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Articles by HPB

BEFORE we enter into the subject of the occult art as practised on the West Coast of Africa, it will be well to clear the ground by first considering for a moment what we mean by the much-abused term "Magic."

There are many definitions of this word; and, in bygone ages, it was simply used to designate anything and everything which was "not understanded of the vulgar." It will be sufficient for our purpose to define it as the knowledge of certain natural laws which are not merely unknown but absolutely unsuspected by the scientists of Europe and America.

It is a recognized fact that no law of Nature can be--even for a single moment--abrogated. When, therefore, this appears to us to be the case--when, for instance, such a universally known law as that of the attraction of gravitation seems to be annihilated, we must recognize the fact that there may be other laws at present unknown to Western science which have the power of overriding and suspending for the time being the action of the known law.

The knowledge of these hidden laws is what we understand by the term occult science, or magic. And there is no other magic than this, and never has been, at any period of the world's history. All the so-called "miracles" of ancient times can be and are reproduced at the present day by magists when occasion requires. An act of magic is a pure scientific feat, and must not be confounded with legerdemain or trickery of any kind.

There are several schools of magism, all proceeding and operating on entirely different lines. The principal of these, and on whose philosophy all others are founded, are the Hindu; the Thibetan, the Egyptian (including the Arab) and the Obeeyan or Voodoo. The last named is entirely and fundamentally opposed to the other three: it having its root and foundation in necromancy or "black magic," while the others all operate either by means of what is known to experts as "white magic," or in other cases by "psychologizing" the spectator. And, a whole crowd of spectators can be psychologized and made at the will of the operator to see and feel whatever things he chooses, all the time being in full possession of their ordinary faculties. Thus, perhaps a couple of travelling fakirs give their performance in your own compound or in the garden of your bungalow. They erect a small tent and tell you to choose any animal which you wish to see emerge therefrom. Many different animals are named in rotation by the bystanders, and in every case the desired quadruped, be he tiger or terrier dog, comes out of the opening in the canvas and slowly marches off until he disappears round some adjacent corner. Well, this is done simply by "psychologizing," as are all the other great Indian feats, such as "the basket trick" "the mango tree," throwing a rope in the air and climbing up it, pulling it up and disappearing in space, and the thousand and one other similar performances which are "familiar as household words" to almost every Anglo-Indian.

The difference between these schools and that of the Voodoo or Obeeyah is very great, because in them there is a deception or want of reality in the performance. The spectator does not really see what he fancies he sees: his mind is simply impressed by the operator and the effect is produced. But in African magic, on the contrary, there is no will impression: the observer does really and actually see what is taking place. The force employed by the African necromancers is not psychological action but demonosophy.

White magists have frequently dominated and employed inferior spirits to do their bidding, as well as invoked the aid of powerful and beneficent ones to carry out their purposes. But this is an entirely different thing: The spirits which are naturally maleficent become the slaves of the magist, and he controls them and compels them to carry out his beneficent plans. The necromancer, or votary of black magic, is, on the contrary, the slave of the evil spirit to whom he has given himself up.

While the philosophy of the magist demands a life of the greatest purity and the practice of every virtue, while he must utterly subdue and have in perfect control all his desires and appetites, mental and physical, and must become simply an embodied intellect, absolutely purged from all human weakness and pusillanimity, the necromancer must outrage and degrade human nature in every way conceivable. The very least of the crimes necessary for him (or her) to commit to attain the power sought is actual murder, by which the human victim essential to the sacrifice is provided. The human mind can scarcely realise or even imagine one tithe of the horrors and atrocities actually performed by the Obeeyah women.

Yet, though the price is awful, horrible, unutterable, the power is real. There is no possibility of mistake about that. Every petty king on the West Coast has his "rain-maker." It is the fashion among travellers, and the business of the missionaries, to ridicule and deny the powers of these people. But they do possess and do actually use the power of causing storms of rain, wind, and lightning. When one considers that however ignorant and brutal a savage may be, yet that he has an immense amount of natural cunning, and his very ignorance makes him believe nothing that cannot be proved to him, no "rain-maker" could live for one year unless he gave repeated instances of his powers when required by the king. Failure would simply mean death. And the hypothesis that they only work their conjurations when the weather is on the point of change is only an invention of the missionaries. The native chiefs are, like all savages, able to detect an approaching change of weather many hours before it takes place. And is it at all likely that they would send for the rain-maker and give him sufficient cattle to last him for twelve months, besides wives and other luxuries, if there were the slightest appearance of approaching rain?

I remember well my first experience of these wizards. For weeks and weeks there had been no rain, although it was the rainy season. The mealies were all dying for want of water; the cattle were being slaughtered in all directions; women and children had died by scores, and the fighting men were beginning to do the same, being themselves scarcely more than skeletons. Day after day, the sun glared down on the parched earth, without one intervening cloud, like a globe of glowing copper, and all Nature languished in that awful furnace. Suddenly the king ordered the great war drum to be beaten, and the warriors all gathered hurriedly. He announced the arrival of two celebrated rain-makers, who would forthwith proceed to relieve the prevailing distress. The elder of the two was a stunted, bow-legged little man, with wool which would have been white had it not been messed up with grease, filth and feathers. The second was rather a fine specimen of the Soosoo race, but with a very sinister expression. A large ring being formed by the squatting negroes, who came--for some unknown reason--all armed to the teeth, the king being in the centre, and the rain-makers in front of him, they commenced their incantations. The zenith and the horizon were eagerly examined from time to time, but not a vestige of a cloud appeared. Presently the elder man rolled on the ground in convulsions, apparently epileptic, and his comrade started to his feet pointing with both hands to the copper-colored sky. All eyes followed his gesture, and looked at the spot to which his hands pointed, but nothing was visible. Motionless as a stone statue he stood with gaze rivetted on the sky. In about the space of a minute a darker shade was observable in the copper tint, in another minute it grew darker and darker, and, in a few more seconds developed into a black cloud, which soon overspread the heavens. In a moment, a vivid flash was seen, and the deluge that fell from that cloud, which had now spread completely overhead, was something to be remembered. For two days and nights that torrent poured down, and seemed as if it would wash everything out of the ground.

After the king had dismissed the rain-makers, and they had deposited the cattle and presents under guard, I entered the hut in which they were lodged, and spent the night with them, discussing the magical art. The hut was about fourteen feet in diameter, strongly built of posts driven firmly into the ground, and having a strong thatched conical roof. I eventually persuaded them to give me one or two examples of their skill. They began singing, or rather crooning, a long invocation, after a few minutes of which the younger man appeared to rise in the air about three feet from the ground and remain there unsuspended, and floating about. There was a brilliant light in the hut from a large fire in the centre, so that the smallest detail could be distinctly observed. I got up and went to feel the man in the air, and there was no doubt about his levitation. He then floated close to the wall and passed through it to the outside. I made a dash for the doorway, which was on the opposite side of the hut, and looked round for him. I saw a luminous figure which appeared like a man rubbed with phosphorised oil; but I was glad to rapidly take shelter from the torrents of rain. When I re-entered the hut, there was only the old man present. I examined the logs carefully, but there was no aperture whatever. The old man continued his chant, and in another moment his comrade re-appeared floating in the air. He sat down on the ground, and I saw his black skin glistening with rain, and the few rags he wore were as wet as if he had been dipped in a river.

