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Title: Isis unveiled, Volume 1 (of 2), Science

Author: H. P. Blavatsky

Release date: August 7, 2022 [eBook #68705]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: J. W. Bouton, 1878

Credits: David Edwards, Les Galloway and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged with the exception of Greek and Hebrew which have been extensively corrected. The corrections are listed at the end of the book.

The cover was prepared by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

Picture of Author

Isis Unveiled:



Mysteries of Ancient and Modern




“Cecy est un livre de bonne Foy.”—Montaigne.




Copyright, by

Printing and Bookbinding Co.
205-213 East 12th. St.,


Dedicates these Volumes




To Study the Subjects on which they Treat


Preface v
Dogmatic assumptions of modern science and theology ix
The Platonic philosophy affords the only middle ground xi
Review of the ancient philosophical systems xv
A Syriac manuscript on Simon Magus xxiii
Glossary of terms used in this book xxiii
Volume first.
The Oriental Kabala 1
Ancient traditions supported by modern research 3
The progress of mankind marked by cycles 5
Ancient cryptic science 7
Priceless value of the Vedas 12
Mutilations of the Jewish sacred books in translation 13
Magic always regarded as a divine science 25
Achievements of its adepts and hypotheses of their modern detractors 25
Man’s yearning for immortality 37
The servility of society 39
Prejudice and bigotry of men of science 40
They are chased by psychical phenomena 41
Lost arts 49
The human will the master-force of forces 57
Superficial generalizations of the French savants 60
Mediumistic phenomena, to what attributable 67
Their relation to crime 71
Huxley’s derivation from the Orohippus 74
Comte, his system and disciples 75
The London materialists 85
Borrowed robes 89
Emanation of the objective universe from the subjective 92
Theory of de Gasparin 100
Theory of Thury 100
Theory of des Mousseaux, de Mirville 100
Theory of Babinet 101
Theory of Houdin 101
Theory of MM. Royer and Jobart de Lamballe 102
The twins—“unconscious cerebration” and “unconscious ventriloquism.” 105
Theory of Crookes 112
Theory of Faraday 116
Theory of Chevreuil 116
The Mendeleyeff commission of 1876 117
Soul blindness 121
One primal force, but many correlations 126
Tyndall narrowly escapes a great discovery 127
The impossibility of miracle 128
Nature of the primordial substance 133
Interpretation of certain ancient myths 133
Experiments of the fakirs 139
Evolution in Hindu allegory 153
The debt we owe to Paracelsus 163
Mesmerism—its parentage, reception, potentiality 165
“Psychometry” 183
Time, space, eternity 184
Transfer of energy from the visible to the invisible universe 186
The Crookes experiments and Cox theory 195
Attraction and repulsion universal in all the kingdoms of nature 206
Psychical phenomena depend on physical surroundings 211
Observations in Siam 214
Music in nervous disorders 215
The “world-soul” and its potentialities 216
Healing by touch, and healers 217
“Diakka” and Porphyry’s bad demons 219
The quenchless lamp 224
Modern ignorance of vital force 237
Antiquity of the theory of force-correlation 241
Universality of belief in magic 247
Do the planets affect human destiny? 253
Very curious passage from Hermes 254
The restlessness of matter 257
Prophecy of Nostradamus fulfilled 260
Sympathies between planets and plants 264
Hindu knowledge of the properties of colors 265
“Coincidences” the panacea of modern science 268
The moon and the tides 273
Epidemic mental and moral disorders 274
The gods of the Pantheons only natural forces 280
Proofs of the magical powers of Pythagoras 283
The viewless races of ethereal space 284
The “four truths” of Buddhism 291
Meaning of the expression “coats of skin” 293
Natural selection and its results 295
The Egyptian “circle of necessity” 296
Pre-Adamite races 299
Descent of spirit into matter 302
The triune nature of man 309
The lowest creatures in the scale of being 310
Elementals specifically described 311
Proclus on the beings of the air 312
Various names for elementals 313
Swedenborgian views on soul-death 317
Earth-bound human souls 319
Impure mediums and their “guides” 325
Psychometry an aid to scientific research 333
Père Félix arraigns the scientists 338
The “Unknowable” 340
Danger of evocations by tyros 342
Lares and Lemures 345
Secrets of Hindu temples 350
Reïncarnation 351
Witchcraft and witches 353
The sacred soma trance 357
Vulnerability of certain “shadows” 363
Experiment of Clearchus on a sleeping boy 365
The author witnesses a trial of magic in India 369
Case of the Cevennois 371
Invulnerability attainable by man 379
Projecting the force of the will 380
Insensibility to snake-poison 381
Charming serpents by music 383
Teratological phenomena discussed 385
The psychological domain confessedly unexplored 407
Despairing regrets of Berzelius 411
Turning a river into blood a vegetable phenomenon 413
Confessions of ignorance by men of science 417
The Pantheon of nihilism 421
Triple composition of fire 423
Instinct and reason defined 425
Philosophy of the Hindu Jaïns 429
Deliberate misrepresentations of Lemprière 431
Man’s astral soul not immortal 432
The reïncarnation of Buddha 437
Magical sun and moon pictures of Thibet 441
Vampirism—its phenomena explained 449
Bengalese jugglery 457
The rationale of talismans 462
Unexplained mysteries 466
Magical experiment in Bengal 467
Chibh Chondor’s surprising feats 471
The Indian tape-climbing trick an illusion 473
Resuscitation of buried fakirs 477
Limits of suspended animation 481
Mediumship totally antagonistic to adeptship 487
What are “materialized spirits”? 493
The Shudâla Mâdan 495
Philosophy of levitation 497
The elixir and alkahest 503
Origin of the Egyptians 515
Their mighty engineering works 517
The ancient land of the Pharaohs 521
Antiquity of the Nilotic monuments 529
Arts of war and peace 531
Mexican myths and ruins 545
Resemblances to the Egyptian 551
Moses a priest of Osiris 555
The lessons taught by the ruins of Siam 563
The Egyptian Tau at Palenque 573
Acquisition of the “secret doctrine” 575
Two relics owned by a Pali scholar 577
Jealous exclusiveness of the Hindus 581
Lydia Maria Child on Phallic symbolism 583
The age of the Vedas and Manu 587
Traditions of pre-diluvian races 589
Atlantis and its peoples 593
Peruvian relics 597
The Gobi desert and its secrets 599
Thibetan and Chinese legends 600
The magician aids, not impedes, nature 617
Philosophy, religion, arts and sciences bequeathed by Mother India to posterity 618

[Pg v]


The work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their science. It is offered to such as are willing to accept truth wherever it may be found, and to defend it, even looking popular prejudice straight in the face. It is an attempt to aid the student to detect the vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old.

The book is written in all sincerity. It is meant to do even justice, and to speak the truth alike without malice or prejudice. But it shows neither mercy for enthroned error, nor reverence for usurped authority. It demands for a spoliated past, that credit for its achievements which has been too long withheld. It calls for a restitution of borrowed robes, and the vindication of calumniated but glorious reputations. Toward no form of worship, no religious faith, no scientific hypothesis has its criticism been directed in any other spirit. Men and parties, sects and schools are but the mere ephemera of the world’s day. Truth, high-seated upon its rock of adamant, is alone eternal and supreme.

We believe in no Magic which transcends the scope and capacity of the human mind, nor in “miracle,” whether divine or diabolical, if such imply a transgression of the laws of nature instituted from all eternity. Nevertheless, we accept the saying of the gifted author of Festus, that the human heart has not yet fully uttered itself, and that we have never attained or even understood the extent of its powers. Is it too much to believe that man should be developing new sensibilities and a closer relation with nature? The logic of evolution must teach as much, if carried to its legitimate conclusions. If, somewhere, in the line of ascent from vegetable or ascidian to the noblest man a soul was evolved, gifted with intellectual qualities, it cannot be unreasonable to infer and believe that a faculty of perception is also growing in man, enabling him to descry facts and truths even beyond our ordinary ken. Yet we do not hesitate to accept the assertion of Biffé, that “the essential is forever the same. Whether we cut away the marble inward that hides the statue in the[Pg vi] block, or pile stone upon stone outward till the temple is completed, our NEW result is only an old idea. The latest of all the eternities will find its destined other half-soul in the earliest.”

When, years ago, we first travelled over the East, exploring the penetralia of its deserted sanctuaries, two saddening and ever-recurring questions oppressed our thoughts: Where, WHO, WHAT is GOD? Who ever saw the IMMORTAL SPIRIT of man, so as to be able to assure himself of man’s immortality?

It was while most anxious to solve these perplexing problems that we came into contact with certain men, endowed with such mysterious powers and such profound knowledge that we may truly designate them as the sages of the Orient. To their instructions we lent a ready ear. They showed us that by combining science with religion, the existence of God and immortality of man’s spirit may be demonstrated like a problem of Euclid. For the first time we received the assurance that the Oriental philosophy has room for no other faith than an absolute and immovable faith in the omnipotence of man’s own immortal self. We were taught that this omnipotence comes from the kinship of man’s spirit with the Universal Soul—God! The latter, they said, can never be demonstrated but by the former. Man-spirit proves God-spirit, as the one drop of water proves a source from which it must have come. Tell one who had never seen water, that there is an ocean of water, and he must accept it on faith or reject it altogether. But let one drop fall upon his hand, and he then has the fact from which all the rest may be inferred. After that he could by degrees understand that a boundless and fathomless ocean of water existed. Blind faith would no longer be necessary; he would have supplanted it with KNOWLEDGE. When one sees mortal man displaying tremendous capabilities, controlling the forces of nature and opening up to view the world of spirit, the reflective mind is overwhelmed with the conviction that if one man’s spiritual Ego can do this much, the capabilities of the Father Spirit must be relatively as much vaster as the whole ocean surpasses the single drop in volume and potency. Ex nihilo nihil fit; prove the soul of man by its wondrous powers—you have proved God!

In our studies, mysteries were shown to be no mysteries. Names and places that to the Western mind have only a significance derived from Eastern fable, were shown to be realities. Reverently we stepped in spirit within the temple of Isis; to lift aside the veil of “the one that is and was and shall be” at Saïs; to look through the rent curtain of the Sanctum Sanctorum at Jerusalem; and even to interrogate within the crypts which once existed beneath the sacred edifice, the mysterious Bath-Kol. The Filia Vocis—the daughter of the divine voice—responded[Pg vii] from the mercy-seat within the veil,[1] and science, theology, every human hypothesis and conception born of imperfect knowledge, lost forever their authoritative character in our sight. The one-living God had spoken through his oracle—man, and we were satisfied. Such knowledge is priceless; and it has been hidden only from those who overlooked it, derided it, or denied its existence.

From such as these we apprehend criticism, censure, and perhaps hostility, although the obstacles in our way neither spring from the validity of proof, the authenticated facts of history, nor the lack of common sense among the public whom we address. The drift of modern thought is palpably in the direction of liberalism in religion as well as science. Each day brings the reactionists nearer to the point where they must surrender the despotic authority over the public conscience, which they have so long enjoyed and exercised. When the Pope can go to the extreme of fulminating anathemas against all who maintain the liberty of the Press and of speech, or who insist that in the conflict of laws, civil and ecclesiastical, the civil law should prevail, or that any method of instruction solely secular, may be approved;[2] and Mr. Tyndall, as the mouthpiece of nineteenth century science, says, “... the impregnable position of science may be stated in a few words: we claim, and we shall wrest from theology, the entire domain of cosmological theory”[3]—the end is not difficult to foresee.

Centuries of subjection have not quite congealed the life-blood of men into crystals around the nucleus of blind faith; and the nineteenth is witnessing the struggles of the giant as he shakes off the Liliputian cordage and rises to his feet. Even the Protestant communion of England and America, now engaged in the revision of the text of its Oracles, will be compelled to show the origin and merits of the text itself. The day of domineering over men with dogmas has reached its gloaming.

Our work, then, is a plea for the recognition of the Hermetic philosophy, the anciently universal Wisdom-Religion, as the only possible key to the Absolute in science and theology. To show that we do not at all conceal from ourselves the gravity of our undertaking, we may say in advance that it would not be strange if the following classes should array themselves against us:

[Pg viii]

The Christians, who will see that we question the evidences of the genuineness of their faith.

The Scientists, who will find their pretensions placed in the same bundle with those of the Roman Catholic Church for infallibility, and, in certain particulars, the sages and philosophers of the ancient world classed higher than they.

Pseudo-Scientists will, of course, denounce us furiously.

Broad Churchmen and Freethinkers will find that we do not accept what they do, but demand the recognition of the whole truth.

Men of letters and various authorities, who hide their real belief in deference to popular prejudices.

The mercenaries and parasites of the Press, who prostitute its more than royal power, and dishonor a noble profession, will find it easy to mock at things too wonderful for them to understand; for to them the price of a paragraph is more than the value of sincerity. From many will come honest criticism; from many—cant. But we look to the future.

The contest now going on between the party of public conscience and the party of reaction, has already developed a healthier tone of thought. It will hardly fail to result ultimately in the overthrow of error and the triumph of Truth. We repeat again—we are laboring for the brighter morrow.

And yet, when we consider the bitter opposition that we are called upon to face, who is better entitled than we upon entering the arena to write upon our shield the hail of the Roman gladiator to Cæsar: Moriturus te Salutat!

New York, September, 1877.

[Pg ix]


Joan.—Advance our waving colors on the walls!—King Henry VI. Act IV.

“My life has been devoted to the study of man, his destiny and his happiness.”

J. R. Buchanan, M.D., Outlines of Lectures on Anthropology.

It is nineteen centuries since, as we are told, the night of Heathenism and Paganism was first dispelled by the divine light of Christianity; and two-and-a-half centuries since the bright lamp of Modern Science began to shine on the darkness of the ignorance of the ages. Within these respective epochs, we are required to believe, the true moral and intellectual progress of the race has occurred. The ancient philosophers were well enough for their respective generations, but they were illiterate as compared with modern men of science. The ethics of Paganism perhaps met the wants of the uncultivated people of antiquity, but not until the advent of the luminous “Star of Bethlehem,” was the true road to moral perfection and the way to salvation made plain. Of old, brutishness was the rule, virtue and spirituality the exception. Now, the dullest may read the will of God in His revealed word; men have every incentive to be good, and are constantly becoming better.

This is the assumption; what are the facts? On the one hand an unspiritual, dogmatic, too often debauched clergy; a host of sects, and three warring great religions; discord instead of union, dogmas without proofs, sensation-loving preachers, and wealth and pleasure-seeking parishioners’ hypocrisy and bigotry, begotten by the tyrannical exigencies of respectability, the rule of the day, sincerity and real piety exceptional. On the other hand, scientific hypotheses built on sand; no accord upon a single question; rancorous quarrels and jealousy; a general drift into materialism. A death-grapple of Science with Theology for infallibility—“a conflict of ages.”

At Rome, the self-styled seat of Christianity, the putative successor to the chair of Peter is undermining social order with his invisible but omnipresent net-work of bigoted agents, and incites them to revolutionize Europe for his temporal as well as spiritual supremacy. We see him who calls himself the “Vicar of Christ,” fraternizing with the anti-Christian Moslem against another Christian nation, publicly invoking the blessing of God upon the arms of those who have for centuries withstood, with[Pg x] fire and sword, the pretensions of his Christ to Godhood! At Berlin—one of the great seats of learning—professors of modern exact sciences, turning their backs on the boasted results of enlightenment of the post-Galileonian period, are quietly snuffing out the candle of the great Florentine; seeking, in short, to prove the heliocentric system, and even the earth’s rotation, but the dreams of deluded scientists, Newton a visionary, and all past and present astronomers but clever calculators of unverifiable problems.[4]

Between these two conflicting Titans—Science and Theology—is a bewildered public, fast losing all belief in man’s personal immortality, in a deity of any kind, and rapidly descending to the level of a mere animal existence. Such is the picture of the hour, illumined by the bright noon-day sun of this Christian and scientific era!

Would it be strict justice to condemn to critical lapidation the most humble and modest of authors for entirely rejecting the authority of both these combatants? Are we not bound rather to take as the true aphorism of this century, the declaration of Horace Greeley: “I accept unreservedly the views of no man, living or dead”?[5] Such, at all events, will be our motto, and we mean that principle to be our constant guide throughout this work.

Among the many phenomenal outgrowths of our century, the strange creed of the so-called Spiritualists has arisen amid the tottering ruins of self-styled revealed religions and materialistic philosophies; and yet it alone offers a possible last refuge of compromise between the two. That this unexpected ghost of pre-Christian days finds poor welcome from our sober and positive century, is not surprising. Times have strangely changed; and it is but recently that a well-known Brooklyn preacher pointedly remarked in a sermon, that could Jesus come back and behave in the streets of New York, as he did in those of Jerusalem, he would find himself confined in the prison of the Tombs.[6] What sort of welcome, then, could Spiritualism ever expect? True enough, the weird stranger seems neither attractive nor promising at first sight. Shapeless and uncouth, like an infant attended by seven nurses, it is coming out of its teens lame and mutilated. The name of its enemies is legion; its friends and protectors are a handful. But what of that? When was ever truth accepted à priori? Because the champions of Spiritualism have in their fanaticism magnified its qualities, and remained blind to its imperfections, that gives no excuse to doubt its reality. A forgery is impossible when we have no model to forge after. The fanaticism of Spiritualists is itself[Pg xi] a proof of the genuineness and possibility of their phenomena. They give us facts that we may investigate, not assertions that we must believe without proof. Millions of reasonable men and women do not so easily succumb to collective hallucination. And so, while the clergy, following their own interpretations of the Bible, and science its self-made Codex of possibilities in nature, refuse it a fair hearing, real science and true religion are silent, and gravely wait further developments.

The whole question of phenomena rests on the correct comprehension of old philosophies. Whither, then, should we turn, in our perplexity, but to the ancient sages, since, on the pretext of superstition, we are refused an explanation by the modern? Let us ask them what they know of genuine science and religion; not in the matter of mere details, but in all the broad conception of these twin truths—so strong in their unity, so weak when divided. Besides, we may find our profit in comparing this boasted modern science with ancient ignorance; this improved modern theology with the “Secret doctrines” of the ancient universal religion. Perhaps we may thus discover a neutral ground whence we can reach and profit by both.

It is the Platonic philosophy, the most elaborate compend of the abstruse systems of old India, that can alone afford us this middle ground. Although twenty-two and a quarter centuries have elapsed since the death of Plato, the great minds of the world are still occupied with his writings. He was, in the fullest sense of the word, the world’s interpreter. And the greatest philosopher of the pre-Christian era mirrored faithfully in his works the spiritualism of the Vedic philosophers who lived thousands of years before himself, and its metaphysical expression. Vyasa, Djeminy, Kapila, Vrihaspati, Sumati, and so many others, will be found to have transmitted their indelible imprint through the intervening centuries upon Plato and his school. Thus is warranted the inference that to Plato and the ancient Hindu sages was alike revealed the same wisdom. So surviving the shock of time, what can this wisdom be but divine and eternal?

Plato taught justice as subsisting in the soul of its possessor and his greatest good. “Men, in proportion to their intellect, have admitted his transcendent claims.” Yet his commentators, almost with one consent, shrink from every passage which implies that his metaphysics are based on a solid foundation, and not on ideal conceptions.

But Plato could not accept a philosophy destitute of spiritual aspirations; the two were at one with him. For the old Grecian sage there was a single object of attainment: REAL KNOWLEDGE. He considered those only to be genuine philosophers, or students of truth, who possess the knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to the mere seeing; of[Pg xii] the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory; and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which waxes, wanes, and is developed and destroyed alternately. “Beyond all finite existences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas, and principles, there is an INTELLIGENCE or MIND [νοῦς, nous, the spirit], the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded; the Monarch and Lawgiver of the universe; the ultimate substance from which all things derive their being and essence, the first and efficient Cause of all the order, and harmony, and beauty, and excellency, and goodness, which pervades the universe—who is called, by way of preëminence and excellence, the Supreme Good, the God (ὁ θεός) ‘the God over all’ (ὁ επι πασι θεός).”[7] He is not the truth nor the intelligence, but “the father of it.” Though this eternal essence of things may not be perceptible by our physical senses, it may be apprehended by the mind of those who are not wilfully obtuse. “To you,” said Jesus to his elect disciples, “it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to them [the πολλοὶ] it is not given; ... therefore speak I to them in parables [or allegories]; because they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand.”[8]

The philosophy of Plato, we are assured by Porphyry, of the Neo-platonic School was taught and illustrated in the MYSTERIES. Many have questioned and even denied this; and Lobeck, in his Aglaophomus, has gone to the extreme of representing the sacred orgies as little more than an empty show to captivate the imagination. As though Athens and Greece would for twenty centuries and more have repaired every fifth year to Eleusis to witness a solemn religious farce! Augustine, the papa-bishop of Hippo, has resolved such assertions. He declares that the doctrines of the Alexandrian Platonists were the original esoteric doctrines of the first followers of Plato, and describes Plotinus as a Plato resuscitated. He also explains the motives of the great philosopher for veiling the interior sense of what he taught.[9]

[Pg xiii]

As to the myths, Plato declares in the Gorgias and the Phædon that they were the vehicles of great truths well worth the seeking. But commentators are so little en rapport with the great philosopher as to be compelled to acknowledge that they are ignorant where “the doctrinal ends, and the mythical begins.” Plato put to flight the popular superstition concerning magic and dæmons, and developed the exaggerated notions of the time into rational theories and metaphysical conceptions. Perhaps these would not quite stand the inductive method of reasoning established by Aristotle; nevertheless they are satisfactory in the highest degree to those who apprehend the existence of that higher faculty of insight or intuition, as affording a criterion for ascertaining truth.

Basing all his doctrines upon the presence of the Supreme Mind, Plato taught that the nous, spirit, or rational soul of man, being “generated by the Divine Father,” possessed a nature kindred, or even homogeneous, with the Divinity, and was capable of beholding the eternal realities. This faculty of contemplating reality in a direct and immediate manner belongs to God alone; the aspiration for this knowledge constitutes what is really meant by philosophy—the love of wisdom. The love of truth is inherently the love of good; and so predominating over every desire of the soul, purifying it and assimilating it to the divine, thus governing every act of the individual, it raises man to a participation and communion with Divinity, and restores him to the likeness of God. “This flight,” says Plato in the Theætetus, “consists in becoming like God, and this assimilation is the becoming just and holy with wisdom.”

The basis of this assimilation is always asserted to be the preëxistence of the spirit or nous. In the allegory of the chariot and winged steeds, given in the Phædrus, he represents the psychical nature as composite and two-fold; the thumos, or epithumetic part, formed from the substances of the world of phenomena; and the θυμοειδές, thumoeides, the essence of which is linked to the eternal world. The present earth-life is a fall and punishment. The soul dwells in “the grave which we call the body,” and in its incorporate state, and previous to the discipline of education, the noëtic or spiritual element is “asleep.” Life is thus a dream, rather than a reality. Like the captives in the subterranean cave, described in The Republic, the back is turned to the light, we perceive only the shadows of objects, and think them the actual realities. Is not this[Pg xiv] the idea of Maya, or the illusion of the senses in physical life, which is so marked a feature in Buddhistical philosophy? But these shadows, if we have not given ourselves up absolutely to the sensuous nature, arouse in us the reminiscence of that higher world that we once inhabited. “The interior spirit has some dim and shadowy recollection of its antenatal state of bliss, and some instinctive and proleptic yearnings for its return.” It is the province of the discipline of philosophy to disinthrall it from the bondage of sense, and raise it into the empyrean of pure thought, to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty. “The soul,” says Plato, in the Theætetus, “cannot come into the form of a man if it has never seen the truth. This is a recollection of those things which our soul formerly saw when journeying with Deity, despising the things which we now say are, and looking up to that which REALLY IS. Wherefore the nous, or spirit, of the philosopher (or student of the higher truth) alone is furnished with wings; because he, to the best of his ability, keeps these things in mind, of which the contemplation renders even Deity itself divine. By making the right use of these things remembered from the former life, by constantly perfecting himself in the perfect mysteries, a man becomes truly perfect—an initiate into the diviner wisdom.”

Hence we may understand why the sublimer scenes in the Mysteries were always in the night. The life of the interior spirit is the death of the external nature; and the night of the physical world denotes the day of the spiritual. Dionysus, the night-sun, is, therefore, worshipped rather than Helios, orb of day. In the Mysteries were symbolized the preëxistent condition of the spirit and soul, and the lapse of the latter into earth-life and Hades, the miseries of that life, the purification of the soul, and its restoration to divine bliss, or reünion with spirit. Theon, of Smyrna, aptly compares the philosophical discipline to the mystic rites: “Philosophy,” says he, “may be called the initiation into the true arcana, and the instruction in the genuine Mysteries. There are five parts of this initiation: I., the previous purification; II., the admission to participation in the arcane rites; III., the epoptic revelation; IV., the investiture or enthroning; V.—the fifth, which is produced from all these, is friendship and interior communion with God, and the enjoyment of that felicity which arises from intimate converse with divine beings.... Plato denominates the epopteia, or personal view, the perfect contemplation of things which are apprehended intuitively, absolute truths and ideas. He also considers the binding of the head and crowning as analogous to the authority which any one receives from his instructors, of leading others into the same contemplation. The fifth gradation is the most perfect felicity arising from hence, and, according[Pg xv] to Plato, an assimilation to divinity as far as is possible to human beings.”[10]

Such is Platonism. “Out of Plato,” says Ralph Waldo Emerson, “come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought.” He absorbed the learning of his times—of Greece from Philolaus to Socrates; then of Pythagoras in Italy; then what he could procure from Egypt and the East. He was so broad that all philosophy, European and Asiatic, was in his doctrines; and to culture and contemplation he added the nature and qualities of the poet.

The followers of Plato generally adhered strictly to his psychological theories. Several, however, like Xenocrates, ventured into bolder speculations. Speusippus, the nephew and successor of the great philosopher, was the author of the Numerical Analysis, a treatise on the Pythagorean numbers. Some of his speculations are not found in the written Dialogues; but as he was a listener to the unwritten lectures of Plato, the judgment of Enfield is doubtless correct, that he did not differ from his master. He was evidently, though not named, the antagonist whom Aristotle criticised, when professing to cite the argument of Plato against the doctrine of Pythagoras, that all things were in themselves numbers, or rather, inseparable from the idea of numbers. He especially endeavored to show that the Platonic doctrine of ideas differed essentially from the Pythagorean, in that it presupposed numbers and magnitudes to exist apart from things. He also asserted that Plato taught that there could be no real knowledge, if the object of that knowledge was not carried beyond or above the sensible.

But Aristotle was no trustworthy witness. He misrepresented Plato, and he almost caricatured the doctrines of Pythagoras. There is a canon of interpretation, which should guide us in our examinations of every philosophical opinion: “The human mind has, under the necessary operation of its own laws, been compelled to entertain the same fundamental ideas, and the human heart to cherish the same feelings in all ages.” It is certain that Pythagoras awakened the deepest intellectual sympathy of his age, and that his doctrines exerted a powerful influence upon the mind of Plato. His cardinal idea was that there existed a permanent principle of unity beneath the forms, changes, and other phenomena of the universe. Aristotle asserted that he taught that “numbers are the first principles of all entities.” Ritter has expressed the opinion that the formula of Pythagoras should be taken symbolically, which is doubtless correct. Aristotle goes on to associate these numbers with the “forms” and “ideas” of Plato. He even declares that Plato said:[Pg xvi] “forms are numbers,” and that “ideas are substantial existences—real beings.” Yet Plato did not so teach. He declared that the final cause was the Supreme Goodness—το ἀγαθόν. “Ideas are objects of pure conception for the human reason, and they are attributes of the Divine Reason.”[11] Nor did he ever say that “forms are numbers.” What he did say may be found in the Timæus: “God formed things as they first arose according to forms and numbers.”

It is recognized by modern science that all the higher laws of nature assume the form of quantitative statement. This is perhaps a fuller elaboration or more explicit affirmation of the Pythagorean doctrine. Numbers were regarded as the best representations of the laws of harmony which pervade the cosmos. We know too that in chemistry the doctrine of atoms and the laws of combination are actually and, as it were, arbitrarily defined by numbers. As Mr. W. Archer Butler has expressed it: “The world is, then, through all its departments, a living arithmetic in its development, a realized geometry in its repose.”

The key to the Pythagorean dogmas is the general formula of unity in multiplicity, the one evolving the many and pervading the many. This is the ancient doctrine of emanation in few words. Even the apostle Paul accepted it as true. “Εξ αυτοὺ, και δι᾽ αυτοῦ, και εις αυτὸν τὰ πάντα”—Out of him and through him and in him all things are. This, as we can see by the following quotation, is purely Hindu and Brahmanical:

“When the dissolution—Pralaya—had arrived at its term, the great Being—Para-Atma or Para-Purusha—the Lord existing through himself, out of whom and through whom all things were, and are and will be ... resolved to emanate from his own substance the various creatures” (Manava-Dharma-Sastra, book i., slokas 6 and 7).

The mystic Decad 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 is a way of expressing this idea. The One is God, the Two, matter; the Three, combining Monad and Duad, and partaking of the nature of both, is the phenomenal world; the Tetrad, or form of perfection, expresses the emptiness of all; and the Decad, or sum of all, involves the entire cosmos. The universe is the combination of a thousand elements, and yet the expression of a single spirit—a chaos to the sense, a cosmos to the reason.

The whole of this combination of the progression of numbers in the idea of creation is Hindu. The Being existing through himself, Swayambhu or Swayambhuva, as he is called by some, is one. He emanates from himself the creative faculty, Brahma or Purusha (the divine male), and the one becomes Two; out of this Duad, union of the purely[Pg xvii] intellectual principle with the principle of matter, evolves a third, which is Viradj, the phenomenal world. It is out of this invisible and incomprehensible trinity, the Brahmanic Trimurty, that evolves the second triad which represents the three faculties—the creative, the conservative, and the transforming. These are typified by Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, but are again and ever blended into one. Unity, Brahma, or as the Vedas called him, Tridandi, is the god triply manifested, which gave rise to the symbolical Aum or the abbreviated Trimurty. It is but under this trinity, ever active and tangible to all our senses, that the invisible and unknown Monas can manifest itself to the world of mortals. When he becomes Sarira, or he who puts on a visible form, he typifies all the principles of matter, all the germs of life, he is Purusha, the god of the three visages, or triple power, the essence of the Vedic triad. “Let the Brahmas know the sacred Syllable (Aum), the three words of the Savitri, and read the Vedas daily” (Manu, book iv., sloka 125).

“After having produced the universe, He whose power is incomprehensible vanished again, absorbed in the Supreme Soul.... Having retired into the primitive darkness, the great Soul remains within the unknown, and is void of all form....

“When having again reünited the subtile elementary principles, it introduces itself into either a vegetable or animal seed, it assumes at each a new form.”

“It is thus that, by an alternative waking and rest, the Immutable Being causes to revive and die eternally all the existing creatures, active and inert” (Manu, book i., sloka 50, and others).

He who has studied Pythagoras and his speculations on the Monad, which, after having emanated the Duad retires into silence and darkness, and thus creates the Triad can realize whence came the philosophy of the great Samian Sage, and after him that of Socrates and Plato.

Speusippus seems to have taught that the psychical or thumetic soul was immortal as well as the spirit or rational soul, and further on we will show his reasons. He also—like Philolaus and Aristotle, in his disquisitions upon the soul—makes of æther an element; so that there were five principal elements to correspond with the five regular figures in Geometry. This became also a doctrine of the Alexandrian school.[12] Indeed, there was much in the doctrines of the Philaletheans which did not appear in the works of the older Platonists, but was doubtless taught in substance by the philosopher himself, but with his usual reticence was not committed to writing as being too arcane for promiscuous publication. Speusippus and Xenocrates after him, held, like their great master, that the[Pg xviii] anima mundi, or world-soul, was not the Deity, but a manifestation. Those philosophers never conceived of the One as an animate nature.[13] The original One did not exist, as we understand the term. Not till he had united with the many—emanated existence (the monad and duad) was a being produced. The τίμιον, honored—the something manifested, dwells in the centre as in the circumference, but it is only the reflection of the Deity—the World-Soul.[14] In this doctrine we find the spirit of esoteric Buddhism.

A man’s idea of God, is that image of blinding light that he sees reflected in the concave mirror of his own soul, and yet this is not, in very truth, God, but only His reflection. His glory is there, but, it is the light of his own Spirit that the man sees, and it is all he can bear to look upon. The clearer the mirror, the brighter will be the divine image. But the external world cannot be witnessed in it at the same moment. In the ecstatic Yogin, in the illuminated Seer, the spirit will shine like the noon-day sun; in the debased victim of earthly attraction, the radiance has disappeared, for the mirror is obscured with the stains of matter. Such men deny their God, and would willingly deprive humanity of soul at one blow.

No God, No Soul? Dreadful, annihilating thought! The maddening nightmare of a lunatic—Atheist; presenting before his fevered vision, a hideous, ceaseless procession of sparks of cosmic matter created by no one; self-appearing, self-existent, and self-developing; this Self no Self, for it is nothing and nobody; floating onward from nowhence, it is propelled by no Cause, for there is none, and it rushes nowhither. And this in a circle of Eternity blind, inert, and—CAUSELESS. What is even the erroneous conception of the Buddhistic Nirvana in comparison! The Nirvana is preceded by numberless spiritual transformations and metempsychoses, during which the entity loses not for a second the sense of its own individuality, and which may last for millions of ages before the Final No-thing is reached.

Though some have considered Speusippus as inferior to Aristotle, the world is nevertheless indebted to him for defining and expounding many things that Plato had left obscure in his doctrine of the Sensible and Ideal. His maxim was “The Immaterial is known by means of scientific thought, the Material by scientific perception.”[15]

Xenocrates expounded many of the unwritten theories and teachings of his master. He too held the Pythagorean doctrine, and his system of numerals and mathematics in the highest estimation. Recognizing but three degrees of knowledge—Thought, Perception, and Envisagement (or knowledge by Intuition), he made the former busy itself with all that[Pg xix] which is beyond the heavens; Perception with things in the heavens; Intuition with the heavens themselves.

We find again these theories, and nearly in the same language in the Manava-Dharma-Sastra, when speaking of the creation of man: “He (the Supreme) drew from his own essence the immortal breath which perisheth not in the being, and to this soul of the being he gave the Ahancara (conscience of the ego) sovereign guide. Then he gave to that soul of the being (man) the intellect formed of the three qualities, and the five organs of the outward perception.”

These three qualities are Intelligence, Conscience, and Will; answering to the Thought, Perception, and Envisagement of Xenocrates. The relation of numbers to Ideas was developed by him further than by Speusippus, and he surpassed Plato in his definition of the doctrine of Invisible Magnitudes. Reducing them to their ideal primary elements, he demonstrated that every figure and form originated out of the smallest indivisible line. That Xenocrates held the same theories as Plato in relation to the human soul (supposed to be a number) is evident, though Aristotle contradicts this, like every other teaching of this philosopher.[16] This is conclusive evidence that many of Plato’s doctrines were delivered orally, even were it shown that Xenocrates and not Plato was the first to originate the theory of indivisible magnitudes. He derives the Soul from the first Duad, and calls it a self-moved number.[17] Theophrastus remarks that he entered and eliminated this Soul-theory more than any other Platonist. He built upon it the cosmological doctrine, and proved the necessary existence in every part of the universal space of a successive and progressive series of animated and thinking though spiritual beings.[18] The Human Soul with him is a compound of the most spiritual properties of the Monad and the Duad, possessing the highest principles of both. If, like Plato and Prodicus, he refers to the Elements as to Divine Powers, and calls them gods, neither himself nor others connected any anthropomorphic idea with the appellation. Krische remarks that he called them gods only that these elementary powers should not be confounded with the dæmons of the nether world[19] (the Elementary Spirits). As the Soul of the World permeates the whole Cosmos, even beasts must have in them something divine.[20] This, also, is the doctrine of Buddhists and the Hermetists, and Manu endows with a living soul even the plants and the tiniest blade of grass.

The dæmons, according to this theory, are intermediate beings[Pg xx] between the divine perfection and human sinfulness,[21] and he divides them into classes, each subdivided in many others. But he states expressly that the individual or personal soul is the leading guardian dæmon of every man, and that no dæmon has more power over us than our own. Thus the Daimonion of Socrates is the god or Divine Entity which inspired him all his life. It depends on man either to open or close his perceptions to the Divine voice. Like Speusippus he ascribed immortality to the ψυχη, psychical body, or irrational soul. But some Hermetic philosophers have taught that the soul has a separate continued existence only so long as in its passage through the spheres any material or earthly particles remain incorporated in it; and that when absolutely purified, the latter are annihilated, and the quintessence of the soul alone becomes blended with its divine spirit (the Rational), and the two are thenceforth one.

Zeller states that Xenocrates forbade the eating of animal food, not because he saw in beasts something akin to man, as he ascribed to them a dim consciousness of God, but, “for the opposite reason, lest the irrationality of animal souls might thereby obtain a certain influence over us.”[22] But we believe that it was rather because, like Pythagoras, he had had the Hindu sages for his masters and models. Cicero depicted Xenocrates utterly despising everything except the highest virtue;[23] and describes the stainlessness and severe austerity of his character.[24] “To free ourselves from the subjection of sensuous existence, to conquer the Titanic elements in our terrestrial nature through the Divine one, is our problem.” Zeller makes him say:[25] “Purity, even in the secret longings of our heart, is the greatest duty, and only philosophy and the initiation into the Mysteries help toward the attainment of this object.”

Crantor, another philosopher associated with the earliest days of Plato’s Academy, conceived the human soul as formed out of the primary substance of all things, the Monad or One, and the Duad or the Two. Plutarch speaks at length of this philosopher, who like his master believed in souls being distributed in earthly bodies as an exile and punishment.

Herakleides, though some critics do not believe him to have strictly adhered to Plato’s primal philosophy,[26] taught the same ethics. Zeller presents him to us imparting, like Hicetas and Ecphantus, the Pythagorean doctrine of the diurnal rotation of the earth and the immobility of the fixed stars, but adds that he was ignorant of the annual revolution of the[Pg xxi] earth around the sun, and of the heliocentric system.[27] But we have good evidence that the latter system was taught in the Mysteries, and that Socrates died for atheism, i. e., for divulging this sacred knowledge. Herakleides adopted fully the Pythagorean and Platonic views of the human soul, its faculties and its capabilities. He describes it as a luminous, highly ethereal essence. He affirms that souls inhabit the milky way before descending “into generation” or sublunary existence. His dæmons or spirits are airy and vaporous bodies.

In the Epinomis is fully stated the doctrine of the Pythagorean numbers in relation to created things. As a true Platonist, its author maintains that wisdom can only be attained by a thorough inquiry into the occult nature of the creation; it alone assures us an existence of bliss after death. The immortality of the soul is greatly speculated upon in this treatise; but its author adds that we can attain to this knowledge only through a complete comprehension of the numbers; for the man, unable to distinguish the straight line from a curved one will never have wisdom enough to secure a mathematical demonstration of the invisible, i. e., we must assure ourselves of the objective existence of our soul (astral body) before we learn that we are in possession of a divine and immortal spirit. Iamblichus says the same thing; adding, moreover, that it is a secret belonging to the highest initiation. The Divine Power, he says, always felt indignant with those “who rendered manifest the composition of the icostagonus,” viz., who delivered the method of inscribing in a sphere the dodecahedron.[28]

The idea that “numbers” possessing the greatest virtue, produce always what is good and never what is evil, refers to justice, equanimity of temper, and everything that is harmonious. When the author speaks of every star as an individual soul, he only means what the Hindu initiates and the Hermetists taught before and after him, viz.: that every star is an independent planet, which, like our earth, has a soul of its own, every atom of matter being impregnated with the divine influx of the soul of the world. It breathes and lives; it feels and suffers as well as enjoys life in its way. What naturalist is prepared to dispute it on good evidence? Therefore, we must consider the celestial bodies as the images of gods; as partaking of the divine powers in their substance; and though they are not immortal in their soul-entity, their agency in the economy of the universe is entitled to divine honors, such as we pay to minor gods. The idea is plain, and one must be malevolent indeed to misrepresent it. If the author of Epinomis places these fiery gods higher than the animals, plants, and even mankind, all of which, as earthly creatures, are assigned by him[Pg xxii] a lower place, who can prove him wholly wrong? One must needs go deep indeed into the profundity of the abstract metaphysics of the old philosophies, who would understand that their various embodiments of their conceptions are, after all, based upon an identical apprehension of the nature of the First Cause, its attributes and method.

Again when the author of Epinomis locates between these highest and lowest gods (embodied souls) three classes of dæmons, and peoples the universe with invisible beings, he is more rational than our modern scientists, who make between the two extremes one vast hiatus of being, the playground of blind forces. Of these three classes the first two are invisible; their bodies are pure ether and fire (planetary spirits); the dæmons of the third class are clothed with vapory bodies; they are usually invisible, but sometimes making themselves concrete become visible for a few seconds. These are the earthly spirits, or our astral souls.

It is these doctrines, which, studied analogically, and on the principle of correspondence, led the ancient, and may now lead the modern Philaletheian step by step toward the solution of the greatest mysteries. On the brink of the dark chasm separating the spiritual from the physical world stands modern science, with eyes closed and head averted, pronouncing the gulf impassable and bottomless, though she holds in her hand a torch which she need only lower into the depths to show her her mistake. But across this chasm, the patient student of Hermetic philosophy has constructed a bridge.

In his Fragments of Science Tyndall makes the following sad confession: “If you ask me whether science has solved, or is likely in our day to solve the problem of this universe, I must shake my head in doubt.” If moved by an afterthought, he corrects himself later, and assures his audience that experimental evidence has helped him to discover, in the opprobrium-covered matter, the “promise and potency of every quality of life,” he only jokes. It would be as difficult for Professor Tyndall to offer any ultimate and irrefutable proofs of what he asserts, as it was for Job to insert a hook into the nose of the leviathan.

To avoid confusion that might easily arise by the frequent employment of certain terms in a sense different from that familiar to the reader, a few explanations will be timely. We desire to leave no pretext either for misunderstanding or misrepresentation. Magic may have one signification to one class of readers and another to another class. We shall give it the meaning which it has in the minds of its Oriental students and practitioners. And so with the words Hermetic Science, Occultism, Hierophant, Adept, Sorcerer, etc.; there has been little agreement of late as to their meaning. Though the distinctions between the terms are very often[Pg xxiii] insignificant—merely ethnic—still, it may be useful to the general reader to know just what that is. We give a few alphabetically.

Æthrobacy, is the Greek name for walking or being lifted in the air; levitation, so called, among modern spiritualists. It may be either conscious or unconscious; in the one case, it is magic; in the other, either disease or a power which requires a few words of elucidation.

A symbolical explanation of æthrobacy is given in an old Syriac manuscript which was translated in the fifteenth century by one Malchus, an alchemist. In connection with the case of Simon Magus, one passage reads thus:

“Simon, laying his face upon the ground, whispered in her ear, ‘O mother Earth, give me, I pray thee, some of thy breath; and I will give thee mine; let me loose, O mother, that I may carry thy words to the stars, and I will return faithfully to thee after a while.’ And the Earth strengthening her status, none to her detriment, sent her genius to breathe of her breath on Simon, while he breathed on her; and the stars rejoiced to be visited by the mighty One.”

The starting-point here is the recognized electro-chemical principle that bodies similarly electrified repel each other, while those differently electrified mutually attract. “The most elementary knowledge of chemistry,” says Professor Cooke, “shows that, while radicals of opposite natures combine most eagerly together, two metals, or two closely-allied metalloids, show but little affinity for each other.”

The earth is a magnetic body; in fact, as some scientists have found, it is one vast magnet, as Paracelsus affirmed some 300 years ago. It is charged with one form of electricity—let us call it positive—which it evolves continuously by spontaneous action, in its interior or centre of motion. Human bodies, in common with all other forms of matter, are charged with the opposite form of electricity—negative. That is to say, organic or inorganic bodies, if left to themselves will constantly and involuntarily charge themselves with, and evolve the form of electricity opposed to that of the earth itself. Now, what is weight? Simply the attraction of the earth. “Without the attractions of the earth you would have no weight,” says Professor Stewart;[29] “and if you had an earth twice as heavy as this, you would have double the attraction.” How then, can we get rid of this attraction? According to the electrical law above stated, there is an attraction between our planet and the organisms upon it, which holds them upon the surface of the ground. But the law of gravitation has been counteracted in many instances, by levitations of persons and inanimate objects; how account[Pg xxiv] for this? The condition of our physical systems, say theurgic philosophers, is largely dependent upon the action of our will. If well-regulated, it can produce “miracles;” among others a change of this electrical polarity from negative to positive; the man’s relations with the earth-magnet would then become repellent, and “gravity” for him would have ceased to exist. It would then be as natural for him to rush into the air until the repellent force had exhausted itself, as, before, it had been for him to remain upon the ground. The altitude of his levitation would be measured by his ability, greater or less, to charge his body with positive electricity. This control over the physical forces once obtained, alteration of his levity or gravity would be as easy as breathing.

The study of nervous diseases has established that even in ordinary somnambulism, as well as in mesmerized somnambulists, the weight of the body seems to be diminished. Professor Perty mentions a somnambulist, Koehler, who when in the water could not sink, but floated. The seeress of Prevorst rose to the surface of the bath and could not be kept seated in it. He speaks of Anna Fleisher, who being subject to epileptic fits, was often seen by the Superintendent to rise in the air; and was once, in the presence of two trustworthy witnesses (two deans) and others, raised two and a half yards from her bed in a horizontal position. The similar case of Margaret Rule is cited by Upham in his History of Salem Witchcraft. “In ecstatic subjects,” adds Professor Perty, “the rising in the air occurs much more frequently than with somnambulists. We are so accustomed to consider gravitation as being a something absolute and unalterable, that the idea of a complete or partial rising in opposition to it seems inadmissible; nevertheless, there are phenomena in which, by means of material forces, gravitation is overcome. In several diseases—as, for instance, nervous fever—the weight of the human body seems to be increased, but in all ecstatic conditions to be diminished. And there may, likewise, be other forces than material ones which can counteract this power.”

A Madrid journal, El Criterio Espiritista, of a recent date, reports the case of a young peasant girl near Santiago, which possesses a peculiar interest in this connection. “Two bars of magnetized iron held over her horizontally, half a metre distant, was sufficient to suspend her body in the air.”

Were our physicians to experiment on such levitated subjects, it would be found that they are strongly charged with a similar form of electricity to that of the spot, which, according to the law of gravitation, ought to attract them, or rather prevent their levitation. And, if some physical nervous disorder, as well as spiritual ecstasy produce[Pg xxv] unconsciously to the subject the same effects, it proves that if this force in nature were properly studied, it could be regulated at will.

Alchemists.—From Al and Chemi, fire, or the god and patriarch, Kham, also, the name of Egypt. The Rosicrucians of the middle ages, such as Robertus de Fluctibus (Robert Fludd), Paracelsus, Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes), Van Helmont, and others, were all alchemists, who sought for the hidden spirit in every inorganic matter. Some people—nay, the great majority—have accused alchemists of charlatanry and false pretending. Surely such men as Roger Bacon, Agrippa, Henry Kunrath, and the Arabian Geber (the first to introduce into Europe some of the secrets of chemistry), can hardly be treated as impostors—least of all as fools. Scientists who are reforming the science of physics upon the basis of the atomic theory of Demokritus, as restated by John Dalton, conveniently forget that Demokritus, of Abdera, was an alchemist, and that the mind that was capable of penetrating so far into the secret operations of nature in one direction must have had good reasons to study and become a Hermetic philosopher. Olaus Borrichias says, that the cradle of alchemy is to be sought in the most distant times.

Astral Light.—The same as the sidereal light of Paracelsus and other Hermetic philosophers. Physically, it is the ether of modern science. Metaphysically, and in its spiritual, or occult sense, ether is a great deal more than is often imagined. In occult physics, and alchemy, it is well demonstrated to enclose within its shoreless waves not only Mr. Tyndall’s “promise and potency of every quality of life,” but also the realization of the potency of every quality of spirit. Alchemists and Hermetists believe that their astral, or sidereal ether, besides the above properties of sulphur, and white and red magnesia, or magnes, is the anima mundi, the workshop of Nature and of all the cosmos, spiritually, as well as physically. The “grand magisterium” asserts itself in the phenomenon of mesmerism, in the “levitation” of human and inert objects; and may be called the ether from its spiritual aspect.

The designation astral is ancient, and was used by some of the Neo-platonists. Porphyry describes the celestial body which is always joined with the soul as “immortal, luminous, and star-like.” The root of this word may be found, perhaps, in the Scythic aist-aer—which means star, or the Assyrian Istar, which, according to Burnouf has the same sense. As the Rosicrucians regarded the real, as the direct opposite of the apparent, and taught that what seems light to matter, is darkness to spirit, they searched for the latter in the astral ocean of invisible fire which encompasses the world; and claim to have traced the equally invisible divine spirit, which overshadows every man and is erroneously called soul, to the very throne of the Invisible and Unknown[Pg xxvi] God. As the great cause must always remain invisible and imponderable, they could prove their assertions merely by demonstration of its effects in this world of matter, by calling them forth from the unknowable down into the knowable universe of effects. That this astral light permeates the whole cosmos, lurking in its latent state even in the minutest particle of rock, they demonstrate by the phenomenon of the spark from flint and from every other stone, whose spirit when forcibly disturbed springs to sight spark-like, and immediately disappears in the realms of the unknowable.

Paracelsus named it the sidereal light, taking the term from the Latin. He regarded the starry host (our earth included) as the condensed portions of the astral light which “fell down into generation and matter,” but whose magnetic or spiritual emanations kept constantly a never-ceasing intercommunication between themselves and the parent-fount of all—the astral light. “The stars attract from us to themselves, and we again from them to us,” he says. The body is wood and the life is fire, which comes like the light from the stars and from heaven. “Magic is the philosophy of alchemy,” he says again.[30] Everything pertaining to the spiritual world must come to us through the stars, and if we are in friendship with them, we may attain the greatest magical effects.

“As fire passes through an iron stove, so do the stars pass through man with all their properties and go into him as the rain into the earth, which gives fruit out of that same rain. Now observe that the stars surround the whole earth, as a shell does the egg; through the shell comes the air, and penetrates to the centre of the world.” The human body is subjected as well as the earth, and planets, and stars, to a double law; it attracts and repels, for it is saturated through with double magnetism, the influx of the astral light. Everything is double in nature; magnetism is positive and negative, active and passive, male and female. Night rests humanity from the day’s activity, and restores the equilibrium of human as well as of cosmic nature. When the mesmerizer will have learned the grand secret of polarizing the action and endowing his fluid with a bi-sexual force he will have become the greatest magician living. Thus the astral light is androgyne, for equilibrium is the resultant of two opposing forces eternally reacting upon each other. The result of this is Life. When the two forces are expanded and remain so long inactive, as to equal one another and so come to a complete rest, the condition is Death. A human being can blow either a hot or a cold breath; and can absorb either cold or hot air. Every child knows how to regulate[Pg xxvii] the temperature of his breath; but how to protect one’s self from either hot or cold air, no physiologist has yet learned with certainty. The astral light alone, as the chief agent in magic, can discover to us all secrets of nature. The astral light is identical with the Hindu akâsa, a word which we will now explain.

Akâsa.—Literally the word means in Sanscrit sky, but in its mystic sense it signifies the invisible sky; or, as the Brahmans term it in the Soma-sacrifice (the Gyotishtoma Agnishtoma), the god Akâsa, or god Sky. The language of the Vedas shows that the Hindus of fifty centuries ago ascribed to it the same properties as do the Thibetan lamas of the present day; that they regarded it as the source of life, the reservoir of all energy, and the propeller of every change of matter. In its latent state, it tallies exactly with our idea of the universal ether; in its active state it became the Akâsa, the all-directing and omnipotent god. In the Brahmanical sacrificial mysteries it plays the part of Sadasya, or superintendent over the magical effects of the religious performance, and it had its own appointed Hotar (or priest), who took its name. In India, as in other countries in ancient times, the priests are the representatives on earth of different gods; each taking the name of the deity in whose name he acts.

The Akâsa is the indispensable agent of every Krityâ, (magical performance) either religious or profane. The Brahmanical expression “to stir up the Brahma”Brahma jinvati—means to stir up the power which lies latent at the bottom of every such magical operation, for the Vedic sacrifices are but ceremonial magic. This power is the Akâsa or the occult electricity; the alkahest of the alchemists in one sense, or the universal solvent, the same anima mundi as the astral light. At the moment of the sacrifice, the latter becomes imbued with the spirit of Brahma, and so for the time being is Brahma himself. This is the evident origin of the Christian dogma of transubstantiation. As to the most general effects of the Akâsa, the author of one of the most modern works on the occult philosophy, Art-Magic, gives for the first time to the world a most intelligible and interesting explanation of the Akâsa in connection with the phenomena attributed to its influence by the fakirs and lamas.

Anthropology—the science of man; embracing among other things:

Physiology, or that branch of natural science which discloses the mysteries of the organs and their functions in men, animals, and plants; and also, and especially,

Psychology, or the great, and in our days, so neglected science of the[Pg xxviii] soul, both as an entity distinct from the spirit and in its relations with the spirit and body. In modern science, psychology relates only or principally to conditions of the nervous system, and almost absolutely ignores the psychical essence and nature. Physicians denominate the science of insanity psychology, and name the lunatic chair in medical colleges by that designation.

Chaldeans, or Kasdim.—At first a tribe, then a caste of learned kabalists. They were the savants, the magians of Babylonia, astrologers and diviners. The famous Hillel, the precursor of Jesus in philosophy and in ethics, was a Chaldean. Franck in his Kabbala points to the close resemblance of the “secret doctrine” found in the Avesta and the religious metaphysics of the Chaldees.

Dactyls (daktulos, a finger).—A name given to the priests attached to the worship of Kybelé (Cybelè). Some archæologists derive the name from δάκτυλος, finger, because they were ten, the same in number as the fingers of the hand. But we do not believe the latter hypothesis is the correct one.

Dæmons.—A name given by the ancient people, and especially the philosophers of the Alexandrian school, to all kinds of spirits, whether good or bad, human or otherwise. The appellation is often synonymous with that of gods or angels. But some philosophers tried, with good reason, to make a just distinction between the many classes.

Demiurgos, or Demiurge.—Artificer; the Supernal Power which built the universe. Freemasons derive from this word their phrase of “Supreme Architect.” The chief magistrates of certain Greek cities bore the title.

Dervishes, or the “whirling charmers,” as they are called. Apart from the austerities of life, prayer and contemplation, the Mahometan devotee presents but little similarity with the Hindu fakir. The latter may become a sannyasi, or saint and holy mendicant; the former will never reach beyond his second class of occult manifestations. The dervish may also be a strong mesmerizer, but he will never voluntarily submit to the abominable and almost incredible self-punishment which the fakir invents for himself with an ever-increasing avidity, until nature succumbs and he dies in slow and excruciating tortures. The most dreadful operations, such as flaying the limbs alive; cutting off the toes, feet, and legs; tearing out the eyes; and causing one’s self to be buried alive up to the chin in the earth, and passing whole months in this posture, seem child’s play to them. One of the most common tortures is that of Tshiddy-Parvâdy.[31] It consists in suspending the fakir to one of the[Pg xxix] mobile arms of a kind of gallows to be seen in the vicinity of many of the temples. At the end of each of these arms is fixed a pulley over which passes a rope terminated by an iron hook. This hook is inserted into the bare back of the fakir, who inundating the soil with blood is hoisted up in the air and then whirled round the gallows. From the first moment of this cruel operation until he is either unhooked or the flesh of his back tears out under the weight of the body and the fakir is hurled down on the heads of the crowd, not a muscle of his face will move. He remains calm and serious and as composed as if taking a refreshing bath. The fakir will laugh to scorn every imaginable torture, persuaded that the more his outer body is mortified, the brighter and holier becomes his inner, spiritual body. But the Dervish, neither in India, nor in other Mahometan lands, will ever submit to such operations.

Druids.—A sacerdotal caste which flourished in Britain and Gaul.

Elemental Spirits.—The creatures evolved in the four kingdoms of earth, air, fire, and water, and called by the kabalists gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and undines. They may be termed the forces of nature, and will either operate effects as the servile agents of general law, or may be employed by the disembodied spirits—whether pure or impure—and by living adepts of magic and sorcery, to produce desired phenomenal results. Such beings never become men.[32]

Under the general designation of fairies, and fays, these spirits of the elements appear in the myth, fable, tradition, or poetry of all nations, ancient and modern. Their names are legion—peris, devs, djins, sylvans, satyrs, fauns, elves, dwarfs, trolls, norns, nisses, kobolds, brownies, necks, stromkarls, undines, nixies, salamanders, goblins, ponkes, banshees, kelpies, pixies, moss people, good people, good neighbors, wild women, men of peace, white ladies—and many more. They have been seen, feared, blessed, banned, and invoked in every quarter of the globe and in every age. Shall we then concede that all who have met them were hallucinated?

[Pg xxx]

These elementals are the principal agents of disembodied but never visible spirits at seances, and the producers of all the phenomena except the subjective.

Elementary Spirits.—Properly, the disembodied souls of the depraved; these souls having at some time prior to death separated from themselves their divine spirits, and so lost their chance for immortality. Eliphas Levi and some other kabalists make little distinction between elementary spirits who have been men, and those beings which people the elements, and are the blind forces of nature. Once divorced from their bodies, these souls (also called “astral bodies”) of purely materialistic persons, are irresistibly attracted to the earth, where they live a temporary and finite life amid elements congenial to their gross natures. From having never, during their natural lives, cultivated their spirituality, but subordinated it to the material and gross, they are now unfitted for the lofty career of the pure, disembodied being, for whom the atmosphere of earth is stifling and mephitic, and whose attractions are all away from it. After a more or less prolonged period of time these material souls will begin to disintegrate, and finally, like a column of mist, be dissolved, atom by atom, in the surrounding elements.

Essenes—from Asa, a healer. A sect of Jews said by Pliny to have lived near the Dead Sea “per millia sæculorum” for thousands of ages. Some have supposed them to be extreme Pharisees; and others—which may be the true theory—the descendants of the Benim nabim of the Bible, and think they were “Kenites” and “Nazarites.” They had many Buddhistic ideas and practices; and it is noteworthy that the priests of the Great Mother at Ephesus, Diana-Bhavani with many breasts, were also so denominated. Eusebius, and after him De Quincey, declared them to be the same as the early Christians, which is more than probable. The title “brother,” used in the early Church, was Essenean: they were a fraternity, or a koinobion or community like the early converts. It is noticeable that only the Sadducees, or Zadokites, the priest-caste and their partisans, persecuted the Christians; the Pharisees were generally scholastic and mild, and often sided with the latter. James the Just was a Pharisee till his death; but Paul or Aher was esteemed a schismatic.

Evolution.—The development of higher orders of animals from the lower. Modern, or so-called exact science, holds but to a one-sided physical evolution, prudently avoiding and ignoring the higher or spiritual evolution, which would force our contemporaries to confess the superiority of the ancient philosophers and psychologists over themselves. The ancient sages, ascending to the UNKNOWABLE, made their starting-point from the first manifestation of the unseen, the unavoidable, and from a strict logical reasoning, the absolutely necessary creative Being, the[Pg xxxi] Demiurgos of the universe. Evolution began with them from pure spirit, which descending lower and lower down, assumed at last a visible and comprehensible form, and became matter. Arrived at this point, they speculated in the Darwinian method, but on a far more large and comprehensive basis.

In the Rig-Veda-Sanhita, the oldest book of the World[33] (to which even our most prudent Indiologists and Sanscrit scholars assign an antiquity of between two and three thousand years B.C.), in the first book, “Hymns to the Maruts,” it is said:

Not-being and Being are in the highest heaven, in the birthplace of Daksha, in the lap of Aditi” (Mandala, i., Sûkta 166).

“In the first age of the gods, Being (the comprehensible Deity) was born from Not-being (whom no intellect can comprehend); after it were born the Regions (the invisible), from them Uttânapada.”

“From Uttânapad the Earth was born, the Regions (those that are visible) were born from the Earth. Daksha was born of Aditi, and Aditi from Daksha” (Ibid.).

Aditi is the Infinite, and Daksha is dáksha-pitarah, literally meaning the father of gods, but understood by Max Müller and Roth to mean the fathers of strength, “preserving, possessing, granting faculties.” Therefore, it is easy to see that “Daksha, born of Aditi and Aditi from Daksha,” means what the moderns understand by “correlation of forces;” the more so as we find in this passage (translated by Prof. Müller):

“I place Agni, the source of all beings, the father of strength” (iii., 27, 2), a clear and identical idea which prevailed so much in the doctrines of the Zoroastrians, the Magians, and the mediæval fire-philosophers. Agni is god of fire, of the Spiritual Ether, the very substance of the divine essence of the Invisible God present in every atom of His creation and called by the Rosicrucians the “Celestial Fire.” If we only carefully compare the verses from this Mandala, one of which runs thus: “The Sky is your father, the Earth your mother, Soma your brother, Aditi your sister” (i., 191, 6),[34] with the inscription on the Smaragdine Tablet of Hermes, we will find the same substratum of metaphysical philosophy, the identical doctrines!

“As all things were produced by the mediation of one being, so all things were produced from this one thing by adaptation: ‘Its father is the sun; its mother is the moon’ ... etc. Separate the earth from the[Pg xxxii] fire, the subtile from the gross.... What I had to say about the operation of the sun is completed” (Smaragdine Tablet).[35]

Professor Max Müller sees in this Mandala “at last, something like a theogony, though full of contradictions.”[36] The alchemists, kabalists, and students of mystic philosophy will find therein a perfectly defined system of Evolution in the Cosmogony of a people who lived a score of thousands of years before our era. They will find in it, moreover, a perfect identity of thought and even doctrine with the Hermetic philosophy, and also that of Pythagoras and Plato.

In Evolution, as it is now beginning to be understood, there is supposed to be in all matter an impulse to take on a higher form—a supposition clearly expressed by Manu and other Hindu philosophers of the highest antiquity. The philosopher’s tree illustrates it in the case of the zinc solution. The controversy between the followers of this school and the Emanationists may be briefly stated thus: The Evolutionist stops all inquiry at the borders of “the Unknowable;” the Emanationist believes that nothing can be evolved—or, as the word means, unwombed or born—except it has first been involved, thus indicating that life is from a spiritual potency above the whole.

Fakirs.—Religious devotees in East India. They are generally attached to Brahmanical pagodas and follow the laws of Manu. A strictly religious fakir will go absolutely naked, with the exception of a small piece of linen called dhoti, around his loins. They wear their hair long, and it serves them as a pocket, as they stick in it various objects—such as a pipe, a small flute called vagudah, the sounds of which throw the serpents into a cataleptic torpor, and sometimes their bamboo-stick (about one foot long) with the seven mystical knots on it. This magical stick, or rather rod, the fakir receives from his guru on the day of his initiation, together with the three mantrams, which are communicated to him “mouth to ear.” No fakir will be seen without this powerful adjunct of his calling. It is, as they all claim, the divining rod, the cause of every occult phenomenon produced by them.[37] The Brahmanical fakir is entirely[Pg xxxiii] distinct from the Mussulman mendicant of India, also called fakirs in some parts of the British territory.

Hermetist.—From Hermes, the god of Wisdom, known in Egypt, Syria, and Phœnicia as Thoth, Tat, Adad, Seth, and Sat-an (the latter not to be taken in the sense applied to it by Moslems and Christians), and in Greece as Kadmus. The kabalists identify him with Adam Kadmon, the first manifestation of the Divine Power, and with Enoch. There were two Hermes: the elder was the Trismegistus, and the second an emanation, or “permutation” of himself; the friend and instructor of Isis and Osiris. Hermes is the god of the priestly wisdom, like Mazeus.

Hierophant.—Discloser of sacred learning. The Old Man, the Chief of the Adepts at the initiations, who explained the arcane knowledge to the neophytes, bore this title. In Hebrew and Chaldaic the term was Peter, or opener, discloser; hence, the Pope, as the successor of the hierophant of the ancient Mysteries, sits in the Pagan chair of “St. Peter.” The vindictiveness of the Catholic Church toward the alchemists, and to arcane and astronomical science, is explained by the fact that such knowledge was the ancient prerogative of the hierophant, or representative of Peter, who kept the mysteries of life and death. Men like Bruno, Galileo, and Kepler, therefore, and even Cagliostro, trespassed on the preserves of the Church, and were accordingly murdered.

Every nation had its Mysteries and hierophants. Even the Jews had their Peter—Tanaïm or Rabbin, like Hillel, Akiba,[38] and other famous kabalists, who alone could impart the awful knowledge contained in the Merkaba. In India, there was in ancient times one, and now there are several hierophants scattered about the country, attached to the principal pagodas, who are known as the Brahma-âtmas. In Thibet the chief hierophant is the Dalay, or Taley-Lama of Lha-ssa.[39] Among Christian nations, the Catholics alone have preserved this “heathen” custom, in the person of their Pope, albeit they have sadly disfigured its majesty and the dignity of the sacred office.

Initiates.—In times of antiquity, those who had been initiated into the arcane knowledge taught by the hierophants of the Mysteries; and in our modern days those who have been initiated by the adepts of mystic lore into the mysterious knowledge, which, notwithstanding the lapse of ages, has yet a few real votaries on earth.

[Pg xxxiv]

Kabalist, from קבלה, Kabala; an unwritten or oral tradition. The kabalist is a student of “secret science,” one who interprets the hidden meaning of the Scriptures with the help of the symbolical Kabala, and explains the real one by these means. The Tanaïm were the first kabalists among the Jews; they appeared at Jerusalem about the beginning of the third century before the Christian era. The Books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Henoch, and the Revelation of St. John, are purely kabalistical. This secret doctrine is identical with that of the Chaldeans, and includes at the same time much of the Persian wisdom, or “magic.”

Lamas.—Buddhist monks belonging to the Lamaic religion of Thibet, as, for instance, friars are the monks belonging to the Popish or Roman Catholic religion. Every lama is subject to the grand Taley-Lama, the Buddhist pope of Thibet, who holds his residence at Lha-ssa, and is a reïncarnation of Buddha.

Mage, or Magian; from Mag or Maha. The word is the root of the word magician. The Maha-âtma (the great Soul or Spirit) in India had its priests in the pre-Vedic times. The Magians were priests of the fire-god; we find them among the Assyrians and Babylonians, as well as among the Persian fire-worshippers. The three magi, also denominated kings, that are said to have made gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus, were fire-worshippers like the rest, and astrologers; for they saw his star. The high priest of the Parsis, at Surat, is called Mobed, others derived the word from Megh; Meh-ab signifying something grand and noble. Zoroaster’s disciples were called Meghestom, according to Kleuker.

Magician.—This term, once a title of renown and distinction, has come to be wholly perverted from its true meaning. Once the synonym of all that was honorable and reverent, of a possessor of learning and wisdom, it has become degraded into an epithet to designate one who is a pretender and a juggler; a charlatan, in short, or one who has “sold his soul to the Evil One;” who misuses his knowledge, and employs it for low and dangerous uses, according to the teachings of the clergy, and a mass of superstitious fools who believe the magician a sorcerer and an enchanter. But Christians forget, apparently, that Moses was also a magician, and Daniel, “Master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers” (Daniel, v. 11).

The word magician then, scientifically speaking, is derived from Magh, Mah, Hindu or Sanscrit Maha—great; a man well versed in the secret or esoteric knowledge; properly a sacerdote.

Manticism, or mantic frenzy. During this state was developed the gift of prophecy. The two words are nearly synonymous. One was as honored as the other. Pythagoras and Plato held it in high esteem, and Socrates[Pg xxxv] advised his disciples to study Manticism. The Church Fathers, who condemned so severely the mantic frenzy in Pagan priests and Pythiæ, were not above applying it to their own uses. The Montanists, who took their name from Montanus, a bishop of Phrygia, who was considered divinely inspired, rivalled with the μάντεις (manteis) or prophets. “Tertullian, Augustine, and the martyrs of Carthage, were of the number,” says the author of Prophecy, Ancient and Modern. “The Montanists seem to have resembled the Bacchantes in the wild enthusiasm that characterized their orgies,” he adds. There is a diversity of opinion as to the origin of the word Manticism. There was the famous Mantis the Seer, in the days of Melampus and Prœtus, King of Argos; and there was Manto, the daughter of the prophet of Thebes, herself a prophetess. Cicero describes prophecy and mantic frenzy by saying that “in the inner recesses of the mind is divine prophecy hidden and confined, a divine impulse, which when it burns more vividly is called furor” (frenzy, madness).

But there is still another etymology possible for the word mantis, and to which we doubt if the attention of the philologists was ever drawn. The mantic frenzy may, perchance, have a still earlier origin. The two sacrificial cups of the Soma-mystery used during the religious rites, and generally known as grahâs, are respectively called Sukra and Manti.[40]

It is in the latter manti or manthi cup that Brahma is said to be “stirred up.” While the initiate drinks (albeit sparingly) of this sacred soma-juice, the Brahma, or rather his “spirit,” personified by the god Soma, enters into the man and takes possession of him. Hence, ecstatic vision, clairvoyance, and the gift of prophecy. Both kinds of divination—the natural and the artificial—are aroused by the Soma. The Sukra-cup awakens that which is given to every man by nature. It unites both spirit and soul, and these, from their own nature and essence, which are divine, have a foreknowledge of future things, as dreams, unexpected visions, and presentiments, well prove. The contents of the other cup, the manti, which “stirs the Brahma,” put there by the soul in communication not only with the minor gods—the well-informed but not omniscient spirits—but actually with the highest divine essence itself. The soul receives a direct illumination from the presence of its “god;” but as it is not allowed to remember certain things, well known only in heaven, the initiated person is generally seized with a kind of sacred frenzy, and upon recovering from it, only remembers that which is allowed to him. As to the other kind of seers and diviners—those who make a[Pg xxxvi] profession of and a living by it—they are usually held to be possessed by a gandharva, a deity which is nowhere so little honored as in India.

Mantra.—A Sanskrit word conveying the same idea as the “Ineffable Name.” Some mantras, when pronounced according to magical formula taught in the Atharva-Veda, produce an instantaneous and wonderful effect. In its general sense, though, a mantra is either simply a prayer to the gods and powers of heaven, as taught by the Brahmanical books, and especially Manu, or else a magical charm. In its esoteric sense, the “word” of the mantra, or mystic speech, is called by the Brahmans Vâch. It resides in the mantra, which literally means those parts of the sacred books which are considered as the Sruti, or direct divine revelation.

Marabut.—A Mahometan pilgrim who has been to Mekka; a saint, after whose death his body is placed in an open sepulchre built on the surface, like other buildings, but in the middle of the streets and public places of populated cities. Placed inside the small and only room of the tomb (and several such public sarcophagi of brick and mortar may be seen to this day in the streets and squares of Cairo), the devotion of the wayfarers keeps a lamp ever burning at his head. The tombs of some of these marabuts have a great fame for the miracles they are alleged to perform.

Materialization.—A word employed by spiritualists to indicate the phenomenon of “a spirit clothing himself with a material form.” The far less objectionable term, “form-manifestation,” has been recently suggested by Mr. Stainton-Moses, of London. When the real nature of these apparitions is better comprehended, a still more appropriate name will doubtless be adopted. To call them materialized spirits is inadmissible, for they are not spirits but animated portrait-statues.

Mazdeans, from (Ahura) Mazda. (See Spiegel’s Yasna, xl.) They were the ancient Persian nobles who worshipped Ormazd, and, rejecting images, inspired the Jews with the same horror for every concrete representation of the Deity. “They seem in Herodotus’s time to have been superseded by the Magian religionists. The Parsis and Ghebers (גברים geberim, mighty men, of Genesis vi. and x. 8) appear to be Magian religionists.... By a curious muddling of ideas, Zoro-Aster (Zero, a circle, a son or priest, Aster, Ishtar, or Astartè—in Aryan dialect, a star), the title of the head of the Magians and fire-worshippers, or Surya-ishtara, the sun-worshipper, is often confounded in modern times with Zara-tustra, the reputed Mazdean apostle” (Zoroaster).

Metempsychosis.—The progress of the soul from one stage of existence to another. Symbolized and vulgarly believed to be rebirths in animal bodies. A term generally misunderstood by every class of European and[Pg xxxvii] American society, including many scientists. The kabalistic axiom, “A stone becomes a plant, a plant an animal, an animal a man, a man a spirit, and a spirit a god,” receives an explanation in Manu’s Manava-Dharma-Sastra, and other Brahmanical books.

Mysteries.—Greek teletai, or finishings, as analogous to teleuteia or death. They were observances, generally kept secret from the profane and uninitiated, in which were taught by dramatic representation and other methods, the origin of things, the nature of the human spirit, its relations to the body, and the method of its purification and restoration to higher life. Physical science, medicine, the laws of music, divination, were all taught in the same manner. The Hippocratic oath was but a mystic obligation. Hippocrates was a priest of Asklepios, some of whose writings chanced to become public. But the Asklepiades were initiates of the Æsculapian serpent-worship, as the Bacchantes were of the Dionysia; and both rites were eventually incorporated with the Eleusinia. We will treat of the Mysteries fully in the subsequent chapters.

Mystics.—Those initiated. But in the mediæval and later periods the term was applied to men like Bœhmén the Theosophist, Molinos the Quietist, Nicholas of Basle, and others who believed in a direct interior communion with God, analogous to the inspiration of the prophets.

Nabia.—Seership, soothsaying. This oldest and most respected of mystic phenomena, is the name given to prophecy in the Bible, and is correctly included among the spiritual powers, such as divination, clairvoyant visions, trance-conditions, and oracles. But while enchanters, diviners, and even astrologers are strictly condemned in the Mosaic books, prophecy, seership, and nabia appear as the special gifts of heaven. In early ages they were all termed Epoptai, the Greek word for seers, clairvoyants; after which they were designated as Nebim, “the plural of Nebo, the Babylonian god of wisdom.” The kabalist distinguishes between the seer and the magician; one is passive, the other active; Nebirah, is one who looks into futurity and a clairvoyant; Nebi-poel, he who possesses magic powers. We notice that Elijah and Apollonius resorted to the same means to isolate themselves from the disturbing influences of the outer world, viz.: wrapping their heads entirely in a woolen mantle: from its being an electric non-conductor we must suppose.

Occultist.—One who studies the various branches of occult science. The term is used by the French kabalists (See Eliphas Levi’s works). Occultism embraces the whole range of psychological, physiological, cosmical, physical, and spiritual phenomena. From the word occult hidden or secret; applying therefore to the study of the Kabala, astrology, alchemy, and all arcane sciences. [Pg xxxviii]

Pagan Gods.—This term gods is erroneously understood by most of the reading public, to mean idols. The idea attached to them is not that of something objective or anthropomorphical. With the exception of occasions when “gods” mean either divine planetary entities (angels), or disembodied spirits of pure men, the term simply conveys to the mind of the mystic—whether Hindu Hotar, Mazdean Mage, Egyptian hierophant, or disciple of the Greek philosophers—the idea of a visible or cognized manifestation of an invisible potency of nature. And such occult potencies are invoked under the appellation of various gods, who, for the time being, are personating these powers. Thus every one of the numberless deities of the Hindu, Greek, and Egyptian Pantheons, are simply Powers of the “Unseen Universe.” When the officiating Brahman invokes Aditya—who, in her cosmic character, is the goddess-sun—he simply commands that potency (personified in some god), which, as he asserts, “resides in the Mantra, as the sacred Vâch.” These god-powers are allegorically regarded as the divine Hotars of the Supreme One; while the priest (Brahman) is the human Hotar who officiates on earth, and representing that particular Power becomes, ambassador-like, invested with the very potency which he personates.

Pitris.—It is generally believed that the Hindu term Pitris means the spirits of our direct ancestors; of disembodied people. Hence the argument of some spiritualists that fakirs, and other Eastern wonder-workers, are mediums; that they themselves confess to being unable to produce anything without the help of the Pitris, of whom they are the obedient instruments. This is in more than one sense erroneous. The Pitris are not the ancestors of the present living men, but those of the human kind or Adamic race; the spirits of human races which, on the great scale of descending evolution, preceded our races of men, and were physically, as well as spiritually, far superior to our modern pigmies. In Manava-Dharma-Sastra they are called the Lunar ancestors.

Pythia, or Pythoness.—Webster dismisses the word very briefly by saying that it was the name of one who delivered the oracles at the Temple of Delphi, and “any female supposed to have the spirit of divination in her—a witch,” which is neither complimentary, exact, nor just. A Pythia, upon the authority of Plutarch, Iamblichus, Lamprias, and others, was a nervous sensitive; she was chosen from among the poorest class, young and pure. Attached to the temple, within whose precincts she had a room, secluded from every other, and to which no one but the priest, or seer, had admittance, she had no communications with the outside world, and her life was more strict and ascetic than that of a Catholic nun. Sitting on a tripod of brass placed over a fissure in the ground, through which arose intoxicating vapors, these subterranean[Pg xxxix] exhalations penetrating her whole system produced the prophetic mania. In this abnormal state she delivered oracles. She was sometimes called ventriloqua vates,[41] the ventriloquist-prophetess.

The ancients placed the astral soul of man, ψυχη, or his self-consciousness, in the pit of the stomach. The Brahmans shared this belief with Plato and other philosophers. Thus we find in the fourth verse of the second Nâbhânedishtha Hymn it is said: “Hear, O sons of the gods (spirits) one who speaks through his navel (nâbhâ) for he hails you in your dwellings!”

Many of the Sanscrit scholars agree that this belief is one of the most ancient among the Hindus. The modern fakirs, as well as the ancient gymnosophists, unite themselves with their Âtman and the Deity by remaining motionless in contemplation and concentrating their whole thought on their navel. As in modern somnambulic phenomena, the navel was regarded as “the circle of the sun,” the seat of internal divine light.[42] Is the fact of a number of modern somnambulists being enabled to read letters, hear, smell, and see, through that part of their body to be regarded again as a simple “coincidence,” or shall we admit at last that the old sages knew something more of physiological and psychological mysteries than our modern Academicians? In modern Persia, when a “magician” (often simply a mesmerizer) is consulted upon occasions of theft and other puzzling occurrences, he makes his manipulations over the pit of his stomach, and so brings himself into a state of clairvoyance. Among the modern Parsis, remarks a translator of the Rig-vedas, there exists a belief up to the present day that their adepts have a flame in their navel, which enlightens to them all darkness and discloses the spiritual world, as well as all things unseen, or at a distance. They call it the lamp of the Deshtur, or high priest; the light of the Dikshita (the initiate), and otherwise designate it by many other names.

Samothraces.—A designation of the Fane-gods worshipped at Samothracia in the Mysteries. They are considered as identical with the Kabeiri, Dioskuri, and Korybantes. Their names were mystical—denoting Pluto, Ceres or Proserpina, Bacchus, and Æsculapius or Hermes.

Shamans, or Samaneans.—An order of Buddhists among the Tartars, especially those of Siberia. They are possibly akin to the philosophers[Pg xl] anciently known as Brachmanes, mistaken sometimes for Brahmans.[43] They are all magicians, or rather sensitives or mediums artificially developed. At present those who act as priests among the Tartars are generally very ignorant, and far below the fakirs in knowledge and education. Both men and women may be Shamans.

Soma.—This Hindu sacred beverage answers to the Greek ambrosia or nectar, drunk by the gods of Olympus. A cup of kykeon was also quaffed by the mysta at the Eleusinian initiation. He who drinks it easily reaches Bradhna, or place of splendor (Heaven). The soma-drink known to Europeans is not the genuine beverage, but its substitute; for the initiated priests alone can taste of the real soma; and even kings and rajas, when sacrificing, receive the substitute. Haug shows by his own confession, in his Aytareya Brahmanan, that it was not the Soma that he tasted and found nasty, but the juice from the roots of the Nyagradha, a plant or bush which grows on the hills of Poona. We were positively informed that the majority of the sacrificial priests of the Dekkan have lost the secret of the true soma. It can be found neither in the ritual books nor through oral information. The true followers of the primitive Vedic religion are very few; these are the alleged descendants from the Rishis, the real Agnihôtris, the initiates of the great Mysteries. The soma-drink is also commemorated in the Hindu Pantheon, for it is called the King-Soma. He who drinks of it is made to participate in the heavenly king, because he becomes filled with it, as the Christian apostles and their converts became filled with the Holy Ghost, and purified of their sins. The soma makes a new man of the initiate; he is reborn and transformed, and his spiritual nature overcomes the physical; it gives the divine power of inspiration, and develops the clairvoyant faculty to the utmost. According to the exoteric explanation the soma is a plant, but, at the same time it is an angel. It forcibly connects the inner, highest “spirit” of man, which spirit is an angel like the mystical soma, with his “irrational soul,” or astral body, and thus united by the power of the magic drink, they soar together above physical nature, and participate during life in the beatitude and ineffable glories of Heaven.

Thus the Hindu soma is mystically, and in all respects the same that the Eucharistic supper is to the Christian. The idea is similar. By[Pg xli] means of the sacrificial prayers—the mantras—this liquor is supposed to be transformed on the spot into real soma—or the angel, and even into Brahma himself. Some missionaries have expressed themselves very indignantly about this ceremony, the more so that, generally speaking, the Brahmans use a kind of spirituous liquor as a substitute. But do the Christians believe less fervently in the transubstantiation of the communion-wine into the blood of Christ, because this wine happens to be more or less spirituous? Is not the idea of the symbol attached to it the same? But the missionaries say that this hour of soma-drinking is the golden hour of Satan, who lurks at the bottom of the Hindu sacrificial cup.[44]

Spirit.—The lack of any mutual agreement between writers in the use of this word has resulted in dire confusion. It is commonly made synonymous with soul; and the lexicographers countenance the usage. This is the natural result of our ignorance of the other word, and repudiation of the classification adopted by the ancients. Elsewhere we attempt to make clear the distinction between the terms “spirit” and “soul.” There are no more important passages in this work. Meanwhile, we will only add that “spirit” is the νοῦς of Plato, the immortal, immaterial, and purely divine principle in man—the crown of the human Triad; whereas,

Soul is the ψυχη, or the nephesh of the Bible; the vital principle, or the breath of life, which every animal, down to the infusoria, shares with man. In the translated Bible it stands indifferently for life, blood, and soul. “Let us not kill his nephesh,” says the original text: “let us not kill him,” translate the Christians (Genesis xxxvii. 21), and so on.

Theosophists.—In the mediæval ages it was the name by which were known the disciples of Paracelsus of the sixteenth century, the so-called fire-philosophers or Philosophi per ignem. As well as the Platonists they regarded the soul (ψυχη) and the divine spirit, nous (νοῦς), as a particle of the great Archos—a fire taken from the eternal ocean of light.

The Theosophical Society, to which these volumes are dedicated by the author as a mark of affectionate regard, was organized at New York in 1875. The object of its founders was to experiment practically in the occult powers of Nature, and to collect and disseminate among Christians information about the Oriental religious philosophies. Later, it has determined to spread among the “poor benighted heathen” such[Pg xlii] evidences as to the practical results of Christianity as will at least give both sides of the story to the communities among which missionaries are at work. With this view it has established relations with associations and individuals throughout the East, to whom it furnishes authenticated reports of the ecclesiastical crimes and misdemeanors, schisms and heresies, controversies and litigations, doctrinal differences and biblical criticisms and revisions, with which the press of Christian Europe and America constantly teems. Christendom has been long and minutely informed of the degradation and brutishness into which Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Confucianism have plunged their deluded votaries, and many millions have been lavished upon foreign missions under such false representations. The Theosophical Society, seeing daily exemplifications of this very state of things as the sequence of Christian teaching and example—the latter especially—thought it simple justice to make the facts known in Palestine, India, Ceylon, Cashmere, Tartary, Thibet, China, and Japan, in all which countries it has influential correspondents. It may also in time have much to say about the conduct of the missionaries to those who contribute to their support.

Theurgist.—From Θεος, god, and εργον, work. The first school of practical theurgy in the Christian period was founded by Iamblichus among the Alexandrian Platonists; but the priests attached to the temples of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, and who took an active part in the evocations of the gods during the Sacred Mysteries, were known by this name from the earliest archaic period. The purpose of it was to make spirits visible to the eyes of mortals. A theurgist was one expert in the esoteric learning of the Sanctuaries of all the great countries. The Neo-platonists of the school of Iamblichus were called theurgists, for they performed the so-called “ceremonial magic,” and evoked the “spirits” of the departed heroes, “gods,” and Daimonia (δαιμονια divine, spiritual entities). In the rare cases when the presence of a tangible and visible spirit was required, the theurgist had to furnish the weird apparition with a portion of his own flesh and blood—he had to perform the theopæa, or the “creation of gods,” by a mysterious process well known to the modern fakirs and initiated Brahmans of India. This is what is said in the Book of Evocations of the pagodas. It shows the perfect identity of rites and ceremonial between the oldest Brahmanic theurgy and that of the Alexandrian Platonists:

“The Brahman Grihasta (the evocator) must be in a state of complete purity before he ventures to call forth the Pitris.”

After having prepared a lamp, some sandal, incense, etc., and having traced the magic circles taught to him by the superior guru, in order to keep away bad spirits, he “ceases to breathe, and calls the fire to his[Pg xliii] help to disperse his body.” He pronounces a certain number of times the sacred word, and “his soul escapes from his body, and his body disappears, and the soul of the evoked spirit descends into the double body and animates it.” Then “His (Grihasta’s) soul reënters into his body, whose subtile particles have again been aggregating, after having formed of their emanations an aërial body to the spirit he evoked.”

And now, that he has formed for the Pitri a body with the particles the most essential and pure of his own, the grihasta is allowed, after the ceremonial sacrifice is over, to “converse with the souls of the ancestors and the Pitris, and offer them questions on the mysteries of the Being and the transformations of the imperishable.”

“Then after having blown out his lamp he must light it again, and set at liberty the bad spirits shut out from the place by the magical circles, and leave the sanctuary of the Pitris.”[45]

The school of Iamblichus was distinct from that of Plotinus and Porphyry, who were strongly against ceremonial magic and practical theurgy as dangerous, though these two eminent men firmly believed in both. “The theurgic or benevolent magic, the Goëtic, or dark and evil necromancy, were alike in preëminent repute during the first century of the Christian era.”[46] But never have any of the highly moral and pious philosophers, whose fame has descended to us spotless of any evil deed, practiced any other kind of magic than the theurgic, or benevolent, as Bulwer-Lytton terms it. “Whoever is acquainted with the nature of divinely luminous appearances (φασματα) knows also on what account it is requisite to abstain from all birds (animal food), and especially for him who hastens to be liberated from terrestrial concerns and to be established with the celestial gods,” says Porphyry.[47]

Though he refused to practice theurgy himself, Porphyry, in his Life of Plotinus, mentions a priest of Egypt, who, “at the request of a certain friend of Plotinus (which friend was perhaps Porphyry himself, remarks T. Taylor), exhibited to Plotinus, in the temple of Isis at Rome, the familiar daimon, or, in modern language, the guardian angel of that philosopher.”[48]

The popular, prevailing idea was that the theurgists, as well as the magicians, worked wonders, such as evoking the souls or shadows of the heroes and gods, and doing other thaumaturgic works by supernatural powers.

Yajna.—“The Yajna,” say the Brahmans, exists from eternity, for[Pg xliv] it proceeded forth from the Supreme One, the Brahma-Prajapâti, in whom it lay dormant from “no beginning.” It is the key to the TRAIVIDYA, the thrice sacred science contained in the Rig verses, which teaches the Yagus or sacrificial mysteries. “The Yajna” exists as an invisible thing at all times; it is like the latent power of electricity in an electrifying machine, requiring only the operation of a suitable apparatus in order to be elicited. It is supposed to extend from the Ahavaniya or sacrificial fire to the heavens, forming a bridge or ladder by means of which the sacrificer can communicate with the world of gods and spirits, and even ascend when alive to their abodes.[49]

This Yajna is again one of the forms of the Akása, and the mystic word calling it into existence and pronounced mentally by the initiated Priest is the Lost Word receiving impulse through WILL-POWER.

To complete the list, we will now add that in the course of the following chapters, whenever we use the term Archaic, we mean before the time of Pythagoras; when Ancient, before the time of Mahomet; and when Mediæval, the period between Mahomet and Martin Luther. It will only be necessary to infringe the rule when from time to time we may have to speak of nations of a pre-Pythagorean antiquity, and will adopt the common custom of calling them “ancient.”

