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Madame Blavatsky, The Possessed Woman Who Brought Occultism To America

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In October 1874, a Russian woman named Madame Blavatsky arrived on a farm in Chittenden, Vermont. It was no ordinary country outing: She had traveled to the Eddy Brothers’ farm, where, for many months, witnesses had spoken of bizarre supernatural events that were occurring on an almost nightly basis. Spirits of the dead would appear, and the brothers—both claiming to be psychic mediums—would levitate before stunned audiences. The paranormal activity drastically increased following Blavatsky’s arrival. Reports emerged of the Russian woman conjuring up ghostly apparitions from faraway lands, who proceeded to play haunting tunes on non-existent musical instruments before disappearing in a puff of smoke. That 1874 séance was not the first or last time Blavatsky would intrigue the supernaturally curious—and she has polarized opinion ever since. One later leader of the Theosophical movement she helped found, William Kingsland, described her as “the most remarkable as well as the most notable woman of her age.” In contrast, the Society for Psychical Research memorably dismissed her as “one of the most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting imposters in history… (READ MORE)

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