To every thoughtful observer it must be apparent that a state of seething unrest and flux similar to that which characterises the world of action and economics to-day, exists also in the world of thought. New ideas in physics, metaphysics, philosophy and religion spring up in bewildering profusion, with the result that the human mind is assailed by a feeling of impotence, and men are certain of nothing except their own ignorance.
Some such mood apparently inspired the words with which Mr. J. W. Dunne concludes the Introduction to his new book, "The Serial Universe." He says, "there is a fairly general feeling that, in the alembic our science offers us to-day, the irrationalities are far too numerous. It is a true story; but it looks as if, somewhere, somehow, it had been made into 'Printer's Pie'. The right words are there, but they seem to be in the wrong places; and there is more than a suggestion that paragraphs which ought to have been consecutive have become superimposed. Waves, particles, space-time, quanta, and even sense-data must, we feel, fit together in some simpler fashion."
In a strain somewhat similar to that of Mr. Dunne, Maeterlinck, the famous Belgian philosopher, writing in his latest book, recently translated into English under the title, "The Supreme Law" says of the scientists of to-day, that "never have they plunged further into the dark, because never have they searched for the light more avidly, By dint of digging they have only deepened their ignorance. Let us not lament it. It is with gravitation as with all the great problems of the world; the more one studies them the more do they become covered with obscurity; but an instinct nothing avails to discourage whispers to us that these discrepancies are more fertile than the trivial clarities which cradle the slumber of self-complacent ignorance."
Where the work of Maurice Maeterlinck is chiefly concerned with the problem of gravitation, that of Mr. Dunne deals almost exclusively with the mystery of time. The Serial Universe, in fact, is in the nature of an extension of the hypothesis first outlined in that remarkable book, An Experiment with Time, the significance of which appeared to the present writer so great that a long editorial was devoted to its consideration almost a full twelve months before the general Press awoke to its importance.
Although gravitation is the theme of Maeterlinck's book, this necessarily involves also some reference to the subject of time, "the bit of eternity sliced up by man", as he puts it; or, to quote from another paragraph of the same work, "There is no time; there are only imaginary measurements of a thing existing only in our imaginations. When we seek to measure out with our small foot-rule a line that has neither beginning nor end, we undertake a childish and ridiculous task which means nothing and corresponds not time, which is but a phantom, but eternity, which is the sole reality." Being outside the province of the book in question, Maeterlinck does not pursue his own conjectures. "The question would be above all to know whether absolute time, that which according to Newton is flowing everywhere and always in the same manner, actually exists or is only eternity, which does not flow."But this", he says, "would require another book".
Turning, then, to the problem of gravitation, as it is approached by the gifted mind and imagination of the celebrated writer, it is impossible not to become aware immediately of the poetical and indeed mystical atmosphere with which the subject becomes invested. To the average person in everyday life, gravitation is one of those factors to which we automatically adjust our lives. Except when we inadvertently trespass against it, we are unaware of its existence. It took the genius of a Newton to unmask it and demonstrate it to the satisfaction of the scientific and logical mind. Of it may be said (paraphrasing the well-known couplet).
Maeterlinck frankly confesses that his attempt to sketch what is known about gravitation has eventuated rather in a list of things which are unknown, than in the establishment of new facts.
"Gravitation," he says, "is probably the sole source of all movement and hence of all life on this earth, in any case, and almost certainly everywhere else in the universe, too. There is no inquiry which attacks more directly and grips more closely the great mystery to which humanity seeks the key."
Pursuing this idea, Maeterlinck goes on to say that it is merely necessary in thought to annihilate gravitation to see that it is the sole cause of the whole phenomenal universe.
"A god who wished to annihilate the world at one stroke would have only to deprive matter of its power of attraction. Instantly everything would dissolve in what we can no longer call space, for, considering that only the movements and displacements of matter bring it into existence, there would no longer be any space."
Whether, however, gravitation is the source of all life in physical form merely, or whether it is also the life of the ether, Maeterlinck regards as a matter of minor significance : "It is life itself," he declares. "If thought, as it seems to us, is the spiritual force par excellence, why should not gravitation be entitled to the same distinction? Does it not prove once more that matter and spirit are dual aspects, the one visible, the other accidentally invisible, but both equally real, of the same being; and that all discussion of the subject is futile and childish.
The poet Young, whose sombre Night Thoughts touched a melancholy chord in early Victorian days, declared with more force than elegance that "The undevout astronomer's mad". Even such a genius as Newton we find was driven to the conception of some divine Power of which, gravitation is, so to speak, an aspect, a mode of expression. In a letter to Richard Bentley, Newton writes...
Here we have the full and frank confession, "the tragic and final gesture of the perplexed scientist", as Maeterlinck phrases it. At every step Science is driven back by some incomprehensible Power or Essence behind all phenomena, some divine basis of everything that is. Eddington voices the ignorance of present day science when he writes: "Something is doing something, we do not know what."
Particularly apposite is this phrase in connection with the phenomena of psychical research, and especially applicable in the case of the rare but, we think, sufficiently well authenticated phenomenon of levitation. At first sight it seems to upset the universal law of gravitation; but this violation of the universal rule is more apparent than real. Were gravitation really transcended, it would seem that not only would the physical form fly off at tremendous speed away from the earth, but the very particles of the body itself would lose their cohesion. Indeed, this is what apparently happens in cases of demineralisation. These borderland phenomena beckon the way to a deeper penetration into the laws of the physical universe, and scientifically conducted psychic research may yet furnish a clue to eternal problem of the relation between spirit and matter, which has for so many ages baffled the human mind.
In a book dealing with the subject of gravitation, Maeterlinck naturally finds himself compelled to devote a section to a consideration of the ether, with which conception psychic science as interpreted by Sir Oliver Lodge is so intimately concerned. Of the hypothesis of ether Maeterlinck says
Maeterlinck considers that the theories of Einstein have disturbed the Newtonian conception of the law of gravitation more in appearance than in reality. Newton's law, he declares, is so perfect that even after two and a half centuries of experiment of extraordinarily efficient technique, and intensive mathematical research, only three seeming discrepancies have been observed. And of these three he considers that two are so trivial and insignificant as to merit little attention. The fact of crucial significance has to do with the perihelion of the planet Mercury; but even this apparent discrepancy is, Maeterlinck claims, capable of interpretation by the accepted Newtonian law of gravitation.
Relativity, whether in the restricted sense, as based on the Michelson-Morley experiments, or the generalised relativity based on the four-dimensional universe of Minowski, have doubtless their part to play in the evolution of scientific theory; but that they supersede the Newtonian hypothesis is open to doubt, Maeterlinck pertinently reminds us of this in the question he asks:
The problem of time is less likely, we feel, to be advanced appreciably towards a solution by any such assumption as that indicated by the question above quoted. Far more promising, surely, is the line of approach initiated by Mr. J. W. Dunne in his first and, in the consideration of many, epoch-making work, Experiment with Time,
Since the appearance of his book in 1927, Mr. Dunne has laboured diligently in the development of his hypothesis and its proofs, and now presents his arguments in a new book, The Serial Universe, to which allusion has above been made. The empirical basis of Mr. Dunne's theory is found in the fact of some curious dream experiences, of which he was the subject. Most people, however, have had similar instances of "dreaming true" at some time of their lives. The mysterious element of foreknowledge exhibited in certain types of dream set Mr. Dunne thinking. As a result he arrived at the conception of a serial universe.
This conception of a serial universe has this in common with the theory of relativity, that both imply some sort of regression. In the one case we have the element of relativity introduced by the comparison of the stationary and the moving observer, and in the other case we have the same relative element in the regression both of time and consciousness. Mr. Dunne sketches the outlines of his theory in the following paragraph taken from the second chapter of his new work:
Again he points out that any satisfactory explanation of the phenomenal universe must proceed, as it were, backwards. "We must take the world of our present-day knowledge, show that it is regressive, show that it is described as if it were viewed by a regressive observer, and show that this imagined regressive individual would constitute a self-conscious human being. That will be conclusive evidence that we are self-conscious creatures who are using that regressive method of defining ourselves and our surroundings."