Before closing this initial chapter, we venture to say a few words in explanation of the plan of this work. Its object is not to force upon the public the personal views or theories of its author; nor has it the pretensions of a scientific work, which aims at creating a revolution in some department of thought. It is rather a brief summary of the religions, philosophies, and universal traditions of human kind, and the exegesis of the same, in the spirit of those secret doctrines, of which none—thanks to prejudice and bigotry—have reached Christendom in so unmutilated a form, as to secure it a fair judgment. Since the days of the unlucky mediæval philosophers, the last to write upon these secret doctrines of which they were the depositaries, few men have dared to brave persecution and prejudice by placing their knowledge upon record. And these few have never, as a rule, written for the public, but only for those of their own and succeeding times who possessed the key to their jargon. The multitude, not understanding them or their doctrines, have been accustomed to regard them en masse as either charlatans or dreamers. Hence the unmerited contempt into which the study of the noblest of sciences—that of the spiritual man—has gradually fallen.

[Pg xlv]

In undertaking to inquire into the assumed infallibility of Modern Science and Theology, the author has been forced, even at the risk of being thought discursive, to make constant comparison of the ideas, achievements, and pretensions of their representatives, with those of the ancient philosophers and religious teachers. Things the most widely separated as to time, have thus been brought into immediate juxtaposition, for only thus could the priority and parentage of discoveries and dogmas be determined. In discussing the merits of our scientific contemporaries, their own confessions of failure in experimental research, of baffling mysteries, of missing links in their chains of theory, of inability to comprehend natural phenomena, of ignorance of the laws of the causal world, have furnished the basis for the present study. Especially (since Psychology has been so much neglected, and the East is so far away that few of our investigators will ever get there to study that science where alone it is understood), we will review the speculations and policy of noted authorities in connection with those modern psychological phenomena which began at Rochester and have now overspread the world. We wish to show how inevitable were their innumerable failures, and how they must continue until these pretended authorities of the West go to the Brahmans and Lamaists of the far Orient, and respectfully ask them to impart the alphabet of true science. We have laid no charge against scientists that is not supported by their own published admissions, and if our citations from the records of antiquity rob some of what they have hitherto viewed as well-earned laurels, the fault is not ours but Truth’s. No man worthy of the name of philosopher would care to wear honors that rightfully belong to another.

Deeply sensible of the Titanic struggle that is now in progress between materialism and the spiritual aspirations of mankind, our constant endeavor has been to gather into our several chapters, like weapons into armories, every fact and argument that can be used to aid the latter in defeating the former. Sickly and deformed child as it now is, the materialism of To-Day is born of the brutal Yesterday. Unless its growth is arrested, it may become our master. It is the bastard progeny of the French Revolution and its reaction against ages of religious bigotry and repression. To prevent the crushing of these spiritual aspirations, the blighting of these hopes, and the deadening of that intuition which teaches us of a God and a hereafter, we must show our false theologies in their naked deformity, and distinguish between divine religion and human dogmas. Our voice is raised for spiritual freedom, and our plea made for enfranchisement from all tyranny, whether of Science or Theology.

[Pg 1]




“Ego sum qui sum.”

An axiom of Hermetic Philosophy.

“We commenced research where modern conjecture closes its faithless wings. And with us, these were the common elements of science which the sages of to-day disdain as wild chimeras, or despair of as unfathomable mysteries.“Bulwer’s “Zanoni.”

There exists somewhere in this wide world an old Book—so very old that our modern antiquarians might ponder over its pages an indefinite time, and still not quite agree as to the nature of the fabric upon which it is written. It is the only original copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning—the Siphra Dzeniouta—was compiled from it, and that at a time when the former was already considered in the light of a literary relic. One of its illustrations represents the Divine Essence emanating from Adam[50] like a luminous arc proceeding to form a circle; and then, having attained the highest point of its circumference, the ineffable Glory bends back again, and returns to earth, bringing a higher type of humanity in its vortex. As it approaches nearer and nearer to our planet, the Emanation becomes more and more shadowy, until upon touching the ground it is as black as night.

A conviction, founded upon seventy thousand years of experience,[51] as they allege, has been entertained by hermetic philosophers of all periods that matter has in time become, through sin, more gross and dense than it was at man’s first formation; that, at the beginning, the[Pg 2] human body was of a half-ethereal nature; and that, before the fall, mankind communed freely with the now unseen universes. But since that time matter has become the formidable barrier between us and the world of spirits. The oldest esoteric traditions also teach that, before the mystic Adam, many races of human beings lived and died out, each giving place in its turn to another. Were these precedent types more perfect? Did any of them belong to the winged race of men mentioned by Plato in Phædrus? It is the special province of science to solve the problem. The caves of France and the relics of the stone age afford a point at which to begin.

As the cycle proceeded, man’s eyes were more and more opened, until he came to know “good and evil” as well as the Elohim themselves. Having reached its summit, the cycle began to go downward. When the arc attained a certain point which brought it parallel with the fixed line of our terrestrial plane, the man was furnished by nature with “coats of skin,” and the Lord God “clothed them.”

This same belief in the pre-existence of a far more spiritual race than the one to which we now belong can be traced back to the earliest traditions of nearly every people. In the ancient Quiché manuscript, published by Brasseur de Bourbourg—the Popol Vuh—the first men are mentioned as a race that could reason and speak, whose sight was unlimited, and who knew all things at once. According to Philo Judæus, the air is filled with an invisible host of spirits, some of whom are free from evil and immortal, and others are pernicious and mortal. “From the sons of El we are descended, and sons of El must we become again.” And the unequivocal statement of the anonymous Gnostic who wrote The Gospel according to John, that “as many as received Him,” i.e., who followed practically the esoteric doctrine of Jesus, would “become the sons of God,” points to the same belief. (i., 12.) “Know ye not, ye are gods?” exclaimed the Master. Plato describes admirably in Phædrus the state in which man once was, and what he will become again: before, and after the “loss of his wings;” when “he lived among the gods, a god himself in the airy world.” From the remotest periods religious philosophies taught that the whole universe was filled with divine and spiritual beings of divers races. From one of these evolved, in the course of time, Adam, the primitive man.

The Kalmucks and some tribes of Siberia also describe in their legends earlier creations than our present race. These beings, they say, were possessed of almost boundless knowledge, and in their audacity even threatened rebellion against the Great Chief Spirit. To punish their presumption and humble them, he imprisoned them in bodies, and[Pg 3] so shut in their senses. From these they can escape but through long repentance, self-purification, and development. Their Shamans, they think, occasionally enjoy the divine powers originally possessed by all human beings.

The Astor Library of New York has recently been enriched by a fac-simile of an Egyptian Medical Treatise, written in the sixteenth century B.C. (or, more precisely, 1552 B.C.), which, according to the commonly received chronology, is the time when Moses was just twenty-one years of age. The original is written upon the inner bark of Cyperus papyrus, and has been pronounced by Professor Schenk, of Leipsig, not only genuine, but also the most perfect ever seen. It consists of a single sheet of yellow-brown papyrus of finest quality, three-tenths of a metre wide, more than twenty metres long, and forming one roll divided into one hundred and ten pages, all carefully numbered. It was purchased in Egypt, in 1872-3, by the archæologist Ebers, of “a well-to-do Arab from Luxor.” The New York Tribune, commenting upon the circumstance, says: The papyrus “bears internal evidence of being one of the six Hermetic Books on Medicine, named by Clement of Alexandria.”

The editor further says: “At the time of Iamblichus, A.D. 363, the priests of Egypt showed forty-two books which they attributed to Hermes (Thuti). Of these, according to that author, thirty-six contained the history of all human knowledge; the last six treated of anatomy, of pathology, of affections of the eye, instruments of surgery, and of medicines.[52] The Papyrus Ebers is indisputably one of these ancient Hermetic works.”

If so clear a ray of light has been thrown upon ancient Egyptian science, by the accidental (?) encounter of the German archæologist with one “well-to-do Arab” from Luxor, how can we know what sunshine may be let in upon the dark crypts of history by an equally accidental meeting between some other prosperous Egyptian and another enterprising student of antiquity!

The discoveries of modern science do not disagree with the oldest traditions which claim an incredible antiquity for our race. Within the last few years geology, which previously had only conceded that man could be traced as far back as the tertiary period, has found unanswerable proofs that human existence antedates the last glaciation of Europe—over 250,000 years! A hard nut, this, for Patristic Theology to crack; but an accepted fact with the ancient philosophers.

[Pg 4]

Moreover, fossil implements have been exhumed together with human remains, which show that man hunted in those remote times, and knew how to build a fire. But the forward step has not yet been taken in this search for the origin of the race; science comes to a dead stop, and waits for future proofs. Unfortunately, anthropology and psychology possess no Cuvier; neither geologists nor archæologists are able to construct, from the fragmentary bits hitherto discovered, the perfect skeleton of the triple man—physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Because the fossil implements of man are found to become more rough and uncouth as geology penetrates deeper into the bowels of the earth, it seems a proof to science that the closer we come to the origin of man, the more savage and brute-like he must be. Strange logic! Does the finding of the remains in the cave of Devon prove that there were no contemporary races then who were highly civilized? When the present population of the earth have disappeared, and some archæologist belonging to the “coming race” of the distant future shall excavate the domestic implements of one of our Indian or Andaman Island tribes, will he be justified in concluding that mankind in the nineteenth century was “just emerging from the Stone Age?”

It has lately been the fashion to speak of “the untenable conceptions of an uncultivated past.” As though it were possible to hide behind an epigram the intellectual quarries out of which the reputations of so many modern philosophers have been carved! Just as Tyndall is ever ready to disparage ancient philosophers—for a dressing-up of whose ideas more than one distinguished scientist has derived honor and credit—so the geologists seem more and more inclined to take for granted that all of the archaic races were contemporaneously in a state of dense barbarism. But not all of our best authorities agree in this opinion. Some of the most eminent maintain exactly the reverse. Max Müller, for instance, says: “Many things are still unintelligible to us, and the hieroglyphic language of antiquity records but half of the mind’s unconscious intentions. Yet more and more the image of man, in whatever clime we meet him, rises before us, noble and pure from the very beginning; even his errors we learn to understand, even his dreams we begin to interpret. As far as we can trace back the footsteps of man, even on the lowest strata of history, we see the divine gift of a sound and sober intellect belonging to him from the very first, and the idea of a humanity emerging slowly from the depths of an animal brutality can never be maintained again.”[53]

[Pg 5]

As it is claimed to be unphilosophical to inquire into first causes, scientists now occupy themselves with considering their physical effects. The field of scientific investigation is therefore bounded by physical nature. When once its limits are reached, enquiry must stop, and their work be recommenced. With all due respect to our learned men, they are like the squirrel upon its revolving wheel, for they are doomed to turn their “matter” over and over again. Science is a mighty potency, and it is not for us pigmies to question her. But the “scientists” are not themselves science embodied any more than the men of our planet are the planet itself. We have neither the right to demand, nor power to compel our “modern-day philosopher” to accept without challenge a geographical description of the dark side of the moon. But, if in some lunar cataclysm one of her inhabitants should be hurled thence into the attraction of our atmosphere, and land, safe and sound, at Dr. Carpenter’s door, he would be indictable as recreant to professional duty if he should fail to set the physical problem at rest.

For a man of science to refuse an opportunity to investigate any new phenomenon, whether it comes to him in the shape of a man from the moon, or a ghost from the Eddy homestead, is alike reprehensible.

Whether arrived at by the method of Aristotle, or that of Plato, we need not stop to inquire; but it is a fact that both the inner and outer natures of man are claimed to have been thoroughly understood by the ancient andrologists. Notwithstanding the superficial hypotheses of geologists, we are beginning to have almost daily proofs in corroboration of the assertions of those philosophers.

They divided the interminable periods of human existence on this planet into cycles, during each of which mankind gradually reached the culminating point of highest civilization and gradually relapsed into abject barbarism. To what eminence the race in its progress had several times arrived may be feebly surmised by the wonderful monuments of old, still visible, and the descriptions given by Herodotus of other marvels of which no traces now remain. Even in his days the gigantic structures of many pyramids and world-famous temples were but masses of ruins. Scattered by the unrelenting hand of time, they are described by the Father of History as “these venerable witnesses of the long bygone glory of departed ancestors.” He “shrinks from speaking of divine things,” and gives to posterity but an imperfect description from hearsay of some marvellous subterranean chambers of the Labyrinth, where lay—and now lie—concealed, the sacred remains of the King-Initiates.

We can judge, moreover, of the lofty civilization reached in some[Pg 6] periods of antiquity by the historical descriptions of the ages of the Ptolemies, yet in that epoch the arts and sciences were considered to be degenerating, and the secret of a number of the former had been already lost. In the recent excavations of Mariette-Bey, at the foot of the Pyramids, statues of wood and other relics have been exhumed, which show that long before the period of the first dynasties the Egyptians had attained to a refinement and perfection which is calculated to excite the wonder of even the most ardent admirers of Grecian art. Bayard Taylor describes these statues in one of his lectures, and tells us that the beauty of the heads, ornamented with eyes of precious stones and copper eyelids, is unsurpassed. Far below the stratum of sand in which lay the remains gathered into the collections of Lepsius, Abbott, and the British Museum, were found buried the tangible proofs of the hermetic doctrine of cycles which has been already explained.

Dr. Schliemann, the enthusiastic Hellenist, has recently found, in his excavations in the Troad, abundant evidences of the same gradual change from barbarism to civilization, and from civilization to barbarism again. Why then should we feel so reluctant to admit the possibility that, if the antediluvians were so much better versed than ourselves in certain sciences as to have been perfectly acquainted with important arts, which we now term lost, they might have equally excelled in psychological knowledge? Such a hypothesis must be considered as reasonable as any other until some countervailing evidence shall be discovered to destroy it.

Every true savant admits that in many respects human knowledge is yet in its infancy. Can it be that our cycle began in ages comparatively recent? These cycles, according to the Chaldean philosophy, do not embrace all mankind at one and the same time. Professor Draper partially corroborates this view by saying that the periods into which geology has “found it convenient to divide the progress of man in civilization are not abrupt epochs which hold good simultaneously for the whole human race;” giving as an instance the “wandering Indians of America,” who “are only at the present moment emerging from the stone age.” Thus more than once scientific men have unwittingly confirmed the testimony of the ancients.

Any Kabalist well acquainted with the Pythagorean system of numerals and geometry can demonstrate that the metaphysical views of Plato were based upon the strictest mathematical principles. “True mathematics,” says the Magicon, “is something with which all higher sciences are connected; common mathematics is but a deceitful phantasmagoria, whose much-praised infallibility only arises from this—that[Pg 7] materials, conditions, and references are made its foundation.” Scientists who believe they have adopted the Aristotelian method only because they creep when they do not run from demonstrated particulars to universals, glorify this method of inductive philosophy, and reject that of Plato, which they treat as unsubstantial. Professor Draper laments that such speculative mystics as Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus should have taken the place “of the severe geometers of the old museum.”[54] He forgets that geometry, of all sciences the only one which proceeds from universals to particulars, was precisely the method employed by Plato in his philosophy. As long as exact science confines its observations to physical conditions and proceeds Aristotle-like, it certainly cannot fail. But notwithstanding that the world of matter is boundless for us, it still is finite; and thus materialism will turn forever in this vitiated circle, unable to soar higher than the circumference will permit. The cosmological theory of numerals which Pythagoras learned from the Egyptian hierophants, is alone able to reconcile the two units, matter and spirit, and cause each to demonstrate the other mathematically.

The sacred numbers of the universe in their esoteric combination solve the great problem and explain the theory of radiation and the cycle of the emanations. The lower orders before they develop into higher ones must emanate from the higher spiritual ones, and when arrived at the turning-point, be reabsorbed again into the infinite.

Physiology, like everything else in this world of constant evolution, is subject to the cyclic revolution. As it now seems to be hardly emerging from the shadows of the lower arc, so it may be one day proved to have been at the highest point of the circumference of the circle far earlier than the days of Pythagoras.

Mochus, the Sidonian, the physiologist and teacher of the science of anatomy, flourished long before the Sage of Samos; and the latter received the sacred instructions from his disciples and descendants. Pythagoras, the pure philosopher, the deeply-versed in the profounder phenomena of nature, the noble inheritor of the ancient lore, whose great aim was to free the soul from the fetters of sense and force it to realize its powers, must live eternally in human memory.

The impenetrable veil of arcane secrecy was thrown over the sciences taught in the sanctuary. This is the cause of the modern depreciating of the ancient philosophies. Even Plato and Philo Judæus have been accused by many a commentator of absurd inconsistencies, whereas the[Pg 8] design which underlies the maze of metaphysical contradictions so perplexing to the reader of the Timæus, is but too evident. But has Plato ever been read understandingly by one of the expounders of the classics? This is a question warranted by the criticisms to be found in such authors as Stalbaüm, Schleirmacher, Ficinus (Latin translation), Heindorf, Sydenham, Buttmann, Taylor and Burges, to say nothing of lesser authorities. The covert allusions of the Greek philosopher to esoteric things have manifestly baffled these commentators to the last degree. They not only with unblushing coolness suggest as to certain difficult passages that another phraseology was evidently intended, but they audaciously make the changes! The Orphic line:

“Of the song, the order of the sixth race close”

which can only be interpreted as a reference to the sixth race evolved in the consecutive evolution of the spheres,[55] Burges says: “ ... was evidently taken from a cosmogony where man was feigned to be created the last.”[56]—Ought not one who undertakes to edit another’s works at least understand what his author means?

Indeed, the ancient philosophers seem to be generally held, even by the least prejudiced of our modern critics, to have lacked that profundity and thorough knowledge in the exact sciences of which our century is so boastful. It is even questioned whether they understood that basic scientific principle: ex nihilo nihil fit. If they suspected the indestructibility of matter at all,—say these commentators—it was not in consequence of a firmly-established formula but only through an intuitional reasoning and by analogy.

We hold to the contrary opinion. The speculations of these philosophers upon matter were open to public criticism: but their teachings in regard to spiritual things were profoundly esoteric. Being thus sworn to secrecy and religious silence upon abstruse subjects involving the relations of spirit and matter, they rivalled each other in their ingenious methods for concealing their real opinions.

The doctrine of Metempsychosis has been abundantly ridiculed by men of science and rejected by theologians, yet if it had been properly understood in its application to the indestructibility of matter and the immortality of spirit, it would have been perceived that it is a sublime conception. Should we not first regard the subject from the standpoint[Pg 9] of the ancients before venturing to disparage its teachers? The solution of the great problem of eternity belongs neither to religious superstition nor to gross materialism. The harmony and mathematical equiformity of the double evolution—spiritual and physical—are elucidated only in the universal numerals of Pythagoras, who built his system entirely upon the so-called “metrical speech” of the Hindu Vedas. It is but lately that one of the most zealous Sanskrit scholars, Martin Haug, undertook the translation of the Aitareya Brahmana of the Rig-Veda. It had been till that time entirely unknown; these explanations indicate beyond dispute the identity of the Pythagorean and Brahmanical systems. In both, the esoteric significance is derived from the number: in the former, from the mystic relation of every number to everything intelligible to the human mind; in the latter, from the number of syllables of which each verse in the Mantras consists. Plato, the ardent disciple of Pythagoras, realized it so fully as to maintain that the Dodecahedron was the geometrical figure employed by the Demiurgus in constructing the universe. Some of these figures had a peculiarly solemn significance. For instance four, of which the Dodecahedron is the trine, was held sacred by the Pythagoreans. It is the perfect square, and neither of the bounding lines exceeds the other in length, by a single point. It is the emblem of moral justice and divine equity geometrically expressed. All the powers and great symphonies of physical and spiritual nature lie inscribed within the perfect square; and the ineffable name of Him, which name otherwise, would remain unutterable, was replaced by this sacred number 4 the most binding and solemn oath with the ancient mystics—the Tetractys.

If the Pythagorean metempsychosis should be thoroughly explained and compared with the modern theory of evolution, it would be found to supply every “missing link” in the chain of the latter. But who of our scientists would consent to lose his precious time over the vagaries of the ancients. Notwithstanding proofs to the contrary, they not only deny that the nations of the archaic periods, but even the ancient philosophers had any positive knowledge of the Heliocentric system. The “Venerable Bedes,” the Augustines and Lactantii appear to have smothered, with their dogmatic ignorance, all faith in the more ancient theologists of the pre-Christian centuries. But now philology and a closer acquaintance with Sanskrit literature have partially enabled us to vindicate them from these unmerited imputations. In the Vedas, for instance, we find positive proof that so long ago as 2000 B.C., the Hindu sages and scholars must have been acquainted with the rotundity of our globe and the Heliocentric system. Hence, Pythagoras and Plato knew well this astronomical truth; for Pythagoras obtained his knowledge[Pg 10] in India, or from men who had been there, and Plato faithfully echoed his teachings. We will quote two passages from the Aitareya Brahmana:

In the “Serpent-Mantra,”[57] the Brahmana declares as follows: that this Mantra is that one which was seen by the Queen of the Serpents, Sarpa-râjni; because the earth (iyam) is the Queen of the Serpents, as she is the mother and queen of all that moves (sarpat). In the beginning she (the earth) was but one head (round), without hair (bald), i.e., without vegetation. She then perceived this Mantra which confers upon him who knows it, the power of assuming any form which he might desire. She “pronounced the Mantra,” i.e., sacrificed to the gods; and, in consequence, immediately obtained a motley appearance; she became variegated, and able to produce any form she might like, changing one form into another. This Mantra begins with the words: “Ayam gaûh pris’nir akramît” (x., 189).

The description of the earth in the shape of a round and bald head, which was soft at first, and became hard only from being breathed upon by the god Vâyu, the lord of the air, forcibly suggests the idea that the authors of the sacred Vedic books knew the earth to be round or spherical; moreover, that it had been a gelatinous mass at first, which gradually cooled off under the influence of the air and time. So much for their knowledge about our globe’s sphericity; and now we will present the testimony upon which we base our assertion, that the Hindus were perfectly acquainted with the Heliocentric system, at least 2000 years B.C.

In the same treatise the Hotar, (priest), is taught how the Shastras should be repeated, and how the phenomena of sunrise and sunset are to be explained. It says: “The Agnishtoma is that one (that god) who burns. The sun never sets nor rises. When people think the sun is setting, it is not so; they are mistaken. For after having arrived at the end of the day, it produces two opposite effects, making night to what is below, and day to what is on the other side. When they (the people) believe it rises in the morning, the sun only does thus: having reached the end of the night, it makes itself produce two opposite effects, making day to what is below, and night to what is on the other side. In fact the sun never sets; nor does it set for him who has such a knowledge....”[58]

This sentence is so conclusive, that even the translator of the Rig-Veda, Dr. Haug, was forced to remark it. He says this passage contains “the denial of the existence of sunrise and sunset,” and that the author supposes the sun “to remain always in its high position.”[59]

[Pg 11]

In one of the earliest Nivids, Rishi Kutsa, a Hindu sage of the remotest antiquity, explains the allegory of the first laws given to the celestial bodies. For doing “what she ought not to do,” Anâhit (Anaïtis or Nana, the Persian Venus), representing the earth in the legend, is sentenced to turn round the sun. The Sattras, or sacrificial sessions[60] prove undoubtedly that so early as in the eighteenth or twentieth century B.C., the Hindus had made considerable progress in astronomical science. The Sattras lasted one year, and were “nothing but an imitation of the sun’s yearly course. They were divided, says Haug, into two distinct parts, each consisting of six months of thirty days each; in the midst of both was the Vishuvan (equator or central day), cutting the whole Sattras into two halves, etc.”[61] This scholar, although he ascribes the composition of the bulk of the Brahmanas to the period 1400-1200 B.C., is of opinion that the oldest of the hymns may be placed at the very commencement of Vedic literature, between the years 2400-2000, B.C. He finds no reason for considering the Vedas less ancient than the sacred books of the Chinese. As the Shu-King or Book of History, and the sacrificial songs of the Shi-King, or Book of Odes, have been proved to have an antiquity as early as 2200, B.C., our philologists may yet be compelled before long to acknowledge, that in astronomical knowledge, the antediluvian Hindus were their masters.

At all events, there are facts which prove that certain astronomical calculations were as correct with the Chaldeans in the days of Julius Cæsar as they are now. When the calendar was reformed by the Conqueror, the civil year was found to correspond so little with the seasons, that summer had merged into the autumn months, and the autumn months into full winter. It was Sosigenes, the Chaldean astronomer, who restored order into the confusion, by putting back the 25th of March ninety days, thus making it correspond with the vernal equinox; and it was Sosigenes, again, who fixed the lengths of the months as they now remain.

In America, it was found by the Motezuman army, that the calendar of the Aztecs gave an equal number of days and weeks to each month. The extreme accuracy of their astronomical calculations was so great, that no error has been discovered in their reckoning by subsequent verifications; while the Europeans, who landed in Mexico in 1519, were, by the Julian calendar, nearly eleven days in advance of the exact time.

It is to the priceless and accurate translations of the Vedic Books, and to the personal researches of Dr. Haug, that we are indebted for the[Pg 12] corroboration of the claims of the hermetic philosophers. That the period of Zarathustra Spitama (Zoroaster) was of untold antiquity, can be easily proved. The Brahmanas, to which Haug ascribes four thousand years, describe the religious contest between the ancient Hindus, who lived in the pre-Vedic period, and the Iranians. The battles between the Devas and the Asuras—the former representing the Hindus and the latter the Iranians—are described at length in the sacred books. As the Iranian prophet was the first to raise himself against what he called the “idolatry” of the Brahmans, and to designate them as the Devas (devils), how far back must then have been this religious crisis?

“This contest,” answers Dr. Haug, “must have appeared to the authors of the Brahmanas as old as the feats of King Arthur appear to English writers of the nineteenth century.”

There was not a philosopher of any notoriety who did not hold to this doctrine of metempsychosis, as taught by the Brahmans, Buddhists, and later by the Pythagoreans, in its esoteric sense, whether he expressed it more or less intelligibly. Origen and Clemens Alexandrinus, Synesius and Chalcidius, all believed in it; and the Gnostics, who are unhesitatingly proclaimed by history as a body of the most refined, learned, and enlightened men,[62] were all believers in metempsychosis. Socrates entertained opinions identical with those of Pythagoras; and both, as the penalty of their divine philosophy, were put to a violent death. The rabble has been the same in all ages. Materialism has been, and will ever be blind to spiritual truths. These philosophers held, with the Hindus, that God had infused into matter a portion of his own Divine Spirit, which animates and moves every particle. They taught that men have two souls, of separate and quite different natures: the one perishable—the Astral Soul, or the inner, fluidic body—the other incorruptible and immortal—the Augoeides, or portion of the Divine Spirit; that the mortal or Astral Soul perishes at each gradual change at the threshold of every new sphere, becoming with every transmigration more purified. The astral man, intangible and invisible as he might be to our mortal, earthly senses, is still constituted of matter, though sublimated. Aristotle, notwithstanding that for political reasons of his own he maintained a prudent silence as to certain esoteric matters, expressed very clearly his opinion on the subject. It was his belief that human souls are emanations of God, that are finally reabsorbed into Divinity. Zeno, the founder of the Stoics, taught that there are “two eternal qualities throughout nature: the one active; or male, the other passive, or female: that the[Pg 13] former is pure, subtile ether, or Divine Spirit; the other entirely inert in itself till united with the active principle. That the Divine Spirit acting upon matter produced fire, water, earth, and air; and that it is the sole efficient principle by which all nature is moved. The Stoics, like the Hindu sages, believed in the final absorption. St. Justin believed in the emanation of these souls from Divinity, and Tatian, the Assyrian, his disciple, declared that “man was as immortal as God himself.”[63]

That profoundly significant verse of the Genesis, “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, I gave a living soul, ...” should arrest the attention of every Hebrew scholar capable of reading the Scripture in its original, instead of following the erroneous translation, in which the phrase reads, “wherein there is life.”[64]

From the first to the last chapters, the translators of the Jewish Sacred Books misconstrued this meaning. They have even changed the spelling of the name of God, as Sir W. Drummond proves. Thus El, if written correctly, would read Al, for it stands in the original אל—Al, and, according to Higgins, this word means the god Mithra, the Sun, the preserver and savior. Sir W. Drummond shows that Beth-El means the House of the Sun in its literal translation, and not of God. “El, in the composition of these Canaanite names, does not signify Deus, but Sol.”[65] Thus Theology has disfigured ancient Theosophy, and Science ancient Philosophy.[66]

For lack of comprehension of this great philosophical principle, the methods of modern science, however exact, must end in nullity. In no one branch can it demonstrate the origin and ultimate of things. Instead of tracing the effect from its primal source, its progress is the reverse. Its higher types, as it teaches, are all evolved from antecedent lower ones. It starts from the bottom of the cycle, led on step by step in the great labyrinth of nature by a thread of matter. As soon as this breaks and the clue is lost, it recoils in affright from the Incomprehensible, and[Pg 14] confesses itself powerless. Not so did Plato and his disciples. With him the lower types were but the concrete images of the higher abstract ones. The soul, which is immortal, has an arithmetical, as the body has a geometrical, beginning. This beginning, as the reflection of the great universal Archæus, is self-moving, and from the centre diffuses itself over the whole body of the microcosm.

It was the sad perception of this truth that made Tyndall confess how powerless is science, even over the world of matter. “The first marshalling of the atoms, on which all subsequent action depends, baffles a keener power than that of the microscope.” “Through pure excess of complexity, and long before observation can have any voice in the matter, the most highly trained intellect, the most refined and disciplined imagination, retires in bewilderment from the contemplation of the problem. We are struck dumb by an astonishment which no microscope can relieve, doubting not only the power of our instrument, but even whether we ourselves possess the intellectual elements which will ever enable us to grapple with the ultimate structural energies of nature.”

The fundamental geometrical figure of the Kabala—that figure which tradition and the esoteric doctrines tell us was given by the Deity itself to Moses on Mount Sinai[67]—contains in its grandiose, because simple combination, the key to the universal problem. This figure contains in itself all the others. For those who are able to master it, there is no need to exercise imagination. No earthly microscope can be compared with the keenness of the spiritual perception.

And even for those who are unacquainted with the GREAT SCIENCE, the description given by a well-trained child-psychometer of the genesis of a grain, a fragment of crystal, or any other object—is worth all the telescopes and microscopes of “exact science.”

There may be more truth in the adventurous pangenesis of Darwin—whom Tyndall calls a “soaring speculator” than in the cautious, line-bound hypothesis of the latter; who, in common with other thinkers of his class, surrounds his imagination “by the firm frontiers of reason.” The theory of a microscopic germ which contains in itself “a world of minor germs,” soars in one sense at least into the infinite. It oversteps the world of matter, and begins unconsciously busying itself in the world of spirit.

If we accept Darwin’s theory of the development of species, we find that his starting-point is placed in front of an open door. We are at liberty with him, to either remain within, or cross the threshold, beyond[Pg 15] which lies the limitless and the incomprehensible, or rather the Unutterable. If our mortal language is inadequate to express what our spirit dimly foresees in the great “Beyond” while on this earth—it must realize it at some point in the timeless Eternity.

Not so with Professor Huxley’s theory of the “Physical Basis of Life.” Regardless of the formidable majority of “nays” from his German brother-scientists, he creates a universal protoplasm and appoints its cells to become henceforth the sacred founts of the principle of all life. By making the latter identical in living man, “dead mutton,” a nettle-sting, and a lobster; by shutting in, in the molecular cell of the protoplasm, the life-principle, and by shutting out from it the divine influx which comes with subsequent evolution, he closes every door against any possible escape. Like an able tactician he converts his “laws and facts” into sentries whom he causes to mount guard over every issue. The standard under which he rallies them is inscribed with the word “necessity;” but hardly is it unfurled when he mocks the legend and calls it “an empty shadow of my own imagination.”[68]

The fundamental doctrines of spiritualism, he says, “lie outside the limits of philosophical inquiry.” We will be bold enough to contradict this assertion, and say that they lie a great deal more within such inquiry than Mr. Huxley’s protoplasm. Insomuch that they present evident and palpable facts of the existence of spirit, and the protoplasmic cells, once dead, present none whatever of being the originators or the bases of life, as this one of the few “foremost thinkers of the day” wants us to believe.[69]

The ancient Kabalist rested upon no hypothesis till he could lay its basis upon the firm rock of recorded experiment.

But the too great dependence upon physical facts led to a growth of materialism and a decadence of spirituality and faith. At the time of Aristotle, this was the prevailing tendency of thought. And though the Delphic commandment was not as yet completely eliminated from Grecian thought; and some philosophers still held that “in order to know what man is, we ought to know what man was”—still materialism had already begun to gnaw at the root of faith. The Mysteries themselves had degenerated in a very great degree into mere priestly speculations and religious fraud. Few were the true adepts and initiates, the heirs and descendants of those who had been dispersed by the conquering swords of various invaders of Old Egypt.

The time predicted by the great Hermes in his dialogue with Æsculapius[Pg 16] had indeed come; the time when impious foreigners would accuse Egypt of adoring monsters, and naught but the letters engraved in stone upon her monuments would survive—enigmas incredible to posterity. Their sacred scribes and hierophants were wanderers upon the face of the earth. Obliged from fear of a profanation of the sacred mysteries to seek refuge among the Hermetic fraternities—known later as the Essenes—their esoteric knowledge was buried deeper than ever. The triumphant brand of Aristotle’s pupil swept away from his path of conquest every vestige of a once pure religion, and Aristotle himself, the type and child of his epoch, though instructed in the secret science of the Egyptians, knew but little of this crowning result of millenniums of esoteric studies.

As well as those who lived in the days of the Psammetics, our present-day philosophers “lift the Veil of Isis”—for Isis is but the symbol of nature. But, they see only her physical forms. The soul within escapes their view; and the Divine Mother has no answer for them. There are anatomists, who, uncovering to sight no indwelling spirit under the layers of muscles, the net-work of nerves, or the cineritious matter, which they lift with the point of the scalpel, assert that man has no soul. Such are as purblind in sophistry as the student, who, confining his research to the cold letter of the Kabala, dares say it has no vivifying spirit. To see the true man who once inhabited the subject which lies before him, on the dissecting table, the surgeon must use other eyes than those of his body. So, the glorious truth covered up in the hieratic writings of the ancient papyri can be revealed only to him who possesses the faculty of intuition—which, if we call reason the eye of the mind, may be defined as the eye of the soul.

Our modern science acknowledges a Supreme Power, an Invisible Principle, but denies a Supreme Being, or Personal God.[70] Logically, the difference between the two might be questioned; for in this case the Power and the Being are identical. Human reason can hardly imagine to itself an Intelligent Supreme Power without associating it with the idea of an Intelligent Being. The masses can never be expected to have a clear conception of the omnipotence and omnipresence of a Supreme God, without investing with those attributes a gigantic projection of their own personality. But the kabalists have never looked upon the invisible En-Soph otherwise than as a Power.

So far our modern positivists have been anticipated by thousands of ages, in their cautious philosophy. What the hermetic adept claims to demonstrate is, that simple common sense precludes the possibility that[Pg 17] the universe is the result of mere chance. Such an idea appears to him more absurd than to think that the problems of Euclid were unconsciously formed by a monkey playing with geometrical figures.

Very few Christians understand, if indeed they know anything at all, of the Jewish Theology. The Talmud is the darkest of enigmas even for most Jews, while those Hebrew scholars who do comprehend it do not boast of their knowledge. Their kabalistic books are still less understood by them; for in our days more Christian than Jewish students are engrossed in the elimination of their great truths. How much less is definitely known of the Oriental, or the universal Kabala! Its adepts are few; but these heirs elect of the sages who first discovered “the starry truths which shone on the great Shemaïa of the Chaldean lore”[71] have solved the “absolute” and are now resting from their grand labor. They cannot go beyond that which is given to mortals of this earth to know; and no one, not even these elect, can trespass beyond the line drawn by the finger of the Divinity itself. Travellers have met these adepts on the shores of the sacred Ganges, brushed against them in the silent ruins of Thebes, and in the mysterious deserted chambers of Luxor. Within the halls upon whose blue and golden vaults the weird signs attract attention, but whose secret meaning is never penetrated by the idle gazers, they have been seen but seldom recognized. Historical memoirs have recorded their presence in the brilliantly illuminated salons of European aristocracy. They have been encountered again on the arid and desolate plains of the Great Sahara, as in the caves of Elephanta. They may be found everywhere, but make themselves known only to those who have devoted their lives to unselfish study, and are not likely to turn back.

Maimonides, the great Jewish theologian and historian, who at one time was almost deified by his countrymen and afterward treated as a heretic, remarks, that the more absurd and void of sense the Talmud seems the more sublime is the secret meaning. This learned man has successfully demonstrated that the Chaldean Magic, the science of Moses and other learned thaumaturgists was wholly based on an extensive knowledge of the various and now forgotten branches of natural science. Thoroughly acquainted with all the resources of the vegetable, animal, and mineral kingdoms, experts in occult chemistry and physics, psychologists as well as physiologists, why wonder that the graduates or adepts instructed in the mysterious sanctuaries of the temples, could perform wonders, which even in our days of enlightenment would appear supernatural?[Pg 18] It is an insult to human nature to brand magic and the occult science with the name of imposture. To believe that for so many thousands of years, one-half of mankind practiced deception and fraud on the other half, is equivalent to saying that the human race was composed only of knaves and incurable idiots. Where is the country in which magic was not practiced? At what age was it wholly forgotten?

In the oldest documents now in our possession—the Vedas and the older laws of Manu—we find many magical rites practiced and permitted by the Brahmans.[72] Thibet, Japan and China teach in the present age that which was taught by the oldest Chaldeans. The clergy of these respective countries, prove moreover what they teach, namely: that the practice of moral and physical purity, and of certain austerities, developes the vital soul power of self-illumination. Affording to man the control over his own immortal spirit, it gives him truly magical powers over the elementary spirits inferior to himself. In the West we find magic of as high an antiquity as in the East. The Druids of Great Britain practiced it in the silent crypts of their deep caves; and Pliny devotes many a chapter to the “wisdom”[73] of the leaders of the Celts. The Semothees,—the Druids of the Gauls, expounded the physical as well as the spiritual sciences. They taught the secrets of the universe, the harmonious progress of the heavenly bodies, the formation of the earth, and above all—the immortality of the soul.[74] Into their sacred groves—natural academies built by the hand of the Invisible Architect—the initiates assembled at the still hour of midnight to learn about what man once was and what he will be.[75] They needed no artificial illumination, nor life-drawing gas, to light up their temples, for the chaste goddess of night beamed her most silvery rays on their oak-crowned heads; and their white-robed sacred bards knew how to converse with the solitary queen of the starry vault.[76]

On the dead soil of the long bygone past stand their sacred oaks, now dried up and stripped of their spiritual meaning by the venomous breath of materialism. But for the student of occult learning, their vegetation is still as verdant and luxuriant, and as full of deep and sacred truths, as at that hour when the arch-druid performed his magical cures, and waving the branch of misletoe, severed with his golden sickle the green bough from its mother oak-tree. Magic is as old as man. It is[Pg 19] as impossible to name the time when it sprang into existence as to indicate on what day the first man himself was born. Whenever a writer has started with the idea of connecting its first foundation in a country with some historical character, further research has proved his views groundless. Odin, the Scandinavian priest and monarch, was thought by many to have originated the practice of magic some seventy years B.C. But it was easily demonstrated that the mysterious rites of the priestesses called Voïlers, Valas, were greatly anterior to his age.[77] Some modern authors were bent on proving that Zoroaster was the founder of magic, because he was the founder of the Magian religion. Ammianus Marcellinus, Arnobius, Pliny, and other ancient historians demonstrated conclusively that he was but a reformer of Magic as practiced by the Chaldeans and Egyptians.[78]

The greatest teachers of divinity agree that nearly all ancient books were written symbolically and in a language intelligible only to the initiated. The biographical sketch of Apollonius of Tyana affords an example. As every Kabalist knows, it embraces the whole of the Hermetic philosophy, being a counterpart in many respects of the traditions left us of King Solomon. It reads like a fairy story, but, as in the case of the latter, sometimes facts and historical events are presented to the world under the colors of a fiction. The journey to India represents allegorically the trials of a neophyte. His long discourses with the Brahmans, their sage advice, and the dialogues with the Corinthian Menippus would, if interpreted, give the esoteric catechism. His visit to the empire of the wise men, and interview with their king Hiarchas, the oracle of Amphiaraüs, explain symbolically many of the secret dogmas of Hermes. They would disclose, if understood, some of the most important secrets of nature. Eliphas Levi points out the great resemblance which exists between King Hiarchas and the fabulous Hiram, of whom Solomon procured the cedars of Lebanon and the gold of Ophir. We would like to know whether modern Masons, even “Grand Lecturers” and the most intelligent craftsmen belonging to important lodges, understand who the Hiram is whose death they combine together to avenge?

Putting aside the purely metaphysical teachings of the Kabala, if one would devote himself but to physical occultism, to the so-called branch of therapeutics, the results might benefit some of our modern sciences; such as chemistry and medicine. Says Professor Draper: “Sometimes, not[Pg 20] without surprise, we meet with ideas which we flatter ourselves originated in our own times.” This remark, uttered in relation to the scientific writings of the Saracens, would apply still better to the more secret Treatises of the ancients. Modern medicine, while it has gained largely in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and even in therapeutics, has lost immensely by its narrowness of spirit, its rigid materialism, its sectarian dogmatism. One school in its purblindness sternly ignores whatever is developed by other schools; and all unite in ignoring every grand conception of man or nature, developed by Mesmerism, or by American experiments on the brain—every principle which does not conform to a stolid materialism. It would require a convocation of the hostile physicians of the several different schools to bring together what is now known of medical science, and it too often happens that after the best practitioners have vainly exhausted their art upon a patient, a mesmerist or a “healing medium” will effect a cure! The explorers of old medical literature, from the time of Hippocrates to that of Paracelsus and Van Helmont, will find a vast number of well-attested physiological and psychological facts and of measures or medicines for healing the sick which modern physicians superciliously refuse to employ.[79] Even with respect to surgery, modern practitioners have humbly and publicly confessed the total impossibility of their approximating to anything like the marvellous skill displayed in the art of bandaging by ancient Egyptians. The many hundred yards of ligature enveloping a mummy from its ears down to every separate toe, were studied by the chief surgical operators in Paris, and, notwithstanding that the models were before their eyes, they were unable to accomplish anything like it.

In the Abbott Egyptological collection, in New York City, may be seen numerous evidences of the skill of the ancients in various handicrafts; among others the art of lace-making; and, as it could hardly be expected but that the signs of woman’s vanity should go side by side with[Pg 21] those of man’s strength, there are also specimens of artificial hair, and gold ornaments of different kinds. The New York Tribune, reviewing the contents of the Ebers Papyrus, says:—“Verily, there is no new thing under the sun.... Chapters 65, 66, 79, and 89 show that hair-invigorators, hair dyes, pain-killers, and flea-powders were desiderata 3,400 years ago.”

How few of our recent alleged discoveries are in reality new, and how many belong to the ancients, is again most fairly and eloquently though but in part stated by our eminent philosophical writer, Professor John W. Draper. His Conflict between Religion and Science—a great book with a very bad title—swarms with such facts. At page 13, he cites a few of the achievements of ancient philosophers, which excited the admiration of Greece. In Babylon was a series of Chaldean astronomical observations, ranging back through nineteen hundred and three years, which Callisthenes sent to Aristotle. Ptolemy, the Egyptian king-astronomer possessed a Babylonian record of eclipses going back seven hundred and forty-seven years before our era. As Prof. Draper truly remarks: “Long-continued and close observations were necessary before some of these astronomical results that have reached our times could have been ascertained. Thus, the Babylonians had fixed the length of a tropical year within twenty-five seconds of the truth; their estimate of the sidereal year was barely two minutes in excess. They had detected the precession of the equinoxes. They knew the causes of eclipses, and, by the aid of their cycle, called saros, could predict them. Their estimate of the value of that cycle, which is more than 6,585 days, was within nineteen and a half minutes of the truth.”

“Such facts furnish incontrovertible proof of the patience and skill with which astronomy had been cultivated in Mesopotamia, and that, with very inadequate instrumental means, it had reached no inconsiderable perfection. These old observers had made a catalogue of the stars, had divided the zodiac into twelve signs; they had parted the day into twelve hours, the night into twelve. They had, as Aristotle says, for a long time devoted themselves to observations of star-occultations by the moon. They had correct views of the structure of the solar system, and knew the order of emplacement of the planets. They constructed sundials, clepsydras, astrolabes, gnomons.”

Speaking of the world of eternal truths that lies “within the world of transient delusions and unrealities,” Professor Draper says: “That world is not to be discovered through the vain traditions that have brought down to us the opinion of men who lived in the morning of civilization, nor in the dreams of mystics who thought that they were inspired. It is to be[Pg 22] discovered by the investigations of geometry, and by the practical interrogations of nature.”

Precisely. The issue could not be better stated. This eloquent writer tells us a profound truth. He does not, however, tell us the whole truth, because he does not know it. He has not described the nature or extent of the knowledge imparted in the Mysteries. No subsequent people has been so proficient in geometry as the builders of the Pyramids and other Titanic monuments, antediluvian and postdiluvian. On the other hand, none has ever equalled them in the practical interrogation of nature.

An undeniable proof of this is the significance of their countless symbols. Every one of these symbols is an embodied idea,—combining the conception of the Divine Invisible with the earthly and visible. The former is derived from the latter strictly through analogy according to the hermetic formula—“as below, so it is above.” Their symbols show great knowledge of natural sciences and a practical study of cosmical power.

As to practical results to be obtained by “the investigations of geometry,” very fortunately for students who are coming upon the stage of action, we are no longer forced to content ourselves with mere conjectures. In our own times, an American, Mr. George H. Felt, of New York, who, if he continues as he has begun, may one day be recognized as the greatest geometer of the age, has been enabled, by the sole help of the premises established by the ancient Egyptians, to arrive at results which we will give in his own language. “Firstly,” says Mr. Felt, “the fundamental diagram to which all science of elementary geometry, both plane and solid, is referable; to produce arithmetical systems of proportion in a geometrical manner; to identify this figure with all the remains of architecture and sculpture, in all which it had been followed in a marvellously exact manner; to determine that the Egyptians had used it as the basis of all their astronomical calculations, on which their religious symbolism was almost entirely founded; to find its traces among all the remnants of art and architecture of the Greeks; to discover its traces so strongly among the Jewish sacred records, as to prove conclusively that it was founded thereon; to find that the whole system had been discovered by the Egyptians after researches of tens of thousands of years into the laws of nature, and that it might truly be called the science of the Universe.” Further it enabled him “to determine with precision problems in physiology heretofore only surmised; to first develop such a Masonic philosophy as showed it to be conclusively the first science and religion, as it will be the last;” and we may add, lastly, to prove by ocular demonstrations that the Egyptian sculptors and architects obtained[Pg 23] the models for the quaint figures which adorn the façades and vestibules of their temples, not in the disordered fantasies of their own brains, but from the “viewless races of the air,” and other kingdoms of nature, whom he, like them, claims to make visible by resort to their own chemical and kabalistical processes.

Schweigger proves that the symbols of all the mythologies have a scientific foundation and substance.[80] It is only through recent discoveries of the physical electro-magnetical powers of nature that such experts in Mesmerism as Ennemoser, Schweigger and Bart, in Germany, Baron Du Potet and Regazzoni, in France and Italy, were enabled to trace with almost faultless accuracy the true relation which each Theomythos bore to some one of these powers. The Idæic finger, which had such importance in the magic art of healing, means an iron finger, which is attracted and repulsed in turn by magnetic, natural forces. It produced, in Samothrace, wonders of healing by restoring affected organs to their normal condition.

Bart goes deeper than Schweigger into the significations of the old myths, and studies the subject from both its spiritual and physical aspects. He treats at length of the Phrygian Dactyls, those “magicians and exorcists of sickness,” and of the Cabeirian Theurgists. He says: “While we treat of the close union of the Dactyls and magnetic forces, we are not necessarily confined to the magnetic stone, and our views of nature but take a glance at magnetism in its whole meaning. Then it is clear how the initiated, who called themselves Dactyls, created astonishment in the people through their magic arts, working as they did, miracles of a healing nature. To this united themselves many other things which the priesthood of antiquity was wont to practice; the cultivation of the land and of morals, the advancement of art and science, mysteries, and secret consecrations. All this was done by the priestly Cabeirians, and wherefore not guided and supported by the mysterious spirits of nature?”[81] Schweigger is of the same opinion, and demonstrates that the phenomena of ancient Theurgy were produced by magnetic powers “under the guidance of spirits.”

Despite their apparent Polytheism, the ancients—those of the educated class at all events—were entirely monotheistical; and this, too, ages upon ages before the days of Moses. In the Ebers Papyrus this fact is shown conclusively in the following words, translated from the first four lines of Plate I.: “I came from Heliopolis with the great ones[Pg 24] from Het-aat, the Lords of Protection, the masters of eternity and salvation. I came from Sais with the Mother-goddesses, who extended to me protection. The Lord of the Universe told me how to free the gods from all murderous diseases.” Eminent men were called gods by the ancients. The deification of mortal men and supposititious gods is no more a proof against their monotheism than the monument-building of modern Christians, who erect statues to their heroes, is proof of their polytheism. Americans of the present century would consider it absurd in their posterity 3,000 years hence to classify them as idolaters for having built statues to their god Washington. So shrouded in mystery was the Hermetic Philosophy that Volney asserted that the ancient peoples worshipped their gross material symbols as divine in themselves; whereas these were only considered as representing esoteric principles. Dupuis, also, after devoting many years of study to the problem, mistook the symbolic circle, and attributed their religion solely to astronomy. Eberhart (Berliner Monatschriff) and many other German writers of the last and present centuries, dispose of magic most unceremoniously, and think it due to the Platonic mythos of the Timæus. But how, without possessing a knowledge of the mysteries, was it possible for these men or any others not endowed with the finer intuition of a Champollion, to discover the esoteric half of that which was concealed, behind the veil of Isis, from all except the adepts?

The merit of Champollion as an Egyptologist none will question. He declares that everything demonstrates the ancient Egyptians to have been profoundly monotheistical. The accuracy of the writings of the mysterious Hermes Trismegistus, whose antiquity runs back into the night of time, is corroborated by him to their minutest details. Ennemoser also says: “Into Egypt and the East went Herodotus, Thales, Parmenides, Empedocles, Orpheus, and Pythagoras, to instruct themselves in Natural Philosophy and Theology.” There, too, Moses acquired his wisdom, and Jesus passed the earlier years of his life.

Thither gathered the students of all countries before Alexandria was founded. “How comes it,” Ennemoser goes on to say, “that so little has become known of these mysteries? through so many ages and amongst so many different times and people? The answer is that it is owing to the universally strict silence of the initiated. Another cause may be found in the destruction and total loss of all the written memorials of the secret knowledge of the remotest antiquity.” Numa’s books, described by Livy, consisting of treatises upon natural philosophy, were found in his tomb; but they were not allowed to be made known, lest they should reveal the most secret mysteries of the state religion. The[Pg 25] senate and the tribune of the people determined that the books themselves should be burned, which was done in public.[82]

Magic was considered a divine science which led to a participation in the attributes of Divinity itself. “It unveils the operations of nature,” says Philo Judæus, “and leads to the contemplation of celestial powers.”[83] In later periods its abuse and degeneration into sorcery made it an object of general abhorrence. We must therefore deal with it only as it was in the remote past, during those ages when every true religion was based on a knowledge of the occult powers of nature. It was not the sacerdotal class in ancient Persia that established magic, as it is commonly thought, but the Magi, who derive their name from it. The Mobeds, priests of the Parsis—the ancient Ghebers—are named, even at the present day, Magoï, in the dialect of the Pehlvi.[84] Magic appeared in the world with the earlier races of men. Cassien mentions a treatise, well-known in the fourth and fifth centuries, which was accredited to Ham, the son of Noah, who in his turn was reputed to have received it from Jared, the fourth generation from Seth, the son of Adam.[85]

Moses was indebted for his knowledge to the mother of the Egyptian princess, Thermuthis, who saved him from the waters of the Nile. The wife of Pharaoh,[86] Batria, was an initiate herself, and the Jews owe to her the possession of their prophet, “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in words and deeds.”[87] Justin Martyr, giving as his authority Trogus Pompeius, shows Joseph as having acquired a great knowledge in magical arts with the high priests of Egypt.[88]

The ancients knew more concerning certain sciences than our modern savants have yet discovered. Reluctant as many are to confess as much, it has been acknowledged by more than one scientist. “The degree of scientific knowledge existing in an early period of society was much greater than the moderns are willing to admit;” says Dr. A. Todd Thomson, the editor of Occult Sciences, by Salverte; “but,” he adds, “it was confined to the temples, carefully veiled from the eyes of the people and opposed only to the priesthood.” Speaking of the Kabala, the learned Franz von Baader remarks that “not only our salvation and wisdom, but our science itself came to us from the Jews.” But why not complete the sentence and tell the reader from whom the Jews got their wisdom?

Origen, who had belonged to the Alexandrian school of Platonists,[Pg 26] declares that Moses, besides the teachings of the covenant, communicated some very important secrets “from the hidden depths of the law” to the seventy elders. These he enjoined them to impart only to persons whom they found worthy.

St. Jerome names the Jews of Tiberias and Lydda as the only teachers of the mystical manner of interpretation. Finally, Ennemoser expresses a strong opinion that “the writings of Dionysius Areopagita have palpably been grounded on the Jewish Kabala.” When we take in consideration that the Gnostics, or early Christians, were but the followers of the old Essenes under a new name, this fact is nothing to be wondered at. Professor Molitor gives the Kabala its just due. He says:

“The age of inconsequence and shallowness, in theology as well as in sciences, is past, and since that revolutionary rationalism has left nothing behind but its own emptiness, after having destroyed everything positive, it seems now to be the time to direct our attention anew to that mysterious revelation which is the living spring whence our salvation must come ... the Mysteries of ancient Israel, which contain all secrets of modern Israel, would be particularly calculated to ... found the fabric of theology upon its deepest theosophical principles, and to gain a firm basis to all ideal sciences. It would open a new path ... to the obscure labyrinth of the myths, mysteries and constitutions of primitive nations.... In these traditions alone are contained the system of the schools of the prophets, which the prophet Samuel did not found, but only restored, whose end was no other than to lead the scholars to wisdom and the highest knowledge, and when they had been found worthy, to induct them into deeper mysteries. Classed with these mysteries was magic, which was of a double nature—divine magic, and evil magic, or the black art. Each of these is again divisible into two kinds, the active and seeing; in the first, man endeavors to place himself en rapport with the world to learn hidden things; in the latter he endeavors to gain power over spirits; in the former, to perform good and beneficial acts; in the latter to do all kinds of diabolical and unnatural deeds.”[89]

The clergy of the three most prominent Christian bodies, the Greek, Roman Catholic, and Protestant, discountenance every spiritual phenomenon manifesting itself through the so-called “mediums.” A very brief period, indeed, has elapsed since both the two latter ecclesiastical corporations burned, hanged, and otherwise murdered every helpless victim through whose organism spirits—and sometimes blind and as yet unexplained[Pg 27] forces of nature—manifested themselves. At the head of these three churches, pre-eminent stands the Church of Rome. Her hands are scarlet with the innocent blood of countless victims shed in the name of the Moloch-like divinity at the head of her creed. She is ready and eager to begin again. But she is bound hand and foot by that nineteenth century spirit of progress and religious freedom which she reviles and blasphemes daily. The Græco-Russian Church is the most amiable and Christ-like in her primitive, simple, though blind faith. Despite the fact that there has been no practical union between the Greek and Latin Churches, and that the two parted company long centuries ago, the Roman Pontiffs seem to invariably ignore the fact. They have in the most impudent manner possible arrogated to themselves jurisdiction not only over the countries within the Greek communion but also over all Protestants as well. “The Church insists,” says Professor Draper, “that the state has no rights over any thing which it declares to be within its domain, and that Protestantism being a mere rebellion, has no rights at all; that even in Protestant communities the Catholic bishop is the only lawful spiritual pastor.”[90] Decrees unheeded, encyclical letters unread, invitations to ecumenical councils unnoticed, excommunications laughed at—all these have seemed to make no difference. Their persistence has only been matched by their effrontery. In 1864, the culmination of absurdity was attained when Pius IX. excommunicated and fulminated publicly his anathemas against the Russian Emperor, as a “schismatic cast out from the bosom of the Holy Mother Church.”[91] Neither he nor his ancestors, nor Russia since it was Christianized, a thousand years ago, have ever consented to join the Roman Catholics. Why not claim ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Buddhists of Thibet, or the shadows of the ancient Hyk-Sos?

The mediumistic phenomena have manifested themselves at all times in Russia as well as in other countries. This force ignores religious differences; it laughs at nationalities; and invades unasked any individuality, whether of a crowned head or a poor beggar.

Not even the present Vice-God, Pius IX., himself, could avoid the unwelcome guest. For the last fifty years his Holiness has been known to be subject to very extraordinary fits. Inside the Vatican they are termed Divine visions; outside, physicians call them epileptic fits; and popular rumor attributes them to an obsession by the ghosts of Peruggia, Castelfidardo, and Mentana!

[Pg 28]

“The lights burn blue: it is now dead midnight,
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh,
Methought the souls of all that I caused to be murdered

The Prince of Hohenlohe, so famous during the first quarter of our century for his healing powers, was himself a great medium. Indeed, these phenomena and powers belong to no particular age or country. They form a portion of the psychological attributes of man—the Microcosmos.

For centuries have the Klikouchy,[93] the Yourodevoÿ,[94] and other miserable creatures been afflicted with strange disorders, which the Russian clergy and the populace attribute to possession by the devil. They throng the entrances of the cathedrals, without daring to trust themselves inside, lest their self-willed controlling demons might fling them on the ground. Voroneg, Kiew, Kazan, and all cities which possess the thaumaturgical relics of canonized saints, abound with such unconscious mediums. One can always find numbers of them, congregating in hideous groups, and hanging about the gates and porches. At certain stages of the celebration of the mass by the officiating clergy, such as the appearance of the sacraments, or the beginning of the prayer and chorus, “Ejey Cherouvim,” these half-maniacs, half-mediums, begin crowing like cocks, barking, bellowing and braying, and, finally, fall down in fearful convulsions. “The unclean one cannot bear the holy prayer,” is the pious explanation. Moved by pity, some charitable souls administer restoratives to the “afflicted ones,” and distribute alms among them. Occasionally, a priest is invited to exorcise, in which event he either performs the ceremony for the sake of love and charity, or the alluring prospect of a twenty-copeck silver bit, according to his Christian impulses. But these miserable creatures—who are mediums, for they prophesy and see visions sometimes, when the fit is genuine[95]—are never molested because of their misfortune. Why should the clergy persecute them, or people hate and denounce them as damnable witches or wizards? Common sense and justice surely suggest that if any are to be punished it is certainly not the victims who cannot help themselves, but the demon who is alleged to control their actions. The worst that happens to the patient is, that the priest inundates him or her with holy water, and causes the poor creature to catch cold. This failing in efficacy, the Klikoucha is left to the will[Pg 29] of God, and taken care of in love and pity. Superstitious and blind as it is, a faith conducted on such principles certainly deserves some respect, and can never be offensive, either to man or the true God. Not so with that of the Roman Catholics; and hence, it is they, and secondarily, the Protestant clergy—with the exception of some foremost thinkers among them—that we purpose questioning in this work. We want to know upon what grounds they base their right to treat Hindus and Chinese spiritualists and kabalists in the way they do; denouncing them, in company with the infidels—creatures of their own making—as so many convicts sentenced to the inextinguishable fires of hell.

Far from us be the thought of the slightest irreverence—let alone blasphemy—toward the Divine Power which called into being all things, visible and invisible. Of its majesty and boundless perfection we dare not even think. It is enough for us to know that It exists and that It is all wise. Enough that in common with our fellow creatures we possess a spark of Its essence. The supreme power whom we revere is the boundless and endless one—the grand “Central Spiritual Sun” by whose attributes and the visible effects of whose inaudible WILL we are surrounded—the God of the ancient and the God of modern seers. His nature can be studied only in the worlds called forth by his mighty FIAT. His revelation is traced with his own finger in imperishable figures of universal harmony upon the face of the Cosmos. It is the only INFALLIBLE gospel we recognize.

Speaking of ancient geographers, Plutarch remarks in Theseus, that they “crowd into the edges of their maps parts of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin to the effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts and unapproachable bogs.” Do not our theologians and scientists do the same? While the former people the invisible world with either angels or devils, our philosophers try to persuade their disciples that where there is no matter there is nothing.

How many of our inveterate skeptics belong, notwithstanding their materialism, to Masonic Lodges? The brothers of the Rosie-Cross, mysterious practitioners of the mediæval ages, still live—but in name only. They may “shed tears at the grave of their respectable Master, Hiram Abiff;” but vainly will they search for the true locality, “where the sprig of myrtle was placed.” The dead letter remains alone, the spirit has fled. They are like the English or German chorus of the Italian opera, who descend in the fourth act of Ernani into the crypt of Charlemagne, singing their conspiracy in a tongue utterly unknown to them. So, our modern knights of the Sacred Arch may descend every night if they choose[Pg 30] “through the nine arches into the bowels of the earth,“they “will never discover the sacred Delta of Enoch.” The “Sir Knights in the South Valley” and those in “the North Valley” may try to assure themselves that “enlightenment dawns upon their minds,” and that as they progress in Masonry “the veil of superstition, despotism, tyranny” and so on, no longer obscures the visions of their minds. But these are all empty words so long as they neglect their mother Magic, and turn their backs upon its twin sister, Spiritualism. Verily, “Sir Knights of the Orient,” you may “leave your stations and sit upon the floor in attitudes of grief, with your heads resting upon your hands,” for you have cause to bewail and mourn your fate. Since Phillipe le Bel destroyed the Knights-Templars, not one has appeared to clear up your doubts notwithstanding all claims to the contrary. Truly, you are “wanderers from Jerusalem, seeking the lost treasure of the holy place.” Have you found it? Alas, no! for the holy place is profaned; the pillars of wisdom, strength and beauty are destroyed. Henceforth, “you must wander in darkness,” and “travel in humility,” among the woods and mountains in search of the “lost word.” “Pass on!“you will never find it so long as you limit your journeys to seven or even seven times seven; because you are “travelling in darkness,” and this darkness can only be dispelled by the light of the blazing torch of truth which alone the right descendants of Ormazd carry. They alone can teach you the true pronunciation of the name revealed to Enoch, Jacob and Moses. “Pass on!” Till your R. S. W. shall learn to multiply 333, and strike instead 666—the number of the Apocalyptic Beast, you may just as well observe prudence and act “sub rosa.”

In order to demonstrate that the notions which the ancients entertained about dividing human history into cycles were not utterly devoid of a philosophical basis, we will close this chapter by introducing to the reader one of the oldest traditions of antiquity as to the evolution of our planet.

At the close of each “great year,” called by Aristotle—according to Censorinus—the greatest, and which consists of six sars[96] our planet is subjected to a thorough physical revolution. The polar and equatorial climates gradually exchange places; the former moving slowly toward the Line, and the tropical zone, with its exuberant vegetation and swarming animal life, replacing the forbidding wastes of the icy poles. This[Pg 31] change of climate is necessarily attended by cataclysms, earthquakes, and other cosmical throes.[97] As the beds of the ocean are displaced, at the end of every decimillennium and about one neros, a semi-universal deluge like the legendary Noachian flood is brought about. This year was called the Heliacal by the Greeks; but no one outside the sanctuary knew anything certain either as to its duration or particulars. The winter of this year was called the Cataclysm or the Deluge,—the Summer, the Ecpyrosis. The popular traditions taught that at these alternate seasons the world was in turn burned and deluged. This is what we learn at least from the Astronomical Fragments of Censorinus and Seneca. So uncertain were the commentators about the length of this year, that none except Herodotus and Linus, who assigned to it, the former 10,800, and the latter 13,984, came near the truth.[98] According to the claims of the Babylonian priests, corroborated by Eupolemus,[99] “the city of Babylon, owes its foundation to those who were saved from the catastrophe of the deluge; they were the giants and they built the tower which is noticed in history.”[100] These giants who were great astrologers and had received moreover from their fathers, “the sons of God,” every instruction pertaining to secret matters, instructed the priests in their turn, and left in the temples all the records of the periodical cataclysm that they had witnessed themselves. This is how the high priests came by the knowledge of the great years. When we remember, moreover, that Plato in the Timæus cites the old Egyptian priest rebuking Solon for his ignorance of the fact that there were several such deluges as the great one of Ogyges, we can easily ascertain that this belief in the Heliakos was a doctrine held by the initiated priests the world over.

The Neroses, the Vrihaspati, or the periods called yugas or kalpas, are life-problems to solve. The Satya-yug and Buddhistic cycles of chronology would make a mathematician stand aghast at the array of ciphers. The Maha-kalpa embraces an untold number of periods far[Pg 32] back in the antediluvian ages. Their system comprises a kalpa or grand period of 4,320,000,000 years, which they divide into four lesser yugas, running as follows:

1st.—Satya-yug 1,728,000 years.
2d.—Trêtya yug 1,296,000 years.
3d.—Dvâpa yug 864,000 years.
4th.—Kali yug 432,000 years.
Total 4,320,000

which make one divine age or Maha-yug; seventy-one Maha-yugs make 306,720,000 years, to which is added a sandhi (or the time when day and night border on each other, morning and evening twilight), equal to a Satya-yug, 1,728,000, make a manwantara of 308,448,000 years;[101] fourteen manwantaras make 4,318,272,000 years; to which must be added a sandhi to begin the kalpa, 1,728,000 years, making the kalpa or grand period of 4,320,000,000 of years. As we are now only in the Kali-yug of the twenty-eighth age of the seventh manwantara of 308,448,000 years, we have yet sufficient time before us to wait before we reach even half of the time allotted to the world.

These ciphers are not fanciful, but founded upon actual astronomical calculations, as has been demonstrated by S. Davis.[102] Many a scientist, Higgins among others, notwithstanding their researches, has been utterly perplexed as to which of these was the secret cycle. Bunsen has demonstrated that the Egyptian priests, who made the cyclic notations, kept them always in the profoundest mystery.[103] Perhaps their difficulty arose from the fact that the calculations of the ancients applied equally to the spiritual progress of humanity as to the physical. It will not be difficult to understand the close correspondence drawn by the ancients between the cycles of nature and of mankind, if we keep in mind their belief in the constant and all-potent influences of the planets upon the fortunes of humanity. Higgins justly believed that the cycle of the Indian system, of 432,000, is the true key of the secret cycle. But his failure in trying to decipher it was made apparent; for as it pertained to the mystery of the creation, this cycle was the most inviolable of all. It was repeated in symbolic figures only in the Chaldean Book of Numbers, the original of which, if now[Pg 33] extant, is certainly not to be found in libraries, as it formed one of the most ancient Books of Hermes,[104] the number of which is at present undetermined.

Calculating by the secret period of the Great Neros and the Hindu Kalpas, some kabalists, mathematicians and archæologists who knew naught of the secret computations made the above number of 21,000 years to be 24,000 years, for the length of the great year, as it was to the renewal only of our globe that they thought the last period of 6,000 years applied. Higgins gives as a reason for it, that it was anciently thought that the equinoxes preceded only after the rate of 2,000, not 2,160, years in a sign; for thus it would allow for the length of the great year four times 6,000 or 24,000 years. “Hence,” he says, “might arise their immensely-lengthened cycles; because, it would be the same with this great year as with the common year, till it travelled round an immensely-lengthened circle, when it would come to the old point again.” He therefore accounts for the 24,000 in the following manner: “If the angle which the plane of the ecliptic makes with the plane of the equator had decreased gradually and regularly, as it was till very lately supposed to do, the two planes would have coincided in about ten ages, 6,000 years;[Pg 34] in ten ages, 6,000 years more, the sun would have been situated relatively to the Southern Hemisphere as he is now to the Northern; in ten ages, 6,000 years more, the two planes would coincide again; and, in ten ages, 6,000 years more, he would be situated as he is now, after a lapse of about twenty-four or twenty-five thousand years in all. When the sun arrived at the equator, the ten ages or six thousand years would end, and the world would be destroyed by fire; when he arrived at the southern point, it would be destroyed by water. And thus, it would be destroyed at the end of every 6,000 years, or ten neroses.”[105]

This method of calculating by the neroses, without allowing any consideration for the secrecy in which the ancient philosophers, who were exclusively of the sacerdotal order, held their knowledge, gave rise to the greatest errors. It led the Jews, as well as some of the Christian Platonists, to maintain that the world would be destroyed at the end of six thousand years. Gale shows how firmly this belief was rooted in the Jews. It has also led modern scientists to discredit entirely the hypothesis of the ancients. It has given rise to the formation of different religious sects, which, like the Adventists of our century, are always living in the expectation of the approaching destruction of the world.

As our planet revolves once every year around the sun and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.

The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect—the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.

Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended.

The division of the history of mankind into Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron Ages, is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other.

Thus, all those great characters who tower like giants in the history of mankind, like Buddha-Siddârtha, and Jesus, in the realm of spiritual, and[Pg 35] Alexander the Macedonian and Napoleon the Great, in the realm of physical conquests, were but reflexed images of human types which had existed ten thousand years before, in the preceding decimillennium, reproduced by the mysterious powers controlling the destinies of our world. There is no prominent character in all the annals of sacred or profane history whose prototype we cannot find in the half-fictitious and half-real traditions of bygone religions and mythologies. As the star, glimmering at an immeasurable distance above our heads, in the boundless immensity of the sky, reflects itself in the smooth waters of a lake, so does the imagery of men of the antediluvian ages reflect itself in the periods we can embrace in an historical retrospect.

As above, so it is below. That which has been, will return again. As in heaven, so on earth.

The world is always ungrateful to its great men. Florence has built a statue to Galileo, but hardly even mentions Pythagoras. The former had a ready guide in the treatises of Copernicus, who had been obliged to contend against the universally established Ptolemaic system. But neither Galileo nor modern astronomy discovered the emplacement of the planetary bodies. Thousands of ages before, it was taught by the sages of Middle Asia, and brought thence by Pythagoras, not as a speculation, but as a demonstrated science. “The numerals of Pythagoras,” says Porphyry, “were hieroglyphical symbols, by means whereof he explained all ideas concerning the nature of all things.”[106]

Verily, then, to antiquity alone have we to look for the origin of all things. How well Hargrave Jennings expresses himself when speaking of Pyramids, and how true are his words when he asks: “Is it at all reasonable to conclude, at a period when knowledge was at the highest, and when the human powers were, in comparison with ours at the present time, prodigious, that all these indomitable, scarcely believable physical effects—that such achievements as those of the Egyptians—were devoted to a mistake? that the myriads of the Nile were fools laboring in the dark, and that all the magic of their great men was forgery, and that we, in despising that which we call their superstition and wasted power, are alone the wise? No! there is much more in these old religions than probably—in the audacity of modern denial, in the confidence of these superficial-science times, and in the derision of these days without faith—is in the least degree supposed. We do not understand the old time.... Thus we see how classic practice and heathen teaching may be made to reconcile—how even the Gentile and the Hebrew, the mythological[Pg 36] and the Christian doctrine harmonize in the general faith founded on Magic. That Magic is indeed possible is the moral of this book.”[107]

It is possible. Thirty years ago, when the first rappings of Rochester awakened slumbering attention to the reality of an invisible world; when the gentle shower of raps gradually became a torrent which overflowed the whole globe, spiritualists had to contend but against two potencies—theology and science. But the theosophists have, in addition to these, to meet the world at large and the spiritualists first of all.

“There is a personal God, and there is a personal Devil!” thunders the Christian preacher. “Let him be anathema who dares say nay!” “There is no personal God, except the gray matter in our brain,” contemptuously replies the materialist. “And there is no Devil. Let him be considered thrice an idiot who says aye.” Meanwhile the occultists and true philosophers heed neither of the two combatants, but keep perseveringly at their work. None of them believe in the absurd, passionate, and fickle God of superstition, but all of them believe in good and evil. Our human reason, the emanation of our finite mind, is certainly incapable of comprehending a divine intelligence, an endless and infinite entity; and, according to strict logic, that which transcends our understanding and would remain thoroughly incomprehensible to our senses cannot exist for us; hence, it does not exist. So far finite reason agrees with science, and says: “There is no God.” But, on the other hand, our Ego, that which lives and thinks and feels independently of us in our mortal casket, does more than believe. It knows that there exists a God in nature, for the sole and invincible Artificer of all lives in us as we live in Him. No dogmatic faith or exact science is able to uproot that intuitional feeling inherent in man, when he has once fully realized it in himself.

Human nature is like universal nature in its abhorrence of a vacuum. It feels an intuitional yearning for a Supreme Power. Without a God, the cosmos would seem to it but like a soulless corpse. Being forbidden to search for Him where alone His traces would be found, man filled the aching void with the personal God whom his spiritual teachers built up for him from the crumbling ruins of heathen myths and hoary philosophies of old. How otherwise explain the mushroom growth of new sects, some of them absurd beyond degree? Mankind have one innate, irrepressible craving, that must be satisfied in any religion that would supplant the dogmatic, undemonstrated and undemonstrable theology of our Christian ages. This is the yearning after the proofs of immortality. As Sir Thomas Browne has expressed it: ... “it is the heaviest stone that[Pg 37] melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him that he is at the end of his nature, or that there is no future state to come, unto which this seems progressive, and otherwise made in vain.” Let any religion offer itself that can supply these proofs in the shape of scientific facts, and the established system will be driven to the alternative of fortifying its dogmas with such facts, or of passing out of the reverence and affection of Christendom. Many a Christian divine has been forced to acknowledge that there is no authentic source whence the assurance of a future state could have been derived by man. How could then such a belief have stood for countless ages, were it not that among all nations, whether civilized or savage, man has been allowed the demonstrative proof? Is not the very existence of such a belief an evidence that thinking philosopher and unreasoning savage have both been compelled to acknowledge the testimony of their senses? That if, in isolated instances, spectral illusion may have resulted from physical causes, on the other hand, in thousands of instances, apparitions of persons have held converse with several individuals at once, who saw and heard them collectively, and could not all have been diseased in mind?

The greatest thinkers of Greece and Rome regarded such matters as demonstrated facts. They distinguished the apparitions by the names of manes, anima and umbra: the manes descending after the decease of the individual into the Underworld; the anima, or pure spirit, ascending to heaven; and the restless umbra (earth-bound spirit), hovering about its tomb, because the attraction of matter and love of its earthly body prevailed in it and prevented its ascension to higher regions.

“Terra legit carnem tumulum circumvolet umbra,
Orcus habet manes, spiritus astra petit,”

says Ovid, speaking of the threefold constituents of souls.

But all such definitions must be subjected to the careful analysis of philosophy. Too many of our thinkers do not consider that the numerous changes in language, the allegorical phraseology and evident secretiveness of old Mystic writers, who were generally under an obligation never to divulge the solemn secrets of the sanctuary, might have sadly misled translators and commentators. The phrases of the mediæval alchemist they read literally; and even the veiled symbolology of Plato is commonly misunderstood by the modern scholar. One day they may learn to know better, and so become aware that the method of extreme necessarianism was practiced in ancient as well as in modern philosophy; that from the first ages of man, the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth was in the safe keeping of the adepts of the sanctuary;[Pg 38] that the difference in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe. It is for philology and psychology to find the end of the thread. That done, it will then be ascertained that, by relaxing one single loop of the old religious systems, the chain of mystery may be disentangled.

The neglect and withholding of these proofs have driven such eminent minds as Hare and Wallace, and other men of power, into the fold of modern spiritualism. At the same time it has forced others, congenitally devoid of spiritual intuitions, into a gross materialism that figures under various names.

But we see no utility in prosecuting the subject further. For, though in the opinion of most of our contemporaries, there has been but one day of learning, in whose twilight stood the older philosophers, and whose noontide brightness is all our own; and though the testimony of scores of ancient and mediæval thinkers has proved valueless to modern experimenters, as though the world dated from A.D. 1, and all knowledge were of recent growth, we will not lose hope or courage. The moment is more opportune than ever for the review of old philosophies. Archæologists, philologists, astronomers, chemists and physicists are getting nearer and nearer to the point where they will be forced to consider them. Physical science has already reached its limits of exploration; dogmatic theology sees the springs of its inspiration dry. Unless we mistake the signs, the day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Secrets long kept may be revealed; books long forgotten and arts long time lost may be brought out to light again; papyri and parchments of inestimable importance will turn up in the hands of men who pretend to have unrolled them from mummies, or stumbled upon them in buried crypts; tablets and pillars, whose sculptured revelations will stagger theologians and confound scientists, may yet be excavated and interpreted. Who knows the possibilities of the future? An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin—nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course; a new one is about to begin, and the future pages of history may contain full evidence, and convey full proof that

“If ancestry can be in aught believed,
Descending spirits have conversed with man,
And told him secrets of the world unknown.”

[Pg 39]


“Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence
And fills up all the mighty void of sense....”

“But why should the operations of nature be changed? There may be a deeper philosophy than we dream of—a philosophy that discovers the secrets of nature, but does not alter, by penetrating them, its course.”—Bulwer.

Is it enough for man to know that he exists? Is it enough to be formed a human being to enable him to deserve the appellation of MAN? It is our decided impression and conviction, that to become a genuine spiritual entity, which that designation implies, man must first create himself anew, so to speak—i.e., thoroughly eliminate from his mind and spirit, not only the dominating influence of selfishness and other impurity, but also the infection of superstition and prejudice. The latter is far different from what we commonly term antipathy or sympathy. We are at first irresistibly or unwittingly drawn within its dark circle by that peculiar influence, that powerful current of magnetism which emanates from ideas as well as from physical bodies. By this we are surrounded, and finally prevented through moral cowardice—fear of public opinion—from stepping out of it. It is rare that men regard a thing in either its true or false light, accepting the conclusion by the free action of their own judgment. Quite the reverse. The conclusion is more commonly reached by blindly adopting the opinion current at the hour among those with whom they associate. A church member will not pay an absurdly high price for his pew any more than a materialist will go twice to listen to Mr. Huxley’s talk on evolution, because they think that it is right to do so; but merely because Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so have done it, and these personages are the S—and S—’s.

The same holds good with everything else. If psychology had had its Darwin, the descent of man as regards moral qualities might have been found inseparably linked with that of his physical form. Society in its servile condition suggests to the intelligent observer of its mimicry a kinship between the Simia and human beings even more striking than is exhibited in the external marks pointed out by the great anthropologist.[Pg 40] The many varieties of the ape—“mocking presentments of ourselves” appear to have been evolved on purpose to supply a certain class of expensively-dressed persons with the material for genealogical trees.

Science is daily and rapidly moving toward the great discoveries in chemistry and physics, organology, and anthropology. Learned men ought to be free from preconceptions and prejudices of every kind; yet, although thought and opinion are now free, scientists are still the same men as of old. An Utopian dreamer is he who thinks that man ever changes with the evolution and development of new ideas. The soil may be well fertilized and made to yield with every year a greater and better variety of fruit; but, dig a little deeper than the stratum required for the crop, and the same earth will be found in the subsoil as was there before the first furrow was turned.

Not many years ago, the person who questioned the infallibility of some theological dogma was branded at once an iconoclast and an infidel. Væ victis! ... Science has conquered. But in its turn the victor claims the same infallibility, though it equally fails to prove its right. “Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis,” the saying of the good old Lotharius, applies to the case. Nevertheless, we feel as if we had some right to question the high-priests of science.

For many years we have watched the development and growth of that apple of discord—MODERN SPIRITUALISM. Familiar with its literature both in Europe and America, we have closely and eagerly witnessed its interminable controversies and compared its contradictory hypotheses. Many educated men and women—heterodox spiritualists, of course—have tried to fathom the Protean phenomena. The only result was that they came to the following conclusion: whatever may be the reason of these constant failures—whether such are to be laid at the door of the investigators themselves, or of the secret Force at work—it is at least proved that, in proportion as the psychological manifestations increase in frequency and variety, the darkness surrounding their origin becomes more impenetrable.

That phenomena are actually witnessed, mysterious in their nature—generally and perhaps wrongly termed spiritual—it is now idle to deny. Allowing a large discount for clever fraud, what remains is quite serious enough to demand the careful scrutiny of science. “E pur se muove,” the sentence spoken ages since, has passed into the category of household words. The courage of Galileo is not now required to fling it into the face of the Academy. Psychological phenomena are already on the offensive.

The position assumed by modern scientists is that even though the occurrence of certain mysterious phenomena in the presence of the[Pg 41] mediums be a fact, there is no proof that they are not due to some abnormal nervous condition of those individuals. The possibility that they may be produced by returning human spirits need not be considered until the other question is decided. Little exception can be taken to this position. Unquestionably, the burden of proof rests upon those who assert the agency of spirits. If the scientists would grapple with the subject in good faith, showing an earnest desire to solve the perplexing mystery, instead of treating it with undignified and unprofessional contempt, they would be open to no censure. True, the great majority of “spiritual” communications are calculated to disgust investigators of even moderate intelligence. Even when genuine they are trivial, commonplace, and often vulgar. During the past twenty years we have received through various mediums messages purporting to be from Shakspere, Byron, Franklin, Peter the Great, Napoleon and Josephine, and even from Voltaire. The general impression made upon us was that the French conqueror and his consort seemed to have forgotten how to spell words correctly; Shakspere and Byron had become chronic inebriates; and Voltaire had turned an imbecile. Who can blame men trained to habits of exactitude, or even simply well-educated persons, for hastily concluding that when so much palpable fraud lies upon the surface, there could hardly be truth if they should go to the bottom? The huckstering about of pompous names attached to idiotic communications has given the scientific stomach such an indigestion that it cannot assimilate even the great truth which lies on the telegraphic plateaux of this ocean of psychological phenomena. They judge by its surface, covered with froth and scum. But they might with equal propriety deny that there is any clear water in the depths of the sea when an oily scum was floating upon the surface. Therefore, if on one hand we cannot very well blame them for stepping back at the first sight of what seems really repulsive, we do, and have a right to censure them for their unwillingness to explore deeper. Neither pearls nor cut diamonds are to be found lying loose on the ground; and these persons act as unwisely as would a professional diver, who should reject an oyster on account of its filthy and slimy appearance, when by opening it he might find a precious pearl inside the shell.

Even the just and severe rebukes of some of their leading men are of no avail; and the fear on the part of men of science to investigate such an unpopular subject, seems to have now become a general panic. “The phenomena chase the scientists, and the scientists run away from the phenomena,” very pointedly remarks M. A. N. Aksakof in an able article on Mediumism and the St. Petersburg Scientific Committee. The attitude[Pg 42] of this body of professors toward the subject which they had pledged themselves to investigate was throughout simply disgraceful. Their premature and prearranged report was so evidently partial and inconclusive as to call out a scornful protest even from unbelievers.

The inconsistency of the logic of our learned gentlemen against the philosophy of spiritualism proper is admirably pointed out by Professor John Fisk—one of their own body. In a recent philosophical work, The Unseen World, while showing that from the very definition of the terms, matter and spirit, the existence of spirit cannot be demonstrated to the senses, and that thus no theory is amenable to scientific tests, he deals a severe blow at his colleagues in the following lines:

“The testimony in such a case,” he says, “must, under the conditions of the present life, be forever inaccessible. It lies wholly outside the range of experience. However abundant it may be, we cannot expect to meet it. And, accordingly, our failure to produce it does not raise even the slightest presumption against our theory. When conceived in this way, the belief in the future life is without scientific support, but at the same time it is placed beyond the need of scientific support and the range of scientific criticism. It is a belief which no imaginable future advance of physical discovery can in any way impugn. It is a belief which is in no sense irrational, and which may be logically entertained without in the least affecting our scientific habit of mind, or influencing our scientific conclusions.” “If now,” he adds, “men of science will accept the position that spirit is not matter, nor governed by the laws of matter, and refrain from speculations concerning it restricted by their knowledge of material things, they will withdraw what is to men of religion, at present, their principal cause of irritation.”

But, they will do no such thing. They feel incensed at the brave, loyal, and highly commendable surrender of such superior men as Wallace, and refuse to accept even the prudent and restrictive policy of Mr. Crookes.

No other claim is advanced for a hearing of the opinions contained in the present work than that they are based upon many years’ study of both ancient magic and its modern form, Spiritualism. The former, even now, when phenomena of the same nature have become so familiar to all, is commonly set down as clever jugglery. The latter, when overwhelming evidence precludes the possibility of truthfully declaring it charlatanry, is denominated an universal hallucination.

Many years of wandering among “heathen” and “Christian” magicians, occultists, mesmerisers and the tutti quanti of white and black art, ought to be sufficient, we think, to give us a certain right to[Pg 43] feel competent to take a practical view of this doubted and very complicated question. We have associated with the fakirs, the holy men of India, and seen them when in intercourse with the Pitris. We have watched the proceedings and modus operandi of the howling and dancing dervishes; held friendly communications with the marabouts of European and Asiatic Turkey; and the serpent-charmers of Damascus and Benares have but few secrets that we have not had the fortune to study. Therefore, when scientists who have never had an opportunity of living among these oriental jugglers and can judge at the best but superficially, tell us that there is naught in their performances but mere tricks of prestidigitation, we cannot help feeling a profound regret for such hasty conclusions. That such pretentious claims should be made to a thorough analysis of the powers of nature, and at the same time such unpardonable neglect displayed of questions of purely physiological and psychological character, and astounding phenomena rejected without either examination or appeal, is an exhibition of inconsistency, strongly savoring of timidity, if not of moral obliquity.

If, therefore, we should ever receive from some contemporaneous Faraday the same fling that that gentleman made years since, when, with more sincerity than good breeding, he said that “many dogs have the power of coming to much more logical conclusions than some spiritualists,”[108] we fear we must still persist. Abuse is not argument, least of all, proof. Because such men as Huxley and Tyndall denominate spiritualism “a degrading belief” and oriental magic “jugglery,” they cannot thereby take from truth its verity. Skepticism, whether it proceeds from a scientific or an ignorant brain, is unable to overturn the immortality of our souls—if such immortality is a fact—and plunge them into post-mortem annihilation. “Reason is subject to error,” says Aristotle; so is opinion; and the personal views of the most learned philosopher are often more liable to be proved erroneous, than the plain common sense of his own illiterate cook. In the Tales of the Impious Khalif, Barrachias-Hassan-Oglu, the Arabian sage holds a wise discourse: “Beware, O my son, of self-incense,” he says. “It is the most dangerous, on account of its agreeable intoxication. Profit by thy own wisdom, but learn to respect the wisdom of thy fathers likewise. And remember, O my beloved, that the light of Allah’s truth will often penetrate much easier an empty head, than one that is so crammed with learning that many a silver ray is crowded out for want of space; ... such is the case with our over-wise Kadi.”

[Pg 44]

These representatives of modern science in both hemispheres seem never to have exhibited more scorn, or to have felt more bitterly toward the unsolvable mystery, than since Mr. Crookes began the investigation of the phenomena, in London. This courageous gentleman was the first to introduce to the public one of those alleged “materialized” sentries that guard the forbidden gates. Following after him, several other learned members of the scientific body had the rare integrity, combined with a degree of courage, which, in view of the unpopularity of the subject, may be deemed heroic, to take the phenomena in hand.

But, alas! although the spirit, indeed, was willing, the mortal flesh proved weak. Ridicule was more than the majority of them could bear; and so, the heaviest burden was thrown upon the shoulders of Mr. Crookes. An account of the benefit this gentleman reaped from his disinterested investigations, and the thanks he received from his own brother scientists, can be found in his three pamphlets, entitled, Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism.

After a while, the members appointed on the Committee of the Dialectical society and Mr. Crookes, who had applied to his mediums the most crucial tests, were forced by an impatient public to report in so many plain words what they had seen. But what could they say, except the truth? Thus, they were compelled to acknowledge: 1st. That the phenomena which they, at least, had witnessed, were genuine, and impossible to simulate; thus showing that manifestations produced by some unknown force, could and did happen. 2d. That, whether the phenomena were produced by disembodied spirits or other analogous entities, they could not tell; but that manifestations, thoroughly upsetting many preconceived theories as to natural laws, did happen and were undeniable. Several of these occurred in their own families. 3d. That, notwithstanding all their combined efforts to the contrary, beyond the indisputable fact of the reality of the phenomena, “glimpses of natural action not yet reduced to law,”[109] they, to borrow the expression of the Count de Gabalis, “could make neither head nor tail on’t.”

