HYLO-IDEALISM VERSUS “LUCIFER,” AND THE “ADVERSARY.”
“Under the head of “CORRESPONDENCE” in the present number, two remarkable letters are published (See Text ). Both come from fervent Hylo-Idealists — a Master and Disciple, if we mistake not — and both charge the “Adversary”, one, of a “slighting”, the other, of a “hostile notice” of Hylo-Idealism, in the September number of Lucifer.
Such an accusation is better met, and answered in all sincerity; and, therefore, the reply is, a flat denial of the charge. No slight — nor hostility either, could be shown to “Hylo-Idealism”, as the “little stranger” in the happy family of philosophies was hitherto as good as unknown to Lucifer’s household gods. It was chaff, if anything, but surely no hostility; and even that was concerned with only some dreadful words and sentences, with reference to the new teaching, and had nothing whatever to do with Hylo-Idealism proper — a terra incognita for the writer at the time. But now that three pamphlets from the pens of our two correspondents have been received in our office, for review, and carefully read, Hylo-Idealism begins to assume a more tangible form before the reviewer’s eye. It becomes easier to separate the grain from the chaff, the theory from the (no doubt) scientific, nevertheless, most irritating, words in which it is presented to the reader.
This is meant in all truth and sincerity. The remarks which our two correspondents have mistaken for expressions of hostility, were as justified then, as they are now. What ordinary mortal, we ask, before he had time (to use Dr. Lewins’ happiest expressions) to “asself or cognose” — let alone intercranialise [Auto-Centricism; or The Brain Theory of Life and Mind [London, 1888], p. 41. ] (!!) — the hylo-idealistic theories, however profound and philosophical these may be who, having so far come into direct contact with only the images thereof “subjected by his own egoity” (i.e., as words and sentences), who could avoid feeling his hair standing on end, over “his organs of mentation”, while spelling out such terrible words as “vesiculo-neurosis in conjunction with medico-psychological symptomatology”, “autocentricism”, and the like? Such interminable, outlandish, multisyllabled and multicipital, newly-coined compound terms and whole sentences, maybe, and no doubt, are, highly learned and scientific. They may be most expressive of true, real meaning, to a specialist of Dr. Lewins’ powers of thought; nevertheless, I make bold to say, that they are far more calculated to obscure than to enlighten the ordinary reader. In our modern day, when new philosophies spring out from the spawn of human overworked intellect like mushrooms from their mycelium after a rainy morning, the human brain and its capacities ought to be taken into a certain thoughtful consideration, and spared useless labour. Notwithstanding Dr. Lewins’ praiseworthy efforts to prove that brain (as far as we understand his aspirations and teachings) is the only reality in the whole kosmos, its limitations are painfully evident, on the whole. As philanthropists and theosophists, we entreat the founder of Hylo-Idealism and his disciples to be merciful to their new god, the “Ego-Brain”, and not tax too heavily its powers, if they would see it happily reign. For otherwise, it is sure to collapse before the new theory — or, let us call it philosophy — is even half appreciated by that “Ego-Brain.”
By speaking as we do, we are only pursuing a life-long policy. We have criticized and opposed the coinage of hard Greek and Latin words by the New York Pantarchists; laugned at Haeckel’s pompous tendency to invent thirty-three syllabled terms, and speak of the perigenesis of plastidules, instead of honest whirling atoms — or whatever he means; and derided the modern psychists for calling simple thought transference “telepathic impact.” And now, we tearfully beg Dr. Lewins, in the interests of humanity, to have pity on his poor readers: for, unless he hearkens to our advice, we shall be compelled, in dire self-defence, to declare an open war to his newly-coined words. We shall fight the usurper “Solipsism” in [Page 330] favour of the legitimate king of the Universe — EGOISM — to our last breath.
At the same time, as we have hitherto been ignorant of the latest philosophy, described by Mr. H. L. Courtney as “the greatest change in human thought,” may we be permitted to enquire whether it is spelt as its Founder spells it, namely, “Hylo-Idealism”, or as his disciple, Mr. Courtney does, who writes Hylo-Ideaism? Is the latter a schism, an improvement on the original name, a lapsus calami, or what? And now, having disburdened our heart of a heavy weight, we may proceed to give an opinion (so far very superficial), on the three Hylo-Idealistic (or Ideaistic) pamphlets.
