United Lodge of Theosophists, London, UK

“Some Teachings of a German Mystic” Parts 1-3

This forms a series of articles and collations on well-being.
For further advice go to “On psychic and mental well-being” which directs to this & other pages.

Alpine valleys and peaks


translated from the German of J. Kernning

published in The Path, July-August-September 1888

edited by William Q Judge

(PDF version here)


Ruppert was a government justice in the provincial city of E______l. Besides his income he was in possession of a considerable fortune, and therefore, relatively to his colleagues, he lived in handsome style. In the first years of his stay he had married the daughter of an official, and she had borne him three fine children; at the birth of the fourth, which came lifeless into the world, her constitution was so shattered that her life was feared for. She never recovered fully from this; the slightest exertion or excitement affected her nerves, and she often lapsed into a kind of fever that would last several days. The two youngest children, one four and the other five years old, died of a prevailing epidemic in the course of one week. This was a terrible affliction for the parents. The mother took to her bed and was unable to leave it for over three months, and several times her end was believed to be at hand. At last she recovered slowly. Little by little she resumed her share in the household duties, and devoted her entire attention and love to her only remaining child, her daughter Caroline, seven years old.

Nothing for her education was neglected; the mother gave her French lessons herself, and a music-teacher was engaged to come to her daily. He discovered exceptional talents in his pupil, and Caroline made such progress that in her twelfth year she was regarded as a little virtuoso on the piano. She also, besides being thoroughly grounded in the elementary branches, had an excellent knowledge of French; reading, writing, and speaking it.

The father was so delighted with the talents of his daughter that he could not resist the desire to live in the capital, in order to secure for her social advantages that were not to be had in a provincial town. To accomplish this purpose he turned to several of his influential friends. His learning and reputation gave him rank among the prominent men of the country, and therefore his wishes were regarded; six months had not elapsed before his transference to the capital as a member of the superior judicial council.

A new life now began for the family. Ruppert had been brought up in the capital, and felt himself in his native element. He entered with a zest into the current of prevailing enjoyment, and Caroline felt that she was really beginning to live for the first time: she soon attained such a familiarity with the ways of the upper ranks of society that no one would have detected in her a child of the provinces. Her musical talent naturally contributed much to this result; wherever she went she was welcomed and admired. In this way five years quickly passed, in the course of which the young girl developed a more than ordinary beauty, attracting admirers on every hand.

The son of the President of the Council, named Breithof – the father born in the ranks of the middle class, but honored with various orders and a man of great prominence – devoted himself particularly to Caroline. He was, indeed, betrothed to the daughter of a certain Councillor of Legation, but the charms of Caroline were so much greater that he did the utmost to break his engagement and offer heart and hand to his new love.

Caroline’s mother, meanwhile, had in vain been attended by the most skillful physicians of the capital, and was not happy under the new conditions of family life. She was often filled with sorrow when she saw the delight her daughter took in the homage of the world, the poison of pride gradually gaining the ascendency over the girl’s better self. The mother was mostly confined to the sick-room, and could not accompany her child into society, so the father was Caroline’s companion on such occasions.

She often sighed, “I see my child going wrong before my eyes, and cannot reach out my hand to save her!” She did not, indeed, withhold her maternal counsel, but her voice was not strong enough to prevail against the tumult of the world and the desires of the heart: Caroline grew more and more into social favor, and with each new triumph her thirst for distinction increased.

Ruppert himself was indescribably happy meanwhile. When his wife ventured to express her solicitude concerning their daughter, he declared that it was simply the nervous fears of a sick temperament, and he thought of nothing but to give Caroline, his idolized darling, opportunity for new triumphs. For this reason he welcomed the attentions of young Breithof; he already in imagination saw himself and his daughter moving in the highest circles, and pleased himself with the thought of the honor and admiration which would there be hers.

At last the mother was informed of this proposed betrothal. At first she had nothing to say against it; but when she learned that the young man had broken his former engagement on account of her daughter’s charms, she came quickly to a determination. “Breithof can never be your husband,” she said to Caroline; “you must not be the object of another’s envy and hatred. Your heart must not be made heavy by the tears of an unhappy one, betrayed of her right for your sake. I beg, yes, I command you to part from your lover in all kindness, and sever a connection that would make you unavoidably unhappy.”

Caroline heard this command with fear, for the idea of a marriage with Breithof had flattered her pride, to which she had already made too many sacrifices; her heart was also at stake, for love enchained it even more strongly than she had supposed; therefore she now felt extremely unhappy. Her mother observed the struggle going on in the soul of her child, and pictured to her the consequences of such a union. Caroline wept and promised obedience, but hoping secretly for her father’s decision. Things therefore remained as before, but care was taken to conceal the matter from the mother.

But this state of affairs could not last long; Caroline’s own feelings often rebelled as she thought of her duplicity towards her mother. She often set out to speak of it, but her courage failed her; at last her mother learned of the deception and wept bitterly over her child’s disobedience. “I have become a burden to you,” she told Caroline and her father, “but Heaven will soon release you from me, and then you will perceive how you have done me wrong and how well grounded my warnings were.”

The daughter’s heart grew heavy; she could not console her mother with a word. “Sick people,” said the father, “should take care of themselves rather than of other persons.” The poor woman at this felt herself most wretched and forsaken. “The lack of love,” she sighed, “is the most fearful thing that can befall a family, and this, I feel, will bring me to my grave.”

She spoke truly. Her nervous attacks repeated themselves with redoubled force, and after 12 days the physician declared that her case was hopeless. His words suddenly restored peace to the household. Caroline declared that she was her mother’s murderer, and refused to leave the bedside of the dying one day or night. Ruppert also was deeply moved. “Wretched pride!”, he said to himself, “thou scornest humanity, and then leavest us inconsolable in misfortune.” With Caroline he devoted himself to the care of the dying one, but all their pains were fruitless on the fifteenth day she was stricken with paralysis, and her death was expected every moment.

