This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy,              study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.





M.C. Great confusion exists in the minds of people about the various kinds of apparitions, wraiths, ghosts or spirits. Ought we not to explain once for all the meaning of these terms? You say there are various kinds of "doubles"--what are they?

H.P.B. Our occult philosophy teaches us that there are three kinds of "doubles," to use the word in its widest sense. (I) Man has his "double" or shadow, properly so called, around which the physical body of the fœtus--the future man--is built. The imagination of the mother, or an accident which affects the child, will affect also the astral body. The astral and the physical both exist before the mind is developed into action, and before the Atma awakes. This occurs when the child is seven years old, and with it comes the responsibility attaching to a conscious sentient being. This "double" is born with man, dies with him and can never separate itself far from the body during life, and though surviving him, it disintegrates, pari passu, with the corpse. It is this which is sometimes seen over the graves like a luminous figure of the man that was, during certain atmospheric conditions. From its physical aspect it is, during life, man's vital double, and after death, only the gases given off from the decaying body. But, as regards its origin and essence, it is something more. This "double" is what we have agreed to call lingasarira, but which I would propose to call, for greater convenience, "Protean" or "Plastic Body."

M.C. Why Protean or Plastic?

H.P.B. Protean, because it can assume all forms; e.g. the "shepherd magicians" whom popular rumor accuses, perhaps not without some reason, of being "were-wolves," and "mediums in cabinets," whose own "Plastic Bodies" play the part of materialized grandmothers and "John Kings." Otherwise, why the invariable custom of the "gear departed angels" to come out but little further than arm's length from the medium, whether entranced or not? Mind, I do not at all deny foreign influences in this kind of phenomena. But I do affirm that foreign interference is rare, and that the materialized form is always that of the medium's "Astral" or Protean body.

M.C. But how is this astral body created?

H.P.B. It is not created; it grows, as I told you, with the man and exists in the rudimentary condition even before the child is born.

M.C. And what about the second?

H.P.B. The second is the "Thought" body, or Dream body, rather; known among Occultists as the Mayavi-rupa, or "Illusion-body." During life this image is the vehicle both of thought and of the animal passions and desires, drawing at one and the same time from the lowest terrestrial manas (mind) and Kama, the element of desire. It is dual in its potentiality, and after death forms what is called in the East, Bhoot, or Kama-rupa, but which is better known to theosophists as the "Spook."

M.C. And the third?

H.P.B. The third is the true Ego, called in the East by a name meaning "causal body" but which in the trans-Himalayan schools is always called the "Karmic body," which is the same. For Karma or action is the cause which produces incessant rebirths or "reincarnations." It is not the Monad, nor is it Manas proper; but is, in a way, indissolubly connected with, and a compound of the Monad and Manas in Devachan.

M.C. Then there are three doubles?

H.P.B. If you can call the Christian and other Trinities "three Gods," then there are three doubles. But in truth there is only one under three aspects or phases: the most material portiondisappearing with the body; the middle one, surviving both as an independent, but temporary entity in the land of shadows; the third, immortal, throughout the manvantara unless Nirvana puts an end to it before.

M.C. But shall not we be asked what difference there is between the Mayavi and Kama rupa, or as you propose to call them the "I)ream body" and the "Spook"?

H.P.B. Most likely, and we shall answer, in addition to what has been said, that the "thought power" or aspect of the Mayavi or "Illusion body," merges after death entirely into the causal body or the conscious, thinking EGO. The animal elements, or power of desire of the "Dream body," absorbing after death that which it hascollected (through its insatiable desire to live) during life; i.e., all the astral vitality as well as all the impressions of its material acts and thoughts while it lived in possession of the body, forms the "Spook" or Kama rupa. Our Theosophists know well enough that after death the higher Manas unites with the Monad and passes into Devachan, while the dregs of the lower rnanas or animal mind go to form this Spook. This has life in it, but hardly any consciousness, except, as it were by proxy, when it is drawn into the current of a medium.

M.C. Is it all that can be said upon the subject?

H.P.B. For the present this is enough metaphysics, I guess. Let us hold to the "Double" in its earthly phase. What would you know?

M.C. Every country in the world believes more or less in the "double" or doppelganger. The simplest form of this is the appearance of a man's phantom, the moment after his death, or at the instant of death, to his dearest friend. Is this appearance the mayavi rupa?

H.P.B. It is; because produced by the thought of the dying man.

M.C. Is it unconscious?

H.P.B. It is unconscious to the extent that the dying man does not generally do it knowingly; nor is he aware that he so appears. What happens is this. If he thinks very intently at the moment of death of the person he either is very anxious to see, or loves best, he may appear to that person. The thought becomes objective; the double, or shadow of a man, being nothing but the faithful reproduction of him, like a reflection in a mirror, that which the man does, even in thought, that the double repeats. This is why the phantoms are often seen in such cases in the clothes they wear at the particular moment, and the image reproduces even the expression on the dying man's face. If the double of a man bathing were seen it would seem to be immersed in water; so when a man who has been drowned appears to his friend, the image will be seen to be dripping with water. The cause for the apparition may be also reversed; i.e., the dying man may or may not be thinking at all of the particular person his image appears to, but it is that person who is sensitive. Or perhaps his sympathy or his hatred for the individual whose wraith is thus evoked is very intense physically or psychically; and in this case the apparition is created by, and depends upon, the intensity of the thought. What then happens is this. Let us call the dying man A, and him who sees the double B. The latter, owing to love, hate, or fear, has the image of A so deeplyimpressed on his psychic memory, that actual magnetic attraction and repulsion are established between the two, whether one knows of it and feels it, or not. When A dies, the sixth sense or psychic spiritual intelligence of the inner man in B becomes cognizant of the change in A, and forthwith apprises the physical senses of the man, by projecting before his eye the form of A, as it is at the instant of the great change. The same when the dying man longs to see some one; his thought telegraphs to his friend, consciously or unconsciously along the wire of sympathy, and becomes objective. This is what the "Spookical" Research Society would pompously, but none the less muddily, call telepathic impact.

