by H. P. Blavatsky — Vol. 2
Theosophical University Press Online Edition
[[Chapter 12, part 2]]
fortuitous circumstances. Such men are as little accessible as the real Nautch girls, of whom every traveller talks, but very few have actually seen, since they belong exclusively to the pagodas.
It is surpassingly strange, that with the thousands of travellers and the millions of European residents who have been in India, and have traversed it in every direction, so little is yet known of that country and the lands which surround it. It may be that some readers will feel inclined not merely to doubt the correctness but even openly contradict our statement? Doubtless, we will be answered that all that it is desirable to know about India is already known? In fact this very reply was once made to us personally. That resident Anglo-Indians should not busy themselves with inquiries is not strange; for, as a British officer remarked to us upon one occasion, "society does not consider it well-bred to care about Hindus or their affairs, or even show astonishment or desire information upon anything they may see extraordinary in that country." But it really surprises us that at least travellers should not have explored more than they have this interesting realm. Hardly fifty years ago, in penetrating the jungles of the Blue or Neilgherry Hills in Southern Hindustan, a strange race, perfectly distinct in appearance and language from any other Hindu people, was discovered by two courageous British officers who were tiger-hunting. Many surmises, more or less absurd, were set on foot, and the missionaries, always on the watch to connect every mortal thing with the Bible, even went so far as to suggest that this people was one of the lost tribes of Israel, supporting their ridiculous hypothesis upon their very fair complexions and "strongly-marked Jewish features." The latter is perfectly erroneous, the Todas, as they are called, not bearing the remotest likeness to the Jewish type; either in feature, form, action, or language. They closely resemble each other, and, as a friend of ours expresses himself, the handsomest of the Todas resemble the statue of the Grecian Zeus in majesty and beauty of form more than anything he had yet seen among men.
Fifty years have passed since the discovery; but though since that time towns have been built on these hills and the country has been invaded by Europeans, no more has been learned of the Todas than at the first. Among the foolish rumors current about this people, the most erroneous are those in relation to their numbers and to their practicing polyandry. The general opinion about them is that on account of the latter custom their number has dwindled to a few hundred families, and the race is fast dying out. We had the best means of learning much about them, and therefore state most positively that the Todas neither practice polyandry nor are they as few in number as supposed. We are
ready to show that no one has ever seen children belonging to them. Those that may have been seen in their company have belonged to the Badagas, a Hindu tribe totally distinct from the Todas, in race, color, and language, and which includes the most direct "worshippers" of this extraordinary people. We say worshippers, for the Badagas clothe, feed, serve, and positively look upon every Toda as a divinity. They are giants in stature, white as Europeans, with tremendously long and generally brown, wavy hair and beard, which no razor ever touched from birth. Handsome as a statue of Pheidias or Praxiteles, the Toda sits the whole day inactive, as some travellers who have had a glance at them affirm. From the many conflicting opinions and statements we have heard from the very residents of Ootakamund and other little new places of civilization scattered about the Neilgherry Hills, we cull the following:
"They never use water; they are wonderfully handsome and noble looking, but extremely unclean; unlike all other natives they despise jewelry, and never wear anything but a large black drapery or blanket of some woollen stuff, with a colored stripe at the bottom; they never drink anything but pure milk; they have herds of cattle but neither eat their flesh, nor do they make their beasts of labor plough or work; they neither sell nor buy; the Badagas feed and clothe them; they never use nor carry weapons, not even a simple stick; the Todas can't read and won't learn. They are the despair of the missionaries and apparently have no sort of religion, beyond the worship of themselves as the Lords of Creation."*
We will try to correct a few of these opinions, as far as we have learned from a very holy personage, a Brahmanam-guru, who has our great respect.
Nobody has ever seen more than five or six of them at one time; they will not talk with foreigners, nor was any traveller ever inside their peculiar long and flat huts, which apparently are without either windows or chimney and have but one door; nobody ever saw the funeral of a Toda, nor very old men among them; nor are they taken sick with cholera, while thousands die around them during such periodical epidemics; finally, though the country all around swarms with tigers and other wild beasts, neither tiger, serpent, nor any other animal so ferocious in those parts, was ever known to touch either a Toda or one of their cattle, though, as said above, they never use even a stick.
Furthermore the Todas do not marry at all. They seem few in number, for no one has or ever will have a chance of numbering them; as soon as their solitude was profaned by the avalanche of civilization --
* See "Indian Sketches"; Appleton's "New Cyclopedia," etc.
which was, perchance, due to their own carelessness — the Todas began moving away to other parts as unknown and more inaccessible than the Neilgherry hills had formerly been; they are not born of Toda mothers, nor of Toda parentage; they are the children of a certain very select sect, and are set apart from their infancy for special religious purposes. Recognized by a peculiarity of complexion, and certain other signs, such a child is known as what is vulgarly termed a Toda, from birth. Every third year, each of them must repair to a certain place for a certain period of time, where each of them must meet; their "dirt" is but a mask, such as a sannyasi puts on in public in obedience to his vow; their cattle are, for the most part, devoted to sacred uses; and, though their places of worship have never been trodden by a profane foot, they nevertheless exist, and perhaps rival the most splendid pagodas — goparams — known to Europeans. The Badagas are their special vassals, and — as has been truly remarked — worship them as half-deities; for their birth and mysterious powers entitle them to such a distinction.
The reader may rest assured that any statements concerning them, that clash with the little that is above given, are false. No missionary will ever catch one with his bait, nor any Badaga betray them, though he were cut to pieces. They are a people who fulfill a certain high purpose, and whose secrets are inviolable.
Furthermore, the Todas are not the only such mysterious tribe in India. We have named several in a preceding chapter, but how many are there besides these, that will remain unnamed, unrecognized, and yet ever present!
What is now generally known of Shamanism is very little; and that has been perverted, like the rest of the non-Christian religions. It is called the "heathenism" of Mongolia, and wholly without reason, for it is one of the oldest religions of India. It is spirit-worship, or belief in the immortality of the souls, and that the latter are still the same men they were on earth, though their bodies have lost their objective form, and man has exchanged his physical for a spiritual nature. In its present shape, it is an offshoot of primitive theurgy, and a practical blending of the visible with the invisible world. Whenever a denizen of earth desires to enter into communication with his invisible brethren, he has to assimilate himself to their nature, i.e., he meets these beings half-way, and, furnished by them with a supply of spiritual essence, endows them, in his turn, with a portion of his physical nature, thus enabling them sometimes to appear in a semi-objective form. It is a temporary exchange of natures, called theurgy. Shamans are called sorcerers, because they are said to evoke the "spirits" of the dead for purposes of necromancy. The true Shamanism — striking features of which prevailed in India in the days
of Megasthenes (300 B.C.) — can no more be judged by its degenerated scions among the Shamans of Siberia, than the religion of Gautama-Buddha can be interpreted by the fetishism of some of his followers in Siam and Burmah. It is in the chief lamaseries of Mongolia and Thibet that it has taken refuge; and there Shamanism, if so we must call it, is practiced to the utmost limits of intercourse allowed between man and "spirit." The religion of the lamas has faithfully preserved the primitive science of magic, and produces as great feats now as it did in the days of Kublai-Khan and his barons. The ancient mystic formula of the King Srong-ch-Tsans-Gampo, the "Aum mani padme houm,"* effects its wonders now as well as in the seventh century. Avalokitesvara, highest of the three Boddhisattvas, and patron saint of Thibet, projects his shadow, full in the view of the faithful, at the lamasery of Dga-G'Dan, founded by him; and the luminous form of Son-Ka-pa, under the shape of a fiery cloudlet, that separates itself from the dancing beams of the sunlight, holds converse with a great congregation of lamas, numbering thousands; the voice descending from above, like the whisper of the breeze through foliage. Anon, say the Thibetans, the beautiful appearance vanishes in the shadows of the sacred trees in the park of the lamasery.
