This Article First Appeared In The Scroll On Apr 23, 2023
In 1874, Henry Steel Olcott’s life took a dramatic turn. Until then, he had been a journalist, an agricultural expert, insurance lawyer, soldier and an exposer of hoaxes and frauds. But that year, he renewed his interest in spiritualism – a hazy mix of mysticism, belief in a pristine past, and a search for communion with spirits and the paranormal, including the divine kind.
The catalyst for this change was a chance encounter with Helena Blavatsky, a Russian émigré with a past as varied as his own. In September, Olcott was investigating a series of “spirit appearances” on a Vermont farm when he met the woman whose seances and mystical conversations with otherworldly figures had caught the attention of the press and the public alike.