As she felt her end nigh she reached out her hands and said, “Forgive me, I forgive all. You are blameless of my death. If the estrangement that arose between us brought it on, it was but a deserved fate1 that overcame me. I am calm now, and I part from you with the tenderest love and shall think of you in my grave. Forget me not, that I may live in your memory. I ask no promise concerning anything; only one thing I beg of you, – do not take hasty action and thus let to remorse be added the reproach of lack of foresight. Your happiness was my wish during life, and it remains my wish in death; with this assurance to you, I shall, in a few minutes, enter the presence of my judge.”

The last words were scarcely audible as she fell asleep, never again to awaken.

We will pass over the events of the funeral, the distress of the daughter, and the sorrow of the father, and confine ourselves to events in the lives of these two. Caroline reproached herself with having so little heeded her mother’s voice, and determined that in future she would not so blindly obey the voice of the world. This made her look more carefully to the character of her lover, and she soon had occasion to be convinced that his feelings were not of such an earnest nature as to last through life. The charms of a wealthy young lady fascinated him, and with Caroline he repeated the experience of his first betrothal. This pained her deeply, and thenceforth she turned all her thoughts to the memory of her mother. The perfidy of young Breithof so affected Caroline’s father that he cursed the day on which he had removed to the capital. A change came over his household that made it the abode of silence, sorrow, and despondency. All his friends avoided him, and he lived with Caroline a life so retired in the populous city that soon his name was no more heard in the circles of society.

A year passed by, and a remarkable change came over Caroline. She became timid and shy, avoiding the sight of people, and giving herself up to a pensiveness that made her insensible to all external impressions.2 As her father urged her to tell the cause of her conduct, she said, “I know not how it is with me; I often feel as if benumbed, and then again so excited that the merest trifle startles me. Within me a fire seems to be raging, and at night I hear, when I lie sleepless, noises and voices around me that set my nerves a-quivering and make me feel as if I were in a violent fever.”

Her father became deeply concerned on hearing this. He consulted the physician, who held the trouble for somnambulism, but soon observed that entirely other factors were at the bottom of the malady. He prescribed everything that seemed advisable, but in vain. The abnormal condition remained, and the nightly goings-on appeared to increase.

Caroline’s illness now underwent a wonderful change; what she had formerly only felt and heard appeared visibly to her. The first occurrence of this kind was on April 4th. Towards evening, as twilight was coming on, she sat in her chamber and thought of the too early death of her mother and her own life’s happiness destroyed; all at once there arose a great noise in the room as if the walls were cracking, and tables and chairs moved from their places. She was stricken with fear; she looked about her, and behold! a thick-set man, with brownish face and wild gestures, appeared before her and gazed upon her with fiery eyes. She sought to flee, but for horror she could not move from the spot. The man then spoke. “Why do you disturb me? Let the dead rest, and live joyfully with the living!” She tried to answer but could not utter a word; and so gave herself over to her fate, fearful that her last moment had come. At last the figure disappeared, a thick cloud gathering before it. Caroline gradually recovered from her fright and rang for a light; when this came she looked carefully all about the room for the cause of the noise and the apparition, but could not discover the slightest trace.

The next day, and the next, the same man appeared in similar circumstances, and she could only rid herself of him by having the presence of mind to ring for a light. Enraged by this, he suddenly stepped before her and said, “Do not stir, or you will pay for it! From this time forth you must lend me your mouth, and I will tell people things that will astonish them.” As he said this, a shudder passed over her whole being, and it seemed to her as if he had taken entire possession of her. When it grew dark, lights were brought and she came again to her senses.

The next day she told her father what had happened. All at once the floor gave forth a cracking noise, audible, however, only to her. She became frightened and said, “He is coming now!” Her father seized her hand and said, “Be calm! I am with you.” “You are just the right one, too!” were the words that came from Caroline’s mouth, but in a rough tone. “My child,” cried the astonished father, “recollect yourself, and play no jest with me!” “Jest with you!”, was the answer, “who could do that? you are too stupid!”

Ruppert looked at his daughter as if paralyzed, and could scarcely say, “If it is you, Caroline, who are speaking now, beware of your sin! If another power is ruling you, then I know only that God is punishing me fearfully!”

The voice continued its vituperations against both father and daughter; after an hour it ceased, and Caroline was so weak that she had to seek rest. She now lost all courage, and a trustworthy person was secured for her service, to stay with her night and day.

The summer came. Following the doctor’s advice, Ruppert went to a pleasure-resort with his daughter to undertake a cure from the waters and divert her with new society, but all without success.

On August 5th, they having returned home, a new circumstance occurred which they hardly knew whether to take for an improvement or an increase of the evil. Caroline was in a garden near the city with her companion, and all at once said to her, “O dear! what can have happened? I can see the stars by daylight.”

Her companion was frightened, and, fearing a return of the obsession condition, proposed to go home. They left the garden together, but Caroline on the way home could still see the stars, and even saw them in the house through the ceiling.

“What can be the matter?” she sighed. “Wherefore these apparitions, if not for good? Ah, I daily see, more and more, that I have sinned against my mother. Why was I not true to her teaching? Why did I allow the vanities of the world to blind me?”

“Be still!”, suddenly called the voice of the bad spirit, “or I will let you have no more peace. The stars which you see are wandering-lights of your brain; trust them not or tremble!”

After this Caroline scarcely ventured to speak; indeed she even became fearful of her own thoughts, for often the slightest idea aroused the demon and it would break out into cursing loudly. But the stars did not forsake her, and she looked unceasingly for their shimmer in order to receive a stimulus therefrom. One time when their glittering was particularly clear, a sort of cloud formed itself about one of them, the star transformed itself into eyes, and at last into a very lovely face which appeared to offer her consolation and hope: she spread out her arms towards it, but in the same moment it disappeared.

She sought to express her joy over this manifestation, but suddenly the rough spirit spoke from within her and made bitter reproaches. In the course of time Caroline had learned to be less fearful of this monster, and was also not so weakened by its influence. Since the appearance of the stars and that lovely face, she gained still more courage and decided not to pay so much attention to the rough fellow in future, but to act according to her own judgment and trust wholly to the lovely vision.

At this decision the bad spirit made a powerful noise. A confusion arose as if the house would tumble down, but Caroline said, “I have got used to your actions and will not let myself be influenced by them.” Thereupon he again took possession of her mouth and broke out in loud curses.

