Chapter 13 (Realities and Illusion) The After-Life: After-Death Revival and Alchemy
This is the fifth and final chapter on post-mortem / ante-natal experience which covers a broad range of spiritualistic, supernatural and magical topics besides.
1- The coherence of magic and alchemy (p. 461)
Esoteric Science 461 / Esoteric and scientific formulas 462 / Magnetism 463 / Esotericism and chemistry 464 / Mysteries of nature, plants 467 / Faith 467
THERE are persons whose minds would be incapable of appreciating the intellectual grandeur of the ancients, even in physical science, were they to receive the most complete demonstration of their profound learning and achievements. Notwithstanding the lesson of caution which more than one unexpected discovery has taught them, they still pursue their old plan of denying, and, what is still worse, of ridiculing that which they have no means of either proving or disproving. So, for instance, they will pooh-pooh the idea of talismans having any efficacy one way or the other. That the seven spirits of the Apocalypse have direct relation to the seven occult powers in nature, appears incomprehensible and absurd to their feeble intellects; and the bare thought of a magician claiming to work wonders through certain kabalistic rites convulses them with laughter. Perceiving only a geometrical figure traced upon a paper, a bit of metal, or other substance, they cannot imagine how any reasonable being should ascribe to either any occult potency. But those who have taken the pains to inform themselves know that the ancients achieved as great discoveries in psychology as in physics, and that their explorations left few secrets to be discovered. 461
2- Psychic Nature of Animals ( 467)
Astral vision in animals 467 / Blavatsky’s experience with animals 470
Every animal is more or less endowed with the faculty of perceiving, if not spirits, at least something which remains for the time being invisible to common men, and can only be discerned by a clairvoyant. We have made hundreds of experiments with cats, dogs, monkeys of various kinds, and, once, with a tame tiger. A round black mirror, known as the “magic crystal,” was strongly mesmerized by a native Hindu gentleman, formerly an inhabitant of Dindigul, and now residing in a more secluded spot, among the mountains known as the Western Ghauts. He had tamed a young cub, brought to him from the Malabar coast, in which part of India the tigers are proverbially ferocious; and it is with this interesting animal that we made our experiments.
3- Eastern Magic (471)
Hindu Magic 471 / Mass hallucinations 473 / Blavatsky’s travels 474
“Sanang Setzen,” says Colonel Yule,* “enumerates a variety of the wonderful acts which could be performed through the Dharani (mystic Hindu charms). Such were sticking a peg into solid rock; restoring the dead to life; turning a dead body into gold; penetrating everywhere as air does (in astral form); flying; catching wild beasts with the hand; reading thoughts; making water flow backward; eating tiles; sitting in the air with the legs doubled under, etc.” Old legends ascribe to Simon Magus precisely the same powers. “He made statues to walk; leaped into the fire without being burned; flew in the air; made bread of stones; changed his shape; assumed two faces at once; converted himself into a pillar; caused closed doors to fly open spontaneously; made the vessels in a house move of themselves, etc.” The Jesuit Delrio laments that credulous princes, otherwise of pious repute, should have allowed diabolical tricks to be played before them, “as for example, things of iron, and silver goblets, or other heavy articles, to be moved by bounds, from one end of the table to the other, without the use of a magnet, or of any attachment.”* We believe WILL-POWER the most powerful of magnets. The existence of such magical power in certain persons is proved, but the existence of the Devil is a fiction, which no theology is able to demonstrate. 471-72
4- Re-animation of the Dead (475)
After-death revival 475 / Astral double after death 476 / Telepathy 477 / Prolonged burial of fakirs 477 / Premature burial – suspended animation 479 / The nature of death 480 / Resuscitation of the dead 482 / Jewish schools of magic 482 / After-death and trance states 484
Bearing ever in mind that we repudiate the idea of a miracle and returning once more to phenomena more serious, we would now ask what logical objection can be urged against the claim that the reanimation of the dead was accomplished by many thaumaturgists? The fakir described in the Franco-Americain, might have gone far enough to say that this will-power of man is so tremendously potential that it can reanimate a body apparently dead, by drawing back the flitting soul that has not yet quite ruptured the thread that through life had bound the two together. Dozens of such fakirs have allowed themselves to be buried alive before thousands of witnesses, and weeks afterward have been resuscitated. And if fakirs have the secret of this artificial process, identical with, or analogous to, hibernation, why not allow that their ancestors, the Gymnosophists, and Apollonius of Tyana, who had studied with the latter in India, and Jesus, and other prophets and seers, who all knew more about the mysteries of life and death than any of our modern men of science, might have resuscitated dead men and women? And being quite familiar with that power — that mysterious something “that science cannot yet understand,” as Professor Le Conte confesses — knowing, moreover, “whence it came and whither it was going,” Elisha, Jesus, Paul, and Apollonius, enthusiastic ascetics and learned initiates, might have recalled to life with ease any man who “was not dead but sleeping,” and that without any miracle.