At Garma-Khian (the mother-cloister) it is rumored that bad and unprogressed spirits are made to appear on certain days, and forced to give an account of their evil deeds; they are compelled by the lamaic adepts to redress the wrongs done by them to mortals. This is what Huc naively terms "personating evil spirits," i.e., devils. Were the skeptics of various European countries permitted to consult the accounts printed daily** at Moru, and in the "City of Spirits," of the business-like intercourse which takes place between the lamas and the invisible world, they would certainly feel more interest in the phenomena described so triumphantly in the spiritualistic journals. At Buddha-Ila, or rather Foht-lla (Buddha's Mount), in the most important of the many thousand lamaseries of that country, the sceptre of the Boddhisgat is seen floating, unsupported, in the air, and its motions regulate the actions of the community. Whenever a lama is called to account in the presence of the Superior of
* Aum (mystic Sanscrit term of the Trinity), mani (holy jewel), padme (in the lotus, padma being the name for lotus), houm (be it so). The six syllables in the sentence correspond to the six chief powers of nature emanating from Buddha (the abstract deity, not Gautama), who is the seventh, and the Alpha and Omega of being.
** Moru (the pure) is one of the most famous lamaseries of Lha-Ssa, directly in the centre of the city. There the Shaberon, the Taley Lama, resides the greater portion of the winter months; during two or three months of the warm season his abode is at Foht-lla. At Moru is the largest typographical establishment of the country.
the monastery, he knows beforehand it is useless for him to tell an untruth; the "regulator of justice" (the sceptre) is there, and its waving motion, either approbatory or otherwise, decides instantaneously and unerringly the question of his guilt. We do not pretend to have witnessed all this personally — we wish to make no pretensions of any kind. Suffice it, with respect to any of these phenomena, that what we have not seen with our own eyes has been so substantiated to us that we indorse its genuineness.
A number of lamas in Sikkin produce meipo — "miracle" — by magical powers. The late Patriarch of Mongolia, Gegen Chutuktu, who resided at Urga, a veritable paradise, was the sixteenth incarnation of Gautama, therefore a Boddhisattva. He had the reputation of possessing powers that were phenomenal, even among the thaumaturgists of the land of miracles par excellence. Let no one suppose that these powers are developed without cost. The lives of most of these holy men, miscalled idle vagrants, cheating beggars, who are supposed to pass their existence in preying upon the easy credulity of their victims, are miracles in themselves. Miracles, because they show what a determined will and perfect purity of life and purpose are able to accomplish, and to what degree of preternatural ascetism a human body can be subjected and yet live and reach a ripe old age. No Christian hermit has ever dreamed of such refinement of monastic discipline; and the aerial habitation of a Simon Stylite would appear child's play before the fakir's and the Buddhist's inventions of will-tests. But the theoretical study of magic is one thing; the possibility of practicing it quite another. At Bras-ss-Pungs, the Mongolian college where over three hundred magicians (sorciers, as the French missionaries call them) teach about twice as many pupils from twelve to twenty, the latter have many years to wait for their final initiation. Not one in a hundred reaches the highest goal; and out of the many thousand lamas occupying nearly an entire city of detached buildings clustering around it, not more than two per cent. become wonder-workers. One may learn by heart every line of the 108 volumes of Kadjur,* and still make but a poor practical magician. There is but one thing which leads surely to it, and this particular study is hinted at by more than one Hermetic writer. One, the Arabian alchemist Abipili, speaks thus: "I admonish thee, whosoever thou art that desirest to dive into the inmost parts of nature; if that thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. If thou knowest not the excellency of thine own house, why dost thou seek after the ex-
* The Buddhist great canon, containing 1,083 works in several hundred volumes, many of which treat of magic.
cellency of other things? . . . O MAN, KNOW THYSELF! IN THEE IS HID THE TREASURE OF TREASURES."
In another alchemic tract, De manna Benedicto, the author expresses his ideas of the philosopher's stone, in the following terms: "My intent is for certain reasons not to prate too much of the matter, which yet is but one only thing, already too plainly described; for it shows and sets down such magical and natural uses of it [the stone] as many that have had it never knew nor heard of; and such as, when I beheld them, made my knees to tremble and my heart to shake, and I to stand amazed at the sight of them!"
Every neophyte has experienced more or less such a feeling; but once that it is overcome, the man is an ADEPT.
Within the cloisters of Dshashi-Lumbo and Si-Dzang, these powers, inherent in every man, called out by so few, are cultivated to their utmost perfection. Who, in India, has not heard of the Banda-Chan Ramboutchi, the Houtouktou of the capital of Higher Thibet? His brotherhood of Khe-lan was famous throughout the land; and one of the most famous "brothers" was a Peh-ling (an Englishman) who had arrived one day during the early part of this century, from the West, a thorough Buddhist, and after a month's preparation was admitted among the Khe-lans. He spoke every language, including the Thibetan, and knew every art and science, says the tradition. His sanctity and the phenomena produced by him caused him to be proclaimed a shaberon after a residence of but a few years. His memory lives to the present day among the Thibetans, but his real name is a secret with the shaberons alone.
The greatest of the meipo — said to be the object of the ambition of every Buddhist devotee — was, and yet is, the faculty of walking in the air. The famous King of Siam, Pia Metak, the Chinese, was noted for his devotion and learning. But he attained this "supernatural gift" only after having placed himself under the direct tuition of a priest of Gautama-Buddha. Crawfurd and Finlayson, during their residence at Siam, followed with great interest the endeavors of some Siamese nobles to acquire this faculty.*
Numerous and varied are the sects in China, Siam, Tartary, Thibet, Kashmir, and British India, which devote their lives to the cultivation of "supernatural powers," so called. Discussing one of such sects, the Taosse, Semedo says: "They pretend that by means of certain exercises and meditations one shall regain his youth, and others will attain to be Shien-sien, i.e., 'Terrestrial Beati,' in whose state every desire is gratified, whilst they have the power to transport themselves from one place to
* "Crawfurd's Mission to Siam," p. 182.
another, however distant, with speed and facility."* This faculty relates but to the projection of the astral entity, in a more or less corporealized form, and certainly not to bodily transportation. This phenomenon is no more a miracle than one's reflection in a looking-glass. No one can detect in such an image a particle of matter, and still there stands our double, faithfully representing, even to each single hair on our heads. If, by this simple law of reflection, our double can be seen in a mirror, how much more striking a proof of its existence is afforded in the art of photography! It is no reason, because our physicists have not yet found the means of taking photographs, except at a short distance, that the acquirement should be impossible to those who have found these means in the power of the human will itself, freed from terrestrial concern.** Our thoughts are matter, says science; every energy produces more or less of a disturbance in the atmospheric waves. Therefore, as every man — in common with every other living, and even inert object — has an aura of his own emanations surrounding him; and, moreover, is enabled, by a trifling effort, to transport himself in imagination wherever he likes, why is it scientifically impossible that his thought, regulated, intensified, and guided by that powerful magician, the educated WILL, may become corporealized for the time being, and appear to whom it likes, a faithful double of the original? Is the proposition, in the present state of science, any more unthinkable than the photograph or telegraph were less than forty years ago, or the telephone less than fourteen months ago?
If the sensitized plate can so accurately seize upon the shadow of our faces, then this shadow or reflection, although we are unable to perceive it, must be something substantial. And, if we can, with the help of
* "Semedo," vol. iii., p. 114.
