OLD DIARY LEAVES, Sixth Series (1896-98)
by Henry Steel Olcott
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE
ADYAR is for me a place for work and not for play, so, naturally, the first thing I had to do was to dispose of the accumulation of business, the most pressing of which was the writing of the current chapter of OLD DIARY LEAVES, which was begun on the day after my arrival. Among the foreign letters to be disposed of for the mail of the 17th March was one from Mr. Samuel Stuart of Auckland, telling me the story of a monstrous imprudence committed by Mr. Judge when writing to the late Dr. C. Carter Blake, which I mentioned in connection with an analysis of the Judge case. It seems that when writing a bogus Mahatma letter to Dr. Blake, in an imitation of the “K. H. writing”, he signed it by misadventure with his own name instead of the mystical “K. H.” initials. Dr. Blake told the story and showed the letter to Mr. J. B. Wither, President of our Branch at Christchurch,
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 313
New Zealand, when he was visiting London in 1895. Mr. Wither told it to Mr. Stuart at the Convention of our New Zealand Section at Auckland in 1898. Immediately upon hearing this most important revelation, I wrote to Blake’s most intimate friend in London, asking her to procure from him and send me this most incriminating document; but, unfortunately, Dr. Blake had died in a Jesuit hospital and, he being a Jesuit, his papers were taken over by the Order, who, doubtless, have got it yet. This being taken for granted, we can probably explain their not using it, on the theory that they preferred to keep the piece of evidence in their own hands for future contingencies, as a weapon to be used against the Theosophical Society. If this is true, which, of course, I cannot guarantee, they have postponed the sensation too long, for we did not try to whitewash Mr. Judge, and he seceded, taking along with him every possible responsibility we might have had for his misdeeds. Could any incident have illustrated better than this the importance of a society’s skirts being kept clean by its managers? Supposing that we had condoned Mr. Judge’s acts of deception, the Jesuits could have brought forward at any time the Judge-Blake bogus letter and so brought shame to our faces, whereas our prompt and drastic action rendered the document in question valueless as a weapon against the Society. As to their using it
314 OLD DIARY LEAVES
against the Judge party, “the game was not worth the candle”. Nothing more completely vindicates the course we adopted. It may appear to some of the younger members of the Society, looking back from this distance, that there was but the one course open to its leaders at that time, but they do not know what moral courage it required. For let it be remembered that almost one hundred Branches, carrying a membership of many hundreds, followed Mr. Judge out of the Society as a protest against our action, and this loss had to be anticipated and quietly accepted rather than sacrifice the high principle involved.
Since the Convention, H. R. H. Prince Prisdan Chunsi, cousin of the King of Siam, once Ambassador but now transformed into a Buddhist monk, Jinawarawansa, and another monk, had been our guests at Headquarters but were now prepared to return to Ceylon. I had conceived a strong friendly regard for the Prince-Priest by reason of his lack of offensive hauteur and his real instinct of comradeship. Undoubtedly he had been bitterly disappointed—as I have above remarked—in his not having found in Ceylon the ideal bhikku of the Master’s describing. I felt very sorry for him for he had thrown up all the luxury, pomp and influence of his worldly position and instead of sitting down to a banquet of spiritual food had found it a sort
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 315
of a Barmecide religious feast. However, he was not the man to sit down and mourn over his lot, but the very concatenation of affairs seemed to brace him up to perform his monastic duties as best he could. On the 22nd March, he and Wacissara Bhikku embarked on his steamer and I saw them off.
