In the martial Cæsar’s tent.
The Science of Magic
Happening to be on a visit to Ithaca, where spiritual papers in general, and the Banner of Light in particular, are very little read, but where, luckily, the Scientist has found hospitality in several houses, I learned through your paper of the intensely interesting, and very erudite attack in an editorial of the Banner, on “Magic”; or rather on those who had the absurdity to believe in Magic. As hints concerning myself—at least in the fragment I see—are very decently veiled, and, as it appears, Col. Olcott alone, just now, is offered by way of a pious Holocaust on the altar erected to the angel-world by some Spiritualists, who seem to be terribly in earnest, I will—leaving the said gentleman to take care of himself, provided he thinks it worth his trouble—proceed to say a few words only, in reference to the alleged non-existence of Magic.
Were I to give anything on my own authority, and base my defence of Magic only on what I have seen myself, and know to be true in relation to that science, as a resident of many years’ standing in India and Africa, I might, perhaps, risk to be called by Mr. Colby—with that unprejudiced, spiritualized politeness, which so distinguishes the venerable editor of the Banner of Light—“an irresponsible woman”; and that would not be for the first time either. Therefore, to his astonishing assertion that no magic whatever either exists or has existed in this world, I will try to find as good authorities as himself, and maybe, better ones, and thus politely proceed to contradict him on that particular point.
Heterodox Spiritualists, like myself, must be cautious in our days and proceed with prudence, if they do not wish to be persecuted with all the untiring vengeance of that mighty army of “Indian Controls” and “Miscellaneous Guides” of our bright Summer Land.
When the writer of the editorial says, that “he does not think it at all improbable that there are humbugging spirits who try to fool certain aspirants to Occult knowledge, with the notion that there is such a thing as magic”(?) then, on the other hand, I can answer him that I, for one, not only think it probable, but I am perfectly sure, and can take my oath to the certainty, that more than once, spirits, who were either elementary or very unprogressed ones, calling themselves Theodore Parker, have been most decidedly fooling and disrespectfully humbugging our most esteemed Editor of the Banner of Light into the notion that the Apennines were in Spain, for instance.
Furthermore, supported in my assertions by thousands of intelligent Spiritualists, generally known for their integrity and truthfulness, I could furnish numberless proofs and instances where the Elementary Diakka, Esprits malins et farfadets, and other such-like unreliable and ignorant denizens of the spirit-world, arraying themselves in pompous, world-known and famous names, suddenly gave the bewildered witnesses such deplorable, unheard-of, slip-slop trash, and betimes something worse, that more than one person who, previous to that, was an earnest believer in the spiritual philosophy, has either silently taken to his heels; or, if he happened to have been formerly a Roman Catholic, has devoutly tried to recall to memory with which hand he used to cross himself, and then cleared out with the most fervent exclamation of Vade retro, Satanas! Such is the opinion of every educated Spiritualist.
If that indomitable Attila, the persecutor of modern Spiritualism, and mediums, Dr. G. Beard, had offered such a remark against Magic, I would not wonder, as a too profound devotion to blue pill and black draught is generally considered the best antidote against mystic and spiritual speculations; but for a firm Spiritualist, a believer in invisible, mysterious worlds, swarming with beings, the true nature of which is still an unriddled mystery to everyone—to step in and then sarcastically reject that which has been proved to exist and believed in for countless ages by millions of persons, wiser than himself, is too audacious! And that skeptic is the editor of a leading Spiritual paper! A man, whose first duty should be, to help his readers to seek—untiringly and perseveringly—for the TRUTH in whatever form it might present itself; but who takes the risk of dragging thousands of people into error, by pinning them to his personal rose-water faith and credulity. Every serious, earnest-minded Spiritualist must agree with me, in saying, that if modern Spiritualism remains, for a few years only, in its present condition of chaotic anarchy, or still worse, if it is allowed to run its mad course, shooting forth on all sides, idle hypotheses based on superstitious, groundless ideas, then will the Dr. Beards, Dr. Marvins, and others, known as scientific (?) skeptics, triumph indeed.
Really, it seems to be a waste of time to answer such ridiculous, ignorant assertions as the one which forced me to take up my pen. Any well-read Spiritualist, who finds the statement “that there ever was such a science as magic, has never been proved, nor ever will be,” will need no answer from myself, nor anyone else, to cause him to shrug his shoulders and smile, as he probably has smiled, at the wonderful attempt of Mr. Colby’s spirits to reorganize geography by placing the Apennines in Spain.
Why, man alive, did you never open a book in your life, besides your own records of Tom, Dick and Harry descending from upper spheres to remind their Uncle Sam that he had torn his gaiters or broken his pipe in the Far West?
Did you suppose that Magic is confined to witches riding astride broomsticks and then turning themselves into black cats? Even the latter superstitious trash, though it was never called Magic, but Sorcery, does not appear so great an absurdity for one to accept, who firmly believes in the transfiguration of Mrs. Compton into Katie Brinks. The laws of nature are unchangeable. The conditions under which a medium can be transformed, entirely absorbed in the process by the spirit, into the semblance of another person, will hold good whenever that spirit or rather force should have a fancy to take the form of a cat.
The exercise of magical power is the exercise of natural powers, but SUPERIOR to the ordinary functions of Nature. A miracle is not a violation of the laws of Nature, except for ignorant people. Magic is but a science, a profound knowledge of the Occult forces in Nature, and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible world. Spiritualism in the hands of an adept becomes Magic, for he is learned in the art of blending together the laws of the Universe, without breaking any of them and thereby violating Nature. In the hands of an experienced medium, Spiritualism becomes UNCONSCIOUS SORCERY; for, by allowing himself to become the helpless tool of a variety of spirits, of whom he knows nothing save what the latter permit him to know, he opens, unknown to himself, a door of communication between the two worlds, through which emerge the blind forces of Nature lurking in the astral light, as well as good and bad spirits.
A powerful mesmerizer, profoundly learned in his science, such as Baron Du Potet, Regazzoni, Pietro d’Amicis of Bologna, are magicians, for they have become the adepts, the initiated ones, into the great mystery of our Mother Nature. Such men as the above-mentioned—and such were Mesmer and Cagliostro—control the spirits instead of allowing their subjects or themselves to be controlled by them; and Spiritualism is safe in their hands. In the absence of experienced Adepts though, it is always safer for a naturally clairvoyant medium to trust to good luck and chance, and try to judge of the tree by its fruits. Bad spirits will seldom communicate through a pure, naturally good and virtuous person; and it is still more seldom that pure spirits will choose impure channels. Like attracts like.
But to return to Magic. Such men as Albertus Magnus, <... continues on page 1-71 >