ANIMATED STATUES *
[The Theosophist, Vol. VIII, No. 86, November, 1886, pp. 65-73]
To whatsoever cause it may be due matters little, but the word fetish is given in the dictionaries the restricted sense of “an object selected temporarily for worship,”a small idol used by the African savages,” etc., etc.
In his Des Cultes qui ont précédé et amené l’idolatrie, Dulaure defines Fetishism as “the adoration of an object considered by the ignorant and the weak-minded as the receptacle or the habitation of a god or genius.”
Now all this is extremely erudite and profound, no doubt; but it lacks the merit of being either true or correct. Fetish may be an idol among the negroes of
* [In this essay, H.P.B. uses a good deal of material collected by the Marquis Eudes de Mirville in his work entitled: Pneumatologie. Des Esprits et de leurs manifestations divers, which, in its entirety, consists of three Mémoires addressed to the French Academy, between the years 1851 and 1868. This material is in many places woven into her own narrative, and is not necessarily quoted, except in cases of definite passages which are marked accordingly. Vide Bio-Bibliogr. Index, s. v. MIRVILLE, for full data regarding this work.—Compiler.]
Africa, according to Webster; and there are weak-minded and ignorant people certainly who are fetish worshippers. Yet the theory that certain objects—statues, images, and amulets for example—serve as a temporary or even constant habitation to a “god,” “genius” or spirit simply, has been shared by some of the most intellectual men known to history. It was not originated by the ignorant and weak-minded, since the majority of the world’s sages and philosophers, from credulous Pythagoras down to sceptical Lucian, believed in such a thing in antiquity; as in our highly civilized, cultured and learned century several hundred millions of Christians still believe in it, whether the above definitions be correct or the one we shall now give. The administration of the Sacrament, the mystery of Transubstantiation “in the supposed conversion of the bread and wine of the Eucharist into the body and blood of Christ,” would render the bread and wine and the communion cup along with them fetishes—no less than the tree or rag or stone of the savage African. Every miracle-working image, tomb and statue of a Saint, Virgin or Christ, in the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches, have thus to be regarded as fetishes; because, whether the miracle is supposed to be wrought by God or an angel, by Christ or a saint, those images or statues do become—if the miracle be claimed as genuine—“the receptacle or dwelling” for a longer or shorter time of God or an “angel of God.”
It is only in the Dictionnaire des Religions (article on “Fétichisme”)* that a pretty correct definition may be found: “The word fetish was derived from the Portuguese word feitiço, ‘enchanted,’ ‘bewitched’ or ‘charmed’; whence fatum, ‘destiny,’ fatua, ‘fairy’ . . ..”
* [Reference is here made to the Dictionnaire Universel historique et comparatif de toutes les religions du monde, etc., by the Abbé François Marie Bertrand. 4 Vols. Paris, 1848-50. It comprises Vols. 24-27 of J.P. Migne’s Encyclopédie théologique. The quotation appears to be merely a summary of the longer explanation in the original work. —Compiler.]
Fetish, moreover, was and still ought to be identical with “idol”; and as the author of The Teraphim of Idolatry says: “Fetishism is the adoration of any object, whether inorganic or living, large or of minute proportions, in which, or, in connection with which, any ‘spirit’ [good or bad in short—an invisible intelligent power] has manifested its presence.”*
Having collected for my Secret Doctrine a number of notes upon this subject, I may now give some of them à propos of the latest theosophical novel, A Fallen Idol,† and thus show that work of fiction based on some very occult truths of Esoteric Philosophy.
The images of all the gods of antiquity, from the earliest Aryans down to the latest Semites—the Jews—were all idols and fetishes, whether called Teraphim, Urim and Thummim, Kabeiri, or cherubs, or the gods Lares. If, speaking of the teraphim—a word that Grotius translates as “angels,” an etymology authorized by Cornelius, who says that they “were the symbols of angelic presence”—the Christians are allowed to call them “the mediums through which divine presence was manifested,” why not apply the same to the idols of the “heathen”?
