The Meaning of Spiritualism (Excerpted from the writings of William Q. Judge)
AN examination of the records of what is known as the spiritualistic movement discloses a strange state of things, revealing a blindness to the just and logical conclusions to be drawn from the vast mass of facts.
When Mme. Blavatsky came to this country it was with spiritualism here that she began. It was sought at first to give the spiritualists a chance to do what they might and ought for the sake of the western races. But the opportunity was not availed of at all: instead, ridicule and hate were thrown by them at H.P.B. She wanted to reform such abuses as paid and public mediums, and all the mass of wrong notion and wrong dealing with the whole subject, and especially she wished, as we do also, that things should be called by their right names, and that certain facts should not be accepted as proofs for theories advanced by mediums, as to the state after death and the power and nature of the forces that come to and about mediums. For these people stand on the brink of the grave and call for those who have passed away, who are still living in other states, who do not return; and in response to the cry the seekers are rewarded by the ghosts, the ghouls, the vampires, the senseless, wavering shapes, the useless images and reflections of human thoughts and acts of which the vast reservoir of the astral light is full. This and this alone is their worship. Yet from the remotest days of the past down to the present time the loudest and clearest warnings have been given against such practices. It is what was called necromancy in the old time, prohibited in the Christian Bible and the pagan mysteries alike. But the spiritualists and their leaders, if they have any, persistently ignore not only the experience of the past but also the cautions now and then given by their own “spirits.” For, as is well known to the thoughtful theosophist, mediums, being passive and open to any and every influence that may come their way, often do give out the knowledge in the possession of living men on these subjects. As the frequenters of sιances are not behind the scenes, they cannot say who it is or what it may be that operates to produce the phenomena exhibited. Knowing the strange properties of the astral plane and the actual fate of the sheaths of the soul … the Theosophical Adepts of all times gave no credit to pretended returning of the dead. With a sensitive, abnormally constituted person present — a medium, in other words, and all of that class are nervously unbalanced — the astral light and the living medium’s astral body recall these soulless phantoms, and out of the same reservoir take their speech, their tones, their idiosyncrasies of character, which the deluded devotees of this debasing practice are cheated into imagining as the returned self of dead friend or relative. Spiritualism amounts to no more than the worship or following of the dead. It is not the worship of spirits at all. It is dealing with the dead shells of once living men and women. We hold that at death the soul flies to other states and leaves its coats of skin and of astral matter behind it. These should be let alone, as there is danger in them. They belong to other planes of nature, and if we wake them up, brutes and devils as they really are, we then subject ourselves to their influence and power. I say they are brutes and devils because the best of us knows that a part of our nature is not divine but is related to the earth and to brute matter, and is full too of all the passions and desires we have had in life. The soul being gone, there is no director to guide and prevent, and so we deal only with the gross dregs of man when we attend sιances or let ourselves become mediums. The Theosophist must accept the facts of spiritualism or be accused of ignorance and bigotry. But his philosophy gives to those facts an explanation which takes in the real nature of man, without sentiment, wonder, or amazement. He looks for the right meaning at all hazards. And the careful Theosophist knows it is also dangerous to seek mediums; it is better to stay away and try to understand philosophy first of all. If you will watch your own life in its three stages of waking, deep sleep, and dream, you will find they key to all mysteries of mind and even to the mysteries of the whole of nature. So in considering spiritualism you must not set it in a compartment by itself, but must examine every part of the subject with reference to the living man and the philosophy of that living man’s constitution. It is hence important for us to keep clearly in mind the sevenfold constitution of man as explained in Theosophical literature. Our septenary nature must be known if we are to know all that the psychical phenomena mean. In other words, man’s true teacher and initiator is himself in the body, and not any intelligence devoid of a body.
Excerpted from the writings of William Q. Judge. THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 8, June, 1929 (Pages 368-369)