"Alchymist. Thou always speakest riddles. Tell me if thou art that fountain of which Bernard Lord Trevigan writ?
"Mercury. I am not that fountain, but I am the water. The fountain compasseth me about." — Sandivogius, New Light of Alchymy.
"All that we profess to do is this; to find out the secrets of the human frame, to know why the parts ossify and the blood stagnates, and to apply continual preventatives to the effects of time. This is not magic; it is the art of medicine rightly understood." — Bulwer-Lytton.
"Lo, warrior! now the cross of Red
Points to the grave of the mighty dead;
Within it burns a wondrous light,
To chase the spirits that love the night.
That lamp shall burn unquenchably
Until the eternal doom shall be."
. . . . . . . .
"No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright." — Sir Walter Scott.
There are persons whose minds would be incapable of appreciating the intellectual grandeur of the ancients, even in physical science, were they to receive the most complete demonstration of their profound learning and achievements. Notwithstanding the lesson of caution which more than one unexpected discovery has taught them, they still pursue their old plan of denying, and, what is still worse, of ridiculing that which they have no means of either proving or disproving. So, for instance, they will pooh-pooh the idea of talismans having any efficacy one way or the other. That the seven spirits of the Apocalypse have direct relation to the seven occult powers in nature, appears incomprehensible and absurd to their feeble intellects; and the bare thought of a magician claiming to work wonders through certain kabalistic rites convulses them with laughter. Perceiving only a geometrical figure traced upon a paper, a bit of metal, or other substance, they cannot imagine how any reasonable being should ascribe to either any occult potency. But those who have taken the pains to inform themselves know that the ancients achieved as great discoveries in psychology as in physics, and that their explorations left few secrets to be discovered.
For our part, when we realize that a pentacle is a synthetic figure which expresses in concrete form a profound truth of nature, we can see nothing more ridiculous in it than in the figures of Euclid, and nothing half so comical as the symbols in a modern work on chemistry. What to the uninitiated reader can appear more absurd than that the symbol
NACO, — means soda! and that CHO is but another way of writing alcohol! How very amusing that the alchemists should express their Azoth, or creative principle of nature (astral light), by the symbol
which embraces three things: 1st, The divine hypothesis; 2d, The philosophical synthesis; 3d, The physical synthesis — that is to say, a belief, an idea, and a force. But how perfectly natural that a modern chemist who wishes to indicate to the students in his laboratory the reaction of a sodic-carbonate with cream-of-tartar in solution, should employ the following symbol:
If the uninspired reader may be pardoned for looking aghast at this abracadabra of chemical science, why should not its teachers restrain their mirth until they have learned the philosophical value of the symbolism of the ancients? At least they might spare themselves from being as ridiculous as Monsieur de Mirville, who, confounding the Azoth of the Hermetic philosophers with the azote of the chemists, asserted that the former worshipped nitrogen gas!*
Apply a piece of iron to a magnet, and it becomes imbued with its subtile principle and capable of imparting it to other iron in its turn. It neither weighs more nor appears different from what it was before. And yet, one of the most subtile potencies of nature has entered into its substance. A talisman, in itself perhaps a worthless bit of metal, a scrap of paper, or a shred of any fabric, has nevertheless been imbued by the influence of that greatest of all magnets, the human will, with a potency for good or ill just as recognizable and as real in its effects as the subtile property which the iron acquired by contact with the physical magnet. Let the bloodhound snuff an article of clothing that has been worn by the fugitive, and he will track him through swamp and forest to his hiding-place. Give one of Professor Buchanan's "psychometers" a manuscript, no matter how old, and he will describe to you the character
of the writer, and perhaps even his personal appearance. Hand a clairvoyant a lock of hair or some article that has been in contact with the person of whom it is desired to know something, and she will come into sympathy with him so intimate that she may trace him through his whole life.
Breeders tell us that young animals should not be herded with old ones; and intelligent physicians forbid parents to have young children occupy their own beds. When David was old and feeble his vital forces were recruited by having a young person brought in close contact with him so that he could absorb her strength. The late Empress of Russia, the sister of the present German Emperor, was so feeble the last years of her life that she was seriously advised by her physicians to keep in her bed at night a robust and healthy young peasant-girl. Whoever has read the description given by Dr. Kerner of the Seeress of Prevorst, Mme. Hauffe, must well remember her words. She repeatedly stated that she supported life merely on the atmosphere of the people surrounding her and their magnetic emanations, which were quickened in an extraordinary way by her presence. The seeress was very plainly a magnetic vampire, who absorbed by drawing to herself the life of those who were strong enough to spare her their vitality in the shape of volatilized blood. Dr. Kerner remarks that these persons were all more or less affected by this forcible loss.
With these familiar illustrations of the possibility of a subtile fluid communicated from one individual to another, or to substances which he touches, it becomes less difficult to understand that by a determined concentration of the will an otherwise inert object may become imbued with protective or destructive power according to the purpose directing.
A magnetic emanation, unconsciously produced, is sure to be overpowered by any stronger one with which it may come into opposition. But when an intelligent and powerful will directs the blind force, and concentrates it upon a given spot, the weaker emanation will often master the stronger. A human will has the same effect on the Akasa.
Upon one occasion, we witnessed in Bengal an exhibition of will-power that illustrates a highly interesting phase of the subject. An adept in magic made a few passes over a piece of common tin, the inside of a dish-cover, that lay conveniently by, and while regarding it attentively for a few moments, seemed to grasp the imponderable fluid by handfuls and throw it against the surface. When the tin had been exposed to the full glare of light for about six seconds, the bright surface was suddenly covered as with a film. Then patches of a darker hue began coming out on its surface; and when in about three minutes the tin was handed back to us, we found imprinted upon it a picture, or
rather a photograph, of the landscape that stretched out before us; faithful as nature itself, and every color perfect. It remained for about forty-eight hours and then slowly faded away.
This phenomenon is easily explained. The will of the adept condensed upon the tin a film of akasa which made it for the time being like a sensitized photographic plate. Light did the rest.
Such an exhibition as this of the potency of the will to effect even objective physical results, will prepare the student to comprehend its efficacy in the cure of disease by imparting the desired virtue to inanimate objects which are placed in contact with the patient. When we see such psychologists as Maudsley* quoting, without contradiction, the stories of some miraculous cures effected by Swedenborg's father — stories which do not differ from hundreds of other cures by other "fanatics" — as he calls them — magicians, and natural healers, and, without attempting to explain their facts, stooping to laugh at the intensity of their faith, without asking himself whether the secret of that healing potency were not in the control given by that faith over occult forces — we grieve that there should be so much learning and so little philosophy, in our time.
Upon our word, we cannot see that the modern chemist is any less a magician than the ancient theurgist or Hermetic philosopher, except in this: that the latter, recognizing the duality of nature, had twice as wide a field for experimental research as the chemist. The ancients animated statues, and the Hermetists called into being, out of the elements, the shapes of salamanders, gnomes, undines, and sylphs, which they did not pretend to create, but simply to make visible by holding open the door of nature, so that, under favoring conditions, they might step into view. The chemist brings into contact two elements contained in the atmosphere, and by developing a latent force of affinity, creates a new body — water. In the spheroidal and diaphanous pearls which are born of this union of gases, come the germs of organic life, and in their molecular interstices lurk heat, electricity, and light, just as they do in the human body. Whence comes this life into the drop of water just born of the union of two gases? And what is the water itself? Have the oxygen and hydrogen undergone some transformation which obliterates their qualities simultaneously with the obliteration of their form? Here is the answer of modern science: "Whether the oxygen and hydrogen exist as such, in the water, or whether they are produced by some unknown and unconceived transformation of its substance, is a question about which we may speculate, but in regard to which we have no knowledge."† Knowing
nothing about so simple a matter as the molecular constitution of water, or the deeper problem of the appearance of life within it, would it not be well for Mr. Maudsley to exemplify his own principle, and "maintain a calm acquiescence in ignorance until light comes"?*
The claims of the friends of esoteric science, that Paracelsus produced, chemically, homunculi from certain combinations as yet unknown to exact science, are, as a matter of course, relegated to the storehouse of exploded humbugs. But why should they? If the homunculi were not made by Paracelsus they were developed by other adepts, and that not a thousand years ago. They were produced, in fact, upon exactly the same principle as that by which the chemist and physicist calls to life his animalcula. A few years ago, an English gentleman, Andrew Crosse, of Somersetshire produced acari in the following manner: "Black flint burned to redness and reduced to powder was mixed with carbonate of potash, and exposed to a strong heat for fifteen minutes; and the mixture was poured into a blacklead crucible in an air furnace. It was reduced to powder while warm, mixed with boiling water; kept boiling for some minutes, and then hydrochloric acid was added to supersaturation. After being exposed to voltaic action for twenty-six days, a perfect insect of the acari tribe made its appearance, and in the course of a few weeks about a hundred more. The experiment was repeated with other chemical fluids with like results." A Mr. Weeks also produced the acari in ferrocyanide of potassium.
This discovery produced a great excitement. Mr. Crosse was now accused of impiety and aiming at creation. He replied, denying the implication and saying he considered "to create was to form a something out of a nothing."†
Another gentleman, considered by several persons as a man of great science, has told us repeatedly that he was on the eve of proving that even unfructified eggs could be hatched by having a negative electric current caused to pass through them.
The mandrakes (dudim or love-fruit) found in the field by Reuben, Jacob's son, which excited the fancy of Rachel, was the kabalistic mandragora, notwithstanding denial; and the verses which refer to it belong to the crudest passages, in their esoteric meaning, of the whole work. The mandrake is a plant having the rudimentary shape of a human creature; with a head, two arms, and two legs forming roots. The superstition that when pulled out of the ground it cries with a human voice, is not utterly baseless. It does produce a kind of squeaking sound, on
account of the resinous substance of its root, which it is rather difficult to extract; and it has more than one hidden property in it perfectly unknown to the botanist.
The reader who would obtain a clear idea of the commutation of forces and the resemblance between the life-principles of plants, animals, and human beings, may profitably consult a paper on the correlation of nervous and mental forces by Professor Alexander Bain, of the University of Aberdeen. This mandragora seems to occupy upon earth the point where the vegetable and animal kingdoms touch, as the zoophites and polypi do in the sea; the boundary being in each case so indistinct as to make it almost imperceptible where the one ceases and the other begins. It may seem improbable that there should be homunculi, but will any naturalist, in view of the recent expansion of science, dare say it is impossible? "Who," says Bain, "is to limit the possibilities of existence?"
The unexplained mysteries of nature are many and of those presumably explained hardly one may be said to have become absolutely intelligible. There is not a plant or mineral which has disclosed the last of its properties to the scientists. What do the naturalists know of the intimate nature of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms? How can they feel confident that for every one of the discovered properties there may not be many powers concealed in the inner nature of the plant or stone? And that they are only waiting to be brought in relation with some other plant, mineral, or force of nature to manifest themselves in what is termed a "supernatural manner." Wherever Pliny, the naturalist, AElian, and even Diodorus, who sought with such a laudable perseverance to extricate historical truth from its medley of exaggerations and fables, have attributed to some plant or mineral an occult property unknown to our modern botanists and physicists, their assertions have been laid aside without further ceremony as absurd, and no more referred to.
It has been the speculation of men of science from time immemorial what this vital force or life-principle is. To our mind the "secret doctrine" alone is able to furnish the clew. Exact science recognizes only five powers in nature — one molar, and four molecular; kabalists, seven; and in these two additional ones is enwrapped the whole mystery of life. One of these is immortal spirit, whose reflection is connected by invisible links even with inorganic matter; the other, we leave to every one to discover for himself. Says Professor Joseph Le Conte: "What is the nature of the difference between the living organism and the dead organism? We can detect none, physical or chemical. All the physical and chemical forces withdrawn from the common fund of nature, and embodied in the living organism, seem to be still embodied
in the dead, until little by little it is returned by decomposition. Yet the difference is immense, is inconceivably great. What is the nature of this difference expressed in the formula of material science? What is that that is gone, and whither is it gone? There is something here that science cannot yet understand. Yet it is just this loss which takes place in death, and before decomposition, which is in the highest sense vital force!"*
Difficult, nay impossible, as it seems to science to find out the invisible, universal motor of all — Life, to explain its nature, or even to suggest a reasonable hypothesis for the same, the mystery is but half a mystery, not merely for the great adepts and seers, but even for true and firm believers in a spiritual world. To the simple believer, unblessed with a personal organism, the delicate, nervous sensitiveness of which would enable him — as it enables a seer — to perceive the visible universe reflected as in a clear glass in the Invisible one, and, as it were, objectively, there remains divine faith. The latter is firmly rooted in his inner senses; in his unerring intuition, with which cold reason has naught to do, he feels it cannot play him false. Let human-born, erroneous dogmas, and theological sophistry contradict each other; let one crowd off the other, and the subtile casuistry of one creed fell to the ground the crafty reasoning of another one; truth remains one, and there is not a religion, whether Christian or heathen, that is not firmly built upon the rock of ages — God and immortal spirit.
Every animal is more or less endowed with the faculty of perceiving, if not spirits, at least something which remains for the time being invisible to common men, and can only be discerned by a clairvoyant. We have made hundreds of experiments with cats, dogs, monkeys of various kinds, and, once, with a tame tiger. A round black mirror, known as the "magic crystal," was strongly mesmerized by a native Hindu gentleman, formerly an inhabitant of Dindigul, and now residing in a more secluded spot, among the mountains known as the Western Ghauts. He had tamed a young cub, brought to him from the Malabar coast, in which part of India the tigers are proverbially ferocious; and it is with this interesting animal that we made our experiments.