I am perfectly alive to the fact that the modern man of science, like the average sceptic, believes no more in an “animated” image of the Roman Church than he does
* [By referring to de Mirville, Des Esprits, etc., Vol. III, p. 249, where this quote is to be found, the impression can be gathered that de Mirville speaks in this case editorially, instead of actually quoting from some other author. This impression is strengthened by the fact that one of the sub-titles of this Chapter xi in his work is: “Les téraphims idolâtriques,” which corresponds very well to H.P.B.’s title, “The Teraphim of Idolatry.” It is probable, therefore, that no special work is meant here, but rather this particular chapter of de Mirville.—Compiler.]
† [By F. Anstey—pseud. of Thomas Anstey Guthrie, 1856-1934—New York: J. W. Lovell Co., 1886; 2nd ed., 1886; 3rd ed., 1902.—Compiler.]
in the “animated” fetish of a savage. But there is no question, at present, of belief or disbelief. It is simply the evidence of antiquity embracing a period of several thousands of years, as against the denial of the XIXth century—the century of Spiritualism and Spiritism, of Theosophy and Occultism, of Charcot and his hypnotism, of psychic “suggestion,” and of unrecognized BLACK MAGIC all round.
Let us Europeans honour the religion of our forefathers, by questioning it on its beliefs and their origin, before placing on its defence pagan antiquity and its grand philosophy; where do we find in Western sacred literature, so-called, the first mention of idols and fetishes? In chapter xxxi (et seq.) of Genesis, in Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia, wherein the ancestors of Abraham, Serug and Terah, worshipped little idols in clay which they called their gods; and where also, in Haran, Rachel stole the images (teraphim) of her father Laban. Jacob may have forbidden the worship of those gods, yet one finds 325 years after that prohibition, the Mosaic Jews adoring “the gods of the Amorites” all the same (Joshua, xxiv, 14-15). The teraphim-gods of Laban exist to this day among certain tribes of Mussulmans on Persian territory. They are small statuettes of tutelary genii, or gods, which are consulted on every occasion. The Rabbis explain that Rachel had no other motive for stealing her father’s gods than that of preventing his learning from them the direction she and her husband Jacob had taken, lest he should prevent them from leaving his home once more. Thus, it was not piety, or the fear of the Lord God of Israel, but simply a dread of the indiscretion of the gods that made her secure them. Moreover, her mandrakes were only another kind of sortilegious and magical implements.
Now what is the opinion of various classical and even sacred writers on these idols, which Hermes Trismegistus calls “statues foreseeing futurity” (Asclepius)?*
* [Reference is here made to one of the extant Hermetic fragments. It is a Dialogue between Asclepius and Hermes Trismegistus, the
Philo of Biblos shows that the Jews consulted demons like the Amorites, especially through small statues made of gold, shaped as nymphs which, questioned at any hour, would instruct them what the querists had to do and what to avoid (Antiquities).* In Moreh Nebhuchim (lib. III) it is said that nothing resembled more those portative and preserving gods of the pagans (dii portatiles vel Averrunci) than those tutelary gods of` the Jews. They were veritable phylacteries or animated talismans, the simulacra spirantia of Apuleius (Book xi), whose answers, given in the temple of the goddess of Syria, were heard by Lucian personally, and repeated by him. Kircher (the Jesuit Father) shows also that the teraphim looked, in quite an extraordinary way, like the pagan Serapises of Egypt; and Cedrenus seems to corroborate that statement of Kircher (in his Oedipus Aegyptiacus, Vol. III, pp. 474-75) by showing that the t and the s (like the Sanskrit s and Zend h) were
Greek original of which is now lost. We have only a Latin translation of it, which used to be attributed by some to Apuleius. It is known as Hermetis Trismegisti Asclepius, seu de Natura Deorum Dialogus. Latin text and English translation of it can be found in the monumental work, Hermetica. The Ancient Greek and Latin Writings which contain religious and philosophical teachings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus. Edited and transl. by Walter Scott. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924-26.
Hermes speaks therein of “. . . . statuas animatas sensu et spiritu plenas, tantaque facientes et talia, statuas futurorum praescias, eaque sorte, vate, somniis, multisque aliis rebus praedicentes, inbecillitates hominibus facientes easque curantes, tristitiam laetitiamque pro meritus (dispensantes).”—“. . . statues, animated and conscious, filled with spirit, and doing many mighty works; statues foreseeing futurity and predicting events by the drawing of lots, by prophetic inspiration, by dreams, and many other ways; statues which inflict diseases and heal them, dispensing sorrow and joy according to men’s deserts.”—Compiler.]
