If thy soul smiles while bathing in the sunlight of thy life;
If thy soul sings within her chrysalis of flesh and matter;
If thy soul weeps insider her castle of illusion;
If thy soul struggles to break the silver thread that binds her to thy higher self;
Know, O Lanoo, thy soul is of the earth.
- The Voice of the Silence

In the mid-nineteenth century adventurous European ladies undertook the "grand tour" of the classical sites in Italy and Greece. At the age of eighteen Helena Petrovna Blavatsky ran away from her new husband and had adventures to rival any male explorer of her day (see chronology).

Helena Petrovna BlavatskyIn 1873, having had no formal education and speaking very little English, she arrived in New York to write and help co-found The Theosophical Society.  Her first major book was the monumental work 'Isis Unveiled'. As the pile of manuscripts grew she described it as a book on the history and philosophy of the Eastern Schools and their relations with those of our own times. If it was a book written from personal experience, it also contained 1300 quotations and references from other works, most of which she had no access to in America. 'Isis' was published in 1877. The following year, after becoming the first Russian woman to take American citizenship, Blavatsky returned to India where she launched the magazine 'The Theosophist' and worked unceasingly on the development of The Theosophical Society.

Madame Blavatsky with Masters Kuthumi, El Morya and St. GermaineShe started work on articles that would lead to a revision of 'Isis', but in 1885 her guru the Master gave her the plan for The Secret Doctrine, which was to become a completely different book. Whereas 'Isis' consists of a series of articles unconnected by any literary theme 'The Doctrine' follows the stanzas of the ancient Book of Dzyan. In chronological order (albeit with many digressions) it tells the story of the creation of the universe and the evolution of the solar system and life on earth. In particular, it follows the progress of Mankind through the Ages.

By this time Blavatsky was in poor health but she survived two crises (in which the doctors had given up hope) for the sole purpose of completing 'The Doctrine'. She finished the task in Europe and in November 1888 the book was published simultaneously in London and New York. She established The Blavatsky Lodge, where she gave personal instruction, The Esoteric School, and the European Headquarters of The Theosophical Society. She found time to write more books and articles before she died in 1891.

Helena Petrovna BlavatskyBlavatsky claimed that she was the writer, rather than the author, of this prodigious outpouring of words. The modern reader has to choose to believe whether her books are works of imagination aided by a photographic memory or whether she received psychic or astral assistance and instruction. Either way, there is a wealth of material to stimulate the most jaded palate.

I do not claim any special powers or assistance in writing 'O Lanoo! I have tried, by patience and persistence over a long period, to understand the essence of the teachings in 'The Secret Doctrine' and to reproduce this in a simple form which can be read without reference to any other document.

I hope that 'O Lanoo!' will whet your appetite and prepare you for 'The Secret Doctrine' itself.

1831 born at Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine, Russia
1849 married an older man, State Official Nikifor Vassilyevich Blavatsky
1849/50 left her husband and travelled in Turkey, Greece, Egypt and France
1851 met the man who was to her guru in London (always referred to as 'Master')
1851 sailed for Canada, travelled south to New Orleans, Mexico and South America
1852 from the West Indies sailed via the Cape and Ceylon to India
1852 attempted unsuccessfully to enter Tibet
1853 travelled via Java to England
1854 returned to America, crossing The Rockies with a caravan of emigrants
1855 returned to India via Japan and The Straights
1856/57 travelled throughout India, Kashmir, Ladakh, Burma, and parts of Tibet
1858 returned to Russia via Java, France and Germany
1860/65 lived with the native tribes in the Caucasus
1866/67 travelled in the Balkans, Egypt, Syria and Italy
1867 wounded at the Battle of Mentana in Russia
1868 returned to India and Tibet
1871 shipwrecked off the island of Spetsai sailing from Greece to Egypt
1871/72 lived in Cairo
1872 travelled through Syria, Palestine, the Lebanon, and back to Odessa
1873 lived in Paris
1873/78 lived in the USA where she wrote and published 'Isis Unveiled'
1875 co-founder of The Theosophical Society
1878 became an American citizen
1878/85 lived in India
1885/87 worked on 'The Secret Doctrine' in Germany and Belgium
1887 moved to London where she completed 'The Doctrine'
1887 founded The Blavatsky Lodge
1888 founded The Esoteric School
1890 established the European Headquarters of The Theosophical Society
1891 died in London; cremated at Woking Crematorium, Surrey