E-text prepared by Ruth Hart
A Study of Natural and Induced Clairvoyance
Author of "A Manual of Astrology," "Prognostic Astronomy," "A Manual of Occultism," "Kabalistic Astrology," "The Kabala of Numbers," Etc., Etc.
London William Rider & Son, Limited 1912
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, Brunswick Street, Stamford Street, S.E., and Bungay, Suffolk.
Introduction 7 Chapter I. The Scientific Position 10 Chapter II. Materials and Conditions 21 Chapter III. The Faculty of Seership 29 Chapter IV. Preliminaries and Practice 39 Chapter V. Kinds of Vision 51 Chapter VI. Obstacles to Clairvoyance 59 Chapter VII. Symbolism 67 Chapter VIII. Allied Psychic Phases 76 Chapter IX. Experience and Use 84 Conclusion 93
Few words will be necessary by way of preface to this book, which is designed as an introduction to a little understood and much misrepresented subject.
I have not here written anything which is intended to displace the observations of other authors on this subject, nor will it be found that anything has been said subversive of the conclusions arrived at by experimentalists who have essayed the study of clairvoyant phenomena in a manner that is altogether commendable, and who have sought to place the subject on a demonstrable and scientific basis. I refer to the proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.
In the following pages I have endeavoured to indicate the nature of the faculty of Second Sight or Clairvoyance, the means of its development, the use of suitable media or agents for this purpose, and the kind of results that may be expected to follow a regulated effort in this direction. I have also sought to show that the development of the psychic faculties may form an orderly step in the process of human unfoldment and perfectibility.
As far as the nature and scope of this little work will allow, I have sought to treat the subject on a broad and general basis rather than pursue more particular and possibly more attractive scientific lines. What I have here said is the result of a personal experience of some years in this and other forms of psychic development and experimentation. My conclusions are given for what they are worth, and I have no wish to persuade my readers to my view of the nature and source of these abnormal phenomena. The reader is at liberty to form his own theory in regard to them, but such theory should be inclusive of all the known facts. The theories depending on hypnotic suggestion may be dismissed as inadequate. There appear to remain only the inspirational theory of direct revelation and the theory of the world-soul enunciated by the Occultists. I have elected in favour of the latter for reasons which, I think, will be conspicuous to those who read these pages.
I should be the last to allow the study of psychism to usurp the legitimate place in life of intellectual and spiritual pursuits, and I look with abhorrence upon the flippant use made of the psychic faculties by a certain class of pseudo-occultists who serve up this kind of thing with their five o'clock tea. But I regard an ordered psychism as a most valuable accessory to intellectual and spiritual development and as filling a natural place in the process of unfoldment between that intellectualism that is grounded in the senses and that higher intelligence which receives its light from within. From this view-point the following pages are written, and will, I trust, prove helpful.
THE SCIENTIFIC POSITION
It would perhaps be premature to make any definite pronouncement as to the scientific position in regard to the psychic phenomenon known as "scrying," and certainly presumptuous on my part to cite an authority from among the many who have examined this subject, since all are not agreed upon the nature and source of the observed phenomena. Their names are, moreover, already identified with modern scientific research and theory, so that to associate them with experimental psychology would be to lend colour to the idea that modern science has recognized this branch of knowledge. Nothing, perhaps, is further from the fact, and while it cannot in any way be regarded as derogatory to the highest scientist to be associated with others, of less scientific attainment but of equal integrity, in this comparatively new field of enquiry, it may lead to popular error to institute a connection. It is still fresh in the mind how the Darwinian hypothesis was utterly misconceived by the popular mind, the suggestion that man was descended from the apes being generally quoted as a correct expression of Darwin's theory, whereas he never suggested any such thing, but that man and the apes had a common ancestor, which makes of the ape rather a degenerate lemur than a human ancestor. Other and more prevalent errors will occur to the reader, these being due to the use of what is called "the evidence of the senses"; and of all criteria the evidence of sensation is perhaps the most faulty. Logical inference from deductive or inductive reasoning has often enough been a good monitor to sense-perception, and has, moreover, pioneered the man of science to correct knowledge on more than one occasion. But as far as we know or can learn from the history of human knowledge, our senses have been the chiefest source of error. It is with considerable caution that the scientist employs the evidence from sense alone, and in the study of experimental psychology it is the sense which has first to be corrected, and which, in fact, forms the great factor in the equation. A person informs me that he can see a vision in the crystal ball before him, and although I am in the same relation with the "field" as he, I cannot see anything except accountable reflections. This fact does not give any room for contradicting him or any right to infer that it is all imagination. It is futile to say the vision does not exist. If he sees it, it does exist so far as he is concerned. There is no more a universal community of sensation than of thought. When I am at work my own thought is more real than any impression received through the sense organs. It is louder than the babel of voices or the strains of instrumental music, and more conspicuous than any object upon which the eye may fall. These external impressions are admitted or shut out at will. I then know that my thought is as real as my senses, that the images of thought are as perceptible as those exterior to it and in every way as objective and real. The thought-form has this advantage, however, that it can be given a durable or a temporary existence, and can be taken about with me without being liable to impost as "excess luggage." In the matter of evidence in psychological questions, therefore, sense perceptions are only second-rate criteria and ought to be received with caution.
Almost all persons dream, and while dreaming they see and hear, touch and taste, without questioning for a moment the reality of these experiences. The dreaming person loses sight of the fact that he is in a bedroom of a particular house, that he has certain relations with others sleeping in the same house. He loses sight of the fact that his name is, let us say, Henry, and that he is famous for the manufacture of a particular brand of soap or cheese. For him, and as long as it lasts, the dream is the one reality. Now the question of the philosopher has always been: which is the true dream, the sleeping dream or the waking dream? The fact that the one is continuous of itself while the other is not, and that we always fall into a new dream but always wake to the same reality, has given a permanent value to the waking or external life, and an equally fictitious one to the interior or dreaming life. But what if the dream life became more or less permanent to the exclusion of all other memories and sensations? We should then get a case of insanity in which hallucination would be symptomic. (The dream state is more or less permanent with certain poetical temperaments, and if there is any insanity attaching to it at all, it consists in the inability to react.) Imagination, deep thought and grief are as much anaesthetic as chloroform. But the closing of the external channels of sensation is usually the signal for the opening of the psychic, and from all the evidence it would seem that the psychic sense is more extensive, acuter and in every way more dependable than the physical. I never yet have met the man or woman whose impaired eyesight required that he or she should use glasses in order to see while asleep. That they do see is common experience, and that they see farther, and therefore better, with the psychic sense than with the physical has been often proved. Emanuel Swedenborg saw a fire in Stockholm when he was resident in England and gave evidence of it before the vision was confirmed by news from Sweden. A lady of my acquaintance saw and described a fire taking place at a country seat about 150 miles away, the incident being true to the minutest details, many of which were exceptional and in a single instance tragic. The psychic sense is younger than the physical, as the soul is younger than the body, and its faculty continues unimpaired long after old age and disease have made havoc of the earthly vestment. The soul is younger at a thousand years than the body is at sixty. Let it be admitted upon evidence that there are two sorts of sense perception, the physical and the psychical, and that in some persons the latter is as much in evidence as the former. We have to enquire then what relations the crystal or other medium has to the development and exercise of the clairvoyant faculty. We know comparatively little about atomic structure in relation to nervous organism. The atomicity of certain chemical bodies does not inform us as to why one should be a deadly poison and another perfectly innocuous. We regard different bodies as congeries of atoms, but it is a singular fact that of two bodies containing exactly the same elements in the same proportions the one is poisonous and the other harmless. The only difference between them is the atomic arrangement.