In the forenoon of Sept. 7th Caroline again saw the lovely figure coming out of a cloud. She did not let her eyes leave it for a moment, and listened intently that she might hear if it said anything; at last she seemed to hear these words, “Have heed, I am taking possession of you!” Thereupon she felt her heart tenderly moved; she felt so well that she shed grateful tears. The lovely spirit now took possession of her mouth, and spoke with a soft and pleasant voice consoling and elevating words.

“Maintain me within thyself,” it spoke from Caroline’s mouth, “and let me not be driven out by that bad spirit that is endeavoring to drag thee down into the depths.” She had scarcely spoken this when the bad spirit began to stir, and the heart and the mouth of the afflicted one appeared to be the battle-fields upon which the two spirits within her had established themselves and entered upon a conflict. She felt this, and at last she spoke with resignation, “As God will! Him will I trust and never forsake him.”3


from the German of J. Kernning

Translated for THE PATH

Snow on winter lake, c. Jesamine Bartlett

Ruppert, who had exhausted all means to help his daughter, no longer tormented himself with new remedies; he did, indeed, for her well-being, what was in his power, but left her undisturbed in her unfortunate condition. “It is a visitation from God,” he said, “and as such we must bear it patiently until He sends us help.” He allowed upright people, and personal friends, to visit his daughter, for he observed that a quiet company had a good influence upon her, and even when the spirits talked, such visits suffered no interruption from that cause, since caution carried too far could not favorably affect public opinion, widespread curiosity having been aroused.

One time the Court Councillor Düprecht, with his wife and daughter, was spending the evening with the Rupperts: Düprecht had long been desirous of seeing something of the strange phenomena of which he had often heard. As he had always been on a most friendly footing with the family, he talked in the most unconstrained way with Caroline about her affliction, and gave it as his opinion that the spirits should be remanded to the realm where they belong. He had hardly spoken these words when her face darkened, the pupils of her eyes contracted, and the voice of the spiteful spirit was heard from her mouth. What is that you are saying? you fool of a Court Councillor,” it exclaimed.

“A little more courteous, I beg of you!” remarked that gentleman.

“Courteous to you, my vassal?” exclaimed the spirit.

“Hardly yet has it come to that!”, the guest replied.

“So you think, but I know better!”, the demon retorted.

“The fellow will not admit definitions into the question, he feels so certain of his case,” laughed the Councillor.

“You are my slave, and indeed so much so that you are not aware of your condition. My mate dwells within you, and is so certain of his control that he does not consider it worth while to make you aware of his existence.”

“But I know it now, for you have told me.”

“Indeed you know it now, but you do not feel it yet, and what is it to know a thing and not feel it? Hahaha! But only wait, when you are dead you will make our acquaintance, and we shall have some sport at your expense!”

The Councillor turned pale at these words. He thought, if the evil one talked in that way what would the good ones say of him, and he cared to pursue his interrogations no further.

“Can we not hear something from the good spirit also?” asked the Councillor’s daughter. The bad spirit answered: “So long as company of our own kind is present, it cannot approach.” This answer frightened the Councillor’s wife, and she begged her daughter to ask no more questions.

One afternoon Caroline received a visit from an old friend to her mother, who had not been there before since her bereavement on account of the painful memories that would be called up. She expressed the most sincere sympathy for her friend’s afflicted child and begged her to confide in her if any secret trouble was burdening her, as if she had a second mother. Caroline wept at these words; but just as she was about to speak, the pupils of her eyes turned inwards and the pleasant voice of the good spirit was heard in the words, “Help her to strengthen my abiding within her!” Caroline then became violently agitated, and before she could compose herself there proceeded in rough tones from her mouth, “Depart, and leave me in peace!”

The lady was horrified. When Caroline recovered herself, she said, “You see the fate that clouds my life. Solitude is my lot; people fear me in my condition and regard me as a being that belongs no more amongst them. Were I only in the grave with my mother!”

“Do not fear,” said her friend; “to witness your condition has pained and surprised me, but it has not frightened me away from you. Trust in me; I will not forsake you, and will visit you daily, whatever may happen around you.”

The lady remained the whole afternoon and a part of the evening. Several times she had opportunity to hear the remarks of both spirits. The good one appeared to esteem her, but the bad one showed an aversion from her. She paid no heed to it, however. Assuring Caroline of her sincerest sympathy, she promised to write to a relative, an inspector of mines, who had often afforded relief in such cases. She kept her word and wrote the following day. Her kinsman replied that, as soon as his business would permit, he would come to the capital and see what he could do for the afflicted one. Judging by what he learned from the letter to him, he felt the highest hopes of restoring her completely to health.

Besides talking as we have seen, the spirit worked all sorts of mischief throughout the house. The doors were often all thrown open, clothing from the closets was found thrown into the garden, and garden-tools were transferred to the closets. Ruppert was once summoned in haste to an audience at the palace and could not find his uniform; therefore he was forced to go without and excuse himself on the ground of the confusion reigning in his house. He had hardly returned when his clothing was found in the garret where the washing was hung to dry. Another time when the cook went into the kitchen she found all the utensils gone. She made an outcry, believing that a thief had been there in the night. Afterwards all the pots, kettles, etc., were found nicely heaped together in the woodshed. One morning when the cook went down cellar she saw a gleaming flame, and ran screaming to her master as if the ghost which she believed to have seen there were at her heels. Relating the cause of her terror, the cellar was examined and a fire of split wood was found burning in a place where there would be no danger from it. A fearful tumult arose in the house; the servants declared that they would remain in the place no longer, and the landlord gave Ruppert notice to quit, since he did not care to have his property thus endangered. This occurrence occasioned consternation, and Ruppert exclaimed, “If death would only free my daughter from an unhappy existence, it would be fortunate for us both!”

The lady who had so sincerely befriended Caroline heard of this affair and came at once to learn about it. She begged them to wait patiently until her cousin, the inspector of mines, should come, and he would surely set everything to rights. She therefore wrote a second time, begging him to hasten his coming.