The next feat was performed by the old man, and consisted in several instantaneous disappearances and reappearances. The curious point about this was that the old man also was dripping wet.

Following this was a very interesting exhibition. By the old man's directions we arranged ourselves round the fire at the three points of an imaginary triangle. The men waved their hands over the fire in rhythm with their chant when dozens of tic-polongas, the most deadly serpent in Africa, slowly crawled out from the burning embers, and interlacing themselves together whirled in a mad dance on their tails round the fire, making all the while a continuous hissing. At the word of command they all sprang into the fire and disappeared. The young man then came round to me, and, kneeling down, opened his mouth, out of which the head of a tic-polonga was quickly protruded. He snatched it out, pulling a serpent nearly three feet long out of his throat, and threw it also into the fire. In rapid succession he drew seven serpents from his throat, and consigned them all to the same fiery end.

But I wanted to know what they could do in the way of evocation of spirits. The incantation this time lasted nearly twenty minutes, when, rising slowly from the fire, appeared a human figure, a man of great age, a white man too, but absolutely nude. I put several questions to him, but obtained no reply. I arose and walked round the fire, and particularly noticed a livid scar on his back. I could get no satisfactory explanation of who he was, but they seemed rather afraid of him, and had evidently--from the remarks they interchanged--expected to see a black man.

After the appearance of this white man, I could not persuade them that night to attempt anything more, although the next night I had no difficulty with them. A most impressive feat, which they on a subsequent occasion performed, was the old custom of the priests of Baal. Commencing a lugubrious chant they slowly began circling around the fire (which said fire always is an essential part of the proceedings), keeping a certain amount of rhythm in both their movements and cadences. Presently, the movement grew faster and faster till they whirled round like dancing dervishes. There were two distinct movements; all the time during which they were gyrating round the circle, they were rapidly spinning on their own axes. With the rapidity of their evolutions their voices were raised higher and higher until the din was terrific. Then, by a simultaneous movement, each began slashing his naked body on arms, chest, and thighs, until they were streaming with blood and covered with deep gashes. Then the old man stopped his erratic course, and sitting down on the ground narrowly watched the younger one with apparent solicitude. The young man continued his frantic exertions until exhausted Nature could bear no more, and he fell panting and helpless on the ground. The old man took both the knives and anointed the blades with some evil smelling grease from a calabash, and then stroked the young man's body all over with the blade which had done the injuries, and finished the operation by rubbing him vigorously with the palms of the hands smeared with the unguent.

In a few minutes time the young man arose, and there was not the slightest trace of wound or scar in his ebony skin. He then performed the same good offices on the old man with the same effect. Within ten minutes afterwards they were both laid on their mats in a sweet and quiet sleep. In this performance there were many invocations, gestures, the circular fire, and other things which satisfied me that some portion, at all events, of the magical processes of West Africa had been handed down from the days when Baal was an actual God, and mighty in the land.

H. P. Blavatsky

Lucifer, November, 1890




Articles by HPB

[From the New York Echo, 1878.]

OF the many remarkable characters of this century, Ghafur was one of the most conspicuous.

If there be truth in the Eastern doctrine that souls, powerful whether for good or bad, who had not time in one existence to work out their plans, are reïncarnated, the fierceness of their yearnings to continue on earth thrusting them back into the current of their attractions, then Ghafur was a rebirth of that Felice Peretti, who is known in history as Pope Sixtus V., of crafty and odious memory. Both were born in the lowest class of society, being ignorant peasant boys and beginning life as herdsmen. Both reached the apex of power through craft and stealth and by imposing upon the superstitions of the masses. Sixtus, author of mystical books and himself a practitioner of the forbidden sciences to satisfy his lust for power and ensure impunity, became Inquisitor-General. Made Pope, he hurled his anathemas alike against Elizabeth of England, the King of Navarre, and other important personages. Abdul Ghafur, endowed with an iron will, had educated himself without colleges or professors except through association with the "wise men" of Khuttuk. He was as well versed in the Arabic and Persian literature of alchemy and astronomy as Sixtus was in Aristotle, and like him knew how to fabricate mesmerized talismans and amulets containing either life or death for those to whom they were presented. Each held millions of devotees under the subjection of their psychological influence, though both were more dreaded than beloved.

Ghafur had been a warrior and an ambitious leader of fanatics, but becoming a dervish and finally a pope, so to say, his blessing or curse made him as effectually the master of the Ameers and other Mussulmans as Sixtus was of the Catholic potentates of Europe.

Only the salient features of his career are known to Christendom. Watched, as he may have been, his private life, ambitions, aspirations for temporal as well as religious power, are almost a sealed book. But the one certain thing is, that he was the founder and chief of nearly every secret society worth speaking of among Mussulmans, and the dominant spirit in all the rest. His apparent antagonism to the Wahabees was but a mask, and the murderous hand that struck Lord Mayo was certainly guided by the old Abdul. The Biktashee Dervishes* [Footnote:* To this day, no Biktashee would be recognized as such unless he could claim possession of a certain medal with the seal of this " high-pontiff" of all the Dervishes, whether they belong to one sect or the other.  ] and the howling, dancing, and other Moslem religious mendicants recognize his supremacy as far above that of the Sheik-ul-Islam of the faithful. Hardly a political order of any importance issued from Constantinople or Teheran—heretics though the Persians are—without his having a finger in the pie directly or indirectly. As fanatical as Sixtus, but more cunning yet, if possible, instead of giving direct orders for the extermination of the Huguenots of Islam, the Wahabees, he directed his curses and pointed his finger only at those among them whom he found in his way, keeping on the best, though secret, terms with the rest.

The title of Nasr-ed-Din (defender of the faith) he impartially applied to both the Sultan and the Shah, though one is a Sunnite and the other a Shiah. He sweetened the stronger religious intolerance of the Osman dynasty by adding to the old title of Nasr-ed-Din those of Saif-ed-Din (scimitar of faith) and Emir-el-Mumminiah (prince of the faithful). Every Emir-el-Sourey, or leader of the sacred caravan of pilgrims to Mekka, brought or sent messages to, and received advice and instructions from, Abdul, the latter in the shape of mysterious oracles, for which was left the full equivalent in money, presents and other offerings, as the Catholic pilgrims have recently done at Rome.

