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Episode 821 – Mysterious Universe

Gary Lachman joins us this week to discuss his new biography on ‘The Mother of Modern Spirituality’, Madame Helena Blavatsky. 

Still being hailed as an icon and scorned as a fraud more than 120 years after her death, Blavatsky was a mystic, occult writer, child of Russian aristocrats, and spiritual seeker who traveled five continents, and founded the Theosophical Society.

Oh and there’s also her ability (according to MU) to magically fly across the himalayas while smoking a pound of tobacco per day.

Read on for show notes, music, and book links.

This episode is sponsored by Audible. Click HERE for your FREE audiobook download.

Gary Lachman

Gary’s Website


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The Extension is exclusive to Plus+ Members. To learn how to join, click HERE

The Lung-Gom-Pa Runners of Old Tibet

Marathon Monks of Mt Hiei


Sivey – Pink Matter (Sivey Slow Burn Edit)

Lapalux – The Hours

Jack Dixon – Sequin (Original Mix) 

αtμ – ♥(V) – ‘silly games’

The Townhouses – Tokyo

YLEM – Incandescence

Feadz Kito – Wettex (Cashmere Cat Remix)

Sivey – Pink Matter (Sivey Slow Burn Edit)

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  • So Ang Lee wanted Hulk to move like a Lung-Gom-Pa! It all makes sense now!!

    Re. Blavatsky’s ideas on Spiritualism and the ‘astral hobos’, or how what mediums were channeling were just the discarded elements of the deceased’s personalities, it reminded me of how Facius Cardan invoked 2 sylphs, who revealed to him that after death nothing of the person survives, which might imply that only your true self is intended to keep on developing on to next levels of consciousness; and that all these little bytes of personality information are left scattered in the Ether, maybe to be eventually attached to a new soul –which might be one possible explanation for re-incarnation, and how people might remember ‘past lives’.

  • Tsuroshi

    So…Blavatsky did not believe in re-incarnation at all? I thought the idea was that a person’s soul or spirit or whatever would enter a cycle of re-incarnation to this world until it attained certain knowledge and experience to allow it to pass on to the next place, whatever that may be. Blavatsky thought we just went thru life here once and moved on after death? (I’m obviously sorely lacking in my knowledge of Blavatsky lore…gonna need to get that book)

    I wonder if those shells, or astral hobos as she called them, have anything to do with the voices that plague the people diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia? Perhaps the root cause of that strange “mental illness” is actually just a slightly elevated perception that allows a person to hear the voices of those fragments of ego left behind?
    My grandmother on my mother’s side has schizo symptoms. They are very mild relative to most diagnosed cases, but seemed to increase in intensity as she aged. She immersed herself in religion when she had never been religious before…I think in an attempt to deal with what she was hearing, somehow, without having to tell anyone about it, because the idea of being thought crazy was terrifying to her. It was a mostly successful ploy, I suppose. She was surly, irascible, and difficult to deal with because (I think) the stuff she ‘heard’ was never positive and never gave her a chance to be in a good mood (think All CNN, All The Time). So she didn’t really have friends; people just mostly avoided her….but no one thought she was ‘crazy’.
    Except me. Only I didn’t exactly think she was crazy. I knew she heard things because as a teenager I would often go over to her house and help out with stuff, and stay the night. We’d make a massively awesome and unhealthy dinner, hang out, and watch bad scifi movies until she fell asleep, and I’d go crash on the couch. During the day, when I was doing stuff around the house or whatever, I would often hear her in some other part of the house, having one-sided conversations (or rather, I was only hearing one side). With most people she was able to pass this off as ‘talking to the cats’; she had five or six cats living with her all the time and everyone accepted that explanation. But I knew she wasn’t talking to the cats. They were not always in the house, for one thing…and she’d be talking anyway. Some times I would pass a doorway where I could see her when she was talking, and several times I noticed that she would be looking up at a corner of the room where the walls met the ceiling. Not just glancing up there, either…she’d be engaged with it, expressing body language at it the same way people do when talking face to face with another person.
    So why didn’t I think she was ‘crazy’, exactly? I probably would have, but a couple of times when I was hangin’ out with her, I’ll be damned if I didn’t hear those voices too. For only a few seconds each time, kinda like what you hear when turning the tuning dial of an old radio and you pass a talk station. The first time it happened, we were watching tv in her room and I didn’t visibly react, I just kinda froze, then looked around with my eyes. I noticed two things immediately: she was turned away from the tv slightly, not watching it but not really looking at anything else either, with a tense expression on her face…and all three of the cats in my field of view were looking up at a corner by the ceiling, sitting completely still but with eyes fully opened and ears at attention, in the manner cats have when something has engaged their ‘fight or flight’ instinct but they haven’t yet chosen which to do (I call this “Yellow Alert.”)
    That corner was the apparent origin of the voice I had so briefly heard. It was on the opposite side of the room from the television, which was tiny and had only one little speaker for sound. And it definitely was not my grandmother’s voice.

