|1||What's in a Name? Why the Magazine is called "Lucifer"||anon (HPB)|
|7||3 fillers (occultism)||anon|
on Light on the Path by the author
|14||3 fillers (various)||anon|
|15||The History of a Planet||H.P.B.|
|23||The Blossom & The Fruit: A Tale of Love & Magic (1)||Mabel Collins (1851-1927)|
|39||A Law of Life: Karma (1)||Archibald Keightley (1859-1930)|
|46||The Mystery of all Time||Anon|
|49||The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism||St George Lane-Fox (1816-1896)|
|51||The Last of a Good Lama||anon (HPB)|
|52||The Birth of Light (from Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie by Alphonse Louis Constant)||Eliphas Levi (1810-1875)|
|55||A True Theosophist (Count Leo N Tolstoi (1828 - 1910)||AIR|
|63||A Ghost's Revenge (1)||Tighe Hopkins|
|71||Literary Jottings||"The Adversary" (HPB)|
|71||Review - Buddhism in Christendom, or Jesus the Essene by Arthur Lillie||"The Adversary" (HPB)|
|74||Review - The Book of Life by Siddartha Vonisa||"The Adversary" (HPB)|
|76||correspondence - Astrological Notes (I)||Nemo (? Francisco Montoliu)|
|76||Correspondence - (The belief in the power & efficacy of talismans)||Beta (? HPB)|
|77||Theosophical & Mystic Publications - various||anon (HPB)|
|80||From the Note-Book of an Unpopular Philosopher||anon (HPB)|
A Theosophical Magazine
Designed to “Bring To Light the Hidden Things of Darkness”.
H.P. BLAVATSKY and MABEL COLLINS
IN A NAME?
WHY THE MAGAZINE IS CALLED “LUCIFER”
What’s in a name? Very often there is more in it than the profane is
prepared to understand, or the learned mystic to explain. It is an invisible,
secret, but very potential influence that every name carries about with it
and “leaveth wherever it goeth”. Carlyle thought that “there
is much, nay, almost all, in names”. “Could I unfold the influence
of names, which are the most important of all clothings, I were a second great
Trismegistus”, he writes.
The name or title of a magazine started with a definite object, is, therefore, all important; for it is, indeed, the invisible seedgrain, which will either grow “to be an all-over-shadowing tree” on the fruits of which must depend the nature of the results brought about by the said object, or the tree will wither and die. These considerations show that the name of the present magazine — rather equivocal to the orthodox Christian ears — is due to no careless selection, but arose in consequence of much thinking over its fitness, and was adopted as the best symbol to express that object and the results in view.
Now, the first and most important, if not the sole object of the magazine, is expressed in the line from the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, on its title page. It is to bring light to “the hidden things of darkness” (iv, 5); to show in their true aspect and their original real meaning things and names, men and their doings and customs; it is finally to fight prejudice, hypocrisy and shams in every nation, in every class of Society, as in every department of life. The task is a laborious one but it is neither impracticable nor useless, if even as an experiment.
Thus, for an attempt of such nature, no better title could ever be found than the one chosen. “Lucifer” is the pale morning-star, the precursor of the full blaze of the noon-day sun — the “Eosphoros” of the Greeks. It shines timidly at dawn to gather forces and dazzle the eye after sunset as its own brother “Hesperos” —the radiant evening star, or [Page 2] the planet Venus. No fitter symbol exists for the proposed work — that of throwing a ray of truth on everything hidden by the darkness of prejudice, by social or religious misconceptions; especially by that idiotic routine in life, which, once that a certain action, a thing, a name, has been branded by slanderous inventions, however unjust, makes respectable people, so-called, turn away shiveringly, refusing to even look at it from any other aspect than the one sanctioned by public opinion. Such an endeavour then, to force the weak-hearted to look truth straight in the face, is helped most efficaciously by a title belonging to the category of branded names.
Piously inclined readers may argue that “Lucifer” is accepted by all the churches as one of the many names of the Devil. According to Milton’s superb fiction, Lucifer is Satan, the “rebellious” angel, the enemy of God and man. If one analyzes his rebellion, however, it will be found of no worse nature than an assertion of free-will and independent thought, as if Lucifer had been born in the XIXth century. This epithet of “rebellious”, is a theological calumny, on par with that other slander of God by the Predestinarians, one that makes of deity an “Almighty” fiend worse than the “rebellious” Spirit himself; “an omnipotent Devil desiring to be ‘complimented’ as all-merciful when he is exerting the most fiendish cruelty”, as put by James A. Cotter Morrison. Both the foreordaining and predestining fiend-God, and his subordinate agent are of human invention; they are two of the most morally repulsive and horrible theological dogmas that the nightmares of light-hating monks have ever evolved out of their unclean fancies.
They date from the Mediaeval age, the period of mental obscuration, during which most of the present prejudices and superstitions have been forcibly inoculated on the human mind, so as to have become nearly ineradicable in some cases, one of which is the present prejudice now under discussion.
So deeply rooted, indeed, is this preconception and aversion to the name of Lucifer — meaning no worse than “light-bringer” (from lux, lucis, “light”, and ferre, “to bring”) [“It was Gregory the Great who was the first to apply this passage of Isaiah, ‘How art thou fallen from the heavens, Lucifer, son of the morning’, etc., to Satan, and ever since the bold metaphor of the prophet, which referred, after all, but to an Assyrian king inimical to the Israelites, has been applied to the Devil” ] — even among the educated classes, that by adopting it for the title of their magazine the editors have the prospect of a long strife with public prejudice before them. So absurd and ridiculous is that prejudice, indeed, that no one has seemed to ever ask himself the question, how came Satan to be called a light-bringer, unless the silvery rays of the morning-star can in any way be made suggestive of the glare of the infernal flames. It is simply, as Henderson showed, “one of those gross perversions of sacred writ which so extensively obtain, and which are to be traced to a proneness to seek for more [Page 3] in a given passage than it really contains — a disposition to be influenced by sound rather than sense, and an implicit faith in received interpretation” — which is not quite one of the weaknesses of our present age. Nevertheless, the prejudice is there, to the shame of our century.
This cannot be helped. The two editors would hold themselves as recreants in their own sight, as traitors to the very spirit of the proposed work, were they to yield and cry craven before the danger. If one would fight prejudice, and brush off the ugly cobwebs of superstition and materialism alike from the noblest ideals of our forefathers, one has to prepare for opposition. “The crown of the reformer and innovator is a crown of thorns” indeed. If one would rescue Truth in all her chaste nudity from the almost bottomless well, into which she has been hurled by cant and hypocritical propriety, one should not hesitate to descend into the dark, gaping pit of that well. No matter how badly the blind bats — the dwellers in darkness, and the haters of light — may treat in their gloomy abode the intruder, unless one is the first to show the spirit and courage he preaches to others, he must be justly held as a hypocrite and a seceder from his own principles.
Hardly had the title been agreed upon, when the first premonitions of what was in store for us, in the matter of the opposition to be encountered owing to the title chosen, appeared on our horizon. One of the editors received and recorded some spicy objections. The scenes that follow are sketches from nature.
A Well-known Novelist. Tell me about your new magazine. What class do you propose to appeal to?
Editor. No class in particular: we intend to appeal to the public.
Novelist. I am very glad of that. For once I shall be one of the public, for I don’t understand your subject in the least, and I want to. But you must remember that if your public is to understand you, it must necessarily be a very small one. People talk about occultism nowadays as they talk about many other things, without the least idea of what it means. We are so ignorant and — so prejudiced.
Editor. Exactly. That is what calls the new magazine into existence. We propose to educate you, and to tear the mask from every prejudice.
Novelist. That really is good news to me, for I want to be educated. What is your magazine to be called?
Novelist. What! Are you going to educate us in vice? We know enough about that. Fallen angels are plentiful. You may find popularity, for soiled doves are in fashion just now, while the white-winged angels are voted a bore, because they are not so amusing. But I doubt your being able to teach us much.
A Man of the World (in a careful undertone, for the scene is a dinner-party). I hear you are going to start a magazine, all about occultism. Do you know, I’m very glad. I don’t say anything about such matters as a rule, but some queer things have happened in my life which can’t be explained in any ordinary manner. I hope you will go in for explanations. [Page 4]
Editor. We shall try, certainly. My impression is, that when occultism is in any measure apprehended, its laws are accepted by everyone as the only intelligible explanation of life.
A M. W. Just so, I want to know all about it, for ‘pon my honour, life’s a mystery. There are plenty of other people as curious as myself. This is an age which is afflicted with the Yankee disease of “wanting to know”. I’ll get you lots of subscribers. What’s the magazine called?
Editor. Lucifer — and ( warned by former experience ) don’t misunderstand the name. It is typical of the divine spirit which sacrificed itself for humanity — it was Milton’s doing that it ever became associated with the devil. We are sworn enemies of popular prejudices, and it is quite appropriate that we should attack such a prejudice as this — Lucifer, you know, is the Morning Star — the Light-bearer. . . . . . .
A M. W. (interrupting). Oh, I know all that — at least I don’t know, but I take it for granted you’ve got some good reason for taking such a title. But your first object is to have readers; you want the public to buy your magazine, I suppose. That’s in the programme, isn’t it?
Editor. Most decidedly.
A M. W. Well, listen to the advice of a man who knows his way about town. Don’t mark your magazine with the wrong colour at starting. It’s quite evident, when one stays an instant to think of its derivation and meaning, that Lucifer is an excellent word. But the public don’t stay to think of derivations and meanings; and the first impression is the most important. Nobody will buy the magazine if you call it Lucifer.
A Fashionable Lady Interested in Occultism. I want to hear some more about the new magazine, for I have interested a great many people in it, even with the little you have told me. But I find it difficult to express its actual purpose. What is it?
Editor. To try and give a little light to those that want it.
A F. L. Well, that’s a simple way of putting it, and will be very useful to me. What is the magazine to be called?
A F. L. (After a pause). You can’t mean it.
Editor. Why not?
A F. L. The associations are so dreadful! What can be the object of calling it that? It sounds like some unfortunate sort of joke, made against it by its enemies.
Editor. Oh, but Lucifer, you know, means Lightbearer; it is typical of the Divine Spirit —
A F. L. Never mind all that — I want to do your magazine good and make it known, and you can’t expect me to enter into explanations of that sort every time I mention the title. Impossible! Life is too short and too busy. Besides, it would produce such a bad effect; people would think me priggish, and then I couldn’t talk at all, for I couldn’t bear them to think that. Don’t call it Lucifer — please don’t. Nobody knows what the word is typical of; what it means now is the devil, nothing more or less.
Editor. But then that is quite a mistake, and one of the first prejudices we propose to do battle with. Lucifer is the pale, pure herald of dawn —
Lady (interrupting). I thought you were going to do something more interesting and more important than to whitewash mythological characters. We shall all have to go to school again, or read up Dr. Smith’s Classical Dictionary. And what is the use of it when it is done? I thought you were going to tell us things about our own lives and how to make them better. I suppose Milton wrote about Lucifer, didn’t he? — but nobody reads Milton now. Do let us have a modern title with some human meaning in it. [Page 5]
A Journalist (thoughtfully, while rolling his cigarette). Yes, it is a good idea, this magazine of yours. We shall all laugh at it, as a matter of course; and we shall cut it up in the papers. But we shall all read it, because secretly everybody hungers after the mysterious. What are you going to call it?
Journalist (striking a light). Why not The Fusée? Quite as good a title and not so pretentious.
The “Novelist”, the “Man
of the World”, the “Fashionable
Lady”, and the “Journalist”, should be the first to receive
a little instruction. A glimpse into the real and primitive character of Lucifer
can do them no harm and may, perchance, cure them of a bit of ridiculous prejudice.
They ought to study their Homer and Hesiod’s Theogony if they would do
justice to Lucifer, “Eosphoros and Hesperos”, the Morning and the
Evening beautiful star. If there are more useful things to do in this life
than “whitewash mythological characters”, to slander and blacken
them is, at least, as useless, and shows, moreover, a narrow-mindedness which
can do honour to no one.
To object to the title of LUCIFER, only because its “associations are so dreadful”, is pardonable — if it can be pardonable in any case — only in an ignorant American missionary of some dissenting sect, in one whose natural laziness and lack of education led him to prefer ploughing the minds of heathens, as ignorant as he is himself, to the more profitable, but rather more arduous, process of ploughing the fields of his own father’s farm. In the English clergy, however, who all receive a more or less classical education, and are, therefore, supposed to be acquainted with the ins and outs of theological sophistry and casuistry, this kind of opposition is absolutely unpardonable. It not only smacks of hypocrisy and deceit, but places them directly on a lower moral level than him they call the apostate angel. By endeavouring to show the theological Lucifer, fallen through the idea that
“To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell;
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven,”
Occultism is not magic, though magic is one of its tools.
Occultism is not the acquirement of powers, whether psychic or intellectual, though both are its servants. Neither is occultism the pursuit of happiness, as men understand the word; for the first step is sacrifice, the second, renunciation.
Life is built up by the sacrifice of the individual to the whole. Each cell in the living body must sarifice itself to the perfection of the whole; when it is otherwise, disease and death enforce the lesson. [Page 8]
Occultism is the science of life, the art of living.
ON “LIGHT ON THE PATH”
by Mabel Collins [the author]
“Before the eyes can see they must be incapable of tears”
It should be very clearly remembered by all readers of this volume that it is a book which may appear to have some little philosophy in it, but very little sense, to those who believe it to be written in ordinary English. To the many, who read in this manner it will be — not caviar so much as olives strong of their salt. Be warned and ready but a little in this way.
There is another way of reading, which is, indeed, the only one of any use with many authors. It is reading, not between the lines but within the words. In fact, it is deciphering a profound cipher. All alchemical works are written in the cipher of which I speak; it has been used by the great philosophers and poets of all time. It is used systematically by the adepts in life and knowledge, who, seemingly giving out their deepest wisdom, hide in the very words which frame it its actual mystery. They cannot do more. There is a law of nature which insists that a man shall read these mysteries for himself. By no other method can he obtain them. A man who desires to live must eat his food himself: this is the simple law of Nature — which applies also to the higher life. A man who would live and act in it cannot be fed like a babe with a spoon; he must eat for himself.
I propose to put into new and sometimes plainer language parts of “Light on the Path”; but whether this effort of mine will really be any interpretation I cannot say. To a deaf and dumb man, a truth is made no more intelligible if, in order to make it so, some misguide linguist translates the words in which it is couched into every living or dead language, and shouts these different phrases in his ear. But for those who are not deaf and dumb one language is generally easier than the rest; and it is to such as these I address myself.
The very first aphorisms of “Light on the Path”, included under Number I, have, I know well, remained sealed as to their inner meaning to many who have otherwise followed the purpose of the book.
There are four proven and certain truths with regard to the entrance to occultism. The Gates of Gold bar that threshold; yet there are some who pass those Gates and discover the sublime and illimitable beyond. In the far spaces of Time all will pass those gates. But I am one who wishes that Time, the great deluder, were not so over-masterful. To those who know and love him I have no word to say; but to the others — and there are not so very few as some may fancy — to whom the [Page 9] passage of Time is as the stroke of a sledgehammer, and the sense of Space like the bars of an iron cage, I will translate and retranslate, until they understand fully.
The fourth truths written on the first page of “Light on the Path”, refer to the trial initiation of the would-be Occultist. Until he has passed it, he cannot even reach to the latch of the gate which admits to knowledge. Knowledge is man's greatest inheritance; why, then, should he not attempt to reach it by every possible road? The laboratory is not the only ground for experiment; science, we must remember, is derived from sciens, present participle of scire, “to know” — its origin is similar to that of the word “discern”, “to ken”. Science does not therefore deal only with matter, no, not even its subtlest and obscurest forms. Such an idea is born merely of the idle spirit of the age. Science is a word which covers all forms of knowledge. It is exceedingly interesting to hear what chemists discover, and to see them finding their way through the densities of matter to its finer forms; but there are other kinds of knowledge than this, and it is not every one who restricts his (strictly scientific) desire for knowledge to experiments which are capable of being tested by the physical senses.
Everyone who is not a dullard, or a man stupefied by some predominant vice, has guessed, or even perhaps discovered with some certainty, that there are subtle senses lying within the physical senses; there is nothing at all extraordinary in this; if we took the trouble to call Nature into the witness box we should find that everything which is perceptible to the ordinary sight, has something even more important than itself hidden within it; the microscope has opened a world to us, but within those encasements which the microscope reveals, lies a mystery which no machinery can probe.
The whole world is animated and lit, down to its most material shapes, by a world within it. This inner world is called Astral by some people, and it is as good a word as any other, though it merely means starry; but the stars, as Locke pointed out, are luminous bodies which give light of themselves. This quality is characteristic of the light which lies within matter; for those who see it, need no lamp to see it by. The word “star”, moreover, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “stir-an”, to steer, to stir, to move, and undeniably it is the inner life which is master of the outer, just as a man's brain guides the movements of his lips. So that although Astral is no very excellent word in itself, I am content to use for my present purposes.
The whole of “Light on the Path” is written in an astral cipher and can therefore only be deciphered by one who reads astrally. And its teaching is chiefly directed towards the cultivation and development of the astral life. Until the first step has been taken in this development, the swift knowledge, which is called intuition with certainty, is impossible to man. And this positive and certain intuition is the only form of [Page 10] knowledge which enables a man to work rapidly or reach his true and high estate, within the limit of his conscious effort. To obtain knowledge by experiment is too tedious a method for those who aspire to accomplish real work: he who gets it by certain intuition, lays hands on its various forms with supreme rapidity, by fierce effort of will; as a determined workman grasps his tools, indifferent to their weight or any other difficulty which may stand in his way. He does not stay for each to be tested — he uses such as he sees are fittest.
All the rules contained in “Light on the Path”, are written for all disciples, but only for disciples — those who “take knowledge”. To none else but the student in this school are its laws of any use or interest.
To all who are interested seriously in Occultism, I say first — take knowledge. To him who hath shall be given. It is useless to wait for it. The womb of Time will close before you, and in later days you will remain unborn, without power. I therefore say to those who have hunger or thirst for knowledge, attend to these Rules.
They are none of my handicraft or invention. They are merely the phrasing of laws in super-nature, the putting into words truths as absolute in their own sphere, as those laws which govern the conduct of the earth and its atmosphere.
The senses spoken of in these four statements are the astral, or inner senses.
No man desires to see that light which illumines the spaceless soul until pain and sorrow and despair have driven him away from the life of ordinary humanity. First he wears out pleasure, then he wears out pain — till, at last, his eyes become incapable of tears.
This is a truism, although I know perfectly well that it will meet with a vehement denial from many who are in sympathy with thoughts which spring from the inner life. To see with the astral sense of sight is a form of activity which it is difficult for us to understand immediately. The scientist knows very well what a miracle is achieved by each child that is born into the world, when it first conquers its eye sight and compels it to obey its brain. An equal miracle is performed with each sense certainly, but this ordering of sight is perhaps the most stupendous effort. Yet the child does it almost unconsciously, by force of the powerful heredity of habit. No one now is aware that he has ever done it at all; just as we cannot recollect the individual movements which enabled us to walk up a hill a year ago. This arises from the fact that we move an live and have our being in matter. Our knowledge of it has become intuitive.
With our astral life it is very much otherwise. For long ages past, man has paid very little attention to it — so little, that he has practically lost the use of his senses. It is true, that in every civilization the star arises and man confesses, with more or less of folly and confusion, that he knows himself to be. But most often he denies it, and in being a [Page 11] materialist becomes that strange thing, a being which cannot see its own light, a thing of life which will not live, an astral animal which has eyes, and ears, and speech, and power, yet will use none of these gifts. This is the case, and the habit of ignorance has become so confirmed, that now none will see with the inner vision till agony has made the physical eyes not only unseeing, but without tears — the moisture of life. To be incapable of tears is to have faced and conquered the simple human nature, and to have attained an equilibrium which cannot be shaken by personal emotions. It does not imply any hardness of heart, or any indifference. It does not imply the exhaustion of sorrow, when the suffering soul seems powerless to suffer acutely any longer; it does not mean the deadness of old age, when emotion is becoming dull because the strings which vibrate to it are wearing out. None of these conditions are fit for a disciple, and if any one of them exists in him, it must be overcome before the path can be entered upon. Hardness of heart belongs to the selfish man, the egotist, to whom the gate is for ever closed. Indifference belongs to the fool and the false philosopher; those whose lukewarmness makes them mere puppets, not strong enough to face the realities of existence. When pain or sorrow has worn out the keenness of suffering, the result is a lethargy not unlike that which accompanies old age, as it is usually experienced by men and women. Such a condition makes the entrance to the path impossible, because the first step is one of difficulty and needs a strong man full of psychic and physical vigour, to attempt it.
It is a truth, that, as Edgar Allen Poe said, the eyes are the windows for the soul, the windows of that haunted palace in which it dwells. This is the very nearest interpretation into ordinary language of the meaning of the text. If grief, dismay, disappointment or pleasure, can shake the soul so that it loses its fixed hold on the calm spirit which inspires it, and the moisture of life breaks forth, drowning knowledge in sensation, then all is blurred, the windows are darkened, the light is useless. This is as literal a fact as that if a man, at the edge of a precipice, loses his nerve through some sudden emotion he will certainly fall. The poise of the body, the balance, must be preserved, not only in dangerous places, but even on level ground, and with all the assistance Nature gives us by the law of gravitation. So it is with the soul, it is the link between the outer body and the starry spirit beyond; the divine spark dwells in the still place where no convulsion of Nature can shake the air; this is so always. But the soul may lose its hold on that, its knowledge of it, even though these two are part of one whole; and it is by emotion, by sensation, that this hold is loosed. To suffer either pleasure or pain causes a vivid vibration which is, to the consciousness of man, life. Now this sensibility does not lessen when the disciple enters upon his training; it increases. It is the first test of his strength; he must suffer, must enjoy or endure, more [Page 12] keenly than other men, while yet he has taken on him a duty which does not exist for other men, that of not allowing his suffering to shake him from his fixed purpose. He has, in fact, at the first step to take himself steadily in hand and put the bit into his own mouth; no one else can do it for him.
The first four aphorisms of “Light on the Path” refer entirely to astral development. This development must be accomplished to a certain extent — that is to say, it must be fully entered upon — before the remainder of the book is really intelligible except to the intellect; in fact, before it can be read as a practical, not a metaphysical treatise.
In one of the great mystic Brotherhoods, there are four ceremonies, that take place early in the year, which practically illustrate and elucidate these aphorisms. They are ceremonies in which only novices take part, for they are simply services of the threshold. But it will show how serious a thing it is to become a disciple, when it is understood that these are all ceremonies of sacrifice. The first one is this of which I have been speaking. The keenest enjoyment, the bitterest pain, the anguish of loss and despair, are brought to bear on the trembling soul, which has not yet found light in the darkness, which is helpless as a blind man is, and until these shocks can be endured without loss of equilibrium the astral senses must remain sealed. This is the merciful law. The “Medium”, or “spiritualist” who rushes into the psychic world without preparation, is a lawbreaker, a breaker of the laws of supernature. Those who break Nature's laws lose their physical health; those who break the laws of the inner life, lose their psychic health. “Mediums” become mad, suicides, miserable creatures devoid of moral sense; and often end as unbelievers, doubters even of that which their own eyes have seen. The disciple is compelled to become his own master before he adventures on this perilous path, and attempts to face those beings who live and work in the astral world, and whom we call Masters, because of their great knowledge and their ability to control not only themselves but the forces around them.
The condition of the soul when it lives for the life of sensation as distinguished from that of knowledge, is vibratory or oscillating, as distinguished from fixed. That is the nearest literal representation of the fact; but it is only literal to the intellect, not to the intuition. For this part of man's consciousness a different vocabulary is needed. The idea of “fixed” might perhaps be transposed into that of “at home”. In sensation no permanent home can be found, because change is the law of this vibratory existence. That fact is the first one which must be learned by the disciple. It is useless to pause and weep for a scene in a kaleidoscope which has passed.
