Let the great world spin for ever down the
ringing grooves of change.
The goal of yesterday will be the starting-
point of to-morrow.
The great mystic of the eighteenth century,
the ardent disciple of Jacob Boehme Louis Claude de Saint Martin used
to say in the last years of his life: "I would have loved
to meet more with those who guess at truths, for such alone are
This remark implies that, outside the limited circle of mystics
which has existed in every age, people endowed with correct psychic
intuition were still fewer at the end of the last century than
they are now. These were, indeed, years of complete soul-blindness
and spiritual drought. It is during that century that the chaotic
darkness and Babylonish confusion with regard to spiritual things,
which have ever reigned in brains too crammed with mere scientific
learning, had fully asserted their sway over the masses. The lack
of soul perception was not confined to the "Forty Immortals"
of the French Academy, nor to their less pretentious colleagues
of Europe in general, but had infected almost all the classes
of Society, settling down as a chronic disease called Scepticism
and the denial of all but matter.
The messengers sent out periodically in the last quarter of every
century westward ever since the mysteries which alone had the
key to the secrets of nature had been crushed out of existence
in Europe by heathen and Christian conquerors had appeared that
time in vain. St. Germain and Cagliostro are credited with real
phenomenal powers only in fashionable novels, to remain inscribed
in encyclopedias to purblind the better, we suppose, the minds
of forthcoming generations as merely clever charlatans. The only
man whose powers and knowledge could have been easily tested by
exact science, thus forming a firm link between physics and metaphysics Friedrich
Anton Mesmer had been hooted from the scientific arena by the
greatest "scholar-ignoramuses" in things spiritual,
of Europe. For almost a century, namely from 1770 down to 1870,
a heavy spiritual darkness descending on the Western hemisphere,
settled, as if it meant to stay, among cultured societies.
But an under-current appeared about the middle of our century
in America, crossing the Atlantic between 1850 and 1860. Then
came in its trail the marvelous medium for physical manifestations,
D. D. Home. After he had taken by storm the Tuileries and the
Winter Palace, light was no longer allowed to shine under a bushel.
Already, some years before his advent, "a change" had
come "o'er the spirit of the dream" of almost every
civilized community in the two worlds, and a great reactive force
was now at work.
What was it? Simply this. Amidst the greatest glow of the self-sufficiency
of exact science, and the reckless triumphant crowing of victory
over the ruins of the very foundations as some Darwinists had
fondly hoped of old superstitions and creeds; in the midst of
the deadliest calm of wholesale negations, there arose a breeze
from a wholly unexpected quarter. At first the significant afflatus
was like a hardly perceptible stir, puffs of wind in the rigging
of a proud vessel the ship called "Materialism," whose
crew was merrily leading its passengers toward the Maelstrom of
annihilation. But very soon the breeze freshened and finally blew
a gale. It fell with every hour more ominously on the ears of
the iconoclasts, and ended by raging loud enough to be heard by
everyone who had ears to hear, eyes to see, and an intellect to
discern. It was the inner voice of the masses, their spiritual
intuition that traditional enemy of cold intellectual reasoning,
the legitimate progenitor of Materialism that had awakened from
its long cataleptic sleep. And, as a result, all those ideals
of the human soul which had been so long trampled under the feet
of the would-be conquerors of the world-superstitions, the self-constituted
guides of a new humanity appeared suddenly in the midst of all
these raging elements of human thought, and, like Lazarus rising
out of his tomb, lifted their voice and loudly demanded recognition.
This was brought on by the invasion of "Spirit" manifestations,
when mediumistic phenomena had broken out like an influenza all
over Europe. However unsatisfactory their philosophical interpretation,
these phenomena being genuine and true as truth itself in their
being and their reality, they were undeniable; and being in their
very nature beyond denial, they came to be regarded as evident
proofs of a life beyond opening, moreover, a wide range for the
admission of every metaphysical possibility. This once the efforts
of materialistic science to disprove them availed it nothing.
