[Note on “Testing the Bewitched Mirror Theory”]
Theosophist, August, 1880
Article selections by Babu Asu Tosh Mitra | Note by H.P.B.
[Note: the article to which the following makes reference related a story by A. Tzeretelef; he was told that “there was nothing in the world more terrifying for a person than to stand alone, at midnight, before a mirror, and with two lighted candles in one’s hands, to thrice repeat loudly and slowly one’s own name, without dropping the eyes from the reflected image.” The author tested this, and relates that indeed he was filled with terror, and that upon repeating his name for the third time, he perceived his reflection vanish from the mirror.]
The facts related under the title of “The Bewitched Mirror” in The Theosophist of June last [p. 230], must have excited curiosity, if nothing else, in the minds of all its readers. At the suggestion of my friend Babu Avinas Bheendrea Banerjee . . . I decided to make the trial myself . . . Our field of experiment was a room within the compound of the Medical College, Calcutta . . . where more than a thousand dead bodies have been dissected. . . .
After half-past eleven at night, I entered the room, taking a lighted candle in each hand, and slowly approached the mirror in which was reflected part of a skeleton which stands at a little distance. . . . All was quiet. In an adjacent hall the close struck [midnight]. I straightened myself up and, firmly looking upon my own reflection in the middor, pronounced slowly, loudly, and distinctly [my name]. Finished, I kept my eyes fixed upon the mirror, quite forgetting the external world.
After a good long time (nearly five minutes) I repeated my name for the second time. No change in the mirror, neither anything mystical in myself. . . . I repeated my name for the third time, but nothing came of it. At last, being disappointed, I went off and found it was twenty minutes after twelve. I repeated the experiment on three subsequent nights with similar results. On the fifth day, my friend Babu Gopal Chunder Mookerjee tried it in a separate room, and he also was unsuccessful.
I would like to know if any other reader of The Theosophist has tried it, for it might be that the effects described happen only with certain persons.
The experimental plan, followed in this instance by the Babu, is the only one by which it may be discovered how much truth there is in the time-honoured legends, traditions, and superstitious observances of modern nations. If his and his friend’s tests prove nothing else, they certainly show that not everyone, who invokes himself in a mirror at midnight by the light of two candles, will, of necessity, be appalled by ghostly apparitions. But his own common sense has probably suggested what is no doubt the fact of the case, viz., that the phenomena described by Prince Tzeretelef, in our June number, are observable only by persons of a peculiar temperament. This is certainly the rule in every other department of psychic phenomena. As regards the “Bewitched Mirror” tale, we printed it as an illustration of one of the oldest of Slavic beliefs, leaving it to the reader to put [it to] the test or not as pleases him best.