Sunday, March 11, 2012

From Ghost Land (1879)

Yesterday, I came across Emma Britten's Ghost Land, originally publicated in 1876, apparently in partial response to the Great Boston Fire (of 187-?). I came across it looking into the “Orphic Circle,” which appears to have been kind of magician's social network in the 1800s. The book is pre-Theosophical, and reads like Dracula would if all the characters in it were Victorian magicians from either England or Germany.

About page 35, one encounters a fascinatingly weird scene where one of the main characters is sent to astrally recover the astral “double” or “flying soul” of a lunatic magician so his order, the Berlin Brotherhood, can discuss his activities. I'm going to transcribe it, because it's so freaking odd, and maybe even awesome.

Be prepared for the crazy.
Note: there are racist comments about the Roma and other cultures at different points in the text. They are less overbearing than in some works of this time period, though.


It was by the command of my associates that I one night visited, in the magnetic sleep, the cell of the lunatic; and being charged by the power of the Brothers with their combined magnetic force, I threw it on the maniac and by this means, whilst his suffering body suffered tranquilly, I returned to our “sanctuary” with his spirit; and from the records of that man's proceedings, I extract the following minutes of what transpired. He whose office I am not permitted by my honor to name, I shall call “Grand Master,” and he thus questioned what was always called on these occasions the “flying soul” of the maniac:
Grand Master: Did you kill the body of A.M. Answer truly.
Flying Soul: I did.
G.M.: For what purpose, and how?
F.S.: To ascertain if the atmospheric spirit, being full of life, could remain with me. I killed her by a sudden blow, so as to let all the life out at once, and I drew out the spirit from the dead form by Mesmeric passes.
G.M.: Did you see that spirit pass?
F.S.: I did.
G.M.: How did it look?
F.S.: Exactly like the body, only it wore an aspect of horror and appeal terrible to behold.
G.M.: Did the spirit stay with you, and how long? Did it obey you, and act intelligently or did it act a merely automatic part?
F.S.: Mortals, know that there is no death! I did not kill A.M. I only broke up the temple in which her soul dwelt! That soul is immortal, and cannot die. I found this out the moment after it had left the body, for it looked upon me, spoke to me, reproached me. O, God of Heaven, saints and angels, pity me! It spoke to me as intelligently, but far, far more potentially than ever it had done in earthly being. It was not dead. It could not die; it never will die, and so it told me at once; but, ah, me, miserable! When I sank down aghast and truck with ineffable horror, as the spirit approached me, into a deep swoon, I entered the land of immortal souls. There I saw many people whom I had thought dead, but who were all still living. There, too, I saw the still living and radiantly glorious soul of my old pastor, Michael H---. Sternly but sorrowfully he told me I had committed a great and irreparable crime; that all crime was unpardonable, and could only be wiped out by personal, and not be vicarious atonement, as he had falsely taught whilst on earth; that my only means of atonement was suffering, and that in kind, or in connection with my dreadful crime; that, as the poor victim would be engaged during the term of her earth life (broken short by my act) in working it out in an earthly sphere, so her magnetism, actually attracted, as I had deemed, to the spot where her life had been taken, would continue to haunt me and repeat in vision the last dread act of murder until her life essence should melt away and her spirit become free to quit the earth, and progress, as she would do, to higher spheres. Sometimes, this stern teacher informed me, I should see the real living soul of my vicim, and then it would be as a pitying angel striving to help me; but still oftener I should see only the “spectre,” and this would always appear as in the death-moment, an avenging form, partly conjured up from my own memory, partly from the magnetic aura of my victim, and always taking the shape and circumstances of my dreadful crime. Mortals, there is much more to tell you of the awful realms beyond the grave, and the solemn connection between life and death, but more I dare not speak...
EDIT: Original publication date altered due to new information coming my way.
X2: I was wrong at the time of this writing. It seems the Theosophical society was established around 1875 - 1876 according to Rene Guenon...


V.V.F. said...

That girl went Obi-Wan on his ass.

Rose Weaver said...

LMFAO at VVF's comment. Man, that is freakin' beautiful!

The post is awesome, Jack.

"he told me I had committed a great and irreparable crime; that all crime was unpardonable, and could only be wiped out by personal, and not be vicarious atonement, as he had falsely taught whilst on earth;"

Well, so much for "confessing sins" and "communion". Also, sounds a lot like a form of Karma to me...

(Obi Wan on his ass... damn straight! lol)

Jack Faust said...

Yeah. Karma has not been directly said so far, but it underlies much of the book in a neat way.

Lance Michael Foster said...

This reflects Roman Catholic belief as I understand it. Although Jesus Christ wiped out ORIGINAL sin and made salvation possible, you still have to pay for your own acts after you die during purgatory (cleansing).

Lance Michael Foster said...

If you die in a state of grace (immediately AFTER confession and absolution, if you have committed no mortal sin) then it is taught you can enter into heaven. But very very few die in a state of grace, -no matter how good you are, you are in purgatory at first, which is one reason Catholics are taught to pray for the souls of the dead.