The Theosophical Forum – May 1937



These appendages of the sun are still mysterious, although intensive research is being conducted by many astronomers. The Master K. H. in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett gives some plain hints that the corona, and the red chromosphere from which the prominences often fly up for tens of thousands of miles with enormous speed, are controlled by electro-magnetic forces rather than by heat or gravitation or light-pressure, and that they are of some finer order of matter than what was familiar to physical scientists when he was writing in 1882. For instance, he says:

Call it a chromosphere or atmosphere, it can be called neither; for it is simply the magnetic and ever-present aura of the sun, seen by astronomers only for a brief few minutes during the eclipse and by some of our chelas — whenever they like — of course while in a certain induced state. A counterpart of what the astronomers call the red flames in the "corona" may be seen in Reichenbach's crystals or in any other strongly magnetic body. The head of a man — in a strong ecstatic condition, when all the electricity of his system is centered around the brain, will represent — especially in darkness — a perfect simile of the Sun during such periods. . . .

The further the emanation shoots out the more it loses its intensity, until, gradually subsiding it fades out; hence — the "outer corona," its rayed shape being due entirely to the latter phenomenon whose effulgence proceeds from the magnetic nature of the matter and the electric energy and not at all from intensely hot particles as asserted by some astronomers. All this is terribly unscientific, nevertheless a fact. . . . — p. 162

From the latest Report of the National Academy of Sciences, Chicago Meeting, it seems that this is not so unscientific in 1937 as it was in 1882! In the report of solar activity recorded by the new motion-picture method at the observatory of the University of Michigan we read this striking confirmation of the Oriental Mahatma's unorthodox statement nearly sixty years ago, when the sun was supposed to be a kind of burning fire, perhaps 15 million years old:

The motions of the various types of solar prominences are very well shown by these pictures and afford an astronomer his first opportunity of actually reviewing these motions. We see no evidence that light pressure alone will, in any way, satisfactorily explain the activity of these prominences and all appearances favor an "electrical theory of prominence formations, motion and destruction. . . . — Science, January 1, 1937

Dr. Curtis of Michigan points out that the apparent start in various directions of great streamers and new centers of activity at high altitudes in the solar atmosphere is one feature which indicates the extreme probability of electric action. Light-pressure would come up from the surface of the sun, not from the heights.

We draw special attention to the strange mysteries of the corona because of the probability that important discoveries further confirming the Masters" teachings will be made in that field. H. P. Blavatsky teaches that the sun is the store-house of life "Vital Force" and that Herschel was right in his daring speculation that the so-called "rice-grains" covering the surface of the sun "partake of life," and that "vital action is competent to develop heat, light and electricity." Life and Consciousness of high or low order are behind all the forces of Nature, and it is not some accidental concatenation of "dead, inert matter" that produces life and consciousness as "by-products."

The fact that the sun's corona resembles the electro-magnetic aura round the head of a person in profound meditation is a broad hint to deeper students as to the analogies between the higher part of man's complex nature and the "heart and head" of the Solar System. The corona is still a great mystery to science, which frankly admits the difficulty in interpreting its meaning and even identifying the material composing it. The records of the eclipse of the sun of last June are now being intensively studied by astronomers, and one utterly unexpected report has been issued in regard to the chromosphere and its prominences. For the first time color photographs of an eclipse were taken, and it was proved that the rose-colored chromosphere was, at least on this occasion, a bluish white instead of a rich red, the color which is the principal hue of the hydrogen of which the prominences are supposed to be mainly constituted. This, however, is not the first time that such an unexplained phenomenon has been seen. During the eclipse of June, 1927, as seen in England, the observers in an airplane 11,000 feet above the earth saw the ring round the sun, the chromosphere, and the prominences, not red as usually observed, but a brilliant silvery white! Observers on the ground saw the usual red color. Professor Langley also observed the same white color during the eclipse of July 29, 1898, from the top of Pike's Peak, which is over 14,000 feet high. Although the English observations in 1927 attracted considerable attention at the time, the problem seems to have been neglected until now, when the natural-color photographs and reports from eye observers have brought it up again. We have not heard how high above the earth the observers of the eclipse of last June in Siberia were when they saw and photographed the pale bluish-white chromosphere and prominences, but in regard to the English and Pike's Peak observations, which were taken at great heights where the atmosphere is rare, it is perhaps possible to connect up with the curious remark by H. P. Blavatsky that atoms and molecules change their nature when coming into our atmosphere. If the varied forms of radiation from the sun such as the spectral lines of hydrogen, said to be seen in the red prominences, also change color from red to bluish silvery white, as they descend into the denser regions of our lower air, the present interpretation of the spectrum of the sun may have to be modified. This subject is well worth watching.