Beliefs such as man's survival after death, and the immortality
of Spirit, were no longer pooh-poohed as figments of imagination;
for, prove once the genuineness of such transcendental phenomena
to be beyond the realm of matter, and beyond investigation by
means of physical science, and whether these phenomena
contain per se or not the proof of immortality, demonstrating
as they do the existence of invisible and spiritual regions where
other forces than those known to exact science are at work they
are shown to lie beyond the realm of materialism. Cross, by one
step only, the line of matter and the area of Spirit becomes infinite.
Therefore, believers in them were no longer to be brow-beaten
by threats of social contumacy and ostracism; this, also, for
the simple reason that in the beginning of these manifestations
almost the whole of the European higher classes became ardent
"Spiritualists." To oppose the strong tidal wave of
the cycle there remained at one time but a handful, in comparison
with the number of believers, of grumbling and all-denying fogeys.
Thus was once more demonstrated that human life, devoid of all
its world-ideals and beliefs in which the whole of philosophical
and cultured antiquity, headed in historical times by Socrates
and Plato, by Pythagoras and the Alexandrian Neo-Platonists, believed becomes
deprived of its higher sense and meaning. The world-ideals can
never completely die out. Exiled by the fathers, they will be
received with opened arms by the children.
Let us recall to mind how all this came to pass.
It was, as said, between the third and fourth quarters of the
present century that reaction set in in Europe as still earlier
in the United States. The days of a determined psychic rebellion
against the cold dogmatism of science and the still more chilling
teachings of the schools of Büchner and Darwin, had come
in their pre-ordained and pre-appointed time of cyclic law. Our
older readers may easily recollect the suggestive march of events.
Let them remember how the wave of mysticism, arrested in its free
course during its first twelve or fifteen years in America by
public, and especially by religious, prejudices, finally broke
through every artificial dam and over-flooded Europe, beginning
with France and Russia and ending with England the slowest of
all countries to accept new ideas, though these may bring us truths
as old as the world.
Nevertheless, and notwithstanding every opposition, "Spiritualism,"
as it was soon called, got its rights of citizenship in Great
Britain. For several years it reigned undivided. Yet in truth,
its phenomena, its psychic and mesmeric manifestations, were but
the cyclic pioneers of the revival of prehistoric Theosophy, and
the occult Gnosticism of the antediluvian mysteries. These are
facts which no intelligent Spiritualist will deny; as, in truth,
modern Spiritualism is but an earlier revival of crude Theosophy,
and modern Theosophy a renaissance of ancient Spiritualism.
Thus, the waters of the great "Spiritual" flood were
neither primordial nor pure. When, owing to cyclic law, they had
first appeared, manifesting at Rochester, they were left to the
mercies and mischievous devices of two little girls to give them
a name and an interpretation. Therefore when, breaking the dam,
these waters penetrated into Europe, they bore with them scum
and dross, flotsam and jetsam, from the old wrecks of hypotheses
and hazily outlined aspirations, based upon the dicta of the said
little girls. Yet the eagerness with which "Spiritualism"
and its twin-sister Spiritism were received, all their inanities
notwithstanding, by almost all the cultured people of Europe,
contains a splendid lesson.
In this passionate aspiration of the human Soul this irrepressible
flight of the higher elements in man toward their forgotten Gods
and the God within him one heard the voice of the public conscience.
It was an undeniable and not to be misunderstood answer of the
inner nature of man to the then revelling, gloating Materialism
of the age, as an escape from which there was but another form
of evil adherence to the dogmatic, ecclesiastical conventionalism
of State religions. It was a loud, passionate protest against
both, a drifting towards a middle way between the two extremes namely,
between the enforcement for long centuries of a personal God
of infinite love and mercy by the diabolical means of sword, fire,
and inquisitional tortures; and, on the other hand, the reign,
as a natural reaction, of complete denial of such a God, and along
with him of an infinite Spirit, a Universal Principle manifesting
as immutable LAW.
True science had wisely endeavored to make away, along with the
mental slavery of mankind, with its orthodox, paradoxical God; pseudo-science had devised by means of sophistry to do
away with every belief save in matter. The haters of the Spirit
of the world, denying God in Nature as much as an extra-cosmic
Deity, had been preparing for long years to create an artificial,
soulless humanity; and it was only just that their Karma should
send a host of pseudo-"Spirits" or Souls
to thwart their efforts. Shall anyone deny that the highest and the best among the representatives of Materialistic science have
succumbed to the fascination of the will-o'-the-wisps which looked at first sight as the most palpable proof of an immortal Soul in man1 i.e., the alleged communion
between the dead and the living?2 Yet,
as they were, these abnormal manifestations, being in their bulk
genuine and spontaneous, carried away and won all those who had
in their souls the sacred spark of intuition. Some clung to them
because, owing to the death of ideals, of the crumbling of the
Gods and faith in every civilized centre, they were dying themselves
of spiritual starvation; others because, living amidst sophistical
perversion of every noble truth, they preferred even a feeble
approximation to truth to no truth whatever.
But, whether they placed belief in and followed "Spiritualism"
or not, many were those on whom the spiritual and psychic evolution
of the cycle wrought an indelible impression; and such ex-materialists
could never return again to their iconoclastic ideas. The enormous
and ever-growing numbers of mystics at the present time show better
than anything else the undeniably occult working of the cycle.
Thousands of men and women who belong to no church, sect, or society,
who are neither Theosophists nor Spiritualists, are yet virtually
members of that Silent Brotherhood the units of which often do
not know each other, belonging as they do to nations far and wide
apart, yet each of whom carries on his brow the mark of the mysterious
Karmic seal the seal that makes of him or her a member of the
Brotherhood of the Elect of Thought. Having failed to satisfy
their aspirations in their respective orthodox faiths,
they have severed themselves from their Churches in soul when
not in body, and are devoting the rest of their lives to the worship
of loftier and purer ideals than any intellectual speculation
can give them. How few, in comparison to their numbers, and how
rarely one meets with such, and yet their name is legion, if they
only chose to reveal themselves.
Under the influence of that same passionate search of "life
in spirit" and "life in truth," which compels every
earnest Theosophist onward through years of moral obloquy and
public ostracism; moved by the same dissatisfaction with the principles
of pure conventionality of modern society, and scorn for the still
triumphant, fashionable thought, which, appropriating to itself
unblushingly the honoured epithets of "scientific" and
"foremost," of "pioneer" and "liberal,"
uses these prerogatives but to domineer over the fainthearted
and selfish these earnest men and women prefer to tread alone
and unaided the narrow and thorny path that lies before him who
will neither recognize authorities nor bow before cant. They may
leave "Sir Oracles" of modern thought, as well as the
Peck-sniffs of time-dishonoured and dogma-soiled lay-figures of
Church-conventionality, without protest; yet, carrying in the
silent shrine of their soul the same grand ideals as all mystics
do, they are in truth Theosophists de facto if not de
jure. We meet such in every circle of society, in every class
of life. They are found among artists and novelists, in the aristocracy
and commerce, among the highest and the richest, as among the
lowest and the poorest. Among the most prominent in this century
is Count L. Tolstoi, a living example, and one of the signs of
the times in this period, of the occult working of the ever moving
cycle. Listen to a few lines of the history of the psycho-spiritual
evolution of this aristocrat, the greatest writer of modern Russia,
by one of the best feuilletonistes in St. Petersburg.
. . . The most famous of our Russian authors, the "word-painter,"
a writer of Shakespearean realism, a heathen poet, one who in
a certain sense worshipped in his literary productions life for
the sake of life, an sich und fur sich as the Hegelians
used to say collapses suddenly over his fairy palette, lost in
tormenting thought; and forthwith he commences to offer to himself
and the world the most abstruse and insoluble problems. . . . The author of the 'Cossacks' and 'Family Happiness,' clad in peasant's garb and bast shoes, starts as a pilgrim on foot in search of
divine truth. He goes to the solitary forest skits3of the Raskolnikyi,4 visits the monks of
the Desert of Optino, passes his time in fasting and prayer. For
his belles lettres and philosophy he substitutes the Bible
and the writings of the Church Fathers; and, as a sequel to 'Anna
Karenina' he creates his 'Confessions' and 'Explanations of the
The fact that Count Tolstoi, all his passionate earnestness notwithstanding,
did not become an orthodox Christian, nor has succumbed to the
wiles of Spiritualism (as his latest satire on mediums and "spirits"
proves), prevents him in no way from being a full-fledged mystic.
What is the mysterious influence which has suddenly forced him
into that weird current almost without any transition period?
What unexpected idea or vision led him into that new groove of
thought? Who knoweth save himself, or those real "Spirits,"
who are not likely to gossip it out in a modern seance-room?
And yet Count Tolstoi is by no means a solitary example of the
work of that mysterious cycle of psychic and spiritual evolution
now in its full activity a work which, silently and unperceived,
will grind to dust the most grand and magnificent structures of
materialistic speculations, and reduce to nought in a few days
the intellectual work of years. What is that moral and invisible
Force? Eastern philosophy alone can explain.
In 1875 the Theosophical Society came into existence. It was ushered
into the world with the distinct intention of becoming an ally
to, a supplement and a helper of, the Spiritualistic movement
of course, in its higher and more philosophical aspect. It succeeded,
however, only in making of the Spiritualists its bitterest enemies,
its most untiring persecutors and denunciators. Perchance the
chief reason for it may be found in the fact that many of the
best and most intellectual of their representatives passed body
and soul into the Theosophical Society. Theosophy was, indeed,
the only system that gave a philosophical rationale of
mediumistic phenomena, a logical raison d'etre for them.
Incomplete and unsatisfactory some of its teachings certainly
are, which is only owing to the imperfections of the human nature of its exponents, not to
any fault in the system itself or its teachings. Based as these
are upon philosophies hoary with age, the experience of men and
races nearer than we are to the source of things, and the records
of sages who have questioned successively and for numberless generations
the Sphinx of Nature, who now holds her lips sealed as to the
secrets of life and death these teachings have to be held certainly
as a little more reliable than the dicta of certain "intelligences."
Whether the intellect and consciousness of the latter be induced and artificial as we hold or emanate from a personal source
and entity, it matters not. Even the exoteric philosophies
of the Eastern sages systems of thought whose grandeur and logic
few will deny agree in every fundamental doctrine with our Theosophical
teachings. As to those creatures which are called and accepted
as "Spirits of the Dead" because, forsooth, they themselves
say so their true nature is as unknown to the Spiritualists as
to their mediums. With the most intellectual of the former the
question remains to this day sub judice. Nor is it the
Theosophists who would differ from them in their higher view of
As it is not the object of this article, however, to contrast
the two most significant movements of our century, nor to discuss
their relative merits or superiority, we say at once that our
only aim in bringing them forward is to draw attention to the
wonderful progress of late of this occult cycle. While the enormous
numbers of adherents to both Theosophy and Spiritualism, within
or outside of our respective societies, show that both movements
were but the necessary and, so to say, Karmically pre-ordained
work of the age, and that each of them was born at its proper
hour and fulfilled its proper mission at the right time, there
are other and still more significant signs of the times.
A few years ago we predicted in print that after a short cycle
of abuse and persecution, many of our enemies would come round,
while others would, en désespoir de cause follow
our example and found mystic Societies. As Egypt in the prophecy
of Hermes, Theosophy was accused by "impious foreigners"
(in our case, those outside its fold) of adoring monsters and
chimaeras, and teaching "enigmas incredible to posterity."
If our "sacred scribes and hierophants" are not wanderers
upon the face of the earth, it was through no fault of good Christian
priests and clergymen; and no less than the Egyptians in the early
centuries of the new faith and era, had we, from fear of a still
worse profanation of sacred things and names, to bury deeper than
ever the little of the esoteric knowledge that had been permitted
to be given out to the world.
But, during the last three years all this has rapidly changed,
and the demand for mystic information became so great, that the
Theosophical Publishing Society could not find workers enough
to supply the demand. Even the "Secret Doctrine," the
most abstruse of our publications notwithstanding its forbidding
price, the conspiracy of silence, and the nasty, contemptuous
flings at it by some daily papers has proved financially a success.
See the change. That which Theosophists hardly dared speak about
with bated breath for fear of being called lunatics but a few
years ago, is now being given out by lecturers, publicly advocated
by mystical clergymen. While the orthodox hasten to make away
with the old hell and sapphire-paved New Jerusalem, the more liberal
accept now under Christian veils and biblical nomenclature our
Doctrine of Karma, Reincarnation, and God as an abstract Principle.
Thus the Church is slowly drifting into philosophy and pantheism.
Daily, we recognize some of our teachings creeping out as speculations religious,
poetical and even scientific: and these noticed with respect by
the same papers which will neither admit their theosophical origin
nor abstain from vilipending the very granary of such mystic ideas the
Theosophical Society. About a year ago a wise criticaster exclaimed
in a paper we need not advertise:
To show the utterly unscientific ideas with which the work
(the Secret Doctrine ) is crammed, it may be sufficient
to point out that its author refuses belief in the existence of inorganic matter and endows atoms with intelligence.
And to-day we find Edison's conception of matter quoted with approval
and sympathy by London magazines from Harper's, in which
I do not believe that matter is inert, acted upon by an outside
force. To me it seems that every atom is possessed by a certain
amount of primitive intelligence: look at the thousand ways in
which atoms of hydrogen combine with those of other elements.
. . . Do you mean to say they do this without intelligence? . . .
Mr. Edison is a Theosophist, though not a very active one. Still
the very fact of his holding a diploma seems to inspire him with
"Theosophists believe in reincarnation!" say contemptuously
our Christian enemies. "We do not find one word ever said
by our Saviour that could be interpreted against the modern
belief in reincarnation. . . ." preaches the Rev. Mr.
Bullard, thus half opening, and very wisely too, a back door for
the day when this Buddhistical and Brahminical "inane belief"
will have become general.
Theosophists believe that the earliest races of men were as ethereal
as are now their astral doubles, and call them chhayas (shadows).
And now hear the English poet-laureate singing in his last book,
"Demeter, and other Poems"
The ghost in man, the ghost that once was man,
But cannot wholly free itself from men,
Are calling to each other through a Dawn,
Stronger than earth has ever seen; the veil
Is rending, and the voices of the day
Are heard across the voices of the Dark. No sudden heaven, nor sudden hell for man,
. . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . Æonian evolution, swift or slow,
Through all the spheres an ever opening height,
An ever lessening earth. . . .5
This looks as if Lord Tennyson had read Theosophical books, or
is inspired by the same grand truths as we are.
"Oh!" we hear some sceptics exclaiming, "but there
are poetical licenses. The writer does not believe a word of it."
How do you know this? But even if it were so, here is one more
proof of the cyclic evolution of our Theosophical ideas, which,
I hope, will not be dubbed, to match, as "clerical licenses."