** There was an anecdote current among Daguerre's friends between 1838 and 1840. At an evening party, Madame Daguerre, some two months previous to the introduction of the celebrated Daguerrean process to the Academie des Sciences, by Arago (January, 1839), had an earnest consultation with one of the medical celebrities of the day about her husband's mental condition. After explaining to the physician the numerous symptoms of what she believed to be her husband's mental aberration, she added, with tears in her eyes, that the greatest proof to her of Daguerre's insanity was his firm conviction that he would succeed in nailing his own shadow to the wall, or fixing it on magical metallic plates. The physician listened to the intelligence very attentively, and answered that he had himself observed in Daguerre lately the strongest symptoms of what, to his mind, was an undeniable proof of madness. He closed the conversation by firmly advising her to send her husband quietly and without delay to Bicetre, the well-known lunatic asylum. Two months later a profound interest was created in the world of art and science by the exhibition of a number of pictures taken by the new process. The shadows were fixed, after all, upon metallic plates, and the "lunatic" proclaimed the father of photography.
optical instruments, project our semblances upon a white wall, at several hundred feet distance, sometimes, then there is no reason why the adepts, the alchemists, the savants of the secret art, should not have already found out that which scientists deny to-day, but may discover true tomorrow, i.e., how to project electrically their astral bodies, in an instant, through thousands of miles of space, leaving their material shells with a certain amount of animal vital principle to keep the physical life going, and acting within their spiritual, ethereal bodies as safely and intelligently as when clothed with the covering of flesh? There is a higher form of electricity than the physical one known to experimenters; a thousand correlations of the latter are as yet veiled to the eye of the modern physicist, and none can tell where end its possibilities.
Schott explains that by Sian or Shin-Sian are understood in the old Chinese conception, and particularly in that of the Tao-Kiao (Taosse) sect, "persons who withdraw to the hills to lead the life of anchorites, and who have attained, either through their ascetic observances or by the power of charms and elixirs, to the possession of miraculous gifts and of terrestrial immortality."* (?) This is exaggerated if not altogether erroneous. What they claim, is merely their ability to prolong human life; and they can do so, if we have to believe human testimony. What Marco Polo testifies to in the thirteenth century is corroborated in our own days. "There are another class of people called Chughi" (Yogi), he says, "who are indeed properly called Abraiamans (Brahmans?) who are extremely long-lived, every man of them living to 150 or 200 years. They eat very little, rice and milk chiefly. And these people make use of a very strange beverage, a potion of sulphur and quicksilver mixed together, and this they drink twice every month. . . . This, they say, gives them long life; and it is a potion they are used to take from their childhood."** Bernier shows, says Colonel Yule, the Yogis very skilful in preparing mercury "so admirably that one or two grains taken every morning restored the body to perfect health"; and adds that the mercurius vitae of Paracelsus was a compound in which entered antimony and quicksilver.** This is a very careless statement, to say the least, and we will explain what we know of it.
The longevity of some lamas and Talapoins is proverbial; and it is generally known that they use some compound which "renews the old blood," as they call it. And it was equally a recognized fact with alchemists that a judicious administration, "of aura of silver does restore
* Schott: "Uber den Buddhismus," p. 71.
** "The Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. ii., p. 352.
*** Ibid., vol. ii., p. 130, quoted by Col. Yule in vol. ii., p. 353.
health and prolongs life itself to a wonderful extent." But we are fully prepared to oppose the statements of both Bernier and Col. Yule who quotes him, that it is mercury or quicksilver which the Yogis and the alchemists used. The Yogis, in the days of Marco Polo, as well as in our modern times, do use that which may appear to be quicksilver, but is not. Paracelsus, the alchemists, and other mystics, meant by mercurius vitae, the living spirit of silver, the aura of silver, not the argent vive; and this aura is certainly not the mercury known to our physicians and druggists. There can be no doubt that the imputation that Paracelsus introduced mercury into medical practice is utterly incorrect. No mercury, whether prepared by a mediaeval fire-philosopher or a modern self-styled physician, can or ever did restore the body to perfect health. Only an unmitigated charlatan ever will use such a drug. And it is the opinion of many that it is just with the wicked intention of presenting Paracelsus in the eyes of posterity as a quack, that his enemies have invented such a preposterous lie.
The Yogis of the olden times, as well as modern lamas and Talapoins, use a certain ingredient with a minimum of sulphur, and a milky juice which they extract from a medicinal plant. They must certainly be possessed of some wonderful secrets, as we have seen them healing the most rebellious wounds in a few days; restoring broken bones to good use in as many hours as it would take days to do by means of common surgery. A fearful fever contracted by the writer near Rangoon, after a flood of the Irrawaddy River, was cured in a few hours by the juice of a plant called, if we mistake not, Kukushan, though there may be thousands of natives ignorant of its virtues who are left to die of fever. This was in return for a trifling kindness we had done to a simple mendicant; a service which can interest the reader but little.
We have heard of a certain water, also, called ab-i-hayat, which the popular superstition thinks hidden from every mortal eye, except that of the holy sannyasi; the fountain itself being known as the ab-i-haiwan-i. It is more than probable though, that the Talapoins will decline to deliver up their secrets, even to academicians and missionaries; as these remedies must be used for the benefit of humanity, never for money.*
* No country in the world can boast of more medicinal plants than Southern India, Cochin, Burmah, Siam, and Ceylon. European physicians — according to time-honored practice — settle the case of professional rivalship, by treating the native doctors as quacks and empirics; but this does not prevent the latter from being often successful in cases in which eminent graduates of British and French schools of Medicine have signally failed. Native works on Materia Medica do not certainly contain the secret remedies known, and successfully applied by the native doctors (the Atibba), from time immemorial; and yet the best febrifuges have been learned by British physicians from the [[Footnote continued on next page]]
At the great festivals of Hindu pagodas, at the marriage feasts of rich high-castes, everywhere where large crowds are gathered, Europeans find guni — or serpent-charmers, fakirs-mesmerizers, thaum-working sannyasi, and so-called "jugglers." To deride is easy — to explain, rather more troublesome — to science impossible. The British residents of India and the travellers prefer the first expedient. But let any one ask one of these Thomases how the following results — which they cannot and do not deny — are produced? When crowds of guni and fakirs appear with their bodies encircled with cobras-de-capello, their arms ornamented with bracelets of corallilos — diminutive snakes inflicting certain death in a few seconds — and their shoulders with necklaces of trigonocephali, the most terrible enemy of naked Hindu feet, whose bite kills like a flash of lightning, the sceptic witness smiles and gravely proceeds to explain how these reptiles, having been thrown in cataleptic torpor, were all deprived by the guni of their fangs. "They are harmless and it is ridiculous to fear them." "Will the Saeb caress one of my nag?" asked once a guni approaching our interlocutor, who had been thus humbling his listeners with his herpetological achievements for a full half hour. Rapidly jumping back — the brave warrior's feet proving no less nimble than his tongue — Captain B----'s angry answer could hardly be immortalized by us in print. Only the guni's terrible body-guard saved him from an unceremonious thrashing. Besides, say a word, and for a half-roupee any professional serpent-charmer will begin creeping about and summon around in a few moments numbers of untamed serpents of the most poisonous species, and will handle them and encircle his body with them. On two occasions in the neighborhood of Trinkemal a serpent was ready to strike at the writer, who had once nearly sat on its tail, but both times, at a rapid whistle of the guni whom we had hired to accompany us, it stopped — hardly a few inches from our body, as if arrested by lightning and slowly sinking its menacing head to the ground, remained stiff and motionless as a dead branch, under the charm of the kilna.*
Will any European juggler, tamer, or even mesmerizer, risk repeating just once an experiment that may be daily witnessed in India, if you know where to go to see it? There is nothing in the world more ferocious than a royal Bengal tiger. Once the whole population of a small village, not far from Dakka, situated on the confines of a jungle, was
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] Hindus, and where patients, deafened and swollen by abuse of quinine, were slowly dying of fever under the treatment of enlightened physicians, the bark of the Margosa, and the Chiretta herb have cured them completely, and these now occupy an honorable place among European drugs.