* [This statement appears in de Mirville, Des Esprits, etc., Vol. III, p. 251, where it is credited to Antiquities. It is most likely that this is meant to be a reference to a work known as Philonis Judaei Antiquitatum Biblicarum liber, which was published at Basle in 1527, edited by Johannes Sichart. Formerly this Latin version of a vanished Greek (and most probably a Hebrew) original was ascribed
convertible letters, the Seraphim (or Serapis) and the teraphim, being absolute synonyms.*
to Philo Judaeus, known also as Philo of Alexandria, but later research has ascertained that this is hardly possible, both on account of its style and literary character. Sichart used for his editorial work two MSS.: one belonging to the Monastery of Lorsch, and another belonging to Fulda; the latter has since disappeared. There are MSS. of this work in the Vatican Library (Vaticanus Latinus 488, 15th cent.) and the Vienna Library (Vindob. Lat. 446). It would appear that for several centuries the existence of this work, as edited by Sichart, was unknown or rather forgotten, until brought to light in the last years of the 19th century. Yet the Latin text of this work on Biblical Antiquities had been circulated many times together with the translations of genuine works by Philo Alexandrinus, thus probably giving rise to the belief that it was from the pen of Philo.
This work is a version of Biblical history from Adam to the death of Saul, and falls under the general category of Apocrypha. In one of its passages, it speaks of seven golden idols adorned with precious stones and found by the tribe of Asher; they belonged to the Amorites and were called by them the Holy Nymphs; when invoked, the nymphs showed them their tasks from hour to hour. For further details consult Leopold Cohn’s essay, “An Apocryphal Work ascribed to Philo of Alexandria,” in the Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. X, Jan., 1898, pp. 277-332.
On the other hand, Philo of Biblos (or Byblos), known also as Herennius Byblius, was an entirely different personage, and the fact of his being mentioned in this connection by de Mirville is most likely a lapsus calami.—Compiler.]
* [Page 475, in the chapter entitled “De Penatibus, Laribus, et Serapibus Aegyptiorum,” has the following passage which expresses definitely the thought to which H. P. B. refers:
“Atque hace sunt simulachra quae Hebraei Theraphim vocant, quae Rachelem patri suo Laban furatam facer textus Genes. cap. 31 testatur; de quibus integro tractatu Tomo primo, Syntagmata IV, fol. 254. egimus & ex Aegypto per feruos Abrahame in Palaestinam portata, propagataque, ibidem docuimus. Theraphim dicebant, quia cum S. pronunciare non possent, mutato S in T, more chaldaeis folito, & mutato ultimo S in im, Theraphim ea simulachra dicebant, quae Aegyptij Serapes dicebant.”
As to the use of these idols, Maimonides tells us (Moreh Nebhuchim, lib. III, chap. xxix) that these gods or images passed for being endowed with the prophetic gift, and as being able to tell the people in whose possession they were “all that was useful and salutary for them.”
All these images, we are told, had the form of a baby or small child, others were only occasionally much larger. They were statues or regular idols in the human shape. The Chaldeans exposed them to the beams of certain planets for the latter to imbue them with their virtues and potency. These were for purposes of astro-magic; the regular teraphim for those of necromancy and sorcery, in most cases. The spirits of the dead (elementaries) were attached to them by magic art, and they were used for various sinful purposes.
Ugolino* puts in the mouth of the sage Gamaliel, St. Paul’s master (or guru), the following words, which he quotes, he says, from his Capito, chap. xxxvi:
They [the possessors of such necromantic teraphim] killed a newborn baby, cut off its head, and placed under its tongue, salted and oiled, a little gold lamina in which the name of an evil spirit was perforated; then, after suspending that head on the wall of their chamber, they lighted lamps before it, and prostrated on the ground, they conversed with it.†
* Blasius Ugolino, Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum, etc., Vol. XXIII, col. cccclxxv.
[Vide the Bio-Bibliogr. Index, s. v. UGOLINO, for further data.— Compiler.]
