The Collected Supernatural and Weird Fiction of Helena P. Blavatsky: Ten Short Stories of the Strange and Unusual Including ‘A Bewitched Life’, ‘An Unsolved Mystery’, ‘A Story of the Mystical’, ‘The Blue Lotus’ and Others
The late nineteenth century saw a rise in the number of people who became interested in the occult and among them were a few who became notable practitioners. Aleister Crowley, for example, became infamous as a member of ‘the Golden Dawn’ and founder of the religion ‘Thelema’, and the author of this book, Russian born, Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, became a proponent of Theosophy—a religion of archaic wisdom. Her most famous written work on the subject is ‘The Secret Doctrine’. Fortunately, for enthusiasts of the other worldly and supernatural fiction, Blavatsky utilised her more earnest pursuits to provide inspiration and background for some highly entertaining tales of ghosts, horrors and weird occurrences. Her single small volume of supernatural fiction, ‘Nightmare Tales’, was published in 1892, but there remained a small number of uncollected stories published in magazines of the day. This Leonaur original collects all of these short stories as well as a chapter from her book, ‘From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan’, which has in the past been included in anthologies of supernatural tales, to create the most complete collection of Madam Blavatsky’s fiction ever published.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
From the day of my experience with the magic mirror, I perceived a great change in my whole state, and I attributed it, at first, to the mental depression I had struggled against for so many months. During the day I very often found myself absent from the surrounding scenes, losing sight for several minutes of things and persons. My nights were disturbed, my dreams oppressive, and at times horrible. Good sailor I certainly was; and besides, the weather was unusually fine, the ocean as smooth as a pond. Notwithstanding this, I often felt a strange giddiness, and the familiar faces of my fellow-passengers assumed at such times the most grotesque appearances.
Thus, a young German I used to know well was once suddenly transformed before my eyes into his old father, whom we had laid in the little burial place of the European colony some three years before. We were talking on deck of the defunct and of a certain business arrangement of his, when Max Grunner’s head appeared to me as though it were covered with a strange film. A thick greyish mist surrounded him, and gradually condensing around and upon his healthy countenance, settled suddenly into the grim old head I had myself seen covered with six feet of soil.
On another occasion, as the captain was talking of a Malay thief whom he had helped to secure and lodge in jail, I saw near him the yellow, villainous face of a man answering to his description. I kept silence about such hallucinations; but as they became more and more frequent, I felt very much disturbed, though still attributing them to natural causes, such as I had read about in medical books.
One night I was abruptly wakened by a long and loud cry of distress. It was a woman’s voice, plaintive like that of a child, full of terror and of helpless despair. I awoke with a start to find myself on land, in a strange room. A young girl, almost a child, was desperately struggling against a powerful middle-aged man, who had surprised her in her own room, and during her sleep. Behind the closed and locked door, I saw listening an old woman, whose face, notwithstanding the fiendish expression upon it, seemed familiar to me, and I immediately recognised it: it was the face of the Jewess who had adopted my niece in the dream I had at Kioto. She had received gold to pay for her share in the foul crime, and was now keeping her part of the covenant.... But who was the victim? O horror unutterable! Unspeakable horror! When I realised the situation after coming back to my normal state, I found it was my own child-niece.
But, as in my first vision, I felt in me nothing of the nature of that despair born of affection that fills one’s heart, at the sight of a wrong done to, or a misfortune befalling, those one loves; nothing but a manly indignation in the presence of suffering inflicted upon the weak and the helpless. I rushed, of course, to her rescue, and seized the wanton, brutal beast by the neck. I fastened upon him with powerful grasp, but, the man heeded it not, he seemed not even to feel my hand.
The coward, seeing himself resisted by the girl, lifted his powerful arm, and the thick fist, coming down like a heavy hammer upon the sunny locks, felled the child to the ground. It was with a loud cry of the indignation of a stranger, not with that of a tigress defending her cub, that I sprang upon the lewd beast and sought to throttle him. I then remarked, for the first time, that, a shadow myself, I was grasping but another shadow! . . . .
My loud shrieks and imprecations had awakened the whole steamer. They were attributed to a nightmare. I did not seek to take anyone into my confidence; but, from that day forward, my life became a long series of mental tortures, I could hardly shut my eyes without becoming witness of some horrible deed, some scene of misery, death or crime, whether past, present or even future—as I ascertained later on. It was as though some mocking fiend had taken upon himself the task of making me go through the vision of everything that was bestial, malignant and hopeless, in this world of misery.
No radiant vision of beauty or virtue ever lit with the faintest ray these pictures of awe and wretchedness that I seemed doomed to witness. Scenes of wickedness, of murder, of treachery and of lust fell dismally upon my sight, and I was brought face to face with the vilest results of man’s passions, the most terrible outcome of his material earthly cravings.