    I’m not sure if she ever realized I sometimes picked up a bit of what she was hearing. I never said anything about it to her; I couldn’t even imagine how to begin such a conversation. I’m not even sure if she ever noticed the cats apparently picked up some of it too.

    So was she a schizophrenic? Yes. She heard voices. But was she crazy? Well, yes, and as time went on, she became more so. But in my opinion, she wasn’t crazy because she was hearing voices in her head. She was crazy because she could hear voices, and they drove her fucking crazy.

    She eventually suffered a stroke, a fairly mild one, from which she has outwardly almost completely recovered. But–and this is wild–she doesn’t hear things anymore. Not only that, she doesn’t really remember that she used to hear things, or that she used to ‘talk to the cats’. Her memory is otherwise intact. And her disposition is completely different now…she’s just a sweet little old lady, like anyone would want as a grandma. The irate, tight-lipped, take-no-nonsense woman I remember is gone, erased by the stroke as though she never was.

    My mother says the stroke “killed the mean” in her. I think that’s almost right…I think it killed the ear that allowed her to hear the mean in something else. Something that followed her and tormented her and ruined her whole life and every relationship she had, and finally gave her a stroke before she became free of it.
    I’m sure Ben and Aaron would tell me I need to do some Lightwork and increase my vibrations or something, because when I depart this mortal coil and assume my spirit form, my first act will not be loving and transcendent. I am going to find the thing that tormented her and kick some fucking astral hobo ass.

    (normally I go back and proofread my comments before posting them, but…wow. tl;dr )

  • >”Blavatsky thought we just went thru life here once and moved on after death”

    I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest.

    >”Perhaps the root cause of that strange “mental illness” is actually just
    a slightly elevated perception that allows a person to hear the voices
    of those fragments of ego left behind?”

    I can very well accept that. Maybe the problem arises from not being able to have a powerful ‘volume dial’ so you can tone the voices down.

    BTW thank you so much for sharing the story of your granny. It was awesome 🙂

    PS: When you heard the voice, was it male or female? or couldn’t you tell?

  • jlyn1980

    I loved your interview with Gary, I had never heard of Madam Blavatsky before but after this I want to read her book. Keep this good stuff coming guys. PS I love it when Ben pushes Aaron’s buttons about 12/21/2012.

  • 8×10 Monk

    RUSSIA PANICS OVER MAYAN APOCALYPSE: Reacting to conspiracy theorists who think that the long-awaited Mayan apocalypse on Dec. 21 will come true, Russians have begun buying supplies, building strange archways, and otherwise losing their minds. But hold on to your fur hats, Russian officials said last week. The minister of emergency situations announced that he has “methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet earth” and there is no need to fear. It’s not just Mother Russia that has had to deal with Mayan fever, however – from France to Mexico, people have begun acting strangely in response to the ancient prediction.

  • 8×10 Monk

    It always bothered me that for some reason mediums could connect with our relatives but yet there’s evidence that we do move on to a new life whatever that may be. So why were they able to communicate with the dead? Blavatsky’s explanation of discarded personalities seems to answer my question very well. I feel I got a great answer to an old and persistent thought.

    Thanks guys for this interview. I can move on now to other persistent questions.

  • I don’t see people acting strangely around here. At least not in Mexico city 😉

  • boyninja

    @Tsuroshi: another explanation could be the “TV” reception idea discussed in Strassman’s “DMT” and initially proposed by thinkers like William James. The idea is that most of our brains are naturally tuned to a specific channel, “normal.” However, due to alterations of brain chemistry through whatever means (surgery, health conditions, altered states of conscious–natural and induced) some are able to tune into another channel, “strange.” This “strange” channel is not normally accessible to the majority of the population but, in essence, allows those tuned to it to view the phenomena and artefacts that are ever-present, but remain invisible from within the “normal” channel.

  • Tsuroshi

    Sorry, meant to reply to this earlier but forgot.

    I could not honestly assign a gender to the voice. My guess is, it was male–if gender even applies to …whatever it was.

    I once listened to some very old recordings of some ‘seance’ sessions with a ‘legitimate’ medium. Throughout the session, you could hear the voices of the attendees of the seance, speaking to other voices that were, I guess, supposed to be voices of apparitions or spirits or something. One of them was very loud and clear and did quite a bit of lecturing/monologue near the beginning of the session–I think it was supposed to be the voice of the “spirit guide” or “companion” of the medium–and one thing that struck me was that this voice had much the same “genderless” quality as what I heard snippets of in my grandmother’s house.
    It had an almost singsong way of speaking, and combined that with an idiom that for some reason made me think of broadway plays set in the Victorian era. The voice was high pitched, but not out of the range of feasibility for a male voice.

    I dunno. It’s hard to describe. I’ve been trying to locate the website of the foundation that provided the session recordings I heard, so you can hear what I’m talking about….but so far, no luck.

  • It’s all right. The genderless quality makes sense though 🙂

  • Tsuroshi

    Yeah, and you know…….?? All of our Mexican friends failed to show up and party with us at our “We’re All Going Away” party. Hmmmm…..