It is a very well-know fact, one with which Bulwer Lytton dealt with great power, that an intolerable sadness is the very first [Page 13] experience of the neophyte in Occultism. A sense of blankness falls upon him which makes the world a waste, and life a vain exertion. This follows his first serious contemplation of the abstract. In gazing, or even in attempting to gaze, on the ineffable mystery of his own higher nature, he himself causes the initial trial to fall on him. The oscillation between pleasure and pain ceases for — perhaps an instant of time; but that is enough to have cut him loose from his fast moorings in the world of sensation. He has experienced, however briefly, the greater life; and he goes on with ordinary existence weighted by a sense of unreality, of blank, of horrid negation. This was the nightmare which visited Bulwer Lytton's neophyte in “ Zanoni ”; and even Zanoni himself, who had learned great truths, and been entrusted with great powers, had not actually passed the threshold where fear and hope, despair and joy, seem at one moment absolute realities, at the next mere forms of fancy.
This initial trial is often brought on us by life itself. For life, is after all, the great teacher. We return to study it, after we have acquired power over it, just as the master in chemistry learns more in the laboratory than his pupil does. There are persons so near the door of knowledge that life itself prepares them for it, and no individual hand has to invoke the hideous guardian of the entrance. These must naturally be keen and powerful organizations, capable of the most vivid pleasure; then pain comes and fills its great duty. The most intense forms of suffering fall on such a nature, till at last it arouses from its stupor of consciousness, and by the force of its internal vitality steps over the threshold into a place of peace. Then the vibration of life loses its power of tyranny. The sensitive nature must suffer still; but the soul has freed itself and stands aloof, guiding the life towards its greatness. Those who are the subjects of Time, and go slowly through all his spaces, live on through a long-drawn series of sensations, and suffer a constant mingling of pleasure and of pain. They do not dare to take the snake of self in a steady grasp and conquer it, so becoming divine; but prefer to go on fretting through divers experiences, suffering blows from the opposing forces.
When one of these subjects of Time decides to enter on the path of Occultism, it is this which is his first task. If life has not taught it to him, if he is not strong enough to teach himself, and if he has power enough to demand the help of a Master, then this fearful trial, depicted in “ Zanoni ”, is put upon him. The oscillation in which he lives, is for an instant stilled; and he has to survive the shock of facing what seems to him at first sight as the abyss of nothingness. Not till he has learned to dwell in this abyss, and has found its peace, is it possible for his eyes to have become incapable of tears.
[The difficulty of writing intelligibly on these subjects is so great that [Page 14] I beg those who have found any interest in this article, and are yet left with perplexities and doubts, to address me in the correspondence column of this magazine. I ask this because thoughtful questions are as agreat an assistance to the general reader as the answers to them.]
∆ [ To be continued]
Harmony is the law of life, discord its shadow, whence springs suffering, the teacher, the awakener of consciousness.
Through joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, the soul comes to a knowledge of itself; then begins the task of learning the laws of life, that the discords may be resolved, and the harmony be restored.
The eyes of wisdom are like the ocean depths; there is neither joy nor sorrow in them; therefore the soul of the occultist must become stronger than joy, and greater than sorrow. [Page 15]
No star, among the countless myriads that twinkle over the sidereal fields of the night sky, shines so dazzlingly as the planet Venus — not even Sirius-Sothis, the dog-star, beloved by Isis. Venus is the queen among our planets, the crown jewel of our solar system. She is the inspirer of the poet, the guardian and companion of the lonely shepherd, the lovely morning and the evening star. For,
although their secrets are still untold and unrevealed to the majority of men, including astronomers. They are "a beauty and a mystery", verily. But "where there i s a mystery, it is generally supposed that there must also be evil", says Byron. Evil, therefore, was detected by evilly-disposed human fancy, even in those bright luminous eyes peeping at our wicked world through the veil of ether. Thus there came to exist slandered stars and planets as well as slandered men and women. Too often are the reputation and fortune of one man or party sacrificed for the benefit of another man or party. As on earth below, so in the heavens above, and Venus, the sister planet of our Earth, [ “Venus is a second Earth”. says Reynaud, in Terre et Ciel (p. 74), "so much so that were there any communication possible between the two planets, their inhabitants might take their respective earths for the two hemispheres of the same world, . . . They seem on the sky, like two sisters. Similar in conformation, these two worlds are also similar in the character assigned to them in the Universe." ] was sacrificed to the ambition of our little globe to show the latter the "chosen" planet of the Lord. She became the scapegoat, the Azaziel of the starry dome, for the sins of the Earth, or rather for those of a certain class in the human family — the clergy — who slandered the bright orb, in order to prove what their ambition suggested to them as the best means to reach power, and exercise it unswervingly over the superstitious and ignorant masses.
“Stars teach as well as shine",
took place during the middle ages. And now the sin lies black at the door
of Christians and their scientific inspirers, though the error was successfully
raised to the lofty position of a religious dogma, as many other fictions
and inventions have been.
Indeed, the whole sidereal world, planets and their regents — the ancient gods of poetical paganism — the sun, the moon, the elements, and the entire host of incalculable worlds — those at least which happened to be known to the Church Fathers — shared in the same fate. They have all been slandered, all bedevilled by the insatiable desire of proving one little system of theology —built on and constructed out of [Page 16] old pagan materials — the only right and holy one, and all those which preceded or followed it utterly wrong. Sun and stars, the very air itself, we are asked to believe, became pure and "redeemed" from original sin and the Satanic element of heathenism, only after the year I, A.D. Scholastics and scholiasts, the spirit of whom "spurned laborious investigation and slow induction", had shown, to the satisfaction of infallible Church, the whole Kosmos in the power of Satan — a poor compliment to God — before the year of the Nativity; and Christians had to believe or be condemned. Never have subtle sophistry and casuistry shown themselves so plainly in their true light, however, as in the questions of the ex-Satanism and later redemption of various heavenly bodies. Poor beautiful Venus got worsted in that war of so-called divine proofs to a greater degree than any of her sidereal colleagues. While the history of the other six planets, and their gradual transformation from Greco-Aryan gods into Semitic devils, and finally into "divine attributes of the seven eyes of the Lord", is known but to the educated, that of Venus-Lucifer has become a household story among even the most illiterate in Roman Catholic countries.
This story shall now be told for the benefit of those who may have neglected their astral mythology.
Venus, characterised by Pythagoras as the sol alter, a second Sun, on account of her magnificent radiance — equalled by none other — was the first to draw the attention of ancient Theogonists. Before it began to be called Venus, it was known in pre-Hesiodic theogony as Eosphoros (or Phosphoros) and Hesperos, the children of the dawn and twilight. In Hesiod, moreover, the planet is decomposed into two divine beings, two brothers — Eosphoros ( the Lucifer of the Latins) the morning, and Hesperos, the evening star. They are the children of Astroeos and Eos, the starry heaven and the dawn, as also of Kephalos and Eos (Theog: 381, Hyg. Poet. Astron. 11, 42). Preller, quoted by Decharme, shows Phaeton identical with Phosphoros or Lucifer ( Griech. Mythol: I, 365). And on the authority of Hesiod he also makes Phaeton the son of the latter two divinities — Kephalos and Eos.
Now Phaeton or Phosphoros, the "luminous morning orb", is carried away in his early youth by Aphrodite (Venus) who makes of him the night guardian of her sanctuary (Theog: 987-991). He is the "beautiful morning star" (vide St. John's Revelation XXII. 16) loved for its radiant light by the Goddess of the Dawn, Aurora, who, while gradually eclipsing the light of her beloved, thus seeming to carry off the star, makes it reappear on the evening horizon where it watches the gates of heaven. In early morning, Phosphoros "issuing from the waters of the Ocean, raises in heaven his sacred head to announce the approach of divine light". ( Iliad, XXIII. 226; Odyss: XIII. 93; Virg: Aeneid, VIII. 589; Mythologie de la Grèce Antique: 247). He holds a torch in his hand and flies through space as he precedes the car of Aurora. In the evening he [Page 17] becomes Hesperos, "the most splendid of the stars that shine on the celestial vault" ( Iliad, XXII. 317). He is the father of the Hesperides, the guardians of the golden apples together with the Dragon; the beautiful genius of the flowing golden curls, sung and glorified in all the ancient epithalami (the bridal songs of the early Christians as of the pagan Greeks); he, who at the fall of the night, leads the nuptial cortège and delivers the bride into the arms of the bridegroom. (Carmen Nuptiale. See Mythologie de la Grèce Antique. Decharme.)
So far, there seems to be no possible rapprochement, no analogy to be discovered between this poetical personification of a star, a purely astronomical myth, and the Satanism of Christian theology. True, the close connection between the planet as Hesperos, the evening star, and the Greek Garden of Eden with its Dragon and the golden apples may, with a certain stretch of imagination, suggest some painful comparisons with the third chapter of Genesis. But this is insufficient to justify the building of a theological wall of defence against paganism made up of slander and misrepresentations.
But of all the Greek euhemerisations, Lucifer-Eosphoros is, perhaps, the most complicated. The planet has become with the Latins, Venus, or Aphrodite - Anadyomene, the foam-born Goddess, the "Divine Mother," and one with the Phoenician Astarte, or the Jewish Astaroth. They were all called "The Morning Star," and the Virgins of the Sea, or Mar (whence Mary), the great Deep, titles now given by the Roman Church to their Virgin Mary. They were all connected with the moon and the crescent, with the Dragon and the planet Venus, as the mother of Christ has been made connected with all these attributes. If the Phoenician mariners carried, fixed on the prow of their ships, the image of the goddess Astarte (or Aphrodite, Venus Erycina) and looked upon the evening and the morning star as their guiding star, "the eye of their Goddess mother", so do the Roman Catholic sailors the same to this day. They fix a Madonna on the prows of their vessels, and the blessed Virgin Mary is called the "Virgin of the Sea." The accepted patroness of Christian sailors, their star, "Stella Del Mar", etc., she stands on the crescent moon. Like the old pagan Goddesses, she is the "Queen of Heaven", and the "Morning Star" just as they were.
Whether this can explain anything, is left to the reader's sagacity. Meanwhile, Lucifer-Venus has nought to do with darkness, and everything with light. When called Lucifer, it is the " light bringer ", the first radiant beam which destroys the lethal darkness of night. When named Venus, the planet-star becomes the symbol of dawn, the chaste Aurora. Professor Max Müller rightly conjectures that Aphrodite, born of the sea, is a personification of the Dawn of Day, and the most lovely of all the sights in Nature ("Science of Language") for, before her naturalisation by the Greeks, Aphrodite was Nature personified, the life and light of the Pagan world, as proven in the beautiful invocation to Venus by [Page 18] Lucretius, quoted by Decharme. She is divine Nature in her entirety, Aditi-Prakriti before she becomes Lakshmi. She is that Nature before whose majestic and fair face, "the winds fly away, the quieted sky pours torrents of light, and the sea-waves smile", (Lucretius). When referred to as the Syrian goddess Astarte, the Astaroth of Hieropolis, the radiant planet was personified as a majestic woman, holding in one outstretched hand a torch, in the other, a crooked staff in the form of a cross. (Vide Lucian's De Dea Syriê, and Cicero's De Nat. Deorum, 3 c. 23). Finally, the planet is represented astronomically, as a globe poised above the cross — a symbol no devil would like to associate with — while the planet Earth is a globe with a cross over it.
But then, these crosses are not the symbols of Christianity, but the Egyptian crux ansata, the attribute of Isis (who is Venus, and Aphrodite, Nature, also) ♀or ♀ the planet; the fact that the Earth has the crux ansata reversed, ♁ having a great occult significance upon which there is no necessity of entering at present.
Now what says the Church and how does it explain the "dreadful association"? The Church believes in the devil, of course, and could not afford to lose him. "The Devil is the chief pillar of the Church" confesses unblushingly an advocate [Thus saith Des Mousseaux. "Moeurs et Pratiques des Démons." p. X — and he is corroborated in this by Cardinal de Ventura. The Devil, he says, "is one of the great personages whose life is closely allied to that of the Church; and without him . . . the fall of man could not have taken place. If it were not for him (the Devil), the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Crucified would be but the most ridiculous of supernumeraries and the Cross an insult to good sense". And if so. then we should feel thankful to the poor Devil. ] of the Ecclesia Militans. "All the Alexandrian Gnostics speak to us of the fall of the Aeons and their Pleroma, and all attribute that fall to the desire to know", writes another volunteer in the same army, slandering the Gnostics as usual and identifying the desire to know or occultism, magic, with Satanism. [De Mirville. "No Devil, no Christ", he exclaims ] And then, forthwith, he quotes from Schlegel's Philosophie de l 'Histoire to show that the seven rectors (planets) of Pymander, "commissioned by God to contain the phenomenal world in their seven circles, lost in love with their own beauty, [ This is only another version of Narcissus, the Greek victim of his own fair looks. ] came to admire themselves with such intensity that owing to this proud self-adulation they finally fell."
Perversity having thus found its way amongst the angels, the most beautiful creature of God "revolted against its Maker." That creature is in theological fancy Venus-Lucifer, or rather the informing Spirit or Regent of that planet. This teaching is based on the following speculation. The three principal heroes of the great sidereal catastrophe mentioned in Revelation are, according to the testimony of the Church fathers — "the Verbum, Lucifer his usurper (see editorial) and the grand Archangel who conquered him", and whose "palaces" (the "houses" [Page 19] astrology calls them) are in the Sun, Venus-Lucifer and Mercury. This is quite evident, since the position of these orbs in the Solar system correspond in their hierarchical order to that of the "heroes" in Chapter xii of Revelation "their names and destinies (?) being closely connected in the theological (exoteric) system with these three great metaphysical names". (De Mirville's Mémoire to the Academy of France, on the rapping Spirits and the Demons.)
The outcome of this was, that theological legend made of Venus-Lucifer the sphere and domain of the fallen Archangel, or Satan before his apostacy. Called upon to reconcile this statement with that other fact, that the metaphor of "the morning star," is applied to both Jesus, and his Virgin mother, and that the planet Venus-Lucifer is included, moreover, among the "stars" of the seven planetary spirits worshipped by the Roman Catholics [ The famous temple dedicated to the Seven Angels at Rome, and built by Michael-Angelo in 1561, is still there, now called the "Church of St. Mary of the Angels". In the old Roman Missals printed in 1563 — one or two of which may still be seen in Palazzo Barberini — one may find the religious service ( officio ) of the seven angels, and their old and occult names. That the "angels" are the pagan Rectors, under different names — the Jewish having replaced the Greek and Latin names — of the seven planets is proven by what Pope Pius V said in his Bull to the Spanish Clergy, permitting and encouraging the worship of the said seven spirits of the stars. "One cannot exalt too much these seven rectors of the world, figured by the seven planets, as it is consoling to our century to witness by the grace of God the cult of these seven ardent lights, and of these seven stars reassuming all its lustre in the Christian republic." (Les Sept Esprits et l'Histoire de leur Culte; De Mirville's 2nd memoir addressed to the academy. Vol. II. p. 358 ] under new names, the defenders of the Latin dogmas and beliefs answer as follows: —
"Lucifer, the jealous neighbour of the Sun (Christ) said to himself in his great pride: 'I will rise as high as he!' He was thwarted in his design by Mercury, though the brightness of the latter (who is St. Michael) was as much lost in the blazing fires of the great Solar orb as his own was, and though, like Lucifer, Mercury is only the assessor, and the guard of honour to the Sun." ( Ibid .)
Guards of "dishonour" now rather, if the teachings of theological Christianity were true. But here comes in the cloven foot of the Jesuit. The ardent defender of Roman Catholic Demonolatry and of the worship of the seven planetary spirits, at the same time, pretends great wonder at the coincidences between old Pagan and Christian legends, between the fable about Mercury and Venus, and the historical truths told of St. Michael — the "angel of the face" — the terrestrial double, or ferouer of Christ. He points them out saying: "like Mercury, the archangel Michael, is the friend of the Sun, his Mitra, perhaps, for Michael is a psychopompic genius, one who leads the separated souls to their appointed abodes, and like Mitra, he is the well-known adversary of the demons". This is demonstrated by the book of the Nabatheans recently discovered [Page 20] (by Chwolson), in which the Zoroastrian Mitra is called the " grand enemy of the planet Venus." [ Herodotus showing the identity of Mitra and Venus, the sentence in the Nabathean Agriculture is evidently misunderstood. ] (Ibid p. 160.)
There is something in this. A candid confession, for once, of perfect identity of celestial personages and of borrowing from every pagan source. It is curious, if unblushing. While in the oldest Mazdean allegories, Mitra conquers the planet Venus, in Christian tradition Michael defeats Lucifer, and both receive, as war spoils, the planet of the vanquished deity.
"Mitra", says Dollinger, "possessed, in days of old, the star of Mercury, placed between the sun and the moon, but he was given the planet of the conquered, and ever since his victory he is identified with Venus". ("Judaisme and Paganisme," Vol. II., p. 109. French translation )
"In the Christian tradition", adds the learned Marquis, "St. Michael is apportioned in Heaven the throne and the palace of the foe he has vanquished. Moreover, like Mercury, during the palmy days of paganism, which made sacred to this demon-god all the promontories of the earth, the Archangel is the patron of the same in our religion." This means, if it does mean anything, that now, at any rate, Lucifer-Venus is a sacred planet, and no synonym of Satan, since St. Michael has become his legal heir?
The above remarks conclude with this cool reflection:
"It is evident that paganism has utilised beforehand, and most marvellously, all the features and characteristics of the prince of the face of the Lord (Michael) in applying them to that Mercury, to the Egyptian Hermes Anubis, and the Hermes Christos of the Gnostics. Each of these was represented as the first among the divine councillors, and the god nearest to the sun, quis ut Deus".
Which title, with all its attributes, became that of Michael. The good Fathers, the Master Masons of the temple of Church Christianity, knew indeed how to utilize pagan material for their new dogmas.
The fact is, that it is sufficient to examine certain Egyptian cartouches, pointed out by Rossellini (Egypte, Vol. I., p. 289), to find Mercury (the double of Sirius in our solar system) as Sothis, preceded by the words "sole" and "solis custode, sostegnon dei dominanti, e forte grande dei vigilanti," watchman of the sun, sustainer of dominions, and the strongest of all the vigilants". All these titles and attributes are now those of the Archangel Michael, who has inherited them from the demons of paganism.
Moreover, travellers in Rome may testify to the wonderful presence in the statue of Mitra, at the Vatican, of the best known Christian symbols. Mystics boast of it. They find "in his lion's head, and the eagle's wings, those of the courageous Seraph, the master of space (Michael); in his caduceus, the spear, in the two serpents coiled round the body, [Page 21] the struggle of the good and bad principles, and especially in the two keys which the said Mitra holds, like St. Peter, the keys with which this Seraph-patron of the latter opens and shuts the gates of Heaven, astra cludit et recludit." (Mem. p. 162.)
To sum up, the aforesaid shows that the theological romance of Lucifer was built upon the various myths and allegories of the pagan world, and that it is no revealed dogma, but simply one invented to uphold superstition. Mercury being one of the Sun's assessors, or the cynocephali of the Egyptians and the watch-dogs of the Sun, literally, the other was Eosphoros, the most brilliant of the planets, "qui mane oriebaris," the early rising, or the Greek ὀρθρινὀς.It was identical with the Amoon-ra, the light-bearer of Egypt, and called by all nations "the second born of light" (the first being Mercury), the beginning of his (the Sun's) ways of wisdom, the Archangel Michael being also referred to as the principium viarum Domini.
Thus a purely astronomical personification, built upon an occult meaning which no one has hitherto seemed to unriddle outside the Eastern wisdom, has now become a dogma, part and parcel of Christian revelation. A clumsy transference of characters is unequal to the task of making thinking people accept in one and the same trinitarian group, the "Word" or Jesus, God and Michael (with the Virgin occasionally to complete it) on the one hand, and Mitra, Satan and Apollo - Abaddon on the other: the whole at the whim and pleasure of Roman Catholic Scholiasts. If Mercury and Venus (Lucifer) are (astronomically in their revolution around the Sun) the symbols of God the Father, the Son, and of their Vicar, Michael, the "Dragon-Conqueror", in Christian legend, why should they when called Apollo-Abaddon, the "King of the Abyss", Lucifer, Satan, or Venus — become forthwith devils and demons? If we are told that the "conqueror", or "Mercury-Sun", or again St. Michael of the Revelation, was given the spoils of the conquered angel, namely, his planet, why should opprobrium be any longer attached to a constellation so purified? Lucifer is now the "Angel of the Face of the Lord", ["Both in Biblical and pagan theologies", says de Mirville, "the Sun has its god, its defender, and its sacrilegious usurper, in other words, its Ormuzd, its planet Mercury (Mitra), and its Lucifer, Venus (or Ahriman), taken away from its ancient master, and now given to its conqueror". (P. 164.) Therefore, Lucifer-Venus is quite holy now ] because "that face is mirrored in it". We think rather, because the Sun is reflecting his beams in Mercury seven times more than it does on our Earth, and twice more in Lucifer-Venus: the Christian symbol proving again its astronomical origin. But whether from the astronomical, mystical or symbological aspect, Lucifer is as good as any other planet. To advance as a proof of its demoniacal character, and identity with Satan, the configuration of Venus, which gives to the crescent of this planet the appearance of a cut-off horn is rank nonsense. But to connect this with the horns of "The Mystic [Page 22] Dragon" in Revelation — "one of which was broken" [ In Revelation there is no "horn broken", but it is simply said in Chapter XIII, 3, that John saw "one of his heads, as it were, wounded to death". John knew naught in his generation of "a horned" devil. ] — as the two French Demonologists, the Marquis de Mirville and the Chevalier des Mousseaux, the champions of the Church militant, would have their readers believe in the second half of our present century — is simply an insult to the public.
Besides which, the Devil had no horns before the fourth century of the Christian era. It is a purely Patristic invention arising from their desire to connect the god Pan, and the pagan Fauns and Satyrs, with their Satanic legend. The demons of Heathendom were as hornless and as tailless as the Archangel Michael himself in the imaginations of his worshippers. The "horns" were, in pagan symbolism, an emblem of divine power and creation, and of fertility in nature. Hence the ram's horns of Ammon, of Bacchus, and of Moses on ancient medals, and the cow's horns of Isis and Diana, etc., etc., and of the Lord God of the Prophets of Israel himself. For Habakkuk gives the evidence that this symbolism was accepted by the "chosen people" as much as by the Gentiles. In Chapter III that prophet speaks of the "Holy One from Mount Paran," of the Lord God who "comes from Teman, and whose brightness was as the light", and who had " horns coming out of his hand".
When one reads, moreover, the Hebrew text of Isaiah, and finds that no Lucifer is mentioned at all in Chapter XIV., v. 12, but simply ללה Hillel, "a bright star", one can hardly refrain from wondering that educated people should be still ignorant enough at the close of our century to associate a radiant planet — or anything else in nature for the matter of that — with the DEVIL! [The literal words used, and their translation, are: "Aïk Naphelta Mi-Shamayim Hillel Ben-Shachar Negdangta La-Aretz Cholesch El-Goüm", or, "How art thou fallen from the heavens, Hillel, Son of the Morning, how art thou cast down unto the earth, thou who didst cast down the nations". Here the word, translated "Lucifer", is לֵליה Hillel, and its meaning is "shining brightly or gloriously". It is very true also, that by a pun to which Hebrew words lend themselves so easily, the verb hillel may be made to mean "to howl," hence, by an easy derivation, hillel may be constructed into "howler", or a devil, a creature, however, one hears rarely, if ever, "howling", In his Lexicon, Art. לה Parkhurst says: "The Syriac translation of this passage renders it לל׳א 'howl'; and even Jerome observes that it literally means 'to howl.' Michaelis translates it, 'Howl, Son of the Morning'." But at this rate, Hillel, the great Jewish sage and reformer, might also be called a "howler", and connected with the devil! ] [Page 23]
THE BLOSSOM AND THE FRUIT
A TALE OF LOVE AND MAGIC
by Mabel Collins
Author of “The Prettiest Woman in Warsaw” etc., etc..
And Scribe of “The Idyll of the White Lotus” and “Through the Gates of Gold”
One facet of the stone,
One ray of the star,
One petal of the flower of life,
But the one that stands outermost and faces us, who are men and women.
