Point Loma edition 1993
Blavatsky Trust edition 2010
The teachings of Esoteric Science form one consistent whole. It is only within the context of esoteric cosmogony with its accounts of the planes of nature, and of esoteric psychology with its description of the constitution of man and of the after-death states, that the phenomena associated with spiritualism and psychism can be understood. These phenomena are many and varied, and according to the type of manifestation being considered, so must its appropriate explanation be sought.
Referring to the phenomena commonly associated with the spiritualistic seance, Mme Blavatsky writes:
The cause of such manifestations are by no means so simple as the Spiritualists would like to believe. Foremost of all, the deus ex machina of the so-called "materializations" is usually the astral body or "double" of the medium or of someone present. The Key to Theosophy, 28
It is the astral body, she explains further, that is the responsible force in a variety of manifestations. At the Eddy farmstead at Chittenden where Mme Blavatsky and Col. Olcott first met in 1874, many materializations occurred. They are described in great detail in Col. Olcott's book, People from the Other World. Among the many apparitional forms observed by him were those of a number of people whom Mme Blavatsky had known earlier in her life, one of them being her uncle.
Even the materialized form of my uncle at the Eddy's was the picture; it was I who sent it out from my own mind, as I had come to make experiments without telling it to anyone. It was like an empty outer envelope of my uncle that I seemed to throw on the medium's astral body. I saw and followed the process. I knew Will Eddy was a genuine medium, and the phenomenon was as
real as it could be, and therefore, when days of trouble came for him, I defended him in the papers. Blavatsky Collected Writings, I 35
Repeatedly in her writings Mme Blavatsky insists that there can be no communication between the living and the dead, if by communication one understands the return of the real Spirit (Ego) of the deceased person to the world he has left.
We Theosophists, and especially occultists, must never lose sight of the profound axiom of the Esoteric Doctrine which teaches us that it is we, the living, that are drawn toward the spirits - but that the latter can never, even though they would, descend to us, or rather, into our sphere. Blavatsky Collected Writings, I 36
There can, however, be communication under certain circumstances, particularly premature death of the personality, via a medium, as was explained in Part I.
The word 'spirit' in the above quotation, as distinct from soul or psyche, is used in its proper theosophical sense. It will be noted that there is no question of denying the validity of the phenomena as such: it is only the spiritualistic explanation that is called into question.
... I was sent from Paris on purpose to America to prove the phenomena and their reality and - show the fallacy of the Spiritualistic theories of "Spirits". But how could I do it best? I did not want people at large to know that I could produce the same thing at will. Blavatsky Collected Writings, I 73
The power of producing apparently inexplicable phenomena at will is commonly referred to as "magic". But magic to the occultist is a science, "a profound knowledge of the Occult forces in Nature, and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible world". The passage continues
Spiritualism in the hands of an adept becomes Magic, for he is learned in the art of blending together the laws of the Universe, without breaking any of them and thereby violating Nature. In the hands of an experienced medium, Spiritualism becomes UNCONSCIOUS SORCERY; for, by allowing himself to become the helpless tool of a variety of spirits, of whom he knows nothing save what the latter permit him to know, he opens, unknown to himself, a door of communication between the two worlds, through which emerge the blind forces of Nature lurking in the astral light, as well as good and bad spirits. Blavatsky Collected Writings, I 137
One of Mme Blavatsky's earliest attempts to place the essential teachings of esoteric philosophy before the public is to be found in the summary which introduces the last chapter of Isis Unveiled. The list of ten important points begins with the unequivocal statement:
There is no miracle.
This is elaborated to affirm that apparent miracles are not a violation of the laws of Nature but the application of laws not known to contemporary science.
Everything that happens is the result of law - eternal, immutable, ever active. Isis Unveiled, I, 157
The question may be asked: if there is no communication between the living and the dead, how is it that the entities who seem to communicate through the medium at a seance show not only intelligence but even particular skills, for example, a knowledge of foreign languages (not possessed by any medium or other person present). The explanation is that in the middle principles (Kama-Manas) of the defunct which remain in Kama-Loca for a longer or shorter time, there adhere the psychic idiosyncracies and memories and the personality traits, even to the manner of speech. It is these that impress the entranced medium who assumes them in appearance of visage, tone of voice, etc. Further, the messages received contain knowledge which possibly only the deceased person possessed
even from previous lives. These latter will probably be from the Astral Light. Sometimes knowledge of a high order, even unknown in life to the deceased may come through, but not often, in a seance. Such knowledge is that of the Individuality (Ego). The fact is, says Mme Blavatsky, that the essence of man being one with the Universal Spirit, it
is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter. Now the more these impediments are removed, in other words, the more the physical body is paralysed, as to its own independent activity and consciousness, as in deep sleep or deep trance, or, again, in illness, the more fully can the inner Self manifest on this plane. Key to Theosophy, 29]
It is evident, therefore, that before one can enter seriously into profitable discussion, one must understand the distinction between the personality, the temporary embodiment of the Ego, and the Individuality, to which alone the term "spirit" should properly be applied. The same clarification is necessary if one is to understand the nature of the reincarnation process, the personality being - as the word clearly shows - the mask assumed for one incarnation by the Actor, the enduring Ego.
There is another factor not generally taken into account in popular explanations of spiritualistic and psychic phenomena, and that is the difference between spiritual and psychic senses. The psychic is too readily assumed to be the spiritual, so that one whose perceptive faculty is able to pass through gross physical matter is thought to have developed spiritual vision. Ordinary clairvoyants and untrained seers fail to recognize the gradations of matter beyond the physical.
