Three Letters on the Esoteric
School, Written in 1888 and 1889
School, Written in 1888 and 1889
Helena P. Blavatsky
H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge
“My dear Judge, I begin to feel and
share your royal contempt for the lights
that compose the E.S. Counsel in London.”
“Only why the devil you should throw
away 3 additional dollars to telegraph, that
you had nothing to do in the matter & that you
may now resign (very theosophical) I be switched if
I know! Judge you have much to endure & you are
overworked. But so have [I]; and if you threaten me
with such a thing then I better I better shut up shop.”
(H. P. Blavatsky to W. Q. Judge, in 1889)
A 2012 Editorial Note:
The present chapter transcribes three letters published in “Theosophical History” magazine, January 1996 edition, pp. 5-9. Their texts were compiled by Mr. Michael Gomes.
The first letter – written by .H. P. B. in September 1888 – is not addressed to Judge. Its transcription is incomplete, and it has no opening or closing, but it provides valuable background information on the circumstances leading to the formation of the Esoteric School of Theosophy, in October 1888. It is addressed to Mr. John Ranson Bridge, who is favourably mentioned also in the third letter of the present chapter.
The second letter was written to Judge in Aug 5, 1889. It opens with H.P.B. showing she has a deeper confidence in W. Q. Judge than she has in the Council or Inner Group of her Esoteric School in London:
“My dear Judge, I begin to feel and share your royal contempt for the lights that compose the E.S. Counsel in London. The mistakes made are such that it is enough to tear one’s hair out from despair. Something is wrong in the State of Denmark  & very rotten, indeed.”
Soon after H.P.B.’s death in May 1891, Annie Besant would lead the majority of London E.S. into abandoning the spirit, first, and then the very letter, of H.P.B.’s teachings.
In 1894, Besant joined mesmeric and mediumnistic séances of contacts with imaginary Masters in meetings of the lodge presided by A. P. Sinnett, as Mr. Sinnett frankly reports in his memories. Mr. C. W. Leadbeater, who had failed in his own discipleship and never joined H.P.B’s inner School as long as she lived, was a prominent part of those mediumnistic activities. 
The third letter is undated, but its internal evidences indicate it was written sometime in 1889.
The whole correspondence between H.P.B. and Judge – and the present chapter is no exception – shows one point among others that has paramount importance for 21st century students who are interested in the search for discipleship. It refers to the necessarily precarious and unstable nature of any outer organism – as a physical plane esoteric school – whose members and leaders, starting with Judge and Blavatsky, must work and live under severe probationary fire and have to face constantly renewed karmic pitfalls, year after year, and decade after decade.
The lesson and the conclusion to take from this is that it is better and more prudent not to create the delusional idea that esoteric schools should be seen as a source of dogma, or as objects of blind belief.
Regarding the transcription, underlined words are thus in the originals and in the text as published by “Theosophical History”. Sometimes, they are underlined with a double line in the transcription made by Mr. Michael Gomes. We don’t take that into consideration.
Words in square brackets, followed by question marks, are attempts by the transcriber to understand the handwritten originals. We add a few explanatory notes.
(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)
 “Something is wrong in the State of Denmark”. A reference to one of the most famous lines by Shakespeare. In “Hamlet”, Act I, Scene 4, line 90, Marcellus says to Horatio: “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”. To which Horatio retorts: “Heaven will direct it”, meaning – “Heaven will guide our community”.
 See the “Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett”, Theosophical History Centre, London, UK, 1986, 65 pp. Page 48 gives details on Mrs. Besant secretly joining in June 1894 the practice of fake contacts with Masters, which C.W. Leadbeater and A. P. Sinnett had been promoting in the London Lodge. Mrs. Besant would soon start her successful political campaign against William Q. Judge, in which she, in a karmic irony, mainly accused him of having false contacts with Masters. Mr. Judge was truly a mirror to her.
