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RAPS, percussive sounds of varying intensity without visible, known or normal agency, a simple phenomenon of tremendous import. Prof. Richet writes in Thirty Years of Psychical Research: "The reality of these raps is of primary importance, and this phenomenon carries the implication of the whole of metapsychics. If it is established that mechanical vibrations can be produced in matter, at a distance, and without contact, and that these vibrations are intelligent, we have the truly far-reaching fact that there are in the universe human or non-human intelligences that can act directly on matter."
Modern spiritualism began with raps at Hydesville in 1848. But the history of this Supernormal manifestation reaches back into antiquity and the belief that it was in the house of the Fox family that intelligent contact with the unseen world, through such agency, was for the first time established is erroneous.
Rudolf of Fulda, a chronicle dating from 858 A.D. speaks of communications with a rapping intelligence. Paracelsus called it "pulsatio mortuorum": an omen of approaching death. The Church knows of spiritus percutiens (rapping spirit). They are conjured away by old Catholic formulae at the benediction of Churches. Raps were recorded by Melancthon in 1520 at Oppenheim, Germany. Montalambert, chaplain to Francois L, describes raps which he observed in Lyon about 1521. According to a manuscript by Woodrow from 1610 at the University of Glasgow, Mr. Welsh, a clergyman in Ayr, conversed with spirits by raps and observed movements of objects without contact. The first detailed account of the phenomenon is in the Rev. Joseph Glanvil's Sadducismus Triumphatus. It describes the disturbances in Magistrate Mompesson's house at Tedworth in 1661. It was discovered that an invisible entity would answer in drumming anything that was beaten or called for. But no further progress was made. The phenomenon was again noticed at Epworth Vicarage in 1716 by the Wesleys. In the first quarter of the XIX century Dr. Kerner detected in it a means of conversation with the spirit visitants of the Seeress of Prevorst. Then came the historic outbreak at Hydesville, followed two years later by the Stratford disturbances and amid much public acrimony quite a literature grew up around the reality of the strange, knocks on the portals of our world.
The theories which had been advanced to explain the phenomenon are of historic interest. The cracking of knee joints, toe joints, the, snapping of fingers and the contraction of the respiratory muscles were variously called the Scientific solution to the mystery. To strengthen the position of the first attempt at scientific elucidation Professor Loomis published his discovery as to the effect of the vibrations of a dam over which water falls. These sounds are transmitted to a distance by the earth and produce Sudden alarming knocking sounds in dwellings.
It is doubtless true that raps were very often produced by fraudulent means. William Faulkner, a surgeon, testified before the London Dialectical Committee 1869 that he was in the habit of Selling trick magnets to produce rapping sounds at Spiritualistic seances. The magnets could be concealed about the person, or attached to furniture. By pressing a small brass button, raps could at all times be produced. Methods of fraud are described in Carrington's The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, in Lunt's Mysteries of the Seance and in Abbott's Behind the Scenes with Mediums.
It is also true that underneath the scientific theories there was a physiological foundation as in a way it is the bodily mechanism of the medium which is responsible for the raps. Still it is one of the aberrations of scientific orthodoxy that when the Seybert Commission investigated the raps of Margaret Kane-Fox the evidence for the genuine nature of the phenomenon was ruled out because one of the members of the committee, when placing his hand on her feet, distinctly felt an unusual pulsation though there was not a particle of motion in it. Nobody seems to have recalled this discovery when the sensational confession of Margaret and Kate Fox reverberated in the Press and whereas previously the raps were ruled out because of their reaction on the medium's body, it passed unnoticed that the confession and its acceptance on face value confirms the occurrence of the very phenomenon which it attempted to demolish.
Why should spirits knock and rap? According to Andrew Lang: "Were we inventing a form for a spirit's manifestation to take, we never should invent that." He frankly admits that mediaeval and later tales of rapping have never been satisfactorily accounted for on any theory. His theory of "spectral aphasia" advanced as regards haunting may partially explain raps may be the easiest signs which a spirit wishing to effect the physical plane, may produce, though he may aim at a different effect.
At present there is a place for raps in medical science. A curious connection has been discovered between raps and chorea. In Psyche, March, 1882, Dr. Purdon reports the case of two soldiers in Guernsey, both of them of neurotic temperament, in whose presence rappings of an unnatural character were heard. Under the administration of iodide of potassium, salicylate of soda and arsenic in full doses the men wonderfully improved and the rappings became less frequent.
E. Howard Grey, in Visions, Previsions and Miracles in Modern Times, quotes a similar experience with a member of his own family. The attack commenced during the cutting of a child's permanent teeth, sometimes convulsions occurred in the night, and these generally seized upon the little girl about the same hour. "We were usually well prepared," he says,
for these nocturnal troubles by explosive and other auditory sounds either on the wall or in the air. Sometimes a tinkling sound as of dropping water would be heard, but none was visible. They occurred when the child was asleep, also in her absence." When she was in bed upstairs they heard them in a room below, sometimes her mother heard them sounding like little taps on a newspaper she was reading. They did not exhibit intelligence. The last, or departing rap was especially loud. The cure was effected in a few months by the administration of bromide of potassium.
In speaking of the curious thrilling of the table in the presence of D. D. Home, Mrs. de Morgan writes in From Matter to Spirit: "The last time I witnessed this phenomenon, an acute surgeon present said that this thrilling, the genuineness of which was unmistakable, was exactly like what takes place in that affection of the muscles called subsultus tendinum. When it ceased the table rose more than two feet from the floor."
In the closing years of the medium Slade, loud raps were heard on the bedstead, walls and furniture while he was asleep. Chairs and other furniture moved about. The phenomena occurred even after he sank into senile dementia. The same phenomenon was observed around the death-bed of Margaret Fox. The mysterious illness of Mary Jobson started with loud rapping sounds. When D. D. Home was ill the same manifestation was continually witnessed. It is now an accepted fact that abnormal conditions often open up channels for supernormal phenomena. But the larger percentage of such manifestations involves no bodily affliction and whereas higher phenomena are often accompanied by utter exhaustion on the part of the medium raps seldom bring about a feeling of significant depletion. Simple as the phenomenon appears to he various important accounts reflect an astounding variety of manifestation.
The Varieties of Rapping Experience
Judge Edmonds heard raps on his own person. The Rev. Samuel Watson, a Methodist parson, had similar experiences. "The noise made on my shirt bosom," he writes, "resembled more the telegraph machine than anything else."
Abby Warner, of Massillon, O., was prosecuted in 1851 for disturbing the Christmas service in St. Timothy's Church by raps which sounded in her presence.
Considerable excitement was caused in New York in 1871 in the congregation of Henry Ward Beecher. In front of the rostrum at the reporter's table raps were heard for a succession of Sabbaths and slow and deliberate motion of the table was witnessed. It kept time with the preacher's words and assented to the reform demands of the Minister with great pushes and traveling to the opposite side as if to say: "That's so, that is the truth." (Crowell; Primitive Christianity, p. 499).
Mrs. Underhill, the eldest of the Fox sisters, writes in The Missing Link, that during the funeral of her second husband, Mr. Calvin Brown, raps were heard all over the room while S. B. Brittan delivered the funeral sermon and judge Edmunds the eulogy.
