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 A Curious Tale

William Q Judge


with addtional article "Ireland" by W.Q.J. and note on Round Towers by H.P.B.

© 2002 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet Malmö

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[The Tale of the Tower and the Sacred Eternal Fire ]


Some years ago I ran down to the lakes of Killarney, but not for the purpose merely of seeing them as any other traveller. During my boyhood the idea of going there had always been before me, and in dreams I would often find myself on the water or wandering nearby. After this had occurred many times, I procured photographs of the scenery and was quite surprised to find that the dreams were accurate enough to seem like recollections. But various vicissitudes took me to other parts of the world, so that I had passed my majority without having visited the place, and, indeed the decision to go there at last was not made until one day, whole looking into a shop window in Dublin, my eye fell upon a picture of Killarney, and in an instant I was filled with a strong desire to see them. So I went on the first train and was very soon there, quartered with an old man who from the first seemed like an old friend.

The next day or two were devoted to wandering about with no purpose nor with very great satisfaction, for the place as a bit of country, did not interest me after all my wanderings in many different climes. But on the third day I went off into a field not far from the shores of one of the sheets of water, and sat down near an old well. It was still early in the afternoon, and unusually pleasant. My mind had no particular object before it, and I noticed an inability, quite unusual, to follow long a definite train of thought. As I sat thus, drowsiness came over my senses, the field and the well grew grey but still remained in sight, yet I seemed to be changing into another man, and, as the minutes flew by, I saw the shadowy form or picture of a tall round tower rising, some fifty feet high, just beyond the well. shaking myself, this disappeared and I thought I had fought off the sleepy feeling, but only for a moment. It returned with new intensity.

The well had disappeared and a building occupied its place, while the tall tower had grown solid; and then all desire to remain myself disappeared. I rose with a mechanical feeling that my duty, somehow or other, called me to the tower, and walked over into the building through which I knew it was necessary to go in order to reach the tower. As I passed inside the wall, there was the old well I had seen upon first coming into the field, but the strange incident did not attract my attention, for I knew the well as an old landmark. Reaching the tower, the steps wound up before me to the top, and as I mounted them a voice quite familiar called my name--a name not the same that I owned to upon sitting down near the well, but that did not attract my attention any more than the old well inside the wall. At last I emerged upon the top of the tower, and there was an old man keeping up a fire. It was the eternal fire never yet known to have gone out, and I, out of all the other young disciples, alone was permitted to help the old man.

As my head rose above the level of the low rim of the tower, I saw a calm and beautiful mountain not far away, and other towers nearer to it than mine.

“You are late,” said the old man. I made no reply, as there was none to make; but I approached and showed by my attitude that I was ready to go on watching in his place. As I did this it flashed across me that the sun was nearing the horizon, and for an instant the memory of the old man with who I had lodged came before me, as well as the express train to be reached by cart, but that faded out as the old watcher looked into my brain with his piercing eyes.

“I fear to leave you in charge,” was his first remark. “There is a shadow, dark and silent, near you.”

“Do not fear, father,” said I; “I will not leave the fire nor permit it to go out.”

“If you do, then our doom is sealed and the destiny of Innisfallen delayed.”

With those words he turned and left me; and soon I heard his foot-fall no more on the winding stairs that led below.

The fire seemed bewitched. it would hardly burn, and once or twice it almost paralyzed me with fear, so nearly did it expire. When the old man had left me, it was burning brightly. At last it seemed that my efforts and prayers were successful; the blaze sprang up and all seemed well. Just then a noise on the stairs caused me to turn around, and to my surprise a complete stranger came upon the platform where none but the guardians were allowed.

“Look.” he aid; “those fires beyond are dying out.”