In 1847-8 the Prince Mirza, uncle of the young Shah and ex-governor of a great province in Persia, appeared in Tiflis, seeking Russian protection at the hands of Prince Woronzof, Viceroy of the Caucasus. Having helped himself to the crown jewels and ready money in the treasury, he had run away from the jurisdiction of his loving nephew, who was anxious to put out his eyes. Popular rumour asserted that his reason for what he had done was that the great dervish, Ahkoond, had thrice appeared to him in dreams, prompting him to take what he had and share his booty with the protectors of the faith of his principal wife (he brought twelve with him to Tiflis), a native of Cabul. The secret, though, perhaps, indirect influence he exercised on the Begum of Bhopal, during the Sepoy rebellion of 1857 was a mystery only to the English, whom the old schemer knew so well how to hoodwink. During his long career of Macchiavellism, friendly with the British, and yet striking them constantly in secret; venerated as a new prophet by millions of orthodox, as well as heretic Mussulmans; managing to preserve his influence over friend and foe, the old "Teacher" had one enemy whom he feared, for he knew that no amount of craft would ever win it over to his side. This enemy was the once mighty nation of the Sikhs, ex-sovereign rulers of the Punjab and masters of the Peshawur Valley. Reduced from their high estate, this warrior people are now under the rule of a single Maharajah—Puttiala—who is himself the helpless vassal of the British. From the beginning the Ahkoond had continually encountered the Sikhs in his path. Scarce would he feel himself conqueror over one obstacle, before his hereditary enemy would appear between him and the realization of his hopes. If the Sikhs remained faithful to the British in 1857, it was not through hearty loyalty or political convictions, so much as through sheer opposition to the Mohammedans, whom they knew to be secretly prompted by the Ahkoond.

Since the days of the great Nanak, of the Kshattriya caste, founder of the Sikh Brotherhood in the second half of the fifteenth century, these brave and warlike tribes have ever been the thorn in the side of the Mogul dynasty, the terror of the Moslems of India. Originating, as we may say, in a religious Brotherhood, whose object was to make away alike with Islamism, Brâhmanism, and other isms, including later Christianity, this sect evolved a pure monotheism in the abstract idea of an ever unknown Principle, and elaborated it into the doctrine of the "Brotherhood of Man." In their view, we have but one Father-Mother Principle, with "neither form, shape, nor colour," and we ought all to be, if we are not, brothers irrespective of distinctions of race or colour. The sacerdotal Brâhman, fanatical in his observance of dead-letter forms, thus became in the opinion of the Sikh as much the enemy of truth as the Mussulman wallowing in a sensual heaven with his houris, the joss-worshipping Buddhist grinding out prayers at his wheel, or yet the Roman Catholic adoring his jewelled Madonnas, whose complexion the priests change from white to brown and black to suit climates and prejudices. Later on, Arjuna, son of Ramdas, the fourth in the succession after Nanak, gathering together the doctrines of the founder and his son Angad, brought out a sacred volume, called Adi-garunth, and largely supplemented it with selections from forty-five Sûtras of the Jains. While adopting equally the religious figures of the Vedas and Koran, after sifting them and explaining their symbolism, the Âdi-garunth yet presents a greater similarity of ideas respecting the most elaborate metaphysical conceptions with those of the Jain school of Gurus. The notions of Astrology, or the influence of the starry spheres upon ourselves, were evidently adopted from that most prominent school of antiquity. This will be readily ascertained by comparing the commentaries of Abhayadeva Surî upon the original forty-five Sûtras in the Magadhi or Balabasha language† [Footnote:† This valuable work is now being republished by Ookerdhabhoy Shewgee, and has been received by the Theosophical Society from the Editor through the President of the Bombay branch. When finished it will be the first edition of the Jain Bible, Sûtra-Sangraha or Vihiva Punnuttî Sûtra, in existence, as all their sacred books are kept in secret by the Jains. ] with the Âdi-garunth. An old Jain Guru, who is said to have drawn the horoscope of Runjeet Singh, at the time of his greatest power, had foretold the downfall of the kingdom of Lahore. It was the learned Arjuna who retired into Amritsir, changed the sect into a politico-religious community, and instituted within the same another and more esoteric body of Gurus, scholars and metaphysicians, of which he became sole chief. He died in prison, under torture, by the order of Aurungzebe, into whose hands he had fallen, at the beginning of the seventeenth century. His son Govinda, a Guru (religious teacher) of great renown, vowed revenge against the race of his father's murderers, and after various changes of fortune the Afghans were finally driven from the Punjab by the Sikhs in 1764. This triumph only made their hatred more bitter still, and from that moment until the death of Runjeet Singh, in 1839, we find them constantly aiming their blows at the Moslems. Mahâ Singh, the father of Runjeet, had set off the Sikhs into twelve mizals or divisions, each having its own chief (Sirdar), whose secret Council of State consisted of learned Gurus. Among these were Masters in spiritual Science, and they might, if they had had a mind, have exhibited as astonishing "miracles" and divine legerdemain as the old Mussulman Ahkoond. He knew it well, and for this reason dreaded them even more than he hated them for his defeat and that of his Ameer by Runjeet Singh.

One highly dramatic incident in the life of the "Pope of Sydoo" is the following well-authenticated case, which was much commented upon in his part of India about twenty years ago. One day, in 1858, when the Ahkoond, squatting on his carpet, was distributing amulets, blessings and prophecies among his pious congregation of pilgrims, a tall Hindû, who had silently approached and mingled in the crowd without having been noticed, suddenly addressed him thus: "Tell me, prophet, thou who prophesiest so well for others, whether thou knowest what will be thine own fate, and that of the 'Defender of the Faith,' thy Sultan of Stamboul, twenty years hence?"

The old Ghafur, overcome with violent surprise, stared at his interlocutor, but no answer came. In recognizing the Sikh he seemed to have lost all power of speech, and the crowd was under a spell.

"If not," continued the intruder, "then I will tell thee. Twenty years more and your 'Prince of the Faithful' will fall by the hand of an assassin of his own house. Two old men, one the Dalai Lama of the Christians, the other the great prophet of the Moslems—thyself—will be simultaneously crushed under the heel of death. Then, the first hour will strike of the downfall of those twin foes of truth—Christianity and Islam. The first, as the more powerful, will survive the second, but both will soon crumble into fragmentary sects, which will mutually exterminate each other's faith. See, thy followers are powerless, and I might kill thee now, but thou art in the hands of Destiny, and that knows its own hour."

Before a hand could be lifted the speaker had disappeared. This incident of itself sufficiently proves that the Sikhs might have assassinated Abdul Ghafur at any time had they chosen so to do. And it may be that The Mayfair Gazette, which in June, 1877, prophetically observed that the rival pontiffs of Rome and Swat might die simultaneously, had heard from some "old Indian" this story, which the writer also heard from an informant at Lahore.




