Therefore, despite the fact that symbolism is capable of a universal interpretation, it would appear that the images projected by the magical power of the soul must have different significations with each of us, the meanings being in some mysterious way in agreement with the nature of the person who sees them. Hence we may come to the conclusion that every person must be his own interpreter, there being no universal code for what are peculiarly individualized messages. For although every symbol has a general signification in agreement with its natural properties and uses, it yet obtains a particular signification with the individual.
It is within common experience with those who have regard to the import of dreams, wherein the faculty of seership is acting on its normal plane, that a dream constantly recurring is found to have a particular meaning, which however is not applicable to others who have a similar dream. Every person is a seer in dream life, but few pay that attention to dreams which their origin and nature warrant. The crystal or mirror is an artificial means of bringing this normal faculty of dreaming into activity in waking life. Those who are capable of making the dream life normal to the working consciousness, rise to a higher plane when they sleep.
But, as stated above, the differences of import or meaning, even in dream life, of any particular symbol is a common experience. One person will dream of wading in water whenever there is trouble ahead. Another will dream of a naked child, and yet another of coal, when similar trouble is in store. Butchers' meat will signify financial trouble to one person, to another the same will denote a fortunate speculation.
The controlling factor in this matter would appear to be founded in the mental and psychic constitution conferred by physical heredity and psychic tradition, converging at the conception of the individual and expressed in the birth. Probably an argument could thence be made in regard to the influence of the planets and the general cosmic disposition attending upon birth: I have frequently found that dreams may be interpreted by reference to the individual horoscope of birth, and if dreams, possibly also visions, which are but dreams brought into the field of conscious reality. But any such argument, however tempting, would be beyond the scope of this work.
ALLIED PSYCHIC PHASES
The faculty of second sight is not by any means the most common of the psychic powers. Psychometric impressions which proceed by the sense of touch into that of a superior order of feeling are far more general. We are affected much more than is generally recognized by the impressions gathered from the things we have contact with, and it is quite a common experience that very delicate and sensitive people take the "atmosphere" of places into which they go. I have in mind an instance of an extremely high-keyed person who invariably takes on the atmosphere of new localities, houses and even rooms. Going to view a house with the object of taking it on rental, she will as likely as not pronounce against the moment she enters on the ground that it is a "house of death" or a "quarrelsome house," full of sickness, intemperance or what not, and wherever enquiry has been possible it has invariably confirmed her impressions. On one occasion she had telegraphed to engage a room at an hotel in a seaside town, and on being shown to it by the maid found that it was locked. While the maid went to fetch the key the young lady tried the door and immediately received a psychometric impression. "Oh, M—," she said to her companion, "we cannot possibly have this room, there's a corpse in it!" This was confirmed, almost as soon as said, by the appearance of the proprietor, who explained that the maid had made a mistake in the number of the room, and then, feeling that there was a state of tension, confidentially informed his visitors that the locked room had really been booked to them but the old lady who was to have vacated it that morning had unfortunately died, and in order not to distress the other visitors the door had been locked pending the removal of the body, and even the servants had not been informed of it.
The experiments of Denton recorded in his Soul of Things are full of interest for those who would learn something more about the phenomena of psychometry.
The suggestion is that every particle of matter has its own aura or "atmosphere" in which are stored up the experiences of that particle. What is said of the particle applies also to the mass of any body, and in effect we get the aura of a room, of a house, of a town, of a city; and so successively until we come to that of the planet itself. These stored-up impressions are not caused by the mental action of human beings in association with the material psychometrized, they appertain entirely to the associations of the material itself, and the psychometric sense consists in recovering these associations and bringing them into terms of human sense and consciousness. The experience seems to suggest a nexus between the individualized human soul and the world-soul in which the generic life is included; also that the human soul is a specialized evolution from the world-soul, and hence inclusive of all stages of experience beneath the human. I think it was Draper who suggested in his Conflict that a man's shadow falling upon a wall produced an indelible impression which was capable of being revived. The cinematograph film is that brick wall raised to the nth power of impressibility. The occultist will point you to a universal medium as much above the cinema film as that is above the brick or stone, and in which are stored up the memoria mundi. It is this sensitized envelope of the planetary atom that your sensitive taps by means of his clairvoyant, psychometric and clairaudient senses.