M.C. This applies to the simplest form of the appearance of the double. What about cases in which the double does that which is contrary to the feeling and wish of the man?

H.P.B. This is impossible. The "Double" cannot act, unless the keynote of this action was struck in the brain of the man to whom the "Double" belongs, be that man just dead, or alive, in good or in bad health. If he paused on the thought a second, long enough to give it form, before he passed on to other mental pictures, this one second is as sufficient for the objectivizations of his personality on the astral waves, as for your face to impress itself on the sensitized plate of a photographic apparatus. Nothing prevents your form, then, being seized upon by the surrounding Forces--as a dry leaf fallen from a tree is taken up and carried away by the wind--being made to caricature or distort your thought.

M.C. Supposing the double expresses in actual words a thought uncongenial to the man, and expresses it--let us say to a friend far away, perhaps on another continent? I have known instances of this occurring.

H.P.B. Because it then so happens that the created image is taken up and used by a "Shell." Just as in seance-rooms when "images" of the dead--which may perhaps be lingering unconsciously in the memory or even the auras of those present--are seized upon by the Elemental or Elemental Shadows and made objective to the audience, and even caused to act at the bidding of the strongest of the many different wills in the room. In your case, moreover, there must exist a connecting link--a telegraph wire--between the two persons, a point of psychic sympathy, and on this the thought travels instantly. Of course there must be, in every case, some strong reason why that particular thought takes that direction; it must be connected in some way with the other person. Otherwise such apparitions would be of common and daily occurrence.

M.C. This seems very simple; why then does it only occur with exceptional persons?

H.P.B. Because the plastic power of the imagination is much stronger in some persons than in others. The mind is dual in its potentiality: it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul, the Kama principle. There are persons who never think with the higher faculties of their mind at all; those who do so are the minority and are thus, in a way, beyond, if not above, the average of human kind. These will think even upon ordinary matters on that higher plane. The idiosyncrasy of the person determines in which "principle" of the mind the thinking is done, as also the faculties of a preceding life, and sometimes the heredity of the physical. This is why it is so very difficult for a materialist--the metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied--to raise himself, or for one who is naturally spiritually minded, to descend to the level of the matter-of-fact vulgar thought. Optimism and pessimism depend on it also in a large measure.

M.C. But the habit of thinking in the higher mind can be developed--else there would be no hope for persons who wish to alter their lives and raise themselves? And that this is possible must be true, or there would be no hope for the world.

H.P.B. Certainly it can be developed, but only with great difficulty, a firm determination, and through much self-sacrifice. But it is comparatively easy for those who are born with the gift. Why is it that one person sees poetry in a cabbage or a pig with her little ones, while another will perceive in the loftiest things only their lowest and most material aspect, will laugh at the "music of the spheres," and ridicule the most sublime conceptions and philosophies? This difference depends simply on the innate power of the mind to think on the higher or on the lower plane, with the astral (in the sense given to the word by St. Martin), or with the physical brain. Great intellectual powers are often no proof of, but are impediments to spiritual and right conceptions; witness most of the great men of science. We must rather pity than blame them.

M.C. But how is it that the person who thinks on the higher plane produces more perfect and more potential images and objective forms by his thought?

H.P.B. Not necessarily that "person" alone, but all those who are generally sensitive. The person who is endowed with this faculty of thinking about even the most trifling things from the higher plane of thought has, by virtue of that gift which he possesses, a plastic power of formation, so to say, in his very imagination. Whatever such aperson may think about, his thought wi11 be so far more intense than the thought of an ordinary person, that by this very intensity it obtains the power of creation. Science has established the fact that thought is an energy. This energy in its action disturbs the atoms of the astral atmosphere around us. I already told you; the rays of thought have the same potentiality for producing forms in the astral atmosphere as the sun-rays have with regard to a lens. Every thought so evolved with energy from the brain, creates nolens volens a shape.

M.C. Is that shape absolutely unconscious?

H.P.B. Perfectly unconscious unless it is the creation of an adept, who has a pre-conceived object in giving it consciousness, or rather in sending along with it enough of his will and intelligence to cause it to appear conscious. This ought to make us more cautious about our thoughts.

But the wide distinction that obtains between the adept in this matter and the ordinary man must be borne in mind. The adept may at his will use his Mayavi rupa, but the ordinary man does not, except in very rare cases. It is called Mayavi rupa because it is a form of illusion created for use in the particular instance, and it has quite enough of the adept's mind in it to accomplish its purpose. The ordinary man merely creates a thought-image, whose properties and powers are at the time wholly unknown to him.

M.C. Then one may say that the form of an adept appearing at a distance from his body, as for instance Ram Lal in Mr. Isaacs, is simply an image?

H.P.B. Exactly. It is a walking thought.

M.C. In which case an adept can appear in several places almost simultaneously .

H.P.B. He can. Just as Apollonius of Tyana, who was seen in two places at once, while his body was at Rome. But it must be understood that not all of even the astral adept is present in each appearance.

M.C. Then it is very necessary for a person of any amount of imagination and psychic powers to attend to his thoughts?