The atomic theory refers all bodies to one homogeneous basic substance, which has been termed protyle (proto-hyle), from which, by means of a process loosely defined as differentiation, all the elements are derived. These elements are the result of atomic arrangement. The atoms have various vibrations, the extent of which is called the mean free path of vibration; greatest in hydrogen and least in the densest element. All matter is indestructible, but at the same time convertible, and these facts, together with the absolute association of matter and force, lead to the conclusion that every change of matter implies a change of force. Matter, therefore, is ever living and active, and there is no such thing as dead matter anywhere. The hylo-idealists have therefore regarded all matter as but the ultimate expression of spirit, and primarily of a spiritual origin.
The somewhat irksome phraseology of Baron Swedenborg has dulled many minds to a sense of his great acumen and philosophical depth, but it maybe convenient to summarize his scientific doctrine of "Correspondences" in this place as it has an important bearing on the subject in hand. He laid down the principle of the spiritual origin of force and matter. Matter, he argued, was the ultimate expression of spirit, as form was that of force. Spirit is to force what matter is to form—its substratum. Hence for every spiritual force there is a corresponding material form, and thus the material or natural world corresponds at all points to the world of spirit, without being identical. The apparent hiatus between one plane of existence and the next he called a discrete degree, while the community between different bodies on the same plane he called a continuous degree. Thus there is community of sensation between bodies of the same nature, community of feeling, community of thought, and community of desire or aspiration, each on its own plane of existence. But desire is translated into thought, thought into feeling, and feeling into action. The spirit, soul (rational and animal in its higher and lower aspects), and the body appear to have been the principles of the human constitution according to this authority. All spirits enjoy community, as all souls and all bodies on their respective planes of existence; but between spirit and soul, as between soul and body, there is a discrete degree. In fine, mind is continuous of mind all through the universe, as matter is continuous of matter; while mind and matter are separated and need to be translated into terms of one another.
Taking our position from the scientific statement of the atomic structure of bodies, atomic vibration and molecular arrangement, we may now consider the action exerted by such bodies upon the nervous organism of man.
The function of the brain, which may be regarded as the bulbous root of a plant whose branches grow downwards, is twofold: to affect, and to be affected. In its active and positive condition it affects the whole of the vital and muscular processes in the body, finding expression in vital action. In its passive and negative state it is affected by impressions coming to it in different ways through the sense organs, resulting in nervous and mental action. These two functions are interdependent. It is the latter or afferent function with which we are now concerned. The range of our sense-perceptions puts us momentarily in relations with the material world, or rather, with a certain portion of it. For we by no means sense all that is sensible, and, as I have already indicated, our sense impressions are often delusive. The gamut of our senses is very limited, and also very imperfect both as to extent and quality. Science is continually bringing new instruments into our service, some to aid the senses, others to correct them. The microscope, the microphone, the refracting lens are instances. It used to be said with great certainty that you cannot see through a brick wall, but by means of X-rays and a fluorescent screen it is now possible to do so. I have seen my own heart beating as its image was thrown on the screen by the Rontgen rays. Many insects, birds and animals have keener perceptions in some respects than man. Animalculae and microbic life, themselves microscopic, have their own order of sense-organs related to a world of life beyond our ken. These observations serve to emphasise the great limitation of our senses, and also to enforce the fact that Nature does not cease to exist where we cease to perceive her. The recognition of this fact has been so thoroughly appreciated by thoughtful people as to have opened up the question as to what these human limitations may mean and to what degree they may extend.
We know what they mean well enough: the history of human development is the sequel to natural evolution, and this development could never have had place apart from the hunger of the mind and the consequent breaking down of sense limitations by human invention. As to the extent of our limitations it has been suggested that just as there are states of matter so fine as to be beyond the range of vision, so there may be others so coarse as to be below the sense of touch. We cannot, however, assert anything with certainty, seeing that proof must always require that a thing must be brought within our range of perception before we can admit it as fact. The future has many more wonderful revelations in store for us, no doubt. But there is really nothing more wonderful than human faculty which discovers these things in Nature, things that have always been in existence but until now have been outside our range of perception. The ultra-solid world may exist.
The relations of our sense-organs to the various degrees of matter, to solids, fluids, gases, atmosphere and ether, vary in different individuals to such a wide extent as to create the greatest diversity of normal faculty. The average wool-sorter will outvie an artist in his perception of colour shades. An odour that is distinctly recognizable by one person will not be perceptible to others. In the matter of sound also the same differences of perception will be noted. On a very still night one can hear the sugar canes growing. Most people find the cry of a bat to be beyond their range. The eye cannot discern intervals of less than one-fiftieth of a second. Atmospheric vibration does not become sound until a considerable frequency is attained. Every movement we make displaces air but our sense of touch does not inform us of it, but if we stand in a sunbeam the dust particles will show that it is so. Our sense of feeling will not register above certain degrees of heat or below certain degrees of cold. Sensation, moreover, is not indefinitely sustained, as anyone may learn who will follow the ticking of a watch for five minutes continuously.
But quite apart from the sense and range of our perceptions, the equality of a sense-impression is found to vary with different persons, affecting them each in a different way. We find that people have "tastes" in regard to form, colour, flavour, scent, sound, fabric and texture. The experience is too general to need illustration, but we may gather thence that, in relation to the nervous system of man, every material body and state of matter has a variable effect. These remarks will clear the ground for a statement of my views upon the probable effect a crystal may have upon a sensitive person.
MATERIALS AND CONDITIONS
The crystal is a clear pellucid piece of quartz or beryl, sometimes oval in shape but more generally spherical. It is accredited by Reichenbach and other researchers with highly magnetic qualities, capable of producing in a suitable subject a state analogous to the ordinary "waking trance" of the hypnotists. It is believed that all bodies convey, or are the vehicles of certain universal property called od or odyle (od-hyle), which is not regarded as a force but as an inert and passive substance underlying the more active forces familiar to us in kinetic, calorific and electrical phenomena. In this respect it holds a position analogous to the argon of the atmosphere, and is capable of taking up the vibrations of those bodies to which it is related and which it invests. It would perhaps not be amiss to regard it as static ether. Of itself it has no active properties, but in its still, well-like depths, it holds the potentiality of all magnetic forces.
This odyle is particularly potent in certain bodies and one of these is the beryl or quartz. It produces and retains more readily in the beryl than in most other bodies the images communicated to it by the subconscious activity of the seer. It is in the nature of a sensitized film which is capable of recording thought forms and mental images as the photographic film records objective things. The occultist will probably recognize in it many of the properties of the "astral light," which is often spoken of in this connection. Readers of my Manual of Occultism will already be informed concerning the nature of subconscious activity. The mind or soul of man has two aspects: the attentive or waking consciousness, directed to the things of the external world; and the subconscious, which is concerned with the things of the interior world. Each of these spheres of the mind has its voluntary and automatic phases, a fact which is usually lost sight of, inasmuch as the automatism of the mind is frequently confounded with the subconscious. All purposive action tends to become automatic, whether it be physical or mental, sensory or psychic.
The soul in this connection is to be regarded as the repository of all that complex of emotions, thoughts, aspirations, impressions, perceptions, feelings, etc., which constitute the inner life of man. The soul is none the less a fact because there are those who bandy words about its origin and nature.
Reichenbach has shown by a series of experiments upon sensitive and hypnotized subjects, that metals and other materials produce very marked effects in contact with the human body. The experiments further showed that the same substance affected different patients in diverse manners.
The hypnotic experiments of the late Dr. Charcot, the well-known French biologist, also demonstrate the rapport existing between the sensitive subject and foreign bodies in proximity. A bottle containing a poison is taken at random from a number of others of similar appearance and is applied to the back of the patient's neck. The hypnotic subject at once begins to develop all the symptoms of arsenical, strychnine or prussic acid poisoning; it being afterwards found that the bottle contains the toxine whose effects have been portrayed by the subject. But not all hypnotic subjects are capable of the same degree of sensibility.