THIS strange story has come to me from a far country and was brought to me
in a mysterious manner; I claim only to be the scribe and the editor. In this
capacity, however, it is I who am answerable to the public and the critics.
I therefore ask in advance one favour only of the reader; that he will accept
(while reading this story) the theory of the reincarnation of souls as a living
Containing two sad lives on earth,
And two sweet times of sleep in Heaven.
OVERHEAD the boughs of the trees intermingle, hiding the deep, blue sky and mellowing the fierce heat of the sun. The boughs are so covered with white blossoms that it is like a canopy of clustered snow-flakes, tinged here and there with a soft pink. It is a natural orchard, a spot favoured by the wild apricot. And among the trees, wandering from shine to shade, flitting to and fro, is a solitary figure. It is that of a young woman, a savage, one of a wild and fierce tribe dwelling in the fastnesses of an inaccessible virgin forest. She is dark but beautiful. Her blue-black hair hangs far down over her naked body; its masses shield the warm, quivering, nervous brown skin from the direct rays of the sun. She wears neither clothing nor any ornament. Her eyes are dark, fierce and tender: her mouth soft and natural as the lips of an opening flower. She is absolutely perfect in her simple savage beauty and in the natural majesty of her womanhood, virgin in herself and virgin in the quality of her race, which is untaught, undegraded. But in her sublimely natural face is the dawn of a great tragedy. Her [Page 24] soul, her thought, is struggling to awake. She has done a deed that seemed to her quite simple, quite natural; yet now it is done a dim perplexity is rising within her obscure mind. Wandering to and fro beneath the rich masses of blossom-laden boughs, she for the first time endeavours to question herself. Finding no answer within she goes again to look on that which she has done.
A form lies motionless upon the ground within the thickest shade of the rich fruit trees. A young man, one of her own tribe, beautiful like herself, and with strength and vigour written in every line of his form. But he is dead. He was her lover, and she found his love sweet, yet with one wild treacherous movement of her strong supple arm she had killed him. The blood flowed from his forehead where the sharp stone had made the death wound. The life blood ebbed away from his strong young form; a moment since his lips still trembled, now they were still. Why had she in this moment of fierce passion taken that beautiful life ? She loved him as well as her untaught heart knew how to love; but he, exulting in his greater strength, tried to snatch her love, before it was ripe. It was but a blossom, like the white flowers overhead: he would have taken it with strong hands as though it were a fruit ripe and ready. And then in a sudden flame of wondrous new emotion the woman became aware that the man was her enemy, that he desired to be her tyrant Until now she had thought him as herself, a thing to love as she loved herself, with a blind unthinking trust. And she acted passionately upon the guidance of this thing — feeling — which until now she had never known. He, unaccustomed to any treachery or anger, suspected no strange act from her, and thus, unsuspicious, unwarned, he was at her mercy. And now he lay dead at her feet. And still the fierce sun shone through the green leaves and silvern blossoms and gleamed upon her black hair and tender brown skin. She was beautiful as the morning when it rose over the tree tops of that world-old forest. But there is a new wonder in her dark eyes; a question that was not there until this strange and potent hour came to her. What ages must pass over her dull spirit ere it can utter the question; ere it can listen and hear the answer ?
The savage woman, nameless, unknown save of her tribe, who regard her as indifferently as any creature of the woods, has none to help her or stay in its commencement the great roll of the wave of energy she has started. Blindly she lives out her own emotions. She is dissatisfied, uneasy, conscious of some error. When she leaves the orchard of wild fruit trees and wanders back to the clearer part of the forest beneath the great trees, where her tribe dwells, when she returns among them her lips are dumb, her voice is silent. None ever heard that he, the one she loved, had died by her hand, for she knew not how to frame or tell this story. It was a mystery to her, this thing which had happened. Yet it made her sad, and her great eyes wore a dumb look of longing. But [Page 25] she was very beautiful and soon another young and sturdy lover was always at her side. He did not please her; there was not the glow in his eyes that had gladdened her in those of the dead one whom she had loved. And yet she shrunk not from him nor did she raise her arm in anger, but held it fast at her side lest her passion should break loose unawares. For she felt that she had brought a want, a despair upon herself by her former deed; and now she determined that she would act differently. Blindly she tried to learn the lesson that had come upon her. Blindly she let herself be the agent of her own will. For now she became the willing slave and serf of one whom she did not love, and whose passion for her was full of tyranny. Yet she did not, she dared not, resist this tyranny; not because, she feared him, but because she feared herself. She, had the feeling that one might have who had come in contact with a new and hitherto unknown natural force. She feared lest resistance or independence should bring upon her a greater wonder, a greater sadness and loss than that which she had already brought upon herself.
And so she submitted to that which in her first youth would no more have been endured by her than the bit by the wild horse.
The apricot blossom has fallen and
fruit has followed it; the leaves have fallen and the trees are bare. The
sky is grey and wild above, the ground dank and soft with fallen leaves below.
The aspect of the place is changed, but it is the same; the face and form
of the woman have changed; but she is the same. She is alone again in the
wild orchard, finding her way by instinct to the spot where her first lover
died. She has found it. What is there ? Some white bones that lie together;
a skeleton. The woman's eyes fasten and feed on the sight and grow large
and terrible. Horror at last is struck into her soul. This is all that is
left of her young love, who died by her hand — white
bones that lie in ghastly order ! And the long hot days and sultry nights of
her life have been given to a tyrant who has reaped no gladness and no satisfaction
from her submission; for he has not learned yet even the difference between
woman and woman. All alike are mere creatures like the wild things; creatures
to hunt and to conquer. Dumbly in her dark heart strange questionings arise.
She turns from this graveyard of her unquestioning time and goes back to her
slavery. Through the years of her life she waits and wonders, looking blankly
at the life around her. Will no answer come to her soul ?
AFTER SLEEP, AWAKENING
SPLENDID was the veil that shielded her from that other soul, the soul she
knew and of which she showed her recognition by swift and sudden love. But
the veil separated them; a veil heavy with gold and shining with stars of silver.
And as she gazed upon these stars, with [Page
26] delighted admiration of their
brilliance, they grew larger and larger, till at length they blended together,
and the veil became one shining sheen gorgeous with golden broideries. Then
it became easier to see through the veil, or rather it seemed easier to these
lovers. For before the veil had made the shape appear dim; now it appeared
glorious and ideally beautiful and strong. Then the woman put out her hand,
hoping to obtain the pressure of another hand through the shining gossamer.
And at the same instant he too put out his hand, for in this moment their souls
communicated, and they understood each other. Their hands touched; the veil
was broken; the moment of joy was ended and again the struggle began.
SITTING, singing, on the steps of an old palace, her feet paddling in the water of a broad canal, was a child who was becoming more than a child; a creature on the threshold of life of , awakening sensation. A girl, with ruddy gold hair, and innocent blue eyes, that had in their vivid depths the strange startled look of a wild creature. She was as simple and isolated in her happiness as any animal of the woods or hills — the sunshine, the sweet air with the faint savour of salt in it, her own pure clear girlish voice, and the gay songs of the people that she sang — these were pleasure enough and to spare for her.
But the space of unconscious happiness or unhappiness which heralds the real events of a life was already at an end. The great wave which she had set in motion was increasing in volume ceaselessly; how long before it shall reach the shore and break upon that far off coast ? None can know, save those whose eyesight is more than man's. None can tell; and she is ignorant, unknowing. But though she knows nothing of it, she is within the sweep of the wave, and is powerless to arrest it until her soul shall awake.
"My blossom, my beautiful wild flower", said a voice close beside her. A young boatman had brought his small vessel so gently to the steps she had not noticed his approach. He leaned over his boat towards her, and touched her bare white feet with his hand.
"Come away with me, Wild Blossom", he said. " Leave that wretched home you cling to. What is there to keep you there now your mother is dead ? Your father is like a savage, and makes you live like a savage too. Come away with me, and we will live among people who will love you and find you beautiful as I do. Will you come? How often have I asked you, Wild Blossom, and you have never answered. Will you answer now ? "
" Yes", said the girl,
looking up with grave, serious eyes, that had beneath their beauty a melancholy
meaning, a sad question. [Page
The man saw this strange look and interpreted it as clearly as he could.
"Trust me", he said, " I am not a savage like your father. When you are my little wife I will care for you far more dearly than myself. You will be my soul, my guide, my star. And I will shield you as my soul is shielded within my body, follow you as my guide, look up to you as to a star in the blue heavens. Surely you can trust my love, Wild Blossom."
He had not answered the doubt in her heart, for he had not guessed what it was, nor could she have told him. For she had not yet learned to know what it was, nor to know of it more than that it troubled her. But she put it aside and silenced it now, for the moment had come to do so. Not till she had learned her lesson much more fully could the question ever be expressed even to her own soul, and before this could be, the question must be silenced many times.
"Yes", she said, " I will come".
She held out her hand to him as if to seal the compact. He interpreted the
gesture by his own desire, and taking her hand in his drew her towards him.
She yielded and stepped into the boat. And then he quickly pushed away from
the steps, and, dipping his oars in the water, soon had gone far away down
the canal. Blossom looking earnestly back, watched the old palace disappear.
In some of its old rooms and on its sunny steps her child-life had been spent.
Now she knew that was at an end. She understood that all was changed henceforth,
though she could not guess into what she was going, and she waited for her
future with a strange confidence in the companion she had accepted. This puzzled
her dimly. Yet how should she lack confidence, having known him long ago and
thrown away his love and his life beneath the wild apricot trees, having seen
afterwards the steadfastness of his love when her soul stood beside his in
soul life ? '
A long way they went in the little boat. They left the canals and went out upon the open sea, and still the boatman rowed unwearyingly, his eyes all the while upon the beautiful wild blossom he had plucked and carried away with him to be his own, his dear and adored possession. Far away along the coast lay a small village of fishermen's cots. It was to this that the young man guided his boat, for it was here he dwelled.
At the door of his cot stood his old mother, a quaint old woman with wrinkled, rosy face, wearing a rough fishwife's dress and coarse shawl; her brown hand shaded her eyes as she watched her son's boat approaching. Presently a smile came on her mouth. " He's gotten the blossom he's talked of so often in his sleep. Will he be happy now, the good lad ? "
He was truly a good lad; for his mother knew him well, and the more she knew him the deeper grew her love. She would do anything for [Page 28] his happiness. And now she took to her arms the child, the Blossom, and cherished her for his sake. Before many days had passed the fishing village made a fête day for the wedding of its strongest boatman. And the women's eyes filled with tears when they looked at the sad, tender, questioning face of the beautiful Wild Blossom.
She had given her love without hesitation, in complete confidence. She had given more; herself, her life, her very soul. The surrender was now complete.
And now, when all seemed done and
all accomplished, her question began to be answered. Dimly she knew that,
spite of the husband at whose feet she bowed, spite of the babes she carried
in her arms till their tiny feet were strong enough to carry them down over
the shore to the marge of the blue waters, spite of the cottage home she
garnished and cleansed and loved so dearly, spite of all, her heart was hungry
and empty. What could it mean, that though she had all she had none ? Blossom
was grown a woman now, and there were some lines of care and of pain on her
forehead. Yet, still, she was beautiful and still she bore her child-name
of Blossom; but the beauty of her face grew sadder and more strange as the
years went by, the years that bring ease and satisfaction to the stagnant
soul. Wild Blossom's soul was eager and anxious; she could not still the
mysterious voices of her heart, and these told her (though perhaps she did
not always understand their speech) that her husband was not in reality her
king; that he heard no sound from that inner region in which she chiefly
existed. For him contentment existed in the outward life that he lived, in
sheer physical pleasure, in the excitement of hard work, and the dangers of
the sea, in the beauty of his wife, the mirth of his happy children. He asked
no more. But Wild Blossom's eyes had the prophetic light in them. She saw that
all this peace must pass, this pleasure end; she recognised that these things
did not, could not, absolutely satisfy the spirit; her soul seemed to tremble
within her as she began to feel the first dawn of the terrible answer to her
A deeper dream of rest;
A stronger waking.
MANY a long year later, a solitary woman dwelled in that fisherman's cottage on the shore of the blue sea. She was old and bowed with age and trouble. But still her eyes were brighter than any girl's in the village, and held in them the mysterious beauty of the soul; still her hair, once golden, now grey, waved about her forehead. The people loved her and were kind to her, for she was always gentle and full of generous thought. But they never understood her, for they were long ages behind her in her growth. She was ready now for the great central of personal existence; the experience of life in civilization. When the old fishwife lay dead within her cottage, and the people came to [Page 29] grieve beside her body, they little guessed that she was going on to a great and glorious future; a future full of daring and of danger. When her eyes closed in death, her inner eyes opened on a sight that filled her with absolute joy. She was in a garden of fruit trees, and the blossom of the trees was at its full. When her eyes fell on this white maze of flowers and drank in its beauty, she remembered the name she had borne on earth and dimly understood its meaning. The blossoms hid from her the sky and all else until a soft pressure on her hand drew her eyes downwards; and then she saw beside her that one whom she had loved through the ages, and who, side by side with her, was experiencing the profound mystery, and learning the strange lesson of incarnation in the world where sex is the first great teacher. And with each phase of existence that they passed through, these two forged stronger and stronger links that held them together and compelled them again and again to meet, so that together they were destined to pass through the vital hour; the hour when the life is shaped for greater ends or for vain deeds.
Here within this sheltered place, where blossoms filled the air with sweetness and beauty, it seemed to them, that they had attained to the full of pleasure. They rested in perfect satisfaction, drinking deep draughts of the joy of living. To them existence seemed a final and splendid fact in itself; existence as they then had it. The moment in which they lived was sufficient, they desired none other, nor any other place, nor any other beauty, than those they had. None knows and none can tell what time or age was passed in this deep contentment and fulfilment of pleasure. At last Wild Blossom's soul woke from its sleep, satiated; the hunger returned to gnaw at her heart; the longing to know reasserted itself. Holding tight the hand she held in hers, she sprang from the soft couch on which she lay. Then, for the first time, she noticed that the ground was so soft and pleasant, because there, where she had lain, had drifted great heaps of the fallen fruit blossoms. The ground was all white with them, though some had begun to lose their delicate beauty, to curl and wrinkle and turn dark. Then she looked overhead and saw that the trees had, with the loss of the delicate petals, lost their first fairness, the splendour of the spring. Now they were covered with small, hard, green fruit, scarce formed, unbeautiful to the eye, hard to the touch, acid to the taste. With a shudder of regret for the sweet spring time that was gone, Wild Blossom hurried away from the trees, still holding fast that other hand in hers. She was going to face new, strange experiences, perhaps terrible dangers: her task was the easier for that tried companionship, for the nearness of that other who was climbing the same steep ladder of life. [Page 30]
END OF INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER - I -
IN a masked ball there is an element of adventure that appeals to the daring of both sexes, to the bright and witty spirits. Hilary Estanol was just such an one as the hero of a bright revel should be. A beautiful boy, with a lovely face, and eyes that had in them a deep sadness. In repose his face was almost womanish in its softness; but a chill brilliance was in his smile, a certain slight cynicism coloured all his speech. Yet Hilary had no reason to be a cynic, and he was not one who adopted anything from fashion or affectation. The spring of this uncalled-for coldness and indifference lay in himself.
Tonight he was the centre of attraction in Madame Estanol's drawing-rooms. This bal masqué was to celebrate his coming of age, and Hilary had never looked so womanish as when he stood among his friends' receiving their congratulations and admiring their gifts. He wore the dress of a troubadour, and it was one which became him well, not only in its picturesqueness as a costume, but in the requirements of the character. He had the faculty of the improvisatore, his voice was rich and soft, his musical and poetic gifts swift and versatile. Hilary was adored by his friends, but disliked, indeed almost hated, by his one near relation, his mother. She was standing near him now, talking to a group who had gathered round her. She was one of the cleverest women of the day, and, still beautiful and full of a charming pride, held a court of her own. Her dislike for Hilary was founded on her estimate of his character. To one of her intimate friends she had said, not long before this night, "Hilary will disgrace his name and family before there is one grey thread in his dark hair. He has the qualities that bring despair and ensure remorse. God will surely forgive me that I say this of my son; but I see it before me, an abyss into which he will drag me with him; and I wait for it every day."
A guest, just arrived, approached Madame Estanol with a smile, and after greeting her affectionately, said, in a whisper, " I have brought a friend with me. Welcome her in her character as a fortune-teller. She is very witty, and will amuse us presently, if you like".
She moved aside a little, and Madame Estanol saw standing behind her a stooping figure, an old haggard crone, with palsied head, and hand that trembled as it grasped her stick.
" Ah, Countess ! it is impossible to recognise your friend under this disguise", said Madame Estanol. " Will you not tell me who she is ? "
" I am pledged to say nothing but that she is a fortune-teller", said the Countess Bairoun. " Her name she herself will reveal only to one person; and that person must be born under the star that favoured her own birth."
The fortune-teller turned her bent head towards Madame Estanol, and fixed a pair of brilliant and fascinating eyes on hers. Immediately Madame Estanol became aware of a strong charm that drew her towards [Page 31] this mysterious person. She advanced and held out her hand to assist the old woman in moving across the room.
" Come with me", she said, " I should like to introduce you to my son. He is the hero of this scene tonight, for the ball is held in honour of his coming of age".
They went together through the maskers that were now beginning to throng the large drawing-rooms, and everyone turned to look at the strange figure of the tottering old crone. Hilary Estanol was leaning against the high carved oak mantel frame of the inner drawing-room, surrounded by a laughing group of his intimate friends. He held his mask in his hand, and as he stood there smiling, his dark curls falling on his forehead, his mother thought, as she approached him, " My boy grows handsomer every hour of his gay young life". When Hilary saw his mother's strange companion he advanced a step, as if to welcome her, But Madame Estanol checked him with a smile. " I cannot introduce our visitor to you", she said, " for I do not know her name. She will tell it to but one person, who must have been born under the same star as herself. Meantime, we are to greet her in her character as the fortune-teller."
This announcement was welcomed by a murmur of amusement and interest.
"Then will our kind visitor perhaps exercise her craft for us ? " asked Hilary, gazing with curiosity at the trembling head and grey locks before him. The old woman turned her head sideways, and gave him a look from those strange brilliant eyes. He, too, like his mother, felt the charm from them. But he felt more. Something suddenly wakened within him; a rush of inexplicable emotions roused him into amazement; he put his hand to his forehead; he was bewildered, almost faint.
There was a small drawing-room which opened out of the room they were in. It was so tiny that it held but a table covered with flowers, a low couch and an easy-chair. The laughing group that surrounded Hilary went eagerly to convert this room into the sanctum of the prophetess. They lowered and softened the shaded light; drew close the blinds and shut the doors, locking all but one. Here was placed a guardian who was to admit grudgingly and one by one those who were fortunate enough to speak alone with the sybil, for she would only see certain of the guests whom she selected herself from the throng, describing their appearance and dress to the guardian of her improvised temple. These were all ladies of great position. They entered laughing and half defiant. They came out, some pale, some red, some trembling, some in tears. " Who can she be ? " they whispered in terrified tones to one another, and in that terror showed how she had penetrated their hearts and touched on their secret thoughts.
At last the guardian of the door said that Hilary himself was to enter.
When Hilary went in, the young man, as he closed the door on the [Page 32] fortune teller and her new guest, turned with a laugh to the group behind him.
"Already she has startled him", he said, " I heard him utter almost a cry as he entered".
" Could you see in ? " asked one, "perhaps she has taken off her disguise for her host! "
" No, I saw nothing", he answered. "Can none of you who have been in guess who she is ? "
" No", answered a girl who had come out from the ordeal with white and trembling lips. " It is impossible to guess. She knows everything".
It was as they had supposed. She had taken off her disguise for her host. The staff, the large cloak, the wig and cap lay on the ground. With the swift use of a cosmetiqued kerchief she had removed from her fair skin the dark complexion of the ancient sybil. When Hilary entered she had completed this rapid toilette and sat leaning back in a low chair. She was dressed in a rich evening costume; she held a mask in her hand ready for use. But now her face was uncovered; her strange and brilliant eyes were fixed on Hilary; her beautiful mouth wore a half smile of amusement at his surprise. It was more than surprise that he experienced. Again that rush of inexplicable emotion overpowered him. He felt like one intoxicated. He regarded her very earnestly for a few moments.
"Surely", he said, "we have met before ! "
" We were born under the same star", she answered in a voice that thrilled him. Until now he had not heard her speak. The sense of some strong link or association that united them, was made doubly strong by the sound of that voice, rich, strong and soft. Suddenly he recognised the meaning of his emotion. He no longer struggled against it, he no longer was bewildered by it.
He approached her and sat down upon the couch at her side. He regarded her with wonder and adoration, but no longer with awe or surprise. For he understood that the event which he had imagined would never come was already here — he was in love.
"You said you would disclose your name to the one who was born under the same star as yourself".
" Do you not know me ? " she said with a slight look of surprise. She fancied everyone knew her at least by sight.
"I do not", he answered, "though indeed I am perplexed to think I can ever have lived without knowing you".
Flattery produced no effect upon her, she lived in an atmosphere of it.
" I am the Princess Fleta”, she answered. Hilary started and coloured a little at the words, and could ill control his emotion. The Princess Fleta held a position in the society of the country, which can only belong to one who stands next to a throne that rules an important [Page 33] nation. She was a personage among crowned heads, one to whom an emperor might, without stooping, offer his love; and Hilary, the child of an officer of the Austrian army, and of a poor daughter of a decayed aristocratic family, Hilary had in the swift stirring of love at first sight, told his own heart that he loved her! It could never be unsaid, and he knew it. He had whispered the words within himself, the whisper would find a hundred echoes. He must always love her.
The Princess turned her wonderful eyes on him and smiled.
" I have done my work for tonight," she said. " I have amused some of the people, now I should like to dance".
Hilary was sufficient of a courtier not to be deaf to this command, though his whole soul was in his eyes and all his thoughts fixed on her beauty. He rose and offered her his arm, she put on her mask and they left the room. When Hilary appeared among the crowd that hung round the door of the fortune teller's sanctum, accompanied by a slender, graceful woman, whose face was hidden save for the great dark eyes, there was an irrepressible murmur of excitement and wonder. " Who can she be ? " was repeated again a hundred times. But no one guessed. None dreamed this could be the Princess Fleta herself; for there were but few houses she would visit at, and no one imagined that there could be any inducement to bring her to Madame Estanol's. The mystery of her presence she explained to Hilary while they danced together.
" I am a student of magic", she said, " and I have already learned some useful secrets. I can read the hearts of the courtiers who surround me, and I know where to look for true friends. Last night I dreamed of the friend I should find here. Do you care for these mystic occupations ?” ‘
" I know nothing of them", said Hilary.
" Let me teach you then", said the Princess, with a light laugh. “You will be a good pupil, that I know. Perhaps I may make a disciple of you ! and there are not many with whom that is possible".
" And why ? " asked Hilary. " Surely it is a fascinating study to those who can believe in the secrets."
" Scepticism is not the great difficulty", answered the Princess, " but fear. Terror turns the crowd back from the threshold. Only a few dare cross it."
" And you are one of the few", said Hilary, gazing on her with eyes of burning admiration.
" I have never felt fear", she answered.
" And would it be impossible to make you feel it, I wonder", said Hilary.
"Do you desire to try?" she
answered, with a smile at his daring speech. It did not sound so full of
impertinence as it looks, for Hilary's eyes and face were all alight with
love and admiration, and his voice trembled with passion. [Page 34]
" You can make the attempt if you choose", she said, glancing at him with those strange eyes of hers. " Terrify me if you can."
" Not here, in my own house, it would not be hospitable."
" Come and see me, then, some day when you think it will amuse you. Try and frighten me. I will show you my laboratory, where I produce essences and incenses to please the gnomes and ghouls."
Hilary accepted this invitation with a flush of pleasure.
"Take me to the Countess", she said at last. " I am going home. But I want her first to introduce me to your mother."
The Countess was delighted that the Princess had made up her mind to this. She hardly thought Madame Estanol would be pleased to discover that the great lady had been masquerading in her drawing-room, and had not cared to throw off her disguise even for her hostess. And the Countess valued the friendship of Madame Estanol; so she was glad the wilful Princess had decided to treat her with politeness.
