[Page 7] ALTHOUGH what may be termed the psychic science has been known from the days of remote antiquity to the few, whose motto was “To keep silence," yet the interest in it, which has now been awakened in all parts of the civilized world, is of comparatively recent growth. The credit of drawing public attention in this direction is in a measure due to Professor Buchanan, of America, who in !849 wrote: [Journal of Man, Vol. I., p. ,51] — “About nine years since, in conversation with Bishop Polk, of the Episcopal Church, he informed me that his own sensibility was so acute, that if he should by accident touch a piece of brass, even in the night, when he could not see what he touched, he immediately felt the influence through his system, and could recognize the offensive metallic taste". This conversation suggested a line of inquiry to the Professor, who for some years pursued a series of experiments with the object of discovering the action of [Page 8] metals, drugs, and strongly flavoured substance upon persons of that sensitive temperament, which is the peculiar idiosyncrasy of psychometers and thought-readers. His results were given out from time to time in the "Journal of Man", and have more recently been embodied in a work entitled " Psychometry". At an early stage, the investigation was taken up by Professor Denton and his wife, who performed together a vast number of experiments, principally with objects of archaeological interest, and published a full account in 1863, in the well-known book, "The Soul of Things", which has now passed through a number of editions. The year 1882 witnessed the foundation, in London, of the Society for Psychical Research, who at once took up the subject of super-sensuous perception and the nature and laws of the direct action of mind on mind. An exhaustive series of experiments under test conditions has been carried on ever since by scientific members of that society, and recorded in the reports which have from time to time been issued by them, and have brought a large portion of the English reading public to, at any rate, a partial belief in what has been termed " thought - transference", or, more popularly, "thought-reading". English society was astounded at the spectacle of a number of her recognized scientists giving their attention to things which it had been customary to consider as merely the humbug of quacks and charlatans. Talk led to action, and before long in English drawing-rooms ladies and gentlemen were to be seen practising what is called the "Willing Game", or, blindfolded and hand in hand, wandering about the room in search of the hidden pin. Everywhere the question was asked:
Although the dual
title of Psychometry and Thought-transference has been
given to this pamphlet, these two subjects are, in reality,
branches of one and the same psychic science, to which
the name Psychometry — from the Greek ψυχή μέτρον,
soul as a measure — is as applicable as any other.
For an impression to pass from one person to another or from
a picture to a person, we may assume from analogy (1) that
there is some intervening medium through which that impression
can be transmitted; ( 2) that there is a force to give the
momentum necessary to convey it from one point to another;
and (3) that there is an apparatus capable of registering
the impression and converting it into terms of ordinary consciousness.
Let us take the familiar illustration of the electric telegraph.
The battery gives the necessary force, the impression is
transferred through the wire, and the instrument registers
it. But, it may be said, in many of the recorded cases of
thought-transference — the telegraphic appearance of
one person to another at a distance, for instance — there
is no wire to conduct the impression, so the analogy falls
to the ground. Not so. For
one of Edison's latest additions to applied electrical science is an instrument by [Page 9] which a telegraphic message can be shot from one point to another — within certain limits of distance — with no more solid conducting medium for its transmission than is afforded by the atmosphere surrounding our globe.
Furthermore, the possibility of numerous telepathic vibrations crossing in their transit, without interfering with each other, has a close analogy in electrical science. For in the Pall Mall Gazette for May 27, 1886, we read: —
“The invention of the phonopore serves to remind us how small a corner of the veil of nature we have lifted in matters electrical. The duplexing, or even the quadruplexing of an Atlantic cable, by means of which two or four messages can be sent from each end of one cable at the same time without conflict or confusion, is about as startling, when carefully considered, as any purely material occurrence can be. But the phonopore, the principle of which consists in employing the electrical ”induction noises" as motive power to work telegraphic instruments, or transmit the voice, or do both at once, is far more remarkable. Mr. Langdon Davies has proved the existence of this new special form of electrical energy, and has constructed already a variety of instruments to embody it practically. The mathematico - physical explanation of the ‘phonophoric impulse' has yet to be found."
If electrical messages can cross in a cable without interfering with each other, why should not telepathic impulses betwixt persons on opposite sides of the globe ? The one phenomenon is not more remarkable than the other.
Now, the hypothesis of an ether filling all space, and even interpenetrating solid bodies, has been maintained by philosophers and scientists of diverse schools. To Descartes, who made extension the sole essential property of matter, and matter a necessary condition of extension, the bare existence of bodies apparently at a distance was a proof of the existence of a continuous medium between them. Newton accounted for gravitation by differences of pressure in an ether, but did not publish his theory, “ because he was not able from experiment and observation to give a satisfactory account of this medium, and the manner of its operation in producing the chief phenomena of nature". Huygens propounded the theory of a luminiferous ether to explain the phenomena of light. Faraday conjectured that it might also be the agent in electro-magnetic phenomena. “For my own part", he says, “considering the relation of a vacuum to the magnetic force and the general character of magnetic phenomena external to the magnet, I am much more inclined to the notion that in transmission of the force there is such an action external to the magnet, than that the effects are merely attraction and repulsion at a distance. Such an action may be a function of the ether; for it is not unlikely that, if there be an ether, it should have other uses than simply the conveyance of radiation. [Experimental Researches, 3075] – [Page 10]
J. Clerk Maxwell says on this subject: “Whatever difficulties we may have in forming a consistent idea of the constitution of the ether, there can be no doubt that the interplanetary and interstellar spaces are not empty, but are occupied by a material substance or body, which is certainly the largest and probably the most uniform body of which we have any knowledge. Whether this vast homogeneous expanse of isotropic matter is fitted, not only to be a medium of physical interaction between distant bodies, and to fulfil other physical functions, of which perhaps we have as yet no conception, but also, as the authors of the' Unseen Universe' seem to suggest, to constitute the material organisms of beings exercising functions of life and mind as high or higher than ours are at present, is a question far transcending the limits of physical speculation”. We also find it stated in the works of this and other authors, that their ether is elastic and has a definite density; and that it is capable of transmitting energy in the form of vibrations or waves. According to Fresnel, half this energy is in the form of potential energy, due to the distortion of elementary portions of the medium, and half in the form of kinetic energy; due to the motion of the medium.
