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Ferry Over Jordan by Margery Lawrence 1944

 

X. ON MAGIC, MIRACLES, OCCULTISM AND THE PHENOMENA OF THE SEANCE ROOM

It was, I think, somewhere about the year 1490 that Pico della Mirandola declared that “ no science gives greater proof of the divinity of Christ than Magic and the Kabbalah”.

This will sound to some people positively blasphemous - and yet what are the miracles performed by Christ but forms of what is vaguely known as “ magic” ?

“ But is there such a thing as magic?” will be the incredulous demand. The answer is (to echo the great Joad!): “ It depends on what you mean by magic!”

If by “ magic” you mean an art, or science, or study that can produce supernatural happenings, the answer is “ No” , because there is no such thing as the “ supernatural”! Everything that can possibly happen on this planet must obey some natural law, even though we do not understand that particular law; but if forces are brought into play about which the ordinary person knows nothing, things may come to pass that are very startling and out of the normal run of life - and then in fear and disapproval we call them “ supernatural”. Nothing of the sort! The things that Christ did (which, it must be remembered, were frequently repeated by His Disciples) were supernormal - but not supernatural. All Christ did was to bring into play certain littleknown laws of nature which He knew how to command and control. Those laws temporarily superseded the usual laws of nature - displaced them, shall we say, for a time - and lo, a miracle, to the eyes of the uninitiated!

Christ was a Master of Magic, because He was Master of those Unknown Laws. Many people, both before His day of life on earth and since, have studied those Laws and know how to bring them into action - but they take considerable risk in playing with them. Christ, like all Great Masters, knew how to command and how to control these Forces of Nature - which are in themselves “ blind” Forces; neither good nor bad, but made so by the use to which they are put. But the history of mankind is starred with the tragic stories of men who learnt, like the “ Sorcerer's Apprentice”, to make these Forces their servants, and found that they had become their masters.

So if by “ magic” you mean an art that can make supernormal things happen, the answer is: “ Yes, certainly there is such an art, and magic is


 

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the time-honoured label for that art.” There is white magic, as unfortunately there is black magic also. Butthe difference between white and black is simply one of direction. The white magician uses his occult and arcane knowledge to call up and direct the Forces of Nature for the benefit of humanity in general; to increase his own powers so that he may work to help forward the cause of good, and for the furtherance of the knowledge and love of God in Man. And the Black Magician uses his knowledge for evil and destruction; for his own selfish advancement, to satisfy his own desire for power, for wealth or for revenge.

I have not space here - nor, to be frank, have I any desire - to go into details about Black Magic, though I would like to say that though there is much that seems merely either trivial or absurd, meaningless or actively disgusting to be found in records of old witch-trials, the meetings of the “ Sabbat”, accounts of the Black Mass and the like, behind these piecemeal stories of fantastic and apparently imaginary horrors stalks dark and dreadful Fact. These gibberings over cauldrons, these gatherings of herbs in moonlight, these moppings and mowings and wandwavings, are but shadows - and smoke-screens, sometimes - for the real magical ceremonies in which the Dark Forces are invoked and directed by the Magician who knows how to handle them. There is much interesting matter concerning Black Magic, for those who want to study it, in Charles Williams' ‘Witchcraft’, in ‘The Black Art’, by Rollo Ahmed, the ‘History of Witchcraft’, by Montagu Summers, and many others, while, used as a background to a novel, there is much practical knowledge of magic in Dennis Wheatley's exciting romance ‘The Devil Rides’ out. Fortunately none of these writers give any precise instructions or recipes for raising the Devil; so anybody who has a leaning in that direction is advised that he will be wasting his time by reading them! I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I likewise do not propose to give any information concerning Black Magic - except to advise my readers to keep away from it!

It exists. It can be employed by those who are prepared to study its laws - and to take the risk entailed by such study. It can do what it declares . . . and it is dark and dangerous as Hell itself. So enough of Black Magic.

Talking of Black Magic leads one inevitably to Occultism - although I suppose by making this assertion I shall be risking offending many brilliant and worthy occultists!


 

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But it is a fact, which I think few will dispute, that the majority of Black Magicians are drawn from the ranks of occultists rather than spiritualists - and for this reason. While Occultism in itself is a fine and worthwhile study, it can be a very dangerous trap for the feet of the unwary. Occultism is a certain way to Power - and few human beings can resist the lust of Power! The secrets that Occultism teaches, of the Control of Powers and Forces little known or understood by the ordinary human being, can be used all too easily for the gaining of personal power and aggrandizement. Too many students start out with the best of intentions, desiring nothing for themselves and meaning to serve humanity selflessly with whatever knowledge they gain - and too many weaken and fall for the temptation of Power, that subtle trap that according to legend the Devil tried even on the Nazarene. “ All this will I give Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me....”