Madame Estanol could scarcely conceal her surprise at learning what the dignity was which had been hidden under the disguise of the old fortune-teller. The Princess did not remove her mask, and, with a laugh, she warned Madame Estanol that some of her guests would not be pleased to discover who the sybil was who had read their hearts so shrewdly.
When she had gone, Hilary's heart and spirits had gone with her. It seemed as if he hardly cared to speak; his laughter had died away altogether. His thoughts, his very self, followed the fascinating personality that had bewitched him.
Madame Estanol saw his abstraction, his flushed eager look, and the new softness of his eyes. But she said no word. She feared the Princess, who was well known to be full of caprice and wilfulness. She feared lest Hilary should be mad enough to yield to the charm of the girl's beauty and confident manner; the charm of power, peculiar, or rather, possible only to one in a royal place. But she would say no word; knowing Hilary well, she knew that any attempt to influence him against it would only intensify his new passion.
CHAPTER - II-
Two days later Hilary nerved himself to pay the visit to the Princess. He thought she could not consider it to be too soon, for it seemed to him two months since he had seen her.
She lived in a garden-house some two or three miles away in the country, Her father's palace in the city never pleased her; she only came there when festivities or ceremonials made her presence necessary. In the country, with her chaperone and her maids, she was free to do as she chose. For they were one and all afraid of her, and held her "laboratory" in the profoundest respect. None of them would have entered that room except to avoid some dreadful doom.
Hilary was taken to the Princess in the garden, where she was [Page 35] walking to and fro in an avenue of trees which were covered with sweet scented blossoms. She welcomed Hilary with a charming manner, and the hour he spent with her here in the sunshine was one of the wildest intoxication. They began openly to play the pretty game of love. Now that no eyes were on them the Princess let him forget that she belonged to a different rank from his own. When she was tired of walking, " Come", she said, " and I will show you my laboratory. No one in this house ever enters it. If you should say in the city that you have been in that room you will be besieged with questions. Be careful to say nothing."
" I would die sooner", exclaimed Hilary, to whom the idea of talking about the Princess and her secrets seemed like sacrilege.
The room was without windows, perfectly dark but for a softened light shed by a lamp in the centre of the high ceiling. The walls were painted black and on them were drawn strange figures and shapes in red. These had evidently not been painted by any artisan hand; though bold in touch, they were irregular in workmanship. Beside a great vessel which stood upon the ground, was a chair, and in this chair a figure upon which Hilary's attention immediately became fastened.
He saw at once that it was not human, that it was not a lay figure, that it was not a statue. It resembled most a lay figure, but there was something strange about it which does not exist in the mere form on which draperies are hung. And its detail was elaborated; the skin was tinted, the eyes darkened correctly, the hair appeared to be human. Hilary remained at the doorway unable to advance because of the fascination this form exercised upon him.
The Princess looked back from where
she stood in the centre of the room beneath the light; she saw the direction
of his gaze and laughed.
"You need not fear it", she said.
"Is it a lay figure?" asked
Hilary, trying to speak easily, for he remembered that she despised those
who knew fear.
" Yes", she answered, " it is my lay figure".
There was something that puzzled Hilary in her tone.
"Are you an artist ? " he asked.
" Yes", she answered, "in life — in human nature. I
do not work with a pencil or a brush; I use an agent that cannot be seen yet
can be felt".
" What do you mean ? " asked Hilary.
She turned on him a strange look, that was at first distrustful, and then grew soft and tender.
“I will not tell you yet", she
Hilary roused himself to answer her lightly.
" Have I to pass through some ordeal before you tell me ? " he asked.
" Yes", she answered gaily, "and already an ordeal faces you. Dare you advance into the room or no ? "
Hilary made a great effort to break the spell that was on him. He went hastily across the room to where she stood. Then he realized [Page 36] that he had actually passed through an ordeal. He had resisted some force, the nature of which he knew not, and he had come out the victor Realising this brought to him another conviction.
" Princess", he said, "there is some one else in this room besides you and me. We are not alone".
He spoke so suddenly, and from so great a sense of startled surprise, that he did not pause to think whether his question were a wise one or not. The Princess laughed as she looked at him.
"You are very sensitive", she said. "Certainly we were born under the same star, for we are susceptible to the same influences. No, we are not alone. I have servants here whom no eyes have seen but mine. Would you like to see them ? Do not say yes hastily. It means a long and tedious apprenticeship, obtaining mastery over these servants. But unless you conquer them you cannot often see me; for if you are much near to me they will hate you, and their hate is greater than your power to resist it".
She spoke seriously now, and Hilary felt a strange sensation as he looked at this beautiful girl standing beneath the lamp light. He experienced a sudden dread of her as of someone stronger than himself; and also an impassioned desire to serve her, to be her slave, to give his life to her utterly. Perhaps she read the love in his eyes, for she turned away and moved towards the figure in the chair.
" I know this distresses you", she said. " You shall see it no longer". She opened a large screen which was formed of some gold coloured material covered with shapes outlined in black. She arranged this so that the figure was altogether hidden from view and also the great vessel which stood beside it.
" Now", she said, "you will breathe more freely. And I am going to show you something. We did not come out of the sunshine for no purpose. And we must be quick, for my good aunt will be terrified when she finds I have brought you in here. I believe she will hardly expect to see you alive again".
She opened a gold vessel, which stood upon a cabinet, while she spoke, and the air immediately became full of a strong sweet perfume. Hilary put his hand to his forehead. Was it possible that he could be so immediately affected, or was it his imagination that the red shapes and figures which were on the black wall moved and ordered and arranged themselves ? Yet, so it was; to his eyes the forms mingled and again broke up and re-mingled. A word was formed and then another. It was unconsciously imprinted on Hilary's memory before it changed and vanished; he noticed only the mysterious occurrence which was happening before his eyes. Suddenly he became aware that a sentence had been completed; that words had been written there which he would never have dared to utter; that on the wall before him had appeared in letters as of fire the secret of his heart. He staggered back and drew his eyes with difficulty from the wall to fix them in amazement and fear [Page 37] upon the Princess. Her face was flushed, her eyes were bright and tender.
"Did you see it ? " he asked in a trembling voice.
For a moment she hesitated then she answered, " Yes, I saw it".
There was a brief silence. Hilary looked again at the wall, expecting to see the thought in his mind written there. But the shapes were returning to their original appearance, and the perfume was dying out of the air.
"Come", said the Princess suddenly, " we have been here long enough. My aunt will be distressed. Let us go to her".
She led the way from the room, and Hilary followed her. In another moment they were in a large drawing-room, flooded with sunshine and fragrant with flowers; the Princess' aunt was busied with silks which she had entangled while at her embroidery; the Princess was on her knees beside her, holding a skein of yellow silk upon her hands. Hilary stood a moment utterly bewildered. Had he been dreaming ? Was that black room and its terrible atmosphere a phantasy ?
He had stayed long enough, and he now took his leave reluctantly. The Princess, who would have no ceremony at the Garden House, rose from her knees and said she would open the gate for him. Hilary flushed with pleasure at this mark of kindness.
The gate she took him to was a narrow one that stood in a thick-set hedge of flowering shrubs. When he had passed through he looked back, and saw the Princess leaning on the gate, framed in gorgeous blossoms. She smiled and held out her hand to him. The richness of her presence intoxicated him and he lost all sense of the apparently impassable gulf between them.
" You read the words", he said, " and you give me "your hand in mine ? "
" I read the words", she answered, in a soft voice that thrilled him, " and I give you my hand in yours. Good-bye ! "
She had touched his hand for an instant, and now she was gone. Hilary turned to walk through the flowering hedges to the city. But his heart, his thought, his soul remained behind. She had read the words, and she was not angry. She knew of his love for her and she was not angry. She had read his heart and had not taken offence. What might he not hope for ?
Then came another thought. She had read the words. Then that black room was no phantasy, but a fact as actual as the sunshine. What were the powers of this strange creature that he loved ? He knew not; but he knew that he loved her.
An overpowering desire carried him daily on that road between the flowery hedges to the Garden House. Only sometimes had he the courage to enter. Most often he lingered at that narrow gate, embosomed in flowers and looked longingly over it. The first time that [Page 38] he entered after this visit, in which his secret was written before his eyes, he found the Princess standing within the gate. She held out her hand to him saying simply, " I knew you were coming. I have prepared something, and I have presuaded my aunt that no terrible thing will happen if you are in my laboratory for a little while. So come with me."
It was brilliantly lit, this black walled room she called her laboratory. The great vessel stood in the midst of the floor beneath the lamp, and from it rose flame and smoke. A strong and vivid perfume filled the air, and the upper part of the high room was clouded with grey blue smoke, that shone in the light like silver.
In the chair beside it sat a figure: it was that of a beautiful woman. A strange mixture of emotions overpowered Hilary. At the first glance he felt that this figure was the same he had seen the other day; at the second he recognised his mother. He rushed forward to her and became aware that she was lifeless; then he turned passionately upon the Princess with anger and horror in his face.
" What have you done ? What have you done ? " he "cried. "Nothing", she said, with a smile. " I have done no harm. Do you not see that is only an image ? My lay figure, as I told you".
He gave a long look at the inanimate shape that was so perfect a representation of his mother, and then he turned upon the Princess a look of more intense horror than before.
" What are you doing ? " he asked, in a low voice.
"No harm !" she answered lightly. "Your mother hates and fear me. I cannot endure that. I am making her love me. I am making her desire your presence here with me".
For a while they stood in silence by the side of the vessel and its flaming contents; then suddenly Hilary cried out: " I cannot bear it! Put an end to this terrible spell ! "
"Yes", said the Princess, " I will, but not to its results".
She drew the screen before the seated figure, and threw something into the vessel that instantly quenched the flame.
Then she led Hilary from the room, and they walked up and down beneath the trees, talking of things as lovers talk — things that interested themselves but none other.
When Hilary returned home his mother rose from her couch and held out her hand to him. She drew him to sit beside her.
" Hilary", she said, "something tells me you have been with the Princess Fleta. It is well, and I am glad. She is a good friend for you; ask her if I shall come to see her".
Hilary rose without replying. The dew stood on his brow. For the first time
he was conscious of actual fear, and the fear he felt was of the woman he loved.
(To be continued) [Page 39]
A LAW OF LIFE :
Archibald Keightley (1859-1930)
THERE is nothing more common to those who know anything about Theosophy than to be asked: — What is Karma ? Karma is a Sanskrit word which has to be used by those who discuss the idea it conveys, simply because there is no English word to correspond to it. That is very easy to answer. Then comes the question: — What is the idea which it conveys ? Than this there is nothing more difficult to answer, and the reason why this is the case is not far to seek. Let it once be granted that the constitution of man is complex and complicated, and that the soul has existed for ages that seem like an eternity, and existed, moreover, in a garb of flesh which has been changed thousands of times in the course of those ages. Let this be granted, and, in addition, that no action is without its effect in the physical, moral, and spiritual worlds, then, it will be seen, that the answer to the question: "What is Karma", is very difficult, if not well-nigh impossible. Still, some endeavour may be made to give a general idea, though the details of any individual case can hardly be calculated.
Granting the principle of reincarnation, Karma is the working of the great law which governs those incarnations; but, taken in its wider sense, Karma may be defined as a manifestation of the One, Universal, Divine Principle in the phenomenal world. Thus, it may be further defined as "the great law of Harmony" which governs the Universe.
But it may be replied that Harmony is not the great law of Nature, but, on the contrary, lack of harmony and discord. And what proof is there that Harmony is the law ?
When such proof is required, the answer is at once made: — Too short a view of life and the universe has been taken. The man who denies the existence of harmony in the universe has transgressed the law and is experiencing the punishment. He does this unconsciously to himself, because the law of harmony forms an unconscious impulse to its readjustment when it has been broken. No better illustration can be given than in the definition of a fugue, which is: — " A musical composition in contrapuntal style, in which a subject is proposed by one part, and then responded to by the others according to certain rules". Again, in musical chords, the composing notes, if taken by twos and threes, will be found in discord, but, when taken altogether, produce a harmony. Harmony is then the just adaptation of things to each other, and the universe, the personal element of man being eliminated, is essentially an evidence of harmony; otherwise it could not exist, for it would fall to [Page 40] pieces and no longer be a universe. To those who find only discord around them, the note to Rule 5, in the second part of " Light on the Path ", may convey a meaning. No other words can express it better. One reason for the apparent disharmony may be given. The desires of man are, as a rule, devoted to the gain of what may be called his personality. While such is the case in any man, to the exclusion of other interests, that man cannot dive deep into his own heart and perceive the real underlying harmony. He is incapable of understanding or even of perceiving it, because his attention is solely devoted to that which produces discord. Naturally, then, to him all things seem out of joint, the reign of discord is ever present, and he cries out perpetually against the injustice of the world he lives in. But if he will but turn his attention from his personality to the greater span of his life, and endeavour first to see evidence of harmony in those around him and then in himself, he will find that harmony; and his way will be made plain to him.
Granting, then, that it is the Great Law of Harmony or Karma which governs the Universe, and which is the Divine principle under one aspect manifested in Nature, then it is easy to understand that any action in violation of Nature's laws will produce a deviation from the straight line of harmony; consequently the law of harmony will produce an adjusting effect. Now, who is to produce that effect? Nature, or the man who committed the action ? Both, or, rather, the latter under the influence of the former. The latter most certainly, unless man is to be regarded simply as a blind puppet. It is possible to compare the situation to that of a man whose progress is contingent upon an exact balance being preserved on a pair of scales in front of him. If his actions disturb the balance of those scales and add weight to one side or the other, it is necessary immediately to add a counter-balancing weight on the opposite side and so restore the balance or harmony. (Of course this is a physical illustration, and can hardly be carried very far on the moral plane.) That is to say that the one Divine principle is divided by man's actions into two opposing forces of good and evil, and man's progress depends on the exertion of his will to preserve harmony and prevent deviation to one side or the other. Evil only exists in contradistinction to good, and the preservation of such harmony as we have and the advance towards Universal Harmony — the abstract divinity — is what all right-minded persons theoretically aspire to.
It has been thought that, in consequence of the attention paid to the classics in education, the word Nemesis would replace Karma with advantage. So perhaps it might have done, had the earliest traditions of Greek mythology been preserved. But the fatal tendency towards anthropomorphism set in very strongly even in the palmy days of Greece, and in consequence Nemesis only pourtrayed the personification of a human passion. Originally the balancing power, independent of Zeus and all the Olympian Gods, who carried out her decrees, Nemesis [Page 41] became simply the avenging deity; so much was this the case that in a general sense she might have been called the tutelary deity of those envious of their neighbour's happiness. Between these points Nemesis appears as the personification of the moral reverence for law, of the natural fear of committing a wrong action, and hence the personification of conscience. It was after this period that Nemesis was said to direct human affairs, with a view to restore the balance between happiness and unhappiness. But, in earlier times, the idea of Nemesis was divided into those of Nemesis and Adrasteia (or what Orientalists would call good and evil Karma), for even then the idea of evil was beginning to be attached to Nemesis.
But Nemesis was closely linked to both the Moirae (Fates) and the Eumenides (Furies), who were all the children of Zeus and Night. The Moirae appear generally as divinities of fate in a strict sense, and act independently at the helm of necessity. They direct fate, and watch that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws shall take its course ( Aesch: Prometheus Vinctus, 511-515). Zeus, as well as gods and men, submits to them. They assign their proper functions to the Erinnyes who inflict the punishment, and are sometimes called their sisters (Aesch: Eumen: 335, 962; Prometheus 516, 696, 895). These latter were always considered to be more ancient than the Olympian gods, and were therefore not under the rule of Zeus, though they honoured and esteemed him. The crimes which they especially punished were (l), violation of the respect due to old age; (2), perjury; (3), murder; (4), violation of the law of hospitality; (5), improper conduct towards suppliants; and the punishment was inflicted not only after death but during life. (It is somewhat curious that these "crimes" are also those actions which entail the heaviest Karma.) No prayers, sacrifices, or tears could move them or protect the object of their persecution. When they feared that he would escape, they called in Dikè to their assistance, with whom they were closely connected, as justice was said to be their only object.
Now when the meaning of all these "minor" Greek
deities is considered, and further, if it is considered in connection with
the definition of Karma, it will be seen that all are so many personifications
of the main divisions of the law of ancient Nemesis or Karma. But the one
word cannot, in popular estimation, replace the other; for, as said above,
Nemesis has lost its original meaning, and is almost invariably associated
with the idea of vengeance. Karma, however, has never lost its essential
connection with the law of Harmony, though even in this case there is some
tendency to confine it to the law of cause and effects, and to consider what
is called evil Karma solely in relation to human life. This is almost inevitable,
while the human personality takes the foremost place in the consideration
of each man, and his own welfare, in time and eternity, is the goal of his [Page
42] endeavours. As said above, while
this is the case man cannot regard the great laws of the Universe, nor recognise
himself as part of it, and thus his life is confined to the world of effects,
and can never enter that of causes. Thus it is ignorance of the law of Harmony
that leads him to struggle in vain, in this world, for the apparent advantage
of surpassing his neighbour, and — worse — to instinctively carry
the struggle beyond death, and attempt to advance in favour in the so-called
This is the result of the pernicious doctrine of reward and punishment after death, in heaven or in hell. Nothing could have been found more calculated to circumscribe the view of life as a whole, and concentrate man's attention on temporary matters. It is inevitable that man should regard his soul as something fashioned after his struggling personality, and very similar to it; and this view of his personality was not calculated to agree with the loftiness of the ideas about the soul. From this point of view he either rejected the idea of soul as altogether worthless, or else he transferred his interest to the soul's welfare in Heaven — in either case concentrating his attention on what is inevitably transient. It is as though a man lost sight of the fact of respiration in its component parts of inspiration and expiration; that is to say, that one respiration is taken as the whole, and the millions of other respirations in the course of a human life are lost sight of and forgotten. Thus the man who adapts his life to the ordinary views, with regard to life on earth and life in Heaven, fixes his thoughts and aspirations on what is transient, and desires to intensify that. No truer words were ever spoken than by Christ when he said: — "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul". It is a loss which man will inevitably experience if he pursues this purblind course of endeavour, for he will lose sight of his real soul altogether, and he — as he, that is — will never regain it. He follows a nickering Will-o'-the-Wisp, and finds his way only into a treacherous marsh; the result being that the whole of that incarnation is wasted, and a stumbling block, perhaps, placed in the way of the next. This danger is, as said, due to neglect or ignorance of the idea of Karma, and to the purblind view consequently taken of the great scope of human life.
In the Theosophist, of July, 1887, Mr. Subba Row deals with the doctrine
of Karma as contained in the Bhagavadgita. His lecture contains one of the
clearest elucidations of the metaphysical side of the question which it is
possible to put in language, so far as the Kosmic aspect of Karma is concerned.
In it, and the previous lectures, Mr. Subba Row dealt with three main bases
[Sanskrit Upadhi] (states of matter) through which the light of the
spirit is reflected into the phenomenal world. These vehicles, when traced
to their origin, lead to prakriti, or matter; as opposed to purusha,
or spirit. [Page 43]
"So Krishna says that all Karma is traceable to Upadhi, and hence to Prakriti. Karma itself depends upon conscious existence. Conscious existence entirely depends upon the constitution of man's mind. . . . Upadhi is the cause of individual existence. Existence itself, I mean living existence, is, however, traceable to this light (of the Logos). All conscious existence is traceable to it, and, furthermore, when spiritual intelligence is developed, it directly springs from it. . . Now it is through the action of this Karma that individual existence makes its appearance. On account of this Karma individual existence is maintained, and it is on account of Karma that man suffers all the pains and sorrows of earthly existence. Birth, life, and death, and all the innumerable ills to which human nature is subject, are endured by mankind owing to this Karma. . . . Thus Karma, being the inevitable result of Prakriti, and Prakriti continuing to exist as long as you are a human being, it is useless to try to get rid of Karma. . . . When you renounce this desire (desire to do Karma other than from a sense of duty), Karma will become weaker and weaker In its ability to affect you, till at last you arrive at a condition in which you are not affected by Karma at all, and that condition is the condition of Mukti". [ Liberation or Nirvana]In the above quoted lecture Karma was considered in its Kosmic and universal aspect, but no attempt was made to consider it in its individual aspect as applied to the various great sections of Being on this planet. The first approach to this is seen in the animal kingdom. Doubtless, the mineral and vegetable kingdoms are under the law of Harmony with Nature; it could not possibly be otherwise for they are closer to what is known as nature and much less individualised. But there is so little individualisation in these kingdoms that it is hardly possible to consider them in relation to the law of harmony, or to that of Cause and Effect on the plane of objectivity. But to anyone who has thought about the question it is plain that the animal kingdom, in its individuals, does come at least under the law of cause and effect. This may practically be called the working of Karma on the physical plane and by some has been called the law of Compensation, this being a term expressive of mechanical and physical energy. The word Karma had better be retained to express the working of the law of harmony on that plane where moral responsibility begins, and where "the law of compensation can be modified by will and reason", and where therefore personal merit and demerit exists. To quote from an article in the Theosophist on the Karma of animals:—
"Those philosophers who want to reject all Karma pretend to renounce it altogether. But that is an impossible task. No man, so long as he is a human being, can ever give up Karma altogether. He is at least bound to do that which the bare existence of his physical body requires, unless, indeed, he means to die of starvation, or otherwise put an untimely end to his life."
"Supposing you do give up Karma that is abstain from it in action, how can you keep control over your own minds? It is useless to abstain from an act, and yet be constantly thinking of it. If you come to the resolution that you ought to give up Karma, you must necessarily conclude that you ought not even to think about these things. That being so, let us see in what a condition you will then place yourselves. As almost all our mental states have some connection with the phenomenal world, and are somehow or other connected with Karma in its various phases, it is difficult to understand how it is possible for a man to give up all Karma, unless he can annihilate his mind, or get into an eternal state of Sushupti (dreamless slumber). Moreover, if you have to give up all Karma, you have to give up good Karma as well as bad, for Karma, in its widest sense, is not confined to bad actions. If all the people in the world give up Karma, how is the world to exist ? Is it riot likely that an end will then be put to all good impulses, to all patriotic and philanthropic deeds, that all the good people, who have been and are exerting themselves in doing unselfish deeds for the good of their fellow men, will be prevented from working ? If you call upon everybody to give up Karma, you will simply create a number of lazy drones, and prevent good people from benefiting their fellow beings."
"And furthermore, it may be argued that this is not a rule of universal applicability. How few are there in the world who can give up their whole Karma, and reduce themselves to a condition of eternal inactivity. And if you ask these people to follow this course, they may, instead of giving up Karma, simply become lazy, idle persons, who have not really given up anything. What is the meaning of the expression, ' to give up Karma ?' Krishna says that in abstaining from doing a thing there may be the effects of active Karma, and in active Karma there may be no real Karmic results. If you kill a man, it is murder, and you are held responsible for it; but suppose you refuse to feed your old parents and they die in consequence of your neglect, do you mean to say that you are not responsible for that Karma ? You may talk in the most metaphysical manner you please, you cannot get rid of Karma altogether".
"Taking all these circumstances into consideration, and admitting the many mischievous consequences that will follow as the result of recommending every [Page 44] human being to give up Karma, Krishna adds all that is to be found in the teaching that makes the Logos the means of salvation, and recommends man — if he would seek to obtain immortality — a method by following which he is sure to reach it, and not one that may end in his having to go through another incarnation, or being absorbed into another spiritual being whose existence is not immortal."
" The recommendation to practice and obtain self-mastery; Krishna accepts. But he would add to it more effectual means of obtaining the desired end — means sufficient in themselves to enable you to reach that end. He points out that this practise of self-mastery is not only useful for training in one birth, but is likely to leave permanent impulses on a man's soul which come to his rescue in future incarnations." . . .
"Krishna, in recommending his own method, combines all that is good in the five systems, and adds thereto all those necessary means of obtaining salvation that follow as inferences from the existence of the Logos, and its real relationship to man and to all the principles that operate in the cosmos. His is certainly more comprehensive than any of the theories from which these various schools of philosophy have started, and it is this theory that he is trying, in the second six chapters of the Bhavadgita, to inculcate."