* The Hindu appellation for the peculiar mantram or charm which prevents the serpent from biting.
thrown into a panic at the appearance of an enormous tigress, at the dawn of the day. These wild beasts never leave their dens but at night, when they go searching for prey and for water. But this unusual circumstance was due to the fact that the beast was a mother, and she had been deprived of her two cubs, which had been carried away by a daring hunter, and she was in search of them. Two men and a child had already become her victims, when an aged fakir, bent on his daily round, emerging from the gate of the pagoda, saw the situation and understood it at a glance. Chanting a mantram he went straight to the beast, which with flaming eye and foaming mouth crouched near a tree ready for a new victim. When at about ten feet from the tigress, without interrupting his modulated prayer, the words of which no layman comprehends, he began a regular process of mesmerization, as we understood it; he made passes. A terrific howl which struck a chill into the heart of every human being in the place, was then heard. This long, ferocious, drawling howl gradually subsided into a series of plaintive broken sobs, as if the bereaved mother was uttering her complaints, and then, to the terror of the crowd which had taken refuge on trees and in the houses, the beast made a tremendous leap — on the holy man as they thought. They were mistaken, she was at his feet, rolling in the dust, and writhing. A few moments more and she remained motionless, with her enormous head laid on her fore-paws, and her bloodshot but now mild eye riveted on the face of the fakir. Then the holy man of prayers sat beside the tigress and tenderly smoothed her striped skin, and patted her back, until her groans became fainter and fainter, and half an hour later all the village was standing around this group; the fakir's head lying on the tigress's back as on a pillow, his right hand on her head, and his left thrown on the sod under the terrible mouth, from which the long red protruding tongue was gently licking it.
This is the way the fakirs tame the wildest beasts in India. Can European tamers, with their white-hot iron rods, do as much? Of course every fakir is not endowed with such a power; comparatively very few are. And yet the actual number is large. How they are trained to these requirements in the pagodas will remain an eternal secret, to all except the Brahmans and the adepts in occult mysteries. The stories, hitherto considered fables, of Christna and Orpheus charming the wild beasts, thus receives its corroboration in our day. There is one fact which remains undeniable. There is not a single European in India who could have, or has ever boasted of having, penetrated into the enclosed sanctuary within the pagodas. Neither authority nor money has ever induced a Brahman to allow an uninitiated foreigner to pass the threshold of the reserved precinct. To use authority in such a case would be equivalent
to throwing a lighted taper into a powder magazine. The Hindus, mild, patient, long-suffering, whose very apathy saved the British from being driven out of the country in 1857, would raise their hundred millions of devotees as one man, at such a profanation; regardless of sects or castes, they would exterminate every Christian. The East India Company knew this well and built her stronghold on the friendship of the Brahmans, and by paying subsidy to the pagodas; and the British Government is as prudent as its predecessor. It is the castes, and non-interference with the prevailing religions, that secure its comparative authority in India. But we must once more recur to Shamanism, that strange and most despised of all surviving religions — "Spirit-worship."
Its followers have neither altars nor idols, and it is upon the authority of a Shaman priest that we state that their true rites, which they are bound to perform only once a year, on the shortest day of winter, cannot take place before any stranger to their faith. Therefore, we are confident that all descriptions hitherto given in the Asiatic Journal and other European works, are but guess-work. The Russians, who, from constant intercourse with the Shamans in Siberia and Tartary, would be the most competent of all persons to judge of their religion, have learned nothing except of the personal proficiency of these men in what they are half inclined to believe clever jugglery. Many Russian residents, though, in Siberia, are firmly convinced of the "supernatural" powers of the Shamans. Whenever they assemble to worship, it is always in an open space, or a high hill, or in the hidden depths of a forest — in this reminding us of the old Druidical rites. Their ceremonies upon the occasions of births, deaths, and marriages are but trifling parts of their worship. They comprise offerings, the sprinkling of the fire with spirits and milk, and weird hymns, or rather, magical incantations, intoned by the officiating Shaman, and concluding with a chorus of the persons present.
The numerous small bells of brass and iron worn by them on the priestly robe of deerskin,* or the pelt of some other animal reputed magnetic, are used to drive away the malevolent spirits of the air, a super-
* Between the bells of the "heathen" worshippers, and the bells and pomegranates of the Jewish worship, the difference is this: the former, besides purifying the soul of man with their harmonious tones, kept evil demons at a distance, "for the sound of pure bronze breaks the enchantment," says Tibullius (i., 8-22), and the latter explained it by saying that the sound of the bells "should be heard [by the Lord] when he [the priest] goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he goeth out, that he die not" (Exodus xxviii. 33; Eccles. xiv. 9). Thus, one sound served to keep away evil spirits, and the other, the Spirit of Jehovah. The Scandinavian traditions affirm that the Trolls were always driven from their abodes by the bells of the churches. A similar tradition is in existence in relation to the fairies of Great Britain.
stition shared by all the nations of old, including Romans, and even the Jews, whose golden bells tell the story. They have iron staves also covered with bells, for the same reason. When, after certain ceremonies, the desired crisis is reached, and "the spirit has spoken," and the priest (who may be either male or female) feels its overpowering influence, the hand of the Shaman is drawn by some occult power toward the top of the staff, which is commonly covered with hieroglyphics. With his palm pressing upon it, he is then raised to a considerable height in the air, where he remains for some time. Sometimes he leaps to an extraordinary height, and, according to the control — for he is often but an irresponsible medium — pours out prophecies and describes future events. Thus, it was that, in 1847, a Shaman in a distant part of Siberia prophesied and accurately detailed the issue of the Crimean war. The particulars of the prognostication being carefully noted by those present at the time, were all verified six years after this occurrence. Although usually ignorant of even the name of astronomy, let alone having studied this science, they often prophesy eclipses and other astronomical phenomena. When consulted about thefts and murders, they invariably point out the guilty parties.
The Shamans of Siberia are all ignorant and illiterate. Those of Tartary and Thibet — few in number — are mostly learned men in their own way, and will not allow themselves to fall under the control of spirits of any kind. The former are mediums in the full sense of the word; the latter, "magicians." It is not surprising that pious and superstitious persons, after seeing one of such crises, should declare the Shaman to be under demoniacal possession. As in the instances of Corybantic and Bacchantic fury among the ancient Greeks, the "spiritual" crisis of the Shaman exhibits itself in violent dancing and wild gestures. Little by little the lookers-on feel the spirit of imitation aroused in them; seized with an irresistible impulse, they dance, and become, in their turn, ecstatics; and he who begins by joining the chorus, gradually and unconsciously takes part in the gesticulations, until he sinks to the ground exhausted, and often dying.
"O, young girl, a god possesses thee! it is either Pan, or Hekate, or, the venerable Corybantes, or Cybele that agitates thee!" the chorus says, addressing Phaedra, in Euripides. This form of psychological epidemic has been too well known from the time of the middle ages to cite instances from it. The Choroea sancti Viti is an historical fact, and spread throughout Germany. Paracelsus cured quite a number of persons possessed of such a spirit of imitation. But he was a kabalist, and therefore accused, by his enemies, of having cast out the devils by the power of a stronger demon, which he was believed to carry about with
him in the hilt of his sword. The Christian judges of those days of horror found a better and a surer remedy. Voltaire states that, in the district of Jura, between 1598 and 1600, over 600 Lycanthropes were put to death by a pious judge.
But, while the illiterate Shaman is a victim, and during his crisis sometimes sees the persons present, under the shape of various animals, and often makes them share his hallucination, his brother Shaman, learned in the mysteries of the priestly colleges of Thibet, expels the elementary creature, which can produce the hallucination as well as a living mesmerizer, not through the help of a stronger demon, but simply through his knowledge of the nature of the invisible enemy. Where academicians have failed, as in the cases of the Cevennois, a Shaman or a lama would have soon put an end to the epidemic.