If the molecules of the cadaver are imbued with the physical and chemical forces of the living organism,* what is to prevent them from being set again in motion, provided we know the nature of the vital force, and how to command it? The materialist can certainly offer no objection, for with him it is no question of reinfusing a soul. For him the soul has no existence, and the human body may be regarded simply as a vital engine — a locomotive which will start upon the application of heat and force, and stop when they are withdrawn. To the theologian the case offers greater difficulties, for, in his view, death cuts asunder the tie which binds soul and body, and the one can no more be returned into the other without miracle than the born infant can be compelled to resume its foetal life after parturition and the severing of the umbilicus. But the Hermetic philosopher stands between these two irreconcilable antagonists, “master of the situation. He knows the nature of the soul — a form composed of nervous fluid and atmospheric ether — and knows how the vital force can be made active or passive at will, so long as there is no final destruction of some necessary organ. The claims of Gaffarilus — which, by the bye, appeared so preposterous in 1650** — were later corroborated by science. 475
5- Mediumship and Mediatorship (485)
Occult forces 485 / Universal accounts of spiritual phenomena 486 / Mediumship and Mediatorship
About such men as Apollonius, Iamblichus, Plotinus, and Porphyry, there gathered this heavenly nimbus. It was evolved by the power of their own souls in close unison with their spirits; by the superhuman morality and sanctity of their lives, and aided by frequent interior ecstatic contemplation. Such holy men pure spiritual influences could approach. Radiating around an atmosphere of divine beneficence, they caused evil spirits to flee before them. Not only is it not possible for such to exist in their aura, but they cannot even remain in that of obsessed persons, if the thaumaturgist exercises his will, or even approaches them. This is MEDIATORSHIP, not mediumship. Such persons are temples in which dwells the spirit of the living God; but if the temple is defiled by the admission of an evil passion, thought or desire, the mediator falls into the sphere of sorcery. The door is opened; the pure spirits retire and the evil ones rush in. This is still mediatorship, evil as it is; the sorcerer, like the pure magician, forms his own aura and subjects to his will congenial inferior spirits.
But mediumship, as now understood and manifested, is a different thing. Circumstances, independent of his own volition, may, either at birth or subsequently, modify a person’s aura, so that strange manifestations, physical or mental, diabolical or angelic, may take place. Such mediumship, as well as the above-mentioned mediatorship, has existed on earth since the first appearance here of living man. The former is the yielding of weak, mortal flesh to the control and suggestions of spirits and intelligences other than one’s own immortal demon. It is literally obsession and possession; and mediums who pride themselves on being the faithful slaves of their “guides,” and who repudiate with indignation the idea of “controlling” the manifestations, “could not very well deny the fact without inconsistency. This mediumship is typified in the story of Eve succumbing to the reasonings of the serpent; of Pandora peeping in the forbidden casket and letting loose on the world, sorrow and evil, and by Mary Magdalene, who from having been obsessed by ‘seven devils’ was finally redeemed by the triumphant struggle of her immortal spirit, touched by the presence of a holy mediator, against the dweller.” This mediumship, whether beneficent or maleficent, is always passive. Happy are the pure in heart, who repel unconsciously, by that very cleanness of their inner nature, the dark spirits of evil. For verily they have no other weapons of defense but that inborn goodness and purity. Mediumism, as practiced in our days, is a more undesirable gift than the robe of Nessus. 488
6- Ancient and Modern Spiritualistic Phenomena (491)
Different gods mentioned in the Bible 491 / Different types of spirits evoked 492 / Mediums and mediators 494 / Types of spirits, elementals 495
We are forced to contradict, point-blank, such an assertion. They are identical only so far that the same forces and occult powers of nature produce them. But though these powers and forces may be, and most assuredly are, all directed by unseen intelligences, the latter differ more in essence, character, and purposes than mankind itself, composed, as it now stands, of white, black, brown, red, and yellow men, and numbering saints and criminals, geniuses and idiots. The writer may avail himself of the services of a tame orang-outang or a South Sea islander; but the fact alone that he has a servant makes neither the latter nor himself identical with Aristotle and Alexander. The writer compares Ezekiel “lifted up” and taken into the “east gate of the Lord’s house,”** with the levitations of certain mediums, and the three Hebrew youths in the “burning fiery furnace,” with other fire-proof mediums; the John King “spirit-light” is assimilated with the “burning lamp” of Abraham; and finally, after many such comparisons, the case of the Davenport Brothers, released from the jail of Oswego, is confronted with that of Peter delivered from prison by the “angel of the Lord”! 492
7- Levitation (496)
Mesmerism, mediumship and magnetism 499 / Levitation esoterically explained 500
Thus levitation, we will say, must always occur in obedience to law — a law as inexorable as that which makes a body unaffected by it remain upon the ground. And where should we seek for that law outside of the theory of molecular attraction? It is a scientific hypothesis that the form of force which first brings nebulous or star matter together into a whirling vortex is electricity; and modern chemistry is being totally reconstructed upon the theory of electric polarities of atoms. The waterspout, the tornado, the whirlwind, the cyclone, and the hurricane, are all doubtless the result of electrical action. This phenomenon has been studied from above as well as from below, observations having been made both upon the ground and from a balloon floating above the vortex of a thunder-storm.
