By far the most exhaustive and satisfactory experiments in thought transference are those which
were performed by or under the auspices of the Psychical Research Society of London. Anyone, who wishes to
study a vast collection of cases and statistical tables, cannot do better than read the numerous reports which
have been issued by that Society. As, however, these reports are not within the reach of many of the Indian
branches of the Theosophical Society, a certain number of cases, typifying the different branches of the subject,
will be here quoted for their benefit and guidance in experimenting.
As regards a hypothesis to explain the nature of the transfer, the Psychical Society do not postulate one, though they discuss the various theories of muscle-reading, nervous induction, brain-waves, etc. In an article on the subject in the Report for July, 1884, Oliver J. Lodge, D. Sc., Professor of Physics in University College, Liverpool, comes very near the auric theory; he says ; —
" In using the term 'thought-transference' I would ask to be understood as doing so for convenience, because the observed facts can conveniently be grouped under such a title. If I held any theory on the subject I should be more guarded in my language, and require many words to set it forth. As it is, the phrase describes correctly enough what appears to take place, viz., that one person may, under favourable conditions, receive a faint impression of a thing which is strongly present in the mind, or thought, or sight, or sensorium of another person not in contact, and may be able to describe or draw it more or less correctly. But how the transfer takes place, or whether there is any transfer at all, or what is the physical reality underlying the terms ‘mind’, ‘consciousness', ‘impression', and the like; and whether this thing we call mind is located in the person or in the space around him, or in both or neither,........ I have no hypothesis whatever. I may, however, be permitted to suggest a rough and crude analogy. That the brain is the organ of consciousness is patent, but that consciousness is located in the brain is what no psychologist ought to assert; for just as the energy of an electric charge, though apparently on the conductor, is not on the conductor, but in all the space around it; just as the energy of an electric current, though apparently in the copper wire, is [Page 4] certainly not all in the copper wire, and possibly not any of it, so it may he that the sensory consciousness of a person, though apparently located in the brain, maybe conceived of as also existing like a faint echo in space, or in other brains, though these are ordinarily too busy and preoccupied to notice it."
Although this shows that physiologists have not yet demonstrated the existence of an aura surrounding the nervous
centres of man, and connected with the universal aura surrounding our globe, yet it contains no statement which
militates against such a theory.
Two persons are necessary to carry out any experiment in thought-transference. They are commonly termed the Agent and the Percipient. The former concentrates his mind upon the figure, number, colour, or picture, i.e., on whatever he wishes to transfer, forms a visual image of it, generally at a short distance in front of his face — in his aura, as a matter of fact — then by an act of volition drives this image, or whatever else it may be, over to the percipient — in whose aura the impression is received. The latter keeps his mind as negative or passive as possible, the aura being plastic with that condition of mind. Presently the thought, figure, or colour, comes up in his consciousness, whence, or in what manner, he is unable to say; or in some cases a picture of it may arise, as it seems to him, before his mind, more or less vividly; or it occurs to him to perform some action, he knows not why; indeed, he does not reason about it, for he is keeping his mind as passive and impressionable as possible. The percipient may have his eyes bandaged and his ears plugged. In many cases he prefers being blindfolded, as he is not then distracted by surrounding objects. The stress of work falls on the agent. For to concentrate the mind upon a given object, or more especially to keep a sustained visual image of it in the “mind's eye" for two or three minutes, requires a very considerable expenditure of energy. There are comparatively few men who can repeat the process many times at a sitting. The work of the percipient is comparatively easy, if he has the necessary capacity, which is not possessed by everyone in a sufficient degree for successful experimenting: it is not necessary for him to be in a condition even bordering upon trance; but simply to sit in a state of quiet expectancy, waiting to catch any idea that may come to him. Success depends mainly upon these two qualities – concentration on the part of the agent, and sensitiveness, or impressionability, on the part of the percipient.
In some cases a screen is placed between the two. A picture is placed on the side of the screen facing the agent,
but which cannot be seen by the percipient. The former fixes his attention upon this picture, and endeavours
to transmit it to the mind of the latter.