The one stable element in this universal flux is consciousness, the immortal Watcher. Time and space, as the seers of the ages have affirmed repeatedly, are illusions born of the brain of man. In essence we are immortal. One of the accepted methods of meditation as practised in the East is to endeavour to trace out this regression of consciousness by self-analysis, casting off, one after another, the gross and more subtle wrappings that clothe the eternal consciousness-"not-I" "not-I", until we find ourselves stripped of form and immersed, pure being, in an ocean of light. In vain have the mystics endeavoured to make it clear to our blind eyes. They can only affirm, "Thus have I found, and wish us God-speed in our own adventure.
Mr Dunne divides his present work into two main parts, the first stating the theory, the second proving it by observed scientific facts. Another section is devoted to more specific tests of the serial theory, in connection with modern physics and relativity generally. In summing up, man, according to serialism, must be "a self conscious observer employing time as one of his terms of description because its regressive character fits his needs and gives him the only kind of picture he could regard as both rational and empirically true.
The universe, he declares, is rational, "rational in everything save the ultimate observer who makes the picture. He, with his self-consciousness and his will and his dualism of psycho-physical outlook, is irrational; but, no matter how far you may pursue him, you can never discover this. For when you reach any observer in a series and put him into the picture, he promptly transfers the irrationality to the observer next behind him. Thus, rationality, in the philosophy of an epistemologist, lies in an infinite regress. To a metaphysician it lies in refusing to consider any subject-object relation whatsoever. And that involves the denial of all knowledge obtained by experiment.
And with this we must perforce part company with two of the most enthralling intellectual companions that have come our way recently in the shape of books. The grace and imaginative power of the one, and the keen scientific insight of the other, though forming a vivid contrast, alike afford an opportunity for those who delight in plunging into the depths to do so to some purpose. And to what better end than that man should be led to perceive that his intellect avails him only so far, and that he. in his real self. is something greater than the mind
By Philip S. Wellby, M.A.
"Whether for sweet
slumber and the heart's refreshment, or for madness and lechery,
it would appear to be equally potent," writes our Contributor,
Mr. Philip S. Wellby, M.A., in his appreciation of the work of
the Honorary Curator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons,
Mr. C. J. S. Thompson, whose monograph on the Mysterious Mandrake
Root forms the subject of the following article.
The old lore of the herbalist attached strange properties to many common plants that grow in field or fen, or by the wayside. It was supposed by some of the early botanists, who linked their studies of Nature with the observation of the starry skies, that to every plant and herb was assigned a planetary influence, indicated by its form or growth or colouring, thus bearing the signature of one planet or another, of the sun, or of the moon. Some were found to be noxious and baneful in their effects, and others charged with virtues for the assuagement of bodily ills or the invigoration of the spirits. Amongst the plants familiar to the apothecary or herbalist in ancient times none was accounted of greater power for good or ill than the Mystic Mandrake, the famous root Mandragora.
Mr. C. J. S. Thompson, Honorary Curator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, whose life has been spent in exploring many curious by-ways in the study of superstitions and beliefs, has gathered some astounding and suggestive facts and fancies in investigating the history of the mandrake, and the opinions which were held as to its powers and properties.
Naturally shaped root of Black Briony given to Professor Henry Balfour by a labourer of Headington, Oxford, May 16, 1916
He believed it to be a mandrake, and highly valued it for its magical potency. The root is sixteen inches long. It shows the survival of the Mandrake tradition in Oxfordshire at the present time.
(Reproduced by permission of
Professor Balfour, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.)
According to Pliny, also quoted by our author, there was another and more elaborate ceremony observed in taking the root. "Persons when about to gather this plant take every precaution not to have the wind blowing in their faces, and after tracing three circles around it with a sword, turn towards the west ' and dig it up. . . . There are some marvelous facts related in connection with this plant. The root of it is said to bear a strong resemblance to the organs of either sex. It is but rarely found, but if a root resembling the male organ should happen to fall in the way of a man it will ensure him woman's love. Hence it is that Phaon, the Lesbian, was so passionately beloved by Sapphic. Upon this subject, too, there have been numerous reveries, not only on the part of the Magi but of Pythagorean philosophers as well."
By close observers of Nature it is admitted that plants and animals adapt themselves each to their own place in the universal order, and, further, it will occur that the character of a locality, whether as regards soil, attitude or climate, determines the particular flora and fauna to be found here or there. Not in the company of the wild-rose and honeysuckle that yield their scent to the sunshine of noon should Mandragora be sought, but in the deep-delled woodlands amongst the lush undergrowth that bespeaks the quagmire. There, at the hour between the dog and the wolf, may our search be rewarded; for at that time the mandrake stirs in its secret bed and, exhaling Circean odours, stretches its limbs in welcome of the falling night.
To look at the pictures of the mandrake is to be brought to wonder, and thence to sympathy with the minds of those with whom the strange legends surrounding Mandragora originated. We may recall the impressions of things magical in childhood's days when a mis-shapen potato or freakishly moulded stone captivated the imaginative sense and formed the basis for a tale of wonder. Often and again has the mandrake caught the fancy of poet or dramatist. Whether for sweet slumber and the heart's refreshment, or for madness and lechery, it would appear to be equally potent in its operation; as a talisman, an opiate, or an aphrodisiac its power was recognised and admitted. From Venus herself were especial virtues communicated to the charmed root, so that sterility could be removed by its means, and, concocted in a philtre, the passion of love could be stimulated. Whilst a small dose in wine would relieve the deepest depression and anxiety, taken in too strong a draught it would occasion delirium, as Hippocrates the physician has testified
If we turn, as ever, to Shakespeare´s plays we find that in the lovelorn ennui of separation from Antony, Cleopatra says
There is yet another author to whom the mandrake opened the door of creative fancy. In his story, too good to be forgotten, When Pan was Dead he tells of a woodling who slips between the bars of a convent, hungry to share the life of comradeship. She found the sisterhood without knowledge of happiness, and at night, when all were asleep, she crept from cell to cell and gave them the wood-dream that should make them happy. But, alas for their hearts the sweetness of life was causing them to break. The abbess, sensing the unrest that spread through the convent, imposed upon her charges the scourging of their bodies, penance and hard discipline. Then the woodling bethought her of her sisters in the wood, and sought their help. "They will cry," she moaned; "ah, how they will cry! But my poor sisters must be made happy; I must do it"
She ran down into the wood where the mandrakes grew... One by one she caught them, and drew them out of the ground; and the mandrakes groaned and shrieked as their roots came to light of day. The nuns took the evening meal of dry bread and bitter roots that the lay sister set before them, and then went to their cells and lay down to sleep. The woodling laughed, and threw off her habit, and stood up in only her brown woodland skin and long flowing hair... Presently, for the root of the mandrake had done its work, one of the cell doors slid open and one fair nun ran out naked and silvery into the moonlight. Another and another; they were all away, following the wood-dream and the mandrake's cry, and the convent was deserted. ...The fair sisterhood danced and laughed and sang, throwing up their arms to the moon. The thin brown woodling leapt in and out of their midst, kissing them all. When the mandrake madness had passed in the grey misty morning, the nuns heard the convent bell and crept back to their cells in shame and horror. The woodling went down to the mandrake bed and dropped her face into the torn soil, and was drawn down by the weight of her tears and became a mandrake root, as these her sisters were. She knew she could never teach the nuns to be happy, for "they love Pain", she said.
Curious, indeed, is the famous herb Mandragora; powerful against enemies, a talisman to bring riches and fortune, a drowsy drug to soothe pain, an elixir to renovate the springs of passion. In the hands of the crafty and malicious a baleful and pernicious thing. Whoever he may be who would know of what the mandrake is, or who loves wonders and good writing, he will find cause for gratitude to Mr. Thompson on coming into possession of this book.
