TO whatsoever cause it may be due matters
little, but the word fetich is given in the dictionaries
the restricted sense of "an object selected temporarily for worship,"
"a small idol used by the African savages," etc., etc.
In his "Des Cultes Anterieurs à l'Idolatrie," Dulaure
defines Fetichism as "the adoration of an object considered by the
ignorant and the weak-minded as the receptacle or the habitation of a
god or genius."
Now all this is extremely erudite and profound, no doubt; but it lacks
the merit of being either true or correct. Fetich may be an idol among
the negroes of Africa, according to Webster; and there are weak-minded
and ignorant people certainly who are fetich worshippers. Yet the theory
that certain objects--statues, images, and amulets for example--serve
as a temporary or even constant habitation to a "god," "genius"
or spirit simply, has been shared by some of the most intellectual
men known to history. It was not originated by the ignorant and
weak-minded, since the majority of the world's sages and philosophers,
from credulous Pythagoras down to sceptical Lucian, believed in
such a thing in antiquity; as in our highly civilized, cultured and learned
century several hundred millions of Christians still believe in it, whether
the above definitions be correct or the one we shall now give. The administration
of the Sacrament, the mystery of Transubstantiation "in the supposed
conversion of the bread and wine of the Eucharist into the body and
blood of Christ," would render the bread and wine and the communion
cup along with them fetiches--no less than the tree or rag or stone
of the savage African. Every miracle-working image, tomb and statue of
a Saint, Virgin or Christ, in the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches, have
thus to be regarded as fetiches; because, whether the miracle is
supposed to be wrought by God or an angel, by Christ or a saint, those
images or statues do become--if the miracle be claimed as genuine--"the
receptacle or dwelling" for a longer or shorter time of God or an
"angel of God."
It is only in the "Dictionnaire des Religions" (Article on
Fetichsme) that a pretty correct definition may be found: "The
word fetich was derived from the Portuguese word fetisso, "enchanted,"
"bewitched" or "charmed"; whence fatum, "destiny,"
fatua, "fairy," etc.
Fetich, moreover, was and still ought to be identical with "idol";
and as the author of "The Teraphim of Idolatry" says, "Fetichism
is the adoration of any object, whether inorganic or living, large
or of minute proportions, in which, or, in connection with which,--any
'spirit'--good or bad in short--an invisible intelligent power--has manifested
Having collected for my "Secret Doctrine" a number of notes
upon this subject, I may now give some of them apropos of the latest
theosophical novel "A Fallen Idol," and thus show that
work of fiction based on some very occult truths of Esoteric Philosophy.
The images of all the gods of antiquity, from the earliest Aryans down
to the latest Semites--the Jews,--were all idols and fetiches, whether
called Teraphim, Urim and Thummim, Kabeiri, or cherubs,
or the gods Lares. If, speaking of the teraphim--a word
that Grotius translates as "angels," an etymology authorized
by Cornelius, who says that they "were the symbols of angelic
presence"--the Christians are allowed to call them "the
mediums through which divine presence was manifested," why
not apply the same to the idols of the "heathen"?
I am perfectly alive to the fact that the modern man of science, like
the average sceptic, believes no more in an "animated" image
of the Roman Church than he does in the "animated" fetich of
a savage. But there is no question, at present, of belief or disbelief.
It is simply the evidence of antiquity embracing a period of several thousands
of years, as against the denial of the XIXth century--the
century of Spiritualism and Spiritism, of Theosophy and Occultism, of
Charcot and his hypnotism, of psychic "suggestion," and of unrecognized
BLACK MAGIC all round.
Let us Europeans honour the religion of our forefathers, by questioning
it on its beliefs and their origin, before placing on its defence pagan
antiquity and its grand philosophy; where do we find in Western sacred
literature, so-called, the first mention of idols and fetiches? In chapter
xxxi (et seq) of Genesis, in Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia,
wherein the ancestors of Abraham, Serug and Terah, worshipped little idols
in clay which they called their gods; and where also, in Haran,
Rachel stole the images (teraphim) of her father Laban. Jacob may
have forbidden worship of those gods, yet one finds 325 years after that
prohibition, the Mosaic Jews adoring "the gods of the Amorites"
the same (Joshua xxiv. 14, 15). The teraphim-gods of Laban exist to this
day among certain tribes of Mussulmans on Persian territory. They are
small statuettes of tutelary genii, or gods, which consulted on every
occasion. The Rabbis explain that Rachel no other motive for stealing
her father's gods than that of preventing his learning from them
the direction she and her husband Jacob had taken, lest he should prevent
them from leaving home once more. Thus, it was not piety, or the fear
of the Lord God of Israel, but simply a dread of the indiscretion of the
gods that made her secure them. Moreover, her mandrakes were only another
kind of sortilegious and magical implements.