Apart from this supreme danger, Occultism is a study that naturally tends towards laying so much stress upon the brain that the greater value of the spirit may easily be overlooked. The study of Occultism is apt to lead to intellectual arrogance - and most of us love to feel superior to our fellow-men. Without doubt the earnest student of the occult can learn many curious and wonderful truths, and develop quite remarkable powers; but he is apt to forget that spiritual understanding is worth more than any amount of intellectual attainment!

Oblique warnings against this intellectual arrogance are plentiful in the teachings of the Nazarene that have come down to us.

“ Blessed are the meek...”

“ Except ye become as little children ...” and many more.

Many occultists, vain of their brains, stuffed with knowledge as a housewife's store-cupboard is stuffed with home-made jams, forget that unless they cultivate the things of the spirit also (which include kindness, patience, tolerance, and above all, humility) they will find, once arrived on the Other Side, and having left their so-carefully-stuffed brains behind with their bodies, that they cut a very poor figure beside many un-lettered, ignorant souls at whom they once scoffed during their day of life on earth! They will find that those souls possessed what they did not the spiritual insight and understanding that is true Knowledge love, faith, hope, and above all, the humble desire to serve God and their fellow-men without any idea of reward.


 

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I may have been unlucky - but I have rarely met an occultist who was truly humble, at least before humanity in general. Humble before his superiors in his own science, maybe - but in most occultists I scent a faint flavour of patronage or superiority towards the common herd who know not Occultism! Many occultists adopt a specially-superior attitude towards the study of Spiritualism, which they patronizingly describe as “ elementary” .

Whether they also dismiss as “ elementary” the brains of the long list of brilliant and famous people that I have quoted in Article No. 1, who one and all declare their allegiance to Spiritualism, I don't know. But knowing how absurdly far the arrogance of many occultists will carry them, it would not surprise me.

There are various different paths of approach towards the understanding of the Great Law, and the four best known are those of Mysticism, Philosophy, Occultism and Spiritualism. All have their followers, though the first two perhaps fewer than the last two - and the difference between Occultism and Spiritualism is as the difference between the Head and the Heart. Strictly speaking, these two should be studied together, as each can help and complement the other. But many people who have neither the opportunity nor the mental qualities to study Occultism, can and do grasp the truths of Spiritualism - and for this reason.

Spiritualism works mainly on the Love-Ray - Occultism on the Power. All men instinctively reach after love, since all men, wise or foolish, possess hearts that can feel. But power? As a rule it is only the ambitious who reach after power - and ambition is already a trap for souls.

Truly Love and Power should develop together! But if one is forced to a choice, it is better to be guided by the Heart than by the Head, to have Love as a pilot rather than Power – which is a point that occultists are apt to forget.

I do not intend insulting Occultism - I am a member of an Occult Brotherhood myself, and have learnt invaluable things from it, and hope to learn more. But I have always carefully refrained from devoting my entire attention to Occultism, as it has led me into the trap of Power in earlier lives, and I have no intention of falling into it again in this life! And I am sure that for the vast majority of seekers after knowledge, if one sole path must be followed (which is all most of us have time for!),


 

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the path of Spiritualism is the best to choose. Spiritualism is a path that the weakest, the most faltering, can climb, feeling sure that the hands of friends are there to help and steady him. Moreover, those who choose Spiritualism as their path can later on, if they will, learn much occult wisdom also, as much of this is taught by many of the Greater Guides to chosen pupils, when they judge they are ready to learn. In the “ Inner Circle Teachings” of many of these Greater Guides, I have been taught occult secrets that complement and even surpass the occult teaching I have received via my earthly Masters, great as they are . . . so that is the answer to those occultists who patronizingly declare that Spiritualism is merely “ baby stuff” , confined to talking to one's dead relations!

People, I think, are less interested in White Magic than in Black - I suppose for the same reason that people find, as a rule, stories about good people less interesting than stories about bad! Goodness in life is too often merely negative - a refraining from being positively bad instead of being vigorously and actively good - so that the good person is too often merely somebody too inert or too apathetic even to bestir himself to sin. I remember one Guide saying reflectively of a certain person we were trying to help “ I would have more hope for So-and-so if he would only bestir himself into committing some active sort of sin! It would at least show some sort of ‘aliveness’, whereas at the moment he seems to me more like a drifting jelly-fish than anything else.”

The Masters of White Magic, however, are very active. They are to be found all over the world - and all those whose ideals are high and who try to live up to them, no matter what their caste and creed, condition or colour, are indeed members of the White Brotherhood, whether they realize it or not.

