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Spiritualism and Theosophy

by

C W Leadbeater

 

 

 

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Spiritualism and Theosophy

SCIENTIFICALLY EXAMINED AND CAREFULLY DESCRIBED

 BY C W LEADBEATER

 THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE

adyar, madras, india

1928

 

 

 

 



-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL

Chapter I

SPIRITUALISTIC PHENOMENA

    

     A quarter of a century ago I wrote a book called The Other Side of Death,

in which I described the condition of the next world, quoting many illustra­tive

stories. This book has been out of print for some years, so I have just issued a

new edition, much enlarged and brought up to date. Some of its chapters deal

with spiritualism; in them I recount many of my own experiences, and offer my

readers such explanation of the phenomena as has been suggested to me by my

forty-five years’ study of Theosophy. I am now publishing these chapters

separately as a smaller book, hoping that it may be of interest to my

spiritualistic brethren, and may perhaps even help a little towards bringing

about a better understanding between the two camps of Theosophists and

Spiritualists, who have so much in common that they surely ought to co-operate

and never to waste their time in disputation.

 

    

     THE PHENOMENA NATURAL

    

     The investigation of the phenomena which take place at spiritualistic

seances is one of the lines along which information with regard to man’s

survival after death might have been obtained. Just as many of the facts so

clearly stated for us by Theosophy might have been deduced from careful

observation and comparison of the records of apparitions, so also many of them

might have been inferred from equally careful examination and comparison of the

accounts given in spiritualistic literature. They were not so inferred, however,

except by the spiritualists themselves, and not usually clearly expressed as a

coherent system even by them. But just as, now that we know the facts from

Theosophical sources, we can see how all the various types of apparitions fall

into place and are explained by them, so we may also see how spiritualistic

manifestations can be classified and comprehended by means of the same

knowledge.

    

     It has always seemed to me that our spiritualistic friends ought to welcome

the Theosophical system, for much of the difficulty which they find in

obtain­ing acceptance for their phenomena arises from the belief that their

claims are in opposition to science, and not in harmony with any reasonable

scheme. This idea is an entirely mistaken one, yet spiritualism does little to

dispel it; it continues (quite rightly) to insist upon its facts, but does not

usually attempt to harmonize them with science. There is, it seems to me, rather

a tendency to cry: “How marvellous! how wonderful! how beautiful!” and to be

lost in admiration and awe, instead of realiz­ing how entirely natural it all

is, and more beautiful because it is so natural. For all that is really natural

is beautiful; it is only we, reduced to pessimism by our own corruption of and

interference with Nature’s methods, who fall back in doubt, and say

hesitating­ly that certain things are too good, too beautiful to be true — not

yet understanding that it is precisely because a thing is good and beautiful

that it must also be true, and that a far more accurate expression would be: “It

is too good not to be true”. For God is Truth, and He is good.

 

    

     How theosophy explains them

    

     The Theosophical explanation as to the planes of nature, and the existence

of many varieties of more finely subdivided matter, with their appropriate

forces playing through them, at once opens the way to a comprehension of many of

the phenomena of the seance-room. When we further come to understand the

possession by man of vehicles corresponding to each of these planes, in each of

which he has new and extended powers, much that was before difficult becomes

clear as noonday. I have written fully of these capacities in my little book on

Clairvoyance, so I need not repeat that account here. It will be sufficient to

remark that when we grasp their nature we see at once how it is possible for the

dead man, if he is so disposed, to find a passage in a closed book, to read a

letter inside a locked box, to see and report what is happening at any distance,

or to read the thoughts of any person, present or absent.

    

     All that the dead man does along any of these lines can be done with equal

facility by the living man who has developed his latent powers of astral vision,

and we thus realize that for a man residing in and functioning through an astral

body, these actions which to us appear phenomenal and marvellous must bear a

different aspect, for to him they are simply his ordinary everyday methods of

procedure. The man who has not studied such matters is unused to these

manifestations, and cannot comprehend how they are produced; he feels toward

them just as a savage might towards our use of the electric light or the

telephone. But the intelligent and cultured man is familiar to some extent with

the mechanism in each of these cases, and so he regards the results obtained no

longer as magical, but as natural; he looks upon the matter in an entirely

different light.

 

    

     A classification

    

     By the light of Theosophical knowledge of the astral plane and its

possibilities, then, we may proceed to attempt some sort of classification of

the phenomena of the seance-room. Perhaps we shall find it easiest to arrange

them according to the powers employed in their production, and in this way they

fall readily into five divisions:

   

  Those which involve simply the use of the medium's body — trance-speaking,

automatic writing, drawing or painting, and personation; and some­times the

working of the planchette.

   

  Those which are dependent upon the posses­sion of the ordinary astral sight,

such as the finding of a passage in a closed book, the reading of writing

enclosed within a locked box, the answering of mental questions, or the finding

of something or some person that is missing.

   

  Those which involve partial materialization — usually not carried to the point

of visibility. Under this head would come raps, the tilting or turning of

tables, the moving and floating of objects, slate-writing, or any kind of

writing or drawing done directly by the hand of the dead man, and not through

the agency of the medium; the touches by the hand of the dead, or the sound of

their voices — “the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is

still,” for which the poet yearned. Almost all of the minor activities of the

seance come in under this head, for to it we must assign the playing of various

musical instruments, the winding up and floating about of the musical box, and

even the cold wind which is so constant a phenomenon in the earlier stages of

the sittings. Probably the working of the planchette or the message-board called

the “ouija” usually comes under this category.

   

  Those miscellaneous activities which demand a somewhat greater knowledge of

the laws of astral physics, such as the precipitation of writing or of a

picture, the intentional production of the various kinds of lights, the

duplication of objects, their apport from a distance or their production in a

closed room, the passage of matter through matter, or the handling or the

production of fire.

   

  Visible materialization.

   

  I propose to take up each of these classes, and endeavour to illustrate and

explain them as far as I can, drawing examples sometimes from recognized books

upon the subject, and sometimes from my own experience. I spent much time during

a good many years in patient investigation of spiritualism, and there is

scarcely a phenomenon of any sort of which I read in the books which I have not

repeatedly seen under test conditions, so that this is a subject upon which I

feel myself able to speak with a certain amount of confidence. It may perhaps be

useful for me, as an introduction to our detailed consideration of the subject,

to describe how I came to make my first feeble experiments along this line.

 

   



-------
Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL

Chapter II

   

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

 

   

  the silk hat experiment

   

  The first time that, so far as I can recollect, I ever heard spiritualism

mentioned was in connection with the seances held by Mr. D. D. Home with the

Emperor Napoleon III. The statements made with reference to those seemed to me

at that time quite incredible, and when reading the account of them aloud to my

mother one evening I expressed strong doubts as to whether the description could

possibly be accurate. The article ended, however, with the remark that anyone

who felt unable to credit the story might readily convince himself of its

possi­bility by bringing together a few of his friends, and inducing them to sit

quietly round a small table either in darkness or in dim light, with the palms

of their hands resting lightly upon the surface of the table. It was stated that

a still easier plan was to place an ordinary silk hat upon the table brim

upwards, and let two or three people rest their hands lightly upon the brim. It

was asserted that the hat or table would presently begin to turn, and in this

way the existence of a force not under the control of any one present would be

demonstrated.

   

  This sounded fairly simple, and my mother suggested that, as it was just

growing dusk and the time seemed appropriate, we should make the ex­periment

forthwith. Accordingly I took a small round table with a central leg, the normal

vocation of which was to support a flower-pot containing a great arum lily. I

brought in my own silk hat from the stand in the hall and placed it on the

table, and we put our hands upon its brim as pre­scribed. The only person

present besides my mother and myself was a small boy of twelve, who, as we

afterwards discovered, was a powerful physical medium; but I knew nothing about

mediums then. I do not think that any of us expected any result whatever, and I

know that I was immensely surprised when the hat gave a gentle but decided

half-turn on the polished surface of the table.

   

  Each of us thought the other must have moved it unconsciously, but it soon

settled that question for us, for it twirled and gyrated so vigorously that it

was difficult for us to keep our hands upon it. At my suggestion we raised our

hands; the hat came up under them, as though attached to them, and remained

suspended a couple of inches from the table for a few moments before falling

back upon it. This new development astonished me still more, and I endeavoured

to obtain the same result again. For a few minutes the hat declined to respond,

but when at last it did come up as before, it brought the table with it! Here

was my own familiar silk bat, which I had never before suspected of any occult

qualities, suspending itself mysteriously in air from the tips of our fingers,

and, not content with that defiance of the laws of gravity on its own account,

attaching a table to its crown and lifting that also! I looked down to the feet

of the table; they were about six inches from the carpet, and no human foot was

touching them or near them! I passed my own foot underneath, but there was

certainly nothing there — nothing physically per­ceptible, at any rate.

   

  Of course when the hat first moved it had crossed my mind that the small boy

must somehow be playing a trick upon us; but in the first place he obviously was

not doing so, and in the second he could not possibly have produced this result

un­observed. After about two minutes the table dropped away from the hat, and

almost immediately the latter fell back to its companion, but the experi­ment

was repeated several times at intervals of a few minutes. Then the table began

to rock violent­ly, and threw the hat off — a plain hint to us, if any of us had

known enough to take it. But none of us had any idea of what to do next, though

we were keenly interested in these extraordinary movements. I was not myself

thinking of the phenomenon in the least as a manifestation from the dead, but

only as the discovery of some strange new force.

   

  I spoke of these curious occurrences next day to some friends, and found one

among them who had once or twice seen something of the sort, and was familiar

with the rudiments of spiritualistic proce­dure. I promptly invited him to join

us on the following evening, and to assist in our experiments. The same

phenomena were reproduced, but this time, by our friend’s aid, we asked

questions and found that the table would tilt intelligently in response to them.

The communicating entity, how­ever, could not have been a man of any great

know­ledge, for nothing of any importance was said, either then or afterwards,

and the manifestations were always rather of the nature of horse-play. Their

most remarkable feature was the enormous physical strength displayed on several

occasions. Heavy furniture was frequently dashed violently about, and sometimes

considerably damaged, yet none of us was really hurt. Once, later on, an

especially sceptical friend had the end of a heavy brass fender dropped upon his

foot, but I think he distinctly brought it upon himself by his impolite remarks!

 

   

  violent demonstrations

   

  The silk hat was ruined at the second seance, so thereafter we placed our

hands directly upon the table — or at least we commenced by doing so, for after

a few minutes it was usually waltzing about so wildly that we could only

occasionally touch it. At the third sitting (if that term be not a misnomer as

applied to an evening spent mainly in jumping about to avoid the charges of

various articles of furniture) our little table suffered con­siderably. During a

moment of comparative rest, when we were able to keep our hands on it, we beard

a curious whirring sound underneath it, and some small object fell to the floor.

Picking it up we found it to be a screw, and wondered where the “spirits” had

obtained such a thing, and why they had brought it. Twice more the same

whir­ring sound was heard, and two more screws were presented to us, but even

yet we did not realize what was being done.

   

  Suddenly we were startled by what I can only describe as an exceedingly heavy

kick on the under side of the table, which dashed it upwards against our hands

and all but threw us over. The effect precisely resembled that of a vigorous

kick from a heavy boot, and it was repeated three or four times in rapid

succession until the top of the table was broken away from the leg. The leg

waltzed off by itself, while the top fell to the floor, but by no means to lie

quiet there. If a coin be set spinning with the thumb and fingers upon a smooth

surface it displays a peculiar wobbling rotation just as it is in the act of

settling down to rest. That was exactly the motion of this table upon the floor,

and two strong men, kneeling upon it, and exerting all their force to hold it

down, were unable to do so, but were thrown off apparently with the utmost ease.

   

  As we were holding it as nearly down upon the carpet as we could, the same

prodigious kicks came underneath it as before, so that whoever kicked could

evidently do so through the carpet and the floor of the room without the

slightest hindrance. It was only after the performance was over, and we came to

examine our table, that we understood what had happened. The entity who was

playing with us had apparently wished to separate the top of the table from the

lower part, and had somehow contrived to extract three of the screws as though

with a screw-driver; but the fourth had been rusted in and could not be

removed—hence apparently the kicks which broke it out and accomplished the

separation.

   

  This exhibition of prodigious strength at a seance is by no means unusual. In

describing one which took place on Staten Island in the spring of 1870, Mr.

Robert Dale Owen remarks:

   

  “Then — probably intensified by the darkness — com­menced a demonstration

exhibiting more physical force than I had ever before witnessed. I do not

believe that the strongest man living could, without a handle fixed to pull by,

have jerked the table with anything like the violence with which it was now, as

it seemed, driven from side to side. We all felt it to be a power, a single

stroke from which would have killed any one of us on the spot.” (The Debatable

Land, p. .)

 

   

  evidence of unknown power

   

  These phenomena, which thus came so unexpect­edly into my life, would no doubt

have been despised as frivolous by the veteran spiritualist, but to me they were

exceedingly interesting. They took place in my own house, they were entirely

unconnected with any professional medium, and they were incontrovertibly free

from any suspicion of trickery. Consequently here were certain indubit­able

facts, absolutely new to me, and needing investigation. I had no knowledge then

that there was a considerable literature upon the subject, and I was not

expecting from this study any proof of the life after death. So far, I had had

evidence only of the existence of some unseen intelligence, capable of wielding

enormous power of a kind quite different from any recognized by science. But it

was precisely that power which interested me, and I was anxious to discover

whether there was any method by which it could be utilized for the general

benefit.

   

  We never advanced much further in these home investigations. My mother feared

the destruction of her furniture, and in deference to her objections we simply

suspended operations when the forces became too boisterous, resuming our sitting

only when things quieted down. We had no raps, and no direct voices; any

communications which came were always given by the tilting or rising of the

table. The entity concerned seemed willing enough to give tests along its own

peculiar lines. For example, it occurred to us one evening to ask whether the

table could rise in the air without our hands resting upon it; it promptly

responded that it could and would, so we all drew back hastily, and watched that

table rise till its feet were about a yard from the ground, while it was

entirely out of the reach of every member of the party. It remained suspended

for perhaps a minute or rather more, and then sank gently to the carpet.

 

   

  lights

   

  Lights of various kinds frequently appeared, but usually they gave us the

impression not so much of being intentionally shown as of manifesting

inci­dentally in the course of other phenomena. They were of three varieties:

(a) little sparkling lights like those of fireflies, which used to play over and

about our hands, while they rested on the table; (b) large pale luminous bodies,

several inches in diameter and often crescent-shaped; (c) a vivid flash

resembling lightning, which on one occasion crossed the room and struck and

overthrew a large plant in a pot, leaving upon it distinct marks of scorching,

much as I suppose lightning might have done. The first and third varieties gave

us the impression of being electrical, while the second appeared to be rather

phosphorescent in nature. Nothing occurred that we could definitely call

materialization, though dark bodies of some sort occasionally passed between us.

These phenomena usually took place by firelight, though on one occasion we

obtained a few much modified manifestations in full daylight. The room appeared

to become charged with some kind of force, as though with electricity; for at

least an hour after the seance was closed the furniture continued to creak

mysteriously, and the table on several occasions moved out two or three feet

from its corner after its flowerpot had been replaced upon it.

    

  The messages were quite a subordinate feature, and it seemed difficult for the

entity, whatever it may have been, to curb its exuberant spirits long enough to

go through the tedious process of spelling out a message by tilts. We made many

attempts to obtain definite information in this way, but met with no success. It

always gave us the impression of being in a condition of wild rollicking

enjoyment, too much excited to be patient or coherent. Fre­quently the table

would dance vigorously and untir­ingly, keeping time with any music that we

played or sang. Its favorite tune appeared to be the well-known spiritualistic

hymn, “Shall we gather at the river?” and if at any time the power seemed

deficient or the manifestations lethargic, we had only to sing that air to rouse

it at once into a condition of the wildest enthusiasm and agility. Sometimes it

was decidedly mischievous, and when it could be induced to deliver a message it

was by no means always consistent or truthful. It appeared to be capable of

annoyance; certainly on one occasion when I denounced one of its statements as

false, the table leaped straight at me, and would apparently have struck me

severely in the face, if I had not caught it on its way. Even so, as I held it

in the air, it made violent efforts to get at me, and had to be dragged away

forcibly by my friends, just as though it had been an infuriated animal. But in

a few moments its strength or its passion seemed to give out, and it was

harmless once more.

   

  Prominent in my memory is one occasion on which the forces engaged in these

demonstrations actually drove us out of the room. From the beginning of the

seance the control of the proceed­ings was taken entirely out of our hands.

Chairs rushed about like living creatures, a heavy sofa swung out from its place

by the wall into the middle of the floor, and a tall piano, of the obsolete type

which used to be called an upright grand, leaned over me at a dangerous angle.

Trying to save it from a heavy fall, I braced myself against it and called one

of my friends to assist me. He struck a match and lit a candle, which he placed

on a table, hoping that the light would check the manifestations. The table,

however, gave a kind of leap which threw the candle on to the floor and

extinguished it, and at once pandemonium reigned all round us, heavy articles of

furniture crashing together.

   

  It was manifest that our lives were in danger, so, holding back the piano with

all my strength, I shouted to my friend to open the door. After frenzied efforts

he succeeded in tearing it open, I sprang back from the toppling piano, and we

all fled ignominiously into the hall. The door banged behind us, and for a

minute or more the crashes inside continued; then silence ensued. After five

minutes or so we opened the door and entered with lights, and found all the

massive furniture piled in a vast heap in the middle of the room — some of it

badly broken, of course; and yet on the whole there was far less damage than one

would have expected from the tremendous noise made. After this demonstration my

mother banished us and our experiments to an outhouse!

 

   

  professional mediums

   

  Stimulated by these experiences, I began to make further enquiries, and soon

found that there were books and periodicals devoted to this subject, and that I

might carry my investigations much further by coming into connection with

regular mediums. I attended a large number of public seances, and saw many

interesting things at them, but the most remarkable and satisfactory results, I

soon found, were obtainable only when the circles were small and harmonious. I

therefore frequently had private seances, and often invited mediums to my own

house, where I could be perfectly certain that there existed no machinery by

means of which trickery could be practiced. In this way I soon acquired a good

deal of experience, and was able to satisfy myself beyond all doubt that some at

least of the manifestations were due to the action of those whom we call the

dead.

   

  I found mediums of all sorts, good, bad and indifferent. There were some who

 

were earnest and enthusiastic, and honestly anxious to aid the enquirer to

understand the phenomena. Others were incredibly ignorant and illiterate, though

probably honest enough; others again impressed me as sanctimonious, oleaginous

and untrustworthy. A little experience, however, soon taught me upon whom I

could depend, and I restricted my experiments accordingly. I pursued them for a

good many years, and during that time saw many strange things — many which would

probably be deemed incredible by those unfamiliar with these studies, if I

should endeavour to describe them. Such of them as aptly illustrate our various

classes I may perhaps cite as we go on; but to give the whole of those

experiences would need a much larger book than this.

   

  Let us turn now to our classification.

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL

 

   

Chapter III

   

UTILIZATION OF THE MEDIUM’S BODY

 

   

  what mediumship is

   

  It seems obvious that the easiest course for a dead man who wishes to

communicate with the physical plane is to utilize a physical body, if he is able

to find one which it is within his power to manage. This method does not involve

the learning of unfamiliar and difficult processes, as materialization does; he

simply enters into the body provided for him and uses it precisely as he was in

the habit of using his own. One of the characteristics of a medium is that his

principles are readily separable, arid therefore he is able and usually willing

thus to yield up his body for the temporary use of another when required. Such

resignation of his vehicle may be either partial or total; that is to say, the

medium may retain his consciousness as usual, and yet permit his hand to be

employed by another for the purposes of automatic writing; or in some cases his

vocal organs may also be thus employed by another while he is still in

possession of his body, and understands fully what is being said. On the other

hand he may retire from his body just as he would do in deep sleep, allowing the

dead man to enter and make the fullest possible use of the deserted tenement. In

this latter case the medium himself is quite unconscious of all that is said or

done; or at least, if he is able to observe to some extent by means of his

astral senses, he does not usually retain any recollection of it when he resumes

control of his physical brain.

 

   

  trance-speaking

   

  A certain type of spiritualism — one which has a large number of adherents —

is almost entirely occupied with this phase of mediumship. There are many groups

to whom spiritualism is a religion, and they attend a Sunday evening meeting and

listen to a trance-address just as people of other denominations go to church

and hear a sermon. Nor does the average trance-address in any way differ from

the average sermon in intellec­tual ability; its tone is commonly vaguer, though

somewhat more charitable; but its exhortations follow the same general lines.

Broadly speaking, there is never anything new in either of them, and they both

continue to offer us the advice which our copy-book headings used to give us at

school — “Be good and you will be happy,” “Evil communications corrupt good

manners,” and so on. But the reason that these maxims are eternally repeated is

simply that they are eternally true; and if people who pay no attention to them

when they find them in a copy-book will believe them and act upon them when they

are spoken by a dead man or rapped out through a table, then it is emphatically

well that they should have their pabulum in the form in which they can

assimilate it.

   

  Trance-speaking of the ordinary type is naturally less convincing as a

phenomenon than many others, for it is undeniable that a slight acquaintance

with the histrionic art would enable a person of average intelligence to

simulate the trance-condition and deliver a mediocre sermon. I have heard some

cases in which the change of voice and manner was so entire as to be of itself

convincing; I have seen cases where speech in a language unknown to the medium,

or reference to matters entirely outside his knowledge, assured one of the

genuineness of the phenomenon. But on the other hand I have heard many a trance

address in which all the vulgarities, the solecisms in grammar and the hideous

mispronunciations of an illiterate medium were so closely reproduced that it was

difficult indeed to believe that the man was not shamming. Such cases as this

last have no evidential value, yet even in them I have learnt that it is well to

be charitable, and to allow the medium as far as possible the benefit of the

doubt; for I know, first, that a medium attracts round him dead men of his own

type, not differing much from his level of advance­ment or culture; and

secondly, that any communi­cation which comes through a medium is inevitably

coloured to a large extent by that medium’s personality, and might easily be

expressed in his style and by means of such language as he would normally use.

 

   

  automatic writing

   

  The same remarks apply in the case of automatic writing. Sometimes the dead

man controls the medium’s organism sufficiently to write clearly,

characteristically, unmistakably; but more often the handwriting is a compromise

between his own and that of the medium, and frequently it degenerates into an

almost illegible scrawl. Here again I have seen cases which carried their own

proof on the face of them, either by the language in which they were written or

by internal evidence. Sometimes also curious tricks are attempted which make any

theory of fraud exceedingly improbable. For example, I have seen a whole page of

writing dashed off in a few minutes, but written backward, so that one had to

hold it before a mirror in order to be able to read it. In another case, before

a sitting with Mrs. Jencken (better known by her maiden-name of Kate Fox, as the

little girl who first discovered in 1847 that raps would answer questions

intelligently, and so founded modern spiritualism), her little baby-in-arms,

perhaps twelve months old, took a pencil in its tiny hand and wrote — wrote

firmly and rapidly a message purporting to come from a dead man. What

intelligence guided that baby hand I am not prepared to say, but it certainly

could not have been that of its legitimate owner, and it was equally certainly

not that of its mother, for she held the child away from her while it wrote.

 

   

  the private archangel

   

  Frequently people who are not mediums in any other sense of the word appear to

be open to influence along this line. A large number of persons are in the habit

of receiving private communications written through their own hands; and the

vast majority of them attach quite undue importance to them. Again and again I

have been assured by worthy ladies that the whole Theosophical teaching

contained nothing new for them, since it had all been previously revealed to

them by their own special private teacher, who was of course a person of

entirely superhuman glory, knowledge and power — an Archangel at least! When I

come to investi­gate I usually find the Archangel to be some worthy departed

gentleman who has either been taught, or has discovered for himself, some

portion of the facts with regard to astral life and evolution, and is deeply

impressed with the idea that if he can only make this known to the world at

large it will necessarily effect a radical change and reform in the entire life

of humanity. So he seeks and finds some impressible lady, and urges upon her the

conviction that she is a chosen vessel for the regeneration of mankind, that she

has a mighty work to do to which her life must be devoted, that future ages will

bless her name, and so on.

   

  In all this the worthy gentleman is usually quite serious; he has now realized

a few of the elementary facts of life, and he cannot but feel what a difference

it would have made in his conduct and his attitude if he had realized them while

still on the physical plane. He rightly concludes that if he could induce the

whole world really to believe this, a great change would ensue; but he forgets

that practically all that he has to say has been taught in the world for

thousands of years, and that while he was in earth-life he paid no more

attention to it than others are now likely to pay to his lucubrations. It is the

old story over again: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will

they be persuaded though one rose from the dead”.

   

  Of course a little common sense and a little acquaintance with the literature

of this subject would save these worthy ladies from their delusion of a mission

from on high; but self-conceit is subtle and deeply-rooted, and the idea of

being specially chosen out of all the world for a divine inspiration is, I

suppose, pleasurable to a certain type of people. Usually the communications are

infinitely far from “containing all the Theosophical teaching”; they contain

perhaps a few fragments of it, or more often a few nebulous generalizations

tending some­what in the Theosophical direction.

   

  Occasionally also the instructor is a living man in the astral body — usually

an Oriental; and in that case it is perfectly natural that his information

should have a Theosophical flavour. It must be recollected that Theosophy is in

no sense new, but is the oldest teaching in the world, and that the broad

outlines of its system are perfectly well known everywhere outside of the limits

of the extraordinary cloud of ignorance on philosophical subjects which

Christianity appears to bring in its train. It is therefore small wonder that

any glimpse of a wider and more sensible theory should seem to have something of

Theosophy about it; but naturally it will rarely be found to have either the

precision or the fullness of the scheme as given to us by the Masters of Wisdom

through Their pupil Madame Blavatsky.

   

  It appears to make the process of writing through the hand of the medium even

easier for the dead man when that hand is rested upon the little board called

planchette. This form of manifestation, however, does not always belong to our

present category. Sometimes it seems that the hand of the medium moves the

planchette, though it is not by his intelligence that it is directed, for it

often writes in languages or about matters of which he is ignorant. But on other

occasions it appears to move rather under his hand than with it, suggest­ing

that it is charged with the vital force from his hand, just as the hat or the

table was in the experi­ments previously described. In that case the movement of

the board would probably be directed by another partially materialized hand, and

so the phenomenon would belong to our third class.

 

   

  drawing or painting

   

  The phenomenon of automatic drawing or painting is of exactly the same nature

as that of writing, though it is not nearly so common, because the art of

drawing is much less widely diffused than is that of writing. Still it sometimes

happens that a dead man has a talent for rapid drawing, and can quickly produce

a pretty little landscape or a passable portrait through the hand of a

readily-impressible medium. There are certain mediums who make a speciality of

this obtaining of portraits of the dead, and they apparently find that it pays

them exceedingly well. I have myself seen passable work produced in this way,

though not equal to that done directly by the hand of the dead man, or by

precipitation. There are also cases in which such portraits are drawn by a

living person who is himself clairvoyant; but that is obviously not an example

of mediumship at all, and so does not come into our present category.

   

  It must be remembered that for the production of a portrait of a dead person

by any of these methods it is not in the least necessary that he should be

present, though of course he may be. But when surviving friends come to a seance

expecting and earnestly hoping for a portrait of some dead man, their thought of

him, so strongly tinged with desire, makes an effective image of him in astral

matter, and this is naturally clearly visible to any other dead man, so that the

portrait can be drawn quite easily from it. It is, however, also true that this

same strong thought about the dead man is certain to attract his attention, and

he is therefore likely to come and see what is being done. So it is always

possible that he may be present, but the portrait is not proof of it.

 

   

  personation

   

  I am employing this term in a technical sense which is well known to those who

have studied these phenomena. I am aware that it has also been employed to

describe those cases in which a dishonest medium has presented himself before

his audience as a “spirit-form”, but I am dealing with occurrences of a type

quite different from that. All who have seen good examples of trance-speaking

will have noticed how the entire ex­pression of the medium’s face changes, and

how he adopts all kinds of little tricks of manner and speech, which are really

those of the man who is speaking through his organism.

   

  There are instances in which this process of change and adaptation goes much

further than this — in which a distinct temporary alteration actually takes

place in the features of the medium. Some­times this change is only apparent and

not real, the fact being that the earnest effort of the ensouling personality to

express himself through the medium acts mesmerically upon his friend, and

deludes him into thinking that he really sees the features of the dead man

before him. When that is so the phenomenon is of course purely subjective, and a

photo­graph taken of the medium at that moment would show his face just as it

always is.

   

  Sometimes, however, the change is real and can be shown to be so by means of

the camera. When this is so, there are still two methods by which the effect may

be produced. I have seen at least one case of apparent change of feature in

which what really took place may best be described as the partial

materialization of a mask; that is to say, such parts of the medium’s face as

corresponded fairly well with that to be represented were left untouched,

whereas other parts which were entirely unsuitable were covered with a thin mask

of materi­alized matter which made them up into an almost perfect imitation,

though slightly larger than the original. But I have also seen other cases in

which the face to be represented was much smaller than that of the medium, and

the exact imitation secured undoubtedly involved an alteration in the form of

the medium’s features. This will naturally seem an absolute impossibility to one

who has not made a special study of these things, for the majority of us little

recognize the extreme fluidity and impermanence of the physical body, and have

no concep­tion how readily it may be modified under certain conditions.

 

   

  impressibility of the physical body

   

  There is plenty of evidence to show this, though the circumstances which call

into operation forces capable of producing such a result are fortunately rare.

In Isis Unveiled, vol. i, p. 368, Madame Blavatsky gives us a series of ghastly

examples of the way in which the thought or feeling of a mother can change the

physical body of her unborn child. Cornelius Gemma tells of a child that was

born with his forehead wounded and running with blood, the result of his

father's threats towards his mother with a drawn sword which he directed towards

her fore­head. In Van Helmont's De Injectis Materialibus it is reported that the

wife of a tailor at Mechlin saw a soldier’s hand cut off in a quarrel, which so

impressed her that her child was born with only one hand, the other arm

bleeding. The wife of a merchant of Antwerp, seeing a soldier who had just lost

his arm, brought forth a daughter with one arm struck off and bleeding. Another

woman witnessed the beheading of thirteen men by order of the Duc d’Alva. In her

case also the child, quite perfect in other respects, was born without a head

and with bleeding neck.

   

  The whole question of the appearance of stigmata on the human body, which

seems so thoroughly well authenticated, is only another instance of the

influence of mind upon physical matter; for just as the mind of the mother acts

upon the foetus, so do the minds of various saints, or of women like Catherine

Emmerich, act upon their own organism. On p. 384 of The Night Side of Nature we

find another rather horrible example of the action of violent emotion upon the

physical body.

   

  A letter from Moscow, addressed to Dr. Kerner in consequence of reading the

account of the Nun of Dulmen, relates a still more extraordinary case. At the

time of the French invasion, a Cossack having pursued a Frenchman into a cul de

sac, an alley without an outlet, there ensued a terrible conflict between them,

in which the latter was severely wounded. A person who had taken refuge in this

close, and could not get away, was so dreadfully frightened that when he reached

home there broke out on his body the very same wounds that the Cossack had

inflicted on his enemy.

   

  We shall have to refer to this question when dealing with materializations;

but in the meantime, and as far as personation is concerned, I can myself

testify that it is possible for the physical features of a medium to be

completely changed for a time into the exact resemblance of those of the dead

man who is speaking through him. This phenomenon is not common, so far as I have

seen or heard, and we may presume that the reason for its rarity is that

ordinary materialization would probably be easier to produce. The personation,

however, took place in full daylight on each occasion when I witnessed it;

whereas materialization is usually performed by artificial light, and there must

not be too much even of that, for reasons which will be explained when we come

to deal with that side of the question.

 

   

  using force thbough the medium

   

  Speaking, writing and drawing are by no means the only actions performed

through the body of the medium. Sometimes it is used for more extensive and even

violent activities. M. Flammarion records a striking case of the kind (After

Death, p. 100) in which the “spirit” took possession of the medium in order to

attempt to revenge himself. The case first appeared in Luce e Ombra (Rome,

1920), and the Revue Spirite (1921, p. 214), and was witnessed by M. Bozzano,

the writer. Though the incident occurred in 1904, M. Bozzano felt that he could

not publish an account of it before the death of the chief person concerned. He

writes:

   

  Today I can speak of it in the general interest of metaphysical research,

omitting, however, the name of the person chiefly concerned.

   

  Seance held on April 5, . — The following were present: Dr. Guiseppe

Venzano, Ernesto Bozzano, the Cavaliere Carlo Perefcti, Signore X—, Signora

Guidetta Peretti, and the medium L. P. The seance was begun at ten o’clock in

the evening.

   

  From the beginning we noted that the medium was troubled, for some unknown

reason. The spirit-guide Luigi, the medium's father, did not manifest himself,

and L. P. gazed with terror toward the left corner of the room. Shortly

afterward he freed himself from his “spirit-controls”, rose to his feet, and

began a singularly realistic and impressive struggle against some invisible

enemy. Soon he uttered cries of terror, drew back, threw himself to the floor,

gazed toward the corner as though terrified, then fled to the other corner of

the room, shouting: “Back! Go away. No, I don’t want to. Help me! Save me!” Not

knowing what to do, the witnesses of these scenes concentrated their thoughts

with intensity upon Luigi, the spirit-guide, and called upon him to aid. The

expedient proved effective, for little by little the medium grew calmer, gazed

with less anxiety toward the corner of the apartment; then his eyes took on the

expres­sion of someone who looks at a distant spectacle, then a spectacle still

more distant. At last he gave vent to a long sigh of relief and murmured: “He’s

gone! What a bestial face!”