Now what is the opinion of various classical and even sacred writers
on these idols, which Hermes Trismegistus calls "statues foreseeing
Philo of Biblos shows that the Jews consulted demons like the
Amorites, especially through small statues made of gold, shaped as nymphs
which, questioned at any hour, would instruct them what the querists had
to do and what to avoid. ("Antiquities.") "More Nevochim"
(I, iii) it is said that nothing resembled ore those
portative and preserving gods of the pagans (dii portiles vel
Averrunci) than those tutelary gods of the Jews. They were "veritable
phylacteries or animated talismans, the spirantia simulacra
of Apuleius (Book xi), whose answers, given in the temple
of the goddess of Syria, were heard by Lucian personally,
and repeated by him. Kircher (the Jesuit Father) shows also that the teraphim
looked, in quite an extraordinary way, like the pagan Serapises
of Egypt; and Cedrenus seems to corroborate that statement of Kircher
(in his Vol. iii, p. 494 "dipus," etc.) by show that the
t and the s (like the Sanskrit s and the Zend h)
were convertible letters, the Seraphim (or Serapis) and
the teraphim, being absolute synonyms.
As to the use of these idols, Maimonides tells us ("More Nevochim,"
p. 41) that these gods or images passed for being endowed with the prophetic
gift, and as being able to tell the people in whose possession they were
"all that was useful and salutary them."
All these images, we are told, had the form of a baby or small child,
others were only occasionally much larger. They were statues or regular
idols in the human shape. The Chaldeans exposed them to the beams of certain
planets for the latter to imbue them with their virtues and potency. These
were for purposes of astromagic; the regular teraphim for those
of necromancy and sorcery, in most cases. The spirits of the dead (elementaries)
were attached to them by magic art, and they were used for various sinful
Ugolino1 puts in the mouth of the sage
Gamaliel, St. Paul's master (or guru), the following words, which
he quotes, he says, from his "Capito," chap. xxxvi: "They
(the possessors of such necromantic teraphim) killed a new-born
baby, cut off its head, and placed under its tongue, salted and oiled,
a little gold lamina in which the name of an evil spirit was perforated;
then, after suspending that head on the wall of their chamber, they lighted
lamps before it, and prostrate on the ground they conversed with it."
The learned Marquis de Mirville believes that it was just such ex-human
fetiches that were meant by Philostratus, who gives a number of
instances of the same. "There was the head of Orpheus"--he says--"which
spoke to Cyrus, and the head of a priest-sacrificer from the temple of
Jupiter Hoplosmius which, when severed from its body, revealed, as Aristotle
narrates, the name of its murderer, one called Cencidas; and the head
of one Publius Capitanus, which, according to Trallianus, at the moment
of the victory won by Acilius the Roman Consul, over Antiochus, King of
Asia, predicted to the Romans the great misfortunes that would soon befall
them, &c." ("Pn. des Esprits," Vol. iii, 29 Memoir
to the Academy, p. 252.)
Diodorus tells the world how such idols were fabricated for magical
purposes in days of old. "Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, having,
in consequence of a fright given premature birth to a child of seven months,
Cadmus, in order to follow the custom of his country and to give
it (the babe) a supermundane origin which would make it live
after death, enclosed its body within a gold statue, and made of it
an idol for which a special cult and rites were established." (Diodorus,
lib. i. p. 48.)
As Freret, in his article in the "Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions,"
Vol. xxiii, p. 247--pointedly remarks, when commenting upon the above
passage: "A singular thing, deserving still more attention, is that
the said consecration of Semele's baby, which the Orphics show
as having been the custom of Cadmus' ancestors--is precisely the ceremony
described by the Rabbis, as cited by Seldenus, with regard to the
teraphim or household gods of the Syrians and the Phnicians.
There is little probability, however, that the Jews should have been acquainted
with the Orphics."
Thus, there is every reason to believe that the numerous drawings in
Father Kircher's dipus, little figures and heads with metallic
laminæ protruding from under their tongues, which hang entirely
out of the heads' mouths, are real and genuine teraphims--as shown by
de Mirville. Then again in Le Blanc's "Religions," (Vol. iii,
p. 277), speaking of the Phoenician teraphim, the author compares
them to the Greco-Phrygian palladium, which contained human relics.
