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 its presence."
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 (Asclepias)?
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 "Œdipus," 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 purposes.
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 Phœnicians. 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 Œdipus, 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 Orac.")
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 it?
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 wood.
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
Theosophist, November, 1886
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 thus:
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.) -O.
1 Ugolino--"Thesaur"--Vol. xxiii, p. 475.
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 p. 295.
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
Cœpisse, et rerum naturam, expandere dictis.
back to text
A Correspondent from New York writes:
. . . . The Editors of LUCIFER would confer a great benefit on those who are attracted to the movement which they advocate, if they would state:
(I) Whether a would-be-theosophist-occultist is required to abandon his worldly ties and duties such as family affection, love of parents, wife, children, friends, etc.?
I ask this question because it is rumoured here that some theosophical publications have so stated, and would wish to know whether such a sine quâ non condition really exists in your Rules? The same, however, is found in the New Testament. "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, etc., etc," is said in Matthew (x. 37). Do the MASTERS of Theosophy demand as much?
Yours in the Search of Light,
L. M. C.
This is an old, old question, and a still older charge against theosophy, started first by its enemies. We emphatically answer, NO; adding that no theosophical publication could have rendered itself guilty of such a FALSEHOOD and calumny. No follower of theosophy, least of all a disciple of the "Masters of Theosophy" (the chela of a guru), would ever be accepted on such conditions. Many were the candidates, but "few the chosen." Dozens were refused, simply because married and having a sacred duty to perform to wife and children.1 None have ever been asked to forsake father or mother; for he who, being necessary to his parent for his support, leaves him or her to gratify his own selfish consideration or thirst for knowledge, however great and sincere, is "unworthy" of the Science of Sciences, "or ever to approach a holy MASTER."
Our correspondent must surely have confused in his mind Theosophy with Roman Catholicism, and Occultism with the dead-letter teachings of the Bible. For it is only in the Latin Church that it has become a meritorious action, which is called serving God and Christ, to "abandon father and mother, wife and children," and every duty of an honest man and citizen, in order to become a monk. And it is in St. Luke's Gospel that one reads the terrible words, put in the mouth of Jesus: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, his own life also, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE. (xiv. 26.)
Saint (?) Jerome teaches, in one of his writings, "If thy father lies down across thy threshold, if thy mother uncovers to thine eyes the bosom which suckled thee, trample on thy father's lifeless body, TRAMPLE ON THY MOTHER'S BOSOM, and with eyes unmoistened and dry, fly to the Lord, who calleth thee!"
Surely then, it is not from any theosophical publication that our correspondent could have learnt such an infamous charge against theosophy and its MASTERS--but rather in some anti-Christian, or too dogmatically "Christian" paper.
Our society has never been "more Catholic than the Pope." It has done its best to follow out the path prescribed by the Masters; and if it has failed in more than one respect to fulfil its arduous task, the blame is certainly not to be thrown on either Theosophy, nor its Masters, but on the limitations of human nature. The Rules, however, of chelaship, or discipleship, are there, in many a Sanskrit and Tibetan volume. In Book IV of Kiu-ti, in the chapter on "the Laws of Upasans" (disciples), the qualifications expected in a "regular chela" are: (1) Perfect physical health.2 (2) Absolute mental and physical purity. (3) Unselfishness of purpose; universal charity; pity for all animate beings. (4) Truthfulness and unswerving faith in the laws of Karma. (5) A courage undaunted in the support of truth, even in face of peril to life. (6) An intuitive perception of one's being the vehicle of the manifested divine Atman (spirit). (7) Calm indifference for, but a just appreciation of, everything that constitutes the objective and transitory world. (8) Blessing of both parents3 and their permission to become an Upasan (chela); and (9) Celibacy, and freedom from any obligatory duty."
The two last rules are most strictly enforced. No man convicted of disrespect to his father or mother, or unjust abandonment of his wife, can ever be accepted even as a lay chela.
This is sufficient, it is hoped. We have heard of chelas who, having failed, perhaps in consequence of the neglect of some such duty, for one or another reason, have invariably thrown the blame and responsibility for it on the teaching of the Masters. This is but natural in poor and weak human beings who have not even the courage to recognise their own mistakes, or the rare nobility of publicly confessing them, but are always trying to find a scapegoat. Such we pity, and leave to the Law of Retribution, or Karma. It is not these weak creatures, who can ever be expected to have the best of the enemy described by the wise Kirátárjuniya of Bharavi:
The enemies which rise within the body,
Hard to be overcome--the evil passions-
Should manfully be fought, who conquers these
Is equal to the conqueror of worlds. (xi. 32.)