† [The Latin original of this passage is as follows:
“Scriptor antiquissimus R. Elieser Magnus, filius Hircani, qui in Gemars R. Elieser appellatur, & Rabban Gammalieli secundum, qui fuit praeceptor Apostoli Pauli, affinitate junctus fuisse fertur, in Capitulis suis Cap. xxxvi. Teraphim ita describit: (Hebrew script) i.e. mactabant hominem primogenitum, & ungue secabant caputejus, & saliebant illud sale, & oleo, scribebantque super laminam auream nomen spiritus immundi, & ponebant illam sub lingua ejus. Postea reponebant illud caput ad parietam, & incandebant lampadas coram eo, ac procumbebant coram ipso; & sic loquebatur simulacrum illud cum eis.”
The learned Marquis de Mirville believes that it was just such ex-human fetishes that were meant by Philostratus, who gives a number of instances of the same. “There was the head of Orpheus”—he says—“which spoke to Cyrus, and the head of a priest-sacrificer from the temple of Jupiter Hoplosmios, in Caria, which, when severed from its body, revealed, as Aristotle narrates, the name of its murderer, one called Ceucidas; and the head of one Publius Capitanus, which, according to Trallianus, at the moment of the victory won by Acilius Glabrio, the Roman Consul, over Antiochus, King of Asia, predicted to the Romans the great misfortunes that would soon befall them. . . .” (Pneumatologie. Des Esprits, etc., 2nd Mémoire to the Academy, Vol. III, p. 252).
Diodorus tells the world how such idols were fabricated for magical purposes in days of old. Semelê, the daughter of Cadmus, having in consequence of a fright given premature birth to a child of seven months, Cadmus, in order to follow the custom of his country and to give it (the babe) a supermundane origin which would make it live after death, enclosed its body within a gold statue, and made of it an idol for which a special cult and rites were established. (Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, lib. I, 23, 4-5.)*
As Fréret, in his article in the Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions, Vol. XXIII, p. 247, pointedly remarks, when commenting upon the above passage: “A singular thing, deserving still more attention, is that the said consecration of Semelê’s baby by Cadmus, which the Orphics show as having been the custom of Cadmus’ ancestors—is precisely the ceremony described by the Rabbis, as cited by Seldenus, with regard to the teraphim or household gods of the Syrians and the Phoenicians. There is little probability, however, that the Jews should have been acquainted with the Orphics.”
Thus, there is every reason to believe that the numerous drawings in Father Kircher’s Oedipus, little
* [The Greek original of this passage uses the expression for “gilded” or “enclosed in gold.”—Comp.]
figures and heads with metallic laminae protruding from under their tongues, which hang entirely out of the heads’ mouths, are real and genuine teraphims—as shown by de Mirville. Then again in Le Blanc’s Religions (Vol. III, p. 277), speaking of the Phoenician teraphim, the author compares them to the Greco-Phrygian palladium, which contained human relics. “All the mysteries of the apotheosis, of orgies, sacrifices and magic, were applied to such heads. A child young enough to have his innocent soul still united with the Anima Mundi—the Mundane Soul—was killed,” he says; “his head was embalmed and its soul was fixed in it, as it is averred, by the power of magic and enchantments.” After which followed the usual process, the gold lamina, etc., etc.*
Now this is terrible BLACK MAGIC, we say; and none but the dugpas of old, the villainous sorcerers of antiquity, used it. In the Middle Ages only several Roman Catholic priests are known to have resorted to it; among others the apostate Jacobin priest in the service of Queen Catherine of Medici, that faithful daughter of the Church of Rome and the author of the “St. Bartholomew Massacre.” The
* [This excerpt is from a work entitled Les religions et leur interprétation chrétienne, by Th.-Prosper le Blanc d’Ambonne. Paris: J. Leroux et Jouly, 1852-55. 3 vols. 8vo. The original French text of this entire passage is as follows:
“Les mêmes idées paraissent avoir présidé à la confection des Théraphim ou images par excellence des Phéniciens. Semblables au Palladium gréco-phrygien, ils renfermaient des débris humains ou plutôt des reliques de victimes humaines. Tous les mystères de l’apothéose, des orgies, des sacrifices et de la magie s’y trouvaient réunis. On immolait un enfant assez jeune pour que son âme innocente ne fût pas encore séparée de l’Âme du monde; on conservait sa tête embaumée dans laquelle son âme était fixée par la puissance de la magie et des enchantements; on mettait dans sa bouche une lame d’or, emblème physique de l’épanouissement de la lumière et allégorie de la manifestation de la vérité; sur cette lame était gravé le nom de Dieu, puis la tête était enfermée dans une épaisse muraille, symbole de la caverne cosmogonique qui recèle la vie de l’univers, maison de Dieu.”
