If any of us now-a-days ventures to relate
some weird experience or seemingly incomprehensible phenomenon,
two classes of objectors try to stop his mouth with the same gag.
The scientist cries "I have unravelled all Nature's skein,
and the thing is impossible; this is no age for miracles!"
The Hindu bigot says "This is the Kali Yug, the spiritual
night-time of humanity; miracles are no longer possible."
Thus the one from conceit, the other from ignorance reaches
the same conclusion, viz., that nothing that
smacks of the supernatural is possible in these latter days.
The Hindu, however, believes that miracles did once
occur, while the scientist does not. As for the
bigoted Christians, this is not a Kali Yug but if one
might judge by what they say a golden era of light, in
which the splendour of the Gospel is illuminating humanity and
pushing it onward towards greater intellectual triumphs.
And as they base all their faith upon miracles, they pretend
that miracles are being wrought now by God and the Virgin principally
the latter just as in ancient times. Our own views are
well-known we do not believe a "miracle" ever did occur
or ever will; we do believe that strange phenomena,
falsely styled miraculous, always did occur, are
occurring now, and will to the end of time; that
these are natural; and that when this fact filters into
the consciousness of materialistic skeptics, science will
go at leaps and bounds towards that ultimate Truth she
has so long been groping after. It is a wearisome and disheartening
experience to tell any one about the phenomena of the less familiar
side of nature. The smile of incredulity is too often followed
by the insulting challenge of one's veracity or the attempted
impugnment of one's character. An hundred impossible theories
will be broached to escape accepting the only right one.
Your brain must have been sur-excited, your nerves are
hallucinated, a "glamour" has been cast over
you. If the phenomenon has left behind a positive,
tangible, undeniable proof then comes the sceptic's last
resource confederacy, involving an amount of expenditure,
time and trouble totally incommensurate with the results to be
hoped for, and despite the absence of the least possible
If we lay down the proposition that everything is the result of
combined force and matter, science will approve;
but when we move on and say that we have seen phenomena and account
for them under this very law, this presumptuous science
having never seen your phenomenon denies both your premise and
conclusion, and falls to calling you harsh names.
So it all comes back to the question of personal credibility as
a witness, and the man of science, until some happy
accident forces the new fact upon his attention, is like
the child who screams at the veiled figure he takes for a ghost,
but which is only his nurse after all. If we but wait with
patience we shall see some day a majority of the professors coming
over to the side where Hare, De Morgan, Flammarion,
Crookes, Wallace, Zöllner, Weber,
Wagner, and Butlerof have ranged themselves, and
then, though "miracles" will be considered as
much an absurdity as now, yet occult phenomena will be
duly taken inside the domain of exact science and men will be
wiser. These circumscribing barriers are being vigorously
assaulted just now at St. Petersburg. A young girl-medium
is "shocking" all the wiseacres of the University.
For years mediumship seemed to be represented in the Russian metropolis
but by American, English and French mediums on flying visits,
with great pecuniary pretensions and, except Dr.
Slade, the New York medium, with powers already
waning. Very naturally the representatives of science found
a good pretext to decline. But now all excuses are futile.
Not far from Petersburg, in a small hamlet inhabited by
three families of German colonists, a few years ago a widow,
named Margaret Beetch, took a little girl from the House
of Foundlings into her service. The little Pelagueya was
liked in the family from the first for her sweet disposition,
her hard-working zeal, and her great truthfulness.
She found herself exceedingly happy in her new home, and
for several years no one ever had a cross word for her.
Pelagueya finally became a good-looking lass of seventeen,
but her temper never changed. She loved her masters fondly
and was beloved in the house. Notwithstanding her good
looks and sympathetic person, no village lad ever thought
of offering himself as a husband. The young men said she
"awed" them. They looked upon her as people look
in those regions upon the image of a saint. So at least
say the Russian papers and the Police Gazette from which
we quote the report of the District Police Officer sent to investigate
certain facts of diablerie. For this innocent young
creature has just become the victim of "the weird doings
of some incomprehensible, invisible agency," says the report.
November 3, 1880, accompanied by a farm-servant,
she descended into the cellar under the house to get some potatoes.
Hardly had they opened the heavy door, when they found
themselves pelted with the vegetable. Believing some neighbor's
boy must have hidden himself on the wide shelf on which the potatoes
were heaped, Pelagueya, placing the basket upon
her head, laughingly remarked, "whoever you
are, fill it with potatoes and so help me!" In an
instant the basket was filled to the brim. Then the other
girl tried the same, but the potatoes remained motionless.