   

  Soon afterwards, the spirit-guide Luigi manifested himself. Expressing himself

through the medium, he told us that in the room in which the seance was being

held there was a spirit of the basest nature, against which it was impossible

for him to struggle; that the intruder bore an implacable hatred for one of the

persons of the group. Then the medium exclaimed in a frightened voice: “There he

is again! I can't defend you any longer. Stop the ...”

   

  It is certain that Luigi wished to say, “stop the seance”, but it was already

too late. The evil spirit had taken possession of our medium. He shouted; his

eyes shot glances of fury; his hands, lifted as though to seize something, moved

like the claws of a wild beast, eager to clutch his prey. And the prey was

Signore X—, at whom the medium’s furious looks were cast. A rattling and a sort

of concentrated roaring issued from our medium’s foam-covered lips, and suddenly

these words burst from him: “I’ve found you again at last, you coward! I was a

Royal Marine. Don't you remember the quarrel in Oporto? You killed me there. But

today I’ll have my revenge and strangle you.”

   

  These distracted words were uttered as the hands of the medium, L. P., seized

the victim’s throat, and tightened on it like steel pincers. It was a fearful

sight. The whole of Signore X—’s tongue hung from his wide-open mouth, his eyes

bulged. We had gone to the unfortunate man’s assistance. Uniting our efforts

with all the energy which this desperate situation lent us, we succeeded, after

a terrible hand-to-hand struggle, in freeing him from the desperate grip. At

once we pulled him away, and thrust him outside, locking the door. We barred the

medium’s access to the door; exasperated, he tried to break through this barrier

and run after his enemy. He roared like a tiger. It took all four of us to hold

him. At last, he suffered a total collapse and sank down upon the floor.

   

  On the following day we prepared to clear up this affair — to seek information

which might enable us to confirm what “the Oporto spirit” had said. We were, in

fact, already quite certain of the truth of the accusation, for it was

noteworthy that Signore X— had not protested in the least while the serious

charge of homicide had been hurled at him.

   

  The words uttered by the furious spirit served me as a means for arriving at

the truth. He had said, “I was a Royal Marine”. And I knew vaguely that Signore

X— had, himself, in his youth, been an officer of marines; that he had witnessed

the battle of Lissa, and that after resigning his commission he had devoted

himself to commercial enterprises. With these facts as a basis, I proceeded to

ask a retired vice-admiral for other details; he, too, had fought at Lissa. As

for Dr. Venzano, he questioned a relative of Signore X—, with whom the latter

had broken off all relations years before. Between us we gathered separate bits

of information which tallied amazingly, and which, brought together, led us to

these conclusions:

   

  Signore X— had indeed served with the Royal Marines. One day, being upon a

battle-ship on a training cruise, he had landed for some hours at Oporto,

Portugal. During his stay, while he was walking in the city, he heard a noise of

drunken, furious voices coming from an inn. He perceived that the language was

Italian, and, realizing that it was a quarrel between men of his vessel, he went

into the room, recognized his men, and commanded them to return to their ship.

One of the drinkers, more intoxicated than the others, answered him back, and

even went so far as to threaten his superior officer. Angered by his attitude,

the officer drew his sword and plunged it into the insolent fellow’s breast; the

latter died soon afterward. As a result of this adventure, the officer was

court-martialled, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, and, on the

expiration of his term, was asked to resign his commission.

   

  Those are the facts; it follows from them that the disturbing spirit had not

lied. He had exactly stated his rank as a Royal Italian Marine. He had

remembered that Signore X— had killed him. He had, moreover — and this was a

particularly remarkable statement—indicated the place where he had died, the

setting for the drama, Oporto.

   

  A painstaking enquiry confirmed the authenticity of all this. By what

hypothesis could one explain occur­rences so strikingly in agreement — those

which were revealed to us at the seance of April 5, 1904, and those which had

taken place in Portugal many years before?

 

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL

 

   

  

Chapter IV

   

CLAIRVOYANCE IN SPIRITUALISM

 

   

  clairvoyant faculties

   

  Many of the phenomena commonly displayed at a spiritualistic gathering are

simply the manifestation of the ordinary powers and faculties natural to the

astral plane, such as are possessed by every dead man. I have already explained

in my little work on Clairvoyance what these powers are, and any one who will

take the trouble to read that will see how clearly the possession of such senses

accounts for the faculty so often exhibited by the dead of reading a closed book

or a sealed letter, or describing the contents of a locked box. I have had

repeated evidence through many different mediums of the possession of this

power; sometimes the knowledge obtained by its means was given out through the

medium’s body in trance-speaking, and at other times it was expressed directly

by the dead man, either in his own voice or by slate-writing.

   

  These astral faculties sometimes include a certain amount of prevision, though

this is possessed in varying degrees; and they also frequently give the power of

psychometry and of looking back to some extent into events of the past. The way

in which this is sometimes done is shown in the follow­ing story, given to us by

Dr. Lee, in his Glimpses of the Supernatural, vol. ii, p. .

 

   

  the missing papers

   

  A commercial firm at Bolton, in Lancashire, had found that a considerable sum

of money which had been sent to their bank by a confidential clerk had not been

placed to their credit. The clerk remembered the fact of taking the money,

though not the particulars, but at the bank nothing was known of it. The clerk,

feeling that he was liable to suspicion in the matter, and anxious to elucidate

it, sought the help of a spirit-medium. The medium promised to do her best.

Having heard the story, she presently passed into a kind of trance. Shortly

after, she said: “I see you go to the bank — I see you go to such and such a

part of the bank — I see you hand some papers to a clerk — I see him put them in

such and such a place under some other papers — and I see them there now.”

   

  The clerk went to the bank, directed the cashier where to look for the money,

and it was found; the cashier afterwards remembering that in the hurry of

business he had there deposited it. A relation of mine saw this story in a

newspaper at the time, and wrote to the firm in question, the name of which was

given, asking whether the facts were as stated. He was told in reply that they

were. The gentleman who was applied to, having corrected one or two unimportant

details in the above narration, wrote on November 9, 1847: “Your account is

correct. I have the answer of the firm to my enquiry at home now.”

   

  The description given does not make it absolutely clear whether this was a

case of clairvoyance on the part of the medium, or of the use of ordinary

faculty by a dead man; but since the medium passed into a trance-condition the

latter supposition seems the more probable. The dead man could easily gather

from the clerk’s mind the earlier part of his story, and thus put himself en

rapport with the scene; and then by following it to its close he was able to

supply the information required. Here is the authenticated record of another

good example of such a case, in which the power of thought-reading is much more

prominently exhibited, since all the questions were mental. It is ex­tracted

from the Report on Spiritualism, pub­lished by Longman, London, in 1871, and is

to be found in the Examination of the Master of Lindsay, p. .

 

   

  A lost will

   

  A friend of mine was very anxious to find the will of his grandmother, who had

been dead forty years, but could not even find the certificate of her death. I

went with him to the Marshalls’, and we had a seance; we sat at a table, and

soon the raps came; my friend then asked his questions mentally; he went over

the alphabet himself, or sometimes I did so, not knowing the question. We were

told (that) the will had been drawn by a man named William Walter, who lived at

Whitechapel; the name of the street and the number of the house were given. We

went to Whitechapel, found the man, and subsequently, through his aid, obtained

a copy of the draft; he was quite unknown to us, and had not always lived in

that locality, for he had once seen better days. The medium could not possibly

have known anything about the matter, and even if she had, her knowledge would

have been of no avail, as all the questions were mental.

   

  As I have already said, the faculty of clairvoyance is often possessed by

living persons, as well as by the dead. Even in this case, in which the

information was communicated by means of raps, it is still within the bounds of

possibility that it may have been acquired by the living and transmitted to the

physical-plane consciousness by this external means. There is an ever-increasing

volume of testimony to the fact of this clairvoyance; Dr. Geley has done

splendid service by giving much that is new and valuable in his recent work

Clairvoyance and Materialization. In his account of the clairvoyance of Mr.

Ossowiecki, which includes many tests of his ability to read sentences enclosed

in sealed opaque envelopes, he tells us that this seer has from time to time

been able to discover articles which have been lost or stolen. In contact with

the loser he was able after brief concentration to say where the object was

lost, and sometimes also where it could be found.

 

   

  the lost brooch

   

  He gives the following account of one such case which was sent to him by Mme

Aline de Glass, wife of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Poland. The account is

also attested by her brother, M. Arthur de Bondy:

 

   

  warsaw, wspolna, 7

   

  July 22, 1922

   

  Sir,

   

  I have the honour to inform you of an actual miracle that Mr. Ossowiecki has

worked here. I lost my brooch on Monday morning, June 6th. In the afternoon of

the same day I visited the wife of General Krieger, Mr. Ossowiecki’s mother,

with my brother, Mr. de Bondy, an engineer, who witnessed the event.

  

Mr. Ossowiecki came in, my brother introduced me to his friend, and I said that

I was delighted to make acquaintance with one so gifted with occult powers. All

Warsaw is talking of him. He told us many interesting things, and warmed up in

his talk as I listened. Then in a moment of silence I told him:

  

“I have lost my brooch today. Could you tell me anything about it? But if you

are tired or it is troublesome, do not put yourself out.”

  

“On the contrary, madame, I will tell you. The brooch is at your house in a box;

it is a metal brooch, round, with a stone in the middle. You wore it three days

ago, and you value it.”

  

“No,” I said, “not that one.” (He had given a good description of a brooch kept

in the same box with that which I had lost.) Then he said:

  

“I am sorry not to have guessed right; I feel tired ... ”

  

“Let us say no more about it.”

  

“Oh no, madame, I will try to concentrate. I should like to have some material

thing that concerns the brooch ...”

  

“Sir, the brooch was fastened here, on this dress.”

  

He placed his fingers on the place indicated, and after a few seconds said:

“Yes, I see it well. It is oval, of gold, very light, an antique which is dear

to you as a family souvenir; I could draw it, so clearly do I see it. It has

ears, as it were, and it is two parts interpenetrating, like fingers clasped

together . . .”

  

“What you say, sir, is most extraordinary. It could not be better described.

Miraculous.”

  

He went on: “You lost it a long way from here.” (This was actually about two and

a half miles.)  “Yes, in Mokotowska Street at the Koszykowa corner.”

  

“Yes,” I said, “I went there today.”

  

“Then,” he said, “a poorly dressed man, with black moustache, stoops down and

picks it up. It will be very difficult to get it back. Try an advertisement in

the papers.”

  

I was dazzled by the minute description, which left me no doubt that he could

see the ornament. I thanked him warmly for the rare pleasure of meeting a real

clairvoyant, and went home.

  

On the following evening my brother came to see me and exclaimed:

  

“What a miracle! Your brooch has been found. Mr. Ossowiecki telephones to me

that you have only to go tomorrow at about 5 o’clock to Mme. Jacyna (Mr.

Ossowiecki’s sister), and he will give it to you.”

  

The next day, June 7th, I went with my brother to the lady’s house, where there

was company. I asked to see Mr. Ossowiecki, and asked him: “Have you my brooch?”

I was much upset.

  

“Compose yourself, madame; we shall see.” And he handed me my brooch. It was a

real miracle. I turned pale and could not speak for a few minutes.

  

 

He told me the story very simply: “The day after our meeting I went to the bank

in the morning. In the vestibule I saw a man I remembered to have met some­where

or other, and it struck me that this was the man whom I had seen mentally to

have picked up your brooch. I took his hand gently, and said:  ‘Sir, yesterday

you found a brooch at the corner of Mokotowska and Koszykowa Streets . . .’

‘Yes,’ he said, very much astonished. ‘Where is it?’ ‘At home. But how do you

know?’ I described the brooch and told him all that had taken place. He turned

pale and was much upset, like you, madame. He brought me the brooch, saying that

he had intended to advertise its finding. That is the whole story.”

  

I was much moved. I thanked Mr. Ossowiecki warmly, not so much for the recovery

of the brooch as for meeting such a diviner, and having a small part in this

miracle. Now this fine old brooch is worn by me constantly and considered as a

talisman. The incident has gone all over Poland, and Mr. Ossowiecki has become

all the more celebrated. He is besieged by people who come to consult him on

lost property, on men missing during the war, etc. And this modest and

extraordinary man devotes much time and trouble to them with good grace and

complete dis­interestedness. He is a true diviner, who does much good by his

gift without any personal reward. I ask pardon for so long an account, which I

wished to make as exact as possible,

  

I am, Yours,

  

aline de glass,

  

née de Bondy

  

As an example of the test conditions under which Mr. Ossowiecki has done many

readings, I may mention the case of the letter which was written for the purpose

by Mme. Sarah Bernhardt, which we reproduce below from Clairvoyance and

Materia­lization (p. 55).

 

 

 

.                                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.                                                                        

This letter was delivered to Dr. Geley, who handed it unopened to the

clairvoyant. His reading of this was not perfect, but nevertheless striking and

evidential. Dr. Geley says:

 

  

“His description of the letter was, however, very precise: La vie, la vie, la

vie, . . . (three times). There are four or five lines, and below them Sarah

Bernhardt’s signature, sloping upwards.” That is correct, but he might have seen

her signature in some magazine article. He continued: “La vie semble humble.” He

repeated ‘humble’ two or three times. “There is reference to humanity, but the

word ‘humanity’ is not written. There is an idea conjoining life and humanity.

Parcequ’il у а bеаисоир de haine. Non, il n’y a pas ‘haine’; il у a seulement

seulement . . . It is a very difficult word of eight letters! There is an

exclamation mark.”

  

Then before opening the letter, which I had previously examined by reflected,

direct and transmitted light and found absolutely opaque, I wrote down the

following, which may be taken as Ossowiecki's final answer: “La vie semble

humble parcequ’il у а bеаисоир de haine, (pas haine, mais un mot qui n’est pas

compris et qui est de huit lettres); signature Sarah Bernhardt.” The word

éphémère was not known to Ossowiecki, as he told us after the letter had been

opened. We asked several Poles who spoke French well if they knew this word:

they did not.

  

The fact that Mr. Ossowiecki does see the actual form in some manner sometimes

is confirmed by his vision on occasion of drawings enclosed along with the

letters. Judging by the third experiment of September 21st, 1921, at Prince

Lubomirski’s (p. 39), when the test letter contained four written items, and

also the drawing of a fish, the picture seemed to impress him more than the

written portion of the test, and he not only spoke about it, but said that he

would draw it, which he did, though he reversed the picture, putting the head on

the left whereas in the original it was on the right.

 

  

clairvoyant “readings”

  

This power of clairvoyance is also frequently displayed in a minor way at the

weekly meetings of which I have spoken. After the trance address is over, the

medium usually expresses her readiness to give descriptions, or “readings”, as

they are often called, of the surroundings of various members of the audience.

Where the circle is a small one, something is said to each of its members in

turn; if there be a large number gathered together, individuals are selected and

called up for special attention.

  

I have heard striking fragments of private family history brought out in this

way — cases which bore every mark of genuineness; but in the majority of such

meetings as I have attended the descriptions were exceedingly vague, and had a

rather suspicious adaptability about them. The conversation usually ran somewhat

along these lines:

  

Medium (supposed to be entranced, but speaking with exactly her normal contempt

for aspirates and grammatical rules). “There's an old gent with white ‘air

a-standin’ be’ind that lady in the corner.”

  

Enthusiastic and Credulous Sitter.  “Lor! that must be my father!”

  

Medium.  “Yes; he smiles, he nods his ‘ed, he’s so pleased that you know him. I

can see his white beard regularly shaking, he's so glad.”

  

Sitter. “Ain't it wonderful! But father didn’t have no beard before he passed

over; p’raps he’s grown one since, or p’raps it’s my uncle Jim; he used to have

a beard.”

  

Medium. “Ah! yes, that’s who it is; he nods his ‘ed again, and smiles; he wants

to tell you ‘ow ‘appy he is.”

  

Sitter.  “Well, now! just to think of poor uncle Jim coming like this! Why, it’s

more than thirty years ago he was drowned at sea, when I was quite a girl;

‘an‘some young chap he was, too! not more than five-and-twenty, and to be

drowned like that!”

  

Medium.  “Um! yes—yes—ah! I see him more clearly now — yes, you're right. It’s

not a white beard — it’s the white undershirt what sailors wears — that’s what

it is!”

  

Chorus.  “How lovely! how wonderful! Ain’t it beautiful to think they can come

back like this!”

  

I have heard just about that sort of conversation a score of times; and it is

naturally not calculated to produce a robust faith in that particular medium.

Yet perhaps through the same illiterate woman there would come on another

occasion some message about a matter of which she could by no possibility have

known anything — a message which she could never have evolved from her sordid

consciousness by any amount of clumsy guess-work.

 

  

A private test

  

I remember on one such occasion applying a little private test of my own to a

medium in a poor London suburb. She was a coarse-looking woman, whom I had never

seen before, but she seemed earnest enough, though far from cultured. She went

on from one member of the circle to another, monotonously describing behind each

of them spirits with flowing robes and smiling faces; she varied the story a

little in my own case by giving me “a dark-looking foreign gentleman, with

something white round his head”, which may possibly have been true enough, or

may have been merely a coincidence.

  

It occurred to me to try whether she could see a thought-form, so as a change

from all these reverend white-haired spirits with flowing robes, I set myself to

project as strong a mental image as I could construct of two chubby boys in Eton

jackets, standing behind the chair of the member of the circle who was next in

order for examination. Sure enough, when that person’s turn came, the medium (or

the dead man speaking through her, if there was one) described my imaginary boys

with tolerable accuracy, and represented them as sons of the lady behind whom

they stood. The latter denied this, explaining that her sons were grown men, and

the medium then suggested grandchildren, which was also repudiated, so the

mystery remained unsolved. But from the incident I deduced two conclusions:

First, that either the medium was genuinely clairvoy­ant, or there really was a

dead person speaking through her; and secondly, that whoever was concerned had

not yet sufficient discernment to distinguish a thought-form materialized on the

astral plane from a living astral body.

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL

 

   

 

.                                                                        

Chapter V

.                                                                         

SOME RECENT TEST CASES

 

  

test conditions

  

The recent researches of many learned doctors, and other investigators

associated with the Societies for Psychical Research in different countries,

offer us increasing confirmation of the facts announced by the earlier

experimenters. The attitude of many of these distinguished explorers into the

domain of the occult inclines at the beginning towards scep­ticism — a fact

which renders their evidence all the more valuable, though it makes the

phenomena more difficult to obtain. It constitutes a positive mental influence

acting against the manifestation of unusual psychic powers — powers which it is

difficult enough to use, even under the most favourable conditions. It is only

fair to add, however, that such scepticism is rarely a prejudice, but simply the

scientific attitude which declines to admit the existence of any facts which

have not been carefully observed, or the truth of any deductions which have not

been studiously and impartially considered.

  

The attitude and method adopted by Dr. Gustave Geley, and described in his

invaluable volume Clairvoyance and Materialisation, is becoming more and more

popular among experimenters. He says that the best results for scientific

purposes are not to be obtained under conditions which cast suspicion upon the

medium, and that the end to be sought by observers is not to protect themselves

with absolute certainty at all times against any possible or conceivable fraud,

but to obtain phenomena so powerful and complex that they carry their own proof

and undeniable witness under the conditions demanded by the control.

  

I may add that my own experience, extending over many years, fully confirms what

Dr. Geley has written. I have always found it best to make friends with both the

medium and the spirit-guide and to discuss the manifestations frankly with them.

Dr. Geley continues:

  

If experimenters waste time on poor or elementary phenomena, they will find the

greatest difficulty in getting a control that will satisfy them at all points.

If they are wise enough to consider elementary phenomena, and such minor frauds

as they may suspect, both negligible; if they allow phenomena to develop without

checking them at the outset by untimely demands, they will certainly obtain

facts so various and important, also (sometimes) of such beauty, that their

conviction will be complete, unshakable, and conclusive (p. 25).

 

  

MOTHER MARIUS AND THE CONVICT

  

In the comparatively recent general literature of spiritualism and psychical

research there are many cases which satisfy these conditions. There are examples

in which the accuracy of information communicated by these methods, and

previously entirely unknown to those who receive it, almost certainly announces

the actual presence of the entity who is claiming to communicate. I will select

one typical case from M. Flammarion’s book After Death (p. 21), relating to the

death of a charwoman of Nantes, generally known as Mother Marius. The narrator

says that he used to frequent a cafe where there was a charwoman, a native of

Brittany, whose family name was Keryado, although she was always called Mother

Marius. He then continues:

  

Every week I used to leave Nantes on Saturday evening and spend Sunday on a farm

in the very midst of the countryside. One Saturday I left as usual — took leave

of the proprietor, of my friends, and said goodbye to this same charwoman, who

was in excellent health. So, late on Saturday night, I found myself in the

country as usual, but I must explain that this time, through excep­tional

circumstances, I was to remain there for the whole week. The farm-house had two

rooms; a kitchen and another room. On Thursday, at one o’clock in the

after­noon, I was talking in the other room with the young girl of the house.

There was no one in the kitchen. The doors and windows were closed. We were

talking, when both of us heard a noise in the kitchen, as though the fire-tongs

had fallen on to the hearthstone. Out of precaution, thinking that the cat might

be getting into the jars of milk, I went to see what it was. There was nothing;

everything was shut up. Scarcely had I come back into the room when there was

the same noise. I turned. Nothing! Since I had already taken up spiritualism, I

said to the young girl, laughing: “It's a spirit, perhaps” — attaching no

importance to my words. However, I then had the idea of using a little round

table, with which we had already experimented, and we waited, both of us sitting

at it, our hands upon it. Almost immediately we got a communication through

rapping, according to the usual alphabetic code. “Is this a spirit?” — “Yes” —

“You lived on earth?” — “Yes” — “You knew me?” — “Yes” — “What was your name?” —

“Keryado”. At this odd name (I did not remember the charwoman's family name) I

was about to leave the table, thinking that the reply was point­less, when the

young girl said to me: “That is the family name of the charwoman in the café”.

“That is true,” I answered, and then I began a series of questions. I was

unwilling to believe that she was dead, having left her in perfect health only

five days before. I asked her for details, and learned that she had been taken

ill at eight o’clock on Tuesday evening, that she had been carried to her home,

and that she had died at eleven o’clock, of a haemorrhage ... On Saturday when I

returned to Nantes, as soon as I got out of the train, I went to the café, and

there, to my stupefaction, they gave me confirm­ation of this woman’s death, and

of all the details she had given me.

  

Unquestionably also there are other cases in which only telepathy is at work.

Professor Ernest Wood relates an example, which was told to him by his father,

who used to investigate these things. On the occasion in question the medium,

who was a personal friend also, said that he saw standing behind his visitor the

“spirit” of a man dressed in convict garb. He described him in detail, saying

that he was looking through prison bars, and adding that he thought the spirit

wished to communicate. But the fact of the matter was that, a short time before,

the enquirer had been to see the exhibition at the opening of the Manchester

Ship Canal, in which was shown one of the old Botany Bay convict ships fitted up

realistically with wax-work figures. He had stood for some time looking at one

of these, and wondering what the unfortunate convicts must have felt, and though

the incident had passed from his mind and been forgotten, that was the figure of

which the medium gave him a description.

  

Perhaps the first great mistake which many people make in thinking about these

things is to assume that one law governs all the cases, and therefore that they

are either all due to discarnate intelligences, or are all caused by some form

of simple or complicated telepathy. There is a variety of causes for the

phenomena produced during psychical research investigations, some of them being

due to ideas in the mind of the medium or of the sitters, others to discarnate

intelligences, others to thought-forms casually present or magneti­cally

attracted, and others again to the psychometric influence of objects which may

be near.

 

  

the pearl tie-pin case

  

Another good example of successful communica­tion from the other side of death,

which has been called the pearl tie-pin case, is given in Sir William Barrett’s

On the Threshold of the Unseen, as follows:

  

Miss C., the sitter, had a cousin, an officer with our army in France, who was

killed in battle a month previously to the sitting; this she knew. One day,

after the name of her cousin had been unexpectedly spelt out on the ouija board,

and her name given in answer to her query “Do you know who I am?”, the following

message came:

  

“Tell mother to give my pearl tie-pin to the girl I was to marry. I think she

ought to have it.” When asked what was the name and address of the lady, both

were given; the name spelt out included the full Christian and surname, the

latter being very unusual and quite unknown to both sitters. The address given

in London was either wrong or taken down incorrectly, as a letter sent there was

returned, and the whole message was thought to be fictitious.

  

Six months later, however, it was discovered that the officer had been engaged,

shortly before he left for the front, to the lady whose name had been given; he

had, however, told no one of this. Neither his cousin nor any of his own family

in Ireland were aware of the fact, and they had never seen the lady nor heard

her name, until the War Office sent over the deceased officer’s effects. Then

they found that he had put the lady’s name in his will as his next of kin, both

Christian and surname being precisely the same as given through the automatist;

and what is equally remarkable, a pearl tie-pin was found among his effects.

  

Both the ladies have signed a document which they sent to me, affirming the

accuracy of the above statement. The message was recorded at the time, and not

written from memory after verification had been obtained. Here there could be no

explanation of the facts by subliminal memory, or telepathy from the living, or

collusion, and the evidence points unmistakably to a message from the deceased

officer.

 

  

the bird’s-nesting case

  

Another striking case appeared in The Harbinger of Light for February, . A

New Zealand gentleman gives what appears to be a good test of identity from his

soldier son, who was killed on the Somme in September, . The communi­cation

came to another gentleman through the medium of his wife, who was known to the

soldier before he left for the war. In the course of his statement the soldier

says:

  

Will you convey my love to father and mother, and my brothers? Thank God they

have not gone to the war. Tell my dear mother not to hold any fanciful ideas of

me, or to believe every so-called message she may receive. Tell her I owe her

all that is best in me, for she is brave and good, and I would do anything

possible to smooth her path in life. Tell her one particular thing that will

assure her of my presence — tell her that on the day when she prevented me from

going out bird’s-nesting, and took so much trouble to instruct us in the right,

I decided always to try to do what was right. Tell her the recollection of the

anecdote she told us always haunted me. Tell her I have not gone to any restful

spiritual home yet, and probably will not till the war ends. Tell her I cannot

be a shirker in the body or out of it, but having been trained with many good

comrades to do my duty, I try to do it still, and if I were permitted I could

tell you so much we do to help those still fighting — much that is sanctioned

and assisted, too, by others higher than ourselves, but I dare not say. Tell

mother that I was quite suddenly shot out of the body, and felt no pain

whatever, and thanks to the insight I received through my parents, and you, and

others, I simply folded my arms and had a good look at my body, and thought:

“Well, is that all?” I could not wrench myself away from the body immediately,

and accompanied it when carried off by stretcher-bearers to the

dressing-station, because the body was not quite dead, but I felt no pain. How

long it was before I lost the consciousness of my material body I cannot say,

but the freedom I now feel, and the active part I am taking in what occupied me

so much before death is my duty, and it seems natural and right. Besides, Mr.

A.—, there are many pledges my comrades and I made to each other in the face of

death, which are sacred, and must be kept, if possible. But I cannot stop now.

Goodbye, Mr. A.—, goodbye. I am so delighted to have spoken to you. Tell father

and mother they need have no regrets, and that my present activities are more

valuable than when I was in the flesh, and quite as natural. They will know it

is the right and proper course till time changes affairs. Goodbye.

  

The father writes that the bird’s-nesting incident was known only to the boy and

his mother; some years before when he had spoken of going on such an expedition

his mother had earnestly told him how cruel it was to break down the home so

care-fully prepared by the parents for their young, and illustrated her lesson

with the idea of some great giant coming and ruthlessly smashing up her home and

destroying her children.

  

This case is also interesting for its simple and straightforward account of the

soldier’s experiences and feelings when he found himself outside his body.

 

  

cross references

  

When one portion of a message is given to one medium and another portion to

another, at a distance from or unknown to the first, so that the two portions

fit together and make a rational whole, we have what is called a

cross-reference. A well known instance of this is the Kildare-street Club case,

published in The International Psychic Gazette, and reprinted in Mr.

Carrington’s Psychical Phenomena and the War (p. 284). The account of the

incident was furnished by Count Hamon, as follows:

  

On Monday, May 14, 1917, I attended in a private house a seance at which Mrs.

Harris was the medium. There were present on this occasion, amongst several

others whose names I am not authorized to mention, Miss Scatcherd, Mrs.

Dixon-Hartland, and Dr. Hector Munro.

  

After many convincing conversations with spirits by means of the “direct voice”

had occurred, a spirit visitor came and said very distinctly: “I want to send a

message to my father.”

  

“Who are you?”, we asked.

  

The spirit replied: “I am an officer recently killed at the front in Flanders;

my name is . . .” We could not hear the name very distinctly, so after some

repeated efforts to get it, we said: “Well, leave the name alone for the moment

and try to give us the message.”

  

Speaking very slowly at first, the spirit said, “My father lives near Dublin;

you will find him at the well-known club there.”

  

A gentleman present asked: “Which club do you mean?”

  

The spirit replied: “The Kildare-street Club; you know it well, and you also

know my father.”

  

As no one had caught the name of the father exactly right, the gentleman

referred to said: “I know the Kildare-street Club very well, but I do not think

I know your father; but give us the message.”

  

Continuing, the spirit went on: “My father is always worrying and unhappy about

me; he can't seem to get оver it. I want some one to tell him that I came here

tonight to get this through as a test message to him, to tell him not to worry

about me, as I am all right, and glad to have gone through it, and I want him

not to worry and be unhappy any more.”

  

After a slight pause he continued, “My father also goes to mediums in Dublin,

and I try to give him messages through them, but I want this sent on to him as a

test message.”

   

We again asked him to try to give us the name, and we got one part — the

Christian name — very distinctly, but the surname was always so slurred that we

were unable to catch it clearly, and after many efforts had to give it up. But

before we did so, I promised that I would do all I could to send on his message.

  

The next morning I wrote a letter to the name I thought it had sounded like,

addressing it to the Kildare-street Club. In about a week this letter was

returned to me through the Post Office marked  “Name not known”.

  

I was considerably worried as to what I should do next, until the thought came

to me that I should write to the secretary of the Club, simply saying that I was

anxious to find the gentleman who, I believed, was a member of his club, whose

son had recently been killed in Flanders; that the name was something like

so-and-so, and that I had a message to give him about his son.

  

Now comes the strangest part of this strange story. In a few days I received a

letter from the gentleman in question, saying that the secretary had sent him my

letter, and adding: “I have had a message from my son who was recently killed in

Flanders, saying he had sent me a message through a medium in London, that he

had difficulty in getting the name and address through but he wanted to give me

a test.” The father added: “If you understand this I hope you will send me his

message.”

 

  

the deer IN the Bois

  

One of the most strikingly successful instances of cross correspondence is

published in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, vol.

viii, p. 413, it being a translation from a paper read at a meeting of the

French Society for Psychical Research by Dr. Geley, M. Camille Flammarion being

in the chair. In this case the operating entity composed a little story,

dictated the major portion of it to a medium at Wimereux, near Bordeaux,

omitting only three sentences, which were dictated separately but at the same

time to a medium in Paris. The lady in Paris declared that she could see the

spirit operators, the chief of whom gave his name as Roudolphe, in the form of

lights, and that one of these lights came and went rapidly. Her three sentences

were:

  

“As well behaved as the pupils in a convent for well-trained young ladies”

  

“Their large sweet eyes are used to watching the passing”

  

“The modern lady of fashion whose eyes.”

  

The following day the post brought to Paris the main part of the story which had

been written in Wimereux the previous evening. Roudolphe first explained the

idea of his experiment, and then wrote as follows:

  

Have you sometimes met, dear friend, as you walked in the thickets, the deer

that live and roam through the leafy branches, at times . . . (here the

automatist noted a pause in the writing) ... at times the flock, jumping and

frightened, so graceful and fascinating? Have you ever asked yourself what those

pretty animals were thinking, and what they would become later? Far be it from

me to draw their horoscope (which would after all be of no interest to them),

but it seems to me that their mentality must be very different from that which

animates the deer of the forest . . . (another pause) . . . strange vehicles

running without the aid of an animal’s legs, and in those carriages or along the

more or less frequented paths, they have contemplated women with elongated eyes

like their own, delicate and stylish women. Who can ever tell us if . . .

(another pause) . . . become so unnaturally large under the dash of the pencil,

is not a doe of the forest in the throes of retrospective recollection?

  

Dear friend, I have had some trouble because Miss R. tried to understand — but

trust I have succeeded with this childish story. Affectionate good night.

roudolphe.

  

We will leave it to the reader to put the two portions together and see how

perfectly they fit. Dr. Geley remarks that both mediums were ignorant of the

meaning and intention of the sentences they were writing, and that they both

acted as machines worked by the single direction of an independent intelligence.

