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Blavatsky, Helena P. (1831–1891)

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a traveler, cofounder of the Theosophical Society, and a major writer of occult philosophy. Her worldwide journeys and writings drawing from several spiritual traditions lay behind the global influence of modern Theosophy.

Blavatsky was born in aristocratic circumstances in Russia as Helena de Hahn. Of rebellious temperament, she married Nikifor Blavatsky in 1849 but quickly left him to wander the world, by her own account in search of esoteric teachings and their practitioners. Much of the next 24 years of her life is undocumented. But in 1873, she arrived in New York, drawn to the homeland of Spiritualism.

There she soon met Henry Steel Olcott, lawyer, journalist, and likewise student of Spiritualism. He, Blavatsky, and others founded the Theosophical Society in 1875, initially ...

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