In the Twilight

The “In the Twilight” series appeared during 1898 in The Theosophical Review and from 1909-1913 in The Theosophist. The following note was added when the series began: ‘The stories given in these monthly records will be authentic, unless the contrary to be def898 / 1913initely stated in any particular case, that is: they will be real experiences.’ - AB


In the Twilight (1a)

first published Lutr March 1898 v22 p78-82

The talk turned on suicide when a small circle of friends gathered for their twilight chat. They were wont thus to gather once a month, when the sinking sun invited all to share the quietness that falls on nature, when she has drawn the cloud-curtains across the door through which her lord has disappeared - the hush of the gloaming that men lose in the hurrying town, where nature's fairy bells are not heard as they ring for matins and vespers day by day. Our little circle would discuss any point of interest that had arisen within the ken of any of its members, in the worlds physical, astral and mental; and the number of suicides that had been recorded in the daily papers has turned the conversation to that gruesome topic on the present occasion.1

“If one could only make these folk understand that they can't kill themselves,” remarked the Shepherd meditatively; “that they can only get rid of their bodies and are decidedly at a disadvantage by the riddance, maybe they would not be so ready to make holes in their bodies or in the water.”

“There lies the difficulty,” quoth the Scholar. “The grim tales our seers tell us of the results of suicide in the astral world are not widely known among the public, and even when known are not believed.”

“They picture a very real hell, it seems to me,” commented the Marchesa. “One of our seers told me a story the other day that was as ghastly in its horror as anything that Dante depicted in his Inferno.”

“Tell it again, O astral Vagrant,” commanded the youngest of our party, whose appetite for stories was insatiable. “Tell it again, and tell it now.”

“Well, it was rather a ghastly story,” began the Vagrant meekly and apologetically, “creepy, decidedly. There were two friends, some hundreds of years ago, half merchants, half soldiers of fortune, who for some years had travelled together through fair luck and foul. The elder, Hassan, had saved Ibrahim, the younger, from death by starvation and thirst in the desert, having found him lying senseless besides his dead camel, which he had stabbed to obtain a last drink. Hassan, passing alone over the sands to rejoin his caravan, came across man and beast, both apparently dead. The man's heart, however, was still faintly breathing, and he revived sufficiently to be lifted on to Hassan's camel and carried to safety. Ibrahim, wild, reckless, passionate, became madly devoted to the man who had saved him, and they lived for some years as brothers. It chanced that they fell in with a band of Arabs and dwelt with them awhile, and here , as ill fate would have it, the fair face of the chief's daughter attracted the eyes of both, and the two men fell desperately in love with the same maid. Hassan's steadier and kindlier character won trust and love where Ibrahim's fiery passion terrified, and as the truth dawned upon him the tiger in the savage nature of the young man awoke. Wildly jealous, sullenly resolved to have his will at all costs, Ibrahim slew Hassan treacherously while both were engaged in a skirmish with an enemy; he then rode to the encampment, rifled the tent of the chief, and, seizing the girl, flung her across his swift camel and fled. For a brief space they lived together, a stormy time of feverish passion and jealous suspicion on his side, of sullen submission and scheming watchfulness on hers. One day, returning from a short excursion, he found the cage empty, the bird flown, and his house despoiled of its treasures. Furious with baffled love and hatred, he hunted madly for her for some days, and, finally, in a tempest of jealousy and despair, he flung himself on the sand, cut his throat, and, gurgling out a curse, expired. A shock as of electric force, a searing flash of lurid fire, a concentrated agony of rending tissues, of tearing part from part, and the quivering etheric form was violently wrenched from its dense counterpart, and the blinded bewildered man found himself yet living while his corpse lay prone upon the sand. A confused whirl of sensations, of struggling agony as of a strong swimmer when the waves close over him, and Ibrahim was in the astral world, in drear and heavy darkness, foul to every sense, despairful, horror-weighted. Jealousy, rage, the fury of baffled passion and of love betrayed, still tore his heart-strings, and their force, no longer spent in moving the heavy mass of the physical body, inflicted an agony keener than he had ever dreamed as possible on earth. The subtle form responded to every thrill of feeling, and every pain was multiplied a hundredfold, as the keen senses answered to each wave of anguish, the bulwark of the body no longer breaking the force of every billow that dashed against the soul. Ah! even in this hell a blacker hell! What is this shapeless horror that drifts slowly near as though borne on some invisible current, eyeless, senseless, with ghastly suggestions of gaping wounds, clotted with foetid blood? The air grows heavier yet and fouler as it drifts onwards, and is it the wind which as it passes moans out “Hassan ... Hassan ... Hassan?” With a scream strangled into a choking sob, Ibrahim leaps forward, rushes headlong, anywhere to escape this floating terror, this loathsome corpse of a friend betrayed. Surely he has escaped - he had fled with speed of hunted antelope; as he stops gasping, something surges against his shoulder; he glances fearfully round - it is there! And now begins a chase, if that may be called a chase where the hunter is unconscious and hangs blindly on the hunted, ever seeming to be drifting slowly, without purpose, yet ever close behind, run the other swiftly as he may. Down, down into depths fathomless of murky vapours - a pause, and the dull touch of the swaying shapelessness with the overpowering horror that hangs round it as a cloud. Away, away, into the foulest dens of vice, where earth-bound souls gloat over vilest orgies, and the crowding throngs will surely give protection against this dread intruder; but no! it drifts straight on as though no crowd were there, and, as though aimlessly, sways up against his shoulder. If it would speak, curse, see, strike a deliberate forceful blow, a man might deal with it; but this blind silent drifting shapeless mass, with its dull persistence of gray presence, is maddening, intolerable, yet may not be escaped. Oh! to be back in the glowing desert, with the limitless sky above, starving, robbed, betrayed, forsaken, but in a world of men, away from swaying senseless horrors in airless murky viscous depths” -

The quiet tones of the Pandit broke into the silence into which the Vagrant's voice had faded: “That seems to make the pictures of Nâraka more real. They are not old wives' fables, after all, if the astral world contains such results of crime committed here.”

“But Ibrahim will not always be hunter like this”, said our Youngest, pitifully, as ripples of the loveliest rose-colour played through his aura.

“Surely not,” answered the Vagrant, smiling at the boy. “Eternal hell is but a frightful dream of ignorance, following on the loss of the glorious doctrine of reincarnation, which shows us that all suffering but teaches a necessary lesson. Nor need every suicide learn his lesson under such sad conditions as surrounded poor Ibrahim. Tell us about that suicide, Shepherd, whom you and our Youngest helped the other night.”

“Oh! that's nothing of a story,” quoth the Shepherd, lazily. “It is a mere description. But such as it is you are welcome to it. There was a man who had got into a number of troubles, over which he had worried himself to an inadmissible extent, worried himself to the verge of brain-fever, in fact. He was a very good young fellow in his healthy, normal state, but had reduced himself to a pitiable wreck of shattered nerves. In this condition he walked over a field where, some sixty years ago, a roué had committed suicide, and this elementary, attracted by his morbid gloom, attached himself to him, and began to instil thoughts of suicide into his mind. This roué had squandered a fortune in gambling and wild living, and, blaming the world for his own faults, had died by his own hand, swearing to revenge on others his fancied wrongs. This he had done inconsequently by impelling into suicide people whose frame of mind laid them open to his influence, and our poor friend became his prey. After struggling through a few days filled with his diabolical promptings, the overstrained nerves gave way, and he committed suicide, shooting himself in this very same field. Needless to say that he found himself on the other side on the lowest subplane of kâmaloka, amid the dreary conditions with which we are familiar. There he remained, very gloomy and miserable, weighed down with remorse, and subjected to the gibes and taunts of his successful tempter, until at last he began to believe that hell was a reality, and that he would never be able to escape from his unhappy state. He had been thus for some eight years when our Youngest found him,” went on the Shepherd, drawing the boy closer to him, “and, being young in such scenes, broke into such a passion of pity and sympathy that he flung himself back into his physical body, and awoke sobbing bitterly. I had, after comforting him, to point out that sympathy of that kind was a little ineffective, and then we went back together and found our unhappy friend. We explained matters to him, cheered him, encouraged him, making him understand that he was only held captive by his own conviction that he could not rise, and in a few days' time we had the happiness of seeing him free from this lowest region. He has been progressing since and before long, probably within a year or so, he will pass on into Devachan. Nothing of a story, as I told you.”

“A very good story,” corrected the Doctor, “and quite necessary to take the flavour of the Vagrant's horrors out of our psychic mouths.”

“To start another subject,” said the Archivarius; “here is a very interesting account from Sweden of an apparition at the time of death, seen by sixteen persons. It is sent by one of our members.”

“Keep it for next time,” suggested the Scholar, “for it groweth late, and we are wanted elsewhere.” 1. The stories given in these monthly records will be authentic, unless the contrary be definitely stated in any particular case; that is, they will be real experiences. - A.B.



In the Twilight (2a)

first published in Lutr v22 April 1898 p177-181

When the friends gathered for their monthly symposium, there was a general cry for the ‘ghost story’ promised by the Archivarius, and in response she drew from her pocket a bulky letter, saying: “The letter is from one of our students, Freya, who is often in Sweden, and it tells a story related to her during a recent visit. She says: ‘During the autumn of 1896, while traveling from the east coast of the island of Gothland towards the town of Wisby, I was invited to pass a night at the Rectory of D ----. The priest of this parish, a man of about fifty years of age, is a most earnest and devoted worker in the interest of the extremely fine Church which has fallen to his cure, and he desires most intensely to be able to restore this wonderful piece of architecture in a way that shall be worthy of it. He is most energetic in his efforts to raise the necessary funds, and loses no opportunity of furthering this object. I was much impressed by the face of this our friend, Pastor O ----. I thought it peculiarly benign and peaceful, with clear, expressive eyes which seemed to tell me that something more than ordinary vision belonged to them; the shape of his mouth also was firm and decided, but singularly sweet, After supper that evening we sat talking in one of the rooms adjoining his study. I had discovered that the rector was musical, but from music he wandered into the domain of mysticism, and discussed things of a psychic nature. I found that my impression concerning our friend was not mistaken, for when once on the subject he seemed quite at home in it, and gave us numerous instances of his own psychic experiences, not as if he thought them very remarkable, for it seemed that they had belonged to him all his life. It is one of these which I am going to relate to you, giving it, as far as I can remember, in his own words: - "During some years of my boyhood," he began, "I was at school in the Parish of Tingstäde, and as my home was at some distance, I was lodged, in company with another school-fellow, at the house of a resident named Fru Smith. This good lady had a tolerably large house, and gained her livelihood by taking boarders and lodgers; in fact, there were no less than sixteen people living there at the time of which I am speaking. Fru Smith also acted occasionally in the capacity of midwife and was often absent. Late one afternoon in mid-winter she informed us that she was going away on a visit, and could not possibly return until some time the following day, so she arranged everything necessary for our meals, etc., and bidding us to be very careful with regard to lights and fire, she left us, and as usual during the evening we were occupied in preparing our lessons for the next day. By half-past nine we were in bed, and had locked our door and put out our lamp, but there was sufficient light in the room coming from the glowing wood-ashes in the stove to enable us to see everything quite distinctly. We were quietly talking, when suddenly we saw - standing by our bed-side and regarding us most intently - the figure of a tall, middle-aged man looking like a peasant, dressed in ordinary grey clothes, but with what appeared to us as a big white patch on the left leg, and another on the left breast. My companion nudged me sharply, and whispered, 'What ugly man is that?' I signed to him to be silent, and we both lay still watching eagerly. The man stood looking at us for a long time, and then he turned and began walking up and down the room, his footsteps seeming to cause a rasping sound as if he were walking upon snow. He went over to the chest of drawers and opened and shut them all, as if looking for something, and after that he went to the stove and began to blow gently upon the yet glowing ashes, holding out his hands as if to warm them. After this, he returned to our bed-side and again stood looking at us. As we gazed at him we observed that we could see things through him. we saw plainly the bureau on the other side of the room through his body, and whilst we were looking his form seemed gradually to disappear, and vanished from our sight. The strangeness of this caused us to feel uneasy and nervous, but we did not stir from our bed, and at last fell asleep. Our door was still locked when we got up in the morning, but in mentioning what we had witnessed we heard that the same ghostly visitor had appeared in every room in the house - the doors of which were all locked - and that every one of the sixteen persons sleeping there that night had seen the same figure. Moreover some of these people who had been resident there for a length of time recognised the figure as that of the husband of our landlady, a worthless sort of fellow who had never settled usefully to anything, and had lived away from his wife for some years, so that he had long been a wanderer on the face of the earth. This strange coincidence naturally caused some of the residents to make enquiries whether such a person had been seen anywhere in the neighbourhood, and it was ascertained that the same evening a little after nine o'clock he had called at a farmhouse two miles distant, and had asked for a night's lodging; as there was no room he had been directed to the next farm, which was across a field near by. Upon hearing this the investigators at once looked in the snow for traces of his footsteps, and very soon they came across them. After following them a little way they came upon a wooden shoe, and a few yards further on they discovered the dead body of the man himself, half buried in a deep snow-drift. On turning the body over it was perceived that a large frozen clump of snow adhered to the left breast, and another to the left knee, precisely on the same spots where we had remarked the white patches on the clothing of the apparition. Although I was but a boy when this happened, it made such a deep and lasting impression upon me that the memory of it has remained with me most vividly all through my life. I have had other experiences, but this is certainly one of the most remarkable that has ever occurred to me." And if you had heard the story as I did, told simply and clearly, without any attempt at elaboration, you would have no doubt of its veracity.’ A very good and reasonable ghost story, I think,” concluded the Archivarius.

“He must have been an unusually visible ghost,” remarked our Youngest. “Surely all the sixteen people cannot have had astral vision.”

“Etheric vision would have been enough, under the circumstances,” said the Vagrant. “The man would have just left the dense body and would have been clothed in his etheric. Many people are so near the development of etheric vision that a slight tension of the nerves will bring it about; in their normal state of health these very same people are etherically blind. A friend of mine at times developed this sense; if she were over-worked, ill or mentally distressed, she would begin ‘to see ghosts’, and they would disappear again when her nerves regained their tone. She had a very distressing experience on one occasion, immediately after the passing over of a much-loved friend; the latter lady appeared as a ghost, still clothed in her disintegrating etheric body, and this very hideous garment decayed away with the decaying buried corpse, so that the poor ghost became more ragged, ghastlier and ghastlier in appearance as time went on. Madame Blavatsky, seeing the uncanny visitor hanging about the house and garden, very kindly set her free from her unusual encumbrance, and she then passed on into a normal astral life. Still, etheric vision is not sufficiently common to quite explain the seeing of our Swedish ghost by so many people.”

“There seem to be two ways in which a ghost may succeed in showing himself to people who are not possessed of either astral or etheric vision,” commented the Shepherd. “Either he may temporarily stimulate the physical sight, raising it to the etheric power, or he may densify himself sufficiently to be seen by ordinary sight. I think we do not quite understand how the ordinary astral person materialises himself. We know well enough how to materialise our own astral bodies at need, and we have seen our Youngest materialise himself by a strong emotion and wish to help, though he does not yet know how to do it scientifically and at will. But after what we call death, the disembodied soul does not normally understand how to materialise himself, although he may quickly master the art under instruction, as may be seen at many spiritualistic séances. When a person shows himself after death to ordinary vision, I suspect he is generally dominated by some strong wish and is trying to express it; unconsciously he materialises himself under the play of this wish, but the modus operandi is not clear to me. Probably this man was longing for shelter, his thoughts turned homewards intensely, and this gave the impulse which materialised him.”

“He may have been vaguely seeking his wife,” added the Marchesa. “Many a vagabond who has made home unendurable comes back to it in trouble. Probably he was less unpleasant in his etheric than in his dense form!”

“We should not forget,” said the Doctor. “that there is another possibility in such an appearance. The brain of the dying may send out a vigorous thought which impinges on the brain of the person he thinks of, there giving rise to a picture, a mental image, of himself. This may be projected outwards by the receiver, and be seen by him as an objective form. Then we should have a hallucinatory appearance, as our friends of the SPR would say.”

“Earth-bound astrals are responsible for more appearances than etheric doubles,” remarked the Vagrant. “It is very curious how they hang about places where they have committed crimes.”

“Still more curious, perhaps,” chimed in the Shepherd, “when they hang round articles, as in one case I came across. A friend of mine had a dagger which was said to have the gruesome property of inspiring anyone who took hold of it with a longing to kill some woman. My friend was sceptical, but still eyed the dagger a little doubtfully, for when he had himself taken hold of it he felt so ‘queer’ that he had quickly put it down again. There seemed no doubt that two women at least had, as a matter of fact. been murdered with it, I took the thing away to make some experiments, and sat down quietly by myself, holding the dagger. A curious kind of dragging at me began, as though someone were trying to make me move away; I declined to stir, and looked to see what it was. I saw a wild-looking man, a Pathan, I think, who seemed very angry at my not going where he pushed me, and he was trying to get into me, as it were, an attempt that I naturally resisted. I asked him what he was doing, but he did not understand. So I looked from higher up, and saw that his wife had left him for another man, and that he had found them together and had stabbed them with the man's own dagger, the very one I was then holding. He had then sworn revenge against the whole sex, and had killed his wife's sister and another woman before he was himself stabbed. He had then attached himself to the dagger, and had obsessed its various owners, pushing them to murder women, and, to his savage delight, had met with much success. Great was his wrath at my unexpected resistance. As I could not make him understand me, I handed him over to an Indian friend, who gradually led him to a better view of life, and he agreed that his dagger should be broken up and buried. I accordingly broke it in pieces and buried it.”

“Where?” demanded our Youngest eagerly, apparently bent on digging it up again.

“Outside the compound at Adyar,” quoth the Shepherd comfortably, feeling it was well out of reach; and he finished sotto voce: “I should have broken it up all the same, whether the Pathan had permitted it or not. Still, it was better for him that he should agree to it.”

“This month's ghosts,” said the Scholar, “are not exactly pleasant company. Surely we might find some more reputable astrals than these?”

“Really useful astrals are more often pupils busied in service than ordinary ghosts,” answered the Vagrant. “Let us bring up next month cases of work lately done on the astral plane.”

A chorus of “Agreed” closed the sitting.



In the Twilight (3a)

first published in Lutr May 1898 v22 pages 274-280

“It is interesting to notice”, said the Vagrant, when the friends had gathered round the fire for their monthly chat, “how often we come across stories of sea-captains who have been roused and induced to change their course by some mysterious visitant. On one of my many voyages I travelled with a captain who told me some of his own experiences, and among these he related one about a man in a dripping waterproof who had come to him in his cabin, and had begged him to steer in a particular direction so as to save some castaways. The captain did so, and found a party of shipwrecked sailors, one of whom he recognised as his visitor. The best and most typical of all these tales is perhaps the one which Robert Dale Owen tells so well in his Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World - that in which the mate sees a stranger writing on the captain's slate the laconic order, ‘Steer to the north-west’. The captain, hearing the mate's story and seeing the written words, decides to follow the suggestion, and by so doing saves from a wreck a number of people, one of whom is at once recognised by the mate as the mysterious visitant. A somewhat similar story, though differing curiously in some of the details, lately appeared in one of our daily papers, and though this be an unverified one it is typical enough to put on record. It is headed, ‘Crew Saved by a Ghost,’ but the ghost seems to have been the soul of a man living in this world, clothed in the astral body, as is normally the case during sleep. Here it is:” “Many strange incidents occur at sea, but none more so than that which befell Captain Benner, of the brig "Mohawk", a small vessel engaged in the West Indian trade. After leaving St. Thomas, her last port of call, on one voyage the brig was steering a north-westerly course, homeward bound, beating up under short canvas again{st} high winds and heavy seas following in the wake of a hurricane which had traversed the tropics five or six days before. Her captain, who had been some hours on deck, went below at midnight, after directing the first officer, who was on watch, to keep the course then steered, and to call him in case of any change for the worse in the weather. He lay down upon a sofa in the main cabin, but as the brig's bell struck twice, became conscious of the figure of a man, wearing a green sou'wester, standing beside him in the dim light of the cabin lamp. Then he heard the words, ‘Change your course to the sou'west, captain.’ Captain Benner got up and went on deck, where he found that the weather had moderated and that the brig was carrying more sail and making better headway. He asked the mate on duty why he had sent down to call him, to which that officer replied that he had not done so. The captain, fancying that he had been dreaming, went back to the cabin, but he was disturbed soon again by a second visit from the man in the green sou'wester, who repeated his previous order and vanished up the companionway. The captain, now thoroughly aroused, jumped up and pursued the retreating figure, but saw no one until he met the mate on watch, who insisted that he had not sent any messenger below. Mystified and perplexed, Captain Benner returned to the cabin only to see his singular visitor reappear, to hear him repeat the order to change the course to sou'west, with the added warning - “If you do not it will soon be too late!” and to see him disappear as before. Going on deck he gave the necessary orders for the change in the ship's course to south-west. The officers of the brig were not only surprised but also indignant, and finally determined to seize their captain and put him in irons, when, soon after daybreak, the look-out forward reported some object dead ahead. As the vessel kept on, it was made out to be a ship's boat. As it ranged abeam it was seen to contain four men lying under its thwarts, one of whom wore a green sou'wester. The ‘Mohawk’ was promptly hove to, a boat lowered, and the castaways taken in. The castaways proved to be the captain and three men, the only survivors of the crew of a vessel which had gone down in the hurricane, and they had been drifting helplessly without food for five or six days. The green sou'wester was the property of the rescued captain. A few days later when he had recovered sufficiently to be able to leave his berth, he was sitting one day in the main cabin of the brig with Captain Benner. He suddenly asked his host whether he believed in dreams. ‘Since I have been here,’ he continued, ‘I have been thinking how familiar this cabin looks. I think that I have been here before. In the night before you picked me up I dreamed that I came to you here in this cabin and told you to change your course to sou'west. The first time you took no notice of me, and I came the second time, in vain; but the third time you changed your course, and I woke to find your ship alongside of us.’ Then Captain Benner, who had noticed the resemblance of the speaker to his mysterious visitor, told his own story of that night. In most of these cases,” concluded the Vagrant, “the visitor is probably a pupil, serving on the astral plane, but occasionally one of the sufferers is himself the bringer of help.”

“That is so,” said the Shepherd, “but it is a very common occurrence for one of the ‘invisible helpers’ trained in our own circle to seek physical aid in this way for the shipwrecked. Sometimes a very vivid dream, cause by throwing an idea into the captain's mind while he is asleep, is sufficient to persuade him to take action, for sailors, as a rule, believe in the ‘supernatural’, as people foolishly call our larger life. The dream, followed by a prompt awakening, prompt enough to cause a slight shock, is often enough. It is often possible also to prevent an accident which one sees approaching - such as a fire or collision - by the same means, or by rousing the captain suddenly and making him think uneasily of such an occurrence, so that he may go on deck, or look round the ship carefully, as the case may be. A great deal more of this work might be done if only there were a larger number of our students willing to live the life which is necessary in order to qualify them for service when the soul is out of the body during sleep.”

“And the work is certainly its own reward,” answered the Vagrant. “You remember that steamer that went down in the cyclone at the end of last November; I betook myself to the cabin where about a dozen women had been shut in, and they were wailing in the most pitiful manner, sobbing and moaning with fear. The ship had to founder - no aid was possible - and to go out of the world in this state of frantic terror is the worst possible way to enter the next. So in order to calm them I materialised myself, and of course they thought I was an angel, poor souls, and they all fell on their knees and prayed me to save them, and one poor mother pushed her baby into my arms, imploring me to save that, at least. They soon grew quiet and composed as we talked, and the wee baby went to sleep smiling, and presently they all fell asleep peacefully, and I filled their minds with thoughts of the heaven-world, so that they did not wake when the ship made her final plunge downwards. I went down with them to ensure their sleeping through the last moments, and they never stirred as their sleep became death. One or two of them, it may be hoped, will not awaken until the dream of the heaven-world gives place to the reality, and the soul regains consciousness amid the light and melody of Devachan.”

“It is curious what tricks one's etheric brain often plays one in these matters,” remarked the Scholar. “I often find myself in the morning recalling the events of the night as though I had myself been the hero of the tragedy in which I was simply a helper. For instance, the other night up in the hills among the fighting, I was doing my best to avert a serious accident, and in the course of the work had to help one of our Tommies who was bringing up a gun, driving at a headlong pace down a breakneck sort of path, and it seemed to my waking memory that I had been driving the horses myself. And I remember one night when I had tried to drag a fellow away who was working in a building where there was going to be a big explosion, and had failed to make him move, that when the explosion came and I went up with him, and explained to him as he shot out of his body that it was all right, and that there was nothing to be alarmed about - the next morning the impression on my mind was that I had been exploded, and thought it was all right after all, and I could taste the choking gas and the mud and slush quite plainly.”

“Yes, you have an odd way of identifying yourself with the people you help,” commented the Shepherd. “It seems a kind of sympathy, making you experience for the time just what they experience, and on waking the brain mixes up the identities, and appropriates the whole.”

“Bruno used to describe our lower nature as an ass,” quoth the Vagrant, “and there really is a good deal of the ass in the body we have to use down here, to say nothing of the asinine attributes of the astral body, at least until it is thoroughly cleaned up, and confined to its proper function as a mere vehicle. But what was that story I heard a bit of the other day, about our Youngest saving a boy in a big fire somewhere? You tell it us, Doctor.”

“Properly speaking, the story is not mine to tell,” said the Doctor. “I was not present on the occasion; but as nearly as I can recall, it ran something like this. It seems that some time ago the Shepherd and our Youngest here were passing over the States one night, when they noticed the fierce glare of a big fire below them, and promptly dived down to see if they could be of any use. It was one of these huge American caravanserais, on the edge of one of the great lakes, which was in flames. The hotel, many stories in height, formed three sides of a square round a sort of garden, planted with trees and flowers while the lake formed the fourth side. The two wings ran right down to the lake, the big bay windows which terminated them almost projecting over the water, so as to leave only quite a narrow passage-way under them at the two sides. The front and wings were built round inside wells, which contained also the elevator shafts of lattice work, so that when the fire broke out, it spread with almost incredible rapidity. Before our friends saw it on their astral journey all the middle floors in each of the three great blocks were in flames, though fortunately the inmates - except one little boy - had already been rescued, though some of them had sustained very serious burns and other injuries.”

“This little fellow had been forgotten in one of the upper rooms of the left wing, for his parents were out at a ball, and knew nothing of the fire, while naturally enough no one else thought of the lad till it was far too late, and the fire had gained such a hold on the middle floors of that wing that nothing could have been done, even if anyone had remembered him, as his room faced on to the inner garden which has been mentioned, so that he was completely cut off from all outside help. Besides, he was not even aware of his danger, for the dense, suffocating smoke had gradually so filled the room that his sleep had grown deeper and deeper till he was completely stupefied. In this state he was discovered by our Youngest, who, as you know, seems to be specially attracted towards children in need or danger. He first tried to make some of the people outside remember the lad, but in vain; and in any case no help could have been given, so that the Shepherd soon saw that nothing could be done in that way. He then materialised Cyril - as he has done before - in the lad's room, and set him to work to awaken and rouse up the more than half-stupefied child. After a good deal of difficulty this was accomplished to some extent, but the lad seems to have remained in a half-dazed, semi-conscious condition all through what followed, so that he needed to be pushed and pulled about, guided and helped at every turn.”

“The two boys first crept out of the room into the central passage which ran through the wing, and then finding that the smoke and the flames beginning to come through the floor made it impassable, our little one got the other lad back into the room again and out of the window on to a stone ledge, about a foot wide, which ran right along the block just below the windows. Along this he managed to guide his companion, balancing himself half on the extreme edge of the ledge, and half walking on the air on the outside of the other, so keeping him from dizziness and preventing him from becoming afraid of a fall. On getting near the end of the block nearest the lake, in which direction the fire seemed least developed, they climbed in through an open window and again reached the passage, hoping to find the staircase at that end still passable. But it was too full of flame and smoke; so they crawled back along the passage, with their mouths close to the ground, till they reached the latticed cage of the lift running down the long well in the centre of the block. The lift of course was at the bottom, but they managed to clamber down the lattice work inside the cage till they stood on the roof of the elevator itself. Here they found themselves blocked, but luckily Cyril discovered a doorway opening from the cage of the lift on to a sort of entresol above the ground floor of the block. Through this they reached a passage, crossed it, half-stifled by the smoke, made their way through one of the rooms opposite, and finally, clambering out of the window, found themselves on the top of the verandah which ran all along in front of the ground floor, between it and the garden. Thence it was easy enough to swarm down one of the pillars and reach the garden itself; but even there the heat was intense, and the danger, when the walls should fall, very considerable. So the two lads tried to make their way round at the end first of one, then of the other wing; but in both cases the flame had burst through, the narrow overhung passages were quite impassable. Finally they took refuge in one of the pleasure boats, which were moored to the steps that led down from the sort of quay at the edge of the garden into the lake, and, casting loose, rowed out on to the water.”

“Cyril intended to row round past the burning wing, and land the lad whom he had saved; but when they got some little way out, they fell in with a passing lake steamer, and they were seen - for the whole scene was lit up by the glare of the burning hotel. till everything was as plain as in broad daylight. The steamer came alongside the boat to take them off; but instead of the two boys they had seen, found only one - for the Shepherd had promptly allowed our little one to slip back into his astral form, dissipating the denser matter which had made for the time a material body, and he was therefore invisible. A careful search was made, of course, but no trace could be found, and so it was concluded that the second boy must have fallen overboard and been drowned just as they came alongside. The lad who had been saved fell into a dead faint as soon as he had been got on board, so could give no information, and when he did recover, all he could say was that he had seen the other boy the moment before they got alongside, and then knew nothing more.”

“The steamer was bound down the lake to a place some two days' sail distant, and it was a week or so before the rescued lad could be restored to his parents, who of course thought that he had perished in the flames; for though an effort was made to impress on their minds the fact that their son had been saved, it was found impossible to convey the idea to them.”

“That's much more dramatic than my little story,” observed the Archivarius, “though my people were certainly quite as dense and unimpressible - more so, indeed, than the camels they were using as beasts of burden.”

“Stop”, broke in the Marchesa, “we really must break up, or some one will go unhelped in reality, while we are telling stories of past incidents. So let us leave our Archivarius and the camels for a future occasion.”



In the Twilight (4a)

first printed Lutr June 1898 v22 p364-368

“It is all very well to talk about helping people out of their difficulties, but they are often very difficult to help,” quoth the Archivarius plaintively, when the friends gathered under a large tree in the garden, to which they had adjourned by unanimous consent for their summer symposia. “I had a curious experience the other night, in which, despairing of impressing the dense human understandings, I at last turned my attention to their camels, and succeeded with them while I had failed with their owners!”

“Tell us, tell us!” cried the Youngest eagerly. “We don't often get an animal story, and yet there must be plenty of things that happen to them, if we only knew.”

“Result of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle books,” murmured the Shepherd sotto voce. “He will be looking for the grey wolf and the black panther on the astral plane.”

“Well, why not?” said the boy mischievously. “I am sure that you like some cats better than some humans.”

The Shepherd smiled demurely. “We were talking about camels, I believe, not cats. Cats ‘are another story.’ Go on with yours, Archivarius,” said he.

“It is a very little one,” answered the person appealed to, looking up from her seat on the grass. (The Archivarius was fond of sitting cross-legged like an Indian.) “I happened to be crossing some desert place, I don't know where, and chanced on a party of people who had lost their way, and were in terrible distress for want of water. The party consisted of three Englishmen and an Englishwoman, with servants, drivers and camels. I knew somehow that if they would travel in a certain direction they would come to an oasis with water, and I wanted to impress this idea on the mind of one of them; but they were in such a pitiable state of terror and despair that all my efforts were unsuccessful. I first tried the woman, who was praying wildly, but she was too frantic to reach; her mind was like a whirlpool, and it was impossible to get any definite thought into it.

‘Save us, O God! O God! save us!’ she kept on wailing, but would not have sufficient faith to calm her mind and make it possible for help to reach her. Then I tried the men one after the other, but the Englishmen were too busy making wild suggestions, and the Mahommedan drivers too stolidly submissive to fate, for my thought to rouse their attention. In despair I tried the camels, and to my delight succeeded in impressing the animals with the sense of water in their neighbourhood. They began to show signs familiar to their drivers as indicating the presence of water in the vicinity, and at last I got the whole caravan started in the right direction. So much for human stolidity and animal receptiveness.”

“The lower forms of psychism,” remarked the Vagrant sententiously, “are more frequent in animals and in very unintelligent human beings than in men and women in whom the intellectual powers are well developed. They appear to be connected with the sympathetic system, not with the cerebro-spinal. The large nucleated ganglionic cells in this system contain a very large proportion of etheric matter, and are hence more easily affected by the coarser astral vibrations than are the cells in which the proportion is less. As the cerebro-spinal system developes, and the brain becomes more highly evolved, the sympathetic system subsides into a subordinate position, and the sensitiveness to psychic vibrations is dominated by the stronger and more active vibrations of the higher nervous system. It is true that at a later stage of evolution psychic sensitiveness reappears, but it is then developed in connection with the cerebro-spinal centres, and is brought under the control of the will. But the hysterical and ill-regulated psychism of which we see so many lamentable examples is due to the small development of the brain and the dominance of the sympathetic system.”

“That is an ingenious and plausible theory,” remarked the Doctor, “and throws light on many singular and obscure cases. Is it a theory only, or is it founded on observation?” he asked.

“Well, it is a theory founded on at present very inadequate observations,” answered the Vagrant. “The few observations made distinctly indicate this explanation of the physical basis of the lower and higher psychism, and it tallies with the facts observed as to the astral senses in animals and in human beings of low intellectual development, and also with the evolutionary relations of the two nervous systems. Both in the evolution of living things and in the evolution of the physical body of man, the sympathetic system precedes the cerebro-spinal in its activities and becomes subordinated to the latter in the more evolved condition.”

“That is certainly so evolutionally and physiologically,” replied the Doctor reflectively, “and it may well be true when we come to deal with the astral faculties in relation to the physical basis through which they are manifested down here.”

“Speaking of animals reminds me of nature-spirits,” said the Scholar, “for they are sometimes spoken of as the animals of the Deva evolution. I had a visit the other night from some jolly little fellows, who seemed inclined to be quite friendly. One was a little water elemental, a nice wet thing, but I am afraid I frightened him away, and I have not been able to find him since.”

“They are naturally suspicious of human beings,” remarked the Shepherd, “we being such a destructive race; but it is quite possible to get into friendly relations with them.”

“Mediaeval literature is full of stories about nature-spirits,” chimed in the Abbé, who had dropped in that evening on one of his rare visits to London. “We find them of all sorts - fairies and elves, friendly or mischievous, gnomes, undines, imps, and creatures of darker kinds, who take part in all sorts of horrors.”

“It was a strange idea,” mused the Vagrant, “that which represented them as irresponsible beings without souls, but capable of acquiring immortality through the mediation of man. Our Maiden Aunt sent me a charming story the other day from Jacob Grimm's Deutsche Mythologie about one of the water-sprites. Speaking of the offerings made to them by men, he writes: ‘Although Christianity forbade such offerings and represented the old water-sprites as devilish beings, the people nevertheless retained a certain fear and reverence for them, and indeed have not yet given up all belief in their power and influence: they deem them unholy (unselige) beings, but such as may some day be partakers in salvation. To this state of feeling belongs the touching legend that the water-sprite, or Neck, not only requires an offering for his instructions in music, but a promise of resurrection and redemption. Two boys were playing by a stream; the Neck sat and played on his harp; the children cried to him; "Neck! why dost thou sit there and play? Thou canst not be saved." Then the Neck began to weep bitterly, threw away his harp, and sank into the deep water. When the children came home, they told their father, who was a priest, what had happened. The father said "Ye have sinned against the Neck; go back, comfort him, and promise him redemption." When they returned to the stream, the Neck was sitting on the bank, moaning and weeping. The children said: "Weep not so, Neck; our father has said that thy Redeemer also liveth." Then the Neck joyfully took his harp and played sweetly till long after sunset.’ Thus runs the tale.”

“That was a very easy way of saving him; generally one was expected to marry the sprite,” remarked the Abbé ruefully, as though recalling some uncanny mediaeval experience. “One had to accept purgatory here in order to gain for the creature entrance into paradise hereafter.”

A burst of laughter greeted this pathetic utterance, and some of the mediaeval ideas still persist; in a letter from Italy received the other day the following curious account is given: ‘At a village called Gerano, near Tivoli, about seventeen miles from Rome, it is the custom of the wet-nurses, especially on the Eve of St John, to strew salt on the pathway leading to their houses, and to place two new besoms in the form of a cross on the threshold, in the belief that they thus are protecting their nurslings from the power of witches. It is believed that the witches must count every grain of salt and every hair or stick in the brooms before they are able to enter the houses, and this labour must be finished before sunrise; after that time they are powerless to inflict any evil upon the children. In the Marche near Ancona on the shores of the Adriatic, it is considered necessary at all times - so I am told by the portress here, who is a native of that part - where there are children at the breast, never to be without salt or leaven in the house. Further, they must not leave the children's clothes or swathingbands out to dry after sunset, and should they be obliged to take them out after that time they must be careful to walk with them close to the houses, under the shadow of the eaves, and if crossing an open place to do so as quickly as possible; these precautions are also against witches. I was also told by the portress that one day her mother, after having washed and swaddled a little brother, laid him on the bed, and left the house for a short time on an errand to one of the shops near. On returning she found the house door open (this formed an angular space behind it), and on going to the bed she found it vacant. This did not at first alarm her, as she thought a neighbour had possibly heard the child cry, and had taken it into her house. On enquiry, however, no one had seen it or heard it cry, and this caused alarm and search. After some time the mother, on closing the door, found the child on the floor, face downwards, and almost black with suffocation; you may imagine the consternation. The fact was attributed to witches, and the sister says that during the whole of his life - which ended in decline when he was about twenty-seven - he was always unfortunate.’

“Poor witches! they have been the scapegoats of human ignorance and fear from time immemorial,” commented the Doctor. “It is well for many of our mesmerists and mediums that they live in the nineteenth century. But it is quite possible that we may see a modern witchcraft scare, if occult forces become known and any of them are used malignly.”



In the Twilight (1)

first printed in The Theosophist, April, 1909, p78-84

A mighty banyan-tree, spreading level branches far and wide, and roots down-dropping, fixed pillar-wise in earth. Plants of variegated foliage, grouped together here and there, breaking the smooth expanse of sand. A sago-palm, rearing lofty head, with heavy tassels swinging slowly in the sea-breeze of the evening. A blue-black sky above, with heaven's eyes glancing downwards through the leaves, with a brilliance unknown to the dusky twilights of the northern island far away. A crescent moon, gleaming like a silver scimitar in the zenith. A soft pulse beating in the near distance, the pulse of a quiet sea. Close by, a lapping of water against a shelving bank. Sometimes the click of a lizard, the heavy beating of droning wings. Over all, through all, the incomparable magic of the East.

The circle has links with earlier twilight hours. The Shepherd is there, meditative, smiling, slow-moving, gentle, as of old. The Vagrant, too, has journeyed hither, vagrant all the worlds over, it would seem. The rest are new-comers to the Twilight Hour, but will introduce themselves as time goes on.


The Vagrant threw the first ball: “There will be a regular outcry among some of our members when they see that the Twilight Hour has again daw ... no, twilight does not dawn; let us say, struck. ‘There!’ they will say; ‘we told you so! the reign of psychism has begun’. I wonder why people, who use physical brains and senses as a vehicle for their intelligence, throw so much cold water on the use of a somewhat finer brain and senses for the same intelligence, and why they object to the study of the astral world while they applaud that of the physical. We all, without exception, have to go into the astral world a few years hence. It does not seem unreasonable that we should acquaint ourselves with it beforehand.”

“Yes,” mused the Shepherd. “If one is going to India, one enquires about suitable clothes, visits an outfitter, buys a map, perhaps even tries to learn a little of the language, and that is called ‘making reasonable arrangements.’ Why should the ‘land on the other side of death’ be the only one about which it is better to remain ignorant until we reach it?”

“But people ask: What is the practical use of such knowledge?” said the Lawyer. “They are afraid that it may turn away our minds from the deeper side of spiritual truths.”

