Victorian Theosophists = Parapsychologists

Well that’s a title that’s sure to mean practically nothing to almost everyone… nevertheless it’s still true!

The Theosophists were a group that came into being at the end of the nineteenth century lead by an eccentric medium named Elena Petrovna Gan better known as ‘Madame Blavatsky’. They were akin to what we would recognise today as new age enthusiasts; they believed in a wide variety of psychic and paranormal phenomena and were very interested in reinterpreting the ‘ancient wisdom’ of religious traditions particularly ‘exotic’ traditions such as those found in East Asia and India. Reading any Theosophist work is a fascinating and extremely frustrating experience. In that if you have any familarity with the subject they are discussing you are immediately aware that they are, by and large, talking rubbish but at the same time their deep fascination with all manner of quirky subjects together with their old fashioned style of writing makes their works strangely appealing.