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Jan 17, 2003 08:49 AM
by D. H. Caldwell " <>

by H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, July, 1890 

THERE has probably never been a period within our recollection more 
given to the production of "great missions" and missionaries than the 
present. The movement began, apparently, about a hundred years ago. 
Before that, it would have been unsafe to make such claims as are 
common in the present day. But the revelators of that earlier time 
were few and far between compared to those who are to be found now, 
for they are legion. The influence of one or two was powerful; of 
others, whose beliefs were dangerously akin to a common form of 
lunacy--next to nothing. All will recognize a wide difference between 
Anne Lee, whose followers flourish at the present time, and Joanna 
Southcote, whose hallucination long ago, and in her own day, excited 
smiles from rational people. The venerable Shaker lady, the "Woman" 
of Revelation XII, taught some truths amid confused ideas as to their 
practical working. At least, in a rather loose age, she held up an 
ideal of pure living which must always appeal to the spiritual nature 
and aspirations of man. 

Then followed a period of moral decadence in the messianic 
perceptions and works. The polygamy taught and practised by Joseph 
Smith and Brigham Young has been one of the strangest features of any 
modern revelation or so-called religion. Zeal and martyrdom were both 
illustrated in these leaders of the blind--the one without knowledge, 
and the other worse than useless. It was a prophecy of more lawless 
prophets, and more disastrous followings. 

With the spread of the spiritualistic cult, the Messiah craze has 
vastly increased, and men and women alike have been involved in its 
whirlpools. Given, a strong desire to reform somehow the religious or 
social aspect of the world, a personal hatred of certain of its 
aspects, and a belief in visions and messages, and the result was 
sure; the "Messiah" arose with a universal panacea for the ills of 
mankind. If he (very often she) did not make the claim, it was made 
for him. Carried away by the magnetic force, the eloquence, the 
courage, the single idea of the apostle pro tem, numbers, for very 
varied reasons, accepted him or her as the revelator of the hour and 
of all time. 

With burning indignation at the enthralment of womanhood in marriage, 
Victoria Woodhull arose to proclaim freedom. The concentrated forces 
within and around her withstood insult, calumny, and threats. What 
her exact utterances were, or what she meant herself, it is not easy 
now to discover. If she indeed preached free love, she only preached 
woman's damnation. If she merely tore down social veils, and rifled 
whited sepulchres, she did the human race a service. Man has fallen 
to so material a level that it is impossible to suppress sexual 
passion--but its exaltation is manifestly his ruin. Some saw in her 
teachings a way of liberty dear to their own sympathies and desires, 
and their weaknesses and follies have for ever dealt a death-blow to 
any real or imagined doctrine of free love, upheld no matter by whom. 
Victoria Woodhull grew silent, and the latest interpretations of the 
Garden of Eden and the fall of man, with which she has broken the 
silence, do not approach anywhere near in truth and lucidity to 
Laurence Oliphant's inspirational catches at the meaning of some of 
those ancient allegories in the book of Genesis. Blind as he was to 
the key of human life in the philosophy of reincarnation, with its 
impregnable logic, he gave some vivid side-glimpses of truth in his 
Scientific Religion. 

Yet Victoria Woodhull should have her due. She was a power in the 
land, and after her appearance, which stirred up thought in the 
sluggish, it became more possible to speak and write on the social 
question, and its vast issues. So much plain-spoken and acted folly 
created a hearing for a little wisdom. 

After this, in the spiritualistic field, many lesser lights stood 
forth. Some openly advocated sexual freedom, and were surrounded by 
influences of the most dangerous order. The peace and happiness of 
many a home have been wrecked by these teachings, never more to 
return. They wrecked the weak and unwary, who reaped hours of agony, 
and whom the world falsely regarded as wicked. The crusade at last 
against these more open dangers of spiritualism became fierce, but 
although publicly denounced--an Oneida Creek never could become 
popular!--the disguised poison creeps about in underhand channels, 
and is one of the first snares the mediumistic inquirer into 
Spiritualism has to beware of. "Affinities" were to redeem the world; 
meanwhile they have become a by-word. There is an unwritten history 
in Spiritualism which none of its clever advocates will ever record. 
Some of its latest Messiahs and their claims are ignored, and their 
names hardly mentioned, but we hear nothing of the hot-house process 
by which their abnormal condition was produced. Certain of these have 
been, verily, the victims of their belief--persons whose courage and 
faith in a more righteous cause would have won them lasting victory. 
And certain of these are mad vortices in which the inexperienced are 
at last engulfed. The apotheosis of passion, from the bitter fruit of 
which man has everlasting need to be redeemed, is the surest sign of 
moral degradation. Liberty to love according to the impulse of the 
senses, is the most profound slavery. From the beginning nature has 
hedged that pathway with disease and death. Wretched as are countless 
marriages, vile as are the man-made laws which place marriage on the 
lowest plane, the salvation of free-love is the whisper of the snake 
anew in the ear of the modern Eve. 

No one denies that there are aspects of Spiritualism which have been 
useful in some ways. With this, however, we have nothing to do. We 
are pointing now to the way in which it has accentuated a common 

The claims to final appropriation of the prophesied year 1881 the two 
witnesses, and the woman clothed with the sun, are so varied and 
diverse that there is safety in numbers. A true understanding of 
Kabbalistic allegory, and the symbolic galleries and chambers of the 
Great Pyramid, would at once disperse these ideas, and enlighten 
these illuminations. To distinguish the white rays of truth from 
influx from the astral sphere, requires a training which ordinary 
sensitives, whether avowed spiritualists or not, do not possess. 
Ignorance emboldens, and the weak will always worship the bold. 