“It should not do so,” opined the Vagrant, “for it ever proclaims the great law: ‘As a man soweth, so shall he reap.’ The student of life-conditions on the other wide is being ever reminded that this law is still operative in the worlds beyond death, and that much that we sow here is reaped there. It makes belief in karma and re-incarnation strong and firm. All religious teachers have insisted on the relation of heaven and hell to the life led upon earth, and their insistence must have been, presumably, based on their first-hand knowledge that such states existed; moreover, many of them go into considerable detail in dealing with the subject. Our objectors are in the curious position of reverencing the Sages of the past, who included in their teachings an exposition of these matters based on their own investigations, and of denouncing all who, in modern days, venture humbly to tread in their steps. Unless we are content with second-hand knowledge, we must either follow their example and investigate, or fall back on the much more undesirable methods of the séance-room.”

“Some people say that such knowledge does not prove that the man possessing it is of high character,” remarked the Magian.

“Nor does the fact that a man is a fine chemist prove that he is a philanthropist,” replied the Vagrant; “yet chemistry is none the less a valuable addition to human knowledge. It may, however, be said that personal investigations into after-death states must inevitably re-act in the purification of character here, for no one who has seen the results of evil there will lightly commit it here. I remember a striking illustration of such results, though that was not a case of investigation, but occurred at a spiritualistic séance ...”

“Oh! a story, a story,” cried several voices, and there was a little rustling of expectation, while the large eyes of the Fiddler grew intent and serious.

“Yes, a story,” smiled the Vagrant. “The Shepherd and I, once upon a time, went to a séance, at which a very small number of people, much given to such researches, were present, with a powerful medium. Almost immediately after the turning down of the lights, some rather violent physical manifestations began; attempts were made to pull away chairs from under the sitters, a lady was violently shaken, and so on. Needless to say, we were left undisturbed, but we became alertly attentive, presaging trouble. Presently, there broke into the silence a sound of wailing, indescribably painful, cries, sobs, as of some one in deadly terror, and then the unhappy creature from whom they proceeded was materialised. In ecstasies of fear, she crouched beside a lady who was one of the sitters, pressing up against her, seeking refuge, with piteous moans and strangled whispers: ‘Save me! save me!’ The cause of her terror soon appeared on the scene, a huge, dark gorilla-like form, monstrous of shape and menacing of mien, instinct with a cold and cruel malignancy, and with a certain horrid glee - too wicked to be joy - in seeing the agonised writhings of his helpless victim. An auric shield of protection was hastily thrown round the latter, the lady-sitter withdrew, considerably shaken and upset, and the gorilla threw itself furiously on the medium, flinging away his chair and hurling him to the ground; indeed only the protection of the Shepherd rescued him from a catastrophe, while I turned up the light. That night we sought the unhappy woman, and found her still fleeing before her horrible tormentor, who, mouthing and growling, pursued her through the murky gloom of the lowest worlds. Swift action scattered the malignant thought-forces embodied in the frightful creature, and his hunted prey sobbed herself to quietude.”

“But what was the cause of it?” asked the Painter.

“She had been a woman of evil life, taking delight in arousing the animal passions of men, and then setting her suitors the one against the other, laughing at their torments, when, tired of them, she flung them off, finding only enjoyment in their pain and their misery. More than one had died because of her, by duel or by his own hand, raving against her treachery and her cruelty. All their anger, their hatred, their longing to be revenged, had become embodied in this hateful form, bestial because it had grown out of bestial relations.”

“But was this the embodiment of any of these people?” queried the Lawyer, puzzled. “For if so, was it right to destroy it?”

“It was only an artificial elemental,” said the Shepherd. “You see, all these thoughts of hatred and revenge became aggregated into one horrible form; it was not a normal living creature, which it would have been illegitimate to kill, however objectionable it might have been, but a thought-form, with no life outside the thoughts which made it, and the sooner those were scattered and reduced to their separate being as thoughts related to their generators, mere skandhas, the better for all the parties concerned.”

“Is it not rather dangerous to attend séances, if things like this are to be met there?” asked a dubious voice.

“Such very unpleasant entities are not common,” said the Shepherd consolingly. “But, you are right; attending séances is dangerous for the great majority of people, and I think it would be well that you should understand these dangers. They are more important for the westerns among you than for the Indians, who have very wisely kept entirely away from such things, since they have, as a rule, no doubts as to the continuance of life after death.”

“Tell us! tell us!” came in chorus.

The Shepherd settled himself comfortably for a long discourse. “Well, it is this way,” he began. “But I ought to say first that in the West, where materialism was triumphant, Spiritualism has done a great work in rescuing millions of men and women from disbelief in immortality. It has many and great dangers, but the good which it has done, in my personal opinion, far outweighs the harm, for it offered the only proofs materialists would accept that a man was alive after he was called dead; and that is a fact we should never forget, however much we may prefer our own system.”

“The fact that it was started by a Lodge of Occultists, who are in relation, to some extent, with the Great Lodge, as a weapon against materialism,” said the Vagrant, “implies that it would do more good than harm. You might just mention that.”

“Yes. An old Atlantean Lodge, in Mexico, which owes allegiance to the White Lodge, while going along its own lines, was the originator of modern Spiritualism. Seeing that while some could be convinced of immortality by intellectual means, others could only be affected through the senses, these Occultists resolved to help the latter class, which was becoming more and more numerous in the West. Personally, I regard the intellectual proof as the most convincing, but others can feel sure of the survival of their loved and lost only if they can see a tangible form, or hear an audible voice. The majority of people in the West, at the present stage of evolution, cannot grasp theosophical teachings, and for them the spiritualistic proofs of continued life and progress after death are valuable, especially in cases where materialistic teachings have weakened religious beliefs.”

“Well, the greatest danger in attending séances is really that of believing too much. The sceptic goes, finds overwhelming proof of the survival of a dead friend, and is apt to become suddenly credulous, so that such attendance makes for superstition. But that which is more commonly regarded as the greatest danger is that of obsession and haunting. This often begins at a séance. At a séance a person called a ‘medium’ is present, one whose bodies are somewhat loosely linked together; normally, a person who is living in the physical body can neither see nor hear a person whose lowest vehicle is an astral body, nor can the latter see or hear the other; with the help of the medium's peculiar characteristics, they can be brought into touch. There are three ways - apart from telepathy - in which the ‘living’ and the ‘dead’ communicate; first, when you go to sleep, you go into the astral world, and may communicate freely with your friends, but on your return, when you wake, you do not as a rule remember. Then, the ‘dead’ may appear, drawing material from a medium, and building it into their own bodies, and thus ‘materialising’, becoming visible and tangible; or they may speak through the medium, who is in a state of trance, or write through him, awake or entranced wholly or partially. In this case, what is said is much affected by the medium and his limitations, and speech may be ungrammatical and clumsy, though in some cases this is not so. Mediums - though with some marked exceptions - are drawn from the illiterate classes, and they are often re-incarnations from undeveloped races or types - Negroes who had been students of Voodoo and Obea, Middle Age witches, and the like.”

“Might not the vestal virgins of old temples re-incarnate as mediums?” said the Scholar (not the Scholar of the earlier series.)

“They were people of higher types, as a rule,” answered the Shepherd. “But those who were habitually thrown into trances or paroxysms by drugs might thus return.”

“Are all uneducated?” asked the Lawyer.

“No, but most of them are, especially those who are paid. Mediums of a higher class generally restrict their work to small and carefully chosen private circles. Next, we must ask: who, from the other side, are likely to use mediums? Obviously those who are nearest to the earth, not in place, but in density. And these are mostly undesirables, frantically eager to come into touch with the world which they have left, and grasping at every chance. If a man were bound hand and foot and left in one of the worst slums, he would be more likely to be found by a thief than by a philanthropist. A medium is in that position, and the evil would be almost unmitigated, were it not for the ‘spirit-guide’, who tries to protect the medium and to keep off the worst types. Of course, these unfortunate beings, murderers, suicides, criminals of all sorts, ought to be helped, but the séance is not the place for helping them. The sitters there are begged to be passive, negative, and hence are very easily taken hold of. Moreover, this condition of passivity is physically harmful, for matter is drawn from all of them. I once had a medium on a weighing-machine during some materialisations, and on one occasion it showed a loss of weight by the medium amounting to 44 lbs. I have seen a man shrink till he looked a boy, with his clothes hanging loose. Naturally, such conditions are followed by frightful exhaustion, and the unhappy victim often takes to heavy drinking in order to recover. This, again, re-acts, and encourages the lowest types of obsessing entities.”

“Would not physical matter thus drawn away be returned polluted?” asked the Epistemologist.

“Most certainly, and both the medium and the sitters suffer in this way. Moreover, the low-class entities who throng séances make desperate efforts to seize on the sitters, taking advantage of any weak points.”

“What sort of weak points?” queried the Youth.

“Nervous overstrain, or strong passions, such as violent temper or hysteria. And even if the sitter be too strong to be obsessed, the entity may follow him home, and seize on any weak member of his family. Fortunately, India is almost free from these séances, and, even if they come in your way, you should not go to them; the dangers are too great. It is only worth while to face these dangers if you are a materialist, and do not believe that personal life persists on the other wide of death. For you must remember that you cannot protect yourself against these dangers as can the trained student. Moreover, you are very likely to be deceived; unless you have studied Occultism you cannot distinguish whether the entity is what he pretends to be or not; any thing you know, he can read from your mind, or he may read from the empty shell of a friend who has gone on. Sometimes deception is done with good intent, as when a man in the astral world saved a broken-hearted mother from madness by pretending to be her child, and justified the deception as on a par with promising anything to a delirious patient. I have said nothing as to the harm done to many of the ‘dead’, by encouraging them to remain mixed up in earthly matters, when they should be better employed, but reasons enough are given for not going to séances. Thus if we desire information we are driven back upon the writings of the ancient or modern investigators.”

“Can any instance be given of the way in which harm is done to the dead?” asked the Enquirer.

“The way now must be bedwards, please,” interposed the Vagrant; and with that the company parted.



In the Twilight (2)

first printed in The Theosophist, May, 1909, p193-198

Said the Vagrant: “The Fiddler has had some very beautiful experiences, which would interest all of you. The delicate nervous organisation of a fine artist is an instrument on which vibrations from higher planes can readily play, and in this case we have a very beautiful fiddle - it would sound more dignified to say violin, or even lyre, Apollo's lyre - in the organism of our dear Fiddler. But let her speak for herself.”

The Fiddler began reading:

“When I was a child I once dreamed that I was shot out into space, as it were, and found myself utterly alone in a terrible black void. I seemed to have a footing on something like the summit of a pillar, but I could see nothing anywhere, and the darkness pressed upon me like a terrible black pall. Straining every nerve to see, I peered in an upward direction into the void. It might have been up or down for all I could discern, for the blackness was everywhere the same. Presently a faint greyness appeared far above me, standing out clear in the surrounding blankness. As I fixed my gaze upon it, it seemed as if some clouds rolled back, revealing clearer mists within. Through their transparency, gliding backwards and forwards, were white radiant figures of unearthly beauty and light. As I yearned outwards to them, they too vanished like the grey mist, and a deep blue space broke the blackness of that awful void. There, leaning out, bending towards me, a divine Figure was revealed. That man seemed to embody living light and color, but I could not describe Him. Words are so helplessly inadequate. Fixing my eyes with a tenderness that seemed to dissolve the very roots of my being, He beckoned to me thrice silently. Then that wonder was veiled again behind the gliding shining ones, and they again enveloped in cloud, and all was darkness once more, only with peace instead of terror, Then I awoke. That was long before I came into Theosophy - in this incarnation.”

“Did you ever see that vision again?” asked a voice.

“Not quite like that. I do not know who he is, but some one, and some one great in holiness and power, seems to be near me at times in a way I cannot exactly describe. I call him ‘The Warner’. I have seen him under every possible condition: suspended in midair, emerging from walls and ceilings and floors, at night, in broad noon-day, in sickness, in health.”

“But why that curious name?”

“Oh! because he nearly always appears when I am in some kind of danger, and the sight of that face always brings me to my stronger self with a rush. Sometimes I see the whole figure, sometimes only head and shoulders, sometimes, even, just that part of the face about the eyes. What eyes! grey-blue, lightsome depths. His expression is as that of a young man ages old. Often I have seen him in mid-air in big halls and theatres in America and elsewhere, and then it was always easier to touch my audiences through the power he gave.”

The Scholar: “It must be a thought-form suggested by that vision.”

“Perhaps. I thought so too, for years. But lately I have had cause to think otherwise. Two years ago my brother left Balliol and came out to India. At that time ‘The Warner’ was my daily companion, if one may call such a strange elusive visitant by such a name. I began to see the face more clearly. Before I only used to see something resembling a dark outline against a flash of brilliant light. But now the coloring became fairly clear, and I was not a little surprised to see a fair skin - like that, say, of an Italian; hair with a touch of gold (or wholly golden, I cannot say which), and falling in long ringlets, when it was visible; a tall slender figure, exquisitely poised - the shoulders, slight but square and strong, and the long delicate hands especially struck me - garbed in a flowing greyish robe, seamless on the shoulders, with long loose sleeves and reaching nearly to the feet, underneath which there was the suggestion of a white linen garment. Sometimes the head was covered - more often than not - with a dull cloth that rolled back in a narrow coil low down over the brows, and hung loose on the shoulders, throwing into clearer relief the long sharp nose, delicate nostrils, the strong, tender, firm-held mouth, and the beard which scarce concealed the power of the chin beneath. I was puzzled. In my ignorance I had believed - never having visited India - that there were no Indians with fair skin, blue-grey eyes, and golden hair. In fact, I had for years daily and deliberately imaged my ‘Warner’ as dark-skinned, dark-eyed, and black-haired. So it seems as if the thought-form explanation would not fit the facts, for when I began to see more clearly, the image I had built so long and so ardently was absolutely contradicted, even to the queer roll on the turban. I wrote off to my brother, asking him to tell me if there were by any chance persons answering to that description in India. ‘Yes’, he answered, ‘Prince -----, who is staying with us just now, tells me that yours is an exact description of a Kashmîri Brâhmana.’”

“But the description does not fit the only Kashmîri Brâhmana among the Masters”, remarked the Vagrant. “It seems to me,” she went on, turning to the Shepherd, “that it is a good description of the Master S. His hair is of pure gold, and He has that extraordinarily clear-cut face, ascetic-looking. He was the One who came so often during the last days of the President-Founder.”

“Yes”, assented the Shepherd, “it might very well be He. And the turban seems more like the Arab head-dress than the Indian turban.”

“Like this?” said the Maratha, twisting a cloth round his forehead.

“Yes, just that”, answered the Fiddler. “I have never seen one like it in India. Well, the visits continued till I came out here. Now I see him sometimes, in the cocoa-nut grove at sunset, especially, but not as then. I have seen ‘The Warner’ in another way. I have an old faded picture of another, which came into my hands years ago. I am very fond of that picture, but it bears no likeness to the One I see, except, as it were, a general similarity of type. One can imagine almost anything with a photograph and half-shut eyes, so I used not to be surprised to see my ‘Warner’ looking out at me, sometimes, from this picture. But one night, some two years ago, I found that it might not be all imagination, as I had believed. I was writing something - a defence of a friend against people who had said most bitter things; trying to write impersonally, above the turmoil of dispute, and my own hot feelings would come between me and the piece of work to be done.

At last, after laboring for days and getting no further, I sat down in my room one night before retiring to sleep, and took out the old picture and gazed at it with an intense half-despairing wish to see things from the nobler viewpoint. Now, I was not trying to see my Warner in the picture. I was looking at it in full lamplight with wide-open eyes, and I was far too engrossed in painful, vivid thoughts, to indulge in dreams and fancies. Suddenly the picture changed; the rather full cheeks became hollow, the forehead assumed the magnificent upper development of the wellknown face, the beard thinned, the mouth, too, became cut in those exquisite fine lines, chiselled but tender - and the eyes began to lighten and flame, until my own, rivetted upon them, could bear their intensity no longer. They had become as miniature suns, and I could have gazed at the sun itself more easily than have kept my eyes upon them. I looked away, conscience-stricken. As usual, He had brought me to my better self - this time, by sternness. I sat thinking of the face - looking rather, at its impression on my mind. It was awful in power. The expression in those eyes was of oceans and worlds and living infinitudes of knowledge - ripe, immediate, and commanding. I turned again to the picture - the Warner had gone?”

“Very strange”, remarked the Enquirer.

“But practical. I wrote that article,” said the Fiddler.

“Have you seen other such figures?” asked the Lawyer with interest.

“Yes, there are others. Once at a sermon of the Rev. RJ Campbell, at the City Temple, there was a great rushing air-like movement in the body of the hall, and then I saw, faintly outlined, One standing behind him on the left side. It happened at the beginning of his sermon. He preached magnificently. Once when our President was lecturing in London she was very tired. I had never heard her in such bad form. She struggled on for some ten minutes or so, and then quite suddenly, with that kind of ‘swirl’ in the atmosphere that accompanies these things, a great white light appeared behind her, on the left side, a little uplifted from the ground, and in the centre a figure, the outlines of which were most lovely and imposing, but more than that I cannot describe, as the brilliancy of the light made the form appear like a dark outline against it. The speaker stopped short, half hesitated, and leaned slightly back, as if listening for something” -

“Very unusual for our Lady”, smiled the Shepherd.

“Yes, that is the interesting part of it. Then her voice completely changed; she took up the thread in a mood as certain, calm, and exalted, as the other had been tired, forced, and uninspiring, and - well, were you at that lecture?”


“Many said that it seemed as if Jesus Himself had spoken through her. The listeners were more than moved. They were carried right into the presence of the Master, and the whole wretched tangle of all that had happened since He was withdrawn from amongst us seemed like a forgotten nightmare. There were many weary, hardened men and women of the world who saw nothing, but who yet will never forget the power that spoke in their hearts that night. But - was He not there?”

“Very likely”, said the Shepherd, as the Vagrant remained silent. “I remember a lecture - one of those on Esoteric Christianity, in which the Master Jesus came, and stood behind the lecturer, enveloping her with His aura. There was a curious incident connected with that; the Archivarius1 was sitting near the lecturer, and she was conscious of the Presence but did not clearly see the Figure; however, she saw clearly, and described with perfect accuracy, the Greek pattern embroidered along the hem of His garment - a partial vision which seemed to me curious and unusual. Seeing that so clearly, why did she not see the rest?”

As, naturally, no one answered the question, the Fiddler resumed:

“There were several of these Shining Ones at another lecture in the large Queen's Hall. You can always tell when They come. The air is charged with force, and enthusiasm reigns. It is not what one sees in these visions that makes them so much more real than ordinary life. It is the peace and love and joy with which they suffuse the soul. They melt the ‘stone in the heart’.”

“Tell us what you feel on these occasions,” urged the Youth.

The Vagrant smiled at him: “It is not so easy to say, and it is not always the same. Sometimes, I am conscious only of an enveloping Presence, that of my own Master - blessed be He - which raises my normal consciousness to an abnormal level, so that although it is wholly ‘I’ who am speaking, it is a bigger ‘I’ than my small daily affair. At other times, thoughts seem to be poured into me by Him, and I consciously use them, knowing they are not mine. Sometimes, when the Master KH utilises me, I find myself full of beautiful imagery, metaphors, curiously musical and rhythmical phrasings, whereas the influence of my own Master induces weighty, terse, impressive speech. Occasionally, but very rarely, I step out and He steps in, for a few sentences, but then the voice changes, so that the change of speaker is perceptible; on those occasions, I stand outside and admire! I remember that on the occasion referred to of the Presence of the Master Jesus, I was not quite at ease at first, as His influence was new to me, and I had to grope a little at first to catch His indications. But there!” concluded the Vagrant, laughing, “audiences have very little idea what queer things are going on upon the platform sometimes right before their eyes.”

“As it has come to this, I may as well put in another strange thing of a similar nature I saw,” said the Magian. “It was when the same speaker was lecturing on the ‘Pedigree of Ma?’. Of course there was some great Presence, there is no doubt as to that; but the strangeness comes in here - the feeling was not so much that of peace and joy and uplifting that I have often felt, but an intellectual enlightenment that beggars description. The only theosophical book I had tackled was The Secret Doctrine and I enjoyed it often, but during the lectures it became so illuminating, things became so clear, so simple; but after a week it was different; then there were certain descriptions, like the formation of globe D - our earth - etc., etc., which were simply magnificent in their vividness. During such descriptions I noticed that the lecturer was gazing in a peculiar manner into empty space, but I felt sure she was observing something. I heard her say, some time ago, that during that course the Master presented before her astral pictures, looking at which she went on lecturing, and that without them the series would not have attained the great success it did.” Anon 1. One of the group who talked in the old Twilight.



In the Twilight (3)

first printed in The Theosophist, June, 1909, p359-366

“The following details of a somewhat strange phenomenon were related to me by an eyewitness,” said the Superintendent. “During the Brahmotsavam festival about thirty years ago a certain Sannyasî was staying near the Ekambareshvara Tank at Conjivaram. His manner of living and the wisdom of his speech attracted crowds of hearers, and even Brâhmanas of great learning were often to be seen among his audience. One day the conversation turned upon the subject of the lower classes in India, and the Yogî criticised in strong language the demeanor and general attitude of the Brâhmanas towards other castes. This caused great offence to the Brâhmanas present, and they spoke very insultingly to the Sannyasî. For some time he remained silent, and they, misunderstanding this, became more and more abusive and aggressive. At last the Yogî, feeling the situation impossible, determined to put an end to it. Seeing a child of about five standing near, he called him, gave him a banana and made friends with him. In a few minutes the little boy assumed an appearance of great brightness and intelligence, and began to speak in Sanskrit - a language which of course he had never learned. The Yogî turned to the Brâmanas, and said: ‘Gentlemen, you are dissatisfied with what I have said to you; instead of speaking further to me, put all your questions to this child. He will answer you fully, quoting appropriate texts from the scriptures whenever necessary.’ The incredulous pandits showered questions upon the boy, but as quickly as they could ask came replies that confounded them by the depth of thought and knowledge of the sacred books which they displayed. Finally the Brâhmanas prostrated themselves before the Sannyasî and begged him to pardon their rudeness, and departed to their homes sadder and wiser men.”

“Is such a thing as that really possible?” enquired the Fiddler.

“Oh yes,” replied the Shepherd, “there are several ways in which it might have been done. We are not told what the Yogî was doing while the child was speaking; if we knew that, it would help us to decide which method he employed. He may simply have hypnotised the boy, and so made him speak whatever he wished.”

“But no passes of any kind were used; I particularly enquired about that from my friend who told me the story,” objected the Superintendent.

“That would be quite unnecessary,” answered the Shepherd; “The Yogî gave a banana to the child, and that might easily have been the vehicle for any amount of influence. A little child, too, would have less will-power to resist than a grown man. But the Sannyasî may not have employed hypnotism at all; he may have used the boy as a medium or mouth-piece, and spoken through him himself. In that case he would be unable simultaneously to speak through his own body, and it must have appeared as though in deep meditation. I should think that that is most likely what he did. But if he were active and speaking in his own body at the same moment as the boy spoke, we should have to assume that some one else controlled the child-body. That also could quite easily be arranged; any dead pandit could do it, if the boy had been thrown by the Yogî into a passive and mediumistic state. I myself once saw a baby about twelve months old take up a pencil and write while its mother held it in her arms - write an intelligible sentence in a clear and legible hand. Of course that was a case of mediumship; the mother herself was a well-known medium. But it is a phenomenon of somewhat the same nature as that described by our friend.”

“Talking about hauntings” said Chitra, “I can tell you of a rather curious case where the people who haunted a house are still living, instead of long dead, as is usual.”

“Some years ago after an illness caused by overwork I spent a few weeks with some friends in order to regain strength. Their home was a large brick house built by an old retired admiral; its long passages all communicated with each other and were made as much like the alley-ways of a ship as was possible.”

“I occupied a bedroom the door of which was directly opposite that of the large dining-room, a passage running between. A door at the end of this passage and in the same wall as my bedroom window opened out on to a verandah, so when we all retired for the night I was practically alone at that corner of the house. My room was comfortable, its atmosphere peaceful, and I grew well and strong. The fact that I had no one near me did not disturb me at all, as I am not in the least nervous. I slept the deep sleep of the convalescent and knew naught of the night.”

“A year or so after this my hostess with her husband and children visited England partly for her health; and while away they let their home furnished to a young couple who appeared in every way desirable and were reputed wealthy. My friends returned in a year, the lady very much worse in health than when she left home. For months she hovered betwixt life and death and no one was allowed to see her. As soon as I might, I called to see her, and it happened that I took with me a friend. When we came out of the house this friend, who was somewhat sensitive, exclaimed at the dreadful psychic atmosphere she had felt there, and expressed the wish that I had not promised to go and spend some days there. I, thinking the oppression which I also had felt was due to the illness of the hostess, laughed at my friend's fears and in due course went to pay my visit.”

“It was early summer and still cold, so night after night we sat round the dining-room fire, ensconced in big cushioned armchairs. The first evening while we were sitting thus, I was considerably disturbed by a feeling that something was fighting at the further end of the room, behind me. I could see nothing, and the sound was scarcely physical; it was as though shadows were scuffling and fighting. I said nothing, and I did not care to attract attention by repeatedly looking round, so I read on till we retired for the night. I had scarcely closed my bedroom door when I knew I had company, shadowy company, silent and yet in a certain way noisy. There was a sound as though an unseen riding-whip of hard leather tapped against the door; it seemed as if it might be hanging from an invisible nail on the upper part. The venetian blinds rapped sharply upon the window-frames, though there was no breeze; and while doing my hair I was patted and lightly slapped more than once. I examined the door; there was no mark of a nail, and all was newly painted and varnished. I examined the blinds; there was nothing to cause a movement. I smiled to myself and, addressing my unseen companions, said ‘I wish you would be quiet and let me go to bed.’”

“Into bed I stepped, extinguishing my light and drawing up the bed-clothes. Flop! came something on my feet; ‘A cat,’ thought I. I struck a light and looked; no cat, no anything!”

“‘Humph!’ I said. I put out my light and lay down again; at once flop! came something on my feet once more. Again I struck a light and looked; nothing was there, but there seemed to be a depression as if a cat had lain there. I passed my hand over the place, but felt nothing, and indeed I knew there was neither cat nor dog in the house. I lay down to sleep again, but was several times pushed and touched before I succeeded.”

“In the dining room the next evening I again felt and heard the shadowy scuffle, and looking round saw two light, mist-like and semi-transparent forms at the further end of the table apparently fighting. I somehow knew they were a man and a woman, but how I knew I do not understand, for they were simply mist-wraiths. I said nothing to anyone, as I was afraid of disturbing my hostess, whose nerves were still greatly unstrung, and had I told my host he would assuredly have thought I was going out of my mind.”

“On retiring to my room the next evening the same phenomena occurred and I began to feel decidedly uneasy, as I could in no way account for them. Again the invisible whip tapped on the door, again I was patted and pushed, and again flop went something on the foot of my bed when I lay down. Once more I relighted candle, and felt over the place where I saw the depression, and as usual found nothing, so I slept a broken sleep, being frequently disturbed and touched.”

“On the third night while reading before the fire I again felt and heard the phantom fight and as I left the room after saying goodnight, I distinctly felt something walking beside me. It breathed a warm breath full of the odour of port-wine on my neck and cheek, and I felt sick. It entered the bedroom with me and disturbed the whole atmosphere; again things were moved and I was patted and pushed. I sat on the edge of the bed laughing uneasily and with decidedly quickened heart-beats, and was lifting my feet up towards the bed when over my bare left foot glided something that felt soft, plush-like and boneless. I laughed aloud, all fear gone, and said: ‘You little creatures, I wish you would be quiet and let me sleep!’ I saw nothing, but the touch was not unpleasant and I felt sure it was only a tricky little elemental. This time when the flop came on my feet I sat up without a light and felt the bed, but of course nothing was there, and that night I slept well.”

“Next afternoon I told my friend, and as soon as I asked ‘What is there in this dining-room that we cannot see?’ she said ‘Hush! don't let my younger daughter hear you; she will never come into this room or your bedroom alone if she can help it even in the daylight, and we are trying to laugh and talk her out of her fears.’”

“I then related the whole thing, and asked: ‘Who was in this house while you were away?’”

“‘Well, this is strange,’ was the answer; ‘we let the house to a very fine-looking young couple whom we thought were all that could be desired. They seem to have lived only in this room and your bedroom. They fought nightly, and moreover they left the ewer in the bedroom half-full of port-wine, which was still there when we returned. My daughter senses the fighting and I do not know what else, but we have discouraged her and tried to cure her of her ideas, so please say nothing about it to any of the others.’”

“I did not, and as I have never asked permission to tell the story I have suppressed all names. I am certain there was nothing of the kind there on my former visits, and I always had the same bedroom. As far as we know, the young couple who are the cause of all this are still alive and, I think, in England. They are still quite young.”

“But,” exclaimed the Painter excitedly, “how is it possible that people still living can haunt a place?”

“They don't,” replied the Shepherd placidly. “That is not a case of haunting in the ordinary sense of the word, though as far as the discomfort to sensitive visitors is concerned it comes to much the same thing. There are instances of real haunting by a living person, but that is not one of them.”

“Then what was it that happened?” said the Painter.

“Evidently the squabbling of that unfortunate young couple had produced a strong impression upon the astral matter there, and that impression was still clear enough to be perceptible to sensitive persons, though not quite able to influence ordinary people. You see that Chitra and the younger daughter of her hostess received a strong, yet not perfectly clear impression (for the forms were misty), while the visiting friend had only a general idea of an unpleasant psychic atmosphere, and apparently the hostess herself and her husband felt nothing.”

“When you speak of an astral impression I presume you mean something different from the ordinary record.” observed the Scholar.

“Yes,” answered the Shepherd, “the permanent record belongs to a much higher plane, and only occasional pictures from it are reflected into astral matter. This is quite a different phenomenon. Every emotion makes an impression on the surrounding astral matter. It is hardly worthy of the name of a thought-form; perhaps we might call it an emotion-form. In all ordinary cases that impression fades away after a few hours at most, but where there has been any specially violent outburst, such as intense hatred or overmastering terror, the impression may last for years.”

“Mr Stead expressed the idea very well in Real Ghost Stories, though he calls the impression a type of ghost. He says: ‘This a type of a numerous family of ghosts of whose existence the phonograph may give us some hint by way of analogy. You speak into the phonograph, and for ever after as long as the phonograph is set in action it will reproduce the tone of your voice. You may be dead and gone, but still the phonograph will reproduce your voice, while with it every tone will be audible to posterity. So may it be in relation to ghosts. A strong emotion may be able to impress itself upon surrounding objects in such a fashion that at certain times, or under certain favorable conditions, they reproduce the actual image and actions of the person whose ghost is said to haunt.’ He describes there exactly what happens.”

“I may instance a little experience illustrating this which I myself had years ago. I was walking down a lonely road in the suburbs of London - a road where only the curbstone was as yet laid. Suddenly I heard somebody begin running along this curbstone desperately, as if for his life. Somehow the sound of the footsteps conveyed to me a vivid sense of the mad haste and overwhelming terror of the runner, and I turned at once to see what was the matter. The footsteps came rushing straight up to me, passed under my very feet as I stood upon the same curbstone, and dashed away on the road behind me, yet nothing whatever was visible! There was no possibility of any mistake or deception, and the thing happened just as I describe, and left me much startled and perplexed. With the light of later theosophical knowledge I now understand that some one had been terribly frightened there, and that the impression of his fear still remained sufficiently strong to reproduce the noise which he had made as he ran. Here only the sound was reproduced, but sometimes the form is seen also.”

“The same thing happens with a less vehement emotion if it is frequently repeated, or if it lasts for a long time. I remember a house where a child had lived for years in a state of constant fear and repression; the astral conditions there were so bad as to react upon the physical body of a sensitive and cause violent sickness. An instance of the persistence of such an impression for many years is to be found in the prosaic locality of the Bayswater Road, close to the Marble Arch. Any sensitive person who will start from the Arch and walk westward on the south side of the road will soon be conscious of something excessively unpleasant, as he passes the place where for some centuries stood the horrible gallows called Tyburn Tree. Of course even the strongest of such impressions must fade in time, but under conditions favorable for it it may last, as you see, for many a decade.”

“Another point that we must not forget is that elemental essence of a gross type likes such coarse and vivid vibrations, so that in every place where there is such an impression as we are considering, a kind of astral vortex is caused for that particular type of matter only. The astral atmosphere becomes thick; it corresponds to a sand-storm or the worst sort of London fog. And because there is such a preponderance of the coarsest kind of matter, the low or gross emotions which utilise such matter are very easily aroused there; there is a special temptation towards them, as a Christian would say.”

“Yet another detail. There are classes of nature-spirits at a low stage of development which revel in the vibrations produced by coarse emotion, and rush from all sides to any point where they can enjoy it, just as London street-boys converge upon a fight or a cab-accident. If people who quarrel could see the unpleasant-looking creatures that dance in the stormy waves which their foolish passion is radiating, they would calm down instantly and fly from the spot in shame and disgust. Do not forget that such creatures do their best to exacerbate anger or hatred, to increase jealousy or terror, not in the least because of any evil will towards human beings, but because they delight in the violent and highly-colored vibrations which are caused. These entities throw themselves into such emotion-forms, ensoul them and try to perpetuate them to the utmost of their power, and it is largely due to their action that centres of this kind last as long as they do.”

“But are there never centres of good emotion? Must such things be always evil?” asked a plaintive voice.

“Certainly there are centres of good emotion; every temple, every church is a case in point. What else is the feeling of reverence that comes over even a Cook's tourist when he stands in one of the grand mediaeval cathedrals than the effect of the persistence of similar emotion felt by thousands through the centuries? And naturally a higher type of elemental essence and a higher class of nature-spirits avail themselves of this opportunity just as the other kind do of the less desirable centres.”

“I have come across such good centres in my roamings,” said the Magian. “One such, and a very typical one, is the Elephanta Caves. Very health-giving and exhilarating magnetism seems to be stored up on that spot, and a great rush of something pouring in which brings peace and joy is often experienced. This is especially marked at a particular spot where a great Lingam of Shivâ stands, and a quiet meditative mood is very helpful there in bringing a sort of an illumination one but rarely comes across. Of course a proper attitude of mind is necessary, and I do not think one who is sceptical about superphysical influences will derive much benefit through his picnic trip. It is an unique spot, and I have observed and heard some strange things there.”

“There are still many such spots in various parts of India,” remarked the Shepherd. “That is one of the many reasons which make it the pleasantest country in the world for the residence of sensitive persons.”



In the Twilight (4)

first published in the Theosophist, July, 1909, p504-508

“Last night I dreamed of Brahms,” said the Fiddler. “He is my beloved in music. I always longed to meet him, but he passed over before I went to Germany. Strangely enough, though, I have never once dreamed of him all these years, though I have played so much of his music. But lately I hear sweet sounds at all kinds of odd times, indoors and out of doors, when I am busy or when I am idle, and yesterday night I lay awake for an hour or more listening to them. It was a long drawn chord of A without the third: soft, still, piercing. I cannot describe the effect in physical sound. It was all pure tone. That is the nearest I can get to it. And there were no breaks. It went on solidly for over an hour. To make sure that it was not mosquitos, I tested it against wave and wind sounds. You remember how rough it was last night. There were no end of nuances - pianos, fortes, crescendos, diminuendos - in the nature sounds. But when the wind was loud, my music grew no softer, and when it was still, it grew no louder by comparison.”

“But what about Brahms?”

“I'm coming to him. The music must have put me in touch with him, I suppose. Anyhow I saw him vividly. I never saw him like that before. There he was, short, stout, and fiery - and furious with me because I had lately been playing the first movement of his fiddle concerto too slow. He was trying to show me how it should go, and to do it on a piano! Of course he failed horribly, and seemed quite upset over it. Why do astral folk try to make our clumsy music when they have their own far subtler methods, I wonder? I suppose he thought I would not be able to understand them. What music there will be when we do! I had the audacity to dispute the tempo with him, but he insisted emphatically - and he was right, of course.”

“Did you see astrally when playing in your concerts?”

“I saw our President once towards the close of a recital I was giving in Melbourne. Some way down the hall there was an empty patch, and there, right in the middle, so that there could be no mistaking her for somebody else, she sat in her white dress looking up at me. I was somewhat surprised, and looked away that I might not be distracted from what I was doing; when I looked again, she was gone. Another time, she stood beside my bed, and I awoke and saw her there. But I was too stupid to understand what she was telling me.”

“Yet again I saw her - taller than she is in the flesh, and radiant, sweep down into the room where I sat talking about her to a friend, give me one strong look, and off again in an electrical swirl! Oh! and many other times, in the body and out of it.”

“You dear imaginative artist-folk let your affections run away with your judgement sometimes, I fear,” said the Scholar.

“Well, but I only state the fact. Suppose it imagination, even. What is the difference between imagination and the ‘reality’ when the former is as real as - if anything more so than - the latter? Anyhow, I have a tale that imagination won't account for.”

“When I was a little girl I used to hear the grown-ups round me talking a good deal about Mrs Besant. They would go to lectures, and then discuss them afterwards, and as I never led a nursery life, I heard it all and longed to know this wonderful lady with white hair. That was the only fact I knew of her personally. - that she had white hair. One night I dreamed that I was in a crowded hall listening to a speaker. Well, I need not describe her to you! I saw her in the dream exactly as she is. Afterwards I found myself in a small room full of people behind the platform, and the white lady bent down and kissed me.”

“Next morning a friend came in who had a spare ticket for a lecture in Queen's Hall. Another was unable to use it. Thereupon I begged to be allowed to go. ‘Little girls must wait until they are older’, and so on. However, I got my way. When we arrived, the lecture had already commenced. At once I recognised the speaker as the lady I had seen the night before. When it was over, some friends took me behind to be introduced. There was the little room, there was the crowd, and there the white lady, who bent down and kissed me.”

“Is this chance? The last time I played in public, I had no notion it was to be the last, no notion that shortly after I should enter the theosophical movement. I chose a piece that ended abruptly - in fact, that had no proper ending, but broke off. I had never before done such a thing. I made my first public appearance with Mrs Besant. And at the end of my performance, I felt an unseen hand push my head down upon my instrument as if to sign ‘It is finished’. A few weeks after, it was.”

“Any more musical stories?”

“Yes. But this is a horrid sordid one, and I scarcely like to tell it ... Well, for the story's sake you shall have it, but do not ever speak of it to me again, for I do not like to think of it.”

“It was in December, 1904, when I re-appeared in London at the Queen's Hall Symphony Concerts, not having played there since my childhood. I was down for the Beethoven concerto. It was a great occasion for me! The Beethoven concerto is, as you know, the summit of a violinist's ambition, and I had worked at and pondered over it for some seven years or so. Add to that that it was practically a début at the most important concerts of the largest metropolis, and you can fancy ‘poor little me’ was unphilosophical enough to think it an important event.”

“The date of the concert was December 10th. On about the 3rd or 4th - I forget which now - I dreamed that my violin was broken and that I took it to a certain repairer in the United States, who had dome some excellent work for me when last I was out there. I was trying to give him the instrument, but a great black dog kept leaping upon me and stopping my way. The dream was so vivid that, next day being the American mail day, I wrote to my friend the repairer, beginning my letter to the effect that ‘I dreamed of you last night and I am impelled to write.’ About that time I visited Oxford and played the Beethoven concerto at the Public Classical Concerts there, and the tone of my violin was then in that brilliant condition which thrills a fiddler's heart. Well, to make a long story short, just before my London appearance, that tone suddenly went. There was no recalling it. I was in despair. I cannot give you the details of those two days - the 8th and 9th - without involving persons. I can only tell you that some one had deliberately injured my instrument. I know who did it - a fellow-artist. With whatever motive he did so - through hatred, jealousy or the mere competition for a living which drives so many to crime - I must have earned it in a past incarnation, by some such devilish act of my own. It was impossible to borrow an instrument, as my hands are too slender to manage any but a violin specially mounted to suit their size. It was impossible to draw back. Violins are exceedingly sensitive things, and the weather having changed to thick London fog, it was quite likely, I reasoned, that this was the cause of the poor tone (for I never thought of examining the instrument, which had but lately come out of the hands of a trusted repairer), and I could not make mere weather an excuse for disappointing the Managers. So I went through with it. Needless to say that the tone was, as one or two of the papers afterwards described it, ‘microscopic’. Mr Henry Wood, with his usual tact, held down the strength of the band to a mere feather-weight. But that appearance was a fiasco. I worked harder than ever before or after, and produced - well, not quite nothing, but very nearly! So that a party of Oxford people, who had come up to town specially for that concert, looked at each other in amazement: ‘What can have happened to her since last week?’