Like the ancient Marsi and Psylli, the renowned serpent-charmers, this gentleman claimed to be possessed of the mysterious power of taming any kind of animal. The tiger was reduced to a chronic mental numbness, so to say; he had become as inoffensive and harmless as a dog. Children could tease and pull him by the ears, and he would only shake himself and howl like a dog. But whenever forced to look into the
"magic mirror," the poor animal was instantly excited to a sort of frenzy. His eyes became full of a human terror; howling in despair, unable to turn away from the mirror to which his gaze seemed riveted as by a magnetic spell, he would writhe and tremble till he convulsed with fear at some vision which to us remained unknown. He would then lie down, feebly groaning but still gazing in the glass. When it was taken away from him, the animal would lie panting and seemingly prostrated for about two hours. What did he see? What spirit-picture from his own invisible, animal-world, could produce such a terrific effect on the wild and naturally ferocious and daring beast? Who can tell? Perhaps he who produced the scene.
The same effect on animals was observed during spiritual seances with some holy mendicants; the same when a Syrian, half-heathen and half-Christian, from Kunankulam (Cochin State), a reputed sorcerer, who was invited to join us for the sake of experimenting.
We were nine persons in all — seven men and two women, one of the latter a native. Besides us, there were in the room, the young tiger, intensely occupied on a bone; a wanderoo, or lion-monkey, which, with its black coat and snow-white goatee and whiskers, and cunning, sparkling eyes, looked the personification of mischief; and a beautiful golden oriole, quietly cleaning its radiant-colored tail on a perch, placed near a large window of the veranda. In India, "spiritual" seances are not held in the dark, as in America; and no conditions, but perfect silence and harmony, are required. It was in the full glare of daylight streaming through the opened doors and windows, with a far-away buzz of life from the neighboring forests, and jungles sending us the echo of myriads of insects, birds, and animals. We sat in the midst of a garden in which the house was built, and instead of breathing the stifling atmosphere of a seance-room, we were amid the fire-colored clusters of the erythrina — the coral tree — inhaling the fragrant aromas of trees and shrubs, and the flowers of the bignonia, whose white blossoms trembled in the soft breeze. In short, we were surrounded with light, harmony, and perfumes. Large nosegays of flowers and shrubs, sacred to the native gods, were gathered for the purpose, and brought into the rooms. We had the sweet basil, the Vishnu-flower, without which no religious ceremony in Bengal will ever take place; and the branches of the Ficus religiosa, the tree dedicated to the same bright deity, intermingling their leaves with the rosy blossoms of the sacred lotos and the Indian tuberose, profusely ornamented the walls.
While the "blessed one" — represented by a very dirty, but, nevertheless, really holy fakir — remained plunged in self-contemplation, and some spiritual wonders were taking place under the direction of his will,
the monkey and the bird exhibited but few signs of restlessness. The tiger alone visibly trembled at intervals, and stared around the room, as if his phosphorically-shining green orbs were following some invisible presence as it floated up and down. That which was as yet unperceived by human eyes, must have therefore been objective to him. As to the wanderoo, all its liveliness had fled; it seemed drowsy, and sat crouching and motionless. The bird gave few, if any, signs of uneasiness. There was a sound as of gently-flapping wings in the air; the flowers went travelling about the room, displaced by invisible hands; and, as a glorious azure-tinted flower fell on the folded paws of the monkey, it gave a nervous start, and sought refuge under its master's white robe. These displays lasted for an hour, and it would be too long to relate all of them; the most curious of all, being the one which closed that season of wonders. Somebody complaining of the heat, we had a shower of delicately-perfumed dew. The drops fell fast and large, and conveyed a feeling of inexpressible refreshment, drying the instant after touching our persons.
When the fakir had brought his exhibition of white magic to a close, the "sorcerer," or conjurer, as they are called, prepared to display his power. We were treated to a succession of the wonders that the accounts of travellers have made familiar to the public; showing, among other things, the fact that animals naturally possess the clairvoyant faculty, and even, it would seem, the ability to discern between the good and the bad spirits. All of the sorcerer's feats were preceded by fumigations. He burned branches of resinous trees and shrubs, which sent up volumes of smoke. Although there was nothing about this calculated to affright an animal using only his natural eyes, the tiger, monkey, and bird exhibited an indescribable terror. We suggested that the animals might be frightened at the blazing brands, the familiar custom of burning fires round the camp to keep off wild beasts, recurring to our mind. To leave no doubt upon this point, the Syrian approached the crouching tiger with a branch of the Bael-tree* (sacred to Siva), and waved it several times over his head, muttering, meanwhile, his incantations. The brute instantly displayed a panic of terror beyond description. His eyes started from their sockets like blazing fire-balls; he foamed at the mouth; he flung himself upon the floor, as if seeking some hole in which to hide himself; he uttered scream after scream, that awoke a hundred responsive echoes from the jungle and the woods. Finally, taking a last look at the spot from which his eyes had never wandered, he made a desperate plunge, which snapped his chain, and
dashed through the window of the veranda, carrying a piece of the frame-work with him. The monkey had fled long before, and the bird fell from the perch as though paralyzed.
We did not ask either the fakir or sorcerer for an explanation of the method by which their respective phenomena were effected. If we had, unquestionably they would have replied as did a fakir to a French traveller, who tells his story in a recent number of a New York newspaper, called the Franco-American, as follows:
"Many of these Hindu jugglers who live in the silence of the pagodas perform feats far surpassing the prestidigitations of Robert Houdin, and there are many others who produce the most curious phenomena in magnetism and catalepsy upon the first objects that come across their way, that I have often wondered whether the Brahmans, with their occult sciences, have not made great discoveries in the questions which have recently been agitated in Europe.
"On one occasion, while I and others were in a cafe with Sir Maswell, he ordered his dobochy to introduce the charmer. In a few moments a lean Hindu, almost naked, with an ascetic face and bronzed color entered. Around his neck, arms, thighs, and body were coiled serpents of different sizes. After saluting us, he said, 'God be with you, I am Chibh-Chondor, son of Chibh-Gontnalh-Mava.'
" 'We desire to see what you can do,' said our host.
" 'I obey the orders of Siva, who has sent me here,' replied the fakir, squatting down on one of the marble slabs.
"The serpents raised their heads and hissed, but without showing any anger. Then taking a small pipe, attached to a wick in his hair, he produced scarcely audible sounds, imitating the tailapaca, a bird that feeds upon bruised cocoanuts. Here the serpents uncoiled themselves, and one after another glided to the floor. As soon as they touched the ground they raised about one-third of their bodies, and began to keep time to their master's music. Suddenly the fakir dropped his instrument and made several passes with his hands over the serpents, of whom there were about ten, all of the most deadly species of Indian cobra. His eye assumed a strange expression. We all felt an undefinable uneasiness, and sought to turn away our gaze from him. At this moment a small shocra* (monkey) whose business was to hand fire in a small brasier for lighting cigars, yielded to his influence, lay down, and fell asleep. Five minutes passed thus, and we felt that if the manipulations were to continue a few seconds more we should all fall asleep. Chondor then rose, and making two more passes over the shocra, said to it: 'Give
the commander some fire.' The young monkey rose, and without tottering, came and offered fire to its master. It was pinched, pulled about, till there was no doubt of its being actually asleep. Nor would it move from Sir Maswell's side till ordered to do so by the fakir.
"We then examined the cobras. Paralyzed by magnetic influence, they lay at full length on the ground. On taking them up we found them stiff as sticks. They were in a state of complete catalepsy. The fakir then awakened them, on which they returned and again coiled themselves round his body. We inquired whether he could make us feel his influence. He made a few passes over our legs, and instantly we lost the use of these limbs; we could not leave our seats. He released us a easily as he had paralyzed us.
"Chibh-Chondor closed his seance by experimenting upon inanimate objects. By mere passes with his hands in the direction of the object to be acted upon, and without leaving his seat, he paled and extinguished lights in the furthest parts of the room, moved the furniture, including the divans upon which we sat, opened and closed doors. Catching sight of a Hindu who was drawing water from a well in the garden, he made a pass in his direction, and the rope suddenly stopped in its descent, resisting all the efforts of the astonished gardener. With another pass the rope again descended.
"I asked Chibh-Chondor: 'Do you employ the same means in acting upon inanimate objects that you do upon living creatures?'
"He replied, 'I have only one means.'
" 'What is it?'
" 'The will. Man, who is the end of all intellectual and material forces, must dominate over all. The Brahmans know nothing besides this.' "
"Sanang Setzen," says Colonel Yule,* "enumerates a variety of the wonderful acts which could be performed through the Dharani (mystic Hindu charms). Such were sticking a peg into solid rock; restoring the dead to life; turning a dead body into gold; penetrating everywhere as air does (in astral form); flying; catching wild beasts with the hand; reading thoughts; making water flow backward; eating tiles; sitting in the air with the legs doubled under, etc." Old legends ascribe to Simon Magus precisely the same powers. "He made statues to walk; leaped into the fire without being burned; flew in the air; made bread of stones; changed his shape; assumed two faces at once; converted himself into a pillar; caused closed doors to fly open spontaneously; made the vessels in a house move of themselves, etc." The Jesuit Delrio laments
that credulous princes, otherwise of pious repute, should have allowed diabolical tricks to be played before them, "as for example, things of iron, and silver goblets, or other heavy articles, to be moved by bounds, from one end of the table to the other, without the use of a magnet, or of any attachment."* We believe will-power the most powerful of magnets. The existence of such magical power in certain persons is proved, but the existence of the Devil is a fiction, which no theology is able to demonstrate.
"There are certain men whom the Tartars honor above all in the world," says Friar Ricold, "viz., the Baxitae, who are a kind of idol-priests. These are men from India, persons of deep wisdom, well-conducted and of the gravest morals. They are usually with magic arts . . . they exhibit many illusions, and predict future events. For instance, one of eminence among them was said to fly; but the truth, however, was as it proved, that he did not fly, but did walk close to the surface of the ground without touching it; and would seem to sit down without having any substance to support him.† This last performance was witnessed by Ibn Batuta, at Delhi," adds Colonel Yule, who quotes the friar in the Book of Ser Marco Polo, "in the presence of Sultan Mahomet Tughlak; and it was professedly exhibited by a Brahman at Madras in the present century, a descendant doubtless of those Brahmans whom Apollonius saw walking two cubits from the ground. It is also described by the worthy Francis Valentyn, as a performance known and practiced in his own day in India. It is related, he says, that 'a man will first go and sit on three sticks put together so as to form a tripod; after which, first one stick, then a second, then a third shall be removed from under him, and the man shall not fall but shall still remain sitting in the air! Yet I have spoken with two friends who had seen this at one and the same time; and one of them, I may add, mistrusting his own eyes, had taken the trouble to feel about with a long stick if there were nothing on which the body rested; yet, as the gentleman told me, he could neither feel nor see any such thing.' " We have stated elsewhere that the same thing was accomplished last year, before the Prince of Wales and his suite.
Such feats as the above are nothing in comparison to what is done by professed jugglers; "feats," remarks the above-quoted author, "which might be regarded as simply inventions if told by one author only, but which seem to deserve prominent notice from being recounted by a series of authors, certainly independent of one another, and writing at long intervals of time and place. Our first witness is Ibn Batuta, and
it will be necessary to quote him as well as the others in full, in order to show how closely their evidence tallies. The Arab traveller was present at a great entertainment at the court of the Viceroy of Khansa. 'That same night a juggler, who was one of the Khan's slaves, made his appearance, and the Amir said to him, "Come and show us some of your marvels." Upon this he took a wooden ball, with several holes in it, through which long thongs were passed, and laying hold of one of these, slung it into the air. It went so high that we lost sight of it altogether. . . . (We were in the middle of the palace-court.) There now remained only a little of the end of a thong in the conjurer's hand, and he desired one of the boys who assisted him to lay hold of it and mount. He did so, climbing by the thong, and we lost sight of him also! The conjurer then called to him three times, but, getting no answer, he snatched up a knife as if in a great rage, laid hold of the thong, and disappeared also! By and bye, he threw down one of the boy's hands, then a foot, then the other hand, and then the other foot, then the trunk, and last of all the head! Then he came down himself, puffing and panting, and with his clothes all bloody kissed the ground before the Amir, and said something to him in Chinese. The Amir gave some order in reply, and our friend then took the lad's limbs, laid them together in their places, and gave a kick, when, presto! there was the boy, who got up and stood before us! All this astonished me beyond measure, and I had an attack of palpitation like that which overcame me once before in the presence of the Sultan of India, when he showed me something of the same kind. They gave me a cordial, however, which cured the attack. The Kaji Afkharuddin was next to me, and quoth he, "Wallah! 't is my opinion there has been neither going up nor coming down, neither marring, nor mending! 'T is all hocus-pocus!" ' "
And who doubts but that it is a "hocus-pocus," an illusion, or Maya, as the Hindus express it? But when such an illusion can be forced on, say, ten thousand people at the same time, as we have seen it performed during a public festival, surely the means by which such an astounding hallucination can be produced merits the attention of science! When by such magic a man who stands before you, in a room, the doors of which you have closed and of which the keys are in your hand, suddenly disappears, vanishes like a flash of light, and you see him nowhere but hear his voice from different parts of the room addressing you and laughing at your perplexity, surely such an art is not unworthy either of Mr. Huxley or Dr. Carpenter. Is it not quite as well worth spending time over, as the lesser mystery — why barnyard cocks crow at midnight?