Some of the recent papers on scientific subjects seem to indicate that one ether is not sufficient to account for all different phenomena of the manifestations of light, heat, electricity, etc., attributed to its agency, but there must be several ethers, unless, indeed, the one ether may be manifested in a number of different ways.
The foregoing is a rough sketch of the views of the physical scientists on the necessity of there being a medium or mediums pervading space and capable of transmitting energies of different kinds in the form of vibrations. The teaching, however, of the Kabbalistic and other schools, of what is wrongly termed occult science (for there can be but one science, even if men may study different parts of it, or see it from different points of view), as given out in recent times in the works of Eliphas Levi and in the publications of the Theosophical Society, has several points of difference from that of the physical scientists. They recognise a tenuous cosmic ether, which they call akaz, which exists between one solar system and another, and it is as infinite as the original cosmic matter. It is the result of motion in that cosmic matter. They furthermore state that there is in the solar system a tenuous substance which they call the astral light, or astral fluid. This is not akaz, but a different form of cosmic ether. Its existence is based upon the fact that certain phenomena can only be explained upon the assumption of such a substance. It is an object of direct perception to persons possessing a highly-trained psychic sense. It is that entity in the manifested solar system which corresponds with what is called the Sooksma Saririra in man. Though it exists uniformly throughout space in the solar system, it is yet more dense around certain objects by reason of their [Page 11] molecular action. This is especially the case around the brain and spinal cord of human beings, where it forms what is called the ‘aura'. Where it still more closely surrounds the nerve cells and nerve tubes, it is called the ‘nerve-aura', which is not nerve fluid, but the aura of the nerve-fluid. This astral fluid only comes into existence when differentiation takes place in the original Mula Prakriti, or undifferentiated cosmic matter, the one essence in its pralayic condition. If the scientists recognise a distinction between bound ether and free ether, it amounts to the same kind of distinction as that between astral fluid and akaz. As, according to the hypothesis of the scientists, ether can be thrown into vibration, and in that form transmit the energies of light, heat, and electricity, so in like manner is the astral fluid capable of receiving, transmitting, and retaining impressions of manifold kinds. [ For further information see Theosophist for March, 1885, Art. "Notes on Occult Philosophy" by T. Subba Row ]
But the attributes of the astral fluid are much more numerous than those of the ether of the scientist. For the image of every object in nature and every scene that takes place is impressed upon it, and, once impressed, remains for all time, and can be summoned up by the psychic sense of one who has the gift of reading this universal medium. This fact is most poetically illustrated by Professor Draper, where he speaks of ganglionic impressions on the surface of polished metal being registered and preserved for an indefinite space of time. “A shadow," he says “never falls upon a wall without leaving thereupon a permanent trace — a trace which might be made visible by resorting to proper processes. The portraits of our friends or landscape views may be hidden from the eye on the sensitive surface, but they are ready to make their appearance as soon as proper developers are resorted to. A spectre is concealed on a silver or glassy surface until by our necromancy we make it come forth into the visible world. Upon the walls of our most private apartments, when we think the eye of intrusion is altogether shut out and our retirement can never be profaned, there exist the vestiges of all our acts, silhouettes of whatever we have done."
But beyond registering images, we are told that the astral fluid registers every thought of man, so that it forms, as it were, the book of nature, the soul of the Kosmos, the universal mind, a history of the world and all its sciences and schools of thought, from the day when the Parabrahmic breath went forth and the eternal Logos awoke into activity. Some men of science have come very near this truth; for Babbage, and subsequently Jevons, have stated their conviction that every thought, displacing the particles of the brain and setting them in motion, scatters them throughout the universe, and that “each particle of the existing matter must be a register of all that has happened". [Page 12] The following experience of Mrs. Denton may perhaps help to give some idea of the astral world as it appears to a psychometer: — [ “Soul of Things" Denton. Vol. iii., pp. 345-6 ] —
“I am in a different world from any I have ever observed. I have become positive not only to outward surroundings, but even to the psychometric influences usually received, in order to distinguish this. Yet it appears like a realm of real, substantial existences, stretching back, and backward still, almost interminably into both time and space.
”I see forms — people, and the results of their labours; even the very effort that produced the results. At first I thought it was a species of mirage. It seemed like a picture of all that had ever been; yet now it seemed to me that I could step from this planet upon that world (I can call it nothing else), and travel back through all the scenes that have ever transpired in this.
“What a difference between that which we recognise as matter here and what seems like matter there! In the one, the elements are so coarse and so angular, I wonder that we can endure it at all, much more that we can desire to continue our present relation to it. In the other, all the elements are so refined, they are so free from those great rough angularities which characterise the elements here, that I can but regard that as by so much more than this, the real existence.
“Something appears to me to be passing continually from our earth, and from all existences on its surface, only to take on there the self-same form as that from which it emanated here; as if every moment as it passed had borne with it all eternal fixedness, not the record merely of our thoughts and deeds, but the actual imperishable being, quick with pulsing life, thinking the thought and performing the deed, instead of passing away into utter nothingness; that which is here and now for ever continuing, an eternized there and then.
“That portion of this realm which represents our earth and her history appears to occupy that portion of space through which the earth has heretofore passed — her entire pathway since she became an independent member of the solar system."
On that occasion Mrs. Denton probably saw more of the real soul of things behind the material veil of Nature than in any of her other recorded experiments.
