From Teopedia library
Jump to navigation Jump to search
vol. 3, p. 168
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


  • HPB note
  • HPB highlighted
  • HPB underlined
  • HPB crossed out
  • <Editors note>
  • <Archivist note>
  • Lost or unclear
  • Restored
<<     >>

<Untitled> (The lamps we light are but the stars of promise)

The lamps we light are but the stars of promise,
The faintest reflex of a distant sun
That wakes an eager salutation from us
'Till nobler heights are won.

vol. 3, p. 168, leaflet

< Soul and Spirit (continued from page 3-167) >

reply from the source whence the teaching came. The statements of the Occultists, while in my judgment of great importance, I do not feel competent to defend at length. I know too little as yet, though increasing knowledge shows me much that throws on some problems of Spiritualism a much-needed light. That that light is unwelcome to many is unfortunately true. Exclusive attention to phenomena, and disregard of the philosophy of Spiritualism have produced precisely the effect that might be expected. Men have not learned to “discern spirits.” They see (or think they see) fraud, and they do not hesitate to put it down to the most obvious source—the medium. Doubt and distrust creep in, and the very atmosphere, surcharged with suspicion, invites the presence of suspicious agencies. I believe that we shall never eliminate this source of danger until we learn that much of the fraud comes from the other side, and is directly chargeable on the spirits who communicate. I believe further that one of the most important points to which our attention can be given is to acquire knowledge of the intelligences who do communicate, and of the conditions under which we may secure trustworthy messages from spirits not deceptive and unprogressed. No student'' of the subject can fail to see that much which now passes under the name of spiritual communication must, if it be indeed spirit message at all, come from a source which is undesirable, or else is distorted in transmission until its value is lost.


“Do all messages come from the ascended spirits of humanity, or are there others who can mock us, play with our vanity, trifle with our curiosity, delude and ‘fool us to the top of our bent?’ Surely this is a question worth asking: and I agree with Mrs. Hardinge-Britten, in the last of her valuable papers on Spiritual Philosophy, quoted from the Banner of Light'' in the last number of this journal, that it is better to guard against fanaticism and possible delusion than ‘to raise danger signals, and warn off the searching soul from any shore where the results of patient and faithful investigation might enlarge the borders of our spiritual perceptions, and teach us more of what we are, and by whom and what surrounded.’ Those are noble words, worthy of the hand that wrote them.

“The same correspondent whose letter heads this article writes me this:—

Since writing the letter yesterday (on the spur of the moment) reflection has shown me that my little point of difference from you on the soul being given at incarnation, is beside the question now at issue in The Spiritualist, which is on elementary spirits, so that I do not expect you will think of printing my lucubrations. My sister wishes me to tell you that we have had more than one “communication” alluding to these creatures, who are harmless and pleasant as a pet dog or cat, if kept in their proper place, and as troublesome and domineering as a pet animal, if not kept in order. I am greatly interested in the question, and hope it will be carried on in The Spiritualist. Don’t you think this atomic principle as recognised in our physical bodies, is applicable to the now growing psychic body? That both bodies are fluctuating aggregations of atoms, the one of material atoms, the other of thought atoms, the latter forming the spiritual world?

Do look at “The Gnostics,” in The Spectator, for 5th Feb. 1876. . . “The Demiurgus was a merely natural (psychic) being, his creature man was a spiritual being. . . .The psychical man is his creature entirely, but that in man which is spiritual belongs to a higher being, and lies in that natural creation awaiting the full development which is to fit it for a higher sphere. . . .Thus man is threefold—an earthly body from the realm of blind matter; a psychic or natural soul (the sole produce of the Demiurgus) and the spiritual principle.”

So the Gnostics made the same distinction that you so clearly made in your letter in the last Spiritualist. To me it seems that in the eternal evolution of “life or spirit,” it progresses through all matter, gaining in its last stage (before it can become human) a certain degree of individuality, so that a personal “Poltergeist,” or individual imp may make itself recognisable to us; it may, and probably does, possess some one human quality—of an inferior type—such as vanity or acquisitiveness. But most of us get on the wrong tack from thinking that we and every other embodiment of life are permanent individualities; whereas we are aggregations of matter and spirit, perpetually fluctuating; soul being the only real individuality, and memory is no proof of individuality, for it is induration on the psychic brain of impressions.

