Theosophical University Press Online Edition
[[Tes de gar ek triados pan pneuma pater ekerase.]] — TAY.: Lyd. de Mens., 20.
"The more powerful souls perceive truth through themselves, and are of a more inventive nature. Such souls are saved through their own strength, according to the oracle." — PROCLUS in I Alc.
"Since the soul perpetually runs and passes through all things in a certain space of time, which being performed, it is presently compelled to run back again through all things, and unfold the same web of generation in the world . . . for as often as the same causes return, the same effects will in like manner be returned." — FICIN. de Im. An., 129, Chaldean Oracles.
"If not to some peculiar end assign'd,
Study's the specious trifling of the mind." — YOUNG.
FROM the moment when the foetal embryo is formed until the old man, gasping his last, drops into the grave, neither the beginning nor the end is understood by scholastic science; all before us is a blank, all after us chaos. For it there is no evidence as to the relations between spirit, soul, and body, either before or after death. The mere life-principle itself presents an unsolvable enigma, upon the study of which materialism has vainly exhausted its intellectual powers. In the presence of a corpse the skeptical physiologist stands dumb when asked by his pupil whence came the former tenant of that empty box, and whither it has gone. The pupil must either, like his master, rest satisfied with the explanation that protoplasm made the man, and force vitalized and will now consume his body, or he must go outside the walls of his college and the books of its library to find an explanation of the mystery.
It is sometimes as interesting as instructive to follow the two great rivals, science and theology, in their frequent skirmishes. Not all of the sons of the Church are as unsuccessful in their attempts at advocacy as the poor Abbe Moigno, of Paris. This respectable, and no doubt well-meaning divine, in his fruitless attempt to refute the free-thinking arguments of Huxley, Tyndall, Du Bois-Raymond, and many others, has met with a sad failure. In his antidotal arguments his success was more than doubtful, and, as a reward for his trouble, the "Congregation of the Index" forbids the circulation of his book among the faithful.
It is a dangerous experiment to engage in a single-handed duel with scientists on topics which are well demonstrated by experimental research. In what they do know they are unassailable, and until the old formula is destroyed by their own hands and replaced by a more newly-discovered one, there is no use fighting against Achilles — unless, indeed, one is for-
tunate enough to catch the swift-footed god by his vulnerable heel. This heel is — what they confess they do not know!
That was a cunning device to which a certain well-known preacher resorted to reach this mortal part. Before we proceed to narrate the extraordinary though well authenticated facts with which we intend to fill this chapter, it will be good policy to show once more how fallible is modern science as to every fact in nature which can be tested neither by retort nor crucible. The following are a few fragments from a series of sermons by F. Felix, of Notre Dame, entitled Mystery and Science. They are worthy to be translated for and quoted in a work which is undertaken in precisely the same spirit as that exhibited by the preacher. For once the Church silenced for a time the arrogance of her traditional enemy, in the face of the learned academicians.
It was known that the great preacher, in response to the general desire of the faithful, and perhaps to the orders of ecclesiastical superiors, had been preparing himself for a great oratorical effort, and the historic cathedral was filled with a monster congregation. Amid a profound silence he began his discourse, of which the following paragraphs are sufficient for our purpose:
"A portentous word has been pronounced against us to confront progress with Christianity — SCIENCE. Such is the formidable evocation with which they try to appall us. To all that we can say to base progress upon Christianity, they have always a ready response: that is not scientific. We say revelation; revelation is not scientific. We say miracle; a miracle is not scientific.
"Thus antichristianism, faithful to its tradition, and now more than ever, pretends to kill us by science. Principle of darkness, it threatens us with light. It proclaims itself the light. . . .
"A hundred times I asked myself, What is, then, that terrible science which is making ready to devour us? . . . Is it mathematical science? . . . but we also have our mathematicians. Is it physics? Astronomy? Physiology? Geology? But we number in Catholicism astronomers, physicists, geologists,* and physiologists, who make somewhat of a figure in the scientific world, who have their place in the Academy and their name in history. It would appear that what is to crush us is neither this nor that science, but science in general.
"And why do they prophesy the overthrow of Christianity by science? Listen: . . . we must perish by science because we teach mysteries, and because the Christian mysteries are in radical antagonism with modern
* We wonder if Father Felix is prepared to include St. Augustine, Lactantius, and Bede in this category?
[[Vol. 1. Page]] 338 THE VEIL OF ISIS.
science. . . . Mystery is the negation of common sense; science repels it; science condemns it; she has spoken — Anathema!
"Ah! you are right; if Christian mystery is what you proclaim it, then in the name of science hurl the anathema at it. Nothing is antipathetic to science like the absurd and contradictory. But, glory be to the truth! such is not the mystery of Christianity. If it were so, it would remain for you to explain the most inexplicable of mysteries: how comes it that, during nearly 2,000 years, so many superior minds and rare geniuses have embraced our mysteries, without thinking to repudiate science or abdicate reason?* Talk as much as you like of your modern science, modern thought, and modern genius, there were scientists before 1789.
"If our mysteries are so manifestly absurd and contradictory, how is it that such mighty geniuses should have accepted them without a single doubt? . . . But God preserve me from insisting upon demonstrating that mystery implies no contradiction with science! . . . Of what use to prove, by metaphysical abstractions, that science can reconcile itself with mystery, when all the realities of creation show unanswerably that mystery everywhere baffles science? You ask that we should show you, beyond doubt, that exact science cannot admit mystery; I answer you decidedly that she cannot escape it. Mystery is the FATALITY of science.
"Shall we choose our proofs? First, then, look around at the purely material world, from the smallest atom to the most majestic sun. There, if you try to embrace in the unity of a single law all these bodies and their movements, if you seek the word which explains, in this vast panorama of the universe, this prodigious harmony, where all seems to obey the empire of a single force, you pronounce a word to express it, and say Attraction! . . . Yes, attraction, this is the sublime epitome of the science of the heavenly bodies. You say that throughout space these bodies recognize and attract each other; you say that they attract in proportion to their mass, and in inverse ratio with the squares of their distances. And, in fact, until the present moment, nothing has happened to give the lie to this assertion, but everything has confirmed a formula which now reigns sovereign in the EMPIRE OF HYPOTHESIS, and therefore it must henceforth enjoy the glory of being an invincible truism.
"Gentlemen, with all my heart I make my scientific obeisances to the sovereignty of attraction. It is not I who would desire to obscure a light in the world of matter which reflects upon the world of spirits. The
* For instance, Copernicus, Bruno, and Galileo? For further particulars see the "Index Expurgatorius." Verily, wise are such popular sayings, as that, "Boldness carries off cities at one shout."
empire of attraction, then, is palpable; it is sovereign; it stares us in the face!
"But, what is this attraction? who has seen attraction? who has met attraction? who has touched attraction? How do these mute bodies, intelligent, insensible, exercise upon each other unconsciously this reciprocity of action and reaction which holds them in a common equilibrium and unanimous harmony? Is this force which draws sun to sun, and atom to atom, an invisible mediator which goes from one to another? And, in such case what is this mediator? whence comes to itself this force which mediates, and this power which embraces, from which the sun can no more escape than the atom. But is this force nothing different from the elements themselves which attract each other? . . . Mystery! Mystery!
"Yes, gentlemen, this attraction which shines with such brightness throughout the material world, remains to you at bottom an impenetrable mystery. . . . Well! because of its mystery, will you deny its reality, which touches you, and its domination, which subjugates you? . . . And again, remark if you please, mystery is so much at the foundation of all science that if you should desire to exclude mystery, you would be compelled to suppress science itself. Imagine whatever science you will, follow the magnificent sweep of its deductions . . . when you arrive at its parent source, you come face to face with the unknown.*
"Who has been able to penetrate the secret of the formation of a body, the generation of a single atom? What is there I will not say at the centre of a sun, but at the centre of an atom? who has sounded to the bottom the abyss in a grain of sand? The grain of sand, gentlemen, has been studied four thousand years by science, she has turned and returned it; she divides it and subdivides it; she torments it with her experiments; she vexes it with her questions to snatch from it the final word as to its secret constitution; she asks it, with an insatiable curiosity: 'Shall I divide thee infinitesimally?' Then, suspended over this abyss, science hesitates, she stumbles, she feels dazzled, she becomes dizzy, and, in despair says: I DO NOT KNOW!
"But if you are so fatally ignorant of the genesis and hidden nature of a grain of sand, how should you have an intuition as to the generation of a single living being? Whence in the living being does life come? Where does it commence? What is the life-principle?"**
* This statement, neither Herbert Spencer nor Huxley will be likely to traverse. But Father Felix seems insensible of his own debt to science; if he had said this in February, 1600, he might have shared the fate of poor Bruno.
** "Le Mystere et la Science," conferences, P. Felix de Notre Dame; des Mousseaux: "Hauts Phen. Magie."
Can the scientists answer the eloquent monk? Can they escape from his pitiless logic? Mystery certainly does bound them on every side; and the Ultima Thule, whether of Herbert Spencer, Tyndall, or Huxley, has written upon the closed portals the words INCOMPREHENSIBLE, UNKNOWABLE. For the lover of metaphor, science may be likened to a twinkling star shining with resplendent brightness through rifts in a bank of densely-black clouds. If her votaries cannot define that mysterious attraction which draws into concrete masses the material particles which form the smallest pebble on the ocean-beach, how can they define the limits at which the possible stops and the impossible begins?
Why should there be an attraction between the molecules of matter, and none between those of spirit? If, out of the material portion of the ether, by virtue of the inherent restlessness of its particles, the forms of worlds and their species of plants and animals can be evolved, why, out of the spiritual part of the ether, should not successive races of beings, from the stage of monad to that of man, be developed; each lower form unfolding a higher one until the work of evolution is completed on our earth, in the production of immortal man? It will be seen that, for the moment, we entirely put aside the accumulated facts which prove the case, and submit it to the arbitrament of logic.
By whatsoever name the physicists may call the energizing principle in matter is of no account; it is a subtile something apart from the matter itself, and, as it escapes their detection, it must be something besides matter. If the law of attraction is admitted as governing the one, why should it be excluded from influencing the other? Leaving logic to answer, we turn to the common experience of mankind, and there find a mass of testimony corroborative of the immortality of the soul, if we judge but from analogies. But we have more than that — we have the unimpeachable testimony of thousands upon thousands, that there is a regular science of the soul, which, notwithstanding that it is now denied the right of a place among other sciences, is a science. This science, by penetrating the arcana of nature far deeper than our modern philosophy ever dreamed possible, teaches us how to force the invisible to become visible; the existence of elementary spirits; the nature and magical properties of the astral light; the power of living men to bring themselves into communication with the former through the latter. Let them examine the proofs with the lamp of experience, and neither the Academy nor the Church, for which Father Felix so persuasively spoke, can deny them.
Modern science is in a dilemma; it must concede our hypothesis to be correct, or admit the possibility of miracle. To do so, is to say that there can be an infraction of natural law. If this can happen in one case,
what assurance have we that it may not be repeated indefinitely, and so destroy that fixity of law, that perfect balance of forces by which the universe is governed. This is a very ancient and an unanswerable argument. To deny the appearance, in our midst, of supersensual beings, when they have been seen, at various times and in various countries, by not merely thousands, but millions of persons, is unpardonable obstinacy; to say that, in any one instance, the apparition has been produced by a miracle, fatal to the fundamental principle of science. What will they do? What can they do, when they shall have awakened from the benumbing stupor of their pride, but collect the facts, and try to enlarge the boundaries of their field of investigations?