From a manuscript of the sixteenth century in
the British Museum.
By R. H. Naylor
Whether we lay stress on
the philosophical basis of Astrology, or on its practical application.
Whether the aspect of the Science which most appeals to us Is
the Esoteric or the Exoteric. The considered opinion of a practitioner
of the standing and experience of Mr. R. H. Naylor cannot be lightly
Personally I define Astrology as that study which is concerned with the parallelism between stellar phenomena and terrestrial life. Such a definition commits no one to particular Astrological dogma. It does not postulate that the stars have a definite influence, nor does it deny them influence. It is not concerned with religious or ethical aspects of the subject.
However, Astrology, like all studies, has its specialised branches. In the present discussion we are concerned with those aspects of Astrology which are generally known as "Esoteric" and "Exoteric". Now, on consulting my dictionary, I find the definitions which are set down below:
Esoteric - Secret; for the initiated
only and intelligible only to them: from internal causes.
It will be apparent that many difficulties arise when we come to apply either of these terms - in their full dictionary meanings - to Astrology. For instance, if esoteric Astrology is "secret" how comes it to be available in cheap handbooks? If it is for the initiated only, then where are we to look for the initiated? Again, to apply "exoteric" to an aspect of Astrology implies that it is a crude or elementary side of the subject suitable to be taught to the more ignorant and undeveloped
I regard the prefix "Esoteric" or "Exoteric" in connection with Astrology as an extremely fatuous qualification. As this article shows, there are, and must be, specialised branches of Astrological research. Yet these two terms do not wholly apply to any of them.
At this stage, it might be convenient to turn aside for a moment and examine current Astrological opinion. The average student who has outgrown his elementary stage and who is soaked in current Astrological ideas would probably define Esoteric and Exoteric thus:
ESOTERIC - that side of Astrology which is concerned with and associated with Theosophical and mystical, or pseudo mystical doctrines: with occult Powers: with the spiritual side of things: with ethical and aesthetic cults.
EXOTERIC - "fortune
- telling" Astrology, i.e., the application Astrology to
the so-called "practical" side of life - business affairs,
love affairs, gambling, betting, personal relationships, health
: the election of times and places for specific purposes, and
all the multiplex interests of ordinary daily life.
It is easy for the matter-of-fact; hundred per cent, hardheaded "he-man" to sneer at those who, for want of a better term, are labelled "Esotericists". The devotee of "esoteric" Astrology is, as a rule, very earnest, very idealistic, and possesses that Divine Something which is so essential to successful Astrological work.
On the other hand, some who are devoted to "esoteric" Astrology are intolerant of those who insist upon applying the Lore of the Stars to everyday use. They look at (say) casting a horoscope for guidance in a business deal in very much the same light as a hunting man would regard shooting foxes.
In my opinion both are wrong. To be sure the study of Astrology is capable of being split up into diverse lines of specialised study, Indeed, specialisation is essential : it is essential now and will become more and more essential as the frontiers of knowledge are pushed forward.
For the devotees of so-called Esoteric Astrology to regard their pet study as the only one that matters, or for the Exoteric Astrologer lightly to dismiss Esoteric Astrology, is foolish. Such an attitude is bad for Astrology : it is bad for the astrologer. Either method of approach must necessarily eventually merge into the other. For one's study of Astrology to be all-embracing the field of view must include the sordidly commonplace as much as the intellectually abstruse and ultra-spiritual.
It should be emphasised, even at this stage of our survey, that some knowledge of elementary mathematics, elementary astronomy and elementary physiography is absolutely essential for the intelligent appreci ation of either theory. The individual who claims the right to express an authoritative opinion on either or any school of Astrological thought and who has not these rudimentary qualifications is sadly in error. Ability to absorb the rudiments of ordinary education, to grapple with the ordinary problems of life, is just as necessary to Esoteric Astrology as to Exoteric Astrology.
Further, it may be said that the man or woman who makes a mess of his or her own life and affairs cannot be a good Astrologer. If Astrology stands for anything at all, it stands for guidance and strength.
The earliest known Astrological instructions and records came down to us from Nineveh and Babylon. In the British Museum you may see many hundreds of clay tablets (translations of which are before me at this moment) on which are set down a curious jumble of Astrological lore. At the same time as these long-forgotten Astrologers were working on the mud flats of Chaldea, other schools of Astrological thought had their origins in China, India, Africa and the Mediterranean countries. Partly owing to the ravages of time, partly owing to continual wars, and partly owing to the destructive efforts of Christian missionaries and others, the greater part of this early Astrological knowledge is lost to us. Some of it may be - and I hope will be - unearthed and re-constructed by archaeologists.
So far as the Western world is concerned, current Astrological knowledge was summed up in the Tetrabiblos of Claudius Ptolemy. This is an exhaustive treatise on the various branches of Astrology and some of the astronomical factors concerned therein. After a checkered career the text finally became available to English readers.
In the Greek, Roman and later Egyptian empires, Astrology flourished. The Roman authorities finally took up the attitude that the study of Astrology was permissible to all, but that the professional practice of Astrology was against the law. In Egypt and the East generally, the study and practice of Astrology seems to have been encouraged rather than otherwise. The .early Church Fathers took up very much the same attitude as the rulers of Rome, i.e., that Astrological teachings might be veritable, but that they were harmful to the common people. The interested student could spend many hours following out curious arguments on the point in the writings of the early Christian writers.
There were, of course, many classical works on Astrology and related subjects, some of which have come down to us. But all these writings alike contain a curious mixture of what we now call superstition, with some science, a certain amount of pure Astrology, and much reference to alleged Astrological processes which can only be described as divination.
The choicest attentions of the Inquisition were reserved for the luckless students of Astrology and the related sciences. Hence Astrological knowledge was almost stamped out in Europe. It raised a feeble voice in Restoration and later times, but in the late Victorian ERA it was reduced to a shadow of its former self.
At this time the school of Astrology that we call "Esoteric" -which was already in being as an undercurrent even in Greek times-began to make itself manifest. True the mediaeval alchemists and occultists were familiar with the subject, but their writings were seldom available to the mass.
However, along came Mr. Alan Leo - a particularly clever business man - who had the necessary financial resources to cultivate his hobby - the esoteric side of Astrology. Mr. Leo took his cue from Hiram Butler, author of a work called Solar Biology.
Both Butler and Leo were very sincere believers in a cult which was a mixture of theosophy, mysticism, religion, pure Astrology and a curious "uplift" tendency of the Victorian world. In fact, Leo may be regarded as the founder of the modem "Esoteric" school. Most existing writings on the subject owe their inspiration to him and his associates.
It would be impossible in the scope of a short article like this adequately to describe the teachings of Esoteric Astrology.
Briefly, Esoteric Astrology postulates-
That the human mind is capable of understanding the Divine Plan and, therefore, to some extent of understanding the scheme of the Universe in general and the earth in particular.
This being granted, it postulates that the Solar System is a kind of evolutionary school. A great intelligence being incarnated in the Sun : lesser intelligences in the planets and their satellites.
It is assumed that the individual entities that make up collective organic life on the earth and elsewhere are passing through a vast plan of evolutionary reincarnation.
It is difficult to follow the next stage & esoteric doctrine. I have never been clear whether the Esotericists regard the planets as having definite influences or whether they are to be regarded merely as symbols. Anyhow, the Esotericists derive a vast amount of pleasure and no little information and help from the linking up of Astrological factors with the above doctrines.
The mind trained in orthodox science would, of course, at once reject ninety per cent of their postulations. This fact need not discourage the enquirer; for Exoteric Astrology, as we know, it would be similarly unfortunate.
In Exoteric Astrology there is the same deplorable muddle. The average dabbler in Exoteric Astrology regards the planets as:
Very definite forces whose effects can be estimated both as regards point of time and degree of power (See the writings of the late Mr. Sutcliffe in Modern Astrology and elsewhere.)
Or he regards the stellar and planetary configurations merely as symbols to be read by methods coming down to us from ancient times. (See the writings of the late Mr. Gorn Old, "Sepharial", and others.)