"A piece of iron is attracted to a magnet without having any desire in the matter. If it is exposed to air and water, it may become rusty and cannot prevent it. A plant or a tree may be straight or crooked on account of circumstances over which it has no control. An animal usually follows the instincts of its nature without any merit or demerit for so doing, a child or an idiot may smilingly kick over a lamp which may set a whole city on fire; the cause will have its effect, but the child or the idiot cannot be held responsible for it, because they have not sufficient intelligence to fully control their actions or to judge about the consequences. A person can only be held responsible according to his ability to perceive justice and to distinguish between good and evil. The power to discriminate properly is an attribute of the human mind, and the higher that mind is developed the more it becomes responsible for the effects it [Page 45] produces. A cat may kill a mouse or an ox gore a man; and to hold them morally responsible for it would be an act of injustice, cruelty and stupidity. Whether or not a dog may have sufficient reason to incur any moral responsibility is a matter of opinion, and no emphatic affirmation or denial will decide the case: but it is reasonable to suppose that a dog, though he may have sufficient reason to know what is good or bad for himself or for those to whom he is attached, has no moral responsibility."
Thus, though animals may be under the law of compensation, and under the law of harmony or Karma, they are not under the law of compensation, or the law of harmony or Karma in the same way as it applies to human beings. With humanity, a fresh element has been introduced — the intellectual, reasoning, and discriminating power. Consequently, while the universal law of harmony or Karma governs the whole Universe, the law of Harmony should be applied to the Universe as a whole, and its manifestations, the laws of Karma and Compensation, should be applied to man and animal respectively.
It is more possible, perhaps, to consider the question in relation to the various grades of humanity so far as we can conceive of it and them. It would be better to commence with the highest and proceed downwards.
All Theosophists, and many who are not, have heard of Mahatmas, and many have speculated very wrongly about them. In this magazine, and in this article, it may be possible to write about them without disrespect, because only through these speculations is it possible to understand the law of harmony and its relation to man as Karma, and to divinity as harmony. The word Karma as limited above does not apply to the Mahatma.
"Gazing only upon the eternal the Mahatma feels neither good nor ill, nor does either good or ill come to him. Personally, he cannot either suffer or rejoice, and is incapable of emotion, because he is indifferent to circumstances. But as he developes, his sympathies increase, until at last his sympathies enter into all beings, and with them he rejoices and suffers until they also pass beyond the sense of joy or pain."
" They do not have good or evil Karma. The glory and good fortune and happiness, these go to the good men who look for temporary joys. Karma produces pleasure or pain by the ordering of circumstances. The Mahatma does not feel pleasure and pain, and is not affected by circumstances, therefore he is Karmaless. The law of cause and effect is only called Karma when it concerns temporary and changing circumstances. The acts of the Mahatma generate spiritual energy which goes to create the power that shall be his when he is no longer man, and consequently form an eternal factor in his future; thus, the Mahatma, being without personal desire, is outside the operation of the law of Karma."
In his real condition he is in harmony with Nature, and its agent, and hence
outside Karma. His physical body is however still within its limits of action.
But to him this is a very small matter.
( To be continued.) [Page 46]
THE MYSTERY OF ALL TIME
THE inner light which guides men to greatness, and makes them noble, is a mystery through all time and must remain so while Time lasts for us; but there come moments, even in the midst of ordinary life, when Time has no hold upon us, and then all the circumstance of outward existence falls away, and we find ourselves face to face with the mystery beyond. In great trouble, in great joy, in keen excitement, in serious illness, these moments come. Afterwards they seem very wonderful, looking back upon them.
What is this mystery, and why is
it so veiled, are the burning questions for anyone who has begun to realise
its existence. Trouble most often rouses men to the consciousness of it,
and forces them to ask these questions when those, whom one has loved better
than oneself, are taken away into the formless abyss of the unknown by death,
or are changed, by the experiences of life, till they are no longer recognisable
as the same; then comes the wild hunger for knowledge. Why is it so ? What
is it, that surrounds us with a great dim cloud into which all loved things
plunge in time and are lost to us, obliterated, utterly taken from us ? It
is this which makes life so unbearable to the emotional natures, and which
developes selfishness in narrow hearts. If there is no certainty and no permanence
in life, then it seems to the Egotist, that there is no reasonable course
but to attend to one's own affairs, and be content with the happiness of
the first person singular. There are many persons sufficiently generous in
temperament to wish others were happy also, and who, if they saw any way
to do it, would gladly redress some of the existing ills — the misery
of the poor, the social evil, the sufferings of the diseased, the sorrow
of those made desolate by death — these things the sentimental philanthropist
shudders to think of. He does not act because he can do so little. Shall
he take one miserable child and give it comfort when millions will be enduring
the same fate when that one is dead ? The inexorable cruelty of life continues
on its giant course, and those who are born rich and healthy live in pleasant
places, afraid to think of the horrors life holds within it. Loss, despair,
unutterable pain, comes at last, and the one who has hitherto been fortunate
is on a level with those to whom misery has been familiarised by a lifetime
of experience. For trouble bites hardest when it springs on a new victim.
Of course, there are profoundly selfish natures which do not suffer in this
sense, which look only for personal comfort and are content with the small
horizon visible to one person’s sight; for these, there is but little
trouble in the world, there [Page 47] is
none of the passionate pain which exists in sensitive and poetic natures. The
born artist is aware of pain as soon as he is aware of pleasure; he recognises
sadness as a part of human life before it has touched on his own. He has an
innate consciousness of the mystery of the ages, that thing stirring within
man's soul and which enables him to outlive pain and become great, which leads
him on the road to the divine life. This gives him enthusiasm, a superb heroism
indifferent to calamity; if he is a poet he will write his heart out, even
for a generation that has no eyes or ears for him; if he desires to help others
personally, he is capable of giving his very life to save one wretched child
from out a million of miserable ones. For it is not his puny personal effort
in the world that he considers — not his
little show of labour done; what he is conscious of is the over-mastering
desire to work with the beneficent forces of super-nature, to become one with
the divine mystery, and when he can forget time and circumstances, he is face
to face with that mystery. Many have fancied they must reach it by death; but
none have come back to tell us that this is so. We have no proof that man is
not as blind beyond the grave as he is on this side of it. Has he entered the
eternal thought? If not, the mystery is a mystery still.
To one who is entering occultism in earnest, all the trouble of the world seems suddenly apparent. There is a point of experience when father and mother, wife and child, become indistinguishable, and when they seem no more familiar or friendly than a company of strangers. The one dearest of all may be close at hand and unchanged, and yet is as far as if death had come between. Then all distinction between pleasure and pain, love and hate, have vanished. A melancholy, keener than that felt by a man in his first fierce experience of grief, overshadows the soul. It is the pain of the struggle to break the shell in which man has prisoned himself. Once broken then there is no more pain; all ties are severed, all personal demands are silenced for ever. The man has forced himself to face the great mystery, which is now a mystery no longer, for he has become part of it. It is essentially the mystery of the ages, and these have no longer any meaning for him to whom time and space and all other limitations are but passing experiences. It has become to him a reality, profound, indeed, because it is bottomless, wide, indeed, because it is limitless. He has touched on the greatness of life, which is sublime in its impartiality and effortless generosity. He is friend and lover to all those living beings that come within his consciousness, not to the one or two chosen ones only — which is indeed only an enlarged selfishness. While a man retains his humanity, it is certain that one or two chosen ones will give him more pleasure by contact, than all the rest of the beings in the Universe and all the heavenly host; but he has to remember and recognise what this preference is. It is not a selfish thing which has to be crushed out, if the love is the love that gives; freedom from attachments is not a meritorious condition [Page 48] in itself. The freedom needed is not from those who cling to you, but from those to whom you cling. The familiar phrase of the lover " I cannot live without you " must be words which cannot be uttered, to the occultist. If he has but one anchor, the great tides will sweep him away into nothingness. But the natural preference which must exist in every man for a few persons is one form of the lessons of Life. By contact with these other souls he has other channels by which to penetrate to the great mystery. For every soul touches it, even the darkest. Solitude is a great teacher, but society is even greater. It is so hard to find and take the highest part of those we love, that in the very difficulty of the search there is a serious education. We realise when making that effort, far more clearly what it is that creates the mystery in which we live, and makes us so ignorant. It is the swaying, vibrating, never-resting desires of the animal soul in man. The life of this part of man's nature is so vigorous and strongly developed from the ages during which he has dwelt in it, that it is almost impossible to still it so as to obtain contact with the noble spirit. This constant and confusing life, this ceaseless occupation with the trifles of the hour, this readiness in surface emotion, this quickness to be pleased, amused or distressed, is what baffles our sight and dulls our inner senses. Till we can use these the mystery remains in its Sphinx-like silence.
When the unit thinks only of itself, the whole, which is built of units perishes, and the unit itself is destroyed.
So it is throughout nature on every plane of life. This, therefore, is the
first lesson to be learnt.
What the true occultist seeks, is not knowledge, or growth, or happiness, or power, for himself; but having become conscious that the harmony of which he forms part is broken on the outer plane, he seeks the means to resolve that discord into a higher harmony.
This harmony is Theosophy — Divine or Universal Wisdom — the root whence have sprung all "religions” that is all; "bonds which unite men together", which is the true meaning of the word religion.
Therefore, Theosophy is not a "religion", but religion itself,
the very "binding of men together" in one Universal Brotherhood. [Page
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS OF BUDDHISM
St. George Lane-Fox (1816-1896)
WHEN a man immersed in the darkness of modern civilization awakens, however slightly, to the hollowness of his every-day life, he becomes sensible of a feeling of despair, for he is mentally brought face to face with what appears to him to be a meaningless yet cruel destiny. Now to any one so circumstanced, no truer source of consolation and encouragement can be offered than that which is to be found in a proper consideration of "the " Four Noble Truths " of Buddhism. But to give this proper consideration to the Truths, or indeed to promote even a preliminary enquiry into their nature is by no means an easy task, because the fundamental ideas which they embody have scarcely any vitality in the present generation; nay more, they involve for the most part a complete inversion of maxims commonly accepted as axiomatic in current thought.
It is, however, in the hopes of doing something towards the elucidation of the matter, that the present exposition is attempted.
The first Noble Truth relates to human suffering. It proclaims that the conscious, separated, life of individual existence necessarily implies pain, sorrow and misery; that so long as a man feels that he is possessed of an isolated self or so long as he regards himself and his fellow men as detached personalities, having antagonistic or even independent interests, so long must he suffer and be subject to trouble, grief and disappointment.
This first Noble Truth gives utterance to one aspect of an inexorable law of universal application, a law from whose operations no man can, or has, or ever will escape, until he has learnt and in the fullest sense realized the four Noble Truths.
The first Truth may also be thus expressed: individual existence necessitates and involves change of state, whether manifested as birth growth, decay or death, and all changes of state are accompanied by pain in one form or another on some plane of being; while those who seem in their own eyes to have escaped from pain, or those who imagine that others escape from it, are alike deluded, for all men are overtaken by it soon or late.
The second Noble Truth deals with the cause of pain, and partially explains its meaning. According to this Truth, it is the desire or thirst for the continuance of individual life, with its various sensations and experiences, that constitutes the true basis of all suffering, whatever the outward form it may assume, and to whatever plane of consciousness it may belong. This thirst for life, called in the Sanscrit language [Page 50] Tanha, gives rise in the mind of man to a delusive belief in the permanence and reality of that separate personality, which, according to Buddhism, is no more than an ephemeral mode of individual existence; it further leads him to suppose that the numerous mental states which in their aggregate make up the personality, are, in themselves real; and hence grows that rooted belief in the absolute reality of the manifold objects of sense, and that longing for their possession, that insatiable longing for the enhancement and for the multiplication of the experiences associated with these objects.
The second Truth, like the first, presents an aspect of the universal law already referred to.
This law, the Sanscrit name for which is Karma, is the governing and controlling power, ordering all individual existence, and by virtue of which Tanha operates.
The third Noble Truth announces the fact that, as the individual man grows strong in spiritual knowledge and charity, so Tanha is gradually dissolved, and there is for him a consequent cessation of sorrow and of pain. The individuality becoming proportionately freed from the bondage of Karma, Tanha is indeed a quite necessary adjunct of man's incipient growth, for it represents the creative power which forces the individuality through the earlier stages of its development, yet, while performing this most useful function, being in fact indispensable to the lower nature of man, Tanha, at the same time, forges those Karmic fetters from which the spiritual self struggles desperately to get free.
As the man's spiritual nature is evolved, the unconscious creative energy, in form of Tanha, is gradually replaced by the newly developed powers of the higher self, the will becomes more and more completely associated with the spirit, while the man himself, endowed with true Faith, true Hope, and true Love, becomes a conscious co-worker with the Universal or Macrocosmic Will, the "Great Builder".
The fourth Noble Truth assures us that there is a way by which all men may, if they only choose, rapidly accomplish this displacement of Tanha by true Love; this way is called the Noble Eight-fold Path leading to enlightenment.
Thus: — 1). Right fundamental
Belief, i.e., the right basis mentally
and spiritually upon which to establish true knowledge. 2). Right Intention,
i.e. goodwill towards all that lives, singleness of purpose,
correctness and purity of motive. 3). Right Speech, i.e., the
use of becoming language, kindly temperate, fair and profitable; patient
yet vigorous; thoughtful, courageous, honest and discriminating. 4). Right
Behaviour i.e., active philanthropy.
5). Right means of Livelihood, i.e., honest and useful employment
of one's time, paying adequate attention to one's own material needs and helping
others to do the same, yet without care or the morrow. 6). Right Endeavour, i.e.
heart in one’s [Page
51] work. 7). Right Loneliness, i.e., self-contained
and harmonious within. 8). Right Meditation. This is the Sanskrit Yoga and
signifies union with the divine by practising the contemplation of the reality
of being. It is the result of a sustained effort to concentrate the mind upon
the universal, eternal and immutable law of life; the first stage of such
concentration takes the form of an impartial review or survey of all one's
thoughts, actions, desires, sensations and experiences from a thoroughly impersonal
standpoint. This Eightfold Path has four stages representing different degrees
of advancement towards Buddhahood or the state of perfect enlightenment. The
true Buddha or Tathâgata is one who has attained final emancipation from individual
existence, whose purified spirit is freed from the last vestige of Tanha, one
upon whom Karma has no more hold, for he has reached Para Nirvana, the Eternal,
the Absolute Being.
THE LAST OF A GOOD LAMA. — Whatever may be said against godless Buddhism, its influence, wherever it penetrates, is most beneficent. One finds the Spirit of " Lord Buddha . . . most pitiful, the Teacher of Nirvana and the Law", ennobling even the least philosophical of the dissenting sects of his religion — the Lamaism of the nomadic Kalmucks. The Caspian Steppes witnessed, only a few months ago, the solemn cremation and burial of a Mongolian saint, whose ashes were watered by as many Christian as Lamaic tears. The high priest to the Russian Calmucks of the Volga died December 26th, 1886, near Vetlyanka, once the seat of the most terrible epidemics. The Ghelungs had chosen the day of ceremony in accordance with their sacred books; the hour was fixed astrologically, and at noon on January 4th, 1887, the imposing ceremony took place. More than 80,000 people assembling from all the neighbouring Cossack stanitzas and Calmuck ooloosses, formed a procession surrounding the pillar of cremation. The corpse having been fixed in an iron arm-chair, used on such ceremonies, was introduced into the hollow pillar, the flames being fed with supplies of fresh butter. During the whole burning, the crowd never ceased weeping and lamenting, the Russians being most violent in their expressions of sorrow, and with reason. For long years the defunct Lama had been a kind father to all the poor in the country, whether Christian or Lamaist. Whole villages of proletarians had been fed, clothed, and their poll-taxes paid out of his own private income. His property in pasture lands, cattle, and tithes was very large, yet the Lama was ever in want of money. With his death, the poor wretches, who could hardly keep soul in their bodies, have no prospect but starvation. Thus the tears of the Christians were as abundant, if not quite as unselfish, as those of the poor Pagans. Only the year before, the good Lama received 4,000 roubles from a Calmuck oolooss (camp) and gave the whole to rebuild a burned down Russian village, and thus saved hundreds from death by hunger. He was never known during his long life to refuse any man, woman, or child, in need, whether Pagan or Christian, depriving himself of every comfort to help his poorer fellow-creatures. Thus died the last of the Lamas of the priestly hierarchy sent to the Astrakhan Calmucks from beyond the " Snowy Range" some sixty years ago. A shameful story is told of how a travelling Christian pilgrim imposed on the good Lama. The Lama had entrusted him with 30,000 roubles to be placed in the neighbouring town; but the Christian pilgrim disappeared, and the money with him. [Page 52]
THE BIRTH OF LIGHT
Translated from Eliphas Levi (1810-1875)
(from Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie by Alphonse Louis Constant, 1856, Paris, 2 vols)
THE "Lucifer" of the Kabalists
is not a proscribed and fallen angel, but the spirit which illuminates and
regenerates by fire; he is to the angels of peace what the comet is to the
peaceful constellations of spring-time.
The fixed star is beautiful, radiant and calm; she drinks in the aromas of Heaven, and looks lovingly on her sisters; clad in her dazzling garments, and her brow adorned with diamonds, she smiles as she sings her morning and her evening hymn; she enjoys an eternal repose which nothing can disturb, and solemnly she treads the path assigned to her among the sentinels of light.
But the wandering comet, all bloodstained, and her tresses unloosed, rushes on from the depths of the sky; she dashes across the track of the peaceful spheres like a chariot of war breaking the ranks of a procession of vestals; she dares to breast the burning sword of the guardians of the sun, and, like a lost spouse who seeks the partner visioned in her lonely night watches, she forces her way even into the tabernacle of the King of Day.
Then she rushes out, breathing forth the fires which consume herself and leaving in her train one long conflagration; the stars pale before her approach, the herded constellations, which browse upon the starry flowers in the vast meadows of the sky, seem to flee from her terrible breath. The grand council of the stars is called, and universal consternation reigns. At last the fairest of the fixed stars is charged to speak in the name of the heavenly concourse, and to propose a truce with the errant messenger.
" My sister", she says, "why troublest thou the harmony of these spheres ? What harm have we done thee, and why, instead of wandering at hazard, dost thou not, like us, take up thy settled rank in the Court of the Sun ? Why dost thou not join with us in chanting the evening hymn, attired, like us, in a robe of white clasped above the breast by one pure diamond ? Why dost thou allow thy tresses, dripping with the sweat of fire, to float across the vapours of the night ? If thou wouldst but take thy due place among the daughters of Heaven, how far more lovely thy mien ! Thy face no more would be burnt up by the fatigue of thy unheard-of journeys; thy eyes would shine forth clear, and thy features smile with the tints of lily and of rose, like those of thy happy sisters; all the stars would recognise in thee a friend, and far [Page 53] from fearing thy transit, they would rejoice at thy approach. For thou wouldst be united to us by the indissoluble ties of universal harmony, and thy peaceable existence would be but one voice the more in the anthem of Infinite Love."
But the comet replies:
"Deem not, my sister, that I could stray at chance and disturb the harmony of the spheres. God has traced for me my path, as thine for thee, and if my course appears to thee uncertain and erratic, it is because thy rays cannot reach so far as to embrace the outlines of the great ellipse which has been given me for my career. My burning tresses are the banner of God; I am the messenger of the Suns, and I bathe me in their fires that I may distribute them on my path to those young worlds which have not yet sufficient heat, and to the declining stars that shiver in their solitude. If I court fatigue in my long journeyings, if my beauty is less mild than thine, if my attire less virginal, I am no less than thee a worthy daughter of the sky. Leave in my hands the awful secret of my destiny, leave to me the horror which encompasses me, and slander me not if thou canst not understand me. None the less, shall I fulfil my appointed task. Happy the stars that take their rest and shine like young queens in the stately concourse of the Universe; for me, I am cast out, a wanderer, and claim the Infinite as my only fatherland. They accuse me of setting on fire the planets which I warm, and of terrifying the stars which I illume. I am reproached with disturbing the harmony of the worlds, because I do not revolve round their own fixed points, and because I bind them one to the other, setting my face alone toward the only centre of all the Suns. So rest assured, thou fairest star, I will not deprive thee of one ray of thy so peaceful light; the rather, I will squander on thee my warmth and my own life. Who knows, but I may vanish from the sky when I have consumed myself? My lot will still have been a noble one ! For know that in the Temple of God the fires that burn are not all one. Ye are the light of the golden torches, but I, the flame of sacrifice. Let each accomplish her own destiny !"
Her words scarce uttered, the comet shakes her tresses loose, covers herself with her burning shield, and plunges once more into infinite space, where she appears to vanish for evermore.
It is thus that Lucifer appears and disappears in the allegories of the Bible.
One day, so says the book of Job, the sons of God had assembled in the presence of their Lord, and among them came Lucifer.
To him the Lord said: "Whence comest thou ? "
And he replied:
" I have journeyed round the world and travelled throughout it."
This is how a Gnostic gospel, re-discovered in the East by a learned traveller,
explains, in treating of the symbolical Lucifer, the genesis of Light. [Page
"Truth which is conscious of itself is living Thought. Truth is the Thought which is contained within itself; and formulated Thought is Speech. When the Eternal Thought sought for a form it said: 'Let there be Light'. Therefore this Thought that speaks is the Word, and this Word says: 'Let there be Light, because the word itself is the light of the spirit ”.
The uncreated light, which is the divine Word, sends forth its rays because it wishes to be manifest, and when it says, " Let there be light", it commands the eyes to open; it creates the Intelligences.
And, when God said: "Let there be light", Intelligence was made and light appeared.
Then, the Intelligence which God had breathed forth, like a planet detached from the Sun, took the form of a splendid Angel and the heavens saluted him with the name of Lucifer.
Intelligence awoke and it fathomed its own depths as it heard this apostrophe of the divine Word, "Let there be Light". It felt itself to be free, for God had commanded it so to be, and it answered, raising its head and spreading its wings, "I will not be Slavery".
" Wilt thou be then Sorrow ? " said the uncreated voice.
" I will be Liberty", answered the Light.
" Pride will seduce thee", replied the supreme voice, "and thou wilt give birth to Death".
" I must needs combat with Death to conquer Life", said once again the light created.
God then unloosed from his bosom the thread of splendour which held back the superb spirit, and as he watched him dive into the night, cutting in it a path of glory, he loved the child of his thought, and smiling with a smile ineffable, he murmured to himself: "How fair a thing was this Light!"
And Sorrow was the condition imposed upon the free being. If the chief of the angels had not dared confront the depths of night, the travail of God had not been complete, and the created light could not have separated itself from the light unrevealed.
Perhaps Lucifer, in plunging into the night, drew with him a shower of Stars and Suns by the attraction of his glory ? [Page 55]
A TRUE THEOSOPHIST
(Count Leo N Tolstoi 1828-1910)
A VERY large majority of people have no idea whatever about Theosophy, and regard Theosophists as more or less crazy members of a new sect. They naturally deny any superiority to one new sect among so many, and aver that, as a considerable number of sects have been "tried in the balances and found wanting", this one is no better than its predecessors. Theosophists — the real ones — can only reply that they are unsectarian and superior to none. They believe that they have found a good road to the discovery of truth, and wish to share their discovery — if it can be so called — with others.
The very assumption of superiority would be a contradiction in terms to the name itself. But, while giving this emphatic denial with reference to the name "Theosophist", no attempt is made to assert, that all members of the Theosophical Society are also Theosophists. True indeed, that when they enter that society, they subscribe to rules and declare their objects to be such that, were they to carry them out thoroughly, no other name than Theosophists would be applicable. Nor does the name imply that, in the studies which Theosophists make their own, it is necessary that the sole and best place should be given to studies of Oriental philosophy. That again would be a contradiction, for it has most emphatically been stated that "there are those who are ignorant of the Eastern wisdom" who are nearer to divine wisdom, than some who have devoted their entire lives to Oriental studies. It is again the old story that, "the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life".