I looked and was filled with fear to see that the smoke from the towers near the mountain had died out., and in my sudden amazement rushed to the parapet to get a nearer view. Satisfied that what the stranger said was true, I turned to resume my watch, and there, O horror ! my own fire was just expiring. No lights or tinder were permitted there; the watcher had to renew the fire by means of the fire. In a frenzy of fear I leaped to new fuel and put it on the fire, fanned it, laid my face to it and strove with maddened gasps to blow the flame up, but all my efforts were vain – it was dead.

A sickening dread seized me, succeeded by a paralysis of every nerve except those that aid the hearing. I heard the stranger move towards me, and then I recognized his voice as he spoke. No other noises were about, all was dead and cold, and I seemed to know that the ancient guardian of the fire would return no more, that no one would return, that some calamity had fallen.

“It is the past,” the stranger began. “You have just reached a point where you failed to feed the fire ages ago. It is done. Do you want to hear of those things? The old man has gone long ago, and can trouble you no more. Very soon you will be again in the whirl of the nineteenth century.”

Speech then returned to me and I said, “Yes, tell me what this is, or has been.”

“This is an old tower used by the immediate descendants of the white Magicians who settled on Ireland when England’s Isle had not yet risen from the sea. When the great Masters had to go away, strict injunctions were left that no fires on these towers were to go out. and the warning was also given that, if the duties of life were neglected, if charity, duty, and virtue were forgotten, the power to keep these fires alive would gradually disappear. The decadence of the virtues would coincide with the failure of the fires, and this, the last tower, guarded by an old and a young man, would be the last to fail, and that even it could save the rest if its watchers were faithful.

“Many years elapsed, and the brilliant gem placed upon the mount of Innisfallen blazed forth both by day and night until at last it seemed to fade a little. The curious sounding-stones, now found in Ireland, were not so easily blown; only when a pure and faithful servant came down from the White Tower did the long, strange, and moving sounds float over the mountains from the stone placed near the mount on which was the gem. Those stones had been used by the great magicians, and when the largest of them all, lying near the great White Tower, was sounded, the fairies of the lakes appeared; when the stone of the mount was blown together with that at the White Tower, the spirits of the air and the water ranged themselves obediently around.

“But all this altered, and unbelief crept in while the fires were kept up as a form.

“You were relied on with the old man. But vain dreams detained you one hour beyond your appointed time on this fatal day, now in the past, but shown to you by my special favor. You came, but late. The old man was compelled to wait, but still feared to leave you, for he saw with prescient eye the dark finger of fate. He descended the stairs, and at its foot fell down and died. Your curiosity then drew you at the exact fatal moment to look at yonder tower, although you knew the prophecy and believed it. That moment decided all -- and, poor boy, you could not hold back the iron hand of destiny.

“The fire had gone out. You returned to the floors below; at the foot of the stairs you saw them carrying away the old man and – ….”

At that point I saw the shadowy, waving shape of the tower; the building had disappeared, the well was beside me, and I was in the field again. Oh !

Bryan Kinnavan
(William Q. Judge)

THE PATH, December, 1888.



Related Articles & Notes


ERIN'S ISLE has always been somewhat of a mystery. Its people are so differenct from the English just across the channel that one who spends some time in London and then crosses over to Dublin will at once see the vast gulf that in the matter of temperament separates the two peoples.

And any one who studies the Irish, especially on the West Coast, and lives among them, will soon discover a deeply-seated belief in what is commonly called the supernatural that can only come from some distant past. Even the educated Irish are not free from this.

There is a willingness in the peasant to express belief in fairies, ghosts, and the like, which in the better classes is covered up from sight but still there. In the country districts the people will stone the lights out of the windows of a newly-vacated house, and in the city the educated man may frequently be found who will say, when his attention is called to such an occurrence, "And why shouldn't they? Do you want the devil to stay in the house?" The theory of course is that the elementals of the departed tenants can only escape through the broken window panes unless they have been used as is not always the case  to open doors.

Belief in fairies is the old Hindu belief in the "devas" or lesser gods. I know many educated people who have declared they often heard fairy talking and singing. In fact, unless we take in the northern Irishman who is not truly of that blood we will never find a native of that land who is not born with a slight or greater touch upon the borders of the unseen or with a belief in it.