Community of sensation is as common a phenomenon as community of thought between a hypnotizer and his subject, and what are called sympathetic pains are included in common experience. Sensitive persons will simulate all the symptoms of a virulent disease, e.g. mock measles. The phenomena of psychometry reveal the fact of bodies being able to retain records and of the human possibility of reviving these records as sensations and thought images, although there is no direct community of sensation between an inanimate object and the nervous organism of a sensitive. It need not, therefore, be a matter of surprise that the crystal can exert a very definite and sensible effect upon the nervous organism of a certain order of subjects. It does not affect all alike nor act in a uniform and constant manner on those whom it does so affect. The modifications of sensibility taking place in the subject or sensitive render the action of the agent a variable quantity. Where its action is more or less rapid and remarkable, however, the quartz or beryl crystal may be regarded as the most effective agent for producing clairvoyance.
In other cases the concave mirror, either of polished copper or black japan, will be found serviceable. In certain cases where the faculty is already developed but lying in latency, any shining surface will suffice to bring it into activity. Ecstatic vision was first induced in Jacob Boehme by the sun's rays falling upon a bowl of water which caught and dazzled his eyes while he was engaged in the humble task of cobbling a pair of shoes. In consequence of this exaltation of the visual sense we have those remarkable works, The Aurora, The Four Complexions, Signatura Rerum, and many others, with letters and commentaries which, in addition to being of a spiritual nature, are also to be regarded as scholarly when referred to their source. In Boehme's case, as in that of Swedenborg, whose faculty did not appear until he was fifty-four years of age, it would appear that the faculty was constitutional and already developed, waiting only the conditions which should bring it into active operation.
The agent most suitable for developing clairvoyance cannot therefore be definitely prescribed. It must remain a matter of experiment with the subject himself. That there are some persons in whom the psychic faculties are more prone to activity than in others is certain, and it would appear also that these faculties are native in some by spiritual or hereditary succession, which fact is evident from their genitures as interpreted by astrology. Many planets in flexed signs and a satellitium in the nadir or lower angle of the horoscope is a certain indication of extreme nervous sensibility and predisposition to telaesthenic impressions, though this observation does not cover all the instances before me. It is true, however, where it applies. The dominant influence of the planet Neptune in a horoscope is also to be regarded as a special indication of some form of psychic activity, as I have frequently observed.
In cases where the subject is not prepared by evolutional process for the exercise of the psychic faculties, it will be found that the same or similar indications will tend to the simulation of such faculties, as by mediumism, conjuring, etc., while they may even result in chicanery and fraud.
But among those who are gifted in the direction spoken of, all are not clairvoyant. The most common form of psychic disturbance is involuntary clairaudience, and telaesthesia is not perhaps less general. St. Paul indicates a variety of such psychic "gifts," e.g. the gifts of prophecy, of healing, of understanding, etc.; but these may also be regarded in quite a mundane sense. The development among the early Christians of spiritual gifts, visions, hearing, speaking in foreign tongues, psychic healing, etc., appears to have given rise to a variety of exceptional experiences by which they were induced to say "we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." "One star differs from another in glory," says St. Paul, and this diversity of spiritual gifts proceeds from the celestial world, and is so ordered that each may fulfil the part required of him in the economy of life.
Psychic tradition is as important a fact as is physical heredity. The latter is a factor of immense importance as affecting the constitution and quality of the organism in and through which the soul is required to function. But psychic tradition is that which determines the power and faculty brought to bear upon the physical organism. Past evolution is not a negligible quantity, and its effects are never wasted or lost to the individual. We are what we are by reason of what we have already been, as well individually as racially. "The future is, the past unfolded" or "entered upon by a new door," as it has been well said. We do not suddenly acquire faculties, we evolve them by effort and successive selection. In our upward striving for liberty we specialize along certain lines which appear to us to be those offering either the least resistance or the most ready means of self-preservation, liberty and well-being. Hence some evolve a special faculty for money-making and, as schoolboys, will be expert traders of alley-taws, jack-knives, toffee and all sorts of kickshaws. Others of another bent or list will traffic in knowledge to the abounding satisfaction of their masters and the jealous pride of their form.
So that psychic tradition while disposing some to the speedy revelation of an already acquired faculty, disposes others to the more arduous but not less interesting work of acquiring such faculty. And because the spiritual needs of mankind are ever of primary importance, there are always to be found those in whom the power of spiritual interpretation is the dominant faculty, such persons being the natural channels of intercourse between the superior and inferior worlds. The physical body of man is equipped with a corresponding order of microbic life which acts as an organic interpreter, translating the elements of food into blood, nerve, fibre, tissue and bone agreeably to the laws of their being. What I have to say in this place is addressed especially to those who would aspire to the faculty of clear vision and in whom the psychic powers are striving towards expression. Every person whose life is not wholly sunk in material and selfish pleasures but in whom the aspiration to a higher and better life is a hunger the world cannot satisfy, has within himself the power to see and know that which he seeks behind the veil of the senses. Nature has never produced a desire she cannot satisfy. There is no hope, however vague, that the soul cannot define, and no aspiration, however high, that the wings of the spirit cannot reach. Therefore be patient and strive. To others I would say: Be content. All birds cannot be eagles. The nightingale has a song and the humming bird a plumage the eagle can never possess. The nightingale may sing to the stars, the humming bird to the flowers, but the eagle, whose tireless eyes gaze into the heart of day, is uncompanioned in its lofty loneliness amid the mountain tops.
THE FACULTY OF SEERSHIP
Until quite recently the faculty of seership has been associated in occult literature with various magical formulae. There are in existence works by Tristemius, Francis Barrett, Ebenezer Sibley and others in which the use of the crystal is made by means of magical invocations and a variety of ceremonial observances. It is not within the scope of this treatise to determine the value of such rites or the desirability of invoking extraneous intelligences and powers by the use of magical practices; but I think we may conclude that communion of this order is not unattended by grave dangers. When the Israelites were ill-content with the farinaceous manna they invoked Heaven to send them meat. They got what they wanted, but also the dire penalty which it incurred; and it is quite likely that in invoking occult forces beyond one's power to control great evils may ensue. All action and reaction are equal and opposite. A child can pull a trigger but cannot withstand the recoil of a gun, or by moving a lever may set machinery in motion which it can by no means control. Therefore without strength and knowledge of the right sort it is foolish to meddle with occult forces; and in the education of the development of the psychic and spiritual faculties native in us, it is better to encourage their natural development by legitimate exercise than to invoke the action of a stimulus which cannot afterwards be controlled. Water will wear away a rock by continual fretting, though nobody doubts that water is softer than a rock, and if the barrier between this and the soul-world be like granite, yet the patient and persistent action of the determined mind will sooner or later wear it away, the last thin layer will break and the light of another world will stream through, dazzling our unaccustomed eyes with its bright effulgence.
It is my object here to indicate by what means and by what persons the natural development of the clairvoyant faculty may be achieved. In regard then to the subject, medium or seer, there are two distinct temperaments in which the faculty is likely to be dominant and capable of high and rapid development. The first is the nervous temperament, characterized by extreme activity of body and mind, nervous excitability, dark complexion, prominent features, and wiry frame. Types of this temperament are to be seen in the descriptions of Dante, Swedenborg, Melancthon, Edgar A. Poe and others. This type represents the positive seers.
The other temperament is of the passive type and is characterized by a full lymphatic habit, pale or delicate complexion, blue eyes, straight fine hair, small hands, tapering fingers, cold and fleshy to the touch; usually a thin or high voice and languid manner.
These two types of seers—of which there are many varieties— achieve their development by quite opposite means. The positive seer projects the mental images by a psychic process impossible of description, but by a certain psychic metabolism by which the apperceptions of the soul are transformed into mental images of a purely symbolical nature. The psychic process of picture-production is involuntary and unconscious, but the perception of the mental pictures is a perfectly conscious process and involves the exercise of an introspective faculty. The passive seer, on the contrary, is effortless, and receives impressions by reflection, the visions coming imperceptibly and having a literal interpretation. The vision is not in this case of an allegorical or symbolic nature, as is the case with the positive seer, but is an actual vision of a fact or event which has already happened or as it will transpire in the future. Thus the positive vision consists in the projection of the mind towards the things of the soul-world, while the passive vision in the result of a propulsion of the soul-world upon the passive sense. Of the two kinds of vision, the passive is the more serviceable as being the more perspicuous and literal, but it has the disadvantage of being largely under the control of external influences and consequently of greater variability than the positive vision. It is, indeed, quite the common experience that the passive medium requires "conditions" for the proper exercise of the faculty and where these are lacking no vision can be obtained.
