A Note On Eliphas Lévi

[To the Editor of “The Theosophist.”] Madam, – Since you have published a posthumous letter of my master and beloved friend, the late Éliphas Lévi, I think it would be agreeable to you to publish, if judged suitable, a few extracts of the many manuscripts in my possession, written expressly for, and given to, me by my ever regretted master. To begin with, I send you “Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan” from his pen. I cannot close this letter without expressing the deep indignation aroused in me by the base diatribes published in the London Spiritualist against your Society and its members. Every honest heart is irritated at such unfair treatment, especially when proceeding from a man of honour as Mr. Harrison (editor of The Spiritualist) who admits in his journal anonymous contributions that are tantamount to libels. With the utmost respect, I remain, Madam, Yours devotedly, – […] Read More

1876: (New) York Against Lankester

A New War Of The Roses Despite the constant recurrence of new discoveries by modern men of science, an exaggerated respect for authority and an established routine among the educated class retard the progress of true knowledge. Facts which, if observed, tested, classified and appreciated, would be of inestimable importance to science, are summarily cast into the despised limbo of supernaturalism. To these conservatives the experience of the past serves neither as an example nor a warning. The overturning of a thousand cherished theories finds our modern philosopher as unprepared for each new scientific revelation as though his predecessor had been infallible from time immemorial. The protoplasmist should, at least, in modesty remember that his past is one vast cemetery of dead theories; a desolate potter’s field wherein exploded hypotheses lie, in ignoble oblivion, like so many executed malefactors, whose names cannot be pronounced by the next of kin […] Read More

1879: “Not A Christian”!

Before entering upon the main question that compels me to ask you kindly to accord me space in your esteemed paper, will you inform me as to the nature of that newly-born infant prodigy which calls itself The Bombay Review? Is it a bigoted, sectarian organ of the Christians, or an impartial journal, fair to all, and unprejudiced as every respectable paper styling itself “Review” ought to be, especially in a place like Bombay, where such a diversity of religious opinions is to be found? The two paragraphs in the number of February 22nd, which so honour the Theosophical Society by a double notice of its American members, would force me to incline toward the former opinion. Both the editorial which attacks my esteemed friend, Miss Bates, and the apocalyptic vision of the modern Ezekiel, alias “Anthropologist,” who shoots his rather blunt arrows at Col. Olcott, require an answer, […] Read More

1883: A Mysterious Race

While travelling from the landing place – on the Madras “Buckingham Canal” – to Nellore, we were made to experience the novel sensation of a transit of fifteen miles in comfortable modern carriages each briskly dragged by a dozen of strong, merry men, whom we took for ordinary Hindus of some of the lower or Pariah caste. The contrast offered us by the sight of these noisy, apparently well-contented men to our palankin-bearers, who had just carried us for fifty-five miles across the sandy, hot plains that stretch between Padagangam on the same canal and Guntoor – as affording relief – was great. These palankin-bearers, we were told, were of the washerman’s caste, and had hard times working night and day, never having regular . hours for sleep, earning but a few pice a day, and when the pice had the good chance of being transformed into annas, existing […] Read More

“Is It Idle To Argue Further?”

Says Light, in its “Notes by the Way,” edited by “M.A. Oxon.”:     The current number of The Theosophist contains an important manifesto, which establishes and defines the ground finally taken up by that body. Shortly put, it is one of complete antagonism to Spiritualism. The Spiritualist believes that it is possible for spirits of the departed to communicate with this earth. Whatever divergence of opinion there may be among us in respect of other matters, we are agreed on this, the cardinal article of our faith. Our daily experience affirms its truth. The con sentient testimony of the most experienced among us agrees that, whether there be, or whether there be not, other agencies at work, the spirits we know of are human spirits who have once lived on this earth. To this the Theosophist returns the simple answer that we are mistaken. No spirits communicate with earth for […] Read More

A Signal of Danger

    Initiates are sure to come into the company of the gods. – SOCRATES in the Phaedo In the first number of the Revue Theosophique in the initial portion of the fine lecture of our brother and colleague, the erudite Correspondent-Secretary of the T.S. Hermes, we read in the footnote (fn. 2, p. 23 ):     We designate under the term Initiate every seeker in the possession of the elementary principles of the Occult Science. One must beware lest he confuse this term with that of Adept, which indicates the highest degree of elevation to which the initiate may attain. We have in Europe many Initiates. I do not think that there exist any adepts as in the Orient. Foreign to the genius of the French language, not even having at hand a dictionary of etymology, it is impossible for me to say if this double definition is authorized in French […] Read More

A Psychic Warning

By A. CONSTANTINE, ESQ. Reply by H. P. Blavatsky Can any of the numerous readers of the Theosophist enlighten me as to the influence that acted on me on the occasion alluded to below? I certainly emphatically deny that there was a spirit manifestation, but there was beyond doubt some singular agency at work, which I have not up to this time been able to comprehend or explain. After having been in a certain school with another boy of about the same age as myself we parted, and only met again after the lapse of about thirty-five years. It was at Agra, where he was a Deputy Collector and I, head-clerk in the same office. Our friendship was renewed, and we soon became very much attached to each other; in fact, we had no secrets between us. Thus we continued to be for several years, and almost every day […] Read More

