ON THE NEW YEAR'S MORROW
The veil which covers the face of futurity is woven by the hand
A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! This seems easy enough
to say, and everyone expects some such greeting.
Yet, whether the wish, though it may proceed from
a sincere heart, is likely to be realized even in the case
of the few--is more difficult to decide. According to our
theosophical tenets, every man or woman is endowed,
more or less, with a magnetic potentiality, which
when helped by a sincere, and especially by an intense
and indomitable will--is the most effective of magic
levers placed by Nature in human hands--for woe as for weal.
Let us then, Theosophists, use that will to send
a sincere greeting and a wish of good luck for the New Year to
every living creature under the sun--enemies and relentless traducers
included. Let us try and feel especially kindly and forgiving
to our foes and persecutors, honest or dishonest,
lest some of us should send unconsciously an "evil eye"
greeting instead of a blessing. Such an effect is but too
easily produced even without the help of the occult combination
of the two numbers, the 8 and the 9, of the late
departed, and of the newly-born year. But with these
two numbers staring us in the face, an evil wish,
just now, would be simply disastrous!
"Hulloo!" we hear some casual readers exclaiming.
"Here's a new superstition of the theosophic cranks:
let us hear it. . . ."
You shall, dearly beloved critics, though it is
not a new but a very old superstition. It
is one shared, once upon a time, and firmly believed
in, by all the Cæsars and World-potentates.
These dreaded the number 8, because it postulates the equality of all men. Out of eternal unity and the mysterious
number seven, out of Heaven and the seven planets
and the sphere of the fixed stars, in the philosophy of
arithmetic, was born the ogdoad. It was the
first cube of the even numbers, and hence held sacred.1 In Eastern philosophy number eight symbolises equality of units,
order and symmetry in heaven, transformed into inequality
and confusion on earth, by selfishness, the great
rebel against Nature's decrees.
"The figure 8 or indicates the perpetual and regular motion
of the Universe," says Ragon. But if perfect
as a cosmic number it is likewise the symbol of the lower Self,
the animal nature of man. Thus, we augur ill
for the unselfish portion of humanity from the present
combination of the year-numbers. For the central figures
89 in the year 1890, are but a repetition of the two figures
in the tail-end of 1889. And nine was a digit terribly
dreaded by the ancients. With them it was a symbol of great
changes, cosmic and social, and of versatility,
in general; the sad emblem of the fragility of human things.
Figure 9 represents the earth under the influence of an evil
principle; the Kabalists holding, moreover,
that it also symbolises the act of reproduction and generation.
That is to say that the year 1890 is preparing to reproduce all the evils of its parent 1889, and to generate plenty of
its own. Three times three is the great symbol of corporisation, or the materialisation of spirit
according to Pythagoras--hence of gross matter.2 Every material extension, every circular line was represented
by number 9, for the ancient philosophers had observed
that, which the philosophicules of our age either fail
to see, or else attribute to it no importance whatever.
Nevertheless, the natural depravity of this digit and number
is awful. Being sacred to the spheres it stands as the
sign of circumference, since its value in degrees is equal
to 9--i.e., to 3+6+0. Hence it is
also the symbol of the human head--especially of the modern average
head, ever ready to be parading as 9 when it is hardly
a 3. Moreover, this blessed 9 is possessed of the
curious power of reproducing itself in its entirety in every multiplication
and whether wanted or not; that is to say, when
multiplied by itself or any other number this cheeky and pernicious
figure will always result in a sum of 9--a vicious trick of material
nature, also, which reproduces itself on the slightest
provocation. Therefore it becomes comprehensible why the
ancients made of 9 the symbol of Matter, and we,
the modern Occultists, make of it that of
the materialism of our age--the fatal nineteenth century, now happily on its decline.
If this antediluvian wisdom of the ages fails to penetrate
the "circumference" of the cephaloid "spheres"
of our modern Scientists and Mathematicians--then we do not know what will do so. The occult future
of 1890 is concealed in the exoteric past of 1889 and its preceding
patronymical eight years.
Unhappily--or shall we say, happily--man in this dark cycle
is denied, as a collective whole, the faculty of
foresight. Whether we take into our mystic consideration
the average business man, the profligate,
the materialist, or the bigot, it is always
the same. Compelled to confine his attention to the day's
concern, the business man but imitates the provident ant
by laying by a provision against the winter of old age;
while the elect of fortune and Karmic illusions tries his best
to emulate the grasshopper in his perpetual buzz and summer-song.