If several persons are in the room, the experiments are found to be more successful if they all think of the object. The explanation of this may be that the collective concentration of several reasons impresses the image or thought more powerfully on the mind of the sensitive, or merely that it prevents them [Page 5] from thinking of other objects and involuntarily impressing them upon the sensitive, thereby distracting him, and interfering with the work of the agent. It is not unreasonable, however, to suppose that several agents thinking of the same object might give it a confused appearance to the sensitive, for they would be unlikely to make their visual images of the same size, and some of them would be likely to form very bad images or only images of some part of the object at a time. For as Galton has shown in his “Inquiry into the Human Faculty", many persons cannot clearly visualise an object; either it comes or goes, or is very dim; or they can only see a portion of it at a time.
A good idea of the manner in which this faculty may be developed in
a family may be obtained from a paper on the subject written by the Rev. A. M. Creery, B.A., whose daughters
were amongst the best percipients tried by the Committee of the S. P. R.”...I resolved to investigate
the whole question of the action of mind on mind. For this purpose I employed four of my children between the
ages of ten and sixteen, all being in perfectly robust health, and a maid servant about twenty years of age.
Each went out of the room in turn while I and others fixed on some object which the absent one was to name
on returning to the room. After a few trials the successes predominated so much over the failures that we were
all convinced that there was something very wonderful coming under our notice. Night after night for several
months we spent an hour or two each evening in varying the conditions of the experiments and choosing new subjects
for thought-transference. We began by selecting the simplest objects in the room; then chose names of towns,
names of people, dates, cards out of a pack, lines from different poems, etc., in fact, any things or series
of ideas that those present could keep steadily before their minds; and when the children were in a good humour
and excited by the wonderful nature of their successful guessing, they very seldom made a mistake. I have seen
seventeen cards chosen by myself named right in succession without any mistake. We soon found that a great
deal depended upon the steadiness with which the ideas were kept before the minds of the thinkers, and upon
the energy with which they willed the ideas to pass....
“I may say that this faculty is not by any means confined to members of one family; it is much more general than we imagine. To verify this conclusion I invited two of our neighbour's children to join us in our experiments. On the first evening they were rather diffident, and did not succeed; on the second they improved; and on the third they were still better......
“The distance between the thinkers and the thought-reader is of considerable consequence. As a rule, the best results take place when the distance is not more than a yard or two; but under very favourable mental conditions we have often had four or five cards named right in succession, while the thought-reader was placed in a room on a landing above that in which the thinkers were assembled. [Page 6]
“On questioning the children as to the mode by which
they form their judgment of the ideas that came before their minds, I find all agreed in this. Two or three
ideas of objects of the class with which we are experimenting come before their minds, and after a few moments'
reflection they select that which stands out with the greatest vividness. At present we are not in a position
to theorize very far on this subject, still we cannot help asking ourselves the question: How are the motions
of the brains of the thinkers communicated to the brain of the thought-reader ? Is there such a thing as direct
action between mind and mind ? Or are' brain waves' set up in some intervening medium, either in the luminiferous
ether or in a nerve atmosphere developed at the time in the cerebra of the thinkers, by which the corresponding
idea is called up in the mind of the thought-reader ? ............"
These queries have been already discussed and answered, but they are interesting as showing how near Mr. Creery, who had in all probability never heard of the occult theory of aura and astral light, came to the conception of them by his own independent reasoning or intuition. His paper shows how experiments in thought-transference, so far from being a wearisome labour, may form a pleasant occupation in which a family may pass an hour or two every evening, and occasionally entertain their neighbours by a display of their skill.
To discover what members of a family make the best percipients, it is only necessary for them to take turns,
and one go out of the room, while the rest think of an object. It will soon be manifest who are the most successful
thought-readers. It will generally be found that children and females are the best, though amongst them some
will be better than others.