 

  

the fiR-tRee test

  

In New Evidences in Psychical Research, by Mr. J. A. Hill, a lengthy account is

given of the efforts at cross correspondence between various mediums. From that

source I will take one case, that of the fir-trees:

  

On August 28, 1901, Mrs. Verral’s script had some Latin, of which the following

is a translation:  “Sign with the seal. The fir-tree that has been already

planted in the garden gives its own portent.” This script was signed with a

scrawl and three drawings representing a sword, a suspended bugle and a pair of

scissors.

  

On the same day Mrs. Forbes’s script purporting to come from her son (who had

been killed in the South African War) said that he was looking for a sensitive

who wrote automatically, in order that he might obtain corroboration for her own

writing. This script was apparently produced earlier in the day than Mrs.

Verrall’s script above mentioned.

  

The interest of the incident lies in the fact that a suspended bugle surmounted

by a crown was the badge of Talbot Forbes’s regiment. Further, Mrs. Forbes has

in her garden four or five small fir-trees grown from seed sent her from abroad

by her son; these she calls Talbot’s trees. These facts were totally unknown to

Mrs. Verrall. As bearing on the question of chance coincidence, it is to be

remarked that on no other occasion has a bugle appeared in Mrs. Verrall’s

script, nor has there been any other allusion to a planted fir-tree (p. 172).

  

Sir Oliver Lodge has expressed a favourable opinion of the evidential value of a

number of cross-correspondences between Mrs. Forbes, Mrs. Piper, Mrs. Thompson

and Mrs. Verrall. Many of these tests came from a soi-disant Frederick Myers.

Sir Oliver said that the scholarship in some cases singularly corresponds with

that of F. W. H. Myers when living, and surpasses the unaided information of any

of the receivers. Mr. J. A. Hill, on p. 204 of the book above-mentioned, adds:

  

Some of the communications are strikingly appropriate to and characteristic of

Mr. Myers, in many subtle ways; and this psychological kind of evidence, made up

of many strokes, some bold, some faint, but all tending to bring out the

lineaments of this one personality — this psychological evidence, I say, even

apart from anything else, is as impressive as isolated correct facts about the

communi­cator’s past life, which is the kind of evidence most sought for

hitherto. And, adding to this evidence the cross-correspondences, which are also

in some instances of characteristic kind — e.g., the anagrams characteristic of

Dr. Hodgson, and the Dante, Tennyson, and Browning incidents suggestive of Mr.

Myers, there results a body of recent evidence stronger perhaps than anything

that has previously been published by qualified investigators, in favour of

communication from disembodied human beings.

  

Referring to the telepathic theory as to the cause of these and similar

occurrences, Mr. Hill writes (p. 203):

  

If telepathy from the living is to explain all, we shall have to believe that it

can occur in a very definite and continuous way between people who do not know

each other, as in the earlier script of Mrs. Holland and in some of the

trance-speech of Mrs. Thompson. We shall also have to assume a very complicated

system of telepathic cross-firing among the automatists concerned, the

cross-firing, moreover, occurring at subliminal depths, leaving the normal

personalities quite ignorant of all this remark­able activity. I confess that I

am unable to accept this. To quote Mr. Lang . . . “there is a point at which the

explanations of common sense arouse scepticism”. And I do not think that a

telepathic theory of this extended kind can be called an explanation of common

sense. If it were presented on its own merits, and not as a refuge from

“spirits”, it would be described, by common-sense people, as a piece of uncommon

nonsense.

 

  

the Two drowned sailors

  

What amounts practically to a cross-reference, though it was apparently not

intentional, is related by Mr. W. Britton Harvey, Editor of The Harbinger of

Light, Melbourne, in his booklet They All Come Back! One evening in a circle in

his home the intelligence controlling the medium gave his name as Walter

Robinson, and stated that Fred Field was with him, and added that they had both

been drowned at sea. Mr. Harvey had known a Walter Robinson, and had learnt that

he had been drowned, but he had never even heard of Fred Field.

  

More than a year later an acquaintance happened to tell Mr. Harvey that some

years before, in a sitting with a Melbourne medium, he had been greeted by

Walter Robinson and Fred Field, who declared they had been drowned. I will

complete the story in Mr. Harvey’s own words:

  

“I knew Walter and Fred well,” continued my informant, “but I had never heard of

their deaths. They were shipmates of mine at one time, and it was not for nine

months after they had purported to speak to me that I found out that they had

been drowned.” I then learnt for the first time that this casual acquaintance

used to live a few miles from the town in which I resided in the Old Country. At

that time he went to sea, and that was how he got to know Walter Robinson and

Fred Field. I had not mentioned either of these names to him previously. In

fact, this was the first chat we had had together, and this will account for my

not knowing before that he once resided so close to me in England (p. 15).

 

  

the book tests

  

In 1922 the Rev. Charles Drayton Thomas put forth a book entitled Some New

Evidence for Human Survival. In this he opens up on a large scale a method of

investigation but slightly touched upon hitherto, in the form of book and

newspaper tests. These tests are stated to come from his father, the Rev. John

Drayton Thomas (who died some years ago) acting through Mrs. Leonard, with the

assistance of a control who calls herself Feda.

  

The general method of book-tests, of which some hundreds are related, is for the

“spirit” to go into Mr. Thomas’s library (some distance from the house where the

sittings are held), select a book, observe some ideas on a certain page or pages

in that book, and then announce them. Several of these observations are written

down on one occasion; they are afterwards verified, and have been found to be

for the most part correct.

  

The operators have apparently certain difficulties in seeing the actual print of

the book, but in some manner not easy to comprehend they can grasp the idea

involved in the printed words. They cannot apparently see the numbers printed on

the pages, but they can count the pages from the beginning of the printed

matter, and so indicate exactly those to which they wish to refer. Some of the

tests are taken from books on the shelves, but others with equal success were

performed with books belonging to other people, made up into carefully sealed

parcels, the contents of which were quite unknown to the experimenters until the

parcels were opened in order to verify the test messages.

  

I will give two typical examples of book-tests from the many recorded by Mr.

Thomas, which range variously over description, humour, topics of the day,

philosophy and religion.

  

In your study, close to the door, the lowest shelf, take the sixth book from the

left, and page 149; three-quarters down is a word conveying the meaning of

falling back or stumbling.

  

Rather more than half-way down the page was the following sentence:

  

... to whom a crucified Messiah was an insuperable stumbling-block.

  

Very low down on the page he seemed to get some­thing about great noise, not a

sharp, thin sound, but a heavy one, more of a roaring noise.

  

Close to the bottom of this page was the sentence:

   

I chanced to come that time along the coast, and heard the guns for two or three

days and nights success­ively, (pp. 15-.)

  

Mr. Drayton Thomas says that these book-tests were given, so it was claimed by

the “spirit friends,” not so much as a proof of identity, as illustrating the

ability of a spirit to obtain infor­mation unknown to the sitter or medium, and

yet capable of easy verification.

  

In Chapter XII Mr. Thomas gives a series of book-tests which were communicated

for Lady Glenconnor, who has also herself written about them in The Earthen

Vessel. The messages were transmitted from the late Hon. Edward Wyndham Tennant

through the same medium, the late Rev. John Drayton Thomas and Feda

communicating. This time they used the books in the libraries at Lady

Glenconnor’s house in Scotland, at her town house, and also at Wilsford Manor.

  

Summing up the results of two years’ work the author finds that out of 209 book

tests spontaneously given 147 were good, 26 indefinite, and 36 apparent failures

(p. 98).

 

  

A test by madame blavatsky

  

Before closing this subject of book-tests, let me recount one such example also

from the record of Madame Blavatsky. Her life was full of incidents showing

remarkable powers in many directions; of these one may read especially in The

Occult World and Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky, by A. P. Sinnett,

and in Old Diary Leaves, by Col. H. S. Olcott. Mr. G. Baseden Butt has recently

written a careful and thoughtful account of her life in his volume entitled

Madame Blavatsky. From that I take the following “test” related by Countess

Wachtmeister (p. 153):

  

An experience related by the Countess Wachtmeister cannot be explained save on

the assumption that the Masters really exist and were able to communicate with

her. In the autumn of 1885, before she had met Madame Blavatsky, and before she

knew that she was likely to meet her, the Countess was making preparations to

leave her home in Sweden in order to spend the winter with some friends in

Italy, intending to visit Madame Gebhard at Elberfeld en route. While she was

laying aside the articles she intended to take with her, the Countess, who was

clair­voyant and clairaudient, heard a voice saying: “Take that book, it will be

useful to you on your journey.” The book referred to was a manuscript collection

of notes on the Tarot and passages in the Kabbalah compiled by a friend.

Countess Wachtmeister could conceive of no purpose for which this book might be

required, but, obedient to her clairaudient injunction, she laid it in the

bottom of one of her travelling trunks. At Elberfeld, Madame Gebhard persuaded

the Countess to go to Würzburg and spend the winter with Madame Blavatsky there

instead of going to Italy. When the Countess arrived at Würzburg, and was going

into the dining-room to take some tea, Madame Blavatsky said abruptly, as if the

matter had been dwelling on her mind:

  

“Master says you have a book for me of which I am much in need.”

  

The Countess Wachtmeister denied that any books were with her, but Madame

Blavatsky bade her think again, as Master said that her visitor had been told in

Sweden to bring a book on the Tarot and the Kabbalah. “Then,” adds the Countess,

“I recollected the circum­stances I have related above. From the time I had

placed the volume in the bottom of my box it had been out of my sight and out of

my mind. Now, when I hurried to the bedroom, unlocked the trunk, and dived to

the bottom, I found it in the same corner I had left it when packing the box in

Sweden, undisturbed from that moment to this. But that was not all. When I

returned to the dining-room with it in my hand, Madame Blavatsky made a gesture

and cried: ‘Stay, do not open it yet. Now turn to page ten, and on the sixth

line you will find the words . . .’ And she quoted a passage.

  

I opened the book, which, let it be remembered, was no printed volume of which

there might be a copy in H. P. B.’s possession, but a manuscript album in which,

as I have said, had been written notes and excerpts by a friend of mine for my

own use, yet on the page and at the line she had indicated I found the very

words she had uttered.

  

When I handed her the book I ventured to ask her why she wanted it.

  

‘O,’ she replied, ‘for The Secret Doctrine.’ ”

  

Surely this incident establishes at one and the same time the existence of the

Masters and the reality of Madame Blavatsky’s power of clairvoyance.

 

  

the newspaper tests

  

Satisfactory as the book-tests are, what are known as the newspaper-tests are

still more effective. These messages, instead of relating to books existing in

libraries, in closed parcels or even in locked iron boxes, refer to tomorrow’s

paper. Various newspapers were used, but chiefly the London Times, and the

communications related therefore to what had not yet been printed; enquiries at

the office of the paper resulted in the information that at the time of the

sitting the type-matter had not yet been assembled, and pro­bably some of it had

not even been set up. Respecting these tests Mr. Thomas says also:

  

It is important to realize that a copy of these notes was made the same evening,

and posted in London so that it would be delivered early the following morning.

It was sent to the Secretary of the Society of Psychical Research in accordance

with my invariable custom, a practice adopted many months previously, when I

realized that the tests from the papers of the day after the sitting were

becoming a regular feature of conversations with my father through Mrs. Leonard

and Feda. (p. .)

  

There is generally a certain vagueness about these tests, as in the book-tests,

but that the communi­cating intelligences do make a connection between words in

the newspaper and names or facts familiar to the enquirers is certain. For

example, they say (p. 131) “On page 1, column 2, near the top, there is the name

of a minister with whom your father was friendly at Leek.” The name Perks was

found in the place indicated, and he had known a minister of that name at Leek.

 

  

There are many carious approximations in these tests. For example, it was

announced that in a certain column, one-quarter down, would appear Mr. Thomas’

father’s name, his own, his mother’s, and that of an aunt. In the position

indicated the names John and Charles appeared. These were correct, but instead

of Emily and Sarah (the names of an aunt and Mr. Thomas' mother) were the words

Emile Sauret! Similarly in the place stated to contain the maiden name of the

mother “or one very like it” was the word Dorothea, while her name was Dore.

  

Notwithstanding this vagueness these messages do present a valuable addition to

the evidence for the existence of intelligence beyond that of the sitters, and

this record is especially useful because Mr. Thomas sent his tests to the

Secretary of the Society for Psychical Research before the news­papers were

printed.

  

In twelve such sittings, containing 104 tests, Mr. Thomas finds that there were

73 successes, 12 inconclusive items, and 19 failures, and in another set of

trials there were 51 successes out of 53 tests (p. 153). Many tests were also

received for persons other than the sitters, and relating to facts entirely

unknown to them.

 

  

the source of the messages

  

In studying the probable source of these messages, Mr. Drayton Thomas feels

assured that they do come from his deceased father, for all his sittings abound

in references to his doings and surroundings which would normally be unknown to

Mrs. Leonard, also with references to his father’s earth-life, and besides “they

include a wide range of elusive touches which are unproducible in cold print,

but in which I see my father’s personality ringing true to that which I knew so

well during his life on earth” (p. 190). We must, of course, consider that the

medium of Feda might read his mind, but as to this he says: “Up to the present

all my experiments with Feda have failed to find in her any trace of ability to

explore my thought or reproduce my memories; the evidence all points the other

way.” (p. .)

  

He mentions also that it is a curious experience, after having received correct

references through pages of books scattered about his library to hear the

control struggling to spell out a name which he himself knows to be that which

is required for completing some explicit description, and to find that such

efforts usually fail to pass beyond the initial letter of the required name, and

that his own concentration upon the name appears to make things not one whit

easier. He concludes: “That my father links his former memories with matter

discovered in preparation for the morrow’s press is the only explanation

logically fitting with the facts.” (p. .)

  

As to the views of the “spirits” themselves upon the way in which they obtain

the newspaper tests, Mr. Thomas received the following communication:

  

These tests have been devised by others in a more advanced sphere than mine, and

I have caught their ideas. This may be done even when we do not realize whence

the thought originates, much as when minds on earth receive inspiration. We can

visit these higher helpers, and, even when away from them, may be very conscious

of their assistance. I am not yet aware exactly how one obtains these tests, and

have wondered whether the higher guides exert some influence whereby a suitable

advertisement comes into position on the convenient date; I have thought of

this, but do not know. These tests will be better than the book-tests, because

more definite, and their object will be to prove that we can obtain information

from other quarters than the mind or surroundings of the sitter; it will be

useless to invoke “the subconscious mind” as an explanation here. I was taken to

the Times office, and did not find the way there by myself; helpers are

plentiful when we are engaged on work of this kind. (p. .)

  

In another communication given later, in reply to the question: “Do you now

understand what it actually is that you operate upon at the Times  office?”' the

father said:

  

It is still a puzzle. On one occasion I thought I saw the complete page set up;

it certainly appeared to be so, and I noticed certain items in it which I

believe proved correct. But on returning to the office a little while after —

for I frequently go twice to make sure of the tests — I found that the page was

not yet set up, and this astonished me and was most perplexing. (p. .)

  

In other communications the deceased clergyman speculates variously upon the

possible methods by which future events may be known, but apparently in that

world as in this the mystery of time is not yet solved.

 

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL

 

   

 

 

.                                                                         

Chapter VI

.                                                                        

PARTIAL MATERIALIZATION

 

  

varieties op materialization

  

All the most interesting phenomena of the seance room are connected in some way

or other with materialization — that is to say, with the building of physical

matter round some astral form, in order that through it the ego inhabiting that

astral form may be able to produce results upon the physical plane. But of this

materialization there are three varieties. Let me here quote a passage from my

own little book upon The Astral Plane, p. 118:

  

The habitues of seances will no doubt have noticed that materializations are of

three kinds: First, those which are tangible but not visible; second, those

which are visible but not tangible; and third, those which are both visible and

tangible. To the first kind, which is much the most common, belong the invisible

spirit hands which so frequently stroke the faces of the sitters or carry small

objects about the room, and the vocal organs from which the “direct voice”

proceeds. In this case an order of matter is being used which can neither

reflect nor obstruct light, but is capable under certain conditions of setting

up vibrations in the atmosphere which affect us as sound. A variation of this

class is that kind of partial materialization which, though incapable of

reflecting any light that we can see, is yet able to affect some of the

ultra-violet rays, and can therefore make a more or less definite impression

upon the camera, and so provide us with what are known as “spirit photographs.”

  

When there is not sufficient power available to produce a perfect

materialization we sometimes get the vaporous-looking form which constitutes our

second class, and in such a case the “spirits” usually warn their sitters that

the forms which appear must not be touched. In the rarer case of a full

materialization there is sufficient power to hold together, at least for a few

moments, a form which can be both seen and touched.

  

Nearly all the phenomena coming under this third subdivision of ours are

effected by means of the first of these types of materialization, for the hands

which cause the raps or tilts, which move objects about the room or raise them

from the ground, are not usually visible, though to be able to act thus upon

physical matter they must themselves be physical. Occasionally, but

comparatively rarely, they may be seen at their work, thus explaining to us how

that work is done in the far more numerous instances in which the mechanism is

invisible to us. Such a case is given to us by Sir William Crookes, F.R.S., in

his interesting book Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, p. 93:

 

  

A luminous hand

  

I was sitting next to the medium, Miss Fox, the only other persons present being

my wife and a lady relative, and I was holding the medium’s two hands in one of

mine, whilst her feet were resting on my feet. Paper was on the table before us,

and my disengaged hand was holding a pencil. A luminous hand came down, from the

upper part of the room, and after hovering near me for a few seconds, took the

pencil from my hand, rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down,

and then rose up over our heads, gradually fading into darkness.

  

The raps and the tilts are too well known to need description, but cases in

which heavy objects are raised and suspended without the contact of visible

hands are somewhat less commonly seen, so it may perhaps be well to cite one or

two of them. In the book just quoted, on p. 89, Sir William Crookes tells us:

  

On five separate occasions, a heavy dining-table rose between a few inches and a

foot and a half off the floor, under special circumstances, which rendered

trickery impossible. On another occasion a heavy table rose from the floor in

full light, while I was holding the medium’s hands and feet. On another occasion

the table rose from the floor, not only when no person was touching it, but

under conditions which I had prearranged so as to assure unquestionable proof of

the fact.

  

It will be seen, therefore, that the similar experi­ence of my own, which I have

described a few pages back, is by no means unique. Mr. Robert Dale Owen, in his

Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World, p. 74, gives a remarkable case of

similar nature:

 

  

cases of levitation

  

In the dining-room of a French nobleman, the Count d’Ourches, residing near

Paris, I saw, on the first day of October, 1858, in broad daylight, at the close

of déjèuner à la fourchette, a dining-table seating seven persons, with fruit

and wine on it, rise and settle down, as already described, while all the guests

were standing round it, and not one of them touching it at all. All present saw

the same thing. Mr. Kyd, son of the late General Kyd, of the British army, and

his lady told me (in Paris, in April, 1859) that in December of the year 1857,

during an evening visit to a friend, who resided at No. 28 Rue de la Ferme des

Mathurins, at Paris, Mrs. Kyd, seated in an armchair, suddenly felt it move, as

if someone had laid hold of it from beneath. Then slowly and gradually it rose

into the air, and remained there suspended for the space of about thirty

seconds, the lady’s feet being four or five feet from the ground; then it

settled down gently and gradually, so that there was no shock when it reached

the carpet. No one was touching the chair when it rose, nor did anyone approach

it while in the air, except Mr. Kyd, who, fearing an accident, advanced and

touched Mrs. Kyd. The room was at the time brightly lighted, as a French salon

usually is; and of the eight or nine persons present all saw the same thing in

the same way. I took notes of the above, as Mr. and Mrs. Kyd narrated to me the

occur­rence; and they kindly permitted, as a voucher for its truth, the use of

their names.

  

People have not infrequently been lifted in this way in their chairs, though

rarely, I fancy, to the height of five feet. Sir William Crookes saw several

instances of the same phenomenon, and thus describes them in his Researches, p.

.

  

On one occasion I witnessed a chair, with a lady sitting in it, rise several

inches from the ground. On another occasion, to avoid the suspicion of this

being in some way performed by herself, the lady knelt on the chair in such a

manner that its four feet were visible to us. It then rose about three inches,

remaining suspended for about ten seconds, and then slowly descended. Another

time two children, on separate occasions, rose from the floor with their chairs,

in full daylight, under (to me) the most satisfactory conditions; for I was

kneeling and keeping close watch upon the feet of the chair, and observing that

no one might touch them.

  

The most striking cases of levitation which I have witnessed have been with Mr.

Home. On three separate occasions have I seen him raised completely from the

floor of the room. Once sitting in an easy chair, once kneeling on his chair,

and once standing up. On each occasion I had full opportunity of watching the

occurrence as it was taking place.

  

There are at least a hundred recorded instances of Mr. Home’s rising from the

ground, in the presence of as many separate persons, and I have heard from the

lips of the three witnesses to the most striking occurrence of this kind — the

Earl of Dunraven, Lord Lindsay and Captain C. Wynne — their own most minute

accounts of what took place. To reject the recorded evidence on this subject is

to reject all human testimony whatever; for no fact in sacred or profane history

is supported by a stronger array of proofs.

  

Colonel Olcott, in his People from the Other World, also mentions having heard

this account from the lips of one of the witnesses. He gives us, too, some

striking instances of levitation upon the part of the Eddy brothers.

  

I have myself on three occasions been present when the medium, seated in a heavy

armchair, was lifted clear over our heads as we sat round the table, and placed

in the centre of it. On two of these occasions I was myself holding one of the

medium’s hands, and continued to hold it during his aerial excursion, while a

trustworthy friend held the other. Although this took place in darkness, we were

certain that no one from the physical plane lifted that chair; though as a

matter of fact we did not need that assurance, for there was no one in the room

at all capable of such a feat of herculean strength. The moment that the medium

and his big chair were safely landed on the table, raps called for a light by

the prearranged signal, so that we might see what had been done, our dead

friends being evidently rather proud of their achievement.

 

  

lifted то the CEiling

  

I myself was once lifted at a seance in rather an unusual way — at least I have

not heard of any other case exactly similar. It was at one of the earliest of

the public seances which I attended, and many people entirely unknown to me were

present. Some ladies on the opposite side of the table cried out that a hand was

patting and caressing them, but this in absolute darkness did not seem to be

entirely convincing; so that when their exclamations of delight and gratitude to

the “dear spirit” were becoming a little monotonous I asked quietly: “Will the

spirit be so kind as to come across and touch me?” I had hardly expected any

re­sponse, but the “spirit” took me promptly at my word; my hand was instantly

seized in a strong grasp, and pulled upwards so that I was compelled to rise

from my chair. Even when I stood upright, the upward pull still continued, so I

hastily stepped on to the seat of my chair. Still the steady irresistible pull,

and a moment later I was hanging in the air by one hand, and still ascending. My

knuckles touched the smooth, cold surface of the plastered ceiling — the room

was a lofty one —and then, apparently through the ceiling, another hand patted

mine softly, and I felt myself sinking. Directly afterwards my feet touched the

chair, and only then the firm grasp loosened, giving me a final hearty

hand-shake as it left me. I climbed down from my chair, convinced that “the

clasp of a vanished hand” might sometimes be a fairly strong one.

  

When I told this story to sceptics afterwards I was always met with one of two

explanations. First, that there was a trap-door in that ceiling, and that some

mechanical device was employed; second­ly, that the medium was standing on the

table in the darkness, and lifted me himself. To the first suggestion I reply

that the ceiling was plain, smooth, whitewashed plaster, with never a crack in

it, for I climbed again upon my chair in full light after­wards to examine it;

and though it was some distance beyond my reach, it would have been utterly

impossible to miss seeing a crack if one had been there. Besides, my request

could not have been foreseen, and arrangements made to grant it in so striking a

manner. As to the second hypothesis, the medium was a small, spare man, and I

weigh over thirteen stone; perhaps the sceptic who suggests this will himself

stand upon the edge of a circular dining-table with one central support, and

then with one hand lift a much heavier man than himself straight up above his

own head, holding him suspended merely by one of his hands all the while.

 

  

тRUе levitation

  

The probabilities are that all the cases of lifting which I have quoted or

described were performed by materialized hands, just as in this last experience

of my own. There is quite another method of levitation which is occasionally

practiced in Oriental countries — a much more occult and scientific method,

dependent for its success upon the knowledge and use of a power of repulsion

which balances the action of gravitation. I have also seen that, and indeed

every student of practical magic is familiar with its employment; but it does

not seem to me at all probable that this power was called into requisition in

any of the above cases.

  

 

Gravitation is in fact a force of a magnetic nature, and may be reversed and

changed into repulsion, just as ordinary magnetism can be. Such a reversal of

this peculiar type of magnetism can be produced at will by one who has learnt

its secret, but it has also frequently been produced unintentionally by

ecstatics of various types. It is related, for example, both of St. Teresa and

of St. Joseph of Cupertino that they were often thus levitated while engaged in

meditation. But I fancy that those who are levitated at a spiritualistic seance

are generally simply upborne by the materialized hands of the dead.

  

These same materialized hands manage all the smaller business of the seance;

they wind up the perennial musical box and wave it over the heads of the

sitters; they play (sometimes quite sweetly) upon that curious kind of miniature

zither which is usually euphoniously termed “fairy bells”; they sprinkle water

or perfume sometimes; they bring flowers and fruits and even lumps of sugar,

which I have known them deftly to insert into the mouths of their friends.

  

It is usually they also that are employed in slate-writing, though this may

sometimes be managed still more rapidly by means of precipitation, to which we

shall make reference presently. But generally the fragment of pencil enclosed

between the slates is guided by a hand, of which only just the tiny points

sufficient to grasp it are materialized.

 

  

A slate-wRiting seance

  

One well-known medium in London used to carry this slate-writing to a high

degree of perfection some fifty years ago. It was the finest possible

performance to which to take the bigoted sceptic, who boasted that nothing ever

 

happened or would happen while he was present. One made an appointment with the

medium for, say, eleven o’clock on a bright summer morning; one took the sceptic

into a stationer’s shop on the way and made him buy two ordinary school slates,

put a tiny crumb of slate-pencil between them (or sometimes two or three

fragments of different colours) and then have them packed up in brown paper and

strongly tied. One then purchased a stick of the best sealing wax and requested

the sceptic to seal the string with his own seal in as many places as he wished

— the more the better — and on no account whatever to allow that parcel to go

out of his hands.

  

Then we proceeded to the medium’s house and commenced the seance, cautioning the

sceptic to sit upon his parcel in order to make sure that no one tampered with

his slates. The medium com­menced operations with slates of his own, which were

always lying upon the table for examination before the seance began; and the

sceptic had usually elaborate theories about these, as to how messages had

already been written upon them, and washed out with alcohol so that they would

presently reappear; or else that of course they would presently be dropped out

of sight and others substituted for them by sleight-of-hand. It was best as a

rule to let him talk, and take no notice, knowing that one could afford to bide

one’s time.

  

The medium usually held a single slate pressed with one hand against the under

surface of the table — a little plain wooden table with no drawers, and

obviously no contrivance of any sort about it — not even a cloth upon it. Under

these conditions answers were written to any simple question, or any sentence

dictated was faithfully taken down. Here the sceptic usually interposed by

requesting that a sentence might be written in Sanskrit or Chinese or the

Cherokee dialect, and was hugely triumphant if the controlling “spirit”

confessed that he did not happen to know these languages. Occasionally he

fetched somebody who did know them, and then the sceptic was somewhat staggered,

though he still clung to the idea that somehow or other the whole thing was a

fraud.

  

Presently, however, when the seance got into full swing, one insinuatingly asked

the directing entities whether they could write upon our own slates; and though

I have once or twice been told that they feared the power was not sufficient, in

three cases out of four the reply was in the affirmative. Then one turned to the

sceptic and requested him to produce his parcel, asking him to examine the seals

so as to be perfectly certain that it had not been touched. He was then

courteously requested to hold the sealed parcel in his own hands above the

table, the medium perhaps taking hold of one corner of it, or perhaps merely

laying his hand lightly upon it. Then the sceptic was further requested to

formulate a mental question, but on no account to give any indication as to its

nature. He did this, and it was generally an interesting study to watch the

expression of his face when he heard the sound of rapid writing going on in the

parcel between his hands. In a few moments three quick taps signified that the

message was finished, and the medium removed his hand, gravely asking the

sceptic to examine his seals and make sure that they were intact.

  

He then cut his parcel open, and found the inside surfaces of his new slates

covered with fine writing on the subject of his mental question. Usually for the

time he was speechless, and went home to think it over; but by the end of the

week he had generally made up his mind that we had been in some inexplicable way

deceived or hallucinated, and that “of course we did not really see what we

thought we saw.” Nevertheless it was a hard nut to crack, and his frequent

references later to “that clever but ridiculous performance” showed that it

remained in his mind, and had perhaps done him more good than he was willing to

own.

  

The answers given in this way sometimes displayed considerable intelligence and

knowledge. It appeared to me, however, that they were often considerably

modified by decided opinions on the part of the questioner — whether from a

friendly desire to please him, or because the ideas were largely a re­flection

of those in his own mind, there was not sufficient evidence to show. For

example, I remember myself receiving a perfectly definite statement regarding

the existence of certain persons in whom I was deeply interested; the

communicating entity not only positively asserted this existence, but  adopted

towards them precisely my own attitude. Yet I afterwards discovered that only a

week previously what professed to be the same entity had, in writing answers for

another person, totally denied that any such personages existed at all! It may

have been that here we had to deal with two entirely different communicating

entities, one masquerading for some reason or other under the name and title of

the other; but it is at least significant that in each case the opinion

expressed agreed precisely with that of the questioner. On the other hand, I am

 

bound to admit that in many cases the answers given were not at all what any of

us expected, and contained information which could by no possibility have been

known to any of those present.

  

It is not difficult to see why this slate-writing should be one of the easiest

forms of conveying a message, and indeed the only kind of writing that can

readily be performed in full daylight. For the fact is that it never is

performed in daylight, even though the surrounding conditions are so absolutely

satisfactory to us. Between the two slates or between the slate and the table

there is always the darkness which makes materialization easy. When a physical

body is slowly grown and built together in the ordinary way, when it is

thoroughly permeated by the vital principle and definitely energized by the

spirit, it becomes a relatively permanent organism, and can withstand the impact

of vibrations from without, within certain limits.

  

We must remember that materialization is a mere imitation of this — a mere

concourse of fortuitous atoms, temporarily put together in opposition to the

ordinary laws and arrangements of nature. It therefore needs to be constantly

held together with care and difficulty, and any violent vibration strik­ing it

from without readily breaks it up. It must also be remembered that the matter

employed in materialization is almost all withdrawn from the body of the medium,

and is therefore subject to a strong attraction which is constantly drawing it

back to him. The strong and rapid vibrations of ordinary light will therefore

dissolve a materializa­tion almost instantaneously, except under excep­tional

circumstances.

  

It can be maintained for some time in presence of a faint light, such as that

given by gas turned low, or by what is called a “luminous slate”, which is

usually a piece of wood or cardboard coated with luminous paint, and exposed to

the sun during the day, so that at night it may give out a faint phosphorescent

radiance. It is, however, among the resources of the astral plane to produce a

soft light the effect of which seems to be far less violent; and in this it is

sometimes possible for the hand which writes to maintain its corporeal existence

for a considerable period, as is evidenced by the follow­ing extract from a

description of a seance held with Kate Fox by Mr. Livermore on August 18, .

 

  

an hour’s writing

  

The cards became the center of a circle of light a foot in diameter. Carefully

watching this phenomenon, I saw the hand holding my pencil over one of the

cards. This hand moved quietly across from left to light, and when one line was

finished, moved back to commence another. At first it was a perfectly shaped

hand, afterwards it became a dark substance, smaller than the human hand, but

still apparently holding the pencil, the writing going on at intervals, and the

whole remaining visible for nearly an hour. I can conceive of no better evidence

for the reality of spirit-writing. Every possible precaution against decep­tion

had been taken. I held both hands of the medium throughout the whole time. I

have the cards still, minutely written on both sides; the sentiments there

expressed being of the most elevated character, pure and spiritual. (The

Debatable Land, p. .)

  

This account gives us an example of the difficulty, even under these

exceptionally favourable condi­tions, of maintaining a materialization for so

long a period. It seems to have been impossible to preserve the shape of the

hand, but something visible which could still hold and guide the pencil was

somehow kept together until the necessary work was finished.

  

It seems probable that the working of the little board called planchette is

sometimes accomplished by means of a partial materialization, for I have seen

cases in which it distinctly moved underneath the fingers which were resting

upon it, and was in no way moved by them. When it is clearly the hand which

moves the board, this phenomenon of course belongs to our first class, in which

the body of the medium is utilized, though that medium may be entirely

unconscious of what is being done.

 

  

direct painting

  

I have also seen some good specimens of painting which were probably executed in

the same manner as the writing above described. I say probably, because as they

were executed in darkness, it is impossible to be absolutely sure; they may have

been precipitations, although as that is a more difficult process, I do not

think that it is likely to have been employed. There have been mediums who have

made a specialty of this production of pictures, and it is certainly a very

pleasing exhibi­tion of astral power. I have twice seen a little landscape,

perhaps eight inches by five, produced in total darkness on a marked piece of

paper in from fifteen to twenty minutes. The execution was fair, the colours

were natural and harmonious, and some of the paint was still wet when the lights

were turned up. I am perfectly sure that the sheet of paper employed was in each

case that which I brought with me. In one instance, just before the lights were

turned down, I tore a curiously jagged fragment off one of the corners of the

piece and kept it in my own possession until the picture was completed, and

found when the lights were turned up that it fitted exactly into the tear in the

sheet upon which the landscape was drawn.