The italics in the passage as quoted by H.P.B. are her own emphasis of certain ideas.—Compiler.]
story is given by Bodin, in his famous work on Sorcery, De la Démonomanie des Sorciers (Paris, 1587); and it is quoted in Isis Unveiled (Vol. II, pp. 55-56). Pope Sylvester II was publicly accused by Cardinal Benno of sorcery, on account of his “Brazen Oracular Head.” These heads and other talking statues, trophies of the magical skill of monks and bishops, were fac-similes of the animated gods of the ancient temples. Benedict IX, John XX, and VIth and VIIth Popes Gregory are all known in history as sorcerers and magicians. Notwithstanding such an array of facts to show that the Latin Church has despoiled the ancient Jews of all—aye, even of their knowledge of black art inclusively—one of their advocates of modern times, namely, the Marquis de Mirville, is not ashamed to publish against the modern Jews, the most terrible and foul of accusations!
In his violent polemics with the French symbologists, who try to find a philosophical explanation for ancient Bible customs and rites, he says: “We pass over the symbolic significations that are sought for to explain all such customs of the idolatrous Jews [their human teraphim and severed baby-heads], because we do not believe in them [such explanations] at all. But we do believe, for one, that ‘the head’ consulted by the Scandinavian Odin in every difficult affair was a teraphim of the same [magic] class. And that in which we believe still more is, that all those mysterious disappearances and abductions of small [Christian] children, practised at all times and even in our own day by the Jews—are the direct consequences of those ancient and barbarous necromantic practices . . . . Let the reader remember the incident of Demas and Father Thomas.” (Pneumatologie. Des Esprits, etc., Vol. III, p. 254.)
Quite clear and unmistakable this. The unfortunate, despoiled Israelites are plainly charged with abducting Christian children to behead and make oracular heads with them, for purposes of sorcery! Where will bigotry and intolerance with their odium theologicum land next, I wonder?
On the contrary, it seems quite evident that it is just in consequence of such terrible malpractices of Occultism that Moses and the early ancestors of the Jews were so strict in carrying out the severe prohibition against graven images, statues and likenesses in any shape, of either “gods” or living men. This same reason was at the bottom of the like prohibition by Mohammed and enforced by all the Mussulman prophets. For the likeness of any person, in whatever form and mode, of whatever material, may be turned into a deadly weapon against the original by a really learned practitioner of the black art. Legal authorities during the Middle Ages, and even some of 200 years ago, were not wrong in putting to death those in whose possession small wax figures of their enemies were found, for it was murder contemplated, pure and simple. “Thou shalt not draw the vital spirits of thy enemy, or of any person into his simulacrum,” for “this is a heinous crime against nature.” And again: “Any object into which the fiat of a spirit has been drawn is dangerous, and must not be left in the hands of the ignorant . . . . An expert (in magic) has to be called to purify it.” (Pract. Laws of Occult Science, Book V, Coptic copy.) In a kind of “Manual” of Elementary Occultism, it is said: “To make a bewitched object (fetish) harmless, its parts have to be reduced to atoms (broken), and the whole buried in damp soil”—(follow instructions, unnecessary in a publication).*
That which is called “vital spirits” is the astral body. “Souls, whether united or separated from their bodies, have a corporeal substance inherent to their nature,” says St. Hilarius (Commentarius in Matthaeum, cap. v, 8).†
* The author of A Fallen Idol,—whether through natural intuition or study of occult laws, it is for him to say—shows knowledge of this fact by making Nebelsen say that the spirit or the tirthankara was paralyzed and torpid during the time his idol had been buried in India. That Eidôlon or Elementary could do nothing. See p. 295.