Under the extraordinary title of “AUTO-CENTRICISM” and “HUMANISM versus THEISM”, or “Solipsism (Egoism)=Atheism” (W. Stewart & Co., 41, Farringdon Street, E.C. ; and Freethought Publishing Co., 63, Fleet Street, E.C.) — Dr. Lewins publishes a series of letters on the subject of the philosophy of which he is the founder. It is impossible not to feel admiration for the manner in which these letters are written. They show a great deal of sincere conviction and deep thought, and give evidence of a most wide and varied reading. However his readers may dissent from the writer’s conclusions, the research with which he has strengthened his theory, cannot fail to attract their attention, and smooth their way through the somewhat tortuous labyrinth of arguments before them. But —
Dr. Lewins is among those who regard consciousness as a function of the nerve-tissue; and in this aspect, he is an uncompromising materialist. Yet, on the other hand, he holds that the Universe, God, and thought, have no reality whatever, apart from the individual Ego. The Ego is again resolvable into brain-process. We thus arrive at the doctrine that Brain is the workshop in which all our ideas of external things are originated. Apart from brain there is no Ego, no external world. What, then, is the Brain itself— this solitary object in a void universe ? Hylo-Idealism does not say. Thus, the author cannot escape the confusion of thought which his unique working-union of materialism and idealism involves. The oscillation between these two poles is strikingly apparent in the subjoined quotations. At one point Matter is discussed as if it were an objective reality; at another, it is regarded as a mere “phantasm of the Ego”. The Brain alone survives throughout in solitary state. We quote from the two pamphlets—
“Matter, organic and inorganic, is now fully known …. to perform all material operations.”
— Auto-Centricism, p. 40.
“Man is all body and matter.”
— Do, p. 40.
“Abstract thought [is] neuropathy . . disease of the nervous centres.”
— Humanism versus Theism, p. 25.
“What we call mind …. is a function of certain nerve structures in the organism.”
— Humanism versus Theism, p. 24.
“All discovery is …. a subjective phenomenon.”
— Humanism versus Theism, p. 17.
“All things are for us but modes of perception” — [Mental figments].
The “celestial vault and garniture of Earth”, are “a mere projection of our own inner consciousness ”
— Humanism versus Theism, p. 17.
” We get rid of Matter altogether.’
— Humanism versus Theism, p, 17.
” The whole objective world …. is phenomenal or ideal.”
— Auto-Centricism. p. 9.
“Everything is spectral ” (i.e., unreal).
— Auto-Centricism, p. 13.
Matter is at one time credited with a real being, and again resolved into a mere mental figment as circumstances demand. If Matter is, as the author frequently states, unreal, it is, at least clear that the brain, one of its many phases, goes with it! !
As to the learned doctor’s assertion that perception is relative, a theory which runs through his whole work, we have but one answer. This conception is, in no sense whatever, a monopoly of Hylo-Idealists, as Dr. Lewins appears to think. The illusory nature of the phenomenal world — of the things of sense — is not only a belief common to the old Brahminical metaphysics, and to the majority of modern psychologists, but it is also a vital tenet of Theosophy. The latter distinctly realises matter as a “bundle of attributes”, ultimately resolvable into the subjective sensations of a “percipient”. The connection of this simple truth with the hylo-idealistic denial of soul is not apparent. Its acceptance has, also, no bearing on the problem as to whether there may not exist a duality — within the limits of manifested being — or contrast between Mind and the Substance of matter. This Cosmic Duality is symbolised by the Vedantins in the relations between the Logos and Mulaprakriti — i.e., the Universal Spirit and the “material” basis (or root) of the objective planes of nature. The Monism, then, of Dr. Lewins and other negative thinkers of the day, is evidently [Page 331] at fault, when applied to unify the contrast of mental and material facts in the conditioned universe. Beyond the latter, it is indeed valid, but that is scarcely a question for practical philosophy.