"All the mysteries of the apotheosis, of orgies, sacrifices and magic,
were applied to such heads. A child young enough to have his innocent
soul still united with the Anima Mundi--the Mundane Soul--was killed,"
he says; "his head was embalmed and its soul was fixed
in it, as it is averred, by the power of magic and enchantments."
After which followed the usual process, the gold lamina, etc., etc.
Now this is terrible BLACK MAGIC, we say; and none
but the dugpas of old, the villainous sorcerers of antiquity, used
it. In the Middle Ages only several Roman Catholic priests are known to
have resorted to it; among others the apostate Jacobin priest in the service
of Queen Catherine of Medici, that faithful daughter of the Church of
Rome and the author of the "St. Bartholomew Massacre." The story
is given by Bodin, in his famous work on Sorcery "Le Demonomanie,
ou Traité des Sorciers" (Paris, 1587); and it is quoted in
"Isis Unveiled" (Vol. ii, p. 56). Pope Sylvester II was publicly
accused by Cardinal Benno of sorcery, on account of his "Brazen Oracular
Head." These heads and other talking statues, trophies of
the magical skill of monks and bishops? were fac-similes of the animated
gods of the ancient temples. Benedict IX, John XX, and the VIth and
VIIth Popes Gregory are all known in history as sorcerers and magicians.
Notwithstanding such an array of facts to show that the Latin Church has
despoiled the ancient Jews of all--aye, even to their knowledge of black
art inclusively--one of their advocates of modern times, namely, the
Marquis de Mirville, is not ashamed to publish against the modern Jews,
the most terrible and foul of accusations!
In his violent polemics with the French symbologists, who try to find
a philosophical explanation for ancient Bible customs and rites, he says:
"We pass over the symbolic significations that are sought for to
explain all such customs of the idolatrous Jews, (their human teraphim
and severed baby-heads), because we do not believe in them (such explanations)
at all. But we do believe, for one, that 'the head' consulted by the-Scandinavian
Odin in every difficult affair was a teraphim of the same (magic)
class. And that in which we believe still more, is, that
all those mysterious disappearances and abductions of small (Christian)
children, practised at all times and even in our own day by the Jews--are
the direct consequences of those ancient and barbarous necromantic practices
. . . Let the reader remember the incident of Damas and Father Thomas."
("Pneum des Esprits," Vol. iii, p. 254.)
Quite clear and unmistakeable this. The unfortunate, despoiled Israelites
are plainly charged with abducting Christian children to behead and make
oracular heads with them, for purposes of sorcery! Where will bigotry
and intolerance with their odium theologicum land next, I wonder?
On the contrary, it seems quite evident that it is just in consequence
of such terrible malpractices of Occultism that Moses and the early ancestors
of the Jews were so strict in carrying out the severe prohibition against
graven images, statues and likenesses in any shape, of either "gods"
or living men. This same reason was at the bottom of the like prohibition
by Mohammed and enforced by all the Mussulman prophets. For the likeness
of any person, in whatever form and mode, of whatever material, may
be turned into a deadly weapon against the original by a really learned
practitioner of the black art. Legal authorities during the Middle
Ages, and even some of 200 years ago, were not wrong in putting to death
those in whose possession small wax figures of their enemies were found,
for it was murder contemplated, pure and simple. "Thou shalt
not draw the vital spirits of thy enemy, or of any person into
his simulacrum," for "this is a heinous crime against
nature." And again: "Any object into which the fiat of
a spirit has been drawn is dangerous, and must not be left in the hands
of the ignorant. . . . An expert (in magic) has to be called purify it."
("Pract. Laws of Occult Science," Book v, Coptic copy.)
In a kind of "Manual" of Elementary
Occultism, it is said: "To make a bewitched object (fetich) harmless,
its parts have to be reduced to atoms (broken), and the whole buried in
damp soil"--(follow instructions, unnecessary in a publication).2
That which is called "vital spirits" is the astral body. "Souls,
whether united or separated from their bodies, have a corporeal substance
inherent to their nature," says St. Hilarion. ("Comm. in
Matth." C. v. No. 8.) Now the astral body of a living person, of
one unlearned in occult sciences, may be forced (by an expert in magic)
to animate, or be drawn to, and then fixed within any object, especially
into anything made in his likeness, a portrait, a statue, a little figure
in wax, &c. And as whatever hits or affects the astral reacts by repercussion
on the physical body, it becomes logical and stands to reason that, by
stabbing the likeness in its vital parts--the heart, for instance--the
original may be sympathetically killed, without any one being able to
detect the cause of it. The Egyptians, who separated man (exoterically)
into three divisions or groups--"mind body" (pure spirit,
our 7th and 6th prin.); the spectral soul (the 5th, 4th, and 3rd principles);
and the gross body (prana and sthula sarira), called forth in their
theurgies and evocations (for divine white magical purposes,
as well as for those of the black art) the "spectral soul,"
or astral body, as we call it.
