Before Xerox, TI, and HP - There was HPB

HPB - Helena Petrovna Blavatsky - is one of my heroes, or heroines if you wish. She did so many amazing things. HPB was an equally extraordinary person. Living in the 19th century, traveling alone all over the known and unknown world at the time, writing voluminously in several languages. And, that is just the beginning.

I plan to write a book on HPB in the winter when I get caught up with other projects. In the meantime, I will share some favorite HPB vignettes regarding her life and faculties. Two quick stories are available for your reading by clicking the link. Whether you believe them or not, I guarantee they will be worth your reading. The narrative comes from the first volume of Old Diary Leaves by Henry Steel Olcott.

These brief stories may press the limits of your belief system. They fit comfortably into mine. I want to warn you ahead of time.

‘What a strange woman she was, and what a great variety in her psychical phenomena! We have seen her duplicating tissues, let me recall incidents where letters were doubled. I received one day a letter from a certain person who had done me a great wrong, and read it aloud to H. P. B. “We must have a copy of that,” she exclaimed, and, taking the sheet of note-paper from me, held it daintily by one corner and actually peeled off a duplicate, paper and all, before my very eyes! It was as though she had split the sheet between its two surfaces.

‘Another example, perhaps even more interesting, is the following: Under date of December 22, 1887, Stainton Moses wrote her a five-paged letter of a rather controversial, or, at any rate, critical, character. The paper was of square, full letter size, and bore the embossed heading “University College, London,” and
near the left-hand upper corner his monogram,—a W and M interlaced and crossed by the name “STAINTON” is small capitals. She said we must have a duplicate of this too, so I took from the desk five half-sheets of foreign letter-paper of the same size as Oxon’s and gave her them. She laid them against the five pages of his letter, and then placed the whole in a drawer of the desk just in front of me as I sat.

‘We went on with our conversation for some time, until she said she thought the copy was made and I had better look and see if that were so. I opened the drawer, took out the papers, and found that one page of each of my five pieces had received from the page with which it was in contact the impression of that page. So nearly alike were the original and copies that I thought them—as the reader recollects I did the copy of the Britten-Louis portrait—exact duplicates.

‘I had been thinking so all these subsequent sixteen years, but since I hunted up the documents for description in this chapter, I see that this is not the case. The writings are almost duplicates, yet not quite so. They are rather like two original writings by the same hand. If H. P. B. had had time to prepare this surprise for me, the explanation of forgery would suffice to cover the case; but she had not. The whole thing occurred as described, and I submit that it has an un-questionable evidential value as to the problem of her possessing psychical powers. I have tried the test of placing one page over the other to see how the letters and marks correspond. I find they do not, and that is proof, at any rate, that the transfer was not made by the absorption of the ink by the blank sheet from the other; moreover, the inks are different, and Oxon’s is not copying-ink.

‘The time occupied by the whole phenomenon might have been five or ten minutes, and the papers lay the whole time in the drawer in front of my breast, so there was no trick of taking it out and substituting other sheets for the blank ones I had just then handed her. Let it pass to the credit of her good name, and help to make the case which her friends would offset against the intemperate slanders circulated against her by her enemies.’