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H.P. Blavatsky involvement in Italian Politics with Garibaldi and Mazzini, and the Carbonari’s Role in the Republican Revolutions


It is not enough to study history, but to make history, and the movers of history is a function we take interest in. The subject of the relation between Secret Societies, Politics and Theosophy is a fascinating side of history, and the thing is, while we are interested in history, many of us may not be academic scholars. It means, we do not regard the underlying ideas of our branches and movements to be merely ideas and abstractions, especially since these revolutionaries of our interest considered concrete action resultant from their ideas was the point of their sacrifices, philosophy, and mission. This is why, what I have stated, and will state, will be surely discounted and argued against by a few who unwelcome the truth; but try as you might, it cannot. H.P. Blavatsky’s interest in Italian politics has been very scanty in the historical record of her life, but with us, we find it a positive, than a negative. H.P.B. herself had claimed, and proven to H.S. Olcott, as detailed in his Diary Leaves, that she had joined Garibaldi and the Red Shirts (the Garibaldians) at the bloody battle of Mentana, stabbed with a stiletto, her right shoulder with a musket-bullet wound, and her left-arm broken by a sabre-stroke.

She was intimate with a few Carbonaros (of the Italian Carbonari liberals), Mazzinists, and Garibaldians, including his sons, whom she stated alone knew the whole truth of the story of her participation in these events prior to the formation of the Theosophical Society.

The woman was therefore intimately involved in early nationalist movements, and for this reason, intrigues me, in regards to my late research on the Italian philosopher of Actualism, Giovanni Gentile who synthesized and expressed the spirit of that Italian thought, with respects to the Italian political prophet Giuseppe Mazzini.

The Southern Italian Carbonari was a secret society and political organization founded to advocate liberal ideas in the early nineteenth-century Europe.

Carbonari society initiation. 1879 illustration showing members of the Italian secret society known as the Carbonari performing an initiation ceremony in a cave. The Carbonari was an informal network of Italian secret societies active in Italy from around 1800 to 1831. They were a focus for those unhappy with the repressive political situation in Italy following 1815, especially in the south of the Italian Peninsula. Members of the Carbonari took part in important events in the process of Italian unification (the Risorgimento), especially the failed Revolution of 1820.

The Carbonari spread into Northern Italy by 1815, when Napoleon was defeated, and they were initially united in the goal to oppose Napoleonic ruler of Naples, Joachim Murat. The Carbonari were composed of advocates of both constitutional monarchy and republicanism, and Freemasons. What united the Freemasons and Carbonari was “militant opposition to the Roman Catholic Church domination of Italy,” K. Paul Johnson explains in The Masters Revealed (Johnson 38). Marquis de Lafayette often known in the United States simply as Lafayette (as spoken of by W.Q. Judge and H.P.B. on the Freemasons and Rosicrucians roles in the Revolutions in Adepts in America in 1776: William Q. Judge’s Speculations prompt Blavatsky to Question “Illuminati” Theory), was a vital figure in the historical fight for American and French Independence served as leader of the Charbonnerie in France. Thus far, in the public’s opinion, they are made to think of this as nefarious, and suspect. The goal of opposition to the Church for the Carbonari and Freemasons was primarily for a secular Italy, and to restrict the power of the Church, promote freedom of religion and secular education. Yet, there is more to this vision, which they fought for, and certainly the Theosophists and H.P. Blavatsky.

In a footnote in A Few Questions to Hiraf about the Rosicrucians, Illuminati, and Kabbalists, H.P. Blavatsky connected the “political cataclysms” of the time with the Carbonari, who were responsible for the establishment of new constitutional governments in some states in Italy, and fighting for Greek independence, before the European powers united to overthrow these governments. She stated of them:

“For those who are able to understand intuitionally what I am about to say, my words will be but the echo of their own thoughts. I draw the attention of such only, to a long series of inexplicable events which have taken place in our present century; to the mysterious influence directing political cataclysms; the doing and undoing of crowned heads; the tumbling down of thrones; the thorough metamorphosis of nearly the whole of the European map, beginning with the French Revolution of ’93, predicted in every detail by the Count de St.-Germain, in an autograph MS., now in possession of the descendants of the Russian nobleman to whom he gave it, and coming down to the Franco-Prussian War of the latter days. This mysterious influence called “chance” by the skeptic and Providence by Christians, may have a right to some other name. Of all these degenerated children of Chaldaean Occultism, including the numerous societies of Freemasons, only one of them in the present century is worth mentioning in relation to Occultism, namely, the “Carbonari.” Let some one study all he can of that secret society, let him think, combine, deduce. If Raymond Lully, a Rosicrucian, a Cabalist, could so easily supply King Edward I of England with six millions sterling to carry on war with the Turks in that distant epoch, why could not some secret lodge in our day furnish, as well, nearly the same amount of millions to France, to pay their national debt — this same France, which was so wonderfully, quickly defeated, and as wonderfully set on her legs again. Idle talk! — people will say. Very well, but even an hypothesis may be worth the trouble to consider sometimes.” (H.P. Blavatsky, A Few Questions to Hiraf)

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