In my opinion the Astrology of the future will include what is good in both these schools. It will link up with orthodox science. Or one might more correctly say orthodox science will ultimately absorb and claim as its own the fundamentals of Astrology. Those fundamentals will then have the advantage of being developed by the vast network of organised research which exists in our laboratories and universities. It will be elaborated out of all countenance and linked up with instrumental research and observation, both astronomical and physio-psychological.
Weighing carefully my words, I affirm that in the unexplored deeps of Astrological doctrine lies the key to many of the problems of present-day and future science.
By E. C. Merry
The second of a series of three articles based on a large number of published and unpublished lecture-courses by the late Dr. Rudolf Steiner. In view of the extremely occult nature of the subject dealt with, the writer begs that adverse criticism may be withheld, or at least tempered, until the reader has been able to acquire some knowledge of the many-sidedness and immense scope of Dr. Steiner's life work In occultism, externally represented by many published works and several thousands of unprinted lectures. - The Author.
In the modern age there is little understanding of the nature of the spiritual principle in man. It has become fairly general to speak of man as having body, soul, and mind. The word "spirit" is not often used. This is a very remarkable symptom of our age, for it points to the inability to form a conception of the Spirit.
This inability has developed in human thought since the ninth century, and there is an historical (and occult) reason for it, though the fact has been passed by almost entirely unnoticed. "Spirit" has become something entirely vague in experience, though it may be defined in a form of words; and the highest human attribute is considered to-day to be the capacity which places man as a Thinker on a higher level than the animals. The "soul" is also, to the average enquirer, something vague, which may or may not be immortal, and which to many is merely the totality of the inner effects-reacting upon the "mind"of the physical tendencies and inheritance. Naturally, soul and mind (or spirit, when it is considered) are capable of bearing all kinds of philosophical or theological definitions. But to the average human being of the present day they are little more than words. Therefore, to 'call the soul the "astral body" or astral organisation, and the spirit the "Ego" is at first sight, only to use another set of words, equally vague. Occult science gives them names, because they spring from the real causes of their being
The physical body, as physical body - in the sense in which it is usually and erroneously regarded as representing the whole man - is said by Occultists to be invisible so long as it is alive. This is because it cannot be said to exist at all, as a living entity, apart from the etheric body. It is only the corpse, which is the actual physical body.
, The etheric body is a "body of formative forces", which is the bearer of life. It is invisible except to the clairvoyant, though the experiments of Moritz Benedict and others have made it partly visible under certain conditions. It is slightly larger than the material form, and permeates it everywhere, and contains the forces that mould the physical matter and hold it together in the form designed for it in super-physical regions of being. From the material aspect-if one can here use the expression the etheric organisation is a kind of super-physical basis for the fluids in the physical body; but from the more spiritual aspect it is connected with the person's fundamental character, with the forces of Thinking, and of Memory. In it inheres the sense of Time. The plant possesses a physical and an etheric body, and through the latter it responds to the influences of the seasons of the year in its growth and decay. At death, the human etheric body slowly dissolves into its related "cosmic ether", and the material body falls into decay. During life, the etheric body must always be present.
The "astral body" is a much less easily understood term; for the word "body" is generally associated with something physical and of definite form, and this is more readily conceivable in the case of the etheric body. The astral body also has a form, but is in a constant state of change. It denotes the totality of all that we ordinarily connect with our life of feeling. It is in reality the vehicle of the soul. From the material standpoint again if one may be pardoned the paradox - it is the supersensible basis of the nervous system, and is associated with the rhythmic functions - the rhythm of breathing and circulation. From the non-material aspect it embraces all emotions, passions, desires, longings, sympathies and antipathies; and we know how strongly these are able to influence the rhythms of the body, It is also the "sheath" for the indwelling spirit, or Ego; and this can be grasped if we realise how our "I" is bound up with our life of sympathies and antipathies, and how through these, as it were, the "I" uses the physical and etheric bodies for its purposes of living in the physical world. Thus the soul is really there as a mediator between the activity of the spi t and the life-processes ri of the body. Also, it may be regarded as threefold-as a sentient principle from the side of the body, as an intellectual principle from the side of the spirit, and as a conscious principle in its totality.
After death it passes with the spirit or Ego into a state of extended consciousness, and becomes the field of self-knowledge and purification. It is discarded when the spirit enters into higher regions of the spiritual world.
The astral body is the vehicle for our conscious life because it is the basis of the nervous system, but it acts in such a way while in the material body that it tends to destroy; it battles against the life-giving forces of the etheric body; and in this conflict the "pain" of consciousness is awakened. Through the astral body we are adjusted to the sense of Space. The animal has a physical body, an etheric body, and also an astral body. But the animal's relation to Space and to the Stars is different from the human, as the vital centres lie in the horizontal plane. The animal has no Ego that is individually incarnated, but possesses a "Group-Ego" or Group-Soul.
One should really speak of each of these three higher principles, etheric body, astral body, and Ego, as "organisations", for they have respectively definite relation to all the organs and functions of the body as a whole, and are "dovetailed" into one another in quite specific ways.
The Ego is like a kind of master-organisation, whose occasional failure to permeate the other principles in the right way gives rise to mental and physical deformity. The upright position of Man in space is due to the spiritual force of the fully incarnated Ego-principle. The perfection of the larynx in Man, and its presence as the organ of intelligent speech, is connected with the upright position. Walking, speaking, and thinking are three divine-spiritual attributes brought into manifestation during the successive steps of the incarnation of the Ego during childhood. There has to be a definite balance maintained between all four principles in man, not only for perfect physical well-being, but also for moral and mental and psychic health. The occult investigation of this fact (with other related facts) has been made by Dr. Steiner the basis for a new system of Therapy.
In the long and intricate history of the evolution of humanity, Occult Science shows how the physical, or mineral, elements and their laws were the first to appear; then the etheric, or "life", then the astral, or "sentient conscious life", and last the informing spirit or Ego; and it teaches that this comparatively simple fourfold condition is destined to be changed and transmuted into something far higher in the course of ages, by the Ego itself. The work of the Ego for this present age lies in its endeavours to permeate completely the other principles, and attain full self-consciousness and freedom.
For those who undertake an occult development, the first stages represent a catharsis, or purification, of the astral body and its sympathies and antipathies; and the final stages represent a completed transformation, by the Ego, of astral body, etheric body, and physical body. This is what must take place eventually for all members of the human family that do not fall out by the way; but the Initiate seeks to accomplish the task more rapidly, so that he (or she) may become a "leader of the race towards home".
To anyone accustomed only to modern evolutionary theories, all this must seem unreal and fantastic; and such feelings would no doubt be justified if the statements of Occultism could not be related to known facts. But in the anatomical, biological and other scientific domains everything that has here been said has been elaborated and deepened in such a way that it can throw new light on many great problems, not only in connection with man, but with all the other kingdoms of Nature.
As a rule we go through life with very little appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon of sleep. We know that it is recuperative, and that we need it. We seldom realise the mystery of the processes of falling asleep and waking out of sleep, nor pause to consider how remarkable is the continuity of our being in spite of the rhythmic breaks and total loss of consciousness that occur during every twenty-four hours.
How is it that every morning we pick up the threads of yesterday? - in some respects finding them continuing in a straight line, as it were, and in other respects finding they have taken a turning in a different direction as though manipulated by a superior consciousness in our absence.' And yet they are all there; and we are there, to all intents and purposes the same as yesterday. When we have decisions to make, how often we say we should like "to sleep on it"! Why is this? What tells us that the night brings new light on our problems?