Letters Between Blavatsky and Judge – 15
Helena P. Blavatsky
[Letter One, to John Ransom Bridge, Sept. 14, 1888]
For the past 12 years I have been imparting, & transmitting esoteric teachings without exacting any pledge or imposing conditions to several more or less known individuals  among others a few Hindus. Since the explosion of the infamous Hodgson & Coulomb conspiracy against me some of my ex-pupils ill-grounded in the theosophical spirit, have, for various reasons deserted me, after posing for chelas. The latter attitude they could not abandon, however. Hence since that time, they have been giving out travestied versions of the esoteric philosophy, composed of one part truth, & three parts misconceptions & conceit. Thus great confusion, & contradictory statements have been made in print, all of which have been pitched back upon my unfortunate head. . . . Many, however, wish me to continue my instructions. But I am not willing to do so, save under restrictions shown by experience to be necessary. I am determined not to permit any longer the Masters names to be desecrated & dragged in the mire of idiotic criticism.
Now the “Blavatsky Lodge” of the T.S. was the outgrowth of this idea  being composed of a few dozen of such friends as are willing to enter with & follow me in a spirit of candid loyalty on the path of true Occultism. The idea was (& is) to have my Thursday expositions reduced to writing, & copies sent out to all the sympathetic Branches & theosophists as also questions aired & answered throughout the theosophical world. I have not the slightest desire for executive authority. I hate “red tape” & parliamentarianism , & my ways are not those of Col. Olcott. Yet, we have ever been acting together on these two planes  he – in the executive exoteric work, I – in the philosophic & esoteric field.
I am organizing with his help to form a special centre – an adjunct to the Second Section of accepted Chelas (such as the Presid. Founder, Mr. Judge & a few others) of exclusively occult students, willing to accept, not as dogmas but as a basis for self-evolution – the teachings of which I am the channel & which I cannot impart except to pledged members; for I cannot give them out in the “Secret Doctrine”. 
 The letter was not written in a too careful way. There should be a comma here. (CCA)
 There should be a comma here. (CCA)
 The word is misspelled in the original’s transcription. (CCA)
 There should be a comma or semicolon at this point. (CCA)
 Mr. Michael Gomes, the transcriber, adds in a footnote: “From a copy in this collection in Countess Wachtmeister’s handwriting, dated ‘14th Sept.’ The year 1889 has been added by someone else, but this does not coincide with the events described in the letter, which refer to 1888.” (CCA)
[Letter Two, to William Q. Judge – Aug. 5, 1889]
Jersey Isle , Aug. 5. 1889.
My dear Judge,
I begin to feel and share your royal contempt for the lights that compose the E.S. Counsel in London. The mistakes made are such that it is enough to tear one’s hair out from despair. Something is wrong in the State of Denmark & very rotten, indeed. Now fancy, both the Instructions never received by A. Griggs , he complaining and Bert  swearing that he sent them to his Hotel in Boston. Now where are they? If, as I am assured, every package bears on it our address & the post office is asked to return to it the packet if the person addressed is not found, then how is [it] that the P.O. does not comply with the request? Is this Griggs’ or Bert’s fault? Both be damned & redamned the two asses! With Bert it is an [entire ?] loss of memory, & he can not be trusted with such esoteric business. I have Mead with me now who has memory & brains, likewise. We will see whether this will help.
I have just written to Bridge & others. Nothing that you will do shall ever be discountenanced by me my beloved W.Q.J. You may become guilty of flapdoodles but I will smooth them down. But why the devil do you say I pitch into you? Well you dream, I suppose.
I said to Bridge as follows in reply to his private [hint ?] that I should make Griggs a Councillor instead of him as G. seems jealous of him: 
“He is too careless and neglectful. But still to keep everything smooth & quiet I would be willing to do so, if things remained as they are: but they cannot so remain. The seven Councillors are useless, I see. It is regular Presidents of occult Lodges that we need, Lodges, like the ‘Horus’ of Bradford England, whose 14 men, all of them old Masons & Kabalists work like one man & learn splendidly (Vide Lucifer  for July). Presidents with full powers and chartered who alone will receive the Instructions & be answerable for them & the members who belong to their Lodges. Presidents who will select [their ?] members themselves & recommend new ones. In short, the E.S. has to be entirely reorganized.” 