Clairaudience is far more general than second sight, but there is the same variability in the range of perception as is seen in clairvoyance and psychometry. Thus while one hears only the evil suggestions of "obsessing spirits" or discarnate souls being dinned into his ears, another will be lifted to the third heaven and hear "things unutterable." Brain-cell discharges will hardly account for the phenomena of clairaudience. A brain-cell discharge never goes beyond the repetition of one's own name in some familiar voice, or at most the revival of a phrase or the monotonous clang of a neighbouring church bell. These are not clairaudiences at all. Clairaudience consists in receiving auditory impressions of intelligible phrases not previously associated with the name of person or place involved in the statement. These impressions may be sporadic or may be continuous. In the case of a genuine development where the interior sense is fully opened up, the communication will be continuous and normal, as much so as ordinary conversation, and the translation of consciousness into terms of sense will be so rapid and unimpeded as to give the impression to an Englishman that he is listening to his native language and to a Frenchman that he is listening to French, though the communication may proceed from a source which renders this impossible. The universal language of humanity is neither Volapuk, nor Esperanto, nor Ido. It is Thought, and when thought proceeds from a point beyond the plane of differentiation it can be determined along the line which makes for English as readily as that which makes for French, or any other tongue. It is they of the soul-world who convey the thought, it is we of the sublunary world who translate that thought into our own language. The Hebrew prophets were almost uniformly instructed by means of clairaudience. But as I have already said there are degrees of clairaudience, as of any other psychic faculty. The danger is that a false value may be set upon the experiences, especially during the early stages of development when everything is very new and very wonderful.
Telepathy is another and yet more general phrase of psychic activity. It may consist in the transmission from one person to another of a feeling or impression merely, which results in a certain degree of awareness to the state of mind in which the transmitter may be at the time, as when a mother has a "feeling" that all is not well with her absent child. Or it may yet take a more definite and perspicuous form, even to the transmission of details such as the names of persons and places, of numbers, forms and incidents. Telepathy commonly exists between persons in close sympathy; and when two persons are working along separate lines toward the same result, it is quite usual that they unconsciously "telepath" with one another, their brains being for the time in synchronous vibration. Spiritual communication in any degree is nothing more or less than sympathy—those who feel together, think together. The modern development of the aerial post is a step towards the universal federation of thought, but it is not comparable with the astral post which carries a thousand miles an hour. In this sort of correspondence the communication is written like any ordinary letter designed for transmission, but instead of stamping and posting it, a lighted match is applied to the finished work. The material part is destroyed, but the intangible and only real and lasting part remains behind. This is attached, by the direction of the will, to a particular person and set in a certain direction. If all the conditions have been properly observed it will not fail to reach its destination. I have fortunately been able to demonstrate this fact in public on more than one occasion. The phenomenon is repeated in a less striking form in every case of what is called "crossing," as when one correspondent feels suddenly called upon to write urgently to another and receives a reply to his enquiries while his letter is still in course of delivery.
Nature is full of a subtle magic of this sort for which we have no organized science. It is said that if you put snails together and afterwards separate them, placing each upon a copper ground to which electric wires are attached, a shock given to one snail will be registered by the other at the same moment. I have not tried this theory, but the idea is fundamental to a mass of telepathic observations which have found practical expression in wireless telegraphy. Some thirty years ago, however, I made trial of the twin magnet theory and was entirely successful in getting wireless messages from one room to another. The performance was, however, clumsy and tedious, and I did not then know enough to see how it could be perfected. The idea is now in the very safe custody of the Patents Office.
Community of taste can be demonstrated under hypnosis. It is not otherwise usually active in sensitives, and Swedenborg was hence of opinion that the sense of taste could not be obsessed. This, however, is incorrect. I have illustrated community of all the senses under hypnosis in circumstances which entirely precluded the possibility of feint or imposition on the part of the subject.