Physical science is able to describe the wear and tear of the nervous system and of the brain during the day, and accounts on purely physical grounds for their recuperation by rest. But the occult scientist sees in sleeping and waking the rhythmic adjustment of the soul and spirit, the astral body and the Ego, with the surrounding spiritual world. Consciousness, which arises through the astral body, tends to destroy the "life" processes. Less sensitive and less intelligent people tend to have more robust physical bodies, generally speaking. Thus we must recognise a certain grouping of the four principles into physical body and etherical body on the one hand, and astral body and Ego on the other. In sleep, the two latter are "lifted out" of the two former; and the etheric or vital formative forces appear as though shone upon by the soul and spirit-like a region of Plants warmed and vivified by the sun. Sleep is a spiritual "day". On waking, the sun sets, and a spiritual night is upon us while we use all our capacities in close co-operation together in carrying out our daily life.
The astral body and Ego, when they rise into soul-and-spiritual surroundings, have experiences; and largely experiences connected with the past and future incarnations; but these experiences are not now communicated to the waking consciousness, and the present-day man remains utterly unconscious of them. Dreams are not a replica of these actual experiences, but they often present a disguised reflection of them. The sleeping etheric body is still filled with the pictures of thought impressions, which live on during sleep in a kind of independence; and dreams take place either during the stage of falling asleep or of awakening. Dreams experienced during the former stage have an entirely different character, according to occultism, from those experienced during the latter. Most of our more vividly remembered dreams are the waking ones. They arise when the astral body and Ego are returning, and a kind of conflict takes place between the spiritual content of the astral body and the physical thought-images in the etheric. The etheric body is, as has been said, the builder of the physical body; but it can only build correctly in that it receives ever and again the archetypal models for its task which are absorbed by the astral body during sleep, and communicated to it. This is the recuperative power of the astral body. But in waking life these "models" become spoilt by physical sense-perceptions; and this causes fatigue.
Occult development, when carried out on the right lines, eventually results in the attainment of "being awake in deep sleep"; and becoming aware of the life of the soul and spirit in spiritual worlds. In ancient times there was always a certain degree of consciousness in sleep; but with the deeper penetration of soul and spirit into the physical body in waking life, this was lost.
It was this power of being conscious in sleep which gave earlier humanity its realisation of a life after death, and before birth. The true Initiate of to-day obtains his accurate knowledge of the life after death through his capacity to awaken, in the astral body, a consciousness of what the Ego experiences in sleep. It is, therefore, a question of seeking to create "organs" of perception in the soul, which can be done by meditation and catharsis. Without the latter-which was epitomised in ancient Greece, in the saying: "O man know thyself" - an awakening in sleep would be utterly shattering.
A definite series of experiences is passed through by the soul and spirit while the body sleeps, which is a kind of miniature of what takes place after death; but this cannot be dealt with here. For the moment it will be sufficient to hold fast to this idea of the passing out and returning of the soul and spirit, while the physical and etheric bodies lie in-the "green pastures" in deep unconsciousness, and are refreshed by the "still waters" that give it life. One of the great mysteries of sleep is that the entrance into it is always accompanied by unconscious fear the fear of abandoning oneself to the abyss which separates the physical from the spiritual world. But this fear is a force which, paradoxically, works beneficently in the organic secretions of the body. The Will-conceived in its highest, most divine form, as creative-is hidden in the depths of our organism, and is inherent in the whole system of metabolism; but as nothing exists save as the opposition of polarities, it is also destructive in its nature; and out of this dual essence arises the possibility of Good and Evil. Though fear is there, the morality with which the Ego is able to permeate the body in waking life, and its power of maintaining a certain contact with it in sleep, makes it possible for the destructive element in the Will-Evil, or the animal tendencies-not to prevail. (Cf. the twenty-third Psalm: "The Lord is my Shepherd," etc.)
Again and again in the study of genuine Occult Science, we come to a sense of the importance of this spiritual principle, the Ego; and can feel that its loss would expose the human being to degeneration, and sever him from, the possibility of carrying out his true destiny.
So far as the present writer has been able to ascertain, Spiritualist literature gives no indication of any communications having been received descriptive of a life before birth. Also, the references to reincarnation are comparatively sparse, and usually on lines suggesting that it does not take place.
It is impossible, on the face of it, to build up a reasonable doctrine of spiritual survival if its foundation rests merely upon the event of physical birth as the starting-point for an endless non-material future after death.
On the other hand a good deal is said by Spiritualists about the activity of the soul in sleep. But here there is much confusion. The terms etheric body and astral body are often used quite indiscriminately, or as though they were one and the same thing. One or the other word is used to denote the vehicle by means of which the nightly activities of the soul are undertaken. The activities usually described in "psychic" literature consist of helping - in one form or another - those who are in trouble or sickness; and the' surrounding conditions are generally, as in the descriptions of the life after death, pictured as almost precisely similar to the surrounding conditions of earthly activities. Also, one misses in these writings any appreciation of degrees in the state of sleep, though stress is laid on degrees or stages in the life after death. But a merely naive recognition of sleep as analogous with death carries no one any further.
Generally speaking, the life of sleep is accepted by everybody merely as something belonging to the "matter of course" occurrences of physical existence, and the mystery and wonder of it seldom come into consideration. But the mystery of it is great. And it is the key which is capable of unlocking the greatest secrets of life and death and reincarnation.
By W. G. Raffée, A.R.C.A.
In the present
study of the significance of the Sacred Bull, which is in the
nature of a sequel to the article on Bull Fights which appeared
in our June issue, our contributor, who draws his material from
an quarters of the globe, traces In a manner both interesting
and illuminative the history and significance of this universal
From Crete comes the legend of the Minotaur; probably, also, that of Europa and the Bull. Numerous votive models of bulls have been found at Mycenie, one grave alone containing fifty six, many bearing the sacred double-axe. Sacred horns appear on most Mycenxan altars, and rhyta, vessels in the shape of bulls' horns, seem to have been used in sacrificial rites. Evans suggests that the palace which he excavated was the famous "labyrinth", for the plan is really complex. But Dr. A. B. Cook believes that the labyrinth was a dancing place, where a dance was performed to symbolise solar movements, performed by the ruling prince of Knossos, wearing a bull-mask, because the sun was represented in Crete as a bull. The sacrifices, he thinks, not only of a bull but of youths and maidens (to the Minotaur) are connected with the annual divine renewal of power of the sun-king.
Certainly Crete was a great centre of bull symbolism. A wall painting from Knossos shows male and female toreadors; one leaps over the back of the bull while others move round the animal. A fresco from Tiryns (now preserved in Athens) shows a female acrobat on the back of a running bull. On a marble relief found at Smyrna, horsemen pursuing bulls are seen, one on the back of a bull, holding the horns.
Most of the archaeological evidence for Cretan mythology was excavated by Sir Arthur Evans from the Palace of Knossos, in the Island of Crete; but here again the connected symbolic theme is illustrated rather than revealed in his writings. (Evans Arthur, The Palace of Minos at Knossos - 4 Volumes, London 1928)
In Egypt, Osiris was regularly identified with the Sacred Bull, Asar Ameshet Apis, of Memphis (who trod upon his enemies) and also with the Bull Mnevis of Heliopolis. Although the BullApis was worshipped with much ceremony as a god, the sacred books commanded that he should not live beyond the stipulated time. According to Plutarch, this period was one quarter of a century, after which the Bull was drowned in a holy spring, or the Nile. Inscriptions recently uncovered show, however, that some of these Bulls lived more than twenty-six years.
Of the earlier and genuine mysteries, less information is available, but the Feast of Attis certainly included a baptism of blood and a sacramental meal as part of the rites. The gold crowned novice descended into a deep pit covered by a grating. Over this a bull, garlanded with flowers and bearing golden symbols on its brow, was stabbed with a consecrated spear. The hot blood gushed over the novice below, who caught it on his garments until he emerged clad in reeking scarlet, to receive the applause of his fellows as one who had been "born again to eternal life", one whose sins had been washed away beneath the torrent of fresh life in the blood. It is not difficult to connect this ritual with the latter-day symbols of official Christianity, with its "washing in the blood of the Lamb' to "take away the sins of the world".