To revert to the subject of auras, which play an important part both in Thought-transference and Psychometry, the theory is that every object, animate and inanimate, has an aura — a specialization of the astral fluid surrounding it, which varies in proportion to its molecular activity. These auras and the images they contain may be directly perceived by some sensitives. [Vide Reichenbach's experiments ] — But unless the sensitive is thoroughly trained, and can carry his will-power into that plane [Page 13] of matter, he cannot fix the images which he sees sufficiently long to interpret them into terms of the language of the normal human consciousness of our race. But this applies rather to Psychometry than to Thought-transference, for in the latter case the necessity for will-power is on the side of the agent who transmits the image or thought to the aura of the percipient. It is the aura round the nerve-cells and nerve-tubes that enables a man to catch the impression made upon the astral light of the Kosmos. Adopting for the moment the division of the mental-phenomena into the three divisions of modern psychologists — intellectual images, emotions, and volition — we find that the intellectual image makes itself felt by the impression of the image on the aura; that emotion is manifested in a change of colour, which corresponds with the change of feeling; and that volition makes itself felt by an increase in vibration in the astral aura. An illustration will perhaps make this clearer: suppose that the agent mentally conceives the idea of a circle. He forms the image of the figure in his aura by means of a physical alteration in his nervous fluid. Then by an act of volition he converts the image into vibration, in which condition it passes through the astral fluid to the aura of the percipient, where the reverse process takes place. The vibration is the substance of the image in a different form. So, if a certain kind of vibration corresponds to a certain thought or image in one man's mind, it can be reconverted into the same thought or image in the sensorium of another. The metathesis of thought is a natural process in transcendental chemistry. For the fundamental basis of all occult science is that there is but one essence, and that all things — concrete matter in its various manifestations, forethought, and what is called spirit — are but different forms of this cosmic matter, the difference consisting in the distance separating the molecules and in their arrangement. We see glimpses of this law in some of the commonest phenomena of nature. The force which drives a locomotive engine is steam. That steam can be condensed to water, but it is still the same matter, the principal differences being that the molecules are closer together and move upon each other according to a different plan. That water can then be frozen. The ice is still the same matter as it was when it was manifested as steam or force, for steam is invisible to the eye, but its molecules have arranged themselves according to a mathematical plan in assuming a crystal in form. But this ice can again be converted into steam. So it is with thought, although from the ethereal nature of the substances occular demonstration is out of the question. This is no new idea. We find traces of it in the earliest times of which there is any written record. It would appear that the Egyptians placed the eternal idea pervading the universe in the ether, or the will going forth and becoming force and matter.[ See Cory. “Ancient Fragments" page 240 ] In our own time this same idea about the ether [Page 14 ] has been revived by the authors of the “Unseen Universe", who say that from ether have come all things, and to it all will return; that the images of all things are indelibly impressed upon it; and that it is the storehouse of the germs, or of the remains of all visible forms, and even ideas. To summarise the process of the transference of a thought or image, we may say (1) that it is conceived in the mind of the operator (the nature of that conception is too deep a subject to be treated here); (2) that it passes into the nerve-fluid, interpenetrating and surrounding the brain with its aura, the nerve-aura; where (3) it is met by the will or odylic fluid, which is generated in a different part of the body (i.e.,about the solar plexus) and a chemical reaction takes place, which results in (4) an image being formed in the astral aura surrounding the agent's head, and (5) transmitted in the form of waves through the astral fluid to (6) the astral aura of the percipient, whence it is conducted through his nerve-aura and nerve-fluid, and thus (7) reaching his sensorium, is registered in terms of ordinary consciousness as an image.
If the will of the operator or agent in a thought-transference experiment is not sufficiently powerful to give direction to the vibration generated in the astral fluid, touch is required. Where there is magnetic sympathy, or at least absence of repulsive tendency, the vibration immediately reaches its destination.
A concrete representation of colour in the aura or halo surrounding the head may be seen in any image or painting of Sri Buddha, which is always depicted in a number of layers of different colours. These coloured layers of aura are called the “Rays". The nimbus, or glory, is also associated with the illuminated personages of all religions.
The aura of every particle of inanimate matter is capable of taking, so to speak, a permanent astral photograph of every occurrence and every scene which has taken place in the neighbourhood.“It seems", says Professor Hitchcock, [ Religion of Geology ] — speaking of the influence of light upon bodies and of the formation of pictures upon them by means of it, “that this photographic influence pervades all nature, nor can we say where it stops. We do not know, but it may imprint upon the world around us our features, as they are modified by various passions, and thus fill nature with daguerreotype impressions of all our actions;........ it may be, too, that there are tests by which nature, more skilful than any photographist, can bring out and fix these portraits, so that acuter senses than ours shall see them as on a great canvas, spread over the material universe. Perhaps, too, they may never fade from that canvas, but become specimens in the great picture-gallery of eternity".
But how, some one may object, can such a small particle of matter hold such extensive images ? How can every particle reflect every image ? And how can so [Page 15 ] many images be photographed in the same space without making a composite image, a mere smudge ? The first two of these objections have been answered :” If”, says a writer on the subject, “one hold a drop of quicksilver on a plate, the face is reflected in it (so are all the objects in the room). If the drop be split up into a thousand drops, each one reflects the face again." This may be carried on to infinity, each particle reflecting surrounding objects.
[ See Platonist for January, 1884. Art. “Psychometry", by W. Q. Judge] “If one erect a paper screen, say five feet square, and stand behind it, he will find, of course, that the view in front is completely obstructed. But make a pin-hole in the right-hand upper corner, and place the eye thereat. What follows ? He sees the objects that were hitherto concealed. Make another pin-hole at the opposite corner, five feet away, and the same objects or scene can be viewed in their entirety. This can of course be repeated in all parts of the screen. If at the same time that he is looking through the right-hand upper corner, a camera lens is put through a hole in the centre of the screen, a photograph of all he is looking at through the pinhole will be taken by the camera. This proves that the image of the objects or scene is impressed on or thrown against every part of the screen; and that upon the minutest point, or rather, upon the smallest piece of the screen, will be found a picture in its entirety of the whole object or scene that is before it, as well as a complete picture thrown over the whole body of the screen."
Again, “If five men stand in front of one man ten feet away, each pair of eyes of the five sees the one man; proving that there exists in each separate retina a separate and complete image of the one object".