“You heard from Judge I suppose to that effect. What he does now is perhaps only provisionary. If a Council could be called in every city where there are Esotericists it would be well, as before I resume my teachings the E.S. has to be firmly organized. If I have to teach you at all, and teach real Occultism not give out only a portion of the truth & hints as to the rest as I have done heretofore  – then I must feel secure. I will not be surprised to see the 2 Instructions published some day in Bundy’s journal. Those already given will not do much harm; were I to continue without shielding the teaching, [that ?] which follows will do an immense harm if it falls into the hands of unscrupulous people. Here, and as HPB, I have no right to refuse any one who seeks admission. But the Presidents of occult groups will have such a right & be bound to do so.  Thus [there ?] will [be] less risk for me to receive into the Society traitors” etc. etc.
This is what I wrote to him among other things & it does not differ from your programme. But, it is more than necessary to forbid occultism at this junction. We cannot forbid it after the first degree of probation has been passed. No one will accept a life of [toil ?] with no powers to reward for it. And you ought to tell it to them. There ought to be a President of the occult group in every city where there are several Esotericists. About the members who live scattered some other rule must be arrived at & I leave it to your Irish-Yankee ingenuity.
Now to other matters.
Olcott is coming. He will be here on August 24 or 25th. He wants his sister Isabel Mitchell here and asks me to notify her that he is coming on the last week of Aug. Now I do not know her address nor do I expect very wise or desirable things to come out of this meeting. I will have difficulties enough with him about but if she comes then I [declare ?] she will upset him as sure as you live. With every year he becomes more easily psychologized by those who pander to him (and I can’t) and more stubborn. What shall I do! As I must ask you to notify her, I also leave it to you to see whether it will be in the interests of theosophy to have her, since I feel sure she will be worse for us than a mad bull in a china shop & make him as ungovernable & as mad.
Read my letter [on Theosophist ?] in the Aug. Lucifer  and see what I mean. If it comes to the worst [then ?] I tell you frankly Judge I will break with the T.S. and resign. I cannot bear the idea that I who has brought Theosophy into existence am expected now to bow to Adyar, Harte and the Counsel which is mad to remove Masters, Occultism & all. I rather see everything damned at once & turn a fresh leaf. Fancy Harte printing foolish reporter’s interview from the N.Y. Times & then put in my own journal  still more foolish editorial notes to throw into my [teeth ?] that the “Blavatsky Lodge” is no Theosophical Society!! And see his impudence. Those who have ears let them hear.
Your – ever & always
 Michael Gomes, the transcriber, writes: “Following her visit to Fontainebleau, Mme. Blavatsky went on to the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, where she stayed a few weeks. This letter was probably written from the town of St. Aubin.” (CCA)
 The transcriber reports Arthur B. Griggs had brought the charges that led to Coues dismissal from the Theosophical Society. Griggs became President of the Boston T.S. in 1890. (CCA)
 Bertram Keightley. (CCA)
 We open a new paragraph here to make reading easier. (CCA)
 “Lucifer” is an ancient name for the planet Venus; since the Middle Ages its meaning has been distorted by ill-informed theologians. H.P.B.’s sentence makes a reference to the theosophical magazine “Lucifer”, published by her in London, July 1889 edition, pp. 427-429. In it one can see a public document signed by H. P. B. regarding the management of the Esoteric Section of the theosophical movement, and addressed “To All ‘Pledged’ Theosophists”. It proposes a change of name from Esoteric to Arcane Section. Following that, there are several messages from North-American Esoteric students expressing support to H. P. Blavatsky. (CCA)
 We open a new paragraph here to make reading easier. (CCA)
 H.P.B. is here saying that up to the date of this letter, August 1889, whatever she circulated to the E.S. members (including two Instructions, see next sentence) is no real Occultism, but only a portion of the truth and hints as to the rest. (CCA)
 The transcriber reports this is a reference to the “Religio-Philosophical Journal” published by John Bundy. (CCA)
 This is an important clarification. (CCA)
 The transcriber reports that this letter was published under the title of “A Puzzle from Adyar”, at pp. 507-509, regarding criticisms in “The Theosophist” against the Esoteric School. (CCA)
 “The Theosophist” still belonged to H. P. Blavatsky. (CCA)
[Letter Three, to William Q. Judge, Sometime in 1889]
My dearest W.Q.J.