The existence of spirit in the common mediator, the ether, is denied by materialism; while theology makes of it a personal god, the kabalist holds that both are wrong, saving that in ether, the elements represent but matter — the blind cosmic forces of nature; and Spirit, the intelligence which directs them. The Hermetic, Orphic, and Pythagorean cosmogonical doctrines, as well as those of Sanchoniathon and Berosus, are all based upon one irrefutable formula, viz.: that the ether and chaos, or, in the Platonic language, mind and matter, were the two primeval and eternal principles of the universe, utterly independent of anything else. The former was the all-vivifying intellectual principle; the chaos, a shapeless, liquid principle, without "form or sense," from the union of which two, sprang into existence the universe, or rather, the universal world, the first androgynous deity — the chaotic matter becoming its body, and ether the soul. According to the phraseology of a Fragment of Hermias, "chaos, from this union with spirit, obtaining sense, shone with pleasure, and thus was produced the Protogonos (the first-born) light."* This is the universal trinity, based on the metaphysical conceptions of the ancients, who, reasoning by analogy, made of man, who is a compound of intellect and matter, the microcosm of the macrocosm, or great universe.
If we now compare this doctrine with the speculations of science, which comes to a full stop at the Borderland of the unknown, and, while incompetent to solve the mystery, will allow no one else to speculate upon the subject; or, with the great theological dogma, that the world was called into existence by a heavenly trick of prestidigitation; we do not hesitate to believe that, in the absence of better proof, the Hermetic doctrine is by far the more reasonable, highly metaphysical as it may appear. The universe is there, and we know that we exist; but how did it come, and how did we appear in it? Denied an answer by the rep-
* Damascius, in the "Theogony," calls it Dis, "the disposer of all things." Cory: "Ancient Fragments," p. 314.
resentatives of physical learning, and excommunicated and anathematized for our blasphemous curiosity by the spiritual usurpers, what can we do, but turn for information to the sages who meditated upon the subject ages before the molecules of our philosophers aggregated in ethereal space?
This visible universe of spirit and matter, they say, is but the concrete image of the ideal abstraction; it was built on the model of the first divine IDEA. Thus our universe existed from eternity in a latent state. The soul animating this purely spiritual universe is the central sun, the highest deity itself. It was not himself who built the concrete form of his idea, but his first-begotten; and as it was constructed on the geometrical figure of the dodecahedron,* the first-begotten "was pleased to employ twelve thousand years in its creation." The latter number is expressed in the Tyrrhenian cosmogony,** which shows man created in the sixth millennium. This agrees with the Egyptian theory of 6,000 "years,"*** and with the Hebrew computation. Sanchoniathon,**** in his Cosmogony, declares that when the wind (spirit) became enamored of its own principles (the chaos), an intimate union took place, which connection was called pothos, and from this sprang the seed of all. And the chaos knew not its own production, for it was senseless; but from its embrace with the wind was generated mot, or the ilus (mud).***** From this proceeded the spores of creation and the generation of the universe.
The ancients, who named but four elements, made of aether a fifth one. On account of its essence being made divine by the unseen presence it was considered as a medium between this world and the next. They held that when the directing intelligences retired from any portion of ether, one of the four kingdoms which they are bound to superintend, the space was left in possession of evil. An adept who prepared to converse with the "invisibles," had to know well his ritual, and be perfectly acquainted with the conditions required for the perfect equilibrium of the four elements in the astral light. First of all, he must purify the essence, and within the circle in which he sought to attract the pure spirits, equilibrize the elements, so as to prevent the ingress of the elementaries into their respective spheres. But woe to the imprudent inquirer who ignorantly trespasses upon forbidden ground; danger will beset him at every step. He evokes powers that he cannot control; he arouses sentries which allow only their masters to pass. For, in the words of the immortal Rosicrucian, "Once that thou hast resolved to become a cooperator with the spirit of
* Plato: "Timaeus."
** Suidas: v. "Tyrrhenia."
*** The reader will understand that by "years" is meant "ages," not mere periods of twelve lunar months each.
**** See the Greek translation by Philo Byblius.
***** Cory: "Ancient Fragments."
the living God, take care not to hinder Him in His work; for, if thy heat exceeds the natural proportion thou hast stirr'd the wrath of the Moyst* natures, and they will stand up against the central fire, and the central fire against them, and there will be a terrible division in the chaos."** The spirit of harmony and union will depart from the elements, disturbed by the imprudent hand; and the currents of blind forces will become immediately infested by numberless creatures of matter and instinct — the bad daemons of the theurgists, the devils of theology; the gnomes, salamanders, sylphs, and undines will assail the rash performer under multifarious aerial forms. Unable to invent anything, they will search your memory to its very depths; hence the nervous exhaustion and mental oppression of certain sensitive natures at spiritual circles. The elementals will bring to light long-forgotten remembrances of the past; forms, images, sweet mementos, and familiar sentences, long since faded from our own remembrance, but vividly preserved in the inscrutable depths of our memory and on the astral tablets of the imperishable "BOOK OF LIFE."
Every organized thing in this world, visible as well as invisible, has an element appropriate to itself. The fish lives and breathes in the water; the plant consumes carbonic acid, which for animals and men produces death; some beings are fitted for rarefied strata of air, others exist only in the densest. Life, to some, is dependent on sunlight, to others, upon darkness; and so the wise economy of nature adapts to each existing condition some living form. These analogies warrant the conclusion that, not only is there no unoccupied portion of universal nature, but also that for each thing that has life, special conditions are furnished, and, being furnished, they are necessary. Now, assuming
* We give the spelling and words of this Kabalist who lived and published his works in the seventeenth century. Generally he is considered as one of the most famous alchemists among the Hermetic philosophers.
** The most positive of materialistic philosophers agree that all that exists was evolved from ether; hence, air, water, earth, and fire, the four primordial elements must also proceed from ether and chaos the first Duad; all the imponderables, whether now known or unknown, proceed from the same source. Now, if there is a spiritual essence in matter, and that essence forces it to shape itself into millions of individual forms, why is it illogical to assert that each of these spiritual kingdoms in nature is peopled with beings evolved out of its own material? Chemistry teaches us that in man's body there are air, water, earth, and heat, or fire — air is present in its components; water in the secretions; earth in the inorganic constituents; and fire in the animal heat. The Kabalist knows by experience that an elemental spirit contains only one, and that each one of the four kingdoms has its own peculiar elemental spirits; man being higher than they, the law of evolution finds its illustration in the combination of all four in him.
that there is an invisible side to the universe, the fixed habit of nature warrants the conclusion that this half is occupied, like the other half; and that each group of its occupants is supplied with the indispensable conditions of existence. It is as illogical to imagine that identical conditions are furnished to all, as it would be to maintain such a theory respecting the inhabitants of the domain of visible nature. That there are spirits implies that there is a diversity of spirits; for men differ, and human spirits are but disembodied men.
To say that all spirits are alike, or fitted to the same atmosphere, or possessed of like powers, or governed by the same attractions — electric, magnetic, odic, astral, it matters not which — is as absurd as though one should say that all planets have the same nature, or that all animals are amphibious, or all men can be nourished on the same food. It accords with reason to suppose that the grossest natures among the spirits will sink to the lowest depths of the spiritual atmosphere — in other words, be found nearest to the earth. Inversely, the purest would be farthest away. In what, were we to coin a word, we should call the Psychomatics of Occultism, it is as unwarrantable to assume that either of these grades of spirits can occupy the place, or subsist in the conditions, of the other, as in hydraulics it would be to expect that two liquids of different densities could exchange their markings on the scale of Beaume's hydrometer.
Gorres, describing a conversation he had with some Hindus of the Malabar coast, reports that upon asking them whether they had ghosts among them, they replied, "Yes, but we know them to be bad spirits . . . good ones can hardly ever appear at all. They are principally the spirits of suicides and murderers, or of those who die violent deaths. They constantly flutter about and appear as phantoms. Night-time is favorable to them, they seduce the feeble-minded and tempt others in a thousand different ways."*
Porphyry presents to us some hideous facts whose verity is substantiated in the experience of every student of magic. "The soul,"** says he, "having even after death a certain affection for its body, an affinity proportioned to the violence with which their union was broken, we see many spirits hovering in despair about their earthly remains; we even see them eagerly seeking the putrid remains of other bodies, but above all freshly-spilled blood, which seems to impart to them for the moment some of the faculties of life."***
* Gorres: "Mystique," lib. iii., p. 63.
** The ancients called "the soul" the spirits of bad people; the soul was the larva and lemure. Good human spirits became gods.
*** Porphyry: "De Sacrificiis." Chapter on the true Cultus.
Let spiritualists who doubt the theurgist, try the effect of about half a pound of freshly-drawn human blood at their next materializing seance!
"The gods and the angels," says Iamblichus, "appear to us among peace and harmony; the bad demons, in tossing everything in confusion. . . . As to the ordinary souls, we can perceive them more rarely, etc."*
"The human soul (the astral body) is a demon that our language may name genius," says Apuleius.** "She is an immortal god, though in a certain sense she is born at the same time as the man in whom she is. Consequently, we may say that she dies in the same way that she is born."
"The soul is born in this world upon leaving another world (anima mundi), in which her existence precedes the one we all know (on earth). Thus, the gods who consider her proceedings in all the phases of various existences and as a whole, punish her sometimes for sins committed during an anterior life. She dies when she separates herself from a body in which she crossed this life as in a frail bark. And this is, if I mistake not, the secret meaning of the tumulary inscription, so simple for the initiate: "To the gods manes who lived." But this kind of death does not annihilate the soul, it only transforms it into a lemure. Lemures are the manes or ghosts, which we know under the name of lares. When they keep away and show us a beneficient protection, we honor in them the protecting divinities of the family hearth; but, if their crimes sentence them to err, we call them larvae. They become a plague for the wicked, and the vain terror of the good."
This language can hardly be called ambiguous, and yet, the Reincarnationists quote Apuleius in corroboration of their theory that man passes through a succession of physical human births upon this planet, until he is finally purged from the dross of his nature. But Apuleius distinctly says that we come upon this earth from another one, where we had an existence, the recollection of which has faded away. As the watch passes from hand to hand and room to room in a factory, one part being added here and another there, until the delicate machine is perfected, according to the design conceived in the mind of the master before the work was begun; so, according to ancient philosophy, the first divine conception of man takes shape little by little, in the several departments of the universal workshop, and the perfect human being finally appears on our scene.
This philosophy teaches that nature never leaves her work unfinished;
* "Mysteries of the Egyptians."
** Second century, A.D. "Du Dieu de Socrate," Apul. class., pp. 143-145.
if baffled at the first attempt, she tries again. When she evolves a human embryo, the intention is that a man shall be perfected — physically, intellectually, and spiritually. His body is to grow mature, wear out, and die; his mind unfold, ripen, and be harmoniously balanced; his divine spirit illuminate and blend easily with the inner man. No human being completes its grand cycle, or the "circle of necessity," until all these are accomplished. As the laggards in a race struggle and plod in their first quarter while the victor darts past the goal, so, in the race of immortality, some souls outspeed all the rest and reach the end, while their myriad competitors are toiling under the load of matter, close to the startingpoint. Some unfortunates fall out entirely, and lose all chance of the prize; some retrace their steps and begin again. This is what the Hindu dreads above all things — transmigration and reincarnation; only on other and inferior planets, never on this one. But there is a way to avoid it, and Buddha taught it in his doctrine of poverty, restriction of the senses, perfect indifference to the objects of this earthly vale of tears, freedom from passion, and frequent intercommunication with the Atma — soul-contemplation. The cause of reincarnation is ignorance of our senses, and the idea that there is any reality in the world, anything except abstract existence. From the organs of sense comes the "hallucination" we call contact; "from contact, desire; from desire, sensation (which also is a deception of our body); from sensation, the cleaving to existing bodies; from this cleaving, reproduction; and from reproduction, disease, decay, and death."