What Ibn Batuta, the Moor, saw in China about the year 1348, Colonel Yule shows Edward Melton, "an Anglo-Dutch traveller," witnessing
in Batavia about the year 1670: "One of the same gang" (of conjurers), says Melton,* "took a small ball of cord, and grasping one end of the cord in his hand slung the other up into the air with such force that its extremity was beyond reach of our sight. He then climbed up the cord with indescribable swiftness. . . . I stood full of astonishment, not conceiving where he had disappeared; when lo! a leg came tumbling down out of the air. A moment later a hand came down, etc. . . . In short, all the members of the body came successively tumbling from the air and were cast together by the attendant into the basket. The last fragment of all was the head, and no sooner had that touched the ground than he who had snatched up all the limbs and put them in the basket, turned them all out again topsy turvy. Then straightway we saw with these eyes all those limbs creep together again, and, in short, form a whole man, who at once could stand and go just as before without showing the least damage! . . . Never in my life was I so astonished . . . and I doubted now no longer that these misguided men did it by the help of the Devil."
In the memoirs of the Emperor Jahangire, the performances of seven jugglers from Bengal, who exhibited before him, are thus described: "Ninth. They produced a man whom they divided limb from limb, actually severing his head from the body. They scattered these mutilated members along the ground, and in this state they lay some time. They then extended a sheet over the spot, and one of the men putting himself under the sheet, in a few minutes came from below, followed by the individual supposed to have been cut into joints, in perfect health and condition. . . . Twenty-third. They produced a chain of fifty cubits in length, and in my presence threw one end of it toward the sky, where it remained as if fastened to something in the air. A dog was then brought forward and being placed at the lower end of the chain, immediately ran up, and reaching the other end, immediately disappeared in the air. In the same manner a hog, a panther, a lion, and a tiger were successively sent up the chain, and all equally disappeared at the upper end of the chain. At last they took down the chain, and put it into the bag, no one ever discovering in what way the different animals were made to vanish into the air in the mysterious manner above described."†
We have in our possession a picture painted from such a Persian conjurer, with a man, or rather the various limbs of what was a minute before a man, scattered before him. We have seen such conjurers, and witnessed such performances more than once and in various places.
Bearing ever in mind that we repudiate the idea of a miracle and returning once more to phenomena more serious, we would now ask what logical objection can be urged against the claim that the reanimation of the dead was accomplished by many thaumaturgists? The fakir described in the Franco-Americain, might have gone far enough to say that this will-power of man is so tremendously potential that it can reanimate a body apparently dead, by drawing back the flitting soul that has not yet quite ruptured the thread that through life had bound the two together. Dozens of such fakirs have allowed themselves to be buried alive before thousands of witnesses, and weeks afterward have been resuscitated. And if fakirs have the secret of this artificial process, identical with, or analogous to, hibernation, why not allow that their ancestors, the Gymnosophists, and Apollonius of Tyana, who had studied with the latter in India, and Jesus, and other prophets and seers, who all knew more about the mysteries of life and death than any of our modern men of science, might have resuscitated dead men and women? And being quite familiar with that power — that mysterious something "that science cannot yet understand," as Professor Le Conte confesses — knowing, moreover, "whence it came and whither it was going," Elisha, Jesus, Paul, and Apollonius, enthusiastic ascetics and learned initiates, might have recalled to life with ease any man who "was not dead but sleeping," and that without any miracle.
If the molecules of the cadaver are imbued with the physical and chemical forces of the living organism,* what is to prevent them from being set again in motion, provided we know the nature of the vital force, and how to command it? The materialist can certainly offer no objection, for with him it is no question of reinfusing a soul. For him the soul has no existence, and the human body may be regarded simply as a vital engine — a locomotive which will start upon the application of heat and force, and stop when they are withdrawn. To the theologian the case offers greater difficulties, for, in his view, death cuts asunder the tie which binds soul and body, and the one can no more be returned into the other without miracle than the born infant can be compelled to resume its foetal life after parturition and the severing of the umbilicus. But the Hermetic philosopher stands between these two irreconcilable antagonists, "master of the situation. He knows the nature of the soul — a form composed of nervous fluid and atmospheric ether — and knows how the vital force can be made active or passive at will, so long as there is no final destruction of some necessary organ. The claims of Gaffarilus — which, by the bye, appeared so preposterous in 1650† — were later corroborated by science.
He maintained that every object existing in nature, provided it was not artificial, when once burned still retained its form in the ashes, in which it remained till raised again. Du Chesne, an eminent chemist, assured himself of the fact. Kircher, Digby, and Vallemont have demonstrated that the forms of plants could be resuscitated from their ashes. At a meeting of naturalists in 1834, at Stuttgart, a receipt for producing such experiments was found in a work of Oetinger.* Ashes of burned plants contained in vials, when heated, exhibited again their various forms. "A small obscure cloud gradually rose in the vial, took a defined form, and presented to the eye the flower or plant the ashes consisted of." "The earthly husk," wrote Oetinger, "remains in the retort, while the volatile essence ascends, like a spirit, perfect in form, but void of substance."†
And, if the astral form of even a plant when its body is dead still lingers in the ashes, will skeptics persist in saying that the soul of man, the inner ego, is after the death of the grosser form at once dissolved, and is no more? "At death," says the philosopher, "the one body exudes from the other, by osmose and through the brain; it is held near its old garment by a double attraction, physical and spiritual, until the latter decomposes; and if the proper conditions are given the soul can reinhabit it and resume the suspended life. It does it in sleep; it does it more thoroughly in trance; most surprisingly at the command and with the assistance of the Hermetic adept. Iamblichus declared that a person endowed with such resuscitating powers is 'full of God.' All the subordinate spirits of the upper spheres are at his command, for he is no longer a mortal, but himself a god. In his Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul remarks that 'the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.' "
Some persons have the natural and some the acquired power of withdrawing the inner from the outer body, at will, and causing it to perform long journeys, and be seen by those whom it visits. Numerous are the instances recorded by unimpeachable witnesses of the "doubles" of persons having been seen and conversed with, hundreds of miles from the places where the persons themselves were known to be. Hermotimus, if we may credit Pliny and Plutarch,‡ could at will fall into a trance and then his second soul proceeded to any distant place he chose.
The Abbe Tritheim, the famous author of Steganographie, who lived in the seventeenth century, could converse with his friends by the mere power of his will. "I can make my thoughts known to the initiated,"
he wrote, "at a distance of many hundred miles, without word, writing, or cipher, by any messenger. The latter cannot betray me, for he knows nothing. If needs be, I can dispense with the messenger. If any correspondent should be buried in the deepest dungeon, I could still convey to him my thoughts as clearly and as frequently as I chose, and this quite simply, without superstition, without the aid of spirits." Cordanus could also send his spirit, or any messages he chose. When he did so, he felt "as if a door was opened, and I myself immediately passed through it, leaving the body behind me."* The case of a high German official, a counsellor Wesermann, was mentioned in a scientific paper.† He claimed to be able to cause any friend or acquaintance, at any distance, to dream of every subject he chose, or see any person he liked. His claims were proved good, and testified to on several occasions by skeptics and learned professional persons. He could also cause his double to appear wherever he liked; and be seen by several persons at one time. By whispering in their ears a sentence prepared and agreed upon beforehand by unbelievers, and for the purpose, his power to project the double was demonstrated beyond any cavil.
According to Napier, Osborne, Major Lawes, Quenouillet, Nikiforovitch, and many other modern witnesses, fakirs are now proved to be able, by a long course of diet, preparation, and repose, to bring their bodies into a condition which enables them to be buried six feet under ground for an indefinite period. Sir Claude Wade was present at the court of Rundjit Singh, when the fakir, mentioned by the Honorable Captain Osborne, was buried alive for six weeks, in a box placed in a cell three feet below the floor of the room.† To prevent the chance of deception, a guard comprising two companies of soldiers had been detailed, and four sentries "were furnished and relieved every two hours, night and day, to guard the building from intrusion. . . . On opening it," says Sir Claude, "we saw a figure enclosed in a bag of white linen fastened by a string over the head . . . the servant then began pouring warm water over the figure . . . the legs and arms of the body were shrivelled and stiff, the face full, the head reclining on the shoulder like that of a corpse. I then called to the medical gentleman who was attending me, to come down and inspect the body, which he did, but could discover no pulsation in the heart, the temples, or the arm. There was, however, a heat about the region of the brain, which no other part of the body exhibited."
Regretting that the limits of our space forbid the quotation of the
details of this interesting story, we will only add, that the process of resuscitation included bathing with hot water, friction, the removal of wax and cotton pledgets from the nostrils and ears, the rubbing of the eyelids with ghee or clarified butter, and, what will appear most curious to many, the application of a hot wheaten cake, about an inch thick "to the top of the head." After the cake had been applied for the third time, the body was violently convulsed, the nostrils became inflated, the respiration ensued, and the limbs assumed a natural fulness; but the pulsation was still faintly perceptible. "The tongue was then anointed with ghee; the eyeballs became dilated and recovered their natural color, and the fakir recognized those present and spoke." It should be noticed that not only had the nostrils and ears been plugged, but the tongue had been thrust back so as to close the gullet, thus effectually stopping the orifices against the admission of atmospheric air. While in India, a fakir told us that this was done not only to prevent the action of the air upon the organic tissues, but also to guard against the deposit of the germs of decay, which in case of suspended animation would cause decomposition exactly as they do in any other meat exposed to air. There are also localities in which a fakir would refuse to be buried; such as the many spots in Southern India infested with the white ants, which annoying termites are considered among the most dangerous enemies of man and his property. They are so voracious as to devour everything they find except perhaps metals. As to wood, there is no kind through which they would not burrow; and even bricks and mortar offer but little impediment to their formidable armies. They will patiently work through mortar, destroying it particle by particle; and a fakir, however holy himself, and strong his temporary coffin, would not risk finding his body devoured when it was time for his resuscitation.
Then, here is a case, only one of many, substantiated by the testimony of two English noblemen — one of them an army officer — and a Hindu Prince, who was as great a skeptic as themselves. It places science in this embarrassing dilemma: it must either give the lie to many unimpeachable witnesses, or admit that if one fakir can resuscitate after six weeks, any other fakir can also; and if a fakir, why not a Lazarus, a Shunamite boy, or the daughter of Jairus?*
And now, perhaps, it may not be out of place to inquire what assurance can any physician have, beyond external evidence, that the body is really dead? The best authorities agree in saying that there are none. Dr. Todd Thomson, of London,* says most positively that "the immobility of the body, even its cadaverous aspect, the coldness of surface, the absence of respiration and pulsation, and the sunken state of the eye, are no unequivocal evidences that life is wholly extinct." Nothing but total decomposition is an irrefutable proof that life has fled for ever and that the tabernacle is tenantless. Demokritus asserted that there existed no certain signs of real death.† Pliny maintained the same.‡ Asclepiades, a learned physician and one of the most distinguished men of his day, held that the assurance was still more difficult in the cases of women than in those of men.
Todd Thomson, above quoted, gives several remarkable cases of such a suspended animation. Among others he mentions a certain Francis Neville, a Norman gentleman, who twice apparently died, and was twice in the act of being buried. But, at the moment when the coffin was being lowered in the grave, he spontaneously revived. In the seventeenth century, Lady Russell, to all appearance died, and was about to be buried, but as the bell was tolling for her funeral, she sat up in her coffin and exclaimed, "It is time to go to church!" Diemerbroeck mentions a peasant who gave no signs of life for three days, but when placed in his coffin, near the grave, revived and lived many years afterward. In 1836, a respectable citizen of Brussels fell into a profound lethargy on a Sunday morning. On Monday, as his attendants were preparing to screw the lid of the coffin, the supposed corpse sat up, rubbed his eyes, and called for his coffee and a newspaper.§
Such cases of apparent death are not very infrequently reported in the newspaper press. As we write (April, 1877), we find in a London letter to the New York Times, the following paragraph: "Miss Annie Goodale, the actress, died three weeks ago. Up to yesterday she was not buried. The corpse is warm and limp, and the features as soft and mobile as when in life. Several physicians have examined her, and have ordered that the body shall be watched night and day. The poor lady is evidently in a trance, but whether she is destined to come to life it is impossible to say."
Science regards man as an aggregation of atoms temporarily united by a mysterious force called the life-principle. To the materialist, the only difference between a living and a dead body is, that in the one case, that force is active, in the other latent. When it is extinct or entirely latent the molecules obey a superior attraction, which draws them asunder and scatters them through space.
This dispersion must be death, if it is possible to conceive such a thing as death, where the very molecules of the dead body manifest an intense vital energy. If death is but the stoppage of a digesting, locomotive, and thought-grinding machine, how can death be actual and not relative, before that machine is thoroughly broken up and its particles dispersed? So long as any of them cling together, the centripetal vital force may overmatch the dispersive centrifugal action. Says Eliphas Levi: "Change attests movement, and movement only reveals life. The corpse would not decompose if it were dead; all the molecules which compose it are living and struggle to separate. And would you think that the spirit frees itself first of all to exist no more? That thought and love can die when the grossest forms of matter do not die? If the change should be called death, we die and are born again every day, for every day our forms undergo change."*
The kabalists say that a man is not dead when his body is entombed. Death is never sudden; for, according to Hermes, nothing goes in nature by violent transitions. Everything is gradual, and as it required a long and gradual development to produce the living human being, so time is required to completely withdraw vitality from the carcass. "Death can no more be an absolute end, than birth a real beginning. Birth proves the preexistence of the being, as death proves immortality," says the same French kabalist.
While implicitly believing in the restoration of the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, and in other Bible-miracles, well-educated Christians, who otherwise would feel indignant at being called superstitious, meet all such cases as that of Apollonius and the girl said by his biographer to have been recalled to life by him, with scornful skepticism. Diogenes Laertius, who mentions a woman restored to life by Empedocles, is treated with no more respect; and the name of Pagan thaumaturgist, in the eyes of Christians, is but a synonym for impostor. Our scientists are at least one degree more rational; they embrace all Bible prophets and apostles, and the heathen miracle-doers in two categories of hallucinated fools and deceitful tricksters.
