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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Blavatsky Letter to J. Ralston Skinner

J. D. Buck
update 27/06/17: an esteemed correspondent, fc (aka friendly chap) has kindly sent in an alternate manuscript reading that seems considerably clearer, therefore we decided to replace the previous version with this one.
This post is a letter from HPB to the erudite Masonic kabbalist J. Ralston Skinner whom Blavatsky helped promote by quoting his remarkable Kabbalistic study Key to the Hebrew-Egyptian mystery in the source of measures in the Secret Doctrine. As this letter to Jirah Dewey Buck indicates, she was introduced to him via Buck, a prominent early American Theosophist from Cincinnati.

Accounts of Buck’s relation with Skinner can be found in his Modern World Movements (39-42) and more recently in Letters to the Sage (Bowen/Johnson) (107-113). The Blavatsky-Skinner correspondence is preserved at Harvard and includes a soon-to-be published 40-page (!) letter via Theosophical History.
The letter below was written during the stressful post-Coulomb/Hodgson affair period, accounts of which are vividly delineated in the Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett.

My dear & kind brother, I lost Mr. Skinner‘s address so please pass him on this enclosed volume & please ask him to forgive me my flapdoodle English & unsteady writing. But I am in such hurry for want of time that every moment is precious to me.

I hope he won‘t mind my telling him the plain truth what I think, namely that he found or discovered only one of the 7 keys to esoteric interpretation & universal language. He ought not to dwarf the grandiose thoughts of old by squaring them all & limiting their many meanings on the Procrustean bed of terrestrial phallicism. He is too enthusiastic about the Jews altogether & sacrifices history of facts to his preconceptions in favor of the Hebrew which is not an ancient language unless one accepts Bible Chronology. 

But it is the only fault I find in him & I hope I am mistaken in his fanatical views. He is the grandest man & mind (in the direction of the occult) I know of at present; a natural born genius & helped beyond any doubt. I don‘t say ‘helped` mind you, in discovering in his independent research what he has, but helped from the lethal effects & influences of his discoveries. He would have become, uninitiated as he is, insane long ago, or dead or strangled at night under the pretext of an apoplexy - had it not been for the helping & watching hand above him; not of one of our masters but of a Dhyan Chohan, a Planetary - the rarest thing possible, & whom I verily fear he mistakes for God instead of a god-partie & conditioned on his plane. This I know from masters who spoke of him when I was yet at Adyar, referring to him as the "Ohio-Kabbalist & mathematician" - & that I had never heard his name even. Funny I should have never heard of him or his book when in America. His intuitional powers are as marvelous as his mathematical knowledge, indeed. Many thanks for his previous M.S.S.- etc. etc.

H. P. Blavatsky

Received March 3rd, 1887
(from RJGA v.2, n.6, June 2013-w/emendations for readability)


  1. Hey Jon, it's the Research Journal for German Antiquities...