Thus, like the revolutions of a wheel, there is a regular succession of death and birth, the moral cause of which is the cleaving to existing objects, while the instrumental cause is karma (the power which controls the universe, prompting it to activity), merit and demerit. "It is, therefore, the great desire of all beings who would be released from the sorrows of successive birth, to seek the destruction of the moral cause, the cleaving to existing objects, or evil desire." They, in whom evil desire is entirely destroyed, are called Arhats.* Freedom from evil desire insures the possession of a miraculous power. At his death, the Arhat is never reincarnated; he invariably attains Nirvana — a word, by the bye, falsely interpreted by the Christian scholars and skeptical commentators. Nirvana is the world of cause, in which all deceptive effects or delusions of our senses disappear. Nirvana is the highest attainable sphere. The pitris (the pre-Adamic spirits) are considered as reincarnated, by the Buddhistic philosopher, though in a degree far superior to that of the man of earth. Do they not die in their turn? Do not their astral bodies
* "Eastern Monachism," p. 9.
suffer and rejoice, and feel the same curse of illusionary feelings as when embodied?
What Buddha taught in the sixth century, B.C., in India, Pythagoras taught in the fifth, in Greece and Italy. Gibbon shows how deeply the Pharisees were impressed with this belief in the transmigration of souls.* The Egyptian circle of necessity is ineffaceably stamped on the hoary monuments of old. And Jesus, when healing the sick, invariably used the following expression: "Thy sins are forgiven thee." This is a pure Buddhistical doctrine. "The Jews said to the blind man: Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? The doctrine of the disciples (of Christ) is analogous to the 'Merit and Demerit' of the Buddhists; for the sick recovered, if their sins were forgiven."** But, this former life believed in by the Buddhists, is not a life on this planet, for, more than any other people, the Buddhistical philosopher appreciated the great doctrine of cycles.
The speculations of Dupuis, Volney, and Godfrey Higgins on the secret meaning of the cycles, or the kalpas and the yugs of the Brahmans and Buddhists, amounted to little, as they did not have the key to the esoteric, spiritual doctrine therein contained. No philosophy ever speculated on God as an abstraction, but considered Him under His various manifestations. The "First Cause" of the Hebrew Bible, the Pythagorean "Monad," the "One Existence" of the Hindu philosopher, and the kabalistic "En-Soph" — the Boundless — are identical. The Hindu Bhagavant does not create; he enters the egg of the world, and emanates from it as Brahm, in the same manner as the Pythagorean Duad evolves from the highest and solitary Monas.*** The Monas of the Samian philo-
* "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," iv. 385.
** Hardy: "Manual of Buddhism"; Dunlap: "The World's Religions."
*** Lempriere ("Classical Dictionary," art. "Pythagoras") says that "there is great reason to suspect the truth of the whole narrative of Pythagoras' journey into India," and concludes by saying that this philosopher had never seen either Gymnosophists or their country. If this be so, how account for the doctrine of the metempsychosis of Pythagoras, which is far more that of the Hindu in its details than the Egyptian? But, above all, how account for the fact that the name MONAS, applied by him to the First Cause, is the identical appellation given to that Being in the Sanscrit tongue? In 1792-7, when Lempriere's "Dictionary" appeared, the Sanscrit was, we may say, utterly unknown; Dr. Haug's translation of the "Aitareya Brahmana" ("Rig-Vedas"), in which this word occurs, was published only about twenty years ago, and until that valuable addition to the literature of archaic ages was completed, and the precise age of the "Aitareya" — now fixed by Haug at 2000-2400 B.C. — was a mystery, it might be suggested, as in the case of Christian symbols, that the Hindus borrowed it from Pythagoras. But now, unless philology can show it to be a "coincidence," and that the word Monas is not the same in its minutest definitions, we have a right to assert that Pythagoras was in India, and that it was the Gymnosophists who instructed him [[Footnote continued on next page]]
sopher is the Hindu Monas (mind), "who has no first cause (apurva, or material cause), nor is liable to destruction."* Brahma, as Prajapati, manifests himself first of all as "twelve bodies," or attributes, which are represented by the twelve gods, symbolizing 1, Fire; 2, the Sun; 3, Soma, which gives omniscience; 4, all living Beings; 5, Vayu, or material Ether; 6, Death, or breath of destruction — Siva; 7, Earth; 8, Heaven; 9, Agni, the Immaterial Fire; 10, Aditya, the immaterial and female invisible Sun; 11, Mind; 12, the great Infinite Cycle, "which is not to be stopped."** After that, Brahma dissolves himself into the Visible Universe, every atom of which is himself. When this is done, the not-manifested, indivisible, and indefinite Monas retires into the undisturbed and majestic solitude of its unity. The manifested deity, a duad at first, now becomes a triad; its triune quality emanates incessantly spiritual powers, who become immortal gods (souls). Each of these souls must be united in its turn with a human being, and from the moment of its consciousness it commences a series of births and deaths. An Eastern artist has attempted to give pictorial expression to the kabalistic doctrine of the cycles. The picture covers a whole inner wall of a subterranean temple in the neighborhood of a great Buddhistic pagoda, and is strikingly suggestive. Let us attempt to convey some idea of the design, as we recall it.
Imagine a given point in space as the primordial one; then with compasses draw a circle around this point; where the beginning and the end unite together, emanation and reabsorption meet. The circle itself is composed of innumerable smaller circles, like the rings of a bracelet, and each of these minor rings forms the belt of the goddess which represents that sphere. As the curve of the arc approaches the ultimate point of the semi-circle — the nadir of the grand cycle — at which is placed our planet by the mystical painter, the face of each successive goddess becomes more dark and hideous than European imagination is able to conceive. Every belt is covered with the representations of plants, animals, and human beings, belonging to the fauna, flora, and anthropology of that particular sphere. There is a certain distance between each of the spheres, purposely marked; for, after the accomplishment of the circles through
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] in his metaphysical theology. The fact alone that "Sanscrit, as compared with Greek and Latin, is an elder sister," as Max Muller shows, is not sufficient to account for the perfect identity of the Sanscrit and Greek words MONAS, in their most metaphysical, abstruse sense. The Sanscrit word Deva (god) has become the Latin deus, and points to a common source; but we see in the Zoroastrian "Zend-Avesta" the same word, meaning diametrically the opposite, and becoming daeva, or evil spirit, from which comes the word devil.
* Haug: "Aitareya Brahmanam."
various transmigrations, the soul is allowed a time of temporary nirvana, during which space of time the atma loses all remembrance of past sorrows. The intermediate ethereal space is filled with strange beings. Those between the highest ether and the earth below are the creatures of a "middle nature"; nature-spirits, or, as the kabalists term it sometimes, the elementary.
This picture is either a copy of the one described to posterity by Berosus, the priest of the temple of Belus, at Babylon, or the original. We leave it to the shrewdness of the modern archaeologist to decide. But the wall is covered with precisely such creatures as described by the semi-demon, or half-god, Oannes, the Chaldean man-fish,* " . . . hideous beings, which were produced of a two-fold principle" — the astral light and the grosser matter.
Even remains of architectural relics of the earliest races have been sadly neglected by antiquarians, until now. The caverns of Ajunta, which are but 200 miles from Bombay, in the Chandor range, and the ruins of the ancient city of Aurungabad, whose crumbling palaces and curious tombs have lain in desolate solitude for many centuries, have attracted attention but very recently. Mementos of long by-gone civilization, they were allowed to become the shelter of wild beasts for ages before they were found worthy of a scientific exploration, and it is only recently that the Observer gave an enthusiastic description of these archaic ancestors of Herculaneum and Pompeii. After justly blaming the local government which "has provided a bungalow where the traveller may find shelter and safety, but that is all," it proceeds to narrate the wonders to be seen in this retired spot, in the following words:
"In a deep glen away up the mountain there is a group of cave-temples which are the most wonderful caverns on the earth. It is not known at the present age how many of these exist in the deep recesses of the mountains; but twenty-seven have been explored, surveyed, and, to some extent, cleared of rubbish. There are, doubtless, many others. It is hard to realize with what indefatigable toil these wonderful caves have been hewn from the solid rock of amygdaloid. They are said to have been wholly Buddhist in their origin, and were used for purposes of worship and asceticism. They rank very high as works of art. They extend over 500 feet along a high cliff, and are carved in the most curious manner, exhibiting, in a wonderful degree, the taste, talent, and persevering industry of the Hindu sculptors.
* Berosus: fragment preserved by Alex. Polyhistor; Cory: "Of the Cosmogony and the Deluge."
"These cave-temples are beautifully cut and carved on the outside; but inside they were finished most elaborately, and decorated with a vast profusion of sculptures and paintings. These long-deserted temples have suffered from dampness and neglect, and the paintings and frescos are not what they were hundreds of years ago. But the colors are still brilliant, and scenes gay and festive still appear upon the walls. Some of the figures cut in the rock are taken for marriage-processions and scenes in domestic life that are represented as joyful. The female figures are beautiful, delicate, and fair as Europeans. Every one of these representations is artistic, and all of them are unpolluted by any grossness or obscenity generally so prominent in Brahmanical representations of a similar character.
"These caves are visited by a great number of antiquarians, who are striving to decipher the hieroglyphics inscribed on the walls and determine the age of these curious temples.
"The ruins of the ancient city of Aurungabad are not very far from these caves. It was a walled city of great repute, but is now deserted. There are not only broken walls, but crumbling palaces. They were built of immense strength, and some of the walls appear as solid as the everlasting hills.
"There are a great many places in this vicinity where there are Hindu remains, consisting of deep caves and rock-cut temples. Many of these temples are surrounded by a circular enclosure, which is often adorned with statues and columns. The figure of an elephant is very common, placed before or beside the opening of a temple, as a sort of sentinel. Hundreds and thousands of niches are beautifully cut in the solid rock, and when these temples were thronged with worshippers, each niche had a statue or image, usually in the florid style of these Oriental sculptures. It is a sad truth that almost every image here is shamefully defaced and mutilated. It is often said that no Hindu will bow down to an imperfect image, and that the Mahometans, knowing this, purposely mutilated all these images to prevent the Hindus from worshipping them. This is regarded by the Hindus as sacrilegious and blasphemous, awakening the keenest animosities, which every Hindu inherits from his father, and which centuries have not been able to efface.
"Here also are the remains of buried cities — sad ruins — generally without a single inhabitant. In the grand palaces where royalty once gathered and held festivals, wild beasts find their hiding-places. In several places the track of the railway has been constructed over or through these ruins, and the material has been used for the bed of the road. . . . Enormous stones have remained in their places for thousands of years, and probably will for thousands of years to come. These rock-
cut temples, as well as these mutilated statues, show a workmanship that no work now being done by the natives can equal.* It is very evident that hundreds of years since these hills were alive with a vast multitude, where now it is all utter desolation, without cultivation or inhabitants, and given over to wild beasts.
"It is good hunting ground, and, as the English are mighty hunters, they may prefer to have these mountains and ruins remain without change."
We fervently hope they will. Enough vandalism was perpetrated in earlier ages to permit us the hope that at least in this century of exploration and learning, science, in its branches of archaeology and philology, will not be deprived of these most precious records, wrought on imperishable tablets of granite and rock.