H.P.B. Certainly, for each thought has a shape which borrows the appearance of the man engaged in the action of which he thought. Otherwise how can clairvoyants see in your aura your past and present? What they see is a passing panorama of yourself represented in successive actions by your thoughts. You asked me if we are punished for our thoughts. Not for all, for some are still-born; but for others, those which we call "silent" but potential thoughts--yes. Take an extreme case, such as that of a person who is so wicked as to wish the death of another. Unless the evil-wisher is a Dugpa, a high adept in black magic, in which case Karma is delayed, such a wish only comes back to roost.

M.C. But supposing the evil-wisher to have a very strong will, without being a dugpa, could the death of the other be accomplished?

H.P.B. Only if the malicious person has the evil eye, which simply means possessing enormous plastic power of imagination working involuntarily, and thus turned unconsciously to bad uses. For what is the power of the "evil eye"? Simply a great plastic power of thought, so great as to produce a current impregnated with the potentiality of every kind of misfortune and accident, which inoculates, or attaches itself to any person who comes within it. A jettatore (one with the evil eye) need not be even imaginative, or have evil intentions or wishes. He may be simply a person who is naturally fond of witnessing or reading about sensational scenes, such as murder, executions, accidents, etc., etc. He may be not even thinking of any of these at the moment his eye meets his future victim. But the currents have been produced and exist in his visual ray ready to spring into activity the instant they find suitable soil, like a seed fallen by the way and ready to sprout at the first opportunity.

M.C. But how about the thoughts you call "silent"? Do such wishes or thoughts come home to roost?

H.P.B. They do; just as a ball which fails to penetrate an object rebounds upon the thrower. This happens even to some dugpas or sorcerers who are not strong enough, or do not comply with the rules --for even they have rules they have to abide by--but not with those who are regular, fully developed "black magicians"; for such have the power to accomplish what they wish.

M.C. When you speak of rules it makes me want to wind up this talk by asking you what everybody wants to know who takes anyinterest in occultism. What is a principal or important suggestion for those who have these powers and wish to control them rightly--in fact to enter occultism?

H.P.B. The first and most important step in occultism is to learn how to adapt your thoughts and ideas to your plastic potency.

M.C. Why is this so important?

H.P.B. Because otherwise you are creating things by which you may be making bad Karma. No one should go into occultism or even touch it before he is perfectly acquainted with his own powers, and that he knows how to commensurate it with his actions. And this he can do only bydeeply studying the philosophy of Occultism before entering upon the practical training. Otherwise, as sure as fate--HE WILL FALL INTO BLACK MAGIC.

Lucifer. December 1888



FOLLOWING the example of the Parsi Gentleman whose letter you published in the Theosophist of January, 1882, I am induced to enquire if there are Hindu Mahatmas among the Himalayan BROTHERS. By the term Hindu, I mean a believer in Vedas and the Gods they describe. If there are none, will any Brother of the 1st Section1 be so kind as to enlighten the Hindu Community in general and the Hindu Theosophists in particular whether any Hindu Rishis of old still exist in flesh and blood? The adept Himalayan BROTHERS having explored the unseen universe must necessarily know the Rishis if they exist now. Tradition says that particularly the following seven are immortal, at least for the present kalpa.

Ashwathama, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhisana, Kripa, Parasurama.


Editor's Note:--In reply to the first question we are happy to inform our correspondent that there are Mahatmas among the Himalayan Brothers who are Hindus--i.e., born of Hindu and Brahmin parents and who recognize the esoteric meaning of the Vedas and the Upanishads. They agree with Krishna, Buddha, Vyasa, Suka, Goudapatha and Sankaracharya in considering that the Karma kanda of the Vedas is of no importance whatsoever so far as man's spiritual progress is concerned. Our questioner will do well to remember in this connection Krishna's celebrated advice to Arjuna. "The subject matter of the Vedas is related to the three Gunas; oh Arjuna, divest thyself of these gunas." Sankaracharya's uncompromising attitude towards Purwamimansa is too well known to require any special mention here.

Although the Himalayan Brothers admit the esoteric meaning of the Vedas and the Upanishads, they refuse to recognize as Gods, the powers and other spiritual entities mentioned in the Vedas. The language used in the Vedas is allegorical and this fact has been fully recognized by some of the greatest Indian Philosophers. Our correspondent will have to prove that the Vedas really "describe Gods" as they exist, before he can fairly ask us to declare whether our Masters believe in such gods. We very much doubt if our correspondent is really prepared to contend seriously, that Agni has four horns, three legs, two heads, five hands and seven tongues as he is stated to possess in the Vedas; or that Indra committed adultery with Goutama's wife. We beg to refer our learned correspondent to Kulluka Bhatta's explanation of the latter myth (and it is a mere myth in his opinion) and Patanjali's remarks on the profound esoteric significance of the four horns of Agni, in support of our assertion that the Vedas do not in reality describe any gods as our questioner has supposed.

In reply to the second question we are not prepared to say that "any Hindu Rishis of old still exist in flesh and blood" although we have our own reasons to believe that some of the great Hindu Adepts of ancient times have been and are reincarnating themselves occasionally in Tibet and Tartary; nor is it at all easy for us to understand how it can ever reasonably be expected that our Himalayan Brothers should discover Hindu Rishis "in flesh and blood" in their explorations in the "Unseen Universe," since "astral" bodies are not usually made up of those earthly materials.

The tradition alluded to by our correspondent is not literally true; then, what connection is there between the seven personages named and the Hindu Rishis? Though we are not called upon to give an explanation of the tradition in question from our own standpoint, we shall give a few hints which may enable our readers to ascertain its real significance from what is contained in Ramayana and Maha Charata.

Asvathama has gained an immortality of infamy.

