BELIEVERS in the conclusions of the exponents of physical science are apt to bring against the students of Spiritual Science the charge of reviving the old tricks and evil-doings of sorcery. Some persons who make this allegation believe that sorcery, whether ancient or modern, never had, nor can have, any other basis than mere imposture and ignorant credulity; others believe or suspect that it represents a real art of an unlawful and abominable character. I propose to shew that sorcery has indeed been revived in modern times to a considerable extent, but that its revival has taken place, not in the domain of Spiritual Science, but in that of physical science itself.
A further object of my address is to suggest to those who, like myself, hold as a fundamental doctrine of all Spiritual knowledge, the Unity of Substance, and who think it incumbent on them to give the knowledge of that doctrine practical expression in universal sympathy with all forms of sentient being, that it is high time for them to enter the lists actively against the worst manifestation of Materialism and Atheism the world has yet seen, and to declare their recognition of the simple and obvious moral issue of faith in a good God, namely, the duty of Love for all incarnations of the Divine Substance, and horror and reprehension of cruelty as such, whatever plea may be advanced for its practice.
It would be difficult to find stronger evidence of the banefulness of the influence exerted by the materialistic spirit of the day than that which is furnished by the apathy and uncertainty of the public generally in regard to the practice known as vivisection. To
the vitalised minority of persons, the spectacle thus afforded is as amazing as it is deplorable. That any human being, claiming to be civilised, should, through indifference or doubt, hesitate to condemn an organised system of torture, on whatever plea instituted, is in itself sufficiently surprising. But when all the aggravating circumstances are taken into the account – especially the innocence and helplessness of the victims – the prevalent attitude of the public mind becomes explicable only as the result of some moral epidemic.
From the ordinary point of view, the utilitarian and the moral, this question has already been amply discussed, and with these it is not now my purpose to deal. There is a third aspect of it, especially interesting to the student of psychological and occult science, and one which, for want of a more precise definition, may be described as the Spiritualistic. Persons to whom the chronicles of the modern vivisector’s laboratory and the records of ancient and mediaeval sorcery are alike familiar must doubtless have noted the family resemblance between the two, and will need only to be reminded that the practice whose ethics are now so prominently canvassed in medical conclaves, and on popular platforms, represents no new feature in the world’s history, but is in every detail a resuscitation of the old and hideous cultus of the Black Art, whose ghost was deemed to be for ever laid.
The science of medicine, placed originally under the direct patronage of the Gods, whether Egyptian, Oriental, Grecian, or Teutonic, and subsequently under that of the Christian Church, was among all nations in the days of faith associated with the priestly office. The relation between soundness of soul and soundness of body was then held to be of the closest, and the health-giving man, the therapeut, was one who cured the body by means of knowledge, Divine alike in its source and in its method. In Egypt, where the order of the Theraputae seems to have had its origin, healing was from the earliest times connected with religion, and there is good reason to believe that the practice of medicine was the exclusive and regularly exercised profession of the priesthood, the first hospital of which we have any record being within the consecrated precincts of the temple, and the sick being placed under the immediate care of its ministrants.
More than one deity was associated with medical and therapeutic science.
According to Diodorus (lib. i.),
the Egyptians held themselves indebted for their proficiency in these respects
AEsculapius, reputed the son of Apollo, gave his name to
medical science; and his temples, the principal of which were at Titana in
The course of treatment adopted comprised hydropathy,
shampooing, dieting, magnetism, fumigations, gymnastics, and herbal remedies,
internally and externally administered, these remedies, being in all cases
accompanied with prayers, music, and songs called νόμοι. In the hospitals of Pergamus and
This was also the idea of the early Hebrew and
Many of the primitive Christian religious communities were schools of medicine; and the visitation of the sick, not only in the priestly, but in the medical capacity was held to be a special function of the clergy. The custom still survives under a modified form in Catholic countries, where “religious” of both sexes are employed in hospitals as nurses and dressers, the higher duties of the calling having been wrested from them by the laity – often too justly designated the “profane.”
Such, universally, was the early character of medical science, and such the position of its professors. “Priest” and “Healer” were religious titles, belonging of right only to initiates in Divinity. For the initiate only could practise the true magic, which, originally, was neither more nor less than the science of religion or the Mysteries, that Divine knowledge, won by reverent and loving study of Nature, which made the Magian free of her secrets and gave him his distinctive power.
Side by side with this true magic, sanctioned by the Gods, taught by the Church, hallowed by prayer, there grew up, like the poisonous weed in the cornfield, the unholy art of the black magician or sorcerer, whose endeavour was to rival, by the aid of sub-human or “infernal” means, the results obtained legitimately by the adept in white or celestial magic.