But Christians and materialists might, with a very little effort on their
part, show themselves fair and logical at the same time. To produce such a miracle, they have but to consent to understand what they read, and submit it to the unprejudiced criticism of their best judgment. Let us see how far it is possible. Setting aside the incredible fiction of Lazarus, we will select two cases: the ruler's daughter, recalled to life by Jesus, and the Corinthian bride, resuscitated by Apollonius. In the former case, totally disregarding the significant expression of Jesus — "She is not dead but sleepeth," the clergy force their god to become a breaker of his own laws and grant unjustly to one what he denies to all others, and with no better object in view than to produce a useless miracle. In the second case, notwithstanding the words of the biographer of Apollonius, so plain and precise that there is not the slightest cause to misunderstand them, they charge Philostratus with deliberate imposture. Who could be fairer than he, who less open to the charge of mystification, when, in describing the resuscitation of the young girl by the Tyanian sage, in the presence of a large concourse of people, the biographer says, "she had seemed to die."
In other words, he very clearly indicates a case of suspended animation; and then adds immediately, "as the rain fell very fast on the young girl," while she was being carried to the pile, "with her face turned upwards, this, also, might have excited her senses."* Does this not show most plainly that Philostratus saw no miracle in that resuscitation? Does it not rather imply, if anything, the great learning and skill of Apollonius, "who like Asclepiades had the merit of distinguishing at a glance between real and apparent death"?†
A resuscitation, after the soul and spirit have entirely separated from the body, and the last electric thread is severed, is as impossible as for a once disembodied spirit to reincarnate itself once more on this earth, except as described in previous chapters. "A leaf, once fallen off, does not reattach itself to the branch," says Eliphas Levi. "The caterpillar becomes a butterfly, but the butterfly does not again return to the grub. Nature closes the door behind all that passes, and pushes life forward. Forms pass, thought remains, and does not recall that which it has once exhausted."‡
Why should it be imagined that Asclepiades and Apollonius enjoyed exceptional powers for the discernment of actual death? Has any modern school of medicine this knowledge to impart to its students? Let their authorities answer for them. These prodigies of Jesus and Apollo-
nius are so well attested that they appear authentic. Whether in either or both cases life was simply suspended or not, the important fact remains that by some power, peculiar to themselves, both the wonder-workers recalled the seemingly dead to life in an instant.*
Is it because the modern physician has not yet found the secret which the theurgists evidently possessed that its possibility is denied?
Neglected as psychology now is, and with the strangely chaotic state in which physiology is confessed to be by its most fair students, certainly it is not very likely that our men of science will soon rediscover the lost knowledge of the ancients. In the days of old, when prophets were not treated as charlatans, nor thaumaturgists as impostors, there were colleges instituted for teaching prophecy and occult sciences in general. Samuel is recorded as the chief of such an institution at Ramah; Elisha, also, at Jericho. The schools of hazim, prophets or seers, were celebrated throughout the country. Hillel had a regular academy, and Socrates is well known to have sent away several of his disciples to study manticism. The study of magic, or wisdom, included every branch of science, the metaphysical as well as the physical, psychology and physiology in their common and occult phases, and the study of alchemy was universal, for it was both a physical and a spiritual science. Therefore why doubt or wonder that the ancients, who studied nature under its double aspect, achieved discoveries which to our modern physicists, who study but its dead letter, are a closed book?
Thus, the question at issue is not whether a dead body can be resuscitated — for, to assert that would be to assume the possibility of a miracle, which is absurd — but, to assure ourselves whether the medical authorities pretend to determine the precise moment of death. The kabalists say that death occurs at the instant when both the astral body, or life-principle, and the spirit part forever with the corporeal body. The scientific physician who denies both astral body and spirit, and admits the existence of nothing more than the life-principle, judges death to occur when life is apparently extinct. When the beating of the heart and the action of the lungs cease, and rigor mortis is manifested, and especially when decomposition begins, they pronounce the patient dead. But the annals of medicine teem with examples of "suspended anima-
tion" as the result of asphyxia by drowning, the inhalation of gases and other causes; life being restored in the case of drowning persons even after they had been apparently dead for twelve hours.
In cases of somnambulic trance, none of the ordinary signs of death are lacking; breathing and the pulse are extinct; animal-heat has disappeared; the muscles are rigid, the eye glazed, and the body is colorless. In the celebrated case of Colonel Townshend, he threw himself into this state in the presence of three medical men; who, after a time, were persuaded that he was really dead, and were about leaving the room, when he slowly revived. He describes his peculiar gift by saying that he "could die or expire when he pleased, and yet, by an effort, or somehow he could come to life again."
There occurred in Moscow, a few years since, a remarkable instance of apparent death. The wife of a wealthy merchant lay in the cataleptic state seventeen days, during which the authorities made several attempts to bury her; but, as decomposition had not set in, the family averted the ceremony, and at the end of that time she was restored to life.
The above instances show that the most learned men in the medical profession are unable to be certain when a person is dead. What they call "suspended animation," is that state from which the patient spontaneously recovers, through an effort of his own spirit, which may be provoked by any one of many causes. In these cases, the astral body has not parted from the physical body; its external functions are simply suspended; the subject is in a state of torpor, and the restoration is nothing but a recovery from it.
But, in the case of what physiologists would call "real death," but which is not actually so, the astral body has withdrawn; perhaps local decomposition has set in. How shall the man be brought to life again? The answer is, the interior body must be forced back into the exterior one, and vitality reawakened in the latter. The clock has run down, it must be wound. If death is absolute; if the organs have not only ceased to act, but have lost the susceptibility of renewed action, then the whole universe would have to be thrown into chaos to resuscitate the corpse — a miracle would be demanded. But, as we said before, the man is not dead when he is cold, stiff, pulseless, breathless, and even showing signs of decomposition; he is not dead when buried, nor afterward, until a certain point is reached. That point is, when the vital organs have become so decomposed, that if reanimated, they could not perform their customary functions; when the mainspring and cogs of the machine, so to speak, are so eaten away by rust, that they would snap upon the turning of the key. Until that point is reached, the astral body may be caused, without miracle, to reenter its former tabernacle, either by an effort of its
own will, or under the resistless impulse of the will of one who knows the potencies of nature and how to direct them. The spark is not extinguished, but only latent — latent as the fire in the flint, or the heat in the cold iron.
In cases of the most profound cataleptic clairvoyance, such as obtained by Du Potet, and described very graphically by the late Prof. William Gregory, in his Letters on Animal Magnetism, the spirit is so far disengaged from the body that it would be impossible for it to reenter it without an effort of the mesmerizer's will. The subject is practically dead, and, if left to itself, the spirit would escape forever. Although independent of the torpid physical casing, the half-freed spirit is still tied to it by a magnetic cord, which is described by clairvoyants as appearing dark and smoky by contrast with the ineffable brightness of the astral atmosphere through which they look. Plutarch, relating the story of Thespesius, who fell from a great height, and lay three days apparently dead, gives us the experience of the latter during his state of partial decease. "Thespesius," says he, "then observed that he was different from the dead by whom he was surrounded. . . . They were transparent and environed by a radiance, but he seemed to trail after him a dark radiation or line of shadow." His whole description, minute and circumstantial in its details, appears to be corroborated by the clairvoyants of every period, and, so far as this class of testimony can be taken, is important. The kabalists, as we find them interpreted by Eliphas Levi, in his Science des Esprits, say that, "When a man falls into the last sleep, he is plunged at first into a sort of dream, before gaining consciousness in the other side of life. He sees, then, either in a beautiful vision, or in a terrible nightmare, the paradise or hell, in which he believed during his mortal existence. This is why it often happens, that the affrighted soul breaks violently back into the terrestrial life it has just left, and why some who were really dead, i.e., who, if left alone and quiet, would have peaceably passed away forever in a state of unconscious lethargy, when entombed too soon, reawake to life in the grave."
In this connection, the reader may perhaps recall the well-known case of the old man who had left some generous gifts in his will to his orphaned nieces; which document, just before his death, he had confided to his rich son, with injunctions to carry out his wishes. But, he had not been dead more than a few hours before the son, finding himself alone with the corpse, tore the will and burned it. The sight of this impious deed apparently recalled the hovering spirit, and the old man, rising from his couch of death, uttered a fierce malediction upon the horror-stricken wretch, and then fell back again, and yielded up his spirit — this time forever. Dion Boucicault makes use of an incident of this kind in his pow-
erful drama Louis XI.; and Charles Kean created a profound impression in the character of the French monarch, when the dead man revives for an instant and clutches the crown as the heir-apparent approaches it.
Levi says that resuscitation is not impossible while the vital organism remains undestroyed, and the astral spirit is yet within reach. "Nature," he says, "accomplishes nothing by sudden jerks, and eternal death is always preceded by a state which partakes somewhat of the nature of lethargy. It is a torpor which a great shock or the magnetism of a powerful will can overcome." He accounts in this manner for the resuscitation of the dead man thrown upon the bones of Elisha. He explains it by saying that the soul was hovering at that moment near the body; the burial party, according to tradition, were attacked by robbers; and their fright communicating itself sympathetically to it, the soul was seized with horror at the idea of its remains being desecrated, and "reentered violently into its body to raise and save it." Those who believe in the survival of the soul can see in this incident nothing of a supernatural character — it is only a perfect manifestation of natural law. To narrate to the materialist such a case, however well attested, would be but an idle talk; the theologian, always looking beyond nature for a special providence, regards it as a prodigy. Eliphas Levi says: "They attributed the resuscitation to the contact with the bones of Elisha; and worship of relics dates logically from his epoch."
Balfour Stewart is right — scientists "know nothing, or next to nothing, of the ultimate structure and properties of matter, whether organic or inorganic."
We are now on such firm ground, that we will take another step in advance. The same knowledge and control of the occult forces, including the vital force which enabled the fakir temporarily to leave and then reenter his body, and Jesus, Apollonius, and Elisha to recall their several subjects to life, made it possible for the ancient hierophants to animate statues, and cause them to act and speak like living creatures. It is the same knowledge and power which made it possible for Paracelsus to create his homunculi; for Aaron to change his rod into a serpent and a budding branch; Moses to cover Egypt with frogs and other pests; and the Egyptian theurgist of our day to vivify his pigmy Mandragora, which has physical life but no soul. It was no more wonderful that upon presenting the necessary conditions Moses should call into life large reptiles and insects, than that, under like favoring conditions, the physical scientist should call into life the small ones which he names bacteria.
And now, in connection with ancient miracle-doers and prophets, let us bring forward the claims of the modern mediums. Nearly every form of phenomena recorded in the sacred and profane histories of the world
we find them claiming to reproduce in our days. Selecting, among the variety of seeming wonders, levitation of ponderable inanimate objects as well as of human bodies, we will give our attention to the conditions under which the phenomenon is manifested. History records the names of Pagan theurgists, Christian saints, Hindu fakirs, and spiritual mediums who have been thus levitated, and who remained suspended in the air, sometimes for a considerable time. The phenomenon has not been confined to one country or epoch, but almost invariably the subjects have been religious ecstatics, adepts in magic, or, as now, spiritual mediums.
We assume the fact to be so well established as to require no labored effort on our part at this time to furnish proof that unconscious manifestations of spirit-power, as well as conscious feats of high magic, have happened in all countries, in all ages, and with hierophants as well as through irresponsible mediums. When the present perfected European civilization was yet in an inchoate state, occult philosophy, already hoary with age, speculated upon the attributes of man by analogy with those of his Creator. Individuals later, whose names will remain forever immortal, inscribed on the portal of the spiritual history of man, have afforded in their persons examples of how far could be developed the god-like powers of the microcosmos. Describing the Doctrines and Principal Teachers of the Alexandrian School, Professor A. Wilder says: "Plotinus taught that there was in the soul a returning impulse, love, which attracted it inward toward its origin and centre, the eternal good. While the person who does not understand how the soul contains the beautiful within itself will seek by laborious effort to realize beauty without, the wise man recognizes it within himself, develops the idea by withdrawal into himself, concentrating his attention, and so floating upward toward the divine fountain, the stream of which flows within him. The infinite is not known through the reason . . . but by a faculty superior to reason, by entering upon a state in which the individual, so to speak, ceases to be his finite self, in which state divine essence is communicated to him. This is ecstasy."
Of Apollonius, who asserted that he could see "the present and the future in a clear mirror," on account of his abstemious mode of life, the professor very beautifully observes: "This is what may be termed spiritual photography. The soul is the camera in which facts and events, future, past, and present, are alike fixed; and the mind becomes conscious of them. Beyond our every-day world of limits, all is as one day or state, the past and future comprised in the present."*
Were these God-like men "mediums," as the orthodox spiritualists
will have it? By no means, if by the term we understand those "sick-sensitives" who are born with a peculiar organization, and who in proportion as their powers are developed become more and more subject to the irresistible influence of miscellaneous spirits, purely human, elementary, or elemental. Unquestionably so, if we consider every individual a medium in whose magnetic atmosphere the denizens of higher invisible spheres can move, and act, and live. In such a sense every person is a medium. Mediumship may be either 1st, self-developed; 2d, by extraneous influences; or 3d, may remain latent throughout life. The reader must bear in mind the definition of the term, for, unless this is clearly understood, confusion will be inevitable. Mediumship of this kind may be either active or passive, repellent or receptive, positive or negative. Mediumship is measured by the quality of the aura with which the individual is surrounded. This may be dense, cloudy, noisome, mephitic, nauseating to the pure spirit, and attract only those foul beings who delight in it, as the eel does in turbid waters, or, it may be pure, crystalline, limpid, opalescent as the morning dew. All depends upon the moral character of the medium.
