The Theosophical Society in America

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A Miracle Worker of To-Day

[Reprinted from the Pall Mall Gazette (London), April  21, 1884, p. 6.]


Colonel Olcott, president of the Theosophical Society, is at present in London on a mission from the Sinhalese Buddhists, who have considerable reason to complain of the manner in which they have been denied justice in their disputes with the local Roman Catholics.  With that aspect of Colonel Olcott’s mission, however, we do not propose to deal to-day.  Suffice it to say, that Colonel Olcott and the petitioning Buddhists ask for nothing that should not be conceded as a matter of simple right to any body of religionists in any part of her Majesty’s dominions.  Much more interesting than the champion of the aggrieved Buddhists of Ceylon is Colonel Olcott as the Apostle Paul of theosophy, an archaic philosophy which, taking its rise in the remote regions of Thibet, is destined, in the fervent faith of its disciples, to spread over the whole earth.  Colonel Olcott’s account of his conversion affords a key to the whole of his present mission.  The Colonel --- a New Yorker, a prosperous lawyer, well-to-do in this world’s goods, and with a prospect, almost amounting to a certainty, of being appointed State Director of Insurance of New York, with an honourable record of gallant services performed in the American Civil War --- was much attracted by the study of Eastern philosophy.

The reason why Colonel Olcott abandoned his professional career in the United States was as follows: --- One night he had been meditating deeply and long upon the strange problems of Oriental philosophy.  He had wondered whether the mysterious teachings of Mdme. Blavatsky were after all nothing more than the illusions of an overwrought brain, or whether they had really been revealed to her by those weird Mahatmas --- a race of devotees dwelling in the remote fastnesses of the Thibetan Himalayas, who are said to have preserved intact for the benefit of mankind the invaluable deposits of archaic spiritual truth to be revealed in “the fulness of the times.”  His judgment inclined towards the latter alternative.  But if theosophy as expounded by its latest hierophant were true, then was it not his duty to forsake all that he had, and leaving behind him the busy Western world, with its distracting influences which indisposed the mind to the perception of pure spiritual truth, hasten to the East, the chosen home of repose and speculative calm?  Yet should a step so momentous be taken without ample confirmation; nay, without absolute certainty of the truth for which he was expected to sacrifice all?  Could such absolute certainty be vouchsafed to mortal man?  Colonel Olcott pondered long, revolving these and similar questions, when suddenly he became aware of the presence of a mysterious visitant in the room.  The door was closed, the window was shut, no mortal footstep had been heard on the stair; yet there, clearly visible in the lamplight, stood the palpable form of a venerable Oriental.  In a moment Colonel Olcott knew that his unspoken prayer had been answered.  He was face to face with one of the mysterious brotherhood of the Thibetan mountains, a Mahatma who from his distant ashrum had noted the mute entreaty of his soul, and hastened across ocean and continent to remove his lurking doubts.  The Mahatma entered into friendly conversation with his American disciple, and in the course of half an hour succeeded in convincing him beyond the possibility of doubt that Mdme. Blavatsky’s testimonies concerning the existence of the Mahatmas and the mission which invited him were simple transcripts of the literal truth.  Ere the sudden visit was over, Colonel Olcott was a fast adherent of the new philosophy so strangely confirmed.  But when the Mahatma rose to go, the natural man reasserted itself.  “Would you not,” he asked, “before you go, leave me some tangible token of your presence, some proof that this has been no maya --- the illusion of overstrained sense?  Give me something to keep that I may touch and handle.”  The Mahatma smiled a kindly smile; then removing his turban he wrought upon it a marvellous transformation.  Colonel Olcott saw the shadowy folds of the Eastern headgear thicken and materialize under the fingers of his guest, until at last the shadow became substance, and a substantial turban rested on the head of the spectre.  The Mahatma then handed the turban to the astonished Colonel and vanished as mysteriously as he had appeared.  That turban Colonel Olcott carries about with him to this day, he has it at the present moment, and it can be seen by the unbelieving, “the outward and visible sign” of the mysterious visit that completed his conversion.  With that turban in his hand Colonel Olcott could doubt no longer.  He ultimately threw up all his business engagements, and left New York for Hindostan.  There he has remained until recently a weariless apostle of the theosophic faith which has the Mahatmas of the Himalayas as its sage oracles and Mdme. Blavatsky as one of its Delphic priestesses.  Such is the story which is told concerning Olcott’s conversion, and, however strange it may be, it is the only explanation which is as yet forthcoming as to how a shrewd Yankee editor --- for Colonel Olcott edited the agricultural department of the New York Tribute, under the late Horace Greeley --- has been for the last six years engaged in carrying on an active apostolate in India and Ceylon in favour of the ancient mysterious doctrines which are popularly known as theosophy.  Colonel Olcott, who is at present, as we have already stated, in this country on an errand to the Colonial Office, in order to secure protection for the injured Sinhalese Buddhists, is about to undertake a mission through Burmah on the invitation of his Burmese Majesty, with a view to purifying and reviving Buddhism.  After this tour through Burmah he proposes to make an itinerary through Siam.  Subsequently he may visit China and Thibet.  Mr. Sinnett vouches for the fact that Colonel Olcott, in the course of his tours in India and Ceylon, performed more miracles --- using that term, of course, in its popular and unscientific sense, for the theosophists stoutly deny that there are such things as miracles contra naturam --- than are recorded in the whole of the Gospels.  Colonel Olcott himself modestly places the number of his psycopathic treatments at 8,000 in thirteen months.  During that period he is said to have performed almost every cure as recorded in Old or New Testament.  He has made the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the blind to see; the paralysed have been restored to the full use of their limbs, the cripples have walked; and, although he cannot boast of having raised the dead or healed a leper, he asserts that he cured a man suffering from elephantiasis, who was the nearest approach to a leper which he had to do with.  Colonel Olcott is rather chary of speaking of these cures, fearing, not unnaturally, that his life may become a burden to him if it is known that a “miracle-worker” of such power is within hailing distance of the innumerable sick and afflicted of London.  During his visit to our office Colonel Olcott obligingly explained to our representative the method of healing which he pursued.  Its central principle seemed to be that of establishing a magnetic current between the right and left hands of the operator which traverses the patient and imparts the surplus vitality of the operator.  Almost all disease, in Colonel Olcott’s opinion, arises from deficient local vitality, and can be removed by influx of fresh life from another person.  Of course, this in time tells upon the vital force of the healer, and Colonel Olcott himself was at the close of his healing campaign nearly paralyzed, and would, he maintains, have been altogether so but for the timely warning of his watchful Mahatma, who ordered him to desist before the mischief had gone too far.  As it was, he had paralysis for some time in the forefinger of his right hand; but he is now perfectly recovered.  During his recent stay in Nice, he asserts, he was the means of effecting a very remarkable cure on the person of Princess W., a Russian lady who had been paralysed in her right arm and leg for seventeen years.  Colonel Olcott in the course of fifteen minutes was able to restore to her the perfect use of both limbs, on which physicians had so long experimented in vain.  Of these gifts, however, Colonel Olcott makes but small account.  They are incidental, nor does he think that he is exceptionally gifted in this respect.  Similar powers may be exercised by almost any healthy person, provided they go the right way about it.  The Colonel was even obliging enough to instruct our representative how to work miracles; but hitherto, whether owing to lack of experience on his part or to the uncompromising nature of the human material on whom he tried his newly acquired art, the experiments so far have not proved successful.  Colonel Olcott before he left India enjoyed another remarkable experience in the shape of a visit from another Mahatma.  It was at Lahore, when he was in his tent at night, that he was visited by the sage in question in propria persona.  He recognized the person in a moment, and they entered at once into a lively conversation, at the close of which the Mahatma said, “You wanted something tangible when first you met your present teacher.  You are going to Europe.  Here, I will give you something to take to Sinnett as a message from me.”  With that the Mahatma encircled the Colonel’s palm with the finger-tips of his right hand, and there gradually grew into substance, precipitated as it were out of the thin air, a letter written in English characters, enfolded in Chinese silk, and addressed to Mr. Sinnett.  Of the labours of this gentleman on behalf of theosophy in the benighted West, the recluses in the Himalayas are gratefully conscious.  Of these and many other wonders too numerous here to tell, as well as the story of the strange propaganda which this American Colonel is successfully carrying on in the remote East, we must say nothing at present.  Colonel Olcott himself may take an opportunity during his visit of setting forth the latest light --- the light of theosophy --- in the midst of the modern Babylon.  At present it is sufficient to repeat for the benefit of our readers the remarkable story which this American apostle of Eastern occultism is prepared to uphold against all the gibes of the sceptical capital of the Western world.

Henry S. Olcott's Account of Meeting Ooton Liatto

[an excerpt from Comunications: Colonel Olcott Meets the Brothers: An Unpublished Letter,
Theosophical History, (Fullerton, CA) January 1994, pp 6-9.]

"Wonder treads upon wonder. I wrote an account of my [first] interview with the Brother I took for a Hindoo Brahmin, and was sorry enough afterwards I had said a word about it, either in letter or lecture. [Then] I began to doubt my own senses and fancy the scene had all been an objective hallucination but I have seen him again yesterday and another man was with him.

"Other persons have seen this man in New York. He is not a Brahmin, but a swarthy Cypriote. I did not ask him before of what country he was.

"I was reading in my room yesterday (Sunday) when there came a tap at the door. I said 'come in' and then entered the Brother with another dark skinned gentleman of about fifty with a bushy gray beard and eye brows.

"We took cigars and chatted for a while.

"He said he would show me the production of flowers as the adepts do it. At the same time pointing to the air, fancy --- the shadowy outlines of flower after flower and leaf after leaf grew out of nothing. The room was perfectly light; in fact the sun was shining in. The flowers grew solid. A beautiful perfume saturated the air. They were suspended as the down of a thistle in the air; each separate from the other. Then they formed themselves into bouquets and a splendid large one of roses, lilies of the valley, camelias, jessamine and carnations floated down and placed itself in my hand. Then the others separated again and fell in a shower to the floor. I was stupefied with the manifestation.

"[Then] as he spoke [again] rain drops began pattering around us in the room and positively a drenching shower was falling about us. The carpet was soaked and so were my clothes, the books on the table, and the bronzes, and clock, and photos on the mantel piece. But neither of the Brothers received a drop.

"They sat there and quietly smoked their cigars, while mine became too wet to burn. I just sat and looked at them in a sort of stupid daze. They seemed to enjoy my surprise but smoked on and said nothing. Finally the younger of the two (who gave me his name as Ooton Liatto) said I need not worry. Nothing would be damaged. The shower ceased as suddenly as it had begun. Then the elder man took out of his pocket a painted lacquered case. Upon opening the case a round flat concave crystal was displayed to view. He told me to look in it.

"Holding it a few inches from my eye and shading my eye from the light so that there might be no reflected rays cast upon the glass, the box exhaled a strong spicy aromatic odor much like sandal wood but still not just that. Whatever I wished to see, he said I need simply think of, only taking care to think of but one thing at a time. I did as directed.

"I thought of my dead mother as she used to sit with me twenty years ago. I saw as it were a door in the far distance. It came nearer and nearer, and grew plainer until I lost consciousness of external objects and seemed to be in the very room I had in mind. Details long forgotten, pictures, furniture, came into view. My mother sat there, and the conversation of twenty years ago was renewed. I thought of a landscape --- lo! I stood upon the spot and mountain, valley, river, and buildings lay smiling before me. I was there --- not in my room in 34th Street.

"So for more than an hour, the thing went on. I seemed able to flit from one clime to another with the speed of thought, and to call up any spirit I wished to talk with. Things too that had occurred to me when out of the body (all recollection of which had been obliterated upon the return of my spirit to flesh) were shown me. But these were only a few and unimportant, for when I seemed to be growing inquisitive, some power prevented my seeing anything.

"Was I hallucinated? No sir, I was not. At least I can't imagine a person being hallucinated and still be in such a state of mental activity as I was in. I have never been psychologized. I am like cast iron so far as sensitiveness to mesmeric influence while I used to be a strong mesmeriser myself.

