Letter selections from Henry G. Atkinson | Notes by H.P.B.

There is a long article on Ghosts, and the author says, “If I mistake not, haunting spirits are not unknown to India, and India, I suppose, has lustrious nights too.” The writer says, “The most delightfully quaint invention for accounting for apparitions and ghost stories is to be found in Gaffarel’s Unheard-of Curiosities. He first tells the tale that, if the ashes of certain plants, e.g. roses and nettles, are put in the glass and held over a lamp, they will rise up and result their original form . . . and hence he proceeds to draw the conclusion that ghosts of dead men, which he says are often seen to appear in church yards, are natural effects, being only the forms of the bodies which are buried in those places, and not the souls of those men, nor any such like apparitions caused by evil spirits.”1

1. This is precisely that which is held by the Theosophists in all such cases of apparitions long after death.

This idea is clearly founded on Plato’s theory of abstract forms as efficient causes of the actual forms. . . . Now supposing we could entertain any such like abstract notions, it would not account for the clothes and armour, which are artificial productions, and their ashes scattered to the four winds; but we are not bound to have our one theory cover the whole question.2 However, the matter is open to experiment if any Theosophist cares to give the matter a trial. . . .

2. And why not? Anything, of whatever material, and be it an organic or inorganic tissue, once it has imbibed the magnetism of the body it was in contact with, becomes, so to say, part and parcel of the latter. Burn a body clad in a uniform, and the uniform will appear as the aura of these ashes, together with the form of the dead man. The ghosts of the Hindus who are burnt quite naked will never appear clad—unless in the imagination of the Seer. The tale told by Gaffarel is not a fiction. The experiment was made and the assertion found correct.