We have mentioned a kind of carnelian stone in our possession, which had such an unexpected and favorable effect upon the Shaman's decision. Every Shaman has such a talisman, which he wears attached to a string, and carries under his left arm.
"Of what use is it to you, and what are its virtues?" was the question we often offered to our guide. To this he never answered directly, but evaded all explanation, promising that as soon as an opportunity was offered, and we were alone, he would ask the stone to answer for himself. With this very indefinite hope, we were left to the resources of our own imagination.
But the day on which the stone "spoke" came very soon. It was during the most critical hours of our life; at a time when the vagabond nature of a traveller had carried the writer to far-off lands, where neither civilization is known, nor security can be guaranteed for one hour. One afternoon, as every man and woman had left the yourta (Tartar tent), that had been our home for over two months, to witness the ceremony of the Lamaic exorcism of a Tshoutgour,* accused of breaking and spiriting away every bit of the poor furniture and earthenware of a family living about two miles distant, the Shaman, who had become our only protector in those dreary deserts, was reminded of his promise. He sighed and hesitated; but, after a short silence, left his place on the sheepskin, and, going outside, placed a dried-up goat's head with its prominent horns over a wooden peg, and then dropping down the felt curtain of the tent, remarked that now no living person would venture in, for the goat's head was a sign that he was "at work."
After that, placing his hand in his bosom, he drew out the little stone, about the size of a walnut, and, carefully unwrapping it, proceeded, as it
* An elemental daemon, in which every native of Asia believes.
appeared, to swallow it. In a few moments his limbs stiffened, his body became rigid, and he fell, cold and motionless as a corpse. But for a slight twitching of his lips at every question asked, the scene would have been embarrassing, nay — dreadful. The sun was setting, and were it not that dying embers flickered at the centre of the tent, complete darkness would have been added to the oppressive silence which reigned. We have lived in the prairies of the West, and in the boundless steppes of Southern Russia; but nothing can be compared with the silence at sunset on the sandy deserts of Mongolia; not even the barren solitudes of the deserts of Africa, though the former are partially inhabited, and the latter utterly void of life. Yet, there was the writer alone with what looked no better than a corpse lying on the ground. Fortunately, this state did not last long.
"Mahandu!" uttered a voice, which seemed to come from the bowels of the earth, on which the Shaman was prostrated. "Peace be with you . . . what would you have me do for you?"
Startling as the fact seemed, we were quite prepared for it, for we had seen other Shamans pass through similar performances. "Whoever you are," we pronounced mentally, "go to K----, and try to bring that person's thought here. See what that other party does, and tell * * * what we are doing and how situated."
"I am there"; answered the same voice. "The old lady (kokona)* is sitting in the garden . . . she is putting on her spectacles and reading a letter."
"The contents of it, and hasten," was the hurried order while preparing note-book and pencil. The contents were given slowly, as if, while dictating, the invisible presence desired to afford us time to put down the words phonetically, for we recognized the Valachian language of which we know nothing beyond the ability to recognize it. In such a way a whole page was filled.
"Look west . . . toward the third pole of the yourta," pronounced the Tartar in his natural voice, though it sounded hollow, and as if coming from afar. "Her thought is here."
Then with a convulsive jerk, the upper portion of the Shaman's body seemed raised, and his head fell heavily on the writer's feet, which he clutched with both his hands. The position was becoming less and less attractive, but curiosity proved a good ally to courage. In the west corner was standing, life-like but flickering, unsteady and mist-like, the form of a dear old friend, a Roumanian lady of Valachia, a mystic by disposition, but a thorough disbeliever in this kind of occult phenomena.
* Lady, or Madam, in Moldavian.
"Her thought is here, but her body is lying unconscious. We could not bring her here otherwise," said the voice.
We addressed and supplicated the apparition to answer, but all in vain. The features moved, and the form gesticulated as if in fear and agony, but no sound broke forth from the shadowy lips; only we imagined — perchance it was a fancy — hearing as if from a long distance the Roumanian words, "Non se pote" (it cannot be done).
For over two hours, the most substantial, unequivocal proofs that the Shaman's astral soul was travelling at the bidding of our unspoken wish, were given us. Ten months later, we received a letter from our Valachian friend in response to ours, in which we had enclosed the page from the note-book, inquiring of her what she had been doing on that day, and describing the scene in full. She was sitting — she wrote — in the garden on that morning* prosaically occupied in boiling some conserves; the letter sent to her was word for word the copy of the one received by her from her brother; all at once — in consequence of the heat, she thought — she fainted, and remembered distinctly dreaming she saw the writer in a desert place which she accurately described, and sitting under a "gypsy's tent," as she expressed it. "Henceforth," she added, "I can doubt no longer!"
But our experiment was proved still better. We had directed the Shaman's inner ego to the same friend heretofore mentioned in this chapter, the Kutchi of Lha-Ssa, who travels constantly to British India and back. We know that he was apprised of our critical situation in the desert; for a few hours later came help, and we were rescued by a party of twenty-five horsemen who had been directed by their chief to find us at the place where we were, which no living man endowed with common powers could have known. The chief of this escort was a Shaberon, an "adept" whom we had never seen before, nor did we after that, for he never left his soumay (lamasery), and we could have no access to it. But he was a personal friend of the Kutchi.
The above will of course provoke naught but incredulity in the general reader. But we write for those who will believe; who, like the writer, understand and know the illimitable powers and possibilities of the human astral soul. In this case we willingly believe, nay, we know, that the "spiritual double" of the Shaman did not act alone, for he was no adept, but simply a medium. According to a favorite expression of his, as soon as he placed the stone in his mouth, his "father appeared, dragged him out of his skin, and took him wherever he wanted," and at his bidding.
* The hour in Bucharest corresponded perfectly with that of the country in which the scene had taken place.
one who has only witnessed the chemical, optical, mechanical, and sleight-of-hand performances of European prestidigitateurs, is not prepared to see, without amazement, the open-air and off-hand exhibitions of Hindu jugglers, to say nothing of fakirs. Of the mere displays of deceptive dexterity we make no account, for Houdin and others far excel them in that respect; or do we dwell upon feats that permit of confederacy, whether resorted to or not. It is unquestionably true that non-expert travellers, especially if of an imaginative turn of mind, exaggerate inordinately. But our remark is based upon a class of phenomena not to be accounted for upon any of the familiar hypotheses. "I have seen," says a gentleman who resided in India, "a man throw up into the air a number of balls numbered in succession from one upwards. As each went up — and there was no deception about their going up — the ball was seen clearly in the air, getting smaller and smaller, till it disappeared altogether out of sight. When they were all up, twenty or more, the operator would politely ask which ball you wanted to see, and then would shout out, 'No. 1,' 'No. 15,' and so on, as instructed by the spectators, when the ball demanded would bound to his feet violently from some remote distance. . . . These fellows have very scanty clothing, and apparently no apparatus whatever. Then, I have seen them swallow three different colored powders, and then, throwing back the head, wash them down with water, drunk, in the native fashion, in a continuous stream from a lotah, or brass-pot, held at arm's length from the lips, and keep on drinking till the swollen body could not hold another drop, and water overflowed from the lips. Then, these fellows, after squirting out the water in their mouths, have spat out the three powders on a clean piece of paper, dry and unmixed."*
In the eastern portion of Turkey and Persia, have dwelt, from time immemorial, the warlike tribes of the Koordistan. This people of purely Indo-European origin, and without a drop of Semitic blood in them (though some ethnologists seem to think otherwise), notwithstanding their brigand-like disposition, unite in themselves the mysticism of the Hindu and the practices of the Assyrio-Chaldean magians, vast portions of whose territory they have helped themselves to, and will not give up, to please either Turkey or even all Europe.** Nominally, Mahometans of the sect of Omar, their rites and doctrines are purely magical and magian. Even those who are Christian Nestorians, are Christians but in name. The Kaldany, numbering nearly 100,000 men,
* Capt. W. L. D. O'Grady: "Life in India."
