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Chapter 18

Meanwhile I had not got any nearer to proving that 'Ahasuerus
dwells in a sea-cavern 'mid the Demonesi,' but one conclusion I
certainly did come to, which I find written out in an old diary
and dated 1887. Madame Blavatsky's 'masters' were 'trance'
personalities, but by 'trance personalities' I meant something
almost as exciting as 'Ahasuerus' himself. Years before I had
found, on a table in the Royal Irish Academy, a pamphlet on
Japanese art, and read there of an animal painter so remarkable
that horses he had painted upon a temple wall had stepped down
after and trampled the neighbouring fields of rice. Somebody had
come to the temple in the early morning, been startled by a shower
of water drops, looked up and seen a painted horse, still wet from
the dew-covered fields, but now 'trembling into stillness.' I
thought that her masters were imaginary forms created by
suggestion, but whether that suggestion came from Madame
Blavatsky's own mind or from some mind, perhaps at a great
distance, I did not know; and I believed that these forms could
pass from Madame Blavatsky's mind to the minds of others, and even
acquire external reality, and that it was even possible that they
talked and wrote. They were born in the imagination, where Blake
had declared that all men live after death, and where 'every man
is king or priest in his own house.' Certainly the house at
Holland Park was a romantic place, where one heard of constant
apparitions and exchanged speculations like those of the middle
ages, and I did not separate myself from it by my own will. The
Secretary, an intelligent and friendly man, asked me to come and
see him, and when I did, complained that I was causing discussion
and disturbance, a certain fanatical hungry face had been noticed
red and tearful, & it was quite plain that I was not in full
agreement with their method or their philosophy. 'I know,' he
said, 'that all these people become dogmatic and fanatical because
they believe what they can never prove; that their withdrawal from
family life is to them a great misfortune; but what are we to do?
We have been told that all spiritual influx into the society will
come to an end in 1897 for exactly one hundred years. Before that
date our fundamental ideas must be spread through the world.' I
knew the doctrine and it had made me wonder why that old woman, or
rather 'the trance personalities' who directed her and were her
genius, insisted upon it, for influx of some kind there must
always be. Did they dread heresy after the death of Madame
Blavatsky, or had they no purpose but the greatest possible
immediate effort?

William Butler Yeats

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