Physiologists admit that images reflected on the retina may somehow be impressed upon the matter of the brain, and remain there for the rest of the life of the owner of that brain, who can at any time call them up as images. In like manner they can be and are impressed around inorganic matter outside the human body everywhere throughout nature, and those images remain there, though it may not be in the form of images, but in some specialized condition of astral-light, capable of being converted again into pictures, and there they remain for all time. This is an adequate answer to the first two queries. In answer to the last we can only postulate that the conditions of space are quite different on a higher plane, which corresponds in a sense with what has been called the fourth dimension of space; and that energy expended on that plane is far more enduring in its effects, than energy expended on the ordinary plane. But the proof lies on the plane in question, and can only be demonstrated to one who has developed his senses on that plane.
A good psychometer can look forward or backward in time, though he does not speak of it as if it were the same thing that it is in our everyday life, as [Page 16] measured by chronometers and clocks, but more as different points separate from one another. According as he goes backward or forward in this sense, he can describe one after another scenes which have taken place from a remote antiquity up to the present day, all such scenes, in fact, as have been reflected by the object psychometrized. The following illustration will give an idea of the way a psychometer sees and describes scenes: [Soul of Things by Denton- Vol. i., p. 110 ] —
“An experiment made with a tertiary fossil, obtained
near Calabayal in Cuba object to be psychometrized wrapped
,in paper and placed on the subject's head. Mrs:
Denton, the psychometer, said:
“I see streams of water running down the side of a hill; the water is very much charged with foreign matter. There are rocks visible that seem to have been formed by deposit from the water. There are fossils in the rocks, but they differ from any I ever saw before.
“I go back in time, and see a volcano and a shower of fire. There is along, dark strip of rock from the low ground up to the volcano. The land seems very unstable, rocking and heaving up and sinking down; sometimes appearing above the water and sometimes vanishing beneath. I seem to be on an island. The eastern part is less stable than the western. All the western part is under water now. The island is longer from east to west than from north to south. I think it is south from here. The coast is very angular. I see what would probably be called a barrier reef along the coast, and so regular is a portion of it that it looks artificial.
“The climate is delightful. I seem to be on the north side of the island, west of the centre, and somewhat inland.
“I have a glimpse of a grove, with vines stretching from tree to tree, and naked boys climbing on them.
“Farther south and east is a strip of land richer than here. This seems to have been washed by the sea. There is a kind of point here, and I see what looks like an artificial ditch."
At the time when this examination was made — writes the professor — I did not know on what part of the island of Cuba the specimen was obtained; but on writing to Mr. McDonald, Madison, Wisconsin, from whom I received it, he informed me that "Calabayal is twelve miles south of the city of Havanah, at a point where a railroad crosses a stream, half way between Havanah and Santiago". Then follows an identification of the place described by Mrs. Denton, with the spot from which the specimen had been obtained.
The following is another good case from the same book :—
“Out of nearly two hundred specimens of various kinds, from different parts of the world, wrapped in paper, Mrs. Denton took one, not knowing which it was. She said: — [Page 17]
”I seem to oscillate between the city and a country which is rough and rocky. The buildings in the city being high and the streets being narrow, they look dark. There is a good deal of grandeur about them. The people seem to be busy, and move about as if they had great interest in what was going on. It is not merely an interest in physical matters, either. There seems to be two or three influences in this somewhat different from our own time.
“Now I seem to be in a long room of a large building. At one end the ceiling comes down lower, and is supported by pillars or columns, some of which have broad capitals, that are ornamented by deeply-cut figures.
“I see a large temple. I am standing, I think, in front of it. The entrance is at some distance under a great archway; there are some steps in front going up for some distance. This end of the building seems to be much higher than the other. After passing through the door, I see a part of a very rich building. It seems to be a place of a great deal of ceremony. I feel the influence of the persons about, but they are not as much here as in other parts. The impression I received from this place comes nearer to my idea of a Jewish Synagogue than any other buildings. I feel the influence of priests with long robes on. What a great deal of ceremony there is; but I do not obtain a very strong sense of devotion. They seem to have lost the true devotion in the form of it.
"On one side is a place that, I judge, is for the priest. All the work about it seems plain, but grand. There are no little ornaments, but all are substantial. A great effect seems to be produced here by different colours; but it does not seem like paint. I cannot tell what it is. It seems to be inherent in the material itself. In one place I see a gold colour. It seems pure enough to be gold itself. There are either precious stones, or something resembling them. If artificial, there is a great deal of purity about them.
“ I see three places that seem made for people to stand in. They are near each other, but separated. Persons seem to stand in them and talk to some one on the other side. I believe this is a Catholic place of worship after all. I feel that influence now. Yes, that is it. There is a place connected with this that is very little ornamented, and seems gloomy. It is very massive and prison like. I see a great many people outside. From this I obtain an idea of what may be done with architecture with sufficient means.
"On examining the paper in which the specimen had been wrapped, I found it marked — Modern Mosaic, Rome. From what part of the eternal city it came from, I am sorry to say I do not know."
This case would not, of course, be sufficient by itself to establish psychometry. For it is impossible to verify most of what the psychometer said. But there is a certain amount of circumstantial evidence contained in it. In the first place, Mrs. D. took the specimen out of a large number, all [Page 18] similarly wrapped in several layers of paper. Many of them were fossils, bones and geological formations. But she at once became en rapport with city buildings. She also described colour effects which seemed not to be produced by paint, but by colour intrinsic in the materials. Furthermore, the place being Rome, it is not improbable that the mosaic should have been in a Catholic place of worship. There is no statement made by the psychometer which can be disproved, or is radically in conflict with what we may conceive to be the probable truth. One such case is not sufficient to prove the truth of psychometry. But there are hundreds of similar cases bearing intrinsic evidence of truth; and they are sufficient to justify us in accepting the theory of psychometry as a working hypothesis on which we may further investigate the subject, and may perchance at length establish it on a scientific basis.