A Posthumous Publication

We are glad to lay before our readers the first of a series of unpublished writings of the late Éliphas Lévi (Abbé Louis Constant) one of the great masters of occult sciences of the present century in the West. An ex-Catholic priest, he was unfrocked by the ecclesiastical authorities at Rome, who tolerate no belief in God, Devil, or Science outside the narrow circle of their circumscribed dogma, and who anathematize every creed-crushed soul that succeeds in breaking its mental bondage. “Just in the ratio that knowledge increases, faith diminishes; consequently, those that know the most, always believe the least” – said Carlyle. Éliphas Lévi knew much; far more than the privileged few even among the greatest mystics of modern Europe; hence, he was traduced by the ignorant many. He had written these ominous words . . . “The discovery of the great secrets of true religion and of […] Read More

Old Hindu Ships

Some twenty-five years ago two ocean steamships came into collision off the coast of Newfoundland; one sank with all on board, the other was saved in consequence of having the hull divided by iron bulkheads into water-tight compartments. Though the bottom was crushed in the water, it would only fill the compartment where the break was, and so the steamship came safely to port. This then novel improvement in the art of ship-building was brought into such conspicuous notice by that occurrence, and its merits were so palpable, that from that time steamships have been almost universally built with water-tight bulkheads. Like most other supposed “modern” inventions, this was known to the ancient Hindus; and in quoting what follows from the narrative of the famous – now respected and credited – Venetian traveller of the thirteenth century, Ser Marco Polo,1 we express the hope that this may serve as […] Read More

Can The Mahatmas Be Selfish?

Can The Mahatmas Be Selfish?     In various writings on occult subjects, it has been stated that unselfishness is a sine qua non for success in occultism. Or a more correct form of putting it, would be that the development of an unselfish feeling is in itself the primary training which brings with it “knowledge which is power” as a necessary accessory. It is not, therefore, “knowledge,” as ordinarily understood, that the occultist works for, but it comes to him as a matter of course, in consequence of his having removed the veil, which screens true knowledge from his view. The basis of knowledge exists everywhere, since the phenomenal world furnishes or rather abounds with facts, the causes of which have to be discovered. We see only the effects in the phenomenal world, for each cause in that world is itself the effect of some other cause, and so on; […] Read More

A Society Without a Dogma

Times have greatly changed since the winter of 1875-6, when the establishment of the Theosophical Society caused the grand army of American Spiritualists to wave banners, clang steel, and set up a great shouting. How well we all remember the putting forth of “Danger Signals,” the oracular warnings and denunciations of numberless mediums! How fresh in memory the threats of “angel-friends” to Dr. Gardiner, of Boston, that they would kill Colonel Olcott if he dared call them “Elementaries” in the lectures he was about delivering! The worst of the storm has passed. The hail of imprecations no longer batters around our devoted heads; it is raining now, and we can almost see the rainbow of promised peace spanning the sky. Beyond doubt, much of this subsidence of the disturbed elements is due to our armed neutrality. But still I judge that the gradual spread of a desire to learn […] Read More

1867: Can The Double Murder?

To the Editor of “The Sun.” Sir,– One morning in 1867 Eastern Europe was startled by news of the most horrifying description. Michael Obrenovitch, reigning Prince of Serbia, his aunt, the Princess Catherine, or Katinka, and her daughter had been murdered in broad daylight, near Belgrade, in their own garden, assassin or assassins remaining unknown. The Prince had received several bullet-shots and stabs, and his body was actually butchered; the Princess was killed on the spot, her head smashed, and her young daughter, though still alive, was not expected to survive. The circumstances are too recent to have been forgotten, but in that part of the world, at the time, the case created a delirium of excitement. In the Austrian dominions and in those under the doubtful protectorate of Turkey, from Bucharest down to Trieste, no high family felt secure. In those half-Oriental countries every Montecchi has its Capuletti, […] Read More

1889: A Puzzle from Adyar

When the cat is abroad the mice dance in the house it seems. Since Colonel Olcott sailed for Japan, the Theosophist has never ceased to surprise its European readers, and especially the Fellows of our Society, with most unexpected capers. It is as if the Sphinx had emigrated from the Nile and was determined to continue offering her puzzles broadcast to the Œdipuses of the Society. Now what may be the meaning of this extraordinary, and most tactless “sortie” of the esteemed acting editor of our Theosophist? Is he, owing to the relaxing climate of Southern India, ill, or like our (and his) editor-enemies across the Atlantic, also dreaming uncanny dreams and seeing Lying visions – or what? And let me remind him at once that he must not feel offended by these remarks, as he has imperatively called them forth himself. LUCIFER, the PATH and the THEOSOPHIST are […] Read More