To close with a reference this once to Dr. Lewins’ letter (see “Correspondence” in the text), in which he makes his subsequent assertion to the effect that God is the “functional ( sic) image”, of the Ego, we should prefer to suggest that all individual “selves” are but dim reflections of the universal soul of the Kosmos. The orthodox concept of God is not, as he contends, a myth or phantasm of the brain; it is rather an expression of a vague consciousness of the universal, all-pervading Logos. It is because SELF pinions man within a narrow sphere “beyond which mortal mind can never range”, that the destruction of the personal sense of separateness is indispensable to the Occultist.
“THE NEW GOSPEL OF HYLO-IDEALISM, or Positive Agnosticism? (Freethought Publishing Co., 73, Fleet Street, E. C. Price 3d.), is another pamphlet on the same subject, in which Mr. Herbert L. Courtney contributes his quota to the discussion of the “Brain Theory of mind and matter”. He is, if we mistake not, an avowed disciple of Dr. Lewins, and, perhaps, identical with the “C. N.”, who watched over the cradle of the “new philosophy”. The whole gist of the latter may be summed up as an attempt to frame a working-union of Materialism and Idealism. This result is effected on two lines (I) in the acceptance of the idealistic theorem, that the so-called external world only exists in our consciousness; and (2) in the designation of that consciousness, in its turn, as a mere function of Brain. The first of these contentions is unquestionably valid, in so far as it concerns the world of appearances, or Maya; it is, however, as “old as the hills”, and incorporated into the Hylo-Ideal argument from anterior sources. The second is untenable, for the simple reason that on the premises of the new creed itself, the brain, as an object of perception, can possess no reality outside of the Ego. Hegelians might reply that Brain is but an idea of the Ego, and cannot hence determine the existence of the latter — its creator.
Metaphysicism will, however, find much to interest them in Mr. Courtney’s brochure, representative, as it is, of the new and more subtle phase into which modern scepticism is entering. Some expressions we may demur to — e.g., “That which we see is not Sirius, but the light-wave”. So far from the light-wave being “seen”, it is a mere working hypothesis of Science. All we experience is the retinal sensation, the objective counterpart to which is a matter of pure inference. So far as we can learn, Hylo-Idealism is chiefly based upon gigantic paradoxes, and even contradictions in terms. For, with regard to the speculations anent the Noumenon (p. 8.) what justification can be found for terming it “MATTER”, especially as it is said to be “unknowable”? Obviously it may be of the nature of mind, or — something HIGHER. How is the Hylo-Idealist to know ?
“LAYS OF ROMANCE AND CHIVALRY”, by Mr. W. Stewart Ross. (Stewart and Co., Farringdon Street.) In this neat little volume the author presents to the reader a collection of vigorous verse, mostly of chivalrous character. Some of these pieces, such as the “Raid of Vikings” and “Glencoe”, are of merit, despite an occasional echo of Walter Scott, whose style seems to have had a considerable modifying influence on the author’s diction. It is in the “Bride of Steel” that this feature is most noticeable —
“ I love thee with a warrior’s love,
My Sword, my Life, my Bride !
Dear, dear as ever knighthood bore,
Though yet no gout of battle-gore
Thy virgin blade hath dyed ! ”
Apart from this unconscious influence of the great Scottish bard, the ring of originality and feeling which characterises Mr. Stewart Ross’s poetry is most refreshing. The little volume sparkles with the vein of romance, and after perusing it, in spite of occasional anachronisms and other literary errors, we are not surprised to hear of the favourable reception hitherto accorded to it.