Now this was precisely what a skeptical public had not bargained for. The discomfiture of the believers in spiritualism had been impatiently anticipated before the conclusions of Messrs. Crookes, Varley, and the Dialectical Society were announced. Such a confession on the part of their brother-scientists was too humiliating for the pride of even those who had timorously abstained from investigation. It was regarded as really too much, that such vulgar and repulsive manifestations of[Pg 45] phenomena which had always, by common consent of educated people, been regarded as nursery tales, fit only to amuse hysterical servant-girls and afford revenue to professional somnambulists—that manifestations which had been consigned by the Academy and Institute of Paris to oblivion, should so impertinently elude detection at the hands of experts in physical sciences.

A tornado of indignation followed the confession. Mr. Crookes depicts it in his pamphlet on Psychic Force. He heads it very pointedly with the quotation from Galvani: “I am attacked by two very opposite sects—the scientists and the know-nothings, yet I know that I have discovered one of the greatest forces in nature....” He then proceeds:

“It was taken for granted that the results of my experiments would be in accordance with their preconceptions. What they really desired was not the truth, but an additional witness in favor of their own foregone conclusions. When they found the facts which that investigation established could not be made to fit those opinions, why, ... so much the worse for the facts. They try to creep out of their own confident recommendations of the inquiry, by declaring ‘that Mr. Home is a clever conjurer who has duped us all.’ ‘Mr. Crookes might, with equal propriety, examine the performances of an Indian juggler.’ ‘Mr. Crookes must get better witnesses before he can be believed.’ ‘The thing is too absurd to be treated seriously.’ ‘It is impossible, and therefore can’t be.’ ... (I never said it was impossible, I only said it was true.) ‘The observers have all been biologized, and fancy they saw things occur which really never took place,’ etc., etc., etc.”[110]

After expending their energy on such puerile theories as “unconscious cerebration,” “involuntary muscular contraction,” and the sublimely ridiculous one of the “cracking knee-joints” (le muscle craqueur); after meeting ignominious failures by the obstinate survival of the new force, and finally, after every desperate effort to compass its obliteration, these filii diffidentiæ—as St. Paul calls their class—thought best to give up the whole thing in disgust. Sacrificing their courageously persevering brethren as a holocaust on the altar of public opinion, they withdrew in dignified silence. Leaving the arena of investigation to more fearless champions, these unlucky experimenters are not likely to ever enter it again.[111] It is easier by far to deny the reality of such manifestations from a secure distance, than find for them a proper place among the classes of[Pg 46] natural phenomena accepted by exact science. And how can they, since all such phenomena pertain to psychology, and the latter, with its occult and mysterious powers, is a terra incognita for modern science. Thus, powerless to explain that which proceeds directly from the nature of the human soul itself—the existence of which most of them deny—unwilling at the same time to confess their ignorance, scientists retaliate very unjustly on those who believe in the evidence of their senses without any pretence to science.

“A kick from thee, O Jupiter! is sweet,” says the poet Tretiakowsky, in an old Russian tragedy. Rude as those Jupiters of science may be occasionally toward us credulous mortals, their vast learning—in less abstruse questions, we mean—if not their manners, entitles them to public respect. But unfortunately it is not the gods who shout the loudest.

The eloquent Tertullian, speaking of Satan and his imps, whom he accuses of ever mimicking the Creator’s works, denominates them the “monkeys of God.” It is fortunate for the philosophicules that we have no modern Tertullian to consign them to an immortality of contempt as the “monkeys of science.”

But to return to genuine scientists. “Phenomena of a merely objective character,” says A. N. Aksakof, “force themselves upon the representatives of exact sciences for investigation and explanation; but the high-priests of science, in the face of apparently such a simple question ... are totally disconcerted! This subject seems to have the privilege of forcing them to betray, not only the highest code of morality—truth, but also the supreme law of science—experiment!... They feel that there is something too serious underlying it. The cases of Hare, Crookes, de Morgan, Varley, Wallace, and Butleroff create a panic! They fear that as soon as they concede one step, they will have to yield the whole ground. Time-honored principles, the contemplative speculations of a whole life, of a long line of generations, are all staked on a single card!“[112]

In the face of such experience as that of Crookes and the Dialectical Society, of Wallace and the late Professor Hare, what can we expect from our luminaries of erudition? Their attitude toward the undeniable phenomena is in itself another phenomenon. It is simply incomprehensible, unless we admit the possibility of another psychological disease, as mysterious and contagious as hydrophobia. Although we claim no honor for this new discovery, we nevertheless propose to recognize it under the name of scientific psychophobia.

[Pg 47]

They ought to have learned by this time, in the school of bitter experience, that they can rely on the self-sufficiency of the positive sciences only to a certain point; and that, so long as there remains one single unexplained mystery in nature, the word ”impossible” is a dangerous word for them to pronounce.

In the Researches on the Phenomena of Spiritualism, Mr. Crookes submits to the option of the reader eight theories “to account for the phenomena observed.”

These theories run as follows:

First Theory.—The phenomena are all the result of tricks, clever mechanical arrangements, or legerdemain; the mediums are impostors, and the rest of the company fools.

Second Theory.—The persons at a seance are the victims of a sort of mania, or delusion, and imagine phenomena to occur which have no real objective existence.

Third Theory.—The whole is the result of conscious or unconscious cerebral action.

Fourth Theory.—The result of the spirit of the medium, perhaps in association with the spirits of some or all of the people present.

Fifth Theory.—The actions of evil spirits, or devils, personifying whom or what they please, in order to undermine Christianity, and ruin men’s souls. (Theory of our theologians.)

Sixth Theory.—The actions of a separate order of beings living on this earth, but invisible and immaterial to us. Able, however, occasionally to manifest their presence, known in almost all countries and ages as demons (not necessarily bad), gnomes, fairies, kobolds, elves, goblins, Puck, etc. (One of the claims of the kabalists.)

Seventh Theory.—The actions of departed human beings. (The spiritual theory par excellence.)

Eighth Theory.—(The psychic force) ... an adjunct to the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh theories.“

The first of these theories having been proved valid only in exceptional, though unfortunately still too frequent cases, must be ruled out as having no material bearing upon the phenomena themselves. Theories the second and the third are the last crumbling entrenchments of the guerilla of skeptics and materialists, and remain, as lawyers say, ”Adhuc sub judice lis est.” Thus, we can deal in this work but with the four remaining ones, the last, eighth, theory being according to Mr. Crookes’s opinion, but “a necessary adjunct” of the others.

How subject even a scientific opinion is to error, we may see, if we only compare the several articles on spiritual phenomena from the able[Pg 48] pen of that gentleman, which appeared from 1870 to 1875. In one of the first we read: ... “the increased employment of scientific methods will promote exact observations and greater love of truths among inquirers, and will produce a race of observers who will drive the worthless residuum of spiritualism hence into the unknown limbo of magic and necromancy.” And in 1875, we read, over his own signature, minute and most interesting descriptions of the materialized spirit—Katie King![113]

It is hardly possible to suppose that Mr. Crookes could be under electro-biological influence or hallucination for two or three consecutive years. The “spirit” appeared in his own house, in his library, under the most crucial tests, and was seen, felt, and heard by hundreds of persons.

But Mr. Crookes denies that he ever took Katie King for a disembodied spirit. What was it then? If it was not Miss Florence Cook, and his word is our sufficient guarantee for it—then it was either the spirit of one who had lived on earth, or one of those that come directly under the sixth theory of the eight the eminent scientist offers to the public choice. It must have been one of the classes named: “Fairies, Kobolds, Gnomes, Elves, Goblins, or a Puck.”[114]

Yes; Katie King must have been a fairy—a Titania. For to a fairy only could be applied with propriety the following poetic effusion which Mr. Crookes quotes in describing this wonderful spirit:

“Round her she made an atmosphere of life;
The very air seemed lighter from her eyes;
They were so soft and beautiful and rife
With all we can imagine of the skies;
Her overpowering presence makes you feel
It would not be idolatry to kneel!”[115]

And thus, after having written, in 1870, his severe sentence against spiritualism and magic; after saying that even at that moment he believed “the whole affair a superstition, or, at least, an unexplained trick—a delusion of the senses;”[116] Mr. Crookes, in 1875, closes his letter with the following memorable words:—“To imagine, I say, the Katie King of the last three years to be the result of imposture does more violence to one’s reason and common sense than to believe her to be what she herself affirms.”[117] This last remark, moreover, conclusively proves that: 1.[Pg 49] Notwithstanding Mr. Crookes’s full convictions that the somebody calling herself Katie King was neither the medium nor some confederate, but on the contrary an unknown force in nature, which—like love—“laughs at locksmiths;” 2. That that hitherto unrecognized form of Force, albeit it had become with him “not a matter of opinion, but of absolute knowledge,“the eminent investigator still did not abandon to the last his skeptical attitude toward the question. In short, he firmly believes in the phenomenon, but cannot accept the idea of its being the human spirit of a departed somebody.

It seems to us, that, as far as public prejudice goes, Mr. Crookes solves one mystery by creating a still deeper one: the obscurum per obscurius. In other words, rejecting “the worthless residuum of spiritualism,” the courageous scientist fearlessly plunges into his own “unknown limbo of magic and necromancy!”

The recognized laws of physical science account for but a few of the more objective of the so-called spiritual phenomena. While proving the reality of certain visible effects of an unknown force, they have not thus far enabled scientists to control at will even this portion of the phenomena. The truth is that the professors have not yet discovered the necessary conditions of their occurrence. They must go as deeply into the study of the triple nature of man—physiological, psychological, and divine—as did their predecessors, the magicians, theurgists, and thaumaturgists of old. Until the present moment, even those who have investigated the phenomena as thoroughly and impartially as Mr. Crookes, have set aside the cause as something not to be discovered now, if ever. They have troubled themselves no more about that than about the first cause of the cosmic phenomena of the correlation of forces, whose endless effects they are at such pains to observe and classify. Their course has been as unwise as that of a man who should attempt to discover the sources of a river by exploring toward its mouth. It has so narrowed their views of the possibilities of natural law that very simple forms of occult phenomena have necessitated their denial that they can occur unless miracles were possible; and this being a scientific absurdity the result has been that physical science has latterly been losing prestige. If scientists had studied the so-called “miracles” instead of denying them, many secret laws of nature comprehended by the ancients would have been again discovered. “Conviction,” says Bacon, “comes not through arguments but through experiments.”

The ancients were always distinguished—especially the Chaldean astrologers and Magians—for their ardent love and pursuit of knowledge in every branch of science. They tried to penetrate the secrets of[Pg 50] nature in the same way as our modern naturalists, and by the only method by which this object can be obtained, namely: by experimental researches and reason. If our modern philosophers cannot apprehend the fact that they penetrated deeper than themselves into the mysteries of the universe, this does not constitute a valid reason why the credit of possessing this knowledge should be denied them or the imputation of superstition laid at their door. Nothing warrants the charge; and every new archæological discovery militates against the assumption. As chemists they were unequalled, and in his famous lecture on The Lost Arts, Wendell Phillips says: “The chemistry of the most ancient period had reached a point which we have never even approached.” The secret of the malleable glass, which, “if supported by one end by its own weight, in twenty hours dwindles down to a fine line that you can curve around your wrist,” would be as difficult to rediscover in our civilized countries as to fly to the moon.

The fabrication of a cup of glass which was brought by an exile to Rome in the reign of Tiberius,—a cup “which he dashed upon the marble pavement, and it was not crushed nor broken by the fall,” and which, as it got “dented some” was easily brought into shape again with a hammer, is a historic fact. If it is doubted now it is merely because the moderns cannot do the same. And yet, in Samarkand and some monasteries of Thibet such cups and glassware may be found to this day; nay, there are persons who claim that they can make the same by virtue of their knowledge of the much-ridiculed and ever-doubted alkahest—the universal solvent. This agent that Paracelsus and Van Helmont maintain to be a certain fluid in nature, “capable of reducing all sublunary bodies, as well homogeneous as mixed, into their ens primum, or the original matter of which they are composed; or into an uniform, equable, and potable liquor, that will unite with water, and the juices of all bodies, and yet retain its own radical virtues; and, if again mixed with itself will thereby be converted into pure elementary water: “what impossibilities prevent our crediting the statement? Why should it not exist and why the idea be considered Utopian? Is it again because our modern chemists are unable to produce it? But surely it may be conceived without any great effort of imagination that all bodies must have originally come from some first matter, and that this matter, according to the lessons of astronomy, geology and physics, must have been a fluid. Why should not gold—of whose genesis our scientists know so little—have been originally a primitive or basic matter of gold, a ponderous fluid which, as says Van Helmont, “from its own nature or a strong cohesion between its particles, acquired afterward a solid form?”[Pg 51] There seems to be very little absurdity to believe in a “universal ens that resolves all bodies into their ens genitale.” Van Helmont calls it “the highest and most successful of all salts; which having obtained the supreme degree of simplicity, purity, subtilty, enjoys alone the faculty of remaining unchanged and unimpaired by the subjects it works upon, and of dissolving the most stubborn and untractable bodies; as stones, gems, glass, earth, sulphur, metals, etc., into red salt, equal in weight to the matter dissolved; and this with as much ease as hot water melts down snow.”

It is into this fluid that the makers of malleable glass claimed, and now claim, that they immersed common glass for several hours, to acquire the property of malleability.

We have a ready and palpable proof of such possibilities. A foreign correspondent of the Theosophical Society, a well-known medical practitioner, and one who has studied the occult sciences for upward of thirty years, has succeeded in obtaining what he terms the “true oil of gold,” i.e., the primal element. Chemists and physicists have seen and examined it, and were driven to confess that they neither knew how it was obtained nor could they do the same. That he desires his name to remain unknown is not to be wondered at; ridicule and public prejudice are more dangerous sometimes than the inquisition of old. This “Adamic earth” is next-door neighbor to the alkahest, and one of the most important secrets of the alchemists. No Kabalist will reveal it to the world, for, as he expresses it in the well-known jargon: “it would explain the eagles of the alchemists, and how the eagles’ wings are clipped,” a secret that it took Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes) twenty years to learn.

As the dawn of physical science broke into a glaring daylight, the spiritual sciences merged deeper and deeper into night, and in their turn they were denied. So, now, these greatest masters in psychology are looked upon as “ignorant and superstitious ancestors;” as mountebanks and jugglers, because, forsooth, the sun of modern learning shines to-day so bright, it has become an axiom that the philosophers and men of science of the olden time knew nothing, and lived in a night of superstition. But their traducers forget that the sun of to-day will seem dark by comparison with the luminary of to-morrow, whether justly or not; and as the men of our century think their ancestors ignorant, so will perhaps their descendants count them for know-nothings. The world moves in cycles. The coming races will be but the reproductions of races long bygone; as we, perhaps, are the images of those who lived a hundred centuries ago. The time will come when those who now in public slander[Pg 52] the hermetists, but ponder in secret their dust-covered volumes; who plagiarize their ideas, assimilate and give them out as their own—will receive their dues. “Who,” honestly exclaims Pfaff—“what man has ever taken more comprehensive views of nature than Paracelsus? He was the bold creator of chemical medicines; the founder of courageous parties; victorious in controversy, belonging to those spirits who have created amongst us a new mode of thinking on the natural existence of things. What he scattered through his writings on the philosopher’s stone, on pigmies and spirits of the mines; on signs, on homunculi, and the elixir of life, and which are employed by many to lower his estimation, cannot extinguish our grateful remembrance of his general works, nor our admiration of his free, bold exertions, and his noble, intellectual life.”[118]

More than one pathologist, chemist, homoeopathist, and magnetist has quenched his thirst for knowledge in the books of Paracelsus. Frederick Hufeland got his theoretical doctrines on infection from this mediæval “quack,” as Sprengel delights in calling one who was immeasurably higher than himself. Hemman, who endeavors to vindicate this great philosopher, and nobly tries to redress his slandered memory, speaks of him as the “greatest chemist of his time.”[119] So do Professor Molitor,[120] and Dr. Ennemoser, the eminent German psychologist.[121] According to their criticisms on the labors of this Hermetist, Paracelsus is the most “wondrous intellect of his age,” a “noble genius.” But our modern lights assume to know better, and the ideas of the Rosicrucians about the elementary spirits, the goblins and the elves, have sunk into the “limbo of magic” and fairy tales for early childhood.[122]

We are quite ready to concede to skeptics that one-half, and even more, of seeming phenomena, are but more or less clever fraud. Recent exposures, especially of “materializing” mediums, but too well prove the fact. Unquestionably numerous others are still in store, and this will[Pg 53] continue until tests have become so perfect and spiritualists so reasonable as no longer to furnish opportunity to mediums or weapons to adversaries.

What should sensible spiritualists think of the character of angel guides, who after monopolizing, perhaps for years, a poor medium’s time, health and means, suddenly abandon him when he most needs their help? None but creatures without soul or conscience would be guilty of such injustice. Conditions?—Mere sophistry. What sort of spirits must they be who would not summon if necessary an army of spirit-friends (if such there be) to snatch the innocent medium from the pit dug for his feet? Such things happened in the olden time, such may happen now. There were apparitions before modern spiritualism, and phenomena like ours in every previous age. If modern manifestations are a reality and palpable facts, so must have been the so-called “miracles” and thaumaturgic exploits of old; or if the latter are but fictions of superstition so must be the former, for they rest on no better testimony.

But, in this daily-increasing torrent of occult phenomena that rushes from one end of the globe to the other, though two-thirds of the manifestations are proved spurious, what of those which are proved genuine beyond doubt or cavil? Among these may be found communications coming through non-professional as well as professional mediums, which are sublime and divinely grand. Often, through young children, and simple-minded ignorant persons, we receive philosophical teachings and precepts, poetry and inspirational orations, music and paintings that are fully worthy of the reputations of their alleged authors. Their prophecies are often verified and their moral disquisitions beneficent, though the latter is of rarer occurrence. Who are those spirits, what those powers or intelligences which are evidently outside of the medium proper and entities per se? These intelligences deserve the appellation; and they differ as widely from the generality of spooks and goblins that hover around the cabinets for physical manifestations, as day from night.

We must confess that the situation appears to be very grave. The control of mediums by such unprincipled and lying “spirits” is constantly becoming more and more general; and the pernicious effects of seeming diabolism constantly multiply. Some of the best mediums are abandoning the public rostrum and retiring from this influence; and the movement is drifting churchward. We venture the prediction that unless spiritualists set about the study, of ancient philosophy so as to learn to discriminate between spirits and to guard themselves against the baser sort, twenty-five years more will not elapse before they will have to fly to the Romish communion to escape these “guides” and “controls” that they have fondled so long. The signs of this catastrophe already exhibit[Pg 54] themselves. At a recent convention at Philadelphia, it was seriously proposed to organize a sect of Christian Spiritualists! This is because, having withdrawn from the church and learned nothing of the philosophy of the phenomena, or the nature of their spirits, they are drifting about on a sea of uncertainty like a ship without compass or rudder. They cannot escape the dilemma; they must choose between Porphyry and Pio Nono.

While men of genuine science, such as Wallace, Crookes, Wagner, Butlerof, Varley, Buchanan, Hare, Reichenbach, Thury, Perty, de Morgan, Hoffmann, Goldschmidt, W. Gregory, Flammarion, Sergeant Cox and many others, firmly believe in the current phenomena, many of the above named reject the theory of departed spirits. Therefore, it seems but logical to think that if the London “Katie King,” the only materialized something which the public is obliged more or less to credit out of respect to science,—is not the spirit of an ex-mortal, then it must be the astral solidified shadow of either one of the Rosicrucian spooks—“fantasies of superstition” or of some as yet unexplained force in nature. Be it however a “spirit of health or goblin damn’d” it is of little consequence; for if it be once proved that its organism is not solid matter, then it must be and is a “spirit,” an apparition, a breath. It is an intelligence which acts outside our organisms and therefore must belong to some existing even though unseen race of beings. But what is it? What is this something which thinks and even speaks but yet is not human; that is impalpable and yet not a disembodied spirit; that simulates affection, passion, remorse, fear, joy, but yet feels neither? What is this canting creature which rejoices in cheating the truthful inquirer and mocking at sacred human feeling? For, if not Mr. Crookes’s Katie King, other similar creatures have done all these. Who can fathom the mystery? The true psychologist alone. And where should he go for his text-books but to the neglected alcoves of libraries where the works of despised hermetists and theurgists have been gathering dust these many years.

Says Henry More, the revered English Platonist, in his answer to an attack on the believers of spiritual and magic phenomena by a skeptic of that age, named Webster:[123] “As for that other opinion, that the[Pg 55] greater part of the reformed divines hold, that it was the Devil that appeared in Samuel’s shape, it is beneath contempt; for though I do not doubt but that in many of these necromantic apparitions, they are ludicrous spirits, not the souls of the deceased that appear, yet I am clear for the appearing of the soul of Samuel, and as clear that in other necromancies, it may be such kinds of spirits, as Porphyrius above describes, ‘that change themselves into omnifarious forms and shapes, and one while act the parts of dæmons, another while of angels or gods, and another while of the souls of the departed.’ And I confess such a spirit as this might personate Samuel here, for anything Webster alleged to the contrary, for his arguments indeed are wonderfully weak and wooden.”

When such a metaphysician and philosopher as Henry More gives such testimony as this, we may well assume our point to have been well taken. Learned investigators, all very skeptical as to spirits in general and “departed human spirits” in particular, during the last twenty years have taxed their brains to invent new names for an old thing. Thus, with Mr. Crookes and Sergeant Cox, it is the “psychic force.” Professor Thury of Geneva calls it the “psychode” or ectenic force; Professor Balfour Stewart, the “electro-biological power;” Faraday, the “great master of experimental philosophy in physics,” but apparently a novice in psychology, superciliously termed it an “unconscious muscular action,” an “unconscious cerebration,” and what not? Sir William Hamilton, a “latent thought;” Dr. Carpenter, “the ideo-motor principle,” etc., etc. So many scientists—so many names.

Years ago the old German philosopher, Schopenhauer, disposed of this force and matter at the same time; and since the conversion of Mr. Wallace, the great anthropologist has evidently adopted his ideas. Schopenhauer’s doctrine is that the universe is but the manifestation of the will. Every force in nature is also an effect of will, representing a higher or lower degree of its objectiveness. It is the teaching of Plato, who stated distinctly that everything visible was created or evolved out of the invisible and eternal WILL, and after its fashion. Our Heaven—he says—was produced according to the eternal pattern of the “Ideal World,” contained, as everything else, in the dodecahedron, the geometrical model used by the Deity.[124] With Plato, the Primal Being is an emanation of the Demiurgic Mind (Nous), which contains from the eternity the “idea” of the “to be created world” within itself, and which idea he produces out of himself.[125] The laws of nature are the established relations of this idea to the forms of its manifestations; “these[Pg 56] forms,” says Schopenhauer, “are time, space, and causality. Through time and space the idea varies in its numberless manifestations.”

These ideas are far from being new, and even with Plato they were not original. This is what we read in the Chaldean Oracles:[126] “The works of nature co-exist with the intellectual [νοέρῳ], spiritual Light of the Father. For it is the soul [ψυχη] which adorned the great heaven, and which adorns it after the Father.”

“The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason,” says Philo,[127] who is erroneously accused of deriving his philosophy from Plato’s.

In the Theogony of Mochus, we find Æther first, and then the air; the two principles from which Ulom, the intelligible [νοήτος] God (the visible universe of matter) is born.[128]

In the Orphic hymns, the Eros-Phanes evolves from the Spiritual Egg, which the Æthereal winds impregnate, Wind[129] being “the spirit of God,” who is said to move in Æther, “brooding over the Chaos” the Divine “Idea.” In the Hindu Katakopanisâd, Purusha, the Divine Spirit, already stands before the original matter, from whose union springs the great Soul of the World, “Maha=Atma, Brahm, the Spirit of Life;”[130] these latter appellations are identical with the Universal Soul, or Anima Mundi, and the Astral Light of the theurgists and kabalists.

Pythagoras brought his doctrines from the eastern sanctuaries, and Plato compiled them into a form more intelligible than the mysterious numerals of the sage—whose doctrines he had fully embraced—to the uninitiated mind. Thus, the Cosmos is “the Son” with Plato, having for his father and mother the Divine Thought and Matter.[131]

“The Egyptians,” says Dunlap,[132] “distinguish between an older and younger Horus, the former the brother of Osiris, the latter the son of Osiris and Isis.” The first is the Idea of the world remaining in the Demiurgic Mind, “born in darkness before the creation of the world.” The second Horus is this “Idea” going forth from the Logos, becoming clothed with matter, and assuming an actual existence.[133]

“The mundane God, eternal, boundless, young and old, of winding form,”[134] say the Chaldean oracles.

This “winding form” is a figure to express the vibratory motion of the Astral Light, with which the ancient priests were perfectly well[Pg 57] acquainted, though they may have differed in views of ether, with modern scientists; for in the Æther they placed the Eternal Idea pervading the Universe, or the Will which becomes Force, and creates or organizes matter.

“The will,” says Van Helmont, “is the first of all powers. For through the will of the Creator all things were made and put in motion.... The will is the property of all spiritual beings, and displays itself in them the more actively the more they are freed from matter.” And Paracelsus, “the divine,” as he was called, adds in the same strain: “Faith must confirm the imagination, for faith establishes the will.... Determined will is a beginning of all magical operations.... Because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, is that the arts are uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain.”

The opposing power alone of unbelief and skepticism, if projected in a current of equal force, can check the other, and sometimes completely neutralize it. Why should spiritualists wonder that the presence of some strong skeptics, or of those who, feeling bitterly opposed to the phenomenon, unconsciously exercise their will-power in opposition, hinders and often stops altogether the manifestations? If there is no conscious power on earth but sometimes finds another to interfere with or even counterbalance it, why wonder when the unconscious, passive power of a medium is suddenly paralyzed in its effects by another opposing one, though it also be as unconsciously exercised? Professors Faraday and Tyndall boasted that their presence at a circle would stop at once every manifestation. This fact alone ought to have proved to the eminent scientists that there was some force in these phenomena worthy to arrest their attention. As a scientist, Prof. Tyndall was perhaps pre-eminent in the circle of those who were present at the seance; as a shrewd observer, one not easily deceived by a tricking medium, he was perhaps no better, if as clever, as others in the room, and if the manifestations were but a fraud so ingenious as to deceive the others, they would not have stopped, even on his account. What medium can ever boast of such phenomena as were produced by Jesus, and the apostle Paul after him? Yet even Jesus met with cases where the unconscious force of resistance overpowered even his so well directed current of will. “And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”

There is a reflection of every one of these views in Schopenhauer’s philosophy. Our “investigating” scientists might consult his works with profit. They will find therein many a strange hypothesis founded on old ideas, speculations on the “new” phenomena, which may prove as reasonable as any, and be saved the useless trouble of inventing new[Pg 58] theories. The psychic and ectenic forces, the “ideo-motor” and “electro-biological powers;” “latent thought” and even “unconscious cerebration” theories, can be condensed in two words: the kabalistic ASTRAL LIGHT.

The bold theories and opinions expressed in Schopenhauer’s works differ widely with those of the majority of our orthodox scientists. “In reality,” remarks this daring speculator, “there is neither matter nor spirit. The tendency to gravitation in a stone is as unexplainable as thought in human brain.... If matter can—no one knows why—fall to the ground, then it can also—no one knows why—think.... As soon, even in mechanics, as we trespass beyond the purely mathematical, as soon as we reach the inscrutable, adhesion, gravitation, and so on, we are faced by phenomena which are to our senses as mysterious as the WILL and THOUGHT in man—we find ourselves facing the incomprehensible, for such is every force in nature. Where is then that matter which you all pretend to know so well; and from which—being so familiar with it—you draw all your conclusions and explanations, and attribute to it all things?... That, which can be fully realized by our reason and senses, is but the superficial: they can never reach the true inner substance of things. Such was the opinion of Kant. If you consider that there is in a human head some sort of a spirit, then you are obliged to concede the same to a stone. If your dead and utterly passive matter can manifest a tendency toward gravitation, or, like electricity, attract and repel, and send out sparks—then, as well as the brain, it can also think. In short, every particle of the so-called spirit, we can replace with an equivalent of matter, and every particle of matter replace with spirit.... Thus, it is not the Cartesian division of all things into matter and spirit that can ever be found philosophically exact; but only if we divide them into will and manifestation, which form of division has naught to do with the former, for it spiritualizes every thing: all that, which is in the first instance real and objective—body and matter—it transforms into a representation, and every manifestation into will.”[135]

These views corroborate what we have expressed about the various names given to the same thing. The disputants are battling about mere words. Call the phenomena force, energy, electricity or magnetism, will, or spirit-power, it will ever be the partial manifestation of the soul, whether disembodied or imprisoned for a while in its body—of a portion of that intelligent, omnipotent, and individual WILL, pervading all nature, and known, through the insufficiency of human language to express correctly psychological images, as—GOD.

[Pg 59]

The ideas of some of our schoolmen about matter are, from the kabalistic standing-point, in many a way erroneous. Hartmann calls their views “an instinctual prejudice.” Furthermore, he demonstrates that no experimenter can have anything to do with matter properly termed, but only with the forces into which he divides it. The visible effects of matter are but the effects of force. He concludes thereby, that that which is now called matter is nothing but the aggregation of atomic forces, to express which the word matter is used: outside of that, for science matter is but a word void of sense. Notwithstanding many an honest confession on the part of our specialists—physicists, physiologists and chemists—that they know nothing whatever of matter,[136] they deify it. Every new phenomenon which they find themselves unable to explain, is triturated, compounded into incense, and burned on the altar of the goddess who patronizes modern scientists.

No one can better treat his subject than does Schopenhauer in his Parerga. In this work he discusses at length animal magnetism, clairvoyance, sympathetic cures, seership, magic, omens, ghost-seeing, and other spiritual matters. “All these manifestations,” he says, “are branches of one and the same tree, and furnish us with irrefutable proofs of the existence of a chain of beings which is based on quite a different order of things than that nature which has at its foundation laws of space, time and adaptability. This other order of things is far deeper, for it is the original and the direct one; in its presence the common laws of nature, which are simply formal, are unavailing; therefore, under its immediate action neither time nor space can separate any longer the individuals, and the separation impendent on these forms presents no more insurmountable barriers for the intercourse of thoughts and the immediate action of the will. In this manner changes may be wrought by quite a different course than the course of physical causality, i.e., through an action of the manifestation of the will exhibited in a peculiar way and outside the individual himself. Therefore the peculiar character of all the aforesaid manifestations is the visioin distante et actio in distante (vision and action at a distance) in its relation to time as well as in its relation to space. Such an action at a distance is just what constitutes the fundamental character of what is called magical; for such is the immediate action of our will, an action liberated from the causal conditions of physical action, viz., contact.”

“Besides that,” continues Schopenhauer, “these manifestations present to us a substantial and perfectly logical contradiction to materialism, and even to naturalism, because in the light of such manifestations,[Pg 60] that order of things in nature which both these philosophies seek to present as absolute and the only genuine, appears before us on the contrary purely phenomenal and superficial, and containing at the bottom of it a substance of things à parte and perfectly independent of its own laws. That is why these manifestations—at least from a purely philosophical point of view—among all the facts which are presented to us in the domain of experiment, are beyond any comparison the most important. Therefore, it is the duty of every scientist to acquaint himself with them.”[137]

To pass from the philosophical speculations of a man like Schopenhauer to the superficial generalizations of some of the French Academicians, would be profitless but for the fact that it enables us to estimate the intellectual grasp of the two schools of learning. What the German makes of profound psychological questions, we have seen. Compare with it the best that the astronomer Babinet and the chemist Boussingault can offer by way of explaining an important spiritualistic phenomenon. In 1854-5 these distinguished specialists presented to the Academy a memoire, or monograph, whose evident object was to corroborate and at the same time make clearer Dr. Chevreuil’s too complicated theory in explanation of the turning-tables, of the commission for the investigation of which he was a member.

Here it is verbatim: “As to the movements and oscillations alleged to happen with certain tables, they can have no cause other than the invisible and involuntary vibrations of the experimenter’s muscular system; the extended contraction of the muscles manifesting itself at such time by a series of vibrations, and becoming thus a visible tremor which communicates to the object a circumrotary motion. This rotation is thus enabled to manifest itself with a considerable energy, by a gradually quickening motion, or by a strong resistance, whenever it is required to stop. Hence the physical explanation of the phenomenon becomes clear and does not offer the slightest difficulty.”[138]

None whatever. This scientific hypothesis—or demonstration shall we say?—is as clear as one of M. Babinet’s nebulæ examined on a foggy night.

And still, clear as it may be, it lacks an important feature, i.e., common sense. We are at a loss to decide whether or not Babinet accepts en desespoir de cause Hartmann’s proposition that “the visible effects of matter are nothing but the effects of a force,” and, that in order to form a clear conception of matter, one must first form one of force. The philosophy to the school of which belongs Hartmann, and which is[Pg 61] partly accepted by several of the greatest German scientists, teaches that the problem of matter can only be solved by that invisible Force, acquaintance with which Schopenhauer terms the “magical knowledge,” and “magical effect or action of Will.” Thus, we must first ascertain whether the “involuntary vibrations of the experimenter’s muscular system,” which are but “actions of matter,” are influenced by a will within the experimenter or without. In the former case Babinet makes of him an unconscious epileptic; the latter, as we will further see, he rejects altogether, and attributes all intelligent answers of the tipping or rapping tables to “unconscious ventriloquism.”

We know that every exertion of will results in force, and that, according to the above-named German school, the manifestations of atomic forces are individual actions of will, resulting in the unconscious rushing of atoms into the concrete image already subjectively created by the will. Democritus taught, after his instructor Leucippus, that the first principles of all things contained in the universe were atoms and a vacuum. In its kabalistic sense, the vacuum means in this instance the latent Deity, or latent force, which at its first manifestation became WILL, and thus communicated the first impulse to these atoms—whose agglomeration, is matter. This vacuum was but another name for chaos, and an unsatisfactory one, for, according to the Peripatetics “nature abhors a vacuum.”

That before Democritus the ancients were familiar with the idea of the indestructibility of matter is proved by their allegories and numerous other facts. Movers gives a definition of the Phœnician idea of the ideal sunlight as a spiritual influence issuing from the highest God, Iao, “the light conceivable only by intellect—the physical and spiritual Principle of all things; out of which the soul emanates.” It was the male Essence, or Wisdom, while the primitive matter or Chaos was the female. Thus the two first principles—co-eternal and infinite, were already with the primitive Phœnicians, spirit and matter. Therefore the theory is as old as the world; for Democritus was not the first philosopher who taught it; and intuition existed in man before the ultimate development of his reason. But it is in the denial of the boundless and endless Entity, possessor of that invisible Will which we for lack of a better term call God, that lies the powerlessness of every materialistic science to explain the occult phenomena. It is in the rejection a priori of everything which might force them to cross the boundary of exact science and step into the domain of psychological, or, if we prefer, metaphysical physiology, that we find the secret cause of their discomfiture by the manifestations, and their absurd theories to account for them. The ancient philosophy affirmed that it is in consequence of the manifestation of that Will—termed by Plato the Divine Idea—that everything visible and invisible[Pg 62] sprung into existence. As that Intelligent Idea, which, by directing its sole will-power toward a centre of localized forces called objective forms into being, so can man, the microcosm of the great Macrocosm, do the same in proportion with the development of his will-power. The imaginary atoms—a figure of speech employed by Democritus, and gratefully seized upon by the materialists—are like automatic workmen moved inwardly by the influx of that Universal Will directed upon them, and which, manifesting itself as force, sets them into activity. The plan of the structure to be erected is in the brain of the Architect, and reflects his will; abstract as yet, from the instant of the conception it becomes concrete through these atoms which follow faithfully every line, point and figure traced in the imagination of the Divine Geometer.

As God creates, so man can create. Given a certain intensity of will, and the shapes created by the mind become subjective. Hallucinations, they are called, although to their creator they are real as any visible object is to any one else. Given a more intense and intelligent concentration of this will, and the form becomes concrete, visible, objective; the man has learned the secret of secrets; he is a MAGICIAN.

The materialist should not object to this logic, for he regards thought as matter. Conceding it to be so, the cunning mechanism contrived by the inventor; the fairy scenes born in the poet’s brain; the gorgeous painting limned by the artist’s fancy; the peerless statue chiselled in ether by the sculptor; the palaces and castles built in air by the architect—all these, though invisible and subjective, must exist, for they are matter, shaped and moulded. Who shall say, then, that there are not some men of such imperial will as to be able to drag these air-drawn fancies into view, enveloped in the hard casing of gross substance to make them tangible?

If the French scientists reaped no laurels in the new field of investigation, what more was done in England, until the day when Mr. Crookes offered himself in atonement for the sins of the learned body? Why, Mr. Faraday, some twenty years ago, actually condescended to be spoken to once or twice upon the subject. Faraday, whose name is pronounced by the anti-spiritualists in every discussion upon the phenomena, as a sort of scientific charm against the evil-eye of Spiritualism, Faraday, who “blushed” for having published his researches upon such a degrading belief, is now proved on good authority to have never sat at a tipping table himself at all! We have but to open a few stray numbers of the Journal des Debats, published while a noted Scotch medium was in England, to recall the past events in all their primitive freshness. In one of these numbers, Dr. Foucault, of Paris, comes out as a champion for the eminent English experimenter. “Pray, do not imagine,” says he,[Pg 63] “that the grand physicist had ever himself condescended so far as to sit prosaically at a jumping table.” Whence, then, came the “blushes” which suffused the cheeks of the “Father of Experimental Philosophy?” Remembering this fact, we will now examine the nature of Faraday’s beautiful “Indicator,” the extraordinary “Medium-Catcher,” invented by him for the detection of mediumistic fraud. That complicated machine, the memory of which haunts like a nightmare the dreams of dishonest mediums, is carefully described in Comte de Mirville’s Question des Esprits.

The better to prove to the experimenters the reality of their own impulsion, Professor Faraday placed several card-board disks, united to each other and stuck to the table by a half-soft glue, which, making the whole adhere for a time together, would, nevertheless, yield to a continuous pressure. Now, the table having turned—yes, actually having dared to turn before Mr. Faraday, which fact is of some value, at least—the disks were examined; and, as they were found to have gradually displaced themselves by slipping in the same direction as the table, it thus became an unquestionable proof that the experimenters had pushed the tables themselves.

Another of the so called scientific tests, so useful in a phenomenon alleged to be either spiritual or psychical, consisted of a small instrument which immediately warned the witnesses of the slightest personal impulsion on their part, or rather, according to Mr. Faraday’s own expression, “it warned them when they changed from the passive to the active state.” This needle which betrayed the active motion proved but one thing, viz.: the action of a force which either emanated from the sitters or controlled them. And who has ever said that there is no such force? Every one admits so much, whether this force passes through the operator, as it is generally shown, or acts independently of him, as is so often the case. “The whole mystery consisted in the disproportion of the force employed by the operators, who pushed because they were forced to push, with certain effects of rotation, or rather, of a really marvellous race. In the presence of such prodigious effects, how could any one imagine that the Lilliputian experiments of that kind could have any value in this newly discovered Land of Giants?”[139]

Professor Agassiz, who occupied in America nearly the same eminent position as a scientist which Mr. Faraday did in England, acted with a still greater unfairness. Professor J. R. Buchanan, the distinguished anthropologist, who has treated Spiritualism in some respects more scientifically than any one else in America, speaks of Agassiz, in a recent article, with[Pg 64] a very just indignation. For, of all other men, Professor Agassiz ought to believe in a phenomenon to which he had been a subject himself. But now that both Faraday and Agassiz are themselves disembodied, we can do better by questioning the living than the dead.

Thus a force whose secret powers were thoroughly familiar to the ancient theurgists, is denied by modern skeptics. The antediluvian children—who perhaps played with it, using it as the boys in Bulwer-Lytton’s Coming Race, use the tremendous “vril” called it the “Water of Phtha;” their descendants named it the Anima Mundi, the soul of the universe; and still later the mediæval hermetists termed it “sidereal light,” or the “Milk of the Celestial Virgin,” the “Magnes,” and many other names. But our modern learned men will neither accept nor recognize it under such appellations; for it pertains to magic, and magic is, in their conception, a disgraceful superstition.

Apollonius and Iamblichus held that it was not “in the knowledge of things without, but in the perfection of the soul within, that lies the empire of man, aspiring to be more than men.”[140] Thus they had arrived at a perfect cognizance of their godlike souls, the powers of which they used with all the wisdom, outgrowth of esoteric study of the hermetic lore, inherited by them from their forefathers. But our philosophers, tightly shutting themselves up in their shells of flesh, cannot or dare not carry their timid gaze beyond the comprehensible. For them there is no future life; there are no godlike dreams, they scorn them as unscientific; for them the men of old are but “ignorant ancestors,” as they express it; and whenever they meet during their physiological researches with an author who believes that this mysterious yearning after spiritual knowledge is inherent in every human being, and cannot have been given us utterly in vain, they regard him with contemptuous pity.

Says a Persian proverb: “The darker the sky is, the brighter the stars will shine.” Thus, on the dark firmament of the mediæval ages began appearing the mysterious Brothers of the Rosie Cross. They formed no associations, they built no colleges; for, hunted up and down like so many wild beasts, when caught by the Christian Church, they were unceremoniously roasted. “As religion forbids it,” says Bayle, “to spill blood,” therefore, “to elude the maxim, Ecclesia non novit sanguinem, they burned human beings, as burning a man does not shed his blood!”

Many of these mystics, by following what they were taught by some treatises, secretly preserved from one generation to another, achieved discoveries which would not be despised even in our modern days of exact sciences. Roger Bacon, the friar, was laughed at as a quack, and[Pg 65] is now generally numbered among “pretenders” to magic art; but his discoveries were nevertheless accepted, and are now used by those who ridicule him the most. Roger Bacon belonged by right if not by fact to that Brotherhood which includes all those who study the occult sciences. Living in the thirteenth century, almost a contemporary, therefore, of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, his discoveries—such as gunpowder and optical glasses, and his mechanical achievements—were considered by every one as so many miracles. He was accused of having made a compact with the Evil One.

In the legendary history of Friar Bacon, as “well as in an old play written by Robert Green, a dramatist in the days of Queen Elizabeth, it is recounted, that, having been summoned before the king, the friar was induced to show” some of his skill before her majesty the queen. So he waved his hand (his wand, says the text), and “presently was heard such excellent music, that they all said they had never heard the like.” Then there was heard a still louder music and four apparitions suddenly presented themselves and danced until they vanished and disappeared in the air. Then he waved his wand again, and suddenly there was such a smell “as if all the rich perfumes in the whole world had been there prepared in the best manner that art could set them out.” Then Roger Bacon having promised a gentleman to show him his sweetheart, he pulled a hanging in the king’s apartment aside and every one in the room saw “a kitchen-maid with a basting-ladle in her hand.” The proud gentleman, although he recognized the maiden who disappeared as suddenly as she had appeared, was enraged at the humiliating spectacle, and threatened the friar with his revenge. What does the magician do? He simply answers: “Threaten not, lest I do you more shame; and do you take heed how you give scholars the lie again!”

As a commentary on this, the modern historian[141] remarks: “This may be taken as a sort of exemplification of the class of exhibitions which were probably the result of a superior knowledge of natural sciences.” No one ever doubted that it was the result of precisely such a knowledge, and the hermetists, magicians, astrologers and alchemists never claimed anything else. It certainly was not their fault that the ignorant masses, under the influence of an unscrupulous and fanatical clergy, should have attributed all such works to the agency of the devil. In view of the atrocious tortures provided by the Inquisition for all suspected of either black or white magic, it is not strange that these philosophers neither boasted nor even acknowledged the fact of such an intercourse. On the contrary, their own writings prove that they held that magic is “no more than the[Pg 66] application of natural active causes to passive things or subjects; by means thereof, many tremendously surprising but yet natural effects are produced.”

The phenomena of the mystic odors and music, exhibited by Roger Bacon, have been often observed in our own time. To say nothing of our personal experience, we are informed by English correspondents of the Theosophical Society that they have heard strains of the most ravishing music, coming from no visible instrument, and inhaled a succession of delightful odors produced, as they believed, by spirit-agency. One correspondent tells us that so powerful was one of these familiar odors—that of sandal-wood—that the house would be impregnated with it for weeks after the seance. The medium in this case was a member of a private family, and the experiments were all made within the domestic circle. Another describes what he calls a “musical rap.” The potencies that are now capable of producing these phenomena must have existed and been equally efficacious in the days of Roger Bacon. As to the apparitions, it suffices to say that they are evoked now in spiritualistic circles, and guarantied by scientists, and their evocation by Roger Bacon is thus made more probable than ever.

Baptista Porta, in his treatise on Natural Magic, enumerates a whole catalogue of secret formulæ for producing extraordinary effects by employing the occult powers of nature. Although the “magicians” believed as firmly as our spiritualists in a world of invisible spirits, none of them claimed to produce his effects under their control or through their sole help. They knew too well how difficult it is to keep away the elementary creatures when they have once found the door wide open. Even the magic of the ancient Chaldeans was but a profound knowledge of the powers of simples and minerals. It was only when the theurgist desired divine help in spiritual and earthly matters that he sought direct communication through religious rites, with pure spiritual beings. With them, even, those spirits who remain invisible and communicate with mortals through their awakened inner senses, as in clairvoyance, clairaudience and trance, could only be evoked subjectively and as a result of purity of life and prayer. But all physical phenomena were produced simply by applying a knowledge of natural forces, although certainly not by the method of legerdemain, practiced in our days by conjurers.

Men possessed of such knowledge and exercising such powers patiently toiled for something better than the vain glory of a passing fame. Seeking it not, they became immortal, as do all who labor for the good of the race, forgetful of mean self. Illuminated with the light of eternal truth, these rich-poor alchemists fixed their attention upon the things that lie beyond the common ken, recognizing nothing inscrutable but the First[Pg 67] Cause, and finding no question unsolvable. To dare, to know, to will, and REMAIN SILENT, was their constant rule; to be beneficent, unselfish, and unpretending, were, with them, spontaneous impulses. Disdaining the rewards of petty traffic, spurning wealth, luxury, pomp, and worldly power, they aspired to knowledge as the most satisfying of all acquisitions. They esteemed poverty, hunger, toil, and the evil report of men, as none too great a price to pay for its achievement. They, who might have lain on downy, velvet-covered beds, suffered themselves to die in hospitals and by the wayside, rather than debase their souls and allow the profane cupidity of those who tempted them to triumph over their sacred vows. The lives of Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, and Philalethes are too well known to repeat the old, sad story.

If spiritualists are anxious to keep strictly dogmatic in their notions of the “spirit-world,” they must not set scientists to investigate their phenomena in the true experimental spirit. The attempt would most surely result in a partial re-discovery of the magic of old—that of Moses and Paracelsus. Under the deceptive beauty of some of their apparitions, they might find some day the sylphs and fair Undines of the Rosicrucians playing in the currents of psychic and odic force.

Already Mr. Crookes, who fully credits the being, feels that under the fair skin of Katie, covering a simulacrum of heart borrowed partially from the medium and the circle, there is no soul! And the learned authors of The Unseen Universe, abandoning their “electro-biological” theory, begin to perceive in the universal ether the possibility that it is a photographic album of En-Soph—the Boundless.

We are far from believing that all the spirits that communicate at circles are of the classes called “Elemental,” and “Elementary.” Many—especially among those who control the medium subjectively to speak, write, and otherwise act in various ways—are human, disembodied spirits. Whether the majority of such spirits are good or bad, largely depends on the private morality of the medium, much on the circle present, and a great deal on the intensity and object of their purpose. If this object is merely to gratify curiosity and to pass the time, it is useless to expect anything serious. But, in any case, human spirits can never materialize themselves in propria personâ. These can never appear to the investigator clothed with warm, solid flesh, sweating hands and faces, and grossly-material bodies. The most they can do is to project their æthereal reflection on the atmospheric waves, and if the touch of their hands and clothing can become upon rare occasions objective to the senses of a living mortal, it will be felt as a passing breeze gently sweeping over the touched spot, not as a human hand or material body. It is useless to plead that the “materialized spirits” that have exhibited themselves with[Pg 68] beating hearts and loud voices (with or without a trumpet) are human spirits. The voices—if such sound can be termed a voice at all—of a spiritual apparition once heard can hardly be forgotten. That of a pure spirit is like the tremulous murmur of an Æolian harp echoed from a distance; the voice of a suffering, hence impure, if not utterly bad spirit, may be assimilated to a human voice issuing from an empty barrel.

This is not our philosophy, but that of the numberless generations of theurgists and magicians, and based upon their practical experience. The testimony of antiquity is positive on this subject: “Δαιμονιῶν φωναὶ ἄναρθροι εἰσί....”[142] The voices of spirits are not articulated. The spirit-voice consists of a series of sounds which conveys the impression of a column of compressed air ascending from beneath upward, and spreading around the living interlocutor. The many eye-witnesses who testified in the case of Elizabeth Eslinger, namely:[143] the deputy-governor of the prison of Weinsberg, Mayer, Eckhart, Theurer, and Knorr (sworn evidence), Düttenhöfer, and Kapff, the mathematician, testified that they saw the apparition like a pillar of clouds. For the space of eleven weeks, Doctor Kerner and his sons, several Lutheran ministers, the advocate Fraas, the engraver Düttenhöfer, two physicians, Siefer and Sicherer, the judge Heyd, and the Baron von Hugel, with many others, followed this manifestation daily. During the time it lasted, the prisoner Elizabeth prayed with a loud voice uninterruptedly; therefore, as the “spirit” was talking at the same time, it could be no ventriloquism; and that voice, they say,“had nothing human in it; no one could imitate its sounds.”

Further on we will give abundant proofs from ancient authors concerning this neglected truism. We will now only again assert that no spirit claimed by the spiritualists to be human was ever proved to be such on sufficient testimony. The influence of the disembodied ones can be felt, and communicated subjectively by them to sensitives. They can produce objective manifestations, but they cannot produce themselves otherwise than as described above. They can control the body of a medium, and express their desires and ideas in various modes well known to spiritualists; but not materialize what is matterless and purely spiritual—their divine essence. Thus every so-called “materialization” when genuine—is either produced (perhaps) by the will of that spirit whom the “appearance” is claimed to be but can only personate at best, or by the elementary goblins themselves, which are generally too stupid to deserve the honor of being called devils. Upon rare occasions the spirits are able to subdue and control these soulless beings, which are ever ready to[Pg 69] assume pompous names if left to themselves, in such a way that the mischievous spirit “of the air,” shaped in the real image of the human spirit, will be moved by the latter like a marionette, and unable to either act or utter other words than those imposed on him by the “immortal soul.” But this requires many conditions generally unknown to the circles of even spiritualists most in the habit of regularly attending seances. Not every one can attract human spirits who likes. One of the most powerful attractions of our departed ones is their strong affection for those whom they have left on earth. It draws them irresistibly, by degrees, into the current of the Astral Light vibrating between the person sympathetic to them and the Universal Soul. Another very important condition is harmony, and the magnetic purity of the persons present.

If this philosophy is wrong, if all the “materialized” forms emerging in darkened rooms from still darker cabinets, are spirits of men who once lived upon this earth, why such a difference between them and the ghosts that appear unexpectedly—ex abrupto—without either cabinet or medium? Who ever heard of the apparitions, unrestful “souls,” hovering about the spots where they were murdered, or coming back for some other mysterious reasons of their own, with “warm hands” feeling like living flesh, and but that they are known to be dead and buried, not distinguishable from living mortals? We have well-attested facts of such apparitions making themselves suddenly visible, but never, until the beginning of the era of the “materializations,” did we see anything like them. In the Medium and Day Break, of September 8, 1876, we read a letter from “a lady travelling on the continent,” narrating a circumstance that happened in a haunted house. She says: “ ... A strange sound proceeded from a darkened corner of the library ... on looking up she perceived a cloud or column of luminous vapor; ... the earth-bound spirit was hovering about the spot rendered accursed by his evil deed....” As this spirit was doubtless a genuine elementary apparition, which made itself visible of its own free will—in short, an umbra—it was, as every respectable shadow should be, visible but impalpable, or if palpable at all, communicating to the feeling of touch the sensation of a mass of water suddenly clasped in the hand, or of condensed but cold steam. It was luminous and vapory; for aught we can tell it might have been the real personal umbra of the “spirit,” persecuted, and earth-bound, either by its own remorse and crimes or those of another person or spirit. The mysteries of after-death are many, and modern “materializations” only make them cheap and ridiculous in the eyes of the indifferent.

To these assertions may be opposed a fact well known among spiritualists: The writer has publicly certified to having seen such materialized forms. We have most assuredly done so, and are ready to repeat the[Pg 70] testimony. We have recognized such figures as the visible representations of acquaintances, friends, and even relatives. We have, in company with many other spectators, heard them pronounce words in languages unfamiliar not only to the medium and to every one else in the room, except ourselves, but, in some cases, to almost if not quite every medium in America and Europe, for they were the tongues of Eastern tribes and peoples. At the time, these instances were justly regarded as conclusive proofs of the genuine mediumship of the uneducated Vermont farmer who sat in the “cabinet.” But, nevertheless, these figures were not the forms of the persons they appeared to be. They were simply their portrait statues, constructed, animated and operated by the elementaries. If we have not previously elucidated this point, it was because the spiritualistic public was not then ready to even listen to the fundamental proposition that there are elemental and elementary spirits. Since that time this subject has been broached and more or less widely discussed. There is less hazard now in attempting to launch upon the restless sea of criticism the hoary philosophy of the ancient sages, for there has been some preparation of the public mind to consider it with impartiality and deliberation. Two years of agitation have effected a marked change for the better.

Pausanias writes that four hundred years after the battle of Marathon, there were still heard in the place where it was fought, the neighing of horses and the shouts of shadowy soldiers. Supposing that the spectres of the slaughtered soldiers were their genuine spirits, they looked like “shadows,” not materialized men. Who, then, or what, produced the neighing of horses? Equine “spirits?” And if it be pronounced untrue that horses have spirits—which assuredly no one among zoölogists, physiologists or psychologists, or even spiritualists, can either prove or disprove—then must we take it for granted that it was the “immortal souls” of men which produced the neighing at Marathon to make the historical battle scene more vivid and dramatic? The phantoms of dogs, cats, and various other animals have been repeatedly seen, and the world-wide testimony is as trustworthy upon this point as that with respect to human apparitions. Who or what personates, if we are allowed such an expression, the ghosts of departed animals? Is it, again, human spirits? As the matter now stands, there is no side issue; we have either to admit that animals have surviving spirits and souls as well as ourselves, or hold with Porphyry that there are in the invisible world a kind of tricky and malicious demons, intermediary beings between living men and “gods,” spirits that delight in appearing under every imaginable shape, beginning with the human form, and ending with those of multifarious animals.[144]

[Pg 71]

Before venturing to decide the question whether the spectral animal forms so frequently seen and attested are the returning spirits of dead beasts, we must carefully consider their reported behavior. Do these spectres act according to the habits and display the same instincts, as the animals during life? Do the spectral beasts of prey lie in wait for victims, and timid animals flee before the presence of man; or do the latter show a malevolence and disposition to annoy, quite foreign to their natures? Many victims of these obsessions—notably, the afflicted persons of Salem and other historical witchcrafts—testify to having seen dogs, cats, pigs, and other animals, entering their rooms, biting them, trampling upon their sleeping bodies, and talking to them; often inciting them to suicide and other crimes. In the well-attested case of Elizabeth Eslinger, mentioned by Dr. Kerner, the apparition of the ancient priest of Wimmenthal[145] was accompanied by a large black dog, which he called his father, and which dog in the presence of numerous witnesses jumped on all the beds of the prisoners. At another time the priest appeared with a lamb, and sometimes with two lambs. Most of those accused at Salem were charged by the seeresses with consulting and plotting mischief with yellow birds, which would sit on their shoulder or on the beams overhead.[146] And unless we discredit the testimony of thousands of witnesses, in all parts of the world, and in all ages, and allow a monopoly of seership to modern mediums, spectre-animals do appear and manifest all the worst traits of depraved human nature, without themselves being human. What, then, can they be but elementals?

Descartes was one of the few who believed and dared say that to occult medicine we shall owe discoveries “destined to extend the domain of philosophy;” and Brierre de Boismont not only shared in these hopes but openly avowed his sympathy with “supernaturalism,” which he considered the universal “grand creed” “ ... We think with Guizot,” he says, “that the existence of society is bound up in it. It is in vain that modern reason, which, notwithstanding its positivism, cannot explain the intimate cause of any phenomena, rejects the supernatural; it is universal, and at the root of all hearts. The most elevated minds are frequently its most ardent disciples.”[147]

Christopher Columbus discovered America, and Americus Vespucius reaped the glory and usurped his dues. Theophrastus Paracelsus rediscovered the occult properties of the magnet—“the bone of Horus” which, twelve centuries before his time, had played such an important part in the theurgic mysteries—and he very naturally became the founder[Pg 72] of the school of magnetism and of mediæval magico-theurgy. But Mesmer, who lived nearly three hundred years after him, and as a disciple of his school brought the magnetic wonders before the public, reaped the glory that was due to the fire-philosopher, while the great master died in a hospital!

So goes the world: new discoveries, evolving from old sciences; new men—the same old nature!

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“The mirror of the soul cannot reflect both earth and heaven; and the one vanishes from its surface, as the other is glassed upon its deep.”


“Qui, donc, t’a donné la mission d’annoncer au peuple que la Divinité n’existe pas—quel avantage trouves tu à persuader à l’homme qu’une force aveugle préside à ses destinées et frappe au hazard le crime et la vertu?”

Robespierre (Discours), May 7, 1794.

We believe that few of those physical phenomena which are genuine are caused by disembodied human spirits. Still, even those that are produced by occult forces of nature, such as happen through a few genuine mediums, and are consciously employed by the so-called “jugglers” of India and Egypt, deserve a careful and serious investigation by science; especially now that a number of respected authorities have testified that in many cases the hypothesis of fraud does not hold. No doubt, there are professed “conjurors” who can perform cleverer tricks than all the American and English “John Kings” together. Robert Houdin unquestionably could, but this did not prevent his laughing outright in the face of the academicians, when they desired him to assert in the newspapers, that he could make a table move, or rap answers to questions, without contact of hands, unless the table was a prepared one.[148] The fact alone, that a now notorious London juggler refused to accept a challenge for £1,000 offered him by Mr. Algernon Joy,[149] to produce such manifestations as are usually obtained through mediums, unless he was left unbound and free from the hands of a committee, negatives his exposé of the occult phenomena. Clever as he may be, we defy and challenge him to reproduce, under the same conditions, the “tricks” exhibited even by a common Indian juggler. For instance, the spot to be chosen by the investigators at the moment of the performance, and the juggler to know nothing of the choice; the experiment to be made in broad daylight, without the least preparations for it; without any confederate but a boy absolutely naked, and the juggler to be in a condition of semi-nudity. After that, we should select out of a variety three tricks, the most common among such public jugglers, and that were recently exhibited to some gentlemen belonging to[Pg 74] the suite of the Prince of Wales: I. To transform a rupee—firmly clasped in the hand of a skeptic—into a living cobra, the bite of which would prove fatal, as an examination of its fangs would show. 2. To cause a seed chosen at random by the spectators, and planted in the first semblance of a flower-pot, furnished by the same skeptics, to grow, mature, and bear fruit in less than a quarter of an hour. 3. To stretch himself on three swords, stuck perpendicularly in the ground at their hilts, the sharp points upward; after that, to have removed first one of the swords, then the other, and, after an interval of a few seconds, the last one, the juggler remaining, finally, lying on nothing—on the air, miraculously suspended at about one yard from the ground. When any prestidigitateur, to begin with Houdin and end with the last trickster who has secured gratuitous advertisement by attacking spiritualism, does the same, then—but only then—we will train ourselves to believe that mankind has been evolved out of the hind-toe of Mr. Huxley’s Eocene Orohippus.

We assert again, in full confidence, that there does not exist a professional wizard, either of the North, South or West, who can compete with anything approaching success, with these untutored, naked sons of the East. These require no Egyptian Hall for their performances, nor any preparations or rehearsals; but are ever ready, at a moment’s notice, to evoke to their help the hidden powers of nature, which, for European prestidigitateurs as well as for scientists, are a closed book. Verily, as Elihu puts it, “great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment.”[150] To repeat the remark of the English divine, Dr. Henry More, we may well say: “ ... indeed, if there were any modesty left in mankind, the histories of the Bible might abundantly assure men of the existence of angels and spirits.” The same eminent man adds, “I look upon it as a special piece of Providence that ... fresh examples of apparitions may awaken our benumbed and lethargic minds into an assurance that there are other intelligent beings besides those that are clothed in heavy earth or clay ... for this evidence, showing that there are bad spirits, will necessarily open a door to the belief that there are good ones, and lastly, that there is a God.” The instance above given carries a moral with it, not only to scientists, but theologians. Men who have made their mark in the pulpit and in professors’ chairs, are continually showing the lay public that they really know so little of psychology, as to take up with any plausible schemer who comes their way, and so make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the thoughtful student. Public opinion upon this subject has been manufactured by jugglers and self-styled savants, unworthy of respectful consideration.

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The development of psychological science has been retarded far more by the ridicule of this class of pretenders, than by the inherent difficulties of its study. The empty laugh of the scientific nursling or of the fools of fashion, has done more to keep man ignorant of his imperial psychical powers, than the obscurities, the obstacles and the dangers that cluster about the subject. This is especially the case with spiritualistic phenomena. That their investigation has been so largely confined to incapables, is due to the fact that men of science, who might and would have studied them, have been frightened off by the boasted exposures, the paltry jokes, and the impertinent clamor of those who are not worthy to tie their shoes. There are moral cowards even in university chairs. The inherent vitality of modern spiritualism is proven in its survival of the neglect of the scientific body, and of the obstreperous boasting of its pretended exposers. If we begin with the contemptuous sneers of the patriarchs of science, such as Faraday and Brewster, and end with the professional (?) exposés of the successful mimicker of the phenomena,——, of London, we will not find them furnishing one single, well-established argument against the occurrence of spiritual manifestations. “My theory is,” says this individual, in his recent soi-disant “exposé,” “that Mr. Williams dressed up and personified John King and Peter. Nobody can prove that it wasn’t so.” Thus it appears that, notwithstanding the bold tone of assertion, it is but a theory after all, and spiritualists might well retort upon the exposer, and demand that he should prove that it is so.

But the most inveterate, uncompromising enemies of Spiritualism are a class very fortunately composed of but few members, who, nevertheless, declaim the louder and assert their views with a clamorousness worthy of a better cause. These are the pretenders to science of young America—a mongrel class of pseudo-philosophers, mentioned at the opening of this chapter, with sometimes no better right to be regarded as scholars than the possession of an electrical machine, or the delivery of a puerile lecture on insanity and mediomania. Such men are—if you believe them—profound thinkers and physiologists; there is none of your metaphysical nonsense about them; they are Positivists—the mental sucklings of Auguste Comte, whose bosoms swell at the thought of plucking deluded humanity from the dark abyss of superstition, and rebuilding the cosmos on improved principles. Irascible psychophobists, no more cutting insult can be offered them than to suggest that they may be endowed with immortal spirits. To hear them, one would fancy that there can be no other souls in men and women than “scientific” or “unscientific souls;” whatever that kind of soul may be.[151]

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Some thirty or forty years ago, in France, Auguste Comte—a pupil of the Ecole Polytechnique, who had remained for years at that establishment as a repetiteur of Transcendant Analysis and Rationalistic Mechanics—awoke one fine morning with the very irrational idea of becoming a prophet. In America, prophets can be met with at every street-corner; in Europe, they are as rare as black swans. But France is the land of novelties. Auguste Comte became a prophet; and so infectious is fashion, sometimes, that even in sober England he was considered, for a certain time, the Newton of the nineteenth century.

The epidemic extended, and for the time being, it spread like wildfire over Germany, England, and America. It found adepts in France, but the excitement did not last long with these. The prophet needed money: the disciples were unwilling to furnish it. The fever of admiration for a religion without a God cooled off as quickly as it had come on; of all the enthusiastic apostles of the prophet, there remained but one worthy any attention. It was the famous philologist Littré, a member of the French Institute, and a would-be member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, but whom the archbishop of Orleans maliciously prevented from becoming one of the “Immortals.”[152]

The philosopher-mathematician—the high-priest of the “religion of the future” taught his doctrine as do all his brother-prophets of our modern days. He deified “woman,” and furnished her with an altar; but the goddess had to pay for its use. The rationalists had laughed at the mental aberration of Fourier; they had laughed at the St. Simonists; and their scorn for Spiritualism knew no bounds. The same rationalists and materialists were caught, like so many empty-headed sparrows, by the bird-lime of the new prophet’s rhetoric. A longing for some kind of divinity, a craving for the “unknown,” is a feeling congenital in man; hence the worst atheists seem not to be exempt from it. Deceived by the outward brilliancy of this ignus fatuus, the disciples followed it until they found themselves floundering in a bottomless morass.

Covering themselves with the mask of a pretended erudition, the Positivists of this country have organized themselves into clubs and committees with the design of uprooting Spiritualism, while pretending to impartially investigate it.

Too timid to openly challenge the churches and the Christian doctrine, they endeavor to sap that upon which all religion is based—man’s faith in God and his own immortality. Their policy is to ridicule that which affords an unusual basis for such a faith—phenomenal Spiritualism.[Pg 77] Attacking it at its weakest side, they make the most of its lack of an inductive method, and of the exaggerations that are to be found in the transcendental doctrines of its propagandists. Taking advantage of its unpopularity, and displaying a courage as furious and out of place as that of the errant knight of La Mancha, they claim recognition as philanthropists and benefactors who would crush out a monstrous superstition.

Let us see in what degree Comte’s boasted religion of the future is superior to Spiritualism, and how much less likely its advocates are to need the refuge of those lunatic asylums which they officiously recommend for the mediums whom they have been so solicitous about. Before beginning, let us call attention to the fact that three-fourths of the disgraceful features exhibited in modern Spiritualism are directly traceable to the materialistic adventurers pretending to be spiritualists. Comte has fulsomely depicted the “artificially-fecundated” woman of the future. She is but elder sister to the Cyprian ideal of the free-lovers. The immunity against the future offered by the teachings of his moon-struck disciples, has inoculated some pseudo-spiritualists to such an extent as to lead them to form communistic associations. None, however, have proved long-lived. Their leading feature being generally a materialistic animalism, gilded over with a thin leaf of Dutch-metal philosophy and tricked out with a combination of hard Greek names, the community could not prove anything else than a failure.

Plato, in the fifth book of the Republic, suggests a method for improving the human race by the elimination of the unhealthy or deformed individuals, and by coupling the better specimens of both sexes. It was not to be expected that the “genius of our century,” even were he a prophet, would squeeze out of his brain anything entirely new.

Comte was a mathematician. Cleverly combining several old utopias, he colored the whole, and, improving on Plato’s idea, materialized it, and presented the world with the greatest monstrosity that ever emanated from a human mind!

We beg the reader to keep in view, that we do not attack Comte as a philosopher, but as a professed reformer. In the irremediable darkness of his political, philosophical and religious views, we often meet with isolated observations and remarks in which profound logic and judiciousness of thought rival the brilliancy of their interpretation. But then, these dazzle you like flashes of lightning on a gloomy night, to leave you, the next moment, more in the dark than ever. If condensed and repunctuated, his several works might produce, on the whole, a volume of very original aphorisms, giving a very clear and really clever definition of most of our social evils; but it would be vain to seek, either through the tedious circumlocution of the six volumes of his Cours de[Pg 78] Philosophie Positive, or in that parody on priesthood, in the form of a dialogue—The Catechism of the Religion of Positivism—any idea suggestive of even provisional remedies for such evils. His disciples suggest that the sublime doctrines of their prophet were not intended for the vulgar. Comparing the dogmas preached by Positivism with their practical exemplifications by its apostles, we must confess the possibility of some very achromatic doctrine being at the bottom of it. While the “high-priest” preaches that “woman must cease to be the female of the man;”[153] while the theory of the positivist legislators on marriage and the family, chiefly consists in making the woman the “mere companion of man by ridding her of every maternal function;”[154] and while they are preparing against the future a substitute for that function by applying “to the chaste woman” “a latent force,”[155] some of its lay priests openly preach polygamy, and others affirm that their doctrines are the quintessence of spiritual philosophy.

In the opinion of the Romish clergy, who labor under a chronic nightmare of the devil, Comte offers his “woman of the future” to the possession of the “incubi.”[156] In the opinion of more prosaic persons, the Divinity of Positivism, must henceforth be regarded as a biped broodmare. Even Littré made prudent restrictions while accepting the apostleship of this marvellous religion. This is what he wrote in 1859:

“M. Comte not only thought that he found the principles, traced the outlines, and furnished the method, but that he had deduced the consequences and constructed the social and religious edifice of the future. It is in this second division that we make our reservations, declaring, at the same time, that we accept as an inheritance, the whole of the first.”[157]

Further, he says: “M. Comte, in a grand work entitled the System of the Positive Philosophy, established the basis of a philosophy [?] which must finally supplant every theology and the whole of metaphysics. Such a work necessarily contains a direct application to the government of societies; as it has nothing arbitrary in it [?] and as we find therein a real science [?], my adhesion to the principles involves my adhesion to the essential consequences.”

M. Littré has shown himself in the light of a true son of his prophet. Indeed the whole system of Comte appears to us to have been built on a play of words. When they say “Positivism” read Nihilism; when you hear the word chastity, know that it means impudicity; and so on.[Pg 79] Being a religion based on a theory of negation, its adherents can hardly carry it out practically without saying white when meaning black!

“Positive Philosophy,” continues Littré, “does not accept atheism, for the atheist is not a really-emancipated mind, but is, in his own way, a theologian still; he gives his explanation about the essence of things; he knows how they begun!... Atheism is Pantheism; this system is quite theological yet, and thus belongs to the ancient party.”[158]

It really would be losing time to quote any more of these paradoxical dissertations. Comte attained to the apotheosis of absurdity and inconsistency when, after inventing his philosophy, he named it a “Religion.” And, as is usually the case, the disciples have surpassed the reformer—in absurdity. Supposititious philosophers, who shine in the American academies of Comte, like a lampyris noctiluca beside a planet, leave us in no doubt as to their belief, and contrast “that system of thought and life” elaborated by the French apostle with the “idiocy” of Spiritualism; of course to the advantage of the former. “To destroy, you must replace;” exclaims the author of the Cathechism of the Religion of Positivism, quoting Cassaudiere, by the way, without crediting him with the thought; and his disciples proceed to show by what sort of a loathsome system they are anxious to replace Christianity, Spiritualism, and even Science.

“Positivism,” perorates one of them, “is an integral doctrine. It rejects completely all forms of theological and metaphysical belief; all forms of supernaturalism, and thus—Spiritualism. The true positive spirit consists in substituting the study of the invariable laws of phenomena for that of their so-called causes, whether proximate or primary. On this ground it equally rejects atheism; for the atheist is at bottom a theologian,” he adds, plagiarizing sentences from Littré’s works: “the atheist does not reject the problems of theology, only the solution of these, and so he is illogical. We Positivists reject the problem in our turn on the ground that it is utterly inaccessible to the intellect, and we would only waste our strength in a vain search for first and final causes. As you see, Positivism gives a complete explanation [?] of the world, of man, his duty and destiny....”![159]

Very brilliant this; and now, by way of contrast, we will quote what a really great scientist, Professor Hare, thinks of this system. “Comte’s positive philosophy,” he says, “after all, is merely negative. It is admitted by Comte, that he knows nothing of the sources and causes of nature’s laws; that their origination is so perfectly inscrutable as to make it idle to[Pg 80] take up time in any scrutiny for that purpose.... Of course his doctrine makes him avowedly a thorough ignoramus, as to the causes of laws, or the means by which they are established, and can have no basis but the negative argument above stated, in objecting to the facts ascertained in relation to the spiritual creation. Thus, while allowing the atheist his material dominion, Spiritualism will erect within and above the same space a dominion of an importance as much greater as eternity is to the average duration of human life, and as the boundless regions of the fixed stars are to the habitable area of this globe.”[160]

In short, Positivism proposes to itself to destroy Theology, Metaphysics, Spiritualism, Atheism, Materialism, Pantheism, and Science, and it must finally end in destroying itself. De Mirville thinks that according to Positivism, “order will begin to reign in the human mind only on the day when psychology will become a sort of cerebral physics, and history a kind of social physics.” The modern Mohammed first disburdens man and woman of God and their own soul, and then unwittingly disembowels his own doctrine with the too sharp sword of metaphysics, which all the time he thought he was avoiding, thus letting out every vestige of philosophy.

In 1864, M. Paul Janet, a member of the Institute, pronounced a discourse upon Positivism, in which occur the following remarkable words:

“There are some minds which were brought up and fed on exact and positive sciences, but which feel nevertheless, a sort of instinctive impulse for philosophy. They can satisfy this instinct but with elements that they have already on hand. Ignorant in psychological sciences, having studied only the rudiments of metaphysics, they nevertheless are determined to fight these same metaphysics as well as psychology, of which they know as little as of the other. After this is done, they will imagine themselves to have founded a Positive Science, while the truth is that they have only built up a new mutilated and incomplete metaphysical theory. They arrogate to themselves the authority and infallibility properly belonging alone to the true sciences, those which are based on experience and calculations; but they lack such an authority, for their ideas, defective as they may be, nevertheless belong to the same class as those which they attack. Hence the weakness of their situation, the final ruin of their ideas, which are soon scattered to the four winds.”[161]

The Positivists of America have joined hands in their untiring efforts to overthrow Spiritualism. To show their impartiality, though, they propound such novel queries as follows: “ ... how much rationality[Pg 81] is there in the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception, the Trinity and Transubstantiation, if submitted to the tests of physiology, mathematics, and chemistry?” and they “undertake to say, that the vagaries of Spiritualism do not surpass in absurdity these eminently respectable beliefs.” Very well. But there is neither theological absurdity nor spiritualistic delusion that can match in depravity and imbecility that positivist notion of “artificial fecundation.” Denying to themselves all thought on primal and final causes, they apply their insane theories to the construction of an impossible woman for the worship of future generations; the living, immortal companion of man they would replace with the Indian female fetich of the Obeah, the wooden idol that is stuffed every day with serpents’ eggs, to be hatched by the heat of the sun!

And now, if we are permitted to ask in the name of common-sense, why should Christian mystics be taxed with credulity or the spiritualists be consigned to Bedlam, when a religion embodying such revolting absurdity finds disciples even among Academicians?—when such insane rhapsodies as the following can be uttered by the mouth of Comte and admired by his followers: “My eyes are dazzled;—they open each day more and more to the increasing coincidence between the social advent of the feminine mystery, and the mental decadence of the eucharistical sacrament. Already the Virgin has dethroned God in the minds of Southern Catholics! Positivism realizes the Utopia of the mediæval ages, by representing all the members of the great family as the issue of a virgin mother without a husband....” And again, after giving the modus operandi: “The development of the new process would soon cause to spring up a caste without heredity, better adapted than vulgar procreation to the recruitment of spiritual chiefs, or even temporal ones, whose authority would then rest upon an origin truly superior, which would not shrink from an investigation.”[162]

To this we might inquire with propriety, whether there has ever been found in the “vagaries of Spiritualism,” or the mysteries of Christianity, anything more preposterous than this ideal “coming race.” If the tendency of materialism is not grossly belied by the behavior of some of its advocates, those who publicly preach polygamy, we fancy that whether or not there will ever be a sacerdotal stirp so begotten, we shall see no end of progeny,—the offspring of “mothers without husbands.”

How natural that a philosophy which could engender such a caste of didactic incubi, should express through the pen of one of its most garrulous essayists, the following sentiments: “This is a sad, a very sad[Pg 82] age,[163] full of dead and dying faiths; full of idle prayers sent out in vain search for the departing gods. But oh! it is a glorious age, full of the golden light which streams from the ascending sun of science! What shall we do for those who are shipwrecked in faith, bankrupt in intellect, but ... who seek comfort in the mirage of spiritualism, the delusions of transcendentalism, or the will o’ the wisp of mesmerism?...”

The ignis fatuus, now so favorite an image with many dwarf philosophers, had itself to struggle for recognition. It is not so long since the now familiar phenomenon was stoutly denied by a correspondent of the London Times, whose assertions carried weight, till the work of Dr. Phipson, supported by the testimony of Beccaria, Humboldt, and other naturalists, set the question at rest.[164] The Positivists should choose some happier expression, and follow the discoveries of science at the same time. As to mesmerism, it has been adopted in many parts of Germany, and is publicly used with undeniable success in more than one hospital; its occult properties have been proved and are believed in by physicians, whose eminence, learning, and merited fame, the self-complacent lecturer on mediums and insanity cannot well hope to equal.

We have to add but a few more words before we drop this unpleasant subject. We have found Positivists particularly happy in the delusion that the greatest scientists of Europe were Comtists. How far their claims may be just, as regards other savants, we do not know, but Huxley, whom all Europe considers one of her greatest scientists, most decidedly declines that honor, and Dr. Maudsley, of London, follows suit. In a lecture delivered by the former gentleman in 1868, in Edinburg, on The Physical Basis of Life, he even appears to be very much shocked at the liberty taken by the Archbishop of York, in identifying him with Comte’s philosophy. “So far as I am concerned,” says Mr. Huxley, “the most reverend prelate might dialectically hew Mr. Comte in pieces, as a modern Agag, and I would not attempt to stay his hand. In so far as my study of what specially characterizes the positive philosophy has led me, I find, therein, little or nothing of any scientific value, and a great deal which is as thoroughly antagonistic to the very essence of science as anything in ultramontane Catholicism. In fact, Comte’s philosophy in practice might be compendiously described as Catholicism minus Christianity.” Further, Huxley even becomes wrathful, and falls to accusing Scotchmen of ingratitude for having allowed the Bishop to mistake Comte for the founder of a philosophy which belonged by right to Hume. “It was enough,” exclaims the professor,[Pg 83] “to make David Hume turn in his grave, that here, almost within earshot of his house, an interested audience should have listened, without a murmur, whilst his most characteristic doctrines were attributed to a French writer of fifty years later date, in whose dreary and verbose pages we miss alike the vigor of thought and the clearness of style....”[165]

Poor Comte! It appears that the highest representatives of his philosophy are now reduced, at least in this country, to “one physicist, one physician who has made a specialty of nervous diseases, and one lawyer.” A very witty critic nicknamed this desperate trio, “an anomalistic triad, which, amid its arduous labors, finds no time to acquaint itself with the principles and laws of their language.”[166]

To close the question, the Positivists neglect no means to overthrow Spiritualism in favor of their religion. Their high priests are made to blow their trumpets untiringly; and though the walls of no modern Jericho are ever likely to tumble down in dust before their blast, still they neglect no means to attain the desired object. Their paradoxes are unique, and their accusations against spiritualists irresistible in logic. In a recent lecture, for instance, it was remarked that: “The exclusive exercise of religious instinct is productive of sexual immorality. Priests, monks, nuns, saints, media, ecstatics, and devotees are famous for their impurities.”[167]

We are happy to remark that, while Positivism loudly proclaims itself a religion, Spiritualism has never pretended to be anything more than a science, a growing philosophy, or rather a research in hidden and as yet unexplained forces in nature. The objectiveness of its various phenomena has been demonstrated by more than one genuine representative of science, and as ineffectually denied by her “monkeys.”

Finally, it may be remarked of our Positivists who deal so unceremoniously with every psychological phenomenon, that they are like Samuel Butler’s rhetorician, who

“ ... could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope.”

We would there were no occasion to extend the critic’s glance beyond the circle of triflers and pedants who improperly wear the title of men[Pg 84] of science. But it is also undeniable that the treatment of new subjects by those whose rank is high in the scientific world but too often passes unchallenged, when it is amenable to censure. The cautiousness bred of a fixed habit of experimental research, the tentative advance from opinion to opinion, the weight accorded to recognized authorities—all foster a conservatism of thought which naturally runs into dogmatism. The price of scientific progress is too commonly the martyrdom or ostracism of the innovator. The reformer of the laboratory must, so to speak, carry the citadel of custom and prejudice at the point of the bayonet. It is rare that even a postern-door is left ajar by a friendly hand. The noisy protests and impertinent criticisms of the little people of the antechamber of science, he can afford to let pass unnoticed; the hostility of the other class is a real peril that the innovator must face and overcome. Knowledge does increase apace, but the great body of scientists are not entitled to the credit. In every instance they have done their best to shipwreck the new discovery, together with the discoverer. The palm is to him who has won it by individual courage, intuitiveness, and persistency. Few are the forces in nature which, when first announced, were not laughed at, and then set aside as absurd and unscientific. Humbling the pride of those who had not discovered anything, the just claims of those who have been denied a hearing until negation was no longer prudent, and then—alas for poor, selfish humanity! these very discoverers too often became the opponents and oppressors, in their turn, of still more recent explorers in the domain of natural law! So, step by step, mankind move around their circumscribed circle of knowledge, science constantly correcting its mistakes, and readjusting on the following day the erroneous theories of the preceding one. This has been the case, not merely with questions pertaining to psychology, such as mesmerism, in its dual sense of a physical and spiritual phenomenon, but even with such discoveries as directly related to exact sciences, and have been easy to demonstrate.

What can we do? Shall we recall the disagreeable past? Shall we point to mediæval scholars conniving with the clergy to deny the Heliocentric theory, for fear of hurting an ecclesiastical dogma? Must we recall how learned conchologists once denied that the fossil shells, found scattered over the face of the earth, were ever inhabited by living animals at all? How the naturalists of the eighteenth century declared these but mere fac-similes of animals? And how these naturalists fought and quarrelled and battled and called each other names, over these venerable mummies of the ancient ages for nearly a century, until Buffon settled the question by proving to the negators that they were mistaken? Surely an oyster-shell is anything but transcendental, and ought to be quite a palpable subject for any exact study; and if the scientists could not agree[Pg 85] on that, we can hardly expect them to believe at all that evanescent forms,—of hands, faces, and whole bodies sometimes—appear at the seances of spiritual mediums, when the latter are honest.

There exists a certain work which might afford very profitable reading for the leisure hours of skeptical men of science. It is a book published by Flourens, the Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy, called Histoire des Recherches de Buffon. The author shows in it how the great naturalist combated and finally conquered the advocates of the fac-simile theory; and how they still went on denying everything under the sun, until at times the learned body fell into a fury, an epidemic of negation. It denied Franklin and his refined electricity; laughed at Fulton and his concentrated steam; voted the engineer Perdonnet a strait-jacket for his offer to build railroads; stared Harvey out of countenance; and proclaimed Bernard de Palissy “as stupid as one of his own pots!”

In his oft-quoted work, Conflict between Religion and Science, Professor Draper shows a decided propensity to kick the beam of the scales of justice, and lay all such impediments to the progress of science at the door of the clergy alone. With all respect and admiration due to this eloquent writer and scientist, we must protest and give every one his just due. Many of the above-enumerated discoveries are mentioned by the author of the Conflict. In every case he denounces the bitter resistance on the part of the clergy, and keeps silent on the like opposition invariably experienced by every new discoverer at the hands of science. His claim on behalf of science that “knowledge is power” is undoubtedly just. But abuse of power, whether it proceeds from excess of wisdom or ignorance is alike obnoxious in its effects. Besides, the clergy are silenced now. Their protests would at this day be scarcely noticed in the world of science. But while theology is kept in the background, the scientists have seized the sceptre of despotism with both hands, and they use it, like the cherubim and flaming sword of Eden, to keep the people away from the tree of immortal life and within this world of perishable matter.

The editor of the London Spiritualist, in answer to Dr. Gully’s criticism of Mr. Tyndall’s fire-mist theory, remarks that if the entire body of spiritualists are not roasting alive at Smithfield in the present century, it is to science alone that we are indebted for this crowning mercy. Well, let us admit that the scientists are indirectly public benefactors in this case, to the extent that the burning of erudite scholars is no longer fashionable. But is it unfair to ask whether the disposition manifested toward the spiritualistic doctrine by Faraday, Tyndall, Huxley, Agassiz, and others, does not warrant the suspicion that if these learned gentlemen[Pg 86] and their following had the unlimited power once held by the Inquisition, spiritualists would not have reason to feel as easy as they do now? Even supposing that they should not roast believers in the existence of a spirit-world—it being unlawful to cremate people alive—would they not send every spiritualist they could to Bedlam? Do they not call us “incurable monomaniacs,” “hallucinated fools,” “fetich-worshippers,” and like characteristic names? Really, we cannot see what should have stimulated to such extent the gratitude of the editor of the London Spiritualist, for the benevolent tutelage of the men of science. We believe that the recent Lankester-Donkin-Slade prosecution in London ought at last to open the eyes of hopeful spiritualists, and show them that stubborn materialism is often more stupidly bigoted than religious fanaticism itself.

One of the cleverest productions of Professor Tyndall’s pen is his caustic essay upon Martineau and Materialism. At the same time it is one which in future years the author will doubtless be only too ready to trim of certain unpardonable grossnesses of expression. For the moment, however, we will not deal with these, but consider what he has to say of the phenomenon of consciousness. He quotes this question from Mr. Martineau: “A man can say ‘I feel, I think, I love;’ but how does consciousness infuse itself into the problem?” And thus answers: “The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ nor apparently any rudiments of the organ, which would enable us to pass by a process of reasoning from one to the other. They appear together, but we do not know why. Were our minds and senses so expanded, strengthened and illuminated, as to enable us to see and feel the very molecules of the brain; were we capable of following all their motions, all their groupings, all their electric discharges, if such there be; and were we intimately acquainted with the corresponding states of thought and feeling, we should be as far as ever from the solution of the problem, ‘How are these physical processes connected with the facts of consciousness?’ The chasm between the two classes of phenomena would still remain intellectually impassable.”[168]

This chasm, as impassable to Professor Tyndall as the fire-mist where the scientist is confronted with his unknowable cause, is a barrier only to men without spiritual intuitions. Professor Buchanan’s Outlines of Lectures on the Neurological System of Anthropology, a work written so far back as 1854, contains suggestions that, if the sciolists[Pg 87] would only heed them, would show how a bridge can be thrown across this dreadful abyss. It is one of the bins in which the thought-seed of future harvests is stored up by a frugal present. But the edifice of materialism is based entirely upon that gross sub-structure—the reason. When they have stretched its capabilities to their utmost limits, its teachers can at best only disclose to us an universe of molecules animated by an occult impulse. What better diagnosis of the ailment of our scientists could be asked than can be derived from Professor Tyndall’s analysis of the mental state of the Ultramontane clergy by a very slight change of names. For “spiritual guides” read “scientists,” for “prescientific past” substitute “materialistic present,” say “spirit” for “science,” and in the following paragraph we have a life portrait of the modern man of science drawn by the hand of a master:

“ ... Their spiritual guides live so exclusively in the prescientific past, that even the really strong intellects among them are reduced to atrophy as regards scientific truth. Eyes they have and see not; ears they have and hear not; for both eyes and ears are taken possession of by the sights and sounds of another age. In relation to science, the Ultramontane brain, through lack of exercise, is virtually the undeveloped brain of the child. And thus it is that as children in scientific knowledge, but as potent wielders of spiritual power among the ignorant, they countenance and enforce practices sufficient to bring the blush of shame to the cheeks of the more intelligent among themselves.”[169] The Occultist holds this mirror up to science that it may see how it looks itself.

Since history recorded the first laws established by man, there never was yet a people, whose code did not hang the issues of the life and death of its citizens upon the testimony of two or three credible witnesses. “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death,”[170] says Moses, the first legislator we meet in ancient history. “The laws which put to death a man on the deposition of one witness are fatal to freedom” says Montesquieu. “Reason claims there should be two witnesses.”[171]

Thus the value of evidence has been tacitly agreed upon and accepted in every country. But the scientists will not accept the evidence of the million against one. In vain do hundreds of thousands of men testify to facts. Oculos habent et non vident! They are determined to remain blind and deaf. Thirty years of practical demonstrations and the testimony of some millions of believers in America and Europe are certainly entitled to some degree of respect and attention. Especially so, when[Pg 88] the verdict of twelve spiritualists, influenced by the evidence testified to by any two others, is competent to send even a scientist to swing on the gallows for a crime, perhaps committed under the impulse supplied by a commotion among the cerebral molecules unrestrained by a consciousness of future moral RETRIBUTION.