Climbing upon the shelf, to their amazement the girls found
no one there. Having notified the widow Beetch of the strange
occurrence, the latter went herself, and unlocking
the cellar which had been securely locked by the two maids on
leaving, found no one concealed in it. This event
was but the precursor of a series of others. During a period
of three weeks they succeeded each other with such a rapidity
that if we were to translate the entire official Report it might
fill this whole issue of the Theosophist. We will
cite but a few.
From the moment she left the cellar the invisible "power"
which had filled her basket with potatoes, began to assert
its presence incessantly, and in the most varied ways.
Does Pelagueya Nikolaef prepare to lay wood in the oven the billets
rise in the air and like living things jump upon the fire-place;
hardly does she apply a match to them when they blaze already
as if fanned by an invisible hand. When she approaches
the well, the water begins rising, and soon overflowing
the sides of the cistern runs in torrents to her feet;
does she happen to pass near a bucket of water the same thing
happens. Hardly does the girl stretch out her hand to reach
from the shelf some needed piece of crockery, than the
whole of the earthenware, cups, tureens and plates,
as if snatched from their places by a whirlwind, begin
to jump and tremble, and then fall with a crash at her
feet. No sooner does an invalid neighbor place herself
for a moment's rest on the girl's bed, than the heavy bedstead
is seen levitating towards the very ceiling, then turns
upside down and tosses off the impertinent intruder; after
which it quietly resumes its former position. One day,
having gone to the shed to do her usual evening work of feeding
the cattle, Pelagueya, after performing her duty,
was preparing to leave it with two other servants, when
the most extraordinary scene took place. All the cows and
pigs seemed to become suddenly possessed. The former,
frightening the whole village with the most infuriating bellowing,
tried to climb up the mangers, while the latter knocked
their heads against the walls, running round as if pursued
by some wild animal. Pitchforks, shovels,
benches and feeding trough, snatching away from their places,
pursued the terrified girls, who escaped within an inch
of their lives by violently shutting and locking the door of the
stables. But, as soon as this was done every noise
ceased inside as if by magic.
All such phenomena took place not in darkness or during night,
but in the daytime, and in the full view of the inhabitants
of the little hamlet; moreover, they were always
preceded by an extraordinary noise, as if of a howling
wind, a cracking in the walls, and raps in the window-frames
and glass. A real panic got hold of the household and the
inhabitants of the hamlet, which went on increasing at
every new manifestation. A priest was called of course as
though priests knew anything of magnetism! but with no good results:
a couple of pots danced a jig on the shelf, an oven-fork
went stamping and jumping on the floor, and a heavy sewing-machine
followed suit. The news about the young witch and her struggle
with the invisible imps ran round the whole district. Men
and women from neighboring villages flocked to see the marvels.
The same phenomena, often intensified, took place
in their presence. Once when a crowd of men upon entering,
placed their caps upon the table, every one of these jumped
from it to the floor, and a heavy leather glove,
circling round, struck its owner a pretty sound thump on
his face and rejoined the fallen caps. Finally,
notwithstanding the real affection the widow Beetch felt for the
poor orphan, towards the beginning of December,
Pelagueya and her boxes were placed upon a cart, and after
many a tear and warm expression of regret, she was sent
off to the Superintendent of the Foundling Hospital the Institution
in which she was brought up. This gentleman, returning
with the girl on the following day, was made a witness
to the pranks of the same force, called in the Police,
and, after a careful inquest, had a proces verbal
signed by the authorities, and departed.
This case having been narrated to a spiritist, a rich nobleman
residing at St. Petersburg, the latter betook himself
immediately after the young girl and carried her away with him
The above officially-noted facts are being reprinted in every
Russian daily organ of note. The prologue finished,
we are put in a position to follow the subsequent development
of the power in this wonderful medium, as we find them
commented upon in all the serious and arch-official papers of
"A new star on the horizon of spiritism has suddenly appeared
at St. Petersburg one Mlle. Pelagueya" thus
speaketh an editorial in the Novoye Vremya, January
1, 1881 "The manifestations which have taken place
in her presence are so extraordinary and powerful that more than
one devout spiritualist seems to have been upset by them literally
and by the agency of a heavy table." "But,"
adds the paper, "the spiritual victims do not seem
to have felt in the least annoyed by such striking proofs.
On the contrary, hardly had they picked themselves up from
the floor (one of them before being able to resume his perpendicular
position had to crawl out from beneath a sofa whither he had been
launched by a heavy table) than, forgetting their bruises,
they proceeded to embrace each other in rapturous joy,
and with eyes overflowing with tears, congratulate each
other upon this new manifestation of the mysterious force."