The selfish care of the one and the utter recklessness of the
other make both disregard and often remain entirely ignorant of
any serious duty towards Human kind. As to the latter two,
namely the materialist and the bigot, their duty to their
neighbours and charity to all begin and end at home. Most
men love but those who share their respective ways of thinking,
and care nothing for the future of the races or the world;
nor will they give a thought, if they can help it,
to post-mortem life. Owing to their respective psychical
temperaments each man expects death will usher him either through
golden porches into a conventional heaven, or through sulphurous
caverns into an asbestos hell, or else to the verge of
an abyss of non-existence. And lo, how all of them--save
the materialist--do fear death to be sure! May not this fear lie
at the bottom of the aversion of certain people to Theosophy and
Metaphysics? But no man in this century--itself whirling madly
towards its gaping tomb--has the time or desire to give more than
a casual thought either to the grim visitor who will not miss
one of us, or to Futurity.
They are, perhaps, right as to the latter.
The future lies in the present and both include the Past.
With a rare occult insight Rohel made quite an esoterically true remark, in saying that "the future does not
come from before to meet us, but comes streaming up from
behind over our heads." For the Occultist and average
Theosophist the Future and the Past are both included in each
moment of their lives, hence in the eternal PRESENT.
The Past is a torrent madly rushing by, that we face incessantly,
without one second of interval; every wave of it,
and every drop in it, being an event, whether great
or small. Yet, no sooner have we faced it,
and whether it brings joy or sorrow, whether it elevates
us or knocks us off our feet, than it is carried away and
disappears behind us, to be lost sooner or later in the
great Sea of Oblivion. It depends on us to make every such
event non-existent to ourselves by obliterating it from our memory;
or else to create of our past sorrows Promethean Vultures--those
"dark-winged birds, the embodied memories of the Past,"
which, in Sala's graphic fancy wheel and shriek over the
Lethean lake." In the first case, we are real
philosophers; in the second--but timid and even cowardly
soldiers of the army called mankind, and commanded in the
great battle of Life by "King Karma." Happy those
of its warriors by whom Death is regarded as a tender and merciful
mother. She rocks her sick children into sweet sleep on
her cold, soft bosom but to awake them a moment after,
healed of all ailing, happy, and with a tenfold
reward for every bitter sigh or tear. Post-mortem oblivion
of every evil--to the smallest--is the most blissful characteristic
of the "paradise" we believe in. Yes:
oblivion of pain and sorrow and the vivid recollection only,
nay once more the living over of every happy moment of our terrestrial
drama; and, if no such moment ever occurred in one's
sad life, then, the glorious realization of every
legitimate, well-earned, yet unsatisfied desire
we ever had, as true as life itself and intensified seventy-seven
times sevenfold. . . .
Christians--the Continental especially--celebrate their New Year
days with special pomp. That day is the Devachan of
children and servants, and every one is supposed to be
happy, from Kings and Queens down to the porters and kitchen-malkins.
The festival is, of course, purely pagan,
as with very few exceptions are all our holy days. The
dear old pagan customs have not died out, not even in Protestant
England, though here the New Year is no longer a sacred
day--more's the pity. The presents, which used to
be called in old Rome stren (now, the French étrennes), are still mutually exchanged.
People greet each other with the words: Annum novum
faustum felicemque tibi, as of yore; the magistrates,
it is true, sacrifice no longer a white swan to Jupiter,
nor priests a white steer to Janus. But magistrates,
priests and all devour still in commemoration of swan and steer,
big fat oxen and turkeys at their Christmas and New Year's dinners.
The gilt dates, the dried and gilt plums and figs have
now passed from the hands of the tribunes on their way to the
Capitol unto the Christmas trees for children. Yet,
if the modern Caligula receives no longer piles of copper coins
with the head of Janus on one side of them, it is because
his own effigy replaces that of the god on every coin,
and that coppers are no longer touched by royal hands.
