THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
IT is intensely interesting to follow season
after season the rapid evolution and change of public thought
in the direction of the mystical. The educated mind is
most undeniably attempting to free itself from the heavy fetters
of materialism. The ugly caterpillar is writhing in the
agonies of death, under the powerful efforts of the psychic
butterfly to escape from its science-built prison, and
every day brings some new glad tidings of one or more such mental
births to light.
As the New York "Path" truly remarks in its September
issue, when "Theosophical and kindred topics .
. . are made the texts for novels,"
and, we may add, scientific essays and brochures,
"the implication is that interest in them has become
diffused through all social ranks." That kind of literature
is "paradoxically proof that Occultism has passed beyond
the region of careless amusement and entered that of serious enquiry."
The reader has but to throw a retrospective glance at the publications
of the last few years to find that such topics as Mysticism,
Magic, Sorcery, Spiritualism, Theosophy,
Mesmerism, or, as it is now called, Hypnotism,
all the various branches in short of the Occult side of
nature, are becoming predominant in every kind of literature.
They visibly increase in proportion to the efforts made to discredit
the movements in the cause of truth, and strangle enquiry--whether
on the field of theosophy or spiritualism--by trying to besmear
their most prominent heralds, pioneers and defenders,
with tar and feathers.
The key-note for mystic and theosophic literature was Marion Crawford's
"Mr. Isaacs." It was followed by his "Zoroaster."
Then followed "The Romance of Two Worlds," by
Marie Corelli; R. Louis Stevenson's "Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"; "The Fallen Idol,"
by Anstey; "King Solomon's Mines" and the thrice
famous "She," by Rider Haggard; "Affinities"
and "The Brother of the Shadow," by Mrs.
Campbell Praed; Edmund Downey's "House of Tears,"
and many others less noticeable. And now there comes a
fresh outburst in Florence Marryat's "Daughter of the Tropics,"
and F. C. Philips' "Strange Adventures of Lucy
Smith." It is unnecessary to mention in detail the
literature produced by avowed theosophists and occultists,
some of whose works are very remarkable, while others are
positively scientific, such as S. L. Macgregor
Mathers' "Kabbalah Unveiled," and Dr.
F. Hartmann's "Paracelsus," "Magic,
White and Black," etc. We have also to note
the fact that theosophy has now crossed the Channel, and
is making its way into French literature. "La France"
publishes a strange romance by Ch. Chincholle, pregnant
with theosophy, occultism and mesmerism, and called
"La Grande Pretresse," while La Revue
politique et litteraire (19 Feb. 1887,
et seq.) contained over the signature of Th.
Bentzon, a novel called Emancipée, wherein
esoteric doctrines and adepts are mentioned in conjunction with
the names of well known theosophists. A sign of the times!
Literature--especially in countries free from government censorship--is
the public heart and pulse. Besides the glaring fact that
were there no demand there would be no supply, current
literature is produced only to please, and is therefore
evidently the mirror which faithfully reflects the state of the
public mind. True, Conservative editors,
and their submissive correspondents and reporters, still
go on slashing occasionally in print the fair faces of mystic
spiritualism and theosophy, and some of them are still
found, from time to time, indulging in a brutal
personal attack. But they do no harm on the whole,
except perhaps to their own editorial reputations, as such
editors can never be suspected of an exuberance of culture and
good taste after certain ungentlemanly personal attacks.
They do good on the contrary. For, while the theosophists
and spiritualists so attacked, may view the Billingsgate
poured upon them in a true Socratean spirit, and console
themselves with the knowledge that none of the epithets used can
possibly apply to them, on the other hand, too
much abuse and vilification generally ends by awakening the
public sympathy for the victim, in the right-minded and
the impartial, at any rate.
In England people seem to like fair play on the whole.