I had in hand at the time the business of publishing the Theosophical Question Book (Questionnaire Théosophique) of Commandant Courmes, and the preparation of manuscript and the reading of proof was a part of the literary work which had to be attended to. At the same time, by a rather interesting coincidence, I got from London simultaneously from two different publishers, review copies of two important works on Magic: The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts, by A. E. Waite, and The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melim, the Mage, by S. MacGregor Mathers, both wonderfully interesting to the amateur of this literary specialty. Their literary merit was high and almost equal Mr. Waite handles his subject as a transcendentalist who, recognizing that there is “a Magic that is behind Magic”, regards all written ceremonials as either debased and scandalous travesty or trivial and misconstrued application. The object in view was to bring forth from the obscurity of centuries a variety of processes “which would be abominable if it could be supposed that they were to be seriously
316 OLD DIARY LEAVES
understood”. Despite his scepticism, however, there is not the least reason for doubt that the methods for Ceremonial Magic were very serious things indeed, backed as they had to be by the power of a concentrated and developed will-power on the part of a practitioner: without that, the most appalling and gruesome ceremony would be like a sharp sword or a loaded rifle standing in the corner of a room without a man to use them either for offence or defence. The phenomena of H.P.B. and other adepts in occult science prove superabundantly that when there is present the dominating will, the ceremonials may be dispensed with. When it is a question of a less developed thaumaturge the consecrated sword, the triangular altar, the prepared lamb-skin, the circle of burning lamps, the lighted incense sticks, the flowers, the solemn invocations would be useless. In the Abra-Melim book the veil is partially raised so as to give the reader a quite sufficient peep into the penetralia of Black Magic. It dates from 1458 A.D. and it purports to have been given by Abraham, the author, to his son, Lamech, and to comprise the Magic taught by God to Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, and other Patriarchs and Prophets. It is alleged to have been known to Eliphas Lévi and Bulwer Lytton, the latter having based his description of the adept sage Mejnour, in Zanoni and his description of the
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 317
observatory of Sir Philip Derval, in A Strange Story, upon this quaint work. Mr. Mathers believes that this Abraham, of the seventeenth century, was a man of great influence, who doubtless had much to do in the political struggles of the time. His tremendous self-confidence is proved by his many and dangerous journeyings for many years, through wild and savage regions and places most difficult of access, even in our own day, in search of a Teacher of the Sublime Science. Discouraged by no obstacles, he still persevered until he was rewarded by the accomplishment of his heart’s wish: his Guru was found, the teachings were given him. No Hindu or other Asiatic will refuse credence to this narrative on the score of any inherent improbability, for it is but the repetition of the experience of many searchers after the hidden wisdom. His travels ended, he seems to have passed the most of his subsequent life at Wurzburg, a place of H.P.B.’s sojourn before she took up her final residence in London. His elder son, Joseph, “he instructed in the Mysteries of the Holy Qabalah, while to Lamech, the younger, he bequeathed this system of Sacred Magic as a Legacy”. He seems to have utilized his occult knowledge to some purpose, since he admits that by it he got his wife, and a treasure of 3,000,000 golden florins (say about £900,000), by means of some of the magical operations described
318 OLD DIARY LEAVES
in the third book of the present treatise. A formidable list is given of the various sovereigns, popes, bishops and nobles before whom he performed marvels, which shows him to have been renowned as an adept in his specialty. In religion he must have been very broad-minded and eclectic, for he insists that this system of magic may be attained by anyone, whether Jew, Christian, Mahomedan or Pagan, and discountenances the changing of one’s religion for another, such a change meaning in those times the absolute renunciation of the essential basis of all religions and the consequent enfeeblement of the necessary prime qualification in the Magician, an absolute faith in his own divine nature and a divine overruling Power. His advice on the manner of using Magical Power when acquired, to the honor of God, the welfare and relief of our neighbor and for the benefit of the whole Animate Creation, is, says Mr. Mathers, worthy of the highest respect. Yet he can scarcely be said to have stuck very closely to the law of White Magic, since he used his acquired power to enrich himself and get a wife—presumably not otherwise a consenting party. In his very learned introduction Mr. Mathers classifies the spirits of the Elements of Nature in the usual way, viz., as mild, good and friendly to man; bad, devilish and malignant; and neither good nor evil per se—monkeyish,
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 319
tricksy, childish—taking their color or impulse from the persons into whose company they may for the moment be drawn.
But it is not pleasant to find enumerated among things possible, the multitudinous feats of sorcery that are banned in India as of the Black Tantra or Jadoo; such as the finding of treasures, the possession of unlimited wealth, the making of tempests, the revival of corpses, the rendering of oneself invisible for evil as well as good purposes, the opening of locked doors, the compelling of spirits to bring one whatever is desired for eating or drinking, the transformation of men into the appearance of animals, the casting of spells, the destruction of buildings, flying through the air, to know others’ secrets, to excite hatred and enmity, quarrels, contentions, combats, battles, loss and damage.