  

On neither of these occasions was the landscape one which I recognized, though

at the house of the same medium I have seen well-executed paintings of scenes

with which I was familiar, which I was told had been produced in exactly the

same manner. In both of these cases a box of water-colours, a palette and

brushes were provided, and after the seance they bore signs of having been used.

I have also on another occasion, and with a different medium, seen a much larger

drawing in coloured chalks produced in darkness in even less time, but in this

case the execution, though bold and dashing, was certainly crude and erratic.

The subject in this case was a lady’s head, and the likeness was recognizable,

though not flattering. On all these occasions it was absolutely certain that the

medium was in no way concerned in the production of the pictures, his hands

being held during the whole time, and the outline of his form being sufficiently

visible in two of the cases to prevent him from moving without instant

detection.

 

  

musical performances

  

A man who has attained facility during life in the management of any kind of

instrument does not lose his power when he drops his physical body. I have heard

both a violin and a flute played fairly well by invisible hands, when there was

light enough to see that the instruments were not being touched by any of the

persons present in the physical body. I have also many times seen a concertina

played in the same way, sometimes while I myself held the other end of the

instrument. Many times also a piano has been played in my presence by invisible

hands, and it seemed to make no difference whether the lid enclosing the

keyboard was open or shut. Sometimes, before beginning to play, the dead man

would dash back the lid, and then we could see the keys depressed as the playing

went on precisely as though we ourselves had been operating upon the instrument.

If during the performance we closed the piano, the playing usually went on just

as if it had remained open. On two occasions I have heard the wires of a piano

played without moving the keys, just as the strings of a harp might be.

  

Another instance of a man who after death retained his power to operate a

machine to which he had been accustomed during life is given by Sir William

Crookes on p. 95 of his book. The operator was not exactly using his instrument,

but he undoubtedly showed that he still possessed the power to do so, had the

instrument been there. The story is as follows:

 

  

the telegRaph opeRatoR

  

During a seance with Mr. Home, a small lath, which I have before mentioned,

moved across the table to me, in the light, and delivered a message to me by

tapping my hand; I repeating the alphabet, and the lath tapping me at the right

letters. The other end of the lath was resting on the table, some distance from

Mr. Home’s hands.

  

The taps were so sharp and clear, and the lath was evidently so well under

control of the invisible power which was governing its movements, that I said:

“Can the intelligence governing the motion of this lath change the character of

the movements, and give me a telegraphic message through the Morse alphabet by

taps on my hand?” (I have every reason to believe that the Morse code was quite

unknown to any other person present, and it was only imperfectly known to me.)

Immediately I said this, the character of the taps changed, and the message was

continued in the way I had requested. The letters were given too rapidly for me

to do more than catch a word here and there, and consequently I lost the

message; but I heard sufficient to convince me that there was a good Morse

operator at the other end of the line, wherever that might be.

 

  

the direct voice

  

In the case of the flute above mentioned it is obvious that the performer must

have materialized not only finger-tips to press the keys, but also a mouth with

which to blow. It is by no means uncommon at a seance for the dead man to

construct vocal organs sufficiently to produce intelligible sound, though this

appears to be (as indeed one would naturally suppose) a much more difficult feat

than the production of a hand. Often the construction of such organs seems to be

imperfect, and the resulting voice is a hoarse whistling whisper. I think almost

invariably the first attempts of an unaccustomed ghost to materialize a voice go

no further than the softest of whispers; but on the other hand the “spirit

guide” of a regular medium, having practiced the art of materializing organs and

speaking through them many hundreds of times, often possesses a perfectly

natural and characteristic voice.

  

All those who have been in the habit of attending the seances of certain

well-known mediums during the last half-century must be familiar with the round,

sonorous voice of the director who elects to be known by the name of “John

King”, and the hearty, friendly manner in which he greets those whom he has come

to know and trust. I well remember an occasion when, having invited a medium

down to my cottage in the country, we were walking together across a

wheat-field, and a well-known “spirit-voice” joined in our conversa­tion in the

most natural way in the world, just exactly as if a third person had been

walking with us.

  

I am quite aware that the ordinary explanation of a “spirit-voice” is that it is

an effort of ventriloquism on the part of the medium, but when one recognizes

the voice as one well known in earth-life that explanation seems a trifle

unsatisfactory. Also it seems to me to fail to account for the fact that on one

occasion, at a seance in my own house, the unseen performers treated us to a

song in which all four parts were distinctly audible, two of them being taken by

very good female voices — and that although the medium was of the male sex (and

in a deep trance anyhow) and none but men (trusted friends of my own) were

physically present in the room.

  

Under this head of partial materialization we must also include what are

sometimes called “spirit photographs”; for whatever can be photographed must of

course be physical matter, capable of reflecting some of the rays of light which

can act upon the sensitized plate of the camera. It does not at all follow that

it need be composed of matter visible to us, for the camera is sensitive to a

large range of actinic ultra-violet rays which produce no impression whatever

upon our eyes as at present constituted.

  

I know enough of photography to realize how easily a so-called

“spirit-photograph” could be produced by trickery, but I also know that there

are a great many which were as a matter of fact not so produced. I have seen a

large number of those which were taken under test conditions for Mr. W. T. Stead

when he was investigating this curious form of mediumship, and I have also been

favoured with a sight of several of those taken by and for our late

Vice-President, Mr. A. P. Sinnett.

 

  

interesting photographs

.                                                                         A

 

good typical case of this photography of the partially materialized dead was

related to me by a veteran army officer. It seems that he had lost (as we

usually call it) three daughters by death, within a comparatively short space of

time. One day in a large city, hundreds of miles from home, he saw an

advertisement of a photographer who professed to be able to produce portraits of

the dead, so he turned into his studio then and there, and asked to be taken. He

gave no indication of what he expected, or indeed that he expected anything at

all beyond his own portrait; and he asserts that it was absolutely impossible

that he could have been, in any way known to the photographer. Yet when he

called for the portraits three floating faces appeared grouped about his own,

fainter than his, but unmistakably recognizable. He showed me the photograph,

and also the portraits of his daughters taken during their physical life; they

were unquestionably the same young ladies as those in the picture taken after

their death.

  

In Photographing the Invisible Dr. James Coates gives us a number of examples of

photographs on which appear psychic “extras,” as they are some­times called.

Many of these were produced under conditions which precluded any sort of

preparation of the plates, and were developed in the presence of reliable

witnesses. A curious example on the photograph of a Chinese man is recounted by

Mr. Edward Wyllie, a well-known American “spirit-photographer”. (pp. 167-.)

.                                                                         I

had been giving tests to some gentlemen in Los Angeles in connection with the

Psychic Research Society. Some were convinced of the fact of psychic

photography, and others were not. It was suggested by one member it would be a

good thing if I could obtain “extras” on the plate of someone wholly ignorant of

both the subject and of spiritualism. Then it could not be said that their

know­ledge or attitude had anything to do with the results. It was not easy to

get someone with the qualifications desired. When one day “Charlie,” a Chinese

laundryman, called for my clothes, it struck me to ask him: “Charlie, like to

have your picture taken?” “No,” he replied. “No likee that.” He knew that I was

a photographer, but had a dislike, I think, to photography, as most Chinese

have. I tried to persuade him after he had called two or three times. I showed

him that there could be no harm in it, and I would take a “glass” (as negatives

are called) for nothing, and print him some nice pictures of himself. Charlie

wanted to go home and change his clothes, but I knew it would not do to let him

slip, and got him to sit. He was very much scared. I made his mind easy and

asked him to come in a few days, and I would give him the pictures. When I

developed the negative there were two “extras “on it — a Chinese boy and some

Chinese writing. When Charlie came round I showed him the print, and he said:

“That my boy; where you catchee him? “I asked him if it was not one of his

cousins in the city. He said, “No, that my boy. He not here; where you catchee

him?” I asked him where his boy was, and he said, “That my boy. He’s in China.

Not seen him for three years.”

  

Charlie would not believe that I had not by some magic got his “boy here”.

Charlie then brought other Chinamen — friends of his own — to see the picture,

and they all recognised the youngster. Charlie did not know that his son was

dead. As far as he knew, he was alive and well.

  

Mr. Wyllie also had remarkable success in obtain­ing the same sort of psychic

impressions upon photographs of letters and locks of hair. Dr. Coates relates

(p. 197 et seq.) that before Mr. Wyllie was induced to visit Scotland, a test of

his photography was proposed in The Two Worlds (1st Jan., 1909). In consequence

about forty people sent locks of hair to be photographed. All got some “extras,”

some of which were identifiable portraits of depart­ed friends.

  

Among the experimenters were Mrs. A. S. Hunter, widow of Dr. Archibald Hunter of

Bridge of Allan, and Mme. A. L. Pogosky, also a widow, director of the Russian

Peasant Industries in London. The photograph of Mme. Pogosky’s card had two

psychic faces upon it — one of Dr. Hunter, and the other that of the deceased

wife of Mr. Auld, a friend of Dr. Coates’. Mrs. Hunter's photograph showed, in

addition to the letter and lock of hair which she had sent, three forms,

identified as an old schoolfellow, and a niece and nephew, all dead. Referring

to the picture of Mrs. Auld, Dr. Coates remarks:

.                                                                        

Here we have an identified portrait of a lady, taken by a stranger six thousand

miles away, wholly ignorant of Mr. Auld or ourselves. I had not written this

medium (Mr. Wyllie) till the 17th of March, 1909, nearly two months after this

picture was obtained, and of its existence none in Rothesay were aware till . .

. nearly fourteen months afterwards. Truly truth is stranger than fiction.

  

Later Mr. Wyllie visited Dr. and Mrs. Coates in Scotland, and took many “spirit”

photographs there. When he was packing up his things preparatory to taking his

departure Mrs. Coates (who was herself psychic) had a sudden impulse to ask for

a sitting. Mr. Wyllie had packed away his favourite camera, but there were still

in the room a Kodak camera and some plates purchased locally, that is, in

Rothesay. One of the plates was exposed on Mrs. Coates, and when developed

showed also a good likeness of her grandmother (p. 223),

  

That Mr. Wyllie’s “extras” could be produced under test conditions was proved by

the report of a test committee, appointed by the Glasgow Association of

Spiritualists. They stipulated that they should provide the camera and plates;

the former belonged to one of the committee, the latter, eight in number, were

bought at the nearest chemist’s twenty minutes before the meeting, and were put

into slides in the chemist’s dark room. After the plates were exposed they were

immediate­ly placed in the camera bag and taken away by the committee and

developed. Under these test conditions several of the plates showed psychic

impressions. (pp. 253-.)

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL                                                                        

 

 

Chapter VII

.                                                                         THE

MANIPULATION OF PSYCHIC RODS

 

  

the goligher circle

  

In three valuable little books — The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (1916),

Experiments in Psychical Science (1919), and Psychic Structures (1921) — the

late Mr. W. J. Crawford, D.Sc., of Belfast, Ireland, has given us a carefully

classified account of a long series of investigations into the telekinetic

phenomena of the Goligher Circle, his studies having been carried on especially

from the mechanical point of view. The circle is so called because it is

composed of the principal medium, Miss Kathleen Goligher, and other members of

her family, namely her three sisters, brother, father and brother-in-law, with

only occasional visitors.

 

  

recording the sounds

  

It is characteristic of Dr. Crawford’s methods that at the very beginning of his

research he should seek to convince himself and the rest of the circle that they

were merely subjects of hallucinatory sense-images induced by the peculiar

conditions of the seance-room. This he did by taking a number of phonograph

records. He explained to the invisible operators, with whom he was in

communication by means of raps, that he was about to make a record, and

requested them to give as complete a selection as possible of the various sounds

which they had been producing in the circle, and all within the space of time

permitted by the revolutions of the recording cylinder. About this he says:

.                                                                         I

then asked the operators if all was ready, and on their replying by three raps

in the affirmative I called out, “Start”. Immediately a thunderous blow

resounded on the floor and I started the machine. Half a dozen sledge­hammer

blows, varieties of double and treble knocks, and shufflings like sand-paper

rubbing the floor were given in succession; the hand-bell was lifted and rung;

the legs of the table were raised and knocked on the floor; the sound of wood

being apparently sawn was heard; and so on. They kept up this terrific noise

until I called out, “Stop”; when, at the word, perfect silence reigned. We then

tried the record, and found that most of the noises had been recorded; but the

bell, owing to its being rung too far away, was almost inaudible. I therefore

suggested to the operators that they should ring the bell right in the middle of

the circle and as near the trumpet of the phonograph as possible, and I promised

not to upset their conditions of equilibrium by attempting to touch it.

Accordingly, during the taking of the next record the bell was rung within an

inch or two of my hand, and so close to the trumpet that it accidently touched

it and knocked it off the instrument. This partly spoiled the record.

  

In all, three good records and the partly spoiled one were taken, and these show

beyond dispute, as was anticipated, that the sounds are ordinary objective

sounds. (R. P. P., pp. 30-.)

 

  

weighing the medium

  

Further on in the same book Dr. Crawford records a number of experiments in

which he weighed the medium before and during the levitation of the table or

stool placed in the center of the circle of the sitters, it being never in

contact with any portion of the body or dress of the medium or any other sitter.

His conclusions as to this are given as follows:

(a)                When the table is steadily levitated, a weight is added to

the medium very nearly equal to the weight of the table.

(b)                The seat of the reaction would therefore appear to be chiefly

the medium herself.

(c)                 Taking an average over the six cases, the increased weight

on the medium seems to be about 3 per cent less than the weight of the levitated

table. (pp. 44-.)

  

Wishing then to discover if any of the weight of the steadily levitated table

was added to other members of the circle, he asked Mr. Morrison (the

brother-in-law) to sit on the chair on the weighing machine which had previously

been occupied by the medium, while she sat on an ordinary chair in the circle.

When the table was levitated, Mr. Morrison’s weight rose two ounces. As this

might have been due to other causes, Dr. Crawford balanced the steelyard of the

weighing machine and then, asked the operators to jerk the table up and down in

the air. While it was moving, the steelyard went up and down lightly against the

stops, in synchronism with the movement of the table. After a number of such

experiments he drew the conclusion that when the table is steadily levitated the

reaction falls upon the body of the medium to the extent of at least 95%, and

that a small proportion is distributed over the bodies of the other sitters.

Thus:

.                                                                         As

Admiral Moore suggests, when a table is steadily levitated the effect is

precisely the same as it would be if the medium lifted it herself with her

hands, aided by a very slight assistance from the members constituting the

circle — say, the help that could be given by a force applied by one finger

each. (p. .)

 

  

the lines oF force

  

Dr. Crawford goes on to relate that in the course of many investigations, when

he and others sought to press down the levitated table they encountered an

elastic resistance, but to their surprise, when they tried to push the table

towards the medium they found a perfectly rigid or solid resistance. Whenever a

visitor undertook to try to prevent the table from rising, it did so

nevertheless; first the two legs nearest to the medium rose, as though the table

were being tilted at the inclination most suitable for a projection from the

medium to gain the shortest and most powerful grasp. As this occurred wherever

the visitor might be standing (though it must be understood that he was in no

case permitted to do so directly between the medium and the table) it would seem

that there is a projection in the direction suggested by the diagram reproduced

herewith. (Fig. 4, p. .)

 

 

  

.                                                                        

 

 

  

Further experiments with a compression spring-balance under the table, when the

operators were requested to levitate the table in their usual manner, gave the

result, to take one example, that the vertical reaction for the seance table

weighing103/8 lb, was greater than 28 lb, and showed that there was also a

horizontal pressure against the balance and away from the medium, amounting to

about 5 lb. (p. 120). A stool weighing 23/4 lb when levitated above a drawing

board weighing 51/2 lb resting upon a compression spring-balance, registered a

downward force of about 24 lb. In this class of experiments it is evident that

in the total we have pressing upon the drawing-board the weight of the stool

plus that of the pillar of psychic matter which is supporting it. In the earlier

type of experiment mentioned above, we have evidently a cantilever support from

the medium, not resting on the floor. The full researches into these matters

showed Dr. Crawford that in most cases the cantilever form was used when it

would not inconvenience the medium by tending to overbalance her. (p. .)

   

 

  

Dr. Crawford next invented a very delicate “contact-maker”. Two pieces of

cardboard (c) and wood (w) were hinged together as shown in the diagram (Fig.

22, p. 139). Two small strips of clock-spring (ss) were attached to these, and

to an electric bell circuit, so that when any pres­sure was exerted upon the

wood and cardboard sides so as to bring the two strips into contact the bell

would ring. The instrument was so deli­cate that heavy breathing upon it was

sufficient to cause contact. With this instrument Dr. Crawford explored the

field under the levitated table and near to the medium, and thus found the

situation of the stress-lines of the force from the medium to the table, as in

both cases the bell rang at certain points and the levitation was then

interrupted in some degree. On this he writes as follows:

  

I have some reason to believe that the establishing of these stress-lines (the

links) is for the operators a difficult process, and that once formed they

remain more or less in situ for the duration of the seance. I think they may be

likened to tunnels somewhat laboriously cut through resisting material. Their

basis seems to be physical, for I have actually felt the motion of material

particles near the ankles (and proceeding outwards from them) of the medium (the

stress-lines seem to commence sometimes at the wrists and ankles of my medium),

and I have noticed during the rapping that when my hand interferes with the

particle flow — which seems to correspond with a stress-line — the rapping has

ceased for quite a long time and could seem­ingly only be restarted with

difficulty. In other words, the path had been obliterated. I do not think the

particles of matter (for such I am assuming them to be) are the cause of the

pressure which lifts the table. I think they are the connecting links which

allow the psychic pressure to be transmitted, much in the manner that a wire is

a path which enables electricity to flow. (pp. 140-1).

 

  

feeling the substance

  

In Experiment 65 (p. 145) Dr. Crawford describes what this substance feels like

to the touch. He says:

.                                                                         I

felt no sense of pressure whatever, but I did feel a clammy, cold, almost oily

sensation — in fact, an indescrib­able sensation, as though the air there were

mixed with particles of dead and disagreeable matter. Perhaps the best word to

describe the feeling is “reptilian”. I have felt the same substance often — and

I think it is a substance — in the vicinity of the medium, but there it has

appeared to me to be moving outwards from her. Once felt, the experimenter

always recognizes it again. This was the only occasion on which I have felt it

under the levitated table, though perhaps it is always there, but not usually in

such an intense form. Its presence under the table and also in the vicinity of

the medium shows that it has some­thing to do with the levitation; and in short

I think there can be little doubt that it is actual matter temporarily taken

from the medium’s body and put back at the end of the seance, and that it is the

basic principle underlying the transmission of psychic force.

  

The above-mentioned test was made with his hand under the table near the top

while it was levitated. When he moved his hand to and fro among the psychic

stuff the table soon dropped. On page 225 he also mentions that he has often

felt the same cold, clammy, reptile-like sensation near the ankles of the medium

when rapping was taking place close to her feet at the commencement of a seance,

though he would never experiment in this way at an important sitting, because he

found that it interrupted the flow of matter and put a stop to the phenomena for

the time being.

  

The sensation would lead him to believe that the same quality of matter is

present during rapping as under the levitated table, and he noticed that in the

former case it is in motion in the direction from the body of the medium

outwards; this, he says, can easily be observed by the spore-like sensation as

of soft particles moving gently against the hand. He adds that during levitation

of the table he never actually interrupted the line of stress from the medium to

the table with his hand, but he sometimes placed delicate pressure-recording

apparatus in that line, which showed that there was some mechanical pressure

close to the body of the medium and acting outwards from her towards the

levitated table. In every case the placing of the apparatus in that line soon

caused the table to drop.

  

In Psychic Structures (p. 61) he adds that he distinctly felt a cold breeze

issuing from the neighbourhood of the medium’s ankles and the region just above

her shoes, which appeared to be caused by material particles of a cold,

disagree­able, spore-like matter. As his investigations proceeded he came to

know quite certainly that what he was really doing was to cut across the part of

the structure which was not heavily materialized, as is the end with which its

work is done.

  

Sometimes Dr. Crawford did come in contact with the end of a rod. On some

occasions the operators held the end of a rod stationary in the air while he

pressed against it and kicked it, and found it “softish but very dense”. He says

(Psychic Structures, p. 31) that during one of the tests, when he was poking

about the floor in the medium's neighbour­hood with a wooden rod, he accidently

came against the end of a psychic rod which happened to be out an inch or two up

in the air. In the same place he mentions that the suckers on the ends of the

rods can often be heard slipping over the wood, when they are presumably being

forced off or are taking new grips. He mentions (p. 32) an occasion when the

table suddenly dropped about six inches in the air and simultaneously there was

heard a swishing noise.

  

A visitor to the Circle, Mr. Arthur Hunter, also describes what he himself felt,

as follows:

  

Towards the end of the seance I asked the “operators” (having first obtained the

permission of the leader of the circle) if they could place the end of the

structure in one of my hands. On the reply “Yes” I went inside the circle, lay

down on my right side on the floor alongside the table, and placed my gloved

right hand between the two nearest legs of the table. Almost immediately I felt

the impact of a nearly circular rod-like body about 2 inches in diameter on the

palm of my hand, which was held palm upwards. (The back of my hand was towards

the floor and at a distance of about 5 in. from it.) This circular rod-like body

was flat at the end, i.e., as if the rod were sawn across. It maintained a

steady pressure evenly dis­tributed over the area of impact, and was soft but

firm to the sense of touch. I estimate the magnitude of pressure at from 4 to 6

oz. Without being requested to do so, the “operators” moved this rod-like

structure until I felt the clearly defined edges of the circular blunt end. This

was accompanied by a sensation of roughness, as though the edge were serrated,

such a feeling, I believe, as would be given by a substance similar to very fine

emery paper, (pp. 21-.)

  

In addition to this feeling, he had occasionally had fitful glimpses of the

psychic matter in the ordi­nary red light of the seance room, but in 1919 Dr.

Crawford made a discovery which enabled the form to be much more easily seen. A

sheet of cardboard about one foot square was covered with luminous paint,

exposed to sunlight for some hours and then placed on the floor within the

circle. In the dark seance-room such luminous sheets shone quite strongly. While

the medium had her feet and ankles locked in a box the operators were asked to

bring out the structure and hold it over the phosphorescent sheet. In a short

time a curved body somewhat resembling the toe of a boot advanced into the

light. The operators modified it into many shapes, while Dr. Crawford watched

the changes. The end portion would contract and gradually lengthen until a

pointed shape was produced, and then that would sometimes curl round into a

hook, twisting and untwisting before his eyes. It could also spread out sideways

until it resembled a mushroom or a cabbage. The flexibility, he says, was

marvellous. (pp. 111-3).

 

  

the cantilevers

  

Following upon a great number and variety of experiments Dr. Crawford put

forward his cantilever theory for levitation of light tables, based upon the

fact that (1) during steady levitation with no apparatus or other impedimenta

below the table, the weight of the table is practically added to that of the

medium; (2) the medium is under stress, the muscles of her arms from wrist to

shoulder being rigid, and other parts of the body being similarly affected,

though to a less degree, and (3) there is no reaction on the floor under the

table. The idea that the force employed is in the form of a cantilever issuing

direct to the table from the body of the medium is also supported by the facts

that vertical pressure meets with elastic resistance, while pressure towards the

medium meets with solid resistance. His summation of the theory, after

considering all mechanical evidence, and after conversing on the subject with

the operators by means of raps, was that:

  

The cantilever arm gets under the table — probably a more or less straight arm

in this case, as there is little stress. Whatever the physical composition of

the sub­stratum of the end of the arm may be, it has the power to take an

adhesive grip on certain substances, such as wood, with which it comes into

contact. The broad columnar end of the arm grips adhesively the under surface of

the table. (R.P.P., p. 167).

  

On page 230 (R. P. P.) this theory is confirmed by a lady clairvoyant who

happened to be present at some of the experiments. She said that she saw under

the table, close to the under surface and extending down a little way, a whitish

vapoury substance which increased in density when the table was levitated. She

was able to call out that a movement was about to occur before it actually took

place, by noticing the increase of density and opacity. She explained that the

column did not reach to the floor, but that a band of it came from the medium

and was continuous with that under the table, and also that there were very thin

bands, like ribbons, coming from all the other sitters as well, and joining it.

She also saw various “spirit forms” and “spirit hands” manipulating the psychic

material.

  

But the culmination of proof arrived when Dr. Crawford succeeded in taking

photographs of the structure. Quite a number of photographs of matter thus

issuing from the medium and forming these structures have been published in

Psychic Structures. The first of these faces page 10, and shows the general form

of the structure as above described, and the fact that it is connected not only

with the medium but also with other sitters,

 

.                                                                         

In Experiments in Psychical Science (p. 14) Dr. Crawford recounts how he

obtained from the operators a description of the dimensions and shape of a

normal levitating cantilever. They said that the top of the columnar part of the

cantilever is spread out into a broad flat surface of area approxi­mating to the

under surface of the table, that the vertical and horizontal sections are about

4 inches in diameter, the latter being 3 or 4 inches above the floor, and that

just before entering the body of the medium the rod widens out to a diameter of

about 7 inches. Dr. Crawford drew the figure which we reproduce herewith (Fig.

6, E.P.S., p. 15) to show these facts.

.                                                                         

 

 

  

It was found in certain experiments (E.P.S., p. 31), that when the levitated

table was heavily weighted the medium’s body swung gently forward, and she said

that she felt herself being urged forward, though she was not conscious of any

mechanical pressure. When she swung strongly forward the table dropped. Dr.

Crawford then told her to hold on with her hands to the arms of the chair, while

he placed an additional weight on the table, increasing the whole to nearly 48

lbs. “When the table levitated the medium’s chair tilted forward on its two

front legs and the table dropped.

.                                                                         All

this was further confirmation of the canti­lever method. The operators explained

(p. 33) that they prefer to work with a cantilever, for when they rest the

structure on the floor, as is necessary in some kinds of demonstration, it is

badly strained and much energy is required to maintain its rigidity. So for all

moderate weights, that is up to about 80 lbs. a true cantilever is employed, but

for greater and variable forces they use a supported structure.

  

The question arose (E.P.S., p. 117) as to how the ends of rods and cantilevers

could be acting at their junction with the medium’s body, for certainly a

structure several feet long and supporting 30 or 40 lbs. weight at its end, if

it were a rigid bar, would cause serious pressure, and indeed injury. Dr.

Crawford thinks that the explanation is to be found in the different condition

of the matter. He speaks of X-matter, which can transmit through itself direct

and shear stresses, but cannot transmit them from itself to ordinary matter.

Then he posits Y-matter, a modified form of the former, which is what is usually

called materialized substance. Then he says:

.                                                                         The

Y-matter at the free end of, say, the psychic canti­lever, grips the wood of the

under-surface of the table, which is then levitated. Weight of table is

transmitted to this Y-matter, and from the latter to the X-matter of the body of

structure. The mechanical stress is transmitted along the X-matter right into

the body of the medium. At the place where the structure enters the body of the

medium, no stress of any kind is transmitted to her flesh, because, at this

particular place, we have X-matter and ordinary physical matter in

juxtaposition, and stress cannot be directly transmitted from the former to the

latter. With­in the interstices of the medium’s body the X-matter of the psychic

structure probably ramifies, and each ramification at its extremity becomes

Y-matter, and this Y-matter is attached to various interior portions of the

medium’s body, which thus finally and indirectly take the weight of the table,

(p. .)

  

the raps

  

Similar observations and methods of weighing showed that the weight of the

medium began to diminish just before light raps were heard. Soon afterwards the

weight began to decrease in succes­sive fluxes of 2 to 5 lbs. When a loud blow

was given the weight would diminish as much as 20 lbs., and then in the course

of six or seven seconds it would come nearly back to what it was before.

Numerous observations led to the following conclusions:

.                                                                        

From various parts of the body of the medium psychic semi-flexible rods are

projected, the end portions of which, being struck sharply on the floor, table,

chair, or other body, cause the sharp sounds known generally as raps.

  

These rods have apparently all the characteristics of solid bodies; they are

more or less flexible, and can be varied in length and diameter. Several of the

smaller rods, or one of the largest size, may project from the medium at any one

time. Each one, especially near its extremity, is more or less rigid, and the

rigidity can be varied within limits depending upon conditions of light, the

psychic energy available, and so forth. The rigidity is probably ultimately

brought about by some kind of mole­cular action concerning which we are as yet

perfectly ignorant — the kind of action that produces the same effect on the

cantilever. (p. 193, R. P. P.)

  

In Experiments in Psychical Science (p. 16), the operators’ own account as to

how the raps are produced in two ways is given as follows:

  

Soft raps, bounding-ball imitation, etc. — by beating the side of the rod on the

floor, as one uses a stick for beating a carpet.

.                                                                        

Hard raps—by beating the rod on the floor more or less axially.

  

Dr. Crawford says that while he was obtaining this explanation the operators

illustrated the various styles of raps under consideration by actually rapping

on the floor. When he asked them what were the approximate dimensions of a rod

used to give a fairly hard blow, they gave a sample blow on the floor and told

him that the rod used was about 2 inches in diameter and of uniform thickness

until just before entering the body of the medium, where it increased to about 3

inches. They also said that the same rod could be used to make a variety of

raps: light taps, as though a lead pencil were striking the floor, the bouncing

ball imitations, and also hard blows.

 

  

type writing

  

The Reality of Psychic Phenomena (p. 201) describes an experimental attempt at

typewriting, on a very old Bar-Lock machine. The keys were struck lightly and

rapidly as though a pair of hands was playing over them, but they became jammed

as though several had been struck simultaneously. Dr. Crawford then explained to

the operators that they must strike each key separately and allow time for its

return before striking another. The advice was followed by the operators, who,

however, suc­ceeding in writing only the following:

  

mbx: gcsq'

  

Dr. Crawford remarks that the experiment is chiefly interesting as showing that

the keys can be struck with just the force necessary to produce the correct

result. He adds that the letters on the keys were in some cases much worn, so

that perhaps the operators found some difficulty in reading them.

  

A more successful attempt at typewriting was made at one of the sittings of Mr.

Franek Kluski, and is recorded in Dr. Greley’s book Clairvoyance and

Materialization (p. 269). The seance was one of those intended for the

production of paraffin moulds of materialized hands, of which we will give an

account in a later chapter. Splashing was heard in the paraffin and the hands

were seen by Mr. Broniewski and Prince Lubomirski above the tank, and at the

same time a typewriter which was on the table, fully illuminated by red light,

began to write. The keys were operated quickly, as by a skilful typist. There

was no one near the machine, but the persons holding Mr. Kluski’s hands observed

that the reaction was upon him, for they twitched during the writing. The typed

words were: “Je suis le sourire de 1’équilibre; mon poème d’amour et de vie

emplit les siècles.”

 

  

impressions in clay

.                                                                         A

large number of Dr. Crawford’s experiments were performed by requesting the

operators to press the ends of rods into basins or trays of clay or other

substance which would take the mould, which were placed under the table.

Although the ankles of the medium were securely fastened in various ways, and

the feet and legs of the other sitters were also tied so that they could not get

within 18 in. of the clay, quite frequently, at first somewhat to the surprise

of the investigators, many of the impressions were found to be lined with what

resembled stocking marks, while others seemed similar to impressions which might

be made with the sole of boot or shoe. All these were examined most carefully,

the conclusion being that the forms which resembled the marks of the sole of a

shoe could not possibly have been so made, but were due to the elastic

distortion of the ends of psychic rods, which have the following peculiarities:

.                                                                         

When the free end of the psychic rod is flat it can press on material substances

and grip them by adhesion.

.                                                                         The

gripping action is a true suction, being due to a difference of air pressure,

the air being squeezed out from the space between the flat end of the rod and

the body which it is contacting.

  

In order to produce this suction effect, the end of the rod is covered with what

appears to be a thin, pliable skin. As a matter of fact the end of one of these

large flat-ended rods often feels soft and plasm-like to the touch. The very

finely divided, crater-like appearance of most of the suction marks also shows

decisively that the suction end of such rods must possess a soft, pliable

surface. (P.S., pp. 39-.)

  

The concave impressions varied in size from the mark one could make with one’s

little finger to a size of 4 or 5 sq. in., but the largest was less than half

the size of the largest flat marks. Their peculiarity was that most of them had

the imprint of stocking fabric. This was the usual effect, but on request to the

operator they could also be made quite smooth (p. 53). The impression is,

however, altogether sharper than anything that can actually be made with a

stockinged foot, for in the latter case there is a dull, blunt outline owing to

the foot behind the stocking exerting a squeezing effect, no matter how lightly

it may be applied. But the psychic impression has little raised edges projecting

upwards from the impression left by each thread.

  

The reason why this impression should appear is given as follows. The actual

psychic struc­ture is covered by a film which is formed against the medium’s

feet out of psychic matter oozing round about the little holes in the fabric of

her stockings. It is at first in a semi-liquid state, and it collects and partly

sets on the outer covering of the stocking, and being of a glutinous, fibrous

nature, it takes almost the exact form of the stocking fabric. It is pulled off

the stocking by the operators and then built round the end of the psychic rod.