Robert Dale Owen recorded some very curious experiments in raps with Mrs. Underhill in 1861. He heard raps on the seaside in a ledge of rock. "Placing my hands on the same ledge, a few steps from Mrs. Underhill, and asking for raps, when this came audibly I felt, simultaneously with each rap, a slight but unmistakably distinct vibration or concussion of the rock." He heard raps on board of an excursion boat and later in a sailing boat sounding from underneath. He also obtained them in the open air on the ground, "a dull sound, as of blows struck on the earth; then I asked Mrs. Underhill to touch one of the trees with the tips of her fingers and applying my ear to the tree I heard the raps from beneath the bark."
In an account of a seance on February 22, 1860, in which psychic lights were seen, Robert Dale Owen writes: "While I was looking intently at such a light, about as large as a small fist, it rose and fell, as a hammer would, with which one was striking against the floor. At each stroke a loud rap was heard in connection. It was exactly as if an invisible hand held an illuminated hammer and pounded with it."
As to the objectivity of the raps produced by Katie Fox, Crookes said: "It seems only necessary for her to place her hand on any substance for raps loud enough to be heard several rooms off. In this manner I have heard them in a living tree, on a sheet of glass, on a stretched iron wire, on a stretched membrane, a tambourine, on the roof of a cab and on the floor of a theatre. Moreover, actual contact is not always necessary. I have had these sounds proceeding from the floor, walls, etc. when the medium's hands and feet were held, when she was standing on a chair, when she was suspended in a swing from the ceiling, when she was enclosed in a wire cage and when she had fallen fainting on a sofa. I have heard them on a glass harmonium, I have felt them on my own shoulder and under my own hand, I have heard them on a sheet of paper, held between the fingers by a piece of thread passed through one corner."
The membrane of which Crookes speaks was part of a complicated apparatus. A small piece of graphite was placed on it so as to be thrown upward by the slightest jar. The point of a lever registered in curves the amount of mechanical energy employed in the effect.
As to the sounds, Crookes observed "delicate ticks, as with the point of a pin; a cascade of sharp sounds as from an induction coil in full work; detonations in the air; sharp, metallic taps; a cracking like that heard when a frictional machine is at work; sounds like scratching; the twittering as of a bird."
"We have been present with Kate Fox" writes J. J. Morse in The Two Worlds (Vol. 19, p. 340) "when the raps were heard on a sheet of paper, held between the thumb and forefinger of another person standing beside the medium, the paper visibly shaking from the violence of the raps produced upon its surface."
Lord Adare's father, in experiments with D. D. Home, heard raps upon the medium's hand when he placed it upon his head. Raps came on a sheet of paper which they held by the corners. Lord Adare heard raps under his feet and distinctly felt the jar while the raps were taking place. He saw a table leg rap. The spirits by raps joined into their conversation and signified approval in a most emphatic way. He was told to understand that by remaining in the earth's atmosphere spirits get so charged that it is a positive relief to make sounds. Sometimes they cannot help rapping, and cannot control them. They discharge their electricity by a whole volley of taps.
The sounds may be single or combined knockings.
"It was the most singular noise," writes Stainton Moses on December 5, 1873, "that the combined knockings made. The room seemed to be full of intelligences manifesting their presence."
The sounds have distinct individuality. They have as permanent characteristics as the voice and the communicator is always known by his rapping style.
Dr. J. Garth Wilkinson wrote of an inward thrill going through the table and chairs and found the sensation best conveyed by the exclamation of his daughter: "Oh, papa, there is a heart in my chair."
"The departure of the spirits," writes J. H. Powell in Facts and Phases of Spiritualism, "was preceded by an indistinguishable number of raps, loud at first, then gradually faint and fainter until, like echoes on a hill, they faded away in the echoing distance."
In volume the sounds may grow from a tiny tick to a loud crash. But the crashing blows leave no mark, though normally the force would smash the table. The tonality of the raps differs according to the object upon which they resound. They may resemble the slight noises made by a mouse, a fretsaw, or the scratching of a finger-nail on wood or cloth and their rhythm is as varied as their tonality.
They often sound like detonations. There are instances in which the impression is borne out by effect. Archdeacon Colley, in a slate-writing experiment with Monck, placed his foot on the slate and felt a sensation of throbbing in the enclosed space-a heaving as when the confined steam lifts the lid of a kettle-and in a moment an explosion took place that scattered it in fragments over the carpet, like spray from a fountain. Such explosions and shatterings of the slate were frequently experienced in seances with Slade.
According to Mme. Blavatsky's biographers the founder of Theosophy was a powerful rapping medium in her 'teens. She caused raps inside the spectacles of a skeptical professor with such force that they were sent flying from his nose. In reply to a somewhat frivolous woman who asked what was the best conductor for raps, the table spelt out gold and the next moment the lady in question rushed out of the room with her hand clapped on her mouth as she had felt the raps on the gold in her artificial teeth.
Maxwell obtained raps in restaurants and railway refreshment rooms which were loud enough to attract public attention. In his Metapsychical Phenomena he gives the following description of experiences with Meurice: "The raps on the open umbrella are extremely curious. We have heard raps on the woodwork and on the silk at one and the same time; it is easy to perceive that the shock actually occurs in the wood-that the molecules of the latter are set in motion. The same thing occurs in the silk, and here observation is even more interesting still; and each rap looks like a drop of some invisible liquid falling on the silk from a respectable height. The stretched silk of the umbrella is quickly and slightly but surely dented in; sometimes the force with which the raps are given is such as to shake the umbrella. Nothing is more absorbing than the observation of an apparent conversation-by means of the umbrella-between the medium's personifications. Raps, imitating a burst of laughter in response to the observer's remarks, resound on the silk, like the rapid play of strong but tiny fingers. When raps on the umbrella are forthcoming, M. Meurice either holds the handle of the umbrella, or someone else does, while he simply touches the handle very lightly with his open palm. He never touches the silk."
His observations may be summed up as follows
(1) Every muscular movement, even a feeble one, is generally followed by a rap. (2) The intensity of the raps did not seem to me to be proportional to the muscular movement made. (3) The intensity of the raps did not seem to me to vary in proportion to their distance from the medium.
He often questioned mediums about their sensations when raps were being produced. They all acknowledged to a feeling of fatigue, of depletion, after a good seance. This feeling is perceptible even to observers themselves. One of the mediums experienced a feeling akin to cramp in the epigastric region when the raps were particularly loud.
Mrs. de Morgan writes in, From Matter to Spirit that once, through typtological communication, she was informed that raps would come through herself that day. "This was not expected but it was worth trying, and I therefore went into an uncarpeted room barely furnished, and sat down by the table, on which I laid my arm. Very soon loud raps, which I called some of the family to hear, resounded on the table. There seemed to be power enough to rap the number of times desired, but not to indicate letters so as to spell anything. The sounds soon ceased and never returned. As each rap seemed to be shot through my arm it was accompanied by a feeling like a slight blow or shock of electricity and an aching pain extending from the shoulder to the hand, which remained for more than an hour after they had entirely ceased. This experiment seemed to prove that the nerves of the human body were necessary, if not for the production, at least for the propagation of the sounds."