There are many Masters, of course, in tha East, where psychic science has been studied and understood for centuries past - but there are also many in the West, in England, Scotland and Ireland, in France, Holland, Scandinavia, even in Germany and Japan, though in these last two countries the White Brothers are having a hard fight not to be swamped by the ghastly weight of the Black Forces who are in command of these lands at present.

There are White Lodges, great Centres of the White Brotherhood, dynamos generating untold psychic force, scattered quite literally all over the earth. Some of these Centres are physical - by which I mean they are ordinary buildings made of earthly materials like stone and wood, and the people working in them are ordinary people like you or


 

me. But at the same time these people are not “ ordinary”. They are exceptionally highlytrained and developed souls who have elected to “ retreat” to one of these Centres in order to spend their lives in psychic work of various sorts, to help in forming a solid bulwark of Spiritual Force that may keep back the Dark Powers who are eternally trying to crush out for ever the Light which is the sole hope of the world. But before I describe these Centres further, I feel I should include here a very interesting talk that I had with one of the leading Guides about a year ago (1942), when we were discussing the progress of the war and the varied stages of spiritual development in the fighting countries.

“ From where we Guides are” (he said), “ looking down at your world we can see a cloud of dreadful blackness enveloping Germany, a dark red cloud enveloping Russia, and a heavy grey one over France. The black means that Germany has sunk, spiritually speaking, desperately low - and, indeed, it will take very many years for Germany to purge the ghastly sin of which she has been guilty. Her people as well as her rulers have sinned, since seed can only take root in fertile ground - on ground that welcomes it. And if the German people had not deep in their hearts a secret, sneaking worship of Mars and all he stood for, they would not constantly, over so many years, have thrown up martial leaders and accepted the evil theory that they alone had the right to rule mankind.”

Here I interrupted to ask a question that has puzzled many people. Why, if the German race is so backward in spiritual development, do they love music so, since music is essentially an art of the spirit? And why have so many great musicians developed there?

I was told that it was in the hope and endeavour that their national soul might be uplifted through its love of music that these greatly-gifted musicians had been sent to birth in Germany. But - see how the twisted Soul that persistently follows the Left-hand Path can make evil use of the Force that should only be used for good! Hitler, archmurderer and blasphemer, the soul who, above and beyond the slaying of millions of young people of other countries, has, in deliberately corrupting the youth of his own nation, committed the one unforgivable crime, the Sin against the Light, is a devotee of Wagner, whose Seventh-Sphere music is still but little understood on this earth, since its vibrations are so high!

PS. - I am told that of all the great musicians, Beethoven, Wagner, Wagner's later brother Mahler, and perhaps at moments Brahms, can catch most nearly the music of the spheres - which is a statement that will arouse furious argument, I know, amongst worshippers of Chopin, Mozart, Each, Handel and the like! But I merely repeat what I am told by the Guides, I

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do not quote my personal opinions - so I hope none of my readers will write to me in earnest defence of their favourites!

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I have just stated that the Great Force of Nature can be used for good or evil, as a Magician wills; and here indeed is a proof of the truth of what I say. Hitler, whether he uses magic consciously or not, most certainly uses it subconsciously, in that he draws upon the vital strength and force of Wagner's music, with its tremendous, awe-inspiring vibrations, to increase his own powers for evil. He could equally well draw upon it to increase his powers for good. But as in many lives before, he has chosen the Path of the Shadow, and it will lead him to destruction both here and in the world of the spirit, as inevitably as it always leads its disciples.

The Guide then told me that the heavy grey cloud that overhung France represented her apathy; that lethargic “ laissezfaire” , slangily-termed “ s'en foutisme” , that has been enclouding her for years before the war. It was this more than anything else that acted as the rot in the war­machine, that weakened it so that it collapsed before the oncoming Germans, despite the frantic efforts of a small percentage of real and earnest patriots to awaken the sleeping soul of France before it was too late. But even when the Germans stormed across the frontiers, there still persisted the fatal apathy, the fatalistic “ Que faire? Il n'y a rien a faire!” that made France so pitifully easy a prey to Germany. But now, thank God, as France awakens, the sullen grey cloud is becoming thinner and shot through with flashes and sparks of light that mean the rebirth of a country's soul! The red cloud that overhangs Russia is likewise typical of the stage of spiritual development that she has reached, though I am afraid that the Guide's explanation of this may not please certain people who, hold that Russia can do no wrong ! However, here it is as it was given to me.

