The following notes have been collected partly
from an old work by a French missionary who lived in China for
over forty years; some from a very curious unpublished
work by an American gentleman who has kindly lent the writer his
notes; some from information given by the Abbé Huc
to the Chevalier Des Mousseaux and the Marquis De Mirville for
these the last two gentlemen are responsible. Most of our
facts, however, come from a Chinese gentleman residing
for some years in Europe.
Man, according to the Chinaman, is composed of four
root-substances and three acquired "semblances."
This is the magical and universal occult tradition, dating
from an antiquity which has its origin in the night of time.
A Latin poet shows the same source of information in his country,
when declaring that:
Bis duo sunt hominis: manes, caro, spiritus, umbra:
Quatuor ista loca bis duo suscipiunt.
Terra tegit carnem, tumulum circumvolat umbra,
Orcus habet manes, spiritus astra petit.
The phantom known and described in the Celestial Empire is quite
orthodox according to occult teachings, though there exist
several theories in China upon it.
The human soul, says the chief (temple) teaching,
helps man to become a rational and intelligent creature,
but it is neither simple (homogeneous) nor spiritual; it
is a compound of all that is subtle in matter. This "soul"
is divided by its nature and actions into two principal parts:
the LING and the HOUEN.
The ling is the better adapted of the two for spiritual
and intellectual operations, and has an "upper" ling or soul over it which is divine. Moreover,
out of the union of the lower ling and houen isformed, during man's life, a third and mixed
being, fit for both intellectual and physical processes,
for good and evil, while the houen is absolutely
bad. Thus we have four principles in these two "substances,"
which correspond, as is evident, to our Buddhi,
the divine "upper" ling; to Manas,
the lower ling, whose twin, the houen, stands for Kama-rupa the body of passion, desire and
evil; and then we have in the "mixed being" the
outcome or progeny of both ling and houen the "Mayavi,"
the astral body.
Then comes the definition of the third root-substance.
This is attached to the body only during life, the body
being the fourth substance, pure matter; and after
the death of the latter, separating itself from the corpse but
not before its complete dissolution it vanishes in thin air like
a shadow with the last particle of the substance that generated
it. This is of course Prâna, the life-principle
or vital form. Now, when man dies, the following
takes place: the "upper" ling ascends
heavenward into Nirvâna, the paradise of Amitâbha,
or any other region of bliss that agrees with the respective sect
of each Chinaman carried off by the Spirit of the Dragon of
Wisdom (the seventh principle); the body and its principle vanish gradually and are annihilated; remain
the ling-houen and the "mixed being."
If the man was good, the "mixed being" disappears also after a time; if he was bad and was entirely under
the sway of houen, the absolutely evil principle,
then the latter transforms his "mixed being" into koueïs which
answers to the Catholic idea of a damned soul1 and,
imparting to it a terrible vitality and power, the koueïs becomes the alter ego and the executioner of houen in all his wicked deeds. The houen and koueïs unite into one shadowy but strong entity, and may,
by separating at will, and acting in two different places
at a time, do terrible mischief.
The koueïs is an anima damnata according to
the good missionaries, who thus make of the milliards of
deceased "unbaptized" Chinamen an army of devils,
who, considering they are of a material substance,
ought by this time to occupy the space between our earth and the
moon and feel themselves as much at ease as closely packed-up
herrings in a tin-box. "The koueïs, being naturally wicked," says the Memoire, "do all the evil they can. They hold the middle
between man and the brute and participate of the faculties of
both. They have all the vices of man and every dangerous
instinct of the animal. Sentenced to ascend no higher than
our atmosphere, they congregate around the tombs and in
the vicinity of mines, swamps, sinks and slaughter-houses,
everywhere wherein rottenness and decay are found. The
emanations of the latter are their favourite food, and
it is with the help of those elements and atoms, and of
the vapours from corpses, that they form for themselves visible and fantastic bodies to deceive and frighten men
with. . . . These miserable spirits with deceptive bodies
seek incessantly the means for preventing men from getting salvation" (read, being baptized), ". .