From A Modern Panarion


Articles by HPB

THE circumstances attending the sudden death of M. Delessert, inspector of the Police de Sûreté, seem to have made such an impression upon the Parisian authorities that they were recorded in unusual detail. Omitting all particulars except what are necessary to explain matters, we produce here the undoubtedly strange history.

In the fall of 1861 there came to Paris a man who called himself Vic de Lassa, and was so inscribed upon his passports. He came from Vienna, and said he was a Hungarian, who owned estates on the borders of the Banat, not far from Zenta. He was a small man, aged thirty-five, with pale and mysterious face, long blonde hair, a vague, wandering blue eye, and a mouth of singular firmness. He dressed carelessly and unaffectedly, and spoke and talked without much empressement. His companion, presumably his wife, on the other hand, ten years younger than himself, was a strikingly beautiful woman, of that dark, rich, velvety, luscious, pure Hungarian type which is so nigh akin to the gypsy blood. At the theatres, on the Bois, at the cafés, on the boulevards, and everywhere that idle Paris disports itself, Madame Aimée de Lassa attracted great attention and made a sensation.

They lodged in luxurious apartments on the Rue Richelieu, frequented the best places, received good company, entertained handsomely, and acted in every way as if possessed of considerable wealth. Lassa had always a good balance chez Schneider, Ruter et Cie, the Austrian bankers in Rue Rivoli, and wore diamonds of conspicuous lustre.

How did it happen then, that the Prefect of Police saw fit to suspect Monsieur and Madame de Lassa, and detailed Paul Delessert, one of the most rusé inspectors of the force, to "pipe" him? The fact is, the insignificant man with the splendid wife was a very mysterious personage, and it is the habit of the police to imagine that mystery always hides either the conspirator, the adventurer, or the charlatan. The conclusion to which the Prefect had come in regard to M. de Lassa was that he was an adventurer and charlatan too. Certainly a successful one, then, for he was singularly unobtrusive and had in no way trumpeted the wonders which it was his mission to perform, yet in a few weeks after he had established himself in Paris the salon of M. de Lassa was the rage, and the number of persons who paid the fee of 100 francs for a single peep into his magic crystal, and a single message by his spiritual telegraph, was really astonishing. The secret of this was that M. de Lassa was a conjurer and deceiver, whose pretensions were omniscient and whose predictions always came true.

Delessert did not find it very difficult to get an introduction and admission to De Lassa's salon. The receptions occurred every other day—two hours in the forenoon, three hours in the evening. It was evening when Inspector Delessert called in his assumed character of M. Flabry, virtuoso in jewels and a convert to Spiritualism. He found the handsome parlours brilliantly lighted, and a charming assemblage gathered of well-pleased guests, who did not at all seem to have come to learn their fortunes or fates, while contributing to the income of their host, but rather to be there out of complaisance to his virtues and gifts.

Mme. de Lassa performed upon the piano or conversed from group to group in a way that seemed to be delightful, while M. de Lassa walked about or sat in his insignificant, unconcerned way, saying a word now and then, but seeming to shun everything that was conspicuous. Servants handed about refreshments, ices, cordials, wines, etc., and Delessert could have fancied himself to have dropped in upon a quite modest evening entertainment, altogether en règle, but for one or two noticeable circumstances which his observant eyes quickly took in.

Except when their host or hostess was within hearing the guests conversed together in low tones, rather mysteriously, and with not quite so much laughter as is usual on such occasions. At intervals a very tall and dignified footman would come to a guest, and, with a profound bow, present him a card on a silver salver. The guest would then go out, preceded by the solemn servant, but when he or she returned to the salon—some did not return at all—they invariably wore a dazed or puzzled look, were confused, astonished, frightened, or amused. All this was so unmistakably genuine, and De Lassa and his wife seemed so unconcerned amidst it all, not to say distinct from it all, that Delessert could not avoid being forcibly struck and considerably puzzled.

Two or three little incidents, which came under Delessert's own immediate observation, will suffice to make plain the character of the impressions made upon those present. A couple of gentlemen, both young, both of good social condition, and evidently very intimate friends, were conversing together and tutoying one another at a great rate, when the dignified footman summoned Alphonse. He laughed gaily, "Tarry a moment, cher Auguste," said he, "and thou shalt know all the particulars of this wonderful fortune!" "Eh bien!" A minute had scarcely elapsed when Alphonse returned to the salon. His face was white and bore an appearance of concentrated rage that was frightful to witness. He came straight to Auguste, his eyes flashing, and bending his face toward his friend, who changed colour and recoiled, he hissed out: "Monsieur Lefebure, vous êtes un lâche!" "Very well, Monsieur Meunier," responded Auguste, in the same low tone, "tomorrow morning at six o'clock!" "It is settled, false friend, execrable traitor! A la mort!" rejoined Alphonse, walking off. "Cela va sans dire!" muttered Auguste, going towards the hat-room.

A diplomatist of distinction, representative at Paris of a neighbouring state, an elderly gentleman of superb aplomb and most commanding appearance, was summoned to the oracle by the bowing footman. After being absent about five minutes he returned, and immediately made his way through the press to M. de Lassa, who was standing not far from the fireplace, with his hands in his pockets and a look of utmost indifference upon his face. Delessert standing near, watched the interview with eager interest.

"I am exceedingly sorry," said General Von—— , "to have to absent myself so soon from your interesting salon, M. de Lassa, but the result of my séance convinces me that my dispatches have been tampered with." "I am sorry," responded M. de Lassa, with an air of languid but courteous interest; "I hope you may be able to discover which of your servants has been unfaithful." "I am going to do that now," said the General, adding, in significant tones, "I shall see that both he and his accomplices do not escape severe punishment." "That is the only course to pursue, Monsieur le Comte." The ambassador stared, bowed, and took his leave with a bewilderment in his face that was beyond the power of his tact to control.

In the course of the evening M. de Lassa went carelessly to the piano, and, after some indifferent vague precluding, played a remarkably effective piece of music, in which the turbulent life and buoyancy of bacchanalian strains melted gently, almost imperceptibly away, into a sobbing wail of regret, and languor, and weariness, and despair. It was beautifully rendered, and made a great impression upon the guests, one of whom, a lady, cried, "How lovely, how sad! Did you compose that yourself, M. de Lassa?" He looked towards her absently for an instant, then replied: "I? Oh, no! That is merely a reminiscence, madame." "Do you know who did compose it, M. de Lassa?" enquired a virtuoso present. "I believe it was originally written by Ptolemy Auletes, the father of Cleopatra," said M. de Lassa, in his indifferent musing way; "but not in its present form. It has been twice re-written to my knowledge; still, the air is substantially the same." "From whom did you get it, M. de Lassa, if I may ask?" persisted the gentleman. "Certainly, certainly! The last time I heard it played was by Sebastian Bach; but that was Palestrina's—the present—version. I think I prefer that of Guido of Arezzo—it is ruder, but has more force. I got the air from Guido himself." "You—from—Guido!" cried the astonished gentleman. "Yes, monsieur," answered De Lassa, rising from the piano with his usual indifferent air. "Mon Dieu!" cried the virtuoso, putting his hand to his head after the manner of Mr. Twemlow, "Mon Dieu! that was in Anno Domini 1022." "A little later than that—July, 1031, if I remember rightly," courteously corrected M. de Lassa.

