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S.P.R. Press Statement

Feb 15, 2006 00:16 AM
by Anton Rozman

S.P.R. Press Statement 

The Society for Psychical Research has released the following Press 
Statement dated 8 May 1986. 


The 'exposure' of the Russian-born occultist, Madame H. P. 
Blavatsky, by the S.P.R. in 1885, is in serious doubt, with the 
publication in the S.P.R. Journal (Vol. 53 April 1986) of a forceful 
critique of the 1885 report. 

The case has been re-examined by Dr. Vernon Harrison, past president 
of The Royal Photographic Society and formerly Research Manager to 
Thomas De La Rue, who is an expert on forgery. The 1885 report was 
written mostly by Richard Hodgson, an Australian pioneer of both the 
British and Australian S.P.R.s, who became widely known through the 

Central to the case were two sets of disputed letters. One set, 
provided by two dismissed employees of The Theosophical Society at 
its headquarters in India, were apparently in the handwriting of 
Madame Blavatsky and implicated her in fraudulent psychic phenomena. 
The other set, were ostensibly written in support of The 
Theosophical Society by members of an oriental fraternity, popularly 
called Mahatmas. Dr. Hodgson accepted the genuineness of the first 
set. He argued that the Mahatma Letters were spurious productions by 
Madame Blavatsky and occasional confederates. 

Dr. Harrison on the contrary, suggests that it is the incriminating 
letters that are forgeries, concocted by the ex-employees for 
revenge; while the bulk of the Mahatma Letters, now preserved in the 
British Library, are not in Madame Blavatsky's handwriting, 
disguised or otherwise.

Dr. Harrison concludes; 
"As detailed examination of this Report proceeds, one becomes more 
and more aware that, whereas Hodgson was prepared to use any 
evidence, however trivial or questionable, to implicate H.P.B., he 
ignored all evidence that could be used in her favour. His report is 
riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or 
probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses, 
selection of evidence and downright falsity:

"As an investigator, Hodgson is weighed in the balances and found 
wanting. His case against Madame H. P. Blavatsky is not proven." 

Much of Dr. Harrison's paper is an examination of the handwriting 
evidence presented in the 1885 report. He believes this was so weak, 
partisan and confused that it might just as easily show that Madame 
Blavatsky wrote "Huckleberry Finn" - or that President Eisenhower 
wrote the Mahatma Letters. 

In an introductory note to the paper, the Editor of the S.P.R., Dr. 
John Beloff, recalls that other researchers have criticised the 1885 
report, and that it had wrongly been taken as expressing an official 
view of the S.P.R., when in fact the S.P.R. had no corporate 
opinions. Noting that Dr. Harrison is not a member of The 
Theosophical Society, but a long-standing member of the S.P.R., Dr. 
Beloff says: 

"Whether readers agree or disagree with his conclusions, we are 
pleased to offer him the hospitality of our columns and we hope 
that, hereafter, Theosophists, and, indeed, all who care for the 
reputation of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, will look upon us in a more 
kindly light." 

Responding to the publication of Dr. Harrison's paper, Dr. Hugh 
Gray, General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in England, said:
"We welcome the publication of Dr. Harrison's findings, which 
independently confirm what many Theosophists have pointed out in the 
past century. We hope that the Theosophical message in general, and 
Madame Blavatsky's work in particular, can now be studied without 
the distraction of the Hodgson allegations." 

Background note 

Dr. Vernon Harrison, who lives in Surrey, may be available for 
interviews from 6 May onwards. Please contact the S.P.R. in the 
first instance. 

The Society for Psychical Research, as noted above, has no 
collective views. Thus it was not the S.P.R. which condemned Madame 
Blavatsky in 1885, but only an S.P.R. Committee, whose report was 
mostly written by Dr. Hodgson. Similarly, Dr. Harrison'spaper 
represents only his personal views. 

Cordial relations have existed between psychical researchers and 
Theosophists in England for sometime. In 1982, the S.P.R. chose as 
its centenary president, Professor Arthur Ellison of The City 
University, a distinguished engineer, psychical researcher and 

Madame Blavatsky founded The Theosophical Society with others in New 
York in 1875, and it is an international body active in more than 60 
countries with its headquarters at Adyar, Madras, India. The Society 
exists to promote a knowledge of Theosophy, a word of Greek origin 
meaning Divine Wisdom. Madame Blavatsky's main work was "The Secret 
Doctrine" (1888). She died in London in 1891 at the age of 59. 

For further information contact;
The Society for Psychical Research Tel. 01 937 8984 
The Theosophical Society in England
50 Gloucester Place, London W1H '3HJ Tel. 01 935 9261

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