In the Secular Review for November 26th, Mr. Beatty makes an attack upon a former article in LUCIFER, entitled “The Origin of Evil”. We find, however, Mr. Beatty exhibiting crass ignorance of the ideas he criticises, as when, for instance, he speaks of the “Buddhistic” Parabram (sic). To begin with, every tyro in Oriental philosophy knows that “Parabrahm” is a Hindu Vedantic idea, and has no connection whatever with Buddhist thought. If Mr. Beatty wishes to become a serious critic, he must first learn the a, b, c, of the subject with which he professes to deal. His article is unfinished, but it seems only fair at the present stage to call his attention to so glaring an error. [Page 332]
It would be unfair to the erudite and painstaking author of The Gnostics and Their Remains for a reviewer to take the title of his book as altogether appropriate, for it suggests too high a standard of criticism. Mr. King says in the introduction that his book is intended to be subsidiary to the valuable treatise of M. Matter, adding: “ I refer the reader to him for the more complete elucidation of the philosophy of Gnosticism, and give my full attention to its Archaeological side”. The italics are the author’s, and they disarm criticism as far as the philosophical side of Gnosticism is concerned; for thus italicized, this passage is, at the outset, as plain a confession as could, in conscience, be expected of an author of a fact which the reader would probably have found out for himself, before he closed the volume: namely, that the work is chiefly valuable as an Archaeological compendium of “Gnostic Remains”. Unfortunately, the most interesting point about the Gnostics is their philosophy, of which their Archaeological remains are, properly speaking, little more than illustrations. But the fact is, that the hard-shelled Archaeologist is the last man in the world to appreciate the real esoteric signification of symbolism. All true symbols have many meanings, and for the purposes of descriptive Archaeology the more superficial of these meanings are sufficient. Ignorance of the deeper meaning may indeed be bliss for the Archaeologist, for it necessitates an amount of ingenuity in the fitting together of “remains”, that commands the admiration of the public, and is productive in the Archaeological bosom of that agreeable sensation known as “fancying oneself”. As a laborious collector and compiler, and an ingenious worker-up of materials into interesting reading, too much can hardly be said in Mr. King’s praise, and had he a greater intuitional power, and a knowledge of esoteric religion, his great industry and erudition would make his writings valuable even to students of Occultism.
Since the publication of the former edition of his work, twenty-three years ago, Mr. King has come across and read the Pistis Sophia. The discovery of this, the only remaining Gnostic Gospel, or rather, Gospel fragment, is attributed to Schwartze, and the Latin translation to Petermann (in 1853). But Mr. King does not seem to be aware that as far back as 1843, another and ampler copy than that in the British Museum was in the hands of a Russian Raskolnik (dissident), a Cossack, who lived and married in Abyssinia; and another is in the possession of an Englishman, an Occultist, now in the United States, who brought it from Syria. It seems a pity that in the interim Mr. King did not also read Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky, published by Bouton in New York in 1876, as its perusal would have saved him a somewhat absurd and ludicrous blunder. In his Preface, Mr. King says: — “There seems to be reason for suspecting that the Sibyl of Esoteric Buddhism drew the first notions of her new religion from the analysis of the inner man, as set forth in my first edition”. [ This modest assumption is followed by the generous promise to furnish “investigators of the same order” as the supposed “Sibyl”, with “a still more profound theosophy”. This is extremely considerate and kind. But it is Pistis Sophia which the author had in his mind, then he had better apply to Theosophists for the explanation of the most recondite points in that gnostic fragment, while translating it, as he proposes doing from Latin. For though the world of the Orientalists “of the same order” as himself, may labour under the mistaken impression that no one except themselves knew or know anything about Pistis-Sophia till 1853 – Theosophists know better. Does Mr King really imagine that no one besides himself knows anything about the Gnostics”and their remains,” or what he knows is the only correct thing to know? Strange delusion, if so; yet quite a harmless one, we confess ] The only person to whom this passage could apply is one of the Editors, the author of Isis Unveiled. And this, her first publication, contains the same and only doctrine she has always, or ever, promulgated. Isis Unveiled has passed through eight editions, and has been read by many thousands of persons; and not only they, but everyone who is not strangely ignorant of the very literature with which it was Mr. King’s business to make himself conversant, are perfectly aware that the two large volumes which compose that work are entirely devoted to a defence of the philosophy, science, and religion of the ancients, especially of the old Aryans, whose religion can hardly be called a “new” one, still less — “Esoteric Buddhism”. If properly spelt, however, the latter word, or Buddhism, ought to be written with one “d”, as in this case it means Wisdom. But “Budhism”, or the wisdom-religion of the Aryans, was still less a religion, in the exoteric sense, than is Buddhism, but rather a philosophy. In that part of Isis Unveiled which treats of the Gnostics, Mr. King will find a few quotations from his writings side by side with quotations from other writers on the same subject; but he will find no new [Page 333] religion “there, or anywhere else, in the works of H. P. Blavatsky. And, if anyone drew the “first notions” of their religion from his “analysis of the inner man”, it must have been the early Aryans, who, unfortunately, have neglected to acknowledge the obligation. What makes Mr. King’s self-complacency the more ridiculous, is that in his preface he himself accuses someone else of “the grave error of representing their (the Gnostics’) doctrines as novel, and the pure inventions of the persons who preached them”. And in another place he confesses that he owes to Matter the first idea which has now become a settled conviction with him, that “the seeds of the gnosis were originally of Indian growth”. If Matter “faintly discerned” this truth, on the other hand Bailly, Dupuis, and others had seen it quite clearly, and had declared it most emphatically. So that Mr. King’s “discovery” is neither very new nor very original.
