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Helena Blavatsky (August 12, 1831 - May 8, 1891)

The famed 19th century Russian born mystic, world traveler, feminist, Theosophical Society co-founder, and author of occult classics Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, Helena Petrova Blavatsky is also reputed to have been a user of cannabis:

She [Blavatsky] wrote, sometimes under the influence of hashish, several books filled with esoteric lore, which owed a great deal to Hindu and Buddhist systems of thought, and brought to public awareness in the West such concepts as karma, prana, kundalini, yoga and reincarnation.” — Benjamin Walker, Tantrism: Its Secret Principles and Practices

A.L. Rawson, a close friend of Blavatsky for over forty years, stated concerning her relationship with cannabis:
She had tried hasheesh in Cairo with success, and she again indulged in it in this city under the care of myself and Dr. Edward Sutton Smith, who had had a large experience with the drug among his patients at Mount Lebanon, Syria. She said: “Hasheesh multiplies one’s life a thousandfold. My experiences are as real as if they were ordinary events of actual life. Ah! I have the explanation. It is a recollection of my former existences, my previous incarnations. It is a wonderful drug and it clears up profound mystery."

The modern day Theosophical society denies hashish had any great influence on Blavatsky's life, admitting she may have experimented with it in her youth, but that is about the extent of it. But a number of well known authors, such as Benjamin Walker and the much respected English writer Colin Wilson, thought her use of cannabis was relevant enough to have commented on it.

The Theosophists point to a couple of negative comments towards hashish Blavatsky made near the end of her life when her health had deteriorated from chain-smoking cigarettes, and found herself unhappily surrounded by scandal. Many people have blamed a substance for their own personal downfall, and marijuana makes just as good a scapegoat as any. As many of us have experienced, few seem as self-righteous as the reformed addict. The Theosophists also challenge the legitimacy of A.L. Rawson, suggesting his claims are suspect. The fact is that A.L. Rawson was one of a few life-long friends Blavatsky had, and she herself attested to the validity of his character.

In Isis Unveiled Blavatsky makes the following comments concerning her good friend and associate A.L. Rawson: “Outside the East we have met one initiate (and one only), who, for some reasons best known to himself, does not make a secret of his initiation into the Brotherhood of Lebanon. It is the learned traveler and artist, Professor A.L. Rawson, of New York City. This gentleman has passed many years in the East, four times visited Palestine, and has traveled to Mecca. It is safe to say that he has a priceless store of facts about the beginnings of the Christian Church, which none but one who has had free access to repositories closed against the ordinary traveler could have collected.”

Blavatsky goes on to quote Rawson concerning his initiation into a sect claiming secret knowledge concerning the roots of Christianity, the Druzes of Mount Lebanon. Edward Burman stated the following concerning the Druzes in The Assassins: “Their [the Druzes] faith makes them many ways the closest of the breakaway sects of Isma’ilism to the Assassins.” In his Journey to the Orient, De Nerval comments to the Druze sheik, “The Druze have been compared to the Pythagoreans, the Essenes, and the Gnostics, while some scholars claim that the Knights Templar exploited many of your ideas, and that the Rosicrucians and Freemasons have done the same today.”

Source: Green Gold: the Tree of Life, Marijuana in Magic and Religion by Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn, and Judy Osburn

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