Mr. Mathers’ author, Abra-Melin, the seventeenth century Abraham, the translation of whose book by Mr. Mathers has provoked the foregoing comments, like the majority of these commercial traders in occult secrets, makes his excuses quite after the fatalistic fashion. He excuses himself for giving out these secrets on the ground that God is the Supreme Ruler of all, and that harm can only be done by the misuse of these magical formula if it is His sovereign pleasure: a neat way, it
320 OLD DIARY LEAVES
would seem, of shifting the responsibility for the evil consequences of his own indiscretion upon the shoulders of a personal God who, of course, would not have allowed the publication of either the Hebrew original of his work, or the seventeenth century French translation, or Mr. Mathers’ clever rendering of it into most readable English, if he had not been willing that it should have been done! Truly, a soothing salve to a rebuking conscience.
It is very possible that I may be reminded that among the phenomena accredited to H. P. B. by different observers were a number of those which are included in above category as being classified in India under the head of Jadoo, i.e., Black Magic. That is so, but then it makes all the difference in the world whether the phenomena worker—let us say a real yogî or an Adept’s chela—does the things with the object of self-gratification or for the purpose of instructing a third party in the mysteries of Natural Law. Broadly speaking, Black Magic is developed occult power used for selfish purposes; White Magic the same power employed to benefit mankind. The courage of the soldier has been vaunted in the most extravagant terms in both prose and verse since the beginning of history, but those who know by experience tell us that this physical
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 321
courage is an absurd trifle in comparison with what is needed to face the horrors of the Borderland, when one goes there consciously and for the purpose of reducing its tribes to obedience without guide and helper. The soldier’s peril is less than nothing beside that which the other must encounter, who rushes into the crooked path along which madness and death too often lurk. Only he is safe who can keep ever vivid throughout his whole experience, the consciousness of the power of his spiritual self over all other powers that can and will pit themselves against him, and whose motive is untainted with even the slightest trace of selfishness.
As I have elsewhere said, the personal relations between Mr. F. Max Müller and myself were cordial. At various times I consulted him as to the best way of developing the usefulness of the Adyar Library. At the time to which our narrative has now brought us (April, 1898), I wrote him a letter about the bequest of the late Mr. C. A. White, who had left his estate to myself for its benefit. I frankly told him at that time that I was not in the possession of funds that would enable me to get out from Europe a young German or English scholar who would be capable of taking charge of the Library and developing its literary resources; I only asked him if, when I had realized
322 OLD DIARY LEAVES
the White bequest, he would be able to recommend to me one of his pupils of something like the calibre of Dr. Thibaut. His reply was friendly, but I was not in a position to take his help during his lifetime. On April 2nd I wrote, at Mr. Bilimoria’s request, the Introduction to his excellent work, Zoroastrianism in the Light of Theosophy, and on the 4th, ordered at the School of Arts the two bas-relief statues which flank the door of the riverside apartment which was then occupied by the Western Section of the Library.
The Overland Mail of that week brought me a large bundle of newspapers and American newspaper clippings and copies of the Forum, which showed up in a ridiculous light the bitter struggles between the leaders of the secession party created by Mr. Judge and left by him to his abettors. The mantle of Mahâtmaship, a thin and sleazy material, gaudily tinted but without substance, which he had flung over one of them to hide for a twelve-month her sex and her personality, they were now tearing into tatters, apparently hoping each to get a fair-sized remnant. Here they were abusing, warning and deposing each other, recalling, though in a pitifully small way, the comedy that was enacted at Rome, Geneva and Avignon, when there were three popes, and for a period of thirty-eight years they kept Christian Europe scandalized by their
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 323
contentions. Each hurled at the others anathemas, excommunications and the foulest accusations. The popes of Rome and Geneva were compared by Wyclif to “two dogs snarling over a bone”—a simile which, says the Encyclopædia Britannica, “affords significant proof of the manner in which the popedom had fallen in the estimation of Christendom.” It will be remembered that before H. P. B.’s death she appointed Mrs. Besant her successor as “Outer Head”, that is, visible manager, of the Esoteric Section. Subsequently, misled by certain influences brought to bear upon her by Mr. Judge, in whom she had absolute confidence, she divided the power with him, giving him the direction of the American half of the movement and keeping for herself the rest. To a man of Judge’s ambitious temperament this was but the throwing of a sop to Cerberus, and when his secession plot had matured and nothing short of autocracy would satisfy him, he determined to depose her and to rule alone so that he might use this powerful agency to carry out his plans. In the Path for March, 1895, he published extracts from four of her private letters to himself (!) in two of which, seeing the impending disgrace that was to come upon him, she suggested his resignation of “the outer headship (of E. S. T.) held jointly with myself,” his practical answer to which was the issue
324 OLD DIARY LEAVES
in due course of an ukase deposing her from the directorship of the E. S. T., in language so insolent and abusive as to be absolutely inexcusable: the machinery of the E. S. T. was thenceforward employed remorselessly to break her influence and vilify her character.
