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APPARITIONS, supernormal appearances suggesting the real presence of someone distant or dead, or reminding of the latter's continuity of existence. The perception is visual, mostly spontaneous, but sometimes it may be experimentally induced. The state of the percipient may be normal (waking or dream state) or abnormal, the agent may be living or dead. The first systematic inquiry into the reality of phantasmal appearances was instituted by the Society for Psychical Research in 1882. The result was embodied in the Phantasms of the Living by Myers, Podmore and Gurney. It was published in 1886 after 5,705 persons, chosen at random, had been canvassed for eventual phantasmal visions within the previous 12 years. It concluded: "Between death and apparitions a connection exists not due to chance alone. This we hold a proved fact." As the scientific world did not consider the evidence of 702 accepted cases sufficient for such a momentous conclusion, an international statistical inquiry, called the Census of Hallucination, was decided upon in 1889. Thirty-two thousand answers were received, 17,000 in English. The report published in 1894 fills almost the whole of Volume X of the Proceedings. Chance coincidence was more powerfully ruled out than before and the previous conclusion has been confirmed. The enquiry of the American S.P.R. and the census of Flammarion have led to the same result.
The belief in apparitions is as old as humanity. But the scientific age has reduced the phantoms to human shapes. No more do we encounter accounts like Plutarch's of Brutus: "A little before he left Asia he was sitting alone in his tent, by a dim light, and at a late hour. The whole army lay in sleep and silence, while the general, wrapped in meditation, thought he perceived something enter his tent; turning towards the door he saw a horrible and monstrous spectre standing silently by his side. "What art thou" said he boldly. "Art thou God or man, and what is thy business with me?" The spectre answered, "I am thy evil genius, Brutus! Thou wilt see me at Philippi." To which he calmly replied, "I'll meet thee there." When the apparition was gone he called his servants, who told him they had neither heard any voice, nor seen any vision."
About the true nature of apparitions we do not know much. As Andrew Lang stated: "Only one thing is certain about apparitions, namely this that they do appear. They really are perceived." How are they seen? When Lord Adare submitted this question to the control of D. D. Home, he received the following answer "At times we make passes over the individual to cause him to see us, sometimes we make the actual resemblance of our former clothing, and of what we were, so that we appear exactly as we were known to you on earth; sometimes we project an image that you see, sometimes you see us as we are, with a cloud-like aura of light around us."
The perception is not restricted to the small hours of the night or to times of seclusion. It may occur at the most unexpected moments and publicly. A ghost in evening dress was seen one morning in a London street in 1878. The Daily Telegraph reported: "A woman fled in affright, the figure had a most cadaverous look, but the next person the apparition encountered recognized it as that of a friend, a foreigner." This next person was Dr. Armand Leslie. His friend was found dead in evening clothes in a foreign city at the time his phantasm was seen. However, occurrences like this are very rare. In the majority of cases there is some mediumistic intervention or some sufficiently potent driving motive to achieve the manifestation to non-sensitive people provided they happen to be in a receptive state. An instance of the first is Cromwell Varley's oft-quoted testimony before the London Dialectical Society in 1869: "In the Winter of 1864-5 I was busy with the Atlantic cable. I left a gentleman at Birmingham to test the iron wire. He had seen something of Spiritualism but he did not believe in it. He had had a brother whom I had never seen in life. One night in my room there were a great number of loud raps. When at length I sat up in bed I saw a man in the air-a spirit-in military dress. I could see the pattern of the paper on the wall through him. Mrs. Varley did not see it. She was in a peculiar state and became entranced. The spirit spoke to me through her. He told me his name and said that he had seen his brother in Birmingham but that what he had to communicate was not understood. He asked me to write a message to his brother, which I did, and received an answer from Birmingham "Yes, I know my brother has seen you, for he came to me and was able to make known as much." The spirit informed me that when at school in France he was stabbed. This fact was only known to his eldest surviving brother and his mother. When I narrated this to the survivor he turned very pale and confirmed it."
Why do they appear?
The driving motive is usually an urgent message of extreme danger, worry, illness or death on the part of the agent. But it is also often a warning of impending danger or death of someone closely connected to the percipient. The mode of delivery in the first group may disclose a confused, perturbed mentality. A phantom form may rush into a room and alarm the inhabitants by its sudden appearance or by the noises it makes. The purpose, nevertheless, is mostly clear and the apparition may come back more than once as if to make sure that the information of the fact of decease was duly understood. Sometimes more is conveyed, especially in cases of accidental or violent death. Successive pictures may arise as if in a vision of the state of the body or of subsequent steps taken in regard to it.
The announcement of death may be quite explicit as in the case of Proceedings S.P.R. Vol. X. p. 380-82 . "On June 5th, 1887, a Sunday evening, between eleven and twelve at night, being awake, my name was called three times. I answered twice, thinking it was my uncle, "Come in, Uncle George, I am awake," but the third time I recognized the voice as that of my mother, who had been dead sixteen years. I said "Mamma!" She then came round a screen near my bedside with two children in her arms, and placed them in my arms and put the bedclothes over them, and said "Lucy, promise me to take care of them, for their mother is just dead." I said "Yes, Mamma."
She repeated: "Promise me to take care of them." I replied "Yes, I promise you," and I added: "Oh, Mamma, stay and speak to me, I am so wretched." She replied: "Not yet, my child." Then she seemed to go round the screen again, and I remained, feeling the children to be still in my arms, and fell asleep. When I awoke, there was nothing. Tuesday morning, June 7th, I received the news of my sister-in-law's death. She had given birth to a child three weeks before which I did not know till after her death."
In a similar case a mother brought the news of the death of her grandson by drowning, the drowned man also appearing to the percipient. In an instance quoted by Flammarion in The Unknown, the percipient, whose brother was killed in the attack at Sedan awoke suddenly during the night and saw "opposite to the window and beside my bed my brother on his knees surrounded by a sort of luminous mist. I tried to speak to him but I could not. I jumped out of bed. I looked out of the window and I saw there was no moonlight. The night was dark and it was raining heavily, great drops pattering on the window panes. My poor Oliver was still there. Then I drew near. I walked right through the apparition. I reached my chamber door, and as I turned the knob to open I looked back once more. The apparition slowly turned its head towards me, and gave me another look full of anguish and love. Then for the first time I observed a wound on his right temple, and from it trickled a little stream of blood. The face was pale as wax, but it was transparent." A letter later received proved that the dead man had a wound corresponding to that shown by the apparition.
The warning of death is sometimes veiled. The type is well illustrated by the instance recorded by the A.S.P.R. of a commercial traveler who, in a distant city, had suddenly seen the phantasmal appearance of his sister, full of life and natural, with a bright red scratch on the right side of her face. Perturbed by the vision he immediately broke his journey. At home his mother nearly fainted when the scar was mentioned. Nobody knew of it. She had accidentally scratched her daughter's face after her death and carefully obliterated all the traces with powder. A few weeks later the mother died. But for the vision her son would not have seen her in life again. It is known that Josephine appeared to Napoleon at St. Helena and warned him of his approaching death-Mozart saw an apparition who ordered him to compose a Requiem and frequently came to inquire after its progress. The Requiem was completed just in 'time to be played at his own funeral.
The message is usually brief as if the power to convey it were limited. The apparition seems to be drawn to the spot by the personality of the percipient. The place may have been totally unknown to him when in life. It may be a boat on the open sea. When a picture, for instance, a scene in a death chamber, is presented, the alternative explanation of clairvoyance should be considered. In a curious group of cases images are seen instead of the lifelike figure. Miss Anna Blackwell testified to such an experience before the Dialectical Committee. The face of a beloved relative, like a life-size daguerrotype, appeared on a window pane of the house opposite to her window. It faded away several times, and appeared again. There seemed to be upon the pane a sort of dark iridescence out of which the face evolved, each appearance lasting about eight seconds, and each being darker and fainter than the preceding one. She also quoted the case of Mrs. M. G. who in the tortoise-shell handle of a new parasol saw the face of Charles Dickens soon after his death. The face was small but with every feature perfectly distinct; and as she gazed upon it in utter amazement, the eyes moved and the mouth smiled.
These images usually appear on polished surfaces. They may be seen by several people and they disappear after a while. In Vol. 11. of Phantasms of the Living there is recorded an apparition of this kind of Capt. Towns which was witnessed by eight people. His face was seen on the polished surface of a wardrobe six weeks after his death.
In seeing apparitions of the dead or the dying, the percipients often feel a chilliness. The phenomenon may be related to the cold air of the is also suggestive that in those cases sleep together and one suddenly wakes to see an apparition the other is in abnormally deep sleep.
Shackleton's experience, recorded in his book South, borders on abnormal perception: "I know that during that long and racking march of 36 hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me: "Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us." Crean confessed to the same idea. Being interviewed by the Daily Telegraph (February 1, 1922) on this point, he said: "None of us cares to speak about that. There are some things which can never be spoken of. Almost to hint about them comes perilously near sacrilege. This experience was eminently one of those things."
Apparitions may be accompanied by bright light. A case in the Proceedings of the American S.P.R. (Vol. I. p. 405) proves objectivity. A physician and his wife, sleeping in separate but adjoining rooms, were awakened by a bright light. The physician saw a figure, his wife got up and went into her husband's room to see what the light was. By that time the figure had disappeared. In the Rev. Tweedale's house the disappearance of a phantom on Nov. 14th, 1908, was accompanied by a big flash of light and a cloud of smoke which filled the kitchen and the passage. The smoke had no ordinary smell. On another occasion the figure touched and spoke to his wife, then dissolved into a pillar of black vapor.
There are some cases in which the apparition is behind the percipient yet clearly seen. Again, the phantom may appear quite solid yet objects may be seen beyond it. Occasionally it is a reflection only. Mrs. Scarle (Phantasms of the Living, Vol. 8. p. 35) fainted. Her husband saw her head and face white and bloodless about the same time in a looking glass upon a window opposite him.
Apparitions seen at death-beds are in a class of their own. In these so-called "meeting cases" it appears as if deceased friends, relatives would hasten to the borderland to extend a welcome to the dying.
"The dying person," writes Miss Frances Power Cobbe, in Peak in Darien, "is lying quietly, when suddenly, in the very act of expiring, he looks upsometimes starts up in bed-and gazes on what appears to be vacancy, with an expression of astonishment, sometimes developing instantly into joy, and sometimes cut short in the first emotion of solemn wonder and awe. If the dying man were to see some utterly-unexpected but instantly recognized vision, causing him great surprise, or rapturous joy, his face could not better reveal the fact. The very instant this phenomenon occurs, Death is actually taking place, and the eyes glaze even while they gaze at the unknown sight."
There are numbers of cases on record to prove that such supernormal perception and death are not always simultaneous. "Among all the facts adduced to prove survival these seem to me to be the most disquieting," writes Professor Richet who tries to explain all the spiritistic facts by his theory of cryptesthesia. Hallucination is effectively barred out by those cases in which others in the room also perceive the phantom forms but there is sufficient evidence for a genuine phenomenon if the person was not known to be dead to the dying at the moment of perception, or if independent evidence comes forth to prove that the perception was veridical. A striking illustration of the latter instance is the case of Elisa Mannors whose near relatives and friends, concerned in the communications received through Mrs. Piper, were known to Dr. Hodgson. His account (Proc. S.P.R. Vol. XIII. p. 378) says:
"The notice of his (F., an uncle of Elisa Mannors) death was in a Boston morning paper, and I happened to see it on my way to the sitting. The first writing of the sitting came from Madame Elisa, without my expecting it. She wrote clearly and strongly, explaining that F. was there with her, but unable to speak directly, that she wished to give me an account of how she had helped F. to reach her. She said that she had been present at his deathbed, and had spoken to him, and she repeated what she had said, an unusual form of expression, and indicated that he had heard and recognized her. This was confirmed in detail in the only way possible at the time, by a very intimate friend of Mme. Elisa and myself, and also of the nearest surviving relative of F. I showed my friend the account of the sitting, and to this friend, a day or two later, the relative, who was present at the deathbed, stated spontaneously that F. when dying said that he saw Madame Elisa who was speaking to him, and he repeated what she was saying. The expression so repeated, which the relative quoted to my friend, was that which I had received from Madame Elisa through Mrs. Piper's trance when the death-bed incident was, of course, entirely unknown to me."
As Ernesto Bozzano points out, a curious feature of these visions is that the dying only claim to see deceased persons, whereas, if his thoughts alone would be concerned in it, he might be expected to see living persons as frequently as deceased ones. Again, even people who have been skeptical of survival all their life sometimes have given evidence of such visions. The effect on those who witness such rending of the veil is very dramatic. Dr. Wilson of New York who was present at the death of the well-known American tenor, Mr. James Moore, wrote:
"Then something which I shall never forget to my dying day happened, something which is utterly indescribable. While he appeared perfectly rational and as sane as any man I have ever seen, the only way that I can express it is that he was transported into another world, and although I cannot satisfactorily explain the matter to myself, I am fully convinced that he, had entered the Golden City-for he said in a stronger voice than he had used since I had attended him: 'There is Mother. Why, Mother, have you come here to see me? No, no, I'm coming to see you. Just wait, Mother, I am almost over. I can jump it. Wait, Mother.' On his face there was a look of inexpressible happiness, and the way in which he said the words impressed me as I have never been before, and I am as firmly convinced that he saw and talked with his mother as I am that I am sitting here."