Still while holding to the assertion that the study of Oriental wisdom is only one road out of many, it is necessary to remember the analogy which philology may here present to " religion". Just as philology traces all languages to a common root — the Sanskrit or rather pre-Sanskrit — so the religions of the world can also be traced to a common root and birth place, identical with the cradle and birth place of the human race, which ethnology locates on the high plateaux of Central Asia. Therefore it is, that the study of Oriental philosophy has something to be urged in its especial favour, because that philosophy has its home nearer to the source of the wisdom religion than any other.
Still more must it be borne in mind, that members of the Theosophical Society are not necessarily Theosophists, for a very considerable number are attracted merely by the name and through curiosity. They either do not understand what they profess, of if they do, they do not practise it. But this is no attempt to run counter to the proverb, that the tree is known by its fruit, although there is some amount of injustice in it [Page 56] All that is asserted is that, if this argument is used against a Society with aims and aspirations such as the Theosophical Society has, it can be used with even more terrible effect against all religions whether Christian, Mohammedan, Buddhist, etc. The real reason why this has come to pass, lies in a few words — the cultivation of the individual; and, as a later result of this, in anthropomorphism. It is only those individuals who can "grasp their whole individuality firmly", and by the force of their "awakened spiritual will, reach out to the life beyond individuality" — it is only they, who can shake themselves loose from the curse which has gradually spread over the whole world. It is in consequence of this growth of individualism that the "blessings of civilization" have become the curse of mankind, and every religion; originally altruistic, has become inverted, and the reign of anti-Christ and hypocrisy has superseded that of Christ and truth. No sweeping accusation is made against the whole world in this statement. A dim and misty veil has been thrown over the face of Truth, and it is as though we saw everything outside the principal focus of a lens, and consequently, under full faith that we see the real image, perceive the inverted image. In the time of Elizabeth, for instance, men learnt to cultivate the individual within the circle of the race, and to attempt to unite in patriotism for the benefit of that race or empire. But it is a vain attempt, and the dissociating effects of this culture will soon be evident in the impossibility of the attempt. Originally the attempt was to cultivate the individual, but only with a view to the increase of that race and with that object as paramount. That is to say, that an English soldier would cultivate himself to the uttermost in order that the world should see what English soldiers were. But the time came when the egoistic element appeared in overwhelming force, and the cultivation was devoted to the sole aim of making this or that man stronger than any man of his own race, or any other.
And now another aim has been substituted for the paramount one of patriotism. Mammon has superseded the latter, and the strength of the individual is cultivated and devoted to withstanding the pressure of life and to getting a start in the great race to worship at the feet of the demon of cupidity. But again, while devoting their own lives and worse — the lives of their neighbours — to this worship, they yet professed to be Christians or members of other religions. They tried to worship two gods — Mammon on six days of the week and the other divinity on Sunday, or any day set apart for his service. But still, in most cases, it was not the divine instinct of search for the divine in their hearts, but a fear of wrath to come. It really was a pharisaical idea of "hedging", to use a term of racing slang, with reference to the race of life. The end of it was that Mammon received the real worship of their hearts, and the other god only lip-service. Thus in the end hypocrisy became almost as paramount as Mammon. Time still passed on, and man almost lost [Page 57] sight of any idea of an offended and avenging deity, and any germ of spirituality was very nearly dead from want of cultivation. The material needs held him in complete sway, and the spread of physical science helped him mightily. Losing sight of all the subtler side of nature, he immersed himself in gross matter, and utilitarianism was the watchword and rallying cry. In all this change the age of mechanical inventions took no small part. Man can hardly be blamed as an individual nor as a whole. It is part of the great law of evolution, and the working out of the law of the survival of the fittest.
It may be asked what this has to do with the subject of the article; but
in justification it is averred that a picture is most clearly seen by its contrast.
Perhaps the best definition of a Theosophist, is that given by the Alchemist, Thomas Vaughan:
" A Theosophist is one who gives you a theory of the works of God, which has not a revelation, but an inspiration of his own for basis."
"A man once abandoning the old pathway of routine and entering on the solitary pathway of independent thought — Godward — he is a Theosophist, an original thinker, a seeker after the Eternal Truth, with an inspiration of his own to solve the Eternal problems".
Such a one as this is the subject of the article. Count Tolstoi, the Russian novelist, is a true Theosophist, and his words and actions in contradiction and illustration of the foregoing, are taken from an interview with him by Mr. George Kennan (Century, June 1887). The interview first describes the surroundings amidst which Count Tolstoi lives, and gives also a description of the Count's appearance.
Apparently the first thing which impressed Mr. Kennan was the sight of "a wealthy Russian noble, and the greatest of living novelists, shaking hands upon terms of perfect equality with a poor, ragged, and not over clean droshky driver", who had been engaged in the streets.
Then follows a description of the rooms, the furniture etc., which was observed during the time that Mr. Kennan's host had retired — not, indeed, to change his coat, but to put one on after a morning's labour in the fields. Mr. Kennan, it seems, had journeyed through Siberia, and had there promised several of the exiles to visit Count Tolstoi on his return, and to tell him of their condition. In the course of conversation on these matters, Mr. Kennan asked Count Tolstoi whether he did not think that resistance to such oppression as the exiles had experienced was justifiable?
"That depends", he replied, "upon what you mean by resistance; if you mean persuasion, argument, protest, I answer yes; if you mean violence — no. I do not believe that violent resistance to evil is ever justifiable under any circumstances".
He then set forth clearly, eloquently, and with more feeling than he had yet shown, the views with regard to man's duty as a member of society which are contained in his [Page 58] book entitled "My Religion", and which are further explained and illustrated in a number of his recently published tracts for the people. He laid particular stress upon the doctrine of non-resistance to evil, which, he said, is in accordance with both the teachings of Christ and the results of human experience. He declared that violence, as a means of redressing wrongs, is not only futile, but an aggravation of the original evil, since it is the nature of violence to multiply and reproduce itself in all directions. "The Revolutionists", he said, "whom you have seen in Siberia, undertook to resist evil by violence, and what has been the result ? Bitterness, and misery, and hatred, and bloodshed ! The evils against which they took up arms still exist, and to them has been added a mass of previously non-existent human suffering. It is not in that way that the kingdom of God is to be realised on earth".
For a long time I did not suggest any difficulties or raise any objections. ... It is one thing to ask a man in a general way whether he would use violence to resist evil, and quite another thing to ask him specifically whether he would knock down a burglar who was about to cut the throat of his mother. Many men would say yes to the first question who would hesitate at the second. Count Tolstoi, however, was consistent. I related to him many cases of cruelty, brutality, and oppression which had come to my knowledge in Siberia, and at the end of every recital I said to him, "Count Tolstoi, if you had been there and had witnessed that transaction, would you not have interfered with violence? " He invariably answered "No". I asked him the direct question whether he would kill a highwayman who was about to murder an innocent traveller, provided there were no other way to save the traveller's life. He replied, " If I should see a bear about to kill a peasant in the forest, I would sink an axe in the bear's head; but I would not kill a man who was about to do the same thing". There finally came into my mind a case which, although really not worse than many that I had already presented to him, would, I thought, appeal with peculiar force to a brave, sensitive, chivalrous man.
This was a case of most brutal treatment of a young girl who was exiled to Siberia. At a certain town on her journey the governor ordered that she was to put on the clothing of an ordinary convict. This she declined to do on the ground that administrative exiles had the right to wear their own clothing. Furthermore the clothing supplied to convicts is not always new, and it is quite possible that it is of the filthiest description and full of vermin. She argued that she would have been compelled to change at Moscow had it been necessary, and again declined. The local governor persisted and ordered that force should be used to effect the change. Accordingly, in the presence of nine or ten men, the change of clothing was effected — she was stripped naked, forcibly reclothed, and left bleeding and exhausted after ineffectual resistance.
"Now", I said, "suppose all this had occurred in your presence; suppose that this bleeding, defenceless, half-naked girl had appealed to you for protection, and had thrown herself into your arms; suppose that it had been your daughter, would you still have refused to interfere by an act of violence ?"
He was silent. Finally, ignoring my direct question as to what he personally would have done in such a case, Count Tolstoi said, "Even under such circumstances violence would not be justifiable. Let us analyse that situation carefully. I will grant, for the sake of argument, that the local governor who ordered the act of violence was an ignorant man, a cruel man, a brutal man — what you will; but he probably had an idea [Page 59] that he was doing his duty; he probably believed that he was enforcing a law of the Government to which he owed obedience and service. You suddenly appear and set yourself up as a judge in the case; you assume that he is not doing his duty — that he is committing an act of unjustifiable violence — and then, with strange inconsistency, you proceed to aggravate and complicate the evil by yourself committing another act of unjustifiable violence. One wrong added to another wrong does not make a right; it merely extends the area of wrong. Furthermore, your resistance, in order to be effective — in order to accomplish anything — must be directed against the soldiers who are committing the assault. But those soldiers are not free agents; they are subject to military discipline and are acting under orders which they dare not disobey. To prevent the execution of the orders you must kill or maim two or three of the soldiers — that is, kill or wound the only parties to the transaction who are certainly innocent, who are manifestly acting without malice and without evil intention. Is that just ? Is it rational ? But go a step further: suppose that you do kill or wound two or three of the soldiers; you may or may not thus succeed in preventing the completion of the act against which your violence is a protest; but one thing you certainly will do, and that is, extend the area of enmity, injustice, and misery. Every one of the soldiers whom you kill or maim has a family, and upon every such family you bring grief and suffering which would not have come to it but for your act. In the hearts of perhaps a score of people you rouse the anti-Christian and anti-social emotions of hatred and revenge, and thus sow broadcast the seeds of further violence and strife. At the time when you interposed there was only one centre of evil and suffering. By your violent interference you have created half-a-dozen such centres. It does not seem to me, Mr. Kennan, that that is the way to bring about the reign of peace and good-will on earth'. '
Mr. Kennan had a manuscript written by one of those prisoners who took part in the desperate "hunger-strike" of 1884, with which he had been entrusted to hand on to Count Tolstoi. He read two or three pages of it, and then, alluding to the Nihilists, condemned their methods most heartily. Mr. Kennan appeared rather to sympathise with their motives. Count Tolstoi appears only to do so partially, and, while he earnestly desires a revolution, declines to have anything to do with one brought about by violence. Mr. Kennan objected that violence might close the mouth of the peaceable revolutionist and prevent his teaching and thoughts from ever becoming public.
"But do you not see", replied the Count, "that if you claim and exercise the right to resist by an act of violence what you regard as evil, every other man will insist upon his right to resist in the same way what he regards as evil, and the world will continue to be filled with violence ? It is your duty to show that there is a better way".
" But", I objected, " you cannot show anything if somebody smites you on the mouth every time you open it to speak the truth".
"You can at least refrain from striking back", replied the Count; "you can show by your peaceable behaviour that you are not governed by the barbarous law of retaliation, and your adversary will not continue to strike a man who neither resists nor tries to defend himself. It is by those who have suffered, not by those who have inflicted suffering, that the world has been advanced".
I said it seemed to me that the advancement of the world had been promoted not a little by the protests — and often the violent and bloody protests — of its inhabitants against wrong and outrage, and that all history goes to show that a people which tamely submits to oppression never acquires either liberty or happiness.
"The whole history of the world", replied the Count, “is a history of violence, and [Page 60] you can of course cite violence in support of violence; but do you not see that there is in human society an endless variety of opinions as to what constitutes wrong and oppression, and that if you once concede the right of any man to resort to violence to resist what he regards as wrong, he being the judge, you authorise every other man to enforce his opinions in the same way, and you have a universal reign of violence ?"
Count Tolstoi considers it necessary to labour for and help the poor by whom he is surrounded; but he is keenly alive to the danger of pauperising them. In doing this he runs counter to the ideas of organised society and the existing traits of human character. He declines to regard these as sacred and immutable, and is doing what he can to change them.
"Count Tolstoi then related with great fulness of detail the history of his change of attitude toward the teaching of Christ, and the steps by which he was brought to see that that teaching, rightly understood, furnishes a reasonable solution of some of the darkest problems of human life. He based upon it not only his opposition to resistance as a means of overcoming evil, but his hostility to courts of justice, established churches, class distinctions, private property, and all civil and ecclesiastical organisation in existing forms. His frequent references to the New Testament, and his insistence on the precepts of Christ as furnishing the only rule for the right government of human conduct, might lead one to regard Count Tolstoi as a devout and orthodox Christian, but, judged by a doctrinal standard, he is very far from being so. He rejects the whole doctrinal framework of the Christian scheme of redemption, including original sin, atonement, the triune personality of God, and the divinity of Christ, and has very little faith in the immortality of the soul. His religion is a religion of this world, and it is based almost wholly upon terrestrial considerations. If he refers frequently to the teachings of Christ, and accepts Christ's precepts as the rules which should govern human conduct, it is not because he believes that Christ was God, but because he regards those precepts as a formal embodiment of the highest and noblest philosophy of life, and as a revelation, in a certain sense, of the Divine will and character. He insists, however, that Christ's precepts shall be understood — and that they were intended to be understood —literally and in their most obvious sense. He will not recognise nor tolerate any softening or modification of a hard commandment by subtle and plausible interpretation. If Christ said, 'Resist not evil,' he meant resist not evil. He did not mean resist not evil if you can help it, nor resist not evil unless it is unbearable; he meant resist not at all. How unflinchingly Count Tolstoi faces the logical results of his system of belief I have tried to show."
Count Tolstoi's views as to his own action and practice have been recently published in an authorised interview which appeared in a Russian journal. He said:
" People say to me, 'Well, Lef Nikolaivitch, as far as preaching goes, you preach; but how about your practice ?' The question is a perfectly natural one; it is always put to me, and it always shuts my mouth. 'You preach', it is said, 'but how do you live ?' I can only reply that I do not preach — passionately as I desire to do so. I might preach through my actions, but my actions are bad. That which I say is not preaching; it is only an attempt to find out the meaning and the significance of life. People often say to me, 'If you think that there is no reasonable life outside the teachings of Christ, and if you love a reasonable life, why do you not fulfill the Christian precepts ?' I am guilty and blameworthy and contemptible because I do not fulfill them; but at the same time I say — not in justification, but in explanation, of my inconsistency — Compare my previous life with the life I am now living, and you will see that I am trying to fulfill. I have not, it is true, fulfilled one eighty-thousandth [Page 61] part, and I am to blame for it; but it is not because I do not wish to fulfill all, but because I am unable. Teach me how to extricate myself from the meshes of temptation in which I am entangled — help me — and I will fulfill all. I wish and hope to do it even without help. Condemn me if you choose — I do that myself — but condemn me, and not the path which I am following, and which I point out to those who ask me where, in my opinion, the path is. If I know the road home, and if I go along it drunk, and staggering from side to side, does that prove that the road is not the right one ? If it is not the right one, show me another. If I stagger and wander, come to my help, and support and guide me in the right path. Do not yourselves confuse and mislead me, and then rejoice over it and cry, ' Look at him ! He says he is going home, and he is floundering into the swamp !' You are not evil spirits from the swamp; you are also human beings, and you also are going home. You know that I am alone — you know that I cannot wish or intend to go into the swamp — then help me ! My heart is breaking with despair because we have all lost the road; and while " I struggle with all my strength to find it and keep in it, you, instead of pitying me when I go astray, cry triumphantly, 'See ! He is in the swamp with us !' "
In this report of Count Tolstoi,
it is impossible not to recognise the generous, just, and sympathetic man — the
true Theosophist. He may be mistaken, but he is endeavouring to carry out
the precepts of Christ. Not indeed, doctrinal Christianity, but to put in
practice the actual precepts of the Master he follows. He does this as far
as he can; and even with this little (as he says) he is accused of quixotism,
and is obliged to stay his hand in order to keep up the example he affords.
Why is this. For fear of interested relatives and the lunatic asylum. Here
we have a man endeavouring to carry out "under an inspiration
of his own", the precepts laid down by the last of the world's great
teachers. What is the result of his endeavours ? That he is in danger of the
same fate that the author of " Modern Christianity a civilized Heathenism",
threatened Christ with, were he to return in the XlXth century — the
lunatic asylum. Nothing is so intolerable to modern minds as an example
of what they (unconsciously to themselves) recognise as that which they ought
to follow, but do not. Therefore it has to be put out of sight. Since madness
has been defined as a mental state which is in contradiction to the average
mental state, it is evident that all religious reformers ought to be put away
in a lunatic asylum.
It is quite possible to recognise what an extraordinary effect Count Tolstoi's principle of non-resistance to evil would have. Still it is a strictly Christian one. Christ went further, and ordained that the other cheek should be offered to the man who smites. It might be argued that this would result in a tacit acquiescence in evil. But if it be so, the whole of the Count's life is a contradiction to this, and a standing protest against the existence of those who create, or rather perpetuate, this evil. Every reform, this included, is a protest against doing at Rome what Romans do, or the laisser aller, which is the indolent curse of human progress. Count Tolstoi desires to see the reign of Christ on Earth, and in this accords well with the Theosophists who desire "Universal Brotherhood". But neither of these can be effected save by the cultivation of the inner [Page 62] and spiritual man, so that it shall shine through and form the guide to the outer and physical man. But unfortunately the welfare of the latter is taken as the standard at present and humanity, without the spiritual man as a guide, is left to flounder in the ditch into which it has fallen.
Those who desire to follow Count Tolstoi, or to become real working Theosophists, may find something to think about in comparing his words with his actions. He endeavours to "go about doing good", and to help his fellow men on the hard path of life. When it is followed it will be found that to run counter to the spirit of the age, and instead of the indolent laisser aller, to work not for self, but for humanity at large, is the hardest task ever set to men. Mankind as a rule "does not want an example or to be worked for both are rude awakenings from the lotus-eating state they desire to be left in . " Let us alone", is their cry, and they resist with violence any attempt to rouse them.
But those who desire a greater unity than that which any race or nation can afford — the unity of the human race — the Universal Brotherhood — cannot leave them alone. There is a power which impels Count Tolstoi to protest against the reign of violence, and he truly replies, that the readiest means of continuing this reign is to meet violence by violence. Therefore he, by his writings, and his words and life, endeavours to place before men the noblest philosophy of life that he recognises, in answer to the appeal which is silently uttered from the hearts of many men and women in the world.
It is a cry of despair at the ignorance which surrounds them and to which the Theosophical Society, according to its avowed aims, is an answer. It is best described in the words of Tennyson —
An infant crying in the night,
And with no language but a cry.
GHOST'S REVENGE (1)
EARLY in the year 187-, the singular and distressing attacks of mental depression from which Sir Selwyn Fox had long been a sufferer, increased in frequency.
His son Gaston (twenty-four years of age, of medicine by calling and letters by choice), whose devotion to his father was intense, urged him to go to London and procure that skilled medical advice which was not to be had in the neighbourhood of the baronet's country seat, in Northumberland. But Sir Selwyn was inflexible in his determination to see no doctor. Affectionate as his manner always was with Gaston, he even showed impatience when pressed on this point; and Gaston, forced to abandon it, fell back on his own skill in an endeavour to assign some tangible cause for his father's malady. But in this he was hopelessly baffled.
Nothing in Sir Selwyn's present state, no circumstance of his past history which was known to Gaston (who had rarely been apart from him since boyhood), excused or explained in any degree the melancholy which clouded his existence. His great fortune placed him beyond suspicion or suggestion of pecuniary embarrassment. All the surroundings of his home were well calculated to administer to the refined pleasures of a man widely known as an amateur of books and art. No entanglement of the affections could be supposed seriously to trouble the peace of one who had passed his meridian, and who, moreover, cherished still the memory of the wife he had long lost. He had friendships which, while they attested his worth, would have been sufficient in themselves to endear most men to life. Yet for months he had worn the air of a man to whom life was fast becoming an unendurable burden.
His own skill and experience failing to open to Gaston any method of coping with a disease whose hidden source and origin he could not divine, he was on the point of writing to a leading London physician of his acquaintance, when a circumstance occurred which saved him from the necessity of this step.
Sir Selwyn was alone in his room one evening when Gaston, who was reading in a room immediately beneath, heard sounds overhead which at once sent him upstairs to learn the cause. He had fancied that his father was speaking in a tone of troubled remonstrance to some unwelcome visitor, though he felt persuaded that no one, unless a servant of the house, could be with him at that hour. Hastening to his father's room, his footsteps were arrested on the threshold by the [Page 64] spectacle which the half-opened door revealed to him. Sir Selwyn sat motionless and rigid in his chair; his face was colourless, and all the features stiff, while the eyes, dilated and staring, seemed, though they were fixed on space, to hold within their vision some object not perceptible to Gaston. This was the more remarkable that Gaston stood directly in his father's line of sight, though it was certain that Sir Selwyn neither looked at him nor saw him. In a word, it was the gaze of a man who sees, or believes that he sees, an apparition.
Gaston took a step forward; the sound fell on the baronet's ear and broke the spell which held him.
His first look was one of inexpressible shame, succeeded immediately by one of indescribable relief. If detection were painful, as it clearly was, it appeared as though the pain were almost lost in the necessity now forced upon him of disclosing the secret of his misery. Gaston was at his father's side in a moment.
" What is it, father ? " he cried. " What is it ? You have seen something. Tell me what it is."
Sir Selwyn, in whose expression exhaustion and pain were mingled, fixed his eyes for a while on his son's face before he replied:
"If I should tell you, Gaston, you would not believe it. I do not believe it myself. And yet I see it, and know that it is there."
" I shall believe whatever you tell me, father", answered Gaston.
"Gaston", began the baronet, "you are a doctor, and have read, read widely in all branches of science. Tell me, do you believe that we who are in the body may see and know a spirit from the dead ? "
"You believe, father, that you have seen such a spirit ? "
"The whole force of my reason cannot persuade me otherwise", answered his father. "All the powers of my mind compel me to deny it, and yet the thing is there before my eyes".
The baronet had by this time regained his usual calm of manner, and his voice
was resolute and quiet
"Is it here now, father? " asked Gaston.
" Yes", answered Sir Selwyn.
" Where, father ? Point to me the place where it stands".
" It stands now at my elbow, side by side with you."
Gaston started involuntarily, the baronet's tone bespoke such absolute conviction. He moved a step, and placed himself immediately at his father's elbow.
"Do you see it now, father? " he asked.
"No, for you have taken its place. Yes! I see it again. It is on this side now, exactly opposite to you".
There was in all this so little of the tone and manner of the mere spectre-ridden visionary, that Gaston could not but be impressed, and his alarm for his father's state increased proportionately.
He began to question him in the direct matter-of-fact style of a doctor [Page 65] with his patient, inquiring into the particular nature of the vision, how often and in what circumstances it presented itself, whether his father were able to connect it with any event of his life, or whether it seemed to be causeless, a mere fabric of the imagination.
His object in this was to bring
his father to exert his reason upon the matter, that so, if possible, he
might end by convincing himself that he was haunted merely by some spectre
of the brain. He was, however, only partially successful, and for this reason,
that his father, while denying — and with perfect
honesty of convincement — the reality of his vision, remained nevertheless
persuaded that his bodily eye beheld it.
" I cannot well remember", went on Sir Selwyn, " how many years it is since this spectre first began to haunt me. In the beginning I thought little of it; my health was more robust then than it has been in late years, and leading a more active life at that time than I am able to do at present, I had greater strength, both of mind and body, to assist me in banishing it from my thoughts and presence. Indeed, I could then at any time rid myself of the vision by a mere exertion of will; but I can do so no longer. It torments me now as it pleases. I am powerless against it."
" Does the form resemble that of anyone whom you have ever known ? " asked Gaston.
" Yes", replied Sir Selwyn, after a moment's pause.
"And the person whose spirit
you believe this to be is now dead, father ? "
" Dead many years," answered Sir Selwyn.
"And what is there in the vision that troubles you so greatly, father? " asked his son.
" Its presence is tormenting", replied Sir Selwyn, " because
I feel that there is evil in it; it is malignant, and seems continually to
"Is it here still, father ? "
"No, since we have been speaking it has vanished. I shall see it no more tonight; but it will return tomorrow, and in the end it will kill me".
"No, father, no", said Gaston affectionately, but gravely. "Let me entreat you not to give way. You see how this vision, whatever it may be, vanishes when you begin to reason upon it. The mere fact of our having discussed it together will enable you to combat it more resolutely. Do this, and the same power will revive by which you dispelled the vision when first it troubled you."