Toward science as a whole, as a divine goal, the whole civilized world ought to look with respect and veneration; for science alone can enable man to understand the Deity by the true appreciation of his works. “Science is the understanding of truth or facts,” says Webster; “it is an investigation of truth for its own sake and a pursuit of pure knowledge.” If the definition be correct, then the majority of our modern scholars have proved false to their goddess. “Truth for its own sake!” And where should the keys to every truth in nature be searched for, unless in the hitherto unexplored mystery of psychology? Alas! that in questioning nature so many men of science should daintily sort over her facts and choose only such for study as best bolster their prejudices.

Psychology has no worse enemies than the medical school denominated allopathists. It is in vain to remind them that of the so-called exact sciences, medicine, confessedly, least deserves the name. Although of all branches of medical knowledge, psychology ought more than any other to be studied by physicians, since without its help their practice degenerates into mere guess-work and chance-intuitions, they almost wholly neglect it. The least dissent from their promulgated doctrines is resented as a heresy, and though an unpopular and unrecognized curative method should be shown to save thousands, they seem, as a body, disposed to cling to accepted hypotheses and prescriptions, and decry both innovator and innovation until they get the mint-stamp of regularity. Thousands of unlucky patients may die meanwhile, but so long as professional honor is vindicated, this is a matter of secondary importance.

Theoretically the most benignant, at the same time no other school of science exhibits so many instances of petty prejudice, materialism, atheism, and malicious stubbornness as medicine. The predilections and patronage of the leading physicians are scarcely ever measured by the usefulness of a discovery. Bleeding, by leeching, cupping, and the lancet, had its epidemic of popularity, but at last fell into merited disgrace; water, now freely given to fevered patients, was once denied them, warm baths were superseded by cold water, and for a while hydropathy was a mania. Peruvian bark—which a modern defender of biblical authority seriously endeavors to identify with the paradisiacal “Tree of Life,”[172] and which was brought to Spain in 1632—was[Pg 89] neglected for years. The Church, for once, showed more discrimination than science. At the request of Cardinal de Lugo, Innocent X. gave it the prestige of his powerful name.

In an old book entitled Demonologia, the author cites many instances of important remedies which being neglected at first afterward rose into notice through mere accident. He also shows that most of the new discoveries in medicine have turned out to be no more than “the revival and reädoption of very ancient practices.” During the last century, the root of the male fern was sold and widely advertised as a secret nostrum by a Madame Nouffleur, a female quack, for the effective cure of the tapeworm. The secret was bought by Louis XV. for a large sum of money; after which the physicians discovered that it was recommended and administered in that disease by Galen. The famous powder of the Duke of Portland for the gout, was the diacentaureon of Cælius Aurelianus. Later it was ascertained that it had been used by the earliest medical writers, who had found it in the writings of the old Greek philosophers. So with the eau medicinale of Dr. Husson, whose name it bears. This famous remedy for the gout was recognized under its new mask to be the Colchicum autumnale, or meadow saffron, which is identical with a plant called Hermodactylus, whose merits as a certain antidote to gout were recognized and defended by Oribasius, a great physician of the fourth century, and Ætius Amidenus, another eminent physician of Alexandria (fifth century). Subsequently it was abandoned and fell into disfavor only because it was too old to be considered good by the members of the medical faculties that flourished toward the end of the last century!

Even the great Magendie, the wise physiologist, was not above discovering that which had already been discovered and found good by the oldest physicians. His proposed remedy against consumption, namely, the use of prussic acid, may be found in the works of Lumæus, Amenitates Academicæ, vol. iv., in which he shows distilled laurel water to have been used with great profit in pulmonary consumption. Pliny also assures us that the extract of almonds and cherry-pits had cured the most obstinate coughs. As the author of Demonologia well remarks, it may be asserted with perfect safety that “all the various secret preparations of opium which have been lauded as the discovery of modern times, may be recognized in the works of ancient authors,” who see themselves so discredited in our days.

It is admitted on all hands that from time immemorial the distant East was the land of knowledge. Not even in Egypt were botany and mineralogy so extensively studied as by the savants of archaic Middle Asia. Sprengel, unjust and prejudiced as he shows himself in everything else, confesses this much in his Histoire de la Médecine. And yet,[Pg 90] notwithstanding this, whenever the subject of magic is discussed, that of India has rarely suggested itself to any one, for of its general practice in that country less is known than among any other ancient people. With the Hindus it was and is more esoteric, if possible, than it was even among the Egyptian priests. So sacred was it deemed that its existence was only half admitted, and it was only practiced in public emergencies. It was more than a religious matter, for it was considered divine. The Egyptian hierophants, notwithstanding the practice of a stern and pure morality, could not be compared for one moment with the ascetical Gymnosophists, either in holiness of life or miraculous powers developed in them by the supernatural adjuration of everything earthly. By those who knew them well they were held in still greater reverence than the magians of Chaldea. Denying themselves the simplest comforts of life, they dwelt in woods, and led the life of the most secluded hermits,[173] while their Egyptian brothers at least congregated together. Notwithstanding the slur thrown by history on all who practiced magic and divination, it has proclaimed them as possessing the greatest secrets in medical knowledge and unsurpassed skill in its practice. Numerous are the volumes preserved in Hindu convents, in which are recorded the proofs of their learning. To attempt to say whether these Gymnosophists were the real founders of magic in India, or whether they only practiced what had passed to them as an inheritance from the earliest Rishis[174]—the seven primeval sages—would be regarded as a mere speculation by exact scholars. “The care which they took in educating youth, in familiarizing it with generous and virtuous sentiments, did them peculiar honor, and their maxims and discourses, as recorded by historians, prove that they were expert in matters of philosophy, metaphysics, astronomy, morality, and religion,” says a modern writer. They preserved their dignity under the sway of the most powerful princes, whom they would not condescend to visit, or to trouble for the slightest favor. If the latter desired the advice or the prayers of the holy men, they were either obliged to go themselves, or to send messengers. To these men no secret power of either plant or mineral was unknown. They had fathomed nature to its depths, while psychology and physiology were to them open books, and the result was that science or machagiotia that is now termed, so superciliously, magic.

While the miracles recorded in the Bible have become accepted facts[Pg 91] with the Christians, to disbelieve which is regarded as infidelity, the narratives of wonders and prodigies found in the Atharva-Veda,[175] either provoke their contempt or are viewed as evidences of diabolism. And yet, in more than one respect, and notwithstanding the unwillingness of certain Sanscrit scholars, we can show the identity between the two. Moreover, as the Vedas have now been proved by scholars to antedate the Jewish Bible by many ages, the inference is an easy one that if one of them has borrowed from the other, the Hindu sacred books are not to be charged with plagiarism.

First of all, their cosmogony shows how erroneous has been the opinion prevalent among the civilized nations that Brahma was ever considered by the Hindus their chief or Supreme God. Brahma is a secondary deity, and like Jehovah is “a mover of the waters.” He is the creating god, and has in his allegorical representations four heads, answering to the four cardinal points. He is the demiurgos, the architect of the world. “In the primordiate state of the creation,” says Polier’s Mythologie des Indous, “the rudimental universe, submerged in water, reposed in the bosom of the Eternal. Sprang from this chaos and darkness, Brahma, the architect of the world, poised on a lotus-leaf floated (moved?) upon the waters, unable to discern anything but water and darkness.” This is as identical as possible with the Egyptian cosmogony, which shows in its opening sentences Athtor[176] or Mother Night (which represents illimitable darkness) as the primeval element which covered the infinite abyss, animated by water and the universal spirit of the Eternal, dwelling alone in Chaos. As in the Jewish Scriptures, the history of the creation opens with the spirit of God and his creative emanation—another Deity.[177] Perceiving such a dismal state of things, Brahma soliloquizes in consternation: “Who am I? Whence came I?” Then he hears a voice: “Direct your prayer to Bhagavant—the Eternal, known, also, as Parabrahma.” Brahma, rising from his natatory position, seats himself upon the lotus in an attitude of contemplation, and reflects upon the Eternal, who, pleased with this evidence of piety, disperses the primeval darkness and opens his understanding. “After this Brahma issues from the universal egg—(infinite chaos) as light, for his understanding is now opened, and he sets himself to work; he moves on the eternal waters, with the spirit of God within himself; in his capacity of mover of the waters he is Narayana.”

The lotus, the sacred flower of the Egyptians, as well as the Hindus, is the symbol of Horus as it is that of Brahma. No temples in Thibet or[Pg 92] Nepaul are found without it; and the meaning of this symbol is extremely suggestive. The sprig of lilies placed in the hand of the archangel, who offers them to the Virgin Mary, in the pictures of the “Annunciation,” have in their esoteric symbolism precisely the same meaning. We refer the reader to Sir William Jones.[178] With the Hindus, the lotus is the emblem of the productive power of nature, through the agency of fire and water (spirit and matter). “Eternal!” says a verse in the Bhagaveda Gita, “I see Brahma the creator enthroned in thee above the lotus!” and Sir W. Jones shows that the seeds of the lotus contain—even before they germinate—perfectly-formed leaves, the miniature shapes of what one day, as perfected plants, they will become; or, as the author of The Heathen Religion, has it—“nature thus giving us a specimen of preformation of its productions;” adding further that “the seed of all phœnogamous plants bearing proper flowers, contain an embryo plantlet ready formed.”[179]

With the Buddhists, it has the same signification. Maha-Maya, or Maha-Deva, the mother of Gautama Bhudda, had the birth of her son announced to her by Bhôdisât (the spirit of Buddha), who appeared beside her couch with a lotus in his hand. Thus, also, Osiris and Horus are represented by the Egyptians constantly in association with the lotus-flower.

These facts all go to show the identical parentage of this idea in the three religious systems, Hindu, Egyptian and Judaico-Christian. Wherever the mystic water-lily (lotus) is employed, it signifies the emanation of the objective from the concealed, or subjective—the eternal thought of the ever-invisible Deity passing from the abstract into the concrete or visible form. For as soon as darkness was dispersed and “there was light,” Brahma’s understanding was opened, and he saw in the ideal world (which had hitherto lain eternally concealed in the Divine thought) the archetypal forms of all the infinite future things that would be called into existence, and hence become visible. At this first stage of action, Brahma had not yet become the architect, the builder of the universe, for he had, like the architect, to first acquaint himself with the plan, and realize the ideal forms which were buried in the bosom of the Eternal One, as the future lotus-leaves are concealed within the seed of that plant. And it is in this idea that we must look for the origin and explanation of the verse in the Jewish cosmogony, which reads: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth ... the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.” In all the primitive religions, the “Son of the Father” is the creative God—i.e., His thought made visible; and before the Christian era, from the Trimurti of the Hindus down to the[Pg 93] three kabalistic heads of the Jewish-explained scriptures, the triune godhead of each nation was fully defined and substantiated in its allegories. In the Christian creed we see but the artificial engrafting of a new branch upon the old trunk; and the adoption by the Greek and Roman churches of the lily-symbol held by the archangel at the moment of the Annunciation, shows a thought of precisely the same metaphysical significance.

The lotus is the product of fire (heat) and water, hence the dual symbol of spirit and matter. The God Brahma is the second person of the Trinity, as are Jehovah (Adam-Kadmon) and Osiris, or rather Pimander, or the Power of the Thought Divine, of Hermes; for it is Pimander who represents the root of all the Egyptian Sun-gods. The Eternal is the Spirit of Fire, which stirs up and fructifies and develops into a concrete form everything that is born of water or the primordial earth, evolved out of Brahma; but the universe is itself Brahma, and he is the universe. This is the philosophy of Spinoza, which he derived from that of Pythagoras; and it is the same for which Bruno died a martyr. How much Christian theology has gone astray from its point of departure, is demonstrated in this historical fact. Bruno was slaughtered for the exegesis of a symbol that was adopted by the earliest Christians, and expounded by the apostles! The sprig of water-lilies of Bhôdisât, and later of Gabriel, typifying fire and water, or the idea of creation and generation, is worked into the earliest dogma of the baptismal sacrament.

Bruno’s and Spinoza’s doctrines are nearly identical, though the words of the latter are more veiled, and far more cautiously chosen than those to be found in the theories of the author of the Causa Principio et Uno, or the Infinito Universo e Mondi. Both Bruno, who confesses that the source of his information was Pythagoras, and Spinoza, who, without acknowledging it as frankly, allows his philosophy to betray the secret, view the First Cause from the same standpoint. With them, God is an Entity totally per se, an Infinite Spirit, and the only Being utterly free and independent of either effects or other causes; who, through that same Will which produced all things and gave the first impulse to every cosmic law, perpetually keeps in existence and order everything in the universe. As well as the Hindu Swâbhávikas, erroneously called Atheists, who assume that all things, men as well as gods and spirits, were born from Swabhâva, or their own nature,[180] both[Pg 94] Spinoza and Bruno were led to the conclusion that God is to be sought for within nature and not without. For, creation being proportional to the power of the Creator, the universe as well as its Creator must be infinite and eternal, one form emanating from its own essence, and creating in its turn another. The modern commentators affirm that Bruno, “unsustained by the hope of another and better world, still surrendered his life rather than his convictions;” thereby allowing it to be inferred that Giordano Bruno had no belief in the continued existence of man after death. Professor Draper asserts most positively that Bruno did not believe in the immortality of the soul. Speaking of the countless victims of the religious intolerance of the Popish Church, he remarks: “The passage from this life to the next, though through a hard trial, was the passage from a transient trouble to eternal happiness.... On his way through the dark valley, the martyr believed that there was an invisible hand that would lead him.... For Bruno there was no such support. The philosophical opinions, for the sake of which he surrendered his life, could give him no consolation.”[181]

But Professor Draper seems to have a very superficial knowledge of the true belief of the philosophers. We can leave Spinoza out of the question, and even allow him to remain in the eyes of his critics an utter atheist and materialist; for the cautious reserve which he placed upon himself in his writings makes it extremely difficult for one who does not read him between the lines, and is not thoroughly acquainted with the hidden meaning of the Pythagorean metaphysics, to ascertain what his real sentiments were. But as for Giordano Bruno, if he adhered to the doctrines of Pythagoras he must have believed in another life, hence, he could not have been an atheist whose philosophy offered him no such “consolation.” His accusation and subsequent confession, as given by Professor Domenico Berti, in his Life of Bruno, and compiled from original documents recently published, prove beyond doubt what were his real philosophy, creed and doctrines. In common with the Alexandrian Platonists, and the later Kabalists, he held that Jesus was a magician in the sense given to this appellation by Porphyry and Cicero, who call it the divina sapientia (divine knowledge), and by Philo Judæus, who described the Magi as the most wonderful inquirers into the hidden mysteries of nature, not in the degrading sense given to the word magic in our century. In his noble conception, the Magi were holy men, who, setting themselves apart from everything else on this earth, contemplated the divine virtues and understood the divine nature of the gods and spirits, the more clearly; and so, initiated others into the same mysteries,[Pg 95] which consist in one holding an uninterrupted intercourse with these invisible beings during life. But we will show Bruno’s inmost philosophical convictions better by quoting fragments from the accusation and his own confession.

The charges in the denunciation of Mocenigo, his accuser, are expressed in the following terms:

“I, Zuane Mocenigo, son of the most illustrious Ser Marcantonio, denounce to your very reverend fathership, by constraint of my conscience and by order of my confessor, that I have heard say by Giordano Bruno, several times when he discoursed with me in my house, that it is great blasphemy in Catholics to say that the bread transubstantiates itself into flesh; that he is opposed to the Mass; that no religion pleases him; that Christ was a wretch (un tristo), and that if he did wicked works to seduce the people he might well predict that He ought to be impaled; that there is no distinction of persons in God, and that it would be imperfection in God; that the world is eternal, and that there are infinite worlds, and that God makes them continually, because, he says, He desires all He can; that Christ did apparent miracles and was a magician, and so were the apostles, and that he had a mind to do as much and more than they did; that Christ showed an unwillingness to die, and shunned death all He could; that there is no punishment of sin, and that souls created by the operation of nature pass from one animal to another, and that as the brute animals are born of corruption, so also are men when after dissolution they come to be born again.”

Perfidious as they are, the above words plainly indicate the belief of Bruno in the Pythagorean metempsychosis, which, misunderstood as it is, still shows a belief in the survival of man in one shape or another. Further, the accuser says:

“He has shown indications of wishing to make himself the author of a new sect, under the name of ‘New Philosophy.’ He has said that the Virgin could not have brought forth, and that our Catholic faith is all full of blasphemies against the majesty of God; that the monks ought to be deprived of the right of disputation and their revenues, because they pollute the world; that they are all asses, and that our opinions are doctrines of asses; that we have no proof that our faith has merit with God, and that not to do to others what we would not have done to ourselves suffices for a good life, and that he laughs at all other sins, and wonders how God can endure so many heresies in Catholics. He says that he means to apply himself to the art of divination, and make all the world run after him; that St. Thomas and all the Doctors knew nothing to compare with him, and that he could ask questions of all the first theologians of the world that they could not answer.”

[Pg 96]

To this, the accused philosopher answered by the following profession of faith, which is that of every disciple of the ancient masters:

“I hold, in brief, to an infinite universe, that is, an effect of infinite divine power, because I esteemed it a thing unworthy of divine goodness and power, that, being able to produce besides this world another and infinite others, it should produce a finite world. Thus I have declared that there are infinite particular worlds similar to this of the earth, which, with Pythagoras, I understand to be a star similar in nature with the moon, the other planets, and the other stars, which are infinite; and that all those bodies are worlds, and without number, which thus constitute the infinite universality in an infinite space, and this is called the infinite universe, in which are innumerable worlds, so that there is a double kind of infinite greatness in the universe, and of a multitude of worlds. Indirectly, this may be understood to be repugnant to the truth according to the true faith.

“Moreover, I place in this universe a universal Providence, by virtue of which everything lives, vegetates and moves, and stands in its perfection, and I understand it in two ways; one, in the mode in which the whole soul is present in the whole and every part of the body, and this I call nature, the shadow and footprint of divinity; the other, the ineffable mode in which God, by essence, presence, and power, is in all and above all, not as part, not as soul, but in mode inexplicable.

“Moreover, I understand all the attributes in divinity to be one and the same thing. Together with the theologians and great philosophers, I apprehend three attributes, power, wisdom, and goodness, or, rather, mind, intellect, love, with which things have first, being, through the mind; next, ordered and distinct being, through the intellect; and third, concord and symmetry, through love. Thus I understand being in all and over all, as there is nothing without participation in being, and there is no being without essence, just as nothing is beautiful without beauty being present; thus nothing can be free from the divine presence, and thus by way of reason, and not by way of substantial truth, do I understand distinction in divinity.

“Assuming then the world caused and produced, I understand that, according to all its being, it is dependent upon the first cause, so that it did not reject the name of creation, which I understand that Aristotle also has expressed, saying, ‘God is that upon whom the world and all nature depends,’ so that according to the explanation of St. Thomas, whether it be eternal or in time, it is, according to all its being, dependent on the first cause, and nothing in it is independent.

“Next, in regard to what belongs to the true faith, not speaking philosophically, to come to individuality about the divine persons, the[Pg 97] wisdom and the son of the mind, called by philosophers intellect, and by theologians the word, which ought to be believed to have taken on human flesh. But I, abiding in the phrases of philosophy, have not understood it, but have doubted and held it with inconstant faith, not that I remember to have shown marks of it in writing nor in speech, except indirectly from other things, something of it may be gathered as by way of ingenuity and profession in regard to what may be proved by reason and concluded from natural light. Thus, in regard to the Holy Spirit in a third person, I have not been able to comprehend, as ought to be believed, but, according to the Pythagoric manner, in conformity to the manner shown by Solomon, I have understood it as the soul of the universe, or adjoined to the universe according to the saying of the wisdom of Solomon: ‘The spirit of God filled all the earth, and that which contains all things,’ all which conforms equally to the Pythagoric doctrine explained by Virgil in the text of the Æneid”:

Principio cœlum ac terras camposque liquentes,
Lucentemque globum Lunæ, Titaniaque astra
Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem;

and the lines following.

“From this spirit, then, which is called the life of the universe, I understand, in my philosophy, proceeds life and soul to everything which has life and soul, which, moreover, I understand to be immortal, as also to bodies, which, as to their substance, are all immortal, there being no other death than division and congregation, which doctrine seems expressed in Ecclesiastes, where it is said that ‘there is nothing new under the sun; that which is is that which was.’”

Furthermore, Bruno confesses his inability to comprehend the doctrine of three persons in the godhead, and his doubts of the incarnation of God in Jesus, but firmly pronounces his belief in the miracles of Christ. How could he, being a Pythagorean philosopher, discredit them? If, under the merciless constraint of the Inquisition, he, like Galileo, subsequently recanted, and threw himself upon the clemency of his ecclesiastical persecutors, we must remember that he spoke like a man standing between the rack and the fagot, and human nature cannot always be heroic when the corporeal frame is debilitated by torture and imprisonment.

But for the opportune appearance of Berti’s authoritative work, we would have continued to revere Bruno as a martyr, whose bust was deservedly set high in the Pantheon of Exact Science, crowned with laurel by the hand of Draper. But now we see that their hero of an hour[Pg 98] is neither atheist, materialist, nor positivist, but simply a Pythagorean who taught the philosophy of Upper Asia, and claimed to possess the powers of the magicians, so despised by Draper’s own school! Nothing more amusing than this contretemps has happened since the supposed statue of St. Peter was discovered by irreverent archæologists to be nothing else than the Jupiter of the Capitol, and Buddha’s identity with the Catholic St. Josaphat was satisfactorily proven.

Thus, search where we may through the archives of history, we find that there is no fragment of modern philosophy—whether Newtonian, Cartesian, Huxleyian or any other—but has been dug from the Oriental mines. Even Positivism and Nihilism find their prototype in the exoteric portion of Kapila’s philosophy, as is well remarked by Max Müller. It was the inspiration of the Hindu sages that penetrated the mysteries of Praguâ Pâramitâ (perfect wisdom); their hands that rocked the cradle of the first ancestor of that feeble but noisy child that we have christened MODERN SCIENCE.

[Pg 99]


“I choose the nobler part of Emerson, when, after various disenchantments, he exclaimed, ‘I covet Truth.’ The gladness of true heroism visits the heart of him who is really competent to say this.”


“A testimony is sufficient when it rests on:

The Count Agenor de Gasparin is a devoted Protestant. His battle with des Mousseaux, de Mirville and other fanatics who laid the whole of the spiritual phenomena at the door of Satan, was long and fierce. Two volumes of over fifteen hundred pages are the result, proving the effects, denying the cause, and employing superhuman efforts to invent every other possible explanation that could be suggested rather than the true one.

The severe rebuke received by the Journal des Débats from M. de Gasparin, was read by all civilized Europe.[182] After that gentleman had minutely described numerous manifestations that he had witnessed himself, this journal very impertinently proposed to the authorities in France to send all those who, after having read the fine analysis of the “spiritual hallucinations” published by Faraday, should insist on crediting this delusion, to the lunatic asylum for Incurables. “Take care,” wrote de Gasparin in answer, “the representatives of the exact sciences are on their way to become ... the Inquisitors of our days.... Facts are stronger than Academies. Rejected, denied, mocked, they nevertheless are facts, and do exist.”[183]

The following affirmations of physical phenomena, as witnessed by himself and Professor Thury, may be found in de Gasparin’s voluminous work.

“The experimenters have often seen the legs of the table glued, so to say, to the floor, and, notwithstanding the excitement of those present, refuse to be moved from their place. On other occasions they have seen the tables levitated in quite an energetic way. They heard, with their own[Pg 100] ears, loud as well as gentle raps, the former threatening to shatter the table to pieces on account of their violence, the latter so soft as to become hardly perceptible.... As to LEVITATIONS WITHOUT CONTACT, we found means to produce them easily, and with success.... And such levitations do not pertain to isolated results. We have reproduced them over THIRTY times.[184] ... One day the table will turn, and lift its legs successively, its weight being augmented by a man weighing eighty-seven kilogrammes seated on it; another time it will remain motionless and immovable, notwithstanding that the person placed on it weighs but sixty.[185] ... On one occasion we willed it to turn upside down, and it turned over, with its legs in the air, notwithstanding that our fingers never touched it once.”[186]

“It is certain,” remarks de Mirville, “that a man who had repeatedly witnessed such a phenomenon, could not accept the fine analysis of the English physicist.”[187]

Since 1850, des Mousseaux and de Mirville, uncompromising Roman Catholics, have published many volumes whose titles are cleverly contrived to attract public attention. They betray on the part of the authors a very serious alarm, which, moreover, they take no pains to conceal. Were it possible to consider the phenomena spurious, the church of Rome would never have gone so much out of her way to repress them.

Both sides having agreed upon the facts, leaving skeptics out of the question, people could divide themselves into but two parties: the believers in the direct agency of the devil, and the believers in disembodied and other spirits. The fact alone, that theology dreaded a great deal more the revelations which might come through this mysterious agency than all the threatening “conflicts” with Science and the categorical denials of the latter, ought to have opened the eyes of the most skeptical. The church of Rome has never been either credulous or cowardly, as is abundantly proved by the Machiavellism which marks her policy. Moreover, she has never troubled herself much about the clever prestidigitateurs whom she knew to be simply adepts in juggling. Robert Houdin, Comte, Hamilton and Bosco, slept secure in their beds, while she persecuted such men as Paracelsus, Cagliostro, and Mesmer, the Hermetic philosophers and mystics—and effectually stopped every genuine manifestation of an occult nature by killing the mediums.

Those who are unable to believe in a personal devil and the dogmas of the church must nevertheless accord to the clergy enough of shrewdness[Pg 101] to prevent the compromising of her reputation for infallibility by making so much of manifestations which, if fraudulent, must inevitably be some day exposed.

But the best testimony to the reality of this force was given by Robert Houdin himself, the king of jugglers, who, upon being called as an expert by the Academy to witness the wonderful clairvoyant powers and occasional mistakes of a table, said: “We jugglers never make mistakes, and my second-sight never failed me yet.”

The learned astronomer Babinet was not more fortunate in his selection of Comte, the celebrated ventriloquist, as an expert to testify against the phenomena of direct voices and the rappings. Comte, if we may believe the witnesses, laughed in the face of Babinet at the bare suggestion that the raps were produced by “unconscious ventriloquism!” The latter theory, worthy twin-sister of “unconscious cerebration,” caused many of the most skeptical academicians to blush. Its absurdity was too apparent.

“The problem of the supernatural,” says de Gasparin, “such as it was presented by the middle ages, and as it stands now, is not among the number of those which we are permitted to despise; its breadth and grandeur escape the notice of no one.... Everything is profoundly serious in it, both the evil and the remedy, the superstitious recrudescency, and the physical fact which is destined to conquer the latter.”[188]

Further, he pronounces the following decisive opinion, to which he came, conquered by the various manifestations, as he says himself—“The number of facts which claim their place in the broad daylight of truth, has so much increased of late, that of two consequences one is henceforth inevitable: either the domain of natural sciences must consent to expand itself, or the domain of the supernatural will become so enlarged as to have no bounds.”[189]

Among the multitude of books against spiritualism emanating from Catholic and Protestant sources, none have produced a more appalling effect than the works of de Mirville and des Mousseaux: La Magie au XIXme SiecleMœurs et Pratiques des DemonsHauts Phénomènes de la MagieLes Mediateurs de la MagieDes Esprits et de leurs Manifestations, etc. They comprise the most cyclopædic biography of the devil and his imps that has appeared for the private delectation of good Catholics since the middle ages.

According to the authors, he who was “a liar and murderer from the beginning,” was also the principal motor of spiritual phenomena. He had been for thousands of years at the head of pagan theurgy;[Pg 102] and it was he, again, who, encouraged by the increase of heresies, infidelity, and atheism, had reappeared in our century. The French Academy lifted up its voice in a general outcry of indignation, and M. de Gasparin even took it for a personal insult. “This is a declaration of war, a ‘levée of shields’”—wrote he in his voluminous book of refutations. “The work of M. de Mirville is a real manifesto.... I would be glad to see in it the expression of a strictly individual opinion, but, in truth, it is impossible. The success of the work, these solemn adhesions, the faithful reproduction of its theses by the journals and writers of the party, the solidarity established throughout between them and the whole body of catholicity ... everything goes to show a work which is essentially an act, and has the value of a collective labor. As it is, I felt that I had a duty to perform.... I felt obliged to pick up the glove, ... and lift high the Protestant flag against the Ultramontane banner.”[190]

The medical faculties, as might have been expected, assuming the part of the Greek chorus, echoed the various expostulations against the demonological authors. The Medico-Psychological Annals, edited by Drs. Brierre de Boismont and Cerise, published the following: “Outside these controversies of antagonistical parties, never in our country did a writer dare to face, with a more aggressive serenity, ... the sarcasms, the scorn of what we term common sense; and, as if to defy and challenge at the same time thundering peals of laughter and shrugging of shoulders, the author strikes an attitude, and placing himself with effrontery before the members of the Academy ... addresses to them what he modestly terms his Mémoire on the Devil!”[191]

That was a cutting insult to the Academicians, to be sure; but ever since 1850 they seem to have been doomed to suffer in their pride more than most of them can bear. The idea of asking the attention of the forty “Immortals” to the pranks of the Devil! They vowed revenge, and, leaguing themselves together, propounded a theory which exceeded in absurdity even de Mirville’s demonolatry! Dr. Royer and Jobart de Lamballe—both celebrities in their way—formed an alliance and presented to the Institute a German whose cleverness afforded, according to his statement, the key to all the knockings and rappings of both hemispheres. “We blush” remarks the Marquis de Mirville—“to say that the whole of the trick consisted simply in the reiterated displacement of one of the muscular tendons of the legs. Great demonstration of the system in full sitting of the Institute—and on the spot ... expressions of Academical gratitude for this interesting communication, and, a few days later, a full assurance given to the public by a professor of the medical[Pg 103] faculty, that, scientists having pronounced their opinion, the mystery was at last unravelled!“[192]

But such scientific explanations neither prevented the phenomenon from quietly following its course, nor the two writers on demonology from proceeding to expound their strictly orthodox theories.

Denying that the Church had anything to do with his books, des Mousseaux gravely gave the Academy, in addition to his Mémoire, the following interesting and profoundly philosophical thoughts on Satan:

The Devil is the chief pillar of Faith. He is one of the grand personages whose life is closely allied to that of the church; and without his speech which issued out so triumphantly from the mouth of the Serpent, his medium, the fall of man could not have taken place. Thus, if it was not for him, the Saviour, the Crucified, the Redeemer, would be but the most ridiculous of supernumeraries, and the Cross an insult to good sense!”[193]

This writer, be it remembered, is only the faithful echo of the church, which anathematizes equally the one who denies God and him who doubts the objective existence of Satan.

But the Marquis de Mirville carries this idea of God’s partnership with the Devil still further. According to him it is a regular commercial affair, in which the senior “silent partner” suffers the active business of the firm to be transacted as it may please his junior associate, by whose audacity and industry he profits. Who could be of any other opinion, upon reading the following?

“At the moment of this spiritual invasion of 1853, so slightingly regarded, we had dared to pronounce the word of a ‘threatening catastrophe.’ The world was nevertheless at peace, but history showing us the same symptoms at all disastrous epochs, we had a presentiment of the sad effects of a law which Goërres has formulated thus: [vol. v., p. 356.] ‘These mysterious apparitions have invariably indicated the chastening hand of God on earth.’”[194]

These guerilla-skirmishes between the champions of the clergy and the materialistic Academy of Science, prove abundantly how little the latter has done toward uprooting blind fanaticism from the minds of even very educated persons. Evidently science has neither completely conquered nor muzzled theology. She will master her only on that day when she will condescend to see in the spiritual phenomenon something besides mere hallucination and charlatanry. But how can she do it without investigating it thoroughly? Let us suppose that before the time when[Pg 104] electro-magnetism was publicly acknowledged, the Copenhagen Professor Oersted, its discoverer, had been suffering from an attack of what we call psychophobia, or pneumatophobia. He notices that the wire along which a voltaic current is passing shows a tendency to turn the magnetic needle from its natural position to one perpendicular to the direction of the current. Suppose, moreover, that the professor had heard much of certain superstitious people who used that kind of magnetized needles to converse with unseen intelligences. That they received signals and even held correct conversations with them by means of the tippings of such a needle, and that in consequence he suddenly felt a scientific horror and disgust for such an ignorant belief, and refused, point-blank, to have anything to do with such a needle. What would have been the result? Electro-magnetism might not have been discovered till now, and our experimentalists would have been the principal losers thereby.

Babinet, Royer, and Jobert de Lamballe, all three members of the Institute, particularly distinguished themselves in this struggle between skepticism and supernaturalism, and most assuredly have reaped no laurels. The famous astronomer had imprudently risked himself on the battlefield of the phenomenon. He had explained scientifically the manifestations. But, emboldened by the fond belief among scientists that the new epidemic could not stand close investigation nor outlive the year, he had the still greater imprudence to publish two articles on them. As M. de Mirville very wittily remarks, if both of the articles had but a poor success in the scientific press, they had, on the other hand, none at all in the daily one.

M. Babinet began by accepting a priori, the rotation and movements of the furniture, which fact he declared to be ”hors de doute.” “This rotation,” he said, “being able to manifest itself with a considerable energy, either by a very great speed, or by a strong resistance when it is desired that it should stop.”[195]

Now comes the explanation of the eminent scientist. “Gently pushed by little concordant impulsions of the hands laid upon it, the table begins to oscillate from right to left.... At the moment when, after more or less delay, a nervous trepidation is established in the hands and the little individual impulsions of all the experimenters have become harmonized, the table is set in motion.”[196]

He finds it very simple, for “all muscular movements are determined over bodies by levers of the third order, in which the fulcrum is very near to the point where the force acts. This, consequently, communicates a[Pg 105] great speed to the mobile parts for the very little distance which the motor force has to run.... Some persons are astonished to see a table subjected to the action of several well-disposed individuals in a fair way to conquer powerful obstacles, even break its legs, when suddenly stopped; but that is very simple if we consider the power of the little concordant actions.... Once more, the physical explanation offers no difficulty.”[197]

In this dissertation, two results are clearly shown: the reality of the phenomena proved, and the scientific explanation made ridiculous. But M. Babinet can well afford to be laughed at a little; he knows, as an astronomer, that dark spots are to be found even in the sun.

There is one thing, though, that Babinet has always stoutly denied, viz.: the levitation of furniture without contact. De Mirville catches him proclaiming that such levitation is impossible: “simply impossible,” he says, “as impossible as perpetual motion.”[198]

Who can take upon himself, after such a declaration, to maintain that the word impossible pronounced by science is infallible?

But the tables, after having waltzed, oscillated and turned, began tipping and rapping. The raps were sometimes as powerful as pistol-detonations. What of this? Listen: “The witnesses and investigators are ventriloquists!”

De Mirville refers us to the Revue des Deux Mondes, in which is published a very interesting dialogue, invented by M. Babinet speaking of himself to himself, like the Chaldean En-Soph of the Kabalists: “What can we finally say of all these facts brought under our observation? Are there such raps produced? Yes. Do such raps answer questions? Yes. Who produces these sounds? The mediums. By what means? By the ordinary acoustic method of the ventriloquists. But we were given to suppose that these sounds might result from the cracking of the toes and fingers? No; for then they would always proceed from the same point, and such is not the fact.”[199]

“Now,” asks de Mirville, “what are we to believe of the Americans, and their thousands of mediums who produce the same raps before millions of witnesses?” “Ventriloquism, to be sure,” answers Babinet. “But how can you explain such an impossibility?” The easiest thing in the world; listen only: “All that was necessary to produce the first manifestation in the first house in America was, a street-boy knocking at the door of a mystified citizen, perhaps with a leaden ball attached to a[Pg 106] string, and if Mr. Weekman (the first believer in America) (?)[200] when he watched for the third time, heard no shouts of laughter in the street, it is because of the essential difference which exists between a French street-Arab, and an English or Trans-Atlantic one, the latter being amply provided with what we call a sad merriment, ”gaité triste.”[201]

Truly says de Mirville in his famous reply to the attacks of de Gasparin, Babinet, and other scientists: “and thus according to our great physicist, the tables turn very quickly, very energetically, resist likewise, and, as M. de Gasparin has proved, they levitate without contact. Said a minister: ‘With three words of a man’s handwriting, I take upon myself to have him hung.’ With the above three lines, we take upon ourselves, in our turn, to throw into the greatest confusion the physicists of all the globe, or rather to revolutionize the world—if at least, M. de Babinet had taken the precaution of suggesting, like M. de Gasparin, some yet unknown law or force. For this would cover the whole ground.”[C]

But it is in the notes embracing the “facts and physical theories,” that we find the acme of the consistency and logic of Babinet as an expert investigator on the field of Spiritualism.

It would appear, that M. de Mirville in his narrative of the wonders manifested at the Presbytere de Cideville,[202] was much struck by the marvellousness of some facts. Though authenticated before the inquest and magistrates, they were of so miraculous a nature as to force the demonological author himself to shrink from the responsibility of publishing them.

These facts were as follows: “At the precise moment predicted by a sorcerer” a case of revenge—“a violent clap of thunder was heard above one of the chimneys of the presbytery, after which the fluid descended with a formidable noise through that passage, threw down believers as well as skeptics (as to the power of the sorcerer) who were warming themselves by the fire; and, having filled the room with a multitude of fantastic animals, returned to the chimney, and having reascended it, disappeared, after producing the same terrible noise.” “As,” adds de Mirville, “we were already but too rich in facts, we recoiled before this new enormity added to so many others.”[203]

But Babinet, who in common with his learned colleagues had made such fun of the two writers on demonology, and who was determined, moreover, to prove the absurdity of all like stories, felt himself obliged[Pg 107] to discredit the above-mentioned fact of the Cideville phenomena, by presenting one still more incredible. We yield the floor to M. Babinet, himself.

The following circumstance which he gave to the Academy of Sciences, on July 5, 1852, can be found without further commentary, and merely as an instance of a sphere-like lightning, in the “Œuvres de F. Arago,” vol. i. p. 52. We offer it verbatim.

“After a strong clap of thunder,” says M. Babinet, “but not immediately following it, a tailor apprentice, living in the Rue St. Jacques, was just finishing his dinner, when he saw the paper-screen which shut the fireplace fall down as if pushed out of its place by a moderate gust of wind. Immediately after that he perceived a globe of fire, as large as the head of a child, come out quietly and softly from within the grate and slowly move about the room, without touching the bricks of the floor. The aspect of this fire-globe was that of a young cat, of middle size ... moving itself without the use of its paws. The fire-globe was rather brilliant and luminous than hot or inflamed, and the tailor had no sensation of warmth. This globe approached his feet like a young cat which wishes to play and rub itself against the legs, as is habitual to these animals; but the apprentice withdrew his feet from it, and moving with great caution, avoided contact with the meteor. The latter remained for a few seconds moving about his legs, the tailor examining it with great curiosity and bending over it. After having tried several excursions in opposite directions, but without leaving the centre of the room, the fire-globe elevated itself vertically to the level of the man’s head, who to avoid its contact with his face, threw himself backward on his chair. Arrived at about a yard from the floor the fire-globe slightly lengthened, took an oblique direction toward a hole in the wall over the fireplace, at about the height of a metre above the mantelpiece.” This hole had been made for the purpose of admitting the pipe of a stove in winter; but, according to the expression of the tailor, “the thunder could not see it, for it was papered over like the rest of the wall. The fire-globe went directly to that hole, unglued the paper without damaging it, and reascended the chimney ... when it arrived at the top, which it did very slowly ... at least sixty feet above ground ... it produced a most frightful explosion, which partly destroyed the chimney, ...” etc.

“It seems,” remarks de Mirville in his review, “that we could apply to M. Babinet the following remark made by a very witty woman to Raynal, ‘If you are not a Christian, it is not for lack of faith.’”[204]

It was not alone believers who wondered at the credulity displayed by[Pg 108] M. Babinet, in persisting to call the manifestation a meteor; for Dr. Boudin mentions it very seriously in a work on lightning he was just then publishing. “If these details are exact,” says the doctor, “as they seem to be, since they are admitted by MM. Babinet and Arago, it appears very difficult for the phenomenon to retain its appellation of sphere-shaped lightning. However, we leave it to others to explain, if they can, the essence of a fire-globe emitting no sensation of heat, having the aspect of a cat, slowly promenading in a room, which finds means to escape by reascending the chimney through an aperture in the wall covered over with a paper which it unglues without damaging it!”[205]

“We are of the same opinion,” adds the marquis, “as the learned doctor, on the difficulty of an exact definition, and we do not see why we should not have in future lightning in the shape of a dog, of a monkey, etc., etc. One shudders at the bare idea of a whole meteorological menagerie, which, thanks to thunder, might come down to our rooms to promenade themselves at will.”

Says de Gasparin, in his monster volume of refutations: “In questions of testimony, certitude must absolutely cease the moment we cross the borders of the supernatural.”[206]

The line of demarcation not being sufficiently fixed and determined, which of the opponents is best fitted to take upon himself the difficult task? Which of the two is better entitled to become the public arbiter? Is it the party of superstition, which is supported in its testimony by the evidence of many thousands of people? For nearly two years they crowded the country where were daily manifested the unprecedented miracles of Cideville, now nearly forgotten among other countless spiritual phenomena; shall we believe them, or shall we bow to science, represented by Babinet, who, on the testimony of one man (the tailor), accepts the manifestation of the fire-globe, or the meteor-cat, and henceforth claims for it a place among the established facts of natural phenomena?

Mr. Crookes, in his first article in the Quarterly Journal of Science, October 1, 1871, mentions de Gasparin and his work Science v. Spiritualism. He remarks that “the author finally arrived at the conclusion that all these phenomena are to be accounted for by the action of natural causes, and do not require the supposition of miracles, nor the intervention of spirits and diabolical influences! Gasparin considers it as a fact fully established by his experiments, that the will, in certain[Pg 109] states of organism, can act at a distance on inert matter, and most of his work is devoted to ascertaining the laws and conditions under which this action manifests itself.”[207]

Precisely; but as the work of de Gasparin called forth numberless Answers, Defenses, and Memoirs, it was then demonstrated by his own work that as he was a Protestant, in point of religious fanaticism, he was as little to be relied upon as des Mousseaux and de Mirville. The former is a profoundly pious Calvinist, while the two latter are fanatical Roman Catholics. Moreover, the very words of de Gasparin betray the spirit of partisanship:—“I feel I have a duty to perform.... I lift high the Protestant flag against the Ultramontane banner!” etc.[208] In such matters as the nature of the so-called spiritual phenomena, no evidence can be relied upon, except the disinterested testimony of cold unprejudiced witnesses and science. Truth is one, and Legion is the name for religious sects; every one of which claims to have found the unadulterated truth; as “the Devil is the chief pillar of the (Catholic) Church,” so all supernaturalism and miracles ceased, in de Gasparin’s opinion, “with apostleship.”

But Mr. Crookes mentioned another eminent scholar, Thury, of Geneva, professor of natural history, who was a brother-investigator with Gasparin in the phenomena of Valleyres. This professor contradicts point-blank the assertions of his colleague. “The first and most necessary condition,” says Gasparin, “is the will of the experimenter; without the will, one would obtain nothing; you can form the chain (the circle) for twenty-four hours consecutively, without obtaining the least movement.”[209]

The above proves only that de Gasparin makes no difference between phenomena purely magnetic, produced by the persevering will of the sitters among whom there may be not even a single medium, developed or undeveloped, and the so-called spiritual ones. While the first can be produced consciously by nearly every person, who has a firm and determined will, the latter overpowers the sensitive very often against his own consent, and always acts independently of him. The mesmerizer wills a thing, and if he is powerful enough, that thing is done. The medium, even if he had an honest purpose to succeed, may get no manifestations at all; the less he exercises his will, the better the phenomena: the more he feels anxious, the less he is likely to get anything; to mesmerize requires a positive nature, to be a medium a perfectly passive one. This is the Alphabet of Spiritualism, and no medium is ignorant of it.

[Pg 110]

The opinion of Thury, as we have said, disagrees entirely with Gasparin’s theories of will-power. He states it in so many plain words, in a letter, in answer to the invitation of the count to modify the last article of his mémoire. As the book of Thury is not at hand, we translate the letter as it is found in the résumé of de Mirville’s Defense. Thury’s article which so shocked his religious friend, related to the possibility of the existence and intervention in those manifestations “of wills other than those of men and animals.”

“I feel, sir, the justness of your observations in relation to the last pages of this mémoire: they may provoke a very bad feeling for me on the part of scientists in general. I regret it the more as my determination seems to affect you so much; nevertheless, I persist in my resolution, because I think it a duty, to shirk which would be a kind of treason.

“If, against all expectations, there were some truth in Spiritualism, by abstaining from saying on the part of science, as I conceive it to be, that the absurdity of the belief in the intervention of spirits is not as yet demonstrated scientifically (for such is the résumé, and the thesis of the past pages of my mémoire), by abstaining from saying it to those who, after having read my work, will feel inclined to experiment with the phenomena, I might risk to entice such persons on a path many issues of which are very equivocal.

Without leaving the domain of science, as I esteem it, I will pursue my duty to the end, without any reticence to the profit of my own glory, and, to use your own words, ‘as the great scandal lies there,’ I do not wish to assume the shame of it. I, moreover, insist that ‘this is as scientific as anything else.’ If I wanted to sustain now the theory of the intervention of disembodied spirits, I would have no power for it, for the facts which are made known are not sufficient for the demonstration of such a hypothesis. As it is, and in the position I have assumed, I feel I am strong against every one. Willingly or not, all the scientists must learn, through experience and their own errors, to suspend their judgment as to things which they have not sufficiently examined. The lesson you gave them in this direction cannot be lost.

Geneva, 21 December, 1854.”

Let us analyze the above letter, and try to discover what the writer thinks, or rather what he does not think of this new force. One thing is certain, at least: Professor Thury, a distinguished physicist and naturalist, admits, and even scientifically proves that various manifestations take place. Like Mr. Crookes, he does not believe that they are produced by the interference of spirits or disembodied men who have lived[Pg 111] and died on earth; for he says in his letter that nothing has demonstrated this theory. He certainly believes no more in the Catholic devils or demons, for de Mirville, who quotes this letter as a triumphant proof against de Gasparin’s naturalistic theory, once arrived at the above sentence, hastens to emphasize it by a foot-note, which runs thus: “At Valleyres—perhaps, but everywhere else!”[210] showing himself anxious to convey the idea that the professor only meant the manifestations of Valleyres, when denying their being produced by demons.

The contradictions, and we are sorry to say, the absurdities in which de Gasparin allows himself to be caught, are numerous. While bitterly criticizing the pretensions of the learned Faradaysiacs, he attributes things which he declares magical, to causes perfectly natural. “If,” he says, “we had to deal but with such phenomena (as witnessed and explained (?) by the great physicist), we might as well hold our tongues; but we have passed beyond, and what good can they do now, I would ask, these apparatus which demonstrate that an unconscious pressure explains the whole? It explains all, and the table resists pressure and guidance! It explains all, and a piece of furniture which nobody touches follows the fingers pointed at it; it levitates (without contact), and it turns itself upside down!”[211]

But for all that, he takes upon himself to explain the phenomena.

“People will be advocating miracles, you say—magic! Every new law appears to them as a prodigy. Calm yourselves; I take upon myself the task to quiet those who are alarmed. In the face of such phenomena, we do not cross at all the boundaries of natural law.”[212]

Most assuredly, we do not. But can the scientists assert that they have in their possession the keys to such law? M. de Gasparin thinks he has. Let us see.

“I do not risk myself to explain anything; it is no business of mine.(?) To authenticate simple facts, and maintain a truth which science desires to smother, is all I pretend to do. Nevertheless, I cannot resist the temptation to point out to those who would treat us as so many illuminati or sorcerers, that the manifestation in question affords an interpretation which agrees with the ordinary laws of science.

“Suppose a fluid, emanating from the experimenters, and chiefly from some of them; suppose that the will determined the direction taken by the fluid, and you will readily understand the rotation and levitation of that one of the legs of the table toward which is ejected with every action of the will an excess of fluid. Suppose that the glass causes the[Pg 112] fluid to escape, and you will understand how a tumbler placed on the table can interrupt its rotation, and that the tumbler, placed on one of its sides, causes the accumulation of the fluid in the opposite side, which, in consequence of that, is lifted!”

If every one of the experimenters were clever mesmerizers, the explanation, minus certain important details, might be acceptable. So much for the power of human will on inanimate matter, according to the learned minister of Louis Philippe. But how about the intelligence exhibited by the table? What explanation does he give as to answers obtained through the agency of this table to questions? answers which could not possibly have been the “reflections of the brain” of those present (one of the favorite theories of de Gasparin), for their own ideas were quite the reverse of the very liberal philosophy given by this wonderful table? On this he is silent. Anything but spirits, whether human, satanic, or elemental.

Thus, the “simultaneous concentration of thought,” and the “accumulation of fluid,” will be found no better than “the unconscious cerebration” and “psychic force” of other scientists. We must try again; and we may predict beforehand that the thousand and one theories of science will prove of no avail until they will confess that this force, far from being a projection of the accumulated wills of the circle, is, on the contrary, a force which is abnormal, foreign to themselves, and supra-intelligent.

Professor Thury, who denies the theory of departed human spirits, rejects the Christian devil-doctrine, and shows himself unwilling to pronounce in favor of Crookes’s theory (the 6th), that of the hermetists and ancient theurgists, adopts the one, which, he says in his letter, is “the most prudent, and makes him feel strong against every one.” Moreover, he accepts as little of de Gasparin’s hypothesis of “unconscious will-power.” This is what he says in his work:

“As to the announced phenomena, such as the levitation without contact, and the displacement of furniture by invisible hands—unable to demonstrate their impossibility, a priori, no one has the right to treat as absurd the serious evidences which affirm their occurrence” (p. 9).

As to the theory proposed by M. de Gasparin, Thury judges it very severely. “While admitting that in the experiments of Valleyres,” says de Mirville, “the seat of the force might have been in the individual—and we say that it was intrinsic and extrinsic at the same time—and that the will might be generally necessary (p. 20), he repeats but what he had said in his preface, to wit: ‘M. de Gasparin presents us with crude facts, and the explanations following he offers for what they are worth. Breathe on them, and not many will be found standing after this. No,[Pg 113] very little, if anything, will remain of his explanations. As to facts, they are henceforth demonstrated’” (p. 10).

As Mr. Crookes tells us, Professor Thury refutes “all these explanations, and considers the effects due to a peculiar substance, fluid, or agent, pervading in a manner similar to the luminiferous ether of the scientists, all matter, nervous, organic or inorganic, which he terms psychode. He enters into full discussion as to the properties of this state, or form, or matter, and proposes the term ectenic force ... for the power exerted when the mind acts at a distance through the influence of the psychode.”[213]

Mr. Crookes remarks further, that “Professor Thury’s ectenic force, and his own ‘psychic force’ are evidently equivalent terms.”

We certainly could very easily demonstrate that the two forces are identical, moreover, the astral or sidereal light as explained by the alchemists and Eliphas Levi, in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie; and that, under the name of Akasa, or life-principle, this all-pervading force was known to the gymnosophists, Hindu magicians, and adepts of all countries, thousands of years ago; and, that it is still known to them, and used at present by the Thibetan lamas, fakirs, thaumaturgists of all nationalities, and even by many of the Hindu “jugglers.”

In many cases of trance, artificially induced by mesmerization, it is also quite possible, even quite probable, that it is the “spirit” of the subject which acts under the guidance of the operator’s will. But, if the medium remains conscious, and psycho-physical phenomena occur which indicate a directing intelligence, then, unless it be conceded that he is a “magician,” and can project his double, physical exhaustion can signify nothing more than nervous prostration. The proof that he is the passive instrument of unseen entities controlling occult potencies, seems conclusive. Even if Thury’s ectenic and Crookes’s psychic force are substantially of the same derivation, the respective discoverers seem to differ widely as to the properties and potencies of this force; while Professor Thury candidly admits that the phenomena are often produced by “wills not human,” and so, of course, gives a qualified endorsement to Mr. Crookes’s theory No. 6, the latter, admitting the genuineness of the phenomena, has as yet pronounced no definite opinion as to their cause.

Thus, we find that neither M. Thury, who investigated these manifestations with de Gasparin in 1854, nor Mr. Crookes, who conceded their undeniable genuineness in 1874, have reached anything definite. Both are chemists, physicists, and very learned men. Both have given all their attention to the puzzling question; and besides these two scientists[Pg 114] there were many others who, while coming to the same conclusion, have hitherto been as unable to furnish the world with a final solution. It follows then, that in twenty years none of the scientists have made a single step toward the unravelling of the mystery, which remains as immovable and impregnable as the walls of an enchanted castle in a fairy tale.

Would it be too impertinent to surmise that perhaps our modern scientists have got in what the French term un cercle vicieux? That, hampered by the weight of their materialism, and the insufficiency of what they name “the exact sciences” to demonstrate to them tangibly the existence of a spiritual universe, peopled and inhabited much more than our visible one, they are doomed forever to creep around inside that circle, unwilling rather than unable to penetrate beyond its enchanted ring, and explore it in its length and breadth? It is but prejudice which keeps them from making a compromise with well-established facts and seek alliance with such expert magnetists and mesmerizers as were Du Potet and Regazzoni.

“What, then, is produced from death?” inquired Socrates of Cebes. “Life,” was the reply.[214] ... Can the soul, since it is immortal, be anything else than imperishable?[215] The “seed cannot develop unless it is in part consumed,” says Prof. Lecomte; “it is not quickened unless it die,” says St. Paul.

A flower blossoms; then withers and dies. It leaves a fragrance behind, which, long after its delicate petals are but a little dust, still lingers in the air. Our material sense may not be cognizant of it, but it nevertheless exists. Let a note be struck on an instrument, and the faintest sound produces an eternal echo. A disturbance is created on the invisible waves of the shoreless ocean of space, and the vibration is never wholly lost. Its energy being once carried from the world of matter into the immaterial world will live for ever. And man, we are asked to believe, man, the living, thinking, reasoning entity, the indwelling deity of our nature’s crowning masterpiece, will evacuate his casket and be no more! Would the principle of continuity which exists even for the so-called inorganic matter, for a floating atom, be denied to the spirit, whose attributes are consciousness, memory, mind, LOVE! Really, the very idea is preposterous. The more we think and the more we learn, the more difficult it becomes for us to account for the atheism of the scientist. We may readily understand that a man ignorant of the laws of nature, unlearned in either chemistry or physics, may be fatally drawn into materialism through his very ignorance; his incapacity of[Pg 115] understanding the philosophy of the exact sciences, or drawing any inference by analogy from the visible to the invisible. A natural-born metaphysician, an ignorant dreamer, may awake abruptly and say to himself: “I dreamed it; I have no tangible proof of that which I imagined; it is all illusion,” etc. But for a man of science, acquainted with the characteristics of the universal energy, to maintain that life is merely a phenomenon of matter, a species of energy, amounts simply to a confession of his own incapability of analyzing and properly understanding the alpha and the omega even of that—matter.

Sincere skepticism as to the immortality of man’s soul is a malady; a malformation of the physical brain, and has existed in every age. As there are infants born with a caul upon their heads, so there are men who are incapable to their last hour of ridding themselves of that kind of caul evidently enveloping their organs of spirituality. But it is quite another feeling which makes them reject the possibility of spiritual and magical phenomena. The true name for that feeling is—vanity. “We can neither produce nor explain it—hence, it does not exist, and moreover, could never have existed.” Such is the irrefutable argument of our present-day philosophers. Some thirty years ago, E. Salverte startled the world of the “credulous” by his work, The Philosophy of Magic. The book claimed to unveil the whole of the miracles of the Bible as well as those of the Pagan sanctuaries. Its resumé ran thus: Long ages of observation; a great knowledge (for those days of ignorance) of natural sciences and philosophy; imposture; legerdemain; optics; phantasmagoria; exaggeration. Final and logical conclusion: Thaumaturgists, prophets, magicians, rascals, and knaves; the rest of the world, fools.

Among many other conclusive proofs, the reader can find him offering the following: “The enthusiastic disciples of Iamblichus affirmed that when he prayed, he was raised to the height of ten cubits from the ground; and dupes to the same metaphor, although Christians, have had the simplicity to attribute a similar miracle to St. Clare, and St. Francis of Assisi.”[216]

Hundreds of travellers claimed to have seen fakirs produce the same phenomena, and they were all thought either liars or hallucinated. But it was but yesterday that the same phenomenon was witnessed and endorsed by a well-known scientist; it was produced under test conditions; declared by Mr. Crookes to be genuine, and to be beyond the possibility of an illusion or a trick. And so was it manifested many a time before and attested by numerous witnesses, though the latter are now invariably disbelieved.

[Pg 116]

Peace to thy scientific ashes, O credulous Eusebe Salverte! Who knows but before the close of the present century popular wisdom will have invented a new proverb: “As incredibly credulous as a scientist.”

Why should it appear so impossible that when the spirit is once separated from its body, it may have the power to animate some evanescent form, created out of that magical “psychic” or “ectenic” or “ethereal” force, with the help of the elementaries who furnish it with the sublimated matter of their own bodies? The only difficulty is, to realize the fact that surrounding space is not an empty void, but a reservoir filled to repletion with the models of all things that ever were, that are, and that will be; and with beings of countless races, unlike our own. Seemingly supernatural facts—supernatural in that they openly contradict the demonstrated natural laws of gravitation, as in the above-mentioned instance of levitation—are recognized by many scientists. Every one who has dared to investigate with thoroughness has found himself compelled to admit their existence; only in their unsuccessful efforts to account for the phenomena on theories based on the laws of such forces as were already known, some of the highest representatives of science have involved themselves in inextricable difficulties!

In his Resumé de Mirville describes the argumentation of these adversaries of spiritualism as consisting of five paradoxes, which he terms distractions.

First distraction: that of Faraday, who explains the table phenomenon, by the table which pushes you “in consequence of the resistance which pushes it back.”

Second distraction: that of Babinet, explaining all the communications (by raps) which are produced, as he says, “in good faith and with perfect conscientiousness, correct in every way and sense—by ventriloquism,” the use of which faculty implies of necessity—bad faith.

Third distraction: That of Dr. Chevreuil, explaining the faculty of moving furniture without contact, by the preliminary acquisition of that faculty.

Fourth distraction: that of the French Institute and its members, who consent to accept the miracles, on condition that the latter will not contradict in any way those natural laws with which they are acquainted.

Fifth distraction: that of M. de Gasparin, introducing as a very simple and perfectly elementary phenomenon that which every one rejects, precisely because no one ever saw the like of it.[217]

While the great, world-known scientists indulge in such fantastic theories, some less known neurologists find an explanation for occult[Pg 117] phenomena of every kind in an abnormal effluvium resulting from epilepsy.[218] Another would treat mediums—and poets, too, we may infer—with assafœtida and ammonia,[219] and declare every one of the believers in spiritual manifestations lunatics and hallucinated mystics.

To the latter lecturer and professed pathologist is commended that sensible bit of advice to be found in the New Testament: “Physician, heal thyself.” Truly, no sane man would so sweepingly charge insanity upon four hundred and forty-six millions of people in various parts of the world, who believe in the intercourse of spirits with ourselves!

Considering all this, it remains to us but to wonder at the preposterous presumption of these men, who claim to be regarded by right of learning as the high priests of science, to classify a phenomenon they know nothing about. Surely, several millions of their countrymen and women, if deluded, deserve at least as much attention as potato-bugs or grasshoppers! But, instead of that, what do we find? The Congress of the United States, at the demand of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, enacts statutes for organization of National Insect Commissions; chemists are busying themselves in boiling frogs and bugs; geologists amuse their leisure by osteological surveys of armor-plated ganoids, and discuss the odontology of the various species of dinichtys; and entomologists suffer their enthusiasm to carry them to the length of supping on grasshoppers boiled, fried, and in soup.[220] Meanwhile, millions of Americans are either losing themselves in the maze of “crazy delusions,” according to the opinion of some of these very learned encyclopædists, or perishing physically from “nervous disorders,” brought on or brought out by mediumistic diathesis.

At one time, there was reason to hope that Russian scientists would have undertaken the task of giving the phenomena a careful and impartial study. A commission was appointed by the Imperial University of St. Petersburg, with Professor Mendeleyeff, the great physicist, at its head. The advertised programme provided for a series of forty seances to test mediums, and invitations were extended to all of this class who chose to come to the Russian capital and submit their powers to examination. As a rule they refused—doubtless from a prevision of the trap that had been laid for them. After eight sittings, upon a shallow pretext, and just when the manifestations were becoming interesting, the commission prejudged the case, and published a decision adverse to the claims of mediumism. Instead of pursuing dignified, scientific methods, they set spies to peep[Pg 118] through key-holes. Professor Mendeleyeff declared in a public lecture that spiritualism, or any such belief in our souls’ immortality, was a mixture of superstition, delusion, and fraud; adding that every “manifestation” of such nature—including mind-reading, trance, and other psychological phenomena, we must suppose—could be, and was produced by means of clever apparatus and machinery concealed under the clothing of mediums!

After such a public exhibition of ignorance and prejudice, Mr. Butlerof, Professor of Chemistry at the St. Petersburg University, and Mr. Aksakof, Counsellor of State in the same city, who had been invited to assist on the committee for mediums, became so disgusted that they withdrew. Having published their protests in the Russian papers, they were supported by the majority of the press, who did not spare either Mendeleyeff or his officious committee with their sarcasms. The public acted fairly in that case. One hundred and thirty names, of the most influential persons of the best society of St. Petersburg, many of them no spiritualists at all, but simply investigators, added their signatures to the well-deserved protest.

The inevitable result of such a procedure followed; universal attention was drawn to the question of spiritualism; private circles were organized throughout the empire; some of the most liberal journals began to discuss the subject; and, as we write, a new commission is being organized to finish the interrupted task.

But now—as a matter of course—they will do their duty less than ever. They have a better pretext than they ever had in the pretended exposé of the medium Slade, by Professor Lankester, of London. True, to the evidence of one scientist and his friend,—Messrs. Lankester and Donkin—the accused opposed the testimony of Wallace, Crookes, and a host of others, which totally nullifies an accusation based merely on circumstantial evidence and prejudice. As the London Spectator very pertinently observes:

“It is really a pure superstition and nothing else to assume that we are so fully acquainted with the laws of nature, that even carefully examined facts, attested by an experienced observer, ought to be cast aside as utterly unworthy of credit, only because they do not, at first sight, seem to be in keeping with what is most clearly known already. To assume, as Professor Lankester appears to do, that because there are fraud and credulity in plenty to be found in connection with these facts—as there is, no doubt, in connection with all nervous diseases—fraud and credulity will account for all the carefully attested statements of accurate and conscientious observers, is to saw away at the very branch of the tree of knowledge on which inductive science necessarily rests, and to bring the whole structure toppling to the ground.”

[Pg 119]

But what matters all this to scientists? The torrent of superstition, which, according to them, sweeps away millions of bright intellects in its impetuous course, cannot reach them. The modern deluge called spiritualism is unable to affect their strong minds; and the muddy waves of the flood must expend their raging fury without wetting even the soles of their boots. Surely it must be but traditional stubbornness on the part of the Creator that prevents him from confessing what a poor chance his miracles have in our day in blinding professed scientists. By this time even He ought to know and take notice that long ago they decided to write on the porticoes of their universities and colleges:

Science commands that God shall not
Do miracles upon this spot![221]

Both the infidel spiritualists and the orthodox Roman Catholics seem to have leagued themselves this year against the iconoclastic pretensions of materialism. Increase of skepticism has developed of late a like increase of credulity. The champions of the Bible “divine” miracles rival the panegyrist’s mediumistic phenomena, and the middle ages revive in the nineteenth century. Once more we see the Virgin Mary resume her epistolary correspondence with the faithful children of her church; and while the “angel friends” scribble messages to spiritualists through their mediums, the “mother of God” drops letters direct from heaven to earth. The shrine of Notre Dame de Lourdes has turned into a spiritualistic cabinet for “materializations,” while the cabinets of popular American mediums are transformed into sacred shrines, into which Mohammed, Bishop Polk, Joan of Arc and other aristocratic spirits from over the “dark river,” having descended, “materialize” in full light. And if the Virgin Mary is seen taking her daily walk in the woods about Lourdes in full human form, why not the Apostle of Islam, and the late Bishop of Louisiana? Either both “miracles” are possible, or both kinds of these manifestations, the “divine” as well as the “spiritual,” are arrant impostures. Time alone will prove which; but meanwhile, as science refuses the loan of her magic lamp to illuminate these mysteries, common people must go stumbling on whether they be mired or not.

The recent “miracles” at Lourdes having been unfavorably discussed in the London papers, Monsignor Capel communicates to the Times the views of the Roman Church in the following terms:

[Pg 120]

“As to the miraculous cures which are effected, I would refer your readers to the calm, judicious work, La Grotte de Lourdes, written by Dr. Dozous, an eminent resident practitioner, inspector of epidemic diseases for the district, and medical assistant of the Court of Justice. He prefaces a number of detailed cases of miraculous cures, which he says he has studied with great care and perseverance, with these words: ‘I declare that these cures effected at the Sanctuary of Lourdes by means of the water of the fountain, have established their supernatural character in the eyes of men of good faith. I ought to confess that without these cures, my mind, little prone to listen to miraculous explanations of any kind, would have had great difficulty in accepting even this fact (the apparition), remarkable as it is from so many points of view. But the cures, of which I have been so often an ocular witness, have given to my mind a light which does not permit me to ignore the importance of the visits of Bernadette to the Grotto, and the reality of the apparitions with which she was favored.’ The testimony of a distinguished medical man, who has carefully watched from the beginning Bernadette, and the miraculous cures at the Grotto, is at least worthy of respectful consideration. I may add, that the vast number of those who come to the Grotto do so to repent of their sins, to increase their piety, to pray for the regeneration of their country, to profess publicly their belief in the Son of God and his Immaculate Mother. Many come to be cured of bodily ailments; and on the testimony of eye-witnesses several return home freed from their sickness. To upbraid with non-belief, as does your article, those who use also the waters of the Pyrenees, is as reasonable as to charge with unbelief the magistrates who inflict punishment on the peculiar people for neglecting to have medical aid. Health obliged me to pass the winters of 1860 to 1867 at Pau. This gave me the opportunity of making the most minute inquiry into the apparition at Lourdes. After frequent and lengthened examinations of Bernadette and of some of the miracles effected, I am convinced that, if facts are to be received on human testimony, then has the apparition at Lourdes every claim to be received as an undeniable fact. It is, however, no part of the Catholic faith, and may be accepted or rejected by any Catholic without the least praise or condemnation.”

Let the reader observe the sentence we have italicized. This makes it clear that the Catholic Church, despite her infallibility and her liberal postage convention with the Kingdom of Heaven, is content to accept even the validity of divine miracles upon human testimony. Now when we turn to the report of Mr. Huxley’s recent New York lectures on evolution, we find him saying that it is upon “human historical evidence that we depend for the greater part of our knowledge for the doings of[Pg 121] the past.” In a lecture on Biology, he has said “ ... every man who has the interest of truth at heart must earnestly desire that every well-founded and just criticism that can be made should be made; but it is essential ... that the critic should know what he is talking about.” An aphorism that its author should recall when he undertakes to pronounce upon psychological subjects. Add this to his views, as expressed above, and who could ask a better platform upon which to meet him?

Here we have a representative materialist, and a representative Catholic prelate, enunciating an identical view of the sufficiency of human testimony to prove facts that it suits the prejudices of each to believe. After this, what need for either the student of occultism, or even the spiritualist, to hunt about for endorsements of the argument they have so long and so persistently advanced, that the psychological phenomena of ancient and modern thaumaturgists being superabundantly proven upon human testimony must be accepted as facts? Church and College having appealed to the tribunal of human evidence, they cannot deny the rest of mankind an equal privilege. One of the fruits of the recent agitation in London of the subject of mediumistic phenomena, is the expression of some remarkably liberal views on the part of the secular press. “In any case, we are for admitting spiritualism to a place among tolerated beliefs, and letting it alone accordingly,” says the London Daily News, in 1876. “It has many votaries who are as intelligent as most of us, and to whom any obvious and palpable defect in the evidence meant to convince must have been obvious and palpable long ago. Some of the wisest men in the world believed in ghosts, and would have continued to do so even though half-a-dozen persons in succession had been convicted of frightening people with sham goblins.”

It is not for the first time in the history of the world, that the invisible world has to contend against the materialistic skepticism of soul-blind Sadducees. Plato deplores such an unbelief, and refers to this pernicious tendency more than once in his works.

From Kapila, the Hindu philosopher, who many centuries before Christ demurred to the claim of the mystic Yogins, that in ecstasy a man has the power of seeing Deity face to face and conversing with the “highest” beings, down to the Voltaireans of the eighteenth century, who laughed at everything that was held sacred by other people, each age had its unbelieving Thomases. Did they ever succeed in checking the progress of truth? No more than the ignorant bigots who sat in judgment over Galileo checked the progress of the earth’s rotation. No exposures whatever are able to vitally affect the stability or instability of a belief which humanity inherited from the first races of men, those, who—if we[Pg 122] can believe in the evolution of spiritual man as in that of the physical one—had the great truth from the lips of their ancestors, the gods of their fathers, “that were on the other side of the flood.” The identity of the Bible with the legends of the Hindu sacred books and the cosmogonies of other nations, must be demonstrated at some future day. The fables of the mythopœic ages will be found to have but allegorized the greatest truths of geology and anthropology. It is in these ridiculously expressed fables that science will have to look for her “missing links.”

Otherwise, whence such strange “coincidences” in the respective histories of nations and peoples so widely thrown apart? Whence that identity of primitive conceptions which, fables and legends though they are termed now, contain in them nevertheless the kernel of historical facts, of a truth thickly overgrown with the husks of popular embellishment, but still a truth? Compare only this verse of Genesis vi.: “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.... There were giants in the earth in those days,” etc., with this part of the Hindu cosmogony, in the Vedas, which speaks of the descent of the Brahmans. The first Brahman complains of being alone among all his brethren without a wife. Notwithstanding that the Eternal advises him to devote his days solely to the study of the Sacred Knowledge (Veda), the first-born of mankind insists. Provoked at such ingratitude, the eternal gave Brahman a wife of the race of the Daints, or giants, from whom all the Brahmans maternally descend. Thus the entire Hindu priesthood is descended, on the one hand, from the superior spirits (the sons of God), and from Daintany, a daughter of the earthly giants, the primitive men.[222] “And they bare children to them; the same became mighty men which were of old; men of renown.”[223]

The same is found in the Scandinavian cosmogonical fragment. In the Edda is given the description to Gangler by Har, one of the three informants (Har, Jafuhar, and Tredi) of the first man, called Bur, “the father of Bör, who took for wife Besla, a daughter of the giant Bölthara, of the race of the primitive giants.” The full and interesting narrative may be found in the Prose Edda, sects. 4-8, in Mallett’s Northern Antiquities.[224]

The same groundwork underlies the Grecian fables about the Titans; and may be found in the legend of the Mexicans—the four successive races of Popol-Vuh. It constitutes one of the many ends to be found in[Pg 123] the entangled and seemingly inextricable skein of mankind, viewed as a psychological phenomenon. Belief in supernaturalism would be otherwise inexplicable. To say that it sprang up, and grew and developed throughout the countless ages, without either cause or the least firm basis to rest upon, but merely as an empty fancy, would be to utter as great an absurdity as the theological doctrine that the universe sprang into creation out of nothing.

It is too late now to kick against an evidence which manifests itself as in the full glare of noon. Liberal, as well as Christian papers, and the organs of the most advanced scientific authorities, begin to protest unanimously against the dogmatism and narrow prejudices of sciolism. The Christian World, a religious paper, adds its voice to that of the unbelieving London press. Following is a good specimen of its common sense:

“If a medium,” it says,[225] “can be shown ever so conclusively to be an impostor, we shall still object to the disposition manifested by persons of some authority in scientific matters, to pooh-pooh and knock on the head all careful inquiry into those subjects of which Mr. Barrett took note in his paper before the British Association. Because spiritualists have committed themselves to many absurdities, that is no reason why the phenomena to which they appeal should be scouted as unworthy of examination. They may be mesmeric, or clairvoyant, or something else. But let our wise men tell us what they are, and not snub us, as ignorant people too often snub inquiring youth, by the easy but unsatisfactory apothegm, “Little children should not ask questions.”

Thus the time has come when the scientists have lost all right to be addressed with the Miltonian verse, “O thou who, for the testimony of truth, hast borne universal reproach!” Sad degeneration, and one that recalls the exclamation of that “doctor of physic” mentioned one hundred and eighty years ago by Dr. Henry More, and who, upon hearing the story told of the drummer of Tedworth and of Ann Walker, “cryed out presently, If this be true, I have been in a wrong box all this time, and must begin my account anew.”[226]

But in our century, notwithstanding Huxley’s endorsement of the value of “human testimony,” even Dr. Henry More has become “an enthusiast and a visionary, both of which, united in the same person, constitute a canting madman.”[227]

[Pg 124]

What psychology has long lacked to make its mysterious laws better understood and applied to the ordinary as well as extraordinary affairs of life, is not facts. These it has had in abundance. The need has been for their recording and classification—for trained observers and competent analysts. From the scientific body these ought to have been supplied. If error has prevailed and superstition run riot these many centuries throughout Christendom, it is the misfortune of the common people, the reproach of science. The generations have come and gone, each furnishing its quota of martyrs to conscience and moral courage, and psychology is little better understood in our day than it was when the heavy hand of the Vatican sent those brave unfortunates to their untimely doom and branded their memories with the stigma of heresy and sorcery.

[Pg 125]


“Ich bin der geist der stets verneint.”
(I am the spirit which still denies.)
—(Mephisto in Faust.)

“The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not; neither knoweth Him.”—Gospel according to John, xiv. 17.

“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.”

“Mere intellectual enlightenment cannot recognize the spiritual. As the sun puts out a fire, so spirit puts out the eyes of mere intellect.”—W. Howitt.

There has been an infinite confusion of names to express one and the same thing.

The chaos of the ancients; the Zoroastrian sacred fire, or the Antusbyrum of the Parsees; the Hermes-fire; the Elmes-fire of the ancient Germans; the lightning of Cybelè; the burning torch of Apollo; the flame on the altar of Pan; the inextinguishable fire in the temple on the Acropolis, and in that of Vesta; the fire-flame of Pluto’s helm; the brilliant sparks on the hats of the Dioscuri, on the Gorgon head, the helm of Pallas, and the staff of Mercury; the πύρ ἄσβεστος; the Egyptian Phtha, or Ra; the Grecian Zeus Cataibates (the descending);[228] the pentacostal fire-tongues; the burning bush of Moses; the pillar of fire of the Exodus, and the “burning lamp” of Abram; the eternal fire of the “bottomless pit;” the Delphic oracular vapors; the Sidereal light of the Rosicrucians; the Akasa of the Hindu adepts; the Astral light of Eliphas Levi; the nerve-aura and the fluid of the magnetists; the od of Reichenbach; the fire-globe, or meteor-cat of Babinet; the Psychod and ectenic force of Thury; the psychic force of Sergeant Cox and Mr. Crookes; the atmospheric magnetism of some naturalists; galvanism; and finally, electricity, are but various names for many different manifestations, or effects of the same mysterious, all-pervading cause—the Greek Archeus, or Αρχαῖος.

Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton, in his Coming Race, describes it as the VRIL,[229] used by the subterranean populations, and allowed his readers to take it[Pg 126] for a fiction. “These people,” he says, “consider that in the vril they had arrived at the unity in natural energic agencies;” and proceeds to show that Faraday intimated them “under the more cautious term of correlation,” thus:

“I have long held an opinion, almost amounting to a conviction, in common, I believe, with many other lovers of natural knowledge, that the various forms under which the forces of matter are made manifest, HAVE ONE COMMON ORIGIN; or, in other words, are so directly related and naturally dependent, that they are convertible, as it were, into one another, and possess equivalents of power in their action.”

Absurd and unscientific as may appear our comparison of a fictitious vril invented by the great novelist, and the primal force of the equally great experimentalist, with the kabalistic astral light, it is nevertheless the true definition of this force. Discoveries are constantly being made to corroborate the statement thus boldly put forth. Since we began to write this part of our book, an announcement has been made in a number of papers of the supposed discovery of a new force by Mr. Edison, the electrician, of Newark, New Jersey, which force seems to have little in common with electricity, or galvanism, except the principle of conductivity. If demonstrated, it may remain for a long time under some pseudonymous scientific name; but, nevertheless, it will be but one of the numerous family of children brought forth from the commencement of time by our kabalistic mother, the Astral Virgin. In fact, the discoverer says that, “it is as distinct, and has as regular laws as heat, magnetism, or electricity.” The journal which contains the first account of the discovery adds that, “Mr. Edison thinks that it exists in connection with heat, and that it can also be generated by independent and as yet undiscovered means.”

Another of the most startling of recent discoveries, is the possibility of annihilating distance between human voices—by means of the telephone (distance-sounder), an instrument invented by Professor A. Graham Bell. This possibility, first suggested by the little “lovers’ telegraph,” consisting of small tin cups with vellum and drug-twine apparatus, by which a conversation can be carried on at a distance of two hundred feet, has developed into the telephone, which will become the wonder of this age. A long conversation has taken place between Boston and Cambridgeport by telegraph; “every word being distinctly heard and perfectly understood, and the modulations of voices being quite distinguishable,” according to the official report. The voice is seized upon, so to say, and held in form by a magnet, and the sound-wave transmitted by electricity acting in unison and co-operating with the magnet. The whole success depends upon a perfect control of the electric currents and the[Pg 127] power of the magnets used, with which the former must co-operate. “The invention,” reports the paper, “may be rudely described as a sort of trumpet, over the bell-mouth of which is drawn a delicate membrane, which, when the voice is thrown into the tube, swells outward in proportion to the force of the sound-wave. To the outer side of the membrane is attached a piece of metal, which, as the membrane swells outward, connects with a magnet, and this, with the electric circuit, is controlled by the operator. By some principle, not yet fully understood, the electric current transmits the sound-wave just as delivered by the voice in the trumpet, and the listener at the other end of the line, with a twin or fac-simile trumpet at his ear, hears every word distinctly, and readily detects the modulations of the speaker’s voice.”

Thus, in the presence of such wonderful discoveries of our age, and the further magical possibilities lying latent and yet undiscovered in the boundless realm of nature, and further, in view of the great probability that Edison’s Force and Professor Graham Bell’s Telephone may unsettle, if not utterly upset all our ideas of the imponderable fluids, would it not be well for such persons as may be tempted to traverse our statements, to wait and see whether they will be corroborated or refuted by further discoveries.

Only in connection with these discoveries, we may, perhaps, well remind our readers of the many hints to be found in the ancient histories as to a certain secret in the possession of the Egyptian priesthood, who could instantly communicate, during the celebration of the Mysteries, from one temple to another, even though the former were at Thebes and the latter at the other end of the country; the legends attributing it, as a matter of course, to the “invisible tribes” of the air, which carry messages for mortals. The author of Pre-Adamite Man quotes an instance, which being given merely on his own authority, and he seeming uncertain whether the story comes from Macrinus or some other writer, may be taken for what it is worth. He found good evidence, he says, during his stay in Egypt, that “one of the Cleopatras (?) sent news by a wire to all the cities, from Heliopolis to Elephantine, on the Upper Nile.”[230]

It is not so long since Professor Tyndall ushered us into a new world, peopled with airy shapes of the most ravishing beauty.

“The discovery consists,” he says, “in subjecting the vapors of volatile liquids to the action of concentrated sunlight, or to the concentrated beam of the electric light.” The vapors of certain nitrites, iodides, and acids are subjected to the action of the light in an experimental tube, lying horizontally, and so arranged that the axis of the tube and that of[Pg 128] the parallel beams issuing from the lamp are coincident. The vapors form clouds of gorgeous tints, and arrange themselves into the shapes of vases, of bottles and cones, in nests of six or more; of shells, of tulips, roses, sunflowers, leaves, and of involved scrolls. “In one case,” he tells us, “the cloud-bud grew rapidly into a serpent’s head; a mouth was formed, and from the cloud, a cord of cloud resembling a tongue was discharged.” Finally, to cap the climax of marvels, “once it positively assumed the form of a fish, with eyes, gills, and feelers. The twoness of the animal form was displayed throughout, and no disk, coil, or speck existed on one side that did not exist on the other.”

These phenomena may possibly be explained in part by the mechanical action of a beam of light, which Mr. Crookes has recently demonstrated. For instance, it is a supposable case, that the beams of light may have constituted a horizontal axis, about which the disturbed molecules of the vapors gathered into the forms of globes and spindles. But how account for the fish, the serpent’s head, the vases, the flowers of different varieties, the shells? This seems to offer a dilemma to science as baffling as the meteor-cat of Babinet. We do not learn that Tyndall ventured as absurd an explanation of his extraordinary phenomena as that of the Frenchman about his.

Those who have not given attention to the subject may be surprised to find how much was known in former days of that all-pervading, subtile principle which has recently been baptized The Universal Ether.

Before proceeding, we desire once more to enunciate in two categorical propositions, what was hinted at before. These propositions were demonstrated laws with the ancient theurgists.

I. The so-called miracles, to begin with Moses and end with Cagliostro, when genuine, were as de Gasparin very justly insinuates in his work on the phenomena, “perfectly in accordance with natural law;” hence—no miracles. Electricity and magnetism were unquestionably used in the production of some of the prodigies; but now, the same as then, they are put in requisition by every sensitive, who is made to use unconsciously these powers by the peculiar nature of his or her organization, which serves as a conductor for some of these imponderable fluids, as yet so imperfectly known to science. This force is the prolific parent of numberless attributes and properties, many, or rather, most of which, are as yet unknown to modern physics.

II. The phenomena of natural magic to be witnessed in Siam, India, Egypt, and other Oriental countries, bear no relationship whatever to sleight of hand; the one being an absolute physical effect, due to the action of occult natural forces, the other, a mere deceptive result[Pg 129] obtained by dexterous manipulations supplemented with confederacy.[231]

The thaumaturgists of all periods, schools, and countries, produced their wonders, because they were perfectly familiar with the imponderable—in their effects—but otherwise perfectly tangible waves of the astral light. They controlled the currents by guiding them with their will-power. The wonders were both of physical and psychological character; the former embracing effects produced upon material objects, the latter the mental phenomena of Mesmer and his successors. This class has been represented in our time by two illustrious men, Du Potet and Regazzoni, whose wonderful powers were well attested in France and other countries. Mesmerism is the most important branch of magic; and its phenomena are the effects of the universal agent which underlies all magic and has produced at all ages the so-called miracles.

The ancients called it Chaos; Plato and the Pythagoreans named it the Soul of the World. According to the Hindus, the Deity in the shape of Æther pervades all things. It is the invisible, but, as we have said before, too tangible Fluid. Among other names this universal Proteus—or “the nebulous Almighty,” as de Mirville calls it in derision—was termed by the theurgists “the living fire,”[232] the “Spirit of Light,” and Magnes. This last appellation indicates its magnetic properties and shows its magical nature. For, as truly expressed by one of its enemies—μάγος and μάγνης are two branches growing from the same trunk, and shooting forth the same resultants.

Magnetism is a word for the derivation of which we have to look to an incredibly early epoch. The stone called magnet is believed by many to owe its name to Magnesia, a city or district in Thessaly, where these stones were found in quantity. We believe, however, the opinion of the Hermetists to be the correct one. The word Magh, magus, is derived from the Sanskrit Mahaji, the great or wise (the anointed by the divine wisdom). “Eumolpus is the mythic founder of the Eumolpidæ[Pg 130] (priests); the priests traced their own wisdom to the Divine Intelligence.”[233] The various cosmogonies show that the Archæal Universal Soul was held by every nation as the “mind” of the Demiurgic Creator, the Sophia of the Gnostics, or the Holy Ghost as a female principle. As the Magi derived their name from it, so the Magnesian stone or Magnet was called in their honor, for they were the first to discover its wonderful properties. Their temples dotted the country in all directions, and among these were some temples of Hercules,[234]—hence the stone, when it once became known that the priests used it for their curative and magical purposes, received the name of the Magnesian or Heraclean stone. Socrates, speaking of it, remarks: “Euripides calls it the Magnesian stone, but the common people, the Heraclean.[235]” It was the country and stone which were called after the Magi, not the Magi after one or the other. Pliny informs us that the wedding-ring among the Romans was magnetized by the priests before the ceremony. The old Pagan historians are careful to keep silent on certain Mysteries of the “wise” (Magi) and Pausanias was warned in a dream, he says, not to unveil the holy rites of the temple of Demeter and Persephoneia at Athens.[236]

Modern science, after having ineffectually denied animal magnetism, has found herself forced to accept it as a fact. It is now a recognized property of human and animal organization; as to its psychological, occult influence, the Academies battle with it, in our century, more ferociously than ever. It is the more to be regretted and even wondered at, as the representatives of “exact science” are unable to either explain or even offer us anything like a reasonable hypothesis for the undeniable mysterious potency contained in a simple magnet. We begin to have daily proofs that these potencies underlie the theurgic mysteries, and therefore might perhaps explain the occult faculties possessed by ancient and modern thaumaturgists as well as a good many of their most astounding achievements. Such were the gifts transmitted by Jesus to some of[Pg 131] his disciples. At the moment of his miraculous cures, the Nazarene felt a power issuing from him. Socrates, in his dialogue with Theages,[237] telling him of his familiar god (demon), and his power of either imparting his (Socrates’) wisdom to his disciples or preventing it from benefiting those he associates with, brings the following instance in corroboration of his words: “I will tell you, Socrates,” says Aristides, “a thing incredible, indeed, by the gods, but true. I made a proficiency when I associated with you, even if I was only in the same house, though not in the same room; but more so, when I was in the same room ... and much more when I looked at you.... But I made by far the greatest proficiency when I sat near you and touched you.”

This is the modern magnetism and mesmerism of Du Potet and other masters, who, when they have subjected a person to their fluidic influence, can impart to them all their thoughts even at a distance, and with an irresistible power force their subject to obey their mental orders. But how far better was this psychic force known to the ancient philosophers! We can glean some information on that subject from the earliest sources. Pythagoras taught his disciples that God is the universal mind diffused through all things, and that this mind by the sole virtue of its universal sameness could be communicated from one object to another and be made to create all things by the sole will-power of man. With the ancient Greeks, Kurios was the god-Mind (Nous). “Now Koros (Kurios) signifies the pure and unmixed nature of intellect—wisdom,” says Plato.[238] Kurios is Mercury, the Divine Wisdom, and “Mercury is the Sol” (Sun),[239] from whom Thaut—Hermes—received this divine wisdom, which, in his turn, he imparted to the world in his books. Hercules is also the Sun—the celestial storehouse of the universal magnetism;[240] or rather Hercules is the magnetic light which, when having made its way through the “opened eye of heaven,” enters into the regions of our planet and thus becomes the Creator. Hercules passes through the twelve labors, the valiant Titan! He is called “Father of All” and[Pg 132] “self-born” “(autophues).”[241] Hercules, the Sun, is killed by the Devil, Typhon,[242] and so is Osiris, who is the father and brother of Horus, and at the same time is identical with him; and we must not forget that the magnet was called the “bone of Horus,” and iron the “bone of Typhon.” He is called “Hercules Invictus,” only when he descends to Hades (the subterranean garden), and plucking the “golden apples” from the “tree of life,” slays the dragon.[243] The rough Titanic power, the “lining” of every sun-god, opposes its force of blind matter to the divine magnetic spirit, which tries to harmonize everything in nature.

All the sun-gods, with their symbol, the visible sun, are the creators of physical nature only. The spiritual is the work of the Highest God—the Concealed, the Central, Spiritual Sun, and of his Demiurge—the Divine Mind of Plato, and the Divine Wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus[244]—the wisdom effused from Oulom or Kronos.

