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Madame Blavatsky's Baboon

Feb 06, 1995 12:53 PM
by Sy Ginsburg

To Bill Parette and others interested:

There is a good review by Robert Ellwood , in my opinion, of
Peter Washington, Madame Blavatsky's Baboon (London: Secker &
Warburg 1993) in Gnosis Magazine Winter 1994.  I'll quote
Ellwood's final paragraph which I think sums it up:

"Despite the occasional intriguing or infuriating insight, this
book cannot be considered - any more than it considers itself -
an important scholarly or interpretive work on modern occult
movements.  It can be recommended as a good read to those who
enjoy this kind of history, provided they don't take it too

For those unfamiliar, the book is a kind of critical and negative
historical review of modern occult movements.  Its subtitle is
"Theosophy and the Emergence of the Western Gurus." Its really
quite humorous if taken the right way.

There are sections not only on Blavatsky, but on Gurdjieff,
Krishnamurti and others - generally showing the negative aspects
of these various people.  More, I think about their foibles as
personalities, than their teachings.  I was especially interested
in the part on Gurdjieff because Washington asked me for some
information.  It's clear that he knows very little about the
Gurdjieff teaching and I doubt that he knows a whole lot about
the real importance of Theosophy.  But, as Ellwood says, it is a
good read.  Especially if you do not mind your "idols" being
taken down a peg or two.

Hope this helps.
Sy Ginsburg

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