In Crawford's experiments the loudness of the raps varied with weight and massiveness of the psychic rods.
He put the medium on a weighing machine and measured the exact amount of ectoplasm necessary for the increase of rapping strength. He also found that the raps react upon the medium's body but that she was not conscious of any stress. The reaction, however, was not always the case.
"As soon as the seance begins," he writes, "we hear noises, raps, rap, rap on the floor near the medium. They become louder and louder, on the table, on the chairs of the sitters. Sometimes they are like hammer blows, so loud that they can be heard outside, and they shake the floor and the chairs. They can imitate any different sounds, the step of a man, the trot of a horse, the rubbing of a match, or the bouncing of a ball."
Sir William Barrett sat in the Goligher circle and wrote: "Very soon knocks came and messages were spelt out as one of us repeated the alphabet aloud. Suddenly the knocks increased in violence, and being encouraged, a tremendous bang came which shook the room and resembled the blow of a sledge hammer on an anvil."
In Proceedings, S.P.R., 1907, XVII, p. 726, a most extraordinary case of rapping is described. Mrs. Davis received a letter from India with the request to forward it to Mrs. W. She, placed the letter on the mantelpiece. Some time after raps were heard. They seemed to emanate from the neighborhood of the letter. She placed it on another spot. The raps followed the letter. It was learnt afterwards that the letter announced the death of Mrs. W.'s husband.
Hyslop, with a young non-professional lady, heard loud raps in a closed piano. He writes, in Contact with the Other World, "After getting raps under her feet I had her stand on a very thick cushion. When she was standing on the cushion, which was at least six or eight inches thick, the raps occurred exactly as before, with the same quality of sound. If made by the joints, the raps would have been muffled when the feet were on the cushion. I then had her stand with a foot on each of my hands, which rested on the cushion, and the raps occurred apparently on the floor with the same quality of sound as when her feet were on the floor. I then tried the steam radiator some distance away, and the rap had a metallic ring, as if on iron. I then tried the piano experiment again ... The raps were very loud, and made the string ring so that the sound could be heard perhaps a hundred feet away. "
Sir William Barrett writes in On the Threshold of the Unseen: "On one occasion I asked for the raps to come on a small table: near me, which Florrie (the medium) was not touching, they did so; I then placed one of my hands on the upper and the other on the under surface of the table, and in this position I felt the slight jarring made by the raps on the part of the table enclosed between my hands. It made no difference whether Florrie and I were alone in the room, as was often the case, or other observers were called in."
The distance to which the sound of raps carry may be considerable. In Southend, on the seashore in bright moonlight, metallic raps produced on the rail in the presence of Stainton Moses and Dr. Speer were audible to both of them when they were 70 yards apart. They were apparently made in the space between them.
An interesting non-psychic method of procuring raps is described in Psychic Research, February, 1930, by Mr. John E. Springer, Attorney-at-law of Palo Alto, California. He writes: "In one face of a small cardboard box I cut an aperture the size and shape of my ear. When fitted to the ear the box sticks on securely and becomes a sort of sounding board. Upon retiring I affix the box to the ear which is not to rest on the pillow, and I will as strongly as possible that as I fall asleep I shall be awakened by a given series of raps upon the cardboard. It frequently, but not always-happens that when I reach the stage of drowsiness where unconsciousness is about to supervene, loud and clear raps upon the box in the predetermined series bring me back to wakefulness with a start. The raps may be subjective, but it is difficult for one who experiences them to escape from the conviction that they are objective psychic raps."
Eusapia Paladino frequently rapped a certain number of times on the table with her fingers. Holding her hands about eighteen inches above the table the faint echoes of the raps were heard in the wood about two seconds later. She produced the same phenomenon with scratching sounds.
In the Margery seances the first raps were faint but definite, sounding like something soft inside a wooden box. Dr. Crandon listened to them through a stethoscope applied to the table. They were so magnified as to be unlike anything in his experience. Later they developed to a degree that Walter could render tunes or rhythmical phrases with a marked syncopation upon the cabinet, the table, the arm of Margery, the hands of the sitters, and even on the limited surface of a ring. Once he rapped out a popular tune unknown in his day and answered in explanation that they go everywhere, to our theatres and other places.
There are some rare cases on record in which raps were produced in the distance. The Seeress of Prevorst could cause raps in the houses of others. There were similar testimonies in Home's mediumship. Cromwell Varley stated before the Dialectical Society that he heard raps in his home after his arrival from a seance with D. D. Home. Next morning he received a letter from Home which disclosed that the medium knew of the occurrence.
Countess Panaigai wrote in a letter to Human Nature (Vol. XI.) that in a sitting with Home the name of her deceased child was rapped out and that Home predicted the hearing of raps in her own house. The prediction not only came true, but when a friend called her attention to it she found the little boot of her child, kept in a locked box in a bureau, from which the raps appeared to proceed, imprinted by a perfect star with a letter at each of the six points forming the name "Stella," as the deceased was called. Not even the family of the Countess knew anything of the box and Home, to whom she was an utter stranger, never was in her house.
REINCARNATION, the return to corporeal life of beings who have passed over and spent a period of existence in the Beyond. It is the fundamental doctrine of French spiritism and of theosophy. Both schools of thought claim a general liability to a series of reincarnations on earth. Theosophy at first, when Isis Unveiled was published in 1877 in New York, contended that a second reincarnation of a spirit on the same planet was not the rule, but the exception. Col. Olcott, the chief organizer of the theosophic movement, admitted, reincarnation for those only whose incarnation was a physical failure, i.e., a stillborn child or a congenital idiot. This view was later revised and, with the addition of the doctrine of Karma to the evolutionary progress, was worked out into a grand conception.
The doctrine of reincarnation itself is ancient. Pythagoras claimed that he was Euphorbus in a previous existence. In France it was advocated before Allan Kardec's time by several philosophers and mystics: by St. Simon, Prosper Enfantin, St. Martin, Fourier, Pierre Leroux and jean Reynaud. From an article of Aksakof in the London Spiritualist in 1875 it appears that Allan Kardec adopted it from spirit communications which were received by Celina Japhet. The mediumship of Celina Japhet was developed by M. Roustan, a mesmerizt, who believed in reincarnation. If the medium disclosed the doctrine under the effect of the mesmerizer's belief we can well understand how Kardec and his school could receive ample confirmation through automatists of his tenet that spiritual progress is achieved through a series of incarnations, always in the human race, that successive corporeal existences are the necessary steps to perfection and that the soul retains its individuality and memory after separation from the body. The influence of the Kardec school was powerful and by the appeal of its reconciliation with the apparent injustices of life easily gained the upperhand over Pierart and his followers who denied reincarnation and relied on the same kind of evidence as that which the Kardecists produced. Indeed, Alphonse Cahagnet, to whom we owe the earliest careful trance records in France, was the first to whom the communicators emphatically denied reincarnation, but admitted the existence of the soul anterior to its appearance on earth.
Outside France the doctrine of Allan Kardec was bitterly denounced by spiritualists. Andrew Jackson Davis, in America, declared it to be "a magnificent mansion built on sand." But he also believed in pre-existence and taught that "all souls existed from the beginning in the divine soul; all individuality which is, has been, or will be, had its pre-existence, has its present existence in creative being."