After the concert I collapsed, so great had been the strain, and did not touch my violin for two days. After that time, the sun was out again; it was my brother, still fuming over this incomprehensible business, who took the fiddle into the light and examined it.

‘Should the sound-post of a violin be upright or slanting?’ said he. (This is a small piece of wood which is held inside the instrument between its back and front, and to move which a hair's breadth makes a change in the resonance).

‘Upright, of course’ said I. ‘Well then, it is fifteen degrees off the perpendicular now - and, by Jove! there's a chip out of the edge of this ƒ hole,’ (an opening by which the sound-post is reached) ‘and - wait a bit - look here - ’ he peered inside the violin, ‘my dear girl, some one has pushed the sound-post out of its place with a pencil; there's the mark. Look at the graze on the wood inside where it has been dragged along!’”

“We took it to an expert, who had to use force to get it into position again, so tightly had it been rammed out of its place. No wonder that the vibrations had been stopped! His opinion was that the injury could only have come about through a bad fall or, as he guardedly put it, ‘in some other way.’ My violin was with me day and night. It had had no fall, of course. But I traced the cause of that injury, easily, to the one who did it. His scheme had succeeded. That appearance dealt a blow to my professional career which it took several years to recover.”

“Shortly afterwards, my American repairer-friend visited London, and called at my house. In the course of our talk he asked if I could remember what I had dreamed which had caused me to write to him. I told him. Then he told me that on the same date he had dreamed the same thing, so vividly that he repeated it to his son at breakfast, who asked him to note down the day.”

“While in London he worked at my violin and got it into order again, so that a few weeks later, when I gave orchestral concerts in the same hall, the papers wondered at the ‘strange and sudden improvement in this young violinist's tone!’”

“I was wondering, too - how there could be so much hatred in this beautiful world.”

“It was a pity that you were not impelled by the dream to examine your fiddle,” said the Vagrant, “especially when you noticed the lack of tone. You must either have seen the failure beforehand on the astral plane, or else some friendly visitant must have tried to impress you with the fact that your success was menaced by some enemy symbolised by the black dog.”

“There is a good case of a successful interference given in Invisible Helpers,” said Chitra, “by which two little children, left orphans in the care of a landlady in a strange town, were found by a relative who dreamed of their address.”

“When I was a child,” said the Fiddler, “certain sounds used to make me feel as if I were rising up into the air - half a yard, three feet, or more. It was a delicious sensation. I didn't think anything of it at the time. It happened so naturally that I fancied every one must have the same experience. I do not understand the relations between sound and gravitation, but certainly ‘to be uplifted by music’ is no mere metaphor.”



In the Twilight (5)

first published in the Theosophist, August, 1909, p608-616

“We have heard of many and varied experiences,” said the Scholar, “but it seems a long time since anything was said as to the work of the invisible helpers. I suppose it is going on just as usual?”

“Yes,” replied the Shepherd, “that band of workers takes no vacations; its activity is unceasing, but it does not always lend itself to picturesque description. Thinking over what has been done lately, I remember one story which may perhaps interest you, though it is certainly very unconventional; besides, strictly speaking it is not yet finished.”

“But its novelty will make it all the more interesting,” interjected the Youth; “and we can have the conclusion when it occurs.”

“Well, I will tell it to you,” said the Shepherd; “but I must first explain the heroine, for though she is one of my best workers I do not think that I have mentioned her to you before.”

“Her name is Ivy. She was during life a member of one of our Lotus Circles, and her work now is a fine example of the good which such circles may do. She was a bright and lively girl, musical, artistic and athletic - a clever elocutionist too; but above all a thoroughly good girl, kindly and affectionate, and willing to take any amount of trouble to help others; and a person who has that characteristic on the physical plane always makes a good helper on the astral. I feel sure that she would have led an exemplary and useful life on this plane if her karma had worked that way, but it is not conceivable that in that case she could have found the opportunity even during a long life to do anything at all approaching to the amount of good which she has even already done on the astral plane since her death eighteen months ago. I need not go into the details of that; it is enough to say that when she was scarcely eighteen she was drowned in a yachting accident. She came straight to Cyril, who is her special guru, as soon as she recovered her consciousness, and as soon as she had comforted her relations and friends she demanded to be trained for regular work. It was one of her most pleasing characteristics that although she had great originality and ingenuity she was yet very humble about her own qualifications, most willing to be taught exactly how to work, and eager to learn and understand.”

“She is especially fond of children, and her field of usefulness has lain specially with girls of her own age and younger. She has been keenly interested in making thought-forms for people, and has acquired exceptional powers along that line. She takes up cases of children who are frightened at night, and of others who have besetting thoughts of pride, jealousy or sensuality. In most of these she finds out the child's highest ideal or greatest hero or heroine, makes a strong thought-form of that ideal, and sets it to act as a guardian angel to the child. Then she makes it a regular business to go round at stated times revivifying all these thought-forms, so as to keep them always thoroughly up to their work. In this way she has been actually the salvation of many children. I know of one case in which she was able to check incipient insanity, and two others in which, but for her ministrations, early death would certainly have ensued, besides many others in which character has been improved beyond all recognition. Indeed, it is impossible to speak too highly of the good work which she has done in that way.”

“Another of her lines of activity will appeal to you if you have not forgotten your own childhood. Perhaps you know how many children live constantly in a sort of rosy day-dream - ‘telling themselves stories’ they sometimes call it. The little boy fancies himself the hero of all sorts of thrilling adventures - the central figure in scenes of glory, naval, military or athletic; the little girl fancies herself being adored by crowds of knights and courtiers, or thinks of herself as gorgeously attired and in positions of great wealth and influence, and so on. Now Ivy makes a speciality of taking these day-dreams and vivifying them, making them ten times more real to the delighted dreamers, but at the same time moulding and directing them. She gradually turns the dreams from selfishness to unselfishness, guides the children to image themselves as helpers and benefactors, and influences them to think not of what they can receive but of what good they can do, and so by degrees entirely changes their characters. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ and this is true of children also; so that one who understands the enormous power of thought will not be surprised to hear that quite incalculable good has been done in this way, by taking the young at the most impressible age.”

“Nor has she neglected more ordinary lines of work. For example, a young girl in whom I am deeply interested had recently to undergo a long and wearisome convalescence after a serious illness, and I asked Ivy to take her in charge. I believe my young friend had not a dreary hour during all those weeks, for Ivy kept up a steady stream of thoughts of the most delightful and absorbing nature - stories of all sorts, scenes from different parts of the world with explanatory comments, visions of various creatures, astral as well as physical, music of superhuman sweetness - more ingenious devices than I can remember, to help to pass the time pleasantly and instructively.”

“But all this general description of her work is only an introduction to the particular story which I am about to tell you - which, I think, you will understand all the better for having some acquaintance with the character of the principal actor in it. It is a case about which she is very eager - in fact, for the moment it is her principal interest, and she is very triumphant at having carried it to a successful issue so far.”

“I will tell the tale briefly, and will try to put it into chronological order. It came to me all upside down, beginning with an acute crisis which is really in the middle of the story; and the earlier part (which accounts for all the rest) I learnt only three days ago. It seems that long ago Ivy had a birth in Rome - also as a girl - and on that occasion she had a school-friend whom we will call Rosa. The two little girls were very devoted to one another, and grew up as almost inseparable companions. Rosa was strikingly handsome, and was scarcely more than fifteen when the inevitable young man came into the story. Through trusting him too far she had to run away from home, fearing to face disclosures. Ivy, though much shocked and pained, loyally stood by her friend, hid her for some time and helped her to get clear away. It seems, however, that Rosa was not to escape the consequences of her misplaced confidence, for she fell into bad hands and died early under rather miserable conditions.”

“Rosa and the young man who was involved seem to have had a birth together (without Ivy) somewhere in the Middle Ages, in which they did practically exactly the same thing over again - just repeated the previous drama.”

“In this present life Rosa was born rather later, I think, than Ivy, but in an entirely different part of the world. She was, unfortunately for herself, an illegitimate child, and her mother died soon after her birth. I do not know whether this was the karma of her own proceedings along similar lines in previous births, but it appears rather probable. The mother's story had been a sad one, and the aunt who brought up poor Rosa never forgave her for being, as she put it, the cause of the death of a dearly loved sister. In addition this aunt was a stern old puritan of the worst type, so you can imagine that Rosa had a miserable childhood.”

“Into it about a year ago came that very same young man - a wandering artist or angler or something this time - and they diligently played out their play along the same old lines. The man seemed a nice enough young fellow, though weak - by no means the sort of designing ruffian that one might expect. I think this time he would have married her, though he could not in the least afford it; but, however that may have been, he had not the opportunity, for he got himself killed in an accident, and left her in the usual condition. She did not know what to do; of course she could not face such an aunt with such a story, and eventually she made up her mind to drown herself. She wandered out one day for that purpose, having left a letter for her aunt announcing her intention; and she sat down on the bank of the river, moodily looking at the water.”

“Up to this point, you will understand, Ivy had known nothing whatever of all that I have told you, but at this crisis she arrived on the scene (astrally of course) apparently by the merest chance; but I do not believe that there is any such thing as chance in these matters. Of course she did not recognise Rosa as a friend of two thousand years ago, but she saw her terrible despair and felt strongly attracted towards her and full of pity for her. Now it happens that a few weeks ago in connexion with quite another business I had shown Ivy how to mesmerise, and explained to her under what circumstances the power could legitimately be employed. So she put the instructions into practice here, and made Rosa fall asleep upon the bank of the river.”

“As soon as she got her out of her body she presented herself to her as a friend, showed the deepest affection and sympathy for her, and at last succeeded in arguing her out of her intention of suicide. Neither of them knew exactly what to do next, so Ivy, taking Rosa with her, rushed off to find Cyril. But as it was broad daylight he was quite on the physical plane and busily engaged, and so not available at the moment for astral communications. This being so, Ivy brought her capture over here to me, and hurriedly related the circumstances. I suggested that for the present at least Rosa must go home again, but nothing would induce her to do that, so great was her horror of her aunt's cold cruelty. The only other alternative was the very risky one of going out vaguely into the world - since I made her renew her vow not to go out of it by suicide. Since we would not permit that, she seemed willing to face the difficulties of beginning a new life, saying that it could not possibly be so miserable as the old one, even though it led her to starvation. Ivy approved and enthusiastically promised to help her, though it did not seem quite clear to me at the moment what she could do.”

“It was eventually decided thus, because there seemed no alternative, so Rosa was sent back into her body on the riverbank, and fortunately when she woke she remembered enough of what she called her dream to recoil with horror from the water, and start off to walk to a neighboring town. Of course she had scarcely any money - people never have on these occasions - but she was able to get a cheap lodging for that night and a little food, and during her sleep Ivy cheered, encouraged and comforted her in the intervals of prosecuting a vigorous and determined search for somebody who could be influenced to help on the physical plane. By this time Cyril was asleep and she had secured his co-operation; and fortunately between them they were successful in discovering a delightfully benevolent old lady who lived alone with one servant in a pretty little villa in a village some miles away, and by unremitting effort they made the two people (Rosa and the old lady) dream of one another, so that there should be a strong mutual interest and attraction between them when they met on the physical plane.”

“Next morning Ivy directed Rosa's steps towards the village where the old lady lived, and though it was a long and weary walk for her it was at last achieved. But towards the end of it extreme physical fatigue laid her open to depressing influences, and she began to be virtually conscious that she had now only a few pence left, that she did not know in the least where to go or what to do, and that, after all, the hope and cheer that had buoyed her up during the long day was based only upon what seemed to her a dream. At last in sheer exhaustion she sat down upon a bank by the road-side looking the picture of misery, and it was there that the old lady found her, and at once knew her as the girl whom she had loved so deeply in her dream. Their mutual recognition was very strange, and they were both profoundly surprised and moved, yet in a certain way very happy about it. The old lady led the girl forthwith to her pretty little home, and soon drew from her the whole story of her trouble, which aroused in her the keenest sympathy. She at once offered shelter and help at least until after the birth of the expected child, and it is by no means improbable that she may decide to adopt Rosa. At least, Ivy is working in that direction, and has strong hopes of success; and when she makes up her mind about anything she generally carries it through.”

“That is how the matter stands at the moment. Up to this time nothing whatever has been heard of the cruel aunt, and it would seem that she has made no enquiry whatever after Rosa. She must suppose that the suicide has taken place, but perhaps she is glad to be rid of what she regarded as a burden.”

“A delightful story,” said the Countess enthusiastically. “What a clever, capable girl Ivy must be?”

“She is,” assented the Shepherd, “and she is developing every day.”

“One thing strikes me as new and curious,” remarked the Scholar, “and that is the persistent way in which Rosa and her young man repeat the same action in three successive lives. Are any other instances known in which anything like that has happened?”

“I do not remember an exactly parallel case, but there are many which evidently belong to the same category,” answered the Shepherd. “You recollect how often in the lines of lives which we have examined we find that those who have close kârmic relations with one another return together to work them out, and how each retains his characteristics, and sometimes even quite the details of their manifestation.”

“In the first series of incarnations which were examined we found that the artistic tendency of the Ego showed itself in almost every life in some form or another; and we had another case in which a prominent member was a sea-captain in three successive lives, and twice out of those three times he took up the study of philosophy when he retired from the active work of that profession. Perhaps the nearest approach to Rosa's case is that of two people whom I know who were so strongly attracted to one another that they were born together twelve times out of thirteen successive lives, and though they are not physically in the same country in this present birth, which is the fourteenth, they are constantly meeting astrally. In six of these twelve cases the two were husband and wife, and on yet another occasion one of them was the rejected lover of the other. Of course the constantly change sexes, and so reverse their relationship, and in some of the intermediate lives they are father and daughter, or uncle and niece, or sometimes merely friends, but always together in some way or other.”

“In Rosa's case the two people principally involved are by no means bad in reality, unconventional as their actions have been. Rosa herself has been too innocent and confiding, but so far as I can see nothing worse than that can be laid to her charge, for she was on every occasion actually ignorant of the impending danger. The young man was selfish and self-indulgent; he followed the bent of his passion without thought these three times, but I am inclined to think from what I have seen that this third lesson has been sufficient, and that he will not do it again. Twice he acted altogether without considering the girl at all; this last time there was this much of improvement, that he did consider her when it was too late, and meant to marry her. But what he did not consider was their future life, for he had no means to support her. Twice he had not even thought of marriage; this time when he did think of it, he was not permitted to carry out his design. Perhaps next time, if they try the same experiment, he may be allowed to marry, and then he will find that true happiness is not based upon passion, but that a real spiritual affection is also needed. But perhaps by that time Rosa will have learnt many things, and she may be his salvation also, for she loved him truly enough as far as she knew how. At any rate, it is a curious glimpse of a little fragment of evolution, and may perhaps serve to help us to understand that much more of its working.”

“That reminds me,” said the Prince, “that I had the other night a very vivid recollection of being engaged in work much of the type of that done by the invisible helpers.”

“Please tell us the story,” cried several voices.

“It emerged from some other impressions of which I cannot make much sense,” explained the Prince. “I found myself watching a party of people who were making preparations to go to some kind of entertainment. The party was very mixed, for it comprised several members of the Theosophical Society and many others, including a grand-uncle of mine who has been dead six years. I watched them with interest, but took no part myself in any of their preparations. Then a short time elapsed of which I have no very distinct memory, and I found myself floating about the town in which the entertainment was to be held. It seemed to be late evening, and men were sitting about at cafés in the usual way. Suddenly I saw long slender curls of black smoke issuing from a two-storey building, and when I turned my attention to it I seemed to see through the walls that there was a fire raging within, which was endangering an upper storey where a large number of soldiers lay in deep sleep.”

“My first impulse was to try myself to extinguish the fire, but I did not know how to set about it; then I thought of giving the fire-alarm, but I was somehow impressed that this country had no such modern improvements as that. I then thought of finding the commanding officer and telling him about it, and I was somehow directed to a park where a military band was playing for the benefit of a gay holiday crowd of officers and civilians, some of whom were in a restaurant, some on the terraces, and some walking about engaged in conversation. I found the officer (I think he was a colonel) in the company of several ladies, a few younger officers and some civilians. I tried hard to impress my thought on him, but in spite of all my efforts he would not move from the side of a certain lady in whom he was interested - the wife of one of the civilians, a prominent man in appearance. Another younger officer was indicated to me as he was entering the restaurant, and he responded almost immediately to my call, excusing himself to his surprised companions and starting off in haste.”

“Though I was not visible to him I had no difficulty in guiding him to within a few yards of the house, when he stopped and reproached himself for a fool for coming out here near midnight without any obvious reason. I could not induce him to go another step, and in despair I made a very strong effort, which caused a sort of sensation of being pushed. Suddenly I saw myself, and he also saw me, and was evidently much astonished. I ran to the house and with my full weight burst open a door, through which poured a sea of fire. The officer quickly led me to another door which gave access to the room of the sleeping soldiers. He seemed to be in some confusion, and I caught his thought of helplessness, and so instantly determined to act myself, I saw a bugler approaching, and I at once ordered him to play the alarm. This quickly aroused all the soldiers, who sprang up, threw on their clothes and snatched their rifles, which I particularly noticed were short ones with bayonets turned downwards. The officer soon regained his equilibrium, and led the soldiers in full order out of the burning building, Just as the last man filed out the flames burst through the floor in several places, and the officer pointed them out to me as he hurried me out of danger. I woke with severe pain in my back and the back part of my head, which lasted nearly two days.”

“A most interesting experience,” commented the Shepherd. “Were you at all able to recognize either the place or the uniforms of the soldiers?”

“I am not quite sure,” said the Prince, “though there were certain general indications. The uniforms were dark, with yellow shoulder-straps. But I can tell you more about it when I have made some enquiries, and if I am able to discover anything I will gladly communicate it to you.”



In the Twilight (6)

first published in the Theosophist, Sept, 1909, p750-756

“Here is a letter from our Vagrant,” said the Shepherd, “with one of the best authenticated records of a warning from the other side and the accident which followed. She says: ‘You know about Julia's Bureau, established by Mr Stead under the direction of his other-world friend, Miss Julia Ames. On Whit-Monday evening a lady connected with it, staying in the country with her mother, received a message from a gentleman whom we will call Lionel, warning a lady well-known in society, whose name is in my possession, of an impending motor-car accident, and asking her to put off her intended journey. The lady sent on the message to Mr Stead, who received it on Tuesday morning. He at once dictated a letter to the person concerned, giving the message, and the letter was posted to Dunmore, and arrived on the same day, about 6 pm. Three people knew of the letter - Mr Stead, the stenographer and Mr King, a Bureau official; the letter-book also shows its posting. The letter duly arrived, but the lady concerned had left. In consequence of a strong presentiment she cut short her journey, but returning through London on the following day a motor-bus skidded and crashed into her car, slightly injuring the occupants. On her arrival at Dunmore Mr Stead's letter was handed to her, too late to be useful, but offering an unassailable testimony to the accuracy of the Bureau information. Lionel states that he succeeded in slightly turning the omnibus, thus preventing a fatal accident, but was unable to stop it altogether. It is interesting to compare the efficient and direct communications obtained in the Bureau, where proper conditions are afforded, with the clumsy and laborious cross-correspondences loved by the out of date SPR. That society promised well, but it seems as though what Calvinists called “judicial blindness” had fallen on it since its wicked treatment of our HPB’. A good story,” concluded the Shepherd.

“We were speaking last time,” said the Scholar, “of the reappearance in one life of characteristics that had been prominent in a previous one. It seems to me that a very good instance of this is to be found in the later incarnations of our late President-Founder. Remember how he repeated in this life in his Presidential proclamations and in parts of Old Diary Leaves the very style of his rock-cut inscriptions when he was King Asoka; and even those were equally repetitious of certain edicts which he issued as Gustasp in favor of the Zoroastrian religion. His first book in this life was upon the value of the plant sorghum, which he was instrumental in introducing to the notice of the authorities in the United States; but he had done the very same thing with the very same plants thousands of years before, when he was employed by the Government of Peru.”

“Yes”, assented the Shepherd, “I think the Colonel may fairly be quoted as an example of the permanence of certain characteristics. You may recollect, too, how in another of our series of lives the artistic tendency of the man showed itself again and again, varying its expression according to surrounding conditions, but always there in some form. But, turning to the business of the evening, has any one a story to contribute?”

“I have something that I think will be new to you,” said the Inspector. “My daughter was once attacked by a disease known in Samskrt as Dhanurvâyu (a disease which makes the body bend like a drawn bow). This disease is commonly pronounced incurable; in this case it first manifested itself, oddly enough, in a slight swelling on the big toe. She felt, at times, quite excruciating pain, and skilful treatment by expert European as well as Indian doctors was of no avail. In compliance with the wishes of my mother, I took her to a temple dedicated to Hanûmân at Kasâpûr, near Guntakal, to whi persons suffering from fell diseases resort in the pious belief that they will be cured by the favor of the presiding Deity. For three days her mother worshipped the Deity in various ways on her behalf, as she could not do it herself, being physically weak. On the night of the fourth day, she dreamt that some one came and stood beside her and told her that she would be cured, if a certain leaf called uttareni was crushed and mixed with turmeric powder and applied to the part where the disease originated. On the same night a servant of the temple dreamt a dream quite identical with the patient's, in which he was told to go and fetch the leaf himself. Accordingly, he got up and went into the fields in the neighborhood, plucked some leaves and brought them home and, after crushing them, asked my wife for the turmeric powder, relating his dream parenthetically. My wife was surprised at the remarkable identity of the dreams and applied the leaf herself to the patient's foot. The application took effect almost instantly and in less than ten minutes the patient felt indescribable relief and recovered perfectly soon afterwards.”

“I suppose it must have been a case of some sort of convulsions, probably produced by the bite of some poisonous creature. Anyhow, the facts are interesting,” said the Shepherd, “and they remind me of the giving of prescriptions at spiritualistic séances. Sir John Forbes, for example, was one who frequently gave them in that way. But is a cure always effected at these Temples?”

“Not invariably,” replied the Inspector; “but sooner or later a dream always comes to the patient, either telling him how his disease can be cured or informing him that it is incurable and that it is useless for him to stay any longer. Vidurâswatham and Nanjangod are two other places in this Presidency where similar cures are said to be effected. I myself suffered for several years with a pain that recurred at intervals of from one to six months. I went with my wife to the Kasâpûr Temple, where after three days she dreamed of a prescription which proved effective, curing me entirely, although the doctors had failed. Then, again, a relative of mine, who was a white leper, went for two years to a Temple at Vidurâshwatha, and was completely cured, no trace of the disease remaining, nor has it since returned.”

“I was never exactly cured by a prescription given in a dream,” said Chitra, “but I have received very curious warnings in that way. When quite a young girl I heard one day of the serious illness of a girl-friend, and that night I dreamed that I was standing on a path looking towards slightly rising ground. I then noticed that there were three mounds or very small hillocks on this rise, and that the grass covering the whole place was unusually long and juicy in appearance, and of a very vivid green. Suddenly on the farthest side of the first hillock to my right I saw my sick friend, looking very pale. She appeared to be climbing the hillock on the side hidden from me. When she reached the top she stood for a second looking towards the third, then walked steadily, seriously forward, stooping to gather great handfuls of the luscious, green grass as she walked. She climbed the second hillock, and by that time had quite a large sheaf of grass - an armful. She descended the further side, and then I noticed that between the second and third hillocks there was a small round pool of intensely black water. Reaching the edge of this pool she looked at it as if measuring the width, then stepped over it, climbed to the top of the third hillock and disappeared suddenly, as if she had dissolved. My friend died soon after.”

“Ten or twelve years afterwards during my school-holidays - greatly lengthened that year, because of an outbreak of typhoid fever in the school - I was lying awake one night wondering how many of the children would die. Some, we knew, must; and thinking how thankful the Manager of the Institution and his wife would be that their son, lately a school-master there, had been transferred before the fever broke out, I also found myself wondering where he would spend his holidays, as he was rather weak from overstudy and I felt sure his parents would not allow him to come home. Thus thinking, I fell sound asleep, but was awakened by hearing his voice distinctly call my name three times. I sat up startled, and listened, but not a sound was to be heard. I woke my sister and told her, but she was too sleepy to listen and said it must have been a dream. I at once went to sleep again, but was roused again by the same call, this time louder, so I rose, went down stairs and opened the door. No one was about, so, feeling very uneasy, I returned to bed, only to be once more roused by the same call. Then I again awoke my sister and said ‘I am sure so-and-so is ill, but why is he calling me?’ ‘Well, you can find out in the morning, but not now,’ replied my sister. In spite of my anxiety, I slept directly my head touched the pillow, and I found myself looking at those same three green mounds which I had seen years before, so I was not surprised to see my teacher-friend climbing the first one just as my girl-friend had done. He went through exactly the same movements, walked steadily along, gathered grass till he had a great sheaf, crossed the black pool, climbed the third hillock, and disappeared. I awoke feeling sure he was dying or dead, and wondering if his people knew. Directly after breakfast I saw his brother entering a chemist's shop, so turned and asked him if John were ill.

‘What made you think of that?’ he asked.

‘Oh, I dreamed of him’.

‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I am afraid he is dying. He would come home for his holidays. He took the fever, but recovered; but he caught a chill and now has a relapse and we have very little hope; come and see him this afternoon if you wish.’”

“I went and, while sitting in the room next his with his mother, was greatly startled by three loud raps made upon the wall near the ceiling, as if by a very heavy stick.”

‘Won't that startle him dreadfully?’ I said.

“His mother, looking at me strangely, said ‘Come and see.’ We entered the sick room on tip-toe, and there, lying quite unconscious on a low bed against the opposite wall from that on which the knocks sounded was the invalid. His mother and I looked at each other and tip-toed out again.

‘That has been happening at intervals ever since the relapse,’ she said, ‘that is why we have taken everything off that wall. Did you notice it was bare?’ Suddenly I heard the servants noisily rolling up the oilcloth from the front door, down the passage to the door of the sick room, and said:”

‘Why do you let them do that? won't it startle him?’

“Again she gave me that strange look, and said ‘Come and see’. Then I remembered that I had noticed before that the floor was bare; the oilcloth had been taken up a week before.

‘That noise too,’ she said, ‘comes every day, and sometimes several times a day. None of my girls will come to work in this passage, they are so afraid.’ I asked his mother if he had called me and she told me that at three o'clock that morning he had repeated my name in a whisper three times. The noises may have been caused by entities who followed his father home from spiritualistic séances which he attended.”

“Still later on, I dreamed that I saw the baby of a visitor to the school at the same three mounds and doing as the other two had done; this baby also died, but not of typhoid.”

“A few years ago, when very weak and ill myself, I dreamed I once more faced the three mounds and the black pool and said to myself as I looked ‘I wonder who is going to die now!’ No one came. so I myself climbed the first and second mound and gathered an armful of grass, but when I came to the pool I stopped and looked at it, not feeling any impulse to go on; then I awoke. I cannot understand why, even after relating this dream to others and catching the look which passed between them, I did not apply it to myself, but the fact remains that I did not; and when a few months later I had to undergo a very serious surgical operation because of a hurt I had accidently received, and was warned by my doctor that I had but one chance of recovery out of ten, my dream never crossed my mind. Not until months afterwards when a friend reminded me, saying ‘I knew you would not die because you did not cross the pool,’ did I think of it.”

“One night,” said the Doctor's daughter, “in a dream, a threatening skeleton appeared to me, saying he was ‘Death,’ but I told him he should take no one from our house, and broke him up. Two days later the coachman's mother died. Another time I dreamt I leaned too far over a pool and fell into it and was drowned; and the next day a housemaid in the next compound fell into the well in the same manner and was drowned.”

“I had a curious dream,” put in the Fakir, “when I first came into touch with Theosophy. I was very deeply interested in a French movement of a semi-occult nature when one night I dreamt that I was seated in a carriage bearing its name. I waited a long time, but the carriage did not move, no horse having been harnessed to it. I was becoming very impatient, so, another carriage came swiftly past, I jumped into it - and found that it bore the name ‘Theosophical Society’. The first Society still exists, but apparently has not yet found a horse.”

“I knew a lady-member who had a similar experience, but she was awake, not dreaming,” said the Scholar. “She was in the office of a semi-magical Hermetic Society, actually waiting to fill up her form of application, when she distinctly saw a face and heard a voice say: ‘This is not your place.’ She excused herself from joining, and shortly afterwards came across an advertisement of a theosophical lecture, which she attended. Afterwards, seeing the portrait of HPB, she recognised in it the face she had seen at the time of the warning voice.”

“Another incident of the nature of a death-warning was related by my mother. She awoke one night to find the astral counterpart of my father leaning half out of bed with an expression of horror upon its features. They had news the next day of his brother's death, which took place at the very time when my father was leaning out of bed. There seems to me to be some sort of communication in this - telepathic we might call it, in the widest sense of the term.”

“One hears so much about the telepathy of sight and hearing,” remarked the Fakir, “that the other senses seem to be left out in the cold, which isn't fair to them. A curious incident happened to a dear old lady-friend of mine in whose hospitable home I have spent many a holiday. No dreamer of dreams was she, but a stout American matron, a sorely tried mother, a model of housewifely perfection. She usually spent the season in Paris, but had a seaside villa in Brittany, which was, at the time of my story, in the charge of a single housemaid named Irma. One afternoon my friend startled the household by suddenly bustling all over her Paris flat with a handkerchief to her nose and a much-aggrieved expression, poking under sofas and behind cupboards, and taking everybody to task. ‘Had they no noses?’ They sniffed their best, but all protested they could smell nothing. There certainly could be no dead rats about. They had not seen as much as a live mouse. That awful smell haunted my friend for half an hour or so, and then subsided. A couple of hours later a telegram came, from a friend in Brittany ‘Irma found dead in room - letter follows.’ The letter came next day, and made everything clear: the servant not seen for several days; the house found locked from inside; the breaking, first into the hall, then into the servant's bedroom upstairs; the rush of putrid air making the whole party recoil a moment; and finally the finding of the neglected corpse - all at the very time when my old friend, three hundred miles away in Paris, was haunted by that fearful smell.”

“Well,” remarked the Scholar, “it seems to have been a case of telaesthesia, but it certainly was not telaesthetic.”



In the Twilight (7)

first published in the Theosophist, Oct, 1909, p121-126

“Nearly twenty years ago,” began the Doctor, “while on a visit to the distant home of my childhood, I had a peculiar experience. Having a desire to view once more a small valley that lay beyond the hills in a neighboring township, I started, one fine morning, to make the journey. Taking my horse and carriage as far as was practicable, I left them at a farm-house on the hills and proceeded on foot in the direction which I had often travelled long years before, expecting to strike into a bridle-path with which I used to be familiar. I had not gone far, however, before I found that time had made great changes in the face of nature, and that the upland (where I expected to find the bridle-path) had become thickly covered with a growth of evergreen trees - spruce, hemlock and balsam fir - the low-hanging branches of which nearly covered the ground. After spending some time in a fruitless effort to follow a definite course, it gradually dawned upon me that I did not know in which direction the right course lay - in fact I was lost.”

“As I was still wandering on, there suddenly appeared before me a very large brown dog who rushed up to me with great friendliness of manner and, rearing up, placed his paws on my shoulders and looked me in the face, but with such expressive eyes as I never saw in any dog before or since. They seemed to radiate a depth of affection and a breadth of intelligence such as I had never thought possible in any of the lower animals.”

“He soon assumed the position most natural to all quadrupeds and trotted off a few yards and then looked back, wagging his tail, as much as to say, ‘Come on’, so I followed him without the least hesitation. He led me some distance through the thick growth of young trees, and I kept quite near to him, when suddenly he vanished from my sight, just as I was nearing an opening where I soon saw the summits of the Green Mountains, and was able to take the proper course. But the dog was gone, and though I made every conceivable effort to find him, it was without avail. On my return in the evening I took a different, though a longer course, and on reaching the farm-house sought to obtain some tidings of my friend and guide the dog, but evidently such a dog was not known in that locality.”

“I have often pondered over the question of the sudden appearance and disappearance of the four-footed friend who did me so kind a service. Where did he come from, and where did he go so suddenly, thus frustrating my hopes of future companionship with him? The pressure of his paws was plainly felt on my shoulders, which shows that he was not a mere apparition; but what puzzled me most was the fact that I did not see or hear his approach or departure. He seemed suddenly to flash into visibility, only a few feet in front of me, and to vanish as suddenly, when near by, after accomplishing his mission.”

“There are several possible explanations available,” said the Shepherd. “If neither the appearance nor the vanishing occurred actually under the observation of the spectator, the dog may have been an ordinary physical animal, belonging to some passing visitor. It seems probable that some friendly dead person noticed the narrator's predicament, and offered assistance; then the question arises, how could that assistance most easily be given? If a suitably impressible animal happened to be within reach, to use him would most likely need the smallest expenditure of force. If not, no doubt a nature-spirit could assume that form, but that involves the additional labor of materialisation, and materialisation maintained for a considerable time. Another possibility is the use of hypnotic influence; if that were employed neither dog nor nature-spirit is needed - a strong impression upon the mind is enough.”

“I remember an occurrence somewhat similar, but less dramatic,” remarked the Painter. “A girl-friend of mine lived in a country suburb about a mile from the station. It was a lonely walk which she always avoided taking alone after dark. One evening, however, she was obliged to return home late, without any companion. She was a timid girl and she was very nervous, but she had scarcely left the station when a dog came up to her in a friendly manner. She patted him, and he turned and trotted along beside her till she reached her own gate, and then turned off in another direction. She told me that she felt quite secure in his company, and felt as if he had been sent to her.”

“No doubt he had,” commented the Shepherd.

“These cases seem not uncommon,” said the Prince, “though the details differ in each. A lady who resided in the suburbs of Philadelphia was detained one night in town and had to return home much later than was her custom. She was obliged to carry an unusual amount of money, which she thought must have been known to a depraved-looking man who followed her into the street car, and descended from it at the same time that she left it to walk through a lonely street to her home. She watched his movements with anxiety as he followed her at a distance, and (as she had feared) approached her menacingly just at the loneliest spot. As he was about to touch her a large S. Bernard dog suddenly appeared and growled fiercely at the ruffian, who turned and fled instantly. The lady recognised the dog as her own, and welcomed him with effusion, and he walked at her side all the way to her own door, where he suddenly disappeared even as she was looking at him and fondling him. Then for the first time (having been too upset and terrified before to think of it) she realised with an awful shock that the dog had died two years before! This recollection seems to have frightened her even more than the man had.”

“Yet it surely should not have done so,” remarked the Shepherd, “for nothing could be more natural than that the dog should still remain after death near the mistress whom he had loved, and should defend her when the need arose. How he was able to materialise himself so opportunely we cannot know; it may have been only the strength of his own love for the lady and his hatred of the aggressor, but perhaps it is more likely that some invisible helper or some protecting dead friend chose that way of interfering for the lady's defence. An animal is much easier to influence than the average human being.”

“I know a very remarkable animal story which I should much like to have explained,” said the Platonist.

“I remember, ten years ago, a college friend of mine told me a story of an uncle of his, a great Shikâri, who had spent many years in India - a healthy, matter-of-fact kind of person, who had neither any leaning towards the occult, nor any skill in the invention of fictions. It was his uncle's great anecdote, by that time thoroughly polished by many years of after-dinner service.”

“One day the uncle, whom we will call Colonel X., was out in the jungle after a panther. After a good deal of beating about, the beast was tracked to a dark cave in the side of a hill. Colonel X. approached the mouth of the cave with great caution and looked in, ready to shoot, of course, if anything happened. As he peered into the darkness, the light of two flashing green eyes shone out from the further end of the cavern and the Colonel was, all of a sudden, petrified to hear a human voice, thrilling with misery and anguish, call out to him: ‘For God's sake shoot me, and release me from this hell!’ What the Colonel replied I forget; but, at any rate, the voice - which came from the beast at the end of the cave - went on to inform him that it was the soul of an English lady which somehow or other had become imprisoned in the body of the brute, that she was suffering unimaginable torments and that, if he would effect her release, she would be eternally grateful and ever afterwards watch over him in times of peril. She told him that, whenever danger might happen to threaten him, she would appear to him in the form of a spotted deer; and that he must remember this and always be ready to take warning.”

“The Colonel, said my friend, raised his gun, as in a kind of dream, and fired.”

“Years passed by, and he had almost begun to look upon the whole incident as a strange hallucination. People naturally laughed at him when he told the story, and sometimes he felt a little inclined to laugh at himself.”

“One day, however - again when out in the jungle, shooting - he was just about to turn down a little side-track through dense undergrowth, when suddenly a spotted deer passed a few yards in front of him, looking at him in a meaning way - and disappeared. This brought the previous adventure back with a rush of recollection to his mind. He felt there must be danger. So he proceeded to reconnoitre with the assistance of the beaters, and soon discovered, in the grass of the jungle-path down which he had been preparing to go, and only a few yards in front of where he stood, a huge cobra coiled up and almost concealed. Had he gone on, he would certainly have trodden upon it.”

“Again, some years later, but this time in England, he happened to be walking along the outskirts of a large field, bounded by a thick quick-set hedge. Being anxious to get through into the next field, he was looking for a gap in the hedge. At length he found one - a largish hole, with a section of hollow tree-trunk bridging the ditch which divided the two fields. He was just stooping down to crawl across when, in front of him, in the next field, he saw a spotted deer! Once more he remembered his former experience; and, knowing that deer of this kind were not to be found in England, he drew back quickly and proceeded along the side of the hedge until he came to a gate some way further down. Going through the gate he returned to examine the gap from the other side. On doing so, he discovered in the hollow trunk a large hornets' nest!”

“On one or two other occasions the spotted deer appeared to him, always to warn him at the moment of danger. I was told these by my friend, but I have forgotten them in the ten years which have passed since I heard the story. At the time of telling it, Colonel X. was still living and was ready to swear to the facts which I have related.”

“A most remarkable story,” commented the Shepherd. “It is of course possible that the years of polishing of which you spoke have added somewhat to its marvels; but if we are to accept even the broad outlines as true, it needs a good deal of accounting for.”

“But is it in the least possible that a woman could be imprisoned in the body of a panther?” asked the Painter.

“Possible perhaps, but not in the ordinary course of events very probable,” replied the Shepherd. “Long practice in matters occult has taught me to be exceedingly cautious in affirming that anything is impossible. The most I ever feel justified in saying is that such and such a case is beyond my experience, and that I do not know of any law under which it could be classified. But this particular instance is not utterly inexplicable; suggestions may be offered, though we should need a great deal more information before we could speak with any approach to certainty.”

“What suggestion can you offer?” asked the Platonist.

“If the tale be true exactly as we have it,” said the Shepherd, “I think we must assume some very unusual piece of karma. You may remember a little article of mine in the Adyar Bulletin on “Animal Obsession,” in which I indicated the various ways in which we have found human beings attached to and practically inhabiting animal bodies, but this case does not fit quite comfortably in any of the classes there described. The lady may have been a person who found herself in the grey world (to borrow a very appropriate name from a recent novel), and in a mad effort to escape from it seized upon the body of a panther, and after awhile became horrified at this body and desired earnestly to free herself from it, but could not. Or of course she may have been linked with the body as the result of some gross cruelty, though we know nothing about her that would justify us in such a supposition. Or (since the thing happened here in India) she may have offended some practitioner of magical arts, and he may have revenged himself upon her by imprisoning her thus.”

“But again, is that in the least possible?” interrupted the Painter. “It sounds like one of the stories in the Arabian Nights.”

“Yes, if there were a weakness in her through which such a magician could seize upon her, and if she had intentionally done something which gave him a karmic hold upon her; but of course it would be a very rare case. But there are other unusual points in the story. I have never heard of an instance in which a person linked to an animal could speak through its body; nor, again, would it under ordinary circumstances be possible for a dead person to show herself as a spotted deer when the intervention of a guardian angel was considered desirable. If the details are accurately given, the young lady must have been a very unusual person who had somehow entangled herself in unfrequented bypaths of existence. You may remember a ghastly story of Rudyard Kipling's about the fate of a man who in some drunken freak insulted the image of the deity in a Hindu Temple. There are often men attached to such temples who possess considerable powers of one sort or another, and while we know that no good man would ever use a power to injure another, there might be some who, when seriously offended, would be less scrupulous.”