About such men as Apollonius, Iamblichus, Plotinus, and Porphyry, there gathered this heavenly nimbus. It was evolved by the power of their own souls in close unison with their spirits; by the superhuman morality and sanctity of their lives, and aided by frequent interior ecstatic contemplation. Such holy men pure spiritual influences could approach. Radiating around an atmosphere of divine beneficence, they caused evil spirits to flee before them. Not only is it not possible for such to exist in their aura, but they cannot even remain in that of obsessed persons, if the thaumaturgist exercises his will, or even approaches them. This is mediatorship, not mediumship. Such persons are temples in which dwells the spirit of the living God; but if the temple is defiled by the admission of an evil passion, thought or desire, the mediator falls into the sphere of sorcery. The door is opened; the pure spirits retire and the evil ones rush in. This is still mediatorship, evil as it is; the sorcerer, like the pure magician, forms his own aura and subjects to his will congenial inferior spirits.
But mediumship, as now understood and manifested, is a different thing. Circumstances, independent of his own volition, may, either at birth or subsequently, modify a person's aura, so that strange manifestations, physical or mental, diabolical or angelic, may take place. Such mediumship, as well as the above-mentioned mediatorship, has existed on earth since the first appearance here of living man. The former is the yielding of weak, mortal flesh to the control and suggestions of spirits and intelligences other than one's own immortal demon. It is literally
obsession and possession; and mediums who pride themselves on being the faithful slaves of their "guides," and who repudiate with indignation the idea of "controlling" the manifestations, "could not very well deny the fact without inconsistency. This mediumship is typified in the story of Eve succumbing to the reasonings of the serpent; of Pandora peeping in the forbidden casket and letting loose on the world, sorrow and evil, and by Mary Magdalene, who from having been obsessed by 'seven devils' was finally redeemed by the triumphant struggle of her immortal spirit, touched by the presence of a holy mediator, against the dweller." This mediumship, whether beneficent or maleficent, is always passive. Happy are the pure in heart, who repel unconsciously, by that very cleanness of their inner nature, the dark spirits of evil. For verily they have no other weapons of defense but that inborn goodness and purity. Mediumism, as practiced in our days, is a more undesirable gift than the robe of Nessus.
"The tree is known by its fruits." Side by side with passive mediums in the progress of the world's history, appear active mediators. We designate them by this name for lack of a better one. The ancient witches and wizards, and those who had a "familiar spirit," generally made of their gifts a trade; and the Obeah woman of En-Dor, so well defined by Henry More, though she may have killed her calf for Saul, accepted hire from other visitors. In India, the jugglers, who by the way are less so than many a modern medium, and the Essaoua or sorcerers and serpent-charmers of Asia and Africa, all exercise their gifts for money. Not so with the mediators, or hierophants. Buddha was a mendicant and refused his father's throne. The "Son of Man had not where to lay his head"; the chosen apostles provided "neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in their purses." Apollonius gave one half of his fortune to his relatives, the other half to the poor; Iamblichus and Plotinus were renowned for charity and self-denial; the fakirs, or holy mendicants, of India are fairly described by Jacolliot; the Pythagorean Essenes and Therapeutae believed their hands defiled by the contact of money. When the apostles were offered money to impart their spiritual powers, Peter, notwithstanding that the Bible shows him a coward and thrice a renegade, still indignantly spurned the offer, saying: "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." These men were mediators, guided merely by their own personal spirit, or divine soul, and availing themselves of the help of spirits but so far as these remain in the right path.
Far from us be the thought of casting an unjust slur on physical mediums. Harassed by various intelligences, reduced by the overpower-
ing influence — which their weak and nervous natures are unable to shake off — to a morbid state, which at last becomes chronic, they are impeded by these "influences" from undertaking other occupation. They become mentally and physically unfit for any other. Who can judge them harshly when, driven to the last extremity, they are constrained to accept mediumship as a business? And heaven knows, as recent events have too well proved, whether the calling is one to be envied by any one! It is not mediums, real, true, and genuine mediums that we would ever blame, but their patrons, the spiritualists.
Plotinus, when asked to attend public worship of the gods, is said to have proudly answered: "It is for them (the spirits) to come to me." Iamblichus asserted and proved in his own case, that our soul can attain communion with the highest intelligences, with "natures loftier than itself," and carefully drove away from his theurgical ceremonies* every inferior spirit, or bad daemon, which he taught his disciples to recognize. Proclus, who "elaborated the entire theosophy and theurgy of his predecessors into a complete system,"† according to Professor Wilder, "believed with Iamblichus in the attaining of a divine power, which, overcoming the mundane life, rendered the individual an organ of the Deity." He even taught that there was a "mystic password that would carry a person from one order of spiritual beings to another, higher and higher, till he arrived at the absolute divine." Apollonius spurned the sorcerers and "common soothsayers," and declared that it was his "peculiar abstemious mode of life" which "produced such an acuteness of the senses and created other faculties, so that the greatest and most remarkable things can take place." Jesus declared man the lord of the Sabbath, and at his command the terrestrial and elementary spirits fled from their temporary abodes; a power which was shared by Apollonius and many of the Brotherhood of the Essenes of Judea and Mount Carmel.
It is undeniable that there must have been some good reasons why the ancients persecuted unregulated mediums. Otherwise why, at the time of Moses and David and Samuel, should they have encouraged prophecy and divination, astrology and soothsaying, and maintained schools and colleges in which these natural gifts were strengthened and developed, while witches and those who divined by the spirit of Ob were put to death? Even at the time of Christ, the poor oppressed mediums were driven to the tombs and waste places without the city walls. Why this apparent gross injustice? Why should banishment, persecution, and death be the portion of the physical mediums of those days, and whole
communities of thaumaturgists — like the Essenes — be not merely tolerated but revered? It is because the ancients, unlike ourselves, could "try" the spirits and discern the difference between the good and the evil ones, the human and the elemental. They also knew that unregulated spirit intercourse brought ruin upon the individual and disaster to the community.
This view of mediumship may be novel and perhaps repugnant to many modern spiritualists; but still it is the view taught in the ancient philosophy, and supported by the experience of mankind from time immemorial.
It is erroneous to speak of a medium having powers developed. A passive medium has no power. He has a certain moral and physical condition which induces emanations, or an aura, in which his controlling intelligences can live, and by which they manifest themselves. He is only the vehicle through which they display their power. This aura varies day by day, and, as would appear from Mr. Crookes' experiments, even hour by hour. It is an external effect resulting from interior causes. The medium's moral state determines the kind of spirits that come; and the spirits that come reciprocally influence the medium, intellectually, physically, and morally. The perfection of his mediumship is in ratio to his passivity, and the danger he incurs is in equal degree. When he is fully "developed" — perfectly passive — his own astral spirit may be benumbed, and even crowded out of his body, which is then occupied by an elemental, or, what is worse, by a human fiend of the eighth sphere, who proceeds to use it as his own. But too often the cause of the most celebrated crime is to be sought in such possessions.
Physical mediumship depending upon passivity, its antidote suggests itself naturally; let the medium cease being passive. Spirits never control persons of positive character who are determined to resist all extraneous influences. The weak and feeble-minded whom they can make their victims they drive into vice. If these miracle-making elementals and disembodied devils called elementary were indeed the guardian angels that they have passed for, these last thirty years, why have they not given their faithful mediums at least good health and domestic happiness? Why do they desert them at the most critical moments of trial when under accusations of fraud? It is notorious that the best physical mediums are either sickly or, sometimes, what is still worse, inclined to some abnormal vice or other. Why do not these healing "guides," who make their mediums play the therapeutists and thaumaturgists to others, give them the boon of robust physical vigor? The ancient thaumaturgist and apostle, generally, if not invariably, enjoyed good health; their magnetism never conveyed to the sick patient any physical or moral taint; and they never were
accused of vampirism, which a spiritual paper very justly charges upon some medium-healers.*
If we apply the above law of mediumship and mediatorship to the subject of levitation, with which we opened our present discussion, what shall we find? Here we have a medium and one of the mediator-class levitated — the former at a seance, the latter at prayer, or in ecstatic contemplation. The medium being passive must be lifted up; the ecstatic being active must levitate himself. The former is elevated by his familiar spirits — whoever or whatever they may be — the latter, by the power of his own aspiring soul. Can both be indiscriminately termed mediums?
But nevertheless we may be answered that the same phenomena are produced in the presence of a modern medium as of an ancient saint. Undoubtedly; and so it was in the days of Moses; for we believe that the triumph claimed for him in Exodus over Pharaoh's magicians is simply a national boast on the part of the "chosen people." That the power which produced his phenomena produced that of the magicians also, who were moreover the first tutors of Moses and instructed him in their "wisdom," is most probable. But even in those days they seemed to have well appreciated the difference between phenomena apparently identical. The tutelar national deity of the Hebrews (who is not the Highest Father)† forbids expressly, in Deuteronomy,‡ his people "to learn to do after the abominations of other nations. . . . To pass through the fire, or use divination, or be an observer of times or an enchanter, or a witch, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a necromancer."
What difference was there then between all the above-enumerated phenomena as performed by the "other nations" and when enacted by the prophets? Evidently, there was some good reason for it; and we find it in John's First Epistle, iv., which says: "believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
The only standard within the reach of spiritualists and present-day mediums by which they can try the spirits, is to judge 1, by their actions and speech; 2, by their readiness to manifest themselves; and 3, whether the object in view is worthy of the apparition of a "disembodied" spirit, or can excuse any one for disturbing the dead. Saul was on the eve of destruction, himself and his sons, yet Samuel inquired of him: "Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?"* But the "intelligences" that visit the circle-rooms, come at the beck of every trifler who would while away a tedious hour.
In the number of the London Spiritualist for July 14th, we find a long article, in which the author seeks to prove that "the marvelous wonders of the present day, which belong to so-called modern spiritualism, are identical in character with the experiences of the patriarchs and apostles of old."
We are forced to contradict, point-blank, such an assertion. They are identical only so far that the same forces and occult powers of nature produce them. But though these powers and forces may be, and most assuredly are, all directed by unseen intelligences, the latter differ more in essence, character, and purposes than mankind itself, composed, as it now stands, of white, black, brown, red, and yellow men, and numbering saints and criminals, geniuses and idiots. The writer may avail himself of the services of a tame orang-outang or a South Sea islander; but the fact alone that he has a servant makes neither the latter nor himself identical with Aristotle and Alexander. The writer compares Ezekiel "lifted up" and taken into the "east gate of the Lord's house,"† with the levitations of certain mediums, and the three Hebrew youths in the "burning fiery furnace," with other fire-proof mediums; the John King "spirit-light" is assimilated with the "burning lamp" of Abraham; and finally, after many such comparisons, the case of the Davenport Brothers, released from the jail of Oswego, is confronted with that of Peter delivered from prison by the "angel of the Lord"!
Now, except the story of Saul and Samuel, there is not a case instanced in the Bible of the "evocation of the dead." As to being lawful, the assertion is contradicted by every prophet. Moses issues a decree of death against those who raise the spirits of the dead, the "necromancers." Nowhere throughout the Old Testament, nor in Homer, nor Virgil is communion with the dead termed otherwise than necromancy.
Philo Judaeus makes Saul say, that if he banishes from the land every diviner and necromancer his name will survive him.
One of the greatest reasons for it was the doctrine of the ancients, that no soul from the "abode of the blessed" will return to earth, unless, indeed, upon rare occasions its apparition might be required to accomplish some great object in view, and so bring benefit upon humanity. In this latter instance the "soul" has no need to be evoked. It sent its portentous message either by an evanescent simulacrum of itself, or through messengers, who could appear in material form, and personate faithfully the departed. The souls that could so easily be evoked were deemed neither safe nor useful to commune with. They were the souls, or larvae rather, from the infernal region of the limbo — the sheol, the region known by the kabalists as the eighth sphere, but far different from the orthodox Hell or Hades of the ancient mythologists. Horace describes this evocation and the ceremonial accompanying it, and Maimonides gives us particulars of the Jewish rite. Every necromantic ceremony was performed on high places and hills, and blood was used for the purpose of placating these human ghouls.*
"I cannot prevent the witches from picking up their bones," says the poet. "See the blood they pour in the ditch to allure the souls that will utter their oracles!"† "Cruor in fossam confusus, ut inde manes elicirent, animas responsa daturas."
"The souls," says Porphyry, "prefer, to everything else, freshly-spilt blood, which seems for a short time to restore to them some of the faculties of life."†
As for materializations, they are many and various in the sacred records. But, were they effected under the same conditions as at modern seances? Darkness, it appears, was not required in those days of patriarchs and magic powers. The three angels who appeared to Abraham drank in the full blaze of the sun, for "he sat in the tent-door in the heat of the day,"‡ says the book of Genesis. The spirits of Elias and Moses appeared equally in daytime, as it is not probable that Christ and the Apostles would be climbing a high mountain during the night. Jesus is represented as having appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden in the early morning; to the Apostles, at three distinct times, and generally by day; once "when the morning was come" (John xxi. 4). Even when the ass of Balaam saw the "materialized" angel, it was in the full light of noon.
We are fully prepared to agree with the writer in question, that we find in the life of Christ — and we may add in the Old Testament, too —
"an uninterrupted record of spiritualistic manifestations," but nothing mediumistic, of a physical character though, if we except the visit of Saul to Sedecla, the Obeah woman of En-Dor. This is a distinction of vital importance.