“After the distribution of pure Fire, in the Samothracian Mysteries, a new life began.”[245] This was the “new birth,” that is alluded to by Jesus, in his nocturnal conversation with Nicodemus. “Initiated into the most blessed of all Mysteries, being ourselves pure ... we become just and holy with wisdom.”[246] “He breathed on them and saith unto them, ‘Take the Holy Pneuma.’”[247] And this simple act of will-power was sufficient to impart vaticination in its nobler and most perfect form if both the initiator and the initiated were worthy of it. To deride this gift, even in its present aspect, “as the corrupt offspring and lingering remains of an ignorant age of superstition, and hastily to condemn it as unworthy of sober investigation, would be as unphilosophical as it is wrong,” remarks the Rev. J. B. Gross. “To remove the veil which hides our vision from the future, has been attempted—in all ages of the world; and therefore the propensity to pry into the lap of time, contemplated as one of the faculties of human mind, comes recommended to us under the sanction of God.... Zuinglius, the Swiss reformer, attested the comprehensiveness of his faith in the providence of the Supreme Being, in the cosmopolitan doctrine that the Holy Ghost was not entirely excluded from the more worthy portion of the heathen world. Admitting its truth, we cannot[Pg 133] easily conceive a valid reason why a heathen, thus favored, should not be capable of true prophecy.”[248]

Now, what is this mystic, primordial substance? In the book of Genesis, at the beginning of the first chapter, it is termed the “face of the waters,” said to have been incubated by the “Spirit of God.” Job mentions, in chap. xxvi., 5, that “dead things are formed from under the waters, and inhabitants thereof.” In the original text, instead of “dead things,” it is written dead Rephaim (giants, or mighty primitive men), from whom “Evolution” may one day trace our present race. In the Egyptian mythology, Kneph the Eternal unrevealed God is represented by a snake-emblem of eternity encircling a water-urn, with his head hovering over the waters, which it incubates with his breath. In this case the serpent is the Agathodaimon, the good spirit; in its opposite aspect it is the Kakothodaimon—the bad one. In the Scandinavian Eddas, the honey-dew—the food of the gods and of the creative, busy Yggdrasill—bees—falls during the hours of night, when the atmosphere is impregnated with humidity; and in the Northern mythologies, as the passive principle of creation, it typifies the creation of the universe out of water; this dew is the astral light in one of its combinations and possesses creative as well as destructive properties. In the Chaldean legend of Berosus, Oännes or Dagon, the man-fish, instructing the people, shows the infant world created out of water and all beings originating from this prima materia. Moses teaches that only earth and water can bring a living soul; and we read in the Scriptures that herbs could not grow until the Eternal caused it to rain upon earth. In the Mexican Popol-Vuh man is created out of mud or clay (terre glaise), taken from under the water. Brahma creates Lomus, the great Muni (or first man), seated on his lotus, only after having called into being, spirits, who thus enjoyed among mortals a priority of existence, and he creates him out of water, air, and earth. Alchemists claim that primordial or pre-Adamic earth when reduced to its first substance is in its second stage of transformation like clear-water, the first being the alkahest[249] proper. This primordial substance is said to contain within itself the essence of all that goes to make up man; it has not only all the elements of his physical being, but even the “breath of life” itself in a latent state, ready to be awakened. This it derives from the “incubation” of the Spirit of God upon the face of the waters—chaos; in fact, this substance is chaos itself. From this it was that Paracelsus claimed to be able to make his “homunculi;” and[Pg 134] this is why Thales, the great natural philosopher, maintained that water was the principle of all things in nature.

What is the primordial Chaos but Æther? The modern Ether; not such as is recognized by our scientists, but such as it was known to the ancient philosophers, long before the time of Moses; Ether, with all its mysterious and occult properties, containing in itself the germs of universal creation; Ether, the celestial virgin, the spiritual mother of every existing form and being, from whose bosom as soon as “incubated” by the Divine Spirit, are called into existence Matter and Life, Force and Action. Electricity, magnetism, heat, light, and chemical action are so little understood even now that fresh facts are constantly widening the range of our knowledge. Who knows where ends the power of this protean giant—Ether; or whence its mysterious origin?—Who, we mean, that denies the spirit that works in it and evolves out of it all visible forms?

It is an easy task to show that the cosmogonical legends all over the world are based on a knowledge by the ancients of those sciences which have allied themselves in our days to support the doctrine of evolution; and that further research may demonstrate that they were far better acquainted with the fact of evolution itself, embracing both its physical and spiritual aspects, than we are now. With the old philosophers, evolution was a universal theorem, a doctrine embracing the whole, and an established principle; while our modern evolutionists are enabled to present us merely with speculative theoretics; with particular, if not wholly negative theorems. It is idle for the representatives of our modern wisdom to close the debate and pretend that the question is settled, merely because the obscure phraseology of the Mosaic account clashes with the definite exegesis of “exact science.”

One fact at least is proved: there is not a cosmogonical fragment, to whatever nation it may belong, but proves by this universal allegory of water and the spirit brooding over it, that no more than our modern physicists did any of them hold the universe to have sprung into existence out of nothing; for all their legends begin with that period when nascent vapors and Cimmerian darkness lay brooding over a fluid mass ready to start on its journey of activity at the first flutter of the breath of Him, who is the Unrevealed One. Him they felt, if they saw Him not. Their spiritual intuitions were not so darkened by the subtile sophistry of the forecoming ages as ours are now. If they talked less of the Silurian age slowly developing into the Mammalian, and if the Cenozoic time was only recorded by various allegories of the primitive man—the Adam of our race—it is but a negative proof after all that their “wise men” and leaders did not know of these successive periods as well as we do now.[Pg 135] In the days of Democritus and Aristotle, the cycle had already begun to enter on its downward path of progress. And if these two philosophers could discuss so well the atomic theory and trace the atom to its material or physical point, their ancestors may have gone further still and followed its genesis far beyond that limit where Mr. Tyndall and others seem rooted to the spot, not daring to cross the line of the “Incomprehensible.” The lost arts are a sufficient proof that if even their achievements in physiography are now doubted, because of the unsatisfactory writings of their physicists and naturalists,—on the other hand their practical knowledge in phytochemistry and mineralogy far exceeded our own. Furthermore, they might have been perfectly acquainted with the physical history of our globe without publishing their knowledge to the ignorant masses in those ages of religious Mysteries.

Fac-simile of amulet?

Therefore, it is not only from the Mosaic books that we mean to adduce proof for our further arguments. The ancient Jews got all their knowledge—religious as well as profane—from the nations with which we see them mixed up from the earliest periods. Even the oldest of all sciences, their kabalistic “secret doctrine,” may be traced in each detail to its primeval source, Upper India, or Turkestan, far before the time of a distinct separation between the Aryan and Semitic nations. The King Solomon so celebrated by posterity, as Josephus the historian says,[250] for his magical skill, got his secret learning from India through Hiram, the king of Ophir, and perhaps Sheba. His ring, commonly known as “Solomon’s seal,” so celebrated for the potency of its sway over the various kinds of genii and demons, in all the popular legends, is equally of Hindu origin. Writing on the pretentious and abominable skill of the “devil-worshippers” of Travancore, the Rev. Samuel Mateer, of the London Missionary Society, claims at the same time to be in possession of a very old manuscript volume of magical incantations and spells in the Malayâlim language, giving directions for effecting a great variety of purposes. Of course he adds, that “many of these are fearful in their malignity and obscenity,” and gives in his work the fac-simile of some amulets bearing the magical figures and designs on them. We find among them one with the following legend: “To remove trembling[Pg 136] arising from demoniacal possession—write this figure on a plant that has milky juice, and drive a nail through it; the trembling will cease.”[251] The figure is the identical Solomon’s seal, or double triangle of the Kabalists. Did the Hindu get it from the Jewish kabalist, or the latter from India, by inheritance from their great king-kabalist, the wise Solomon?[252] But we will leave this trifling dispute to continue the more interesting question of the astral light, and its unknown properties.

Admitting, then, that this mythical agent is Ether, we will proceed to see what and how much of it is known to science.

With respect to the various effects of the different solar rays, Robert Hunt, F.R.S., remarks, in his Researches on Light in its Chemical Relations, that:

“Those rays which give the most light—the yellow and the orange rays—will not produce change of color in the chloride of silver;” while “those rays which have the least illuminating power—the blue and violet—produce the greatest change, and in exceedingly short time.... The[Pg 137] yellow glasses obstruct scarcely any light; the blue glasses may be so dark as to admit of the permeation of a very small quantity.”

And still we see that under the blue ray both vegetable and animal life manifest an inordinate development, while under the yellow ray it is proportionately arrested. How is it possible to account for this satisfactorily upon any other hypothesis than that both animal and vegetable life are differently modified electrico-magnetic phenomena, as yet unknown in their fundamental principles?

Mr. Hunt finds that the undulatory theory does not account for the results of his experiments. Sir David Brewster, in his Treatise on Optics, showing that “the colors of vegetable life arise ... from a specific attraction which the particles of these bodies exercise over the differently-colored rays of light,” and that “it is by the light of the sun that the colored juices of plants are elaborated, that the colors of bodies are changed, etc....” remarks that it is not easy to allow “that such effects can be produced by the mere vibration of an ethereal medium.” And he is forced, he says, “by this class of facts, to reason as if light was material(?).” Professor Josiah P. Cooke, of Harvard University, says that he “cannot agree ... with those who regard the wave-theory of light as an established principle of science.”[253] Herschel’s doctrine, that the intensity of light, in effect of each undulation, “is inversely as the square of the distance from the luminous body,” if correct, damages a good deal if it does not kill the undulatory theory. That he is right, was proved repeatedly by experiments with photometers; and, though it begins to be much doubted, the undulatory theory is still alive.

As General Pleasanton, of Philadelphia, has undertaken to combat this anti-Pythagorean hypothesis, and has devoted to it a whole volume, we cannot do any better than refer the reader to his recent work on the Blue Ray, etc. We leave the theory of Thomas Young, who, according to Tyndall, “placed on an immovable basis the undulatory theory of light,” to hold its own if it can, with the Philadelphia experimenter.

Eliphas Levi, the modern magician, describes the astral light in the following sentence: “We have said that to acquire magical power, two things are necessary: to disengage the will from all servitude, and to exercise it in control.”

“The sovereign will is represented in our symbols by the woman who crushes the serpent’s head, and by the resplendent angel who represses the dragon, and holds him under his foot and spear; the great magical agent, the dual current of light, the living and astral fire of the earth, has been represented in the ancient theogonies by the serpent with the head[Pg 138] of a bull, a ram, or a dog. It is the double serpent of the caduceus, it is the Old Serpent of the Genesis, but it is also the brazen serpent of Moses entwined around the tau, that is to say, the generative lingha. It is also the goat of the witch-sabbath, and the Baphomet of the Templars; it is the Hylé of the Gnostics; it is the double-tail of serpent which forms the legs of the solar cock of the Abraxas; finally, it is the Devil of M. Eudes de Mirville. But in very fact it is the blind force which souls have to conquer to liberate themselves from the bonds of the earth; for if their will does not free “them from this fatal attraction, they will be absorbed in the current by the force which has produced them, and will return to the central and eternal fire.”

This last kabalistic figure of speech, notwithstanding its strange phraseology, is precisely the one used by Jesus; and in his mind it could have had no other significance than the one attributed to it by the Gnostics and the Kabalists. Later the Christian theologians interpreted it differently, and with them it became the doctrine of Hell. Literally, though, it simply means what it says—the astral light, or the generator and destroyer of all forms.

“All the magical operations,” continues Levi, “consist in freeing one’s self from the coils of the Ancient Serpent; then to place the foot on its head, and lead it according to the operator’s will. ‘I will give unto thee,’ says the Serpent, in the Gospel myth, ‘all the kingdoms of the earth, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ The initiate should reply to him, ‘I will not fall down, but thou shalt crouch at my feet; thou wilt give me nothing, but I will make use of thee and take whatever I wish. For I am thy Lord and Master!’ This is the real meaning of the ambiguous response made by Jesus to the tempter.... Thus, the Devil is not an Entity. It is an errant force, as the name signifies. An odic or magnetic current formed by a chain (a circle) of pernicious wills must create this evil spirit which the Gospel calls legion, and which forces into the sea a herd of swine—another evangelical allegory showing how base natures can be driven headlong by the blind forces set in motion by error and sin.”[254]

In his extensive work on the mystical manifestations of human nature, the German naturalist and philosopher, Maximilian Perty, has devoted a whole chapter to the Modern forms of Magic. “The manifestations of magical life,” he says in his Preface, “partially repose on quite another order of things than the nature in which we are acquainted with time, space, and causality; these manifestations can be experimented with but little; they cannot be called out at our bidding,[Pg 139] but may be observed and carefully followed whenever they occur in our presence; we can only group them by analogy under certain divisions, and deduce from them general principles and laws.” Thus, for Professor Perty, who evidently belongs to the school of Schopenhauer, the possibility and naturalness of the phenomena which took place in the presence of Kavindasami, the fakir, and are described by Louis Jacolliot, the Orientalist, are fully demonstrated on that principle. The fakir was a man who, through the entire subjugation of the matter of his corporeal system has attained to that state of purification at which the spirit becomes nearly freed from its prison,[255] and can produce wonders. His will, nay, a simple desire of his has become creative force, and he can command the elements and powers of nature. His body is no more an impediment to him; hence he can converse “spirit to spirit, breath to breath.” Under his extended palms, a seed, unknown to him (for Jacolliot has chosen it at random among a variety of seeds, from a bag, and planted it himself, after marking it, in a flower pot), will germinate instantly, and push its way through the soil. Developing in less than two hours’ time to a size and height which, perhaps, under ordinary circumstances, would require several days or weeks, it grows miraculously under the very eyes of the perplexed experimenter, and mockingly upsets every accepted formula in Botany. Is this a miracle? By no means; it may be one, perhaps, if we take Webster’s definition, that a miracle is “every event contrary to the established constitution and course of things—a deviation from the known laws of nature.” But are our naturalists prepared to support the claim that what they have once established on observation is infallible? Or that every law of nature is known to them? In this instance, the “miracle” is but a little more prominent than the now well-known experiments of General Pleasanton, of Philadelphia. While the vegetation and fruitage of his vines were stimulated to an incredible activity by the artificial violet light, the magnetic fluid emanating from the hands of the fakir effected still more intense and rapid changes in the vital function of the Indian plants. It attracted and concentrated the akasa, or life-principle, on the germ.[256] His magnetism, obeying his will, drew up the akasa[Pg 140] in a concentrated current through the plant towards his hands, and by keeping up an unintermitted flow for the requisite space of time, the life-principle of the plant built up cell after cell, layer after layer, with preternatural activity, until the work was done. The life-principle is but a blind force obeying a controlling influence. In the ordinary course of nature the plant-protoplasm would have concentrated and directed it at a certain established rate. This rate would have been controlled by the prevalent atmospheric conditions; its growth being rapid or slow, and, in stalk or head, in proportion to the amount of light, heat, and moisture of the season. But the fakir, coming to the help of nature with his powerful will and spirit purified from the contact with matter,[257] condenses, so to speak, the essence of plant-life into its germ, and forces it to maturity ahead of its time. This blind force being totally submissive to his will, obeys it with servility. If he chose to imagine the plant as a monster, it would as surely become such, as ordinarily it would grow in its natural shape; for the concrete image—slave to the subjective model outlined in the imagination of the fakir—is forced to follow the original in its least detail, as the hand and brush of the painter follow the image which they copy from his mind. The will of the fakir-conjurer forms an invisible but yet, to it, perfectly objective matrix, in which the vegetable matter is caused to deposit itself and assume the fixed shape. The will creates; for the will in motion is force, and force produces matter.

[Pg 141]

If some persons object to the explanation on the ground that the fakir could by no means create the model in his imagination, since he was kept ignorant by Jacolliot of the kind of seed he had selected for the experiment; to these we will answer that the spirit of man is like that of his Creator—omniscient in its essence. While in his natural state the fakir did not, and could not know whether it was a melon-seed, or seed of any other plant; once entranced, i.e., bodily dead to all outward appearance—the spirit, for which there exist neither distance, material obstacle, nor space of time, experienced no difficulty in perceiving the melon-seed, whether as it lay deeply buried in the mud of the flower-pot, or reflected in the faithful picture-gallery of Jacolliot’s brain. Our visions, portents, and other psychological phenomena, all of which exist in nature, are corroborative of the above fact.

And now, perhaps, we might as well meet at once another impending objection. Indian jugglers, they will tell us, do the same, and as well as the fakir, if we can believe newspapers and travellers’ narratives. Undoubtedly so; and moreover these strolling jugglers are neither pure in their modes of living nor considered holy by any one; neither by foreigners nor their own people. They are generally FEARED and despised by the natives, for they are sorcerers; men practising the black art. While such a holy man as Kavindasami requires but the help of his own divine soul, closely united with the astral spirit, and the help of a few familiar pitris—pure, ethereal beings, who rally around their elect brother in flesh—the sorcerer can summon to his help but that class of spirits which we know as the elementals. Like attracts like; and greed for money, impure purposes, and selfish views, cannot attract any other spirits than those that the Hebrew kabalists know as the klippoth, dwellers of Asiah, the fourth world, and the Eastern magicians as the afrits, or elementary spirits of error, or the devs.

This is how an English paper describes the astounding trick of plant-growth, as performed by Indian jugglers:

“An empty flower-pot was now placed upon the floor by the juggler, who requested that his comrades might be allowed to bring up some garden mould from the little plot of ground below. Permission being accorded, the man went, and in two minutes returned with a small quantity of fresh earth tied up in a corner of his chudder, which was deposited in the flower-pot and lightly pressed down. Taking from his basket a dry mango-stone, and handing it round to the company that they might examine it, and satisfy themselves that it was really what it seemed to be, the juggler scooped out a little earth from the centre of the flower-pot and placed the stone in the cavity. He then turned the earth lightly over it, and, having poured a little water over the surface, shut the flower-pot out[Pg 142] of view by means of a sheet thrown over a small triangle. And now, amid a full chorus of voices and rat-tat-tat accompaniment of the tabor, the stone germinated; presently a section of the cloth was drawn aside, and gave to view the tender shoot, characterized by two long leaves of a blackish-brown color. The cloth was readjusted, and the incantation resumed. Not long was it, however, before the cloth was a second time drawn aside, and it was then seen that the two first leaves had given place to several green ones, and that the plant now stood nine or ten inches high. A third time, and the foliage was much thicker, the sapling being about thirteen to fourteen inches in height. A fourth time, and the little miniature tree, now about eighteen inches in height, had ten or twelve mangoes about the size of walnuts hanging about its branches. Finally, after the lapse of three of four minutes, the cloth was altogether removed, and the fruit, having the perfection of size, though not of maturity, was plucked and handed to the spectators, and, on being tasted, was found to be approaching ripeness, being sweetly acid.”

We may add to this, that we have witnessed the same experiment in India and Thibet, and that more than once we provided the flower-pot ourselves, by emptying an old tin box of some Liebig extracts. We filled it with earth with our own hands, and planted in it a small root handed to us by the conjurer, and until the experiment was ended never once removed our eyes from the pot, which was placed in our own room. The result was invariably the same as above described. Does the reader imagine that any prestidigitator could produce the same manifestation under the same conditions?

The learned Orioli, Corresponding Member of the Institute of France, gives a number of instances which show the marvellous effects produced by the will-power acting upon the invisible Proteus of the mesmerists. “I have seen,” says he, “certain persons, who simply by pronouncing certain words, arrest wild bulls and horses at headlong speed, and suspend in its flight the arrow which cleaves the air.” Thomas Bartholini affirms the same.

Says Du Potet: “When I trace upon the floor with chalk or charcoal this figure ... a fire, a light fixes itself on it. Soon it attracts to itself the person who approaches it; it detains and fascinates him ... and it is useless for him to try to cross the line. A magic power compels him to stand still. At the end of a few moments he yields, uttering sobs.... The cause is not in me, it is in this entirely kabalistic sign; in vain would you employ violence.”[258]

In a series of remarkable experiments made by Regazzoni in the[Pg 143] presence of certain well-known French physicians, at Paris, on the 18th of May, 1856, they assembled on one night together, and Regazzoni, with his finger, traced an imaginary kabalistic line upon the floor, over which he made a few rapid passes. It was agreed that the mesmeric subjects, selected by the investigators and the committee for the experiments, and all strangers to him, should be brought blindfold into the room, and caused to walk toward the line, without a word being spoken to indicate what was expected of them. The subjects moved along unsuspiciously till they came to the invisible barrier, when, as it is described, “their feet, as if they had been suddenly seized and riveted, adhere to the ground, while their bodies, carried forward by the rapid impulse of the motion, fall and strike the floor. The sudden rigidity of their limbs was like that of a frozen corpse, and their heels were rooted with mathematical precision upon the fatal line!”[259]

In another experiment it was agreed that upon one of the physicians giving a certain signal by a glance of the eye, the blindfolded girl should be made to fall on the ground, as if struck by lightning, by the magnetic fluid emitted by Regazzoni’s will. She was placed at a distance from the magnetizer; the signal was given, and instantly the subject was felled to the earth, without a word being spoken or a gesture made. Involuntarily one of the spectators stretched out his hand as if to catch her; but Regazzoni, in a voice of thunder, exclaimed, “Do not touch her! Let her fall; a magnetized subject is never hurt by falling.” Des Mousseaux, who tells the story, says that “marble is not more rigid than was her body; her head did not touch the ground; one of her arms remained stretched in the air; one of her legs was raised and the other horizontal. She remained in this unnatural posture an indefinite time. Less rigid is a statue of bronze.”[260]

All the effects witnessed in the experiments of public lecturers upon mesmerism, were produced by Regazzoni in perfection, and without one spoken word to indicate what the subject was to do. He even by his silent will produced the most surprising effects upon the physical systems of persons totally unknown to him. Directions whispered by the committee in Regazzoni’s ear were immediately obeyed by the subjects, whose ears were stuffed with cotton, and whose eyes were bandaged. Nay, in some cases it was not even necessary for them to express to the magnetizer what they desired, for their own mental requests were complied with with perfect fidelity.

Experiments of a similar character were made by Regazzoni in England, at a distance of three hundred paces from the subject brought to[Pg 144] him. The jettatura, or evil eye, is nothing but the direction of this invisible fluid, charged with malicious will and hatred, from one person to another, and sent out with the intention of harming him. It may equally be employed for a good or evil purpose. In the former case it is magic; in the latter, sorcery.

What is the WILL? Can “exact science” tell? What is the nature of that intelligent, intangible, and powerful something which reigns supreme over all inert matter? The great Universal Idea willed, and the cosmos sprang into existence. I will, and my limbs obey. I will, and, my thought traversing space, which does not exist for it, envelops the body of another individual who is not a part of myself, penetrates through his pores, and, superseding his own faculties, if they are weaker, forces him to a predetermined action. It acts like the fluid of a galvanic battery on the limbs of a corpse. The mysterious effects of attraction and repulsion are the unconscious agents of that will; fascination, such as we see exercised by some animals, by serpents over birds, for instance, is a conscious action of it, and the result of thought. Sealing-wax, glass, and amber, when rubbed, i.e., when the latent heat which exists in every substance is awakened, attract light bodies; they exercise unconsciously, will; for inorganic as well as organic matter possesses a particle of the divine essence in itself, however infinitesimally small it may be. And how could it be otherwise? Notwithstanding that in the progress of its evolution it may from beginning to end have passed through millions of various forms, it must ever retain its germ-point of that preëxistent matter, which is the first manifestation and emanation of the Deity itself. What is then this inexplicable power of attraction but an atomical portion of that essence that scientists and kabalists equally recognize as the “principle of life” the akasa? Granted that the attraction exercised by such bodies may be blind; but as we ascend higher the scale of the organic beings in nature, we find this principle of life developing attributes and faculties which become more determined and marked with every rung of the endless ladder. Man, the most perfect of organized beings on earth, in whom matter and spirit—i.e., will—are the most developed and powerful, is alone allowed to give a conscious impulse to that principle which emanates from him; and only he can impart to the magnetic fluid opposite and various impulses without limit as to the direction. “He wills,” says Du Potet, “and organized matter obeys. It has no poles.”

Dr. Brierre de Boismont, in his volume on Hallucinations, reviews a wonderful variety of visions, apparitions, and ecstasies, generally termed hallucinations. “We cannot deny,” he says, “that in certain diseases we see developed a great surexcitation of sensibility, which lends to the[Pg 145] senses a prodigious acuteness of perception. Thus, some individuals will perceive at considerable distances, others will announce the approach of persons who are really on their way, although those present can neither hear nor see them coming.”[261]

A lucid patient, lying in his bed, announces the arrival of persons to see whom he must possess transmural vision, and this faculty is termed by Brierre de Boismont—hallucination. In our ignorance, we have hitherto innocently supposed that in order to be rightly termed a hallucination, a vision must be subjective. It must have an existence only in the delirious brain of the patient. But if the latter announces the visit of a person, miles away, and this person arrives at the very moment predicted by the seer, then his vision was no more subjective, but on the contrary perfectly objective, for he saw that person in the act of coming. And how could the patient see, through solid bodies and space, an object shut out from the reach of our mortal sight, if he had not exercised his spiritual eyes on that occasion? Coincidence?

Cabanis speaks of certain nervous disorders in which the patients easily distinguished with the naked eye infusoria and other microscopical beings which others could only perceive through powerful lenses. “I have met subjects,” he says, “who saw in Cimmerian darkness as well as in a lighted room; ...” others “who followed persons, tracing them out like dogs, and recognizing by the smell objects belonging to such persons or even such as had been only touched by them, with a sagacity which was hitherto observed only in animals.”[262]

Exactly; because reason, which, as Cabanis says, develops only at the expense and loss of natural instinct, is a Chinese wall slowly rising on the soil of sophistry, and which finally shuts out man’s spiritual perceptions of which the instinct is one of the most important examples. Arrived at certain stages of physical prostration, when mind and the reasoning faculties seem paralyzed through weakness and bodily exhaustion, instinct—the spiritual unity of the five senses—sees, hears, feels, tastes, and smells, unimpaired by either time or space. What do we know of the exact limits of mental action? How can a physician take upon himself to distinguish the imaginary from the real senses in a man who may be living a spiritual life, in a body so exhausted of its usual vitality that it actually is unable to prevent the soul from oozing out from its prison?

The divine light through which, unimpeded by matter, the soul[Pg 146] perceives things past, present, and to come, as though their rays were focused in a mirror; the death-dealing bolt projected in an instant of fierce anger or at the climax of long-festering hate; the blessing wafted from a grateful or benevolent heart; and the curse hurled at an object—offender or victim—all have to pass through that universal agent, which under one impulse is the breath of God, and under another—the venom of the devil. It was discovered (?) by Baron Reichenbach and called OD, whether intentionally or otherwise we cannot say, but it is singular that a name should have been chosen which is mentioned in the most ancient books of the Kabala.

Our readers will certainly inquire what then is this invisible all? How is it that our scientific methods, however perfected, have never discovered any of the magical properties contained in it? To this we can answer, that it is no reason because modern scientists are ignorant of them that it should not possess all the properties with which the ancient philosophers endowed it. Science rejects many a thing to-day which she may find herself forced to accept to-morrow. A little less than a century ago the Academy denied Franklin’s electricity, and, at the present day, we can hardly find a house without a conductor on its roof. Shooting at the barn-door, the Academy missed the barn itself. Modern scientists, by their wilful skepticism and learned ignorance, do this very frequently.

Emepht, the supreme, first principle, produced an egg; by brooding over which, and permeating the substance of it with its own vivifying essence, the germ contained within was developed; and Phtha, the active creative principle proceeded from it, and began his work. From the boundless expanse of cosmic matter, which had formed itself under his breath, or will, this cosmic matter—astral light, æther, fire-mist, principle of life—it matters not how we may call it, this creative principle, or, as our modern philosophy terms it, law of evolution, by setting in motion the potencies latent in it, formed suns and stars, and satellites; controlled their emplacement by the immutable law of harmony, and peopled them “with every form and quality of life.” In the ancient Eastern mythologies, the cosmogonic myth states that there was but water (the father) and the prolific slime (the mother, Ilus or Hylè), from which crept forth the mundane snake-matter. It was the god Phanes, the revealed one, the Word, or logos. How willingly this myth was accepted, even by the Christians who compiled the New Testament, may be easily inferred from the following fact: Phanes, the revealed god, is represented in this snake-symbol as a protogonos, a being furnished with the heads of a man, a hawk or an eagle, a bull—taurus, and a lion, with wings on both sides. The heads relate to the zodiac, and typify the four seasons of the year, for the mundane serpent is the mundane year, while the[Pg 147] serpent itself is the symbol of Kneph, the hidden, or unrevealed deity—God the Father. Time is winged, therefore the serpent is represented with wings. If we remember that each of the four evangelists is represented as having near him one of the described animals—grouped together in Solomon’s triangle in the pentacle of Ezekiel, and to be found in the four cherubs or sphinxes of the sacred arch—we will perhaps understand the secret meaning, as well as the reason why the early Christians adopted this symbol; and how it is that the present Roman Catholics and the Greeks of the Oriental Church still represent these animals in the pictures of their evangelists which sometimes accompany the four Gospels. We will also understand why Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, had so insisted upon the necessity of the fourth gospel; giving as a reason that there could not be less than four of them, as there were four zones in the world, and four principal winds coming from the four cardinal points, etc.[263]

According to one of the Egyptian myths, the phantom-form of the isle of Chemmis (Chemi, ancient Egypt), which floats on the ethereal waves of the empyrean sphere, was called into being by Horus-Apollo, the sun-god, who caused it to evolve out of the mundane egg.

In the cosmogonical poem of Völuspa (the song of the prophetess), which contains the Scandinavian legends of the very dawn of ages, the phantom-germ of the universe is represented as lying in the Ginnunga-gap—or the cup of illusion, a boundless and void abyss. In this world’s matrix, formerly a region of night and desolation, Nebelheim (the Mist-place) dropped a ray of cold light (æther), which overflowed this cup and froze in it. Then the Invisible blew a scorching wind which dissolved the frozen waters and cleared the mist. These waters, called the streams of Elivâgar, distilled in vivifying drops which, falling down, created the earth and the giant Ymir, who only had “the semblance of man” (male principle). With him was created the cow, Audhumla[264] (female principle), from whose udder flowed four streams of milk,[265] which diffused themselves throughout space (the astral light in its purest emanation). The cow Audhumla produces a superior being, called Bur, handsome and powerful, by licking the stones that were covered with mineral salt.

Now, if we take into consideration that this mineral was universally[Pg 148] regarded by ancient philosophers as one of the chief formative principles in organic creation; by the alchemists as the universal menstruum, which, they said, was to be wrought from water; and by every one else, even as it is regarded now by science as well as in the popular ideas, to be an indispensable ingredient for man and beast; we may readily comprehend the hidden wisdom of this allegory of the creation of man. Paracelsus calls salt “the centre of water, wherein metals ought to die,” etc., and Van Helmont terms the Alkahest, “summum et felicissimum omnium salium,” the most successful of all salts.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” and following the parable he adds: “Ye are the light of the world” (v. 14). This is more than an allegory; these words point to a direct and unequivocal meaning in relation to the spiritual and physical organisms of man in his dual nature, and show, moreover, a knowledge of the “secret doctrine,” the direct traces of which we find equally in the oldest ancient and current popular traditions, in both the Old and New Testaments, and in the writings of the ancient and mediæval mystics and philosophers.

But to return to our Edda-legend. Ymir, the giant, falls asleep, and sweats profusely. This perspiration causes the pit of his left arm to generate out of that place a man and a woman, while his foot produces a son for them. Thus, while the mythic “cow” gives being to a race of superior spiritual men, the giant Ymir begets a race of evil and depraved men, the Hrimthursen, or frost-giants. Comparing notes with the Hindu Vedas, we find it then, with slight modifications, the same cosmogonic legend in substance and details. Brahma, as soon as Bhagaveda, the Supreme God, endows him with creative powers, produces animated beings, wholly spiritual at first. The Dejotas, inhabitants of the Surg’s (the celestial) region, are unfit to live on earth, therefore Brahma creates the Daints (giants, who become the dwellers of the Patals, the lower regions of space), who are also unfit to inhabit Mirtlok (the earth). To palliate the evil, the creative power evolves from his mouth the first Brahman, who thus becomes the progenitor of our race; from his right arm Brahma creates Raettris, the warrior, and from his left Shaterany, the wife of Raettris. Then their son Bais springs from the right foot of the creator, and his wife Basany from the left. While in the Scandinavian legend Bur (the son of the cow Audhumla), a superior being, marries Besla, a daughter of the depraved race of giants, in the Hindu tradition the first Brahman marries Daintary, also a daughter of the race of the giants; and in Genesis we see the sons of God taking for wives the daughters of men, and likewise producing mighty men of old; the[Pg 149] whole establishing an unquestionable identity of origin between the Christian inspired Book, and the heathen “fables” of Scandinavia and Hindustan. The traditions of nearly every other nation, if examined, will yield a like result.

What modern cosmogonist could compress within so simple a symbol as the Egyptian serpent in a circle such a world of meaning? Here we have, in this creature, the whole philosophy of the universe: matter vivified by spirit, and the two conjointly evolving out of chaos (Force) everything that was to be. To signify that the elements are fast bound in this cosmic matter, which the serpent symbolizes, the Egyptians tied its tail into a knot.

There is one more important emblem connected with the sloughing of the serpent’s skin, which, so far as we are aware, has never been heretofore noticed by our symbolists. As the reptile upon casting his coat becomes freed from a casing of gross matter, which cramped a body grown too large for it, and resumes its existence with renewed activity, so man, by casting off the gross material body, enters upon the next stage of his existence with enlarged powers and quickened vitality. Inversely, the Chaldean Kabalists tell us that primeval man, who, contrary to the Darwinian theory was purer, wiser, and far more spiritual, as shown by the myths of the Scandinavian Bur, the Hindu Dejotas, and the Mosaic “sons of God,“in short, of a far higher nature than the man of the present Adamic race, became despiritualized or tainted with matter, and then, for the first time, was given the fleshly body, which is typified in Genesis in that profoundly-significant verse: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed them.”[266] Unless the commentators would make of the First Cause a celestial tailor, what else can the apparently absurd words mean, but that the spiritual man had reached, through the progress of involution, to that point where matter, predominating over and conquering spirit, had transformed him into the physical man, or the second Adam, of the second chapter of Genesis?

This kabalistical doctrine is much more elaborated in the Book of Jasher.[267] In chapter vii., these garments of skin are taken by Noah into the ark, he having obtained them by inheritance from Methuselah and Enoch, who had them from Adam and his wife. Ham steals them from[Pg 150] his father Noah; gives them “in secret” to Cush, who conceals them from his sons and brothers, and passes them to Nimrod.

While some Kabalists, and even archæologists say that “Adam, Enoch, and Noah might, in outward appearance, be different men, but they were really the self-same divine person.”[268] Others explain that between Adam and Noah there intervened several cycles. That is to say, that every one of the antediluvian patriarchs stood as the representative of a race which had its place in a succession of cycles; and each of which races was less spiritual than its predecessor. Thus Noah, though a good man, could not have borne comparison with his ancestor, Enoch, who “walked with God and did not die.” Hence the allegorical interpretation which makes Noah have this coat of skin by inheritance from the second Adam and Enoch, but not wear it himself, for if otherwise, Ham could not have stolen it. But Noah and his children bridged the flood; and while the former belonged to the old and still spiritual antediluvian generation, insomuch as he was selected from all mankind for his purity, his children were post-diluvian. The coat of skin worn by Cush “in secret,“i. e., when his spiritual nature began to be tainted by the material—is placed on Nimrod, the most powerful and strongest of physical men on this side of the flood—the last remnant of the antediluvian giants.[269]

In the Scandinavian legend, Ymir, the giant, is slain by the sons of Bur, and the streams of blood flowing from his wounds were so copious that the flood drowned the whole race of ice and frost giants, and Bergelmir alone of that race was saved, with his wife, by taking refuge in a bark; which fact permitted him to transmit a new branch of giants from the old stock. But all the sons of Bur remained untouched by the flood.[270]

When the symbolism of this diluvian legend is unravelled, one perceives at once the real meaning of the allegory. The giant Ymir typifies the primitive rude organic matter, the blind cosmical forces, in their chaotic state, before they received the intelligent impulse of the Divine Spirit which set them into a regular motion dependent on immovable laws. The progeny of Bur are the “sons of God,” or the minor gods mentioned by Plato in the Timæus, and who were intrusted, as he expresses it, with the creation of men; for we see them taking the mangled remains of Ymir to the Ginnunga-gap, the chaotic abyss, and employing them for the creation of our world. His blood goes to form oceans and rivers; his bones, the mountains; his teeth, the rocks and cliffs;[Pg 151] his hair, the trees, etc.; while his skull forms the heavenly vault, supported by four pillars representing the four cardinal points. From the eyebrows of Ymir was created the future abode of man—Midgard. This abode (the earth), says the Edda, in order to be correctly described in all its minute particulars, must be conceived as round as a ring, or as a disk, floating in the midst of the Celestial Ocean (Ether). It is encircled by Yörmungand, the gigantic Midgard or Earth Serpent, holding its tail in its mouth. This is the mundane snake, matter and spirit, combined product and emanation of Ymir, the gross rudimental matter, and of the spirit of the “sons of God,” who fashioned and created all forms. This emanation is the astral light of the Kabalists, and the as yet problematical, and hardly known, æther, or the “hypothetical agent of great elasticity” of our physicists.

How sure the ancients were of this doctrine of man’s trinitarian nature may be inferred from the same Scandinavian legend of the creation of mankind. According to the Völuspa, Odin, Hönir, and Lodur, who are the progenitors of our race, found in one of their walks on the ocean-beach, two sticks floating on the waves, “powerless and without destiny.” Odin breathed in them the breath of life; Hönir endowed them with soul and motion; and Lodur with beauty, speech, sight, and hearing. The man they called Askr—the ash,[271] and the woman Embla—the alder. These first men are placed in Midgard (mid-garden, or Eden) and thus inherit, from their creators, matter or inorganic life; mind, or soul; and pure spirit; the first corresponding to that part of their organism which sprung from the remains of Ymir, the giant-matter, the second from the Æsir, or gods, the descendants of Bur, and the third from the Vanr, or the representative of pure spirit.

Another version of the Edda makes our visible universe spring from beneath the luxuriant branches of the mundane tree—the Yggdrasill, the tree with the three roots. Under the first root runs the fountain of life, Urdar; under the second is the famous well of Mimer, in which lie deeply buried Wit and Wisdom. Odin, the Alfadir, asks for a draught of this water; he gets it, but finds himself obliged to pledge one of his eyes for it; the eye being in this case the symbol of the Deity revealing itself in the wisdom of its own creation; for Odin leaves it at the bottom of the deep well. The care of the mundane tree is intrusted to three maidens (the Norns or Parcæ), Urdhr, Verdandi, and Skuld—or the Present, the Past, and the Future. Every morning, while fixing the term[Pg 152] of human life, they draw water from the Urdar-fountain, and sprinkle with it the roots of the mundane tree, that it may live. The exhalations of the ash, Yggdrasill, condense, and falling down upon our earth call into existence and change of form every portion of the inanimate matter. This tree is the symbol of the universal Life, organic as well as inorganic; its emanations represent the spirit which vivifies every form of creation; and of its three roots, one extends to heaven, the second to the dwelling of the magicians—giants, inhabitants of the lofty mountains—and at the third, under which is the spring Hvergelmir, gnaws the monster Nidhögg, who constantly leads mankind into evil. The Thibetans have also their mundane tree, and the legend is of an untold antiquity. With them it is called Zampun. The first of its three roots also extends to heaven, to the top of the highest mountains; the second passes down to the lower region; the third remains midway, and reaches the east. The mundane tree of the Hindus is the Aswatha.[272] Its branches are the components of the visible world; and its leaves the Mantras of the Vedas, symbols of the universe in its intellectual or moral character.

Who can study carefully the ancient religious and cosmogonic myths without perceiving that this striking similitude of conceptions, in their exoteric form and esoteric spirit, is the result of no mere coincidence, but manifests a concurrent design? It shows that already in those ages which are shut out from our sight by the impenetrable mist of tradition, human religious thought developed in uniform sympathy in every portion of the globe. Christians call this adoration of nature in her most concealed verities—Pantheism. But if the latter, which worships and reveals to us God in space in His only possible objective form—that of visible nature—perpetually reminds humanity of Him who created it, and a religion of theological dogmatism only serves to conceal Him the more from our sight, which is the better adapted to the needs of mankind?

Modern science insists upon the doctrine of evolution; so do human reason and the “secret doctrine,” and the idea is corroborated by the ancient legends and myths, and even by the Bible itself when it is read between the lines. We see a flower slowly developing from a bud, and the bud from its seed. But whence the latter, with all its predetermined programme of physical transformation, and its invisible, therefore spiritual forces which gradually develop its form, color, and odor? The word evolution speaks for itself. The germ of the present human race must have preëxisted in the parent of this race, as the seed, in which lies[Pg 153] hidden the flower of next summer, was developed in the capsule of its parent-flower; the parent may be but slightly different, but it still differs from its future progeny. The antediluvian ancestors of the present elephant and lizard were, perhaps, the mammoth and the plesiosaurus; why should not the progenitors of our human race have been the “giants” of the Vedas, the Völuspa, and the Book of Genesis? While it is positively absurd to believe the “transformation of species” to have taken place according to some of the more materialistic views of the evolutionists, it is but natural to think that each genus, beginning with the mollusks and ending with monkey-man, has modified from its own primordial and distinctive form. Supposing that we concede that “animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors;”[273] and that even à la rigueur “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form;”[274] still no one but a stone-blind materialist, one utterly devoid of intuitiveness, can seriously expect to see “in the distant future ... psychology based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.”[275]

Physical man, as a product of evolution, may be left in the hands of the man of exact science. None but he can throw light upon the physical origin of the race. But, we must positively deny the materialist the same privilege as to the question of man’s psychical and spiritual evolution, for he and his highest faculties cannot be proved on any conclusive evidence to be “as much products of evolution as the humblest plant or the lowest worm.”[276]

Having said so much, we will now proceed to show the evolution-hypothesis of the old Brahmans, as embodied by them in the allegory of the mundane tree. The Hindus represent their mythical tree, which they call Aswatha, in a way which differs from that of the Scandinavians. It is described by them as growing in a reversed position, the branches extending downward and the roots upward; the former typifying the external world of sense, i.e., the visible cosmical universe, and the latter the invisible world of spirit, because the roots have their genesis in the heavenly regions where, from the world’s creation, humanity has placed its invisible deity. The creative energy having originated in the primordial point, the religious symbols of every people are so many illustrations of this metaphysical hypothesis expounded by Pythagoras, Plato, and other[Pg 154] philosophers. “These Chaldeans,” says Philo,[277] “were of opinion that the Kosmos, among the things that exist, is a single point, either being itself God (Theos) or that in it is God, comprehending the soul of all the things.”

The Egyptian Pyramid also symbolically represents this idea of the mundane tree. Its apex is the mystic link between heaven and earth, and stands for the root, while the base represents the spreading branches, extending to the four cardinal points of the universe of matter. It conveys the idea that all things had their origin in spirit—evolution having originally begun from above and proceeded downward, instead of the reverse, as taught in the Darwinian theory. In other words, there has been a gradual materialization of forms until a fixed ultimate of debasement is reached. This point is that at which the doctrine of modern evolution enters into the arena of speculative hypothesis. Arrived at this period we will find it easier to understand Haeckel’s Anthropogeny, which traces the pedigree of man “from its protoplasmic root, sodden in the mud of seas which existed before the oldest of the fossiliferous rocks were deposited,” according to Professor Huxley’s exposition. We may believe man evolved “by gradual modification of a mammal of ape-like organization” still easier when we remember that (though in a more condensed and less elegant, but still as comprehensible, phraseology) the same theory was said by Berosus to have been taught many thousands of years before his time by the man-fish Oannes or Dagon, the semi-demon of Babylonia.[278] We may add, as a fact of interest, that this ancient theory of evolution is not only embalmed in allegory and legend, but also depicted upon the walls of certain temples in India, and, in a fragmentary form, has been found in those of Egypt and on the slabs of Nimroud and Nineveh, excavated by Layard.

But what lies back of the Darwinian line of descent? So far as he is concerned nothing but “unverifiable hypotheses.” For, as he puts it, he views all beings “as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited.”[279] He does not attempt to show us who these “few beings” were. But it answers our purpose quite as well, for in the admission of their existence at all, resort to the ancients for corroboration and elaboration of the idea receives the stamp of scientific approbation. With all the changes that our globe has passed through as regards temperature, climate, soil, and—if we may be pardoned, in view of recent developments—its electro-magnetic condition, he would be bold indeed who dare say that anything[Pg 155] in present science contradicts the ancient hypothesis of ante-Silurian man. The flint-axes first found by Boucher de Perthes, in the valley of the Sômme, prove that men must have existed at a period so remote as to be beyond calculation. If we believe Büchner, man must have lived even during and before the glacial epoch, a subdivision of the quaternary or diluvial period probably extending very far back in it. But who can tell what the next discovery has in store for us?

Now, if we have indisputable proof that man has existed so long as this, there must have been wonderful modifications of his physical system, corresponding with the changes of climate and atmosphere. Does not this seem to show by analogy that, tracing backward, there may have been other modifications, which fitted the most remote progenitors of the “frost-giants” to live even contemporaneously with the Devonian fishes or the Silurian mollusks? True, they left no flint-hatchets behind them, nor any bones or cave-deposits; but, if the ancients are correct, the races at that time were composed not only of giants, or “mighty men of renown,” but also of “sons of God.” If those who believe in the evolution of spirit as firmly as the materialists believe in that of matter are charged with teaching “unverifiable hypotheses,” how readily can they retort upon their accusers by saying that, by their own confession, their physical evolution is still “an unverified, if not actually an unverifiable hypothesis.”[280] The former have at least the inferential proof of legendary myth, the vast antiquity of which is admitted by both philologists and archæologists; while their antagonists have nothing of a similar nature, unless they help themselves to a portion of the ancient picture-writings, and suppress the rest.

It is more than fortunate that, while the works of some men of science—who have justly won their great reputations—will flatly contradict our hypotheses, the researches and labors of others not less eminent seem to fully confirm our views. In the recent work of Mr. Alfred R. Wallace, The Geographical Distribution of Animals, we find the author seriously favoring the idea of “some slow process of development” of the present species from others which have preceded them, his idea extending back over an innumerable series of cycles. And if animals, why not animal man, preceded still farther back by a thoroughly “spiritual” one—a “son of God”?

And now, we may once more return to the symbolology of the olden times, and their physico-religious myths. Before we close this work, we hope to demonstrate more or less successfully how closely the conceptions of the latter were allied with many of the achievements of modern science[Pg 156] in physics and natural philosophy. Under the emblematical devices and peculiar phraseology of the priesthood of old lie latent hints of sciences as yet undiscovered during the present cycle. Well acquainted as may be a scholar with the hieratic writing and hieroglyphical system of the Egyptians, he must first of all learn to sift their records. He has to assure himself, compasses and rule in hand, that the picture-writing he is examining fits, to a line, certain fixed geometrical figures which are the hidden keys to such records, before he ventures on an interpretation.

But there are myths which speak for themselves. In this class we may include the double-sexed first creators, of every cosmogony. The Greek Zeus-Zēn (æther), and Chthonia (the chaotic earth) and Metis (the water), his wives; Osiris and Isis-Latona—the former god representing also ether—the first emanation of the Supreme Deity, Amun, the primeval source of light; the goddess earth and water again; Mithras,[281] the rock-born god, the symbol of the male mundane-fire, or the personified primordial light, and Mithra, the fire-goddess, at once his mother and his wife; the pure element of fire (the active, or male principle) regarded as light and heat, in conjunction with earth and water, or matter (female or passive elements of cosmical generation). Mithras is the son of Bordj, the Persian mundane mountain,[282] from which he flashes out as a radiant ray of light. Brahma, the fire-god, and his prolific consort; and the Hindu Unghi, the refulgent deity, from whose body issue a thousand streams of glory and seven tongues of flame, and in whose honor the Sagniku Brahmans preserve to this day a perpetual fire; Siva, personated by the mundane mountain of the Hindus—the Meru (Himalaya). This terrific fire-god, who is said in the legend to have descended from heaven, like the Jewish Jehovah, in a pillar of fire, and a dozen of other archaic, double-sexed deities, all loudly proclaim their hidden meaning. And what can these dual myths mean but the physico-chemical principle of primordial creation? The first revelation of the Supreme Cause in its triple manifestation of spirit, force, and matter; the divine correlation, at its starting-point of evolution, allegorized as the marriage of fire and water, products of electrifying spirit, union of the male active principle with the female passive element, which become the parents of their tellurian child, cosmic matter, the prima materia, whose spirit is ether, the Astral Light!

Thus all the world-mountains and mundane eggs, the mundane trees, and the mundane snakes and pillars, may be shown to embody scientifically[Pg 157] demonstrated truths of natural philosophy. All of these mountains contain, with very trifling variations, the allegorically-expressed description of primal cosmogony; the mundane trees, that of subsequent evolution of spirit and matter; the mundane snakes and pillars, symbolical memorials of the various attributes of this double evolution in its endless correlation of cosmic forces. Within the mysterious recesses of the mountain—the matrix of the universe—the gods (powers) prepare the atomic germs of organic life, and at the same time the life-drink, which, when tasted, awakens in man-matter the man-spirit. The soma, the sacrificial drink of the Hindus, is that sacred beverage. For, at the creation of the prima materia, while the grossest portions of it were used for the physical embryo-world, the more divine essence of it pervaded the universe, invisibly permeating and enclosing within its ethereal waves the newly-born infant, developing and stimulating it to activity as it slowly evolved out of the eternal chaos.

From the poetry of abstract conception, these mundane myths gradually passed into the concrete images of cosmic symbols, as archæology now finds them. The snake, which plays such a prominent part in the imagery of the ancients, was degraded by the absurd interpretation of the serpent of the Book of Genesis into a synonym of Satan, the Prince of Darkness, whereas it is the most ingenious of all the myths in its various symbolisms. For one, as agathodaimon, it is the emblem of the healing art and of the immortality of man. It encircles the images of most of the sanitary or hygienic gods. The cup of health, in the Egyptian Mysteries, was entwined by serpents. As evil can only arise from an extreme in good, the serpent, under some other aspects, became typical of matter; which, the more it recedes from its primal spiritual source, the more it becomes subject of evil. In the oldest Egyptian imagery, as in the cosmogonic allegories of Kneph, the mundane snake, when typifying matter, is usually represented as contained within a circle; he lies straight across its equator, thus indicating that the universe of astral light, out of which the physical world evolved, while bounding the latter, is itself bound by Emepht, or the Supreme First Cause. Phtha producing Ra, and the myriad forms to which he gives life, are shown as creeping out of the mundane egg, because it is the most familiar form of that in which is deposited and developed the germ of every living being. When the serpent represents eternity and immortality, it encircles the world, biting its tail, and thus offering no solution of continuity. It then becomes the astral light. The disciples of the school of Pherecydes taught that ether (Zeus or Zēn) is the highest empyrean heaven, which encloses the supernal world, and its light (the astral) is the concentrated primordial element.

Such is the origin of the serpent, metamorphosed in Christian ages[Pg 158] into Satan. It is the Od, the Ob, and the Aour of Moses and the Kabalists. When in its passive state, when it acts on those who are unwittingly drawn within its current, the astral light is the Ob, or Python. Moses was determined to exterminate all those who, sensitive to its influence, allowed themselves to fall under the easy control of the vicious beings which move in the astral waves like fish in the water; beings who surround us, and whom Bulwer-Lytton calls in Zanoni “the dwellers of the threshold.” It becomes the Od, as soon as it is vivified by the conscious efflux of an immortal soul; for then the astral currents are acting under the guidance of either an adept, a pure spirit, or an able mesmerizer, who is pure himself and knows how to direct the blind forces. In such cases even a high Planetary Spirit, one of the class of beings that have never been embodied (though there are many among these hierarchies who have lived on our earth), descends occasionally to our sphere, and purifying the surrounding atmosphere enables the subject to see, and opens in him the springs of true divine prophecy. As to the term Aoûr, the word is used to designate certain occult properties of the universal agent. It pertains more directly to the domain of the alchemist, and is of no interest to the general public.

The author of the Homoiomerian system of philosophy, Anaxagoras of Clazomenè, firmly believed that the spiritual prototypes of all things, as well as their elements, were to be found in the boundless ether, where they were generated, whence they evolved, and whither they returned from earth. In common with the Hindus who had personified their Akas’a (sky or ether) and made of it a deific entity, the Greeks and Latins had deified Æther. Virgil calls Zeus, pater omnipotens æther;[283] Magnus, the great god, Ether.

These beings above alluded to are the elemental spirits of the Kabalists,[284] whom the Christian clergy denounce as “devils,” the enemies of mankind.

[Pg 159]

“Already Tertullian,” gravely remarks Des Mousseaux, in his chapter on the devils, “has formally discovered the secret of their cunning.”

A priceless discovery, that. And now that we have learned so much of the mental labors of the holy fathers and their achievements in astral anthropology, need we be surprised at all, if, in the zeal of their spiritual explorations, they have so far neglected their own planet as at times to deny not only its right to motion but even its sphericity?

And this is what we find in Langhorne, the translator of Plutarch: “Dionysius of Halicarnassus [L. ii.] is of opinion that Numa built the temple of Vesta in a round form, to represent the figure of the earth, for by Vesta they meant the earth.” Moreover, Philolaüs, in common with all other Pythagoreans, held that the element of fire was placed in the centre of the universe; and Plutarch, speaking on the subject, remarks of the Pythagoreans that “the earth they suppose not to be without motion, nor situated in the centre of the world, but to make its revolution round the sphere of fire, being neither one of the most valuable, nor principal parts of the great machine.” Plato, too, is reported to have been of the same opinion. It appears, therefore, that the Pythagoreans anticipated Galileo’s discovery.

The existence of such an invisible universe being once admitted—as seems likely to be the fact if the speculations of the authors of the Unseen Universe are ever accepted by their colleagues—many of the phenomena, hitherto mysterious and inexplicable, become plain. It acts on the organism of the magnetized mediums, it penetrates and saturates them through and through, either directed by the powerful will of a mesmerizer, or by unseen beings who achieve the same result. Once that the silent operation is performed, the astral or sidereal phantom of the mesmerized subject quits its paralyzed, earthly casket, and, after having roamed in the boundless space, alights at the threshold of the mysterious “bourne.” For it, the gates of the portal which marks the entrance to the “silent land,” are now but partially ajar; they will fly wide open before the soul of the entranced somnambulist only on that day when, united with its higher immortal essence, it will have quitted forever its mortal frame. Until then, the seer or seeress can look but through a chink; it depends on the acuteness of the clairvoyant’s spiritual sight to see more or less through it.

[Pg 160]

The trinity in unity is an idea which all the ancient nations held in common. The three Dejotas—the Hindu Trimurti; the Three Heads of the Jewish Kabala.[285] “Three heads are hewn in one another and over one another.” The trinity of the Egyptians and that of the mythological Greeks were alike representations of the first triple emanation containing two male and one female principles. It is the union of the male Logos, or wisdom, the revealed Deity, with the female Aura or Anima Mundi—“the holy Pneuma,” which is the Sephira of the Kabalists and the Sophia of the refined Gnostics—that produced all things visible and invisible. While the true metaphysical interpretation of this universal dogma remained within the sanctuaries, the Greeks, with their poetical instincts, impersonated it in many charming myths. In the Dionysiacs of Nonnus, the god Bacchus, among other allegories, is represented as in love with the soft, genial breeze (the Holy Pneuma), under the name of Aura Placida.[286] And now we will leave Godfrey Higgins to speak: “When the ignorant Fathers were constructing their calendar, they made out of this gentle zephyr two Roman Catholic saints!!” SS. Aura and Placida;—nay, they even went so far as to transfer the jolly god into St. Bacchus, and actually show his coffin and relics at Rome. The festival of the two “blessed saints,” Aura and Placida, occurs on the 5th of October, close to the festival of St. Bacchus.[287]

How far more poetical, and how much greater the religious spirit to be found in the “heathen” Norse legends of creation! In the boundless abyss of the mundane pit, the Ginnunga-gap, where rage in blind fury and conflict cosmic matter and the primordial forces, suddenly blows the thaw-wind. It is the “unrevealed God,” who sends his beneficent breath from Muspellheim, the sphere of empyreal fire, within whose glowing rays dwells this great Being, far beyond the limits of the world of matter; and the animus of the Unseen, the Spirit brooding over the dark, abysmal waters, calls order out of chaos, and once having given the impulse to all creation the First Cause retires, and remains for evermore in statu abscondito![288]

There is both religion and science in these Scandinavian songs of heathendom. As an example of the latter, take the conception of Thor, the son of Odin. Whenever this Hercules of the North would grasp the handle of his terrible weapon, the thunderbolt or electric hammer, he is obliged to put on his iron gantlets. He also wears a magical belt[Pg 161] known as the “girdle of strength,” which, whenever girded about his person, greatly augments his celestial power. He rides upon a car drawn by two rams with silver bridles, and his awful brow is encircled by a wreath of stars. His chariot has a pointed iron pole, and the spark-scattering wheels continually roll over rumbling thunder-clouds. He hurls his hammer with resistless force against the rebellious frost-giants, whom he dissolves and annihilates. When he repairs to the Urdar fountain, where the gods meet in conclave to decide the destinies of humanity, he alone goes on foot, the rest of the deities being mounted. He walks, for fear that in crossing Bifrost (the rainbow), the many-hued Æsir-bridge, he might set it on fire with his thunder-car, at the same time causing the Urdar waters to boil.

Rendered into plain English, how can this myth be interpreted but as showing that the Norse legend-makers were thoroughly acquainted with electricity? Thor, the euhemerization of electricity, handles his peculiar element only when protected by gloves of iron, which is its natural conductor. His belt of strength is a closed circuit, around which the isolated current is compelled to run instead of diffusing itself through space. When he rushes with his car through the clouds, he is electricity in its active condition, as the sparks scattering from his wheels and the rumbling thunder of the clouds testify. The pointed iron pole of the chariot is suggestive of the lightning-rod; the two rams which serve as his coursers are the familiar ancient symbols of the male or generative power; their silver bridles typify the female principle, for silver is the metal of Luna, Astartè, Diana. Therefore in the ram and his bridle we see combined the active and passive principles of nature in opposition, one rushing forward, and the other restraining, while both are in subordination to the world-permeating, electrical principle, which gives them their impulse. With the electricity supplying the impulse, and the male and female principles combining and recombining in endless correlation, the result is—evolution of visible nature, the crown-glory of which is the planetary system, which in the mythic Thor is allegorized by the circlet of glittering orbs which bedeck his brow. When in his active condition, his awful thunderbolts destroy everything, even the lesser other Titanic forces. But he goes afoot over the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, because to mingle with other less powerful gods than himself, he is obliged to be in a latent state, which he could not be in his car; otherwise he would set on fire and annihilate all. The meaning of the Urdar-fountain, that Thor is afraid to make boil, and the cause of his reluctance, will only be comprehended by our physicists when the reciprocal electro-magnetic relations of the innumerable members of the planetary system, now just suspected, shall be thoroughly determined. Glimpses of the truth are given in the[Pg 162] recent scientific essays of Professors Mayer and Sterry Hunt. The ancient philosophers believed that not only volcanos, but boiling springs were caused by concentrations of underground electric currents, and that this same cause produced mineral deposits of various natures, which form curative springs. If it be objected that this fact is not distinctly stated by the ancient authors, who, in the opinion of our century were hardly acquainted with electricity, we may simply answer that not all the works embodying ancient wisdom are now extant among our scientists. The clear and cool waters of Urdar were required for the daily irrigation of the mystical mundane tree; and if they had been disturbed by Thor, or active electricity, they would have been converted into mineral springs unsuited for the purpose. Such examples as the above will support the ancient claim of the philosophers that there is a logos in every mythos, or a groundwork of truth in every fiction.

[Pg 163]


“Hermes, who is of my ordinances ever the bearer ...
Then taking his staff, with which he the eyelids of mortals
Closes at will, and the sleeper, at will, reawakens.”—Odyssey, Book V.
“I saw the Samothracian rings
Leap, and steel-filings boil in a brass dish
So soon as underneath it there was placed
The magnet-stone; and with wild terror seemed
The iron to flee from it in stern hate....”—Lucretius, Book VI.

“But that which especially distinguishes the Brotherhood is their marvellous knowledge of the resources of the medical art. They work not by charms but by simples.”

(MS. Account of the Origin and Attributes of the True Rosicrucians.)

One of the truest things ever said by a man of science is the remark made by Professor Cooke in his New Chemistry. “The history of Science shows that the age must be prepared before scientific truths can take root and grow. The barren premonitions of science have been barren because these seeds of truth fell upon unfruitful soil; and, as soon as the fulness of the time has come, the seed has taken root and the fruit has ripened ... every student is surprised to find how very little is the share of new truth which even the greatest genius has added to the previous stock.”

The revolution through which chemistry has recently passed, is well calculated to concentrate the attention of chemists upon this fact; and it would not be strange, if, in less time than it has required to effect it, the claims of the alchemists would be examined with impartiality, and studied from a rational point of view. To bridge over the narrow gulf which now separates the new chemistry from old alchemy, is little, if any harder than what they have done in going from dualism to the law of Avogadro.

As Ampère served to introduce Avogadro to our contemporary chemists, so Reichenbach will perhaps one day be found to have paved the way with his OD for the just appreciation of Paracelsus. It was more than fifty years before molecules were accepted as units of chemical calculations; it may require less than half that time to cause the superlative merits of the Swiss mystic to be acknowledged. The warning paragraph about healing mediums,[289] which will be found elsewhere, might have[Pg 164] been written by one who had read his works. “You must understand,” he says, “that the magnet is that spirit of life in man which the infected seeks, as both unite themselves with chaos from without. And thus the healthy are infected by the unhealthy through magnetic attraction.”

The primal causes of the diseases afflicting mankind; the secret relations between physiology and psychology, vainly tortured by men of modern science for some clew to base their speculations upon; the specifics and remedies for every ailment of the human body—all are described and accounted for in his voluminous works. Electro-magnetism, the so-called discovery of Professor Oersted, had been used by Paracelsus three centuries before. This may be demonstrated by examining critically his mode of curing disease. Upon his achievements in chemistry there is no need to enlarge, for it is admitted by fair and unprejudiced writers that he was one of the greatest chemists of his time.[290] Brierre de Boismont terms him a “genius” and agrees with Deleuze that he created a new epoch in the history of medicine. The secret of his successful and, as they were called, magic cures lies in his sovereign contempt for the so-called learned “authorities” of his age. “Seeking for truth,” says Paracelsus, “I considered with myself that if there were no teachers of medicine in this world, how would I set to learn the art? No otherwise than in the great open book of nature, written with the finger of God.... I am accused and denounced for not having entered in at the right door of art. But which is the right one? Galen, Avicenna, Mesue, Rhasis, or honest nature? I believe, the last! Through this door I entered, and the light of nature, and no apothecary’s lamp directed me on my way.”

This utter scorn for established laws and scientific formulas, this aspiration of mortal clay to commingle with the spirit of nature, and look to it alone for health, and help, and the light of truth, was the cause of the inveterate hatred shown by the contemporary pigmies to the fire-philosopher and alchemist. No wonder that he was accused of charlatanry and even drunkenness. Of the latter charge, Hemmann boldly and fearlessly exonerates him, and proves that the foul accusation proceeded from “Oporinus, who lived with him some time in order to learn his secrets, but his object was defeated; hence, the evil reports of his disciples and apothecaries.” He was the founder of the School of Animal Magnetism and the discoverer of the occult properties of the magnet. He was branded by his age as a sorcerer, because the cures he made were marvellous. Three centuries later, Baron Du Potet was also accused of sorcery and demonolatry by the Church of Rome, and of charlatanry by the[Pg 165] academicians of Europe. As the fire-philosophers say, it is not the chemist who will condescend to look upon the “living fire” otherwise than his colleagues do. “Thou hast forgotten what thy fathers taught thee about it—or rather, thou hast never known ... it is too loud for thee!”[291]

A work upon magico-spiritual philosophy and occult science would be incomplete without a particular notice of the history of animal magnetism, as it stands since Paracelsus staggered with it the schoolmen of the latter half of the sixteenth century.

We will observe briefly its appearance in Paris when imported from Germany by Anton Mesmer. Let us peruse with care and caution the old papers now mouldering in the Academy of Sciences of that capital, for there we will find that, after having rejected in its turn every discovery that was ever made since Galileo, the Immortals capped the climax by turning their backs upon magnetism and mesmerism. They voluntarily shut the doors before themselves, the doors which led to those greatest mysteries of nature, which lie hid in the dark regions of the psychical as well as the physical world. The great universal solvent, the Alkahest, was within their reach—they passed it by; and now, after nearly a hundred years have elapsed, we read the following confession:

“Still it is true that, beyond the limits of direct observation, our science (chemistry) is not infallible, and our theories and systems, although they may all contain a kernel of truth, undergo frequent changes, and are often revolutionized.”[292]

To assert so dogmatically that mesmerism and animal magnetism are but hallucinations, implies that it can be proved. But where are these proofs, which alone ought to have authority in science? Thousands of times the chance was given to the academicians to assure themselves of its truth; but, they have invariably declined. Vainly do mesmerists and healers invoke the testimony of the deaf, the lame, the diseased, the dying, who were cured or restored to life by simple manipulations and the apostolic “laying on of hands.” “Coincidence” is the usual reply, when the fact is too evident to be absolutely denied; “will-o’-the-wisp,” “exaggeration,” “quackery,” are favorite expressions, with our but too numerous Thomases. Newton, the well-known American healer, has performed more instantaneous cures than many a famous physician of New York City has had patients in all his life; Jacob, the Zouave, has had a like success in France. Must we then consider the accumulated testimony of the last forty years upon this subject to be all illusion, confederacy with clever charlatans, and lunacy? Even to breathe[Pg 166] such a stupendous fallacy would be equivalent to a self-accusation of lunacy.

Notwithstanding the recent sentence of Leymarie, the scoffs of the skeptics and of a vast majority of physicians and scientists, the unpopularity of the subject, and, above all, the indefatigable persecutions of the Roman Catholic clergy, fighting in mesmerism woman’s traditional enemy, so evident and unconquerable is the truth of its phenomena that even the French magistrature was forced tacitly, though very reluctantly, to admit the same. The famous clairvoyante, Madame Roger, was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses, in company with her mesmerist, Dr. Fortin. On May 18th, 1876, she was arraigned before the Tribunal Correctionnel of the Seine. Her witness was Baron Du Potet, the grand master of mesmerism in France for the last fifty years; her advocate, the no less famous Jules Favre. Truth for once triumphed—the accusation was abandoned. Was it the extraordinary eloquence of the orator, or bare facts incontrovertible and unimpeachable that won the day? But Leymarie, the editor of the Revue Spirite, had also facts in his favor; and, moreover, the evidence of over a hundred respectable witnesses, among whom were the first names of Europe. To this there is but one answer—the magistrates dared not question the facts of mesmerism. Spirit-photography, spirit-rapping, writing, moving, talking, and even spirit-materializations can be simulated; there is hardly a physical phenomenon now in Europe and America but could be imitated—with apparatus—by a clever juggler. The wonders of mesmerism and subjective phenomena alone defy tricksters, skepticism, stern science, and dishonest mediums; the cataleptic state it is impossible to feign. Spiritualists who are anxious to have their truths proclaimed and forced on science, cultivate the mesmeric phenomena. Place on the stage of Egyptian Hall a somnambulist plunged in a deep mesmeric sleep. Let her mesmerist send her freed spirit to all the places the public may suggest; test her clairvoyance and clairaudience; stick pins into any part of her body which the mesmerist may have made his passes over; thrust needles through the skin below her eyelids; burn her flesh and lacerate it with a sharp instrument. “Do not fear!” exclaim Regazzoni and Du Potet, Teste and Pierrard, Puysegur and Dolgorouky—“a mesmerized or entranced subject is never hurt!” And when all this is performed, invite any popular wizard of the day who thirsts for puffery, and is, or pretends to be, clever at mimicking every spiritual phenomenon, to submit his body to the same tests![293]

[Pg 167]

The speech of Jules Favre is reported to have lasted an hour and a half, and to have held the judges and the public spellbound by its eloquence. We who have heard Jules Favre believe it most readily; only the statement embodied in the last sentence of his argument was unfortunately premature and erroneous at the same time. “We are in the presence of a phenomenon which science admits without attempting to explain. The public may smile at it, but our most illustrious physicians regard it with gravity. Justice can no longer ignore what science has acknowledged!”

Were this sweeping declaration based upon fact and had mesmerism been impartially investigated by many instead of a few true men of science, more desirous of questioning nature than mere expediency, the public would never smile. The public is a docile and pious child, and readily goes whither the nurse leads it. It chooses its idols and fetishes, and worships them in proportion to the noise they make; and then turns round with a timid look of adulation to see whether the nurse, old Mrs. Public Opinion, is satisfied.

Lactantius, the old Christian father, is said to have remarked that no skeptic in his days would have dared to maintain before a magician that the soul did not survive the body, but died together with it; “for he would refute them on the spot by calling up the souls of the dead, rendering them visible to human eyes, and making them foretell future events.”[294] So with the magistrates and bench in Madame Roger’s case. Baron Du Potet was there, and they were afraid to see him mesmerize the somnambulist, and so force them not only to believe in the phenomenon, but to acknowledge it—which was far worse.

And now to the doctrine of Paracelsus. His incomprehensible, though lively style must be read like the biblio-rolls of Ezekiel, “within and without.” The peril of propounding heterodox theories was great in those days; the Church was powerful, and sorcerers were burnt by the dozens. For this reason, we find Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Eugenius Philalethes as notable for their pious declarations as they were famous for their achievements in alchemy and magic. The full views of Paracelsus on the occult properties of the magnet are explained partially in his famous book, Archidaxarum, in which he describes the wonderful tincture,[Pg 168] a medicine extracted from the magnet and called Magisterium Magnetis, and partially in the De Ente Dei, and De Ente Astrorum, Lib. I. But the explanations are all given in a diction unintelligible to the profane. “Every peasant sees,” said he, “that a magnet will attract iron, but a wise man must inquire for himself.... I have discovered that the magnet, besides this visible power, that of attracting iron, possesses another and concealed power.”

He demonstrates further that in man lies hidden a “sidereal force,” which is that emanation from the stars and celestial bodies of which the spiritual form of man—the astral spirit—is composed. This identity of essence, which we may term the spirit of cometary matter, always stands in direct relation with the stars from which it was drawn, and thus there exists a mutual attraction between the two, both being magnets. The identical composition of the earth and all other planetary bodies and man’s terrestrial body was a fundamental idea in his philosophy. “The body comes from the elements, the [astral] spirit from the stars.... Man eats and drinks of the elements, for the sustenance of his blood and flesh; from the stars are the intellect and thoughts sustained in his spirit.” The spectroscope has made good his theory as to the identical composition of man and stars; the physicists now lecture to their classes upon the magnetic attractions of the sun and planets.[295]

Of the substances known to compose the body of man, there have been discovered in the stars already, hydrogen, sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron. In all the stars observed, numbering many hundreds, hydrogen was found, except in two. Now, if we recollect how they have deprecated Paracelsus and his theory of man and the stars being composed of like substances; how ridiculed he was by astronomers and physicists, for his ideas of chemical affinity and attraction between the two; and then realize that the spectroscope has vindicated one of his assertions at least, is it so absurd to prophesy that in time all the rest of his theories will be substantiated?

And now, a very natural question is suggested. How did Paracelsus come to learn anything of the composition of the stars, when, till a very recent period—till the discovery of the spectroscope in fact—the constituents of the heavenly bodies were utterly unknown to our learned academies?[Pg 169] And even now, notwithstanding tele-spectroscope and other very important modern improvements, except a few elements and a hypothetical chromosphere, everything is yet a mystery for them in the stars. Could Paracelsus have been so sure of the nature of the starry host, unless he had means of which science knows nothing? Yet knowing nothing she will not even hear pronounced the very names of these means, which are—hermetic philosophy and alchemy.

We must bear in mind, moreover, that Paracelsus was the discoverer of hydrogen, and knew well all its properties and composition long before any of the orthodox academicians ever thought of it; that he had studied astrology and astronomy, as all the fire-philosophers did; and that, if he did assert that man is in a direct affinity with the stars, he knew well what he asserted.

The next point for the physiologists to verify is his proposition that the nourishment of the body comes not merely through the stomach, “but also imperceptibly through the magnetic force, which resides in all nature and by which every individual member draws its specific nourishment to itself.” Man, he further says, draws not only health from the elements when in equilibrium, but also disease when they are disturbed. Living bodies are subject to the laws of attraction and chemical affinity, as science admits; the most remarkable physical property of organic tissues, according to physiologists, is the property of imbibition. What more natural, then, than this theory of Paracelsus, that this absorbent, attractive, and chemical body of ours gathers into itself the astral or sidereal influences? “The sun and the stars attract from us to themselves, and we again from them to us.” What objection can science offer to this? What it is that we give off, is shown in Baron Reichenbach’s discovery of the odic emanations of man, which are identical with flames from magnets, crystals, and in fact from all vegetable organisms.

The unity of the universe was asserted by Paracelsus, who says that “the human body is possessed of primeval stuff (or cosmic matter); the spectroscope has proved the assertion by showing that the same chemical elements which exist upon earth and in the sun, are also found in all the stars. The spectroscope does more: it shows that all the stars are suns, similar in constitution to our own;[296] and as we are told by Professor Mayer,[297] that the magnetic condition of the earth changes with every variation upon the sun’s surface, and is said to be “in subjection[Pg 170] to emanations from the sun,” the stars being suns must also give off emanations which affect us in proportionate degrees.

“In our dreams,” says Paracelsus, “we are like the plants, which have also the elementary and vital body, but possess not the spirit. In our sleep the astral body is free and can, by the elasticity of its nature, either hover round in proximity with its sleeping vehicle, or soar higher to hold converse with its starry parents, or even communicate with its brothers at great distances. Dreams of a prophetic character, prescience, and present wants, are the faculties of the astral spirit. To our elementary and grosser body, these gifts are not imparted, for at death it descends into the bosom of the earth and is reunited to the physical elements, while the several spirits return to the stars. The animals,” he adds, “have also their presentiments, for they too have an astral body.”

Van Helmont, who was a disciple of Paracelsus, says much the same, though his theories on magnetism are more largely developed, and still more carefully elaborated. The Magnale Magnum, the means by which the secret magnetic property “enables one person to affect another mutually, is attributed by him to that universal sympathy which exists between all things in nature. The cause produces the effect, the effect refers itself back to the cause, and both are reciprocated. “Magnetism,” he says, “is an unknown property of a heavenly nature; very much resembling the stars, and not at all impeded by any boundaries of space or time.... Every created being possesses his own celestial power and is closely allied with heaven. This magic power of man, which thus can operate externally, lies, as it were, hidden in the inner man. This magical wisdom and strength thus sleeps, but, by a mere suggestion is roused into activity, and becomes more living, the more the outer man of flesh and the darkness is repressed ... and this, I say, the kabalistic art effects; it brings back to the soul that magical yet natural strength which like a startled sleep had left it.”[298]

Both Van Helmont and Paracelsus agree as to the great potency of the will in the state of ecstasy; they say that “the spirit is everywhere diffused; and the spirit is the medium of magnetism;” that pure primeval magic does not consist in superstitious practices and vain ceremonies but in the imperial will of man. “It is not the spirits of heaven and of hell which are the masters over physical nature, but the soul and spirit of man which are concealed in him as the fire is concealed in the flint.”

The theory of the sidereal influence on man was enunciated by all the mediæval philosophers. “The stars consist equally of the elements[Pg 171] of earthly bodies,” says Cornelius Agrippa, “and therefore the ideas attract each other.... Influences only go forth through the help of the spirit; but this spirit is diffused through the whole universe and is in full accord with the human spirits. The magician who would acquire supernatural powers must possess faith, love, and hope.... In all things there is a secret power concealed, and thence come the miraculous powers of magic.”

The modern theory of General Pleasanton[299] singularly coincides with the views of the fire-philosophers. His view of the positive and negative electricities of man and woman, and the mutual attraction and repulsion of everything in nature seems to be copied from that of Robert Fludd, the Grand Master of the Rosicrucians of England. “When two men approach each other,” says the fire-philosopher, “their magnetism is either passive or active; that is, positive or negative. If the emanations which they send out are broken or thrown back, there arises antipathy. But when the emanations pass through each other from both sides, then there is positive magnetism, for the rays proceed from the centre to the circumference. In this case they not only affect sicknesses but also moral sentiments. This magnetism or sympathy is found not only among animals but also in plants and in animals.”[300]

And now we will notice how, when Mesmer had imported into France his “baquet” and system based entirely on the philosophy and doctrines of the Paracelsites—the great psychological and physiological discovery was treated by the physicians. It will demonstrate how much ignorance, superficiality, and prejudice can be displayed by a scientific body, when the subject clashes with their own cherished theories. It is the more important because, to the neglect of the committee of the French Academy of 1784 is probably due the present materialistic drift of the public mind; and certainly the gaps in the atomic philosophy which we have seen its most devoted teachers confessing to exist. The committee of 1784 comprised men of such eminence as Borie, Sallin, d’Arcet, and the famous Guillotin, to whom were subsequently added, Franklin, Leroi, Bailly, De Borg and Lavoisier. Borie died shortly afterward and Magault succeeded him. There can be no doubt of two things, viz.: that the committee began their work under strong prejudices and only because peremptorily ordered to do it by the king; and that their manner of observing the delicate facts of mesmerism was injudicious and illiberal. Their report, drawn by Bailly, was intended to be a death-blow to the new science. It was spread ostentatiously throughout all the schools and ranks of society, arousing the bitterest feelings[Pg 172] among a large portion of the aristocracy and rich commercial class, who had patronized Mesmer and had been eye-witnesses of his cures. Ant. L. de Jussieu, an academician of the highest rank, who had thoroughly investigated the subject with the eminent court-physician, d’Eslon, published a counter-report drawn with minute exactness, in which he advocated the careful observation by the medical faculty of the therapeutic effects of the magnetic fluid and insisted upon the immediate publication of their discoveries and observations. His demand was met by the appearance of a great number of memoirs, polemical works, and dogmatical books developing new facts; and Thouret’s works entitled Recherches et Doutes sur le Magnetisme Animal, displaying a vast erudition, stimulated research into the records of the past, and the magnetic phenomena of successive nations from the remotest antiquity were laid before the public.

The doctrine of Mesmer was simply a restatement of the doctrines of Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Santanelli, and Maxwell, the Scotchman; and he was even guilty of copying texts from the work of Bertrand, and enunciating them as his own principles.[301] In Professor Stewart’s work,[302] the author regards our universe as composed of atoms with some sort of medium between them as the machine, and the laws of energy as the laws working this machine. Professor Youmans calls this “a modern doctrine,” but we find among the twenty-seven propositions laid down by Mesmer, in 1775, just one century earlier, in his Letter to a Foreign Physician, the following:

1st. There exists a mutual influence between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and living bodies.

2d. A fluid, universally diffused and continued, so as to admit no vacuum, whose subtility is beyond all comparison, and which, from its nature, is capable of receiving, propagating, and communicating all the impressions of motion, is the medium of this influence.

It would appear from this, that the theory is not so modern after all. Professor Balfour Stewart says, “We may regard the universe in the light of a vast physical machine.” And Mesmer:

3d. This reciprocal action is subject to mechanical laws, unknown up to the present time.

Professor Mayer, reaffirming Gilbert’s doctrine that the earth is a great magnet, remarks that the mysterious variations in the intensity of its force seem to be in subjection to emanations from the sun, “changing with the apparent daily and yearly revolutions of that orb, and pulsating in[Pg 173] sympathy with the huge waves of fire which sweep over its surface.” He speaks of “the constant fluctuation, the ebb and flow of the earth’s directive influence.” And Mesmer:

4th.From this action result alternate effects which may be considered a flux and reflux.

6th. It is by this operation (the most universal of those presented to us by nature) that the relations of activity occur between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and its constituent parts.

There are two more which will be interesting reading to our modern scientists:

7th. The properties of matter, and of organized body, depend on this operation.

8th. The animal body experiences the alternate effects of this agent; and it is by insinuating itself into the substance of the nerves, that it immediately affects them.

Among other important works which appeared between 1798 and 1824, when the French Academy appointed its second commission to investigate mesmerism, the Annales du Magnetisme Animal, by the Baron d’Henin de Cuvillier, Lieutenant-General, Chevalier of St. Louis, member of the Academy of Sciences, and correspondent of many of the learned societies of Europe, may be consulted with great advantage. In 1820 the Prussian government instructed the Academy of Berlin to offer a prize of three hundred ducats in gold for the best thesis on mesmerism. The Royal Scientific Society of Paris, under the presidency of His Royal Highness the Duc d’Angoulême, offered a gold medal for the same purpose. The Marquis de la Place, peer of France, one of the Forty of the Academy of Sciences, and honorary member of the learned societies of all the principal European governments, issued a work entitled Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilités, in which this eminent scientist says: “Of all the instruments that we can employ to know the imperceptible agents of nature, the most sensitive are the nerves, especially when exceptional influences increase their sensibility.... The singular phenomena which result from this extreme nervous sensitiveness of certain individuals, have given birth to diverse opinions as to the existence of a new agent, which has been named animal magnetism.... We are so far from knowing all the agents of nature and their various modes of action that it would be hardly philosophical to deny the phenomena, simply because they are inexplicable, in the actual state of our information. It is simply our duty to examine them with an attention as much more scrupulous as it seems difficult to admit them.”

The experiments of Mesmer were vastly improved upon by the Marquis de Puysegur, who entirely dispensed with apparatus and produced[Pg 174] remarkable cures among the tenants of his estate at Busancy. These being given to the public, many other educated men experimented with like success, and in 1825 M. Foissac proposed to the Academy of Medicine to institute a new inquiry. A special committee, consisting of Adelon, Parisey, Marc, Burdin, sen., with Husson as reporter, united in a recommendation that the suggestion should be adopted. They make the manly avowal that “in science no decision whatever is absolute and irrevocable,” and afford us the means to estimate the value which should be attached to the conclusions of the Franklin committee of 1784, by saying that “the experiments on which this judgment was founded appeared to have been conducted without the simultaneous and necessary assembling together of all the commissioners, and also with moral predispositions, which, according to the principles of the fact which they were appointed to examine, must cause their complete failure.”

What they say concerning magnetism as a secret remedy, has been said many times by the most respected writers upon modern Spiritualism, namely: “It is the duty of the Academy to study it, to subject it to trials; finally, to take away the use and practice of it from persons quite strangers to the art, who abuse this means, and make it an object of lucre and speculation.”

This report provoked long debates, but in May, 1826, the Academy appointed a commission which comprised the following illustrious names: Leroux, Bourdois de la Motte, Double, Magendie, Guersant, Husson, Thillaye, Marc, Itard, Fouquier, and Guénau de Mussy. They began their labors immediately, and continued them five years, communicating, through Monsieur Husson, to the Academy the results of their observations. The report embraces accounts of phenomena classified under thirty-four different paragraphs, but as this work is not specially devoted to the science of magnetism, we must be content with a few brief extracts. They assert that neither contact of the hands, frictions, nor passes are invariably needed, since, on several occasions, the will, fixedness of stare, have sufficed to produce magnetic phenomena, even without the knowledge of the magnetized. “Well-attested and therapeutical phenomena” depend on magnetism alone, and are not reproduced without it. The state of somnambulism exists and “occasions the development of new faculties, which have received the denominations of clairvoyance, intuition, internal prevision.” Sleep (the magnetic) has “been excited under circumstances where those magnetized could not see, and were entirely ignorant of the means employed to occasion it. The magnetizer, having once controlled his subject, may “put him completely into somnambulism, take him out of it without his knowledge, out of his sight, at a certain distance, and through closed doors.” The external senses of the sleeper[Pg 175] seem to be completely paralyzed, and a duplicate set to be brought into action. “Most of the time they are entirely strangers to the external and unexpected noise made in their ears, such as the sound of copper vessels, forcibly struck, the fall of any heavy substance, and so forth.... One may make them respire hydrochloric acid or ammonia without inconveniencing them by it, or without even a suspicion on their part.” The committee could “tickle their feet, nostrils, and the angles of the eyes by the approach of a feather, pinch their skin so as to produce ecchymosis, prick it under the nails with pins plunged to a considerable depth, without the evincing of any pain, or by sign of being at all aware of it.” In a word, we have seen one person who was insensible to one of the most painful operations of surgery, and whose countenance, pulse, or respiration did not manifest the slightest emotion.”

So much for the external senses; now let us see what they have to say about the internal ones, which may fairly be considered as proving a marked difference between man and a mutton-protoplasm. “Whilst they are in this state of somnambulism,” say the committee, “the magnetized persons we have observed, retain the exercise of the faculties which they have whilst awake. Their memory even appears to be more faithful and more extensive.... We have seen two somnambulists distinguish, with their eyes shut, the objects placed before them; they have told, without touching them, the color and value of the cards; they have read words traced with the hand, or some lines of books opened by mere chance. This phenomenon took place, even when the opening of the eyelids was accurately closed, by means of the fingers. We met, in two somnambulists, the power of foreseeing acts more or less complicated of the organism. One of them announced several days, nay, several months beforehand, the day, the hour, and the minute when epileptic fits would come on and return; the other declared the time of the cure. Their previsions were realized with remarkable exactness.”

The commission say that “it has collected and communicated facts sufficiently important to induce it to think that the Academy should encourage the researches on magnetism as a very curious branch of psychology and natural history.” The committee conclude by saying that the facts are so extraordinary that they scarcely imagine that the Academy will concede their reality, but protest that they have been throughout animated by motives of a lofty character, “the love of science and by the necessity of justifying the hopes which the Academy had entertained of our zeal and our devotion.”

Their fears were fully justified by the conduct of at least one member of their own number, who had absented himself from the experiments, and, as M. Husson tells us, “did not deem it right to sign the report.”[Pg 176] This was Magendie, the physiologist, who, despite the fact stated by the official report that he had not “been present at the experiments,” did not hesitate to devote four pages of his famous work on Human Physiology to the subject of mesmerism, and after summarizing its alleged phenomena, without endorsing them as unreservedly as the erudition and scientific acquirements of his fellow committee-men would seem to have exacted, says: “Self-respect and the dignity of the profession demand circumspection on these points. He (the well-informed physician) will remember how readily mystery glides into charlatanry, and how apt the profession is to become degraded even by its semblance when countenanced by respectable practitioners.” No word in the context lets his readers into the secret that he had been duly appointed by the Academy to serve on the commission of 1826; had absented himself from its sittings; had so failed to learn the truth about mesmeric phenomena, and was now pronouncing judgment ex parte. “Self-respect and the dignity of the profession” probably exacted silence!

Thirty-eight years later, an English scientist, whose specialty is the investigation of physics, and whose reputation is even greater than that of Magendie, stooped to as unfair a course of conduct. When the opportunity offered to investigate the spiritualistic phenomena, and aid in taking it out of the hands of ignorant or dishonest investigators, Professor John Tyndall avoided the subject; but in his Fragments of Science, he was guilty of the ungentlemanly expressions which we have quoted in another place.

But we are wrong; he made one attempt, and that sufficed. He tells us, in the Fragments, that he once got under a table, to see how the raps were made, and arose with a despair for humanity, such as he never felt before! Israel Putnam, crawling on hand and knee to kill the she-wolf in her den, partially affords a parallel by which to estimate the chemist’s courage in groping in the dark after the ugly truth; but Putnam killed his wolf, and Tyndall was devoured by his! “Sub mensa desperatio” should be the motto on his shield.

