SPIRITUALISM AND SPIRITUALISTS
[From The Spiritual Scientist, Jan. 6th, 1876.]
DEAR SIR,For the last
three months one has hardly been able to open a number of The Banner,
or the other papers, without finding one or more proofs of the fecundity
of the human imagination in the condition of hallucination. The Spiritualist
camp is in an uproar, and the clans are gathering to fight imaginary foes.
The toxin is sounded; danger signals shoot, like flaming rockets, across
the hitherto serene sky, and warning cries are uttered by vigilant sentries
posted at the four corners of the "angel-girt world." The reverberations
of this din resound even in the daily press. One would think that the Day
of Judgment had come for American Spiritualism.
Why all this disturbance? Simply because two humble individuals have
spoken a few wholesome truths. If the grand beast of the Apocalypse with
its seven heads and the word "Blasphemy" written upon each, had
appeared in heaven, there would hardly have been seen so much commotion
there, as this; and there seems to be a concerted effort to cast out Col.
Olcott and myself (coupled like a pair of Hermetic Siamese twins) as ominous
to the superstitious as a comet with a fiery tail, and the precursor of
war, plagues and other calamities. They seem to think that if they do not
crush us, we will destroy Spiritualism.
I have no time to waste, and what I now write is not intended for the
benefit of such persons as thesewhose soap-bubbles, however pretty,
are sure to burst of themselvesbut to set myself right with many most
estimable Spiritualists for whom I feel a sincere regard.
If the spiritual press of America were conducted upon a principle of
doing even justice to all, I would send your contemporaries copies of this
letter, but their course in the past has made mewhether rightly or
notfeel as if no redress could be had outside of your columns. I shall
be only too glad if their treatment, in this case, gives me cause to change
my opinion that they, and their slandering theorists, are inspired by the
biblical devils who left Mary Magdalene and returned to the land of the
To begin, I wish to unhook my name from that of Col. Olcott, if you please,
and declare that, as he is not responsible for my views or actions, neither
am I for his. He is bold enough and strong enough to defend himself under
all circumstances, and has never allowed his adversaries to strike without
knocking out two teeth to their one. If our views on Spiritualism are in
some degree identical, and our work in the Theosophical Society pursued
in common, we are, notwithstanding, two very distinct entities and mean
to remain such. I highly esteem Col. Olcott, as everyone does who knows
him. He is a gentleman; but what is more in my eyes, he is an honest and
true man, and an unselfish Spiritualist, in the proper sense of that
word. If he now sees Spiritualism in another light than orthodox Spiritualists
would prefer, they themselves are only to blame. He strikes at the rotten
places of their philosophy, and they do all they can to cover up the ulcers
instead of trying to cure them. He is one of the truest and most unselfish
friends that the cause has to-day in America, and yet he is treated with
an intolerance that could hardly be expected of anybody above the level
of the rabid Moodys and Sankeys. Surely, facts speak for themselves; and
a faith so pure, angelic and unadulterated as American Spiritualism is claimed
to be, can have nothing to fear from heresiarchs. A house built on the rock
stands unshaken by any storm. If the New Lutheran Church can prove all its
"controls, guides and visitors from behind the shining river"
to be disembodied spirits, why all this row? Thats just where the
trouble lies; they cannot prove it. They have tasted these fruits of Paradise,
and while finding some of them sweet and refreshing because gathered and
brought by real angel friends, so many others have proved sour and
rotten at the core, that to escape an incurable dyspepsia, many of the best
and most sincere Spiritualists have left the communion without asking for
a letter of dismissal.
This is not Spiritualism; it is, as I say, a New Lutheran Church, and
really, though the late oracle of The Banner of Light was evidently
a pure and true womanfor the breath of calumny, this raging demon
of America, has never been able to soil her reputationand though certainly
she was a wonderful medium, still I dont see why a Spiritualist should
be ostracized, only because after having given up St. Paul, he or she does
not strictly adhere to the doctrines of St. Conant.
The last number of The Banner contained a letter from a Mr. Saxon,
criticizing some expressions in a recent letter of Col. Olcott to the New
York Sun, in defence of the Eddys. The only part which concerned me
Surely some magician, with his or her Kabalistic "Presto!
Change!" has worked sudden and singular revolutions in the mind of
this disciple of Occultism, this gentleman who "is" and "is
not" a Spiritualist.
As I am the only Kabalist in America, I cannot be mistaken as to the
authors meaning; so I cheerfully pick up the glove. While I am not
responsible for the changes in the barometer of Col. Olcotts spirituality
(which I notice usually presage a storm), I am for the following facts:
Since I left Chittenden, I have constantly and fearlessly maintained against
everyone, beginning with Dr. Beard, that their apparitions are genuine and
powerful. Whether they are "spirits of hell or goblins damned"
is a question quite separate from that of their mediumship. Col. Olcott
will not deny that when we met at Chittenden for the first time, and afterwardsand
that more than oncewhen he expressed suspicions about the genuineness
of Mayflower and George Dix, the spirits of Horatios dark séances,
I insisted that, so far as I could judge, they were genuine phenomena.