Parasurama's cruelty made him immortal but he is not supposed to live in flesh and blood now; he is generally stated to have some sort of existence in fire though not necessarily in what a Christian would call "hell."

Bali is not an individual properly speaking. The principle denoted by the name will be known when the esoteric meaning of Thrivikrama Avatar is better comprehended.

Vyasa is immortal in his incarnations. Let our respected Brother count how many Vyasas there have been from first to last.

Hanuman was neither a human being nor a monkey: it is one of the powers of the 7th principle of man (Rama).

Vibhisana. Not a Rakshasa really but the personification of Satwaguna which is immortal.

Kripa's association with Aswathama will explain the nature of his immortality.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, March, 1883


1 No chela need answer this. except the editor. A.H.T.
back to text



As Dr. Beard has scorned (in his scientific grandeur) to answer the challenge sent to him by your humble servant in the number of The Daily Graphic for the 13th* of October last, and has preferred instructing the public in general rather than one "credulous fool" in particular, let her come from Circassia or Africa, I fully trust you will permit me to use your paper once more in order that by pointing out some very spicy peculiarities of this amazingly scientific exposure, the public might better judge at whose door the aforesaid elegant epithet could be most appropriately laid.

For a week or so an immense excitement, a thrill of sacrilegious fear, if I may be allowed this expression, ran through the psychologized frames of the Spiritualists of New York. It was rumoured in ominous whispers that G. Beard, M. D., the Tyndall of America, was coming out with his peremptory exposure of the Eddys' ghosts and—the Spiritualists trembled for their gods!

The dreaded day has come, the number of The Daily Graphic for November the 9th is before us. We have read it carefully, with respectful awe, for true science has always been an authority for us (weak-minded fool though we may be), and so we handled the dangerous exposure with a feeling somewhat akin to that of a fanatic Christian opening a volume of Büchner. We perused it to the last: we turned the page over and over again, vainly straining our eyes and brains to detect therein one word of scientific proof or a solitary atom of overwhelming evidence that would thrust into our Spiritualistic bosom the venomous fangs of doubt. But no, not a particle of reasonable explanation or of scientific evidence that what we have all seen, heard and felt at the Eddys' was but delusion. In our feminine modesty, still allowing the said article the benefit of the doubt, we disbelieved our own senses, and so devoted a whole day to the picking up of sundry bits of criticism from judges that we believe more competent than ourselves, and at last came collectively to the following conclusion:

The Daily Graphic has allowed Dr. Beard in its magnanimity nine columns of its precious pages to prove—what? Why, the following:

First, that he, Dr. Beard, according to his own modest assertions (see columns second and third) is more entitled to occupy the position of an actor intrusted with characters of simpletons (Molière's "Tartuffe" might fit him perhaps as naturally) than to undertake the difficult part of a Prof. Faraday vis-à-vis the Chittenden D. D. Home.

Secondly, that although the learned doctor was "overwhelmed already with professional labours" (a nice and cheap reclame, by the way) and scientific researches, he gave the latter another direction, and so went to the Eddys. That, arrived there, he played with Horatio Eddy, for the glory of science and the benefit of humanity, the difficult character of a "dishevelled simpleton," and was rewarded in his scientific research by finding on the said suspicious premises a professor of bumps "a poor harmless fool"! Galileo, of famous memory, when he detected the sun in its involuntary imposture chuckled certainly less over his triumph than does Dr. Beard over the discovery of this "poor fool" No. 1. Here we modestly suggest that perhaps the learned doctor had no need to go as far as Chittenden for that.

Further, the doctor, forgetting entirely the wise motto, Non bis in idem, discovers and asserts throughout the length of his article that all the past, present and future generations of pilgrims to the "Eddy homestead" are collectively fools, and that every solitary member of this numerous body of Spiritualistic pilgrims is likewise "a weak-minded, credulous fool"! Query—the proof of it, if you please, Dr. Beard? Answer—Dr. Beard has said so, and Echo responds, Fool!

Truly miraculous are thy doings, indeed, O Mother Nature! The cow is black and its milk is white! But then, you see, those ill-bred, ignorant Eddy brothers have allowed their credulous guests to eat up all the "trout" caught by Dr. Beard and paid for by him seventy-five cents per pound as a penalty; and that fact alone might have turned him a little—how shall we say—sour, prejudiced? No, erroneous in his statement, will answer better.

For erroneous he is, not to say more. When, assuming an air of scientific authority, he affirms that the séance-room is generally so dark that one cannot recognize at three feet distance his own mother, he says what is not true. When he tells us further that he saw through a hole in one of the shawls and the space between them all the manœuvres of Horatio's arm, he risks finding himself contradicted by thousands who, weak-minded though they may be, are not blind for all that, neither are they confederates of the Eddys, but far more reliable witnesses in their simple-minded honesty than Dr. Beard is in his would-be scientific and unscrupulous testimony. The same when he says that no one is allowed to approach the spirits nearer than twelve feet distance, still less to touch them, except the "two simple-minded ignorant idiots" who generally sit on both ends of the platform. To my knowledge many other persons have sat there besides those two.

Dr. Beard ought to know this better than anyone else, as he has sat there himself. A sad story is in circulation, by the way, at the Eddys'. The records of the spiritual séances at Chittenden have devoted a whole page to the account of a terrible danger that threatened for a moment to deprive America of one of her brightest scientific stars. Dr. Beard, admitting a portion of the story himself, perverts the rest of it, as he does everything else in his article. The doctor admits that he had been badly struck by the guitar, and, not being able to bear the pain, "jumped up," and broke the circle. Now it clearly appears that the learned gentleman has neglected to add to the immense stock of his knowledge the first rudiments of "logic." He boasts of having completely blinded Horatio and others as to the real object of his visit. What should then Horatio pummel his head for? The spirits were never known before to be as rude as that. But Dr. B. does not believe in their existence and so lays the whole thing at Horatio's door. He forgets to state, though, that a whole shower of missiles were thrown at his head and that—"pale as a ghost," so says the tale-telling record—the poor scientist surpassed for a moment the "fleet-footed Achilles" himself in the celerity with which he took to his heels. How strange if Horatio, not suspecting him still, left him standing at two feet distance from the shawl! How very logical!