We have received several communications for publication, bearing on the subjects discussed in the editorial of our last issue, "Let every man prove his own work." A few brief remarks may be made, not in reply to any of the letters--which, being anonymous, and containing no card from the writers, cannot be published (nor are such noticed, as a general rule)--but to the ideas and accusations contained in one of them, a letter signed "M." Its author takes up the cudgels on behalf of the Church. He objects to the statement that the institution lacks the enlightenment necessary to carry out a true system of philanthropy. He appears, also, to demur to the view that "the practical people either go on doing good unintentionally and often do harm," and points to the workers amid our slums as a vindication of Christianity--which, by-the-bye, was in no sense attacked in the editorial so criticized.
To this, repeating what was said, we maintain that more mischief has been done by emotional charity than sentimentalists care to face. Any student of political economy is familiar with this fact, which passes for a truism with all those who have devoted attention to the problem. No nobler sentiment than that which animates the unselfish philanthropist is conceivable; but the question at issue is not summed up in the recognition of this truth. The practical results of his labours have to be examined. We have to see whether he does not sow the seeds of a greater--while relieving a lesser--evil.
The fact that "thousands are making great efforts in all the cities throughout our land" to meet want, reflects immense credit on the character of such workers. It does not affect their creed, for such natures would remain the same, whatever the prevailing dogmas chanced to be. It is certainly a very poor illustration of the fruits of centuries of dogmatic Christianity that England should be so honeycombed with misery and poverty as she is--especially on the biblical ground that a tree must be judged by its fruits! It might, also, be argued, that the past history of the Churches, stained as it is with persecutions, the suppression of knowledge, crime and brutality, necessitates the turning over of a new leaf. The difficulties in the way are insuperable. "Churchianity" has, indeed, done its best to keep up with the age by assimilating the teachings of, and making veiled truces with, science, but it is incapable of affording a true spiritual ideal to the world.
The same Church-Christianity assails with fruitless pertinacity, the ever-growing host of Agnostics and Materialists, but is as absolutely ignorant, as the latter, of the mysteries beyond the tomb. The great necessity for the Church, according to Professor Flint, is to keep the leaders of European thought within its fold. By such men it is, however, regarded as an anachronism. The Church is eaten up with scepticism within its own walls; free-thinking clergymen being now very common. This constant drain of vitality has reduced the true religion to a very low ebb, and it is to infuse a new current of ideas and aspirations into modern thought, in short, to supply a logical basis for an elevated morality, a science and philosophy which is suited to the knowledge of the day, that Theosophy comes before the world. Mere physical philanthropy, apart from the infusion of new influences and ennobling conceptions of life into the minds of the masses, is worthless. The gradual assimilation by mankind of great spiritual truths will alone revolutionize the face of civilization, and ultimately result in a far more effective panacea for evil, than the mere tinkering of superficial misery. Prevention is better than cure. Society creates its own outcasts, criminals, and profligates, and then condemns and punishes its own Frankensteins, sentencing its own progeny, the "bone of its bone, and the flesh of its flesh," to a life of damnation on earth. Yet that society recognises and enforces most hypocritically Christianity--i.e., "Churchianity." Shall we then, or shall we not, infer that the latter is unequal to the requirements of mankind? Evidently the former, and most painfully and obviously so, in its present dogmatic form, which makes of the beautiful ethics preached on the Mount, a Dead Sea fruit, a whitened sepulchre, and no better.