"It was not the soul itself that was evoked, but its simulacrum
that the Greeks called Eidôlon, and which was the middle
principles between soul and body. That doctrine came from the East, the
cradle of all learning. The Magi of Chaldea as well as all other followers
of Zoroaster, believed that it was not the divine soul alone
(spirit) which would participate in the glory of celestial light, but
also the sensitive soul." ("Psellus, in Scholiis, in
Translated into our Theosophical phraseology, the above refers to Atma
and Buddhi--the vehicle of spirit. The Neo-Platonics, and even Origen,--"call
the astral body Augoeides and Astroeides, i.e., one having
the brilliancy of the stars." ("Sciences Occultes," by
Cte. de Resie, Vol. ii, p. 598-9.)
Generally speaking, the world's ignorance on the nature of the human
phantom and vital principle, as on the functions of all man's principles,
is deplorable. Whereas science denies them all--an easy way of cutting
the gordian knot of the difficulty--the churches have evolved the fanciful
dogma of one solitary principle, the Soul, and neither of the two will
stir from its respective preconceptions, notwithstanding the evidence
of all antiquity and its most intellectual writers. Therefore, before
the question can be argued with any hope of lucidity, the following points
have to be settled and studied by our Theosophists--those, at any rate,
who are interested in the subject:
1. The difference between a physiological hallucination and a psychic
or spiritual clairvoyance and clairaudience.
2. Spirits, or the entities of certain invisible beings--whether ghosts
of once living men, angels, spirits, or elementals,--have they, or
have they not, a natural though an ethereal and to us invisible body?
Are they united to, or can they assimilate some fluidic substance that
would help them to become visible to men?
3. Have. they, or have they not, the power of so becoming infused among
the atoms of any object, whether it be a statue (idol), a picture, or
an amulet, as to impart to it their potency and virtue, and even to animate
4. Is it in the power of any Adept, Yogi or Initiate, to fix such
entities, whether by White or Black magic, in certain objects?
5. What are the various conditions (save Nirvana and Avitchi) of good
and bad men after death? etc., etc.
All this may be studied in the literature of the ancient classics, and
especially in Aryan literature. Meanwhile, I have tried to explain and
have given the collective and individual opinions thereon of all the great
philosophers of antiquity in my "Secret Doctrine." I hope the
book will now very soon appear. Only, in order to counteract the effects
of such humoristical works as "A Fallen Idol" on weak-minded
people, who see in it only a satire upon our beliefs, I thought best to
give here the testimony of the ages to the effect that such post-mortem
pranks as played by Mr. Anstey's sham ascetic, who died a sudden death,
are of no rare occurrence in nature.
To conclude, the reader may be reminded that if the astral body of man
is no superstition founded on mere hallucinations, but a reality
in nature, then it becomes only logical that such
an eidôlon, whose individuality is all centered after death
in his personal EGO--should be attracted to
the remains of the body that was his, during life;3
and in case the latter was burnt and the ashes buried, that it should
seek to prolong its existence vicariously by either possessing itself
of some living body (a medium's), or, by attaching itself to his own statue,
picture, or some familiar object in the house or locality that it inhabited.
The "vampire" theory, can hardly be a superstition altogether.
Throughout all Europe, in Germany, Styria, Moldavia, Servia, France and
Russia, those bodies of the deceased who are believed to have become vampires,
have special exorcismal rites established for them by their
respective Churches. Both the Greek and Latin religions think it beneficent
to have such bodies dug out and transfixed to the earth by a pole of aspen-tree
However it may be, whether truth or superstition, ancient philosophers
and poets, classics and lay writers, have believed as we do now, and that
for several thousand years in history, that man had within him his astral
counterpart, which would appear by separating itself or oozing out of
the gross body, during life as well as after the death of the latter.
Till that moment the "spectral soul" was the vehicle of the
divine soul and the pure spirit. But, as soon as the flames had devoured
the physical envelope, the spiritual soul, separating itself from
the simulacrum of man, ascended to its new home of unalloyed bliss
(Devachan or Swarga), while the spectral eidôlon
descended into the regions of Hades (limbus, purgatory,
or Kama loka). "I have terminated my earthly career,"
exclaims Dido, "my glorious spectre (astral body), the IMAGE
of my person, will now descend into the womb of the earth.4
"Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago" ("Eneid,"
lib. iv, 654).
