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THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY

An independent quarterly journal founded in 1985 London England

April 1985
CONTENTS
Vol. 1 No. 2

Editorial:
After a hundred years


18
Krishnamurti and Blavatsky

Jean Overton Fuller

20
S.P.R. Archives:
Astral Bells in Notting Hill
 

 



25
Theosophical History Centre  

36

AFTER A HUNDRED YEARS

With 1985, we reach the centenary of the Final report of the Committee appointed by the Society for Psychical Research, to investigate phenomena connected with the Theosophical Society. The thoughts of many students will naturally turn to that report. We marked the occasion by beginning the publication of the surviving archival material of the SPR relevant to the case (elsewhere in this issue for the second document.) Those who follow theosophical history will know that the many Theosophical criticisms of the 1885 report made over the decades have been joined in recent months by new work reassessing the case. The SPR itself is considering the issue of a part of Proceedings devoted to the question, with papers by several authors. These papers must pass the academic refereeing customary in science, and it may also be necessary for the publication to be grant-aided in some way since the SPR cannot longer pay for such publications alone. (Money from Theosophical sources cannot be used to avoid charges of partiality).

The attitude of psychical researchers to the Blavatsky case is more open today than it was when most of the "establishment" in the subject associated itself with the 1885 report. The SPR itself has of course no collective view and the furthest it has gone is to remind "Time" magazine of this fact, in a letter by its Hon. Secretary John Cutten in 1968 that was not published by "Time" but made available to Theosophists. We understand that to mark the centenary an attempt was made by the veteran Theosophical historian Walter Carrithers to get the 1885 report withdrawn, and a statement issued by the SPR, but the SPR demurred, fearing that to withdraw one report (which represents - the views of its authors only) would lead to similar requests about other reports of a controversial nature. The way is open however for papers that discuss the case to be submitted to SPR publications and conferences (there was such a paper by Leslie Price at the [19] 1984 Oxford conference.)

Some SPR members still take the negative view of Madame Blavatsky, as is perhaps inevitable in a learned society on a disputed issue; and the SPR is tied by its own constitution from making definitive pronouncements. It is significant however that Dr John Beloff has written to me, in a letter of 10 September 1984 that I have permission to quote "I am now persuaded that a grave injustice may have been committed with the publication of the Hodgson Report and, if, after a hundred years this could be rectified I would be glad to help." The views of the present editor of the SPR Journal and Proceedings, while not necessarily shared by anyone else, may be helpful in persuading others that the conclusions of the 1885 report should not be automatically accepted.

1984 was the centenary of the Coulomb accusations against H.P.B. "The Theosophist" marked this by a valuable examination of the case, by Michael Gomes (Dec. 1984; Jan. & Feb 1985.) It would have been easy for Mrs Burnier the editor to have ignored the matter. Some Theosophists doubt the value of history in general; many find references to old accusations against pioneers painful, destructive, distracting and likely to put off new enquirers. The situation is analogous to that in Christian bodies when scholars question the received tradition.

In a Society however whose motto is "There is no religion higher than truth", historical aspects cannot be ignored. H.P.B. herself, from "Isis Unveiled" on, gave repeated attention to history. When she wrote on church development, she did not wish to distress individual Christians. Nor do we wish to hurt any fellow Theosophists. The path to spiritual maturity may some times include a new perspective on historical events.

LESLIE PRICE

[20]

KRISHNAMURTI AND BLAVATSKY

This article rises out of a correspondence. In connection with the biography of Madame Blavatsky I have just finished writing, Mr. Leslie Price and I had been exchanging letters, when he wrote to me, "One of the problems associated with the Mahatmas, and on which I would welcome your views, is what happened to the Brotherhood in question? They may have disintegrated or splintered; or they may have found the T.S. unworthy of further attention and broken with it".

