“The magnetists and healers of our century came into direct and open competition with the apostles. The Zouave Jacob, of France, had outrivaled the prophet Elijah, in recalling to life, persons who were seemingly dead; and Alexis, the somnambulist, mentioned by Mr. Wallace in his work, was, by his lucidity, putting to shame apostles, prophets, and the Sibyls of old. Since the burning of the last witch, the great Revolution of France, so elaborately prepared by the league of the secret societies and their clever emissaries, had blown over Europe and awakened terror in the bosom of the clergy.
It had, like a destroying hurricane, swept away in its course those best allies of the Church, the Roman Catholic aristocracy. A sure foundation was now laid, for the right of individual opinion. The world was freed from ecclesiastical tyranny, by opening an unobstructed path to Napoleon the Great, who had given the deathblow to the Inquisition. This great slaughterhouse of the Christian Church – wherein she butchered, in the name of the Lamb, all the sheep arbitrarily declared scurvy – was in ruins, and she found herself left to her own responsibility and resources. So long as the phenomena had appeared only sporadically, she had always felt herself powerful enough to repress the consequences.
Superstition and belief in the Devil were as strong as ever, and Science had not yet dared to publicly measure her forces with those of supernatural Religion. Meanwhile the enemy had slowly but surely gained ground. All at once it broke out with an unexpected violence. “Miracles” began to appear in full daylight and passed from their mystic seclusion into the domain of natural law, where the profane hand of Science was ready to strip off their sacerdotal mask. Still, for a time, the Church held her position, and with the powerful help of superstitious fear, checked the progress of the intruding force.
But, when in succession appeared mesmerists and somnambulists, reproducing the physical and mental phenomenon of ecstasy, hitherto believed to be the special gift of saints; when the passion for the turning tables had reached in France and elsewhere its climax of fury; when the psychography – alleged spiritual – from a simple curiosity had developed itself and settled into an unabated interest, and finally ebbed into religious mysticism; when the echoes aroused by the first raps of Rochester, crossing the oceans, spread until they were re-percussed from nearly every corner of the world – then, and only then, the Latin Church was fully awakened to a sense of danger.”
H. P. Blavatsky