The positive type of seer exercises an introspective vision, searching inwardly towards the soul-world whence revelation proceeds. The passive seer, on the other hand, remains in a static condition, open to impressions coming inwards upon the mind's eye, but making no conscious effort towards inward searching. Those who have experienced both involuntary and voluntary visions will readily appreciate the difference of attitude, which is difficult to convey to others in so many words.
Now the exercise of this faculty does not exist apart from some definite use, and it may be of advantage to consider what that use may be. Primarily, I should be disposed to regard the mere opening up of a channel of communication between the material and psychic worlds as adequate reason for the exercise of the faculty. The Gates of Heaven have to be kept open by human endeavour and the exercise of the spiritual and psychic faculties, otherwise a complete lesion and cutting off of our source of inspiration would follow. Except we aspire to the higher world that world will come no nearer to us. Action and reaction are equal and opposite. It was never said that the door would be opened to others than those who knocked. The law of spiritual compensation involves the fact that we receive what we ask for. If we get it otherwise, there is no guarantee of its continuance or that its possession will be a blessing. But if we ask according to our needs and strive according to our strength there is no law which can prevent a commensurate response. The ignorance of our asking and the imperfection of our striving will modify the nature of the response, but they cannot be negative of results. We can trust nature and there is a spiritual law in the natural world as well as a natural law in the spiritual world, for they are interdependent.
But even our daily life affords numerous instances wherein the use of the clairvoyant faculty is attended by beneficial results. How many people there are who have been warned in dreams— wherein all people are naturally clairvoyant—of some impending danger to themselves or those around them, must have struck any casual reader of the daily press; for during recent years much greater interest has been taken in psychological matters and we are continually in hearing of new facts which give us knowledge of the power of the soul to foresee danger, and to know what is determined upon the world for the greater ends of human evolution. Some experiences of this nature will no doubt form a fit subject for a subsequent chapter. The qualifications which should supplement and sustain the natural aptitude of the seer or seeress demand consideration in this place, and the following remarks may not be without value in this respect.
Mental stability, self-possession and confidence in one's own soul-faculties must be the firm rock on which all revelation should rest. The element of doubt either negatives results or opens the door to the ingress of all manner of deceptive impressions.
Integrity of purpose is imperative. The purer the intention and motive of the seer the more lucid will be the vision accorded. No reliable vision can be obtained by one whose nature is not inherently truthful.
Any selfish desire dominating the mind, in regard to any thing or person will distort the vision and render it misleading, while a persistent self-seeking spirit will effectually shut the door to all revelation whatsoever.
Therefore above all things it is essential for the investigator of psychic phenomena to have an unflinching love of truth, to be resigned to the will of Heaven, to accept the revelations accorded in a spirit of grateful confidence, and to dispel all doubt and controversy by an appeal to the eyes of one's own immortal soul.
These are qualifications with which the seer or seeress should be invested, and if with these the quest of the vision is unsuccessful after a period of earnest trial, it must be taken as sufficient warrant that the faculty of clairvoyance is not in the category of one's individual powers. Haply the same qualifications brought to bear on some other psychic faculty will result in a rich recompense.
As for those triflers who at odd moments sit for the production of what they call "phenomena," with no other object than the gratification of an inquisitive vanity, I would drive them with whips from the field of psychical research. They are people whose presence in this area of serious enquiry does no good either to the cause of truth or the service of the race, and this loose traffic of sorts in the hope of finding a new sensation would, were it transferred to another sphere of activity, deservedly receive a very ugly name.
The suggestion that the clairvoyant faculty is latent in all of us has no doubt been responsible for much misunderstanding, and not a little disappointment; but I doubt if it is so far removed from the truth as that which makes the possession of the faculty a certain sign of a superior degree of evolution. Although the faculty of clear vision brings us into more intimate conscious relations with a new order of existence, where the past and future, the distant and the near, would seem to be brought into immediate perception, it does not therefore confer upon us a higher degree of spirituality. It may undoubtedly offer us a truer perspective than that we may derive from the ordinary circumstance of our lives, and may suggest good grounds for a more comprehensive ethical system, but it cannot compel one to do the right thing or to lead the virtuous life. Clairvoyance, indeed, is a faculty which has no direct moral relations. It is no more the gift or property of the wise or the good man than extraordinary muscular power is an adjunct of high intelligence. And yet it is a curious fact that in all the sacred writings of the world there is a suggestion that holy men, or "Men of God," have this and other transcendent faculties, such as clairaudience and the power of healing. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures clairaudience seems to constitute the peculiar authority of the teacher or prophet. Thus we have expressions such as: "The Word of the Lord came to me saying," etc., and "I heard a voice which said," etc., which is sometimes but not always associated with direct vision. But because holy men of old were distinguished by this power of direct vision it is not to be supposed that all who have it are equally sanctified. By natural gift or by such means we are here discussing, the faculty may be brought into active function, but we should not lose sight of the fact that the attainment of righteousness implies that "all these things shall be added unto you."
I think it right, therefore, to regard the quest of clairvoyance as a legitimate occupation, providing that it is purposeful and carried out with a right spirit, while not being allowed to interfere with the proper performance of one's ordinary duties in life. For it is possible to become over-zealous and even morbid over these mysteries of human life, and to become so obsessed by the idea of their importance as practically to render oneself unfitted for any ordinary pursuits, thereby producing an isolation that is in the best sense unprofitable. Moreover, there are mental dangers as well as spiritual and social to be feared, and it is unfortunately not uncommon to observe that neuraesthenia, nervous corrosion, and even insanity attends upon the tireless efforts of the enthusiast in this direction.
If we regard clairvoyance as a normal faculty we are more likely to treat it normally than if we give it a paramount and exceptional value and seek to beatify those in whom it appears. I am convinced from experience that it is both normal and educable though not usually active in the large majority of people. I am also of the opinion that it is not peculiar, except in its higher functions, to human beings. I have known animals to possess this faculty; in a higher degree I have seen humans in the exercise of it. Perhaps even the archangels are yet seeking their vision of God.
But to us as normal beings clairvoyance should appear a potentially normal faculty, to be studied and pursued by methods that are efficient while yet harmless; and this is the purport of the present treatise. I will therefore ask the reader to follow me in these pages with a mind divested of all disposition to the supernatural.
PRELIMINARIES AND PRACTICE
The first consideration by those who would develop clairvoyance by artificial aids is the choice of a suitable agent. It has been the practice for many years to substitute the original beryl or "rock crystal" by a glass ball. I admit that many specimens I have seen are very creditable productions, but they are nevertheless quite worthless from the point of view of those who consider material agents to be important factors in the production of clairvoyance. The glass ball may, however, very well serve the preliminary essential of concentration, and, if the faculty of clairvoyance is at all active, will be entirely effective as an agent.
Those who have any experience at all in this matter will allow that the rock crystal exerts an influence of an entirely different nature to that observable in the use of glass. Indeed, so far as experiment serves us, it may be said that glass only produces negative results and never at any time induced clairvoyance. If this state followed upon the use of a glass ball I am sure that the patient must have been naturally clairvoyant, in which case a bowl of water, a spot upon a wall, a piece of polished brass or copper, or a spot of ink would have been equally efficacious in inducing the degree of hypnosis required. That glass spheres are equally efficient as those of crystal is true only in two cases, namely, when clairvoyance is natural, in which case neither need be used; and when no results are observable after due experiment, from which we may conclude either that the agent is unsuitable or that the faculty is entirely submerged in that individual.