“May not the Colonel have been to some extent psychic?” asked the Epistemologist.

“Nothing is said to imply that.” replied the Shepherd, “but of course if we may assume it, it clears up some of the minor difficulties of the story, for in that case the deer may have been visible, and the voice of the panther audible, only to him. But a man who is psychic usually has more experiences than one; and this Colonel hardly seems to have been that kind of man. In the absence of more precise information I think we must be content to leave the story unexplained.”



In the Twilight (8)

first published in the Theosophist, Nov, 1909, p252-260

“Some years ago, nearly thirty I think,” said the Tahsildar, “one evening at twilight a friend of mine and I were walking along a road when we saw a bright light under a tree, about two hundred yards away across a ploughed field. I was curious to see what it was, as it did not proceed from any source that we could see, but appeared to stand in the air some two feet from the ground. The light was wide at the base and tapering upwards like a flame. I went to the spot, but as I approached the light disappeared and I found nothing but a naked man sitting under a tree. There was nothing by which I could account for the light, - nothing which would have caused me to imagine it. My friend, being elderly, had not come with me but remained on the road, and when I turned to him I saw that the light was there just as before. We now both went to the spot, but with the same result as before, The light again disappeared and the strange man sat there motionless, taking no notice of my enquiries. We both tried, in all the languages we knew, to attract his attention; I even took him by the shoulder and shook him, but it was of no avail. We went back to the road and stood some time looking at the light, which again appeared, and wondering what it could be. It had of course now become quite dark, and the light seemed therefore much brighter; but we could obtain no explanation of it, so we went to our quarters in the dâk-bungalow in which we were staying, both of us being officials out in camp.”

“Next morning, as I was returning from my work at about ten o'clock, I saw, sitting upon a sort of rubbish-heap close to our quarters, the same strange man whom I had seen under the tree. I again spoke to him, but he gave me no reply. I offered him something to eat, but he would not take it. I called my friend's attention to him, and he and others who had collected spoke to this strange man, but none received any reply, nor did he give the slightest sign that he heard us. We then left him, and next day returned to our own village some eighteen miles distant.”

“Two days later a peon who was employed in my office, who had seen the man sitting on the rubbish-heap, came and informed me that the same man was in our village, near a Muhammadan resthouse or makân. I immediately went to see him and found that it really was the same man. I invited him to my house, but he would not come then. However, two or three days after he did come, but still without speaking a word. I think he accepted a small quantity of milk on that or the next day. From that time on, the stranger stayed in my house, without however speaking a word, or explaining who he was or what he wanted,”

“At about three o'clock one afternoon a day or two later the postman came to us bringing letters. Several gentlemen were then with me, and among them the District Munsif, who was a relation of mine. At this time my wife, who was about to be confined, was in Madras, and I was expecting a letter from my father-in-law on the subject. There were a few letters for me which, in deference to the company of my friends, I at once put into my pocket without reading. The Munsif, however, asked me to open the letters, suggesting that one of them might contain the information which I was expecting, and as he was an elderly gentleman, so that I did not like to displease him, I took out the letters. Now, before I could open the letter the strange man, whom we had begun to call the Mastân, and who had not until now spoken a single word, looked at me and said in Hindi:

‘Munshi, I will tell you what is in that letter. It contains news that your wife has given birth to a female child.’”

“This greatly aroused our curiosity, and I at once opened the letter, and found that what he had said was correct. As soon as I had finished reading it the Mastân spoke again:

‘There is another letter now in the post, which announces that the child has died’.”

“We were all much surprised, and decided to meet again next day; which we did, and the postman brought me another letter confirming what the strange man had said. The wonder rapidly passed from mouth to mouth through the neighbourhood, and people began to pour in in large numbers day by day in order to see the strange man.”

“One day, when I was alone with him, the Mastân told me that my wife was partially obsessed or possessed by a being on the inner planes, who, however, was not at all repulsive or dangerous, but still not necessary or desirable. He offered to make for her a charm which I was to send by post. I agreed. ‘Bring me a small plate of gold’, he said. I obtained the small plate of gold and brought it to him. He wrote something on a [[piece of paper and said tat a goldsmith must reproduce it on the plate. All this I had done - and here is the plate that you may see it.”

At this point the Tahsildar handed round a small gold plate about one and a quarter inches square, bearing the following inscription on one side: (graphic)

“Perhaps the Scholar can tell us what it means,” suggested the Shepherd. The Scholar eyed the small charm critically, as though he had known such things from his youth up.

“One may safely say,” he surmised “that for the most part the signs are Arabic numerals, those signifying two and eight being frequent. The first word looks like ‘saz’ and below it I think is ‘tun’. As we do not know in what language they are meant to be, it is difficult to say with certainty what these words are. The Arabic script is used for Persian, Hindustani and Malay as well as Arabic, and there are several different sound-value for the same letter. If the words are Hindustani they represent, as I said, ‘saz’ and ‘tan’. Several of the signs which I take to be numerals are very badly drawn, so as to be hardly recognisable as such. One must remember that these were roughly drawn on paper and then copied by a goldsmith to whom these signs were absolutely foreign. Hence the difficulty of deciphering some of them. Evidently the signs themselves are not endowed with any mystic force, or they would need to be more accurately reproduced.”

“That I don't know,” continued the Tahsildar, “but some power it certainly possessed. Before the Mastân gave me the charm he kept it by him for several days. Sometimes he kept it in his mouth. At others he placed it beneath his thigh as he was sitting upon the ground, though usually he sat upon a chair, with a small fire kindled beside him on the ground. A third place in which he kept it was the bowl of a pipe in which he smoked, not tobacco, but a substance called ganja.”

“He did not bring this pipe with him. In fact he had no possessions at all except a stick or staff. But a Muhammadan peon who was attached to my office, whom we called the fat peon, was an habitual smoker, and he one day offered his pipe to the Mastân, who at once accepted it and thenceforward had it frequently prepared for him.”

“Now in our place was an American Baptist Mission centre, and it happened that two missionaries, one of them elderly, =came to my house to see the strange man of whom they had heard. The Mastân sat there smoking, and the missionaries sat looking at him for some time. Presently the elderly missionary said to him:

‘Why do you not give up smoking? Do you not know that it is a very bad thing for a man to smoke ganja?’ - and turning to me he continued: ‘Here you reverence this man and consider that he is a great being and yet you see the fellow smokes, which is very dirty and bad.’”

“I remained silent, but our Mastân replied in Hindi:”

“‘Ah, you miserable pâdre; yes, it is true, it is a bad thing to smoke. I challenge you. I will give up this bad habit if you also will give up one of your bad habits.’

‘What bad habit have I?’ asked the offended missionary.”

‘You drink alcohol,’ replied the Mastân.

“The pâdre looked uncomfortable, but he rejoined: ‘Oh, but I never drink to excess; besides, liquor does no harm to a man, while your ganja will kill him.’

‘Do you say so?’ cried the Mastân. ‘Come now, I challenge you again. Order in as much ganja as you are sure will kill me; I will smoke it if you on your side will drink as much liquor as I think will kill you.’”

“Incredible as it may seem, the missionary at once accepted this extraordinary challenge, and ordered a very large quantity of ganja, and a number of people were employed in preparing it and filling and refilling the many pipes which were very soon brought in for the occasion. The man was contained in a basket considerably more than a foot in length, in breadth and in depth, and the amount of ganja was quite incredibly large for one man. The Mastân drew great breaths, reducing a whole pipeful to ashes in one pull, so that in less than an hour he had disposed of the whole quantity. Then he quietly turned to the missionary and said:”

‘You pâdre; here I am, you see, and not dead.’

“The missionary looked sick, but the Mast n was relentless, and continued:

‘Now it is your turn to display your ability in your evil habit. You must drink the liquor that I shall now have brought.’ But the missionaries quickly got up, made a bow to the strange man, and fled?”

A smile went round the company, but the Painter interrupted its full expansion with an eager query: “But what about the charm?”

“Oh, that must have been quite effective, for my wife from that time till her death, only a few years ago, was quite free from any sort of possessing influence.”

“Ah,” exclaimed the Countess, sympathetically “that was good. Then he must have been a great man, although he smoked so badly.”

“Not necessarily very great,” replied the Shepherd, “for in many cases it does not take great power to remove a possessing entity. But while I do not of course defend his smoking, I may point out that it is just possible that the habit may have been assumed precisely in order to give those presumptuous missionaries a lesson which they well deserved and badly needed.”

“It was not only the missionaries, though they were the most insolent, who scoffed at this man whom we now regarded with reverence and gratitude,” went on the Tahsildar. “The news reached the ears of the European civil officer of the station under whom I happened to be serving at the time. He very often spoke of the Mastân, calling him a madman; yet he often said also that he would like to see him. Now it happened one evening that the Mastân and myself were walking along the road which led past the civil officer's house, and that he and his wife were coming in the opposite direction, so that we met. The officer asked me:”

‘Is this the madman you have been speaking about?’

“I told him that this was the Mastân who was a guest in my house. He then asked me to enquire of the Mastân when he would be promoted in the service, saying: ‘That will prove whether your prophet is any good at all.’ The Mastân replied:

‘You will never be promoted, and further, you will very soon leave India for your native country.’

‘These statements,’ said the officer, ‘convince me that this man is mad, because I need only be in the service a very short time longer to ensure promotion; besides, I have only recently returned from England, as you know, and there will be no need whatever for me to go there again for some time.’”

“So we parted. But only a few days later the civil officer was ordered home by the doctors, and had to go on a long furlough to England, and I heard subsequently that when he returned again to India a medical officer pronounced him defiantly and permanently unfit for the climate, so that he was forced to retire altogether from the service.”

“Many people came to the Mastân in order to be cured. Among these was a Vaishya gentleman who had had asthma for a long time. The Mastân said to him:”

‘If you will do as I tell you, you will be cured.’

‘O, yes; certainly I will,’ said the gentleman.

‘Well then,’ said the Mastân, ‘On the sight of the new moon you must go alone to the sea-shore, carrying with you an unlighted lamp, some ghee and a wick. You must prepare these, and having lighted the lamp on the shore, walk round it three times. You will then be told what to do next.’

‘But,’ said the gentleman, ‘who will tell me what to do?’ ‘Never mind,’ replied the Mastân, ‘you go and do what I say.’

“Now it was about eight miles from the village to the sea, and the Vaishya gentleman was afraid to go alone in the dark, but at last he managed to screw up his courage, and went. He told us afterwards that as he was walking round the lamp on the second turn the Mastân suddenly appeared beside him, patted him on the back and said:”

‘Go on. Finish the third round. You need not fear anything at all.’

“After the ceremony was completed the Mastân walked with him towards the village, but disappeared as soon as they approached it. The extraordinary thing is that all this time the Mastân was with me in my own house! The asthma was cured and did not return.”

“There was a medical officer in the township, who was also something of a photographer, and as we particularly desired to have a photograph of the Mastân we asked him to take one. He consented, and after a good deal of persuasion the Mastân sat before the camera, after we had thrown a cloth about his body. I must tell you that the photographer was also a scoffer, Well, about seven plates were taken of the Mastân, but each time when they were developed they certainly revealed the body of the Mastân - but no head! The photographer was certain that all these failures were not due to accident, but considered it a rebuke, on the part of the wonder-worker, for his previous scoffing; so he went to him and humbly begged his pardon.”

‘Do you still regard me as a madman?’ asked the Mastân.

‘No; I am very sorry that I abused and offended you’, he replied.

‘Well then,’ said the Mastân, ‘you may have a photograph.’

“So he sat once more before the camera, and a beautiful photograph was the result. This you may now see, though it is a little faded. The Mastân told us we must not take more than three copies and the plate must be destroyed; but I must confess that after a time we disobeyed that order and produced some further copies.”

The Tahsildar here handed round the photograph; a reproduction of it appears upon the opposite page, but the photograph is so faded after all these years that the reproduction is a very poor one.

“After having stayed with me for about three weeks the Mastân expressed his intention to depart. I and other friends accompanied him to a village about twenty miles distant. Here we had arranged with a friend for accommodation, and he prepared for us a certain house - the only one available in the village - a house which was reputed to be haunted. This house had been built three years before, but the owner had lived in it only one day and part of one night, for on the very first night he slept there he was carried up bodily, bed an all, and deposited in the middle of the road outside! There was supposed to be some sort of demon in the house; so it had been lying vacant for three years. We came to the house, and late in the evening we all fell asleep in the room where the Mastân still sat in his chair, as was his custom. In the middle of the night I was awakened by the voice of the Mastân calling out:”

‘Murshad, Murshad, he is too strong for me; come and help me.’

“Now Murshad means Guru. I found the Mastân standing near the chair and speaking to somebody in an angry voice. I heard only one side of the conversation, and I could neither see nor hear anyone to whom he was speaking. After a while the Mastân sat down, saying:”

‘After all I got rid of the nuisance, although he was a very tough customer and I had to call my Teacher.’

“The Mastân then told me that the house had been haunted by a very bad and powerful demon. Next morning we induced the owner to return to his house, and there we stayed with him for three days to see that he was at ease and unmolested. The same afternoon the Mastân, after some chanting, took us out to a tree about a mile from the village, and there with some more chanting he drove a nail into the tree, which he said would fix the demon there. He said that nobody must ever sleep under the tree.”

“The time came for the Mastân to proceed upon his journey, and he told us to bring him a pony. We brought a very small pony, ready saddled and bridled. Then he told us to remove the saddle and bridle, and seated himself on the bare back of the animal with his face towards the tail. The pony started off and went along as though it were actually being guided by a bridle, while all of us walked behind conversing with the Mastân. After a time we all turned back and went home, and that was the last I saw of the Mastân.”

“I can add a pendant to that story,” quietly remarked the Model of Reticence.

“In 1882, during the month of May, Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky, after forming a branch of the Society at Nellore, went by boat on the Buckingham Canal to Guntur. On the way, at Ramayapatnam, they met a friend of mine, the Sirastadar of the Ongole sub-collector's office, and while travelling by the same boat HPB, seeing a bandage on his leg, asked him what was the matter. He explained to her that he had been suffering from a sore for a very long time, and that even the English doctors were not able to cure it. Then she told him that one year later he would meet a great man who would cure him. Just about one year later this Mastân, about whom our Tahsildar has been speaking, came into that district. Seeing the sore, he asked the Sirastadar about it, and then rubbed some of his saliva upon it and told the patient to go and bathe. The sore began to heal at once and was entirely gone within two days. So whoever this man may have been it is obvious that Madame Blavatsky knew something about him.”



In the Twilight (9)

first published in the Theosophist, Dec, 1909, p390-396

“Has anything been happening lately among the Invisible Helpers?” asked the Youth.

“Naturally something or other is always happening,” replied the Shepherd; but the work is not always picturesque enough to merit special description. However, I have in mind one or two incidents that may interest you. One evening recently I was dictating in my room a little later than usual, when one of our younger helpers called (by appointment) in his astral body to accompany me on my night's round. I asked him to wait for a few minutes while I finished the piece of work upon which I was then engaged, so he circled about the neighborhood a little, and hovered about over the Bay of Bengal. Seeing a steamer, he swooped down upon it (in mere curiosity, as he says) and almost immediately his attention was attracted by a horrible grey aura of deep depression projecting through the closed door of a cabin. True to his instructions, on sight of such a distress-signal he at once proceeded to investigate further, and on entering the room he found a man sitting on the side of a bunk with a pistol in his hand, which he raised to his forehead and then laid down again. The young helper felt that something ought to be done promptly, but being new to the work he did not quite know how to act for the best, so he was in my room again in a flash (and in a great state of excitement) crying: ‘Come at once; here is a man going to kill himself!’

“I stopped dictating, threw my body on to a sofa, and accompanied him to the ship. As soon as I grasped the state of affairs, I decided to temporise, as I had to return and finish the work upon which I had been engaged; so I strongly impressed upon the would-be suicide's mind that this was not the time for his rash act - that he should wait until the middle watch, when he would not be disturbed. If I had impressed the thought of the wickedness of suicide upon his brain he would have begin to argue, and I had no time for that; but he instantly accepted the idea of postponement. I left my young assistant in charge, telling him to fly at once for me if the young man so much as opened the drawer where I had made him put the pistol. Then I returned to my body and did a little more dictation, bringing the work to a point where it could be conveniently left for the night.”

“As twelve o'clock approached I returned to relieve my young helper, whom I found in a very anxious frame of mind, though he reported that nothing particular had occurred. The would-be suicide was still in the same state of depression, and his resolution had not wavered. I then proceeded to investigate the reasons in his mind, and found that he was one of the ship's officers, and that the immediate cause of his depression was the fact that he had been guilty of some defalcations in connexion with the ship's accounts, which would inevitably be very shortly discovered, and he was unable to face the consequent exposure and disgrace. It was in order to stand well with a certain young lady and to make extravagant presents to her that he had needed, or thought he needed, the money; and while the actual amount involved was by no means a large one it was still far beyond his power to replace it.”

“He seemed a good-hearted young fellow, with a fairly clean record behind him, and (except for this infatuation about the girl which had led him into so serious an error) a sensible and honorable man. Glancing back hurriedly over his history to find some lever by which to move him from his culpable determination, I found that the most powerful thought for that purpose was that of an aged mother at home, to whom he was dear beyond all others. It was easy to impress the memory of her form strongly upon him, to make him get out a portrait of her, and then to show him how this act would ruin the remainder of her life, by plunging her into inextinguishable sorrow, not only because of her loss of him on the physical plane, but also because of her doubts as to the fate of his soul hereafter. Then a way of escape had also to be suggested, and having examined the captain of the steamer and approved him, the only way that seemed feasible to me was to suggest an appeal to him.”

“This then was the idea put into the young man's mind - that, in order to avoid the awful sorrow which his suicide must inevitably bring to the heart of his mother, he must face the almost impossible alternative of going to his captain, laying the whole case before him, and asking for a temporary suspension of judgement until he should prove himself to be worthy of such clemency. So the young officer actually went, then and there, in the dead of night. A sailor is ever on the alert, and it was not difficult to arrange that the captain should be awake and should appear at the door just at the right moment. The whole story was told in half-an-hour, and with much fatherly advice from the kind captain the matter was settled; the amount misappropriated was replaced by the captain, to be repaid to him by the officer in such instalments as he could afford, and thus a young and promising life was saved.”

“But here arises a very curious and interesting question as to the working of karma. What sort of link has been set up for the future between the young helper who discovered his predicament and this officer whom he has never seen upon the physical plane - whom it is not in the least likely that he ever will see? Is this action the repayment of some help given in the past, and if not how and in what future life can it itself now be repaid? And again, how strange a series of apparent accidents led up to the incident! So far as we can see, if it had not happened that I was working that night later than usual, that consequently I was not quite ready at the time appointed, that my young friend, instead of endeavoring, as he might well have done, to pick up the purport of the matter I was dictating, should choose to circle round in the neighborhood, and happen to see that steamer and be impelled by what he called curiosity to visit it - had any one of these apparently fortuitous circumstances failed to fit into its place in the mosaic, that young man's life would have been cut short by his own hand at the age of three or four and twenty, whereas now he may well live to an honored old age, bringing up perhaps a family which otherwise would have been non-existent. This suggests many an interesting consideration - most of all perhaps that there is probably no such thing as an accident in the sense in which we generally use the word.”

“To show the diversity of the astral work that opens before us, I may mention some other cases in which the same young neophyte was engaged within a few days of that described above.”

“Every astral worker has always on hand a certain number of regular cases, who for the time need daily visits, just as a doctor has a daily round in which he visits a number of patients; so when neophytes are delivered into my charge for instruction I always take them with me on those rounds, just as an older doctor might take with him a younger one in order that he might gain experience by watching how cases are treated. Of course, there is other definite teaching to be given; the beginner must pass the tests of earth, air, fire and water; he must learn by constant practice how to distinguish between thought-forms and living beings; how to know and to use the 2,401 varieties of elemental essence; how to materialise himself or others when necessary; how to deal with the thousands of emergencies which are constantly arising; above all, he must learn never under any circumstances to lose his balance or allow himself to feel the least tinge of fear, no matter how alarming or unusual may be the manifestations which occur. The primary necessity for an astral worker is always to remain master of the situation, whatever it may be. He must of course also be full of love and of an eager desire to help; but these qualifications I do not need to teach, for unless the candidate already possessed them he would not be sent to me.”

“I was on my way one night to visit certain of my regular cases, and was passing over a picturesque and hilly part of the country. My attendant neophytes were ranging about and sweeping over areas of adjoining land as neophytes will - just as a fox-terrier runs on ahead and returns again and makes excursions on each side, and covers three or four times the ground trodden by the man whom he accompanies. My young friend who had a few days before saved the life of the officer suddenly came rushing up in his usual impulsive way to say that he had discovered something wrong - a boy dying down under the ground, as he put it.”

“Investigation soon revealed a child of perhaps eight years old lost in the inmost recesses of a huge cavern, far from the light of day, apparently dying of hunger, thirst and despair. The case reminded me somewhat of the “Angel Story” in Invisible Helpers, and seemed to require much the same kind of treatment; so on this occasion as on that I materialised the young helper. In this instance it was necessary also to provide a light, as we were physically in utter darkness; so the half-fainting child was roused from his stupor by finding a boy with an amazingly brilliant lantern bending over him. The first and most pressing need was obviously water, and there was a rill not far away, though the exhausted child could not have reached it. We had no cup; we could have made one, of course, but my eager neophyte did not think of that, but rushed off and brought a drink of water in his hollowed hands. This revived the child so much that he was able to sit up, and after two more similarly provided draughts he was able to speak a little.”

“He said that he lived in the next valley, but on rising through the earth and looking round (leaving my materialised boy to cheer the sufferer, so that he should not feel deserted) I could not find anything answering to this description, and I had to return to the child and make him think of his home so as to get a mental picture of it, and then issue forth again with the image photographed in my mind. Then I found the house, but further away than he had described it. There were several people there, and I tried to impress them with the child's predicament, but was unfortunately unsuccessful; not one of them seemed in the least receptive, and I could not convey my ideas clearly to them. They were much troubled about the child's absence, and had been seeking for him; indeed they had just sent to gather some neighbors from their valleys to make a more thorough search; and perhaps it may have been partly because of their preoccupation that they were hopelessly unimpressible.”

“Long enough persistence would probably have broken down the barriers, but the child's state left us no time for that, so I abandoned the task and looked round for available food to dematerialise, for as it was the child's own home I felt that he had a right to it, and that it would not be dishonest. I hurriedly selected some bread, some cheese, and two fine big apples, and hastened back to the cave, and re-materialised this miscellaneous plunder in the eager hands of my neophyte, who proceeded to feed the child. The latter was soon able to attend to his own wants, and quickly finished every scrap that I had brought, and asked for more, I feared lest too much, after a prolonged fast, should do more harm than good, so I told my representative to say that he had no more, and that we must now try to get out of the cave.”

“With a view to that I suggested to my boy to ask the other how he got in. His story was that he had been rambling about on the hills in a valley near his home, and had observed a small cave in the hill-side, which he had never noticed before. He naturally went in to investigate, but he had not walked more than a few yards when the floor of the cave gave way under him, and he was precipitated into a far vaster cavern beneath. From his account he must have been stunned for a time, for when he ‘awoke’, as he put it, it was quite dark, and he could not see the hole through which he had fallen. We afterwards inspected the spot and wondered that he had not been badly hurt, for the fall was a considerable one, but it had been broken for him by the fact that a mass of soft earth had fallen underneath him.”

“It was impossible to get him up that way, for the sides of the cave were smooth and perpendicular; besides he had wandered for two whole days among the galleries and was now some miles from that spot. After a good deal of prospecting we found, within a reasonable distance, a place where a little stream passed from the cave into the open air on a hill-side; the child, now strengthened by food and drink, was able to walk there, and the two boys soon enlarged the opening with their hands so that he was able to crawl out. It was evident that now he would be able to get home in any case, and we also hoped to be able to influence some of the searchers to come in that direction, so this seemed a favorable opportunity to part company.”

“The father had a plan of search fixed in his mind - a scheme of examining the valleys in a certain order - and no suggestion of ours could make him deviate from it; but fortunately there was in the party a dog who proved more impressionable, and when he seized the trouser-leg of one of the farm-men and tried to draw him in our direction the man thought there might be some reason for it, and so yielded, and followed the dog. Thus by the time that the child was safely out of the cave the man and the dog were already within a few miles. The child naturally begged his mysterious newly-found friend to accompany him home, and clung to him with touching gratitude, but the helper was obliged gently to tell him that he could not do that, as he had other business; but he convoyed him to the top of a ridge from which he could see the farm-hand far away on the other side of the valley. A shout soon attracted his attention, and as soon as that was certain, our young helper said good-bye to the boy whom he had rescued, sent him off running feebly towards his friends, and then himself promptly dematerialised.”

“The small boy who was helped can never have had the slightest idea that his rescuer was anything but purely physical; he asked one or two inconvenient questions, but was easily diverted from dangerous ground. Perhaps his relations, when he comes to tell his story, may find more difficulty than he did in accounting for the presence in a lonely place of a casual stranger of decidedly non-bucolic appearance; but at any rate it will be impossible in this case to bring any such evidence of non-physical intervention as was available in the parallel instance quoted in Invisible Helpers.”

“A sad case in which it was not possible to do much directly was that of three little children belonging to a drunken mother. She received some trifling pension on account of them, and therefore could not at first be induced to part with them, though she neglected them shamefully and seemed to feel but little affection for them. The eldest of them was only ten years of age, and the conditions surrounding them, mentally, astrally and etherically, were as bad as they could be. The mother seemed for the time quite beyond the reach of any higher influence, though many efforts had been made to appeal to her better nature. The only thing that could be done was to leave my young assistant by the bed-side of the children to ward off patiently from them the horrible thought-forms and the coarse living entities which clustered so thickly round the degraded mother. Eventually I showed the neophyte how to make a strong shell round the children and to set artificial elementals to guard them as far as might be.”

“A difficulty here is that nature-spirits will not work under such horrible conditions, and though of course they can be forced to do so by certain magical ceremonies, this plan is not adopted by those who work under the Great White Lodge. We accept only willing co-operation, and we cannot expect entities at the level of development of such nature-spirits as would be used in a case of this kind to have already acquired such a spirit of self-sacrifice as would cause them voluntarily to work amidst surroundings so terrible to them. Mere thought-forms, of course, can be made and left to work under any conditions, but the intelligent living co-operation of a nature-spirit to ensoul such forms can be had only when the nature-spirit is reasonably at ease in his work.”



In the Twilight (10)

first published in the Theosophist, Jan, 1910, p517-524

“I am sure you will be glad to hear,” began the Shepherd, “that we have very satisfactory progress to report with regard to the case of the mother and children which I mentioned to you at our last meeting. Determined efforts were made upon the physical plane as well as upon the astral, and I am happy to say that they were eventually crowned with at least temporary success. The two elder children have been sent to a children's Home, and though the mother still retains the youngest with her, she has been persuaded to put herself under the care of some religious friends, and is at present a reformed character.”

“It may interest you to hear of some other adventures which have since befallen the same neophyte whose work I have already partially described to you. There are in astral work many cases in which continuous action is necessary - that is to say, in which someone who is willing to take the trouble must, as it were, stand over the person who requires assistance, and be constantly ready to give it. Naturally those who are in charge of a vast assortment of varied astral work cannot with justice devote themselves to this extent to any single case, so that usually some relation of the sufferer is put in charge. An instance of this nature came in our way on that occasion.”

“A man recently dead, whom I had been asked (by a relation of his) to help, was found to be in a state of terrible depression, surrounded by a vast cloud of gloomy thought, in the midst of which he felt himself utterly helpless and impotent. His life had been far from spotless, and there were those whom he had injured who thought of him often with malice and revenge in their hearts. Such thought-forms acted upon him through the clouds of depression, fastened themselves upon him like leeches and sucked out from him all vitality and hope and buoyancy, leaving him a prey to the most abject despair.”

“I spoke to him as hopefully as I could, and pointed out to him that though it was quite true that his life had not been all that it should have been, and that there was in a certain way much justification for the way in which others were regarding him, it was nevertheless both wrong and useless to give way to despair. I explained to him that he was doing very serious harm to a surviving relation by his depression, since these thoughts of his, quite without his own volition, constantly reacted upon her and made her life one of utter misery. I told him that while the past could not be undone, at least its effects might be minimised by the endeavor to hold a calm front in the presence of the dislike which he had brought upon himself by his actions, and that he should endeavor to respond to it by kindly wishes, instead of by alternating gusts of hatred and despair. In fact the main text of my sermon was that he must forget himself and his sorrows and think only of the effect of his attitude upon his surviving relation.”

“The poor fellow responded to this, though only in a very half-hearted way; he said that he would really try, and he certainly meant it, but I could see that he had very little hope of success, or perhaps I should rather say that he had no hope at all, but felt quite certain beforehand that he was foredoomed to failure. I told him plainly all this; I broke up the rings of depression which shut him in, and dissipated the dark clouds which surrounded him, so that the unkindly thought-forms of those whom he had injured should have less upon which they could fasten. For the moment he seemed almost cheerful, as I held before him a strong thought-image of the surviving relation, whom he had deeply loved, and he said:”

“‘While you are here I seem to understand, and I almost think that I can resist the despair, but I know that, as you say, my courage will fade as soon as you are gone.’”

“So I told him that this must not be so - that hopeless as he felt now, every determined effort to conquer the despair would make it easier to do so next time, that he must regard this resistance as a duty in which he could not allow himself to fail. I had to go about my business, but I asked my young assistant to stay by this man for a while, to watch the accumulation of the depressing thoughts, and to break them up determinedly every time that they took hold of the victim. I knew that if this was done for a number of times we should eventually reach a condition in which the man could resist for himself, and maintain his own position, although from long-continued submission he had at first scarcely any strength to maintain the struggle. My young friend kept up this battle for some two or three hours, until the dark thoughts came much less frequently and the man himself was becoming able to a large extent to hold his own, so that the helper felt himself justified in returning to me.”

“He was just about to take his departure, leaving a few last strong encouraging thoughts for the now almost cheerful sufferer, when he saw a little girl in the astral body flying in headlong terror before some kind of hobgoblin of the conventional ogre type. He promptly put himself in the way, saying ‘What is this?’ and the frightened child clung to him convulsively and pointed to the pursuing demon. The helper has since admitted that he did not at all like the look of it himself, but he seems to have felt somewhat indignant on behalf of the girl, and his instructions were that to anything whatever of this nature a bold front must always be shown. So he stood his ground and set his will against the ogre, which did not approach them, but remained at a little distance writhing about, gnashing its huge projecting teeth, and evidently trying to make itself as terrible as possible.”

“As the situation showed no signs of changing, the neophyte presently became impatient, but he had been warned against aggressive action of any kind except under very definite instructions, so he did not know precisely what to do. He therefore came in search of me, bringing the terrified child with him, but moving very slowly and circumspectly and always keeping his face towards the unpleasant-looking object which followed them persistently at a little distance.”

“When I had time to attend to him, I investigated the question, and found that this poor little child was frequently subject to these horrible nightmares, from which her physical body would wake up in quite a convulsive condition, sometimes with terrible shrieks. The pursuing entity was nothing but an unpleasant thought-form temporarily animated by a mischievous nature-spirit of a low-type, who seemed to be in great glee and to derive a kind of spiteful pleasure from the terrors of the girl. I explained all this to the children, and the indignant boy promptly denounced the nature-spirit as wicked and malicious, but I pointed out to him that it was no more so than a cat playing with a mouse, and that entities at such a low stage of evolution were simply following their undeveloped natures, and therefore could not rightly be described as wicked.”

“At the same time their foolish mischief could not be allowed to cause suffering and terror to human beings, so I showed him how to set his will against the nature-spirit, and drive it out from the form, and then how to dissipate the form by a definite effort of the will. The little girl was half-fearful, but wholly delighted, when she saw her ogre explode, and there is reason to hope that she will gain courage from this experience, and that for the future her sleep will be less disturbed. There are many varieties of unpleasant thought-forms to be found on the astral plane, the worst of all being those connected with false and foolish religious beliefs - demons of various kinds, and angry deities. It is quite allowable for the Occultist to destroy such creatures, since they are in no way really alive, that is to say, they represent no permanent evolving life, but are simply temporary creations.”

“A case of some interest which has just come under our notice is that of a brother and sister, who had been very closely attached to one another in youth. Unfortunately, later, a designing woman came between them; the brother came under her influence and was taught by her to suspect his sister's motives. The sister quite reasonably distrusted the other woman and warned the brother against her; the warning was not taken in good part and a serious breach ensued. The infatuation of the brother lasted for more than a year, and all this time the sister held entirely aloof, for she had been grossly insulted and was proud and unforgiving. By degrees the brother discovered the true character of the woman, though for long he would not believe it, and clung to his delusions. Even when it was impossible longer to maintain his blind faith he still remained somewhat sore with regard to his sister, persuading himself somehow that but for her interference, as he called it, the other woman might have remained faithful to him, so that the estrangement still persisted, even though the reasons for it had largely passed out of the brother's life.”

“In this case the best thing to do seemed to be to set two assistants to work, one with the brother and one with the sister, to call up permanently before their minds pictures of the old days when they loved each other so dearly. Presently, after these currents had been thoroughly set going, I taught the assistants how to make artificial elementals which would continue this treatment. Of course it must have seemed to the brother and sister simply that thoughts of the other one persistently arose in the mind of each - that all sorts of unexpected little happenings came to remind them of happier times. For a long time pride held out, but at last the brother responded to the constant suggestion, went to call on his sister, and found her unexpectedly gracious, forgiving, and glad to see him. Reconciliation was instantly effected, and it is little likely now that they will allow any cloud to come between them again.”

“What you say about unpleasant thought-forms,” remarked Chitra, “reminds me that two tears ago in a country town I stayed in a hotel for the month of April; this is a month of very changeable weather, so that often travellers have great difficulty in getting articles of clothing dried in time for packing, and I on this occasion was obliged to leave one garment - a thick woven night-dress - to be sent after me. It did not arrive at the promised time and although I several times wrote enquiring about it, I was still without it in the April of the following year, so I wrote again asking the proprietress of the hotel to have it awaiting me in my room when I returned, as I meant to do, in a few days. I arrived in due course and, as I expected, was greeted by a sudden change in the weather; from the heat of summer we were plunged straight into the frosts of winter, the snow-capped hills close at hand sending an icy breath down upon us. I called at the hotel at mid-day and made all arrangements for returning that night; meantime rain came in torrents and the owners of the hotel, who were spending the evening at a friend's house, left the servants to attend to travellers so that when I went to my room I found no night-dress and no one knew anything about it, nor about me, save my name and the number of my room. I retired to rest wearing another garment and slept dreamlessly until awakened about 1 am by the proprietress, who was uneasy at my being without my night-dress, so had brought it to me; she knew I had no luggage with me so could not have another.”

“I fell asleep again directly I put my head down, and then had a dreadful dream, so real that even when sitting up awake and trembling I could scarcely realise that it was only a dream. I thought I heard loud angry voices in the bar; this was impossible, as I was in a new part of the hotel and too far from the bar to hear anything; then the voices seemed to come closer and I saw a small group of men fighting in the middle of the road; one of them drew a knife and struck at the man in front of him, while another separated from the group, ran into the hotel, and upstairs to the door of my room, the handle of which he tried to turn and then rattled violently.”

“Telling myself that it was folly to be so alarmed at a dream I lay down again, and again fell immediately asleep, and at once heard the same noise of quarrelling, but this time the men were on the balcony before my window and in the passage near the door, and two men with horrible drunken faces were getting in at my window which they had pushed up from below. I sat up trembling with terror and disgust, wide awake, and listened; there was not a sound. I rose and looked out over the balcony into the quiet country street; the rain had ceased and the moon shone brightly on the pools in the road, not a creature was visible and no sound, there was not even a breeze. Returning to bed I said to myself: ‘This is absurd: what can be the matter with me?’ and promptly went to sleep again; this time the return of the dream was instantaneous, one of the men - drunk and horrible - came in at the door and clutched my throat, and while others fought on the balcony, two got half in at the window. I sprang up, trembling and with the perspiration streaming from me, and the thought: ‘It is the night-dress,’ suddenly darted into my mind. I took it off, rolled it into a ball and threw it to the furthest corner of the room, than fell asleep again and slept peacefully till morning.”

“After breakfast I asked: ‘What happened that you kept my night-dress so long?’”

“‘Oh,’ was the answer ‘now that you have it safe I don't mind telling you that it was lost for two or three months. The day after that on which you left was fine, so I had it dried and ready to send off by mail time; I rolled it in brown paper and addressed it, then found I had no string, so gave the parcel to the barman to tie up and post; he was called out of the bar for a few minutes and left it lying there, meantime a boy took his place and noticing the parcel which was gradually coming undone, lying there, took it for a roll of paper, picked it up and threw it into the bar cupboard.’”

“There it had lain among old bottles and dusters and in the atmosphere of drink and its accompaniments for nearly three months. When it was discovered it was washed and put out in the sun for some days, and when given to me was to all appearance sweet and clean; yet it retained enough of the magnetism of the bar to give me a very horrible time.”

“A year before this experience with the magnetised night-dress, in the same house and the same month (April) I had gathered a small group of people around me and formed a Branch of the Theosophical Society. On the night of the formation of that Branch I retired to my room rather later than usual, very happy and rather excited, as this was the first Branch I had been instrumental in forming by myself.”

“I was standing fastening up my hair and rejoicing over the evening's work when suddenly a dark-grey, noisome, mist-cloud seemed to be descending upon me. I was filled with dread and looked up towards the roof almost expecting to see it, but no, nothing was visible, so I tried to go on with the binding up of my hair, but found that I was unable to move my arms which had dropped to my sides with the start. I stood perfectly still, unable to move a finger while this grey mist-extinguisher came slowly down upon me and enveloped me in its paralysing folds; then I heard, spoken without a voice: ‘You wicked woman,’ ‘a wicked woman,’ ‘wicked woman’, repeated three times and with the words came a most awful feeling of isolation and misery. Unable to stir, but quite able to think, I stood, for what seemed minutes but was probably only seconds, wondering what was happening, when the voice or rather the words came: ‘now you know what a lost soul feels like,’ ‘wicked woman’. This roused me and I answered aloud:”

“‘I'm not a lost soul, and I'm not a wicked woman. I'm glad I've been able to form a Branch of the Theosophical Society here, and I'll do it again wherever I can.’”

“At this the cloud began first to thin, and then to lift until it was once more above my head, and my arms lost their rigidity.”

“I stood coiling my hair and wondering what it all meant, when I again felt the cloud descending and bringing with it the same feeling of loneliness and misery, but I kept it at bay saying:”

“‘Keep off; I'll do it again, I tell you, and I'm glad I did it.’”

“Twice it tried to descend but I succeeded in keeping it at bay; and I went to bed wondering what had caused it.”

“A year after when visiting the same place I was told that a very narrow religious sect there had held a prayer-meeting on that night asking God to turn me out of the district because of my wickedness in teaching Theosophy, and had used these words ‘a wicked woman’, and repeated them over and over again, also concentrating on preventing me from continuing in my work. I had caught their thought-forms, the combined thought-form of the meeting, and strange to say not till long afterwards did I think of protecting myself in the way I've told dozens of other people to protect themselves in under like circumstances.”



In the Twilight (11)

first published in the Theosophist, Feb, 1910, p640-645

“Any stories this evening?” queried the Shepherd.

“The Fiddler has something I believe,” said the Prince.

“Well if it is something that can be told - ?” said the Shepherd, turning to her with a little hesitation.

“Yes, it is what I was telling you about this morning,” answered the Fiddler with a smile; and then added, “but I don't see that it is too intimate for the Twilight talk. We are all friends here. Provided a thing helps people, I always think that too great reticence is a mistake.”

“Well, go ahead then”, said the Shepherd.