Speaking of the report of the committee of 1824, Dr. Alphonse Teste, a distinguished contemporaneous scientist, says that it produced a great impression on the Academy, but few convictions: “No one could question the veracity of the commissioners, whose good faith as well as great knowledge were undeniable, but they were suspected of having been dupes. In fact, there are certain unfortunate truths which compromise those who believe in them, and those especially who are so candid as to avow them publicly.” How true this is, let the records of history, from the earliest times to this very day, attest. When Professor Robert Hare announced the preliminary results of his spiritualistic investigations, he,[Pg 177] albeit one of the most eminent chemists and physicists in the world, was, nevertheless, regarded as a dupe. When he proved that he was not, he was charged with having fallen into dotage; the Harvard professors denouncing “his insane adherence to the gigantic humbug.”

When the professor began his investigations in 1853, he announced that he “felt called upon, as an act of duty to his fellow-creatures, to bring whatever influence he possessed to the attempt to stem the tide of popular madness, which, in defiance of reason and science, was fast setting in favor of the gross delusion called Spiritualism.” Though, according to his declaration, he “entirely coincided with Faraday’s theory of table-turning,” he had the true greatness which characterizes the princes of science to make his investigation thorough, and then tell the truth. How he was rewarded by his life-long associates, let his own words tell. In an address delivered in New York, in September, 1854, he says that “he had been engaged in scientific pursuits for upwards of half a century, and his accuracy and precision had never been questioned, until he had become a spiritualist; while his integrity as a man had never in his life been assailed, until the Harvard professors fulminated their report against that which he knew to be true, and which they did not know to be false.”

How much mournful pathos is expressed in these few words! An old man of seventy-six—a scientist of half a century, deserted for telling the truth! And now Mr. A. R. Wallace, who had previously been esteemed among the most illustrious of British scientists, having proclaimed his belief in spiritualism and mesmerism, is spoken of in terms of compassion. Professor Nicholas Wagner, of St. Petersburg, whose reputation as a zöologist is one of the most conspicuous, in his turn pays the penalty of his exceptional candor, in his outrageous treatment by the Russian scientists!

There are scientists and scientists; and if the occult sciences suffer in the instance of modern spiritualism from the malice of one class, nevertheless, they have had their defenders at all times among men whose names have shed lustre upon science itself. In the first rank stands Isaac Newton, “the light of science,” who was a thorough believer in magnetism, as taught by Paracelsus, Van Helmont, and by the fire-philosophers in general. No one will presume to deny that his doctrine of universal space and attraction is purely a theory of magnetism. If his own words mean anything at all, they mean that he based all his speculations upon the “soul of the world,” the great universal, magnetic agent, which he called the divine sensorium.[303] “Here,” he says, “the[Pg 178] question is of a very subtile spirit which penetrates through all, even the hardest bodies, and which is concealed in their substance. Through the strength and activity of this spirit, bodies attract each other, and adhere together when brought into contact. Through it, electrical bodies operate at the remotest distance, as well as near at hand, attracting and repelling; through this spirit the light also flows, and is refracted and reflected, and warms bodies. All senses are excited by this spirit, and through it the animals move their limbs. But these things cannot be explained in few words, and we have not yet sufficient experience to determine fully the laws by which this universal spirit operates.”

There are two kinds of magnetization; the first is purely animal, the other transcendent, and depending on the will and knowledge of the mesmerizer, as well as on the degree of spirituality of the subject, and his capacity to receive the impressions of the astral light. But now it is next to ascertain that clairvoyance depends a great deal more on the former than on the latter. To the power of an adept, like Du Potet, the most positive subject will have to submit. If his sight is ably directed by the mesmerizer, magician, or spirit, the light must yield up its most secret records to our scrutiny; for, if it is a book which is ever closed to those “who see and do not perceive,” on the other hand it is ever opened for one who wills to see it opened. It keeps an unmutilated record of all that was, that is, or ever will be. The minutest acts of our lives are imprinted on it, and even our thoughts rest photographed on its eternal tablets. It is the book which we see opened by the angel in the Revelation, “which is the Book of life, and out of which the dead are judged according to their works.” It is, in short, the MEMORY of GOD!

“The oracles assert that the impression of thoughts, characters, men, and other divine visions, appear in the æther.... In this the things without figure are figured,” says an ancient fragment of the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster.[304]

Thus, ancient as well as modern wisdom, vaticination and science, agree in corroborating the claims of the kabalists. It is on the indestructible tablets of the astral light that is stamped the impression of every thought we think, and every act we perform; and that future events—effects of long-forgotten causes—are already delineated as a vivid picture for the eye of the seer and prophet to follow. Memory—the despair of the materialist, the enigma of the psychologist, the sphinx of science—is to the student of old philosophies merely a name to express that power which man unconsciously exerts, and shares with[Pg 179] many of the inferior animals—to look with inner sight into the astral light, and there behold the images of past sensations and incidents. Instead of searching the cerebral ganglia for “micrographs of the living and the dead, of scenes that we have visited, of incidents in which we have borne a part,”[305] they went to the vast repository where the records of every man’s life as well as every pulsation of the visible cosmos are stored up for all Eternity!

That flash of memory which is traditionally supposed to show a drowning man every long-forgotten scene of his mortal life—as the landscape is revealed to the traveller by intermittent flashes of lightning—is simply the sudden glimpse which the struggling soul gets into the silent galleries where his history is depicted in imperishable colors.

The well-known fact—one corroborated by the personal experience of nine persons out of ten—that we often recognize as familiar to us, scenes, and landscapes, and conversations, which we see or hear for the first time, and sometimes in countries never visited before, is a result of the same causes. Believers in reïncarnation adduce this as an additional proof of our antecedent existence in other bodies. This recognition of men, countries, and things that we have never seen, is attributed by them to flashes of soul-memory of anterior experiences. But the men of old, in common with mediæval philosophers, firmly held to a contrary opinion.

They affirmed that though this psychological phenomenon was one of the greatest arguments in favor of immortality and the soul’s preëxistence, yet the latter being endowed with an individual memory apart from that of our physical brain, it is no proof of reïncarnation. As Eliphas Levi beautifully expresses it, “nature shuts the door after everything that passes, and pushes life onward” in more perfected forms. The chrysalis becomes a butterfly; the latter can never become again a grub. In the stillness of the night-hours, when our bodily senses are fast locked in the fetters of sleep, and our elementary body rests, the astral form becomes free. It then oozes out of its earthly prison, and as Paracelsus has it—“confabulates with the outward world,” and travels round the visible as well as the invisible worlds. “In sleep,” he says, “the astral body (soul) is in freer motion; then it soars to its parents, and holds converse with the stars.” Dreams, forebodings, prescience, prognostications and presentiments are impressions left by our astral spirit on our brain, which receives them more or less distinctly, according to the proportion of blood with which it is supplied during the hours of sleep. The more the body is exhausted, the freer is the spiritual man, and the more vivid the impressions of our soul’s memory. In heavy and robust sleep, dreamless[Pg 180] and uninterrupted, upon awakening to outward consciousness, men may sometimes remember nothing. But the impressions of scenes and landscapes which the astral body saw in its peregrinations are still there, though lying latent under the pressure of matter. They may be awakened at any moment, and then, during such flashes of man’s inner memory, there is an instantaneous interchange of energies between the visible and the invisible universes. Between the “micrographs” of the cerebral ganglia and the photo-scenographic galleries of the astral light, a current is established. And a man who knows that he has never visited in body, nor seen the landscape and person that he recognizes may well assert that still has he seen and knows them, for the acquaintance was formed while travelling in “spirit.” To this the physiologists can have but one objection. They will answer that in natural sleep—perfect and deep, “half of our nature which is volitional is in the condition of inertia;” hence unable to travel; the more so as the existence of any such individual astral body or soul is considered by them little else than a poetical myth. Blumenbach assures us that in the state of sleep, all intercourse between mind and body is suspended; an assertion which is denied by Dr. Richardson, F. R. S., who honestly reminds the German scientist that “the precise limits and connections of mind and body being unknown” it is more than should be said. This confession, added to those of the French physiologist, Fournié, and the still more recent one of Dr. Allchin, an eminent London physician, who frankly avowed, in an address to students, that “of all scientific pursuits which practically concern the community, there is none perhaps which rests upon so uncertain and insecure a basis as medicine,” gives us a certain right to offset the hypotheses of ancient scientists against those of the modern ones.

No man, however gross and material he may be, can avoid leading a double existence; one in the visible universe, the other in the invisible. The life-principle which animates his physical frame is chiefly in the astral body; and while the more animal portions of him rest, the more spiritual ones know neither limits nor obstacles. We are perfectly aware that many learned, as well as the unlearned, will object to such a novel theory of the distribution of the life-principle. They would prefer remaining in blissful ignorance and go on confessing that no one knows or can pretend to tell whence and whither this mysterious agent appears and disappears, than to give one moment’s attention to what they consider old and exploded theories. Some might object on the ground taken by theology, that dumb brutes have no immortal souls, and hence, can have no astral spirits; for theologians as well as laymen labor under the erroneous impression that soul and spirit are one and the same thing.[Pg 181] But if we study Plato and other philosophers of old, we may readily perceive that while the “irrational soul,” by which Plato meant our astral body, or the more ethereal representation of ourselves, can have at best only a more or less prolonged continuity of existence beyond the grave; the divine spirit—wrongly termed soul, by the Church—is immortal by its very essence. (Any Hebrew scholar will readily appreciate the distinction who comprehends the difference between the two words רוח ruah and נפש nephesh.) If the life-principle is something apart from the astral spirit and in no way connected with it, why is it that the intensity of the clairvoyant powers depends so much on the bodily prostration of the subject? The deeper the trance, the less signs of life the body shows, the clearer become the spiritual perceptions, and the more powerful are the soul’s visions. The soul, disburdened of the bodily senses, shows activity of power in a far greater degree of intensity than it can in a strong, healthy body. Brierre de Boismont gives repeated instances of this fact. The organs of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing are proved to become far acuter in a mesmerized subject deprived of the possibility of exercising them bodily, than while he uses them in his normal state.

Such facts alone, once proved, ought to stand as invincible demonstrations of the continuity of individual life, at least for a certain period after the body has been left by us, either by reason of its being worn out or by accident. But though during its brief sojourn on earth our soul may be assimilated to a light hidden under a bushel, it still shines more or less bright and attracts to itself the influences of kindred spirits; and when a thought of good or evil import is begotten in our brain, it draws to it impulses of like nature as irresistibly as the magnet attracts iron filings. This attraction is also proportionate to the intensity with which the thought-impulse makes itself felt in the ether; and so it will be understood how one man may impress himself upon his own epoch so forcibly, that the influence may be carried—through the ever-interchanging currents of energy between the two worlds, the visible and the invisible—from one succeeding age to another, until it affects a large portion of mankind.

How much the authors of the famous work entitled the Unseen Universe may have allowed themselves to think in this direction, it would be difficult to say; but that they have not told all they might will be inferred from the following language:

“Regard it as you please, there can be no doubt that the properties of the ether are of a much higher order in the arena of nature than those of tangible matter. And, as even the high priests of science still find the latter far beyond their comprehension, except in numerous but minute[Pg 182] and often isolated particulars, it would not become us to speculate further. It is sufficient for our purpose to know from what the ether certainly does, that it is capable of vastly more than any has yet ventured to say.”

One of the most interesting discoveries of modern times, is that of the faculty which enables a certain class of sensitive persons to receive from any object held in the hand or against the forehead impressions of the character or appearance of the individual, or any other object with which it has previously been in contact. Thus a manuscript, painting, article of clothing, or jewelry—no matter how ancient—conveys to the sensitive, a vivid picture of the writer, painter, or wearer; even though he lived in the days of Ptolemy or Enoch. Nay, more; a fragment of an ancient building will recall its history and even the scenes which transpired within or about it. A bit of ore will carry the soul-vision back to the time when it was in process of formation. This faculty is called by its discoverer—Professor J. R. Buchanan, of Louisville, Kentucky—psychometry. To him, the world is indebted for this most important addition to Psychological Sciences; and to him, perhaps, when skepticism is found felled to the ground by such accumulation of facts, posterity will have to elevate a statue. In announcing to the public his great discovery, Professor Buchanan, confining himself to the power of psychometry to delineate human character, says: “The mental and physiological influence imparted to writing appears to be imperishable, as the oldest specimens I have investigated gave their impressions with a distinctness and force, little impaired by time. Old manuscripts, requiring an antiquary to decipher their strange old penmanship, were easily interpreted by the psychometric power.... The property of retaining the impress of mind is not limited to writing. Drawings, paintings, everything upon which human contact, thought, and volition have been expended, may become linked with that thought and life, so as to recall them to the mind of another when in contact.”

Without, perhaps, really knowing, at the early time of the grand discovery, the significance of his own prophetic words, the Professor adds: “This discovery, in its application to the arts and to history, will open a mine of interesting knowledge.”[306]

The existence of this faculty was first experimentally demonstrated in 1841. It has since been verified by a thousand psychometers in different parts of the world. It proves that every occurrence in nature—no matter how minute or unimportant—leaves its indelible impress upon physical nature; and, as there has been no appreciable molecular[Pg 183] disturbance, the only inference possible is, that these images have been produced by that invisible, universal force—Ether, or astral light.

In his charming work, entitled The Soul of Things, Professor Denton the geologist,[307] enters at great length into a discussion of this subject. He gives a multitude of examples of the psychometrical power, which Mrs. Denton possesses in a marked degree. A fragment of Cicero’s house, at Tusculum, enabled her to describe, without the slightest intimation as to the nature of the object placed on her forehead, not only the great orator’s surroundings, but also the previous owner of the building, Cornelius Sulla Felix, or, as he is usually called, Sulla the Dictator. A fragment of marble from the ancient Christian Church of Smyrna, brought before her its congregation and officiating priests. Specimens from Nineveh, China, Jerusalem, Greece, Ararat, and other places all over the world brought up scenes in the life of various personages, whose ashes had been scattered thousands of years ago. In many cases Professor Denton verified the statements by reference to historical records. More than this, a bit of the skeleton, or a fragment of the tooth of some antediluvian animal, caused the seeress to perceive the creature as it was when alive, and even live for a few brief moments its life, and experience its sensations. Before the eager quest of the psychometer, the most hidden recesses of the domain of nature yield up their secrets; and the events of the most remote epochs rival in vividness of impression the flitting circumstances of yesterday.

Says the author, in the same work: “Not a leaf waves, not an insect crawls, not a ripple moves, but each motion is recorded by a thousand faithful scribes in infallible and indelible scripture. This is just as true of all past time. From the dawn of light upon this infant globe, when round its cradle the steamy curtains hung, to this moment, nature has been busy photographing everything. What a picture-gallery is hers!”

It appears to us the height of impossibility to imagine that scenes in ancient Thebes, or in some temple of prehistoric times should be photographed only upon the substance of certain atoms. The images of the events are imbedded in that all-permeating, universal, and ever-retaining medium, which the philosophers call the “Soul of the World,” and Mr. Denton “the Soul of Things.” The psychometer, by applying the fragment of a substance to his forehead, brings his inner-self into relations with the inner soul of the object he handles. It is now admitted that the universal æther pervades all things in nature, even the most solid. It is beginning to be admitted, also, that this preserves the images of all[Pg 184] things which transpire. When the psychometer examines his specimen, he is brought in contact with the current of the astral light, connected with that specimen, and which retains pictures of the events associated with its history. These, according to Denton, pass before his vision with the swiftness of light; scene after scene crowding upon each other so rapidly, that it is only by the supreme exercise of the will that he is able to hold any one in the field of vision long enough to describe it.

The psychometer is clairvoyant; that is, he sees with the inner eye. Unless his will-power is very strong, unless he has thoroughly trained himself to that particular phenomenon, and his knowledge of the capabilities of his sight are profound, his perceptions of places, persons, and events, must necessarily be very confused. But in the case of mesmerization, in which this same clairvoyant faculty is developed, the operator, whose will holds that of the subject under control, can force him to concentrate his attention upon a given picture long enough to observe all its minute details. Moreover, under the guidance of an experienced mesmerizer, the seer would excel the natural psychometer in having a prevision of future events, more distinct and clear than the latter. And to those who might object to the possibility of perceiving that which “yet is not,” we may put the question: Why is it more impossible to see that which will be, than to bring back to sight that which is gone, and is no more? According to the kabalistic doctrine, the future exists in the astral light in embryo, as the present existed in embryo in the past. While man is free to act as he pleases, the manner in which he will act was foreknown from all time; not on the ground of fatalism or destiny, but simply on the principle of universal, unchangeable harmony; and, as it may be foreknown that, when a musical note is struck, its vibrations will not, and cannot change into those of another note. Besides, eternity can have neither past nor future, but only the present; as boundless space, in its strictly literal sense, can have neither distant nor proximate places. Our conceptions, limited to the narrow area of our experience, attempt to fit if not an end, at least a beginning of time and space; but neither of these exist in reality; for in such case time would not be eternal, nor space boundless. The past no more exists than the future, as we have said, only our memories survive; and our memories are but the glimpses that we catch of the reflections of this past in the currents of the astral light, as the psychometer catches them from the astral emanations of the object held by him.

Says Professor E. Hitchcock, when speaking of the influences of light upon bodies, and of the formation of pictures upon them by means of it: “It seems, then, that this photographic influence pervades all nature; nor can we say where it stops. We do not know but it may imprint upon[Pg 185] the world around us our features, as they are modified by various passions, and thus fill nature with daguerreotype impressions of all our actions; ... it may be, too, that there are tests by which nature, more skilful than any photographist, can bring out and fix these portraits, so that acuter senses than ours shall see them as on a great canvas, spread over the material universe. Perhaps, too, they may never fade from that canvas, but become specimens in the great picture-gallery of eternity.”[308]

The “perhaps” of Professor Hitchcock is henceforth changed by the demonstration of psychometry into a triumphant certitude. Those who understand these psychological and clairvoyant faculties will take exception to Professor Hitchcock’s idea, that acuter senses than ours are needed to see these pictures upon his supposed cosmic canvas, and maintain that he should have confined his limitations to the external senses of the body. The human spirit, being of the Divine, immortal Spirit, appreciates neither past nor future, but sees all things as in the present. These daguerreotypes referred to in the above quotation are imprinted upon the astral light, where, as we said before—and, according to the Hermetic teaching, the first portion of which is already accepted and demonstrated by science—is kept the record of all that was, is, or ever will be.

Of late, some of our learned men have given a particular attention to a subject hitherto branded with the mark of “superstition.” They begin speculating on hypothetical and invisible worlds. The authors of the Unseen Universe were the first to boldly take the lead, and already they find a follower in Professor Fiske, whose speculations are given in the Unseen World. Evidently the scientists are probing the insecure ground of materialism, and, feeling it trembling under their feet, are preparing for a less dishonorable surrender of arms in case of defeat. Jevons confirms Babbage, and both firmly believe that every thought, displacing the particles of the brain and setting them in motion, scatters them throughout the universe, and think that “each particle of the existing matter must be a register of all that has happened.”[309] On the other hand, Dr. Thomas Young, in his lectures on natural philosophy, most positively invites us to “speculate with freedom on the possibility of independent worlds; some existing in different parts, others pervading each other, unseen and unknown, in the same space, and others again to which space may not be a necessary mode of existence.”

If scientists, proceeding from a strictly scientific point of view, such as the possibility of energy being transferred into the invisible universe—and on the principle of continuity, indulge in such speculations, why should occultists and spiritualists be refused the same privilege?[Pg 186] Ganglionic impressions on the surface of polished metal, are registered and may be preserved for an indefinite space of time, according to science; and Professor Draper illustrates the fact most poetically. “A shadow,” says he, “never falls upon a wall without leaving thereupon a permanent trace, a trace which might be made visible by resorting to proper processes.... The portraits of our friends, or landscape-views, may be hidden on the sensitive surface from the eye, but they are ready to make their appearance, as soon as proper developers are resorted to. A spectre is concealed on a silver or glassy surface, until, by our necromancy, we make it come forth into the visible world. Upon the walls of our most private apartments, where we think the eye of intrusion is altogether shut out, and our retirement can never be profaned, there exist the vestiges of all our acts, silhouettes of whatever we have done.”[310]

If an indelible impression may be thus obtained on inorganic matter, and if nothing is lost or passes completely out of existence in the universe, why such a scientific levee of arms against the authors of the Unseen Universe? And on what ground can they reject the hypothesis that “Thought, conceived to affect the matter of another universe simultaneously with this, may explain a future state?”[311]

In our opinion, if psychometry is one of the grandest proofs of the indestructibility of matter, retaining eternally the impressions of the outward world, the possession of that faculty by our inner sight is a still greater one in favor of the immortality of man’s individual spirit. Capable of discerning events which took place hundreds of thousands of years ago, why would it not apply the same faculty to a future lost in the eternity, in which there can be neither past nor future, but only one boundless present?

Notwithstanding the confessions of stupendous ignorance in some things, made by the scientists themselves, they still deny the existence of that mysterious spiritual force, lying beyond the grasp of the ordinary physical laws. They still hope to be able to apply to living beings the same laws which they have found to answer in reference to dead matter. And, having discovered what the kabalists term “the gross purgations” of Ether—light, heat, electricity, and motion—they have rejoiced over their good fortune, counted its vibrations in producing the colors of the spectrum; and, proud of their achievements, refuse to see any further. Several men of science have pondered more or less over its protean essence, and unable to measure it with their photometers, called it “an hypothetical medium of great elasticity and extreme tenuity, supposed to[Pg 187] pervade all space, the interior of solid bodies not excepted;” and, “to be the medium of transmission of light and heat” (Dictionary). Others, whom we will name “the will-o’-the-wisps” of science—her pseudo-sons—examined it also, and even went to the trouble of scrutinizing it “through powerful glasses,” they tell us. But perceiving neither spirits nor ghosts in it, and failing equally to discover in its treacherous waves anything of a more scientific character, they turned round and called all believers in immortality in general, and spiritualists in particular, “insane fools” and “visionary lunatics;”[312] the whole, in doleful accents, perfectly appropriate to the circumstance of such a sad failure.

Say the authors of the Unseen Universe:

“We have driven the operation of that mystery called Life out of the objective universe. The mistake made, lies in imagining that by this process they completely get rid of a thing so driven before them, and that it disappears from the universe altogether. It does no such thing. It only disappears from that small circle of light which we may call the universe of scientific perception. Call it the trinity of mystery: mystery of matter, the mystery of life and—the mystery of God—and these three are One.”[313]

Taking the ground that “the visible universe must certainly, in transformable energy, and probably in matter, come to an end,” and “the principle of continuity ... still demanding a continuance of the universe...” the authors of this remarkable work find themselves forced to believe
“that there is something beyond that which is visible[314] ... and that the visible system is not the whole universe but only, it may be, a very small part of it.” Furthermore, looking back as well as forward to the origin of this visible universe, the authors urge that “if the visible universe is all that exists then the first abrupt manifestation of it is as truly a break of continuity as its final overthrow” (Art. 85). Therefore, as such a break is against the accepted law of continuity, the authors come to the following conclusion:—

“Now, is it not natural to imagine, that a universe of this nature, which we have reason to think exists, and is connected by bonds of energy with the visible universe, is also capable of receiving energy from it?... May we not regard Ether, or the medium, as not merely a bridge[315] between[Pg 188] one order of things and another, forming as it were a species of cement, in virtue of which the various orders of the universe are welded together and made into one? In fine, what we generally called Ether, may be not a mere medium, but a medium plus the invisible order of things, so that when the motions of the visible universe are transferred into Ether, part of them are conveyed as by a bridge into the invisible universe, and are there made use of and stored up. Nay, is it even necessary to retain the conception of a bridge? May we not at once say that when energy is carried from matter into Ether, it is carried from the visible into the invisible; and that when it is carried from Ether to matter it is carried from the invisible into the visible?“(Art. 198, Unseen Universe.)

Precisely; and were Science to take a few more steps in that direction and fathom more seriously the “hypothetical medium” who knows but Tyndall’s impassable chasm between the physical processes of the brain and consciousness, might be—at least intellectually—passed with surprising ease and safety.

So far back as 1856, a man considered a savant in his days—Dr. Jobard of Paris,—had certainly the same ideas as the authors of the Unseen Universe, on ether, when he startled the press and the world of science by the following declaration: “I hold a discovery which frightens me. There are two kinds of electricity; one, brute and blind, is produced by the contact of metals and acids;” (the gross purgation) ... “the other is intelligent and CLAIRVOYANT!... Electricity has bifurcated itself in the hands of Galvani, Nobili, and Matteuci. The brute force of the current has followed Jacobi, Bonelli, and Moncal, while the intellectual one was following Bois-Robert, Thilorier, and the Chevalier Duplanty. The electric ball or globular electricity contains a thought which disobeys Newton and Mariotte to follow its own freaks.... We have, in the annals of the Academy, thousands of proofs of the INTELLIGENCE of the electric bolt.... But I remark that I am permitting myself to become indiscreet. A little more and I should have disclosed to you the key which is about to discover to us the universal spirit.”[316]

The foregoing, added to the wonderful confessions of science and what we have just quoted from the Unseen Universe, throw an additional lustre on the wisdom of the long departed ages. In one of the preceding chapters we have alluded to a quotation from Cory’s translation of Ancient Fragments, in which it appears that one of the Chaldean Oracles expresses this self-same idea about ether, and in language singularly like[Pg 189] that of the authors of the Unseen Universe. It states that from æther have come all things, and to it all will return; that the images of all things are indelibly impressed upon it; and that it is the storehouse of the germs or of the remains of all visible forms, and even ideas. It appears as if this case strangely corroborates our assertion that whatever discoveries may be made in our days will be found to have been anticipated by many thousand years by our “simple-minded ancestors.”

At the point at which we are now arrived, the attitude assumed by the materialists toward psychical phenomena being perfectly defined, we may assert with safety that were this key lying loose on the threshold of the “chasm” not one of our Tyndalls would stoop to pick it up.

How timid would appear to some kabalists these tentative efforts to solve the GREAT MYSTERY of the universal ether! Although so far in advance of anything propounded by contemporary philosophers, what the intelligent explorers of the Unseen Universe speculate upon, was to the masters of hermetic philosophy familiar science. To them ether was not merely a bridge connecting the seen and unseen sides of the universe, but across its span their daring feet followed the road that led through the mysterious gates which modern speculators either will not or cannot unlock.

The deeper the research of the modern explorer, the more often he comes face to face with the discoveries of the ancients. Does Elie de Beaumont, the great French geologist, venture a hint upon the terrestrial circulation, in relation to some elements in the earth’s crust, he finds himself anticipated by the old philosophers. Do we demand of distinguished technologists, what are the most recent discoveries in regard to the origin of the metalliferous deposits? We hear one of them, Professor Sterry Hunt, in showing us how water is a universal solvent, enunciating the doctrine held and taught by the old Thales, more than two dozen centuries ago, that water was the principle of all things. We listen to the same professor, with de Beaumont as authority, expounding the terrestrial circulation, and the chemical and physical phenomena of the material world. While we read with pleasure that he is “not prepared to concede that we have in chemical and physical processes the whole secret of organic life,” we note with a still greater delight the following honest confession on his part: “Still we are, in many respects, approximating the phenomena of the organic world to those of the mineral kingdom; and we at the same time learn that these so far interest and depend upon each other that we begin to see a certain truth underlying the notion of those old philosophers, who extended to the mineral world the notion of a vital force, which led them to speak of the earth as a great living organism, and to look upon the various changes of its air, its waters, and its rocky depths, as processes belonging to the life of our planet.”

[Pg 190]

Everything in this world must have a beginning. Things have latterly gone so far with scientists in the matter of prejudice, that it is quite a wonder that even so much as this should be conceded to ancient philosophy. The poor, honest primordial elements have long been exiled, and our ambitious men of science run races to determine who shall add one more to the fledgling brood of the sixty-three or more elementary substances. Meanwhile there rages a war in modern chemistry about terms. We are denied the right to call these substances “chemical elements,” for they are not “primordial principles or self-existing essences out of which the universe was fashioned.”[317] Such ideas associated with the word element were good enough for the “old Greek philosophy,” but modern science rejects them; for, as Professor Cooke says, “they are unfortunate terms,” and experimental science will have “nothing to do with any kind of essences except those which it can see, smell, or taste.” It must have those that can be put in the eye, the nose, or the mouth! It leaves others to the metaphysicians.

Therefore, when Van Helmont tells us that, “though a homogeneal part of elementary earth may be artfully (artificially) converted into water,” though he still denies “that the same can be done by nature alone; for no natural agent is able to transmute one element into another,” offering as a reason that the elements always remain the same, we must believe him, if not quite an ignoramus, at least an unprogressed disciple of the mouldy “old Greek philosophy.” Living and dying in blissful ignorance of the future sixty-three substances, what could either he or his old master, Paracelsus, achieve? Nothing, of course, but metaphysical and crazy speculations, clothed in a meaningless jargon common to all mediæval and ancient alchemists. Nevertheless, in comparing notes, we find in the latest of all works upon modern chemistry, the following: “The study of chemistry has revealed a remarkable class of substances, from no one of which a second substance has ever been produced by any chemical process which weighs less than the original substance ... by no chemical process whatever can we obtain from iron a substance weighing less than the metal used in its production. In a word, we can extract from iron nothing but iron.”[318] Moreover, it appears, according to Professor Cooke, that “seventy-five years ago men did not know there was any difference” between elementary and compound substances, for in old times alchemists had never conceived “that weight is the measure of material, and that, as thus measured, no material is ever lost; but, on the contrary, they imagined that in such experiments[319] as these the substances involved underwent a mysterious transformation.... Centuries,” in short,[Pg 191] “were wasted in vain attempts to transform the baser metals into gold.”

Is Professor Cooke, so eminent in modern chemistry, equally proficient in the knowledge of what the alchemists did or did not know? Is he quite sure that he understands the meaning of the alchemical diction? We are not. But let us compare his views as above expressed with but sentences written in plain and good, albeit old English, from the translations of Van Helmont and Paracelsus. We learn from their own admissions that the alkahest induces the following changes:

“(1.) The alkahest never destroys the seminal virtues of the bodies thereby dissolved: for instance, gold, by its action, is reduced to a salt of gold, antimony to a salt of antimony, etc., of the same seminal virtues, or characters with the original concrete. (2.) The subject exposed to its operation is converted into its three principles, salt, sulphur, and mercury, and afterwards into salt alone, which then becomes volatile, and at length is wholly turned into clear water. (3.) Whatever it dissolves may be rendered volatile by a sand-heat; and if, after volatilizing the solvent, it be distilled therefrom, the body is left pure, insipid water, but always equal in quantity to its original self.” Further, we find Van Helmont, the elder, saying of this salt that it will dissolve the most untractable bodies into substances of the same seminal virtues, “equal in weight to the matter dissolved;” and he adds, “This salt, by being several times cohobated with Paracelsus, sal circulatum, loses all its fixedness, and at length becomes an insipid water, equal in quantity to the salt it was made from.”[320]

The objection that might be made by Professor Cooke, in behalf of modern science, to the hermetic expressions, would equally apply to the Egyptian hieratic writings—they hide that which was meant to be concealed. If he would profit by the labors of the past, he must employ the cryptographer, and not the satirist. Paracelsus, like the rest, exhausted his ingenuity in transpositions of letters and abbreviations of words and sentences. For example, when he wrote sutratur he meant tartar, and mutrin meant nitrum, and so on. There was no end to the pretended explanations of the meaning of the alkahest. Some imagined that it was an alkaline of salt of tartar salatilized; others that it meant algeist, a German word which means all-spirit, or spirituous. Paracelsus usually termed salt “the centre of water wherein metals ought to die.” This gave rise to the most absurd suppositions, and some persons—such as Glauber—thought that the alkahest was the spirit of salt. It requires no little hardihood to assert that Paracelsus and his colleagues were ignorant of the natures of elementary and compound substances; they may not be called by the[Pg 192] same names as are now in fashion, but that they were known is proved by the results attained. What matters it by what name the gas given off when iron is dissolved in sulphuric acid was called by Paracelsus, since he is recognized, even by our standard authorities, as the discoverer of hydrogen?[321] His merit is the same; and though Van Helmont may have concealed, under the name “seminal virtues,” his knowledge of the fact that elementary substances have their original properties, which the entering into compounds only temporarily modifies—never destroys—he was none the less the greatest chemist of his age, and the peer of modern scientists. He affirmed that the aurum potabile could be obtained with the alkahest, by converting the whole body of gold into salt, retaining its seminal virtues, and being soluble in water. When chemists learn what he meant by aurum potabile, alkahest, salt, and seminal virtues—what he really meant, not what he said he meant, nor what was thought he meant—then, and not before, can our chemists safely assume such airs toward the fire-philosophers and those ancient masters whose mystic teachings they reverently studied. One thing is clear, at any rate. Taken merely in its exoteric form, this language of Van Helmont shows that he understood the solubility of metallic substances in water, which Sterry Hunt makes the basis of his theory of metalliferous deposits. We would like to see what sort of terms would be invented by our scientific contempories to conceal and yet half-reveal their audacious proposition that man’s “only God is the cineritious matter of his brain,” if in the basement of the new Court House or the cathedral on Fifth Avenue there were a torture-chamber, to which judge or cardinal could send them at will.

Professor Sterry Hunt says in one of his lectures:[322] “The alchemists sought in vain for a universal solvent; but we now know that water, aided in some cases by heat, pressure, and the presence of certain widely-distributed substances, such as carbonic acid and alkaline carbonates and sulphides, will dissolve the most insoluble bodies; so that it may, after all, be looked upon as the long-sought for alkahest or universal menstruum.”

This reads almost like a paraphrase of Van Helmont, or Paracelsus himself! They knew the properties of water as a solvent as well as modern chemists, and what is more, made no concealment of the fact; which shows that this was not their universal solvent. Many commentaries and criticisms of their works are still extant, and one can hardly take up a book on the subject without finding at least one of their[Pg 193] speculations of which they never thought of making a mystery. This is what we find in an old work on alchemists—a satire, moreover—of 1820, written at the beginning of our century when the new theories on the chemical potency of water were hardly in their embryonic state.

“It may throw some light to observe, that Van Helmont, as well as Paracelsus, took water for the universal instrument (agent?) of chymistry and natural philosophy; and earth for the unchangeable basis of all things—that fire was assigned as the sufficient cause of all things—that seminal impressions were lodged in the mechanism of the earth—that water, by dissolving and fermenting with this earth, as it does by means of fire, brings forth everything; whence originally proceeded animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms.”[323]

The alchemists understand well this universal potency of water. In the works of Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Philalethes, Pantatem, Tachenius, and even Boyle, “the great characteristic of the alkahest,” “to dissolve and change all sublunary bodies—water alone excepted,” is explicitly stated. And is it possible to believe that Van Helmont, whose private character was unimpeachable, and whose great learning was universally recognized, should most solemnly declare himself possessed of the secret, were it but a vain boast![324]

In a recent address at Nashville, Tennessee, Professor Huxley laid down a certain rule with respect to the validity of human testimony as a basis of history and science, which we are quite ready to apply to the present case. “It is impossible,” he says, “that one’s practical life should not be more or less influenced by the views which we may hold as to what has been the past history of things. One of them is human testimony in its various shapes—all testimony of eye-witnesses, traditional testimony from the lips of those who have been eye-witnesses, and the testimony of those who have put their impressions into writing and into print.... If you read Cæsar’s Commentaries, wherever he gives an account of his battles with the Gauls, you place a certain amount of confidence in his statements. You take his testimony upon this. You feel that Cæsar would not have made these statements unless he had believed them to be true.

Now, we cannot in logic permit Mr. Huxley’s philosophical rule to be applied in a one-sided manner to Cæsar. Either that personage was naturally truthful or a natural liar; and since Mr. Huxley has settled that point to his own satisfaction as regards the facts of military history in his favor, we insist that Cæsar is also a competent witness as[Pg 194] to augurs, diviners, and psychological facts. So with Herodotus, and all other ancient authorities, unless they were by nature men of truth, they should not be believed even about civil or military affairs. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. And equally, if they are credible as to physical things, they must be regarded as equally so as to spiritual things; for as Professor Huxley tells us, human nature was of old just as it is now. Men of intellect and conscience did not lie for the pleasure of bewildering or disgusting posterity.

The probabilities of falsification by such men having been defined so clearly by a man of science, we feel free from the necessity of discussing the question in connection with the names of Van Helmont and his illustrious but unfortunate master, the much-slandered Paracelsus. Deleuze, though finding in the works of the former many “mythic, illusory ideas” perhaps only because he could not understand them—credits him nevertheless with a vast knowledge, “an acute judgment,” and at the same time with having given to the world “great truths.” “He was the first,” he adds, “to give the name of gas to aerial fluids. Without him it is probable that steel would have given no new impulse to science.”[325] By what application of the doctrine of chances could we discover the likelihood that experimentalists, capable of resolving and recombining chemical substances, as they are admitted to have done, were ignorant of the nature of elementary substances, their combining energies, and the solvent or solvents, that would disintegrate them when wanted? If they had the reputation only of theorists the case would stand differently and our argument would lose its force, but the chemical discoveries grudgingly accorded to them, by their worst enemies, form the basis for much stronger language than we have permitted ourselves, from a fear of being deemed over partial. And, as this work, moreover, is based on the idea that there is a higher nature of man, that his moral and intellectual faculties should be judged psychologically, we do not hesitate to reaffirm that since Van Helmont asserted, “most solemnly,” that he was possessed of the secret of the alkahest, no modern critic has a right to set him down as either a liar or a visionary, until something more certain is known about the nature of this alleged universal menstruum.

“Facts are stubborn things,” remarks Mr. A. R. Wallace, in his preface to Miracles and Modern Spiritualism. Therefore,[326] as facts must be our[Pg 195] strongest allies, we will bring as many of these forward as the “miracles” of antiquity and those of our modern times will furnish us with. The authors of the Unseen Universe have scientifically demonstrated the possibility of certain alleged psychological phenomena through the medium of the universal ether. Mr. Wallace has as scientifically proved that the whole catalogue of assumptions to the contrary, including the sophisms of Hume, are untenable if brought face to face with strict logic. Mr. Crookes has given to the world of skepticism his own experiments, which lasted above three years before he was conquered by the most undeniable of evidence—that of his own senses. A whole list could be made up of men of science who have recorded their testimony to that effect; and Camille Flammarion, the well-known French astronomer, and author of many works which, in the eyes of the skeptical, should send him to the ranks of the “deluded,” in company with Wallace, Crookes, and Hare, corroborates our words in the following lines:

“I do not hesitate to affirm my conviction, based on a personal examination of the subject, that any scientific man who declares the phenomena denominated ‘magnetic,’ ‘somnambulic,‘ ‘mediumic,’ and others not yet explained by science, to be impossible, is one who speaks without knowing what he is talking about, and also any man accustomed, by his professional avocations, to scientific observations—provided that his mind be not biassed by preconceived opinions, nor his mental vision blinded by that opposite kind of illusion, unhappily too common in the learned world, which consists in imagining that the laws of Nature are already known to us, and that everything which appears to overstep the limit of our present formulas is impossible, may require a radical and absolute certainty of the reality of the facts alluded to.”

In Mr. Crookes’ Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual, on p. 101, this gentleman quotes Mr. Sergeant Cox, who having named this unknown force, psychic, explains it thus: “As the organism is itself moved and directed within the structure by a force—which either is, or is not controlled by—the soul, spirit, or mind ... which constitutes the individual being we term ‘the man,’ it is an equally reasonable conclusion that the force which causes the motions beyond the limits of the body is the same force that produces motion within the limits of the body. And, as the external force is often directed by intelligence, it is an equally reasonable conclusion that the directing intelligence of the external force is the same intelligence that directs the force internally.”

In order to comprehend this theory the better, we may as well divide it in four propositions and show that Mr. Sergeant Cox believes:

1. That the force which produces physical phenomena proceeds from (consequently is generated in) the medium.

[Pg 196]

2. That the intelligence directing the force for the production of the phenomena (a) may sometimes be other than the intelligence of the medium; but of this the “proof” is “insufficient;” therefore, (b) the directing intelligence is probably that of the medium himself. This Mr. Cox calls “a reasonable conclusion.”

3. He assumes that the force which moves the table is identical with the force which moves the medium’s body itself.

4. He strongly disputes the spiritualistic theory, or rather assertion, that “spirits of the dead are the sole agents in the production of all the phenomena.”

Before we fairly proceed on our analysis of such views we must remind the reader that we find ourselves placed between two extreme opposites represented by two parties—the believers and unbelievers in this agency of human spirits. Neither seem capable of deciding the point raised by Mr. Cox; for while the spiritualists are so omnivorous in their credulity as to believe every sound and movement in a circle to be produced by disembodied human beings, their antagonists dogmatically deny that anything can be produced by “spirits,” for there are none. Hence, neither class is in a position to examine the subject without bias.

If they consider that force which “produces motion within the body” and the one “which causes the motion beyond the limits of the body” to be of the same essence, they may be right. But the identity of these two forces stops here. The life-principle which animates Mr. Cox’s body is of the same nature as that of his medium; nevertheless he is not the medium, nor is the latter Mr. Cox.

This force, which, to please Mr. Cox and Mr. Crookes we may just as well call psychic as anything else, proceeds through not from the individual medium. In the latter case this force would be generated in the medium and we are ready to show that it cannot be so; neither in the instances of levitation of human bodies, the moving of furniture and other objects without contact, nor in such cases in which the force shows reason and intelligence. It is a well-known fact to both mediums and spiritualists, that the more the former is passive, the better the manifestations; and every one of the above-mentioned phenomena requires a conscious predetermined will. In cases of levitation, we should have to believe that this self-generated force would raise the inert mass off the ground, direct it through the air, and lower it down again, avoiding obstacles and thereby showing intelligence, and still act automatically, the medium remaining all the while passive. If such were the fact, the medium would be a conscious magician, and all pretence for being a passive instrument in the hands of invisible intelligences would become useless. As well plead[Pg 197] that a quantity of steam sufficient to fill, without bursting, a boiler, will raise the boiler; or a Leyden jar, full of electricity, overcome the inertia of the jar, as such a mechanical absurdity. All analogy would seem to indicate that the force which operates in the presence of a medium upon external objects comes from a source back of the medium himself. We may rather compare it with the hydrogen which overcomes the inertia of the balloon. The gas, under the control of an intelligence, is accumulated in the receiver in sufficient volume to overcome the attraction of its combined mass. On the same principle this force moves articles of furniture, and performs other manifestations; and though identical in its essence with the astral spirit of the medium, it cannot be his spirit only, for the latter remains all the while in a kind of cataleptic torpor, when the mediumship is genuine. Mr. Cox’s first point seems, therefore, not well taken; it is based upon an hypothesis mechanically untenable. Of course our argument proceeds upon the supposition that levitation is an observed fact. The theory of psychic force, to be perfect, must account for all “visible motions ... in solid substances,” and among these is levitation.

As to his second point, we deny that “the proof is insufficient” that the force which produces the phenomena is sometimes directed by other intelligences than the mind of the “psychic.” On the contrary there is such an abundance of testimony to show that the mind of the medium, in a majority of cases, has nothing to do with the phenomena, that we cannot be content to let Mr. Cox’s bold assertion go unchallenged.

Equally illogical do we conceive to be his third proposition; for if the medium’s body be not the generator but simply the channel of the force which produces the phenomena—a question upon which Mr. Cox’s researches throw no light whatever—then it does not follow that because the medium’s “soul, spirit, or mind” directs the medium’s organism, therefore this “soul, spirit, or mind,” lifts a chair or raps at the call of the alphabet.

As to the fourth proposition, namely, that “spirits of the dead are the sole agents in the production of all the phenomena,” we need not join issue at the present moment, inasmuch as the nature of the spirits producing mediumistic manifestations is treated at length in other chapters.

The philosophers, and especially those who were initiated into the Mysteries, held that the astral soul is the impalpable duplicate of the gross external form which we call body. It is the perisprit of the Kardecists and the spirit-form of the spiritualists. Above this internal duplicate, and illuminating it as the warm ray of the sun illuminates the earth,[Pg 198] fructifying the germ and calling out to spiritual vivification the latent qualities dormant in it, hovers the divine spirit. The astral perisprit is contained and confined within the physical body as ether in a bottle, or magnetism in magnetized iron. It is a centre and engine of force, fed from the universal supply of force, and moved by the same general laws which pervade all nature and produce all cosmical phenomena. Its inherent activity causes the incessant physical operations of the animal organism and ultimately results in the destruction of the latter by overuse and its own escape. It is the prisoner, not the voluntary tenant, of the body. It has an attraction so powerful to the external universal force, that after wearing out its casing it finally escapes to it. The stronger, grosser, more material its encasing body, the longer is the term of its imprisonment. Some persons are born with organizations so exceptional, that the door which shuts other people in from communication with the world of the astral light, can be easily unbarred and opened, and their souls can look into, or even pass into that world, and return again. Those who do this consciously, and at will, are termed magicians, hierophants, seers, adepts; those who are made to do it, either through the fluid of the mesmerizer or of “spirits,” are “mediums.” The astral soul, when the barriers are once opened, is so powerfully attracted by the universal, astral magnet, that it sometimes lifts its encasement with it and keeps it suspended in mid-air, until the gravity of matter reässerts its supremacy, and the body redescends again to earth.

Every objective manifestation, whether it be the motion of a living limb, or the movement of some inorganic body, requires two conditions: will and force—plus matter, or that which makes the object so moved visible to our eye; and these three are all convertible forces, or the force-correlation of the scientists. In their turn they are directed or rather overshadowed by the Divine intelligence which these men so studiously leave out of the account, but without which not even the crawling of the smallest earth-worm could ever take place. The simplest as the most common of all natural phenomena,—the rustling of the leaves which tremble under the gentle contact of the breeze—requires a constant exercise of these faculties. Scientists may well call them cosmic laws, immutable and unchangeable. Behind these laws we must search for the intelligent cause, which once having created and set these laws in motion, has infused into them the essence of its own consciousness. Whether we call this the first cause, the universal will, or God, it must always bear intelligence.

And now we may ask, how can a will manifest itself intelligently and unconsciously at the same time? It is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of intellection apart from consciousness. By consciousness we do[Pg 199] not necessarily imply physical or corporeal consciousness. Consciousness is a quality of the sentient principle, or, in other words, the soul; and the latter often displays activity even while the body is asleep or paralyzed. When we lift our arm mechanically, we may imagine that we do it unconsciously because our superficial senses cannot appreciate the interval between the formulation of the purpose and its execution. Latent as it seemed to us, our vigilant will evolved force, and set our matter in motion. There is nothing in the nature of the most trivial of mediumistic phenomena to make Mr. Cox’s theory plausible. If the intelligence manifested by this force is no proof that it belongs to a disembodied spirit, still less is it evidence that it is unconsciously given out by the medium; Mr. Crookes himself tells us of cases where the intelligence could not have emanated from any one in the room; as in the instance where the word “however,” covered by his finger and unknown even to himself, was correctly written by planchette.[327] No explanation whatever can account for this case; the only hypothesis tenable—if we exclude the agency of a spirit-power—is that the clairvoyant faculties were brought into play. But scientists deny clairvoyance; and if, to escape the unwelcome alternative of accrediting the phenomena to a spiritual source, they concede to us the fact of clairvoyance, it then devolves upon them to either accept the kabalistic explanation of what this faculty is, or achieve the task hitherto impracticable of making a new theory to fit the facts.

Again, if for the sake of argument it should be admitted that Mr. Crookes’ word “however” might have been clairvoyantly read, what shall we say of mediumistic communications having a prophetic character? Does any theory of mediumistic impulse account for the ability to foretell events beyond the possible knowledge of both speaker and listener? Mr. Cox will have to try again.

As we have said before, the modern psychic force, and the ancient oracular fluids, whether terrestrial or sidereal, are identical in essence—simply a blind force. So is air. And while in a dialogue the sound-waves produced by a conversation of the speakers affect the same body of air, that does not imply any doubt of the fact that there are two persons talking with each other. Is it any more reasonable to say that when a common agent is employed by medium and “spirit” to intercommunicate, there must necessarily be but one intelligence displaying itself? As the air is necessary for the mutual exchange of audible sounds, so are certain currents of astral light, or ether directed by an Intelligence, necessary for the production of the phenomena called spiritual. Place[Pg 200] two interlocutors in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, and, if they could live, their words would remain inarticulate thoughts, for there would be no air to vibrate, and hence no ripple of sound would reach their ears. Place the strongest medium in such isolating atmosphere as a powerful mesmerizer, familiar with the properties of the magical agent, can create around him, and no manifestations will take place until some opposing intelligence, more potential than the will-power of the mesmerizer, overcomes the latter and terminates the astral inertia.

The ancients were at no loss to discriminate between a blind force acting spontaneously and the same force when directed by an intelligence.

Plutarch, the priest of Apollo, when speaking of the oracular vapors which were but a subterranean gas, imbued with intoxicating magnetic properties, shows its nature to be dual, when he addresses it in these words: “And who art thou? without a God who creates and ripens thee; without a dæmon [spirit] who, acting under the orders of God, directs and governs thee; thou canst do nothing, thou art nothing but a vain breath.”[328] Thus without the indwelling soul or intelligence, “Psychic Force” would be also but a “vain breath.”

Aristotle maintains that this gas, or astral emanation, escaping from inside the earth, is the sole sufficient cause, acting from within outwardly for the vivification of every living being and plant upon the external crust. In answer to the skeptical negators of his century, Cicero, moved by a just wrath, exclaims: “And what can be more divine than the exhalations of the earth, which affect the human soul so as to enable her to predict the future? And could the hand of time evaporate such a virtue? Do you suppose you are talking of some kind of wine or salted meat?”[329] Do modern experimentalists claim to be wiser than Cicero, and say that this eternal force has evaporated, and that the springs of prophecy are dry?

All the prophets of old—inspired sensitives—were said to be uttering their prophecies under the same conditions, either by the direct outward efflux of the astral emanation, or a sort of damp fluxion, rising from the earth. It is this astral matter which serves as a temporary clothing of the souls who form themselves in this light. Cornelius Agrippa expresses the same views as to the nature of these phantoms by describing it as moist or humid: “In spirito turbido HUMIDOQUE.”[330]

Prophecies are delivered in two ways—consciously, by magicians who are able to look into the astral light; and unconsciously, by those[Pg 201] who act under what is called inspiration. To the latter class belonged and belong the Biblical prophets and the modern trance-speakers. So familiar with this fact was Plato, that of such prophets he says: “No man, when in his senses, attains prophetic truth and inspiration ... but only when demented by some distemper or possession ...” (by a daimonion or spirit).[331] “Some persons call them prophets; they do not know that they are only repeaters ... and are not to be called prophets at all, but only transmitters of vision and prophecy,“he adds.

In continuation of his argument, Mr. Cox says: “The most ardent spiritualists practically admit the existence of psychic force, under the very inappropriate name of magnetism (to which it has no affinity whatever), for they assert that the spirits of the dead can only do the acts attributed to them by using the magnetism (that is, the psychic force) of the mediums.”[332]

Here, again, a misunderstanding arises in consequence of different names being applied to what may prove to be one and the same imponderable compound. Because electricity did not become a science till the eighteenth century, no one will presume to say that this force has not existed since the creation; moreover, we are prepared to prove that even the ancient Hebrews were acquainted with it. But, merely because exact science did not happen before 1819 to stumble over the discovery which showed the intimate connection existing between magnetism and electricity, it does not at all prevent these two agents being identical. If a bar of iron can be endowed with magnetic properties, by passing a current of voltaic electricity over some conductor placed in a certain way close to the bar, why not accept, as a provisional theory, that a medium may also be a conductor, and nothing more, at a seance? Is it unscientific to say that the intelligence of “psychic force,” drawing currents of electricity from the waves of the ether, and employing the medium as a conductor, develops and calls into action the latent magnetism with which the atmosphere of the seance-room is saturated, so as to produce the desired effects? The word magnetism is as appropriate as any other, until science gives us something more than a merely hypothetical agent endowed with conjectural properties.

“The difference between the advocates of psychic force and the spiritualists consists in this,” says Sergeant Cox, “that we contend that there is as yet insufficient proof of any other directing agent than the intelligence of the medium, and no proof whatever of the agency of the ‘spirits’ of the dead.”[333]

[Pg 202]

We fully agree with Mr. Cox as to the lack of proof that the agency is that of the spirits of the dead; as for the rest, it is a very extraordinary deduction from “a wealth of facts,” according to the expression of Mr. Crookes, who remarks further, “On going over my notes, I find ... such a superabundance of evidence, so overwhelming a mass of testimony ... that I could fill several numbers of the Quarterly.”[334]

Now some of these facts of an “overwhelming evidence” are as follows: 1st. The movement of heavy bodies with contact, but without mechanical exertion. 2d. The phenomena of percussive and other sounds. 3d. The alteration of weight of bodies. 4th. Movements of heavy substances when at a distance from the medium. 5th. The rising of tables and chairs off the ground, without contact with any person. 6th. The levitation of human beings.[335] 7th. “Luminous apparitions.” Says Mr. Crookes, “Under the strictest conditions, I have seen a solid self-luminous body, the size and nearly the shape of a turkey’s egg, float noiselessly about the room, at one time higher than any one could reach on tiptoe, and then gently descend to the floor. It was visible for more than ten minutes, and before it faded away it struck the table three times with a sound like that of a hard, solid body.”[336] (We must infer that the egg was of the same nature as M. Babinet’s meteor-cat, which is classified with other natural phenomena in Arago’s works.) 8th. The appearance of hands, either self-luminous or visible by ordinary light. 9th. “Direct writing” by these same luminous hands, detached, and evidently endowed with intelligence. (Psychic force?) 10th. “Phantom-forms and faces.” In this instance, the psychic force comes “from a corner of the room” as a “phantom form,” takes an accordeon in its hand, and then glides about the room, playing the instrument; Home, the medium, being in full view at the time.[337] The whole of the preceding Mr. Crookes witnessed and tested at his own house, and, having assured himself scientifically of the genuineness of the phenomenon, reported it to the Royal Society. Was he welcomed as the discoverer of natural[Pg 203] phenomena of a new and important character? Let the reader consult his work for the answer.

In addition to these freaks played on human credulity by “psychic force,” Mr. Crookes gives another class of phenomena, which he terms “special instances,” which seem (?) to point to the agency of an exterior intelligence.[338]

“I have been,” says Mr. Crookes, “with Miss Fox when she has been writing a message automatically to one person present, whilst a message to another person, on another subject, was being given alphabetically by means of ‘raps,’ and the whole time she was conversing freely with a third person, on a subject totally different from either.... During a seance with Mr. Home, a small lath moved across the table to me, in the light, and delivered a message to me by tapping my hand; I repeating the alphabet, and the lath tapping me at the right letters ... being at a distance from Mr. Home’s hands.” The same lath, upon request of Mr. Crookes, gave him “a telegraphic message through the Morse alphabet, by taps on my hand” (the Morse code being quite unknown to any other person present, and but imperfectly to himself), “and,” adds Mr. Crookes, “it convinced me that there was a good Morse operator at the other end of the line, WHEREVER THAT MIGHT BE.”[339] Would it be undignified in the present case to suggest that Mr. Cox should search for the operator in his private principality—Psychic Land? But the same lath does more and better. In full light in Mr. Crookes’ room it is asked to give a message, “ ... a pencil and some sheets of paper had been lying on the centre of the table; presently the pencil rose on its point, and after advancing by hesitating jerks to the paper, fell down. It then rose, and again fell.... After three unsuccessful attempts, a small wooden lath” (the Morse operator) “which was lying near upon the table, slid towards the pencil, and rose a few inches from the table; the pencil rose again, and propping itself against the lath, the two together made an effort to mark the paper. It fell, and then a joint effort was made again. After a third trial the lath gave it up, and moved back to its place; the pencil lay as it fell across the paper, and an alphabetic message told us: “We have tried to do as you asked, but our power is exhausted.”[340] The word our, as the joint intelligent efforts of the friendly lath and pencil, would make us think that there were two psychic forces present.

In all this, is there any proof that the directing agent was “the intelligence of the medium”? Is there not, on the contrary, every indication that the movements of the lath and pencil were directed by spirits “of the dead,” or at least of those of some other unseen intelligent entities?[Pg 204] Most certainly the word magnetism explains in this case as little as the term psychic force; howbeit, there is more reason to use the former than the latter, if it were but for the simple fact that the transcendent magnetism or mesmerism produces phenomena identical in effects with those of spiritualism. The phenomenon of the enchanted circle of Baron Du Potet and Regazzoni, is as contrary to the accepted laws of physiology as the rising of a table without contact is to the laws of natural philosophy. As strong men have often found it impossible to raise a small table weighing a few pounds, and broken it to pieces in the effort, so a dozen of experimenters, among them sometimes, academicians, were utterly unable to step across a chalk-line drawn on the floor by Du Potet. On one occasion a Russian general, well known for his skepticism, persisted until he fell on the ground in violent convulsions. In this case, the magnetic fluid which opposed such a resistance was Mr. Cox’s psychic force, which endows the tables with an extraordinary and supernatural weight. If they produce the same psychological and physiological effects, there is good reason to believe them more or less identical. We do not think the deduction could be very reasonably objected to. Besides, were the fact even denied, this is no reason why it should not be so. Once upon a time, all the Academies in Christendom had agreed to deny that there were any mountains in the moon; and there was a certain time when, if any one had been so bold as to affirm that there was life in the superior regions of the atmosphere as well as in the fathomless depths of the ocean, he would have been set down as a fool or an ignoramus.

“The Devil affirms—it must be a lie!” the pious Abbé Almiguana used to say, in a discussion with a “spiritualized table.” We will soon be warranted in paraphrasing the sentence and making it read—“Scientists deny—then it must be true.”

[Pg 205]


“Thou great First Cause, least understood.”—Pope.

“Whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
’Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
’Tis heaven itself that points out our hereafter
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! Thou pleasing, dreadful thought!”—Addison.

“There is another and a better world.”—Kotzebue: The Stranger.

After according so much space to the conflicting opinions of our men of science about certain occult phenomena of our modern period, it is but just that we give attention to the speculations of mediæval alchemists and certain other illustrious men. Almost without exception, ancient and mediæval scholars believed in the arcane doctrines of wisdom. These included Alchemy, the Chaldeo-Jewish Kabala, the esoteric systems of Pythagoras and the old Magi, and those of the later Platonic philosophers and theurgists. We also propose in subsequent pages to treat of the Indian gymnosophists and the Chaldean astrologers. We must not neglect to show the grand truths underlying the misunderstood religions of the past. The four elements of our fathers, earth, air, water, and fire, contain for the student of alchemy and ancient psychology—or as it is now termed, magic—many things of which our philosophy has never dreamed. We must not forget that what is now called Necromancy by the Church, and Spiritualism by modern believers, and that includes the evoking of departed spirits, is a science which has, from remote antiquity, been almost universally diffused over the face of the globe.

Although neither an alchemist, magician, nor astrologer, but simply a great philosopher, Henry More, of Cambridge University—a man universally esteemed, may be named as a shrewd logician, scientist, and metaphysician. His belief in witchcraft was firm throughout his life. His faith in immortality and able arguments in demonstration of the survival of man’s spirit after death are all based on the Pythagorean system, adopted by Cardan, Van Helmont, and other mystics. The infinite and[Pg 206] uncreated spirit that we usually call God, a substance of the highest virtue and excellency, produced everything else by emanative causality. God thus is the primary substance, the rest, the secondary; if the former created matter with a power of moving itself, he, the primary substance, is still the cause of that motion as well as of the matter, and yet we rightly say that it is matter which moves itself. “We may define this kind of spirit we speak of to be a substance indiscernible, that can move itself, that can penetrate, contract, and dilate itself, and can also penetrate, move, and alter matter,”[341] which is the third emanation. He firmly believed in apparitions, and stoutly defended the theory of the individuality of every soul in which “personality, memory, and conscience will surely continue in the future state.” He divided the astral spirit of man after its exit from the body into two distinct entities: the “aërial” and the “æthereal vehicle.” During the time that a disembodied man moves in its aërial clothing, he is subject to Fatei. e., evil and temptation, attached to its earthly interests, and therefore is not utterly pure; it is only when he casts off this garb of the first spheres and becomes ethereal that he becomes sure of his immortality. “For what shadow can that body cast that is a pure and transparent light, such as the ethereal vehicle is? And therefore that oracle is then fulfilled, when the soul has ascended into that condition we have already described, in which alone it is out of the reach of fate and mortality.” He concludes his work by stating that this transcendent and divinely-pure condition was the only aim of the Pythagoreans.

As to the skeptics of his age, his language is contemptuous and severe. Speaking of Scot, Adie, and Webster, he terms them “our new inspired saints ... sworn advocates of the witches, who thus madly and boldly, against all sense and reason, against all antiquity, all interpreters, and against the Scripture itself, will have even no Samuel in the scene, but a confederate knave! Whether the Scripture, or these inblown buffoons, puffed up with nothing but ignorance, vanity, and stupid infidelity, are to be believed, let any one judge,” he adds.[342]

What kind of language would this eminent divine have used against our skeptics of the nineteenth century?

Descartes, although a worshipper of matter, was one of the most devoted teachers of the magnetic doctrine and, in a certain sense, even of Alchemy. His system of physics was very much like that of other great philosophers. Space, which is infinite, is composed, or rather filled up with a fluid and elementary matter, and is the sole fountain of all life,[Pg 207] enclosing all the celestial globes and keeping them in perpetual motion. The magnet-streams of Mesmer are disguised by him into the Cartesian vortices, and both rest on the same principle. Ennemoser does not hesitate to say that both have more in common “than people suppose, who have not carefully examined the subject.”[343]

The esteemed philosopher, Pierre Poiret Naudé, was the warmest defender of the doctrines of occult magnetism and its first propounders,[344] in 1679. The magico-theosophical philosophy is fully vindicated in his works.

The well-known Dr. Hufeland has written a work on magic[345] in which he propounds the theory of the universal magnetic sympathy between men, animals, plants, and even minerals. The testimony of Campanella, Van Helmont, and Servius, is confirmed by him in relation to the sympathy existing between the different parts of the body as well as between the parts of all organic and even inorganic bodies.

Such also was the doctrine of Tenzel Wirdig. It may even be found expounded in his works, with far more clearness, logic, and vigor, than in those of other mystical authors who have treated of the same subject. In his famous treatise, The New Spiritual Medicine, he demonstrates, on the ground of the later-accepted fact of universal attraction and repulsion—now called “gravitation” that the whole nature is ensouled. Wirdig calls this magnetic sympathy “the accordance of spirits.” Everything is drawn to its like, and converges with natures congenial to itself. Out of this sympathy and antipathy arises a constant movement in the whole world, and in all its parts, and uninterrupted communion between heaven and earth, which produces universal harmony. Everything lives and perishes through magnetism; one thing affects another one, even at great distances, and its “congenitals” may be influenced to health and disease by the power of this sympathy, at any time, and notwithstanding the intervening space.[346] “Hufeland,” says Ennemoser, “gives the account of a nose which had been cut from the back of a porter, but which, when the porter died, died too and fell off from its artificial position. A piece of skin,” adds Hufeland, “taken from a living head, had its hair turn gray at the same time as that on the head from which it was taken.”[347]

Kepler, the forerunner of Newton in many great truths, even in that of the universal “gravitation” which he very justly attributed to magnetic attraction, notwithstanding that he terms astrology “the insane daughter of a most wise mother” Astronomy, shares the kabalistic belief[Pg 208] that the spirits of the stars are so many “intelligences.” He firmly believes that each planet is the seat of an intelligent principle, and that they are all inhabited by spiritual beings, who exercise influences over other beings inhabiting more gross and material spheres than their own and especially our earth.[348] As Kepler’s spiritual starry influences were superseded by the vortices of the more materialistic Descartes, whose atheistical tendencies did not prevent him from believing that he had found out a diet that would prolong his life five hundred years and more, so the vortices of the latter and his astronomical doctrines may some day give place to the intelligent magnetic streams which are directed by the Anima Mundi.

Baptista Porta, the learned Italian philosopher, notwithstanding his endeavors to show to the world the groundlessness of their accusations of magic being a superstition and sorcery, was treated by later critics with the same unfairness as his colleagues. This celebrated alchemist left a work on Natural Magic,[349] in which he bases all of the occult phenomena possible to man upon the world-soul which binds all with all. He shows that the astral light acts in harmony and sympathy with all nature; that it is the essence out of which our spirits are formed; and that by acting in unison with their parent-source, our sidereal bodies are rendered capable of producing magic wonders. The whole secret depends on our knowledge of kindred elements. He believed in the philosopher’s stone, “of which the world hath so great an opinion of, which hath been bragged of in so many ages and happily attained unto by some.” Finally, he throws out many valuable hints as to its “spiritual meaning.” In 1643, there appeared among the mystics a monk, Father Kircher, who taught a complete philosophy of universal magnetism. His numerous works[350] embrace many of the subjects merely hinted at by Paracelsus. His definition of magnetism is very original, for he contradicted Gilbert’s theory that the earth was a great magnet. He asserted that although every particle of matter, and even the intangible invisible “powers” were magnetic, they did not themselves constitute a magnet. There is but one MAGNET in the universe, and from it proceeds the magnetization of everything existing. This magnet is of course what the kabalists term[Pg 209] the central Spiritual Sun, or God. The sun, moon, planets, and stars he affirmed are highly magnetic; but they have become so by induction from living in the universal magnetic fluid—the Spiritual light. He proves the mysterious sympathy existing between the bodies of the three principal kingdoms of nature, and strengthens his argument by a stupendous catalogue of instances. Many of these were verified by naturalists, but still more have remained unauthenticated; therefore, according to the traditional policy and very equivocal logic of our scientists, they are denied. For instance, he shows a difference between mineral magnetism and zoömagnetism, or animal magnetism. He demonstrates it in the fact that except in the case of the lodestone all the minerals are magnetized by the higher potency, the animal magnetism, while the latter enjoys it as the direct emanation from the first cause—the Creator. A needle can be magnetized by simply being held in the hand of a strong-willed man, and amber develops its powers more by the friction of the human hand than by any other object; therefore man can impart his own life, and, to a certain degree, animate inorganic objects. This, “in the eyes of the foolish, is sorcery.” “The sun is the most magnetic of all bodies,” he says; thus anticipating the theory of General Pleasonton by more than two centuries. “The ancient philosophers never denied the fact,” he adds; “but have at all times perceived that the sun’s emanations were binding all things to itself, and that it imparts this binding power to everything falling under its direct rays.”

As a proof of it he brings the instance of a number of plants being especially attracted to the sun, and others to the moon, and showing their irresistible sympathy to the former by following its course in the heavens. The plant known as the Githymal,[351] faithfully follows its sovereign, even when it is invisible on account of the fog. The acacia uncloses its petals at its rising, and closes them at its setting. So does the Egyptian lotos and the common sunflower. The nightshade exhibits the same predilection for the moon.

As examples of antipathies or sympathies among plants, he instances the aversion which the vine feels for the cabbage, and its fondness toward the olive-tree; the love of the ranunculus for the water-lily, and of the rue for the fig. The antipathy which sometimes exists even among kindred substances is clearly demonstrated in the case of the Mexican pomegranate, whose shoots, when cut to pieces, repel each other with the “most extraordinary ferocity.”

Kircher accounts for every feeling in human nature as results of changes in our magnetic condition. Anger, jealousy, friendship, love, and[Pg 210] hatred, are all modifications of the magnetic atmosphere which is developed in us and constantly emanates from us. Love is one of the most variable, and therefore the aspects of it are numberless. Spiritual love, that of a mother for her child, of an artist for some particular art, love as pure friendship, are purely magnetic manifestations of sympathy in congenial natures. The magnetism of pure love is the originator of every created thing. In its ordinary sense love between the sexes is electricity, and he calls it amor febris species, the fever of species. There are two kinds of magnetic attraction: sympathy and fascination; the one holy and natural, the other evil and unnatural. To the latter, fascination, we must attribute the power of the poisonous toad, which upon merely opening its mouth, forces the passing reptile or insect to run into it to its destruction. The deer, as well as smaller animals, are attracted by the breath of the boa, and are made irresistibly to come within its reach. The electric fish, the torpedo, repels the arm with a shock that for a time benumbs it. To exercise such a power for beneficent purposes, man requires three conditions: 1, nobility of soul; 2, strong will and imaginative faculty; 3, a subject weaker than the magnetizer; otherwise he will resist. A man free from worldly incentives and sensuality, may cure in such a way the most “incurable” diseases, and his vision may become clear and prophetic.

A curious instance of the above-mentioned universal attraction between all the bodies of the planetary system and everything organic as well as inorganic pertaining to them, is found in a quaint old volume of the seventeenth century. It contains notes of travel and an official report to the King of France, by his Ambassador, de la Loubère, upon what he has seen in the kingdom of Siam. “At Siam,” he says, “there are two species of fresh-water fish, which they respectively call pal-out and pla-cadi fish. Once salted and placed uncut (whole) in the pot, they are found to exactly follow the flux and reflux of the sea, growing higher and lower in the pot as the sea ebbs or flows.”[352] De la Loubère experimented with this fish for a long time, together with a government engineer, named Vincent, and, therefore, vouches for the truth of this assertion, which at first had been dismissed as an idle fable. So powerful is this mysterious attraction that it affected the fishes even when their bodies became totally rotten and fell to pieces.

It is especially in the countries unblessed with civilization that we should seek for an explanation of the nature, and observe the effects of that subtile power, which ancient philosophers called the “world’s soul.”[Pg 211] In the East only, and on the boundless tracts of unexplored Africa, will the student of psychology find abundant food for his truth-hungering soul. The reason is obvious. The atmosphere in populous neighborhoods is badly vitiated by the smoke and fumes of manufactories, steam-engines, railroads, and steamboats, and especially by the miasmatic exhalations of the living and the dead. Nature is as dependent as a human being upon conditions before she can work, and her mighty breathing, so to say, can be as easily interfered with, impeded, and arrested, and the correlation of her forces destroyed in a given spot, as though she were a man. Not only climate, but also occult influences daily felt not only modify the physio-psychological nature of man, but even alter the constitution of so-called inorganic matter in a degree not fairly realized by European science. Thus the London Medical and Surgical Journal advises surgeons not to carry lancets to Calcutta, because it has been found by personal experience “that English steel could not bear the atmosphere of India;” so a bunch of English or American keys will be completely covered with rust twenty-four hours after having been brought to Egypt; while objects made of native steel in those countries remain unoxidized. So, too, it has been found that a Siberian Shaman who has given stupendous proofs of his occult powers among his native Tschuktschen, is gradually and often completely deprived of such powers when coming into smoky and foggy London. Is the inner organism of man less sensitive to climatic influences than a bit of steel? If not, then why should we cast doubt upon the testimony of travellers who may have seen the Shaman, day after day, exhibit phenomena of the most astounding character in his native country, and deny the possibility of such powers and such phenomena, only because he cannot do as much in London or Paris? In his lecture on the Lost Arts, Wendell Phillips proves that beside the psychological nature of man being affected by a change of climate, Oriental people have physical senses far more acute than the Europeans. The French dyers of Lyons, whom no one can surpass in skill, he says, “have a theory that there is a certain delicate shade of blue that Europeans cannot see.... And in Cashmere, where the girls make shawls worth $30,000, they will show him (the dyer of Lyons) three hundred distinct colors, which he not only cannot make, but cannot even distinguish.” If there is such a vast difference between the acuteness of the external senses of two races, why should there not be the same in their psychological powers? Moreover, the eye of a Cashmere girl is able to see objectively a color which does exist, but which being inappreciable by the European, is therefore non-existent for him. Why then not concede, that some peculiarly-endowed organisms, which are thought to be possessed of that mysterious faculty called second sight,[Pg 212] see their pictures as objectively as the girl sees the colors; and that therefore the former, instead of mere objective hallucinations called forth by imagination are, on the contrary, reflections of real things and persons impressed upon the astral ether, as explained by the old philosophy of the Chaldean Oracles, and surmised by those modern discoverers, Babbage, Jevons, and the authors of the Unseen Universe?

“Three spirits live and actuate man,” teaches Paracelsus; “three worlds pour their beams upon him; but all three only as the image and echo of one and the same all constructing and uniting principle of production. The first is the spirit of the elements (terrestrial body and vital force in its brute condition); the second, the spirit of the stars (sidereal or astral body—the soul); the third is the Divine spirit (Augoeidés).” Our human body, being possessed of “primeval earth-stuff,” as Paracelsus calls it, we may readily accept the tendency of modern scientific research “to regard the processes of both animal and vegetable life as simply physical and chemical.” This theory only the more corroborates the assertions of old philosophers and the Mosaic Bible, that from the dust of the ground our bodies were made, and to dust they will return. But we must remember that

“‘Dust thou art, to dust returnest,’
Was not spoken of the soul.”

Man is a little world—a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a fœtus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause—the Spiritual Light of the World? This is the trinity of organic and inorganic nature—the spiritual and the physical, which are three in one, and of which Proclus says that “The first monad is the Eternal God; the second, eternity; the third, the paradigm, or pattern of the universe;” the three constituting the Intelligible Triad. Everything in this visible universe is the outflow of this Triad, and a microcosmic triad itself. And thus they move in majestic procession in the fields of eternity, around the spiritual sun, as in the heliocentric system the celestial bodies move round the visible suns. The Pythagorean Monad, which lives “in solitude and darkness,” may remain on this earth forever invisible, impalpable, and undemonstrated by experimental science. Still the whole universe will be gravitating around it, as it did from the “beginning of time,” and[Pg 213] with every second, man and atom approach nearer to that solemn moment in the eternity, when the Invisible Presence will become clear to their spiritual sight. When every particle of matter, even the most sublimated, has been cast off from the last shape that forms the ultimate link of that chain of double evolution which, throughout millions of ages and successive transformations, has pushed the entity onward; and when it shall find itself reclothed in that primordial essence, identical with that of its Creator, then this once impalpable organic atom will have run its race, and the sons of God will once more “shout for joy” at the return of the pilgrim.

“Man,” says Van Helmont, “is the mirror of the universe, and his triple nature stands in relationship to all things.” The will of the Creator, through which all things were made and received their first impulse, is the property of every living being. Man, endowed with an additional spirituality, has the largest share of it on this planet. It depends on the proportion of matter in him whether he will exercise its magical faculty with more or less success. Sharing this divine potency in common with every inorganic atom, he exercises it through the course of his whole life, whether consciously or otherwise. In the former case, when in the full possession of his powers, he will be the master, and the magnale magnum (the universal soul) will be controlled and guided by him. In the cases of animals, plants, minerals, and even of the average of humanity, this ethereal fluid which pervades all things, finding no resistance, and being left to itself, moves them as its impulse directs. Every created being in this sublunary sphere, is formed out of the magnale magnum, and is related to it. Man possesses a double celestial power, and is allied to heaven. This power is “not only in the outer man, but to a degree also in the animals, and perhaps in all other things, as all things in the universe stand in a relation to each other; or, at least, God is in all things, as the ancients have observed it with a worthy correctness. It is necessary that the magic strength should be awakened in the outer as well as in the inner man.... And if we call this a magic power, the uninstructed only can be terrified by the expression. But, if you prefer it, you can call it a spiritual power—spirituale robur vocitaveris. There is, therefore, such magic power in the inner man. But, as there exists a certain relationship between the inner and the outer man, this strength must be diffused through the whole man.”[353]

In an extended description of the religious rites, monastic life, and “superstitions” of the Siamese, de la Loubère cites among other things the wonderful power possessed by the Talapoin (the monks, or the holy[Pg 214] men of Buddha) over the wild beasts. “The Talapoin of Siam,” he says, “will pass whole weeks in the dense woods under a small awning of branches and palm leaves, and never make a fire in the night to scare away the wild beasts, as all other people do who travel through the woods of this country.” The people consider it a miracle that no Talapoin is ever devoured. The tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses—with which the neighborhood abounds—respect him; and travellers placed in secure ambuscade have often seen these wild beasts lick the hands and feet of the sleeping Talapoin. “They all use magic,” adds the French gentleman, “and think all nature animated (ensouled);[354] they believe in tutelar geniuses.” But that which seems to shock the author most is the idea which prevails among the Siamese, “that all that man was in his bodily life, he will be after death.” “When the Tartar, which now reigns at China,” remarks de la Loubère, “would force the Chinese to shave their hair after the Tartarian fashion, several of them chose rather to suffer death, than to go, they said, into the other world and appear before their ancestors without hair; imagining that they shaved the head of the soul also!”[355] “Now, what is altogether impertinent,” adds the Ambassador, “in this absurd opinion is, that the Orientals attribute the human figure rather than any other to the soul.” Without enlightening his reader as to the particular shape these benighted Orientals ought to select for their disembodied souls, de la Loubère proceeds to pour out his wrath on these “savages.” Finally, he attacks the memory of the old king of Siam, the father of the one to whose court he was sent, by accusing him of having foolishly spent over two million livres in search of the philosopher’s stone. “The Chinese,” he says, “reputed so wise, have for three or four thousand years had the folly of believing in the existence, and of seeking out a universal remedy by which they hope to exempt themselves from the necessity of dying. They base themselves on some foolish traditions, concerning some rare persons that are reported to have made gold, and to have lived some ages; there are some very strongly established facts among the Chinese, the Siamese, and other Orientals, concerning those that know how to render themselves immortal, either absolutely, or in such a manner that they can die no otherwise than by violent death.[356] Wherefore, they name some persons who have withdrawn themselves from the sight of men to enjoy free and peaceable life. They relate wonders concerning the knowledge of these pretended immortals.”

If Descartes, a Frenchman and a scientist, could, in the midst of civilization, firmly believe that such a universal remedy had been found,[Pg 215] and that if possessed of it he could live at least five hundred years, why are not the Orientals entitled to the same belief? The master-problems of both life and death are still unsolved by occidental physiologists. Even sleep is a phenomenon about whose cause there is a great divergence of opinion among them. How, then, can they pretend to set limits to the possible, and define the impossible?

From the remotest ages the philosophers have maintained the singular power of music over certain diseases, especially of the nervous class. Kircher recommends it, having experienced its good effects in himself, and he gives an elaborate description of the instrument he employed. It was a harmonica composed of five tumblers of a very thin glass, placed in a row. In two of them were two different varieties of wine; in the third, brandy; in the fourth, oil; in the fifth, water. He extracted five melodious sounds from them in the usual way, by merely rubbing his finger on the edges of the tumblers. The sound has an attractive property; it draws out disease, which streams out to encounter the musical wave, and the two, blending together, disappear in space. Asclepiades employed music for the same purpose, some twenty centuries ago; he blew a trumpet to cure sciatica, and its prolonged sound making the fibres of the nerves to palpitate, the pain invariably subsided. Democritus in like manner affirmed that many diseases could be cured by the melodious sounds of a flute. Mesmer used this very harmonica described by Kircher for his magnetic cures. The celebrated Scotchman, Maxwell, offered to prove to various medical faculties that with certain magnetic means at his disposal, he would cure any of the diseases abandoned by them as incurable; such as epilepsy, impotence, insanity, lameness, dropsy, and the most obstinate fevers.[357]

The familiar story of the exorcism of the “evil spirit from God” that obsessed Saul, will recur to every one in this connection. It is thus related: “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”[358]

Maxwell, in his Medicina Magnetica, expounds the following propositions, all which are the very doctrines of the alchemists and kabalists.

“That which men call the world-soul, is a life, as fire, spiritual, fleet, light, and ethereal as light itself. It is a life-spirit everywhere, and everywhere the same.... All matter is destitute of action, except as it is ensouled by this spirit. This spirit maintains all things in their peculiar condition. It is found in nature free from all fetters; and he[Pg 216] who understands how to unite it with a harmonizing body, possesses a treasure which exceeds all riches.”

“This spirit is the common bond of all quarters of the earth, and lives through and in all—adest in mundo quid commune omnibus mextis, in quo ipsa permanent.”

“He who knows this universal life-spirit and its application can prevent all injuries.”[359]

“If thou canst avail thyself of this spirit and fix it on some particular body thou wilt perform the mystery of magic.”

“He who knows how to operate on men by this universal spirit, can heal, and this at any distance that he pleases.”[360]

“He who can invigorate the particular spirit through the universal one, might continue his life to eternity.”[361]

“There is a blending together of spirits, or of emanations, even when they are far separated from each other. And what is this blending together? It is an eternal and incessant outpouring of the rays of one body into another.”

“In the meantime,” says Maxwell, “it is not without danger to treat of this. Many abominable abuses of this may take place.”

And now let us see what are these abuses of mesmeric and magnetic powers in some healing mediums.

Healing, to deserve the name, requires either faith in the patient, or robust health united with a strong will, in the operator. With expectency supplemented by faith, one can cure himself of almost any morbific condition. The tomb of a saint; a holy relic; a talisman; a bit of paper or a garment that has been handled by the supposed healer; a nostrum; a penance, or a ceremonial; the laying on of hands, or a few words impressively pronounced—either will do. It is a question of temperament, imagination, self-cure. In thousands of instances, the doctor, the priest, or the relic has had credit for healings that were solely and simply due to the patient’s unconscious will. The woman with the bloody issue who pressed through the throng to touch the robe of Jesus, was told that her “faith” had made her whole.

The influence of mind over the body is so powerful that it has effected miracles at all ages.

“How many unhoped-for, sudden, and prodigious cures have been effected by imagination,” says Salverte. “Our medical books are filled with facts of this nature which would easily pass for miracles.”[362]

But, if the patient has no faith, what then? If he is physically negative[Pg 217] and receptive, and the healer strong, healthy, positive, determined, the disease may be extirpated by the imperative will of the operator, which, consciously or unconsciously, draws to and reinforces itself with the universal spirit of nature, and restores the disturbed equilibrium of the patient’s aura. He may employ as an auxiliary, a crucifix—as Gassner did; or impose the hands and “will,” like the French Zouave Jacob, like our celebrated American, Newton, the healer of many thousands of sufferers, and like many others; or like Jesus, and some apostles, he may cure by the word of command. The process in each case is the same.

In all these instances, the cure is radical and real, and without secondary ill-effects. But, when one who is himself physically diseased, attempts healing, he not only fails of that, but often imparts his illness to his patient, and robs him of what strength he may have. The decrepit King David reinforced his failing vigor with the healthy magnetism of the young Abishag;[363] and the medical works tell us of an aged lady of Bath, England, who broke down the constitutions of two maids in succession, in the same way. The old sages, and Paracelsus also, removed disease by applying a healthy organism to the afflicted part, and in the works of the above-said fire-philosopher, their theory is boldly and categorically set forth. If a diseased person—medium or not—attempts to heal, his force may be sufficiently robust to displace the disease, to disturb it in the present place, and cause it to shift to another, where shortly it will appear; the patient, meanwhile, thinking himself cured.

But, what if the healer be morally diseased? The consequences may be infinitely more mischievous; for it is easier to cure a bodily disease than cleanse a constitution infected with moral turpitude. The mystery of Morzine, Cevennes, and that of the Jansenists, is still as great a mystery for physiologists as for psychologists. If the gift of prophecy, as well as hysteria and convulsions, can be imparted by “infection,” why not every vice? The healer, in such a case, conveys to his patient—who is now his victim—the moral poison that infects his own mind and heart. His magnetic touch is defilement; his glance, profanation. Against this insidious taint, there is no protection for the passively-receptive subject. The healer holds him under his power, spellbound and powerless, as the serpent holds a poor, weak bird. The evil that one such “healing medium” can effect is incalculably great; and such healers there are by the hundred.

But, as we have said before, there are real and God-like healers, who, notwithstanding all the malice and skepticism of their bigoted opponents,[Pg 218] have become famous in the world’s history. Such are the Curé d’Ars, of Lyons, Jacob, and Newton. Such, also, were Gassner, the clergyman of Klorstele, and the well-known Valentine Greatrakes, the ignorant and poor Irishman, who was endorsed by the celebrated Robert Boyle, President of the Royal Society of London, in 1670. In 1870, he would have been sent to Bedlam, in company with other healers, if another president of the same society had had the disposal of the case, or Professor Lankester would have “summoned” him under the Vagrant Act for practicing upon Her Majesty’s subjects “by palmistry or otherwise.”

But, to close a list of witnesses which might be extended indefinitely, it will suffice to say that, from first to last, from Pythagoras down to Eliphas Levi, from highest to humblest, every one teaches that the magical power is never possessed by those addicted to vicious indulgences. Only the pure in heart “see God,” or exercise divine gifts—only such can heal the ills of the body, and allow themselves, with relative security, to be guided by the “invisible powers.” Such only can give peace to the disturbed spirits of their brothers and sisters, for the healing waters come from no poisonous source; grapes do not grow on thorns, and thistles bear no figs. But, for all this, “magic has nothing supernal in it;” it is a science, and even the power of “casting out devils” was a branch of it, of which the Initiates made a special study. “That skill which expels demons out of human bodies, is a science useful and sanative to men,” says Josephus.[364]

The foregoing sketches are sufficient to show why we hold fast to the wisdom of the ages, in preference to any new theories that may have been hatched from the occurrences of our later days, respecting the laws of intermundane intercourse and the occult powers of man. While phenomena of a physical nature may have their value as a means of arousing the interest of materialists, and confirming, if not wholly, at least inferentially, our belief in the survival of our souls and spirits, it is questionable whether, under their present aspect, the modern phenomena are not doing more harm than good. Many minds, hungering after proofs of immortality, are fast falling into fanaticism; and, as Stow remarks, “fanatics are governed rather by imagination than judgment.”

Undoubtedly, believers in the modern phenomena can claim for themselves a diversity of endowments, but the “discerning of spirits” is evidently absent from this catalogue of “spiritual” gifts. Speaking of the “Diakka,” whom he one fine morning had discovered in a shady corner of the “Summer Land,” A. J. Davis, the great American seer, remarks: “A Diakka is one who takes insane delight in playing parts, in juggling[Pg 219] tricks, in personating opposite characters; to whom prayer and profane utterances are of equi-value; surcharged with a passion for lyrical narrations; ... morally deficient, he is without the active feelings of justice, philanthropy, or tender affection. He knows nothing of what men call the sentiment of gratitude; the ends of hate and love are the same to him; his motto is often fearful and terrible to others—SELF is the whole of private living, and exalted annihilation the end of all private life.[365] Only yesterday, one said to a lady medium, signing himself Swedenborg, this: “Whatsoever is, has been, will be, or may be, that I AM; and private life is but the aggregative phantasms of thinking throblets, rushing in their rising onward to the central heart of eternal death!”[366]

Porphyry, whose works—to borrow the expression of an irritated phenomenalist—“are mouldering like every other antiquated trash in the closets of oblivion,” speaks thus of these Diakka—if such be their name—rediscovered in the nineteenth century: “It is with the direct help of these bad demons, that every kind of sorcery is accomplished ... it is the result of their operations, and men who injure their fellow-creatures by enchantments, usually pay great honors to these bad demons, and especially to their chief. These spirits pass their time in deceiving us, with a great display of cheap prodigies and illusions; their ambition is to be taken for gods, and their leader demands to be recognized as the supreme god.”[367]

The spirit signing himself Swedenborg—just quoted from Davis’s Diakka, and hinting that he is the I AM, singularly resembles this chief leader of Porphyry’s bad demons.

What more natural than this vilification of the ancient and experienced theurgists by certain mediums, when we find Iamblichus, the expositor of spiritualistic theurgy, strictly forbidding all endeavors to procure such phenomenal manifestations; unless, after a long preparation of moral and physical purification, and under the guidance of experienced theurgists. When, furthermore, he declares that, with very few exceptions, for a personto appear elongated or thicker, or be borne aloft in the air,” is a sure mark of obsession by bad demons.[368]

Everything in this world has its time, and truth, however based upon unimpeachable evidence, will not root or grow, unless, like a plant, it is thrown into soil in its proper season. “The age must be prepared,”[Pg 220] says Professor Cooke; and some thirty years ago this humble work would have been doomed to self-destruction by its own contents. But the modern phenomenon, notwithstanding the daily exposés, the ridicule with which it is crowned at the hand of every materialist, and its own numerous errors, grows and waxes strong in facts, if not in wisdom and spirit. What would have appeared twenty years ago simply preposterous, may well be listened to now that the phenomena are endorsed by great scientists. Unfortunately, if the manifestations increase in power daily, there is no corresponding improvement in philosophy. The discernment of spirits is still as wanting as ever.