† [Although the original text of H.P.B. has “St. Hilarion,” she means St. Hilarius Pictaviensis, or St. Hilary of Poitiers (died 368 A. D.), the original Latin text of the passage being: “. . . . Nam
Now the astral body of a living person, of one unlearned in occult sciences, may be forced (by an expert in magic) to animate, or be drawn to, and then fixed within any object, especially into anything made in his likeness, a portrait, a statue, a little figure in wax, &c. And as whatever hits or affects the astral reacts by repercussion on the physical body, it becomes logical and stands to reason that, by stabbing the likeness in its vital parts—the heart, for instance—the original may be sympathetically killed, without anyone being able to detect the cause of it. The Egyptians, who separated man (exoterically) into three divisions or groups—“mind body” (pure spirit, our 7th and 6th prin.); the spectral soul (the 5th, 4th, and 3rd principles); and the gross body (prana and sthula sarira), called forth in their theurgies and evocations (for divine white magical purposes, as well as for those of the black art) the “spectral soul,” or astral body, as we call it.
“It was not the soul itself that was evoked, but its simulacrum that the Greeks called Eidôlon, and which was the middle principle between soul and body. That doctrine came from the East, the cradle of all learning. The Magi of Chaldea as well as all other followers of Zoroaster, believed that it was not the divine soul alone (spirit) which would participate in the glory of celestial light, but also the sensitive soul.” (“Psellus, in Scholiis, in Orac.”)*
et animarum species, sive obtinentium corpora, sive corporibus exsulantium, corpoream tamen naturae suae substantiam sortiuntur; quia omne quod creatum est, in aliquo sit necesse est . . . .” (J. P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Prima, Paris, 1844, etc., Tomus IX, col. 946)—Compiler.]
* [This seems to be a rather unsatisfactory reference. It is most likely to be the Scholiis of Psellus on the Oracles of Zoroaster. A thorough search has been made in the work bearing the title of: Zoroaster, Oracula magica cum Scholiis Plethonis et Pselli nunc primum editi. Studio Johannis Opsopoei, 1607, containing both the Greek and the Latin texts. However, the passage quoted by H. P. B. has not been found therein. It may be that this excerpt is merely a general summary of ideas which, as a whole, are to be found in Psellus’ Scholiis.—Compiler.]
H. P. B. AT HER DESK, 17, LANSDOWNE ROAD, LONDON
This picture was taken one morning in the Fall of 1887, just as she was about to begin her day’s work. The sheet of paper in front of her is part of the MSS of The Secret Doctrine, other sheets lying about. Her famous Matara tobacco basket is just beyond her hand. The pen she holds is an American gold pen given to her by a New York Theosophist and made by John Foley. This likeness was originally published in The Path, New York, Vol. VII, May, 1892, p. 39.
Translated into our Theosophical phraseology, the above refers to Atma and Buddhi—the vehicle of spirit. The Neo-Platonics, and even Origen—“call the astral body Augoeides and Astroeides, i.e., one having the brilliancy of the stars” (Histoire et Traité des Sciences Occultes, by Count de Résie, Vol. II, p. 598).*
Generally speaking, the world’s ignorance on the nature of the human phantom and vital principle, as on the functions of all man’s principles, is deplorable. Whereas science denies them all—an easy way of cutting the gordian knot of the difficulty—the churches have evolved the fanciful dogma of one solitary principle, the Soul, and neither of the two will stir from its respective preconceptions, notwithstanding the evidence of all antiquity and its most intellectual writers. Therefore, before the question can be argued with any hope of lucidity, the following points have to be settled and studied by our Theosophists—those, at any rate, who are interested in the subject:
1. The difference between a physiological hallucination and a psychic or spiritual clairvoyance and clairaudience.
2. Spirits, or the entities of certain invisible beings—whether ghosts of once living men, angels, spirits, or elementals—have they, or have they not, a natural though an ethereal and to us invisible body? Are they united to, or can they assimilate some fluidic substance that would help them to become visible to men?
3. Have they, or have they not, the power of so becoming infused among the atoms of any object, whether it be a statue (idol), a picture, or an amulet, as to impart to it their potency and virtue, and even to animate it?
4. Is it in the power of any Adept, Yogi or Initiate, to fix such entities, whether by White or Black magic, in certain objects?
* [The original French text differs somewhat. It runs as follows: “. . . . Ils nommaient ce corps de l’âme séparé des corps grossiers augoeidé astroeeidé c’est-à-dire semblable aux astres ou semblable à l’éclat.”—Comp.]