True, the promise of the Master was clearly stated: "Aye, and greater works than these shall ye do" — works of mediatorship. According to Joel, the time would come when there would be an outpouring of the divine spirit: "Your sons and your daughters," says he, "shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." The time has come and they do all these things now; Spiritualism has its seers and martyrs, its prophets and healers. Like Moses, and David, and Jehoram, there are mediums who have direct writings from genuine planetary and human spirits; and the best of it brings the mediums no pecuniary recompense. The greatest friend of the cause in France, Leymarie, now languishes in a prison-cell, and, as he says with touching pathos, is "no longer a man, but a number" on the prison register.
There are a few, a very few, orators on the spiritualistic platform who speak by inspiration, and if they know what is said at all they are in the condition described by Daniel: "And I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep."* And there are mediums, these whom we have spoken of, for whom the prophecy in Samuel might have been written: "The spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."† But where, in the long line of Bible-wonders, do we read of flying guitars, and tinkling tambourines, and jangling bells being offered in pitch-dark rooms as evidences of immortality?
When Christ was accused of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, he denied it, and sharply retorted by asking, "By whom do your sons or disciples cast them out?" Again, spiritualists affirm that Jesus was a medium, that he was controlled by one or many spirits; but when the charge was made to him direct he said that he was nothing of the kind. "Say we not well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" daimonion, an Obeah, or familiar spirit in the Hebrew text. Jesus answered, "I have not a devil."‡
The writer from whom we have above quoted, attempts also a parallel between the aerial flights of Philip and Ezekiel and of Mrs. Guppy and other modern mediums. He is ignorant or oblivious of the fact that
while levitation occurred as an effect in both classes of cases, the producing causes were totally dissimilar. The nature of this difference we have adverted to already. Levitation may be produced consciously or unconsciously to the subject. The juggler determines beforehand that he will be levitated, for how long a time, and to what height; he regulates the occult forces accordingly. The fakir produces the same effect by the power of his aspiration and will, and, except when in the ecstatic state, keeps control over his movements. So does the priest of Siam, when, in the sacred pagoda, he mounts fifty feet in the air with taper in hand, and flits from idol to idol, lighting up the niches, self-supported, and stepping as confidently as though he were upon solid ground. This, persons have seen and testify to. The officers of the Russian squadron which recently circumnavigated the globe, and was stationed for a long time in Japanese waters, relate the fact that, besides many other marvels, they saw jugglers walk in mid-air from tree-top to tree-top, without the slightest support.* They also saw the pole and tape-climbing feats, described by Colonel Olcott in his People from the Other World, and which have been so much called in question by certain spiritualists and mediums whose zeal is greater than their learning. The quotations from Col. Yule and other writers, elsewhere given in this work, seem to place the matter beyond doubt that these effects are produced.
Such phenomena, when occurring apart from religious rites, in India, Japan, Thibet, Siam, and other "heathen" countries, phenomena a hundred times more various and astounding than ever seen in civilized Europe or America, are never attributed to the spirits of the departed. The Pitris have naught to do with such public exhibitions. And we have but to consult the list of the principal demons or elemental spirits to find that their very names indicate their professions, or, to express it clearly, the tricks to which each variety is best adapted. So we have the Madan, a generic name indicating wicked elemental spirits, half brutes, half monsters, for Madan signifies one that looks like a cow. He is the friend of the malicious sorcerers and helps them to effect their evil purposes of revenge by striking men and cattle with sudden illness and death.
The Shudala-Madan, or graveyard fiend, answers to our ghouls. He delights where crime and murder were committed, near burial-spots and places of execution. He helps the juggler in all the fire-phenomena as well as Kutti Shattan, the little juggling imps. Shudala, they say, is a half-fire, half-water demon, for he received from Siva permission to assume any shape he chose, transform one thing into another; and when
he is not in fire, he is in water. It is he who blinds people "to see that which they do not see." Shula Madan, is another mischievous spook. He is the furnace-demon, skilled in pottery and baking. If you keep friends with him, he will not injure you; but woe to him who incurs his wrath. Shula likes compliments and flattery, and as he generally keeps underground it is to him that a juggler must look to help him raise a tree from a seed in a quarter of an hour and ripen its fruit.
Kumil-Madan, is the undine proper. He is an elemental spirit of the water, and his name means blowing like a bubble. He is a very merry imp; and will help a friend in anything relative to his department; he will shower rain and show the future and the present to those who will resort to hydromancy or divination by water.
Poruthu Madan, is the "wrestling" demon; he is the strongest of all; and whenever there are feats shown in which physical force is required, such as levitations, or taming of wild animals, he will help the performer by keeping him above the soil or will overpower a wild beast before the tamer has time to utter his incantation. So, every "physical manifestation" has its own class of elemental spirits to superintend them.
Returning now to levitations of human bodies and inanimate bodies, in modern circle-rooms, we must refer the reader to the Introductory chapter of this work. (See "AEthrobasy.") In connection with the story of Simon the Magician, we have shown the explanation of the ancients as to how the levitation and transport of heavy bodies could be produced. We will now try and suggest a hypothesis for the same in relation to mediums, i.e., persons supposed to be unconscious at the moment of the phenomena, which the believers claim to be produced by disembodied "spirits." We need not repeat that which has been sufficiently explained before. Conscious aethrobasy under magneto-electrical conditions is possible only to adepts who can never be overpowered by an influence foreign to themselves, but remain sole masters of their will.
Thus levitation, we will say, must always occur in obedience to law — a law as inexorable as that which makes a body unaffected by it remain upon the ground. And where should we seek for that law outside of the theory of molecular attraction? It is a scientific hypothesis that the form of force which first brings nebulous or star matter together into a whirling vortex is electricity; and modern chemistry is being totally reconstructed upon the theory of electric polarities of atoms. The waterspout, the tornado, the whirlwind, the cyclone, and the hurricane, are all doubtless the result of electrical action. This phenomenon has been studied from above as well as from below, observations having been made both upon the ground and from a balloon floating above the vortex of a thunder-storm.
Observe now, that this force, under the conditions of a dry and warm atmosphere at the earth's surface, can accumulate a dynamic energy capable of lifting enormous bodies of water, of compressing the particles of atmosphere, and of sweeping across a country, tearing up forests, lifting rocks, and scattering buildings in fragments over the ground. Wild's electric machine causes induced currents of magneto-electricity so enormously powerful as to produce light by which small print may be read, on a dark night, at a distance of two miles from the place where it is operating.
As long ago as the year 1600, Gilbert, in his De Magnete, enunciated the principle that the globe itself is one vast magnet, and some of our advanced electricians are now beginning to realize that man, too, possesses this property, and that the mutual attractions and repulsions of individuals toward each other may at least in part find their explanation in this fact. The experience of attendants upon spiritualistic circles corroborates this opinion. Says Professor Nicholas Wagner, of the University of St. Petersburg: "Heat, or perhaps the electricity of the investigators sitting in the circle, must concentrate itself in the table and gradually develop into motions. At the same time, or a little afterward, the psychical force unites to assist the two other powers. By psychical force, I mean that which evolves itself out of all the other forces of our organism. The combination into one general something of several separate forces, and capable, when combined, of manifesting itself in degree, according to the individuality." The progress of the phenomena he considers to be affected by the cold or the dryness of the atmosphere. Now, remembering what has been said as to the subtler forms of energy which the Hermetists have proved to exist in nature, and accepting the hypothesis enunciated by Mr. Wagner that "the power which calls out these manifestations is centred in the mediums," may not the medium, by furnishing in himself a nucleus as perfect in its way as the system of permanent steel magnets in Wild's battery, produce astral currents sufficiently strong to lift in their vortex a body even as ponderable as a human form? It is not necessary that the object lifted should assume a gyratory motion, for the phenomenon we are observing, unlike the whirlwind, is directed by an intelligence, which is capable of keeping the body to be raised within the ascending current and preventing its rotation.
Levitation in this case would be a purely mechanical phenomenon. The inert body of the passive medium is lifted by a vortex created either by the elemental spirits — possibly, in some cases, by human ones, and sometimes through purely morbific causes, as in the cases of Professor Perty's sick somnambules. The levitation of the adept is, on the contrary, a magneto-electric effect, as we have just stated. He has made
the polarity of his body opposite to that of the atmosphere, and identical with that of the earth; hence, attractable by the former, retaining his consciousness the while. A like phenomenal levitation is possible, also, when disease has changed the corporeal polarity of a patient, as disease always does in a greater or lesser degree. But, in such case, the lifted person would not be likely to remain conscious.
In one series of observations upon whirlwinds, made in 1859, in the basin of the Rocky Mountains, "a newspaper was caught up . . . to a height of some two hundred feet; and there it oscillated to and fro across the track for some considerable time, whilst accompanying the onward motion."* Of course scientists will say that a parallel cannot be instituted between this case and that of human levitation; that no vortex can be formed in a room by which a medium could be raised; but this is a question of astral light and spirit, which have their own peculiar dynamical laws. Those who understand the latter, affirm that a concourse of people laboring under mental excitement, which reacts upon the physical system, throw off electromagnetic emanations, which, when sufficiently intense, can throw the whole circumambient atmosphere into perturbation. Force enough may actually be generated to create an electrical vortex, sufficiently powerful to produce many a strange phenomenon. With this hint, the whirling of the dervishes, and the wild dances, swayings, gesticulations, music, and shouts of devotees will be understood as all having a common object in view — namely, the creation of such astral conditions as favor psychological and physical phenomena. The rationale of religious revivals will also be better understood if this principle is borne in mind.
But there is still another point to be considered. If the medium is a nucleus of magnetism and a conductor of that force, he would be subject to the same laws as a metallic conductor, and be attracted to his magnet. If, therefore, a magnetic centre of the requisite power was formed directly over him by the unseen powers presiding over the manifestations, why should not his body be lifted toward it, despite terrestrial gravity? We know that, in the case of a medium who is unconscious of the progress of the operation, it is necessary to first admit the fact of such an intelligence, and next, the possibility of the experiment being conducted as described; but, in view of the multifarious evidences offered, not only in
our own researches, which claim no authority, but also in those of Mr. Crookes, and a great number of others, in many lands and at different epochs, we shall not turn aside from the main object of offering this hypothesis in the profitless endeavor to strengthen a case which scientific men will not consider with patience, even when sanctioned by the most distinguished of their own body.
As early as 1836, the public was apprised of certain phenomena which were as extraordinary, if not more so than all the manifestations which are produced in our days. The famous correspondence between two well-known mesmerizers, Deleuze and Billot, was published in France, and the wonders discussed for a time in every society. Billot firmly believed in the apparition of spirits, for, as he says, he has both seen, heard, and felt them. Deleuze was as much convinced of this truth as Billot, and declared that man's immortality and the return of the dead, or rather of their shadows, was the best demonstrated fact in his opinion. Material objects were brought to him from distant places by invisible hands, and he communicated on most important subjects with the invisible intelligences. "In regard to this," he remarks, "I cannot conceive how spiritual beings are able to carry material objects." More skeptical, less intuitional than Billot, nevertheless, he agreed with the latter that "the question of spiritualism is not one of opinions, but of facts."
Such is precisely the conclusion to which Professor Wagner, of St. Petersburg, was finally driven. In the second pamphlet on Mediumistic Phenomena, issued by him in December, 1875, he administers the following rebuke to Mr. Shkliarevsky, one of his materialistic critics: "So long as the spiritual manifestations were weak and sporadic, we men of science could afford to deceive ourselves with theories of unconscious muscular action, or unconscious cerebrations of our brains, and tumble the rest into one heap as juggleries. . . . But now these wonders have grown too striking; the spirits show themselves in the shape of tangible, materialized forms, which can be touched and handled at will by any learned skeptic like yourself, and even be weighed and measured. We can struggle no longer, for every resistance becomes absurd — it threatens lunacy. Try then to realize this, and to humble yourself before the possibility of impossible facts."
Iron is only magnetized temporarily, but steel permanently, by contact with the lodestone. Now steel is but iron which has passed through a carbonizing process, and yet that process has quite changed the nature of the metal, so far as its relations to the lodestone are concerned. In like manner, it may be said that the medium is but an ordinary person who is magnetized by influx from the astral light; and as the permanence
of the magnetic property in the metal is measured by its more or less steel-like character, so may we not say that the intensity and permanency of mediumistic power is in proportion to the saturation of the medium with the magnetic or astral force?
This condition of saturation may be congenital, or brought about in anyone of these ways: — by the mesmeric process; by spirit-agency; or by self-will. Moreover, the condition seems hereditable, like any other physical or mental peculiarity; many, and we may even say most great mediums having had mediumship exhibited in some form by one or more progenitors. Mesmeric subjects easily pass into the higher forms of clairvoyance and mediumship (now so called), as Gregory, Deleuze, Puysegur, Du Potet, and other authorities inform us. As to the process of self-saturation, we have only to turn to the account of the priestly devotees of Japan, Siam, China, India, Thibet, and Egypt, as well as of European countries, to be satisfied of its reality. Long persistence in a fixed determination to subjugate matter, brings about a condition in which not only is one insensible to external impressions, but even death itself may be simulated, as we have already seen. The ecstatic so enormously reinforces his will-power, as to draw into himself, as into a vortex, the potencies resident in the astral light to supplement his own natural store.
The phenomena of mesmerism are explicable upon no other hypothesis than the projection of a current of force from the operator into the subject. If a man can project this force by an exercise of the will, what prevents his attracting it toward himself by reversing the current? Unless, indeed, it be urged that the force is generated within his body and cannot be attracted from any supply without. But even under such an hypothesis, if he can generate a superabundant supply to saturate another person, or even an inanimate object by his will, why cannot he generate it in excess for self-saturation?