It becomes evident that the said neglected logic was keeping company at the time with old mother Truth at the bottom of her well, neither of them being wanted by Dr. Beard. I myself have sat upon the upper step of the platform for fourteen nights by the side of Mrs. Cleveland. I got up every time "Honto" approached me to within an inch of my face in order to see her the better. I have touched her hands repeatedly as other spirits have been touched, and even embraced her nearly every night.

Therefore, when I read Dr. Beard's preposterous and cool assertion that "a very low order of genius is required to obtain command of a few words in different languages and so to mutter them to credulous Spiritualists," I feel every right in the world to say in my turn that such a scientific exposure as Dr. Beard has come out with in his article does not require any genius at all; per contra, it requires a ridiculous faith on the part of the writer in his own infallibility, as well as a positive confidence in finding in all his readers what he elegantly terms "weak-minded fools." Every word of his statement, when it is not a most evident untruth, is a wicked and malicious insinuation built on the very equivocal authority of one witness against the evidence of thousands.

Says Dr. Beard, "I have proved that the life of the Eddys is one long lie, the details need no further discussion." The writer of the above lines forgets, by saying these imprudent words, that some people might think that "like attracts like." He went to Chittenden with deceit in his heart and falsehood on his lips, and so judging his neighbour by the character he assumed himself, he takes everyone for a knave when he does not put him down as a fool. Declaring so positively that he has proved it, the doctor forgets one trifling circumstance, namely, that he has proved nothing whatever.

Where are his boasted proofs? When we contradict him by saying that the séance-room is far from being as dark as he pretends it to be, and that the spirits themselves have repeatedly called out through Mrs. Eaton's voice for more light, we only say what we can prove before any jury. When Dr. Beard says that all the spirits are personated by W. Eddy, he advances what would prove to be a greater conundrum for solution than the apparition of spirits themselves. There he falls right away into the domain of Cagliostro: for if Dr. B. has seen five or six spirits in all, other persons, myself included, have seen one hundred and nineteen in less than a fortnight, nearly all of whom were differently dressed. Besides, the accusation of Dr. Beard implies the idea to the public that the artist of The Daily Graphic who made the sketches of so many of those apparitions, and who is not a "credulous Spiritualist" himself, is likewise a humbug, propagating to the world what he did not see, and so spreading at large the most preposterous and outrageous lie.

When the learned doctor will have explained to us how any man in his shirt-sleeves and a pair of tight pants for an attire can possibly conceal on his person (the cabinet having been previously found empty) a whole bundle of clothes, women's robes, hats, caps, head-gears, and entire suits of evening dress, white waistcoats and neckties included, then he will be entitled to more belief than he is at present. That would be a proof indeed, for, with all due respect to his scientific mind, Dr. Beard is not the first Œdipus that has thought of catching the Sphinx by its tail and so unriddling the mystery. We have known more than one "weak-minded fool," ourselves included, that has laboured under a similar delusion for more than one night, but all of us were finally obliged to repeat the words of the great Galileo, "E pur, se muove!" and give it up.

But Dr. Beard does not give it up. Preferring to keep a scornful silence as to any reasonable explanation, he hides the secret of the above mystery in the depths of his profoundly scientific mind. "His life is given to scientific researches," you see; "his physiological knowledge and neuro-physiological learning are immense," for he says so, and skilled as he is in combating fraud by still greater fraud (see column the eighth), spiritualistic humbug has no more mysteries for him. In five minutes the scientist had done more towards science than all the rest of the scientists put together have done in years of labour, and "would feel ashamed if he had not." (See same column.) In the overpowering modesty of his learning he takes no credit to himself for having done so, though he has discovered the astounding, novel fact of the "cold benumbing sensation." How Wallace, Crookes and Varley, the naturalist-anthropologist, the chemist and electrician, will blush with envy in their old country! America alone is able to produce on her fertile soil such quick and miraculous intellects. "Veni, Vidi, Vici!" was the motto of a great conqueror. Why should not Dr. Beard select for his crest the same? And then, not unlike the Alexanders and the Cæsars of antiquity (in the primitive simplicity of his manners), he abuses people so elegantly, calling them "fools" when he cannot find a better argument.

A far wiser mind than Dr. Beard (will he dispute the fact?) has suggested, centuries ago, that the tree was to be judged according to its fruits. Spiritualism, notwithstanding the desperate efforts of more scientific men than himself, has stood its ground without flinching for more than a quarter of a century. Where are the fruits of the tree of science that blossoms on the soil of Dr. Beard's mind? If we are to judge of them by his article, then verily the said tree needs more than usual care. As for the fruits, it would appear that they are as yet in the realms of "sweet delusive hope." But then, perhaps the doctor was afraid to crush his readers under the weight' of his learning (true merit has been in all times modest and unassuming), and that accounts for the learned doctor withholding from us any scientific proof of the fraud that he pretends to be exposing, except the above-mentioned fact of the "cold benumbing sensation." But how Horatio can keep his hand and arm ice cold under a warm shawl for half an hour at a time, in summer as well as in any other season, and that without having some ice concealed about his person, or how he can prevent it from thawing—all the above is a mystery that Dr. Beard doesn't reveal for the present. Maybe he will tell us something of it in his book that he advertises in the article. Well, we only hope that the former will be more satisfactory than the latter.

