We are asked by a "Subscriber" in America to "comment" upon a curious report in the Chicago Tribune, which he sends us. We do so the more willingly as it contains a very ingenuous, newly-invented "dodge" to detect the real nature of the "mango-tree growing," "boy and basket" performance and other like phenomena produced by Indian "jugglers," and an alleged "scientific" explanation of the same. The latter, however, is as old as the hills, and known to every Occultist, and has never been made a secret of. The heading of the article "IT IS ONLY HYPNOTISM" (is it only that?) pretends to let the cat out of the bag, and the "Chicagoan" interviewer seems very proud of this achievement of his countryman. But, to facts; let us see
FRED S. ELLMORE, A YOUNG CHICAGOAN, DEMONSTRATES THE TRUTH OF HIS THEORY AT GAYA, INDIA MANGO TREES, BABIES, AND OTHER OBJECTS CREATED BY THE FAKIR SHOWN TO BE CREATURES OF THE IMAGINATION HOW A CLEVER SCHEME WAS WORKED.
Well, he might, no doubt, but for two trifling facts: (a) if what he has discovered had not been known in the East, for ages, by the Occultists as GUPTA MAYA or "Secret Illusion"; and (b) had not the Theosophical Society existed for over fifteen years to tell the "Ellmore" tale to every gobe-mouche inclined to believe in the miraculous and supernatural character of Indian, so-called "jugglery." It is over ten years ago that all such phenomena the more wondrous and phenomenal, for being simply scientific and explicable on natural principles were repeatedly characterized by the present writer, when at Simla, as "psychological tricks," to the great disgust of her over-enthusiastic friends. What these psychological tricks are in reality and the difference between them and "conjuring" will be explained further on. And now to the Tribune narrative. After stating every particular about Mr. Frederick S. Ellmore, describing his childhood and college life, giving the color of his hair and the address and number of his family residence, the interviewer shows him, with a friend and class-mate, Mr. George Lessing one "an enthusiastic photographer," the other a clever artist and draughtsman in the land of the Sacred Cow and the wily fakir.
Nor have we any doubt, upon this. The "S.P.R." is sure to make "as good use" of the sketches, by Mr. Lessing, and the photographic pictures by Mr. Ellmore, as it has made of the hundreds of its séances with spiritual mediums, and the evidence furnished by the Theosophist: unable to trace the things to its much beloved "telepathic impact," it will brand the whole round of the above enumerated well-known "juggler" phenomena as prestidigitation, sleight of hand and conjuring tricks à la "Maskelyne and Cook." For this is usually the only explanation given by the "learned" Society, of all that it does not understand and is incapable of understanding.
We wish Messrs. Ellmore and Lessing joy, and must say a few words on the subject, for their further and personal benefit.
First of all, we ask them why they call the "juggler" a "fakir"? If he is the one he cannot be the other; for a fakir is simply a Mussulman Devotee whose whole time is taken up by acts of holiness, such as standing for days on one leg, or on the top of his head, and who pays no attention to any other phenomena. Nor could their "juggler" be a Yogi, the latter title being incompatible with "taking up collections" after the exhibition of his psychic powers. The man they saw then at Gaya was simply as they very correctly state a public juggler, or as he is generally called in India, a jadoowalla (sorcerer) and a "producer of illusions," whether Hindu or Mohammedan. As a genuine juggler, i.e., one who makes us professions of showing the supernatural phenomena or Siddhis of a Yogi, he would be quite as entitled to the use of conjuring tricks as a Hoffman or Maskelyne and Cook. Well, the latter gentlemen, and all the "Wizards of the North" as well, are invited to repeat if they can, even such juggling phenomena as the above, clad, or rather unclad, as such jugglers are, and under the canopy of the heavens, instead of the roof and ceiling of a hall or a theatre. They will never be able to do so. And why? Because these "jugglers" are not sleight of hand conjurors. They are regular and genuine psychologists, mesmerisers endowed with the most phenomenal powers, hitherto unknown to, and quite unpractised in Europe, save in a few exceptional cases. And with regard to this point, basing our questions on the logic of analogy, if such phenomenal powers of fascination as throwing glamour over audiences often numbering several hundreds and even thousands, are once proven to exist in simple professional jugglers, who can deny the same powers, only