He will also no doubt admit, since he is an eminently truthful man, that
when the ungrateful behaviour of the Eddystoward whom every visitor
at the homestead will testify that he was kinder than a brotherhad
made him ready to express his indignation, I interfered on their behalf,
and begged that he would never confound mediums with other people as to
their responsibility. Mediums have tried to shake my opinions of the Eddy
boys, offering in two cases that I can recall to go to Chittenden with me
and expose the fraud. I acted the same with them that I did with the Colonel.
Mediums have tried likewise to convince me that Mr. Crookes Katie
King was but Miss F. Cooke walking about, while a wax bust, fabricated in
her likeness and covered with her clothes, lay in the cabinet representing
her as entranced. Other mediums, regarding me as a fanatical Spiritualist,
who would even be ready to connive at fraud rather than see the cause hurt
by an exposure, have let, or pretended to let, me into the secrets of the
mediumship of their fellow mediums, and sometimes incautiously into their
My experience shows that the worst enemies of mediums are mediums. Not
content with slandering each other, they assail and traduce their warmest
and most unselfish friends.
Whatever objection anyone may have to me on account of country, religion,
occult study, rudeness of speech, cigarette-smoking, or any other peculiarity,
my record in connection with Spiritualism for long years does not show me
as making money by it, or gaining any other advantage, direct or indirect.
On the contrary, those who have met me in all parts of the world (which
I have circumnavigated three times), will testify that I have given thousands
of dollars, imperilled my life, defied the Catholic Churchwhere it
required more courage to do so than the Spiritualists seem to show about
encountering elementariesand in camp and court, on the sea, in the
desert, in civilized and savage countries, I have been from first to last
the friend and champion of mediums. I have done more. I have often taken
the last dollar out of my pocket, and even necessary clothes off my back,
to relieve their necessities.
And how do you think I have been rewarded? By honours, emoluments, and
social position? Have I charged a fee for imparting to the public or individuals
what little knowledge I have gathered in my travels and studies? Let those
who have patronized our principal mediums answer.
I have been slandered in the most shameful way, and the most unblushing
lies circulated about my character and antecedents by the very mediums whom
I have been defending at the risk of being taken for their confederate,
when their tricks have been detected. What has happened in American cities
is no worse nor different from what has befallen me in Europe, Asia and
Africa. I have been injured temporarily in the eyes of good and pure men
and women by the libels of mediums whom I never saw, and who never were
in the same city with me at the same time; of mediums who made me the heroine
of shameful histories whose action was alleged to have occurred when I was
in another part of the world, far away from the face of a white man. Ingratitude
and injustice have been my portion since I had first to do with spiritual
mediums. I have met here with a few exceptions, but very, very few.
Now, what do you suppose has sustained me throughout? Do you imagine
that I could not see the disgusting frauds mixed up with the most divine
genuine manifestations? Could I, having nothing to gain in money, power
or any other consideration, have been content to pass through all these
dangers, suffer all this abuse, and receive all these injurious insults,
if I saw nothing in Spiritualism but what these critics of Col. Olcott and
myself can see? Would the prospect of an eternity, passed in the angel-girt
world, in company with unwashed Indian guides and military controls, with
Aunt Sallies and Prof. Websters, have been inducement enough? No; I would
prefer annihilation to such a prospect. It was because I knew that through
the same golden gates which swung open to admit the elementary and those
unprogressed human spirits who are worse, if anything, than they, have often
passed the real and purified forms of the departed and blessed ones. Because,
knowing the nature of these spirits and the laws of mediumistic control,
I have never been willing to hold my calumniators responsible for the great
evil they did, when they were often simply the unfortunate victims of obsession
by unprogressed spirits. Who can blame me for not wishing to associate with
or receive instruction from spirits who, if not far worse, were no better
nor wiser than I? Is a man entitled to respect and veneration simply because
his body is rotting under ground, like that of a dog? To me the grand object
of my life was attained and the immortality of our spirit demonstrated.
Why should I turn necromancer and evoke the dead, who could neither teach
me nor make me better than I was? It is a more dangerous thing to play with
the mysteries of life and death than most Spiritualists imagine.
Let them thank God for the great proof of immortality afforded them in
this century of unbelief and materialism; and, if divine Providence has
put them on the right path, let them pursue it by all means, but not stop
to pass their time in dangerous talk indiscriminately with every one from
the other side. The land of spirits, the Summer Land, as they call it here,
is a terra incognita; no believer will deny it; it is vastly more
unknown to every Spiritualist, as regards its various inhabitants, than
a trackless virgin forest of Central Africa. And who can blame the pioneer
settler if he hesitates to open his door to a knock, before assuring himself
whether the visitor be man or beast?
Thus, just because of all that I have said above I proclaim myself a
true Spiritualist, because my belief is built upon a firm ground, and that
no exposure of mediums, no social scandal affecting them or others, no materialistic
deductions of exact science, or sneers and denunciations of scientists,
can shake it. The truth is coming slowly to light and I shall do my best
to hasten its advent. I will breast the current of popular prejudice and
ignorance. I am prepared to endure slander, foul insinuations and insult
in the future as I have in the past. Already one spiritual editor, to most
effectually demonstrate his spirituality, has called me a witch. I have
survived, and hope to do so if two or two-score more should do the same;
but whether I ride the air to attend my Sabbath or not, one thing is certain:
I will not ruin myself to buy broomsticks upon which to chase after every
lie set afloat by editors or mediums.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
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