"Mr. ----- [W.H. Terry] lays great stress upon his own so-called mediumship,
and so might I have done whilst I was similarly affected. He says that the fact of different handwritings being
produced through his own automatic writing, is a proof of disembodied
spirits. Surely very poor logic that. Then there is that venerable party who died 100
years ago, who always writes in the same handwriting, and always gives the same name!
For over six years, from the time I was eight or nine years old until I grew up to the
age of fifteen, I had an old spirit (Mrs. T......... L......... (2) she
called herself), who came every night to write through me, in the presence of my father,
aunts and many other people, residents of Tiflis and Saratoff. She gave a detailed account
of her life, stated where she was born (at Revel, Baltic Provinces), how she married, and
gave the history of all her children, including a long and thrilling romance about her
eldest daughter, Z......., and the suicide of her son F........, who also came at times
and indulged in long rhapsodies about his sufferings as a suicide.
The old lady mentioned that she saw God and the Virgin Mary, and a host of angels, two
of which bodiless creatures she introduced to our family, to the great joy of the latter,
and who promised (all this through my handwritings) that they would watch over me,
&c., &c., tout comme il faut.
She even described her own death, and gave the name and address of the Lutheran
pastor who administered to her the last sacrament.
She gave a detailed account of a petition she had presented to the Emperor Nicholas,
and wrote it out verbatim in her own handwriting through my childs hand.
Well, this lasted, as I said, nearly six years - my writings - in her clear
old-fashioned, peculiar handwriting and grammar, in German (a language I had never learnt
to write and could not even speak well) and in Russian - accumulating in these six years
to a heap of MSS that would have filled ten volumes.
In those days this was not called spiritualism, but possession. But as our
family priest was interested in the phenomena, he usually came and sat during our evening
seance with holy water near him, and a goupillon (how do you call it in
English?) and so we were all safe.
Meanwhile one of my uncles had gone to Revel, and had there ascertained that there had
really been such an old lady, the rich Mrs. T........ L........., who, in consequence of
her sons dissolute life, had been ruined and had gone away to some relations in
Norway, where she had died. My uncle also heard that her son was said to have committed
suicide at a small village on the Norway coast (all correct as given by "the
In short all that could be verified, every detail and circumstance, was verified, and
found to be in accordance with my, or rather "the Spirits," account; her
age, number and name of children, chronological details, in fact everything stated.
When my uncle returned to St. Petersburg he desired to ascertain, as the last and
crucial test, whether a petition, such as I had written, had ever been sent to the
Emperor. Owing to his friendship with influential people in the Ministere de
lInterieur, he obtained access to the Archives, and there, as he had the correct
date and year of the petition, and even the number under which it had been filed, he soon
found it, and comparing it with my version sent up to him by my aunt, he found the two to
be facsimiles, even to a remark in pencil written by the late Emperor on the
margin, which I had reproduced as exactly as any engraver or photographer could have done.
Well, was it the genuine spirit of Mrs. L........ who had guided my medium hand? Was it
really the spirit of her son F........ who had produced through me in his
handwriting all those posthumous lamentations and wailings and gushing expressions of
Of course, any spiritualist would feel certain of the fact. What better identification,
or proof of spirit identity; what better demonstration of the survival of man after death,
and of his power to revisit earth and communicate with the living, could be hoped for or
But it was nothing of the kind, and this experience of my own, which hundreds of
persons in Russia can affirm - all my own relations to begin with - constitutes, as you
will see, a most perfect answer to the spiritualists.
About one year after my uncles visit to St. Petersburg, and when the excitement
following this perfect verification had barely subsided, D........, an officer who had
served in my fathers regiment, came to Tiflis. He had known me as a child of hardly
five years old, had played constantly with me, had shown me his family portraits, had
allowed me to ransack his drawers, scatter his letters, &c., and, amongst other
things, had often shown me a miniature upon ivory of an old lady in cap and white curls
and green shawl, saying it was his old aunty, and teazing me, when I said she was old and
ugly, by declaring that one day I should be just as old and ugly.
To go through the whole story would be tedious; to make matters short, let me say at
once that D........ was Mrs. L........s nephew - her sisters son.
Well, he came to see us often (I was 14 then), and one day asked for us children to be
allowed to visit him in the camp. We went with our Governess, and when there I saw upon
his writing-table the old miniature of his aunt, my spirit! I had quite forgotten
that I had ever seen it in my childhood. I only recognized her as the spirit who for
nearly six years had almost nightly visited me and written through me, and I almost
fainted. "It is, it is the spirit," I screamed; "it is Mrs. T........
"Of course, it is, my old aunt; but you dont mean to say that you have
remembered all about your old play thing all these years?" said D........ who knew
nothing about my spirit-writing. "I mean to say I see and have seen your dead aunt,
if she is your aunt, every night for years; she comes to write through me."