In England, William Howitt was the chief antagonist. He said that the doctrine was pitiable and repellent and argued that if it were true there must have been millions of spirits who, on entering the other world, have sought in vain their kindred, children and friends.
A very pertinent remark may be quoted from a published letter of D. D. Home: "I have had the pleasure of meeting at least twelve Marie Antoinettes, six or seven Marys of Scotland, a whole host of Louis and other kings, about twenty Great Alexanders, but never a plain John Smith. I, indeed, would like to cage the latter curiosity."
For its psychological import it is also interesting to note that D. D. Home, at the exact time of Allan Kardec's death, claimed to have received the communication: "I regret having taught the spiritist doctrine. Allan Kardec." (Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism).
All this, however, is no argument as reincarnation, if true, may not necessarily be a universal fact, it may not take place at once and, as regards Howitt's objection, it may be claimed that the double in sleep may establish meetings without recollecting it on awakening. Conan Doyle is probably right in pointing out that as reincarnation for the spirits is a question of their own future they may not be more enlightened on it than we are on our own future fate. It may be that reincarnation is optional, it may be that it is punitive. It may be imposed for the purposes of retribution or it may be undertaken for the fulfillment of a mission. The teachings of Imperator through Stainton Moses admitted reincarnation as another chance for souls that had sunk so low as practically to lose identity and in the case of high spirits who descend with a mission.
The opposition to the philosophy of Allan Kardec in England was not universal. He had some followers. Dr. Anna Kingsford translated many of his books. She believed herself to be the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary, while Mr. Edward Maitland believed that he was St. John the Divine.
In general spiritualistic experience there is little to support reincarnation. John King, the famous control of Eusapia Paladino, claimed to have been the father of Eusapia in a previous existence. The experiences of Dr. Carl A. Wickland and his wife in obsession cases do not bear out the theory. They were told by earthbound spirits, brought into their rescue circle, that having been theosophists in their life on passing over they had entered the aura of young children and obsessed them. The children, however, never cease to struggle against these invaders. In those cases in which the rescue circle of Dr. Wickland enlightened the obsessors of their error the sanity of the patient quickly returned as the obsessing influence was relieved.
The following borderland case is quoted by Prof. Richet from Les Miracles de la Volonte by Duchatel and Warcollier: "A distinguished physician of Palermo, M. Carmelo Samona, well-acquainted with metapsychic science, lost his little daughter, Alexandrina, aged five, in 1910. Mme. Samona was wild with grief. Three days after she saw the child in a dream who said to her: "I have not left you; I have become tiny like that," designating some very small object. A fresh pregnancy was the more unlikely in that Mme. Samona had undergone a serious ovarian operation a year previously. On April, 10, however, she became aware that she was pregnant. On May 4th it was predicted by Alexandrina, communicating by means of the table, that Mme. Samona would be delivered of twin girls, one of whom would entirely resemble Alexandrina. This came to pass. One of the twins had a mark on the left eye and another mark on the right ear with a symmetry of the face, precisely like the deceased child."
Among recent automatic scripts Mr. Frederic Bligh Bond, whose famous discovery of Edgar Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey, is described in The Gate of Remembrance, noticed reincarnation claims in the communications he received through Miss X. The old monks who communicated asserted that Miss X was one of the early Glastonbury monks and addressed her as Brother Simon. Neither Miss X nor Mr. Bligh Bond believed in reincarnation when the script came through. The incident is referred to in Bligh Bond's The Company of Avalon.
There is an interesting study by G. Arthur Hill in Proc. Vol. XXXVIII of Some Reincarnationist Automatic Scripts received by Mrs. Cary (pseudonym), a British working woman of about fifty years of age. No attempt was made to verify the historicity of the names and the case is weakened by Mrs. Cary's theosophic beliefs.
In The Road to Immortality, by Miss Cummins, F. W. H. Myers, communicating from the other side, admits reincarnation as an optional choice and as a necessity for "animal men," but not through a series of existences, and rules out the theosophic conception of Karma by his fascinating theory of group-souls.
The Strange Experiments of Col. Rochas
The feeling of "deja vue," which is so often quoted as an argument for reincarnation may be explained in a variety of ways. Letourneau's ancestral dreams is the most far-fetched theory, but inherently it is no more devoid of proof than reincarnation itself. The evidence which the spiritists advance is mostly weak. Experimental proof is wanting. But Col. Rochas came very near to producing it. He found that certain subjects, if put to sleep by means of longitudinal passes, can be made to retrace the previous phases of their existence down to their birth and beyond "into the grey" and then into a still earlier state of incarnation. By means of transversal passes the subject was brought back to his normal state by going through the same phases in order of their time, If the transversal passes were continued the subject, as in his recollection of past lives, was led into the future.
Mlle. Marie Mayo, the daughter of a French engineer, was one of Col. Rochas' subjects. She passed through various stages of hypnotic sleep; into the first stage of lethargy in which she was suggestible for a brief moment; into the first stage of somnambulism in which she was not at all suggestible and retained the memory of what happened in her preceding state and in her waking life; and into the state of rapport in which she heard no one else but the hypnotiser. In this state she began to exteriorize herself, a half phantom formed at the left and a half at the right, the colors red and blue, in a successive state the phantom halves united, the exteriorization of the astral body became complete but was attached to the body by a fluidic cord. In this state of exteriorization the astral body assumed shapes which accorded with the age in which the subject saw herself in going through the stages of her life. At the age of eight she wrote her name in Arabic. At that age she attended a school at Beirut. Beyond her birth she called herself Lina, the daughter of a fisherman in Brittany. She married at 20, her husband was also a fisherman, his name was Yvon; she did not remember his family name; she had one child who died at the age of 2; her husband perished in shipwreck. In a fit of despair she threw herself into the sea from the top of a precipice. Her body was eaten by fishes. All this was successively elicited. She first passed through the convulsions of drowning and then went back to her life as Lina, through the childbirth to girlhood, infancy, the state of "grey" and then spoke in a previous incarnation as a man, named Charles Mauville, who lived in the time of Louis XVIII. He was a clerk in a ministerial office in Paris, a bad man, a murderer who died at the age of fifty. Still further back she was a lady whose husband was a gentleman attached to the court. Her name was Madeleine de Saint-Marc. Being brought back by transversal passes she successively reached her real age of 18 and then was pushed, by a continuation of the passes two years into the future. Beyond this she could not go. She saw herself in a strange country with negroes, in a house, rather far away from a railway station, the name of which she could not read. Nor could she give any precise information which could be used for identification.
Another subject of Col. Rochas, Juliette Durand, a girl of 16, was pushed ahead up to the age of 25 when she died at Nice and then after a time became reincarnated in the future as Emile Chaumette in a family of easy circumstances, studied for the ministry and was appointed vicaire at Havre in 1940.