“A little while ago, you will remember that I had to journey suddenly from here to Calcutta; thence to Benares, and Allahabad; back again to Benares and Calcutta and home to Adyar. It is a long weary road from here to Benares. You start on a Sunday, we will say, and arrive there on Wednesday at the hottest time of day. These journeyings were fitted into some ten days; and in between, there was a strain of sorrowful labor for friends and loved ones.”

“We understand,” said the Shepherd kindly.

“And - well, there was personal grief too,” continued the Fiddler, “and I suppose I had more to do and to bear than my physical body could stand. It was fairly bearable at my halting places; but when I was being whirled across India, alone in the train, I felt pretty ‘down’, as they say. Oddly enough, I was alone, except for a few hours, during all that way, back and forth. Servants do not count; on most of the Indian trains there is no means of getting at them while in motion, a most unpractical arrangement. Between Calcutta and Benares, alone in a first-class compartment one night, suddenly a faintness came over me. I am not a ‘fainting lady’”, explained the Fiddler to the group, with a little twinkle. “It was sheer exhaustion, mental, emotional, and physical. I leaned out of the window, hoping that the cool night air might revive me, but I felt worse. I went to my sarai and took a draught of water, and poured some on my face. No good. Things were getting dim by now, and I just managed to stagger to the seat, where I lay, fast becoming unconscious. I was thinking vaguely. No means of help, unless I stopped the train. But blackness was rest ... rest ... A strong, sweet, penetrating smell suddenly pressed against my nostrils. Oh, how delicious! I sniffed it up, still dreaming. It grew stronger and stronger, making me gasp; and then I drew long, deep breaths. You know how you breath towards the end of an exhilarating walk?” - to the Magian - “well, like that.”

“How long did that continue,” asked the Youth.

“I suppose it must have been for three or four minutes,” answered the Fiddler, “and with full strength all the time. When I had completely recovered - ”

“In a remarkably short time,” put in the Shepherd.

“I began to investigate. The windows, eight of them, were wide open. No perfume of strongest Indian flower could have remained so long in such a draught, even had it been possible for it to have reached me, with the train going at full speed. The door between my compartment and the next was sealed tight. The strongest scent could not come through under those conditions though it might have come in whiffs when the train was stationary. But this wasn't a whiff; it was a smell of briar rose mixed with something like incense, with the power of a scent upon a saturated cloth pressed to your nose. Whence might this have come? Needless to say, I possess no perfumes?”

“It looks rather like a case of the Christian ‘Guardian Angel’” said a voice.

“Yes” continued the Fiddler. “A curious thing of that kind occurred to me again, last evening, in the cocoanut grove. I was pacing back and forth there, at the time of sunset, deeply immersed in a train of thought, and quite forgetful of surroundings. Turning in my walk and looking up, my attention was arrested by a lovely figure outlined in mid air, clear against the palm-tops, the radiance surrounding it, the stately compelling beauty - above all, the unmistakable thrill that it sent through me, made me recognise it in the dusk {dust} as my Warner - or someone at least of noble and lofty nature. I made deep obeisance. The figure vanished. I walked on, resuming the broken thread of reason in the gathering gloom, and was thinking very hard, oblivious to everything, even the vision just past. But into my mind one word inserted itself persistently: ‘Snake’. That word formed a kind of accompaniment to my thoughts. It grew stronger and louder, until suddenly I swerved my foot, quite involuntarily, in the very act of treading on a snake! The quick move of the foot ‘brought me to earth’, and to a dead halt also. I peered on the ground where my foot should have gone, and there was the creature wriggling away to its hole?”

“Did you take up your ‘thread of reason’ agai?”? queried the Scholar mischievously.

“Yes - but on another strand.” The Fiddler sighed: “It was on the nature of matter, you see, so this provided food for investigation?”

The Shepherd smiled his largest smile as someone muttered: “You can't draw water from bottomless wells.”

“A friend of mine,” said the Model of Reticence, “has sent me an account of a distinctly curious experience. He writes:”

“I was born in 1853. My mother committed suicide in 1856 by voluntary drowning herself in a well owing to family quarrels. She attempted to throw me in the well along with herself, but at the last moment, she changed her mind and left me in a Brâhmana's house adjoining the well in which she was drowned. For some years afterwards my people were in constant touch with the deceased in dreams. When I grew older, I also saw her in my dreams. She talked to me for a quarter of an hour every time I dreamt, and used to kiss me and say kind words just as a mother does to her child. When I questioned her as to who she was to seat me in her lap and love me so fondly, she replied that she was my mother and out of her motherly affection was very anxious to see me now and then. Finally about twenty years ago (in my dream) she stood at my front gate and called me from inside the house. I immediately obeyed her call as I recognised her as my mother by our many previous meetings. She took me in her arms, a few yards beyond my house and there seated herself. With flowing tears she kissed me very touchingly for ten minutes and said: ‘Child, you won't see me hereafter; I am going to a distant place. This is my last visit to you. I hope you will get on well in the world and earn a good name. I know you are in the good grace of whomsoever you meet. You will be wanting nothing. God bless you with good attachment to all. I am most unfortunate to be deprived of the pleasure of enjoying your company as a son.’ So saying and seeing me shed tears when I heard of her permanent separation, she embraced me very closely, kissed me and went away. Never have I seen her in my dreams for these twenty years.”

“In April last, two sisters each with a child aged six or seven years came from Rajahmandry to Nellore on their way to go to southern India, their native place. Three were drowned in the river Pennar at the bathing ghat. The eldest of the lot was saved by some one who threw a cloth to reach her when she was hovering between life and death.”

“Of course two children and one of the mothers were lost in the deep water. These three dead bodies were taken out and an inquest held by the Police. At that time I casually went to see who they were and what had happened. To my astonishment, I found the living woman an acquaintance and as soon as she saw me, she fell on my feet and cried bitterly to save her. I took pity on her in that condition and resolved to help her as far as it lay in my power. I interceded with the inquest affair and took the whole responsibility of disposing of the dead bodies, to preserve their property and hand it over to the proper claimant. The woman told the inquest officer that I was her father and the whole affair must be left to me. Of course I arranged for the proper cremation of the deceased. I never saw such a grand funeral procession anywhere. Thousands followed the procession from the surrounding villages and the Nellore town itself, and the whole river was covered with people, with flowers, saffron (red powder) and betel-nuts. The funeral pyre was heaped with bunches of flowers, etc., by the female visitors who crowded by thousands. I could not find space to place fire on the bodies. Such was the fortune of that deceased woman and children. I was astonished to see how these bodies commanded so much reverence in a strange unknown place and how they received fire from my hand with no connexion or blood relationship between us. I performed the ceremony as a dutiful son does to his mother.”

“On that very night, I had a dream in which a sâdhu with long beard, but with no mark on the forehead came to condole me and said: ‘You have done a most charitable deed. The deceased was your mother who took a final leave from you about twenty years ago and took this birth and received funeral fire from your hand instead of being disposed of by the hands of a chandâla, as circumstances would have compelled if you had not gone there. You have done your duty well.’ So saying, he disappeared. The living woman and the property were handed over to her husband, who came from Rajahmandry Training College.”

Said a member: “An FTS sends the following from Sweden: During the visit of the Czar to Stockholm last June a Swedish General by the name of Beckman was shot down in one of the city parks when returning home in the evening of the 26th. A fellow-officer of the victim, General Björlin, had been lying very ill for some weeks at Varberg, a small town on the west-coast of Sweden. The nurse who attended him relates the following incident which occurred on the night between the 26th and the 27th of June. On the 26th the General was very uneasy all day, and uttered several times, that somebody intended to hurt General Beckman, and declared repeatedly that some outrageous act would be performed in Stockholm that day. Towards evening the patient became still more excited and could not stay in bed; he got up, put on his dressing gown and began restlessly pacing the floor. He talked as if he were in Stockholm himself and would hurry to General Beckman's assistance. By eleven o'clock his nervousness had reached its climax, and he exclaimed suddenly: ‘Don't you hear the report of the gun? Don't you see the smoke after the shooting? I saw them shoot Beckman. Don't you see the blood trickling down on the ground?’ The General was very nervous most of the night and did not fall asleep until about 6 o'clock in the morning. When he woke up he was restful and calm, but said to the nurse: ‘When the newspaper comes, you will see that General Beckman has been shot’. At nine the daily paper arrived; the General asked to have it brought to him at once, and then found a detailed account of the accident he had so emphatically foretold.”

“Are there any other stories?” asked the Shepherd after a pause. “We have still a few minutes left.”

The Fakir volunteered:

“I remember a French lady telling me, years ago, how her little girl had been saved, brought back apparently from the very jaws of death, by ... just letting her go.”

“It was diphtheria - a hopeless case. Tracheotomy had been performed, but in vain. The deadly film had spread beyond, and the doctor had left her that night, giving no hope.”

“The mother knelt beside the bed, struggling with Fate, fighting God for her child's life. Being a strong-willed woman, she wrought herself into a state of fearful tension. Meanwhile, the child was sinking fast, breathing spasmodically with an ominous gurgling sound, weaker and weaker.”

“Suddenly, in the small hours, a wave of peace seemed to swoop over the mother's pain-racked heart, to still, as by an irresistible command, the tossing waves of her rebellious will. A sense that all was over and that all was well. From her dry, burning eyes the tears gushed forth, as they will do in such saving moments when a dangerous state of tension breaks. Burying her face in the bed clothes she surrendered unconditionally. ‘Not mine O God, but Thine is she - Thine to take as Thine to give - Thy Will be done!’”

“For a few seconds she knelt there in great peace, her burden gone, when a movement of the child started her. Looking up, she saw her darling looking at her intently, fully conscious, struggling to speak, reaching her hands up to her throat, as though asking to be helped to remove something there, something that choked. And then the mother saw (she did, sometimes) - a writhing shadow-like dark snake coiled, with which her child was struggling. With a sense of irresistible power to heal - the power to which nothing but self-surrender can open up a channel - she reached forth to remove and cast away the evil. A few strong passes, and the dark thing was gone. Then a violent fit of coughing seized the child - a throwing up and spitting out of mucus and deadly choking whitish film. After which she sank back exhausted, and slept. Next morning, the doctor ‘was surprised’, as HPB's doctors were wont to be when their dying patient of the night before had changed her mind and was found getting royally outside her breakfast, without argument.”



In the Twilight (12)

first published in the Theosophist, March, 1910, p774-780

“I will begin to-day,” said the Vagrant. “When I was in America this last time, an officer in the United States Army told me an interesting experience he had had. He seemed very level-headed - not at all an excitable person - and from his own account of himself he does not seem to be psychic. The event took place during the Cuban war. He was a junior officer then and took part in the war. One day when he was sitting alone in a room, his father suddenly appeared to him; the young officer knew he could not be there in an ordinary way, but the apparition looked exactly as his father did in his physical body. The father proceeded to prophesy to him many events of his future life, some of which seemed to the young man most unlikely of fulfilment, and he gave the dates when they would occur. Immediately after his father's disappearance, the officer wrote down in detail all that had been told him, noting the prophecies and their dates. Shortly afterwards he learned - whether by letter or by telegram I forget - that his father had passed away at the very time when he had appeared to him. That was several years ago now; and some of the prophecies have already been fulfilled - all those that were to occur in the years intervening between that date and this. I therefore advised the officer to do all in his power to prepare himself for the events that were still to come, though they seem to him nearly impossible; so that if he indeed should rise to a position of great power and responsibility, he would have made good use of the prediction by fitting himself to occupy it well.”

“But how was the father able to prophesy in this manner?” asked the Magian.

“One can only say in reply,” answered the Shepherd, “that when the Ego is freed from the physical body his perceptions are much clearer, so that as soon as the father was dead he may easily have foreseen events of which during life he was quite ignorant. Evidently at the moment of death his thoughts turned to his son, and he may have come in the first place merely with the intention of announcing the death and so saving his son from a shock. But when, liberated from the burden of the flesh, he turned his more penetrating vision upon his son, he at once saw certain important events impending over him, and forgot his original purpose in the urgent necessity of warning him to prepare himself for these. The natural perceptive power of the Ego was probably stimulated by his affection for the object of the prophecy.”

“In some cases, too”, remarked the Vagrant, “pictures of important events coming to any person may be seen in the aura of that person, even without any special stimulation. I remember the Shepherd meeting one day in the street a poorly-dressed little girl whom he had never seen before - ”

“Whom I have never seen since,” interjected the Shepherd.

“You tell the facts,” said the Vagrant, and the Shepherd proceeded:

“In that momentary encounter I knew that, poor as she then appeared, she would marry a great commercial magnate, and become one of the richest inhabitants of her native city. On another occasion, while sitting waiting in a train at a terminus, I saw three young fellows pass the window of the carriage, and knew instantly that he who walked in the middle would presently go out to a certain colony, commit a murder and be executed or lynched for it. A piece of knowledge entirely useless, for I knew nothing whatever of the man, and could not even speak his language; nor do I know that his fate would have been evitable, even if I could have warned him, and he had chosen to listen to me. One often gets such apparently purposeless glimpses of the future of others, so it is evident that no special revelation need be assumed in the case described in the story which we have just heard. We may assume that the causes which must inevitably produce what is foreseen have already been set in motion, so that all that is seen is the logical outcome of what has been done in the past.”

“Many years ago,” said Ithuriel, “in one of the principal cities of America, there lived a young man, the pupil of a professor of music who was organist in the cathedral. It was the young man's duty to assist the professor in the service, train the choir boys, and to play the organ, if for any reason the professor should happen to be absent. It was his custom on the way to service to call at the home of his teacher, and they would go on to the church together. On the day of the occurrence of this story, the young man stopped for him a little later than usual, rang the bell, and the door was opened by the butler who said that his master had already gone to the cathedral. But at that moment they both saw him on the stairs and they thought that he had returned for some reason. The young organist sprang up the steps to greet him, and as he did so the professor said to him, in a tone loud enough for them both to hear: ‘I want you to play for me this morning.’ The young man replied: ‘Certainly,’ and extended his arm to shake hands, when to his astonishment the figure of his friend faded into the wall. At first he was so astounded that he could not speak, but was soon able to question the butler, who of course corroborated what the young man had seen and heard. The latter rushed off to the cathedral to see if he could get some light on what had happened. On entering the choir-loft he found that the service had already begun and the Te Deum was just finishing. He saw his professor fall forward against the keys of the organ; some of those present carried the old man to an adjoining room, and the young organist slipped into his place at the organ and finished the service; then he learned that his teacher was dead from heart failure. The young organist told his story (which was corroborated by the butler) and the shock to him was so great that he was ill for a long time.”

Ithuriel then asked the Shepherd if it were probable that the Ego of the old man deserted the body some time previous to the moment of death, and that the purely physical consciousness had carried on the body for a little time. He replied:

“That would hardly be possible. After all, the moment when the Ego leaves the body is the moment of death, and there is no reason to suppose any deviation from the ordinary rule in this case. It seems probable that the Ego foresaw the approaching death, and therefore arranged that his duty should be carried on. The entire phenomenon might easily have been produced by some friendly onlooker, but it is most likely that the Ego himself attended to the business.”

“I will narrate a similar story of help from the other side,” said the Fakir. “A good lady in K., a nervous patient, psychic as people of her class often are, was once relieved of considerable pain by an old gentleman of the next world whom she saw bending over her at night - saw so distinctly that she said she would recognise him anywhere. I showed her a picture of Mr Sinnett, whose book on Mesmerism I had read, but she would have none of him. Then the matter dropped and was forgotten - as far as I was concerned. A few weeks later I happened to lend her a book of mine - The Idyll of the White Lotus. It had a dainty cloth wrapper forming a sort of pocket on the inside of each cover. Inside the flap thus formed, a loose picture without card-board of HPB with the Colonel and the wonder-basket - you know it, I suppose - had strayed. I noticed it and took it out, when my good lady literally pounced upon it - a way these psychics have - exclaiming: ‘There is my old gentleman.’ This was in 1899.”

“Well, as others have spoken about superphysical helpers,” said the Fiddler, “I will speak of my own experience in which a superphysical entity needed help from one down here. It was in this wise: Some years ago I was staying with a friend in Surrey, who was interested in Spiritualism. I joined her in a few experiments; I then tried a few by myself, more out of fun and curiosity than the desire for serious investigation. One day I was amusing myself alone in the drawing-room with a device for getting messages spelled out - a penny suspended on a piece of cotton inside an empty tumbler. The thing began to get violently agitated, and I asked: ‘Who is there?’ A name was rapped out. (I forget the name now.) I asked: ‘What do you what?’ There was no answer, but a great trembling of the string, as if of emotion. So I continued: ‘Are you in trouble?’ The answer came at once: ‘Yes’. ‘Are you a Theosophist?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Do you know HPB?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Are you dead or alive?’ No answer. I repeated this, but could get no further. ‘Are you in trouble?’ Then the thing rapped out: ‘Go to sleep, and you will help me.’ So I promptly went up to my room, and slept deeply for two or three hours. Remembering nothing when I awoke, I put the whole thing aside as a probable freak of my own sub-conscious self. Some weeks after, I happened to be at the TS Headquarters in London, and I bethought me of my friend of the tumbler, and asked the Secretary if there happened to be such a person on the members' list (mentioning his name). No, she thought not. However, she would consult the list of provincial members if I would wait. There she found his name, amongst those of the Hull Branch. It happened that I was due in Hull shortly afterwards, to fulfil an engagement with the Hallé Band under Richter there. Amongst the orchestra were several TS members, and so the artists' room was turned into a Theosophical meeting-place. Chatting with the President of the Lodge, I asked him about the member whose name had come to me in such a queer way. On hearing the name he became all eagerness to know more: ‘Poor fellow, one of our best and most devoted members - disappeared suddenly a year ago, and no one has been able to trace him since.’ I gave him the few details I had gathered; but I never heard the end of the story.”

“As we have come down to helping on the physical plane, I make myself bold to speak,” said the Epistemologist. “One evening, after I had given a lecture, a young man and his wife came to me and asked if I could do anything for them in their difficult circumstances. They related how she was the subject of some invisible and ‘psychic’ interference. Being a little clairvoyant at times, she was able to see some ‘evil spirits’ who were constantly threatening her, and trying to impel her to do things against her will. She dared scarcely take up a knife, for when she did so these beings would try to make her cut her throat with it. She was near the time of child-birth, and it may have been that her mind was in a somewhat unstable condition - about that I do not know. But when she and her husband, who was also to a slight extent clairvoyant, faced these entities and asserted that the attempt to injure her could not be successful against their wills, the entities only laughed mockingly and, holding up before her the child that was to be born, threatened that if they could not cause her injury they would at least do it to the child - a threat which disturbed her very much. I promised to call at their house, or write, next evening; for it occurred to me to consult a certain medium whom I knew well. In any case I should have visited them to try a few arts of magnetisation which I has learned years before when studying mesmerism. The next day I went to see the medium, and the spirit-friend whom I well knew soon came. After my relating the case, the spirit friend explained to me several things which I was to explain in turn to the young people, and also told me to magnetise certain things to be used in particular ways. I was told that another spirit-friend, whom I also knew - a man who had lived in one of the earlier races, and was exceedingly powerful - would accompany me to the house. In the evening, I visited the gentleman and his wife, and explained to them that it was quite impossible for these evil beings to injure the child since birth and death are specially protected conditions. I then magnetised a cross which the lady was always to wear, a cloth which was to be laid upon her pillow at night, and lastly a chair in which she was to sit whenever she felt or saw the presence of the undesirable entities. These things were not to be touched by any one but herself. It must have been two months later when I saw them again, and then I was told that the day after my visit the entities came once more. The lady sat down in the chair, and the evil spirits came very near to her; but it seemed as though behind them there was another spirit, very powerful. He seemed to let them come near.”

“They did come near then?” interjected the Shepherd.

“Oh, yes”, replied the Epistemologist. “But it seemed as though there were some purpose in allowing them to come very close; perhaps they became a little materialised, for presently there seemed to be a scuffle, the influences vanished, and the lady was never in the least troubled by them afterwards.”

“What was their reason for their coming?” asked the Shepherd.

“I don't know,” answered the Epistemologist. “It appeared to me pure malice.”

“I never came across a case of pure malice,” said the Shepherd; “well, out of revenge perhaps - this is a very rare case - it arises probably from jealousy.”

“It is curious in connexion with this case,” continued the Epistemologist, “that, while I was conscious of my body being frequently used, on this occasion I felt no force coming through. It may be there was very little resistibility in my body, to this particular quality of force. But I have great faith in the spirit-friend I consulted, though that one failed me once or twice, as nearly always happens sooner or later. She told me, for example, that Madame Blavatsky was now reincarnated in a female body in Germany - which was not correct - although she knew HPB in the inner world, and even did some work under her.”

“That is not unusual,” said the Shepherd. “It is quite possible for people to work together on the astral plane without one knowing where his fellow-worker is incarnated. The statement that HPB was thus reborn was widely circulated, and your spirit-friend evidently took it as correct and passed it on to you.”

“Yes,” assented the Epistemologist, “perhaps I expected too much. But I had better tell the incident. Some time ago I was much troubled as to what I should do in connexion with some of my work for the Theosophical movement, so I asked my friend to make an appointment for me to meet HPB on a certain night, which was done. I expected to bring the memory through, but it happened that something occurred on that day to interrupt my sleep, and nothing came through. However, a day or two before, I think it was the morning after the arrangement, as I was sitting quiet, I obtained what I believed was the answer by HPB to my question. It was a characteristic answer, not lacking in strength on account of its length. I was first called names, which I value highly though they are usually considered unkind, and then asked why I wasted her time instead of deciding for myself. But my question was answered somehow, and I knew it quite as well as if it had been framed in words. It gave satisfaction to me and cleared away my doubts. I would not ask my spirit-friend anything about the interview, although informed of her presence, because I wished to lean only on myself. My friend afterwards took up some work under HPB, I was told, and sometimes I think, though that is little better than guessing, that the service to me led up to it.”



In the Twilight (13)

first published in the Theosophist, April, 1910, p930-931 reset 12

“The following incident,” said the Archivarius, “is interesting simply because it was carefully verified; it happened in Budapest, where I was staying for two months in October 1905. I had gone to help in forming the Hungarian Section, and I had taken rooms there with an English friend, Miss Abbott. On Sunday evening, October 29th, I was expecting a telegram with news about the Italian Convention; one of the members had promised to send me a telegram on that Sunday evening to let me know how matters had gone and what had been arranged. A telegram from Italy, sent about 7 pm, should have arrived that same evening. We waited until 11 pm, and then knew it was useless to expect anything, as the house-door was shut. I waited all the next day and finally went to bed feeling that something was wrong. I went to sleep, and I found myself in full consciousness walking in the Kerepesi-ut, looking for a Library, but I did not know the exact address. I saw standing at the side of the foot-way a one-horse drosky; it was on my right side; on the left, apparently waiting, was a fair-haired coachman with a small close round hat on his head. I noticed the hat, for it was not the one usually worn by the coachmen in Budapest. I went up to him, and asked him the way to the Library. He took off his hat and answered and then added: ‘Gnädige Frau (gracious lady), you are being searched for all over the place; a telegram has arrived for you, which cannot be delivered as it is incorrectly addressed.’ I thanked him, and said I would go and see about it, and went on my way. I do not know if I arrived at the Library or not. I awoke on Tuesday morning with this incident so vividly impressed on my mind that I determined to verify it, and when I went to breakfast with my friend I said that as soon as Herr Nagy arrived at 11 am I should ask him to take me to the General Post Office. He came, and we started; on going towards the Post Office in the tram, I was surprised to see a coachman with the small round hat on; on arriving at the GPO we went to the Chief of the Telegraph department, and Herr Nagy explained that I had come to see if a telegram had arrived for me on Sunday night, October 29th. He took down his register, and looked up the telegrams for Sunday night, and there was the telegram to my name, but the address was wrong, and it had not been delivered for that reason; he gave us an order for it, and Herr Nagy went to the office upstairs and came back with the telegram triumphantly, saying that the men complained that they had been searching all day, five of them going in different directions to find me. The telegram was from Italy, and had been sent off on “Sunday night about 7 pm.”

“The following comes from a friend abroad,” said the Vagrant, and read: ‘A few years ago, on being better after having been a little unwell for a fortnight, I had this experience. Going into a room nearly dark I noticed that from the side of one of my physical hands a counterpart hand, corresponding in form, was protruded, or left behind, as if floating in the air, when the physical hand was moved side-ways. Nearly the whole of a counterpart hand was protruded. It seemed of a flame-like nature but kept its outline perfectly. It was principally of a yellowish color and was in a constant state of undulatory motion in longitudinal lines, like flowing waves, minute bright sparks occurring occasionally in places. When the physical hand was kept still the counterpart floated slowly back and disappeared inside of it, but came out again when the physical hand was again moved.’”



In the Twilight (14)

first published in the Theosophist, May, 1910, p1098-1100

The Vagrant said: “I am going to begin this evening. I will tell you about the first occasion on which I saw my Master. I wrote an account of the event once in a pamphlet, but it never appeared in any publication that has lasted. Soon after I joined the Society, it happened that I was in England at a time when HPB was in Fontainebleau, France, where The Voice of the Silence was written. She wrote me to go over and join her, which I did with joy. She was living in a delightful old house out in the country, and I was put in a bed-room near hers, a door connecting the two. One night I awoke suddenly owing to an extraordinary feeling that there was in the room. The air was all throbbing, and it seemed as if an electric machine was playing there; the whole room was electric. I was so astonished (for it was my first experience of the kind) that I sat up in bed, wondering what on earth could be happening. It was quite dark, and in those days I was not a bit clairvoyant. At the foot of the bed a luminous figure appeared, and stood there from half a minute to a minute. It was the figure of a very tall man, and I thought, from pictures I had seen, it was HPB's Master. Near him was another figure, more faintly luminous, which I could not clearly distinguish. The brilliant figure stood quite still, looking at me, and I was so utterly astounded that I sat perfectly still, simply looking at Him; I did not even think of saluting Him. So I remained motionless and then gradually the figure vanished. Next day I told HPB what had happened, and she replied: ‘Yes, Master came to see me in the night, and went into your room to have a look at you.’ This was my first experience of seeing a Master; it must have been clearly a case of materialisation, for as I have said, I was not in the least clairvoyant at the time.”

“That was a phenomenon on the physical plane,” said the Magian; “Tell us your earliest psychic experience.”

“One of my earliest psychic experiences occurred at Brighton,” the Vagrant smilingly replied, “when Mrs Cooper-Oakley and I went down there to stay with HPB a few days. She was not well at the time. There was not much room in the house, so Mrs Oakley and I shared a large attic-like room. After we had retired, a great grey eye appeared to us in turn; it came, floated over the beds and glared at us, first to my bed, then to hers, and then vanished. After it had gone, one leg of Mrs Oakley's bed lifted up in the air and went down with a bang, twice. I heard a voice calling me: ‘Annie, my bed is banging.’ Then the leg of my bed did the same thing, and I said: ‘Isabel, my bed is banging too’. We spoke to HPB next morning about these rather disconcerting experiences, but could get no explanation from her. She was only playing little tricks on us with her favorite elemental. She also used to keep a little elemental under her writing-table to guard her papers in her absence, and she always knew if any one had been there looking at them. On one occasion it hemmed some towels for her, as the President-Founder has related in the Old Diary Leaves. It took very long stitches, but it sewed better than she could at any rate.”

“Tell us something more of HPB”, cried a voice.

“In the days at Lansdowne Road, there was a young man of about seventeen, a relative of the Master KH, who used to come to visit HPB in his astral body. She was very fond of him. He was nick-named the Rice King, because once when there was a famine in India, and he was suffering intensely because of the misery he saw around him, he tried to materialise some rice in a storehouse. But not being an expert at this kind of thing, or knowing how to use the forces, he dematerialised it instead, to his great sorrow and dismay. He took an interest in Europeans, and in HPB in particular. She was very fond of him, but he used to exasperate her exceedingly by going to her writing-desk, and fumbling over all her papers, to her intense disgust, asking what those European things were. One night, I remember, he asked her permission to ‘stump up and down the stairs and frighten the chelas.’”

“Well, go on, we want more of HPB.”

“I dare say you know that at séances where ‘apports’ take place the guides have frequently been asked to bring a newspaper from some distant place, which could not be there at the time of the séance by any ordinary means of transit, train or boat. This is one of the tests which it seems to be impossible to give. There is always some difficulty about it, though the spooks themselves do not seem to know in what the difficulty consists. HPB once handed me some papers she had just been writing, to look over, in which there was a long quotation from a paper printed in India, about what had happened at a garden party. I noted the date and saw it could not possibly have arrived yet from India; I pointed this out to her, and said: ‘HPB how did you get this?’ She said: ‘I copied it.’ But I told her it was out of a paper that had not arrived; it could not have been copied. She said: ‘Oh nonsense, it could.’ I noted the date of the paper and, when the time came for the Indian mail to arrive, I went down to the India Office the next day and asked to look at the Indian papers. I turned to the page from which she had quoted, but found nothing there. Then remembering that when reading astrally, sometimes figures are apt to be inverted, I turned over to another page which it would have been if read upside down, and there was the paragraph, word for word as she had given it. I went back and said to her in a mischievous way: ‘HPB I saw that paragraph of yours in the paper to-day, and it is quite correct.’, ‘Yes, here it is.’ she replied, tossing the paper over to me, a copy she had just received, thinking effectually to silence me. I said: ‘Oh yes, but you had not received it at the time you made the quotation,’ whereupon she only muttered some impolite expression.”



In the Twilight (15)

first published in the Theosophist, June, 1910, p1185-1190

On the gathering of the usual circle Ithuriel read the following:

“Quite recently, while dwelling in thought upon some of the problems of evil in our world - those specially arising from greed and selfishness - my mind turned, by a rather unusual succession of ideas, to the subject of Avîchi, lost souls, and the eighth sphere. Suddenly there arose before me an astral picture of a rocky cliff, much resembling a precipitous pass in the mountains of Switzerland, except that there was no beautiful surrounding landscape, nothing but rocky waste and endless space. In an isolated niche of the rocks I saw a huge creature, with a sort of half-animal, half-human form. At first glance I thought it to be an elemental - sometimes one sees such in astral plane work, and supposed that there must be something to be done in connexion with it, perhaps to help some person who was frightened by it, or to assist in disintegrating it, as the case might be. But it was soon evident that the vision was being shown me by a higher plane teacher, one to whom I owe a profound debt of gratitude for the instruction he has so often given me. He pointed out that I was being shown one of the types of the disintegrating personalities, which are cut off from the Ego. He suggested that I should try to place myself slightly in touch with its consciousness, in order that I might understand what had led to such a condition of existence. The thought of uniting one's consciousness, even for only a moment, with that of such a creature, created within one a feeling of deep repulsion, but on continuing to regard it the feeling passed, and one began to sense a growing interest in it; one soon felt riveted to the spot by its wild yet penetrating glance - a glance that had in it an unholy sense of power, yet at the same time expressing helpless mute despair. Even though one's consciousness was unable in any recognised way to mix with that of such a being, one felt in some mysterious way a part of it (though quite separate), and able not only to analyse what it was feeling, but also to know what was passing in its mind. Presently there began to spread before me a long series of pictures disclosing the past lives of the creature, those lived at the time when it was still attached to the Ego. One incarnation after another was passed in purely selfish living, and they were also mixed with crimes of the lowest nature; as time went on the Ego was subjected to some severe tests as to its capacity to indulge in or resist evil. These were mostly lives in Atlantis, and the man entered into some of the degrading orgies of black magic; in fact he often led them as a priest of the black art, at the time when the use of human sacrifice was prevalent, as well as magic of the sensual order too horrible to realise. He did not respond to any opportunities offered to turn to the Path of Spiritual Progress, thus delaying his advancement, and so degrading the personality as to lead it directly on to the path of final extinction.”

“It seemed very merciful that now and then kârmic deities would allow a life to be passed where he would be brought into contact with ascetics or priests, who tried to teach him the error of his ways - all to no purpose. At one time it was permitted him to receive teaching from even a Great One, when He was preaching, who told him that if he still persisted in evil, there would come a time when, by natural law, the divine part of him must of necessity be severed from the lower, and as a result he would be forced to wander as a soulless creature, perhaps only able to reincarnate once or twice more, and even then in a most degraded body, as only such could express his depravity; then finally it would be necessary to transport him astrally from this planet into complete isolation, where amid vain struggles to ‘keep alive’ and in great suffering he would at last ‘go out’. But the man would not listen, nor would he even believe the teaching given, but became even still more desperate and depraved. Sometimes when the memory of this warning would come to him to haunt him, he would harden himself deliberately and rebelliously against it; an inconceivably demoniacal look of hatred would pass over his face, and he would entertain feelings of revenge towards the Great One who had so compassionately tried to assist him to a better life. It now seemed practically hopeless that the man would even turn to the Path of Progress, for the lives grew more bestially evil than ever, lower and lower, downwards and outwards, until one could see that at last he had lost even the sense of right or wrong. It is at this time that one suspects the separation from the higher must have taken place. Apparently he must have had a sort of sub-conscious realisation that he was now ceasing to live, for he began in a desperate way to search out victims to vampirise, drawing their vitality to help him go on; sometimes he was even attached to animals; perhaps in this way he was able to obsess the dreadful elemental form he now wore. Then there followed soon after this a time when he was transported from this planet of ever increasing life and was carried to the astral plane of the moon, a disintegrating planet, to a part of it that is cut off entirely from any connexion whatever with this earth, and the place where he was when shown in the vision. During the long ages of practising black magic and of evil doing he had made himself strongly vitalised lower bodies, and probably did not realise when he was cut off from the higher part of himself - the Ego. In that strongly built lower form with its permanent atoms, he was able to function sufficiently well during the time yet left to him to exist on this plane, and in it had stored up a large amount of will of the baser kind. One would naturally suppose that such a body would be surrounded with an aura in a violent state of agitation, but this was not the case; on the contrary, the astral and mental bodies were scarcely recognisable as such, and looked heavy, sluggish, ill-defined and viscous. When he used his will, there oozed from him polluting murky matter of a most objectionable kind, and one felt as though one were looking into a dark cave, where some foul slimy monster breathed out a miasmatic effluvium.”

“Now let us turn to the Ego that had previously for so long a time been attached to this creature. There has been confusion in the minds of some concerning the state known as Avîchi, and the place called the eighth sphere. It is the Ego alone that can experience Avîchi (except in very exceptional cases where it is possible for a personality to experience it for a brief space of time) and it is a state of consciousness that can be realised in any place. But the eighth sphere is a place to which a disintegrating personality is exiled, when it is cut off from the Ego entirely, and at present we know that it is, as before stated, a region in the astral plane of the moon. Generally only a very small part of the true Ego of the man is put down into the mental, astral and physical planes when he is in incarnation in the physical body; in proportion as the ear is to the whole physical body, so is the small part of the Ego generally put down into the personality, as compared to the Ego itself. The latter remains on his own plane, the causal, and his only touch with the planes below him is through the experiences of the personality in which are the permanent atoms. Since up to this time the personality mentioned had only been experiencing lives in which virtues had been absent, the permanent atoms could only express low and animal tendencies. But it is not so much that these tendencies, (natural to the early stages of evolution) are in these atoms, but that there is a complete absence of the opposite virtues in the causal body; consequently the animal below has nothing from above to counteract it.”

“Now in the case cited, the Ego had been quite indifferent to the experiences of the personality during the earlier stages, and when the time came at which the personality was indulging in magic and crimes of an intellectual nature, he began to take more interest in them and even to share in them; from this he developed the evil qualities possible to an Ego - such as love of power, intellectual pride and selfishness, etc. Then suddenly he realised that the personality had become so vile that it was in danger of being cut off, and he then began to put more and more of the better part of himself down to turn it to better things; but it was too late; for not only was the personality cut off, but the Ego lost all of himself that had been put down, and since his only touch with the outer world was through that part of himself, he was plunged into Avîchi, maimed and weakened, with no further progress possible for a long time to come. We can conceive the condition of Avîchi as being analogous to that of Devachan, in that both are, in a certain sense, a separated condition of consciousness; the difference between the two lying in the experiences of both - also in the events that have made either possible. Devachan is a state of unity and love, resulting from good; Avîchi is a state of separateness and selfishness resulting from evil. Devachan is a state cut off from evil; Avîchi, from good.”

“Yes”, said the Shepherd, “the two states are as poles on the lower mental plane. An Ego, who has allowed his mental body to be soiled in the ways you describe, loses the greater part of it, not quite all, and through the part retained suffers the terrible loneliness of Avîchi, ‘the waveless’. He has cut himself off from the current of evolution, from the mighty life-wave of the Logos, and he feels himself as outside that life. When he at last returns to incarnation, he has to take birth far down the ladder of evolution, among savages. It is even possible that he may not be able to find a body low enough to act as a vehicle, and may have to wait for another cycle.”

“There is, is there not?” asked one of the circle, “an Avîchi of a yet more awful kind, mentioned in a letter of the Master KH?”

“Yes”, replied the Shepherd. “There is another type of black magician, in outward appearance more respectable, yet really more dangerous because more powerful. His selfishness is more refined and not less unscrupulous. He aims at the acquisition of a higher and wider occult power, to be used always for his own gratification and advancement, to further his own ambition or gratify his own revenge. To gain this, he adopts the most rigid asceticism, as regards mere fleshly desires, and starves out the grosser particles of his astral body. But the centre of his energy is none the less in his personality, and the Ego loses the strength thus woven into the lower mental vehicle. His Avîchi is a long and terrible one, for he gains the isolation at which he aimed.”

“We know” remarked Ithuriel, “that the crimes of the lower sort, indulged in by the savage or the ordinary undeveloped man, do little, if any harm, to the causal body, because they find their natural expression in the lower bodies, on the lower mental, astral and physical planes. But when a man has reached a stage such as that of the black magician of whom you speak, one having great mental power, pride, and selfishness of an intellectual sort, then there is a certain amount of harm to the causal body, because these lower qualities build into it matter that is not plastic, and of a deep orange color, which erects a sort of separating impenetrable wall; in so far as the individual consciousness of the man is concerned, it is isolated, constricted, and selfish. When the personality is at last cut off, the Ego must dwell in his awful isolation - in Avîchi - until that separating matter or body around him has disintegrated, worn away by ages of time.”

“It is well to remember,” concluded the Shepherd, “that only the most persistent and deliberate efforts can bring out these results. It is the determined choice to be selfish, and the inevitable consequence of that choice.”

“Yes,” said the Vagrant. “Nature gives us our desire, whatever it may be. And at last the sentence goes out: ‘Ephraim is joined to his idols: let him alone’. And alone he is left.”



In the Twilight (16)

first published in the Theosophist, July, 1910, p1348-1350

“I had a prophetic dream,” said the Brâhmana, “of which I do not understand the rationale. A friend of mine in government service was transferred to B.--- a place he very much disliked. One night, after he had been speaking to me of this appointment, I dreamed that he had been appointed to a place I will call C. I told my dream to my friend, who answered that he would most certainly very much like to be transferred to C., but that he had no chance of being appointed to it. The dream, however, came true, for when my friend had been at B. for only two or three months, incidents occurred which led to his transfer to C. Now, what I cannot understand is why I should dream of a matter of this sort, in which I took no special interest, and in which I was not concerned.”

“The Ego,” said the Vagrant, “constantly foresees coming events, and may be said normally to foresee the near future. But, at the present stage of evolution, his knowledge is not readily impressed on the physical brain. When the brain happens to be in a receptive condition, some of this knowledge, normally possessed by the Ego, is impressed on it. These astral happenings need not be of any importance, nor related to the clairvoyant; they only happen to be taking place at the time when the physical condition enables them to be recorded. If a part of a dirty window is cleaned, a person behind the window would see, through the cleaned spot, anything which happened to pass by outside. The things would not ‘mean’ anything to him; he would see them because they were there. The brain passes through a number of physiological conditions, some of which are favorable and some unfavorable to the transmission of impressions from the higher planes. A little extra fatigue, a little fever, may provide the conditions, by slightly increasing the sensitiveness of the brain.”

“Looking at the matter from outside the physical plane”, remarked the Shepherd, “the wonder is not that people bring so little through into their physical consciousness, but that they bring through anything at all. So many conditions have to be present to make it possible. A fairly common experience of psychic people is to see the events which some one is relating to them; they often see more than the narrator relates, because they see the thought-forms he is generating. Sometimes, even, they see more than the narrator himself knows.”