"Dead?" he laughed, "But she is not dead. I have only just received
a letter from her from Norway," and he then proceeded to give full details as to
where she was living and all about her.
That same day D......... was let into the secret by my aunts, and told of all that had
transpired through my mediumship. Never was a man more astounded than was D........, and
never were people more taken aback than were my venerable aunts, spiritualists, sans le
It then came out that not only was his aunt not dead, but that her son F........., the
repentant suicide, lesprit soufrant, had only attempted suicide, had been
cured of his wound, and was at the time, (and may be to this day), employed in a counting
house in Berlin.
Well then, who or what was "the intelligence" writing through my hand, giving
such accurate details, dictating correctly every word of her petition, &c., and yet
romancing so readily about her death, his sufferings after death, &c.,
&c.? Clearly despite the full proofs of identity, not the spirits of the worthy
Mrs. T........ L......., or her scapegrace son F......., since both these were still in
the land of the living. "The evil one," said my pious aunts; "the Devil of
course," bluntly said the Priest. Elementaries, some would suppose, but according to
what --------- (3) has told me, it was all the work of my own mind. I
was a delicate child. I had hereditary tendencies to extra-normal exercise of mental
faculties, though, of course, perfectly unconscious then of anything of the kind. Whilst I
was playing with the miniature, the old ladys letters and other things, my fifth
principle [Manas] (call it animal soul, physical intelligence, mind, or what you
will,) was reading and seeing all about them in the astral light, just as does the mind of
a clairvoyant when in sleep; what it so saw and read was faithfully recorded in my dormant
memory, although, a mere babe as I was, I had no consciousness of this.
Years after, some chance circumstance, some trifling association of ideas, again put my
mind in connection with these long forgotten, or rather I should say never hitherto
consciously recognized pictures, and it began one day to reproduce them. Little by little
the mind, following these pictures into the astral light, was dragged as it were into the
current of Mrs. L.......s personal and individual associations and emanations, and
then the mediumistic impulse given, there was nothing to arrest it, and I became a medium,
not for the transmission of messages from the dead, not for the amusement of elementaries,
but for the objective reproduction of what my own mind read and saw in the astral light.
It will be remembered that I was weak and sickly, and that I inherited capacities for
such abnormal exercise of mind - capacities which subsequent training might develop, but
which at that age would have been of no avail, had not feebleness of physique, a looseness
of attachment, if I may so phrase it, between the matter and spirit, of which we are all
composed, abnormally, for the time, developed them. As it was, as I grew up, and gained
health and strength, my mind became as closely prisoned in my physical frame as that of
any other person, and all these phenomena ceased.
How, while so accurate as to so many points, my mind should have led me into killing
both mother and son, and producing such orthodox lamentations by the latter over his
wicked act of self-destruction, may be more difficult to explain.
But from the first all around me were impressed with the belief that the spirit
possessing me must be that of a dead person, and from this probably my mind took the
impression. Who the Lutheran Pastor was who had performed the last sad rite, I never knew
- probably some name I had heard, or seen in some book, in connection with some deathbed
scene, picked out of memory by the mind to fill a gap, in what it knew.
Of the son's attempt at suicide I must have heard in some of the mentally read letters,
or have come across it or mention of it in the astral light, and must have concluded that
death had followed, and since, young though I was, I knew well how sinful suicide was
deemed, it is not difficult to understand how the mind worked out the apparently
inevitable corollary. Of course, in a devout house like ours, God, the Virgin Mary and
Angels were sure to play a part, as these had been ground into my mind from my cradle.
Of all this perception and deception, however, I was utterly unconscious. The fifth
principle worked as it listed; my sixth principle [Buddhi] or spiritual soul or
consciousness was still dormant, and therefore for me the seventh principle [Atman]
at that time may be said not to have existed.
But I am straying from my purpose, which simply was to show that the most perfect
proofs of spirit identity, I mean apparent proofs, are utterly fallacious, and that
spiritualists, who base their theories on these supposed proofs, are truly building their
house upon the sand.
(1) This letter was probably written by Madame Blavatsky to A.O. Hume
in December 1881.
(2) In a letter (dated Jan. 4, 1882) to Madame Blavatsky, A.O. Hume
identified Mrs. T......... L......... as Madame Thekla Lebendorff. He mentioned
HPB's above letter and wrote further: "But your explanation in this case is not
intelligible -- so after trying to make out what you meant - I have entirely
rewritten this out of my inner consciousness - Buddha knows if I have got on the
right scent - I do not - but you will see the proofs [of Hints on Esoteric
Theosophy, No. 1] and you or the Brothers,? must correct any blunders." The
Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, Letter No. 156, p. 306 (online at:
(3) One of the Brothers [Mahatmas].