It is not bashi-boozook-like actions, the
doughty deeds of those who delight in mutilating the slain and
the wounded, that can find sympathy for any great length
of time with the public. If--as maintained by our lay enemies
and repeated by some naïf and too sanguine missionary
organs--Spiritualism and Theosophy are "dead as a doornail"
(sic, vide American Christian periodicals)--aye,
"dead and buried," why, in such case,
good Christian fathers, not leave the dead at rest till
"Judgment Day"? And if they are not, then editors--the
profane as well as the clerical--why should you still fear? Do
not show yourselves such cowards if you have the truth on your
side. Magna est veritas et prevalebit, and
"murder will out," as it always has, sooner
or later. Open your columns to free and fearless
discussion, and do as the theosophical periodicals have
ever done, and as LUCIFER is now preparing
to do. The "bright Son of the morning" fears
no light. He courts it, and is prepared to publish
any inimical contributions (couched, of course,
in decent language), however much at variance with his
theosophical views. He is determined to give a fair hearing
in any and every case, to both contending parties and allow
things and thoughts to be judged on their respective merits.
For why, or what should one dread when fact and truth are
one's only aim? Du choc des opinions jaillit la verité
was said by a French philosopher. If Theosophy and
Spiritualism are no better than "gigantic frauds and will-o'-the-wisps
of the age" why such expensive crusades against both?
And if they are not, why should Agnostics and searchers
after truth in general, help bigoted and narrow-minded
materialists, sectarians and dogmatists to hide our light
under a bushel by mere brutal force and usurped authority? It
is easy to surprise the good faith of the fair-minded.
Still easier to discredit that, which by its intrinsic
strangeness, is already unpopular and could hardly be credited
in its palmiest days. "We welcome no supposition so
eagerly as one which accords with and intensifies our own prejudices"
says, in "Don Jesualdo," a popular author.
Therefore, facts become often cunningly concocted
"frauds"; and self-evident, glaring lies
are accepted as gospel truths at the first breeze of Don Basilio's
Calumnia, by those to whose hard-crusted pre-conceptions
such slander is like heavenly dew.
But, beloved enemies, "the light of Lucifer"
may, after all, dispel some of the surrounding darkness.
The mighty roaring voice of denunciation, so welcome to
those whose little spites and hates and mental stagnation in the
grasp of the social respectability it panders to, may yet
be silenced by the voice of truth--"the still small voice"--whose
destiny it ever was to first preach in the desert. That
cold and artificial light which still seems to shine so dazzlingly
over the alleged iniquities of professional mediums and the supposed
sins of commission and omission of non-professional experimentalists,
of free and independent theosophists, may yet be extinguished
at the height of all its glory. For it is not quite the
perpetual lamp of the alchemist philosopher. Still less
is it that "light which never shone on sea or land,"
that ray of divine intuition, the spark which glimmers
latent in the spiritual, never-erring perceptions of man
and woman, and which is now awakening--for its time is
at hand. A few years more, and the Aladdin's lamp,
which called forth the ministering genius thereof, who,
making three salutes to the public, proceeded forthwith
to devour mediums and theosophists, like a juggler who
swallows swords at a village fair, will get out of order.
Its light, over which the anti-theosophists are crowing
victory to this day, shall get dim. And then,
perhaps, it will be discovered that what was claimed as
a direct ray from the source of eternal truth was no better than
a penny rush-light, in whose deceitful smoke and soot people
got hypnotized, and saw everything upside down.
It will be found that the hideous monsters of fraud and imposture
had no existence outside the murky and dizzied brains of the Aladdins
on their journey of discovery. And that, finally,
the good people who listened to them, had been all the
time seeing sights and hearing things under unconscious and mutual
This is a scientific explanation, and requires no black
magicians or dugpas at work; for "suggestion"
as now practised by the sorcerers of science is--dugpaship
itself, pur sang. No Eastern "adept
of the left hand" can do more mischief by his infernal
art than a grave hypnotiser of the Faculty of Medicine,
a disciple of Charcot, or of any other scientific light
of the first magnitude. In Paris, as in St.
Petersburg, crimes have been committed under "suggestion."
Divorces have occurred, and husbands have nearly killed
their wives and their supposed correspondents, owing to
tricks played on innocent and respectable women, who have
thus had their fair name and all their future life blasted for
ever. A son, under such influence, broke
open the desk of an avaricious father, who caught him in
the act, and nearly shot him in a fit of rage. One
of the keys of Occultism is in the hands of science--cold,
heartless, materialistic, and crassly ignorant of
the other truly psychic side of the phenomenon: hence,
powerless to draw a line of demarcation between the physiological
and the purely spiritual effects of the disease inoculated,
and unable to prevent future results and consequences of which
it has no knowledge, and over which it has, therefore,
We find in the "Lotus" of September, 1887,
A French paper, the Paris, for August 12th,
contains a long and excellent article by G. Montorgueil,
entitled, The Accursed Sciences, from which
we extract the following passage, since we are,
unfortunately, unable to quote the whole:
"Some months ago, already, in I forget what
case, the question of 'suggestion' was raised and taken
account of by the judges. We shall certainly see people
in the dock accused of occult malpractices. But how will
the prosecution go to work? What arguments will it bring to bear?