Both of the obsessing spirits had been clamoring for release for a long time. The gentle one complained bitterly of the other that he had stolen her peace, had robbed her of her faith, and now prevented her entrance to Paradise. In his lifetime he had been a usurer, had accumulated much treasure and buried it in the cellar of the house where they were living; so long as the treasure was not found, she could not be rid of his persecutions. The wild spirit insisted on the eviction of his uncongenial companion; not until he had sole control could he lay aside his roughness and attain true happiness. It was Caroline who suffered from these contentions and often found herself in most disagreeable situations, for when she promised the gentle spirit anything, the other was enraged, and when she promised help to the other the former began to mourn so that her eyes were flooded with tears.

The story of the treasure in the cellar leaked out, and the owner of the house, who was reputed over-fond of money was said to have made an attempt to find it, but without success. The wild spirit who knew all that was going on within and without the house, made some merry remarks about it, and several people in the building said that they found some freshly dug earth in the cellar.

Both spirits had the gift of prediction. The bad one rejoiced or was enraged over coming visits, according to their nature. The gentle one could also give the names of the pious old women who were coming, from whom it would draw nourishment with the utterance of their religious commonplaces. They also participated in the affairs of the house and spoke of future events as others would of the news of the day. This of course heightened the interest felt in these ghostly beings, and people of all classes came to beseech interviews and seek advice concerning their own affairs and proposed undertakings.

One time a wealthy landholder, an old acquaintance of Ruppert, came with his wife and daughter to consult concerning a proposed marriage of the last-named. The bad spirit said, “Marry the fellow, for you are not fit to live singly.” Said the gentle spirit, “First consult the voice of Heaven.” Caroline, however, said in her natural voice, “If you have the blessing of your parents, follow the inclination of your own heart.” It happened that each of the three received the answer in a different voice. The rough spirit addressed the father, the gentle one the mother, and the daughter’s questions were answered by Caroline.

At last Mohrland, the inspector of mines, made his appearance. The spirits who had known of all other visits in advance, appeared to have had no presentiment of Mohrland’s coming, and they maintained a remarkable quietness as he took Caroline’s hand and asked concerning her condition. She gave a full account of herself without the usual interruptions, and the power of the spirits appeared to be broken in his presence. Ruppert was pleased at this, and gained new hope. Mohrland, however, said that the trouble lay deeper than he had supposed, for the quietness of the spirits was by no means weakness, but cunning, in order to deceive him. He requested that, besides the father, there should be another witness of his treatment of the case whose uprightness could be depended upon, in case evil interpretations should be put upon his method.

Ruppert proposed his family physician, who had proven a true friend and sincere sympathizer in their affliction. Mohrland agreed to this, and promised to begin his treatment the next morning. The physician came. Ruppert took him to Mohrland’s room to make the two acquainted and give them an opportunity for consultation. Mohrland greeted the physician with the words, I am glad to meet a man of character like yourself. What we are about to undertake is unusual, since the true activity of the human powers is too little known and mostly defectively guided. To have intercourse with spiritual beings we must know them ourselves and be conversant with their nature. In the case before us ordinary means can effect nothing; the free spiritual force must be applied and the good be separated from the evil. Do not expect, then, that I shall conjure up spirits or exorcize devils; I have only come to restore the lost equilibrium of a human being, an equilibrium which has been lost through violent retirement from the world and the uncontrolled awakening of the inner life. The two spirits manifesting themselves in the girl are not beings separate from her; they are part of her nature. Abnormal desires, suppressed passions, a tortured conscience, and other extraordinary things have developed themselves within her and assumed shapes which live in her nature and gain the control of all her thoughts, wishes, and actions. She has been overcome in a conflict that is strange to her: it is our task to free her from the oppression and restore her natural self.”

The physician replied, “Material remedies have been exhausted, and if help is possible, it can only come from your plan of looking to the psychical aspect of the patient, and I congratulate myself on being able to witness a method of treatment that regards spiritual force as the means for healing a shattered nature.”

“I pray that God may give you strength,” said Ruppert, “to free my daughter from an affliction worse than any disease, affecting, as it does, the inmost forces of life, and destroying both body and soul.”

Betaking themselves to Caroline, no trace of the obsessing spirits showed itself for a quarter of an hour. At last Mohrland began and said, “Now, you wild Kobold, why are you so silent in my presence? Answer, I command you!” Caroline’s eyes thereupon showed the customary distortion, and the spirit seemed straining to speak, but hardly was able to utter in a hoarse tone, “Leave me alone!”

Mohrland then addressed the gentle spirit, saying, “You also appear to seek concealment! Wherefore so shy of me?”

The answer came in a flute-like loveliness of tone, “You may not know me in my heaven.”

“You are right in that,” replied Mohrland, “your heaven is not entirely pleasing to me; it is the creation of an affectedly pious, but not devout, nature.” The spirit sighed, and Caroline sat in silence, with distorted eyes.

“Caroline!” cried the Adept, “are you sleeping?”

She stirred convulsively. “Caroline!” he repeated, “awake and answer!” The spirits appeared to be struggling to speak; he seized a cloth that lay near by, threw it over the girl’s head and held it fast under the chin, saying, “Silence! or I strangle you! It is she I wish to hear from, not you. Caroline, answer me, I command you!” She made a motion with the hands, as if endeavoring to remove the cloth. Mohrland drew it away, and Caroline gazed about her as if aroused from a deep sleep. “Good day, my child!” said Mohrland. “Are you rid of your undesirable companions?”

“I feel that I am free!” exclaimed Caroline.

“For how long?”

“I do not know.”

“Why should you not know that, since you are mistress of your own house?”

“But I have lost my mastery.”

“You must regain it.”

“I am not strong enough for that.”

“I will aid you. Will you accept me as your ally?”

“Most gladly.”

“Then listen to my conditions. Study your enemy, that you may learn his weak points and so come off victorious.”

“How can I do that?”

“By not permitting one of them to rule you. Neither one nor the other is good, for both are only excrescences of your own life. Seek your true self, and then you will find that which you can obey without danger.”4

“I comprehend, indeed, what you mean, but I have not the power to manifest myself to my adversary.”

“Then you must learn obedience.”

“I am willing; what shall I do?”

