Vera Petrovna de Zhelihovsky

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Vera Petrovna de Zhelihovsky (April 29, 1835 - May 18, 1896) was the younger sister of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

Personal life

Vera Petrovna von Hahn was born in Odessa on April 29, 1835. In the early 1850s she married Nikkolay Nikolayevich de Yahontov (1827-58), and they had two sons before his early death at the age of 31. Later she married Vladimir Ivanovich de Zhelihovsky and had another son and three daughters. One of the daughters, also named Vera, was very active in the early Theosophical Society, and married Charles Johnston. Vera was very close to her older sister Helena.

Vera died on May 18, 1896.

Theosophical Society involvement

Vera was admitted as a member of the Theosophical Society on June 25, 1884, probably while she was visiting with her sister in Paris.[1] She conducted extensive correspondence with Madame Blavatsky, Marie Sinclair, Countess of Caithness, and other prominent Theosophists.

Witnessing a Mahatma

In May 1884, Vera was in Paris (at Rue Notre Danle des Champs, 46) with Mme. Blavatsky, the Russian author V. S. Solovyov, and N. A. de Fadeyev. After having witnessed a phenomenon she saw the astral form of a Master appearing for a few seconds:

When I returned to the drawing room I found H. P. Blavatsky sitting quietly as before at the table between Mme. de Fadeyev and Mr. Solovyov. At the same time, I saw as distinctly as can be, the figure of a man, grayish, yet quite clear form, standing near my sister, and who, upon my looking at him, receded from her, paled, and disappeared in the opposite wall. This man – or, perhaps, his astral form – was of a slight build, and of middle size, wrapped in a kind of mantle, and with a white turban on his head. The vision did not last more than a few seconds, but I had all the time to examine it, and to tell every one what I distinctly saw, though, as soon as it had disappeared, I felt terribly frightened and nervous.[2]


Some of the correspondence that Madame de Zhelihovsky received has been found in the State Archives of the Russian Federation. Letters were written to her by Annie Besant, Marie Sinclair, Countess of Caithness, Constance Wachtmeister, Vsevolod S. Solovyov, and others, in English, French, and Russian languages. Transcriptions, translations, and scans of the letters are available in the website Teopedia.

My Adolescence, Russian edition. Image from Boris de Zirkoff Collection, TSA Archives.


Vera wrote stories for children and articles for Russian periodicals. She also wrote several important works about the life of her sister:

  • When I Was Small. 2nd edition published in 1894.
  • My Adolescence. 1983.
  • "The Truth about Helena Petrovna Blavatsky". Rebus, St. Petersburg, 1883.
  • "Helena Petrovna Blavatsky". Lucifer, London. Serialized biography published from November, 1894 to April, 1895.

Online resources



  1. Theosophical Society General Membership Register, 1875-1942 at See book 1, entry 2905 (website file: 1B/2).
  2. A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas Case 44, compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell