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some from a very curious unpublished work by an American gentleman who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
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 is formed, 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,
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
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 bene.
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,
"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 VIVICATIVAM et rectricem corporis sensuum
originem, per quam . . . alit in corpore corpus" (De Occulta Philos.,
pp. 357, 358).
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 are demons."
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
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"
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?
H. P. B.
Lucifer, November, 1891
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
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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.
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3 See Lucretius De Nat. Rerum I,
I, who calls it a simulacrum.
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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
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.
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5 Annales de la propagation de la foi.
No.143; July, 1852.
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