Letter from “British Theosophist” | Reply by H.P.B.


As a Theosophist and lover of truth, I cannot allow a statement in a letter quoted by you, and your remarks thereon, in the April number of the “THEOSOPHIST,” to pass without protest.

The letter from a Fellow of the British Theosophical Society speaks of the “shocking state at which Spiritualism has arrived in London,” but, in his just indignation at practices, grossly immoral and pernicious, he has fallen into the error of attributing the defilement of the few to the many.

There may be, we know there are filthy minds which cannot soar above the level of their own filthiness, and who, seeking communion with the world of spirits, will endeavor to obtain the gratification of their own depraved natures through intercourse with beings of a similar grade to themselves, who incite them to deeds which fully justify the writer of the letter in describing them as “sunk to the lowest depths of . . . moral depravity.” But, in the name of Justice, I protest against this accusation being laid to the charge of the majority of London Spiritualists. Of the many spirit circles now held in London, and which we find to be daily increasing, the majority are certainly far from being centres of attraction for “Western Pisachas,” but, on the contrary, are the expression of the earnest endeavours of the soul to find out truth and to advance in purity of life and doctrine.

I have attended many spirit circles during the last few years, and am well aware of the dangers that may arise from an ignorant and indiscriminate intercourse with the denizens of the other world; at the same time my experience has led me to the conclusion that spirits out of the form answer to the aspirations and development of those in the form, and that a sound head and pure heart will be proof against all the influences of Pisachas, or any other form of evil. Ignorance is not depravity, and although it is much to be desired that the crude and often foolish beliefs of Spiritualists should be modified by a knowledge of occult truths, yet this ignorance of the higher mysteries does not prevent the majority being pure-minded, simple, honest souls who would shrink with horror from the abominations hinted at in the letter from the British Theosophist.

I truths that, as you have published the letter casting such imputations on the great majority of London Spiritualists, you will be fair and kind enough to publish this protest against he charge from

Notting Hill, London, April 22.

Editor’s Note: It never, for one moment, entered our thoughts to imply that the “majority of London Spiritualists” were either depraved or immoral. We deny it. What we wrote in so many words was that this “majority” in their dangerous blindness and overconfidence in the powers controlling mediums, would be always attracting Pisachas, and that unconsciously, since they are ignorant of their true nature. Not all of these “Pisachas” are necessarily bad “Spirits,” nor are they all Incubi and Succubi. But of what nature, we ask, can be, for instance, a “Spirit,” who “emits such a cadaverous offensive smell” as to make every person present at the séance “sick at stomach”? We have it from Miss Emily Kislingbury ( a lady whose veracity no one would ever doubt) who often told us about this London female Pisacha, materializing through a lady medium who must remain unnamed. We have never been present at a materializing séance in London; therefore, we know nothing of such; yet we have a right to judge by analogy, since we are thoroughly well acquainted with American mediums and their séance rooms, and that a great percentage of the most celebrated mediums in London are Americans.

What we have said in our leading editorial on page 250 [“A Storm in a Teacup”] is quite sufficient to define our position and exonerate us from any such vile thought in connection with the educated London Spiritualists. But as regards America hardly three years ago, it is quite another affair, and we maintain our denunciation at the risk of, and notwithstanding all the protests and filth that is sure to be poured on our heads for it, by some spiritual organs of that country. We speak but the truth, and feel ready to suffer, and are prepared for it; aye, ready even for something more terrible than the cheap abuse and numerous libellous stories told about us by some amiable American contemporaries.

If, thereby, we can warn and save but one honest sincere Spiritualist, out of the alleged twenty millions or more of believers of Europe and America, that abuse will do us good. And that—as concerns the United States at least—we have said nothing but the truth, facts and history are there to support our statements. There were, and still are (unless we have been misinformed) communities in New York which bear fancy Greek names—as, for example, that of Stephen Pearl Andrews—the “Pantarch,” whose members are mediums and whose moral code is based upon the filthy doctrine of Free Love. Of this school Mrs. Woodhull and Miss Claflin were chief female apostles; and it is not only a common rumour, but a fact—corroborated by numerous publications in the Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, a journal conducted by these two famous sisters for several consecutive years—that their pernicious doctrines were derived, as alleged by themselves, from spiritual “controls.” These had wide acceptance among, and were largely put into practice by the Spiritualists. And there were, as we were informed, secret lodges, or Agapâe, where the genuine Black Magic of Asia was taught by the late P. B. Randolph, and sensuality was at least preached and advocated—as everyone can see by reading any one of the numerous works of this man of genius finally driven by his Pisachas—to suicide. Also there were and are male and female mediums—public and private who boasted publicly and in our hearing of marital relationships with materialized Spirits, and—in the case of the Rev. T. L. Harris, the great poet, mystic and Spiritualist—alleged parentage is claimed of children begotten by him in a revolting union with his “Spirit-wife.” All this is History. If we knew as much about European Spiritualists, we would not shrink from saying so. But as we do not know it and never said so, we deny the imputation altogether.

[Note: for the continuation of this series, see: “Spiritualistic Black Magic“]