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Blavatsky Net - Theosophy

This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy, study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.

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Prediction of World Wars of 20th Century


Blavatsky claims that Eastern Initiates have preserved records for millions of years and from these have the ability to predict events astrologically. She contrasts this with the Europeans of her day who see only astronomy in the movement of the stars. She then asserts that based on that esoteric knowledge, Europe is on the "eve of a cataclysm". Students interpret this as being fulfilled by the two world wars of the 20th century. At issue also, is the claim that whole nations are subject to a collective karma and a collective astrological chart.


Western astrology was much weaker in Blavatsky's day than now. It was technically less proficient and had less general acceptance. She begins a discussion in the Secret Doctrine on this subject by arguing in favor of astrology. That such argument seems hardly necessary today, (at least to many of those reading this page), is one more indication of society moving toward her views. We should note in particular her emphasis on the astrology of nations. Below, we will show that using astrology to predict the course of a nation was virtually non-existent in the West in her day - though it is recently receiving more attention. This relates to Theosophy's idea of "distributive karma" also discussed below.

It is true, on the other hand, that the exoteric cycles of every nation have been correctly made to be derived from, and depend on, sidereal motions. The latter are inseparably blended with the destinies of nations and men. But in their purely physical sense, Europe knows of no other cycles than the astronomical, and makes its computations accordingly. ... (SDi645)

She speaks of time manifesting as karma:

But with the pagans, with whom, ... [time] manifesting co-ordinately with, and only through Karma, and being that KARMA-NEMESIS itself, the cycles meant something more than a mere succession of events, or a periodical space of time of more or less prolonged duration. For they were generally marked with recurrences of a more varied and intellectual character than are exhibited in the periodical return of seasons or of certain constellations. Modern wisdom is satisfied with astronomical computations and prophecies based on unerring mathematical laws. Ancient Wisdom added to the cold shell of astronomy the vivifying elements of its soul and spirit -- ASTROLOGY. And, as the sidereal motions do regulate and determine other events on Earth - besides potatoes and the periodical disease of that useful vegetable - (a statement which, not being amenable to scientific explanation, is merely derided, while accepted) - those events have to be allowed to find themselves predetermined by even simple astronomical computations. Believers in astrology will under stand our meaning, sceptics will laugh at the belief and mock the idea. Thus they shut their eyes, ostrich-like, to their own fate ... (SDi645)

Why, then, should occultists and astrologers, as learned [as astronomers], be disbelieved, when they prophesy the return of some cyclic event on the same mathematical principle? Why should the claim that they know it be ridiculed? Their forefathers and predecessors, having recorded the recurrence of such events in their time and day, throughout a period embracing hundreds of thousands of years, the conjunction of the same constellations must necessarily produce, if not quite the same, at any rate, similar effects. Are the prophecies derided, because of the claim of the hundreds of thousands of years of observation, and the millions of years of the human races? In its turn modern Science is laughed at for its far more modest geological and anthropological figures, by those who hold to Biblical chronology. Thus Karma adjusts even human laughter at the mutual expense of sects, learned societies, and individuals. Yet in the prognostication of such future events, at any rate, all foretold on the authority of cyclic recurrences, there is no psychic phenomenon involved. It is neither prevision, nor prophecy; no more than is the signalling of a comet or star, several years before its appearance. (SDi646).

Finally, the prediction: England, France, and Europe are all on the eve of a cataclysm. Clearly this was fulfilled by the two world wars. And her publication in 1888 was on the "eve" as she predicted.

It is simply knowledge and mathematically correct computations which enable the WISE MEN OF THE EAST to foretell, for instance, that England is on the eve of such or another catastrophe; France, nearing such a point of her cycle, and Europe in general threatened with, or rather, on the eve of a cataclysm, which her own cycle of racial Karma has led her to. The reliability of the information depends, of course, on the acceptation or rejection of the claim for a tremendous period of historical observation. Eastern Initiates maintain that they have preserved records of the racial development and of events of universal import ever since the beginning of the Fourth Race - that which preceded being traditional. (SDi646).

Finally, she argues that if astrological charts are valid for individuals, why not for nations?

It is now amply proved that even horoscopes and judiciary astrology are not quite based on a fiction, and that stars and constellations, consequently, have an occult and mysterious influence on, and connection with, individuals. And if with the latter, why not with nations, races, and mankind in bulk? This, again, is a claim made on the authority of the Zodiacal records. (SDi647)

Exactly one hundred years after the publishing of the Secret Doctrine, Nicholas Campion moved forward the study of mundane (worldly) astrology by publishing in 1988 The Book of World Horoscopes. It was an attempt to begin a rational mundane astrology based on valid dates "of birth" for many countries. In it, he makes an interesting statement clarifying the virtual non-existence of national astrology in Blavatsky's day, and showing that it was as late as 1988 for an empirical basis to begin to form for this study. We can note that while national astrology may seem natural to us, Blavatsky was arguing a seeming novelty in her time. We can also note: this has been done long long ago.