In the St.Petersburg Gazette, a merry reporter
gives the following details: "Miss Pelagueya is a
young girl of about nineteen, the daughter of poor but
dishonest parents (who had thrust her in the Foundling Hospital,
as given above), not very pretty, but with a sympathetic
face, very uneducated but intelligent, small in
stature but kind at heart, well-proportioned but nervous.
Miss Pelagueya has suddenly manifested most wonderful mediumistic
faculties. She is a 'first class Spiritistic Star' as they
call her. And, indeed, the young lady seems
to have concentrated in her extremities a phenomenal abundance
of magnetic aura; thanks to which, she communicates
instantaneously to the objects surrounding her hitherto unheard
and unseen phenomenal motions. About five days ago,
at a séance at which were present the most noted spiritualists
and mediums of the St. Petersburg grand monde,1
occurred the following. Having placed themselves with
Pelagueya around a table, they (the spiritists) had barely
time to sit down, when each of them received what seemed
an electric shock. Suddenly, the table violently
upset chairs and all, scattering the enthusiastic company
to quite a respectable distance. The medium found herself
on the floor with the rest, and her chair began to perform
a series of such wonderful aërial jumps that the terrified
spiritists had to take to their heels and left the room in a hurry."
Most opportunely, while the above case is under consideration,
there comes from America the account of a lad whose system appears
to be also abnormally charged with vital magnetism. The
report, which is from the Catholic Mirror, says
that the boy is the son of a Mr. and Mrs. John C.
Collins, of St. Paul, in the state of Minnesota.
His age is ten years and it is only recently that the magnetic
condition has developed itself a curious circumstance to be noted.
Intellectually he is bright, his health is perfect,
and he enters with zest into all boyish sports. His left
hand has become "a wonderfully strong magnet.
Metal articles of light weight attach themselves to his hand so
that considerable force is required to remove them. Knives,
pins, needles, buttons, etc., enough
to cover his hand, will thus attach themselves so firmly
that they cannot be shaken off. Still more, the
attraction is so strong that a common coalscuttle can be lifted
by it, and heavier implements have been lifted by stronger
persons taking hold of his arm. With heavy articles,
however, the boy complains of sharp pains darting along
his arm. In a lesser degree his left arm and the whole
left side of his body exerts the same power, but it is
not at all manifest on his right side."
The only man who has thrown any great light upon the natural and
abnormal magnetic conditions of the human body is the late Baron
von Reichenbach of Vienna, a renowned chemist and the discoverer
of a new force which is called Odyle. His experiments
lasted more than five years, and neither expense,
time nor trouble were grudged to make them conclusive.
Physiologists had long observed, especially among hospital
patients, that a large proportion of human beings can sensibly
feel a peculiar influence, or aura, proceeding from
the magnet when downward passes are made along their persons but
without touching them. And it was also observed that in
such diseases as St. Vitus's dance (chorea), and
various forms of paralysis, hysteria, &c.,
the patients showed this sensitiveness in a peculiar degree.
But though the great Berzelius and other authorities in science
had urged that men of science should investigate it, yet
this most important field of research had been left almost untrodden
until Baron Reichenbach undertook his great task. His discoveries
were so important that they can only be fully appreciated by a
careful reading of his book, Researches on Magnetism,
Electricity, Heat, Light, Crystallization,
and Chemical Attraction, in their relations to the Vital
Force; unfortunately out of print, but of which
copies may be occasionally procured in London, second-hand.
For the immediate purpose in view, it needs only be said
that he proves that the body of man is filled with an aura,
"dynamide," "fluid," vapour,
influence or whatever we may choose to call it; that it
is alike in both sexes; that it is specially given off
at the head, hands, and feet; that,
like the aura from the magnet, it is polar; that
the whole left side is positive, and imparts a sensation
of warmth to a sensitive to whom we may apply our left hand,
while the whole right side of the body is negative, and
imparts a feeling of coolness. In some individuals this
vital magnetic (or, as he calls it, Odylic) force
is intensely strong. Thus, we may fearlessly consider
and believe any phenomenal case such as the two above-quoted without
fear of outstepping the limits of exact science, or of
being open to the charge of superstition or credulity.
It must at the same time be noted that Baron Reichenbach did not
find one patient whose aura either deflected a suspended magnetic
needle, or attracted iron objects like lodestone.
His researches, therefore, do not cover the whole
ground; and of this he was himself fully aware.
