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Re: Theos-World How "Isis Unveiled" Was Written

Aug 15, 2007 09:26 PM
by Cass Silva

Ah John,
  So this is what happens when HPB cleared her mind of conscious thoughts!
  Cass wrote:
I much enjoyed reading these, thanks. Reading Alexander Wilders comments on Blavatsky's book shelve contents made me make a note to search for Ennemosers work he mentioned. I found two of the Books by Ennemooser that were the Q she used.
The History of Magic Pdf by Ennemoser,M1

The History of the Supernatural Pdf Bk II by Ennemoser,M1

-------------- Original message -------------- 
From: "danielhcaldwell" 
How "Isis Unveiled" Was Written
[ ] 

6b. Henry S. Olcott, 
Summer 1875?Sept. 1877, 
New York City 
[Olcott, Old Diary Leaves 1: 202?4, 205, 208?12, 236?7, 243?7] 

One day in the summer of 1875, HPB showed me some sheets of 
manuscript which she had written, and said: "I wrote this last 
night `by order,' but what the deuce it is to be I don't know. 
Perhaps it is for a newspaper article, perhaps for a book, perhaps 
for nothing: anyhow, I did as I was ordered." And she put it away in 
a drawer, and nothing more was said about it for some time. But in 
the month of September she went on a visit to her new friends, 
Professor and Mrs. Corson, of Cornell University, and the work went 
on. She wrote me that it was to be a book on the history and 
philosophy of the Eastern Schools and their relations with those of 
our times. She said she was writing about things she had never 
studied and making quotations from books she had never read in all 
her life: that, to test her accuracy, Prof. Corson had compared her 
quotations with classical works in the University Library, and had 
found her to be right. Upon her return to town, she was not very 
industrious in this affair, but wrote only spasmodically, but a month 
or two after the formation of the Theosophical Society, she and I 
took two suites of rooms at 433 West 34th St., she on the first and I 
on the second floor, and henceforward the writing of Isis went on 
without break or interruption until its completion in the year 1877.

In her whole life she had not done a tithe of such literary labor, 
yet I never knew even a managing daily journalist who could be 
compared with her for dogged endurance or tireless working capacity. 
>From morning till night she would be at her desk, and it was seldom 
that either of us got to bed before 2 o'clock am. During the daytime 
I had my professional duties to attend to, but always after an early 
dinner we would settle down together to our big writing table and 
work, as if for dear life, until bodily fatigue would compel us to 
stop. What an experience!

She worked on no fixed plan, but ideas came streaming through her 
mind like a perennial spring which is ever overflowing its brim. 
Higgledy-piggledy it came, in a ceaseless rivulet, each paragraph 
complete in itself and capable of being excised without harm to its 
predecessor or successor.

Her own manuscript was often a sight to behold: cut and patched, re-
cut and re-pasted, until if one held a page of it to the light, it 
would be seen to consist of, perhaps, six, or eight, or ten slips cut 
from other pages, pasted together, and the text joined by interlined 
words or sentences.

I corrected every page of her manuscript several times, and every 
page of the proofs; wrote many paragraphs for her, often merely 
embodying her ideas that she could not then frame to her liking in 
English; helped her to find out quotations, and did other purely 
auxiliary work: the book is hers alone, so far as personalities on 
this plane of manifestation are concerned, and she must take all the 
praise and the blame that it deserves. Then, whence did HPB draw the 
materials which compose Isis, and which cannot be traced to 
accessible literary sources of quotation? From the Astral Light, and 
by her soul-senses, from her Teachers?
the "Brothers," "Adepts," "Sages," "Masters," as they have been 
variously called. How do I know it? By working two years with her on 
Isis and many more years on other literary work.