Furthermore, the same "M.," alluding to Jesus as one with regard to whom there could be only two alternatives, writes that he "was either the Son of God or the vilest impostor who ever trod this earth." We answer, not at all. Whether the Jesus of the New Testament ever lived or not, whether he existed as an historical personage, or was simply a lay figure around which the Bible allegories clustered--the Jesus of Nazareth of Matthew and John, is the ideal for every would-be sage and Western candidate Theosophist to follow. That such an one as he, was a "Son of God," is as undeniable as that he was neither the only "Son of God," nor the first one, nor even the last who closed the series of the "Sons of God," or the children of Divine Wisdom, on this earth. Nor is that other statement that in "His life he (Jesus) has ever spoken of himself as co-existent with Jehovah, the Supreme, the Centre of the Universe," correct, whether in its dead letter, or hidden mystic sense. In no place does Jesus ever allude to "Jehovah"; but, on the contrary, attacking the Mosaic laws and the alleged Commandments given on Mount Sinai, he disconnects himself and his "Father" most distinctly and emphatically from the Sinaitic tribal God. The whole of Chapter V, in the Gospel of Matthew, is a passionate protest of the "man of peace, love and charity," against the cruel, stern, and selfish commandments of "the man of war," the "Lord" of Moses (Exod. xv., 3). "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times,"--so and so-- "But I say unto you," quite the reverse. Christians who still hold to the Old Testament and the Jehovah of the Israelites, are at best schismatic Jews. Let them be that, by all means, if they will so have it; but they have no right to call themselves even Chréstians, let alone Christians.4
It is a gross injustice and untruth to assert, as our anonymous correspondent does, that "the freethinkers are notoriously unholy in their lives." Some of the noblest characters, as well as deepest thinkers of the day, adorn the ranks of Agnosticism, Positivism and Materialism. The latter are the worst enemies of Theosophy and Mysticism; but this is no reason why strict justice should not be done unto them. Colonel Ingersoll, a rank materialist, and the leader of free-thought in America, is recognised, even by his enemies, as an ideal husband, father, friend and citizen, one of the noblest characters that grace the United States. Count Tolstoi is a freethinker who has long parted with the orthodox Church, yet his whole life is an exemplar of Christ-like altruism and self-sacrifice. Would to goodness every "Christian" should take those two "infidels" as his models in private and public life. The munificence of many freethinking philanthropists stands out in startling contrast with the apathy of the monied dignitaries of the Church. The above fling at the "enemies of the Church," is as absurd as it is contemptible.
"What can you offer to the dying woman who fears to tread alone the DARK UNKNOWN?" we are asked. Our Christian critic here frankly confesses (a) that Christian dogmas have only developed fear of death, and (b) the agnosticism of the orthodox believer in Christian theology as to the future post-mortem state. It is, indeed, difficult to appreciate the peculiar type of bliss which orthodoxy offers its believers in--damnation.
The dying man--the average Christian--with a dark retrospect in life can scarcely appreciate this boon; while the Calvinist or the Predestinarian, who is brought up in the idea that God may have pre-assigned him from eternity to everlasting misery, through no fault of that man, but simply because he is God, is more than justified in regarding the latter as ten times worse than any devil or fiend that unclean human fancy could evolve.
Theosophy, on the contrary, teaches that perfect, absolute justice reigns in nature, though short-sighted man fails to see it in its details on the material and even psychic plane, and that every man determines his own future. The true Hell is life on Earth, as an effect of Karmic punishment following the preceding life during which the evil causes were produced. The Theosophist fears no hell, but confidently expects rest and bliss during the interim between two incarnations, as a reward for all the unmerited suffering he has endured in an existence into which he was ushered by
Karma, and during which he is, in most cases, as helpless as a torn-off leaf whirled about by the conflicting winds of social and private 1ife. Enough has been given out at various times regarding the conditions of post-mortem existence, to furnish a solid block of information on this point. Christian theology has nothing to say on this burning question, except where it veils its ignorance by mystery and dogma; but Occultism, unveiling the symbology of the Bible, explains it thoroughly.--[ED.]
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, December, 1887
1 We know but two cases of married "chelas" being accepted; but both these were Brahmins and had child-wives, according to Hindu custom, and they were Reformers more than chelas, trying to abrogate child-marriage and slavery. Others had to obtain the consent of their wives before entering the "Path," as is usual in India since long ages.
back to text
2 This rule 1 applies only to the "temple chelas," who must be perfect.
back to text
3 Or one, if the other is dead.
back to text
4 See "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels," in this number.
back to text
IN the "History of the Christian Religion to the year two hundred," by Charles B. Waite, A.M., announced and reviewed in the Banner of Light (Boston), we find portions of the work relating to the great thaumaturgist of the second century A.D.--Apollonius of Tyana, the rival of whom had never appeared in the Roman Empire.
"The time of which this volume takes special cognizance is divided into six periods, during the second of which, A.D. 80 to A.D. 120, is included the 'Age of Miracles,' the history of which will prove of interest to Spiritualists as a means of comparing the manifestations of unseen intelligences in our time with similar events of the days immediately following the introduction of Christianity. Apollonius Tyaneus was the most remarkable character of that period, and witnessed the reign of a dozen Roman emperors. Before his birth, Proteus, an Egyptian god, appeared to his mother and announced that he was to be incarnated in the coming child. Following the directions given her in a dream, she went to a meadow to gather flowers. While there, a flock of swans formed a chorus around her, and, clapping their wings, sung in unison. While they were thus engaged, and the air was being fanned by a gentle zephyr, Apollonius was born."