One point which the case in question shows is that not only does the psychometer behold scenes as they appeared in the past, but also the actors as they flitted across the stage, and acts which they performed. This will be more clearly brought out by another case related to me by a friend which also shows how a psychometer goes forward and backward in time :—
A Theosophist dug up near Sihor in Kathiawar some fragments of a skull, in one of which was a round hole. This he wrapped in paper and placed it on the head of a friend, who did not know that he had any psychometric faculty, and indeed ridiculed such things. However, he presently said that he saw a temple by a lake, and described the surrounding scenery. When told to go inside the temple, he described a lingham. He was told to go back (in time), and also to come forward. He described a town at a short distance, and several other things. He then gave an account of an affray which he saw going on, and described the costumes and accoutrements of the combatants, and arrows flying through the air. Then he saw a man fall struck through the head with an arrow, and asked if it was not something from that man which had been put on his head.
The existence of fossil fish-bones and other objects testified to the former existence of a lake in the neighbourhood, and there is considerable probability about the story, but it is useless for scientific purposes, as the man who placed the bone on his friend's head knew what it was, and may have “suggested" by thought-transference his own ideas to his friend. The fact that the surface of bone was not exposed at the time of the fight does not count for anything, as there is a thick layer of astral light surrounding the brain of a man and forming his aura. Some of this might easily have adhered to the fragment of bone, and carried the impress of his latest visions and thoughts.
When a letter is placed on a psychometer's forehead, in his hands, or in some way in contact with him, three things may occur: — ( 1) He may see and describe the personal appearance of the writer; (2) He may feel and describe [Page 19] the emotions which animated him when he penned the epistle; and (3) He may read the letter itself, though it be outside the field of vision of his eyes.
The first is what is commonly called clairvoyance. The letter puts the sensitive en rapport with the writer, and he evokes the reflection of his image in the astral light, where space, as we understand it, does not exist. A good instance of this happened in the north of India. A party of friends were talking about psychometry, and one of them, a lady, volunteered to try an experiment. A bundle of letters was brought, and one of them placed on the lady's head. She looked for a few moments intently, as if gazing into space, and all of a sudden burst out laughing. When asked what she was laughing at, she said she saw just the top of a man's head covered with short, dark hair sticking straight up. Presently she saw the rest of him, and said: “Why ! It's little—", naming a professor, who was personally known to her, but whom she had not seen for a long time. She was quite right. Of the second phenomenon a number of cases are given by Dr. Buchanan in his book. [ "Psychometry” ] But the objection may justly be raised that the doctor knew the contents and who were the writers of the letters. However, the following has been selected as bearing evidence of not having been transmitted through the doctor's mind, but direct from the writer's aura which clung about the letter. The subject himself wrote an account of his sensations on the spot in his memorandum-book in the following words: —
“He (Dr. B.) placed a folded letter with the sealed side only seen on the table, and requested me to place my right hand upon it. The experiment seemed to me preposterous; but I remarked that whatever, if any, sensation followed I should truly communicate it. I felt nothing in my frame at the moment, but very soon an increasing, unusual heat in the palm of my hand; this was followed by a prickling sensation, commencing in my fingers' ends, and passing gradually over the top of my hand and up the outside of my arm. I felt for nearly a minute no change in my mental condition, and stated this. Dr. Buchanan had given no hint of the nature or author of any letter he had with him — and I had no bias or subject on my mind from the day's experience to influence me. A rush of sadness, solemnity, and distress suddenly came over me; my thoughts were confused and yet rapid — and I mentioned there is trouble and sorrow here. I could not have remembered anything more than a general impression of it after the letter was removed.
“Another letter was laid upon the table under my hand. My first sensations were sharper and stronger than before, passing up in the same manner from my fingers' ends. In less than a minute my whole arm became violently agitated, and I yielded to an irresistible impulse to give utterance to my thoughts and feelings. A determined, self-confident, daring, and triumphant feeling suggested the language I used, and it seemed to me that I could have [Page 20] gone on triumphantly to the accomplishment of any purpose, however subtle or strong might be the opposition to be overcome. My whole frame was shaken, my strength wrought up at the highest tension, my face and arm burned, and near the close of my description (which was also taken down as in other hands), when I retouched the letter after repeated removals of my hand by Dr. B. in consequence of my great excitement, it was like touching fire which ran to my very toes."
The former letter was one written by a person in great grief at the loss of a relative. The latter was an important political letter written by General Jackson. Probably the vibration in the aura of the letters was taken up by the nerve-aura of the sensitive — as one tuning-fork takes up the vibration of another in its immediate neighbourhood — and was conducted by the aura surrounding the nerves of his arm to that of the spinal cord, and thence to the head, where the brain in its capacity of a sensory ganglion registered the vibration in terms of moral sensation, and as such made it manifest to the normal consciousness.
The third case-reading the letter itself — is (a) a power possessed by occultists, (b) it can be done by some sensitives when in the somnambulic trance. Both these cases are beside the subject of the present paper.
Mrs. Buchanan psychologized many letters correctly. She preferred to hold them in her hands without an envelope, as a sealed letter conveyed impressions of suspicion on the part of the sender. In some instances, however, she psychometrized closed letters under fair test conditions. On one occasion she received a letter to psychometrize sealed with five seals, and at first declined to try it; but, subsequently consenting, she gave a minute description, which she sent with the sealed letter to her correspondent, who wrote a long letter detailing the minuteness of her description. One curious point about it was that it was written by two people; and Mrs. B. said, “I am constantly taken to the sphere of another person who is interested in the writer; there is such a blending that I am unable to feel clearly each distinct individuality."
Human hair is highly charged with the aura of the head from which it was cut, and is thus more powerful in producing impressions than a letter.
Some persons have the faculty of seeing panoramic views of society in days gone by pass rapidly before them when holding some personal object, such as a ring, article of dress (mummy-cloth, for instance), or a fragment of furniture, or an ancient weapon. But more conclusive experiments than are at present available are required before we can make a full analysis of this branch of the subject. A friend of the writer has this faculty developed to such an extent that, in passing through some of the older London streets, which were once fashionable, but are now devoted to lodging-houses and the residences of small tradesmen, he sometimes sees gay equipages drive up to the doors, and discharge their shadowy occupants, powdered and wigged, and decked in the finery of past periods, A weapon will bring back before the eyes the deeds which [Page 21] have been committed by its agency. But it may sometimes cause most unpleasant sensations. For instance, in an experiment performed in the Odessa branch of the Theosophical Society, a fragment of rope on which a man had hanged himself was given to the sensitive. This produced such a painful and repulsive influence on the mind of the psychometer, who was entirely ignorant of the nature of the object, that the experiment had to be discontinued.