In his Psychic Facts and Theories, Dr. Minot J. Savage quotes the following well authenticated instance in which the death in question was not known to the dying:
"In a neighboring city were two little girls, Jennie and Edith, one about eight years of age, and the other but a little older. They were schoolmates and intimate friends. In June, 1889, both were taken ill with diphtheria. At noon on Wednesday Jennie died. Then the parents of Edith, and her physician as well, took particular pains to keep from her the fact that her little playmate was gone. They feared the effect of the knowledge on her own condition. To prove that they succeeded and that she did not know, it may be mentioned that on Saturday, June 8th, at noon, just before she became unconscious of all that was passing about her, she selected two of her photographs to be sent to Jennie, and also told her attendants to bid her goodbye. She died at half-past six o'clock on the evening of Saturday, June 8th. She had roused and .bidden her friends goodbye, and was talking of dying and seemed to have no fear. She appeared to see one and another of the friends she knew were dead. So far it was like the common cases. But now suddenly, and with every appearance of surprise, she turned to her father and exclaimed Why, papa, I am going to take Jennie with me! Then she added "Why, papa, why, papa, you did not tell me that Jennie was here." And immediately she reached out her arms as if in welcome, and said: "Oh, Jennie, I am so glad you are here ... . . . .
Stainton Moses is quoted by Prof. Richet as the source of the following case: Miss H., the daughter of an English clergyman, was tending a dying child. His little brother aged three to four years, was in a little bed in the same room. As the former was dying, the child woke up, and, pointing to the ceiling with every expression of joy, said: "Mother, look at the beautiful ladies round my brother. How lovely they are, they want to take him." The elder child died at that moment.
There is a group of cases in which only some sort of a presence is felt or a cloud of depression experienced which becomes instantly relieved when the actual news of death arrives. Phenomena of sound are often recorded in place of a visual apparition. Sometimes they attempt to prove identity, imitating the professional work of the departed, for instance the work in a carpenter's shop. They differ from Poltergeist phenomena as the latter do not coincide with death.
If no definite message is conveyed, the apparition may be explained by a continued interest in earthly occupations. The spirit apparently cannot adjust himself immediately to his new surroundings, he may be seen for a while in his favorite haunts or at his usual work, being somehow enabled, when recently freed from the body, to enjoy a fuller perception of earthly scenes than it is afterwards possible to retain.
Knowledge and memory are the two main characteristics of after-death apparitions. Local apparitions which are attached to no persons usually degenerate into mere spectral automatons, as witnessed in haunted houses. Somewhat similar, yet belonging to a different class, is a case of apparitions en masse reported by Mrs. Sidgwick in Proceedings S.P.R. Vol. III. p. 76: "Two ladies, Mrs. F. and her sister, saw in the street during a thick fog numerous human forms passing by. Some were tall persons who seemed to enter the body of one of the two sisters. The servant who was with the two ladies cried out in terror. In this crowd of phantoms there were men, women and dogs. The women wore high bonnets and large shawls of old fashion. Their faces were livid and cadaverous. The whole phantasmal troop accompanied Mrs. F. and her sister about three hundred yards. Sometimes they seemed to be lit up by a kind of yellow light. When Mrs. F., her sister and the servant reached their home, only one single individual of the crowd, taller than the others and hideous in appearance, remained. He then disappeared also." Prolonged apparitions are very rare, and possibly serve some deeper purpose as in the case of the sailor Spring, who saw beside him on his ship during a storm, his father on the bridge for two hours. The message of the apparition is, as a rule, simple and appears to be chosen intelligently in the form which may best suit the percipient's power of understanding. An apparition with empty eye sockets perceived by a sailor's wife, the sound of a terrific storm, the image of a coffin conveys the intended message nearly as efficiently as the spoken words. The percipient appears to be curiously receptive in such moments and seldom exhibits astonishment at the most unlikely things.
Death-compacts offer another fruitful field of study. There are cases on record when the apparition concerned was perceived not after death but before, at the moment of a dangerous accident. In Phantasms of the Living there are 12 such cases recorded, the apparition having appeared within twelve hours of the death. In three cases the agent was still alive. It appears as if such a compact would act effectively both on the subconscious before death and on the spirit after death. How long the efforts as a result of such a compact may continue we cannot tell. It is usually fulfilled shortly after death, but in some cases after years. The living party to the compact may not be sufficiently sensitive to be successfully impressed and others may see a phantom of the departed much sooner than he.
The genesis of apparitions
Are apparitions objective, produced in space, or are they subjectively seen as the result of a telepathic impact from the agent? This is the crux of the problem. The answer is a qualified one as the subjective nature of the apparition is often unquestionable. Helen Smith wrote to Prof. Flournoy in 1926 of an Italian spiritualist from whom she received a letter. She decided to ask him for details of his life. Suddenly, she heard a knock at the door, three sharp and distinct raps, the door opened and she saw a man, holding in each hand a small wickerwork basket, containing grain of different kinds. He made a sign, inviting her attention to the baskets. Two minutes afterwards he disappeared. The door was found shut. After sending off the intended letter, a photograph came, the exact reproduction of the man seen, with the information that the writer was a dealer in corn still living in Genoa.
The objectivity of any apparition could best be decided by the means of the camera. Circumstances, however, are very seldom such that would make possible the acquisition of such evidence. There is, however, a well authenticated case, furnished by the Rev. Charles L. Tweedale, Vicar of Weston. He photographed in the breakfast room of the vicarage an old man who was clairvoyantly seen by Mrs. Tweedale. The photographs obtained by spirit photographers belong to a different class as there is no perceptible apparition during the process.
Nevertheless the photograph of the Combermere ghost demands consideration here. Lady C. had taken for a summer Lord Combermere's country house, Combermere Abbey, in Cheshire. The library in the house was a fine paneled room and the new tenant was anxious to secure a photograph of it. Accordingly, placing her half-plate camera on its stand in a favorable position-fronting the unoccupied carved oak arm chair on which Lord Combermere always used to sit-she opened a new box of photographic plates in the dark room, put a plate in the dark slide, and after focussing the, camera, inserted and exposed the plate. On developing the plate by herself, she was amazed to find the figure of a leg-less old man seated in the carved oak arm chair. The curious coincidence that Lord Combermere was buried a few miles from his country house at the very time the photograph was taken led to the surmise whether the ghostly figure resembled the late nobleman. Opinions of the family differed but on the whole it was considered to be like him, especially in the peculiar attitude which was habitual to him when seated in his chair. But Sir William Barrett who investigated the case and reported on it in the Journal S.P.R., December, 1895, was not satisfied. Working on the theory that a man servant may have come in and seated himself in the chair he took a test photograph and got a picture which was almost a duplicate of the Combermere photograph. With this the matter was ended but-as he tells in On the Threshold of the Unseen-some time later he received a letter from Lord Combermere's daughter-in-law in which she said:
"The face was always too indistinct to be quite convincing to me, though some of his children had no doubt at all of the identity. I may add, none of the men servants in the house in the least resembled the figure and were all young men; whilst the outside men were all attending the funeral, which was taking place at the Church four miles off, at the very time the photograph was being done."
This testimony induced Sir William Barrett to change his opinion.
The question whether an objective apparition is simply an effigy or the actual presence of whom it represents is satisfactorily settled in J. N. Maskelyne's account of a drowning experience of his (M.A.P., April 22nd, 1899) He said: "One thing, however, did appear to my mental vision as plainly as though it were actually before my eyes. That was the form of my mother, engaged upon her household duties. Upon returning home, I was utterly astonished to find that she had been as conscious of my danger as I had been, and at the moment when I was so near death." It seems that when his past life flashed by in the moment of drowning the last thoughts of Maskelyne dwelt on his mother with the effect that he found his mental self gazing at her. Many other apparitions may be simply thought forms, reflections of intense mental anguish experienced in some time past in certain places which are now called haunted or, as Myers suggested, they may be visible dreams of the dead.
Gurney, writing in 1888, believed that there are three conditions which might establish a presumption that an apparition or other immediate manifestation of a dead person is something more than a subjective hallucination. Either (1) more persons than one might be independently affected by the phenomenon, or (2) the phantasm might convey information, afterwards discovered to be true, of something which the percipient had never known; or (3) the appearance might be that of a person whom the percipient himself had never seen, and of whose aspect he was ignorant, and yet his description of it might be sufficiently definite for identification. Gurney also noted that the high number of phantasmal appearances shortly after death is also very suggestive as the calculation of probabilities for telepathic impressions from the living would not result in such a disproportionate number. The telepathic explanation of apparitions presents many difficulties. One has to suppose that a dying man can visualize himself and his condition sufficiently clearly to project a telepathic image as distinctly as perceived. It is also strange that intense concentration at such critical moments should result in the transmission of an image of oneself and not on the reverse, in the perception of the person in the mind of the dying. In experimental thought transference it is always the idea on which the agent concentrates that is perceived by the percipients. On the other hand in the projection-of-the-double experiments the agent always concentrates on the person to whom he wishes to appear and not on himself. But again in such cases the agent often sees the percipient and brings back an account which can be subsequently verified. This speaks for the real presence of the agent and for the insufficiency of the telepathic impact theory.
Apparently the telepathic impulse is first registered on the unconscious part of the mind. If so, the impression may be latent for a time. Strong preoccupation of the conscious mind with the business of life may prevent its emergence. This would explain why the vision of an apparition does not always coincide in time with the actual happening. In Phantasms of the Living such deferred telepathic perceptions are admitted within a period of 12 hours. On the other hand, the theory does not bar out the other, that there is an actual presence which does not always find the mind of the percipient sufficiently receptive to take cognition. Reciprocal perceptions are also on record. The telepathic theory has to be twisted and modified to cover the wide range of supernormal perceptions. In case of accidental death, the apparition is sometimes seen at the moment of death, sometimes after it. Does the mind transform the picture of deadly danger into a picture of death? If this were true we would come across many cases in which the vision of death w as premature as the accident did not prove fatal. Again, in cases of suicides the apparition is often found to precede the actual commission of the act. It would seem very credible that brooding over the fatal act and its possible effect on close relations produces a telepathic image. By all means, the telepathic theory would account for the clothes worn by the ghosts and would eliminate suggestions as that of d'Assier of the ghosts of garments. But it meets with difficulties in cases when animals are stricken with terror and when they register alarm before the man suspects anything unusual. The greatest stumbling block in the way of the telepathic theory, as an all-inclusive explanation, is presented by those cases in which the apparition is collectively perceived. Gurney attempted to explain these cases by a fresh telepathic transmission which takes place from the percipient's mind to the mind of his neighbors. This theory is obviously inadequate. There is nothing to prove its possibility. The hallucinations of the insane or the visions seen in delirium tremens are never communicated to those around them. Why should such a communication take place in cases of apparitions, coinciding with the death of someone distant? What happened when the percipient appeared to have traveled to a distant scene and he was actually perceived there? As early as 1885 Myers began to feel the insufficiency of the telepathic theory. Gurney himself, by the time he died, was convinced of the veridical character of many an apparition. The trance phenomena of Mrs. Piper led Myers to the belief that the evidence for communications from the departed is quite as strong as for telepathic communication between the living. Still, there remained a large number of phantasmal manifestations that even communication from the departed could not explain. So Myers worked out a theory of psychical invasion, the creation of a "Phantasmogenetic center" in the percipient's surroundings by some dissociated elements of the agent's personality which in some way are potent enough to affect and modify space. He considered it a subliminal operation, resembling the continuous dream-life which he supposed to run concurrently with the waking life, not necessarily a profound incident but rather a special idiosyncrasy on the part of the agent which tends to make his phantasm easily visible. From the Greek he coined the word "psychorrhagy" which means "to let the soul break loose." He believed he had discovered a new physiological fact, the psychorrhagic diathesis, essentially a psychical manifestation by some people born with an ability to produce phantasmogenetic effect either on the mind of another person or on a portion of space, in which case several persons may simultaneously discern the phantasm.
This theory is most important. It is a half-way house between telepathy and the double of the living or the astral self of the dead. The supposition of the double easily explains many an apparition of the living: the "arrival cases" where a man's attention is fixed on his return home, the cases in which there is a strong link of emotion between agent and percipient and the phantom is collectively or repeatedly seen; but there is a residue of phantasmal apparitions in which the theory of the double offers no satisfactory explanation. The case of Canon Bourne, in the Journal of S.P.R., Vol. VI. p. 129 is a very good instance. It is told by Miss L. Bourne as follows: "On February 5th, 1887, my father, sister, and I went out hunting. About the middle of the day my sister and I decided to return home with the coachman, while my father went on. Somebody came and spoke to us, and delayed us for a few moments. As we were turning to go home, we distinctly saw my father, waving his hat to us and signing us to follow him. He was on the side of a small hill, and there was a dip between him and us. My sister, the coachman and myself all recognized my father, and also the horse. The horse looked so dirty and shaken that the coachman remarked he thought there had been a nasty accident. As my father waved his hat I clearly saw the Lincoln and Bennett mark inside, though from the distance we were apart it ought to have been utterly impossible for me to have seen it. At the time I mentioned seeing the mark in the hat, though the strangeness of seeing it did not strike me till afterwards.
"Fearing an accident, we hurried down the hill. From the nature of the ground we had to lose sight of my father, but it took us very few seconds to reach the place where we had seen him. When we got there, there was no sign of him anywhere, nor could we see anyone in sight at all. We rode about for some time looking for him, but could not see or hear anything of him. We all reached home within a quarter of an hour of each other. My father then told us he had never been in the field, nor near the field, in which we thought we saw him, the whole of that day. He had never waved to us, and had met with no accident. My father was riding the only white horse that was out that day.