Mr. King must be aware that of late years immense additions have been made to western knowledge of eastern philosophies and religions — a new region in ancient literature having, in fact, been opened up by the labours of Orientalists, both European and Eastern. A study of these Oriental systems throws a strong though often a false light upon the inner meaning of Gnostic symbolism and ideas generally, which Mr. King acknowledges to have come from Indian sources; and certainly the reader has a right to expect a little more knowledge in that direction from a writer of Mr. King’s pretensions, than is displayed. For example, in the section about Buddhism in the work before us: one is tempted sometimes to ask whether it is flippancy or superficiality that is the matter with the author — when he calls the ancient Indian gymnosophists “fakirs”, and confounds them with Buddhists. Surely he need hardly be told that fakirs are Mahomedans, and that the Gymnosophists he mentions were Brahmin Yogis.
The work, however, is a valuable one in its way; but the reader should not forget that “there seems reason for suspecting” that the author does not always know exactly what he is talking about, whenever he strays too far from Archaeology, on which he is no doubt an authority.
THE JEWISH WORLD enters bravely enough (in its issue of the 11th November 1887) on its new character of professor of symbology and History. It accuses in no measured terms one of the editors of LUCIFER of ignorance; and criticises certain expression used in our October number, in a foot-note inserted to explain why the “Son of the Morning” LUCIFER is called in Mr. G. Massey’s little poem, “Lady of Light”. The writer objects, we see, to Lucifer-Venus being called in one of its aspects “the Jewish Astoreth”; or to her having ever been offered cakes by the Jews. As explained in a somewhat confused sentence: “There was no Jewish Astoreth, though the Syrian goddess, Ashtoreth, or Astarte, often appears in Biblical literature, the moon goddess, the complement of Baal, the Sun God”.
This, no doubt, is extremely learned and conveys quite new information. Yet such an astounding statement as that the whole of the foot-note in LUCIFER is “pure imagination and bad history” is very risky indeed. For it requires no more than a stroke or two of our pen to make the whole edifice of this denial tumble on the Jewish World and mangle it very badly. Our contemporary has evidently forgotten the wise proverb that bids one to let “sleeping dogs lie”, and therefore, it is with the lofty airs of superiority that he informs his readers that though the Jews in Palestine lived surrounded with (? sic) this pagan form of worship, and may at times, (? !) have wandered towards it, they HAD NOTHING IN THEIR WORSHIP IN COMMON WITH CHALDEAN OR SYRIAN BELIEFS IN MULTIPLICITY OF DEITIES? (! !)
This is what any impartial reader might really term “bad history”, and every Bible worshipper describe as a direct lie given to the Lord God of Israel. It is more than suppressio veri suggestio falsi, for it is simply a cool denial of facts in the face of both Bible and History. We advise our critic of the Jewish World to turn to his own prophets, to Jeremiah, foremost of all. We open “Scripture” and find in it: “the Lord God” while accusing his “backsliding Israel and treacherous Judah” of following in “the ways of Egypt and of Assyria”, of drinking the waters of Sihor, and “serving strange Gods” enumerating his grievances in this wise:
“According to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah, (Jer. ii. 28.).
“Ye have turned back to the iniquities of your forefathers who went after other gods to serve them (xi. ) . . . according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars unto Baal (Ib).