A good example of clothing psychometrized is given by a writer before alluded to. [“ Platonist”, “Psychometry", by W. Q. Judge.) —
" I received from a friend, in the year 1882, a piece of the linen wrapping of an Egyptian ibis found on the breast of a mummy. I handed it wrapped up in tissue paper to a friend, who did not know what, if anything, was in the paper. He put it to his forehead, and soon began to describe Egyptian scenery; then an ancient city; from that he went on to describe a man in Egyptian clothes, sailing on a river; then this man went ashore into a grove, where he killed a bird; then that the bird looked like pictures of the ibis, and ended by describing the man as returning with the bird to the city, the description of which tallied with the pictures and descriptions of ancient Egyptian cities."
The case of Bishop Polk, who tasted brass or other metals from contact with his hand, has already been alluded to. This faculty of tasting by contact is not confined to metallic substances. Acid and alkali, sweet and sour, can be readily distinguished by a psychometer, and in many cases substances named, when held in the hand — if solids, wrapped in paper, if liquids, contained in phials, — such, for instance, as sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard, cloves, and other spices. All such substances have their appropriate auras, which act through the nerve-aura of the sensitive. A number of instances might be quoted, but the case of the Bishop sufficiently illustrates this branch of the subject.
The subject of taste naturally leads us on to that of medicines, which is one of the most interesting branches of psychometry, as it has an important bearing on the science of Therapeutics. Also, considerable attention has of late been devoted to it. It has even gained the notice of French physicians, who may be said to lead the fashion in Europe in the electro-biological branches of medicine, as the Germans do in physiology, and the English in surgery.
The first record which we find of this Therapeutic action of the aura of drugs is in Dr. Buchanan's book, which contains a document signed by forty-three out of a class of about one hundred and thirty medical students, who psychometrically experienced impressions of the actions of different materia medica specimens enveloped in paper, and held in the hand, whilst they sat listening to a lecture. The substances were in most cases well-known drugs with powerful actions — such as emetics, cathartics, and soporifics; and it was necessary that they should be, for if the students had not previously experienced their [Page 22] actions upon their own bodies, they could not be expected to recognise them psychometrically.
In "La Semaine Médicale" for August, 1885, there is an article on this subject by Doctors Bourru and Burot, of the French Marine Hospital at Rochefort, and in a pamphlet published by them in 1886 under the title La Grande Hystérie chez l’ Homme, there is a further account of their researches. In making experiments in metalloscopy, or the action of metals applied to the body of a patient they discovered that with a certain hystero-epileptic patient suffering from partial paralysis and loss of sensation, gold caused a burning, not only when in contact with the body, but also from a distance of some inches; and that iodide of potassium caused sneezing and yawning.
They tried other metals, and found that a plate of copper on the right forearm caused first a trembling of the forearm, then of the whole arm; that platinum on the side of the patient which was paralysed caused a violent itching and made him scratch himself; that steel caused a transfer of the paralysis from one side to the other, with accelerated and laboured respiration. Continuing their experiments they found certain substances produced a marked effect, others did not. Amongst the latter were silver, lead, zinc, glass, etc. Amongst the former were the metals alluded to above. Then they tried vegetable drugs, and found that opium applied to the head produced profound sleep. At first they made their experiments with the drugs in contact with the skin, but subsequently found that their results were more reliable without contact, as the application of many of the drugs to the skin caused a local action which masked the general action. The following method was adopted: — The medicinal substance, whether solid or liquid, was placed in a test-tube, which was then enveloped in paper, so that neither the doctors nor the patient could see what was contained in it. The tube thus prepared was placed two or three inches from some part of the body, generally the hand or nape of the neck, but sometimes covered parts of the body, such as the back. The action of the drug could also be determined by placing it beneath the patient's pillow. When the experiments were made the subject was in his normal state of consciousness. As the experimenters did not know what drug they were giving, “suggestion" was impossible.
The action of a drug generally commenced about two or three minutes after the test-tube was placed near the part of the body chosen for the experiment. It was found necessary to dilute powerful drugs, for they caused toxic symptoms, and their action was so violent as to make it impossible to watch the medicinal effect. Most drugs were found to produce first of all a more or less violent reaction of the nervous system, which soon passed off; the symptoms due to the specific action of the drug then appeared.
Narcotics — all produced sleep, but each had its own appropriate character. Opium caused immediately a deep sleep with regular breathing and normal [Page 23] pulse. The patient could not be awakened. Chloral produced a snoring sleep, from which the patient could easily be aroused by blowing on his eyes. Morphine was similar in its action to opium. Several other narcotics were tried; and the symptoms they occasioned were recorded.
Emetics and Purgatives — were tried, and produced the symptoms characteristic of the drugs used.
Alcohols — produced very distinct symptoms. Ethyl-alcohol almost immediately brought on immobility. The patient's eyes were half closed and his body swayed about. He got up and hiccupped, walking with stumbling gait, dancing, and singing bacchanalian songs in a drunken voice. Presently he laid himself at full length on the ground, eructated and vomited. At last he fell into a deep and heavy sleep. On awakening, he hiccupped, complained of headache and the taste of brandy, and said that he must have been drunk. He had not been accustomed to strong drinks. In the case of a woman who was used to alcohol the drunkenness was not so pronounced. Champagne caused a merry intoxication, with skipping and sexual excitement. Pure amyl-alcohol brought on furious drunkenness. The subject beat his breast and tried to bite. His rage lasted twenty minutes, and could not be stopped by compression of the eyes, camphor, or ammonia. He believed that he was fighting with brigands who were trying to cut his throat. Pure absinthe tried with a female caused some excitement at first. Then she tore her hair like a mad woman. Then she raised herself up and wanted to walk, but could not, as her legs were paralysed.