Myers believes that Canon Bourne was subliminally dreaming of himself as having had a fall, and as beckoning to his daughters, an incoherent dream but of quite ordinary type. Being born with the psychorrhagic diathesis a certain psychical element so far detached itself from his organism as to affect a certain portion of space near the daughters of whom he was thinking, to effect it not materially nor even optically, but yet in such a manner that to a certain kind of immaterial and non-optical sensitivity a phantasm of himself and his horse became discernible.
Myers suggested that hauntings by departed spirits may be similarly explained and that the modification of space into a phantasmogenetic center applies to a phantasmal voice as well.
If this alteration of space is more than a theory it may theoretically happen, so Myers thought, that a bystander may discern the alteration more clearly than the person for whose benefit it was made or that the bystander alone may perceive it. Such seems to be the case of Frances Reddell quoted in Phantasms of the Living, Vol. 1. p. 214: "Helen Alexander (maid to Lady Waldegrave) was lying here very ill with typhoid fever, and was attended by me. I was standing at the table by her bedside, pouring out her medicine, at about 4 o'clock in the morning of the 4th October, 1880. I heard the call bell ring (this had been heard twice before during the night in that same week) and was attracted by the door of the room opening, and by seeing a person entering the room whom I instantly felt to be the mother of the sick woman. She had a brass candlestick in her hand, a red shawl over her shoulder, and a flannel petticoat on which had a hole in the front. I looked at her as much as to say "I am glad you have come" but the woman looked at me sternly, as much as to say "Why wasn't I sent for before?" I gave the medicine to Helen Alexander and then turned round to speak to the vision, but no one was there. She had gone. She was a short, dark person, and very stout. At about 6 o'clock that morning Helen Alexander died. Two days after her parents and a sister came to Antony, and arrived between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning; I and another maid let them in, and it gave me a great turn when I saw the living likeness of the vision I had seen two nights before. I told the sister about the vision, and she said that the description of the dress exactly answered to her mother's, and that they had brass candlesticks at home exactly like the one described. There was not the slightest resemblance between the mother and daughter."
The account was corroborated. Myers believes the vision was meant for the daughter by the mother who, in her anxiety paid her a psychical visit and affected part of the space with an image corresponding to the conception of her own aspect latent in her mind. A bystander, a susceptible person, happened to see the image while the girl for whom it was meant died without leaving a sign of having perceived it.
A still more curious but, according to Myers, similarly explainable case is the sailor's (Phantasms of the Living, Vol II. p. 144) who, watching by a dying comrade, saw figures around his hammock, apparently representing the dying man's family, in mourning garb. The family, it was found out, was alarmed by noises which they took as indication of danger to the dying. According to Myers the wife paid a psychical visit to her husband. The mourning garb and the figures of the children were symbolical expressions of her thought that her children will be orphans.
Would the alteration of space theory account for changes in physical objects? Myers is silent on this point. Andrew Lang considers it crucial. For if an apparition can thump, open a door or pull a curtain, it must be a ghost, real, objective entity, filling space. Per contra, "no ghost who does not do this has any strict legal claim to be regarded as other than a telepathic hallucination at best." The statement is rather severe in view of his quotation from Dr. Binn's Anatomy of Sleep of the case of the gentleman who, in a dream, pushed so strongly against a door in a distant house that they hardly could hold it against him.
Apparitions may be produced experimentally by the projection of the double or powerful suggestion. The first attempts in the latter class are recorded from Germany in H. M. Wesermanns' Der Magnetismus und die Allgemeine Weltsprache, Creveld, 1822. On four occasions he succeeded in inducing four separate acquaintances to dream on matters suggested by himself. On the fifth occasion he produced a collective apparition. The subject and a friend who happened to be in his company saw, in the waking state, the apparition of a woman in accordance with the operator's suggestion.
Frank Podmore, the most ardent champion of the telepathic theory of apparitions, gives a case of a most interesting failure to induce a vision in dream. The agent desired that a certain lieutenant should see a lady who had been dead five years, in his dreams. Instead of this, the apparition was seen by the lieutenant and a companion of his while they were wide awake. The door, while they were conversing, suddenly opened and the lady entered. She was dressed in white, head uncovered, and she smilingly bowed to the young lieutenant three times, passed through the doorway and disappeared.
For other types of apparitions, see Materialization and Transfiguration
Bibliography: John Beaumont: Treatise of Spirits, Apparitions, Witches, etc., 1705; Andrew Moreton: The Secrets of the Invisible World Disclosed, or a Universal History of Apparitions, Sacred and Profane, 1729; Anon: An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions, 1727; Don Augustin Calmet: Dissertations upon the Apparitions of Angels, Demons and Ghosts, 1759; The Phantom World, 1850; Anon.: The Secrets of the Invisible World Laid Open, 1770; John Tregortha: News from the Invisible World, 1813; S. Hibbert: Sketches of the Philosophy of Apparitions, 1825; The Unseen World, 1847; Catherine Crowe: The Nightside of Nature, 1848; Ghosts and Family Legends, 1859; N. Crossland: Apparitions, 1856; Rev. B. W. Saville: Apparitions, 1874; Rev. Wrey Savile: Apparitions, A Narrative of Facts, 1874; Frances Power Cobbe: The Peak in Darien, 1881; Rev. J. S. Pollock: Dead and Gone; Gurney, Meyers and Podmore: Phantasms of the Living, 1886; Frank Podmore: Apparitions and Thought Transference, 1894, The New View of Ghosts; W. T. Stead: Real Ghost Stories, 1897; Andrew Lang: Book of Dreams and Ghosts, 1898; Hamlin Garland: The Shadow World, 1908; Camille Flammarion: Death and its Mystery, I. II., and 111., 1922-23; Ernesto Bozzano: Phenomenes Psychique au Moment de la Mort, 1923; E. 0. Donnell: Ghostly Phenomena; Ghosts Helpful and Harmful, Byways and Highways of Ghostland; Animal Ghosts; 1913; Confessions of a Ghost Hunter, 1928; Werewolves; Dudley Wright: Vampires and vampirism, 1914; Frank Hamel: Human Animals, 1915; H. Carrington: True Ghost Stories, 1915; Violet Tweedale: Ghosts I Have Seen, 1920; W. F. Barrett: Death Bed Visions, 1926; A. 0. Eaves: Vampirism; Dr. Edward H. Clarke: Visions; J. W. Wickwar: The Ghost World; Mrs. joy Snell: The Ministry of Angels; Richard Pike: Life's Borderland and Beyond.
APPORTS, arrival of various objects through an apparent penetration of matter. This is one of the most baffling phenomena of spiritualism. The objects differ in size, may be both inanimate and living and appear none the worse for their strange journey. The phenomena was first observed by Dr. G. P. Billot. In Recherches psychologique ou correspondence sur le magnetisme vital entre un Solitaire et M. Deleuze, Paris, 1839, he describes a seance of March 5th, 1819 with three somnambules and a blind woman and says: "Towards the middle of the seance, one of the seeresses exclaimed: ' There is the Dove, it is white as snow, it is flying about the room with something in its beak, it is a piece of paper. Let us pray.' A few moments later she added: ' See, it has let the paper drop at the feet of Madame J.' Dr. Billot saw a paper packet at the spot indicated. He found in it three small pieces of bone glued on to small strips of paper, with the words: "St. Maxime, St. Sabine and Many Martyrs" written beneath the fragments.
With the same blind woman on October 27th, 1820, he witnessed flower apports. Deleuze, to whom Dr. Billot communicated his experience in 1830, answered that he had just received a visit from a distinguished physician who had had similar experiences. His somnambule, however, never professed to have interviews with spirits. Deleuze suggested that magnetic power might better explain the phenomena than the intervention of spirits.
In the history of the curious occurrences in the household of Dr. Larkin of Wrentham, Mass., around his servant girl, Mary Jane, about 1844, it is recorded: "On one occasion, the whole family being assembled round the couch of the magnetised sleeper and every door being shut, a heavy flat-iron, last seen in the kitchen -quite a distance away-was suddenly placed in their midst, and, at the request of Mrs. Larkin, as suddenly disappeared, and was next found in the kitchen, every door of communication having remained closed."
The apport of a white dove into "The Olive Branch of Peace" circle of Boston was attested, in the early years of American spiritualism, in an account published in the New Era by eleven respectable citizens of Boston. The room was hermetically sealed for 24 hours previous to the promised presentation. In quoting this and similar accounts in her Modern American Spiritualism, Emma Hardinge remarks on the singular docility of apported birds and says: "Numerous other instances can he cited in which spirits have manifested their power of influencing birds with a degree of readiness and intelligence as unaccountable as it is interesting."
Theories of Explanation
Ever since, the dove has remained a favorite apport object of the invisible operators. The average apport manifestation, however, is less impressive, though, from the viewpoint of experimental research, the appearance of the smallest object in a closed space to which there is no normal access is of immense import. Unfortunately, the number of observations under strict test conditions is few and far between, and psychical research must classify the phenomenon among the least attested ones. The chief reason is that the phenomenon itself is exceptional and is considered such a violation of scientific reason that even those few great minds who admit the phenomena of materialization as genuine, fight shy of it.
There are two theories on which the phenomena of apport may be brought within understanding. One is the fourth dimension and the other, now generally favored by spiritualists, the disintegration and reintegration of the apported objects. The former was first advocated by Professor Zollner to explain the phenomenon of interpenetration of matter which he observed with Henry Slade. It was -approved of by Lombroso and Flammarion and is at present endorsed by Whately Smith in England and Malcolm Bird in America. It means that there is a higher form of space of which we are not cognizant. The objects to be apported are lifted into this dimension, brought to the desired spot and then precipitated into our three-dimensional space much as we can lift out something which is enclosed in a circle and place it outside. For two dimensional beings, that only know of length and breadth, and live in a plane, this act of ours would constitute a wonderful apport-phenomenon. The other theory was put forward in seance room communications. According to this, the spirits, by an act of will-power, disintegrate the matter to be transported into its molecular elements without altering the form. In this state the object may pass through the interstices of intervening matter and become re-integrated by a second act of will-power. Rend Sudre's construction that the medium's mind works upon a molecular scale, so that it can dematerialize and rematerialize objects at ordinary temperatures, amounts, in effect, to the same thing. This theory essentially means that there is another, to us unknown, aggregation of matter. Beyond the solid, liquid and gaseous state is a fourth, fluidic state in which matter becomes invisible, impalpable and possesses, conjointly with an expansion of volume, great molecular malleability. From various observations one would have to suppose that the state is one of inertia and that it requires strong thermo-dynamic efforts on the part of the operators to effect the return to the former solid state.
If the disintegration theory is correct, in consonance with the law of the transmutation of energy, a thermic reaction should be looked for. It appears indeed to be a fact that such a reaction exists. Stone and metallic apports, especially bigger objects, are burning or scorching hot on arrival. This sudden increase of heat was often noticed by Prof. Zöllner in the passage of matter through matter. Some objects are nevertheless found cold. In answer the invisible operators replied that they sometimes prefer to disintegrate a portion of the wood of the door or part of the ceiling to facilitate the entrance of the object in its original state. One would have to suppose that this is the procedure employed when living things are brought in. The problem, however, is not quite settled. Some spirit operators do not claim unobstructed passage of matter through matter. They say a fissure, or a crack is required for a dematerialized object to pass through. Dr. Ochorowitz received this explanation through Mlle. Tomczyk. It is very significant that the apport of a key was described by her as something long and whitish. It did not become a key with its peculiar color and shape until it dropped. She also stated in trance that metals become hot because of the friction of the particles in contracting it again. Paper, leather or wood are not sensibly heated because they are not so hard and dense. In darkness an apport can be accomplished without dematerialization if the passage is free. In this case the spirit hand holding it must be solidified. In light the object has to be dematerialized. There is one instance on record which fairly bears out the disintegration and re-integration theory. To quote Ernesto Bozzano, (Luce e Ombra, August-October, 1927): "In March, 1904, in a sitting in the house of Cavaliere Peretti, in which the medium was an intimate friend of ours, gifted with remarkable physical medium-ship, and with whom apports could be obtained at command, I begged the communicating spirit to bring me a small block of pyrites which was lying on my writing-table about two kilometres (over a mile) away. The spirit replied (by the mouth of the entranced medium) that the power was almost exhausted, but that all the same he would make the attempt. Soon after the medium sustained the usual spasmodic twitchings which signified the arrival of an apport, but without hearing the fall of any object on the table, or on the floor. We asked for an explanation from the spirit operator, who informed us that although he had managed to disintegrate a portion of the object desired, and had brought it into the room, there was not enough power for him to be able to re-integrate it. He added "Light the light." We did so, and found, to our great surprise, that the table, the clothes and hair of the sitters, as well as the furniture and carpet of the room, were covered with the thinnest layer of brilliant impalpable pyrites. When I returned home after the sitting I found the little block of pyrites lying on my writing table from which a large fragment, about one third of the whole piece, was missing, this having been scooped out of the block."
Again, as an instance speaking for the fourth dimensional explanation, it is mentioned by Malcolm Bird that Walter, the control of Margery, cracked a joke at his expense during the Boston investigation on behalf of the Scientific American and promised to get a mate for "Birdie." On November 26th, 1923, a live carrier pigeon, showing no resemblance to the pigeons found freely about Boston, appeared in the closed dining room of the house. Walter when previously asked where he would deposit the living apport answered "I can't say, I have to take a run and leap, and I can't tell where I shall land."