I will add but a few words before ending my debate with Dr. Beard for ever. All that he says about the lamp concealed in a bandbox, the strong confederates, etc., exists only in his imagination, for the mere sake of argument, we suppose. "False in one, false in all," says Dr. Beard in column the sixth. These words are a just verdict on his own article.

Here I will briefly state what I reluctantly withheld up to the present moment from the knowledge of all such as Dr. Beard. The fact was too sacred in my eyes to allow it to be trifled with in newspaper gossiping. But now, in order to settle the question at once, I deem it my duty as a Spiritualist to surrender it to the opinion of the public.

On the last night that I spent with the Eddys I was presented by Georgo Dix and Mayflower with a silver decoration, the upper part of a medal with which I was but too familiar. I quote the precise words of the spirit: "We bring you this decoration, for we think you will value it more highly than anything else. You will recognize it, for it is the badge of honour that was presented to your father by his Government for the campaign of 1828, between Russia and Turkey. We got it through the influence of your uncle, who appeared to you here this evening. We brought it from your father's grave at Stavropol. You will identify it by a certain sign known to yourself."

These words were spoken in the presence of forty witnesses. Col. Olcott will describe the fact and give the design of the decoration.

I have the said decoration in my possession. I know it as having belonged to my father. More, I have identified it by a portion that, through carelessness, I broke myself many years ago, and, to settle all doubt in relation to it, I possess the photograph of my father (a picture that has never been at the Eddys', and could never possibly have been seen by any of them) on which this medal is plainly visible.

Query for Dr. Beard: How could the Eddys know that my father was buried at Stavropol; that he was ever presented with such a medal, or that he had been present and in actual service at the time of the war of 1828?

Willing as we are to give every one his due, we feel compelled to say on behalf of Dr. Beard that he has not boasted of more than he can do, in advising the Eddys to take a few private lessons of him in the trickery of mediumship. The learned doctor must be expert in such trickeries. We are likewise ready to admit that in saying as he did that "his article would only confirm the more the Spiritualists in their belief" (and he ought to have added, "convince no one else"), Dr. Beard has proved himself to be a greater "prophetic medium" than any other in this country!


23, Irving Place, New York City,
November 10th, 1874.


* This appears to be a misprint, unless the challenge had been made on the 13th, and was only repeated in the letter of Oct. 27th. —EDS.
back to text



THE November Journal of Science (London) contains an interesting review of Dr. Parkin's new work "Epidemiology, or the Remote Causes of Epidemic Diseases in the Animal and Vegetable Creation," which is well worth reading. Dr. Parkin's theory is that "there occur certain 'pestilential epochs,' during which the world is at frequent intervals devastated by epidemics which travel in a determinate direction from Central or Eastern Asia to the west of Europe and even to America; that during such epochs all diseases, even those not considered as communicable from one person to another, increase in frequency and violence; that these epochs are further marked by Epizoötics and by 'blights' or widespread diseases in the vegetable world, and are attended by a general intensification of earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, fogs, seasons of abnormal heat or cold, and other convulsions of inorganic nature. Such an epoch is generally ushered in by the appearance of new diseases, or the reappearance of maladies that had become obsolete." The last great pestilential term, Dr. Parkin thinks, began about the seventh century, and the fatal wave or current rolled westward without check to the beginning of the eighteenth century. During this time a succession of epidemics raged, among them the fearful plague or Black Death. In 1803 an epidemic of yellow fever at Malaga carried off 36,000 persons. The plague visiting London in 1665 destroyed, between the months of June and December, 20,000 persons, or one-third of the then whole population. According to Sydenham it had invaded England every thirty or forty years. In 1770 it was at Marseilles, in 1771 and 1772 at Moscow, in 1815-16 in the Neapolitan dominions. But despite its frequent challenges to medical science the best authorities have confessed that of its treatment little is known (see Am. Cyclo. XIII, 369). Nor, in fact, is anything definite known as to the causes of epidemics in general. The author of the medical articles in the Cyclopedia just named prophetically (A.D. 1859) says: "The progressive sciences of meteorology and physical geography will probably soon throw additional light upon these difficult questions." Dr. Parkin's new work comes almost as a fulfilment of this prophecy. He seems to have conclusively disposed of two pet popular theories, that of the sanitary reformers that dirt is the primal cause of epidemics, and the notion that they are propagated by contagion. Such is also the opinion of the reviewer in the Journal of Science, who admits that the historical facts mentioned by Dr. Parkin "are decidedly opposed to both." As examples he cites the facts that "the cholera has been known to travel steadily for hundreds of miles in the teeth of a strong monsoon. It often works up a river, showing that it is not occasioned by infectious matter draining into the current." And he adds significantly, "alike in epidemics of plague, cholera, and yellow-fever, it has been found that classes of people who from occupation or habit were most exposed to the air suffered most, whilst those who kept themselves shut up escaped. How ill this agrees with the teachings of the sanitary reformers!"

