isis unveiled: xii (forbidden ground)

“Speaking of pictures, the one described by Huc as hanging in a certain Lamasery may fairly be regarded as one of the most wonderful in existence. It is a simple canvas without the slightest mechanical apparatus attached, as the visitor may prove by examining it at his leisure.

It represents a moon-lit landscape, but the moon is not at all motionless and dead; quite the reverse, for, according to the abbe, one would say that our moon herself, or at least her living double, lighted the picture. Each phase, each aspect, each movement of our satellite, is repeated in her facsimile, in the movement and progress of the moon in the sacred picture.

“You see this planet in the painting ride as a crescent, or full, shine brightly, pass behind the clouds, peep out or set, in a manner corresponding in the most extraordinary way with real luminary. It is, in a word, a most servile and resplendent reproduction of the pale queen of the night, which received the adoration of so many people in the days of old.”

When we think of the astonishment that would inevitably be felt by one of our self-complacent academicians at seeing such a picture – and it is by no means the only one, for they have them in other parts of Tibet and Japan also, which represent the sun’s movements – when we think, we say, of his embarrassment at knowing that if he ventured to tell the unvarnished truth to his colleagues, his fate would probably be like that of poor Huc, and he flung out of the academical chair as a liar or a lunatic, we cannot help recalling the anecdote of Tycho-Brahe, given by Humboldt in his Cosmos.

“One evening”, says the great Danish astronomer, “as, according to my usual habit, I was considering the celestial vault, to my indescribable amazement, I saw, close to the zenith, in Cassiopea, a radiant star of extraordinary size. Struck with astonishment, I knew not whether I could believe my own eyes. Some time after that, I learned that in Germany, cartmen, and other persons of the lower classes had repeatedly warned the scientists that a great apparition could be seen in the sky; which fact afforded both the press and public one more opportunity to indulge in their usual raillery against the men of science, who, in the cases of several antecedent comets, had not predicted their appearance.””

H. P. Blavatsky

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