In hypnotic clairvoyance the glass ball will be found as useful a "field" as the best rock crystal. Yet it does not follow that because the crystal is highly odylic and glass altogether negative the former will induce clairvoyance. My own first experience with the crystal was entirely disappointing, while very striking results followed immediately upon the use of a black concave mirror.
The mirror is usually circular in shape and about one-quarter-inch curve to a six-inch diameter. This gives a long focus, so that the mirror may be hung upon a wall at about two yards distance from the subject. A greater degree of concavity proportionate to the diameter will produce a focus which allows the mirror to be held in the hand while resting in the lap.
This disposes to a very easy and passive attitude and helps towards results. The base of the mirror may be of tin, wood or other material, and it is usually filled with a composition of a bituminous nature, the glass covering being painted with a preparation of coal-tar on its nether or convex side. The exact focus and consequent size of the mirror employed as most suitable to the individual is a matter of experiment. It is also to be observed that the distance of the mirror, as also the angle of vision, are matters of experiment. Beyond a certain distance it will be found that the mirror has no "draw" on the subject. If brought closer its pull is immediately felt.
It is perhaps too early to theorize upon the modus operandi of the "magic mirror," as it has been called. It appears to induce hypnosis and consequent elevation of nervous activity by refracting and throwing back the rays of magnetic energy which emanate from the subject.
In the foregoing illustration let A-B be the mirror with F for its focus. Let the subject be stationed at S. Then the rays directed towards the surface of the mirror will be represented by RR-RR. These rays impinge upon a diamagnetic surface which is concave. The rays are therefore bent inwards and thrown back upon the person at S in the form of a cone of energy which has the effect of producing auto-hypnosis. There are other forms of agency, such as the zinc disc with the copper centre as used by Braid to induce the hypnotic sleep, but these appear to depend upon tiring the optic nerves and thus, through their action upon the thalami to produce temporary inhibition of the whole basilar tract of the brain.
The mesmerist who throws streams of energy upon the patient would appear to be working on the same principle as that by which the person using the concave mirror induces self-hypnosis. Possibly the latter method may be found to be conducive to the phenomena arising from auto-suggestion, while the conditions induced by the action of the hypnotist may be less liable to the effects of auto-suggestion and more responsive to hypnotic suggestion, i.e. the mental action of the hypnotist.
These, however, are considerations which need not trouble us overmuch, since by whatever agent the subject is made clairvoyant, the results are equally curious and informing. Auto-suggestion, at least, can hardly be regarded in the category of objections, since we cannot auto-suggest that which does not first of all arise as an image in the mind. It is in the spontaneous and automatic production of auto-suggested impressions that the phenomena of clairvoyance very largely consist; only we have to remember that the suggesting self is a more considerable quantity than the personality to which these suggestions are made, and is in touch with a world immeasurably greater and in every sense less limited than that to which the person is externally related. Looked at from whatever point of view we may choose, the phenomena of clairvoyance cannot be adequately explained without recourse to psychology on the one hand and occultism on the other. Psychology is needed in order to explain the nature and faculty of the human soul, and occultism to define for us the nature of that universal mirror in which the whole category of human events, both past and future, are reflected. Having decided upon a course of experiments with a crystal or mirror, the best of the kind should be obtained. A black velvet covering should be made in which to envelop the crystal when not in use. Mirrors are usually made with a suitable lid or covering. Care should be taken not to scratch the surface, and all cleaning should be done with a dry silk handkerchief kept for the purpose. Exposure to the sun's rays not only scores the surface of a crystal or mirror, but also puts the odylic substance into activity, distributing and dissipating the magnetic power stored up therein.
And now a word or two about the disposition and attitude of the subject. The visions do not occur in the crystal itself. They may appear to do so, but this is due, when it occurs, to the projection and visualization of the mental images. The visions are in the mind or soul of the seer and nowhere else. It is a matter of constitutional psychism as to where the sense of clear vision will be located. Personally I find the sense to be located in the frontal coronal region of the brain about 150 to the right of the normal axis of vision, which may be regarded as the meridian of sight. Other instances are before me in which the sense is variously located in the back of the head, the nape of the neck, the pit of the stomach, the summit of the head, above and between the eyes, and in one case near the right shoulder but beyond the periphery of the body. The explanation appears to be that the nervo-vital emanations from the body of the seer act upon the static odyle in the agent, which in turn reacts upon the brain centres by means of the optic nerves. And this appears to be sufficient reason why the crystal or mirror should be kept as free as possible from disturbing elements. Water is extremely odylic and should never come in contact with the agent employed as it effectually carries off all latent or stored imports. I am forced to use a crude terminology in order to convey the idea in my mind, but I recognize that the whole explanation may appear vague and inadequate. It is of course at all times easier to observe effects than to offer a clear explanation of them. Yet some sort of working hypothesis is constructed when we collate our observations, and it is this that I have sought to communicate.
For similar reasons, when in use the crystal or mirror should be shaded and so placed that no direct rays from sun or artificial light may fall upon it. The odyle, as Reichenbach so conclusively proved by his experiments, rapidly responds to surrounding magnetic conditions and to the vibrations of surrounding bodies, and to none more rapidly than the etheric vibrations caused by combustion or light of any kind. There should be no direct rays of light between the agent and the seer.
The room in which the sitting takes place should be moderately warm, shady, and lit by a diffused light, such as may be obtained by a light holland blind or casement cloth, in the daytime. The subject should sit with his back to the source of light, and the illumination will be adequate if ordinary print can be read by it.
It is important that all persons sitting in the same room with the seer should be at least at arm's length from him.
Silence should be uniformly observed by those present, until the vision is attained.
It will then be found convenient to have two persons present to act as Interrogator and Recorder respectively.
The Interrogator should be the only person whose voice is heard, and it should be reduced to a soft but distinct monotone. The Recorder will be occupied in setting down in writing all questions asked by the Interrogator and the exact answers made by the seer. These should be dated and signed by those present when completed. It is perhaps hardly necessary to remark that precautions should be taken to prevent sudden intrusions, and as far as possible to secure general quiet without.
I may here interject an observation which appears to me suggestive and may prove valuable. It has been observed that the inhabitants of basaltic localities are more generally natural clairvoyants than others. Basalt is an igneous rock composed largely of augite and felspar, which are silicate crystals of calcium, potassium, alumina, etc., of which the Moonstone is a variety. The connecting link is that clairvoyance is found to be unusually active during and by means of moonlight. What psycho-physical effect either basalt or moonlight has upon the nervous system of impressible subjects appears to be somewhat obscure, but there is little difference between calcium light and moonlight, except that the latter is moderated by the greater atmosphere through which it comes to us. It is only when we come to know the psychological values of various chemical bodies that we can hope for a solution of many strange phenomena connected with the clairvoyant faculty. I recollect that the seeress of Prevorst experienced positive pain from the near presence of water during her abnormal phases. Reichenbach found certain psycho-pathological conditions to be excited by various metals and foreign bodies when brought into contact with the sensitive. These observations are extremely useful if only in producing an awareness of possible reasons for such disturbance as may occur in the conditions already cited.
At the outset the sittings should not last longer than at most half-an-hour, but it is important that they should be regular, both as to time and place. We are already informed from a number of observations that every action tends to repeat itself under similar conditions. Habits of life and mind are thus formed so that in time they become quite involuntary and automatic. A cumulative effect is obtained by attention to this matter of periodicity, while the use of the same place for the same purpose tends to dispose the mind to the performance of particular functions. In striving for psychic development of any sort we shall do well not to disregard these facts. For since all actions tend to repeat themselves and to become automatic, to pass from the domain of the purposive into the habitual, the psychic faculties will similarly, if actuated at any set time and place, tend to bestir themselves to the same effects as those to which they were first moved by the conscious will and intention of the seer. Until the clairvoyant faculty is fully assured and satisfactory results obtained without any inconvenience to the seer, not more than two persons should be present at the sittings. These should be in close sympathy with the seer and with each other.