** Neither Russia nor England succeeded in 1849 in forcing them to recognize and respect the Turkish from the Persian territory.
and with their two Patriarchs, are undeniably rather Manicheans than Nestorians. Many of them are Yezids.
One of these tribes is noted for its fire-worshipping predilections. At sunrise and sunset, the horsemen alight and, turning towards the sun, mutter a prayer; while at every new moon they perform mysterious rites throughout the whole night. They have a tent set apart for the purpose, and its thick, black, woolen fabric is decorated with weird signs, worked in bright red and yellow. In the centre is placed a kind of altar, encircled by three brass bands, to which are suspended numerous rings by ropes of camel's hair, which every worshipper holds with his right hand during the ceremony. On the altar burns a curious, old-fashioned silver lamp, a relic found possibly among the ruins of Persepolis.* This lamp, with three wicks, is an oblong cup with a handle to it, and is evidently of the class of Egyptian sepulchral lamps, once found in such profusion in the subterranean caves of Memphis, if we may believe Kircher.** It widened from its end toward the middle, and its upper part was of the shape of a heart; the apertures for the wicks forming a triangle, and its centre being covered by an inverted heliotrope attached to a gracefully-curved stalk proceeding from the handle of the lamp. This ornament clearly bespoke its origin. It was one of the sacred vessels used in sun-worship. The Greeks gave the heliotrope its name from its strange propensity to ever incline towards the sun. The ancient Magi used it in their worship; and who knows but Darius had performed the mysterious rites with its triple light illuminating the face of the king-hierophant!
If we mention the lamp at all, it is because there happened to be a strange story in connection with it. What the Koords do, during their nocturnal rites of lunar-worship, we know but from hearsay; for they conceal it carefully, and no stranger could be admitted to witness the ceremony. But every tribe has one old man, sometimes several, regarded as "holy beings," who know the past, and can divulge the secrets of the future. These are greatly honored, and generally resorted to for information in cases of theft, murders, or danger.
Travelling from one tribe to the other, we passed some time in company with these Koords. As our object is not autobiographical, we omit all details that have no immediate bearing upon some occult fact, and even of these, have room but for a few. We will then simply state
* Persepolis is the Persian Istakhaar, northeast of Shiraz; it stood on a plain now called Merdusht. At the confluence of the ancient Medus and the Araxes, now Pulwan and Bend-emir.
** "AEgyptiaci Theatrum Hierogliphicum," p. 544.
that a very expensive saddle, a carpet, and two Circassian daggers, richly mounted and chiselled in gold, had been stolen from the tent, and that the Koords, with the chief of the tribe at the head, had come, taking Allah for their witness that the culprit could not belong to their tribe. We believed it, for it would have been unprecedented among these nomadic tribes of Asia, as famed for the sacredness in which they hold their guests, as for the ease with which they plunder and occasionally murder them, when once they have passed the boundaries of their aoul.
A suggestion was then made by a Georgian belonging to our caravan to have resort to the light of the koodian (sorcerer) of their tribe. This was arranged in great secrecy and solemnity, and the interview appointed to take place at midnight, when the moon would be at its full. At the stated hour we were conducted to the above-described tent.
A large hole, or square aperture, was managed in the arched roof of the tent, and through it poured in vertically the radiant moonbeams, mingling with the vacillating triple flame of the little lamp. After several minutes of incantations, addressed, as it seemed to us, to the moon, the conjurer, an old man of tremendous stature, whose pyramidal turban touched the top of the tent, produced a round looking-glass, of the kind known as "Persian mirrors." Having unscrewed its cover, he then proceeded to breathe on it, for over ten minutes, and wipe off the moisture from the surface with a package of herbs, muttering incantations the while sotto voce. After every wiping the glass became more and more brilliant, till its crystal seemed to radiate refulgent phosphoric rays in every direction. At last the operation was ended; the old man, with the mirror in his hand, remained as motionless as if he had been a statue. "Look, Hanoum . . . look steadily," he whispered, hardly moving his lips. Shadows and dark spots began gathering, where one moment before nothing was reflected but the radiant face of the full moon. A few more seconds, and there appeared the well-known saddle, carpet, and daggers, which seemed to be rising as from a deep, clear water, and becoming with every instant more definitely outlined. Then a still darker shadow appeared hovering over these objects, which gradually condensed itself, and then came out, as visibly as at the small end of a telescope, the full figure of a man crouching over them.
"I know him!" exclaimed the writer. "It is the Tartar who came to us last night, offering to sell his mule!"
The image disappeared, as if by enchantment. The old man nodded assent, but remained motionless. Then he muttered again some strange words, and suddenly began a song. The tune was slow and monotonous, but after he had sung a few stanzas in the same unknown tongue, without
changing either rhythm or tune, he pronounced, recitative-like, the following words, in his broken Russian:
"Now, Hanoum, look well, whether we will catch him — the fate of the robber — we will learn this night," etc.
The same shadows began gathering, and then, almost without transition, we saw the man lying on his back, in a pool of blood, across the saddle, and two other men galloping off at a distance. Horror-stricken, and sick at the sight of this picture, we desired to see no more. The old man, leaving the tent, called some of the Koords standing outside, and seemed to give them instructions. Two minutes later, a dozen of horsemen were galloping off at full speed down the side of the mountain on which we were encamped.
Early in the morning they returned with the lost objects. The saddle was all covered with coagulated blood, and of course abandoned to them. The story they told was, that upon coming in sight of the fugitive, they saw disappearing over the crest of a distant hill two horsemen, and upon riding up, the Tartar thief was found dead upon the stolen property, exactly as we had seen him in the magical glass. He had been murdered by the two banditti, whose evident design to rob him was interrupted by the sudden appearance of the party sent by the old Koodian.
The most remarkable results are produced by the Eastern "wise men," by the simple act of breathing upon a person, whether with good or evil intent. This is pure mesmerism; and among the Persian dervishes who practice it the animal magnetism is often reinforced by that of the elements. If a person happens to stand facing a certain wind, there is always danger, they think; and many of the "learned ones" in occult matters can never be prevailed upon to go at sunset in a certain direction from whence blows the wind. We have known an old Persian from Baku,* on the Caspian Sea, who had the most unenviable reputation for throwing spells through the timely help of this wind, which blows but too often at that town, as its Persian name itself shows.** If a victim, against whom the wrath of the old fiend was kindled, happened to be
* We have twice assisted at the strange rites of the remnants of that sect of fire-worshippers known as the Guebres, who assemble from time to time at Baku, on the "field of fire." This ancient and mysterious town is situated near the Caspian Sea. It belongs to Russian Georgia. About twelve miles northeast from Baku stands the remnant of an ancient Guebre temple, consisting of four columns, from whose empty orifices issue constantly jets of flame, which gives it, therefore, the name of Temple of the Perpetual Fire. The whole region is covered with lakes and springs of naphtha. Pilgrims assemble there from distant parts of Asia, and a priesthood, worshipping the divine principle of fire, is kept by some tribes, scattered hither and thither about the country.
** Baadey-ku-Ba — literally "a gathering of winds."
facing this wind, he would appear, as if by enchantment, cross the road rapidly, and breathe in his face. From that moment, the latter would find himself afflicted with every evil — he was under the spell of the "evil eye."
