[The Theosophist, Vol. II, No. 11, August, 1881, pp. 231-233]
The writer of the letter to which H. P. B. appends an explanatory note, A. J. Riko, of The Hague, Holland, presents interesting details, including an official report from the Dutch East Indies, signed by Major W. Michiels, concerning the phenomenon of falling stones, singly or in showers. Riko cites several instances in all of which the stones appear to have been guided by unseen hands, as no one was ever hurt, though the stones were sometimes the size of an egg, and continued falling near certain individuals for periods of two weeks. Riko concludes his letter by inquiring of H. P. B. as to the nature of the invisible beings who cause such showers of stones to come down.
Some of the geographical names in Riko’s letter are obviously misspelt, and H.P.B., having corrected them, adds in a footnote:]
Unless the blame for the incorrect rendering of the names of these localities is to be laid at the door of the printers we
have to beg Mr. Riko’s pardon for the liberty we take in correcting them. The cases related by him are most incredible for the general reader, though, having witnessed far more extraordinary phenomena personally, we believe in them thoroughly. But The Theosophist is sent throughout the world. Some persons might read this account in Java, or, finding themselves there, desire to ascertain how far the statements are true. It is absolutely necessary that in every case the names of the localities, where the phenomena took place, and their geographical position, should be rendered as carefully as possible. The Theosophists and Spiritualists have too many enemies to allow the latter triumphs which might be easily avoided by exercising some little care. And neither of us—Spiritists or Theosophists—can be too careful.
[The letter is followed by H. P. B.’s comment:]
Meanwhile, Mr. Riko will perhaps permit us a word. The last sentence of his letter proves clearly that even he, a spiritist, is unable to trace such a uniformly senseless, idiotic phenomenon—one that periodically occurs in every part of the world and without the slightest cause for it, as without the least moral effect upon those present—to the agency of disembodied human spirits. We will know that, while most of the spiritists will attribute it to the esprits malins (malicious disembodied spirits), the Roman Catholic world and most of the pious Protestants at least those who may have convinced themselves of the facts—will lay it at the door of the devil. Now for argument’s sake, and allowing the idea of such creatures as the “malicious human souls” of the spiritist and the “demons” of the Christian theology to exist elsewhere than in imagination, how can both these classes of believers account for the contradictions involved? Here are beings which or who—whether devils, or malicious ex-human imps—are evidently wicked. Their object—if they have any at all—must be to derive cruel pleasure from tormenting mortals? They cannot be less bent upon mischief or more careful of possible results than ordinary mischievous schoolboys. Yet we see the stones, or whatever the missiles may be, carefully avoiding contract with those present. They
fall all around without “even grazing” the little Javanese girl—evidently the medium in the case observed by General Michiels. They fall thick among the ranks of the soldiers at “Fort Victoria”; and pass incessantly for several days before the very noses of the police agents at Paris and The Hague, without ever touching, let alone hurting, anyone! What does this mean? Malicious human spirits, to say nothing of devils, would certainly have no such delicate care for those they were bent upon tormenting. What are they then, these invisible persecutors? Ordinary human “spirits”? In such a case human intelligence would be but a name; a word devoid of meaning as soon as it gets separated from its physical organs. It would become a blind force, a remnant of intellectual energy that was, and we would have to credit every liberated soul with insanity!
Having disposed of the theory of “spirits,” “imps” and “devils,” on the score of the idiocy and total absence of malevolence in the proceedings, once that the genuineness of the phenomenon is proved, to what else can it be attributed in its causation or origin, but to a blind though living force; one subjected to an intransgressible law of attraction and repulsion—in its course and effects—a law which exact science has yet to discover; for it is one of innumerable correlations due to magnetic conditions which are supplied only when both animal and terrestrial magnetism are present; meanwhile the former has to fight its way step by step for recognition, for science will not recognize it in its psychological effects—do what its advocates may. The Spiritualists regard the phenomena of the stone-showers as irregular. We, Theosophists, answer that although their occurrence at a given place may appear to be very irregular, yet from a comparison of those in all parts of the world it might be found, if carefully recorded, that hitherto they have been uniform or nearly so. Perhaps they may be aptly compared with the terrestrial magnetic perturbations called by Science “fitful,” and distinctly separated by her, at one time, from that other class she named “periodical”; the “fitful” now being found to recur at as regular periods as the former. The cause of these variations of the magnetic needle is as entirely
unknown to physical science as are the phenomena of stone-showers to those who study psychological Science; yet both are closely connected. If we are asked what we mean by the comparison—and indignant may be the question on the part of both Science and Spiritualism—we will humbly answer that such is the teaching of Occult Science. Both classes of our opponents have yet much to learn, and the Spiritualists—to first unlearn much in addition. Did our friends the believers in “spirits” ever go to the trouble of first studying “mediumship” and only then turning their attention to the phenomena occurring through the sensitives? We, at least, never heard that such is the case, not even during the most scientific investigations of mediumistic powers that ever took place—Professor Hare’s and Mr. Crookes’ experiments. And yet, had they done so, they might have found how closely related to and dependent on the variations of terrestrial magnetism are those of the mediumistic or animal magnetic state. Whenever a true medium fails to get phenomena it is immediately attributed by the Spiritualists, and oftener by the “Spirits” themselves, to “unfavourable conditions.” The latter are lumped together in a single phrase; but never did we hear the real scientific and chief cause for it given: the unfavourable variations of the terrestrial magnetism. The lack of harmony in the “circle” of investigators; various and conflicting magnetisms of the “sitters” are all of secondary importance. The power of a real, strongly charged medium* will always prevail against the animal magnetism which may be adverse to it: but it cannot produce effects unless it
* We hold that a “physical medium,” so-called, is but an organism more sensitive than most others to the terrestrial electro-magnetic induction. That the powers of a medium for the production of phenomena fluctuate from one hour to another is a fact proven by Mr. Crookes’ experiments and, believing though we do in the existence of innumerable other so-called Spiritual Forces besides and quite independent of human spirits, we yet firmly maintain that physical mediums have very little, if anything, to do with the latter. Their powers are purely physical and conditional; i.e., these powers depend almost entirely on the degree of receptivity, and chance polarization of the body of the medium by the electro-magnetic and atmospheric currents. Purely psychological manifestations are quite a different thing.
receives a fresh supply of molecular force, an impress from the invisible body of those we call blind “Elementals” or Forces of Nature, and which the Spiritualists in every case regard as the “spirits of the dead.” Showers of stones have been known to take place where there was not a living soul—consequently no medium. The medium charged by the atmospheric legion of “correlations” (we prefer calling them by the new scientific term) will attract stones within the periphery of his force, but will at the same time repel them, the polaric condition of his body preventing the missiles from touching it. And his own molecular condition will temporarily induct with its properties all the other human and even non-sensitive bodies around it. Sometimes there may be an exception to the rule produced by some chance condition.
This explanatory postscript may be closed with the remark to Mr. Riko that we do not regard the Elementals of the Kabalists as properly “beings.” They are the active Forces and correlations of Fire, Water, Earth and Air, and their shape is like the hues of the chameleon which has no permanent colour of its own. Through the interplanetary and interstellar spaces, the vision of almost every clairvoyant can reach. But it is only the trained eye of the proficient in Eastern Occultism, that can fix the flitting shadows and give them a shape and a name.