This is a legend which in days of old made of every remarkable character a "son of God" miraculously born of a virgin. And what follows is history. "In his youth he was a marvel of mental power and personal beauty, and found his greatest happiness in conversations with the disciples of Plato, Chrysippus and Aristotle. He ate nothing that had life, lived on fruits and the products of the earth; was an enthusiastic admirer and follower of Pythagoras, and as such maintained silence for five years. Wherever he went he reformed religious worship and performed wonderful acts. At feasts he astonished the guests by causing bread, fruits, vegetables and various dainties to appear at his bidding. Statues became animated with life, and bronze figures ' from their pedestals, took the position and performed the labors of servants. By the exercise of the same power dematerializaton occurred; gold and silver vessels, with their contents, disappeared; even the attendants vanished in an instant from sight.
"At Rome, Apollonius was accused of treason. Brought to examination, the accuser came forward, unfolded his roll on which the accusation had been written, and was astounded to find it a perfect blank.
"Meeting a funeral procession he said to the attendants, 'Set down the bier, and I will dry up the tears you are shedding for the maid.' He touched the young woman, uttered a few words, and the dead came to life. Being at Smyrna, a plague raged at Ephesus, and he was called thither. 'The journey must not be delayed,' he said, and had no sooner spoken the words than he was at Ephesus.
"When nearly one hundred years old, he was brought before the Emperor at Rome, accused of being an enchanter. He was taken to prison. While there he was asked when he would be at liberty? 'To-morrow, if it depends on the judge; this instant, if it depends on myself.' Saying this, he drew his leg out of the fetters, and said, 'You see the liberty I enjoy.' He then replaced it in the fetters.
"At the tribunal he was asked: 'Why do men call you a god?'
" 'Because,' said he, 'every man that is good is entitled to the appellation .'
" 'How could you foretell the plague at Ephesus?'
"He replied: 'By living on a lighter diet than other men.'
"His answers to these and other questions by his accusers exhibited such strength that the Emperor was much affected, and declared him acquitted of crime; but said he should detain him in order to hold a private conversation. He replied: 'You can detain my body, but not my soul; and, I will add, not even my body. Having uttered these words he vanished from the tribunal, and that same day met his friends at Puteoli, three days' journey from Rome.
"The writings of Apollonius show him to have been a man of learning, with a consummate knowledge of human nature, imbued with noble sentiments and the principles of a profound philosophy. In an epistle to Valerius he says:
"'There is no death of anything except in appearance; and so, also, there is no birth of anything except in appearance. That which passes over from essence into nature seems to be birth, and that which passes over from nature into essence seems, in like manner, to be death; though nothing really is originated, and nothing ever perishes; but only now comes into sight, and now vanishes. It appears by reason of the density of matter, and disappears by reason of the tenuity of essence; but is always the same, differing only in motion and condition.'
"The highest tribute paid to Apollonius was by the Emperor Titus. The philosopher having written to him, soon after his accession, counselling moderation in his government, Titus replied:
" 'In my own name and in the name of my country I give you thanks, and will be mindful of those things. I have, indeed, taken Jerusalem, but you have captured me.'
"The wonderful things done by Apollonius, thought to be miraculous, the source and producing cause of which Modern Spiritualism clearly reveals, were extensively believed in, in the second century, and hundreds of years subsequent; and by Christians as well as others. Simon Magus was another prominent miracle-worker of the second century, and no one denied his power. Even Christians were forced to admit that he performed miracles. Allusion is made to him in the Acts of the Apostles, viii: 9-10. His fame was world-wide, his followers in every nation, and in Rome a statue was erected in his honor. He had frequent contests with Peter, what we in this day would call miracle-matches in order to determine which had the greater power. It is stated in 'The Acts of Peter and Paul' that Simon made a brazen serpent to move, stone statues to laugh, and himself to rise in the air; to which is added: 'as a set-off to this, Peter healed the sick by a word, caused the blind to see, &c.' Simon, being brought before Nero, changed his form: suddenly he became a child, then an old man; at other times a young man. 'And Nero, beholding this, supposed him to be the Son of God.'
"In 'Recognitions,' a Petrine work of the early ages, an account is given of a public discussion between Peter and Simon Magus, which is reproduced in this volume.