Unfortunately as regards the past it could never be proved that the personalities played by the subject had really lived. They were often very plausible. In some cases the places and the families spoken of existed but the individuals could never be traced in parish registers or family documents and the incarnations swarmed with improbabilities. Were they the result of suggestion? "They certainly do not come from me" said Col. Rochas, "for I have not only avoided everything that could lead the subject into any determined path, but I have often tried in vain to lead her astray by different suggestions; and the same has been the case with the experimenters who have devoted themselves to this study. ... Are we to assimilate these phenomena to mere dreams? Certainly not. There is in them a constancy, a regularity, which we do not find in ordinary dreams. ... And besides, how are we to explain why physical causes, such as longitudinal and transversal passes should have absolutely certain effects on the memory of the subjects between the moments of their birth and that of their present life, and that they produce phenomena which do not rest on any basis of fact. I believe that we must compare these manifestations with those which have been studied in the case of Mlle. Helene Smith, and generally with all those which are provisionally attributed to spirits, and in which we see the true and the false intermingled in a way calculated to drive to despair those who do not reflect upon the darkness in which all observers have to struggle at the beginning of every new science."
In Les Vies Successives, Col. Rochas tells the detailed story of these experiments.
When Allan Kardec died Leon Denis and Gabriel Delanne became the main pillars of the reincarnationist school in France. The general evidence which they relied on was fourfold: (1) infant prodigies, (2) spontaneous recollection of past lives, (3) exploration of memory under hypnosis, (4) the claims announced of coming reincarnation. They found a powerful supporter in Dr. Gustave Geley. His book, From the Unconscious to the Conscious was described as a veritable Bible of reincarnation by Dr. Innocinzo Calderone, founder and director of the Italian review, Filosofia della Scienza which has made a vast international inquiry in 1913 on reincarnation. Geley declared in his answer: "I am a reincarnationist for three reasons: (1) because the doctrine seems to me from the moral point of view fully satisfactory, (2) from the philosophic point of view absolutely rational and (3) from the scientific point of view likely, or-better still-probably true.." Another distinguished representative of French psychical thinking, Rend Sudre whose outlook is pronouncedly materialistic, ranks himself definitely in the opposite camp. He declares in an article in Psychic Research, May, 1930: "Even as I can admit the faith in survival from the religious point of view, I should in like measure reject as absurd the doctrine of reincarnation and I well understand how it is that the commonsense of the Anglo-Saxon refuses to bow to this teaching."
RESCUE CIRCLES of spiritualists, formed for the purpose of "waking up" the dead and freeing them from their earthbound state, are based on the idea that earthbound spirits are too gross to be reached by the influence of higher spirits from the other side. They stand closer to the material plane than to the spiritual. In many cases they do not realize that they are dead at all and live in a state of bewilderment. If they are enlightened on their true condition and prayers are offered for them they will progress to a higher existence.
The beginning of rescue circles may be traced to the Shaker communities of America. The appearance of a tribe of Indian controls aroused the impression that the Shakers were to teach and proselytize them. The first such circles were held by the wife of Col. Danskin of Baltimore and other ladies. The best work was performed by a circle in Buffalo between 1875 and 1900 and by Dr. Carl Wickland and his wife. The medium in the first case was Marcia M. Swain and Leander Fischer, a professor of music in Buffalo. The circle consisted of Daniel E. Bailey and his wife, the mother of the professor and Mrs. Aline M. Eggleston, the stenographer. The identity of the spirit brought to be "waked up" was often verified but as the search after such proofs entailed considerable labor and time it was, after a while, given up. The work of the circle is described in D. E. Bailey's Thoughts from the Inner Life, Boston, 1886. Twelve gripping records of these rescue seances were published in Admiral Moore's Glimpses of the Next State.
Similar mission work was carried on by E. C. Randall, also in Buffalo. The medium was Mrs. Emilie S. French. Randall's Frontiers of the After Life, New York, 1922, describes the results. Dr. Wickland's book, Thirty Years Among the Dead, Los Angeles, 1924, contains hundreds of interesting records. Later he also produced Gateway of Understanding. The work of the Tozer rescue circle in Melbourne is described in Conan Doyle's Wanderings of a Spiritualist. In California Charlotte Dresser's circle encountered similar earthbound spirits described in Spirit World and Spirit Life and Life Here and Hereafter. More recent works include Valley of the Shadow, 1994, by Peter F. Baker and Sixty Years a Spiritualist, 1995, by Alan House.
REVIVALS, outbreaks of religious mass enthusiasm, inspired by fervor or persecution. They are usually accompanied by a variety of psychic manifestations, luminous phenomena, aerial music, gift of healing, gift of tongues and prophecy. From June, 1688, to the end of February 19, 1689, five to six hundred prophets arose in France in Dauphiny and in the Vivarez as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV, and the consequent persecution. Under its effect eight thousand seers were counted in Languedoc in the first year. There hardly was a house which did not have inspired orators. Even children prophesied in tongues unknown to them. Heavenly music was heard day and night in the air, tongues of fire were observed and, at least in one case, the ordeal of the pyre was harmlessly undergone by the entranced leader Claris. Cavalier, Roland and Marion, the organizers of the insurgency, were all inspired orators. The army which they got up chose its own chief by their gifts of the spirit.
The great Irish revival in 1859 and the Welsh revival in 1904 were accompanied by similar phenomena, especially by hearing of music and seeing unexplainable lights.
Similar experiences were recorded in American revivals.
The Rev. John Crapsey, of Brookfield, Tioga County, was quoting the words of Jesus on the cross when "a mighty invisible power seemed suddenly to possess him, and a luminous appearance scintillated upon and around his hand, shining with brilliant effulgence in the eyes of all beholders. Under an impulse which I could not resist, I sprang," says Mr. Crapsey, "from the desk out upon the middle of the floor into the midst of the congregation; great signs and wonders then ensued and were witnessed by all. Fire and pillars of smoke and luminous light rose up bodily in our midst; men, women and even stammering children were seized, speaking with new tongues, and uttering prophecies. Prayers and exhortations were poured forth in abundance, and many of the congregation broke out into the most marvelous and heavenly singing."
A paper on the Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival of 1904-5 was published by the Rev. A. F. Fryer in Proc. Vol. XIX, 1905-7.
SEANCE, sitting for the purpose of obtaining supernormal manifestations or establishing communication with the dead. For success the presence of a medium is required. The sitters need not have psychic powers. The phenomena are stronger if they have. Their number should be limited and well chosen. It should not exceed six or eight. D. D. Home, even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of the Empress of France, refused to sit with more than eight. The two sexes should be about equally represented. The majority of the sitters should not be too old. Young sitters provide more favorable conditions. Those in ill health, preoccupied or worried should withdraw. Excitement, fatigue before the sitting should be avoided. The medium should not take any stimulants. He should be comfortable and kept in a genial frame of mind. Persons of doubtful morality should not be admitted into the circle. Skepticism does not prevent success but the effect of a hostile or suspicious mind is deleterious. The establishment of a favorable environment is the essential condition of experimentation. Both the medium and the experimenters have an equal share in success or failure. As Geley aptly remarks "Mediumistic investigations belong to the class of collective experiments, for the phenomena are the result of subconscious psycho -physiological collaboration between the medium and the experimenters."