Another phase of psychic activity is that illustrated in "dowsing" or water-finding by means of the hazel fork. It may be accounted a form of hyperaesthesia and no doubt has a nervous expression, but it is not the less psychic in its origin. I have already referred to the action of water upon psychic sensitives, and there seems little room for doubt that it is the psychometric sense which, by means of the self-extensive faculty inhering in consciousness, registers the presence of the great diamagnetic agent. Professor Barrett has written a most interesting monograph on this subject, and there are many books extant which make reference to and give examples of this curious phenomenon. The late British Consul at Trieste and famous explorer and linguist, Sir Richard Burton, could detect the presence of a cat at a considerable distance, and I have heard that Lord Roberts experiences the same paralyzing influence by the proximity of the harmless feline. If, therefore, one can register the presence of a cat, and another that of a dead body, I see no difficulty in others registering water or any other antipathetic. All we have to remember is that these things are psychic in their origin, and not ignorantly confound sensation with consciousness, or hyperaesthesia with the various psychopathic faculties we have been discussing. But it is necessary to return to our main subject and consider where our developed clairvoyant or second-sight faculty will lead us, and what sort of experience we may expect to gain by its use. These points may now be dealt with.
EXPERIENCE AND USE
First let us have the facts, we can then best see what use we can make of them. This I think is the correct position in regard to any abnormal claim that is made upon our attention. Everybody has heard of the prophecies of the Brahmin seer, most people have some acquaintance with the phenomena attending the clairvoyance of the seeress of Prevorst, while the experiences of Emanuel Swedenborg have been set forth in many biographies, but in none more lucidly and dispassionately than that by William White. Traditions have come to us concerning the clairvoyance of the Greek exponent of the Pythagorean teachings, Apollonius of Tyana, and the case of Cavotte, who predicted his own death and that of Robespierre and others by the guillotine, is on record. The illumination of Andrew Jackson Davis, the Poughkeepsie seer, and that of Thomas Lake Harris of Fountain Grove, are modern examples of abnormal faculty of a nature which places them outside the field of direct evidence. A prophecy made from the use of the super-sense which is followed by exact fulfilment appears to be the best criterion, though it is a very imperfect illustration of the scope of clairvoyance.
The following instances are within my personal experience, and being already on record and well attested, will serve equally to illustrate the fact of clairvoyance as would numerous others within my knowledge.
In June, 1896, a lady visited me in Manchester Square and, being anxious on several points, asked that I would scry for her. A blue beryl was used as agent. She was told that she would have news from a tropical country concerning the birth of a child, a boy, who would arrive in the following year in the month of February. That on a certain date while travelling she would meet with an accident to the right leg. Previous to this, in October she would have a welcome surprise connected with papers and a contest in which her son was engaged.
Now here was a network of disaster for any would-be prophet who relied upon what is called the "lucky shot." If we enumerate the items of prediction, on any of which a fatal error could have been made, we shall find a very formidable list:—
A tropical country. A birth. A boy then unborn. February, 1897. A journey on a particular date. The right leg. The son. October. Papers.
At least nine points on which the faculty could have been wholly at fault. The fulfilment, however, came in due course. The lady heard that her sister, then vicereine of India, was about to have a child, and in February, 1897, a son was born to Lord Elgin. In October the lady referred to was agreeably surprised to learn that her son had passed his examination for the military college with honours. Further, while boarding a train at Victoria station she had the misfortune to slip between the platform and the footboard, so that the shin of the right leg was badly damaged and severe muscular strain was also suffered, in consequence of which she was laid up for several days.
Mrs. H. was consulted by an authoress, her profession being unknown to the scryer. She was told that she would go up a dingy staircase with a roll of papers under her arm; that she would see a dark man, thickset and of quiet demeanour. He would take the roll of papers and it would be a source of good fortune to her. The prediction was literally fulfilled.
The first case cited is an example of the positive and symbolic type of vision; the second being of the passive and direct type.
Mrs. A. was consulted by a lady of the writer's acquaintance and was told that she would not marry the man to whom she was then engaged as there was a certain other person, described, coming across the seas to claim her. She would meet him three years later in the month of January.