It is called the Isle of Destiny, and its hill-men will tell you that it has always been a "saintly island." It teems with tales exactly duplicating those of Hindu yogis; the very grass seems to whisper as with the footfalls of unseen beings. One tradition is that in very ancient times, before the island of Albion rose from under the water, there was an ancient college or Ashram as the Hindus would call it on the island, where great adepts lived and taught disciples who from there went out to all lands. They stayed there until a certain great cataclysm, and then migrated to ....In connection with this the following quotation from some remarks by H.P. Blavatsky in Lucifer will be of interest, in reading which one can also profitably remember the Greek tradition that near Britain there was an island called Ierna to which men went in order to learn more about the secret mysteries. She says:

It is a tradition among Occultists in general, and taught as an historical fact in Occult philosopy, that what is now Ireland was once upon a time the abode of the Atlanteans, emigrants from the submerged island mentioned by Plato. Of all the British Isles, Ireland is the most ancient by several thousands of years. Inferences and "working hypotheses" are left to the Ethnologists, Anthropologists, and Geologists. The Masters and Keepers of the old science claim to have preserved genuine records, and we Theosophists - i.e., most of us - believe it implicitly. Official Science may deny, but what does it matter? Has not Science begun by denying almost everything it accepts now? [Lucifer, Vol. 4, June 15, 1889, p. 347.]

 Bryan Kinnavan
(William Q. Judge)

THE PATH, February, 1892.


Taken from William Q. Judges Theosophical Articles vol. II:97-8


Additional note from the article REFLECTIONS ON THE FUTURE

by William Q Judge

...Perhaps England  and Ireland are the gateways for the Egos who incarnate here in the silent work of making a new race. Maybe there is some signifiance in the fact that more lines of steamships conveying human freight to the United States from England, passing Ireland on the way as the last seen land of the old world, than from anywhere else. The deeds of men, the enterprises of  merchants, and the wars of soldiers all follow implicity a law that is fixed in the stars, and while they copy the past they ever symbolize the future.

Did H.P.B. only joke when she wrote in her book that Ireland is an ancient Atlantean remnant, and England a younger Isle, whose rising from the sea was watched by wise men from Erin´s shore? Perhaps the people of that old land may have an important influence in the new race of America...

Taken from William Q. Judges Theosophical Articles, vol. II:133



by  H.P. Blavatsky

Not only did the Buddhist missionaries make their way to the Mesopotamian Valley, but they even went so far west as Ireland. The Rev. Dr. Lundy, in his work on "Monumental Christianity," referring to an Irish Round Tower, observes: "Henry O'Brien explains this Round Tower Crucifixion as that of Buddha; the animals as the elephant and the bull, sacred to Buddha, and into which his soul entered after death; the two figures standing beside the cross as Buddha's virgin mother, and Kama his favorite disciple. The whole picture bears a close likeness to the Crucifixion, in the cemetery of Pope Julius, except the animals, which are conclusive proof that it cannot be Christian. It came ultimately from the far East to Ireland, with the Phoenician colonists, who erected the Round Towers as symbols of the life-giving and preserving power of man and nature, and how that universal life is produced through suffering and death."

When a Protestant clergyman is thus forced to confess the pre-Christian existence of the crucifix in Ireland, its Buddhistic character, and the penetration of the missionaries of that faith even to that then remote portion of the earth, we need not wonder that in the minds of the Nazarean contemporaries of Jesus and their descendants, he should not have been associated with that universally known emblem in the character of a Redeemer.

In noticing this admission of Dr. Lundy, Mr. Charles Sotheran remarked, in a lecture before the American Philological Society, that both legends and archaeological remains unite in proving beyond question "that Ireland, like every other nation, once listened to the propagandists of Siddhartha-Buddha."


Taken from ISIS UNVEILED vol. II:290, footnote.

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