The employment of the human breath by the sorcerer as an adjunct for the accomplishment of his nefarious purpose, is strikingly illustrated in several terrible cases recorded in the French annals — notably those of several Catholic priests. In fact, this species of sorcery was known from the oldest times. The Emperor Constantine (in Statute iv., Code de Malef., etc.) prescribed the severest penalties against such as should employ sorcery to do violence to chastity and excite unlawful passion. Augustine (Cite de Dieu) warns against it; Jerome, Gregory, Nazianzen, and many other ecclesiastical authorities, lend their denunciation of a crime not uncommon among the clergy. Baffet (book v., tit. 19, chap. 6) relates the case of the cure of Peifane, who accomplished the ruin of a highly-respected and virtuous lady parishioner, the Dame du Lieu, by resort to sorcery, and was burned alive for it by the Parliament of Grenoble. In 1611, a priest named Gaufridy was burned by the Parliament of Provence for seducing a penitent at the confessional, named Magdelaine de la Palud, by breathing upon her, and thus throwing her into a delirium of sinful love for him.
The above cases are cited in the official report of the famous case of Father Girard, a Jesuit priest of very great influence, who, in 1731, was tried before the Parliament of Aix, France, for the seduction of his parishioner, Mlle. Catherine Cadiere, of Toulon, and certain revolting crimes in connection with the same. The indictment charged that the offence was brought about by resort to sorcery. Mlle. Cadiere was a young lady noted for her beauty, piety, and exemplary virtues. Her attention to her religious duties was exceptionally rigorous, and that was the cause of her perdition. Father Girard's eye fell upon her, and he began to manoeuvre for her ruin. Gaining the confidence of the girl and her family by his apparent great sanctity, he one day made a pretext to blow his breath upon her. The girl became instantly affected with a violent passion for him. She also had ecstatic visions of a religious character, stigmata, or blood-marks of the "Passion," and hysterical convulsions. The long-sought opportunity of seclusion with his penitent finally offering, the Jesuit breathed upon her again, and before the poor girl recovered her senses, his object had been accomplished. By sophistry and the excitation of her religious fervor, he kept up this illicit relation for months, without her suspecting that she had done anything wrong. Finally, however, her eyes were opened, her parents informed, and the priest was arraigned. Judgment was rendered October 12th, 1731. Of twenty-five judges,
twelve voted to send him to the stake. The criminal priest was defended by all the power of the Society of Jesus, and it is said that a million francs were spent in trying to suppress the evidence produced at the trial. The facts, however, were printed in a work (in 5 vols., 16mo), now rare, entitled Recueil General des Pieces contenues au Procez du Pere Jean-Baptiste Girard, Jeuite, etc., etc.*
We have noted the circumstance that, while under the sorcerous influence of Father Girard, and in illicit relations with him, Mlle. Cadiere's body was marked with the stigmata of the Passion, viz.: the bleeding wounds of thorns on her brow, of nails in her hands and feet, and of a lance-cut in her side. It should be added that the same marks were seen upon the bodies of six other penitents of this priest, viz.: Mesdames Guyol, Laugier, Grodier, Allemande, Batarelle, and Reboul. In fact, it became commonly remarked that Father Girard's handsome parishioners were strangely given to ecstasies and stigmata! Add this to the fact that, in the case of Father Gaufridy, above noted, the same thing was proved, upon surgical testimony, to have happened to Mlle. de Palud, and we have something worth the attention of all (especially spiritualists) who imagine these stigmata are produced by pure spirits. Barring the agency of the Devil, whom we have quietly put to rest in another chapter, Catholics would be puzzled, we fancy, despite all their infallibility, to distinguish between the stigmata of the sorcerers and those produced through the intervention of the Holy Ghost or the angels. The Church records abound in instances of alleged diabolical imitations of these signs of saintship, but, as we have remarked, the Devil is out of court.
By those who have followed us thus far, it will naturally be asked, to what practical issue this book tends; much has been said about magic and its potentiality, much of the immense antiquity of its practice. Do we wish to affirm that the occult sciences ought to be studied and practiced throughout the world? Would we replace modern spiritualism with the ancient magic? Neither; the substitution could not be made, nor the study universally prosecuted, without incurring the risk of enormous public dangers. At this moment, a well-known spiritualist and lecturer on mesmerism is imprisoned on the charge of raping a subject whom he had hypnotized. A sorcerer is a public enemy, and mesmerism may most readily be turned into the worst of sorceries.
We would have neither scientists, theologians, nor spiritualists turn practical magicians, but all to realize that there was true science, profound
* See also "Magic and Mesmerism," a novel reprinted by the Harpers, thirty years ago.
religion, and genuine phenomena before this modern era. We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people take their precepts as the rule of their lives. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practice them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self-conquest which their development exacts.
Many men have arisen who had glimpses of the truth, and fancied they had it all. Such have failed to achieve the good they might have done and sought to do, because vanity has made them thrust their personality into such undue prominence as to interpose it between their believers and the whole truth that lay behind. The world needs no sectarian church, whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin, or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church — the Temple of God within us, walled in by matter but penetrable by any one who can find the way; the pure in heart see God.
The trinity of nature is the lock of magic, the trinity of man the key that fits it. Within the solemn precincts of the sanctuary the SUPREME had and has no name. It is unthinkable and unpronounceable; and yet every man finds in himself his god. "Who art thou, O fair being?" inquires the disembodied soul, in the Khordah-Avesta, at the gates of Paradise. "I am, O Soul, thy good and pure thoughts, thy works and thy good law . . . thy angel . . . and thy god." Then man, or the soul, is reunited with ITSELF, for this "Son of God" is one with him; it is his own mediator, the god of his human soul and his "Justifier." "God not revealing himself immediately to man, the spirit is his interpreter," says Plato in the Banquet.
Besides, there are many good reasons why the study of magic, except in its broad philosophy, is nearly impracticable in Europe and America. Magic being what it is, the most difficult of all sciences to learn experimentally — its acquisition is practically beyond the reach of the majority of white-skinned people; and that, whether their effort is made at home or in the East. Probably not more than one man in a million of European blood is fitted — either physically, morally, or psychologically — to become a practical magician, and not one in ten millions would be found endowed with all these three qualifications as required for the work. Civilized nations lack the phenomenal powers of endurance, both mental and physical, of the Easterns; the favoring temperamental idiosyncrasies of the Orientals are utterly wanting in them. In the Hindu, the
Arabian, the Thibetan, an intuitive perception of the possibilities of occult natural forces in subjection to human will, comes by inheritance; and in them, the physical senses as well as the spiritual are far more finely developed than in the Western races. Notwithstanding the notable difference of thickness between the skulls of a European and a Southern Hindu, this difference, being a purely climatic result, due to the intensity of the sun's rays, involves no psychological principles. Furthermore, there would be tremendous difficulties in the way of training, if we can so express it. Contaminated by centuries of dogmatic superstition, by an ineradicable — though quite unwarranted — sense of superiority over those whom the English term so contemptuously "niggers," the white European would hardly submit himself to the practical tuition of either Kopt, Brahman, or Lama. To become a neophyte, one must be ready to devote himself heart and soul to the study of mystic sciences. Magic — most imperative of mistresses — brooks no rival. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulai without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. The spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason, until facts have vanquished cold human sophistry.
Those best prepared to appreciate occultism are the spiritualists, although, through prejudice, until now they have been the bitterest opponents to its introduction to public notice. Despite all foolish negations and denunciations, their phenomena are real. Despite, also, their own assertions they are wholly misunderstood by themselves. The totally insufficient theory of the constant agency of disembodied human spirits in their production has been the bane of the Cause. A thousand mortifying rebuffs have failed to open their reason or intuition to the truth. Ignoring the teachings of the past, they have discovered no substitute. We offer them philosophical deduction instead of unverifiable hypothesis, scientific analysis and demonstration instead of undiscriminating faith. Occult philosophy gives them the means of meeting the reasonable requirements of science, and frees them from the humiliating necessity to accept the oracular teachings of "intelligences," which as a rule have less intelligence than a child at school. So based and so strengthened, modern phenomena would be in a position to command the attention and enforce the respect of those who carry with them public opinion. Without invoking such help, spiritualism must continue to vegetate, equally repulsed — not without cause — both by scientists and theologians. In its modern aspect, it is neither a science, a religion, nor a philosophy.
