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K Paul Johnson on HPB, her Alleged Use of Hashish, etc.

Apr 10, 1998 08:18 PM
by Caldwell/Graye

K Paul Johnson on HPB, her Alleged Use of Hashish, etc.

Concerning Dallas TenBroeck's post and K. Paul Johnson's reply about
whether HPB smoked hashish or not, one must ask:  Are these reports true
are they false?  And how do we determine their reliability?  

Mr. Johnson mentions the testimonies of Albert Rawson and Hannah Wolff
in which they claim that Madame Blavatsky smoked hashish.  Does Mr.
Johnson believe these testimonies?  I assume Mr. Tenbroeck would not.

And if K. Paul Johnson and others believe the hashish stories,
do they ALSO believe the stories that H.P. Blavatsky drank 
intoxicating liquors?

>From my Blavatsky files, I have an article by William Emmette Coleman 
titled:  "The Alleged Use of Intoxicating Liquors by Madame Blavatsky"
published in THE RELIGIO-PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNAL (Chicago, Illinois),
7, 1888, p. 7.

Mr. Coleman writes:

"I am not in the habit of making allegations, such as this concerning
Mme. Blavatsky's use of stimulating beverages, unless I have
trustworthy evidence of their truth.  In this instance, my evidence
concerning this lady's drinking habits in the particulars
stated was derived from the following sources:

(1)  My late wife was a resident of the same house with Mme. 
Blavatsky in Philadelphia in 1874 or 1875, on Girard street.
. . . . My wife was one of the most scrupulously truthful persons 
I ever met, and I am confident that her statements concerning
Madame Blavatsky's [drinking, etc.] habits can be implicitly relied

(2)  Several years before his death, Mr. D.D. Home, the 
celebrated medium corresponded with me concerning Madame
Blavatsky. He informed me of a number of episodes in her
life that were known to him, all of a very damaging 
character. . . . I had no cause to doubt the truth of
Mr. Home's statements concerning the Madame's personal
habits, and I was and am convinced that all that he
said was true, including her use of intoxicants.

(3 and 4)  I have been told many details of Mme. B's
life, both while she was in Paris and in New York, by
two ladies formerly intimately associated with her. One
of these ladies . . . gave me a detailed history of the numerous
impostures practiced by the Madame alike upon Olcott and others
in New York. . . . I was and am convinced of the truth
of the statements made to me by these two ladies, including 
those anent her personal habits. . . ."

So we have Daniel D. Home, Mrs. Coleman, and two other 
ladies telling W.E. Coleman of Madame Blavatsky's
use of intoxicating liquors.  Are their testimonies true?
Reliable?  If Johnson and others believe the hashish stories,
what about the "liquor" stories?

Again, does Johnson and others believe the testimonies of
Emma Coulomb in her 1884 book and Vsevolod S. Solovyov in his
1895 book concerning Madame Blavatsky's gross impostures?

Madame Coulomb's and Mr. Solovyov's testimonies are QUITE
DETAILED AND LENGTHY in comparison to the testimonies concerning 
Blavatsky's alleged uses of hashish AND liquor.

But the question to answer about all these claims is:

Are they true or false?  And how can one determine
their reliability/unreliability?

Many Blavatsky students will indignantly dismiss these charges 
against H.P.B. but will probably show little if any interest
in actually trying to determine whether the charges
are true or not.  I contend that thoughtful students and those
inclined to the study of history might attempt to investigate
the subject without apriori acceptance or rejection of the

Some food for thought. . . .

Daniel H. Caldwell

> Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 12:06:43 -0400 (EDT)
> From: "K. Paul Johnson" <>
> To:
> Subject: HPB and hashish
> Message-ID: <>
> > Dallas TenBroeck  writes:
> >
> > I read a posting dated April 6th 1998 from "dport@ozmail" in which
> > it is alleged without any corroborative reference given that HPB
> > smoked hashish daily.  This appears to be a deliberate insult aimed
> > at HPB.  But it demands evidence that supports it.
> Actually, if you had read other posts from the same source you
> would realize it couldn't have been meant as an insult at all,
> since the author promotes the use of visionary drugs.
> As for supporting evidence; of course she could not have smoked
> it daily after the founding of the TS without someone noticing
> it.  But there are two sources for her use of hashish earlier in
> her life (again, the *daily* bit is unsupported): Albert Rawson's
> article in the February 1892 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated,
> entitled "Madame Blavatsky-- A Theosophical Occult Apology," and
> an article by Hannah Wolff in (I think) Two Worlds.  At any rate
> this source is listed in some available bibliographies, including
> Marion Meade's if I'm not mistaken.
> >
> > If this is true, may we have a reference that is reliable?
> Somehow I doubt that you will accept Rawson or Wolff as reliable,
> precisely because they make these statements about hashish.  But
> that is circular reasoning.
> >
> > If it is false may we have a retraction and an apology !
> What assumptions underly your expectation that someone who says
> something about HPB you don't like hearing owes you or "us" an
> apology?
> >
> > Since HPB is not present to answer this calumny directly, allow me
> > to PROTEST clearly and definitely on her behalf.
> I don't think she needs that service from you or that your
> taking on the role of demander of proofs, demander of apologies,
> and protester of alleged calumnies has any positive effect.
> Again, what assumptions underly your taking on this role?
> >
> > It is cowardly to make accusations in the absence of a person, and
> > especially after they are dead and unable to answer.
> >
> But as I understand the source, he doesn't view the allegations
> at at all negative, quite the reverse.
> Let me articulate your apparent assumptions in an unflattering,
> but honest attempt to get at the heart of the matter:
> 1. Anyone who makes any statement about HPB that *I personally*
> regard as insulting, because it conflicts with my view of her, had
> damn well better provide overwhelming legal proof of it, or else
> withdraw said statement or apologize.  They have *ME* to answer
> to.
> 2.  But I can make any statement about HPB that *I personally*
> believe to be true, even knowing that it conflicts with views of
> others on the list, without providing one iota of evidence for
> it.  These spiritual truths are beyond the need of proof to the
> wayward souls who can't see their obvious and undeniable
> accuracy.  *I* answer to no one.
> How does that sound?  Pretty dogmatic and self-centered, huh?
> PJ

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