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vol. 3, p. 170
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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<Untitled> (Whate'er we do falls short of our intending)

Whate'er we do falls short of our intending ;
The structure lacks the beauty we design ;
And tortured angels, to their home ascending,
Depart, and leave no sign.

Thoughts in Answer to Correspondents

An Editorial by Gerry Brown – when friendly

We are in receipt of numerous letters from correspondents. asking for information and for our opinion on certain questions. We shall endeavor to answer them to the best of our ability.

“Can a person, other than a medium,” do or see certain things, is a most common inquiry?

There should be some conventional definition adopted for this word medium in our spiritual science. For instance, in a seance for physical manifestations, there may be in the circle three persons, recognized as mediums, in the present acceptation of the word, yet one only is in reality a medium for the occasion. True, we have already divided mediumistic powers into general classes, bat the word medium has no definite meaning. If we say. “a medium is a person who furnishes the necessary powers by which spirit-force or intelligence is enabled to demonstrate its existence, and without which power there can be no such demonstration,” then if one should say, “I have seen materialized forms of spirits appear in the absence of a medium,” he would mean that none of those who witnessed the apparition furnished the power which is commonly supposed to be necessary; and yet all present may have possessed some phase of mental mediumship. The spiritual faculties of each individual have much to do with his perception of spirit-manifestations, one thinks the Eddy circles are dark, another easily distinguishes everything in the room,—simply because one is developed into a higher spiritual condition than the other.

When we are asked, “Is not a study of the secret laws t of nature apt to develop ones spiritual or mediumistic condition, and thus furnish an explanation as to his remarkable powers and visions;” we answer, “yes.” Pythagoras in his secret lodges, prescribed a certain manner of life, distinguished by a most cleanly but not luxurious clothing, a regular diet, a methodical division of time. See. The Cabbalists taught virtue, and were thus auxiliaries to the sacred teachings of the holy laws, though perhaps having no connection with the dorminant religion. The Chaldeans transmitted their learning from father to son. The most learned and eloquent of the Persian Magi did—

“Renounce rich attire; their Rayment is white upon occasions, their Beds, the ground, their Food, nothing but Herbs, Cheese and Bread; instead of a Staff they carry a cane, in the top whereof they put their Cheese, which as occasion served they did eat”—Laertius.

We might quote the habits and manners of living of many of the ancient “mediums” all tending to show that they developed a spiritual condition, and were thus channels for the inspiration that was suited to those times. The oracles of Zoroaster tell us that “The ungirders of the soul which give her breathing are easy to be loosed;” that is, it is easy for the soul to loose itself from the bonds which confine it to the body, and travel as a spirit, almost unrestrained. Col. Olcott has advanced a theory of “elementary spirits” to account for the presence of some unexplained force in spiritual manifestations that causes confusion and error. The proposition has been declared, by some writers on Spiritualism, to be unprovable. Perhaps so; we are not sufficiently read up in Col. Olcott’s views to express an opinion. But the power of an embodied spirit, to travel out and away from the body, has been proved; the power of a mesmerist to influence a subject at a distance of hundreds of miles, has been proved; and both propositions can undoubtedly be proved at any time by experiment. Col. Olcott’s “elementary spirits” may be human thoughts, traveling as entities, for aught we know to the contrary; certain it is that we are responsible for our thoughts, they reach the source for which they were intended, and they go to make up our “future mansion.” All these matters should be subjects for contemplation, argument and experiment, rather than denunciation or ridicule. “Try to Understand Yourself and Things in General,” is the motto of the Scientist; we believe that a study of the powers of our own spirit or the spirit in the body, will be productive of much information concerning our relations with the Spirit-World. That our departed friends can and do return, has been proved and we know it.—Let us go farther.

Plain Statements and Explanations

The new theories recently advanced as principles in the Spiritual Philosophy, have, as we predicted last week, drawn many writers into the field. Dr. G. Bloede is a correspondent of the Banner of Light, who rushes into print w:th an “Important Caution” against the recent “Important Notice,’ issued by Emma Hardinge Britten, as secretary for a proposed book, treating of “Art Magic; or Mundane, Super-Mundane and Sub-Mundane Spiritualism.” He sees in this book, “but a new snare to Spiritualism itself, laid by its ever-watchful and active enemy,—the Ecclesiastical Power all over the world;” and this “Ecclesiastical Power” is “ The Jesuit Order.”

Now far be it from our purpose to belittle or to smother any attempt to awaken Spiritualist! to the knowledge, that “the Jesuit order does plot in secret and work by stealth to regain its lost ascendency.” The Scientist has persistently taught this and urged Spiritualists to unite and organize for the coming contest; but to express such an opinion, concerning the probable methods to be employed by Jesuits, shows the author to be ignorant of the past history, and the present condition of these powerful enemies. If the forthcoming work was destined to accomplish what the learned Dr. Bloede seems to fear it will, money in any quantity would be at hand and not only five hundred, but five hundred thousand copies would be printed, and every Spiritualist would find one under his nose.

Not No! When Jesuitism strikes at Spiritualism it deals a powerful blow. It has little to fear in countries where Protestantism reigns. The tendency of Spiritualism is to weaken Protestant churches. Spiritualists in the United States are not yet united; they will not acknowledge a common belief, however simple, nor recognize the necessity of any work, however important, as a basis upon which they may unite. Their leading organs, for the past twenty-seven years, have discouraged Organization, and have been content to follow, rather than attempt to lead, public opinion. Catholicism, on the contrary, has been silently propagated, constantly increasing its ratio of proportion to the sum total of all other beliefs. Catholics are united, acknowledging one head and his authority through subordinates. They bide their time, but the issue will come.

But according to Dr. Blode the Jesuits are at work—how? Publishing a small book of which only five hundred copies will be issued in any event.

And, as he says,—“By capturing the minds of the most earnest and influential Spiritual leaders, by persuading them that Modern Spiritualism is nothing but the old ‘occult science’ of by-gone centuries; the ‘magic art’ practised by the adepts of a secret order in the Orient, by affording them, as ‘advanced thinkers,’—as Mrs. Britten says — ‘the clue they need so badly to the understanding of all the mysteries of Ancient and Modern Spiritualism?’ Should this view of the ‘important notice’ before us be considered only as the promptings of black-seeing? We think not. The captivation of earnest and influential Spiritualist leaders has already commenced. Dating from the advent of a remarkable foreigner in our country, Madame Blavatsky, we have seen the Spiritual Scientist fill its pages with learned and abstruse stuff on occult art and secret orders.”

It is this paragraph that drew our attention. Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten is too well known to our readers, and Spiritualists in general, to need any defence at our hands. She! will, without doubt, reply in such a manner that those who read will gain information.

We thank Dr. Bloede for classing us among the ‘‘earnest’’ Spiritualists; we are, indeed, too earnest to be captured by any person or order, and hope we may be sufficiently influential to lift Spiritualism to a higher plane than it at present occupies. And, as the only fact alleged in proof of our captivity seems to be that our pages have been filled with “learned and abstruse stuff" since the advent of Madame <... continues on page 3-171 >

Editor's notes

  1. Whate'er we do falls short of our intending by unknown author
  2. Thoughts in Answer to Correspondents by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 7, October 21, 1875, p. 78
  3. Plain Statements and Explanations by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 7, October 21, 1875, pp. 78-9, v. 3, No. 7, October 21, 1875, pp. 78-9