Not one Guide, but several, told me early in the war that when Russia and Germany came to grips we could “ begin to see the end of the war” - and at that time I frankly did not believe it. Russia had just signed a pact of friendship with Germany, and war between them seemed, to say the least, wildly improbable. I was told that war had to happen between them, as speaking from the incarnationary standpoint (nations, like individuals, can incur Karma and have to work out their karmic debts), there was an old debt between them that had to be worked out.

I was told that Russia would suffer also, hideously and terribly, in her fight with Germany. But that in this suffering she would purge a large


 

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amount of the karmic debt she had incurred in the early days of the Bolshevist Revolution, when the foundations of the present-day Russia were laid - and laid in blood.

The Bolshevik revolutionaries manured the ground on which they hoped to plant their new state with the murdered bodies of over three million martyred Russians - their own people – and drove into exile, suicide, starvation, many thousands more. This immense debt of blood lies upon the Russian nation, and will lie until it is discharged in their own suffering - and in the anguish and struggle of this war they are discharging at least a part of it.

That, the Guides told me, is the reason for the red cloud that hangs over Russia. Less sinister than the black, it is still a cloud that shows that nation far from where it should be in spiritual development, whatever wonderful advancements it may have made in material development. Germany and Russia have both incurred the sin of blood - yet there is a vast difference in the quality of their sin!

Russia as a united nation is yet adolescent, and in her sinning she sinned as a young and ignorant adolescent sins, brutally, blindly, without quite realizing how deeply she was sinning! Germany sins far more deeply, since she is a nation old in knowledge, and she sins in full consciousness. She sins because she has chosen to sin. Over Japan also hangs the black cloud - and she must share Germany's fate in the end, spiritual as well as material.

Yet the Guide told me that even in these darkened countries, here and there the bright sparks of some spiritual centre shine out through the gloom, showing that the lights of the White Brotherhood still burn, though few and far between.

“ If you could see your world as I can see it” (he continued) “ you would see the various countries patterned with scintillating points of brilliant white light - and from the number and closeness of these we Guides can judge the spiritual standing of each country. Great Britain shines out in one great blaze of white fire, and Greece, her sister-island, is a solid blaze of psychic light also - and between these two countries run lines of brilliantly white radiation, like fine magnesium wires, showing how closelylinked they are, and how alike in pure spiritual quality.

“ Sometimes the lights show patchily, with an occasional big starry gleam showing where a White Lodge is operating, surrounded with smaller lights like satellites, showing smaller groups of power - this is a


 

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country still not wholly united in high spiritual endeavour, as are Greece and Great Britain, but bravely developing. Where the lights occur only in isolated sparks, this is a country just groping its way towards knowledge - but where ever the lights shine out we know that there are small Centres or circles, or groups, or even individual souls, Children-of-the-Ray, who are steadfastly holding their torches of Light high in the world. There is no country without its White Brothers, its Lodges, no matter how few or how small. And for these you should rejoice and thank God, for upon these depend the future of all mankind.”

Some of the Lodges or Centres, I repeat, are visible to us “ monasteries” or “ retreats” or “ brotherhoods” , living their own lives in country places. They seem quite ordinary - not very interesting little groups of people to the outside observer - and they live and move and do their work under that disguise. But there are other groups whose psychic work is of a different type, on a higher, more delicate vibration (though they are still physical and their Lodges also built of physical material on this earth) who are invisible to us, because they are surrounded by a Wall of invisible Force through which no man can pass - and you can walk within a foot of the outer wall of the Lodge garden and never know that it is there!

There are many Lodges of this kind all over the world - there is one, I am told, near Bombay, though that busy port, with its huge suburbs, business quarters and crowded residential district has no idea of its existence! And I know of another Lodge situated on a Highland moor. That moor is owned - and shot over - by a well-known sporting peer, and if I were to tell him that a large and busy community was living in an extensive and beautiful stone-built “ monastery” , with countless attachments such as outhouses, barns, stables, gardens and so on in the very middles of his property, only he couldn't see it, he would not unnaturally vote me as mad as the proverbial Hatter! And yet it is true. He and his guests tramp and shoot (or did so before the war) all over the moor - or so they think. But of course they don't. Whenever they come too near the invisible boundaries of the Lodge, they are deflected, and drift off, like the birds they are shooting, in another direction. They cannot penetrate the barrier that keeps intact the pure vibrations of the Lodge. The Unseen Wall protects the Brethren from all intrusion.

That laird can cross and recross his lands again and again, and be ready to swear that there is not an inch he has not covered and because a Veil


 

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has been drawn before his eyes by Those in Control, he will not dream that he has never even come near the Lodge and its Brethren. No aeroplane, even, can fly above it. It is isolated and protected from all the vibrations of the Outer World. And though the Brethren can, and do, leave it if their work makes it necessary for them to go to another part of the world, their Lodge will remain unknown to men, and so untainted.

