Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

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Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891)

This article is copyright 2007-2009 by Will Johnson, wjhonson@aol.com

Born 30 Jul 1831 as Helena von Hahn in Ekaterinoslav, Russian Empire (now Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine) to Colonel Peter Alexeivich von Hahn (1798-) and his wife Helena Andreyvna Fadeyev (1814-42). Her mother died while Helena was a young girl and she was sent, with her two younger siblings, Vera (b 1835) and Leonid (b 1840), to live with their maternal grandparents, Andrei Mikhailovich Fadeyev (1789-1867), Imperial Councillor to the Viceroy of the Caucasus, and his wife Helene Dolgoruki (1789-1860).

Helena married firstly on 7 Jul 1848 in Tiflis, Russia to Nikifor Vasilievich Blavatsky, the Vice-Governor of Erivan. The marriage didn't last long, she ran away from him, spending some time with her family, and some time allegedly roaming the world. This period of her life, is very confused in her various biographies, and perhaps deliberately so. She told many stories of her adventures in Egypt, Italy, India, Tibet, America and South America, but some timelines overlap and the complete documentation has yet to be adequately examined.

Helena's timeline becomes firmly fixed from the time she first met Henry Steel Olcott at the Eddy Homestead where they were both attending a series of spiritualistic exhibitions. See here where their meeting is described by Henry as occuring on 14 Oct 1874.

In 1875, with Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge, she was a founder of the Theosophical Society in New York City. For a time she lived in Philadelphia where on Apr 3, 1875, she married in Philadelphia to Michael C Betanelly, also a native of Russia. This second marriage did not last long.

In Dec 1878, Blavasky and Olcott immigrated to India, she stated this was on the insistence of her hidden Master's orders. While there they established the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar, where it still resides. Helena later immigrated to England where she died 8 May 1891 in London, Middlesex, England.

After her death, leadership of the Society was taken over by Henry Steel Olcott.

Primary Documents

  • Her marriage to Betanelly is reported in the International Genealogical Index - North America - Batch M748744
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