At this moment the tall footman bowed before M. Delessert, and presented the salver containing the card. Delessert took it and read: "On vous accorde trente-cinq secondes M. Flabry, tout au plus!" Delessert followed; the footman opened the door of another room and bowed again, signifying that Delessert was to enter. "Ask no questions," he said briefly; "Sidi is mute." Delessert entered the room and the door closed behind him. It was a small room, with a strong smell of frankincense pervading it; the walls were covered completely with red hangings that concealed the windows, and the floor was felted with a thick carpet. Opposite the door, at the upper end of the room near the ceiling was the face of a large clock, under it, each lighted by tall wax candles, were two small tables, containing, the one an apparatus very like the common registering telegraph instrument, the other a crystal globe about twenty inches in diameter, set upon an exquisitely wrought tripod of gold and bronze intermingled. By the side of the door stood a man jet black in colour, wearing a white turban and burnous, and having a sort of wand of silver in one hand. With the other he took Delessert by the right arm above the elbow, and led him quickly up the room. He pointed to the clock, and it struck an alarum; he pointed to the crystal. Delessert bent over, looked into it, and saw—a facsimile of his own sleeping-room, everything photographed exactly. Sidi did not give him time to exclaim, but still holding him by the arm, took him to the other table. The telegraph-like instrument began to click-click. Sidi opened the drawer, drew out a slip of paper, crammed it into Delessert's hand, and pointed to the clock, which struck again. The thirty-five seconds were expired. Sidi, still retaining hold of Delessert's arm, pointed to the door and led him towards it. The door opened, Sidi pushed him out, the door closed, the tall footman stood there bowing—the interview with the oracle is over. Delessert glanced at the piece of paper in his hand. It was a printed scrap, capital letters, and read simply: "To M. Paul Delessert: The policeman is always welcome, the spy is always in danger!"

Delessert was dumbfounded a moment to find his disguise detected, but the words of the tall footman, "This way if you please, M. Flabry," brought him to his senses. Setting his lips, he returned to the salon, and without delay sought M. de Lassa. "Do you know the contents of this?" asked he, showing the message. "I know everything, M. Delessert," answered De Lassa, in his careless way. "Then perhaps you are aware that I mean to expose a charlatan, and unmask a hypocrite, or perish in the attempt?" said Delessert. "Cela m'est égal, monsieur." replied De Lassa. "You accept my challenge then?" "Oh! it is a defiance, then?" replied De Lassa, letting his eye rest a moment upon Delessert, "mais oui, je l'accepte!" And thereupon Delessert departed.

Delessert now set to work, aided by all the forces the Prefect of Police could bring to bear, to detect and expose this consummate sorcerer, whom the ruder processes of our ancestors would easily have disposed of—by combustion. Persistent enquiry satisfied Delessert that the man was neither a Hungarian nor was named De Lassa; that no matter how far back his power of "reminiscence" might extend, in his present and immediate form he had been born in this unregenerate world in the toy-making city of Nuremburg; that he was noted in boyhood for his great turn for ingenious manufactures, but was very wild, and a mauvais sujet. In his sixteenth year he escaped to Geneva and apprenticed himself to a maker of watches and instruments. Here he had been seen by the celebrated Robert Houdin, the prestidigitateur. Houdin recognizing the lad's talents, and being himself a maker of ingenious automata, had taken him off to Paris and employed him in his own workshops, as well as for an assistant in the public performances of his amusing and curious diablerie. After staying with Houdin some years, Pflock Haslich (which was De Lassa's right name) had gone East in the suite of a Turkish Pasha, and after many years' roving, in lands where he could not be traced under a cloud of pseudonyms, had finally turned up in Venice, and come thence to Paris.

Delessert next turned his attention to Mme. de Lassa. It was more difficult to get a clue by means of which to know her past life; but it was necessary in order to understand enough about Haslich. At last, through an accident, it became probable that Mme. Aimée was identical with a certain Mme. Schlaff, who had been rather conspicuous among the demi-monde of Buda. Delessert posted off to that ancient city, and thence went into the wilds of Transylvania to Mengyco. On his return, as soon as he reached the telegraph and civilization, he telegraphed the Prefect from Kardszag: "Don't lose sight of my man, nor let him leave Paris. I will run him in for you two days after I get back."

It happened that on the day of Delessert's return to Paris the Prefect was absent, being with the Emperor at Cherbourg. He came back on the fourth day, just twenty-four hours after the announcement of Delessert's death. That happened, as near as could be gathered, in this wise: The night after Delessert's return he was present at De Lassa's salon with a ticket of admittance to a séance. He was very completely disguised as a decrepit old man, and fancied that it was impossible for any one to detect him. Nevertheless, when he was taken into the room, and looked into the crystal, he was utterly horror-stricken to see there a picture of himself, lying face down and senseless upon the side-walk of a street; and the message he received read thus: "What you have seen will be, Delessert, in three days. Prepare!" The detective, unspeakably shocked, retired from the house at once and sought his own lodgings.

In the morning he came to the office in a state of extreme dejection. He was completely unnerved. In relating to a brother inspector what had occurred, he said: "That man can do what he promises, I am doomed!"

He said that he thought he could make a complete case out against Haslich alias De Lassa, but could not do so without seeing the Prefect and getting instructions. He would tell nothing in regard to his discoveries in Buda and in Transylvania—said he was not at liberty to do so—and repeatedly exclaimed: "Oh! if M. le Préfet were only here!" He was told to go to the Prefect at Cherbourg, but refused upon the ground that his presence was needed in Paris. He time and again averred his conviction that he was a doomed man, and showed himself both vacillating and irresolute in his conduct, and extremely nervous. He was told that he was perfectly safe, since De Lassa and all his household were under constant surveillance; to which he replied, "You do not know the man." An inspector was detailed to accompany Delessert, never to lose sight of him night and day, and guard him carefully; and proper precautions were taken in regard to his food and drink, while the guards watching De Lassa were doubled.

On the morning of the third day, Delessert, who had been staying chiefly indoors, avowed his determination to go at once and telegraph to M. le Préfet to return immediately. With this intention he and his brother officer started out. Just as they got to the corner of the Rue de Lanery and the Boulevard, Delessert stopped suddenly and put his hand to his forehead.

