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vol. 3, p. 136
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< What is Occultism? (continued from page 3-135) >

It perceives a duality in all things, a physical and spiritual nature, closely interwoven in each others embrace, interdependent upon each other and yet independent of each other. And as there is in spirit-life a central individuality, the soul, so there is in the physical, the atom; each eternal, unchangeable, and self-existent. These centres, physical and spiritual, are surrounded by their own respective atmospheres, the intersphering of which results in aggregation and organization. This idea is not limited to terrestial life, but is extended to worlds and systems of worlds.

Physical existence is subservient to the spiritual, and alphysical improvement and progress are only the auxiliaries of spiritual progress without which there could be no physical progress. Physical organic progress is effected through hereditary transmission, spiritual organic progress by transmigration.

Occultism has divided spiritual progress into three divisions—the elementary, which corresponds with the lower organizations; the astral, which relates to the human: and the celestial, which is divine. “Elementary spirits,” whether they belong to “earth, water, air or fire,” are spirits not yet human, but are attracted to the human by certain congenialities. As many physical diseases are due to the presence of parasites, attracted or produced by uncleanness and other causes, so parasitic spirits are attracted by immorality or spiritual uncleanness thereby inducing spiritual diseases and consequent physical ailments. They who live on the animal plane must attract spirits of that plane who seek for borrowed embodiments where the most congeniality exists in the highest form. Thus the ancient doctrine of obsession challenges recognition, and the exorcism of devils as legitimate as the expelling of a tapeworm, or the curing of the itch. It was also believed that these spiritual beings sustained their spiritual existence, by certain emanations from physical bodies, especially when newly slain; thus in sacrificial offerings, the priests received the physical part, and the gods the spiritual, they being content with a “sweet smelling savor.” It was further thought that wars were instigated by these demons, so that they might feast on the slain. But vegetable food also held a place in spiritual estimation, for incense and fumigations were powerful instruments in the hands of the expert magician.

Above the elementary spheres were the seven planetary spheres, and as the elementary spheres were the means of progress for the lower animals, so were the planetary spheres the means of progress for spirits advanced from the elementary—for human spirits. The human spirit at death, went to its associative star, till ready for a new incarnation, and its birth partakes of the nature of the planet from whence it came, and whose rays illumine the ascendant; the central idea of astrology. When the lessons of a planetary sphere were fully mastered the spirit rose to the next sphere to proceed as before. The character of these spheres corresponded to the “seven ages of man.” But not always did the spirit return to the astral spheres. Suicides; those from whom life had been taken suddenly, before fully ripe; those whose affections were inordinately attached to earthly things, &c., were held to the earth till certain conditions were fulfilled, and some whose lives had fitted them for such disposal were remanded to the elementary spheres, to be incarnated as lower animals corresponding to the nature of their lives. Such were the perturbed spirits who sometimes disturbed the peace of sensitive mortals in the oars gone by—perhaps now.

Transcending the planetary spheres were the three Divine spheres where the process of apotheosis took place, where the spirit progressed till it reached the fulness of the Godhead bodily. From these spheres were appointed the guardians of the inferior spheres, the messengers of God, ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.

Such is a brief outline of spiritual occult philosophy; it may seem to be inconsistent with the ideas of modern Spiritualism, yet even Spiritualism has not altogether lost sight of the seven spheres and other peculiarities of the ancient astor spiritual faith; and as knowledge is acquired and experience gained, a better understanding of both ancient and modern mysticism will bring them nearer together, and show a consistency and mutual agreement which has never been disturbed only obscured by human ignorance and presumption. But Occultism has a physical aspect which I cannot afford to pass by. Man is a fourfold being:

Four things, of man there are: spirit, soul, ghost, flesh; Four places these four keep and do possess. The earth covers flesh, the ghost hovers o'er the grave, Orcus hath the seal, the stars the spirit crave.

When the spirit leaves the body, and is properly prepared for the stellean spheres, it leaves behind all sensual thoughts and memories. These are retained in the mortal remains, and the shade which is no part of the spirit or the tree man or woman, may still counterfeit them, make revelations of the past, in fact reveal more of its sensual history, and prove sensual identity better than the spirit itself could do, seeing it knows only spiritual things. The sciomancy of the past bears the same reality to modern psychometry, that ancient magic does to modern Spiritualism. Thus in haunted houses, in grave-yards and places where deeds of violence have occurred, sensitives see the drama reacted which transpired long ago, the spirit being no accessory thereto.

