Theosophist, August, 1881
Article Selections from a letter by A. J. Riko | Note and Editor’s Note by H.P.B.
[Note: see also “[Note on “Stone-Throwing by ‘Spirits’”]”]
Following is an interesting letter which we translate from the French Revue Spirite, of March last. It is addressed to that journal by M. A. J. Riko, of the Hague, Holland, a well-known gentleman of great education, whose name is familiar to many people in London and Paris. M. Riko is an esteemed correspondent of ours, and we believe his personal experience in various phenomena has been great.
The stone shower is a remarkable phenomena which takes place at uncertain intervals in every country, and under every climate. It is frequent in the East.
An official Report coming from Dutch Each Indies, and dates 1831, states that one Van Kessinger, then residing at Reanger, had in his own house, situated in Sumadon1 a veritable rain of stones throughout a period of sixteen days. . . .
1. Sumarang? The name given must be a misprint. We can find no such place as “Sumadan” on the maps. But there is a province on the north coast of Java and the capital of the former, both called Sumarang; the city being about 250 miles from Batavia.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
From the reliable information this is what happened. . . . In the house of a gentleman named Van Kessinger lived a child, the cook’s daughter . . . the little girl approached Madame Van Kessinger and drew her attention to her Kubaai (white native apron) on which there were numerous red spots of Sirs. The lady believing the sports were due to a trick of other servants, had the child put on a clean Kabaai, but in a few seconds the same spots appeared on it. At the same time, stones of about the size of an egg kept falling perpendicularly, seemingly from nowhere at the lady’s feet. Extremely frightened, she sent immediately a message to the Regent,2 Radeen Adi, a man of great probity who became convinced of the reality of the phenomena, but who, notwithstanding all his precautions, and the help of an armed force, was unable to fathom the mystery of the red spots and the cause of the stone-falling.
2. We believe the Resident is here meant. Each of the twenty provinces of Java, called Residences, is governed by an official—often a native— whose title is that of Resident. Or, perhaps, the word Regent is a translation of that of Raden, as the petty Javanese chieftains are called in Java “Radens”.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
An Indian priest attempted to exorcise the “spirit.” Placing a lamp on the matting, he had hardly squatted himself on it, when upon opening his Kuran3 he received a box on the cars, and both lamp and Kuran violently flew in opposite directions. . . .
3. In religion the Javanese are Mohommedans, which faith was established by Arab conquerers in the fifteenth century, and has almost entirely destroyed Brahmanism and Buddhism, the ancient religions of the country. It was the Hindus who finding themselves in Java as conquerors and settlers, founded kingdoms on the island and converted the natives to Brahmanism. They can be traced back to the sixth century of our era, but were there far earlier, according to native legends and traditions. Long before the sixth century, the Javanese had acquired a considerable degree of civilization, their ample literature and language (three-fourths of it being Sanskrit and the rest Malaharian) proving that they got it from India.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
The event having spread abroad and produced a commotion, Colonel Michiels was then officially ordered to investigate the facts, and, if possible, to find out the truth. . . . he found that when alone with the little girl, the red spots appeared without any visible cause upon the white linen walls, and that stones, hot and wet, were falling by fives and sixes at very short intervals . . . He also saw a fruit called papaya plucked by an invisible hand from a neighborhood tree of that name, and at a great height; the sap running down the trunk from the wound made in it by the violent tearing away of the fruit.4
4. The Papaw in Malay—papaya. The fruit, of the size of a melon, grows like that of the “Jack-fruit” tree in Ceylon and India, at a considerable height, and in the cluster just at the root of the leaves. The stem being soft and herbaceous, if the fruit is violently torn out instead of being cut off, it leaves a regular wound on the trunk.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
In the southern part of Sochapoera (?) near the place of the same name, lived in 1834, a family named Teisseire. The husband was a Frenchman and inspector of a Government indigo manufacturing store. . . . In that year, while they were at dinner a shower of stones came upon the table, and the same was repeated for a fortnight in every room of the house; the stones being sometimes replaced by buffalo bones, and once by a whole head of that animal. Once M. Teisseire being out, seated in a chariot dragged by buffaloes, he found himself stoned with pieces of dry earth. As at Sumadan (Samarang?)5 not a creature was near, the stones falling perpendicularly, and never hurting or even touching any one.