Apports in the course of arrival
One may expect that sometimes the circumstances of the arrival of the apport would be noticed. This has indeed happened. A pair of modest earrings, a present from the spirit guide to the Marchioness Centurione Scotto, was seen to arrive in the Millesimo seances as described: "We all saw the trumpet (having a phosphorescent band) rise towards the ceiling and turn upside down so as to place the large end uppermost, then we heard something fall heavily into the trumpet, as though the object had dropped from the ceiling."
The arrival of a jar of ointment in full visibility is recorded in Rev. C. L. Tweedale's Man's Survival After Death. He writes: "Sunday, 13th November, 1910. Mother had sustained a cut on the head, and she, my wife, and I were all in the dining room at 9.20 p.m. We were all close together, mother seated in a chair, self and wife standing. No one else was in the room. My wife was in the act of parting mother's hair with her fingers to examine the cut and I was looking on. At that instant I happened to raise my eyes and I saw something issue from a point close to the ceiling in the corner of the room over the window, and distant from my wife (who had her back to it) three and a quarter yards, and four and a quarter yards from myself, facing it. It shot across the room close to the ceiling and struck the wall over the piano, upon which it then fell, making the strings vibrate, and so on to the floor on which it rolled. I ran and picked it up, and found, to my astonishment, that it was a jar of ointment which mother used specially for cuts and bruises, and which she kept locked up in her wardrobe. The intention was evident, the ointment was for the wound. I saw it come apparently through the wall, near the ceiling, and this with no one within three and a quarter yards of the place. The room is over nine feet high and was brilliantly lighted by a 100 candlepower lamp, and the door and window were shut, the latter fastened, and incapable of being opened from the outside."
Rev. Tweedale records several other similar observations. "We were talking about the mysterious disappearance of the keys. Suddenly I saw something bright coming swiftly through the air from the direction of the corner opposite the door and high up towards the ceiling, and so from that part of the room where there is neither door, nor window, nor any opening in the wall. The bright thing rushed through the air and struck my wife on the coil of hair at the back of her head. It came with such a force that it bounced from her head to a distance of nearly three and a half yards from where she stood. My wife uttered a loud cry of alarm ' due to the shock and surprise, but owing to the thick mass of hair intervening, she was not hurt in the least. I instantly ran and picked the object up, when, to our amazement, we found it was the bunch of keys missed from my mother's pocket since noon, and of which we had been talking when they were thus projected into the room."
"On another occasion (17th January 1911) a shower of articles came apparently through the ceiling and fell upon the tea-table, in the presence of six witnesses, and in good light. On 11th November, 1913, a stick three feet ten inches long came slowly through the solid plaster ceiling in presence of my daughter Marjorie and the servant, in full lamplight, and fell on the table, leaving no trace of its passage; and again, on 29th January, 1911, a solid article came apparently through the ceiling in our bedroom, in presence of myself and wife, in broad daylight, and slowly descended on to the pillow. All these objects proved to be objective and real when we came to pick them up."
Writing of an earlier occurrence the Rev. Tweedale says:
"At 2 p.m. the door once more opened, and from the top of the door there shot a long stream of white cloudy stuff. This was projected towards mother, who was lying in bed, the distance from the door to her pillow being four and a quarter yards. This extraordinary phenomenon looked like a tube of cloudy material and floated in the air. As it drew near to mother's pillow it slowed down, and when close to her she shrank away from it. At this moment something dropped from the end of the tube, which was close to her, on to the pillow, and the tube of cloudy material then floated back to the top of the door and vanished. Thinking that the article which had dropped from it was a ball of wool, mother picked it up, and found to her amazement that it was an egg. She instantly sprang to the door, but found no one upstairs."
Dr. Dusart and Dr. Broquet saw a lump of sugar dissolve and disappear instantaneously, and immediately afterwards reappear in the seance room (Compte Rendu du Congres Spirite de 1902, p. 187).
Henry Sausse in his Des Preuves? En Voila observed many instances of his medium forming her hand into a cup, in trance and in full light, in the cavity of which a small cloud was seen to form, transforming itself instantly into a small spray of roses, with flowers, buds and leaves complete.
The gradual progress of an apported object was recorded by Stainton Moses in his account of Aug. 28, 1872. "In the dining room there was a little bell. We heard it commence to ring, and could trace it by its sound as it approached the door which separated us from it. What was our astonishment when we found that, in spite of the closed door, the sound drew nearer to us. It was evidently within the room in which we sat, for the bell was carried round the room, ringing loudly the whole time. After completing the circuit of the room, it was brought down, passed under the table, coming up close to my elbow. It was finally placed upon the table."
One must suppose that in this case a hole must have been made through the door to open a free passage to the bell. Naturally, the disintegration should not be conceived in the same sense as atomic disintegration is considered. Otherwise we would have to ask with Whately Smith what becomes of the enormous quantity of energy which must be liberated, how is it prevented from being dissipated and how is it collected again and recondensed into matter. He can see only one way out, to suppose that in some mysterious manner the liberated energy is stored in a reservoir, so to speak, which is not situated in our space at all. This leads him back to the fourth dimensional theory. The speculation cannot be easily dismissed as we know little about the actual process of dematerialization and recondensation. The operators sometimes speak of the difficulties, they have to overcome. "I wanted to bring you a photograph in its frame with the glass but I cannot manage it. I will bring it to you without the glass "-says Cristo d'Angelo in the seance of July 8, 1928, at Millesimo. Another time a large ivy plant, about one meter fifty centimeters in height, was apported in three parts. First came the earth, then the plant with clods sticking to it and finally the pot. The operators could not manage the three things at once. That preparation in advance is often necessary seems to be suggested by similar experiences in Mme. DEsperance's mediumship.
The wonders of flower, fruit and living apports. The flower apports of Yolande, Mme. d'Esperance's control, were generally very impressive. On her instructions white sand and plenty of water were always held in readiness in the cabinet. On August 4, 1880, in the presence of William Oxley of Manchester, she directed Mr. Reimers to pour sand into a water-carafe which he did until it was about half full. Then he was instructed to pour in water. Yolande took it, placed it on the floor, covering it lightly with the drapery which she took from her shoulders. The circle was directed to sing. While singing they observed the drapery to be rising from the rim of the carafe. Yolande several times came out of the cabinet to examine the thing growing under the drapery. Finally she raised the drapery altogether and disclosed a perfect plant, its roots firmly grown and packed in the sand. She presented it to Oxley. Through raps, instructions were given not to discuss the matter but sing something and be quiet. They obeyed. More raps came and told them to examine the plant again. To their great surprise they observed a large circular head of bloom ' forming a flower fully five inches in diameter which had opened itself, while the plant stood on the floor at Mr. Oxley's feet. The plant was 22 inches in height, having a thick woody stem which filled the neck of the water carafe. It had 29 leaves, each smooth and glossy. It was impossible to remove the plant from the water bottle, the neck being too small to allow the roots to pass; indeed the comparatively slender stem entirely filled the orifice. The plant was a native of India, an "Ixora Crocata." It had some years of growth. "We could see where other leaves had grown and fallen off, and wound-marks which seemed to have healed and grown over long ago. But there was every evidence to show that the plant had grown in the sand in the bottle as the roots were naturally wound around the inner surface of the glass, all the fibres perfect and unbroken as though they had germinated on the spot and had apparently never been disturbed." The plant was photographed. It lived for three months under the care of Mr. Oxley's gardener and then shriveled up.
It was a favorite feat of Yolande to put a glass of water into the hand of one of her particular friends and tell him to watch it. She would then hold her slender tapered fingers over the glass and while her eyes were closely scrutinizing the water within it a flower would form itself upon it and fill the glass.
Patterns of ferns were often handed to her. She always matched them with others to please the sitters. Roses were frequently produced in a water pitcher which she carried on her shoulder. If a special color was required it was obtained. Mme. d'Esperance once asked for a black rose. Yolande dipped her fingers into the pitcher and instantly brought out a dark object, dripping with moisture. It was a rose of distinctly blue-black color the like of which neither Mme. d'Esperance nor any of those assembled had seen.
On June 28th, 1890, an overpowering scent was followed by the appearance in a water carafe, which was previously prepared with sand and water, of a golden lily, a foot and a half taller than Mme. d'Esperance. From root to point it measured seven feet, it bore eleven large blossoms, the flowers were perfect, five fully blown. After it was photographed by Prof. Boutleroff, Yolande tried to take it back. Her efforts of dematerialization were unsuccessful. Yolande was in despair as according to a message from Walter, another control - she got the plant on condition of returning it. Walter gave instructions to keep the plant in darkness until she could come again and take it. On July 5th the plant vanished as mysteriously as it came. At 9.23 p.m. it stood in the midst of the company, at 9.30 it was gone. Not a vestige remained except the photographs and a couple of flowers which had fallen off. The scent seemed for a moment to fill the room almost overpoweringly, and then it was gone. Addressing inquiries to Walter at the time of the lily's appearance the sitters were told that the plant was in the room before the sitters came in and "was ready for being put together" at least an hour before they saw it. Aksakof also witnessed this apport. On the night of its disappearance a piece of grey cloth was found on its stem. The stem passed through a hole in the center of the cloth. The cloth could riot be removed. When, however, Yolande instructed Aksakof to remove it, it came off, without a rent, and still showing the round hole through which the stem had passed. She said that she got the piece of cloth from the same country as the flower came. On examination the piece of cloth was found to be a scrap of mummy cloth, still aromatic with the perfumes used for embalming. It contained 2,584 meshes to the square inch.
It speaks for the previous preparation of apports that Mrs. Barkel, a medium, saw in the room of the British College of Psychic Science in which Heinrich MeIzer was to hold an apport seance in 1926 the shadow of a bunch of violets near the electric light bulb. At the seance that evening a quantity of violets did, indeed, appear.
Another early medium, famous for her flower and fruit apports, was Miss Nichols, the later Mrs. Guppy and afterwards Mrs. VoIckman. In her seances the operators honored the requests of the sitters. Alfred Russel Wallace writes that a friend of his asked for a sun-flower, and one six feet high fell upon the table, having a large mass of earth around its roots. Miss Georgina Houghton testified before the Dialectical Committee of a sitting with Mrs. Guppy with eighteen ladies and a gentleman present. Everybody could wish for a fruit. The list of the various things brought was a banana, two oranges, a bunch of white grapes, a bunch of black grapes, a cluster of filberts, three walnuts, about a dozen damsons, a slice of candied pineapple, three figs, two apples, an onion, a peach, some almonds, four very large grapes, three dates, a potato, two large pears, a pomegranate, two crystallised greengages, a pile of dried currants, a lemon and a large bunch of beautiful raisins. They were brought in the order in which they had been wished for.
Signor G. Damiani recorded the curious observation of Mrs. Guppy's apports before the Dialectical Committee that the ends of the stems of the flowers presented a blackened and burnt appearance. On asking the reason the invisible intelligences answered that electricity was the potent "nipper" employed.
In a seance of Mrs. Guppy before the Florence Spiritual Society "suddenly a noise was heard as if the chandelier had fallen down, a light was struck, and a thick block of ice, of about a square foot in size, was found upon the table." H. W. Longfellow had a sitting with Mrs. Guppy at Naples. He held both her hands, and while he did so several orange boughs were brought. Longfellow considered this manifestation to be one of the most conclusive he had ever witnessed.
Miss Houghton, in her Evenings at Home in Spiritual Seance, writes of a farewell seance held by Mr. and Mrs. Guppy before their departure from England. There were a good many flowers brought. "By and by Mrs. Guppy exclaimed that there were creeping creatures about, and begged to be allowed to light the candle. Upon her request being granted there was a quantity of butterflies traveling about among us and the flowers, some of which were caught and put away in a box; altogether we reckoned that there were about forty of them."
Mrs. Guppy also obtained apports in a lighted room. A tray was placed on her knee, it being touched by the sitter's knee. A large shawl pinned to their necks covered the tray. The objects were then deposited on the tray. It is open to speculation whether the darkness under the tray was necessary for the rematerialization of the object or whether it only served the purpose of excluding the human gaze. Apports are peculiar in this respect. They do not appear before the eye but wait until attention is for a moment diverted. This curious fact was often noticed in the seances of Charles Bailey, the well-known Australian apport medium. From a description in Light, November 26, 1910, we glean that "the apports included an Indian blanket containing a human scalp and tomahawk, a block of lead said to be found in Roman strata at Rome and bearing the name of Augustus, a quantity of gravel alleged to have come from Central America and quite unlike anything seen in Australia, two perfect clay tablets covered with cuneiform inscriptions and several thousands of years old, said to have been brought direct from the mounds at Babylon, and finally, a bird's nest containing several eggs and the mother bird undoubtedly alive." He was famous for living apports, jungle sparrows, crabs, turtles. Once an eighteen-inches-long shark, at another time a thirty-inch snake appeared mysteriously in the seance room. The apport of jungle sparrows passed the test of a committee of investigation in Milan. Six years later, however he got into trouble in Grenoble. The investigators claimed that he smuggled in the birds in his intestinal opening, and they found a local dealer who identified Bailey as the man to whom he sold them. Discredit was also attached to his archaeological objects when the British Museum found the clay tablets spurious. Nevertheless, the explanation of fraud is a very difficult one in view of the fact that Bailey, who is still active, has produced apports for the last forty years the manufacture of which would have cost him a fortune and would necessitate a large factory with skilled hands.