The event transpired exactly as stated, though nothing at that time appeared less probable, and indeed the lady was not a little irate at the allusion to the breaking off of the engagement and of marrying a man whom she had never seen and for whom she could have no sort of regard. In fact, the whole revelation was very revolting to one so wholly absorbed as was she at the time. It cannot be argued that this was a case of suggestion working itself out, for one cannot auto-suggest the arrival of a person of a particular description from a distant land to one's own drawing-room at any time, and there is here a prediction as to the date which was duly fulfilled. This was a case of direct vision.
Mrs. G. consulted a seer on September 27, 1894. She was told she would have sickness affecting the loins and knees; that she would be the owner of a house in the month of December; that a removal would be made when the trees were leafless; that there would be a dispute about a sum of money.
This is positive or symbolical clairvoyance. The symbols seen were as follow: a figure with a black cloth about the loins, the figure stooping and resting the hands upon its knees. A house covered with snow, bare trees around it. A bird on a leafless branch; the bird flies away. Several hands seen grabbing at a pile of money.
All the predictions were fulfilled.
Interpretations of symbols when made during the vision are frequently far removed from what one would be led to expect. But we have to remember that the seer is then in a psychologized state, and there is reason to believe that interpretations made from the inner plane of consciousness are due to the fact that the symbols appear in a different light. Our ordinary dreams follow the same change. While asleep we are impressed by the importance and logical consistency of the dream incident, which assumes, possibly, the proportions of a revelation, but which dissolves into ridiculous triviality and nonsense as soon as we awake. The reason is that there is a complete hiatus between the visionary and the waking state of consciousness, and even the laws of thought appear to undergo a change as the centre of consciousness slides down from the inner to the outer world of thought and feeling.
In the Eastern conception the three states of jagrata, waking, swapna, dreaming, and sushupti, sleeping, are penetrated by the thread of consciousness, the sutratma, a node of complete unconsciousness separating one state from the next. The centre of consciousness, like a bead on the thread, alternates between the three states as it is impelled by desire or will.
I have known sickness predicted, both as to time and nature of the malady; the receipt of unexpected letters and telegrams with indications of their contents and resulting incident; changes, voyages, business transactions, deaths, and even changes in the religious views of individuals, all by means of the crystal vision.
It sometimes happens that the visionary state is induced by excessive emotion during which the prophetic faculty is considerably heightened. Some temperaments on the other hand will fall into the clairvoyant condition when engaged in deep thought. The thread of thought seems suddenly to be broken, and there appears a vision wholly unconnected with the subject but a moment ago absorbing the mind. It is as if the soul, while probing the depths of its inner consciousness, comes into contact with the thin partition which may be said to divide the outer world of reason and doubt from the inner world of intuition and direct perception, and breaking through, emerges into the light beyond. In trance there is generally a development of other super-senses, such as clairaudience and psychic touch, as well as clairvoyance. Examples might be multiplied and would but serve to show that the rapport existing between the human soul and the world soul, the individual consciousness and the collective consciousness, is capable of being actively induced by recourse to appropriate means and developed where it exists in latency by means of the crystal, the black concave mirror or other suitable agent. As yet, however, the majority are wholly ignorant of the existence of such psychic faculties, and even those who possess them are conscious of having but an imperfect control of them.
As in the case of genius where nature is opening up new centres of activity in the mind, the casual observer notes an eccentricity hardly distinguishable from some incipient forms of insanity; so the development of new psychic faculties is frequently attended by temporary loss of control over the normal brain functions. Loss of memory, hysteria, absent-mindedness, unconscious utterance of thought, illusions, irritability, indifference, misanthropy and similar perversions are not infrequent products of the preliminary stages of psychic development. These, however, will pass away as the new faculty pushes through into full existence. Nature is jealous of her offspring and concentrates the whole of her forces when in the act of generation, and that is the reason of her apparent neglect of powers and functions, normally under her control, while the evolution of a new faculty is in process. Let it be understood therefore that the faculty of clairvoyance or any other super-sense is not to be artificially developed without some cost to those who seek it. "The universe is thine; take what thou wilt, but pay the price," says Emerson. This is the divine mandate. It is not merely a question of the price of a crystal or a mirror, the sacrifice of time, the exercise of patience: it may mean something much more than this. It is a question of the price of a new faculty. What is it worth to you? That is the price you will be required to pay. And with this equation in mind the reader must consider the use to which, when obtained, he will apply his faculty; for the virtue of everything is in its use. It is reasonable to presume that one's daily life can supply the true answer. To what use are we employing the faculties we already have, all of them acquired with as much pain and suffering, it may be, as any new ones we are ever likely to evolve? If we are using these faculties for the benefit of the race we shall employ others that are higher to even greater effect. In other case it is not worth the effort of acquiring, nor is it likely that anybody of a radically selfish nature will take the trouble to acquire it. Natural selection is the fine sieve which the gods use in their prospecting. The gross material does not go through.