"My God!" he cried, "the crystal! the picture!" and fell prone upon his face, insensible. He was taken at once to a hospital, but only lingered a few hours, never regaining his consciousness. Under express instruction from the authorities, a most careful, minute, and thorough autopsy was made of Delessert's body by several distinguished surgeons, whose unanimous opinion was, that the cause of his death was apoplexy, due to fatigue and nervous excitement.

As soon as Delessert was sent to the hospital, his brother inspector hurried to the Central Office, and De Lassa, together with his wife and everyone connected with the establishment, were at once arrested. De Lassa smiled contemptuously as they took him away. "I knew you were coming; I prepared for it; you will be glad to release me again."

It was quite true that De Lassa had prepared for them. When the house was searched it was found that every paper had been burned, the crystal globe was destroyed, and in the room of the séances was a great heap of delicate machinery broken into indistinguishable bits. "That cost me 200,000 francs," said De Lassa, pointing to the pile, "but it has been a good investment." The walls and floors were ripped out in several places, and the damage to the property was considerable. In prison neither De Lassa nor his associates made any revelations. The notion that they had something to do with Delessert's death was quickly dispelled, in a legal point of view, and all the party but De Lassa were released. He was still detained in prison, upon one pretext or another, when one morning he was found hanging by a silk sash to the cornice of the room where he was confined—dead. The night before, it was afterwards discovered, Madame de Lassa had eloped with a tall footman, taking the Nubian Sidi with them. De Lassa's secrets died with him.

"It is an interesting story, that article of yours in to-day's Scientist. But is it a record of facts, or a tissue of the imagination? If true, why not state the source of it, in other words, specify your authority for it."

The above is not signed, but we would take the opportunity to say that the story, "An Unsolved Mystery," was published because we considered the main points of the narrative—the prophecies, and the singular death of the officer—to be psychic phenomena, that have been, and can be, again produced. Why quote "authorities"? The Scriptures tell us of the death of Ananias, under the stern rebuke from Peter; here we have a phenomenon of a similar nature. Ananias is supposed to have suffered instant death from fear. Few can realize this power governed by spiritual laws, but those who have trod the boundary line and know some few of the things that can be done, will see no great mystery in this, nor in the story published last week. We are not speaking in mystical tones. Ask the powerful mesmerist if there is danger that the subject may pass out of his control?—if he could will the spirit out, never to return? It is capable of demonstration that the mesmerist can act on a subject at a distance of many miles; and it is no less certain that the majority of mesmerists know little or nothing of the laws that govern their powers.

It may be a pleasant dream to attempt to conceive of the beauties of the spirit-world; but the time can be spent more profitably in a study of the spirit itself, and it is not necessary that the subject for study should be in the spirit-world.

H. P. Blavatsky


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.


Articles by HPB

EVERY educated Englishman has heard the name of General Yermoloff, one of the great military heroes of this age; and if at all familiar with the history of the Caucasian wars, he must be acquainted with the exploits of one of the chief conquerors of the land of those impregnable fastnesses where Shamil and his predecessors have defied for years the skill and strategy of the Russian armies.

Be it as it may, the strange event herein narrated by the Caucasian hero himself, may interest students of psychology. That which follows is a verbatim translation from V. Potto's Russian work "The War in Caucasus." In volume II, chapter The period of Yermoloff (pp. 829-30-3I and 832) one reads these lines:

Silently and imperceptibly glided away at Moscow the last days allotted to the hero. On April the 19th, 1861, he died in his 85th year, seated in his favorite arm-chair, with one hand on the table, the other on his knee; but a few minutes before, in accordance with an old habit of his, he was tapping the floor with his foot.

It is impossible to better express the feelings of Russia at the news of this death than by quoting the obituary notice from the (Russian) Daily "Caucasus," which did not say a word more than was deserved.

On April the 12th, at 11¼ a.m., at Moscow, the Artillery General, famous throughout Russia--Alexéy Petrovitch Yermoloff, breathed his last. Every Russian knows the name; it is allied with the most brilliant records of our national glory: Valutino, Borodino, Kulm, Paris, and the Caucasus, will be ever transmitting the name of the hero,--the pride and ornament of the Russian army and nation. We will not enumerate the services of Yermoloff. His name and titles are: a true son of Russia, in the full significance of the term.

It is a curious fact that his death did not escape its own legend, one of a strange and mystical character. This is what a friend who knew Yermoloff well, writes of him:

Once, when leaving Moscow, I called on Yermoloff to say good bye, and found myself unable to conceal my emotion at parting.

"Fear not," he said to me, "we will yet meet; I shall not die before your return."

This was eighteen months before his death.

"In life and death God alone is the Master!" I observed.

"And I tell you most positively that my death will not occur in a year, but a few months later"--he answered, "Come with me"--and with these words he led me into his study; where, getting out of a locked chest a written sheet of paper, he placed it before me, and asked--"whose handwriting is this?" "Yours," I said. "Read it then." I complied.

It was a kind of memorandum, a record of dates, since the year when Yermoloff was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, showing, as in a programme, every significant event that was to happen in his life, so full of such events. He followed me in my reading, and when I was at the last paragraph, he covered the last line with his hand. "This you need not read," he said. "On this line, the year, the month, and the day, of my death are given. All that you have read was written by me beforehand, and has come to pass to the smallest details, and this is how I came to write it.

"When I was yet a young Lieutenant-Colonel I was sent on some business to a small district town. My lodging consisted of two rooms--one for the servants, the other for my personal use. There was no access into the latter but through the former. Once, late at night, as I sat writing at my desk, I fell into a reverie, when suddenly on lifting my eyes I saw standing before me across the desk a stranger, a man, judging by his dress, belonging to the lower classes of society. Before I had time to ask him who he was or what he wanted, the stranger said, 'Take your pen and write.' Feeling myself under the influence of an irresistible power, I obeyed in silence. Then he dictated to me all that was going to happen to me during my whole life, concluding with the date and hour of my death. With the last word he vanished from the spot. A few minutes elapsed before I regained my full consciousness, when, jumping from my seat, I rushed into the adjoining room, which the stranger could not by any means avoid passing through. Opening the door, I saw my clerk writing by the light of a candle, and my orderly lying asleep on the floor across the entrance door, which door was securely locked and bolted. To my question 'who was it who has just been here?'--the astonished clerk answered, 'No one.' To this day I have never told this to any one. I knew beforehand that while some would suspect me of having invented the whole thing, others would see in me a man subject to hallucinations. But for myself, personally, the whole thing is a most undeniable fact, an objective and palpable fact, the proof of which is in this very written document."

The last date found on the latter proved, after the death of the General, to be the correct one. He died on the very day and hour of the year recorded in his own handwriting.