You doubtless have experienced that the soul has no memory; it is knowledge, it is perception. Just as the higher spirits do not talk of feeling happy, they “are a joy.” “l am music now,” said a music enjoying spirit to us after her death.

Recurring to elementary spirits how beautifull it will be if it turn out that they are waiting for incarnation to turn themselves (Undinelike) into immortal beings! How completely in accordance with all principles of perpetual upward development.

“So that the notion, so old yet so new to most, is not confined to those whose names are most associated with it in America. The notion that these elementaries are waiting for incarnation is that which is affirmed by the Occultists. Substantially they say that spirit passes through various stages of progression until it arrives at the condition of ‘rudimental man,’ endowed with all the mental but with none of the moral qualities of humanity. It has no soul, and so no conscience. That comes at incarnation by the inbreathing of the Divine Breath, and not till then is the heritage of immortality given. The elementaries have imperfect wills, and can be easily guided by an immortal man, i.e.,'' by one born on this or other inhabited earths, and so endued with superior faculties. They assert, further, that they do interfere very materially in the affairs of our world, and are the authors of many of the lower phenomena of Spiritualism. Every careful observer must have noticed in circles constituted without any due regard to conditions, a class of manifestations which may be described as Puck-like freaks, or the gambols of an unembodied entity, destitute of moral consciousness, mischievous rather than distinctly evil. Such can hardly be referred to the action of undeveloped human spirits, for the tricks are not such as a man, however uneducated or foolish, would be likely to do. They leave on the mind a distinct sense of being referable to a source not human.'' These, say the Occultists, are the pranks of the elementaries. They will plague those who allow themselves to be plagued; but they are the servants, obedient helpers of those who know their power, and will command them. And through it all, they themselves are progressing onwards to that phase of incarnation when they shall become ‘living souls.’

“Is it so? If it be, much light is thrown on vexed questions. If it be, man needs to know it, not to shirk it, and as Mrs. Britten says—scream ‘We know enough. We will stop our ears for fear we should hear too much.’ If it be, then the grand theory of evolution applies to all'' created things; and God is consistent with Himself in all spheres of His action. Man, by virtue of his immortality, is the lord of these inferior spirits, and when he knows his power, is in possession of the key to the secrets of nature which the Ancients had, and which we have lost.

“If it be only a dream, well; it will pass away, and we shall none of us be any worse for having swept away some of the cobwebs which from earliest days till now have hung about the subject of the intercourse between earth and that which has been thought to lie beyond it. For myself, I only say that the dream has one merit that dreams generally lack; it is very vraisemblable'' and coherent.”

Lord Bacon`s Theory of Spirits

Sir,—It was the opinion of Lord Bacon that all bodies are pervaded by a spiritual substance, which, when we come to plants and animals, has been called soul. He said, “It is not a question of words, but infinitely material in nature; for spirits are nothing else but a natural body, rarefied to a proportion, and included in the tangible parts of bodies, as in an integument.” “The tangible parts of bodies,” he said, “are stupid things; and the spirits do in effect all”—that is, are the source of all power, and form the basis of the minds of men; hence the free action of the mind and power of combination, which we cannot conceive of the tangible physical organ, and this spiritual basis within, in relation to the spiritual pervading medium without, giving a true correspondence in our perception which cannot otherwise be accounted for; in fact, the theory becomes a necessity in the nature of things.

Bacon also said that there may be many powers and sources of information in nature, had we the appropriate senses to perceive them; but there is not one educated person in a thousand that ever heard of these theories of Bacon, and men of science have only sneered at them. Bodies never do actually touch, as shown by Newton, hence all action must occur by the intervening something we agree to call spirit. But facts remain facts, whether we can explain them or not—such as the passage of light through seemingly solid glass, and the millions of actions through a point in space and in opposite directions without interference. These things cast some light on the fact of the store of latent impressions in memory, the free and complex action in the mind, and the leavening or investing of the fresh matter taken up with all the conditions and abilities of the old; also the germ cell with the whole latent character of the being, or ability to develops into a similar being. This leavening and animal magnetic principle will act a great part in the future, and bring Spiritualism into a more scientific position. It would take a volume for me to generalise the principle into all its correlations, exhibiting one great general law of all natural action. Further than general laws we cannot penetrate, though instinct and clairvoyance do seem to overleap experience, notwithstanding the mechanical explanation attempted by Herbert Spencer, Mr. Wallace, and Dr. Darwin. The facts will not bend to such theories. As we progress we shall attain fuller and broader views; but even Professor Tyndall supposed future man will never dive beyond the surface, into the reason of the nature of things—if even there be a reason at all, which is very doubtful. The facts and principles are what they are seemingly by a primordial necessity, as Humboldt said, and as Bacon positively affirmed, referring all to an adamantine chain of necessity that no power could possibly sever.

