“Spirit” Pranks Intra Caucasus (intro)
Theosophist, August, 1880
“Verily . . . Truth is often stranger than fiction!”
Some three months ago, the Yankee-Irish editor of a unimportant, third-class Anglo-Indian paper, in a fit, apparently of delirium tremens, with abuse and low slander, called us a “Spiritualist.” The epithet was thrown into our teeth under the evident impression that, in the eyes of the scepticaI public, at least, it would overwhelm us. The mark was missed that time. If, to believe in the reality of numberless phenomena, produced for long years under our own eyes, in almost every country, and under the most satisfactory test conditions, precluding all possibility of trickery, constitutes one a “Spiritualist,” then in company with a host of the most eminent men of learning, we plead guilty. But if, on the other hand, we take Webster’s definition that a Spiritualist is “one who believes in direct intercourse with departed spirits, through the agency of persons called mediums,” then it was a stupid blunder that the editor committed. Whether rightly or wrongly, we do not attribute the phenomena we believe in to the agency of “spirits” that are the souls of the departed. This is not the occasion to expound our personal theory. For, to begin, there are but few Spiritualists who are unacquainted with it; and our present object being to draw the attention of every sensible person to just such phenomena as the orthodox Spiritualists attribute to spirits, it matters little to whatever cause we personally may attribute them. Earnest and indomitable searchers after truth, and wanting only the TRUTH, none of us, Theosophists, claim infallibility or set ourselves to dogmatizing. We are no sectarians, and most of us, if not all are honestly open to conviction. Let anyone prove to us an alleged fact to be really one, and we are willing to accept it as a dogma any day. Having said so much, we may add, with the permission of the person vouchsafing for the strange phenomena hereinafter described, that the writer is our own sister, Madame V. P. de Jelihofsky, of Tiflis (Russian Caucasus), one of the most truthful women we have ever known, and a great sceptic upon such matters for long years. But the weird experience being her own, and all the facts but one having happened under her very eyes, she did not hesitate to state them. She is a Spiritualist. Had they been stated to us by any other person, we would, to say the least, have accepted them with the greatest hesitancy, and ten to one would have “killed” the letter. As it is, we publish it in full.
[Here followed a very thorough letter on the subject.]