When the sitting is over it will be found useful to repair to another place and fully discuss the results obtained, the impressions and feelings of the seer during the seance, and matters which appear to have a bearing on the facts observed.
A person should not be disheartened if at the first few sittings nothing of any moment takes place, but should persevere with patience and self-control. Indeed, if we consider the fact that for hundreds of generations the psychic faculties latent in man have lain in absolute neglect, that perhaps the faculty of clear vision has not been brought into activity by any of our ancestors since remote ages, it should not be thought remarkable that so few find the faculty in them to be practically dormant. It should rather be a matter of surprise that the faculty is still with us, that it is not wholly irresponsive to the behests of the soul. While in the course of physical evolution many important functions have undergone remarkable changes, and organs, once active and useful, have become stunted, impotent, and in some cases extinct, yet on the other hand we see that seeds which have lain dormant in arid soil for hundreds of years can spring into leaf and flower under the influence of a suitable climate.
The vermiform appendix, so necessary to the bone eaters of a carnivorous age, has no part in the physical economy of a later and more highly-evolved generation. The pineal gland and the pituitary body are adjuncts of the brain whose functions have long been in latency. The Anastatica hierochuntica, commonly called the Rose of Jericho, is a wonderful example of functional latency. The plant will remain for ages rolled up like a ball of sun-dried heather, but if placed in water it will immediately open out and spread forth its nest of mossy green fronds, the transition from seeming death to life taking place in a few minutes. The hygrometric properties of the plant are certainly exceptional. They illustrate the responsiveness of certain natures to a particular order of stimulus, and in a sense they illustrate the functions of the human soul. The faculty of direct vision is like the latent life of the vegetable world. It waits only the conditions which favour its activity and development, and though for generations it may have lain dormant, yet in a few days or weeks it may attain the proportions of a beautiful flower, a thing of wonder and delight, gracing the Garden of the Soul.
KINDS OF VISION
There are two kinds of vision, and each of these may be perceived in two different ways. The two sorts of vision are called the Direct Vision and the Symbolic Vision.
The first of these is an exact representation of some scene or incident which has taken place in the past or will subsequently be experienced in the future. It may have relation to the experience of the seer, or of those who are present at the sitting, or yet may have a general or public application.
The second order of vision is a representation by ideograph, symbol or other indirect means, of events similar to those conveyed by direct vision. The visions of Ezekiel and John of Patmos are of the symbolic order, and although to the seers themselves there probably was a very clear apperception of their import, yet for others they require interpretation. In most cases it will be found that the nature of the vision has relation to that sphere of life and interest in which the seer or those for whom he is serving are concerned. But this is not always the case, for there are some peculiarly sensitive seers whose visions have a wider range and a more general application. In the first case it would seem that the impressions latent in the individual sphere of subconscious activity are brought into evidence, and in the other case the seer comes into relations with the world-soul or earth-sphere, so that political, social and cosmic events are brought out of latency into conscious perception. In most cases it will be found that answers to questions are conveyed by symbols, though this is not an invariable rule, as will appear from the following remarks.
The vision, when it occurs, may be conveyed in one of two ways: first, as a vivid picture affecting the focus and retina of the eye, perfect in its outline and colouring, and giving the sense of nearness or distance; secondly, as a vivid mental impression accompanied by a hazy or dim formation in the "field" of vision. In this latter form it becomes an apperception rather than a perception, the mind receiving the impression of the vision to be conveyed before it has had time to form and define itself in the field.
As already intimated, there appears to be a connection between the temperamental peculiarities of the two classes of clairvoyants and the kind of vision developed in them. Thus the direct vision is more generally found in association with the passive temperament. The direct vision is neither so regular nor so constant as the symbolic vision owing to the peculiarities of the negative or passive subject. When it does develop, however, the direct vision is both lucid and actual, and has literal fulfilment in the world of experience and fact. It is an actual representation of what has actually happened or will have place in the future, or yet may be presently happening at some place more or less distant.
The symbolic vision, on the other hand, is more generally developed in the positive or active type of seer. It has the advantage of being more regular and constant in its occurrence than the direct vision, while at the same time being open to the objection that it is frequently misinterpreted. Nothing shows this better perhaps than the various interpretations which have been made of the Apocalypse.
The positive temperament appears to throw off the mental images as speedily as they are developed in the subconscious area, and goes out to meet them in a mood of speculative enquiry. But the passive temperament most frequently feels first and sees afterwards, the visionary process being entirely devoid of speculation and mental activity. In a word, the distinction between them is that the one sees and thinks while the other feels and sees.
The manner in which the visions appear to develop in the field requires some description, and for reasons which will presently appear it is essential that the earliest experiments should be made in the light of a duly informed expectancy.
At first the crystal or mirror will appear to be overclouded by a dull, smoky vapour which presently condenses into milky clouds among which are seen innumerable little gold specks of light, dancing in all directions, like gold-dust in a sunlit air. The focus of the eye at this stage is inconstant, the pupil rapidly expanding and contracting, while the crystal or mirror alternately disappears in a haze and reappears again. Then suddenly the haze disappears and the crystal looms up into full view, accompanied by a complete lapse of the seer into full consciousness of his surroundings.
This may be the only experience during the first few sittings. It may be that of many. But if it occurs it is an entirely satisfactory and hopeful symptom. For sooner or later, according to the degree of susceptibility or responsiveness in the subject, there will come a moment when the milky-looking clouds and dancing starlights will suddenly vanish and a bright azure expanse like an open summer sky will fill the field of vision. The brain will now be felt to palpitate spasmodically, as if opening and closing again in the coronal region; there will be a tightening of the scalp about the base of brain, as if the floor of the cerebrum were contracting; the seer will catch his breath with a spasmodic sigh and the first vision will stand out clear and life-like against the azure screen of space.
Now the danger at this supreme moment is that the seer will be surprised into full waking consciousness. During the process of abstraction which precedes every vision or series of visions, the consciousness of the seer is gradually but imperceptibly withdrawn from physical surroundings. He forgets that he is seated in a particular place or room, that he is in the company of another or others. He forgets that he is gazing into a crystal or mirror. He knows nothing, sees nothing, hears nothing, save that which is being enacted before the senses of his soul. He loses sight for the time even of his own identity and becomes as it were merged in the vision itself.
When, therefore, his attention is suddenly arrested by an apparition, startling in its reality and instantaneous production, the reaction is likely to be both rapid and violent, so that the seer is frequently carried back into full waking consciousness. When, however, the mind is previously instructed and warned of this stage of the process, a steady and self-possessed attitude is ensured and a subconscious feeling of expectancy manifests at the critical moment. I have known so many cases of people being surprised out of clairvoyance and so to have lost what has often been an isolated experience, that this treatise will be wholly justified if by the inclusion of this warning the novice comes successfully through his first experience of second sight.
We come now to the point where it becomes necessary to consider other important reactions which the development of any psychic sense involves. To some favoured few these supernormal faculties appear to be given without any cost to themselves. Perhaps they are direct evolutional products, possibly psychic inheritances; but to such as have them no price is asked or penalty imposed.
Others there are who are impelled by their own evolutional process to seek the development in themselves of these psychic powers; and to these a word of warning seems necessary, so that at the risk of appearing didactic I must essay the task. To some it may seem unwelcome, to others redundant and supererogatory. But we are dealing with a new stage in evolutional progress—the waking up of new forces in ourselves and the prospective use of a new set of faculties. It is of course open to anybody to experiment blindly, and none will seek to deter them save those who have some knowledge of the attendant dangers, and which knowledge alone can help us to avoid. I should consider the man more fool than hero who, in entire ignorance of mechanics and aeronautics, stepped on board an aeroplane and started the engines running. Even the most skilful in any new field of experiment or research consciously faces certain but unknown dangers. The victims of the aeroplane—brave pioneers of human enterprise and endeavour that they were—fell by lack of knowledge. By lack of knowledge also have the humane efforts of many physicians been cut short at the outset of what might have been a successful career. It was this very lack of knowledge they knew to be the greatest of all dangers, and it was this they had set out to remedy.