Indeed, the closing words of Sir Selwyn's confession, notwithstanding the
quiet assurance with which they were spoken, had practically convinced his
son that the case was one of hallucination. They continued talking on the subject
until, at the baronet's usual hour of retiring, they separated for the night,
when Gaston was so far satisfied that his arguments appeared at last to have
given his father a somewhat increased measure of self-confidence.
At breakfast the next day, Sir Selwyn assured his son that he had slept well, and both in speech and look he was more cheerful than Gaston had seen him during a considerable period. It seemed, in short, as though the effect of their conversation the previous night had already begun to bear out the son's prediction; nor, at the end of a week, did this good effect appear to have been in any degree dissipated. "I have not seen it once", said Sir Selwyn, in answer to a question from Gaston. Another week passed, and a third, and the baronet declared that there had been no recurrence of the visions. He became very reticent upon the subject, and it was evident that he now shrank from any allusion to it. Gaston, on his side, was only too willing to avoid its mention.
It was at this time that Sir Selwyn received a letter from an old friend of his college days, now holding a high place in the Indian Government, reminding him of a long-promised visit, and begging him to fulfil his word without further delay.
A better invitation, thought Gaston, could not have arrived at a more opportune
moment. Their pleasant English home had become charged for the baronet with
associations which were wholly painful; a new scene and fresher interests
would assist to push to completion the recovery which could not but be long
delayed in his present situation. Sir Selwyn himself was of the same mind,
and decided at once to accept his friend's invitation.
Then arose in Gaston's mind the question whether, in the circumstances, it were well or advisable that his father should make the journey alone. He thought it not advisable at all, and without plainly telling this to his father, begged that he might accompany him. But Sir Selwyn showed a strong reluctance to accede to this request, which was the more marked that father and son had never yet been separated on any tour of pleasure. Gaston continued to press his point, until he perceived, or thought that he perceived, what was his father's reason for wishing to take this journey alone.
The thing which Sir Selwyn had striven for years to hide from his son he had just been forced to reveal to him. It was the sorrowful secret of his life, a secret which, to the baronet, had something of shame in it, and the revelation had been beyond measure painful to him. If, in one sense, the confession which had been wrung from him had brought father and son more closely together, it had, in another sense, placed a certain something between them of which the presence of Gaston was a constant reminder. With Gaston at his father's side, the secret too was there. When Gaston's delicate intuition had realised this for him, his entreaties to accompany his father were at an end. It was decided that Sir Selwyn should go to India alone, and in a fortnight from the receipt of his friend's invitation he was on his way.
Gaston was desolate at home, and at the end of ten days or so he went to Paris, intending to stay a week there and return to England; [Page 67] but the weather was pleasant, and from Paris he began to wander, in leasurely fashion, southwards; and before he had quite made up his mind as to where he wanted to go, he found himself in Rome. Rome was chilly, and he had lighted on a bad hotel, so he remained but a few days, and went on to Naples. He would wait to see Rome, he said, until his father was with him.
After a fortnight in Naples, he was on the point of returning home, when he received a cable message from his father, forwarded with letters from England. Sir Selwyn had reached India safely and in good health, and thought it probable that his stay would be of somewhat longer duration than his arrangements on leaving England had contemplated.
The prospect of five or six solitary months in the castle in Northumberland had no relish for Gaston, so he resolved to extend his tour by an excursion to Sicily. Accordingly, he took steamer one evening from Naples to Palermo: the beautiful old city where the traces yet linger of Saracen and Norman; with the tideless sea in front, and the purple hills behind, and between the hills and the sea the little lovely plain of the Shell of Gold. Naples is beautiful, but brutal; a paradise peopled by savages: an Oriental languor softens the life of Palermo, as it tinges with melancholy the national songs; and the rural element which enters so largely into the character of the whole Sicilian people makes them something of Arcadians in a modern Arcady.
Gaston felt the charm of the place in an hour; the sense of want of companionship which had gone with him in his listless wanderings in Italy, here deserted him; he plucked ripe oranges in the garden of the hotel, and they became his lotos fruit, for he resolved that his wanderings should end in Palermo. He would remain here until his father returned from India.
But it chanced that there were few foreign visitors in Palermo that season, and within a week of Gaston's arrival the hotel at which he stayed was emptied of all its guests, except himself and an old German baron, and the baron waited only for a steamer to take him to Malta, on his way to Egypt. An empty hotel in a foreign land is as cheerful an abode as a catacomb, and Gaston cast about for a change of quarters.
Strolling one day in a slumbrous corner of the town, where cypress trees stood sentinels at rusty iron gates, and the air smelled of lemon groves and roses, he was struck by the aspect of a tenantless and apparently deserted villa, walled within a garden, which, untended as it was, retained a certain monastic trimness. A weather-stained board over the iron gate, which was of fine workmanship, announced that the villa was to let. Gaston tried the gate, but it was locked. A broad-hatted priest who was passing at the moment, observing Gaston's interest in the villa, stopped, took a pinch of snuff, and said that if the signor desired to have particulars of the place, he might obtain them from such [Page 68] a person in a street close at hand, which he indicated. Gaston thanked the father for his courtesy, and went to inquire if he could see the villa, with a view to hiring it for a short time.
At dinner that evening, the baron said that he expected to sail for Malta on the following day, and expressed his regret at leaving Gaston alone in the hotel. Gaston replied that he should be sorry to lose the companionship of the baron, but that he also was about to leave the hotel, and had taken a villa for the remainder of his stay in Palermo. He described the villa, and the baron, who spoke English well, exclaimed with a laugh:
"So ! Is that the place ? The
Villa Torcello then has found a tenant at last!"
"Has it been long without one ? "
"Nearly thirty years."
"And what is the reason ? "
"How ! Did they not tell you ? The Villa Torcello is the famous haunted house. Yes, I assure you, a real ghost! Are you not delighted ? "You may be able to make a story about it, you know, you who write novels".
"And whose is the ghost ? " inquired Gaston, whose associations with this subject were by no means pleasant.
"They ought to have told you about it", answered the baron. "Some people do not like ghosts. I do not like them myself, though to be sure I have never seen a ghost. The house, as you know, is called the Villa Torcello, but that was not its original name. Years ago it was called the Villa Verga, after its first owner, Signor Udalrico Verga, a young Sicilian of good family, who was well known and very popular in Palermo. He lived there all alone, and was much visited by a priest, a very handsome young man, a little older than himself, with whom he was on terms of great affection. One morning, thirty years ago — I believe it was in this very month — the gardener of the Signor Verga found his master lying dead in the garden, with a bullet-hole in the temple. There seemed no reason in the world why he should have killed himself, and as no weapon was found near the body, or in any part of the garden, it was concluded that he had been murdered. Suspicion fell on the priest, though for no cause except that he had been more intimate with the Signor Verga than anybody else. They were never known to have had a quarrel, and as for evidence, not a scrap could be produced against the priest, who, they say, showed the deepest grief for his friend. Indeed he died, in great distress of mind, six months afterwards. Some people, who would always regard him as the murderer, said that remorse for his crime killed him; but though I have heard this story many times since I first visited Palermo, I could never see that there was any reason whatever to suspect the priest".
"And the murder was never brought home to anyone ? " [Page 69]
" It has remained a mystery from that day to this", replied the baron. "A year or two after the death of Verga, his brother went to live in the Villa, changing its name to that of a property of his own in Calabria, the name which it still bears. But he could not stay in it, for he said that he saw the spirit of his brother walking in the garden in the evenings, on the path where the body was found. Since he left it, the house has never been occupied. As to the ghost, many stories are told, but the favourite one is that it haunts the place seeking someone to avenge the murder. That is a strange notion, don't you think, Herr Fox ? "
The baron added no more to the story, and as he was busy with his letters during the rest of the evening, Gaston only saw him again to bid him good-bye on the following morning.
A day or two afterwards, Gaston settled himself in the Villa Torcello His coming there created a momentary flutter of excitement in the quarter where the villa was situated; but this was not known to Gaston, who had neither friends nor acquaintances in the town.
He wrote to tell his father of his new residence, and to ask him whether he had visited Palermo in the tour he had made in Italy a few years before Gaston's birth. One morning, the post from England brought him some flattering notices of a book he had published shortly before leaving, which made him think that it was time to set to work upon a new story. But the idea he was seeking did not come to him, and the indolent charm of his surroundings favoured no severe exertion of the intellect.
He walked in the town until it grew familiar to him; its avenues, and terraces by the sea, its deep shadowy gardens, its groves of orange trees and lemon; its narrow streets and the multiplied variety of the houses, with their odd and glaring contrasts of colour; its churches, where the religion of the west seems out of harmony with the architectural and decorative fashions of the east.
Sometimes he hired a carriage and drove out into the country, and these excursions were usually prolonged throughout the day. On one such occasion, he was returning late in the afternoon, and the vetturino was guiding his horses in lazy fashion in and out amongst a straggling file of mule-carts laden with wine, in a narrow lane on the outskirts of the town.
"What place is this?" called out Gaston presently, pointing to an old, discoloured building of considerable extent, which lay on the left of the road.
" Il Convento de’ Cappuccini, signor " replied the driver, and (never rejecting a chance to rest) pulled up his horses, adding: "The signor no see. II Convento? Ma, è molto curioso, signor (but it's a queer place)".
Gaston got down from the carriage, and at that moment a sandalled and brown-robed
monk appeared at the entrance to the monastery.
"Ecco il padre, signor ! " (there's the father), said the driver, pointing to the Capucin, who bowed to Gaston with a courteous indication of readiness to receive him.
Gaston went across, and was presently following the monk through an outer chamber of the monastery, empty and cold, with bare walls and a dark stone floor.
The monk stopped at a heavy wooden door, and taking a key from his girdle, turned to Gaston and said, in a mixture of Italian and broken English, which is here translated:
"The signor probably wishes to see our subterranean chambers. Many foreigners come here to see them. It is a very curious sight; we keep here the bodies of the wealthy Palermitans, whose relatives and friends assemble every year, on the Feast of All Souls, to visit them".
While he was speaking he unlocked the door, which led into a vaulted passage with a flight of stairs beyond. A faint, sickly smell pervaded the corridor, which became stronger and more offensive as they began to descend the steps.
They went down to a dusky place, around which Gaston's eyes wandered for a few moments with no certain gaze until they grew accustomed to the dimness. The daylight, such feeble daylight as filtered into that dismal magazine of mummies, was fading fast.
The monk took a bit of candle from a ledge and lighted it; at once a strange and weird effect was produced.
Thousands of corpses, and skeletons, and horrible hooded figures which were
of neither state, seemed in some manner to be awakened, seemed to rouse themselves,
and take cognisance of Gaston and his guide.
(To be concluded in our next.)
NOTE.—The Editors regret that they are unable to publish, as announced, the translation of the "Death of Ivan Ilyitch," by Count Tolstoi, a complete translation having just been issued by Messrs. Vizetelly. [Page 71]
by “The Adversary” (HPB)
"BUDDHISM IN CHRISTENDOM, OR JESUS THE ESSENE" by Arthur Lillie, etc.. — A queer and rather thickish volume, of a presumably scientific character, by an amateur Orientalist. Contents: — Familiar theories, built on two sacred and time honoured names, which the author enshrines between garlands of modern gossip and libels on his critics, past and present. A true literary sarcophagus inhuming the decayed bodies of very old, if occasionally correct, theories jumbled up together with exploded speculations.
The volume — title and symbology — is pregnant with the atmosphere of the sacred poetry attached to the names of Gautama the Buddha, and "Jesus the Essene". To find it sprinkled with the heavy drops of personal spite, is like gazing at an unclean fly fallen into the communion-wine of a chalice. One can but wonder and ask oneself, what shall be the next move in literature ? Is it a new " Sacred Book of the East," in which one will find the evidence by Policeman Endacott against Miss Cass welcomed and accepted as an historical fact ? Or shall it be the Pentecostal tongues of fire examined in the light of the latest improved kerosene lamp ?
But a well-informed chronicler at our elbow reports that the author of Buddhism in Christendom, or Jesus the Essene, is a strong medium who sits daily for spiritual development ? This would account for the wonderfully mixed character of the contents of the volume referred to. It must be so, since it reads just as such a joint production would. It is a curious mixture of "spirit" inspiration, passages bodily taken from the reports of the Society " for Spookical Research", as that misguided body was dubbed — for once wittily — by the Saturday Review, and various other little defamatory trifles besides. The "spirit guides" are proverbially revengeful and not always wise in their generation. A former work by the same medium having been three or four years ago somewhat painfully mangled by a real Sanskrit and Buddhist scholar in India, the " Spirit Angel " falls foul now of his critics. The wandering Spook tries to run amuck among them, without even perceiving the poor, good soul, that he only blots and disfigures with the corrosive venom of his spite the two noble and sacred characters whom his medium-author undertakes to interpret before ever he has learned to understand them. . . .
This places "Lucifer" under the disagreeable necessity of reviewing
the pretentious work at length in one of its future numbers. As the same mistakes
and blunders occur in "Buddhism in Christendom" as in "Buddha
and Early Buddhism", the magazine must make it its duty, if not altogether
its pleasure, to check the volume of 1883 by that of 1887.
It is rumoured that "A CATECHISM ON EVERY-DAY LIFE," by a Theosophical writer, is ready for press. Let us hope it will contain no special theology or dogmas, but only wise advice for practical life, in its application to the ordinary events in the existence of every theosophist. The time has come when the veil of illusion is to be pulled aside entirely, not merely playfully, as hitherto done. For if mere members of the theosophical body have nothing to risk, except, perhaps, an occasional friendly stare and laugh at those who, without any special necessity, as believed, pollute the immaculate whiteness of their respectable society skirts by joining an unpopular movement, real theosophists ought to look truth and fact right in the face. To become a true theosophist — i.e. one thoroughly imbued with altruistic feelings, with a willingness to forget self, and readiness to help his neighbour to carry the burden of life — is to become instantaneously transformed into a public target. It is to make oneself a ready thing for heavy "Mrs. Grundy" to sit upon: to become the object of ridicule, slander, and vilification, which will not stop even before an occasional criminal charge. For some theosophists, every move in the true theosophical direction, is a forlorn-hope enterprise. All this notwithstanding, the ranks of the "unpopular” [Page 72] society are steadily, if slowly increasing.
For what does slander and ridicule really matter ? When have fools ever been slandered, or rich and influential men and women ostracised, however black and soiled in their hearts, or in their secret lives ? Who ever heard of a Reformer's or an orator's course of life running smooth ? Who of them escaped from being pelted with dirt by his enemies ?
Gautama Buddha, the great Hindu Reformer, was charged by the Brahmins with being a demon, whose form was taken by Vishnu, to encourage men to despise the Vedas, deny the gods, and thus effect their own destruction.
"Say we not well thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" said the Pharisees to Jesus. '' He deceiveth the people. . . . Stone him to death ! "
"He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below"
says the great English poet. The latter is echoed in prose by the king of French poets. Writes Victor Hugo:
''You have your enemies; but who has not ? Guizot has enemies, Thiers has enemies, Lamartine has enemies. Have I not been myself fighting for twenty years ? Have I not been for twenty years past reviled, betrayed, sold, rended, hooted, taunted, insulted, calumniated? Have not my books been paradied, and my deeds travestied ? I also am beset and spied upon, I also have traps laid for me, and I have even beep made to fall into them. But what is all that to me? I disdain it. It is one of the most difficult yet necessary things in life to learn to disdain. Disdain protects and crushes. It is a breast plate and a club. You have enemies ? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed, created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything which shines. Do not trouble yourself about it. Do not give your enemies the satisfaction of thinking that they cause you any feeling, be disdainful."
( Choses Vues.)
"THE LATEST ROMANCE OF SCIENCE", Summarized by a Frenchman.
If the Atomo-mechanical Theory of the Universe has caused considerable embarrassment to our materialists, and brought some of their much beloved scientific speculations to 'grief (see " Concepts of Modern Physics," by Stallo), the layman must not be ungrateful to the great men for other boons received at their hands. Through the indefatigable labours of the most famous biologists and anthropologists of the day, the mystery which has hitherto enshrouded the origin of man is no more. It has vanished into thin air; thanks to the activity of the officina (workshop, in Queen's English), in Haeckel's brain, or, as a Hylo-Idealist would say, in the vesiculo neurine of his hemispherical ganglia [Dr Lewins, the Hylo-Idealist, in his appendices to “What is Religion?” by C.N. — “On the Brain Theory of Mind and Matter, the Creed of Physics, Physic and Philosophy.” W. Stewart & Co.] — the origin of mankind has to be sought in that scientific region, and nowhere else.
Religiously read by the "Animalists" in its English translation in Protestant and Monarchical England, the "Pedigree of Man" is now welcomed with shouts of joy in Roman Catholic Republican France. A summary has just been compiled of it by a French savant, who rejoices in the name of Topinard. The summary on that " question of questions " (as Mr. Huxley calls it), is more interesting in reality than the "Pedigree of Man" itself. It is so deliriously fantastic and original, that one comes almost to regret that our numerous and frolicsome ancestors in the Zoological Gardens of Europe and America seem to show no intention of getting up a subscription list among themselves, for the raising of a lasting monument to the great Haeckel. Thus, ingratitude in man must surely be a phenomenon of atavism; another suggestive point being thus gained toward further proof of man's descent from the ingrate and heartless, as well as tailless, pithecoid baboon.
Saith the learned Topinard:—
''At the commencement of what geologists call the Laurentian period of the Earth, and the fortuitous union of certain elements of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, under conditions which probably only took place at that epoch, the first albuminoid clots were formed. From them, and by spontaneous generation, [Mark well: when a theosophist or an occultist speaks of “spontaneous generation ”, because for him there exists no inorganic matter in Kosmos — he is forthwith set down as an ignoramus. To prove the descent of man from the animal, however, even spontaneous generation from dead or inorganic matter, becomes an axiomatic and scientific fact.] the first cellules or cleavage masses took their origin. These cellules were then sub-divided and multiplied, arranging themselves in the form of organs, and after a series of transformations, fixed by Mr. Haeckel at nine in number, originated certain vertebrata of the genus Amphioxus lanceolatus. The division into sexes was marked out, the spinal marrow and chorda dorsalis became visible. At the tenth stage the brain and skull made their appearance, as in the lamprey; at the eleventh, the limbs and jaws were developed ......the earth was then only in the Silurian period. At the sixteenth, the adaptation to terrestrial life ceased. At the seventeenth, which corresponds to the Jurassic phase of the history of the globe, the genealogy of man is raised to the kangaroo among the marsupials. At the eighteenth, he becomes a lemurian; the [Page 73] Tertiary period commences. At the nineteenth, he becomes Catarrhinian, that is to say, an ape with a tail, a Pithecian. At the twentieth he becomes an anthropoid, continuing so throughout the whole of the Miocene period. At the twenty-first he becomes a man-ape, he does not possess language, nor in consequence the corresponding brain. Lastly, at the twenty-second, man comes forth . in his inferior types."
Happy, privileged man ! Hapless evolution-forsaken baboon ! We are not told by science the secret why, while man has had plenty of time to become, say a Plato, a Newton, a Napoleon, or even a Haeckel, his poor ancestor should have been arrested in his growth and development. For, as far as is known, the rump of the cynocephalus seems as blue and as callous today, as it was during the reign of Psammetichus or Cheops; the macacus must have made as ugly faces at Pliny 18 centuries back, as he does now at a Darwinian. We may be told that in the enormous period of time that must have elapsed since the beginning of evolution, 2,000, or even 10,000, years mean very little. But then, one does not find even the Moneron any better off for the millions of years that have rolled away. Yet, between the gelatinous and thoughtful hermit of the briny deep and man, there must have elapsed quite sufficient time for some trifling transformation. That primordial protoplasmic creature, however, seems to fare no better at the hands of evolution, which has well-nigh forgotten it.
By this time, one would suppose that this ancestor of ours of stage one, ought to have reached, to say the least, a higher development: to have become, for instance the amphibian "sozura" of the "fourteenth stage", so minutely and scientifically described by Mr.Haeckel, and of which De Quatrefages so wickedly says in " The Human Species" (p. 108), that "it (the sozura) is equally unknown to science". But we see quite the reverse. This tender-bodied little one, has remained but a moneron to this very hour; so much so, that Mr. Huxley, fishing him out from the abysmal ocean depths, took pity upon him, and gave him a father. He baptized our archaic ancestor, and named him Bathybius Haeckelii. . . .
But all these are mysteries that will, no doubt, be easily explained to the full satisfaction — of science, by any biologist of Haeckel's brain power. As all know, no acrobatic feats, from the top of one tree to another top, by the swiftest of chimpanzees, can ever approach, let alone equal, the rapid evolutions of fancy in his cerebral "officina", whenever Haeckel is called upon to explain the inexplicable. . . .
There is one trifle, however, which seems to have the best of even his capacity for getting out of a scientific dilemma, and this is the eighteenth stage of his genealogy, in the "Pedigree of Man". Man's evolution from the Monera, alias Bathybius Haeckelü, up to tailed and then tailless man, passes through the marsupials, the kangaroo, sarrigue, etc. Thus he writes: —
"Eighteenth stage. Prosimiae allied to the Loris (Stenops) and Makis (Lemur), without marsupial bones, but with placenta". ( “Pedig of Man" p. 77.)Now it may be perhaps interesting to the profane and the innocent to learn that no such "prosimiae," with placenta, exists in nature. That it is, in short, another creation of the famous German Evolutionist, and a child of his own brain. For De Quatrefages has pointed out several years ago, that:
"The anatomical investigations of MM. Alphonse Milne, Edwards and Grandidier . . place it beyond all doubt that the prosimiae of Haeckel have no decidua and a diffuse placenta. They are indeciduatata. Far from any possibility of their being the ancestors of the apes, according to the principles laid down by Haeckel himself, they cannot even be regarded as the ancestors of the zonoplacential mammals . . . and ought to be connected with the pachydermata, the edentata and the cetacea." (p. 110)
But, as that great French savant shows, "Haeckel, without the least hesitation, adds his prosimioe" to the other groups in the " Pedigree of Man", and " attributes to them ... a discoidal placenta". Must the world of the too credulous innocents again accept on faith these two creatures unknown to Science or man, only because " the proof of their existence arises from the necessity of an intermediate type ? " This necessity, however being one only for the greater success of their inventor, Haeckel, that Simian Homer must not bear us ill will, if we do not hesitate to call his "genealogy" of man a romance of Science of the wildest type.
One thing is very suggestive in this speculation. The discovery of the absence of the needed placenta in the so called prosimioe now dates several years back. Haeckel knows of it, of course. So does Mr. Ed. B. Aveling, D.Sc., his translator. Why is the error allowed to remain un-corrected, and even unnoticed, in the English translation of the " Pedigree of Man", of 1887 ? Do the "members of the International Library of Science and Free-thought" , fear to lose some of Haeckel's admirers were these to learn the truth ?
Nevertheless Haeckel's scientific "Pedigree of Man", ought to awake and stir up to action the spirit of private enterprise. What a charming Féerie could be made of it on the stage of a theatre ! A corps de ballet, [Page 74] composed of antediluvian reptiles and giant lizards, gradually, and stage by stage, metamorphosing themselves into kangaroos, lemurs, tailless apes and anthropoid baboons, and finally into a chorus of German biologists !
Such a Féerie would leave " Black Crook", and "Alice in Wonder-Land," nowhere. An intelligent manager, alive to his interests, would make his fortune were he but to follow the happy thought.
Nota bene:— The suggestion is copyright.
THE BOOK OF LIFE by Sidhartha (also) Vonisa; his discoveries from "6215 to 6240, Anno Mundi".
Across between an octavo and duo decimo.