. and of forcing them to become damned as they themselves
are" (p. 222, Memoires concernant l'histoire,
les sciences, les arts, les murs, etc.,
des Chinois, par les Missionaires de Pekin, 1791).2
This is how our old friend, the Abbé Huc,
the Lazarist, unfrocked for showing the origin of certain
Roman Catholic rites in Tibet and China, describes the houen. "What is the houen is a
question to which it is difficult to give a clear answer. .
. . It is, if you so like it, something vague,
something between a spirit, a genii, and vitality" (see Huc's Voyage à la Chine, vol. II, p. 394). He seems
to regard the houen as the future operator in the business
of resurrection, which it will effect by attracting to
itself the atomic substance of the body, which will be
thus re-formed on the day of resurrection. This answers
well enough the Christian idea of one body and merely one personality
to be resurrected. But if the houen has to unite
on that day the atoms of all the bodies the Monad had passed through
and inhabited, then even that "very cunning creature"
might find itself not quite equal to the occasion. However,
as while the ling is plunged in felicity,
its ex-houen is left behind to wander and suffer,
it is evident that the houen and the "elementary"
are identical. As it is also undeniable that had disembodied
man the faculty of being at one and the same time in Devachan
and in Kama-loka, whence he might come to us, and
put in an occasional appearance in a séance-room or elsewhere then
man as just shown by the ling or houen would be
possessed of the double faculty of experiencing a simultaneous
and distinct feeling of two contraries bliss and torture. The ancients understood so well the absurdity of this theory,
knowing that no absolute bliss could have place wherein there
was the smallest alloy of misery, that while supposing the higher Ego of Homer to be in Elysium, they showed
the Homer weeping by the Acherusia as no better than the simulacrum of the poet, his empty and deceptive image, or what we call the "shell of the false personality."3
There is but one real Ego in each man and it must necessarily
be either in one place or in another, in bliss or in grief.4
The houen, to return to it, is said to be
the terror of men; in China, "that horrid spectre"
troubles the living, penetrates into houses and
closed objects, and takes possession of people,
as "spirits" are shown to do in Europe and America the houens of children being of still greater malice than the houens of adults. This belief is so strong in China
that when they want to get rid of a child they carry it far away
from home, hoping thereby to puzzle the houen and
make him lose his way home.
As the houen is the fluidic or gaseous likeness
of its defunct body, in judicial medicine experts use this
likeness in cases of suspected murders to get at the truth.
The formulæ used to evoke the houen of a person dying
under suspicious circumstances are officially accepted and these
means are resorted to very often, according to Huc,
who told Des Mousseaux (see Les Mediateurs de la Magie, p. 310) that the instructing magistrate after having
recited the evocation over the corpse, used vinegar mixed
with some mysterious ingredients, as might any other necromancer.
When the houen has appeared, it is always in the
likeness of the victim as it was at the moment of its death.
If the body has been burned before judicial enquiry,
the houen reproduces on its body the wounds or lesions
received by the murdered man the crime is proven and justice
takes note of it. The sacred books of the temples contain
the complete formulas of such evocations, and even the
name of the murderer may be forced from the complacent houen. In this the Chinamen were followed by Christian nations however.
During the Middle Ages the suspected murderer was placed by the
judges before the victim, and if at that moment blood began
to flow from the open wounds, it was held as a sign that
the accused was the criminal. This belief survives to this
day in France, Germany, Russia, and all the
Slavonian countries. "The wounds of a murdered man
will re-open at the approach of his murderer" says a jurisprudential
work (Binsfeld, De Conf. Malef., p. 136).
"The houen can neither be buried underground nor drowned;
he travels above the ground and prefers keeping at home."
