(nee de Bourbel de Monpicon; 1838-1910). A close friend of Helena P. Blavatsky, Wachtmeister was born on March 28, 1838, in Florence, Italy. Her parents were the Marquis de Bourbel, formerly of the French diplomatic service, and Constance Bulkley. She lost her parents when very young and was sent to an aunt in England where she lived until her marriage to a cousin, Count Carl Wachtmeister, then Swedish and Norwegian Minister at the Court of St. James. Wachtmeister was widowed in 1871. She had one son, Count Axel Raoul, who was a musical composer of some distinction in his day, but is little known now.
Wachtmeister joined the Theosophical Society (TS) in 1881 and met H. P. Blavatsky in London in April 1884. She was Secretary and Treasurer of the Blavatsky Lodge in London and also worked for the TS Publishing Company there, contributing generously to its funds. In 1887, Wachtmeister, the Keightleys, and Blavatsky acquired a large house in London, 17 Lansdowne Road, where Blavatsky continued to write THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
In March 1888, the President, Henry S. OLCOTT, who had just finished a strenuous Indian tour, decided to leave ADYAR, the headquarters of the TS near Madras (now Chennai), India, and recuperate at Ootacamund. He held a meeting of the TS Executive Council at which it was decided to elect Wachtmeister additional Secretary to the Western Section of the TS. In 1891, Olcott formed a League of Theosophical Workers and Wachtmeister became its first President; later that year, after the death of Blavatsky, Wachtmeister traveled to Adyar where Olcott appointed her President of the Women’s Education League which had been formed to further the education of Indian women.
Olcott had kept a diary covering the years since his first meeting with Blavatsky in America (1874) and in 1893 he approached Wachtmeister asking her to arrange the publication of it. She refused to do so unless Olcott deleted certain passages that she considered derogatory to Blavatsky. Olcott did not agree and the diary was eventually published by G. Putnam Son’s, London, in 1895 under the title Old Diary Leaves.
In February 1895, Henry S. OLCOTT was advised that William Q. JUDGE was considering secession from the Society and he left immediately for Calcutta to consult with Wachtmeister and Annie BESANT regarding his best course of action. Later in 1895, together with Besant and Bertrand KEIGHTLEY, Wachtmeister rented a property on four acres of ground at Benares (now Varanasi), which later was to become the headquarters of the Indian Section.
At the 1896 Adyar convention of the TS, Olcott, in his Presidential Address, paid glowing tribute to Wachtmeister saying, “after performing prodigies of platform, social and private work in Australasia, is now devoting herself enthusiastically to the helping of the American loyalists to reconstitute their Section.”
Annie Besant went to America in March 1897 to help rebuild the Section which had been devastated by the Judge secession. She was met in New York by Wachtmeister who traveled with her on a long tour which included lectures at 70 cities. After a considerable period in America, Wachtmeister, in 1899, carried out an extensive lecture tour of France and India which resulted in the formation of many new lodges.
Wachtmeister wrote an important account of her association with Blavatsky published under the title Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and “The Secret Doctrine.” She died September 23, 1910.
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