One of the most esteemed and sympathetic of London clergymen,
the Rev. G. W. Allen, has just stepped into our Theosophical shoes
and followed our good example by founding a "Christo-Theosophical
Society." As its double title shows, its platform and programme
have to be necessarily more restricted and limited than our own,
for in the words of its circular "it is (only) intended to
cover ground which that (the original or 'Parent') Society at
present does not cover." However much our esteemed friend
and co-worker in Theosophy may be mistaken in believing that the
teachings of the Theosophical Society do not cover esoteric Christianity as they do the esoteric aspect of all other world-religions,
yet his new Society is sure to do good work. For, if the name
chosen means anything at all, it means that the work and study
of the members must of necessity be Theosophical. The above is
again proven by what the circular of the "Christo-Theosophical
Society" states in the following words:
"It is believed that at the present day there are many persons
who are dissatisfied with the crude and unphilosophic enunciation
of Christianity put forward so often in sermons and theological
writings Some of these persons are impelled to give up all faith
in Christianity, but many of them do this reluctantly, and would
gladly welcome a presentation of the old truths which should show
them to be in harmony with the conclusions of reason and the testimony
of undeniable intuition. There are many others, also, whose only
feeling is that the truths of their religion mean so very little
to them practically, and have such very little power to influence
and ennoble their daily life and character. To such persons the
Christo-Theosophical Society makes its appeal, inviting them to
join together in a common effort to discover that apprehension
of Christian Truth, and to attain that Power, which must be able
to satisfy the deep yearnings of the human heart, and give strength
for self-mastery and a life lived for others.
This is admirable, and shows plainly its purpose of countering
the very pernicious influences of exoteric and dogmatic theology,
and it is just what we have been trying to do all along. All simililarity,
however, stops here, as it has nothing to do, as it appears, with universal but only sectarian Theosophy. We fear greatly
that the "C.T.S." by inviting
to its membership those persons who, while desirous of apprehending
ever more and more clearly the mysteries of Divine Truth, yet
wish to retain as the foundation of their philosophy the Christian
doctrines of God as the Father of all men, and Christ as His revelation
of Himself to mankind
limits thereby "the Mysteries of the Divine Truth"
to one single and the youngest of all religions, and avatars to but one man. We hope sincerely that the members of the
Christo-Theosophical Society may be able to avoid this Charybdis
without falling into Scylla.
There is one more difficulty in our way, and we would humbly ask
to have it explained to us. "The Society", states the
circular, is not made up of Teachers and Learners. We are all learners.
This, with the hope distinctly expressed a few lines higher, that
the members will gladly welcome a presentation of the old
truths . . . in harmony with the conclusions of reason
etc., leads to a natural query: Which of the "learners"
is to present the said truths to the other learners? Then comes
the unavoidable reasoning that whosoever the "learner"
may be, no sooner he will begin his "presentation" than
he will become nolens volens a "teacher."
But this is, after all, a trifle. We feel too proud and too satisfied
with the homage thus paid to Theosophy, and with the sight of
a representative of the Anglican clergy following in our track,
to find fault with details, or wish anything but good luck to
the Christo-Theosophical Association.
Lucifer, March, 1890
H. P. Blavatsky
1 Let our readers recall the names of the several most
eminent men in literature and science who had become openly Spiritualists.
We have but to name Professor Hare, Epes Sarjeant, Robert Dale
Owen, Judge Edmonds, etc., in America; Professors Butlerof, Wagner,
and, greater than they, the late Dr. Pirogoff (see his posthumous
"Memoirs," published in Rooskaya Starina, 1884-1886),
in Russia; Zöllner, in Germany; M. Camille Flammarion, the
Astronomer, in France; and last but not least, Messrs. A. Russell
Wallace, W. Crookes, Balfour Stewart, etc., in England, followed
by a number of scientific stars of the second magnitude. back to
2 We hope that the few friends we have left in the
ranks of the Spiritualists may not misunderstand us. We denounce
the bogus "spirits" of seances held by professional
mediums, and deny the possibility of such manifestations of spirits
on the physical plane. But we believe thoroughly in Spiritualistic
phenomena, and in the intercourse between Spirits of Egos of
embodied and disembodied entities; only adding that, since the
latter cannot manifest on our plane, it is the Ego of the living
man which meets the Ego of the dead personality, by ascending
to the Devachanic plane, which may be accomplished in trance.
during sleep in dreams, and by other subjective means. back to