Observe now, that this force, under the conditions of a dry and warm atmosphere at the earth’s surface, can accumulate a dynamic energy capable of lifting enormous bodies of water, of compressing the particles of atmosphere, and of sweeping across a country, tearing up forests, lifting rocks, and scattering buildings in fragments over the ground. Wild’s electric machine causes induced currents of magneto-electricity so enormously powerful as to produce light by which small print may be read, on a dark night, at a distance of two miles from the place where it is operating. 496-97
8- Alchemy on the Elixir of Life, the Universal Solvent and the Philosopher’s Stone (502)
Perpetual motion 502 / The elixir of life 503 / Esoteric and scientific formulas 506 / Tetraktys 507 / Smaragdine tablet 508
We may say the same of the elixir of life, by which is understood physical life, the soul being of course deathless only by reason of its divine immortal union with spirit. But continual or perpetual does not mean endless. The kabalists have never claimed that either an endless physical life or unending motion is possible. The Hermetic axiom maintains that only the First Cause and its direct emanations, our spirits (scintillas from the eternal central sun which will be reabsorbed by it at the end of time) are incorruptible and eternal. But, in possession of a knowledge of occult natural forces, yet undiscovered by the materialists, they asserted that both physical life and mechanical motion could be prolonged indefinitely. The philosophers’ stone had more than one meaning attached to its mysterious origin. Says Professor Wilder: “The study of alchemy was even more universal than the several writers upon it appear to have known, and was always the auxiliary of, if not identical with, the occult sciences of magic, necromancy, and astrology; probably from the same fact that they were originally but forms of a spiritualism which was generally extant in all ages of human history.”
Our greatest wonder is, that the very men who view the human body simply as a “digesting machine,” should object to the idea that if some equivalent for metalline could be applied between its molecules, it should run without friction. Man’s body is taken from the earth, or dust, according to Genesis; which allegory bars the claims of modern analysts to original discovery of the nature of the inorganic constituents of human body. If the author of Genesis knew this, and Aristotle taught the identity between the life-principle of plants, animals, and men, our affiliation with mother earth seems to have been settled long ago. 502
9- Ancient Science validated by Modern Discoveries (510)
Chinese printing 513 / Numbers and colors and sound 513
Professor Roscoe, visiting Kirchhoff and Bunsen when they were making their great discoveries of the nature of the Fraunhoffer lines, says that it flashed upon his mind at once that there is iron in the sun; therein presenting one more evidence to add to a million predecessors, that great discoveries usually come with a flash, and not by induction. There are many more flashes in store for us. It may be found, perhaps, that one of the last sparkles of modern science — the beautiful green spectrum of silver — is nothing new, but was, notwithstanding the paucity “and great inferiority of their optical instruments,” well known to the ancient chemists and physicists. Silver and green were associated together as far back as the days of Hermes. Luna, or Astarte (the Hermetic silver), is one of the two chief symbols of the Rosicrucians. It is a Hermetic axiom, that “the cause of the splendor and variety of colors lies deep in the affinities of nature; and that there is a singular and mysterious alliance between color and sound.” The kabalists place their “middle nature” in direct relation with the moon; and the green ray occupies the centre point between the others, being placed in the middle of the spectrum. The Egyptian priests chanted the seven vowels as a hymn addressed to Serapis;* and at the sound of the seventh vowel, as at the “seventh ray” of the rising sun, the statue of Memnon responded. Recent discoveries have proved the wonderful properties of the blue-violet light — the seventh ray of the prismatic spectrum, the most powerfully chemical of all, which corresponds with the highest note in the musical scale. The Rosicrucian theory, that the whole universe is a musical instrument, is the Pythagorean doctrine of the music of the spheres. Sounds and colors are all spiritual numerals; as the seven prismatic rays proceed from one spot in heaven, so the seven powers of nature, each of them a number, are the seven radiations of the Unity, the central, spiritual SUN.
“Happy is he who comprehends the spiritual numerals, and perceives their mighty influence!” exclaims Plato. And happy, we may add, is he who, treading the maze of force-correlations, does not neglect to trace them to this invisible Sun! * “Book of Ser Marco Polo,” vol. i., pp. 133-135. 513-514