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vol. 2, p. 17
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 2 (January 1874 - April 1878)


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< Another Eminent Convert (continued from page 2-16) >

"Du zollst der wissenschaft mit zait und geduld !”

From the above specimen one can have a correct idea of the general character of the communications that one gets at such seances, in such conversations one is constantly groping his way in the mysteriousness of vague and illusive answers. If you ask a direct question, you will seldom get a direct answer.

Dr. A. had prepared a whole list of questions, on the answers to which he had reckoned to help in clearing up some of the mystery. The table either answered him evasively, or did not answer at all. True enough, all those questions were offered mentally, having been first written out. But the same occurs with verbal questions. For instance, on being asked what was the cause of this power which produced the spiritual manifestations, the table replied thus :

“Geist und stoff.” (Spirit and matter:) To Dr. A---'s suggestion that the word “geist” (spirit) was the synonym in this case of “force,” the table said:

“Kraft ist nicht immer Geist; Geist ist immer Kraft.” (Force is not always Spirit; Spirit is always a force).

Several times the phrases spelt out, exhibited evident signs of childishness, sometimes, even of absurdity. These interviews with the table remind me wonderfully of those other incoherent conversations, with no head or tail to them, that we follow up sometimes in our dreams.

Allow me here a short digression, for I now want to say a few words about the universality of these mediumistic phenomena, and discuss it as well as any slight knowledge of the subject will permit. I repeat again, I am thoroughly convinced of the reality of these manifestations, for my conviction formed itself slowly, was brought about by reasoning, and enforced itself upon me by a long series of individual proofs, all of which were carefully revised, verified and examined by myself under every aspect. When some manifestation happened to leave me at the time of one seance in the slightest doubt, I watched it more carefully than ever at the next one; and if its genuineness offered the slightest ground for suspicion, I never recorded it with the rest of those which remained in my eyes indisputable. Therefore, I do not mention here any of those manifestations that I could not most positively vouch for.

All these phenomena have most certainly their origin in ; general physical laws and therefore are subordinate to the latter. Certain outward conditions must influence them, undoubtedly. For instance, the cold or the dryness of the atmosphere affect their progress. That the power, which calls out ; these manifestations is centred in the mediums is another undeniable fact, as the mediums present to us individuals in whom the activity of the nervous system has peculiarities which are not to be found in others. By this I do not mean to imply that the said action differs substantially from the same action in other nervous people. Not at all! It even seems to me probable that all such persons are more or less mediumistic ; but developed mediums are apt to display the manifestations of this action in a maximum degree. In their presence especially m the presence of such strong mediums as D. D. Home for instance, the manifestations can be produced unconditionally, without either spiritual apparatus, seances or tables. But the occurrence of this action evidently is subject to variations. That is why spiritual seances very often turn out to be so fruitless. Home told me himself that his mediumistic powers left him altogether for months at a time.

This power is supported, strengthened and develops itself by and through the persons forming the circle,—and the parties included in it, are drawn into a peculiar state of disposition according to the condition of the medium himself. Undeniable facts go towards proving to us that the nervous disposition of the latter is communicated to the former.

Thus, we find in the chronicles of Spiritualism several recorded cases, where the most anti-mediumistical persons received the gift of mediumship after having been present at several seances, with a very powerful medium. It becomes evident thus, that this faculty can become contagious, like many nervous diseases. I am perfectly aware of the fact that from a physiological standpoint the above explanation is deficient; but it is hard to think of any other which could better describe the existing facts. I cannot accept the explanation of it, which Faraday attempted, some twenty years ago,—that it is simply an unconscious action of the muscles or the profoundly absurd theory of “unconscious cerebration.” <... continues on page 2-18 >