To watch her at work was a rare and never-to-be-forgotten experience. 
We sat at opposite sides of one big table usually, and I could see 
her every movement. Her pen would be flying over the page, when she 
would suddenly stop, look out into space with the vacant eye of the 
clairvoyant seer, shorten her vision as though to look at something 
held invisible in the air before her, and begin copying on her paper 
what she saw. The quotation finished, her eyes would resume their 
natural expression, and she would go on writing until again stopped 
by a similar interruption. I remember well two instances when I, 
also, was able to see and even handle books from whose astral 
duplicates she copied quotations into her manuscript, and which she 
was obliged to "materialize" for me, to refer to when reading the 
proofs, as I refused to pass the pages for the "strike-off" unless my 
doubts as to the accuracy of her copy were satisfactory. It was when 
we were living at 302 West 47th Street?the once-famous "Lamasery," 
and the executive headquarters of the Theosophical Society. I 
said: "I cannot pass this quotation, for I am sure it cannot read as 
you have it." She said: "Oh don't bother; it's right; let it pass." I 
refused, until finally she said: "Well, keep still a minute and I'll 
try to get it." The far-away look came into her eyes, and presently 
she pointed to a far corner of the room, to an etagere on which were 
kept some curios, and in a hollow voice said: "There!" and then came 
to herself again. "There, there; go look for it over there!" I went, 
and found the two volumes wanted, which, to my knowledge, had not 
been in the house until that very moment. I compared the text with 
HPB's quotation, showed her that I was right in my suspicions as to 
the error, made the proof correction and then, at her request, 
returned the two volumes to the place on the etagere from which I had 
taken them. I resumed my seat and work, and when, after awhile, I 
looked again in that direction, the books had disappeared! After my 
telling this (absolutely true) story, ignorant skeptics are free to 
doubt my sanity; I hope it may do them good. The same thing happened 
in the case of the apport of the other book, but this one remained, 
and is in our possession at the present time.

The "copy" turned off by HPB presented the most marked dissemblances 
at different times. While the handwriting bore one peculiar character 
throughout, so that one familiar with her writing would always be 
able to detect any given page as HPB's, yet, when examined carefully, 
one discovered at least three or four variations of the one style, 
and each of these persistent for pages together, when it would give 
place to some other of the calligraphic variants. The style which had 
been running through the work of, perhaps, a whole evening or half an 
evening would suddenly give place to one of the other styles which 
would, in its turn, run through the rest of an evening. One of these 
HPB handwritings was very small, but plain; one bold and free; 
another plain, of medium size, and very legible; and one scratchy and 
hard to read, with its queer, foreign-shaped a's and x's and e's. 
There was also the greatest possible difference in the English of 
these various styles. Sometimes I would have to make several 
corrections in each line, while at others I could pass many pages 
with scarcely a fault of idiom or spelling to correct. Most perfect 
of all were the manuscripts which were written for her while she was 
sleeping. The beginning of the chapter on the civilization of Ancient 
Egypt [1:14] is an illustration. We had stopped work the evening 
before at about 2 am as usual, both too tired to stop for our usual 
smoke and chat before parting; she almost fell asleep in her chair 
while I was bidding her good-night, so I hurried off to my bedroom. 
The next morning, when I came down after my breakfast, she showed me 
a pile of at least thirty or forty pages of beautifully written HPB 
manuscript, which, she said, she had had written for her by?well, a 
Master, whose name has never yet been degraded like some others. It 
was perfect in every respect, and went to the printers without 

Now it was a curious fact that each change in the HPB manuscript 
would be preceded, either by her leaving the room for a moment or 
two, or by her going off into the trance or abstracted state, when 
her lifeless eyes would be looking beyond me into space, as it were, 
and returning to the normal state almost immediately. And there would 
also be a distinct change of personality, or rather personal 
peculiarities, in gait, vocal expression, vivacity of manner, and, 
above all, in temper.

HPB would leave the room one person and return to it another. Not 
another as to visible change of physical body, but another as to 
tricks of motion, speech, and manners; with different mental 
brightness, different views of things, different command of English 
orthography, idiom, and grammar, and different?very, very different 
command over her temper, which, at its sunniest, was almost angelic, 
at its worst, the opposite.

Did she write Isis in the capacity of an ordinary spiritual medium? I 
answer, Assuredly not. I have known mediums of all sorts?speaking, 
trance, writing, phenomena-making, medical, clairvoyant, and 
materializing, have seen them at work, attended their seances, and 
observed the signs of their obsession and possession. HPB's case 
resembled none of them. Nearly all they did she could do; but at her 
own will and pleasure, by day or by night, without forming "circles," 
choosing the witnesses, or imposing the usual conditions. Then, 
again, I had ocular proof that at least some of those who worked with 
us were living men, from having seen them in the flesh in India after 
having seen them in the astral body in America and Europe, from 
having touched and talked with them.