“I had once a curious dream”, said Serena. “I dreamed that I was in a house, and I was a man lecturing in the upper storey; but at the same time I was a woman, talking about Theosophy to a small circle of people downstairs. I was both these people at the same time.”

“You were probably neither of them”, said the Shepherd with a smile, “but were helping both of them, and so thoroughly identifying yourself with them that you felt yourself to be each of them. Sometimes, when working astrally, one may get a glimpse of some previous incarnation of one's own, but if that had been the case here, the difference of dress would have shown that the picture belonged to a period other than the present. Some people do very thoroughly identify themselves with a person they are helping on the astral plane. I remember a case where a helper, sent to an explosion, felt himself blown up into the air like the real victim. A great many years ago, I found myself in three places at once: I was standing in my bed-room, leaning against the foot of my bed, when I became aware that I was in a temple; while I was both in the room and in the temple, I found myself walking round the temple outside.”

“Once at Avenue Road”, said the Vagrant, “I was lying in bed in my own room; still conscious of this, I found myself in the Ashrama of the Master, and the double consciousness gave me such a sense of unreality, that I asked the Master whether I was really with Him or was only making an imaginary picture. He said no, that I was really there, and that later on I should find it very convenient to be able to keep my consciousness simultaneously in several places.”

“You can hold a meeting here”, remarked the Shepherd, “and at the same time put a question to the Master at Shigatse, and hear His answer.”

“One is centred in the causal body on these occasions,” said the Vagrant, “and may have various bodies working at different places, animated by one's own consciousness. The consciousness is one, and the separation only exists in the spheres of the lower bodies.”

“Or,” proceeded the Shepherd, “while sitting in this chair, you may, by an internal operation, produce yourself on another planet, and your consciousness will then be in two places, separated by millions of miles.”

“Mr Leadbeater,” said the Scholar, “when looking at the future community, ‘got out the way,’ as he called it, and allowed an Ego there to speak through his body and answer my questions. That seems to me even queerer, for that Ego was speakings so to say, at a point several hundred years hence. Is time as unreal as distance? And he also described the appearance of a man sitting in a particular seat in the second row on a certain occasion in one of the temples.”

“If you see a thing at all, you see it in its details,” replied the Vagrant. “You may fancy a thing vaguely, but if you see it, you see it with its characteristics. It is metaphysically true that what we call the past, present and future all co-exist now, and there is a consciousness which sees things simultaneously instead of in succession. To us things appear as successive which must be ever present to the Logos, and far far below Him future and past may be seen as mutually re-active. Alike by the Vedântin and in the scholastic writings of Musalman metaphysicians, it is seen that in eternity all things exist simultaneously which, in manifestation, appear successively.”



In the Twilight (17)

first published in the Theosophist, Oct, 1910, p116 - 120

“I have here a rather interesting incident,” said the Vagrant, “in a letter from England. The writer is a member and is sensitive and very clever. She says:”

“On the night of Friday, May 6th, I was sitting alone in the drawing-room of my house from a little after 11 pm. I had of course seen a late bulletin of the King's state, and knew that grave fears were entertained by his physicians on his account. I was not however consciously thinking of him; but was occupied with quite other matters. Suddenly it seemed to me that a loud and piercing cry rang through the room; I must have lost consciousness for a moment, for I had the sensation of coming back with difficulty, and found that both hands were clenched tightly over my heart which was beating to suffocation. I had a vague idea of going to the window to see if the cry came from outside, but, as I thought of it, I heard a little and thin toneless voice say distinctly: ‘The King is dead.’ I sat on motionless, and in about eight or ten minutes (as nearly as I can judge) the clock on the landing struck twelve. That clock was five minutes faster than the time by the Greenwich ball which regulates all the town clocks here, and so the time when I heard the cry would be 11:45 pm. I heard no more loud sounds, but while I was undressing was consciousness of a great psychic turmoil around me. When I lay down in bed I found great difficulty in remaining in my body, which grew cold and faint, while my heart beat so irregularly that at times I thought it would stop entirely. When at last I slept, I was conscious of a sense of acute distress, and felt that I dared not get far away from my body lest I should not be able to return. When the maid came in with hot water in the morning, I waited for the words I knew she would speak; they were: ‘The King is dead?’”

“One would not be surprised,” commented the Vagrant, “if many felt some of the vibrations which would be caused by the emotions of thousands of people, as the news spread. Besides the Passing of a great King stirs the astral world, as the surges of popular feeling roll through it. I remember that the great waves of love and sorrow which rolled out of millions of hearts to Queen Victoria, after her death, awaked her from the unconsciousness which succeeded, as always, the leaving of the physical body. Probably the writer caught something of the surge of emotion in the crowd round Buckingham Palace. It is quite likely that during that second of unconsciousness she travelled to London and heard the announcement: ‘The King is dead’.”

“A sudden cry as an announcement of death is not at all uncommon,” said the Shepherd.

The conversation turned then on the various ways in which death was announced. Two ladies present told of different instances in which a white bird was seen flying out of the window when a person died. Reference was also made to the banshee; this, the Shepherd said, might be either a nature-spirit or a thought-form. At the Vagrant's request, he repeated the story of the death-warning that is given to his own family. It is as follows: An ancestor of his who went on a crusade, took with him his only son to win his spurs in the Holy Land. The lad was however killed in his first battle; and to the natural and intense grief felt by his father, was added a terrible anxiety about the fate of his son's soul, as he had died without receiving the last consolations of the Church. This so preyed on his mind, that he became a monk, and spent the rest of his life in prayer for two objects: firstly, for the soul of his son; and secondly, that no descendant of his should ever meet death unprepared. Since that date, the members of his family in the direct line have always heard a strange, mournful music before their deaths; this appears to be strains from the dirge that was played at the funeral of the Crusader's son. The Shepherd added that as he was the last of his name, and the death-warning did not seem to be given to collateral branches of the family, he was curious to l know what would happen after his own decease. It appeared to be in full vigor the last time he heard it, and calculated to run a long time yet; though how it was ‘worked’ he did not know.

The Vagrant related how when she and a companion were one day sitting in her bungalow at Benares, they heard a carriage drive up to the door; but no announcement following, they went to see who it was, and found no carriage was there. It was about eight or nine in the evening. This experience recalls to mind the stories of the coaches that in various English families are said to drive up to the door previous to the death of any member of them; but in this instance no death, and no special event of any kind, occurred as a sequel. There was also a ghostly bull in the garden, who would sometimes appear and charge at people, causing them to bolt hurriedly.

“What happened if they didn't bolt?” enquired the Shepherd.

“But they always did!” replied the Vagrant.

The Shepherd demurred: “But surely, once certain that it really was an astral bull, and not a physical one, the people should have stayed; it would have been so interesting.”

“I know of a man who acted on that principle,” observed a member. “He built himself a house and arranged his sleeping compartment on the first storey; the first night he went there to sleep, an apparition warned him not to do so, or harm would come to him. So he fled to the ground-floor. This happened for several nights. Finally one night he refused to leave his bed-room at the ghost's behest, and went to sleep there. He awoke with a tremendous jerk and a start, to find himself in bed, but out in the middle of the street, whither he and his bed had been mysteriously removed in the dead of night.”

The Vagrant spoke of the various efforts that were being made in the sixties and seventies to reach people and arouse them to a sense of the existence of the superphysical. At a village in Germany some people received teachings along Christian lines superphysically; they had initiations of sorts, and used to receive a kind of stigmata on the backs of their hands or on the arms, such as a cross made in little red dots, as though by pin-pricks; they had to think about this, till it appeared; it was very painful, and evidently it was the action of the intense thought that caused the blood to ooze through the skin.

“That is something along the lines of the training the Jesuits go through,” said the Scholar. “They have to build up a picture mentally - say of the Passion - but in the minutest detail. They place a figure in a certain place, and in a certain attitude, and clothe it in a certain way; and so proceed, till the whole picture lives in their mind.”

The Shepherd told a remarkable experience that Demeter had had, when only six or seven years old. “His mother belonged to a noble family in the north of Europe; and while staying in her ancestral castle he had several times seen an apparition that haunted it - a white and shining figure of a beautiful lady. He was not at all frightened, but on the contrary ardently desired a closer acquaintance with her. One moonlight-night when he was lying in bed, the ghostly lady came into his room, and crossing over to where he lay, she lifted him up bodily in her arms. He admits he felt a qualm; but it flashed into his mind that she was going to take him to where some buried treasure, that was said to be in the castle, was concealed, and he determined to keep quiet; unfortunately, the ghost had left the door open when she came in, and a nurse or governess, happening to pass outside and catching sight of her, uttered a bloodcurdling scream; the ghost dropped the boy on the floor, and vanished, leaving him to lament passionately the lost opportunity. He and his sister were most remarkable children,” the Shepherd added; “before he was eleven, they had written a description of one of the evolutions that is taking place in the interior of the earth, which they had visited. This book was also illustrated by them with pictures which really conveyed a very good idea of that inner world.”

The Vagrant related a psychic experience in which Aurora had certainly displayed the most cool courage. “One night in bed he became aware of a man standing by his bed-side and staring at him, with a most malevolent expression. Aurora asked him what he wanted, and received no answer; he then requested his ghostly visitor to go away, with no better result. ‘Well, if you won't speak, and won't go away, I shall go to sleep,’ said Aurora; and turning round in bed, with his back to the ghost, he went to sleep. Personally I should prefer always to keep my face to such a visitant,” added the Vagrant.

To Aurora it also happened that one day as he was riding down a ravine, he met a ghostly horse and rider, and his own horse shied violently. Aurora had not recognised the unsubstantial nature of the figures confronting him, and, being vexed, struck his horse smartly. His horse sprang forward, and, to his astonishment, he passed clean through the other horseman and his steed.



In the Twilight (18)

first published in the Theosophist, Nov, 1910, p285-293

“In 1905,” said the Superintendent, “my friend Mr PV Râmsvâmi Râju, a barrister at law, and Mr Conjîveram Shrînivâsâ Chârlu, who learned Samskrit pandit, set out together on a pilgrimage to the Himâlayan range, where they wished to spend a few months. They travelled by train as far as the rails were laid, and then continued their journey on foot. They left their luggage behind them and took with them only a few necessaries in the way of food and clothing, with two servants to carry these things. They walked along the bank of the Ganges for more than a fortnight, resting at night wherever they could find any sort of shelter. The scenery was so magnificent that they hardly felt the fatigue of the journey. They had no difficulty with regard to food, for delicious fruits of many kinds were to be had for the taking, and the shepherd-boys whom they sometimes met would take nothing for the milk with which they supplied the travellers.”

“One morning as they pursued their way, they met a tall and majestic-looking man. They expected that in that lonely place he would stop and speak to them; but he took no notice of them. He walked past them, broke the ice, plunged into the sacred water of the Ganges, and turned and was about to go on his way. Mr Râju, being filled with curiosity about this stranger, went up to him and asked a few questions as to the way in front of them. In reply the stranger said, ‘It will not be well for you to go much further; the foot of the rock which you see yonder should be your furthest limit.’”

“With these words he turned away, walked off very rapidly, and appeared to spring over the huge rock. Seeing this our friends ran after him, and tried with all their might to jump over the rock as the stranger had done, but could not. Examining the ground, they saw a ravine running along by the rock, so they followed this for some few miles. After a time they came to a shed, and as night was drawing on they decided to sleep in it, as they were very tired. They had at this time no food with them, and they did not know where to go in this apparent wilderness for fruit or milk. Just as they were lying down hungry, a stranger, as majestic as the man whom they had seen in the morning, entered the shed. He seemed very friendly, and soon brought them some milk and some fruit, and offered to help them in any way that they desired.”

“Suddenly the pandit felt so ill that he was unable to sit up with any ease. The new-comer, seeing this, went out, and soon returned bringing the juice of some herb, which he gave to the pandit and directed him to use it as a liniment. The pandit did as he was directed, and in a few minutes he found himself miraculously well again. Our friends satisfied their hunger and thirst, and then retired thankfully to rest.”

“Next morning they woke much refreshed, and after their morning ablutions they set out once more on their exploration. They walked on until their feet ached, and were casting about for a suitable place in which to sit down and rest, when they noticed a turning which seemed to be quite a frequented path. They at once followed this, and found that it led them to a beautiful pond, to which on all sides granite steps led down. The water was as clear as crystal, and our friends thankfully drank of it and also washed their feet and hands in it. Then the pandit, feeling rejuvenated, sat down and began to chant, and his chanting soon produced an unexpected result, for it attracted more attention than he had bargained for. A man with a golden complexion and long black hair came rushing in upon them, and peremptorily demanded an explanation of their intrusion. He would listen to no excuse, but told them that they were breaking the peace of this place, and that they must depart instantly.”

“Reluctant though they were to leave so beautiful a spot, they dared not disobey him, so they prepared to leave. In answer to their questions he told them that if they wished to know more about this place they must come there on a Shivarâtri day. Noticing as he spoke the fatigued appearance of the travellers, the stranger drew out from under his garment a root, and held it exposed to the sun. The exposure caused it to crumble into flour, which he gave them to eat, telling them that it would so satisfy their hunger that they would need no further food for two days. Before eating, our travellers attempted to wash their feet and hands in the pond, but were told by the stranger that they must pour the water only over their hands, and must not put their feet in it. They then ate the food which had been given to them, and with that and the life-giving water they felt ready for the return journey.”

“They walked on, conversing of the curious things they had seen, until at three o'clock in the afternoon they came across another shed on the southern bank of the Ganges, and decided to camp there for the night. Mr Râju, feeling much fatigued, retired to rest immediately and fell into a deep sleep. The pandit, however, not being yet ready to sleep, took his seat close to the river, and began to chant some texts from the Vedas. Once more his chanting produced results, for one of the recluses from the mountain appeared before him, and took his seat by his side. He told the pandit to go on chanting, and even asked him to recite certain specified portions. The chanting seemed to please him greatly, and when it was over he entered into conversation with the pandit.”

“The latter was expressing his delight at the beauty of nature and the glorious scenery around, referring especially to the wonderful mountain-peak which arose on the other side of the river, when the stranger, seeing that the pandit's eyes were constantly fixed upon this peak, asked him whether he would like to ascend it, so as to get a bird's-eye view of the surrounding country. Our friend, feeling that that peak was the abode of this curious community of which he had now seen three members, replied modestly that such an honor was too great for him to expect. The stranger, however, told him to close his eyes and recite the Gâyatri inaudibly. He did so, and when he opened his eyes again, he found himself on the summit of the peak, with his new friend.”

“The pandit described the view as beautiful beyond all words; and they spent a happy hour up there chanting and conversing. At the end of this time it was growing dark, and the stranger once more asked the pandit to close his eyes and recite the Gâyatri. When he reopened them he found himself again on the riverbank accompanied by the stranger. He might have believed that he had never left that place, but had fallen into a trance and travelled in his astral body, except for the fact that his friend the barrister had awakened during his absence, and come out in search of him, but could not find him. Upon this Mr Râju had been much perturbed, thinking that some wild animal had carried him away, and he ran about distracted, searching everywhere for his friend. Quite suddenly he saw him on the river bank, where he had already searched a dozen times. Overjoyed he rushed to meet him, questioning him eagerly as to where he had been.”

“Now when they were on the peak the stranger had asked the pandit to promise that he would not tell anyone of his experience, and so he now found himself in a difficulty, and looked to his new friend to know what he should do. The stranger, appreciating the awkwardness of the situation, gave him permission to tell his friend what had happened. This relation affected Mr Râja in the most extraordinary way; he became furiously jealous, and so angry that he actually accused his friend the pandit of ingratitude, and begged the stranger to extend to him the same privilege that he had so freely given to his friend. The stranger calmly replied that he must first destroy the râjasic part of his nature, and kill out curiosity to know about matters in which he had no concern.”

“During the conversation on the peak the stranger had asked the pandit whether he could make up his mind to spend the rest of his life with this community of ascetics, and had very strongly advised him to do so, telling him that if he lost this marvellously good opportunity which his karma had given to him, it was uncertain when anything like it would occur again. The pandit, however, was hardly prepared for this. He was versed only in book-lore, and tied down to a certain round of what he considered duties, the chief of which were owed, he said, to his own mother and to his friend and benefactor Mr Râju, who had helped him with all he required for twenty years, and to whose liberality he owed even the opportunity of this remarkable experience.”

“The stranger told him that duties of this nature were not of sufficient importance to be allowed to interfere with his taking an opportunity such as this. Furthermore, the stranger told him that he should have the power to see his mother whenever he thought of her, and he guaranteed that his friend should be guarded on his lonely journey and guided in safety to his home. The pandit, however, could not be moved from his idea of duty, and still maintained his refusal, to the distress of his friend and adviser. The pandit died a fortnight ago, leaving behind him his old mother, who has now attained the age of eighty-five, so that after all he was not able to fulfil to the end the duty which he felt that he owed her.”

“It seems to me,” concluded the Superintendent, “that this pandit's life should be a lesson to those who desire to enter the Path, showing them that their surrender must be complete and unconditional, and that no thought of mother, son or friend must intervene. Otherwise life becomes a void, and contains only a future of sorrow and trouble; and before another similar opportunity comes who knows what difficulties may have to be encountered?”

“While quite agreeing,” said the Shepherd, “with the general statement that we must be prepared to give up everything without counting the cost, I do not think that we must criticise the pandit for his decision. If a man marries, for example, and has a family of children, he has unquestionably formed a karma which it is his duty to work out, and it would not be right for him to leave them, to follow some fancied good for himself. No man need have a wife and children unless he chooses, but having chosen he assumes a responsibility for their maintenance which he has no right to ignore. This pandit may have felt in the same way about his mother, and naturally he could not foresee that after all he would die before she did; nor indeed, even if he had foreseen it, would it have made any difference as to the matter of duty. It seems to me, however, that without doing any violence to his conscience the pandit might have been able to effect a compromise. He might have turned to his friend the barrister, and explaining all the circumstances to him, might have asked him whether he would complete his kindly patronage by taking charge of the old mother for the remainder of her life. Under the circumstances the barrister would have been unlikely to refuse, and then the pandit would have been free to accept the stranger's offer. But we must also observe that even if he had accepted it there is nothing to prove that he would have been able to enter the Path, or even that the stranger himself had done so.”

“The Lord Buddha left his wife and child,” interjected somebody.

“Yes,” replied the Shepherd, “if the story given in the books is to believed; but in that case there was no question whatever as to their being suitably maintained.”

“The members of this community do not seem to have been exactly Adepts,” remarked a student.

“There is certainly nothing to show that they were,” replied the Shepherd, “and it scarcely seems probable. They may however have been pupils of an Adept, or simply a band of ascetics who had devoted themselves to the higher studies, and knew something of the mysteries of nature. There are such communities in the Himâlayas - more than one such, to my knowledge; and there may be many.”

“I have myself heard the pandit tell the same story,” remarked Gurudâsa, “and, knowing him to be a good and honorable man, I could not disbelieve him. But how is it possible that his physical body could have been conveyed through the air in the way described? what is the mechanism of it, I mean?”

“The matter is not difficult,” replied the Shepherd, “and there are even several ways in which it might be done. You have of course heard of the possibility of levitation, for that power has been attributed to several yogis, and I remember that Colonel Olcott described an act of that nature which he once saw performed by a Tibetan Lama.”

“Yes,” said Gurudâsa, “but he raised only himself. He did not at the same time carry another man.”

“That,” said the Shepherd, “would present no difficulty. He may for example have formed a sort of cushion of ether, and then so changed its polarity as to charge it with that repulsive force which is the opposite of gravity. In that case the pandit sitting upon it could be raised and supported without the slightest difficulty.”

“I myself,” interjected the Tahsildar, “once had an experience which bears on what you are saying. I was once in company with a yogi, and we were passing a night together at a house near the river. During the night he roused me, and telling me that it was close upon daybreak, asked me to come down to the river with him. I went, but I soon saw that it was still far from the hour of daybreak, for it was somewhere about three o'clock in the morning, and very dark. However, we went together, and we sat by the side of the river and entered into meditation. After a time he told me to close my eyes and not to open them again until he gave me permission. I obeyed, but as nothing more happened for some considerable time I began to feel frightened, and at last I opened my eyes without waiting for his command. What was my surprise to see that he had vanished! What with this extraordinary circumstance and with the loneliness of the place and the darkness of the night, I felt exceedingly uneasy, and looked about nervously in all directions, but could see nothing of him. Something made me raise my eyes upwards, and there I distinctly saw him floating high in the air above my head. This phenomenon rather increased than relieved my disquietude; but presently he descended, and when he was seated once more quietly beside me, he said to me:”

‘Why were you so afraid?’

“I had nothing to say; I did not know why I had felt such fear, but presently I asked him whether he would ascend again, and take me up with him. Instantly he replied that he would, if I would undertake to feel no fear.”

“Exactly,” interrupted the Shepherd, “if you had felt afraid you would have fallen.”

“Yes,” said the Tahsildar, “that is just what he said, and so I did not like to try.”

“But why should he fall if he felt afraid?” inquired Gurudâsa.

“Because fear destroys the will,” replied the Shepherd, “and so utterly ruins any magical ceremony. In this case, however, the Tahsildar's will was hardly in question, as all the magical part of the performance would have been left to the yogi. But if the yogi had made for him such a cushion of etheric matter as I was suggesting, it is quite certain that it would have been broken up by the violent disturbance of the astral and etheric bodies of the Tahsildar, if he had allowed himself to yield to terror. It needs a steady head to experiment with practical magic, and unless a man possesses that invaluable characteristic he had much better leave it severely alone.”



In the Twilight (19)

first published in the Theosophist, Jan, 1911, p709-712

“Here is a good story, sent to me from England by one of our members,” said the Vagrant. “The people are well known to me, and I only alter their names.”

“It was in December, 1890, that, my brother having gone to London to live, I made up my mind to endeavor to reach him, if it were at all possible, by means of telepathy. He and I had for some time previous to that been carrying on experiments in hypnotism and the like, and so I thought that if the idea of telepathy, which was then receiving special attention, had any real basis for belief in it, its practicability ought to be easily demonstrated by us because of the very close rapport there was between us.”

“Accordingly I set to work to reach him, I being in a city distant 113 miles from London. I sat myself down in a chair in my bedroom before a black concave mirror, and endeavored to picture him in my mind. He had told me that if I could get him to move, or to do something, when I had thoroughly visualised him, I would then be en rapport with him sufficiently to impress any message that I wanted to convey. So, there I sat until I could see him as clearly with my mind's eye as I could with my physical optic organ. When I had thus visualised him I mentally told him to turn his head and look at me, which he did; and then I willed him to raise his right arm and take his watch from his pocket, which was done. Now a peculiar thing occurred. Although I could see him I could not see the watch that he was, I concluded, holding in his hand. It occurred to me that if I could occupy his position I might then be able to see it, so I slipped into his place and looked through his eyes and then saw his watch. So soon as I had noted the time, ten minutes to eight, I lost sight of it, and was back again in my normal consciousness, feeling very much fatigued with the sustained mental effort, and though the events were quite clear in my memory, there was, I had to admit to myself, no decided proof of any direct contact with him. It struck me that it might have been simply a keen imagination, notwithstanding the inner conviction that I had really reached him. I had been sitting there since seven, and it was now ten minutes to eight, and had to all intents and purposes accomplished nothing. I felt disappointed and weary, but before retiring for the night I determined to try again, thinking that I might effect what I wanted during sleep, perhaps more easily than by the method I had just tried. About half-past nine I got into bed, but not as usual. This time for some reason I had put the pillow at the foot of the bed, and now laid myself down on my chest, spreading my arms out at right-angles to the body, resting my chin on the pillow. I had remained in this position it seemed barely a minute, recalling the picture I had seen of my brother, when I suddenly felt a thrill of intense electrical energy pass up my spine terminating in a pin-point in the centre of my head. Whether it was hot or cold I cannot say, but it was excruciatingly painful. Then it seemed to burst, and I was aware of standing in my room looking at a golden luminous mass in the midst of which was a watch. It was a Geneva lever, very thin, with glass front and silver case, engraved all over the back, in which there were three dents; it had a silver dial with gold ornamented figures and gold hands. I knew instinctively that it was my brother's watch, and felt too that if I wanted to know anything about it, I had only to apply my mind to the subject and everything was open to me. Looking at it, I became aware that the time was marking ten minutes to eight, and so soon as I had noticed this I was back in my body and awake, so I then turned over and went to sleep. In the morning when I awoke I put my hand under my pillow and reached for my watch, and was not surprised to find that this also indicated “ten minutes to eigh?”. This is a common experience with many people, that if they go to sleep thinking of the time at which they ought to get up, they will invariably wake at that time. Hastily I washed and dressed, then went down to breakfast. My brother James (another brother) was there having his eggs and bacon, and seeing me enter exclaimed: ‘Hallo, Ned, what's the matter with you? Haven't you slept? You look washed out.’ But instead of answering his question I asked: ‘Has John got a watch, a Geneva lever with silver case engraved all over the back, three dents in it and with gold ornamented figures?’ At the mention of each particular he looked more surprised, and at last said: ‘Yes, but you never saw that watch. I only sent it to him a fortnight ago!’”

“About three weeks after I had a letter from my brother John, saying that he was coming home to see us, and asking me to meet him at the station, but stating no time of arrival. I went however to meet the train that I thought most likely.”

“Soon I saw him coming down the hill (he saw me at the same time), and I waited for him to come up. As soon as he arrived he put his hand in mine and we both exclaimed in the same breath: ‘Ten minutes to eight’. I should have remarked that we had not written to each other on the subject of our experiments, but it is evident from our greeting that we were both equally sure that the other knew all about it.”

“The experience of the writer when lying on the bed,” remarked the Vagrant, “shows that this is not a mere case of telepathy. The acute pain, the sense of explosion, and the subsequent state show that he went out of his body in full consciousness. It is rather a pity that his mind was fixed on so trivial a matter.”

“Casual experiences which are not the direct result of training, and which lead up to nothing in particular, are not uncommon,” said the Shepherd. Here is a letter relating one, from a Matron of a convalescent Home in England.

“A strange thing happened to me last summer (1908). We had a patient at W---, Nurse K---, who was very ill, and I think she was very sensitive and altogether rather strange. She said to me the day she arrived: ‘You are a Theosophist.’ I replied: ‘How did you know?’ and she said she knew directly she saw me. Then a few days after she said: ‘Does it tire you or disturb you to come down to me at nights as you do, because if it does I won't bring you down, though it is a great comfort to have you come.’ I told her I had never been down to her in the night, but she insisted that when she was in great pain, and wished for me, I always came and held her hand till she got better. After that she told me several times that I had come and comforted her in the night, and after she had left us she wrote to me that one night she had wished for me very much, and I had come and kissed her and held her hand. ‘That time’, she said, ‘you had a dress on that I did not know and did not like.’ She came back to us very soon after that, and I met her at the door in this same dress, that she had not seen before.”

“These experiences are naturally becoming more common,” said the Vagrant, “as the race is entering on the borderland to an ever-increasing extent. It is all the more necessary that sound knowledge should be spread on these matters, in order that the dangers which arise from ignorance and fear may be avoided as much as possible.”



In the Twilight (20)

first published in the Theosophist, March, 1911, p964-969

“Now, who has got a story to-day?” asked the Shepherd.

“I have one, and a very interesting one,” answered the Inspector and began:

“A friend of mine, an officer in the Police Department of this Presidency, told me not long ago a very curious story and asked me if I could explain it in a satisfactory way. He said that a report was once made to him of a theft by burglary in one of the villages that lay within his official jurisdiction. The mistress of the house feelingly implored him to leave no stone unturned in the detection of the culprits, as she and her husband had been reduced to utter starvation by the theft, which was all they possessed and which was the only means of their livelihood. He deeply sympathised with the lady and promised to do his best in the matter. He caused secret enquiries to be made. On a certain night he had a very vivid and clear dream to the effect that if the house of X. were carefully searched, the lost property would be discovered. On the morrow he sent for the chief officers of the village where X. dwelt and asked them what they thought of the character, of that individual. They were unanimous in giving him an exceptionally good and honest character, and added that he owned extensive lands and was unremitting in the alleviation of the sufferings of the sick and the poor. On hearing this, my friend thought that the dream was one of the ordinary meaningless sort, and that it would be highly improper to proceed on the strength of it. But that night the dream repeated itself even more vividly than on the previous occasion; he therefore made up his mind to search the house indicated at break of day. Accordingly, he went to X.'s residence and enquired if he knew anything of the theft. He was considerably alarmed at this, and most vigorously protested his ignorance and innocence of the affair, But his faltering voice, his guilty looks, his prevarication, when interrogated on certain points, confirmed my friend's suspicions and he would have ordered the search of the house, had not the men of the village protested with one voice against what they considered to be an unmerited insult to one of their local magnates; and the victims of the theft themselves persuaded him to withdraw from the scene which became very uproarious. My friend dreamt again for the third time, and then he determined to carry out his design at all costs, and went the next day and ordered his subordinates to search the house thoroughly. In the course of their search they came to a spot which looked very suspicious, and on digging there they lighted upon the property which had been stolen. It was duly returned to its owners, who were much emaciated by sorrow and starvation, and the dream of my friend which at first seemed absurd was well verified.”

“So the dream came true, and it is a good instance of astral activity producing result on the physical plane,” said the Superintendent.

“Yes, that's so,” said the Shepherd; “any more stories?”

“I have a queer tale to tell, sir,” said the Wanderer, “may I?”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, I call it a strong presentiment. During the last year of the South African Campaign we found ourselves once more in Standerton - a town very strongly held and used as a base of operations in that district. The flying column had come to rest, sadly in want of remounts and a change from the interminable monotony of tracking across the endless Veldt in pursuit of an ever disappearing foe, one who, at odd intervals mysteriously reformed upon our flank or rear, feinted a little, sniped a bit, and then when you turned upon them, elusively melted once more into the air.”

“For the time being we became part of the garrison posted beneath the shadow of the great Kop, an impregnable position dominating the surrounding Veldt from the view-point of the 4.7 to perhaps eight odd miles away, the base of another giant Kopje up along the Vaal.”

“We soon found it was the custom to send out every morning various outposts around the town to watch the approaches and prevent the looting of cattle. Now it so happened that grass was becoming short in all the open country roundabout, and it was determined to send the cattle up along the bank of the Vaal, where there was still plenty of food. This had not hitherto been attempted because of the extreme difficulty of the country on this side.”

“Next morning, however, I received orders to post the guard in this direction, and select the best available position. In the early dawn we rode out to a tract of land between the great Kopje and the Vaal - as difficult a place as one could imagine to reconnoitre properly with a handful of men. Full of deep dongas, boulders, ridges of rock, and deadly undulating eminences all along the edge of the Veldt, with an unguarded drift or ford in the Vaal but half a mile away, and another a few miles up the twisting river that ran concealed from view below the level of the Veldt - until you rode right up to the banks of it! A perfectly hopeless place to be in if the enemy were there before you, a series of strong positions if you happened to get there first. After reconnoitering the whole position, I came to the conclusion that the drift was the point to be watched, so I posted the troops in a strong position on a ridge of rocks, with two men on an elevation commanding as much of the drift as could be seen. It was then that the hopeless nature of the position was born in upon me, because, after retiring each evening, we had to take it up again next morning. Moreover the enemy would be aware of it. As I stood upon the spot that I had selected, I felt a very strong presentiment that it would be the scene of a disaster. The Boers had merely to cross the drift, take up this our position, and wait for us.”

“I rode back feeling we were ‘up against it’. It was not until long afterwards that I thought of the full significance of what I felt impelled to do. After making the usual report to the O.C., I went back to my tent and sat down to think it out. Presently I found myself making a map of the tract of the country I had ridden over in the morning, trying to indicate its dangers from the view-point of ambush. I then took it to my Colonel and told him all about it, showing him the map I had made. He was impressed, and sent it in to the C.O. saying, ‘I will mention your suggestion that the drift be held by crossing the river opposite Standerton, and approaching from the other side; but after all its only an outpost, a cattle-guard, and the closing of the drift might lead to other complications, and besides nothing might happen.’ ‘Well, sir’, said I, ‘we will be scuppered there some fine morning, and I think as likely as not it will be to-morrow.’ ‘Well,’ said the C--- ‘anyhow take more men, and use all the precautions you can think of, and tell the officer in charge of the men to-morrow to keep a sharp look out.’ It was after all but one of a thousand guards that had been posted round about. As the officer whose turn it was to post the guard in the morning was feeling seedy, another volunteered, and after going the rounds that night I felt impelled once more to tell them all about it, saying: ‘Anyhow come and see me in the morning, and I will give you a copy of the map I have made.’ At day-break, the officer whose turn it was to go, came in to my tent and said as he was feeling fit again he was going. As soon as I had given him full instructions he rode away with his men, some of whom had been there on the previous day.”

“Now, although my duties did not commence until later in the day, I felt impelled to get up and prepare to follow, as I felt something was bound to happen. So I slung on my mauser and glasses, and told my orderly to bring the horses round.”

“While I was waiting for what I certainly think no one else expected, another of our fellows came along with watering-pots and stood talking to me, asking me where I was bound, as it was my morning off. At this moment the sun rose, and I had just begun to explain, when suddenly the unmistakable sound of volley firing, followed by the continuous clip-clop of the mauser broke the stillness of the morning. Almost at once the helio on the Kopje told us that our party was attacked by Boers in force.”

“In a moment the camp flashed into life, and I found myself, after hastily collecting all the details, galloping to a support or rescue that I felt would be hopeless.”

“We dashed through the dongas and out upon the Veldt, and then I discovered a party of Bushmen (old friends of mine), whom I thought at first to be some Boers playing the decoy, hustling away on my flank to hold the further drift. It was cautious work, approaching the scene of action, as the Boers with the drift behind them might still be waiting to give us a warm reception and account for a few more of us. Soon, however, we came across a sergeant of ours shot through the chin (which however he lived to get over), and farther on, upon the high elevation overlooking the drift on which I had told him to post his guard, I found the officer and two of his men with whom he had ridden on to reconnoitre, riddled with bullets. It seems that he had had time to turn and warn his men but, as was inevitable, it was all too late to do anything in such a hopeless position.”

“It was all over but the shouting; true we caused those Boers to hustle, and some natives told us that in consequence they had to bury five of them, but as I did not see it done, it is very much open to doubt. However, I did a considerable lot of thinking as to the wisdom of following the lead of strong presentiments.”

“A few days after I escorted the General of Division over the ground, and he confirmed my opinion from the strategic view-point saying; ‘No more guards must be posted in this direction without permanent occupation, it would require a column to hold it properly.’”

“Yes, that may be,” the Magian interrupted, “but time is up, the twilight is long past, and from this refreshment we must wend our way to labor; next twilight hour I will read to you a very interesting story that comes from abroad.”

“Good,” said the Shepherd, “and you will find us eager listeners.”



In the Twilight (21)

first published in the Theosophist, May, 1911, p290-296

“This comes from a lady friend in England, not a member of our Society,” said the Magian. “The facts of this story are known in the locality, and it seems to me interesting enough to read at our meeting.”

“Read away,” said the Vagrant, and the Magian read:

In a beautifully wooded part of the country in the Shire of ----- there stands a picturesque old Hall, surrounded by gardens and park, once well cared for, now neglected and dreary looking. The Hall itself, with its handsome gables, mullioned windows, fine terrace with stone balcony, and old-fashioned sun-dial, looks as though it ought to have been the scene of happiness and contentment, not of the strange and sad events I am about to relate.

In the year which saw Napoleon banished to S. Helena, the last survivors of the family to whom the estate belonged were two brothers. The elder was an officer in the English army; the younger a clergyman, Rector of a small Church not far from the Hall. He was a widower, and had one child, a girl. Soon after Colonel N. came into his inheritance, his regiment was ordered to India; and, knowing that it would probably be years before he returned home, he placed the management of his property in his brother's hands, persuading him to leave the Rectory and take up his residence at the Hall.

Some years passed: communication at that time between England and India was neither easy nor frequent; and Colonel N., a keen officer, engrossed in his duties, soon ceased to write to his brother; and the Rector, settled at the Hall, absolute master of everything, began to look upon himself as owner, and upon his daughter, to whom he was devotedly attached, as heiress to the property.

Unfortunately however for his dreams and plans, Colonel N. married a young Irish girl, whom he tenderly loved. Her death at the end of two years, leaving him a baby girl, Mona, nearly broke his heart. Six months later the Colonel was attacked by fever; and feeling he would not recover, he began to settle his affairs, and to make arrangements for the future welfare of his child. He placed her in the care of his Indian servant, Hassim, giving him at the same time all his money and the jewels which had belonged to his wife, together with a letter to his brother, and papers proving the validity of his marriage. He made Hassim solemnly promise to take his little daughter to England, as soon as possible after his death, and deliver her into the guardianship of her uncle.

Hassim, faithful to his promise, after seeing his kind and generous master laid in his grave, started on his long journey with Mona; and, after a stormy voyage and many difficulties, owing to his imperfect knowledge of the English language, found himself and the child, one cold, foggy, autumn evening, at the gates of the old mansion.

Although unable to discredit his story, the Rector gave them a cold reception; and it did not take Hassim long to realise how unwelcome the little heiress was, and how gladly her uncle would get rid of them both, could he do so. This put Hassim on his guard; and as time went on, the difference made in the treatment of his little mistress and her cousin filled him with indignation and anger. While the one was surrounded with every luxury, and treated with kindness and consideration, as though she were the heiress, Mona, the rightful owner, was banished to the servants' quarters, and allowed to grow up in ignorance and neglect. Powerless to alter this terrible injustice, Hassim brooded over the poor child's wrongs until he could no longer keep silence. With a courage born of his devotion and fidelity, he one day sought Mr N.'s presence; and in his broken English, deep emotion choking his voice, he reminded him how absolutely his brother had trusted him with his daughter's happiness and welfare; that she, and not his own daughter, was owner of the estate; and implored him to treat Mona from that day with justice and kindness. Livid with rage, raising his hand as though about to strike him, Mr N., in a loud and angry voice, commanded him to leave the room and never to mention the subject to him again.

Poor Hassim was overcome with grief at the failure of his appeal. Living at the Hall only on sufferance, a stranger in a foreign land, possessing neither money nor influence, he could only watch over his beloved charge with ever greater solicitude, hoping that as she grew older, her wrongs would become known, and that she would be restored to her rightful inheritance. With this end in view, Hassim constantly talked to Mona, telling her she must never forget that the Hall and everything in it belonged to her; and that when she was old enough, she must tell some one about it whom she could trust to send her uncle away, and help her to take possession of her own property.

Now, it is said that one evening, Hassim and Mona were sitting in a secluded part of the terrace, overlooking the lake, talking of her father, and of how different things would be were he alive, when suddenly the Rector appeared before them. He spoke sternly and angrily to his niece, and bade her return to her duties, and not idle away her time in foolish conversation. When she had disappeared, pale and trembling, the Rector turned to the Indian and threatened to send him away, unless he promised never to talk to his niece about those things again. Hassim, drawing himself up to his full height, his dark eyes flashing with righteous anger, called Heaven to witness the injustice done to his master's daughter, and pronounced a solemn curse on Mr N. and his descendants, as long as the rightful owner was kept from her lawful inheritance. Mr N., transported with rage, struck the Indian on the head with the heavy stick he carried, and the poor man fell to the ground, dead, the victim of a cruel man's ambition!

The murderer was horrified at the result of the blow. With the usual instinct of self-preservation, his first thought was to hide the body. Dragging it to the edge of the terrace, he threw it into the lake. Then, returning to the house, he called the butler to him, and told him he had found it necessary to send Hassim away, and that he would never return. He also gave orders that his niece should be sent on a visit to a farmer living some miles away, saying that the change would help her to forget her servant.

It was easier in those days than it would be now to avoid suspicion, and Mr N. hoped that now he was relieved from the presence he hated, he would be able to pursue his plans unhindered. The cruel murder was not however to go unavenged; rumors began to circulate among the servants that Hassim had been made away with, and that his ghost had been seen walking in the park. One night, the footman, who had been out late, came in shaking with terror, declaring he had seen the Indian standing at the edge of the lake, that he had suddenly disappeared, and that he had heard a loud splash, as though something had been thrown into the water. On another occasion, a laborer, returning from his work, saw the white-robed figure of Hassim standing in front of him, who, pointing to the lake, vanished. Moreover, strange voices which could not be accounted for were heard in the house. One evening, the butler vowed that when going into the library to close the shutters, he saw Hassim standing by the window, his hands raised as though in supplication.

