From Teopedia library
Jump to navigation Jump to search
vol. 3, p. 3
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
<<     >>

A Legend of the Seneca Indians

Herno, the great thunder-spirit, had his lodge behind the sheet of water which pours down at the Falls of Niagara. For a very long time he dwelt there, astonishing the Indians with his stunning peals, but never venturing forth to practise his strange art before their eyes. They could hear him and knew he was there; but never as yet had he been seen; nor is it at all likely that he or the effects of the sun ever would have been seen but for a little incident, the results of which brought him forth.

A young and beautiful maiden, residing at Seneca Village, just above the falls, had been contracted in marriage by her father to an old man of disagreeable manners and hideous person. She at once resolved to seek death rather than drag out the life of misery which such a union must bring about; and with this object in view she launched forth from the village in a bark canoe and swept down the rapids of Niagara, singing her own death-song until she took the awful leap.

But death was not ready for her. Herno, the Thunder-spirit, happened to be wide awake, and when he saw her coming down among the foaming waters, he coolly caught her in his blanket and conveyed her to his home behind the falls.

Of course the maiden had romance enough about her to be grateful for all this, more especially when she found she was entirely beyond the reach of the monster her “cruel pa-ri-ent” had selected to comfort her through life. She fell upon the neck of the Thunderer and wept sweet tears. The tears softened his stern heart, and led him to smooth back, if not to toy, with her golden tresses. In short, to hurry through a long story, they got to billing and cooing — they fell in love — they made the interesting affair known to each other, and the wronged though beautiful maiden became the wife of Herno, the Thunder-spirit, and, as a matter of course, she was very happy.

About this time the Senecas of the village above the falls were visited with a pestilence which swept them off by hundreds, and while some prayed to the Great Spirit for help, others gathered around the cataract and sent in their petitions to Herno. The tale of their suffering moved the Thunderer, and he sent the maiden forth to tell her people that a monstrous serpent was dwelling beneath their village, just below the surface of the ground; that it was depending upon their bodies for food, and that it came forth at the end of every moon and poisoned the waters, in order that they might die, and be buried within its reach.

As soon as the Indians learned this they pulled up and moved to another locality; consequently, when the great serpent poisoned the waters as usual, the earth brought him no food. This was an affair so strange that be crawled forth to see what it meant, when, to his surprise, he found the village was deserted.

With many curses on the head of the Thunderer, as the author of his misfortune, the serpent took the trail of the retreating Indians, and started away in hot pursuit.

The maiden still loved her people, and when she saw the serpent moving on to effect their further destruction she appealed to her husband to arrest him. Herno was not deaf to her entreaties, and so he stepped forth from his hiding place, and launched a hissing bolt after the serpent, which struck him just as he was endeavouring to cross the narrows some distance above the falls.

The wound produced was a fatal one, and the great monster floated down the stream, and lodged upon the verge of the cataract, stretching nearly from shore to shore. The swift waters were dammed up by the obstruction; but they finally broke through the rocks behind, and thus the whole top of the falls upon which the snake rested was precipitated with it into the abyss below excepting a small portion, which is now known as Goat Island.

It almost entirely ruined the home of the Thunderer, for it reduced the great space behind the waters to a very narrow compass. He still occupies it as a sleeping apartment, however, and you may now hear him snoring under there as you stand on the shore; but if he would exercise himself in his favourite pastime of throwing thunderbolts he is forced to come forth into space less limited.

Unreasonable as this myth may sound, there can be no doubt that the Senecas believed every word of it. When they were to be met with in the Niagara country they pointed out a place near the mouth of Cayuga Creek, where the banks were shelved out in a semi-circular form, and declared that it had been done by the serpent in his death throes, after having been wounded by Herno’s thunderbolt. And to this tradition may be attributed their custom of putting away their dead upon scaffolds above ground instead of burying them. — Religio-Philosophical Journal

Transformation Phenomena

Sir, — In an old copy of the Spiritual Times (June 3rd, 1865) there is, among other “Remarkable Spiritual Experiences of a Clergyman,” the following, which is interesting in the present day when form manifestations are so much more frequent, and when we who view them are so often perplexed as to the exact source to which they are to be referred.

The writer has been describing other manifestations through “a Friend’s son, one of our mediums.” After these were over, the medium wrote: “Mr. K., mark well the medium’s actions, from his head to his waist, and keep very quiet.” The narration proceeds thus: —

“We heard a great rattle like some electrical machine, and the room began to tremble. The medium stood up, we could see him distinctly, he stood erect, his arms stretched out in the form of a cross; then he lifted his hands to his head, slipping his fingers through his hair some half dozen times. Presently he turned to the wall and shook hands apparently with some one, then he turned right round, and appeared to do the same with some one else, then with another also, then he appeared to embrace a fourth, then shook hands with someone else, and so on for a considerable time, as if he had been meeting with a considerable number of friends, who had all met together for some gladsome occasion. Then, after having saluted them all, he again stood quiet. We could now see from his head to his waist quite clearly, the light was clearer. Presently his appearance was changed, and there stood before us a man of about middle age, with a bushy beard of sandy colour, broad face, high cheek bones, broad full forehead, and benevolent countenance.”