The large flat impressions, which involve heavy pulls and pushes, have this

surface further thickened and strengthened by the appli­cation of additional

materialized matter, which wholly or partly covers the impression of the

stocking (pp. 56-7).

 

  

transportation of clay

  

It was soon observed that some of the clay was carried back when the material

returned to the medium, and streaks were found upon and within her shoes and

stockings, and on the floor between the medium and the bowl of clay. In a few

cases, when a sitter felt that he or she had been touched by the rod, marks were

also found upon them. All this led Dr. Crawford to try to discover where the

structures emerged from the medium. On page 71 he says that the floor all round

the medium’s shoes was covered with patches of clay, but where her feet rested

on the floor it was clean, which proved that they could not have moved. The clay

had been deposited on the edge of the sole of the shoes and in the slight clear

space between the edge of the sole and the floor, but had not been able to

penetrate where the sole was in actual contact with the floor. It was apparent

that the material had then moved up the shoe and gone into it through the

lace-holes and over the top, and there were generally particles of clay on the

flat of the shoes inside, wherever parts of the foot of the medium were not

 

pressing tightly on the leather. It had also been noticed that there were

sometimes peculiar rustling noises in the neighbourhood of the medium’s feet and

ankles just prior to the phenomena, and that these were probably due to psychic

stuff being sent in fluxes down the material of the stocking. There were also

slight flapping noises on the floor as the material was brought out and placed

there (p. 81).

 

  

the path op the teleplasm

  

These observations led Dr. Crawford to experi­ment extensively with various

powders and colouring matters, in order to trace the path of the material. These

investigations are recorded at length in Psychic Structures. I will here give

only one or two examples. The following is an account of experiment Z (p. 128):

.                                                                         The

medium had her feet on a specially modified electrical apparatus. She had her

feet in the seance shoes and wore white stockings. The operators could be heard

working away at the legs of the medium. After about twenty minutes they said

they wished to deliver a message. This was taken by means of the alphabet and

was to the effect that the white colour of the medium’s stockings was affecting

the plasma, and that it would be necessary for her to change into black ones.

This was done, and phenomena soon commenced. A dish containing flour was placed

well beyond the reach of the medium on the floor, and the operators pushed their

psychic structures into it. At the end of the seance the shoes and stockings

were examined.

  

Result: Only the right shoe and stocking were affected by the flour. On this

stocking there was a large flour-mark right across the interior side, just above

the shoe, and there were marks and smudges on the stocking below the level of

the shoe to the sole. The magnifying glass showed that the whole sole was

covered with flour particles from end to end, and there were particles at the

toes.

.                                                                        

There was flour all up the front and over the laces of the right shoe, as though

the plasma had retreated along the floor, up the front of the shoe to the ankle

of the medium on the interior side, and then down between the stocking and the

shoes to the sole of the foot. Also there were small particles of flour right to

the top of the stocking.

  

In experiment CC gold paint was used:

.                                                                         

Medium had on shoes treated with gold paint, as in the previous seance. At the

end many gold particles were found on one stocking along the sole to the heel

and up over the heel. Also many particles were found on the stocking fabric to

the very top of the stocking. A close inspection showed that there was a regular

stream of gold particles right up both stockings to the top, this stream being

most prominent about the region of the knees.

  

Dr. Crawford’s conclusions from these experiments are given on pages 133-4 as

follows:

.                                                                         The

data given above concerning the movement of powdered substances, such as carmine

or flour, from the interior of the shoes of the medium up the sides of her shoes

and up her stockings can only lead to one conclusion. The plasma must get into

the medium’s shoes in some manner or other. It either originates in her feet and

makes its way to the outside by coming up between her shoes and her stockings,

or it goes into her shoes first, accomplishes some process there, and then comes

out again. It usually issues round the sides of the shoes, up from the middle of

the sole of the foot, where the contact between shoe and stocking is slight,

although usually there is also a considerable move­ment up the back of the heel.

As I have already indicated, this outward and inward movement of the plasma

occurs even if the medium’s feet are laced up in long boots.

  

In many of the experiments already described, as well as a well-defined carmine

path from the feet, there were visible distinct traces of carmine up the

stockings as far as the knees, and even up to the top of the stockings. Usually

these carmine paths were thickest and most plainly visible round about the ball

of the calves at the back, and usually there was more carmine on the stockings

between the legs than on the outside. The question then arose as to whether

there was a flow of plasma from the medium’s body down the legs, as well as the

flow from the feet up­wards, or, indeed, whether the whole of the plasma did not

come from the trunk of the medium, flow down the legs and then, in some peculiar

manner and for some particular reason connected with the building up of the

psychic structures, enter her shoes and fill up the space between stockings and

leather. For, after all, it has to be remem­bered that our feet and legs are

only pieces of apparatus to enable us to move about, analogous to the wheels of

a cart, and that the great centres of nervous energy and reproduc­tive activity

are within the body proper.

  

Further experiments were performed in order to discover whether the plasma

issues from the lower part of the trunk as well as returns by it. The following

is one such experiment, with the investi­gator’s conclusions:

.                                                                         A

little slightly damp carmine was carefully rubbed on the inside of the legs of

the knickers some inches up, and the medium put the knickers on very carefully.

At the end of the seance it was found that the carmine had traced paths right

down the legs of the knickers, had spread out round the embroidery at the edge,

had gone on the stockings, made paths right down the stockings, mostly along the

ball of the leg, and had even gone into the shoes, which were clean ones.

  

Therefore it is certain that plasma issues from the trunk as well as returns

thereby.

  

The quantity of plasma must be considerable, for the carmine had spread round

the medium’s legs right to the posterior, and in between the legs to the base of

the back­bone; i.e. the plasma had at one time or another during the seance

occupied practically all the space which did not make close contact with her

chair. This result suggests that during interruptions in phenomena, or when

light is temporarily lit during a seance, the plasma conceals itself round about

the top of the medium’s legs under her clothing, and does not necessarily all

return to her body. If it always went back into her body, a considerable time

would have to elapse between each burst of phenomena, but this does not usually

occur. So long as the plasma is away from the temporary disturbing influence,

such as rays of light, the purpose of the operators is served (pp.136-7).

 

  

the photographs

  

At last came the time when it became possible to take photographs. This could

only be done after a careful study of the effect of the phenomena upon the

medium. Dr. Crawford had observed (p. 146) that when the medium was sitting on

her chair in the ordinary way, and he placed his hands upon her haunches, and

the development of psychic action was going on, parts of the flesh seemed to

cave in. Then, as the psychic material came back, little round lumps could be

felt filling in on the back of the thighs and on the interior of the thighs.

  

For about a year Dr. Crawford took one photo­graph each seance night, in the

hope that he might ultimately obtain success. The operators had in­formed him by

 

raps that he might finally expect this, though he had to take care to prevent

injury to the medium, as it was necessary gradually to work her up to withstand

the shock of the flash­light upon the plasma. He found that the pulse of the

medium, which was 84 at the beginning, rose to 120 just before the flash (while

the operators were endeavouring to exteriorize a psychic structure fit to be

photographed) and then went back to normal gradually, Observation showed that

generally dur­ing all kinds of phenomena the pulse of the medium rose, the palms

of the hands became a little moist and the fingers cool, but neither temperature

nor respiration seemed to be affected to any degree. (p. 143).

  

Ultimately, as we have already said, he succeeded in his photography. As Dr.

Crawford puts it:

.                                                                        

After innumerable attempts, however, very small patches of plasma were obtained

in full view between the medium’s ankles. As time went on these increased in

size and variety until great quantities of this psychic material could be

exteriorized and photographed. Then the operators began to manipulate it in

various ways, building it up into columns, or forming it into single or double

arms, moulding it into the different shapes with which I had been long familiar

in a general way from previous investi­gation. Not only did they do this, but

they showed unmistakably, by means of set photographs, from what part of the

medium’s body the plasma issued, and by means of ingenious arrangements devised

by themselves brought out many of its properties. (p. 148).

 

   

the direct voice

  

Dr. Crawford also describes, in Experiments in Psychical Science, his

experiments in direct voice phenomena in his own house with a medium known as

Mrs. Z. He sat her upon a weighing machine with the weight balanced, while two

trumpets were placed upright on the floor within the circle. After about fifteen

minutes the lever of the machine fell lightly on the bottom stop, which

indicated that her weight was decreasing, and he found that this decrease

amounted to about 21/2 lbs. Then suddenly a voice called out from somewhere near

the roof within the circle “Weigh me” and a trumpet dropped to the floor, while

the medium’s weight immediately returned to its original value. Fifteen minutes

later the same thing happened again, the same words were heard, a trumpet

dropped and the same weight was recorded.

  

Although these phenomena took place in the dark, and the weighing was merely

felt by Dr. Crawford, it was quite impossible for the medium to have done

anything but sit quite still. She weighed nearly 20 stone, and her slightest

movement would have been detected, while her lifting anything would have

increased, not decreased the weight. Dr. Crawford asked the control if he had

been weighing her or the trumpet, but she did not seem to know.

  

In a later experiment (p. 184) Dr. Crawford arranged to record the direct voice

on a phono­graphic cylinder. He asked the control to bring the mouth of the

trumpet up to the horn of the phonograph, and when she said that she was ready,

requested her to begin to speak as soon as she heard the buzzing of the machine.

Dr. Crawford then says:

  

The cylinder had made only a few revolutions when the control commenced to sing

a song into the horn. This song was three verses in length, and at the end of

each verse she interjected remarks such as “How’s that?” etc. I told her to sing

a little louder, and during the third verse she sang quite loudly.

.                                                                         I

plainly felt the movement of the air just at the mouth of the phonograph horn as

the song was being sung, which would seem to indicate that the end of the

trumpet was moving to and fro at the spot. Moreover, the control’s voice

emanated from a position just at the mouth of the horn. I did not attempt to

touch the trumpet, as I knew from experience that if I did so it would be likely

to drop. If an end of the trumpet was thus at the mouth of the phonograph horn

as it appeared to be, the nearest distance of the other end of the trumpet from

the medium must have been well over four feet. At the conclusion of the song,

and after I had stopped the instrument, I asked the sitters on either side of

the medium if they still had hold of her hands, and they replied in the

affirmative. These sitters afterwards told me that during the taking of the

record the medium’s hands were vibrating rapidly, as though they were under

great nervous stress. (pp. 184-5).

  

As to these records, Dr. Crawford says that there is in them internal evidence

that the voice must have been speaking close to the horn of the phono­graph and

not from some distance away. He adds that it is well known among people who are

continually making records that if the voice speaks too close into the horn a

kind of tinny, metallic sound is produced, which phonographic manu­facturers

call “blasting”. In several places in the two records of the control’s voice

this “blasting” is heard, indicating that the voice must have been very close

to, if not within, the horn of the phonograph.

 

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL                                                                        

 

 

                                                                        

Chapter VIII

.                                                                        

MISCELLANEOUS PHENOMENA

  

precipitation

  

I have already mentioned in connection with the phenomenal production of

paintings or writings that there is another method by which this may be done,

more rapid and efficient, but requiring greater knowledge of the possibilities

of the astral plane. This method is usually described as precipitation, and

broadly speaking its modus operandi is as follows: The man wishing to write or

paint takes a sheet of paper, forms a clear mental image of the writing or the

picture, distinct down to the minutest detail, and then by ah effort of will

objectifies that image and throws it upon the paper, so that the whole picture

or the whole sheet of writing appears instantaneously. It will be seen at once

that this demands far greater power and fuller command of resources than is

likely to be possessed by the ordinary man, either before or after his death;

but just as those who have been trained along that line are capable of producing

such a result while still in the physical body, so there are a few among the

dead who have learnt how such powers may be exercised.

  

I have seen cases in which the writing was precipitated not all at once but by

degrees, so that it appeared upon the paper in successive words, just as it

would have done if written in the ordinary way, except that this process was

much more rapid than any writing could ever be. In the same way I have seen a

picture form itself slowly, beginning at one side and passing steadily across to

the other, the effect being just as though a sheet of paper which had concealed

it was slowly drawn off from an already existing picture.

  

Some persons in performing this feat require to have their materials provided

for them; that is to say, if they have to write a letter, the writing material —

ink or coloured chalk — must be by their side, or if they have to precipitate a

picture the colours must be there either in powder or already moistened. In this

case the operator simply dis­integrates as much of the material as he requires,

and transfers it to the surface of his paper. A more accomplished performer,

however, can gather together such material as he needs from the surrounding

ether; that is to say, he is practically able to create his materials, and so

can sometimes produce results which cannot readily be imitated by any means at

our disposal upon the physical plane.

  

In Photographing the Invisible (pp. 301-3), Dr. J. Coates quotes an experience,

recounted by Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore, relating to the precipitation of a

portrait, which presents a good example of the process often employed:

.                                                                         The

next day a portrait was precipitated on to a Steinbach canvas within two feet of

me. The Bangs sisters each held one side of the canvas, which was put up against

the window, while I sat between them and watched the face and form gradually

appear. A few minutes after they began to appear, the psychics (apparently under

impression) lowered the canvas toward me until it touched my breast. Mary Bangs

then got a message by Morse alphabet on the table: “Your wife is more accustomed

to see me in the other aspect.” Up went the canvas again, and I saw the profile

and bust, but turned round in the opposite direction; instead of the face

looking to the right, it was looking to the left. The portrait then proceeded

apace, until all the details were filled in, and in twenty-five minutes it was

practically finished. Beyond a little deep­ening of the colour, and touches here

and there by the invisible artist, the picture is the same now as when we arose

from the table. The precipitated portrait is very much like a photograph of the

person, taken thirty-five years ago (shortly before death), that I had in my

pocket during the sitting, which the Bangs, of course, had never seen. The

expression of the face, however, is far more ethereal and satisfied than in the

photograph.

.                                                                        

These instances are but two out of many manifestations I witnessed at the Bangs

sisters’ house.

  

The Admiral refers as follows to a full-length portrait which he obtained in the

same way:

.                                                                         On

this occasion the canvases arrived from the shop wet, and we had to wait half an

hour for them to dry. The next day I went to the shop and complained. The woman

who attended said: “The boy who brought your order said you wanted stretched

canvases. When he came to take them away, we found he wanted the paper as well,

so we put it on at once, and of course they left the shop wet.” I relate this

little incident for the benefit of those who vainly imagine that the phenomenon

of precipitation may be due to normal causes.

  

Mr. G. Subba Rau, editor of the West Coast Spectator, Calicut, India, gives an

account (p. 317) of the manner in which he received a precipitated portrait of

his deceased wife, her photograph being in his pocket without the knowledge of

the mediums. Although somewhat incredulous as to the powers of the Bangs

sisters, he arranged to have a sitting with them. He mentions that the sisters

stated that they saw “apparently a life-size image of the photograph I had with

me, and described it correctly in the details. For instance, they saw that I

sat, that my wife stood behind, with her hand on my shoulder; that her face was

round; that she wore a peculiar jewel on the nose and that her hair was parted;

that a dog lay at my feet, and so on.” As to the precipitation of the picture,

he adds (p. 318):

  

They asked me to pick out any two canvas stretchers that lay against the wall,

adding that I might bring my own stretchers if I liked. I took out two which

were very clean and set them on the table against the glass window. I sat

opposite, and the two sisters on either side. Gradually I saw a cloudy

appearance on the canvas; in a few moments it cleared into a bright face, the

eyes formed themselves and opened rather suddenly, and I beheld what seemed a

copy of my wife’s face in the photograph. The figure on the canvas faded away

once or twice, to reappear with clearer outline; and round the shoulder was

formed a loose white robe. The whole seemed a remarkable enlarge­ment of the

face in the photograph. The photograph had been taken some three or four years

before her death, and it was noteworthy that the merely accidental details that

entered into it should now appear on the canvas. For instance, the nose ornament

already referred to, she had not usually worn. Some ornaments were clumsily

repro­duced. One that she had always worn, which was not distinctly visible in

the photograph, was omitted on the canvas. I pointed out these blemishes, and as

the result, when I saw the portrait next day, all the ornaments had disappeared.

I was satisfied that the portrait had been precipitated by some supernormal

agency. As soon as the portrait was finished, I touched a corner of the canvas

with my finger, and greyish substance came off. The portrait is still in my

possession, and it looks as fresh as ever. It was all done in twenty-five

minutes.

  

The same volume contains several chapters deal­ing with psychographs, especially

written messages impressed on photographic plates which have never been exposed.

For example, the Ven. Archdeacon Colley, Rector of Stockton, delivered an Easter

sermon on Sunday evening, 3rd April, 1910, in the parish church. This sermon was

found written on a half-plate which had been sealed up in a light-proof packet,

and held between the hands of six persons for thirty-nine seconds only. Under

these circumstances 1710 words were written in eighty-four lines within the

small compass of the half-plate. The Archdeacon says (p. 378):

  

The smallness of the copper-plate-like writing readers it impossible to be

reproduced by any engraving; while at times, with our greatly esteemed unpaid

mediums in various circles, the writing on our usual quarter-plates is so

microscopic, that to enable us to read it a higher power lens is necessary; and

the character of the calligraphy in English, archaic Greek, Latin, Hebrew,

Italian, French, Arabic, varies continually in our several separate, devotional,

and private gatherings, in places from twenty-four to seventy-seven miles apart.

  

Proofs of the Truth of Spiritualism, by the Rev. Prof. G. Henslow, also contains

illustrations and descriptions of many remarkable psychographs (pp. 187 et seq.)

  

The next point for our consideration is the question of what are called “spirit

lights,” that is to say the different varieties of illumination which are

produced at a seance by the non-physical participators therein. Sir William

Crookes gives a comprehensive catalogue of these on p. 91 of his book before

quoted:

 

  

various kinds of lights

.                                                                        

Under the strictest test conditions I have seen a solid self-luminous body, the

size and nearly the shape of a turkey’s egg, float noiselessly about the room,

at one time higher than any one present could reach standing on tip-toe, and

then gently descend to the floor. It was visible for more than ten minutes; and

before it faded away it struck the table three times, with a sound like that of

a hard solid body. During this time the medium was lying back, apparently

insensible, in an easy chair.

.                                                                         I

have seen luminous points of light darting about and settling on the heads of

different persons; I have had questions answered by the flashing of a bright

light a desired number of times in front of my face. I have seen sparks of light

rising from the table to the ceiling, and again falling upon the table, striking

it with an audible sound. I have had an alphabetic communication given by a

luminous cloud floating upwards to a picture. Under the strictest test

conditions, I have more than once had a solid, self-luminous, crystalline body

placed in my hand by a hand which did not belong to any person in the room. In

the light, I have seen a luminous cloud hover over a heliotrope on a side-table,

break a sprig off, and carry the sprig to a lady; and on some occasions I have

seen a similar luminous cloud visibly condense to the form of a hand, and carry

small objects about.

  

I have already described the three varieties of lights which showed themselves

to me during my preliminary home experiments without a recognized medium; and

though I have seen many such lights since, they have been almost all of the same

general character as those. On several occasions, however, I have seen a light

much brighter than any of those, apparently of an electrical character, capable

of fully lighting up the room, and in one case of blinding brilliance. This

latter manifestation is rare at a seance, as, for reasons previously described,

it would break up any partial materializations which might be necessary for the

production of other phenomena.

  

Another interesting power at the command of experimenters on the astral plane is

that of disintegration and of reintegration, to which we have already referred

when speaking of precipitation. This is simply the process of reducing any

object to an impalpable powder — in fact, into an etheric or even atomic

condition. This may be brought about by the action of extremely rapid vibration,

which overcomes the cohesion of the molecules of the object. A still higher rate

of vibration, perhaps of a somewhat different type, will further separate these

molecules into their constituent atoms. A body thus reduced to the etheric or

atomic condition can be moved with great rapidity from one place to another; and

the moment that the force which had been exerted to bring it into that condition

is withdrawn, it will at once resume its original state.

 

  

How foRm Is retained

  

To answer an obvious objection which will at once occur to the mind of the

reader I may be allowed to quote once more a few sentences from The Astral

Plane.

  

Students often at first find it difficult to understand how in such an

experiment the shape of the article can be preserved. It has been remarked that

if any metallic object — say, for example, a key — be melted and raised to a

vaporous state by heat, when the heat is withdrawn it will certainly return to

the solid state, but it will no longer be a key, but merely a lump of metal. The

point is well taken, though as a matter of fact the apparent analogy does not

hold good. The elemental essence which informs the key would be dissipated by

the alteration in its condition — not that the essence itself can be affected by

the action of heat, but that when its temporary body is destroyed (as a solid)

it pours back into the great reservoir of such essence, much as the higher

principles of a man, though entirely unaffected by heat or cold, are yet forced

out of a physical body when it is destroyed by fire.

  

 

Consequently, when what had been the key cooled down into the solid condition

again, the elemental essence (of the “earth” or solid class) which poured back

into it would not be in any way the same as that which it contain­ed before, and

there would be no reason why the same shape should be retained. But a man who

disintegrated a key for the purpose of removing it by astral currents from one

place to another would be careful to hold the same elemental essence in exactly

the same shape until the transfer was completed, and then when his will-force

was removed it would act as a mould into which the solidi­fying particles would

now, or rather round which they would be re-aggregated. Thus, unless the

operator’s power of concentration failed, the shape would be accurately

preserved.

  

It is in this way that objects are sometimes brought almost instantaneously from

great distances at spiritualistic seances, and it is obvious that when

disintegrated they could be passed with perfect ease through any solid

sub­stance, such, for example, as the wall of a house or the side of a locked

box, so that what is commonly called “the passage of matter through matter” is

seen, when properly understood, to be as simple as the passage of water through

a sieve, or of a gas through a liquid in some chemical experiment.

.                                                                        

Since it is possible by an alteration of vibrations to change matter from the

solid to the etheric condition, it will be comprehended that it is also possible

to reverse the process and to bring etheric matter into the solid state. As the

one process explains the phenomenon of disintegration, so does the other that of

materialization; and just as in the former case a continued effort of will is

necessary to prevent the object from resuming its original state, so in exactly

the same way in the latter phenomenon a continued effort is necessary to prevent

the materialized matter from relapsing into the etheric condition.

 

  

OBJECTS BROUGHT FROM A DISTANCE

  

The apport of objects from some other room, or sometimes from a far greater

distance, is one of the most favourite methods by which the dead men managing a

seance elect to manifest their especially astral powers. Sir William Crookes, on

p. 97 of the book which I have so often quoted, tells us how at a seance with

Miss Kate Fox the controlling entities announced that “they were going to bring

something to show their power,” and then brought into the room a small hand-bell

from the library, the door between being carefully locked, and the key in Sir

William’s pocket.

  

I have myself frequently had all sorts of small objects brought to me from a

distance — flowers and fruit being among the most common. In some cases tropical

flowers and fruit, obviously perfectly fresh, have been thus presented to me in

England. When interrogated as to whence these things came, the controlling

entities have always most emphatically asserted that they were not permitted to

steal any person’s property in this way, but had to search for their flowers and

fruits where they grew wild. I have had a rare fern and a rare orchid brought to

me in this way — thrown down upon the table with the fresh earth still clinging

to their roots. I was able to plant both of them afterwards in my garden, where

they took root and grew in the most natural manner.

  

The best stories that I know of the bringing of plants to a seance are contained

in Madame d’Espérance’s book Shadowland. The first is quoted from p. . (It

should be premised that “Yolande” is the name given to a materialized “spirit”

who took a prominent part in all the seances of Madame d’Espérance.)

.                                                                         

Yolande crossed the room to where Mr. Reimers (a gentleman well known throughout

Europe as a prominent spiritualist) sat, and beckoned him to go nearer the

cabinet and witness some preparations she was about to make. Here it is as well

to say that on previous occasions when Yolande had produced flowers for us, she

had given us to under­stand that sand and water were necessary for the purpose;

consequently a supply of fine clean white sand and plenty of water were kept in

readiness for possible contingencies. When Yolande, accompanied by Mr. Reimers,

came to the centre of the circle, she signified her wish for sand and water,

and, making Mr. R. kneel down on the floor beside her, she directed him to pour

sand into the water-carafe, which he did until it was about half full. Then he

was instructed to pour in water. This was done, and then by her direction he

shook it well and handed it back to her.

  

Yolande, after scrutinizing it carefully, placed it on the floor, covering it

lightly with the drapery which she took from her shoulders. She then retired to

the cabinet, from which she returned once or twice at short intervals, as though

to see how it was getting on.

  

In the meantime Mr. Armstrong had carried away, the superfluous water and sand,

leaving the carafe standing in the middle of the floor covered by the thin veil,

which, however, did not in the least conceal its shape, the ring or top edge

being especially visible.

  

We were directed by raps on the floor to sing, in order to harmonize our

thoughts, and to take off the edge, as it were, of the curiosity we were all

more or less feeling.

  

While we were singing we observed the drapery to be rising from the rim of the

carafe. This was perfectly patent to every one of the twenty witnesses watching

it closely.

  

Yolande came out again from the cabinet and regarded it anxiously. She appeared

to examine it carefully, and partially supported the drapery as though afraid of

its crushing some tender object underneath. Finally she raised it altogether,

exposing to our astonished gaze a perfect plant, of what appeared to be a kind

of laurel.

  

Yolande raised the carafe, in which the plant seemed to have firmly grown; its

roots, visible through the glass being closely packed in the sand.

  

She regarded it with evident pride and pleasure, and, carrying it in both her

hands, crossed the room and presented it to Mr. Oxley, one of the strangers who

were present — the Mr. Oxley who is so well known by his philosophical writings

on spiritual subjects, and the pyramids of Egypt.

  

He received the carafe with the plant, and Yolande retired as though she had

completed her task. After examining the plant Mr. Oxley, for convenience sake,

placed it on the floor beside him, there being no table near at hand. Many

questions were asked and curiosity ran high. The plant resembled a large-leafed

laurel with dark glossy leaves, but without any blossom. No one present

recognized the plant or could assign it to any known species.

  

We were called to order by raps, and were told not to discuss the matter, but to

sing something and then be quiet. We obeyed the command, and after singing, more

raps told us to examine the plant anew, which we were delighted to do. To our

great surprise we then observed that a large circular head of bloom, forming a

flower fully five inches in diameter, had opened itself, while standing on the

floor at Mr. Oxley’s feet.

  

The flower was of a beautiful orange-pink colour, or perhaps I might say that

 

salmon-colour would be a nearer description, for I have never seen the same

tints, and it is difficult to describe shades of colour in words.

  

The head was composed of some hundred and fifty four-star corollas projecting

considerably from the stem. The plant was twenty-two inches in height, having a

thick woody stem which filled the neck of the water-carafe. It had twenty-nine

leaves, averaging from two to two and a half inches in breadth, and seven and a

half inches at their greatest length. Each leaf was smooth and glossy,

resembling at the first glance the laurel which we had first supposed it to be.

The fibrous roots appeared to be growing naturally in the sand.

.                                                                         We

afterwards photographed the plant in the water-bottle, from which, by the way,

it was found impossible to remove it, the neck being much too small to allow the

roots to pass; indeed, the comparatively slender stem entirely filled the

orifice.

  

The name, we learnt, was Ixora Crocata, and the plant a native of India.

  

How did the plant come there? Did it grow in the bottle? Had it been brought

from India in a dematerialized state and rematerialized in the seance-room?

  

These were questions which we put to one another without result. We received no

satisfactory explanation. Yolande either could not or would not tell us. As far

as we could judge — and the opinion of a professional gardener corroborated our

own — the plant had evidently some years of growth.

  

We could see where other leaves had grown and fallen off, and wound-marks which

 

seemed to have healed and grown over long ago. But there was every evidence to

show that the plant had grown in the sand in the bottle, as the roots were

naturally wound around the inner surface of the glass, all the fibres perfect

and unbroken as though they had germinated on the spot and had apparently never

been disturbed. It had not been thrust into the bottle, for the simple reason

that it was impossible to pass the large fibrous roots and lower part of the

stem through the neck of the bottle, which had to be broken to take out the

plant.

  

Mr. Oxley, in his account, which was afterwards published, says:

  

I had the plant photographed next morning, and afterwards brought it home and

placed it in my conservatory under the gardener’s care. It lived for three

months, when it shrivelled up. I kept the leaves, giving most of them away

except the flower and the three top-leaves which the gardener cut off when he

took charge of the plant; these I have yet preserved under glass, but they show

no signs of dematerializing as yet. Previous to the creation or materialization

of this wonderful plant, the Ixora Crocata, Yolande brought me a rose with a

short stem not more than an inch long, which I put into my bosom. Feeling

some­thing was transpiring, I drew it out and found there were two roses. I then

replaced them, and withdrawing them at the conclusion of the meeting, to my

astonishment the stem had elongated to seven inches, with three full-blown roses

and a bud upon it, with several thorns. These I brought home and kept till they

faded, the leaves dropped off and the stem dried up, a proof of their

materiality and actuality.

  

We gather from further statements that this interesting present was made to Mr.

Oxley in fulfilment of a promise, for it seems that he was making a collection

of plants in order to demonstrate some theory, for which he needed a specimen of

this particular kind, but had been unable to obtain it by any ordinary method.

The remarkable point about the arrival of this plant is its gradual appearance.

It is not brought as a whole and thrown down upon the table, as my fern was, but

it is seen to be slowly increasing under the drapery, precisely as though it

were really growing at a most abnormal rate; and even after it has been

presented to Mr. Oxley it still continues this apparent growth, for it develops

a flower during the singing.

  

It seems, however, evident that this apparent growth is not really anything of

the kind, since the plant is seen on examination to be clearly several years

old; so we are driven to the con­clusion that the plant was, as it were, brought

over in sections and built up gradually. If a living plant can be dematerialized

and put together again without damaging it permanently, it may just as easily be

taken to pieces bit by bit as pulverized at one blow by a mightier effort of

will; indeed, one can see that the former might be the simpler process,

demanding less expenditure of force. It may quite conceivably not have been

within the power of those who were assisting Yolande to bring the entire

vegetable at one fell swoop, and it may therefore have been absolutely necessary

to make several journeys for it. It would appear that they first arranged the

roots in the sand, disposing them with care exactly as they had naturally grown,

and then gradually added the rest of the plant, bringing the flower over later

with dramatic effect as the crowning glory of the experiment.

  

It may be that the apparently rapid growth of the mango-tree in the celebrated

Indian feat of magic is managed in this same manner, by successive acts of

disintegration and reintegration, instead of by enormously hastening the

ordinary processes of development, as is usually suggested. Clearly, as the

author remarks, it could not have been thrust into the bottle, but particle by

particle had been carefully arranged in the proper place among the damp sand.

The operation must have been difficult and delicate, and we can hardly wonder

that Yolande regarded the eventual result with considerable pride.

  

Mr. Oxley seems to have regarded the plant as a temporary materialization, and

expected that it would disappear in due course; but it is quite evident that it

was definitely a case of apport, and that the gift was intended to remain, as

indeed it did until its death — which, however, may quite possibly have been

accelerated by its abrupt removal from warmer climes to the inclement latitude

of England. The photograph taken of the plant in the bottle is reproduced as one

of the illustrations in the book from which this account is extracted. It seems

clear that the rose to which Mr. Oxley refers must also have been brought

piecemeal in the same way, since it would obviously be impossible for a cut

flower to grow in the way which he describes.

  

In the same book, at p. 326, we find an account of a still more wonderful

achievement of the same nature on the part of Yolande. In this case there is the

additional and interesting complication that the plant was only borrowed, and

had to be returned.

  

Yolande, with the assistance of Mr. Aksakof, had mixed sand and loam in the

flower-pot, and she had covered it with her veil, as she had done in the case of

the water-bottle in England when the Ixora Crocata was grown.

.                                                                         The

white drapery was seen to rise slowly but steadily, widening out as it grew

higher and higher. Yolande stood by and manipulated the gossamer-like covering

till it reached a height far above her head, when she carefully removed it,

disclosing a tall plant bowed with a mass of heavy blossom, which emitted the

strong sweet scent of which I had complained.

  

Notes were taken of its size, and it was found to be seven feet in length from

root to point, or about a foot and a half taller than myself. Even when bent by

the weight of the eleven large blossoms it bore, it was taller than I. The

flowers were very perfect, measuring eight inches in diameter; five were fully

blown, three were just opening and three in bud, all without spot or blemish,

and damp with dew. It was most lovely, but somehow the scent of lilies since

that evening has always made me feel faint.

  

Yolande seemed very pleased with her success and told us that if we wanted to

photograph the lily we were to do so, as she must take it away again. She stood

beside it and Mr. Boutlerof photographed it and her twice.

  

The plant was a Lilium auratum, the golden-rayed lily of Japan, and the date of

this very interesting seance was June 28, . The photo­graphs mentioned are

reproduced in the book, and show a fine specimen of the plant.