We will now present a few fragments of this mysterious doctrine of reincarnation — as distinct from metempsychosis — which we have from an authority. Reincarnation, i.e., the appearance of the same individual, or rather of his astral monad, twice on the same planet, is not a rule in nature; it is an exception, like the teratological phenomenon of a two-headed infant. It is preceded by a violation of the laws of harmony of nature, and happens only when the latter, seeking to restore its disturbed equilibrium, violently throws back into earth-life the astral monad which had been tossed out of the circle of necessity by crime or accident. Thus, in cases of abortion, of infants dying before a certain age, and of congenital and incurable idiocy, nature's original design to produce a perfect human being, has been interrupted. Therefore, while the gross matter of each of these several entities is suffered to disperse itself at death, through the vast realm of being, the immortal spirit and astral monad of the individual — the latter having been set apart to animate a frame and the former to shed its divine light on the corporeal organization — must try a second time to carry out the purpose of the creative intelligence.
If reason has been so far developed as to become active and discriminative, there is no reincarnation on this earth, for the three parts of the triune man have been united together, and he is capable of running the race. But when the new being has not passed beyond the condition of monad, or when, as in the idiot, the trinity has not been completed, the immortal spark which illuminates it, has to reenter on the earthly plane as it was frustrated in its first attempt. Otherwise, the mortal or astral,
* Some writer has employed a most felicitous expression in describing the majesty of the Hindu archaic monuments, and the exquisite finish of their sculpture. "They built," says he, "like giants, and finished like jewelers."
and the immortal or divine, souls, could not progress in unison and pass onward to the sphere above. Spirit follows a line parallel with that of matter; and the spiritual evolution goes hand in hand with the physical. As in the case exemplified by Professor Le Conte (vide chap. ix.), "there is no force in nature" — and the rule applies to the spiritual as well as to the physical evolution — "which is capable of raising at once spirit or matter from No. 1 to No. 3, or from 2 to 4, without stopping and receiving an accession of force of a different kind on the intermediate plane." That is to say, the monad which was imprisoned in the elementary being — the rudimentary or lowest astral form of the future man — after having passed through and quitted the highest physical shape of a dumb animal — say an orang-outang, or again an elephant, one of the most intellectual of brutes — that monad, we say, cannot skip over the physical and intellectual sphere of the terrestrial man, and be suddenly ushered into the spiritual sphere above. What reward or punishment can there be in that sphere of disembodied human entities for a foetus or a human embryo which had not even time to breathe on this earth, still less an opportunity to exercise the divine faculties of the spirit? Or, for an irresponsible infant, whose senseless monad remaining dormant within the astral and physical casket, could as little prevent him from burning himself as another person to death? Or for one idiotic from birth, the number of whose cerebral circumvolutions is only from twenty to thirty per cent of those of sane persons;* and who therefore is irresponsible for either his disposition, acts, or the imperfections of his vagrant, half-developed intellect?
No need to remark that if even hypothetical, this theory is no more ridiculous than many others considered as strictly orthodox. We must not forget that either through the inaptness of the specialists or some other reason, physiology itself is the least advanced or understood of sciences, and that some French physicians, with Dr. Fournie, positively despair of ever progressing in it beyond pure hypotheses.
Further, the same occult doctrine recognizes another possibility; albeit so rare and so vague that it is really useless to mention it. Even the modern Occidental occultists deny it, though it is universally accepted in Eastern countries. When, through vice, fearful crimes and animal passions, a disembodied spirit has fallen to the eighth sphere — the allegorical Hades, and the gehenna of the Bible — the nearest to our earth — he can, with the help of that glimpse of reason and consciousness left to him, repent; that is to say, he can, by exercising the remnants of his will-power, strive upward, and like a drowning man, struggle once more to the sur-
* "Anatomie Cerebrale," Malacarne, Milan.
face. In the Magical and Philosophical Precepts of Psellus, we find one which, warning mankind, says:
"Stoop not down, for a precipice lies below the earth,
Drawing under a descent of SEVEN steps, beneath which
Is the throne of dire necessity."*
A strong aspiration to retrieve his calamities, a pronounced desire, will draw him once more into the earth's atmosphere. Here he will wander and suffer more or less in dreary solitude. His instincts will make him seek with avidity contact with living persons. . . . These spirits are the invisible but too tangible magnetic vampires; the subjective daemons so well known to mediaeval ecstatics, nuns, and monks, to the "witches" made so famous in the Witch-Hammer; and to certain sensitive clairvoyants, according to their own confessions. They are the blood-daemons of Porphyry, the larvae and lemures of the ancients; the fiendish instruments which sent so many unfortunate and weak victims to the rack and stake. Origen held all the daemons which possessed the demoniacs mentioned in the New Testament to be human "spirits." It is because Moses knew so well what they were, and how terrible were the consequences to weak persons who yielded to their influence, that he enacted the cruel, murderous law against such would-be "witches"; but Jesus, full of justice and divine love to humanity, healed instead of killing them. Subsequently our clergy, the pretended exemplars of Christian principles, followed the law of Moses, and quietly ignored the law of Him whom they call their "one living God," by burning dozens of thousands of such pretended "witches."
Witch! mighty name, which in the past contained the promise of ignominious death; and in the present has but to be pronounced to raise a whirlwind of ridicule, a tornado of sarcasms! How is it then that there have always been men of intellect and learning, who never thought that it would disgrace their reputation for learning, or lower their dignity, to publicly affirm the possibility of such a thing as a "witch," in the correct acceptation of the word. One such fearless champion was Henry More, the learned scholar of Cambridge, of the seventeenth century. It is well worth our while to see how cleverly he handled the question.
It appears that about the year 1678, a certain divine, named John Webster, wrote Criticisms and Interpretations of Scripture, against the existence of witches, and other "superstitions." Finding the work "a weak and impertinent piece," Dr. More criticised it in a letter to Glanvil, the author of Sadducismus Triumphatus, and as an appendix sent a
* Psellus, 6, Plet. 2; Cory: "Chaldean Oracles."
treatise on witchcraft and explanations of the word witch, itself. This document is very rare, but we possess it in a fragmentary form in an old manuscript, having seen it mentioned besides only in an insignificant work of 1820, on Apparitions, for it appears that the document itself was long since out of print.
The words witch and wizard, according to Dr. More, signify no more than a wise man or a wise woman. In the word wizard, it is plain at the very sight; and "the most plain and least operose deduction of the name witch, is from wit, whose derived adjective might be wittigh or wittich, and by contraction, afterwards witch; as the noun wit is from the verb to weet, which is, to know. So that a witch, thus far, is no more than a knowing woman; which answers exactly to the Latin word saga, according to that of Festus, sagae dictae anus quae multa sciunt."
This definition of the word appears to us the more plausible, as it exactly answers the evident meaning of the Slavonian-Russian names for witches and wizards. The former is called vyedma, and the latter vyedmak, both from the verb to know, vedat or vyedat; the root, moreover, being positively Sanscrit. "Veda," says Max Muller, in his Lecture on the Vedas, "means originally knowing, or knowledge. Veda is the same word which appears in Greek [[oida]], I know [the digamma, vau being omitted], and in the English wise, wisdom, to wit."* Furthermore, the Sanscrit word vidma, answering to the German wir wissen, means literally "we know." It is a great pity that the eminent philologist, while giving in his lecture the Sanscrit, Greek, Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, and German comparative roots of this word, has neglected the Slavonian.
Another Russian appellation for witch and wizard, the former being purely Slavonian, is znahar and znaharka (feminine) from the same verb znat to know. Thus Dr. More's definition of the word, given in 1678, is perfectly correct, and coincides in every particular with modern philology.
"Use," says this scholar, "questionless had appropriated the word to such a kind of skill and knowledge as was out of the common road or extraordinary. Nor did this peculiarity imply any unlawfulness. But there was after a further restriction, in which alone now-a-days the words witch and wizard are used. And that is, for one that has the knowledge and skill of doing or telling things in an extraordinary way, and that in virtue of either an express or implicit sociation or confederacy with some bad spirits." In the clause of the severe law of Moses, so many names are reckoned up with that of witch, that it is difficult as well as useless to give here the definition of every one of them as found in Dr.
* See "Lecture on the Vedas."
More's able treatise. "There shall not be found among you any one that useth divination, or an observer of time, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer," says the text. We will show, further on, the real object of such severity. For the present, we will remark that Dr. More, after giving a learned definition of every one of such appellations, and showing the value of their real meaning in the days of Moses, proves that there is a vast difference between the "enchanters," "observers of time," etc., and a witch. "So many names are reckoned up in this prohibition of Moses, that, as in our common law, the sense may be more sure, and leave no room to evasion. And that the name of 'witch' is not from any tricks of legerdemain as in common jugglers, that delude the sight of the people at a market or fair, but that it is the name of such as raise magical spectres to deceive men's sight, and so are most certainly witches — women and men who have a bad spirit in them. 'Thou shalt not suffer' mecassephah, that is, 'a witch, to live.' Which would be a law of extreme severity, or rather cruelty, against a poor hocus-pocus for his tricks of legerdemain."
Thus, it is but the sixth appellation, that of a consulter with familiar spirits or a witch, that had to incur the greatest penalty of the law of Moses, for it is only a witch which must not be suffered to live, while all the others are simply enumerated as such with whom the people of Israel were forbidden to communicate on account of their idolatry or rather religious views and learning chiefly. This sixth word is , shoel aub, which our English translation renders, "a consulter with familiar spirits"; but which the Septuagint translates, [[engastrimuthos]], one that has a familiar spirit inside him, one possessed with the spirit of divination, which was considered to be Python by the Greeks, and obh by the Hebrews, the old serpent; in its esoteric meaning the spirit of concupiscence and matter; which, according to the kabalists, is always an elementary human spirit of the eighth sphere.
"Shoel obh, I conceive," says Henry More, "is to be understood of the witch herself who asks counsel of her or his familiar. The reason of the name obh, was taken first from that spirit that was in the body of the party, and swelled it to a protuberancy, the voice always seeming to come out as from a bottle, for which reason they were named ventriloquists. Ob signifies as much as Pytho, which at first took its name from the pythii vates, a spirit that tells hidden things, or things to come. In Acts xvi. 16, [[pneuma puthonos]], when "Paul being grieved, turned and said to that spirit, I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her, and he came out at the same hour." Therefore, the words obsessed or possessed are synonyms of the word witch; nor could this
pytho of the eighth sphere come out of her, unless it was a spirit distinct from her. And so it is that we see in Leviticus xx. 27: "A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard (an irresponsible jidegnoni) shall surely be put to death, they shall stone them with stones, their blood shall be upon them."
A cruel and unjust law beyond doubt, and one which gives the lie to a recent utterance of "Spirits," by the mouth of one of the most popular inspirational mediums of the day, to the effect that modern philological research proves that the Mosaic law never contemplated the killing of the poor "mediums" or witches of the Old Testament, but that the words, "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," meant to live by their mediumship, that is, to gain their livelihood! An interpretation no less ingenious than novel. Certainly, nowhere short of the source of such inspiration could we find such philological profundity!*
"Shut the door in the face of the daemon," says the Kabala, "and he will keep running away from you, as if you pursued him," which means, that you must not give a hold on you to such spirits of obsession by attracting them into an atmosphere of congenial sin.