Under certain conditions certain highly-developed men or women are permitted to enter, the barrier being raised for their entrance and lowered again behind them. They enter for a set purpose, or for special training - and leave as they came. But needless to say, they never mention their experiences there, so the world at large knows nothing of this.

There are even Higher Lodges that are purely psychic, based upon this earth but not of it - and these would naturally always be invisible to physical man, since they belong to the Fourth Dimension, while we function in Three Dimensions only. But the Brethren of these Higher Lodges, while still wearing the bodies of their own Dimension can, nevertheless, when their work takes them among men, at will assume a human aspect by “ condensing” their vibrations until their tenuous body becomes visible to us, and vice versa - which explains some of the rather curious stories one occasionally hears about the “ vanishing” of certain men before people's eyes! (There are several accounts of this in Madame Blavatsky's Life of the sudden appearance and disappearance of one of her Guides, whom she called Mahatmas.)

But in touching upon these matters I am venturing upon great esoteric mysteries whose scope is far too vast for inclusion in this “ book for beginners”! So I merely mention these things in passing to indicate a little of the deep and fascinating knowledge that lies ahead of the more advanced student, and propose to leave it at that - but I would say that the Brethren of these various Lodges, even while they are to all appearances just ordinary, human men like Brown or Jones or Robinson, can repeat, if they wish, all the “ miracles” performed by Christ on earth. They can practise levitation, they can control and direct the movement of physical articles, no matter how large or how heavy, can live without food and remain in perfect physical health for periods that would be completely impossible to the ordinary man, can perform amazing cures, “ transport” themselves amazing distances.

This is true magic - but it is not “ supernatural” . It is simply understanding how to employ and control certain laws of nature that are greater and more powerful than those by which, normally speaking, we live. The remarkable things seen and heard in so many seance rooms


 

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are done by the employment of these superior laws; and though these things may be doubted or derided by the ignorant, they remain true, and are only remarkable because they are strange to us, and we do not yet understand these super-laws of nature that bring about their happening.

The brilliant scientist Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, in his book ‘On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism’, declares that as we do not know all the laws of nature by any means, we cannot reasonably rule out the possibility of an unknown law overcoming a known one! He adds that a miracle (and equally any remarkable happening in a seance room) was “ any act or event necessarily implying the existence and agency of superhuman intelligences” .

Professor Richet's comment - and what a true one! - is “ the improbabilities of to-day are the elementary truths of to-morrow”. The pages of history are patterned with the names of men who have spent their live fighting to spread their knowledge of the truth in the teeth of human prejudice - and often died in the fight.

Newton grew so weary of his uphill battle to establish his discovery of the law of gravitation that he said to a friend that “ a man must either resolve to put forward nothing new, or else become a slave to defend it.” Galileo, discoverer of the movement of the earth, died starving in a garret, persecuted and derided by his fellow Italians, but stubbornly declaring to the end “ And still it moves!”

The world at large scorned Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, and Jenner, who discovered vaccination, was declared mad. Sir Humphry Davy called the idea of lighting by gas “ ludicrous” , and the difficulties and disbelief that hindered the discoverers of the railway train, the motor-car and the aeroplane, the microbe theory, the telephone and the wireless, are fresh in the memory of modern man.

So it will be seen that when we students and investigators of this science called Spiritualism declare our conviction - indeed, our positive knowledge - that happenings unexplainable by any ordinary laws do occur in the seance room, we do so knowing perfectly well that we shall be derided and misunderstood, as these other pioneers were derided and misunderstood! But we also know that in the end the truth of our discoveries will be admitted and declared to the world, even as the truth of these other discoveries has been admitted and declared at long last.


 

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I do not suggest that all our deductions are correct - how could they be? We are still merely scratching the surface of the mine of knowledge to be discovered, and inevitably, as more knowledge is gained, old theories will be discarded for new, which will be discarded in their turn. But that these things happen is a fact - the explanation of them remains to be discovered. First accept your fact and then seek the explanation - but many people still deny what not only Spiritualists, but hundreds of independen investigators drawn from every section of society have proved, by scientific demonstrations, to be facts!

To return to the subject of levitation. Whether this is done by the “ cutting” , by the use of certain supernormal laws, of the force of gravity that normally holds man to the earth or by the use of very strong ectoplasmic “ rods” such as are used in darkened room for the moving about of various articles, is still I believe, not quite clear.