  

A curious feature of the account is that the materialized figure Yolande became

anxious about the affair because, having apparently borrowed this giant lily,

she found herself unable to return it at the proper time. The available power

seems to have been exhausted in the effort of bringing it, so that when she

tried to take it back again she failed. She appears to have been much distressed

at her inability to keep her promise, and begged that every care might be taken

of the plant. Her physical friends did all that they could for it, but it seems

(and no wonder) to have languished somewhat. The weather, too, proved

unfavourable for her purposes, and it was nearly a week before she finally

succeeded in restoring it to its original owner, whoever he may have been. One

would like to hear the other side of this story — the surprise and regret at the

mysterious disappearance from somebody’s garden or conservatory of so

magnificent a specimen, and their equal but much pleasanter astonishment over

its inexplicable reappearance a week later, when probably all hope of tracing

the thieves had been abandoned!

  

The question of the influence of weather on the production of psychic phenomena

is one of considerable interest. It is evident that electrical disturbances of

any sort present difficulties in the way of attempts at either materialization

or disintegration, presumably for the same reason that bright light renders them

almost impossible — the destructive effect of strong vibration. It is quite

conceivable that while the air was full of strong electrical vibra­tions Yolande

may have found it impossible safely to carry her disintegrated vegetable matter

from one place to another, lest it should be so shaken up and disarranged that

restoration to its original form might become difficult or impracticable.

  

In many cases of the apport of objects from a distance the fourth-dimensional

method is obviously easiest, though in these efforts of Yolande’s it would seem

from the gradual growth of the plant that it was not employed. But there are

many instances of which it offers the neatest and readiest explana­tion. There

are nearly always several ways in which almost any phenomenon can be produced,

and it is often not easy to determine merely from a written account which of

them was actually em­ployed in a given case.

  

Another instance either of the passage of matter through matter, or of the

employment of fourth-dimensional power, is given when a solid iron ring too

small to go over the hand is passed on to one’s wrist. This has three times been

done to me, and in each case I had to trust to our dead friends for its removal,

since it would have been quite impossible to get it off by any physical means

except filing. I have also again and again had the back of a chair hung over my

arm while I was grasping the hand of the medium. Once I watched that process in

a moderately good light, and though the phenomenon was quickly performed it yet

seemed to me that I saw part of the back of the chair fade into a sort of mist

as it approached my arm. But in a moment it had passed round or through my arm

and was again solid as ever.

  

A much rarer phenomenon at a seance, so far as my experience goes, is that of

reduplication. When it does occur, this is produced simply by forming a perfect

mental image of the object to be copied, and then gathering about it the

necessary astral and physical matter. For this purpose it is needful that every

particle, interior as well as exterior, of the object to be duplicated should be

held accurately in view simultaneously, and consequently the phenomenon is one

which requires considerable power of concentration to perform. Persons unable to

extract the matter required directly from the surrounding ether have sometimes

taken it from the material of the original article, which in this case would be

correspondingly reduced in weight.

 

  

A fieRy test

  

Another striking but not very common feat displayed occasionally at a seance is

that of handling fire unharmed. On one occasion at a seance in London a

materialized form deliberately put his hand into the midst of a brightly burning

fire, picked out a lump of red-hot coal nearly as large as a tennis-ball, and

held it out to me, saying quickly: “Take it in your hand.”

  

I hesitated for a moment, perhaps not unnaturally, but an impatient movement on

the part of the dead man decided me. I felt that he probably knew what he was

about, that this was perhaps a unique opportunity, and that if it burnt me I

could drop it before much harm was done. So I held out my hand and the glowing

mass was promptly deposited in my palm. I can testify that I felt not even the

slightest warmth from it, though when the dead man immediately took a sheet of

paper from the mantelpiece and applied it to the coal, the paper blazed up in a

moment. I held this lump of coal for a minute and a half, when, as it was

rapidly growing dull, he motioned to me to throw it back into the fire. Not the

slightest mark or redness remained upon my hand — nothing but a little ash — nor

was there any smell of burning.

  

Now how was this done? I could not in the least understand at the time, and

could get no intelligible theory out of the presiding entities. I know now from

later occult studies that the thinnest layer of etheric substance can be so

manipulated as to make it absolutely impervious to heat, and I assume that

probably my hand was for the moment covered with such a layer, since that is

perhaps the easiest way of producing the result. Be that as it may, I can

certify that the event occurred exactly as described.

  

It is within the resources of the astral plane to produce fire as well as to

counteract its effect. I have seen this done only once myself, and then as a

special “test” to prove that spontaneous combustion was a possibility, but from

the accounts given by Mr. Morell Theobald in Spirit Workers in the Home Circle

it would appear that with him the phenomenon was quite ordinary. The deceased

members of his household seem to have taken almost as great a part in its work

as the living members did, and to light the family fires spontaneously was one

of the least of their achieve­ments. Their action in this respect is said to

have been paralleled on several occasions in Scotland by the brownies, a variety

of nature-spirits or fairies, but I have not at hand the particulars of any case

for quotation.

 

  

the production of fire

  

My own experience in this line was at a seance in England. We were directed by

raps to procure a large flat dish, place it in the middle of the table and make

in it a little pile of shavings and of the fragments of a cigar box. We obeyed,

and were then directed to turn out the lights and sing. We sat solemnly round

the table holding hands and singing in total darkness for what seemed at least

half an hour, though it may have been less than that in reality. Towards the end

of that time a curious dull red glow showed itself in the heart of our

loosely-built pile of wood, waxing and waning several times, but eventually

bursting into flame. It is quite certain that none of us touched the pile or

indeed could have touched it without the con­nivance of several others, sitting

as we were; and it is also certain that the combustion commenced in a manner

entirely precluding the idea of its being set in motion from outside by a match.

  

I infer, since heat is after all simply a certain rate of vibration, that it is

only necessary for the astral entities to set up and maintain that particular

rate of vibration, and combustion must ensue; and this is most probably what was

done. An obvious alternative would be to introduce fourth-dimensionally a tiny

fragment of already glowing matter, (such as tinder, for example) and then blow

upon it until it burst into flame; or again, chemical combinations which would

produce combustion could easily be introduced. There are plenty of stories told

in India about the way in which sponta­neous fires break out in certain villages

if the village deity is neglected, and does not receive his expected offerings;

so it is evident that the produc­tion of fire presents no difficulty to an

experienced entity functioning upon the astral plane.

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL                                                                       

 

 

 

.                                                                         

Chapter IX

.                                                                        

VISIBLE MATERIALIZATIONS

 

  

intangible forms

  

We must consider now materializations of our second and third types — those

which are visible, but not tangible, and in many cases manifestly diaphanous;

and the full materializations, which seem in all respects indistinguishable for

the time from persons still in the physical body. The second type is not

uncommon, and though such materializa­tions usually avoid coming within reach of

the sitters I was on one occasion especially asked by a direct voice to pass my

hand gently through a form of this nature. I can only say that my sense of touch

detected absolutely nothing, though a dis­tinctly visible, but semi-transparent

form stood in front of me, smiling at my futile efforts. When I closed my eyes,

I could not tell whether my hand was inside or outside the body which looked so

perfect and so living. Forms of this nature are probably easier to construct

than the more solid kind, for I have once or twice had startling evidence that

one which appeared entirely solid was in reality so only in part. A hand which

is strong enough to give a vigorous grasp is often joined to an arm which does

not exist as far as the sense of touch is concerned, though appearing to the eye

just as solid as the hand. Materializations of this second type are described by

Sir William Crookes as follows, at p. 94 of his Researches.

.                                                                         In

the dusk of the evening during a seance with Mr. Home at my house, the curtains

of the window about eight feet from Mr. Home were seen to move. A dark, shadowy,

semi-transparent form like that of a man was then seen by all present standing

near the window, waving the curtain with his hand. As we looked the form faded

away and the curtain ceased to move. The following is a still more striking

instance. As in the former case Mr. Home was the medium. A phantom form came

from a corner of the room, took an accordion in his hand, and then glided about

the room placing the instrument. The form was visible to all present for many

minutes, Mr. Home also being seen at the same time. Coming rather close to a

lady who was sitting apart from the rest of the company, she gave a slight cry,

upon which it vanished.

 

  

mattes from the medium

  

When materialization is performed for any reason by a living person thoroughly

trained in the resources of the astral plane — one of the pupils of an Adept,

for instance — he condenses the surrounding ether into the solid form, and

builds in that way so much of a body as may be necessary without in any way

interfering with any one else. But at a seance this is not usually done, and the

simpler expedient is adopted of withdrawing a large amount of matter from the

body of the medium. This matter may under favourable conditions be seen pouring

out from his side in great wreaths of mist; in Mr. W. Eglinton’s remarkable

book, ’Twixt Two Worlds, there will be found three interesting illustrations

showing successive stages of the development of this mist, from its first faint

appearance until the entranced medium is almost entirely hidden by wreaths like

those of thick, heavy smoke.

  

This mist rapidly condenses into a form — sometimes apparently into an exact

double of the medium in the first place. I remember at a seance with the

well-known medium, Mr. Cecil Husk, after a period of silent waiting, a brilliant

light suddenly blazed out, showing everything in the room quite clearly. The

medium was crushed together in his chair — shrunk into himself in a most

extraordinary way, apparently in a deep trance, and breathing stertorously; but

just in front of him stood an exact duplicate of himself, alert and living,

holding out in front of him in the palm of his hand an egg-shaped body, which

 

was the source of the brilliant light. He stood thus for a few moments, and then

in an instant the light went out, and the form addressed us in the well-known

tones of one of the regular “guides” — showing how entirely he built himself out

of the substance of the medium.

  

There is no sort of doubt that it is not only etheric matter which is thus

temporarily withdrawn from the medium’s body, but also often dense solid and

liquid matter, however difficult it may be for us to realize the possibility of

such a transference. I have myself seen cases in which this phenomenon

undoubtedly took place, and was evidenced by a considerable loss of weight in

the medium’s physical body, and also by a most curious and ghastly appearance of

having shrivelled up and shrunk together, so that his tiny wizened-face was

disappearing into the collar of his coat as he sat. The “guides” directing a

seance rarely allow their medium to be seen when he is in this condition, and

wisely, for it is indeed a terrible and unwhole­some sight, so uncanny, so

utterly inhuman that it would inevitably seriously frighten any nervous person.

  

In that manual of materializations, People from the Other World (p. 243),

Colonel Olcott describes the manner in which he carefully weighed the

materialized form which called itself Honto. At his first attempt this Red

Indian girl weighed eighty-eight pounds, but at the Colonel’s request she

promptly reduced herself to fifty-eight pounds, and then again increased to

sixty-five, all within ten minutes, and without changing her dress. Nearly all

this mass of physical matter must have been withdrawn from the body of the

medium, who must consequently have lost proportionately.

  

On p. 487 of the same book the Colonel tells us how he tested in the same way

the materialized form of Katie Brink, who weighed at first seventy-seven pounds,

and then reduced herself to fifty-nine and fifty-two, without affecting her

outward appearance in any way. In this case we are confronted with the

astonishing phenomenon of the total disappearance of the medium during the

materialization, though the Colonel had secured her with sewing cotton, sealed

with his own seal, in a peculiar and ingenious way which would absolutely

prevent her from leaving her chair in any ordinary way without breaking the

cotton. Nevertheless, when he was permitted during the seance to enter the

cabinet, that chair was empty; and there was not only nothing to be seen, but

also nothing to be felt, when he passed his hands all round the chair. Yet when

the seance was over, the medium was found seated as before, half-fainting and

utterly exhausted, but with cotton and seal intact! Most wonderful, truly; yet

not unique; see Un Cas de Dématerialisation, by M. A. Aksakow.

  

This matter does not always flow out through the side only; sometimes it appears

to ooze out from the whole surface of the body, drawn out by the powerful

attraction or suction set up by the guides. Its flowing forth is thus described

by Madame E. d’Espérance:

  

Then began a strange sensation, which I had some­times felt at séances.

Frequently I have heard it described by others as of cobwebs being passed over

the face, but to me, who watched it curiously, it seemed that I could feel fine

threads being drawn out of the pores of my skin. Shadowland (p. 229).

 

  

madame d’espérance

.                                                                        

Many mediums have written autobiographies, but I have met with none which

impressed me so favourably as this of Madame d’Espérance. It is not only that it

has about it an attractive ring of earnestness and truthfulness, but that the

author seems far more closely and intelligently observant than most mediums have

been, and more anxious to understand the real nature of the phenomena which

occur in her presence.

  

She takes a rational view of her abnormal faculty, and sets herself to study it

with an earnest and loyal desire to arrive at the truth about it all. While

heartily admiring the lady’s courage and determination, one cannot but regret

that it did not fall in her way to study Theosophical literature, which would

have told her in the beginning every detail that she has slowly and in many

cases painfully discovered, at the cost of much unnecessary suffering and

anxiety. Her book begins with the pathetic story of a much-misunderstood

childhood, and goes on to describe the years of mental struggle during which the

medium slowly freed herself from the trammels of the narrowest orthodoxy. When

her mediumship was fully developed it certainly seems to have been of a

wonderful and varied character, and some of the instances given might well

appear incredible to any one ignorant of the subject. I have myself, however,

seen phenomena of the same nature as all those which she describes, and

consequently I find no difficulty in admitting the possibility of all the

strange occurrences which she relates.

  

She realizes strongly and describes forcefully the exceedingly intimate relation

which exists between the medium and the body materialized out of his vehicles.

We are so entirely accustomed to identify ourselves with our bodies that it is a

new and uncanny and almost a horrible sensation to find the body going through

vivid and extraordinary experi­ences in which nevertheless its true owner has no

 

part whatever. On p. 345 of her book above quoted she gives us a realistic

description of the strangely unnatural situation in which a materializing medium

must so often be placed; and I think that no one can read it without

understanding how thoroughly undesirable, how utterly unhealthy on all planes

and from all points of view such an experience must be.

 

  

“anna oR I?”

.                                                                         Now

comes another figure, shorter, slenderer, and with outstretched arms. Somebody

rises up at the far end of the circle and comes forward, and the two are clasped

in each other’s arms. Then inarticulate cries of  “Anna! O Anna! My child! My

loved one!”

  

Then somebody else gets up and puts her arms round the figure; then sobs, cries,

and blessings get mixed up. I feel my body swayed to and fro, and all gets dark

before my eyes. I feel somebody’s arms around me, although I sit on my chair

alone. I feel somebody’s heart beating against my breast. I feel that something

is happening. No one is near me except the two children. No one is taking any

notice of me. All eyes and thoughts seem concentrated on the white slender

figure standing there with the arms of the two black-robed women around it.

  

It must be my own heart I feel beating so distinctly. Yet those arms round me?

Surely never did I feel a touch so plainly. I begin to wonder which is I. Am I

the white figure, or am I that on the chair? Are they my hands round the old

lady’s neck, or are these mine that are lying on the knees of me, or on the

knees of the figure, if it be not I, on the chair?

  

Certainly they are my lips that are being kissed. It is my face that is wet with

the tears which these good women are shedding so plentifully. Yet how can it be?

It is a horrible feeling, thus losing hold of one’s identity. I long to put out

one of these hands that are lying so help­lessly, and touch some one just to

know if I am myself or only a dream — if  “Anna” be I, and I am lost, as it

were, in her identity.

  

I feel the old Lady’s trembling arms, the kisses, the tears, the blessings and

caresses of the sister, and I wonder in the agony of suspense and bewilderment,

how long can it last? How long will there be two of us? Which will it be in the

end? Shall I be “Anna” or “Anna” be I?

  

Then I feel two little hands slip themselves into my nerveless hands, and they

give me a fresh hold of myself, as it were, and with a feeling of exultation I

find I am myself, and that little Jonte, tired of being hidden behind the three

figures, feels lonely and grasps my hands for company and comfort.

  

How glad I am of the touch, even from the hand of a child! My doubts as to who I

am are gone. While I am feeling thus the white figure of “Anna” disappears in

the cabinet, and the two ladies return to their seats, excited and tearful, but

overcome with happiness.

.                                                                         

There was a great deal more to happen that night, but somehow I felt weak and

indifferent to all around me, and not inclined to be interested in what

occurred. Strange and remarkable incidents took place, but for the moment my

life seemed dragged out of me and I longed for solitude and rest.

  

This feeling of lassitude and of having the life dragged out of them is

naturally terribly common among mediums. Sir William Crookes remarks on p. 41 of

his Researches:

.                                                                        

After witnessing the painful state of nervous and bodily prostration in which

some of these experiments have left Mr. Home — after seeing him lying in an

almost faint­ing condition on the floor, pale and speechless — I could scarcely

doubt that the evolution of psychic force is accom­panied by a corresponding

drain on vital force.

  

This entirely agrees with my own experience; I have frequently seen a medium

absolutely prostrate after a seance, and I fear that many of them fancy

themselves compelled to resort to alcoholic stimul­ants in order to recover from

the terrible drain upon their strength. So much of their vitality necessarily

goes into the materialized form, and the disturbance to the system is so

serious, that after the seance is over, they are in a condition closely

resembling the shock which follows a surgical operation. And no wonder; for that

would indeed be a terrible surgical operation which removed forty to eighty

pounds of matter from the body, and then restored it again.

  

On the curious connection between the medium and the materialized form, Madame

d’Espérance writes as follows as to the relation between herself and Yolande:

 

  

an intimate Relation

  

There seemed to exist a strange link between us. I could do nothing to ensure

her appearance amongst us. She came and went, so far as I am aware, entirely

in­dependent of my will, but when she had come, she was, I found, dependent on

me for her brief material existence. I seemed to lose, not my individuality, but

my strength and power of exertion, and though I did not then know it, a great

portion of my material substance. I felt that in some way I was changed, but the

effort to think logically in some mysterious way affected Yolande, and made her

weak. (Shadowland, p. .)

  

The medium is conscious of her own individuality in the background all the time;

but any attempt to assert it, or to think connectedly, immediately weakens the

form, or brings it back to the cabinet. And this is natural, for to think

logically means to set up chemical action — to produce oxidation of the

phosphorus of the brain; whereas it is only under conditions of perfect

passivity in the physical vehicle that so much matter can be spared from it

without danger to life. As a matter of fact, there is always a possibility of

such danger; and in case of sudden shock or disturbance it may come terribly

near realization. It is for that reason that the attempt of the ignorant and

boastful sceptic to seize the “spirit form” is so criminal as well as so

brainless an action; and the person whose colossal stupidity leads him to commit

such an atrocity runs a serious risk of occupying the position of defendant in a

trial for murder. Beings at that level of intelligence ought not to be permitted

to take part in experiments of a delicate nature. What harm may be done by this

dangerous variety of the genus blockhead is shown by the following extract from

the experiences of Madame d’Espérance, given upon p. 298 of her book:

 

  

A scandalous outrage

.                                                                         I

do not know how long the seance had proceeded, but I knew that Yolande had taken

her pitcher on her shoulder and was outside the cabinet. What actually occurred

I had to learn afterwards. All I knew was a horrible excruciating sensation of

being doubled up and squeezed together, as I can imagine a hollow guttapercha

doll would feel, if it had sensation, when violently embraced by its baby owner.

A sense of terror and agonizing pain came over me, as though I were losing hold

of life and was falling into some fearful abyss, yet knowing nothing, seeing

nothing, hearing nothing, except the echo of a scream which I heard as at a

distance. I felt I was sinking down, I knew not where. I tried to save myself,

to grasp at something, but missed it; and then came a blank from which I

awakened with a shuddering horror and sense of being bruised to death.

  

My senses seemed to have been scattered to the winds, and only little by little

could I gather them sufficiently together to understand in a slight degree what

had happen­ed. Yolande had been seized, and the man who had seized her declared

it was I.

  

This is what I was told. The statement was so extra­ordinary that if it had not

been for my utter prostration I could have laughed, but I was unable to think or

even move. I felt as though very little life remained in me, and that little was

a torment. The haemorrhage of the lungs, which my residence in the south of

France had apparently cured, broke out again and the blood almost suffocated me.

A severe prolonged illness was the result; and our departure from England was

delayed for some weeks, as I could not be moved.

  

No wonder that the “guides” take every pre­caution in their power to save their

medium from such brutality. Even they themselves may suffer through the

temporary vehicle which they have assumed, trusting themselves to the honour and

good-feeling of those who are present on the physical plane. Mr. R. D. Owen, in

The Debatable Land (p. 273), thus refers to this matter:

.                                                                         Two

highly intelligent friends of mine, now deceased, Dr. A. D. Wilson and Professor

James Mapes, both formerly of New York, each on one occasion firmly grasped what

seemed a luminous hand. In both cases the result was the same. What was laid

hold of melted entirely away — so each told me — in his grasp. I have had

communications to the effect that the spirit thus manifest­ing its presence

suffers when this is done, and that a spirit would have great reluctance in

appearing, in bodily form, to any one whom it could not trust to refrain from

interference with the phenomena, except by its express permission. In my

experiments I have always governed myself accordingly, and I ascribe my success

in part to this continence.

  

I do not know whether the “spirit” would suffer in such a case as this, though

it certainly does when a materialized form is struck or wounded. For that reason

a sword constantly waved round a man who is haunted is supposed to be a

protection (and indeed often really is so, as has been seen in some of the

narratives previously quoted), and the sword was also an important part of the

outfit of the mediaeval magician.

  

No physical weapon could affect the astral body in the slightest degree; a sword

might be passed through it again and again without the owner being even aware of

it; but as soon as there is any materialization (and wherever physical phenomena

occur there must be some materialization, however little) physical weapons may

act through it upon the astral body and produce sensation, much as was the case

with the more permanent physical body during life. But undoubtedly the medium

may be seriously injured by any unauthorized interference with the materialized

form, as is seen by Madame d’Espérance’s story.

  

I most heartily endorse the sentiments expressed above by Mr. Owen, and I have

always been governed by them in my own investigations. There are some persons

who enter upon an enquiry of this kind with the fixed conviction that they are

going to be deceived, and (with some idea that they can obviate a result so

humbling to their self-conceit) they endeavour to invent all kinds of

complicated contrivances, which they think will render fraud impossible. It is

quite true that in many cases phenomena do not take place under the conditions

which they prescribe, for naturally the dead man is not especially disposed to

go out of his way to take a great deal of trouble for a person who meets him

from the beginning with unfounded suspicion expressed in terms of egregious

self-confidence. Often also the conditions prescribed by the ignoramus are

really such as to render phenomena impossible.

  

Dr. Alfred R. Wallace once very truly remarked:

.                                                                        

Scientific men almost invariably assume that, in this enquiry, they should be

permitted at the very outset to impose conditions; and if under such conditions

nothing happens, they consider it a proof of imposture or delusion. But they

well know that in all other branches of research, Nature, not they, determines

the essential conditions without a compliance with which no experiment will

succeed. These conditions have to be learnt by a patient questioning of Nature,

and they are different for each branch of science. How much more may they be

expected to differ in an enquiry which deals with subtle forces, of the nature

of which the physicist is wholly and absolutely ignorant!

  

In just the same way, a man might easily render electrical experiments

impossible, if he chose to regard the insulating arrangements as suspicious, and

insisted upon seeing the same results produced when the wires were uninsulated;

and then, when it was gently explained to him that insulation was a necessary

condition, he might raise the same old parrot-cry of fraud, and declare that

these pretended electrical marvels could never be worked under his conditions!

Instances of the extent to which folly and cruelty can go in this direction are

given with full illustrations in Colonel Olcott’s People from the Other World

(pp. 36-40).

.                                                                         I

have myself always adopted the plan of giving the dead man credit for honest

intention until I saw evidence to the contrary; I have allowed him to arrange

his own conditions, and to show exactly what he chose, endeavouring first of all

to establish friendly relations; and I have invariably found that as soon as he

gained confidence in me, be would gladly describe the limits of his power, so

far as he knew them, and would frequently himself suggest tests of various kinds

to show to others the genuineness of the phenomena.

  

Attempts have been made to cheat me on several occasions; and when I saw this to

be the action of the medium, I held my peace, but troubled that medium no

further. On the other hand, I have also seen cases of deceit where I felt

convinced that the medium’s intentions were perfectly honest, and that the

deception lay entirely with the unseen actors in the drama. I have known the

medium’s physical body, when in a condition of trance, to be wrapped up in

materialized gauzy drapery, and passed off as “a spirit form” — apparently for

no other reason than to save the operators the trouble of producing a genuine

materialization, or possibly because in some way or other the power to produce

the real manifestation was lacking. In this case the medium, on hearing what had

happened after recovery from his trance, protested most earnestly and with every

appearance of real sincerity that he had had no conception of what was being

done; and, having many times before seen unmistakably genuine manifestations

through him, I believed him. Exactly the same story was told to me by a

well-known medium with regard to an “exposure” of him which was triumphantly

trumpeted abroad in many newspapers; and it is at least perfectly possible that

the statement may have been equally true in that case also. My experience

therefore warrants me in saying that even when a clear case of fraud is

discovered, it is not always safe to blame the medium for it. On the other hand,

I have known a medium come to give a seance with half-a-yard of muslin hanging

out of her pocket, and I have recognized the aforesaid muslin appearing as

spirit drapery at a later stage of the proceedings — in its original form, I

mean, for even in cases of genuine materialization of drapery it is frequently

formed from the material of the clothes of the medium. Once more we may turn to

Madame d’Espérance for an instance showing this to be the case.

 

  

“spiRit” drapery

  

It was at one of those seances in Christiania that a sitter “abstracted” a piece

of drapery which clothed one of the spirit-forms. Later I discovered that a

large square piece of material was missing from my skirt, partly cut, partly

torn out. My dress was of a heavy dark woollen material. The “abstracted” piece

of drapery was found to be of the same shape as that missing from my skirt, but

several times larger, and white in colour, the texture fine and thin as

gossamer.

  

Something of the kind had happened once before in England, when some one had

begged the little Ninia for a piece of her abundant clothing. She complied,

unwillingly, it seemed, and the reason for her unwillingness was ex­plained

when, after the seance, I found a hole in a new dress which I had put on for the

first time. This being nearly black, I had attributed the mishap more to an

accident on the part of Ninia than to any psychological cause. Now that it

happened a second time, I began to understand that it was no accident, and that

my dress, or the clothing of the persons in the seance, was the foun­dation of,

or the stores from which the dazzling raiment of the spirit form was drawn.

(Shadowland, p. .)

  

There are various types of this materialized drapery — some quite coarse and

some exceedingly fine — finer indeed than even the production of Eastern looms.

Sometimes the manifesting entity will encourage a favoured sitter to feel this

drapery or even to cut a piece from it. I have had such pieces given to me on

several occasions; some of them lasted for years, and appear to be permanent,

while others faded away in the course of an hour or so, and one within ten

minutes. Though light and filmy white drapery seems to be the regular fashion

among materialized forms, I have also seen them show themselves in the ordinary

garb of civilization, and sometimes in a uniform or some special dress

characteristic of their position during life.

 

  

materialization in full view

  

The following very good account of the materiali­zation and dematerialization of

a form is given in Shadowland (p. 254), and was written by a member who had

frequently formed part of that circle:

.                                                                         

First a filmy, cloudy patch of something white is observed on the floor in front

of the cabinet. It then gradually expands, visibly extending itself as if it

were an animated patch of muslin, lying fold upon fold, on the floor, until

extending about two and a half by three feet and having a depth of a few inches

— perhaps six or more. Presently it begins to rise slowly in or near the centre,

as if a human head were underneath it, while the cloudy film on the floor begins

to look more like muslin falling into folds about the portion so mysteriously

rising. By the time it has attained two or more feet, it looks as if a child

were under it and moving its arms about in all directions as if manipulating

something underneath.

  

It continues rising, oftentimes sinking somewhat to rise again higher than

before, until it attains a height of about five feet, when its form can be seen

as if arranging the folds of drapery about its figure.

  

Presently the arms rise considerably above the head and open outwards through a

mass of cloud-like spirit drapery, and Yolande stands before us unveiled,

graceful and beautiful, nearly five feet in height, having a turban-like head

dress, from beneath which her long black hair hangs over her shoulders and down

her back.

  

Her body-dress, of Eastern form, displays every limb and contour of the body,

while the superfluous white veil-like drapery is wrapped round her for

convenience, or thrown down on the carpet out of the way till required again.

  

 

All this occupies from ten to fifteen minutes to accomplish.

  

When she disappears or dematerializes it is as follows. Stepping forward to show

herself and be identified by any strangers then present, she slowly and

deliberately opens out the veil-like superfluous drapery; expanding it, she

places it over her head, and spreads it round her like a great bridal veil, and

then immediately but slowly sinks down, becoming less bulky as she collapses,

dematerializing her body beneath the cloud-like drapery until it has little or

no resemblance to Yolande. Then she further collapses until she has no

resemblance to human form, and more rapidly sinks down to fifteen or twelve

inches. Then suddenly the form falls into a heaped patch of drapery — literally

Yolande’s left-off clothing, which slowly but visibly melts into nothingness.

  

The dematerializing of Yolande’s body occupies from two to five minutes, while

the disappearance of the drapery occupies from half a minute to two minutes. On

one occasion, however, she did not dematerialize this drapery or veil, but left

the whole lying on the carpet in a heap, until another spirit came out of the

cabinet to look at it for a moment, as if moralizing on poor Yolande’s

disappear­ance. This taller spirit also disappeared and was replaced by the

little, brisk, vivacious child-form of Ninia, the Spanish girl, who likewise

came to look at Yolande’s remains; and, curiously picking up the loft-off

garments, proceeded to wrap them round her own little body, which was already

well clothed with drapery.

  

I have myself seen both these processes, almost exactly as described above. In

my case the form was that of an unusually tall man, and he did not begin by

forming drapery, but appeared as a patch of cloudy light on the floor, which

rose and increased until it looked somewhat like the stump of a tree. It grew on

until it was a vague pillar of cloud towering above our heads, and then

gradually condensed into a definite and well-known form, which stepped forward,

shook me warmly by the hand, and spoke in a full clear voice, exactly as any

other friend might have done. After talking to us for about five minutes and

answering several ques­tions, he again shook hands with us and announced that he

must go. Bidding us good-bye, he immedi­ately became indistinct in outline, and

relapsed into the pillar of cloud, which sank down fairly rapidly into the small

cloudy mass of light upon the floor, which then flickered and vanished.

  

I have seen three materialized forms together — one of them an Arab six inches

taller than the medium, another a European of ordinary medium height, and the

third a little girl of dark complexion, claiming to be a Red Indian — while the

medium was securely locked up inside a wire cage of his own invention, which was

secured by two keys (both in my pocket) and a letter-lock which could only be

operated from the outside. Later in the same evening we were requested to unlock

this cage, and the two forms first described brought out the entranced medium

between them, one supporting him by each arm. We were allowed to touch both the

medium and the materialized forms, and were much struck to find the latter

distinctly firmer and more definite than the former. They did not in this case

return him to his cage, but laid him upon a sofa in full view of us all,

cautioned us that he would be exceedingly exhausted when he woke, and then

 

incontinently vanished into thin air before our eyes. All this took place in a

dim light, the two gas-jets in the room being both turned very low, but there

was all the time quite sufficient illumina­tion to enable us to recognize

clearly the features both of the medium and of our dead visitors, and to follow

their movements with absolute certainty.

  

It is only when the conditions are favourable that one may hope to find the

materialized forms able to move about the room as freely as in the cases above

described. More generally the materialized form is strictly confined to the

immediate neighbourhood of the medium, and is subject to an attraction which is

constantly drawing it back to the body from which it came, so that if kept away

from the medium too long the figure collapses, and the matter which composed it,

returning to the etheric condition, rushes back instantly to its source. It is

excessively dangerous to the medium’s health, or even to his life, to prevent

this return in any way; and it was no doubt precisely this that caused such

terrible suffering in the case of poor Madame d’Espérance, above quoted. It

would seem from her own account as though the majority of her etheric matter,

and probably a great deal of the denser also, was with Yolande rather than in

the cabinet; and since the form of Yolande was so unwarrantably detained it is

probable that what was left in her body would rush into Yolande’s, and so it

would in one sense be true that she was found outside the cabinet and in the

hands of the ignorant vulgarian who had seized the materialized form. All this

makes it increasingly obvious that no one who has not sufficient education to

comprehend a little of the conditions ought ever to be permitted to take part in

a seance.

  

Another reason for great care in the selection of sitters is that in the case of

materialization matter is borrowed to some extent from all of them as well as

from the medium. There is no doubt, therefore, a considerable intermixture of

such matter, and undesirable qualities or vices of any kind in any one of the

sitters are distinctly liable to react upon the others, and most of all upon the

medium, who is almost certain to be the most sensitive person present — from

whom, in any case, the heaviest contribution will be drawn. Yet again we may

obtain an example of this from Madame d’Espérance’s invaluable book. On p. 307

she writes:

 

  

evil effect of tobacco

.                                                                        

From the very beginning of our experiments in this line I had always more or

less suffered from nausea and vomiting after a seance for materialization, and I

had grown to accept this as a natural consequence and not to be avoided. This

had always been the case, except when sur­rounded only by the members of our

home circle or children. During the course of seances for photography this

unpleasantness increased so much that I was usually prostrate for a day, or

sometimes two, after a sitting, and, as the symptoms were those of nicotine

poisoning, experiments were made and it was discovered that none of these

un­comfortable sensations were felt when seances were held with non-smokers.

Again, when sick persons were in the circle, I invariably found myself feeling

more or less un­well afterwards. With persons accustomed to the use of alcohol

the discomfort was almost as marked as with smokers.