I replied, "I am sure the Masters are still with us. At a certain moment, plainly, they decided to desist from giving evidence of themselves as Mahatmas, either by precipitating letters or appearing in propria persona. They must have seen from the world's reaction that this did no good... As regards the T.S., my belief is that it ceased to be regarded by the Masters as the spearhead of their work from the moment Krishnamurti left it. Contrary to what some declare, he has never denied the Masters. What he saw as repellent was the striving for advancement in initiations, the vulgarity in the idea of seeking to become a Master, i.e. better than other people, the liability to deception, also, that comes from reliance upon information given upon authority, in some cases specious, I am sure they still support him, but, in conformity with his way of doing things, just stepped back a little, out of visibility."

Mary Lutyens quotes a letter written by Krishnamurti to her mother in 1934, "I have never denied being the W.T. (World Teacher). You know, mum, I have never denied it. I have only said that it does not matter who or what I am..." (1) The point is, that if the listener does not see something that is being said as true, the speaker's telling him he is the World Teacher will not convince him. To assert spiritual authority or status does a kind of violence to relationship. Either the claim is rejected, or, if it is accepted, the other is reduced to a state of stunned suspension [21] of his own faculties, in which he merely gapes, and accepts things said because of who it is that says them, sometimes merely echoing phrases verbally, without seeing what the speaker is meaning. Thus there is no relationship, and so no communion. If the speaker does not claim to be anybody in particular, then his words have only the weight of the natural sense in them, the listener is not stunned and so his faculties have a better chance to work. As one reads through Krishnamurti's talks from the beginning, one notices that when listeners have put questions about Masters, he has met them with questions to the questioner, such as why does he want to meet a Master? To become a Master? What does he think a Master is? Has he the idea of obtaining some power, some superiority to others? So, the questioner is made to look at the motivation of his question. Krishnamurti has never made a secret of his attraction to the Buddha. He has sometimes spoken of "otherness", meaning a presence, not his own, sensed suddenly in the room. He mentioned to a friend once, waking with the feeling the room was full of "eminent holy beings." (2) He admits their existence, then, but avoids stressing it, because he does not want to create an image of authority. Also, he does not like the idea of a measurable progress from the past towards the future, steps to spirituality, occupying time, gradualness.

Sometimes he destroys Theosophical imagery. One of his earliest writings was called 'The Path', in which it was very graphically imaged. Now he says there is no path. "Truth is a pathless land" . The path is a very ancient image. In The Voice of the Silence, Blavatsky's rendering of certain stanzas inscribed on tablets in the temple of the monastery of Trashi Lhunpo, there is continual talk of paths. Yet his dismissal of the image should not shock. Nobody ever imagined there was some physical path which had to be found and followed. Krishnamurti now drops this image probably because it implies the idea of gradualness, progress [22] from one stage to another, measure and method. All these things are, to him, unreal - in relation to spiritual understanding, that is, for they have real application to the acquirement of skills, such as to learn a foreign language, drive a car or play a piano. Here, accumulation of experience, and practice, have their place. The concept of method, of procedure, however, breaks down when applied to what is spiritual. There is no method by which one gradually prepares oneself to understanding something. One understands something or one does not. It is a matter of seeing. One does not see... then suddenly one sees. It happens in the present.

All one can do to help this happen is remove what is preventing it. One will not see if one's view is blocked by cumber. Hence his insistence upon the negative approach. One cannot say, "I will make myself more spiritual. I will develop vision". But one can see what is false in one's life, in one's relationships, in one's ostentatious motivations. The perception of a falsity is the perception of a truth. When the false is seen as false, the seeing is the seeing of truth. A word of caution is needed here; he does not mean retrospection. Going back into the past, to analyse it, separates one from the present, and it is only in the present one can act. What he refers to is the catching of the motivation on the wing. Clarity comes as an explosion. The seeing is action.

One cannot build towards it. There is no road to it.

Explaining his negative approach in one of his talks given in India, where the heat can be stifling, he said, "One cannot invite the breeze - but one can leave the window open".

And clean, of course.

Mr. Price, when he came to see me, said, "But Krishnamurti and Blavatsky don't say exactly the same things..."