These daemons seek to introduce themselves into the bodies of the simple-minded and idiots, and remain there until dislodged therefrom by a powerful and pure will. Jesus, Apollonius, and some of the apostles, had the power to cast out devils, by purifying the atmosphere within and without the patient, so as to force the unwelcome tenant to flight. Certain volatile salts are particularly obnoxious to them; and the effect of the chemicals used in a saucer, and placed under the bed by Mr. Varley, of London,** for the purpose of keeping away some disagreeable
* In order to avoid being contradicted by some spiritualists we give verbatim the language in question, as a specimen of the unreliability of the oracular utterances of certain "spirits." Let them be human or elemental, but spirits capable of such effrontery may well be regarded by occultists as anything but safe guides in philosophy, exact science, or ethics. "It will be remembered," says Mrs. Cora V. Tappan, in a public discourse upon the "History of Occultism and its Relations to Spiritualism" (see "Banner of Light," Aug. 26, 1876), "that the ancient word witchcraft, or the exercise of it, was forbidden among the Hebrews. The translation is that no witch should be allowed to live. That has been supposed to be the literal interpretation; and acting upon that, your very pious and devout ancestors put to death, without adequate testimony, numbers of very intelligent, wise, and sincere persons, under the condemnation of witchcraft. It has now turned out that the interpretation or translation should be, that no witches should be allowed to obtain a living by the practice of their art. That is, it should not be made a profession." May we be so bold as to inquire of the celebrated speaker, through whom or according to what authority such a thing has ever turned out?
** Mr. Cromwell F. Varley, the well-known electrician of the Atlantic Cable Company, communicates the result of his observations, in the course of a debate at the [[Footnote continued on next page]]
physical phenomena at night, are corroborative of this great truth. Pure or even simply inoffensive human spirits fear nothing, for having rid themselves of terrestrial matter, terrestrial compounds can affect them in no wise; such spirits are like a breath. Not so with the earth-bound souls and the nature-spirits.
It is for these carnal terrestrial larvae, degraded human spirits, that the ancient kabalists entertained a hope of reincarnation. But when, or how? At a fitting moment, and if helped by a sincere desire for his amendment and repentance by some strong, sympathizing person, or the will of an adept, or even a desire emanating from the erring spirit himself, provided it is powerful enough to make him throw off the burden of sinful matter. Losing all consciousness, the once bright monad is caught once more into the vortex of our terrestrial evolution, and it repasses the subordinate kingdoms, and again breathes as a living child. To compute the time necessary for the completion of this process would be impossible. Since there is no perception of time in eternity, the attempt would be a mere waste of labor.
As we have said, but few kabalists believe in it, and this doctrine originated with certain astrologers. While casting up the nativities of certain historical personages renowned for some peculiarities of disposition, they found the conjunction of the planets answering perfectly to remarkable oracles and prophesies about other persons born ages later. Observation, and what would now be termed "remarkable coincidences," added to revelation during the "sacred sleep" of the neophyte, disclosed the dreadful truth. So horrible is the thought that even those who ought to be convinced of it prefer ignoring it, or at least avoid speaking on the subject.
This way of obtaining oracles was practiced in the highest antiquity. In India, this sublime lethargy is called "the sacred sleep of * * *" It is an oblivion into which the subject is thrown by certain magical processes, supplemented by draughts of the juice of the soma. The body of the sleeper remains for several days in a condition resembling death, and by the power of the adept is purified of its earthliness and made fit
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] Psychological Society of Great Britain, which is reported in the "Spiritualist" (London, April 14, 1876, pp. 174, 175). He thought that the effect of free nitric acid in the atmosphere was able to drive away what he calls "unpleasant spirits." He thought that those who were troubled by unpleasant spirits at home, would find relief by pouring one ounce of vitriol upon two ounces of finely-powdered nitre in a saucer and putting the mixture under the bed. Here is a scientist, whose reputation extends over two continents, who gives a recipe to drive away bad spirits. And yet the general public mocks as a "superstition" the herbs and incenses employed by Hindus, Chinese, Africans, and other races to accomplish the self-same purpose.
to become the temporary receptacle of the brightness of the immortal Augoeides. In this state the torpid body is made to reflect the glory of the upper spheres, as a burnished mirror does the rays of the sun. The sleeper takes no note of the lapse of time, but upon awakening, after four or five days of trance, imagines he has slept but a few moments. What his lips utter he will never know; but as it is the spirit which directs them they can pronounce nothing but divine truth. For the time being the poor helpless clod is made the shrine of the sacred presence, and converted into an oracle a thousand times more infallible than the asphyxiated Pythoness of Delphi; and, unlike her mantic frenzy, which was exhibited before the multitude, this holy sleep is witnessed only within the sacred precinct by those few of the adepts who are worthy to stand in the presence of the ADONAI.
The description which Isaiah gives of the purification necessary for a prophet to undergo before he is worthy to be the mouthpiece of heaven, applies to the case in point. In customary metaphor he says: "Then flew one of the seraphim unto me having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar . . . and he laid it upon my mouth and said, Lo! this hath touched thy lips and thine iniquity is taken away."
The invocation of his own Augoeides, by the purified adept, is described in words of unparalleled beauty by Bulwer-Lytton in Zanoni, and there he gives us to understand that the slightest touch of mortal passion unfits the hierophant to hold communion with his spotless soul. Not only are there few who can successfully perform the ceremony, but even these rarely resort to it except for the instruction of some neophytes, and to obtain knowledge of the most solemn importance.
And yet how little is the knowledge treasured up by these hierophants understood or appreciated by the general public! "There is another collection of writings and traditions bearing the title of Kabala, attributed to Oriental scholars," says the author of Art-Magic; "but as this remarkable work is of little or no value without a key, which can only be furnished by Oriental fraternities, its transcript would be of no value to the general reader."* And how they are ridiculed by every Houndsditch commercial traveller who wanders through India in pursuit of "orders" and writes to the Times, and misrepresented by every nimble-fingered trickster who pretends to show by legerdemain, to the gaping crowd, the feats of true Oriental magicians!
But, notwithstanding his unfairness in the Algerian affair, Robert Houdin, an authority on the art of prestidigitation, and Moreau-Cinti,
* "Art-Magic," p. 97.
another, gave honest testimony in behalf of the French mediums. They both testified, when cross-examined by the Academicians, that none but the "mediums" could possibly produce the phenomena of table-rapping and levitation without a suitable preparation and furniture adapted for the purpose. They also showed that the so-called "levitations without contact" were feats utterly beyond the power of the professional juggler; that for them, such levitations, unless produced in a room supplied with secret machinery and concave mirrors, was impossible. They added moreover, that the simple apparition of a diaphanous hand, in a place in which confederacy would be rendered impossible, the medium having been previously searched, would be a demonstration that it was the work of no human agency, whatever else that agency might be. The Siecle, and other Parisian newspapers immediately published their suspicions that these two professional and very clever gentlemen had become the confederates of the spiritists!
Professor Pepper, director of the Polytechnic Institute of London, invented a clever apparatus to produce spiritual appearances on the stage, and sold his patent in 1863, in Paris, for the sum of 20,000 francs. The phantoms looked real and were evanescent, being but an effect produced by the reflection of a highly-illuminated object upon the surface of plateglass. They seemed to appear and disappear, to walk about the stage and play their parts to perfection. Sometimes one of the phantoms placed himself on a bench; after which, one of the living actors would begin quarrelling with him, and, seizing a heavy hatchet, would part the head and body of the ghost in two. But, joining his two parts again, the spectre would reappear, a few steps off, to the amazement of the public. The contrivance worked marvellously well, and nightly attracted large crowds. But to produce these ghosts required a stage-apparatus, and more than one confederate. There were nevertheless some reporters who made this exhibition the pretext for ridiculing the spiritists — as though the two classes of phenomena had the slightest connection!
What the Pepper ghosts pretended to do, genuine disembodied human spirits, when their reflection is materialized by the elementals, can actually perform. They will permit themselves to be perforated with bullets or the sword, or to be dismembered, and then instantly form themselves anew. But the case is different with both cosmic and human elementary spirits, for a sword or dagger, or even a pointed stick, will cause them to vanish in terror. This will seem unaccountable to those who do not understand of what a material substance the elementary are composed; but the kabalists understand perfectly. The records of antiquity and of the middle ages, to say nothing of the modern wonders at Cideville, which have been judicially attested for us, corroborate these facts.
Skeptics, and even skeptical spiritualists, have often unjustly accused mediums of fraud, when denied what they considered their inalienable right to test the spirits. But where there is one such case, there are fifty in which spiritualists have permitted themselves to be practiced upon by tricksters, while they neglected to appreciate genuine manifestations procured for them by their mediums. Ignorant of the laws of mediumship, such do not know that when an honest medium is once taken possession of by spirits, whether disembodied or elemental, he is no longer his own master. He cannot control the actions of the spirits, nor even his own. They make him a puppet to dance at their pleasure while they pull the wires behind the scenes. The false medium may seem entranced, and yet be playing tricks all the while; while the real medium may appear to be in full possession of his senses, when in fact he is far away, and his body is animated by his "Indian guide," or "control." Or, he may be entranced in his cabinet, while his astral body (double) or doppelganger, is walking about the room moved by another intelligence.
Among all the phenomena, that of re-percussion, closely allied with those of bi-location and aerial "travelling," is the most astounding. In the middle ages it was included under the head of sorcery. De Gasparin, in his refutations of the miraculous character of the marvels of Cideville, treats of the subject at length; but these pretended explanations were all in their turn exploded by de Mirville and des Mousseaux, who, while failing in their attempt to trace the phenomena back to the Devil, did, nevertheless, prove their spiritual origin.
"The prodigy of re-percussion," says des Mousseaux, "occurs when a blow aimed at the spirit, visible or otherwise, of an absent living person, or at the phantom which represents him, strikes this person himself, at the same time, and in the very place at which the spectre or his double is touched! We must suppose, therefore, that the blow is re-percussed, and that it reaches, as if rebounding, from the image of the living person — his phantasmal* duplicate — the original, wherever he may be, in flesh and blood.
"Thus, for instance, an individual appears before me, or, remaining invisible, declares war, threatens, and causes me to be threatened with obsession. I strike at the place where I perceive his phantom, where I hear him moving, where I feel somebody, something which molests and resists me. I strike; the blood will appear sometimes on this place, and occasionally a scream may be heard; he is wounded — perhaps, dead! It is done, and I have explained the fact."**
* This phantom is called Scin Lecca. See Bulwer-Lytton's "Strange Story."
** In the Strasbourg edition of his works (1603), Paracelsus writes of the wonderful [[Footnote continued on next page]]
"Notwithstanding that, at the moment I struck him, his presence in another place is authentically proved; . . . I saw — yes, I saw plainly the phantom hurt upon the cheek or shoulder, and this same wound is found precisely on the living person, re-percussed upon his cheek or shoulder. Thus, it becomes evident that the facts of re-percussion have an intimate connection with those of bi-location or duplication, either spiritual or corporeal."
The history of the Salem witchcraft, as we find it recorded in the works of Cotton Mather, Calef, Upham, and others, furnishes a curious corroboration of the fact of the double, as it also does of the effects of allowing elementary spirits to have their own way. This tragical chapter of American history has never yet been written in accordance with the truth. A party of four or five young girls had become "developed" as mediums, by sitting with a West Indian negro woman, a practitioner of Obeah. They began to suffer all kinds of physical torture, such as pinching, having pins stuck in them, and the marks of bruises and teeth on different parts of their bodies. They would declare that they were hurt by the spectres of various persons, and we learn from the celebrated Narrative of Deodat Lawson (London, 1704), that "some of them confessed that they did afflict the sufferers (i.e., these young girls), according to the time and manner they were accused thereof; and, being asked what they did to afflict them, some said that they pricked pins into poppets, made with rags, wax, and other materials. One that confessed after the signing of her death-warrant, said she used to afflict them by clutching and pinching her hands together, and wishing in what part and after what manner she would have them afflicted, and it was done."