This volume, we see, is highly appreciated by the clergy, by whom, at this gloomy day of infidelity, even small favours seem to be thankfully received. The author (profane name unknown) hints, when he does not state plainly, that he is a reincarnation of Gautama Buddha, or Siddartha, as also of a few other no meaner historical personages. The work is a clever steering between the sandbanks of science and theology. Enough is given in careful agreement with the former to make it ignore the more abundant concessions to the gods of the latter — e.g., Biblical chronology. The age of the world is allowed 6240 years from Adam, "seven hundred years after the brown and black races had been created " (p. 53, "Chronology"); the date of the earth's incrustation and globe being left to the imagination of the reader. A chronological table of the principal historical events of the world is published on pages 53-56. Among them the birth of Moses is placed 1572 B.C. The Vedas are shown compiled in India, and the poems of Homer in Greece, " about 1200 B.C." Siddartha or Gautama established Buddhism in India " from 808 to 726", B.C. we are told. Last, but not least, of the world epochs and divine signs of the time, comes the for ever memorable event of March 31st, 1885 — namely, the " Book of Life, Vonisa, was completely written", and it closes the list. The reader is notified, moreover, at the line beginning with A.D. 6240, that the year 1884 C.E. (Christian Era) is the " beginning of Messianic age and close of Christian age", which might account for the appearance and publication in the year following of the original volume now under review.
The new Messiah declares that "although much of the work consists of discoveries which are original with the author, yet the reader will find in the Analytic Index a few hundred out of the many references which might be given to eminent authorities which were consulted in its preparation", Among these, it seems, one has to include some theosophic writings, as it is stated in the "Book of Life" that —
(a.) "Seven great forces were concerned in these vast movements of early
(b.) "Seven Ages of the Earth".
(c.) "Vayomer Elohim" translated "according to the laws of the Hebrew language", means that "seven forces were used as three-fold factors", and
(d.) That the first human beings were incarnated spirits" (pp. 26-27).
The above four declarations have the approval of theosophy. Whether the sentence that follows, namely, that " the work of incarnation (of the spirits) took place according to law", and is "the clearest hypothesis which science has to offer concerning the origin of man" will meet with the same approval from Messrs. Huxley, Haeckel, and Fiske, of the " Atomo-mechanical Theory," is very doubtful.
Nor is it so sure that the Ethnological department in the Anglo-Indian Bureau of Statistics is quite prepared to alter its census returns in accordance with Siddartha's declaration, on page 29 that —
" One branch of the brown race
was the Dravidian, which still holds
its place in Northern India ” (?!)
A new book, bearing the title of SPIRIT REVEALED, is nearly ready for press. It is described as an extraordinary work. Its author is Wm. C. Eldon Serjeant, F.T.S., a writer of articles on the "Coming Reformation", " Sparks from the World of Fire", etc., etc.. The work claims to "explain the Nature of the Deity, and to discuss His manifestations on every plane of existence, and to show forth the form of Christ, whose second coming is expected by Christians, and to proclaim the advent of the Messiah according to the belief of the Jews". "Many subjects, involving questions of considerable obscurity in reference to the Deity, to the Scriptures, to men, to animals, and to things generally, are comprehensively treated and explained in accordance with the Word of the Spirit declared at various times through the sons of men".
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH: These reports coming out ad libitum, without any definite date, cannot be regarded as [Page 75] periodical. Depending for their circulation chiefly on the consummation of what the learned editors offer as bonâ fide psychic and spiritualistic exposés — which the public accepts as most kind advertisements of the people so attacked — this publication occupies a position entirely sui generis. The " Proceedings" offer to the public a very useful manual, something between a text and a guidebook, with practical instructions in diplomatic policy in the domain of the Psychic, in the form of scientific letters and private detective information. Sensitives discern in the "Proceedings" (by telepathic impact) the Machiavelian spirit of aristocratic Bismarck, seasoned with an aura strongly impregnated with the plebeian perfumes of honest mouchards on duty, but then they are, perhaps, prejudiced. On the other hand, some Russian spiritualistically inclined members of the S.P.R. have been heard to say, that the "Proceedings" reminded them of those of the happily defunct Third Section of the St. Petersburg Police. Thus, the tutelary "guides" of the learned association of the British Psychists, may one day turn out to be the departed spirits of Russian gendarmes after all?
Occasionally when the hunting grounds of this erudite body have afforded a specially successful chase — after mares' nests — a Supplement is added to the "Proceedings", the magnitude of the added volume being in inverse ratio to the illumination of its contents, which are generally offered as a premium to materialism.
Hence, the "Proceedings" may
be better described as the fluctuating and occasional records of a society
bent upon giving the lie to its own name. For "Psychical" research
is surely a misnomer, besides being a delusion and a snare for the unwary.
LUCIFER would suggest as a truer title, "Society
for Hylo-Pseumatical Research". This would give the S,P.R. the
benefit of an open connection with Dr. Lewins' unparalleled "Hylo-Idealism" [ ύλη “ matter
as opposed to mind ” therefore Material-Idealism — a
contradiction in terms exactly parallel to the name “Psychic” and
the very “anti-psychic” work of the Society referred to. Pseuma should
replace Psyche, as it seeks for frauds and not soul-action ] — while
it would enable it to sail under its true colours.
Whether LUCIFER'S advice be accepted or not, the profound philosophy of the phenomenon baptized "telepathy" and telepathic impact can only be studied scientifically, in our spasmodic contemporary. This new Greek stranger is the crowning work of the Psychic Fathers of our century. It is their ''first" and "only" offspring, and is a genuine discovery as far as its Hellenic name goes. For, bereft of its Greek appellation,' it becomes like America. The genius who discovered the phenomenon, is like Columbus on whom the Northmen, and even the Chinamen, had stolen a march centuries before. This phenomenon can only seem new when thus disguised under a name solemn and scientific — because incomprehensible to the average profane. Its plain description in English — as transference of thought or sensation from a distance — could never hope to have the same ring of classical learning in it.
Nevertheless, the "Proceedings" with the two additional gigantic volumes of the psychic "Leviathan", called "Phantasms of the Living", are strongly recommended to invalids. They are priceless in cases of obstinate insomnia, as the best soporific known. Directions: The reader must be careful not to light a match in too close proximity to the said works.
The following books have been received
and will be noticed in early numbers of LUCIFER: —
THE HISTORY OF THE ROSICRUCIANS, by Arthur E. Waite, and THE QUABALAH UNVEILED, by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, from Mr. Redway; EARTH'S EARLIEST AGES, by C. H. Pember, from Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton; THE MYSTERY OF THE AGES, by the Countess of Caithness, from Mr. C. L. H. Wallace; AN ADVENTURE AMONG THE ROSICRUCIANS, by Dr. F. Hartmann, from the: Occult Publishing Company, Boston; and NINETEENTH CENTURY COMMON SENSE, from the T. B. Lippincott Company, Boston, U.S.A. [Page 76]
INTERESTING TO ASTROLOGERS
ASTROLOGICAL NOTES — No. I - by Nemo (?Francisco Montoliu)
To the Editor of LUCIFER.
WE are told that, before judging a horary figure, we must ascertain if it is radical, and to decide this point several rules have been given. The first is with regard to the number of degrees on the cusp of the ascendant. Lilly says a figure is rarely radical if the first two or last three degrees of a sign ascend. Morrison fixes the limit at the first or second and last two degrees. Pearse gives the limit as the first and last five degrees, and Raphael as the first and last three.
All the laws of nature are harmonious and rational; but in the rule of the first two authorities, this harmony seems absent. Why should the limit be I or 2 degrees at the beginning of the sign and 2 or 3 at the end ?
Again, as an exception to the above rule, Lilly says that a figure may be radical even when 27◦ or more ascend, if the number corresponds to his age; and when I◦ or 2◦ ascend, if the querent be very young, and his appearance agrees with the quality of the signs ascending. And here again there is the same want of harmony. Why should the age of the querent have to correspond accurately in one case and only approximately in the other ? Furthermore, no astrologers seem to have given a logical explanation of these rules.
On reflecting on this problem I reasoned thus. In ♍ 29◦ 59' 59”♃ is absolutely without dignity; in ♐ o◦ o' I” he is in his house triplicity, and 'terms, a threefold dignity. Is it conceivable that this great change of power should be so sudden, as to be accomplished in less than 2 seconds of space ? Analogy shows that it is probably otherwise, and that as the planets and cusps of houses have orbs of influence, so also have the signs.
If this be true, it supplies the key to the above problem. If only the first or last few degrees of a sign ascend, then the cusp of the ascendant is within the orbs of the adjacent signs, and the house is not ruled solely by the planet which is its proper lord, but also partly by the planet ruling the adjacent sign; and this must hold good under all circumstances, even when the number of the degrees ascending agree with the age of the querent, or the ascending sign and planets therein describe him.
Furthermore, if this be admitted, it also follows, as a logical conclusion, that if the first and last few degrees of a sign are on the cusp of any house, no conclusion can be drawn with certainty from the aspects of the lord of that house.
The exact limits of the orbs of
the signs must be decided by experience; I am induced to fix the limits at
2◦ 30' and 27◦ 30'.
To the Editor of Lucifer
The belief in the power and efficacy of talismans and amulets was, at one period of the world's history, universal. Even during the XVth century, the latest among the innumerable revivals of civilisation, the majority of learned and cultured men had a profound conviction of their reality. But such ideas are now scouted by popular opinion, because the philosophy underlying them is not understood. LUCIFER, therefore, would certainly confer a boon on many by throwing light on the following points: —
(I). Wherein does the power of a talisman lie? (2). How far does its efficacy depend on the signs traced upon it, and how far on the power and knowledge of the maker ? (3). Granting that will-power and knowledge are the main factors in imparting to the talisman its power, how does that power remain attached to it after the death of the man who made it. [Page 77]
THEOSOPHICAL AND MYSTIC PUBLICATIONS
THE THEOSOPHIST, a magazine of Oriental Philosophy, Art, Literature,
and Occultism. Conducted by H. P. Blavatsky, and H. S. Olcott, Permanent President
of the T.S., Vol. VIII, Nos. 94 and 95, July and August, 1887. Madras, India.
In London, George Redway, 15, York Street, Covent Garden.
This journal is the oldest of the periodicals of The Theosophical Society, and has a distinct feature of its own: a number of Hindu, Buddhist, and Parsi contributors among the most learned of British India. No journal is thus more reliable in the occasional information given in it upon the sacred tenets and scriptures of the East, since it is derived first hand, and comes from native scholars, well versed in their respective cults. From time to time The Theosophist has respectfully corrected mistakes — by Western Orientalists, and will continue to perform its proposed task by issuing admirable articles.
As a marked instance of this, the four “Lectures on the Bhagavad-Gîtâ”, by a native scholar, Mr. T. Subba Row, may be cited. Begun in the February number, they are now concluded in the July issue. No better, abler, or more complete exposition on that most philosophical, as the least understood, of the sacred books of the East, has ever been given in any work, past or present. In the June and July numbers, the “Ha-Khoshecah: a “ Vision of the Infinite ”, by Dr. Henry Pratt, an erudite Kabalist in England, is published.
Some very interesting articles on the “Norse Mythology”, by the learned Swedish scholar, Mr. C. H. A. Bjerregaard (the Astor Library, New York), may also be found in the last number.
The Theosophist is the journal of The Theosophical Society par excellence; the Minutes and records of the Society’s work being given monthly in its “Supplements”.
No evil wisher of the said Society, rushing into publicity with denunciations, and occasionally libellous attacks upon that body, ought — if he is a fair-minded and honest opponent, of course — to publish anything without first making himself well acquainted with the contents of The Theosophist, and especially with the Supplements attached to that journal.
This advice is given in all kindness to our traducers — the learned as the ignorant — for their direct benefit, though at an evident disadvantage to theosophy. For, as so many of our critics have been lately making fools of themselves, in their alleged exposés of our doctrines, it is to the advantage of our Society to let them go on undisturbed, and thus turn the laugh on the enemy. Two graphic instances may be cited. In “Buddhism in Christendom: or, Jesus the Essene, by an impolite dabbler in Orientalism, the septenary doctrine of the Occultists is disfigured out of recognition, and is met by the unanimous hearty laugh of those who know something of the subject. Its unlucky author has evidently never opened a serious theosophical work, unless, indeed, the doctrine is too much above his head. As a refreshing contrast one finds, in “Earth’s Earliest Ages”, by G. H. Pember, an author, who has most conscientiously studied and understood the fundamental doctrines of Theosophy.
Thus, notwithstanding his attempt to connect it with the coming Antichrist, and show its numerous writers pledged to the work of Satan, “the Prince of the Powers of the Air”, [ Spiritualists, mystics, and metaphysical Orientalists need not feel jealous, as they are made to share the same fate, and are raised to the same dignity with the Theosophists. The writers of “The Perfect Way”, Dr. Anna B. Kingsford and Edward Maitland, stand arm-in-arm with the humble writer of “ Isis Unveiled ” before the throne of Satan. Mr. Edwin Arnold, of “ The Light of Asia ”, and the late Mr. E. V. Kenealy, of the “ Book of God”, are seen radiating in the same lethal light of brimstone and sulphur. Mr. C. C. Massey is shown stuck deep in Antichristian Metaphysics; our kind Lady Caithness is pointed out in the coils of the “Great Beast” of Romanism, and charged with “Goddess worship”; and even — ye Powers of mystical Perception! — Mr. Arthur Lillie’s Buddhist Monotheism is taken au grand sérieux! ] the volume published by the learned and fair-minded gentleman is a true pearl in the anti-Theosophical literature. The correct enunciation [Page 78] of knowledge of the tenets he disapproves, as a sincere orthodox Christian, is remarkable; and his language, dignified, polite, and entirely free from any personality can but call forth as courteous a reply from those he arraigns. He has evidently read, and, what is more, understood, what he found in “ The Theosophist ”, and other mystic volumes. It shall, therefore, be the pleasure and duty of Lucifer, who bears no malice for the personal attack, to review this interesting volume in its October issue, hoping to see as kind a notice of Earth’s Earliest Ages in The Theosophist of Madras.
THE PATH; “a magazine devoted to the Brotherhood of Humanity,
Theosophy in America, and the study of Occult Science, Philosophy, and Aryan
by William Q. Judge. Price ten shillings per annum. New York, U.S.A. P.O. Box
2659, etc. George Redway, 15, York Street, Covent Garden, London.
A most excellent and Theosophical monthly, full of philosophical literature by several well-known mystics and writers. The best publication of its kind in the United States, and one that ever fulfils what it promises, giving more food for thought than many of the larger periodicals. Its August number is very interesting and fully up to its usual mark.
Jasper Niemand continues his excellent reflections in “Letters on the True.” Mr. E. D. Walker, in an article upon “The Poetry of Reincarnation in Western Literature,” cites the verses of Wordsworth, Tennyson, Dean Alford, Addison, H. Vaughan, Browning, etc., in proof of the fact that these poets were tinctured, if not imbued, with the philosophy of reincarnation. B. N. Acle continues “Notes on the Astral Light”, from Eliphas Lévi. He cites the startling and lurid enunciation of that epigrammatical occultist, who says that “he who dies without forgiving his enemy, hurls himself into Eternity armed with a dagger, and devotes himself to the horror of eternal murder”. “The Symbolism of the Equilateral Triangle”, by Miss Lydia Bell, shows how much wisdom can be extracted from a little symbol when you know how to look for it there.
S. B. makes some very pertinent remarks upon “Theosophical Fiction”, the growth of which is one sign of the times. “A true picture of life, either real or potential, which is found in a work of fiction, makes such reading one of the best sources of learning”. Thanks to the education which it is receiving from the more solid literature of theosophy, the public is becoming more critical, and has already formed a “standard of probability” for marvellous phenomena, which acts as a healthy check upon outside writers of fiction, who are therefore no longer able to trust entirely “to their imagination for their acts, and to their memory for their fancies ”. Novel readers now like their supernatural not to be unnaturally supernatural, even if they do have to take it in minute doses, disguised in their favourite draught of love, murder and small talk. “The Higher Carelessness” (No. 7 of “Thoughts in Solitude”), by “Pilgrim” [ Wm. Scott Elliott ] is full of deep and beautiful reflections. This writer, like “American Mystic” whose article on the puzzling question, “ Am I my Brother’s Keeper?” comes next, has advanced some way upon the path of knowledge, and the thoughts of both of them have a special interest for contemplative and self-examining readers. “American Mystic,” by-the-bye, gives a new and striking turn to a phrase too often misunderstood. “Resist not evil” he quotes and explains that resistance, fierce and personal, to evil befalling oneself, is what is meant. “Christianity — Theosophy”, by Mr. Wm. H. Kimbal, seeks to show that the fundamental aim of both, namely the Brotherhood of Humanity, is the same, and that they can and ought to unite their forces.
Julius, in “Tea Table Talk”. is as crisp, weird, and slyly-sentimental as ever.
LE LOTUS: "Revue des Hautes Études Théosophiques. Tendant à favorisés le rapprochement entre l'Orient et l'Occident". Sous ['inspiration de H. P. Blavatsky ( nominally; but edited, in reality, by our able brother, F. K. Gaboriau, F.T.S.). Georges Carre", 112 Boulevard St. Germain, Paris. Subscription 15 fr. per annum.
An excellent monthly, presenting yet another aspect of theosophy; inspired by the desire to benefit the struggling masses of humanity, and to diffuse the true spirit of solidarity among men. The August number, besides translations of selected articles from the Theosophist, of special interest to its French readers, contains a capital article on "Freemasons and Theosophists”, the continuation of a series of studies on "Initiation", and a discussion of the much-vexed question whether the " Will to Live" spoken of in the " Elixir of Life " is selfish or not. In [Page 79] the last few pages, the serious character of the journal is relieved by those brilliant sparkles of French wit to which that language lends itself so admirably.
Brief notes on books, articles in the press, pamphlets, etc., give ample
scope for caustic raillery, as well as appreciative comment, and the editor
ought to be specially congratulated on this department of his review.
L'AURORE: Revue mensuelle sous la direction de Lady Caithness, Duchesse de Pomar. George Carre, 112 Boulevard St. Germain, Paris. Subscription, 15 francs per annum.
The Mystic and Catholic Journal
of Aristocratic France, somewhat tinged with humanitarianism, and showing
the influence of the higher phases of modern spiritualism. The subject of
reincarnation is its principal feature, and a mystical romance,
“ Amour Immortel ”, gives its various phases. L'Aurore is admirably
conducted. Its articles are always in good taste, and perfectly adapted to
the special public it appeals to.
THE OCCULT WORD: A monthly journal in the interest of Theosophy. Mrs. J. W. Cables, 40, Ambrose Street, Rochester, N. Y., U.S.A.. Subscription, I dollar per annum.
Brought out more in the style of a newspaper, this journal is another proof
of the vitality of the Theosophic movement. It is more Christian in its tone
and phraseology, and shows less traces of the influence of Eastern thought,
than the publications already mentioned. Some thoughts in it are remarkably
good, and its tendency most excellent. A most worthy little periodical.
THE OCCULTIST: A monthly journal of Psychological and Mystical Research. Edited by Mr. J. Thomas, F.T.S. London agent, E. W. Allen, 4 Ave Maria Lane, E.C. Subscription,1 shilling per annum.
As its price indicates, a tiny and unambitious publication of four pages,
but one that contains, from time to time, thoughtful and suggestive articles.
Its existence testifies to the devotion of its proprietor and editor to the
cause of truth.
THESPHINX: "A monthly journal, devoted to the historical and experimental proof of the supersensuous conception of the world on a monistic basis." Edited by Hiibbe Schleiden, Dr. J. U. Th.Griebens Verlag, Leipzig; and George Redway, London. Subscription, 12 s.. 6d. per annum.
As its title page implies, a learned
and philosophical journal, doing its work with true German thoroughness and
permeated with a real spirit of earnest investigation. It appeals, mainly,
to thinkers and students — a numerous
class in Germany, but somewhat sparsely represented in England. Dr. Carl Du
Prel, the leader of the new school of transcendental philosophy in that country,
is its leading contributor. But it contains from time to time articles of great
interest to students of occultism.
TRANSACTIONS OF THE "LONDON LODGE" OF THE T. S., NOS. 12 AND 13. — Two able and interesting papers by Mr. A. P. Sinnett; the first on "Buddha's Teaching". the second on "The Relations of the Lower and Higher Self". Dealing with Buddhism, Mr. Sinnett exposes several of the current misconceptions regarding Buddhist doctrines. Notably among these stand the utterly false ideas, current in the West, that Buddha recognised no conscious existence for the individual after death, and that Nervana is synonymous with annihilation. Mr. Sinnett draws a happy comparison between these misconceptions and the strange blindness shown by European scholars in accepting the allegorical legend that Buddha's death was occasioned by eating roast boar, as a literal fact.
In his second paper, Mr. Sinnett
follows up a line of thought originated by him in an earlier number of the "Transactions".
He explains his views with clearness, and adds considerably to the details
of the outline sketched in his previous paper. But, as LUFICER hopes shortly
to deal with this subject at length, it is unnecessary to enter into a detailed
examination of Mr. Sinnett's views at present.
THE ESOTERIC: "A Magazine of Advance and Practical Esoteric Thought ". Boston, U.S.A. Subscription 6s. per annum.
Principal feature — the identification of each issue with one of the signs of the Zodiac, which are held to be "important and real divisions of time or states of man's life". Contents — eighteen short articles, occupying 62 pages, the substance of which has been mainly gleaned from various mystic authors, and harmonizes well with some Theosophical teachings. [Page 80]
FROM THE NOTE BOOK OF AN UNPOPULAR PHILOSOPHER
THE ESOTERIC VALUE OF CERTAIN WORDS AND DEEDS IN SOCIAL LIFE.
A definition of Public Opinion. The
gathering of a few fogies positively electrified by fanaticism and force
of habit, who act on the many noodles negatively electrified by indifference.
The acceptation of uncharitable views on “suggestion” by “telepathic
impact” (whatever that may mean). The work of unconscious psychology.
Sympathetic grief. —The expression thereof in Society, for one’s sorrow, is like a solemn funeral procession, in which the row of mourning coaches is long, indeed, but the carriages of which are all empty.
Mutual exchange of compliments. — Expressions of delight and other acting in cultured society are the fig-leaves of the civilised Adams and Eves. These “aprons” to conceal truth are fabricated incessantly in social Edens, and their name is — politeness.
Keeping the Sabbath. — Throwing public contumely on, and parading one’s superiority over Christ, “one greater than the temple” and Sabbath, who stood for his disciples’ rights to “break” the Sabbath, for the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for Sabbath (Matt., xii, and Mark, ii, 27, etc.).
Attending Divine Service. — Breaking the express commandment of Jesus. Becoming “as the hypocrites are”, who love to pray in Synagogue and Temples, “that they may be seen of men”. (Matt., vi, 5.)
Taking the Oath, on the Bible. — A Christian law, devised and adopted to perpetuate and carry out the unequivocal commandment of the Founder of Christianity, “Swear not at all; neither by heaven . . . nor by the earth . . .” (Matt., v, 34-35). As the heaven and the earth are supposed to have been created only by God, a book written by men thus received the prerogative over the former.
Unpopularity. — We hate but those whom we envy or fear. Hatred is a concealed and forced homage rendered to the person hated; a tacit admission of the superiority of the unpopular character.
The true value of back-biting and slander. A proof of the fast coming triumph of the victim chosen. The bite of the fly when the creature feels its end approaching.
A FEW ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE POINT FROM SCHOPENHAUER.
Socrates was repeatedly vilified and thrashed by the opponents of his philosophy,
and was as repeatedly urged by his friends to have his honour avenged in the
of Athens. Kicked by a rude citizen, in the presence of his followers, one
of these expressed surprise for his not resenting the insult, to which the
“Shall I then feel offended, and ask the magistrate to avenge me, if I also happen to be kicked by an ass?”
To another remark whether a certain man had abused and called him names, he quietly answered:
“No; for none of the epithets he used can possibly apply to me.” (From Plato’s “Georgics”.)
“The famous cynic, Cratus, having received from the musician Nicodromus a blow which caused his face to swell, coolly fixed a tablet upon his brow, inscribed with the two words”, “ Nicodromus facit ”. The flute player hardly escaped with his life from the hands of the populace, which viewed Cratus as a household god.
Seneca, in his work “ De Constanta Sapientis ”, treats most elaborately of insults in words and deeds, or contumelia and then declares that no Sage ever pays the smallest attention to such things.
“Well, yes!” the reader will exclaim, “but these men were all of them Sages!”
“And you, are you then only fools? Agreed!”
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