Would it not be well worth while for a medium who readily obtains form manifestations — say Mr. Eglinton — to sit for such phenomena? In seems to me that they would throw much light on a subject at present very dark and perplexing, viz., the exact use made, in a given case of form-manifestation, of the medium’s body.

As I am writing, may I say that “A Lawyer’s” suggestion as to protection of mediums appears to me admirable, and to satisfy exactly the resolutions of the Defence Committee which you lately published.

What does Mr. Volckman wish the committee to do to remove misconception and false statements about Slade? No daily or weekly paper will print anything about him except abuse, and if they did editorial comments would cast ridicule and doubt on anything said. The wilfully blind must be left alone.

M. A. (Oxon.)

Key to Egyptian Astronomy

Professor Mitchell, in his lectures on astronomy, stated that he had not long since met, in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, a man of great scientific attainments who; for forty years, had been engaged in Egypt deciphering the hieroglyphics of the ancients. This gentleman had stated to him that he had lately unravelled the inscriptions upon the coffin of a mummy, now in the British Museum, and that, by the aid o previous observation, he had discovered the key to all the astronomical knowledge of the Egyptians. The zodiac, with the exact position of the planets, was delineated on the coffin, and the date to which they pointed was the autumnal equinox in the year 1723 before Christ, or nearly 3,600 years ago Prof. Mitchell employed his assistants to ascertain the exact position of the heavenly bodies belonging to our solar system on the equinox of that year (1722 B. C.), and send him a correct diagram of them, without having communicated his object in doing so. In compliance with this the calculations were made; and to his astonishment, on comparing the result with the statements of his scientific friend already referred to, it was found that, on the 7th of October, 1722 B. C., the moon and planets had occupied the exact position in the heavens marked upon the coffin in the British Museum.

Dr. Carpenter's Dried Peas

From “The Medium.”

But you must confess that he has a great mind.”

“A great mind! a great fiddlestick! a great bladder for dried peas to rattle about in” said Mrs. Cadwallader, vivisecting Mr. Casaubon, according to George Eliot’s veracious record in Middlemarch. A perusal of Dr. W. B. Carpenter’s second lecture at the London Institution irresistibly recalls this passage. It is no part of my design to traverse the ground covered by the lecturer, and to point out how entirely he fails to deal with facts. Other writers, if they think it worth while, may do that, and very easy work they will find it. It is my wish to point out a few of these “dried peas” that make such a rattling; and when they are pointed out, my readers will have no difficulty in seeing what lifeless, dried-up things they are, how destitute of all power of germination, what good-for-nothing relics of a by-gone time.

Forty years this “great mind” has been concerning itself with the fallacies of Spiritualism and kindred subjects. During forty years it has fastened upon all phenomena that came in its way, and so, Dr. Carpenter would have us conclude, has eminent claims on attention. The conclusion most informed persons will draw is somewhat different. If, as the lecturer says, he has spent forty years with this result, then forty worse spent years were never passed by man. Any school-boy (as Macaulay would have said) — any fairly educated and unprejudiced man would be able to disprove all his conclusions in forty weeks, and less: and to put in the place of these “dried peas,” facts of vital power which will increase and multiply and bear their wholesome fruit. After forty years, Dr. Carpenter ought to know better: and it may be suggested to him whether there is not something radically wrong in the method which has produced such results.

Here are some of his “dried peas.”

Inherent Impossibility. — What you say is inherently impossible, and so I reject it. Why? Because it is. A good feminine reason: but before Dr. Carpenter has the right to use it, he must be able to affirm that he knows all the laws of nature, and therefore can state that these phenomena do not occur in accordance with any of them. And in order to do that he must also know by what laws they do occur; in which case he would be a good deal wiser than he is. Nothing is “inherently impossible,” not even that Dr. Carpenter may one day see and confess his errors. The word “impossible” ought to be expunged from our dictionaries. It is a “dried pea” too: a cover for ignorance, or an excuse for laziness.

Self-Deception. — Mediums are victims of hysteria, fond of unhealthy notoriety, shamming to gain attention. Well, and what of the people who attest to the phenomena? Are they hysterical, too? Do men watch the evolution of these phenomena day by day for years, and that not in open circles, where inducements for deception may be presumed to exist, but in the seclusion of their own families, and then maintain silence about them in public, lest they should be annoyed by gossip and idle questions — and this for the sake of notoriety? Was there ever such a “dried pean” as this? If Dr. Carpenter knew as much as he would have us to believe he does of Spiritualism, he would know that there are hundreds of private circles where all these phenomena which he disputes are daily occurring; and he will not persuade the members of them that they are all self-deceived. They will tell him that “the boot is on the other leg.” <... continues on page 3-5 >

Editor's notes

  1. A Legend of the Seneca Indians by unknown author. From Religio-Philosophical Journal
  2. Transformation Phenomena by Moses, W. S. (signed as M. A. (Oxon))
  3. Key to Egyptian Astronomy by unknown author
  4. Dr. Carpenter's Dried Peas by Moses W.S. (signed as M. A. (Oxon.)). From "The Medium and Daybreak", January 12, 1877, where it was published under the title "Dr. Carpenter's Theories, and Dr. Carpenter's Facts"