[H.P.B. AND THE TERM “SPIRITUALISM”]
[A great deal of misunderstanding on the subject of H.P.B.’s relation to modern Spiritualism arises from the fact that H.P.B. herself, as well as some of the students of her writings, use the word “Spiritualism” in more than one meaning.
Whenever H.P.B. states that she is a Spiritualist, that her early life has been devoted to the defence of the cause of Spiritualism, and other similar and cognate expressions, she does not mean the beliefs of ordinary mediums and of those among their numerous followers who share them. It is very important to bear in mind that a recognition of the genuineness of certain mediumistic phenomena on the part of H.P.B.—phenomena which she herself could duplicate at will and in full consciousness—never implied an acceptance of current beliefs in the manifestation of so-called “spirits” and their participation in séance phenomena. There is abundant evidence of this in the words of H.P.B. herself.
Speaking of herself as a Spiritualist and a follower of Spiritualism, H.P.B. meant what she called “ancient Spiritualism” and Spiritualism according to the “ancient Alexandrian way.”
In The Theosophical Glossary, in a paragraph definitely written in her own style, Spiritualism is defined as follows:
“In philosophy, the state or condition of mind opposed to materialism or a material conception of things. Theosophy, a doctrine which teaches that all which exists is animated or informed by the Universal Soul or Spirit, and that not an atom in our universe can be outside of this omnipresent Principle—is pure Spiritualism. As to the belief that goes under that name, namely, belief in the constant communication of the living with the dead, whether through the mediumistic powers of oneself or a so-called medium—it is no better than the materialization of spirit, and the degradation of the human and the divine souls. Believers in such communications are simply dishonouring the dead and performing constant sacrilege. It was well called ‘Necromancy’ in days of old. But our modern Spiritualists take offence at being told this simple truth.”
It is advisable to keep the above definition in mind when reading H.P.B.’s early articles on the subject of mediums and phenomena contained in the present volume.—Compiler.]