So much for Jewish monotheism. And is it any more “pure imagination” to say that the Jews offered cakes to their Astoreth and called her “Queen of Heaven” ? Then the “Lord God” must, indeed, be guilty of more than “a delicate expansion of facts” when thundering to, and through, Jeremiah: — [Page 334]
“Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough TO MAKE CAKES to the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto the gods.” (Jer. vii. 17-18).
“The Jews may AT TIMES” only (?) have wandered towards pagan forms of worship but “had nothing in common in it with Syrian beliefs in multiplicity of deities”. Had they not ? Then the ancestors of the editors of the Jewish Worldmust have been the victims of “suggestion”, when, snubbing Jeremiah (and not entirely without good reason), they declared to him:
“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the Queen of Heaven [Astoreth-Diana, Isis, Melita, Venus, etc, etc.] . . . . as we have done, we, AND OUR FATHERS, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her …. and (to) make her cakes to worship her…. we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. . . . ‘ (Jer. xliv. 16, 17, 18, 19).
Thus, according to their own confession, it is not “at times” that the Jews made cakes for, and worshipped Astoreth and the strange gods, but constantly: doing, moreover, as their forefathers, kings and princes did.
“Bad history ” ? And what was the “golden calf” but the sacred heifer, the symbol of the “Great Mother”, first the planet Venus, and then the moon ? For the esoteric doctrine holds (as the Mexicans held) that Venus, the morning star,was created before the sun and moon; metaphorically, of course, not astronomically, [Because the stars and planets are the symbols and houses of Angels and Elohim, who were, of course, “created,” or evoluted before the physical or cosmic sun or moon. “The sun god was called the child of the moon god Sin, in Assyria, and the lunar god Taht, is called the father of Osiris, the sun god ‘in Egypt.’ “ (G. Massey.) ] the assumption being based upon, and meaning that which the Nazars and the Initiate alone understood among the Jews, but that the writers of the Jewish World are not supposed to know. For the same reason the Chaldeans maintained that the moon was produced before the sun ( see Babylon — Account of Creation, by George Smith ). The morning star, Lucifer-Venus was dedicated to that Great Mother symbolized by the heifer or the “Golden Calf”. For, as says Mr. G. Massey in his lecture on “The Hebrews and their Creations”, “This (the Golden Calf) being of either sex, it supplied a twin-type for Venus, as Hathor or Ishtar (Astoreth), the double star, that was male at rising, and female at sunset”. She is the “Celestial Aphrodite”,Venus Victrix νιχηφόροϛ associated with Ares (see Pausanias I, 8, 4, 11,25, I).
We are told that “happily for them (the Jews)there was no Jewish Astoreth”. The Jewish World has yet to learn, we see, that there would have been no Greek Venus Aphrodite; no Ourania, her earlier appellation; nor would she have been confounded with the Assyrian Mylitta (Herod, I, 199; Pausan., I, 14, 7; Hesiod, Μυλήταν τῂν Οὐρανιαν Ασσύριοι) had it not been for the Phoenicians and other Semites. We say the “Jewish Astoreth”, and we maintain what we say, on the authority of the Iliad, the Odyssey, of Renan, and many others. Venus Aphrodite is one with the Astarte, Astoreth, etc. of the Phoenicians, and she is one (as a planet) with “Lucifer” the “Morning Star”. So far back as the days of Homer, she was confounded with Kypris, an Oriental goddess brought by the Phoenician Semites from their Asiatic travels ( Iliad, V, 330, 422, 260). Her worship appears first at Cythere, a Phoenician settlement depôt or trade-establishment (Odys., VIII. 362 ; Walcker, griech. götterl. I, 666) Herodotus shows that the sanctuary of Ascalon, in Syria, was the most ancient of the fanes of Aphrodite Ourania (I, 105): and Decharme tells us in his Mythologie de la Grèce Antique, that whenever the Greeks alluded to the origin of Aphrodite they designated her as Ourania, an epithet translated from a semitic word, as Jupiter Epouranios of the Phoenician inscriptions, was the Samemroumof Philo of Byblos, according to Renan (Mission de Phenicie). Astoreth was a goddess of generation, presiding at human birth (as Jehovah was god of generation, foremost of all). She was the moon-goddess, and a planet at the same time, whose worship originated with the Phoenicians and Semites. It flourished most in the Phoenician settlements and colonies in Sicily, at Eryax. There hosts of Hetairae were attached to her temples, as hosts of Kadeshim, called by a more sincere name in the Bible, were, to the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove” (II. Kings, xxiii, 7). All this shows well the Semitic provenance of Astoreth-Venus in her capacity of “great Mother”. Let us pause. We advise sincerely the Jewish World to abstain from throwing stones at other peoples’ beliefs, so long as its own faith is but a house of glass. And though Jeremy Taylor may think that “to be proud of one’s learning is the greatest ignorance”, yet, in this case it is but simple justice to say that it is really desirable for our friends the Jews that the writer in LUCIFER of the criticised note about Astoreth should know less of history and the Bible, and her unlucky critic in the Jewish World learn a little more about it.