Sabinus and Servius Honoratus (a learned commentator of Virgil of the
VIth cent.) have taught, as shown by Delris, the demonlogian
(lib. ii, ch. xx and xxv, p. 116), that man was composed, besides his
soul, of a shadow (umbra) and a body. The soul ascends
to heaven, the body is pulverized, and the shadow
is plunged in Hades. . . . This phantom--umbra seu simulacrum--is
not a real body, they say: it is the appearance of one,
that no hand can touch, as it avoids contact like a breath. Homer shows
this same shadow in the phantom of Patroclus, who perished, killed by
Hector, and yet "Here he is--it is his face, his voice, his
blood still flowing from his wounds!" (See "Iliad," xxiii,
and also "Odyssey," i, xi.) The ancient Greeks and Latins had
two souls--anima bruta and anima divina, the first of which
is in Homer the animal soul, the image and the life of the body, and the
second, the immortal and the divine.
As to our Kama loka, Ennius, says Lucrecius--"has traced
the picture of the sacred regions in Acherusia, where dwell neither
our bodies nor our souls, but only our simulacres, whose pallidity
is dreadful to behold!" It is amongst those shades that divine
Homer appeared to him, shedding bitter tears as though the gods had
created that honest man for eternal sorrow
only. It is from the midst of that world (Kama loka), which
seeks with avidity communication with our own, that this third
(part) of the poet, his phantom--explained to him the mysteries
of nature. . . .5
Pythagoras and Plato both divided soul into two representative parts,
independent of each other--the one, the rational soul, or ,
the other, irrational, --the
latter being again subdivided into two parts or aspects, the ,
and the , which, with the divine
soul and its spirit and the body, make the seven principles of
Theosophy. What Virgil calls imago, "image," Lucretius
names--simulacrum, "similitude" (See "De Nat. rerum"
I), but they are all names for one and the same thing,
the astral body.
We gather thus two points from the ancients entirely corroborative of
our esoteric philosophy: (a) the astral or materialized figure
of the dead is neither the soul, nor the spirit, nor the
body of the deceased personage, but simply the shadow thereof,
which justifies our calling it a "shell"; and (b) unless
it be an immortal God (an angel) who animates an object, it can
never be a spirit, to wit, the SOUL, or real, spiritual ego of
a once living man; for these ascend, and an astral shadow (unless it be
of a living person) can never be higher than a terrestrial, earth-bound
ego, or an irrational shell. Homer was therefore right in making
Telemachus exclaim, on seeing Ulysses, who reveals himself to his son:
"No, thou art not my father, thou art a demon, a spirit who flatters
and deludes me!"
It is such illusive shadows, belonging to neither Earth nor Heaven,
that are used by sorcerers and other adepts of the Black Art, to help
them in persecutions of victims; to hallucinate the minds of very honest
and well meaning persons occasionally, who fall victims to the mental
epidemics aroused by them for a purpose; and to oppose in every way the
beneficent work of the guardians of mankind, whether divine or--human.
For the present, enough has been said to show that the Theosophists
have the evidence of the whole of antiquity in support of the correctness
of their doctrines.
H. P. BLAVATSKY
Note.--As a corroboration of the theory that a great volume
of psychic force may be concentrated in an object of worship, we may add
the following biblical narrative of the overthrow of the image of the idol
Dagon, in its own temple, by the superior power of the Hebraic ark. It runs
When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into
the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose
early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth
before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place
again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon
was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and
the head of Dagon, and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the
threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. (I Sam. v. 3 and 4.)
Theosophist, November, 1886
1 Ugolino--"Thesaur"--Vol. xxiii,
back to text
2The author of "A Fallen Idol,"--whether
through natural intuition or study of occult laws it is for him to say--shows
knowledge of this fact by making Nebelsen say that the spirit of
the tirthankar was paralyzed and torpid during the time his idol had been
buried in India. That Eidôlon or Elementary could do nothing. See
back to text
3 Even burning does not affect its interference
or prevent it entirely--since it can avail itself of the ashes. Earth
alone will make it powerless.
back to text
4 Which is not the interior of
the earth, or hell, as taught by the anti-geological-theologians,
but the cosmic matrix of its region--the astral light of our atmosphere.
back to text
5 . . . . Esse Acherusia templa
Quo neque permanent animæ, neque corpora nostra,
Sed quædam simulacra, modis pallentia miris,
Unde sibi exortam semper florentis Homeri
Commemorat speciem lacrymas et fundere salsas
Cpisse, et rerum naturam, expandere dictis.
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