5. What are the various conditions (save Nirvana and Avitchi) of good and bad men after death? etc., etc.
All this may be studied in the literature of the ancient classics, and especially in Aryan literature. Meanwhile, I have tried to explain and have given the collective and individual opinions thereon of the great philosophers of antiquity in my Secret Doctrine.* I hope the book will now very soon appear. Only, in order to counteract the effects of such humoristical works as A Fallen Idol on weak-minded people, who see in it only a satire upon our beliefs, I thought best to give here the testimony of the ages to the effect that such post-mortem pranks as played by Mr. Anstey’s sham ascetic, who died a sudden death, are of no rare occurrence in nature.
To conclude, the reader may be reminded that if the astral body of man is no superstition founded on mere
* [Considering the date when this essay on “Animated Statues” was written, it is evident that H. P. B. meant by Secret Doctrine her early draft of it, portions of which had been sent to Adyar in September 1886. The material she refers to is not to be found in the MSS. which went to Adyar. However, by turning to pages 234-240 of the Volume published in 1897 in London under the editorship of Annie Besant, and entitled “The Secret Doctrine, Volume III,” the student will find a brief essay on “The Idols and the Teraphim,” which in our estimation is precisely the material spoken of by H. P. B. in the text above. It is quite probable that H. P. B. meant at first to incorporate it into one of the volumes of The Secret Doctrine as published in 1888, but for some reason or other did not do so; however, she included therein brief passages from it, as can be seen by consulting Vol. I, pp. 394, 395, and Vol. II, p. 453.
That the essay on “The Idols and the Teraphim” was not what H. P. B. intended to say on the subject in her prospective Third Volume is evidenced by the interesting fact that in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 455, she definitely states that “practical methods of such ancient divination will be found” in “Volume HI, Part II, of this present work.” The real Volume III having vanished without a trace, her explanations of such methods have never appeared in print.
In view of the facts outlined above, H. P. B.’s essay on “The Idols and the Teraphim” follows in immediate chronological sequence her essay on “Animated Statues.”—Compiler.]
hallucinations, but a reality in nature, then it becomes only logical that such an eidôlon, whose individuality is all centred after death in his personal EGO—should be attracted to the remains of the body that was his, during life;* and in the case the latter was burnt and the ashes buried, that it should seek to prolong its existence vicariously by either possessing itself of some living body (a medium’s), or, by attaching itself to his own statue, picture, or some familiar object in the house or locality that it inhabited. The “vampire” theory can hardly be a superstition altogether. Throughout all Europe, in Germany, Styria, Moldavia, Servia, France and Russia, those bodies of the deceased who are believed to have become vampires, have special exorcismal rites established for them by their respective Churches. Both the Greek and Latin religions think it beneficent to have such bodies dug out and transfixed to the earth by a pole of aspen-tree wood.
However it may be, whether truth or superstition, ancient philosophers and poets, classics and lay writers, have believed as we do now, and that for several thousand years in history, that man had within him his astral counterpart, which would appear by separating itself or oozing out of the gross body, during life as well as after the death of the latter. Till that moment the “spectral soul” was the vehicle of the divine soul and the pure spirit. But, as soon as the flames had devoured the physical envelope, the spiritual soul, separating itself from the simulacrum of man, ascended to its new home of unalloyed bliss (Devachan or Swarga), while the spectral eidôlon descended into the regions of Hades (limbus, purgatory, Kama loka). “I have terminated my earthly career,” exclaims Dido, “my glorious spectre [astral body], the IMAGE of my person, will now descend into the womb of the earth.”†
* Even burning does not affect its interference or prevent it entirely—since it can avail itself of the ashes. Earth alone will make it powerless.
† Which is not the interior of the earth, or hell, as taught by the anti-geological theologians, but the cosmic matrix of its region—the astral light of our atmosphere.
Vixi, et quem dederet cursum fortuna, peregi;
Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago.
(Virgil, Aeneid, lib. IV, 653-54)
Sabinus and Servius Honoratus Maurus (a learned commentator of Virgil of the VIth century) have taught, as shown by Delrio, the demonologian (lib. ii, ch. xx and xxv, p. 116),* that man was composed, besides his soul, of a shadow (umbra) and a body. The soul ascends to heaven, the body is pulverized, and the shadow is plunged in Hades. . . . . This phantom—umbra seu simulacrum—is not a real body, they say: it is the appearance of one, that no hand can touch, as it avoids contact like a breath. Homer shows this same shadow in the phantom of Patroclus, who perished, killed by Hector, and yet “Here he is—it is his face, his voice, his blood still flowing from his wounds;” (See Iliad, XXIII, 65-68, and also Odyssey, XI, 468.) The ancient Greeks and Latins had two souls—anima bruta and anima divina, the first of which is in Homer the animal soul, the image and the life of the body, and the second, the immortal, and the divine.
