FOOTNOTES TO “NOTES ON MODERN EGYPTIAN THEOSOPHY”
[Journal of The Theosophical Society, Vol. I, No. 2, February,
1884, pp. 36-37]
[In this paper read by W. F. Kirby, F.T.S., at a meeting of the British Theosophical Society, April 2, 1882, the author says, among other things, “the beings which play the most important part in Arab romances are the finn, or Genii, which appear to correspond very closely to the beings known to us as the Elementals . . ” To this H. P. B. remarks:]
They are the Preta, Yaksha, Dakini—the lowest of the Hindu elementals, while the Gandharvas, Vidyadharas and even the Apsaras belong to the highest. Some of them—the former, are dangerously mischievous, while the latter are benevolent, and, if properly approached willing to impart to men useful knowledge of arts and sciences.
[Quoting from E. W. Lane’s An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians and his notes to The Thousand and One Nights, Mr. Kirby draws attention to the following two passages: “It is commonly affirmed that malicious or disturbed finn very often station themselves on the roofs or at the windows of homes in Cairo and other towns of Egypt, and throw bricks and stones down into the streets and courts . . . It is believed that each quarter in Cairo has its peculiar guardian genius, or Agathodaimon, which has the form of a serpent.” To this, H. P. B. appends the following two footnotes:]
Spiritualists regard them indiscriminately as the “spirit” of the dead. There is a like superstition among the uneducated in India who think that no sooner a person dies than he (or she) stations himself on the roof of his house and sits there for nine days. But if, at the expiration of that time he renders himself visible, he is considered as an unclean spirit, a “bhut” whose sins prevent him to attain Mukti and get out of Kama-loka—the abode of “shells.”
In every Bengal village, and we think everywhere else in India, a serpent couple is always considered the guardian spirits of a house. These serpents are the deadliest cobras. Still they are so much venerated that no one would ever
throw a stone at them. Killing any of these serpents is believed to be followed invariably by the death of the impious slayer, whom the bereaved mate is sure to track out even at a great distance and kill in his turn. Instances are numerous in which such serpents have been in houses from generation to generation unmolesting and unmolested. Their departure from a house is considered the sure precursor of the utter ruin of the family. This shows a great similarity between the Egyptian and Hindu myths, which preceded them.
[Mr. Kirby continues: “Several superhuman beings besides finn of various orders, are believed to inhabit desert places, especially the cannibal monsters called Ghools. It seems to have been a creature very similar to the Arab Ghooleh that Apollonius of Tyana saw in the desert on his way to India, and which is spoken of as an Empusa.” To this, H. P. B. says:]
The ghools are known under the same name in Bretagne (France) and called vurdalaks in Moldavia, Wallachia, Bulgaria, etc. They are the Vampire shells, the Elementaries who live a posthumous life at the expense of their living victims.