And as, on the one hand, in order to attain the grace and power necessary to perform Divine works or “miracles,” the true Magian cultivated purity in act and thought, denying the appetites, and abounding in love and prayer; so, on the other hand, in order to achieve success in witchcraft, it was necessary to adopt all the opposite practices. The sorcerer was distinguished by obscene actions, malevolence, and renunciation of all human sentiments and hopes of Heaven. His only virtues – if virtues they can be called – were hardihood and perseverance. No deed was foul enough, no cruelty atrocious enough, to deter him. As the supremacy of the Magian was obtained at the price of self-sacrifice and unwearying love and labour for others, so the sorcerer, reversing the means to suit the opposite end, sacrificed others to himself, and cultivated a spirit of indiscriminate malignity. For the patient and reverent study by means of which the Magian sought to win the secrets of Nature the sorcerer substituted violence, and endeavoured to wrest from her by force the treasures she gives only to love. In order to attract and bind to his service the powers he invoked, he offered in secluded places living oblations of victims the most innocent he could procure, putting
them to deaths of hideous torture in the belief that the results obtained would be favourable to his wishes in proportion to the inhumanity and monstrosity of the means employed. Thus, as Ennemoser observes, “the sorcerers inverted nature itself, abused the innocent animal world with horrible ingenuity, and trod every human feeling under foot. Endeavouring by force to obtain benefits from hell, they had recourse to the most terrible of infernal devices. For, where men know not God, or having known, have turned away from Him to wickedness, they are wont to address themselves in worship to the kingdom of hell, and to the powers of darkness.”
Such, precisely, is the part enacted by the vivisector of to-day. He is, in
fact, a practitioner of black magic, the characteristic
of which has been described by a well-known writer on occult subjects as that of
vicarious death. “To sacrifice others to oneself, to kill others in order to get
life, – this was the great principle of sorcery” (Eliphas Levi). The witches of
An almost exact parallel to the modern vivisector in motive, in method, and in character is presented by the portrait thus preserved to us of the mediaeval devil-conjurer. In it we recognise the delusion, whose enunciation in medical language is so unhappily familiar to us, that by means of vicarious sacrifices, divinations in living bodies, and rites consisting of torture scientifically inflicted and prolonged, the secrets of life and of power over nature are obtainable. But the spiritual malady which rages in the soul of the man who can be guilty of the deeds of the vivisector, is in itself sufficient to render him incapable of acquiring the highest and best knowledge. Like the sorcerer, he finds it easier to propagate and multiply disease than to discover the secret of health. Seeking for the germs of life he invents only new methods of death, and pays with his soul the price of these poor gains. Like the sorcerer, he misunderstands alike the terms and the method of knowledge, and voluntarily sacrifices his humanity in order to acquire the eminence of a fiend. But perhaps the most significant of all points of resemblance between the sorcerer and the vivisector, as contrasted with the Magian, is in the distinctive and exclusive solicitude for the mere body manifested by the former. To secure advantages of a physical and material nature merely, to discover some effectual method of self-preservation in the flesh, to increase its pleasures, to assuage its self-induced diseases, to minister to its sensual comforts, no matter at what cost of vicarious pain and misery to innocent men and animals, these are the objects, exclusively, of the mere sorcerer, – of the mere vivisector. His aims are bounded by the earthly and the sensual; he neither cares nor seeks for any knowledge unconnected with these. But the aspiration of the Magian, the adept in true magic, is entirely towards the region of the Divine. He seeks primarily health for the soul, knowing that health for the body will follow; therefore he works through and by means of the soul, and his art is truly sympathetic, magnetic, and radical. He holds that the soul is the true person, that her interests are paramount, and that no knowledge of value to man can be bought by the vicarious tears and pain of any creature soever. He remembers above all things that man is the son of God, and if for a moment the interests of Knowledge and of Love should seem to be at variance, he will say with equal courage and wisdom: “I would rather that I and my beloved should suffer and die in the body, than that to buy relief or life for it our souls should be smitten with disease