“ADVERSARY.” [Page 335]
THE THEOSOPHIST for October opens with the first of a series of articles on the “Elohistic Cosmogony.” The views put forward by the writer are certainly both striking and original, and, although Dr. Pratt diverges very considerably from the recognised standard of kabalistic orthodoxy, his interpretation of the Jewish version of cosmic evolution will assuredly excite considerable interest.
Following on Dr. Pratt’s learned article, come a few — unfortunately, too few — pages of extremely interesting notes on the Folk-lore of the Himalayan tribes, contributed by Captain Banon. The Theosophist has often been indebted to Captain Banon for similar notes respecting such little known tribes and people; and it is much to be regretted that the many members of the Theosophical Society who reside in or visit such out-of-the way places, do not make it a rule to collect these traditions and send them for publication in the Theosophist or one of the other Theosophical magazines.
Dr. Hartmann continues his series of “Rosicrucian Letters” with a number of extracts from the papers of Karl von Eckartshausen, who died in 1792. Dr. Hartmann deserves the gratitude of all students for rendering accessible these records and notes of past generations of “ seekers after the Truth.”
Dr Buck contributes a pithy and thoughtful article on “The Soul Problem”, and Mr Lazarus continues his exposition of the kabalistic doctrine of the Microcosm. Besides these there are further instalments of two valuable translations from Hindu works of great antiquity and authority; the “Crest Jewel of Wisdom”, by Sankaracharya and the Kaivalyanita.” It is much to be desired that one of our Hindu brothers, who adds to a knowledge of his own mystic literature, an acquaintance with Western modes of thought and expression, would devote a series of articles to the exposition of the fundamental standpoint and ideas of such works as these. Such an article would add enormously to the value of these translations to the Western world.
In the November number, Dr. Pratt takes up the Jehovistic cosmogony, which he contrasts and compares with the Elohistic version already referred to. In his view, the Jehovistic teaching embodies the conception of the world as “created” and “ruled” by an extra-natural and personal deity, as opposed to the more philosophical and pantheistic conception of the earlier Elohistic writers.
Under the title of An Ancient Weapon, this issue contains an instructive account of the evocation of certain astral forces according to the ancient Vedic rites. As here described, the evil intention with which the rite is performed, transforms it into a ceremony of Black Magic, but this does not render the account any less valuable.
This is followed by the first of a series of articles on The Allegory of the Zoroastrian Cosmogony, which promises to furnish much food for thought and study.
Rosicrucian Letters contains this time an extract from an old MS., headed The Temple of Solomon, which is well worthy of careful attention.
Besides these we have a sketch of the life and writings of Madvachary, the great teacher of Southern India, and some further testimonies to the fact of “self-levitation” from eye-witnesses. Rama Prasad gives some most valuable details of the “Science of Breathing,” one of the most curious branches of occult physics, while the remainder of the number is occupied by an article on “Tetragrammaton,” which may be interesting to students of the Kabbala, and continuations of the “Kabbala and the Microcosm,” and of the translations from Indian books mentioned in connection with the October number.
These two numbers contain much valuable matter and well maintain the reputation which the Theosophist originally gained for itself.