Even the spirit cannot communicate unless through the interblending of physical and spiritual aural, and only by coming en rapport with physical things can it know anything of them; and thus mediums are as necessary on the other side as this; through which mediums, guardian spirits, we may gain a nearer apprehension of spiritual truths, if we live for them.

The Appearance of the Spirit of a Dying Woman

Mr. Stainton-Moses continued that if they were not facts, they would, if not contradicted, pass into the region of facts. It had been said that spirits were not usually seen by many persons at the same time, but the Spiritualist contained an authenticated account of a dying mother, who wished to see her children, and all the children saw her spirit. He knew of another case of the kind. It was narrated by the Bev. F. G. Lee, Vicar of Lambeth, who tried to prove Spiritualism to be of diabolical origin. Mr. Lee quoted the following document:—

“A lady and her husband (who held a position of some distinction in India) were returning home (A.D. 1854), after an absence of four years, to join a family of young children, when the former was seized in Egypt with an illness of a most alarming character, and though carefully tended by an English physician, and nursed with the greatest care, grew so weak that little or no hope of her recovery existed. With that true kindness which is sometimes withheld by those about a dying bed, she was properly and plainly informed of her dangerous state, and bidden to prepare for the worst. Of a devout, pious, and reverential mind, she is reported to have made a careful preparation for the latter end. The only point which seemed to disturb her mind after the delirium of fever had passed away, was a deep-seated desire to see her absent children once again, which she frequently expressed to those who attended upon her. Day after day for more than a week she gave utterance to her longings and prayers, remarking that she would die happily if only this one wish could be gratified.

“On the morning of the day of her departure hence she. fell into a long and heavy sleep, from which her attendants found it difficult to arouse her. During the whole period of it she lay perfectly tranquil. Soon after noon, however, she suddenly awoke, saying, ‘I have seen them all; I have seen them all. God be praised, for Jesus Christ’s sake,’ and then slept again. Towards evening in perfect peace, and with many devout exclamations, she calmly yielded up her spirit to God who gave it. Her body was brought to England and interred in the family burying place.

“The most remarkable part of this incident remains to be told. The children of the dying lady were being educated at Torquay under the supervision of a friend of the family. At the very time when their mother thus slept they were confined to the house where they lived by a severe storm of thunder and lightning. Two apartments on one floor, perfectly distinct, were then occupied by them as play and recreation rooms. All were then gathered together. No one of the children was absent. They were amusing themselves with games in company of a nursemaid who had never seen their parents. All of a sudden their mother, as she usually appeared, entered the larger room of the two, pausing, looked for some moments at each and smiled, passed into the next room, and then vanished away. Three of the elder children recognised her at once, but were greatly disturbed and impressed at her appearance, silence, and manner. The younger and nursemaid, each and all, saw a lady-in white come into the smaller room, and then slowly glide by and fade away.

“The date of this occurrence, Sept. 10, 1854, was carefully noted, and it was afterwards found that the two events above recorded happened almost contemporaneously. A record of the event was committed to paper, and transcribed on a fly-leaf of the family Bible, from which the above account was taken and given to the editor of this book in the autumn of 1871, by a relation of the lady in question, who is well acquainted with the fact of her spectral appearance at Torquay, and has vouched for the truth of it in the most distinct and formal manner.

“The narrative of the spectral appearance of a lady at Torquay, forwarded to Dr. F. G. Lee at his special request, is copied from and compared with that in the family Bible of H. A. T. Baillie-Hamilton, by the undersigned.

C. Margaret Balfour.
Mary Bailie-Hamilton.
Witness, J. R. Grant.

Princes-street, Edinburgh, Oct. 7, 1871.

Editor's notes

  1. The Appearance of the Spirit of a Dying Woman by Balfour, C. Margaret, Hamilton, Mary Baillie, Grant, J. R., London Spiritualist, No. 196, May 26, 1876, p. 245