"Accounts of many other miracle-workers are given, showing most conclusively that the power by which they wrought was not confined to any one or to any number of persons, as the Christian world teaches, but that mediumistic gifts were then, as now, possessed by many. Statements quoted from the writers of the first two centuries of what took place will severely tax the credulity of the most credulous to believe, even in this era of marvels. Many of those accounts may be greatly exaggerated, but it is not reasonable to suppose that they are all sheer fabrications, with not a moiety of truth for their foundation; far less so with the revealments made to men since the advent of Modern Spiritualism. Some idea of the thoroughness with which every subject is dealt with in this volume may be formed when we state that in the index there are two hundred and thirteen references to passages relating to 'Jesus Christ'; from which, also, it may be justly inferred that what is given must be of great value to those seeking information that will enable them to determine whether Jesus was 'Man, Myth, or God.' 'The Origin and History of Christian Doctrines,' also 'The Origin and Establishment of the Authority of the Church of Rome over other Churches,' are fully shown, and much light thrown upon many obscure and disputed questions. In a word, it is impossible for us, without far exceeding the limits prescribed for this article, to render full justice to this very instructive book; but we think enough has been said to convince our readers that it is one of more than ordinary interest, and a desirable acquisition to the literature of this progressive age."1
Some writers tried to make Apollonius appear a legendary character, while pious Christians will persist in calling him an impostor. Were the existence of Jesus of Nazareth as well attested by history and he himself half as known to classical writers as was Apollonius no sceptic could doubt to-day the very being of such a man as the Son of Mary and Joseph. Apollonius of Tyana was the friend and correspondent of a Roman Empress and several Emperors, while of Jesus no more remained on the pages of history than as if his life had been written on the desert sands. His letter to Agbarus, the prince of Edessa, the authenticity of which is vouchsafed for by Eusebius alone--the Baron Munchausen of the patristic hierarchy--is called in the Evidences of Christianity "an attempt at forgery" even by Paley himself, whose robust faith accepts the most incredible stories. Apollonius, then, is a historical personage; while many even of the Apostolic Fathers themselves, placed before the scrutinizing eye of historical criticism, begin to flicker and many of them fade out and disappear like the "will-o'-the-wisp" or the ignis fatuus.
H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophist, June, 1881
1 Second Edition, I vol., 8vo., pp. 455. Chicago: C. V. Waite & Co. Thomas J. Whitehead & Co., agents for New England, 5 Court Square, Room 9, Boston.
back to text
A JOURNAL interested like the THEOSOPHIST in the explorations of archæology and archaic religions, as well as the study of the occult in nature, has to be doubly prudent and discreet. To bring the two conflicting elements--exact science and metaphysics--into direct contact, might create as great a disturbance as to throw a piece of potassium into a basin of water. The very fact that we are predestined and pledged to prove that some of the wisest of Western scholars have been misled by the dead letter of appearances and that they are unable to discover the hidden spirit in the relics of old, places us under the ban from the start. With those sciolists who are neither broad enough, nor sufficiently modest to allow their decisions to be reviewed, we are necessarily in antagonism. Therefore, it is essential that our position in relation to certain scientific hypotheses, perhaps tentative and only sanctioned for want of better ones--should be clearly defined at the outset.
An infinitude of study has been bestowed by the archaeologists and the orientalists upon the question of chronology--especially in regard to Comparative Theology. So far, their affirmations as to the relative antiquity of the great religions of the pre-Christian era are little more than plausible hypotheses. How far back the national and religious Vedic period, so called, extends--"it is impossible to tell," confesses Prof. Max Müller; nevertheless, he traces it "to a period anterior to 1,000 B.C.," and brings us "to 1,100 or 1,200 B.C., as the earliest time when we may suppose the collection of the Vedic hymns to have been finished." Nor do any other of our leading scholars claim to have finally settled the vexed question, especially delicate as it is in its bearing upon the chronology of the book of Genesis. Christianity, the direct outflow of Judaism and in most cases the State religion of their respective countries, has unfortunately stood in their way. Hence, scarcely two scholars agree; and each assigns a different date to the Vedas and the Mosaic books, taking care in every case to give the latter the benefit of the doubt. Even that leader of the leaders in philological and chronological questions--Professor Müller, hardly twenty years ago, allowed himself a prudent margin by stating that it will be difficult to settle "whether the Veda is 'the oldest of books,' and whether some of the portions of the Old Testament may not be traced back to the same or even an earlier date than the oldest hymns of the Veda." The THEOSOPHIST is, therefore, quite warranted in either adopting or rejecting as it pleases the so-called authoritative chronology of science. Do we err then, in confessing that we rather incline to accept the chronology of that renowned Vedic scholar, Swami Dayánund Saraswati, who unquestionably knows what he is talking about, has the four Vedas by heart, is perfectly familiar with all Sanskrit literature, has no such scruples as the Western Orientalists in regard to public feelings, nor desire to humour the superstitious notions of the majority, nor has any object to gain in suppressing facts? We are only too conscious of the risk in withholding our adulation from scientific authorities. Yet, with the common temerity of the heterodox we must take our course, even though, like the Tarpeïa of old, we be smothered under a heap of shields--a shower of learned quotations from these "authorities."