[23]

They do not say things which put what each other says out of court. The things they set out for one to think are different but are not mutually preclusive. Madame Blavatsky, with her Cancerian Ascendant, loved the past, with its glamour and mystery. When stating a truth, she liked to tee able to support it with the citation of some ancient text. Her mind had the Cancerian fecundity in poetic images. She had the Cancerian love of magic. Krishnamurti never mentions her writings. Most likely he has never read them. They would not hold anything for him. When he reads, it tends to be for entertainment. This is probably because, as regards deep things, he prefers to keep his mind fresh, unencumbered by traditions of the past.

Truth may be one, but the manner of affording glimpses into it can be coloured by personality, and wherever a revelation comes from, there is a relation between its expression and the revealer. Krishnamurti's Ascendant is Aquarian. Aquarius is the water- carrier not water. Cancer is a water sign. Aquarius is an air sign. Cancer feels for mystery. Aquarius likes clarity. It is the sign of electricity and the lightening flash. Of all the signs, it has the least interest in tradition.

Signs in opposition in the zodiac tend to have something in common, because they deal in the same terms, from opposite points of view. With dancing partners, one goes back as the other goes forward 9 yet they are dancing together. Hence, astrologers have said the most awkward aspect is not the Opposition (180 degrees) but the Inconjunct (150). Signs in Inconjunct seem to have non- relationships. They form neither a harmony, disharmony nor yet, polarisation. Now, all of the twelve signs of the circle must be related in some way, but where the Inconjunct is concerned, a little more attention may be required in order to modulate from one key into the other. There is certainly a modulation that needs to be made from The Secret Doctrine to the Krishnamurti talks.

[24]

The late Mrs. Hilda Jaffa of the Astrological Lodge did a statistic on window-cleaners, and found the sign that came up most often in their horoscopes was Aquarius. She supposed it was because they spent so much of their lives high up, in the open air, also because windows are things one sees through.

Krishnamurti is a window-cleaner.

Jean Overton Fuller

(1) Krishnamurti, the Years of Fulfillment, Mary Lutyens, (Murrey, 1983), p. 30

(2) Ibid., p. 180

Jean Overton Fuller's biography of the Comte de Saint-Germain should be published later this year. Her biography of Madame Blavatsky, with special reference to the Tibetan connection of HPB, is expected in 1986. She is believed to be the first of HPB's many biographers to use the SPR archives. Her book " Francis Bacon—a biography" was produced by East-West Publications in 1981.

_______________________________

Mr Michael Gomes passed through London at Easter, en route for New York from Adyar, where he had been studying early Theosophical material. He is a specialist in the beginnings of American theosophy, on which he has an extensive library. While here, he worked in the archives of the SPR, TS, Harry Price Library (Senate House) and the British Library, both Gt. Russell St. and Colindale, among others. We hope to publish some of the fruits of his researches in the years ahead.

[25]

ASTRAL BELLS IN NOTTING HILL

Introduction

In the last issue, we saw how Mr Stack, a member of the SPR Committee investigating Theosophical phenomena in 1884, saw the draft of the Committee's preliminary report, and suggested that references in it to Madame Blavatsky producing a bell sound should be deleted. (Stack memo. para. 5.) Professor Sidgwick agreed, end we must presume that the Committee endorsed this omission. However the references did survive in the printer's proof of the report in the SPR archives, where they were discovered 80 years later by the doyen of Theosophical historians, Mr Walter Carrithers when he obtained a microfilm of the Blavatsky file.

Let us therefore reproduce the original Appendix XX, so far as it was deleted from the preliminary report. The published report did retain a testimony from a lady (unnamed) who had heard the bell sound, but not the record of what the men had heard!

L.P.

APPENDIX XX

_______________

BELL SOUND

Westward Ho, N. Devon, September 23rd, 1884.

Dear Mr. Myers,—The following is what I observed of the phenomenon of the "Astral Bells" when we were visiting Madame Blavatsky in her apartments in Notting Hill, on Saturdays, July 26th ult.