Where do the apports come from?
It is very seldom ascertainable. Flowers were sometimes traced to nearby gardens. During his visit to the British College of Psychic Science in 1926 Heinrich MeIzer suddenly fell into a semi-trance condition out of doors and in his hands appeared sprays of flowers similar to those in a coster's barow on the other side of the street. Once in a seance with Mrs. Thayer Col. Olcott received, on a mental request, the leaf of a rare plant which he marked in a garden. The question of source is pertinent as in some cases the apport of precious stones was also recorded. Semi-precious stones of no value often appeared in Bailey's seances. The bringing of pearls as apports is recorded in Georgina Houghton's book. They came in veritable showers in the seances of Stainton Moses. They may not have had any value, but the position must have been different with his ruby, sapphire and emerald apports. Small as they were, great commercial value must have been attached to them. Once he woke up from his sleep and saw a luminous hand near the ceiling, under it a little ball of fire as big as a pea. As he looked the fingers were unclasped, the hand opened and the little ball of fire fell on his beard. It was a small opalescent stone about the size of a large pea, called sapphirium. Two similar stones were later delivered during a seance, the arrival being preceded by a fit of violent convulsion. There is, therefore, a moral question involved in the apport phenomena. On being asked an opinion of fruit and flower apports, John Watts, Mrs. Everitt's control, said in a seance on February 28, 1868, recorded in Catherine Berry's Experiences in Spiritualism, "I do not approve of bringing them, for they are generally stolen."
Space appears to be uniformly accessible to the operators. Dr. L. Th. Chazarain, in his pamphlet Scientific Proofs of the Survival of the Soul, tells the story of the placing of two chaplets in the coffin of a child, in the presence of a medium very easily hypnotizable, and of their being returned two days after the burial. He made special marks on the chaplets, did not lose sight of them until the coffin was screwed down, and followed it to the church and to the cemetery. Two days later the mother of the child and Mme. D. suddenly saw something white detach itself from the ceiling and descend slowly, to the ground, in a spiral course. They immediately picked up the little white mass. It was the first chaplet, surrounded with a little wadding which smelt of the corpse, and still having the metallic button (the secret mark) attached. The child's body had been wrapped in wadding. Two days later the second chaplet was returned in the same manner.
The distance appears to be of some consequence. The precipitation of the object is heralded by a spasmodic seizure of the medium. Sometimes she cries out in agony. Mrs. Rossi, in a seance on May 20, 1929, in Genoa in which two small stones were apported complained of great pains after she regained consciousness and said that she had been crushed between two enormous stones. At the time of this statement she did not know the nature of the apported objects. In the case of Frau Maria Silbert a light effect, similar to lightning, accompanies the delivery of the object. The bigger it is the greater is the nervous tension. The medium always suffers more keenly if a greater distance is involved. The objects usually fall with a heavy thud. Breakage, however, seldom occurs. An alarm clock which was seen to fall at least sixteen feet down the well of the stairs on to the flagstones in the hall of Rev. Tweedale's house was found to be undamaged and still going. The precipitation is usually effected from the direction of the ceiling. Catherine Berry writes in her Experiences in Spiritualism: "I saw coming from the ceiling, at the extreme end of the room, the branch of a tree about three feet in length. At the end was a large branch of white blossoms. I should perhaps say it appeared, in descending, like a flash of lightning."
Objects of unusual dimension and variety were apported at Millesimo Castle with the Marquise Centurione Scotto and Mme. Fabian Rossi. They were too big to hide about anybody's person, a halberd over six feet long, a plant in its pot over four feet high, large pistols, swords and dolls of great size. The room was nearly bare of furniture and examined at the beginning of every sitting by Prof. Bozzano. The story of one of these apport cases is notable. Cristo d'Angelo, the control, told Mme. La Marquise Luisa that a very near relative of hers was destined to die. On her entreaty to tell who it was, Cristo d'Angelo replied "I will bring you his portrait." Soon after the framed photograph of the doomed relative fell at Mme. La Marquise Luisa's feet. The last news of the relative had been excellent. Two days later he relapsed, and afterwards died as predicted.
It was also observed in the Millesimo seances that the objects which were apported from a neighboring room sometimes vanished days previously. Often they were returned to the room from which they were taken. This return, at least in one case, was only partly successful. An armiger appeared and executed a "dance of the lance" in the July 8, 1928, seance in total darkness. Two mailed fists squeezed the hands of some of the sitters. The lance, at the end of the seance, was found in the room, the mittens of mail, however, were discovered in a distant room beneath the suit of mail from the sleeves of which they were detached. The detachment of the mittens suggests that the rest of the armour was not apported. (G. K. Hack, Modern Psychic Mysteries at Millesimo Castle.)
Heavy apports bring about no variation in the weight of the medium. One experiment is on record to test this. It was done in Mr. W. H. Terry's house in Melbourne in 1876 with Mrs. Paton. This medium specialized in apporting her personal property. Sometimes it was a cup of tea which she forgot to drink before leaving home, once a burning hot flat iron, at another time a glassful of wine or a plateful of eggs. Her phenomena were mostly recorded between 1872 and 1878.
There could hardly be anything to surpass in wonder the accounts of the apports experienced by General "Lorrison" (Major-General A. W. Drayson) at Portsmouth. The medium was Mrs. Maggs, the wife of a local editor and a writer herself. In a strictly private circle apports arrived by the thousand. The household was supplied with eggs straight from Brooklyn from a spirit circle and return gifts were sent through similar means to countries as distant as Spain, Australia, India and China. It is claimed that once a letter was apported, was read, a corner torn off for identification and then re-apported. Ten days later it arrived, addressed to General Drayson. The torn off piece fitted in and the contents were identical.
In experiments with Lajos Pap at the Budapest Metapsychical Museum, Dr. Chengery Pap often obtained living insects, frogs and butterflies. Often they were completely dazed and motionless on arrival but recovered completely after a few minutes.
Apports are frequently noticed in Poltergeist cases. In stone throwing the stones may arrive apparently through the window without breaking the glass. In the case reported in the Journal S.P.R. Vol. XII. stones passed through the roof of Mr. Grottendieck's hut in the jungle of Sumatra without making a hole. They were so hot that Mr. Grottendieck at first believed them to be meteorites.
That the actions of apport mediums require careful attention before the seance is well illustrated by the case of a patient of Janet, a 26 years old woman called Meb, who had visions of Saint Philomela and received apports from her. They were pebbles, feathers, flowers and small pieces of cheap jewellery found lying about on the stairs or in other unlikely spots, or discovered in the patient's bedroom in the morning. On one occasion she found several small objects arranged in the shape of a cross, another time a pair of wings was stretched out on the eider-down quilt. On one occasion feathers floated down from the ceiling upon the family assembled at their evening meal. In hypnotic sleep the patient confessed that the apports were arranged by herself in a state of somnambulism, that she put a stool on the table, mounted on it and fastened small feathers with paste to the ceiling so that the heat of the lamp might bring them fluttering down. In her waking state she had no knowledge of these manipulations. It should be added that Meb was an hysteric of an advanced type.
Of Eusapia Paladino's apports Prof. Morselli said This phenomenon was repeated two or three times during our sittings, but I frankly confess I was not convinced by it, which does not imply that under better observation it might not also be real in the case of Paladino, as it seems to have been through the agency of other mediums."
Striking experiments were carried out at the British College of Psychic Science in 1929 with T. Lynn. He was searched, stripped and put in a bag. Many small objects, a cheap pearl necklace, a small reel of cotton, a button, a shell and a screw nail were apported and photographed at the moment of their arrival. During the sitting the medium lost 10-12 ounces in weight. The objects grew out of the body of the Medium. The same phenomenon has been reported upon by Prof. Karl Blacker, of Riga University, with the Medium B.X. (Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie, June, 1933.)
If the apport of living things is a fact, human beings should not form an exception. The phenomenon, astounding as it is, has been often recorded. It is dealt with under Transportation.
The dematerialization of living organisms at first sight offers perplexing features. The difficulty, however, is less if we consider that in all cases of transportation the medium is first entranced. In this state the spirit, in the form of the double, may separate and the body may be thus reduced to a comparatively inanimate object.
A comprehensive monograph on apports has been published by E. Bozzano in Luce e Ombra, 1930, and subsequently in book form. It deals specifically with apports on the experimenters' request which eliminates the possibility of surreptitious introduction.
ASPORTS, the reverse of apport phenomena: the disappearance of objects from the seance room through the barriers of intervening matter and their appearance at another spot. It is seldom attempted as an independent demonstration and may more often form part of apport manifestations as in the Millesimo seances with the Marquis Centurione Scotto and Mme. Fabian Rossi. In a sitting on July 8, 1928, the members of the circle were tapped by a little parchment drum and Mme. Rossi and Mme. la Marquise Luisa felt their hands squeezed by two iron mittens. At the conclusion of the sittings these objects were no longer in the room. The drum was found in the large salon where it previously stood, while the mittens were discovered at the foot of the suit of armour from which they had previously been detached.
AUTOMATISM, organic functions, or inhibitions, not controlled by the conscious self. The word "automatism" is a misnomer as the acts, or inhibitions, are only automatic from the viewpoint of personal consciousness and they may offer the characteristic features of voluntary acts on the part of another consciousness. Myers divided the phenomena of automatism into two principal classes: motor-automatism (the movement of the limbs, head or tongue by an inner motor impulse beyond the conscious will) and sensory automatism (externalization of perceptions in inner vision and audition). The first he called active, the second passive automatism, stressing, however, that the impulse whence it originates may be much the same in the one case as in the other. This place of origin is either the subconscious self or a discarnate intelligence. A message is conveyed. The problem awaiting solution is how are the motor or sensory centers excited without the action of the conscious self. Myers suggested that this excitation may take place either through the subconscious (subliminal) mind or the communicating intelligence may find some direct way for which he proposed the name "telergic."
The phenomena of automatism are often accompanied by organic disturbances, changes in the vaso-motor, the circulatory and respiratory system. The sensory impressions are sometimes accompanied by a feeling of malaise which is noticeable even in such simple cases as telepathy. In the phenomena of dowsing the disturbance is much keener.
Incapacity for action is an almost rudimentary type of motor-automatism. It may result from a simple subconscious perception or it may be induced by an outside agency to save the subject from grave peril, i.e., from entering a house which is about to collapse or boarding a train which will be derailed. An instructive instance is quoted by Prof. Flournoy from his experiments with Miss Helen Smith: "One day Miss Smith, when desiring to lift down a large and heavy object which lay on a high shelf, was prevented from doing so because her raised arm remained for some seconds as though petrified in the air and incapable of movement. She took this as a warning and gave up the attempt. At a subsequent seance Leopold stated that it was he who thus fixed Helen's arm to prevent her from grasping this object which was much too heavy for her and would have caused her some accident."
In a curious record of spirit cure, published in Proceedings, S.P.R. Vol. III. p. 182-187, we read: "On August 17, 1891, the patient felt for the first time a unique sensation, accompanied by formication and sense of weight in the lower limbs, especially in the feet. This sensation gradually spread over the rest of the body, and when it reached the arms, the hands and forearms began to rotate. These phenomena recurred after dinner every evening, as soon as the patient was quiet in her armchair. . . The patient placed her two hands on a table. The feeling of "magnetization" then began in the feet, which began to rotate and the upper parts of the body gradually shared in the same movement. At a certain point, the hands automatically detached themselves from the table by small, gradual shocks, and at the same time the arms assumed a tetanic rigidity somewhat resembling catalepsy."
Communication with the operating agency was established by automatic noddings of the head for "yes" and "no." One day "Mme. X. felt herself lifted from her armchair and compelled to stand upright. Her feet and her whole body then executed a systematic calisthenic exercise, in which all the movements were regulated and made rhythmic with finished art . . . Mme. X. had never had the smallest notion of chamber gymnastics ... these movements would have been very painful and fatiguing had she attempted them of her own will. Yet at the end of each performance she was neither fatigued nor out of breath.... Mme. X. is accustomed to arrange her own hair. One morning she said laughingly: ' I wish that a Court hairdresser would do my hair for me: my arms are tired.' At once she felt her hands acting automatically, and with no fatigue for her arms, which seemed to be held up; and the result was a complicated coiffure, which in no way resembled her usual simple mode of arrangement. The oddest of all these automatic phenomena consisted in extremely graceful gestures which Mme. X. was caused to execute with her arms, gestures as though of evocation or adoration of some imaginary divinity, or gestures of benediction. ... The few persons who witnessed this spectacle are agreed that it was worthy of the powers of the greatest actress. Of such a gift Mme. X. has nothing."
Dr. F. L. H. Willis performed in trance, controlled by Dr. Mason a difficult and delicate surgical operation. At that time he had not started to study medicine.
Myers classified the motor messages, in the order of their increasing specialization, as follows:
1. Massive motor impulses. Case of the bricklayer (Phantasms of the Living, Vol. II. p. 377) who had a sudden impulse to run home and arrived just in time to save the life of his little boy who had set himself on fire. Case of Mr. Garrison who left a religious service in the evening and walked 18 miles under a strong impulse to see his mother and found her dead. (Journal S.P.R. Vol. III. p. 125). We should include under this heading the phenomena of ambulatory automatism: moving about in a secondary state, as a result of an irresistible impulse and forgetting all about it on return to normal consciousness. It is noticeable in subjects affected with nervous diseases. The mysterious transportation of the Italian Pansini children was attributed ' by some Italian scientists, to this cause.