"The seance being over as I supposed, I asked Liatto if he knew Madam B. He stared too. But as I thought he ought to know her, since her flat was in the same house, I went on to discant [comment] upon her character, her virtues, her intellectuality. The elder Brother asked me to present their compliments to Madam and say that with her permission they would call upon her.

"I ran down stairs, rushed into Madam's parlour and there sat these two identical men smoking with her and chatting as quietly as if they had been old friends. Madam motioned to me as if I had better not come in, as if they had private business to talk over. I stood transfixed looking from one to another in dumb amazement. I glanced [at] the ceiling (my rooms are over Madame B's) but they had not tumbled through.

"Madam said, 'What the Devil are you staring at Olcott? What's the matter? You must be crazy.' I said nothing but rushed up stairs again, tore open my door and the men were not there. I ran down again; they had disappeared. I heard the front door close, looked out of the window and saw them just turning the corner. Madam said they had been with her for more than an hour. And that is all she would tell me about them.

"When I showed her my wet clothes and the bouquet of flowers that remained in evidence that I had not been hallucinated, she only said, 'That's nothing remarkable. Ask me no questions for I shall tell you nothing. Let the Brothers do what they please for you, I shan't have my name put out again as a medium.'

"In a half hour from the time the two men left, there was not a drop of moisture in the room nor a shade of dampness to indicate that there had been a shower. But my clothes stayed wet and had to be dried before the fire."

The above extracts have been transcribed from the original source but material not relevant to the subject has been silently deleted. Explanatory words added by me are enclosed within brackets.

Vampire

Adyar Pamphlet No 112 

By H. S. Olcott
[Reprinted from The Theosophist, Vol XII, 1891]
Theosophical Publishing House Adyar, Chennai (Madras) India

 

Of all the forms of the real or supposed intercourse between the living and dead, that of the vampire is the most loathsome. The horrid physical effects which follow after the burial of a corpse, have no doubt, had much to do in creating the sentiment of disgust and terror which associates with the thought of this return of the dead to prey upon the living. And it is  another argument in favour of cremation—if any were needed by thoughtful persons—that there are no vampires save in countries where the dead are buried. We do not hear of Hindu vampires, but where such cases occur in India, it turns out that the revenant is a deceased Mussalman, Christian, or Jew, whose body has been interred. Some years ago the grandmother of our Mr Gopalacharlu had a neighbour, a Hindu woman, who was supposed to have been obsessed by a devil (pis’acha). For about a year she would find herself every morning on awakening deprived of all strength, pale and anæmic. Twice becoming pregnant, she had miscarriages. Finally, resort was had to a Mussalman mantriki, or exorcist, who, by arts known to himself, discovered that the “control” was a deceased man of his own  Faith. He went secretly to the country, opened the grave of the suspect, found the corpse fresh and life-like, made a cut on its hand near the thumb and found fresh blood flowed spurting out from the wound. He then performed the usual placatory rites, recited his mantrams, and drove the phantom away from his victim and back to its grave. The woman recovered, and no fresh victim was visited.


I do not know the derivation of the word vampire. In French it is spelt as in English; in Spanish and Italian vampiro; in German and Danish vampire; in Serb Wampire, wampira, wukodlak; in Wallachian murony; in Turkish massacet; in Modern Greek bronkolakas, and in several other ways; its Polish name is upior, Slavonic upir, and Russian googooka. The “Am. Cyclopædia” calls it “a fabulous creature,” but the pious Benedictine writer, Dom Calmet, describes it as persons “who have been dead a considerable time, sometimes more, sometimes less; who leave their tombs, and come and disturb the living, sucking their blood, appearing to them, making a noise at their doors and in their houses, and often causing their  death”. They usually, he informs us, visit their relatives and those in the prime of life and full health and vigour.


In reading upon this gruesome subject, I have been struck with the apparent substantiation of certain facts, viz:


1. The vampire elementary always attacks the robust;

2. The signs of the obsession are invariably nervous prostration and anæmia, and usually a slight puncture over the jugular vein;

3. The corpse of the suspected vampire, when examined, appears well-nourished with healthy blood, and presents the appearance of one in cataleptic sleep, rather than of death.

4. If a pointed stake or weapon be thrust through the heart, the corpse cries out and often writhes in agony;

5. If the corpse be cremated, the vampire ceases to trouble. I have found no exception stated in this respect.


All these are indications that our problem has to deal not with a dead, but with a half-dead, person: in short, that the defunct is in catalepsy or some other form of suspended animation. The phantom which sucks the blood of the living appears to the eye, creates noisy and other phenomena in and about houses, and disappears when the corpse is burnt, is an astral, not a physical shape, a body of sublimated, not one of concrete, matter: in short, D’Assier’s posthumous phantom, the survivor of the living phantom, or “double,” “doppelgänger” or “perisprit,” as you like to call it. The vampire, then, is divisible into two factors, the inert corpse and the projectible double, or astral body: it is, therefore, a proper subject of scientific enquiry.


The first stage of verification is the existence of an astral human double which is capable of being projected from the body of the living man. This is the line of proof followed out by D’Assier in his Posthumous Humanity, which most interesting work should be studied by all who wish to know the evidence and the deductions therefrom of a Positivist man of science. His theory—but before passing on to theories, we may as well confine ourselves to a few out of the mass of facts that are available. The literature of Vampirism is large and copious, covering the records of many countries and epochs. As to the witnesses, “their name is legion”; as to their trustworthiness , all that can be said is that, in nearly all cases where the ecclesiastical or political authorities intervened, there was an inquest conducted at least under the forms of law. The deaths of the victims were attested, their graves and those of the alleged vampires were opened, the fresh and ruddy condition of the corpses of the latter recognized, the spurting of fresh blood from them, and the cries or other signs of momentarily revived physical vitality, when the pointed stake or the executioner’s sword was driven through the heart, placed upon the record of the inquest. If we are to open a scientific enquiry by first violating the canon of science that corroborative evidence of probability cannot be put aside, but should be kept as unproved theory awaiting the final verdict, then it is but waste of energy to take up the research at all. There are those who straightaway scout all testimony with respect to witchcraft and sorcery as of necessity false and puerile, and such has been the fate of modern Spiritualism, mesmerism, psychometry and various other branches of Occult Science. But times are changing, and men—especially hypnotists—changing with them. Spiritualism survives its thousand “final collapses,” psychometry has won its foothold, Reichenbach’s vindication has commenced, mesmerism is stronger because on a more scientific basis than ever, magic and sorcery are discussed as thinkable phases of practical psychology, and Theosophy, that universal solvent of mysteries and nursing-mother of every branch of psychical science, has gained every year fifty times the influence it has ever lost by the most bitter attacks of its cleverest antagonists. We may safely venture, then, to quietly discuss vampirism as one of group of psychical phenomena.


I note at the start two points, viz., that the most incredulous writers concede that the exhumed bodies have, or may have, been found in a preserved state, which they ascribe to either the preservative property of the soil, or the burial alive. As for the noctambulation of the phantom, its vampirising the living, and its making noisy “spiritual” phenomena, they dismiss all with the sneer of denial and the charge of falsification by the witnesses. It is true that a living man—a yogi or fakir–can be resuscitated after inhumation for several weeks. Ranjit Singh’s startling case at Lahore is historical and perfectly attested by Sir Claude Wade, Dr Macgregor and other unimpeachable eye-witnesses. It is, therefore, possible that an apparently dead man may be buried for an indefinite time without extinction of life, if the person be all the time in that state of human hibernation known as Samadhi—a state when the lungs need no air, because respiration is suspended, and the heart propels no blood through the arteries, because the human clock is stopped. The vampire’s body may, therefore lie fresh and rosy in the grave, so long as it can draw to itself nutriment to counteract the waste by chemical and subtler actions which operate upon the tissues, even in Samadhi. The Lahore yogi was wasted to a skeleton when exhumed, though he had had no chance to breathe during the whole six weeks of his inhumation. In the Indian case of vampirism, given on Mr Gopalacharlu’s authority, this freshness and plethoric fullness of the blood vessels existed after nearly a year’s stay of the corpse in the grave. This was unnatural, and the theory of common catalepsy does not apply. Whence was blood-food derived, if not from the poor Hindu woman whose blood had been drawn and nervous force thoroughly drained away during the same period, and who was restored to health after the powerful will of the mantriki, and his ceremonial ritual, had driven the horrid phantom back into his grave to rot away with its corpse. In my translation of D’Assier’s book, I quote (p 274) from Eliphas Levi’s Dogme et Rituel, etc., his diagnosis

of the Vampire.


After death, then the divine spirit which animated man returns alone to heaven, and leaves upon earth and in the atmosphere two corpses, one terrestrial and elementary, the other aerial and related to the stars; the one already inert, the other still animated by the universal movement of the soul of the world, but foredoomed to die slowly, as absorbed by the astral powers which produced it. When a man has lived a good life, the astral corpse evaporates like a pure incense mounting towards the higher regions; but if the man has lived in crime, his astral corpse, which holds him prisoner, seeks still the objects of its passions and yearns to resume the earthly life.


During life it is the body which develops and nourishes the astral body; in the case of vampires the process is reversed, for the corpse, being confined in its coffin and by the superincumbent soil, cannot walk about, so the double, being an entity of the “Fourth Dimension,” hence not impeded by either coffin, tomb or grave-soil, is free to move about in search of its blood-food, and to transmit it by sympathetic psychical infusion to the cadaver, now become its mere dwelling-convenience.


Dr Scoffern, author of Stray Leaves of Science and Folk-Lore, quotes (p 353) from Newbridge—a twelfth century English authority—the case of a man of Bucks who appeared bodily to his wife and others after death, and worked mischief, but whose phantom was appeased when the Bishop of Lincoln laid upon the disinterred corpse a written form of absolution.


Another case was that of a vampire at Berwick, whose nocturnal maraudings only ceased when his side had been pierced with a sharp stake, the heart extracted, the body cut up and cremated. The ancient Romans affirmed that “dead bodies of certain persons were subject to be allured from their graves by sorcerers, unless incremation had been performed or decomposition had actually taken place”. Lucan puts into the mouth of an enchantress an order to an evoked spirit, which supports this idea.


Dr. Scoffern makes the point that “no authentic information is available relative to the manner in which they (the vampires) leave their graves, or the way in which they go back to the same” (p 356). This is a paltry argument and only shows that he knows nothing of our modern “form manifestations,” or apparitions so solid that I could handle and weigh them, yet so evanescent that they sometimes melt away before one’s eyes. The vampire leaves the grave as an impalpable form, and “materializes” whenever it likes, the favoring atmosphere and psychical conditions existing. Dr Scoffern concludes his chapter on Vampires with the statement that two expedients are said to be efficacious for stopping a vampire’s ravages, viz., to have the grave beaten with a hazel twig, the operator being a virgin of not less than twenty-five years old. The other is to have the body dug up and burnt. “For some inexplicable reason,” he sneeringly observes, “the remedy of incremation is always practiced in lands where vampires do most abound.” Being a physician who evidently is ignorant of the existence of the astral counterpart to the physical body which may be separated from it for a time both before and after death, he fails to understand why cremation is found the one efficacious remedy for vampirism, the world over.


James Grant, in his Mysteries of all Nations, etc. (p 289), says that the popular belief was that vampirism was transmissible, like a sort of moral microbe, the victim turning vampire after his death under the impulse of a transmitted predisposition. This form of “superstition” created much anxiety in the public mind, “none knowing when he might be bitten by one of these hated demons, and be thereby transformed into a vampire”. And he confesses that: “Men of science bore testimony in favour of vampirism with seeming truthfulness and ability.” Why, then, object to our scientific contemporaries resuming a study which has been temporarily pushed into a corner by the rough hands of our materialistic sciolists?