“Say ‘I’ persistently. Your ego is oppressed by other powers; rid yourself of them, and you are well again.”

“May heaven grant it!”

“Have courage and confidence! Follow my instruction and you shall see that I, supported by your better nature, will soon restore peace for you. When I come tomorrow, show yourself an obedient disciple.”

With a grasp of the hand, he took his departure. Ruppert and the physician followed without a word. Caroline was overcome by an unusual sleepiness, and slumbered nearly all day. The next morning the physician appeared punctually at nine o’clock to witness the progress of Mohrland’s treatment, and the two went with Ruppert to Caroline’s room. They found her in an agitated state. Her two obsessing guests appeared to have formed an alliance, in order to be able to resist their enemy. At the slightest allusion to Caroline’s condition the wild spirit answered violently and threatened Mohrland. Even the gentle spirit interjected words of displeasure in melodious tones. Mohrland addressed Caroline in name, as on the day before. When, however, she attempted to speak, it appeared as if some one were seizing her by the throat. He touched her neck with his thumb, and therewith she gained strength to speak. Said Mohrland: “Has Caroline not yet the courage to obey me?”

“Had I the strength, I would have the courage also,” she replied.

“The strength lies within you,” said he.

“I cannot find it, and know not how to seek it.”

“The spirit of man is a unity. You have sub-divided your forces, and therefore you are unable to maintain the conflict. Collect them under one standard, under the manifestation of the Self that speaks in your heart, and then you are free.”5

Caroline listened with close attention. Her breast rose and fell at his words. Laying his hand upon her back he proceeded: “You have forsaken the altar of your life and fled to the dome. The heart is the place where our nature gains certainty and freedom; you must learn again to speak and feel there, else there is no help for you. The head is the last instance of our activity; not until our nature has had experiences of friendship and love may the head reflect upon them. If we seek results of our thoughts before we have had the experience, phantoms will come into being which take root, bud, flourish, and at last entirely envelop us. Withdraw from the head the activity of your thoughts, sink sight, hearing, smell, and taste down into the body, permit the invisible, spiritual pores to regain their natural tendency and not be directed upwards, and then you will see what a force will be developed therefrom, and how according to nature we give ourselves freedom and attain the means to maintain it.”

It appeared as though she not only heard each one of his words, but also applied them at once in practice. She breathed several times from the depths other heart and, as he ceased speaking, she responded, “You have reached the root of my malady, and now I plainly feel that it can be cured. But it will cost me pain, – therefore stand by me!”

Mohrland took her hand and proceeded: “You are an obedient daughter, and therefore we will at once make the effort of vigorous opposition to the enemy. Your house is undermined, its foundation shaken, therefore we must stand strongly upon our feet and rob the enemy of his hope of overthrowing us. Have you courage to step bravely forward?”

Caroline rose, confronted Mohrland, and said: “Here I stand.”

“Well, then,” he proceeded, “Let the spirits show themselves.” All were attention, but Caroline stood calmly. “Have you grown dumb?” said Mohrland. Caroline’s eyes began to turn, but he no sooner observed this than he cried, “Stand firm!” At the same time he drew her arms down to her sides and bade her not to allow the corners of her mouth to turn upwards. It succeeded, for her eyes resumed their natural appearance and Caroline had gained the first victory over her enemies, Mohrland praised her and said: “Practice in standing firmly on your feet and in thinking ‘I’ in your heart; then we shall soon gain our end.”

He withdrew with his companions. The physician could not express sufficient admiration for the proceeding, and begged to have the method explained to him, but Mohrland replied: “I think that all will be made plain to you in the course of the treatment.”


from the German of J. Kernning

Translated for THE PATH


“Rose Sleeves” by Kahlil Gibran, 1911

The next day, when Mohrland came with the others, Caroline was calm. “How have you slept?” he asked. “The night passed fairly well, only I often felt a strong burning sensation in my feet which would not permit me to sleep.”

“It is well,” he remarked; “the root of your true life is taking hold; that is a good sign.” He laid his hand upon her back and commanded the spirits to manifest themselves. Caroline’s eyes immediately began to turn inwards, the gentle spirit sighed and the rough one began to curse. Mohrland asked in severe tones: “You evil excrescence, how much longer do you purpose to dwell in this body?”

“So long as I choose!” was the reply.

“Very well then you shall choose to sink into yourself, and, robbed of all your strength, serve instead of rule. You are one of the subordinate powers of Caroline; wherefore, then, are you so foolish as to rage against yourself? If you ruin her, then you destroy yourself in that act: but if she regains her true self, then you two can be united in her, and so go the way of life.”

“Bah!” was the answer to this.

Mohrland continued: “Choose now! Either do what I say, or I cut you loose from her just as the surgeon cuts a diseased member from the body and casts it away. You are a diseased portion of her life, and you have the choice of but two ways, either to become restored to health or to be amputated.

The spirit gave vent to some howling tones and then became silent. “My dear child,” said Mohrland, addressing Caroline, “you have maintained the conflict beyond my expectation! Keep on as you have begun, and soon all will be well. Now bear in mind these additional instructions: I will leave you for four weeks; remain steadfast during this time. The spirits will often attempt to regain their control; therefore be on your guard. Teach your eyes humility, – that is, direct their gaze downwards, that your brain may not be blinded by their rays. Hold your right hand two inches below your stomach and pray to God for grace. Let grace be your prayer. ‘Give grace to thy handmaiden, thou great God!’ Let this be your unceasing thought; without movements, without stirring your lips, speaking only within, standing firmly upon your feet, seeking from there the throne in your heart;6 and then let us see if, four weeks hence, we do lot sing songs of praise together.”

Caroline made trial at once of the prescribed prayer and the attitude. The rough spirit attempted to manifest himself. Mohrland threatened him and said: “I command you to be still, and I tell you that if these spookish pranks in the house are not stopped and Caroline does not gain the rest for which she is striving, then you must he cast out as the Bible directs.” “Oh!” sounded in a hollow tone from the mouth of the afflicted girl, and repose was at once restored to her face and her soul.