Personally, I incline to the first theory, as, generally speaking ectoplasm does not take form except in darkness, or at least it a very much reduced light, and levitation frequently seems tc take place in comparatively normal light. On several occasions in my own flat, in perfectly adequate light, I have seen the medium and the chair she was seated in raised to a height of over foul feet from the floor, remaining suspended in air for several minutes and gently lowered again as though chair and medium were in an invisible lift. That remarkably gifted medium, Jack Webber, is on record as having been levitated on various occasions while seated in his chair, in red or white light, high into the air - in large halls he would touch hanging pendants fifteen to twenty feet high under the roof. And Arnold Clare, another fine medium, is frequently levitated at the close of seances.

For fuller accounts of this particular medium's life and work see ‘The Mediumship of Arnold Clare’ by Harry Edwards, in which arc several photographs of furniture, etc., in the act of levitation, also of the formation of ectoplasm very clearly shown.

In Dr. Alexander Cannon's book ‘The Invisible Influence’ there is an interesting account - though a rather disappointingly brief one - of the levitation of himself and his companions across a chasm, when they were on a journey; and in one of Madame David-Neel's books on her travels in Tibet (I regret I cannot be sure which, though I think it is called ‘Magic and Magicians in Tibet’) there are some amazing descriptions of the strange capacity of certain lamas to cover immense distances on foot while in a sort of semi-trance. According to her description they seem to “ skim” along the surface of the ground,


 

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remaining quite immobile, and can travel far farther and faster in this fashion than any normal man could possibly do.

There are many detailed and witnessed accounts of this feat, dating back many years in the study of Spiritualism. The famous Daniel Douglas Home, for instance, is on record as having “ floated” more than a hundred times at varying heights before credible witnesses; and the famous story of his floating horizontally out of one window, in at another on the floor above and back again, is almost too well known to be quoted here. The obvious comment, of course, is either that the medium is “ raised” by hidden wires and pulleys or else that the sitters are all hypnotized and “ imagine” they see the medium afloat.

If it were mass-hypnotism a photograph would not registerand there are several photographs on record of a medium poised in mid-air, with the sitters far below him. (One such photograph was published in the Daily Mirror in 1938, of Mr. C. Evans. an amateur medium, at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Street, London, in the act of levitation, with a group of sitters watching him below.)

I believe that the very first flashlight photograph of a medium in the act of levitation was one taken of Zuccarini, which, among other interesting drawings and photographs, is to be found in Dr. Nandor Fodor's book on mediums entitled ‘These Mysterious People’. So the mass-hypnotism explanation falls to the ground - one cannot hypnotize a camera!

And as for hidden wires - obviously there are cases where deliberate fraud, is organized. But considering that in every important sitting for phenomena the room is searched and analysed, the furniture tapped and tested, the medium stripped, her clothes, hair, pockets, hand-bag and so on examined immediately before the sitting by the sitters themselves, it would be difficult indeed, if not impossible, for contraptions of this kind to go unnoticed. And I have seen remarkable instances of all kinds of psychic phenomena, including levitation, in my own flat, and in the flats of friends, where most certainly no wires, pulleys or anything of that sort could possibly have been put up without our knowledge and consent!

The explanation of these amazing performances that seem to - that do, indeed - contravene every known law of nature, is that, through their instruments the mediums, the Guides take the opportunity of demonstrating and proving that there are other higher laws of nature than those we know. And that given true knowledge and the power to


 

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use that knowledge in the right way, man can do, quite literally, almost anything.

Whether the much-discussed fire-walking powers possessed by certain natives is due (as some people say) to their rubbing the soles of their feet with a certain preparation that “ proofs” them against burning, or whether they do this by the conscious usage of one of these higher laws of nature, that “ cuts” the burning power of fire as pulling out a plug from the walls cuts off the current of electricity, I cannot possibly say. It remains a moot point. But remembering that on one occasion at least a European has taken part in this experiment, and remained untouched until the last moment, when he felt suddenly frightened and promptly got burned, reminds one of when Peter tried, in emulation of His Master, to walk on the water, and succeeded as long as he kept his eyes on Christ. But when he took them off he grew frightened and began to sink.

This walking on water is by no means unknown among Western mediums. One of the best authenticated cases of it is recorded of Maria Silbert, a famous Austrian medium who died some years ago. According to contemporary accounts, she frequently used this facility to take a short cut across a lake that lay near her home, and was seen in the act of doing this by various witnesses, who recorded their accounts of it. It is, of course, only another form of levitation.