Mr N., overcome by a guilty conscience and cowardly fears, hardly dared to be alone, and never went out after dark; one evening he had been found by a gardener, crouching on a seat on the terrace, half dead with fright at something he had seen! From that time nothing seemed to prosper with him. To his great sorrow, the daughter he loved so well, and for whose sake he had done so much wrong, had a severe illness which affected her brain; and the servants whispered with bated breath that she too had seen ‘something’ which had frightened her wits away.

After a time the Rector could no longer endure his life, and decided to shut up the Hall, and go abroad. With this end in view, in order to raise money for his immediate expenses, he told his agent to cut down some trees in the park, and sell the timber. The order was given, and the work of destruction began; but at the first blow of the axe, a voice, which seemed to come from the sky, said: “This tree is mine!” A second tree was struck, and again the voice said: “This tree is mine!” Urged by the agent, the terrified men began to cut another; but once more the voice said, “This tree is mine! this tree is mine!” The men could no longer bear it; throwing down their tools, they rushed from the wood; nor could they ever, either by threats or promises, be persuaded to return to the place again. When the agent, agitated by what he too had heard, told Mr N. of the occurrence, the weird story proved too much for him, weakened as he was by the burden of his awful crime, and all the consequences he had had to endure. He was struck with paralysis, from which he never recovered, and died at the end of a few days. His daughter, brought up by strangers, was, although half-witted, forced into a loveless marriage, on account of her wealth, and died eventually insane. Her cousin's fate is unknown, but it is believed in the village, by the old people, whose grand-parents were young when these things happened, that she married a farm-laborer, and that they emigrated to America.

Hassim is still said to haunt the scene of his murder;; and, to this day, the country people dare not walk through the wood at night, where the voices were heard. The Hall stands uninhabited and desolate, a witness to the truth of the saying:

The Curse causeless shall not come.

“A good story,” commented the Vagrant, “though the end is disappointing. Poor Hassim ruined his murderer, but failed to save the child he loved.”

“And here is still another story from a different correspondent, this time a personal experience,” said the Magian, and read:

I dreamt, on the morning of Thursday, July 14, 1910 - between six and seven o'clock in the morning - that I was standing in a room in the company of others. I had the impression that I was abroad, and was standing in either a Chapel or in a large and lofty room in one of the historic Châteaux of France. But I saw no details of my surroundings, as my attention was concentrated on a girl who was acting as my guide, and who was dressed, it seemed to me, in one of the pretty foreign costumes now rarely, if ever, seen.

“Yes, it is haunted here,” this girl said, “and I have the gift of seeing the poor unfortunate one.”

“Try to see him now,” somebody - I do not know who - said.

The girl placed her hand on the panelled wall of the room, shut her eyes, and seemed to withdraw her consciousness inwards.

“I see him,” she said, and then looking straight at me: “Do you not also see? It seems to me you should.”

“I feel a dark and lonely presence. I see nothing,” I answered,

The scene changed. I was taking part in an al fresco fête. The sun was shining, and all around me was gay and festive. Suddenly I became conscious of a man, dressed in sombre black, curiously cut and fashioned, resembling somewhat a monk's dress, or the Geneva robe of a cleric, and whom, though he looked human and of flesh and blood consistency, I knew, directly my eyes fell upon him, to be the ghost of the room I had previously visited. This man approached me, and though he did not speak to me, his presence made me aware of his misery and his desire for help. His nearness conveyed to me the dreadfulness of the fate that was his, condemned as he felt himself to be - though why I do not know - to dwell betwixt heaven and earth, a habitant of neither, feared and shunned by all who could perceive him, lonely and lost in misery. And I knew that only in that old oak-panelled room could I do aught to help him.

And with the thought again I found myself in that large and lofty room, and now facing its ghostly occupant. But his mood had changed. No longer a suppliant, but defiant and triumphant, the man faced me, and I stood before him with my arms raised, my hands spread outward to ward off his closer approach; but he leapt upon me, crying, as he pressed his fingers to mind and I distinctly felt the contact of each finger, and knew his purpose was to draw vitality from mine: “You shall not! You shall not! You are human, and I too am becoming human again” - and as he spoke I felt his fingers as they clung to mine tighten their hold, become more solid, warmer, living, in a word, distinctly human: “I, at any rate, am now alive, am conscious of existence. If you work your will on me, how do I know what then will be my fate? I may vanish into space and nothingness,” and, frantic with terror, it appeared he tried by brute force to bear me down. I stood firm. Slowly firmly, I drew into myself the infinite strength that ever surrounds us; so fortified, I set every power I possessed on loosening the tie that bound the man before me to this place, and to his present fate. Suddenly he disappeared and was not, and I knew that my purpose was accomplished and I awoke.



In the Twilight (22)

first published in the Theosophist, Sept, 1911, p900-908

“The following is sent by a reliable correspondent,” said the Vagrant, and read as follows:

There is a little girl of four years of age in Melbourne (Australia), who repeatedly tells to such of her friends as she feels to be sympathetic the following experience:

“When I was big before (grown-up), I had a different mother altogether, not at all like the one I have now. I always had to go to school then, and my teacher was always so hard on me; he thrashed me continually, When I was bigger still, they took my mother away from me one day, and we all had to travel till we reached a great forest. There a lot of soldiers came and caught me; some cried out to me: “Go to the devil!” and then they shot me.”

When asked if that happened in Melbourne the reply came: “No, in Merika.”

The child never varies in any details when telling the experience; she has her little head full of many other incidents of that time, but is very reluctant to speak about it. Her present physical parents, when interviewed by some of our members, had never heard of reincarnation, and made sure that it was all only the child's imagination; at the same time they were greatly puzzled as to where the child should have got her ideas from, as she had lived with them nearly all her life in seclusion in the country, hardily ever coming into contact with other people or children. The little girl herself is very small for her age, while her eyes have the expression of an old grown-up individual. I am sorry to have to add that her present life will probably be a very short one.

“Here is a narrative from a brother Theosophist, whose act of self-sacrifice ought to be an example; and it is a good Twilight story also,” said the Shepherd.

“It was the evening of 24th July, 1910, and two young friends of twenty-eight and thirty years of age were going for a walk. One of them sensed all of a sudden some sort of a peculiar smell. He asked the other friend: Do you notice a bad smell?” ‘No,’ replied the other. Within two or three minutes the smell passed away. Next evening the same two friends went out for a walk as usual, and again at the same time (probably 5:45 pm), but a mile away from the place of the day before, the same young man noticed the same sort of smell. Then and there he stopped, and began to look around him with a positive attitude. He could not see anything with his physical eyes, but he somehow felt that some evil entity was standing at a distance of about two or three yards. He was staring at the place, when he received as it were a mental message from the entity: “Shall I go back to the sender?” But the man was a member of the TS and he thought it untheosophical to allow an evil thought-form to return to the sender.

He remembered his Gurudeva, and mentally said “No, don't go back, but discharge your force upon myself.” No sooner had he said so, than he felt some dark thing coming over his head and covering his whole body, and he at once lost all his strength. He was so weak that he was unwilling to walk any further, but somehow he managed to keep on, lest his friend might be anxious about his sudden weakness.

But from the time the evil entity took possession of his body, he continued to meditate upon the unity of all beings, and to send loving thoughts to the entity itself. After a few minutes he felt that the entity was sliding down his body, bit by bit, and within fifteen minutes or so he felt himself completely recovered.

All this time he did not say anything to his friend. After regaining his normal strength, he asked his friend whether he had felt any unusual thing while he had been silent. The friend said: “I only felt a slight weakness; nothing more.”

Since that day the man has never noticed any bad smell of the same sort, though he has often passed the same place.

“One often hears,” said the Countess, “that dying people appear to their friends at a distance. I also have come across such a case, though the manifestation was not a very pleasant one. A young girl, one summer, was invited to spend some time with her aunt, who had married a country-gentleman whose old castle was situated in a very lovely place in the mountains. She was delighted, for she not only expected to have a very merry time in her aunt's house with other relatives, but she was also told that she would find there her aunt's mother, an old lady of whom she was especially fond, and for whom she felt deep love and devotion. And indeed the young girl had not expected too much: every day was a day of joy, the elder members of the family spending much time in entertaining their young guests.

So the days passed on until duties called the young girl to her paternal home. Only by letters she heard from time to time from her relatives in the mountains, and was glad to find that her aunt's mother remained in good health. Meanwhile the winter came. The girl writes: ‘One morning I awoke while it was still quite dark outside; only from my mother's bedroom through the half-opened door a dim light of a night-lamp shone. I thought it was too early to get up, and fell asleep again. But what was that? Out of my mother's bedroom my great-aunt came, clad in the light violet dress she used to wear so often in those happy summer days. She approached my bed, she bent over me and clasped me; she pressed me more and more closely. I could not breath; I felt as if I must die.’ So the struggle went on, but after a time the apparition disappeared, and the young girl could breath again. At this moment a clock struck six. It was on a Friday morning. A few days later a notice came that the old lady had died on the same Friday morning at six o'clock. Did the old lady go in her astral body to the young girl, or was the young girl in her astral body at her aunt's death-bed?”

“The old lady probably visited her,” said the Vagrant, “but in a semi-conscious state, conscious of love for the girl, and not conscious that she was showing it in rather an uncomfortable manner. Most likely, also, the girl was frightened, and the fright made her feel as if she were choking.”

“The following experience has been sent to me,” said the Shepherd, “but I do not quite see what occurred. My correspondent write?”:

At the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War I had in my employ a Japanese house-servant, who could not speak or read English. He came to me daily when his work was finished with the newspapers, saying the same thing each time: “Madame, Japan-Russia?” This was the extent of his English. I would then endeavor by signs - plans of water-color and pencil-drawings - to make him understand the news. Had it not been for his intense desire to know the news of the war, I scarcely think I should have read the papers or war news at all, although my sympathies were with Japan; yet I was not at first at all enthusiastic. Finally a peculiar enthusiasm took possession of me in which I apparently took no part; independently of myself it possessed me. This occurred at home, on street-cars or elsewhere. I tried to throw it off. It continued to get hold of me long after the little Japanese had been called home by his government.

Sometimes I felt myself to be riding a powerful horse which leaped and sprang over all difficulties, and I was encouraging, inspiring vast armies to follow and pursue the enemy. On and on my noble white horse rushed, or flew, for he knew as well as I that for the moment we were the central power and strength from which the great armies drew their enthusiasm. I tried to throw this off with all my force, and succeeded, but only for a short time. But almost immediately I again found myself riding the superbly wonderful horse, springing forward in mid-air, sometimes leaping over great armies that I might guide them from danger. At the time I felt that I not only foresaw the danger, but had the power to save the soldiers from it by guiding them. I was filled with this wonderful enthusiasm.

This thing continued off and on, spreading over about four months, but ended about the middle of the war, from which time I have not had any such experience. I was conscious of my condition, never losing consciousness, yet I was absorbed in the thing taking place. Apparently I was there riding at the head of armies, an inspiration to the Japanese and often a horror and terror to the Russians when they saw me riding in mid-air, for I saw them crouch and turn back many times. I cannot give any reason for this experience, but it absorbed my whole being for the time; I am sure I am not a Joan of Arc.

“Do you not think,” said the Vagrant, “that the ‘peculiar enthusiasm’ explains it? You know how often we have found novices on the astral plane identifying themselves with the people whom they were trying to help - being blown up in an explosion for example. Fired by the enthusiasm of her Japanese servant, she threw herself on the Japanese side, and very likely associated herself with some cavalry leader. By the way, I had a queer experience in that same war. Awaking one morning, when I had been helping the slaughtered in a great battle, I heard - after I was awake - the thunder of the guns, the yells, moans, shrieks and other noises that render a battle-field so horrible. All the intolerable tumult was ringing round me.”

“You must have been half in and half out of the body,” remarked the Shepherd, “but so clear a hearing prolonged into waking consciousness is unusual.”

“Here is a good instance,” said the Banker, “of how a strong thought can overcome distance, and even though it be only for a moment, extend the consciousness, so that it can see and know, though it may never have been to a certain place.”

“Several years ago, on the last day of the year, we had a little meeting of Theosophists in my house, as is our custom, to see the New Year in and to send auspicious thoughts to our brothers all the world over. My wife and I had retired after the others had left, and I was in bed thinking over again the thoughts connected with our meeting and with the past and the opening year. Before going to sleep I thought I should like to send Mrs Besant a thought of good wishes and devotion, and told my wife I was going to do so. I closed my eyes and began thinking of her. Almost immediately I seemed to be in front of a door with glass panes, the approach to which was up two or three steps. I drew close up to it and looked in. In front of me was a long room, up which I could not see very well to the end, as the light was not strong. It appeared to be early morning - sunrise or soon after. Immediately in front of me, a little to the right, was a small low table, and on it were papers and letters; this table or desk appeared to be set on a raised platform or settee, but only a foot high from this. There were no chairs in the room. There appeared to be a strip of cane or Japanese matting down the length of the room, and a rug or mat near the settee. What takes long to describe was of course an instantaneous impression, for, as I looked, I saw Mrs Besant far off at the end of the room, coming down it towards my end.”

“She was dressed in some cream-colored material, much as she always is. She came at once to the little table, put on her pince-nez, and with her left hand took up some papers on the left of her desk, or little table. She was proceeding to examine these, when suddenly she seemed to be aware of my vicinity to her behind the door with the glass panes. She looked over her pince-nez straight at me, and as she did so her face suddenly seemed to be coming, as it were from the end of a telescope, right at me, and growing larger and larger as it came until it was huge and seemed to burst on me, which caused me to come to myself with a jerk. All this again took only a moment. Yet I was not at all asleep: only abstracted in thought. I at once gave my wife, whom I had told that I was going to think of Mrs Besant, a description there and then of the experience just as I have now told it; and I added: ‘You see, there is not much in these things; for it is just past two o'clock at night and yet it seemed to me it was early morning and the sun was just up.” After a little she replied: “Oh! but wait; what is the difference in time between here and India? Would it not be early morning there?” This made me realise that it well might be so; for Italy is nearly an hour east of Greenwich, and India roughly five to five and a half hours; so that, in round figures, the time corresponding to my thought of Mrs Besant will have been in India somewhere near 6:30 am.

“This rendered the whole thing rather more remarkable. The whole occurrence was noted in my diary, and I decided some time or other to satisfy myself that such a room as I had seen existed. I had no idea where Mrs Besant was at the time, and having only been in the Society two or three years, had no immediate possibility of verifying the matter one way or the other. When last year I came out to Adyar for the first time, I had the thought of this experience uppermost in my mind as I approached Mrs Besant's room at Headquarters, and was much disappointed when I got there to find that it did not resemble in any way the room I had seen on that last day of the year some years back. True, there was a settee or platform with a little low table on it, but the room was too square, the windows were all wrong, there were no steps leading up to the place I had looked in at. Nothing quite fitted my idea of what the room ought to have been. So I left it at that. Then it occurred to me it might be at Benares. Perhaps at Shânti Kunja. I had no chance last year of going to Benares, and returned to Europe without having verified my vision one way or the other.”

“This year, however, circumstances took me to Benares. Again the sought-for room was in my mind as I approached Benares, and was being driven by kind friends in the very early morning before sunrise to Shânti Kunja, Mrs Besant's house. The first room into which we entered - it was still fairly dark - had a large settee such as I have described, but, alas, this was not the hoped-for room; the shape was all wrong, the chanki was too large - all was wrong. I practically, I don't know why, concluded that must be Mrs Besant's room, and that again the physical fact demonstrated that the transient vision had erred - so there was no use bothering about it any further. Yet as I so thought, we were passing down and through another room; but partly because it was early and there was only one lantern, and partly because the windows at the end gave little light and were closed, I could not see anything of it.”

“Yet I seemed to feel it familiar; but, disappointed as I had been, I rather stifled any further thought about it and presently passed out on to the verandah without further question or examination. We had our chota-hazri, or little breakfast, on the verandah presently, and the sun meantime rose higher. I got up from my place and looked in at the window of the room we had passed through, giving on to the verandah - and there was my long-sought room and all the conditions just as I had seen them!”

“The early morning; behind me were the steps up to the verandah; I was standing behind the window giving on to the verandah, which on account of the wood used might well have been described by me as ‘a door with panes of glass;’ there in front of me stretched a longish room not very well lit, with the settee and the desk a little on the right as I looked; on it were papers; behind me was the sun and the morning. It but wanted Mrs Besant to walk down it and to look at me over her pince-nez. But she was in Burma, so this part of the realisation could not take effect. I at once asked whose room it was I was looking in at, and my friend told me it was Mrs Besant's room, then actually used by Mr Arundale whilst repairs were going on in his quarters.”

“I think that as a bit of first-hand evidence of seeing in thought a place I knew nothing of thousands of miles away, the above has many points of interest.”

“It certainly has,” said the Vagrant, “and it would be a little difficult even for a psychical researcher to ascribe to telepathy the picture of a room you did not know when I was not thinking of you. It may be recorded as a useful piece of evidence.”



In the Twilight (23)

first published in the Theosophist, Jan, 1912, p589-594

“It is curious,” said the Vagrant, “to notice the confusion of past, present and future which occurs in the astral experiences of neophytes in the astral world. Here, for instance, is a record sent me by a very serious and thoughtful member, who came into the inner circle of the Society in the time of HPB. He was, in fact, one of her first pupils. He says that his heart had become much affected after he had witnessed two death-scenes in the astral world, and had suddenly and excitedly rushed back to the physical body; he found himself obliged to move very slowly and carefully, using a cane. He says:”

“At both of these occurrences the body received a great shock. I was not frightened when back in the body; I had no particular feeling about it; but the heart-beats were extremely irregular and queer. The first happened in the early morning of April 9, 1888. I saw a man by the name of Jonas Anderson, related to me by marriage, kill himself. I could bring back no particulars of the sad happening, only the bare fact. I waited for the Swedish mail; it came, and the papers contained the notice that on that very night one of my friends and colleagues, Magnus Elmblad, had died suddenly at Stockholm, supposedly by taking poison. In letters from home I heard that the man whose suicide I had witnessed was alive and well.” “This,” I thought, “is merely a quid pro quo.” And there I left it. In 1895 Anderson did really commit suicide. So I had seen what was going to happen, but was too dull and too ignorant to go and tell Anderson while in the astral world how bad it would be for him to take his own life, as it now seems to me that I was given an opportunity to do.

The second death scene I saw one morning in October, 1888. Before me lay a narrow country road on a hillside, with a sharp curve in the middle. There came a fine carriage; the two horses before it trotted at a quick speed. In the carriage sat Count Eric Sparre, Governor of my native province in Sweden, Inspector of my College and father of one of my schoolmates. At the curve in the road the carriage was dashed to the ground, and the Count was killed. As a matter of fact, the Count had been killed in exactly this way on the 17th of June, 1886. I seem to have witnessed those two death scenes from a plane on which past, present and future are not so well separated as down here. After these shakings my body was weak for over a year, and our family physician ordered me to take digitalis for it, advising me to move slowly and be extremely careful, as I otherwise might fall down dead any minute. I followed his advice.’

“The latter case is simple enough,” went on the Vagrant, “for our friend merely saw the astral picture of an event that had happened. In the first, a confusion apparently occurred in bringing through the memory, as the event happened at the time at which it was seen, but the person concerned was changed; the strange thing is that the very person who was seen to kill himself did kill himself seven years later. It may have been that the first suicide was witnessed, that the ego of the seer, looking forward, saw Mr Anderson's danger and tried to impress a warning on the brain of his lower vehicle, and that the two things became mixed up in the etheric brain, and reached the ordinary brain in this curiously substituted form.”

“Another experience, sent by this same member, is very instructive. He writes: ‘On Wednesday, September 18, 1889, on the way from my home to the street-car line, I had to cross a street where they were digging a sewer. Proceeding very slowly, I saw the wide dug-out and wondered how I could cross it, as I was unable to jump over, and as it was also difficult to hobble over on barrow boards, in case there were any laid across. "But", I reasoned, "this body is not myself." I fixed my eyes on a spot at the opposite side of the chasm, thinking at the same moment: “I am there already.” Now comes the queer experience. I was actually there, as quick as I had thought it, feeling that the body for a moment was walking a short distance behind me, moving at my will, steadily and automatically. I myself was over the chasm, and I soon had the body with me, too, joining it fully on its arrival.’ Perhaps others of you have had some such experience, especially in the early days of your astral development.?”

“I have had a rather unpleasant form of that kind of dual consciousness,” said Austra, “in which I found myself, when walking along a London street and thinking of crossing it, in the midst of the vehicles. My thought seemed to have carried my body thither, without my brain consciousness.”

“That was rather a dangerous form of it”, remarked a new-comer, smiling, “for if the body follows the astral consciousness without knowing what it is doing, it may run considerable risks.”

“It does run such risks sometimes,” said the Shepherd. “One of our members, some years ago, walked physically out of a window of a fourth-floor room, and fell into the street below, with no consciousness that she was acting in anything but the astral body. Such instances are fortunately rare.”

“It would seem that children are often unconscious of the difference between the physical and astral worlds,” said a member. “They see forms and events in the astral world and talk about them, and are sometimes even punished for untruthfulness when they recount, as things that have ‘really’ happened, facts that, to their elders, are merely fancies.”

“That is unhappily true,” answered the Vagrant, “and it is cruelly hard on the children. Besides, disbelief in what they say blunts their moral sense; it is always better to take it for granted that a child is telling the truth, for even if he is saying what he knows to be false, trust begets shame in him for the deception, and he rises to the trust reposed in him. Our correspondent tells us also of a very wonderful vision he had of the Lord Buddha, when he was lying in danger of his physical life from the weakness of his heart already mentioned. He saw the Lord - his own eyes being wide open - sitting in a dazzling light on a lotus-throne, and the Presence sent warm rays, as of the sun, through and through him; a few hours later, he arose from his bed, and the heart-weakness had gone, never since to return. After some years, a great wish arose in him to see again that blessed vision, and he sat down and closed his eyes, breathing that wish. What followed is very instructive, and I read it in his own words:”

“Immediately upon closing the eyes I saw the beautiful artistic designs that usually come first to me on entering the astral realm. They were clearly outlined and daintily coloured,” “No,” I thought at once, “I do not want to look at these no?”. The scenes changed quickly. I saw now all kinds of flowers. They had very delicate colours and seemed to be made out of soft, somewhat subdued, light. It looked magnificent. “No”, I thought, “not tha?”. Then there came a new kaleidoscopic change, and I saw a veritable Garden of Eden: trees and shrubs and fields that looked like a concentration of multi-coloured sun-rays. The scenery gave an impression of sweetness, harmony and peace. “No,” I thought again, “not that, either.” Another change, and now everywhere around me I saw myriads of beautiful heads and faces and eyes, angelic in expression, approaching and receding in rhythmical, wave-like movements all the time. “No,” I thought, “I want to see once more the Blessed One, at whose Lotus-Feet one third of our race bends down in worship, the first Buddha of our humanity:

In earths and heavens and hells incomparable,
The Teacher of Nirvâna and the Law.

Instantly a quick, soft, rippling sound was distinctly heard. It sounded as when silk is torn. And again I saw, this time with my eyes closed, the shining white Form and Figure of the Tathagata. Everything else had disappeared.?”



In the Twilight (24)

first published in the Theosophist, Feb, 1912, p747-754

“I have received from Hungary,” said the Vagrant, “an interesting account of some phenomena familiar enough to students, but apparently unknown there, for the writer calls them ‘fantastic, incredible’. It seems that a young peasant-girl, living in Korosbanya, was employed as a servant in the house of the local Judge, M Balint Doczy. On Christmas Eve, 1910, Dr Zoltan Borbely, a Registrar, and his wife were guests of the Judge, and, as midnight struck and as the party began to exchange Christmas good wishes, pieces of wood and stone, clods of frozen earth, loose grains of corn and dried maize, were suddenly flung against the windows and walls of the house. The Judge and his guests startled, thought that an attack was being made, and did not observe, in their alarm, that the peasant-girl was trembling and was livid with fright. Armed with revolvers and sticks, they rushed out of the house, but could see no one. Yet the stones continued to fall. They returned to the house, and found the ladies present trying to revive the little servant, who had swooned. On her recovery, she explained, sobbing, that she was the cause of the tumult: ‘It's not my fault,’ she whimpered; ‘whenever I stay more than a month in one place, trouble begins; after the 31st day, stones, clods, bits of wood, ears of maize, are thrown at me. I don't know why it is like this. Help me, kind gentlemen, or I shall die.’ Naturally the Judge did not believe the peasant's story, and as the rain of stones gradually diminished, she was put to bed, and the family retired to their rooms. The next day, in chambers, the Judge related the events of the preceding night, and M Kincses, the Land Registrar, after listening attentively, remarked: ‘This girl was maidservant in my house in November last, and at the end of a month, all sorts of things flew towards her. I did not believe in this kind of magnetism, and when she constantly begged to be cured, I thought she was mad, and sent her away.’ This confirmation of the phenomena caused much excitement, and the acts and movements of the girl were closely watched. Enquiries were made at Lunka, the native village of the peasant, and it was found that she could not remain more than a month at a time in her parents' house, as at the end of that period all sorts of objects were attracted by her. The girl was overwhelmed with questions, and related her experiences as follows: ‘Last summer I was taking care of my father's sheep in the fields, when, for the first time, a dry ear of maize flew towards me. I looked round, but saw no one who could have thrown it at me. I was frightened, and began to run away. Wherever I went, the trees on the road bent towards me, and the tops of quite high trees bent down to my head. On the road, passers-by crossed themselves, for they saw many objects flying towards me. I arrived at home exhausted, and I crouched down under a mulberry-tree, quite tired out. The flying objects tumbled down all round me, and there they still are. Wherever I go, after the 31st day, this witchcraft begins, and everything flies towards me. I have to leave my employers, for everyone thinks me mad.’ Judge Doczy and Registrar Borbely set to work to study this extraordinary case, as did a governess, named Maria Schussel, and all can bear witness to this flight of objects towards the servant. Much excitement arose in the neighbourhood, no one being willing to believe in the facts. Now that they are established thoroughly, people begin to be afraid. Judge Doczy, in spite of the evidence of his senses, still believes that some criminal agency is behind the phenomena, and has applied to the police. Police and doctors both watch the peasant-girl, but no physical explanation has been found of these strange happenings. But, after all,” concluded the Vagrant, “there is nothing very novel in them.”

“There was a somewhat similar case not long ago in Bombay,” said a visitor, “only there was no one person as a centre for the disturbance. A friend of mine took a house, and soon found that stones were flung into the rooms until the nuisance became so great as to compel him to remove. All his family were witnesses of the facts.”

“There are many records of such disturbances,” said the Vagrant. “‘Poltergeist’ is the name given in Germany to the creatures who produce them. They are stupid and annoying, and for the most part irrational. Sometimes noises and movements of objects are accidently caused by persons still in the etheric double, blundering about in the immediate neighbourhood of their corpses. D'Assier's book, translated by the President-Founder, gives a number of these cases.”

“The Rev. Stainton Moses,” remarked the Shepherd, “often found himself a centre towards which objects in the room would fly. In his case, as in many spiritualistic seances, nature-spirits and disembodied persons were the usual agents. Apports, as they are called, are one of the commonest phenomena at seances, but these are distinguished from the stone-throwing nuisance by having a distinct and rational motive.”

“Then, again, objects may be deliberately moved by an exercise of super-normal power,” said the Vagrant. “HPB would use an elemental - a nature-spirit - to bring her something she wanted. I remember also seeing her basket containing tobacco move across the table to her - probably drawn by an extension of the astral arm, and one day she lighted a cigarette by raising it to the gas-light out of ordinary reach over her head.”

“Similarly”, said the Shepherd, “the late Lord Lytton - the author of Zanoni, not the Viceroy - drew an envelope to his hand across the room. I was a very small boy at the time, and was under the table in the room where he was sitting.”

“Any more stories,” asked the Vagrant.

“Here are two experiences,” put in the Magian, “from one who calls himself a novice on the Astral Plane. I will read them.”

I stood on the pinnacle of an enormous mountain. At my feet and for a long distance down the almost perpendicular slope glittered the ‘eternal’ snow. Miles and miles below lay a fertile valley, with a river winding through it like a silvery serpent. The sun, near the horizon, bathed the fleecy clouds in the most exquisite colours. The glorious panorama and the pure atmosphere filled me with a hitherto-unknown sense of ecstatic well-being.

Suddenly, as I saw my younger brother standing on my left and a stranger to my right, the snow gave way under our feet, and we were falling to what I felt was certain death. A sharp projecting rock stuck out of the snow, and instinctively my hand shot out and grasped it desperately, while I shouted to the others to take hold of my legs. A sharp pull on both legs told me that they had done so; but to my horror I felt like the rock give way slowly under our combined weight. ‘If I kick myself free from the others, I may possibly be able to save myself,’ thought I, ‘and if I do not, we shall surely all perish. As far as my own life is concerned I do not much care, except that I am aspiring to become a disciple, and wish to make it useful in Their service. But even if I see no possible way of escape for my brother and the other fellow, this brief delay may enable them to find something to cling to; anyhow I cannot save myself at my brother's expense, and we will slide down together.’

These and many other thoughts flashed through my mind in a few moments while I felt the rock slipping, and it certainly was a most terrible moral ordeal. At last the rock gave way entirely, and I felt myself and my brother sliding down the glacier. But the stranger had somehow got a secure hold on another projecting rock, and I as slid by him I caught hold of his leg. His rock held securely, and gradually, with the utmost caution, we all three managed to creep back on to the ridge and safety. The experience was very vividly impressed on my physical brain when I awoke.

“Here is the second experience,” said the Magian and read.

It is one of the peculiar characteristics of an ordinary dream, that the dreamer (in the absence of logical reasoning) accepts all sorts of incongruous situations in a matter of fact way. It was therefore a very delightful experience when one morning early I found myself wide awake on the astral plane in full every-day consciousness.

I was travelling along a winding mountain road on a sort of tricycle-like vehicle with two companions. After wondering with logical sequence where I was and how I got there, I soon felt sure that I was away on the astral plane while my body lay in bed asleep; but it was hard to convince myself that the scenery was not physical because I could not notice any difference. The mountains, trees, flowers, rocks, etc., looked just as solid as they do on the physical plane, and I watched everything with the keenest attention.

At last we stepped before a sort of farm-house or inn and went in. Some good housewife was baking cakes on a red-hot stove, and the appetising odour made me feel hungry. ‘How ridiculous of me!’ thought I, ‘one does not eat cakes or anything else on the astral plane,’ and straightway I forgot the hunger, while a new idea took hold of me. ‘Fire does not burn an astral body,’ I reflected: ‘to make absolutely sure that my finger is not physical I shall stick it on the hot stove.’ I did so, but quickly drew it back to blow on it. The stove ‘felt’ decidedly hot. Again I reflected: ‘It felt hot, but didn't really burn me. Now, the ‘feeling’ must be all in my imagination, because that stove seems so terribly real, and it is hard to convince myself it isn't physical. Here goes again!’ I put my whole hand down on the stove, and the feeling of heat gradually left me. Now that I was convinced that I really was on the astral plane, I stuck my hand through the solid iron and down into the burning coals. Being satisfied with this experiment, I became very anxious to get ‘acclimatised,’ and make myself fit to be of some use as a helper. I therefore went out to a bluff some distance from the house and jumped off. I fell like a stone, bumped against some trees, rolled down an embankment, and landed all twisted up in the bottom of a creek. I picked myself up and noticed that I did not feel hurt in any way. ‘Another case of imagination’, thought I; ‘I am so used to the law of gravitation that I could not convince myself that I wouldn't fall, and so I fell in obedience to a sub-conscious impulse. Now I shall climb on to that high precipice on the other wide of this creek and jump off again, and make up my mind not to fall.’ I did so, and floated down as gently as a feather this time, although I felt a little dizzy while in mid-air.

When I got down, I decided to go back to the house through the solid rock instead of climbing the hill, but just then I felt myself slipping back into my physical body, and it was with the keenest regret that I found myself in bed and my astral experience at an end.

“This comes from an Irish friend, who would like an explanatio?” said the Magian and read:

I have recently inherited the property on which this house is situated. Shortly before the death of my eldest brother from whom I inherited it, our steward was walking down our avenue when he met what appeared to him as a headless man galloping on a horse, with his (the man's) head under his left arm. The same apparition appears to have been seen by our shepherd shortly before the death of my father. My father died on September 12, 1873, in this house. My brother died on May 18, 1901 in England and had not been here for nearly twenty years. My eldest brother succeeded my father in the property.

“Well, we will talk about it next time,” said the Shepherd.



In the Twilight (25)

first published in the Theosophist, April, 1912, p120-124

“I have received an interesting letter from New Zealand,” said the Vagrant, “it tells about a most unpleasant ghost, whose appearance was accompanied by very violent physical manifestations. The member who writes showed great courage under trying circumstances. Here is the letter:”

“The person to whom the house belongs bought it some nine or ten years ago, and very soon after the family went to the house, they used to see some one pass a certain window, sometimes once or twice a month. They got so used to it that they thought nothing of it. This went on for years, and then, some nine months ago, they commenced to see this person coming every week, then every day, and sometimes twice a day, and it began to get on their nerves. The person who owns the house has a large family. She is rather psychic and can see many things, but she is not religious at all, though she has read some of Mr Leadbeater's books that I have lent her. She had told me when they first went to the house about this person passing the window; as I had not heard them speak of it lately I had nearly forgotten about it. She asked me what she could do to prevent its coming, when it began to come so often. I thought at first it might be some one she knew, who might want help. I told her to try to see who it was (the face had always been turned from the window), and to make the sign of the Cross, and if she could not find out, or did not know, who it was, to say: ‘Begone, in the name of God.’ One of our Fellows had told me to do this, in the case of an evil influence coming near, and to make a mental picture of a golden disc with a blue five-pointed star in it, and to say the sacred word. I only told her to make the Cross, and did the other myself, when she asked me to do something. One day she saw this person coming fast, and as she looked, she also saw her little dog coming up the path. He saw the figure, and he cried and crawled along the ground; the thing threw up its hands, and threw them out as if throwing something at the dog; then the dog ran into a field, and was found dead there the same day. She saw the face when the thing threw up its hands, and it was a terrible one, she said. Again she woke one night, and saw the man in the room bending over her daughter (who slept in another bed in the same room), making a drawing motion with his hands, as if drawing the girl to him. The girl did not wake, but groaned in her sleep. The man was dressed in a long brown robe, with something white, falling from the neck to the feet. The mother was so frightened for her daughter, that she sat up in bed and made the sign of the Cross, and said: “Begone, in the name of God.” The man disappeared, and there seemed to be a whirling in the room, and a silver mounted bottle split with a noise. The next day there were dreadful thumps on the outer wall. So one thing and another kept occurring, but it always stopped for two or three days after I had said the word there, and then it commenced again. On one occasion she saw it outside very plainly in the afternoon, and she spoke to it, and asked it what it wanted and it answered, but not in a language she knew. She said the man looked like a Hindu or Malay. Whatever he said, it must have been evil, for presently he pulled out a curved knife and came at her; but she advanced on him, and he disappeared. She asked me if I could not do something to send it away. I did not know of anything, but I thought that I would try, and I went into the bed-room, and folded my hands, and centred myself in the heart, and said a mantra seven times. As soon as I began, something, some force, whirled round me, up and above me; it seemed at one time as if it would lift me off my feet, but I stood firm till I ended the mantra, and I kept my mind fixed. The lady was looking on all the time, and said she could see smoke or mist of a violet shade whirling round me, very quickly, and she said I seemed to be nearly lifted off my feet. We went into the kitchen, where something had been seen (every one in the family had seen it, and strangers had too). I did the same thing there, and the same thing again occurred. The next morning the parrot in the kitchen was found dead, and a tree just outside the bed-room window was broken right down to the ground. She said she had seen me come in the night; and that it was towards the window I always looked, and towards which I seemed to be drawn, though I did not move, of course. She said she often saw me at night, and when she did she was not troubled by anything, and had no bad dreams; and that when I came there was always a smell of incense, as there was the night I said the mantra. The same night that I said the mantra when I was going home, she came to her gate with me, and as we stood we saw a luminous figure coming towards us. I advanced to meet it, and I said the word and the mantra, and told it to be gone, and it disappeared; neither the family nor herself was troubled with it afterwards for a month. But last night, when I was at the house, some members of the family said that they could feel something just outside the front gate, as if something was close to them, but they saw nothing. So I said the mantra and word there, and we saw something like a wave undulating along the road, and a small black object (which had also been seen in the house before I said the mantra) in this undulating wave, going up the street very quickly.”

“A very unpleasant ghost,” concluded the Vagrant. “A point of interest is the suggestion of the Malay appearance and the curved knife, indicating the low and violent type of the elementary.”

“Can such a creature harm one?” asked a listener.

“Not unless you become frightened,” answered the Vagrant. “Always remember that, on the physical plane, you are stronger than such an elementary, but you must not play into his hands by being afraid.”

“I remember,” said the Vestal, “that two hands once seized me by the throat, and I felt frightened, but the creature let me go.”

“We have all been frightened at times,” smiled the Vagrant, “but even so, we must always pull ourselves together, and face such an assailant, refusing to give way, and thinking firmly: ‘I am stronger than you; you cannot hurt me.’ And if you can manage to feel kind and compassionate, the unfortunate creature will retire and fade away.”

“Is incense useful?” asked the Doctor.

“Yes,” replied the Vagrant; “incense, five-pointed star, mantra, the sacred word - all are useful. But a brave heart and pure conscience are the best of all. There are evil forces in other worlds and in this, but nothing can injure the pure and the fearless.”



In the Twilight (26)

first published in the Theosophist, May, 1912, p281-285

“Our Vagrant sends from London” said the Magian, “the following striking stor?”:

A remarkable ‘miracle of healing’ is chronicled in the Evening News of February 20, 1912. Dorothy Kerrin, a girl of twenty-one years of age, living at 204 Milkwood Road, Herne Hill, has been losing health since she was fourteen, and has been unable to stand upright for five years. At that time she went to a consumptive sanatorium near Reading, but was sent home, after nine months, no better. She had measles, and then gastric trouble, and was in S. Bartholemew's hospital for nine weeks. Later she was refused admission to a hospital at Hampstead as being two far gone in consumption, and went to a nursing home in S. Leonards for a short time. She then was an inmate in S. Peter's Home for Incurables in Kilburn, and was brought home in the ambulance two years ago, it being thought that she would not then live for a week. She grew worse, but did not die, and, at the beginning of February, 1912, she became blind and deaf. Twenty-eight doctors have seen her during the five years, so that her case can be traced without difficulty.

On Sunday February 18, her eyesight and hearing suddenly returned, she got out of bed, declared herself to be free from pain, and during the following days she walked about the house, took food like other people, made her own bed, and appeared to be quite well. The girl's own account of this astonishing event is as follows:

I saw a circle of fire, and it seemed to have two hands. The two hands took hold of my two hands. They were warm hands. I heard a voice saying: “Dorothy, your sufferings are over. Get up and walk?”
The two hands then made my hands touch my eyes, and I found myself sitting up in bed and able to see my mother and father standing in the room.
To-day I feel quite well. I have no pain at all. I feel as if I had never been in bed at all - not even shaky.

The Evening News next gives the evidence of the doctor who has attended the girl during the last two years; he has been in practice for twenty-five years. He is an F.R.C.S. of England. Along with this he has a number of other degrees. He is a J.P. for the county of London and holds a number of official appointments. In attending her he had found all the gravest symptoms of advanced tuberculosis, of diabetes, and other complications. She had been attended, under him, by Jubilee nurses up to the present, and a chart was kept of her temperature. This chart shows that her temperature rose and fell in the most alarming way - sometimes reaching as high as 105 degree. He cannot offer any explanation of the sudden recovery. Such is the remarkable story published all over England. The long illness, the observation of so many doctors, seem to take the case outside the possibility of deliberate fraud, such as has been found to exist in some instances of apparently sudden recovery from grave illness. One would like to know if any direct effort had been made to help Miss Kerrin by any body of people engaged in the endeavour to heal, or if any special prayer had been offered for her recovery, that might have drawn to her the attention of any Invisible Helper.

