Podcast 48 – The Life and Work of Col. Henry Steel Olcott

Originally published on June 18, 2008

Our good friend Mitch Horowitz returns in this episode to reveal the amazing life of Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907). Our conversation starts with young Olcott’s humble beginnings, early successes in scientific agriculture, and investigations into military contractor corruption during the U.S. Civil War and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It was after this point that Olcott’s life took an even more interesting turn.

Theosophical Society Seal

Mitch describes how Olcott met Madame Blavatsky. The two helped found the Theosophical Society soon thereafter. Olcott served as the first president of the organization and did a tremendous amount to advance their cause. We talk about their Mahatmas and Olcott’s experiences with the Masters. Mitch describes the fascinating story of young Mohandas Gandhi’s involvement with Theosophy. We also discuss the Herculean work Olcott did to promote Buddhism and Hinduism. It is nothing short of miraculous how a man from such humble beginnings, without a formal education, was able to influence literally billions of people.

Col. Henry Steel Olcott

“There is a great earnestness in the character of this man and I think that too must have had something to do with the effectiveness of Theosophy as an organization. He brought principles and ideals and sincerity into Theosophy… Part of the reason we’ve heard of Henry Olcott was … that he was a man of great character… There was something of moral substance to this man. Studying the life of Henry Steel Olcott can challenge all kinds of prejudices, received opinions, and ideas about occultism, about the Western Esoteric Tradition, about how supernaturalism played itself out in the … nineteenth and twentieth centuries… His warmth, ethics, earnestness, and sincerity made him a great man of his time.” – Mitch Horowitz

Flag of Buddhism by Henry Steel Olcott

relevant links:

Mitch Horowitz

(previous appearances include Podcast 42 – The Life and Work of Dr. Paul Foster Case, Mitch Horowitz and “Occult America” pt.1 ,Mitch Horowitz and “Occult America” pt.2)

Henry Steel Olcott” Wikipedia entry

Spiritualism” Wikipedia entry

Madame Blavatsky” Wikipedia entry

People from Other Worlds” by Henry S. Olcott

Morya” Wikipedia entry

Kuthumi” Wikipedia entry

Ascended Master Discussion

The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge” by K. Paul Johnson

The Count De Saint Germain and H.P.B.: Two Messengers of the White Lodge” by Henry S. Olcott

Sri Aurobindo” Wikipedia entry

Theosophy” Wikipedia entry

Theosophical Society” Wikipedia entry

Theosophical Society Adyar” Wikipedia entry

official website of The Theosophical Society – Adyar

The Theosophist October 1889 to April 1890” by H.S. Olcott

The Theosophist October 1890 to April 1891” by H.S. Olcott

Buddhism” Wikipedia entry

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi” Wikipedia entry

intro music by HipGnosis

intermission music by The Quiet Earth Orchestra – excerpt of “Simple”

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Wasantha July 21, 2011, 12:52 PM

    Nice! I am looking forward to more of Mitch’s publications.

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