Henry G. Atkinson, F.G.S.



Sir,—My astrological prediction of the result of the race was about as lucky as the predictions of other sporting prophets who derive their inspiration from less occult sources. The time of the figure was incorrectly copied by me, and so printed. It should have been Oh. 9 min. 14secs, mean time. I believe the signs and planets were correctly placed, but my blunder must have been apparent to any one who had more experience than mine. I mistook the lordship of Jupiter over Saturn for a good aspect towards the latter.

But my attempt was rather made with a view to elicit some explanatory comments from “Aldebaran” than with any expectation of success. Horary astrology, of course, must not be judged by the experiments of beginners, without knowledge of the principles of the science, if it is one, and with imperfect acquaintance even with its rules. But surely the test should be easy, as the practical importance of the science would be enormous. I have little sympathy with the degradation of knowledge to personal ends, but there is one thing that is much worse, which is the superstitious regulation of action by an illusory light. Let us know, if possible, what degree of definiteness and certainty belongs to this branch of astrology. That there is “something in it” I have little doubt. It is the amount and worth of this something that we want to know.

C. C. Massey.

Tomple, Oct. 29th.


Sir,—In your issue of Sept. 14th “Aldebaran” recommends ‘‘Raphael” as a reliable astrologer. So do I.

About six years ago my attention was drawn to astrology. Being of a practical turn of mind, and fortunately knowing the exact time of my birth, I put the science to the test by getting several professional astrologers, previously unknown to me, to calculate my nativity; the result was a marvellous correspondence in their leading conclusions, both as to the past and the future. Of the past I was able to judge by my bygone experience. The future predictions, so far, have proved very correct. The inference is that the science is based on sound mathematical laws, but the reliability of the calculations entirely depends upon the knowledge of the science possessed by the calculator of the problems before him. Thus much for astrology.

Astrologers as a body are a “peculiar people,” hard to understand. The pseudo practice of astrology affords ample opportunity to the dishonest to dupe confiding and unwary folk. Few men of respectability care to be for ever open to the clutches of an iniquitous law. Notwithstanding, both the practice and study of astrology are vastly on the increase.

I found Raphael so straightforward and clear in his judgments that I have often, during the last three or four years, appealed to him for his astrological opinion upon events of importance that have arisen during my active business life, and I cannot fail to admit he has proved himself thoroughly worthy of my confidence and respect.

I have been a student of nearly all the modern isms, and I know of no other science that can give a man fuller knowledge of himself and the laws under which he lives, and moves, and has his being.


Sir,—It was with a considerable amount of pain that I read Mr. C. C. Massey’s letter (in your last issue), under date October 23rd, 1877.

Considering the great prejudice which exists against astrology, the fearful amount of vice and immorality connected with horse-racing, and the necessary laws against betting and gambling, could no other illustration, or example of the rules of astrology, be found than the one which high-minded, thoughtful men will assuredly shun?

It does seem to me that Mr. Massey has made a most injudicious selection of an example to publish; or he is purposely disparaging a subject of which he declares “he does not know anything.” I cannot think the latter of Mr. Massey.

It is singular that, on the matter of “horse-racing” Lilly does not give a single rule (see Bohn’s edition). And Zadkiel, although he gives some short rules, makes this very pertinent remark, “I would not encourage any one in the pursuit of this pernicious, foolish, and discreditable practice, for the sake of mammon.” (Handbook of Astrology, Vol. II., p.93).

J. W. R.

October 27th, 1877 (10.30 a.m.).

Editor's notes

  1. The lamps we light are but the stars of promise by unknown author
  2. Lord Bacon`s Theory of Spirits by Atkinson, Henry G., F.G.S., London Spiritualist, No. 186, March 17, 1876, p. 125
  3. Astrology by Massey, C.C., London Spiritualist, No. 271, November 2, 1877, pp. 214-5