Mr. Upham tells us that Abigail Hobbs, one of these girls, acknowledged that she had confederated with the Devil, who "came to her in the shape of a man," and commanded her to afflict the girls, bringing images made of wood in their likeness, with thorns for her to prick into the images, which she did; whereupon, the girls cried out that they were hurt by her."
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] magical power of man's spirit. "It is possible," he says, "that my spirit, without the help of the body, and through a fiery will alone, and without a sword, can stab and wound others. It is also possible that I can bring the spirit of my adversary into an image, and then double him up and lame him . . . the exertion of will is a great point in medicine. . . . Every imagination of man comes through the heart, for this is the sun of the microcosm, and out of the microcosm proceeds the imagination into the great world (universal ether) . . . the imagination of man is a seed which is material." (Our atomical modern scientists have proved it; see Babbage and Professor Jevons.) "Fixed thought is also a means to an end. The magical is a great concealed wisdom, and reason is a great public foolishness. No armor protects against magic, for it injures the inward spirit of life."
* "Salem Witchcraft; With an Account of Salem Village," by C. W. Upham.
How perfectly these facts, the validity of which was proven by unimpeachable testimony in court, go to corroborate the doctrine of Paracelsus. It is surpassingly strange that so ripe a scholar as Mr. Upham should have accumulated into the 1,000 pages of his two volumes such a mass of legal evidence, going to show the agency of earth-bound souls and tricksy nature-spirits in these tragedies, without suspecting the truth.
Ages ago, the old Ennius was made by Lucretius to say:
"Bis duo sunt homines, manes, caro, spiritus umbra;
Quatuor ista loci bis duo suscipirent;
Terra tegit carnem; — tumulum circumvolat umbra,
Orcus habet manes."
In this present case, as in every similar one, the scientists, being unable to explain the fact, assert that it cannot exist.
But we will now give a few historical instances going to show that some daimons, or elementary spirits, are afraid of sword, knife, or any thing sharp. We do not pretend to explain the reason. That is the province of physiology and psychology. Unfortunately, physiologists have not yet been able to even establish the relations between speech and thought, and so, have handed it over to the metaphysicians, who, in their turn, according to Fournie, have done nothing. Done nothing, we say, but claimed everything. No fact could be presented to some of them, that was too large for these learned gentlemen to at least try to stuff into their pigeon-holes, labelled with some fancy Greek name, expressive of everything else but the true nature of the phenomenon.
"Alas, alas! my son!" exclaims the wise Muphti, of Aleppo, to his son Ibrahim, who choked himself with the head of a huge fish. "When will you realize that your stomach is smaller than the ocean?" Or, as Mrs. Catherine Crowe remarks in her Night-Side of Nature, when will our scientists admit that "their intellects are no measure of God Almighty's designs?"
We will not ask which of the ancient writers mention facts of seemingly-supernatural nature; but rather which of them does not? In Homer, we find Ulysses evoking the spirit of his friend, the soothsayer Tiresias. Preparing for the ceremony of the "festival of blood," Ulysses draws his sword, and thus frightens away the thousands of phantoms attracted by the sacrifice. The friend himself, the so-long-expected Tiresias, dares not approach him so long as Ulysses holds the dreaded weapon in his hand.* AEneas prepares to descend to the kingdom of the shadows, and as soon as they approach its entrance, the Sibyl who
* "Odyssey," A. 82.
guides him utters her warning to the Trojan hero, and orders him to draw his sword and clear himself a passage through the dense crowd of flitting forms:
"Tuque invade viam, vaginaque eripe ferrum."*
Glanvil gives a wonderful narrative of the apparition of the "Drummer of Tedworth," which happened in 1661; in which the scin-lecca, or double, of the drummer-sorcerer was evidently very much afraid of the sword. Psellus, in his work,** gives a long story of his sister-in-law being thrown into a most fearful state by an elementary daimon taking possession of her. She was finally cured by a conjurer, a foreigner named Anaphalangis, who began by threatening the invisible occupant of her body with a naked sword, until he finally dislodged him. Psellus introduces a whole catechism of demonology, which he gives in the following terms, as far as we remember:
"You want to know," asked the conjurer, "whether the bodies of the spirits can be hurt by sword or any other weapon?*** Yes, they can. Any hard substance striking them can make them sensible to pain; and though their bodies be made neither of solid nor firm substance, they feel it the same, for in beings endowed with sensibility it is not their nerves only which possess the faculty of feeling, but likewise also the spirit which resides in them . . . the body of a spirit can be sensible in its whole, as well as in each one of its parts. Without the help of any physical organism the spirit sees, hears, and if you touch him feels your touch. If you divide him in two, he will feel the pain as would any living man, for he is matter still, though so refined as to be generally invisible to our eye. . . . One thing, however, distinguishes him from the living man, viz.: that when a man's limbs are once divided, their parts cannot be reunited very easily. But, cut a demon in two, and you will see him immediately join himself together. As water or air closes in behind a solid body**** passing through it, and no trace is left, so does the body of a demon condense itself again, when the penetrative weapon is withdrawn from the wound. But every rent made in it causes him pain nevertheless. That is why daimons dread the point of a sword or any sharp weapon. Let those who want to see them flee try the experiment."
One of the most learned scholars of his century, Bodin, the Demono-
* "AEneid," book vi., 260.
** "De Daemon," cap. "Quomodo daem occupent."
*** Numquid daemonum corpora pulsari possunt? Possunt sane, atque dolere solido quodam percussa corpore.
**** Ubi secatur, mox in se iterum recreatur et coalescit . . . dictu velocius daemonicus spiritus in se revertitor.
logian, held the same opinion, that both the human and cosmical elementaries "were sorely afraid of swords and daggers." It is also the opinion of Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Plato. Plutarch mentions it several times. The practicing theurgists knew it well and acted accordingly; and many of the latter assert that "the demons suffer from any rent made in their bodies." Bodin tells us a wonderful story to this effect, in his work On the Daemons, p. 292.
"I remember," says the author, "that in 1557 an elemental demon, one of those who are called thundering, fell down with the lightning, into the house of Poudot, the shoemaker, and immediately began flinging stones all about the room. We picked up so many of them that the landlady filled a large chest full, after having securely closed the windows and doors and locked the chest itself. But it did not prevent the demon in the least from introducing other stones into the room, but without injuring any one for all that. Latomi, who was then Quarter-President,* came to see what was the matter. Immediately upon his entrance, the spirit knocked the cap off his head and made him run away. It had lasted for over six days, when M. Jean Morgnes, Counsellor at the Presidial, came to fetch me to see the mystery. When I entered the house, some one advised the master of it to pray to God with all his heart and to wheel round a sword in the air about the room; he did so. On that following day the landlady told us, that from that very moment they did not hear the least noise in the house; but that during the seven previous days that it lasted they could not get a moment's rest."
The books on the witchcraft of the middle ages are full of such narratives. The very rare and interesting work of Glanvil, called Sadducismus Triumphatus, ranks with that of Bodin, above mentioned, as one of the best. But we must give space now to certain narratives of the more ancient philosophers, who explain at the same time that they describe.
And first in rank for wonders comes Proclus. His list of facts, most of which he supports by the citation of witnesses — sometimes well-known philosophers — is staggering. He records many instances in his time of dead persons who were found to have changed their recumbent positions in the sepulchre, for one of either sitting or standing, which he attributes to their being larvae, and which he says "is related by the ancients of Aristius, Epimenides, and Hermodorus." He gives five such cases from the history of Clearchus, the disciple of Aristotle. 1. Cleonymus, the Athenian. 2. Polykritus, an illustrious man among the AEolians. It is related by the historian Nomachius, that Polykritus died, and returned in the ninth month after his death. "Hiero, the Ephesian, and other
* A magistrate of the district.
historians," says his translator, Taylor, "testify to the truth of this." 3. In Nicopolis, the same happened to one Eurinus. The latter revived on the fifteenth day after his burial, and lived for some time after that, leading an exemplary life. 4. Rufus, a priest of Thessalonica, restored to life the third day after his death, for the purpose of performing certain sacred ceremonies according to promise; he fulfilled his engagement, and died again to return no more. 5. This is the case of one Philonaea, who lived under the reign of Philip. She was the daughter of Demostratus and Charito of Amphipolos. Married against her wish to one Kroterus, she died soon after. But in the sixth month after her death, she revived, as Proclus says: "through her love of a youth named Machates, who came to her father Demostratus, from Pella." She visited him for many nights successively, but when this was finally discovered, she, or rather the vampire that represented her, died of rage. Previous to this she declared that she acted in this manner according to the will of terrestrial demons. Her dead body was seen at this second death by every one in the town, lying in her father's house. On opening the vault, where her body had been deposited, it was found empty by those of her relatives, who being incredulous upon that point, went to ascertain the truth. The narrative is corroborated by the Epistles of Hipparchus and those of Arridaeus to Philip.*
Says Proclus: "Many other of the ancients have collected a history of those that have apparently died, and afterward revived. Among these is the natural philosopher Demokritus. In his writings concerning Hades, he affirms that [in a certain case under discussion] death was not, as it seemed, an entire desertion of the whole life of the body, but a cessation caused by some blow, or perhaps a wound; but the bonds of the soul yet remained rooted about the marrow, and the heart contained in its profundity the empyreuma of life; and this remaining, it again acquired the life, which had been extinguished, in consequence of being adapted to animation."
He says again, "That it is possible for the soul to depart from and enter into the body, is evident from him, who, according to Clearchus, used a soul-attracting wand on a sleeping boy; and who persuaded Aristotle, as Clearchus relates in his Treatise on Sleep, that the soul may be separated from the body, and that it enters into a body and uses it as a lodging. For, striking the boy with the wand, he drew out, and, as it were, led his soul, for the purpose of evincing that the body was immova-
* This appalling circumstance was authenticated by the Prefect of the city, and the Proconsul of the Province laid the report before the Emperor. The story is modestly related by Mrs. Catherine Crowe (see "Night-Side of Nature," p. 335).
ble when the soul (astral body) was at a distance from it, and that it was preserved uninjured; but the soul being again led into the body by means of the wand, after its entrance, narrated every particular. From this circumstance, therefore, both the spectators and Aristotle were persuaded that the soul is separate from the body."
It may be considered quite absurd to recall so often the facts of witchcraft, in the full light of the nineteenth century. But the century itself is getting old; and as it gradually approaches the fatal end, it seems as if it were falling into dotage; not only does it refuse to recollect how abundantly the facts of witchcraft were proven, but it refuses to realize what has been going on for the last thirty years, all over the wide world. After a lapse of several thousand years we may doubt the magic powers of the Thessalonian priests and their "sorceries," as mentioned by Pliny;* we may throw discredit upon the information given us by Suidas, who narrates Medea's journey through the air, and thus forget that magic was the highest knowledge of natural philosophy; but how are we to dispose of the frequent occurrence of precisely such journeys "through the air" when they happen before our own eyes, and are corroborated by the testimony of hundreds of apparently sane persons? If the universality of a belief be a proof of its truth, few facts have been better established than that of sorcery. "Every people, from the rudest to the most refined, we may also add in every age, have believed in the kind of supernatural agency, which we understand by this term," says Thomas Wright, the author of Sorcery and Magic, and a skeptical member of the National Institute of France. "It was founded on the equally extensive creed, that, besides our own visible existence, we live in an invisible world of spiritual beings, by which our actions and even our thoughts are often guided, and which have a certain degree of power over the elements and over the ordinary course of organic life." Further, marvelling how this mysterious science flourished everywhere, and noticing several famous schools of magic in different parts of Europe, he explains the time-honored belief, and shows the difference between sorcery and magic as follows: "The magician differed from the witch in this, that, while the latter was an ignorant instrument in the hands of the demons, the former had become their master by the powerful intermediation of Science, which was only within reach of the few, and which these beings were unable to disobey."** This delineation, established and known since the days of Moses, the author gives as derived from "the most authentic sources."