Success is far more easy to obtain if there be contact between the agent and percipient, either by the hands or by one of the agent's hands placed lightly on the head, neck, back, or some other part of the percipient's body (outside his clothes). Such contact is advisable in the earlier experiments, but should be gradually discontinued as they proceed, and greater facility of transference is obtained. As a stepping-stone between contact and non-contact it is a good plan for agent and percipient to hold opposite ends of a stick, then of a slack piece of wire. [ Some very striking experiments in thought-transference through a long coil of copper wire were in 1874, successfully made in the Sheffield School of Yale University, in America, by Professor W. H. Brewer and his colleagues; the percipient being a Mr. J. R. Brown. The agent being placed in the cellar and the percipient in the amphitheatre, three floors above, and a copper wire laid on between the two, the latter mentally read and executed orders mentally communicated by the former. Among others, the agent — Professor Porter, if my memory serves — willed that Mr. Brown should take a piece of chalk lying on top of the blackboard and place it somewhere else in the room. The widest publicity was given to the facts at the time, but I have none of the printed records with me here in India for reference. – H. S. Olcott ] If success follows their efforts with only the slight connection [Page 7] of the wire, there is very little doubt but that they will soon succeed even without that frail link. The Committee on Thought-transference of the S. P. R. have most emphatically stated their opinion " that wherever contact is permitted, success in the performance of the desired action must be attributed to indications given by the 'wilIer' — that his unconscious and involuntary variations in pressure are unconsciously and involuntarily, or consciously and voluntarily interpreted by the percipient. The same objection naturally applies to all cases where the subject writes down something which is in the agent's mind — the action, due to unconscious guidance, being then the movements of the pencil or chalk". Now, whilst we quite admit that much may be done in the way of perceiving by muscular pressure the directions involuntarily given by the agent, we do not believe that for the more complicated actions they afford a sufficient explanation, and even in the case of the more simple we believe that they frequently play but a small part. The public performer Cumberland is probably nearer the mark when he ascribes his performance to a natural gift which he possesses. That is about as near as an uneducated man would be likely to get to an idea of the way in which the thoughts were transmitted to him. In the majority of cases what is gained by contact is in all probability synchronicity of vibration between the agent and the percipient. Their minds, or rather their auras, are, so to speak, tuned alike: so that, if a certain note is struck on one, the other immediately takes it up, as is the case of two tuning forks; or, if a note is sounded near a piano, it is taken up by the strings, which when struck have the same length of vibration, or in other words sound the same note.
It is an interesting fact to which attention was drawn by Dr. Salzer
in a letter to the Statesman on
the occasion of Cumberland's visit to Calcutta, that animals — e.g., ants, bees, beetles, birds,
pigs, rats, and horses — can
apparently impart information to each other by the contact of certain parts of their bodies. [ Further
information on this subject can be found in “Ants, Bees, and Wasps", by Sir John Lubbock, and “Animal
There is every reason to believe, as argued by Butler, that what he calls instinct, a natural power of perception closely allied to thought-reading, was highly developed in man before the growth of language; but that it has naturally fallen into little more than a potential faculty through disuse. So what is required for thought-transference is not so much the development of a new faculty as the revival of one well-nigh obsolete. Synchronicity of vibration — and consequently the faculty of thought-transference — is frequently found to be developed naturally to a considerable extent in persons who live together in close sympathy, having the same objects in life and thinking the same thoughts, as often happens in the case of husband and wife, mother and daughter, or two friends living together. In some extreme cases it would almost seem as if there were one mind common to the two. The same thoughts [Page 8] frequently occur to both simultaneously, or the same musical air, or the idea of performing the same act. When they are separated, if one is ill or in trouble, an unaccountable depression is not infrequently experienced by the other. Experiments in thought-transference may be arranged in various ways. The following classification has been made more or less arbitrarily according to the nature of the thoughts transferred, and may be found useful by persons conducting experiments; but at the same time it must be kept in mind that there is only one method of thought-transference which holds good for all the classes.
1) The Transference of Directions.
The " Willing " game, Pin finding, etc.
2) The Transference of Visual Impressions.
(a) Of Form — e.g., Objects, Numbers, Geometric Figure, Pictures, etc.
(b) Of Colour.
3) The Transference of Sensation.
(a) Physical — e.g., Pain, Taste, Smell.
(b) Mental and Moral — e. g., Anxiety, Fear, etc.
4) The Transference of Words, Names, Sentences, Tunes, Concrete Ideas, such as Historical Scenes, Apparitions [ not the partially materialized double, but only the subjective impression of seeing it, caused telepathically by an act of volition on the part of the agent], etc.
