Saving Time: Time, Sources, and Implications of Temporality in the Writings of H. P. Blavatsky
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Parts of this thesis are being published in various academic journals.
The subject of time has long been a subject of fascination by philosophers and researchers alike: What is it? How can it be measured? Is it connected to the larger metaphysical meaning of life (e. g. eternal life, absorption, reincarnation, etc.)? Having some standard measurement of time became a pressing contemporary issue in the Victorian Era as international traveling and communications became more typical. Also, the prominent role of evolution as propagated by Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Natural Selection’ questioned the long accepted Christian beliefs in the biblical ‘Creation’. This forced Victorians to seriously consider the subjects of origin and chronology. It was into this shifting and modernist environment that the Theosophical Society was established emerging out of Spiritualism. H. P. Blavatsky, along with Henry S. Olcott and several other founding members, formed this organization as a means of discovering hidden truths and learning practical occult methods and exercises. Indisputably, Blavatsky was one of the leading forces of this Society and her natural intellect combined with her vast, occult writings brought about one of the most distinctive and philosophical doctrines in the Theosophical belief system — a soteriological view of time. Using her philosophy of time, Blavatsky was able to create the ultimate Victorian mythos that could combine science and world religions into one unified and religious modernist system. This thesis will diachronically study Blavatsky’s writings on time, soteriology and chronology. It will begin in the early days when her philosophy was largely borrowed from comparative mythographers, and trace her writings up until the late 1880s when it became mixed with Hindu and Buddhist notions of time and salvation. While studying the evolution of time and its role in Blavatsky’s teachings is the focal point of this study, the secondary purpose is to examine this system as a Victorian mythology that typified the time period along with its hopes, fears and social anxieties.
PhD in Western Esotericism