and death.” For the Magian is priest and king as well as physician; but the sorcerer, whose miserable craft, divorced from religion, deals only with the lower nature, that is, with the powers of darkness, clings with passionate despair to the flesh, and, by the very character of his pursuits, makes himself incapable of real science. For, to be an adept in this, it is indispensable to be pure of heart, clear of conscience, and just in action. It is not enough that the aim be noble, it is necessary that the means should be noble likewise. A Divine intention presupposes a Divine method. As it is forbidden to man to enrich himself by theft, or to free himself by murder, so also is it forbidden him to acquire knowledge by unlawful means, – to fight even the battles of humanity with the weapons of hell. It is impossible to serve humanity by the sacrifice of that which alone constitutes humanity – justice and its eternal principles. Whenever the world has followed the axioms of the vivisector, whenever it has put sword and flame and rack to work in the interests of truth or of progress, it has but reaped a harvest of lies, and started an epidemic of madness and delusion. All the triumphs of civilisation have been gained by civilised methods: it is the Divine law that so it should be, and whoever affirms the contrary is either an imbecile or a hypocrite. The vivisector’s plea that he sins in the interests of humanity is, therefore, the product of a mind incapable of reason, or wilfully concealing its true object with a lie. That, in the majority of cases, the latter explanation is the correct one is proved beyond doubt by the nature of the operations performed, and by not a few incautious admissions on the part of some of the school itself. To multiply pamphlets, “observations,” and “scientific” discussions; to gain notoriety among followers of the cultus, to be distinguished as the inventor of such a “method” or the chronicler of such a series of experiments, and thereby to earn wealth and position, these constitute the ambitions of the average vivisector. And, if he go beyond these, if some vague hope of a “great discovery” delude and blind his moral nature as it did that of the miserable Seigneur de Retz, we must, in such case, relegate him to the category of madmen, who, for the poor gains of the body, are willing to assassinate the soul. Madness such as this was rife in those mediaeval times which we are wont to speak of as the “dark ages,” and the following examples, selected for the striking resemblance they present to the “scientific” crimes of the nineteenth century, may, with the instances already given, suffice as specimens of the
abominations which the delusions of sorcery are able to suggest.
“The Taigheirm was an infernal magical sacrifice of cats, prevalent until the close of the sixteenth century, and of which the origin lies in the remotest times. The rites of the Taigheirm were indispensable to the worship or incantation of the subterranean or diabolic gods. The midnight hour, between Friday and Saturday, was the authentic time for these horrible practices; and the sacrifice was continued four whole days and nights. After the cats had been put into magico-sympathetic (sur-excited) condition by a variety of tortures, one of them was put alive upon a spit, and, amid terrific howlings, roasted before a slow fire. The moment that the howls of one agonised creature ceased in death, another was put on the spit – for a minute of interval must not take place if the operators would control hell – and this sacrifice was continued for four entire days and nights. When the Taigheirm was complete, the operators demanded of the demons the reward of their offering, which reward consisted of various things, such as riches, knowledge, fame, the gift of second sight, etc.” – Horst’s Deuteroscopy and Ennemoser’s History of Magic. (1)
Let the following extracts from publications circulated among the vivisectors of to-day be compared with the foregoing, and the reader will himself be enabled to judge of the exactness of the parallel between the black art of the past and of the present.
“Dr Legg’s experiments on cats at St Bartholomew’s Hospital included a great variety of tortures. Among others, their stomachs were opened, while the cats were pinned alive on a table, their livers were pricked with needles, the stomachs were then sewn up, and the cats left in that condition until death ensued from prolapse of the bowels, some of the animals surviving the torture as long as twenty-six days.” – St Bartholomew Hospital Reports.
“Burns were produced by sponging the chests and bellies of dogs with turpentine five or ten times in quick succession, setting fire to it each time; and scalds, by pouring over the dogs eight ounces of boiling water nine times in quick succession. All the
dogs died, either in a few hours, or at the latest,
after five days.” –
“Delaroche and Berger baked hundreds of animals to death in ovens, the heat being gradually increased until death ensued. Claude Bernard invented a furnace for roasting or baking animals to death, the details and diagram of which apparatus are given in his Lessons on Animal Heat. Magendie has also shewn by numerous experiments that dogs perish at the end of about eighteen minutes in a furnace heated to 120° (centigrade), and at the end of twenty-four minutes in one heated to 90°; or in one at 80° at the end of thirty minutes.” – Béclard’s Treatise on Physiology, and Gavarret’s Animal Heat.
Mantegazza has recently investigated the effects of
pain on the respiratory organs. The best methods for the production of pain he
finds to consist in planting nails, sharp and numerous, through the feet of an
animal in such a manner as to render the creature almost motionless, because in
every movement it would feel its torment more acutely. To produce still more
intense pain, it was found useful to employ injuries followed by inflammation.