5) Abstract Thoughts and Ideas.
1) The Transference of Directions. — This is one of
the simplest kinds of thought-transference, and for that reason it forms a good starting point for persons
who have had no previous experience in such experiments. In the form of the "willing" game it may
readily be practised with children, because it is almost certain to be successful, and thus to inspire them
with confidence. which is a great point gained, and also because they take great interest and pleasure in the
experiments, which will carry them on to such other trials of skill as do not to the same extent partake of
the nature of a game. The following is the message which was adopted by the Odessa Branch of the T. S. It has
the advantage of showing what members of the family are sensitive.
The person who is to act the passive part is chosen by those assembled, and then leaves the room until it has been decided what his task shall be. The agent is also selected by mutual assent, and in this way all the members are tried both as agent and percipient. Contact is made by placing one hand on the neck of the sensitive. The tasks chosen to be accomplished in their experiments were for the most part of a simple character, such as finding a pin, or other object hidden in some part of the room, or discovering an object without knowing what it was; but success was also obtained in more complicated [Page 9] problems; as, for instance, on one occasion, it was required to take a bundle of seven similar keys out of the pocket of the host, to pick out that belonging to one of the three book-cases standing in the room, to open it, take a certain book from one of the shelves, bring the book to the table at the other end of the room, and open it at a certain page. This somewhat complicated experiment was successfully performed, the subject being blindfolded and having no previous idea of the sort of thing he was expected to do. He did not manifest the least hesitation, but got through the whole performance in about seven minutes. The members of this branch found that about eighty per cent. of their experiments were completely successful, and only about eight per cent. were total failures.
2) —The Transference of Visual Impressions.— This is a large and inclusive category. Since sight is the sense which we use most extensively in everyday life, we are apt to refer everything to sight; and so closely is this sense allied to that of thought, that, as shown by Galton, many persons first see an idea in a definite shape, and, it may be, in colours of definite hues. But this is beside the question, for we are now dealing with the transference of the picture of objects in black and white or in colours from one mind to another . From an abundance of experiments we will cite some :—
(a.) Form. — "Professor Hopkinson and I (Professor Balfour Stewart) went to the house of the Rev. A. M. Creery at Buxton. There were present besides Mr. Creery, Miss Mary Creery, Miss Alice, Miss Emily, Miss Maud, Miss Kathleen (children); and the servant Jane.
After a few preliminary trials, the following guesses were made, the guesser going out of the room until some object was thought of by the company, when she came in and tried to guess what object was in the thoughts of all. No questions were asked nor observations made by the company. (No contact. )
First.— Definite objects thought of:
I. Pipe.— Alice guessed plate, paper, then pipe.
2. Fork.— Maud guessed it at once.
3. Cup.— Emily guessed it at once.
4. Corkscrew — Jane guessed it at once.
5. Tongs — Miss Mary guessed fire-irons, and then poker.
Second.— Cards thought of:
6. Three of Clubs.— Jane guessed three of Spades, then three of Clubs.
7. Queen of Clubs.— Miss Mary guessed three of diamonds.
8. Four of Clubs.— Maud guessed five of Clubs, then four of Clubs.
9. Ace of Diamonds.— Jane guessed ace of Clubs, then ace of Diamonds.
10. King of Spades.— Jane guessed four of Diamonds, then six of diamonds. [Page 10]
11. King of Hearts. — Maud guessed knave of Hearts, then king of Hearts.
12. Ace of Spades — Maud guessed right at once.
13. King of Diamonds. — Professor Stewart tried and guessed ten of Diamonds.
14. Three of Diamonds. — Mary guessed right at once.
15. Ace of Hearts. — Alice guessed right at once.
16. King of Clubs. — Professor Hopkinson tried and guessed knave of Spades, then four of Hearts.
17. Mr. Creery and Professor Stewart tried, but could not guess.
Third. — Numbers thought of:
18. Forty-eight thought of — Jane guessed 34, 44, 84.
19. Sixty-seven thought of — Miss Mary guessed 66, then 67.
20. Fifty-five thought of — Maud guessed 54, 56, then 55.
21. Eighty-one thought of — Alice guessed 71, then 81.
22. Thirty-one thought of — Emily did not guess it.
23. Eleven thought of — Kathleen did not guess it, etc., etc.
I ought to state that the object thought of was marked on paper by one of the company, and handed round silently,
so that all present might be aware of it.