2. Simple subliminal motor impulses which give rise to table tilting and similar phenomena. (Miss Georgina Houghton in Evenings at Home in Spiritual Seance writes that on one occasion, being anxious to find her way to a house which she had not visited for several years, she entrusted herself to spirit guides and arrived safely.)
3. Musical execution, subliminally initiated. (Jesse Shepard, the famous musical medium, George Aubert and many child prodigies furnish cases of absorbing interest. The heading should be widened to include cases of contagious dancing, witnessed in religious revivals, or cases like that of Lina, studied by Col. Rochas, and Madeleine, studied by Emile Magnin, both girls exhibiting remarkable histrionic and dancing talent in trance.)
- 4. Automatic drawing and painting.
- 5. Automatic writing.
- 6. Automatic speech.
- 7. Telekinetic movements.
Maxwell suggests the following classification
- 1. Simple muscular automatism: typtology, alphabetic systems.
- 2. Graphic muscular automatism: automatic writing drawing and painting.
- 3. Phonetic automatism: trance speaking.
- 4. Mixed automatism: incarnations.
Sensory automatism embraces the phenomena of clairvoyance, clairaudience and crystal gazing. Therefore, according to Myers' scheme, the bulk of the phenomena of psychical research would range under the heading: automatism. We shall only deal here with automatic writing, drawing, painting and automatic speaking.
AUTOMATIC WRITING, scripts produced without the control of the conscious self. It is the most common form of mediumship, the source of innumerable cases of self-delusion, and at the same time one of the highest and most valuable spiritual gifts as, if reliable, it opens up a direct channel for obtaining teaching from the Beyond. Between these two extremes many problems of a complex nature present themselves to psychical research.
Let us see first how the power of automatic writing is acquired. In describing his first experience at a seance of Herne and Williams in 1872, Stainton Moses writes in Spirit Identity: "My right arm was seized about the middle of the forearm, and dashed violently up and down with a noise resembling that of a number of paviors at work. It was the most tremendous exhibition of 'unconscious muscular action' I ever saw. In vain I tried to stop it. I distinctly felt the grasps, soft and firm, round my arm, and though perfectly possessed of senses and volition, I was powerless to interfere, although my hand was disabled for some days by the bruising it then got. The object we soon found was to get up the force."
The first experience of William Howitt is similarly described by his daughter in Pioneers of Spiritual Reformation: "My father had not sat many minutes passive, holding a pencil in his hand upon a sheet of paper, ere something resembling an electric shock ran through his arm and hand; whereupon the pencil began to move in circles. The influence becoming stronger and ever stronger, moved not alone the hand, but the whole arm in a rotatory motion, until the arm was at length raised, and rapidly-as if it had been the spoke of a wheel propelled by machinery-whirled irresistibly in a wide sweep, and with great speed, for some ten minutes through the air. The effect of this rapid rotation was felt by him in the muscles of the arm for some time afterwards. Then the arm being again at rest the pencil, in the passive fingers, began gently, but clearly and decidedly, to move."
Mme. d'Esperance said: "I first noticed a tingling, pricking, aching sensation in my arm, as one feels as one strikes one's elbow; then a numb swollen sort of feeling which extended to my finger tips. My hand became quite cold and without sensation, so that I could pinch or nip the flesh without feeling any pain." The insensibility to pain was noticed by Professor William James, and Binet has proved this partial anaesthesia by mechanical means.
In Mrs. Piper's case the automatic writing began with spasmodic violence, with sweeping the writing materials off the table. She wrote in trance. Which brings us to the first important classification: automatic writing may be produced in the waking state or in trance. There are many degrees of the two states, blending is frequent, the important point apparently being to bar the interference of the conscious mind. In conscious writing it is the writer who moves the pencil, in automatic writing it is the pencil which moves the writer. In the waking state, of course, the writer is fully conscious of the strange thing which is going on but he must remain entirely passive. He may watch the flow of sentences but if he becomes too interested or anxious the writing becomes disconnected, words are left out, or the meaning becomes unintelligible. It is best if he occupies himself with something else, like Stainton Moses, who kept on writing consciously with his right hand while his left was in control of his communicators. All this, however, varies extremely with different mediums. Nearly every automatic writer has conditions of his own. Accordingly, the script, which at first is hardly more than erratic markings on the paper, discloses many curious features. The medium may have an impression of the sense of the communication or may not. The text may be couched in tongues unknown, the character of the writing may be his own or a strange one. It may be so minute that a strong magnifying glass will be necessary for reading it, it may be mirror writing, if the power is applied from underneath the hand, it may come upside down if the horizontal direction is changed to face a particular sitter, the words may be written in a reverse order, as "latipsoh" for hospital, and it may be executed at tremendous speed. The automatic communications alleged to originate from Philip the Evangelist, from Cleophas, and F. W. H. Myers, obtained by Miss Geraldine Cummins, were sometimes delivered at the extraordinary speed of 2,000 words per hour.
Where do they come from?
The question of paramount importance is the source of the automatic communications. It may be the subconscious mind of the medium or an extraneous mind. This need not necessarily be discarnate. There are cases on record which prove that the contents of the script may emanate from the mind of a living man. William T. Stead, who developed the power of automatic writing, often received such curious messages from many of his friends for a period of fifteen years. He said that, as a rule, these messages were astonishingly correct and the fact of such communication with the living was as well established for him as the existence of wireless telegraphy. He made it a subject of experimental investigation and found that the messages so transmitted sometimes came against the direct intention of the agent. He called the phenomenon automatic telepathy and asserted that he knew at least ten other automatic writers who received similar messages. Miss Felicia R. Scatcherd was apparently one of them. She is quoted in James Coates' book Has W. T. Stead Returned? as follows: "Then came a new phase; I was the recipient of messages from the living-mostly strangers engaged in public affairs, and was startled into a perception of the scientific value of these phenomena. When at a dinner in Paris I met a famous scientist who, in his after-dinner remarks, expressed the identical sentiments I had received as coming from him, many months earlier, in a language with which I was then ill-acquainted. There was no mistake about it. Knowing I should meet him, I had my written record with me, taken down in shorthand and copied in longhand as soon as possible, as was my invariable practice. I disliked receiving information in this way, but could not help it. If I refused these confidences, nothing else came. However, I became more reconciled to it when I found I could often be of service, in one instance preventing suicide, in others forestalling various casualties."
To Stead's direct question: "how is it that a person will tell me things with my hand that he would never tell me with his tongue?" Julia replied through automatic writing that the real self will never communicate any intelligence whatever except what it wishes to communicate, but the, real self is very different from the physical self, it sits behind the physical senses and the mind, using either as it pleases. "I find," said Stead in a lecture before the London Spiritualist Alliance in 1913, "that there are some who will communicate with extraordinary accuracy, so much so that out of a hundred statements there would not be more than one which would be erroneous. I find some who, though they will sign their names correctly, apparently in their own character, make statements that are entirely false." To his question "if the real self does not communicate any intelligence except at its volition, how is it that I can get an answer from my friend without his knowing anything about it?" Julia returned the answer that "the real self does not always take the trouble when he has communicated a thing by the mind through the hand to inform the physical brain that he has done so." In one ease the message which Stead received from a living friend referred to a calamity which happened three days afterwards.
Stead's theory of automatic telepathy appears to have been borne out in experiments with the planchette recorded in Proceedings, S.P.R., Vol. II, p. 235. A long series of communications between the Rev. P. H. Newnham, Vicar of Maker, Devonport, and his wife, clearly show that Mrs. Newnham's hand wrote replies answering questions of her husband which she neither heard nor saw.
A still better illustration is to be found in F. Bligh Bond's experiences with S., a lady who figures in the history of the Glastonbury scripts. As Bligh Bond writes in Psychic Research, April, 1929: "I noticed a very curious thing. The communications which she sent me began more and more to follow the line of my current archaeological enquiry. And after we had met once in the summer of that year, this tendency became increasingly obvious. There was some sort of mental rapport or attunement apparently present, and this I attributed to the dominance in both our minds of a very specialized line of interest. On one or two occasions in 1922 this correspondence became more pronounced and the communications took the form of answers to questions which were in my mind, though not consciously formulated ... Finally a very strange thing happened. I had a letter from S. in which she sent me a writing she had received automatically in the form of a letter addressed to her by myself and signed with my name, although not in my handwriting . . . I was and am totally unconscious of having mentally addressed it."
Nevertheless, such communications from the living are comparatively very rare. There is no doubt that, whether the contents disclose a rambling mind or powers of lucid reason, most of the automatic scripts represent a subconscious uprush. Therefore, in judging such scripts the standard of evidence should be very strict. So much more so as automatic writing is known to have been produced by post-hypnotic suggestion. Edmund Gurney was the first to conduct such experiments. His subject was, for instance, suggested in trance to write "It has begun snowing again." Awakened, he wrote with a planchette, while his waking self was entirely unaware of what he was doing: "It has begun snowing." Similar experiments were set on foot independently by Professor Pierre Janet in France. The primary personality will absolutely repudiate the authorship of such scripts and it will also say that they cannot emanate from him because there are things in it which he never knew. Another curious feature of these experimental scripts is that these manufactured personalities, dwelling in separate streams of consciousness according to the depth of hypnotism, will sometimes obstinately cling to their fictitious names and refuse to admit that they are only portions of the automatist himself. In multiple personality the case is still stronger.
The unexpectedness of an automatically received message is yet no proof for its extraneous origin. As Myers suggested, two separate strata of intelligences may be concerned and a man may hold colloquy with his own dream. Besides, automatic writing is often obtained by the collaboration of two people who touch the planchette simultaneously or one is touching the wrist of the other during the process of writing. The source of the messages in such cases may be found in a combined fountain of subconsciousness.
Col. Rochas records a case where the communicator of the automatic script was found to be a fictive being in a novel. The extreme Spiritualist would attribute such messages to lying spirits, the occultist to thought forms, endowed with temporary intelligence. It is very likely, however, that nothing else than a dream of the subconscious has been witnessed in the case. Speculative possibilities are well illustrated by the mediumship of Miss Helen Smith. If the claim of reincarnation and exceptional remembrance of preincarnate states were to be admitted both the information contained in the script and the question of the communicators as preincarnate personalities would have to be considered in this light.
The difference in the character of the automatic writing alone does not prove the presence of an outside entity. Prof. Richet proved in experiments, that are considered classical, that the new personality which he created by hypnotic suggestion completely transformed the handwriting of two hypnotized subjects.
The reproduction of the handwriting of the deceased is a much stronger but, in itself, not yet decisive point. Strict evidentiality requires that this resemblance should not be loosely asserted and that the medium should not have seen the writing of the alleged communicator, as hypnotic experiments reveal uncanny powers of perception and retention on the part of the subconscious mind. In the Blanche Abercromby case of Stainton Moses' mediumship Myers found every requirement satisfactory as both the lady's son and a handwriting expert found the spirit-writing identical with that by the lady when living.
The analysis is not an easy task as sometimes the handwriting shows the characteristics of two controls and yet the essential characteristics of the medium may also be discernible.
Simultaneously obtained messages are neither safe from telepathic suspicion. Stead's communicator, Julia, often impressed Stead and his secretary, Edith K. Harper, at the same time, but not until the idea was further developed to cross correspondence: to broken off sentences in each script so that they should complete each other, could these scripts be considered exempt from the influence of living minds.
Psychometry may offer an indirect presumption. If the script emanates from an extraneous intelligence its psychometric reading should result in the presentation of a character different from the medium's. There is no telling, however, to what extent the medium's influence may blend with the script and garble psychometric impressions.