While on the subject of the Master's knowledge of facts unknown to Western science sixty years ago, we must record another instance of his scientific prevision. On page 169 of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett will be found the statement that an instrument will be used some time in the future which will detect by means of heat the presence of optically invisible stars and planets; such stars and planets being known by the Adepts to exist. This has just taken place and it is considered a great triumph of the most recent methods. Dr. C. W. Hetzler of the Yerkes Observatory has discovered new stars too faint and cool to be recorded by their own light on the most sensitive plates. They are, however, recorded on new rapid infra-red plates which are sensitive to low temperature heat rays of only one thousand degrees! It is expected that the new "heat-seeing" photographs of stars will reveal small, cool stars much nearer than the nearest known visible star, as well as giant stars far cooler than the moderately cool but brilliant giants such as Betelgeuse and Antares at enormous distances. We may have to revise our theories about the structure of the universe when all the data in regard to the invisible dark stars only known by their heat rays are accumulated! On the same page of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in which the heat ray method is mentioned, the Master K. H. remarks that a planet exists "in the orbit of Neptune," although quite undiscovered by science in 1882. He does not say outside the orbit of Neptune as might be expected, and the reader might think that the use of the words "in the orbit" was only a careless expression, meaning in the neighborhood of Neptune. But, as a matter of fact, the new planet, Pluto, discovered quite recently, whose orbit is mostly beyond the orbit of Neptune, actually comes nearer to the sun than Neptune for a part of its course and is therefore literally "in the orbit of Neptune"! The Master made no mistake.


The following question has been received. "We have recently noticed that on March 12 the Moon will be New and also Venus will be at its brightest. What particular meaning or effect will this have in regard to our laws of cycles?"

So far as we know this is not a significant coincidence. Were Venus and the Moon in conjunction, i.e., in the same longitude, whether Venus was at its brightest or not, the astrologers would attribute some importance to the position. This, of course, could not happen at New Moon. But the intensity of the light reflected to us at any time is not taken into account in estimating the meaning of the "aspects" of the planets. Possibly it ought to be, and if our correspondent can show cause it would be an interesting contribution to science.


Another question refers to a recent statement by Professor E. D. Merrill, a leading scientist, that "no ancient contacts between the continents of Europe and America existed," and asks what bearing this has upon the belief in Atlantis. Dr. Merrill points out that not a single cultivated plant or domestic animal (except the dog) was common to the two continents prior to 1492, and that this fact alone is sufficient to explode the theory that a land-bridge joined the Old and the New Worlds in recent geological times. He speaks of "continents which have sunk under the Pacific and Atlantic oceans centuries ago," and, considering the mass of nonsensical arguments that have been foisted on the ill-informed public in the attempt to prove that quite recently — geologically speaking — vast territories existed in those oceans, he is quite right in showing the weakness of their basis. This, however, does not affect the Theosophical position, which places the final breaking up of Atlantis nearly a million years ago, and that of Lemuria ages earlier. Conditions in those distant times were so entirely different from what they have been since the great changes in the Pleistocene period, which includes the tremendous glacial climatic changes, that all talk of recent land-bridges and constant communication between the two sides of the Atlantic is futile. A few islands remained for a while after the Atlantean break-up, but anything of the slightest importance had perished hundreds of thousands of years before the last small relic which vanished about 11,000 years ago, and which seems to have been the legendary nucleus around which Plato built his story. He, being an initiate, could not give the real history of the great Atlantean civilization whose existence had been utterly forgotten by ordinary men. The subject of the lost continents is a difficult one, but Dr. Merrill's objections, even if valid, apply only to claims which Theosophy does not make. We do not admit that his argument, convincing as it appears, covers the whole ground. There is reason to believe that some very limited communication did exist between the Old World and the New, across both oceans, long before Columbus or even the Norsemen reached the western shores. For instance, the discovery that the Pima Indians in Arizona were employing the exact and complicated pattern of the Labyrinth of Crete when the first Spanish explorers arrived there, has not been explained, and there are other puzzling facts.