I ought also to mention that the thought-reader was aware of the general character of things thought of; for instance, that it was definite objects in the first place, cards in the second, and so on.
Out of 260 experiments made with playing cards in different places by members of the committee specially appointed to examine into and report upon thought-transference, the first responses gave I quite right in 9 trials; whereas the proportion of correct answers, according to pure chance, would be 1 quite right in 52 alstri. For there are 52 cards in a pack.
Out of 79 trials made with numbers of two figures the first responses gave 1 quite right in 9 trials; whereas the proportion of correct answers according to pure chance would be one quite right in 9 trials. These proportions are not as great as those in the instances that have been cited above, the reason being that the power exhibited by the Misses Creery fell off considerably.
When geometric figures or pictures formed the subject of experiment, the percipient had to draw the figure or
picture thought of. The manner in which these experiments were conducted was as follows:
“The percipient, Mr. Smith, is seated blindfolded at a table in our own room; a paper and pencil are within his reach, and a member of the committee is seated by his side. Another member of the committee leaves the room, and outside the closed door draws some figure at random. Mr. Blackburn (the agent), who, so far, has remained in the room with Mr. Smith, is now called out, and the door closed; the drawing is then held before him for a few seconds, till its impression is stamped on his mind. Then, closing his eyes, Mr. [Page 11] Blackburn is led back into the room and placed standing or sitting behind Mr. Smith at a distance of some two feet from him. A brief period of intense mental concentration on Mr. Blackburn's part now follows. Presently Mr. Smith takes up the pencil amidst the unbroken and absolute silence of all present, and attempts to reproduce upon paper the impression he has gained. He is allowed to do as he pleases as regards the bandage round his eyes; sometimes he pulls it down before he begins to draw; but if the figures be not distinctly present to his mind he prefers to let it remain on, and draws fragments of the picture as they are perceived. During all this time Mr. Blackburn's eyes are generally firmly closed (sometimes he requests us to bandage his eyes tightly as an aid to concentration), and, except when it is distinctly recorded, he has not touched Mr. Smith, and has not gone in front of him, or in any way within his possible field of vision, since he re-entered the room
”When Mr. Smith has drawn what he can, the original drawing, which has so far remained outside the room, is brought in and compared with the reproduction. Both are marked by the committee and put away in a secure place."
A large number of the drawings thus produced — both in London
and also in Liverpool with different agents and percipients — have been photographed and reproduced in
the reports of the S.P.R. It is unfortunate that they cannot be reproduced here, as they constitute, perhaps,
the most satisfactory of all the experiments performed. The drawings of the percipient are in most cases wonderfully
like the original. In many cases, however, they were found to be inverted, or perverted. It seems to be a matter
of accident whether the object is drawn by the percipient in its actual position. Horizontal objects are never
described as vertical nor vice versa. Slanting objects generally have the right amount of slant, but it may
be in the opposite direction from that of the original. In many cases the objects drawn were such as could
not easily be described in words, being quite irregular in character: sometimes they were grotesque, pictures
of animals or human faces. They were never familiar objects. The grotesque and irregular ones were imitated
fairly well, though, as is only natural, they were found to be more difficult than those which were more harmonious
Another method was adopted in Liverpool for ascertaining what persons made good agents and percipients for the transference of figures. It will be found easier than the other by persons whose power of concentration is limited. The modus operandi is as follows :
“An improved method has been to place the drawing on a stand with a wooden back between the agent and ‘subject' (i.e., percipient), and the agent, placing himself at the opposite side of a small table, either joins hands with the subject or, by preference, does not touch her at all, but gazes at the drawing until the ‘subject ‘ says she has an impression thereof. The drawing is then [Page 12] taken down and concealed, the blindfolding is removed, and the ‘subject’, being already provided with drawing materials, proceeds to delineate the impression she has received."
