The Miracle Club was a group formed by Henry Steel Olcott with the reluctant concurrence of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in New York City to investigate the phenomena of Spiritualism. While the organization existed for only a few months, it served as a predecessor to the Theosophical Society founded on November 17, 1875.
On May 4, 1875, the New York newspaper Daily Graphic published a letter from Colonel Olcott that was mostly a refutation of criticism of his new book People of the Other World. He concluded by announcing the formation of the club:
The large sale which my book is meeting proves that the public interest in "materialization" has been in nowise abated by the preposterous expose of the Katie King humbug, while before long things will occur in this city that will raise the excitement to fever heat. A "Miracle Club" is being organized by some of the best of our citizens, who have secured the attendance of a private gentleman, in whose presence every wonder of modern Spiritualism, including the materialization of full-length spirit forms, occurs without a cabinet and in the light. (Henry S. Olcott. Lotos Club, May 1)
A few days later, a Daily Graphic writer wrote a mocking response that materializing ghosts should be required to pay an "annual subscription" (dues) and suggested various other comical club rules. Colonel Olcott, who was on very good terms with the newspapermen of New York, replied:
The "Miracle Club," which excites the hilarity of your paragraphist, is not a body given up to feasting and drinking with ghosts, but a circle of gentlemen who are determined to probe this thing to the bottom, under conditions that have never heretofore been offered. The party includes one of the most popular clergymen of this city, a judge, two United States judicial officers, a physician or two, one of our greatest painters, and some lawyers. We intend to meet twice a week in a private house, in a lighted room, without a "cabinet," and we hope to see every important phase of "spirit manifestation" enacted before our eyes. The medium is a private gentleman, brother to one of the best known men in this country, who has possessed this gift for twenty years, and fought against its display until he can resist no longer. We hope that before long we will be in a position to invite the most daring and learned of our scientists to pursue, either in committee or singly, as they choose, a course of experiments that may demonstrate the nature and potency of this now occult force of nature, and thus stop the mouths of the joking editors that are now stretched open with their broad grins.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky wrote in her Scrapbook:
“An attempt in consequence of orders received from T*** B*** through P*** personating J[ohn] K[ing]. Ordered to begin telling the public the truth about the phenomena and their mediums. And now my martyrdom will begin! I shall have all the Spiritualists against me, in addition to the Christians and the Sceptics. Thy will, oh M., be done. H. P. B.”
Her Scrapbook included a clipping from the Spiritual Scientist dated May 27, 1875:
A BUDGET OF GOOD NEWS
The organization of Col. Olcott’s "Miracle Club" is progressing satisfactorily. Applications are daily received from those wishing to join, but few selections have been positively made; as it is desired that the Club should be composed of men of such standing, and scientific, and other attainments, as shall afford to the public a perfect guarantee of the trustworthiness of any conclusions they may reach.
The medium who is to sit with the investigators, being actively interested in certain business operations, has been temporarily called from New York. Meanwhile in anticipation of the commencement of his report of the séances of the Miracle Club, Col. Olcott authorises the announcement that he will contribute to the Scientist some of the results of his winter’s reading, in the form of a series of articles entitled “What the Ancients knew, and what the Moderns think they know" ...
Support of the Mahatmas
The Masters of the Wisdom, or Mahatmas, encouraged this activity. At this stage it was Tuitit Bey, one of the adepts who belonged to the Brotherhood of Luxor, who was involved with Blavatsky and Olcott:
It was apparently this Adept who gave the order to Helena P. Blavatsky to form the “Miracle Club” which included Elbridge Gerry Brown, then editor of the Spiritual Scientist, a spiritualist publication. The initial efforts to establish the Theosophical Movement was apparently under the supervision of the Egyptian Adepts.
In April, 1875, Col. Henry Steel Olcott personally made a circular called “Important to Spiritualists,” to be published in the Spiritual Scientist in Boston. When he consulted H. P. Blavatsky on whether he should send it out anonymously or under his name, HPB said that it should be signed “For the Committee of Seven, Brotherhood of Luxor.” When she later read the circular, she pointed out that the first letters of the six paragraphs that he wrote spelled TUITIT, which surprised and deeply impressed Olcott. He stated that “I wrote every word of this circular myself, alone corrected the printer’s proofs . . . nobody dictated a word that I should say, nor interpolated any words or sentences, nor controlled my action in any visible way” (Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, pp. 74-5).
In an encouraging letter to Colonel Olcott, Master Tuitit Bey wrote: "Thou hast many good mediums around thee, don’t give up thy club. TRY." This was the first of dozens of letters that Olcott was to receive.
End of club
The club existed only for a brief time, and its name did not appear again in the Spiritual Scientist or Daily Graphic after May. This attempt at organization failed, mainly because the medium that was to be involved wanted to earn money from this endeavor, something Madame Blavatsky always opposed. Olcott wrote that "it looks as though there would have been no Theosophical Society — it looks so, I say — if her intended medium for the Miracle Club had not utterly failed us and so precluded my completing the organisation". The organizational effort served mainly to focus the attention of the Founders on the Theosophical Society that was established a few months later.
- Henry Steel Olcott letter to New York Daily Graphic (May 4, 1875), 3.
- This letter was also printed in Spiritual Scientist 2.9 (May 6, 1875), 106.
- Anonymous. Daily Graphic (May 8, 1875), 2. This item, written by a "paragraphist," was repeated as filler on pages 10 and 18.
- Henry S. Olcott letter to Editor. Daily Graphic (May 12 1875), 11.
- H. P. Blavatsky, Scrapbook Volume I.
- Anonymous, "A Budget of Good News" Spiritual Scientist 2.12 (May 27, 1875), 138.
- Vic Hao Chin, "Tuitit Bey" in Theosophy World.
- See Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom Series II, Letter Number 3.
- Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves First Series, 25-26.