Nor has the custom of presenting one's Sovereigns with stren been abolished in England so very long. D'Israeli tells
us in his Curiosities of Literature of 3,000 gowns
found in Queen Bess's wardrobe after her death, the fruits
of her New Year's tax on her faithful subjects, from Dukes
down to dustmen. As the success of any affair on that day
was considered a good omen for the whole year in ancient Rome,
so the belief exists to this day in many a Christian country,
in Russia pre-eminently so. Is it because instead of the
New Year, the mistletoe and the holly are now used on Christmas
day, that the symbol has become Christian? The cutting
of the mistletoe off the sacred oak on New Year's day is a relic
of the old Druids of pagan Britain. Christian Britain is
as pagan in her ways as she ever was.
But there are more reasons than one why England is bound to include
the New Year as a sacred day among Christian festivals.
The 1st of January being the 8th day after Christmas, is,
according to both profane and ecclesiastical histories,
the festival of Christ's circumcision, as six days later
is the Epiphany. And it is as undeniable and as world-known
a fact as any, that long before the advent of the three
Zoroastrian Magi, of Christ's circumcision, or his
birth either, the 1st of January was the first day of the
civil year of the Romans, and celebrated 2,000 years
ago as it is now. It is hard to see the reason,
since Christendom has helped itself to the Jewish Scriptures,
and along with them their curious chronology, why it should
have found it unfit to adopt also the Jewish Rosh-Hashonah (the head of the year), instead of the pagan New Year.
Once that the 1st Chapter of Genesis is left headed
in every country with the words, "Before Christ,
4004," consistency alone should have suggested the
propriety of giving preference to the Talmudic calendar over the
pagan Roman. Everything seemed to invite the Church to
do so. On the undeniable authority of revelation Rabbinical
tradition assures us that it was on the 1st day of the month of Tisri, that the Lord God of Israel created the world--just
5,848 years ago. Then there's that other historical
fact, namely that our father Adam was like wise created
on the first anniversary of that same day of Tisri--a year after.
All this is very important, pre-eminently suggestive,
and underlines most emphatically our proverbial western ingratitude.
Moreover, if we are permitted to say so, it is dangerous.
For that identical first day of Tisri is also called "Yom
Haddin," the Day of Judgment. The Jewish El
Shaddai, the Almighty, is more active than the
"Father" of the Christians. The latter will judge
us only after the destruction of the Universe, on the Great
Day when the Goats and the Sheep will stand, each on their
allotted side, awaiting eternal bliss or damnation.
But El Shaddai, we are informed by the Rabbins,
sits in judgment on every anniversary of the world's creation--i.e. on every New Year's Day. Surrounded by His archangels,
the God of Mercy has the astro-sidereal minute books opened,
and the name of every man, woman and child is read to Him
aloud from these Records, wherein the minutest thoughts
and deeds of every human (or is it only Jewish?) being are entered.
If the good deeds outnumber the wicked actions, the mortal
whose name is read lives through that year. The Lord plagues
for him some Christian Pharaoh or two, and hands him over
to him to shear. But if the bad deeds outweigh the good--then
woe to the culprit; he is forthwith condemned to suffer
the penalty of death during that year, and is sent to Sheol.
This would imply that the Jews regard the gift of life as something
very precious indeed. Christians are as fond of their lives
as Jews, and both are generally scared out of their wits
at the approach of Death. Why it should be so has never
been made clear. Indeed, this seems but a poor compliment
to pay the Creator, as suggesting the idea that none of
the Christians care particularly to meet the Unspeakable Glory
of the "Father' face to face. Dear, loving
A pious Roman Catholic assured us one day that it was not so,
and attributed the scare to reverential awe. Moreover,
he tried to persuade his listeners that the Holy Inquisition burnt
her "heretics" out of pure Christian kindness.
They were put out of the way of terrestrial mischief in this way,
he said, for Mother Church knew well that Father God would
take better care of the roasted victims than any mortal authority
could, while they were raw and living. This may
be a mistaken view of the situation, nevertheless,
it was meant in all Christian charity.
We have heard a less charitable version of the real reason for
burning heretics and all whom the Church was determined to get
rid of; and by comparison this reason colours the Calvinistic
doctrine of predestination to eternal bliss or damnation with
quite a roseate hue. It is said to be stated in the secret
records of the Vatican archives, that burning to the last
atom of flesh, after breaking all the bones into small
fragments, was done with a predetermined object.