Perhaps, among the whole body of spiritualist writers of our day, not one is held in higher esteem for character, education, sincerity, and ability, than Epes Sargent, of Boston, Massachusetts. His monograph entitled The Proof Palpable of Immortality, deservedly occupies a high rank among works upon the subject. With every disposition to be charitable and apologetic for mediums and their phenomena, Mr. Sargent is still compelled to use the following language: “The power of spirits to reproduce simulacra of persons who have passed from the earth-life, suggests the question—How far can we be assured of the identity of any spirit, let the tests be what they may? We have not yet arrived at that stage of enlightenment that would enable us to reply confidently to this inquiry.... There is much that is yet a puzzle in the language and action of this class of materialized spirits.” As to the intellectual calibre of most of the spirits which lurk behind the physical phenomena, Mr. Sargent will unquestionably be accepted as a most competent judge, and he says, “the great majority, as in this world, are of the unintellectual sort.” If it is a fair question, we would like to ask why they should be so lacking in intelligence, if they are human spirits? Either intelligent human spirits cannot materialize, or, the spirits that do materialize have not human intelligence, and, therefore, by Mr. Sargent’s own showing, they may just as well be “elementary” spirits, who have ceased to be human altogether, or those demons, which, according to the Persian Magi and Plato, hold a middle rank between gods and disembodied men.

There is good evidence, that of Mr. Crookes for one, to show that many “materialized” spirits talk in an audible voice. Now, we have shown, on the testimony of ancients, that the voice of human spirits is not and cannot be articulated; being, as Emanuel Swedenborg declares, “a deep suspiration.” Who of the two classes of witnesses may be trusted more safely? Is it the ancients who had the experience of so many ages in theurgical practices, or modern spiritualists, who have had none at all, and who have no facts upon which to base an opinion, except such as have been communicated by “spirits,” whose identity they have no means[Pg 221] of proving? There are mediums whose organisms have called out sometimes hundreds of these would-be “human” forms. And yet we do not recollect to have seen or heard of one expressing anything but the most commonplace ideas. This fact ought surely to arrest the attention of even the most uncritical spiritualist. If a spirit can speak at all, and if the way is opened to intelligent as well as to unintellectual beings, why should they not sometimes give us addresses in some remote degree approximating in quality to the communications we receive through the “direct writing?” Mr. Sargent puts forward a very suggestive and important idea in this sentence. “How far they are limited in their mental operations and in their recollections by the act of materialization, or how far by the intellectual horizon of the medium is still a question.”[369] If the same kind of “spirits” materialize that produce the direct writing, and both manifest through mediums, and the one talk nonsense, while the other often give us sublime philosophical teachings, why should their mental operations be limited “by the intellectual horizon of the medium” in the one instance more than in the other? The materializing mediums—at least so far as our observation extends—are no more uneducated than many peasants and mechanics who at different times have, under supernal influences, given profound and sublime ideas to the world. The history of psychology teems with examples in illustration of this point, among which that of Boehmè, the inspired but ignorant shoemaker, and our own Davis, are conspicuous. As to the matter of unintellectuality we presume that no more striking cases need be sought than those of the child-prophets of Cevennes, poets and seers, such as have been mentioned in previous chapters. When spirits have once furnished themselves with vocal organs to speak at all, it surely ought to be no more difficult for them to talk as persons of their assumed respective education, intelligence, and social rank would in life, instead of falling invariably into one monotonous tone of commonplace and, but too often, platitude. As to Mr. Sargent’s hopeful remark, that “the science of Spiritualism being still in its infancy, we may hope for more light on this question,” we fear we must reply, that it is not through “dark cabinets” that this light will ever break.[370]

It is simply ridiculous and absurd to require from every investigator who comes forward as a witness to the marvels of the day and psychological phenomena the diploma of a master of arts and sciences. The experience of the past forty years is an evidence that it is not always the minds which are the most “scientifically trained” that are the best in matters of simple common sense and honest truth. Nothing blinds like[Pg 222] fanaticism, or a one sided view of a question. We may take as an illustration Oriental magic or ancient spiritualism, as well as the modern phenomena. Hundreds, nay thousands of perfectly trustworthy witnesses, returning from residence and travels in the East, have testified to the fact that uneducated fakirs, sheiks, dervishes, and lamas have, in their presence, without confederates or mechanical appliances, produced wonders. They have affirmed that the phenomena exhibited by them were in contravention of all the known laws of science, and thus tended to prove the existence of many yet unknown occult potencies in nature, seemingly directed by preterhuman intelligences. What has been the attitude assumed by our scientists toward this subject? How far did the testimony of the most “scientifically” trained minds make impression on their own? Did the investigations of Professors Hare and de Morgan, of Crookes and Wallace, de Gasparin and Thury, Wagner and Butlerof, etc., shake for one moment their skepticism? How were the personal experiences of Jacolliot with the fakirs of India received, or the psychological elucidations of Professor Perty, of Geneva, viewed? How far does the loud cry of mankind, craving for palpable and demonstrated signs of a God, an individual soul, and of eternity, affect them; and what is their response? They pull down and destroy every vestige of spiritual things, but they erect nothing. “We cannot get such signs with either retorts or crucibles,” they say; “hence, it’s all but a delusion!” In this age of cold reason and prejudice, even the Church has to look to science for help. Creeds built on sand, and high-towering but rootless dogmas, crumble down under the cold breath of research, and pull down true religion in their fall. But the longing for some outward sign of a God and a life hereafter, remains as tenaciously as ever in the human heart. In vain is all sophistry of science; it can never stifle the voice of nature. Only her representatives have poisoned the pure waters of simple faith, and now humanity mirrors itself in waters made turbid with all the mud stirred up from the bottom of the once pure spring. The anthropomorphic God of our fathers is replaced by anthropomorphic monsters; and what is still worse, by the reflection of humanity itself in these waters, whose ripples send it back the distorted images of truth and facts as evoked by its misguided imagination. “It is not a miracle that we want,” writes the Reverend Brooke Herford, “but to find palpable evidence of the spiritual and the divine. It is not to the prophets that men cry for such a “sign,” but rather to the scientists. Men feel as if all that groping about in the foremost verge or innermost recesses of creation should bring the investigator at length close to the deep, underlying facts of all things, to some unmistakable signs of God.” The signs are there, and the scientists too; what can we expect more of them, now[Pg 223] that they have done so well their duty? Have they not, these Titans of thought, dragged down God from His hiding-place, and given us instead a protoplasm?

At the Edinburgh meeting of the British Association, in 1871, Sir William Thomson said: “Science is bound by the everlasting law of honor to face fearlessly every problem which can fairly be presented to it.” In his turn, Professor Huxley remarks: “With regard to the miracle-question, I can only say that the word ‘impossible’ is not, to my mind, applicable to matters of philosophy.” The great Humboldt remarks that “a presumptuous skepticism that rejects facts without examination of their truth is, in some respects, more injurious than unquestioning credulity.”

These men have proved untrue to their own teachings. The opportunity afforded them by the opening of the Orient, to investigate for themselves the phenomena alleged by every traveller to take place in those countries, has been rejected. Did our physiologists and pathologists ever so much as think of availing themselves of it to settle this most momentous subject of human thought? Oh, no; for they would never dare. It is not to be expected that the principal Academicians of Europe and America should undertake a joint journey to Thibet and India, and investigate the fakir marvel on the spot! And were one of them to go as a solitary pilgrim and witness all the miracles of creation, in that land of wonders, who, of his colleagues, could be expected to believe his testimony?

It would be as tedious as superfluous to begin a restatement of facts, so forcibly put by others. Mr. Wallace and W. Howitt,[371] have repeatedly and cleverly described the thousand and one absurd errors into which the learned societies of France and England have fallen, through their blind skepticism. If Cuvier could throw aside the fossil excavated in 1828 by Boué, the French geologist, only because the anatomist thought himself wiser than his colleague, and would not believe that human skeletons could be found eighty feet deep in the mud of the Rhine; and if the French Academy could discredit the assertions of Boucher de Perthes, in 1846, only to be criticised in its turn in 1860, when the truth of de Perthes’ discoveries and observations was fully confirmed by the whole body of geologists finding flint weapons in the drift-gravels of northern France; and if McEnery’s testimony, in 1825, to the fact that he had discovered worked flints, together with the remains of extinct animals, in Kent’s Hole Cavern[372] was laughed at; and that of[Pg 224] Godwin Austen to the same effect, in 1840, ridiculed still more, if that were possible; and all that excess of scientific skepticism and merriment could, in 1865, finally come to grief, and be shown to have been entirely uncalled for; when—says Mr. Wallace “all the previous reports for forty years were confirmed and shown to be even less wonderful than the reality;“who can be so credulous as to believe in the infallibility of our science? And why wonder at the exhibition of such a lack of moral courage in individual members of this great and stubborn body known as modern science?

Thus fact after fact has been discredited. From all sides we hear constant complaints. “Very little is known of psychology!” sighs one F. R. S. “We must confess that we know little, if anything, in physiology,” says another. “Of all sciences, there is none which rests upon so uncertain a basis as medicine,” reluctantly testifies a third. “What do we know about the presumed nervous fluids?... Nothing, as yet,” puts in a fourth one; and so on in every branch of science. And, meanwhile, phenomena, surpassing in interest all others of nature, and to be solved only by physiology, psychology, and the “as yet unknown” fluids, are either rejected as delusions, or, if even true, “do not interest” scientists. Or, what is still worse, when a subject, whose organism exhibits in itself the most important features of such occult though natural potencies, offers his person for an investigation, instead of an honest experiment being attempted with him he finds himself entrapped by a scientist (?) and paid for his trouble with a sentence of three months’ imprisonment! This is indeed promising.

It is easy to comprehend that a fact given in 1731, testifying to another fact which happened during the papacy of Paul III., for instance, is disbelieved in 1876. And when scientists are told that the Romans preserved lights in their sepulchres for countless years by the oiliness of gold; and that one of such ever-burning lamps was found brightly burning in the tomb of Tullia, the daughter of Cicero, notwithstanding that the tomb had been shut up fifteen hundred and fifty years,[373]—they have a certain right to doubt, and even disbelieve the statement, until they assure themselves, on the evidence of their own senses, that such a thing is possible. In such a case they can reject the testimony of all the ancient and mediæval philosophers. The burial of living fakirs and their subsequent resuscitation, after thirty days of inhumation, may have a suspicious look to them. So also with the self-infliction of mortal wounds, and the exhibition of their own bowels to the persons present by various lamas, who heal such wounds almost instantaneously.

[Pg 225]

For certain men who deny the evidence of their own senses as to phenomena produced in their own country, and before numerous witnesses, the narratives to be found in classical books, and in the notes of travellers, must of course seem absurd. But what we will never be able to understand is the collective stubbornness of the Academies, in the face of such bitter lessons in the past, to these institutions which have so often “darkened counsel by words without knowledge.” Like the Lord answering Job “out of the whirlwind,” magic can say to modern science: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding!” And, who art thou who dare say to nature, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?”

But what matters it if they do deny? Can they prevent phenomena taking place in the four corners of the world, if their skepticism were a thousand times more bitter? Fakirs will still be buried and resuscitated, gratifying the curiosity of European travellers; and lamas and Hindu ascetics will wound, mutilate, and even disembowel themselves, and find themselves all the better for it; and the denials of the whole world will not blow sufficiently to extinguish the perpetually-burning lamps in certain of the subterranean crypts of India, Thibet, and Japan. One of such lamps is mentioned by the Rev. S. Mateer, of the London Mission. In the temple of Trevandrum, in the kingdom of Travancore, South India, “there is a deep well inside the temple, into which immense riches are thrown year by year, and in another place, in a hollow covered by a stone, a great golden lamp, which was lit over 120 years ago, still continues burning,” says this missionary in his description of the place. Catholic missionaries attribute these lamps, as a matter of course, to the obliging services of the devil. The more prudent Protestant divine mentions the fact, and makes no commentary. The Abbé Huc has seen and examined one of such lamps, and so have other people whose good luck it has been to win the confidence and friendship of Eastern lamas and divines. No more can be denied the wonders seen by Captain Lane in Egypt; the Benares experiences of Jacolliot and those of Sir Charles Napier; the levitations of human beings in broad daylight, and which can be accounted for only on the explanation given in the Introductory chapter of the present work.[374] Such levitations are testified to—besides Mr. Crookes—by Professor Perty, who shows them produced in open air, and lasting sometimes twenty minutes; all these phenomena and many more have happened, do, and will happen in every country of this globe, and that in spite of all the skeptics and scientists that ever were evolved out of the Silurian mud.

[Pg 226]

Among the ridiculed claims of alchemy is that of the perpetual lamps. If we tell the reader that we have seen such, we may be asked—in case that the sincerity of our personal belief is not questioned—how we can tell that the lamps we have observed are perpetual, as the period of our observation was but limited? Simply that, as we know the ingredients employed, and the manner of their construction, and the natural law applicable to the case, we are confident that our statement can be corroborated upon investigation in the proper quarter. What that quarter is, and from whom that knowledge can be learned, our critics must discover, by taking the pains we did. Meanwhile, however, we will quote a few of the 173 authorities who have written upon the subject. None of these, as we recollect, have asserted that these sepulchral lamps would burn perpetually, but only for an indefinite number of years, and instances are recorded of their continuing alight for many centuries. It will not be denied that, if there is a natural law by which a lamp can be made without replenishment to burn ten years, there is no reason why the same law could not cause the combustion to continue one hundred or one thousand years.

Among the many well-known personages who firmly believed and strenuously asserted that such sepulchral lamps burned for several hundreds of years, and would have continued to burn may be forever, had they not been extinguished, or the vessels broken by some accident, we may reckon the following names: Clemens Alexandrinus, Hermolaus Barbarus, Appian, Burattinus, Citesius, Cœlius, Foxius, Costæus, Casalius, Cedrenus, Delrius, Ericius, Gesnerus, Jacobonus, Leander, Libavius, Lazius, P. de la Mirandolla, Philalethes, Licetus, Maiolus, Maturantius, Baptista Porta, Pancirollus, Ruscellius, Scardonius, Ludovicus Vives, Volateranus, Paracelsus, several Arabian alchemists, and finally, Pliny, Solinus, Kircher, and Albertus Magnus.

The discovery is claimed by the ancient Egyptians, those sons of the Land of Chemistry.[375] At least, they were a people who used these lamps far more than any other nation, on account of their religious doctrines. The astral soul of the mummy was believed to be lingering about the body for the whole space of the three thousand years of the circle of necessity. Attached to it by a magnetic thread, which could be broken but by its own exertion, the Egyptians hoped that the ever-burning lamp, symbol of their incorruptible and immortal spirit, would at last decide the more material soul to part with its earthly dwelling, and unite forever with its divine SELF. Therefore lamps were hung in the sepulchres of the rich. Such lamps are often found in the subterranean caves of the dead,[Pg 227] and Licetus has written a large folio to prove that in his time, whenever a sepulchre was opened, a burning lamp was found within the tomb, but was instantaneously extinguished on account of the desecration. T. Livius, Burattinus, and Michael Schatta, in their letters to Kircher,[376] affirm that they found many lamps in the subterranean caves of old Memphis. Pausanias speaks of the golden lamp in the temple of Minerva at Athens, which he says was the workmanship of Callimachus, and burnt a whole year. Plutarch[377] affirms that he saw one in the temple of Jupiter Amun, and that the priests assured him that it had burnt continually for years, and though it stood in the open air, neither wind nor water could extinguish it. St. Augustine, the Catholic authority, also describes a lamp in the fane of Venus, of the same nature as the others, unextinguishable either by the strongest wind or by water. A lamp was found at Edessa, says Kedrenus, “which, being hidden at the top of a certain gate, burned 500 years.” But of all such lamps, the one mentioned by Olybius Maximus of Padua is by far the more wonderful. It was found near Attestè, and Scardeonius[378] gives a glowing description of it: “In a large earthen urn was contained a lesser, and in that a burning lamp, which had continued so for 1500 years, by means of a most pure liquor contained in two bottles, one of gold and the other of silver. These are in the custody of Franciscus Maturantius, and are by him valued at an exceeding rate.”

Taking no account of exaggerations, and putting aside as mere unsupported negation the affirmation by modern science of the impossibility of such lamps, we would ask whether, in case these inextinguishable fires are found to have really existed in the ages of “miracles,” the lamps burning at Christian shrines and those of Jupiter, Minerva, and other Pagan deities, ought to be differently regarded. According to certain theologians, it would appear that the former (for Christianity also claims such lamps) have burned by a divine, miraculous power, and that the light of the latter, made by “heathen” art, was supported by the wiles of the devil. Kircher and Licetus show that they were ordered in these two diverse ways. The lamp at Antioch, which burned 1500 years, in an open and public place, over the door of a church, was preserved by the “power of God,” who “hath made so infinite a number of stars to burn with perpetual light.” As to the Pagan lamps, St. Augustine assures us they were the work of the devil, “who deceives us in a thousand ways.” What more easy for Satan to do than represent a flash of light, or a bright flame to them who first enter into such a subterranean cave? This was[Pg 228] asserted by all good Christians during the Papacy of Paul III., when upon opening a tomb in the Appian Way, at Rome, there was found the entire body of a young girl swimming in a bright liquor which had so well preserved it, that the face was beautiful and like life itself. At her feet burned a lamp, whose flame vanished upon opening the sepulchre. From some engraved signs it was found to have been buried for over 1500 years, and supposed to have been the body of Tulliola, or Tullia, Cicero’s daughter.[379]

Chemists and physicists deny that perpetual lamps are possible, alleging that whatever is resolved into vapor or smoke cannot be permanent, but must consume; and as the oily nutriment of a lighted lamp is exhaled into a vapor, hence the fire cannot be perpetual for want of food. Alchemists, on the other hand, deny that all the nourishment of kindled fire must of necessity be converted into vapor. They say that there are things in nature which will not only resist the force of fire and remain inconsumable, but will also prove inextinguishable by either wind or water. In an old chemical work of the year 1700, called ΝΕΚΡΟΚΗΔΕΙΑ, the author gives a number of refutations of the claims of various alchemists. But though he denies that a fire can be made to burn perpetually, he is half-inclined to believe it possible that a lamp should burn several hundred years. Besides, we have a mass of testimony from alchemists who devoted years to these experiments and came to the conclusion that it was possible.

There are some peculiar preparations of gold, silver, and mercury; also of naphtha, petroleum, and other bituminous oils. Alchemists also name the oil of camphor and amber, the Lapis asbestos seu Amianthus, the Lapis Carystius, Cyprius, and Linum vivum seu Creteum, as employed for such lamps. They affirm that such matter can be prepared either of gold or silver, reduced to fluid, and indicate that gold is the fittest pabulum for their wondrous flame, as, of all metals, gold wastes the least when either heated or melted, and, moreover, can be made to reäbsorb its oily humidity as soon as exhaled, so continuously feeding its own flame when it is once lighted. The Kabalists assert that the secret was known to Moses, who had learned it from the Egyptians; and that the lamp ordered by the “Lord” to burn on the tabernacle, was an inextinguishable lamp. “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil-olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always” (Exod. xxvii. 20).

Licetus also denies that these lamps were prepared of metal, but on[Pg 229] page 44 of his work mentions a preparation of quicksilver filtrated seven times through white sand by fire, of which, he says, lamps were made that would burn perpetually. Both Maturantius and Citesius firmly believe that such a work can be done by a purely chemical process. This liquor of quicksilver was known among alchemists as Aqua Mercurialis, Materia Metallorum, Perpetua Dispositio, and Materia prima Artis, also Oleum Vitri. Tritenheim and Bartolomeo Korndorf both made preparations for the inextinguishable fire, and left their recipes for it.[380]

Asbestos, which was known to the Greeks under the name of Ασβεστος, or inextinguishable, is a kind of stone, which once set on fire[Pg 230] cannot be quenched, as Pliny and Solinus tell us. Albertus Magnus describes it as a stone of an iron color, found mostly in Arabia. It is generally found covered with a hardly-perceptible oleaginous moisture, which upon being approached with a lighted candle will immediately catch fire. Many were the experiments made by chemists to extract from it this indissoluble oil, but they are alleged to have all failed. But, are our chemists prepared to say that the above operation is utterly impracticable? If this oil could once be extracted there can be no question but it would afford a perpetual fuel. The ancients might well boast of having had the secret of it, for, we repeat, there are experimenters living at this day who have done so successfully. Chemists who have vainly tried it, have asserted that the fluid or liquor chemically extracted from that stone was more of a watery than oily nature, and so impure and feculent that it could not burn; others affirmed, on the contrary, that the oil, as soon as exposed to the air, became so thick and solid that it would hardly flow, and when lighted emitted no flame, but escaped in dark smoke; whereas the lamps of the ancients are alleged to have burned with the purest and brightest flame, without emitting the slightest smoke. Kircher, who shows the practicability of purifying it, thinks it so difficult as to be accessible only to the highest adepts of alchemy.

St. Augustine, who attributes the whole of these arts to the Christian scape-goat, the devil, is flatly contradicted by Ludovicus Vives,[381] who shows that all such would-be magical operations are the work of man’s industry and deep study of the hidden secrets of nature, wonderful and miraculous as they may seem. Podocattarus, a Cypriote knight,[382] had both flax and linen made out of another asbestos, which Porcacchius says[383] he saw at the house of this knight. Pliny calls this flax linum vinum, and Indian flax, and says it is done out of asbeston sive asbestinum, a kind of flax of which they made cloth that was to be cleaned by throwing it in the fire. He adds that it was as precious as pearls and diamonds, for not only was it very rarely found but exceedingly difficult to be woven, on account of the shortness of the threads. Being beaten flat with a hammer, it is soaked in warm water, and when dried its filaments can be easily divided into threads like flax and woven into cloth. Pliny asserts he has seen some towels made of it, and assisted in an experiment of purifying them by fire. Baptista Porta also states that he found the same, at Venice, in the hands of a Cyprian lady; he calls this discovery of Alchemy a secretum optimum.

Dr. Grew, in his description of the curiosities in Gresham College[Pg 231] (seventeenth century), believes the art, as well as the use of such linen, altogether lost, but it appears that it was not quite so, for we find the Museum Septalius boasting of the possession of thread, ropes, paper, and net-work done of this material as late as 1726; some of these articles made, moreover, by the own hand of Septalius, as we learn in Greenhill’s Art of Embalming, p. 361. “Grew,” says the author, “seems to make Asbestinus Lapis and Amianthus all one, and calls them in English the thrum-stone;” he says it grows in short threads or thrums, from about a quarter of an inch to an inch in length, parallel and glossy, as fine as those small, single threads the silk-worms spin, and very flexible like to flax or tow. That the secret is not altogether lost is proved by the fact that some Buddhist convents in China and Thibet are in possession of it. Whether made of the fibre of one or the other of such stones, we cannot say, but we have seen in a monastery of female Talapoins, a yellow gown, such as the Buddhist monks wear, thrown into a large pit, full of glowing coals, and taken out two hours afterward as clear as if it had been washed with soap and water.

Similar severe trials of asbestos having occurred in Europe and America in our own times, the substance is being applied to various industrial purposes, such as roofing-cloth, incombustible dresses and fire-proof safes. A very valuable deposit on Staten Island, in New York harbor, yields the mineral in bundles, like dry wood, with fibres of several feet in length. The finer variety of asbestos, called αμιαντος (undefiled) by the ancients, took its name from its white, satin-like lustre.

The ancients made the wick of their perpetual lamps from another stone also, which they called Lapis Carystius. The inhabitants of the city of Carystos seemed to have made no secret of it, as Matthæus Raderus says in his work[384] that they “kemb’d, spun, and wove this downy stone into mantles, table-linen, and the like, which when foul they purified again with fire instead of water.” Pausanias, in Atticus, and Plutarch[385] also assert that the wicks of lamps were made from this stone; but Plutarch adds that it was no more to be found in his time. Licetus is inclined to believe that the perpetual lamps used by the ancients in their sepulchres had no wicks at all, as very few have been found; but Ludovicus Vives is of a contrary opinion and affirms that he has seen quite a number of them.

Licetus, moreover, is firmly persuaded that a “pabulum for fire may be given with such an equal temperament as cannot be consumed but after a long series of ages, and so that neither the matter shall exhale[Pg 232] but strongly resist the fire, nor the fire consume the matter, but be restrained by it, as it were with a chain, from flying upward.” To this, Sir Thomas Brown,[386] speaking of lamps which have burned many hundred years, included in small bodies, observes that “this proceeds from the purity of the oil, which yields no fuliginous exhalations to suffocate the fire; for if air had nourished the flame, then it had not continued many minutes, for it would certainly in that case have been spent and wasted by the fire.” But he adds, “the art of preparing this inconsumable oil is lost.”

Not quite; and time will prove it, though all that we now write should be doomed to fail, like so many other truths.

We are told, in behalf of science, that she accepts no other mode of investigation than observation and experiment. Agreed; and have we not the records of say three thousand years of observation of facts going to prove the occult powers of man? As to experiment, what better opportunity could have been asked than the so-called modern phenomena have afforded? In 1869, various scientific Englishmen were invited by the London Dialectical Society to assist in an investigation of these phenomena. Let us see what our philosophers replied. Professor Huxley wrote: “I have no time for such an inquiry, which would involve much trouble and (unless it were unlike all inquiries of that kind I have known) much annoyance.... I take no interest in the subject ... but supposing the phenomena to be genuine—they do not interest me.”[387] Mr. George H. Lewes expresses a wise thing in the following sentence: “When any man says that phenomena are produced by no known physical laws, he declares he knows the laws by which they are produced.”[388] Professor Tyndall expresses doubt as to the possibility of good results at any seance which he might attend. His presence, according to the opinion of Mr. Varley, throws everything in confusion.[389] Professor Carpenter writes, “I have satisfied myself by personal investigation, that, whilst a great number of what pass as such (i. e., spiritual manifestations) are the results of intentional imposture, and many others of self-deception, there are certain phenomena which are quite genuine, and must be considered as fair subjects of scientific study ... the source of these phenomena does not lie in any communication ab-extra, but depend upon the subjective condition of the individual which operates according to certain recognized physiological laws ... the process to which I have given the name ‘unconscious cerebration’ ... performs a[Pg 233] large part in the production of the phenomena known as spiritualistic.”[390]

And it is thus that the world is apprised through the organ of exact science, that unconscious cerebration has acquired the faculty of making the guitars fly in the air and forcing furniture to perform various clownish tricks!

So much for the opinions of the English scientists. The Americans have not done much better. In 1857, a committee of Harvard University warned the public against investigating this subject, which “corrupts the morals and degrades the intellect.” They called it, furthermore, “a contaminating influence, which surely tends to lessen the truth of man and the purity of woman.” Later, when Professor Robert Hare, the great chemist, defying the opinions of his contemporaries, investigated spiritualism, and became a believer, he was immediately declared non compos mentis; and in 1874, when one of the New York daily papers addressed a circular letter to the principal scientists of this country, asking them to investigate, and offering to pay the expenses, they, like the guests bidden to the supper, “with one consent, began to make excuses.”

Yet, despite the indifference of Huxley, the jocularity of Tyndall, and the “unconscious cerebration” of Carpenter, many a scientist as noted as either of them, has investigated the unwelcome subject, and, overwhelmed with the evidence, become converted. And another scientist, and a great author—although not a spiritualist—bears this honorable testimony: “That the spirits of the dead occasionally revisit the living, or haunt their former abodes, has been in all ages, in all European countries, a fixed belief, not confined to rustics, but participated in by the intelligent.... If human testimony on such subjects can be of any value, there is a body of evidence reaching from the remotest ages to the present time, as extensive and unimpeachable as is to be found in support of anything whatever.”[391]

Unfortunately, human skepticism is a stronghold capable of defying any amount of testimony. And to begin with Mr. Huxley, our men of science accept of but so much as suits them, and no more.

“Oh shame to men! devil with devil damn’d
Firm concord holds,—men only disagree
Of creatures rational....”[392]

How can we account for such divergence of views among men taught out of the same text-books and deriving their knowledge from the same[Pg 234] source? Clearly, this is but one more corroboration of the truism that no two men see the same thing exactly alike. This idea is admirably formulated by Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson, in a letter to the Dialectical Society.

“I have long,” says he, “been convinced, by the experience of my life as a pioneer in several heterodoxies which are rapidly becoming orthodoxies, that nearly all truth is temperamental to us, or given in the affections and intuitions, and that discussion and inquiry do little more than feed temperament.”

This profound observer might have added to his experience that of Bacon, who remarks that “ ... a little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth man’s mind about to religion.”

Professor Carpenter vaunts the advanced philosophy of the present day which “ignores no fact however strange that can be attested by valid evidence;” and yet he would be the first to reject the claims of the ancients to philosophical and scientific knowledge, although based upon evidence quite “as valid” as that which supports the pretensions of men of our times to philosophical or scientific distinction. In the department of science, let us take for example the subjects of electricity and electro-magnetism, which have exalted the names of Franklin and Morse to so high a place upon our roll of fame. Six centuries before the Christian era, Thales is said to have discovered the electric properties of amber; and yet the later researches of Schweigger, as given in his extensive works on Symbolism, have thoroughly demonstrated that all the ancient mythologies were based on the science of natural philosophy, and show that the most occult properties of electricity and magnetism were known to the theurgists of the earliest Mysteries recorded in history, those of Samothrace. Diodorus, of Sicily, Herodotus, and Sanchoniathon, the Phœnician—the oldest of historians—tell us that these Mysteries originated in the night of time, centuries and probably thousands of years prior to the historical period. One of the best proofs of it we find in a most remarkable picture, in Raoul-Rochette’s Monuments d’Antiquité Figurés, in which, like the “erect-haired Pan,” all the figures have their hair streaming out in every direction—except the central figure of the Kabeirian Demeter, from whom the power issues, and one other, a kneeling man.[393] The picture, according to Schweigger, evidently represents a part of the ceremony of initiation. And yet it is not so long since the elementary works on natural philosophy began to be ornamented with cuts of electrified heads, with hair[Pg 235] standing out in all directions, under the influence of the electric fluid. Schweigger shows that a lost natural philosophy of antiquity was connected with the most important religious ceremonies. He demonstrates in the amplest manner, that magic in the prehistoric periods had a part in the mysteries and that the greatest phenomena, the so-called miracles—whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian—rested in fact on the arcane knowledge of the ancient priests of physics and all the branches of chemistry, or rather alchemy.

In chapter xi., which is entirely devoted to the wonderful achievements of the ancients, we propose to demonstrate our assertions more fully. We will show, on the evidence of the most trustworthy classics, that at a period far anterior to the siege of Troy, the learned priests of the sanctuaries were thoroughly acquainted with electricity and even lightning-conductors. We will now add but a few more words before closing the subject.

The theurgists so well understood the minutest properties of magnetism, that, without possessing the lost key to their arcana, but depending wholly upon what was known in their modern days of electro-magnetism, Schweigger and Ennemoser have been able to trace the identity of the “twin brothers,” the Dioskuri, with the polarity of electricity and magnetism. Symbolical myths, previously supposed to be meaningless fictions, are now found to be “the cleverest and at the same time most profound expressions of a strictly scientifically defined truth of nature,” according to Ennemoser.[394]

Our physicists pride themselves on the achievements of our century and exchange antiphonal hymns of praise. The eloquent diction of their class-lectures, their flowery phraseology, require but a slight modification to change these lectures into melodious sonnets. Our modern Petrarchs, Dantes, and Torquato Tassos rival with the troubadours of old in poetical effusion. In their unbounded glorification of matter, they sing the amorous commingling of the wandering atoms, and the loving interchange of protoplasms, and lament the coquettish fickleness of “forces” which play so provokingly at hide-and-seek with our grave professors in the great drama of life, called by them “force-correlation.” Proclaiming matter sole and autocratic sovereign of the Boundless Universe, they would forcibly divorce her from her consort, and place the widowed queen on the great throne of nature made vacant by the exiled spirit. And now, they try to make her appear as attractive as they can by incensing and worshipping at the shrine of their own building. Do they forget, or are they utterly unaware of the fact, that in the absence of its[Pg 236] legitimate sovereign, this throne is but a whitened sepulchre, inside of which all is rottenness and corruption! That matter without the spirit which vivifies it, and of which it is but the “gross purgation,” to use a hermetic expression, is nothing but a soulless corpse, whose limbs, in order to be moved in predetermined directions, require an intelligent operator at the great galvanic battery called Life!

In what particular is the knowledge of the present century so superior to that of the ancients? When we say knowledge we do not mean that brilliant and clear definition of our modern scholars of particulars to the most trifling detail in every branch of exact science; of that tuition which finds an appropriate term for every detail insignificant and microscopic as it may be; a name for every nerve and artery in human and animal organisms, an appellation for every cell, filament, and rib in a plant; but the philosophical and ultimate expression of every truth in nature.

The greatest ancient philosophers are accused of shallowness and a superficiality of knowledge of those details in exact sciences of which the moderns boast so much. Plato is declared by his various commentators to have been utterly ignorant of the anatomy and functions of the human body; to have known nothing of the uses of the nerves to convey sensations; and to have had nothing better to offer than vain speculations concerning physiological questions. He has simply generalized the divisions of the human body, they say, and given nothing reminding us of anatomical facts. As to his own views on the human frame, the microcosmos being in his ideas the image in miniature of the macrocosmos, they are much too transcendental to be given the least attention by our exact and materialistic skeptics. The idea of this frame being, as well as the universe, formed out of triangles, seems preposterously ridiculous to several of his translators. Alone of the latter, Professor Jowett, in his introduction to the Timæus, honestly remarks that the modern physical philosopher “hardly allows to his notions the merit of being ‘the dead men’s bones’ out of which he has himself risen to a higher knowledge;”[395] forgetting how much the metaphysics of olden times has helped the “physical” sciences of the present day. If, instead of quarrelling with the insufficiency and at times absence of terms and definitions strictly scientific in Plato’s works, we analyze them carefully, the Timæus, alone, will be found to contain within its limited space the germs of every new discovery. The circulation of the blood and the law of gravitation are clearly mentioned, though the former fact, it may be, is not so clearly defined as to withstand the reiterated attacks of modern[Pg 237] science; for according to Prof. Jowett, the specific discovery that the blood flows out at one side of the heart through the arteries, and returns through the veins at the other, was unknown to him, though Plato was perfectly aware “that blood is a fluid in constant motion.”

Plato’s method, like that of geometry, was to descend from universals to particulars. Modern science vainly seeks a first cause among the permutations of molecules; the former sought and found it amid the majestic sweep of worlds. For him it was enough to know the great scheme of creation and to be able to trace the mightiest movements of the universe through their changes to their ultimates. The petty details, whose observation and classification have so taxed and demonstrated the patience of modern scientists, occupied but little of the attention of the old philosophers. Hence, while a fifth-form boy of an English school can prate more learnedly about the little things of physical science than Plato himself, yet, on the other hand, the dullest of Plato’s disciples could tell more about great cosmic laws and their mutual relations, and demonstrate a familiarity with and control over the occult forces which lie behind them, than the most learned professor in the most distinguished academy of our day.

This fact, so little appreciated and never dwelt upon by Plato’s translators, accounts for the self-laudation in which we moderns indulge at the expense of that philosopher and his compeers. Their alleged mistakes in anatomy and physiology are magnified to an inordinate extent to gratify our self-love, until, in acquiring the idea of our own superior learning, we lose sight of the intellectual splendor which adorns the ages of the past; it is as if one should, in fancy, magnify the solar spots until he should believe the bright luminary to be totally eclipsed.

The unprofitableness of modern scientific research is evinced in the fact that while we have a name for the most trivial particle of mineral, plant, animal, and man, the wisest of our teachers are unable to tell us anything definite about the vital force which produces the changes in these several kingdoms. It is necessary to seek further for corroboration of this statement than the works of our highest scientific authorities themselves.

It requires no little moral courage in a man of eminent professional position to do justice to the acquirements of the ancients, in the face of a public sentiment which is content with nothing else than their abasement. When we meet with a case of the kind we gladly lay a laurel at the feet of the bold and honest scholar. Such is Professor Jowett, Master of Balliol College, and Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford, who, in his translation of Plato’s works, speaking of “the physical philosophy of the ancients as a whole,” gives them the following[Pg 238] credit: 1. “That the nebular theory was the received belief of the early physicists.” Therefore it could not have rested, as Draper asserts,[396] upon the telescopic discovery made by Herschel I. 2. “That the development of animals out of frogs who came to land, and of man out of the animals, was held by Anaximenes in the sixth century before Christ.” The professor might have added that this theory antedated Anaximenes by some thousands of years, perhaps; that it was an accepted doctrine among Chaldeans, and that Darwin’s evolution of species and monkey theory are of an antediluvian origin. 3. “ ... that, even by Philolaus and the early Pythagoreans, the earth was held to be a body like the other stars revolving in space.”[397] Thus Galileo, studying some Pythagorean fragments, which are shown by Reuchlin to have yet existed in the days of the Florentine mathematician;[398] being, moreover, familiar with the doctrines of the old philosophers, but reässerted an astronomical doctrine which prevailed in India at the remotest antiquity. 4. The ancients “ ... thought that there was a sex in plants as well as in animals.” Thus our modern naturalists had but to follow in the steps of their predecessors. 5. “That musical notes depended on the relative length or tension of the strings from which they were emitted, and were measured by ratios of number.” 6. “That mathematical laws pervaded the world and even qualitative differences were supposed to have their origin in number;” and 7, “the annihilation of matter was denied by them, and held to be a transformation only.”[399] “Although one of these discoveries might have been supposed to be a happy guess,” adds Mr. Jowett, “we can hardly attribute them all to mere coincidences.”[400]

In short, the Platonic philosophy was one of order, system, and proportion; it embraced the evolution of worlds and species, the correlation and conservation of energy, the transmutation of material form, the indestructibility of matter and of spirit. Their position in the latter respect being far in advance of modern science, and binding the arch of their[Pg 239] philosophical system with a keystone at once perfect and immovable. If science has made such colossal strides during these latter days—if we have such clearer ideas of natural law than the ancients—why are our inquiries as to the nature and source of life unanswered? If the modern laboratory is so much richer in the fruits of experimental research than those of the olden time, how comes it that we make no step except on paths that were trodden long before the Christian era? How does it happen that the most advanced standpoint that has been reached in our times only enables us to see in the dim distance up the Alpine path of knowledge the monumental proofs that earlier explorers have left to mark the plateaux they had reached and occupied?

If modern masters are so much in advance of the old ones, why do they not restore to us the lost arts of our postdiluvian forefathers? Why do they not give us the unfading colors of Luxor—the Tyrian purple; the bright vermilion and dazzling blue which decorate the walls of this place, and are as bright as on the first day of their application? The indestructible cement of the pyramids and of ancient aqueducts; the Damascus blade, which can be turned like a corkscrew in its scabbard without breaking; the gorgeous, unparalleled tints of the stained glass that is found amid the dust of old ruins and beams in the windows of ancient cathedrals; and the secret of the true malleable glass? And if chemistry is so little able to rival even with the early mediæval ages in some arts, why boast of achievements which, according to strong probability, were perfectly known thousands of years ago? The more archæology and philology advance, the more humiliating to our pride are the discoveries which are daily made, the more glorious testimony do they bear in behalf of those who, perhaps on account of the distance of their remote antiquity, have been until now considered ignorant flounderers in the deepest mire of superstition.

Why should we forget that, ages before the prow of the adventurous Genoese clove the Western waters, the Phœnician vessels had circumnavigated the globe, and spread civilization in regions now silent and deserted? What archæologist will dare assert that the same hand which planned the Pyramids of Egypt, Karnak, and the thousand ruins now crumbling to oblivion on the sandy banks of the Nile, did not erect the monumental Nagkon-Wat of Cambodia? or trace the hieroglyphics on the obelisks and doors of the deserted Indian village, newly discovered in British Columbia by Lord Dufferin? or those on the ruins of Palenque and Uxmal, of Central America? Do not the relics we treasure in our museums—last mementos of the long “lost arts” speak loudly in favor of ancient civilization? And do they not prove, over and over again, that nations and continents that have passed away have buried[Pg 240] along with them arts and sciences, which neither the first crucible ever heated in a mediæval cloister, nor the last cracked by a modern chemist have revived, nor will—at least, in the present century.

“They were not without some knowledge of optics,” Professor Draper magnanimously concedes to the ancients; others positively deny to them even that little. “The convex lens found at Nimroud shows that they were not unacquainted with magnifying instruments.”[401] Indeed? If they were not, all the classical authors must have lied. For, when Cicero tells us that he had seen the entire Iliad written on skin of such a miniature size, that it could easily be rolled up inside a nut-shell, and Pliny asserts that Nero had a ring with a small glass in it, through which he watched the performance of the gladiators at a distance—could audacity go farther? Truly, when we are told that Mauritius could see from the promontory of Sicily over the entire sea to the coast of Africa, with an instrument called nauscopite, we must either think that all these witnesses lied, or that the ancients were more than slightly acquainted with optics and magnifying glasses. Wendell Phillips states that he has a friend who possesses an extraordinary ring “perhaps three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and on it is the naked figure of the god Hercules. By the aid of glasses, you can distinguish the interlacing muscles, and count every separate hair on the eyebrows.... Rawlinson brought home a stone about twenty inches long and ten wide, containing an entire treatise on mathematics. It would be perfectly illegible without glasses.... In Dr. Abbott’s Museum, there is a ring of Cheops, to which Bunsen assigns 500 B.C. The signet of the ring is about the size of a quarter of a dollar, and the engraving is invisible without the aid of glasses.... At Parma, they will show you a gem once worn on the finger of Michael Angelo, of which the engraving is 2,000 years old, and on which there are the figures of seven women. You must have the aid of powerful glasses in order to distinguish the forms at all.... So the microscope,” adds the learned lecturer, “instead of dating from our time, finds its brothers in the Books of Moses—and these are infant brothers.“

The foregoing facts do not seem to show that the ancients had merely “some knowledge of optics.” Therefore, totally disagreeing in this particular with Professor Fiske and his criticism of Professor Draper’s Conflict in his Unseen World, the only fault we find with the admirable book of Draper is that, as an historical critic, he sometimes uses his own optical instruments in the wrong place. While, in order to magnify the atheism of the Pythagorean Bruno, he looks through convex lenses;[Pg 241] whenever talking of the knowledge of the ancients, he evidently sees things through concave ones.

It is simply worthy of admiration to follow in various modern works the cautious attempts of both pious Christians and skeptical, albeit very learned men, to draw a line of demarcation between what we are and what we are not to believe, in ancient authors. No credit is ever allowed them without being followed by a qualifying caution. If Strabo tells us that ancient Nineveh was forty-seven miles in circumference, and his testimony is accepted, why should it be otherwise the moment he testifies to the accomplishment of Sibylline prophecies? Where is the common sense in calling Herodotus the “Father of History,” and then accusing him, in the same breath, of silly gibberish, whenever he recounts marvellous manifestations, of which he was an eye-witness? Perhaps, after all, such a caution is more than ever necessary, now that our epoch has been christened the Century of Discovery. The disenchantment may prove too cruel for Europe. Gunpowder, which has long been thought an invention of Bacon and Schwartz, is now shown in the school-books to have been used by the Chinese for levelling hills and blasting rocks, centuries before our era. “In the Museum of Alexandria,” says Draper, “there was a machine invented by Hero, the mathematician, a little more than 100 years B.C. It revolved by the agency of steam, and was of the form that we should now call a reaction-engine.... Chance had nothing to do with the invention of the modern steam-engine.”[402] Europe prides herself upon the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, and now we are told that the astronomical observations of the Chaldeans extend back to within a hundred years of the flood; and Bunsen fixes the flood at not less than 10,000 years before our era.[403] Moreover, a Chinese emperor, more than 2,000 years before the birth of Christ (i. e., before Moses) put to death his two chief astronomers for not predicting an eclipse of the sun.

It may be noted, as an example of the inaccuracy of current notions as to the scientific claims of the present century, that the discoveries of the indestructibility of matter and force-correlation, especially the latter, are heralded as among our crowning triumphs. It is “the most important discovery of the present century,” as Sir William Armstrong expressed it in his famous address as president of the British Association. But, this “important discovery” is no discovery after all. Its origin, apart from the undeniable traces of it to be found among the old philosophers, is lost in the dense shadows of prehistoric days. Its first vestiges are[Pg 242] discovered in the dreamy speculations of Vedic theology, in the doctrine of emanation and absorption, the nirvana in short. John Erigena outlined it in his bold philosophy in the eighth century, and we invite any one to read his De Divisione Naturæ, who would convince himself of this truth. Science tells that when the theory of the indestructibility of matter (also a very, very old idea of Demokritus, by the way) was demonstrated, it became necessary to extend it to force. No material particle can ever be lost; no part of the force existing in nature can vanish; hence, force was likewise proved indestructible, and its various manifestations or forces, under divers aspects, were shown to be mutually convertible, and but different modes of motion of the material particles. And thus was rediscovered the force-correlation. Mr. Grove, so far back as 1842, gave to each of these forces, such as heat, electricity, magnetism, and light, the character of convertibility; making them capable of being at one moment a cause, and at the next an effect.[404] But whence come these forces, and whither do they go, when we lose sight of them? On this point science is silent.

The theory of “force-correlation,” though it may be in the minds of our contemporaries “the greatest discovery of the age,” can account for neither the beginning nor the end of one of such forces; neither can the theory point out the cause of it. Forces may be convertible, and one may produce the other, still, no exact science is able to explain the alpha and omega of the phenomenon. In what particular are we then in advance of Plato who, discussing in the Timæus the primary and secondary qualities of matter,[405] and the feebleness of human intellect, makes Timæus say: “God knows the original qualities of things; man can only hope to attain to probability.” We have but to open one of the several pamphlets of Huxley and Tyndall to find precisely the same confession; but they improve upon Plato by not allowing even God to know more than themselves; and perhaps it may be upon this that they base their claims of superiority? The ancient Hindus founded their doctrine of emanation and absorption on precisely that law. The Τὸ Ὀν the primordial point in the boundless circle, “whose circumference is nowhere, and the centre everywhere,” emanating from itself all things, and manifesting them in the visible universe under multifarious forms; the forms interchanging, commingling, and, after a gradual transformation from the pure spirit (or the Buddhistic “nothing”), into the grossest matter, beginning to recede and as gradually re-emerge into their primitive state, which is the absorption into Nirvana[406]—what else is this but correlation of forces?

[Pg 243]

Science tells us that heat may be shown to develop electricity, electricity produce heat; and magnetism to evolve electricity, and vice versa. Motion, they tell us, results from motion itself, and so on, ad infinitum. This is the A B C of occultism and of the earliest alchemists. The indestructibility of matter and force being discovered and proved, the great problem of eternity is solved. What need have we more of spirit? its uselessness is henceforth scientifically demonstrated!

Thus modern philosophers may be said not to have gone one step beyond what the priests of Samothrace, the Hindus, and even the Christian Gnostics well knew. The former have shown it in that wonderfully ingenious mythos of the Dioskuri, or “the sons of heaven;” the twin brothers, spoken of by Schweigger, “who constantly die and return to life together, while it is absolutely necessary that one should die that the other may live.” They knew as well as our physicists, that when a force has disappeared it has simply been converted into another force. Though archæology may not have discovered any ancient apparatus for such special conversions, it may nevertheless be affirmed with perfect reason and upon analogical deductions that nearly all the ancient religions were based on such indestructibility of matter and force—plus the emanation of the whole from an ethereal, spiritual fire—or the central sun, which is God or spirit, on the knowledge of whose potentiality is based ancient theurgic magic.

In the manuscript commentary of Proclus on magic he gives the following account: “In the same manner as lovers gradually advance from that beauty which is apparent in sensible forms, to that which is divine; so the ancient priests, when they considered that there is a certain alliance and sympathy in natural things to each other, and of things manifest to occult powers, and discovered that all things subsist in all, they fabricated a sacred science from this mutual sympathy and similarity. Thus they recognized things supreme in such as are subordinate, and the subordinate in the supreme; in the celestial regions, terrene properties subsisting in a causal and celestial manner; and in earth celestial properties, but according to a terrene condition.”

Proclus then proceeds to point to certain mysterious peculiarities of[Pg 244] plants, minerals, and animals, all of which are well known to our naturalists, but none of which are explained. Such are the rotatory motion of the sunflower, of the heliotrope, of the lotos—which, before the rising of the sun, folds its leaves, drawing the petals within itself, so to say, then expands them gradually, as the sun rises, and draws them in again as it descends to the west—of the sun and lunar stones and the helioselenus, of the cock and lion, and other animals. “Now the ancients,” he says, “having contemplated this mutual sympathy of things (celestial and terrestrial) applied them for occult purposes, both celestial and terrene natures, by means of which, through a certain similitude, they deduced divine virtues into this inferior abode.... All things are full of divine natures; terrestrial natures receiving the plenitude of such as are celestial, but celestial of supercelestial essences, while every order of things proceeds gradually in a beautiful descent from the highest to the lowest.[407] For whatever particulars are collected into one above the order of things, are afterwards dilated in descending, various souls being distributed under their various ruling divinities.”[408]

Evidently Proclus does not advocate here simply a superstition, but science; for notwithstanding that it is occult, and unknown to our scholars, who deny its possibilities, magic is still a science. It is firmly and solely based on the mysterious affinities existing between organic and inorganic bodies, the visible productions of the four kingdoms, and the invisible powers of the universe. That which science calls gravitation, the ancients and the mediæval hermetists called magnetism, attraction, affinity. It is the universal law, which is understood by Plato and explained in Timæus as the attraction of lesser bodies to larger ones, and of similar bodies to similar, the latter exhibiting a magnetic power rather than following the law of gravitation. The anti-Aristotelean formula that gravity causes all bodies to descend with equal rapidity, without reference to their weight, the difference being caused by some other unknown agency, would seem to point a great deal more forcibly to magnetism than to gravitation, the former attracting rather in virtue of the substance than of the weight. A thorough familiarity with the occult faculties of everything existing in nature, visible as well as invisible; their mutual relations, attractions, and repulsions; the cause of these, traced to the spiritual principle which pervades and animates all things; the ability to furnish the best conditions for this principle to manifest itself, in other words a profound and exhaustive knowledge of natural law—this was and is the basis of magic.

[Pg 245]

In his notes on Ghosts and Goblins, when reviewing some facts adduced by certain illustrious defenders of the spiritual phenomena, such as Professor de Morgan, Mr. Robert Dale Owen, and Mr. Wallace among others—Mr. Richard A. Proctor says that he “cannot see any force in the following remarks by Professor Wallace: ‘How is such evidence as this,’ he (Wallace) says, speaking of one of Owen’s stories, ‘refuted or explained away? Scores, and even hundreds, of equally-attested facts are on record, but no attempt is made to explain them. They are simply ignored, and in many cases admitted to be inexplicable.’” To this Mr. Proctor jocularly replies that as “our philosophers declare that they have long ago decided these ghost stories to be all delusions; therefore they need only be ignored; and they feel much ‘worritted’ that fresh evidence should be adduced, and fresh converts made, some of whom are so unreasonable as to ask for a new trial on the ground that the former verdict was contrary to the evidence.”

“All this,” he goes on to say, “affords excellent reason why the ‘converts’ should not be ridiculed for their belief; but something more to the purpose must be urged before ‘the philosophers’ can be expected to devote much of their time to the inquiry suggested. It ought to be shown that the well-being of the human race is to some important degree concerned in the matter, whereas the trivial nature of all ghostly conduct hitherto recorded is admitted even by converts!”

Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten has collected a great number of authenticated facts from secular and scientific journals, which show with what serious questions our scientists sometimes replace the vexed subject of “Ghosts and Goblins.” She quotes from a Washington paper a report of one of these solemn conclaves, held on the evening of April 29th, 1854. Professor Hare, of Philadelphia, the venerable chemist, who was so universally respected for his individual character, as well as for his life-long labors for science, “was bullied into silence” by Professor Henry, as soon as he had touched the subject of spiritualism. “The impertinent action of one of the members of the ‘American Scientific Association,’” says the authoress, “was sanctioned by the majority of that distinguished body and subsequently endorsed by all of them in their proceedings.”[409] On the following morning, in the report of the session, the Spiritual Telegraph thus commented upon the events:

“It would seem that a subject like this” (presented by Professor Hare) was one which would lie peculiarly within the domain of ‘science.’ But the ‘American Association for the Promotion of Science’,[410] decided[Pg 246] that it was either unworthy of their attention or dangerous for them to meddle with, and so they voted to put the invitation on the table.... We cannot omit in this connection to mention that the ‘American Association for the Promotion of Science’ held a very learned, extended, grave, and profound discussion at the same session, upon the cause why ‘roosters crow between twelve and one o’clock at night!’ A subject worthy of philosophers; and one, moreover, which must have been shown to effect “the well-being of the human race” in a veryimportant degree.”

It is sufficient for one to express belief in the existence of a mysterious sympathy between the life of certain plants and that of human beings, to assure being made the subject of ridicule. Nevertheless, there are many well-authenticated cases going to show the reality of such an affinity. Persons have been known to fall sick simultaneously with the uprooting of a tree planted upon their natal day, and dying when the tree died. Reversing affairs, it has been known that a tree planted under the same circumstances withered and died simultaneously with the person whose twin brother, so to speak, it was. The former would be called by Mr. Proctor an “effect of the imagination;” the latter a “curious coincidence.”

Max Müller gives a number of such cases in his essay On Manners and Customs. He shows this popular tradition existing in Central America, in India, and Germany. He traces it over nearly all Europe; finds it among the Maori Warriors, in British Guiana, and in Asia. Reviewing Tyler’s Researches into the Early History of Mankind, a work in which are brought together quite a number of such traditions, the great philologist very justly remarks the following: “If it occurred in Indian and German tales only, we might consider it as ancient Aryan property; but when we find it again in Central America, nothing remains but either to admit a later communication between European settlers and native American story-tellers ... or to inquire whether there is not some intelligible and truly human element in this supposed sympathy between the life of flowers and the life of man.”

The present generation of men, who believe in nothing beyond the superficial evidence of their senses, will doubtless reject the very idea of such a sympathetic power existing in plants, animals, and even stones. The caul covering their inner sight allows them to see but that which they cannot well deny. The author of the Asclepian Dialogue furnishes us with a reason for it, that might perhaps fit the present period and account for this epidemic of unbelief. In our century, as then, “there[Pg 247] is a lamentable departure of divinity from man, when nothing worthy of heaven or celestial concerns is heard or believed, and when every divine voice is by a necessary silence dumb.”[411] Or, as the Emperor Julian has it, “the little soul” of the skeptic “is indeed acute, but sees nothing with a vision healthy and sound.”

We are at the bottom of a cycle and evidently in a transitory state. Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. In the sublunary regions, the spheres of the various elements remain eternally in perfect harmony with the divine nature, he says; “but their parts,” owing to a too close proximity to earth, and their commingling with the earthly (which is matter, and therefore the realm of evil), “are sometimes according, and sometimes contrary to (divine) nature.” When those circulations—which Eliphas Levi calls “currents of the astral light” in the universal ether which contains in itself every element, take place in harmony with the divine spirit, our earth and everything pertaining to it enjoys a fertile period. The occult powers of plants, animals, and minerals magically sympathize with the “superior natures,” and the divine soul of man is in perfect intelligence with these “inferior” ones. But during the barren periods, the latter lose their magic sympathy, and the spiritual sight of the majority of mankind is so blinded as to lose every notion of the superior powers of its own divine spirit. We are in a barren period: the eighteenth century, during which the malignant fever of skepticism broke out so irrepressibly, has entailed unbelief as an hereditary disease upon the nineteenth. The divine intellect is veiled in man; his animal brain alone philosophizes.

Formerly, magic was a universal science, entirely in the hands of the sacerdotal savant. Though the focus was jealously guarded in the sanctuaries, its rays illuminated the whole of mankind. Otherwise, how are we to account for the extraordinary identity of “superstitions,” customs, traditions, and even sentences, repeated in popular proverbs so widely scattered from one pole to the other that we find exactly the same ideas among the Tartars and Laplanders as among the southern nations of Europe, the inhabitants of the steppes of Russia, and the aborigines of North and South America? For instance, Tyler shows one of the ancient Pythagorean maxims, “Do not stir the fire with a sword,” as popular among a number of nations which have not the slightest connection with each other. He quotes De Plano Carpini, who found this tradition prevailing among the Tartars so far back as in 1246. A Tartar will not consent for any amount of money to stick a knife into the fire, or touch it with any sharp or pointed instrument, for fear of cutting the “head of the fire.”[Pg 248] The Kamtchadal of North-eastern Asia consider it a great sin so to do. The Sioux Indians of North America dare not touch the fire with either needle, knife, or any sharp instrument. The Kalmucks entertain the same dread; and an Abyssinian would rather bury his bare arms to the elbows in blazing coals than use a knife or axe near them. All these facts Tyler also calls “simply curious coincidences.” Max Müller, however, thinks that they lose much of their force by the fact “of the Pythagorean doctrine being at the bottom of it.”

Every sentence of Pythagoras, like most of the ancient maxims, has a dual signification; and, while it had an occult physical meaning, expressed literally in its words, it embodied a moral precept, which is explained by Iamblichus in his Life of Pythagoras. This “Dig not fire with a sword,” is the ninth symbol in the Protreptics of this Neo-platonist. “This symbol,” he says, “exhorts to prudence.” It shows “the propriety of not opposing sharp words to a man full of fire and wrath—not contending with him. For frequently by uncivil words you will agitate and disturb an ignorant man, and you will suffer yourself.... Herakleitus also testifies to the truth of this symbol. For, he says, ‘It is difficult to fight with anger, for whatever is necessary to be done redeems the soul.’ And this he says truly. For many, by gratifying anger, have changed the condition of their soul, and have made death preferable to life. But by governing the tongue and being quiet, friendship is produced from strife, the fire of anger being extinguished, and you yourself will not appear to be destitute of intellect.”[412]

We have had misgivings sometimes; we have questioned the impartiality of our own judgment, our ability to offer a respectful criticism upon the labors of such giants as some of our modern philosophers—Tyndall, Huxley, Spencer, Carpenter, and a few others. In our immoderate love for the “men of old” the primitive sages—we were always afraid to trespass the boundaries of justice and refuse their dues to those who deserve them. Gradually this natural fear gave way before an unexpected reinforcement. We found out that we were but the feeble echo of public opinion, which, though suppressed, has sometimes found relief in able articles scattered throughout the periodicals of the country. One of such can be found in the National Quarterly Review of December, 1875, entitled “Our Sensational Present-Day Philosophers.” It is a very able article, discussing fearlessly the claims of several of our scientists to new discoveries in regard to the nature of matter, the human soul, the mind, the universe; how the universe came into existence, etc. “The religious world has been much startled,” the author proceeds to say, “and not a[Pg 249] little excited by the utterances of men like Spencer, Tyndall, Huxley, Proctor, and a few others of the same school.” Admitting very cheerfully how much science owes to each of those gentlemen, nevertheless the author “most emphatically” denies that they have made any discoveries at all. There is nothing new in the speculations, even of the most advanced of them; nothing which was not known and taught, in one form or another, thousands of years ago. He does not say that these scientists “put forward their theories as their own discoveries, but they leave the fact to be implied, and the newspapers do the rest.... The public, which has neither time nor the inclination to examine the facts, adopts the faith of the newspapers ... and wonders what will come next! ... The supposed originators of such startling theories are assailed in the newspapers. Sometimes the obnoxious scientists undertake to defend themselves, but we cannot recall a single instance in which they have candidly said, ‘Gentlemen, be not angry with us; we are merely revamping stories which are nearly as old as the mountains.’” This would have been the simple truth; “but even scientists or philosophers,” adds the author, “are not always proof against the weakness of encouraging any notion which they think may secure niches for them among the immortal ones.”[413]

Huxley, Tyndall, and even Spencer have become lately the great oracles, the “infallible popes” on the dogmas of protoplasm, molecules, primordial forms, and atoms. They have reaped more palms and laurels for their great discoveries than Lucretius, Cicero, Plutarch, and Seneca had hairs on their heads. Nevertheless, the works of the latter teem with ideas on the protoplasm, primordial forms, etc., let alone the atoms, which caused Demokritus to be called the atomic philosopher. In the same Review we find this very startling denunciation:

“Who, among the innocent, has not been astonished, even within the last year, at the wonderful results accomplished by oxygen? What an excitement Tyndall and Huxley have created by proclaiming, in their own ingenious, oracular way, just the very doctrines which we have just quoted from Liebig; yet, as early as 1840, Professor Lyon Playfair translated into English the most ‘advanced’ of Baron Liebig’s works.”[414]

“Another recent utterance,” he says, “which startled a large number of innocent and pious persons, is, that every thought we express, or attempt to express, produces a certain wonderful change in the substance of the brain. But, for this and a good deal more of its kind, our philosophers had only to turn to the pages of Baron Liebig. Thus, for instance,[Pg 250] that scientist proclaims: “Physiology has sufficiently decisive grounds for the opinions, that every thought, every sensation is accompanied by a change in the composition of the substance of the brain; that every motion, every manifestation of force is the result of a transformation of the structure or of its substance.[415]

Thus, throughout the sensational lectures of Tyndall, we can trace, almost to a page, the whole of Liebig’s speculations, interlined now and then with the still earlier views of Demokritus and other Pagan philosophers. A potpourri of old hypotheses elevated by the great authority of the day into quasi-demonstrated formulas, and delivered in that pathetic, picturesque, mellow, and thrillingly-eloquent phraseology so pre-eminently his own.

Further, the same reviewer shows us many of the identical ideas and all the material requisite to demonstrate the great discoveries of Tyndall and Huxley, in the works of Dr. Joseph Priestley, author of Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit, and even in Herder’s Philosophy of History.

“Priestley,” adds the author, “was not molested by government, simply because he had no ambition to obtain fame by proclaiming his atheistic views from the house-top. This philosopher ... was the author of from seventy to eighty volumes, and the discoverer of oxygen.” It is in these works that “he puts forward those identical ideas which have been declared so ‘startling,’ ‘bold,’ etc., as the utterances of our present-day philosophers.”

“Our readers,” he proceeds to say, “remember what an excitement has been created by the utterances of some of our modern philosophers as to the origin and nature of ideas, but those utterances, like others that preceded and followed them, contain nothing new.” “An idea,” says Plutarch, “is a being incorporeal, which has no subsistence by itself, but gives figure and form unto shapeless matter, and becomes the cause of its manifestation” (De Placitio Philosophorum).

Verily, no modern atheist, Mr. Huxley included, can outvie Epicurus in materialism; he can but mimic him. And what is his “protoplasm,” but a rechauffé of the speculations of the Hindu Swâbhâvikas or Pantheists, who assert that all things, the gods as well as men and animals, are born from Swâbhâva or their own nature?[416] As to Epicurus, this is what Lucretius makes him say: “The soul, thus produced, must be material, because we trace it issuing from a material source; because it exists, and exists alone in a material system; is nourished by material food; grows with the growth of the body; becomes matured with its maturity; declines with its decay; and hence, whether belonging to man[Pg 251] or brute, must die with its death.” Nevertheless, we would remind the reader that Epicurus is here speaking of the Astral Soul, not of Divine Spirit. Still, if we rightly understand the above, Mr. Huxley’s “mutton-protoplasm” is of a very ancient origin, and can claim for its birthplace, Athens, and for its cradle, the brain of old Epicurus.

Further, still, anxious not to be misunderstood or found guilty of depreciating the labor of any of our scientists, the author closes his essay by remarking, “We merely want to show that, at least, that portion of the public which considers itself intelligent and enlightened should cultivate its memory, or remember the ‘advanced’ thinkers of the past much better than it does. Especially should those do so who, whether from the desk, the rostrum, or the pulpit, undertake to instruct all willing to be instructed by them. There would then be much less groundless apprehension, much less charlatanism, and above all, much less plagiarism, than there is.”[417]

Truly says Cudworth that the greatest ignorance of which our modern wiseacres accuse the ancients is their belief in the soul’s immortality. Like the old skeptic of Greece, our scientists—to use an expression of the same Dr. Cudworth—are afraid that if they admit spirits and apparitions they must admit a God too; and there is nothing too absurd, he adds, for them to suppose, in order to keep out the existence of God. The great body of ancient materialists, skeptical as they now seem to us, thought otherwise, and Epicurus, who rejected the soul’s immortality, believed still in a God, and Demokritus fully conceded the reality of apparitions. The preëxistence and God-like powers of the human spirit were believed in by most all the sages of ancient days. The magic of Babylon and Persia based upon it the doctrine of their machagistia. The Chaldean Oracles, on which Pletho and Psellus have so much commented, constantly expounded and amplified their testimony. Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Epicharmus, Empedocles, Kebes, Euripides, Plato, Euclid, Philo, Boëthius, Virgil, Marcus Cicero, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, Psellus, Synesius, Origen, and, finally, Aristotle himself, far from denying our immortality, support it most emphatically. Like Cardon and Pompanatius, “who were no friends to the soul’s immortality,” as says Henry More, “Aristotle expressly concludes that the rational soul is both a distinct being from the soul of the world, though of the same essence, and that “it does preëxist before it comes into the body.”[418]

Years have rolled away since the Count Joseph De Maistre wrote a sentence which, if appropriate to the Voltairean epoch in which he lived,[Pg 252] applies with still more justice to our period of utter skepticism. “I have heard,” writes this eminent man, “I have heard and read of myriads of good jokes on the ignorance of the ancients, who were always seeing spirits everywhere; methinks that we are a great deal more imbecile than our forefathers, in never perceiving any such now, anywhere.”[419]

[Pg 253]


“Think not my magic wonders wrought by aid
Of Stygian angels summoned up from Hell;
Scorned and accursed by those who have essay’d
Her gloomy Divs and Afrites to compel.
But by perception of the secret powers
Of mineral springs, in nature’s inmost cell,
Of herbs in curtain of her greenest bowers,
And of the moving stars o’er mountain tops and towers.”
Tasso, Canto XIV., xliii.
“Who dares think one thing and another tell
My heart detests him as the gates of Hell!”—Pope.

“If man ceases to exist when he disappears in the grave, you must be compelled to affirm that he is the only creature in existence whom nature or providence has condescended to deceive and cheat by capacities for which there are no available objects.”—Bulwer-Lytton: Strange Story.

The preface of Richard A. Proctor’s latest work on astronomy, entitled Our Place among Infinities, contains the following extraordinary words: “It was their ignorance of the earth’s place among infinities, which led the ancients to regard the heavenly bodies as ruling favorably or adversely the fates of men and nations, and to dedicate the days in sets of seven to the seven planets of their astrological system.”

Mr. Proctor makes two distinct assertions in this sentence: 1. That the ancients were ignorant of the earth’s place among infinities; and 2, That they regarded the heavenly bodies as ruling, favorably or adversely, the fates of men and nations.[420] We are very confident that there is at least good reason to suspect that the ancients were familiar with the movements, emplacement, and mutual relations of the heavenly bodies. The testimony of Plutarch, Professor Draper, and Jowett, are sufficiently explicit. But we would ask Mr. Proctor how it happens, if the ancient astronomers were so ignorant of the law of the birth and death of worlds that, in the fragmentary bits which the hand of time has spared us of ancient lore there should be—albeit couched in obscure language—so much information which the most recent discoveries of science have verified? Beginning with the tenth page of the work under notice, Mr. Proctor[Pg 254] sketches for us the theory of the formation of our earth, and the successive changes through which it passed until it became habitable for man. In vivid colors he depicts the gradual accretion of cosmic matter into gaseous spheres surrounded with “a liquid non-permanent shell;” the condensation of both; the ultimate solidification of the external crust; the slow cooling of the mass; the chemical results following the action of intense heat upon the primitive earthy matter; the formation of soils and their distribution; the change in the constitution of the atmosphere; the appearance of vegetation and animal life; and, finally, the advent of man.

Now, let us turn to the oldest written records left us by the Chaldeans, the Hermetic Book of Numbers,[421] and see what we shall find in the allegorical language of Hermes, Kadmus, or Thuti, the thrice great Trismegistus. “In the beginning of time the great invisible one had his holy hands full of celestial matter which he scattered throughout the infinity; and lo, behold! it became balls of fire and balls of clay; and they scattered like the moving metal[422] into many smaller balls, and began their ceaseless turning; and some of them which were balls of fire became balls of clay; and the balls of clay became balls of fire; and the balls of fire were waiting their time to become balls of clay; and the others envied them and bided their time to become balls of pure divine fire.”

Could any one ask a clearer definition of the cosmic changes which Mr. Proctor so elegantly expounds?

Here we have the distribution of matter throughout space; then its concentration into the spherical form; the separation of smaller spheres from the greater ones; axial rotation; the gradual change of orbs from the incandescent to the earthy consistence; and, finally, the total loss of heat which marks their entrance into the stage of planetary death. The change of the balls of clay into balls of fire would be understood by materialists to indicate some such phenomenon as the sudden ignition of the star in Cassiopeia, A.D. 1572, and the one in Serpentarius, in 1604, which was noted by Kepler. But, do the Chaldeans evince in this expression a profounder philosophy than of our day? Does this change into balls of “pure divine fire” signify a continuous planetary existence,[Pg 255] correspondent with the spirit-life of man, beyond the awful mystery of death? If worlds have, as the astronomers tell us, their periods of embryo, infancy, adolescence, maturity, decadence, and death, may they not, like man, have their continued existence in a sublimated, ethereal, or spiritual form? The magians so affirm. They tell us that the fecund mother Earth is subject to the same laws as every one of her children. At her appointed time she brings forth all created things; in the fulness of her days she is gathered to the tomb of worlds. Her gross, material body slowly parts with its atoms under the inexorable law which demands their new arrangement in other combinations. Her own perfected vivifying spirit obeys the eternal attraction which draws it toward that central spiritual sun from which it was originally evolved, and which we vaguely know under the name of God.

“And the heaven was visible in seven circles, and the planets appeared with all their signs, in star-form, and the stars were divided and numbered with the rulers that were in them, and their revolving course was bounded with the air, and borne with a circular course, through the agency of the divine SPIRIT.”[423]

We challenge any one to indicate a single passage in the works of Hermes which proves him guilty of that crowning absurdity of the Church of Rome which assumed, upon the geocentric theory of astronomy, that the heavenly bodies were made for our use and pleasure, and that it was worth while for the only son of God to descend upon this cosmic mote and die in expiation for our sins! Mr. Proctor tells us of a liquid non-permanent shell of uncongealed matter enclosing a “viscous plastic ocean,” within which “there is another interior solid globe rotating.” We, on our part, turn to the Magia Adamica of Eugenius Philalethes, published in 1650, and at page 12, we find him quoting from Trismegistus in the following terms: “Hermes affirmeth that in the Beginning the earth was a quackmire or quivering kind of jelly, it being nothing else but water congealed by the incubation and heat of the divine spirit; cum adhuc (sayeth he) Terra tremula esset, Lucente sole compacta esto.”

In the same work, Philalethes, speaking in his quaint, symbolical way, says, “The earth is invisible ... on my soul it is so, and which is more, the eye of man never saw the earth, nor can it be seen without art. To make this element invisible, is the greatest secret in magic ... as for this fœculent, gross body upon which we walk, it is a compost, and no earth but it hath earth in it, ... in a word all the elements are visible but one, namely the earth, and when thou hast attained to so much[Pg 256] perfection as to know why God hath placed the earth in abscondito,[424] thou hast an excellent figure whereby to know God Himself, and how He is visible, how invisible.”[425]

Ages before our savants of the nineteenth century came into existence, a wise man of the Orient thus expressed himself, in addressing the invisible Deity: “For thy Almighty Hand, that made the world of formless matter.”[426]

There is much more contained in this language than we are willing to explain, but we will say that the secret is worth the seeking; perhaps in this formless matter, the pre-Adamite earth, is contained a “potency” with which Messrs. Tyndall and Huxley would be glad to acquaint themselves.

[Pg 257]

But to descend from universals to particulars, from the ancient theory of planetary evolution to the evolution of plant and animal life, as opposed to the theory of special creation, what does Mr. Proctor call the following language of Hermes but an anticipation of the modern theory of evolution of species? “When God had filled his powerful hands with those things which are in nature, and in that which compasseth nature, then shutting them close again, he said: ‘Receive from me, O holy earth! that art ordained to be the mother of all, lest thou shouldst want anything;’ when presently opening such hands as it becomes a God to have, he poured down all that was necessary to the constitution of things.” Here we have primeval matter imbued with “the promise and potency of every future form of life,” and the earth declared to be the predestined mother of everything that should thenceforth spring from her bosom.

More definite is the language of Marcus Antoninus in his discourse to himself. “The nature of the universe delights not in anything so much as to alter all things, and present them under another form. This is her conceit to play one game and begin another. Matter is placed before her like a piece of wax and she shapes it to all forms and figures. Now she makes a bird, then out of the bird a beast—now a flower, then a frog, and she is pleased with her own magical performances as men are with their own fancies.”[427]

Before any of our modern teachers thought of evolution, the ancients taught us, through Hermes, that nothing can be abrupt in nature; that she never proceeds by jumps and starts, that everything in her works is slow harmony, and that there is nothing sudden—not even violent death.

The slow development from preëxisting forms was a doctrine with the Rosicrucian Illuminati. The Tres Matres showed Hermes the mysterious progress of their work, before they condescended to reveal themselves to mediæval alchemists. Now, in the Hermetic dialect, these three mothers are the symbol of light, heat, and electricity, or magnetism, the two latter being as convertible as the whole of the forces or agents which have a place assigned them in the modern “Force-correlation.” Synesius mentions books of stone which he found in the temple of Memphis, on which was engraved the following sentence: “One nature delights in another, one nature overcomes another, one nature overrules another, and the whole of them are one.”

The inherent restlessness of matter is embodied in the saying of Hermes: “Action is the life of Phta;” and Orpheus calls nature Πολυμήχανος μάτηρ, “the mother that makes many things,” or the ingenious, the contriving, the inventive mother.

[Pg 258]

Mr. Proctor says: “All that that is upon and within the earth, all vegetable forms and all animal forms, our bodies, our brains, are formed of materials which have been drawn in from those depths of space surrounding us on all sides.” The Hermetists and the later Rosicrucians held that all things visible and invisible were produced by the contention of light with darkness, and that every particle of matter contains within itself a spark of the divine essence—or light, spirit—which, through its tendency to free itself from its entanglement and return to the central source, produced motion in the particles, and from motion forms were born. Says Hargrave Jennings, quoting Robertus di Fluctibus: “Thus all minerals in this spark of life have the rudimentary possibility of plants and growing organisms; thus all plants have rudimentary sensations which might (in the ages) enable them to perfect and transmute into locomotive new creatures, lesser or higher in their grade, or nobler or meaner in their functions; thus all plants, and all vegetation might pass off (by side roads) into more distinguished highways as it were, of independent, completer advance, allowing their original spark of light to expand and thrill with higher and more vivid force, and to urge forward with more abounding, informed purpose, all wrought by planetary influence directed by the unseen spirits (or workers) of the great original architect.”[428]

Light—the first mentioned in Genesis, is termed by the kabalists, Sephira, or the Divine Intelligence, the mother of all the Sephiroth, while the Concealed Wisdom is the father. Light is the first begotten, and the first emanation of the Supreme, and Light is Life, says the evangelist. Both are electricity—the life-principle, the anima mundi, pervading the universe, the electric vivifier of all things. Light is the great Protean magician, and under the Divine Will of the architect, its multifarious, omnipotent waves gave birth to every form as well as to every living being. From its swelling, electric bosom, springs matter and spirit. Within its beams lie the beginnings of all physical and chemical action, and of all cosmic and spiritual phenomena; it vitalizes and disorganizes; it gives life and produces death, and from its primordial point gradually emerged into existence the myriads of worlds, visible and invisible celestial bodies. It was at the ray of this First mother, one in three, that God, according to Plato, “lighted a fire, which we now call the sun,”[429] and, which is not the cause of either light or heat, but merely the focus, or, as we might say, the lens, by which the rays of the primordial light become materialized, are concentrated upon our solar system, and produce all the correlations of forces.

[Pg 259]

So much for the first of Mr. Proctor’s two propositions; now for the second.

The work which we have been noticing, comprises a series of twelve essays, of which the last is entitled Thoughts on Astrology. The author treats the subject with so much more consideration than is the custom of men of his class, that it is evident he has given it thoughtful attention. In fact, he goes so far as to say that, “If we consider the matter aright, we must concede ... that of all the errors into which men have fallen in their desire to penetrate into futurity, astrology is the most respectable, we may even say the most reasonable.”[430]

He admits that “The heavenly bodies do rule the fates of men and nations in the most unmistakable manner, seeing that without the controlling and beneficent influences of the chief among those orbs—the sun—every living creature on the earth must perish.“[431] He admits, also, the influence of the moon, and sees nothing strange in the ancients reasoning by analogy, that if two among these heavenly bodies were thus potent in terrestrial influences, it was ” ... natural that the other moving bodies known to the ancients, should be thought to possess also their special powers.”[432] Indeed, the professor sees nothing unreasonable in their supposition that the influences exerted by the slower moving planets “might be even more potent than those of the sun himself.” Mr. Proctor thinks that the system of astrology “was formed gradually and perhaps tentatively.” Some influences may have been inferred from observed events, the fate of this or that king or chief, guiding astrologers in assigning particular influences to such planetary aspects as were presented at the time of his nativity. Others may have been invented, and afterward have found general acceptance, because confirmed by some curious coincidences.

A witty joke may sound very prettily, even in a learned treatise, and the word “coincidence” may be applied to anything we are unwilling to accept. But a sophism is not a truism; still less is it a mathematical demonstration, which alone ought to serve as a beacon—to astronomers, at least. Astrology is a science as infallible as astronomy itself, with the condition, however, that its interpreters must be equally infallible; and it is this condition, sine qua non, so very difficult of realization, that has always proved a stumbling-block to both. Astrology is to exact astronomy what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter, and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit. It is the old struggle between the Platonic and Aristotelean schools, and it is not in our century of Sadducean[Pg 260] skepticism that the former will prevail over the latter. Mr. Proctor, in his professional capacity, is like the uncharitable person of the Sermon on the Mount, who is ever ready to attract public attention to the mote in his despised neighbor’s eye, and overlook the beam in his own. Were we to record the failures and ridiculous blunders of astronomers, we are afraid they would outnumber by far those of the astrologers. Present events fully vindicate Nostradamus, who has been so much ridiculed by our skeptics. In an old book of prophecies, published in the fifteenth century (an edition of 1453), we read the following, among other astrological predictions:[433]

“In twice two hundred years, the Bear
The Crescent will assail;
But if the Cock and Bull unite,
The Bear will not prevail.
In twice ten years again—
Let Islam know and fear—
The Cross shall stand, the Crescent wane,
Dissolve, and disappear.”

In just twice two hundred years from the date of that prophecy, we had the Crimean war, during which the alliance of the Gallic Cock and English Bull interfered with the political designs of the Russian Bear. In 1856 the war was ended, and Turkey, or the Crescent, closely escaped destruction. In the present year (1876) the most unexpected events of a political character have just taken place, and twice ten years have elapsed since peace was proclaimed. Everything seems to bid fair for a fulfilment of the old prophecy; the future will tell whether the Moslem Crescent, which seems, indeed, to be waning, will irrevocably “wane, dissolve, and disappear,” as the outcome of the present troubles.

In explaining away the heterodox facts which he appears to have encountered in his pursuit of knowledge, Mr. Proctor is obliged more than once in his work, to fall back upon these “curious coincidences.” One of the most curious of these is stated by him in a foot-note (page 301) as follows: “I do not here dwell on the curious coincidence—if, indeed, Chaldean astrologers had not discovered the ring of Saturn—that they showed the god corresponding within a ring and triple.... Very moderate optical knowledge—such, indeed, as we may fairly infer from the[Pg 261] presence of optical instruments among Assyrian remains—might have led to the discovery of Saturnal rings and Jupiter’s moons.... Bel, the Assyrian Jupiter,” he adds, “was represented sometimes with four star-tipped wings. But it is possible that these are mere coincidences.

In short, Mr. Proctor’s theory of coincidence becomes finally more suggestive of miracle than the facts themselves. For coincidences our friends the skeptics appear to have an unappeasable appetite. We have brought sufficient testimony in the preceding chapter to show that the ancients must have used as good optical instruments as we have now. Were the instruments in possession of Nebuchadnezzar of such moderate power, and the knowledge of his astronomers so very contemptible, when, according to Rawlinson’s reading of the tiles, the Birs-Nimrud, or temple of Borsippa, had seven stages, symbolical of the concentric circles of the seven spheres, each built of tiles and metals to correspond with the color of the ruling planet of the sphere typified? Is it a coincidence again, that they should have appropriated to each planet the color which our latest telescopic discoveries show to be the real one?[434] Or is it again a coincidence, that Plato should have indicated in the Timæus his knowledge of the indestructibility of matter, of conservation of energy, and correlation of forces? “The latest word of modern philosophy,” says Jowett, “is continuity and development, but to Plato this is the beginning and foundation of science.”[435]

The radical element of the oldest religions was essentially sabaistic; and we maintain that their myths and allegories—if once correctly and thoroughly interpreted, will dovetail with the most exact astronomical notions of our day. We will say more; there is hardly a scientific law—whether pertaining to physical astronomy or physical geography—that could not be easily pointed out in the ingenious combinations of their fables. They allegorized the most important as well as the most trifling causes of the celestial motions; the nature of every phenomenon was personified; and in the mythical biographies of the Olympic gods and goddesses, one well acquainted with the latest principles of physics and chemistry can find their causes, inter-agencies, and mutual relations embodied in the deportment and course of action of the fickle deities. The atmospheric electricity in its neutral and latent states is embodied usually in demi-gods and goddesses, whose scene of action is more limited to earth and who, in their occasional flights to the higher deific regions, display their electric tempers always in strict proportion with the increase of distance from the earth’s surface: the weapons of Hercules and Thor were[Pg 262] never more mortal than when the gods soared into the clouds. We must bear in mind that before the time when the Olympian Jupiter was anthropomorphized by the genius of Pheidias into the Omnipotent God, the Maximus, the God of gods, and thus abandoned to the adoration of the multitudes, in the earliest and abstruse science of symbology he embodied in his person and attributes the whole of the cosmic forces. The Myth was less metaphysical and complicated, but more truly eloquent as an expression of natural philosophy. Zeus, the male element of the creation with Chthonia—Vesta (the earth), and Metis (the water) the first of the Oceanides (the feminine principles)—was viewed according to Porphyry and Proclus as the zōŏn-ek-zōōn, the chief of living beings. In the Orphic theology, the oldest of all, metaphysically speaking, he represented both the potentia and actus, the unrevealed cause and the Demiurg, or the active creator as an emanation from the invisible potency. In the latter demiurgic capacity, in conjunction with his consorts, we find in him all the mightiest agents of cosmic evolution—chemical affinity, atmospheric electricity, attraction, and repulsion.

It is in following his representations in this physical qualification that we discover how well acquainted were the ancients with all the doctrines of physical science in their modern development. Later, in the Pythagorean speculations, Zeus became the metaphysical trinity; the monad evolving from its invisible SELF the active cause, effect, and intelligent will, the whole forming the Tetractis. Still later we find the earlier Neo-platonists leaving the primal monad aside, on the ground of its utter incomprehensibleness to human intellect, speculating merely on the demiurgic triad of this deity as visible and intelligible in its effects; and thus the metaphysical continuation by Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, and other philosophers of this view of Zeus the father, Zeus Poseidon, or dunamis, the son and power, and the spirit or nous. This triad was also accepted as a whole by the Irenæic school of the second century; the more substantial difference between the doctrines of the Neo-platonists and the Christians being merely the forcible amalgamation by the latter of the incomprehensible monad with its actualized creative trinity.

In his astronomical aspect Zeus-Dionysus has his origin in the zodiac, the ancient solar year. In Libya he assumed the form of a ram, and is identical with the Egyptian Amun, who begat Osiris, the taurian god. Osiris is also a personified emanation of the Father-Sun, and himself the Sun in Taurus. The Parent-Sun being the Sun in Aries. As the latter, Jupiter, is in the guise of a ram, and as Jupiter-Dionysus or Jupiter-Osiris, he is the bull. This animal is, as it is well known, the symbol of the creative power; moreover the Kabala explains, through the medium of one of[Pg 263] its chief expounders, Simon-Ben-Iochai,[436] the origin of this strange worship of the bulls and cows. It is neither Darwin nor Huxley—the founders of the doctrine of evolution and its necessary complement, the transformation of species—that can find anything against the rationality of this symbol, except, perhaps, a natural feeling of uneasiness upon finding that they were preceded by the ancients even in this particular modern discovery. Elsewhere, we will give the doctrine of the kabalists as taught by Simon-Ben-Iochai.

It may be easily proved that from time immemorial Saturn or Kronos, whose ring, most positively, was discovered by the Chaldean astrologers, and whose symbolism is no “coincidence,” was considered the father of Zeus, before the latter became himself the father of all the gods, and was the highest deity. He was the Bel or Baal of the Chaldeans, and originally imported among them by the Akkadians. Rawlinson insists that the latter came from Armenia; but if so, how can we account for the fact that Bel is but a Babylonian personification of the Hindu Siva, or Bala, the fire-god, the omnipotent creative, and at the same time, destroying Deity, in many senses higher than Brahma himself?

“Zeus,” says an Orphic hymn, “is the first and the last, the head, and the extremities; from him have proceeded all things. He is a man and an immortal nymph (male and female element); the soul of all things; and the principal motor in fire; he is the sun and the moon; the fountain of the ocean; the demiurgus of the universe; one power, one God; the mighty creator and governor of the cosmos. Everything, fire, water, earth, ether, night, the heavens, Metis, the primeval architecturess (the Sophia of the Gnostics, and the Sephira of the Kabalists), the beautiful Eros, Cupid, all is included within the vast dimensions of his glorious body!”[437]

This short hymn of laudation contains within itself the groundwork of every mythopœic conception. The imagination of the ancients proved as boundless as the visible manifestations of the Deity itself which afforded them the themes for their allegories. Still the latter, exuberant as they seem, never departed from the two principal ideas which may be ever found running parallel in their sacred imagery; a strict adherence to the physical as well as moral or spiritual aspect of natural law. Their metaphysical researches never clashed with scientific truths, and their religions may be truly termed the psycho-physiological creeds of the priests and scientists, who built them on the traditions of the infant-world, such as the unsophisticated minds of the primitive races received them, and on their own experimental knowledge, hoary with all the wisdom of the intervening ages.

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As the sun, what better image could be found for Jupiter emitting his golden rays than to personify this emanation in Diana, the all-illuminating virgin Artemis, whose oldest name was Diktynna, literally the emitted ray, from the word dikein. The moon is non-luminous, and it shines only by the reflected light of the sun; hence, the imagery of his daughter, the goddess of the moon, and herself, Luna, Astartè, or Diana. As the Cretan Diktynna, she wears a wreath made of the magic plant diktamnon, or dictamnus, the evergreen shrub whose contact is said, at the same time, to develop somnambulism and cure finally of it; and, as Eilithyia and Juno Pronuba, she is the goddess who presides over births; she is an Æsculapian deity, and the use of the dictamnus-wreath, in association with the moon, shows once more the profound observation of the ancients. This plant is known in botany as possessing strongly sedative properties; it grows on Mount Dicte, a Cretan mountain, in great abundance; on the other hand, the moon, according to the best authorities on animal magnetism, acts upon the juices and ganglionic system, or nerve-cells, the seat from whence proceed all the nerve-fibres which play such a prominent part in mesmerization. During childbirth the Cretan women were covered with this plant, and its roots were administered as best calculated to soothe acute pain, and allay the irritability so dangerous at this period. They were placed, moreover, within the precincts of the temple sacred to the goddess, and, if possible, under the direct rays of the resplendent daughter of Jupiter—the bright and warm Eastern moon.

The Hindu Brahmans and Buddhists have complicated theories on the influence of the sun and moon (the male and female elements), as containing the negative and positive principles, the opposites of the magnetic polarity. “The influence of the moon on women is well known,” write all the old authors on magnetism; and Ennemoser, as well as Du Potet, confirm the theories of the Hindu seers in every particular.