An ingenious machine, constructed expressly for the purpose, enabled the
professor to grip any part of an animal with pincers with iron teeth, and to
crush or tear or lacerate the victim so as to produce pain in every possible
way. One little guinea-pig far advanced in pregnancy endured such frightful
tortures that it fell into convulsions, and no observations could be made on it.
In a second series of experiments, twenty-eight animals were sacrificed, some of
them taken from nursing their young, exposed to torture for an hour or two, then
allowed to rest an hour, and then replaced on the machine to be crushed or torn
for periods varying from two to six hours. Tables are appended by the professor
in which the cases of ‘great pain’ are distinguished from those of ‘excessive
pain,’ the victims of the last being ‘larded with nails in every part of the
body.’ All these experiments were performed with much patience and delight.” – Of the Action of
Pain, etc., by
The two following experiments are cited from Baron Ernst de Weber’s Torture-chamber of Science, and also from the Courrier de Lyon, 8th June 1880: –
“The body of a pregnant bitch at the point of delivery was cut open to observe whether in her dying and mutilated condition she would not attempt to caress and lick her little ones.”
“The forehead of a dog was pierced in two places with a large gimlet, and a red-hot iron introduced through the wounds. He was then thrown into a river, to observe whether in that state he would be able to swim.”
Professor Goltz, of Strasburg, writes: “A very lively young dog which had learnt to shake hands with both fore-paws had the left side of the brain extracted through two holes on the 1st December 1875. This operation caused lameness in the right paw. On being asked for the left paw the dog immediately laid it in my hand. I now demand the right, but the creature only looks at me sorrowfully, for he cannot move it. On my continuing to press for it, the dog crosses the left paw over, and offers it to me on the right side, as if to make amends for not being able to give the right. On the 13th January 1876 a second portion of the brain was destroyed; on February 15th, a third; and on March 6th, a fourth, this last operation causing death.”
M. Brachet writes: “I inspired a dog with a great aversion for me, tormenting him and inflicting on him some pain or other as often as I saw him. When this feeling was carried to its height, so that the animal became furious every time he saw and heard me, I put out his eyes. I could then appear before him without his manifesting any aversion; but if I spoke, his barkings and furious movements proved the indignation which animated him. I then destroyed the drums of his ears, and disorganised the internal ear as much as I could. When an intense inflammation had rendered him completely deaf, I filled up his ears with wax. He could now no longer hear or see. This series of operations was afterwards performed on another dog.”
The prize for physiology was, by the French Institute, awarded to the perpetrator of the above “experiments.”
In Cyon’s Methodik, a “Handbook for Vivisectors,” we read the following: “The true vivisector should approach a difficult experiment with joyous eagerness and delight. He who, shrinking from the dissection of a living creature, approaches experimentation as a disagreeable necessity may, indeed, repeat various vivisections, but can never become an artist in vivisection. The chief delight of the vivisector is that experienced when from an ugly-looking incision, filled with bloody humours and injured tissues, he draws out the delicate nerve-fibre, and by means of irritants revives its apparently extinct sensation.”
Have we in this nineteenth century indeed expunged from among us the foul and
hideous practice of sorcery, or rather, if comparison be fairly made between the
witchcraft of the “dark ages” and the “science” of the present, does it not
appear that the latter, alike for number of professors, ingenuity of cruelty,
effrontery and folly, bears away the palm? No need in this “year of grace” to
seek in the depths of remote forests, or in the recesses of mountain caves
and ruined castles, the midnight haunts of the sorcerer. All day he and his
assistants axe at their work unmolested in the underground laboratories of all
the medical schools throughout the length and breadth of
But between the positions of sorcery in the past and in the present is one notable and all-important difference. In the past it was held a damnable offence to practise the devil’s craft; and once proved guilty, the sorcerer, no matter what his worldly rank or public services, could not hope to escape from death by fire. But now the professors of the Black Art hold their Sabbat in public, and their enunciations and the recitals of their hideous “experiments” are reported in the journals of the day. They are decorated by princes, feted by great ladies, and honoured with the special protection of State legislation. It is held superstition to believe that in former ages wizards were enabled by the practice of secret abominations and cruelties to wrest knowledge from nature, but now the self-same crimes are openly and universally perpetrated, and men everywhere trust their efficacy.
And in the last invention of this horrible cultus of
Death and Suffering the modern sorcerer shews us his “devils casting out devils”
and urges us to look to the parasites of contagion – foul germs of disease – as
the regenerators of the future. Thus, if the sorcerer be permitted to have his
way, the malignant spirits of fever, sickness, and corruption will be let loose
and multiplied upon earth, and as in
the cattle in the field to the firstborn son of the king, will be smitten with plague and death. By his evil art he will keep alive from generation to generation the multitudinous broods of foul living, of vice, and uncleanness, none of them being suffered to fail for need of culture, ingrafting them afresh day by day and year by year in the bodies of new victims; paralysing the efforts of the hygienist, and rendering vain the work of the true Magian, the Healer, and the teacher of pure life.