In THE PATH for October we notice especially the following articles:
Nature’s Scholar, a most poetically-conceived and well-worked-out Idyll, by J.C. Ver Plank, in which the underlying occult truth is presented to the reader in a most attractive form.
Following this is a much needed warning against the dangers of Astral Intoxication. Admirably expressed, it points out the true, and indicates the false, path [Page 336] with great clearness; and we desire to call the earnest attention of such of our readers as are engaged in psychic development to its importance.
“Pilgrim” contributes some further Thoughts in Solitude, the leading idea of which may be indicated by its concluding lines, which are quoted from Sir Philip Sydney of heroic fame:
“Then farewell, World! thy uttermost I see,
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me!”
Tea-Table Talk is even more interesting and suggestive than usual, and, besides those above mentioned, this well-filled number contains Part IV. of the series of articles on The Poetry of Re-incarnation in Western Literature, which deals with the Platonic Poets.
The November number opens with an able continuation of Mr Brehon’s article on The Bhagavat-Gita, commenced so long ago as last April, of which we hope to peruse a further instalment. Following this is a short article indicating the term “Medium” from the loathsome connotations which phenomenal spiritualism has attached to it. We then come to a paper on Goethe’s Faust, read before one of the branches of the Theosophical Society in America. It is of great interest to students of literature and will furnish a clue to the real meaning of much of the poet’s writing.
Mr. Johnston makes some most suggestive remarks on Cain and Abel; Harij speaks in no uncertain tones of Personalities and Truth, while Hadji Erinn points out the Path of Action, and warns the members of the T.S. that they must not expect their road to become easier and plainer before them, while yet the society is undergoing the trials of its education.
Zadok gives some able answers to questions on various points of practical occultism, and Julius, in Tea-Table Talk, points out how many people are really entering on the path of Theosophy — even though unconsciously.
LE LOTUS, for October and November, is even more interesting than usual. In the October number are contained two very valuable articles. The first of these is a paper on Paracelsus from the pen of Dr. Hartmann, who is especially qualified to handle the subject by his profound study of the work, and especially the manuscripts of that great occultist. M. “Papus” contributes a most lucid and able exposition of some Kabbalistic doctrines, the practical value of which has been hitherto but little realized even by professed students of mysticism.
The opening article in the November issue is headed, The Constitution of the Microcosm. It is written in a clear and attractive style, and contains a most thorough and complete explanation of the various classifications of the principles which enter into the constitution of man.
“Amaravella” has evidently studied the whole subject very deeply, and he shows the relation of these various classifications to one another in a way which will clear up many of the misconceptions which have arisen.
M. “Papus” writes on Alchemy in a manner which shows how conversant he is with this little-understood topic. We therefore look forward with great anticipations to the perusal of his book “Traité élémentaire de science occulte”, the fourth chapter of which contains the article referred to.
It is very evident that Theosophy is making great and rapid progress in France, and this is in great measure due to the untiring and unselfish devotion of the editor of Le Lotus, M. Gaboriau, whom we congratulate most warmly on the success which has attended his efforts.
L’Aurore for October contains an article on the so-called “Star of Bethlehem”, which repeats the assurance that the world is entering on a new and happier life-phase.
Unfortunately, it seems more than probable that before this amelioration takes place, the world must pass through the valley of the shadow of Death, and endure calamities far worse than any it has yet seen. Lady Caithness continues her erudite and interesting article on the lost ten tribes of Israel. Her thesis is put forward in admirable language , and supported by a great wealth of biblical quotations. Unfortunately, the task undertaken is an impossible one. There never were twelve tribes of Israel — two only — Judah and the Levites, having had a real existence in the flesh. The remainder are but euhemerizations of the signs of the Zodiac, and were introduced because they were necessary to the Kabalistic scheme on which the “History” of the Jews was written.
Lady Barrogill relates the well-known story of an English bishop and the ghost of a Catholic priest, who haunted his former residence in order to secure the destruction of some notes he had taken (contrary to the rule of the Church) of an important confession which he had heard.
Besides these articles we find the continuation of the serial romance, “L’amour Immortel”, and LUCIFER has to thank the editor for the appreciative notice contained in this number.