Nevertheless, this ritual of the taurobolium, or actual baptism of blood, is undoubtedly a superstitious degradation of the higher spiritual sacrifice of Mithras as the Divine Bull. This rite, though sometimes used by worshippers of Mithras, was known to refer to the Great Mother and Attis. It is pretty certain that the rite has not the slightest connection with the inner mysteries, none of which would use blood in this fashion; moreover, inferior priests, having submitted to it, openly bragged of having been "regenerated".
One inescapable fact, however, is that the early transition of the Christian symbol from the Good Shepherd (or the Reigning King), to the tortured martyr nailed as a criminal to the Roman crucifix, degrades the once-great symbol of the Easter Bull whose blood magically purified and revivified the Earth. The Church has literally taken the god and slaughtered him, so that magically and vicariously he becomes the scapegoat for human sins; while still asserting that he is a man become divine. Hence the Christian Easter festival is a mere caricature of a most sacred and divine symbol; brought down by crude and uninspired realism to mean almost the opposite of what was first intended. In short, it is no better than the Roman cow sacrifice.
The great contrast between the Bull ritual of Dionysus and that of Mithras is that Dionysus himself is the Sacred Bull by the magic of transubstantiation, and is slain, while Mithras slays the Bull. The difference is explained by the different purposes of the rite which symbolises the creative power, as applied to varying ends. The coming of Dionysus is the annual renewal of the Earth at the vernal equinox : it is the never-ending creation dramatised at the Zodiacal moment of its apparent repetition at that time and place. Mithras, however, slays the Bull "before the foundation of the world" that the world itself may be created by its sacrifice; and yet again, the Persian god prefigures the Christian "plan of salvation" by the death of the Bull-at the hands of the god, much as the sacrifices demanded by Jehovah so that "mankind shall not perish".
So, says Frazer, quoting Cumont:
In the belief of his worshippers "the sacrifice of the divine bull was in truth the great event in the history of the world, the event which stands alike at the beginning of the ages and at the consummation of time, the event which is at once the source of the earthly life and the life eternal. We can therefore see why among all the sacred imagery of the mysteries the place of honour was reserved for the representation of this supreme sacrifice, and why always and everywhere it was exposed in the apse of the temples to the adoration of the worshippers!" On the minds of the worshippers seated in the religious gloom, of the subterranean temple, the mournful scene of the slaughter of the bull, dimly discerned at the far end of the sanctuary, was doubtless well fitted to impress solemn thoughts, not only of the great sacrifice which in days long gone by had been the source of life on earth, but also of that other great sacrifice, still to come, on which depended all their hopes of a blissful immortality.
Here, the Sacred Bull has several meanings. He is creative power to form the world; he is also creative power to form the soul in the world; he is the secret motive power alike on Nivritii marga and Pravritti marga, but in different forms.
H.P.Blavatsky, writing in Isis on the Zodiac, gives some suggestive allusions to the ritual of the Bull:
Kain, presiding over the Taurus (Bull) of the Zodiac, is also very suggestive. Taurus belongs to the earthy trigon, and in connection with this sign it will not be amiss to remind the student of an allegory from the Persian Avesta. The story goes that Ormazd produced a being source and type of all the universal beings - called LIFE, or Bull in the Zend. Ahriman (Cain) kills this being (Abel) from the seed of which (Seth) new beings are produced. Abel, in Assyrian, means son, but in Hebrew, , it means something ephemeral, not long lived, valueless and also a "Pagan idol", as Kain means a Mermaic statue (a pillar, the symbol of generation).
In a footnote we are told also that "Apollo was also Abelius or Bel".
The Sacred Bull was, in Assyria, a leading symbol, together with the ram, the lion and the sphinx. A. H. Layard is definite on the symbolical position, if not the full meaning, of the great human-headed bulls so often sculptured at the portals of the palaces.
I have [says be] ventured to suggest the idea which these singular forms were intended to convey-the union of the greatest intellectual and physical powers; but certainly their position with reference to other symbolical figures would point to an inferiority in the celestial hierarchy ... even the eagle-headed figure [is] the vanquisher of the human headed lion and bull, [and] ministering to the king.
The sacrifice of the Sacred Bull should never be confused with the almost diametrically opposed ritual of the sacrifice of the Sacred Cow, more especially in Europe. Among the Romans, such a sacrifice was made to the Earth goddess Tellus for bountiful crops on the fifteenth of April. The victim, Frazer tells us, was a cow in calf, one being killed in each of the thirty wards of the city of Rome.
The unborn calves were torn out and burned to ashes, which, mixed with horse-blood and bean-stalks, made a "fumigation" material to purify the people at the Shepherd's Festival of the Parilia, six days later, at the Temple of Vesta. This was a "fertility" sacrifice. In Rome itself this rite was performed on the Vatican Hill, in the sanctuary of the Phrygian goddess close to the site of the modem church of St. Peter. Numerous inscriptions relating to the rites were found when excavations were made for the enlargement of that edifice in 1608 and 1609. Other inscriptions found in Gaul and in Germany show that provincial sanctuaries copied this central temple. That the rite was definitely connected with fertility and reproduction is proved by allusions to the generative organs of the animals; while one of the titles of Attis was "The most fruitful one". The Easter festival of the Christian Church was based on these older customs, which it could in no way eradicate but endeavoured to transform to its own purpose.
The sacrifice of virility by men in the rites of Cybele was so drastic that it is not unnatural that a sacrifice by substitute should be sought. Not all men desired so realistically to emulate the emasculation. of Attis in subjection to the superstition of the exoteric priesthood on the Day of Blood, when they "wept for Tammuz". It lingered on into modern times only with the fanatical skoptse of Russia.
The resurrection of the god, the opening of his tomb, the sudden change from sadness to gladness, was marked for the day of the vernal equinox. On this twenty-fifth day of March, the Roman Festival of joy (Hilaria) took place, degenerating into the utmost degree of license over two days and nights.
That part of the rite still followed in the modem bullfight, the waving of a red cloth or banner before the bull, is variously explained. The modem oculist briefly asserts that an animal, gazing all day at green vegetation which remains motionless, is worried and excited by a brilliant patch of the directly contrasting colour moving jerkily before its eyes in a strange place. This fact may in part explain some of the animal's physical excitement. It is equally clear that the original ritual cannot have been identical: that the object held before the bull was as sacred as the lance which despatched him.
Knowing that the bull symbolised creative energy, that it was necessary to excite him, we can easily see that the symbolic object used must have had a female significance; and that red was its colour., The same object played a prominent part in Hebrew ritual, and is known as part of the solar rites. The womb of Ked, or the Dolphin form of tabernacle, bore coverings with symbols of Sun-worship. The inner side was a design of the Zodiac; outside were dolphin skins, and then sheepskins dyed red to imitate flesh, as "the curtain of the holy temple". Through this emerged the priest at the end of the rites, when he was ritually "born again". The red covering of the Bull-god's opposing symbol was gradually used instead of the symbol it at first veiled; undoubtedly one of its several meanings was "the blood that is the life".
With the description of Shiva, given in the vision of Ezekiel, we have four symbolic faces: The Eagle (John), the Bull (Luke), the Lion (Mark), and the Angel (Matthew). This Bull, Nardi or Nandi, the vahan of Shiva, is identical with the Egyptian Apis and the Zoroastrian Bull created by Ormazd and killed by Ahriman. Hence the bull is everywhere the emblem of worldly or physical Life, in every religious system. And it is at the same time, by inversion, the destroyer of the spiritual life. Reading the symbol depends on the polarisation of the creative energy.
It may be of value to observe the position of the bull glyphs and symbols in alphabet and Zodiac. In the ancient versions, the bull was the first form in each. All the letter symbols were forms: the vowels - the life - had to be read into them according to the sense of the phrase and its connections. It is probable that the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet at one time symbolised the ten Sephira and the twelve phases of the Zodiac, five masculine and five feminine with two dualities or balances. None of these was to be taken literally, or, indeed, to be read rigidly, but only in a "light-handed" interpretation.