It was that of preventing the "enemy of the Church,"
from taking his part and share even in the last act of the drama
of the world--as theologically conceived--namely in "the
Resurrection of the Dead," or of all flesh,
on the great Judgment Day. As cremation is to this hour
opposed by the Church on the same principle--to wit, that
a cremated "Sleeper" will upon awakening at the blast
of the angel's trumpet, find it impossible to gather up
in time his scattered limbs--the reason given for the auto
da fé seems reasonable enough and quite likely.
The sea will give up the dead which are in it, and death
and hell will deliver up their dead (Vide "Revelation"
xx. 13); but terrestrial fire is not to be credited
with a like generosity, nor supposed to share in the asbestosian
characteristics of the orthodox hellfire. Once the body
is cremated it is as good as annihilated with regard to the last
rising of the dead. If the occult reason of the inquisitorial autos da fé rests on fact--and personally we do
not entertain the slightest doubt of it, considering the
authority it was received from--then the Holy Inquisition and
Popes would have very little to say against the Protestant doctrine
of Predestination. The latter, as warranted in Revelation,
allows some chance, at least, to the "Damned"
whom hell delivers at the last hour, and who may thus yet
be pardoned. While if things took place in nature as the
theology of Rome decreed that they should, the poor "Heretics"
would find themselves worse off than any of the "damned."
Natural query: which of the two, the God of the
Calvinists or the Jesuit of God, he who first invented
burning, beats the other in refined and diabolical cruelty?
Shall the question remain in 1890, sub judice, as it did in 1790?
But the Inquisition, with its stake and rack and diabolical
tortures, is happily abolished now, even in Spain.
Otherwise these lines would never have been written; nor
would our Society have such zealous and good theosophists in the
land of Torquemada and the ancient paradise of man-roasting festivals,
as it has now. Happy NEW YEAR to them,
too, as to all the Brethren scattered all over the wide
globe. Only we, theosophists, so kindly nicknamed
the "sevening lunatics," would prefer another
day for our New Year. Like the apostate Emperor,
many of us have still a strong lingering love for the poetical,
bright gods of Olympus and would willingly repudiate the double-faced
Thessalonian. The first of Januarius was ever more sacred
to Janus than Juno; and janua, meaning "the
gate that openeth the year," holds as good for any
day in January. January 3, for instance,
was consecrated to Minerva-Athene the goddess of wisdom
and to Isis, "she who generates life,"
the ancient lady patroness of the good city of Lutetia.
Since then, mother Isis has fallen a victim to the faith
of Rome and civilization. and Lutetia along with her.
Both were converted in the Julian calendar (the heirloom of pagan Julius Cæsar used by Christendom till the XIIIth
century). Isis was baptized Geneviéve, became
a beatified saint and martyr, and Lutetia was called Paris
for a change, preserving the same old patroness but with
the addition of a false nose.3 Life itself is
a gloomy masquerade wherein the ghastly danse Macabre is
every instant performed; why should not calendars and even
religion in such case be allowed to partake in the travesty?
To be brief, it is January the 4th which ought to be selected
by the Theosophists--the Esotericists especially--as their New Year. January is under the sign of Capricornus,
the mysterious Makara of the Hindu mystics--the "Kumaras,"
it being stated, having incarnated in mankind under the
10th sign of the Zodiac. For ages the 4th of January has
been sacred to Mercury-Budha,4 or Thoth-Hermes.
Thus everything combines to make of it a festival to be held by
those who study ancient Wisdom. Whether called Budh or Budhi by its Aryan name, Mercurios, the
son of Clus and Hecate truly, or of
the divine (white) and infernal (black) magic by its Hellenic,
or again Hermes or Thoth its Greco-Egyptian name, the day
seems in every way more appropriate for us than January 1,
the day of Janus, the double-faced "god of the time"--servers. Yet it is well named, and as well chosen to be celebrated
by all the political Opportunists the world over.