Yermoloff is buried at Orel. An inextinguishable lamp, made of a fragment of a bomb-shell, burns before his tomb. On the cast-iron of the shell these words are wrought by an unskilled hand, "The Caucasian soldiers who served on the Goonib."1 [Footnote: 1. "Goonib" is the name of the last stronghold of the Circassians, on which the famous Murid Shamil the Priest-Sovereign of the Mountaineers was conquered and captured by the Russians, after years of a desperate struggle. Goonib is a gigantic rock, deemed for a long time impregnable but finally stormed and ascended by the Russian soldiers at an enormous sacrifice of life. Its capture put virtually an end to the war in the Caucasus. a struggle which had lasted for over sixty years, and assured its conquest. [Ed.]  ] The ever burning lamp is established through the zeal and grateful love of the lower ranks of the Caucasian Army, who collected among themselves from their poor pittance (copeck by copeck, verily!) the needed sum. And this simple monument is more valued and admired than would be the richest mausoleum. There is no other monument to Yermoloff in Russia. But the proud and lofty rocks of the Caucasus are the imperishable pedestal on which every true Russian will always behold the majestic image of General Yermoloff, surrounded by the aureole of an everlasting and immortal glory.

And now for a few words about the nature of the apparition.

No doubt every word of General Yermoloff's concise and clear narrative is true to a dot. He was pre-eminently a matter-of-fact, sincere, and clear-headed man, with not the slightest taint of mysticism about him, a true soldier, honorable, and straightforward. Moreover, this episode of his life was testified to by his elder son, known to the present writer and her family personally, for many years during our residence at Tiflis. All this is a good warrant for the genuineness of the phenomenon, testified to furthermore by the written document left by the General, bearing the correct and precise date of his death. And now what about the mysterious visitor? Spiritualists will, of course, see in it a disembodied Entity, a "materialized Spirit." It will be claimed that a human Spirit alone could prophecy a whole series of events and see so clearly in Futurity. So we say, too. But having agreed on that point, we diverge in all the rest; i.e., while Spiritualists would say that the apparition was that of a Spirit distinct from and independent of the Higher Ego of the General, we maintain precisely the reverse, and say it was that Ego. Let us argue dispassionately.

Where is the raison d'être, the rationale of such apparition of prophecy; and why should you or I, for instance, once dead, appear to a perfect stranger for the pleasure of informing him of that which was to happen to him? Had the General recognized in the visitor some dear relative, his own father, mother, brother, or bosom friend, and received from him some beneficent warning, slight proof as it would have been, there would still be something in it to hang such theory upon. But it was nothing of the kind: simply "a stranger, a man, judging by his dress, belonging to the lower classes of society." If so, why should the soul of a poor disembodied tradesman, or a laborer, trouble itself to appear to a mere stranger? And if the "Spirit" only assumed such appearance, then why this disguise and masquerading, such post-mortem mystification, at all? If such visits are made of a "Spirit's" free will; if such revelations can occur at the sweet pleasure of a disembodied Entity, and independently of any established law of intercourse between the two worlds--what can be the reason alleged for that particular "Spirit" playing at soothsaying Cassandra with the General? None whatever. To insist upon it, is simply to add one more absurd and repulsive feature to the theory of "Spirit-visitation," and to throw an additional element of ridicule on the sacredness of death. The materializing of an immaterial Spirit--a divine Breath--by the Spiritualists, is on a par with the anthropomorphizing of the Absolute, by the Theologians. It is these two claims which have dug an almost impassable abyss between the Theosophist-Occultists and the Spiritualists on the one hand, and the Theosophists and the Church Christians on the other.

And now this is how a Theosophist-Occultist would explain the vision, in accordance with esoteric philosophy. He would premise by reminding the reader that the Higher Consciousness in us, with its sui generis laws and conditions of manifestation, is still almost entirely terra incognita for all (Spiritualists included) and the men of Science pre-eminently. Then he would remind the reader of one of the fundamental teachings of Occultism. He would say that besides the attribute of divine omniscience in its own nature and sphere of action, there exists in Eternity for the individual immortal Ego neither Past nor Future, but only one everlasting PRESENT. Now, once this doctrine is admitted, or amply postulated, it becomes only natural that the whole life, from birth to death, of the Personality which that Ego informs, should be as plainly visible to the Higher Ego as it is invisible to, and concealed from, the limited vision of its temporary and mortal Form. Hence, this is what must have happened according to the Occult Philosophy.

The friend is told by General Yermoloff that while writing late in the night he had suddenly fallen into a reverie, when he suddenly perceived upon lifting the eyes a stranger standing before him. Now that reverie was most likely a sudden doze, brought on by fatigue and overwork, during which a mechanical action of purely somnambulic character took place. The Personality becoming suddenly alive to the Presence of its Higher SELF, the human sleeping automaton fell under the sway of the Individuality, and forthwith the hand that had been occupied with writing for several hours before resumed mechanically its task. Upon awakening the Personality thought that the document before him had been written at the dictation of a visitor whose voice he had heard, whereas, in truth, he had been simply recording the innermost thoughts--or shall we say knowledge--of his own divine "Ego," a prophetic, because all-knowing Spirit. The "voice" of the latter was simply the translation by the physical memory, at the instant of awakening, of the mental knowledge concerning the life of the mortal man reflected on the lower by the Higher consciousness. All the other details recorded by the memory are as amenable to a natural explanation.

Thus, the stranger clothed in the raiments of a poor little tradesman or laborer, who was speaking to him outside of himself, belongs, as well as the "voice," to that class of well-known phenomena familiar to us as the association of ideas and reminiscences in our dreams. The pictures and scenes we see in sleep, the events we live through for hours, days, sometimes for years in our dreams, all this takes less time, in reality, than is occupied by a flash of lightning during the instant of awakening and the return to full consciousness. Of such instances of the power and rapidity of fancy physiology gives numerous examples. We rebel against the materialistic deductions of modern science, but no one can controvert its facts, patiently and carefully recorded throughout long years of experiments and observations by its specialists, and these support our argument. General Yermoloff had passed several days previously holding an inquest in a small town, in which official business he had probably examined dozens of men of the poorer classes; and this explains his fancy--vivid as reality itself--suggesting to his imagination the vision of a small tradesman.

Let us turn to the experiences and explanations of a long series of philosophers and Initiates, thoroughly acquainted with the mysteries of the Inner Self, before we father upon "departed spirits" actions, motives for which could never be explained upon any reasonable grounds.

H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, June, 1890


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. III.