.                                                                        

These seances were to me fruitful in many respects; I learned that many habits,

which are common to the generality of mankind and sanctioned by custom, are

dele­terious to the results of a seance, or, at any rate, to the health of a

medium.

  

A “guide” who has been working for some years, and has learnt to know fairly

well the possibilities of the plane, has often interesting phenomena connected

with materialization which he is willing to exhibit to special friends when the

power is strong. One such exhibition was some­times given by him who calls

himself  “John King” many years ago, and may perhaps be given by him still. He

would sometimes take one of the painted luminous slates and lay his hand upon

it. A fine, strong, muscular, well-shaped hand it was, and its outline of course

stood forth perfectly distinctly against the faintly luminous background. Then

as we watched it, he would cause that hand to diminish visibly until it was a

miniature about the size of a small baby's hand, though still perfect in its

resemblance to his own. Then slowly and steadily under our eyes it would grow

again until it became gigantic, and covered the whole slate, and would finally

return by degrees to its normal size. Now of course this manifestation might

easily have been a mere case of mesmeric influence if only one person had seen

it; but since every one in the circle saw precisely the same, and there was

nothing to indicate that any attempt at mesmerism was being made, it seemed on

the whole more proba­ble that it was really an exhibition of augmenta­tion and

diminution in the materialized hand — a result which could readily be brought

about by any one who understood how to manipulate the matter.

 

  

A dead man’s joke

  

Occasionally the materialization takes some other shape than the human. One such

case which I recollect vividly shows that our departed friends by no means lose

their sense of humour when they pass over into astral life. At a certain seance

we were much annoyed by the presence of a man of the boastful sceptic genus. He

swagger­ed in the usual blatant way, and showed his entire ignorance by every

word he uttered in the loud, coarse voice which constantly reiterated that he

knew that all these things were nonsense, and that we might be sure that nothing

would happen so long as he was there.

  

This went on for some time as we sat round the table, and at last the medium,

who was a mild, inoffensive sort of man, quietly advised him to moderate his

tone, as on several occasions the “spirits” had been known to treat rather

roughly persons who talked in that manner. The sceptic, however, only became

coarser and more offensive in his remarks, defying any spirit that ever existed

to frighten him, or even to dare to show itself in his presence. We had now been

sitting for a good while in the darkness, and nothing whatever had happened

beyond a few brief words from one of the “guides” at the commencement of the

seance, which had informed us that they were storing up power. As the time

passed on we all became somewhat wearied, and I at least began to think that

perhaps our sceptic really was so inharmonious an influence that it would be

impossible to obtain any good results — wherein, however, it seems that I was

wrong.

  

To make clear what did happen I must say a few words as to the room in which the

seance was being held. It was a tiny apartment at the back of the house on the

second floor, opening out of a much larger front room by great folding-doors

which reached up to the ceiling. We were seated round a large circular table, so

much out of proportion to the room that the backs of our chairs were all but

touching the walls and the big door as we sat round it. There was another door

in the corner of the room leading to a flight of stairs; that was locked, the

key being in the lock on the inside, and the great doors were also secured by a

bolt on our side. We sat, as I say, with practically no manifestations for about

three-quarters of an hour, and I at least was heartily tired of the whole thing.

  

Suddenly in the adjoining room we heard ex­traordinarily ponderous footsteps, as

of some mighty giant; and even as we raised our heads to listen the great doors

burst violently open, crashing into the backs of the chairs on that side,

driving them and their occupants against the table, and so pushing the table

itself against those on the opposite side. A pale, rather ghastly luminosity

shone in through the opened door, and by its light we saw — we all saw — an

enormous elephant stepping straight in upon us, dashing the chairs to­gether

with his stride! A gigantic elephant in a room of that size is not exactly a

pleasant neighbour; nobody stopped to think of the impossibility of the thing —

nobody waited to see what would happen next; the great beast was on the top of

us, as it were, and the man nearest to the back door tore it open, and before we

had time for a second thought we were all rushing madly down those stairs.

  

A roar of Homeric laughter followed us, and in a moment we realized the

absurdity of the situation, and some of us ran back, and struck a light. No one

was there, and both the rooms were empty; there was no way out of either of them

but the doors which opened side by side upon the head of the stair, which had

been within our sight all the time; there was no place to which anybody could

have escaped, if any one could have been playing a trick upon us; not a trace of

an elephant, and nothing to show for our fright, except the bolt torn off the

folding-door with the force of the bursting open, and three broken chairs to

testify to the speed of our departure! We gathered again in our room, and gave

way (now it was over) to unrestrained mirth — all but our sceptic, who had

rushed straight out of the house; and he was so terrified that he would not even

return into the hall below for his coat and hat, and they had to be carried out

 

into the street for him. I have never seen him since, but I have sometimes

wondered exactly how he explained to himself afterwards the deception which he

must have supposed to be practised upon him.

  

In this case the guides controlling the seance evidently thought it desirable to

administer a salutory lesson; but this is rarely done, as it is not usually

considered worth while to waste so large an amount of energy over so unworthy an

object as the conceited and blatant sceptic. It is one of the rules of the

higher life that force should be economized, and employed only where there is at

least reason­able hope that good can be done. We have an instance of the

application of this rule in the life of our Great Exemplar, for is it not

recorded that when Christ visited His own country “He did not many mighty works

there because of their un­belief”?* His power could unquestionably have broken

down their obstinate scepticism; but it is His Will to knock at the door of the

human heart, not to force Himself upon those who are as yet unready to profit by

His ministrations.

  

__________

·       Matthew, xiii, .

 

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL                                                                       

 

 

 

.                                                                         

Chapter X

.                                                                        

SOME RECENT MATERIALIZATION PHENOMENA

 

  

ectoplasms

.                                                                         It

is only lately that scientific men have undertaken an enquiry into the nature of

the curious material produced at seances, out of which visible and tangible

phantoms are built. It has long been understood in a general way by

spiritualists that the visiting entities use some sort of matter derived from

the medium, and to some extent from the other persons present, with which to

densify their superphysical forms. Bat only comparatively recent­ly has it been

realized that the material so employed comes not merely from the etheric body,

but even to a large extent from the tissues of the dense physical body, and that

it therefore has in some way impressed upon it the habit of the organic

structures from which it comes.

  

Apparently, then, the operating entities find it necessary to allow that

material to follow its own lines of growth in the production of forms as it

densifies, adapting these only so far as may be absolutely necessary; the aim

being, no doubt, to conserve energy as much as possible. This physiological

aspect of materialization phenomena has called forth much scientific interest,

and up to date we have the results of extensive research upon it in several

volumes, particularly in Dr. Geley’s Clairvoyance and Materialization and Baron

von Schrenck-Notzing’s Phenomena of Materialization.

.                                                                         The

substance in question appears to be of pre­cisely the same character from

whatever medium it may come. It issues in an invisible form, which may sometimes

be felt as a wind. It then becomes vaporous, and finally condenses into a white,

grey or black material of various textures. This is then moulded into human

limbs and faces and sometimes entire figures, apparently by unseen sources of

intelligence. Sometimes, however, the operating intelligences are seen by the

medium or other clairvoyant persons who may be present, and also other than

human forms are produced, as in the case of Mr. Kluski, about whom a perfectly

formed eagle has frequently been seen and even photographed. On account of the

plastic quality of this material and the fact that it can be moulded into forms

at a little distance from the medium’s body, it goes by the name of teleplasm,

and to the forms made out of it Professor Richet gave the name ectoplasms some

years ago. Afterwards, some writers modified Professor Richet’s nomenclature,

and designated the substance itself ectoplasm.

  

In the case of the famous medium Eusapia Palladino the first manifestation

appeared in the form of a cool wind issuing from her forehead, especially from

an old wound on one side of her head, and from other parts of the body. This

wind would billow out the curtains of the cabinet or the material of her dress,

and within the protection of the dark space behind them would proceed to densify

into a form, which might then emerge into some degree of light. The endeavours

of later investigators have been to induce the operating entities to perform the

entire process in full view as far as possible, for the sake of scientific

research, and this no doubt accounts for the fact that many of the materialized

forms photographed in various stages of growth are not as perfect as some of the

earlier phenomena, such as the appearance of Katie King through the mediurnship

of Florence Cook.

 

  

the phEnomEna of eUsapia palladino

  

The following typical account of Madame Palladino’s work appears in Mr.

Carrington’s Eusapia Palladino and her Phenomena, p. 205:

.                                                                        

After the medium had resumed her chair, we felt her head with our hands, to see

if the cold breeze was issuing from her forehead. We all clearly perceived it

with our hands, placed at a distance of about three inches from the medium’s

head. F. held his hand over her mouth and nose, and we all did likewise, holding

our noses and mouths and refraining from breathing, and the breeze was still

distinctly perceptible. B. then held a small paper flag to the medium’s forehead

— her nose and mouth, as well as our own, still being covered. The flag blew out

several times, and then out so forcibly that it turned completely over and

wrapped itself once round the flagstaff, to which it was attached. The objective

nature of this breeze was thus established — though a thermometer held to her

head failed to record any lowering of temperature.

  

A fair example of the phenomena produced by what was presumably a condensation

of this wind was given in the experiments made at Turin in 1907 by Professor

Lombroso and his two assistants, Dr. Imoda and Dr. Audenino. These seances were

held in the clinical chamber of psychiatry in the University, and were attended

by a number of eminent men. The unanimous opinion was that “even the cleverest

trickery could not begin to explain the majority of the phenomena observed”. The

phenomena took place in the light of an electric lamp of ten candle-power. In

the second and later seances there were heavy blows on the table as well as the

usual lighter raps, and various musical instruments were played. The persons

present were tapped and pulled, and various objects were thrown about.

.                                                                         A

footstool of common wood, which was inside the medium’s cabinet, shook and fell;

the curtain also shook; behind it a hand grasped repeatedly the extended hands

of those present; shook them and caressed them. Suddenly, to the surprise of

all, a little closed hand, the arm covered with a dark sleeve, showed itself in

the full light, quite visibly; it was pink, plump and fresh. “Surprise did not

prevent our at once giving attention to the control of the medium; her hands

were firmly enclosed in those of the two watchful doctors.” A few minutes later

a cold wind came from behind the curtain, which suddenly opened as if it had

been opened by two hands, a human head came out, with a pale, haggard face, of

sinister evil aspect. It lingered a moment and then disappeared.

  

The wooden stool rose up in the air and seemed to want to leave the cabinet,

pushing aside the curtains. It was liberated from the curtains, then it

continued to ascend in an inclined position toward the circle. Several hands

stretched out, following the curious phenomenon, and lightly touched the object.

  

The woman’s small hand then reappeared near the curtain, seized one of the feet

of the footstool, and pushed it. Signor Mucchi broke the chain, and, by a rapid

action, seized the warm hand, which at once seemed to dissolve and disappeared.

Immediately observations were made to ascertain if the medium’s two hands were

well controlled; such was found to be the case. The footstool kept on rising,

and passed over the heads of the sitters, but at this moment the medium seemed

in distress, and cried out: “It will kill us! Catch it!” The hands that were

follow­ing the movements of the small piece of furniture then seized hold of it

to withdraw it from this perilous position, but an invisible force withdrew it

to the centre of the table, where it finally remained in repose.

.                                                                         At

the close of the seance, the reporter placed his hand on the deep scar which the

medium has on the left side of her head, and felt a strong, cold, continuous

breeze issuing from it, like a human breath. He subsequently felt the same cold

breeze issuing, though less strongly, from the tips of her fingers. (p. 90).

  

In some cases a complete form appeared, as in the following record, on page 96:

.                                                                         The

medium rested her head against the shoulder of the controller on the right; her

hands were held in his; suddenly the curtain shook violently, a cold wind passed

out, then a human form covered by the thin material of the curtain was visible

against this light background. The head of a woman, unstable and staggering,

approached the face of the old man; she moved tremblingly like an old woman;

perhaps she kissed him; the old man encouraged her; she withdrew, returned,

seemed as if she was afraid to venture, then advanced resolutely.

 

  

the telEplasm of eva C.

  

One of the most successful materializing mediums of recent years is the lady

known as Eva C. More than a hundred scientific men, especially physicians, have

had an opportunity of observing her phenomena. Dr. Geley had two sittings a week

with her for twelve months, and has fully and carefully described the teleplasm

or ectoplasm. In a lecture given on the 28th of January, 1918, to the members of

the Psychological Institute in the medical lecture theatre of the College de

France, in which Dr. Geley discusses his observations with Eva C., he gave a

description of the material which has been sum­marized as follows. (Phenomena of

Materialization, p. .)

.                                                                         A

substance emanates from the body of the medium, it externalizes itself, and is

amorphous, or polymorphous, in the first instance. This substance takes various

forms, but, in general, it shows more or less composite organs. We may

distinguish (1) the substance as a substratum of materialization; (2) its

organized development. Its ap­pearance is generally announced by the presence of

fluid, white and luminous flakes of a size ranging from that of a pea to that of

a five-franc piece, and distributed here and there over the medium’s black

dress, principally on the left side.

  

This manifestation is a premonitory phenomenon, which sometimes precedes the

other phenomena by three quarters of an hour, or an hour. Sometimes it is

wanting, and it occasionally happens that no other manifestation follows.

  

The substance itself emanates from the whole body of the medium, but especially

from the natural orifices and the extremities, from the top of the head, from

the breasts, and the tips of the fingers. The most usual origin, which is most

easily observed, is that from the mouth. We then see the substance externalizing

itself from the inner surface of the cheeks, from the gums, and from the roof of

the mouth.

  

The substance occurs in various forms, sometimes as ductile dough, sometimes as

a true protoplastic mass, sometimes in the form of numerous thin threads,

some­times as cords of various thickness, or in the form of narrow rigid rays,

or as a broad band, as a membrane, as a fabric, or as a woven material with

indefinite and irregular outlines. The most curious appearance is presented by a

widely expanded membrane, provided with fringes and rucks, and resembling in

appearance a net.

  

The amount of externalized matter varies within wide limits. In some cases it

completely envelops the medium as in a mantle. It may have three different

colours — white, black, or grey. The white colour is the most frequent, perhaps

because it is most easily observed. Sometimes the three colours appear

simultane­ously. The visibility of the substance varies a great deal, and it may

slowly increase or decrease in succession. To the touch it gives various

impressions. Sometimes it is moist and cold, sometimes viscous and sticky, more

rarely dry and hard. The impression created depends on the shape. It appears

soft and slightly elastic when it is expanded, and hard, knotty, or fibrous when

it forms cords. Sometimes it produces the feeling of a spider’s web passing over

the observer's hand. The threads are both rigid and elastic.

  

The substance is mobile. Sometimes it moves slowly up or down, across the

medium, on her shoulders, on her breast, or on her knees, with a creeping motion

resembling a reptile.

  

Sometimes the movements are sudden and quick. The substance appears and

disappears like lightning and is extraordinarily sensitive. Its sensitiveness is

mixed up with the hyperaesthetic sensibility of the medium. Every touch produces

a painful reaction in the medium. When the touch is moderately strong, or

prolonged, the medium complains of a pain comparable with the pain produced by a

shock to the normal body.

  

The substance is sensitive to light. Strong light, especially when sudden and

unexpected, produces a painful disturbance in the subject. Yet nothing is more

variable than the action of light. In some cases, the phenomena withstand full

daylight. The magnesium flash-light acts like a sudden blow on the medium, but

it is withstood, and flash-light photographs can be taken.

  

The substance has an intrinsic and irresistible tendency towards organization.

It does not remain long in the primitive condition. It often happens that the

organization is so rapid that the primordial substance does not appear at all.

At other times one sees at the same time the amorphous substance, and some forms

or structures, more or less completely embedded in it, e.g., a thumb suspended

in a fringe of the substance. One even sees heads and faces embedded in the

material.

.                                                                         As

to actual experiments, Dr. Geley gives the following case from his note book:

.                                                                         A

cord of white substance proceeds slowly from the mouth down to Eva’s knees,

having the thickness of about two fingers. This band assumes the most varied

forms before our eyes. Sometimes it expands in the form of a membraneous fabric,

with gaps and bulges. Sometimes it contracts and folds up, subsequently

expanding and stretching out again. Here and there projections issue from the

mass, a sort of pseudopods, and these sometimes take, for a few seconds, the

form of fingers, or the element­ary outline of a hand, subsequently returning

back into the mass. Finally, the cord contracts into itself, extending again on

Eva’s knees. Its end rises in the air, leaves the medium, and approaches me. I

then see that the end condenses itself in the form of a knot or terminal bud,

and this again expands into a perfectly modelled hand. I touch this hand; it

feels quite normal. I feel the bones and the fingers with the nails. This hand

is then drawn back, becomes smaller, and vanishes at the end of the cord. The

latter makes a few further motions, contracts, and then returns into the

medium’s mouth. (p. .)

  

Again:

.                                                                         A

head suddenly appears about 30 inches from the head of the medium, above her and

on her right side. It is a human head of normal dimensions, well developed, and

with the usual relief. The top of the skull and the forehead are completely

materialized. The forehead is broad and high. The hair is short and thick, and

of a chestnut or black colour. Below the line of the eyebrows the design is

vague, only the forehead and skull appearing clearly. The head disappears for a

moment behind the curtain, and then reappears in the same condition, but the

face, imperfectly materialized, is covered with a white mask. I extend my hand,

and pass my fingers through the bushy hair, and touch the bones of the skull.

The next moment everything had disappeared. (p. .)

  

Speaking from the physiological point of view the doctor adds:

.                                                                        

Both normal and supernormal physiology tend to establish the unity of the

organic substance. In our experiments we have observed, above all, that a

uniform amorphous substance externalizes itself from the medium’s body, and

gives rise to the various ideoplastic forms. We have seen how this uniform

substance organized and trans­formed itself under our eyes. We have seen a hand

emerg­ing from the mass of the substance; a white mass developed into a face. We

have seen how in a few moments the form of a head was replaced by the shape of a

hand. By the concurrent testimony of sight and touch we have followed the

transition of the amorphous unorganized substance into an organically developed

structure which had temporarily all the attributes of life — a complete

formation, so to speak, in flesh arid blood.

  

We have watched the disappearance of these form­ations as they sank back into

primitive substance, and have even observed how, in an instant, they were

absorbed into the body of the medium. In supranormal physiology there are no

different organic substrata for the various substances, as, e.g., a bone

substance, a muscular, visceral, or nervous substance; it is simply then a

single substance, the basis and substratum of organic life.

  

In normal physiology it is exactly the same, but it is not so obvious. In some

cases it appears quite clear that the phenomenon which takes place in the black

seance cabinet, takes place also, as already mentioned, in the chrysalis of the

insect. The dissolution of tissues reduces a large proportion of the organs, and

their various parts, to a single substance, that substance which is destined to

materialize the organs and the various parts of the adult form. We, therefore,

have the same manifestation in both physiologies. (p. .)

  

But it is Baron von Schrenck-Notzing of Munich who has given us the fullest

account of Eva’s mediumship, in his great work Phenomena of Materialization, a

large volume containing no less than 225 illustrations, mostly from actual

photographs of the occurrences. These are derived from literally hundreds of

sessions, extending from May, 1909 to June, . The phenomena described in

this book are of the same nature as those of Dr. Geley, but as they relate to an

earlier period of Eva’s work they show a gradual development of the power, at

any rate with respect to that condition of the teleplastic substance in which it

is capable of being photographed. Madame Bisson, who lives with Eva, and has

taken care of her for many years, describes a number of occasions on which she

was able to handle the teleplasm, and she confirms the sensations of it which

are described by Dr. Geley.

  

The teleplasm is rarely, if ever, entirely separated from the medium, and though

it possesses no organized nerves, impressions made upon it by touch and by light

appear in the medium’s consciousness as her own sensations. Incidentally, this

proves that the nervous system is not absolutely necessary for the communication

of sensations to the brain. Generally speaking, any pressure given to the

substance, or any sudden and powerful light, such as that from a pocket electric

lamp, hurts the  medium. The pain seems to appear in the body of the medium in

that part of the body from which the material was probably drawn. The following

example illustrates this to some extent.

.                                                                         Eva

took my right hand in both her hands. This time the material was thrown on my

right hand and on her hands, completely enclosing our hands. I then commenced to

pull again and to draw the material outwards, proceeding as tenderly as

possible, in order not to hurt the medium. When I began to examine the material,

it had curled right round my hand. Suddenly Eva made a movement with her hands,

lying on my arm, and involuntarily pulled at the material held by me. It

obviously frightened and hurt her, for she screamed, and gave me great anxiety.

I tried to soothe her, but she complained of a strong nausea. The nausea

continued for about ten minutes (p. .)

.                                                                         At

a later sitting (p. 131) when a female head showed itself, the Baron heard Eva

speak at the same time, and request Madame Bisson to cut a lock from the head.

Madame Bisson took a pair of scissors, and while under the careful observation

of the Baron, cut off a lock of hair about four inches long and gave it to him.

The materialized structure then suddenly disappeared in the direction of the

medium, accompanied by a scream from her. After the sitting a lock of the

medium’s hair was cut, with her permission. While Eva’s hair showed an entirely

brunette character, that taken from the small head (which represented a female

form whom Eva called Estelle) was blonde, and the fact that the two samples of

hair were quite different was further proved by the microphotographical and

chemical examinations made by experts (p. 133).

 

  

SCIENTIFIC PRECAUTIONS

  

It should be mentioned that the scientists engaged in this research work always

made every possible examination of the medium as well as of the place of meeting

beforehand. As to this Dr. von Schrenck-Notzing writes:

.                                                                         Not

one of the observers during these four years has ever found on the medium’s

body, or in the seance costumes anything which could have been used for the

fraudulent production of the phenomena. The author was a witness to the thorough

performance of this task on no less than 180 occasions. The honesty of the

medium is therefore not a probability, but a certainty placed beyond all

question. She has never introduced any objects into the cabinet with which she

could have fraudulently represented the teleplastic products. The various seance

rooms, in different houses, had no secret passages or trap-doors, and were

regularly examined, both before and after every sitting. (p. .)

  

If many of the faces and forms which appear look to the casual observer as

though drawn upon and cut out of paper, and are even marked by lines as though

that paper, had been folded up, nevertheless it cannot be assumed that paper

figures were smuggled into the seances. Both the rigidity of the searches and

the control of the medium prevent not only their being introduced, but also

their being handled if introduced. The examination of the photographs by

experts, and their fruitless attempt to produce similar effects with paper

figures photo­graphed under exactly the same conditions, also show fraud to be

impossible; and the exgurgitation hypothesis, which has been proposed by some

speculators, also stretches the imagination too far from possible facts;

besides, in some of the experiments bilberry jam was given to Eva to eat shortly

before the sitting, and this must inevitably have coloured the entire contents

of the stomach (p. 206).

 

  

the development of the forms

.                                                                         On

the other hand, it does often appear that the intelligences operating in the

production of the forms have some difficulty in their materialization, which

they can overcome only by methods of production resembling those of the artist

and the sculptor on our own plane. For example, as to the experiment of the 10th

of September, 1912, the Baron mentions (p. 196) that the head which appeared

 

showed in several respects faults of drawing. Sometimes the same phantom appears

a number of times, with or without a considerable interval. In such cases Baron

von Schrenck-Notzing finds that while there is the same head and dress, and

position of the arms crossed over the breast, there are a great number of small

differences. He concludes that the differences between the pictures taken of the

same type but on different evenings may be compared with the different poses of

a person at a photographer’s, and that they are due principally to different

positions of the body, owing to displacement and changes in the external lines

and the folds of the dress. The differences, he adds, indicate mobility and

variability of the artistic will behind the scenes in the details and shades of

the conception, for the “elementary formative principle” never produces rigid

and unchangeable products,  “but the photo­graphed emanations always indicate a

mobile, soft material basis, which is highly changeable and rapidly perishable.”

(p. .)

  

The same distinguished investigator had also a number of seances with a Polish

medium, a girl of nineteen years, named Stanislava P. (p. 251 et seq.) From her

he obtained phenomena very similar to those presented by Eva C. In this series

of investi­gations some cinema pictures were taken — on one occasion as many as

four hundred, and on another three hundred and sixty (p. 258). The films show

the recession of the material into the mouth of the medium, and one of them also

shows the broadening and narrowing of the mass of substance.

  

In 1922 Baron von Schrenck-Notzing devoted several months to demonstrations of

the reality of ectoplasm to members of the liberal professions, in this case

with a medium named Willy Schneider, an Austrian boy of . Through these

phenomena a large number of scientists became convinced of the reality of

materializations.

 

  

the clothing oF phantoms

  

The question is sometimes asked why the materialized forms of persons who have

been dead for a considerable time still present themselves in the clothing which

they used to wear. This is not always strictly the case, but it is generally so

even when the departed person may have changed his habit in the astral world.

One reason for this is that many of them would not be recognized in their new

condition, but it appears also that when they come within earth influence their

old earth condition closes in upon them, as it were, and reproduces the old

material forms. Through Mrs. Coates in trance (Photographing the Invisible, p.

208) the reply given to this question was :

  

When we think what we were like upon the earth, the ether condenses around us

and encloses us like an envelope. We are within those ether-like substances

which are drawn to us, and our thoughts of what we were like and what we would

be better known by, produce not only the clothing, but the fashioning of our

forms and features. It is here the spirit chemists step in. They fashion

according to their ability that ether substance quicker than thought, and

produce our earth features so that they may be recognized ... When I was

photographed ... at Los Angeles, that etherealized matter was attracted or clung

to me, taking on the features fashioned by my thoughts, which were, by some

sudden impulse or mysterious law, those of my last illness on earth.

  

A somewhat unusual modification of this process is recounted in Mr. J. Arthur

Hill’s New Evidences in Psychical Research. At a sitting on Feb. 7th, 1908, the

medium Watson said that he saw in the room the dead mother of one of the

sitters. He described her as attired in a brown silk dress, high in the neck,

trimmed with white, and having a lined or watered effect in its texture. He said

that there was some history attached to this dress, about which the sitter ought

to enquire from her sister. On enquiry from the lady mentioned they learned that

the old lady had ordered a dress such as that described, but it was delivered

only the day before she died, and so was never worn. Mr. Hill remarks that, if

the supposition of fraud be dismissed, this incident suggests :

  

Neither telepathy nor a rummaging among passive memories in a cosmic reservoir,

but rather the activity of a surviving mind, able to marshal its earth-memories

and to select from them for presentation to the medium such details as will

constitute the strongest possible evidence of identity. (p. .)

 

  

the wax glovEs

  

It would be difficult to imagine anything more effective in the way of proof of

the actual presence of solid materialized human forms than those products which

have become popularly known as the wax gloves. These are paraffin wax moulds of

various human members. Dr. Geley gives us a full account of a number of seances

in which these were produced. (Clairvoyance and Materialization, pp. 221 to

.) The medium for these experiments was Mr. Franek Kluski, of Warsaw. This

gentleman, who has been psychic from childhood, is described by Dr. Geley as a

member of a liberal profession, a writer and a poet, a sympathetic and

attractive personality, very intelligent, well educated, speaking several

languages, and adds that he has placed his wonderful gifts freely and

disinterestedly at the service first of his own compatriots and then of the

Metapsychic Institute, by frank devotion to science. The phenomena are

plentiful, including exhibitions of the primary substance and luminous

phenomena, materializations of human members, of human faces and animal forms,

and the movement of objects without apparent contact, as well as phenomena of a

mental order.

  

We will, however, confine ourselves here to a brief account of the wax moulds.

In these sittings a tank of melted paraffin wax was set upon an electric heater,

the materialized entity was asked to plunge a hand or foot or even part of the

face into the paraffin several times. This action results in the formation of a

closely fitting envelope, which sets quite rapidly. When the form dematerializes

the glove or envelope remains, and if it be desired plaster can afterwards be

poured into the mould, giving a perfect cast of the hand or other member upon

which it had been formed. In one short series of sittings nine moulds were

produced, of which seven were all hands, one was a foot and one a mouth and

chin. The following is Dr. Geley’s account of the tenth experiment in this

series:

  

Control was perfect — right hand held by Professor Richet and left by Count

Potocki. The controllers kept repeating “I am holding the right hand,” or “I am

holding the left hand.” After fifteen or twenty minutes splashing was audible in

the tank, and the hands operating, covered with warm paraffin, touched those of

the controllers. Before the experiment Professor Richet and I had added some

blue colouring matter to the paraffin, which then had a bluish tinge. This was

done secretly, to be an absolute proof that the moulds were made on the spot and

not brought ready-made into the laboratory by Franek or any other person, and

passed off on us by legerdemain. The operation lasted as before, from one to two

minutes.

  

Two admirable moulds resulted, of right and left hands of the size of the hands

of children five to seven years old. These were of bluish wax, the same colour

as that in the tank.

  

Weight of paraffin before experiment: 3 kilograms 920 grams.

  

Weight of paraffin after the experiment: 3 kilograms 800 grams.

  

Weight of the moulds: 50 grams.

  

The difference is represented by a considerable quantity of wax scattered on the

floor, about 15 grams near the medium and also some far from him, 31/2 yards

distant, in a place to which he could not have gone, near the photographic

apparatus. We did not scratch up this last, which was adherent to the floor, for

weighing, but there was a good deal of it — about 25 grams. Mr. Kluski had not

been near that place either before or during the experiment. There was also

paraffin on the hands and clothes of the medium. His hands had never been

released from the hold of the controllers. (p. .)

  

The appearance of paraffin on Mr. Kluski’s hands and clothes reminds us of the

same occurrences in Mr. Crawford’s experiments in the Goligher circle, already

described in Chapter VII. The moulds mentioned above show hands with fingers

bent down, and thumbs turned over them or over the palm of the hand, and in some

cases two hands are shown with fingers interlocked in various ways. For these

and other reasons it is quite certain that the wax moulds have been made upon

human members afterwards dematerialized.

  

In the second series of experiments conducted at Warsaw (those above mentioned

took place in Paris) some of the materializations were at the same time visible.

Dr. Geley says:

  

We had in this case a new and hitherto unpublished proof. We had the great

pleasure of seeing the hands dipped into the paraffin. They were luminous,

bearing points of light at the finger-tips. They passed slowly before our eyes,

dipped into the wax, moved in it for a few seconds, came out, still luminous,

and deposited the glove against the hand of one of us. (p. .)

 

 

-------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales-------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL                                                                       

 

 

Chapter XI

.                                                                        

OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS SPIRITUALISM

 

  

much in common

  

“but,” some spiritualists have said to me, “we always thought that you

Theosophists supposed all our phenomena to be the work of elementals, or

fairies, or devils or something of that sort!” No Theosophist who knows anything

about it has ever made any such foolish assertion. What may have been said is

that some part of the phenomena were occasionally produced by agencies other

than dead men or women; and that is perfectly true. It has often seemed to me

that there has frequently been a good deal of entirely unnecessary mistrust and

misconception between Theosophists and spiritualists. Various spiritualistic

organs have frequently abused Theosophy in no measured terms, and there is no

 

doubt that on our side also both speakers and writers have often referred to

spiritualism with much scorn, but with little knowledge. But I hope that with

more knowledge each of the other we shall come to respect one another more as we

understand one another better, for we each have our part to fill in the great

work of the future. It would indeed be foolish of us to quarrel, for we have

more in common with each other than either of us has with any of the other

shades of opinion.

 

  

points of agreement

  

We both hold strenuously to the great central idea of man as an immortal and

ever-progressive being; we both know that as is his life now, so shall it be

after he has cast aside this body, which is his only that he may learn through

it; we both hold the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man as fundamental

tenets; and we both know that the gains and rewards of this world are but as

dross compared with the glorious certainties of the higher life beyond the

grave. Let us stand side by side on this common platform, and let us postpone

the consideration of our points of difference until we have converted the rest

of the world to the belief in these points upon which we agree. Surely that is

wise policy, for these are the points of importance; and if the life is lived in

accordance with these all the rest will follow.

  

We have a magnificent system of philosophy; our spiritualistic brother does not

care for it. Well, if his thought does not run along that line, why should we

seek to force it upon him? Perhaps presently he will feel the need of some such

system; if he does, then there it is all ready for his study. I believe that in

due course I shall return to live again upon this earth; herein some of my

spiritual­istic brothers agree with me, and some do not; but, after all, what

does that matter? To us this doctrine of reincarnation is luminous and helpful,

because it seems to explain so much for which otherwise there is no solution;

but if another man does not yet feel the need of it, it is no part of our policy

to try to force it upon him.

  

We hold the idea of continued progress after death by means of further lives

upon this earth, after the life on subtler planes is over; the spiritual­ist

prefers the idea of passing on to other and higher spheres altogether. We both

agree that there is a progress hereafter; let us live so as to make the best use

of this existence as a preparation for that, for if we do that we shall surely

come out successfully, whichever of us is right as to the place of our future

meeting. When all the world is living its highest in the preparation for that

life of pro­gress, it will be time enough to begin to argue about where it will

be lived.