We were all engaged in earnest conversation relative to Koot Hoomi. Some of the visitors present had ventured to criticise his literary and scientific abilities, and Madame Blavatsky was vehemently defending her Mahatma, when I heard one, or it may have been two, deep sonorous tones. Not expecting anything in particular, I hastily put it down to some very musical-toned clock in another room striking, and was not thinking of mentioning anything [26] about it, when someone else of us visitors remarked, "Did we not hear some chime?" Another visitor said, "Oh, it was only the clock striking the half-hour." Miss A. then pointed out that it wanted a minute or so to the half- hour (12.30 p.m.) by the clock on the mantlepiece in the room, and that it would strike in a minute, and we would notice the tones were very different. Madame B. (I think it was) said, "It was the Mahatma, and she had heard him speaking." Then the clock in the room struck, and we noticed the difference of sound, as different to the former as a chapel bell to Big Ben, of Westminster. We then resumed our conversation, and a few minutes after, Madame B. suddenly stopped her conversation, and - looking upwards, fixed her face and gaze for a minute. This fixed and focused the attention of all the rest of us; it may be thereby causing a sort of expectant attention amongst us, which seems to favour any manifestation from the metaphysical world.

(On the former occasion, personally, I had no expectant attention.) Certainly now the tones of the bells were unmistakable, coming out distinct and slowly, in two or three notes, as if from a musical instrument of very sonorous vibrations. They seemed soft, yet clear, and to my hearing to be sounding from up in the air, and from the spot on which Madame B.'s eyes were fixed, some five or six feet from her.

I cannot say I have heard the same, or even exactly similar sounds at any seance I have been to, but my experience of seances for the so-called "physical" manifestations is not very extensive. But on the other hand I have experienced at seances phenomena such as the direct voice and tinkling bells, materialised from the unseen or brought through locked doors from another room, and tinkled about our heads; and such phenomena I consider for me to be enough to allow me to give credence to the numerous accounts of musical tones being produced in the daylight, as recorded passim in the periodical and other literature of American and English Spiritualists [27] (vide the accounts of Jesse Shepherd, for instance).

F. W. THURSTAN

On Saturday morning, July 5th, 1884, I paid a visit to Madame Blavatsky, at 77 Elgin Crescent, W., in company with Mr. Myers and Professor Barrett. We were sitting in a brightly-lighted room, Madame Blavatsky being in an arm- chair, completely in view without any table in front of her. The only other person in the room was Colonel Olcott. In the middle of the conversation the attention of Mr. Myers and myself was caught by a very distinct, sweet musical sound, resembling somewhat the sound which can be made with the nail of a finger against a finger-glass, but differing in that there was less sharpness of "attack". The sound, as I perceived immediately on its occurrence, had been synchronous with a gentle forward movement of Madame Blavatsky's right hand—a gesture similar to a gentle "mesmeric" pass. The sound was not loud; it was soft enough to fail in attracting the attention of Professor Barrett, who was engaged at the moment in eager conversation with Colonel Olcott, and was further from Madame Blavatsky then Mr. Myers and myself. Professor Barrett heard the sound, however, when it was repeated (as it immediately was) for his satisfaction. He also heard it (after Mr. Myers and I had left). It was noticeably a free sound, such as could not be produced by any object whose vibrations were in any way damped or checked. I should say, for instance, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for such a sound to be produced by any mechanical arrangement concealed in a dress or up a sleeve.

On Saturday morning, July 26th, 1884, the phenomenon recurred. Besides Madame Blavatsky, Mr. Myers and myself, there were present Mrs. and Miss A., Mr. Thurstan, Mr. Ionides, Mr. Mohini, and Mr. Keightley. We were seated round the table, and animated conversation-was proceeding, when suddenly I heard the same musical note. There was a clock ticking in the room, [28] and for an instant I remained unimpressed, assuming that the sound was the striking of the half-hour after eleven; but when others exclaimed, and when I saw Madame Blavatsky wake up (so to speak) from a few seconds of recueillement, I looked at the clock, and found that the time for striking had not yet arrived. I then at once perceived the identity of this sound with the previous ones. The half-hour struck two or three minutes afterwards, and the sound then was markedly different-poor and clacky in comparison. On this occasion, Madame Blavatsky connected the phenomenon with an impression or message conveyed to her by Mahatma Koot Hoomi, relative to the conversation which had been going on, and of which he had been the subject. The sound was repeated after a few minutes' interval.

EDMUND GURNEY.