It is not less dangerous when we begin to pursue a course of psychic development. The ordinary functions of the mind are well within our knowledge and control. There is always the will by which we may police the territory under our jurisdiction and government. It is another matter when we seek to govern a territory whose peculiar features and native laws and customs are entirely unknown to us. It is obvious that here the will-power, if directed at all, is as likely to be effectual for evil as for good. The psychic faculties may indeed be opened up and the unknown region explored, but at fatal cost, it may be, to all that constitutes normal sanity and physical well-being; in which case one may say with Hamlet it be better to "bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of."
Some of the conditions imposed upon those who, not being naturally gifted in this direction, would wish to experiment in clairvoyant development, may conveniently be stated and examined in another chapter.
OBSTACLES TO CLAIRVOYANCE
Various impediments stand in the way of inducing second sight, and certain others may be expected to arise in connection with the faculty when induced. Putting aside the greatest of all obstacles, that of constitutional unfitness, as having already been discussed in the preceding pages, the first obstacle to be encountered is that of ill health. It can hardly be expected that new areas can be opened up in the mind without considerable change and adjustment taking place by reflection in the physical economy. The reaction is likely to be attended by physical distress. But Nature is adaptable and soon accommodates herself to changed conditions, so that any results directly attributable to the development of the psychic centres of activity is not likely to be more than transient, providing that due regard has been given to the normal requirements of health.
The importance of a moderate and nourishing diet cannot be too strongly urged upon those who seek for psychic development. All overloading of the stomach with indigestible food and addiction to alcoholic drinks tend to cloud the higher faculties. The brain centres are thereby depleted, the heart suffers strain, and the equilibrium of the whole system is disturbed. Ill health follows, the mind is centred upon the suffering body, spiritual aspiration ceases, and the neglected soul folds its wings and falls into the sleep of oblivion.
But, on the other hand, one must not suppose that the adoption of a fruit and cereal diet will of itself induce to the development of the psychic powers. It will aid by removing the chief impediments of congestion and disease. Many good people who adopt this dietetic reform have a tendency to scratch one another's shoulder blades and expect to find their wings already sprouting. If it were as easy as this the complacent cow would be high up in the scale of spiritual aspirants.
The consciousness of man works from a centre which co-ordinates and includes the phenomena of thought, feeling, and volition. This centre is capable of rapid displacement, alternating between the most external of physical functions and the most internal of spiritual operations. It cannot be active in all parts of our complex constitutions at one and the same moment. When one part of our nature is active another is dormant, as is seen in the waking and sleeping stages, the dream-life being in the middle ground between the psychic and physical. It will therefore be obvious that a condition in which the consciousness is held in bondage by the infirmities of the body is not one likely to be conducive to psychic development. For this reason alone many aspirants have been turned back from initiation. The constitution need not be robust, but it should at all events be free from disorder and pain. Some of the most ethereal and spiritual natures are found in association with a delicate organism. So long as the balance is maintained the soul is free to develop its latent powers. A certain delicacy of organization, together with a tendency to hyperaesthesia, is most frequently noted in the passive or direct seer; but a more robust and forceful constitution may well be allied to the positive type of seership.
As a chronic state of physical congestion is altogether adverse to the development of the second sight or any other psychic faculty, so the temporary congestion following naturally upon a meal indicates that it is not advisable to sit for psychic exercise immediately after eating. Neither should a seance be begun when food is due, for the automatism of the body will naturally demand satisfaction at times when food is usually taken and the preliminary processes of digestion will be active. The best time is between meals and especially between tea and supper, or an hour after the last meal of the day, supposing it to be of a light nature. The body should be at rest, and duly fortified, and the mind should be contented and tranquil.
The attitude of the would-be seer should not be too expectant or over-anxious about results. All will come in good time, and the more speedily if the conditions are carefully observed. It is useless to force the young plant in its growth. Take time, as Nature does. It is a great work and much patience may be needed. Nature is never in a hurry, and therefore she brings everything to perfection. The acorn becomes the sturdy oak only because Nature is content with small results, because she has the virtue of endurance. She is patient and careful in her beginnings, she nurses the young life with infinite care, and her works are wonderfully great and complete in their issues. Moreover, they endure. Whoever breathes slowest lives the longest.
This statement opens up a very important matter connected with all psychic phenomena, and one that deserves more than casual notice. It has been long known to the people of the East that there is an intimate connection between brain and lung action, and modern experiment has shown by means of the spirometer that the systole and diastole motion of the hemispheres of the brain coincide exactly with the respiration of the lungs. The brain as the organ of the mind registers every emotion with unerring precision. But so also do the lungs, as a few common observations will prove. Thus if a person is in deep thought the breathing will be found to be long and regular, but if the mind is agitated the breathing will be short and stertorous, while if fear affects the mind the breathing is momentarily suspended. A person never breathes from the base of the lung unless his mind is engrossed. Hard exercise demands deep breathing and is therefore helpful in producing good mental reactions. It is said that the great preacher De Witt Talmage used to shovel gravel from one side of his cellar to the other as a preliminary to his fine elocutional efforts. It is this obvious connection between respiration and mental processes which is at the base of the system of psycho-physical culture known as Hatha Yoga in distinction from Raj Yoga, which is concerned solely with mental and spiritual development. The two systems, which have of late years found frequent exposition in the New Thought school, are to be found in Patanjali's Yoga sutra. Some reference to the synchronous action of lung and brain will also be found in Dr. Tafel's translation and exposition of Swedenborg's luminous work on The Brain. In this work the Swedish seer frankly refers his illumination regarding the functions of the brain to his faculty of introspective vision or second sight, and it is of interest to observe that all the more important discoveries in this department of physiology during the last two centuries are clearly anticipated by him. The scientific works of this great thinker are far too little known by the majority, who are apt to regard him only as a visionary and a religious teacher.
Ad rem. The vision is produced. The faculty of clairvoyance is an established fact of experience and has become more or less under the control of the mind. There will yet remain one or two difficulties connected with the visions. One is that of time measure, and another that of interpretation. The former is common to both orders of vision, the direct and the symbolic. The difficulty of interpretation is, of course, peculiar to the latter order of vision.
The sensing of time is perhaps the greatest difficulty encountered by the seer, and this factor is often the one that vitiates an otherwise perfect revelation. I have known cartomantes and diviners of all sorts to express their doubt as to the possibility of a correct measure of time. Yet it is a question that follows naturally upon a clear prediction—When?
It is sometimes impossible to determine whether a vision relates to the past, the present, or the future. In most cases, however, the seer has an intuitive sense of the time-relations of a vision which is borne in upon him with the vision itself. It will generally be observed that in ordinary mental operations the time sense is subject to localization, and a distinct throw of the mind will be experienced when speaking of the past and the future. Personally I find the past to be located on my left and the future on my right hand, but others inform me that the habit of mind, places the past behind and the future in front of them, while others again have the past beneath their feet and the future over their heads. It is obviously a habit of mind, and this usually inheres in the visionary state so that a sense of time is found to attach to all visions, though it cannot be relied upon to register on every occasion. But also it is frequently found that there is an automatic allocation of the visions, those that are near of fulfilment being in the foreground of the field, the approximate in the middle ground, and the distant in the background; position answering to time interval. In such case the vision has a certain definition or focus according to the degree of its proximity. These points are, however, best decided by empiricism, and rarely does it happen that the intuitive sense of the seer is at fault when allowed to have play.