* Pliny, xxx., 1.
** T. Wright, M.A., F.S.A., etc.: "Sorcery and Magic," vol. iii.
If from this unbeliever we pass to the authority of an adept in that mysterious science, the anonymous author of Art-Magic, we find him stating the following: "The reader may inquire wherein consists the difference between a medium and a magician? . . . The medium is one through whose astral spirit other spirits can manifest, making their presence known by various kinds of phenomena. Whatever these consist in, the medium is only a passive agent in their hands. He can neither command their presence, nor will their absence; can never compel the performance of any special act, nor direct its nature. The magician, on the contrary, can summon and dismiss spirits at will; can perform many feats of occult power through his own spirit; can compel the presence and assistance of spirits of lower grades of being than himself, and effect transformations in the realm of nature upon animate and inanimate bodies."*
This learned author forgot to point out a marked distinction in mediumship, with which he must have been entirely familiar. Physical phenomena are the result of the manipulation of forces through the physical system of the medium, by the unseen intelligences, of whatever class. In a word, physical mediumship depends on a peculiar organization of the physical system; spiritual mediumship, which is accompanied by a display of subjective, intellectual phenomena, depends upon a like peculiar organization of the spiritual nature of the medium. As the potter from one lump of clay fashions a vessel of dishonor, and from another a vessel of honor, so, among physical mediums, the plastic astral spirit of one may be prepared for a certain class of objective phenomena, and that of another for a different one. Once so prepared, it appears difficult to alter the phase of mediumship, as when a bar of steel is forged into a certain shape, it cannot be used for any other than its original purpose without difficulty. As a rule, mediums who have been developed for one class of phenomena rarely change to another, but repeat the same performance ad infinitum.
Psychography, or the direct writing of messages by spirits, partakes of both forms of mediumship. The writing itself is an objective physical fact, while the sentiments it contains may be of the very noblest character. The latter depend entirely on the moral state of the medium. It does not require that he should be educated, to write philosophical treatises worthy of Aristotle, nor a poet, to write verses that would reflect honor upon a Byron or a Lamartine; but it does require that the soul of the medium shall be pure enough to serve as a channel for spirits who are capable of giving utterance to such lofty sentiments.
* "Art-Magic," pp. 159, 160.
In Art-Magic, one of the most delightful pictures presented to us is that of an innocent little child-medium, in whose presence, during the past three years, four volumes of MSS., in the ancient Sanscrit, have been written by the spirits, without pens, pencils, or ink. "It is enough," says the author, "to lay the blank sheets on a tripod, carefully screened from the direct rays of light, but still dimly visible to the eyes of attentive observers. The child sits on the ground and lays her head on the tripod, embracing its supports with her little arms. In this attitude she most commonly sleeps for an hour, during which time the sheets lying on the tripod are filled up with exquisitely formed characters in the ancient Sanscrit." This is so remarkable an instance of psychographic mediumship, and so thoroughly illustrates the principle we have above stated, that we cannot refrain from quoting a few lines from one of the Sanscrit writings, the more so as it embodies that portion of the Hermetic philosophy relating to the antecedent state of man, which elsewhere we have less satisfactorily described.
"Man lives on many earths before he reaches this. Myriads of worlds swarm in space where the soul in rudimental states performs its pilgrimages, ere he reaches the large and shining planet named the Earth, the glorious function of which is to confer self-consciousness. At this point only is he man; at every other stage of his vast, wild journey he is but an embryonic being — a fleeting, temporary shape of matter — a creature in which a part, but only a part, of the high, imprisoned soul shines forth; a rudimental shape, with rudimental functions, ever living, dying, sustaining a flitting spiritual existence as rudimental as the material shape from whence it emerged; a butterfly, springing up from the chrysalitic shell, but ever, as it onward rushes, in new births, new deaths, new incarnations, anon to die and live again, but still stretch upward, still strive onward, still rush on the giddy, dreadful, toilsome, rugged path, until it awakens once more — once more to live and be a material shape, a thing of dust, a creature of flesh and blood, but now — a man."*
We witnessed once in India a trial of psychical skill between a holy gossein** and a sorcerer,*** which recurs to us in this connection. We had been discussing the relative powers of the fakir's Pitris, — pre-Adamite spirits, and the juggler's invisible allies. A trial of skill was agreed upon, and the writer was chosen as a referee. We were taking our noon-day rest, beside a small lake in Northern India. Upon the surface of the glassy water floated innumerable aquatic flowers, and large shining leaves. Each of the contestants plucked a leaf. The fakir, laying his against his breast, folded his hands across it, and fell into a mo-
* "Art-Magic," p. 28.
** Fakir, beggar.
*** A juggler so called.
mentary trance. He then laid the leaf, with its surface downward, upon the water. The juggler pretended to control the "water-master," the spirit dwelling in the water; and boasted that he would compel the power to prevent the Pitris from manifesting any phenomena upon the fakir's leaf in their element. He took his own leaf and tossed it upon the water, after going through a form of barbarous incantation. It at once exhibited a violent agitation, while the other leaf remained perfectly motionless. After the lapse of a few seconds, both leaves were recovered. Upon that of the fakir were found — much to the indignation of the juggler — something that looked like a symmetrical design traced in milk-white characters, as though the juices of the plant had been used as a corrosive writing fluid. When it became dry, and an opportunity was afforded to examine the lines with care, it proved to be a series of exquisitely-formed Sanscrit characters; the whole composed a sentence embodying a high moral precept. The fakir, let us add, could neither read nor write. Upon the juggler's leaf, instead of writing, was found the tracing of a most hideous, impish face. Each leaf, therefore, bore an impression or allegorical reflection of the character of the contestant, and indicated the quality of spiritual beings with which he was surrounded. But, with deep regret, we must once more leave India, with its blue sky and mysterious past, its religious devotees and its weird sorcerers, and on the enchanted carpet of the historian, transport ourselves back to the musty atmosphere of the French Academy.
To appreciate the timidity, prejudice, and superficiality which have marked the treatment of psychological subjects in the past, we propose to review a book which lies before us. It is the Histoire du Merveilleux dans les Temps Modernes. The work is published by its author, the learned Dr. Figuier, and teems with quotations from the most conspicuous authorities in physiology, psychology, and medicine. Dr. Calmeil, the well-known director-in-chief of Charenton, the famous lunatic asylum of France, is the robust Atlas on whose mighty shoulders rests this world of erudition. As the ripe fruit of the thought of 1860 it must forever keep a place among the most curious of works of art. Moved by the restless demon of science, determined to kill superstition — and, as a consequence, spiritism — at one blow, the author affords us a summary view of the most remarkable instances of mediumistic phenomena during the last two centuries.
The discussion embraces the Prophets of Cevennes, the Camisards, the Jansenists, the Abbe Paris, and other historical epidemics, which, as they have been described during the last twenty years by nearly every writer upon the modern phenomena, we will mention as briefly as possible. It is not facts that we desire to bring again under discussion, but
merely the way in which such facts were regarded and treated by those who, as physicians and recognized authorities, had the greater responsibility in such questions. If this prejudiced author is introduced to our readers at this time, it is only because his work enables us to show what occult facts and manifestations may expect from orthodox science. When the most world-renowned psychological epidemics are so treated, what will induce a materialist to seriously study other phenomena as well authenticated and as interesting, but still less popular? Let it be remembered that the reports made by various committees to their respective academies at that time, as well as the records of the judicial tribunals, are still in existence, and may be consulted for purposes of verification. It is from such unimpeachable sources that Dr. Figuier compiled his extraordinary work. We must give, at least, in substance, the unparalleled arguments with which the author seeks to demolish every form of super-naturalism, together with the commentaries of the demonological des Mousseaux, who, in one of his works,* pounces upon his skeptical victim like a tiger upon his prey.
Between the two champions — the materialist and the bigot — the unbiassed student may glean a good harvest.
We will begin with the Convulsionnaires of Cevennes, the epidemic of whose astounding phenomena occurred during the latter part of 1700. The merciless measures adopted by the French Catholics to extirpate the spirit of prophecy from an entire population, is historical, and needs no repetition here. The fact alone that a mere handful of men, women, and children, not exceeding 2,000 persons in number, could withstand for years king's troops, which, with the militia, amounted to 60,000 men, is a miracle in itself. The marvels are all recorded, and the proces verbaux of the time preserved in the Archives of France until this day. There is in existence an official report among others, which was sent to Rome by the ferocious Abbe Chayla, the prior of Laval, in which he complains that the Evil One is so powerful, that no torture, no amount of inquisitory exorcism, is able to dislodge him from the Cevennois. He adds, that he closed their hands upon burning coals, and they were not even singed; that he had wrapped their whole persons in cotton soaked with oil, and had set them on fire, and in many cases did not find one blister on their skins; that balls were shot at them, and found flattened between the skin and clothes, without injuring them, etc., etc.
Accepting the whole of the above as a solid ground-work for his learned arguments, this is what Dr. Figuier says: "Toward the close of the seventeenth century, an old maid imports into Cevennes the spirit of
* "Moeurs et Pratiques des Demons."
prophecy. She communicates it (?) to young boys and girls, who transpire it in their turn, and spread it in the surrounding atmosphere. . . . Women and children become the most sensitive to the infection" (vol. ii., p. 261). "Men, women, and babies speak under inspiration, not in ordinary patois, but in the purest French — a language at that time utterly unknown in the country. Children of twelve months, and even less, as we learn from the proces verbaux, who previously could hardly utter a few short syllables, spoke fluently, and prophesied." "Eight thousand prophets," says Figuier, "were scattered over the country; doctors and eminent physicians were sent for." Half of the medical schools of France, among others, the Faculty of Montpellier, hastened to the spot. Consultations were held, and the physicians declared themselves "delighted, lost in wonder and admiration, upon hearing young girls and boys, ignorant and illiterate, deliver discourses on things they had never learned."* The sentence pronounced by Figuier against these treacherous professional brethren, for being so delighted with the young prophets, is that they "did not understand, themselves, what they saw."** Many of the prophets forcibly communicated their spirit to those who tried to break the spell.*** A great number of them were between three and twelve years of age; still others were at the breast, and spoke French distinctly and correctly.**** These discourses, which often lasted for several hours, would have been impossible to the little orators, were the latter in their natural or normal state.*****
"Now," asks the reviewer, "what was the meaning of such a series of prodigies, all of them freely admitted in Figuier's book? No meaning at all! It was nothing," he says, "except the effect of a 'momentary exaltation of the intellectual faculties.' "****** "These phenomena," he adds, "are observable in many of the cerebral affections."
"Momentary exaltation, lasting for many hours in the brains of babies under one year old, not weaned yet, speaking good French before they had learned to say one word in their own patois! Oh, miracle of physiology! Prodigy ought to be thy name!" exclaims des Mousseaux.
"Dr. Calmeil, in his work on insanity," remarks Figuier, "when reporting on the ecstatic theomania of the Calvinists, concludes that the disease must be attributed in the simpler cases to HYSTERIA, and in those of more serious character to epilepsy. . . . We rather incline to the opinion," says Figuier, "that it was a disease sui generis, and in order
* "Histoire du Merveilleux dans les Temps Modernes," vol. ii., p. 262.
