isis unveiled: chapter xv (knowledge is power)

“There are many spots in the world where the strangest phenomena have resulted from what was later ascertained to be natural physical causes. In Southern California there are certain places on the seashore where the sand when disturbed, produces a loud musical ring. It is known as the “musical sand”, and the phenomenon is supposed to be of an electrical nature. “The sound of musical instruments, chiefly of drums, is a phenomenon of another class, and is really produced in certain situations among sandhills when the sand is disturbed”, says the editor of Marco Polo.

“A very striking account of a phenomenon of this kind, regarded as supernatural, is given by Friar Odoric, whose experience I have traced to the Reg Ruwan or flowing sand, north of Kabul. Besides this celebrated example…I have noted that equally well-known one of the Jibal Nakics, or ‘Hill of the Bell’ in the Sinai desert; Gibalul-Thabul, or hill of the drums. A Chinese narrative of the tenth century mentions the phenomenon as known near Kwachau, on the eastern border of the Lop desert, under the name of “the singing sands.”

That all these are natural phenomena, no one can doubt. But what of the questions and answers, plainly and audibly given and received? What of conversations held between certain travelers and the invisible spirits, or unknown beings, that sometimes appear to whole caravans in tangible form? If so many millions believe in the possibility that spirits may clothe themselves with material bodies, behind the curtain of a “medium”, and appear to the circle, why should they reject the same possibility for the elemental spirits of the deserts? This is the “to be or not to be” of Hamlet. If “spirits” can do all that Spiritualists claim for them, why can they not appear equally to the traveler in the wilderness and solitudes?

A recent scientific article in a Russian journal attributes such “spirit-voices”, in the great Gobi desert, to the echo. A very reasonable explanation, if it can only be demonstrated that these voices simply repeat what has been previously uttered by a living person. But when the “superstitious” traveler gets intelligent answers to his questions, this Gobi echo at once shows a very near relationship with the famous echo of the Theatre Porte St. Martin at Paris. “How do you do, sir?”, shouts one of the actors in the play. “Very poorly, my son, thank you. I am getting old, very…very old”, politely answers the echo! 

What incredulous merriment must the superstitious and absurd narratives of Marco Polo, concerning the “supernatural” gifts of certain shark and wild-beast charmers of India, whom he terms Abraiaman, have excited for long centuries. Describing the pearl-fishery of Ceylon, as it was in his time, he says that the merchants are “obliged also to pay those men who charm the great fishes – to prevent them from injuring the divers whilst engaged in seeking pearls under water – one twentieth part of all that they take. These fish-charmers are termed Abraiaman (Brahman?), and their charm holds good for that day only, for at night they dissolve the charm, so that the fishes can work mischief at their will. These Abraiaman know also how to charm beasts and birds, and every living thing.””

H. P. Blavatsky

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