• • • • • • • • • • •
The report in Light (pp. 57-58) says that an interesting discussion followed this address. “The question of the suffering in the animal creation, both that inflicted by animals upon each other, apparently in part by way of amusement and torture, and also that caused by the ‘blind, unreasoning forces of nature,’ was referred to by more than one of the speakers, and it was suggested that an argument might be based thereon by vivisectors in partial defence of their position.
“In her replies to the various remarks, Dr. Kingsford took the ground that there must be, somewhere or somewhen, compensation or justification for all that we call evil, and for all suffering. In thinking this out, she was brought face to face with a succession of problems which had led her to the belief that evil and suffering are the result of a degradation, of a departure from the Divine; that, in fact, the ferocity and the cunning of a man-eating tiger, for instance, were the ferocity and cunning of a human spirit, who in a previous incarnation had indulged in those passions. The lecturer also ably and eloquently defended
her comparison between the ‘sorcerer’ and the mere ‘scientist,’ pointing out that the aim and ambition of both was the acquisition of knowledge for the benefit of the external, the material, the sensuous man only. Whereas the knowledge sought for by the true priest, the Magian, the real healer, is that which is for the good of the inner, the Divine man, and such knowledge need not to be obtained through the infliction of pain and suffering on others.”
(157:1) Lecture given by Anna Kingsford, on the 23rd
January 1882, to the British National Association of Spiritualists, and
published in Light, 4th February 1882, pp. 55-58 (see p. 8, ante). Edward Maitland says that it was one of her “most notable
contributions to the anti-vivisection cause,” and that it “attracted much
attention both at home and abroad, being reproduced in various languages,” and
that it “represented, besides her own medical knowledge, much research at the
I hope, shortly, to bring out a volume of Anna Kingsford’s and Edward Maitland’s Addresses and Essays on Vivisection, which will include much material of the greatest value for the anti-vivisection cause. – S.H.H.
(161:1) These formulae, prescribed by the ancient science of alchemy, have reference, of course, to truths of which the terms used are symbols only. But the sorcerer, not being an initiate, understood these terms in their ordinary sense, and acted accordingly. – A.K.
(164:1) Among the practices of Japanese sorcerers in the present century, the following is cited in Mr. Pfoundes’ book Fu-so Mimi Bukuro: “A dog is buried alive, the head only being left above ground, and food is then put almost within its reach, thus exposing it to the cruel fate of Tantalus. When in the greatest agony and near death, its head is chopped off and put in a box.” – A.K.
(168:1) In a note in The Virgin of the World, Anna Kingsford says: “In the Divine Pymander, it is clearly set forth that it a human soul continue evil ‘it shall neither taste of immortality nor be partaker of the good, but being drawn back it returneth into creeping things; and this is the condemnation of an evil soul.’ Yet, Trismegistus hastens immediately to explain and qualify this statement by adding that such a calamity cannot befall any truly human soul – that is, a soul possessing the divine mind, however fallen from grace – for so long as the soul retains this living fire it is the soul of a man, and man ‘is not to be compared to any brute beast upon the earth, but to them that are above in heaven, that are called Gods.’ But there is a condition so low and lost that at length the divine flame is quenched, and the soul is left dark and Godless, a human soul no longer. ‘And such a soul, O Son,’ says Hermes, ‘hath no mind; wherefore neither must such an one be called Man.’ Therefore, while it is true that ‘no other body is capable of a human soul, neither is it lawful for a man’s soul to fall into the body of an unreasonable living thing,’ so also is it true that a soul, bereft of its Divine Particle which alone made it human, is human no longer, and, following the universal law of affinity, straightway gravitates to its proper level, sinking to its similars, and drawn to its analogues. Nevertheless, when its purgation is accomplished, such a soul may ‘come to itself and say, I will arise and go unto my Father.’
“There are some Rabbis indeed who have thought such an occult significance to lie hid in the parable of the prodigal; swine being accounted universally a figure of lust and sordid desire. The Hermetic doctrine, thus interpreted, is identical with that of the Kabalah on the same point, and also with the teaching of Apollonius of Tyana” (pp. 12–13; see also The Perfect Way, III, 21, etc.; Clothed With the Sun, Pt. I. Nos. XII, XXI.).