*** Ibid., p. 265.
**** Ibid., pp. 267, 401, 402.
***** Ibid., pp. 266, etc., 400.
****** Ibid., p. 403.
to have an appropriate name for such a disease, we must be satisfied with the one of the Trembling Convulsionaires of Cevennes."*
Theomania and hysteria, again! The medical corporations must themselves be possessed with an incurable atomomania; otherwise why should they give out such absurdities for science, and hope for their acceptance?
"Such was the fury for exorcising and roasting," continues Figuier, "that monks saw possessions by demons everywhere when they felt in need of miracles to either throw more light on the omnipotency of the Devil, or keep their dinner-pot boiling at the convent."**
For this sarcasm the pious des Mousseaux expresses a heartfelt gratitude to Figuier; for, as he remarks, "he is in France one of the first writers whom we find, to our surprise, not denying the phenomena which have been made long since undeniable. Moved by a sense of lofty superiority and even disdain for the method used by his predecessors, Dr. Figuier desires his readers to know that he does not follow the same path as they. 'We will not reject,' says he, 'as being unworthy of credit, facts only because they are embarrassing for our system. On the contrary, we will collect all of the facts that the same historical evidence has transmitted to us . . . and which, consequently, are entitled to the same credence, and it is upon the whole mass of such facts that we will base the natural explanation, which we have to offer, in our turn, as a sequel to those of the savants who have preceded us on this subject.' "***
Thereupon, Dr. Figuier proceeds.**** He takes a few steps, and, placing himself right in the midst of the Convulsionaires of St. Medard, he invites his readers to scrutinize, under his direction, prodigies which are for him but simple effects of nature.
But before we proceed, in our turn, to show Dr. Figuier's opinion, we must refresh the reader's memory as to what the Jansenist miracles comprised, according to historical evidence.
Abbe Paris was a Jansenist, who died in 1727. Immediately after his decease the most surprising phenomena began to occur at his tomb. The churchyard was crowded from morning till night. Jesuits, exasperated at seeing heretics perform wonders in healing, and other works, got from the magistrates an order to close all access to the tomb of the Abbe. But, notwithstanding every opposition, the wonders lasted for over twenty years. Bishop Douglas, who went to Paris for that sole purpose in 1749, visited the place, and he reports that the miracles were still going on among the Convulsionaires. When every endeavor to stop them failed, the Catholic clergy were forced to admit their reality, but screened them-
* "Histoire du Merveilleux," vol. i., p. 397.
** Ibid., pp. 26-27.
*** Ibid., p. 238.
**** Des Mousseaux: "Magie au XIXme Siecle," p. 452.
selves, as usual, behind the Devil. Hume, in his Philosophical Essays, says: "There surely never was so great a number of miracles ascribed to one person as those which were lately said to have been wrought in France upon the tomb of the Abbe Paris. The curing of the sick, giving hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind, were everywhere talked of as the effects of the holy sepulchre. But, what is more extraordinary, many of the miracles were immediately proved upon the spot, before judges of unquestioned credit and distinction, in a learned age, and on the most eminent theatre that is now in the world . . . nor were the Jesuits, though a learned body, supported by the civil magistrates, and determined enemies to those opinions in whose favor the miracles were said to have been wrought, ever able distinctly to refute or detect them . . . such is historic evidence."* Dr. Middleton, in his Free Enquiry, a book which be wrote at a period when the manifestations were already decreasing, i.e., about nineteen years after they had first begun, declares that the evidence of these miracles is fully as strong as that of the wonders recorded of the Apostles.
The phenomena so well authenticated by thousands of witnesses before magistrates, and in spite of the Catholic clergy, are among the most wonderful in history. Carre de Montgeron, a member of parliament and a man who became famous for his connection with the Jansenists, enumerates them carefully in his work. It comprises four thick quarto volumes, of which the first is dedicated to the king, under the title: "La Verite des Miracles operes par l'Intercession de M. de Paris, demontree contre l'Archeveque de Sens. Ouvrage dedie au Roi, par M. de Montgeron, Conseiller au Parlement." The author presents a vast amount of personal and official evidence to the truthfulness of every case. For speaking disrespectfully of the Roman clergy, Montgeron was thrown into the Bastille, but his work was accepted.
And now for the views of Dr. Figuier upon these remarkable and unquestionably historical phenomena. "A Convulsionary bends back into an arc, her loins supported by the sharp point of a peg," quotes the learned author, from the proces verbaux. "The pleasure that she begs for is to be pounded by a stone weighing fifty pounds, and suspended by a rope passing over a pulley fixed to the ceiling. The stone, being hoisted to its extreme height, falls with all its weight upon the patient's stomach, her back resting all the while on the sharp point of the peg. Montgeron and numerous other witnesses testified to the fact that neither the flesh nor the skin of the back were ever marked in the least, and that the girl, to show she suffered no pain whatever, kept crying out, 'Strike harder — harder!'
* Hume: "Philosophical Essays," p. 195.
"Jeanne Maulet, a girl of twenty, leaning with her back against a wall, received upon her stomach one hundred blows of a hammer weighing thirty pounds; the blows, administered by a very strong man, were so terrible that they shook the wall. To test the force of the blows, Montgeron tried them on the stone wall against which the girl was leaning. . . . He gets one of the instruments of the Jansenist healing, called the 'GRAND SECOURS.' At the twenty-fifth blow," he writes, "the stone upon which I struck, which had been shaken by the preceding efforts, suddenly became loose and fell on the other side of the wall, making an aperture more than half a foot in size." When the blows are struck with violence upon an iron drill held against the stomach of a Convulsionnaire (who, sometimes, is but a weak woman), "it seems," says Montgeron, "as if it would penetrate through to the spine and rupture all the entrails under the force of the blows" (vol. i., p. 380). "But, so far from that occurring, the Convulsionnaire cries out, with an expression of perfect rapture in her face, 'Oh, how delightful! Oh, that does me good! Courage, brother; strike twice as hard, if you can!' It now remains," continues Dr. Figuier, "to try to explain the strange phenomena which we have described."
"We have said, in the introduction to this work, that at the middle of the nineteenth century one of the most famous epidemics of possession broke out in Germany: that of the Nonnains, who performed all the miracles most admired since the days of St. Medard, and even some greater ones; who turned summersaults, who CLIMBED DEAD WALLS, and spoke FOREIGN LANGUAGES."*
The official report of the wonders, which is more full than that of Figuier, adds such further particulars as that "the affected persons would stand on their heads for hours together, and correctly describe distant events, even such as were happening in the homes of the committee-men; as it was subsequently verified. Men and women were held suspended in the air, by an invisible force, and the combined efforts of the committee were insufficient to pull them down. Old women climbed perpendicular walls thirty feet in height with the agility of wild cats, etc., etc."
Now, one should expect that the learned critic, the eminent physician and psychologist, who not only credits such incredible phenomena but himself describes them minutely, and con amore, so to say, would necessarily startle the reading public with some explanation so extraordinary that his scientific views would cause a real hegira to the unexplored fields of psychology. Well, he does startle us, for to all this he quietly
* "Histoire du Merveilleux," p. 401.
observes: "Recourse was had to marriage to bring to a stop these disorders of the Convulsionnaires!"*
For once des Mousseaux had the best of his enemy: "Marriage, do you understand this?" he remarks. "Marriage cures them of this faculty of climbing dead-walls like so many flies, and of speaking foreign languages. Oh! the curious properties of marriage in those remarkable days!"
"It should be added," continues Figuier, "that with the fanatics of St. Medard, the blows were never administered except during the convulsive crisis; and that, therefore, as Dr. Calmeil suggests, meteorism of the abdomen, the state of spasm of the uterus of women, of the alimentary canal in all cases, the state of contraction, of erethism, of turgescence of the carneous envelopes of the muscular coats which protect and cover the abdomen, chest, and principal vascular masses and the osseous surfaces, may have singularly contributed toward reducing, and even destroying, the force of the blows!"
"The astounding resistance that the skin, the areolar tissue, the surface of the bodies and limbs of the Convulsionnaires offered to things which seem as if they ought to have torn or crushed them, is of a nature to excite more surprise. Nevertheless, it can be explained. This resisting force, this insensibility, seems to partake of the extreme changes in sensibility which can occur in the animal economy during a time of great exaltation. Anger, fear, in a word, every passion, provided that it be carried to a paroxysmal point, can produce this insensibility."**
"Let us remark, besides," rejoins Dr. Calmeil, quoted by Figuier, "that for striking upon the bodies of the Convulsionnaires use was made either of massive objects with flat or rounded surfaces, or of cylindrical and blunt shapes.*** The action of such physical agents is not to be compared, in respect to the danger which attaches to it, with that of cords, supple or flexible instruments, and those having a sharp edge. In fine, the contact and the shock of the blows produced upon the Convulsionnaires the effect of a salutary shampooing, and reduced the violence of the tortures of HYSTERIA."
The reader will please observe that this is not intended as a joke, but is the sober theory of one of the most eminent of French physicians, hoary with age and experience, the Director-in-Chief of the Government Insane Asylum at Charenton. Really, the above explanation might lead the reader to a strange suspicion. We might imagine, perhaps, that Dr.
** Ibid., vol. ii., pp. 410, 411.
*** Ibid., p. 407.
Calmeil has kept company with the patients under his care a few more years than was good for the healthy action of his own brain.
Besides, when Figuier talks of massive objects, of cylindrical and blunt shapes, he surely forgets the sharp swords, pointed iron pegs, and the hatchets, of which he himself gave a graphic description on page 409 of his first volume. The brother of Elie Marion is shown by him striking his stomach and abdomen with the sharp point of a knife, with tremendous force, "his body all the while resisting as if it were made of iron."
Arrived at this point, des Mousseaux loses all patience, and indignantly exclaims:
"Was the learned physician quite awake when writing the above sentences? . . . If, perchance, the Drs. Calmeil and Figuier should seriously maintain their assertions and insist on their theory, we are ready to answer them as follows: 'We are perfectly willing to believe you. But before such a superhuman effort of condescension, will you not demonstrate to us the truth of your theory in a more practical manner? Let us, for example, develop in you a violent and terrible passion; anger — rage if you choose. You shall permit us for a single moment to be in your sight irritating, rude, and insulting. Of course, we will be so only at your request and in the interest of science and your cause. Our duty under the contract will consist in humiliating and provoking you to the last extremity. Before a public audience, who shall know nothing of our agreement, but whom you must satisfy as to your assertions, we will insult you; . . . we will tell you that your writings are an ambuscade to truth, an insult to common sense, a disgrace which paper only can bear; but which the public should chastise. We will add that you lie to science, you lie to the ears of the ignorant and stupid fools gathered around you, open-mouthed, like the crowd around a peddling quack. . . . And when, transported beyond yourself, your face ablaze, and anger tumefying, you shall have displaced your fluids; when your fury has reached the point of bursting, we will cause your turgescent muscles to be struck with powerful blows; your friends shall show us the most insensible places; we will let a perfect shower, an avalanche of stones fall upon them . . . for so was treated the flesh of the convulsed women whose appetite for such blows could never be satisfied. But, in order to procure for you the gratification of a salutary shampooing — as you deliciously express it — your limbs shall only be pounded with objects having blunt surfaces and cylindrical shapes, with clubs and sticks devoid of suppleness, and, if you prefer it, neatly turned in a lathe.' "
So liberal is des Mousseaux, so determined to accommodate his antagonists with every possible chance to prove their theory, that he offers them
the choice to substitute for themselves in the experiment their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, "since," he says, "you have remarked that the weaker sex is the strong and resistant sex in these disconcerting trials."
Useless to remark that des Mousseaux's challenge remained unanswered.