My recollection as to the two interviews agrees with Mr. Gurney's and Mr. Thurstan's. Of the two independent accounts of the second interview, Mr. Thurstan's is on two points more precisely in accordance with what I remember:—

(1) The clock struck, I should say less than a minute after the bell sounded. I watched it till it struck, in order to be quite certain as to its not having struck when we heard the bell. The "bell" might have been compared to the sound of a hammer striking a peculiarly sweet gong, such as is sometimes placed in ornamental clocks. But the clock in question does not strike on a gong.

(2) As to the second bell on July 26th, Mr. Thurstan's account seems to me the more precise. Mr. Gurney, I think, was speaking at the time, but Mr. Thurstan and I, who were at opposite sides of the table, instantly exchanged first looks and then words, and found that we had heard it simultaneously, and local[29]ised it in precisely the same tract of air, over the middle of the table. I will add one or two remarks as to the freedom and the localisation of the sound.

(3) I have experimented with the conjurer's trick called "Is your watch a repeater?" and have of course heard repeating watches, in and out of waistcoat or other pockets. I think that in all cases there is something of deadened quality when the origin of the sound is concealed about the person. I was alive to this point, and I could not discern any deadening in the clear tingling sound of the bell.

(4) Again, as to localisation. The localisation of sound is a proverbially uncertain thing. But in each of these cases the persons who heard the sounds did all of them, as I understood, though Mr. Thurstan's evidence is not quite clear on the point, localise those sounds in the same places. In the case of the bell, which we were inclined to refer to the clock, it is noticeable that the clock was behind and above Madame B., nearly in the place where a human being might have spoken had he been behind her and wishing to address her specially. When the second sound came on July 26th which was in response to a request of my own, it did not appear to anyone to proceed from the direction of the clock, but, as already said, from the centre of the table in front of me. Madame B. made no observable movement before either of these bells of July 26th, though she started and looked preoccupied after the first of the two.

FREDERIC W. H. MYERS

Many questions arise from this account. The gap between the event and Mr Thurstan's account, and the absence of any date for Myers' and Gurney's account (Myers cannot have written the final version of his account before Thurstan) is not very satisfactory. It would be interesting to know what Professor Barrett [30] thought, especially in the light of a Theosophical tradition that he had misgivings later about the Hodgson report (The Theosophist XLVII (1) p. 5.)

The reference to a "repeater" is not entirely in harmony with Mr Hodgson's comments in the final report. To quote from p. 263 of the Hodgson Report;

L.P.

"Mr. Sinnett treats with scorn the supposition that Madame Blavatsky could have produced either the "raps" or the "astral bells" by means of any machine concealed about her person; but I cannot help thinking that the latter sounds at least might have been produced in this way. Madame Coulomb asserts that they were actually so produced, by the use of a small musical-box constructed on the same principle as the machine employed in connection with the trick known under the name "Is your watch a repeater?" and she produced garments which she asserted had belonged to Madame Blavatsky, and showed me stains resembling iron-mould on the right side, slightly above the waist, which she affirmed had been caused by contact with the metal of the machine. She declared also that the machine was sometimes carried by Babula, on the roof or in the various rooms of the house or outside, and when used by Madame Blavatsky herself was worked by a slight pressure of the arm against the side, which would have been imperceptible to the persons present. I think the "astral bells" may be thus accounted for, and I must remind the reader of an important consideration which Mr. Sinnett seems to have overlooked—namely, the great uncertainty in all localisation of sounds of which the cause and mode of production are unknown, especially pure tones such as he describes the "astral bell" sound to be, and the great ease of inducing by trifling indications the adoption of an altogether erroneous opinion concerning the position where the sonorous disturbance originates. Further, we may suppose, without any extravagance of hypothesis, that Madame Blavatsky may possess more that one of these machines alluded [31] to, so that the sounds may be heard in different places at the same time. Yet the possibility that if Madame Blavatsky had one such machine she might have had two does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Sinnett, if I may judge from his argument on p. 41." (Of "The Occult World"—L.P.)