Dr Ennemoser gives (History of Magic, ii 479) two authenticated accounts of vampirism in Hungary. In the first, the report is made by the bailiff of Kisilova, to the tribunal of Belgrade, which dispatched to the village two officers and the executioner to examine into the affair. An Imperial officer also went, expressly to be witness of the circumstance. A number of graves of those who had been dead six weeks were opened, and one corpse, that of an old man of sixty-two years of age, was found “with the eyes open, having a fine colour, with natural respiration, nevertheless motionless as the dead. The executioner drove a stake into his heart; they then raised a pile and reduced the corpse to ashes.” The deceased had appeared in the night to his son three days after his funeral, had demanded food, eaten it, and then disappeared; the second night after he had again appeared, and the son was found dead in his bed. On the same day five or six other persons had fallen suddenly ill in the village, and died one after the other in a few days. Dr Ennemoser’s other narrative relates to a bad case of vampirism in another Hungarian canton. A dead man named Arnald Paul, who formerly had been tormented by a Turkish vampire, turned vampire himself; on the thirtieth day after his death he vampirized and killed four persons, and on the fortieth day his body was exhumed.


‘His body was red, his hair, nails and beard had all grown again, and his veins were replete with fluid blood, which flowed (oozed?) from all parts of his body upon the winding-sheet which encompassed him. The Hadnagi,or baillie of the village, in whose presence the exhumation took place and who was skilled in vampirism, had, according to custom, a very sharp stake driven into the heart of the defunct Arnald Paul, and which pierced his body through and through, and made him, as they say, utter a frightful shriek, as if he had been alive (which of course, he was): that done, they cut off his head and burnt the whole body.’


They also cremated four bodies of other persons who had died of the vampire.


These precautions availed not, however, for three years later within the space of three months, seventeen persons of the same village, of both sexes and all ages, fell victims to vampirism. A close inquiry into this unprecedented survival of the scourge after resort to cremation, made by the doctors and surgeons, elicited the significant fact that the vampire Arnald Paul had not only sucked to death human beings, but also “several oxen, which the new vampires had eaten”. So it seems that the vampiric mania, like rabies, may be communicated through bacilli nourished in the bodies of animals, to other persons not touched by the first vampire, when they partake of the flesh of a vampirized beast. Recent experiments in the Paris hospitals in curing paralysis by transmission in a modified form through the body of a third person, appear to throw some light upon the psychical part of this subject.


Eliphas Levi gives to the vampire the very expressive title of “le somnambule de la tombe”. Certainly, the case of Arnald Paul has all the appearance of somnambulism. Levi furthermore affirms (Histoire de la Magie p 513) that

a person of sound mind and body need not fall a victim to a vampire if he or she has not during life abandoned himself or herself to it body and soul by some complicity in crime or some lawless passion.

The rule always holds that the pure in mind, heart and body, are beyond the reach of every species of evil magnetic influence, whether of magician, or sorcerer, “control,” vampire or mantriki: there must always be a joint in the physical or spiritual harness by which the maleficent current can enter and obsess. This is taught in the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, is affirmed by the ancient classics, and is sound common sense.

The one sweeping theory adopted by the Christian Church to account for every phase of abnormal psychical phenomena, vampirism included, is the action of the Bogey Man—the Devil. Nothing is easier than the use of this universal solvent. Unfortunately, however, nobody nowadays believes in that absurdity—nobody, at all events, who is in the least loyal to science. One never tires of reading such absurdly stubborn demonologists as Des Mouseaux, who detects the Devil behind the clairvoyant’s head, within the medium’s circle, even behind the mesmerizer’s chair. He devotes many pages of one of his books (La Magie au XIX me Siècle) to proving that poor Margarita Hauffe, the Seeress of Prevorst, was a pucca vampire; and, certainly, in the sense of her living upon the auric emanations of those about her, there is some reasonableness in the use of his term Magnetic Vampirism. We have the good Dr Kerner’s testimony to that effect. But as to her being obsessed by the Devil, there was never a greater libel, her angelically pure and spiritual life and teachings indicating that the source of her inspiration was divine, not devilish. This magnetic vampirism is practiced every day and hour in social, most especially in conjugal, intercourse: the weak absorb strength from the strong, the sickly from the robust, the aged from the young. One vampirizes by hand-shaking, by sitting close together, by sleeping in the same bed; the full brains of the clever are “sucked” by the spongy brains of the stupid. Throughout all these phases the law of natural equilibration asserts itself, as it does in the whole realm of physics. Great minds love isolation, from an instinctive feeling that if they live the life of the crowd, they will be sucked down to the crowd’s low level. It was this sense which dictated to the yogi and the hierophant, that he must seclude himself within the sanctum, or retire to the gupta (yogi’s cave), the jungle, or the mountain summit. The magnetic aura (tejas) of a sage or an adept is to his soul-starving disciples like mother’s milk to the babe, or a fountain of cool waters to the parched traveler of the desert.


The unqualified affirmation of the theory that the vampire corpse is the hibernating cadaver of a somnabule, was made by Mme Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled (i 449, et seq), and supported by a sufficient body of testimony. She makes it very clear that the corpse of the future vampire is in a magnetic stupor, and one of two possibilities may occur: the soul may either be attracted back into the body, in which case,

 

 

either the unhappy victim will writhe in the agonizing torture of suffocation, or, if he has been grossly material (i.e. having an overpowering affinity for physical existence), he becomes a vampire. The bicorporal life begins; and these unfortunate buried cataleptics sustain their miserable lives by having their astral bodies rob the life-blood from the living persons. The æthereal form can go wherever it pleases; and so long as it does not break the link which attaches it to the body, it is at liberty to wander about, either visible or invisible, and feed on human victims.


Pierant notices this invisible cord of connection between the buried but not decomposed body and the somnambulating double, and says: “This, perhaps, some day may be explained.” We may know how the results of the suction of the vitality of living persons are transmitted to the material body lying inert in the tomb, aiding it, in a manner, “to perpetuate the state of catalepsy”. As Dom Calmet sententiously remarks,

there are two different ways to destroy the belief in these pretended ghosts . . . .The first would be to explain the prodigies of vampirism by the physical causes. The second way is to deny totally the truth of all such stories.

Being a Catholic priest, he naturally adds: “The latter plan would be undoubtedly the most certain, as the most wise. [Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges, des Demons etc., Paris 1746]

We may now address ourselves to the enquiry whether M D’Assier has put forth a theory which explains on scientific lines the mystery of the link, or cord of communication between the body and the projected double. That there is such a tie or astral current, along which nutriment in the etherealized condition may be transmitted from the one to the other, seems probable, if not certain, from well known data. For example, many frequenters of mediumistic séances have seen liquids drunk by a “materialized form”—glasses of wine or beer, glasses of water or grog, etc—which disappeared from the glass in full view and were passed into the stomach of the medium, sitting at a distance in his cabinet. Ink or aniline liquids have been thrown upon the projected form, and found later staining the medium’s person. (I speak, of course, only of cases where the non-identity of the form and the medium was clearly proven.) Solid food has also been eaten by the form in full sight of the witnesses, and similarly disappeared. A mesmeric subject, in full rapport with the mesmerizer , tastes what is put into his mouth, smells what he smells, sees what he sees, and feels whatever painful or pleasant thing is done to the mesmerizer’s body. To all appearance the two bodies are united like one, by an invisible yet thoroughly effectual agent of communication. Though the sleeping subject be blindfolded and the mesmerizer stand behind her, or him, the community of physical and mental sensation is perfect. So also between twins is there in many, perhaps the majority of cases, a similar sympathetic relationship.

This tie is a something possessing properties peculiar to itself, else it would not serve as a bridge of communication; for naught is naught, and cannot, even by miracle, be turned into aught. Another, and this time infrangible, proof of the close connection between the physical and astral bodies, is the fact that a bruise or wound inflicted upon the latter form reacts upon the former. This is termed repercussion. The judicial annals of witchcraft and sorcery teem with proven facts of this kind. D’Assier quotes a number, and says the astral body—or living phantom, as he prefers to designate it—is the continuation of the other, with its form, habits, prejudices, etc. He might have added, its vices and virtues: for the moral tone of the body dominates completely the double, except when the double has been enslaved by the malignant magnetic power of a sorcerer, in which case it may be turned into a mere passive, stupefied agent. D’Assier says that its tissue usually disintegrates readily under the action of the physical, chemical and atmospheric forces which continually assail it, and re-enters, molecule by molecule, the universal planetary medium. This corroborates E Levi’s position. Says D’Assier:

Occasionally, it resists these destructive causes, continuing its struggle for existence beyond the tomb. We touch here upon the most curious phase of its history, for this brings us to the posthumous vampire.

After citing incidents which had been officially verified by special inquests of ecclesiastical, civil and military authorities, he says;

These facts bring into a new and clear light the physiognomy of the posthumous being. It is one of those cases where the fluidic being, instead of abandoning the body from which death has just separated it, persists in stopping with it and in living with it a new life, in which the parts are reversed. Thenceforth the struggle for existence continues beyond the tomb, with the same tenacity, the same brutal and selfish ferocity, one might say the same cynicism, as in living nature . . . Let us now examine what becomes of the blood aspired by the specter. We find here a repetition of what we have observed several times in the preceding chapters in connection with the living phantom. Its structure is bound so intimately with that of the body of which it is the image, that all absorption of liquid by the former passes at once into the organs of the latter. It must be the same in the phenomena of posthumous vampirism, since the post-sepulchral phantom is the continuation of the living phantom. All the blood swallowed by the specter passes instantly into the organs of the corpse which it has just left, and to which it returns as soon as its poaching work is finished. The constant arrival of this vivifying fluid, which at once disseminates itself through the circulation, prevents putrefaction, preserves in the limbs their natural suppleness, and in the flesh its fresh and reddish tint. Under this action is seen to continue a sort of vegetative life which causes the hair and nails to grow, forms a new skin as the old one dries up, and, in certain cases, favours the formation of adipose tissue, as has been proved by the exhumation of certain vampires. . . . Powerless to attack the phantoms, the people disinterred and burned the body. The remedy was infallible; for from that moment the vampire ceased his dreadful depredations.

To conclude our analysis of this painful subject, it is most evident that too much care cannot be taken to ascertain beyond doubt the actual and complete death of a person before committing the body to the grave—if that senseless, unscientific and revolting custom must be preserved. One shudders to think of the untold agony that must have been felt by thousands of victims to ignorant hurry to put the body out of sight, who, awakening too late from a state of trance, found themselves screwed up in a coffin and buried under six feet of earth, without the least possibility of succor. The case of poor W Irving. Bishop, the thought-reader, who is said to have been dissected alive while in trance and which happened only the other day, is a sad example of the terrible possibilities of popular ignorance. Everything that one reads in connection with occult science and psychical phenomena goes to vindicate the wisdom of the ancient promoters of cremation. Let us hope that before long the movement in its favour, which I am happy to say I was one of the first to begin in the United States, may extend until a proper horror is universally felt for the custom of burial of the dead, and it is recognized in its true character of a survival of brutish ignorance, fostered by superstitious clinging to religious prejudice and bigotry. Of course, I need hardly explain that, while cremation is a sure preventative of the return of the vampire somnambules to plague the living, the chances of premature disposal of the body of a half-dead person are equally serious as in the case of burial. If the trance be deep, it is quite possible that the unfortunate subject might not recover the use of his bodily members in time to save himself from being burnt alive.

His Meetings with the Master Morya

Colonel Henry S. Olcott's Testimony about His Meetings with the Master Morya

Compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell


H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) was the first person in modern times to claim contact with the Theosophical Adepts, especially the Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi. She also affirmed that in her writings she was giving out the teachings of the Adept Brotherhood.

There has been a great deal of controversy concerning the existence or non-existence of these particular Adepts.  Mme. Blavatsky's critics have usually doubted the reality of her Masters. 

But it is a historical fact that more than twenty five individuals testified to having seen and been in contact with these Mahatmas during H.P.Blavatsky's lifetime. For a detailed chronological listing of these testimonies, see A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas.