The marked respect paid by the Buddhists to the sapphire-stone—which was also sacred to Luna, in every other country—may be found based on something more scientifically exact than a mere groundless superstition. They ascribed to it a sacred magical power, which every student of psychological mesmerism will readily understand, for its polished and deep-blue surface produces extraordinary somnambulic phenomena. The varied influence of the prismatic colors on the growth of vegetation, and especially that of the “blue ray,” has been recognized but recently. The Academicians quarrelled over the unequal heating power of the prismatic rays until a series of experimental demonstrations by General Pleasonton, proved that under the blue ray, the most electric of all, animal and vegetable growth was increased to a magical[Pg 265] proportion. Thus Amoretti’s investigations of the electric polarity of precious stones show that the diamond, the garnet, the amethyst, are -E., while the sapphire is +E.[438] Thus, we are enabled to show that the latest experiments of science only corroborate that which was known to the Hindu sages before any of the modern academies were founded. An old Hindu legend says that Brahma-Prajapâti, having fallen in love with his own daughter, Ushâs (Heaven, sometimes the Dawn also), assumed the form of a buck (ris’ya) and Ushâs that of a female deer (rôhit) and thus committed the first sin.[439] Upon seeing such a desecration, the gods felt so terrified, that uniting their most fearful-looking bodies—each god possessing as many bodies as he desires—they produced Bhûtavan (the spirit of evil), who was created by them on purpose to destroy the incarnation of the first sin committed by the Brahma himself. Upon seeing this, Brahma-Hiranyagarbha[440] repented bitterly and began repeating the Mantras, or prayers of purification, and, in his grief, dropped on earth a tear, the hottest that ever fell from an eye; and from it was formed the first sapphire.

This half-sacred, half-popular legend shows that the Hindus knew which was the most electric of all the prismatic colors; moreover, the particular influence of the sapphire-stone was as well defined as that of all the other minerals. Orpheus teaches how it is possible to affect a whole audience by means of a lodestone; Pythagoras pays a particular attention to the color and nature of precious stones; while Apollonius of Tyana imparts to his disciples the secret virtues of each, and changes his jewelled rings daily, using a particular stone for every day of the month and according to the laws of judicial astrology. The Buddhists assert that the sapphire produces peace of mind, equanimity, and chases all evil thoughts by establishing a healthy circulation in man. So does an electric battery, with its well-directed fluid, say our electricians. “The sapphire,” say the Buddhists, “will open barred doors and dwellings (for the spirit of man); it produces a desire for prayer, and brings with it more peace than any other gem; but he who would wear it must lead a pure and holy life.”[441]

Diana-Luna is the daughter of Zeus by Proserpina, who represents the Earth in her active labor, and, according to Hesiod, as Diana[Pg 266] Eilythia-Lucina she is Juno’s daughter. But Juno, devoured by Kronos or Saturn, and restored back to life by the Oceanid Metis, is also known as the Earth. Saturn, as the evolution of Time, swallows the earth in one of the ante-historical cataclysms, and it is only when Metis (the waters) by retreating in her many beds, frees the continent, that Juno is said to be restored to her first shape. The idea is expressed in the 9th and 10th verses of the first chapter of Genesis. In the frequent matrimonial quarrels between Juno and Jupiter, Diana is always represented as turning her back on her mother and smiling upon her father, though she chides him for his numerous frolics. The Thessalian magicians are said to have been obliged, during such eclipses, to draw her attention to the earth by the power of their spells and incantations, and the Babylonian astrologers and magi never desisted in their spells until they brought about a reconciliation between the irritated couple, after which Juno “radiantly smiled on the bright goddess” Diana, who, encircling her brow with her crescent, returned to her hunting-place in the mountains.

It seems to us that the fable illustrates the different phases of the moon. We, the inhabitants of the earth, never see but one-half of our bright satellite, who thus turns her back to her mother Juno. The sun, the moon, and the earth are constantly changing positions with relation to each other. With the new moon there is constantly a change of weather; and sometimes the wind and storms may well suggest a quarrel between the sun and earth, especially when the former is concealed by grumbling thunder-clouds. Furthermore, the new moon, when her dark side is turned toward us, is invisible; and it is only after a reconciliation between the sun and the earth, that a bright crescent becomes visible on the side nearest to the sun, though this time Luna is not illuminated by sunlight directly received, but by sunlight reflected from the earth to the moon, and by her reflected back to us. Hence, the Chaldean astrologers and the magicians of Thessaly, who probably watched and determined as accurately as a Babinet the course of the celestial bodies, were said by their enchantments to force the moon to descend on earth, i.e., to show her crescent, which she could do but after receiving the “radiant smile” from her mother-earth, who put it on after the conjugal reconciliation. Diana-Luna, having adorned her head with her crescent, returns back to hunt in her mountains.

As to calling in question the intrinsic knowledge of the ancients on the ground of their “superstitious deductions from natural phenomena,” it is as appropriate as it would be if, five hundred years hence, our descendents should regard the pupils of Professor Balfour Stewart as ancient ignoramuses, and himself a shallow philosopher. If modern science, in the person of this gentleman, can condescend to make[Pg 267] experiments to determine whether the appearance of the spots on the sun’s surface is in any way connected with the potatoe disease, and finds it is; and that, moreover, “the earth is very seriously affected by what takes place in the sun,”[442] why should the ancient astrologers be held up as either fools or arrant knaves? There is the same relation between natural and judicial or judiciary astrology, as between physiology and psychology, the physical and the moral. If in later centuries these sciences were degraded into charlatanry by some money-making impostors, is it just to extend the accusation to those mighty men of old who, by their persevering studies and holy lives, bestowed an immortal name upon Chaldea and Babylonia? Surely those who are now found to have made correct astronomical observations ranging back to “within 100 years from the flood,” from the top observatory of the “cloud-encompassed Bel,” as Prof. Draper has it, can hardly be considered impostors. If their mode of impressing upon the popular minds the great astronomical truths differed from the “system of education” of our present century and appears ridiculous to some, the question still remains unanswered: which of the two systems was the best? With them science went hand in hand with religion, and the idea of God was inseparable from that of his works. And while in the present century there is not one person out of ten thousand who knows, if he ever knew the fact at all, that the planet Uranus is next to Saturn, and revolves about the sun in eighty-four years; and that Saturn is next to Jupiter, and takes twenty-nine and a half years to make one complete revolution in its orbit; while Jupiter performs his revolution in twelve years; the uneducated masses of Babylon and Greece, having impressed on their minds that Uranus was the father of Saturn, and Saturn that of Jupiter, considering them furthermore deities as well as all their satellites and attendants, we may perhaps infer from it, that while Europeans only discovered Uranus in 1781, a curious coincidence is to be noticed in the above myths.

We have but to open the most common book on astrology, and compare the descriptions embraced in the Fable of the Twelve Houses with the most modern discoveries of science as to the nature of the planets and the elements in each star, to see that without any spectroscope the ancients were perfectly well acquainted with the same. Unless the fact is again regarded as “a coincidence,” we can learn, to a certain extent, of the degree of the solar heat, light, and nature of the planets by simply studying their symbolic representations in the Olympic gods, and the twelve signs of the zodiac, to each of which in astrology is attributed a particular quality. If the goddesses of our own planet vary in no particular[Pg 268] from other gods and goddesses, but all have a like physical nature, does not this imply that the sentinels who watched from the top of Bel’s tower, by day as well as by night, holding communion with the euhemerized deities, had remarked, before ourselves, the physical unity of the universe and the fact that the planets above are made of precisely the same chemical elements as our own. The sun in Aries, Jupiter, is shown in astrology as a masculine, diurnal, cardinal, equinoctial, easterly sign, hot and dry, and answers perfectly to the character attributed to the fickle “Father of the gods.” When angry Zeus-Akrios snatches from his fiery belt the thunderbolts which he hurls forth from heaven, he rends the clouds and descends as Jupiter Pluvius in torrents of rain. He is the greatest and highest of gods, and his movements are as rapid as lightning itself. The planet Jupiter is known to revolve on its axis so rapidly that the point of its equator turns at the rate of 450 miles a minute. An immense excess of centrifugal force at the equator is believed to have caused the planet to become extremely flattened at the poles; and in Crete the personified god Jupiter was represented without ears. The planet Jupiter’s disk is crossed by dark belts; varying in breadth, they appear to be connected with its rotation on its axis, and are produced by disturbances in its atmosphere. The face of Father Zeus, says Hesiod, became spotted with rage when he beheld the Titans ready to rebel.

In Mr. Proctor’s book, astronomers seem especially doomed by Providence to encounter all kinds of curious “coincidences,” for he gives us many cases out of the “multitude,” and even of the “thousands of facts [sic].” To this list we may add the army of Egyptologists and archæologists who of late have been the chosen pets of the capricious Dame Chance, who, moreover, generally selects “well-to-do Arabs” and other Eastern gentlemen, to play the part of benevolent genii to Oriental scholars in difficulties. Professor Ebers is one of the latest favored ones. It is a well-known fact, that whenever Champollion needed important links, he fell in with them in the most various and unexpected ways.

Voltaire, the greatest of “infidels” of the eighteenth century, used to say, that if there were no God, people would have to invent one. Volney, another “materialist,” nowhere throughout his numerous writings denies the existence of God. On the contrary, he plainly asserts several times that the universe is the work of the “All-wise,” and is convinced that there is a Supreme Agent, a universal and identical Artificer, designated by the name of God.[443] Voltaire becomes, toward the end of his life, Pythagorical, and concludes by saying: “I have consumed forty[Pg 269] years of my pilgrimage ... seeking the philosopher’s stone called truth. I have consulted all the adepts of antiquity, Epicurus and Augustine, Plato and Malebranche, and I still remain in ignorance.... All that I have been able to obtain by comparing and combining the system of Plato, of the tutor of Alexander, Pythagoras, and the Oriental, is this: Chance is a word void of sense. The world is arranged according to mathematical laws.”[444]

It is pertinent for us to suggest that Mr. Proctor’s stumbling-block is that which trips the feet of all materialistic scientists, whose views he but repeats; he confounds the physical and spiritual operations of nature. His very theory of the probable inductive reasoning of the ancients as to the subtile influences of the more remote planets, by comparison with the familiar and potent effects of the sun and moon upon our earth, shows the drift of his mind. Because science affirms that the sun imparts physical heat and light to us, and the moon affects the tides, he thinks that the ancients must have regarded the other heavenly bodies as exerting the same kind of influence upon us physically, and indirectly upon our fortunes.[445] And here we must permit ourselves a digression.

How the ancients regarded the heavenly bodies is very hard to determine, for one unacquainted with the esoteric explanation of their doctrines. While philology and comparative theology have begun the arduous work of analysis, they have as yet arrived at meagre results. The allegorical form of speech has often led our commentators so far astray, that they have confounded causes with effects, and vice versa. In the baffling phenomenon of force-correlation, even our greatest scientists would find it very hard to explain which of these forces is the cause, and which the effect, since each may be both by turns, and convertible. Thus, if we should inquire of the physicists, “Is it light which generates heat, or the latter which produces light?” we would in all probability be answered that it is certainly light which creates heat. Very well; but how? did the great Artificer first produce light, or did He first construct the sun, which is said to be the sole dispenser of light, and, consequently, heat? These questions may appear at first glance indicative of ignorance; but, perhaps, if we ponder them deeply, they will assume another appearance. In Genesis, the “Lord” first creates light, and three days and three nights are alleged to pass away before He creates the sun, the moon, and the stars. This gross blunder against exact science has created much merriment among materialists. And they certainly would be warranted in laughing, if their doctrine that our light and heat are[Pg 270] derived from the sun were unassailable. Until recently, nothing has happened to upset this theory, which, for lack of a better one, according to the expression of a preacher, “reigns sovereign in the Empire of Hypothesis.” The ancient sun-worshippers regarded the Great Spirit as a nature-god, identical with nature, and the sun as the deity, “in whom the Lord of life dwells.” Gama is the sun, according to the Hindu theology, and “The sun is the source of the souls and of all life.”[446] Agni, the “Divine Fire,” the deity of the Hindu, is the sun,[447] for the fire and sun are the same. Ormazd is light, the Sun-God, or the Life-giver. In the Hindu philosophy, “The souls issue from the soul of the world, and return to it as sparks to the fire.”[448] But, in another place, it is said that “The Sun is the soul of all things; all has proceeded out of it, and will return to it,”[449] which shows that the sun is meant allegorically here, and refers to the central, invisible sun, GOD, whose first manifestation was Sephira, the emanation of En-Soph—Light, in short.

“And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it,” says Ezekiel (i. 4, 22, etc.), “ ... and the likeness of a throne ... and as the appearance of a man above upon it ... and I saw as it were the appearance of fire and it had brightness round about it.” And Daniel speaks of the “ancient of days,” the kabalistic En-Soph, whose throne was “the fiery flame, his wheels burning fire.... A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him.”[450] Like the Pagan Saturn, who had his castle of flame in the seventh heaven, the Jewish Jehovah had his “castle of fire over the seventh heavens.”[451]

If the limited space of the present work would permit we might easily show that none of the ancients, the sun-worshippers included, regarded our visible sun otherwise than as an emblem of their metaphysical invisible central sun-god. Moreover, they did not believe what our modern science teaches us, namely, that light and heat proceed from our sun, and that it is this planet which imparts all life to our visible nature. “His radiance is undecaying,” says the Rig-Veda, “the intensely-shining, all-pervading, unceasing, undecaying rays of Agni desist not, neither night nor day.” This evidently related to the spiritual, central sun, whose rays are all-pervading and unceasing, the eternal and boundless life-giver. He the Point; the centre (which is everywhere) of the circle (which is nowhere), the ethereal, spiritual fire, the soul and spirit of the all-pervading, mysterious ether; the despair and puzzle of the materialist, who will some day find that that which causes the numberless cosmic[Pg 271] forces to manifest themselves in eternal correlation is but a divine electricity, or rather galvanism, and that the sun is but one of the myriad magnets disseminated through space—a reflector—as General Pleasonton has it. That the sun has no more heat in it than the moon or the space-crowding host of sparkling stars. That there is no gravitation in the Newtonian sense,[452] but only magnetic attraction and repulsion; and that it is by their magnetism that the planets of the solar system have their motions regulated in their respective orbits by the still more powerful magnetism of the sun, not by their weight or gravitation. This and much more they may learn; but, until then we must be content with being merely laughed at, instead of being burned alive for impiety, or shut up in an insane asylum.

The laws of Manu are the doctrines of Plato, Philo, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, and of the Kabala. The esoterism of every religion may be solved by the latter. The kabalistic doctrine of the allegorical Father and Son, or Πατηρ and Λογος is identical with the groundwork of Buddhism. Moses could not reveal to the multitude the sublime secrets of religious speculation, nor the cosmogony of the universe; the whole resting upon the Hindu Illusion, a clever mask veiling the Sanctum Sanctorum, and which has misled so many theological commentators.[453]

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The kabalistic heresies receive an unexpected support in the heterodox theories of General Pleasonton. According to his opinions (which he supports on far more unimpeachable facts than orthodox scientists theirs) the space between the sun and the earth must be filled with a material medium, which, so far as we can judge from his description, answers to our kabalistic astral light. The passage of light through this must produce enormous friction. Friction generates electricity, and it is this electricity and its correlative magnetism which forms those tremendous forces of nature that produce in, on, and about our planet the various changes which we everywhere encounter. He proves that terrestrial heat cannot be directly derived from the sun, for heat ascends. The force by which heat is effected is a repellent one, he says, and as it is associated with positive electricity, it is attracted to the upper atmosphere by its negative electricity, always associated with cold, which is opposed to positive electricity. He strengthens his position by showing that the earth, which when covered with snow cannot be affected by the sun’s rays, is warmest where the snow is deepest. This he explains upon the theory that the radiation of heat from the interior of the earth, positively electrified, meeting at the surface of the earth with the snow in contact with it, negatively electrified, produces the heat.

Thus he shows that it is not at all to the sun that we are indebted for light and heat; that light is a creation sui generis, which sprung into existence at the instant when the Deity willed, and uttered the fiat: “Let there be light;” and that it is this independent material agent which produces heat by friction, on account of its enormous and incessant velocity. In short, it is the first kabalistic emanation to which General Pleasonton introduces us, that Sephira or divine Intelligence (the female principle), which, in unity with En-Soph, or divine wisdom (male principle) produced every thing visible and invisible. He laughs at the current theory of the incandescence of the sun and its gaseous substance. The reflection from the photosphere of the sun, he says, passing through planetary and stellar spaces, must have thus created a vast amount of electricity and magnetism. Electricity, by the union of its opposite polarities, evolves heat and imparts magnetism to all substances capable of receiving it. The sun, planets, stars, and nebulæ are all magnets, etc.

If this courageous gentleman should prove his case, future generations will have but little disposition to laugh at Paracelsus and his sidereal or astral light, and at his doctrine of the magnetic influence exercised by[Pg 273] the stars and planets upon every living creature, plant, or mineral of our globe. Moreover, if the Pleasonton hypothesis is established, the transcendent glory of Professor Tyndall will be rather obscured. According to public opinion, the General makes a terrible onslaught on the learned physicist, for attributing to the sun calorific effects experienced by him in an Alpine ramble, that were simply due to his own vital electricity.[454]

The prevalence of such revolutionary ideas in science, embolden us to ask the representatives of science whether they can explain why the tides follow the moon in her circling motion? The fact is, they cannot demonstrate even so familiar a phenomenon as this, one that has no mystery for even the neophytes in alchemy and magic. We would also like to learn whether they are equally incapable of telling us why the moon’s rays are so poisonous, even fatal, to some organisms; why in some parts of Africa and India a person sleeping in the moonlight is often made insane; why the crises of certain diseases correspond with lunar changes; why somnambulists are more affected at her full; and why gardeners, farmers, and woodmen cling so tenaciously to the idea that vegetation is affected by lunar influences? Several of the mimosæ alternately open and close their petals as the full moon emerges from or is obscured by clouds. And the Hindus of Travancore have a popular but extremely suggestive proverb which says: “Soft words are better than harsh; the sea is attracted by the cool moon and not by the hot sun.” Perhaps the one man or the many men who launched this proverb on the world knew more about the cause of such attraction of the waters by the moon than we do. Thus if science cannot explain the cause of this physical influence, what can she know of the moral and occult influences that may be exercised by the celestial bodies on men and their destiny; and why contradict that which it is impossible for her to prove false? If certain aspects of the moon effect tangible results so familiar in the experience of men throughout all time, what violence are we doing to logic in assuming the possibility that a certain combination of sidereal influences may also be more or less potential?

If the reader will recall what is said by the learned authors of the[Pg 274] Unseen Universe, as to the positive effect produced upon the universal ether by so small a cause as the evolution of thought in a single human brain, how reasonable will it not appear that the terrific impulses imparted to this common medium by the sweep of the myriad blazing orbs that are rushing through “the interstellar depths,” should affect us and the earth upon which we live, in a powerful degree? If astronomers cannot explain to us the occult law by which the drifting particles of cosmic matter aggregate into worlds, and then take their places in the majestic procession which is ceaselessly moving around some central point of attraction, how can any one assume to say what mystic influences may or may not be darting through space and affecting the issues of life upon this and other planets? Almost nothing is known of the laws of magnetism and the other imponderable agents; almost nothing of their effects upon our bodies and minds; even that which is known and moreover perfectly demonstrated, is attributed to chance, and curious coincidences. But we do know, by these coincidences,[455] that “there are periods when certain diseases, propensities, fortunes, and misfortunes of humanity are more rife than at others.” There are times of epidemic in moral and physical affairs. In one epoch “the spirit of religious controversy will arouse the most ferocious passions of which human nature is susceptible, provoking mutual persecution, bloodshed, and wars; at another, an epidemic of resistance to constituted authority will spread over half the world (as in the year 1848), rapid and simultaneous as the most virulent bodily disorder.”

Again, the collective character of mental phenomena is illustrated by an anomalous psychological condition invading and dominating over thousands upon thousands, depriving them of everything but automatic action, and giving rise to the popular opinion of demoniacal possession, an opinion in some sense justified by the satanic passions, emotions, and acts which accompany the condition. At one period, the aggregate tendency is to retirement and contemplation; hence, the countless votaries of monachism and anchoretism; at another the mania is directed toward action, having for its proposed end some utopian scheme, equally impracticable and useless; hence, the myriads who have forsaken their kindred, their homes, and their country, to seek a land whose stones were gold, or to wage exterminating war for the possession of worthless cities and trackless deserts.[456]

[Pg 275]

The author from whom the above is quoted says that “the seeds of vice and crime appear to be sown under the surface of society, and to spring up and bring forth fruit with appalling rapidity and paralyzing succession.”

In the presence of these striking phenomena science stands speechless; she does not even attempt to conjecture as to their cause, and naturally, for she has not yet learned to look outside of this ball of dirt upon which we live, and its heavy atmosphere, for the hidden influences which are affecting us day by day, and even minute by minute. But the ancients, whose “ignorance” is assumed by Mr. Proctor, fully realized the fact that the reciprocal relations between the planetary bodies is as perfect as those between the corpuscles of the blood, which float in a common fluid; and that each one is affected by the combined influences of all the rest, as each in its turn affects each of the others. As the planets differ in size, distance, and activity, so differ in intensity their impulses upon the ether or astral light, and the magnetic and other subtile forces radiated by them in certain aspects of the heavens. Music is the combination and modulation of sounds, and sound is the effect produced by the vibration of the ether. Now, if the impulses communicated to the ether by the different planets may be likened to the tones produced by the different notes of a musical instrument, it is not difficult to conceive that the Pythagorean “music of the spheres” is something more than a mere fancy, and that certain planetary aspects may imply disturbances in the ether of our planet, and certain others rest and harmony. Certain kinds of music throw us into frenzy; some exalt the soul to religious aspirations. In fine, there is scarcely a human creation which does not respond to certain vibrations of the atmosphere. It is the same with colors; some excite us, some soothe and please. The nun clothes herself in black to typify the despondency of a faith crushed under the sense of original sin; the bride robes herself in white; red inflames the anger of certain animals. If we and the animals are affected by vibrations acting upon a very minute scale, why may we not be influenced in the mass by vibrations acting upon a grand scale as the effect of combined stellar influences?

“We know,” says Dr. Elam, “that certain pathological conditions have a tendency to become epidemic, influenced by causes not yet investigated.... We see how strong is the tendency of opinion once promulgated to run into an epidemic form—no opinion, no delusion, is too absurd to assume this collective character. We observe, also, how remarkably the same ideas reproduce themselves and reappear in successive ages; ... no crime is too horrible to become popular, homicide, infanticide, suicide, poisoning, or any other diabolical human conception.[Pg 276] ... In epidemics, the cause of the rapid spread at that particular period remains a mystery!”

These few lines contain an undeniable psychological fact, sketched with a masterly pen, and at the same time a half-confession of utter ignorance—“Causes not yet investigated.” Why not be honest and add at once, “impossible to investigate with present scientific methods?”

Noticing an epidemic of incendiarism, Dr. Elam quotes from the Annales d’Hygiene Publique the following cases: “A girl about seventeen years of age was arrested on suspicion ... she confessed that twice she had set fire to dwellings by instinct, by irresistible necessity.... A boy about eighteen committed many acts of this nature. He was not moved by any passion, but the bursting-out of the flames excited a profoundly pleasing emotion.”

Who but has noticed in the columns of the daily press similar incidents? They meet the eye constantly. In cases of murder, of every description, and of other crimes of a diabolical character, the act is attributed, in nine cases out of ten, by the offenders themselves, to irresistible obsessions. “Something whispered constantly in my ear.... Somebody was incessantly pushing and leading me on.” Such are the too-frequent confessions of the criminals. Physicians attribute them to hallucinations of disordered brains, and call the homicidal impulse temporary lunacy. But is lunacy itself well understood by any psychologist? Has its cause ever been brought under a hypothesis capable of withstanding the challenge of an uncompromising investigator? Let the controversial works of our contemporary alienists answer for themselves.

Plato acknowledges man to be the toy of the element of necessity, which he enters upon in appearing in this world of matter; he is influenced by external causes, and these causes are daimonia, like that of Socrates. Happy is the man physically pure, for if his external soul (body) is pure, it will strengthen the second one (astral body), or the soul which is termed by him the higher mortal soul, which though liable to err from its own motives, will always side with reason against the animal proclivities of the body. The lusts of man arise in consequence of his perishable material body, so do other diseases; but though he regards crimes as involuntary sometimes, for they result like bodily disease from external causes, Plato clearly makes a wide distinction between these causes. The fatalism which he concedes to humanity, does not preclude the possibility of avoiding them, for though pain, fear, anger, and other feelings are given to men by necessity, “if they conquered these they would live righteously, and if they were conquered by them, unrighteously.”[457] The[Pg 277] dual man, i. e., one from whom the divine immortal spirit has departed, leaving but the animal form and astral body (Plato’s higher mortal soul), is left merely to his instincts, for he was conquered by all the evils entailed on matter; hence, he becomes a docile tool in the hands of the invisibles—beings of sublimated matter, hovering in our atmosphere, and ever ready to inspire those who are deservedly deserted by their immortal counsellor, the Divine Spirit, called by Plato “genius.”[458] According to this great philosopher and initiate, one “who lived well during his appointed time would return to the habitation of his star, and there have a blessed and suitable existence. But if he failed in attaining this in the second generation he would pass into a woman—become helpless and weak as a woman;[459] and should he not cease from evil in that condition, he would be changed into some brute, which resembled him in his evil ways, and would not cease from his toils and transformations until he followed the original principle of sameness and likeness within him, and overcame, by the help of reason, the latter secretions of turbulent and irrational elements (elementary dæmons) composed of fire and air, and water and earth, and returned to the form of his first and better nature.”[460]

But Dr. Elam thinks otherwise. On page 194 of his book, A Physician’s Problems, he says that the cause of the rapid spread of certain epidemics of disease which he is noticing “remains a mystery;” but as regards the incendiarism he remarks that “in all this we find nothing mysterious,” though the epidemic is strongly developed. Strange contradiction! De Quincey, in his paper, entitled Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, treats of the epidemic of assassination, between 1588 and 1635, by which seven of the most distinguished characters of[Pg 278] the time lost their lives at the hands of assassins, and neither he, nor any other commentator has been able to explain the mysterious cause of this homicidal mania.

If we press these gentlemen for an explanation, which as pretended philosophers they are bound to give us, we are answered that it is a great deal more scientific to assign for such epidemics “agitation of the mind,” “ ... a time of political excitement (1830)“ ” ... imitation and impulse,“ ” ... excitable and idle boys,“ and ”hysterical girls,” than to be absurdly seeking for the verification of superstitious traditions in a hypothetical astral light. It seems to us that if, by some providential fatality, hysteria were to disappear entirely from the human system, the medical fraternity would be entirely at a loss for explanations of a large class of phenomena now conveniently classified under the head of “normal symptoms of certain pathological conditions of the nervous centres.” Hysteria has been hitherto the sheet-anchor of skeptical pathologists. Does a dirty peasant-girl begin suddenly to speak with fluency different foreign languages hitherto unfamiliar to her, and to write poetry—“hysterics!” Is a medium levitated, in full view of a dozen of witnesses, and carried out of one third-story window and brought back through another—“disturbance of the nervous centres, followed by a collective hysterical delusion.”[461] A Scotch terrier, caught in the room during a manifestation, is hurled by an invisible hand across the room, breaks to pieces, in his salto mortali, a chandelier, under a ceiling eighteen feet high, to fall down killed[462]—“canine hallucination!”

“True science has no belief,” says Dr. Fenwick, in Bulwer-Lytton’s Strange Story; “true science knows but three states of mind: denial, conviction, and the vast interval between the two, which is not belief, but the suspension of judgment.” Such, perhaps, was true science in Dr. Fenwick’s days. But the true science of our modern times proceeds otherwise; it either denies point-blank, without any preliminary investigation, or sits in the interim, between denial and conviction, and, dictionary in hand, invents new Græco-Latin appellations for non-existing kinds of hysteria!

How often have powerful clairvoyants and adepts in mesmerism described the epidemics and physical (though to others invisible) manifestations which science attributes to epilepsy, hæmato-nervous disorders, and what not, of somatic origin, as their lucid vision saw them in the astral light. They affirm that the “electric waves” were in violent perturbation, and that they discerned a direct relation between this ethereal disturbance and the mental or physical epidemic then raging. But[Pg 279] science has heeded them not, but gone on with her encyclopædic labor of devising new names for old things.

“History,” says Du Potet, the prince of French mesmerists, “keeps but too well the sad records of sorcery. These facts were but too real, and lent themselves but too readily to dreadful malpractices of the art, to monstrous abuse!... But how did I come to find out that art? Where did I learn it? In my thoughts? no; it is nature herself which discovered to me the secret. And how? By producing before my own eyes, without waiting for me to search for it, indisputable facts of sorcery and magic.... What is, after all, somnambulistic sleep? A result of the potency of magic. And what is it which determines these attractions, these sudden impulses, these raving epidemics, rages, antipathies, crises;—these convulsions which you can make durable?... what is it which determines them, if not the very principle we employ, the agent so decidedly well known to the ancients? What you call nervous fluid or magnetism, the men of old called occult power, or the potency of the soul, subjection, MAGIC!”

“Magic is based on the existence of a mixed world placed without, not within us; and with which we can enter in communication by the use of certain arts and practices.... An element existing in nature, unknown to most men, gets hold of a person and withers and breaks him down, as the fearful hurricane does a bulrush; it scatters men far away, it strikes them in a thousand places at the same time, without their perceiving the invisible foe, or being able to protect themselves ... all this is demonstrated; but that this element could choose friends and select favorites, obey their thoughts, answer to the human voice, and understand the meaning of traced signs, that is what people cannot realize, and what their reason rejects, and that is what I saw; and I say it here most emphatically, that for me it is a fact and a truth demonstrated for ever.”[463]

“If I entered into greater details, one could readily understand that there do exist around us, as in ourselves, mysterious beings who have power and shape, who enter and go out at will, notwithstanding the well-closed doors.”[464] Further, the great mesmerizer teaches us that the faculty of directing this fluid is a “physical property, resulting from our organization ... it passes through all bodies ... everything can be used as a conductor for magical operations, and it will retain the power of producing effects in its turn.” This is the theory common to all hermetic philosophers. Such is the power of the fluid, “that no chemical or physical forces are able to destroy it.... There is very little analogy between[Pg 280] the imponderable fluids known to physicists and this animal magnetic fluid.”[465]

If we now refer to mediæval ages, we find, among others, Cornelius Agrippa telling us precisely the same: “The ever-changing universal force, the ‘soul of the world,’ can fecundate anything by infusing in it its own celestial properties. Arranged according to the formula taught by science, these objects receive the gift of communicating to us their virtue. It is sufficient to wear them, to feel them immediately operating on the soul as on the body.... Human soul possesses, from the fact of its being of the same essence as all creation, a marvellous power. One who possesses the secret is enabled to rise in science and knowledge as high as his imagination will carry him; but he does that only on the condition of becoming closely united to this universal force.... Truth, even the future, can be then made ever present to the eyes of the soul; and this fact has been many times demonstrated by things coming to pass as they were seen and described beforehand ... time and space vanish before the eagle eye of the immortal soul ... her power becomes boundless ... she can shoot through space and envelop with her presence a man, no matter at what distance; she can plunge and penetrate him through, and make him hear the voice of the person she belongs to, as if that person were in the room.”[466]

If unwilling to seek for proof or receive information from mediæval, hermetic philosophy, we may go still further back into antiquity, and select, out of the great body of philosophers of the pre-Christian ages, one who can least be accused of superstition and credulity—Cicero. Speaking of those whom he calls gods, and who are either human or atmospheric spirits, “We know,” says the old orator, “that of all living beings man is the best formed, and, as the gods belong to this number, they must have a human form.... I do not mean to say that the gods have body and blood in them; but I say that they seem as if they had bodies with blood in them.... Epicurus, for whom hidden things were as tangible as if he had touched them with his finger, teaches us that gods are not generally visible, but that they are intelligible; that they are not bodies having a certain solidity ... but that we can recognize them by their passing images; that as there are atoms enough in the infinite space to produce such images, these are produced before us ... and make us realize what are these happy, immortal beings.”[467]

“When the initiate,” says Levi, in his turn, “has become quite lucide,[Pg 281] he communicates and directs at will the magnetic vibrations in the mass of astral light.... Transformed in human light at the moment of the conception, it (the light) becomes the first envelope of the soul; by combination with the subtlest fluids it forms an ethereal body, or the sidereal phantom, which is entirely disengaged only at the moment of death.”[468] To project this ethereal body, at no matter what distance; to render it more objective and tangible by condensing over its fluidic form the waves of the parent essence, is the great secret of the adept-magician.

Theurgical magic is the last expression of occult psychological science. The Academicians reject it as the hallucination of diseased brains, or brand it with the opprobrium of charlatanry. We deny to them most emphatically the right of expressing their opinion on a subject which they have never investigated. They have no more right, in their present state of knowledge, to judge of magic and Spiritualism than a Fiji islander to venture his opinion about the labors of Faraday or Agassiz. About all they can do on any one day is to correct the errors of the preceding day. Nearly three thousand years ago, earlier than the days of Pythagoras, the ancient philosophers claimed that light was ponderable—hence matter, and that light was force. The corpuscular theory, owing to certain Newtonian failures to account for it, was laughed down, and the undulatory theory, which proclaimed light imponderable, accepted. And now the world is startled by Mr. Crookes weighing light with his radiometer! The Pythagoreans held that neither the sun nor the stars were the sources of light and heat, and that the former was but an agent; but the modern schools teach the contrary.

The same may be said respecting the Newtonian law of gravitation. Following strictly the Pythagorean doctrine, Plato held that gravitation was not merely a law of the magnetic attraction of lesser bodies to larger ones, but a magnetic repulsion of similars and attraction of dissimilars. “Things brought together,” says he, “contrary to nature, are naturally at war, and repel one another.”[469] This cannot be taken to mean that repulsion occurs of necessity between bodies of dissimilar properties, but simply that when naturally antagonistic bodies are brought together they repel one another. The researches of Bart and Schweigger leave us in little or no doubt that the ancients were well acquainted with the mutual attractions of iron and the lodestone, as well as with the positive and negative properties of electricity, by whatever name they may have called[Pg 282] it. The reciprocal magnetic relations of the planetary orbs, which are all magnets, was with them an accepted fact, and aërolites were not only called by them magnetic stones, but used in the Mysteries for purposes to which we now apply the magnet. When, therefore, Professor A. M. Mayer, of the Stevens Institute of Technology, in 1872, told the Yale Scientific Club that the earth is a great magnet, and that “on any sudden agitation of the sun’s surface the magnetism of the earth receives a profound disturbance in its equilibrium, causing fitful tremors in the magnets of our observatories, and producing those grand outbursts of the polar lights, whose lambent flames dance in rhythm to the quivering needle,”[470] he only restated, in good English, what was taught in good Doric untold centuries before the first Christian philosopher saw the light.

The prodigies accomplished by the priests of theurgical magic are so well authenticated, and the evidence—if human testimony is worth anything at all—is so overwhelming, that, rather than confess that the Pagan theurgists far outrivalled the Christians in miracles, Sir David Brewster piously concedes to the former the greatest proficiency in physics, and everything that pertains to natural philosophy. Science finds herself in a very disagreeable dilemma. She must either confess that the ancient physicists were superior in knowledge to her modern representatives, or that there exists something in nature beyond physical science, and that spirit possesses powers of which our philosophers never dreamed.

“The mistake we make in some science we have specially cultivated,” says Bulwer-Lytton, “is often only to be seen by the light of a separate science as especially cultivated by another.”[471]

Nothing can be easier accounted for than the highest possibilities of magic. By the radiant light of the universal magnetic ocean, whose electric waves bind the cosmos together, and in their ceaseless motion penetrate every atom and molecule of the boundless creation, the disciples of mesmerism—howbeit insufficient their various experiments—intuitionally perceive the alpha and omega of the great mystery. Alone, the study of this agent, which is the divine breath, can unlock the secrets of psychology and physiology, of cosmical and spiritual phenomena.

“Magic,” says Psellus, “formed the last part of the sacerdotal science. It investigated the nature, power, and quality of everything sublunary; of the elements and their parts, of animals, all various plants and their fruits, of stones and herbs. In short, it explored the essence and power of everything. From hence, therefore, it produced its effects[Pg 283] And it formed statues (magnetized) which procure health, and made all various figures and things (talismans) which could equally become the instruments of disease as well as of health. Often, too, celestial fire is made to appear through magic, and then statues laugh and lamps are spontaneously enkindled.”[472]

If Galvani’s modern discovery can set in motion the limbs of a dead frog, and force a dead man’s face to express, by the distortion of its features, the most varied emotions, from joy to diabolical rage, despair, and horror, the Pagan priests, unless the combined evidence of the most trustworthy men of antiquity is not to be relied upon, accomplished the still greater wonders of making their stone and metal statues to sweat and laugh. The celestial, pure fire of the Pagan altar was electricity drawn from the astral light. Statues, therefore, if properly prepared, might, without any accusation of superstition, be allowed to have the property of imparting health and disease by contact, as well as any modern galvanic belt, or overcharged battery.

Scholastic skeptics, as well as ignorant materialists, have greatly amused themselves for the last two centuries over the absurdities attributed to Pythagoras by his biographer, Iamblichus. The Samian philosopher is said to have persuaded a she-bear to give up eating human flesh; to have forced a white eagle to descend to him from the clouds, and to have subdued him by stroking him gently with the hand, and by talking to him. On another occasion, Pythagoras actually persuaded an ox to renounce eating beans, by merely whispering in the animal’s ear![473] Oh, ignorance and superstition of our forefathers, how ridiculous they appear in the eyes of our enlightened generations! Let us, however, analyze this absurdity. Every day we see unlettered men, proprietors of strolling menageries, taming and completely subduing the most ferocious animals, merely by the power of their irresistible will. Nay, we have at the present moment in Europe several young and physically-weak girls, under twenty years of age, fearlessly doing the same thing. Every one has either witnessed or heard of the seemingly magical power of some mesmerizers and psychologists. They are able to subjugate their patients for any length of time. Regazzoni, the mesmerist who excited such wonder in France and London, has achieved far more extraordinary feats than what is above attributed to Pythagoras. Why, then, accuse the ancient biographers of such men as Pythagoras and Apollonius of Tyana of either wilful misrepresentation or absurd superstition? When we realize that[Pg 284] the majority of those who are so skeptical as to the magical powers possessed by the ancient philosophers, who laugh at the old theogonies and the fallacies of mythology, nevertheless have an implicit faith in the records and inspiration of their Bible, hardly daring to doubt even that monstrous absurdity that Joshua arrested the course of the sun, we may well say Amen to Godfrey Higgins’ just rebuke: “When I find,” he says, “learned men believing Genesis literally, which the ancients, with all their failings, had too much sense to receive except allegorically, I am tempted to doubt the reality of the improvement of the human mind.”[474]

One of the very few commentators on old Greek and Latin authors, who have given their just dues to the ancients for their mental development, is Thomas Taylor. In his translation of Iamblichus’ Life of Pythagoras, we find him remarking as follows: “Since Pythagoras, as Iamblichus informs us, was initiated in all the Mysteries of Byblus and Tyre, in the sacred operations of the Syrians, and in the Mysteries of the Phœnicians, and also that he spent two and twenty years in the adyta of temples in Egypt, associated with the magians in Babylon, and was instructed by them in their venerable knowledge, it is not at all wonderful that he was skilled in magic, or theurgy, and was therefore able to perform things which surpass merely human power, and which appear to be perfectly incredible to the vulgar.”[475]

The universal ether was not, in their eyes, simply a something stretching, tenantless, throughout the expanse of heaven; it was a boundless ocean peopled like our familiar seas with monstrous and minor creatures, and having in its every molecule the germs of life. Like the finny tribes which swarm in our oceans and smaller bodies of water, each kind having its habitat in some spot to which it is curiously adapted, some friendly and some inimical to man, some pleasant and some frightful to behold, some seeking the refuge of quiet nooks and land-locked harbors, and some traversing great areas of water, the various races of the elemental spirits were believed by them to inhabit the different portions of the great ethereal ocean, and to be exactly adapted to their respective conditions. If we will only bear in mind the fact that the rushing of planets through space must create as absolute a disturbance in this plastic and attenuated medium, as the passage of a cannon shot does in the air or that of a steamer in the water, and on a cosmic scale, we can understand that certain planetary aspects, admitting our premises to be true, may produce much more violent agitation and cause much stronger currents to flow in a given direction, than others. With the same premises conceded, we may also see why, by such various aspects of the stars, shoals of[Pg 285] friendly or hostile “elementals” might be poured in upon our atmosphere, or some particular portion of it, and make the fact appreciable by the effects which ensue.

According to the ancient doctrines, the soulless elemental spirits were evolved by the ceaseless motion inherent in the astral light. Light is force, and the latter is produced by the will. As this will proceeds from an intelligence which cannot err, for it has nothing of the material organs of human thought in it, being the superfine pure emanation of the highest divinity itself—(Plato’s “Father”) it proceeds from the beginning of time, according to immutable laws, to evolve the elementary fabric requisite for subsequent generations of what we term human races. All of the latter, whether belonging to this planet or to some other of the myriads in space, have their earthly bodies evolved in the matrix out of the bodies of a certain class of these elemental beings which have passed away in the invisible worlds. In the ancient philosophy there was no missing link to be supplied by what Tyndall calls an “educated imagination;” no hiatus to be filled with volumes of materialistic speculations made necessary by the absurd attempt to solve an equation with but one set of quantities; our “ignorant” ancestors traced the law of evolution throughout the whole universe. As by gradual progression from the star-cloudlet to the development of the physical body of man, the rule holds good, so from the universal ether to the incarnate human spirit, they traced one uninterrupted series of entities. These evolutions were from the world of spirit into the world of gross matter; and through that back again to the source of all things. The “descent of species” was to them a descent from the spirit, primal source of all, to the “degradation of matter.” In this complete chain of unfoldings the elementary, spiritual beings had as distinct a place, midway between the extremes, as Mr. Darwin’s missing-link between the ape and man.

No author in the world of literature ever gave a more truthful or more poetical description of these beings than Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton, the author of Zanoni. Now, himself “a thing not of matter” but an “Idea of joy and light,” his words sound more like the faithful echo of memory than the exuberant outflow of mere imagination.

“Man is arrogant in proportion of his ignorance,” he makes the wise Mejnour say to Glyndon. “For several ages he saw in the countless worlds that sparkle through space like the bubbles of a shoreless ocean, only the petty candles ... that Providence has been pleased to light for no other purpose but to make the night more agreeable to man.... Astronomy has corrected this delusion of human vanity, and man now reluctantly confesses that the stars are worlds, larger and more glorious than his own.... Everywhere, then, in this immense design, science[Pg 286] brings new life to light.... Reasoning, then, by evident analogy, if not a leaf, if not a drop of water, but is, no less than yonder star, a habitable and breathing world—nay, if even man himself, is a world to other lives, and millions and myriads dwell in the rivers of his blood, and inhabit man’s frame, as man inhabits earth—common sense (if our schoolmen had it) would suffice to teach that the circumfluent infinite which you call space—the boundless impalpable which divides earth from the moon and stars—is filled also with its correspondent and appropriate life. Is it not a visible absurdity to suppose that being is crowded upon every leaf, and yet absent from the immensities of space! The law of the great system forbids the waste even of an atom; it knows no spot where something of life does not breathe.... Well, then, can you conceive that space, which is the infinite itself, is alone a waste, is alone lifeless, is less useful to the one design of universal being ... than the peopled leaf, than the swarming globule? The microscope shows you the creatures on the leaf; no mechanical tube is yet invented to discover the nobler and more gifted things that hover in the illimitable air. Yet between these last and man is a mysterious and terrible affinity.... But first, to penetrate this barrier, the soul with which you listen must be sharpened by intense enthusiasm, purified from all earthly desires.... When thus prepared, science can be brought to aid it; the sight itself may be rendered more subtile, the nerves more acute, the spirit more alive and outward, and the element itself—the air the space—may be made, by certain secrets of the higher chemistry, more palpable and clear. And this, too, is not magic as the credulous call it; as I have so often said before, magic (a science that violates nature) exists not; it is but the science by which nature can be controlled. Now, in space there are millions of beings, not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalcula unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtile, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer, that clothes the spirit.... Yet, in truth, these races differ most widely ... some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven.... Amid the dwellers of the threshold is one, too, surpassing in malignity and hatred all her tribe; one whose eyes have paralyzed the bravest, and whose power increases over the spirit precisely in proportion to its fear.”[476]

Such is the insufficient sketch of elemental beings void of divine spirit, given by one whom many with reason believed to know more than he was prepared to admit in the face of an incredulous public.

[Pg 287]

In the following chapter we will contrive to explain some of the esoteric speculations of the initiates of the sanctuary, as to what man was, is, and may yet be. The doctrines they taught in the Mysteries—the source from which sprung the Old and partially the New Testament, belonged to the most advanced notions of morality, and religious revelations. While the literal meaning was abandoned to the fanaticism of the unreasoning lower classes of society, the higher ones, the majority of which consisted of Initiates, pursued their studies in the solemn silence of the temples, and their worship of the one God of Heaven.

The speculations of Plato, in the Banquet, on the creation of the primordial men, and the essay on Cosmogony in the Timæus, must be taken allegorically, if we accept them at all. It is this hidden Pythagorean meaning in Timæus, Cratylus, and Parmenides, and a few other trilogies and dialogues, that the Neo-platonists ventured to expound, as far as the theurgical vow of secresy would allow them. The Pythagorean doctrine that God is the universal mind diffused through all things, and the dogma of the soul’s immortality, are the leading features in these apparently incongruous teachings. His piety and the great veneration Plato felt for the Mysteries, are sufficient warrant that he would not allow his indiscretion to get the better of that deep sense of responsibility which is felt by every adept. “Constantly perfecting himself in perfect Mysteries, a man in them alone becomes truly perfect,” says he in the Phædrus.[477]

He took no pains to conceal his displeasure that the Mysteries had become less secret than formerly. Instead of profaning them by putting them within the reach of the multitude, he would have guarded them with jealous care against all but the most earnest and worthy of his disciples.[478] While mentioning the gods, on every page, his monotheism is unquestionable, for the whole thread of his discourse indicates that by the term gods be means a class of beings far lower in the scale than deities, and but one grade higher than men. Even Josephus perceived and acknowledged this fact, despite the natural prejudice of his race. In his famous onslaught upon Apion, this historian says:[479] “Those, however, among the Greeks who philosophized in accordance with truth, were not ignorant of anything ... nor did they fail to perceive the chilling[Pg 288] superficialities of the mythical allegories, on which account they justly despised them.... By which thing Plato, being moved, says it is not necessary to admit any one of the other poets into ‘the Commonwealth,’ and he dismisses Homer blandly, after having crowned him and pouring unguent upon him, in order that indeed he should not destroy, by his myths, the orthodox belief respecting one God.”

Those who can discern the true spirit of Plato’s philosophy, will hardly be satisfied with the estimate of the same which Jowett lays before his readers. He tells us that the influence exercised upon posterity by the Timæus is partly due to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of its author by the Neo-platonists. He would have us believe that the hidden meanings which they found in this Dialogue, are “quite at variance with the spirit of Plato.” This is equivalent to the assumption that Jowett understands what this spirit really was; whereas his criticism upon this particular topic rather indicates that he did not penetrate it at all. If, as he tells us, the Christians seem to find in his work their trinity, the word, the church, and the creation of the world, in a Jewish sense, it is because all this is there, and therefore it is but natural that they should have found it. The outward building is the same; but the spirit which animated the dead letter of the philosopher’s teaching has fled, and we would seek for it in vain through the arid dogmas of Christian theology. The Sphinx is the same now, as it was four centuries before the Christian era; but the Œdipus is no more. He is slain because he has given to the world that which the world was not ripe enough to receive. He was the embodiment of truth, and he had to die, as every grand truth has to, before, like the Phœnix of old, it revives from its own ashes. Every translator of Plato’s works remarked the strange similarity between the philosophy of the esoterists and the Christian doctrines, and each of them has tried to interpret it in accordance with his own religious feelings. So Cory, in his Ancient Fragments, tries to prove that it is but an outward resemblance; and does his best to lower the Pythagorean Monad in the public estimation and exalt upon its ruins the later anthropomorphic deity. Taylor, advocating the former, acts as unceremoniously with the Mosaic God. Zeller boldly laughs at the pretensions of the Fathers of the Church, who, notwithstanding history and its chronology, and whether people will have it or not, insist that Plato and his school have robbed Christianity of its leading features. It is as fortunate for us as it is unfortunate for the Roman Church that such clever sleight-of-hand as that resorted to by Eusebius is rather difficult in our century. It was easier to pervert chronology “for the sake of making synchronisms,” in the days of the Bishop of Cæsarea, than it is now, and while history exists, no one can help people knowing that Plato lived 600 years before[Pg 289] Irenæus took it into his head to establish a new doctrine from the ruins of Plato’s older Academy.

This doctrine of God being the universal mind diffused through all things, underlies all ancient philosophies. The Buddhistic tenets which can never be better comprehended than when studying the Pythagorean philosophy—its faithful reflection—are derived from this source as well as the Brahmanical religion and early Christianity. The purifying process of transmigrations—the metempsychoses—however grossly anthropomorphized at a later period, must only be regarded as a supplementary doctrine, disfigured by theological sophistry with the object of getting a firmer hold upon believers through a popular superstition. Neither Gautama Buddha nor Pythagoras intended to teach this purely-metaphysical allegory literally. Esoterically, it is explained in the “Mystery” of the Kounboum,[480] and relates to the purely spiritual peregrinations of the human soul. It is not in the dead letter of Buddhistical sacred literature that scholars may hope to find the true solution of its metaphysical subtilties. The latter weary the power of thought by the inconceivable profundity of its ratiocination; and the student is never farther from truth than when he believes himself nearest its discovery. The mastery of every doctrine of the perplexing Buddhist system can be attained only by proceeding strictly according to the Pythagorean and Platonic method; from universals down to particulars. The key to it lies in the refined and mystical tenets of the spiritual influx of divine life. “Whoever is unacquainted with my law,” says Buddha, “and dies in that state, must return to the earth till he becomes a perfect Samanean. To achieve this object, he must destroy within himself the trinity of Maya.[481] He must extinguish his passions, unite and identify himself with the law (the teaching of the secret doctrine), and comprehend the religion of annihilation.”

Here, annihilation refers but to matter, that of the visible as well as of the invisible body; for the astral soul (perisprit) is still matter, however sublimated. The same book says that what Fo (Buddha) meant to say was, that “the primitive substance is eternal and unchangeable. Its highest revelation is the pure, luminous ether, the boundless infinite space, not a void resulting from the absence of forms, but, on the contrary, the foundation of all forms, and anterior to them. “But the very presence of forms denotes it to be the creation of Maya, and all her works are as nothing before the uncreated being, SPIRIT, in whose profound and sacred repose all motion must cease forever.”

[Pg 290]

Thus annihilation means, with the Buddhistical philosophy, only a dispersion of matter, in whatever form or semblance of form it may be; for everything that bears a shape was created, and thus must sooner or later perish, i.e., change that shape; therefore, as something temporary, though seeming to be permanent, it is but an illusion, Maya; for, as eternity has neither beginning nor end, the more or less prolonged duration of some particular form passes, as it were, like an instantaneous flash of lightning. Before we have the time to realize that we have seen it, it is gone and passed away for ever; hence, even our astral bodies, pure ether, are but illusions of matter, so long as they retain their terrestrial outline. The latter changes, says the Buddhist, according to the merits or demerits of the person during his lifetime, and this is metempsychosis. When the spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, then only it enters upon the eternal and unchangeable Nirvana. He exists in spirit, in nothing; as a form, a shape, a semblance, he is completely annihilated, and thus will die no more, for spirit alone is no Maya, but the only REALITY in an illusionary universe of ever-passing forms.

It is upon this Buddhist doctrine that the Pythagoreans grounded the principal tenets of their philosophy. “Can that spirit, which gives life and motion, and partakes of the nature of light, be reduced to nonentity?” they ask. “Can that sensitive spirit in brutes which exercises memory, one of the rational faculties, die, and become nothing?” And Whitelock Bulstrode, in his able defence of Pythagoras, expounds this doctrine by adding: “If you say, they (the brutes) breathe their spirits into the air, and there vanish, that is all I contend for. The air, indeed, is the proper place to receive them, being, according to Laertius, full of souls; and, according to Epicurus, full of atoms, the principles of all things; for even this place wherein we walk and birds fly has so much of a spiritual nature, that it is invisible, and, therefore, may well be the receiver of forms, since the forms of all bodies are so; we can only see and hear its effects; the air itself is too fine, and above the capacity of the age. What then is the ether in the region above, and what are the influences or forms that descend from thence?” The spirits of creatures, the Pythagoreans hold, who are emanations of the most sublimated portions of ether, emanations, BREATHS, but not forms. Ether is incorruptible, all philosophers agree in that; and what is incorruptible is so far from being annihilated when it gets rid of the form, that it lays a good claim to IMMORTALITY. “But what is that which has no body, no form; which is imponderable, invisible and indivisible; that which exists and yet is not?” ask the Buddhists. “It is Nirvana,” is the answer. It is NOTHING, not a region, but rather a state. When once Nirvana is[Pg 291] reached, man is exempt from the effects of the “four truths;” for an effect can only be produced through a certain cause, and every cause is annihilated in this state.

These “four truths” are the foundation of the whole Buddhist doctrine of Nirvana. They are, says the book of Pradjuâ Pâramitâ,[482] 1. The existence of pain. 2. The production of pain. 3. The annihilation of pain. 4. The way to the annihilation of pain. What is the source of pain?—Existence. Birth existing, decrepitude and death ensue; for wherever there is a form, there is a cause for pain and suffering. Spirit alone has no form, and therefore cannot be said to exist. Whenever man (the ethereal, inner man) reaches that point when he becomes utterly spiritual, hence, formless, he has reached a state of perfect bliss. Man as an objective being becomes annihilated, but the spiritual entity with its subjective life, will live for ever, for spirit is incorruptible and immortal.

It is by the spirit of the teachings of both Buddha and Pythagoras, that we can so easily recognize the identity of their doctrines. The all-pervading, universal soul, the Anima Mundi, is Nirvana; and Buddha, as a generic name, is the anthropomorphized monad of Pythagoras. When resting in Nirvana, the final bliss, Buddha is the silent monad, dwelling in darkness and silence; he is also the formless Brahm, the sublime but unknowable Deity, which pervades invisibly the whole universe. Whenever it is manifested, desiring to impress itself upon humanity in a shape intelligent to our intellect, whether we call it an avatar, or a King Messiah, or a permutation of Divine Spirit, Logos, Christos, it is all one and the same thing. In each case it is “the Father,” who is in the Son, and the Son in “the Father.” The immortal spirit overshadows the mortal man. It enters into him, and pervading his whole being, makes of him a god, who descends into his earthly tabernacle. Every man may become a Buddha, says the doctrine. And so throughout the interminable series of ages we find now and then men who more or less succeed in uniting themselves “with God,” as the expression goes, with their own spirit, as we ought to translate. The Buddhists call such men Arhat. An Arhat is next to a Buddha, and none is equal to him either in infused science, or miraculous powers. Certain fakirs demonstrate the theory well in practice, as Jacolliot has proved.

Even the so-called fabulous narratives of certain Buddhistical books, when stripped of their allegorical meaning, are found to be the secret doctrines taught by Pythagoras. In the Pali Books called the Jutakâs, are given the 550 incarnations or metempsychoses of Buddha. They[Pg 292] narrate how he has appeared in every form of animal life, and animated every sentient being on earth, from infinitesimal insect to the bird, the beast, and finally man, the microcosmic image of God on earth. Must this be taken literally; is it intended as a description of the actual transformations and existence of one and the same individual immortal, divine spirit, which by turns has animated every kind of sentient being? Ought we not rather to understand, with Buddhist metaphysicians, that though the individual human spirits are numberless, collectively they are one, as every drop of water drawn out of the ocean, metaphorically speaking, may have an individual existence and still be one with the rest of the drops going to form that ocean; for each human spirit is a scintilla of the one all-pervading light? That this divine spirit animates the flower, the particle of granite on the mountain side, the lion, the man? Egyptian Hierophants, like the Brahmans, and the Buddhists of the East, and some Greek philosophers, maintained originally that the same spirit that animates the particle of dust, lurking latent in it, animates man, manifesting itself in him in its highest state of activity. The doctrine, also, of a gradual refusion of the human soul into the essence of the primeval parent spirit, was universal at one time. But this doctrine never implied annihilation of the higher spiritual ego—only the dispersion of the external forms of man, after his terrestrial death, as well as during his abode on earth. Who is better fitted to impart to us the mysteries of after-death, so erroneously thought impenetrable, than those men who having, through self-discipline and purity of life and purpose, succeeded in uniting themselves with their “God,” were afforded some glimpses, however imperfect, of the great truth.[483] And these seers tell us strange stories about the variety of forms assumed by disembodied astral souls; forms of which each one is a spiritual though concrete reflection of the abstract state of the mind, and thoughts of the once living man.

To accuse Buddhistical philosophy of rejecting a Supreme Being—God, and the soul’s immortality, of atheism, in short, on the ground that according to their doctrines, Nirvana means annihilation, and Svabhâvât is NOT a person, but nothing, is simply absurd. The En (or Ayîn) of the Jewish En-Soph, also means nihil or nothing, that which is not (quo ad nos); but no one has ever ventured to twit the Jews with atheism. In both cases the real meaning of the term nothing carries with it the idea that God is not a thing, not a concrete or visible Being to which a name expressive of any object known to us on earth may be applied with propriety.

[Pg 293]


“Thou can’st not call that madness of which thou art proved to know nothing.”

Tertullian: Apology

“This is not a matter of to-day,
Or yesterday, but hath been from all times;
And none hath told us whence it came or how!”— Sophocles.

“Belief in the supernatural is a fact natural, primitive, universal, and constant in the life and history of the human race. Unbelief in the supernatural begets materialism; materialism, sensuality; sensuality, social convulsions, amid whose storms man again learns to believe and pray.”— Guizot.

“If any one think these things incredible, let him keep his opinions to himself, and not contradict those who, by such events, are incited to the study of virtue.”— Josephus.

From the Platonic and Pythagorean views of matter and force, we will now turn to the kabalistic philosophy of the origin of man, and compare it with the theory of natural selection enunciated by Darwin and Wallace. It may be that we shall find as much reason to credit the ancients with originality in this direction as in that which we have been considering. To our mind, no stronger proof of the theory of cyclical progression need be required than the comparative enlightenment of former ages and that of the Patristic Church, as regards the form of the earth, and the movements of the planetary system. Even were other evidence wanting, the ignorance of Augustine and Lactantius, misleading the whole of Christendom upon these questions until the period of Galileo, would mark the eclipses through which human knowledge passes from age to age.

The “coats of skin,” mentioned in the third chapter of Genesis as given to Adam and Eve, are explained by certain ancient philosophers to mean the fleshy bodies with which, in the progress of the cycles, the progenitors of the race became clothed. They maintained that the godlike physical form became grosser and grosser, until the bottom of what may be termed the last spiritual cycle was reached, and mankind entered upon the ascending arc of the first human cycle. Then began an uninterrupted series of cycles or yogas; the precise number of years of which each of them consisted remaining an inviolable mystery within the precincts of the sanctuaries and disclosed only to the initiates. As soon as humanity entered upon a new one, the stone age, with which the preceding cycle had closed, began to gradually merge into the following and next higher age. With each successive age, or epoch, men grew more refined, until[Pg 294] the acme of perfection possible in that particular cycle had been reached. Then the receding wave of time carried back with it the vestiges of human, social, and intellectual progress. Cycle succeeded cycle, by imperceptible transitions; highly-civilized flourishing nations, waxed in power, attained the climax of development, waned, and became extinct; and mankind, when the end of the lower cyclic arc was reached, was replunged into barbarism as at the start. Kingdoms have crumbled and nation succeeded nation from the beginning until our day, the races alternately mounting to the highest and descending to the lowest points of development. Draper observes that there is no reason to suppose that any one cycle applied to the whole human race. On the contrary, while man in one portion of the planet was in a condition of retrogression, in another he might be progressing in enlightenment and civilization.

How analogous this theory is to the law of planetary motion, which causes the individual orbs to rotate on their axes; the several systems to move around their respective suns; and the whole stellar host to follow a common path around a common centre! Life and death, light and darkness, day and night on the planet, as it turns about its axis and traverses the zodiacal circle representing the lesser and the greater cycles.[484] Remember the Hermetic axiom:—“As above, so below; as in heaven, so on earth.”

Mr. Alfred R. Wallace argues with sound logic, that the development of man has been more marked in his mental organization than in his external form. Man, he conceives to differ from the animal, by being able to undergo great changes of conditions and of his entire environment, without very marked alterations in bodily form and structure. The changes of climate he meets with a corresponding alteration in his clothing, shelter, weapons, and implements of husbandry. His body may become less hairy, more erect, and of a different color and proportions; “the head and face is immediately connected with the organ of the mind, and as being the medium, expressing the most refined motions of his nature,” alone change with the development of his intellect. There was a time when “he had not yet acquired that wonderfully-developed brain, the organ of the mind, which now, even in his lowest examples, raises him far above the highest brutes, at a period when he had the form, but hardly the nature of man, when he neither possessed human speech nor sympathetic and moral feelings.” Further, Mr. Wallace says that “Man may have been—indeed, I believe must have been, once a[Pg 295] homogeneous race ... in man, the hairy covering of the body has almost entirely disappeared.“ Of the cave men of Les Eyzies, Mr. Wallace remarks further ” ... the great breadth of the face, the enormous development of the ascending ramus of the lower jaw ... indicate enormous muscular power and the habits of a savage and brutal race.”

Such are the glimpses which anthropology affords us of men, either arrived at the bottom of a cycle or starting in a new one. Let us see how far they are corroborated by clairvoyant psychometry. Professor Denton submitted a fragment of fossilized bone to his wife’s examination, without giving Mrs. Denton any hint as to what the article was. It immediately called up to her pictures of people and scenes which he thinks belonged to the stone age. She saw men closely resembling monkeys, with a body very hairy, and “as if the natural hair answered the purpose of clothing.” “I question whether he can stand perfectly upright; his hip-joints appear to be so formed, he cannot,” she added. “Occasionally I see part of the body of one of those beings that looks comparatively smooth. I can see the skin, which is lighter colored ... I do not know whether he belongs to the same period.... At a distance the face seems flat; the lower part of it is heavy; they have what I suppose would be called prognathous jaws. The frontal region of the head is low, and the lower portion of it is very prominent, forming a round ridge across the forehead, immediately above the eyebrows.... Now I see a face that looks like that of a human being, though there is a monkey-like appearance about it. All these seem of that kind, having long arms and hairy bodies.”[485]

Whether or not the men of science are willing to concede the correctness of the Hermetic theory of the physical evolution of man from higher and more spiritual natures, they themselves show us how the race has progressed from the lowest observed point to its present development. And, as all nature seems to be made up of analogies, is it unreasonable to affirm that the same progressive development of individual forms has prevailed among the inhabitants of the unseen universe? If such marvellous effects have been caused by evolution upon our little insignificant planet, producing reasoning and intuitive men from some higher type of the ape family, why suppose that the boundless realms of space are inhabited only by disembodied angelic forms? Why not give place in that vast domain to the spiritual duplicates of these hairy, long-armed and half-reasoning ancestors, their predecessors, and all their successors, down to our time? Of course, the spiritual parts of such primeval members of the human family would be as uncouth and undeveloped as were[Pg 296] their physical bodies. While they made no attempt to calculate the duration of the “grand cycle,” the Hermetic philosophers yet maintained that, according to the cyclic law, the living human race must inevitably and collectively return one day to that point of departure, where man was first clothed with “coats of skin;” or, to express it more clearly, the human race must, in accordance with the law of evolution, be finally physically spiritualized. Unless Messrs. Darwin and Huxley are prepared to prove that the man of our century has attained, as a physical and moral animal, the acme of perfection, and evolution, having reached its apex, must stop all further progress with the modern genus, Homo, we do not see how they can possibly confute such a logical deduction.

In his lecture on The Action of Natural Selection on Man, Mr. Alfred R. Wallace concludes his demonstrations as to the development of human races under that law of selection by saying that, if his conclusions are just, “it must inevitably follow that the higher—the more intellectual and moral—must displace the lower and more degraded races; and the power of ‘natural selection,’ still acting on his mental organization, must ever lead to the more perfect adaptation of man’s higher faculties to the condition of surrounding nature, and to the exigencies of the social state. While his external form will probably ever remain unchanged, except in the development of that perfect beauty ... refined and ennobled by the highest intellectual faculties and sympathetic emotions, his mental constitution may continue to advance and improve, till the world is again inhabited by a single, nearly homogeneous race, no individual of which will be inferior to the noblest specimens of existing humanity.” Sober, scientific methods and cautiousness in hypothetical possibilities have evidently their share in this expression of the opinions of the great anthropologist. Still, what he says above clashes in no way with our kabalistic assertions. Allow to ever-progressing nature, to the great law of the “survival of the fittest,” one step beyond Mr. Wallace’s deductions, and we have in future the possibility—nay, the assurance of a race, which, like the Vril-ya of Bulwer-Lytton’s Coming Race, will be but one remove from the primitive “Sons of God.”

It will be observed that this philosophy of cycles, which was allegorized by the Egyptian Hierophants in the “circle of necessity,” explains at the same time the allegory of the “Fall of man.” According to the Arabian descriptions, each of the seven chambers of the Pyramids—those grandest of all cosmic symbols—was known by the name of a planet. The peculiar architecture of the Pyramids shows in itself the drift of the metaphysical thought of their builders. The apex is lost in the clear blue sky of the land of the Pharaohs, and typifies the primordial[Pg 297] point lost in the unseen universe from whence started the first race of the spiritual prototypes of man. Each mummy, from the moment that it was embalmed, lost its physical individuality in one sense; it symbolized the human race. Placed in such a way as was best calculated to aid the exit of the “soul,” the latter had to pass through the seven planetary chambers before it made its exit through the symbolical apex. Each chamber typified, at the same time, one of the seven spheres, and one of the seven higher types of physico-spiritual humanity alleged to be above our own. Every 3,000 years, the soul, representative of its race, had to return to its primal point of departure before it underwent another evolution into a more perfected spiritual and physical transformation. We must go deep indeed into the abstruse metaphysics of Oriental mysticism before we can realize fully the infinitude of the subjects that were embraced at one sweep by the majestic thought of its exponents.

Starting as a pure and perfect spiritual being, the Adam of the second chapter of Genesis, not satisfied with the position allotted to him by the Demiurgus (who is the eldest first-begotten, the Adam-Kadmon), Adam the second, the “man of dust,” strives in his pride to become Creator in his turn. Evolved out of the androgynous Kadmon, this Adam is himself an androgyn; for, according to the oldest beliefs presented allegorically in Plato’s Timæus, the prototypes of our races were all enclosed in the microcosmic tree which grew and developed within and under the great mundane or macrocosmic tree. Divine spirit being considered a unity, however numerous the rays of the great spiritual sun, man has still had his origin like all other forms, whether organic or otherwise, in this one Fount of Eternal Light. Were we even to reject the hypothesis of an androgynous man, in connection with physical evolution, the significance of the allegory in its spiritual sense, would remain unimpaired. So long as the first god-man, symbolizing the two first principles of creation, the dual male and female element, had no thought of good and evil he could not hypostasize “woman,” for she was in him as he was in her. It was only when, as a result of the evil hints of the serpent, matter, the latter condensed itself and cooled on the spiritual man in its contact with the elements, that the fruits of the man-tree—who is himself that tree of knowledge—appeared to his view. From this moment the androgynal union ceased, man evolved out of himself the woman as a separate entity. They have broken the thread between pure spirit and pure matter. Henceforth they will create no more spiritually, and by the sole power of their will; man has become a physical creator, and the kingdom of spirit can be won only by a long imprisonment in matter. The meaning of Gogard, the Hellenic tree of life, the sacred oak among[Pg 298] whose luxuriant branches a serpent dwells, and cannot be dislodged,[486] thus becomes apparent. Creeping out from the primordial ilus, the mundane snake grows more material and waxes in strength and power with every new evolution.

The Adam Primus, or Kadmon, the Logos of the Jewish mystics, is the same as the Grecian Prometheus, who seeks to rival with the divine wisdom; he is also the Pimander of Hermes, or the Power of the thought Divine, in its most spiritual aspect, for he was less hypostasized by the Egyptians than the two former. These all create men, but fail in their final object. Desiring to endow man with an immortal spirit, in order that by linking the trinity in one, he might gradually return to his primal spiritual state without losing his individuality, Prometheus fails in his attempt to steal the divine fire, and is sentenced to expiate his crime on Mount Kazbeck. Prometheus is also the Logos of the ancient Greeks, as well as Herakles. In the Codex Nazaræus[487] we see Bahak-Zivo deserting the heaven of his father, confessing that though he is the father of the genii, he is unable to “construct creatures,” for he is equally unacquainted with Orcus as with “the consuming fire which is wanting in light.” And Fetahil, one of the “powers,” sits in the “mud” (matter) and wonders why the living fire is so changed.

All of these Logoi strove to endow man with the immortal spirit, failed, and nearly all are represented as being punished for the attempt by severe sentences. Those of the early Christian Fathers who like Origen and Clemens Alexandrinus, were well versed in Pagan symbology, having begun their careers as philosophers, felt very much embarrassed. They could not deny the anticipation of their doctrines in the oldest myths. The latest Logos, according to their teachings, had also appeared in order to show mankind the way to immortality; and in his desire to endow the world with eternal life through the Pentecostal fire, had lost his life agreeably to the traditional programme. Thus was originated the very awkward explanation of which our modern clergy freely avail themselves, that all these mythic types show the prophetic spirit which, through the Lord’s mercy, was afforded even to the heathen idolaters! The Pagans, they assert, had presented in their imagery the great drama of Calvary—hence the resemblance. On the other hand, the philosophers maintained, with unassailable logic, that the pious fathers had simply helped themselves to a ready-made groundwork, either finding it easier than to exert their own imagination, or because of the greater number of ignorant proselytes who were attracted to the new doctrine[Pg 299] by such an extraordinary resemblance with their mythologies, at least as far as the outward form of the most fundamental doctrines goes.

The allegory of the Fall of man and the fire of Prometheus is also another version of the myth of the rebellion of the proud Lucifer, hurled down to the bottomless pit—Orcus. In the religion of the Brahmans, Moisasure, the Hindu Lucifer, becomes envious of the Creator’s resplendent light, and at the head of a legion of inferior spirits rebels against Brahma, and declares war against him. Like Hercules, the faithful Titan, who helps Jupiter and restores to him his throne, Siva, the third person of the Hindu trinity, hurls them all from the celestial abode in Honderah, the region of eternal darkness. But here the fallen angels are made to repent of their evil deed, and in the Hindu doctrine they are all afforded the opportunity to progress. In the Greek fiction, Hercules, the Sun-god, descends to Hades to deliver the victims from their tortures; and the Christian Church also makes her incarnate god descend to the dreary Plutonic regions and overcome the rebellious ex-archangel. In their turn the kabalists explain the allegory in a semi-scientific way. Adam the second, or the first-created race which Plato calls gods, and the Bible the Elohim, was not triple in his nature like the earthly man: i.e., he was not composed of soul, spirit, and body, but was a compound of sublimated astral elements into which the “Father” had breathed an immortal, divine spirit. The latter, by reason of its godlike essence, was ever struggling to liberate itself from the bonds of even that flimsy prison; hence the “sons of God,” in their imprudent efforts, were the first to trace a future model for the cyclic law. But, man must not be “like one of us,” says the Creative Deity, one of the Elohim “intrusted with the fabrication of the lower animal.”[488] And thus it was, when the men of the first race had reached the summit of the first cycle, they lost their balance, and their second envelope, the grosser clothing (astral body), dragged them down the opposite arc.

This kabalistic version of the sons of God (or of light) is given in the Codex Nazaræus. Bahak-Zivo, the “father of genii, is ordered to ‘construct creatures.’” But, as he is “ignorant of Orcus,” he fails to do so and calls in Fetahil a still purer spirit to his aid, who fails still worse.

Then steps on the stage of creation the “spirit”[489] (which properly ought to be translated “soul,” for it is the anima mundi, and which[Pg 300] with the Nazarenes and the Gnostics was feminine), and perceiving that for Fetahil,[490] the newest man (the latest), the splendor was “changed,” and that for splendor existed “decrease and damage,” awakes Karabtanos,[491] “who was frantic and without sense and judgment,” and says to him: “Arise; see, the splendor (light) of the newest man (Fetahil) has failed (to produce or create men), the decrease of this splendor is visible. Rise up, come with thy MOTHER (the spiritus) and free thee from limits by which thou art held, and those more ample than the whole world.” After which follows the union of the frantic and blind matter, guided by the insinuations of the spirit (not the Divine breath, but the Astral spirit, which by its double essence is already tainted with matter) and the offer of the MOTHER being accepted the Spiritus conceives “Seven Figures,” which Irenæus is disposed to take for the seven stellars (planets) but which represent the seven capital sins, the progeny of an astral soul separated from its divine source (spirit) and matter, the blind demon of concupiscence. Seeing this, Fetahil extends his hand toward the abyss of matter, and says: ‘Let the earth exist, just as the abode of the powers has existed.’” Dipping his hand in the chaos, which he condenses, he creates our planet.[492]

Then the Codex proceeds to tell how Bahak-Zivo was separated from the Spiritus, and the genii, or angels, from the rebels.[493] Then Mano[494] (the greatest), who dwells with the greatest Ferho, calls Kebar-Zivo (known also by the name of Nebat-Iavar bar Iufin-Ifafin), Helm and Vine of the food of life,[495] he being the third life, and, commiserating the rebellious and foolish genii, on account of the magnitude of their ambition, says: “Lord of the genii[496] (Æons), see what the genii, the rebellious angels do, and about what they are consulting.[497] They say, “Let us call forth the world, and let us call the ‘powers’ into existence. The genii are the Principes, the ‘sons of Light,’ but thou art the ‘Messenger of Life.’”[498]

[Pg 301]

And in order to counteract the influence of the seven “badly disposed” principles, the progeny of Spiritus, Cabar Zio, the mighty Lord of Splendor, procreates seven other lives (the cardinal virtues) who shine in their own form and light “from on high”[499] and thus reëstablishes the balance between good and evil, light and darkness.

But this creation of beings, without the requisite influx of divine pure breath in them, which was known among the kabalists as the “Living Fire,” produced but creatures of matter and astral light.[500] Thus were generated the animals which preceded man on this earth. The spiritual beings, the “sons of light,” those who remained faithful to the great Ferho (the First Cause of all), constitute the celestial or angelic hierarchy, the Adonim, and the legions of the never-embodied spiritual men. The followers of the rebellious and foolish genii, and the descendants of the “witless” seven spirits begotten by “Karabtanos” and the “spiritus,” became, in course of time, the “men of our planet,”[501] after having previously passed through every “creation” of every one of the elements. From this stage of life they have been traced by Darwin, who shows us how our highest forms have been evolved out of the lowest. Anthropology dares not follow the kabalist in his metaphysical flights beyond this planet, and it is doubtful if its teachers have the courage to search for the missing link in the old kabalistic manuscripts.

Thus was set in motion the first cycle, which in its rotations downward, brought an infinitesimal part of the created lives to our planet of mud. Arrived at the lowest point of the arc of the cycle which directly preceded life on this earth, the pure divine spark still lingering in the Adam made an effort to separate itself from the astral spirit, for “man was falling gradually into generation,” and the fleshy coat was becoming with every action more and more dense.

And now comes a mystery, a Sod;[502] a secret which Rabbi[Pg 302] Simeon[503] imparted but to very few initiates. It was enacted once every seven years during the Mysteries of Samothrace, and the records of it are found self-printed on the leaves of the Thibetan sacred tree, the mysterious Kounboum, in the Lamasery of the holy adepts.[504]

In the shoreless ocean of space radiates the central, spiritual, and Invisible sun. The universe is his body, spirit and soul; and after this ideal model are framed ALL THINGS. These three emanations are the three lives, the three degrees of the gnostic Pleroma, the three “Kabalistic Faces,” for the Ancient of the ancient, the holy of the aged, the great En-Soph, “has a form and then he has no form.” The invisible “assumed a form when he called the universe into existence,”[505] says the Sohar, the Book of splendor. The first light is His soul, the Infinite, Boundless, and Immortal breath; under the efflux of which the universe heaves its mighty bosom, infusing Intelligent life throughout creation. The second emanation condenses cometary matter and produces forms within the cosmic circle; sets the countless worlds floating in the electric space, and infuses the unintelligent, blind life-principle into every form. The third, produces the whole universe of physical matter; and as it keeps gradually receding from the Central Divine Light its brightness wanes and it becomes Darkness and the Bad—pure matter, the “gross purgations of the celestial fire” of the Hermetists.

When the Central Invisible (the Lord Ferho) saw the efforts of the divine Scintilla, unwilling to be dragged lower down into the degradation of matter, to liberate itself, he permitted it to shoot out from itself a monad, over which, attached to it as by the finest thread, the Divine Scintilla (the soul) had to watch during its ceaseless peregrinations from one form to another. Thus the monad was shot down into the first form of matter and became encased in stone; then, in course of time, through the combined efforts of living fire and living water, both of which shone their reflection upon the stone, the monad crept out of its prison to sunlight as a lichen. From change to change it went higher and higher; the monad, with every new transformation borrowing more of the radiance of its parent, Scintilla, which approached it nearer at every transmigration. For “the First Cause, had willed it to proceed in this order;” and destined it to creep on higher until its physical form became once more the Adam of dust, shaped in the image of the Adam Kadmon. Before undergoing its last earthly transformation, the external covering of the monad, from the moment of its conception as an embryo, passes in turn, once more, through the phases of the several kingdoms.[Pg 303] In its fluidic prison it assumes a vague resemblance at various periods of the gestation to plant, reptile, bird, and animal, until it becomes a human embryo.[506] At the birth of the future man, the monad, radiating with all the glory of its immortal parent which watches it from the seventh sphere, becomes senseless.[507] It loses all recollection of the past, and returns to consciousness but gradually, when the instinct of childhood gives way to reason and intelligence. After the separation between the life-principle (astral spirit) and the body takes place, the liberated soul—Monad, exultingly rejoins the mother and father spirit, the radiant Augoeides, and the two, merged into one, forever form, with a glory proportioned to the spiritual purity of the past earth-life, the Adam who has completed the circle of necessity, and is freed from the last vestige of his physical encasement. Henceforth, growing more and more radiant at each step of his upward progress, he mounts the shining path that ends at the point from which he started around the GRAND CYCLE.

The whole Darwinian theory of natural selection is included in the first six chapters of the book of Genesis. The “Man” of chapter i. is radically different from the “Adam” of chapter ii., for the former was created “male and female” that is, bi-sexed—and in the image of God; while the latter, according to verse seven, was formed of the dust of the ground, and became “a living soul,” after the Lord God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” Moreover, this Adam was a male being, and in verse twenty we are told that “there was not found a helpmeet for him.” The Adonai, being pure spiritual entities, had no sex, or rather had both sexes united in themselves, like their Creator; and the ancients understood this so well that they represented many of their deities as of dual sex. The Biblical student must either accept this interpretation, or make the passages in the two chapters alluded to absurdly contradict each other. It was such literal acceptance of passages that warranted the atheists in covering the Mosaic account with ridicule, and it is the dead letter of the old text that begets the materialism of our age. Not only are these two races of beings thus clearly indicated in Genesis, but even a third and a fourth one are ushered before the reader in chapter iv., where the “sons of God” and the race of “giants” are spoken of.

As we write, there appears in an American paper, The Kansas City Times, an account of important discoveries of the remains of a prehistorical race of giants, which corroborates the statements of the kabalists and the Bible allegories at the same time. It is worth preserving:

[Pg 304]

“In his researches among the forests of Western Missouri, Judge E. P. West has discovered a number of conical-shaped mounds, similar in construction to those found in Ohio and Kentucky. These mounds are found upon the high bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, the largest and more prominent being found in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Until about three weeks ago it was not suspected that the mound builders had made this region their home in the prehistoric days; but now it is discovered that this strange and extinct race once occupied this land, and have left an extensive graveyard in a number of high mounds upon the Clay County bluffs.

“As yet, only one of these mounds has been opened. Judge West discovered a skeleton about two weeks ago, and made a report to other members of the society. They accompanied him to the mound, and not far from the surface excavated and took out the remains of two skeletons. The bones are very large—so large, in fact, when compared with an ordinary skeleton of modern date, they appear to have formed part of a giant. The head bones, such as have not rotted away, are monstrous in size. The lower jaw of one skeleton is in a state of preservation, and is double the size of the jaw of a civilized person. The teeth in this jaw-bone are large, and appear to have been ground down and worn away by contact with roots and carnivorous food. The jaw-bone indicates immense muscular strength. The thigh-bone, when compared with that of an ordinary modern skeleton, looks like that of a horse. The length, thickness, and muscular development are remarkable. But the most peculiar part about the skeleton is the frontal bone. It is very low, and differs radically from any ever seen in this section before. It forms one thick ridge of bone about one inch wide, extending across the eyes. It is a narrow but rather heavy ridge of bone which, instead of extending upward, as it does now in these days of civilization, receded back from the eyebrows, forming a flat head, and thus indicates a very low order of mankind. It is the opinion of the scientific gentlemen who are making these discoveries that these bones are the remains of a prehistoric race of men. They do not resemble the present existing race of Indians, nor are the mounds constructed upon any pattern or model known to have been in use by any race of men now in existence in America. The bodies are discovered in a sitting posture in the mounds, and among the bones are found stone weapons, such as flint knives, flint scrapers, and all of them different in shape to the arrow-heads, war-hatchets, and other stone tools and weapons known to have been in use by the aboriginal Indians of this land when discovered by the whites. The gentlemen who have these curious bones in charge have deposited them with Dr. Foe, on Main street. It is their intention to make further and closer researches in the mounds on[Pg 305] the bluffs opposite this city. They will make a report of their labors at the next meeting of the Academy of Science, by which time they expect to be able to make some definite report as to their opinions. It is pretty definitely settled, however, that the skeletons are those of a race of men not now in existence.”

The author of a recent and very elaborate work[508] finds some cause for merriment over the union of the sons of God with the “daughters of men,” who were fair, as alluded to in Genesis, and described at great length in that wonderful legend, the Book of Enoch. More is the pity, that our most learned and liberal men do not employ their close and merciless logic to repair its one-sidedness by seeking the true spirit which dictated these allegories of old. This spirit was certainly more scientific than skeptics are yet prepared to admit. But with every year some new discovery may corroborate their assertions, until the whole of antiquity is vindicated.

One thing, at least, has been shown in the Hebrew text, viz.: that there was one race of purely physical creatures, another purely spiritual. The evolution and “transformation of species” required to fill the gap between the two has been left to abler anthropologists. We can only repeat the philosophy of men of old, which says that the union of these two races produced a third—the Adamite race. Sharing the natures of both its parents, it is equally adapted to an existence in the material and spiritual worlds. Allied to the physical half of man’s nature is reason, which enables him to maintain his supremacy over the lower animals, and to subjugate nature to his uses. Allied to his spiritual part is his conscience, which will serve as his unerring guide through the besetments of the senses; for conscience is that instantaneous perception between right and wrong, which can only be exercised by the spirit, which, being a portion of the Divine Wisdom and Purity, is absolutely pure and wise. Its promptings are independent of reason, and it can only manifest itself clearly, when unhampered by the baser attractions of our dual nature.

Reason being a faculty of our physical brain, one which is justly defined as that of deducing inferences from premises, and being wholly dependent on the evidence of other senses, cannot be a quality pertaining directly to our divine spirit. The latter knows—hence, all reasoning which implies discussion and argument would be useless. So an entity, which, if it must be considered as a direct emanation from the eternal Spirit of wisdom, has to be viewed as possessed of the same attributes[Pg 306] as the essence or the whole of which it is a part. Therefore, it is with a certain degree of logic that the ancient theurgists maintained that the rational part of man’s soul (spirit) never entered wholly into the man’s body, but only overshadowed him more or less through the irrational or astral soul, which serves as an intermediatory agent, or a medium between spirit and body. The man who has conquered matter sufficiently to relieve the direct light from his shining Augoeides, feels truth intuitionally; he could not err in his judgment, notwithstanding all the sophisms suggested by cold reason, for he is ILLUMINATED. Hence, prophecy, vaticination, and the so-called Divine inspiration are simply the effects of this illumination from above by our own immortal spirit.

Swedenborg, following the mystical doctrines of the Hermetic philosophers, devoted a number of volumes to the elucidation of the “internal sense” of Genesis. Swedenborg was undoubtedly a “natural-born magician,” a seer; he was not an adept. Thus, however closely he may have followed the apparent method of interpretation used by the alchemists and mystic writers, he partially failed; the more so, that the model chosen by him in this method was one who, albeit a great alchemist, was no more of an adept than the Swedish seer himself, in the fullest sense of the word. Eugenius Philalethes had never attained “the highest pyrotechny,” to use the diction of the mystic philosophers. But, although both have missed the whole truth in its details, Swedenborg has virtually given the same interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis as the Hermetic philosophers. The seer, as well as the initiates, notwithstanding their veiled phraseology, clearly show that the first chapters of Genesis relate to the regeneration, or a new birth of man, not to the creation of our universe and its crown work—MAN. The fact that the terms of the alchemists, such as salt, sulphur, and mercury are transformed by Swedenborg into ens, cause, and effect,[509] does not affect the underlying idea of solving the problems of the Mosaic books by the only possible method—that used by the Hermetists—that of correspondences.

His doctrine of correspondence, or Hermetic symbolism, is that of Pythagoras and of the kabalists—“as above, so below.” It is also that of the Buddhist philosophers, who, in their still more abstract metaphysics, inverting the usual mode of definition given by our erudite scholars, call the invisible types the only reality, and everything else the effects of the causes, or visible prototypes—illusions. However contradictory their various elucidations of the Pentateuch may appear on their surface, every one of them tends to show that the sacred literature of every country, the Bible as much as the Vedas or the Buddhist Scriptures, can only be[Pg 307] understood and thoroughly sifted by the light of Hermetic philosophy. The great sages of antiquity, those of the mediæval ages, and the mystical writers of our more modern times also, were all Hermetists. Whether the light of truth had illuminated them through their faculty of intuition, or as a consequence of study and regular initiation, virtually, they had accepted the method and followed the path traced to them by such men as Moses, Gautama-Buddha, and Jesus. The truth, symbolized by some alchemists as dew from heaven, had descended into their hearts, and they had all gathered it upon the tops of mountains, after having spread CLEAN linen cloths to receive it; and thus, in one sense, they had secured, each for himself, and in his own way, the universal solvent. How much they were allowed to share it with the public is another question. That veil, which is alleged to have covered the face of Moses, when, after descending from Sinai, he taught his people the Word of God, cannot be withdrawn at the will of the teacher only. It depends on the listeners, whether they will also remove the veil which is “upon their hearts.” Paul says it plainly; and his words addressed to the Corinthians can be applied to every man or woman, and of any age in the history of the world. If “their minds are blinded” by the shining skin of divine truth, whether the Hermetic veil be withdrawn or not from the face of the teacher, it cannot be taken away from their heart unless “it shall turn to the Lord.” But the latter appellation must not be applied to either of the three anthropomorphized personages of the Trinity, but to the “Lord,” as understood by Swedenborg and the Hermetic philosophers—the Lord, who is Life and Man.

The everlasting conflict between the world-religions—Christianity, Judaism, Brahmanism, Paganism, Buddhism, proceeds from this one source: Truth is known but to the few; the rest, unwilling to withdraw the veil from their own hearts, imagine it blinding the eyes of their neighbor. The god of every exoteric religion, including Christianity, notwithstanding its pretensions to mystery, is an idol, a fiction, and cannot be anything else. Moses, closely-veiled, speaks to the stiff-necked multitudes of Jehovah, the cruel, anthropomorphic deity, as of the highest God, burying deep in the bottom of his heart that truth which cannot be “either spoken of or revealed.” Kapila cuts with the sharp sword of his sarcasms the Brahman-Yoggins, who in their mystical visions pretend to see the HIGHEST one. Gautama-Buddha conceals, under an impenetrable cloak of metaphysical subtilties, the verity, and is regarded by posterity as an atheist. Pythagoras, with his allegorical mysticism and m