Antispasmodics produced a very different effect. Orange flower water caused the patient to fall suddenly into a calm and tranquil sleep, which came on naturally, and without fatigue. Camphor caused, first, contraction of all the muscles, then complete relaxation of them with sleep. Cherry-laurel water had a most extraordinary effect on a woman. She fell at once into a state of religious ecstasy, which lasted more than a quarter of an hour. She raised her eyes and stretched her hands towards the heavens, her whole attitude being one of beatitude. Her eyes were suffused with tears. She fell on her knees, bowed her head and clasped her hands before her lips in an attitude of prayer. Soon she prostrated herself in adoration, and wept with her head touching the ground; her expression varied in accordance with her posture, portraying adoration, supplication, repentance, and prayer. Then she fell on her back, and convulsive movements of the chest came on, her face expressing pain. At last she fell into a calm sleep. On being somnambulized and questioned, she said that she had seen Mary the Holy Virgin, clothed in a blue robe with stars of gold. Her hair was fair and her figure plump. She looked so good and sweet that she would like always to see her, that unfortunately she was not of her religion. The Virgin reproached her for leading a disorderly life and told her to pray that she might change her conduct; then gave her a blessing, and lastly threw her on her back for being [Page 24] a sinner. On awakening, the woman, who was a Jewess of loose morals, mocked those who spoke to her of the Virgin. When the experiment was repeated it always produced a similar result. It was found to be the essential oil in the cherry-Iaurel which produced the ecstasy and the hydrocyanic acid which produced the convulsions. Many other drugs were tried with marked success; amongst others valerian, which caused in two patients great excitement and strange symptoms similar to those which it produced in cats. The subject capered about and loudly snuffed up the air through the nostrils; then scratched a hole in the ground with both hands and tried to put his face in it. If the valerian was hidden he found it by snuffing; and having found it threw himself on it, scratching and biting the ground.
In their experiments with drugs the doctors were able to distinguish two distinct actions, psychical and physical or bodily. The former consisted in hallucinations of a variable nature, which were probably special to the patient; the latter were constant, and consisted in salivation, vomiting, sleep, intestinal contraction, sweating, etc., etc., etc., the appropriate symptoms of the drugs employed.
Experiments with medicinal substances are extremely interesting and will probably prove of service in the advancement of medical science, but they should never be attempted by any but a medical man who is well versed in the physiological actions and uses of drugs. Otherwise a great danger would be incurred. Besides, the experiments would be valueless from a scientific point of view, for no one without special training can accurately record symptoms, any more than a man who is not an engineer can manage the engines of a ship, and understand in what respect they are out of order when they go wrong.
It would appear from the foregoing account that it was the aura of the drugs which acted upon the patients through their aura, or astral body, which, according to the testimony of clairvoyants and sensitives, is always deranged or weak, frequently paler than is normal, or of a different colour, in places where the physical body is diseased or weak. It is claimed for mesmeric healing that it restores tone to these weak or discoloured portions of the astral body, and that the physical body soon recovers, following the changes that take place in the astral counterpart. This suggests the idea that in homeopathic medicines, triturated to an extreme decimal, it is the aura of the drug which operates on the patient's aura. Certainly a number of sensitive persons have told the writer that homeopathic remedies suited their constitutions, whereas strong-bodied people with no physical sensitiveness have told him that no homeopathic dose ever produced the slightest symptom in them.
It would be very interesting if Indian medical men would report the results of testing psychometrically the auric influences of Kusa grass, pepul, tulsi, and other grasses, leaves, and woods connected with religious ceremonies. [Page 25]
As the physiological actions of drugs have been discussed, a few words on certain extremely unpleasant effects which may be produced in a psychometer by shells may not be out of place. The fact in question was discovered by a Mr. Jones, of London, who verified his results by experiments with four different sensitive subjects. He says [ See "Mesmerism" by Dr. Williams, M. A.] that he was first drawn to the inquiry by the circumstance of a female, to whom his son was showing his conchological collection, complaining of pains while holding one of the shells. His method of experimenting was simply to place one in the subject's hand: the Purpura cocolatum in about four minutes produced contraction of the fingers and painful rigidity of the arm, which effects were removed by quick passes without contact from the shoulder off at the fingers. One day he purchased about thirty shells. In the evening he tried twelve of them, one of which caused acute pain in the arm and head, followed by insensibility. He removed the patient to a sofa, took the shells off the table, and placed them on a side-board. In a short time, to his astonishment, the patient, while still insensible, gradually raised her clasped hands, turning towards the shells on the side-board, and pointing at them with outstretched arms. He put down her hands, but she raised them again. He had her removed to another room, separated from that containing the shells by a nine-inch wall, a passage, and a lath and plaster wall; yet, strange to say, the phenomenon of raising the hands and bending the body in the direction of the shells was repeated. He then had the shells removed to a back room, and subsequently to three other places, one of which was out of the house. At each removal the position of the hands altered according to the new position of the shells. The patient continued insensible with a short intermission till the evening of the fourth day. On the third day, the arm of the hand that had held the shells was swollen, spotted, and dark-coloured. On the morning of the next day, those appearances had gone, and only a slight discolouration of the hand remained. The shells that acted most powerfully were the Cinder murex and the Chama macrophylla. Mr. Jones experimented with another sensitive shortly after this occurrence, but did not use the most powerful shells. She was similarly affected, but not so severely; and only remained in a state of torpor for a few hours — in her own words, she “felt cold, contraction of the hand, shiver right through me, pain up the arm, pain in the eyes and head, dizzy feeling".
On the use of psychometry in the diagnosis of disease, much has been written, but mostly by people who were ignorant of medical science; consequently their testimony is of but little evidential value. However, we may take two hypotheses to work upon, but whether they will stand the test of further and more critical investigation it is at present impossible to say: —
(1) That a psychometer can, by holding a patient's hand or some object belonging to him, by deep and benevolent sympathy subjectively identify himself [Page 26] with the sick man and vibrate in consonance with him, so to speak, to the extent of feeling in his own body the pains felt by the patient; and by this method can say what organ is perverted from performing its normal function.