There are very many different and interesting types of phenomena to be observed in the séance room. Materialization of forms, faces, hands and so on by the use of ectoplasm (which I have endeavoured briefly to explain in Chapter 4 “ On Mediums”.) The movement of luminous­painted objects while the medium is roped and tied, the playing of instruments by spirit hands and the singing of spirit voices (again with the medium firmly secured, and often with her mouth filled with water or sealed with adhesive tape). The writing of messages inside sealed slates or boxes, the appearances of flowers, books, dolls, all manner of other things, through the solid walls of the seance room . . . it would take too long to detail all of them here, and the reader is advised, if this angle of Spiritualism particularly interests him, to look up ‘Psychic Phenomena’ in Dr. Fodor's exhaustive Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science, or to buy one of the many books that deal with psychic phenomena. The phenomena called “ apports”, which entails the much­discussed passage of matter through matter, is one of the most


 

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interesting - and to the onlooker, the most puzzling - of all the varied wonders of the séance room.

How is it possible to bring into a locked and sealed room - empty but for the medium, the sitters and the chairs they sit on - not only such comparatively slight matters as flowers, handkerchiefs, little stones or crystals, sprayings of delicious perfume and the like, but vastly larger articles such as the following?

A brass serpent, a poised cobra standing three feet high and weighing proportionately heavily. A carved wooden image of Ptah two feet high, standing on a little heap of sand. Ancient missals, leatherbound and heavy, marble figures, a hammered iron vizard . . . a large ivory box of the Italian Renaissance period measuring a foot square and filled with red and black chessmen, and other similar things ... all these and many other things are on record as having been brought “ through” into a locked seance room to show the wonderful powers of the Guides. And the procedure (they tell me), briefly put, is this:

All life, physical as well as non-physical, is controlled by vibrations - and things only seem solid to us because they respond to the same group of vibrations as we ourselves do. But there are other, much higher, vibrations. And because they understand the use of Higher Laws, of which as yet we know nothing, the Guides can so alter the speed of the vibration of the object they desire to bring into the seance room, that its atoms can “ pass” , as it were, between the atoms of the matter through which it is passing - in this case the wall of the seance room! Once on the other side, the vibrations of the object being apported are allowed to resume their normal rhythm, with the result that the apport becomes visible to the sitters within the room. (Materialization.) On leaving the room the apport goes through the same process - i.e. it “ dematerializes” , in other words, its vibrations are changed and heightened so that it can pass through the matter composing the wall. And once back in its own place it resumes its usual vibration once more, and so “ reappears” , or rather “ materializes” .

I know the answer to this will be, “ But the wall is solid! How can anything pass through it? “ The answer is that it isn't solid! We only think it is - as we think our bodies are solid. If they were truly solid, we could not, as I have already pointed out, have a broken bone photographed through our flesh. The X-ray can “ see” through flesh unhindered, as the wireless can pass unhindered through walls, rocks, houses all round the world. These, up to date, are the two prime proofs


 

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that there is no such thing as real solidity. There are only varying degrees of vibration, and the slower and heavier the vibration, the denser and more sluggish, the more “ solid” our matter appears to us. The higher we go in the spiritual worlds, the purer and faster are the vibrations.

The impression prevails in some quarters, even with people who are comparatively experienced in spiritualistic investigation, that apports are made by the spirits who send them into the seance room. This is not so. Apports are things already existing in the world outside the seance room. They are “ borrowed” - sometimes from the other side of the world, from distant prairies or deserts or mountains, from gardens, from the depths of the sea, from libraries or museums or private houses . . . they are borrowed for the sake of demonstrating the scientific fact that, given the right conditions, matter can be passed unharmed through matter. And they are returned unharmed afterwards - unless they are articles gathered from the wilds, as small crystals, precious stones, a leaf or branch, a scrap of carving, of silk, or some fragment of writing that, being under no personal ownership, can be given to the sitters as mementoes of their experience. I myself possess a tiny diamond that “ came through” at one such sitting; and all the other sitters likewise had some similar little stone, crystal, quartz, agate or what not. And I can assure my readers that the medium was a woman most certainly not in a financial position to go out and buy a dozen semi-precious stones simply in order to impress her circle of sitters!

The passing of these inanimate things through apparently solid walls is interesting enough - but there are cases on record where a living creature has been so passed. I have described in detail, one such occurrence in my book ‘The Bridge of Wonder’, but will condense the description here, as many of my readers will not have read that book.

In the case of this particular story the “ scene” was the drawing-room of a house in Kensington, and the sitters numbered about ten or twelve. The medium and her Guide were well known to all of us - we had sat together regularly for some time; and, indeed, I understand that remarkable tests such as this one can only be done when the medium and her group of sitters are very closely and harmoniously en rapport with each other. After the usual preliminary greetings, instructions, advice and so on concerning various matters the Group had in hand, the Guide informed us that he would like to try a wonderful experiment -


 

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the passage into the locked séance room and out again of a living creature.