It is impossible to say how many drawings were correct, as the standard must be an arbitrary one. A great number were decided successes; a number of others reproduced part of the drawing; a number gave a general idea of it without being at all exact as reproductions; and there were naturally a good many failures.
(b.) Colour.—It is not more difficult to mentally transfer colour than form. In many experiments both are combined. It is, however, difficult to transfer more than two colours at a time, as also it is to think of more than two separate colours at once. The following examples of this were obtained at Liverpool from a series of experiments conducted by Mr. Guthrie. The experimenters were Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Birchall, Miss R., Miss R—d, Miss J., Miss E., and Miss C. In most of the experiments there was no contact.
|Miss J. ....||Miss R. ......||A large spot of scarlet silk on black satin||"A round red spot"|
|do||do||A triangle of blue silk on black satin.||"The colour is blue.... like a diamond....cut off"|
|All present||do||A half-crown||"Like a flat button..... bright....no particular colour."|
|do||do||A small gold ear-drop||"Round and bright...yellow....with a loop to hang it by"|
|do||do||A red ivory chess knight||".....It is red.....broad at the bottom....then very narrow....then broad again at the top....It is a chessman"|
|do||do||A diamond of pink silk on black satin.||"Light pink....I cannot make out the shape."|
|do||do||A child's toy, brightly coloured, red, yellow, and blue, and moving up and down on a stick, by means of which the arms and legs were alternately drawn together and separated||"I see red and yellow and it is darker at one end than the other. It is like a flag moving about...Now it is opening and shutting like a pair of scissors"|
3) The transference of sensation.
(a.) Physical — (e.g., Pain) : — The first experiments were made by Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Smith (with contact) in the presence of Messrs. Myers and [Page 13] Gurney, one of whom held a sofa cushion close before S.'s face, so that vision I of anything the other side of it was impossible: and he was also blindfolded; the other pinched or otherwise hurt B., who sat opposite S., holding his outstretched hand. S. in each case localized the pain in his own person after it had been kept up pretty severely upon B.'s person for a time, varying from one to two minutes;
|Part rendered painful||Answer|
|Left upper arm||Left upper arm.|
|Lobe of right ear||Lobe of right ear|
|Hair on top of head.||Hair on top of head|
|Left knee||Left knee|
A number of experiments were also made in Liverpool, of which the following are instances :
|Back of the neck pinched with scissors||"Dull pricks back of neck."|
|Tumbler of cold water held in hand||"Something in the right hand..
..a sort of cold feeling."
|Nostrils tickled||Could not say, but kept putting her hand to her nose as if feeling very uncomfortable.|
|Biting the end of the tongue.||"It is in the lip or the tongue."|
It was found much more difficult to transmit an imaginary pain than a real one.
(ii). Taste.—Numerous experiments in taste-transference were performed. They were for the most part successful. Pepper, salt, mustard, cloves, peppermint, oil, vinegar, cheese, aniseed, camomile, quinine, nutmeg, and many other substances were tried. Very few experiments of this kind can be performed at a sitting, because of the difficulty the agent experiences in getting rid of one taste completely before another is begun, and if this is not done the experiments frequently fail.
(iii.) Smell. — Eau-de-cologne, lavender-water, camphor, carbolic-acid, smelling-salts, musk, etc., have been tried with a fair measure of success, but, as in the case of taste, not many can be tried at a sitting.
(b.) Mental and moral feeling.— Experiments cannot very
well be made in the transference of emotions of joy, grief, etc. But it not infrequently happens that when
a person is in great danger or pain, someone at a distance, husband, wife, or friend, whom the person in danger
or pain thinks about, experiences great depression or anxiety, and sometimes connects it with the [Page
if we may use the term in this case. We do not hear of joy being transferred, but there are many instances
of grief. The following letter, which appeared with many others in one of the S.P.R. reports, is an instance
of this phenomenon: —
" DEAR SIR, — The circumstance about which you inquire was as follows:— I left my house, ten miles from London, in the morning as usual, and in the course of the day was on my way from Victoria Street, Westminster, having reached Buckingham Palace, when, in attempting to cross the road, recently made muddy and slippery by a water-cart, I fell and was nearly run over by a carriage coming in the opposite direction. The fall and the fright shook me considerably, but beyond that I was uninjured. On reaching home, I found my wife waiting anxiously, and this is what she related to me :—She was occupied in wiping a cup in the kitchen, which she suddenly dropped, exclaiming, 'My God! he's hurt.' Mrs. S., who was near her, heard the cry, and both agreed as to the details of the time, and so forth. I have often asked my wife why she cried out, but she is unable to explain the state of her feelings beyond saying, ' I don't know why, I felt some great danger was near you.' These are simple facts, but other things more puzzling have happened in connection with the singular intuitions of my wife.