Poor old Janus! How his two faces must have looked perplexed at
the last stroke of midnight on December 31! We think we see these
ancient faces. One of them is turned regretfully toward
the Past, in the rapidly gathering mists of which the dead
body of 1889 is disappearing. The mournful eye of the God
follows wistfully the chief events impressed on the departed Annus: the crumbling Eiffel tower; the collapse of the "monotonous"--as
Mark Twain's "tenth mule"--Parnell-Pigot alliteration;
the sundry abdications, depositions and suicides of royalty;
the Hegira of aristocratic Mahomeds, and such like
freaks and fiascos of civilization. This is the
Janus face of the Past. The other, the face of the
Future, is enquiringly turned the other way, and
stares into the very depths of the womb of Futurity; the
hopeless vacancy in the widely open eye bespeaks the ignorance
of the God. No; not the two faces, nor even
the occasional four heads of Janus and their eight eyes can penetrate the thickness of the veils that enshroud the karmic mysteries
with which the New Year is pregnant from the instant of its birth.
What shalt thou endow the world with, O fatal Year 1890
with thy figures between a unit and a cipher, or symbolically
between living man erect, the embodiment
of wicked mischief-making, and the universe of matter!5 The "influenza" thou hast already in thy pocket,
for people see it peeping out. Of people daily killed in
the streets of London by tumbling over the electric wires of the
new "lighting craze," we have already a premonition
through news from America. Dost thou see, O Janus,
perched like "sister Anne" upon the parapet dividing
the two years, a wee David slaying the giant Goliath,
little Portugal slaying great Britain, or her prestige, at any rate. on the horizons of the torrid zones of
Africa? Or is it a Hindu Soodra helped by a Buddhist Bonze from
the Empire of the Celestials who make thee frown so? Do they not
come to convert the two-thirds of the Anglican divines to
the worship of the azure coloured Krishna and of the Buddha of
the elephant-like pendant ears, who sits cross-legged and
smiles so blandly on a cabbage-like lotus? For these are the theosophical ideals--nay, Theosophy itself, the divine
Wisdom--as distorted in the grossly materialistic, all-anthropomorphizing
mind of the average British Philistine. What unspeakable
new horrors shalt thou, O year 1890, unveil before
the eyes of the world? Shall it though ironclad and laughing at
every tragedy of life sneer too, when Janus, surnamed
on account of the key in his right hand, Janitor,
the door-keeper to Heaven--a function with which he was entrusted
ages before he became St. Peter--uses that key? It is only
when he has unlocked one after the other door of every one of
the 365 days (true "Blue Beard's secret chambers") which
are to become thy future progeny, O mysterious stranger,
that the nations will be able to decide whether thou wert a "Happy,"
or a Nefast Year.
Meanwhile, let every nation, as every reader,
fly for inquiry to their respective gods, if they would
learn the secrets of Futurity. Thus the American,
Nicodemus-like, may go to one of his three living and actually
reincarnated Christs, each calling himself Jesus,
now flourishing under the star-bespangled Banner of Liberty.
The Spiritualist is at liberty to consult his favorite medium,
who may raise Saul or evoke the Spirit of Deborah for the benefit
and information of his client. The gentleman-sportsman
can bend his steps to the mysterious abode of his rival's jockey,
and the average politician consult the secret police, a
professional chiromancer, or an astrologer, etc.,
etc. As regards ourselves we have faith in numbers and
only in that face of Janus which is called the Past. For--doth
Janus himself know the future?--or
. . . perchance himself he does not
H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, January, 1890
1 As shown by Ragon, the Mason-Occultist,
the gnostic ogdoad had eight stars representing the 8 cabiri of
Samothrace, the 8 principles of the Egyptians and Phnicians,
the 8 gods of Xenocrates, the 8 angles of the cubic stone.
2 The reason for this is because according to the
each of the three elements that constitute our bodies is a ternary:
water. containing earth and fire: earth containing
aqueous and igneous particles; and fire being tempered
by aqueous globules and terrestrial corpuscles serving it as food.
Hence the name given to matter, the "nonagous envelope."
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3This festival remains thus unchanged as that of the
lady Patroness of Lutetia=Paris, and to this day Isis is offered religious honours in every Parisian and
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4The 4th of January being sacred to Mercury,
of whom the Greeks made Hermes the R. Catholics
have included St. Hermes in their Calendar. Just
in the same way, the 9th of that month having been always
celebrated by the pagans as the day of the "conquering sun" the R. Catholics have transformed the noun
into a proper name, making, of it St. Nicanor (from the Greek nican, to conquer), whom
they honour on the 10th of January.
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5 It is only when the cipher or nought stands by itself
and without being preceded by any digit that it becomes the symbol
of the infinite Kosmos and--of absolute Deity.
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