Mohrland left the room with the others. Caroline proceeded to practice her task, but was so overpowered by sleep that she felt compelled to recline on the lounge. The physician had many things in mind about which he desired enlightenment, and so he turned to Mohrland:

“Allow me but two questions before you leave us. You appear to work simply upon the members and take no heed of the mind, the intellect, of your patient. Should she not, above all, learn to think aright?”

“How can she,” was the answer, “so long as the life, out of which grows the tree of thought, is in disorder?”

“It sounds strangely, but, regarded more closely, I must say that it is the only true way. The plant cannot flourish without the right soil; the contrary, it gradually perishes. But whence do the obsessing spirits gain power to effect such disorder in the house?”

“Through the person in whose possession they are. They compel and impel that person to actions that are often very difficult and remarkable, so that the average man concludes that it is the work of spirit hands, whereas everything is wrought by the person controlled by them.”

“But what causes them to do it?” inquired the physician.

Mohrland responded: “Ask the somnambulist wherefore he wanders and often seeks the most dangerous places. The spirit compels him and gives him the requisite skill. It knows the time when it can use its instrument without the consciousness of the latter, and its will must be obeyed without the instruments knowing it or reflecting about it. Believe me! All things exist within man, not without, and in the event of the most horrible ghostly doings, even their most manifold manifestations, only they are enabled to see them, to witness their doings, whose spiritual powers have been excited, and who, for the time-being, are in a kind of dream or clairvoyant condition.”

“If that were the case, then man has only to study himself in order to become cognizant of all phenomena peculiar to his kind, and thereby attain the highest knowledge.”

“Do you believe that any other way is possible?” asked Mohrland. Must you, in order to know a certain species of tree, analyze all the individuals of that species? To be sure not; one suffices. This, however, must be examined from root to crown, from the surface of the bark to the center of the pith, and thereby knowledge of the entire species is gained. What is done beyond this consists simply in the comparison of one with another, a process which is impossible without the thorough knowledge of one example, but which, without that knowledge, is attended with difficulty.”

“But the knowledge of man is something different from a knowledge of plants?”

“To be sure,” said Mohrland, “in so far as man is a different being: but the knowledge can be attained after the above method. In every individual are found all the characters of the species; each is but a repetition of the other; and we must therefore limit ourselves to the study of that unit which is given us to study. Man is not lord of another, but only of himself, and therefore he can only know others through himself. The matter is as plain as that two and two make four. If, however, we do not perceive this truth so easily as we should, it comes from the custom which we have acquired of looking to others instead of to ourselves; others, however, show us only what they choose to show, and therefore lead us to error instead of truth.”

“I comprehend,” said the physician, “and see that you are right; indeed, must be right if the investigation of human nature is, after all, possible.”

“It is possible; for that, in place of proof, you have first my word. But I now must prepare to go. I leave the patient in your charge. Bodily ills, pains in the teeth and ears, will appear, but undertake no radical cure and content yourself with alleviating treatment.”

Mohrland departed the same day. Caroline was pretty free from the trouble of her ghostly guests the first day. She practiced the exercises prescribed by Mohrland, and in the course of a fortnight she detected their effect; her heart gained in strength, she became more receptive of external life, but a roaring sound began to be heard in her ears, and violent pains coursed through her lower jaw as though fire were raging there. The spirits now began to bestir themselves again, but in spite of her suffering she succeeded for the most part in resisting their attacks. At night her sleep became interrupted by an audible knocking and other noises. Several times she was driven from her bed to walk in her sleep. But the spirits had to a great degree lost their old-time foresight, for Caroline’s sleep-walking was observed by various other persons who witnessed her do some most remarkable things. When asked concerning these on the mornings following, she remembered nothing whatever of what she had done.

“Mohrland is right,” said the physician after several such occurrences, “I now believe that in these matters he possesses more knowledge than we, with our vague systems, and that his doctrine, to seek all things within ourselves, is founded upon Nature.”

The maladies predicted by Mohrland occurred exactly as he had said, and with much intensity. The physician followed his directions, and when Mohrland returned he found him in attendance on the patient, prescribing some remedies for the alleviation of her pain.

“I see,” said Mohrland, “that my patient has been rightly occupied, else the Doctor would not be with her. What are the unbidden guests about? Are they not yet conquered?” The physician recounted what had happened during his absence.

“Good,” remarked Mohrland, “we are near the attainment of our purpose.” He took Caroline’s hand and asked her several questions which she answered unhesitatingly and intelligently. The voice of the gentle spirit had almost entirely lost itself in that of Caroline, uniting with her natural tones. The rude spirit, on the other hand, would not renounce his roughness; therefore Mohrland addressed him threateningly and promised him a miserable end. “You are unworthy to remain in life,” said he; “therefore I bid you to abandon this house in which you have usurped a place and prepared your own doom. From this time forth all sustenance will be withdrawn from you; you shall not command a single tone or glance or movement, and when, hungering and thirsting, you can no longer contain yourself, then leave us in peace and perish in the night out of which you came!”

The spirit made all possible endeavors to resist these commands, but Mohrland looked his patient steadily in his eye, seized both her hands, and inspired her with spiritual forces wherever they might enter.

“The throne is re-established,” said he, with solemnity, “and there is nothing lacking but to ascend it. Dear daughter, have courage for but a little while, and you shall see what a reward will be yours! You have learned to stand, and now you must strive to keep your place. The power thereto resides in the hands. From the finger-points proceed life-flames hich nothing that is impure can resist; seek the life that is there, and, wherever anything that can harm you manifests itself, use that force as a weapon. That which I bid you learn, continue to practice; and soon your better life will have gained the victory.”

Caroline listened attentively, and while he was speaking she felt that her hands and fingers were becoming alive. She made at once several trials, but thereby she became so fatigued that in the presence of Mohrland and the physician she fell into a slumber. The former exclaimed: “You put men to shame; in a brief time you have acquired a power that astonishes me. In a few weeks you will have proceeded so far that you will have no need of my aid, but will be able to help yourself and bring your powers to ripeness.”