One of the principal witnesses who testified to such encounters was Henry Steel Olcott (1831-1907), American Theosophist, journalist, editor, attorney, and co-founder/first president of The Theosophical Society (founded 1875). (1)

Below the reader will find the following primary source documents:

(1) a letter Colonel Olcott wrote in 1882 to a spiritualistic magazine in London giving his testimony to "the fact" of the Himalayan Brothers' existence and;

(2) Colonel Olcott's eyewitness testimony describing eight of his meetings and encounters with the Master Morya. The meetings are given in chronological order.

For more relevant information, see footnote 2 below.

 

"The Himalayan Brothers"
February 1882 Letter to The Spiritualist

Theosophical Society, President's Office,
Bombay, 7th February, 1882.

To the Editor of the "Spiritualist."

...About two months ago, I sent you from Ceylon a letter respecting my personal knowledge of the so-called "Himalayan Brothers," [the Masters or Mahatmas] which has not yet been published in your columns.  It was called forth by your editorial remark that I have not given testimony to the fact of their existence; and the necessary implication that my silence was due to disbelief in the same, or at least to lack of proof sufficient to make me willing to so commit myself.  Pray allow me to set the question at rest, once for all.

I have seen them, not once but numerous times. I have talked to them.  I was not entranced, nor mediumistic, nor hallucinated, but always in my sober senses.  I have corresponded with them, receiving their letters....I have seen them, both in their bodies and their doubles, usually the latter..... Since November last, four different Brothers have made themselves visible to visitors at our head quarters.

I know the Brothers to be living men and not Spirits; and they have told me that there are schools, under appointed living adepts, where their Occult science is regularly taught.

It is all this actual knowledge of them and close observation of multifarious phenomena shewn me by them, under non-mediumistic conditions, that has made me take the active part I have in the Theosophical movement of the day.

And their precept and example has made me try to do some practical good to the Asiatics.  For their lives and their knowledge are devoted to the welfare of mankind.  Though unseen by, they yet labour for, humanity.  The first lesson I, as a pupil, was required by them to learn, and having learnt, to put into practice, was --- unselfishness. ....

H.S. OLCOTT.  

Source:  "The Himalayan Brothers," Light (London), March 4, 1882, p. 98.

 

 

Meeting 1
1876-1877 [?], New York City

...about the objective reality of the Brothers [the Masters, the Mahatmas]...I have only to go back to the point where I was in 1874, when I first met [H.P. Blavatsky] .... And so going back, I know that . . . I would never have taken anybody’s evidence to so astounding a claim as the existence of the Brothers, but required personal experience....

...I got that proof in due time....I had all the proofs I needed, alike of the existence of the Brothers, their wisdom, their psychical powers, and their unselfish devotion to humanity.  For six years have I been blessed with this experience....I have seen, been taught by, been allowed to visit, and have received visits from the Brothers....

...Throughout my studies I have tried to obtain my proofs in a valid form.  I have known mesmerism for a quarter of a century or more, and make every allowance for self-deception and external mental impressions.  What I have seen and experienced is, therefore, very satisfactory to myself, though mainly valueless to others.

Let me give you one instance: ---

One evening, at New York, after bidding H. P. B. good night, I sat in my bed-room, finishing a cigar and thinking.  Suddenly there stood my Chohan ["Lord", Guru, i.e., Master Morya] beside me.   The door had made no noise in opening, if it had been opened, but at any rate there he was. 

He sat down and conversed with me in subdued tones for some time, and as he seemed in an excellent humour towards me, I asked him a favour.  I said I wanted some tangible proof that he had actually been there, and that I had not been seeing a mere illusion or maya conjured up by H. P. B.  He laughed, unwound the embroidered Indian cotton fehta [turban] he wore on his head, flung it to me, and --- was gone.   That cloth I still possess, and it bears in one corner the initials . . . of my Chohan in thread-work.

This at least was no hallucination. . . .

...But this, it may be said, was all an illusion; that is the trouble of the whole matter; everything of the kind seen by one person is a delusion, if not a lie, to those who did not see it.  Each must see for himself, and can alone convince himself....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S.   Letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. H----- X -----. This letter (dated Sept. 30, 1881) from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas was first published in A.O. Hume's Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 76-86.


...And as the light gradually dawned on my mind, my reverence for the unseen teachers [the Mahatmas] who had instructed her [Mme. H.P. Blavatsky] grew apace. At the same time, a deep and insatiable yearning possessed me to seek their society, or, at least, to take up my residence in a land [India] which their presence glorified, and incorporate myself with a people whom their greatness ennobled.

The time came when I was blessed with a visit from one of these Mahatmas in my own room at New York - a visit from him, not in the physical body, but in the "double," or Mayavi-rupa. When I asked him to leave me some tangible evidence that I had not been the dupe of a vision, but that he had indeed been there, he removed from his head the puggri [turban] he wore, and giving it to me, vanished from my sight. That cloth I have still, and in one corner is marked in thread the cipher or signature he always attaches to the notes he writes to myself and others.

This visit and his conversation sent my heart at one leap around the globe, across oceans and continents, over sea and land, to India, and from that moment I had a motive to live for, an end to strive after. That motive was to gain the Aryan wisdom; that end to work for its dissemination. Thenceforth I began to count the years, the months, the days, as they passed, for they were bringing me ever nearer the time when I should drag my body after the eager thought that had so long preceded it....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S.  On Madame Blavatsky and the Mahatmas.  An extract from Olcott's lecture titled "Theosophy, the Scientific Basis of Religion," delivered at the Town Hall, Calcutta, India, April 5, 1882.  Reprinted from Olcott's Theosophy, Religion and Occult Science, London, George Redway, 1885, pp. 121-124.


...COLONEL OLCOTT: I could name two cases where I have encountered the person [the Mahatma] both in the physical body and in the astral body.  There are also a number of instances in my experience where I have seen the person in the astral body but not in the physical, and in the physical but not in the astral; but in two cases I can state that I have known the person in both capacities....In both cases I saw them in the astral body first....

The first case I will mention is the case already reported in the pamphlet called “Hints on Esoteric Theosophy --- No. 1”...In that instance the person was my Teacher . . . and I now exhibit the turban which he took off his head, when I demanded of him some tangible proof of his visit....

MR. MYERS: Was the Hindu you saw in New York indisputably the same as you subsequently saw in India?

COLONEL OLCOTT: The same.

MR. MYERS: And whom you saw in the astral body?

COLONEL OLCOTT: The same.

MR. STACK: He suddenly appeared?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He appeared when I was in my room before retiring at night.  As it was my custom to lock my door, I presume that my door was locked at that time.  I know that the door was not opened, for I sat in such a way reading that the door could not be opened without immediately attracting my notice....

COLONEL OLCOTT: ...My own conviction is --- in fact, I should be willing to affirm most positively --- that the door did not open and that the appearance and disappearance of my visitor occurred without using the means of ingress or exit....

MR. MYERS: How tall was the Hindu who appeared to you in New York?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He was a model of physical beauty, about 6ft. 6in. or 7in. in height, and symmetrically proportioned.

MR. MYERS: That is a very unusual height, and is in itself a tolerable identification.

COLONEL OLCOTT: Great stature is not so rare among the Rajpoots [of India].

MR. MYERS: I presume that you were impressed by his height in New York?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Yes.

 MR. MYERS: Have you seen other Hindus of that height?

COLONEL OLCOTT: No; I have seen very tall Hindus, for I have been through the Rajpoot country; but taking him all in all, he was the most majestic human figure I ever laid my eyes upon....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S. Henry S. Olcott's Deposition to the Society for Psychical Research, 1884. Reprinted from the First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appointed to Investigate the Evidence for Marvellous Phenomena offered by Certain Members of the Theosophical Society, Appendix I, pp. 34-62, London, 1884.


...Our evening’s work on [the manuscript of H.P.B.'s future book] Isis [Unveiled] was finished, I had bade goodnight to H.P.B., retired to my own room, closed the door as usual, sat me down to read and smoke, and was soon absorbed in my book; which, if I remember aright, was Stephens' Travels in Yucatan....

I was quietly reading, with all my attention centered on my book.  Nothing in the evening's incidents had prepared me for seeing an adept in his astral body; I had not wished for it, tried to conjure it up in my fancy, nor in the least expected it.

All at once, as I read with my shoulder a little turned from the door, there came a gleam of something white in the right-hand corner of my right eye; I turned my head, dropped my book in astonishment, and saw towering above me in his great stature an Oriental clad in white garments, and wearing a head cloth or turban of amber-striped fabric, hand-embroidered in yellow floss silk.

Long raven hair hung from under his turban to the shoulders; his black beard, parted vertically on the chin in the Rajput fashion, was twisted up at the ends and carried over the ears; his eyes were alive with soul fire, eyes which were at once benignant and piercing in glance....He was so grand a man, so imbued with the majesty of moral strength, so luminously spiritual, so evidently above average humanity, that I felt abashed in his presence, and bowed my head and bent my knee as one does before a god or a godlike personage.

A hand was lightly laid on my head, a sweet though strong voice bade me be seated, and when I raised my eyes, the Presence was seated in the other chair beyond the table.

He told me he had come at the crisis when I needed him; that my actions had brought me to this point; that it lay with me alone whether he and I should meet often in this life as co-workers for the good of mankind; that a great work was to be done for humanity, and I had the right to share in it if I wished; that a mysterious tie, not now to be explained to me, had drawn my colleague [H.P.B.] and myself together, a tie which could not be broken, however strained it might be at times.  He told me things about H.P.B. that I may not repeat, as well as things about myself, that do not concern third parties....

At last he rose, I wondering at his great height and observing the sort of splendor in his countenance --- not an external shining, but the soft gleam, as it were, of an inner light --- that of the spirit.

Suddenly the thought came into my mind: "What if this be but hallucination; what if H.P.B. has cast a hypnotic glamour over me? I wish I had some tangible object to prove to me that he has really been here, something that I might handle after he is gone!"

The Master smiled kindly as if reading my thought, untwisted the fehta [turban] from his head, benignantly saluted me in farewell and --- was gone: his chair was empty; I was alone with my emotions! Not quite alone, though, for on the table lay the embroidered head cloth, a tangible and enduring proof that I had not been "overlooked," or psychically befooled, but had been face to face with one of the Elder Brothers of Humanity.

To run and beat at H.P.B.’s door and tell her my experience was the first natural impulse, and she was as glad to hear my story as I was to tell it. I returned to my room to think, and the gray morning found me still thinking and resolving. Out of those thoughts and those resolves developed all my subsequent theosophical activities....

I have been blessed with meetings with this Master and others since then ....However others less fortunate may doubt, I KNOW....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.  Old Diary Leaves: The True Story of the Theosophical Society. Vol. 1 (1874–1878). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1895, pp. 377, 379–81

 

 

Meeting 2
July 15, 1879, Bombay, India

...[I] had visit in body of the Sahib [Morya]!! [He] sent Babula to my room to call me to HPB’s bungalow, and there we had a most important private interview. Alas! how puerile and vain these men make one feel by contrast with them....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.   Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for July 15, 1879, Bombay, India.


...This . . . Brother [Morya] once visited me in the flesh at Bombay, coming in full day light, and on horseback.  He had me called by a servant into the front room of H. P.B.’s bungalow (she being at the time in the other bungalow talking with those who were there). 

He came to scold me roundly for something I had done in T. S. matters, and as H. P. B. was also to blame, he telegraphed to her to come, that is to say he turned his face and extended his finger in the direction of the place she was in.  She came over at once with a rush, and seeing him dropped on her knees and paid him reverence.  My voice and his had been heard by those in the other bungalow, but only H. P. B. and I, and the servant saw him....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S.    Letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. H----- X -----.  This letter (dated Sept. 30, 1881) from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas was first published in A.O. Hume's Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 76-86.


...MR. MYERS: We want now an account of seeing your Teacher in the flesh.