I was asked recently if I had ever seen a "Repeater", and like most researchers I have not. Can our readers help? It is unfortunate that Madame Coloumb, although claiming that a similar device was used, was not able to produce one for Hodgson. We can imagine 9 however, how defenders of HPB would have pointed to Myers' comments on the repeater, and tried to drive a wedge between him and Hodgson on this point. But that bit was edited out of the preliminary report, let alone the final report.

It is only fair to add Madame Blavatsky's reply to Hodgson's suggestion. It can be found in "The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett" (London, 1925) . 141-2.

"To close: An undergarment was shown to Hodgson (a chemise in plain words) with stains from metal on its right side. The dobi (washer) can testify and Babula and perhaps Miss Arundale, and I can show all my old chemises so stained and eaten by rust to holes. In India where I wore no dresses with pockets, but light muslim wrappers, I used to stick my keys on the right side between my chemise and petticoat. Many a time Mme. Coulomb 9 who had charge of my linen told me I was ruining my clothes with that habit. But I went on and now she shows to Mr. Hodgson an "undergarment" with such stains and explains to him the stains as having been caused by a metallic musicalbox which rung when pressed with the elbow producing the "astral bells." And Mr. Hodgson, the scientific expert; swallows it and publishes it!

Reference to Miss Arundale in the above quotation [32] reminds us that this lady (whom I confused with her mother in the previous issue of TH 9 page 5) also gave en account of the bell phenomenon. It appeared in her essay "Madame Blavatsky and her work" in the volume "HPB In Memory of Helene Petrovna Blavatsky" by Some of her Pupils (London 1891.), a volume incidentally that would greatly merit a reprint. (p.69-70) Miss Arundale speaks of HPB at home to visitors in Elgin Crescent in 1884.

"Many, of course, drawn by the fame of her great powers, merely came from curiosity. In those days the Psychical Research Society had not issued its famous report, and some of its members were often present, seeking the signs and wonders they - so much desired to behold.

One afternoon a small party had assembled in the back drawing- room and among them some prominent members of the S.P.R. Madame Blavatsky was earnestly solicited to produce some phenomena. She laughingly answered, as she so often did to similar requests, "What do you want with phenomena? they are but psychological tricks and of little value to earnest students". However, she at length consented to try if she could do anything, and sitting among the others round a large table, she joined in conversation, and talk flowed on for a short time in the easy way it always did when she was surrounded with intellectual minds. In a very little while a strikingly sweet and crystal-like sound known as the astral bell made itself heard, and was repeated several times, to the great delight and pleasure of those who had never heard it before. The gentlemen present belonging to the S.P.R. professed themselves more than satisfied, remarking more than once that there could be no doubt as to the genuineness of that phenomenon. I might multiply instance after instance of phenomena, but knowing the value that Madame Blavatsky herself put upon these things, it would be a poor tribute to her memory to put that forward which is but the least pert of her work. But the Psychic Society Researchers and phenomena bunters and [33] those who only came to see and wonder, were but one portion of the great crowd. Many earnest minds engaged in scientific or philosophic study would come again and again, attracted by the power of an intellect that showed its vast strength in the way in which she dealt with the many subjects put before her.

Grave professors from Cambridge came and spent an occasional afternoon in her company, and I can see before me now the bulky form in the loose robe in the big armchair, with the tobacco basket by her side, answering deep and learned questions on theories of cosmogony and the laws governing matter, while twisting the little cigarettes which she constantly smoked herself and gave to her guests."

About 1918, Miss Arundale wrote another account of those days which appeared in book form as "My Guest - H.P. Blavatsky" (Adyar, T.P.H., 1932). Because of the lapse of time before it was written, the historical value is, of course, less but the references to astral bells are still of interest.