The other difficulty to which I have referred, that of interpretation of symbols when forming the substance of the vision, may be dealt with somewhat more fully. Symbolism is a universal language and revelation most frequently is conveyed by means of it. As a preliminary to the study of symbolism the student should read Swedenborg's Hieroglyphical Key to Natural and Spiritual Mysteries, one of the earliest of his works and in a great measure the foundation of his thought and teaching. The Golden Book of Hermes containing the twenty-two Tarots is open to a universal interpretation as may be seen from the works of the Kabalists, and in regard to their individual application may be regarded in a fourfold light, having reference to the spiritual, rational, psychic and physical planes of existence. It is by means of symbols that the spiritual intelligences signal themselves to our minds, and the most exalted vision is, as an expression of intelligence, only intelligible by reason of its symbolism. Something more may be said in regard to the interpretation of symbols which may possibly be of use to those who have made no special study of the subject, and this may conveniently form the material of another chapter.
Symbols formed the primitive language of the human race, they spoke and wrote in symbols. The hieroglyphic writings of the aborigines of Central America, of the ancient Peruvians, of the Mongolians, and of the ancient Copts and Hebrews all point to the universal use of the ideograph for the purpose of recording and conveying ideas.
If we study the alphabets of the various peoples, we shall find in them clear indications of the physical and social conditions under which they evolved. Thus the Hebrew alphabet carries with it unmistakable evidence of the nomadic and simple life of those "dwellers in tents." The forms of the letters are derived from the shapes of the constellations, of which twelve are zodiacal, six northern and six southern. This implies a superficial intimacy with the heavens such as would result from a life spent in hot countries with little or no superstructure to shut out the view. The wise among them would sit beneath the stars in the cool night air and figure out the language of the heavens.
It was God's message to mankind, and they sought not only to understand it but to make imitation of it. So they built an alphabet of forms after the pattern of things in the heavens. But when we come to the names of these forms or letters we come at once into touch with the life of the people. Thus aleph, an ox; beth, a tent; daleth, a tent-door; lamed, an ox-goad; mem, water; tzadde, a fish-hook; quoph, a coil of rope; gimel, a camel; yod, a hand; oin, an eye; vau, a hook or link; heth, a basket; caph, a head; nun, a fish; phe, a mouth; shin, a tooth; resh, a head; etc., all speaking to us of the ordinary things of a simple, wandering life. These symbols were compounded to form ideographs, as aleph = a, and lamed = l, being the first and last of the zodiacal circle, were employed for the name of the Creator, the reverse of these, la, signifying non-existence, negation, privation. In course of time a language and a literature would be evolved, but from the simple elements of a nomadic life. Knowledge came to them by action and the use of the physical sense. They had no other or more appropriate confession of this than is seen in the root [Hebrew letters] yedo— knowledge, compounded of the three symbols yod, daleth, oin— a hand, a door, an eye. The hand is a symbol of action, power, ability; the door, of entering, initiation; the eye, of seeing, vision, evidence, illumination.
Hence the ideograph formed by the collation of these symbols signifies, opening the door to see, i.e. enquiry.
The Chinese alphabet of forms is entirely hieroglyphic and symbolical in its origin, though it has long assumed a typal regularity. What were once curved and crude figures have become squared and uniform letterpress. But the names of these forms bring us into touch at once with the early life of the Mongolian race. We have, however, indications of a wider scope than was enjoyed by the primitive Semites, for whereas we find practically all the symbols of the Hebrews employed as alphabetical forms, we also have others which indicate artifice, such as hsi, box; chieh, a seal or stamp; mien, a roof; chin, a napkin; kung, a bow; mi, silk; lei, a plough, and many others, such as the names of metals, wine, vehicles, leather in distinction from hides, etc. But further, we have a mythology as part of the furniture of the primitive mind, the dragon and the spirit or demon being employed as radical symbols.
Considered in regard to their origin, symbols may be defined as thought-forms which embody, by the association of ideas, definite meanings in the mind that generates them. They wholly depend for their significance upon the laws of thought and the correspondence that exists between the spiritual and material worlds, between the subject and object of our consciousness, the noumenon and phenomenon.
All symbols therefore may be translated by reference to the known nature, quality, properties and uses of the objects they represent. A few interpretations of symbols actually seen in the mirror may serve to illustrate the method of interpretation.
A foot signifies a journey, and also understanding. A mouth denotes speech, revelation, a message. An ear signifies news, information; if ugly and distorted, scandal and abuse.
The sun, if shining brightly, denotes prosperity, honours, good health, favours.
The moon when crescent denotes success, public recognition, increase and improvement; when gibbous, sickness, decadence, loss and trouble.
The sun being rayless or seen through a haze denotes sickness to a man, some misfortune, danger of discredit. When eclipsed it denotes the ruin or death of a man. The moon similarly affected denotes equal danger to a woman. These are all natural interpretations and probably would be immediately appreciated.
But every symbol has a threefold or fourfold interpretation and the nature of the enquiry or purpose for which the vision is sought will indicate the particular meaning conveyed. For if the enquiry be concerning things of the spiritual world the interpretation of the answering vision must be in terms of that world, and similarly if the question has relation to the intellectual or the physical worlds. Thus a pain of scales would denote in the spiritual sense, absolute justice; in the intellectual, judgment, proportion, comparison, reason; in the social, debt or obligation, levy, rate, or tax; and in the material, balance of forces, equilibrium, action and reaction. If the scales are evenly balanced the augury will be good and favourable to the purport of the quest, but if weighted unevenly it is a case of mene, tekel, upharsin; for it shows an erring judgment, an unbalanced mind, failure in one's obligations, injustice. A sword seen in connection with the scales denotes speedy judgment and retribution. This is an illustration of an artificial symbol.
A ship is a symbol of trading, of voyaging, and is frequently used in the symbolical vision. If in full sail it indicates that communication with the spiritual world is about to be facilitated, that news from distant lands will come to hand, that trade will increase, that a voyage will be taken. If writing should appear on the sails it will be an additional means of enlightenment. If flying the pirate flag it denotes translation to another land, death. The land indicated may be the spiritual world itself, in which case the death will be natural; but if it should be a foreign country, then death will take place there by some unlooked-for disaster. The ship's sails being slack denotes a falling off of afflatus or spiritual influx, loss of trade, misfortune, delays and bad news, or if news is expected it will not come to hand.
Black bread denotes a famine; spotted or mottled bread, a plague. This symbol was seen in June 1896, with other symbols which connected it with India, and there followed a great outbreak of bubonic plague in that country. This symbol, however, was not properly understood until the event came to throw light upon it. The following note is from a seance which took place in India in the spring of 1893: "A leaf of shamrock is seen. It denotes the United Kingdom or the Triple Alliance. It is seen to split down the centre with a black line. It symbolizes the breaking of a treaty. Also that Ireland, whose symbol is the shamrock, will be separated by an autonomous government from the existing United Kingdom and will be divided into two factions."
In this way all symbols seen in the crystal or mirror may be interpreted by reference to their known properties and uses, as well as by the associations existing between them and other things, persons and places, in the mind of the seer. Nor is it always required that the scryer should understand symbology, for as already said, the meanings of most of the symbols will be conveyed to the consciousness of the seer at the time of their appearance in the field. Experience will continually throw new light upon the screen of thought, and a symbol once known will assume a constant signification with each seer, so that in course of time a language will be instituted by means of which constant revelations will be made.
It will thus be obvious, I think, that symbolism is to a large extent subject to a personal colouring, so that the same symbol may, by different associations, convey a different meaning to various seers. This may arise in part from the diversities of individual experience, of temperament, and the order to which the soul belongs in the spiritual world. These dissimilarities between individuals may be noted from their highest intellectual convictions down to the lowest of their sensations, and it is difficult to account for it. We all have the same laws of thought and the same general constitution. Humanity comprehends us all within the bonds of a single nature. Yet despite these facts we are divided by differences of opinion, of emotion, of sympathy, of taste and faculty. It is probable that these differences obtain in spheres immeasurably higher than our own, the sole element of consent being the recognition of dependence upon a Higher Power. God is the co-ordinating centre in a universe of infinite diversity.