Now down in the kitchen the house cat had recently had four kittens - one black, one black and white and two tabby. The Guide informed us that he was going to try and bring one of these kittens through into the seance room, and he advised us to search the room thoroughly first, so as to assure ourselves that no kitten was hidden there, also to telephone down to the kitchen and find out whether the tale of kittens was complete. It was. All four were in the basket with their mother. We searched the room, the medium and each other so thoroughly that nothing larger than a fly could have escaped our vigilance, and then we resumed our seats, satisfied that nothing living was in the room but ourselves and the tranced medium. (I must add here that the room was red-lit, but everything was perfectly visible.)

We were told to arrange the medium's limp hands in her lap one upon the other in the form of a cup, the palms turned upwards, and for several minutes we sat in silence. Then a faint patch of light began to show, shining between the medium's uncurled fingers, and by degrees it grew brighter and brighter until it was about the size of a toy balloon, the colour a pale rather icy-blue with a golden core, and so bright that it lighted up the sleeping medium's face above it. Then the Guide told us to rise, still holding our hands together lest we break the current, and come close round the medium's chair - and curled asleep in the heart of the light, in the cup formed by her hands, lay, sleeping quite happily, one of the tabby kittens!

We went back to our seats and watched the light fade out slowly from the medium's hands, and with the fading of the light the kitten vanished. (We later heard that it had been missed by the cook, who had been conducting a frantic hunt all over the place to discover how one of the kittens had vanished from the basket right under her nose, and ten minutes later returned as mysteriously as it had vanished!)

The little creature had been hypnotized by the Guide, the vibrations of the atoms that composed its body heightened sc that the body would pass through the wall and reassemble itself within the medium's hands; and it was returned unharmed to its mother's side in the same fashion.

In saying this I know I shall be accused of talking impossible rubbish. But I can only tell what I saw - and give the explanation that was given to me.


 

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See also the account of bringing of a live bird into a locked seance room by Red Cloud, the control of Mrs. Estelle Roberts, described in her life-story published in the Sunday Pictorial, November 1938. See also well-known account of the introduction of a live dove into a circle at Boston, before eleven well-known and respected citizens. The seance room in this case had been locked and sealed for twenty-four hours before the sitting. There are several other similar

cases on record, all well witnessed, of this remarkable phenomenon.

I could continue almost in-definitely with similar stories of this deeply interesting side of Spiritualistic study, but my space is limited. I should, however, like to touch briefly upon one point that arouses much mirth among the uninitiated, and that is the employment of luminous trumpets, tambourines, plaques and the like in the seance room. Now I can quite appreciate that these things may seem peculiarly childish - but they are all employed for some definite reason and purpose.

I must say that I have never seen any tambourines in a seance room, and am inclined to think that that particular object is less used than it was in our mothers' day - but trumpets of varying sorts and sizes are often used. These are simply used as megaphones, and used to increase the volume of the spirit-voice trying - often for the first time - to speak. Trumpets are generally used in a “ Direct Voice Circle”, and they are usually ringed with luminous paint so that when they mount into the air and travel round the circle, resting at the person to whom the communicating spirit wishes to speak, they can be seen in the darkness which is usually needed for this type of sitting. The plaques are for the same reason likewise painted with luminous paint. These are used for showing faces, etc., which are “ built” against the paint so that the sitters can see what the Guide is trying to show, and for various other experiments too long to detail here. All these apparently trivial things are there for some practical purpose - and the most sensible thing for scoffers to do would be to get busy and try to find out why a thing is done rather than giggle at it out of sheer ignorance.

“ The laughter of fools is as the crackling of thorns under a pot… ”

I have infinite respect for a person who, having taken the trouble to try and find out at least a little about a subject, says “ Well, it makes no impression on me. I can't accept it!” or the other person who says: “ The thing scares me (or bores me) and I don't want to have anything to do with it.” All that is fair comment. But the people one meets (and their name is legion!) who, without ever having been to a seance, or read a book, or even held one serious conversation with anybody versed on the subject, still insist on laying down the law on Spiritualism as if they knew all about it, are a weariness to the flesh!


 

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This angle (the “ magical” side of Spiritualism) is a matter of endless interest and fascination, and still but little understood. The most important role that it plays is, of course, in attracting the attention of many keen and critical minds to whom the other aspects of Spiritualism have no appeal. It attracts these minds because it consists of comparatively tangible things that can be tested and analysed, probed and investigated by practical earthly methods, leaving the esoteric, or mystical, or semi-religious aspect of Spiritualism completely on one side. Many of the people who are deeply interested in these curious phenomena as studies have no interest, even disbelieve in Spiritualism qua Spiritualism.

Another interesting aspect of Spiritualism is one that I propose to discuss in my next chapter. The question of psychic healing.

ON PSYCHIC HEALING