Are we unjust; does any intelligent spiritualist complain that we have misstated the case? To what can he point us but to a confusion of theories, a tangle of hypotheses mutually contradictory? Can he affirm that
spiritualism, even with its thirty years of phenomena, has any defensible philosophy; nay, that there is anything like an established method that is generally accepted and followed by its recognized representatives?
And yet, there are many thoughtful, scholarly, earnest writers among the spiritualists, scattered the world over. There are men who, in addition to a scientific mental training and a reasoned faith in the phenomena per se, possess all the requisites of leaders of the movement. How is it then, that, except throwing off an isolated volume or so, or occasional contributions to journalism, they all refrain from taking any active part in the formation of a system of philosophy? This is from no lack of moral courage, as their writings well show. Nor because of indifference, for enthusiasm abounds, and they are sure of their facts. Nor is it from lack of capacity, because many are men of mark, the peers of our best minds. It is simply for the reason that, almost without exception, they are bewildered by the contradictions they encounter, and wait for their tentative hypotheses to be verified by further experience. Doubtless this is the part of wisdom. It is that adopted by Newton, who, with the heroism of an honest, unselfish heart, withheld for seventeen years the promulgation of his theory of gravitation, only because he had not verified it to his own satisfaction.
Spiritualism, whose aspect is rather that of aggression than of defense, has tended toward iconoclasm, and so far has done well. But, in pulling down, it does not rebuild. Every really substantial truth it erects is soon buried under an avalanche of chimeras, until all are in one confused ruin. At every step of advance, at the acquisition of every new vantage-ground of FACT, some cataclysm, either in the shape of fraud and exposure, or of premeditated treachery, occurs, and throws the spiritualists back powerless because they cannot and their invisible friends will not (or perchance can, less than themselves) make good their claims. Their fatal weakness is that they have but one theory to offer in explanation of their challenged facts — the agency of human disembodied spirits, and the medium's complete subjection to them. They will attack those who differ in views with them with a vehemence only warranted by a better cause; they will regard every argument contradicting their theory as an imputation upon their common sense and powers of observation; and they will positively refuse even to argue the question.
How, then, can spiritualism be ever elevated to the distinction of a science? This, as Professor Tyndall shows, includes three absolutely necessary elements: observation of facts; induction of laws from these facts; and verification of those laws by constant practical experience. What experienced observer will maintain that spiritualism presents either one of these three elements? The medium is not uniformly surrounded
by such test conditions that we may be sure of the facts; the inductions from the supposed facts are unwarranted in the absence of such verification; and, as a corollary, there has been no sufficient verification of those hypotheses by experience. In short, the prime element of accuracy has, as a rule, been lacking.
That we may not be charged with desire to misrepresent the position of spiritualism, at the date of this present writing, or accused of withholding credit for advances actually made, we will cite a few passages from the London Spiritualist of March 2, 1877. At the fortnightly meeting, held February 19, a debate occurred upon the subject of "Ancient Thought and Modern Spiritualism." Some of the most intelligent Spiritualists of England participated. Among these was Mr. W. Stainton Moses, M. A., who has recently given some attention to the relation between ancient and modern phenomena. He said: "Popular spiritualism is not scientific; it does very little in the way of scientific verification. Moreover, exoteric spiritualism is, to a large extent, devoted to presumed communion with personal friends, or to the gratification of curiosity, or the mere evolution of marvels. . . . The truly esoteric science of spiritualism is very rare, and not more rare than valuable. To it we must look to the origination of knowledge which may be developed exoterically. . . . We proceed too much on the lines of the physicists; our tests are crude, and often illusory; we know too little of the Protean power of spirit. Here the ancients were far ahead of us, and can teach us much. We have not introduced any certainty into the conditions — a necessary prerequisite for true scientific experiment. This is largely owing to the fact that our circles are constructed on no principle. . . . We have not even mastered the elementary truths which the ancients knew and acted on, e.g., the isolation of mediums. We have been so occupied with wonder-hunting that we have hardly tabulated the phenomena, or propounded one theory to account for the production of the simplest of them. . . . We have never faced the question: What is the intelligence? This is the great blot, the most frequent source of error, and here we might learn with advantage from the ancients. There is the strongest disinclination among spiritualists to admit the possibility of the truth of occultism. In this respect they are as hard to convince as is the outer world of spiritualism. Spiritualists start with a fallacy, viz.: that all phenomena are caused by the action of departed human spirits; they have not looked into the powers of the human spirit; they do not know the extent to which spirit acts, how far it reaches, what it underlies."
Our position could not be better defined. If Spiritualism has a future, it is in the keeping of such men as Mr. Stainton Moses.
Our work is done — would that it were better done! But, despite our inexperience in the art of book-making, and the serious difficulty of writing in a foreign tongue, we hope we have succeeded in saying some things that will remain in the minds of the thoughtful. The enemies of truth have been all counted, and all passed in review. Modern science, powerless to satisfy the aspirations of the race, makes the future a void, and bereaves man of hope. In one sense, it is like the Baital Pachisi, the Hindu vampire of popular fancy, which lives in dead bodies, and feeds but on the rottenness of matter. The theology of Christendom has been rubbed threadbare by the most serious minds of the day. It is found to be, on the whole, subversive, rather than promotive of spirituality and good morals. Instead of expounding the rules of divine law and justice, it teaches but itself. In place of an ever-living Deity, it preaches the Evil One, and makes him indistinguishable from God Himself! "Lead us not into temptation" is the aspiration of Christians. Who, then, is the tempter? Satan? No; the prayer is not addressed to him. It is that tutelar genius who hardened the heart of Pharaoh, put an evil spirit into Saul, sent lying messengers to the prophets, and tempted David to sin; it is — the Bible-God of Israel!
Our examination of the multitudinous religious faiths that mankind, early and late, have professed, most assuredly indicates that they have all been derived from one primitive source. It would seem as if they were all but different modes of expressing the yearning of the imprisoned human soul for intercourse with supernal spheres. As the white ray of light is decomposed by the prism into the various colors of the solar spectrum, so the beam of divine truth, in passing through the three-sided prism of man's nature, has been broken up into vari-colored fragments called RELIGIONS. And, as the rays of the spectrum, by imperceptible shadings, merge into each other, so the great theologies that have appeared at different degrees of divergence from the original source, have been connected by minor schisms, schools, and off-shoots from the one side or the other. Combined, their aggregate represents one eternal truth; separate, they are but shades of human error and the signs of imperfection. The worship of the Vedic pitris is fast becoming the worship of the spiritual portion of mankind. It but needs the right perception of things objective to finally discover that the only world of reality is the subjective.
What has been contemptuously termed Paganism, was ancient wisdom replete with Deity; and Judaism and its offspring, Christianity and Islamism, derived whatever of inspiration they contained from this ethnic parent. Pre-Vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism are the double source from which all religions sprung; Nirvana is the ocean to which all tend.
For the purposes of a philosophical analysis, we need not take account of the enormities which have blackened the record of many of the world's religions. True faith is the embodiment of divine charity; those who minister at its altars, are but human. As we turn the blood-stained pages of ecclesiastical history, we find that, whoever may have been the hero, and whatever costumes the actors may have worn, the plot of the tragedy has ever been the same. But the Eternal Night was in and behind all, and we pass from what we see to that which is invisible to the eye of sense. Our fervent wish has been to show true souls how they may lift aside the curtain, and, in the brightness of that Night made Day, look with undazzled gaze upon the UNVEILED TRUTH.