In this connection it will be interesting and profitable to quote the text of letters written to Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant by an influential member of the American Section under date of January 2nd, 1895:
“My dear JUDGE,
I have received from . . . a note asking if I recognise your action in turning down Annie Besant, and appointing yourself as sole dictator of the Esoteric School of the T. S. As I do not recognise you as the sole head of this Section, I herewith tender you my resignation from this school.
I hope to have the time within the next two weeks to write you another open letter, touching on a number of points which have come within my observation from the time that I secured the impression of the Persian coin on your watch-chain, up to date. I have kept silent since 1889. But a time has now been reached where every person should speak out, who loves the philosophy which you have so degraded in your effort to re-establish a
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 325
hierarchy with yourself as the veiled prophet speaking from the Holy of Holies. I know too well the force that is behind you. You are indeed serving your master, but whether consciously or unconsciously, I do not pretend to say. As experience has taught me that your method of warfare is to endeavour to blacken the character of those who take issue with you, and as you are always merciless in your underhanded thrusts, I will say that so far as the power lies in me, I shall give you no quarter and I ask none. This is a fight of Truth against a very old enemy of the human race.”
* * * *
“Dear MRS. BESANT,
In order to be honest with myself, I am obliged to utterly repudiate the claim made by W. Q. Judge that he is to be acknowledged as the sole head of the Esoteric School. I have held my peace for several years, but I feel now that it is due to a large number of American Theosophists to speak out frankly and plainly. I have no war to make on Judge personally. But I honestly believe that he is dragging down a great many people by Jesuitical means which are little short of diabolical. I do not know as I can help matters, but if a word of warning is of any use, I shall speak it so far as I can. I enclose you
326 OLD DIARY LEAVES
a copy of a letter which I sent this morning to Mr. Judge.”
A search made among Mr. Judge’s papers a fortnight after his death (21st March, 1896) revealed the fact that he had nominated as his successor, Mrs. K. A. Tingley, an American Spiritualistic medium, entirely unknown to myself and the members in general. He added a condition, it seems, that the secret should be closely kept for one year, from all except those whom he had chosen to open and examine his papers. Dr. Franz Hartmann, a fellow-seceder with Judge, but who at the time of writing had given his “voluntary and prompt resignation from the Presidency of the T. S. in E. (Germany) after my (his) discovery that ‘the spirit of intolerance prevailed therein,’” contributes to the Theosophical Forum1 the following caustic paragraph about the alleged secret methods, employed in the interests of Mrs. Tingley:
“The letters before us, privately written by Mr. B...C..., S...C... and others, in which orders are given as to how the public should be mystified and the members of the T. S. taken by surprise, and in which every doubt about the Mahâtmaship of Mrs. Tingley is put down as a deadly sin against the Holy Ghost, are a masterwork of Jesuitism; but it is none of our business to trouble ourselves
1New Series. Vol. III, No.7, April, 1898.
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 327
about the means which any church organism may use for obtaining power over the minds of the faithful and over their money; I only wish to state that the church of Mrs. Tingley never has been and is not now representing the real Theosophical Society which has been established by H. P. Blavatsky, nor did the real W. Q. Judge ever resemble the caricature which the adherents of Mrs. Tingley have made of him and of which they have created an object of adulation and idolatry.”