 COLONEL OLCOTT: One day at Bombay I was at work in my office when a Hindu servant came and told me that a gentleman wanted to see me in Madame Blavatsky’s bungalow --- a separate house within the same enclosure as the main building.  This was one day in 1879.  I went and found alone there my Teacher.  Madame Blavatsky was then engaged in animated conversation with other persons in the other bungalow.   The interview between the Teacher and myself lasted perhaps 10 minutes, and it related to matters of a private nature with respect to myself and certain current events in the history of the Society....

MR. MYERS: How do you know that your Teacher was in actual flesh and blood on that occasion?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He put his hand upon my head, and his hand was perfectly substantial; and he had altogether the appearance of an ordinary living person.  When he walked about the floor there was noise of his footsteps, which is not the case with the double or phantasm.

MR. MYERS: Do you conceive that he had travelled to Bombay in the ordinary way?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He was then stopping at a bungalow, not far from Bombay, belonging to a person connected with this brotherhood of the Mahatmas, and used by Mahatmas who may be passing through Bombay on business connected with their order.  He came to our place on horseback.

MR. STACK: Was he on that occasion dressed the same as in New York?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Yes.  They wear ordinarily, when away from Thibet, a dress of white cotton --- in fact, that is the common dress of Hindus.

MR. MYERS: Was that the only occasion on which you have seen him in the flesh?

COLONEL OLCOTT: No; I have seen him at other times.

MR. MYERS: Have you seen him three or four times in the flesh?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Yes, more than that, but not under circumstances where it would be evidence to others.

MR. MYERS: And about how many times in the astral body?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Oh, at least 15 or 20 times.

MR. MYERS: And his appearance on all those occasions has been quite unmistakable?

COLONEL OLCOTT: As unmistakable as the appearance of either of you gentlemen....

SourceOlcott, Henry S. Henry S. Olcott's Deposition to the Society for Psychical Research, 1884. Reprinted from the First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appointed to Investigate the Evidence for Marvellous Phenomena offered by Certain Members of the Theosophical Society, Appendix I, pp. 34-62, London, 1884.

 

 

Meeting 3
August 4, 1880, Bombay, India

...M [orya was] here this evening & wrote to Fauvety of Paris. He says 5000 English troops killed in Afghanistan in the recent battle. . . .

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for August 4, 1880, Bombay, India.


....On the evening of 4th August [1880], a Mahatma [Master Morya] visited HPB, and I was called in to see him before he left. He dictated a long and important letter to an influential friend of ours at Paris, and gave me important hints about the management of current [Theosophical] Society affairs.

I was sent away before his visit terminated, and as I left him sitting in HPB’s room, I cannot say whether his departure was a phenomenal disappearance or not....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S. Old Diary Leaves: The Only Authentic History of the Theosophical Society. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1900. Vol. 2 (1878–1883), p. 208.

 

 

Meeting 4
September 27, 1881, Ceylon

...On the night of that day [Sept. 27, 1881] I was awakened from sleep by my Chohan (or Guru, the Brother [Morya] whose immediate pupil I am).  He made me rise, sit at my table and write from his dictation for an hour or more. There was an expression of anxiety mingled with sternness on his noble face, as there always is when the matter concerns H.P.B., to whom for many years he has been at once a father and a devoted guardian....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.   Letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. H----- X -----. This letter (dated Sept. 30, 1881) from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas was first published in A.O. Hume's Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 76-86.

 

 

Meeting 5
January 28, 1882, Bombay, India

...M[orya] showed himself very clearly to me & HPB in her garden.  She joining him they talked together....

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for January 28, 1882, Bombay, India.

 

 

Meeting 6
August 18, 1882, Ceylon, (at a village on the way to Colombo) 

...[I had a] night visit from M[orya] who directed telegram to be sent to A[llan] H[ume] about Fern's visions. . . .

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for Aug. 18, 1882, Ceylon, (at a village on the way to Colombo) 

 

 

Meeting 7
September 25, 1885, Gooty, India

. . . In night [I] had visit from M[orya] and Majji. . . .

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for Sept. 25, 1885, Gooty, India.


. . . that night [at Gooty] I was visited by my Guru [Morya] and 'Majji'. . . .

Source: Olcott, Henry S.  Letter dated October 10, 1885 from Henry S. Olcott to Francesca Arundale. The Theosophist (Adyar, Madras, India), December 1932, p. 275.

 

 

Meeting 8
October 25, 1888, Approaching Rome, Italy by train

...At 9:30 [I] took train for Rome via Pistoia and Pisa.  In train all night. . . . [I] had a most encouraging visit from M[orya] in the train....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.   Entry for October 25, 1888.


...[I had] the most unexpected and splendid visit from M[orya] in the train.  I felt so rejoiced I could almost have jumped out of the window.  He was so kind, so loving and compassionate; despite all my faults and shortcomings, he bears with me and holds to me because of the useful work I have now and then done, and of my fervent desire to do my duty. 

If he has not told you already, he will; so I shall not flog my tired brain to describe how he came, talked, looked and went.  Goodnight, Chum -- to you and to all . . . .

Source:  Letter dated Oct. 26, 1888 from Henry S. Olcott to H.P. Blavatsky (quoted in Yankee Beacon of Buddhist Light:  Life of Col. Henry S. Olcott by Howard Murphet, Wheaton, Illinois, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, 1988, p. 236)


Endnote

(1) Henry Steel Olcott (1831-1907) was an American Theosophist, journalist, editor, attorney, and co-founder/first president of The Theosophical Society (founded 1875).

Olcott was associate agricultural editor (1859-1861) of the New York Tribune. He served in the American Civil War and was appointed Special Commissioner (1862-66) in the U.S. War and Navy Departments to investigate corruption and fraud in military arsenals and navy yards.  Colonel Olcott also practiced law in New York City from 1868 to 1878. 

While investigating Spiritualistic phenomena at Chittenden, Vermont in October, 1874, he met Madame Blavatsky.  They became close friends and associates and were two of the principal founders of the Theosophical Society.

As first President of The Theosophical Society (an office he held for the rest of his life), Colonel Olcott worked tirelessly on behalf of the Society, traveling throughout India, southern Asia, Australia, Europe and elsewhere. 

For more on his life, see

• "Henry Steel Olcott," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia;

• Yankee Beacon of Buddhist Light:  Life of Col. Henry S. Olcott by Howard Murphet, Wheaton, Illinois, Quest Books, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1988;

• The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott by Stephen Prothero, Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1996.

Early Story of TS

No. I

by William Stainton Moses

[Reprinted from Light (London), July 9, 1892,
pp. 330-32; and July 23, 1892, pp. 354-57.]


[In this two-part article W. Stainton Moses reviews Col. Henry S. Olcott's 
"series of historical reminiscences" titled "Old Diary Leaves" that were first published 
in The Theosophist beginning with the March 1892 issue. Also in this article Moses 
publishes a transcription of eight of Olcott's letters that were written to Moses during the 
years 1875-76.  Some of the letters give Colonel Olcott's early views of Madame 
Blavatsky.  Below are direct links to the 8 letters of Olcott.--- BAO editor.]
Olcott Letter #1
Olcott Letter #2
Olcott Letter #3
Olcott Letter #4
Olcott Letter #5
Olcott Letter #6
Olcott Letter #7
Olcott Letter #8


Colonel Olcott is engaged in writing the early history of his acquaintance with Madame Blavatsky, which immediately preceded the formation of the Theosophical Society.  It is a work that needs doing.  He will also give, as only he now can, his reminiscences of the growth and vicissitudes of the Society of which he was the President-Founder.  Such a chapter of history cannot but contain matter of great interest to the readers of “LIGHT,” and I propose to give them from time to time some account of what is set forth, having due regard to the request that a verbatim transcript may not be made, in view of the possible collection of the papers in the form of a volume.

During the time which Colonel Olcott covers in his early chapters (“Theosophist,” March, May, and June, 1892), I was in regular correspondence with Madame Blavatsky and himself, and have preserved many of the voluminous letters then addressed to me by them.  So far as these are appropriate and can be published without infringing the privacy that belongs rightly to letters not written for publication, I shall quote freely from what will throw light from an independent source on what is published by Colonel Olcott.  I find in the mass of letters before me many records of occult phenomena which occurred in profusion during the years 1875 to 1878 in the presence of Madame Blavatsky.  My own doubts as to the existence of persons possessing the powers claimed for them, the “Brothers,” as they were then called, were freely expressed, and much of the correspondence I received from Madame Blavatsky is occupied with attempts to remove my doubts.  The letters will hardly be intelligible to an outside reader, especially as I have no copies of my own replies, but some quotations may be made as occasion serves.

Colonel Olcott commences his narrative with the meeting between himself and Madame Blavatsky at the Eddy farmhouse at Chittenden.  Full details are given in his work, “People from the Other World,” which will be known to most readers of “LIGHT.”  The material of the book was originally contributed in the form of letters to the “New York Daily Graphic,” and it was the perusal of them that drew Madame Blavatsky to Chittenden.  Here is a description of the lady as she first burst on Olcott’s astonished eyes: ---

The dinner hour at Eddy’s was noon, and it was from the entrance door of the bare and comfortless dining-room that Kappes  and I first saw H.P.B.  She had arrived shortly before noon with a French Canadian lady, and they were at table as we entered.  My eye was first attracted by a scarlet Garibaldian shirt the former wore, as being in vivid contrast with the dull colours around.  Her hair was then a thick blonde mop, worn shorter than the shoulders, and it stood out from her head, silken-soft and crinkled to the roots, like the fleece of a Cotswold ewe.  This and the red shirt were what struck my attention before I took in the picture of her features.  It was a massive Calmuck face, contrasting in its suggestion of power, culture, and imperiousness, as strangely with the commonplace visages about the room as her red garment did with the grey and white tones of the walls and woodwork and the dull costumes of the rest of the guests.  All sorts of cranky people were continually coming and going at Eddy’s to see the mediumistic phenomena, and it only struck me on seeing this eccentric lady that this was but one more of the sort.  [This extract can be found in Olcott's Old Diary Leaves, Volume I, p. 4.]

This was in September, 1874.  The acquaintance that Colonel Olcott took opportunity of making with this eccentric lady soon ripened into familiar intercourse, and continued uninterrupted till death severed it.  She was a person respecting whom no idea of sex could ever be entertained by anyone who knew her.  She was an impersonal creature, who had seen much of the world, and had had experience of the occult in many lands.  “It was not as an Eastern mystic, but rather as a refined Spiritualist she talked.”  She was very reticent, and it was not till long after that Olcott discovered that she had come to Chittenden with a purpose.

It is well to have a clear view of the conditions under which the Chittenden seances were held, and of the effect of the presence of this remarkable women upon the manifestations.  Colonel Olcott thus describes these matters: ---

 The seances of William Eddy, the chief medium of the family, were held every evening in a large upstairs hall, in a wing of the house, over the dining-room and kitchen.  He and a brother, Horatio, were hard-working farmers, Horatio attending to the outdoor duties, and William, since visitors came pouring in upon them from all parts of the United States, doing the cooking for the household.  They were poor, ill-educated, and prejudiced --- sometimes surly to their unbidden guests.  At the further end of the seance-hall the deep chimney from the kitchen below passed through the roof.  Between it and the north wall was a narrow closet of the same width as the depth of the chimney, two feet seven inches, in which William Eddy would seat himself to wait for the phenomena.  He had no seeming control over them, but merely sat and waited for them to sporadically occur.  A blanket being hung across the doorway, the closet would be in perfect darkness.  Shortly after William had entered the cabinet, the blanket would be pulled aside and forth would step some figure of a dead man, woman, or child --- an animate statute so to say --- temporarily solid and substantial, but the next minute resolved back into nothingness or invisibility.  They would occasionally dissolve away while in full view of the spectators.