" Yours truly,
"T. W. S."
4) The transference of words, names, etc.- In the case of words and names, given a fairly good agent and percipient, thought-transference is comparatively easy, though, as a rule, there are a fair number of only partial successes and not a few complete failures. The Misses Creery guessed a large proportion right without contact, of which one or two examples will suffice: —
"Names of towns: —
Macclesfield.—Jane did not guess rightly, then sat down and shortly afterwards guessed rightly.
York.— Maud guessed Ashford, then York.
Paris.— Miss Mary did not guess rightly.
Chester.— Jane guessed Manchester, then Chester.
Peter Piper. — Alice guessed at once.
Blue Beard. — Jane guessed at once.
Tom Thumb.— Jane guessed at once.
Cinderella. — Jane guessed at once.
Sentences:— (from experiments at Liverpool) written by Miss Crabbe, Gordon College.
" Next we tried reading sentences, written on the background (a large piece [Page 15] of white cardboard), the rector of — , being agent, and his daughter percipient. I wrote in a large hand, DON'T KILL DOGS, then THOU SHALT NOT KILL, both of which were read by Miss M. Then Mr.— , acting as percipient, and Miss — as agent, I wrote up, BE QUICK. Mr. — said ‘Be q-u-i-e-t.' ‘ No,' said we, ‘not quite right'. ‘No', said he, ‘the last two letters are c-k, not e-t? It is Be quick,’..............”
A good example of involuntary thought-reading of a sentence by a child
was reported in the Spectator: —
“I had one day been spending the morning in shopping, and returned by train just in time to sit down with my children to our early family dinner. My youngest child — a sensitive, quick-witted little maiden of two years and six weeks old — was one of the circle. Dinner had just commenced, when I suddenly recollected an incident in my morning's experience, which I intended to tell her, and looked at the child with the intention of saying, 'Mother saw a big black dog in a shop, with curly hair', catching her eyes in mine for an instant before speaking. Just then something called off my attention, and the sentence was not uttered. What was my amazement about two minutes afterwards to hear my little lady announce, ‘Mother saw a big dog in a shop.' I gasped. ‘Yes, I did,' I answered; ‘but how did you know ? ' ‘With funny hair', she answered, quite calmly, and ignoring my question. ‘What colour was it, Evelyn ? ' asked one of her elder brothers ‘was it black ? ' She said, ‘ yes’....
“I had not remembered the circumstance until I fixed my eyes on my little daughter's. I had, had no friend with me when I had seen the dog........
” I am, sir, etc., Caroline Barker, Fernedene, Sheffield."
Concrete ideas, such as historical scenes, etc.
(From the Liverpool experiments conducted by M. Guthrie.)
“For the next experiment an historical scene was proposed; it was agreed to think of ‘Queen Elizabeth walking ' — with an event to follow. The event intended by Mr. Guthrie was Queen Elizabeth surrounded by her courtiers walking to her barge. Coming to a muddy place she hesitates, and Walter Raleigh steps forward and spreads his cloak for her to tread upon. These details were not given by Mr. G. to the other thinkers. All that was done was to write the short sentences given above on a slip of paper, which Mr. G. held in his hand as he went round the company. It appeared, however, on inquiry afterwards that all surmised what was coming, and thought of the full scene. There were two trials. At the first trial, without contact, Miss R. said: ‘The letter M; something moving backwards and forwards, like a lot of people walking'. (Mr. G., ‘Distinguish one of them'.) “Can't see one. ...letter M like two archways'. In contact with Miss R — d, she said, ‘a lot of small faces moving about. ...can't distinguish anyone in particular. ...I see a lot of [Page 16] people. Oh! it is a picture. It is Queen Elizabeth walking from her palace to the barge, and Sir Walter Raleigh spreads his cloak for her to walk upon'.
