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vol. 1, p. 111
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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< Colonel Olcott on Psychological Phenomena (continued from page 1-110) >

what he says generally is) about the cause of the lying communications given by spirits. He puts this query. “Why was this? Was it that the messages came from very inferior beings, who surrounded particular individuals?" And he truthfully adds— “circumstances such as these very much opposed the progress of Spiritualism.” No more pertinent question has been asked; no truer assertion made. It is high time that this question should be pondered by every intelligent person interested in the subject. We have gone on for nearly thirty years, receiving communications and viewing phenomena, and taking it for granted that all those which are genuine are made by disembodied human spirits. This has caused all the trouble, and made all the odium.

But the Eastern people make no such mistakes. They do not believe that all their communications are from departed friends, nor all their physical phenomena produced by them. They know better. There is not a hungry fakir or tattered sheikh who could not have taught us where to seek for the truth. They could have shown us how to produce slate writing ourselves, or any other form of physical manifestation, by controlling the currents of the “Universal Ether” by will power, and calling in the help of the elementary beings who exist in its bosom. They could have taught us what a direful calamity it is to yield to physical mediumship to the extent of perfect passivity—which is the same as saying to give oneself over as the helpless slave of the “elementaries.” Let us hope that when men of such character as Mr. Jencken formulate questions like that which I have quoted above they will be pondered over.

A few of us in this country have organised the Theosophical Society for the express purpose of looking into the science which, so far as we can discover, is alone competent to afford us this desired knowledge.

One would suppose that the inquiry was a proper one, and that, if we could prove to Spiritualists that these “very inferior beings” of Mr. Jencken’s do surround certain individuals—individuals known as physical mediums—and made them lie, and cheat, and indulge in immoral practices, we should be doing a very great service. But no sooner did I broach the idea that the “elementaries” of the Theosophists, the “Dwellers of the Threshold” of Bulwer, and these “inferior beings’’ were identical, than I was set upon and gibed at by every noisy creature who could handle a quill and gain access to the Spiritualist papers. Worse than that; I, who had been thickly besmeared with praise for my previous writings, was openly charged with conspiracy to cheat a virtuous public; and some of these dogs—for their behavior shames the human species—fell to slandering good people, and circulating all sorts of calumnies about their private characters. But I, at least, am not the man to be turned aside from the accomplishment of a lawful purpose by any such means; and now that we have begun our investigations, we mean to pursue them until we get at the truth which lies at the bottom of this filthy well. We look to the brave and true souls in Great Britain, in France, in Russia, and all over the world, for sympathy and help. We want you, above all, as representing the better portion of English Spiritualism, to feel that not one of us has the slightest sympathy with Free Love or Free Lovers, that we have no selfish ends to promote, no dogmas to inculcate; that while we have deep sympathy for the misfortunes of the unhappy people who are under the dominion of “ inferior beings,” we neither consult them as guides to philosophy nor as oracles of our departed friends. We study their cases as the physician his patient; their phenomena as the scientific observer any other manifestation of natural law. Our bread is cast upon the waters: will you send it back to us after many days?

Henry S. Olcott.

The Theosophical Society,
Mott Memorial Hall, 64, Madison-avenue, New York.


What Col. Olcott Believes

Nota Bene. This is Col. Olcott’s personal belief and has nothing to do with belief of other Theosophists.

COL. H. S. Olcott has put his personal belief into a few simple paragraphs which are easily comprehended. He says: —

First: I believe in the existence of a First an Eternal Cause, the source of all things visible and invisible.

Second: I believe in the doctrine of Evolution, and believe that it applies to both sides of the Universe — spirit and matter. It has produced man upon this sphere, and it follows him beyond the death of the body.

Third: I believe that in the course of this Evolution of man, successive forms of spiritual entities were brought into existence, just as there have been a countless succession of physical forms of plant and animal.

Fourth: I believe that, after the death of the physical body, man’s spirit survives; and that, under favoring conditions, he can communicate with those whom he has left behind. This manifestation may be made either through mediums or in other ways.

Fifth: I believe, as the result of study and of personal observation of practical experiments, that the human mind can control the occult forces of Nature, and subjugate all spiritual beings lower than himself in the scale of Evolution, just as he has natural dominion over ail the lower animals.

Sixth: I regard Modern Spiritualism, in its present form, as only a record of sporadic phenomena; which do not occur except under conditions not of our choosing; which cannot be controlled; and which are accompanied with so much that is contradictory and untruthful, that more investigation is necessary before we can be said to know anything definite about the laws of spiritual intercourse. But, still I believe that, even under such unfavorable conditions as are now- furnished us by our uninstructed mediums, disembodied spirits are often drawn into communication with us by the attraction of our intense love for them.

Seventh: I regard Mesmerism and Spiritualism as portions of a broader and a demonstrable science — that of Magic. This science was known to the ancients, has been practiced for countless ages, and is now practiced in the Orient.

Eighth: I believe that the forces known as Animal Magnetism, Odyle, the magnet, psychic force, and the spiritual force, are all various manifestations of the same force — the Astral Light. This is the medium of which our spiritual bodies, the astral bodies of animals, and the vital force of plants, are portions; and the varying vibrations of which (under the name of “Ether,”) are severally designated as light, heat, electricity, and chemical action.

Ninth: While I believe that, often, human spirits have appeared to us in materialized form, more frequently a lower order of beings have appeared in the forms of persons who are Called dead. Spiritualists have no means of distinguishing between these spiritual beings: Cabalists have, and need never make mistakes.

JANUARY 15, 1876.

Col. Olcott and the "Elementaries"

...requisite apparatus !” And Mr. Felt has done it in the presence of nine persons in all.


Editor's notes

  1. What Col. Olcott Believes by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 21, January 27, 1876, p. 243
  2. Col. Olcott and the "Elementaries" by unknown author, Banner of Light