Articles by HPB

THE German press has recently attempted in numerous editorials to solve what seems a mystery to the ordinary and sceptical public. They feel that they are evidently betrayed by one of their own camp--a materialist of exact science. Treating at length of the new theories of Dr. Rudolph Falb--the editor of the Leipzig "popular astronomical journal," the Sirius--they are struck with the faultless accuracy of his scientific prognostications, or rather to be plain, his meteorological and cosmological predictions. The fact is, that the latter have been shown by the sequence of events, to be less scientific conjectures than infallible prophecies Basing himself upon some peculiar combinations and upon a method of his own, which, as he says, he has worked out after long years of researches and labour, Dr. Falb is now enabled to foretell months and even years in advance every earthquake, remarkable storm, or inundation. Thus, for example, he foretold last year's earthquake at Zagrel. At the beginning of 1868 he prophesied that an earthquake would occur on August 13, in Peru, and it did take place on that very day. In May 1869 he published a scientific work entitled The Elementary Theory of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions, in which, among other prophecies, he foretold violent earthquakes at Marseilles, at Utach, along the shores of the Austrian possessions in the Adriatic Sea, in Columbia and the Crimea, which five months later--in October--actually took place. In 1873, he predicted the earthquake in Northern Italy, at Belluno, which event occurred in the very presence of Dr. Falb, who had gone there to witness it himself, so sure was he of its taking place. In I 874, he notified to the world the then unforeseen and quite unexpected eruptions of Etna; and notwithstanding the chaff of his colleagues in science, who told him there was no reason to expect such a geological disturbance, he went to Sicily and was able to take his desired notes on the spot, when it did happen. He also prognosticated the violent storms and winds between the 23rd and the 26th of February 1877, in Italy, and that prediction was also corroborated by fact. Soon after that, Dr. Falb went to Chile, to observe the volcanic eruptions in the Andes which he had expected and predicted two years before and--he did observe them. Immediately upon his return, in 1875, appeared his most remarkable work known as Thoughts on, and Investigations of, the Causes of Volcanic Eruptions--and which was immediately translated into Spanish and published at Valparaiso in 1877. After the predicted event at Zagrel had taken place, Dr. Falb was immediately invited to lecture in that city, where he delivered several remarkable discourses in which he once more warned the inhabitants of other forthcoming smaller earthquakes which, as is well known, did take place. The fact is that as was recently remarked by the Novoye Vremya, he has really "worked out something, knows something additional to what other people know, and is better acquainted with these mysterious phenomena of our globe than any other specialist the world over."

What is then his wonderful theory and new combinations? To give an adequate idea of them would require a volume of comments and explanations. All we can add is, that Falb has said all he could say upon the subject in a huge work of his, called Die Umwälrungen, im Welt All, in three volumes. In Vol. I, he treats of the revolutions in the stellar world; in Vol. II, of the revolutions in the regions of clouds, or of the meteorological phenomena; and in Vol. III of the revolutions in the bosom of the earth, or earthquakes. According to Dr. Falb's theory our Universum is neither limitless nor eternal, but is limited to a certain time and circumscribed within a certain space. He views the mechanical construction of our planetary system and its phenomena in quite a different light than the rest of the men of science. "He is very original, and very interesting (eccentric) in some respects, though we cannot trust him in everything"--seems the unanimous opinion of the press. Evidently, the doctor is too much of a man of science to be treated as a "visionary" or a "hallucinated enthusiast"; and so he is cautiously chaffed. Another less learned mortal would surely be, were he to expound the undeniably occult and cabalistic notions upon the Cosmos that he does. Therefore, while passing over his theories in silence as if to avoid being compromised in the propagation of his "heretical" views, the papers generally add.--"We send the reader who may be curious to fathom the doctrines of Dr. Rudolph Falb to the latest work of this remarkable man and prophet." Some add to the information given the fact that Dr. Falb's theory carries Eback the "Universal" deluge to 4000 years B.C., and presages another one for about the year 6,500 of the Christian era.

It appears that the theories and teaching of Dr. Falb are no new thing in this department of science, as two hundred years ago, the theory was propounded by a Peruvian named Jorie Baliri, and about a century ago by an Italian called Toaldo. We have, therefore, a certain right to infer that Dr. Falb's views are cabalistic, or rather those of the mediaeval Christian mystics and fire-philosophers, both Baliri and Toaldo having been practitioners of the "secret sciences." At the same time--though we have not yet been so fortunate as to have read his work--that calculation of his, in reference to the Noachian deluge and the period of 6500 A.D allotted for its recurrence, shows to us as plain as figures can speak that the learned doctor accepts for our globe the "Heliacal," Great year, or cycle of six sars, at the close and turning point of which our planet, is always subjected to a thorough physical revolution. This teaching has been propounded from time immemorial and comes to us from Chaldea through Berosus, an astrologer at the temple of Belus at Babylon. Chaldea, as is well known, was the one universal centre of magic, from which radiated the rays of occult learning into every other country where the mysteries were enacted and taught. According to this teaching,--believed in by Aristotle if we may credit Censorinus--the "great year" consists of 21,000 odd, years (the latter varying) or six Chaldean sars consisting of 3,500 years each. These two decimillenniums are naturally halved, the first period of 10,500 years bringing us to the top of the cycle and a minor cataclysm; the latter decimillennium to a terrible and universal geological convulsion. During these 21,000 years the polar and equatorial climates gradually exchange places, "the former moving slowly towards the line and the tropical zone: . . . replacing the forbidding wastes of the icy poles. This change of climate is necessarily attended by cataclysms, earthquakes and other cosmical throes. As the beds of the ocean are displaced, at the end of every decimillennium and about one neros (600 years) a semi-universal deluge like the legendary Bible flood is brought about" (see Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 30-31).

It now remains to be seen how far Dr. Falb's theory and the old antediluvian teaching mentioned by the author of Isis Unveiled agree. At all events, as the latter work antedated by three years, his Die Umwälrungen im Welt All which was published in 1881 (but two months ago), the theory was not borrowed from the Leipzig astronomer's work. We may add that the constant verification of such geological and meteorological predictions besides its scientific value is of the utmost philosophical importance to the student of theosophy. For it shows: (a) that there are few secrets in nature absolutely inaccessible to man's endeavours to snatch them from her bosom; and (b) that Nature's workshop is one vast clock-work guided by immutable laws in which there is no room for the caprices of special providence. Yet he, who has fathomed the ultimate secrets of the Proteus-nature--which changes but is ever the same--can, without disturbing the LAW, avail himself of the yet unknown correlations of natural Force to produce effects which would seem miraculous and impossible, but to those who are unacquainted with their causes. "The law which moulds the tear also rounds the planet." There exists a wealth of chemic force--in heat, light, electricity and magnetism--the possibilities of whose mechanical motions are far from being all understood. Why then should the theosophist who believes in natural (though occult) law be regarded as either a charlatan or a credulous fool in his endeavours to fathom its secrets? Is it only because following the traditions of ancient men of science the methods he has chosen differ from those of modern learning?

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, May, 1881


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