But we have not referred to this subject merely to show the helplessness of Western scientists in face of one of these mysterious waves of death that flow around the globe at intervals. The immediate cause is the bearing they have upon the subject of compulsory vaccination in India. We have before us an interesting public document1 kindly sent us by the learned Dr. Leitner, President of the Government University College, Lahore. The opinion of the Anjuman upon the Bill making vaccination compulsory having been asked by the Punjab Government, that body after a sensible and temperate debate, advised against the adoption of the compulsory clause. The Hindu members especially, and Dr. Leitner himself, pointed out that if the ignorant Hindus should once learn that the vaccine lymph is obtained from ulcers on the teats of the cow, there would be a general protest, perhaps forcible resistance, to the enforcement of the Act. For, while certain products of the cow are regarded, upon the authority of Shastras, as holy, all others, including blood and its impurities are regarded as most impure and unholy. And any one who should knowingly permit either of them to enter his body in any manner, would lose caste. We are not aware what action was taken by the authorities in the premises, but if it is not too late perhaps those in charge of the subject will be interested in the following extract from the same article ("The Sanitary Millennium") in the Journal of Science:

Amongst the diseases which had become less frequent and less severe, but which have since resumed an epidemic and highly dangerous character, a prominent place is due to smallpox, especially as its alleged preventive, vaccination, has taken rank among the political questions of the day. We are told that if this disease no longer carries off its victims by tens of thousands, as in the dark ages, the change is due to vaccination. But there can be not a shadow of doubt that small-pox had begun to decline long before the discovery of Jenner was introduced into practice.

In 1722 Dr. Wagstaffe wrote that the mortality among children did not exceed 1 per cent of the cases. From 1796 to 1825 there was not a single epidemic of small-pox in England. Yet, according to a report published by the College of Physicians in 1807, only about 1½ per cent of the population were vaccinated. Now if we admit that the immunity gained by this operation is absolute and permanent, how is it possible that three vaccinated persons out of every 200 would protect the remaining 197? At the present time about 97 per cent of the population are supposed to be vaccinated. Yet so far from being able to protect the residual 3 per cent it is considered that they are imperilled by the obstinacy or neglect of this small minority. We have the lamentable fact that, whilst vaccination has become all but universal, small-pox has reappeared among us not in isolated cases but in epidemics succeeding each other at short intervals, and each more deadly than the foregoing. Thus in the epidemic of 1857-58-59 the deaths were 14,244: in that of 1863-64-65, 20,059, and in that 1870-71-72, 44,840. Thus in the first interval the deaths from this cause had increased 50 per cent, whilst the population had grown only 7 per cent. In the second interval the deaths from small-pox have risen by 120 per cent, but the population only 10 per cent. Another ugly fact is that the number of persons who have been vaccinated but who are subsequently attacked with small-pox is steadily on the increase. At the Highgate small-pox hospital from 1835 to 1851 the previously-vaccinated formed 53 per cent of the total small-pox cases admitted. In 1851-52 it rose to 66.7 per cent; in 1854-5-6 to 71.2 per cent; in 1859-60 to 72; in 1866 to 81.1 and in 1868 to 84 per cent. How are such facts to be reconciled with the orthodox theory that vaccination is a safeguard against small-pox'? What would be the conclusion formed by an unprejudiced statistician if these figures were laid before him? If a grows more common as b increases in number and general distribution no man in his senses will argue that b is a hindrance to a. The very opposite conclusion, that b is causally connected with a would seem more legitimate. How the credit of vaccination is to be saved is not apparent. We cannot cut the knot by supposing that modern medical practitioners are less careful and skilled in the performance of the operation or less scrupulous in the selection of vaccine lymph. There remains, then, merely the conclusion that small-pox, too, has had a period of cessation during the latter part of the past century and the first quarter of the present;--that the apparent success of vaccination was mainly due to its coincidence with this temporary lull, and that the disease is now rapidly regaining its old virulence and reassuming the pestilential proportions which it displayed in the days of our forefathers.

It is but fair to remark that our esteemed colleague, Dr. D.E. Dudley, President of the Bombay Theosophical Society, takes exception to the accuracy of the above statistics of mortality, and but for the exigencies of his rapidly growing practice would have added a note. Possibly he may find time to do so next month. Meanwhile let us hear from native medical practitioners, astrologers, and pandits what the Shastras have to say as to the cause of epidemics and other abnormal phenomena.

And here is another matter upon which Europe would like to be informed about by them. It is taken from Spiritual Notes (London).

According to Dr. Vincenzo Peset y Cervera the crystals of hæmoglobulin obtained from the blood of different animals have forms so distinct and characteristic that the origin of a sample of blood may thus be determined! All that is required is to mix the blood with a little bile, when crystals not exceeding 0.003 metre in size are formed in the mass. The shapes of the crystals are said to be as follows: Man, right rectangular prisms; horses, cubes; ox, rhombohedrons; sheep, rhombohedral tables; dog, rectangular prisms; rabbit, tetrahedrons; squirrel, hexagonal tables; mouse, octahedrons, &c. Commenting on these allegations the Journal of Science sagely suggests that "if they are confirmed they may serve for the solution of a most important question raised by Dr. Lionel Beale. If the theory of Evolution be true, the crystals obtained from animals which are nearly related should be either identical or such as are in form easily derived from each other. Should the hæmoglobulin crystals--e.g., of the horse and the ass, of the dog and the fox, of the rabbit and the hare, or of the rat and the mouse--belong respectively to different systems, it will supply a serious argument in favour of independent creation.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, March, 1881


1 Proceedings of the Anjuman-i-Punjab, in connection with the proposed Vaccination Bill, etc.
back to text



[Vol. III. No. 4, January, 1882.]

[To the Editor.

(1) ARE dreams always real? If so, what produces them? If not real, may they not nevertheless have in themselves some deep significance?

(2) Can you tell me something about antenatal states of existence and the transmigration of the soul?

(3) Can you give me anything that is worth knowing about psychology as suggested by this article?*

Yours most fraternally and obediently,


Bombay, Nov. 10th, 1881.]