The foregoing short treatise will gain some practical value by a statement of the conditions most suitable for scrying.
A diffused natural light, preferably from the north, is always better than an artificial light.
The subject should sit with his back to the source of light, at a distance from the mirror determined by its focus; or if the agent be a crystal it should be held in the hands, one supporting the other.
Steady gazing in complete silence should be maintained for a quarter of an hour, which may be afterwards gradually extended to half or even a full hour. Success depends largely upon idiosyncrasy and temperamental aptitude. Seers are often to be found among men and women of imperfect education owing to fitness of temperament; seers of this order are born with the faculty. Others, seemingly non-sensitive at first, may develop the faculty after a few short sittings.
The eyes should not be strained, but the gaze should be allowed to rest casually yet steadily on the agent as if one were reading a book.
It will be found that the sight is presently drawn inwards to a focus beyond the surface of the agent. This opening up of the field of vision is the symptom of success. The next step is indicated by a change in the atmosphere of the field. Instead of reflecting or remaining translucent, the agent will appear to cloud over. This will appear to become milky, then to be diffused with colour which changes to black or murky brown, and finally the screen appears to be drawn away, revealing a picture, a scene, figures in action, symbolical forms, sentences, etc.
The physiological symptoms are: first, a slight chill along the spine like cold water trickling from the neck downwards; secondly, a returning flush of heat from the base of the spine upwards to the crown of the head; thirdly, a gaping or spasmodic action of the brain; and lastly, a deep inward drawing of the breath, as if sobbing. When these symptoms follow closely upon one another, vision will be assured. It generally happens, however, that the various symptoms are separately developed by repeated sittings, only appearing in proper sequence when the experiment is finally successful.
One of the most interesting phases of this development of second sight is the opening up of lost impressions, the revival of lapsed memories; "looking for one thing, you find another" is an experience in daily life which has a psychological application. The things which pass into the limbo of forgetfulness are never lost to us. They remain stored up in latency and are ready to spring into activity as soon as the depths of the mind are probed. Necessarily this experience is more generally interesting than pleasant, but it serves to give one a sense of the connectedness of life's incident and to show a certain sequential necessity in the course of events. The "whyness" of our various experiences is revealed when they are displayed in their true relations and given their true value in the scheme of individual evolution. As detached experiences they appear without reason or purpose, apparently futile, often painful and even cruel; but as a consecutive scheme, completed by the revival of all the connecting links, the wisdom, justice, kindness and beneficence of the Great Arbiter of our destinies are fully and conspicuously revealed. My own first suspicions of a former embodied existence were derived from psychic experiences, and later on were confirmed by the course of events. I saw myself reaping that which I had sown, and I observed that what was sown in ignorance might be reaped in the light of a fuller knowledge; only we must henceforth be wise in the sowing. I would say in conclusion that it is the duty of man to himself and humanity not only to hold himself in readiness, but also to fit himself for the reception of new light. Since evolution is the law of life and the glory of going on man's highest guerdon, and since we are all candidates for responsibility, asking as reward for work well done to-day a task of greater magnitude on the morrow, it appears that the development of the psychic faculties may well form an orderly step in the process of human perfectibility, and help to bring us nearer to the source of all good. If it serves only to keep open the door between the two worlds it will have filled a good purpose, and if in the writing of this little exposition, I may have contributed to the confidence and security of any who may adventure these obscure paths, I shall be well content.