The difficulties, therefore, are very great if we set out to prove that a certain message comes from a discarnate mind. It should not only be clear that the contents of the message were unknown to the medium, but also that they were unascertainable. And as we do not know the powers of the subconscious to acquire information those instances in which the information may have been acquired from books should only be provisionally accepted. Stainton Moses' control, Rector, could read books, and proved it in many tests. If a discarnate mind can do so, there is no a priori possibility that an incarnate mind, freed in trance, may not achieve the same thing. Another series of difficulties will be encountered if we consider the influence of telepathy. A rigorous inquiry should be held into how far the message could have been influenced by the knowledge contained in a living mind. If every exaggerated scruple is to be satisfied we will have to narrow down considerably the circle of conclusive messages. The revelation of the contents of posthumous sealed letters, of the whereabouts of intentionally hidden objects, or the sudden announcement of death unknown to the sitters may offer a prima facie case that the communication comes from a discarnate mind. A good case for the latter is quoted by Aksakof. A man named Duvanel died by his own hand on January 15th, 1887, in a Swiss village where he lived alone. Five hours after his death an automatic message, announcing the decease, was written at Wilna by Mlle. Stramm whom Duvanel wished to marry, but who could have received no news of his tragic end. -Nevertheless the enumeration of the many difficulties in the way of convincing evidence does not mean that the message in question if it could have been known to the medium, is worthless. Every case has to be examined as a whole. Sometimes the display of extraordinary, erudition or educational training, revealed by the scripts, alone is sufficient to establish a claim of supernormal origin. The banality of the message is usually taken as a proof of subconscious origin. This attitude is not justified by any means. If you begin to knock on a wall behind which, unseen to you, people are passing, there is no telling who will stop and answer. It may be a fool, a knave or a man of intelligence and sympathy, bent on helping and teaching. The recipient of the message may have confidence in the good faith of the communicator but no assurance of good faith alone justifies an unqualified belief in the intrinsic worth of the messages coming through. Good faith and ignorance, good faith and presumption often go together in this world. There is no reason to rule out their partnership in the Beyond. The question assumes a different aspect after long association between the automatic writer and the communicator. The latter may succeed in convincing the writer of his sincerity, erudition and high moral purpose. He has his own means of identification. From the sensation produced in the hand the automatist recognizes the presence of the well-known control or the appearance of an intruder. Occasionally the writing is attributed to preposterous sources. Victor Hugo received automatic messages from the "Shadow of the Tomb" and the "Ass of Balaam." Jules Bois quotes questions in Le Mirage Moderne to which the "Lion of Androcles" gave the answers. The communicator often avails himself of the services of an amanuensis who appears to have more skill in performing the psychic feat of communication. In the seances of Stainton Moses, Rector acted as amanuensis for Imperator and many others, producing a large part of the automatic script. In Mrs. Piper's case the communicators were often unconscious whether their messages were delivered by the spoken word or in automatic writing. The scripts of this famous medium are in a class by themselves. While she was writing her voice was being used by another communicator. To quote from Dr. Hodgson's report "the sense of hearing for the 'hand'-consciousness appears to be in the hand, and the sitter must talk to the hand to be understood. The thoughts that pass through the consciousness controlling the hand tend to be written, and one of the difficulties apparently is to prevent the writing out of thoughts which are not intended for the sitter. Other 'indirect communicators' frequently purport to be present and the 'consciousness of the hand' listens to them with the hand as though they were close by, as it listens to the sitters, presenting the palm of the hand, held in slightly different positions for the purpose by different 'direct communicators' so as to bring usually the region of the junction between the little finger and the palm towards the mouth of the sitter." In the old days writing was usually mirror writing, which sometimes was obtained in an unusual manner, i.e., Mrs. Piper wrote a name on paper held to her forehead so that the pencil was turned towards her face. With the advent of the Imperator group Rector took over the role of the scribe for all communicators and mirror writing only cropped up occasionally. Sometimes the letters were spelled in an, inverted order. The writing appeared to be less of a strain than speaking and these seances lasted for two hours or more.
An extremely interesting intellectual aspect of automatic writing is given, from the other side, by F. W. H. Myers in Miss Cummins' "The Road to Immortality":
"The inner mind-wrote Myers on the second occasion on which he purported to write through Miss Cummins-is very difficult to deal with from this side. We impress it with our message. We never impress the brain of the medium directly. That is out of the question. But the inner mind receives our message and sends it on to the brain. The, brain is a mere mechanism. The inner mind is like soft wax, it receives our thoughts, their whole content, but it must produce the words that clothe it. That is what makes cross-correspondence so very difficult. We may succeed in sending the thought through, but the actual words depend largely on the inner mind's content, on what words will frame the thought. If I am to send half a sentence through one medium and half through another I can only send the same thought with the suggestion that a part of it will come through one medium and a part through another."
The explanation may have been very true in the case of Miss Cummins, yet it need not have general application. She was conscious of the use of her brain by someone else.
"Soon I am in a condition of half-sleep-she writes in her introduction to The Road to Immortality-a kind of dream-state that yet, in its peculiar way, has more illumination than one's waking state. I have at times distinctly the sensation of a dreamer who has no conscious creative control over the ideas that are being formulated in words. I am a mere listener, and through my stillness and passivity I lend my aid to the stranger who is speaking. It is hard to put such a psychological condition into words. I have the consciousness that my brain is being used by a stranger all the time. It is just as if an endless telegram is being tapped out on it."
Like any other mediumistic faculty, automatic writing may appear at a very early age. Mr. Wason, a well-known Spiritualist from Liverpool, has seen the six months old son of Mrs. Kate Fox-Jencken, write: "I love this little child. God bless him. Advise his father to go back to London on Monday by all means -Susan." Susan was the name of Mr. Wason's wife. Myers and Hodgson saw a girl of four write the words "Your Aunt Emma." Celina ' a child of three and a half, wrote in the presence of Drs. Dussart and Broquet: "I am glad to manifest through a charming little medium of three and a half who promises well. Promise me not to neglect her."
Glimpses into Automatic Literature.
The claims of discarnate authorship present a delicate problem. Brofferio, knew a writing medium "to whom Boccaccio, Bruno and Galileo dictated replies that for the elevation of thought were assuredly more worthy of the greatness of that trio than on the level of the medium; I could cite competent testimony to the fact." According to Lombroso "' Dante, or one who stood for him, dictated to Scaramuzza three Cantos in terza rima. I read only a few strophes of this but so far as I could judge they were very beautiful." Many famous writers wrote in a semi-trance, having but an imperfect recollection of the work afterwards. Mrs. H. B. Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"said"that she did not write it: it was given to her it passed before her." In the preface of his famous poem Jerusalem, Blake says that it was dictated to him. "The grandest poem that this world contains; I may praise it, since I dare not pretend to be other than the Secretary; the authors are in eternity." Again: "I have written this poem from immediate dictation, twelve or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time without premeditation and even against my will." Parts of the Old Testament were received through automatic writing. "And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet saying . ." (2 Chronicles XXI. 12). In 1833 the book of the German Augustinian nun, Anna Catherine Emmerich, The Lowly Life and Bitter Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, was accepted by Catholics as divinely inspired. The remarkable contents of the book came to her in visions and were noted and edited by the poet Clement Brentano.
In America one of the earliest automatically-written books was the Rev. C. Hammond's The Pilgrimage of Thomas Payne and Others to the Seventh Circle, New York, 1852. The book contains 250 octavo pages. It was begun at the end of December 1851 and completed February 1st next year. The following year Judge Edmond's and Dexter's Spiritualism was published, which also contains many spirit messages. The same year saw the appearance of John Murray Spear's Messages from the Spirit Life, which was followed in 1857 by a big connected work, the Educator. A year after, Charles Linton, a book-keeper of limited education produced a remarkable book of 100,000 words, The Healing of the Nation, which was printed with Governor Talmadge's preface. Next year Twelve Messages from John Quincey Adams through Joseph D. Stiles was published. But all these books pale into insignificance by Hudson Tuttle's Arcana of Nature, a profound scientific book with which, in sweep and scope, only the trance writings of Andrew Jackson Davis compare. Two astonishing cases of automatic writing should yet be mentioned. The first dates from 1874. It is The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens, when he died, left this novel unfinished. T. P. James, an American mechanic of very slight education, completed it automatically. According to many critics the script is characteristic of Dickens in style and is worthy of his talent. The second is Oahspe, 1882, a new cosmic Bible which Dr. John Ballou Newbrough received in automatic type-writing.
In France, Hermance Dufeaux, a girl of 14, produced in the early days of French spiritualism, two surprising books: a Life of Jeanne d'Arc, dictated by the Maid, and Confessions of Louis XL Allen Kardec vouched for the honesty of the girl. On the other hand, the Divine Revelations of Geneva in 1854, obtained by a little group of ministers and professors by means of the table from Christ and his angels, is-according to Prof. Flournoy-insipid and foolish enough to give one nausea.
In England Dr. J. Garth Wilkinson published in 1857 an octavo volume of impressional poetry. The first continued series of automatically received messages deserving serious attention was produced by William Stainton Moses between 1870 and 1880. His scripts contained many evidential messages but their main purpose was the delivery of high religious teaching. Nothing, except the writings of the Rev. George Vale Owen and the present-day communications of Miss Geraldine Cummins has equalled these scripts in interest. The Scripts of Cleophas, Paul in Athens, and The Chronicle of Ephesus produced by Miss Cummins under the alleged influence of Philip, the Evangelist and Cleophas, bear signs of close acquaintanceship with the Apostolic Circle. It is very curious that Cleophas describes the Pentecost meeting and declares that the Apostles sat round in a circle with hands clasped, as the Master had taught them. As to the inspiration of The Road to Immortality, Miss Cummins' fourth book, by F. W. H. Myers, Sir Oliver Lodge claims to have received independent evidence.
W. T. Stead's Letters from Julia is widely known, and Mrs. Hester Travers, Smith's Psychic Messages from Oscar Wilde offers great intellectual thrill. The Glastonbury Scripts have an importance of their own. The quantity of automatically-written books is such that it is difficult to mention more than a few as, for instance, Elsa Barker's Letters from a Living Dead Man, War Letters from a Living Dead Man, Last Letters from a Living Dead Man (the probable communicator being David P. Hutch, a magistrate of Los Angeles), the remarkable books of Patience Worth produced through Mrs. John H. Curran of St. Louis, The Book of Truth, claimed to have been written under the divine guidance of Osiris, Submerged Atlantis Restored: or Links and Cycles, Rochester, N.Y., 1911, inspired by "atlantean spirits" through Mrs. C. C. Van-Duzee, Meslom's Messages from the Life Beyond and To Woman: from Meslom, by Mary McEvilly, New York, 1920, The Seven Purposes, by Margaret Cameron, New York, 1918, J. S. Ward's Gone West and A Subaltern in the Spirit Lands, the anonymous Private Dowding (by W. Tudor Pole), the Revelations of Louise, Claude's Book, 1918, Claude's Second Book, 1919, and Claude's Third Book, 1920 by Mrs. Kelway Bamber, The Twentieth Plane, by Albert Durrant Watson, Philadelphia, 1919, Oscar Wilde in Purgatory and the curious and highly intellectual automatic scripts of Mme. Juliette Hervey of France which Dr. Eugen Osty studied.
Communications obtained through the planchette, ouija board or table tipping are modifications of automatic writing and may be obtained by an interchange of methods. The Oscar Wilde scripts came partly through the planchette, partly through automatic writing.
AUTOMATIC DRAWING AND PAINTING, attempts at artistic expression without control of the conscious self. The phenomenon belongs to the same category as automatic writing but neither necessarily involves the other. Mrs. William Wilkinson, the wife of one of the pioneer English spiritualists, could draw, paint and play music automatically, but she could not produce automatic writing. Her husband developed both gifts. An interpretation of the flowers of joy, love, humility, faith and the architectural designs emanating from under his wife's hand, was forthcoming in his automatic scripts. The power of automatic drawing burst, after many weeks of vain trial., on William Wilkinson in the following way: "After waiting less than five minutes it began to move, at first slowly, but presently with increased speed, till in less than a quarter-of-an-hour it moved with such velocity as I had never seen in a hand and arm before, or since. It literally ran away in spiral forms; and I can compare it to nothing else than the fly-wheel of an engine when it was "run away." This lasted until a gentleman present touched my arm, when suddenly it fell like an infant's as it goes to sleep, and the pencil dropped out of my hand. I had, however, acquired the power. The consequences of the violent motion of the muscles of the arm were so apparent that I could not for several days lift it without pain."
In most cases visions are being presented to the automatist and the idea to sketch then comes to him naturally. Miss Houghton in Evenings at Home in Spiritual Seance writes of a Mrs. Puget who saw upon a blank paper "a lovely little face, just like a photograph, which gradually disappeared; then another became visible on another part of the sheet, and they arrested her attention so much that she thought she would like to catch the fleeting image, which she did with a piece of burnt cork, thinking that a piece of pencil would be too trying for her sight." William Blake sketched his spiritual visitants as if they were posing. He drew them with the utmost alacrity and composure looking up from time to time as though he had a real sitter before him. If the vision disappeared he stopped working until it returned. "I am really intoxicated with vision every time I hold a pencil or pen in my hand "-he wrote.
Helen Smith painted in trance a series of tableaus on Biblical subjects in colors. Her fingers moved incoherently over the canvas, executing different details, in different parts which later merged into harmonious whole. She was very slow. The execution of a big picture took more than a year. The vision always returned.
Mme. d'Esperance saw a luminous cloud concentrate itself in the darkest corner of the room, become substantial and form itself into the figure of a child. Nobody else saw the figure but she could sketch it in the dark, being unconscious of the extraordinary circumstances that she could see the paper and pencil perfectly well. Spirit sketching became a regular phase of her mediumship for a considerable time but the power waned, the luminosity of the apparitions decreased as soon as she began to study sketching and became more self conscious of her work.
Dr. John Ballou Newbrough, the automatist of Oahspe could paint with both hands at once in total darkness. Susannah Harris, being blindfolded on the platform, executed in two hours an oil painting upside down.
There are various degrees of such automatic activity from inspiration to obsession. The fantastic designs of Victorien Sardou: scenes on the planet Jupiter, The House of Mozart, The House of Zoroaster were inspired, as he felt it, by Bernard Palissy. In the celebrated Thompson-Gifford case the impulse amounted to obsession. Heinrich Nusslein, a contemporary German automatist developed his curious powers of painting under the effect of the suggestion of a friend. In approximately two years he had painted 2,000 pictures. He paints small pictures in three or four minutes. No work takes more than thirty or forty minutes. Many of them are painted from visions and in complete darkness. He makes portraits of distant sitters by psychometric rapport or by concentrating on a name. His paintings have considerable artistic merits. Augustine Lesage, the French miner painter produced his first work in 1918, at the age of 35, after attending some seances. In ten years he produced 57 canvases the conceptions of which are harmonious and suggest an innate genius for color. He always begins at the top of the canvas and works, as it were, story by story. He believes himself to be the reincarnation of an old Egyptian painter. In 1926 the Society of French artists exhibited some of his works. He feels an inner prompting before he begins to paint.