We are far from feeling ready to adopt the absurd chronology of a Berosus or even Syncellus--though in truth they appear "absurd" only in the light of our preconceptions. But, between the extreme claims of the Brahmins and the ridiculously short periods conceded by our Orientalists for the development and full growth of that gigantic literature of the ante-Mahábháratan period, there ought to be a just mean. While Swami Dayánund Saraswati asserts that "The Vedas have now ceased to be objects of study for nearly 5,000 years," and places the first appearance of the four Vedas at an immense antiquity; Professor Müller, assigning for the composition of even the earliest among the Brâhmanas, the years from about 1,000 to 800 B.C., hardly dares, as we have seen, to place the collection and the original composition of the Sanhitâ, of Rig-Vedic hymns, earlier than 1,200 to 1,500 before our era!l Whom ought we to believe; and which of the two is the better informed? Cannot this gap of several thousand years be closed, or would it be equally difficult for either of the two cited authorities to give data which would be regarded by science as thoroughly convincing? It is as easy to reach a false conclusion by the modern inductive method as to assume false premises from which to make deductions. Doubtless Professor Max Müller has good reasons for arriving at his chronological conclusions. But so has Dayánund Saraswati Pandit. The gradual modifications, development and growth of the Sanskrit language are sure guides enough for an expert philologist. But, that there is a possibility of his having been led into error would seem to suggest itself upon considering a certain argument brought forward by Swami Dayánund. Our respected friend and teacher maintains that both Professor Müller and Dr. Wilson have been solely guided in their researches and conclusion by the inaccurate and untrustworthy commentaries of Sayana, Mahidar, and Uvata, commentaries which differ diametrically from those of a far earlier period as used by himself in connection with his great work the Veda Bhashya. A cry was raised at the outset of this publication that Swami's commentary is calculated to refute Sayana and the English interpreters. "For this," very justly remarks Pandit Dayánund, "I cannot be blamed; if Sayana has erred, and English interpreters have chosen to take him for their guide, the delusion cannot be long maintained. Truth alone can stand, and Falsehood before growing civilization must fall."2 And if, as he claims, his Veda Bhashya is entirely founded on the old commentaries of the ante-Mahábháratan period to which the Western scholars have had no access, then, since his were the surest guides of the two classes, we cannot hesitate to follow him, rather than the best of our European Orientalists.
But, apart from such primâ facie evidence, we would respectfully request Professor Max Müller to solve us a riddle. Propounded by himself, it has puzzled us for over twenty years, and pertains as much to simple logic as to the chronology in question. Clear and undeviating, like the Rhône through the Geneva lake, the idea runs through the course of his lectures, from the first volume of "Chips" down to his last discourse. We will try to explain.
All who have followed his lectures as attentively as ourselves will remember that Professor Max Müller attributes the wealth of myths, symbols, and religious allegories in the Vedic hymns, as in Grecian mythology, to the early worship of nature by man. "In the hymns of the Vedas," to quote his words, "we see man left to himself to solve the riddle of this world. He is awakened from darkness and slumber by the light of the sun" . . . and he calls it--"his life, his truth, his brilliant Lord and Protector." He gives names to all the powers of nature, and after he has called the fire "Agni," the sun-light "Indra," the storms "Maruts," and the dawn "Usha," they all seem to grow naturally into beings like himself, nay greater than himself.3 This definition of the mental state of primitive man, in the days of the very infancy of humanity, and when hardly out of its cradle--is perfect. The period to which he attributes these effusions of an infantile mind, is the Vedic period, and the time which separates us from it is, as claimed above, 3,000 years. So much impressed seems the great philologist with this idea of the mental feebleness of mankind at the time when these hymns were composed by the four venerable Rishis, that in his introduction to the Science of Religion (p. 78) we find the Professor saying: "Do you still wonder at polytheism or at mythology? Why, they are inevitable. They are, if you like, a parler enfantin of religion. But the world has its childhood, and when it was a child it spake as a child, (nota bene, 3,000 years ago), it understood as a child, it thought as a child . . . The fault rests with us if we insist on taking the language of children for the language of men. . . . The language of antiquity is the language of childhood . . . the parler enfantin in religion is not extinct . . . as, for instance, the religion of India."
Having read thus far, we pause and think. At the very close of this able explanation, we meet with a tremendous difficulty, the idea of which must have never occurred to the able advocate of the ancient faiths. To one familiar with the writings and ideas of this Oriental scholar, it would seem the height of absurdity to suspect him of accepting the Biblical chronology of 6,000 years since the appearance of the first man upon earth as the basis of his calculations. And yet the recognition of such chronology is inevitable if we have to accept Professor Müller's reasons at all; for here we run against a purely arithmetical and mathematical obstacle, a gigantic miscalculation of proportion . . .