It happened as he had said. Caroline had indeed many struggles to withstand; pains of all kinds raged throughout her body and in her bones, but she remained steadfast and said, “I will either live rightly, or not at all.” Two months passed, and one evening she felt the desire to be alone that she might be left to exercise her inner activity. She suddenly felt herself so seized that the floor seemed to sway beneath her feet. She remained firm and thought, “It is, perhaps, the crisis; let all things leave me that belong not to my true being.” The struggle became more violent, and at last it seemed that something loosened itself from her body and vanished in the darkness. Suddenly she felt herself growing so light that it seemed as if she had the power to rise in the air. “O Grace!”, she exclaimed, “thou, art ever gracious; I feel that thou hast rid me of my ill!”

The next morning she felt, without being unwell, very much weakened. “I feel so young,” she said, “that I scarcely venture to stand upon my feet.” This condition lasted for eight days; at last she felt herself strong again, and for the first time she went about the house in perfect health.

Mohrland, who in the meantime had been absent for two months, drove up before the house. She observed him before the carriage came around the corner, and hastened to the door to welcome him. He saw her, and laid his hand upon his heart to thank her. She lifted her hands toward heaven and said, “There is your reward; it is beyond human power to give adequate return!”

“Dear child!” he said, stepping from the carriage, “the joy that you give me is beyond description!”

“I am indeed your daughter,” she responded, “for you have given me not only life, but a new existence in God. I am free from all my foes, and have the light of heaven within me.”

Mohrland remained a few weeks with Ruppert to strengthen Caroline for the future and instruct her how to recognize in its purest light the inner life that she had gained.

One forenoon, as she was engaged in spiritual contemplation, she observed that all the former illusory pictures that she had seen while in such a state appeared either very dimly or not at all. Among these appearances, however, there took shape the image of her mother and absorbed all the rest into itself. She remained long gazing upon it, and when Mohrland and the physician came to visit her she informed them of this occurrence. Mohrland exclaimed, “We have now attained our end. You have seen your ego, your ‘Self,’ in its origin, in the image of your mother; we may now rejoice and praise the wonders or the Creator.”

The physician, who had watched the entire course of Mohrland’s treatment, said, “Are these miracles that I have seen, or is this condition so in accordance with Nature that everyone can attain it and again behold himself in his original ego?”

Mohrland reached him his hand and replied: “You have, by your patience and fidelity, acquired a right to an explanation of this apparent enigma. Therefore listen:

“All religions, know you, have their source in an original state which man has forsaken and shall seek again. The Christian must suffer, must die on the cross, must be resurrected, and must gain the Kingdom. The Adamites are expelled from Paradise, and must learn with spiritual forces to make harmless the flaming sword that defends the entrance.” The Egyptians cause mortals to seek the ways of life that lead out from the labyrinth. For the Greeks, Cerberus stood in the way of their entrance into Elysium. If you will consider this closely, you will find in nearly all the experiences of our patient the aforementioned conflicts; particularly, however, is the figure of Cerberus made clear by the violent spirit. Universally there are obstacles to the entrance into our real life, and so long as we are not made aware of all these, do not struggle with them and conquer them, whatever their nature may be – whether rude or gentle, kindly or revengeful, white or black, – we are still in the labyrinth, we are yet outside of Paradise, we are not in the Kingdom of Heaven, and without hope of the bliss that is promised to the warrior and victor.”

“Can I also gain entrance into the better life as certainly as it has been vouchsafed in the case of Caroline?” asked the physician.

“Why not?” replied Mohrland. “The powers thereto are given, and it were a pity for you to remain outside the house. Therefore seek the entrance, and, even though it may somewhat sharply pain the older man whose being has been warped with years, nevertheless, think that no one not excepting the dweller in sin, passes through this earthly life without pain. Then why should one not endure to pass through a few storms in order to gain the certainty of life?”

The physician grasped his hand and said, “I will find the entrance, or live no more. Support me when I falter, come to my aid, as you have to that of our patient, with spiritual powers and instruction.”

He kept his word, and learned to know himself. Caroline continued to improve from day to day, and developed a rare purity of soul; she became so certain of right speech and action that she was able to give true counsel to all who sought her help, and she prepared her father for such a genial old age that in his last days of his life he said, “My daughter has called me to a genuine existence, and therein has shown me a happiness that is a part of ourselves and that can never deceive or forsake us.”


Courtesy of archive.org; edited and reformatted to the original texts. May  2020.


1. The series “From Sensitive to Initiate” was the fifth installment of the serialisation “Some Teachings of a German Mystic” taken from the writings of J. Kernning.

This note was added to the entry for first installment “Dreams and the Inner Life”:

“These selections are translated from a work of Kernning’s called “Paths to the Immortal” (Wege zur Unsterblichkeit). Kernning’s works, giving practical hints for the attainment of the ends which are the aim of all true Theosophists, were written thirty years ago and more, and show that the spirit of the Rosicrucians, though the world has heard little of its activity in the land where the brotherhood was most prominent in the middle ages, is today by no means dead.”

published in The Path, May 1887

2. It is assumed the six footnotes where added by the editor of the Path, who was W. Q. Judge or a co-editor working under his direction.

3. A useful commentary was added by W. Q. Judge in the month following when Part 3 concluded this series. It is reproduced below, and although it is brief it shows the value he placed on this genuine and beneficent occult knowledge.


commentary by William Q Judge, Path, October 1888

W. Q. Judge (1851-1896)
W. Q. Judge (1851-1896)

IN the last three numbers of the PATH we have given a story by the German Mystic Kernning of the experiences of a sensitive. The story is called advisedly “From Sensitive to Initiate.” We did not think that it was intended to show what the final initiation is, but only one of the many initiations we have to undergo in our passage through matter. The trials of Caroline illustrate those we all have, whether we know them as such or not. She had a presence to annoy her; we, although not sensitive as she was, have within us influences and potential presences that affect us just as much; they cause us to have bias this way or that, to be at times clouded in our estimate of what is the true course or the true view to take, and, like her, so long as we do not recognise the cause of the clouds, we will be unable to dissipate them. But Kernning was a theosophist, and one of those men who knew the truth in theory and at the same time were able to make a practical application of what they knew. There are many cases today in which sensitive people do just what Caroline did and have “presences” to annoy them; but how many of our theosophists or spiritualists would be able to cast the supposed obsesser out, as Mohrland did in the story? They can be counted on one hand. The simplicity with which Kernning wrote should not blind us to the value of his work. In the preceding articles by him which we have from time to time given, there is much to be learned by those who look below the surface. We therefore add the following as a note to the last story in order to try to show its theosophic meaning.