“Apropos of healing” said the Magian “the Vagrant narrates another story. Here it i?”:

In a letter from an Australian correspondent, an interesting case of healing is given; my correspondent writes: “Just at the end of September I had a wire to go to H. in the Great Riverina district NSW, to a step-daughter dangerously ill; when I arrived the doctor said it was impossible for her to live two hours. But I had been healing a good many people before I left, and power was granted to me so that she lived. The Doctor and Matron said: ‘It is like a miracle’. I said: ‘Faith is once more justified of her children; also the life of her child was given to me ...’ The Hospital people soon got interested, then the Presbyterian minister, and the interest is still continuing.”

“The Vagrant further remarks” added the Magian “that she met the other day, a well-known gentleman, who told her that he had healed cases of cancer and paralysis, as well as smaller ills. His method is an intense concentrated prayer, and the cure follows.”

“Here are some other stories,” he continued, “forwarded by our good Shepherd. He has the name of the Doctor concerned, and the name of the country town, but has not received permission to publish the?”:

A Doctor in a small country market town had a call in the early hours of the morning to go to a child at a farm two miles out; he, having an assistant living with him, asked the assistant to go. The latter called the groom up, got the horse and conveyance ready, and set off. It being a very foggy night they missed the gate turning into the field to the farm-house, and went along the road about two miles before they found out their mistake; they turned round, and eventually arrived at the farm to find that the child had been dead two hours, and that no one was able to throw any light upon the cause of death. The assistant returned home. In the morning when the assistant came down to breakfast, the Doctor was having his, and after saying: “Good morning,” the Doctor asked the assistant what he had been doing to miss his way to the farm. He said it was on account of the dense fog. The Doctor then said: “Why, the child had been dead two hours when you got there, and died through having a pea in the larynx.” The assistant was rather inclined to be angry with the Doctor and wanted to know how he had come to know what had happened. The Doctor, however, would not tell him, but asked him what his certificate was going to be; he replied he did not know, and thought he must have a post-mortem. The Doctor agreed that this was the best course to take, and said he would go with him to assist in the post-mortem. They went, and arranged that the assistant should make the examination and the Doctor should take the particulars down. The assistant pronounced all the organs perfectly healthy, although the Doctor suggested to him that the lungs were congested. The Doctor then said: “Well, you are no nearer your certificate. What is it going to be?” The assistant said that he could not tell. The Doctor said: “Now, if you won't cut into the larynx, I will.” The assistant did so, and there was the pea. This is a perfectly true story, and can be substantiated by the Coroner, the jurymen, the Doctor and the assistant. The pea was shown at the inquiry.

This same Doctor was staying all night at the Great Northern Station Hotel in London, and during his sleep saw every particular of an execution. When he went into the station in the morning, he was anxious to know if what he had seen in his sleep had actually occurred; so he went to the book-stall and asked for a paper with an account of the execution. The man at the stall told him that it had not been published, but, if he was anxious to know about it, there was Marwood the executioner on the platform with the black bag. The Doctor approached Marwood, and, after appologising, asked him if he had had an execution that morning, to which Marwood replied: “Yes.” He then told Marwood all that had happened at the execution. Marwood was staggered to tell how he knew, and passed the matter off by jokingly stating that the Doctor had a lovely neck for a rope.



In the Twilight (27)

first published in the Theosophist, Sept, 1912, p926-930

“It is interesting,” writes the Vagrant, “to see how the expectation of the coming of a great Teacher is spreading in all directions; the last that has reached me comes from quite an unexpected quarter, a spiritualistic seance. I suppress the names - which are all given in the letter I am going to translate - and send the facts as they are therein related. The letter runs as follows:”

“A Mme. X., has been, during the last two years, a medium of a quite unusual kind to a spiritist group at M---. She had never meddled in any way with Spiritualism, and had been a thorough materialist for many years, when she became suddenly controlled by a spirit calling himself Motersadi. Impelled by him, she went to seek for the President of a spiritist group at M---. The spirit thereupon announced that the mediumship of Mme. X. had one quite definite object, and would only last for two years; it was caused in order to direct a nucleus in the group to prepare to serve a young Hindu, in whom would be manifested the coming incarnation of the Christ. At each bi-monthly seance Motersadi gave teachings entirely in accord with those of Theosophy, warned the group as to certain dangers connected with Spiritualism, and insisted that those who felt themselves ready to do so should leave Spiritualism and place themselves under the direction of Mrs Annie Besant. Mme. X. had never heard either of Mrs Besant or of Theosophy, and as soon as these names were uttered, the President grew hostile. The spirit thereupon said that the movement had better be made outside the spiritist group, and since last July those present were adjured to join the Order of the Star in the East.”

“Mme. X. was made to speak in a language unknown to her; a figure appeared, resembling a sort of venerable priest living in Tibet; she prostrated before him, uttering some words which she felt to be a salutation of veneration. He wore a curious triangular cap, which, like his robe, was yellow, with violet embroidery. He spoke mentally to Mme. X. and she replied, still in the unknown language, concluding with an invocation, in which I [the writer] distinguished the words: Rama, Rama, Ramayana, Manu, and the name of Maitreya, repeated several times, a name quite unknown to Mme. X. She now, in her normal state, sees at all our meetings a brilliant yellow cloud which lights up the room, and when the lecture is being given, she sees a splendid Star, always above the head of the lecturer, shining with lustre and sending out dazzling rays when the subject is inspiring.”

“I know well that we are helped; but I confess to feeling some fear as to these manifestations, which seem to favour astral influences which should be curbed and guided.”

“Mme. X. thought that, once she obeyed and had joined us, she would no longer be compelled to utter these invocations in a strange language, because, she said, she felt that it was not a normal development; that although she experienced a quite indescribable joy and felt lifted above herself, she also felt her mind rebel against these incomprehensible events, a void which alarmed her brain, and made her fear madness.”

“Have I done well in advising her to cultivate her will-power, and to refuse to be lifted into this ecstasy - which comes upon her without her volition - more than once during the day, as she finds it impossible to prevent it altogether. I have never before seen any spiritist phenomena; I can shorten these manifestations by holding Mme. X.'s hand, and she then becomes quiet; ought I to do this? I also am strongly conscious of the presences she speaks of, and have towards them no other feeling than respect. I am afraid that these manifestations may cause trouble in our group, and I do not know what to do in this disorderly astral atmosphere of our town, in which we have just begun to spread Theosophical ideas.?”

“Both the writer and the medium”, remarks the Vagrant, “are evidently people of strong intelligence and balance, and the writer's advice is sound. It is not desirable to lose self-control, and to be carried away into ecstasies without one's own consent, however enjoyable they may be. It is wiser to make one's footing sure in unknown regions, to advance slowly, and not to surrender oneself helplessly into unknown hands. If Mme. X. deliberately tried, in quiet meditation, to reach her Tibetan ‘priest’, she might enter into voluntary and conscious communication with him, without any surrender of self-control. Our correspondent gives another interesting incident, connected with the first meeting of the Order of the Star in the East; a gentleman came to it under the following circumstances:”

“In January, 1911, his son, a boy of twelve years of age, told him that he had had a dream that the Star in the East was founded, and would be heard of in the town of M.--- in July or August, and that he should join it. He had seen in a dream ‘a boy much taller than I am’, whom he had known, as soldiers know their general, for many lives, whose follower he had always been, who taught him many things, and advised him to go to our [Theosophical] meetings. This young lad gave so striking a description of this being whom he said was his superior, that I lately asked him to tell me exactly where he was. He answered without hesitation: ‘At this moment in England, but usually in Asia.’ I gave him the March number of The Theosophist, and told him to look at the pictures. He turned over the pages obediently and looked attentively at the pictures. Presently he came to the portrait of Alcyone, and cried out: ‘There is the beautiful boy I saw in my dream.’”

“What should one do with this child? I objected to his coming to the O.S.E. and T.S. meetings, on the ground that he was too young. He answered: ‘Madame, whatever you decide will be right. But do you not think that it is a mistake to judge a person entirely by his age? Is it not by lives that we must go, and have you not noticed that there are some grown-up men who will be children to their death, and children who are men in reason and judgement?’ Such language is astonishing from a child whose mother-tongue is not French, and who lives amid humble surroundings, where he can have heard no such ideas. He is one of the best students in the first class of his communal school, and in the opinion of all who know him, is no ordinary child.”

“HPB told us in The Secret Doctrine that more and more exceptional children would be born, as must indeed happen in a time of transition. What to do with such children? as our correspondent asks, for this particular little boy. Ordinary schools ruin their natural evolution. To offer to take charge of them, even with the consent of the parent, exposes the guardian - at any rate, in India - to constant suspicion and vilification, for he is always supposed to be aiming at some hidden gain for himself; the fact that people cannot discover the non-existent secret leaves the way open for every accusation that malice can invent. Ought one to let the nations lose the future services of such children, leaving them to be beaten into the conventional, or help them and bear the mud-throwing that such a course will involve??”

“A difficult problem,” was the general opinion.



In the Twilight (28)

first published in the Theosophist, April, 1913, p109-114

“Here is a question,” said the Vagrant, “which opens up a very interesting subject. ‘Two friends of mine came in contact with a young man from whom they received much valuable teaching on reincarnation, karma, and allied subjects, teaching which transformed their lives; it advocated great purity, love, and sacrifice for humanity. The teacher had various stupendous powers, could materialise and dematerialise objects, precipitate writings, and so on. His teaching was mostly given in trance. He was later found to be a man of immoral life, obtaining money on false pretences, drinking, and gambling. How could such a life consist with such powers?’” The Vagrant remarked: “It is not necessary that a man should be of noble character, in order to be able to do astral things in the way this man did. What are here called ‘stupendous powers’ are not what the Occultist would call stupendous. Many of the things mentioned could be done through a medium in the state of trance, and are constantly so done. Nor is it at all impossible that a man should have high aspirations, and yet be unable to live up to them. Here, we do not even seem to have the aspirations, for the man was merely spoken through when entranced, and such transmission of high teachings is no guarantee of nobility of life. If a man gave teaching coming direct, say, from the buddhic plane, then the question of the purity of his life would certainly come in; for he could not reach that plane unless pure; but not so if he simply repeated ordinary Theosophical teachings. Apart from this, a certain amount of astral force and the capacity to manipulate it is not at all a proof of high spirituality. Even when you are dealing with the stronger type of the Black People, you will find them of very rigid life, quite as rigid as the White, partly because great control of the body is necessary if they are going to manipulate some of the subtler forces.”

“The story,” said the Shepherd, “reads exactly like a description of a spiritualistic séance. I have myself seen all these things done at séances, and I have heard the dead people talk in a most moral way, and propound all sorts of good ideas. If a man shows the possession of powers, that does not prove that he is a good man; one learns such things as one learns to play the piano. It does not mean that you are very noble; it is rather perhaps that you are persevering: that is all. If you endeavour to make progress on the Path of Holiness, then at once the question of your character comes in; but you must remember that all these powers come to a man on that Path of Holiness without special seeking - come much later. The possession of such powers does not prove anything whatever as to the presence of moral character; but the idea that they do has arisen from this other fact, that if you pursue the Path of Holiness they come to you because you have developed the whole nature; but it is possible to learn particular tricks without any particular character. It requires merely a strong will, which is not incompatible with a bad character.”

“I do not see that any of these things prove holiness at all,” said the Vagrant. “In fact, they have nothing at all to do with it; a good electrician or a good chemist may not be a good man.”

“Just so,” answered the Shepherd. “You should all try to understand the way in which knowledge is obtained and brought down to the brain, and then you will see where right conduct comes in. To use any faculties which involve the causal body, the man must not yield himself to the lower passions and to emotions that are generally condemned. It must also be remembered that however magnificent a man's faculties may be at higher levels or in the causal body, if what he sees is to be of any use to any one else on the physical plane, it will have to come down through, and be reported by, the physical brain. In order to do that it must obviously pass through first the mental body and then the astral body. All these bodies are capable of violent disturbance - of exceedingly rapid vibration. Disturbed thought or worry will utterly upset the mental body; and in just the same way, any kind of violent emotion will cause profound disturbance in the astral vehicle. If the mind is disturbed, it is impossible to think clearly or consecutively, so that even the mental body itself cannot be properly used to do its own regular work, when it is already in a condition of excitement and confusion. Far less can it receive and faithfully transmit the exceedingly delicate vibrations which come down to it from the causal body. What is seen in the causal body is seen under conditions utterly, fundamentally, different from anything that we can conceive down here - in more dimensions; so that it is of itself, in reality, indescribable, and it is exceedingly difficult even under the best of conditions to make a coherent and comprehensible report down here of what is seen in that higher world. Therefore it will be easily understood that in order to bring through a clear and reliable record, the very best possible conditions must be provided, and that means that both the mental and the astral bodies must be absolutely still, so far as all their ordinary activities are concerned. Even the excitement occasioned by good emotions of wonder or reverence also causes the bodies to oscillate disproportionately, and thus prevents a clear recognition and record of facts. Absolutely still the particles of these higher vehicles can never be, because they are alive and very keenly and actively alive; therefore they have a regular vibration of their own which cannot be stilled without destroying them; but under all normal conditions, to that inherent vibration of the separate particles we add huge swinging vibrations caused by our thought or feeling respectively, so that the vehicles are in a condition of great activity. It is that activity which must be stilled. Be it remembered also that these vehicles are like the ocean, in that after being stirred up by a violent storm it takes them a considerable time to settle down again - a very much longer time than would ordinarily be supposed. A man may fall into a violent passion, which means a very terrible disturbance of his astral body. For the time, even his physical body is much disturbed; but the signs of his outburst of temper may all pass away in the course of an hour or so, and he may externally regain his good humour; but it would be a mistake to think that his astral body had returned to the condition in which it was before that spasm of rage. It may very well be quite twenty-four hours, or even more, before that body is comparatively still, and during all that time it would distort very seriously any impressions which passed through it. So it will be seen that one who wishes to describe accurately anything that he has seen on higher planes must not only be in a peaceful condition as regards both his mind and his emotions at the time when he tries to see, but he must also have maintained that peaceful condition for a considerable time previously. In fact, in order to have any degree of certainty, he must be a person who is incapable of any serious upsetting of either of these intermediate vehicles. The same thing applies to the physical body also. If through ill-health, either the dense physical body or the etheric part of it is out of order, there will be a certainty of distortion for that reason. If the circulation of the blood be defective, if there be in the brain too much or too little of that fluid, or if on the other hand there be a lack of vitality, or if the flow of magnetism along the nerves be not regular or sufficient, the physical body will act as a barrier, even though the necessary vibrations may have passed safely through the mental and the astral. So we see that not only perfect physical, but perfect astral and mental health is necessary for clear seeing, and most especially the greatest calmness on all planes, the most balanced judgment and the most fully developed common-sense.”

“These remarks,” interjected the Vagrant, “apply also in a way to the case of ordinary science - drunkenness, and profligacy, carried to a point which injures the senses of a man, would interfere with his work; for instance, if his hand shakes while making an experiment, or his eye does not see clearly.”

“Yes,” replied the Shepherd, “it would interfere not because of a man's vices but because of their results.”

“This man gives all his addresses in trance,” proceeded the Vagrant, “and you often get such teachings in spiritualistic séances. Such addresses are often good and well-meant, though the person through whom they come may be a very undesirable person. You may find a medium drinking, and there at once is a vice which is very injurious, and yet that would not, for a time at least, prevent very good teaching from coming through him.”



In the Twilight (29)

first published in the Theosophist, May, 1913, p277-280

“I do not quite understand repercussion,” said a student. “Does it really occur?”

“Oh yes,” replied the Vagrant. “It occurred to me once in my early days, when in an astral adventure I saw a mast about to fall on me; I thought to myself: ‘That will come right across me.’ The next moment I remembered that it would not hurt me if it did; but the result of that momentary thought was a repercussion. The next morning I had a great blue bruise on my leg when I awoke. The vibration in the astral body causes a similar vibration in the physical body. Hence the bruise.”

“Would the stigmata of the Christian Saints,” asked a gentle voice from the back, “be an instance of repercussion?”

“Yes. Stigmata are not of very rare occurrence. I have seen accounts of two such cases in my own lifetime, one of a girl in a convent in Belgium; and it happens generally to monks or nuns. They meditate, kneeling, with their eyes fixed on a crucifix above their heads. These are just the conditions for producing the hypnotic trance, especially if the eyes were looking upwards with the axes slightly crossed (strabismus). Now supposing the monk or the nun goes into a trance in this way, he has the idea of the Christ upon the Cross strongly fixed upon the brain. The result of this very strong suggestion is the production of the wounds in the person himself. It is quite a simple thing, and corresponds in every point with the way in which wounds have been produced by hypnotic suggestion at the great hospital of the Salpêtrière in Paris. By hypnotism, burns have been often produced. Reading over, as we may do now, a number of the trials in the Middle Ages for witchcraft, it is quite clear that under a great amount of superstition and exaggeration and carelessness, there is a substratum of fact. The evidence is often very clear and there is no reason to disbelieve it.”

“What of the fixing of the eyes on the point of the nose in meditation?”

“It is one of the artificial ways of quieting the body and dulling it down to a point where it will not interfere with thought. One of the unsatisfactory things is that a person who induces trance in this way does not bring back a memory of what he has done or learned, when he returns to his body. The results reached in this way are very poor.”

“It is a sort of back-door way,” chimed in the Shepherd, “of gaining what ought to be obtained by an exercise of the will,”

“A person who is hypnotised or in a trance state,” continued the Vagrant, “has his circulation and breathing very much slackened. If you touch a person who is asleep, you will wake him, while in the trance state you may fire a pistol near his ear and not wake him. In the one case the physical body is vitalised and healthy, in the other devitalised. A man in such a condition would probably in his astral body be in the same state as in ordinary sleep.”

“A man in trance,” remarked the Shepherd, “sometimes takes up the etheric double with him and then he gets very much confused.”

“Yes. Of course a man who knows how to throw himself into trance by an effort of the will is in quite a different condition. I was thinking more of trance produced mechanically. If you once take out part of the etheric double, you are in a terrible muddle. You may be as conscious as you like, but you are in a fog. I experienced that only once, under the influence of laughing-gas, when a tooth was taken out, and I will never do it again. The gas drives out the etheric double, producing trance in that way. In the case of anaesthetics the etheric double is driven out, and you float about in it. In my case, I dimly saw my body on the chair and the dentist, but as if I were looking through a dense fog. The fog was my own etheric double. It was a very disagreeable experience, and having dislocated myself in this way, I could not get right for days. I went in and out of my body repeatedly to try to fit myself in. You may remember (turning to the Shepherd) that I asked you what on earth was the matter with me. A really good materialising medium in trance loses a quantity of not only the etheric but also of the gaseous, liquid and even solid matter of his body. You see his head quite sinking into his collar. Madame d'Esperance's body used to disappear for a time, it was said.”

“Miss Arundale saw a great deal of this kind of thing at séances at one time,” went on the Vagrant, “and she told me that when Eglinton came to her mother's house once to give a séance, a full-sized materialised form came out into the room, carrying Eglinton in its arms. Eglinton himself had dwindled to the size of a child. The materialised form was that of the big Arab, Abdullah. She told me this, and I think she was an accurate observer.”

Said the Shepherd: “I saw Abdullah and Ernest and a third form, a child, all materialised at one time from Eglinton. Abdullah and Ernest were carrying him between them, and the child was dancing about in front of them. The medium looked very shrivelled, but not like a child. When he came back he was in a bad condition, very much exhausted.”

“I was once asked to go to a séance when I was in Melbourne,” said the Vagrant. “Three forms came out of the cabinet and walked about amongst us. One of them dematerialised while we were looking at it. It grew smaller and smaller until it was a mere bit of cloud near the floor, and then disappeared. The medium was in a very bad condition afterwards, and was cold as a corpse. I mesmerised her very powerfully, and it took me nearly ten minutes to bring her back. The séance was a very satisfactory one, in the sense that we had light in the room, day-light through red windows.”

“If other entities can take possession of a body during trance,” came an alarmed voice, “cannot they do so also during sleep?”

“There have been cases of change of personality in which a body has been taken possession of by another entity during sleep; but it is very unlikely to happen to the normal person. It is more often in cases of serious accident, or of a fit, that a change of personality takes place. Of course most people, when they have learned to leave the body consciously, leave a shell around it. The body has a certain consciousness of its own, and calls the owner back if it is alarmed. You know how the body shows signs of alarm quite independently of you, as for example, the closing of the eyes involuntarily if an object suddenly comes near.



In the Twilight (30)

first published in the Theosophist, Oct, 1929, p77-78

[The “In the Twilight” series appeared during 1898 in The Theosophical Review and from 1909-1913 in The Theosophist. The following note was added when the series began: ‘The stories given in these monthly records will be authentic, unless the contrary to be definitely stated in any particular case, that is: they will be real experiences.’ - AB {Some more of these stories were found; the one which we give (below) seemed rather suitable for this number of the magazine. - Asst. Ed.}]

“The following is not quite clairvoyance,” said Germania, “but it is a little allied thereto.” In 1902 I happened to be in Leipzig when Colonel Olcott was expected there, and the members of the local T.S. Lodge asked me to act as their interpreter as most of them did not know English. So it came to pass that during three days I had the good fortune of seeing much of our President-Founder and of enjoying his company in quite an intimate manner. One morning we were sitting together in his room in the Kaiserhof. The expected callers had not yet turned up and we were alone. He was smoking and showing me some photographs of his beloved Adyar. Every word he said about his ‘Indian Home’ proved how fond he was of the place. Indeed there was a ring in his voice when speaking of the Headquarters, of the River-Bungalow and of the little flower garden in front of it where there grew roses, fairer than which there were none. I thought by myself: ‘Well the roses in Adyar may be very fine, but that's no reason why those which were presented to the Colonel last night should go without any water. There they are a-dying.’ I only thought it. Instantly the Colonel rose: ‘Let us put these roses into water,’ he said. But even while engaged in doing this he did not cease speaking of the beauties of Adyar, telling me how glorious it was when the sun set behind the bridge and the sky seemed aflame and how one had the impression of the whole place being alive with fairies when, during cool summer-nights, the moonshine was dancing on the river. Suddenly he stopped talking and looked round like some one who has heard himself called by name. He made a few steps towards the middle of the room and remained standing there looking straight before him, evidently intent on listening. I followed him a step or two and then stopped spell-bound. A sort of semi-unconsciousness took hold of me and I could no more move or speak. It was a queer but not a disagreeable feeling and I knew Colonel Olcott's Master was there, speaking to him and He it was who threw this glamour over me. After a few seconds the Colonel turned round again and continued speaking to me as if nothing happened, and I did the same.”

The following is an extract from a letter written by a F.T.S., a professor in a college in Bagdad, who sent another story as well. No date is given.

“A rumor is current among the Jews, but which he has been unable to trace, that a few months ago a Jewish baby, only ten days old, spoke articulately, saying that the Messiah was born.” She [The Vagrant] remarks that however unauthentic the story, its currency is of interest as adding to the growing expectation of the coming of a World-Teacher.



In the Twilight (31)

first published in the Theosophist, Nov, 1929, p207-213

“Here is a remarkable story,” said the Vagrant, “which is sent by a reliable person. I will read it just as it was sent. The scene is Florence.” The writer says:

I have a friend, an English lady, Mrs K., who some years ago rented a palace in the Via Dei. When she lived there she became more and more convinced that conditions were unusual, and she felt as though she were not alone even when apparently in solitude. This aroused her interest and she resolved on investigation aided by a Russian prince N. and Mr H., an English gentleman. These two and Mrs K. decided, that they knew of no better means than to sit at a table, the usual manner of spiritualists, although they were not spiritualists; they followed the alphabetical code. Every word was spelled out gradually and registered as it was spelled. The table began to move and to spell, and when they asked the name of the person that had communicated with them, the answer was given: “R.L.” This did not mean anything to them at first till this person explained that she was an Englishwoman, living in a little village near Mrs K.'s home in England.

R.L. had met with an accident; she had been thrown from a carriage and rendered unconscious. She had remained unconscious for some time and when she recovered sufficiently she asked the doctor to send at once for Mrs K. ... Mrs K. was a stranger to her, but at her request she went at once to see her, and then R.L. said to her, that after her accident when she didn't know what had happened to her, she found herself in a new country which was quite different from England, flowers and trees and everything making her feel that she was in a different place. While there, she said, she saw Mrs K.'s father who had recently passed away, and he beckoned to her and told her when she returned she was to tell his daughter, that she need not expect him to go back to her, to reach her, but that she would certainly meet him again. This was all told by R.L. at the time they first opened communications, and reminded Mrs K. about herself. Mrs K. next asked whether R.L. could explain anything about the conditions of that house, had it any history?

R.L. replied: “I am quite unable to tell you about the murder, but the Cardinal has been trying for a long time to reach you, and obtain your help on behalf of the murderer whose soul is still on earth - bound and in great trouble.” After this, the table began quite a different movement. Before any words were spelt, it tilted cross-wise and then began to spell in Italian. They found that the words were mediaeval Italian, rather differently spelled, and the Cardinal in Italian expressed his thankfulness that finally he had reached them. Then he told them that a murder had been committed in one of the rooms; that it had been committed by a man who had confessed it to him under seal of confession. This had been his godson, bound by certain ties to the Cardinal, who was therefore very earnestly desirous of releasing him from his earthbound condition. They asked him what he desired them to do and he said that he wished the bones of the murdered man which were concealed under the pavement of the hall to be taken and given Christian burial. They asked him: “Is he buried here?” the Cardinal said: “Not buried, only hidden, he received no Christian burial,” he laying considerable stress on that point. They began to carry out his wish by having the pavement lifted but they found that the owner objected, utterly refusing to allow any stone to be touched. He considered the house was too old and he also remained very sceptical as to the story. Although Mrs K. volunteered to defray the expenses and have everything carefully replaced, it was in vain.

Then the Cardinal became very urgent, and perhaps thinking that they needed to be further persuaded of the truth of what he described, he gave them particulars about his life history and his family. He explained that his mother belonged to the family of the Rinaldini. He had been educated in a convent - I think it was near Bologna or Verona, I am not sure. He said he had been appointed twice Cardinal-Archbishop of Florence, and this impressed my friends because that was a life office. The Cardinal explained that through the machinations of his enemies and their intrigues he had been deposed from his office and had been banished for ten years which he spent chiefly in a monastery near Rome. Then he was restored to power. He always refused to give the name of the murderer as he was bound by the seal of confession not to betray any secrets of his penitent. So they only inferred from investigation that the place must have belonged to the family named Larioni which they imagined then was the murderer's name. The Cardinal speaking further about himself, told them to go to a certain palace in Florence and they would find his portrait, which they did. He told them that the murdered youth belonged to the Bardi family and had occupied the position of page in the family, and he said: “Go to the cemetery of San Miniato,” well-known in Florence, and you will find the resting place of the Bardi family where these bones should be buried. The Prince went and was very quickly taken to that portion of the cemetry where he saw the monuments of the Bardi family.

The Cardinal continued to urge and almost insisted upon their carrying out this plan of removing the bones, and at last said: “I will show you through the prince how the crime was committed.” So they arranged that they should dine together the next evening. After dinner they agreed to watch in the hall to see what might happen. The prince was late in reaching the house and they noticed that he looked very tired and disturbed and seemed quite unlike his usual self. They questioned him, and he said that he had had a very perplexing experience, he considered it very uncomfortable. He said that when he went out in the streets of Florence and was strolling about as usual, going in and out of the shops, he was apparently followed by a monk who kept his cowl over his head and concealed the lower part of his face. The prince didn't know what to think of it, and began to feel very tired. He met a friend while he was shopping (he was very fond of going into old curiosity shops) and asked him if he noticed the monk who was following him. His friend said that he saw no monk. After dinner that evening the prince seemed so depressed and tired that they said to him that they would sit and watch and he might rest, and they sat on a carved settle in the hall. Almost immediately the prince fell into a very profound sleep. This was what happened: he rose from his sleep with his eyes closed, walked straight to the part of the hall which now shows only a blank wall. He made the movement of opening a door and they saw him listening; he advanced and seemed to greet some one. They saw his bow. He then moved again to another part of the hall, drew two chairs together, bowed and motioned someone to sit down. He then sat down himself and appeared to listen intently. In a few minutes he rose and knelt in front of the chair with his head bent; he got up and stood in such a position that it looked as though someone was holding his arm. He then moved as if he was accompanying someone to the end of the hall. In a few minutes they saw him start as if watching something; he seemed to struggle to free his arm and he finally rushed forward and bent over something on the floor, and they saw that he was very much agitated and startled, the tears running down his cheeks. In a few minutes he staggered again to his feet and moved towards his original seat beside them, with his eyes still closed. They shook him, rousing him from his trance and asked him to describe what had happened. He could hardly bear to speak of it at first and exclaimed that it was very hard that he should have to see such a horrible sight when he could do nothing to help. He said that the whole appearance of the hall was altered. He saw a door in a place where no door could be seen; afterwards they tapped the walls and found a door that had been walled up. He said something impelled him to go to that door and open it and wait for someone to enter, when he stood there a monk entered and looking in his face he recognized the monk he had seen in the afternoon - the same piercing eyes - and recognized the resemblance to the portrait of the Cardinal. This monk said to him: I am the Cardinal. I was gathering sufficient etheric matter from you to materialize, to show myself to you this evening. I kept my mouth covered for I could not complete materialization then. And now, my son, sit beside me and have no fear, but watch attentively all that is to happen. I am here to right a wrong and to have justice done. With difficulty I have achieved this purpose. Now kneel and receive my blessing.

The prince was a Greek Catholic and a very devout Catholic, very much attached to his beliefs. After receiving the blessing, he stood up, the Cardinal laying one hand on his arm, and the prince said that he was impressed by the strong will that seemed to reach him from the Cardinal. The Cardinal led him to the end of the room and said: “Now stand still and watch, have no fear.” In a few moments the prince said he saw the form of a woman dressed in white, who was young and had dark hair, pass rapidly through the hall and leave it by the other door, as if afraid of being seen and followed. She was quickly followed by a young man who seemed, the prince said, perhaps twenty years old; he saw him distinctly and could describe his appearance. He was tall, had a very pleasant face and light brown, slightly curly hair which was hanging on his neck. As the young man passed through the hall near the tapestry on one side of the wall, an arm shot out and stabbed him, so that he was suddenly flung forward on his face and his body was nearly doubled by the force of the blow. The prince said that was when he tried to struggle and free himself, to protect this youth. When he reached him and bent over him, he found that he was dead and said that he suffered keenly that moment. After that, all that he knew was that there seemed to one or two misty forms in the hall but he could distinguish nothing more, and the next thing was that he recovered his consciousness, sitting beside us.

Of course my friend felt more than ever anxious to carry out the Cardinal's wish, but as it was impossible they asked him what they could do instead; he said that they must find a priest and cause him to read the burial service and asperge the scene of the murder. They had some difficulty in persuading a priest to do so. I think it was the prince, or it may have been Mr H. who at last persuaded a priest to come and be present at some séance which they held, during which the Cardinal addressed them. The priest summoned up courage at last to ask a question himself and he begged the Cardinal - his superior in the Church - to tell him whether it was really permissible for him to hold this service. I was present at some of those séances and I heard the priest speak at last as if he felt himself in the presence of a Prince of the Church, the Cardinal giving peremptory command to the priest to obey. I saw the little priest join his hands together as they do when speaking to their superiors, saying: Ma signor cardinale devo propria fare questa cosa, m'e permesso di fare cosi? “But my Lord Cardinal, should I really do this thing? Am I permitted to act thus?” the Cardinal simply answered that in the cause of religion and to aid this murderer the service should be held. So one day the priest arrived with his vestments, bringing his holy water and his brush to asperge with, and the service was held; he asperged the room and he asperged every one present, Mrs K., the Prince, Mr H., Mrs C. and myself. It was very impressive. We went back to the other room and four of us sat at the table, the prince, Mr H., and Mrs K. were the other three. We sat at the same little table and it began to move very slowly, and at first hesitatingly and in an odd way it spelled: “I am grateful, thank you” - in Italian of course. Then there was a pause and it began to tilt in the way the Cardinal used to do, always tilting in the sign of the Cross. The Cardinal spelled: “Yes, that unhappy man has been present and he thanks you. You have done what you can and I thank you also.”

With that the story ends. My friend who continued to live in the palace felt a very different atmosphere after that, and the Cardinal did not call upon her to do anything else. Mr H. took notes during the experience which lasted several months. He had been a sceptic and was convinced now.

“It would have been more complete,” remarked the Vagrant, “if they had been allowed to dig for the bones.”



In the Twilight (32)

first published in the Theosophist, Dec, 1929, p345-347

“Our dear Vagrant does not forget us while she is away,” said the Magician, “she sends the following extract from a letter written by a F.T.S., a professor in a college in Bagda?”:

There is a poor Chaldian Christian (Catholic) family here. The father of the family died suddenly leaving several small children and a penniless widow. There was nothing to eat in the house, and they wept and prayed, and went to bed hungry. The mother says she was sure that there was not a single copper in the house. In the morning when she got up, she found a karan (about 4 pence English money) in her pocket. Could she have overlooked that the night before? Well she bought bread and that day passed. Next day there were two karans in her pocket in the morning. The money went on doubling till it came to a megiedi (about a dollar in American money). From that day she found every day a megiedi to meet her expenses. She did not know whence it came. There was of course no possibility of any one putting the money in her pocket. For two years the thing went on. One day she spoke of this to a friend of hers. From that day the money-coming stopped abruptly, and was never repeated again. This woman is now a midwife and one of her sons a clerk in a merchant's firm. This incident occurred about fifteen years ago. It was related to me by the people themselves and I give it as it was told to me.

The Vagrant adds that it may be one of the cases in which the family had a kârmic right to relief, and no physical friend being available, it became necessary to supply what was needed by the direct interposition of a lower Deva, or nature-spirit.

One of the circle gave the following interesting account of a personal experience:

My mother had to undergo a serious operation, but she had a great dislike to take chloroform, so my father interviewed the specialist at the Nursing Home to ask him not to use chloroform as my mother had such a dread of it. He indignantly refused to accede the request, saying that the case must be left in his hands, and that he knew what was best. So my mother resigned herself to take it. The night before the operation i had a dream, in which I saw with perfect clearness the Master KH standing over my mother, who was lying at full length. His hands were held over her, and gave me the impression of sending forth force, and I felt the conviction that no chloroform would be used. Next morning came a telegram, that the operation would take place at midday and that chloroform would be used. I had just time to catch the train (there was one hour's journey by train) and I jumped into it just as it was starting, I met my father in time, and we immediately went to the nursing Home. There we found my mother and waited with her in her room, and she told me that she knew I would come, and that she had seen the Master KH while in a semi-conscious state. During the quarter of an hour's wait my father, my husband, the nurse (who was a member TS), and myself sat in concentration on the Master. My mother sank in a deep sleep, from which she awoke when the doctor fetched her. There was a feeling of perfect calm in the room. Again my husband asked that chloroform should not be used, and the request was again refused, and we saw my mother led out into the operation room. The end of the story came from the nurse. She told that the doctor had the cap in his hand, ready to give it to the nurse to administer the chloroform, when he suddenly stopped as if arrested, put it down and said: “No, without chloroform.” Two dexterous cuts and the operation was over, almost before my mother was aware of it, she felt no pain, and in half an hour she was back in her room.

“An experience I recall just now,” said a member, “was not a dream, but a result, in some way of concentration.”

My father was very ill, and asked that his body might be burned after he died. That was impossible to do because the law of the country forbade it for Europeans. So we could not do as he wished. But after he died we used instead of a Christian prayer a part of the Shrâddha of the Hindûs, for my father was in his thoughts and feelings quite Eastern. I chose some of the household who were a little stronger in concentration than the others; we numbered 7 members of the T.S. We concentrated on the idea that he might be free from his body, as he would have been by burning, and meditated on the mantram, Rgveda X, XIV: 9. After an interval of half an hour we took another mantram and concentrated on it - Rgveda X, XIV: 7. The whole thing was done in the room in which he died. The next day I received a letter from a lady friend who lived in an other town. She wrote me that she knew my father had died that night, she was in thoughts with us all the time. She saw a very strange thing, which she could not understand and asked me the meaning of it. She saw the whole room from floor to ceiling in flames. She asked me: “have you disinfected the room with some liquid that would burn? I think that the flames she saw in the room during her meditation came from our concentration on the mantram of burning. Is that possible?”

“Certainly,” wrote the Vagrant on hearing the above, “your thought would be about flames and the thought forms of flames created by you would be visible to a sensitive.”


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Appendix 1 listing the 36 original and 6 reprints

78 1898 LMarchIn the Twilight (1a) anon
177 1898 LAprilIn the Twilight (2a) anon
274 1898 LMay In the Twilight (3a) anon
364 1898 LJune In the Twilight (4a) anon
78 1909 TAprilIn the Twilight (1) anon
193 1909 TMay In the Twilight (2) anon
359 1909 TJune In the Twilight (3) anon
504 1909 TJuly In the Twilight (4) anon
608 1909 TAug In the Twilight (5) anon
750 1909 TSept In the Twilight (6) anon
121 1909 TOct In the Twilight (7) anon
252 1909 TNov In the Twilight (8) anon
390 1909 TDec In the Twilight (9) anon
517 1910 TJan In the Twilight (10) anon
640 1910 TFeb In the Twilight (11) anon
774 1910 TMarchIn the Twilight (12) anon
930 1910 TAprilIn the Twilight (13) anon
10981910 TMay In the Twilight (14) anon
11851910 TJune In the Twilight (15) anon
13481910 TJuly In the Twilight (16) anon
116 1910 TOct In the Twilight (17) anon
285 1910 TNov In the Twilight (18) anon
709 1911 TJan In the Twilight (19) anon
964 1911 TMarchIn the Twilight (20) anon
290 1911 TMay In the Twilight (21) anon
900 1911 TSept In the Twilight (22) anon
589 1912 TJan In the Twilight (23) anon
747 1912 TFeb In the Twilight (24) anon
120 1912 TAprilIn the Twilight (25) anon
281 1912 TMay In the Twilight (26) anon
926 1912 TSept In the Twilight (27) anon
109 1913 TAprilIn the Twilight (28) anon
277 1913 TMay In the Twilight (29) anon
77 1929 TOct In the Twilight (30) anon
207 1929 TNov In the Twilight (31) anon
345 1929 TDec In the Twilight (32) anon
249 1934 TJune In the Twilight (I) (rprnt) anon (April 1909)
391 1934 TJuly In the Twilight (II, III, IV) (rprnt) Annie Besant (Lutr 1898)
395 1934 TJuly In the Twilight (V) (rprnt) anon (Oct 1909)
386 1935 TJan In the Twilight (V) (rprnt) Annie Besant (p1098 May 1910)
388 1935 TJan In the Twilight (VI) (rprnt) Annie Besant (p749 Feb 1912)

Characters in the twilight

Appendix 2 listing 39 pseudonyms

? LondonIndia
Abbé 4a
Archivarius 1a 2a 3a 4a 13
Aurora 17
Austra 23
Banker 22
Brâhmana 16
Chitra 3 4 6 10
Countess 5 8 22
Demeter 17
Doctor 1a 2a 3a 4a 7 25
Doctor's daughter 6
Enquirer 1 2
Epistemologist 1 7 12
Fakir 6 11 12
Fiddler (female) 1 2 3 4 11 12
Gurudâsa 18
Inspector 6 20
Ithuriel 12 15
Lawyer 1 2
Magian 1 2 3 11 12 14 20 21 24 26
Maiden Aunt 4a
Maratha 2
Marchesa 1a 2a 3a 4a
Model of Reticence 11
Painter 1 3 7
Pandit 1a
Platonist 7
Prince 5 7 11
GRSMScholar (#1) 1a 2a 3a 4a
Scholar (#2) 1 2 4 5 6 8 11 16
Serena 16
CWL Shepherd 1a 2a 3a 4a 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 24 26 28 29
Superintendant 3 18 20
Tahsildar 8 18
AB Vagrant 1a 2a 3a 4a 1 2 4 6 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Vestal 25
Wanderer 20
CyrilYoungest 1a 2a 3a 4a
Youth 1 2 5 9 11


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