twenty times as strong, in trained adepts in Occultism? This is the future nut for the Society for Psychical Research to crack if it ever accepts Mr. Ellmore's testimony, which we doubt. But if it is accepted, what right will its members or the public have to doubt the claims made on behalf of great Yogis and learned adepts and "Mahatmas" to produce far more wonderful phenomena? The fact alone forsooth, that a whole audience sees a twine thrown into the air,1 the end of which seems fastened in the clouds, a boy climbing up it, a baby under a basket, and a mango-tree growing, when there is, in truth, neither twine nor boy, neither baby nor mango-tree may well give us the right to call it the greatest mental miracle possible; a "psychological trick" true enough. but one never to be rivalled, nor even approached by a physical phenomenon, however astounding. "It is only Hypnotism," you say. Then those who say so, do not know the difference between hypnotism, which, at best, is only a purely physiological manifestation even in the hands of the most powerful and learned experimenters, and real mesmerism, let alone mahamaya or even the gupta-maya of ancient and modern India. We defy all, and every one, from Charcot and Richet down to all the second rate hypnotizers, including the greatest physical mediums, to produce that with which Messrs. Ellmore and Lessing credit their "juggler."
To those who are incapable of appreciating the all-importance of that psycho-spiritual power in man which the Tribune calls so ignorantly and so foolishly "hypnotism," all we may say would be useless. We simply refuse to answer them. As to those others who will understand us, we say yes; it is glamour, fascination, psychology, call it what you will, but it is not "hypnotism." The latter is an aberration produced on several persons in turn by another person, through contact, through gazing at a bright spot or manipulation; but what is it in comparison with the collective and instantaneous fascination produced on hundreds by one passing gaze of the "juggler" (Vide supra), even though that gaze did "take in every man" "from sole to crown." No Theosophist who understands anything of Occultism, has ever explained such phenomena on any principle but that of magic-spell and fascination; and to claim for them anything else would amount to teaching supernaturalism and miracle; i.e., an impossibility in nature. There is a host of Theosophists in England alone, who would testify any day that they have been taught for now many years that physical phenomena in India are due to glamour and the psychological powers of the performers. Yet no one in the Theosophical Society ever thought of claiming for himself the discovery and explanation of the mango tree mystery, as it is a teaching known for long ages, and now once more taught to all who want to know.
Nevertheless, as said at the beginning of this article, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Ellmore and his friend, for their clever idea of applying to these tricks, the photographic test; as, no glamour (or, as the reporter makes Ellmore say, "hypnotism") could affect the camera. Moreover, both the young traveller and the Tribune reporter seem to have worked only for the Theosophical Society. Indeed, it is safe to prophesy that no one, including the Society for Psychical Research, will pay much attention to Mr. Ellmore's "discovery" since the latter, the erroneous name of hypnotism notwithstanding, is only a fact and a truth. Thus, it is the Theosophical Society alone which will benefit by having one more of its teachings corroborated by independent and undeniable evidence.2
Lucifer, September, 1890
H. P. Blavatsky
1 Vide "Isis Unveiled" 1, 73, 495, et seq.
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2 Additional corroboration of occult teaching is given
in a pamphlet entitled "Materialism, Agnosticism, and Theosophy"
issued by the Pacific Coast Committee for Theosophical
Works: "In connection with this very point (i.e.,
nebulæ), some three years ago, Madame Blavatsky, that bête
noire of both religion and science, declared that if scientists
could perfect instruments sufficiently powerful to penetrate these
nebulæ, they would perceive the falsity of this assumption
of the universal action of gravitation It passed without notice
. . . But quite recently a California scientist has most unexpectedly
confirmed this seemingly idle statement. One of the first results
of the inspection of the heavens through the great Lick telescope,
was the cautious announcement by Professor Holden that the arrangement
of matter in many of the nebulæ would seem to point directly
to the conclusion that some other force than gravitation was the