Some of these apostles denounce alike Spiritualism and Theosophy; 
some accept the latter, but weave it anew into a version of their 
own; and some have apparently arisen, independently of any other 
cult, through the force of their own or somebody else's conviction. 

No one can doubt the poetical nature of the inspiration of Thomas 
Lake Harris. He had an intellectual head and a heart for poetry. Had 
he kept clear of great claims, he would have ranked at least as a man 
of literary ability, and a reformer with whom other reformers would 
wish to shake hands. His poem on Womanhood must echo in every 
thoughtful heart. But the assumption of personal privilege and 
authority over others, and "affinity" theories, have stranded him on 
a barren shore. 

There is an avowed re-incarnation of Buddha in the United States, and 
an avowed re-incarnation of Christ. Both have followers; both have 
been interviewed and said their best. They and others like unto them 
have had signs, illuminations, knowledge not common to men, and 
events pointing in a marked way to this their final destiny. There 
has even been a whisper here and there of supernatural births. But 
they lacked the clear-seeing eye which could reduce these facts to 
their right order, and interpret them aright. Kings and potentates 
appear, and dreamers of dreams, but there is never a prophet or 
Daniel in their midst. And the result is sorry to behold, for each 
seems to be putting the crown upon his own head. 

If Theosophy had done nothing else, it would have made a demand on 
human gratitude in placing the truth and falsehood of these psychic 
experiences, unfoldments, or delusions as the case might be, plainly 
before the people, and explaining their rationale. It showed a plane 
of manhood, and proved it unassailably to a number of persons, which 
transcends any powers or capacities of the inspirational psychic who 
may imagine himself or herself to be a messenger to the world at 
large. It placed personal purity on a level which barred out nine-
tenths of these claimants from all thought of their presumed 
inheritance, and showed that such a condition of purity, far 
transcending any popular ideal of such virtue, was the absolute and 
all-essential basis of spiritual insight and attainment. It swept the 
ground from under the feet of those poor men and women who had been 
listening to the so-called messages from the angels, that they were 
the chosen of heaven, and were to accomplish world-wide missions. The 
Joan of Arcs, the Christs, the Buddhas, the Michaels, were fain to 
see truths they had not dreamed of, and gifts they had never 
possessed, exercised in silence and with potent force by men whose 
names were unknown even to history, and recognised only by hidden 
disciples, or their peers. Something higher was placed before the 
sight of these eager reformers than fame: it was truth. Something 
higher than the most purified union between even one man and one 
woman in the most spiritual of sympathies, was shown; it was the 
immortal union of the soul of man with God. Wherever Theosophy 
spreads, there it is impossible for the deluded to mislead, or the 
deluded to follow. It opens a new path, a forgotten philosophy which 
has lived through the ages, a knowledge of the psychic nature of man, 
which reveals alike the true status of the Catholic saint, and the 
spiritualistic medium the Church condemns. It gathers reformers 
together, throws light on their way, and teaches them how to work 
towards a desirable end with most effect, but forbids any to assume a 
crown or sceptre, and no less delivers from a futile crown of thorns. 
Mesmerisms and astral influences fall back, and the sky grows clear 
enough for higher light. It hushes the "Lo here! and lo there!" and 
declares the Christ, like the kingdom of heaven, to be within. It 
guards and applies every aspiration and capacity to serve humanity in 
any man, and shows him how. It overthrows the giddy pedestal, and 
safely cares for the human being on solid ground. Hence, in this way, 
and in all other ways, it is the truest deliverer and saviour of our 

To enumerate the various "Messiahs" and their beliefs and works would 
fill volumes. It is needless. When claims conflict, all, on the face 
of it, cannot be true. Some have taught less error than others. It is 
almost the only distinction. And some have had fine powers imperilled 
and paralyzed by leadings they did not understand. 

Of one thing, rationally-minded people, apart from Theosophists, may 
be sure. And that is, service for humanity is its all-sufficient 
reward; and that empty jars are the most resonant of sound. To know a 
very little of the philosophy of life, of man's power to redeem 
wrongs and to teach others, to perceive how to thread the tangled 
maze of existence on this globe, and to accomplish aught of lasting 
and spiritual benefit, is to annihilate all desire or thought of 
posing as a heaven-sent saviour of the people. For a very little self-
knowledge is a leveller indeed, and more democratic than the most 
ultra-radical can desire. The best practical reformers of the outside 
abuses we have known, such as slavery, deprivation of the rights of 
woman, legal tyrannies, oppressions of the poor, have never dreamed 
of posing as Messiahs. Honor, worthless as it is, followed them 
unsought, for a tree is known by its fruits, and to this day "their 
works do follow them." To the soul spending itself for others those 
grand words of the poet may be addressed evermore: 

comfort--thou hast left behind
Powers that will work for 
thee: air. earth, and skies:
There's not a breathing of 
the common wind 
That will forget thee thou 
hast great allies; 
Thy friends are exultations, 
And love, and man's 
unconquerable mind!

With the advent of Theosophy, the Messiah-craze surely has had its 
day, and sees its doom. For if it teaches, or has taught, one thing 
more plainly than another, it is that the "first shall be last, and 
the last first." And in the face of genuine spiritual growth, and 
true illumination, the Theosophist grows in power to most truly 
befriend and help his fellows, while he becomes the most humble, the 
most silent, the most guarded of men. 
Saviours to their race, in a sense, have lived and will live. Rarely 
has one been known. Rare has been the occasion when thus to be known 
has been either expedient or possible. Therefore, fools alone will 
rush in "where angels fear to tread." 


Lucifer, July, 1890 

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