They can see through gross matter, such as a wall, the human body and so forth, as if it were glass, but they cannot see through astral substance, and hence they believe its forms and all the pictures and shapes in the astral light to be real. Only the adept sees through these illusions, which are far more powerful because composed of a subtile order of matter: subtile energies, fine forces, have a highly increased rate of power over grosser ones. The adept
has at his command the rate of vibration which dispels them or drives them asunder. Letters That Have Helped Me, 27
Because of the complexity, and at the same time the inter-relatedness of the many facets of the cosmic process, there is no one place in the literature of Esoteric Science in which the student can find a complete exposition of the subject of psychic phenomena and their production. In addition to what has been explained above, one must again refer to the role of the elementals and the ubiquity of the Astral Light.
There is not a single thing going on about us, no matter what, that elementals are not concerned in, because they constitute a necessary part of nature, just as important as the nerve currents in your body. Blavatsky Collected Writings, X 271
An incident narrated by W.Q. Judge may serve to illustrate their role in the production of phenomena in consequence of their power to acquaint themselves with the thoughts and unuttered wishes of human beings. He was in London at the time, with Mme Blavatsky, and found himself in need of a certain sheet of paper on which he had written a few lines, but he had left it behind in America. Without expressing the thought in words, he wondered to himself whether, by some means, she could obtain the paper for him.
She smiled at me, rose, went into her room, came out at once, and in a moment handed me a piece of paper ... To my amazement it was a duplicate of my paper, a facsimile. I then asked her how she got it, and she replied: "I saw it in your head and the rest was easy. You thought it very clearly. You know it can be done; and it was needed". This was all done in about the time it takes to read these descriptive sentences. Blavatsky Collected Writings, X 273
Seeking out and putting together the considerable body of detailed information about the planes of Nature (in particular, the Akasha and the Astral Light), the constitution of man in life and death, the elements,
elementals and elementaries, the student will find answers to most of his questions concerning psychic faculties (clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychometry, psycho-kinesis and so on), fortune-telling and divination, hypnotism, materializations, healing and apparent magical performances. Because of the essential unity underlying the whole of existence, occult philosophy recognizes no supernatural agency, and all that appears to the ignorant as magical or miraculous must in fact take place in accordance with natural law.
We would that all who have a voice in the education of the masses should first know and then teach that the safest guides to human happiness and enlightenment are those writings which have descended to us from the remotest antiquity; and that nobler spiritual aspirations and a higher average morality prevail in the countries where the people take their precepts as the rule of their lives. We would have all to realize that magical, i.e., spiritual powers exist in every man, and those few to practise them who feel called to teach, and are ready to pay the price of discipline and self conquest which their development exacts ... Isis Unveiled, 634
We must now say a few words to correct the popular misconception that identifies Occultism with black magic and such black arts as witchcraft and necromancy.
It has been explained earlier that the invisible worlds around us are peopled by Elementals and Elementaries, and that these entities are responsible for the great variety of psychic and spiritualistic phenomena. To this we must add the further fact that human thought-forms are animated by such Elementals and maybe by Elementaries. This is true whether the thought-form is produced by one individual or by a group. Where the thought is strongly defined, and especially when it is reinforced by emotion, the mental image thus created may become vivified by an Elemental and thus acquire a measure of independent life. The collective thought of a group of people, as for example a congregation of worshippers or the audience at a political meeting, may create a powerful entity, ensouled by either an Elemental or an Elementary, which will be fed and strengthened by the intensity of the emotion with which it has been charged. It may then be
sensed by other members of the group who thus find themselves swept along on a strong current of irresistible and maybe violent emotion which can cause them to behave in ways which, individually, they would repudiate. Similarly, a mediumistic member of the group may be moved to make utterances or deliver messages which appear to come from a power beyond him - as indeed they do, that power being the entity called into existence by the collective thoughts of worshippers or other people present.
Power in itself, of whatever kind, is neither good nor evil: it becomes either good or evil according to its use. The difference between white and black magic is that in the former the power is exercised only for beneficent purposes, whereas in the latter it is turned to selfish or even maleficent ends. The karmic consequences to the magician will be in accordance with those purposes and with the benefit or harm to others resulting from the exercise of his powers. In both cases, the effective agents are the Elementals, the magician being one who has learnt how to evoke and control them. It is a mistake to think of magic as in any way supernatural, if by that we mean an action brought about in contravention of natural law: in the occult philosophy it is axiomatic that there is nothing outside Nature. In what appear to be miraculous or magical performances, both the white and the black magicians are using - for good or evil - knowledge of their own powers and of the processes of Nature. As stated earlier in this chapter, there is no miracle:
Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of the principles [of man and Cosmos], and of the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature's forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice. Isis Unveiled, 588
It is hardly necessary to add that the Occultism with which we are concerned is entirely beneficent. Nothing further therefore needs to be added about the black arts, save the recognition that they are no fiction. No occultist of the "right-hand path", no "white Adept", will ever exercise his powers for his own advantage or to escape the disagreeable consequences of past mistakes, nor will he make any attempt to interfere with the karma of others. He may, however, by his wisdom and strength, so inspire and
strengthen those who seek his help that they are enabled to face their difficulties with greater understanding and courage.
Deity Cosmos and Man >Next Page Part 2 Chapter XIII Spiritual Development