 

  

untrained observation of little value

  

 

As to the spiritualistic phenomena, we have no quarrel whatever with them; we

know well that they take place, and we know that they have had great value as

demonstrating the reality of superphysical life to many a sceptical mind. There

are many men who seem constitutionally incapable of profiting by the experience

of others; they must go and see everything for themselves, not realizing that,

even if they do see, their untrained observa­tions will be of little value. On

this point Mr. Fullerton has well said:

  

To ensure observations with any worth there must be long and careful discipline;

natural errors must through repeated experience be guarded against, distinctions

and qualifications and illusions be learned. This is true of the physical plane;

much more of the astral plane, where phenomena are so different, conditions so

unlike, misguidance so multiform. He who assumes that his untutored observation

for the first time of the contents and facts of the astral world would better

determine them than does the trained faculty of long and accomplished students,

presupposes really that he is an exception to universal rule, superior to other

men and of different mould. But what is this save a form of vanity, a case of

that strange delusion as to personal worth which the smallest observation of

human nature might have cured? It is akin to the supposi­tion that his first

introduction to an unknown continent, he not being a naturalist, a physicist, or

a botanist, would be more conclusive in its results than the protracted

researches of scientists long familiar with the region and mutually comparing

their investigations. (The Proofs of Theosophy, p. .)

  

If a man must see for himself, and is unable to rest upon the basis of

intellectual conviction, by all means let him attend the spiritualistic seance,

and learn by experience, as so many others have done. It is not a course that we

should advise except to such a man as this, because there are certain serious

drawbacks to it from our point of view.

 

  

drawbacks

  

The greatest of these is one at which the sceptic would laugh — the danger of

believing too much! For if the sceptic has determination and persever­ance, he

will assuredly be convinced sooner or later; and when he is, it is quite likely

that the pendulum will swing to the other extreme, and that he will believe too

much, instead of too little. He may readily grow to regard all the words of the

dead as gospel, all communications which come through the tilts of a table as

divinely inspired.

  

There is also another danger — that of being uncomfortably haunted. Often there

come to a seance most undesirable dead people, men of depraved morals, seeking

to gratify vicariously obscene lower passions. And besides these, there are

those dead men who are mad with fear, who are clutching desperately at any and

every opportunity to seize a physical vehicle, to get back at any cost and by

any means into touch with the lower life which they have lost. The “guide”

usually protects his medium from such influences, and will not allow such a man

to communicate; but he cannot prevent him from attaching himself to other

sitters and following them home. The sceptic may think himself strong-minded and

non-sensitive, and therefore proof against any such possibility; some day he may

be unpleasantly undeceived as to this; but even if that be so, does he wish to

run the risk of bringing home an influence to his wife or his daughter? Of

course, I fully recognize that this is only a possibility — that a man might

attend a score of seances and encounter nothing of this sort; yet these things

have happened, and they are happening even now. People driven to the verge of

insanity by astral persecution have come to me again and again; and in many

cases it was at a seance that they first encountered that ghostly companion. The

strong can resist; but who knows whether he is strong until he tries?

 

  

Resolution needed

  

When, however, this unfortunate thing has already happened to a person — when he

already feels himself haunted or obsessed — there is only one thing to be done,

and that is to set the mind steadily against it in determined resistance.

Realize firmly that the human will is stronger than any evil influence, and that

you have a right to your own individuality and the use of your own organs — a

right to choose your company astrally as well as on the physical plane. Assert

this right persistently, and all will be well with you. Take resolutely to heart

the common sense advice given by Miss Freer, in her Essays in Psychical

Research:

  

If you believe yourself obsessed, if planchette swears, if your table-raps give

lying messages, and you fall into trances at unreasonable moments, drop the

subject. Get a bicycle, or learn Hebrew, or go on a walking tour, or weed the

garden! If you are sane, you can do as you like with your own mind; if you can

not, consult the staff of Colney Hatch! Want of self-restraint is either sin or

disease.

 

  

possibility of decepTIon

  

Then there is always the possibility of deception — not so much of deception by

the medium, or by any one on the physical plane, as by entities behind. I have

known many cases in which such deceptions were well-intentioned; but of course

they remain deceptions nevertheless. It may happen that one dead man personates

another from the best of motives — it may be simply to comfort surviving

relations, by taking the place of one who does not care sufficiently, or perhaps

is ashamed to come. Sometimes one man will take the place of another who has

already passed on to the heaven-world and so is out of reach, in order that his

surviving relations may not feel themselves neglected or abandoned. In such a

case it is not for us to blame him; his action may be right or it may be wrong,

but that is a matter exclusively for his own conscience, and we are not called

upon to judge him. I simply note the fact that such cases occur.

  

It must be remembered that the man who has passed on into the heaven-world has

left behind him his astral corpse, which is at the stage of decay of the shade

or of the shell, according to the time which has elapsed since he abandoned it.

Obviously to utilize and revivify this will be the easier way of personating

him, and it is therefore the plan usually adopted.

  

It is not even in the least necessary that the communicating entity should be

human at all; many a joyous and obliging nature-spirit is proud to have the

opportunity of playing the part of a being belonging to a superior evolution,

and will continue assuring his delighted audience that he is “so happy” as long

as they like to listen to him.

  

The entity who poses at a seance as Shakespeare or Julius Caesar, as Mary Queen

of Scots or George Washington, is usually of this class, though he is sometimes

also a human being of low degree, to whom it is a joy to strut even for a few

minutes in such borrowed plumes, to enjoy even for a single evening the respect

due to a well-known name. Also, if he has something to say which he considers

useful or important, he thinks (and quite rightly) that credulous mortals are

more likely to pay attention to it if it be attributed to some distin­guished

person. His motives are often estimable, even though we cannot approve of his

methods.

  

There is any amount of such personation as this; it is one of the commonest

facts which we encounter in our researches. There is a book on Spiritualism, for

example, by Judge Edmonds of the Supreme Court of New York, which consists

chiefly of com­munications purporting to come from Swedenborg and Bacon, with

occasional observations from Washington and Charlemagne; but none of these great

people seem to have risen at all to the level of their earthly reputation, and

their remarks do not, differ appreci­ably from the deadly dullness of the

ordinary trance-address, while many of their statements are of course wildly

inaccurate.

  

Another fine example is the list of signatures appended to the prolegomena of

The Spirits’ Book, by Allan Kardec, which is as follows: “John the Evangelist,

St. Augustine, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis, the Spirit of Truth, Socrates,

Plato, Fenelon, Franklin, Swedenborg, etc., etc.” One wonders who is covered by

the mystic “etc., etc.,” and whether the other names were all that the

communicating entity could think of at the moment!

  

All such extravagant pretensions as these are so obviously ridiculous that they

are easy of detection. But when the man personated is one of ordinary type, it

is quite another matter; so that at a seance, unless the sitter is himself a

trained clairvoyant of no mean order, he simply cannot tell what it is that he

sees, however much he may flatter himself that his discernment is perfect. Let

me quote once more what I wrote some years ago in The Astral Plane, p. .

  

A manifesting “spirit” is often exactly what it professes to be, but often also

is nothing of the kind; and for the ordinary sitter there is absolutely no means

of distinguishing the true from the false, since the extent to which a being

having all the resources of the astral plane at his command can delude a person

on the physical plane is so great that no reliance can be placed even on what

seems the most convincing proof.

  

If something manifests which announces itself as a man’s long-lost brother, he

can have no certainty that its claim is a just one. If it tells him of some fact

known only to that brother and to himself, he remains unconvinc­ed, for he knows

that it might easily have read the information from his own mind, or from his

surroundings in the astral light. Even if it goes still further and tells him

something connected with his brother, of which he himself is unaware, which he

afterwards verifies, he still realizes that even this may have been read from

the astral records, or that what he sees before him may be only the shade of his

brother, and so possess his memory without in any way being himself. It is not

for one moment denied that important communications have sometimes been made at

seances by entities who in such cases have been precisely what they said they

were; all that is claimed is that it is quite impossible for the ordinary person

who visits a seance ever to be certain that he is not being cruelly deceived in

one or other of a dozen different ways.

  

Once more, I know that these are possibilities only, and that in the majority of

cases the dead man gives his name honestly enough; but the possibilities exist

nevertheless, and often materialize themselves into actualities.

 

  

harm to the medium

  

Another point is the harm which must to a greater or less extent be done to the

medium — not only the extreme physical prostration which I have mentioned,

leading sometimes to nervous break-down, and sometimes to excessive use of

stimulants in order to avoid that break-down — but also along moral lines. Here

I must protest emphatically against the ordinary type of paid seances to which

anyone may come on payment of so much per head. It places the unfortunate medium

in an utterly false position, and exposes him to a temptation to which no man

ought ever intentionally to be exposed. Anyone who knows anything at all about

these phenomena knows that they are erratic, that they are dependent upon many

causes of which as yet he knows only a few, and that therefore sometimes they

can be had and sometimes they cannot. This is the experience of every

investigator. Miss Goodrich Freer corroborates it in the preface to her Essays

in Psychical Research, p. vi:

  

If I know anything, I know that psychic phenomena are not to be commanded, be

their origin what it may . . . He who ordains the services of Angels as well as

of men may send His messengers — but not, I think, to produce poltergeist

phenomena. The veil of the future may be lifted now and then — but not, I take

it, at the bidding of a guinea fee in Bond Street. That we may momentarily

transcend time and space, the temporary conditions of our mortality, I cannot

doubt; but such phenomena are not to be commanded, nor of everyday occurrence,

nor hastily to be assumed.

  

Now if the medium is in the position of having been paid beforehand for their

production, and then he finds that they will not come, what is he to do to

satisfy all these people who are sitting round him expecting their money’s

worth? It is so easy to deceive them; they lend themselves to it so readily;

nay, it is often quite sufficient just to allow them to deceive themselves. It

is not fair to put any man in such a position as that; and if the medium

some­times falls into cheating, it is surely not he alone who is to blame.

 

  

haRm to the dead

  

Then there is the whole question of possible harm to the dead. I have already

admitted that the dead man sometimes wishes to communicate in order to unburden

his mind in some way, and when this is the case it is well that he should have

the opportun­ity of doing it. But these cases are comparatively rare. If the

dead want us they will seek to reach us; but we should invariably let the

movement come from their side — we should never seek to draw them back. It may

be said, perhaps:  “But is it not a natural desire on the part of a mother to

see her dead child again?” Surely it would be more natural for the mother to be

entirely unselfish, and to think first of what was best for the child, before

she considered her personal longings. In many cases communication with the

physical plane may do a man but little harm during the earliest stages of his

astral life; but it must always be remembered that in every case it intensifies

and prolongs his attachment to the lower levels of the plane — that it sets up

in him a habit of remaining closely in touch with the earth-life.

 

  

the place and woRk op spiRitualism

  

Yet, with all this, spiritualism has assuredly its place and its work, and it

has been of incalculable value to many thousands of men and women. The Catholic

Church and the Salvation Army are both sections of Christianity, yet they appeal

to widely different types of people, and those who are attracted by one would

have been little likely to come to the other. So each has its place and its work

to do for the broad idea of Christianity. In the same way it seems to me that

Theosophy and spiritualism have each their clientele. Those who study the

philosophy which we set before them would never have been satisfied with the

trance-speaking and the constantly repeated phenomena of the spiritualistic

seance; those who desire such phenomena, and those who yearn after what good old

Dr. Dee used to call  “sermon-stuffe” would never have been happy with us, while

they find exactly what they want in spiritualism. For among spiritualists, as

among any other body of men, there are several types. There are those who are

chiefly interested in the trance-speaking, who make this their religion and take

their trance-address followed by a clairvoyant reading of surroundings every

Sunday evening, just as mortals who are otherwise disposed go to church or to a

Theosophical lecture. Then there is the type whose interest is purely personal —

whose one and only idea in connection with the whole affair is the gratification

of their private and particular wish to see their own dead relations. There is

another type who honestly and unselfishly set themselves to the task of trying

to help and develop the degraded, the unevolved and the ignorant among the dead;

and there is no doubt that they really achieve a great deal of good with that

unpromising class of people. Others there are who are really anxious to learn

and understand scientifically the facts of the higher life; and these people,

while intensely delighted and interested for a time, usually find presently that

beyond a certain point they can get no further; and then perhaps we can do

something for them in Theosophy.

  

A question which is constantly asked is: “Why do not these dead men who return

to us with the knowledge of a higher plane teach us the doctrine of

reincarnation?” The answer is perfectly simple; first of all, some of them do

teach it. All spiritists of the French school of Allan Kardec hold this doctrine

during life, and consequently when they return after death they have still the

same story to tell. Those who return in England or America usually say nothing

about it, because they have no means of knowing anything more about it now than

they knew when they were upon earth. As we explained in an earlier chapter, it

is the soul himself in his causal body who passes from life to life, and he has

no more knowledge or memory of that wider existence on the astral plane than he

had on the physical. So he repeats only what he has known on earth, unless he is

so fortunate as to meet with someone who is able to teach him something of this

grand truth — an Oriental for example, or a Theosophist.

  

Still, even in spiritualism evidence of reincarna­tion occasionally appears, as,

for example, in Claude’s Book, by L. Kelway-Bamber, first published in 1918,

wherein the young British officer, communicating from the astral plane, devotes

a chapter to a de­scription of the subject; and naturally it is usually of that

rapid type of reincarnation of which Monsieur Gabrielle Delanne collected so

many examples in the address which he delivered some years ago before one of the

spiritualistic societies. Here, for example, is a curious case, extracted from

the pages of The Progressive Thinker of December 13th, . It appears in the

form of a letter to the editor, signed with the initials S.O., and dated

somewhat vaguely from New Mexico.

 

  

A story OF reincarnation

  

I offer my personal experience as an absolute fact — not as supporting any

theory. At the time I passed through the experience (28 years ago), I knew

absolutely nothing of mediumship in any phase and probably had never heard the

word reincarnation. I was then sixteen years of age and had been married one

year.

  

The knowledge that I was to become a mother had just dawned upon me, when in a

vague way I became conscious of the almost constant presence of an invisible

personality. I seemed to know intuitively that my invisible companion was a

woman, and quite a number of years older than myself. By degrees this presence

grew stronger. In the third month after she first made her presence felt, I

could receive impressionally long messages from her. She manifested the most

solicitous care for my health and general welfare, and as time wore on her voice

became audible to me, and I enjoyed many hours of conversation with her. She

gave her name and nationality, with many details of her personal history. She

seemed anxious that I should know and love her for herself, as she expressed it.

She made continual efforts to become visible to me, and towards the last

succeeded. She was then as true a companion to me as if she had been clothed in

an embodi­ment of flesh. I had merely to draw my curtains, shroud­ing the room

in quiet tones, to have the presence manifest, both to sight and hearing.

  

Two or three weeks before the birth of my baby she informed me that the real

purport of her presence was her intention to enter the new form at its birth, in

order to complete an earth-experience that had come to an untimely end. I

confess I had but a dim conception of her meaning, and was considerably troubled

over the matter.

  

On the night before my daughter’s birth, I saw my companion for the last time.

She came to me and said: “Our time is at hand; be brave and all will be well

with us.”

  

My daughter came, and in appearance was a perfect miniature of my spirit friend,

and totally unlike either family to which she belonged, and the first remark of

everyone on seeing her would be:  “Why, she does not look like a baby at all.

She looks at least twenty years old.”

  

I was greatly surprised some years later when I chanced to find in an old work

the story of the woman, whose name and history my spirit-friend claimed as her

own in her earth-life, and the fragments of her story, as she had given them to

me, were in accord with history, except some personal details not likely to have

been known to anyone else. All this experience I kept to myself as a profound

secret, for, young as I was, I realized what judgement the world would place

upon the narrator of such a story.

  

Once when my daughter was in her fifteenth year, the first name of my

spirit-friend happened to be mentioned in her presence. She turned to me quickly

with a look of surprise on her face and said:  “Mamma, didn’t my papa call me by

this name?” (Her father died when she was one year old.) I said:  “No, dear, you

were never called this name.” She replied: “Well, I surely remember it, and

somebody somewhere called me by it.”

  

In conclusion I will add that in character my daughter is very much like the

historic character of the woman whose spirit said she would inhabit the new

form.

  

These are my facts. I offer no explanation; if they chance to fit anybody’s

theory, so much the better for the theory. Theories usually need some facts to

prop them up; facts are independent and able to stand on their own feet.

  

Madame d’Espérance, who seems to be in so many respects in advance of the

majority of mediums, appears to have been taught not only reincarnation but much

other Theosophical doctrine by one of her dead friends, as is set forth in her

book Shadowland. Perhaps the most striking incident in that very interesting

work is the occasion on which the author leaves her body and is shown a

remarkable symbolical vision of her life; for in that one experience her eyes

are opened to the doctrine of cause arid effect, of evolution and reincarnation,

and to the absolute realization of the fundamental unity of all, however dimly

and imperfectly it may be expressed. For the law of cause and effect is involved

in the statement made by the spirit-friend as to the path of life: “It is the

road you have made; you have no other”. Evolution is taught when she is shown

“that it is the same life which, circling for ever and ever through form after

form, dwelling in the rocks, the sand, the sea, in each blade of grass, each

tree, each flower, in all forms of animal existence, culminates in man’s

intelligence and perception.”

  

As to reincarnation she remarks :

  

I could see that the fact of the spirit first taking on itself the form of man

did not bring it to its utmost earthly perfection, for there are many degrees of

man. In the savage it widens its experience and finds a new field for education,

which being exhausted, another step is taken; and so step by step, in an ever

onward, progressive, expansive direction the spirit develops, the decay of the

forms which the spirit employs being only the evidence that they have fulfilled

their mission, and served the purpose for which they were used. They return to

their original elements, to be used again and again as a means whereby the

spirit can manifest itself, and obtain the development it requires. (p 376).

  

M. L. Chevreuil’s book Proofs of the Spirit World contains a chapter entitled

“Previous Lives”, in which he vigorously supports the truth of reincar­nation.

He says:

  

The soul is an entity distinct from the body; it accompanies the essential part

of the human being in the course of the numerous incarnations necessary to our

evolution. From the time of Plato the majority of men have lived in the

knowledge of this truth, and tomorrow they will dwell in scientific certainty

that this ancient philosophy has not deceived them. (p. .)

  

He describes at considerable length some of the labours of M. de Rochas upon the

regression of memory. M. Chevreuil explains that every subject describes in the

same manner his or her going back to the past:

  

They are transported back to six months of age, two months, into the body of the

mother, where they take the position of the foetus; the regression is continued

and they are in space. A brief lethargy, and we are present at a new scene, the

death of an old person. It is the beginning of the life which preceded the

present incarnation, mani­festing itself backwards, and continuing back to a

still older incarnation. (p. .)

  

Considering the mode of the “spirit’s” coming to birth, M. Chevreuil says that

the vision described is always the same, that before birth the subject sees

himself in space in the form of a ball or as a slightly luminous mist, and sees

in the mother’s womb the body in which he is to be incarnated; all agree, he

adds, that the spiritual body enters little by little, and that the complete

incorporation occurs at about seven years of age.

 

  

reincarnations in india and japan

  

Rao Bahadur Shyam Sundar Lal, C. I. E., a distinguished Minister of the Gwalior

and Alwar States, has devoted many years to the study of reincarnation. Among

the evidence collected by him is a case which was recounted as follows in The

New York Times, September 16th, 1923:

  

Within the Maharajah of Bharatpur’s extensive territory was found a boy of four

years, Prabhu by name, the son of a Brahman called Khairti, who with childish

prattle and laughter told with the greatest detail of his supposed former

existence. He gave his former name, the year of his other birth, his personal

appearance on his earlier visit to this earth, and recounted events, such as

famines, which had happened more than fifty years before his last birth. He told

of his former wife, his daughters and his sons, giving their names and the money

he received on their marriages, and described his former home and neighbours.

  

The child, the savants vouch, had not been tutored and had no means outside of

himself to learn of these details, or to know anything of the transmigration of

souls. The neighbourhoods he described were visited by the savants, with the

child, and in nearly every detail his statements were found to be correct, even

to the names of his supposed former children and wife. He had some difficulty in

locating his supposed former home, but this, it was claimed, may be accounted

for by the fact that it is now a mass of ruins and much different from what it

had been.

  

A somewhat similar account, but coming this time from Japan, appears in Lafcadio

Hearn’s Gleanings in Buddha Fields, Chapter X, and is entitled “The Rebirth of

Katsugoro”. Mr. Hearn cites it as a good illustration of the common ideas of the

people of Japan concerning pre-existence and rebirth. He takes it from a series

of documents, very much signed and sealed by various officials, Priests and

Daimyos. The full story is translated as follows.

  

Some time in the eleventh month of the past year, when Katsugoro was playing in

the rice-field with his elder sister, Fusa, he asked her, —

  

“Elder Sister, where did you come from before you were born into our household?”

  

Fusa answered him: —

  

“How can I know what happened to me before I was born?”

  

Katsugoro looked surprised and exclaimed:

  

“Then you cannot remember anything that happened before you were born?”

  

“Do you remember?” asked Fusa.

  

“Indeed I do,” replied Katsugoro. “I used to be the son of Kyubei San of

Hodokubo, and my name was then Tozo — do you not know all that?”

  

“Ah!” said Fusa, “I shall tell father and mother about it.”

  

But Katsugoro at once began to cry, and said:

  

“Please do not tell! — it would not be good to tell father and mother.”

  

Fusa made answer, after a little while :—

  

“Well, this time I shall not tell. But the next time that you do anything

naughty, then I will tell.”

  

After that day whenever a dispute arose between the two, the sister would

threaten the brother, saying: “Very well, then — I shall tell that thing to

father and mother.” At these words the boy would always yield to his sister.

This happened many times; and the parents one day over­heard Fusa making her

threat. Thinking Katsugoro must have been doing something wrong, they desired to

know what the matter was, and Fusa, being questioned, told them the truth. Then

Genzo and his wife, and Tsuya, the grandmother of Katsugoro, thought it a very

strange thing. They called Katsugoro, therefore; and tried, first by coaxing,

and then by threatening, to make him tell what he had meant by those words.

  

After hesitation, Katsugoro said: — “I will tell you everything. I used to be

the son of Kyubei San of Hodokubo, and the name of my mother then was O-Shidzu

San. When I was five years old, Kyubei San died; and there came in his place a

man called Hanshiro San, who loved me very much. But in the following year, when

I was six years old, I died of smallpox. In the third year after that I entered

mother’s honorable womb, and was born again.”

  

The parents and the grandmother of the boy wondered greatly at hearing this, and

they decided to make all possible inquiry as to the man called Hanshiro of

Hodokubo. But as they all had to work very hard every day to earn a living, and

so could spare but little time for any other matter, they could not at once

carry out their intention.

  

Now, Sei, the mother of Katsugoro, had nightly to suckle her little daughter

Tsune, who was four years old; — and Katsugoro therefore slept with his

grandmother, Tsuya. Sometimes he used to talk to her in bed; and one night when

he was in a very confiding mood, she persuaded him to tell her what happened at

the time when he had died. Then he said: — “Until I was four years old I used to

remember everything; but since then I have become more and more forgetful; and

now I forget many, many things. But I still remember that I died of smallpox; I

remember that I was put into a jar; I remember that I was buried on a hill.

There was a hole made in the ground; and the people let the jar drop into that

hole. It fell pon! I remember that sound well. Then somehow I returned to the

house, and I stopped on my own pillow there. In a short time some old man —

looking like a grandfather — came and took me away. I do not know who or what he

was. As I walked I went through empty air as if flying. I remember it was

neither night nor day as we went; it was always like sunset-time. I did not feel

either warm or cold or hungry. We went very far, I think; but still I could hear

always, faintly, the voices of people talking at home; and the sound of the

Nembutsu being said for me. I remember also that when the people at home set

offerings of hot rice-cake before the household shrine, I inhaled the vapour of

the offerings. Grandmother, never forgot to offer warm food to the honorable

dead (Hotoke Same), and do not forget to give to priests — I am sure it is very

good to do these things ... After that, I only remember that the old man led me

by some roundabout way to this place — I remember we passed the road beyond the

village. Then we came here, and he pointed to this house, and said to me:  ‘Now

you must be reborn, for it is three years since you died. You are to be reborn

in that house. The person who will become your grandmother is very kind; so it

will be well for you to be conceived and born there.’ After saying this, the old

man went away. I remained a little time under the kaki-tree before the entrance

of this house. Then I was going to enter when I heard talking inside: some one

said that because father was now earning so little, mother would have to go to

service in Yedo. I thought, “I will not go into that house”; and I stopped three

days in the garden. On the third day it was decided that, after all, mother

would not have to go to Yedo. The same night I passed into the house through a

knot-hole in the sliding-shutters; — and after that I stayed for three days

beside the kitchen range. Then I entered mother’s honorable womb ... I remember

that I was born with­out any pain at all. —Grandmother, you may tell this to

father and mother, but please never tell it to anybody else.”

  

The grandmother told Genzo and his wife what Katsugoro had related to her; and

after that the boy was not afraid to speak freely with his parents on the

subject of his former existence, and would often say to them: “I want to go to

Hodokubo. Please let me make a visit to the tomb of Kyubei San.” Genzo ... asked

his mother Tsuya, on the twentieth day of the first month of this year, to take

her grandson there.

  

Tsuya went with Katsugoro to Hodokubo; and when they entered the village she

pointed to the nearer dwellings, and asked the boy, “Which house is it? — is it

this house or that one?” “No,” answered Katsugoro, — “it is further on — much

further,” — and he hurried before her. Reaching a certain dwelling at last, he

cried, “This is the house!” — and ran in, without waiting for his grandmother.

Tsuya followed him in, and asked the people there what was the name of the owner

of the house. “Hanshiro,” one of them answered. She asked the name of Hanshiro’s

wife. “Shidzu,” was the reply. Then she asked whether there had ever been a son

called Tozo born in that house. “Yes,” was the answer; “but that boy died

thirteen years ago, when he was six years old.”

  

Then for the first time Tsuya was convinced that Katsugoro had spoken the truth;

and she could not help shedding tears. She related to the people of the house

all that Katsugoro had told her about his remembrance of his former birth. Then

Hanshiro and his wife wondered greatly. They caressed Katsugoro and wept; and

they remarked that he was much handsomer now than he had been as Tozo before

dying at the age of six. In the meantime, Katsugoro was looking all about; and

seeing the roof of a tobacco shop opposite to the house of Hanshiro, he pointed

to it, and said: “That used not to be there.” And he also said, — “The tree

yonder used not to be there.” All this was true. So from the minds of Hanshiro

and his wife every doubt departed.

 

  

reincarnations in burma

  

Some interesting cases are mentioned by Mr. H. Fielding-Hall in his charming

book on Burma, The Soul of a People. He writes:

  

A friend of mine once put up for the night at a monastery far away in the

forest, near a small village. Talking in the evening round the fire, he remarked

that the monastery was very large and fine for so small a village; it was built

of the best and straightest teak, which must have been brought from very far

away; it must have taken a long time and a great deal of labour to build.

  

In explanation he heard a curious story. It appeared that in the old days there

used to be only a bamboo and grass monastery there, such as most jungle villages

have; and the then monk was distressed at the smallness of his abode and the

little accommodation there was for his school (for a monastery is always a

school). So one rainy season he planted with great care a number of teak

seedlings round about, and he watered and cared for them.

  

“When they are grown up,” he would say, “these teak-trees shall provide timber

for a new and proper building; and I myself will return in another life, and

with those trees I will build a monastery more worthy than this.”

  

Teak-trees take a hundred years to reach a mature size, and while the trees were

still but saplings the monk died and another monk taught in his stead. And so it

went on, and the years rolled by, and from time to time new monasteries of

bamboo were built-and rebuilt, and the teak-trees grew bigger and bigger. But

the village grew smaller, for the times were troubled, and the village was far

away in the forest. So it happened that at last the village found itself without

a monk at all; the last monk was dead, and no one came to take his place.

  

It is a serious thing for a village to have no monk. To begin with, there is no

one to teach the lads to read and write and do arithmetic; and there is no one

to whom you can give offerings and thereby acquire merit, and there is no one to

preach to you and tell you of the sacred teaching. So the village was in a bad

way.

  

Then at last one evening, when the girls were all out at the well drawing water,

they were surprised by the arrival of a monk from the forest, weary with a long

journey, footsore and hungry. The villagers received him with enthusiasm, and

furnished up the old monastery in a hurry for him to sleep. But the curious

thing was that the monk seemed to know it all. He knew the monastery and the

path to it, and the ways about the village, and the names of the hills and the

streams. It seemed as though he must have lived there in the village, and yet no

one knew him or recognized his face, though he was but a young man still, and

there were villagers who had lived there for seventy years. Next morning the

monk came into the village with his begging-bowl, as monks do, and collected his

food for the day: and that evening, when the villagers went to see him, he told

them he was going to stay. He recalled to them the monk who had planted the

teak-trees, and how he had said that when the trees were grown he would return.

  

“I,” said the young monk, “am he who planted these trees. Lo, they are grown up

and I have returned, and now we will build a monastery as I said.”

  

When the villagers, doubting, questioned him, and old men came and talked to him

of traditions of long-past days, he answered as one who knew all. He told them

he had been born and educated far away in the South, and had grown up not

knowing who he had been; then he had entered a monastery, and in due time became

a Pongyi. The remembrance came to him, he went on, in a dream of how he had

planted the trees and had promised to return to that village far away in the

forest.

  

The very next day he had started, and travelled day after day and week upon

week, till at length he had arrived, as they saw. So the villagers were

convinced, and they set to work and cut down the great boles, and built the

monastery which my friend saw. And the monk lived there all his life, and taught

the children, and preached the marvellous teaching of the great Buddha, till at

length his time came again and he returned; for of monks it is not said that

they die, but that they return.....

  

About fifty years ago in a village called Okshitgon were born two children, a

boy and a girl. They were born on the same day in neighbouring houses, and they

grew up together and played together, and loved each other. In due course they

married and started a family, and maintain­ed themselves by cultivating the

fields about the village. They were always known as devoted to each other, and

they died as they had lived — together. The same death took them on the same

day; so they were buried without the village and were forgotten, for the times

were serious ... Okshitgon was in the midst of one of the most distressed

districts, and many of its people fled; and one of them, a man named Maung Kan,

went with his young wife to the village of Kabyu and lived there.

  

Now, Maung Kan’s wife had borne to him twin sons. They were born at Okshitgon

shortly before their parents had to run away, and they were named, the first

Maung Gyi (which means Brother Big-fellow) and the second Maung Ngé (which means

Brother Little-fellow). These lads grew up at Kabyu, and soon learnt to talk;

and their parents were surprised to hear them calling to each other at play, not

as Maung Gyi and Maung Ngé, but as Maung San Nyein and Ma Gywin. The latter is a

woman’s name, and the parents remembered that these were the names of the man

and wife who had died at Okshitgon about the time the children were born.

  

So the parents thought that the souls of the man and wife had entered into the

children, and they took them to Okshitgon to try them. The children knew

everything in Okshitgon; they knew the roads, the houses and the people, and

they recognized the clothes they used to wear in the former life: there was no

doubt about it. One of them, the younger, remembered how she had borrowed two

rupees once from a woman, Ma Thet, unknown to her husband, and left the debt

unpaid. Ma Thet was still living, so they asked her, and she recollected that it

was true she had lent the money long ago....

  

Shortly afterwards I saw these two children. They were then just over six years

old. The elder, into whom the soul of the man entered, is a fat, chubby little

fellow, but the younger twin is smaller, and has a curious dreamy look in his

face, more like a girl than a boy. They told me much about their former lives.

After they died they said they lived for some time without a body at all,

wandering in the air and hiding in the trees. Then, after some months they were

born again as twin boys. “It used to be so clear,” said the elder boy, “I could

remember everything; but it is getting duller and duller, and I cannot now

remember as I used to do.”

  

Another little boy told me once that the way remembrance came to him was by

seeing the silk he used to wear made into curtains, which are given to the monks

and used as partitions in their monasteries, and as walls to temporary erections

made at festival times. He was taken when some three years old to a feast at the

making of the son of a wealthy merchant into a monk. There he recognized in the

curtain walling in part of the bamboo building his old dress, and pointed it out

at once.*

  

__________

·       Op. cit., p. 291 et seq.

 

  

Most of the examples of reincarnation given above are taken from Oriental

countries — not because the great law of rebirth is operative only in those

lands, but because for various reasons it is easier to trace its action there.

The law is universal, but the interval between lives differs widely. For some it

is a matter of many centuries; for others it may be only a few months, or even

days. With the Burmese, as we have just seen from Mr. Fielding Hall’s account,

very short intervals seem to be the rule, and the Burman evidently has also the

peculiarity that he usually takes birth over and over again in the same race

before transferring himself to another. These two habits of his are specially

convenient for the student of reincarnation who, by researches among that race,

can readily convince himself of the truth of the general principle before

extending his inquiries into other fields where the investigation is more

difficult.

  

There is plenty of testimony available of quite another kind, for there are a

certain number of people who have a clear memory of at least some of their own

former births; and it is sometimes possible for those who have lived

simultaneously in the past to compare notes, and so obtain some sort of

verification of their recollections. I remember once, years ago, when I had

given a lecture upon reincarnation to an Indian audience, and asked at the

conclusion of it for questions on any point which I had not made quite clear, a

highly-cultured Indian gentleman rose, and with the utmost courtesy said:

  

“Sir, this theory of reincarnation is familiar to us from childhood; we all of

us begin by accepting it, and it is only when we grow up and absorb your