books on the occult. Her life is filled with fantastic claims of supernatural phenomena like Spiritualist-type contacts, materialization of objects and people, and spirit messages. She travelled widely through Europe, Asia and America, visiting occult adepts around the world.
Tim
Jul 03, 2013 Tim rated it liked it
Interesting story on the history of occult thought and practice in the US (and interesting to see all the mentions of Vermont, btw) but ultimately was rather disappointed with the general inability to say much of anything conclusive about Blavatsky herself. A good read if you want to know more about the history of theosophical thought and occult thinking, not so much if you want to know anything about Blavatsky.
Linda
Dec 01, 2012 Linda rated it it was ok
Just couldn't finish it. An interesting woman and I would like to know more, but the book is all conjecture and references to possibilities interspersed with some fact. I would also have preferred if the biography had been chronological. Too much jumping around and "more about that later" and "as previously mentioned."
Temple
Nov 03, 2012 Temple rated it it was amazing
What can one say about Mme Blavatsky...she has had such a profound influence on modern thinking, and hopefully, this book will contribute to the credit she deserves! Having been a member of the Theosophical Society for many years, it has been enthralling to see the path that Mme Blavatsky's life took to formulate her philosophy.
Joseph Busa
Comprehensive account of the life story of a very unusual lady. That said I wasn't left feeling that I really knew the real HPB. I don't think that this book will appeal strongly to those not interested in spirituality or esoteric thought. However, the book was well written and has wetted my appetite to find out more about 'The Masters'.
Jacques
Aug 19, 2013 Jacques rated it really liked it
Shelves: theosophy
A fair biography, with lucid analysis of the various pros and cons, without excess. Gary did not bring much new facts, but describes the various events of Mme Blavatsky life, trying to extract some unbiased real facts. Bravo!
Kelly Stubbart
Jan 04, 2014 Kelly Stubbart rated it really liked it
A shrouded woman, with a shrouded history. The author told the story well even without much in the way of confirming sources. And that may be the point. we are all our own masters.....
Nate
Feb 25, 2013 Nate rated it liked it
It didn't convert me to Theosophy, but it was an intriguing read...by the original bass player of Blondie no less.
Kingsley L. Dennis
Jan 02, 2014 Kingsley L. Dennis rated it it was amazing
An excellent biography from Lachman...brings clarity into a muddled arena, and makes the best of it!
Chris Brown
Aug 13, 2013 Chris Brown rated it it was amazing
Not only a very well-done biography but a persuasive argument that HPB was key in the formation of modern spirituality.
Lisa Jane
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Derek Fenner
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May 14, 2015
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Gary Lachman is an American writer and musician. Lachman is best known to readers of mysticism and the occult from the numerous articles and books he has published.
More about Gary Lachman...

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