Up to the time of H.P.B.’s appearance on the scene, the figures which had shown themselves were either Red Indians, or Americans, or Europeans akin to visitors.  But on the first evening of her stay spooks of other nationalities came before us.  There was a Georgian servant boy from the Caucasus; a Mussulman merchant from Tiflis; a Russian peasant girl, and others.  Another evening there appeared a Koordish cavalier armed with scimitar, pistols, and lance; a hideously ugly and devilish-looking negro sorcerer from Africa, wearing a coronet composed of four horns of the oryx with bells at their tips, attached to an embroidered, highly-coloured fillet which was tied around his head; and a European gentleman wearing the cross and collar of St. Anne, who was recognised by Madame Blavatsky as her uncle.  The advent of such figures in the seance-room of those poor, almost illiterate Vermont farmers, who had neither the money to buy theatrical properties, the experience to employ such if they had had them, nor the room where they could have availed of them, was to every eye-witness a convincing proof that the apparitions were genuine.  At the same time they show that a strange attraction to call out these images from what Asiatics call the Kama-loca attended Madame Blavatsky.  It was long afterwards that I learnt that she had evoked them by her own developed and masterful power. [See Old Diary Leaves, Volume I, pp. 7-9.]

She seems very early to have set to work to demolish in Olcott’s mind a belief that the Eddy phenomena were due to the intervention of the spirits of departed human beings.  He as warmly defended it, knowing, it is important to note, nothing of the various Eastern theories which he has since come to accept.  He was a Spiritualist then, and Madame Blavatsky tempered the wind to the shorn lamb.  She was a Spiritualist too, though hinting other things.  She had even that wisdom of the serpent which made her all things to all men if she might, perchance, win some.  When she left Chittenden she and Olcott were good friends, looking forward to a renewal of pleasant intercourse in New York.

There, in November, 1874, Olcott called on her at her lodgings, 16, Irving-place, and had various seances for table-tipping, rapping, and so forth, “John King” being the communicating intelligence.  Olcott then accepted in good faith his history of himself as “the earth-haunting soul of Sir Henry Morgan.”  Now he is rude enough to call him a “humbugging elemental.”  Whatever he was or was not, “the phenomena were real.”  But John King was not.  “He was first, John King an independent personality, then John King messenger and servant --- never the equal --- of living adepts, and, finally, an elemental pure and simple.”  How are the mighty fallen!  There may, however, be some pardonable hesitation in giving a perfect assent to these propositions.

It is, however, historically important to note the following passage, containing Olcott’s impressions and Madame Blavatsky’s own statement of her then position: ---

It is useless to deny that, throughout the early part of her American residence, she called herself a Spiritualist and warmly defended Spiritualism and its mediums from their sciolistic and other bitter traducers.  Her letters and articles in various American and English journals contain many evidences of her occupying that position.  Among other examples I will simply quote the following: ---

 â€œAs it is, I have only done my duty: first, towards Spiritualism, that I have defended as well as I could from the attacks of imposture under the too transparent mask of science; then towards two helpless, slandered mediums. . . . But I am obliged to confess that I really do not believe in having done any good --- to Spiritualism itself. . . . It is with a profound sadness in my heart that I acknowledge this fact, for I begin to think there is no help for it.  For over fifteen years have I fought my battle for the blessed truth; have travelled and preached it --- though I never was born for a lecturer --- from the snow-covered tops of the Caucasian Mountains, as well as from the sandy valleys of the Nile.  I have proved the truth of it practically and by persuasion.  For the sake of Spiritualism I have left my home, an easy life amongst a civilised society, and have become a wanderer upon the face of the earth.  I had already seen my hopes realised, beyond my most sanguine expectations, when my unlucky star brought me to America.  Knowing this country to be the cradle of Modern Spiritualism, I came over here from France with feelings not unlike those of a Mohammedan approaching the birth-place of his Prophet.” &c., &c.  (Letter of H.P.B. to the “Spiritualist” of December 13th, 1874.)

The two “helpless mediums” alluded to were the Holmeses, of whose moral quality I have always had the poorest opinion.  Yet, in H.P.B’s presence I [H.S.O.] witnessed, under my own test conditions, along with the late Hon. Robert Dale Owen and General Lippitt, a series of most convincing and satisfactory mediumistic phenomena.  I half suspected then that the power that produced them came from H.P.B., and that if the Holmeses alone had been concerned I should either have seen tricks or nothing.  Now in hunting over the old scrapbooks I find in H.P.B.’s MSS. the following memorandum, which she evidently meant to be published after her death: ---

“IMPORTANT NOTE”

 â€œYes, I am sorry to say that I had to identify myself, during that shameful exposure of the Holmes mediums, with the Spiritualists.  I had to save the situation, for I was sent from Paris to America on purpose to prove the phenomena and their reality, and show the fallacy of the Spiritualistic theory of spirits.”  But how could I do it best?  I did not want people at large to know that I could produce the same things AT WILL.  I had received orders to the contrary, and yet I had to keep alive the reality, the genuineness and possibility of such phenomena, in the hearts of those who from Materialists had turned Spiritualists, but now, owing to the exposure of several mediums, fell back again, returned to their scepticism.  This is why, selecting a few of the faithful, I went to the Holmeses and, helped by M. and his power, brought out the faces of John King and Katie King from the Astral Light, produced the phenomena of materialisation, and allowed the Spiritualists at large to believe it was done through the mediumship of Mrs. Holmes.  She was terribly frightened herself, for she knew that this once the apparition was real.  Did I do wrong?  The world is not prepared yet to understand the philosophy of Occult Science; let them first assure themselves that there are beings in an invisible world, whether ‘Spirits’ of the dead or elementals; and that there are hidden powers in man which are capable of making a god of him on earth.  [See Old Diary Leaves, Volume I, pp. 12-14.]

I pass on, merely quoting, for the amusement of those who are interested in phenomena, a pretty piece of psychical jugglery: ---
 

Among her callers was an Italian artist, a Signor B., formerly a Carbonaro.  I was sitting alone with her in her drawing-room when he made his first visit.  They talked of Italian affairs and he suddenly pronounced the name of one of the greatest of the Adepts.  She started as if she had received an electric shock; looked him straight in the eyes, and said (in Italian), “What is it?  I am ready.”  He passed it off carelessly, but thenceforward the talk was all about Magic, Magicians, and Adepts.  It was a cold, snowy winter evening, but Signor B. went and opened one of the French windows, made some beckoning passes towards the outer air, and presently a pure white butterfly came into the room and went flying about near the ceiling.  H.P.B. laughed in a cheerful way, and said, “That is pretty, but I can also do it!”  She, too, opened the window, made similar beckoning passes, and presently a second white butterfly came fluttering in.  It mounted to the ceiling, chased the other around the room, played with it now and then, with it flew to a corner, and, presto! both disappeared at once while we were looking at them.  “What does that mean?” I asked.  “Only this, that Signor B. can make an elemental turn itself into a butterfly, and so can I.”  The fact that it happened on a biting cold night when no butterfly could possibly be flying about in the frost-laden air will be noticed by the Western reader as convincing proof that the insects were not real but illusionary ones.  [See Old Diary Leaves, Volume I, pp. 15-16.]


I can do no more than notice briefly Olcott’s unquestioning statement of his continued intercourse with those whom he calls the “Masters,” elsewhere the “Brothers,” and yet again the “Adepts.”  He tells us how, having been under “The African section of the Occult Brotherhood,” later on he was “transferred to the Indian section and a different group of Masters,” “when a certain wonderful thing of a psycho-physiological nature happened to H. P. B., that I am not at liberty to speak about, and that nobody has up to the present suspected, although enjoying her intimacy and confidence, as they fancy.”  There can be no doubt --- as there never has been any in my mind --- of Olcott’s perfect conviction on this point.  Some remarks of his p. 332 of this March number of the “Theosophical” are conclusive, if there were any previous room for doubt.

I have left Madame Blavatsky in the early days of 1875, when she had come to New York from her mission to make Olcott’s acquaintance at Chittenden.  Olcott gives some facts in her history between 1873, when she was ordered at a day’s notice to leave Paris for New York “in the interest of Spiritualism,” and states categorically that during this time “she had attended seances and consorted with mediums, but never came under public notice.”  Into this antecedent history I do not enter.  My own acquaintance with Olcott was formed when his Eddy book was published.  I wrote to my friend, Espes Sargent, offering to introduce it to English Spiritualists.  He wrote to Olcott, who in turn addressed me on April 10th, 1875, from the Lotos Club, 2, Irving-Place, New York.  In the course of his letter he writes: ---

[Olcott Letter #1]

 I would be glad to know that enlightened investigators like yourself were giving attention to the writers who are alone, in my opinion, able to account for these Spiritualistic phenomena.  Whatever we see of marvels in our day are merely duplicates of what happened generations ago; and, unless a multitude of persons combined in successive epochs to cheat mankind, there is no apparent reason why we may not have such manifestations as we chose, when we like, where we like, and gather about us at will good spirits or bad.  I believe that the Universe was made for man, that man partakes of Divine powers and attributes, and that it is within his reach to exercise those powers over the spiritual as over the material world.  If his nature is debased he may, by the help of evil spirits, injure and destroy; if the contrary, he may elevate and bless himself and his fellow-men.  I did not know this when my book was being written, but I know it now, for I have recently been furnished abundant proof through a lady whom I mention in my book --- Madame de Blavatsky.

I called my work “People from the Other World,” because I wished to convey just the idea that the so-called spirits are nothing more or less than people --- people like ourselves, people just as they were before they passed beyond our view.  I dedicated it to Wallace and Crookes because I felt that I owed that much to their manliness and the example of honesty they have set us all.

It is a curious literary production, in truth --- five hundred pages of descriptions of personal encounters with materialised spirits, embellished with many sketched portraits from life.

H. S. OLCOTT

In the course of a subsequent letter, dated May 18th, I find some passages that show Olcott’s position at that time: ---

[Olcott Letter #2]

The rule of law, “Falsus in uno, &c.,” most emphatically does not apply to mediums, for I think there are few who do not gladly give genuine manifestations when they can.  When I first went to Chittenden I thought the Eddys were imposters, but just at that point, when the friend who accompanied me left in disgust, I determined to begin my investigation; and, that I might not do the people injustice, as they and their elementary spirits refused me facilities for close contact, I stayed at my post, in the most disagreeable surroundings to a man of my habits, for three months, until my notebook was crammed with facts sufficient to make up my case.  I proved the Eddys’ mediumship in their own despite, and now they regard me with unfriendly feelings, when you would say that they ought to consider me their benefactor.  William Eddy I consider a good, pure man, and his materialisations I believe to be genuine.  Horatio is also a great medium, but he is one of those whom I should watch constantly.  Some things that occur in his presence are truly marvellous, and one of his spirits, “Mayflower,” is a most attractive and interesting child.  Her musical performances are extremely beautiful.

I sincerely hope you are able to visit me in the spirit now that I have laid a cable of my Odic force across the water.  I am no medium myself, but I have reason to believe that my spirit sometimes does a little travelling on its own account, at night when my body is asleep.  Come to me if you can, and let us take counsel together.

The time has come, in my opinion, for us leaders in this movement to go back to the only and true sources of knowledge about these spiritual phenomena.  Just see how they have been occurring for twenty-seven years and nobody teaching the people how they occur, how to control their occurrence, how to “try the spirits if they be of God!”  Is it not strange that, with hundreds of ancient books within reach of our spiritual scholars, which teach us everything we desire to know, no volume has been consulted, but we have been taking the crude speculation of elementary spirits, the turgid vaticinations of ignorant mediums, and actually swallowing the lies of living spirits, who, with a brave show of words that fill our minds as the East wind might the belly of the fool, have made us do their bidding and assist in their pranks?  Turn to Fludd, and Apollonius, to Eliphas Levi, and a hundred other such authorities, and you will find every single phase of “Modern Spiritualism” anticipated and explained.  One phenomenon, the instantaneous disappearance of spirit-writing from a paper, I thought unique, but on turning back I found that when Apollonius was cited before Nero upon a charge of philosophising in the streets, and his accuser was asked to hand the Emperor the indictment, lo! the writing had vanished, and the parchment was as clean as if it had never been soiled with ink!  Consult the authors quoted in my book, and you will find your every question answered, your every doubt removed.  For a most interesting compilation of magical facts I refer you to the works of Des Mousseaux, who, although a blind Catholic and an implicit believer in Diabolism, has collated a host of valuable facts, that your more enlightened and emancipated mind will value as they deserve.  You will also find advantage in reading up works upon the Oriental sects and priestly orders; and some interesting particulars are in Lane’s “Modern Egyptians,” from which I quote in my work.