Dr. W. S. Strong of the Smithsonian Institution reports that a missing link between the older and the later people who created the great Mayan culture has been discovered in Honduras. Pottery of a more simple character than the richly decorated Mayan pottery though somewhat similar and seemingly earlier types of tools have been found. Dr. Strong suggests that this indicates that the Mayan civilization originated in northern South America instead of in Mexico as previously believed, and says that this is the next great problem to be solved. Early man in America is indeed an unsolved problem, and although every year sees his origin pushed farther and farther back into geological time, there is little agreement among the best authorities on the subject.

Karena Shields, who owns a planetarium in the Maya jungle and who has spent many years among them, spoke very highly of the "simple yet deeply intelligent existence" of the Mayas of Chiapas to an audience at Altadena on January 7. We quote from the Pasadena Star-News a few passages of special interest:

The speaker said that these people are of a Mayan race preceding that of the Yucatan area, and possess the graciousness of the ancient Grecian people with the mysticism of the ancient Egyptian. Those of the Yucatan are more of the Roman in characteristics. These people are peaceable and friendly and will receive those from the outside world to whom they take a liking, and will not harm or kill those they do not like. But they will allow unwelcome visitors to get into difficulties, or will show their disapproval with a stolid stare, and when an entire village takes this method with one, the psychology of the act becomes too much for him and he leaves.

One of the mysteries of ancient America is the absence of the wheel in any but a symbolic form such as the calendar circle stones. There were no horses or oxen to pull large wagons, but there is no trace of even such a simple wheeled vehicle as the wheelbarrow! The speaker continued:

TRADITIONS BASED IN PHILOSOPHY. Traditions have come down to these people which have their foundations in the philosophies of their ancient forefathers. One is that God in his play made a ball and threw it and it became the earth and rolled on so fast that God could not catch up to it, and that is why much of the evil came into the world, and to have this eliminated it must go slow enough for God again to catch up with it. This is why the wheel is taboo among these people. It goes faster than man can catch up with it, which symbolizes the complications of civilization too intricate for the human mind today to solve. To the Maya it is a potent reason for living the simple life in which one has time to think.

In regard to Maya problems we have received a letter which gives an opportunity of clearing up a misapprehension which has received considerable publicity; we recently heard it seriously expressed by a lecturer who was trying to interpret the mystery of the Great Pyramid from the standpoint of the British being the "Lost Tribes of Israel"! Our correspondent asks if an inscription of "Atlantean-like figures" published beneath a picture of two human figures supporting a large flat stone or lintel in a Central American ruin, does not mean that archaeologists are accepting the hypothesis of Atlantis. "Atlantean" figures, or more commonly "Atlantes," is a technical term in architecture derived from Atlas, the Greek god who was said to support the heavens on his shoulders. Male figures sculptured as the supporting feature of a lintel are called Atlantes (plural). Supporters of the female sex, such as the famous figures in the Temple of Erechtheus, on the Acropolis, Athens, are called Caryatides. The Mayas used Atlantes with great artistic skill. The word has no direct connexion with Atlantis, but its misuse is a good illustration of the danger of employing words ignorantly. Some interesting information about the meaning of the Greek God Atlas and his mythical connexion with Atlantis will be found in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, pp. 493, 762.

The Theosophical Forum