To put our correspondent's request more exactly, he desires The Theosophist to cull into the limits of a column or two the facts embraced within the whole range of all the sublunar mysteries with "full explanations." These would embrace:

(1) The complete philosophy of dreams, as deduced from their physiological, biological, psychological and occult aspects.

(2) The Buddhist Jâtakas (rebirths and migrations of our Lord Shâkya Muni), with a philosophical essay upon the transmigrations of the 387,000 Buddhas who "turned the wheel of faith," during the successive revelations to the world of the 125,000 other Buddhas, the saints who can "overlook and unravel the thousand-fold knotted threads of the moral chain of causation," throwing in a treatise upon the Nidânas, the chain of twelve causes with a complete list of their two millions of results, and copious appendices by some Arhats, "who have attained the stream which flows into Nirvâna."

(3) The compounded reveries of the world-famous psychologists; from the Egyptian Hermes and his Book of the Dead; Plato's definition of the Soul, in Timæus; and so on, down to Drawing-Room Nocturnal Chats with a Disembodied Soul, by the Rev. Adramelech Romeo Tiberius Toughskin from Cincinnati. Such is the modest task proposed.

Our physical senses are the agents by means of which the astral spirit, or "conscious something" within, is brought, by contact with the external world, to a knowledge of actual existence; while the spiritual senses of the astral man are the media, the telegraphic wires by means of which he communicates with his higher principles, and obtains therefrom the faculties of clear perception of, and vision into, the realms of the invisible world. The Buddhist philosopher holds that by the practice of the Dhyânas one may reach "the enlightened condition of mind, which exhibits itself by immediate recognition of sacred truth, so that on opening the Scriptures [or any books whatsoever?] their true meaning at once flashes into the heart." (Beal's Catena, p. 255.)

In dreaming, or in somnambulism, the brain is asleep only in parts, and is called into action through the agency of the external senses, owing to some peculiar cause; a word pronounced, a thought, or picture lingering dormant in one of the cells of memory, and awakened by a sudden noise, the fall of a stone, suggesting instantaneously to this half-dreamy fancy of the sleeper walls of masonry, and so on. When one is suddenly startled in his sleep without becoming fully awake, he does not begin and terminate his dream with the simple noise which partially awoke him, but often experiences in his dream a long train of events concentrated within the brief space of time the sound occupies, and to be attributed solely to that sound. Generally dreams are induced by the waking associations which precede them. Some of them produce such an impression that the slightest idea in the direction of any subject associated with a particular dream may bring its recurrence years after.

Tartini, the famous Italian violinist, composed his "Devil's Sonata" under the inspiration of a dream. During his sleep he thought the devil appeared to him and challenged him to a trial of skill upon his own private violin, brought straight from the infernal regions; which challenge Tartini accepted. When he awoke, the melody of the "Devil's Sonata" was so vividly impressed upon his mind that he there and then noted it down; but on getting as far as the finale all further recollection of it was suddenly obliterated, and he had to lay aside the incomplete piece of music. Two years later he dreamt the very same thing, and in his dream tried to make himself recollect the finale upon awaking. The dream was repeated owing to a blind street-musician fiddling on his instrument under the artist's window.

Coleridge in a like manner composed his poem, "Kublai-Khan," in a dream. On awaking, he found the now-famous lines so vividly impressed upon his mind that he wrote them down. The dream was due to the poet falling asleep in his chair while reading the following words in Purchas' Pilgrimage: "Here the Khan Kublai commanded a palace to be built . . . enclosed within a wall."

The popular belief, that among the vast number of meaningless dreams there are some in which presages are frequently given of coming events, is shared by many well-informed persons, but not at all by science. Yet there are numberless instances of well-attested dreams which were verified by subsequent events, and which, therefore, may be termed prophetic. The Greek and Latin classics teem with records of remarkable dreams, some of which have become historical. Faith in the spiritual nature of dreaming was as widely disseminated among the Pagan philosophers as among the Christian fathers of the church, nor is belief in soothsaying and interpretations of dreams (oneiromancy) limited to the heathen nations of Asia, since the Bible is full of them. This is what Éliphas Lévi, the great modern Kabalist, says of such divinations, visions and prophetic dreams, in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (i. 356, 357):

Somnambulism, premonitions and second sight are but a disposition, whether accidental or habitual, to dream, awake, or during a voluntary, self-induced, or yet natural sleep; i.e., to perceive [and guess by intuition] the analogical reflections of the astral light. . . . The paraphernalia and instruments of divinations are simply means for [magnetic] communications between the divinator and him who consults him; they serve to fix and concentrate two wills [bent in the same direction] upon the same sign or object; the queer, complicated, moving figures helping to collect the reflections of the astral fluid. Thus one is enabled at times to see in the grounds of a coffee cup, or in the clouds, in the white of an egg, etc., fantastic forms having their existence only in the translucid [or the seer's imagination]. Vision-seeing in the water is produced by the fatigue of the dazzled optic nerve, which ends by ceding its functions to the translucid, and calling forth a cerebral illusion, which makes the simple reflections of the astral light appear as real images. Thus the fittest persons for this kind of divination are those of a nervous temperament whose sight is weak and imagination vivid, children being the best of all adapted for it. But let no one misinterpret the nature of the function attributed by us to imagination in the art of divination. We see through our imagination doubtless, and that is the natural aspect of the miracle; but we see actual and true things, and it is in this that lies the marvel of the natural phenomenon. We appeal for corroboration of what we say to the testimony of all the adepts.

H. P. Blavatsky


*A dream-story from Chambers' Journal.
back to text


Support this site by visiting our donation page
Site copyright © 1996-2014 by Estela Carson-Priede