Another group into which the secessionists had split in revolt against Mrs. Tingley’s autocracy, which called itself the “Temple” and had for its “veiled prophet” another psychic, figuring under the pseudonym of “Blue Star”, published in a circular dated at Syracuse, N. Y., February 1st, 1899, the following indictment:
“Before Wm. Q. Judge passed into the silence, he left with the selected Outer Head an injunction and a request. He told her that at a certain time after he was gone she would receive a certain sign, immediately upon the receipt of which, she was to send for the person bearing that sign, and place that one in the Inner Circle of advisers. This person, whom we will refer to by the impersonal name of Blue Star, had strong occult connections with the Lodge of Masters, and would receive directions which would be transmitted to,
328 OLD DIARY LEAVES
the O. H. and from her to the different groups. The sign was sent to the O. H. over a year ago, but she refused to accept it, or recognize the person giving it. She disobeyed this injunction as well as the one commanding her to keep secret her connection with the Lodge for one year. Overweening ambition and desire for public recognition is the cornerstone of her failure to keep connection with the Lodge. She organized the Crusade around the world which should not have been attempted until ten years after the death of W. Q. J., when conditions in America, now under preparation, would have made it a great success, instead of the useless expenditure of time, money and force that it really was. She selected the site for the School of Mysteries which is not the place selected by the Lodge. Then she called the Convention at Chicago, where was cut the last strand of the thread which bound her to Masters. Since then she has been working solely on her own responsibility.”
A year earlier (February 26th, 1898) Dr. J. D. Buck, later of the “Temple”, backed by twenty-four sympathizers, forming what was called the Amrita Group, had himself notified her thus of his revolt:
“I have resigned from that section of the E. S. T. over which you preside. This action was
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 329
due to you no less than myself. Being no longer in sympathy with your methods, and my confidence in your direction being broken, I could not receive instruction or bestow obedience to any order of yours. You have converted the E. S. into a starchamber, where insinuations and slander against Brothers is indulged in without protest, and where explanation or defence is not permitted. This I regard as not only unbrotherly but as Jesuitical and cowardly. I think such methods demoralising. I deny that they emanate from the Great Lodge and I believe they will rebound on all who participate in them.”
A third split, led by Mrs. Tingley’s most trusted lieutenant, Mr. E. T. Hargrove, who was one of a globe-trotting party called the “Crusaders”, sent out (at an expense of $30,000) to advertise their party in all countries where we were known, in the hope of destroying our influence, and who issued a circular on the 1st March, 1898, in which Mr. Hargrove, with a pathos which would be touching if it were not so funny, solemnly notifies his “Purple Mother”:
“You have ceased to be the Outer Head of the E.S.T. in the interior and true sense. You will before long cease to be the Outer Head of the school in the exterior sense. The Outer Head to follow you has already been appointed by the
330 OLD DIARY LEAVES
Master.” She must have thought this cruel, indeed, as coming from one to whom she had written on September 5th, 1896, signing herself “Purple”: “You are more to me than all in this great world.” We have Congreve’s authority that hell has no fury like a woman scorned, which may explain her saying in a letter of April 11th, 1898, to Mr. Neresheimer, that Messrs. Griscomb, Hargrove and Spencer were a lot of “occult desperadoes”.
The chronological sequence of the secession movement would then be as follows:
May 8th, 1891.—H.P.B. died, after appointing Mrs. Besant her successor: subsequently, influenced by representations made by him, the latter united Mr. Judge with herself in a joint leadership.
July 10th, 1894.—Judicial Committee, on Mr. Judge, sat in London.
November, 1894.—Mr. Judge issues a circular “deposing” Mrs. Besant and assuming sole control.
April 28th, 1895.—Boston Convention: American Section secedes.
June 27th, 1895.—Secession recognized, and Charter of American Section transferred to loyal minority.
A. P. Sinnett appointed Vice-President to fill vacancy caused by Mr. Judge’s secession.
The pitiful part of this pitiful business is that each of these secession leaders pretends to be acting
MAGIC: BLACK AND WHITE 331
under the inspiration and guidance of the Masters, while at the same time doing everything to degrade the name of and bring shame upon the Theosophical movement. The thoughtful reader cannot fail to see that these splits and quarrels were an inevitable sequence to the original Boston secession, secretly engineered by Mr. Judge—the lust of power spreading its contagion from person to person. At present (August, 1906) Mrs. Tingley has been the most successful and, as “She Who Must Be Obeyed”, rules her millionaire and pauper followers as Autocrat at Point Loma.