One of these alter egos of hers, one whom I have since personally 
met, wears a full beard and long moustache that are twisted, Rajput 
fashion, into his side whiskers. He has the habit of constantly 
pulling at his moustache when deeply pondering: he does it 
mechanically and unconsciously. Well, there were times when HPB's 
personality had melted away and she was "Somebody else" when I would 
sit and watch her hand as if pulling at and twisting a moustache that 
certainly was not growing visibly on HPB's upper lip, and the far-
away look would be in the eyes, until presently resuming attention of 
passing things, the moustached Somebody would look up, catch me 
watching him, hastily remove the hand from the face, and go on with 
the work of writing. Then there was another Somebody, who disliked 
English so much that he never willingly talked with me in anything 
but French: he had a fine artistic talent and a passionate fondness 
for mechanical invention. Another one would now and then sit there, 
scrawling something with a pencil and reeling off for me dozens of 
poetical stanzas which embodied, now sublime, now humorous ideas. So 
each of the several Somebodies had his peculiarities distinctly 
marked, as recognizable as those of any of our ordinary acquaintances 
or friends. One was jovial, fond of good stories and witty to a 
degree; another, all dignity, reserve, and erudition. One would be 
calm, patient, and benevolently helpful; another testy and sometimes 
exasperating. One Somebody would always be willing to emphasize his 
philosophical or scientific explanations of the subjects I was to 
write upon, by doing phenomena for my edification, while to another 
Somebody I dared not even mention them. I got an awful rebuke one 
evening. I had brought home a while before two nice, soft pencils, 
just the thing for our desk work, and had given one to HPB and kept 
one myself. She had the very bad habit of borrowing penknives, 
pencils, and other articles of stationery and forgetting to return 
them: once put into her drawer or writing desk, there they would 
stay, no matter how much of a protest you might make over it. On this 
particular evening, the artistic Somebody was sketching on a sheet of 
common paper and chatting with me about something, when he asked me 
to lend him another pencil. The thought flashed into my mind, "If I 
once lend this nice pencil it will go into her drawer and I shall 
have none for my own use." I did not say this, I only thought it, but 
the Somebody gave me a mildly sarcastic look, reached out to the pen 
tray between us, laid his pencil in it, handled it with his fingers 
of that hand for a moment, and lo! a dozen pencils of the identical 
make and quality! He said not a word, did not even give me a look, 
but the blood rushed to my temples and I felt more humble than I ever 
did in my life. All the same, I scarcely think I deserved the rebuke, 
considering what a stationery-annexer HPB was!

Now when either of these Somebodies was "on guard," as I used to term 
it, the HPB manuscript would present the identical peculiarities that 
it had on the last occasion when he had taken his turn at the 
literary work. If you had given me in those days any page of Isis 
manuscript, I could almost certainly have told you by which Somebody 
it had been written. Where, then, was HPB's self at those times of 
replacement? As I understood it, she herself had loaned her body as 
one might one's typewriter, and had gone off on other occult business 
that she could transact in her astral body; a certain group of Adepts 
occupying and maneuvering the body by turns. When they knew that I 
could distinguish between them, so as to even have invented a name 
for each by which HPB and I might designate them in our conversation 
in their absence, they would frequently give me a grave bow or a 
friendly farewell nod when about to leave the room and give place to 
the next relief-guard. And they would sometimes talk to me of each 
other, as friends do about absent third parties, by which means I 
came to know bits of their several personal histories, and would also 
speak about the absent HPB, distinguishing her from the physical body 
they had borrowed from her.

[NOTE: In a letter to her sister Vera, Madame Blavatsky writes: 

"Someone comes and envelops me as a misty cloud and all at once 
pushes me out of myself, and then I am not `I' any more?Helena 
Petrovna Blavatsky?but someone else. Someone strong and powerful, 
born in a totally different region of the world: and as to myself it 
is almost as if I were asleep or lying by, not quite conscious, not 
in my own body but close by, held only by a thread which ties me to 
it. However, at times I see and hear everything quite clearly: I am 
perfectly conscious of what my body is saying and doing?or at least 
its new possessor. I even understand and remember it all so well that 
afterwards I can repeat it and even write down his words. At such a 
time I see awe and fear on the faces of Olcott and others and follow 
with interest the way in which he half-pityingly regards them out of 
my own eyes and teaches them with my physical tongue. Yet not with my 
mind but his own, which enwraps my brain like a cloud" (The Path, 
Dec. 1894, 266). 

