Chapter 8 – (Some Mysteries of Nature) – Spiritual Aspects of Cosmology, Astronomy, and Astrology
“This doctrine of God being the universal mind diffused through all things, underlies all ancient philosophies.” (290)
The title or contents page don’t really give you an indication of what the chapter is about. It’s quite tight and focused, more focused than the previous chapter, therefore it’s one of the tightest chapters of volume one. So here we have the first major exposition of Blavatsky’s philosophy of astrology, which presumably influenced all the theosophist astrologers who had such a major impact in the field.
Despite the very vague title, chapter 8 is one of the more linear, clearest, straightforward chapters in the book; no major difficulties.
1- Modern Scientific Theories in Ancient Texts (p.253)
Creation of the Universe according to the Hermetica 255/ Evolution according to the Hermetica 257/ Substantial Monism 258/ Metaphysics of Light 258
But to descend from universals to particulars, from the ancient theory of planetary evolution to the evolution of plant and animal life, as opposed to the theory of special creation, what does Mr. Proctor call the following language of Hermes but an anticipation of the modern theory of evolution of species? “When God had filled his powerful hands with those things which are in nature, and in that which compasseth nature, then shutting them close again, he said: ‘Receive from me, O holy earth! that art ordained to be the mother of all, lest thou shouldst want anything’; when presently opening such hands as it becomes a God to have, he poured down all that was necessary to the constitution of things.” Here we have primeval matter imbued with “the promise and potency of every future form of life,” and the earth declared to be the predestined mother of everything that should thenceforth spring from her bosom.
More definite is the language of Marcus Antoninus in his discourse to himself. “The nature of the universe delights not in anything so much as to alter all things, and present them under another form. This is her conceit to play one game and begin another. Matter is placed before her like a piece of wax and she shapes it to all forms and figures. Now she makes a bird, then out of the bird a beast — now a flower, then a frog, and she is pleased with her own magical performances as men are with their own fancies.”*
Before any of our modern teachers thought of evolution, the ancients taught us, through Hermes, that nothing can be abrupt in nature; that she never proceeds by jumps and starts, that everything in her works is slow harmony, and that there is nothing sudden — not even violent death. 257
2- Astrology as a Science (259)
Astrology as a science 260 / Prophecy of Nostradamus explained 260 / Chaldeans knew of Saturn three rings and Jupiter’s Four Satellites 261 / Ancient myths explain astronomy 262 / Neoplatonic Demiurgical Trinity – Zeus 263 / Diana Moon Goddess Symbolism 264 / Universal beliefs concerning the Sapphire 264 / Symbolism of Diana and the Moon 266 / Astrology – Fables of the Twelve Houses 268
Mr. Proctor thinks that the system of astrology “was formed gradually and perhaps tentatively.” Some influences may have been inferred from observed events, the fate of this or that king or chief, guiding astrologers in assigning particular influences to such planetary aspects as were presented at the time of his nativity. Others may have been invented, and afterward have found general acceptance, because confirmed by some curious coincidences.
A witty joke may sound very prettily, even in a learned treatise, and the word “coincidence” may be applied to anything we are unwilling to accept. But a sophism is not a truism; still less is it a mathematical demonstration, which alone ought to serve as a beacon — to astronomers, at least. Astrology is a science as infallible as astronomy itself, with the condition, however, that its interpreters must be equally infallible; and it is this condition, sine qua non, so very difficult of realization, that has always proved a stumbling-block to both. Astrology is to exact astronomy what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter, and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit. It is the old struggle between the Platonic and Aristotelean schools, and it is not in our century of Sadducean skepticism that the former will prevail over the latter. 260
3- Solar Magnetism (270)
Light in Genesis 270 / No Heat or Gravitation in the Sun 271 / Kabalistic theory of heat and gravitation 272 / Effects of the Moon 273
The kabalistic heresies receive an unexpected support in the heterodox theories of General Pleasonton. According to his opinions (which he supports on far more unimpeachable facts than orthodox scientists theirs) the space between the sun and the earth must be filled with a material medium, which, so far as we can judge from his description, answers to our kabalistic astral light. The passage of light through this must produce enormous friction. Friction generates electricity, and it is this electricity and its correlative magnetism which forms those tremendous forces of nature that produce in, on, and about our planet the various changes which we everywhere encounter. He proves that terrestrial heat cannot be directly derived from the sun, for heat ascends. The force by which heat is effected is a repellent one, he says, and as it is associated with positive electricity, it is attracted to the upper atmosphere by its negative electricity, always associated with cold, which is opposed to positive electricity. He strengthens his position by showing that the earth, which when covered with snow cannot be affected by the sun’s rays, is warmest where the snow is deepest. This he explains upon the theory that the radiation of heat from the interior of the earth, positively electrified, meeting at the surface of the earth with the snow in contact with it, negatively electrified, produces the heat.