"There is much reason to think," wrote Prof. De Morgan to Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace at an early period, "that the state of mind of the inquirer has something-be it external or internal-to do with the power of the phenomena to manifest themselves. This I take to be one of the phenomena-to be associated with the rest in inquiry into cause. It may be a consequence of action of incredulous feeling on the nervous system of the recipient; or it may be that the volition ---saythe spirit if you like-finds difficulty in communicating with a repellent organization; or, may be, is offended. Be it which it may, there is the fact."
Strangers should not be frequently introduced into the circle. A series of at least six sittings should be held without modifying the group. New sitters should be admitted one by one at intervals of three or four sittings. No more than two or three sittings should be held a week. The abuse of experimentation may bring about a nervous breakdown.
The order of the sitting appears to be a matter of consequence. The controls often make changes to produce a better combination of psychic currents. After a chain has been formed by holding hands or placing them on the table with fingertips touching, the sitters are requested to engage in general conversation or to sing. It is said that speech or singing creates vibrations which are helpful to the production of the phenomena. For the same purpose a gramophone is nearly always introduced.
Stainton Moses believed that the chief merit of music in the seance room is its soothing effect. It harmonizes conditions. In his own circle music was very seldom asked for by the communicators. The harmonizing was effected by means of perfumes and waves of cool scented air. Nor was singing introduced. Indeed, any noise, even loud conversation, was checked at once and they were told to keep still.
The utility of a general conversation, free and easy chatter, is that it prevents too much concentration on the part of the sitters. Tension, solemnity, eagerness, depression, are obstructive. Even with Home it often happened that strong attention prevented phenomena. When everybody stopped talking and looked at him he woke from the trance.
Natural, easy, relaxed attitude is best conducive to phenomena. Fear, terror, has an effect of breaking the manifestation. A table, partly levitated, may drop, a phantom may disappear at a scream. During his levitations Home always asked the sitters not to get excited and talk of something else as, until he had risen above the heads of the circle, any movement or excitement on the part of the persons present appeared to have the effect of checking the force at work.
Once in Nice in 1874 he was nearly overtaken by disaster. In trance he buried his face and hands in the flames of the open fireplace. On seeing his head encircled by flames Count de Komar started from his chair crying "Daniel! Daniel!" Home recoiled brusquely and after some moments he said: "You might have caused great harm to Daniel by your want of faith; and now we can do nothing more."
The medium should be carefully guarded from sudden emotions.
Dr. Frederick L. H. Willis, Professor of the New York Medical College, described his experience with a musical medium in The Spiritual Magazine, 1867: "Scarcely had the medium struck the first note upon the piano when the tambourine and the bells seemed to leap from the floor and join in unison. Carefully and noiselessly I stole into the room, and for several seconds it was my privilege to witness a rare and wonderful sight. I saw the bells and tambourine in motion. I saw the bells lifted as by invisible hands and chimed, each in its turn, accurately and beautifully with the piano. I saw the tambourine dexterously and scientifically manipulated with no mortal hand near it. But suddenly ... the medium became aware of my presence ... instantly everything ceased ... A wave of mental emotion passed over her mind, which was in itself sufficient to stop the phenomena at once."
In exemplification of the detrimental effect of any strong emotion on phenomena, Mrs. Emma Hardinge, in testifying before the London Dialectical Committee, narrated the case of the medium Conklin, who was invited to hold a number of seances in Washington with five or six gentlemen who were desirous not to be known. "The manifestations were very marked and decisive until Mr. Conklin discovered that one of the gentlemen present was no other than President Lincoln, when his anxiety and surprise became so great as entirely to stop the manifestations which were not again renewed till a mutual explanation had restored him to his normal state of mind."
The medium should not be made eager to produce the phenomena. He should not be impressed that it is of decisive importance to have results. Speaking of D. D. Home, Crookes wrote: "I used to say, let us sit round the fire and have a quiet chat and see if our friends are here and will do anything for us; we won't have any tests or precautions. On these occasions, when only my own family were present, some of the most convincing phenomena took place."
Atmospheric conditions have an important bearing. Dry climates are more favorable than wet ones. A thunderstorm is inimical. Maxwell observed that dry cold is helpful and rain and wind are often followed by failure. He found better phenomena when outside conditions favored the production of numerous sparks under the wheels of electric trams.
From 1880 William Eglinton kept a careful record of the atmospheric conditions during his seances. He found that of the 170 total failures in 1884-85 the weather was either very wet, damp, or depressing in the majority of instances.
The locality, the furniture of the seance room is also of consequence. A place saturated with historic atmosphere facilitates manifestations. With the Marquis Centurione Scotto much better results were obtained in the mediaeval Millesimo Castle than in Genoa. Harry Price had striking clairvoyant descriptions of the life of St. Agnes in a seance held in the Roman catacombs (Psychic Research, 1928, p. 665). The seance room should be plainly furnished. The table should be, if possible, entirely of wood, the chairs plain and wooden. Carpets, cushions, heavy hangings should be dispensed with. They appear to absorb the psychic force, whereas a wooden table stores it up. If possible the same room should be used on subsequent occasions and in the interval it should not be disturbed.
The advent of manifestations is usually heralded by a current of cold air passing through the hands of the sitters or by a chilling of the atmosphere. The psychic force which the phenomena necessitate is furnished by both the medium and the sitters. The sitters feel the drain in great fatigue and weakness afterwards. It is also demonstrable in loss of weight. The occurrence of phenomena in itself is no proof of spirit agency. The important thing is that their supernormal character should be established, that fraud, chance, unconscious muscular action, the play of imagination should be ruled out and, in the case of mental phenomena, the possibilities of subconscious acting should be duly examined. It is advisable to introduce instruments to register the objectivity of the manifestations. A camera cannot hallucinate. The influence of suggestion should be tested. If things do not happen in accordance with the desire of the medium and of the sitters and the phenomena are intelligent, the presence of an extraneous will gains added probability. In seances with Eusapia Paladino promises which she made were frustrated. The invisible operators broke photographic plates or blocks of paraffin with complete imprints. It is true that secondary personalities often disclose an antagonistic character. In practice the possibility is not so difficult to deal with. Ernesto Bozzano, in a seance with Eusapia, has seen himself confronted with the image of his wife with whom he had been in constant litigation all his life and, whose appearance he did not desire in the least. It takes an effort to suppose that such impersonation had been enacted by *a secondary personality. Hypnotic or secondary personalities cannot speak in strange languages which they have never acquired, cannot play instruments which require an unknown technique, nor can they produce the usual phenomena of the seance room. Subconscious impersonation could not reveal the future, things happening at a distance and would concentrate on the appearance of those desired or thought of.
The other extreme of the problem is spirit impersonation claimed by spiritualists to explain the frequent assumption of great characters on the part of the manifesting entities or to elucidate lying messages. This is a delicate and difficult complex in which it is the best to consult an experienced psychologist with experience in such manifestations.
Some seances of Home, according to the late Earl of Dunraven, were very touching and beautiful. A pure, lofty and religious tone more or less pervaded them. The solemnity which was always manifested at the name of God was remarkable.
The degree of perception among the sitters varies. It often happens at a seance, writes Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace "that some will see distinct light of which they will describe the form, appearance and position, while others see nothing at all. If only one or two persons see the lights, the rest will naturally impute it to their imagination; but there are cases in which only one or two of those present are unable to see them. There also are cases in which all see them, but in very different degrees of distinctness; yet that they see the same object is proved by their all agreeing as to the position and movement of the lights. Again, what some see as merely luminous clouds, others will see as distinct human forms, either partial or entire."