“In another experiment it was agreed to think of a scene. Miss R. was requested to leave the room. In her absence it was decided to think of Cinderella, the Prince kneeling before her, trying on the glass slipper. On Miss R.'s return she was blindfolded, and isolated. Presently she appeared to be very much amused about something, and laughed, but could not be induced to tell what she saw. ...Afterwards the experiment was renewed, Mr. B. kneeling down before one of the ladies to represent the scene. Miss R, again displayed much amusement, and finally asked, ‘Is it Cinderella ? ' She was asked what she had seen, and replied, ‘I saw a little girl in rags sweeping up the hearth, and the fairy god-mother looking in at the door' Asked if this was what she saw before, said, ‘Yes, but I did not know what it was'. Asked why she did not tell us what she saw, she said, ‘I could not suppose you would think of any picture like that'. When told of the actual picture thought of, she said she had no idea of it. The picture she had described was very distinct; — she saw the little girl sweeping the hearth and the little woman looking in at the door, but she did not know who they were."
Tunes. — Amongst other experiments performed at Liverpool,
all present thought of a tune, one of them beating time with his hand, so that all could mentally sing it in
time together. The percipient was brought in blindfolded, and in some cases succeeded in recognising well-known
airs. She could not, however, succeed in naming more than one at a time, as she could not banish the first
tune from her mind.
Apparitions. — A man may by a powerful act of will impress his own image upon the minds of persons at a distance, just as much as he can the image of any other material objects, such as a pair of spectacles or any other things, such as have been described in preceding experiments. It is necessary that the percipients should be in a very passive condition, as, for instance, in sleep. This power is often extremely strong about or shortly before the time of death. This is the true explanation of many of the cases of visions of dying persons and messages from them subjectively seen and heard by relatives or friends at a distance, it may be, of thousands of miles. In some cases, however, the double is actually projected. It is only a matter of degree between the two. No hard and fast line can be drawn between them. For in actual projection the first thing to do is to focus the mind on the point to which it is desired to project the astral, and then to imagine (or form a mental picture of) the double in that place.
In the following case, one at least of the percipients was asleep.
“One Sunday night last winter, at 1 a.m., I wished strongly
to communicate the idea of my presence to two friends, who resided about three miles from [Page 17] the
house where I was staying. When I next saw them, a few days afterwards, I expressly refrained from mentioning
my experiment; but in the course of conversation, one of them said 'You would not believe what a strange night
we spent last Sunday ; and then recounted that both the friends had believed themselves to see my figure standing
in their room. The experience was vivid enough to wake them completely, and they both looked at their watches,
and found it to be one o'clock."
There was no pre-existing mesmeric rapport between the persons concerned. Similar impressions from persons in a dying state are so numerous that well-attested cases have come to the knowledge of most of our readers. So it is unnecessary to cite any such anecdotes here. Besides, they are outside the scope of this pamphlet, which is intended to direct persons who are desirous of performing experiments in thought-transference and psychometry. For it would, indeed, take an ardent experimenter to induce in himself the necessary moribund condition on the bare chance of impressing his image on the mind of some distant percipient.
V. Abstract thoughts and ideas. — It not infrequently happens that when two persons are thinking out the same problem, the solution seems to come to both simultaneously, so that both begin to utter it at once. Or that if one is thinking on some philosophical subject, the other begins to discuss the same subject. However, this branch of thought transference does not very readily lend itself to experimentation.
It only remains for us to add that the officers of the Theosophical Society will be glad to receive records of experiments in Psychometry and Thought- transference. But, to be of use, those experiments must be complete, and include all failures as well as all successes or partial successes. Much evidence is still wanted, more especially in Psychometry, of which the scope and capacity of extension are virtually unlimited, before it can be established on a sound basis as a science. The more work is done in investigating it, the sooner will this result be attained.
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