No one can deny that the growth and development of mankind-- mental as well as physical--must be analogically measured by the growth and development of man. An anthropologist, if he cares to go beyond the simple consideration of the relations of man to other members of the animal kingdom, has to be in a certain way a physiologist as well as an anatomist; for, as much as ethnology it is a progressive science which can be well treated but by those who are able to follow up retrospectively the regular unfolding of human faculties and powers, assigning to each a certain period of life. Thus, no one would regard a skull in which the wisdom-tooth, so called, would be apparent, the skull of an infant. Now, according to geology, recent researches "give good reasons to believe that under low and base grades the existence of man can be traced back into the tertiary times." In the old glacial drift of Scotland--says Professor W. Draper--"the relics of man are found along with those of the fossil elephant"; and the best calculations so far assign a period of two-hundred-and-forty thousand years since the beginning of the last glacial period. Making a proportion between 240,000 years--the least age we can accord to the human race--and 24 years of a man's life, we find that three thousand years ago, or the period of the composition of Vedic hymns, mankind would be just twenty-one--the legal age of majority, and certainly a period at which man ceases using, if he ever will, the parler enfantin or childish lisping. But, according to the views of the Lecturer, it follows that man was, three thousand years ago, at twenty-one, a foolish and undeveloped--though a very promising--infant, and at twenty-four, has become the brilliant, acute, learned, highly analytical and philosophical man of the nineteenth century. Or, still keeping our equation in view, in other words, the Professor might as well say, that an individual who was a nursing baby at 12 M. on a certain day, would at 12:20 P.M., on the same day, have become an adult speaking high wisdom instead of his parler enfantin!
It really seems the duty of the eminent Sanskritist and Lecturer on Comparative Theology to get out of this dilemma. Either the Rig-Veda hymns were composed but 3,000 years ago, and, therefore, cannot be expressed in the "language of childhood"--man having lived in the glacial period--but the generation which composed them must have been composed of adults, presumably as philosophical and scientific in the knowledge of their day, as we are in our own; or, we have to ascribe to them an immense antiquity in order to carry them back to the days of human mental infancy. And, in this latter case, Professor Max Müller will have to withdraw a previous remark, expressing the doubt "whether some of the portions of the Old Testament may not be traced back to the same or even an earlier date than the oldest hymns of the Vedas."
H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophist, October, 1879
1 Lecture on the Vedas.
back to text
2 Answer to the Objections to the Veda-Bháshya.
back to text
3 Chips from a German Workshop, vol. 1, p. 68.
back to text
ACCORDING to the newest edition of the Imperial Dictionary, by John Ogilvie, L.L.D., "A medium is a person through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and transmitted by animal magnetism, or a person through whom spiritual manifestations are claimed to be made; especially one who is said to be capable of holding intercourse with the spirits of the deceased."
As Occultists do not believe in any communication with the "spirits of the deceased" in the ordinary acceptation of the term, for the simple reason that they know that the spirits of "the deceased" cannot and do not come down and communicate with us; and as the above expression "by animal magnetism" would probably have been modified, if the editor of the Imperial Dictionary bad been an Occultist, we therefore are only concerned with the first part of the definition of the word "Medium," which says: "A Medium is a person, through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and transmitted"; and we should like to be permitted to add: "By the either consciously or unconsciously active will of that other being."
It would be extremely difficult to find on earth a human being, who could not be more or less influenced by the "Animal Magnetism" or by the active Will (which sends out that "Magnetism") of another. If the beloved General rides along the front, the soldiers become all "Mediums." They become filled with enthusiasm, they follow him without fear, and storm the death-dealing battery. One common impulse pervades them all; each one becomes the "Medium" of another, the coward becomes filled with heroism, and only he, who is no medium at all and therefore insensible to epidemic or endemic moral influences, will make an exception, assert his independence and run away.
The "revival preacher" will get up in his pulpit, and although what he says is the most incongruous nonsense, still his actions and the lamenting tone of his voice are sufficiently impressive to produce "a change of heart" amongst, at least, the female part of his congregation, and if he is a powerful man, even sceptics "that come to scoff, remain to pray." People go to the theatre and shed tears or "split their sides" with laughter according to the character of the performance, whether it be a pantomime, a tragedy or a farce. There is no man, except a genuine block-head, whose emotions and consequently whose actions cannot be influenced in some way or other, and thereby the action of another be manifested or transmitted through him. All men and all women and children are therefore Mediums, and a person who is not a Medium is a monster, an abortion of nature; because he stands without the pale of humanity.