5. Unless the blame for the incorrect rendering of the names of these localities is to be laid at the door of the printers we have to beg M. Riko’s pardon for the liberty we take in correcting them. The cases related by him are most incredible for the general reader, though, having witnessed far more extraordinary phenomena personally, we believe in them thoroughly. But The Theosophist is sent throughout the world. Some persons might read this account in Java, or, finding themselves there, desire to ascertain how far the statements are true. It is absolutely necessary that in every case the names of the localities, where the phenomena took place, and their geographical position, should be rendered as carefully as possible. The Theosophists and Spiritualists, have too many enemies to allow the latter triumphs which might be easily avoided by exercising some little care. And neither of us—Spiritists or Theosophists—can be too careful.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
The Regent of Soehapoera (?), before he had personally investigated the above-given phenomenon, desiring to pass one night at the house of M. Teisseire, wend to bed. As soon as he lay down, the bed was vigorously shaken and finally lifted up entirely from the floor, in the presence of his son and several servants, and under the full glare of several lamps. . . .
The resident of Ament tells of a similar case. Finding himself on Government service on a tour in the district of Breanger,6 where he was serving as inspector of coffee plantations, he learned that at Bandung,7 there was a gendarola (spirit) then appearing in a small house. He determined to learn the truth of the matter. . . . [etc., etc.]
6. Prianger or Prayangan must be the correct name.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
7. Bandung is one of the eleven districts which constitute the Prayangan or Prianger regency, in the island of Java, of which it is one of the loveliest and most picturesque places.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
In Europe such showers of stones have been known everywhere. The stone-phenomena of the Rue des Gres (in 1849) and that of the Rue du Bae8 (1858) are well remembered in Paris. . . . [etc.]
8. Two streets in Paris. The two cases referred to, were made the object of the strictest investigation by the police, and in the case of that of 1858, the Emperor Napoleon ordered the severest researches, had the house emptied, isolated, and surrounded for nearly a month, but the mystery remained unsolved for ever. In Russia there were several such cases in the last twenty-five years which baffled the police.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]
It would certainly be worth the trouble of trying to find out and accept some definite opinion, as to the nature of the invisible beings who cause such showers of stone to come down. What do they do it for? It is to amuse themselves? A strange pastime! . . . For a revenge? . . But the uniformity of that phenomenon in various countries forbids such a supposition. Must we believe in other beings (than human spirits) as believed in by the Theosophists? I would like to learn the opinion of your readers upon this subject.
A. J. Riko.
Editor’s Note.—Meanwhile, M. Riko will perhaps permit us a word. The last sentence of his letter proves clearly that even he, a spiritist, is unable to trace such a uniformly senseless, idiotic phenomenon—one that periodically occurs in every part of the world and without the slightest cause for it, as without the least moral effect upon those present—to the agency of disembodied human spirits. We will know that, while most of the spiritists will attribute it to the Esprits malins (malicious disembodied spirits), the Roman Catholic world and most of the pious Protestants—at least those who may have convinced themselves of the facts—will lay it at the door of the devil. Now for argument’s sake, and allowing the idea of such creatures as the “malicious human souls” of the spiritist and the “demons” of the Christian theology to exist elsewhere than in imagination, how can both these classes of believers account for the contradictions involved? Here are beings which or who—whether devils, or malicious ex-human imps—are evidently wicked. Their object—if they have any at all—must be to derive cruel pleasure from tormenting mortals? They cannot be less bent upon mischief or more careful of possible results than ordinary mischievous schoolboys. Yet we see the stones, or whatever the missiles may be, carefully avoiding contract with those present. They fall all around without “even grazing” the little Javanese girl—evidently the medium in the case observed by General Michiels. They fall thick among the ranks of the soldiers at “Fort Victoria”; and pass incessantly for several days before the very noses of the police agents at Paris and The Hague, without ever touching, let alone hurting, anyone! What does this mean? Malicious human spirits, to say nothing of devils, would certainly have no such delicate care for those they were bent upon tormenting. What are they then, these invisible persecutors? Ordinary human “spirits”? In such a case human intelligence would be but a name; a word devoid of meaning as soon as it gets separated from its physical organs. It would become a blind force, a remnant of intellectual energy that was, and we would have to credit every liberated soul with insanity!