It is said that the phenomena often require careful preparation from the other side. When Eglinton produced materialized forms in the open air in Dr. Nichol's garden, "Dr. Richardson," the guide, declared "It was an experiment for our own satisfaction; we have been preparing this seance for two days past." He also said that the manifestations require thought, experiment and perseverance on the part of the spirits, and that not merely a few, but myriads were associated to produce them.
As a rule seances are held with a single medium. Another powerful medium introduces another control and the ensuing conflict between the controls often ruins the seance. But there are exceptions, too, especially as regards physical phenomena (See Medium). The best average number of sitters is 8-9, but many mediums sit in larger circles. The sitters of Indride Indridason sometimes approached seventy. Mrs. Ignath demonstrated direct writing before a hundred people. In isolated instances mediums have been known to demonstrate on the stage. The Davenport Brothers gave seances before as many as a thousand people. Others who held seances in public halls were: The Bangs Sisters, for spirit paintings; Mrs. Suydam, for fire-resistance; Mrs. A. E. Fay, Lulu Hurst, Mrs. Annie Abbot, and Miss Richardson for feats of strength; Mrs. Etta Roberts and Mrs. Bliss for materializations; Mrs. M. M. Hardy for paraffin moulds, William Eglinton for slate-writing and Mrs. Murphy Lydy for direct voice.
The first references to seance communications are found in the writings of Porphiry (born 223 A.D.).
The earliest record of seances was printed in 1659 in the Rev. Meric Casaubon's book A True and Faithful Relation of what passed between Dr. Dee and Some Spirits.
For after-seance phenomena see: Psychic Force.
SECOND SIGHT, supernormal perception at a distance in time and space; a traditional psychic faculty in certain families in certain countries, especially in Scotland. D. D. Home, who was descended from a Highland family claimed its possession and described it in these words: "A deadly tremor comes over me, and there is a film on my eyes, and I not only see persons, but hear conversations taking place at a distance." While in Paris he saw his brother then in the North Sea. He saw his fingers and toes fall off. Six months afterwards tidings came of his having been found dead on the ice, his fingers and toes having fallen off through the effects of scurvy."
The chief peculiarity of second sight is that the visions are often of a symbolic character.
"The vision of coming events which some of the Highlanders possess," said Mr. F. G. Fraser in a lecture before the Societe Internationale de Philologie, Sciences et Beaux Arts in March, 1927, "used to be accompanied, in some cases, by a nerve storm and by a subsequent prostration. It must not be confused with the sight of apparitions, nor does it depend upon artificial aids, such as accompanied by the invocation of the oracles in classic times."
"The foresight of the seers is not always prescience," wrote Dr. Samuel Johnson in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, 1775. "They are impressed with images, of which the event only shows them the meaning." He denied that "to the second sight nothing is presented but phantoms of evil. Good seems to have the same proportion in those visionary scenes as it obtains in real life." According to some old books (Higden's Polychronicon, Kirk's Secret Commonwealth) second sight is communicated by touch. Napier's Folklore mentions the practice as surviving in the present century.
SIXTH SENSE, the theory of its existence as a convenient explanation of transcendental phenomena was first put forward in the era of animal magnetism by Tardy de Montravel. He considered the sixth sense as the source and sum of all our partial senses. His contemporaries were of different opinion and explained clairvoyance and prevision by the magnetic fluid. Of late the sixth sense was given prominence as Prof. Richet's comprehensive term for the phenomena of telepathy, clairvoyance, psychometry, premonitions, predictions, crystal vision and phantasmal appearances. They are, in his view, manifestations of a new unknown sense which perceives the vibrations of reality. The conception is largely an attempt to do away with the spirit hypothesis, making its invocation unnecessary. He admits, however, that the working of this sense is incomprehensible when a choice has to be made between vibrations of reality, for instance in the case of a book test, the sensitive being called upon to read a certain line on a certain page in a certain book on the shelf which nobody opened. His main argument in favor of his theory is that the hypothesis of the sixth sense as a new physiological notion contradicts nothing that we learn from physiology, whereas the spirit hypothesis does.
Besides Prof. Richet's book there is another published under the title The Sixth Sense in English. Its author is Joseph Sinel, an amateur biologist.
SKOTOGRAPH (dark-writing, Greek) the term proposed by Miss Felicia Scatcherd for psychographs, spirit writing on the photographic plate in an unopened packet, and similar effects. Madge Donohoe, widow of Martin H. Donohoe, war correspondent of the Daily Chronicle is known to produce a bewildering variety of these skotographs: landscapes, often peopled ' flowers, star constellations, jewels, birds, dogs, hands ' eyes and faces. Her gift was tested by F. W. Warrick ' a chemical manufacturer and well known psychical researcher.
SOMNAMBULISM, a state of sleep, or half-waking trance, spontaneously or artificially induced in which subconscious faculties take the place of normal consciousness and direct the body in the performance of erratic (sleep walking) or highly intellectual actions (solving problems). It often starts as an exaggerated dream and it develops into a kind of secondary personality with a chain of memory of its own. This chain of memory will often be found part of the hypnotic memory. The personality , itself, in some cases, seems very wise and exhibits supernormal powers. .
The somnambulic state was the discovery of the Marquis de Puysegur. He induced it by passes, and finally, by a simple act of will, the Abbe Faria brought it on by shouting, Barberyn by praying, Braid by staring at a bright object, usually his lancet case. Bertrand assigned somnambulism to four causes: (1) A particular nervous temperament which predisposes individuals otherwise in good health to paroxysm of somnambulism during their ordinary sleep. (2) It is sometimes produced in the course of certain diseases of which it may be considered a symptom of a crisis. (3) It is often seen in the course of the proceedings necessary to bring on the condition known as animal magnetism. (4) It may result as a consequence of a high degree of mental exaltation. Accordingly, he distinguishes four kinds of somnambulism: the natural, the symptomatic, the artificial and ecstatic. Hypnotism would fall under the artificial, trance under the ecstatic variety.
Physiologically somnambulism differs from sleep in that the muscles retain the ordinary tension of the waking life. The eyeballs are in an unnatural position, drawn upwards and inwards so that the vision is directed to the top of the forehead. There is an insensibility to pain, taste and smell are paralyzed. The external senses are perfectly scaled. No memory is carried into the waking state.
There are various degrees of somnambulism. Richet speaks of semi-somnambulism: the state in which the medium retains consciousness while automatic manifestations take place. Catalepsy is a deep stage of somnambulism. The fakirs of India induce it by an effort of will.
Sylvan J. Muldoon in The Projection of the Astral Body speaks of astral somnambulism. It is a state of unconscious projection which, according to him, is far more common than is generally supposed. It mostly occurs in the dream state.
SOUL, the term is used in two senses: it indicates the ego and the spirit-body. In ancient writings man is described as a triune being: body, soul and spirit. According to this the soul is just as much an envelope, animated by the spirit, as the physical body is an envelope for the soul. At death the soul withdraws and continues to function in the spiritual world. Astral body and soul are almost equivalent terms. Occult teachings, however, speak of five bodies of differing degrees of refinement which will be cast away in time just as the physical body is left behind.