Marjan Gruzewski, the Polish painting medium has a peculiar history. His subconscious life was in preponderance from early childhood. When he went to school his hand would write something else than what was dictated to him. If he tried to write what he was told to do the pen dropped out of his hand. When he first came into contact with spiritualism he was discovered to be a medium for telekinesis, ectoplasmic phenomena and trance mediumship in general. His gifts of automatic painting were discovered at the age of 18-19 after the end of the war. In a state of trance and in full daylight he could produce pictorial representations of anything suggested: scenes from the spirit world, historical events, strangely interwoven with phantasies, striking portraits of dead people whom he did not know in life; and the composition was often set with grinning demons and weird faces. In Paris, at the Institut Metapsychique he drew designs and painted portraits in complete darkness. But these pictures were inferior to those produced in light. The quality improved with red light, even if it never reached the table where he was working. He could also paint a portrait under psychometric influence. Before his automatic activity developed he knew nothing of designing or painting.
If talented painters, like Ferdinand Desmoulin and Hugo d'Alesi produce automatic pictures, subconscious activity may well explain the case. But that the explanation is not always satisfactory is well proved by the case of Mme. Marguerite Burnat-Provins, a very able author and painter. At the time of the outbreak of the war, when the church-bells tolled out the mobilization order, she was seized by a great emotion and sudden voices impelled her to write. At a later stage the hearing of the voice was accompanied by a vision which she drew with lightning-like quickness. The visions represented symbolical character pictures, they were sometimes felt subjectively, but were often seen objectively in natural colors in space, developing on some occasions from a cloud-like formation and leaving an indelible impression on her brain. They assumed a great variety in shapes and contents, over a thousand pictures having been produced by the Summer of 1930, when Dr. Osty published in the Revue Metapsychique the result of his study. Mme. Burnat-Provins feels anguished if she tries to resist the temptation to draw the visions as soon as they present themselves and an exhaustion follows or sometimes precedes the phenomenon. The style and character of the pictures is entirely different from Mme. Burnat-Provins' ordinary work, most of them resemble caricatures, and she attributes the results to an extraneous influence.
Another curious case is presented by the automatic sketches of Capt. Bartlett, of Glastonbury Abbey, as it was in ancient days. He began at the left hand top corner and worked downwards, bringing out archeologically verified details with an amazing precision.
The tremendous speed with which the automatic execution takes place is one of the most puzzling features of this psychic activity. The Seeress of Prevorst drew complicated geometrical designs. "She threw off the whole drawing" -writes Dr. Kerner - in an incredibly short time, and employed, in marking the more than a hundred points into which this circle was divided, no compasses or instruments whatever. She made the whole with her hand alone, and failed not in a single point. She seemed to work as a spider works its geometric diagrams, without a visible instrument. I recommended her to use a pair of compasses to strike the circles; she tried, and made immediate blunders." William Howitt, who had the gift of automatic drawing for five years, writes on this point: "Having myself, who never received a single lesson in drawing, and never could draw in a normal condition, had a great number of circles struck through my hand under spirit-influence, and these filled up with tracing of ever-new invention, without a thought of my own, I at once recognized the truth of Kerner's statement."
Myers observed that independent drawings often exhibit a fusion of arabesque with ideography, that is to say, they partly resemble the forms of ornamentation into which the artistic hand strays when, as it were, dreaming on the paper without definite plan; and partly they afford a parallel to the early attempts at symbolic self-expression of savages who have not yet learnt an alphabet. Like savage writing, they pass by insensible transitions from direct pictorial symbolism to an abbreviated ideography, mingled in its turn with writing of a fantastic or of an ordinary kind. He often showed to experts strange hieroglyphics obtained automatically, but he found that at the best they appeared to resemble scrawls seen on Chinese plates.
The curious water-color pictures of Catherine Berry, exhibited in Brighton in 1874 disclosed such vagaries of mind to which Myers alludes. In Catherine Berry's own words: "by any ordinary observer they would be pronounced as chaotic, but a more minute survey of them reveals a wonderful design in construction and purpose whatever it may be." She was told by her guide that they were illustrative of the origin of species. Baroness Guldenstubbe attributed them to the inspiration of a planetary spirit.
Insane patients often exhibit an impulse to decorative and symbolical drawings. Some of their products, like those of Vaslav Nijinsky, are of decided art merit. The automatist, however, is as a rule of sound mind. Learning and erudition has nothing to do with the gift. Fabre, a French blacksmith, produced an almost faultless copy of Raphael's Bataille de Constantin, the original of which is now in the Vatican. The symbolic ideas often disclose a high moral purpose. "Never has anything proceeded from these drawings "-writes William Wilkinson in Spirit Drawings, A personal Narrative- "nor from their descriptions, but what has been to us an incentive to a better and holier life." It is, indeed, in the Bible that we find the first record of the phenomenon in the following: "Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlors thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat and the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about it, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things... All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern." (Chronicles, ch. XXVIII).
AUTOMATIC SPEAKING--excitation of the vocal chords without the volition of the conscious self. The speech bursts forth impulsively whether the medium is in trance or in the waking state. In the latter case, and in partial trance, the medium may understand the contents of the communication even if it comes in a language unknown to him. But the retention of consciousness during automatic speaking is exceptional. It is known to be so in the case of the medium Horace Leaf; it was so with Florence Morse, and it was also observed by Dr. Eugen Osty with Mme. Fraya and M. de Fleuriere. The curious case which Professor William James has recorded in Proceedings S.P.R. Vol. XII, pp. 277-98 of Mr. Le Baron's (pseudonym) experiences in 1894 in an American Spiritualist camp meeting, is specially instructive on this score. Le Baron, who was a journalist, at one of these meetings 'felt his head drawn back until he was forced flat on the ground.' Then "the force produced a motor disturbance of my head and jaws. My mouth made automatic movements, till in a few seconds I was distinctly conscious of another's voice-unearthly, awful, loud, weird-bursting through the woodland from my own lips, with the despairing words 'Oh, my people.' Mutterings of semi-purposive prophecy followed."
Professor James also speaks, as a curious thing, of the generic similarity of trance utterances in different individuals. "It seems exactly" -he said- "as if one author composed more than half of the trance messages, no matter by whom they are uttered. Whether all subconscious selves are peculiarly susceptible to a certain stratum of the Zeitgeist, and get their inspirations from it, I know not."
The remark does not apply to the higher grade trance utterances and inspirational oratory of which there is abundant proof. Nature's Divine Revelations was dictated by the Poughkeepsie Seer in trance. Thomas Lake Harris produced two big poems in a similar manner. An Epic of the Starry Heavens, a poem containing nearly 4,000 lines, and A Lyric of the Morning Land, another impressive poetic composition of over 5,000 words, were dictated in a remarkably short time. David Duguid's curious historic romance Hafed, Prince of Persia and its sequel Hermes, a Disciple of Jesus, were also taken down from trance dictations. The revelations of Catherine Emmerich, the Seeress of Westphalia about the house where Mary, the mother of Jesus died, as taken down and published by Clement Brentano in a work of several volumes have been confirmed by discoveries made near Ephesus towards the end of the last century. The seeress who lived at the beginning of the XIX century told the story of the life of Jesus day by day as if she had been an eye witness of it all. Telka, Patience Worth's poem of 60-70,000 words in Anglo-Saxon language, was dictated through Mrs. Curran as rapidly as it could be written down by a secretary, and the medium was so independent of that which came through her that she was free to smoke a cigarette, to interrupt herself by taking part in the conversation of those present, or go into the next room to answer the telephone. The whole poem, a masterpiece, took a total of 35 hours. The case of Miss Florence Morse is extremely interesting. She was not only conscious of her inspirational delivery but one of her controls who had a fund of dry humor frequently kept her amused by his droll remarks on some feature of the proceedings, especially when it was a case of answering questions. Trance-singing is a kindred manifestation to automatic speaking. Jesse Shepard was the most notable example. In the case of Mrs. A. M. Gage, a New York soprano singer, who lost her voice through an attack of hemorrhage of the lungs, it was accompanied by a complete alteration of personality.
BOOK TESTS, experiments to exclude the working of telepathy in mediumistic communications. In answer to questions or for reasons of personal relevance the communicator indicates a certain book upon a certain shelf in the home of the sitter and gives the text on a certain page. In such experiments far more successes were registered than chance would justify. The books selected are usually those of which the communicator was fond in his lifetime, thus offering another suggestion of personal identity. Many excellent cases of book tests are recorded in Lady Glenconner's The Earthen Vessel and in Some New Evidence for Human Survival, 1922, by the Rev. Drayton Thomas. Sir William Barrett, in his preface to this book, quotes the following communication which purported to come from Myers to him: "There were some books on the right-hand side of a room upstairs in your house in Devonshire Place. On the second shelf, four feet from the ground, in the fourth book counting from the left, at the top of page 78, are some words which you should take as direct answer from him (Myers) to so much of the work you have been doing since he passed over." Asked if the name of the book could be given, the reply was - "No," but that whilst feeling on the cover of the book he got a sense of "progression." Two or three books from this test book are one or two books on matters in which Sir William used to be very interested, but not of late years. It is connected with studies of his youth."
Professor Barrett remarks that Mrs. Leonard, the medium of the communication, never visited his house. He had no idea what books were referred to, but on returning home found that in the exact position indicated, the test book was George Eliot's Middlemarch. On the first line at the top of page 78 were the words .. "Ay, ay. I remember-you'll see I've remembered 'em all" which quotation was singularly appropriate, as much of his work since Mr. Myers passed over has been concerned with the question of survival after death and whether the memories of friends on earth continued with the discarnate. But the most remarkable part of the test was yet to be discovered. In dusting the bookshelves the maidservant, unknown to the Professor, had replaced two of George Eliot's novels by two volumes of Dr. Tyndall's books, viz., his Heat and Sound, which were found exactly in the position indicated. In his youth Prof. Barrett was, for some years, assistant to Prof. Tyndall, and these books were written whilst he was with him.
By what process is the discarnate intelligence able to find a relevant passage in closed books? One of the preliminary statements which the Rev. Drayton Thomas received from his father was that he "sensed the appropriate spirit of the passage rather than the letters composing it." After eighteen months he appeared to acquire a power of occasionally seeing the words by some sort of clairvoyance. The giving of the page is one of the greatest difficulties. The impression left on the Rev. Drayton Thomas'mind was that when a page had been fixed upon as containing a thought suitable for the test, the operator counted the pages between that and the commencement. He usually starts where the flow of thought commences and when it ceases and recommences higher up he concludes that he passed from the bottom of one page to the top of another. In this way, they say, it is found practicable to compute the number of pages between the commencement and the passage fixed upon for the test. When verifying, one usually counts from the commencement of the printed matter, disregarding fly-leaves and the printer's numbering.
The experiments were just as successful when a sealed book, deposited by a friend in the Rev. Drayton Thomas' house, was used; with an unseen bookshelf; with a parcel in which an antiquarian at random packed in some books and which was unopened; and with books placed in the dark in an iron deed-box. If these results are to be explained by the medium's supernormal powers, she has to be endowed, as the Rev. Drayton Thomas points out, with such a degree of clairvoyance as would permit the making of minute observations in distant places and retaining a memory of things there seen, with ability to extract the general meaning from printed pages in distant houses, despite the fact that the books concerned are not open at the time, with ability to obtain knowledge of happenings in the sitter's home and private life relating both to the present and to the distant past and with an intelligence which knows how to select from among our host of memories the suitable items for association with the book-passage, or conversely, of finding a suitable passage for the particular memory fished from the depths of our mind. His own conclusion was that the book tests were obtained by a spirit who gleaned impressions psychometrically and obtained an exact glimpse now and again by clairvoyance.
The underlying idea of book tests goes back to the experiments of Sir William Crookes. A lady was writing automatically with the planchette and he tried to devise a means for the exclusion of "unconscious cerebration." He asked the invisible intelligence if he could see the contents of the room, and on receiving an affirmative answer he put his finger on a copy of The Times which was on a table behind him, without looking at it, and asked that the communicator should write down the word which was covered by his finger. The planchette wrote the word "However." He turned round and saw that this was the word covered by the tip of his finger. This experiment was first published in January, 1874, in the Quarterly Yournal of Science.
The first plain book tests were recorded by Stainton Moses. He wrote automatically, under the dictation of Rector: "Go to the book case and take the last book but one on the second shelf, look at the last paragraph on page 94, and you will find this sentence. . . ." The sentence was found as indicated. The experiment was repeated a number of times.
Of other mediums William Eglinton was particularly successful in direct-writing book-tests. Many cases are described in John S. Farmer's Twixt Two Worlds. The page and line were selected by tossing coins and reading the last numbers of the dates. In some cases they were still further complicated by prescribing the use of colored chalk in a set order of the words. Book tests combined with xenoglossis are described in judge Ludwig Dahl's We Are Here, published in 1931. The Norwegian judge writes of the mediumship of his daughter, Ingeborg, and describes how her two (deceased) brothers "were represented as going into another room and reading aloud passages from a book still on the shelves, the number of which was selected by one of the sitters-the medium successfully repeating or transmitting what they read in a foreign language and far beyond her comprehension."
Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, in her study of the problem of book tests in Proceedings S.P.R., April, 1921, arrives at the conclusion: "On the whole, I think, the evidence before us does constitute a reasonable prima facie case for belief in the perception of external things not known to any one present, but known to someone somewhere."