Having disposed of the theory of “spirits,” “imps” and “devils,” on the score of the idiocy and total absence of malevolence in the proceedings, once that the genuineness of the phenomenon is proved, to what else can it be attributed in its causation or origin, but to a blind though living force; one subjected to an intransgressible law of attraction and repulsion—in its course and effects—a law which exact science has yet to discover; for it is one of innumerable correlations due to magnetic conditions which are supplied only when both animal and terrestrial magnetism are present; meanwhile the former has to fight its way step by step for recognition, for science will not recognize it in its psychological effects—do what its advocates may. The Spiritualists regard the phenomena of the stone-showers as irregular? We, Theosophists, answer that although their occurrence at a given place may appear to be very irregular, yet from a comparison of those in all parts of the world it might be found, if carefully recorded, that hitherto they have been uniform or nearly so. Perhaps they may be aptly compared with the terrestrial magnetic perturbations called by Science “fitful,” and distinctly separated by her, at one time, from that other class she named “periodical”; the “fitful” now being found to recur at as regular periods as the former. The cause of these variations of the magnetic needle is as entirely unknown to physical science as are the phenomena of stone-showers to those who study psychological Science; yet both are closely connected. If we are asked what we mean by the comparison—and indignant may be the question on the part of both Science and Spiritualism—we will humbly answer that such is the teaching of Occult Science. Both classes of our opponents have yet much to learn, and the Spiritualists—to first unlearn much in addition. Did our friends the believers in “spirits” ever go to the trouble of first studying “mediumship” and only then turning their attention to the phenomena occurring through the sensitives? We, at least, never heard that such is the case, not even during the most scientific investigations of mediumistic powers that ever took place—Professor Hare’s and Mr. Crookes’ experiments. And yet, had they done so, they might have found how closely related to and dependent on the variations of terrestrial magnetism are those of the mediumistic or animal magnetic state. Whenever a true medium fails to get phenomena it is immediately attributed by the Spiritualists, and oftener by the “Spirits” themselves, to “unfavourable conditions.” The latter are lumped together in a single phrase; but never did we hear the real scientific and chief cause for it given: the unfavourable variations of the terrestrial magnetism. The lack of harmony in the “circle” of investigators; various and conflicting magnetisms of the “sitters” are all of secondary importance. The power of a real, strongly charged medium9 will always prevail against the animal magnetism which may be adverse to it: but it cannot produce effects unless it receives a fresh supply of molecular force, an impress from the invisible body of those we call blind “Elementals” or Forces of Nature, and which the Spiritualists in every case regard as the “spirits of the dead.” Showers of stones have been known to take place where there was not a living soul—consequently no medium. The medium charged by the atmospheric legion of “correlations” (we prefer calling them by the new scientific term) will attract stones within the periphery of his force, but will at the same time repel them, the polaric condition of his body preventing the missiles from touching it. And his own molecular condition will temporarily induct with its properties all the other human and even non-sensitive bodies around it. Sometimes there may be an exception to the rule produced by some chance condition.
This explanatory postscript may be closed with the remark to Mr. Riko that we do not regard the Elementals of the Kabalists as properly “beings.” They are the active Forces and correlations of Fire, Water, Earth and Air, and their shape is like the hues of the chameleon which has no permanent colour of its own. Through the interplanetary and interstellar spaces, the vision of almost every clairvoyant can reach. But it is only the trained eye of the proficient in Eastern Occultism, that can fix the flitting shadows and give them a shape and a name.
9. We hold that a “physical medium,” so called, is but an organism more sensitive than most others to the terrestrial electro-magnetic induction. That the powers of a medium for the production of phenomena fluctuate from one hour to another is a fact proven by Mr. Crookes’ experiments and, believing though we do in the existence of innumerable other so-called Spiritual Forces besides and quite independent of human spirits, we yet firmly maintain that physical mediums have very little, if anything, to do with the latter. Their powers are purely physical and conditional; i.e., these powers depend almost entirely on the degree of receptivity, and chance polarization of the body of the medium by the electro-magnetic and atmospheric currents. Purely psychological manifestations are quite a different thing.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]