In the province of Ho-nan the teaching varies. Delaplace,
a bishop in China5, tells of the "heathen
Chinee" most extraordinary stories with regard to this subject.
"Every man, they say, has three houens in
him. At death one of the houens incarnates in a
body he selects for himself; the other remains in,
and with, the family, and becomes the lar; and the third watches the tomb of its corpse. Papers
and incense are burnt in honour of the latter, as a sacrifice
to the manes; the domestic houen takes his
abode in the family record-tablets amidst engraved characters,
and sacrifice is also offered to him, hiangs (sticks
made of incense) are burnt in his honour, and funeral repasts
are prepared for him; in which case the two houens will
keep quiet" if they are those of adults, nota
Then follows a series of ghastly stories. If we read the
whole literature of magic from Homer down to Dupotet we shall
find everywhere the same assertion: Man is a triple, and esoterically a septenary, compound of mind,
of reason, and of an eidolon, and these three are
(during life) one. "I call the soul's idol that
power which vivifies and governs the body, whence are derived
the senses, and through which the soul displays the strength
of the senses and FEEDS A BODY WITHIN ANOTHER
BODY"(Magie Dévoilée, Dupotet, p. 250).
"Triplex unicuique homini dæmon, bonus est proprius
custos," said Cornelius Agrippa, from whom
Dupotet had the idea about the "soul's idol." For Cornelius says: "Anima humana constat mente,
ratione et idolo. Mens illuminat rationem;
ratio fluit in idolum; idolum autem animæ est supra
naturam quæ corporis et animæ quodam modo nodus
est. Dico autem animæ idolum, potentiam illam VIVICATIVAMet rectricem corporis sensuum originem, per quam . . .
alit in corpore corpus" (De Occulta Philos., pp.
This is the houen of China, once we divest him of
the excrescence of popular superstition and fancy. Nevertheless
the remark of a Brahman made in the review of "A Fallen Idol" (Theosophist, Sept., 1886, p.
793) whether meant seriously or otherwise by the writer that
"if the rules [or mathematical proportions and measurements
are not accurately followed in every detail, an idol is liable to be taken possession of by some powerful evil
spirit" is quite true. And as a moral law of nature a
counterpart to the mathematical if the rules of harmony in the
world of causes and effects are not observed during life,
then our inner idol is as liable to turn out a maleficent
demon (a bhoot) and to be taken possession of by other
"evil" spirits, which are called by us "Elementaries"
though treated almost as gods by sentimental ignoramuses.
Between these and those who, like Des Mousseaux and De
Mirville, write volumes a whole library! to prove that
with the exception of a few Biblical apparitions and those that
have favoured Christian saints and good Catholics, there
never was a phantom, ghost, spirit, or "god,"
that had appeared that was not a ferouer, an impostor, a usurpator Satan, in short, in one
of his masquerades there is a long way and a wide margin for
him who would study Occult laws and Esoteric philosophy.
"A god who eats and drinks and receives sacrifice
and honour can be but an evil spirit" argues De Mirville.
"The bodies of the evil spirits who were angels have deteriorated
by their fall and partake of the qualities of a more condensed
air" [ether?, teaches Des Mousseaux (Le Monde
magique, p. 287). "And this
is the reason of their appetite when they devour the funeral repasts
the Chinese serve before them to propitiate them; they
Well, if we go back to the supposed origin of Judaism and
the Israelite nation, we find angels of light doing
just the same if "good appetite" be a sign of Satanic
nature. And it is the same Des Mousseaux who, unconsciously,
lays, for himself and his religion, a trap.
"See," he exclaims, "the angels of
God descend under the green trees near Abraham's tent.
They eat with appetite the bread and meat, the butter
and the milk prepared for them by the patriarch" (Gen. xviii, 2, et seq). Abraham dressed
a whole "calf tender and good" and "they did eat"
(v. 7 and 8); and baked cakes and milk and butter
besides. Was their "appetite" any more divine than that of a "John King" drinking tea with rum
and eating toast in the room of an English medium, or than
the appetite of a Chinese houen?