In Man and the Universe Sir Oliver Lodge defines the soul, the ego as "that controlling and guiding principle which is responsible for our personal expression and for the construction of the body, under the restrictions of physical condition and ancestry. In its higher development it includes also feeling and intelligence and will, and is the storehouse of mental experience. The body is its instrument or organ, enabling it to receive and convey physical impressions, and to effect and be effected by matter and energy."
SOUNDS, produced in the seance room fall into two main categories: ordinary and psychic. In the first category belong all the natural sounds, emitted by the manipulation of certain objects without any visible agency. In the second the sounds that apparently do not fall back on any visible object, both the source and the production of which is unknown.
The noises which accompany the movement of objects, lifting of table, shaking of bells, tambourines, etc., are ordinary noises. Raps, direct voice, direct music, sounds of invisible instruments, machines, rattle of chains, clashing noise of swords, horse galloping, etc. without having the noise-producing object in the room are psychic.
Another differentiation may be made according to the intelligence required for the sound production. To bang a table, to shake a bell, no intellectual equipment is necessary. The gramophone requires certain experience, the playing of an instrument artistic education.
The simplest psychic sounds are the raps. Their tonal scale and expressive power is surprising and their strength may increase to formidable blows (See: Movement.)
"At one time," writes Lord Adare in Experiences in Spiritualism with D. D. Home, "Miss Wynne, Home and I heard a very singular rumbling and rolling sort of sound in the air behind us, which was repeated three times."
The sounds in the seances of William Stainton Moses showed an extraordinary range. The first sound, as distinct from raps, was heard on March 23, 1873 and resembled the plucking of a string in mid-air. It soon imitated a musical clock which was in the next room. Two months later the sound became so loud that the vibration of the table was very marked. "The sound would traverse the room and seem to die away in the distance, and suddenly burst forth into great power over the table, which appeared, in some inexplicable way, to be used as a sounding board. The wood of the table vibrated under our hands exactly as it would have done had a violoncello been twanged while resting upon it.... The sounds were at times deafening and alternated between those made by the very small strings of a harp and such as would be caused by the violent thrumming of a violoncello resting on the top of a drum. ... With them, as with other phenomena, a great variety was caused by good or bad conditions. Just as illness or atmospheric disturbance made the perfumes and drapery coarse and unrefined, so the lyre sounds became harsh, unmusical and wooden. . . The table was used until at times the musical twang would shade into a ' sort of musical knock, and finally become an ordinary dull thud upon the table. . . . When things were not all right, the sound would assume a most melancholy wailing character, which was indescribably weird and saddening. It was not unlike the soughing of the wind through trees in the dead of night; a ghost-like dreary sound that few persons would sit long to listen to. That sound was always accompanied by black darkness in the room... No point, indeed, connected with these strange sounds is more remarkable than the intensity of feeling conveyed by them. . . Anger, sadness, content and mirth, solemnity and eagerness, are conveyed in a way that is quite inexplicable.... The wailing sounds above noticed seem at times almost to sob and shriek as if in a burst of sadness. Sometimes to a question put silence will be maintained for a while, and then little hesitating sounds will be made, very slowly and tremulously, as to convey perfectly the idea of uncertainty and doubt. Then again the reply will come clear, sonorous, and immediate as the "I do" of a witness in the box who has no doubt as to the answer he should give."
"The sounds used always to commence near the circle, and, so to say, radiate from it as a center into different parts of the room. Of late they have changed, and are usually audible to me before they strike the ear of any other person. How far this may be attributable to clairaudience, a faculty lately developed in me, I cannot say positively. But at any rate, they seem to me to commence by a distant rumble, not unlike the roll of a drum. This gradually draws nearer until it is audible to all, and the old sounds are in our midst.
"Hitherto I only mentioned the stringed musical sounds. . . --- But there are other sounds which professedly emanate from the same source and which resemble the sound of a tambourine played over our heads, or, at times, the flapping of a pair of large wings. ... Still later other sounds, like those made by a small zither, have presented themselves."
CarIton Speer, in his account given to Myers describes four kinds of musical sounds produced without any instrument in the room. The first was called "fairy bells." These resembled the tones produced by striking musical glasses with a small hammer. No definite tune was ever played, but the bells, on request, would always run up and down a scale in perfect tune. It was difficult to judge where the sounds came from but when he applied his car to the top of the table it seemed to be somehow in the wood. The second was a stringed instrument, akin to a violoncello but more powerful and sonorous. It was only heard in single notes and was employed to answer questions. The third sound was an exact imitation of an ordinary hand-bell. It denoted the presence of a particular spirit. The fourth sound can best be described by imagining the soft tone of a clarinet gradually increasing in intensity, until it rivalled the sound of a trumpet, then by degrees gradually diminishing to the original subdued tone of the clarinet, until it eventually died away in a long drawn-out melancholy wail. In no case were more than single notes, or at best isolated passages produced. The controlling agencies accounted for this with the peculiarly unmusical organization of the medium.
Various sounds were used by some of the controls as a special mark of identity. Grocyn produced pure sounds like of a thick harp string, Chom made the sound of an old-Egyptian harp with four strings. Said used a three stringed lyre, Roophal a seven-stringed one with a rippling sound, Kabbila's sound was like a drum, very deep, a sort of prolonged roll, etc.
It is said in mediumistic communications that the spirits, in their world, can create for themselves from fluidic material the things they wish. Certain it is that they can produce the sound of anything thus manufactured. We do not know how. But we have in Mrs. Gwendolyn K. Hack's Modern Psychic Mysteries at Millesimo Castle the interesting note that the spirit of the young aviator, Vittorio Centurione, always arrived and departed in his aeroplane. The coming of the aeroplane was heard from a distance, it descended into the seance room with the characteristic noise, flew above as if there was no limit of space and finally stopped. On the first occasion when he manifested, the approach of the plane was followed by the sound of falling, hissing and splashing into the water illustrating the very manner by which this aviator perished over the Lake Varese.
Dancing performances, duels were executed for the sitters' entertainment at the seances at Millesimo Castle. In the notes of the seance of September 24, 19281 we find: "D'Angelo: Here, in the midst of you, a little battle between two Romans is going to take place ... We heard the sound of two swords hastily withdrawn from their scabbards. They were crossed and glanced off each other in a sinister manner. Then we heard the most formidable blows, given first by one side and then by the other. These blows rained upon metal, echoing upon the shields and helmets of the warriors. We heard rapid footsteps pounding the floor as the combatants fought, now advancing, now retreating. It was quite alarming, and one could not avoid covering instinctively, when a powerful thrust came too close, for one felt that the next blow might glance off and strike one's head or neck."
Will Goldston writes in an account of a seance with Rudi Schneider in the Sunday Graphic, December 22, 1929: "Several heavy thuds followed, as though a giant were striking a block of marble with a mallet. The extraordinary thing was that the thuds did not seem to come from the walls, the ceiling or the floor, but from the table. They were powerful thuds, and yet they did not cause any vibration in the room, as such thuds caused by normal means would create."