Bull and Cow, creative power and creative fertility, are two fundamental and archetypal ideas with several interpretations; hence their appearance and constant repetition, even in different associations, is not at all surprising. Errors inevitably arise from their literal interpretation; in limiting the controlling idea by the temporal symbols. Art demands that ideas shall be expressed in forms having some rhythmic and ideal consonance; this harmony is the basis of what we call beauty. With simple peoples, their range of forms is somewhat limited, and even though a fundamental idea be grasped or, more probably, dimly remembered, it must be expressed.in some form that is more or less familiar. Tribes having no cattle, therefore, will not use the bull glyph: for them no physical reality can mirror the inner truth. Thus, like the hairy Ainus of the northern islands of Japan, they may accept another analogous symbol in their life, the bear. Consequently the bear symbol performs for the Ainus what the Bull did for the Cretans. Bears appear everywhere in their art and ritual on all kinds of objects.
Written by Madame Jelihovsky, but unfortunately the title page and one other is missing
...travelling, for daring and bold enterprises and for indulgence in strong emotions. She ignored authority; always self-reliantly making her own way, choosing independent goals, despising the stipulations of society and forcefully removing obstacles which restricted her freedom. At the age of seventeen she voluntarily married a man old enough to be her father, and after a few months left him unhesitatingly; went away, no one knew where, and disappeared for nearly ten years, so that for a long time her relatives did not know of her whereabouts.
To her intimates she confessed that she had married N. V. Blavatsky merely to be free from the control of her guardians.
Most of her youth Blavatskys spent outside Europe. She lived several years in Northern India studying languages, Sanscrit literature and those abstract sciences for which Raja Yoga is so famous and for which she later had to suffer; her too fervent followers proclaiming her a magician, thus giving her enemies to accuse her of deception and to call her a charlatan.
Finding herself lonely without her relatives, Blavatsky returned to Russia in 1859, after ten years' wanderings. First she visited me, her sister, and our father in the Pskov province, and then our mother's relatives in Tiflis. She returned from her wanderings a person possessing mediumistic powers which immediately commenced to display themselves and to astonish and startle everybody around. She proved to be the strongest medium, a state which she very much despised later, tl-dnking that it was humiliating for human dignity and very bad for the health. Later on, her psychological powers developing completely she was enabled to subordinate to her control all external manifestations of mediumism, but at the age of twenty-seven these powers manifested against her will, very seldom obeying her. She was surrounded by constant rappings and movements, the origin and meaning of which she could not explain. "I don't know what has happened to me", she said, "some power has got into me, I have brought it from America. It is not sufficient that everything around me raps and rings, but the things move and rise without sense or need. Also they sometimes manifest very intelligently during conversation with their rappings, answer mental questions and even guess thoughts. What devilry is it
At that time the American theories brought over and practised by Home in St Petersberg were well known to everybody in Russia, but very few Russians had the opportunity actually to see demonstrations of mediumism. Blavatsky's astonishing powers made such a great noise in Pskov that even now, thirty years later, the old inhabitants remember her short visit there. The sensible answering of mental questions was what surprised people most.
Such complete intelligence on the part of the powers working through H.P.B. even then gained her supporters among the hardest sceptics. It impressed the people much more than the moving of objects or her constantly seeing "ghosts",her descriptions of which proved to be exact portraits of dead people whom she had never known but whom the people present always recognised from her descriptions. Very soon Pskov and partly St. Petersburg and, later on, the whole Caucasus started to talk of the wonders which surrounded H.P.B. People came to have a look at her as if she herself were a won der. She was bombarded with letters, requests and most absurd demands which she good-naturedly fulfilled; allowing herself to be bound, to be laid on soft cushions and all measures to be taken to prevent any deceit. But all these measures did not stop the moving, rapping and ringing around her: these powers were continually displayed, even during her sleep and unconsciousness in illness. The talk grew immensely, especially when the "ghosts" helped to find a murderer in the surroundings of my village, Rogodevo, in Povorjevsky, where we were spending the summer. The "ghosts" without hesitation named the criminal, also the village and even the house where he was hiding, to the astonished police officers, who immediately rode there, found the murderer and arrested him.
H.P. recalled this epoch in later years with terror and contempt of her helpless and uncontrollable mediumism. After several years she completely subordinated to her will these powers, the pernicious nature and evil origin of which she explained in her works, with full confidence in her judgment, but possibly being wrong.
Next year Blavatsky went to Tiflis. On her way, at a church service at Sadonsk, she was recognised by the Most Reverend Isidor, former Exarch of Georgia, and later Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, who came to Sadonsk on his way from Kiev. He had known Blavatsky in her youth in Tiflis and he sent a servant to her with an invitation to visit him. Isidor enquired how and where she had travelled, where she was going now, etc. He very soon noticed the phenomena which surrounded her and was deeply interested in them; he questioned her about them, put mental questions, and, after receiving sensible A answers, was still more surprised. When saying good-bye, he blessed her and said words regarding her exceptional gifts, words which always remained very dear to her, as the opinion on her gift of a high priest of the Orthodox Church. He said: "Every power comes from God, you need not feel dismayed if you do not abuse this power given to you. There are many undiscovered powers in nature. Many of them are not known to man, but it is not forbidden to discover and to use them. Man will gradually obtain control over these powers and will be able to apply them usefully for humanity. God bless you in all your kind and good deeds.
H.P.B. stayed in Trans-Caucasus (where her youth was spent) four years. Her talented and versatile nature steadily demanded new activities, new interests and occupations. It was impossible for her to be satisfied with every-day environment and the colourless life which was sufficient for most women. She was ever looking for varied goals as a fish looks for water or a wild bird for the open, boundless air for its flight. She roamed about constantly looking for something, trying to escape to the open world from ties or chains which restricted her. Ever dissatisfied, she started one thing after another and, disappointed again and again in her hopes, put aside enterprises she had begun and began to pursue a fresh attraction. This longing for something unknown, for some abstract thing which she could not grasp, as well as the sense of some task which she was called upon to fulfil, but which was not clear to herself at the beginning, ceased only when her interest was attracted by Theosophy. Then she stopped suddenly like a wandering ship which at last finds a good harbour and confidently drops her anchor. She stayed faithful to that teaching all her life; she gave her health, her time and her soul to it, recognising in it at last the task for which she was destined and in which she seemed to find a goal worthy of all her efforts: propagating among the peoples of all classes and races belief in the unity of spiritual powers in humanity and in the knowledge of Theosophy, the most ancient religion of the intellect. "Ideals and religion are lost nearly everywhere : pseudo-science has destroyed them. People of our age demand scientific proofs of the immortality of the soul. The ancient, esoteric Science-Religion of Aum, so called by the fathers of the Orthodox Church (from the Sanscrit root of the word Aum-the highest power), will give it to them."
But all this came much later. In her youth, H.P.B. roved from place to place, from one occupation to another, never finding any satisfaction. It is necessary to take into consideration the fact that in those times women's activities were not as comprehensive as they are now, but Blavatsky did not follow routine, and understood how to conquer such obstacles. She was very skilful with her hands and was a real artist in needlework and at making beautiful flowers : for a while she had a shop of her own which was a great success. Later she did business on a larger scale, rafting walnut-spunk over the frontier, for which purpose she moved over to Mingrella, on the Black Sea. Still later she manufactured ink by some cheap process and in this, too, she was successful, but she sold the business.
In 1864 she went to the south of Russia, from thence to Greece, and finally to Egypt. There, not having yet formed the opinion of the harmful nature of spiritualistic séances, she founded with much enthusiasm a local spiritualist society, during the sittings of which many strange things happened which were several times affirmed by local newspapers. During her sojourn in Cairo, Blavatsky, for the first time in her life, displayed a new gift, that of seeing the death of people far distant. In later years of her life this constantly happened. Scarcely any one of her family or friends, who were at a distance of about a thousand miles, died without her knowledge; she always saw them and the same day wrote d,escribing the phenomena and enquiring details of the death. "Is it true that Peter, the armless, is.dead," she wrote to me next day after the death of our mother's family servant before I had heard anything about it. "I saw him, just imagine; one of our English lady mediums, who was writing against one of the Pharaoh tombs, began to write sentences in a language which none of her companions could read. I was a little further oft and approached the tomb just in time to save from destruction a slip of paper containing, as those present thought, unintelligible signs. I read the following appeal to me in Russian. 'Help me, Barishnia pray for me, Barishnia; I am thirsty; I suffer.' As the person called me Barishnia I guessed that it was one of our own servants. So I took a pencil myself."