(2) That a psychometer, when more or less abstracted from surrounding objects and concentrating his attention on the patient, can with his psychic eye — " the eye of Rudra" of the Eastern mystic writings, said to be situated above and in front of the space between the eyes — see the astral counterpart of his patient's body, and from that form a diagnosis concerning the nature and location of the disease.
In most of the recorded cases, such as those of Puysegur, Du Potet, and Cahagnet, the psychometer was previously psychometrized, or thrown into a state of trance. A further difficulty is in the fact that the character of medical science has changed, that the fashion, if we may so call it, in disease, drugs, and medical terminology has passed through many phases since the day when these old adepts in psychology gave out the results of their researches. No new works on the subject have been written of late years by men whose testimony is worthy of credence.
One reliable case is known to the writer, in which both the psychometer and the sensitive were acquaintances of his. The former, a private gentleman, who had trained for some years the psychic senses which he had possessed all his life, saw the aura of the patient as a pale blue ethereal substance. Without knowing the seat of disease, he described the aura of that locality as appearing to him yellowish and muddled. At best this but shows the seat of disease — not the nature of it. Psychometry must do much more than that if it is to supersede the accepted methods of medical diagnosis, which its more devoted adherents claim that it should, and will eventually do.
A good plan for ascertaining who does and who does not possess the psychometric faculty is to place a number of letters in plain envelopes and distribute them to a number of friends who are interested in the subject and willing to assist in the experiments. Tell them to hold the letters given to them on the top of the head, on the forehead, or in the hand, and to sit quietly for a few minutes — with the mind as far as possible made negative. Tell them if any thought or emotion bubbles up, so to speak, in the mind, that they are to describe it. Take, say, half-a-dozen of those whose results are the best, and, by a process of natural selection and survival of the fittest, the best two or three psychometers may be selected.
As a general rule, persons of highly strung nervous organization make the best psychometers. It is important to select persons of intelligence and education, as the ignorant cannot always clearly express what they feel or see. For the most part, women are better for the purpose than men, but this is far from being a universal rule. Persons of a very positive disposition can seldom "sense" things. An intelligent child makes a good psychometer for the simpler [Page 27] experiments, if not too restless and fidgety. If persons on the first trial do not succeed as well as might be desired, it may be due to the strangeness and novelty of the experiment, which distracts their thoughts and prevents them from becoming passive and impressionable. If they manifest any signs of possessing the faculty, it is worth while to try them every day for some time, as practice may develop their power to a remarkable degree. It is often necessary for them to find out how to use their psychic sense. This also applies to thought-transference. Psychic organs, if we may so call them, may be developed and made strong by regular and appropriate exercise and training for their sphere of action, as the limbs of an athlete for running, jumping, and the like. And, similarly, no amount of training will make a really good athlete or psychometer of a man who is not born with a physique suited to the one or the other. Furthermore, in both cases, a suitable diet is a matter of importance.
To develop receptivity, a light diet is advisable. It is better to give up alcohol and butcher's meat. This is no great hardship to a psychometer as a rule, for many psychics have a natural aversion to strong meats and strong drinks. Some letter or personal object, strongly imbued with the writer's or owner's magnetism, does very well to begin with, and gradually the psychometer may be led on to objects which have not so strong an influence. A quarter to half an hour with several intervals is quite long enough for a sitting. And this may be done every day for a considerable time. But psychics should be carefully watched, and, if any suspicious symptoms occur, all experiments should at once be broken off for a time, however interesting they may be, and the sensitive should be urged to lead an energetic life, taking an active interest in the pursuit of daily life, never allowing his or her mind to be passive. For, if receptivity be carried too far, the door may be opened to outside influences of an evil tendency.
The following rules for conducting experiments may possibly be found useful by the reader who wishes to put the question to a practical test; —
1) The best number of persons is three, one to psychometrize, one to hand the objects, and one to record in a notebook everything as it occurs.
2) The psychometer should sit in a comfortable chair, his own if possible, as otherwise he may psychometrize some one who sat in it previously; the back of it should be long enough to support his head. If he can work with bandaged eyes, So much the better, as it prevents distraction by surrounding objects. Many prefer to work in this way.
3) Wrap a number of the objects to be used in paper, making them look as much alike as possible, So that no one in the room can distinguish one from the other. The paper should be new, just taken from a packet, as otherwise some person who has handled it may be psychometrized.
4) It is a good plan for the one whose duty it is to pass the objects to sit or stand behind the psychometer's chair, and to place the objects on the top of [Page 28] the subject's head, holding them there until he takes them in his own hand and disposes them according to his fancy.
5) If no effect is produced by one object, take a rest for a few minutes, then try another object.
6) Do not talk while the experiments are actually going on; but between them it is good to talk sufficiently to keep the psychometer from getting wearied, the objects already psychometrized being the best subject for conversation.
7) A warm dry climate is the best for psychical experiments; and there should be no metal ornaments on the psychometer, or objects in his immediate vicinity.
It is not always easy to think of objects for experimentation, so perhaps the following list may be found useful as a groundwork, the particulars being filled in according to circumstances.
a) Personal: — as letters, hair, apparel, jewellery.
b) Antiquities: — as fabrics, ornaments, manuscripts (papyri, black-letter books, etc.), ancient weapons and musical instruments, etc., etc.
c) Fossils: — of animals and plants from different places, the localities being known.
d) Geological objects of different periods and localities: — as stones, metals, lava, etc. ; also stones from buildings.
e) Coins: — old and new.
f) Books: — [ it is claimed that every book has its aura. If so it is probably imparted by the people who read the book. If an old book were found to have an effect on a psychometer, it would be interesting to try if a new, unread one would equally affect him.]
g) Photographs: — of persons, of paintings, and of views. [They should not, however, have been handled, or even looked at by a number of people.]
It is of the utmost importance that everything should be recorded as it occurs. For the human memory is treacherous. It would take a Stokes or Loisette to carry in his head the details of a whole series of similar experiments; and hearsay evidence is of no practical value. It is of the utmost importance that no one in the room should know the object of the experiment, in order to preclude the possibility of “suggestion", which may be employed unintentionally.
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