It was a time of continual excitement; many people of note came to see H.P.B. Among them I remember well Mr. Frederick (sic) W.H. Myers of Psychic Research fame. H.P.B. happened to be alone that afternoon, and she and her visitor began talking about the phenomena in which Mr. Myers was so interested. "I wish you would show me a proof of your occult power," said he, "will you not do something that will prove that there are these occult forces of which you speak?" "What would be the good?" said Madame Blavatsky. "Even if you saw and heard, you would not be convinced." "Try me, he said. She looked at him for a moment or so in that strange, penetrating manner she had, and turning to me said: "Bring me a finger-bowl and some water in it." They were sitting in the full light [33] of a summer's afternoon; she was to the right of Mr. Myers who was seated in a small chair about three feet away. I brought the glass bowl of wafer and she told me to place it on a stool just in front of Mr. Myers and a fairly long distance from her, which I did. We sat for a few moments in quiet expectation, and then from the glass there seemed to come four or five notes, such as we have called the "astral bells". It was evident that Mr. Myers was astonished; he looked at H.P.B. and her folded hands in her lap, and then again at the glass bowl; there was no visible connection between the two. Again the notes of the astral bell sounded, clear and silvery, and no movement on the part of Madame Blavatsky. He turned to me, and one could see that he was quite confused as to how the sounds could have been produced. H.P.B. smiled, and said: "Nothing very wonderful, only a little knowledge of how to direct some of the forces of nature." As Mr. Myers left he turned to me and said: "Miss Arundale, I shall never doubt again."

But alas for the fickle, doubting mind; before a fortnight had passed he wrote to say he was not convinced, and that the sounds might have been produced in this way or that. H.P.B. was not one whit disturbed, in fact she said: "I knew it, but I thought I would give him what he asked for." This incident goes to show that conviction is rarely gained through phenomena; they arouse the attention, and if the mind is receptive and willing to investigate and not declare that that which is not understood cannot be, then there is a possibility that new facts and laws may discovered.

This was not the only time that I heard the astral bells. Once when Madame de Novikoff was spending the evening at our house, she had been playing the piano; and as she got up from the piano and came to say good-bye, the last few notes that she had prayed came floating sweetly through the room, and again, as she passed through the hall to the door, the same notes echoed with our farewells." (p.35-38) [35] Much more might be said about astral bells in Notting Hill and elsewhere. If HPB used a device to produce them, how about her friend, Stainton Moses, who produced similar bells, though in seances? But of the decision by the SPR Committee not to publish any account of the one psychic phenomenon their Committee encountered with HPB, on the grounds that the evidence was weak, one can only say that it was at best foolish and worst a scandal, grossly unfair to the person they were studying, and to their fellow members in the Society, who deserved an authentic account of what the Committee had found.

L.P.

All S.P.R. documents appear by permission of the Society, and should not be reproduced without their written consent.

The Stack Memorandum

A close comparison of the handwritten original with the published text in the previous issue has disclosed some minor errors (details available on request by readers.) What is needed of course is explanatory comment as well as text, so that when new characters appear such as Mrs Billing (not Billings as printed) they can be set in context. Though for reasons of space and economy this is not immediately possible, I hope that I or someone else will in due course collect all the SPR archival material - together probably with some privately published SPR items that have not been available to the general public. To this, a commentary might be added, and the whole published in paperback format.

[36]

THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY CENTRE

The Centre has suggested to the English T.S. that there should be an international conference on theosophical history at its headquarters in summer 1986. The proposal is being considered.

The first publication of the T.H.C. could be a pamphlet edition of Professor James Santucci's survey of theosophy. Dr. Santucci taught a course of theosophy at California State University in 1984. The text, which he is slightly revising, has been available in a limited edition only so far.

T.S. members can become full members of the T.H.C. if they are not "attached" already; or they can become associate members at £2 per annum. Mr. Tim Christie has accepted an invitation to become T.H.C. Treasurer, but applications should be sent in the first instance to the Secretary, Leslie Price.

Readers are reminded that the T.H.C. and "Theosophical History" are technically separate, and for the moment there is no joint membership available.

_____________________________________________________

Theosophical History is edited by Leslie Price. Assistant Editor—Helen Jameson. Cover design by Claire Jameson. Subscription—£5 per year ($10) or £8 for 2 years ($15) from Editor, 46 Evelyn Gardens, London SW7 3BH.

All material is copyright to authors and publishers, and may not be reproduced without permission. Views expressed are those of the authors alone, not those of any Theosophical body.


Copyright © James A. Santucci and Theosophical History