The above definition can therefore hardly be considered sufficient to express the meaning of the word "Medium" in the popular acceptation of the term, unless we add a few words, and say. "A medium is a person through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and transmitted to an abnormal extent by the consciously or unconsciously active will of that other being." This reduces the number of "Mediums" in the world to an extent proportionate to the space around which we draw the line between the normal and abnormal, and it will be just as difficult to determine who is a medium and who is not a medium, as it is to say where sanity ends and where insanity begins. Every man has his little ,, weaknesses," and every man has his little "mediumship"; that is to say, some vulnerable point by which he may be taken unawares. The one may therefore not be considered really insane; neither can the other be called a "medium." Opinions often differ, whether a man is insane or not, and so they may differ as to his mediumship. Now in practical life a man may be very eccentric, but he is not considered insane, until his insanity reaches such a degree that he does not know any more what he is doing, and is therefore unable to take care of himself or his business.
We may extend the same line of reasoning to Mediums, and say that only such persons shall be considered mediums, who allow other beings to influence them in the above described manner to such an extent that they lose their self-control and have no more power or will of their own to regulate their own actions. Now such a relinquishing of self-control may be either active or passive, conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary, and differs according to the nature of the beings, who exercise the said active influence over the medium.
A person may consciously and voluntarily submit his will to another being and become his slave. This other being may be a human being, and the medium will then be his obedient servant and may be used by him for good or for bad purposes. This other "being" may be an idea, such as love, greediness, hate, jealousy, avarice, or some other passion, and the effect on the medium will be proportionate to the strength of the idea and the amount of self-control left in the medium. This "other being" may be an elementary or an elemental, and the poor medium become a epileptic, a maniac or a criminal. This "other being" may be the man's own higher principle, either alone or put into rapport with another ray of the collective universal spiritual principle, and the "medium" will then be a great genius, a writer, a poet, an artist, a musician, an inventor, and so on. This "other being" may be one of those exalted beings, called Mahatmas, and the conscious and voluntary medium will then be called their "Chela."
Again, a person may never in his life have heard the word "Medium" and still be a strong Medium, although entirely unconscious of the fact. His actions may be more or less influenced unconsciously by his visible or invisible surroundings. He may become a prey to Elementaries or Elementals, even without knowing the meaning of these words, and he may consequently become a thief, a murderer, a ravisher, a drunkard or a cut-throat, and it has often enough been proved that crimes frequently become epidemic; or again he may by certain invisible influences be made to accomplish acts which are not at all consistent with his character such as previously known. He may be a great liar and for once by some unseen influence be induced to speak the truth; he may be ordinarily very much afraid and yet on some great occasion and on the spur of the moment commit an act of heroism; he may be a street-robber and vagabond and suddenly do an act of generosity, etc.
Furthermore, a medium may know the sources from which the influence comes, or in more explicit terms, "the nature of the being, whose action is transmitted through him," or he may not know it. He may be under the influence of his own seventh principle and imagine to be in communication with a personal Jesus Christ, or a saint; he may be in rapport with the "intellectual" ray of Shakespeare and write Shakespearean poetry, and at the same time imagine that the personal spirit of Shakespeare is writing through him, and the simple fact of his believing this or that, would make his poetry neither better nor worse. He may be influenced by some Adept to write a great scientific work and be entirely ignorant of the source of his inspiration, or perhaps imagine that it was the "spirit" of Faraday or Lord Bacon that is writing through him, while all the while he would be acting as a "Chela," although ignorant of the fact.
From all this it follows that the exercise of mediumship consists in the more or less complete giving up of self-control, and whether this exercise is good or bad, depends entirely on the use that is made of it and the purpose for which it is done. This again depends on the degree of knowledge which the mediumistic person possesses, in regard to the nature of the being to whose care he either voluntarily or involuntarily relinquishes for a time the guardianship of his physical or intellectual powers. A person who entrusts indiscriminately those faculties to the influence of every unknown power, is undoubtedly a "crank," and cannot be considered less insane than the one who would entrust his money and valuables to the first stranger or vagabond that would ask him for the same. We meet occasionally such people, although they are comparatively rare, and they are usually known by their idiotic stare and by the fanaticism with which they cling to their ignorance. Such people ought to be pitied instead of blamed, and if it were possible, they should be enlightened in regard to the danger which they incur; but whether a Chela, who consciously and willingly lends for a time his mental faculties to a superior being, whom he knows, and in whose purity of motives, honesty of purpose, intelligence, wisdom and power he has full confidence, can be considered a "Medium" in the vulgar acceptation of the term, is a question which had better be left to the reader--after a due consideration of the above--to decide for himself.
H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophist, June, 1884