The conversation about “Mantrams” between the Sage and the Student in the PATH for August involves an occult truth so important that it is worth while to recall that the power of mantrams is recognized by the school of German occultists represented by Kernning. Readers of the PATH who have attentively read “Some Teachings of a German Mystic” have observed that in nearly all instances the pupils achieve an awakening of their inner self, or the “spiritual rebirth,” by means of a particular word, a sentence, or perhaps even a letter of the alphabet, and that, in cases where persons are involuntarily awakened, it is by continued thinking upon some object or person, as in the case of the young sailor whose mind was continually dwelling on his absent sweetheart and was thereby released from the limitations of his own personality. Caroline Ruppert was aroused by a morbid dwelling on her disappointment in love and by remorse for her conduct towards her invalid mother, until these thoughts gained a mantric power over her, and it required intelligent exercise with other mantrams, given her by the Adept Mohrland, to restore her self-control and give her a symmetrical development. Out of a medium, or mere sensitive, she thus became an initiate, able to control the psychic forces by her own will. Every hapless “medium” who is obsessed by elementals and elementaries that make life a torment and who is compelled to do the bidding of these forces generated by personal vitality, and whose conflict obscures the true self ― like a spring whose waters, finding no adequate channel, rise to the level of their source and thus drown it ―, has it in his or her power, by intelligent exercise of the will, to obtain command over what they are now obliged to obey. But, in doing this, “right motive” must be kept constantly in view; care must be exercised to keep absolutely free from all mercenary or other selfish considerations, else one will become a black magician. The condition known as “mediumship” has been the subject of too much indiscriminate condemnation; it can be made a blessing as well as a curse, and the aim should be, not to suppress it, but to develop it in the right direction. The psychic powers, like all other natural forces, can be made either a good servant or a terrible master, and, in proportion to their subtlety as compared with other forces, so much greater is their power for good or for evil.

In psychic work the power of united endeavor has often been emphasized, and it is easy to see that the power is developed whether consciously or unconsciously exercised. Thus, with thousands thinking unitedly in one direction, as in the present Theosophical awakening, they all help each other, lending strength to each other’s will, whether they are aware of it or not. According to this principle it would seem that a word used commonly for mantric purposes has a greater potency over the forces of the spirit, owing to the impression it has made upon the akasa, than a word not commonly used, for in the case of the former the user has the aid of the wills of all others who have used it.

In one of his works, “The Freemason,” Kernning gives a good explanation of the power of mantrams, in replying to the strictures of a rationalistic critic, who says that such a use of words is made by the bonzes (yogis) of India, and therefore must be wholly nonsensical! Says Kernning:

Whoever has a great love for an art or science not only finds delight in the results, but their very names have a sort of magic power with him. Whoever feels a love for another person is moved whenever he thinks of that person or repeats the name of that person. The gambler, in spite of all the arguments against his infatuation made by others, and often, indeed, by himself, always beholds dice and cards before his eyes. The drunkard only needs, in order to be made thirsty, to hear the name of wine. The miser lives in the vision of his ducats and dollars, the ambitious man upon the insignia of fame and the plaudits of the multitude, the courtier upon his orders and titles, and in all these cases, not only are the things themselves concerned, but the names have become idolized. Now suppose that one should, instead of swimming in the depths, fill spirit and soul with exalted and divine ideas and names, can other than most beneficent results follow? Indeed, could a person be a genuine Christian without the life of Christ, and even his name, becoming animate in spirit and soul? Therefore there is no nonsensical or unreasonable practice in this; on the contrary, every one should be made aware of this simple method, which is founded upon human nature and is confirmed by experience, that he may attain the means of ennobling his nature, of directing his energies towards the highest end of his life, and reaching this end with certainty.

Reproduced in William Judge’s Collected Articles

To continue reading the well-being series go to the page “On psychic and mental well-being.


  1. Her Karma.
  2. Her senses being dulled to external impressions through an abnormal state other system brought on by morbid reflections, her perceptions were awakened to a consciousness of certain phases of the inner life, or subjective world, that transcends the bounds of the personality. This state, developed to a greater or less extent, is what constitutes “mediumship,” or a condition in which the individual is passively subject to these influences.
  3. Both of these “spirits” were in reality elementals, energized by her physical nature, from which a certain powerful force was liberated in consequence of her abnormal condition. This force clothes itself with, or manifests itself in the guise of, either the imaginings of the sensitive – in which case it is analogous to the action of dreams, – or the imaginings of other persons, or of the images of objects or persons living or dead impressed upon the astral light, and even perhaps the elementaries of the dead. These are endowed with a temporary, but false, personality, having no real life apart from the mind of the person whose forces gave them being. But feeding upon the vitality of that person, they more and more subvert and dominate the real self of the one who passively submits to their influences, and who, by the sacrifice of power, becomes less and less able to resist, finally ending in insanity or death. In this lies the danger of mediumship, a danger to which students of Theosophy cannot he too much alive. The emotions and passions arise in this elemental force, and whoever gives way to anger, for instance, is temporarily insane, “a medium” who yields his real self to the domination of an elemental of his own creation. An adept generates this force consciously, and uses it as the skilled man uses any instrument he may have at command. He knows how to feed and sustain it, but it does not feed upon him. “The animal in man, elevated, is a thing unimaginable in its great powers of service and of strength,” says Through the Gates of Gold, and those who read the foregoing aright will perceive a high significance in the closing portion of that noble work.
  4. “Obey it as though it were a warrior.”  – Light on the Path.
  5. The striking agreement of Mohrland’s ideas with those of Light on the Path furnishes a confirmation of the statement in the comments in Lucifer by the author, that the rules “stand written in the great chamber of every actual lodge of a living Brotherhood.”
  6. Note the passage in Gates of Gold where it speaks of the pure, the abstract flame being enthroned in the heart of man.
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