Thus he shows that it is not at all to the sun that we are indebted for light and heat; that light is a creation sui generis, which sprung into existence at the instant when the Deity willed, and uttered the fiat: “Let there be light”; and that it is this independent material agent which produces heat by friction, on account of its enormous and incessant velocity. In short, it is the first kabalistic emanation to which General Pleasonton introduces us, that Sephira or divine Intelligence (the female principle), which, in unity with En-Soph, or divine wisdom (male principle) produced every thing visible and invisible. He laughs at the current theory of the incandescence of the sun and its gaseous substance. The reflection from the photosphere of the sun, he says, passing through planetary and stellar spaces, must have thus created a vast amount of electricity and magnetism. Electricity, by the union of its opposite polarities, evolves heat and imparts magnetism to all substances capable of receiving it. The sun, planets, stars, and nebulae are all magnets, etc. 272
4- Cosmic Nature of Epidemics (274)
Esoteric Aspects of Epidemics 274 /
Again, the collective character of mental phenomena is illustrated by an anomalous psychological condition invading and dominating over thousands upon thousands, depriving them of everything but automatic action, and giving rise to the popular opinion of demoniacal possession, an opinion in some sense justified by the satanic passions, emotions, and acts which accompany the condition. At one period, the aggregate tendency is to retirement and contemplation; hence, the countless votaries of monachism and anchoretism; at another the mania is directed toward action, having for its proposed end some utopian scheme, equally impracticable and useless; hence, the myriads who have forsaken their kindred, their homes, and their country, to seek a land whose stones were gold, or to wage exterminating war for the possession of worthless cities and trackless deserts.** 275
5- Cosmic Aspects of Universal Magnetism (p. 280)
Universal Fluid 280 / Magnetism, gravity, nature of light 282 / Magnetism 282
“The mistake we make in some science we have specially cultivated,” says Bulwer-Lytton, “is often only to be seen by the light of a separate science as especially cultivated by another.”**
Nothing can be easier accounted for than the highest possibilities of magic. By the radiant light of the universal magnetic ocean, whose electric waves bind the cosmos together, and in their ceaseless motion penetrate every atom and molecule of the boundless creation, the disciples of mesmerism — howbeit insufficient their various experiments — intuitionally perceive the alpha and omega of the great mystery. Alone, the study of this agent, which is the divine breath, can unlock the secrets of psychology and physiology, of cosmical and spiritual phenomena. 282
6- Elementals and Universal Ether (284)
The universal ether was not, in their eyes, simply a something stretching, tenantless, throughout the expanse of heaven; it was a boundless ocean peopled like our familiar seas with monstrous and minor creatures, and having in its every molecule the germs of life. Like the finny tribes which swarm in our oceans and smaller bodies of water, each kind having its habitat in some spot to which it is curiously adapted, some friendly and some inimical to man, some pleasant and some frightful to behold, some seeking the refuge of quiet nooks and land-locked harbors, and some traversing great areas of water, the various races of the elemental spirits were believed by them to inhabit the different portions of the great ethereal ocean, and to be exactly adapted to their respective conditions. 284
7- Buddhist Cosmology (288)
Even the so-called fabulous narratives of certain Buddhistical books, when stripped of their allegorical meaning, are found to be the secret doctrines taught by Pythagoras. In the Pali Books called the Jutakas, are given the 550 incarnations or metempsychoses of Buddha. They narrate how he has appeared in every form of animal life, and animated every sentient being on earth, from infinitesimal insect to the bird, the beast, and finally man, the microcosmic image of God on earth. Must this be taken literally; is it intended as a description of the actual transformations and existence of one and the same individual immortal, divine spirit, which by turns has animated every kind of sentient being? 292
Richard A. Proctor’s Our Place among Infinities 253 and General Pleasonton’s book, “The Influence of the Blue Ray of the Sunlight, and of the Blue Color of the Sky, in developing Animal and Vegetable Life,” receive copious commentary.