* [This his has reference to a work by Martin Anton Delrio (1551-1608), sometimes spelt Del Rio, entitled, Disquisitionum magisarum libri sex. 3 tom. Lovanii, 1599. 4to. Other editions being those of 1600, 1603, 1608, 1613, 1657. It is not known which edition is meant by H. P. B.’s reference. In the 1599 edition, however (British Museum, 719. h. 12.), the following passage embodying the ideas brought out by H. P. B. occurs in Lib. 2. Q. XXVI, Sec. 2, Tom. 1:
“. . . . Addit Platonicos (fide excipio) secutus D. Augustinus, hosce malos vocari Lemureis; Servius Honoratus scribit eos Maneis vocari, quamdiu in alia corpora nondum migrarunt. Idem Servius & Sabinus, ab anima separant umbram & simulacrum, putant enim (falso) homine constare umbra, corpore, & anima; animam caelum petere, corpus in terram dainere, umbram siue simulacrum descendere ad inferos: umbram volunt esse non verum corpus, sed speciem quandam corpoream, quae nequeat tangi, instar venti. Conveniunt tamen cum poëtis, istud, quicquid vel ad coelos adscendat, vel ad inferos descendat, interdum viuis apparere: ut alio loco docui, & hoc putabant malo magorum carmine euocari . . . .”
As to our Kama loka, Ennius, says Lucretius—“has traced the picture of the sacred regions in Acherusia, where dwell neither our bodies nor our souls, but only our simulacra, whose pallidity is dreadful to behold!” It is amongst those shades that divine Homer appeared to him, shedding bitter tears as though the gods had created that honest man for eternal sorrow only. It is from the midst of that world (Kama loka), which seeks with avidity communication with our own, that this third (part) of the poet, his phantom —explained to him the mysteries of nature. . . . .*
Pythagoras and Plato both divided soul into two representative parts, independent of each other—the one, the rational soul, or the other, irrational, —the latter being again subdivided into two parts or aspects, the and the , which, with the divine soul and its spirit and the body, make the seven principles of Theosophy. What Virgil calls imago, “image,” Lucretius names—simulacrum, “similitude” (See De Rerum Natura, Bk. I, 123), but they are all names for one and the same thing, the astral body.
We gather thus two points from the ancients entirely corroborative of our esoteric philosophy: (a) the astral or materialized figure of the dead is neither the soul, nor the spirit, nor the body of the deceased personage, but simply the shadow thereof, which justifies our calling it a “shell”; and (b) unless it be an immortal God (an angel) who animates an object, it can never be a spirit, to wit, the SOUL, or real, spiritual ego of a once living man; for these ascend, and an astral shadow (unless it be of a living person) can never be higher than a terrestrial, earth-bound ego, or an irrational shell. Homer was therefore right in
* “etsi praeterea tamen esse Acherusia templa
Ennius aeternis exponit versibus edens,
quo neque permaneant animae neque corpora nostra,
sed quaedam simulacra modis pallentia miris;
unde sibi exortam semper florentis Homeri
commemorat speciem lacrimas effundere salsas
coepisse et rerum naturam expandere dictis.”
[De Rerum Natura, Book I, 120-26]
making Telemachus exclaim, on seeing Ulysses, who, reveals himself to his son: “No, thou art not my father, thou art a demon, a spirit who flatters and deludes me!”
(Odyssey, XVI, 194-95)
It is such illusive shadows, belonging to neither Earth nor Heaven, that are used by sorcerers and other adepts of the Black Art, to help them in persecutions of victims; to hallucinate the minds of very honest and well meaning persons occasionally, who fall victims to the mental epidemics aroused by them for a purpose; and to oppose in every way the beneficent work of the guardians of mankind, whether divine or—human.
For the present, enough has been said to show that the Theosophists have the evidence of the whole of antiquity in support of the correctness of their doctrines.