It may be surprising to the modern astrologer that national horoscopes are a relatively new invention. The first known political horoscope is 2,500 years old, and this is hardly surprising, for astrology's original concerns were political. Yet astrologers at the beginning of this century still rarely used horoscopes for countries. Instead they relied heavily on ingress and lunation charts combined with national astrological rulerships largely derived from Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos. Horoscopes were cast for cities, for politicians, for royalty and for events such as coronations and elections, but not for states. I have discussed the possible reasons for this in Mundane Astrology, drawing on the fact that the nation state is a fairly recent concept in human history. Even at the beginning of this century there was anxious correspondence in astrological journals concerning the relative merits of zodiacal rulerships for geographical areas, such as Palestine and for peoples, such as the Jews. To combine these two into the chart for the nation state - the artificial institution of political organization in a defined geographical location, did not seem to occur to mundane astrologers.

The earliest example of a national horoscope known to the author seems to be that for the USA published by Ebenezer Sibly in 1787, and Carter's Political Astrology, published in 1951, was the first British text to pay serious attention to these charts.
The material produced in this book is therefore almost entirely the product of recent research, and of these Sibley's horoscope for the USA was the only non-British chart published in the UK before this century. (The Book of World Horoscopes by Nicholas Campion, page 35)

As an indication of the novelty of even the simple view that collectives have karma, there is this statement on the minute attention paid to the corresponding department in astrology:

Astrologers themselves must share the responsibility for the exclusion of astrology from its former spheres of influence [in charting the fate of collectives], for the amount of time devoted to mundane astrology in this century is minute compared to the time dedicated to natal astrology. (Mundane Astrology, By Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion, and Charles Harvey, 1984, page 13)

After Blavatsky's bold assertions of ancient, now esoteric, knowledge of astrology pertaining to the collectives, it is interesting to hear the above author, Campion (along with two others), writing four years earlier and note the degree of hesitancy in his expression:

After the chart of the individual, there is presumably a chart of the family, of the local community, the town, the administrative area, the state, the country, the grouping of countries and finally, presumably, of humanity as a whole. All these interconnect like a series of Chinese boxes, together with other charts for sub-groups and organizations to which the individual belongs through work and other involvements. In this way any one individual is probably interrelated with many dozens of different wholenesses, each with its own chart. (ibid. 1984, page 310)

The relationship of the astrology of the individual to the astrology of the group is further amplified:

If, as in natal astrology, we can detect the operation of the planetary cycles through the charts of individuals, so too we can expect to find these principles reflected at each level, in each nation and its smaller sub-divisions, in its separate states, counties, cities, towns, and even villages, and families within communities. Of course, as always, we have to recognize that there will be a hierarchy here. The smaller unity will normally tend to be subsumed under the unities of which it is a part. ... By the same token the chart for any such collective enterprise must inevitably reflect the kinds of experience that the community will be likely to constellate at a given time. Thus, as Carter points out, the charts of Hiroshima or Nagasaki would, if known, surely have indicated in some fairly clear way the catastrophe that was to befall them, just as the true charts of London, Paris, Madrid, New York etc. ought to show their subsequent rise to power. Unfortunately, today, reliable charts of this class are no less wrapped in ambiguities and uncertainties than are the charts of their parent nation. (Ibid. Page 311)

We find H. P. Blavatsky explaining these ideas in 1889 under the label of "distributive karma" in her book The Key to Theosophy. ("THEO" is a generic knowledgeable Theosophist, and "ENQ" is a generic enquirer.)

ENQ. But, surely, all these evils which seem to fall upon the masses somewhat indiscriminately are not actual merited and INDIVIDUAL karma.

THEO. No, they cannot be so strictly defined in their effects as to show that each individual environment, and the particular conditions of life in which each person finds himself, are nothing more than the retributive Karma which the individual generated in a previous life. We must not lose sight of the fact that every atom is subject to the general law governing the whole body to which it belongs, and here we come upon the wider track of the Karmic law, Do you not perceive that the aggregate of individual Karma becomes that of the nation to which those individuals belong, and further, that the sum total of National Karma is that of the World? The evils that you speak of are not peculiar to the individual or even to the Nation, they are more or less universal; and it is upon this broad line of Human interdependence that the law of Karma finds its legitimate and equable issue.

Blavatsky explains that the fundamental reason for the reality of group karma is that we are fundamentally not separate as individuals as we think we are.

ENQ. Do I, then, understand that the law of Karma is not necessarily an individual law?

THEO. That is just what I mean. It is impossible that Karma could readjust the balance of power in the world's life and progress, unless it had a broad and general line of action. It is held as a truth among Theosophists that the interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as "separateness"; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive. (Key to Theosophy by Blavatsky, p202-3)

Blavatsky does not tire of pointing out that the ancients knew these things. So we make that point one more time with an example from the days when things were simple.

In Ptolemy's day this would seem to have been a less common problem for he states: 'In certain cases . . where the date of foundation of a metropolis cannot be ascertained, the Mid-Heaven in the nativity of the reigning king or other actual chief magistrate, is to be substituted, and considered as that part of the zodiac with which it chiefly sympathizes'. This would seem to imply that knowledge of the foundation charts of cities was relatively common. (Mundane Astrology, By Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion, and Charles Harvey, 1984, page 311)

Reed Carson, 1998

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