The crime by 'suggestion' is the ideal of a crime without proof.
In such a case the gravest charges will never be more than presumptions,
and fugitive presumptions. On what fragile scaffolding
of suspicions will the charge rest? No examination, but
a moral one, will be possible. We shall have to
resign ourselves to hearing the Solicitor-general say to the accused:
'Accused, it appears from a perquisition made into your
Ah, the poor jurymen! it is they who are to be pitied.
Taking their task to heart, they already have the greatest
difficulty in separating the true from the false, even
in rough and ready cases, the facts of which are obvious,
all the details of which are tangible and the responsibilities
clear. And we are going to ask them on their soul and conscience
to decide questions of black magic! Verily their reason will not
hold out through the fortnight; it will give way before
that and sink into thaumaturgy.
We move fast. The strange trials for sorcery will blossom
anew; somnambules who were merely grotesque will appear
in a tragic light; the coffee grounds, which so
far only risked the police court, will hear their sentence
at the assizes. The evil eye will figure among criminal
offences. These last years of the XIXth century will have
seen us step from progress to progress, till we reach at
last this judicial enormity: a second Laubardemont prosecuting
another Urbain Grandier."
Serious, scientific, and political papers are full
of earnest discussions on the subject. A St. Petersburg
"Daily" has a long feuilleton on the "Bearing
of Hypnotic Suggestions upon Criminal Law."
"Cases of Hypnotism with criminal motives have of late begun
to increase in an ever progressing ratio," it tells
its readers. And it is not the only newspaper, nor
is Russia the only country where the same tale is told.
Careful investigations and researches have been made by distinguished
lawyers and medical authorities. Data have been assiduously
collected and have revealed that the curious phenomenon--which
sceptics have hitherto derided, and young people have included
among their evening petits jeux innocents--is a
new and terrible danger to state and society.
Two facts have now become patent to law and science:
(I.) That, in the perceptions of the hypnotised subject,
the visionary representations called forth by "suggestion,"
become real existing actualities, the subject being,
for the moment, the automatic executor of the will of the
(II.) That the great majority of persons experimented upon,
is subject to hypnotic suggestion.
Thus Liébeault found only sixty subjects intractable
out of the seven hundred he experimented upon; and
Bernheim, out of 1,014 subjects, failed with
only twenty-six. The field for the natural-born
jadoo-wala (sorcery-mongers), is vast indeed! Evil
has acquired a play-ground on which it may now exercise its sway
upon many a generation of unconscious victims. For crimes
undreamt of in the waking state, and felonies of the blackest
dye, are now invited and encouraged by the new "accursed
science." The real perpetrators of these deeds of
darkness may now remain for ever hidden from the vengeance of
human justice. The hand which executes the criminal suggestion
is only that of an irresponsible automaton, whose memory
preserves no trace of it, and who, moreover,
is a witness who can easily be disposed of by compulsory suicide--again
under "suggestion." What better means than these
could be offered to the fiends of lust and revenge, to
those dark Powers--called human passions--ever on the look out
to break the universal commandment: "Thou shalt not
steal, nor murder, nor lust after thy neighbour's
wife?" Liébeault suggested to a young girl
that she should poison herself with prussic acid, and she
swallowed the supposed drug without one moment's hesitation;
Dr. Liégois suggested to a young woman that
she owed him 5,000 francs, and the subject forthwith
signed a cheque for the amount. Bernheim suggested to
another hysterical girl a long and complicated vision with
regard to a criminal case. Two days after, although
the hypnotiser had not exercised any new pressure upon her in
the interim, she repeated distinctly the whole suggested
story to a lawyer sent to her for the purpose. Had her
evidence been seriously accepted, it would have brought
the accused to the guillotine.
