The Theosophist, a magazine of Oriental Philosophy, Art, Literature, and Occultism. Conducted by H. P. Blavatsky, and H. S. Olcott, Permanent President of the T.S., Vol. VIII, Nos. 94 and 95, July and August, 1887. Madras, India. In London, George Redway, 15, York Street, Covent Garden.
This journal is the oldest of the periodicals of The Theosophical Society, and has a distinct feature of its own: a number of Hindu, Buddhist, and Parsi contributors among the most learned of British India. No journal is thus more reliable in the occasional information given in it upon the sacred tenets and scriptures of the East, since it is derived first hand, and comes from native scholars, well versed in their respective cults. From time to time The Theosophist has respectfully corrected mistakes—by Western Orientalists, and will continue to perform its proposed task by issuing admirable articles.
As a marked instance of this, the four “Lectures on the Bhagavad-Gita,” by a native scholar, Mr. T. Subba Row, may be cited. Begun in the February number, they are now concluded in the July issue. No better, abler, or more complete exposition on that most philosophical, as the least understood, of the sacred books of the East, has ever been given in any work, past or present. In the June and July numbers, the “Ha-Khoshe-Cah: a Vision of the Infinite,” by Dr. Henry Pratt, an erudite Kabalist in England, is published.
Some very interesting articles on the “Norse Mythology,” by the learned Swedish scholar, Mr. C. H. A. Bjerregaard (the Astor Library, New York), may also be found in the last number.
The Theosophist is the journal of The Theosophical Society par excellence; the Minutes and records of the Society’s work being given monthly in its “Supplements.”
No evil wisher of the said Society, rushing into publicity with denunciations, and occasionally libellous attacks upon that body, ought—if he is a fair-minded and honest opponent, of course—to publish anything without first making himself well acquainted with the contents of The Theosophist, and especially with the Supplements attached to that journal.
This advice is given in all kindness to our traducers—the learned as the ignorant—for their direct benefit, though at an evident disadvantage to theosophy. For, as so many of our critics have been lately making fools of themselves, in their alleged exposés of our doctrines, it is to the advantage of our Society to let them go on undisturbed, and thus turn the laugh on the enemy. Two graphic instances may be cited. In Buddhism in Christendom: or, Jesus the Essene, by an impolite dabbler in Orientalism, the septenary doctrine of the Occultists is disfigured out of recognition, and is met by the unanimous hearty laugh of those who know something of the subject. Its unlucky author has evidently never opened a serious theosophical work, unless, indeed, the doctrine is too much above his head. As a refreshing contrast one finds, in Earth’s Earliest Ages, by G. H. Pember, an author, who has most conscientiously studied and understood the fundamental doctrines of Theosophy.
Thus, notwithstanding his attempt to connect it with the coming Antichrist, and show its numerous writers pledged to the work of Satan, “the Prince of the Powers of the Air,”1 the volume published by the learned and fair-minded gentleman is a true pearl in the anti-Theosophical literature. The correct enunciation of knowledge of the tenets he disapproves, as a sincere orthodox Christian, is remarkable; and his language, dignified, polite, and entirely free from any personality can but call forth as courteous a reply from those he arraigns. He has evidently read, and, what is more, understood, what he found in The Theosophist, and other mystic volumes. It shall, therefore, be the pleasure and duty of Lucifer, who bears no malice for the personal attack, to review this interesting volume in its October issue [see Lucifer, October, 1887, p. 151], hoping to see as kind a notice of Earth’s Earliest Ages in The Theosophist of Madras.
The Path; “a magazine devoted to the Brotherhood of Humanity, Theosophy in America, and the study of Occult Science, Philosophy, and Aryan Literature.” Edited by William Q. Judge. Price ten shillings per annum. New York, U.S.A. P.O. Box 2659, etc. George Redway, 15, York Street, Covent Garden, London.
A most excellent and theosophical monthly, full of philosophical literature by several well-known mystics and writers. The best publication of its kind in the United States, and one that ever fulfils what it promises, giving more food for thought than many of the larger periodicals. Its August number is very interesting and fully up to its usual mark.
Jasper Niemand continues his excellent reflections in “Letters on the True.” Mr. E. D. Walker, in an article upon “The Poetry of Reincarnation in Western Literature,” cites the verses of Wordsworth, Tennyson, Dean Alford, Addison, H. Vaughan, Browning, etc., in proof of the fact that these poets were tinctured, if not imbued, with the philosophy of reincarnation. B. N. Acle continues “Notes on the Astral Light,” from Eliphas Lévi. He cites the startling and lurid enunciation of that epigrammatical occultist, who says that “he who dies without forgiving his enemy, hurls himself into Eternity armed with a dagger, and devotes himself to the horror of eternal murder.” “The Symbolism of the Equilateral Triangle,” by Miss Lydia Bell, shows how much wisdom can be extracted from a little symbol when you know how to look for it there.
S. B. makes some very pertinent remarks upon “Theosophical Fiction,” the growth of which is one sign of the times. “A true picture of life, either real or potential, which is found in a work of fiction, makes such reading one of the best sources of learning.” Thanks to the education which it is receiving from the more solid literature of theosophy, the public is becoming more critical, and has already formed a “standard of probability” for marvellous phenomena, which acts as a healthy check upon outside writers of fiction, who are therefore no longer able to trust entirely “to their imagination for their acts, and to their memory for their fancies.” Novel readers now like their supernatural not to be unnaturally supernatural, even if they do have to take it in minute doses, disguised in their favourite draught of love, murder and small talk. “The Higher Carelessness” (No. 7 of “Thoughts in Solitude”), by “Pilgrim,” is full of deep and beautiful reflections. This writer, like “American Mystic” whose article on the puzzling question, “Am I my Brother’s Keeper?” comes next, has advanced some way upon the path of knowledge, and the thoughts of both of them have a special interest for contemplative and self-examining readers. “American Mystic,” by-the-bye, gives a new and striking turn to a phrase too often misunderstood. “Resist not evil” he quotes and explains that resistance, fierce and personal, to evil befalling oneself, is what is meant. “Christianity—Theosophy,” by Mr. Wm. H. Kimbal, seeks to show that the fundamental aim of both, namely the Brotherhood of Humanity, is the same, and that they can and ought to unite their forces.
Julius, in “Tea Table Talk,” is as crisp, weird, and slyly-sentimental as ever.
1. Spiritualists, mystics, and metaphysical Orientalists need not feel jealous, as they are made to share the same fate, and are raised to the same dignity with the Theosophists. The writers of The Perfect Way, Dr. Anna B. Kingsford and Edward Maitland, stand arm-in-arm with the humble writer of Isis Unveiled before the throne of Satan. Mr. Edwin Arnold, of The Light of Asia, and the late Mr. E. V. Kenealy, of the Book of God, are seen radiating in the same lethal light of brimstone and sulphur. Mr. C. C. Massey is shown stuck deep in Antichristian Metaphysics; our kind Lady Caithness is pointed out in the coils of the “Great Beast” of Romanism, and charged with “Goddess worship”; and even—ye Powers of mystical Perception!—Mr. Arthur Lillie’s Buddhist Monotheism is taken au grand sérieux!