The Church has the power of discernment, we are assured;
she knows the difference between the three, and judges
by their bodies. Let us see. "These [the Biblical
are real, genuine spirits"! Angels, beyond
any doubt (certes), argues Des Mousseaux.
"Theirs are bodies which, no doubt, in dilating
could, in virtue of the extreme tenuity of the substance,
become transparent, then melt away, dissolve,
lose their colour, become less and less visible,
and finally disappear from our sight" (p. 388).
So can a "John King" we are assured, and a Pekin houen no doubt. Who or what then can teach us the
difference if we fail to study the uninterrupted evidence of the
classics and the Theurgists, and neglect the Occult sciences?
Lucifer, November, 1891
H. P. Blavatsky
1 The spiritual portion of the ling becomes
chen (divine and saintly), after death, to
become hien an absolute saint (a Nirvanee when joined
entirely with the Dragon of Wisdom ). back to text
2 According to the most ancient doctrines of
magic, violent deaths and leaving the body exposed,
instead of burning or burying it led to the discomfort and pain
of its astral (Linga Sarira), which died out only
at the dissolution of the last particle of the matter that had
composed the body. Sorcery or black magic, it is
said, had always availed itself of this knowledge for necromantic
and sinful purposes, "Sorcerers offer to unrestful
souls decayed remnants of animals to force them to appear"
(see Porphyry, Sacrifice). St. Athanasius
was accused of the black art, for having preserved the
hand of Bishop Arsenius for magical operations. "Patet
quod animæ illæ quæ, post mortem,
adhuc, relicta corpora diligunt, quemadmodum animæ
sepultura carentiumt et adhuc in turbido illo humidoque spiritu
[the spiritual or fluidic body, the houen circa
cadavera sua oberrant, tanquam circa cognatum aliquod
eos alliciens," etc See Cornelius Agrippa De Occulta
Philosophia, pp. 354-5; Le Fantóme
Humain by Des Mousseaux. Homer and Horace have described
many a time such evocations. In India it is practised to
this day by some Tântrikas. Thus modern sorcery,
as well as white magic, occultism and spiritualism,
with their branches of mesmerism, hypnotism, etc.,
show their doctrines and methods linked to those of the highest
antiquity, since the same ideas, beliefs and practices
are found now as in old Aryavarta, Egypt and China,
Greece and Rome. Read the treatise, careful and
truthful as to facts, however erroneous as to the author's
conclusions, by P. Thyrée, Loca
Infesta, and you will find that the localities most
favourable for the evocations of spirits are those where a murder
has been committed, a burying ground, deserted places,
etc. back to text
3 See Lucretius De Nat. Rerum I, I, who calls it a simulacrum. back to text
4 Though antiquity (like esoteric philosophy) seems
to divide soul into the divine and the animal, anima
divina and anima bruta, the former being called nous and phren, yet the two were but the
double aspect of a unity. Diogenes Laërtius (De
Vit. Clar. Virc.I., 8, 30) gives the common belief that the animal soul, phren ND0<, generally the diaphragm resided in the stomach, Diogenes
calling the anima bruta hL:@H. Pythagoras and Plato also make the same division, calling
the divine or rational soul 8@(@< and the irrational "8@(@<.
Empedocles gives to men and animals a dual soul, not two
souls as is believed. The Theosophists and Occultists divide
man into seven principles and speak of a divine and animal soul:
but they add that Spirit being one and indivisible, all
these "souls" and principles are only its aspects.
Spirit alone is immortal, infinite, and the one
reality the rest is all evanescent and temporary, illusion
and delusion. Des Mousseaux is very wroth with the late
Baron Dupotet, who places an intelligent "spirit"
in each of our organs, simply because he is unable to grasp
the Baron's idea. back to text
5 Annales de la propagation de la foi. No.143; July,
1852. back to text