Like yourself, I make no pretensions whatever to scientific training.  If I did, I should not assume so humble and deferential a tone to the Academicians as I have, to the dissatisfaction of Wallace, who writes to censure me for undervaluing the results of my labours, which he is pleased to pronounce conclusive and valuable.

Is not it time for us to admit that in the successive destructions of manuscript collections by Diocletian, Caesar, and Isanrus, science may have sustained a loss so gigantic that it has required all theses subsequent centuries to get our scientific students as far along as the re-discovery of the most elementary facts of nature, whose secrets the ancients had mastered?  Oh! the presumptuous conceit of our modern associations and academies, to which we Spiritualistic explorers pay such tribute of deference!  I have done with this.  I shall write no more books in such a spirit.  If I can discover a new law, or demonstrate a new fact, I shall have no hesitation in enunciating it.  They have sneered at us for a quarter of a century, now let you and me and our trusty colleagues turn the tables on them, and lash them into respect for Truth at all costs.

My theory of materialisation is yet too crude to warrant my communicating it; but I hope before long to be better instructed.  One thing is sure: it indicates the activity of a new force, acting upon a new (to us) form of matter, under the control of Will Power.  My realisation of the boundless potency of this latter is growing daily clearer.  I think, from what little I have read of your own mediumship, that you are an excellent example of what its exercise may do; and, if I were you, I would consult the Rosicrucian authors and see what they say of it and how it may be advantageously applied.  I have seen it marvellously effective in the production of spirit lights, hands, direct writing and full forms.  I don’t mean to enter into details, for I have chatted with you almost an hour, but I give you a glimpse of what I mean in what I say of Madame Blavatsky in Part II.

H. S. Olcott


One more extract from a letter dated from the Lotos Club, June 22nd, 1875, in acknowledgment of my review of his book, must close my present instalment: ---

[Olcott Letter #3]

I have just finished a second reading of your charming review of my book, in the copy of “Human Nature” which you were kind enough to send me, and I feel as if I ought not to await your answer to my last letter before making my hearty acknowledgments.

Mr. Huxley said once that if a man obtained the approval of about a dozen men for his work he need not care what all the others might say; and I am so much of his opinion that I unhesitatingly declare that, since Mr. Wallace and yourself and a few others think that I have made the most of such opportunities as were afforded me in the matter of the materialisations, I am indifferent to any other criticisms that may be made upon my labours.

But you cannot imagine the extent of my own dissatisfaction with what I did when I think of how vastly more I might have done but for the obstacles placed in my way.  The scrutiny of four or five hundred spirits, rich as it was in results, only whets my appetite for more study and experiments, and I shall not rest contented until I have gone further towards the bottom of my deep-sea soundings in the ocean of Psychology.  I have been an observer of Spiritualistic phenomena for twenty-five years, and have been waiting all that time to find the philosophy which should satisfactorily account for them.  It is this which makes me, after failing in every other direction, turn with so much interest and hope towards the ancient masters of Occult Science.  I have discovered enough already to make me pretty confident that if the key to the mystery does not lie within their writings it cannot be found at all; and as the scent grows stronger, the interest is constantly on the increase.

A very learned spirit friend and correspondent (who writes to me without the intervention of any medium, and writes his letters on parchment) recently gave me the titles of three books he wished me to read.  They are: “L’Etoile Flamboyante,” per le Baron Tschoudy; “Magia Adamica,” by “Eugenius Philalethes”; and “The Key to the Concealed Things Since the Beginning of the World.”  The first two I have found and read; the third is not attainable.  The former contain the essence of the Hermetic Philosophy, and I strongly recommend them to your favour.  Setting aside the questions of the Elixir of Life and the Universal Alkahest, what these authors say of the philosophy of creation --- the birth of spirit and matter, the fecundation of the latter by the former, and the possibilities within the reach of man’s soul --- afford me more satisfaction and comfort than anything I have met with elsewhere.  You speak in your review of my “spiritual insight,” and I can assure you that the intuitions which have been awakened in me by my studies of the past year enable me to see, beyond the printed pages of these philosophers of two centuries ago, the dawning day of that spiritual light for which I have so long and so vainly sought.  For the first time in my life the plan of Creation seems to unfold itself before my inner sight, and I begin to get glimpses --- and I fancy that finite man can never get more than a glimpse --- of the boundless glory of the Infinite God --- of the method by which the forces of the Universe are balanced and directed.

H. S. Olcott


No. II.

 

 

We continue our notice of Colonel Olcott’s letters, to which we have previously adverted.  They do not require much comment.  They sufficiently explain themselves.  Subsequently we may add some remarks: ---

[Olcott Letter #4]

I have delayed my letter for the appearance of the communication I had sent to the “Tribune,” as it answers some of the questions in your recent favour.  Now let me run it over and take up your points seriatim.

The Occultist authors, of course, intended to write in such a way as that, while concealing the truth from superficial readers, they should nevertheless preserve it for the earnest, diligent student who might come after them.  The main points of their philosophy relate: (1) To the nature and attributes of the First Cause --- the En-Soph; (2) to the evolution of spirit and matter --- their progressive changes, combinations, relations, attributes or properties, and destiny; (3) to the evolution of intelligence, moral faculties, and spiritual capabilities, and their embodiment in the elementary spirits, in man, in angels, seraphs, and other entities.  In this department are included, of course, all that relates to the domination of the human spirit over the lower races of spirits and the forces of nature, in the microcosm; and also to our gradual evolution and progression from lower to higher conditions, from the bottom to the top of the ladder that reaches from earth to Heaven, from base matter to pure spirit, from us to God.

The bearing of this philosophy upon the question of Spiritualism is most important.  It shows us, what I for one at least never suspected, that there are such things as elementary spirits, which we may define simply as beings possessed of intelligence and craft, but not of immortal souls; that these beings are able to and do produce a majority of the physical phenomena of mediumship; that each of us was, once upon a time, an elementary, and each of those we left behind is sure to become, like us, immortal men by having the breath of the En-Soph breathed into him at birth; and that by reason of our share of that Immortal Breath, that portion of the Deity possessing all the attributes of Himself, in degree, we may subjugate these elementaries and make them do our will.  It defines to us the nature of the forces of the “Unseen Universe,” and shows us how to command them; displaying before our astonished eyes a whole world of causes of which the most lucid of our seers had only given us the vaguest glimpses, and of the laws of which we have been utterly ignorant.  It shows us how absolute is the analogy between man and the Universe, he being animated by a spark of the Divine Soul, and it by the Great Soul itself.  It presents to us the sight of globes surrounded by a common luminous atmosphere of their own emanations, or their distilled essences, as we might say, as our bodies are enveloped in odic “spheres” peculiar to ourselves, which mix and combine when we gather together, and make a multitude of individual, perhaps discordant, entities merge into a whole, whose ultimate effect may be for good or evil as one or the other tendency may predominate.  This common emanation of the Universe is technically termed the Astral Light, and the life-principle of man, which is itself only a reflection of the pure spirit (Immortal Breath) which exists in and never leaves the highest (seventh) sphere (or the immediate vicinity of the En-Soph, of whom it is a part), is a part of this Astral Light, and is called ATMA.

It defines the nature of clairvoyance, showing it to be simply the seeing of what exists in the Astral Light by the human spirit which can free itself for the moment from the “cloud of sense.”

It offers nothing to conflict with the discoveries of science, but goes hand in hand with our savans into the “Fire Mist,” and then when they stop, unable to face what Herbert Spencer calls the incomprehensible, leads the courageous explorer into the penetralia of nature where he can discover the soul of things, and read all the riddles of creation.

The records of its adepts have preserved, for coming generations, the archives of all past time and the record of every discovery that has blessed the world, whether seemingly “lost” or not.

One of its most startling developments is the awful potency of the human WILL, by which the adept can control not only his own existence, but also that of his fellows, and summon to his help the most hidden powers of nature.

Yes, as you say, Spiritualism is “only one part of a vast subject,” and I leave it to your high intelligence and clear intuition to answer your own question whether “the profit equals the risk” of pursuing the study.  Occultism is, as Madame de Blavatsky says, a two-edged sword, but it wounds the wielder only when his purpose is ignoble, his courage feeble, and his perseverance weak.  For my part, I can conceive of no greater reward than the knowledge of my own immortal soul’s powers, and for its acquisition I esteem no labour too hard, no danger of moment, no sacrifice of earthly advantage too great.  Of what moment to the enlightened philosopher are the mean vanities and preferments of this life of a span’s length?  What to him the enjoyments of peace, or wealth, or temporal power?  True, he owes it to his race to benefit them as far as lies in his power, and he should never be deaf to the call of duty; but he sees the whole field of his destiny spread before him, as one sees the path from a mountain-top, and applies his powers as the case demands.  The eye of his spirit penetrates the future before which the materialistic scientist sees a thick curtain drawn, and in his vocabulary the word Incomprehensible is used only when he speaks of God.

You are quite right about our “spoiling our mediums by taking no care of them” --- suffering them to sit in “mixed circles of foolish gapers,” and having “so low a tone of thought pervade them.”  For this reason the mediums in private families are better --- more trustworthy --- than those who follow mediumship as an occupation.  A time must come when, as you suggested in a former letter, we will isolate our mediums as they did of old, and when, I may add, we will know enough to discriminate between the sybillic utterances of the wise departed, and the jabbering and falsehoods of the “elementaries” who walk into, occupy, and control the open bodily houses of the mediums, and give us as oracles the memories, theories, and desires they see in our own minds.  You remark how apt to this point is that verse of Tom Moore’s: ---

   “I soon could trace each thought that lay
   Gleaming within her heart, as clear
   As pebbles within brooks appear.”

Apply this test to your own mediumship as well as that of others and learn to be wise.

I have already warned you against spending time or money on pseudo Occultist societies and adepts.  You will not need them, for the order has gone out from the genuine brothers to communicate with you, and all will come right in time.

Try to get private talk with “John King” --- he is an initiate, and his frivolities of speech and action are meant to cover serious business.  You can see him at Herne’s or Williams’s, and privately arrange with him to come and talk to you and bring others.  Remember the advances must always be made by ourselves.  We must desire strongly, or as Jesus --- that most spiritual-minded of our initiates --- puts it, “Knock and it shall be opened to you.”  When you have made yourself familiar with Occultism you will do well to re-peruse the Bible, for you will be astounded to find its pages swarming with precepts from the Chaldean Kabbala, and all through the Gospels the most irrefragable evidences of Christ’s initiation into the Mysteries.

The only words I would change in my report of the Holmes’ affair are in the second paragraph of my summary on p. 478.  I would now write them thus: “The phenomena described by me as having occurred in the presence of the Holmeses were genuine spirit manifestations; but I have reason to suspect that I should not have witnessed them if Madame de Blavatsky had not been present and assisted to produce them by the exercise of her powers as an Occultist.  While, therefore, the issue of my experiments does not relieve the Holmeses from the imputation of fraud, any more than the testimony of Mrs. White and Dr. Child convicts them, it does most clearly demonstrate the occurrence of real spiritual phenomena, including the materialisation of the spirit-form.

Now you see that the main question is not affected as our enemies desired and intended, for that I saw real manifestations is no more doubtful than that I write you these lines.  I did not then know what I have since learnt about Madame de Blavatsky’s powers, and she will have to answer for letting me credit her doings to the Holmeses.  She did it out of blind devotion to the Cause, which she feared might be mortally wounded if I did not report real phenomena as being seen by me in the Holmeses presence.

There is no doubt about Mrs. Compton’s transfiguration whatever.  Why, my plain, unvarnished story shows that!  You ask me what becomes of her body.  Madame de Blavatsky will answer you in an article she is now preparing under order from headquarters.