If, knowing that you are the only man in the E.S. in whom I have confidence enough not to have exacted from him a pledge – you misunderstand me, or doubt my affection for you, or gratitude, then in addition to other things you must be a flapdoodle. To begin, accept my sincere apology for having gone into the wrong box. It appears it is not you (not directly at any rate) but Griggs who has ruffled Bridge’s feathers. But the question is: has Griggs acted on his own hook, or have you, Councillors, with yourself at the head made this rule that a President in chair or before taking the chair should pledge himself? If so it’s silly, my beloved son. The President of each E. group must first of all pledge all his members in his presence to obey him and make them repeat the pledge & then only pledge himself before them all to the Esoteric Constitution. And there are & will be cases when a member of the E.S. does not like to join a group, wants to remain unknown or apart from others & then if I have confidence in him, I may allow him to remain an unattached member. Make this provision, for it is absolutely necessary. Judge, we have too many enemies not to do our level best to keep our good members, & Bridge & Noyes  are honest & sincere, both. They may be fanatics & snap their fingers at personalities, but they are true & devoted to Theosophy to death. Now don’t be a mule-headed Irishman & do not kick against your best friends. There is nothing I would not do for you & I will stick for you till death thro’ thick & thin. Do something to help me; do not make enemies of those who will otherwise remain in our army, simply on account of some damned formality & red-tape rule. You say & write & print you are my agent (of the rather, not [mine ?]). Therefore, it is easy for you to say that the alteration is made by myself if you have any such rule. And look here, if you dare protest in blue or red pencil against what I write  about you in my forthcoming Instructions then – I will curse you on my death bed! You do not know what I do.
You have to be defended whether you will or not. I am collecting affidavits against Darius H. because he is sure to accuse you one day otherwise than in the R.P.J. and we must clean your skirts & show his as black as they are, & protect you & prepare for it beforehand.
Now here Bridge will be invaluable.
Take therefore my advice & do your best to keep him in friendship at whatever cost. Mead sends to you his letter to me & my answer to him. This may mend matters but not unless you help me. I see now that it is Griggs not you. But I have an old tenderness to Griggs & do not want to ruffle his feathers in turn.
Only why the devil you should throw away 3 additional dollars to telegraph, that you had nothing to do in the matter & that you may now resign (very theosophical) I be switched if I know!  Judge you have much to endure & you are overworked. But so have [I]; and if you threaten me with such a thing then I better shut up shop. If you take offence at what I may say in a moment of bewilderment & fear of losing good members & thus strengthening the enemy, then the T.S. is indeed a show & the Cause an unreachable utopia. For mercy sake, our sake & your own, do mend matters & let us hear no more of it. It is two months I am meditating to alter the wording of the Pledge & now I am doing it. It is just the same only a little bit more explicit. May our Saviour the mild Jesus have you in his keeping.
I hate to be accused of wanting to play the Pope and the autocrat.
 The transcriber reports that E.I.K. Noyes was Secretary of the Boston T.S. in 1889. (CCA)
 NOTE BY HPB: It will be in praise J.
 R.P.J.: Religio-Philosophical Journal. (CCA)
 This paragraph and the whole letter show that W. Q. Judge had moments of despondency, or pride, or both, and also that he got involved in conflicting situations which H.P.B., clearly his teacher, tried to avoid and prevent as much as possible. (CCA)
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.