In his work on Anthropology, Professor J. R. Buchanan notes the tendency of the natural gestures to follow the direction of the phrenological organs; the attitude of combativeness being downward and backward; that of hope and spirituality upward and forward; that of firmness upward and backward; and so on. The adepts of Hermetic science know this principle so well that they explain the levitation of their own bodies, whenever it happens unawares, by saying that the thought is so intently fixed upon a point above them, that when the body is thoroughly imbued with the astral influence, it follows the mental aspiration and rises into the air as easily as a cork held beneath the water rises to the surface when its buoyancy is allowed to assert itself. The giddiness felt by certain persons when standing upon the brink of a chasm is explained upon
the same principle. Young children, who have little or no active imagination, and in whom experience has not had sufficient time to develop fear, are seldom, if ever, giddy; but the adult of a certain mental temperament, seeing the chasm and picturing in his imaginative fancy the consequences of a fall, allows himself to be drawn by the attraction of the earth, and unless the spell of fascination be broken, his body will follow his thought to the foot of the precipice.
That this giddiness is purely a temperamental affair, is shown in the fact that some persons never experience the sensation, and inquiry will probably reveal the fact that such are deficient in the imaginative faculty. We have a case in view — a gentleman who, in 1858, had so firm a nerve that he horrified the witnesses by standing upon the coping of the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, with folded arms, and his feet half over the edge; but, having since become short-sighted, was taken with a panic upon attempting to cross a plank-walk over the courtyard of a hotel, where the footway was more than two feet and a half wide, and there was no danger. He looked at the flagging below, gave his fancy free play, and would have fallen had he not quickly sat down.
It is a dogma of science that perpetual motion is impossible; it is another dogma, that the allegation that the Hermetists discovered the elixir of life, and that certain of them, by partaking of it, prolonged their existence far beyond the usual term, is a superstitious absurdity. And the claim that the baser metals have been transmuted into gold, and that the universal solvent was discovered, excites only contemptuous derision in a century which has crowned the edifice of philosophy with a cope-stone of protoplasm. The first is declared a physical impossibility; as much so, according to Babinet, the astronomer, as the "levitation of an object without contact";* the second, a physiological vagary begotten of a disordered mind; the third, a chemical absurdity.
Balfour Stewart says that while the man of science cannot assert that "he is intimately acquainted with all the forces of nature, and cannot prove that perpetual motion is impossible; for, in truth, he knows very little of these forces . . . he does think that he has entered into the spirit and design of nature, and therefore he denies at once the possibility of such a machine."† If he has discovered the design of nature, he certainly has not the spirit, for he denies its existence in one sense; and denying spirit he prevents that perfect understanding of universal law which would redeem modern philosophy from its thousand mortifying dilemmas and mistakes. If Professor B. Stewart's negation is founded
upon no better analogy than that of his French contemporary, Babinet, he is in danger of a like humiliating catastrophe. The universe itself illustrates the actuality of perpetual motion; and the atomic theory, which has proved such a balm to the exhausted minds of our cosmic explorers, is based upon it. The telescope searching through space, and the microscope probing the mysteries of the little world in a drop of water, reveal the same law in operation; and, as everything below is like everything above, who would presume to say that when the conservation of energy is better understood, and the two additional forces of the kabalists are added to the catalogue of orthodox science, it may not be discovered how to construct a machine which shall run without friction and supply itself with energy in proportion to its wastes? "Fifty years ago," says the venerable Mr. de Lara, "a Hamburg paper, quoting from an English one an account of the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway, pronounced it a gross fabrication; capping the climax by saying, 'even so far extends the credulity of the English' "; the moral is apparent. The recent discovery of the compound called METALLINE, by an American chemist, makes it appear probable that friction can, in a large degree, be overcome. One thing is certain, when a man shall have discovered the perpetual motion he will be able to understand by analogy all the secrets of nature; progress in direct ratio with resistance.
We may say the same of the elixir of life, by which is understood physical life, the soul being of course deathless only by reason of its divine immortal union with spirit. But continual or perpetual does not mean endless. The kabalists have never claimed that either an endless physical life or unending motion is possible. The Hermetic axiom maintains that only the First Cause and its direct emanations, our spirits (scintillas from the eternal central sun which will be reabsorbed by it at the end of time) are incorruptible and eternal. But, in possession of a knowledge of occult natural forces, yet undiscovered by the materialists, they asserted that both physical life and mechanical motion could be prolonged indefinitely. The philosophers' stone had more than one meaning attached to its mysterious origin. Says Professor Wilder: "The study of alchemy was even more universal than the several writers upon it appear to have known, and was always the auxiliary of, if not identical with, the occult sciences of magic, necromancy, and astrology; probably from the same fact that they were originally but forms of a spiritualism which was generally extant in all ages of human history."
Our greatest wonder is, that the very men who view the human body simply as a "digesting machine," should object to the idea that if some equivalent for metalline could be applied between its molecules, it
should run without friction. Man's body is taken from the earth, or dust, according to Genesis; which allegory bars the claims of modern analysts to original discovery of the nature of the inorganic constituents of human body. If the author of Genesis knew this, and Aristotle taught the identity between the life-principle of plants, animals, and men, our affiliation with mother earth seems to have been settled long ago.
Elie de Beaumont has recently reasserted the old doctrine of Hermes that there is a terrestrial circulation comparable to that of the blood of man. Now, since it is a doctrine as old as time, that nature is continually renewing her wasted energies by absorption from the source of energy, why should the child differ from the parent? Why may not man, by discovering the source and nature of this recuperative energy, extract from the earth herself the juice or quintessence with which to replenish his own forces? This may have been the great secret of the alchemists. Stop the circulation of the terrestrial fluids and we have stagnation, putrefaction, death; stop the circulation of the fluids in man, and stagnation, absorption, calcification from old age, and death ensue. If the alchemists had simply discovered some chemical compound capable of keeping the channels of our circulation unclogged, would not all the rest easily follow? And why, we ask, if the surface-waters of certain mineral springs have such virtue in the cure of disease and the restoration of physical vigor, is it illogical to say that if we could get the first runnings from the alembic of nature in the bowels of the earth, we might, perhaps, find that the fountain of youth was no myth after all. Jennings asserts that the elixir was produced out of the secret chemical laboratories of nature by some adepts; and Robert Boyle, the chemist, mentions a medicated wine or cordial which Dr. Lefevre tried with wonderful effect upon an old woman.
Alchemy is as old as tradition itself. "The first authentic record on this subject," says William Godwin, "is an edict of Diocletian, about 300 years after Christ, ordering a diligent search to be made in Egypt for all the ancient books which treated of the art of making gold and silver, that they might be consigned to the flames. This edict necessarily presumes a certain antiquity to the pursuit; and fabulous history has recorded Solomon, Pythagoras, and Hermes among its distinguished votaries."
And this question of transmutation — this alkahest or universal solvent, which comes next after the elixir vitae in the order of the three alchemical agents? Is the idea so absurd as to be totally unworthy of consideration in this age of chemical discovery? How shall we dispose of the historical anecdotes of men who actually made gold and gave it away, and of those who testify to having seen them do it? Libavius,
Geberus, Arnoldus, Thomas Aquinas, Bernardus Comes, Joannes, Penotus, Quercetanus Geber, the Arabian father of European alchemy, Eugenius Philalethes, Baptista Porta, Rubeus, Dornesius, Vogelius, Irenaeus Philaletha Cosmopolita, and many mediaeval alchemists and Hermetic philosophers assert the fact. Must we believe them all visionaries and lunatics, these otherwise great and learned scholars? Francesco Picus, in his work De Auro, gives eighteen instances of gold being produced in his presence by artificial means; and Thomas Vaughan,* going to a goldsmith to sell 1,200 marks worth of gold, when the man suspiciously remarked that the gold was too pure to have ever come out of a mine, ran away, leaving the money behind him. In a preceding chapter we have brought forward the testimony of a number of authors to this effect.
Marco Polo tells us that in some mountains of Thibet, which he calls Chingintalas, there are veins of the substance from which Salamander is made: "For the real truth is, that the salamander is no beast, as they allege in our parts of the world, but is a substance found in the earth."† Then he adds that a Turk of the name of Zurficar, told him that he had been procuring salamanders for the Great Khan, in those regions, for the space of three years. "He said that the way they got them was by digging in that mountain till they found a certain vein. The substance of this vein was then taken and crushed, and, when so treated, it divides, as it were, into fibres of wool, which they set forth to dry. When dry, these fibres were pounded and washed, so as to leave only the fibres, like fibres of wool. These were then spun. . . . When first made, these napkins are not very white, but, by putting them into the fire for a while, they come out as white as snow."
Therefore, as several authorities testify, this mineral substance is the famous Asbestos,‡ which the Rev. A. Williamson says is found in Shantung. But, it is not only incombustible thread which is made from it. An oil, having several most extraordinary properties, is extracted from it, and the secret of its virtues remains with certain lamas and Hindu adepts. When rubbed into the body, it leaves no external stain or mark, but, nevertheless, after having been so rubbed, the part can be scrubbed with soap and hot or cold water, without the virtue of the ointment being affected in the least. The person so rubbed may boldly step into the hottest fire; unless suffocated, he will remain uninjured. Another property of the oil is that, when combined with another substance, that we are
not at liberty to name, and left stagnant under the rays of the moon, on certain nights indicated by native astrologers, it will breed strange creatures. Infusoria we may call them in one sense, but then these grow and develop. Speaking of Kashmere, Marco Polo observes that they have an astonishing acquaintance with the devilries of enchantment, insomuch that they make their idols to speak.
To this day, the greatest magian mystics of these regions may be found in Kashmere. The various religious sects of this country were always credited with preternatural powers, and were the resort of adepts and sages. As Colonel Yule remarks, "Vambery tells us that even in our day, the Kasmiri dervishes are preeminent among their Mahometan brethren for cunning, secret arts, skill in exorcisms and magic."*
But, all modern chemists are not equally dogmatic in their negation of the possibility of such a transmutation. Dr. Peisse, Desprez, and even the all-denying Louis Figuier, of Paris, seem to be far from rejecting the idea. Dr. Wilder says: "The possibility of reducing the elements to their primal form, as they are supposed to have existed in the igneous mass from which the earth-crust is believed to have been formed, is not considered by physicists to be so absurd an idea as has been intimated. There is a relationship between metals, often so close as to indicate an original identity. Persons called alchemists may, therefore, have devoted their energies to investigations into these matters, as Lavoisier, Davy, Faraday, and others of our day have explained the mysteries of chemistry."† A learned Theosophist, a practicing physician of this country, one who has studied the occult sciences and alchemy for over thirty years, has succeeded in reducing the elements to their primal form, and made what is termed "the pre-Adamite earth." It appears in the form of an earthy precipitate from pure water, which, on being disturbed, presents the most opalescent and vivid colors.
"The secret," say the alchemists, as if enjoying the ignorance of the uninitiated, "is an amalgamation of the salt, sulphur, and mercury combined three times in Azoth, by a triple sublimation and a triple fixation."
"How ridiculously absurd!" will exclaim a learned modern chemist. Well, the disciples of the great Hermes understand the above as well as a graduate of Harvard University comprehends the meaning of his Professor of Chemistry, when the latter says: "With one hydroxyl group we can only produce monatomic compounds; use two hydroxyl groups, and we can form around the same skeleton a number of diatomic compounds.
. . . Attach to the nucleus three hydroxyl groups, and there result triatomic compounds, among which is a very familiar substance
"Attach thyself," says the alchemist, "to the four letters of the tetragram disposed in the following manner:
The letters of the ineffable name are there, although thou mayest not discern them at first. The incommunicable axiom is kabalistically contained therein, and this is what is called the magic arcanum by the masters." The arcanum — the fourth emanation of the Akasa, the principle of Life, which is represented in its third transmutation by the fiery sun, the eye of the world, or of Osiris, as the Egyptians termed it. An eye tenderly watching its youngest daughter, wife, and sister — Isis, our mother earth. See what Hermes, the thrice-great master, says of her: "Her father is the sun, her mother is the moon." It attracts and caresses, and then repulses her by a projectile power. It is for the Hermetic student to watch its motions, to catch its subtile currents, to guide and direct them with the help of the athanor, the Archimedean lever of the alchemist. What is this mysterious athanor? Can the physicist tell us — he who sees and examines it daily? Aye, he sees; but does he comprehend the secret-ciphered characters traced by the divine finger on every sea-shell in the ocean's deep; on every leaf that trembles in the breeze; in the bright star, whose stellar lines are in his sight but so many more or less luminous lines of hydrogen?
"God geometrizes," said Plato.* "The laws of nature are the thoughts
of God"; exclaimed Oersted, 2,000 years later. "His thoughts are immutable," repeated the solitary student of Hermetic lore, "therefore it is in the perfect harmony and equilibrium of all things that we must seek the truth." And thus, proceeding from the indivisible unity, he found emanating from it two contrary forces, each acting through the other and producing equilibrium, and the three were but one, the Pythagorean Eternal Monad. The primordial point is a circle; the circle squaring itself from the four cardinal points becomes a quaternary, the perfect square, having at each of its four angles a letter of the mirific name, the sacred tetragram. It is the four Buddhas who came and have passed away; the Pythagorean tetractys — absorbed and resolved by the one eternal NO-BEING.
Tradition declares that on the dead body of Hermes, at Hebron, was found by an Isarim, an initiate, the tablet known as the Smaragdine. It contains, in a few sentences, the essence of the Hermetic wisdom. To those who read but with their bodily eyes, the precepts will suggest nothing new or extraordinary, for it merely begins by saying that it speaks not fictitious things, but that which is true and most certain.