My Miracle Club is in statu quo, but will be organised in due time.  Meanwhile I am making isolated experiments and reporting the results to the daily papers.  I can do more good thus than by giving everything to the Spiritualistic Press.  I have sent you some lately.

Good-bye; God bless you.  This letter is too long already.  Let me call myself your sincere friend and brother,

H. S. OLCOTT


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[Olcott Letter #5]

I shall just write a line to save the mail, deferring a suitable reply to your friendly letter of the 10th inst. for a few days, as I want to send you a letter I have prepared for the “New York Tribune,” which in some measure answers your questions.

Meanwhile, let me advise you to join no society whatever for the present.  The European Rosicrucians bear about the same relation to the Oriental Occultists that the other degrees of Free Masonry do to practical architecture.  The fraternity, as a working branch of the real Order, died out with Cagliostro, as Free Masonry did with Wren.  What is left is a mere husk.

Again, keep clear of Eliphaz Levi’s adept.  Levi was a schismatic, and his work bears the ear-marks of the Jesuits.  He says such preposterous things as that prayer offered in a church is more efficacious than when offered in one’s own room.

Again; depend upon it, that nine-tenths of spiritual communications --- oral, trance, and written --- are not from ascended spirits, but from the elementaries whom Madame Blavatsky described in the “Scientist” so well.  I totally disbelieve in the current theory of “guides,” “controls,” and “bands,” as well as in the identity of most of the “spirits,” who not only claim to be the former denizens of this sphere, but by their Protean powers can assume their shapes and clothe themselves with their magnetic effulgence.

In pointing out the existence of these elementary spirits, Madame Blavatsky has given us a clue to most of what has hitherto been mysterious and tantalising in spiritual phenomena.

Depend upon it, that those who are true adepts of the Orient write no letters, make no boasts, and display their powers only under very exceptional circumstances.  You will encounter them --- I know it; for to you the Brotherhood looks to lead the English public towards the light, as they do to me in this country to perform the same office.  Read, mark, and digest.  You will soon hear the truth.

H. S. OLCOTT


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[Olcott Letter #6]

Called out of town by the news that my old father had suffered a paralytic stroke, I hasten upon my return to reply to your long and welcome letter of 16th ult., which I have just read.

I sincerely hope that Madame Blavatsky and her letters will not give you chronic dyspepsia, since you say that you are “digesting” the latter.  They must be tough indeed if they tax your gastric juice.  Wait until we have time to finish her book, and you will find Occultism done into “plain English.”  Many, many mysteries of Fludd and Philalethes, of Paracelsus and Agrippa are interpreted so that he who runs may read.  She has had permission to write plainly (up to a certain point, of course, and no further), and has obeyed orders.  I am the gainer first, as I sit up night after night with her, helping to polish the diamonds of wisdom.  In this way I have learned more of magic than otherwise I could have done in months --- perhaps years.  I have learnt --- not from the book, but from her orally about the Brotherhood --- their general government, habitat, the names and personalities of some of the chiefs, the nature of the power they exert and how, the assignment of duty, some of the requirements of membership, the pains, penalties, trials and rewards of novitiate.  Moreover, I have long been in personal intercourse with them by correspondence --- which comes to me at times and in ways which preclude all possibility of her agency in the matter.  They have written me certain things about her --- her disposition, mental condition, merits and demerits --- which she does not even suspect I know, for they have prevented her from seeing or knowing about them.  But other things that they have told me they have allowed her to discover.  It is very curious; is it not?  I am regularly entered as a novice, and am diligently trying to open my intuitions, and by self-development and self-purification to fit myself to attain the inestimable blessing of full membership --- which, despising as I long have all earthly honours and advantages, I consider more precious than rubies.  Her admonitions and example have made me a better, a wiser, and a purer man, and never in the remotest degree the reverse.

And yet with all that I have learnt --- so much more than you or any other person --- how little do I know of what lies beyond!  By comparison with the erudition, the power, the experience of some of these embodied and disembodied men who are counselling and teaching me, I regard myself as the most ignorant of ignoramuses!  All that I have learnt in books is dross, all the distinction I ever gained for any thing I ever did is as valueless as the rust on the rapier --- the mould on the vine.  You speak of being tortured with doubts, I have none.  Your mind is beclouded with suspicion --- mine as clear as a drop of dew.  For the first time in my life death has no mystery for me, life no remediless sorrow, the future no uncertainty.  Light comes into my intellect, little by little, and the scheme and purpose of the Creation are becoming plain.  For thirty years I have groped in darkness; now a guide leads me by the hand towards the quarter where morning breaks.  That guide is the woman whom you have heard caluminated, whom you half suspect of criminality.  She is my sister.  She has shown me the documentary record of her past life.  I know it all, from girlhood until now.  I have seen the letters from her kinsfold --- some of her orders from the Brotherhood --- the letters from persons of high social position, for whose offences she has silently borne calumny and reproach.  They confess her beneficience and fidelity, and “their” own unworthiness.  I tell you, my brother “Oxon,” that this woman is a heroine; and that is about all I can tell you.  What she has shown me, as to a tried and trusty brother, is not mine to repeat.  If my word is of weight --- if I have proven by my conduct the right to have it respected by honest people --- that must suffice.  She is blameless of evil conduct, and she is worthy of your full confidence and respect.  If you will tell me just what stories you have heard about her, instead of giving me hints which only perplex without enabling me to answer, I will let you know all that is necessary to set her right in your eyes and Massey’s.

I have stated facts about the “substratum of fact” I have found “beneath Occultism” in letters to the papers and you have read them; but still you ask, “Does anybody know anything about it except Madame Blavatsky?”  How the deuce can you be satisfied?  It’s impossible, “Oxon,” until you see things for yourself.  So wait patiently, and talk to the Brother whom you think one of your “Band.”  Get the Elementaries down and sit on them; that’s half the battle.  The other half is in learning to exercise your will-power.  I wish you would get from Paris Jacolliot’s “Spiritisme dans le Monde,” and read what the Hindoo Brothers do.  Perty has not printed half that Wagner quotes in his Russian pamphlet which he has just sent me.  Read Jacolliot, and be wise.

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[Olcott Letter # 7]

Mind you, I’m forty-three, not twenty-three --- and so neither a callow enthusiast nor a credulous simpleton.  Why, during the four years of our war, I examined some fifteen hundred witnesses (I and my few subordinates, I revising their work always) a year, and Secretary Stanton entrusted me --- as he said --- with as much power and discretion as he himself enjoyed.  He constantly issued orders, ordered trials, changed officers, established regulations upon my simple report and recommendation.  Do you think I am to be made a dupe by a woman about a matter of scientific and philosophical truth?  Do you suppose I don’t know this woman --- whom I have known as intimately as a brother a sister for over a year, so as to be able to discover if she is a strumpet, a liar, or a cheat?  Now, my lad, tell me of what is she accused.  Do you want to know how she is regarded by excellent people here?  Read the enclosed notes from Dr. Ditson and Mrs. Amer (a very refined and wealthy lady of Philadelphia) which I have “cabbaged” for you from her topsy-turvy table, the piles of papers and books upon which make it look as if a stationer’s shop had been struck by lightning.

What you mean about “Madame Blavatsky and Paris” I can’t imagine, and she can’t tell me.  If you want to know how she lived there with her brother, at 10, Rue du Palais, write to Leymaire or Madame Leymaire, both of whom knew her.  There is a Canadian lady here, a Madame Marquette, who took her medical degree here and in Paris and is practising, who saw Madame Blavatsky every day, and is perfectly ready to give me any certificate I desire as to her perfectly correct life.

At the last meeting of the Theosophical Society we had a test of Mrs. Thayer, the Boston flower and bird medium.  I put her in a bag, and no one was present at the table but our members.  We got lots of flowers and plants and a pair of pretty ring-doves.

OLCOTT


It’s just as our “Jack” (J.K., alias Sir H. M.) told me:  he marked your copy of my photo, and the Elementaries are masquerading in his lovely form all over the world.  They are at it in Boston very profusely --- every devilish humbug of a materialiser shows up a J.K.; while Mrs. Holmes keeps hers in the bosom of her dress with its nose broken and its beard half pulled out.  John is a very busy spirit, and has been working in Spiritualism ever since the Salem witchcraft days of 1694.  In fact, upon a photograph of a witchcraft trial scene that I gave him, and that hangs in Madame Blavatsky’s library, he has written in his own quaint characters this legend: “Johnny’s doings.  His work!”

The inscription upon your copy of my photo is identical with what he has put upon a whole dozen of them.  I put them in the drawer of Madame Blavatsky’s tale for a little time; looked for them and found them gone; looked again, and there they were again with the Cabalistic, (J.K.) on each.

The is the mark of the lodge (of which John is a member; having taken one degree before his death).  He has been often in London --- in fact, I met him there myself in 1870; but he says that for each time he has really appeared, twenty Elementaries have personated him.  His visitation to you is not so remarkable as the prank he played with Epes Sargent, from whose library he took away in a twinkling a photo or a card about eight by ten inches, or longer, in size, because Madame Blavatsky blew him up for making the picture of which the photo was a copy, in part from an old plate in a German magazine, and then pretending that it was all his original composition.  The picture was a most remarkable one, a central scene surrounded with separate panels, in each of which was a scene.  It was done beneath the table, by himself, in a few minutes time, and it was not until a year or more afterwards that Madame Blavatsky discovered that one of the panels was, as I say, a copy of an old engraving.  Beyond bringing us some pears and grapes two or three times when we were thirsty and requested them, and bringing Madame Blavatsky a genuine or counterfeit Jewish medal of the time of Moses, with Hebrew inscriptions, he has not done much of late.  We have been too busy to bother with tricks.

Now a word about “bands” and “controls” which seems to perplex you.  What I meant to say is that a man’s best band is his intuition, conscience and reason; his best “controls” his own purified and exalted soul.  No man has the right to submit himself to abject slavery, as most mediums do.  But a medium or seer should no more reject the advice and brotherly or paternal counsel of spirits wiser and better than himself than he should neglect to read what better, wiser and purer men put into their books or sermons.  The “Spirit Teachings” given to you bear their own endorsement.  Your Imperator is a wise and good man --- rather fixed in his earth-life notions, the result of his study, but still a wise man.  If he wanted you to do anything wrong; or if he wished you to yield servile obedience to his dictates; or if he tried to prevent your studying all you should study; and getting all the light you needed, then I should rebel, and assert the supremacy of my own royal spirit --- my Augoeides.  This is what I mean by my strictures about bands and controls.  I am sick of hearing mediums talk about them and parading the badges of their servitude upon their sleeves --- a servitude to ignorant Indians, Africans or other Diakka, and to Elementaries.  My blows are for manhood and against slavery.

I have seen the spirits of all four of the elements.  I told the story in my lecture, but the papers bungled it awfully.  It was not Felt who showed them, but a Hindoo adept who accidentally (?) met me at a restaurant.  His performance was very much like that of Jacolliot’s Covendasary.

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[Olcott Letter # 8]

Like rain upon the parched ground are your letters to me.  I esteem other correspondents --- they write me interesting letters --- some of them flatter my vanity (the Baronne Von Vay, for instance, who feeds me on the honey of applause --- and who is manifestly destined to come into our ring some day), but they are correspondents only; while you two boys seem to me like my chums, my class-mates, studying with me out of the same books, up to the same larks, and cramming for the same degree.  So keep on writing, old chap; whenever you have a half-hour fling it into an envelope and send it here with a three penny stamp.  I’ll do the same by you.

I did read your article on Soul and Spirit, and a right, sagacious, and brave one it is, too.  You write manfully, and thus show out your own manful nature.  Don’t pitch in, per saltum, like me.  I am not a Professor --- I’ve no situation to lose.  I can say and do what I please, and it’s my own business.  We are situated differently here from you.  If I were in England I might be quite a Conservative.   Here I have the whole field to myself --- like a young ass in the middle of a wide pasture --- and I bray to attract people’s

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