Persons magnetically surcharged, like the Russian girl
and the American boy, are now and then encountered,
and among the class of mediums there have been a few famous ones.
Thus, the medium Slade's finger, when passed either
way over a compass, will attract the needle after it to
any extent. The experiment was tried by Professors Zöllner
and W. Weber (Professor of Physics, founder of the
doctrine of Vibration of Forces) at Leipzig. Professor
Weber "placed on the table a compass, enclosed in
glass, the needle of which we could all observe very distinctly
by the bright candlelight, while we had our hands joined
with those of Slade" which were over a foot distant from
the compass. So great was the magnetic aura discharging
from Slade's hands, however, that "after about
five minutes the needle began to swing violently in arcs of from
40° to 60° till at length it several times turned completely
round." At a subsequent trial, Professor Weber
succeeded in having a common knitting-needle, tested with
the compass just before the experiment and found wholly unmagnetized,
converted into a permanent magnet. "Slade laid this
needle upon a slate, held the latter under the table .
. . and in about four minutes, when the slate
with the knitting-needle was laid again upon the table,
the needle was so strongly magnetised at one end (and only
at one end) that iron shavings and sewing-needles stuck to
this end; the needle of the compass could be easily drawn
round in a circle. The originated pole was a south pole,
inasmuch as the north pole of the (compass) needle was attracted,
the south pole repelled."2
Baron Reichenbach's first branch of inquiry was that of the effect
of the magnet upon animal nerve; after which he proceeded
to observe the effect upon the latter of a similar aura or power
found by him to exist in crystals. Not to enter into details all
of which, however, should be read by every one pretending
to investigate Asyan science his conclusion he sums up as follows:
"With the magnetic force, as we are acquainted with
it in the lodestone and the magnetic needle, that force
("Odyle" the new force he discovered) is associated,
with which, in crystals, we have become acquainted."
Hence: "The force of the magnet is not,
as has been hitherto taken for granted, one single
force, but consists of two, since, to
that long known, a new hitherto unknown, and decidedly
distinct one, must be added, the force, namely,
which resides in crystals." One of his patients
was a Mlle. Nowotny, and her sensitiveness to the
auras of the magnet and crystal was phenomenally acute.
When a magnet was held near her hand. it was irresistibly
attracted to follow the magnet wherever the Baron moved it.
The effect upon her hand "was the same as if some one had
seized her hand, and by means of this drawn or bent her
body towards her feet." (She was lying in bed,
sick, and the magnet was moved in that direction.)
When approached close to her hand "the hand adhered so firmly
to it, that when the magnet was raised, or moved
sidewards, backwards, or in any direction whatever,
her hands stuck to it, as if attached in the way in
which a piece of iron would have been." This,
we see, is the exact reverse of the phenomenon in the American
boy Collins' case, for, instead of his hand being
attracted to anything, iron objects, light and heavy,
seem attracted irresistibly to his hand, and only his
left hand. Reichenbach naturally thought of testing
Mlle. Nowotny's magnetic condition. He says:
"To try this, I took filings of iron, and brought
her finger over them. Not the smallest particle adhered
to the finger, even when it had just been in contact
with the magnet. . . . A magnetic needle finely suspended,
to the poles of which I caused her to approach her finger alternately,
and in different positions, did not exhibit the slightest
tendency to deviation or oscillation."
Did space permit, this most interesting analysis of the
accumulated facts respecting the occasional abnormal magnetic
surcharge of human beings might be greatly prolonged without fatiguing
the intelligent reader. But we may at once say that since
Reichenbach3 proves magnetism to be a compound
of a simple force, and that every human being is charged
with one of these forces, Odyle; and since the Slade
experiments, and the phenomena of Russia and St.
Paul, show that the human body does also at times discharge
the true magnetic aura, such as is found in the lodestone;
therefore the explanation is that in these latter abnormal cases
the individual has simply evolved an excess of the one instead
of the other of the forces which together form what is commonly
known as magnetism. There is, therefore,
nothing whatever of supernatural in the cases. Why
this happens is, we conceive, quite capable of explanation,
but as this would take us too far afield in the less commonly
known region of occult science it had better be passed over for
Theosophist, April, 1881
H. P. Blavatsky
1We seriously doubt whether there ever will be more
than there are now believers in Spiritualism among the middle
and lower classes of Russia. These are too sincerely devout,
and believe too fervently in the devil to have any faith in "spirits."
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2 Transcendental Physics, p. 47.
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3 Reichenbach. op. cit.,
pp. 25, 46, 210.
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