This mysterious thing is the universal, magical agent, the astral light, which in the correlations of its forces furnishes the alkahest, the philoso-
pher's stone, and the elixir of life. Hermetic philosophy names it Azoth, the soul of the world, the celestial virgin, the great Magnes, etc., etc. Physical science knows it as "heat, light, electricity, and magnetism"; but ignoring its spiritual properties and the occult potency contained in ether, rejects everything it ignores. It explains and depicts the crystalline forms of the snow-flakes, their modifications of an hexagonal prism which shoot out an infinity of delicate needles. It has studied them so perfectly that it has even calculated, with the most wondrous mathematical precision, that all these needles diverge from each other at an angle of 60 [[degrees]]. Can it tell us as well the cause of this "endless variety of the most exquisite forms,"* each of which is a most perfect geometrical figure in itself? These frozen, starlike and flower-like blossoms, may be, for all materialistic science knows, a shower of messages snowed by spiritual hands from the worlds above for spiritual eyes below to read.
The philosophical cross, the two lines running in opposite directions, the horizontal and the perpendicular, the height and breadth, which the geometrizing Deity divides at the intersecting point, and which forms the magical as well as the scientific quaternary, when it is inscribed within the perfect square, is the basis of the occultist. Within its mystical precinct lies the master-key which opens the door of every science, physical as well as spiritual. It symbolizes our human existence, for the circle of life circumscribes the four points of the cross, which represent in succession birth, life, death, and immortality. Everything in this world is a trinity completed by the quaternary,† and every element is divisible on this same principle. Physiology can divide man ad infinitum, as physical science has divided the four primal and principal elements in several dozens of others; she will not succeed in changing either. Birth, life, and death will ever be a trinity completed only at the cyclic end. Even were science to change the longed-for immortality into annihilation, it still will ever be a quaternary; for God "geometrizes!"
Therefore, perhaps alchemy will one day be allowed to talk of her salt, mercury, sulphur, and azoth, her symbols and mirific letters, and repeat, with the exponent of the Synthesis of Organic Compounds, that "it must be remembered that the grouping is no play of fancy, and that a good reason can be given for the position of every letter."‡
Dr. Peisse, of Paris, wrote in 1863, the following:
"One word, a propos, of alchemy. What must we think of the Her-
metic art? Is it lawful to believe that we can transmute metals, make gold? Well, positive men, esprits forts of the nineteenth century, know that Mr. Figuier, doctor of science and medicine, chemical analyst in the School of Pharmacy, of Paris, does not wish to express himself upon the subject. He doubts, he hesitates. He knows several alchemists (for there are such) who, basing themselves upon modern chemical discoveries, and especially on the singular circumstance of the equivalents demonstrated by M. Dumas, pretend that metals are not simple bodies, true elements in the absolute sense, and that in consequence they may be produced by the process of decomposition. . . . This encourages me to take a step further, and candidly avow that I would be only moderately surprised to see some one make gold. I have only one reason to give, but sufficient it seems; which is, that gold has not always existed; it has been made by some chemical travail or other in the bosom of the fused matter of our globe;* perhaps some of it may be even now in process of formation. The pretended simple bodies of our chemistry are very probably secondary products, in the formation of the terrestrial mass. It has been proved so with water, one of the most respectable elements of ancient physics. To-day, we create water. Why should we not make gold? An eminent experimentalist, Mr. Desprez, has made the diamond. True, this diamond is only a scientific diamond, a philosophical diamond, which would be worth nothing; but, no matter, my position holds good. Besides, we are not left to simple conjectures. There is a man living, who, in a paper addressed to the scientific bodies, in 1853, has underscored these words — I have discovered the method of producing artificial gold, I have made gold. This adept is Mr. Theodore Tiffereau, ex-preparator of chemistry in the Ecole Professionelle et Superieure of Nantes."† Cardinal de Rohan, the famous victim of the diamond necklace conspiracy, testified that he had seen the Count Cagliostro make both gold and diamonds. We presume that those who agree with Professor T. Sterry Hunt, F.R.S., will have no patience with the theory of Dr. Peisse, for they believe that all of our metalliferous deposits are due to the action of organic life. And so, until they do come to some composition of their differences, so as to let us know for a certainty the nature of gold, and whether it is the product of interior volcanic alchemy or surface segregation and filtration, we will leave them to settle their quarrel between themselves, and give credit meanwhile to the old philosophers.
Professor Balfour Stewart, whom no one would think of classing among illiberal minds; who, with far more fairness and more frequently than any of his colleagues admits the failings of modern science, shows himself, nevertheless, as biassed as other scientists on this question. Perpetual light being only another name for perpetual motion, he tells us, and the latter being impossible because we have no means of equilibrating the waste of combustible material, a Hermetic light is, therefore, an impossibility.* Noting the fact that a "perpetual light was supposed to result from magical powers," and remarking further that such a light is "certainly not of this earth, where light and all other forms of superior energy are essentially evanescent," this gentleman argues as though the Hermetic philosophers had always claimed that the flame under discussion was an ordinary earthly flame, resulting from the combustion of luminiferous material. In this the philosophers have been constantly misunderstood and misrepresented.
How many great minds — unbelievers from the start — after having studied the "secret doctrine," have changed their opinions and found out how mistaken they were. And how contradictory it seems to find one moment Balfour Stewart quoting some philosophical morals of Bacon — whom he terms the father of experimental science — and saying " . . . surely we ought to learn a lesson from these remarks . . . and be very cautious before we dismiss any branch of knowledge or train of thought as essentially unprofitable," and then dismissing the next moment, as utterly impossible, the claims of the alchemists! He shows Aristotle as "entertaining the idea that light is not any body, or the emanation of any body, and that therefore light is an energy or act"; and yet, although the ancients were the first to show, through Demokritus, to John Dalton the doctrine of atoms, and through Pythagoras and even the oldest of the Chaldean oracles, that of ether as a universal agent, their ideas, says Stewart, "were not prolific." He admits that they "possessed great genius and intellectual power," but adds that "they were deficient in physical conceptions, and, in consequence, their ideas were not prolific."†
The whole of the present work is a protest against such a loose way of judging the ancients. To be thoroughly competent to criticise their ideas, and assure one's self whether their ideas were distinct and "appropriate to the facts," one must have sifted these ideas to the very bottom. It is idle to repeat that which we have frequently said, and that which every scholar ought to know; namely, that the quintessence of their knowledge was in the hands of the priests, who never wrote them, and in those of the "initiates" who, like Plato, did not dare write them.
Therefore, those few speculations on the material and spiritual universes, which they did put in writing, could not enable posterity to judge them rightly, even had not the early Christian Vandals, the later crusaders, and the fanatics of the middle ages destroyed three parts of that which remained of the Alexandrian library and its later schools. Professor Draper shows that the Cardinal Ximenes alone "delivered to the flames in the squares of Granada, 80,000 Arabic manuscripts, many of them translations of classical authors." In the Vatican libraries, whole passages in the most rare and precious treatises of the ancients were found erased and blotted out, for the sake of interlining them with absurd psalmodies!
Who then, of those who turn away from the "secret doctrine" as being "unphilosophical" and, therefore, unworthy of a scientific thought, has a right to say that he studied the ancients; that he is aware of all that they knew, and knowing now far more, knows also that they knew little, if anything. This "secret doctrine" contains the alpha and the omega of universal science; therein lies the corner and the keystone of all the ancient and modern knowledge; and alone in this "unphilosophical" doctrine remains buried the absolute in the philosophy of the dark problems of life and death.
"The great energies of Nature are known to us only by their effects," said Paley. Paraphrasing the sentence, we will say that the great achievements of the days of old are known to posterity only by their effects. If one takes a book on alchemy, and sees in it the speculations on gold and light by the brothers of the Rosie Cross, he will find himself certainly startled, for the simple reason that he will not understand them at all. "The Hermetic gold," he may read, "is the outflow of the sunbeam, or of light suffused invisibly and magically into the body of the world. Light is sublimated gold, rescued magically by invisible stellar attraction, out of material depths. Gold is thus the deposit of light, which of itself generates. Light in the celestial world is subtile, vaporous, magically exalted gold, or 'spirit of flame.' Gold draws inferior natures in the metals, and intensifying and multiplying, converts into itself."*
Nevertheless, facts are facts; and, as Billot says of spiritualism, we will remark of occultism generally and of alchemy in particular — it is not a matter of opinion but of facts, men of science call an inextinguishable lamp an impossibility, but nevertheless persons in our own age as well as in the days of ignorance and superstition have found them burning bright in old vaults shut up for centuries; and other persons there are who
possess the secret of keeping such fires for several ages. Men of science say that ancient and modern spiritualism, magic, and mesmerism, are charlatanry or delusion; but there are 800 millions on the face of the globe, of perfectly sane men and women, who believe in all these. Whom are we to credit?
"Demokritus," says Lucian,* "believed in no (miracles) . . . he applied himself to discover the method by which the theurgists could produce them; in a word, his philosophy brought him to the conclusion that magic was entirely confined to the application and the imitation of the laws and the works of nature."
Now, the opinion of the "laughing philosopher" is of the greatest importance to us, since the Magi left by Xerxes, at Abdera, were his instructors, and he had studied magic, moreover, for a considerably long time with the Egyptian priests.† For nearly ninety years of the one hundred and nine of his life, this great philosopher had made experiments, and noted them down in a book, which, according to Petronius,‡ treated of nature — facts that he had verified himself. And we find him not only disbelieving in and utterly rejecting miracles, but asserting that every one of those that were authenticated by eye-witnesses, had, and could have taken place; for all, even the most incredible, was produced according to the "hidden laws of nature."§
"The day will never come, when any one of the propositions of Euclid will be denied,"|| says Professor Draper, exalting the Aristoteleans at the expense of the Pythagoreans and Platonists. Shall we, in such a case, disbelieve a number of well-informed authorities (Lempriere among others), who assert that the fifteen books of the Elements are not to be wholly attributed to Euclid; and that many of the most valuable truths and demonstrations contained in them owe their existence to Pythagoras, Thales, and Eudoxus? That Euclid, notwithstanding his genius, was the first who reduced them to order, and only interwove theories of his own to render the whole a complete and connected system of geometry? And if these authorities are right, then it is again to that central sun of metaphysical science — Pythagoras and his school, that the moderns are indebted directly for such men as Eratosthenes, the world-famous geometer and cosmographer, Archimedes, and even Ptolemy, notwithstanding his obstinate errors. Were it not for the exact science of such men, and for fragments of their works that they left us to base Galilean speculations upon, the great priests of the nineteenth century
might find themselves, perhaps, still in the bondage of the Church; and philosophizing, in 1876, on the Augustine and Bedean cosmogony, the rotation of the canopy of heaven round the earth, and the majestic flatness of the latter.
The nineteenth century seems positively doomed to humiliating confessions. Feltre (Italy) erects a public statue "to Panfilo Castaldi, the illustrious inventor of movable printing types," and adds in its inscription the generous confession that Italy renders to him "this tribute of honor too long deferred." But no sooner is the statue placed, than the Feltreians are advised by Colonel Yule to "burn it in honest lime." He proves that many a traveller besides Marco Polo had brought home from China movable wooden types and specimens of Chinese books, the entire text of which was printed with such wooden blocks.* We have seen in several Thibetan lamaseries, where they have printing-offices, such blocks preserved as curiosities. They are known to be of the greatest antiquity, inasmuch as types were perfected, and the old ones abandoned contemporaneously with the earliest records of Buddhistic lamaism. Therefore, they must have existed in China before the Christian era.
Let every one ponder over the wise words of Professor Roscoe, in his lecture on Spectrum Analysis. "The infant truths must be made useful. Neither you nor I, perhaps, can see the how or the when, but that the time may come at any moment, when the most obscure of nature's secrets shall at once be employed for the benefit of mankind, no one who knows anything of science, can for one instant doubt. Who could have foretold that the discovery that a dead frog's legs jump when they are touched by two different metals, should have led in a few short years to the discovery of the electric telegraph?"
Professor Roscoe, visiting Kirchhoff and Bunsen when they were making their great discoveries of the nature of the Fraunhoffer lines, says that it flashed upon his mind at once that there is iron in the sun; therein presenting one more evidence to add to a million predecessors, that great discoveries usually come with a flash, and not by induction. There are many more flashes in store for us. It may be found, perhaps, that one of the last sparkles of modern science — the beautiful green spectrum of silver — is nothing new, but was, notwithstanding the paucity "and great inferiority of their optical instruments," well known to the ancient chemists and physicists. Silver and green were associated together as far back as the days of Hermes. Luna, or Astarte (the Hermetic silver), is one of the two chief symbols of the Rosicrucians. It is a Hermetic
axiom, that "the cause of the splendor and variety of colors lies deep in the affinities of nature; and that there is a singular and mysterious alliance between color and sound." The kabalists place their "middle nature" in direct relation with the moon; and the green ray occupies the centre point between the others, being placed in the middle of the spectrum. The Egyptian priests chanted the seven vowels as a hymn addressed to Serapis;* and at the sound of the seventh vowel, as at the "seventh ray" of the rising sun, the statue of Memnon responded. Recent discoveries have proved the wonderful properties of the blue-violet light — the seventh ray of the prismatic spectrum, the most powerfully chemical of all, which corresponds with the highest note in the musical scale. The Rosicrucian theory, that the whole universe is a musical instrument, is the Pythagorean doctrine of the music of the spheres. Sounds and colors are all spiritual numerals; as the seven prismatic rays proceed from one spot in heaven, so the seven powers of nature, each of them a number, are the seven radiations of the Unity, the central, spiritual Sun.
"Happy is he who comprehends the spiritual numerals, and perceives their mighty influence!" exclaims Plato. And happy, we may add, is he who, treading the maze of force-correlations, does not neglect to trace them to this invisible Sun!
Future experimenters will reap the honor of demonstrating that musical tones have a wonderful effect upon the growth of vegetation. And with the enunciation of this unscientific fallacy, we will close the chapter, and proceed to remind the patient reader of certain things that the ancients knew, and the moderns think they know.