See online at:

For more on this subject, consult Geoffrey A. Barborka's H. P. 
Blavatsky, Tibet, and Tulku (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing 
House, 1966). ?DHC]

6c. Alexander Wilder, 
Autumn 1876?Sept. 1877, 
New York City [Wilder] 

In the autumn of 1876 I had been editing several publications for Mr. 
J. W. Bouton, a bookseller in New York. Other engagements and 
associations had been laid aside.

On a pleasant afternoon I was alone in the house. The bell was rung, 
and I answered at the door. Colonel Henry S. Olcott was there with an 
errand to myself. He had been referred to me by Mr. Bouton. Madame 
Blavatsky had compiled a work upon occult and philosophic subjects, 
and Mr. Bouton had been asked in relation to undertaking its 
publication. Mr. Bouton meant that I should examine the work, and I 
agreed to undertake the task.

It was truly a ponderous document and displayed research in a very 
extended field. In my report to [Mr. Bouton], I stated that the 
manuscript was the product of great research, and that so far as 
related to current thinking, there was a revolution in it, but I 
added that I deemed it too long for remunerative publishing.

Mr. Bouton, however, presently agreed to publish the work. He placed 
the manuscript again in my hands, with instructions to shorten it as 
much as it would bear. This was a discretionary power that was far 
from agreeable. It can hardly be fair that a person acting solely in 
behalf of the publisher should have such authority over the work of 
an author. Nevertheless, I undertook the task. While abridging the 
work, I endeavored in every instance to preserve the thought of the 
author in plain language, removing only such terms and matter as 
might be regarded as superfluous and not necessary to the main 
purpose. In this way, enough was taken out to fill a volume of 
respectable dimensions.

Colonel Olcott was very desirous that I should become acquainted with 
Madame Blavatsky. He appeared to hold her in high regard, closely 
approaching to veneration, and to consider the opportunity to know 
her a rare favor for any one. I was hardly able to share his 
enthusiasm. Having a natural diffidence about making new 
acquaintances, and acting as a critic upon her manuscript, I 
hesitated for a long time. Finally, however, these considerations 
were passed over and I accompanied him to their establishment in 
Forty-seventh Street.

It was a "flat," that unhomelike fashion of abode that now extends 
over populous cities, superseding the household and family 
relationship wherever it prevails. The building where they lived had 
been "transmogrified" for such purposes, and they occupied a suite of 
apartments on an upper floor. The household in this case comprised 
several individuals, with separate employments. They generally met at 
meal-time, together with such guests from elsewhere as might happen 
to be making a visit.

The study in which Madame Blavatsky lived and worked was arranged 
after a quaint and very primitive manner. It was a large front room 
and, being on the side next the street, was well lighted. In the 
midst of this was her "den," a spot fenced off on three sides by 
temporary partitions, writing desk, and shelves for books. She had it 
as convenient as it was unique. She had but to reach out an arm to 
get a book, paper, or other article that she might desire that was 
within the enclosure. In this place Madame Blavatsky reigned supreme, 
gave her orders, issued her judgments, conducted her correspondence, 
received her visitors, and produced the manuscript of her book.

She did not resemble in manner or figure what I had been led to 
expect. She was tall, but not strapping; her countenance bore the 
marks and exhibited the characteristics of one who had seen much, 
thought much, traveled much, and experienced much. Her appearance was 
certainly impressive, but in no respect was she coarse, awkward, or 
ill-bred. On the other hand she exhibited culture, familiarity with 
the manners of the most courtly society, and genuine courtesy itself. 
She expressed her opinions with boldness and decision, but not 
obtrusively. It was easy to perceive that she had not been kept 
within the circumscribed limitations of a common female education; 
she knew a vast variety of topics and could discourse freely upon 

I have heard tell of her profession of superhuman powers and of 
extraordinary occurrences that would be termed miraculous. I, too, 
believe, like Hamlet, that there are more things in heaven and earth 
than our wise men of this age are willing to believe. But Madame 

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