The readers of the curious article which follows are requested to remember that the writers of signed papers in Lucifer, and not the editors, are responsible for their contents. Captain Serjeant’s views excite much interest among a large number of earnest people, who use Biblical forms and phraseology to picture to themselves the hidden things of nature and of spirit — things which we, the editors, and also the large majority of Theosophists, believe to be more clearly conveyed under the symbolism of the ancient Wisdom-Religion of the East, and better expressed in its terminology. The article is an attempt to explain the significance of a very curious cloud formation observed by many persons in Scotland, on the 16th of September last, a sketch of which appeared in the St. Stephen’s Review on the 24th of the same month. In the centre of the sketch appears a side view of the British Lion rampant, with his paw on the head of a bearded man, who bears a considerable likeness to Mr. Parnell; to the right of the Lion is an excellent likeness of Her Majesty, crowned, as in the Jubilee coinage, and smiling very naturally; and to the left of the picture is an Irish harp. The appearance, by the testimony of many witnesses, must have been remarkably perfect and striking. Cloud-forms of a similar kind have been recorded many times in history, and they are usually connected in the public mind with some important political event. The Cross of Constantine will, no doubt, recur to the readers’ mind, but the sword and reversed crescent, which everyone saw in the sky when the Turks were driven out of Vienna, may be less generally known; as also the reversed thistles, with the outline of a Scotchman, armed with claymore and targe, and falling backward, which was observed in the clouds by the King and Court at Windsor on the night before the battle of Culloden. [ Fought April 16, 1738, near Inverness, Scotland, when the Jacobites were totally defeated by the Duke of Cumberland. This was the last effort of the Stuarts to regain the throne. This note from Boris De Zirkoff ]
The question of what interpretation is to be put upon remarkable cloud appearances, is of little interest to anyone who believes that such phenomena are merely accidental arrangements of the watery vapours of the atmosphere driven by currents of air. Apart, however, from the obvious consideration that this way of regarding the phenomenon only raises the further question of what causes the currents of air to run in these particular ways, it may be safely said that the chances are millions of millions of millions to one, against the appearance in the clouds of any such perfect and complete picture of well-known persons and emblems, as were seen in Scotland on the 16th of September. Of course it may be argued, on the other hand, that the clouds are for ever forming and re-forming in millions of millions of millions different ways, and that the mathematical chances are that one of these ways will occasionally represent an earth scene. But even if the infinite number of continual permutations and transformations of cloud substance be held to account for the occasional appearance of some graphic picture of human things, it does not in any way explain why these rare pictures, when they do occur, should be perfect and appropriate symbols; neither does it account for their appearance at the particular moment when the extraordinary events, to which they are appropriate, are occurring, or about to occur.
The phenomenon of vapours and fumes taking the shape of persons and things, is one of the oldest and best accredited facts in magic, and these cloud appearances, if they be viewed as having any significance are merely instances of a similar action on a large scale produced by some conscious or unconscious force in nature.
If it be allowed, however, that the occasional assumption by vapours of the shapes and likenesses of terrestrial things is not a “fortuitous concourse of atoms,” but occurs in accordance with some obscure law of nature that in itself is the [Page 293] result of the mutual interaction and interdependence of everything in the Universe, the important question still remains — whether these appearances, when they do occur, are “intended” as warnings or omens? Should the lion, the harp, her Majesty, and Mr. Parnell, of the Scottish cloud-picture, be taken as having any more significance in the affairs of the nation, or of the world at large, than chemical phenomena can be supposed to presage disturbances or rejoicings in the world of nature? To answer this question would involve considerations which only an advanced Occultist would be able to comprehend; so we shall merely say, that although there are natural symbols which carry in them a definite meaning for those who can read that secret language, still symbols are generally significant in proportion as people themselves put a significance into them.
A triangle or a cube is nothing but a triangle or a cube to a yokel, but to an Occultist they contain the philosophy of the Universe. Even so, Captain Serjeant, “the New Dispensationist”, and Theosophist, can put the meaning he likes into this or any other symbolical representation. We do not quite agree with either his methods or his results in the case before us, but the conclusions he draws are the same that are now being reached by many minds pursuing very different paths; and these conclusions may be summed up by saying that great changes are approaching, both in the temporal and in the spiritual life of humanity, and that these changes will eventuate in better things and nobler