Helena Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine

(1888)

Audience

Although Blavatsky addresses her book to the “general reader,” the actual readership of The Secret Doctrine has been comparatively small, composed mainly of dedicated Theosophists and occultists. The book was written in English, and Blavatsky’s intended audience was Western. This is why she continually compares Western to Eastern sources and refers to Western precedents such as the works of Hermes and Paracelsus, which were familiar to Victorian occultists. Much of The Secret Doctrine’s influence is indirect and best realized through the publication of many Theosophist, Spiritualist, and New Age books that are rooted in its teachings. Today, The Secret Doctrine is available online, and Theosophist societies hold lectures and book studies to help first-time readers better comprehend its meaning.

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Alchemical transmutation overseen by Hermes (Library of Congress)

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