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  Theosophy (Greek, ‘wisdom about God’) was a pan-religious cult founded in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky (1831 - 1891) and Colonel H.S. Olcott. It proclaimed the unity of all religions, and drew beliefs and practices from a variety of sources, both religious and psychic. Theosophists believed in karma, reincarnation and communion with spirits, and practised Christian ethics and morality. From Buddhism they developed the idea of ‘great souls’, calling them ‘world teachers’ who would manifest themselves to end the human race\'s ignorance of and blindness to the divine. Blavatsky herself claimed to be one of these ‘world teachers’, and held seances and ‘miracle’ meetings (sometimes before as many as 100,000 people). The cult was investigated in 1884, and declared fraudulent, but in its day it attracted a huge following, worldwide. KMcL

Further reading Helena Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (1889); , Peter Washington, Madame Blavatsky\'s Baboon.



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