The writer, who called himself Peter Koutchereff, told Blavatsky that he had died the day before in the poorhouse where he had been placed, together with his brother, after the death of older members of Fadéefs family and the departure of the young ones from Tiflis. Peter told Blavatsky that his brother had died, too, not long before; and everything proved to be exactly true. Poor Peter had been all his life a terrible drunkard and possibly was punished with a terrible thirst, requital for his sin. After that séance, Peter appeared to H.P.B. and she wrote about matter in the same letter from Egypt, the man having died in Tiflis this the day before. I would like to add that the telegraph did not exist in the Caucasus at that time, even had anyone chosen to send her this uninteresting message.
In the year 1873 H. P. Blavatsky went to America. The Englishman, Sinnett, her biographer. in his book, Incidents in the life of Madame Blavalsky, asserts that she already had at that time constant psychic relations with her teachers (Masters) of the occult, in Tibet and Ceylon and that she was always ready to travel from country to country in obedience to their orders. It is left to the opinion of believers or sceptics to judge how far Sinnett was right; the fact is that scarcely had she entered this realm of spiritualism, where the Phenomena of materialisation already displayed themselves, than she began to express her sorrow and her indignation of it (spiritualism) in her letters. Her visit to the "Cottage Vermontof the brothers Eddy, of whom Colonel Olcott, wrote an entire book under the title People from the Other World, was the last stone in the scales of Blavatsky's opinion of spiritualism. She began to write in the American magazines one article after another explaining to people the dangers of mediumism, and her letters showed her irritation at the abuse of the strength of spiritualists, the health of the mediums and the credulity of the public.
At the Eddys' H.P.B. met for the first time an ardent spiritualist, a colonel of the American army, Henry Olcott, who had fought for the freedom of the slaves. Very soon she succeeded in bringing him to her way of thinking. Both ardent opponents of materialism, they did not deny the benefit of bringing to a world becoming coarsened by irreligion this sudden invasion of spiritualism; but they thought that its part in the scheme was to be limited to converting spiritualistic societies to religion, to "something which our wise men did not dream of' but not to bringing them to another extreme, to superstition and to the calling up of evil powers, in other words to "black magic".
"What sort of spiritualists are we, for God's sake?" wrote she to her relatives. "If I united here the newly formed Theosophical Society, a branch of the Aryan brotherhood of India, it is only because its members fight honestly against the abuse of power by pseudo prophets, the priests of Calchases, and against certain fallacies of the spiritualists. We are probably spiritualists, also, only not in the American fashion but in the ancient Alexandrian sense."
Very soon the American newspapers began to praise her articles, and the critical analysis of her press dispute with Professor Huxley, the upholder of materialism, caused much comment, During this time she decided to write her first scientific work, Isis Unveiled. Her letters began to contain more frequent and more determinate hints that what she wrote did not originate with her, that she herself did not understand what was going on in her being, that she talked and wrote about scientific and abstract matters, not of herself (because she "did not know anything about them") but it was put into her mind and dictated to her by someone who knew everything.
This strange manifestation, at the age of forty, of deep, scientific knowledge from some unknown source, together with the indication of some mysterious "inspiration", very much alarmed her relatives. They, for a while, feared for her mind.
"Tell me, my dear", wrote she to her aunt, are you interested in physiologic-psychological mysteries? The following is a wonderful problem then. We have in our society very learned members, for example Professor Wilder, archaeologist-orientalist. All of them come to me with questions and they assert that I know oriental languages and sciences, both positive and abstract, better than they do. This is a fact and one cannot deny a fact. Now, tell me, how could it happen that I, until middle age a complete ignoramus, am now a phenomenon of knowledge in the eyes, of men of science? Don't you think it is an insoluble mystery? I am a psychological problem, a puzzle and an enigma for the coming generations-a sphinx. Only think. I, who never studied anything in my life, I, who had no idea of chemistry, physics and zoology, am now writing on these subjects. I have disputes with men of science and beat them. I am not joking, I am talking seriously; I am frightened because I don't understand how it has happened. Everything I read now seems familiar to me. I find mistakes in scientific articles, in the lectures of Tyndall, Herbert Spencer, Huxley and others. I am visited from morning till night by professors, doctors of science and theologians. They start disputes and I always prove that I am right. Where is all this from? Am I bewitched?"
At the same time she sent clippings from different newspapers which proved her oral and written victories over different authorities. These same clippings announced to the world many such incredible facts about occult, phenomenal characteristics and abilities of the founder of the Theosophical Society that people of sound sense simply could not believe it. "The phenomena", or simply "miracles- which are described in 'books by her partisans, Olcott, judge, and later Sinnett and many others, brought Mme. Blavatsky only sorrow and accusations of charlatanism instead of fame. Sometimes eager friends are more dangerous than enemies. They only aroused mistrust in Theosophical teachings and in its founder, extolling that which she herself always called with contempt "psychological tricks" known to hundreds of people in India.
Her enemies, and they were numerous, made use of the imprudence of Mme. Blavatsky's partisans and accused her of "these tricks". Even if no one had ever heard about them it would not harm the cause and it would not lessen the value of her works, about which there are no two opinions: her friends and her enemies agree in acknowledging them ingenious. Her first chief work, Isis Unveiled, evoked hundreds of flattering criticisms, first in the American and later in the European press. Very few Russian people have read these two thick volumes with their long columns of minute references to writers of all countries. It is a remarkable fact that two prominent Russian men, the Armenian Archbishop, Most Reverend Aivazovsky, and the talented novelist, Vsevolod Sergeievich Solovieff, agreed in their opinion of this classical work of Mme. Blavatsky. The former had scarcely finished reading Isis Unveiled and Sinnett's Occult World, which throughout relates of phenomena, when he wrote to me that in his opinion "there cannot be a higher phenomenon than the appearance of such a work from the pen of a woman". The latter (Solovieff) writes in 1884, July 7, from Paris, near the same : "I read the second part of Isis and am completely persuaded that this is a phenomenon."
I think that these two opinions are enough for us Russians to prove that the book has irrefutable merits.
(To be continued.)
Who wrote under the nom-de-plume, "Zinaida R-va".
He was a very good but by no means an extraordinary middle-aged man occupying a government position at that time in the Caucasus.
It is usual in Russia to refer to people by surname only.
Raja Yoga - great man of wisdom. Raja Yoga should not be confused with fakirs or plain prestidigitators who demonstrate wonderful phenomena everywhere in India.
It will be noted that Mme. Jelihovsky never became an adherent of Theosophical teachings, and that in this short account of her sister's life she merely sets out faithfully to record and describe facts which may be classified under three headings; those which she herself observed, those related to her by other observers, and those gathered from Mme. Blavatsky's own statements, both oral and written.
"Barishnia" = "Miss".
The future President of the Theosophical Society and H.P.B.'s co-worker in-all its affairs from the very beginning.
People, from the Other World, which attracted the attention of Russians after the articles about it by professor Wagner in Russki Vestnik.
Her age must surely have been about forty-five!
adejda Andreyevna Fadéef.
Blavatsky herself considered this the weakest of all her works. In the article "My Books", one of her last articles in her magazine, Lucifer, she simply declared this to be so, confessing that at that time her knowledge of English was so poor that much of it was confusedly written (despite her writing under inspiration).
Later on Mr. Solovieff changed his opinion and tried to prove the contrary, but his letters, which I have kept, prove his falseness.