These cases present two dark and terrible aspects. From
the moral stand point, such processes and suggestions
leave an indelible stain upon the purity of the subject's
nature. Even the innocent mind of a ten year old child
can thus be inoculated with vice, the poison-germ of which
will develop in his subsequent life.
On the judicial aspect it is needless to enter in great detail.
Suffice to say that it is this characteristic feature of the hypnotic
state--the absolute surrender of will and self-consciousness to
the hypnotiser--which possesses such importance, from its
bearing upon crime, in the eyes of legal authorities.
For if the hypnotiser has the subject entirely at his beck and
call, so that he can cause him to commit any crime,
acting, so to say, invisibly within him,
then what are not the terrible "judicial mistakes" to
be expected? What wonder then, that the jurisprudence of
one country after the other has taken alarm, and is devising,
one after the other, measures for repressing the exercise
of hypnotism! In Denmark it has just been forbidden. Scientists
have experimented upon sensitives with so much success that a
hypnotised victim has been jeered and hooted through the streets
on his way to commit a crime, which he would have completed
unconsciously, had not the victim been warned beforehand
by the hypnotiser.
In Brussels a recent and sad case is well-known to all.
A young girl of good family was seduced while in a hypnotised
state by a man who had first subjected her to his influence at
a social gathering. She only realised her condition a few
months later, when her relatives, who divined the
criminal, forced her seducer to make the only possible
reparation--that of marrying his victim.
The French Academy has just been debating the question:
how far a hypnotised subject, from a mere victim,
can become a regular tool of crime. Of course, no
jurist or legislator can remain indifferent to this question;
and it was averred that the crimes committed under suggestion
are so unprecedented that some of them can hardly be brought
within the scope of the law. Hence the prudent legal prohibition,
just adopted in France, which enacts that no person,
save those legally qualified to exercise the medical profession,
shall hypnotise any other person. Even the physician who
enjoys such legal right is permitted to hypnotise a person only
in the presence of another qualified medical man, and with
the written permission of the subject. Public séances
of hypnotism are forbidden, and they are strictly confined
to medical cliniques and laboratories. Those who
break this law are liable to a heavy fine and imprisonment.
But the keynote has been struck, and many are the ways
in which this black art may be used--laws notwithstanding.
That it will be so used, the vile passions inherent in
human nature are sufficient guarantee.
Many and strange will be the romances yet enacted; for
truth is often stranger than fiction, and what is thought
fiction is still more often truth.
No wonder then that occult literature is growing with every day.
Occultism and sorcery are in the air, with no true philosophical
knowledge to guide the experimenters and thus check evil results.
"Works of fiction," the various novels
and romances are called. "Fiction" in the arrangement
of their characters and the adventures of their heroes and heroines--admitted.
Not so, as to the facts presented. These
are no fictions, but true presentiments of
what lies in the bosom of the future, and much of which
is already born--nay corroborated by scientific experiments.
Sign of the times! Close of a psychic cycle! The time for phenomena
with, or through mediums, whether professional or
otherwise, is gone by. It was the early season of
the blossoming, of the era mentioned even in the Bible;1
the tree of Occultism is now preparing for "fruiting,"
and the Spirit of the Occult is awakening in the blood of the
new generations. If the old men only "dream dreams,"
the young ones see already visions,2 and--record
them in novels and works of fiction. Woe to the ignorant
and the unprepared, and those who listen to the syrens
of materialistic science! For indeed, indeed, many
will be the unconscious crimes committed, and many will
be the victims who will innocently suffer death by hanging and
decapitation at the hands of the righteous judges and the too
innocent jurymen, both alike ignorant of the fiendish
power of "SUGGESTION."
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, October, 1887
1 "It shall come to pass that I will pour out
my Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters
shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams your young
men shall see visions" (Joel ii. 28).
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2 It is curious to note that Mr. Louis Stevenson,
one of the most powerful of our imaginative writers, stated
recently to a reporter that he is in the habit of constructing
the plots of his tales in dreams, and among others
that of Dr. Jekyll. "I dreamed,"
he continued, "the story of 'Olalla' . .
. and I have at the present moment two unwritten stories
which I have likewise dreamed. . . . Even when fast asleep
I know that it is I who am inventing." . .
. But who knows whether the idea of "invention"
is not also "a dream"!
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